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Thompson on Hollywood

Consolata Boyle Talks 'Philomena' Costume Design

For Dublin native Consolata Boyle, designing the costumes for the fact-based "Philomena" -- her seventh collaboration with director Stephen Frears -- took on special significance. Certainly it's a powerful story about a mother's search for her long-lost son, amid the appalling revelation of forced adoptions in Ireland. But its greatest artistic appeal came from the witty "Odd Couple" pairing of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 31, 2013 6:32 PM
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Craft Talking '12 Years a Slave': The Contrast of Horror and Beauty

The visual power of "12 Years a Slave" derives from a juxtaposition of horror and beauty that director Steve McQueen calls "Goya-esque." It immerses us in the totality of Solomon Northup's experience, a brutal inhumanity that nonetheless took place on gorgeous plantations. Production designer Adam Stockhausen, cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, costume designer Patricia Norris, and editor Joe Walker collaborated on this rich tapestry, which has helped make "12 Years a Slave" the best picture Oscar frontrunner.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 27, 2013 2:42 PM
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'Her' Designers Barrett and Storm Talk Creating Warm, Retro Look

Turns out that red is not only the warmest color in Spike Jonze's Oscar-contending "Her," but that there was no room for blue in this cozy LA of the near future. That's because the world building was retro rather than futuristic in exploring the conflict between emotion and environment, according to K.K. Barrett and Casey Storm, the director's longtime production designer and costume designer.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 24, 2013 2:50 PM
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EXCLUSIVE: Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass Talk Powerful Final Scene from 'Captain Phillips' (VIDEO)

Tom Hanks has never been as emotionally naked as in the final five minutes of "Captain Phillips." It's a powerful catharsis after the harrowing ordeal with the Somali pirates, made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was unscripted and improvised with the actual medic on duty in the infirmary (Danielle Albert). I dissected the memorable scene with Hanks and director Paul Greengrass (watch below). The performance and film are generating Oscar buzz.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 20, 2013 4:27 PM
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  • 6 Comments

Alexandre Desplat Talks Embracing Humor Through Music in 'Philomena' Score

Composer Alexandre Desplat has never scored a comedy before and, although one wouldn't call "Philomena" a comedy, he nonetheless found the witty repartee between Judi Dench and Steve Coogan a lighter change of pace in crafting the music for his fifth collaboration with director Stephen Frears.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 18, 2013 2:10 PM
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Weta's Joe Letteri Talks Animating the Smaug Dragon for 'The Hobbit'

Peter Jackson's well-received second "Hobbit" movie, "The Desolation of Smaug," contains a greater variety of VFX. But, of course, the centerpiece for Weta Digital is Smaug (voiced with menace and charm by Benedict Cumberbatch), the best CG-animated dragon ever created and sure to make a great impression at the Academy bakeoff.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 13, 2013 2:20 PM
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Craft Talking 'Saving Mr. Banks': Bridging 1961 Los Angeles with 1906 Australia through Cinematography, Production Design and Costumes

Like "Mary Poppins," "Saving Mr. Banks" seems deceptively simple on the surface. But once you dig deeper, the story resonates as a brilliant memory piece for Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers, slipping back and forth from her painful childhood in Australia in 1906 to cooperating and subverting the adaptation of her beloved novel with Walt Disney in 1961. And that was the creative hook for director John Lee Hancock and his fellow filmmakers, including production designer Michael Corenblith, cinematographer John Schwartzman, and costume designer Daniel Orlandi.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 11, 2013 2:20 PM
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Ten Visual Effects Movies Made It to Oscar Shortlist, More Got Robbed

Here's why the ten visual effects Oscar frontrunners landed on the Shortlist. Who will make the final five? Only the January 9 bakeoff will tell.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 5, 2013 6:37 PM
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  • 5 Comments

New York Film Critics' Cinematography Winner Delbonnel Goes 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

Given the evocative look and setting of the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," it's not surprising that Bruno Delbonnel snagged the cinematography award yesterday from the New York Film Critics Circle. He exquisitely captures the coldness, sadness, unhappiness, and loneliness of Oscar Isaac's struggling folk singer in Greenwich Village of '61.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 4, 2013 2:16 PM
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Composer Nicholas Britell Talks the Powerful Spiritual-Field Songs in '12 Years a Slave'

Composer Nicholas Britell ("Gimme the Loot") provides a powerful musical accompaniment for Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" with a series of spiritual-field songs and stringed waltzes (which are currently available on the Columbia Records soundtrack). These originals and recreations enable us to better understand and appreciate the rich musical heritage that sprung from such inhumanity.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • November 29, 2013 2:20 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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