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Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:35 am

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/03/07/oscars-look-ahead/1965333/

What's on the menu for the 2014 Oscars?
Brian Truitt, USA TODAY7:05p.m. EST March 7, 2013
With the Oscar feast done and another awards season over, it's never too early to look ahead to what's cooking for the Academy Awards in 2014.


It's been a dozen long, lonely, bone-chilling days since Oscar frenzy reached its zenith with the coronation of the winners, and that can only mean one thing: Now's the time to begin scouting potential contenders for the 2014 awards. USA TODAY's Brian Truitt casts a crystal ball toward the silver screen and identifies some projects and performances to keep an eye on.

2013 FILMS: Is the next 'Argo' in this field?

Actors

* A perennial contender in years past, two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks seems to be the man of the hour again this year playing a pair of real-life folks: animation pioneer Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (in theaters Dec. 20) and the seafaring title hero of Captain Phillips (Oct. 11).

* Steve Carell plays against comedic type in Foxcatcher (no date yet), which casts him as the complicated convicted killer of his former friend, Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo).

* John Goodman and the Coen brothers go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and the actor could nab his first Oscar nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis (no date yet), the brothers' movie centered on the New York folk-music scene of the 1960s.

* Michael Fassbender was key to director Steve McQueen's breakthrough drama Shame, and Twelve Years a Slave brings them together again for a period piece that casts Fassbender as a heartless cotton planter and slave owner. Also one to watch out for: Chiwetel Ejiofor, who stars as the free black man sold into slavery.

* Newcomer: Chadwick Boseman has the kind of breakthrough role that academy voters could eat up as Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in Major League Baseball, in 42 (April 12).

Actresses

* Meryl Streep, she of the 17 Oscar nominations, heads up the A-list cast of an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County (Nov. Cool . Playing a drug addict with cancer here may hoist her into favorite status sooner than later. Her co-star Julia Roberts, as a daughter trying to keep her dysfunctional family on an even keel, could possibly sneak in, too.

* Cate Blanchett is his muse du jour in Woody Allen's new film Blue Jasmine (July 26), about the life of a fashion-conscious New York housewife.

* Academy voters might just adore newly minted best-actress winner Jennifer Lawrence enough to give her two in a row if they dig her in Serena (Sept. 27), a drama based on the historical novel that teams her again with Silver Linings Playbook co-star Bradley Cooper as a troubled couple in Depression-era North Carolina.

* Jennifer Garner had to be red-carpet-ready during her husband Ben Affleck's dream awards season, but not as a doctor turning to non-legal AIDS medications for her patient (Matthew McConaughey) in the drama Dallas Buyers Club (no date yet).

* Oscar-winning Octavia Spencer of The Help has another emotional role as the mother of a young man (Michael B. Jordan) shot to death by police in the Sundance favorite Fruitvale (Oct. 18).

Directors

* Ang Lee won best director this year for Life of Pi, which featured a visual feast of effects, nuanced acting and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. So it looks good for Alfonso Cuaron, whose upcoming sci-fi film Gravity (Oct. 4) definitely checks off the boxes for "fewer actors" and "more effects" — George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are the lone thespians in the movie, playing a pair of astronauts stranded in space.

* The Jazz Age looks much jazzier through the lens of The Great Gatsby (May 10) filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, who is not known for his subtlety. He's taking the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and making the extravagant world of Jay Gatsby (Leonard DiCaprio) come to life in 3-D but still focusing on the core relationship of Gatsby, young Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and wide-eyed Midwestern lad Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire).

* Martin Scorsese could be going for director nomination No. 8 with the crime drama The Wolf of Wall Street (Nov. 15), which teams the filmmaker with star Leonardo DiCaprio for the fifth time — a collaboration that has resulted in Scorsese's only director Oscar, for The Departed.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:21 pm

http://www.deadline.com/2013/08/telluride-12-years-a-slave-ignites-the-festival-but-fox-searchlight-plans-to-take-it-slow/

Telluride: ’12 Years A Slave’ Ignites The Festival, But Fox Searchlight Plans To Take It Slow
By PETE HAMMOND | Saturday August 31, 2013 @ 4:00pm PDT

Telluride has been buzzing since last night’s first screening of Steve McQueen‘s excellent slavery drama, 12 Years A Slave. One site which shall remain nameless was so overcome that the writer already just about declared the Oscar race over and done. “Guess we don’t have to go to Toronto now,” said a publicist here with another contender. One blogger stopped me on the street today after I saw the film and asked, “So do you agree with us (bloggers) the actor race is done?” he said in referring to star Chewitel Ejiofor‘s towering and dignified performance as the slave Solomon Northup, who lived to tell his harrowing tale and write a book about it in 1853. As I said yesterday, hyperbole is a big part of any festival like this and intelligent moviegoers are so thirsty for Oscar-quality adult movie fare they might have a tendency to go overboard with praise. But it’s a disservice to a very fine but challenging film like 12 Years A Slave to build up such high expectations no movie could possibly live up to it.

As I exited the packed 650-seat Herzog Theatre, I ran into Fox Searchlight co-President Nancy Utley, who was there gauging reaction to her film, which they open in LA and NY on October 18 and then roll out slowly. She agreed it is a film that should be “discovered” but, obviously happy with the ecstatic reaction so far at its first two screenings, added that this film needs special handling. “It’s a movie that will depend on critical reaction and awards play to really tell people that despite tough subject matter it’s a film they must see,” she said.

I don’t think she has to worry too much about that based on the buzz on the street. The Telluride crowd I saw it with, largely white and upscale, approved — giving the cast and filmmakers a standing ovation when they appeared for the post-Q&A. It’s definitely the one being talked about most and, typical of small festivals like Telluride, has created a rush to see it here at every subsequent showing. It’s not for those with weak stomachs, with extremely realistic and wrenching scenes of violence against the slaves, particularly one scene in which the uber-evil plantation owner (portrayed flawlessly by Michael Fassbender) against the slave girl Patsey (stunningly played by Kenya-born newcomer and Yale Drama School grad Lupita Nyong’o).

There’s no question this will be a player in the 2013 awards sweepstakes. There would have to be some amazing performances out there to deny nominations to Ejiofor, Nyong’o and Fassbender. The film and McQueen, along with John Ridley, who adapted the book will also certainly figure. But Searchlight has to get audiences to come first. The producing team includes a new collaboration between Plan B’s Brad Pitt and DeDe Gardner and River Road’s Bill Pohlad along with four others. They were all last nominated for the equally challenging The Tree Of Life two years ago, which Searchlight also nurtured into theatres.

Pitt, who also has a relatively small supporting role, was part of a post-screening panel that included the three stars, McQueen and Gardner. The UK-born McQueen said he had wanted to do a film that dealt with slavery and set about finding the appropriate material when he learned of this book he knew nothing about. “It was like reading Anne Frank’s diary, only a hundred years earlier,” he said. “It was incredible. No one had heard of it and it was a film I wanted to make.”

Pitt said they wondered why there were not many films on slavery, especially when there are so many on the Holocaust. “It took a Brit to do it,” he said. “I just want to say I am so humbled and so proud to be a part of it. This is why I wanted to get into films, films like this that I watch and have such an emotionally transformative experience I find it hard to speak afterwards.” He also praised the performances.

The Telluride fest goers in attendance definitely seemed to agree with that. We are going to be hearing about 12 Years A Slave throughout awards season. Just let it breathe a little.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:24 pm

http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/telluride-on-the-beauty-and-barbarity-of-sure-fire-oscar-contender-12-years-a-slave

Telluride: On the beauty and barbarity of sure-fire Oscar contender '12 Years a Slave'

Steve McQueen's and his cast reflect on an intense but rewarding experience

By Kristopher Tapley Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 7:11 PM
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in "12 Years a Slave"


TELLURIDE, Colo. - Fox Searchlight was smart to get into business with filmmaker Steve McQueen two years ago when, just after screening his last film, "Shame," here at the Telluride Film Festival, they acquired it for distribution. Further dividends will be paid in the sterling accomplishment of "12 Years a Slave," to be sure.

It wasn't just the sound of sniffles but open bawling that could be heard throughout the Werner Herzog Theater today at the second screening of the film. It is every bit as emotionally devastating as you've been led to believe so far and it is a first knock-out awards contender, firing on all cylinders with nominations to be expected across the board.

McQueen had been wanting to make a film about slavery for some time and was always looking for an in. He had the idea of a free black man kidnapped into slavery and started working on a script with John Ridley (whose work on the page with this vintage dialogue is absolutely exquisite). McQueen's wife suggested a book he had never heard of, an autobiography of just the sort of character he had in mind written by Solomon Northup and "12 Years a Slave" started clicking to life.

"As soon as it was in my hand, I couldn't put it down," McQueen said of the book in the post-screening Q&A. "It was just riveting. Every page I turned, I just couldn't believe what I was reading. I live in Amsterdam and for me it was like reading Anne Frank's diary for the first time. And 99% of people I spoke to had never heard of it. It was a passion."

Meanwhile, Brad Pitt and his "little garage band of a production company," as he put it -- Plan B -- had made it their mandate from the beginning to work with directors who they thought had a unique and special voice. McQueen certainly qualified, as this was coming off of "Hunger" with Michael Fassbender (who also stars in "12 Years"). A little choked up talking about the material and the experience working on the film, in which he also has a small part, Pitt said he wondered why there weren't more movies about slavery and found it intriguing that it took a Brit to make something such as this.
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"I just want to say that I am so humbled and so proud to be a part of the film," Pitt said. "This is why I wanted to get into film, films like this that I watch and have such an emotional and transformative experience. I don't know about you guys but I find it difficult to speak afterwards. These fine performances -- I know what it takes to get to where these guys got to. It's an incredible feat."

Indeed, Chiwetel Ejiofor offers a stunning portrayal that shoots right to the top of an already crowded and competitive Best Actor Oscar race. A character actor who has cranked out head-turning work for years, going back to at least "Dirty Pretty Things" (and probably farther, but that's when I first sparked to him), he has been due a role such as this for quite some time. He makes everything of the opportunity, giving a performance of raw intensity at times and tranquil beauty at others.

"I just wanted to try and investigate this person as much as I could," Ejiofor said of Northup. "I found the story so beautiful as well as having all of this sort of trauma in it. There's this incredible spirit that this man had and trying to capture that and tell the story within the paradigm of that narrative was something I wanted to achieve."

Speaking of making the most of an opportunity, Fassbender was quick to note how impressed he was by newcomer Lupita N'yongo, who revs into an equally intense portrayal. "She came into the first rehearsal that we did and she just gave it everything and had the courage to lay it on the table, and perhaps fall flat on her face, but go for it," he said. "I was like, 's$#!, I better do my homework. This is the hunger of somebody new, somebody seeing the opportunity and taking it with both hands.'"

Fassbender's work in the film is one of seething villainy, not unlike Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List." His brutal slave owner haunts the screen, as terrifying in bursts of violence as he is in smoldering silence. All three of these actors deserve to be in the awards conversation throughout the rest of the year, as, frankly, does Sarah Paulson as Fassbender's daintily vicious wife.

I found the film incredibly moving and yet another example of expert craft from McQueen. He's collaborating with one of the most talented cinematographers working today, Sean Bobbitt, and together they frame this story in profound ways, patient with the camera. Design elements are perfectly realized, from Patricia Norris' costumes to Adam Stockhausen's production design. Hans Zimmer's score often plays to what this is, an American horror story. However, in the more delicate areas, he rather distractingly borrows from his own work in "The Thin Red Line" and "Inception."

The only other complaint I could muster with this is that, like my colleague Greg Ellwood, I felt the passage of time wasn't all that well presented. For a film called "12 Years a Slave," it would have been valuable to really feel how epic this story is. That's not to say it isn't epic in its own way, but before long you start to forget how long this is supposed to have been. Then again, that could be partly the point; surely time bled together for Mr. Northup.

Expect to be hearing plenty more about this one as the year unfolds. It's a towering achievement from all involved.

"12 Years a Slave" opens in limited release on Oct. 18.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:04 pm

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/aug/21/oscar-predictions-2014-12-years-a-slave

   12 Years a Slave

Series: Oscar predictions 2014

Oscar predictions 2014: 12 Years a Slave

Continuing our daily series that looks ahead to the key movies of the 2014 awards season. Next up: 12 Years a Slave

• Steve McQueen to direct 12 Years a Slave
• 12 Years a Slave: first trailer hits web

   Xan Brooks
   theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 August 2013 09.59 EDT
   Jump to comments (6)

   12 Years a Slave
   Production year: 2013
   Country: USA
   Directors: Steve McQueen
   Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano
   More on this film

What's it all about?

