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The State of the Race: The Ghost of Roger Ebert, The Future of Film

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Roger Ebert silently presides over these proceedings here at Cannes. He’s long gone from this physical world but his legacy steadfastly endures — especially this year, partly due to the documentary of his biography “Life Itself,” playing to rapturous reviews here at Cannes, and partly from the presence of Ebert’s wife Chaz, a vital force for film criticism here at Cannes, and online as she continues to run the website,…

The State of the Race: Final Oscar Nomination Predictions

The State of the Race: Final Oscar Nomination Predictions

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My candle burns at both ends, It will not last the night– ah, my foes, and oh, my friends, It gives a lovely light. The Oscar year began all the way back in Cannes where three films were introduced – Inside Llewyn Davis, All is Lost and Nebraska.  For a time it seemed as though those three films would continue to dominate through the festival season and through the critics…

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The State of the Race: Flirting with the Edges of Making History

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Much of the world tuned in last night to watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the Golden Globes with effortless snark, smoothly spanxed into their evening gowns. Their jokes overflowed like the alcohol that is always the unintended guest of honor at these soirees.  With Oscar nomination ballots long since turned in, but final decisions still in flux for the vast number of industry guild voters who, let’s face…

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The State of the Race Part One: Stories of Great and Flawed Men Endure

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“Produce great men, the rest follows.” Walt Whitman The year’s most powerful film tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man stolen into slavery where he suffered under unimaginable conditions before finally finding a way to free himself again. He lost 12 years of his life, but somehow endured what can only be called crimes against humanity that built this “free” country of ours. 12 Years a Slave…

GRAVITY

The State of the Race: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

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There is no doubt that the human experience feels more isolated and isolating now than it ever has. We’re more connected yet less connected than we ever have been. Our avatars seem to thrive while our human bodies continue to live out our mortal lives. While we are more connected to one another than ever before, the films that have captured the zeitgeist so far this year deal with isolation,…

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The State of the Race: Oscar’s Best Picture Road Map Thus Far

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In one sense, the Oscars continue to matter as much, maybe more, than they ever have. For the past ten or twenty years, the number of films that are good enough to get awards attention has been shrinking. If it weren’t for the Oscars and the additional money they generate, would the incentive to make prestige films be vanishing even faster? The Oscar race is virtually an industry unto itself….

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The State of the Race: Argo Takes Back the Lead

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  “And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it, Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’, But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ ” – Bob Dylan Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere threatened to jump off the Santa Barbara pier last night if Lincoln had won the Producers…

ARGO

The State of the Race: Defining an Oscar Frontrunner

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“I call to you, I call to you but I don’t call soft enough. There ain’t no cure for love.” – L. Cohen The Oscar race, like an urgent search for “true love,” is rarely about finding Ms. Right, so much as it is about finding Ms. Right Now. Sometimes you get lucky and the voters lock onto something so deserving that its rightness reverberates through the hall of fame…

past is future

The State of the Race: The Changing of the Guard

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As I re-watched Avatar last night, or tried to, I was thinking about the future of cinema. I was thinking about how hard it is to sell dramas now to the general public. I was thinking about the Academy, and how difficult it must be for them to evolve out of the old way of presenting films to the new way they will be sold from now on. The only…

MOVIE THE DESCENDANTS

The State of the Race: “Write Me Well”

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This year there are more writer/directors than there have been in a long while.   Scripts, original and adapted, usually power the engine that makes a great movie great.  All of the wonderful writing in the world, however, can’t save a film that a director, producer or studio has strangled within an inch of its life.  One decision can completely derail the best screenplays, just as a minor change can…