Fox Searchlight via Everett Collection/Lionsgate via Everett Collection
Every year, the Academy Awards has the gargantuan task of distilling an entire year of film into a small number of nominations slots for each category, and like every year, this one saw some very deserving films and performances left on the chopping block after the nominations were announced. But the the sheer number and quality of the fantastic films and performances that dotted cinemas last year makes the exclusions from this year's Oscar race sting worse than it has in recent memory. These potential nominees made very strong cases for being recognized by the Academy, but were unfortunately nudged out in favor of other films.
Best PictureInside Llewyn DavisNot nominating the Coen Brothers' beautiful tragicomedy about an artist struggling to keep hold of his artistic integrity is almost a crime, especially when there are only nine nominees listed for Best Picture out of a possible 10.
Best Director Park Chan-wook (Stoker) Director Park Chan-wook imbued his first English language project with a dark and gorgeous imagery that trumps many of the more conventional films nominated in the category, and should have been nominated.
Best Actor James Gandolfini (Enough Said) Gandolfini’s last film is an appropriate swan song that saw the actor breaking out of his Mafioso tough guy holding pattern and portray divorcee Albert with a loveable vulnerability.
Robert Redford (All is Lost) Redford’s battle with the elements had us dazzled, and the emotional heft that is is able to give the film despite the sparse dialogue and even sparser cast list is truly a feat.
Best ActressBrie Larson (Short Term 12) Brie Larson shines in this small story about the wounds we carry, and how difficult it is to truly let someone in to share the pain.
Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) Gerwig fills Frances Halladay with hope and splendor, as we watch the tale of a young Brooklynite grasping at her dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Dreams that might be just out of her reach.
Supporting ActorJames Franco (Spring Breakers)We wish we lived in a world where the "look at my s**t" scene from Spring Breakers would play during the Academy Awards telecast. Sadly, this is not that world.
Supporting ActressCarey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis)Watching a bristly Carey Mulligan rip into Oscar Issac’s Llewyn was one of the best film related joys in the year of 2013.
Best Original ScreenplayJoel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis)The Coens' whip smart yet deeply pessimistic script fills Inside Llewyn Davis with equal amounts of laughs and pathos.Best Adapted ScreenplayPeter Berg (Lone Survivor)Peter Berg's screenplay understands what it's like to be a soldier fighting for his life, in the middle of a warzone. The film never forgets to make the soldiers actual rounded characters whose interests extend far beyond the battlefield.
The 2013 Cannes Film Festival — the world's premiere fest for stars, world debuts, and Oscar buzz — is now in full swing and Hollywood.com is on the ground to catch a glimpse of the the movie world's vacation to the French Riviera. With famous faces like Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Watson, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling, and new films by maestros like The Coen Bros., Nicolas Windig Refn (Drive), Sofia Coppola, and Alexander Payne (The Descendents), Cannes is a packed house of A-Lister talent (see the full list of prestigious films here). Ready to dive in?
We'll be updating live from the Cannes for the next two weeks. Follow along as the reactions and reviews come flickering off the projection screen:
RYAN GOSLING HAS ONLY 17 LINES IN 'ONLY GOD FORGIVES' Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn keeps his star contemplative but dangerous, while Kristen Scott Thomas is an absolute riot.
CANNES FASHION: SEE THE LOOKS! Stars from Isla Fisher to Nicole Kidman and Leonardo DiCaprio show off the latest looks on the red carpet.
'BEHIND THE CANDELABRA' IS TAME DESPITE MATT DAMON Steven Soderbergh's last hurrah is HBO's Liberace biopic, a straightforward affair offering amazing performances by Damon and Douglas.
'SHIELD OF STRAW' IS MARK WALHBERG STYLE ACTION FLICK... ... without Mark Wahlberg. The Audition director debuts a new crime thriller at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, in the vein of every Wahlberg movie ever. The only thing missing is Wahlberg himself.
THE 'HELI' MOMENT THAT IS JUST WAITING TO GO VIRAL Amat Escalante's Mexican drama Heli is hyper-violent and stunningly beautiful. We predict one scene could blow up on the Internet.
REVIEW: ALEC BALDWIN'S 'SEDUCED AND ABANDONED' Baldwin teams with director James Toback to pull back the curtain on the Cannes Film Festival, Hollywood, and the hardships of movie making.
HEAR THE SONGS IN THE 'INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS' SOUNDTRACK The Coen Bros. recruit Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and Oscar Issac to cover classic '60s folk songs in their Cannes Film Festival debut — here are a few of them.
'THE PAST' ALREADY BOASTS BEST PERFORMANCES OF 2013Asghar Farhadi's Paris-set Le passe recruits Academy Award-nominated actress Berenice Bejo for a heartpounding family drama.