12 Years a Slave is the memoir of Solomon Northup, born free in upstate New York but sold into bondage in 1840s Louisiana. Directed by the British artist Steve McQueen, the film version casts Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup and Michael Fassbender (the star of McQueen's two previous features) as plantation owner Edwin Epps. Northup protests his innocence and demands his freedom. But the north is a memory and, amid the cotton plantations outside New Orleans, he realises that he is merely one of many faceless, stateless pieces of property.
How did it happen?

A longstanding passion project for McQueen, whose wife first found the book (which was then out of print), it was formally announced in August 2011. The film shot in Louisiana in the summer of 2012 with a reported budget of $20m (£12m). Co-stars include Benedict Cumberbatch as a Baptist preacher, Quvenzhané Wallis (Oscar-nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild) as Northup's daughter and co-producer Brad Pitt in a supporting turn as a Canadian carpenter and outrider for the abolitionist cause.
Nominations it wants

McQueen, a favourite of the art-house festival circuit, appears to be eyeing a mainstream breakthrough with his biggest film to date, while writer John Ridley (Three Kings and U-Turn) has a shout in the race for best adapted screenplay. Yet 12 Years a Slave turns the stage over to the main performers. Expect it to feature in the acting categories.
What it might win

Emboldened by excited advance word, bookies recently slashed the odds on Chiwetel Ejiofor being named best actor to 10/1, just behind Idris Elba (Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street). In the meantime, Pitt and Fassbender run the risk of cancelling each other out in the supporting actor section. Is this shortlist big enough for the both of them?
Reasons to fall for it

Reading on mobile? Click to view

The trailer suggests that 12 Years a Slave is an altogether more conventional movie than Hunger or Shame, the director's two previous features. It's full of sweeping strings, impassioned speeches and the sight of a wronged and noble hero fighting the forces of institutionalised bigotry. Hopefully, McQueen's formal precision will stop it straying into Amistad country.
Reasons it might fail

The sweeping strings, the impassioned speeches. The hackneyed plot about the wronged and noble hero. Worst of all, it could fall between two stools – being neither spare and rigorous enough to satisfy McQueen's fanbase nor, perhaps, soupy and sentimental enough to please the multiplex crowd.
When can we see it

12 Years a Slave was tipped by some to premiere at this year's Cannes film festival but it's now set to now premiere in Toronto (a more reliable Oscar launchpad anyway), from where it will be rolled out to the US (on 18 October) and the UK (24 January).
In five words

Hard walk to promised land.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:31 pm

http://movies.yahoo.com/news/12-years-slave-stuns-telluride-oscar-front-runner-134534927.html


'12 Years a Slave' Stuns Telluride: Do We Have an Oscar Front-Runner?

Chris Willman August 31, 2013

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in Fox Searchlight's "12 Years A Slave" - 2013
The Telluride Film Festival is about nothing if not discouraging a sense of competition. But anyone at the fest representing the films that were riding a wave of Oscar hopes coming out of Cannes had to feel a bit unnerved by the world premiere of Steve McQueen's slave drama "12 Years a Slave," which rode into town Friday night and single-handedly sucked up all the awards talk in the room.

Suddenly, Chiwetel Ejiofor, a name not exactly on everyone's lips, became the front-runner for Best Actor, at least as far as the immediate post-premiere tweet brigade was concerned.

Starring in the true-life story of a freeborn black man who was abducted by traders and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War era, Ejiofor helped give sated passholders the feeling that they might now have seen four best actor contenders in the first day and a half of the festival – with Ejiofor joining a Telluride field already crowded with Bruce Dern in "Nebraska," Oscar Isaac in "Inside Lleweyn Davis" and Robert Redford in "All is Lost."

See Photos: 60 of the Fall's Most-Anticipated Movies Starring Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sandra Bullock

Ejiofor was hardly alone as an award likely at the Galaxy Theatre premiere. Lupita Nyong'o is even less of a household name, but she jumped to the front of the Best Supporting Actress list for playing the hardest-suffering slave in McQueen's brutal film — bypassing a long list of contenders despite noting, in the Q&A that followed the screening, that she was plucked out of Yale to have this as her very first feature credit.

Also on the dais was Michael Fassbender, whose supporting-actor nomination is a no-brainer, given how he takes a role that has no more than one dimension — as the purely evil slaveholder who makes Ejiofor's and Nyong'o's lives a living hell — and still manages to be riveting every moment he's on screen.

That left only one of the cast members who came to Telluride, Brad Pitt, not being touted in social media and among Oscar bloggers as award-worthy, since his role as just about the only virtuous white man in the movie is brief and straightforward.

Also See: Photos From TheWrap's Shortlist Film Festival 2013

But Pitt (right, with Ejiofor) probably doesn't mind being thus overshadowed, since he's the picture's producer.

"I've seen this film countless times now, and I find it a little bit difficult to speak directly afterwards," Pitt told the crowd after the screening. "I think it might be more productive if we all just had a group walk around the block or something."

That speaks to one possible hurdle the Fox Searchlight release might face on its way to winning Best Picture: It's so chock full of beatings and whippings in its 133-minute running time that some Oscar voters may hit pause on their DVDs to go take a walk and never come back. But as far as further captive audiences for the captivity drama go, more standing ovations are likely in order.

The actors themselves said they'd had some difficulty accepting or going through with the parts. Said a muted Fassbender after the screening, "It's the first time I've seen the movie, and I'm a little taken aback."

Also read: Word From Telluride: Jason Reitman's Earnest 'Labor Day' Gets Split Reactions

When McQueen contended that Ejiofor had at first turned down the role, his leading man corrected him: "I needed a moment's pause — which Steve took as a no," he said. "I was aware of what it would mean and what it would take."

As for Nyong'o, the then-Yale student who sent in an audition tape, McQueen said, "It was like searching for Scarlett O'Hara, it really was. Over a thousand girls auditioned for the part … It was looking for that kind of magic, that kind of beauty and grace—it's very cliché, but when it happens on screen, a star is born."

McQueen talked about the unlikely path he and screenwriter John Ridley took toward adapting the historical memoir of the same name. "I wanted to make a film about slavery, (but) I needed an in for the story, and I thought the idea of a free man who was kidnapped into slavery was my in, somehow," he said.

After Ridley had toiled on a script with unsatisfying results, "My wife said to me, 'Well, why don't you look at a real account of slavery?' Duh."

McQueen's wife found the source material, "and I could not believe I had not read this book before, and the vast majority of people I asked had no idea of the book. It basically was a script. My eyes popped out of my head. I couldn't believe it: This was the film we wanted to make."

And for Telluride attendees who relish enjoying the world's first look at a front-runner, as they have previously with the likes of "Argo" and "Slumdog Millionaire," "12 Years a Slave" was the film they wanted to see.

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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:25 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-hogan/telluride-oscar-buzz_b_3857359.html


Telluride Oscar Buzz Puts '12 Years A Slave,' 'Prisoners' In Awards Race On Labor Day
Posted: 09/03/2013 9:20 am

Welcome to For Your Consideration, HuffPost Entertainment's breakdown of all things Oscar. Between now and March 2, 2014, executive arts and entertainment editor Michael Hogan and entertainment editor Christopher Rosen will chat about awards season, and discuss which films will make the most noise at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

Rosen: Hello, Mike! Just last Friday, you and I were standing in the office and wondering where this year's awards contenders were hiding. (After all, by that Friday last year, "Argo" had already debuted.) Then "12 Years A Slave" premiered at the Telluride Film Festival that night, and we received our answer.

Steve McQueen's film was pegged as an early Oscar favorite after its trailer debuted in July, and the first wave of reviews from Colorado did nothing to disabuse that notion. Even Hollywood Elsewhere editor Jeff Wells, who was preemptively underwhelmed by "12 Years A Slave" during a HuffPost Live chat with Ricky Camilleri and I in August ("What is it that's exciting about this film?"), was bowled over:

All of which makes "12 Years A Slave" a front-runner here on Labor Day: THR awards expert Scott Feinberg already has the film grabbing nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Fassbender and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong'o. To put that in perspective, the only films last year to have that many nominations in the major categories were "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook." None of this, however, is too surprising -- "12 Years A Slave" was the top choice among the Gurus O' Gold at Movie City News -- but McQueen's film is set as one of the ones to beat this year, and it hasn't even hit Toronto or New York yet.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:28 pm

http://www.awardscircuit.com/2013/09/03/2014-oscar-predictions-12-years-a-slave-poised-to-make-history-redford-the-frontrunner/


2014 Oscar Predictions – ’12 Years a Slave’ Poised to Make History, Redford the Frontrunner?
Checking in with what Telluride and Venice offered the awards season...
By Clayton Davis on September 3, 2013@@AwardsCircuit

gravity4In order to try to keep up with all the awards news that is dropping by the second from the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals and later on in the month with Toronto and New York, I’ll be dropping a weekly column in replacement of the Oscar Circuit until these next few weeks come to a close. Taking a deep dive into the assessment of some of the films that have screened and where they may factor into the awards race.

Gravity - Screened at Venice and Telluride

This Warner Bros. film has remained high on everyone’s anticipated list for the better part of 2013. The space film, directed by auteur visionary Alfonso Cuaron received lots of praise from the audiences of Italy and Colorado. With said to have a full-fledged action packed 90 minute runtime, Sandra Bullock got some of the best notices of her career that includes her name and the word “brilliant” in the same sentence. After winning her Oscar for “The Blind Side” in 2010, it was hard to believe that she could ever enter an awards conversation again. She seems firmly in the hunt for her second nomination. Oscar-winner George Clooney looks to have a harder time. It would need to be a “ride-in” like situation for him to score his fifth acting nomination.

The film itself is in a strong position for going into Toronto Film Festival. Since the expansion to ten nominees (or up to ten nominees), a 3D epic film has been recognized by Oscar. Films like “Avatar,” “Hugo,” and “Life of Pi” all walked away with multiple awards on the night. The film will undoubtedly factor in many technical categories like Cinematography, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects, we could see Cuaron along with son Jonas land among Screenplay candidates, though I suspect that may be an uphill climb given the competition this far out.

I’m excited (yet very hesitant) to see the possibility for Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki finally score his overdue Oscar. Losing hugely for “Children of Men” which he was teamed up with Cuaron, and “The Tree of Life” – his time on an Oscar stage has been long coming. Hopefully this is it. You can reward him based on the trailers and clips alone.

Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Original Score

12YearsaSlave_Fassbender_Chiwetel12 Years a Slave - Screened at Telluride and Venice

The hyperbole flowed over the internet with many critics saying the Oscar race was over. Steve McQueen‘s long-awaited “12 Years a Slave” scored positive notes for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. The words “brutal” and “hard” were found in over a dozen reviews. Currently predicted in Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, we haven’t had this many Black filmmakers, writers, and performers in serious contention for the top prizes this early out.

I was speaking to one of my writers recently and expressed a strong fear for the film to be ignored in several categories, no matter the quality. It happens more often than not, when many declare someone the “heart and soul” of a film, they are left off in competitive races. Think back to Paul Giamatti for “Sideways” and John Hawkes for “The Sessions.” As the Lead Actor race stacks itself up, Ejiofor is no sure thing. The Globes may bite where SAG may not or vice versa.

Michael Fassbender has been building himself up to the top ranks of working actors today for years now. Omitted in 2011 for “Shame” – also teamed up McQueen, this villainous turn received lots of praise for the festival-goers. In the Supporting Actor category, we are well aware that this is a place where the villains get the time to shine. Past winners like Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz, and Heath Ledger all won their accolades in a walk. One thing that keeps Fassbender slightly on the outside, as we have discussed, it’s hard for AMPAS voters to reward someone who is “pure evil” so to speak. Ralph Fiennes delivered one of the finest performances of the 90s as Amon Göeth in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning “Schindler’s List.” Mercilessly killing Jews during the Holocaust rang too true and uncomfortable for some voters and he ended up losing to Tommy Lee Jones for his fun, wise-cracking federal marshal in “The Fugitive.” If we have a veteran in a fun-loving film (I’m looking at you John Goodman!), even if the film is predestined to win all the Oscars on the night, Fassbender may simply be a bridesmaid.

Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Original Score
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:40 pm

http://graphics.latimes.com/towergraphic-from-toronto-to-the-oscars/


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From Toronto to the Oscars? Well …

To find an Oscar best picture winner that didn’t play at the Toronto International Film Festival, you have to go back to 2006 and Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.” (The last three winners — “Argo,” “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech” — also screened at Telluride just before their Toronto appearances, which should make the makers of the already acclaimed historical drama “12 Years a Slave” feel pretty good right about now as it heads from its Telluride triumph to Toronto this week.)

How might this year’s Toronto festival contenders fare? Let’s chart the Academy Awards promise and potential pitfalls of the high-profile movies scheduled to screen there over the next week …

By Glenn Whipp


Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps, Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in the historical drama “12 Years a Slave.” (Francois Duhamel / Fox Searchlight)
Premise:

Free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is kidnapped in 1841 New York, and sold into slavery.
Pedigree:

Director Steve McQueen’s previous two movies — “Hunger” and “Shame” — scored high marks from critics. Stars Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender have been invited to the Globes, but not the Oscars. Not yet, anyway.
Best-case scenario:

Uncompromising depiction of slavery builds on ecstatic Telluride buzz. Ejiofor cements front-runner status for lead actor.
Worst-case scenario:

Word-of-mouth focuses on the movie’s scenes of rape, whipping and mutilation, giving squeamish film academy members pause.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:18 pm

http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-09-03/12-years-a-slave-looks-like-an-early-oscars-contender---review-round-up


12 Years a Slave looks like an early Oscars contender - review round-up
The biopic starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt and Lupita Nyong'o gets rave reviews at the Telluride festival

Written By
Susanna Lazarus
6:23 PM, 03 September 2013

The first reviews are in on Steve McQueen's new biopic 12 Years a Slave and the critics haven't raved about a film in such a way since, well, Gravity. Rivalling flashbulb-friendly Venice is the Telluride Film Festival – now in its 40th year and having hosted world premieres of such Academy favourites as Argo, Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech.

This year’s five-day event played saw the first screening of 12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodward and Lupita Nyong’o. Based on the true story of free black American Solomon Northrup (Ejiofor), who in the mid-19th century was kidnapped and sold back into slavery, the feature follows the cruelties of his twelve-year journey back to liberty.

Here's what the enraptured reviewers had to say...

Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy said, "Despite the upsetting and vivid brutality, Fox Searchlight has a winner here that will generate copious media coverage, rivet the attention of the black public, stir much talk in political and educational circles and appeal to film audiences who crave something serious and different."

McCarthy added that, "Ejiofor is terrific in a demanding character... One feels his determination to get back to his family virtually at all times even though he doesn't talk about it, and toward the end there is an unusual extended close-up of him in which he looks out toward the unknown future as his eyes express a quicksilver array of emotions, from wonder to fear to hope."

The comments are echoed across the initial reviews, with the British actor uniting the critics in their praise. William Goss of Film.com commented on "Ejiofor's tightly clenched conviction," which "perfectly embodies hope and righteousness against all odds. He gives the performance of his career to date, and what's more, he gives 'Slave' its bruised, beating heart with every scene."

Chris Willman in Indiewire writes, "Faced with the daunting task of imbuing a remote dilemma with realism, Ejiofor matches McQueen's filmmaking skill. The actor's expression alone conveys a wholly unique set of emotions, blending exasperation, fear and rage that intensifies with each scene."

Giving the film an A+ grade, he adds, "More than a powerful elegy, 12 Years a Slave is a mesmerizing triumph of art and polemics: McQueen turns a topic rendered distant by history into an experience that, short of living through the terrible era it depicts, makes you feel as if you've been there."

Variety's senior film critic, Peter Debruge noted, "If Django Unchained opened the door, then 12 Years a Slave goes barrelling through it, tackling its subject with utmost seriousness." But in addition to heaping praise on Ejiofor, Debruge also singles out two of his co-stars for their performances. Fassbender's turn as evil plantation owner Edwin Epps he terms his "most courageous yet, tapping into a place of righteous superiority that reminds just how scary such racism can be."

Meanwhile, Lupita Nyong'o, who plays fellow slave Patsey on Epps’ plantation, he labels as the film's breakthrough star: "Actors like Nyong'o don't come along often, and she's a stunning discovery amidst an ensemble that carves out room for proven talents such as Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard and Brad Pitt to shine."

Writing in Hitfix, Gregory Ellwood also commends the film's stellar supporting cast, observing how, “McQueen is also blessed by fantastic small performances by a number of great actors including Paul Dano as an insecure overseer on Northup’s first plantation, Benedict Cumberbatch as Northup’s sympathetic (to a degree) first owner, Paul Giamatti as a cold-minded slave auctioneer, Alfre Woodward as a kept plantation owner’s wife and Pitt as Northup’s eventual salvation.”

He adds, “Sarah Paulson deserves special recognition for superbly avoiding clichés in the familiar role of a jealous plantation owner’s wife.”

12 Years a Slave is due in UK cinemas on 24 January 2014. Watch the trailer below…
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:22 pm

http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/503311/20130903/steve-mcqueen-12-years-slave-brad-pitt.htm#.Uiejyj9QF6Q

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Steve McQueen's Oscar Bet, "12 Years a Slave" (with Photos)

By Riza Ornos | September 3, 2013 6:53 PM EST

Based on a real life story of Solomon Northup, "12 Years a Slave" is a mesmering film of survival of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Directed by Steve McQueen and written by John Ridley, this film is scheduled to premier at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013.
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A story of a free black who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

The film received rave reviews when it was premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in the famous Galaxy Theater. McQueen was given a standing ovation as the credits roll together with its principal stars - Chiwetel Ejiofor (Salt and 2012) who played Solomon Northup, Michael Fassbender, Kenyan newcomer Lupita Nyong'o and Brad Pitt who happens to be a producer of the film.

Based on Northup's 1853 biography, this film was in development in August 2011 making Ejiofor the star of his film and based the character's conduct of "of class and dignity" to that of Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. By the end of 2011 Micahel Fassbender joined the cast and at the end of the June 2012 the film was scheduled to begin.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor nailed his performance as Solomon Northup, as he face cruelty by his malevolent slave owner and receive unexpected kindness while he stuggles to stay alive and retaining his dignity. But the turning point of his life is when he met a Canadian abolitionist (Pitt) that will change his life forever.

McQueen began filming in New Orleans, Louisiana with a production budget of $20 million on June 27, 2012 and lasted for 7 weeks, and concluded it on August 13, 2012. "12 Years a Slave" will be released by Fox Searchlight on October 18, 2012 and this will be Steve McQueen's third feature after his last film "Shame" with Micheal Fassbender as the lead.

"Had Steve McQueen not already christened his previous picture thus, 'Shame' would have been the perfect one-word title to capture the gut-wrenching impact of his third and most essential feature,"according to Variety's critic Peter Debruge . "This epic account of an unbreakable soul makes even Scarlett O'Hara's struggles seem petty by comparison."

"12 Years a Slave" will be this year's award contender that will highlight the subject race in America together with high caliber films like "The Butler", "42" and "Fruitvale Station."
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:48 pm

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/sep/07/12-years-a-slave-toronto-premiere


Toronto: 12 Years a Slave premieres to ecstatic reactions and Oscar lockdown

Steve McQueen's account of a free man sold into slavery wins awards buzz, a standing ovation, and praise for its director from producer/star Brad Pitt

Catherine Shoard
theguardian.com, Friday 6 September 2013 23.04 EDT

12 Years a Slave film still
Oscar contender: Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. Photograph: Planet Photos/Fox Searchlight/Planet Photos

The Oscar race has been pronounced over, six months before the ceremony itself. At the Toronto film festival, the premiere of British director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave was met on Friday evening with an overwhelming reception: gasps, sobs, a smattering of walk-outs at particularly brutal moments, and finally, a prolonged standing ovation.

12 Years a Slave
Production year: 2013
Country: USA
Directors: Steve McQueen
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano
More on this film

The crowds leaving the auditorium were primed to place bets on the film being an unbeatable contender for best picture, as well as McQueen for best director, best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, best supporting actor for Michael Fassbender, best supporting actress for Lupita Nyong'o, as well as the full slate of technical nods.

12 Years a Slave met with ecstatic reviews when a sneak preview debuted at the boutique film festival in Telluride last week, but the raves coming out of Toronto are likely the crucial second step in what looks certain to be a triumphant awards campaign.

McQueen's third feature as director, following 2008's Hunger and 2011's Shame, 12 Years a Slave is very faithfully adapted from the memoir by Solomon Northup, a free man living with his family in relative affluence near New York, who in 1841 was duped, drugged, abducted and sold into slavery. John Ridley adapted the book for the big screen, McQueen's partner, Bianca Stigter - who he thanked on stage before the premiere - was the person who originally suggested it as a source.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Solomon's first, more progressive owner; Michael Fassbender - McQueen's longterm collaborator - his much less benevolent second. Slave shares much of the aesthetic (particularly the unflinching violence) that distinguished McQueen's earlier films, yet here the splashy tech setpieces have been cast aside. This is a film in the service of both its story and a hero who's much more unequivocally sympathetic than those from Hunger and Shame. The odd flash of McQueen's installation-origins remains - a burnt piece of paper in the pitch black night, its embers dying like shrinking larvae - but this is also accessible and immediate; a winning mix of mainstream and arthouse.

After the final credits rolled, McQueen returned to the stage with his cast and crew, including Brad Pitt, who as well as producing through his Plan B label, also plays a sympathetic carpenter. Of the decision to back the project, Pitt said: "Steve was the first to ask the big question: why have there not been more films on American history of slavery? It took a Brit to ask it …. And I just have to say: if I never get to participate in a film again, this is it for me."

The premiere is likely also it for the festival, just one day in. If the notion that 12 Years a Slave won't win the best picture Oscar seems absurd to those who've seen it, the idea that it wouldn't take the audience award - the sole honour at the Toronto film festival - is plain insane.

• This article was amended on 7 September to explain the reason for the walkouts and name McQueen's partner.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:52 pm

http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/12-years-a-slave-will-win-best-picture.html


Today at 2:25 AM
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Toronto: Your Best Picture Winner Will Be 12 Years a Slave

By Kyle Buchanan

Suspend the betting, close the books, and notify the engraver: I've just seen what will surely be this year's Best Picture winner, and it's 12 Years a Slave. There's no question in my mind that this will be our ultimate awards season victor, and the fact that there's still any room for debate at all means that Oscar bloggers were high on more than mountain air last week at the Telluride Film Festival, where the film first sneaked before tonight's official Toronto Film Festival premiere. In fact, I'll go one further … no, two further: Not only will 12 Years triumph in the Best Picture category, but I'd put my money on a historic Best Director win for Steve McQueen, and I'd mark Chiwetel Ejiofor as the frontrunner for Best Actor. Like, what's gonna beat this movie? Freakin' Monuments Men?

To bring you up to speed — though if you're unfamiliar with 12 Years a Slave, that won't last long — the fact-based film stars Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free violinist living in 1841 New York who is drugged by two shady employers (one of whom, randomly, is Saturday Night Live's Taran Killam), then kidnapped from his family, transported to Louisiana, and sold into slavery. Renamed Platt, the badly beaten Northup struggles to sublimate his personality in order to survive, a task that is already dehumanizing but becomes downright untenable when he is sold to the sadistic plantation owner Edwin Epps (played by Michael Fassbender, who previously starred for McQueen in Hunger and Shame).

I'll leave the eventual review of 12 Years a Slave to my colleague David Edelstein; all I can tell you about is the audience reaction, plus my gut instincts. On the first count, the movie was simply shattering. It wasn't just that people broke down crying throughout — though plenty in my audience did — it's that during the closing credits, when I finally found it in me to stand and turn around, I looked back at faces that were shell-shocked to the core. One writer friend of mine was inconsolable, speechless; I took him to get a drink, and for a while at the bar, we just sat and said nothing. At a film festival, you're often expected to move on to the next screening or assignment, but this movie had knocked us flat, and two people normally quick with words not only couldn't find them, but didn't need to. Later, I had that same, silent "holy s$#!" moment with several other colleagues who'd seen the movie; when my roommate came home from her 12 Years screening as I was writing this article, she said simply, "There it is, we're done. Game over."

