January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Actor

The late breaking major Oscar contenders of 2014

As the final days of 2014 tick away and we get set to begin anew with 2015, I’ve been thinking about how the precursor season, especially in the past few weeks, has changed the Oscar race slightly. Notably, a few contenders that weren’t on everyone’s mind for one reason or another have doubled back as the year comes to a close. Some were long shots that became contenders, while others were already viable Academy Award players that have seen their stock shoot up. There are a half dozen that I’m going to cite below, but they’re hardly the only ones. It goes both ways too…perhaps later this week or next (which is technically next year) I’ll do the inverse of this and look at a few of the contenders that have stumbled during this same time period.
Here now are the six best examples among the 2014 releases vying for Oscar attention:
1. Jake Gyleenhaal in Best Actor for Nightcrawler – Up until the most recent precursors began citing him, Gyllehnaal was thought to be a too cool for school long shot for Nightcrawler. Now, he’s clearly in the top seven for Best Actor, if not the top six or arguably already in the nominated group of five. That category is clearly going to be a bloodbath, so Gyllenhaal has only made things harder. The performance is top notch though, so it just makes for an embarrassment of riches for the Academy to sort through. Don’t sleep on Gyllenhaal, as he could certainly pop up in Best Actor.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel in Best Picture – Even though I’m citing this film as a late breaking major player in Best Picture, it could easily be mentioned for Wes Anderson in Best Director and Best Original Screenplay as well (the two categories I’m missing here from having the big eight all represented). The Grand Budapest Hotel now is looking like a top seven contender in each of those categories, something I wouldn’t have believed going into the precursor season. I’m not sure it ultimately makes the Director lineup, but Picture and Original Screenplay nominations seem locked in with Oscar.
3. Jennifer Aniston in Best Actress for Cake – I’ve said it a few times already, but there are folks who need to eat some crow on this one. A nomination for Cake on the part of Aniston was almost a joke during the fall, […]

Cinematic gifts from 2014

With folks all over unwrapping presents today and the year just about over, I wanted to commemorate the time by looking at the gifts that the world of cinema bestowed on us in 2014. What do I mean when I say that? Well, in my eyes, it can mean a film, a filmmaker, or a performer who we became thankful for/even more thankful for during the past 12 months. I tried to be as eclectic as possible and think broadly, but of course this is essentially who and what I loved during the year too. It’s not my top ten list, but it might give you some idea of what mine will look like. Also, I did try and tie it into the Oscar race, of course. How could I not? Anyway, enjoy!
Here now are ten gifts that cinema gave us in 2014:
1. Boyhood – Almost without exception, everyone can agree that Richard Linklater’s film is a gift to cinema. That just makes the fact that it’s the current Best Picture/Best Director/Best Original Screenplay frontrunner all the sweeter. It’s a unique experience that may never be duplicated and 2014 contained the release of it after a decade plus of preparation/shooting.
2. J.K. Simmons – Who doesn’t love Simmons? He’s one of the great character actors of our time, but he’s never had a role like the one in Whiplash to really sink his teeth into. As such, we should give thanks that this gift of a performance is now not only guaranteed to score him his first Oscar nomination, it’s almost assuredly going to win him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as well.
3. Life Itself – Legendary film critic Roger Ebert sadly passed away last year, but director Steve James released his amazing look at Ebert’s life this year, and what a gift it is. A touching documentary about a life well lived, it’s going to compete for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, though it’s already won a place in many of our hearts. It’s just that special.
4. The Fault in Our Stars – There were so many ways that this YA adaptation could have gone wrong that it’s a real gift that we got the brilliant movie that we did. The combination of director Josh Boone, writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, as well as cast members like Laura Dern, Ansel Elgort, and of course Shailene […]

‘Birdman’, ‘Boyhood’, and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ rack up the Critics Choice nominations

