The latest edition of Dossier Fantastique offers a post-mortem of this year’s Oscar winners, including GRAVITY with seven awards – a rare feat for a science fiction film.Dan Persons rhapsodizes over Alfonso Cuaron’s win, and Lawrence French defends Spike Jonze Oscar for writing HER.
Later, the Cinefantastique podcasting crew examines the latest home video releases, including THE VISITOR (the 1979 Italian rip-off of THE OMEN, now restored for home video) and TIME OF THE DOCTOR (Matt Smith’s last appearance as the time-travelling Doctor Who, with some great bonus features on DVD and Blu-ray). And Steve Biodrowski runs down the pros and cons of Redbox’s subscription service, which includes a quartet of DVDs a month, plus instant streaming – a good way to catch some otherwise unobtainable horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles.
A story as relevant as yesterday’s headlines, or too late a tale? Some thirty years ago, Cinefantastique hailed Robin Hardy’s THE WICKER MAN as “the CITIZEN KANE of horror,” lauding the Anthony Shaffer-scripted story of a god-fearing police detective trying to solve a mystery within a community of Scottish pagans for its bold eroticism and cunning narrative. Now, Hardy has taken his own novel, Cowboys for Christ, and brought it to the screen as THE WICKER TREE, billing it as a “reimagining” of his original triumph. Cinefantastique Online‘s Steve Biodrowski and Dan Persons take a look at this tale of a couple of present-day evangelical missionaries who find they may have bitten off more than can chew in trying to convert the “heathens” of a Scottish village, and discuss how the film fares in its three-plus decade transition. Plus: Oscar 2012 nominations, and what’s coming to theaters and home video.
This week’s episode of the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast (Volume 2, Episode 8, for those of you keeping count) is even more full of horror, fantasy, and science fiction excitement than usual. Up first, a run down of the the genre’s big winner’s at this year’s Academy Awards, including Rick Baker for THE WOLFMAN’s makeup, Natalia Portman for her role in the artsy horror offering BLACK SWAN, and INCEPTION in numerous technical categories. Then, after the usual round-up of news, events, and home video releases, follow Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski into a new segment of the podcast, titled “The Black Hole Ultra Lounge,” in which you will learn the details of THE HAUNTED and THE UNKNOWN, two rarely seen television pilots scripted and produced by the Joseph Stefano (THE OUTER LIMITS), which recently screened at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. And then listen to Lawrence French recount his sidewalk encounter with STAR WARS mogul George Lucas, while out for a stroll on the streets of San Francisco (not far from where a scene from Hitchcock’s VERTIGO was shot). It’s a week’s worth of epic awesomeness unlike that found in any other podcast, in this galaxy or the next!
Seems that it was a good call, us taking the news portion of The Cinefantastique Podcast and mating it with what had to date been called the CinefantastiquePost-MortemPodcast. Word that Ridley Scott is turning his scheduled ALIEN prequel into a kinda non-prequel puts Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons in a ruminative mood, prompting a discussion of the cursed genre of prequels, followed by a desperate quest for the handful of “early years” follow-ups good enough to merit actual being watched.
Before that, there’ll be news and discussion of upcoming releases, a couple of listener responses to our SEASON OF THE WITCH review, and some thoughts on the nominees for Best Make-Up Oscars. Plus, many, many tangents and asides. Come join us!
Despite multiple nominations, genre films take home only a handful of technical awards.
Going into Sunday evening, the 2010 Academy Awards presentation had ample opportunity to break with their standard tradition of snubbing horror, fantasy, and science fiction films in all but technical categories: two major films, AVATAR and DISTRICT 9, had been nominated not only for Best Picture but also in other top categories, such as Direction and/or Screenplay. However, when the dust settled and the wins counted at the end of the night, it was the same-old story, with cinefantastique shut out of all but a handful of categories: science fiction and fantasy films wound up with a total of six Oscar statues, almost all of them in technical categories:
The genre’s “big” winner was AVATAR, which earned the nod for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects.
UP took home the gold twice, for Animated Feature and for Music
Finally, STAR TREK took home the statue for Makeup.
Genre fans could perhaps take some solace by noting that the evening’s Best Picture winner, THE HURT LOCKER, was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who helmed the effective cult vampire film NEAR DARK back in 1987. Bigelow made history last night by becoming the first female director to win an Oscar.
One towering figure in the realm of horror, fantasy, and science fiction was honored on Oscar night, though not in the way he fully deserved. Producer-director Roger Corman (THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND) was among four winners of a lifetime achievement award. Unfortunately, in its infinite wisdom, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had handed out these awards at a smaller ceremony last November. All we saw last night was a few, short video clips, followed by a brief shot of Corman sitting in the audience (well, at least they invited him to the big show).
For fans of cinefantastique, the highlight of the 2010 ceremony was the tribute to the horror genre. NEW MOON co-stars Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart introduced the segment by noting that horror, although a perennially popular genre, has not been honored by the Oscars since THE EXORCIST took home two statues back in 1974. One could quibble with this factoid (it all depends on whether you include Oscar-winners like ALIEN and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the “horror” genre), but the essential point is a good one.
Below is a complete list of the genre’s winners at the 2010 Academy Awards ceremony:
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Up: Pete Docter
Avatar: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (Art Direction); Kim Sinclair (Set Decoration)
Avatar: Mauro Fiore
Star Trek: Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
Up: Michael Giacchino
Avatar: Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
For the complete list of 2010 Oscar winners, click here.