I expect the Academy will agree with her. There are still many movies yet to screen here at Toronto — August: Osage County, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, could be a contender — and Oscar blogger Jeff Wells told me he thinks that David O. Russell is due for an Academy Award and that the forthcoming American Hustle could be his ticket. But could even the best versions of those movies feel seminal the same way 12 Years a Slave immediately does? There hasn't been a filmed project that engages this galvanically with the subject of slavery since the television miniseries Roots; yes, we got Django Unchained last year, but compared to the hard truths of 12 Years, that jape-filled Best Picture nominee is from another dimension. It helps, too, that the movie is an across-the-board formal triumph. McQueen makes not a single misstep with the camera, many of the actors are turning in career-best work (or, in the case of surefire Supporting Actress nominee Lupita Nyong'o as a sympathetic fellow slave, building a career on the spot), and behind-the-scenes contributions from writer John Ridley and compose Hans Zimmer are simply sterling.

Should another film come along that's capable of equalling 12 Years a Slave, I'd be happy for my awards predictions to be proven wrong, but let's get real: That isn't going to happen. It's the capstone to a remarkable year for black cinema that also includes success stories Fruitvale Station and The Butler, and it could reign supreme in a night destined to make Oscar history, especially if McQueen becomes the first black filmmaker to take home Best Director. As I sat in the bar with that shattered writer tonight and we struggled to speak, I said, "A century from now, when they put together a montage about the history of movies? They'll put the film we just saw in the first ten seconds of that montage." He didn't even question it; he just nodded, a lump rising in his throat. Normally, I'd feel like I was sticking my neck out to engage in that sort of hyperbole, but this is as easy a call as I've ever made. Beat that, kids.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:32 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/06/12-years-a-slave-toronto_n_3883998.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment

'12 Years A Slave' Stuns Toronto, Compared To 'Schindler's List'

The Huffington Post | By Christopher Rosen Posted: 09/06/2013 11:54 pm EDT | Updated: 09/07/2013 5:35 pm EDT

One week after "12 Years A Slave" debuted at the Telluride Film Festival to rave reviews, Steve McQueen's film won even greater acclaim after its official premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday night.

"I am composed enough to say '12 Years A Slave' is the best, most emotionally powerful movie I have seen in a decade, at least," BuzzFeed senior film reporter Adam B. Vary wrote on Twitter in the first of two tweets about the film. "I would be afraid about overselling '12 Years a Slave,' but if you love cinema and storytelling and are human, you will understand." Vary elaborated on those thoughts in a piece for BuzzFeed called "'12 Years A Slave' Is The Must-See Movie Of The Year, And Should Win All The Oscars."

He wasn't alone in effusive praise for the film: "Suspend the betting, close the books, and notify the engraver: I've just seen what will surely be this year's Best Picture winner, and it's '12 Years a Slave,'" Vulture movies editor Kyle Buchanan wrote in his "12 Years A Slave" piece, titled "Toronto: Your Best Picture Winner Will Be '12 Years A Slave.'" "I'd put my money on a historic Best Director win for Steve McQueen, and I'd mark Chiwetel Ejiofor as the frontrunner for Best Actor. Like, what's gonna beat this movie? Freakin' 'Monuments Men'?" (The George Clooney film, about a group of soldiers hunting down lost art stolen by the Nazis, is set for release in December.)

Ejiofor, McQueen, Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o were in attendance at the Toronto premiere, along with co-star and producer Brad Pitt. "If I never get to participate in a film again, this is it for me," co-star Brad Pitt said during a Q&A after the screening (via Variety). "It was a privilege."

Ahead, a selection of post-screening tweets from critics and journalists at the Toronto International Film Festival. Fox Searchlight will release "12 Years A Slave" on Oct. 18, following its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 8.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:57 pm

http://www.thalo.com/shared_articles/view/10571/12_years_a_slave_sets_toronto_film_fest_ablaze/

'12 Years a Slave' sets Toronto Film Fest ablaze with buzz

September 9, 2013

TORONTO _ If Hollywood remains the symbolic dream factory, more than ever the Toronto International Film Festival qualifies as the dream factory's biggest buzz saw.

The movies generating the loudest, most persistent awards-season buzz at this most public of major international festivals, now in its 38th year, often go on to conquer the year-end lists, and the Academy Awards of the new year.

It worked for "No Country For Old Men." It worked for "Slumdog Millionaire." It worked for "The Hurt Locker" and "The Artist" and last year's Toronto favorite and eventual Oscar winner, "Argo."

On Friday, day two of the 11-day festival (which operates on a $39 million annual budget), the tweets screeched the news: The race was already over, nearly six months before Oscar night on March 2. Following its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival a week earlier, "12 Years a Slave," director Steve McQueen's exceptional, brutally eloquent account of the free-born Northerner Solomon Northup's 1841 abduction into plantation enslavement, destroyed the public premiere audience here in Toronto.

By the time McQueen's film was shown in a second press-and-industry screening Saturday the word wasn't merely out, it was cemented. This was the film to beat. By Sunday morning, McQueen (an Englishman who divides his time between London and Amsterdam) and his remarkable leading actors, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, looked a little gobsmacked by the response to the picture, shot in Louisiana on a relatively modest $20 million budget.

Criminally few slave narratives have found their way in front of a camera; if nothing else, "12 Years a Slave" points this out simply by existing, let alone by being as powerful as it is. Screenwriter John Ridley borrows liberally and judiciously from Northup's memoir, published in 1854. McQueen's work exists on an entirely different plane than the facetious, audience-baiting sadism of the recent "Django Unchained." Much of "12 Years a Slave" is difficult to stomach. Yet McQueen, a visual artist who works in several mediums, is neither clinical nor salacious in his depiction of what Northup survived, and so many others did not.

"The initial response has been so amazing," the London-based Ejiofor said over coffee Sunday. "But I do want people to look at it with their own eyes. The thing about hype and buzz is that it affects the experience, somehow. I want people to ignore the buzz."

And good luck with that. The release of "12 Years a Slave" has been moved up to mid-October, a couple of weeks after general audiences will get a look at director Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity," the festival's other big wow of the opening weekend.

Already an enormous success at the Venice film festival, "Gravity" is "Marooned," but exciting. Stripped bare of the usual expositional blah-blah and relatively light-handed when it comes to backstory, it stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts on a routine space station mission spun, literally, into crisis mode by a series of unfortunate events.

It's a small picture from one angle: 90 minutes in length, two characters on screen, and for a good stretch of the film, only one. But the visual impact of "Gravity" is anything but small. Shot in the most persuasively immersive 3-D since "Avatar," Cuaron's film (cowritten by him and his son, Jonas) makes getting creamed by space debris look like the coolest thing in the world. Or above it.

Other early festival titles have included director Ron Howard's "Rush," a disappointing biopic of Formula One rivals James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), written by Peter Morgan, veteran of the two-headed dialectical biopic ("The Queen," "Frost/Nixon"). Considerably better, "The Invisible Woman" finds Ralph Fiennes in front of the camera as Charles Dickens opposite Felicity Jones as his much younger paramour, Ellen Ternan. Fiennes also directs, in his sophomore feature effort (he made the undervalued "Coriolanus"). "An Invisible Woman" is a Sony Pictures Classics release, rolling out at the end of the year, in time for Oscar consideration. Should Oscar consider considering it.

At the annual Sony Classics press event, which included dinner for 100 or so, Fiennes told me about his one and only trip to Chicago (to hear Leonard Cohen in concert) and talked about the Shakespeare he'd like to crack next on stage ("Macbeth"). Even here, though, at a dinner showcasing work of a distributor having nothing to do with "12 Years a Slave," people kept asking about "12 Years a Slave." You could hardly hear the waiters over the metaphoric buzz saws.

Monday brings, among others, "August: Osage County." The Toronto festival continues through Sept. 15.

___

Michael Phillips: mjphillips@tribune.com
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:26 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/criticwire/is-12-years-a-slave-an-oscar-lock-please-dont-ask

Is '12 Years a Slave' an Oscar Lock? Please Don't Ask
News
by Sam Adams
September 9, 2013 12:23 PM

Based on the true story of a free black man who was sold into slavery in the American South, Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave has been greeted with fervent and near-universal praise in Toronto, as well as by assertions that its rapturous reception virtually guarantees a Best Picture win. "Your Best Picture Winner Will Be 12 Years a Slave" predicts Vulture's Kyle Buchanan, while BuzzFeed's Adam B. Vary went for a more exhortatory approach: "12 Years a Slave Is the Must-See Movie of the Year, and Should Win All the Oscars." By Saturday afternoon, a few hours after the film's first press screening, Indiewire's Peter Knegt could say he was "repeating the chorus that 12 Years a Slave is winning best picture."

The chorus grew so great that Grantland Oscarologist Mark Harris -- one of the rare writers who covers the race as a bonafide journalist rather than a studio sycophant -- was moved to weigh in from New York: "You guys declaring the Best Picture race over know you're not doing 12 Years a Slave any favors, right?" Harris wouldn't have to go far back to find evidence that movies declared early frontrunners often end up losing: Try last year, when Argo premiered at Toronto and was promptly slotted as solid but nothing spectacular, and hardly awards material. The Huffington Post's Mike Ryan, who wasn't one of the Oscar hypemen, called 12 Years a Slave "the Saving Private Ryan of slavery movies," which if true would mean there's another Shakespeare in Love waiting in the wings.

The thing is, the people calling 12 Years a Slave a Best-Picture lock know that as well, which leaves one of two explanations. Either they're deliberately saying something ridiculous because it will make a big splash, or they're, as Vary admitted in an exchange with Harris, using Oscar predictions as "a crude shorthand for authentic emotional [reactions]."

Crude shorthand is what Twitter does best, but it's not the best way to hash out the history of slavery, or the intricate complexity that's as much a part of 12 Years a Slave as its gut-sock power. In a particularly infelicitous tweet, the Los Angeles Times' Steven Zeitchik said the movie "will change the Oscar race, sure, but more to the point, it will change the conversation on race," bringing delicate issues to bear by way of a crude pun.

There's something disturbing, and slightly warped, about the ease with which Oscar talk takes the place of substantive reaction: Imagine telling your high-school sweetheart, "I love you so much; you're a lock for prom queen." There's a gut element to Oscar predictions, but at heart they're strategic calculations: Can Fox Searchlight hold onto first place for five solid months? How McQueen's intense intellectualism play on the campaign trail? Those may be interesting questions, but they're not important ones. The questions 12 Years a Slave means to ask are much thornier, and a lot harder to answer.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:57 am

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20130910/ENT04/309100073?nclick_check=1

Toronto recap: Oscar talk begins for real
Sep. 11, 2013   |  

Written by
Donna Freydkin and Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY

Sandra Bullock

The film: Gravity (Oct. 4)

Back story: In much of the film, co-written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón and co-starring George Clooney, Bullock is alone on-screen, floating in weightlessness and fighting for her life.

"It was lonely, but in the best way. It was frustrating, painful, it was isolating," she says. "It was an amazing experience to be able to do as an actor but I think more importantly as a woman. It could have very easily gone to the role of a man, and I appreciate that Alfonso (wrote it) for a woman."

During a Q&A with Cuarón, Bullock noted that "most people have that out-of-body experience when they win the Oscar. I had a little newborn at home. So my body was already out of itself. And I think it was the universe's way of humbling me and saying, 'You know what's important? The acid reflux vomit that's happening right now.'" — Mandell


Michael Fassbender/Chiwetel Ejiofor

The film: 12 Years a Slave (limited release Oct. 18)

Back story: Co-stars Ejiofor, who won acclaim for 2006's Children of Men, and Fassbender, who has collaborated with director Steve McQueen on Hunger and Shame, hope audiences aren't influenced by the hype surrounding 12 Years a Slave at the festival.

Fassbender calls the praise from critics "icing on the cake. But the cake is the cake." Ejiofor nods and says it's early for that talk.

"I love the film," says Ejiofor, who plays Solomon Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery. "I think it's a really strong piece of work. But I want people to come to it without all the buzz and the hype and this and that. It's a story of a man going through an extraordinary circumstance."

Fassbender, who plays a psychotic cotton plantation owner, saw the film for the first time at last month's Telluride (Colo.) Film Festival. "I have a tradition of waiting until the last minute, sort of the premiere with Steve's stuff," he says. "I really feel it's a masterwork. I just felt so proud to be a part of it." — Mandell
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:19 pm

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9662243/is-12-years-slave-really-best-picture-lock

Is 12 Years a Slave Really a Best Picture Lock?

