It may be a moot point since he actually got nominated in the lead category, but many wondered why Foxcatcher’s Steve Carell didn’t attempt a campaign in supporting actor, which is where BAFTA slotted him. In other words, his thinly drawn portrayal of John du Pont as an unstable, homicidal cuckoo would be competing in a category more welcoming of that particular kind of role. Best supporting actor has recently gone all-in for sociopathic, antagonistic wild cards (Anton Chigurh, the Joker, Jared Leto’s sense of self-satisfaction), making it the most predictable Oscar category of them all. (The surprised reaction greeting Christoph Waltz’s repeat win two years ago was less a reflection of the quality of his performance and more a reaction to the nobility of his proto-civil rights gunslinger character.) It, in part, explains why Patricia Arquette is widely considered to be the frontrunner for her award, but her hirsute Boyhood counterpart Ethan Hawke is at best running a fairly distant second or third for turning in equally nuanced work as an only part-time functional father figure—and why Oscar voters gave Robert Duvall’s far more flamboyantly flawed, piss-n’-vinegar patriarch a free pass to just be happy for the nomination once again. You have to assume Carell’s handlers took note of how frequently J.K. Simmons’s profane performance as Satan in Whiplash (which, despite all the seasoned professionalism the actor brings to the set, still emerges as the barely human equivalent of the all-staccato soundtrack to Birdman) earned comparison to another prototypal best supporting actor: An Officer and a Gentleman’s Lou Gossett Jr. And then promptly ran for the hills.
The Judge (#1–10 of 3)
If the best posters of 2014 constitute a vibrant harmony between marketing and product, the worst ones merely amplify the already contemptuous elements present in the films being advertised. Of course, this isn’t always so, as with The Immigrant, which is more a case of the Weinstein Company attempting to market the film as something it blatantly isn’t, but on the whole, these posters are dreadful teases for grievous fare.
1. “Collateral.” For EW, Darren Franich in praise of Michael Mann’s action odyssey, a decade later.
“This could just be a stylish director doing a stylish experiment, like Alfred Hitchcock trying to film Rope in the equivalent of one long take. To me, though, the more accurate comparison is Hitchcock filming Psycho, on the cheap, with his TV crew. It’s the perfect merging of style and content. Just as Psycho had to look a little cheap—had to feel like a snuff film directed by a painter—so Collateral needs all those skylines, all those lights in the distance. You’re constantly aware that those lights represent real people—and that those real people don’t notice the horrors being perpetrated by Vincent.”