July 30, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actor contenders                "Jason Bourne" brings back Matt Damon to the franchise                Mike Mills' "20th Century Women" is the Centerpiece of the 2016 New York Film Festival                A Teaser Trailer for "Justice League" suggests a really fun blockbuster                "Blair Witch" and "Wonder Woman": Comic-Con unleashes a ton of buzz worthy Trailers                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders                "Star Trek Beyond" is a rare success for the 2016 summer movie season                The 2016 New York Film Festival will open with Ava Duvernay's documentary "The 13th"                Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone make us swoon as "La La Land" drops a luminous Teaser Trailer                "Loving" announces itself as an awards player with a great Trailer                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for July                Woody Allen has another crowd pleaser on his hands with "Cafe Society"                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actor contenders                Kristen Stewart shines in the sci-fi love story "Equals"                'Ghostbusters' is an excellent re-invention of the classic franchise        

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The Most Predictable Oscars – The 88th Academy Awards

By Michael Russnow
As a show it was middling, opening with an attractive display of globes emblazoned with “Courage,” “Talent,” “Heart” and “Passion,” then a film montage before emcee Chris Rock hit the stage.
As someone who didn’t appreciate Rock as host 11 years ago it was a bit surprising to see a much more subdued performance, sometimes very funny and other times flat. Everyone was waiting for what he’d say in the midst of the Academy controversy brought about by only White people nominated in the twenty acting categories.
He mused about the fifteen Black people in the film montage and called the evening’s event “The White People’s Choice Awards.” However, he was more pointed in his jokes at the boycott attempt instigated by Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. He made fun of Jada’s outrage, considering her lack of film impact and mocked Will Smith for getting $20 million for The Wild, Wild West.
A later so-called tribute to Black History Month, featured Angela Bassett seemingly honoring Will Smith, only to state the true honoree was Jack Black. That’s how it went, with Rock reminding us Black exclusions hadn’t been dealt with in the sixties, because the community was more concerned with voting rights and lynchings.
Thus, the point was made, more so when African American Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs alluded to changes in the Academy with hopes that the industry will greenlight films and possibilities for people of color. Only then can the Academy nominate more such people.
The writing awards were the first conveyed, with Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy winning for Spotlight and Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for The Big Short, getting original and adapted screenplay Oscars respectively. My main concern was that writers once again are not shown on screen, whereas faces of the directors get the actor treatment, though their personas are mostly unrecognized. Plus they got to talk about their films.
For the writing nominations a script page was shown, followed by a print-out of the dialogue just before the actors spoke the lines. I’m pretty sure most people know actors don’t improvise their roles, so this was unnecessary.
It was also distracting to see a short résumé under each of the presenters. If their accomplishments aren’t known, why put them on stage?
And worse, not to mention confusing, throughout the evening was a ridiculous crawl, like a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen once […]

Oscars: The Inside Scoop

By Michael Russnow
There’ve been 97 minority actors nominated since 1939 when Hattie McDaniel became the first Black Oscar recipient for playing a servant in Gone With The Wind. And that is part of the problem, because for many, many years Blacks and other minorities were relegated to roles not only of a supporting nature but indicative of the racist times when their lots in major professions were limited.
There’ve been 97 minority actors nominated since 1939 when Hattie McDaniel became the first Black Oscar recipient for playing a servant in Gone With The Wind. And that is part of the problem, because for many, many years Blacks and other minorities were relegated to roles not only of a supporting nature but indicative of the racist times when their lots in major professions were limited.
Who’s to blame for that? There’s little doubt those at the studios and production companies who package feature films create more opportunities for white-dominated films, and if there are that many more white-dominated films, even granted that many suck, the greater number released has more potential to draw the sort of attention that earns Academy approbation.
Some of the outcry this year is because there were movies and performances, most notably Straight Outta Compton and performances by Will Smith in Concussion and Michael B. Jordan in Creed which drew terrific notices, and there certainly could be an argument as to whether they should be nominated. One question, though, is who, among the nominees, would you erase to make room for these choices?
Aren’t there always great films and performances left out? Indeed this year, Maggie Smith in the little seen The Lady in a Van and Johnny Depp in Black Mass were outstanding. As was Jason Segel in the apparently forgotten The End of the Tour. Also Helen Mirren in Trumbo.
Some of the outcry this year is because there were movies and performances, most notably Straight Outta Compton and performances by Will Smith in Concussion and Michael B. Jordan in Creed which drew terrific notices, and there certainly could be an argument as to whether they should be nominated. One question, though, is who, among the nominees, would you erase to make room for these choices?
Aren’t there always great films and performances left out? Indeed this year, Maggie Smith in the little seen The Lady in a Van and Johnny Depp in Black Mass were outstanding. As was Jason Segel […]

The 2016 Golden Globes: But as Entertainment it was mostly so-so.

By Michael Russnow
I’ve not been a fan of Ricky Gervais in his three previous outings, finding his humor to be more of a struggle to appear adventurous and outrageous in the search for comedy, but often winding up tasteless and, worse, often flat.
This year, and perhaps due to his past incarnations, he spent a lot of time mock apologizing for so-called transgressions and, while sometimes amusing — on occasion he really was amusing — his material was on the whole rather middling.
To read more go to

Farewell My Dear Friend Murray. I’ll be missing you

Farewell my dear friend Murray. I’ll be missing you.
“This is my baby. This is when it all started. This is my pride and joy, my first Oscar win in 1974.”
Meet Murray Weissman, one of the earliest Oscar consultants, who on this day is proudly showing off a blow-up photo on the wall of his North Hollywood publicity agency commemorating that day almost 40 years ago when, as executive in charge of the motion picture press department at Universal Pictures, he reveled in the seven Academy Awards won by “The Sting,” George Roy Hill’s wry tale of Depression-era con men starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Weissman was so happy following the hard-fought victory over the other nominees, including “The Exorcist,” that he rushed to costume designer Edith Head’s bungalow on the lot the next day and asked to borrow seven of her personal Oscar statuettes so he could pose for a photo that also featured him holding the front page of the old Los Angeles Herald-Examiner with its headline trumpeting the victory — Universal’s first best picture since 1930’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.” as per Robert Welkos at Los Angeles Times.
—-
Murray,
I want you to know that you have been a big part of the Hollywood Film Awards. Your availability at all times, your unwavering support and your Hollywood teachings were all INVALUABLE to keep on going. A million thanks.
Carlos and Janice

Is Michael Moore’s Documentary Propaganda?

By Michael Russnow
Mr. Moore is more of a propagandist, and while most of what he portrays is technically true his editing and narrative are in large part misleading. It’s the old chestnut of whether an omission is actually a lie, and I believe it is a lie if what’s omitted creates false impressions.
As the film hasn’t been released, I won’t give away many “spoilers,” though Where to Invade Next is hardly a Who-Dun-It. Even the title is somewhat deceptive, as we quickly realize that, instead of suggested mock invasion areas, Moore travels to countries whose ideas and practices he believes are better than ours and then “conquers” them to bring these solutions home. That said, the title is my least concern.
The problem is, while I support what Moore finds better achieved in the countries visited, he has cherry picked aspects of their social and political lifestyle and has left stuff out, distorting the big picture. For the purpose of this article, I’ll deal with his trips to France, Germany, Norway, Italy, Iceland and Tunisia. What does he find particularly exciting about France? Why, the food, of course.
T read more,go to Is Michael Moore’s Documentary Propaganda?
Michael Russnow’s website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com
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Quentin Tarantino: “The Hateful Eight” is a Bloated Film

By Michael Russnow
Quentin is an intriguing writer, who creates characters different from many we’ve seen and imbues them with personalities and fascinating incidental dialogue that gives three dimension to what they’re all about. The problem with this film is that there is so much attention paid to each character and their interactions with each other that it becomes like an overwritten stage play, static where it should have been exciting. Almost every one of them appears to have an individual moment to assess one of the others, with the rest sitting idly by in the background until their turns come.
This is not always the case, of course, but it slows the pacing down, not to mention the fact that we are well over an hour into the movie before the shit starts to hit the fan. Then, a little after that we have an almost unheard of in today’s filmmaking era — even with long movies — 13-minute Intermission.
This, after enduring, yes enduring, several minutes of an overture at the beginning, played not over cinematic visions but while we stare at a slide that simply says “Overture.” While Ennio Morricone’s music is triumphant as it often is, the tune is so loud and played over and over that we are sitting there wondering what the hell is going on?
Afterwards there are several minutes of credits, which means that the film has not done very much of anything for about 10 minutes, except to leave us panting for that moment when something appears with a title card indicating that Chapter One is before us.
And then the action, such as it is, begins with a wide shot vista of a crucifixion with a desolate snowy background as a stagecoach comes upon a man, Major Marquis Warren, a bounty hunter played by Samuel L. Jackson who is beside his stranded wagon. In the course of a lot of talky, sometimes interesting conversation — though more like a fearsome questionnaire — dominated by another bounty hunter John Ruth, played by Kurt Russell, Jackson is allowed to hitch a ride with his collection of dead bodies strapped on top. We also meet Russell’s charge who will provide him with a lot of cash, ruthless killer Daisy Domergue, portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh, one of the film’s prime delights, as she spews racist epithets the minute Jackson is permitted to join them inside the coach.
to read […]

Oscars: Johnny Depp to Get Kudos from Palm Springs Film Fest

The 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Johnny Depp with the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor at its annual Awards Gala for his performance in “Black Mass.” Each year the festival selects an actor and actress to receive this award. The Awards Gala, hosted by Mary Hart and presenting sponsor Entertainment Tonight, will be held Saturday, January 2, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 1-11.

Above Amber Heard and husband, Johnny Depp, at 2015 Hollywood Film Awards – Nov 1
“Johnny Depp is one of the most versatile and dynamic actors of our time,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In his latest film, Black Mass, Depp, in a stunning transformation, creates a gripping and multi-layered portrait of infamous gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. He delivers an astounding performance that has earned raves from both critics and audiences and is sure to garner awards attention. It is our honor to present the 2016 Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor, to Johnny Depp.”
Past actor recipients of the Desert Palm Achievement Award include Jeff Bridges, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Firth, Matthew McConaughey, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Eddie Redmayne. In the years they were honored, Bridges, Day-Lewis, McConaughey, Penn and Redmayne went on to win the Academy Award® for Best Actor, while Cooper, Firth and Pitt received Oscar® nominations.
Depp can currently be seen in “Black Mass,” which tells of the unholy alliance between ruthless mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) and childhood friend-turned-FBI agent, John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). The bond, forged growing up on the streets of South Boston, would test the limits of loyalty in a town that answers to its own unwritten code. Blinded by ambition, Connolly convinces Bulger to inform on their common enemy, the Italian Mafia. The deal allows Bulger to expand his criminal empire with complete impunity, threatening to destroy both men, their families, and the very city that made them. Based on true events, the film is directed by Scott Cooper and features an ensemble cast, also including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, W. Earl Brown, David Harbour, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott and Juno Temple. The screenplay is by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neil. Produced by John Lesher, Brian Oliver, Scott Cooper, Patrick McCormick and Tyler Thompson.
Depp is […]

Hollywood Contenders: Kudos to Cate Blanchett at Palm Springs International Film Festival

The 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Cate Blanchett with the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress at its annual Awards Gala for her performances in both Carol and Truth. This is the first award announced for the festival. Each year the festival selects an actor and actress to receive this award. The Awards Gala, hosted by Mary Hart and presenting sponsor Entertainment Tonight, will be held Saturday, January 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 1-11.
“Cate Blanchett is one of the most award-winning and outstanding actresses of her generation, delivering extraordinary performances throughout her career including her Academy Award-winning roles as Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator and the title role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In her latest films Carol and Truth, Blanchett yet again brings to life two vibrant characters, both worthy of awards recognition. It is our honor to present the 2016 Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress, to Cate Blanchett.”

