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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Artist

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.


Unmasking the academy: Who votes on the Oscars?

'The Artist' sweeps BAFTAs, winning best picture, director, actor

Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume

— Oliver Gettell

'The Descendants,' 'The Artist' and 'Rango' win editing awards

February 18, 2012 | 10:00 pm


"The Descendants," "The Artist" and "Rango" each took home an Eddie Award on Saturday night. The American Cinema Editors honored Kevin Tent in the dramatic motion picture category for his work on "The Descendants," while Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius won for best edited comedy or musical film for "The Artist." All three are also nominated for the Academy Award in the editing category.

Craig Wood earned a feature film Eddie for the animated film "Rango."

The 62nd annual awards were handed out Saturday night at a black-tie ceremony hosted by comic and actor Patton Oswalt at the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

On the television side, Steven Rasch won in the best edited half-hour series category for the "Palestinian Chicken" episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," while Skip MacDonald won for one-hour series for commercial TV for the "Face-Off" installment of "Breaking Bad."

Jordan Goldman and David Latham won for the pilot of "Homeland" in the one-hour series for non-commercial TV, while Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunseil won best edited documentary for "Freedom Riders."

Best edited reality series went to Eric Lasby for the "Haiti" episode of "Anthony Bourdain -- No Reservations," while Eric Kench won the student competiton for "Video Symphony."

Special awards were also handed out Saturday evening. Tent presented "Descendants" director and co-writer Alexander Payne with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year, while Lifetime Achievement Awards went to editors Joel Cox and Doug Ibold.


'Rango' wins the Annie Award for animated feature

Movie review: 'The Artist' a love note to the movies

'The Descendants': George Clooney on why he took the role of Matt King

--Susan King

Photos: George Clooney in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight. Jean Dujardin (L) and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.. "Rango." Credit: Paramount Pictures.

'The Artist' sweeps BAFTAs, winning best picture, director, actor

February 12, 2012 |  2:17 pm

The Artist swept the BAFTA Awards

This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.

"The Artist," the mostly silent black-and-white film made by a French cast and crew, was named best picture of the year at the Orange British Academy Awards on Sunday.

The picture swept Britain's top film awards, taking home seven of the 12 awards it was up for, including a prize for Jean Dujardin as lead actor and two for director-writer Michel Hazanavicius. Dujardin was also recently named lead actor by the Screen Actors Guild, while Hazanavicius took home the Directors Guild of America's top prize last month.

After receiving honors from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, it seems increasingly likely that both Frenchmen have a viable shot of scoring Oscar statuettes on Feb. 26.

The battle for lead actress is less clear, as Meryl Streep was given the BAFTA award for her portrayal of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." She beat out Viola Davis, who won the SAG award for her performance in "The Help," while Streep was named lead actress in a drama at the Golden Globes.

Meanwhile, two locks seem to be award season favorites -- Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer --  who received the BAFTA supporting actor and actress prizes. Plummer, 82, won for his role as an elderly gay man who reveals his sexuality to his son in "Beginners," while Spencer was recognized for her part as a fiesty maid in "The Help."

Other awards Sunday went to "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" for outstanding British film and to Pedro Almodóvar's "The Skin I Live In" for foreign-language picture. "Rango," featuring a lizard voiced by Johnny Depp, won for animated film.

Last year, eventual Oscar best picture winner "The King's Speech" took home the top prize at the BAFTAs, which took place at London's Royal Opera House.

Here's a full list of the BAFTA winners:

Continue reading »

'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.


Santa Barbara Film Festival to honor 'The Artist' stars

'Rango,' 'Margaret' head back into movie theaters Friday

Oscars 2012: 'Descendants' producer closer to 'career goal' with nom

— Emily Rome

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.

Actor John Goodman does both silent and 'Extremely Loud'

January 30, 2012 |  6:00 am

John Goodman
John Goodman has stolen plenty of scenes with midsize and supporting roles, including memorable turns as the unhinged bowler and Vietnam veteran Walter in “The Big Lebowski,” the everyman father Dan on the TV series “Roseanne” and the lovable blue beast Sulley in the animated film “Monsters Inc.” This year, Goodman pops up in two high-profile Oscar contenders, playing a movie studio boss in the old Hollywood-inspired silent film “The Artist” and a doorman in the 9/11 drama “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

Goodman spoke to 24 Frames from London, where he is working on the BBC miniseries “Dancing on the Edge,” about his work in two very different films.

