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If you're part of the Oscar conversation, you've already heard proclamations about this year's "shoe-ins" for the big awards. 12 Years a Slave is said to have Best Picture down pat, Cate Blanchett is being heralded as the year's Best Actress for Blue Jasmine, Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron is a leading contender in the Best Director category. All likely winners, and all deserving of this sort of praise. But there are a number of movies and performances that we might feel to be stronger, films that we worry won't get the Oscar attention they warrant. That's what some of the smaller circuits are for — specifically the Gotham Awards, which announced its big winners on Monday night.
The Gotham's picks included the Coen Bros' terrific folk music exploit Inside Llewyn Davis, a poignant movie about failure of all kinds, and the big talking point that was this summer's Fruitvale Station. In terms of performances, we might be seeing Gotham's Best Actor Matthew McConaughey snag an Academy win for his Dallas Buyers Club role, but we're less likely to witness the stellar Brie Larson earn her due come March, despite her monumentally heartrending turn in Short Term 12. Check out the list of winners below, and make sure you catch each and every title ASAP... whether the Oscars tell you to or not.
Best FeatureInside Llewyn Davis
Best DocumentaryThe Act of Killing
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director AwardRyan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
Best ActorMatthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best ActressBrie Larson, Short Term 12
Breakthrough ActorMichael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Film Audience AwardJake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings
Spotlight on Women Filmmakers 'Live the Dream' GrantGita Pullapilly, director of Beneath the Harvest Sky
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Anderson's quirky drama Moonrise Kingdom scooped the Best Feature Award, making it hotly tipped to win big at next year's (13) Oscars.
The Gotham prizegiving traditionally kicks off the film world's awards season, and winners often go on to nab Academy Awards nominations and trophies.
Leto picked up the Audience Award for his film Artifact, a documentary about the making of his band 30 Seconds to Mars' album This Is War.
Beasts of the Southern Wild landed the Best Director title for Behn Zeitlin, who was also honoured with the Bingham Ray Award.
Emayatzy Corinealdi took home the Best Actor nod for her breakthrough performance in Middle of Nowhere while Emily Blunt, Rosemarie Dewitt and Mark Duplass received the Best Ensemble Performance for Your Sister's Sister.
Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell and Oscar winners Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard were also feted with Career Tribute statues for their contributions to cinema.
Bingham Ray was at the Park City event in Utah when he reportedly suffered a stroke on Saturday (21Jan12). He passed away aged 57 two days later.
Ray was the former president of United Artists studios and oversaw the production of several independent film hits, including Hotel Rwanda and Death At A Funeral.
A spokesperson for the Sundance Institute says, "On behalf of the independent film community here in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family. Bingham’s many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten."
He is survived by his wife and three children.
Kathryn Bigelow made Oscars history when she became the first female to land the top director honour, beating ex-husband James Cameron in the process.
Calling the huge win "the moment of a lifetime," Bigelow dedicated the award to "the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world."
The gritty film also claimed the night's sound awards, film editing and original screenplay prizes - as it collected six of the nine accolades it was nominated for.
Avatar, the world's biggest grossing movie ever, was a triple winner and Up, Crazy Heart and Precious won double.
All the pre-show favourites won the big acting prizes with Jeff Bridges claiming Best Actor, Sandra Bullock Best Actress, Mo'Nique Best Supporting Actress and Christoph Waltz Best Supporting Actor.
Bigelow led what became a great night for firsts - Bullock became the first star to land a Golden Raspberry dishonour the same year as an Oscar - she picked up the Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve on Saturday (06Mar10); Bridges won his first Oscar for Crazy Heart after five attempts, and 33 of 39 Academy Award winners took home their first Oscars, with The Hurt Locker trio of Bigelow, writer Mark Boal and sound editor Paul N.J. Ottosson picking up their first and second accolades at the 82nd annual prizegiving.
The full list of winners at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood is:
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Animated Feature Film: Up
Best Original Song: The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham & T-Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart)
Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
Best Animated Short: Logorama
Best Documentary Short: Music by Prudence
Best Live Action Short: The New Tenants
Best Make-Up: Barney Burman, Mindy Hall & Joel Harlow (Star Trek)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)
Best Art Direction: Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg & Kim Sinclair (Avatar)
Best Costume Design: Sandy Powell (The Young Victoria)
Best Sound Editing: Paul N.J. Ottosson (The Hurt Locker)
Best Sound Mixing: Paul N.J. Ottosson & Ray Beckett (The Hurt Locker)
Best Cinematography: Mauro Fiore (Avatar)
Best Original Score: Michael Giacchino (Up)
Best Visual Effects: Andrew R. Jones, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum & Richard Baneham (Avatar)
Best Documentary Feature: The Cove
Best Film Editing: Bob Murawski & Chris Innis (The Hurt Locker)
Best Foreign Language Film: El secreto de sus ojos (Argentina)
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Political intrigue corruption scandal sex — it’s all here in this Americanized adaptation of the much acclaimed 2003 six-hour BBC miniseries. With the story shifting from London to Washington D.C. the focus is now on a married congressman who is chairman of an important committee overseeing defense spending. He is a rising star in his party until his beautiful young assistant with whom he has been carrying on a clandestine affair is suddenly found dead. Things get complicated when his old friend Washington Globe investigative reporter Cal McAffrey is assigned to track down the story and try to uncover the identity of the killer. With cub blogger Della Frye forced on him as a partner the two journalists step into a government coverup that is much bigger than anyone could have imagined.
