Oscar Moment: Final 2012 Predictions, Part 1 (Screenplay)

5 01 2013

Well, folks, it’s over.  Kind of.

Time is up for movies to impress the Academy voters before the nominees are announced.  The race is frozen now before nominations are announced early Thursday morning, January 10.  So with nothing left to influence the nominations, I’ll be offering my final take on the race before we find out who gets to compete for the golden man, the Oscar.

Today, I’ll be discussing the writing categories, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Django Unchained
  3. The Master
  4. Moonrise Kingdom
  5. Amour

ZDTI think this is probably the biggest no-brainer race of them all for 2012.  It’s an extremely thin field, filled with several past nominees and winners.  “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Django Unchained” will vie for the win; I think it’s Mark Boal’s to lose, but Tarantino could take it if they feel Boal’s win for “The Hurt Locker” in 2009 was too short a gap.  Going through the two categories is tough to find gaps between wins, but I think Boal’s back-to-back wins would be unprecedented.

Even if “The Master” doesn’t score a Best Picture nomination, it is a sure bet to get a writing nod.  The writers’ branch has always loved Paul Thomas Anderson, nominating him for “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” and “There Will Be Blood.”  I think the Academy respects him more as a writer than a director, and I’d hedge my bet that his first Oscar comes from the screenplay categories.

Though “The Master” is not unilaterally acclaimed, I think the fact that they nominated the challenging and polarizing “Magnolia” means they’ll nominate just about anything he writes.  (Except “Punch-Drunk Love,” but that was just a terrible movie.)

Wes Anderson was recognized here for his work on “The Royal Tenenbaums” back in 2001, and his “Moonrise Kingdom” is playing a lot better on the precursor circuit than that one.  Though it may miss out on a Best Picture nomination, it will at least have this prize to compete for.  I doubt it has a shot to win, but it’s another feather in Anderson’s cap for an eventual win down the road.

AmourAs for that final slot, people (including myself) seem to have finally caught onto the fact that the writers’ branch sees foreign films and isn’t afraid to nominate them.  Despite everyone declaring “A Separation” the winner for Best Foreign Film all year, very few seemed to see the Best Original Screenplay nomination coming.

“Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Barbarian Invasions” had turned their goodwill from Best Foreign Film into writing nods.  Not to mention “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and “City of God,” directorial triumphs recognized by the directors’ branch, were also recognized for their screenplays.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention “Amelie,” “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” and “Dirty Pretty Things.”

Looper

And I nearly omitted Pedro Almodóvar’s “Talk to Her,” which WON in 2002.  (Perhaps it’s the subtitles that remind them that they are reading a movie?)

The writers think global.  Thus, no one wants to get caught off guard, and the smart money is on Michael Haneke’s “Amour.”  While I think it’s much more of a director’s movie, I think it glides in simply on the weakness of the pool of eligible nominees.

Perhaps they will pull a “Margin Call” surprise and go with Nicholas Jarecki’s “Arbitrage,” a kindred spirit in its vilification of Wall Street big wigs.  Or maybe they take original to heart and nominate Rian Johnson’s superb “Looper,” a critical favorite that has popped up sporadically throughout the precursor circuit.  Heck, maybe John Gatins’ script for “Flight” shows up like it did on the WGA list.

But I’ll stick with “Amour,” in spite of my reservations.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Lincoln
  2. Argo
  3. Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Les Misérables
  5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Argo Screenplay“Lincoln,” “Argo,” and “Silver Linings Playbook” are locks.  Inarguable.  If they don’t get nominated … well, I won’t finish that sentence since it’s a waste of time.  IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

The last two slots are a mystery to me.  I think it’s ultimately a decision of whether the writers go along with groupthink or go out on a limb for a script that they love.  Will they make sure the heavy-hitter Best Picture contenders have a writing nomination to add to their tally?  Or will they provide a lone nomination (or a high-profile one) for a movie not nearly as beloved?

Just as a reminder of how hard it is to predict, let’s look back at the past three years of the category since those reflect Best Picture moving to beyond 5 nominees.

