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Tony Curtis documentary to open the L.A. Jewish Film Festival

May 2, 2012 |  8:30 am

Tony

"Tony Curtis: Driven to Stardom," a new documentary on the late actor born Bernie Schwartz in the Bronx, opens the 7th annual Jewish Film Festival on Thursday evening at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

Several participants in the documentary, including actresses Theresa Russell, Mamie Van Doren and Sally Kellerman, and Curtis' widow, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, will participate in a discussion at the screening. 

The festival, which attracts some 4,000 people, will screen 26 features, documentaries and shorts through May 10 at various locations.

"There is something for everyone and in every area," said Hilary Helstein, executive director of the festival.

She admitted that people often confuse the L.A. Jewish Film Festival and the Israel Film Festival, which took place in L.A. in March.

"The Israel Film Festival showcases works from Israel. Our mission is to showcase works that deal with Jewish subjects, Jewish issues, Jewish culture, Jewish matters," she said. "They can come from anywhere."

But she said her goal is to program films that will be of interest not only to a Jewish audience but also to a broad group of filmgoers.

One of the anticipated films in the festival -- at least for cineastes -- is Michael Curtiz's 1924 silent Austrian epic on the exodus of Jews from Egypt, "The Moon of Israel." The director came to Hollywood shortly after making the film and went on to make such classics as "Casablanca," for which he won the Oscar. Penelope Ann Miller of "The Artist" will introduce the film Sunday evening at the Saban in Beverly Hills.

Other films of note are "Shoah: The Unseen Interview," which features interviews and outtakes not featured in Claude Lanzmann's nine-hour epic documentary "Shoah"; the documentaries "The Price of Kings: Shimon Peres" and "Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story"; and the drama "Wunderkinder," about gifted young musicians during World War II.

There will also be comedies, including 2009's "OSS-117: Lost in Rio," (from "The Artist's" Oscar-winning team of director Michel Hazanavicius and actor Jean Dujardin), and "Dorfman" with Sara Rue and Elliott Gould, which closes the festival.

For more information on screenings and venues go to lajfilmfest.org.

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--  Susan King

Photo: Tony Curtis, left, appears with Sidney Poitier in a scene from "The Defiant Ones." Curtis is the subject of a new documentary opening the L.A. Jewish Film Festival.


Around Town: 'The Artist' crowd's take on spy spoofs

March 1, 2012 |  6:00 am

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
Before they made the Oscar-winning "The Artist," director Michel Hazanavicius and actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo made the 2006 spy spoof "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies," which screens Thursday through Saturday at the New Beverly Cinema, along with the 2009 sequel "OSS 117: Lost in Rio." http://www.newbevcinema.com

Film Independent at LACMA presents "Spotlight on Robert Bresson," Thursday at the Leo S. Bing Theatre. The evening opens with 1956’s "A Man Escaped," which is based not only on Andre Devigny’s account of his escape from a Nazi POW camp during World War II, but also the director’s 18-month incarceration in a camp during the global conflict, and 1971’s "Four Nights of a Dreamer," a romantic drama that has never been available in either DVD or VHS in the U.S. Both films from the renowned French director are presented in new 35mm prints.

LACMA also presents "Ellsworth Kelly Selects," which features three French films chosen by the American painter and sculptor. The series kicks off Friday with Jacques Tati’s lavish 1967 comedy classic "Playtime." And this week’s Tuesday matinee at the Bing is the 1959 comedy hit "Pillow Talk," starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

The Los Angeles Turkish Film Festival opens Thursday evening at the Egyptian Theater and continues through March 4. The festival will screen five feature films including Dervis Zaim’s "Shadows and Faces" on opening night and the award-winning "Honey" on closing night. The program also includes short films and a separate short film contest. http://www.latff.org

The American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre commences "Through a Lens Darkly: The Films of Ingmar Bergman" Thursday evening with the Swedish master’s Oscar-winning 1960 film "The Virgin Spring," with Max von Sydow (which later became an inspiration for Wes Craven’s "Last House on the Left") and the unsettling 1968 "Hour of the Wolf," with Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann. Friday’s program features "Cries and Whispers," which was nominated for a 1973 best picture Oscar, and 1978’s "Autumn Sonata," which was Oscar-nominated Ingrid Bergman’s final feature. The family epic "Fanny and Alexander," which won four 1983 Academy Awards including foreign language film, screens Sunday.