Past actress recipients of the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress, include Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock, Natalie Portman, Halle Berry, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts and Michelle Williams. Last year’s honoree Julianne Moore went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress. Blanchett was previously honored at the festival with the Career Achievement Award and Ensemble Performance Award for Babel.
Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, follows two women from very different backgrounds, unhappily married Carol (Cate Blanchett) and department store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara), who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. Directed by Todd Haynes from a script by Phyllis Nagy, Carol stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Cory Michael Smith. The film is distributed by the Weinstein Company.

Truth examines the facts and the fallout surrounding a CBS investigative report on the military service record of then-President George W. Bush, aired on September 8, 2004 just prior to the Bush/Kerry presidential election. As the subsequent story turned from the facts themselves to the reporting, however, CBS News producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) and CBS News anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford) would both soon lose their jobs and reputations. Written and […]

OSCARS: 16 Animated Films Entered the 2015 Oscar® Race

Sixteen features have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 88th Academy Awards®.
The submitted features, listed in alphabetical order, are:
“Anomalisa”
“The Boy and the Beast”
“Boy and the World”
“The Good Dinosaur”
“Home”
“Hotel Transylvania 2”
“Inside Out”
“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”
“The Laws of the Universe – Part 0”
“Minions”
“Moomins on the Riviera”
“The Peanuts Movie”
“Regular Show: The Movie”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water”
“When Marnie Was There”
Several of the films have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying run. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. At least eight eligible animated features must be theatrically released in Los Angeles County within the calendar year for this category to be activated. In any year in which 16 or more animated feature films are eligible, a maximum of five motion pictures may be nominated.
Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.
The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The 88th Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Hollywood Film Awards Officially Launched the Awards Season with Star-Studded Evening

“The 19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards” brought together Hollywood’s elite to honor performances from this year’s most talked about and highly anticipated films. The awards ceremony took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and was hosted by critically and globally acclaimed actor, comedian and late-night talk show host James Corden. The Hollywood Film Awards, the official launch of the awards season®, has recognized excellence in the art of cinema and filmmaking for 18 years, honoring some of the world’s biggest stars. More than one hundred honorees have gone on to garner Oscar® nominations and wins.

Alicia Vikander graciously accepted the “Hollywood Breakout Actress” award from Armie Hammer, who noted that she’s been in a remarkable seven films this year. Amy Poehler borrowed reading glasses from Pete Doctor’s wife to present him with the “Hollywood Animation Award.” Ryan Gosling set the record straight on how to pronounce Saoirse Ronan’s name, while singing her praises. Jane Fonda received a standing ovation after stepping onstage to accept the “Supporting Actress Award” for her work in Youth. Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez accepted the “Hollywood Blockbuster Award” for Furious 7 along with Vin Diesel, who gave an emotional speech about the cast, as well as the impact of losing a member of that family too soon. Carey Mulligan spoke passionately about women’s rights while accepting the “Hollywood Actress Award” for her work in Suffragette. Amy Schumer drew big laughs while accepting the “Hollywood Comedy Award” from an excited Selena Gomez.

Vin Diesel took the stage again to introduce a powerful performance of “See You Again” by “Hollywood Song Award” winners Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. Will Smith accepted the “Hollywood Actor Award” for Concussion from Jamie Foxx, and spoke passionately about wanting to honor the truth of the film while also being a football dad, and the role that played in his work. Robert De Niro received a standing ovation after a reel honoring his work was played. He noted that while this event typically marks the start of awards season, for him this award season started forty years ago.

This year’s award show honored the following:
“Hollywood Career Achievement Award”
Robert De Niro, presented by David O. Russell
“Hollywood Producer Award”
Ridley Scott for The Martian, presented by Russell Crowe
“Hollywood Director Award”
Tom Hooper for The Danish Girl, presented by Amber Heard
“Hollywood Actor Award”
Will Smith for Concussion, presented by Jamie Foxx
“Hollywood Actress Award”
Carey Mulligan for Suffragette, presented […]

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