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Angelina Jolie Political Film Leads to Controversy & PGA Award + Best Animated Feature Oscar Contender Disqualified

Angelina Jolie In the Land of Blood and Honey director: Bosnian War movie mostly bypassed by criticsAngelina Jolie In the Land of Blood and Honey director. Best known as the star of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, opposite Brad Pitt, and Wanted, opposite James McAvoy, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl Interrupted, 1999) has made her directorial feature film debut with the Bosnian War drama In the Land of Blood and Honey. A year-end release, the film apparently has gone unseen by some (most?) critics groups; that may help to explain why In the Land of Blood and Honey has been all but completely bypassed by U.S. film critics this awards season. Even so – in no small part thanks to director Angelina Jolie's stellar name – the effort, with dialogue in Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian (all three are variations of the linguistic combo known as Serbo-Croatian), definitely has a chance of landing a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Angelina Jolie Bosnian War drama angers some Serbs & wins Producers Guild Award

Some Serbians may be furious at Angelina Jolie and her first directorial effort, the Bosnian War drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, but the Producers Guild of America feels differently.

Jolie's politically/socially conscious film has been named the recipient of this year's Stanley Kramer Award, given to “a motion picture, producer or other individual, whose achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion.”

Set in 1990s Sarajevo, In the Land of Blood and Honey tells the story of a Bosnian woman (Zana Marjanovic) held captive and used as a sex slave at a Serbian prison camp while her former lover (Goran Kostic) is fighting on the side of the Serbs.

In the words of Producers Guild co-presidents Hawk Koch and Mark Gordon, as quoted in a PGA press release, In the Land of Blood and Honey “is an extraordinary film that portrays a complex love story set against the terrors of the Bosnian War, especially towards women. This film truly embraces the legacy of Stanley Kramer.”

The film's producers are Angelina Jolie, Tim Headington, Graham King, and Tim Moore.

No awards season favorite

So far, In the Land of Blood and Honey has been all but ignored by the various U.S.-based critics' groups that have already named their Best of 2011.

Of course, it's possible that Angelina Jolie's movie hasn't been made as widely available to critics as, for instance, late-year releases such as David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, both of which major studio fare that have recently managed to get several nods from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

With dialogue in Serbo-Croatian and English subtitles, In the Land of Blood and Honey opens in the U.S. on Dec. 23.

The 2012 PGA Awards ceremony will be held next Jan. 21 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Stanley Kramer

Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl Interrupted, 1999) is one of the biggest movie stars of the early 21st century thanks to critical and/or box office hits such as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Changeling (which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination), Wanted, Salt, and, internationally, The Tourist.

But … who was Stanley Kramer?

Stanley Kramer was a post-World War II producer and later also director whose films usually put forward humanistic ideas in a crowd-pleasing manner.

As a producer/director, two of his best were Inherit the Wind (1960), about the Scopes Trial that pitted radical Christians against secularism and the theory of evolution, and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), about the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. Both earned Spencer Tracy Best Actor Oscar nominations. (Tracy's fellow Judgment at Nuremberg star Maximilian Schell was the eventual 1961 winner.)

Kramer's biggest box office hit was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), which featured the last screen pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn – as the wealthy, (generally) open-minded San Francisco parents of a young woman (Hepburn's real-life niece Katharine Houghton) whose husband-to-be is Sidney Poitier.

The most notable Stanley Kramer-produced (but not -directed) movies are both Fred Zinnemann efforts: The Men (1950), about returning World War II veterans and Marlon Brando's film debut, and the Western High Noon, which earned lone small-town sheriff Gary Cooper his second Best Actor Oscar.

I Saw the Devil trailer: Kim Jee-woon's South Korean thriller stars Lee Byung-hun as a National Intelligence Service avenger and Choi Min-sik a demented serial killer.

Houston Film Critics surprise: Korean thriller tops

In other awards season news, Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey didn't win any upset awards from the Houston Film Critics Society. Kim Jee-woon's thriller I Saw the Devil, however, did.

Starring Blue Dragon Award nominee Lee Byung-hun as a National Intelligence Service agent determined to avenge the gory death of his fiancée at the hands of a serial killer, I Saw the Devil was the Houston Film Critics' (really) surprising Best Foreign Language Film of 2011.

A couple of nominations notwithstanding, I Saw the Devil, a 2010 release in its native South Korea, has been invariably bypassed by U.S.-based critics groups.