Saturday’s offerings at the Aero are a double bill of thrillers directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau: their latest film, "Silent House," with Elizabeth Olsen, and 2003’s "Open Water," with Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis.

And on Wednesday the theater presents its "Wednesdays with Hitchcock" retrospective with the 1951 thriller "Strangers on a Train," with Farley Granger and Robert Walker in his most acclaimed performance.

The Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre kicks off its "Wednesday with Welles" retrospective with "The Third Man," Carol Reed’s classic 1949 film noir set in post-war Vienna adapted by Graham Greene from his novel starring Welles as the charming but diabolical Harry Lime, Joseph Cotten as his old best friend, Trevor Howard and Alida Valli. http://www,americancinemathquecom

Two Gene Autry Westerns -- 1936’s "Red River Valley" and 1950’s "Mule Train" -- screen Saturday at the Autry Center’s Western Legacy Theater. http://www.autry.org

UCLA Film & Television Archive’s "Nina Menkes: Cinema as Story" continues Friday with 1996’s "The Bloody Child" and Wednesday with 2007’s "Phantom Love," at the Billy Wilder Theater. "Kino-Eye: The Revolutionary Cinema of Dziga Vertov" screens "Kino-Week: Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5,-21-25 from 1918, "Vertov Filmed in Person," which features outtakes and excerpts from 1922-’30, and "Vertov Interviews," from post-1935, Saturday at the Billy Wilder Theater. Margarita Nafpaktitis, librarian for Slavic and Eastern European Studies at UCLA, is the special guest

Fiona Fullerton, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and a pre-"Phantom of the Opera" Michael Crawford star in a 1972 version of Lewis Carroll’s "Alice in Wonderland," Sunday for free at the Wilder Theater. Later that evening at the Wilder, the archive presents two more film in its "Spencer Tracy: That Natural Thing" retrospective: 1937’s "Captains Courageous," and 1938’s "Boys Town" -- Tracy won Oscars for both roles.

And Wednesday’s archive screening at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown L.A. features the original 1958 "The Fly" and 1965’s rarely screened "Curse of the Fly." http://www.cinema.ucla.edu

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre presents a weeklong engagement of director Andrzej Zulawski’s cult horror thriller "Possession," with Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. The theater is also screening a new 35mm restored print of Charlie Chaplin’s beloved 1925 silent comedy "The Gold Rush," Friday through March 8. And on Wednesday evening, Cinefamily presents a restored print of the 1928 World War I romance "Lilac Time," with Gary Cooper and Colleen Moore. http://www.cinefamily.org

The Skirball Center commences it’s "Through a Glass Brightly: A Paul Mazursky Retrospective" with a free Tuesday matinee screening of 1980’s "Willie & Phil," which was inspired by Francois Truffaut’s "Jules et Jim." http://www.skirball.org

The Los Angeles Animation Festival opens Wednesday and continues through March 11 at the Regent Showcase in Hollywood. Sean Lennon is the artistic director. Among the films and shorts being presented are "Iron Giant" and the 1939 Technicolor film, "Gulliver's Travels." http://www.LAAFest.com

RELATED:

'The Artist' stars talk

Inside Ingmar Bergman

-- Susan King

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Louise Monot star in "OSS 117: Lost in Rio," which screens at the New Beverly. Credit: Emilie De La Hosseraye / Music Box Films


Oscar predictions: We call the four acting races

February 25, 2012 |  6:00 am

Jean Dujardin in The Artist

The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, predicting the winners. Check previous posts for tips on marking your Oscar pool ballots for the music categories, short films, sound races, animation, documentary and foreign filmsvisual crafts and the screenplay and editing races.

Here, a look at the four acting categories.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees:

Demian Bichir, “A Better Life”
George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Gary Oldman, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt, “Moneyball”

And the winner is … Dujardin. It’s not just because he won the SAG Award (and cried while accepting it!), though his victory there indicates the strength of his position. The actors branch makes up more than a fifth of the academy’s membership. The last seven SAG lead actor winners have gone on to win the Oscar. And beyond that, “The Artist” has found favor with other guilds, indicating a broad support for the film itself that gives Dujardin a leg up here.

