I'm a regular guest on MemphiSport Live on Sports56/87.7 FM, appearing on the last Saturday of the month to discuss movies and TV and whatnot.
Once a year is the best hour of radio in Memphis, if I may be so bold: The MSL Oscar Handicapping Special. This last weekend was that glorious celebration, during which Kevin and I and co-host Marcus Hunter talked movies, Erik Jambor from Indie Memphis talked about the festival and upcoming events, ABC News anchor Joy Lambert talked about Hollywood for the House, and Memphis Oscar-winner, Frayser Boy, gave out some great trivia from the annals of Oscar history.
Everybody else: The Oscars nominations will be announced tomorrow morning! (!!!!!)
Back in August I predicted what the Best Picture category would look like.
2014 Best Picture Oscar Nominee Predictions 2.0 (In order of certainty):
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Saving Mr. Banks
Inside Llewyn Davis
Dallas Buyers Club
Other three I can't pull the trigger on:
August: Osage County
Note that the Academy could nominate between 5 and 10 films for Best Picture.
The nominations will be announced Thursday, January 16, at 7:38 a.m. on ABC.
UPDATE: The Academy only went nine deep in the category. (Which is stupid; since the awards are just another marketing tool for movies, maximize the exposure you can provide.)
I missed on Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks, and Philomena made it in when I thought it wouldn't. I had it ranked 11th.
The Oscars air Sunday, March 2nd, on ABC. (Squee!)
Man Is Wolf to Man
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is not only his best film in nearly two decades, it reminds me why I fell so hard for Scorsese’s movies (and movies in general) in the first place. Like Casino (1995) and Goodfellas (1990), Wolf is an exuberant biopic/amorality play about an ambitious, charming cad who figures out that a life of simple pleasures and modest means is for suckers and decides he’s gonna do something about it.
Memphis is premiering at Sundance in January. Here's Sundance's page for the film, which includes this description:
A strange singer with God-given talent drifts through his adopted city of Memphis with its canopy of ancient oak trees, streets of shattered windows, and aura of burning spirituality. Surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolf pack of kids, the sweet, yet unstable, performer avoids the recording studio, driven by his own form of self-discovery. His journey quickly drags him from love and happiness right to the edge of another dimension.
Writer/director Tim Sutton crafts an impressionistic folktale framed around the enigmatic musician/poet Willis Earl Beal and the city of Memphis. Adding a new legend to the city’s rich history, Memphis is an elusive document of myth-making and the sources that feed those myths. Similar to his first feature, Pavilion, Sutton blurs the lines between fiction and reality, taking the audience to a wholly contemporary dreamlike world, bolstered by Chris Dapkin’s sublime camera and a driving blues soundtrack by Beal.
The cast includes Memphis musicians John Gary Williams and Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays.
Indiewire has more.
Trailer after the jump:
Jeff Nichols, brother of Lucero's Ben Nichols, was nominated for Best Director for his work on Mud which was made not too far away in Arkansas and released in Memphis this past spring. Mud is also the winner of the Robert Altman Award for it's director, casting director, and cast.
Short Term 12, which premiered at and won Indie Memphis' Best Narrative Feature Audience Award, received 3 Indie Spirit nominations, including for Best Female Lead (Brie Larson), Best Supporting Male (Keith Stanfield), and Best Editing.
And Nebraska, which also got it's regional premier at Indie Memphis a few weeks, ago, received 6 Indie Spirit nomination, including for Best Feature, Best Director (Alexander Payne), Best Male Lead (Bruce Dern), Best Supporting Female (June Squibb), Best Supporting Male (Will Forte), and Best First Screenplay (Bob Nelson). Nebraska is scheduled for wide release in Memphis on December 22nd.
Finally, The Act of Killing is nominated for Best Documentary. The film had an exclusive screening in October at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
See the full list of Indie Spirit nominees at the bottom.
Additional reading, Memphis Flyer reviews:
12 Years a Slave
All is Lost
The Spectacular Now
Dallas Buyers Club
The Act of Killing
Blue is the Warmest Color
The film stars Reese Witherspoon as Pam Dobbs, mother of murder victim Stevie Branch. Colin Firth is Ron Lax, a Memphis private investigator who assisted the defense of the West Memphis Three. (Note: the real Ron Lax died just a month ago of brain cancer.)
No release date has been set for the film.
After the jump is the trailer:
Electronic musician Luis van Seixas is doing some cool electronic/industrial stuff at the Brooks on Thursday, Nov. 7th.
Last night, to close out the festivities, Indie Memphis gave out awards for the best of the fest. Winners are listed below. Many of the awards included cash prizes, and they all received a lovely trophy designed by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo.
Best Narrative Feature Award ($1,000 cash prize)
It Felt Like Love (director: Eliza Hittman)
Duncan-Williams Scriptwriting Award ($1,000 cash prize presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc.)
See You Next Tuesday (writer/director: Drew Tobia)
Hometowner Award, Narrative Feature ($1,000 cash prize presented by the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission)
Being Awesome (director: Allen C. Gardner)
Hometowner Award, Narrative Short ($500 cash prize presented by the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission)
John's Farm (director: Melissa Sweazy
Hometowner Award, Documentary Short ($500 cash prize presented by the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission)
Bookin' (director: John Kirkscey
Short Films #5, 12:15 p.m., Studio on the Square
I Wanted To Make a Movie About a Beautiful and Tragic Memphis (Laura Jean Hocking, 14 min.)