Last year, it looked like “The Help” would ride the coattails of its Best Picture nomination to a screenplay nod.  And “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which most thought would be a Best Picture nominee, looked good too.  The writers snubbed both of these, opting for the well-wrought “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and a lone nod for George Clooney’s “The Ides of March.”  (“War Horse” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” were two other Best Picture nominees that were not recognized.)

LincolnIn 2010, the category was 5-for-5 with Best Picture nominees “Winter’s Bone,” “True Grit,” “Toy Story 3,” and “127 Hours” all scoring here.  The eventual winner was – obviously – Aaron Sorkin’s visionary script for “The Social Network.”

2009 saw a surprising triumph for Best Picture nominee “Precious” over fellow nominees “Up in the Air,” “District 9,” and “An Education.”  Only one other adaptation was in the Best Picture field, but it was “The Blind Side” – a nominee few saw coming.  So unsurprisingly, an outside nominee charged the field – “In the Loop,” a British political comedy that came in from out of the blue.

So since there’s no clear precedent, what to do?  Predict that the writers just go with the flow and nominated “Life of Pi” and “Les Misérables?”  Or attempt to forecast a big passion play?

I think William Nicholson’s script for “Les Misérables” is a more likely nominee, despite many naysayers who think it won’t be appreciated because it was a musical.  “Chicago,” the last stage-to-screen musical, was nominated here; you have to go so far back to see a movie musical in the Best Picture field that it isn’t worth looking for a pattern.  We really have no idea whether it’s a contender, though, since it was ineligible at the WGA Awards.  But it did miss out on a Golden Globe nomination, and that was a nod “Chicago” did pick up in 2002.

Les Mis FYC 2-page

Basically, in my prediction of “Les Misérables” for Best Adapted Screenplay, I’m counting on the movie playing really well with the Academy (which it apparently has, in spite of the critics’ attempts to destroy it).  There’s nothing but a gut feeling telling me to predict it, and a slight inkling that they love the movie enough to nominate it a lot.

There’s much more of a reason for me to predict “Life of Pi,” which has the WGA nomination to its credit.  But a lot of people have criticized David Magee’s script for being the major flaw of the movie, and that gives me hesitancy.  Could it be that it only scored a nomination because of all the ineligible movies?

Life of Pi

I had similar hang-ups about “Hugo” last year, a movie that was visually impressive but took a lot of flak for its weak writing.  Yet John Logan’s script for that was nominated for a WGA Award … and then received an Oscar nomination.  Does “Life of Pi” have the strength of “Hugo,” though, which went on to win 5 Oscars in 2011?  I don’t think it does, and Fox seems to have little confidence in it.

But if it’s not “Life of Pi,” what will it be?  Does any film have the passion necessary to score an outside nod?

There’s an outside chance “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” gets a Best Picture nomination, but I doubt it would get nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for the same reasons “The Blind Side” missed out here.  Its success is in its feel-good nature, not because of good writing.

Though I’d say it’s written like a sitcom, there are fans of Ben Lewin’s script for “The Sessions.”  But the only heat that movie has lies with the performances of John Hawkes and Helen Hunt; love of the movie doesn’t go much beyond that.  And if it was a serious contender, why wasn’t it nominated for a WGA Award in spite of all the ineligible movies?

Perks

Heck, maybe even John Logan’s script for “Skyfall” will show up.  Some have suggested it will show up in the Best Picture field after a slightly surprising nomination for the Producers Guild’s prize.  I’d say the script, though flawed, is the smartest part of that movie – but I just don’t see it happening.  Other than “Toy Story 3,” I can’t find any franchise entry nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

A more likely nominee is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which has been nominated for the WGA Award and the Critics’ Choice Award.  It’s adapted by the writer of the novel, Stephen Chbosky, who also directed the film.  I could definitely see it being 2012’s “The Ides of March” since it’s unlikely to be recognized anywhere else, and the writing is a major strong suit of the film.

But I just have a hard time predicting the movie since it flew under the radar all season.  It didn’t do particularly well at the box office, and it doesn’t have much big name talent beyond Emma Watson.  “The Ides of March” had 4 Golden Globe nods and a PGA mention.  Likewise, “In the Loop” had popped up in a number of critics’ groups awards.  I’d be surprised if the Academy stood up for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

Beasts 2

If any movie unseats “Les Misérables” or “Life of Pi,” I think it would be “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  It has been uniquely hard to gauge love for the film because it was ineligible not only for the WGA Awards but also for the SAG Awards.  I considered it dead when it blanked at the Golden Globes, but I’m beginning to rethink my assessment after it shockingly popped up as a nominee for Best Picture for the PGA.