As for Clooney, he delivered a moving, nuanced turn in “The Descendants” that may well rank as the best work of his career. The problem is, Brad Pitt did the same in “Moneyball.” Academy voters inclined to reward subtlety could go for Pitt, Clooney or even first-time nominee Gary Oldman. But Dujardin carries “The Artist” in a way that is unlike any of the other actors here. That distinctiveness, combined with the Academy’s nutty love for the movie, gives him the win.

Unless … Voters decide they’d rather hear Clooney’s self-deprecating humor than Dujardin’s thick accent from the podium, denying France its first-ever winner in this category.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees:

Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis, “The Help”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

And the winner is … Davis. God knows, Harvey Weinstein and his minions went into  full-court press mode to get Streep her third Oscar, not to mention her first victory since “Sophie’s Choice.” Streep’s image has been so inescapable that it wouldn’t have been  surprising to walk into an Outback Steakhouse and find a menu touting Cast "Iron (Lady)" Skillet specials.

Will it work? Academy members still go the career-achievement route when voting (see Bullock, Sandra), just not as often as they used to. (To which we say: Hoo-ah!) Davis won SAG, a Streep-friendly group that has gone with her (“Doubt”) when the academy didn’t. Davis also stands as the only nominee whose film received a best picture nomination. And every time she speaks from the podium, she gives us all the more reason to celebrate both her and her work in the movie.

Mara’s courage and ferocity in “Dragon Tattoo” struck a chord with many voters. Williams arguably does more bringing Marilyn Monroe to life than Streep did with Thatcher. But as we’ve been saying all along: It’s Davis’ year.

Unless … Outback’s Thatcher Tri-Tip tastes better than it looks on the menu.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The nominees:

Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”
Jonah Hill, “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte, “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

And the winner is … Plummer. Much has been made of the fact that both Plummer and von Sydow were born in 1929, as if that’s somehow going to split the octogenarian vote. Look at the AARP-sanctioned slate here. Hill’s the only nominee under 50, and he’s not going to win for a role that had him (quite skillfully, mind you) reacting and observing (with impeccable timing) more than stirring the waters. (Huh … maybe he should siphon more votes.)

Plummer has never won, receiving his only other Oscar nomination two years ago for “The Last Station.” But those voting for him aren’t saluting his body of work. They’re lauding his beautiful turn in “Beginners,” an elegiac performance that particularly hits home with older academy members. After winning nearly every other trophy, Plummer will not be denied here.

Unless … That surprise best picture nomination for “Extremely Loud” portends another shocker with a win for Von Sydow.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The nominees:

Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

And the winner is … Spencer. Here again, there’s the presence of another common competitor that, in theory, could dilute the vote. But because Spencer and her “Help” costar Chastain deliver very different turns playing dissimilar characters, the much-cited Costar Competition Conundrum shouldn’t put much of a ding in the likelihood that Spencer wins.

Unless … It’s a really big night for “The Artist,” in which case, Bejo will have the last wink.

RELATED:

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Oscars 2012: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Jean Dujardin in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.


Oscar Senti-meter: A BAFTA bounce for Dujardin, Oldman, Streep

February 20, 2012 |  5:17 pm

Sentimeter 2-12
Trying to predict winners at the Academy Awards can be like trying to read tea leaves, but thanks to tools like The Times’ Oscar Senti-meter, which analyzes Oscar-related buzz on Twitter, we can bring a bit of “Moneyball”-like analysis to the process.

Examining tweets captured by the Senti-meter in the wake of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, held Feb. 12 in London, shows that BAFTA-watching Twitter users had a lot to say about silent-film star Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), hometown hero Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and perennial favorite Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”).

The Senti-meter is an interactive tool developed by The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab that analyzes opinions about the Academy Awards race by combing through and cataloging a high volume of tweets each day. It uses language-recognition technology to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages, and it also tracks the number of tweets.

Take, for example, “The Artist,” which is nominated for 10 Oscars and won best picture, director, screenplay and lead actor at the BAFTAs: In the three days leading up to the British awards, “The Artist” was mentioned in 1,253, 1,331 and 1,166 tweets, a daily average of 1,250 tweets. On Feb. 12, the day of the BAFTAs, the Twitterverse exploded with 10,296 tweets about the film, a more than eight-fold increase.

