“It’s a process,” said Kathryn Bigelow with a smile and a sigh, leaning against a wall inside the Directors Guild Theater on Thursday night. “It is a process.”
By it, Bigelow was referring to the Oscar Campaign, a seemingly endless string of Q&As and meet ‘n’ greets that can drive the strongest filmmaker to the edge of exhaustion.
But when you’ve made one of the best films of the year, as she certainly has with “The Hurt Locker” … and when you’re considered a frontrunner on the verge of what could be a truly historic Oscar victory … and when your movie is a small, risky indie that deserves a wider audience … and when people constantly want to talk to you, and show your films, and applaud your accomplishments … when all of that is happening, what’s a filmmaker to do but submit to the process?
After graduating from Harvard University in 1993, Julio DePietro got a job with Citadel Investment Group, then a small, obscure financial firm in Chicago. He planned to stay just long enough to pay off his student loans.
By the time DePietro left 10 years later, he was a partner at one of the world’s largest hedge funds.
“When I started at Citadel, I didn’t know anything about finance,” he said. “I studied political philosophy at Harvard; I didn’t take a single economics course. I’d never even seen a financial statement or quarterly report.”
Now the 38-year-old is making another unlikely transition — to film writing and directing. His first feature, “The Good Guy,” a romantic comedy with a Wall Street backdrop featuring Alexis Bledel, from the television hit “Gilmore Girls,” and Scott Porter, who starred on the TV drama “Friday Night Lights” as the quarterback.
The year is 2017, and the latest Indiana Jones film opens on 4,000 screens across the U.S. It stars Harrison Ford as Indy, of course. But in this installment a 35-year-old Ford returns, fighting evil treasure hunters in the deserts of Morocco. At his side? Humphrey Bogart, reprising his role as Rick fromCasablanca.
The technology to rewind the clock on movie stars' careers and bring long-dead actors back from the grave has been talked about for 20 years. But a slew of new films, including James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi opus, Avatar, have advanced digital filmmaking enough to supplant live action movies--and make a fortune in the process. Avatar has earned $2.4 billion at the worldwide box office for News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox since hitting screens in December.
The next phase of the revolution: virtual actors, with the potential to inflame the age-old battle between Hollywood talent and studios. At stake is everything from who owns the rights to a movie star's image to what it means to be an actor to the future of storytelling. "We've already been involved in things like that," says Steve Preeg of special effects house Digital Domain. "Why? I guess because someone thinks there's money in it."
Director: Breck Eisner
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker
Studio: Overture Films
The Plot: As a toxin begins to turn the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa into violent psychopaths, sheriff David Dutton (Olyphant) tries to make sense of the situation while he, his wife (Mitchell), and two other unaffected townspeople band together in a fight for survival.
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
The Plot: A comedy about a veteran NYPD cop (Willis) whose rare baseball card is stolen. Since it's his only hope to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, he recruits his partner (Morgan) to track down the thief, a memorabilia-obsessed gangster.
THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF
Director: Udayan Prasad
Stars: William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
The Plot: An ex-con (Hurt) hitches a ride with two teenagers (Stewart and Redmayne) to see his estranged wife (Bello).
Director: Peter Stebbings
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh
Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Worldwide Acquisitions Group
The Plot: Every night, Arthur Poppington (Harrelson) becomes Defendor, a superhero looking to rid his city of drugs, weapons, and the crime lord known as Captain Industry. With a new ally, teenage prostitute Katerina (Dennings), Defendor infiltrates the criminal underworld, steps away from a showdown with Captain Industry.
The first images of Angelina Jolie on the set of The Tourist have already hit the net. The movie literally starting filming yesterday in Paris, so that didn’t take long. But when you put Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in a movie together, you’re going to get a lot of paparazzi. If you haven’t heard of the movie, The Tourist is about an American tourist (Depp) drawn into a web of intrigue and danger by a female Interpol agent (Jolie) as she attempts to locate a criminal who was once her lover. At this past weekend’s press junket for Alice in Wonderland, Depp said he starts filming today in Venice. Get ready for a lot more images from the set to leak.
Seeing is believing but hearing also plays a key role in making things real in "The Hurt Locker." Indeed, two of the nine Oscar nominations for Kathryn Bigelow's film are for work by sound designer Paul N.J. Ottosson: one for achievement in sound (with Ray Beckett) and one for achievement in sound editing.
Ottosson, an Oscar and BAFTA nominee in 2005 for "Spider-Man 2," also is BAFTA-nominated for "Locker" with Beckett.
Talking recently with Ottosson, I noted the references to sounds I saw watching "Locker" on DVD with subtitles, including "sirens wailing," "glass cracking," "television playing" and "people shouting in Arabic."
Without subtitles, the background sounds don't stand out, and we don't pay special attention to them. But they're important in driving "Locker's" story.
Opening on February 26 is The Crazies, Overture Films’ remake of the 1973 George Romero film of the same name. Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, and Danielle Panabaker, it centers on a small town whose residents become infected by a virus that causes them to go…well, you know. Recently, I got the opportunity to do a phone interview with the film’s director, Breck Eisner. Hit the jump to get his thoughts on remaking Romero, his philosophy on constructing an effective horror movie, an update on his upcoming Flash Gordon reboot, and more.
History will likely be made when the envelope revealing the best director Oscar winner is opened at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.
Most insiders know that Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") would become the first woman to take home that prize. And Lee Daniels ("Precious") would be the first black winner.
But even if the Academy opts to bestow a second directing Oscar on James Cameron ("Avatar"), it would still be kind of epic, since Cameron would become the first director since David Lean's victory laps for 1957's "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia" to win the directing prize for back-to-back narrative features.
The betting is that the contest boils down to a Bigelow-Cameron face-off. Here are the factors likely to tip the balance one way or another.
Cable operators, you have been warned.
If anything underscores the long-term threat to cable companies' video service from the Internet, it is Wal-Mart Stores' purchase of Vudu -- a video-on-demand (VOD) Web service. Investors in Time Warner Cable and Comcast must hope they pay attention.
The danger isn't immediate. Vudu is one of several digital services, including Apple's iTunes and Amazon.com, which sell or rent movies via the Web. Watching programs from these services on a TV, while easier than it once was, remains fiddly. Vudu users need certain TV sets or Blu-Ray players with built-in Web access. Amazon requires compatible devices. Watching iTunes-acquired films on a TV requires an Apple TV box or an iPod connected to a TV. Last year, less than 5% of high-definition TVs sold had Web access, according to Macquarie.
In contrast, some two-thirds of homes with TVs are connected to either cable or phone company-delivered video, according to Nielsen. These offer regular TV channels as well as VOD. Operators like Comcast enhance VOD with free movies. No surprise then that cable VOD has gained more traction than Web services, despite its clunky interface.
Raging Bull began as Robert De Niro’s obsession, but the only man he believed could film it, Martin Scorsese, wasn’t interested—until the director’s near-fatal collapse gave him a visceral connection with the story of troubled boxing champion Jake La Motta. Three decades on, the author tells how one of Hollywood’s great friendships, forged by Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, drove Scorsese’s finest film.
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