Greetings, readers! In this, our newest column, I’ll be discussing the latest, juiciest industry announcements: trailer releases, breaking festival coverage, and maybe even some gossip rag shtuff if it’s reliable and/or incredibly outlandish!
This lovely Labor Day week(end) brought us not one, but TWO major film festivals (Telluride and Venice), officially launching the fall awards season push for distributors, actors, and other cinematic artisans.
We also got wind of who will be singing the latest 007 theme song for the upcoming Spectre, and, like Adele before him, we couldn’t be more excited to hear this Brit superstar interpret the famed spy’s smooth style. Will he add a Golden Globe and Oscar to his gold Grammy haul?
Finally, over the last several weeks, sequels and remakes for some seriously beloved films have been announced. Want to find out which ones? Read on, and savor this tall glass of Fresh-Squeezed Industry!
Who Came Out Ahead at Venice and Telluride?
Both the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals, though many thousands of miles away from each other, are thought of as harbingers of the awards season to come. Major studio prestige films that premiere at the fests—and are met with enthusiastic support—ride a wave of goodwill through Toronto and New York in the following month. As such, we can estimate which films may have the power and critical support to push all the way to the top category at the 2016 Academy Awards.
Venice: Many pundits agree that several films that premiered here will need a boost from Toronto in order to truly tell their Oscar worth. Still, Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, about the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery, will almost surely yield acting noms for its two leads (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander); Scott Cooper’s Boston crime drama Black Mass proved an incredible, dramatic comeback for Johnny Depp in the role of mob boss “Whitey” Bulger; Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, which investigates the Boston Globe‘s expose of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, gave a strong showing with its dynamic ensemble cast and taut storytelling; and finally Cary Fukunaga’s stylishly-rendered but disturbing African lost boy soldier drama Beasts of No Nation was a glorious coming out for young Ghanaian actor Abraham Attah.
Telluride: This exclusive festival, nestled in a valley high up in the Rockies, draws an eclectic crowd of independent and studio filmmakers, journalists, and civilian cinephiles the world over. Among the films receiving widespread acclaim were, again, McCarthy’s Spotlight; Fukunaga’s Beasts; Todd Haynes’ tale of a lovelorn, repressed lesbian couple, Carol, which won the best actress prize for Rooney Mara at Cannes and continues its trajectory as a critical darling; gritty girl-power historical drama Suffragette, whose director, Sarah Gavron, didn’t get quite the high marks leading lady Carey Mulligan did; the Lenny Abrahamson-directed heartfelt adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s Room, boasting a standout performance from the wonderful Brie Larson, as the kidnapped mother of five-year-old Jack, played to perfection by Jacob Tremblay; and, of course, the epic trifecta of director Danny Boyle, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and actor Michael Fassbender who arrived with Steve Jobs, apparently a rather audacious retelling of the difficult tech-wiz’s rise.
As the dust settles, I’d wager that the goodwill for Steve Jobs, Spotlight, Carol, and The Danish Girl—along with of-the-moment subject matter and acclaimed performances—positions them at the top of the heap. Interestingly, there is no apparent frontrunner, something Telluride often provides, including recent best picture-winners 12 Years A Slave and Argo.
Will Sam Smith Do the 007 Theme Song Justice?
I’d give that a resounding YES.
The 23-year-old British singer-songwriter, whose debut album In the Lonely Hour wracked up a series of Grammy Awards this year, follows in the footsteps of Adele: another fresh-faced, soulful twenty-something who, you know, wound up picking up an Oscar for her fantastic Bond theme song.
Smith’s record will be called “Writing’s on the Wall,” and he claims that he wrote the tune in just twenty minutes.
“This is one of the highlights of my career,” he wrote on Facebook. “I am honoured to finally announce that I will be singing the next Bond theme song. I am so excited to be a part of this iconic British legacy and join an incredible line up of some of my biggest musical inspirations. I hope you all enjoy the song as much as I enjoyed making it.”
We’re sure we will, Sam. Now, if the openly gay singer can just work in that homoerotic moment from Skyfall, I’d really love the song…
Sequels and Remakes to Put on Your Radar!
Trainspotting, Part Deux: On the heels of Steve Jobs, just barely out of the gate itself, director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) announced that his next project would be a sequel to the 1996 cult classic, Trainspotting. That film, based on an Irvine Welsh novel, followed a group of heroin addicts in Britain, including the now-bonafide movie star Ewan McGregor and TV’s other Sherlock, Johnny Lee Miller. All four main characters have expressed interest in returning for the follow-up, though, which will be based on a sequel novel titled Porno. Excited for Ewan to go all un-glam on us again?
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice…: Winona Ryder confirmed it, so it must be true. Tim Burton is bringing back our beloved undead pal for what we can only hope will be another helping of outsized, animated hijinks. Now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the entire original cast returns: Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Geena Davis, we’re looking at you!
Who You Gonna Call? (Lady) Ghostbusters!: I know, I know. It’s old news by this point. But in case you hadn’t heard, the Ghostbusters franchise is getting a 21st-century overhaul with an all-female troupe of paranormal police. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones will replace Bill Murray and Co. in the new action-comedy. The best news of all? Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth will play the ladies’ secretary, Kevin. Prepare yourself for some serious objectification, Chris.
And the Award for Best Trailer of the Week Goes To…
The Danish Girl: for making me believe that Eddie Redmayne really did deserve an Oscar; for showcasing Alicia Vikander and her gorgeous beautifulness; for enticing me with fleeting glimpses of one of my actor-crushes, Ben Whishaw; and for that incredibly alluring final shot! Enjoy, folks.