Acclaimed designers including Colleen Atwood (Snow White and the Huntsman), Jany Temime (Skyfall) and Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina) are among those nominated for the film awards at the upcoming gala.
Temime will battle Stephani Lewis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Louise Stjernsward (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Mark Bridges (Silver Linings Playbook) and George L. Little (Zero Dark Thirty) in the Excellence in Contemporary Film category, while Durran is up against Jacqueline West (Argo), Paco Delgado (Les Miserables), Joanna Johnston (Lincoln) and Kasia Walicka-Maimone (Moonrise Kingdom) for the Excellence in Period Film trophy.
Atwood's designs for Snow White and the Huntsman landed her an Excellence in Fantasy Film nod, alongside Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud for Cloud Atlas, Ann Maskery, Richard Taylor and Bob Buck for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Judianna Makovsky (The Hunger Games) and Eiko Ishioka (Mirror Mirror).
The awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on 19 February (13).
The age-old debate over fate vs. free will has been and always will be a tough theme to crack in any medium but with the benefits of modern filmmaking technology the theory can be explored in ways that Philip K. Dick never imagined. However when one relies too heavily on spectacle to tell a story a piece of cerebral science fiction can quickly become just another action extravaganza. In this day and age there’s a fine line between the two; The Matrix walked that tightrope with style and grace while Next never found its footing in the first place. Fortunately the precious work of novelist Dick has for the most part been treated with respect by Hollywood (the aforementioned Nic Cage dud notwithstanding) but that doesn’t necessarily mean movies based on his stories are completely faithful to his vision.
Case in point: George Nolfi’s directorial debut The Adjustment Bureau an adaptation of Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” The film stars Matt Damon as David Norris a successful businessman and rising political candidate who after a chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Emily Blunt) loses a crucial election. He happens to run into her on a Manhattan bus the following week before finding his office swarming with masked men who are “adjusting” everyone inside. Richardson (John Slattery) the man in charge captures Norris who unsuccessfully flees the scene after seeing behind “a curtain he wasn’t even supposed to know existed” as the enigmatic figure puts it. From that point on Norris must live with the knowledge that he (and we for that matter) is not in control of his own life. Rather the choices he makes fit perfectly into “The Plan” that’s been written by “the Chairman”.
In relation to my earlier statement I have to say that Nolfi’s picture looks stunning but his natural urban aesthetic doesn’t overpower the story. Sleek contemporary production design and elegant costumes characterize the high-concept story and the wraithlike agents who shape our destinies. Topically we’re dealing with some heavy material but Nolfi and editor Jay Rabinowitz move the action along at a brisk pace that keeps you engaged and entertained without having to try. The film is properly proportioned as a chase thriller romantic adventure and sci-fi fantasy and thankfully no component overshadows another.
Setting the film in the world of politics and big business helps make its larger-than-life revelations a bit more accessible (as do appearances from Michael Bloomberg Jon Stewart and Chuck Scarborough) while providing sub-text about the corruption involved in elections and campaigns (there are conspicuous shades of The Manchurian Candidate in the movie) but the writer-director often tries too hard for broad appeal. For a film with existential implications as severe as they are here the dialogue is at times hokey and superficial. Dick’s source material is far more abstract and Nolfi for the sake of commercial success panders to the palette of soccer moms and mallrats.
What’s worse is his unwarranted exposition of the Bureau a shadowy organization whose major allure is anonymity. Some secrets are best kept and less can be so much more when crafting a mysterious atmosphere; Nolfi reaches that level of magnetic curiosity but squanders it as he reveals the truth about the Bureau and its grand scheme. On the other hand he brushes over the technical lingo between agents Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar) and others without explanation perhaps hoping that the ambiguous terminology will fool you into thinking that his script is smarter than it really is.
Even though Nolfi’s allegorical conclusions are uncomfortably ham-fisted the chemistry between Damon and Blunt alone is enough to enchant you; this is one highly watchable cinematic pairing that should be revisited as soon as possible. Their innocent relationship blossoms organically and together they make it seem as natural on screen as it is for their star-crossed characters. Even if you have a hard time believing in higher powers or manipulative Orwellian forces you’ll have faith in David and Elise’s fated relationship one of the most captivating couplings I’ve seen on the big-screen in some time.
Worried you were dozing in Sunday School? Never knew God was a grandpa?
Don’t worry this isn’t sequel to the biblical TV miniseries. Set in the
early ’70s "Jesus’ Son" is the raw account of a young man (Billy
Crudup) shooting up throwing up and staggering through his wasted
youth. Through his journey he encounters a bizarre assortment of
misfits that make this film look like an indie "The Wizard of Oz" for
the messed up. Our hero collides with a beautiful and fragile heroine
addict (Samantha Morton) who becomes the cause of his downfall and
possibly his salvation.
Crudup could have capitalized on his teen-idol good looks to grab some
glossy Hollywood roles (and bucks). Instead he seems intent on using
his impressive acting skills to explore diverse and disturbing sides of
the human experience. As "Jesus’ Son " the actor gives an
inspirationally playful portrayal of the junkie’s arc from recklessness
to recovery as if he lived it. Morton (an Oscar nominee for "Sweet and
Lowdown") makes screwed-up nearly endearing as the woman who like Eve
turns her mate on to the forbidden fruit. The film is also blessed with
extended cameos from Denis Leary Jack Black Dennis Hopper Holly
Hunter and Greg Germann.
Far from glamorous or mainstream Allison MacLean has crafted a daring
grungy portrait of lost youth from Denis Johnson’s book. Brutal yet
compassionate MacLean rewards the adventurous with this disquieting
look at the wounded (literally and emotionally) that eventually leads to
a small but oddly uplifting triumph.