Sunday starts strong with this film by Memphis' Laura Jean Hocking. The short contains images of the filmmaker's past and of Memphis — empty lots, derelict buildings, and other things that used to be. Music by Jimi Inc. overlaps.
Hocking shares, "I am a romantic" and "Memphis is hard to love" and "Love is like sabotage and Memphis self-sabotages" and "Why would I love a place like this?" The answer, the narrative suggests, is tied up in Hocking's emergence from her own difficult experiences.
It is beautiful. — Greg Akers
One Today (Lara Johnson, 6 min.), 10:45 a.m., Playhouse on the Square, screens before Orange Mound, Tennessee
Lara Johnson directs this short that features the reading of Richard Blanco's poem "One Today," which was the 2013 inaugural poem for President Barack Obama. The narration is provided by Zach Pless, and the accompanying visuals are of scenes that document workdays and nights in Memphis. — Greg Akers
Orange Mound, Tennessee: America's Community begins with an a cappella performance of "My Soul's Been Anchored" by the Melrose High School choir. This is followed by a visual history lesson on the neighborhood.
The area was once a plantation owned by John Deaderick in the 1820s. In the mid-1890s, real estate developer Elzey Eugene Meacham purchased the land and divided it into small, narrow lots and marketed them exclusively to African Americans.
The area became the first African-American neighborhood in the United States to also be built by African Americans; residents constructed shotgun-style houses on the lots that were sold to them by Meacham. These homes would go on to house generations of families. And many of these families built and owned their own properties, churches, and schools in Orange Mound.
Other facts, such as how the neighborhood earned the moniker Orange Mound, are highlighted in the documentary. (The area boasted countless Osage orange trees during its early days.)
Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum, National Civil Rights Museum president Beverly Robertson, and University of Memphis professor Charles Williams are among those who make appearances in Orange Mound, Tennessee.
Amido makes sure to not only focus on the positive attributes of Orange Mound but also the less fortunate characteristics as well. The documentary explores how the neighborhood went from being one of Memphis' most thriving areas economically to one of its most impoverished and crime-ridden. This is largely attributed to many of its residents migrating to other areas of the city during the civil rights era, which left a void in the sense of community that Orange Mound once enjoyed.
A solid effort to say the least, Amido does an excellent job of capturing the meat and potatoes of what the documentary form can entail and the message that's most significant: Orange Mound is an area with a rich history, unique culture, and strong sense of community. — Louis Goggans
Check back in this space Saturday and Sunday for Flyer recommendations for those days' events.
The Onion Innovation Conversation (Mike McAvoy, 60 min.), 4:15 p.m., Indie Talks at Playhouse on the Square, free.
Mike McAvoy, the president of the family of multimedia platforms that include The Onion, arguably the funniest thing on the internet daily, and The Onion A.V. Club, arguably the best film/music/TV/other entertainment site on the internet, discusses content marketing. — Greg Akers
August: Osage County (John Wells 130 min.), 6:15 p.m., Playhouse on the Square
I'll risk the hyperbole. In its original dramatic form, Tracy Letts' August: Osage County stands up alongside the works of playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard, and Arthur Miller. It is one of the greatest American family tragedies ever written, with a little something guaranteed to offend everybody: marital infidelity, incest, child molestation, Eric Clapton records, fibs, lies, falsehoods, etc. In spite of the unsavory ingredients, this dish comes together like apple pie — crusty, sweet at the center, and full of spice.
Set in Oklahoma during a blazing hot summer just before and after the drowning suicide of the Weston family patriarch, Letts' drama plays out like a middle-class King Lear but with a stronger focus on the female characters and the legacies of dysfunctional relationships. The story gets darker and darker at every turn, but Letts' breezy dialogue and his ability to find screwball humor and unforced slapstick in crisis and ensuing chaos is what makes him such an exciting voice for the theater and film.
The much-buzzed film adaptation was helmed by producer/director John Wells, with Letts adapting his own script. It features an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, and the aforementioned Shepard. — Chris Davis
Though it's Halloween, have no fear. The Memphis Flyer is here to help guide you through the festival. Start by reading the Flyer's cover story on Indie Memphis here. Then check here on Sing All Kinds each day for recommendations on that day's schedule. — Greg Akers
Headlining the program is Mike McAvoy, president of Onion, Inc., the satire news organization that wins the Internet on a daily basis. Saturday will feature a discussion on digitizing Ernest Withers' extensive photographic archive, a forum on childhood obesity and media culture with experts from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, and Michael Jordan vs. Charlie Sheen, presented by Rembert Browne of Grantland.
All Innovation programs are free and open to the public.
Now would also be an opportune time to take a look at the Indie Memphis schedule, which is filling out with some great classic film screenings, parties, and food events. There's also a nifty bike share program to provide wheels to festival attendees.
The full lineup from Indie Memphis is below:
Indie Memphis runs Thursday, October 31st, to Sunday, November 3rd, featuring more than 45 feature films screening at locations including Malco's Studio on the Square, Playhouse on the Square, and Circuit Playhouse, and many filmmakers and actors will appear in Q&A sessions.
Some of the highlights of the festival include: