Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Each year, the night before the Academy Awards, the world of independent cinema gathers in New York City to honor the best of the best from outside the studio system. Ranging from no-budget, down and dirty indies to Sundance breakouts to talent-filled productions that wooed the studios enough to find major distribution, the Independent Spirit Awards bestow their honors to an entirely separate list of nominees.
Saturday night, show host Andy Samberg and a slew of famous faces handed out the awards. Here's a full rundown of the nominees and winners (marked in bold as they're announced!):
Best FeatureBeasts of the Southern WildBernieKeep the Lights OnMoonrise KingdomSilver Linings Playbook
Best DirectorBenh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern WildIra Sachs, Keep the Lights OnJulia Loktev, The Loneliest PlanetWes Anderson, Moonrise KingdomDavid O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Best ActorJack Black, BernieBradley Cooper, Silver Linings PlaybookJohn Hawkes, The SessionsThure Lindhardt, Keep the Lights OnMatthew McConaughey, Killer JoeWendell Pierce, Four
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Best ActressLinda Cardellini, ReturnEmayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of NowhereJennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings PlaybookQuvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern WildMary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed
Best Supporting ActorMatthew McConaughey, Magic MikeDavid Oyelowo, Middle of NowhereMichael Peña, End of Watch Sam Rockwell, Seven PsychopathsBruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom
Best Supporting ActressRosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's SisterAnn Dowd, ComplianceHelen Hunt, The SessionsBrit Marling, Sound of My VoiceLorraine Toussaint, Middle of Nowhere
Best ScreenplayIra Sachs, Keep the Lights OnWes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise KingdomZoe Kazan, Ruby SparksMartin McDonagh, Seven PsychopathsDavid O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Best First FeatureFill the VoidGimme the LootThe Perks of Being a WallflowerSafety Not GuaranteedSound of My Voice
Best First ScreenplayRashida Jones and Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse ForeverRama Burshtein, Fill the VoidJonathan Lisecki, GaybyChristopher Ford, Robot and FrankDerek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed
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Best DocumentaryThe Central Park FiveHow to Survive a PlagueThe Invisible WarMarina Abramovic: The Artist is PresentThe Waiting Room
Best Foreign FilmAmourOnce Upon a Time in AnatoliaRust and BoneSisterWar Witch
Best CinematographyBen Richardson, Beasts of the Southern WildRoman Vasyanov, End of WatchLol Crawley, HereRobert Yeoman, Moonrise KingdomYoni Brook, Valley of Saints
John Cassavetes AwardBreakfast With CurtisThe Color WheelMiddle of NowhereMosquita y MariStarlet
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It's award season time, and it isn't an awards season without those little indies that could getting in on the action. Today marked the announcement of the 2013 Independent Spirit Award nominees, and many of the buzzy films from the past year made it into the race.
Topping off the nominations with five apiece are Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom, both of whom garnered nods for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, among others for the actors. One actor making multiple cut-ins is Matthew McConaughey, whose work in Magic Mike and Killer Joe nabbed him nominations for Best Supporting Male and Best Male Lead, respectively.
It's not all smooth-sailing, though: the announcement of Silver Linings Playbook in the pool caused a bit of controversy, as the film's budget was reportedly over the $20 million cut-off point set by the governing body of the awards, but it seems as though the Weinsteins handled that little issue to keep it as a contender. This year's Spirit Awards are scheduled to air at 10PM on Saturday, February 23, 2013 on IFC—only one day before the Academy Awards. The full list of nominees is below.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep the Lights On
Silver Linings Playbook
Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
Julia Loktev (The Loneliest Planet)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
Perks of Being a Wallflower
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Breakfast With Curtis (Laura Colella)
Middle of Nowhere (Ava DuVernay)
Mosquita y Mari (Aurora Guerrero)
Starlet (Sean Baker)
The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks)
Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias (Keep the Lights On)
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Rama Burshtein (Fill the Void)
Derek Connolly (Saftey Not Guaranteed)
Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage)
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack (Celeste and Jesse Forever)
Jonathan Lisecki (Gayby)
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Linda Cardellini (Return)
Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed)
BEST MALE LEAD
Jack Black (Bernie)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Thure Lindhardt (Keep the Lights On)
Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe)
Wendell Pierce (Four)
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice)
Lorraine Toussaint (Middle of Nowhere)
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike)
David Oyelowo (Middle of Nowhere)
Michael Pena (End of Watch)
Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths)
Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
End of Watch
Valley of Saints
The Central Park Five
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
The Waiting Room
BEST FOREIGN FILM
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Rust and Bone
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Alicia Van Couvering (Nobody Walks)
Mynette Louie (Stones in the Sun)
Derrick Tseng (Prince Avalanche)
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
David Fenster (Pincus)
Adam Leon (Gimme the Loot)
Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children)
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel)
Only the Young (Jasonyyee Tippet and Elizabeth Mimms)
The Waiting Room (Peter Nicks)
What do you think of the nominees? Surprised by any? Disappointed by this missing? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/WireImage]
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Both films will compete with Beasts of the Southern Wild, Bernie and Keep the Lights On for Best Feature, while filmmakers David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) have each earned nods for Best Director, alongside Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On) and Julia Loktev (The Loneliest Planet).
