1. “Oscar 2015 Winners.” Academy Awards: Birdman Wins Best Picture Oscar.
“For the third time in four years, Hollywood’s top honor went to a story mostly about itself: Birdman won best picture at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday night. Despite relatively meager domestic ticket sales of $37.8 million, Birdman had been the favorite to win best picture, having swept the top prize at banquet after banquet leading up to the Oscars. Minutes before, Alejandro G. Iñárritu had won best director for Birdman. which also collected Oscars for best original screenplay and the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki. ’Tonight I am wearing the real Michael Keaton tighty whities,’ Mr. Iñárritu said, a joke about the long Broadway walk Mr. Keaton, the star, takes in his skivvies during the film.”
2. “Is Wild Tales what Argentine cinema should aspire to?” Guido Pellegrini on the Damián Szifron film.
“This is no subtle analysis of reasons and origins, only a spectacular, sensational snapshot, or rather an hilarious, infinitely-watchable, and ultimately adolescent cry. The film’s rebellious spirit is immediately likeable, but its obvious calculation and polish soften its rough edges and boost its market value. It’s no surprise that it has become the most commercially successful Argentine movie since records have been kept. This kind of expensive, start-studded, ambitious fare hardly exists in Argentina, and its novelty combined with its shrewd topicality created a perfect storm at the box-office.”
3. “Interview: Kristen Stewart.” Patti Smith interviews the actress.
“It’s so ridiculous for me to hear you say that. You know, I’ve done a lot at my age, and thinking about how you hadn’t started getting serious-serious, hadn’t recorded an album at 24…I read Just Kids and I still have not harnessed something that you wrestled down with serious vengeance. It was just so natural to you, the willingness to allow yourself to explore and create and be free, and not know where you were going. You asked if any of that bullshit affects my work, and it doesn’t, but there are other things that affect my quote-unquote ’work.’ Just Kids made me want—you know, it’s super-romantic and cheesy—but I genuinely started making paintings because of you. I started to believe in other aspects of myself because of that book, because I was like, ’Fuck, I should have done this at 17. I should have gotten that feeling.’”
4. “Destroyed by the Espionage Act.” Stephen Kim spoke to a reporter. Now he’s in jail. This is his story.
“After he was sentenced in April, Kim had to wait three months for the Bureau of Prisons to tell him where to report. It was an odd purgatory — a government that had threatened to put him in prison for decades didn’t seem to care about him serving time once it had reaped the publicity of a guilty plea on an Espionage Act charge. And Kim, after years of fighting to stay out of jail, wanted to go to prison as soon as possible, so that he could get on with his life.”
5. “The Husband Did It.” When a man kills his ex-girlfriend because she leaves him, he is saying: shame and sadness are things I should not have to feel.
“When a cop kills an unarmed man, it is because he senses his power being threatened by fear that he should never have to feel. When a man kills his ex-girlfriend because she leaves him, he is saying the same thing: shame and sadness are things I should not have to feel. What is ultimately frustrating about Serial is that it conflates a mistrust in unfair legal narratives with a mistrust in patterns that are all too real, namely ’the most time-worn explanation for [a woman’s] disappearance: the boyfriends, current and former.’ A skepticism that the husband did it shows a weird, classically American disdain for both authority and the powerless. But if the last year proved anything, it was that there are endless opportunities to misapply victimhood.”
Video of the Day: John Legend and Common performing “Glory” at last night’s Academy Awards:
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Original Screenplay
This season, Hollywood is invested in celebrating the films they love while dodging the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.
You know, if it weren’t for the show’s producers effectively and repeatedly saying everything about the Academy Awards is terrible and needs to be changed, and the year’s top-tier contenders inadvertently confirming their claims, this would’ve been a comparatively fun and suspenseful Oscar season. None of us who follow the Academy Awards expect great films to win; we just hope the marathon of precursors don’t turn into a Groundhog Day-style rinse and repeat for the same film, ad nauseam.
On that score, mission accomplished. The guilds have been handing their awards out this season as though they met beforehand and assigned each voting body a different title from Oscar’s best picture list so as not to tip the Oscar race too clearly toward any one film. SAG? Black Panther. PGA? Green Book. DGA? Roma. ASC? Cold War. ACE? Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Even awards-season kryptonite A Star Is Born got an award for contemporary makeup from the MUAHS. (That’s the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, not the sound Lady Gaga fans have been making ever since A Star Is Born’s teaser trailer dropped last year.)
Not to be outdone, the Writers Guild of America announced their winners last weekend, and not only did presumed adapted screenplay frontrunner BlacKkKlansman wind up stymied by Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but the original screenplay prize went to Eighth Grade, which wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar. Bo Burnham twisted the knife into AMPAS during his acceptance speech: “To the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, losers!” In both his sarcasm and his surprise, it’s safe to say he speaks on behalf of us all.
As is always the case, WGA’s narrow eligibility rules kept a presumed favorite, The Favourite, out of this crucial trial heat. But as the balloting period comes to a close, the question remains just how much enthusiasm or affection voters have for either of the two films with the most nominations (Roma being the other). As a recent “can’t we all just get along” appeal by Time’s Stephanie Zacharek illustrates, the thing Hollywood is most invested in this season involves bending over backward, Matrix-style, to celebrate the films they love and still dodge the cultural bullets coming at them from every angle.
Maybe it’s just tunnel vision from the cultural vacuum Oscar voters all-too-understandably would prefer to live in this year, but doesn’t it seem like The Favourite’s tastefully ribald peppering of posh-accented C-words would be no match for the steady litany of neo-Archie Bunkerisms spewing from Viggo Mortensen’s crooked mouth? Especially with First Reformed’s Paul Schrader siphoning votes from among the academy’s presumably more vanguard new recruits? We’ll fold our words in half and eat them whole if we’re wrong, but Oscar’s old guard, unlike John Wayne, is still alive and, well, pissed.
Will Win: Green Book
Could Win: The Favourite
Should Win: First Reformed
Watch: Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, Starring Honor Swinton Byrne and Tilda Swinton, Gets First Trailer
Joanna Hogg has been flying under the radar for some time, but that’s poised to change in a big way.
British film director and screenwriter Joanna Hogg, whose impeccably crafted 2013 film Exhibition we praised on these pages for its “disarming mixture of the remarkable and the banal,” has been flying under the radar for the better part of her career. But that’s poised to change in a big way with the release of her latest film, The Souvenir, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Prior to the film’s world premiere at the festival, A24 and Curzon Artificial Eye acquired its U.S. and U.K. distribution rights, respectively. Below is the official description of the film:
A shy but ambitious film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.
And below is the film’s first trailer:
A24 will release The Souvenir on May 17.
Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Mixing
For appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore, one film has the upper hand here.
Given what Eric wrote about the sound editing category yesterday, it now behooves me to not beat around the bush here. Also, it’s my birthday, and there are better things for me to do today than count all the ways that Eric and I talk ourselves out of correct guesses in the two sound categories, as well as step on each other’s toes throughout the entirety of our Oscar-prediction cycle. In short, it’s very noisy. Which is how Oscar likes it when it comes to sound, though maybe not as much the case with sound mixing, where the spoils quite often go to best picture nominees that also happen to be musicals (Les Misérables) or musical-adjacent (Whiplash). Only two films fit that bill this year, and since 2019 is already making a concerted effort to top 2018 as the worst year ever, there’s no reason to believe that the scarcely fat-bottomed mixing of Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody will take this in a walk, for appealing to voters’ nostalgia for drunken karaoke nights of yore.
Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody
Could Win: A Star Is Born
Should Win: First Man