It's kind of hard to remember now — what with 50 Shades of Grey having bombed through and nip-slipped the world into submission — but there was a time when The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was the hot lit-blockbuster adaptation of the moment. We had the renewed invincibility of David Fincher, coming smoking hot off The Social Network, and we had Karen O going "ahhhahhhaAHHHah" on that goose-bump-inducing trailer, and we had ascendant starlet Rooney Mara, making herself over as one who clearly is not fucking around. And then the movie dropped and — it was OK? It was pretty cool? Yeah. Yeah. Totally not bad.
On February 26, we are, I think, likely to see Viola Davis walk to the stage to accept a Best Actress Oscar for playing a maid. It will have been about 26,000 days — is that a lot or a little? — since Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for her role as Gone With the Wind’s house slave Mammy and tearfully expressed the hope that she would “always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.” How far we’ve come. How far we haven’t.
Some years, it’s a stretch to come up with five decent candidates for Best Actress; such are the seemingly permanent inequities of the movie business. So it’s a pleasure to report that, despite a deeply problematic set of films, this year’s field is actually stronger than the roster of Best Actor candidates — the women contending for nominations this year did more with less. (But why should they have to? That’s another story.)
The next month of the Oscar campaign — from today until January 13, when nomination balloting closes — is in some ways the most interesting phase of the process. There are no more tea leaves to read, no more wild cards, no more embargoes on the expression of opinion, no more “precursor” awards that could seriously reshape the race. As Hollywood shuts down for a vacation, thousands of Academy voters will watch the contenders — or, more importantly, decide which contenders they feel like watching. And the tectonic shifts that result can be so gradual that you won’t know anything has changed until you realize a couple of weeks from now that a particular movie has somehow lost momentum or pushed forward in the pack.
Two new projects from Terrence Malick now have confirmed titles and casts, but still no plot descriptions. First up will be Lawless, starring Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Rooney Mara; second is Knight of Cups, which brings back Bale and Blanchett, and adds Isabel Lucas. And that’s on top of his next film, which is still untitled and stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Rachel Weisz. One quick theory as to why Malick, who’d made five films since 1973, is now popping ‘em out: he’s finally bored with daytime TV makeover shows? Grade: A [Deadline]
It only took the wordless ninety seconds of the movie’s first trailer — and a big assist from Trent Reznor and Karen O’s massive “Immigrant Song” cover — to eliminate any lingering mass-market-paperback stigma from David Fincher’s prestige makeover of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (The Muppets liked it too: according to their none-too-shabby Dragon Tattoo parody.) And with that out of the way, here comes Trailer No. 2, complete with actual dialogue and plot points. We see Daniel Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist being hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate “the most detestable collection of people that you will ever meet — my family.” There’s Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander, just as unrecognizable from her Social Network days as she was in the advance stills, reluctantly teaming up with Blomkvist to crack open the central murder mystery. And there’s the sepia flashbacks, ominous gravelly voiceovers, explosions, dead bodies, dramatic typing, grisly photos, clues being pointed at, and inevitable heart-pumping fast-cut finale segment. Even if the movie ends up being a disappointment, we at least have this trailer, one of the greatest-ever book commercials.
Terrence Malick is planning on following up his next movie — not May's Tree of Life, which took him 30 years to make, but the Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams one that’s already in post-production — with another mysterious, untitled feature that’ll will pair him with Christian Bale (with whom he worked on The New World). Also in contention for the project, which is said to feature a small cast dominated by its two leads, are Rooney Mara, Haley Bennet, Clemence Poesy, and Mia Wasikowska. Serious question: is Malick on that drug from Limitless? Grade: A [Twitch]
Showtime has orders in for three pilots: Gurland on Gurland, a “first-person documentary” from writer/director Andrew Gurland (Cheaters, The Virginity Hit); Masters of Sex, about sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson; and Ray Donovan, a family dramedy about a "fixer" for L.A. power players with a troubled home life. Can’t wait for the crossover episodes! Grade: C+ [Variety]