Had it been eligible for the guild awards, would we have seen a groundswell of support for the movie?  And lest we forget, the HFPA blanked “True Grit” in 2010 – and that went on to received 10 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.  Some say the HFPA doesn’t like quintessential American stories, and you could make an argument that “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is just that.

I think the movie’s biggest strength is its direction, not its writing.  However, I have similar things to say about “Amour,” and it appears to be cruising towards a nomination.  The writers may really admire this unconventional movie, adapted from a play and transmuted into something wholeheartedly cinematic.

Thus, the degree of difficulty gives me the confidence to say Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar’s script for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will knock “Life of Pi” (although it could just as easily be “Les Misérables”) out of the category.  So, to answer my own questions from the beginning of the discussion, I believe the Academy will be part groupthink, part cavalier.

Check back tomorrow, January 6, for my take on the Supporting Actor/Actress categories!

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Oscar Moment: First 2012 Predictions

5 08 2012

It’s never too early to start guessing, right?  With Cannes yielding little to start Oscar conversation, the pressure is on for the fall to deliver in a big way.  Film festivals in Venice, Toronto, and Telluride will begin to churn out candidates and weed out pretenders in just a few weeks now.  Then a number of big-name films that forewent the festival circuit will have to face the gauntlet of critics and audiences. By the time the year-end lists start rolling off the presses, the game will be predictable and boring.  So let’s speculate now while it’s still fun and actually involves educated guessing!

UPDATE 8/6: I can’t let these picks become dated within hours of them being posted, so I’ve replaced my predictions that included “The Great Gatsby.”

Best Picture:

  1. The Master
  2. Les Miserables
  3. Lincoln
  4. Life of Pi
  5. Django Unchained
  6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  7. Moonrise Kingdom
  8. Argo
  9. The Great Gatsby Zero Dark Thirty
  10. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

“The Master” just seems like the movie of the year to me from this distance.  Tom Cruise has seen the movie and HATES it, that’s enough for me.  If the movie is really going to take on Scientology, it could really be a pop culture centerpiece for the fall.

Starring Joaquin Phoenix returning from his bizarre performance art stunt in “I’m Still Here,” Philip Seymour Hoffman fresh off two major supporting roles in Oscar-nominated films in 2011, and three-time Best Supporting Actress bridesmaid Amy Adams, it could certainly be a force to reckon with in the acting categories.  It’s also a period piece that could register impressively in the technical categories.

Oh, and it’s written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  In the ’90s, his films “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” each scored him a Best Original Screenplay nomination.  In 2007, “There Will Be Blood” scored him nominations for writing, directing, and producing since the film was up for Best Picture.  The argument will be made – convincingly by the Weinstein Company, no less – that Anderson’s time has come.

Indeed, it has.  The narrative is in place.  It can easily score over 10 nominations and march towards victory.  The film just needs to not suck.  And according to people at the first public showing on Friday (a surprise screening after a showing of “The Shining” in Los Angeles), it doesn’t suck.  It’s awesome.

Though of course, that path won’t be uncontested.  However, three out of the last five Best Picture winners – “No Country for Old Men,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “The Artist” – asserted their dominance from the beginning of the season and never looked back.  So who knows?! As the triumph of “The King’s Speech” showed us in 2010, Oscar bait isn’t dead.  In fact, it’s thriving … and there is still a big portion of the Academy that succumbs to it.

In 2011, “War Horse” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” both cracked the Best Picture field despite facing a number of harsh critics and tepid response from other industry groups.  Nonetheless, the Academy likes what it likes and refuses to apologize for it. So I doubt they will think twice about nominating “Les Miserables” for Best Picture.  The Tony Award-winning musical has everything that could possibly ever appeal to an Academy member: drama, emotion, catharsis, noble prostitutes, solid acting, historical setting, impressive craftwork … and it’s directed by Tom Hooper, the man who made them feel so good they gave him Best Director for a movie that required very little directing.

