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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Kathryn Bigelow

Video: Who will win the Oscar for best director? And who was overlooked?

February 2, 2010 | 10:54 am

The five Oscar nominees for best director — Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker," James Cameron for "Avatar," Lee Daniels for "Precious," Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air" and Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds" — are some very familiar faces indeed. Not only have they been regulars on the award circuit this year, but they also all came to The Times last month to participate in The Envelope Directors Roundtable series.

Still, it's hard not to feel that other directors were overlooked. To find out the name of at least one worthy candidate who was not on the list — and learn who is the odds-on favorite to win — watch the above video of Times film critic Kenneth Turan and writer John Horn.

After all, while the nominees could watch from the comfort of home, Turan and Horn had to be at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills well before the crack of dawn Tuesday.

And keep coming back to 24 Frames for more videos today.

— Scott Sandell

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Envelope Directors Roundtable: The challenges of marketing a film

January 22, 2010 |  7:02 am

Marketing campaigns may not be the first thing one thinks of when imagining the creative lives of some of the country's most well-known auteurs. But directors behind this season's biggest movies wrestle to a surprising degree with the issues of selling a movie -- whether it's Quentin Tarantino finding parts of the process "inspirational" or directors like Lee Daniels, Jason Reitman or James Cameron understanding that these Faustian bargains can help expose their film to a wider audience. Hear how these directors feel about one of moviedom's trickiest balances.

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Envelope Directors Roundtable: Sequels and board games vs. original work
Envelope Directors Roundtable: 'The scene I had to cut'
Envelope Roundtable: 'The moment I became a director'
James Cameron (and friends) on 'Avatar's' box office domination


Envelope Directors Roundtable: Sequels and board games vs. original work

January 21, 2010 |  7:00 am

Hollywood may be bombarded by sequels, franchises and toy adaptations -- yet many of the year's most acclaimed films derive from little else besides their makers' imaginations. Five of the directors who've succeeded in creating something wholly original this season contemplate why Hollywood continues to be enamored by decades-old properties, with James Cameron taking the sternest tone. "You can make money on a movie that's not based on something else," he said. The drive for profits "is not an excuse for people to constantly be whining about how the business is failing and we have to do all this commercial stuff in order to pay the payments on our corporate jets."

RELATED VIDEOS:

Envelope Directors Roundtable: The challenges of marketing a film
Envelope Directors Roundtable: 'The scene I had to cut'
Envelope Roundtable: 'The moment I became a director'
James Cameron (and friends) on 'Avatar's' box office domination


Envelope Directors Roundtable: 'The scene I had to cut'

January 20, 2010 |  7:00 am

Film fans like to watch movies and opine on what should or shouldn't have made the final cut. But sometimes a movie's harshest critic is the person who made it. In this clip from our Envelope Directors Roundtable, filmmakers reveal the scenes they loved but had to let go. Whether it's a startling group-therapy moment in "Precious" or a Hans Landa bon mot in "Inglourious Basterds," these scenes are often strikingly good -- and yet they'll never see the light of day.

RELATED VIDEOS:

Envelope Directors Roundtable: The challenges of marketing a film
Envelope Directors Roundtable: Sequels and board games vs. original work
Envelope Roundtable: 'The moment I became a director'
James Cameron (and friends) on 'Avatar's' box office domination


Envelope Roundtable: 'The moment I became a director'

January 19, 2010 |  7:00 am

Nearly every director who's ever worked anywhere near Hollywood makes compromises. But many directors also have a defining moment when they drew the line and clung tightly to their principles. For Quentin Tarantino it was declining to cut a potentially graphic scene over Harvey Weinstein's protestations. For Jason Reitman it was insisting on shooting in multiple locations when a studio was asking he shoot only in one. Hear what they and others on our roundtable did to elevate themselves from hired hands to artists.  

RELATED VIDEOS:

Envelope Directors Roundtable: The challenges of marketing a film
Envelope Directors Roundtable: Sequels and board games vs. original work
Envelope Directors Roundtable: 'The scene I had to cut'
James Cameron (and friends) on 'Avatar's' box office domination


Is 'Avatar' on its way to becoming this season's 'Slumdog Millionaire'?

