1. ”The Imitation Game wins Toronto top prize.” The Alan Turing biopic has won the People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival.
“Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the drama about the British code breaker who helped decrypt the Enigma machine during World War Two. In a message, director Morten Tyldum said it was ’an amazing honour’ to win the prize. ’For film fans to support The Imitation Game means so much to me, the entire cast and film-making team,’ he said. Turing was credited with bringing about the end of the war and saving hundreds of thousands of lives after decoding German Naval messages. He is also considered to be the founding father of the modern-day computer. However his later life was overshadowed after a conviction in 1952 for gross indecency when homosexuality was illegal in Britain. He was chemically castrated and committed suicide in 1954. Earlier this week Tyldum described the film as ’a tribute to being different’.”
2. “He Said, She Said.” David Fincher’s Gone Girl puts a dynamic new spin on a venerable genre—the relationship film.
“I can’t wait to see what will go on between couples at dinner after they see the movie. There are so many interesting tectonic shifts. When the people I’ve shown the movie come out of it, they are either Team Amy or Team Nick. Team Amy doesn’t have a single quibble about her behavior, and Team Nick doesn’t have any problems with his. Then there are people who primarily measure it against the book and how they felt about the characters in the book. And the narrative of the movie is vastly denuded from the way it’s allowed to grow and bloom in the novel. It wasn’t a defoliation as much as a deforestation. Once you got it back to the branches and the trunk, it was pretty easy to see that this movie was going to be about who we are and who we present to those we are endeavoring to seduce. And the absurdity of that difference needed to be part of the two-and-a-half-hour fabric in a much bigger way than in the novel. For me, the 30 percent of the novel that’s about who we present—our narcissistic façades—becomes the entire foundation of the movie.”
3. “The ’death of adulthood’ is really just capitalism at work.” Here’s what A.O. Scott’s lamentation about adulthood in pop culture misses: our economic transformation.
“This fundamental confusion and ambivalence reflects a deep-seated blind spot, I would argue, one that’s endemic to the culture-vulture trade. Scott carefully anatomizes the trees but misses the forest, or to speak more precisely ignores the condition of the soil. There really is something beneath his ’death of adulthood’ premise, whether or not you like the prejudicial phrase. But to coin a phrase: It’s the economy, stupid. Scott’s essay appears to treat ’culture’ as a sealed and self-referential system, one that shapes and reflects human consciousness but has only an incidental relationship with economic, political and social factors that lie outside its purview. We have moved so far from the old Marxist view of culture as an ideological ’superstructure’ erected upon the economic base of society that we now pretend it’s an entirely autonomous force, or a mystical-cum-psychological shadow play that gives ’human shape to our collective anxieties and aspirations,’ in Scott’s phrase. There are clues in his article suggesting that he doesn’t entirely buy that, and we need to remember that he works at the Times, where critics are not encouraged to venture into contentious ideological terrain or to suggest that they may have political opinions.”
4. “The Death of Adulthood and the Rise of Pleasure, or Why Seth Rogen Is More Serious Than Woody Allen.” Vulture’s Adam Sternbergh also chimes in.
“Cultural essays about the death of adulthood are often Trojan horses for a different complaint: the death of seriousness. These essays read as modern analogues to the mid-20th-century jeremiads about middlebrow, which were, similarly, taking people to task for not being sophisticated (i.e., adult) enough in their cultural tastes. In this light, Scott’s essay makes an interesting companion piece to the recent review by New Yorker critic James Wood of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Wood starts by blithely gesturing to the dimming of ’the novel’s cultural centrality’—as though this is an accepted fact, like global warming, and you, dear reader, are the one driving around in a carbon-spewing Hummer made up entirely of copies of Divergent.”
5. “Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing.” Meghan Daum’s profile on the multihyphenate for the New York Times.
“Since Tiny Furniture, which was shot for $25,000, set her career in motion and helped her score her deal for Girls, Dunham has functioned as a proxy for the collective aspirations and insecurities of her generation, or at least a certain educated, mostly white, mostly urban-dwelling microdemographic therein. She is perhaps to the millennials what J. D. Salinger was to the post-World War II generation and Woody Allen was to the baby boomers: a singular voice who spoke as an outsider and, in so doing, became the ultimate insider.”
Video of the Day: The official trailer for Serena:
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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