Granted, everyone thought “Chicago” was going to usher in a new Renaissance for American film adaptations of musical theater.  While the Golden Globes seem to be relishing in all the musicals, the Academy has ignored “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Producers,” “Dreamgirls,” “Hairspray,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Nine” (all of which were Best Picture nominees in the Musical/Comedy field for HFPA).

“Dreamgirls” was even being tipped to win in 2006 and was a surprise snub on nomination morning (“Nine” could also have cracked the field in 2009).  So musicals are still iffy, but “Les Miserables” is in a league of its own.  Those other musicals are nice, but none are based on a Victor Hugo novel.  The story is made to win awards.

Also falling in the bait category is Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis as one of America’s greatest presidents.  Spielberg’s films since “Schindler’s List” have practically all been presumptive frontrunners, yet “Saving Private Ryan” is his only film afterwards to win an Oscar.  “Munich” and “War Horse” have both slid in on residual respect, but how far does that go?  Do they still owe a man who has won Best Director twice?  Helmed eight Best Picture nominees?

The same questions can be asked of Day-Lewis, who clearly has a ton of respect as shown by his two Best Actor trophies.  However, the Academy felt no shame in shutting him out of the 2009 Best Actor race in favor of first-time nominee Jeremy Renner.  Granted, Renner’s “The Hurt Locker” was worlds better than Day-Lewis’ “Nine,” but it’s still fair to wonder if the Academy is done with him like they are done with Clint Eastwood.  Unless you are Meryl Streep or Jack Nicholson (or John Williams), two is basically the magic number.

People have been raving about Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” since its presentation of footage at CinemaCon back in the spring, and I think the coupling of a respected, Oscar-winning director tackling 3D will be the “Hugo” of 2012.  It will also probably score no acting nominations and plenty of tech nods like Scorsese’s 5-time winner from last year.

Beyond those four heavy-hitters, it’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps I guessed the overdue writer/director incorrectly, and the Academy will choose to fete Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained.”  People counted out “Inglourious Basterds,” and it wound up with eight nominations.

Beasts of the Southern Wild” has certainly proven to be the art-house hit of the year, winning major prizes at Sundance and Cannes, stealing critics’ hearts, and racking up enough money to where it can’t be dismissed as totally esoteric.  There’s certainly precedent for a summer indie favorite to sneak into the Best Picture field – “Winter’s Bone” in 2010 and “The Tree of Life” in 2011.  It will need the critics groups to come out in favor for it in a big way or the pint-sized star Quvenzhané Wallis to be a unanimous and strong first-choice in the Best Actress race.

Some people think the inclusion of “Beasts” might leave out the other summer indie sleeper hit, “Moonrise Kingdom.”  To that I say, look to last year when “Midnight in Paris,” a funny crowd-pleaser, cracked the same field with “The Tree of Life.”  I think the Academy could decide the time is here to honor Wes Anderson’s peculiar gifts.  If they could accept “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno,” I see no reason why “Moonrise Kingdom” couldn’t be a Best Picture nominee.

“Argo” could also be a sleeper to watch in this race.  Ben Affleck’s directorial skills are definitely improving with each movie, and his last film, “The Town,” was definitely just on the outside looking in at the 2010 Best Picture field.  Could getting out of his native country of Boston put him in the race this time?  We’ll know after its Toronto premiere.

Baz Luhrmannn’s singular work “Moulin Rouge” tickled the Academy’s fancy in 2001.  His 2008 “Australia,” a more refined, baity piece, only netted a Best Costume Design nomination.  Which will his adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” be?  My gut says a hit like “Moulin Rouge” because I’m so in love with the source material, but that love could be blinding me.  This will either be a big hit or a big flop.

And who knows if the Academy field will extend to ten this year, but I’ll go ahead and predict ten.  Could lighting strike for the fourth time for Peter Jackson with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?”  Will “Hyde Park on Hudson” be more than just a feel-good biopic?  Can Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” finally get the franchise the recognition it deserves?

These are big “if”s, so I’m just going to choose safe (because my wild-card predictions in years past have spawned picks of “It’s Complicated” and “Never Let Me Go”) and predict Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.”  It could be bold, daring, and thrilling if it succeeds.  The expectations will be high since the production has been so guarded.  But if it works, it could be a major player.