You’re in two movies up for best picture at the Academy Awards. That must be gratifying.
Right now it’s cool. It would be cooler if one of them wins. But it’s just nice to be in successful things.

Let’s start with “The Artist.” How different was it acting in a silent film?
It goes back to the old days where you’d put up a scenario and then improvise your dialogue. The only challenge really was improvising with Jean Dujardin, who doesn’t speak any English — or, he didn’t at the time. He’s learning very rapidly. And I done flunked high school French. But we knew what we were talking about, and we listened very closely to each other, which led to a great ensemble feeling. Everybody knew they were doing something that was a little off, a little different, a little special. It created a great camaraderie in the cast. [But] the acting wasn’t really any different. You just look at each other and pay attention and listen.

Are you a big fan of silent movies?
Yeah. The older I get, the more I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into what we do. Watching those guys creating, especially like Buster Keaton, [Charlie] Chaplin, I can’t believe that they did the stuff they do. Incredible skills went into it. What I’m learning to appreciate now is like my character [in “The Artist”] — these were really tough. They wanted to entertain people and wanted to put butts in the seats. To do that, they had to wrestle all kinds of stuff but ultimately have a gut feeling about what looked good up there and what people wanted to see.

What was it like working with director Michel Hazanavicius?
He presented me with a scenario for the movie since they couldn’t show me a screenplay, which was a beautiful printed scenario — it had pictures of old Hollywood movies. The way he presented it to me, I said, “Well this guy really knows his onions and he knows what he wants and he obviously has a passion for it.” So he kind of sold me there. And then we met on Wilshire Boulevard and talked about what he wanted to do, and I was ready to go.

You’re also in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” a very different film in terms of tone, story and setting. Do you see any similarities between the two films?
Well, “The Artist” is a story of loss and redemption, and I guess in a way, “Extremely Loud” is as well.

What was it like working with director Stephen Daldry?
Oh, he was great. He’s story-first. He seemed to me like a theater guy, because he set up a  rehearsal space in Brooklyn and we went over the scenes over and over and over again. I just love that. I really like to rehearse, figure out what I’m doing. I actually only wound up working one day on [the film], and they kept asking me if I still wanted to do it, and I said, “Yeah, I’m in.” The screenplay was very moving when I read it, and I wanted to be a part of it. I’ll follow Stephen Daldry off a roof.

It sounds as though there was a lot of improvisation on “The Artist” and more rehearsal on “Extremely Loud.” Do you have a preferred way of working?
I do whatever they tell me to pretty much, but I do like to rehearse to get it down. To me it pays off because I’m a slow learner. I don’t trust myself to improvise. Thank god the microphones were not on [for “The Artist”]. But the more you do it, you get better and better at it.

They say comedy is one of the hardest things to do in show business. As someone who’s done his fair share, do you find that to be true?
It’s difficult, but I don’t think it’s as hard as people say it is. It’s something you feel. You either got it or you ain’t.

You’ve been to the Academy Awards before. Is there anything you’d add to, subtract from or change about the show?
No [laughs]. The show is what it is. I don’t think they should worry about pleasing people. I think that’s been a fault in the past. They worry about trying to get a new audience or whatever — just relax and be the Oscars.


Oscars 2012: 'The Artist,' 'Extremely Loud' up for best picture

John Goodman on what the actors say in a silent movie [video]

Directors Roundtable: Daldry, Hazanavicius and others talk shop

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: John Goodman as studio boss Al Zimmer in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

January 28, 2012 | 11:17 pm

Scorsese payne hazanavicius fincher dga

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Michel Hazanavicius best film director of 2011 for “The Artist,” the nostalgic black-and-white, nearly silent movie that hearkens back to the time of transition in Hollywood from silents to talkies. It is the first guild win for the 44-year-old French filmmaker.

"It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope. I really love directors, I over-respect directors. This is very moving and touching to me," he said, receiving a standing ovation. "Best director -- I really don't know what that means. All movies are different, so it's a strange thing to try to compare them and say which is best, but I'm very happy to get this. Thank you."

The other nominees were Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants").