ROBIN WRIGHT IN 'THE CONGRESS' PREDICTS YOUR DEMISEWaltz with Bashir director Ari Folman delights with his latest film starring Robin Wright, The Congress.
WHY DO WE STILL CRUSH ON LEO DICAPRIO LIKE IT'S 1997? Leonardo DiCaprio wins hearts in this month's The Great Gatsby, but there's a part of us that still swoons they way we did when we saw Titanic.
WHAT CAN '50 SHADES' LEARN FROM 'YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL'? Swimming Pool director Francois Ozon returns to Cannes with Jeune et Jolie, an erotic coming of age story starring model-turned-actress Marine Vacth.
REAL JEWEL HEIST AS 'BLING RING' PREMIERED AT CANNESPolice say that thieves robbed $1 million worth of jewels out of a Chopard employee's hotel room. These jewels were meant to be worn by celebs.
EMMA WATSON IS HILARIOUS IN 'THE BLING RING' Lost in Translation director Sofia Coppola goes after gossip culture with a ripped-from-the-headlines story of teenagers stealing from Paris Hilton.
'GATSBY' OPENS CANNES: REVIEWBaz Luhrmann's latest is full of color and Jay-Z curated tracks, but it falls flat in comparison to DiCaprio's Gatsby and Carey Mulligan's jazz age ingenue.
EMMA WATSON GOES BAD IN FIRST 'BLING RING' TRAILER Sofia Coppola's newest film about the true events surrounding several celebrity robberies
BIG SUNDANCE WINNER HEADS TO CANNESFruitvale lives up to award hype thanks to Michael B. Jordan's stunning performance.
6 REASONS 'LLEWYN DAVIS' IS QUINTESSENTIAL COEN BROS.How does the Coen Bros. collaboration with Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and Oscar Isaac compare to their other beloved films?
RYAN GOSLING GETS HIS A** KICKED IN NEW TRAILERIf you enjoyed Drive but wished it had more eastern influence, look no further than Only God Forgives, the latest team-up between Gosling and Drive helmer Nicolas Winding Refn.
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S10E6: One thing is for sure, the L.A. auditions were definitely the opposite of the Austin ones. Instead of a slew of boring, yet decent singers, we saw the absolute worst of the worst. By the end of the episode, I found myself afraid to go outside because I’d surpassed my quota for crazy and looped back around so many times that my brain was starting to melt. I guess that’s what you get when American Idol starts accepting auditions from MySpace. Yep, this is the episode where they finally did something with those internet auditions they’ve been pushing since late summer. Too bad all it did was prove that the Rupert Murdoch-owned (hello, shameless self promotion of the Murdoch empire) dying social networking site can’t even get a jump start from an endorsement on the show that has millions of Americans watching intently every time it hits the tube. There’s a reason The Social Network wasn’t about Tom Anderson.
“Talk about delusional people.” –Randy
“Well, this is L.A.” –Steven
First up was the initial sign that the volume on my television should have been on mute and should have stayed there for most of the episode. Victoria Garret showed up onscreen touting that God brought American Idol auditions to L.A. specifically for her so she could win. Yes, because God has favorites, you’re one of them, and American Idol is clearly his first priority. Has this girl ever even seen a newspaper? There’s really shit going down out there; God is not worried about Idol. Trust me. With an intro like this, we knew she wouldn’t be good. Her voice was just painful, yet Steven is taking his spot as the new Paula very seriously and took a moment to tell her that her voice was “sweet.” Yeah, if by sweet you mean one of those ridiculous jalapeño lollipops with a dead cricket in the middle.
“It lacked balls.” –JLo
To give our poor ears a rest, the next contestant sang like a human – a rare occurrence during the L.A. auditions. Tim Halperin sang a beautiful version of “She Will be Loved” that lacked a bit of power (or balls) – did anyone else notice how close his name is to Jim Halpert, or am I just obsessed with John Krasinski? Don’t answer that. Anyway, Randy tells the cutie pie “nope,” leaving the deciding vote on JLo’s shoulders. It also happens that Tim’s been in love with Lopez since he was a young boy, and here we go again; Idol lets someone’s idol be the one to save their ass. Is it Hollywood week yet? This is becoming obnoxious.
Of course Tim had more balls than Justin Carter, whose name happens to be a hybrid of monumental late 90s pop music royalty. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you should get reacquainted with Google. Try it. "Late 90s boy bands." Go.
