Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

The Birdman screenwriters at the Oscars
I’m a bit late on this week’s round-up, but here’s what’s percolating around the web: Oscar take-aways, Canadian Screen Awards stuff, docs, lists, and more!

By Christopher Redmond, Dear Cast and Crew

Is Birdman’s win bad for TIFF? In short, no. Christopher Redmond at fellow Ottawa film site Dear Cast and Crew, however, presents the case that it does. While I don't agree with the main argument, I think he makes some good points about the changing dynamics of the festival circuit in increasing award-season mania, it’s unfair to worry about Toronto’s reputation just yet. All the festivals pretty much came out even Oscar-wise, if you ask me, except maybe Cannes, which still had a decent haul of world premiere nominees like Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner. Birdman’s win isn’t bad news for TIFF, really, since (as far as I know) Fox Searchlight had only planned to bring two of its films to TIFF and The Drop and Wild were far more logical choices given the immediate theatrical release of the former and the Canadian connection of the latter. Additionally, TIFF’s power in the Oscar race is evident in the one-two punch of Best Actor and Best Actress, since The Theory of Everything and Still Alice both premiered at the festival of festivals. Neither film won the coveted People’s Choice Award, mind you, but Still Alice is undeniably a TIFF success story since it didn’t even have a distributor heading in to its roaring world premiere that took Julianne Moore all the way to the Oscars. 

And that’s the problem. Critics, studio reps, and sales agents can only earmark so many festivals each year. Without the prestige of Cannes, bustling market of Berlin, caché of Venice, or discovery-factor of Sundance, you have always struggled to find a true identity. So you’ve opted for size and spectacle, becoming “the people’s festival” where the city’s diverse population stands in for the tastes of the world. But in that big, generic label, you’re getting lost in the shuffle—especially when so many other festivals are doing a better job of launching big films into the marketplace.
By Scott Feinberg, The Race

It was a weird year in which some rules were broken and some held strong, but there’s no denying that 2014 made one new rule: the fall festival circuit is a now a deadline. We all seem to agree on this point. But I would love to see some December release clean house at the Oscars next year just to make future award seasons more manageable. Everything is happening far too early.

One of the big takeaways from this season is that releasing an awards contender in mid- to late December — especially one that engenders controversy and debate, as did Christmas releases Sniper and Selma — is something to be avoided, at least as long as the major guilds insist on beginning their nomination voting periods in the first week of the month. Why? Because it causes a distributor to spend its entire campaign trying to dig itself out of a hole.

By Sam Adams, Criticwire

One highlight of awards exposure is the chance to remember films that didn’t have a chance to be a part of the conversation in their initial release. Case in point: the pairing of Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne at award shows reminded critics and film fans of their great work together in the hidden gem Savage Grace.
As he did with "Swoon," which focused on the same Leopold and Loeb murders that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," Kalin took an irresistably [sic] lurid story and approached it with heady aesthetic distance. But where "Swoon" treated its subject with a dreamy remove, "Savage Grace" adopted a visual style that was more overtly naturalistic, the unfiltered light of Mediterranean villas contrasting pointedly with Redmayne's and especially Moore's stylized performances.

By Nathaniel Rogers, The Film Experience
The world is finally in balance now that Julianne Moore has an Oscar and nobody in the Oscar party could be happier than longtime Moore-aholic Nathaniel Rogers at TFE. But where does Miss Moore sit in the food chain of Best Actress favourites, find out in this fun ranking of Oscar’s leading ladies. Mild quip: Shouldn’t Meryl Streep be floating above everyone since she’s basically God?

Corrected version:
1. Meryl
2. Peasants.

