The film and TV businesses have melded and merged in a way that would have been unfathomable a decade or two ago. Directors and actors regularly bounce between films and television in a way that implicitly argues that the divisions between the two are technical at best.
Once, the notion that someone would do a TV pilot after winning the Best Director Oscar would have seemed crazy. But Ang Lee has just been announced as the director and executive producer of the pilot for the FX show Tyrant. The project was developed by Homeland exec producer Howard Gordon, and Gideon Raff, who created Homeland‘s inspiration, the Israeli show Hatufim (Prisoners of War).
The show will follow the life of “an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation.” More info is below, via the press release. Read More »
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On Sunday Ang Lee took the Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi, which also won three other awards, making it the big Oscar winner this year. But what of the more than 400 visual effects employees who spent Sunday protesting business practices that make VFX work a losing proposition for many artists?
The Oscar wins come, ironically, at a very difficult time for one of the companies most directly responsible for the movie’s success: Rhythm & Hues, the effects house that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just a week ago. Lee didn’t mention the company by name in his speech, or thank the artists who brought his film to life.
That bankruptcy highlights a big issue in Hollywood: films are ever-more dependent upon digital effects, but often treats the process of their creation like the work of a sweatshop. (See the Tumblr Before VFX for many examples of familiar scenes without their effects.) Claudio Miranda won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Life of Pi, but much of what we see in the film is the work of CG artists. Many of the film’s waves, skies, and animals, including the tiger Richard Parker, are digital. Miranda may have broadly overseen the creation of effects, but he didn’t point a camera at some of the film’s signature elements.
The men who oversaw creation of those digital elements did get honored, but also took a heavy backhand from the Oscar producers. Just as Life of Pi VFX Supervisor Bill Westenhofer was trying to bring up the trouble Rhythm & Hues faces as part of his award acceptance speech, he was rushed off the Oscar stage with the theme from Jaws. His mic was even cut off. That moment was an ugly metaphor for exactly what the VFX industry is angry about: the people who create the elements big-budget movies rely on for success get no voice, and no respect.
(If you see Facebook and Twitter icons going green this week, that’s in support of VFX artists.)
So what’s happening in the visual effects segment of the movie industry, and what was the protest about? After the break we’ll break down the issues facing effects companies, and explain the reason that imposition of the Jaws theme was so ironically ugly.
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Here are the winners of the 85th Oscars. It was a rather strange year, with only the sixth tie in the history of the awards (for Sound Editing) an excess of references to Chicago, and a surprise win in the Best Director category for Ang Lee. (And those who expected Jessica Chastain to take the Best Actress award were surprised by Jennifer Lawrence winning the award, for Silver Linings Playbook.) Lee’s Life of Pi actually ended up being the night’s big winner, with four Oscars.
As expected, Ben Affleck‘s Argo took Best Picture, with producer Grant Heslov taking the opportunity to really highlight Affleck (also a producer) and give the director time to have the mic. And though the event was hosted by a comedian, Best Actor winner Daniel Day Lewis made the best jokes of the night — surprise, surprise, the guy was better than everyone else in the room.
For more commentary check out the night’s live blog. Read More »
Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 by Angie Han
A dozen years after the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Weinstein Co. is getting ready to make a sequel. Though it’s been a while since we heard about any potential follow-up to Ang Lee‘s international hit, it looks like the Weinsteins have quietly been making preparations behind the scenes. Production is on track to begin in May, with a script by John Fusco (The Forbidden Kingdom). Ronny Yu (Fearless) is in talks to direct. More details after the jump.
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Posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 by Angie Han
When Life of Pi landed in Ang Lee‘s lap in 2009, it had already run through several directors including M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. But as we now know, he managed to turn the tricky source material into a gorgeous, moving adventure. As he eyes his next move, he’s looking to board another project that’s been attached to several high-profile names.
At the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala, Lee expressed his interest in taking over the historical epic Cleopatra. Angelina Jolie‘s been attached to play the lead since 2010, but the film’s had significantly more trouble hanging onto a director. Last summer, David Fincher became the latest filmmaker to drop the picture. More details after the jump.
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Nominations for the Oscars will be announced later this week (on Thursday morning, to be precise) but for now we’ve got the five names nominated by the Director’s Guild of America for achievement in directing in 2012. The list features one newcomer to the DGA award slate, and four directors who have won in prior years.
In short, the names on the list are: Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg. Everyone will likely have something to say about their favorite director who didn’t get the DGA nod this year, whether it is Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, or Paul Thomas Anderson.
Awards will be given out at the 65th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 2, 2013. The full list of nominee info is below. Read More »
Amongst even the most fervent Quentin Tarantino fans, the subject of Death Proof is touchy — is it a good film, or not? I love the movie, seeing it as precisely the sort of grindhouse movie that it hoped to replicate, with a layer of commentary thrown in for good measure. But Tarantino stirred up new conversation about the film today with comments in a long interview about the fact that he hopes Death Proof ends up judged as the least of his films.
The beginning of awards season each year sees THR assembling talent in one room for great roundtables, and this year the director roundtable features Ang Lee, Tom Hooper, Ben Affleck, David O. Russell, Gus Van Sant, and the dominating presence of Tarantino.
The comment about Death Proof may have been the most attention-getting thing Tarantino said, but he had a lot more to offer, from a breakdown of his own writing and directing process, to plans to write books (novels and film criticism) after he stops actively directing. And the end of his directorial career seems prompted by technological change, as the move to digital projection leaves him cold.
And there’s a lot more, too — while Tarantino tends to dominate the conversation, each of the participants has great stuff to add about the business of directing. It’s worth an hour of your time to watch the whole thing. Read More »
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