August 30, 2015
        "Carol": Looking at potential Best Adapted Screenplay Hollywood Contender                What were the Ten Best summer releases of 2015?                Eddie Redmayne: The Danish Girl / Official US Poster                Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep: SUFFRAGETTE New Poster                Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowland to Receive Academy's 2015 Governors Awards                Johnny Depp, Leo DiCaprio - Which acting contenders this year are most due for their first win?                "Joy" is the latest Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell project in the Oscar hunt                "Straight Outta Compton" is making the case for Oscar consideration                "The Martian": Oscar predictions for August                Rooney Mara: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders                Bradley Cooper will heat up the Oscar race in "Burnt"                "Carol" gets a Teaser that firmly puts Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the Oscar race                Carey Mulligan is an Oscar contender                Hollywood Contenders for 2015 Best Actor: Leo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Fassbender                Hollywood Contenders: 2015 Best Movie Blockbusters: Jurassic World, Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Fast & Furious 7...        

Articles By: Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print (‘The Washington Post,’ ‘USA Today’) and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN’s Citysearch) since 1996. He’s a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O’Connell Association (SEFCA).

“Mirror Mirror” trailer takes comical approach to Snow White

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Once upon a time, rival Snow White pictures race toward theaters to capture audiences’ attentions with their unique spins on a classic fairy tale. A-list talents – from Julia Roberts to Kristen Stewart – lined up to participate. Which effort would be the fairest of them all?
Days after Universal’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” — starring Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron – revealed its first action-packed trailer, Relativity’s planned “Mirror Mirror” answered with a clip that suggests broad comedy … particularly from its seven dwarves.
We have it below.
In “Mirror,” director Tarsem Singh (“Immortals”) focuses on an Evil (and jealous) Queen (Roberts) who sets out to drain Snow White’s lifeblood through what appears to be Bollywood song-and-dance routines. Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane provide broad comic relief as a prince and royal servant, while Lily Collins of “The Blind Side” plays the maiden Snow White.
Singh’s visual inspiration, according to this clip, falls somewhere between Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. But the tone of “Mirror Mirror” is completely different than “Huntsman” … and that might be good for both films.
“Mirror Mirror” will be in theaters on March 16, 2012. Here’s the trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpLVO396eHs
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Kristen Stewart offered female lead in “Akira”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: If I had to make a bet, I’d put money down that the live-action remake of the anime classic “Akira” will never reach theaters. Too many chefs have been jamming into the kitchen for years trying to improve on a perfect dish. Why bother?
But if it happens – and I say that’s a mighty big “if” – it might have “Twilight” starlet Kristen Stewart in the female lead. Twitch reports that Stewart, who’s still busy filming “Snow White and the Huntsman” with Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, would play Kei, love interest of Kaneda, in Jaume Collet-Sera’s planned remake.
The site, which appears to have a source buried deep in the production, also says Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter and Garrett Hedlund have been offered parts in the film, currently set up at Warner Brothers.
The actress has said time and again in interviews that she’s anxious to find a new, fresh franchise after playing Bella Swan for years. Yet as Twitch points out, few in the “Twilight” love triangle have been able to find a project that comes close to the mass appeal of Stephenie Meyer’s series.
Could “Akira” put Stewart over the top? Or will she already be flying high on “Snow White,” which reaches theaters next summer?
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Charlize Theron glares in latest “Young Adult” poster – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Any time you’re able to make Charlize Theron look marginally ugly, it’s newsworthy. In fact, the last time she attempted it, she won the Academy Award for the hideous transformation in the serial-killer drama “Monster.”
Theron’s character doesn’t murder anyone in “Young Adult” (at least, I don’t think so), but she gives a glare that positively kills on the film’s new poster, which Paramount just put out (via InContention). We have it below.
The studio has been making the rounds with the picture, which reunites director Jason Reitman with his “Juno” screenwriter, Oscar winner Diablo Cody. It stars Theron as a self-centered princess who heads back to her small home town to win back her ex, even though he’s married with a child.
The story swirling out of the “Young Adult” screenings is that co-star Patton Oswalt delivers a jaw-dropping performance that completely goes against type. I see the film this weekend in New York City, and will be bringing you interviews with the entire cast and crew.
In the meantime, here’s the poster. “Young Adult” will be in theaters on Dec. 9, expanding to more theaters on Dec. 16. Bring baggage.