PHOTOS: Directors Guild of America Awards

The DGA feature film awards are considered one of the most dependable bellwethers for the Academy Awards for best director. Over the past 63 years, the DGA and academy have disagreed on their choices only six times. The last time was nine years ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski was named best director by the academy for “The Pianist.”

Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Movie Awards. He was in contention for a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best director.

Last week, “The Artist” won the Producers Guild of America award, which is one of the indicators for the best film Oscar. On Tuesday, “The Artist” earned 10 Oscar nominations, one less than the top nominee “Hugo.” Hazanavicius is up for three of those Oscars for director, screenplay and editing.

The 64th annual DGA Awards were held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. Recent Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer was the host of the evening, succeeding Carl Reiner, who had become an institution at the event, hosting 24 times. Reiner agreed to host for a final time at the 2011 ceremony.

"Welcome to what will be a glorious night....for some of you. Last year we celebrated the DGA awards of biblical length -- it was so long, the Mayans could not predict an end," he said. "The director's cut was two hours shorter. Even James Cameron said, 'it was too long.'"

Before being named the night's big winner, Hazanavicius was presented with his nominee medallion by his two stars, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. Upon taking it, he said: "It's a thrill to be here and to be among these wonderful directors. I'm honored," he said in accepting the medallion. "Maybe you haven't noticed but I'm French. I have an accent and I have a name that is very difficult to pronounce. I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker. And I made a film about my love for Hollywood. We create stories that tell people they are not alone. We separate life from shadows. Hollywood helped me grow up. I believed in values like courage, perseverance and integrity."

"I made this film as a love letter to Hollywood. I feel like I am being accepted by you -- not you as Americans but as filmmakers. So thank you." And he added:  "For my wife Berenice, I'm so glad we shared this together and I love you."

The guild gave James Marsh the award for feature documentary for "Project Nim."

The DGA award for best directing in a TV comedy series went to Robert B. Weide, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken").

In accepting, Weide said: "I have very mixed feelings about this because this means that I just lost a $300 bet to my wife, Linda. Why do they call this a medallion? It's a plate. I understand when you go to Don Mischer's house for dinner, you actually eat off of these."

Other awards handed out Saturday night:

Movies for Television and Mini-series: Jon Cassar, "The Kennedys"

Dramatic TV series: Patty Jenkins, for the pilot of "The Killing"

Musical variety TV: Glenn Weiss, for the 65th annual Tony Awards 

Reality TV programs: Neil P. Degroot, for "Biggest Loser"

Daytime TV serials: William Ludell, for "General Hospital" ("Intervention")

Children’s programs: Amy Schatz, for "A Child's Garden of Poetry" 

Commercials: Noam Murro

Three special awards were also presented. Ed Sherin was named an Honorary Life Member; Katy Garretson received the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Dennis Mazzocco recieved the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of "Project Nim" director James Marsh as March.]


Oscar nominations: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese top list for best director

Oscar nominations: Who's been hottest so far this awards season?

'The Descendants' expands rapdily, 'The Artist' slowly

-- Jasmine Elist and Susan King

Photo: Directors Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius and David Fincher attend the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards Meet the Nominees Breakfast held at the DGA on Saturday.Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA 


'The Artist's' Uggie to retire at 10; that's 50-plus in dog years

January 26, 2012 | 10:20 am


Uggie the dog, the faithful on-screen companion of Jean Dujardin in the silent-movie "The Artist," is set to hang up his collar and retire. Which means that next month's Academy Awards will probably be the last public appearance by one of the year's biggest movie stars.

Uggie's trainer, Omar Von Muller, told Life & Style magazine, "He may do a couple of little things here and there because he enjoys them, but I don't want to put him through long hours anymore. He's getting tired."

Last year was the biggest of Uggie's on-screen career, with high-profile roles in "Water for Elephants" and the Oscar-nominated "The Artist." When the "The Artist" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Uggie was awarded the Palm Dog (a play on the Palm d'Or) for best performance by a canine in a film at the fest. However, despite calls for a special Oscar category to be created for Uggie, the academy hasn't been as open to honoring animal performances.

PHOTOS: Which movie dog deserves Oscar treat?

Besides the Oscars, Uggie has one more big outing in February, and that's to the Golden Collar Awards, where he's a double nominee as best dog in a theatrical film for "The Artist" and "Water for Elephants."