The high volume consisted largely of congratulatory and celebratory tweets, such as “The Artist Best Film !!! #BAFTA ! :D #Proud” and “Fantastic that The Artist did so well. Wonderful, charming film.”

Dujardin, the French leading man of “The Artist,” also received a BAFTA bump after he won the award for lead actor. Dujardin averaged about 454 tweets per day from Feb. 9-11, but shot up to 2,330 on Feb. 12, an increase of more than five times.

One Dujardin fan put it this way: “So happy Jean Dujardin wins BAFTA. Just one more to go ... two weeks tonight #Oscar.”

Dujardin also received some Twitter buzz after guest appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” reprising his silent-star persona, and on the website Funny or Die, humorously auditioning for a surfeit of stereotypical French bad-guy roles.

Among the actors Dujardin bested at the BAFTAs was Englishman Oldman, star of the thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Oldman remains a long shot to win lead actor at the Oscars (his first-ever nomination), but perhaps he can take some consolation in having lots of fans on Twitter.

Averaging about 119 tweets per day going into the BAFTAs, Oldman shot up to 1,502 on Feb. 12, an increase of more than 12 times. One Oldman supporter (and Grammy hater) tweeted, “grammys can suck my toes, on the other hand the baftas was delightful S/O to Gary Oldman you was snubbed but still a winner and legend.”

Oldman’s movie also won awards for outstanding British film and adapted screenplay. Averaging 900 tweets over the previous three days, “Tinker Tailor” racked up 5,488 tweets the day of the awards, a more than six-fold increase. Positive sentiment for the film, which has occasionally been deemed boring and confusing by Twitter users, also edged upward.

One Twitter user wrote, “So glad Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won Best British Film at #Baftas. It was brilliant, and should have gotten more Oscar nods.”

Meanwhile, BAFTA-winning actress Streep, who portrays former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the biopic “The Iron Lady,” continued her reign as a favorite Twitter subject. From an average of 1,695 tweets per day captured by the Senti-meter leading up to the BAFTAs, Streep skyrocketed to 14,725 tweets upon winning the lead actress award, dwarfing any other actress (or actor, for that matter).

For comparison, “The Help” star Viola Davis, who is widely considered the other Oscar front-runner alongside Streep for lead actress, managed only 364 tweets the same day.

In the words of one Streep fan, “I love meryl Streep! Superb actress! Classy all round! So happy she won tonight! Bring on the Oscar.”

That said, neither the BAFTA awards nor the Twitterverse is a foolproof predictor of Oscar success; we’ll have to wait till Feb. 26 to be sure. Until then, though, we can see what all the talk is about.

RELATED:

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— Oliver Gettell


'The Artist' stars and other Oscar nominees set for Santa Barbara film fest Saturday

February 2, 2012 | 11:56 am

The Artist

Among the many events for Oscar nominees to attend as awards season heats up is the 27th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which this weekend will feature panels with filmmakers including “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius and “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig.

The festival, which kicked off Jan. 26, wraps Sunday after a weekend of multiple panels and final screenings. Among the films still screening are the Adrien Brody-starrer Detachment and the documentary Nothing Like Chocolate,” which received a standing ovation at its premiere last weekend.

Sharing the stage with Hazanavicius and Feig at the directors panel at 11 a.m. Saturday are five other directors who also helmed Oscar-nominated films, including “Rango” director Gore Verbinski and "Hotel Rwanda" director Terry George, nominated this year for his short film, "The Shore."

Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein will moderate the Movers & Shakers panel at 2 p.m. Saturday for a Q&A with six filmmakers behind some of this year’s Oscar best picture nominees, including “The Descendants” producer Jim Burke and “Hugo” producer Graham King.

SBIFF also presented awards to Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Martin Scorsese. On Saturday, "The Artist" stars Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award.

Festival tickets and schedule are available at Sbiff.org.

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Photo: "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius (left) will participate on SBIFF's directors panel Saturday. The film's stars, Bérénice Bejo (center) and Jean Dujardin (right), will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award that evening. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.


