Many big wigs in Tinsel Town subscribe to the art of associative thinking— referring to a developing project as a cross between two or more pre-existing films or TV shows: “It’s Die Hard meets Mr. Holland’s Opus!” or “The Sixth Sense by way of Tootsie!” And if you’re anything like me you find descriptions like that frustrating and soulless. Rarely will I use a piece of entertainment from the past to define something fresh and original, but occasionally I find myself relating actors or artists to their famous predecessors. I know I’m not the first person to call George Clooney “the 21st Century Cary Grant” or Lady Gaga “the new Madonna”, but I may in fact be the only person to equate acclaimed director David Fincher with legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. You’re probably sitting in your chair at home crying “blasphemy!,” livid that someone has the gall to compare a modern moviemaker (even one as respected as Fincher) to a true maestro of the moving image. I could rattle off about their mutual affection for violent and misunderstood characters, the work they’ve done to aid up-and-coming filmmakers or their recent/upcoming forays into small screen entertainment, but I’ll cut to the chase as this equation is based purely on the lack of awards-season love that the two have received throughout their careers. It’s no secret that Scorsese’s Best Director Oscar win for The Departed in 2007 was a long time coming. After six previous nominations and countless classic films produced beforehand, it felt more like a lifetime achievement award than an honor for his work on the star-studded gangster pic. Though he’d won accolades from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, BAFTA, Cannes Film Festival and Independent Spirit Awards (among others) in the years leading up to it, the Academy Awards eluded him for nearly 30 years. But why? Competition is certainly one explanation: the New York-bred virtuoso lost directing kudos to the likes of Robert Redford in 1981 (Ordinary People), Barry Levinson in 1989 (Rain Man), Roman Polanski in 2003 (The Pianist) and Clint Eastwood in 2005 (Million Dollar Baby)— all phenomenal filmmakers, all excellent films. However, that isn’t the reason why Scorsese was denied a statue time and time again. The answer lies in the kind of stories that he chose to tell. Look back at the movies directed by the fore mentioned filmmakers that beat out Scorsese’s own: all are heart-tugging tearjerkers with an emphasis on relationships between one or more characters, and some come with a fair share of schmaltz that Academy voters seem to get high on. You’ll be hard-pressed to find that quality in Scorsese’s Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Last Temptation of Christ, even though they’re all armed with a crushing emotional punch. That brings me back to Fincher. The music-video-director-turned-feature-filmmaker makes movies that are similar in content, tone, style and subtext to that of Scorsese’s. From the dark and sinister Se7en to the psychologically explorative and brutally physical Fight Club to the beautifully morbid Benjamin Button, Fincher’s narratives have generally appealed to a minority of moviegoers, but the quality of his authorship always demanded the attention of audiences and critics around the globe. His movies are at times hard to watch, but once they catch your gaze you cannot take your eyes off of them. Still, even his most celebrated works, Button and The Social Network, failed to net him an Oscar win, and I attribute that to the material as opposed to his direction. I thought (and know that I’m not alone in this sentiment) that his delicate, yet precise handling of the expansive fantasy at the heart of Benjamin Button was unmatched in 2008, but Academy voters placed their ballots in favor of Danny Boyle’s uplifting Slumdog Millionaire instead. Just last year, voters rewarded the rousing but stuffy British drama The King’s Speech over the morally ambiguous The Social Network. I am a fan of all four films, but Fincher’s was the true achievement in directing in both cases. And that, my friends, is where this story comes full circle. David Fincher IS the new Martin Scorsese, in that he’ll continue to make controversial masterpieces worthy of awards-season glory that voters simply won’t endorse. He doesn’t make movies that are an easy sell to the casual theater patron, let alone the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’ll probably be years before his tremendous talents and provocative films are blessed by the aging Academy, but in the meantime we, the fans, will reap the benefits of his flair. And after all, Scorsese’s late win proves that good things come to those who wait.
It's a big day for indie film appreciation. First, last night's 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards recipients were revealed (you can read the list of winners and nominees here). And now, we can cast our judgments and make our predictions about the announcements for the 27th Annual Independent Spirit Awards nominations.
2011 was no slouch when it comes to the release of some quality independent cinema, and the Spirit Awards are paying tribute to that with its diverse list of nominees. On the list, we have comedy, drama, action, romance...and, for the first time in quite a while, a silent film. Check out the list of nominees below, and start your deliberations on the "Who Should Win" vs. "Who Will Win" battle—that's the bread-and-butter of awards season, after all.
27th ANNUAL INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS NOMINEES
BEST PICTURE50/50 The Artist Beginners The Descendants Drive Take Shelter BEST DIRECTOR Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) Mike Mills (Beginners) Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) Alexander Payne (The Descendants) Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) BEST FIRST FEATURE Mike Cahill, Another Earth Patrick Wang, In the Family J.C Chandor, Margin Call Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene Robert Pickering, Natural Selection BEST FEMALE LEAD Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me) Rachael Harris (Natural Selection) Adepero Oduye (Pariah) Elizabeth Olson (Martha Marcy May Marlene) Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) BEST MALE LEAD Demian Bichir (A Better Life) Jean Dujardin (The Artist) Ryan Gosling (Drive) Woody Harrelson (Rampart) Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter) Anjelica Huston (50/50) Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) Harmony Santana (Gun Hill Road) Shailene Woodley (The Departed) BEST SUPPORTING MALE Albert Brooks (Drive) John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene) Christopher Plummer (Beginners) John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids) Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris) BEST SCREENPLAY The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) Beginners (Mike Mills) The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash) Footnote (Joseph Cedar) Win Win (Tom McCarthy) BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY Mike Cahill & Brit Marling, Another Earth J.C. Chandor, Margin Call Patrick deWitt, Terri Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids Will Reiser, 50/50 BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Joel Hodge (Bellflower) Benjamin Kasulke (The Off Hours) Darius Khondji (Midnight in Paris) Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist) Jeffrey Waldron (The Dynamiter) BEST DOCUMENTARY An African Election Bill Cunningham New York The Interrupters The Redemption of General Butt Naked We Were Here Spirit Awards
George Clooney yesterday delivered a speech to the United Nations Security Council, urging them to act on the continuing violence in Sudan.
The Oscar winner warned members that genocide in the country's Darfur region was taking place on their "watch."
Speaking at a special informal session hosted by the UN's U.S. ambassador John Bolton, Clooney--who spent time in Darfur in April--also warned if UN troops don't enter the region by Oct. 1 "aid workers will have to leave and if they leave that leaves a couple of million people with absolutely nothing."
He said, "I'm here to represent the voices of the people who cannot speak for themselves. We know how difficult a task this is... but you are the UN and this is the task that you have been given.
"It is the first genocide of the 21st Century and if it continues unchecked, it will not be the last.
"How you deal with it is your legacy. It's your Rwanda, your Cambodia, your Auschwitz. We are one 'yes' away from ending it."
Sudan rejected the last resolution to move 20,000 UN troops into the region.
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