Uggie, who is 10 (that's his mid-50s in dog years), is poised to lead a relaxing life in retirement, but he's not leaving the Hollywood community in the lurch. Uggie's trainer has the dog's brother, Dash, ready to go. According to Von Muller, Dash has already been working as Uggie's stand-in and should do just fine.

Moviegoers shouldn't worry -- this isn't like Dennis Quaid retiring and Randy Quaid taking his roles.

And for one more Uggie fix, watch our video from the Golden Globes red carpet below:


Photos: Top Oscar nominees

Oscar noms: Will 'The Artist' see a box office boost?

Turan: 'The Artist,' despite slams, deserves front-runner status

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Uggie the dog. Credit: Joel Ryan / Associated Press

Oscars 2012: 'Artist,' despite slams, deserves front-runner status

January 24, 2012 | 10:32 am

The Artist"The Artist" has 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture, director and screenplay. Only "Hugo," with 11, has more, but "The Artist's" two nominees in the powerful best acting categories make it at the very least one of the favorites for the Oscar. Does anyone realize how remarkable an accomplishment that is?

It’s the first silent best picture nominee since silents went away, and as a French film it is the first best picture front-runner in memory from a non-English-speaking nation.

More than that, it is a film that never ever imagined it would get so far. In fact, Oscar-nominated costar Bérénice Bejo has said that she and nominated writer-director Michel Hazanavicius had so little hopes of it even getting a U.S. release that they planned to send DVDs to the American cast and crew so they could see it. Then Oscar mastermind Harvey Weinstein got involved, and that has not been necessary.

FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

Weinstein’s input has been noteworthy because “The Artist” is not something people are initially eager to see. As an early advocate of the film after its Cannes success, I faced a wall of stony indifference when I returned to Los Angeles and told people I knew how charming it was. Their lips may have said, “That sounds great,” but their eyes told me, “Not in this lifetime.”

“The Artist” also had to overcome a recent fashionable tendency to dismiss this year’s candidates in general, and this film in particular, as not quite lofty enough to merit  Oscar consideration (whatever that means given some of the questionable winners of the past). The New York Times, for instance, went out of its way Sunday to take a patronizing swipe at it as a “careful if sometimes condescending pastiche of silent era filmmaking.”

So what is going on here? What, besides the Weinstein touch, has made “The Artist” so appealing to Oscar voters right here in Hollywood, where they don’t necessarily care what they think in New York?

PHOTOS: Los Angeles locales star in silent film 'The Artist'

First off, “The Artist” really is fun for adults to watch. That may sound like a given, or something that happens every day, but movies that manage to successfully entertain modern grown-up audiences in traditional ways are way rarer and more welcome than tastemakers want to acknowledge.

So many have taken to carping about “The Artist” that it was tonic to receive the recent year-in-review issue of the prestigious British film journal Sight & Sound and read the lavish praise. “A glorious film for which I am temporarily suspending my rule never to use the word ‘perfect,’ ” wrote one critic, with another adding, “No film this year better expressed the pure pleasure in and of cinema.” This pure entertainment aspect of “The Artist” was a key part of what academy voters must have responded to.

A second source of “The Artist’s” appeal is that it allows audiences to participate in and feel good about the traditional communal nature of the moviegoing experience in a way that talking films rarely do.

As costar John Goodman has pointed out, silent films by their nature are best experienced in a crowd, where the emotions produced by the music and the emotive nature of the acting get naturally amplified as they bounce from person to person. In an age when watching movies alone at home is a given and watching them regularly on your cellphone is being touted as one of the glories of the future, academy voters likely found it exhilarating to be reminded of the special nature of the theater-going experience.

Finally, for more than one reason, “The Artist” is that almost unheard of film that makes voters feel good about what they do for a living, that makes them take pleasure in working in the industry when so little else does.

In part this is because this is a movie about movie-making, a picture that makes being in the business seem glamorous and exciting in ways it doesn’t always do in real life. For voters who often may have jobs working on movies that even if successful tend to be mind-numbing sequels that succeed for all the wrong reasons, the chance to vote for a joyous film that’s accessible to all and insults no one’s intelligence was too good to pass up.

There was quite a lot for fans of intelligent movie-making to be greatful for this year, from screenplay and acting nominations for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” to an excellent foreign language list (after last year’s “Of Gods and Men” fiasco) to six nominations for the often overlooked “Moneyball.” But seeing “The Artist” being all it can be has got to be the biggest satisfaction of all.