SAG Awards 2012: Jean Dujardin admits to feeling 'big pressure'

January 29, 2012 |  8:44 pm

Jean dujardin SAG awards the artist
With his breakout performance in “The Artist,” French actor Jean Dujardin has vaulted from obscurity stateside to Hollywood stardom and done it while scarcely saying a word.

At the SAG Awards at the Shrine Exposition Hall on Sunday, Dujardin’s turn as the silent-era movie star George Valentin beat out such A-list leading men as George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.

Looking every bit the old-school movie star backstage in his tux, a glowing Dujardin was a bit more talkative than his onscreen persona, and it took only a few lines of his heavily accented English to charm the press room.

SAG Awards: Photos | 360° tour | Photo booth | Winners | Stage set-up time lapse | Video

Asked by a reporter if he was surprised by the film’s success, Dujardin downplayed his contributions. “It’s not my fault,” he said, flashing a smile and prompting peals of laughter. “I’m just an actor. I think the star of the movie is the movie and the project and the …”

He trailed off, clearly struggling for the right words.

“Boring!” he said, slapping himself on both cheeks. “Wakey, wakey, Jean!”

The crowd laughed and he continued.

He went on to thank director Michel Hazanavicius, whom he nicknamed “Hazava-genius.”

Dujardin tried to explain the film’s appeal, calling it a feel-good movie, a love story and “a new visual and emotional experience for the audience.” He added, “And there’s a dog, and it’s a cute dog.”

When asked how he felt about his chances of winning an Academy Award for his performance — he would be the first Frenchman to win best lead actor — he answered by singing a few bars of “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. After the applause died down, he admitted to feeling “pressure, big pressure. It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing already. It’s too early to tell."

“Take a drink with me after,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper.

Dujardin was also asked what he thought of his future acting in America. After protesting that his English needs work and joking that he might try making another silent movie in the U.S., he said, “I have another shooting in April in France, and after I don’t know. But like George Valentin says, ‘With pleasure.’ ”

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Golden Globes: Irrelevant? Maybe. But not the speeches

January 16, 2012 |  3:32 pm

Meryl Streep
In the most obvious of ways, the Golden Globes have absolutely no bearing upon the Oscars. No academy member suddenly thought last night, "By Jove, that 'Artist' sure seems to be a favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I'd best check it out." If anything, given the reputation of the people voting for the Globes, you could see academy members wanting to go the opposite way.

But that's not how it works either. At this juncture of the award season, with nomination ballots already in, Oscar contenders can only help (or hurt) their chances by the way they conduct themselves when in the spotlight at public events. So how did this year's crop of Oscar contenders do last night at the Globes? Let's go to the tape:

MERYL STREEP

She's human. Forget for a moment the forgetting of the glasses. Did you see the kiss she gave her husband of 33 years, Don Gummer? Or the smooch she planted on Colin Firth's lips? Mamma Mia! Meryl was bursting with love last night! And then, yes, this master thespian can apparently be reduced to fits of profane yammering without her pair of trusty reading glasses. Granted, her speech went on a bit too long, but the standing ovation that greeted her and the charming humanity she displayed from the stage can only enhance her chances with academy voters. Which brings us to ...

DAVID FINCHER

When Streep did that cute little distress signal at the podium, miming a pair of spectacles with her hands, the call went forth to Hollywood: Get this woman her glasses! A specialized unit immediately sprang into action, an A-list A-Team that had Harvey Weinstein handing off the glasses to George Clooney who then made it almost all the way to the target before (in his words) "chickening out" and giving the final baton to David Fincher who ... started for the podium and then sat back down.

First, let us just remark how odd it is to see Fincher occupying the Mayor of Hollywood front-and-center table spot usually reserved for the likes of Jack Nicholson or Tom Hanks. But more to the fatal Clooney gaffe: There's no way the publicity-shy Fincher makes that final handoff in the spotlight. Clooney might as well have picked up his phone and called Ryan Gosling in Thailand for all the good he did in giving the glasses to Fincher. And viewers would have delighted in seeing him on stage with Streep.