The two movies will also battle for the Best Screenplay honour - Anderson and Roman Coppola will face off with Russell, Sachs, Zoe Kazan for Ruby Sparks, and Martin McDonagh for Seven Psychopaths.
Silver Linings Playbook has also landed acting accolades for its lead stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Also nominated in the Best Male Lead category is Jack Black (Bernie), Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe), Thure Lindhardt (Keep the Lights On) and John Hawkes (The Sessions), while Lawrence is joined in the female equivalent by Linda Cardellini (Return), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed) and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild).
In addition, Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice), Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths) and Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom) have all scored nods in the Best Supporting categories.
Meanwhile, filmmaker Sean Baker's Stella will receive the annual Robert Altman Award, which recognises the director, casting director and ensemble cast.
Keep the Lights On, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Middle of Nowhere each received a total of four nominations when the shortlist was announced on Tuesday (27Nov12).
To be eligible for an Independent Spirit nod, all films must have been made for less than $20 million (£12.5 million). Movies must have either screened at a major film festival including Sundance, Toronto or the Los Angeles Film Festival or run for at least a week at a commercial theatre.
The winners will be unveiled at a ceremony in California on 23 February (13) - on the eve of the 2013 Academy Awards.
Each new year produces a handful of it-girls and men of the moment, and we here at Hollywood.com like to get ahead of the game by letting you, our loyal readers, know who’s going to be a big deal. 2012 sees a gaggle of films big and small hit theaters, and with them an army of actors working hard to make the most of their packed schedules. Some are big-screen veterans, others are relatively new to showbiz, but all of them are must-know names.
*This list was compiled based on the amount of films/projects each actor is a part of that will release in 2012, factoring in the size of the film(s) and their overall celebrity status.
Cooper had a hell of a 2011, with The Hangover Part II and Limitless proving him a major box office draw and those dreamy eyes helping him join the ranks of People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. So what does the New Year have in store for him? No less than four films: David O. Russell’s new comedy The Silver Linings Playbook, in which he works with an eclectic ensemble including Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles and more, the action-comedy Outrun, the dramatic thriller The Words (which co-stars Olivia Wilde and his new girlfriend Zoe Saldana) and The Place Beyond the Pines, the new film from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance. All the while he’ll be shooting Paradise Lost, an epic FX-driven actioner from I, Robot director Alex Proyas.
This Aussie became the superhero-du-jour thanks to his breakout role as the God of Thunder in Marvel’s Thor earlier in 2011, and he’s capitalizing on his newfound fame in a big way. He’ll reprise the part in May’s The Avengers, and has one-of-two titular roles in one-of-two anticipated Snow White adaptations (Snow White and the Huntsman) in June. Additionally, a pair of pictures he shot long ago will finally hit theaters – first the horror-thriller Cabin in the Woods, followed by the remake of cult favorite Red Dawn. Add in Ron Howard’s Rush, which he’ll begin shooting this January for an early 2013/late 2012 awards run and you’re looking at one of the most exciting careers to follow!
Tatum made our list last year thanks to a packed schedule including The Dilemma, The Eagle, The Son of No One and more, and 2012 is just as busy for the young A-lister. In January, Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire will finally hit multiplexes (in which he has a bit part) and we could see his ensemble drama Ten Year go wide at some point, but even if it doesn’t he’s got plenty of major motion pictures to promote. First will be the romantic drama The Vow opposite Rachel McAdams, followed soon after by Sony’s 21 Jump Street reboot. On June 29th, he’ll release a pair of very different movies – Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation and his second collaboration with Soderbergh, the male strip flick Magic Mike. But the best is yet to come, as he’ll star in Moneyball director Bennett Miller’s new drama Foxcatcher opposite Steve Carell, due in 2013.
As stated in the introduction, this list is about both seasoned cinematic figures and rising stars, and was there anyone who had a more impressive year than newcomer Ms. Chastain? I think not. With films as wide ranging as Texas Killing Fields, The Debt, The Help and The Tree of Life (among others) she solidified herself as a dramatic force to be reckoned with in 2011, and the future is bright for the 30-year-old starlet. She’ll reunite with director Terrence Malick for his new, untitled romantic drama and also has a role in John Hillcoat’s anticipated prohibition thriller Wettest County opposite Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. Additionally, she’ll star in a horror flick called Mama and a star-studded drama titled Tar with James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and more.