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Can Occupy Wall Street help “The Help”? – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Reading stories this morning of the NYPD’s efforts to extinguish the Occupy Wall Street movement in downtown Manhattan, my mind turned to the ladies of “The Help.” The messages of the OWS movement might not be as unified as organizers hoped, and the causes have fractured to include too many personal agendas over the last few weeks. But the one thing that never wavered was the desire of the protestors to have their voices be heard.
Reflecting on the grassroots sit-in, which started in New York and spread across the country, I thought of Octavia Spencer’s character, Minny Jackson, who wanted little else than the basic human right to use a toilet. I thought of Emma Stone’s Skeeter, a person sitting in a position of power who heard the requests of the minority and decided to take the difficult road by doing something about the injustice. Skeeter’s hardly the 1%. But Stone, director Tate Taylor and novelist Kathryn Stockett made her something far more important than that. They made her a decent human being.
Can the Occupy Wall Street movement help “The Help” during this Oscar season? It’s possible. The film has what it takes from a critical and commercial standpoint to get into the race. And based on today’s actions in New York City, I’d argue it has the cultural relevance to make some noise in the ongoing awards marathon.
Taylor told me he never intended his film to be a Civil Rights picture. But “The Help” does shine a light on a period in our history where the culture was imbalanced, and a few people on one side of the equation risked a lot to tilt things back toward the center.
According to a recent poll on Gold Derby, the frontrunners for Best Picture currently are Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” and Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist.” Two worthy films. But step back for a minute. Payne’s film, in part, centers on a Hawaiian landowner (George Clooney) wrestling with a million-dollar property deal. And “The Artist,” while excellent, tells the story of a top-of-the-world silent film star (Jean Dujardin) who might have to move out of his palatial Hollywood mansion and stop dining in Los Angeles’ finest restaurants because the “talkies” are squeezing him out.
Can you relate? Can Academy members? When it comes time to vote. Films are going to need No. 1 votes from Academy […]

Felicity Jones cast in Warren Beatty’s Howard Hughes biopic

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Felicity Jones gives a raw, heart-on-her-sleeve performance in Drake Doremus’ Sundance hit “Like Crazy,” one which has triggered a breakthrough year for the young actress. While she has stayed busy acting prior to “Crazy,” the young-lovers drama is kicking open new doors for the fragile actress.
Warren Beatty, for example, has cast Jones as the female lead of his planned Howard Hughes biopic, Deadline reports. The Hollywood icon will direct the as-yet-untitled biopic from a screenplay he wrote. Jones reportedly will play a young woman who falls for Hughes’ driver before eventually moving on to the eccentric millionaire.
Deadline says that Beatty’s deep into the casting process, and might be considering Justin Timberlake for the role of Hughes. They also add that parts could be carved out for Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin and Owen Wilson, to name just a few.
Beatty’s film would begin shooting next year. Jones, meanwhile, recently wrapped filming another film with “Crazy” director Doremus. And she’s hoping to get some traction in the ongoing awards race for her tender, vulnerable “Crazy” turn.
Here we have exclusive video of Jones accepting the New Hollywood Award from Doremus at the Hollywood Film Awards, held last month at the Beverly Hilton.