WHO’S IN IT?
Four days before production kicked off Brad Pitt dropped and Russell Crowe replaced him in the key reporter's role. It’s hard to imagine Pitt in this part since Russell Crowe disheveled-looking with long hair and about 30 pounds overweight owns it in his best performance since A Beautiful Mind. As his blog-savvy young partner Rachel McAdams firmly captures the essence of a determined but inexperienced young journalist in over her head. A sharp-tongued and feisty Helen Mirren is ideal as the newspaper boss more concerned with profits than integrity as she spouts out lines like “I don’t give a s--t about the rest of the story. We are going to press!” Ben Affleck also has his best screen outing in a while as the ambitious congressman Stephen Collins who gets caught with his pants down. A bevy of fine supporting turns include Robin Wright Penn as Collins’ unhappy wife; Jeff Daniels oily and smarmy as a conservative politician who knows more than he lets on and especially Jason Bateman stealing scenes as a slimy PR guy who provides some key details.
Not only does State of Play work well as a political thriller its pointed take on the failing state of newspapers and lax journalistic standards could not be more timely. Stunning widescreen cinematography and lavish sets add to the authenticity of a movie that in its best moments can be compared favorably with similar '70s classics like All the President's Men.
As the dense plot unfolds it gets a bit confusing trying to keep all the players straight particularly towards the end where you might need "State of Play for Dummies" just to follow it all.
A nail-biter beautifully staged by director Kevin MacDonald (Last King of Scotland) where Crowe plays a cat-and-mouse game in an underground garage with a mysterious armed suspect he has just confronted.
HOW MANY WRITERS DOES IT TAKE TO SCREW IN A LIGHT BULB?
Four major ones in this case. Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom) Tony Gilroy (Duplicity Michael Clayton) Billy Ray (Breach) and an uncredited Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon The Queen) are the superstar team of scribes who each took a crack at whittling down a six-hour miniseries into a two-hour flick.
Look for Bateman and the art directors responsible for the massive newspaper office to turn up on the shortlist for next year’s Academy Awards.
Set up very much like a documentary United 93 puts you right there onboard United Airlines Flight 93 the fourth hijacked plane on Sept. 11 2001 which crashed in a Pennsylvania field just short of its intended target. The first half of the film cuts between the mundane routine of boarding the ill-fated flight to the horrifying events unfolding at the World Trade Center played out in airport control towers as well as the FAA's command center in Herndon Va. and the military's center at the Northeast Air Defense Sector in upstate New York. Everyone is scrambling trying to figure out what’s happening while an air of absolute powerlessness hovers over them. Then for the last unbelievably heart-wrenching 30 minutes or so we are back on the plane. We watch as the hijackers wait and wait to make a move and then once they do watch as the passengers realize the gravity of the situation after talking with their loved ones on the ground. The heroism the defiance is palpable. "They were the first people to inhabit the post-9/11 world " Greengrass says in the press notes. And to keep things as accurate as possible Greengrass reportedly interviewed more than 100 family members and friends of those who perished in order to get not only their blessings but an inkling of what might have transpired on the plane. He also gathered facts from the 9/11 Commission Report. He hired flight attendants and commercial airline pilots to play those roles; hired several civilian and military controllers on duty on Sept. 11 including the FAA's Ben Sliney who plays himself; and finally rehearsed and shot his actors in an old Boeing 757 at England's Pinewood Studios. You’ll recognize some faces character actors who’ve been in countless films and TV shows. But the key is to keep United 93 rooted in reality--and to do that you can’t have an A-list star mussing it up. Greengrass is not afraid of making hard-hitting films such as 2002's Bloody Sunday a dramatization of the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops on January 30 1972. With United 93 he has once again documented one of modern history’s most defining moments. Of course the controversy surrounding United 93--whether or not it should have even been made--is all understandable and justifiable. Sept. 11 is still indeed a raw nerve. How can it not be? We are living in a completely changed world because of it and no amount of time can ever really alter that. But you can't fault Greengrass for feeling compelled to tell this story and can only appreciate him for doing his homework thoroughly and giving it to us straight from the heart. Sort of a collective heart I should say since it really speaks to humanity and the ways we are capable of such great courage in the face of such insurmountable odds. Obviously we will never know exactly what happened on the flight but at least we know something monumental took place. Now let’s see how Oliver Stone and Nicolas Cage handle 9/11 in the upcoming World Trade Center.
Joined L.A.-based production company Sidney Kimmel Entertainment; served as president of Kimmel Distribution and president of creative affairs over the next three years
Named a member of the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival
Co-founded October Films; distributed films such as Mike Leigh's "Secrets & Lies," Lars von Trier's "Breaking the Waves," John Dahl's "The Last Seduction," Robert Duvall's "The Apostle," and David Lynch's "Lost Highway"
Made feature acting debut as a bartender in Wes Craven directed "Shocker"
Appeared in the documentary feature "This Film Is Not Yet Rated"
Sold October Films to USA Networks
Resigned from United Artists
Named president of United Artists, the specialty films division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Named executive director of the San Francisco Film Society
Ray died on Jan. 23, 2012 in a hospital in Provo, Utah after suffering a stroke the week prior while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Park City.