Earlier today, the Broadcast Film Critics Association (or BFCA) let loose the nominations for their 20th annual Critics Choice Movie Awards. As has been the case most of the precursor season, Birdman led the field, with Boyhood also enjoying a fine haul. The most interesting thing to me though about the nods today is that The Grand Budapest Hotel also really racked up the noms. That film is climbing the charts quickly and almost assuredly will be in my Best Picture field when I again update my Oscar predictions at the end of the week. What movie it’s going to knock out is a question I’ll try to answer then, but it’s becoming clear that The Grand Budapest Hotel is a force to be reckoned with. Not on the level of Birdman or Boyhood of course (or even The Imitation Game or Selma), but it’s something to really pay attention to now. I never use the Critics Choice nominations as a huge barometer, but as part of the larger precursor stew, if you will, it brings some things to light.
Among the most interesting inclusions here by the BFCA, we had of course the continued success of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which now has Anderson potentially a Best Director contender of real note. Both Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel as well as Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman definitely benefitted from the ability to double nominate by citing it in the strictly Comedy fields as well as the general ones. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood did well enough not to be hurt at all, though this continues to only help Birdman in its quest to unseat Selma as the primary Best Picture competition.
On the other hand, there were more than a few glaring omissions, beginning with Interstellar in Best Picture. That film is just playing like a blockbuster popcorn movie with stunning technical achievements, as opposed to truly a prestige picture, and that’s a shame. Also missing was Christopher Nolan in Best Director/Best Original Screenplay, Steve Carell in Best Actor for Foxcatcher, Joaquin Phoenix (also missing out in Best Actor in a Comedy), and Shailene Woodley in Best Actress for The Fault in Our Stars, continuing to put a nail in her Oscar coffin. Those were just some of the snubs, though they were hardly all of them…
Here now, without further delay, are the full nominations for the 20th annual Critics Choice Movie […]

A December Oscar Predictions Update

Well, the calendar has turned to December folks, so now we’re getting serious here in terms of Oscar predictions. Precursor awards are in full swing now, so expect the Academy Award picture to begin to clear itself up little by little. As I keep saying, that doesn’t mean that from now on we’ll suddenly know how the whole thing will go down, but we’re close to the point where things should make more sense. Without any unseen contenders left, all that’s left is figuring out how these various Oscar hopefuls will do. Well, that’s what I’m here for ladies and gentlemen, so let’s figure it out!
The big new piece of information here is that I’ve now seen and digested Angelina Jolie’s film Unbroken. Honestly, I’m skeptical that it’ll be a major player, which is why I now have it snubbed in the Best Picture category and not going home with a single win. I could be wrong, but I also think that Jolie will fall short in Best Director and Jack O’Connell won’t be able to break through in the Best Actor race. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good movie, because it is, but it doesn’t feel like something that can stand up to the major players in this race. As such, voters might leave it behind.
This leaves us mostly with a race that’s going to come down to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Ava DuVernay’s Selma in terms of Best Picture as well as Best Director. You can make the case that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a potential dark horse, but aside from that, it’s those three. You’ll see what I think will happen below, but get used to seeing those titles a lot, because those are the names that will compete for Oscar glory.
Anyway, it’s time to get down to business, right? Without further delay, here is how I see the Academy Award nominations going at this current juncture, with once again my next in line picks listed for completion/as a bonus. Behold:
BEST PICTURE
1. Boyhood
2. Selma
3. The Imitation Game
4. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Interstellar
6. Gone Girl
7. Whiplash
8. The Theory of Everything
9. Foxcatcher
10. A Most Violent Year
Next in line: 11. Unbroken 12. American Sniper 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. Rosewater 16. Wild 17. Mr. Turner 18. Inherent Vice 19. Nightcrawler […]

Golden Globe predictions for November

It’s Black Friday, so I know you’re all mostly concerned with taking advantage of various sales, but since it’s also the end of November, I wanted to bring some new Golden Globe predictions to you as well. We’ve been doing these for a while now, but this represents likelythe final one I’ll be doing before the actual nominations are announced in about two weeks on December 11th (unless I preview the announcement with a final set of predictions…we’ll see). As such, I’m hoping to really nail them this time around, and try to figure out how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association might go with their nods. The HFPA can go in some odd directions too, so these noms might even be a little more Oscar friendly than they wind up being. We’ll see though.
The biggest addition this time around is accounting for Selma in the race. I still had it shut out last time around, and while I don’t necessarily think it’s going to dominate the Globes, I do think a shut out isn’t going to happen. I also had to try to figure out what to do with Unbroken, which I don’t see until Monday. As such, I left it alone for the most part. If I do indeed do one last update to these predictions, it’ll be due at least in part to a need to account for the film, one way or another. Perhaps I’ll need to predict it for some wins? Perhaps I’ll need to drop it completely? Somewhere in between? I’ll find out at the beginning of next week and report in on the film itself, but if I do update Globe predictions, reflections on that movie will be involved for sure.
Here now though, without any further delay on my part (since as always we know that you’re really here just to see what I have below in each of the categories), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe nomination predictions to pour over. Behold:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Selma
3. Boyhood
4. Gone Girl
5. Unbroken
If there’s a sixth: Interstellar
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Whiplash
4. Begin Again
5. St. Vincent
If there’s a sixth: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
3. David Oyelowo – Selma
4. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
5. Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner
If […]

