The Artist and Take Shelter each received five nominations from the Indie Spirit Awards this morning. Drive, The Descendants, 50/50 and Beginners will fill out the competition for Best Feature. I was a little surprised that Win Win didn't make it into the crowd, but nominations for Michael Shannon and Ryan Gosling more than make up for it.
The rest of the nominees:
Best Director: Mike Mills (Beginners) Nicholas W Refn ( Drive) Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Robert Altman Award: Margin Call
Best Int’l Film: A Separation Melancholia Shame The Kid With a Bike Tyrannosaur
Best Male Lead: Demian Bichir (A Better Life) Jean Dujardin (The Artist) Ryan Gosling (Drive) Woody Harrelson (Rampart) Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)
Best Female Lead: Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me) Rachel Harris (Natural Selection) Adepero Oduye (Pariah) Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
Best Supp Male: Albert Brooks (Drive) John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene) Christopher Plummer (Beginners) John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids) Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris)
Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.
Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…
It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.
Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.
The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…