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Screen Grabs - List Mania

Everyone's making a list and checking it twice. A roundup of awards season updates, noteworthy critics' picks, Oscar prognosticating, festival news, and more.

Screen Grabs

A Roundup of the Week in Film and Moving Image

List Mania

You better watch out, because this time of year it isn't just portly, bearded men in red suits who are making lists and checking them twice—it's just about everyone who earns a living in the film industry, and plenty of people who don't. Last weekend, five major critics groups—the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Online, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Washington, DC, Area Film Critics Association, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association—opined on the past year's best in show, with the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood emerging as favorites. Meanwhile, the Broadcast Film Critics Association handed out nominations for the Critics Choice Awards, scheduled for January 7, giving lots of love to No Country as well as Into the Wild and Juno. The Hollywood Foreign Press gets into the act tomorrow, when it will announce the 2008 Golden Globe nominations (that ceremony takes place January 13).

All this end-of-year awards activity has lots of people reading the tea leaves for ghosts of Oscars future, though it's an open question whether there will even be a 2008 Oscar telecast, given the protracted nature of the writers' strike (it's scheduled for February 24). Meanwhile, Time's Richard Corliss asks whether this flurry of list-making and awarding amounts to more than idle chatter, wondering if critics' picks amount to a kind of affirmative action program for films that Joe Moviegoer couldn't care less about.

Maybe so, but that didn't stop Corliss' magazine from offering a pair of best-movie lists in its current issue, which it devoted to itemizing the Top 10 of everything in 2007 (50 lists in all). New York magazine did something similar, allowing critic David Edelstein to name his own unique bests, like "Best Sex Scenes That Pose No Risk to Your Health" (for TFF '07 film Lady Chatterley). Over in the UK, the writers at the Guardian also weighed in on the year's 20 best (they liked Anton Corbijn's Control), while the folks at the prestigious film magazine Sight and Sound offered 10 arty titles to chew over, topped by the acclaimed Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Moving on to slightly more esoteric lists, there was the announcement of eight titles in competition at next February's Berlin Film Festival (There Will Be Blood again, alongside the latest from Errol Morris). Winners were announced at the Cairo and Tbilisi festivals, amid concern over the rampant proliferation of new festivals. Ang Lee's Lust, Caution cleaned up at the Golden Horse awards, Taiwan's equivalent to the Oscars, while A Walk into Beautiful, about women's health issues in Ethiopia, unexpectedly took Best Feature Documentary at the International Documentary Association Awards. And in Hollywood, the annual Black List, compiling the year's hottest unproduced screenplays, circulated, while Entertainment Weekly proffered a list of Hollywood's best minds.

Then there's the endless list of people who feel their public comments have been taken out of context. Knocked Up star Katherine Heigl joined it this week, after a throwaway remark about sexism in the summer's big comedy sparked a disproportionate amount of attention. So did Frances Ford Coppola, who backed off the critical observations about Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Jack Nicholson he made in last month's GQ. And speaking of Jack, he figures in another list—Rob Reiner's new film, The Bucket List, out Christmas Day. You've probably seen the trailer, which ends with Nicholson declaring, with that patented Nicholsonian smirk, "Nobody cares what you think." As the lists come raining down, this is advice you might keep in mind if you're thinking about assembling a list of your own.

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