Race and the rush to call the 2013 Oscars
By Mark Harris on September 12, 2013

Until last week, I was very excited about returning to Grantland as your Oscar-season correspondent after a year off, and looking forward to examining the Academy Awards race from every angle for the next six months. But then I went on the Internet looking for coverage of the Toronto Film Festival, and found out that I'm too late — the race is over. "I've just seen what will surely be this year's Best Picture winner, and it's 12 Years a Slave," wrote one of my amiable colleagues, Vulture's Oscar guy Kyle Buchanan. Inexplicably worried that that sentence might make him sound like some kind of fence-sitting wuss, he added, "the fact that there's still any room for debate at all means that Oscar bloggers were high."

Well … damn it! I thought we had several months to see all of the actual movies, but apparently that's just fuzzyheadedness caused by residual THC. Buchanan's strong sentiments were echoed in only slightly less stentorian fashion by much of the rest of the Oscarati, leading the Guardian's Catherine Shoard to report that "the notion that 12 Years a Slave won't win the best picture Oscar seems absurd to those who've seen it."

It's no longer news that fall film festivals in Toronto, Venice, and Telluride function in part as awards-season launching pads; the practice is largely sanctioned and financed by the distributors who provide hot-ticket movies, and tacitly encouraged by the festivals themselves. However, even aside from the disservice to the movie, an early line-in-the-sand awards declaration can sometimes lead to months of defensive posturing ("Well, the Scorsese is good, but I hold to my earlier contention that … "). It also runs the risk of turning handicappers into advocates not just for their own favorite movies but for their own early calls. The recent compulsion to anoint a Best Picture favorite around Labor Day, a full 17 weeks before the end of the eligibility period for movies, represents the convergence of several factors: A shorter pre-nomination Oscar calendar, a recent run of winners the intense hype for which started at Toronto and Telluride (Argo launched at both), and an infection of festival coverage by web-driven "First!" culture. In Oscar talk as in all things, Twitter in particular rewards the quick, the loud, and the unequivocal, and the sight of men (and it's mostly men) racing to turn on their phones, thumbs a-twitching, after the end of a press screening almost always signals an impending stampede toward overstatement.

But it's worth asking why — aside from its reported excellence — 12 Years a Slave rather than some other movie is the beneficiary of this year's hasty coronation. The answer may not be that buzz moves quickly, but that Hollywood moves slowly. The thirst to wrap up 2013's Academy Awards narrative before it has even started with a film that tears into the history of slavery in America may represent, at long last, the Obama Effect rippling all the way to the Dolby Theatre. And I don't mean the effect of his reelection. I mean Obama 2008.
Fruitvale Station
The Weinstein Company

Movies take a long time — what often seems an insanely long time — to make. We like to imagine that the films to which we respond most passionately are those that illuminate our moment, but when they do, it's usually by luck or by prescience. What "timely" movies actually reflect is the passion for a subject that a writer, director, or producer had two to five years earlier, which is about what it takes for a serious, Oscar-friendly film to evolve from conception to release. (Last year's two most nominated pictures, Lincoln1 and Life of Pi, each took a decade.) It has been five and a half years since then-senator Obama, in the middle of his 2008 primary fight, called for a "national conversation about race" in one of his first widely seen speeches. But when he brought up the idea, most people didn't know where to begin.

That included people in Hollywood, which generally treats history with triumphalism, race with trepidation, and African American moviegoers as a niche that Tyler Perry will continue to take care of. So it's remarkable that the industry managed to respond at all. In terms of the Oscars, the cinematic version of the national conversation began a year later, in the fall of 2009, with the unexpected mainstream success of Precious (to which the Weinstein Company affixed the names of Perry and of Oprah Winfrey as if they were lucky charms, which in many ways they were). In 2010, DreamWorks bought the rights to the surprise best seller The Help and put it on the fast track to production; one summer later, the movie became a crossover smash. Last year brought the Sundance breakthrough Beasts of the Southern Wild as well as Hollywood's first two major treatments of the Civil War era and the subject of slavery in many years, Lincoln and Django Unchained, which ended 2012 with commentators attempting to nudge them into unlikely historical dialogue with one another.

All five of those movies outperformed expectations at the box office, and all five received Best Picture nominations. None of them won the big prize, but cumulatively, they have created a sense that perhaps the Oscars are building to something — and maybe what they're building to is this moment.

This spring saw the success of the Jackie Robinson biopic 42; the biggest success out of January's Sundance Film Festival has been the young writer-director Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station; and Lee Daniels' The Butler is the only movie of 2013 to have topped the box office for three consecutive weeks. Let's pause to acknowledge, for a moment, that rather remarkable run of eight successful movies in 24 months. Yes, some of the films are deeply flawed, but all of them are at least worth arguing over, and for an industry so averse to touching anything real that it has recently ceded niches like "adult" and "serious" and "complicated" to cable television, this sustained big-screen attempt to examine a painful subject from multiple angles is without recent precedent. And now comes 12 Years a Slave, which opens October 18 and was, according to The Hollywood Reporter, greeted with "shock and awe" upon its world premiere in Telluride.

I've written before about the importance of awards-season narratives in the Oscar contest — fairy tales to which the perfect ending is the bestowal of a statuette. This year, the narrative about race has gotten very loud, very early. It's a story line with a heavy dose of "The time has come" (to quote Barbra Streisand when she presented the award for Best Director to Kathryn Bigelow). A win for 12 Years a Slave, which was directed by a black Englishman and written by an African American, would not only make Oscar history but also satisfy a longstanding Academy tradition; handing it the top prize would be somewhat akin to belatedly recognizing an actress who has come close several times in the last few years only to be denied. In addition, after repeatedly rewarding light, quasi-inspirational fare from abroad like Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech, and The Artist, a Best Picture win might amount to an assertion that Academy voters can occasionally bestir themselves to honor material that is tough, unflinching, and intrinsically American in its content (the Academy is almost always looking to correct for something it vaguely senses it has recently done wrong).

12 Years a Slave also connects deeply to Academy history in other ways. Like Best Picture winners ranging from 1947's Gentleman's Agreement to 1967's In the Heat of the Night to 1993's Schindler's List, the movie chooses to explore a moral evil by casting an outsider into its midst — in this case Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a freeborn black man in the North who was kidnapped and then enslaved and then, well, no spoilers, but, you know, keep your eye on what goes down in year 13! An Academy Award for 12 Years would be something new, but it would also serve as a culmination of sorts, and man, do Oscar voters ever love culminating.
Django
Weinstein Co.

This might be a good time to mention a few things: (1) It's September, for God's sake. (2) I haven't seen 12 Years a Slave. (3) You haven't seen 12 Years a Slave. (4) Oscar observers are not the same as critics, the paying public, or Academy members, all of whose verdicts will be more important to the fate of the movie than the thoughts of anybody who's talking about it today, and as of this writing, most of the people who will matter the most cannot spell Chiwetel Ejiofor without Google. (5) This whole discussion has not really been about the content or quality of 12 Years a Slave at all (when it opens, we can have a real conversation). All of which is to say that one should take shouty pronunciamentos delivered in a sweaty swivet after an emotional screening with a big grain of salt. (I made one once, about Antwone Fisher. I'm still living it down.) It's a long road to the Oscars, and even if 12 Years a Slave ends up crossing the finish line first, no movie makes it from September to February without hitting some speed bumps — other movies, backlash, op-ed page harrumphing, hype fatigue.

As deserving a winner (if it wins) as 12 Years a Slave may end up being, excessive or premature advocacy for this particular happy ending should discomfort us all. Deciding to give a movie an Academy Award as a way of "taking care of" something can be a way of exonerating yourself from thinking about whatever actual issues you imagine you're taking care of. (As Oscar host Jon Stewart famously said in 2006 after a montage of earnest scenes from Hollywood social-relevance dramas, " … and none of those things were ever problems again.") Beware the perfume of self-congratulation that wafts through this particular awards narrative, and beware any narrative that sells a movie as an excellent symbolic choice while papering over its specific merits, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.

There are people who believe 12 Years a Slave is the movie that should win Best Picture (I'd argue that that's an absurd thought until we've seen the whole field, but enthusiasm is enthusiasm). However, as the season progresses, there will also be people who think 12 Years a Slave is the kind of movie that should win Best Picture. Watch out for them; they are up to no good; they will be the same people who think that 12 Years gives them permission not to think too much about Fruitvale Station or The Butler. Both of those movies are attempting to travel different, well-established roads to nominations — Fruitvale Station is trying to follow Beasts of the Southern Wild as this year's artisanal Sundance sensation, and The Butler, as fascinatingly jagged and oddball as it is, also works on enough traditional levels to walk an honorable old Oscar campaign path labeled The Movie Your Parents Like More Than You Do. The problem with settling too soon on a "year of the black movie" Oscar narrative is that it erodes distinctions within a set of films whose power lies in how unique each one is; it's a diminishment disguised as a celebration. Proceed with caution.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:09 pm

http://www.gbcghana.com/index.php?id=1.1532514

Sep 17, 2013 at 11:10am
Toronto laureate already an Oscar favourite
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British director Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave” has won the prestigious audience award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Featuring an A-list line-up including Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, the film tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

“Americans weren’t ready to look at their recent past and it’s understandable,” said director Steve McQueen at the Toronto premiere. “It takes a while for you to grapple with that. And I think with having a black president, with the unfortunate recent events of Trayvon Martin and the two aniversaries, the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery and civil rights march, people want to take a look at their recent past.”

The Toronto award confirms the movie’s status as one of the year’s leading Oscar contenders. If recent years are anything to go by, it looks like Academy members are increasingly following Toronto’s lead, with Oscar winners including “The King’s Speech” and “Slumdog Millionaire” both Toronto laureates.

“12 Years A Slave” is on release now in North America and will be out in Europe early next year.

SOURCE: euronews
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:19 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-rosen/12-years-a-slave-awards-screeners_b_3963600.html?1379777482


On '12 Years A Slave,' Awards Screeners & Oscar Narratives: For Your Consideration
Posted: 09/20/2013 3:19 pm

Here's how things work during Oscar season: Vulture movies editor Kyle Buchanan has already awarded "12 Years A Slave" this year's Best Picture trophy. Grantland awards expert Mark Harris and TheWrap awards expert Steve Pond threw cold water on that notion -- all while noting that Buchanan might end up being right. All this, and "12 Years A Slave" doesn't arrive in proper movie theaters for another four weeks.

There are valid reasons for and against "12 Years A Slave" winning Best Picture, none of which have to do with the success of "12 Years A Slave." (Steve McQueen's film is, at its very worst, a very good movie; it's impossible to imagine anyone giving it a poor review.) As CinemaBlend's Katey Rich wrote on Friday, Oscar season is about the narrative. "Argo" won Best Picture not necessarily because it was a better film than "Zero Dark Thirty," "Lincoln" or "Silver Linings Playbook," but because it had the best backstory: an A-list Hollywood star hits the skids, rebuilds his career, gets snubbed in the process, and still triumphs over all. Not even Frank Capra could write a script like that.

The narrative surrounding "12 Years A Slave" at the moment is that it should win Best Picture because it's about more than winning Best Picture. Rich and others have compared "12 Years A Slave" to "Schindler's List," focusing on the fact that both films are important historical documents which cast horrible genocides in entirely new lights. That's true, but maybe not enough: "Schindler's List," after all, had an additional awards season storyline of crowning Steven Spielberg as a proper Oscar winner after being snubbed for two decades (he had already won the Irvin Thalberg lifetime achievement award in 1987), a factor that cannot be discounted. (Where is the Steven Spielberg of "12 Years A Slave"?)

In his piece, Pond provides an excellent blueprint for the coming debate about "12 Years A Slave" and its Oscar bona fides, echoing many points Mike Hogan and I made after "12 Years A Slave" debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The CliffsNotes: (1) McQueen's film is beautiful and nuanced, but also difficult and depressing (even if the story's final moments are filled with hope). (2) McQueen himself isn't going to glad-hand awards voters, something that many feel prevented David Fincher from winning Best Director at the 2012 Oscars (he lost to Tom Hooper and "The King's Speech"). In the end, though, the one thing keeping "12 Years A Slave" from winning Best Picture (besides the date on the calendar; it's Sept. 20), is the nature of film itself. Here's Pond:

3. You can't ignore the screener factor. It's no secret that Academy voters watch a lot of their films on screeners. And inevitably, they watch a bunch of those screeners over the Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays, with their families around. That's why there's always a glut of screeners arriving in the mail the week before Thanksgiving, and a final barrage in mid-December - everybody wants to be one of those DVDs that voters throw in the suitcase and take to Aspen or Hawaii. But after a family dinner, are they really going to reach for the brutal two-and-a-half hour movie about slavery?