How the ranks were determined. Number of nominations determines general placement. Once that's established wins are most important. In the event that someone has the same exact stats in nominations and wins, the tiebreaker factor in rank is that lead counts more than supporting. If the tie stubbornly remains the tie is broken by endurance

By Hannah Cheesman, The Globe and Mail

It’s an honour just to be nominated. No, really, it is, says Hannah Cheesman in her hilarious piece on losing at the Canadian Screen Awards earlier this week when nominated for the web series Whatever, Linda. The pros and cons of winning:

But it’s also not that bad to be the underdog. Especially when you respect, admire and genuinely like your co-nominees. It’s still an honour to be nominated. I can forever write “CSA-nominated actress” on my Twitter account or résumé – or when I’m going through customs and have to write down my occupation and am suddenly struck with shame and fear when I scribble “actor”.

By Alison Voerstenbosc, Film Army
There’s a lot to digest in Canadian Screen Week. As a one person outlet, I can only really cover one side and so I stick with film, but Film Army offers a good rundown of what went down this week:

Last week we celebrated CanadianScreen Week. This included events from industry networking sessions to FanZone at the Eaton Centre. And then there are two industry galas where they hand out the majority of the 120+ awards. With over seven hours of handing out awards, the Oscars have nothing on us.

By Ryan Latanzio, Thompson on Hollywood

Hooray, hooray! Orson Welles’s best film might finally see a proper home release. Long lost due to shoddy prints, dubbings, and other nonsense, Welles’s great Falstaff film Chimes at Midnight has been discovered in rare form.
Long unavailable on home video formats due to legal tussles, "Chimes at Midnight" was found tucked among tens of thousands of pounds of film elements owned by Morowitz, who evidently had been sitting on the print for 20-plus years. "One thing is for sure and that is that the world wants a gorgeous and definitive release of Falstaff," he co-wrote on his blog with Bender. DCPs have floated around various retrospectives, and Bay Area cinephiles have caught a 16mm print of the film at the Pacific Film Archive.
By Kristen Lopez, Journeys into Classic Film

Were films sexier before sex hit the screen? Kristen Lopez offers a great round-up of some of the sexiest and sauciest encounters in classic film. I’m thrilled that my personal favourite film, Double Indemnity, clocks in at #6: 

Double Indemnity was trotted out as one of the catalysts for saucier 1980s neo-noir, eschewing creative verbal foreplay for the down and dirty deed. But no amount of sex can make up for how sexy Stanwyck and MacMurray are as they dance around each other with their cunning linguistics. MacMurray’s Walter Neff has obviously run into several bored housewives looking for a little male attention while their husband’s out, but he meets his match with Stanwyck’s Phyllis. She doesn’t give him an inch as he starts flirting with her.

The team at The Playlist

Are we halfway already? Time goes by so fast, but, looking back, we’ve really been spoiled with great films so far this decade. What are your favourite films of the decade so far? My list might go: 1. Black Swan 2. Anna Karenina 3. Stories We Tell 4. Midnight in Paris 5. Wild ....

But after re-running our best of the 00s series, we began to wonder: what were the very best of the films of the last five years? And so a weeks-long process of arguing began— at first, we narrowed down a long list of hundreds of films, then our final list of 50 (going by U.S. release year, which in some cases followed a 2009 release elsewhere, just so you know), which we’ve ranked by the highly unscientific process of shouting at each other until everyone was happy/equally miserable.

By Jason O’Hara, Point of View

A great continuing series at POV gets its fourth installment as Jason O’Hara recounts his experience of shooting a film in Brazil during the World Cup. It’s a great read:

As most of the world watched the World Cup finals from the comfort of their homes, bars and restaurants in cities and towns across the globe, we should not forget the financial and social costs of creating this spectacle. Brazilians will be coping with the legacy of this event for years to come. While it’s easy to dismiss my experience as an unfortunate incident perpetrated by a handful of “bad apples,” we should take pause and consider the systemic context wherein the police are themselves victims of Brazil’s oppressive political system under global capitalism.

And a shameless link to my own work: The TIFF Docs report at Point of View is now up and features highlights from the fest including a chat with programmer Thom Powers and thoughts on hot docs like Sunshine Superman, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and more! Read it both in print and online.

Video of the week: SPECTRE behind the scenes!

Any good reads you recommend?