“It’s almost like you’re relatively tone deaf.” –Randy
Yeah, it’s almost like that. Idol continued its couple-happy trend, but this time with two best friends. One half of the duo, Issac Rodriguez, has been duping his poor mama (and himself) by dropping out of college to be the next American Idol. It actually broke my heart to see his sweet mother bragging about her son being in college. Both Rodriguez and his friend Daniel Gomez were some of the worst singers we've seen all season. What I want to know is how they’re best friends but Gomez let Rodriguez drop out of college with that awful voice. Usually tone-deafness only applies to hearing your own voice, but there’s something wrong when you can’t tell someone else is off key. Yikes. Someone needs to get some of those balls JLo was talking about and reiterate Randy’s instruction for neither of them to ever sing again. Ever. (Pardon the crappy recording below.)
“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting other artisses.” –Contestant
Now for the MySpace folks. There were two yeses from this bunch; Karen Rodriguez from New York who apparently sang to Lopez once on TRL and Heidi Khzam who wiggled her way to a golden ticket. THIS IS NOT AMERICAN RUMP SHAKER. Randy and Steven need to keep it in their pants and stop voting for these hot girls with zero talent.
Now for the moment we all anticipate from the second we learned Idol would be using MySpace for auditions. Tynisha Roches wasted 400 bucks to fly out to L.A. from New Jersey to stumble through the words to her own “Frank Sinatra Tribute.” Not only were her creepy fake eyebrows and intense bangs scary, she was just plain crazy. She wouldn’t stop singing and ended up chasing Randy around the room until he wrested her mic (which she brought from home) away from her and called security. This BS went on for far too long; we know this girl is just egging it on, let’s not reward her okay?
“I’m a freelance music producer.” – Contestant
“Who do you produce?” –Randy
“I produce for millions- uh, a bunch of artists.” – Contestant
And this is where the competition dove head first into plain old overdone exploitation of delusional people. Maybe there’s too much sunshine in L.A., because the crazies are out in full this episode. One of the craziest is MSFP, or Matthew Scott Frankel Produc...ing. This guy was not only delusional about how cool he was but also the fact that he was (not) a famous music producer and his ability to rap as his “Sasha Fierce” character: Big Stats. His rap name may as well have been T1-83 Calculator. Big Stats? What’s your signature rap? Compiling the number of people who are dumb enough to believe you’re really being serious about this? Needless to say, the dude couldn’t sing or rap and Randy’s truthful commentary left him bitter. “(Randy) You and I are beefin.’” Something tells me Randy’s okay with that.
After MSFP practically burned down the stage with his mad crazy rhymes, we got to suffer through a montage of more insane people attempting to communicate with dogs through song. One guy pulls his pants down; another girl pulls a muscle doing the splits. Of course, if you got all the way to the end like I did, you know it got so much worse.
“It was god-like, the way you guys sing.” –Steven
He’s definitely being a bit hyperbolic, but compared to everything else that came through Los Angeles (which, if you remember correctly is a city FULL of talent, supposedly) was so dismal that I’d have been praising the lord for these guys too. Brothers Mark and Aaron Gutierrez mark the only “couple” audition that hasn’t been so sickeningly sweet that I wished I’d swiped the barf bag from my last flight to California. They sang a duet of “Lean on Me” and everything about it was completely adorable, down to their cleverly matching outfits. Let’s just hope they’re just as adorable when they each sing solo or it’s sayonara for these dudes.
“My name is Cooper Robinson and I’m here to take your city from ya.” –Contestant
I didn’t think there could be a worse way to end one of these episodes than with another tear-jerker, but I was wrong. In the vein of the “hey look at these assholes” show that seemed to take over the entirety of the L.A. auditions, Idol ended on its most demoralizing note yet. In an attempt that I can only guess was a failed attempt at finding the 2011 version of “Pants on the Ground” guy, who was genuinely funny and knew he was on the show attempting to become a YouTube sensation, Idol brought Robinson into our homes to make fun of him and make the rest of us incredibly uncomfortable. He was clearly not in the best mental state, donning Mardi Gras clothes and attempting to channel James Brown while shouting complete nonsense. At one point, Ryan Seacrest ran from him. Not only did this go on too long, but it made me feel like an awful person for watching it.
I already question the idea that the show deludes people into second auditions only to show tear them down once they meet the judges, but this was just sad. Auditions are always the most monotonous part of this show, but they just solidified themselves as the most disrespectful and distasteful part of the Idol process. Hollywood week can’t come soon enough.
