After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
And so it begins …
The National Board of Review kicked the award season off last week by announcing their 2008 picks and now the Writers Guild, Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association and the Critics’ Choice Awards are following suit.
The Critics Choice folks have pitted significant other against significant other by choosing Brad Pitt’s Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Angelina Jolie’s The Changeling as best picture nominees, along with The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E, Doubt, The Reader and The Wrestler.
Pitt got a nod for best actor as well, joining Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler).
The late Heath Ledger is starting his posthumous run by getting a Critics’ Choice supporting actor nod for his work in The Dark Knight, along with Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) and James Franco (Milk).
Actress nods went to Changeling’s Jolie, of course. Also to Kate Beckinsale (Nothing But the Truth), Cate Blanchett (Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Melissa Leo (Frozen River) and Meryl Streep (Doubt).
The supporting actress list includes: Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona); Viola Davis (Doubt); Vera Farmiga (Nothing But the Truth); Taraji P. Henson (Curious Case of Benjamin Button); Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) and Kate Winslet (The Reader).
The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards, voted on by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, are due to be presented Jan. 8.
Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America choose their top TV picks, including -- comedy nominees The Simpsons, 30 Rock, The Office, Entourage, Weeds -- and dramas The Wire, Mad Men, Dexter, Lost and Friday Night Lights. Word is still out on what movies the WGA will pick.
Lastly, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association let their voices be heard by announcing their winners straight out.
Along with NBR, the Washington critics anointed Slumdog Millionaire as best picture, a film about an Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Its director Danny Boyle won best director and young star Dev Patel won best Breakthrough Performance.
They gave Ledger his first posthumous award for best supporting actor, while handing their top best actor honors to Mickey Rourke for his stunning performance in The Wrestler.
Meryl Streep received the best actress award for her nun turn in Doubt, stealing some of the awards-season thunder from Anne Hathaway, who was NBR's Best Actress pick for Rachel Getting Married. But Rachel didn't go unrecognized, as Rosemarie DeWitt was named best supporting actress.
Oh, and there’s lots more to come. In fact, the 66th Annual Golden Globes nominations will be announced Thursday, Dec. 11.