The industry’s most hyped awards will be presented this weekend and anyone who cares has got to wonder whether the Spirits or the Oscars will come up with a surprise as big as last night’s, when, as Kristopher Tapley reports at HitFix, “Kristen Stewart, who had already become the first American actress to receive a César nomination in 30 years, went on to win the supporting actress prize for her performance in Sils Maria. That makes her the first American actress to ever win a César (and the first American period since Adrien Brody in 2003).” Tapley, by the way, is Peter Labuza‘s latest guest on The Cinephiliacs (66’49”).
Otherwise, it was a great night for Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, one of the five contenders for the Foreign Language Oscar. Timbuktu‘s won seven César Awards, including best film and director. For a full report on the evening and a list of all the winners, see Variety‘s Elsa Keslassy; for more on the history of the Césars, the Wikipedia page is actually a pretty fun scroll.
And for more Kristen Stewart, turn to… Patti Smith? Absolutely. She’s a fan and the sentiments are clearly mutual in their conversation for Interview. For all of Smith’s sincere praise for Stewart’s body of work, I particular like the moment she recalls toying with the idea of acting herself: “When I was a kid, I used to dream about playing Jo in Little Women. Or I wanted to play Joan of Arc.”
Back to this weekend’s awards for a moment. Predictions are everywhere and “lovers of showbiz and cinema ought to be abuzz with anticipation or at least amused curiosity, and I presume most of them are,” writes Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com. “Except, as far as I can tell, for a fair number of people who make their living by covering and/or predicting them. This is one bunch of tired, shagged-out, bummed-out people, let me tell you.”
To the films themselves, then, all prognostication aside. In Eric Hynes‘s terrific interview with him for Reverse Shot, Pawel Pawlikowski explains why Ida has been so controversial in Poland. And for Vulture, Godfrey Cheshire talks with Laura Poitras about, among other things, developments on the surveillance vs. privacy front since the release of Citizenfour.
In the Notebook, Duncan Gray suggests that Andrei Zvyagintsev‘s Leviathan‘s “biggest break from the Tarkovsky tradition is not only that its politics are earthy rather than spiritual, but that it regards spirituality as a con when there’s so much of the material world left to sort out.”
- The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- Under the Skin.
- Only Lovers Left Alive.
- Inherent Vice.
- Gone Girl.
Meantime, follow the updates to our entry on Film Comment Selects.
Peter Bogdanovich has posted a second round of notes he made between 1952 and 1970 on the films of Jean Renoir. “He was Orson Welles’s favorite director, yet Orson was convinced that Renoir didn’t like his work at all, which turned out to be absolutely untrue. Renoir admired Welles’s pictures; critic Todd McCarthy told me of spending several days with Jean watching Orson’s films with tremendous enthusiasm and admiration. And Renoir always spoke fondly of Welles to me. But OW would just shake his head, choosing not to believe any of that. When Renoir died in 1979, Welles wrote a long piece in the Los Angeles Times titled ‘The Greatest of All Directors.’ If you’re interested in reading what he wrote, here’s the link.”
Spotlight: Black American Cinema
“F. Scott Fitzgerald was both a perfect and a terrible fit for Hollywood,” writes Caryn James in the New York Times Book Review. “His youthful fame gave him a shrewd perspective on that shallow, tinselly world. Yet while working there in the last three years of his life, he was a sad case: a debt-ridden genius, alcoholic, selling himself to collaborate on second-rate screenplays…. In West of Sunset, Stewart O’Nan takes the risky approach of imagining those fraught years from Fitzgerald’s point of view…. He has faithfully done his homework; the Hollywood sections of the novel are smooth and credible. But he never makes this worked-over territory very revealing.”
Jonathan Rosenbaum‘s posted his 2006 list of “Ten Neglected Science Fiction Movies.”
And last word for now goes to Aziz Ansari. “There are so few people that you meet in life that give you that feeling that you’ve found a real unique, original person. Harris Wittels was one of those and we lost him yesterday. He was 30 years old. I’ve been devastated.”