Here’s an example of a longtime film hero hitting it hard in 2012. While this isn’t the first fiscal year in which Willis has released multiple movies, it’s without question the busiest frame in his career. He’s slated to appear or star in no less than seven films, including big-budget blockbusters like G.I. Joe Retaliation and The Expendables 2, smaller action-thrillers Looper and The Cold Light of Day and more artful projects like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Stephen Frears' Lay the Favorite. He’ll also turn up in the 50 Cent-produced thriller Fire with Fire and will shoot the highly-anticipated A Good Day to Die Hard and videogame adaptation Kane & Lynch throughout 2012. Not bad for an elder statesmen.
Though he’s best known as a modern TV icon thanks to his Emmy-winning role in AMC’s Breaking Bad, Cranston has been incredibly prolific on the big-screen in recent years. He appeared in six films in 2011, including Drive, The Lincoln Lawyer, Contagion and Larry Crowne, and has five major productions on the horizon in 2012. In January he’ll play an authoritative figure in Lucasfilm’s long-gestating wartime action flick Red Tails, followed by a turn in Disney’s mega-budgeted John Carter. He’s also got a part in Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages adaptation and a villainous role in Sony’s Total Recall remake, and is currently filming Ben Affleck’s CIA drama Argo, set to hit theaters in September.
The former High School Musical star has been trying to establish himself as more than just a pretty face for some time, and 2012 could be a pivotal year in his career. He dabbles in commercial and independent fare next year, with starring roles in Universal’s Dr. Seuss adaptation The Lorax and Warner Bros.’ Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Lucky One as well as parts in Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts. He’s also going to appear in an untitled ensemble drama alongside Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham and Clancy Brown.
We've had to wait until 2012 to finally see Baldwin's return to TV, and, lucky us - we'll also be treated to about five film roles from the beloved entertainer. He’s got parts in all kinds of movies, from indie comedy AmeriQua to indie drama Lucky Them, and even big studio flicks like Rock of Ages and DreamWorks Animation’s CGI spectacle Rise of the Guardians. But his most interesting project in unquestionably Nero Fiddled, Woody Allen’s new Rome-set romp, which will likely premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Biel is best known as a maker of mainstream movies (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The A-Team, Valentine’s Day), but 2012 will see her release a diverse slate of films. She’s got one of two female lead roles in summer actioner Total Recall, and will play a pivotal part in Gabriele Muccino’s new dramedy Playing the Field. In addition, she’s got a horror thriller titled The Tall Man in the can, and is preparing to film a pair of pictures that could screen next year – The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes. With any luck, we could also see the long-delayed David O. Russell political rom-com Nailed (in which she plays the female lead) release, but I’m sadly not holding my breath. And if she ends up wedding Justin Timberlake (as engagement rumors started swirling around the web earlier this month), it’s going to be a landmark year for the former 7th Heaven star.
This young talent has been on the rise for awhile, and with a resume that includes work with Robert Zemeckis, Jon Favreau, Paul Weitz and Lisa Cholodenko it’s a wonder he hasn’t been propelled to the spotlight sooner. In 2012 he has five films to release, and by the time the year is over he’ll likely be a household name. First he reprises his role from 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, then appears in an anthology film that sports a directing roster including Benicio del Toro and Gaspar Noe. March sees him starring in one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year – The Hunger Games – while he’ll then appear in the art-house drama Carmel opposite Alfred Molina and Hayden Panettiere. Finally, he’ll star in MGM’s Red Dawn remake in November, and by that point he’ll probably have already cornered several major films for his future.
When is Franco NOT one of the busiest entertainers in showbiz? The Oscar-nominated actor and noted workaholic has been laboring at ludicrous speeds as of late, and his 2012 schedule is packed with somewhere between five and seven films that you'll probably never see including drama Maladies (with Catherine Keener and David Strathairn), thriller The Stare (opposite Winona Ryder), the fore mentioned ensemble drama Tar, the Linda Lovelace biopic Lovelace and another porn-centric drama called Cherry. All the while he’ll be shooting a documentary and filming projects for release in 2013. The man is a machine.
Finally, here’s yet another example of career resurgence. Goodman’s been working incredibly hard over the past few years and has been a part of some of the most acclaimed pictures of 2011 – Kevin Smith’s Red State and awards’ hopefuls The Artist and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Next year, however, is a whole other animal, as he appears in five movies including indie dramedy Thicker, dark comedy Spring Break ’83, Focus Features animated fantasy ParaNorman, and a pair of important dramas from Ben Affleck (Argo) and Robert Zemeckis (Flight). In between pushing those pics, he'll be shooting the Coen Bros. new flick Inside Llewyn Davis and Pixar's anticipated prequel Monsters University. Walter Sobchak is back in the building people.