Most other Houston Film Critics winners were more anticipated names, e.g., Best Picture for Alexander Payne's critics' fave The Descendants, Best Actor for Michael Fassbender for Shame, and Best Supporting Actor for Albert Brooks, cast against type as a mobster in Drive, directed by Houston's (admittedly, unexpected) winner Nicolas Winding Refn.

Update: Coincidentally – and more than a bit surprisingly – I Saw the Devil has also topped another Texas-based film critics group, the Austin Film Critics Association.

See below the full list of Houston Film Critics winners.

Houston Film Critics winners

Best Picture: The Descendants.

Best Foreign Language Film: I Saw the Devil.

Best Actor: Michael Fassbender, Shame.

Best Actress: Tilda SwintonWe Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive.

Best Supporting Actress: Shailene WoodleyThe Descendants.

Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive.

Best Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants.

Best Animated Film: Rango.

Best Documentary: Project Nim.

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life.

Best Original Score: Ludovic BourceThe Artist.

Best Original Song: “Life's a Happy Song” from The Muppets, music & lyrics by Bret McKenzie.

Best Technical Achievement: Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Worst Film of the Year: Your Highness.

The Smurfs Katy Perry: Smurfette voice in film debut disqualified for the Best Animated Feature OscarThe Smurfs with Katy Perry providing the voice for the blonde, blue-bodied Smurfette. Directed by Raja Gosnell, The Smurfs marks Katy Perry's narrative feature film debut – even though the “Thinking of You” and “Waking Up in Vegas” singer can be heard but not seen in this mix of live action and animation. There was a chance that Perry's film debut would land a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination, but The Smurfs has since been disqualified by the Academy. Budgeted at a reported $110 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses), The Smurfs collected a relatively disappointing $142.64 million in the U.S. and Canada; internationally, however, it has been a huge blockbuster, grossing $421.13 million.

'The Smurfs' disqualified from Best Animated Feature Oscar?

More awards season news…

First the Golden Globes, now the Academy Awards. According to TheWrap's Steve Pond, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has removed Raja Gosnell's international box office hit The Smurfs from the list of Best Animated Feature Oscar contenders.

A live action/animation hybrid in which tiny blue creatures that sound like Katy Perry, Paul Reubens, and Jonathan Winters frolic about with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, and Sofia Vergara, The Smurfs has apparently not met the Academy's qualification requirement that “a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture's running time.”

Seventeen animated films are still in the running, which means that there'll be five Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Feature of 2011. That is, unless there are two more disqualifications and the list of contenders falls below 16. In that case, only three movies would receive a nomination.

Still in the race are, among others:

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' box office reunion

In other, non-awards season news… An unexpected, three-pronged The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo family reunion will be taking place at the North American box office on Tuesday evening, Dec. 20, when David Fincher's Swedish-set American remake (go figure) of Niels Arden Oplev's mystery thriller opens at 7 p.m.

That's because in addition to Fincher's thriller, we have the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo leading man Michael Nyqvist supporting Tom Cruise in Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and the dragon-tattooed girl herself, Noomi Rapace, supporting Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Coincidentally, both movies opened at midnight Thursday, Dec. 15/16.

Here's wondering which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo connection will top the North American box office during the Christmas holiday.

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' 2011 cast

Distributed by Sony Pictures, the new The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo features the following:

Rooney Mara. Daniel Craig. Stellan Skarsgård. Robin Wright. Goran Visnjic. Steven Berkoff. Geraldine James. Joely Richardson. Julian Sands.

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Christopher Plummer (The Last Station, 2009), who, for his portrayal of Ewan McGregor's gay father in Mike Mills' Beginners, also happens to be a shoo-in in that same category for the 2012 Oscars.

 

Houston Film Critics Society winners via Film Misery.

Zana Marjanovic In the Land of Blood and Honey image: Dean Semler / FilmDistrict.

Neil Patrick Harris The Smurfs image: K.C. Bailey / Sony Pictures.

I Saw the Devil trailer with Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik: Showbox/Mediaplex.


         
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2 Comments to Angelina Jolie Political Film Leads to Controversy & PGA Award + Best Animated Feature Oscar Contender Disqualified

  1. Elizabeth

    A good movie should anger people, especially people who are afraid to take a look at themselves. When people start making a big fuss and threaten to boycott, or to ban a movie then that only helps to strengthen the movie's power - most people have learned that by now.

  2. Guest

    It's not so much that it's been “ignored” by the critics groups… the critics groups for the most part haven't seen it! Some of them has said as much, that many members did not get a chance to screen the film before the voting. I'm surprised the studio managed to get it into contention for these.