And for the hell of it, why not say that the decidedly middling “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” becomes the low-brow film that makes the cut and makes me curse the Academy once more. Read the rest of this entry »





REVIEW: Beasts of the Southern Wild

13 07 2012

Normally when I review a movie, I try to situate it within some sort of frame of reference that will give the reader some sense of what to expect if, in fact, they ultimately decide to fork over a chunk of their life to watching it.  I would apologize if I was utterly stumped to provide such a vantage point, thinking that I’d failed you as a critic who has nothing to offer but hyperbolic language and particularly impressive memory of the synonyms for great in the thesaurus.  But in the case of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” I feel no such urge.  Defying all expectation and comparison, it is a movie that must be experienced to be believed.

I can’t provide you an auteur perspective since this is director Benh Zeitlin’s first feature-length film, although if someone had told me this was a Terrence Malick film, I wouldn’t have questioned it.  (The phenomenal cinematography by Ben Richardson certainly rivals “The Tree of Life” in terms of capturing the beauty of nature.)  His unflappable confidence is something that he hopefully will not lose with the blinding lights of Hollywood.

Have no doubt about it, “Beasts” is a movie that could only by an uncorrupted visionary like Zeitlin. His ambition soars to the sky, and even in the rare occasions where it falls short, we are left in awe of the sheer gutsiness of the decision.  I guess if you really need a comparison, it’s a “2001: A Space Odyssey” in terms of uniqueness and daring.

Read the rest of this entry »





Marshall Takes Cannes: Day 10-12

28 05 2012

The festival is over and I have so much to report from these last few days!  I don’t know if I was in Cannes for my whole life or a nanosecond; in some strange way, I feel like it’s both simultaneously.  Now that the all the awards have been handed out and everyone has left the Palais (and basically the city of Cannes as well), I figure I’ll put a bow around my tales of Cannes to wrap it all up.

To all those who have been reading, thanks for following my adventures!  If you felt even a fraction of the thrill I felt at the festival, then I feel truly blessed to have brought even the smallest pinch of excitement into your day.  I’m traveling throughout Europe for the next 11 days, but I’ll try to post some outstanding reviews during my trip.  I wound up seeing 12 of the 22 competition films, which was far more than I ever expected!  I was very blessed and fortunate, and hopefully I can convince you to see or skip what I saw!

Day 10 – Friday, May 25

Thought about rushing “Cosmopolis” in the morning … yeah, that didn’t happen.  Still feeling a little queasy and definitely feeling extremely tired, I slept past that 7:00 alarm to get up for an 8:30 screening.  I arrived around 11:30 A.M. to rush the 1:00 P.M. screening, and no one from the rush line was able to gain entry to the screening.

Not wanting to waste another day without seeing a movie, I didn’t mope for long and went almost straight to the line outside the 60th Room (a rooftop tent theater on the roof of the Palais – yeah) for the reprise screening of “The Paperboy” at 2:00 P.M.  But I should have known something was up when the movie didn’t start on time.  I found two friends in the theater and we talked vaguely about people’s reactions to the film.

Then, at 2:30 P.M., the film started … in Spanish.  I suddenly realized that I was not going to be seeing Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy” with stars like Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron.  Instead, I mistakenly walked into “Post Tenebras Lux,” the Mexican expressionist film that seriously made me want to rip my head off.  Thankfully, a character in the film showed me what that would look like, and that pretty much talked me out of it.

The Pavilion where I worked held a big party that night, which mostly hosted our normal guests (and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin) plus a few big names including Macy Gray and Lee Daniels, Oscar-nominated director of “Precious” and “The Paperboy.”  Don’t worry, I finally got a picture with a celebrity – not a blurry shot taken from God knows how far away!

Day 11 – Saturday, May 26

This one would be an early morning, though, as I managed to score a ticket to the morning press screening of Jeff Nichols’ “Mud.”  It was much different than I expected, veering away from the visual and visceral brilliance of “Take Shelter” and more towards a plot-driven mainstream Hollywood film.  I’m curious to see what this means for Nichols’ career and onto what trajectory this launches him.

I then quickly ran to see if I could spot Reese Witherspoon at her photo call on the roof of the Palais.  It was initially unsuccessful, but I would not be deterred!  I lingered around the back of the building hoping she would come out of the star entrance, and my loitering eventually paid off as I eventually spotted she and Matthew McConaughey walking across the bridge into the main building!

Naturally, I ran into the building hoping to catch her before she got into her car, but that never panned out.  I decided to go into the Palais to use the restroom, and I walked past a TV that showed the press conference for “Mud.”  Thanks to getting lost a decent amount of times in that Death Star, I knew exactly where press conferences at Cannes were held.  I decided to wait outside the room near the elevator where I assumed she would have to go; there was also another area closed to the entrance to the press conference room, but I thought she would pay them no attention.

Well, I was an idiot.  I never should have doubted that Reese Witherspoon is magnanimous.  Turns out, she went over to the other area and signed a few autographs before leaving – not out the elevator, but through some back entrance.  Grr.  I did get to glimpse her magnificent beauty and become dazzled by her radiant smile.  She’s even better than I ever could have imagined over the past ten years.  Here’s the picture I did get; Reese is the blonde blob in the middle.

The day was destined to go downhill from Reese sighting, but I didn’t think it would get as bad as “Cosmopolis.”  The Robert Pattinson-starrer was a serious disappointment, mainly due to the dialogue and direction.  R-Pattz wasn’t half bad, and I actually thought he was pretty good at the end.  Maybe there is hope…

It was also the last beach screening, which was listed as a “surprise screening” on the schedule.  Rumors circulated like mad about what the movie could be – I had heard “The Dictator,” Brian DePalma’s new film “Passion,” and footage from the new Bond film “Skyfall” all mentioned as possibilities.  Turns out, it was only a short film program that lasted for over an hour and a half.  I was a little underwhelmed and upset to say the least.

Day 12 – Sunday, May 27

The last day of the festival meant a lot of packing, a lot of cleaning, and a lot of goodbyes.  There wasn’t much of a wasted moment to be had – oh, and every single one of the 22 competition films was replaying again.  I got a chance to see “Holy Motors,” the French film featuring Kylie Minogue and Eva Mendes getting her armpit licked, and that was pretty fun.  I also saw “Beasts” director Benh Zeitlin yet again, just chilling and seeing a movie like a regular Joe.  Gosh, I hope he wins an Oscar or something – the man just seems so humble, modest, and unassuming.

I thought about trying to see “The Paperboy” after my Friday fiasco, but I ultimately wound up opting for food and fun with friends.  I’ll get to see it in no time at all back home in the States.  After convincing myself that I would go out on a high note with “Holy Motors,” the jury announced all the awards.  There was one big winner that I still had the chance to see – “Reality,” winner of the Grand Prix (essentially second place).  I quickly caught a bus from my apartment and made it to the theater in time to see the movie.  Don’t know that it was worth the trip, but I’m glad I can say I saw it – especially since it looks like Oscilloscope is going to hold it for release until 2013 in the US.

Oh, and going to the bathroom in the artist’s entrance finally paid off as I saw Emmanuelle Riva, the leading actress from the Palme D’Or-winning “Amour.”

I wound up seeing all but one of the North American films, the Palme D’Or, Grand Prix, Best Director, Best Actor, and Camera D’Or winners, as well as a smattering of other films that ran the gamut from great to God-awful.  Overall, a very interesting festival – hopefully, it won’t be my last.  There’s plenty of unfinished business I have left with Cannes, and so many things I want to do better in the future.  But for now, as I close this chapter, I am satisfied and truly grateful.

Much thanks to my parents for making this trip possible!  Hopefully, Cannes 2012 is just the beginning of many great things to come.





Marshall Takes Cannes: Day 7

23 05 2012

It’s probably good to look back and remember day 7, such a positive and incredible experience, after the disappointment that was day 8. The crushing blow of today will be recounted later, but I want to hit the high points.