The following video is from the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, directors George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") talk to The Times' John Horn about how they decide which movies to bring to life.

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

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

Thomas Langmann: 'Crazy' risk pays off for 'The Artist' producer

January 23, 2012 |  1:28 pm

Thomas Langmann at the Producers Guild Awards

Thomas Langmann, producer of "The Artist" and winner of the Darryl F. Zanuck Award at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday, said he took a risk on a silent movie in the hopes of being part of a unique and unconventional film.

Certainly no pressure at all for the film's writer and director, Michel Hazanavicius.

"People called me crazy, or insane, but I knew if Michel succeeded, the film would be different -- it would be special," Langmann said Saturday night. "I put a lot of pressure on Michel's shoulders, but the film turned out to be beyond our expectations."

PHOTOS: The scene at the Producers Guild Awards

The Zanuck Award honors the outstanding producer of a theatrical motion picture. Langmann, who plans to continue working with Hazanavicius on his future projects, said he wanted "The Artist" to serve as a "love letter to American cinema" and a tribute to Hollywood.

And, he said, he and Michel enjoyed every single moment of filmmaking along the way.


Producers Guild Awards: 'The Artist' takes home top honors

'The Artist' is the big winner at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Directors Roundtable: Machinery of filmmaking mars 'intimacy of a shoot'

-- Jasmine Elist

Photo: Thomas Langmann accepts the Darryl F. Zanuck Award during the 23rd annual Producers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills on Saturday. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Heat Meter: Is ‘Descendants’ hotter than ‘The Artist’?

January 16, 2012 |  8:10 pm

By now the race for best picture is unequivocally a two-horse field, with “The Descendants” and “The Artist” winning the top two awards at the Golden Globes Sunday night. (Last time a pair of legit front-runners split the Globes’ drama and comedy awards? In 2003, when “The Hours” and “Chicago” walked away with the honors.)

But which film has the bigger head of steam? The Los Angeles Times’ Heat Meter system, which Times data editor Doug Smith has helped us devise and which uses a set of algorithms to tally points based on nominations, awards and critics groups throughout the season (for more detail on the scoring, please see this key) shows that “Descendants” has actually pulled slightly ahead. Slightly. 

Within the best picture category, “The Descendants” has accumulated 84.3 points while “The Artist” has rung up 81. 

The Clooney-fest and the study-in-silence have of course also been nabbing other prizes, from acting to score. Though those don’t figure directly into the best picture category, they matter for a movie’s prestige--and also give a film momentum and  a sense of inevitability--so we roll them up into a movie’s total score.

So which has accumulated more overall awards points?

That race, too, is more competitive than an overachieving child at a spelling be :  "Descendants" is now ahead of “The Artist”--but barely, 253-237. (For those following the bronze-medal competition, the race for third has gotten even more bunched up: “The Help” has 132 points and "Hugo" 131.)

The intense battle between Fox Searchlight’s “The Descendants” and the Weinstein Co.’s “The Artist” (next up: Oscar nominations on Jan. 24, with ballots already in) is reminiscent of last year’s face-off between Sony’s “The Social Network” and Weinstein’s “The King’s Speech.” Each also emerged ahead of the pack.

Last year at this time, that race wasn’t nearly as tight. “Network” had a sizable lead over “Speech,” 364-285, when it came to overall points. But that was a very different battle that followed a much clearer trajectory.  “The Social Network” was an early favorite when it came out on the first day of October after premiering just days earlier. Then it steadily began to lose momentum. By Oscar night, “Speech” had overtaken it.

The fight between “Artist” and “Descendants” has been a more complicated thing. “The Artist” made a splash at Cannes then went, well, silent for a few months. In the meantime,  “The Descendants” debuted at  late-summer festivals and was considered a solid contender. Then it faded a bit as “Artist” took center stage. And now it’s re-emerged again. On any given week, one film  has been stronger than the other, which is why their Heat Meter scores are as close they are.

Trying to figure out categories of relative strength has been tricky too—“Artist” may be slightly stronger on the director side, but Clooney has emerged as the man to beat on the actor side.

The only thing that’s clear is that when this season wraps up, one of these films will emerge as the big winner. Or maybe it’s the other one.


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Golden Globes: Ryan Gosling's absence and other mysteries

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight


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