In yet another variation on the shopworn road picture in which two mismatched former buddies are forced to cross the country together Soul Men’s uneasy brand of overly broad humor and contrived situations is saved intermittently by some cool musical numbers. But alas it’s not enough. Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd (Bernie Mac) are part of a major musical group led by Marcus Hooks (John Legend) who goes solo leaving Floyd and Louis in the lurch. Fast forward 20 years Hooks has died and Louis and Floyd who did not end on good terms and have not spoken since have been coerced into appearing a tribute show for Hooks at New York’s famed Apollo Theatre. Afraid to fly they get in Floyd’s 1971 Cadillac El Dorado accompanied by a talented young woman (Sharon Leal) who may be Floyd’s daughter. Along the way they try to get their act up to speed by appearing in various redneck honky tonks filling the interminable 103-minute running time with a lot of unfunny sexual encounters and unbelievable situations. The late Bernie Mac was a terrific comic talent and is highly wasted in this mishmash in which he is constantly encouraged to mug for laughs. Mac is so much better than the lowbrow material he has to work with here that it’s a shame this film should stand as one of his last (at least there’s Madagascar 2). Faring even worse however is Samuel L. Jackson who is out of his element in a musical comedy and seems to be taking none of this hokum seriously. Thankfully the soulful musical numbers reminiscent of classic ‘60s Sam and Dave R&B are well chosen and capably performed even though neither Mac nor Jackson are known for their singing. Best number in fact is fronted by John Legend making his acting debut as Hooks. As the young eager beaver manager trying to get Floyd and Louis back together Sean Hayes is way too broad. Faring better is newcomer Adam Herschman as Hayes’ mop-topped intern who uses his fanboy infatuation with the pair to nice advantage. And there’s a nice now bittersweet bit near the end with the late Isaac Hayes. Malcolm Lee (Undercover Brother Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins) is a director who tends to go for the slapstick when a little subtlety and believability would be more in order. With a great Sunshine Boys premise and some nifty musical material to pepper the proceedings Lee still manages to drop the ball letting his talented actors down and encouraging them to chew up every scene. The corny silly situations certainly doesn’t help matters with the road trip device feeling more like padding than anything else. Soul Men doesn’t find the right rhythms.
Of course this is the first time this story has gotten the full cinematic treatment. The basics are there: A young Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes) immaculately conceives the son of God after being visited by an angel and she and her husband Joseph (Oscar Issac) make a long trek to Bethlehem on a donkey. She then gives birth to Jesus in a manger under the star of David surrounded by the animals the shepherds and of course the three wise men. But The Nativity Story goes much deeper than that. It paints a picture of the times where the Jews are continually persecuted by King Herod (Ciaran Hinds) a man ultra-paranoid about the foretold prophecy that a Messiah will take over his rule. It details how Mary has to face her family her new husband--and especially the suspicious villagers--who don’t believe her story on how she became pregnant. There’s also Mary’s cousin Elizabeth (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who gives birth to John the Baptist even though she is way past her prime. Even the three Magi get some face time. Through their calculations they see that three planets will align themselves for the first time in 3 000 years to form one shining star and under it the new Messiah will be born. The rest as they say is history. Everyone seems to hold up their end of the bargain nicely especially Castle-Hughes. In playing the Holy Mother--a daunting task to say the least--the young actress does so with a quiet grace her forlorn face changing to one of peaceful joy once her mission has been handed down. She proves it wasn’t just a fluke she got nominated for Best Actress for her unbelievably heartbreaking performance in Whale Rider. Newcomer Isaac also turns in a worthy performance as the slightly older Joseph a kind-hearted carpenter who after having his own vision stands by Mary the woman he clearly adores. Still through Isaac you can see some of the pain Joseph must have gone through knowing the baby wasn’t exactly his. And any comic relief in The Nativity Story has to come from the three wise men: Melachior (Nadim Sawalha) Balthasar (Eriq Ebouaney) and Gaspar (Stefan Kalipha). Their constant bickering and complaining while on their long journey makes for some lighthearted moments. The always elegant Oscar-nominee Aghdashloo however doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. I guess the story of John the Baptist will have to be a movie on its own. What’s really amazing about The Nativity Story is that it comes from director Catherine Hardwicke the same person who gave us the horrifying teen drama Thirteen and the laidback skateboarding flick Lords of Dogtown--talk about trying something different! Hardwicke is a capable director no question. Filming mostly in Southern Italy and Morocco she is meticulous about giving Nativity an authentic look and feel even bringing in archeologists to help recreate the time. The main problem is in Hardwicke’s attempts to create a cinematic experience around the birth of Jesus Christ. Although certainly a step above a short biblical film you might watch in Sunday school Nativity still has some of those sensibilities heavy-handed in places it doesn’t need to be. The film works much better when it's showing the reality of the situation. But ‘tis the season for such a film and Nativity should surely invoke the true meaning of Christmas for many.