Oscars news: Looking into ‘Big Eyes,’ Angelina Jolie obsessed with ‘Unbroken’

In her intro to an in-depth interview, Anne Thompson writes: “After a decade, screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who first met in the 1980s at USC film school, thought their Margaret Keane biopic ‘Big Eyes‘ would never get made. They were used to their delightfully idiosyncratic outsider tales not being deemed commercial by the studios. Filmmakers Tim Burton did embrace ‘Ed Wood,’ and Milos Forman championed both ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ and Andy Kaufman portrait ‘Man on the Moon.’ But many other scripts sat on the shelf, from ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ to biopics about the Marx Brothers, The Village People, Sid and Marty Krofft and Rollen Stewart a.k.a. ‘Rainbow Man.’ This time Alexander and Karaszewski were hoping to direct ‘Big Eyes’ themselves. But when suddenly Christoph Waltz offered an opportunity to get the film made, they grabbed that chance.” Thompson on Hollywood

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

Sasha Stone checks in on the state of this year’s derby and kicks off her must-read analysis thus: “The Oscar race for Best Picture looks a little like the shelves at Kmart after a Black Monday sale. The reason for that is because so many of the year-end hopefuls did not turn out to be the Big Oscar Movies everyone had come to expect after years like 2012 and 2013. This one looks a little more like 2011, where there was only one movie that could win – it had no challengers. This year, it doesn’t feel like anything can touch Richard Linklater’s consummate coming of age film, ‘Boyhood.’ The only film I think that has the stuff to potentially beat Boyhood in an 11th hour shocker would be Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma.’ That movie is on fire right now — where it will end remains a mystery. But it’s the only film I’ve seen that gives Boyhood some serious heat.” Awards Daily

Steve Pond observes, “Before Angelina Jolie made ‘Unbroken,’ Louis Zamperini’s dramatic World War II survival story had been looking for a filmmaker since 1957. But it took Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book and the interest of second-time director Jolie to nudge the project back into action, leading to the film that opens on Christmas Day on the heels of four Critics’ Choice Movie Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Jolie said she was obsessed with the story of Zamperini, an Olympic runner who survived 45 days adrift on a raft in the Pacific and two years in a series of brutal Japanese prison camps. But she found a number of challenges in telling the dark, relentlessly brutal story – and so did British actor Jack O’Connell, who plays Zamperini, and Japanese musician Miyavi, who made his acting debut in the role of the Bird, a sadistic prison camp commander who became Zamperini’s nemesis.” The Wrap

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Rachel Syme reports: “The last words that Reese Witherspoon utters in ‘Wild‘ come directly from Cheryl Strayed’s memoir (no spoilers, but trust us: You may tear up when you hear them) and will certainly send many people rushing out of the theater to buy a copy of the book. ‘Wild’ — both iterations — is about many things (nature, infidelity, forgiveness, grief, heroin, finding properly fitting hiking boots), but among them, it is a love letter to words: the words Strayed’s mother said to her before she died, the words in the books Strayed carried with her on her 1,000-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail, and the words she finally allowed herself to believe in order to move on with her life and find peace. Strayed’s words are powerful, strong tools, both spoken and on the page, and her ability to say exactly the right thing at the right time may be most apparent in her pre-Wild writing, before the country knew her name. In fact, it was before anyone did: She only went by Sugar.” Vulture

As Carey Purcell notes, “Rob Marshall is no stranger to razzle dazzle, having been at the helm of the big-budget, glittery sparkly musical ‘Chicago,’ which hit the big screen in 2002, followed by the equally opulent ‘Nine’ in 2009. But the Tony and Academy Award nominee, who is now bringing Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and more to the cinemas Dec. 25 in the movie musical ‘Into the Woods,’ said he was careful to avoid excess while filming, despite numerous opportunities for it, in order to remain true to the material, the award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.” Playbill

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