Indeed, that feels like the biggest impediment to "12 Years A Slave," future Best Picture winner. Are voters going to watch, and will McQueen's film -- and the stirring cinematography by McQueen's frequent collaborator, Sean Bobbitt -- translate to the small screen? Since "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" was crowned Best Picture winner at the 2004 Oscars, the films that have won Hollywood's highest honor include "Million Dollar Baby," "Crash," "The Departed," "No Country for Old Men," "Slumdog Millionaire," "The Hurt Locker," "The King's Speech," "The Artist" and "Argo." Losers ("losers") over that same time period include "Brokeback Mountain," "There Will Be Blood" and "Avatar." The enemy of the widescreen epic is the film that plays well on TV.

So, where does that leave "12 Years A Slave"? Maybe still on the Dolby Theatre stage come March 2, 2014; looking at the list of remaining 2013 releases, only "American Hustle," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Saving Mr. Banks" seem to qualify as potential competitors. Yet if one of those films ends up as the home screener every voter wants to watch in December, then that could ultimately sway the race away from the theatrical beauty of "12 Years A Slave." Movies, now more than ever, right?
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:00 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/oscars-a-look-at-the-supporting-actor-field-including-michael-fassbender-tom-hanks-james-gandolfini-20130919?page=2#blogPostHeaderPanel

Oscars: A Look At The Supporting Actor Field, Including Michael Fassbender, Jared Leto & James Gandolfini
Awards
by Oliver Lyttelton
September 23, 2013 2:32 PM

So far, for the most part, a good chunk of the 2013 awards contenders have been seen but only by the high falutin' critical types that frequent film festivals—as we saw last week. But that started to change last week with the release of two legit Best Picture contenders: Ron Howard's "Rush," and Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners." So even those trying to stick their head in the sand and avoid Oscar season aren't going to have much of a choice from here on out.

The two films, along with Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said," which also opened last week, are united by another thing: they all feature performances that could well be among the Best Supporting Actor contenders when nominations are announced in January. Daniel Bruhl, Jake Gyllenhaal and James Gandolfini are all very much in the running, and with their movies now hitting theaters, it felt like the perfect category to examine first in our week-by-week look at the awards season. Which performers are solidifying their buzz? Who could potentially surprise by shaking things up a few weeks or months from now?

Early Year Contenders

As is likely to be the case across most of the categories, there are only a handful of viable contenders coming from films released between the start of January and the end of August. A24 have already started a campaign for James Franco in "Spring Breakers," but it's more for fun than anything else: Franco's certainly deserving, but few Academy members are likely to make it far enough into the film for him to turn up, let alone to watch his metal-faced, Lil' Wayne-aping character fellate a gun. More viable is Matthew McConaughey in another 2012 festival holdover, "Mud." The film was one of the biggest indie hits of the year and fits right into the McConaughey comeback narrative, with the actor already looking a dead-cert for a nomination for "Dallas Buyers Club." Our gut is that he doesn't do the double with "Mud"—it'll feel like old news by the time voting comes around, especially given that it premiered at Cannes in 2012 and 'Buyers Club' will likely get the bulk of the publicity. But it is a film that we can see voters responding to, so you never know.

Another film released months ago that could be seen as being in the Academy's wheelhouse is surprise hit "42," and Harrison Ford is a very faint possibility for a nod; again, the film could end up getting a "Blind Side" kind of reaction from Academy members. That said, they likely saw it months ago and Ford's turn is likely to be superseded by more recent ones. Ben Foster's turn in "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" is deserving, but the film doesn't have much traction while some have suggested Andrew Dice Clay for "Blue Jasmine," but we suspect that the comic's public persona isn't going to endear him to many. Finally, of the expansive cast of "Lee Daniels' The Butler," David Oyelowo, as the title character's son, seems to have the best shot of the supporting players, but while the actor's destined to be recognized at some point, this feels like a stretch to us.

Hot From The Festival Circuit

As we mentioned in the intro, this week sees a fair few possibilities arriving in theaters that have been picking up buzz since they arrived on the festival circuit. Perhaps the most potent, at least at first, is Daniel Bruhl, who's been winning rave reviews for his portrayal of Niki Lauda in Ron Howard's "Rush." The actor's not a terribly familiar face to Academy members, but it'll help that he's also a key part of "The Fifth Estate" (it looked at one point as though he might end up competing against himself, but the latter has so little traction that it seems unlikely), and he's winning new fans every time the film screens.

Less certain is James Gandolfini for "Enough Said," given that voters have so far resisted Nicole Holofcener's other work. But he's certainly been warmly received in the picture and if the film does decently, Fox Searchlight could well end up pushing through to a nomination. Frankly, if Gandolfini is nominated then there's a damn good chance he might posthumously win the award. It's getting the film into consideration will be the greater challenge. A similar difficulty faces "Prisoners"—as one of the first films in contention to open, it has to keep up momentum throughout the fall without the benefit of a more gradual limited roll-out.

But if it can get that far then Jake Gyllenhaal might well be a viable nominee—he's arguably had the best notices of the film. It'd be a slight element of category fraud as he's essentially the co-lead, but we believe that Warners are pushing Gyllenhaal to supporting and sticking co-star Hugh Jackman in Best Actor, and the "Brokeback Mountain" star arguably has a better chance in a less crowded-field after picking up some of the best reviews of his career. We'd place him outside the final five at present, but if "Prisoners" maintains over the next few weeks, that could change.

Otherwise, both Jared Leto for "Dallas Buyers Club" and Michael Fassbender for "12 Years A Slave" firmly staked their claims to a place in the race during Telluride and TIFF, and both look likely to end up among the final five. The former in particular might be the frontrunner at this stage, winning career-best raves for his first acting performance in four years as the transgendered business partner of McConaughey's character. We stated a touch of skepticism about Fassbender last week—he's less of a lock than co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o—but with an open field he could well follow the film if it's the awards phenomenon most are expecting it to be.

Elsewhere, many are tipping newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who plays the lead hijacker in "Captain Phillips" for a nomination but we'd need to see the film for ourselves to really get behind the idea. We have seen "Gravity" and "Philomena," and George Clooney and Steve Coogan are possible respectively for them, but aren't home runs—Clooney's great in Alfonso Cuaron's film but his most emotional moment is voice-only, while Coogan will likely find better luck with his screenplay for the Stephen Frears film. Meanwhile, if anyone breaks out of the "August: Osage County" ensemble in this category it seems most likely to be Chris Cooper, who's had the best notices, but Benedict Cumberbatch has been mentioned by some critics too. Still, neither feel like dead certs after the film's middling reviews. Similarly, buzz has cooled on Will Forte in "Nebraska" and John Goodman in "Inside Llewyn Davis" since Cannes, and never really got going on Josh Brolin in "Labor Day," though again, there's potential for the latter to be better received by the Academy than it was by critics.
Of course, it should go without saying that there are many more performances still to come that could upset the existing apple cart. One serious threat is Tom Hanks, who's promising in Best Actor for "Captain Phillips," but may be a better bet as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks." While his role is less emotionally potent than co-star Emma Thompson, playing such an icon might actually be a safer path to nomination that in the lead category, where he has tougher competition. Other Best Picture hopefuls that should provide potentials are David O Russell's "American Hustle," where Jeremy Renner has the most colorful role but Bradley Cooper has the more attention-grabbing haircut (and, more importantly, a more significant part), and Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher," from which Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum could both compete.

We suspect that Matthew McConaughey's part in "The Wolf Of Wall Street" would be too small for him to be nominated even if he wasn't already looking promising elsewhere, so Jonah Hill (or someone else lurking in the ensemble) may be the better bet here. There could be a heavy hitter lurking in the "Monuments Men" ensemble, with any of John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin potentials for a slot with the right role. And while he missed out for "Skyfall" last year, Javier Bardem could return to the category he won six years back with another colorful villain, in Ridley Scott's "The Counselor."

All unknown quantities, but worth keeping an eye on, are Tim Roth and Frank Lagnella in "Grace Of Monaco," Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson in "Out Of The Furnace," Geoffrey Rush in "The Book Thief" and Eric Bana and Ben Foster in "Lone Survivor." Lastly, James Gray's "The Immigrant"? Sorry, but it won't be released until next spring, full details here.

If there's any buzz you've heard on any additional year-end films, let us know in the comments section. In the meantime, our early Supporting Actor predictions, and our first Best Picture chart, are below.

Best Supporting Actor - Predictions 09/18/13

Daniel Bruhl - "Rush"

Michael Fassbender - "12 Years A Slave"

James Gandolfini - "Enough Said"

Tom Hanks - "Saving Mr Banks"

Jared Leto - "Dallas Buyers Club"

Best Picture Chart: September 18th, 2013

1. "12 Years A Slave"
Front-runner status confirmed by picking up the TIFF People's Choice award, suggesting that audiences are willing to embrace the tough material. But being a front-runner at this early stage isn't always a good thing, and its biggest question is whether director Steve McQueen will be able to suffer fools gladly on the circuit for the next five months.

2. "American Hustle"
David O. Russell's felt overdue for a while, and he's essentially gathered together the O. Russell All-Stars for this, which looks like "Silver Linings" by way of "Argo" and Scorsese. As such, this looks to be a major, major contender, even if it turns out to be one of the last films to screen.

3. "Gravity"
Rave reviews out there, and the best chance at the big commercial 3D visual extravaganza slot, a la last year's "Life Of Pi." But more than most films here, it's dependent on box-office —if it tanks, it could get forgotten

4. "Saving Mr. Banks"
Fitting nicely into the movies-about-movies niche that worked so nicely for "The Artist" and "Argo," but does its more partisan feel—a Disney movie about Disney—mean it could be more divisive. Early word is pretty good, for what it's worth—we know one person who walked out and immediately put on a bet for it to win Best Picture.

5. "The Wolf Of Wall Street"
Scorsese is obviously an awards magnet more often than not, and the trailer looks terrific. There are rumors out there that Paramount, swamped with product including "Anchorman 2" and "Jack Ryan," are considering moving the film into first quarter of 2014, and it's unclear if that would include a qualifying run. Does that suggest the film's a more commercial proposition, or even not very good? Or is it just a studio exploring some options.

6. "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty"
Fox is sticking closely to the "Life Of Pi" playbook for this, from wowing audiences with CinemaCon footage to a NYFF bow to get the buzz out early.

7. "Captain Phillips"
Warmly received by those who've seen it, and has Scott Rudin's might behind it. That said, this feels like the kind of movie that'll get lots of second and third choice votes, but fewer in first place, but we'll find out for sure when the film opens NYFF next week.

8. "Inside Llewyn Davis"
The film has the critical support, and, despite a young cast who may be relatively unfamiliar to Academy voters, has built-in prestige thanks to the Coens. Our big question all along has been if CBS FIlms are up to an Oscar campaign, but we suspect quality will win out, whatever happens.

9. "August Osage County"
"August: Osage County" was received fairly tepidly at TIFF, but until we become more convinced by "The Butler" (see below), it remains the Weinsteins' biggest bet, and that in itself is reason enough to keep it in the mix Plus, its extensive and starry ensemble is the kind of thing that attracts the votes of the actors' branch, who are by some way the most significant voting block. Not yet a home run, but not to be counted out.

10. "Foxcatcher"
Somewhat under the radar at this stage (there's still no trailer), but Bennett Miller is two-for-two for Best Picture nominations, and he's got some potent material here. It's a tough year, so if the film disappoints in the least, it may fall outside the main nominees, but it's still a hot prospect.

11. "Dallas Buyers Club"
We were always expecting this to be a serious proposition when it came to Matthew McConaughey's central performance, but it was surprising the extent to which people really seemed to dig the film as well. It'll need some of the films above to fall out of favor to crack the final nine/ten, but certainly worth keeping an eye on.

12. "Monuments Men"
Are we underrating this one? Possibly. From the glimpses so far, it seems to be a principally commercial proposition, to the extent that Sony were at one point alleged not to even be planning an awards push. But the latter's subsequently been denied, and with George Clooney directing and starring, and an "Argo"-ish WWII vibe, only a fool would dismiss it completely.

