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Fruitvale, Before Midnight, Stories We Tell first Oscar contenders of 2013

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The year starts slow, builds to a climax, then the inevitable disappointing conclusion.  But now’s the time when hope springs eternal and we might as well start the year with two auteurs. Fruitvale launches the career of writer/director Ryan Coogler, whose Fruitvale won big at Sundance already, the audience award and the Grand Jury prize.  The plot, as written by HR’s Todd McCarthy: The sort of material that you might more…


Oscars Postmortem: A Tribute to Roger Deakins

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by Marshall Flores When the 85th Academy Awards concluded, the final distribution of winners generally reflected the patterns of years past. A few won their second or third statuettes, others received their first trophies, and most walked home empty handed, some for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, that last group included perpetual Oscar also-rans like composer Thomas Newman, sound mixer Greg P. Russell, and cinematographer Roger Deakins. Deakins, the longtime director…

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Life of Pi wins 4 Oscars, Argo takes 3 including BP

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  Best motion picture Argo, Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers Achievement in directing Life of Pi, Ang Lee Performance by an actor in a leading role Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln Performance by an actress in a leading role Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook Performance by an actor in a supporting role Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained Performance by an actress in a supporting role Anne Hathaway, in…


The State of the Race: Who Controls the Academy Awards?

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It’s been a rough year for Zero Dark Thirty fans, a rougher year for Lincoln fans. Starting as far back as October with the systemic and relentless takedown over at, Lincoln could not catch a break. The top pundits in the field like Steve Pond and Dave Karger knew in their bones Lincoln was “too boring” to win, that too many people “didn’t like it.” It didn’t pass the…


The State of the Race: Out from the Grizzly Maze

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“If you are losing a tug of war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope.” – Max Gunther A quick timeline: January 10th – Oscar nominations, Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow left off January 10th – Ben Affleck wins Best Picture and Director at the BFCA January 13th – Ben Affleck wins Best Picture and Best Director…


Lincoln, Spielberg and the Seeds of Time

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“If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me.” Twice during Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a collection of glass plate photographs are featured. Lincoln’s son, 10-year-old Tad, is preoccupied with studying these photos, some of which preserve the images of African-American boys close to his own age. When President Lincoln comes upon Tad asleep by the fireplace…


The State of the Race: “Movies Now More than Ever”

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“Old endgame lost of old, play and lose and have done with losing.” –Samuel Beckett The Oscar race is all over but the shouting.  History will be made one way or another. History already has been made once the Academy pushed their ballot deadline to occur before the big guilds announced.  That one little move forever altered the race, throwing it into complete chaos.  The truth is we think we…

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Kathleen Kennedy: Desert Island Producer

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Since the Oscar race that started with Argo in Telluride is now finishing with Argo in Hollywood I have really no choice but to quote Bob Dylan — “You just kinda wasted my precious time but don’t think twice, it’s all right.” All of the in-between that happened there? That was the stuff that dreams are made of. One of the things that happened this year and will likely be…


Ben Affleck and the Charm Offensive

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All the films up for Best Picture are formidable challengers in their own right. But only one of these has a secret weapon: a charming, handsome actor-director most people have known for years. The public knows his suave celebrity disposition, the industry knows his reputation as one of the nicest guys in town. Good luck going up against that. Likeable movie, likable star with an added narrative of having been…


Best Actress: The Veterans and the Rising Stars

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When Emmanuelle Riva won the BAFTA for Best Actress it underscored what we’ve been saying for years — that you have to go all the way to France to find storytellers who are willing to contemplate the idea of women as whole human beings with their own arcs. It’s astonishing to me that we’re headed for yet another Oscar Best Picture win where American women are almost invisible onscreen. It’s…