January 18, 2010 |  6:50 pm

Ava
Last year at this time, "Slumdog Millionaire" was such a prohibitive favorite that at some point all the other contenders seemed to take the rest of the season off.

This year hasn't been nearly as predictable, nor as uniform. Favorites have had a shakier hold on their categories, and no movie has spread as widely across ballots as "Slumdog" did. Which has gotten pundits (at least until recently) excited about the prospect of a left-field phenomenon.

But as the award season moves from confusion to clarity — as it began to do when “Avatar” won best film and best director prizes at the Golden Globes on Sunday night — it also risks veering into certainty. It increasingly looks like this year won’t have a “Crash” or a “Departed,” which each made late, post-Globes surges to win best picture at the Oscars. Much of awards season thrives on suspense, so that’s not exactly a good thing.

Pundits do note a few areas could see drama. By handing best actress prizes to both Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock, the Globes cleared up nothing on that two-woman race; until SAG chooses between them this weekend, it’s almost impossible to handicap a winner. Kathryn Bigelow remains a strong candidate to take the best director prize away from ex-husband James Cameron, especially if the Directors Guild endorses her with its top honors Jan. 30.

This year there’s also a full week between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Globes announcements and the deadline for academy nomination ballots, which means that the HFPA could stir the pot by getting “The Hangover” back on voters’ minds and into that 10th best picture slot. Which, given that it could mean Mike Tyson holding court at Kodak Theatre, may or may not be a good thing.

But those are dramas of an underwhelming sort. For all the shrugging and upturned palms this year coming out of the New Hampshire primary of awards season, the Toronto International Film Festival, the surprises are fast dwindling. Oscar prospects for Jeff Bridges (best actor), Christoph Waltz and Mo'nique (best supporting actor and actress), “Inglourious Basterds” (original screenplay) and "Up in the Air" (adapted screenplay) are pretty much sure bets. And "Avatar" is looking and more and more steely in the best picture category. There appear to be few opportunities for Jets-like upsets and in turn few great awards-season subplots.

Then again, as counterintuitive as it may seem, “Avatar” represents a comeback story of its own. Sure, it’s not exactly “Slumdog” — Fox gave its director just a little bit more leeway (and money) than Warner Bros. did Danny Boyle. And the movie didn’t require a last-minute bailout from another studio to see the light of day.

But given that James Cameron disappeared for more than a decade with barely a playful hint as to his professional life outside an “Entourage” storyline, there’s something oddly left field about his candidacy too. And given initial skepticism about whether his movie would be a commercial and awards-season smash — let alone match the insanely high bar of “Titanic” — the 3-D film’s success lends it a distinctly "Slumdog"-ish, beat-the-odds quality.

“At the time of ‘Titanic,’ when we won the Golden Globe and we were on our way to being No. 1, I’m thinking ‘Enjoy this ride; it’s never going to happen again,’ ” Cameron said backstage at the Globes on Sunday night. “With ‘Avatar,’ we thought it was a shameless engine of commerce. We’re not going to try to impress the critics. And here we are again.” Given the growing inevitability of this race, that’s true in more ways than one.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Avatar." Credit: WETA/Twentieth Century Fox


James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow to face off at the DGA awards

January 7, 2010 | 10:55 am

Bieglow

The Directors Guild of America today set up a juicy subplot at its annual awards by nominating James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow, his ex-wife, for its top prize.

The “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” filmmakers were part of a group of directors that also included Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”), Lee Daniels (“Precious”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Inglourious Basterds”) shortlisted for the group's outstanding directorial achievement in feature film. The DGA will hand out the award at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Jan. 30.

It is the second time that the two filmmakers, who remain on good terms, will face off against each other. The two were also each nominated for a Golden Globe.

The DGA's choices overlap with the Globes’ nominations in all but one key respect: Daniels, who was snubbed by the Globes, lands on the list in place of “Invictus” director Clint Eastwood, who nabbed a Globe nomination but not a DGA one. Awards pundits remain divided on which of the two directors will land what probably will be the fifth Oscar slot.

Bigelow will get a chance to win and match Cameron, who previously won the award for “Titanic” in 1998. All the other directors are first-time nominees except for Tarantino, who was nominated for “Pulp Fiction” 15 years ago.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Kathryn Bigelow, left, Suzy Amis and James Cameron. Credit: Todd Williamson / WireImage


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