David Oyelowo and “Selma” launch to the top of the Oscar race

Last night, I was in attendance for the first New York screening of Ava DuVernay’s film Selma. This on the heels of it having a World Premiere last week at AFI Fest, which shot it directly into the heart of the awards season. Always thought to be a potential Oscar contender, particularly for David Oyelowo’s lead performance as Martin Luther King Jr., the movie has instead had a rapturous reception so far that has pundits like myself amending Academy Award predictions left and right. Yes, Oyelowo is not just getting into Best Actor, but is almost assuredly winning it too. Furthermore, I now believe that Selma is one of the three most likely Best Picture winners as well.
In case the title itself doesn’t let you in on what the film is about, this is a look at the civil rights marches that took place in Selma, Alabama. The focus is on the folks on the ground who helped make change happen, along with Martin Luther King’s talks with President Lyndon Johnson about reforming the Voting Rights Act and eliminating the barriers to black citizens in America being able to vote. Oyelowo plays MLK, Tom Wilkinson plays LBJ, and the supporting cast is huge, including the likes of Carmen Ejogo, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Sheen, and many more.
Technically, the version we were shown isn’t finished, so I can’t actually review it (though I’m hardly an outlier in terms of thoughts on its quality), but I can say that this is definitely going to be a bigger Oscar contender than I thought. Not only is it basically a lock for a Best Picture and Best Actor (Oyelowo) nomination, wins there are hardly out of the question. In the case of the former, I think the race is now down to Boyhood, The Imitation Game, and this one, as you’ll see in my new predictions on Friday. With the latter category, unless The Imitation Game goes on some sort of a sweep, I think Oyelowo has this one in the bag. Further nominations for Best Director (DuVernay), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Wilkinson), Best Supporting Actress (Carmen Ejogo), Best Original Screenplay (Paul Webb), Best Cinematography (Bradford Young), and Best Film Editing are all a possibility. Yes, this can score over a half dozen citations if things break the right way.
On the flip side, […]

Winners: Hollywood Film Awards 2014

Hollywood Film Awards: What Went Down and Why It Mattered
Host Queen Latifah, and Hollywood Career Achievement Award winner Michael Keaton, presented by Geena Davis; Hollywood Film Award winner “Gone Girl,” accepted by Ben Affleck, presented by Ron Howard; Hollywood Director Award winner Morten Tyldum for “The Imitation Game,” presented by Robert Pattinson; Hollywood Actor Award winner Benedict Cumberbatch for “The Imitation Game,” presented by Amy Adams; Hollywood Actress Award winner Julianne Moore for “Still Alice,” presented by Kristen Stewart; Hollywood Supporting Actor Award winner Robert Duvall for “The Judge,” presented by Robert Downey Jr.; Hollywood Supporting Actress Award winner Keira Knightley for “The Imitation Game,” presented by Christoph Waltz;

Hollywood Ensemble Award winner “Foxcatcher” cast (Steve Carell, Channing Tatum), presented by Jonah Hill; Hollywood Breakout Performance Actress Award winner Shailene Woodley for “The Fault in Our Stars,” presented by Laura Dern; Hollywood Breakout Performance Actor Award winner Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything,” presented by Jared Leto;

Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award winner Jean-Marc Vallée for “Wild,” presented by Reese Witherspoon; New Hollywood Award winner Jack O’Connell, presented by Angelina Jolie; Hollywood Screenwriter Award winner Gillian Flynn for “Gone Girl,” presented by Hilary Swank; Hollywood Song Award winner “What Is Love” from “Rio 2,” accepted and performed by Janelle Monáe, presented by Randy Jackson; Hollywood Animation Award winner “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” accepted by Gerard Butler, presented by Jennifer Lopez; Hollywood Blockbuster Award winner “Guardians of the Galaxy,” accepted by Chris Pratt and James Gunn, presented by Chadwick Boseman; Hollywood Documentary Award winner Mike Myers for “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” presented by Johnny Depp; Hollywood Comedy Film Award winner Chris Rock for “Top Five,” presented by Queen Latifah;