GEORGE CLOONEY

On all other counts, Clooney acquitted himself nicely, displaying his trademark blend of graciousness and charm. His acceptance speech mixed an affable shout-out to friend Brad Pitt's humanitarian work with a profane thank-you to Michael Fassbender to "taking over the frontal nudity responsibility that I had." His remarks were short and sweet and few would mind hearing a variation of them come Oscar night.

OCTAVIA SPENCER

Tears? Check. Surprise? Check. "Seriously nuts" and "trembling ... gonna fall off these high-heel shoes"? Endearing. Quoting Dr. King? Priceless. The shot of Melissa McCarthy crying says it all. This woman will be hard to beat, even in a year dominated by her "Help" costar Jessica Chastain.

JEAN DUJARDIN

Even though (from the look on his face) Mark Wahlberg has no idea how to pronounce his name (nice save, Jessica Biel!), Dujardin enjoyed a nice introduction to Middle America last night, delivering a clever speech that played up his nationality without resorting to Benigni-level antics. The bad news: He's still being upstaged by the dog.

RELATED:

Complete Golden Globes coverage

— Glenn Whipp

Photo: Meryl Streep hoists her Golden Globe for lead actress in a motion picture drama, which she won for her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Credit: European Pressphoto Agency


National Society of Film Critics: 'Melancholia' best of 2011

January 7, 2012 |  1:51 pm

 

Kirsten Dunst, from left,  Alexander Skarsgaard, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg  in "Melancholia."

The National Society of Film Critics, which is made up of 58 the country's major film critics, rarely agrees with the choices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Oscars. And the group probably stayed true to form with its picks for its 46th annual awards, naming Lars Von Trier's end-of-the-world drama "Melancholia" best picture Saturday.

Terrence's Malick's "The Tree of Life" came in second and the lauded Iranian drama "A Separation" placed third. "Separation" also won best foreign-language film and best screenplay for Asghar Farhadi.

Malick took best director honors with Martin Scorsese for "Hugo" coming in second and Von Trier placing third.

The annual voting, using a weighted ballot system, is held at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City; this year 48 of the 58 members participated.

Best actor went to Brad Pitt for both "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." Pitt also won best actor from the New York Film Critics' Circle and is nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG award and a Critics Choice award. Runner-up was Gary Oldman for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," and Jean Dujardin placed third for "The Artist."

Notably missing from the list was Michael Fassbender for "Shame" and George Clooney for "The Descendants."

Best actress honors went to Kirsten Dunst for "Melancholia," with Yun Jung-hee for the Korean film "Poetry" coming in second. Meryl Streep's turn in "The Iron Lady" placed third.

Best supporting actor went to Albert Brooks for a his dramatic turn in "Drive." Christopher Plummer placed second for "Beginners," followed by Patton Oswalt for "Young Adult."

Best supporting actress was given to Jessica Chastain for her roles in three films: "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." Jeannie Berlin came in second for "Margaret" and Shailene Woodley placed third for "The Descandants."

"Tree of Life" also took home best cinematography for Emanual Lubezki with Manual Alberto Claro placing second for "Melancholia" and Robert Richardson taking third for "Hugo."

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" was best nonfiction film. He also came in third place in the category for "Into the Abyss." Steve James' "The Interrupters" placed second.

In best screenplay category, Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin's script for "Moneyball" was second behind "A Separation" and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" took third.

 The Experimental Award went to Ken Jacobs for "Seeking the Monkey King."

There were also several Film Heritage honors given out:

-- BAM Cinematek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective, with all titles shown in 16mm or 35mm.

-- Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon."

-- New York's Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.

-- Flicker Alley for its box set "Landmarks of Early Soviet Film."

-- Criterion Collection for its two-disc DVD package, "The Complete Jean Vigo."

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-- Susan King

Photo: Kirsten Dunst, from left,  Alexander Skarsgaard, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in "Melancholia." Credit: Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures.

 


'The Artist': Critics speak up to praise silent film

November 25, 2011 | 12:56 pm

The Artist
In a time when CGI spectacle and dizzying 3-D effects dominate the box office, an unlikely new silent black-and-white movie — by a French filmmaker, no less — is captivating critics. "The Artist," written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, is set in 1920s and '30s Hollywood and tells the story of a dashing silent-film star who meets-cute with an up-and-coming actress while the movie business is shifting its focus to talkies. Movie critics are calling "The Artist," which opens in limited release Friday, a love letter to classic Hollywood, and a fine film to boot.

