In this morning's roundup of Oscar news 'n' notes from around the web, Pacino comes out for Bardem, and a new breed of directors take aim at Oscar.
The Carpetbagger goes to a party for "Biutiful," and learns something we wrote about a couple of weeks ago: lots of famous people love the movie. The famous people at this particular screening and/or party included Al Pacino, Claire Danes, Patricia Clarkson, Greta Gerwig, Holly Hunter and singers Alicia Keys and Antony Hegarty. "There is no antidote to a difficult movie like beautiful people," Melena Ryzik writes … though I'm reasonably certain that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu doesn't think that his movie needs an antidote. (The Carpetbagger)
There's a new breed in town, says Nicole Sperling. She's talking about a group of directors "who have become filmmaking forces over the past two decades," and a group she thinks could fill the Oscars' Best Director category this year: Danny Boyle ("127 Hours"), David Fincher ("The Social Network"), David O. Russell ("The Fighter"), Darren Aronofsky (left, "Black Swan") and the Coen Brothers ("True Grit"). I'm sure Tom Hooper and Lisa Cholodenko and a few others will have something to say about that, but she finds them an irresistible group because all of them (well, except Fincher) "emerged from … the indie world of filmmaking." (Awards Tracker)
Jeff Wells is getting angry at critics who don't like "the mad theatrical flamboyance and fatalistic delirium" of "Black Swan" – and when Jeff gets angry, those words start to flow. In a lecture directed at those who find the Darren Aronofsky film a little too crazy (which I suppose now includes theWrap's Leah Rozen), he explains the roots of the story in the Russian folk tale that inspired the original ballet, and says that craziness is the whole point. His conclusion sums it up nicely, and I completely agree: "'Black Swan' is supposed … to be fanciful, passionate, wacko, extreme, imaginary, loony. It wants to get in your blood." (Hollywood Elsewhere)
Even before a shortlist narrows the field to seven in the Academy's Best Visual Effects category – and long before a nominating committee will determine the final five – Gerard Kennedy is pretty sure he knows who the nominees (and, for that matter, the winner) will be. "Inception," he thinks, is the first sure nominee and the likely winner, followed by "Alice in Wonderland," "Iron Man 2," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" and "Tron: Legacy." He thinks the field drops off sharply after that. Is he underestimating the way "Black Swan" manipulates reflections in the mirrors present in nearly every scene, or how "The Social Network" turns Armie Hammer into two separate people? Probably not. (In Contention)
Anne Thompson looks at the National Board of Review results, and points out, "The NBR is not always a forecaster of things to come, but rather a bellwether of where the momentum is at this moment in time." But she thinks a few movies could have used help that they just didn't get from NBR, among them "127 Hours," "Black Swan," "The Kids Are All Right," "Rabbit Hole" and "The Way Back." (Thompson on Hollywood