13. "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
Other prognosticators rate The Weinstein Company's summertime sleeper much higher than we do, but we can't quite see this one lasting the distance. That said, we said that about "The Help" back in the day, and "The Butler" can only be helped by the relative weakness of the rest of TWC's slate.

14. "Nebraska"
Some touted this as a potential Best Picture winner back during Cannes, but it seems to have lost traction temporarily, in part because it skipped TIFF, ceding the floor to others. It still feels smaller-scale and more minor than "The Descendants," but Academy voters could respond to it more positively.

15. "Rush"
Ron Howard's had his best reviews in years for this F1 drama, and audiences seem to be really responding too—it's already a big hit in the UK. Universal are probably going the right direction by rolling it out more gradually, but we wonder if the film's opening too early—it'll be tough to keep up this early momentum, no matter how much people like it.

16. "Philomena"
Stephen Frears' film is principally going to be a push for star Judi Dench, but if Venice and TIFF proved anything, it's that audiences are going to eat this right up, with the film proving the runner up to "12 Years A Slave" for the People's Choice Award (last year's runner up? "Argo"). As such, don't be surprised to see this sneak up the roster as/when other films fall out of favor.

17. "Prisoners"
The other runner up at the TIFF People's Choice Award, which suggests that for all the film's darkness and grimness, it's connecting with audiences. But it's a long, long road to nomination for a movie that opens wide this weekend, though strong box office will help no end.

18. "All Is Lost"
It's a mark of the strength of competition that this one is all the way down here; J.C. Chandor's film has been picking up raves since Cannes. Star Robert Redford's locked in, but the film will need to work hard to appear more than just a one-man show, especially since "Gravity" has come in and somewhat stolen its thunder.

19. "Fruitvale Station"
Three of the last four years have seen a Sundance graduate among the Best Picture nominees, and Ryan Coogler's film is by far and away the most likely of this year's crop. That said, it's in third position among the Weinstein's slate, and might struggle to get a foothold among starrier competition.

20. "Her"
There's no film we're looking forward to more in the last few months of the year, but Jonze has never been a major awards favorite, and it feels like the film might be too hip and offbeat for Academy tastes. But all that said, Warner Bros have some faith in it, and have been teasing it at the LA and Toronto Film Festivals ahead of a high-profile NYFF slot, so this could turn out to be a major player.

21. "The Book Thief"
The film lurking quietly on the calendar that doesn't really care what critics think (it's skipped festivals entirely), this could be a secret weapon of the series, or it could be another "Boy In The Striped Pyjamas." But Fox must have had a reason to move it up from 2014, so it's certainly worth keeping an eye on for now.

22. Out Of The Furnace"
Given that it's done for nearly a year (there was talk of a qualifying run in 2012 at one point), Relativity are bringing the picture to the Rome Film Festival in what will likely be a late season push for this Christian Bale-starring thriller. There's a solid cast in place, and director Scott Cooper's "Crazy Heart" was an awards season surprise, but this looks from the trailer mostly like a commercial proposition, albeit one with some potential for acting nods.

23. "The Counselor"
Similarly, there's Ridley Scott's all-star Cormac McCarthy project, which Fox seem to be positioning more as a commercial thriller than awards bait (again, it's skipped the festivals). Plus we've heard some slightly troubling buzz from test screenings, and the script was so violent and uncompromising that we wonder if the Academy will stomach it. Still, this cast get the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

24. "Blue Jasmine"
Cate Blanchett's certainly a lock for a nomination and maybe more, but a Best Picture nomination for Woody's latest feels like a longer shot—it's a little less accessible than "Midnight In Paris" was, and may be seen as more of a performance showcase. That said, 'Midnight' outlasted much of the other competition, so it wouldn't be totally absurd.

25. "Lone Survivor"
Universal moved this up so it gets a limited release before the end of the year before going wide in January, exactly mirroring the release of "Zero Dark Thirty." The true life story is emotionally potent, certainly, but Peter Berg is no Kathryn Bigelow, even if the film might benefit from being the last one to be seen. Our gut says that technical nominations like "Black Hawk Down" (which also had a similar rollout) might be the best case scenario, but we'll see.

Bubbling Under, Or Basically Non-Starters: "Before Midnight," "Grace Of Monaco," "Frances Ha," "Labor Day," "Mud," "The Past," "The Place Beyond The Pines," "The Spectacular Now'

Not Happening: "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," "The Fifth Estate," "The Invisible Woman," "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," "The Great Gatsby."

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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:20 pm

http://www.deadline.com/2013/10/oscars-why-michael-fassbenders-refusal-to-campaign-could-actually-help-him-win/

OSCARS: Why Michael Fassbender’s Refusal To Campaign Likely Won’t Matter
By PETE HAMMOND | Tuesday October 15, 2013 @ 2:51pm PDT

Buried near the end of a lengthy Michael Fassbender profile in the November issue of GQ, writer Zach Baron gets the Oscar-buzzed actor to explain why he has no plans to do the campaign circuit this season for his supporting role as the vicious slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.

“I’m going to be busy working. I just don’t really have time. (Campaigning is) just not going to happen, because I’ll be in New Zealand. I’ll be on the other side of the world. You know, I get it. Everybody’s got to do their job. So you try and help and facilitate as best you can. But I won’t put myself through that kind of situation again. It’s just a grind. And I’m not a politician. I’m an actor,” Fassbender said of the whole Oscar process, which seems to grow every year and includes numerous Q&As, luncheons, meet-and-greets, private screenings, film festival tributes, presenting at endless awards shows, well-timed talk show appearances, etc etc. Many artists who suddenly find themselves the object of an all-out Oscar campaign find this part of the job even more grueling than making the actual film. And by the time the Oscars roll around they are spent.

Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds. The film and the role are so strong it’s hard to imagine the actors branch ignoring him. Now after the nominations it could change, especially in a tight, competitive race where every vote counts.

Fassbender was on the circuit for 2011′s controversial art film Shame, which like 12 Years was directed by Steve McQueen. He won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and was considered a near-certainty to land an Oscar nod for the film as well, but the movie — and Fassbender’s performance — was snubbed by the Academy. Apparently he doesn’t want to repeat the experience. Fassbender was in Telluride and Toronto when 12 Years premiered but he hasn’t been around much since while much of the cast and McQueen are doing nightly Q&As and seem to be everywhere for the film which opens on Friday.

This all reminds me of the situation Sony faced in trying to get director David Fincher out there for The Social Network three years ago. It appeared that film was by far the front-runner, sweeping every critics award and Golden Globe in sight. But Fincher, working in Sweden on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, had already soured on the process when his previous film, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, was an early front-runner that was derailed by Slumdog Millionaire. He made the rounds then but seemed fairly disheartened by the whole process. When it came time to tout his directorial achievement on Social Network he was pretty much MIA, with his work schedule being a convenient excuse. At the time I didn’t think it would matter, even after it became apparent The King’s Speech would win Best Picture and director Tom Hooper took the DGA Award. Based on conversations I think the final vote for director was razor-thin. The difference in this case could have been due to Hooper’s tireless campaigning. He was everywhere while Fincher was invisible. In an extremely close race shaking hands with voters can matter. Other examples include Joaquin Phoenix, who rarely does interviews and never campaigns for awards. It didn’t stop him from a nomination for The Master last season though in the end he lost to Daniel Day Lewis. Meryl Streep has also been shy in campaigning for most of her 17 nominations. But when 2011′s The Iron Lady came around master campaigner Harvey Weinstein got her out of the house and more visible than I had ever seen her during Oscar season. After not winning an Oscar in 29 years, she finally nabbed her third statuette. Sometimes it just has to appear that you want it.

But in the end will Fassbender’s visibility even be an issue if the performance is so powerful it just can’t be ignored? Oddly, publicity from Fassbender’s declaration that he won’t be campaigning could actually be a plus. Voters might respect the “purity” of it all. And let’s not forget the anti-campaign stance Mo’Nique took for 2009′s Precious. She openly questioned the value of campaigning for awards and, for the most part, refused to play that game. Yes, that’s Academy Award winner Mo’Nique.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:20 pm

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/10/17/meet-the-men-of-12-years-a-slave/2995931/

Oscar buzz follows Fassbender, Ejiofor in '12 Years'
Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY 2:41 p.m. EDT October 18, 2013
Two stars of the critically acclaimed movie talk about their heavy roles.
(Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

An undeniably powerful film. Two roles of a lifetime. This is the story of two men who heeded director Steve McQueen's call to lift the curtain on America's darkest chapter. It's a film critics say is destined for the Oscar stage. USA TODAY stacks up the odds.

Michael Fassbender

Age: 36

You know him from: Hunger, Shame, Prometheus, X-Men: First Class

Chasing 12 Years a Slave: "I'd known about it before I got the script," says the German-Irish actor. "For me, after that first experience with Hunger, which really kind of changed my life and just sort of changed the way I work to a large degree, I said to Steve, I was like, 'Look, I read the script, was in tears by the end of it,' and I said, 'Whatever it is, whether it's one day or two days in this, I'd love to be a part of it."

Oscar odds: Very high. "He is a great bet for a nomination," says Dave Karger, an industry Oscarologist and Fandango's chief correspondent. "The supporting-actor category allows for villainy more than best actor does. You see bad guys dominate a little more often in that category. What's interesting is he came as close as anyone possibly can to getting a best-actor nomination two years ago (for Shame) and he didn't get it. Sentiment is with him."

MORE: '12 Years' captures brutality, reality of slavery

Director's take: "There's nothing that he cannot do. Nothing," says McQueen. "And I think he doesn't even know half of it, which is fantastic."
slave 1

Chiwetel Ejiofor, left, and Michael Fassbender in a scene from '12 Years A Slave.'(Photo: Francois Duhamel, AP/Fox Searchlight)

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Age: 36

You know him from: Phil Spector, Kinky Boots, 2012, Children of Men

Chasing 12 Years a Slave: Ejiofor (whose name is pronounced CHEW-ih-tell EDGE-ee-oh-for) had been on the hunt for a great role. "You're hassling your agent, you're trying to figure it out, you're traveling the world, you're reading scripts. And then it can happen," the Brit says. "You can get the script, you open it up, you read it and you think, 'Can I do this? How do I start to do this?' " Ejiofor took 24 hours to stamp out his own doubts before calling McQueen to accept the role. "And you think, 'Right, let's get on with it. Who's going to teach me how to play the violin? And how do I learn how to pick cotton or cut down trees properly?' You're in the game."

Oscar odds: A lock. "He's the guy to beat right now," says Karger, "which is fascinating because it looks like the three people he could be nominated against are Oscar winners: Tom Hanks (for Captain Phillips), Forest Whitaker (The Butler) and Robert Redford (All Is Lost)." Karger says he's leading even that pack. "He plays a real person. The character goes through unspeakable hardship in the film. And he comes out the other side to be an inspirational figure. It's just such a powerful, effective performance."

Director's take: "I think he's dealing with (the attention) tremendously well," McQueen says. "I think there's a lot of people saying things about him, about what could possibly happen, what might happen, but he's more focused on the work. I'm just very proud of him, of what he's done."
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:21 am

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/14/chiwetel_ejiofor_on_12_years_a_slave_i_feel_connected_to_the_history_to_the_reality_of_it/

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 04:00 PM PST
Chiwetel Ejiofor on “12 Years a Slave”: “I feel connected to the history, to the reality of it”
Ejiofor and costar Michael Fassbender talk to Salon about the Oscar frontrunner, and about racism around the world
By Daniel D'Addario

This could be a watershed year at the Oscars for films depicting black characters’ lives. This year’s already seen the release of American-made dramas “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Fruitvale Station”; Barkhad Abdi is considered a frontrunner for a best supporting actor nomination as a Somali pirate in “Captain Phillips”; a biopic depicting the life of Nelson Mandela is forthcoming in November.

And amid all of the likely African-American nominees for an awards ceremony that’s traditionally been largely white, one film stands out as not merely the best of the year but one of the best ever made. “12 Years a Slave,” which opens on Friday, manages to transcend the conversation about the number of potential black nominees for the Oscars and to compel attention solely on its own merits. While this film is certain to receive more coverage than most because it’s been perceived as an Oscar frontrunner since it first screened, it seems almost ghoulish to walk out of the film thinking about awards.

The film depicts the struggles of Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped by traders and sold into slavery; his servitude, as he’s transferred from owner to owner, brutally beaten several times over and witness to yet greater cruelty, comes to feel both entirely specific and emblematic of the horrors of American history. So it’s all the more surprising that the film is directed by and stars Europeans; director Steve McQueen and star Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Solomon, are both British, and Michael Fassbender, who plays Solomon’s captor Edwin Epps, is German and Irish.

