Roach won a pair of Emmys in 2008 for directing and producing HBO's similarly-themed "Recount," and with his current film the fronrunner for the Best Movie/Miniseries prize, it would be a huge upset for any other contender to claim the directing trophy. "Game Change" stars Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin and Ed Harris as John McCain and follows the ups and downs of Palin's infamous political career during the 2008 election.
The other four directors in this category are all nominated for their very first Emmy awards this year.
"Hemingway and Gellhorn" director Philip Kaufman was nominated for an Oscar in 1989 for writing "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," but this is his first major awards recognition as a director. His HBO telefilm was snubbed in the writing category, but received nods for stars Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen and David Strathairn as well as Best Movie/Miniseries.
Paul McGuigan received a nomination for British favorite "Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia." His meticulous helming of the updated Sherlock Holmes story earned star Benedict Cumberbatch his first career Emmy nod.
Fellow British miniseries "Luther" was nominated for a handful of trophies including director Sam Miller and series star Idris Elba. If Emmy voters honor Miller here, it'll be thanks to "Luther's" dark atmosphere, gritty realism and amazing performances.
"Anna Karenina" is off to a solid start in the Oscar derby. The period romance has received mostly positive notices from critics and bloggers after its premiere in London, especially for its star, Keira Knightley, whom we're currently giving strong odds in the Best Actress race. It would be her second bid; her first came for another famous literary adaptation: "Pride & Prejudice," which was directed by "Karenina" helmer Joe Wright.
Wright's reimagining of Tolstoy's novel, as realized in Oscar and Tony winner Tom Stoppard's adaptation, has met with much praise for its ambition and innovation. However some critics express reservations about his approach to telling this story of the title character's chilly marriage to Alexei Karenin (Jude Law) and her affair with Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson).
Johnson is also widely criticized for his role as Knightley's lover, though some reviewers argue he is simply miscast. Nevertheless, Knightley's Best Actress hopes seem to be alive and well after these early notices. The film's next stop is the Toronto Film Festival on September 7, where we will find out more about how the film plays with critics and audiences.
Indiewire's Oliver Lyttleton praises the film, particularly Wright's style and the performances of Knightley and Law: "Knightley continues to go from strength to strength with each project, giving Anna a flightiness and impulsiveness that feel almost more like an Ibsen heroine than a Tolstoy one, but it's a smart take on the character, and she truly impresses when she lets the fireworks fly towards the end. Law is excellent too, in a part that's older and more buttoned-up than the kind he normally gets; the perspective of the script is more empathetic to Karenin than you might expect, and the actor succeeds entirely in giving you reason to feel for him, while also making you understand why Anna might turn elsewhere."
Variety's Leslie Felperin admires the film's innovative departure from its source material: "Eschewing the classical realism that's characterized most adaptations of Tolstoy's source novel, helmer Joe Wright makes the generally inspired decision to stylize his dark, expressionist take on 'Anna Karenina.' Setting most of the action in a mocked-up theater emphasizes the performance aspects of the characters' behavior, a strategy enhanced by lead thesp Keira Knightley's willingness to let her neurotic Anna appear less sympathetic than in previous incarnations."
David Gritten of UK's Telegraph lauded the visual style and performances, with a couple of exceptions: "Wright’s shooting style better suits scenes in sophisticated St Petersburg society than those involving the idealistic rural toiler Levin (Domhnall Gleeson). And Aaron Johnson as Anna’s lover Vronsky looks like a boy sent in to do a man’s job; he can do shallow and spoiled, which Vronsky is, but he’s no-one’s idea of an adroit cavalry officer."
Evening Standard's David Sexton is critical of the film, but nevertheless praises its cast: "The outcome is to make this great realist novel wholly artificial, relentlessly stagey in the worst sense. All the world’s a stage? No, it’s not, actually, you think, perhaps not quite so politely as that, as you watch this charade … It’s a shame, for much of the casting is good."
In Contention's Guy Lodge has mixed feelings about the ambitious adaptation: "This is origami-style filmmaking, complicating forms because it knows how, and if it doesn't add much to the text -- the straight-arrow script isn't playing along with its romantic make-believe games -- it doesn't obfuscate things either … This is a richly, rewardingly, improbably alive 'Anna Karenina,' but there's a difference between a film that is constantly in motion, and one that actually moves. All the men and women merely players, indeed."
"Coraline" author Neil Gaiman win a Hugo Award for "Doctor Who": "What the Oscars are to movies and the Grammys are to music, the Hugos are to science fiction. Twin Cities-based writer Neil Gaiman won one over the weekend for 'The Doctor’s Wife,' his script for the long-running British SF series 'Doctor Who.' This is Gaiman’s sixth Hugo. He already has several Nebulas, Bram Stokers, and Squiddys, two Shirley Jacksons and a Ray Bradbury. He’s the first author to win both the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal in Literature, and the first to be called a 'pencil-necked weasel' by a Minnesota legislator, which happened last year when Gaiman was paid a large sum of money for a speaking appearance." MINNPOST
Hollywood Film Awards will honor DreamWorks's "Rise of the Guardians." From the press release: "The 16th Annual Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards, presented by The Los Angeles Times, have announced that DreamWorks Animation's 'Rise of the Guardians' will receive this year's 'Hollywood Animation Award' at the festival's gala ceremony on October 22, 2012, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Directed by Peter Ramsey and written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire ('Rabbit Hole'), 'Rise of the Guardians' is based on the highly acclaimed series of children's books by William Joyce."
Imagine Dragons react to their first VMA nomination: "Take, for example, their awards-show outfits, which they not only picked out last week, but have been breaking in ever since. 'We're wearing them right now, actually,' frontman Dan Reynolds laughed. 'We're wearing them all week, going to sleep in them, waking up in them ... they're the best clothes we have.' 'We have a big calendar and we keep crossing off the days before the VMAs,' drummer Daniel Platzman added. And while we suspect they're just joking about their red-carpet wardrobes, they're 100 percent serious about being incredibly humbled to even be nominated for a VMA, especially since they've been watching the show since they were kids." MTV
Writers Guild Awards call for video-game and new media submissions. From the press release: "The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio and promotional writing, and graphic animation. The awards are presented jointly in all competitive categories during simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles, and each Guild presents its own individual honorary awards ... Submissions for the 2013 WGA New Media Writing Awards will be accepted from September 4 through November 16, 2012. Submissions for the 2013 WGA Videogame Writing Award will be accepted from September 4 through November 30, 2012. Both WGA New Media and Videogame Writing Awards nominees will be announced early next year on January 16, 2013."
Oscar-nominee Michael Clarke Duncan dies at age 54: "Duncan 'suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered,' a written statement from Joy Fehily said. Clarke died at a Los Angeles hospital where he had been since having the heart attack more than seven weeks ago. According to TMZ, it was Duncan's girlfriend Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, a reality star and former contestant on 'The Apprentice,' who had acted quickly and provided lifesaving efforts when he had the heart attack. Most recently he was on the TV series, 'The Finder,' on the Fox network." CNN
Poland enters "80 Million" for Oscar consideration: "Poland has selected '80 Million' as its entry in the Oscar foreign-language film category. The pic has all the elements of an adventure thriller: a big money bank heist, a race against the clock and police hot on the heels of the culprits. But Waldemar Krzystek's feel-good film is a political morality tale from Communist-era Poland. Based on a true story set in Wroclaw 10 days before Polish military junta leader Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in his standoff with the pro-democracy Solidarity movement, the film follows the cunning plan of four regional opposition activists who plot to withdraw 80 million zlotys of the movement's funds from its bank account." VARIETY
The game is afoot in the Emmy race for Best Movie/Mini Actor. Eight of the 13 Experts polled by Gold Derby believe that a little-known British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, is out front for portraying a modern update of Sherlock Holmes. However, four bet on Kevin Costner as "Devil" Anse Hatfield in "Hatfields and McCoys."
The bias toward Cumberbatch shouldn't be a surprise considering the profession of the experts – they're TV journalists, who've gushed rapturously over the sleuth series, which won Best Mini from both the Television Critics Assn. and BAFTA last year. They also cheered the surprise success of "Hatfields and McCoys."
