Oscars news: Chris Rock ranks his ‘Top Five,’ Richard Linklater (‘Boyhood’) feted


Jeff Labrecuqe chats with Chris Rock about “Top Five,” in which “he plays a movie star whose already-fading career is about to crumble on the day he’s being interviewed by a savvy New York Times reporter ­(Rosario Dawson) about his comedy career, his ambitious new Oscar-bait movie about the Haitian revolution, and his imminent nuptials to a reality star. She accompanies him to his old neighborhood, where he and his friends kill time arguing about their top five rappers. ‘What are the normal ­conversations—not the contrived romantic-­comedy conversations—that happen when you get a bunch of old friends together?’ Rock says, describing the scene.” EW

Oscar experts: Eddie Redmayne narrows Michael Keaton lead, ‘Selma’ cracks top five

Richard Linklater, our frontrunner for Best Director at the Oscars, is to be feted at the Palm Springs filmfest. The director of “Boyhood,” which we tip to win Best Picture, is to receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award at the Jan. 5 gala. The prize, named for the one-time mayor of this desert retreat for the stars, went to U2 last year. Other recipients have included Michel Hazanvicius and Danny Boyle, who both got this boost to their profiles weeks before they won Oscars for helming Best Picture champs “The Artist” and “Slumdog Millionaire” respectively. PSIFF

In considering the Best Director race, Sasha Stone observes, “maybe because the great Mike Nichols is no longer with us, I’m feeling the need to celebrate the great directors who are working today, especially the masters and those who have been slowly building up to be being masters. They are the visionaries, still there with their hands on the wheel, guiding the story, taking the heat, suffering the losses, basking in the successes.” Awards Daily

Pete Hammond breaks down the the awards “season,” such as it is: “An awards consultant, complaining she already was exhausted even though we have four months until the Academy Awards, asked me the other day: ‘Didn’t we just finish the last season? How did it come around so fast?’ It’s a good question, but the answer seems to be that, in the current state of things, planning your Oscar campaigns really is a year-round task that never ends, even with movies that haven’t yet been shot.” Deadline

Jennelle Riley has a must-read piece on the kind of films that get nominated (and snubbed) for Best Picture. “Among this year’s typically serious and/or weighty crop of frontrunners, there are at least three dramas set during wartime (‘Unbroken,’ ‘American Sniper‘ and ‘The Imitation Game‘) and a slew of biopics (all three of the previously mentioned films, ‘Selma‘ ‘The Theory of Everything‘ and ‘Wild.’) All of these films, along with ‘Foxcatcher,’ are based on true stories. But can’t Oscar make room for some titles that represent exceedingly well-crafted fun?” Variety

Oscar voters get Thanksgiving bounty of Animated Feature screeners:
‘Big Hero 6,’ ‘Dragon 2,’ ‘Lego Movie’

As Greg Ellwood notes, “It’s turning out to be another great year for Tilda Swinton. In February, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ premiered to raves at the Berlin Film Festival and made a ton of money in the months following. Cannes 2013 player ‘Only Lovers Left Alive‘ gained more critical traction as it continued to play around the world, eventually earning Swinton a surprise Best Female Lead Independent Spirit Award nomination. She filmed a key role in Judd Apatow‘s new Amy Schumer comedy ‘Trainwrecked,’ set for theaters in 2015, and re-teamed with old buddy George Clooney and the Coen brothers for the comedy ‘Hail Caesar!,’ which is currently filming and scheduled to debut in 2016. Perhaps most importantly, her performance in Bong Joon-ho‘s ‘Snowpiercer‘ finally saw the light of day stateside. HitFix

Ryan Lattanzio touts five films with scores that need to be listened to this awards season. As he notes in his intro, “there are plenty of brilliant, innovative and unusual scores for unusual movies that deserve ample attention this year.” TOH

Susan King takes a compelling look back at the most celebrated time in moviemaking. “Hollywood has arguably never had such a remarkable year as 1939. The studios released some of its most popular and accomplished films, including the best picture Oscar winner ‘Gone With the Wind,’ the beloved musical fantasy ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and John Ford‘s seminal western ‘Stagecoach,’ which turned B actor John Wayne into a major player. Los Angeles Times

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