Oscars news: Long road to film for ‘Unbroken,’ 5 myths about Academy Awards voting

Pete Hammond reports, “Among the Hollywood notables who passed in 2014 is Louis Zamperini, who only recently became relevant to movie audiences with the release of his life story ‘Unbroken,’ the Angelina Jolie-directed Universal Pictures film which stars Jack O’Connell and Takamasa Ishihara. Zamperini, who first made a movie deal for his remarkable life story 57 years ago, didn’t live long enough to see ‘Unbroken’ gross over $51 million domestic since its Christmas Day release. He died July 3 at age 97, but not before being shown a rough assemblage by its director. On a day when it is worth reflecting on great lives lived, ‘Unbroken’ producer Matt Baer guides us through the long struggle to bring Zamperini’s life to the screen, and how the subject’s unwavering persevering spirit extended well beyond a POW camp in WWII Japan.” Deadline


UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

Sasha Stone counts down the top 10 performances among actors. Topping her list is Michael Keaton for “Birdman“. As she explains, “He doesn’t have a disability and he isn’t saving the world. He isn’t a world famous hero, nor a sociopath. He’s a last man standing, a real actor trying to squeeze out a bit of dignity in a world gone rotten. ‘Birdman’ the film is a pleasure to watch, bravura directing, a well-rehearsed cast with actors hitting the exact right notes. But Birdman is mostly style – breathtaking, dazzling style but style nonetheless. What gives it its depth, its meaning beyond the dazzle is Keaton’s performance. It is so moving, so surprising in its vulnerability, one is taken aback by it.” Awards Daily

David Sussman catalogues five falsehoods about the academy. Leading his list of myths: “The Academy is a bunch of old-timers who vote according to their old-school tastes. In fact, the Academy has been reaching out to younger film industry professionals in recent years. And the recruiting effort seems to be working. One measure is that the new online voting system has increased overall participation in the vote. This year, there are 6,124 eligible voters, up from 5,856 two years ago. So the result could be some outside-the-box thinking when it comes to nominees for Best Picture, Best Director, and the acting categories.” Moviefone

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Tim Gray observes, “A film version of ‘Gone Girl‘ would seem like a slam dunk, since the book was well-crafted and popular (Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel). But in truth, it’s tricky material that could have gone wrong in every way. David Fincher, Fox and the producers made the film a box office hit — $345 million globally so far — and an artistic success via smart choices in his actors and his team of artisans. The story is set in upper-middle-class and blue-collar America, but there are shadowy undercurrents everywhere, and the characters are rarely what they seem. As the story becomes a dark comedy about media obsessions, Fincher told Variety that he and his below-the-line team — most of whom he’s worked with multiple times — found inspiration in unexpected places.” Variety

Anne Thompson notes, “New York writer-director J.C. Chandor shot like a cannon out of Sundance 2011 with Wall Street talk-fest ‘Margin Call,’ which landed him an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination, followed by success d’estime ‘All Is Lost’ in 2013, with solo movie star Robert Redford. So expectations were high for his third feature, ‘A Most Violent Year.” A24 landed the movie, which was backed by Participant Media, and agreed to open the film for awards consideration, debuting it opening night at AFI FEST, followed by a theatrical launch on New Year’s Eve. I talked to Chandor and his star Oscar Isaac, who follows up his breakout leading role in the Coen brothers’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ with this challenging portrayal of an immigrant trying to make it in 1981 New York while under brutal assault from his competitors.” Thompson on Hollywood

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