The Times' Kenneth Turan says "The Artist" "manages the impossible: It strikes an exact balance between the traditions of the past and the demands of the present, managing to be true to the look and spirit of bygone times while creating the most modern kind of witty and entertaining fun." Crucial to the film's success, Turan writes, are stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, "bursting off the screen like irrepressible Roman candles."

For USA Today critic Claudia Puig, the film is a welcome relief from typical movie mayhem. She writes: "In a time when movies often are sonic assaults, and meaning can be lost amid the clatter of explosions, gunshots and screeching cars, 'The Artist' … has an utterly beguiling purity." Puig deems Hazanavicius "a supremely gifted filmmaker" and also commends the "gorgeously photographed" images (by cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman) and the "soaring score" (by Ludovic Bource). Puig also agrees that Dujardin and Bejo are "thoroughly engaging."

In the New York Times, A.O. Scott calls "The Artist" a "dazzling cinematic objet d'art." Scott notes moments in which the film echoes such classic movies as "Vertigo," "Citizen Kane" and "A Star Is Born," making it "a feast for antiquarian film geeks." Although the film "revels in gimmickry and occasionally oversells its charm," Scott says, it knows how to please an audience. And if it isn't quite a great movie, "it is an irresistible reminder of nearly everything that makes the movies great. "

Movieline's Stephanie Zacharek might quibble on that last point, as she finds "The Artist" to be both great and breezy. It is, she writes, "a picture whose very boldness lies in its perceived lightness." Zacharek praises Hazanavicius' subtle hand and the way the director "dots the movie with clever touches that are never overworked or arch." Schiffman's "satiny moonlight glow" and Bource's "champagne-bubble score" also score points.

Andrew O'Hehir of Salon says the film is "an outrageous and nearly impossible amount of fun," the kind of movie people drag their friends to go see. O'Hehir concedes that "'The Artist' is perhaps less deliriously enjoyable after it switches from its early romantic-comedy mode to the ensuing Theodore Dreiser-style melodrama of George’s fall into alcoholism, bankruptcy and disaster." But it also "bursts with affection" for old-school Hollywood, and it "finishes with a terrific bang."

For Hazanavicius and his team, it would appear silence is indeed golden — perhaps fittingly so during award season.

RELATED:

Critic's Notebook: The charmed life of 'The Artist'

Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo make noise for 'The Artist'

'The Artist': Black-and-white silent film not such a tough sell

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: Peter Iovino / The Weinstein Co.


George Clooney reveals his favorite films this year

November 15, 2011 |  6:15 pm

George Clooney
George Clooney is a busy man. Last month he starred alongside Ryan Gosling in the political drama "The Ides of March," on which he pulled triple-duty behind the camera by directing, producing and co-writing. Clooney's new film "The Descendants," a family drama in which he plays an indifferent father whose wife falls into a coma, opens Wednesday in Los Angeles and New York.

With two films gunning for awards this season, it's a wonder Clooney finds the time to keep up with the work of his peers. But somehow he manages. The actor-director recently told our colleagues at The Envelope whose work has impressed him recently:

"Jean Dujardin [in 'The Artist']. Because it's not just the style of the film, it's that his performance was so elegant and fun. He just jumps off the screen, and he's so good, and I thought that was a spectacular performance.

"You know what [else] I just saw that I really liked — I thought I'd like it anyway because they're all friends of mine — but I really liked 'Moneyball.' You know I'm still a baseball nut. It's really good. Brad [Pitt] is one of those actors that I think is always sort of underestimated … and the truth is he's really good in that movie."

Audiences will have to wait until Nov. 25 to see if they agree with Clooney's appraisal of Dujardin in "The Artist," a unique black-and-white silent film set in 1920s and '30s Hollywood. In the meantime, let us know what you thought of Pitt and "Moneyball" — and any other actors or films that have caught your attention this year — in the comments below.

RELATED:

Movie review: 'Moneyball'

'The Artist': Give it a try, you'll love it, cast promises

Is Brad Pitt beating George Clooney at his own game?

-- Oliver Gettell

Photo: George Clooney in "The Ides of March." Credit: Saeed Adyani / Columbia Pictures


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