The art of trying to get Oscar’s attention

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I have posted a number of Oscar-related tidbits lately, which perhaps makes it seem as if I am an awards obsessive. I don’t think that’s the case, but I do love the season. It is full of hype, hyperbole, foolishness, and catastrophe, and it generally ends with the wrong films being honored.

Many greats get lost in the shuffle, and here is a fun site that documents a bunch: “This Had Oscar Buzz.”

You can also spot many coulda-been-a-contenders in these “for your consideration” galleries from Awards Daily. The artwork for many of these ads is striking, and often superior to what was actually used in advertisements for the films.

Of course, sometimes the Academy gets it right — see the above ad, for the Trent Reznor-Atticus Finch score for Fincher’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

“Gone Girl” is an Apt Pick for Fincher, and Should Make Rosamund Pike a Star

2013 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals

As I discussed a few weeks ago, David Fincher’s post-“Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” big-screen follow-up was in doubt for some time. Sure, he was involved with the Netflix series “House of Cards,” but his next feature was thought to be “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

But now, “Leagues” is officially sunk, “Dragon Tattoo” follow-up “The Girl Who Played With Fire” is getting a rewrite (and perhaps a new director), and Fincher has moved on to an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s massive bestseller, “Gone Girl.”

Ironically, I was in the middle of reading the book when the news came out, and after finishing it, I can say with confidence that this is a smart move for the “Seven” and “Social Network” filmmaker.

“Gone Girl” is an involving, twisty treat that just so happens to be an enormous commercial success. Yet it’s also a dark drama, a thriller that is takes its characters to the brink of oblivion. Quite honestly, I was surprised at just how dark things became.

Sounds like a Fincher movie, right? Let’s take a look at the cast.

Amy Dunne — Rosamund Pike: Brilliant choice. I just saw Pike in “The World’s End” and not too long ago in “Jack Reacher,” and she seems ideal — tough, pretty, smart. Amy is an incredibly complex character (and how), and I applaud Fincher for going with Pike, a slightly less well-known actress who will run with the part.

Nick Dunne — Ben Affleck: The Oscar-winning star and director of “Argo” is a bit older than the character in the book — Nick was said to be younger than Amy — but is a fine choice. I found it hard to picture anyone but Bradley Cooper, but Affleck has the charm required.

Supporting: Nick’s sister Go is probably the biggest role after Amy and Nick, and she is a colorful, funny character. While there is not much of a resemblance to Affleck, I imagined Sarah Silverman (yep), who was quite good in “Take This Waltz.” The role is a bit small for Kristen Wiig, but she is the kind of actress who would fit nicely. Siena Miller could do it, as could Rebecca Hall.

Interestingly, Neil Patrick Harris was mentioned as a possible member of the supporting cast, and he seems an ideal choice for Amy’s creepy ex-boyfriend Desi. Tyler Perry (!) was brought up as well, perhaps as the main male detective.

The other largest role is probably Nick’s flashy attorney, Tanner Bolt, and this is the role Buffalo’s William Fichtner was born to play.

Other major roles include Amy’s writer parents, the main female detective, Desi’s mother, and Amy’s friend Noelle.

Fincher always excels at casting, so I have no doubt things will fill out nicely. I don’t think I would call “Gone Girl” Oscar bait, but I would expect this to be a major film, and a star-making role for Rosamund Pike.

If you do read it, and the first couple hundred pages do not grab you … Just wait. It will, and soon.

Photo from Hollywood Reporter story; Getty Images

David Fincher Returns … With a Lovely Calvin Klein Commercial Starring Rooney Mara

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At some point in the last decade, probably around the release of “Zodiac,” David Fincher became one of my favorite filmmakers. I had always found his work compelling, even “Alien 3,” but it was that 70s-set mind-F epic that truly knocked me over. Since that film, I liked “Benjamin Button,” really liked “The Social Network,” and loved “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

“Dragon Tattoo” is a film that demands reevaluation; I still believe it was not given a fair shake critically, and was released at an insanely bad time (the holidays). What even the haters will agree on is that it was a star-making role for Rooney Mara, an actress who embodied the heroine of Stieg Larsson’s book (like Noomi Rapace did), but added a level of fragility that was positively mesmerizing.

Her performance is, I think, one of modern cinema’s finest, and it made me a swooning-Rooney-ite.

Mara went on to “Side Effects” and the upcoming “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” while Fincher turned to the Netflix series “House of Cards” as producer and occasional director. But what about big-screen Fincher?

The answer finally came this week, as it was finally announced that he would direct an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” I am currently reading the massive bestseller, and while it has not completely grabbed me yet, I can see why it appeals to the director. If he’s looking for a commercial slam-dunk, this is it. And now that he has inked Ben Affleck? Even better. It will be interesting to see who is cast as the female lead; while still early in the book, I see it as a Jessica Chastain/Amy Adams type.

“Gone Girl” is an exciting choice, but that’s now surprise; check out the many interesting projects Fincher supposedly had percolating:

  • “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”: An odd choice, to be sure, but a fascinating. The latest, sadly, is that Brad Pitt has passed on this oft-delayed movie. That’s a bit of a surprise, and one wonders if this may sink the whole project.
  • “The Girl Who Played With Fire”: As a “Dragon Tattoo” fan, I am hoping this is next, but it is unlikely to be the case. And if it is, it is hard to know whether Fincher will be behind the camera. There were recent rumors that Daniel Craig was holding things up with salary demands, although there is no confirmation that this is indeed the case.
  • “Utopia”: News just broke that Fincher may be developing an American version of this U.K. series.

The finest recent example of Fincher’s talents might just be this drop-dead-gorgeous black-and-white Calvin Klein commercial starring one Rooney Mara. It is a stunner, and a reminder of his commercial roots. He seems to bring something truly entrancing out of Mara, and perhaps the finest praise one can give this TV spot is that it makes me hungry to see them work together again. Like, now. Is it too late to throw her name in the mix for “Gone Girl”?

 

Image: © Calvin Klein