October 03, 2011 10:03pm PT by Scott Feinberg
THE FINISH LINE: Melissa McCarthy's 'SNL' review, Roger Ebert on '50/50,' The Real Billy Beane
Today's recommendations of important, interesting and eccentric stories pertaining to the awards race...
- Los Angeles Times -- Nicole Sperling and Emily Rome note that "the Academy Awards may be five months off, but the race for best foreign language film is well under way," with Monday marking the deadline for countries to submit a film for Oscar consideration. Apparently, 40 films have already been entered into the contest, with others expected to sneak in before the end of the day.
- Hollywood-Elsewhere -- Jeff Wells notes that Lars von Trier's Melancholia had its first big screening at the New York Film Festival on Monday night and fears that the film continue to be overshadowed by the the idiotic remarks made by its director at a press conference following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. (Kirsten Dunst still managed to win the fest's best actress prize but has failed to gain much Oscar traction since then).
- Chicago Sun Times -- Roger Ebert, who has had his own highly publicized battle with cancer, screens 50/50, a dramedy about the dreaded disease, and gives it 3.5 out of 4 stars. Ebert emphasizes, "What I appreciated was the third act. Sitcoms and film comedies in general have a way of going haywire with comic desperation toward the end. This one doesn't. Director Jonathan Levine has established the characters with enough care that the audience is prepared when they reveal greater depth toward the end... 50/50 isn't completely true to life, but the more you know about cancer, the less you want it to be."
- Entertainment Weekly -- Aly Semigran favorably assesses Melissa McCarthy's performance as the host of Saturday Night Live this past weekend, noting that she "gushed -- in the same sweetly genuine way she did when she nabbed her first Emmy a few weeks go -- that she was excited to be hosting the legendary late-night institution and it was something she’d dreamed of her whole life." Semigran adds that the long-shot best supporting actress hopeful for Bridesmaids (who appears on the cover of the current issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine) "committed to every bit with total fearlessness, but more than anything else you could tell she was having fun, and her enthusiasm was felt by anyone who tuned in for last night’s SNL."
- New York Times -- Cade Massey and Bob Tedeschi report that Moneyball, Michael Lewis' 2003 best-selling book "about challenging conventional wisdom with data" that was adapted into a hit film this year, "refuses to shuffle meekly to the remainder bin of public consciousness," and that "a generation of managers ... never really put [it] down. ... These managers are savvier with data and more welcomed in business circles in part because of the book."
- New York Times Magazine -- Adam Sternbergh catches up with Oakland As general manager Billy Beane, who is portrayed by Brad Pitt in the aforementioned Moneyball, and finds that his life after the period portrayed in the film is in some ways better than portrayed (he sits on several corporate boards and is highly in-demand on the motivational speakers circuit) and in other ways worse (the As had a horrible year this year and it seems unlikely that Beane will "win the last game of the season" any time soon).
- Where Magazine -- Marshall Heyman chats with best supporting actress hoepful Naomi Watts about her role as J. Edgar Hoover's secretary in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, which she says is small but good. "It's not a showy, flashy part, but it's a solid one. She's someone with the strenth of her convictions who stands by her words -- a woman in a man's world." Watts said that when Eastwood offers an actor a chance to appear in one of his films, "whether it's a walk-on or a tour de force role, you just have to
- Interview Magazine -- Michael Almeyeyda, a filmmaker who has collaborated with Sam Shepard on two film projects, Hamlet (2000) and This So-Called Disaster (2003), interviews the long-shot best actor contender for Blackthorn -- who was last Oscar-nominated 28 years ago! -- about his life and work.
- Anchor Bay Films, the little studio that handled the Michael Douglas vehicle Solitary Man last Oscar season, has sent out DVD screeners of its film Beautiful Boy, which played at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, was released in theaters this June, and, like the higher-profile We Need to Talk About Kevin, focuses on a parent (or parents) struggling to face the future in the aftermath of a school killing committed by her (or their) child.