You know the old saying about how it’s an honor just being nominated? It is. An Academy Award nomination is a win no matter the final outcome on Oscar night. For one thing, it guarantees a major boost in profile and an upgrade in the caliber of roles an actor gets offered. There’s no way, for example, that any Oscar nominee will accept the sorts of roles you’re about to see below.
The pundits mostly said the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama this year was Natalie Portman’s to lose. And she certainly gave an impressive performance as the former First Lady in Jackie. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association doesn’t listen to the pundits. (I guess they sort of are pundits, in a way.) And they went a different way, picking Isabelle Huppert as their Best Actress (dramatically) for 2016.
Awards season, that glorious time of year when works of moving art are made to fight for our amusement and betting-pool glory, lurched into gear last night with the Gotham Independent Awards. A sort of east coast counterpart to Los Angeles’ Independent Spirit Awards, the program recognizes the finest achievements in indie film over the previous year, as selected by the members of the Independent Filmmaker Project. For the past two years, the IFP’s Best Feature designation has effectively predicted the film that will receive the Best Picture Academy Award a couple months later. If that happens to be the case again this year, the Oscar future looks bright — and refreshingly black.
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They don’t make ‘em like they used to, and Paul Verhoeven’s disappointed. In this instance, “they” refers to Hollywood’s major studio system, “’em” refers to erotic thrillers, and “like they used to” refers to the ‘90s, when the esteemed Dutch filmmaker came stateside to bestow the masterpieces (not joking) Basic Instinct and Showgirls upon U.S. audiences. Verhoeven’s not pleased with the direction in which the film industry is headed, and he made that much clear during some headline-grabbing comments at AFI Fest in Los Angeles this past Sunday, The Wrap reports.
It’s been 10 years since we last saw a new film from Paul Verhoeven, whose darkly satirical style has made his body of work incredibly divisive. That perspective hasn’t changed much over the past decade, though Verhoeven’s approach to style and tone has certainly matured, as evidenced by Elle. Featuring a razor sharp performance from the incomparable Isabelle Huppert, Verhoeven’s latest effort is a crafty and expertly layered drama in which a successful woman experiences a rather unconventional midlife awakening.
English-language debuts from foreign-language auteurs are always a dicey proposition. In the best cases, the director maintains his or her artistic signature and imposes it on actors domestic audiences recognize in language we can speak, creating a more immediately affecting experience — 2014’s Snowpiercer is a fine example, bringing South Korean master Bong Joon-ho to American audiences. Too often, however, what makes a foreign director’s filmography great can get lost in translation, or snuffed out by overbearing studio heads. With his latest film Louder Than Bombs, Norwegian talent Joachim Trier makes the jump, working in English with such familiar faces as Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, and Devin Druid. (You know, from the episode of Louie where he smokes pot as a teenager?) Having caught the picture back in September at the Toronto International Film Festival, I come today bearing good news: Louder Than Bombs is the real deal.
Paul Verhoeven hasn’t released a new film since 2007's divisive World War II thriller Black Book, but the cult favorite director returns this year with two new films — one is the crowdsourced indie Tricked (opening soon in New York), and the other is the far more intriguing Elle, a French language thriller starring Isabelle Huppert, a cat and a hammer.