However, Emmy voters tend to prefer contenders like British superstar Clive Owen as Yankee literary icon Ernest Hemingway in "Hemingway and Gellhorn." Two experts predict he'll win. One opts for Woody Harrelson as Sarah Palin campaign aide Steve Schmidt in "Game Change."
Compare them to the rankings and odds of Gold Derby's Editors, who split thus: three for Harrelson, three for Owen, two for Cumberbatch, one for Costner and one for Idris Elba ("Luther"). The sixth nominee, Bill Paxton ("Hatfields and McCoys") receives no first-place votes from our experts or editors.
Gold Derby's Users rank the contenders in this order: Cumberbatch, Owen, Harrelson, Elba, Costner and Paxton.
This category has been very friendly to performances that have portrayed real life people. In the past 25 years, 18 performances have won that were based on real people. That gives four of this year’s nominees a leg up in the competition. In the same 25 years only seven winners were also Oscar winners. Costner did win two Oscars but neither of them were for acting. Let’s look at each of the contenders’ strengths and weaknesses.
Kevin Costner, “Hatfields & McCoys”
Costner portrays “Devil” Anse Hatfield, the patriarch of a post-Civil War family in West Virginia in a heated rivalry with the McCoy clan of Kentucky. It’s his first nomination.
Pro: Costner gives a more emotional performance, is a veteran actor (despite some of his films) and plays a real life character.
Con: He is competing against his co-star, Bill Paxton.
Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia” (Masterpiece)
Cumberbatch earns his first nomination for playing a modern version of the classic detective in a mystery with a seductive woman.
Pro: Cumberbatch provides a reimagining of Holmes that is clever and witty. The fact that it’s a British performance might help with those snobbish Emmy voters.
Con: Cumberbatch does well but the performance is not particularly showy.
Idris Elba, “Luther”
Elba earns his second consecutive nomination as the London detective in addition to his nomination last year in the guest acting category.
Pro: Elba is a British actor who gives an intense performance as the detective and also is coming off his win at the Golden Globes in January.
Con: The material is dark and it’s been over a year since the episodes aired.
Only two of the last 10 Best Original Screenplay winners were left out of the Best Picture race ("Talk to Her" in 2002, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" in 2004). Of the other eight, three also won Best Picture ("Crash," 2005; "The Hurt Locker," 2009; "The King's Speech," 2010).
Top contenders in this category include "Django Unchained" (Quentin Tarantino, who won this category in 1994 "Pulp Fiction"), "The Master" (five-time Oscar-nominee Paul Thomas Anderson), "Zero Dark Thirty" ("Hurt Locker" Oscar-winner Mark Boal), "Moonrise Kingdom" (Roman Coppola and two-time Oscar-nominee Wes Anderson), and the French-language "Amour" (Michael Haneke).
Pixar has had multiple films in this race ("Finding Nemo," "Up," "WALL-E," etc.). This year it could return with "Brave" (Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi, and Oscar-nominee Mark Andrews). Also with the potential to return is Terrence Malick, a three-time Oscar-nominee who could score his second writing nod for "To the Wonder."
A brave young Scottish girl as well as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are among those characters in the 20 films that could keep Tim Burton and his reimagining of the Frankenstein story from winning Best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars.
"Frankenweenie" was filmed in black-and-white using the same stop motion technique that Burton used to such good effect in "Corpse Bride." That 2005 film contended in this category and represents his only Oscar nomination over a thirty-year career. Scheduled for an October release in 3-D Imax, Burton's remake of his 1984 short of the same name tells the story of a young boy who brings his dead dog back to life.
"Brave" introduced Merida, a young archer and Scottish princess who discovers true courage. Released by Disney/Pixar in June, it has made over $230 million and is currently the fifth most successful film of 2012. Pixar has won this category six out of the 11 years of its existence with the most recent victory being "Toy Story 3" in 2010.
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy battle the evil Boogeyman in the November release "Rise of the Guardians". It is a DreamWorks production starring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, and Jude Law and has good early buzz. The studio won the first prize in this category for "Shrek" in 2001.