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Meryl Streep is “astonishing” in “The Iron Lady” – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: British press who got their first look at “The Iron Lady” yesterday are praising Meryl Streep’s performance as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher while gently condemning the movie, as a whole.
Writing for The Guardian, chief critic Xan Brooks says Streep “is the one great weapon of this often silly and suspect picture. Her performance is astonishing and all but flawless; a masterpiece of mimicry which re-imagines Thatcher in all her half-forgotten glory. Streep has the basilisk stare; the tilted, faintly predatory posture. Her delivery, too, is eerily good – a show of demure solicitude, invariably overtaken by steely, wild-eyed stridency.”
No surprise. Sight unseen, Streep was determined to be the cream of this film’s crop, if only because you largely can say that about EVERY Streep film.
Most of us paying attention to Phyllida Lloyd’s pending biopic wondered if it had the weight to compete in additional categories outside of Best Actress. Is it a Best Picture/Director combo? Can Jim Broadbent work his way into the Supporting Actor race for his portrayal of Denis Thatcher?
It’s unclear at this point. All we know is that Brooks calls it “a movie that gives us Thatcher without Thatcherism. ‘The Iron Lady’ … opts for a breezy, whistle-stop tour through the unstable nitroglycerin of Thatcher’s life and times. The tone is jaunty and affectionate, a blend of ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘The King’s Speech,’ fuelled by flashbacks that bob us back through authorised history.”
“Breezy” and “jaunty” don’t suggest Best Picture contender. We shall see.
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Woody Harrelson, “Rampart” get one-week qualifying run – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Woody Harrelson started receiving raves for his searing performance in Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” right after the film world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Certain Oscar bloggers have been championing Harrelson’s inclusion in the Best Actor race, a category that appears to be relatively crowded with assumed nominees like George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”).
Millennium Entertainment believes in Harrelson, and the film. They’ve scheduled a one-week qualifying run for the police drama at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles beginning Wednesday, Nov. 23. “Rampart” then will open wider on Jan. 27, hopefully with some awards heat.
“Rampart” reunites Harrelson with his “The Messenger” director for a story of police corruption on the LAPD. The Oscar nominee plays Officer Dave Brown, a Vietnam vet and a Rampart Precinct cop who isn’t opposed to crossing the lines of decemcy if it means maintaining his reputation and “hero” worship.
Moverman directs his modern noir from an original screenplay by James Ellroy (“L.A. Confidential”). The hard-hitting thriller co-stars Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Ben Foster, Ned Beatty, Steve Buscemi, Cynthia Nixon and Anne Heche.
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David Fincher talks “Dragon Tattoo” and film’s Oscar chances – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: David Fincher knows his way around the Oscar dance, having just maneuvered the lengthy awards season last year for his brilliant “The Social Network” and ahead of that for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” So when asked if he thought his upcoming picture, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” has Best Picture aspirations, he bluntly explains that it doesn’t … and why.
“There’s too much anal rape in this movie,” Fincher jokingly points out. “I think we’re very safe.”
The director was talking to EW.com about his “Tattoo” adaptation, which hits theaters on Dec. 21. And while he says he isn’t necessarily pushing for Oscar, he understands that these things tend to work themselves out on their own.
“When it came to ‘Benjamin Button,’ I wanted it for Brad [Pitt] more than Brad wanted it for himself,” Fincher tells the site. And for “Social,” he lobbied for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and star Jesse Eisenberg.
“I thought that kid f—ing brought it, and I was incredibly thankful to be able to be there and record that performance. It’s an exceptionally brave and tremendous performance. When a movie is celebrated in whatever way, I think it’s bad form not to engage in some way, because people shower you with goodwill. It seems only polite to acknowledge it and be thankful for it. And then there’s 90 percent of it that is, ‘If you’re going to do this Q&A, you have to do this Q&A. if you’re going to do this, you have to do that.’”
“It’s an incredible drain — a cosmic drain,” Fincher continues. “Because you have to be on your best behavior. Every little weird facial tic that you may already have is now going to come under weird scrutiny on f—ing YouTube.”
The man gets it. Whether Oscar responds to his latest is undecided, but you have to admire Fincher’s candor, as always.
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Pixar’s “Brave” shares two exclusive images

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: As a Pixar fan (and who isn’t, right?), I’m anxiously awaiting next summer’s “Brave” for two key reasons.
First, I need the animation studio to wash the wretched taste of “Cars 2” out of my mouth. As the father of two boys – who, admittedly, don’t mind the sequel – I’ve had to endure the misguided effort on multiple occasions since the Blu-ray release, and it breaks my heart a little more every time I sit through what honestly feels like a slapped-together sequel.
Secondly, I’m excited for the studio to return to the realm of original storytelling. We’ve endured “Toy Story” and “Cars” sequels since Pixar produced “Up.” We have a “Monsters Inc.” prequel on the horizon. “Brave” appears to be a fresh story from the studio that used to crank out memorable fare, and I hope it puts them right back on the pedestal of family entertainment.
Empire has posted two exclusive images from “Brave.” One is above. The other is below. What is that blue light? Makes me wonder.
The film tells the story of Scottish archer Merida, whose parents – King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) – want her to settle down. But Merida, seeking to march to her own drum, makes a decision that goes against her family’s culture, with significant ramifications.
“Brave” features the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Thompson, Connolly, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane. It will be in theaters on June 22, 2012.

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“Dragon Tattoo” TV spot boasts new footage – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Today seems to be a day of glorious reveals for films with Oscar dreams that’ve yet to fully pull back their curtains. This morning, we brought you an international trailer for Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher biopic, “The Iron Lady,” which revealed far more footage than had previously been screened. And this afternoon, we turn our attention to David Fincher’s U.S. adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
A brand-new, one-minute TV spot for Sony’s upcoming thriller has made its way online (via TheMovieBox). It focuses primarily on Lisbeth Salander, the mysterious cyber-hacker (played here by Rooney Mara) who begrudgingly assists Daniel Craig’s journalist in solving a missing-persons case.
The clip continues to open doors for Fincher, who looks like he has nailed the dangerous moods of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium trilogy. I still question his motives. Don’t we want creative voices like Fincher working on wholly original material instead of remakes? Still, if “Dragon Tattoo” is going to be remade, Sony is wise to put it in the hands of a storytelling guru.
Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” opens on Dec. 21. I hope it starts screening, soon.

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