In just the first of a coming avalanche of groups that will unveil their various movie awards/prizes/best lists, the New York Film Critics' Circle, considered one the more discerning groups of critics in the country, yesterday announced its 2011 award winners. Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist — a silent, black-and-white drama about the silent, black-and-white era of 1920s Hollywood — won Best Picture and Best Director.
Curious about where Sacha Baron Cohen, the Andy Kaufman-esque comedic genius behind Borat and Bruno, might set his satirical sights next? Wonder no more, as we now know the identity of his next character: climate change skeptic Lord Monckton.
Spike Jonze is a curious case.
Born into the Spiegel mail-order catalog fortune (his given name is Adam Spiegel), the teenage Jonze found solace in the skateboard/BMX bike culture of the 1980s. A DIY-bred autodidact with an oddball sense of humor, Jonze’s filmmaking “career” kick-started with a series of crafty skateboard videos that caught the attention of the Beastie Boys, who eventually recruited him to direct their playful, refreshingly lo-fi video for 1994’s “Sabotage.”
A series of inventive music videos followed, all of which were informed by Jonze’s boundless imagination and complete indifference to the flashy, jump-cut-laden techniques that flooded other MTV fare.
The 2009 Independent Spirit Awards were unveiled yesterday. And while the Academy Awards' more adventurous little brother has been leaning toward higher-profile specialty films in recent years (like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine), the ’09 batch hearkens back to the awards’ early days when ultra-low-budget indies ruled the scene.
It's interesting that Cole Smithey would evoke the name of Nicolas Cage when commenting on Liam Neeson's recent fondness for genre pictures that would seem beneath his talents. In his review of Unknown, which opens here at 12:01 a.m. tonight, Smithey says, “How Liam Neeson went from being that rare thespian animal of a leading-man character actor to a full-on action star while still keeping his artistic integrity is a mystery. It's certainly more than Nicolas Cage could do.”
While the latter is hard to argue against — though I'm not giving up hope on Cage just yet (see 2009's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) — I'm not so sure the former is still accurate.
It's already November? It seems like it just yesterday that The Hurt Locker took home a surprising (and much deserved) Best Picture win. We're now entering the stretch drive of the fall movie season, a period laden with the big studios' “prestige” films — those they believe have the best chance to grab awards love (thus bigger box-office numbers and the media attention that follows), none more important than that shown by the Academy.
A fine last-minute option for the movie buff on your Christmas list, the fifth edition of David Thomson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film was published in late October. I finally got around to cracking it open this week … and I’ve yet to close it. Thomson’s 1,076-page tome is as addictive as ever, bound to keep one engrossed as they move from entries that have appeared in every edition since the first, in 1975, to new and/or updated capsules on those who’ve emerged since his most recent edition in 2004.
Joaquin Phoenix told an E! reporter at a recent red-carpet Hollywood event, “This will be my last performance as an actor. I’m not doing films anymore … I’m going to play music.