Not a whole lot of love for genre pictures at the Oscars this year. The Avengers got just one nomination, for Visual Effects, where it was joined by online punching-bag Prometheus. Both of them will probably lose to Life of Pi.
The good news is that some fan-favorite actors scored big. Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress — not for The Hunger Games, but rather for her work in Silver Linings Playbook. She plays a woman suffering from a variety of mental illnesses so who knows, maybe she’ll even win. And though The Dark Knight Rises was shut out, Anne Hathaway got a Supporting Actress nod for playing Fantine in Les Misérables, and she’s pretty much a lock. Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, was also nominated for Les Misérables, but let’s face it, he has no chance.
The Hobbit got three nominations, for Visual Effects, Makeup, and Production Design. Not bad until you remember that the last Middle-earth epic nabbed eleven nominations, and won all of ’em.
Plus we have to mention: John Williams picked up his 48th nomination for Lincoln. Pretty sure that’s a record. And weirdly enough, the Simpsons are now Oscar nominees. Something called Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” is up for Best Animated Short.
At least we can always look forward to making fun of the fashions. This year the Academy Awards air on February 24th.
Edit: Thanks to Pablo for pointing out that new Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy (along with Steven Spielberg) was nominated for producing Lincoln! It’s the front-runner for Best Picture, too.
Awards. The Hugo Award winners were announced at Worldcon this past weekend. Taking Best Novel was Jo Walton’s Among Others, beating out George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons and works by China Miéville, James S. A. Corey and Mira Grant. (Walton also won the Nebula for the book.) Other writing prizes went to Kij Johnson, Charlie Jane Anders, Ken Liu and more.
The dramatic presentation awards went to Game of Thrones S1 and Neil Gaiman for his Doctor Who episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife.’ (Gaiman took the opportunity to announce he’s writing another episode for the show.) Also noteworthy to us, SF Signal winning for Best Fanzine!
Tolkien. With Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit adaption now being three films, the second has been retitled The Desolation of Smaug, with There and Back Again now being the third installment. I fully expect it to contain at least an hour of various slow-motion endings. But seriously, it looks like there was a lot of hints dropped at DragonCon.
The big Hunger Games casting news today is the casting of Amanda Plummer. Plummer, perhaps most familiar as ‘Honey Bunny’ in Pulp Fiction, will be playing the role of Wiress (Nuts,) a previous victor of the Hunger Games and an important ally for Katniss and Peeta in Catching Fire.
Meanwhile, Variety reports that Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Snow White and the Huntsman) is a leading contender for the key role of Finnick. The fan-casting has been pretty contentious for this role, so things may get a bit testy if this pans out.
Variety also highlights some much less-likely-to-be controversial frontrunners: Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) for Mags, and Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub (Monk) for Wiress’ cohort Beetee, aka Volts.
I think Plummer is a great choice, and both Leo and Shalhoub would be fantastic (though Leo is rather young for Mags, who’s supposed to be 80-something) and big gets for the production. Claflin I’m not so sure about – I know that many Hunger Games fans were looking in a different direction. Still, there have been much worse choices in the hat for Finnick.
It’s long been rumored that Lionsgate would follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Twilight: Breaking Dawn, but now it’s official: The adaption of the third Hunger Games book will be two movies, Deadline reports.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will debut on November 21, 2014, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 on November 20, 2015. The second adaption, Catching Fire, is slated for November 22, 2013 and due to begin filming early next year.
Does Mockingjay need two movies? Well, it’s not a huge book, ala Deathly Hallows, but there is quite a bit going on that could be expanded on… As we saw in The Hunger Games, opening the story up beyond Katniss’ immediate point of view gives a more detailed version of the story, and of all the books, Mockingjay may have the most spaces to fill. So while, yes, it’s an obvious money-grubbing, franchise expanding move, it could work out very well.
In other Hunger Games news, Lionsgate yesterday confirmed the first casting for Catching Fire: Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) will play Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker. It’s been reported that Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, Sucker Punch) has been offered the role of Johanna Mason.
Lionsgate has selected Francis Lawrence to helm The Hunger Games sequel, says the The Hollywood Reporter. It’s not a sure thing quite yet – just an offer – but this is quick work for the studio, which failed to come to an agreement with Gary Ross earlier in the month.
Lawrence, no relation to star Jennifer Lawrence, is no stranger to adaptions: He directed Water for Elephants (2011,) I Am Legend (2007,) and the much-lamented Constantine (2005.) More in his favor for the world of Hunger Games may be his work the short-lived NBC drama Kings, aka the TV show that Ian McShane did not swear in.
The internet is eager to speculate on who should fill his shoes, and one name that’s been popping up a lot in my feeds is Kathryn Bigelow, who won the directing Oscar a few years back for The Hurt Locker. She’s no stranger to action (Point Break) or sci-fi (Strange Days) so she might be good fit. The Washington Post’s Jen Chaney has a few other suggestions, including Debra Granik, who directed Jennifer Lawrence in the film that nabbed her an Oscar nomination, Winter’s Bone.
In happier news, one potential conflict to the film has been cleared up. The sequel to X-Men: First Class will begin filming in January, freeing up Lawrence to shoot Catching Fire in the fall as scheduled – assuming a director is on board by then!
The Hunger Games is more than living up to box office speculation: With $155 million, now the third-highest domestic debt of all time, and the first that’s not a sequel. (It came in behind only The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.)
The film is, not surprisingly, drawing in more men than Twilight, with women compromising 61% of the opening weekend crowd. (The audience of the last Twilight film was 80% female.) It’s also doing well across the country – a Utah theater had the weekend’s highest gross.
Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Vote in our poll beneath the cut!