Ejiofor, for his part, wasn’t troubled by the attempt to tell so specifically American a story. “My heritage is that I’m Nigerian, and hundreds of thousands of Igbo from the east were taken out of Nigeria and brought around the globe, but specifically to Louisiana and the south of America, so I feel connected the experience,” he said. “I feel connected to the history, to the reality of it. I feel that once we – if we’re constantly trying to separate each other then we’re missing the point.”

“I didn’t feel that there was something illegitimate about me telling that story,” said Ejiofor, “in my own background or in my own heart. If I did I wouldn’t have done it. And I don’t think Steve would have directed it.”

The actor speaks in the measured tones of a potential Oscar nominee; asked about whether there are systemic blocks to telling stories about the black experience, he allows that things have gotten more equitable on TV, then adds, “The only thing I’ve been concerned about is where there have been sort of unnatural blocks to things. Where people have decided that certain things won’t sell without really testing whether they do, and those kind of blocks are not useful.”

He’s as measured about how race has affected him personally and in his career — though widely acclaimed for performances in films including “Kinky Boots,” “Children of Men,” and “Love Actually,” “12 Years a Slave” has already bestowed by far the most mass recognition Ejiofor’s achieved in a long career. “I don’t really give a s$#! if somebody says something about me,” he said. “I couldn’t care less. If they’re trying to harm me physically then well, we’ll all know about it but – the incidence of ‘this person looked at you funny’ or ‘this person followed you around the store’ I don’t care about it in the slightest. What I do care about is when societies affect the lives of some of the population and they affect them in different ways. And they affect them in negative ways. That where you start to feel, hang on, this is impacting people’s lives in the real world.”

“Once you get to be a man,” though, Ejiofor noted, “the small incidents of racism are unaffecting.”

Fassbender, the German-born star who plays Ejiofor’s character’s owner, noted that Europe had worked out many of the issues America still grapples with. “America is such a young country and with that it has all the promise and hope and the land of opportunity and people can really start at the bottom and make whatever they want out of their lives if they put the energy in and luck and anything else alongside it,” he said. “I think it’s an extraordinary place. But you know, I guess we just have a longer history of beating each other up in Europe and wars and whatnot.” (He noted that, in Europe, people of Romani descent “get the rough end of the stick.”)

The actor last worked with McQueen on “Shame,” a pitch-dark movie about sex addiction with very little traditional uplift; “12 Years a Slave,” it spoils nothing to say, finds more good in human nature than did “Shame.” Of the early screenings, Fassbender said, “I felt a great feeling of togetherness, people hugging each other, people who didn’t know each other holding hands at the end of the movie. A real sense of hope is what I felt, and a real sense of love, and a calling for us to do good things for each other, in a very basic way, to be a positive influence on your neighbor or your friend and realize that as human beings we’re frail and we need each other.” That “12 Years a Slave” gets the point across fairly brutally — it’s not always easy or uplifting viewing — makes its status as an Oscar contender all the more notable.
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:30 pm

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/goldstandard/la-et-mn-awards-answer-guy-12-years-slave-fassbender-20131017,0,303872.story#axzz2ilHrYDXn

Awards Season Answer Guy talks Fassbender, academy squeamishness

Michael Fassbender is all smiles at the Toronto Film Festival with "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen. (Warren Toda / EPA)

By Glenn Whipp

October 21, 2013, 8:00 a.m.

We get letters. OK ... emails, mostly. Some tweets. And, yes, still the occasional missive with an actual stamp, typically affixed with a lovely shade of bile that sears through the envelope.

Beginning today, we'll use this space to occasionally answer these awards-season inquiries under the banner of Awards Season Answer Guy. If you have a question of your own about the Oscar races, email it to glenn.whipp@latimes.com or, through Twitter, @glennwhipp.

Now, on to the queries:

PHOTOS" Scenes from '12 Years a Slave'

Q: I read that Michael Fassbender won't be campaigning this year for his turn in "12 Years a Slave." That bums me out. Do you think he still has a chance to win a nomination?

A: I assume you're referring to the November GQ magazine cover story, in which Fassbender said of awards-season campaigning: "It's just a grind. And I'm not a politician. I'm an actor."

Realize, first, that Fassbender said this in an interview that he gave to promote "12 Years a Slave," and, presumably, his role as the film's nutso-crazy-evil plantation owner. This is but one of dozens upon dozens upon dozens of interviews that the brilliant German-born actor has given since the movie premiered in late August at the Telluride Film Festival.

It's the dance that actors and filmmakers do this time of year when most Oscar contenders debut. Everyone's bopping back and forth between Los Angeles and New York, logging in appearances on TV talk shows and giving media interviews and going to parties and receptions and screening Q&As to talk about their movies and, yes, themselves.

WATCH: Envelope Screening Series — '12 Years a Slave'

Since Fassbender will be shooting two films -- a western, "Slow West," that will shoot next month in New Zealand and then a new take on "Macbeth" with Marion Cotillard -- he won't be around to work the circuit in the coming months. That's why he has been everywhere the past several weeks, including film festivals in Telluride, Toronto and New York, chatting up Jon Stewart and David Letterman and giving interviews left and right to barnstorm for his Oscar chances talk up the film.

So, fear not. The man has already done "the grind" and logged his time. Fassbender can now leave for New Zealand with the knowledge that he has done his part promoting "12 Years" and, to a much lesser extent, his role in Ridley Scott's upcoming pulpy thriller "The Counselor."

Of course, awards season is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. It's entirely possible that Fassbender will return to these parts in January for a handful of awards ceremonies. And while he's around, he might even grant another interview or three (or 12).

PHOTOS: Movie Sneaks 2013

Q: I read your report on the spotty attendance for "12 Years a Slave's" first screening for academy members. Isn't it voters' responsibility to see all the contenders? I can understand someone skipping, say, "Baggage Claim." But even if you're squeamish, you have to give a movie like "12 Years" a look, right?

A: An informed electorate is the keystone to any democracy. But, may I ask: How long did you spend perusing and researching the candidates and issues on your ballot before voting in the 2012 election? (You did vote, right?)

Look, as long as there are elections, there will be low-information voters, as well as more conscientious balloters. I belong to the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and when we vote between the finalists in a particular category, it's generally understood that if you haven't seen the movies or performances in question, you abstain. And members do.

But LAFCA has just 59 members. The academy has more than 6,000 voters and, as with any group that size, you have a great deal of variance in the way they go about the business of filling out their ballots. I reported on a handful of walkouts during last weekend's "12 Years" academy screening and the number may have been higher, at least according to another academy member who sat in a different location.

You can't force anyone to watch. At the same time, there's a peer pressure present among academy members, a desire to, as one voter put it, be "in the know." You can't skip (or, in the case of the walkouts, flee) "12 Years a Slave" and be part of the ongoing Oscar season conversation.

Besides, how can voters properly appreciate all those upcoming Fassbender interviews without seeing the movie?
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Re: Oscar 2014

Post by Admin on Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:05 pm

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/28/does-america-need12yearsaslavetowinabestpictureoscar.html


Does America need ‘12 Years a Slave’ to win a best picture Oscar?
by Victor Balta @VictorBalta February 28, 2014 5:00AM ET
Some say a win would legitimize discussion of race in US; others warn against relying on Hollywood for such statements

In 2006, “Brokeback Mountain” was the presumed favorite to win the coveted Academy Award for best picture. The film, telling the story of a forbidden love affair between two rugged cowboys forced to keep their attraction secret, was lauded for its unflinching look at the men’s lives and for scenes that portrayed such intimacy in a fairly unprecedented way for mainstream film.

But in the days leading up to the Oscars, a Los Angeles Times piece speculated as to whether “secret homophobia” was fueling an upset that would keep the top prize out of the hands of the film’s producers. In the end, “Crash,” an ensemble drama that bluntly presented issues of race and inequality, beat “Brokeback” for best picture, and some of the predicted accusations of homophobia rolled out in response.

Now and then, a well-made film comes along that by its very subject matter takes on a significance that reaches beyond the norm. Certain films bring with them a sense of social or political responsibility, and the Academy Award can come to represent the legitimacy of the subject matter rather than the filmmaking. This year, “12 Years a Slave” is that film, and while some believe it must win to legitimize the conversation around slavery it evokes, others warn against placing too much emphasis on any prize associated with the profit-driven entertainment industry.

Critics were virtually unanimous in their praise of director Steve McQueen’s film, based on the 1853 memoir of a free black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film has a 96 percent “fresh” rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Not only is it admired for the filmmaking, but critics also called it “essential” and “necessary,” with one saying, “Every shot … conveys some penetrating truth about America’s original sin.”

All of this raises a question: Given the universal praise — not to mention the box-office success (the film made nearly $50 million in the U.S. and another $79 million abroad) — what would a best picture win or loss mean to the film or the issue of how Americans are dealing with slavery?
‘Lay this bear to rest’

Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Association — which gave “12 Years a Slave” its top prize — said he thinks the film “almost has to win best picture” to extend the opportunity to confront the reality of slavery’s impact on American history.

“Who would have ever thought that Hollywood would have to take a real leadership role and help really lay this bear to rest?” Robertson said, suggesting that a more direct universal acknowledgment and understanding about slavery would help smooth racial tensions in the U.S. “I’ll be 50 this year, and we’ve been having the same conversation (about race) for the last 50 years; and it’s, like, OK, maybe my son will see the end of it. (Slavery) happened, so let’s deal with it and let’s move forward.”

Robertson said a best picture win could only help move the race conversation forward.

“There were some people who thought President Obama being elected would lead to a greater conversation on race relations, on this country’s racial past, and that really hasn’t come to fruition,” he said. “Hopefully the heightened attention it will receive should (‘12 Years a Slave’) win should bring some resolve in people — it’ll be kind of a legitimizer and sort of take the taint away from discussing it. If it doesn’t win I would be very disappointed; it would be an opportunity lost for the industry to be able to lead a very important conversation.”

Eric Foner, a professor and author of U.S. history at Columbia University, has publicly applauded the film in The New York Times and McQueen’s work in getting viewers “into the real world of slavery,” which, he added, is “not easy to do.” But Foner said he has little interest in whether the film wins a trophy from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“(Oscars) have much more to do with Hollywood profit-making than any large cultural trends,” Foner told Al Jazeera in an email. “I’m glad ‘12 Years a Slave’ is out there; whether it wins or loses doesn’t mean very much.”
Human stories matter

Tom Nunan, an executive producer of “Crash” who is now a visiting professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, said best picture is a huge, life-changing prize for those who win it, but warned against wrapping too much social or political significance onto winners and losers.

“It's just naive if somebody thinks that Hollywood is making a statement by picking or not picking a movie to be its best picture representative,” Nunan said. “You can't draw a cultural or political conclusion based on the very unpredictable manner by which a film gets picked to be best picture.”

Nunan said the Academy Awards — despite their universal appeal to movie fans — are Hollywood’s way of endorsing the kind of filmmaking and storytelling it wants to see more, rather than a platform for social commentary.

“We don’t send messages to the world with our best picture picks. We send messages to our little factory here in L.A.,” he said. “Fair or unfair, the message is about: give us movies with a lot of great performances and you’re likely to get at least nominated for best picture. That’s what ‘American Hustle,’ ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ ‘12 Years’ — that’s what they all have in common is that they’re great ensembles with great acting in them.”

Nunan said the success of “Crash” and “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, and of “12 Years a Slave,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and other human dramas this year, sends a more meaningful message about audiences still being interested in such theatrical releases that are less about technical achievements.

“If an audience feels like they’re going for required reading, they typically don’t want to pay for that. They might watch it on cable or something at home, but they’re not going to go out to the movie and pay for that,” Nunan said, adding that such dramas are now mostly coming through TV or Netflix.

Films such as “12 Years a Slave” are a rarity these days, Nunan said, as studios move more toward spectacles to draw audiences.

“If ‘12 Years’ or if ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ won best picture, it would be a way of rewarding how difficult it is to get a movie like that made in this environment, where the studios aren’t making movies that are human dramas anymore. They're making ‘The Lego Movie’ — which is a great movie, but it’s not what adults tend to go out to the movies to see,” he said. “I think the academy and its members want to celebrate people who are striving to do those films that have some kind of import to the more mature human experience.”
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