Other big budget films trying for Oscar slots include "Ice Age: Continental Drift," "The Lorax," "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," "ParaNorman," "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," and "Secret of the Wings." Upcoming releases are "Hotel Transylvania" and "Wreck-It Ralph."
Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” ranked at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 for nine weeks, making it the song of the summer and year so far. And Jepsen is Justin Bieber’s protégé. Three other new talents promoted by big stars have won this award: In 1999, Eminem was Dr. Dre’s protégé and won; in 2003, Eminem returned the favor and mentored 50 Cent who won; and two years ago, Usher oversaw the launch of Bieber who also won. Can Bieber pass the torch to fellow Canadian Jepsen?
Ocean is a member of the hip-hop crew Odd Future. Last year, their leader, Tyler the Creator, won this award. Ocean, who is performing on the VMA telecast, is also nominated for Best Male Video and Best Direction in a Video for “Swim Good.”
One Direction and The Wanted are both boy bands from the UK. One Direction, which is the more successful of the two, will be performing at the VMAs. They are also nominated for Best Pop Video and Most Share-Worthy Video for “What Makes You Beautiful.”
The Emmy race for Best Comedy Actor is no laughing matter.
Thirteen Experts polled by Gold Derby are split between two nominees: eight opt for Louis C.K. (#"Louie#") and five for Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), who won the previous two years. See how each Expert ranks the contenders, plus view their racetrack odds.
However, Gold Derby's 10 Editors see it as a three-way race: four choose Louis C.K., three pick Parsons and three forecast an upset by Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"). See how their predix break down here, and view their collective rankings plus racetrack odds.
Who will really pull off a win? Are Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Don Cheadle ("House of Lies") and Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men") in the running? Below, a breakdown of the race based upon the episodes they submitted to Emmy judges as an example of their best work from the past TV season.
Alec Baldwin - "30 Rock" ("Live from Studio 6H")
Pro: In his submission, Baldwin gets the chance to play many different characters, including some famous ones. The characters include, a cigarette smoking television host, a gay man featured on a famous television series, and his usual laugh-inducing character Jack Donaghy.
Con: Baldwin hasn't won this award since 2009, and the Emmys have shown once they stop rewarding you, it's hard to come back with another win, especially with this category.
Louis C.K. - "Louie" ("Duckling")
Pro: Time. The episode is an hour long, which gives C.K. 30 more minutes of screentime than the rest of the nominees in this category. It's a heartwarming episode which was inspired by C.K.'s 6 year old daughter. And it's a political episode, where C.K. goes on his first ever USO tour; this has been a huge political year for the Emmys, with many of the projected winners playing political characters. This is C.K.'s second nomination, and the previous two winners of this category (Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons) both lost on their first nomination, then won on their second and third. Could C.K. continue and make this a trend for this category?
Con: C.K. plays himself in this series. No actor in the history of this category has ever won this award for playing themselves.
Don Cheadle - "House of Lies" ("Gods of Dangerous Financial Institutions")
Pro: "House of Lies" airs on Showtime, which has done well winning its leading funny ladies Emmys. Will they have the same luck in the Comedy Actor category? Cheadle submitted the pilot episode of the series, a strategy which has been key to Emmy wins in previous years.
Con: The pilot received many negative reviews from critics. This is Cheadle's first nomination for this role; since 1996, only three actors have won this category on their first try (John Lithgow, Tony Shalhoub, and Ricky Gervais).
Both are looking for a first win in this category. Rihanna earned her third nomination for Best Female Video for “We Found Love." And Perry contends for the fifth consecutive year with “Part of Me.” I give the edge to Perry, whose profile is boosted by her concert film, also titled "Part of Me," that comes out on home video on Sept. 18.
This is Beyonce’s fourth consecutive year in this category, this time for “Love on Top.” She won two of her seven previous bids (“Crazy in Love,” 2003; “Naughty Girl,” 2004). If Beyonce wins this year she will tie Madonna's record three wins. Beyonce performed “Love on Top” on last year’s VMA telecast making headlines by subtly announcing her pregnancy.
Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.