Day 7 – Tuesday, May 22

I was able to get an hour to see a panel comprised of the filmmakers who made “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” the Sundance winner that has taken Cannes by storm as well. Co-writer and director Benh Zeitlin was in attendance, as was co-writer Lucy Alibar, cinematographer Ben Richardson, and producers Dan Janvey and Josh Penn. The whole conversation about the film’s origins, which are hardly discernable from the highly eccentric and distinct project, fascinated me; Zeitlin described the movie as one about “people losing the thing that made them” at their core.

He also shared how he and Alibar worked to wrap the script around the performers, not try to fit them into a pre-packaged good. “Beasts” used all non-professional actors, a fact which only serves to underscore the wow factor of watching the film. They also stated that they auditioned an astonishing four thousand children for the leading role of Hushpuppy, a young girl who has to carry this weighty movie almost entirely on her own back.

Then, after that, it was a quick change into my tuxedo for the red carpet premiere of “Killing them Softly,” the new Brad Pitt film. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the new happily engaged couple, although someone quickly informed me that the former World’s Sexiest Man would be flying solo. But that was hardly going to deter me from standing in line.

I got in the rush line (the line for people without official tickets) beginning at 4:45 P.M. The film started at 7:30 P.M. So that was nearly three hours on my feet waiting. It got pretty brutal at the beginning when there was nothing particularly exciting to look at, but that all changed when the red carpet opened around 6:30 P.M. At 7:00 P.M., the big names began to arrive: Chris Tucker, P. Diddy, Alec Baldwin … and Brad Pitt.

Let me just say, it’s not that I hated or didn’t admire Brad Pitt before the premiere. However, I emerged with a whole lot more respect for him. As soon as he got out of his police escorted car, the first thing he did was greet his adoring fans that had lined up along the Croisette. Pitt easily spent ten minutes signing autographs and shaking hands of the average laypeople before he got anywhere near the red carpet, and that was pretty darned cool. I got a picture of him from afar, but I also did manage to see him from a fairly close proximity. His hair moved as one unit.

I ultimately also managed to get to see the movie, but I did not get to see it in the massive Lumiere with Brad Pitt and the rest of the cast; I had to see a simultaneous screening in the Bazin, a 300-seater across the hall in the Palais. But hey, I saw the star and I saw the film – both were stylish and fun to say I saw in France!





Marshall Takes Cannes: Day 3

19 05 2012

Now I’m just cranking these out … maybe it won’t be long before I actually complete one of these (gasp) on time. I probably just jinxed myself. Anyways, a short account of yesterday for you all – it was fairly uneventful.

Day 3 – Friday, May 18

I finally slept in past 7:00 A.M., but that probably wasn’t a good thing. I was hoping to catch a screening of Matteo Gorrone’s “Reality,” the odds-on favorite to win the Palme D’Or according to the oddsmakers, but that was at 8:30 A.M. and my body just wasn’t going to let that happen. I’ll have to catch it in the Marche or during the last weekend of the festival when they replay the entire competition slate.

I rolled out of bed around 9:30, grabbed some quick breakfast, and quickly caught a bus to stand in line for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at 11:00 A.M. It was playing in Un Certain Regard, which, for those who don’t know, is a second competition slate that plays in the DeBussy, a smaller auditorium of only a thousand or so seats. I got there a little bit more than 30 minutes early, which thankfully proved to be just enough. I got a seat on one of the wings in the balcony – not the greatest seat, but the aspect ratio was great for me since it shrunk the screen horizontally.

I was privileged to be at the screening with the director Benh Zeitlin and stars Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis (a name I can’t type without copying and pasting from IMDb) in attendance. They received a huge and much deserved standing ovation at the end of the film, a very rousing experience for all involved. I’ll elaborate further in my review, but I have some pretty big superlatives coming for this one. It won Sundance, wowed Tribeca, and now looks to spellbind Cannes.

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And after that, it was kind of an average day. Didn’t do much else, didn’t see any other movies, didn’t see anyone famous. Sean Penn was supposed to stop by where I work, but that didn’t pan out beecause of the rain. Of course I get the festival with all the clouds and showers, but hey, I’m here! I can’t complain!

Oh, and there was a false alarm of a Ryan Gosling sighting. This guy looked creepily similar to the “Drive” star, but it was ultimately no more than a lookalike.

To close on a more positive note, check out this nightime picture. It’s breathtaking; see it in person at some point in your life if you can.

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