Hollywood International Award winner Jing Tian, presented by Simon Helberg; Hollywood Cinematography Award winner Emmanuel Lubezki for “Birdman”; Hollywood Visual Effects Award winner Scott Farrar for “Transformers: Age of Extinction”; Hollywood Film Composer Award winner Alexandre Desplat for “The Imitation Game”; Hollywood Costume Design Award winner Milena Canonero for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Hollywood Editing Award winner Jay Cassidy and Dody Dorn for “Fury”; Hollywood Production Design Award winner Dylan Cole and Gary Freeman for “Maleficent”; Hollywood Sound Award winner Ren Klyce for “Gone Girl”; Hollywood Make- Up and Hairstyling Award winner David White (Special Make-up Effects) and Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou (Hair Designer and Make-up Designer) for “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Hollywood Film Awards: What Went Down and Why It Mattered

“Birdman”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written by: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Armando Bo, and Alexander Dinelaris
Main Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, and more…
Past Oscar relations: Iñárritu was nominated for directing and co-producing Babel, Norton has been nominated twice (Best Supporting Actor for Primal Fear and Best Actor for American History X), Ryan has been nominated once (Best Supporting Actress for Gone Baby Bone), and Watts has been nominated twice (Best Actress for 21 Grams and The Impossible)
Today we have another article in this particular series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for here for us is a festival favorite in Birdman that’s looking to take its sensational festival screenings and use that buzz in order to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it in the face of myriad competition? Let us discuss that possibility a little bit now below…
This dramedy is a real change of pace for the normally super serious Iñárritu. It surrounds an actor who used to play a superhero and is trying to stage a comeback through a broadway production of a Raymond Carver story. Michael Keaton stars as the actor, with the supporting cast including Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, Damian Young, and others. All of whom are fantastic from top to bottom, with special praise so far being given to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and his work. Now, it hopes to become an Oscar nominee.
What this film has going in its favor is how technically proficient and well acted it is. It’s also perhaps the most overtly funny Academy Award contender of the year, which never hurts either. Keaton, Norton, and Stone are almost surefire acting nominees (Best Actor for Keaton, Best Supporting Actor for Norton, and Best Supporting Actress for Stone), while Iñárritu is locked into Best Director and likely Best Original Screenplay as well. Lubezki could very well win Best Cinematography and Antonio Sanchez is likewise in play for Best Original Score. Across the board, Birdman is looking like a really heavy player. A winner? Well, that could be a harder sell, but a nominee seems like a pretty sure thing in a number of categories.
Working against Birdman is that it’s not exactly a traditionally […]

Bill Murray could upend the Best Actor race with “St. Vincent”

The already overcrowded Best Actor race is about to get even tighter folks. Last night I attended the premiere of St. Vincent and got to see Bill Murray’s performance, which is awards worthy, let me tell you. Murray combines his comedy and drama skills in such a way that I think Academy members might find it hard to resist him. As I’ve said for months now, the Best Actor race is going to be a bloodbath, something that’s only more true now that contenders are screening and performances are showing that they are indeed worthy of consideration. The latest here is Murray’s in St. Vincent, one that could ultimately wind up going a lot further than some think.
For those of you who don’t know, the movie is a comedy/dramedy about a curmudgeonly older man (played by Murray) in Brooklyn who winds up babysitting his frazzled neighbor’s son. He gives him the sort of real world/bad advice you’re used to in things like this, but then the second half of the film goes in a very different direction and winds up tugging at your heartstrings in a big way. Murray obviously stars, with Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts, and Jaeden Lieberher in the other main roles. Theodore Melfi writes and directs.
This is a pretty good film, but it’s Murray who elevates things, along with the cast on the whole. While McCarthy and Watts are strong in roles that are reversed from what they normally do, Murray gets to combine all of his skills to give what I think is one of his top five performances to date. At times he’s channeling his early comedic persona while at other moments he’s playing it completely straight. I won’t spoil things by saying some of the situations where he’s forced to really go dramatic, but he absolutely nails them.
What will help St. Vincent out is of course the fact that Harvey Weinstein is behind it. He knows how to make this sort of push happen, which is only helped by the fact that Murray is out and about promoting it. He’s done Q and A’s, gone to parties, etc…all of which helps to endear him to Academy members. As we all know, voters like to be courted, so if Murray is willing to play the game, that could give him a leg up on some of his competition.
On the flip side, Weinstein […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Denzel Washington

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at pretty much one of the definitions of an A-list actor. He’s Denzel Washington, a two time Academy Award winning thespian and giant in the industry. Washington does more than just act of course, he’s an iconic movie star, there’s no doubt about that. If anyone is right for this sort of a spotlight, it’s him.
Washington got his start in TV movies, but on the big screen he made his first mark with Cry Freedom, which also got him nominated for Best Supporting Actor, his first nomination of what would become a half dozen (and counting). That established him as an up and comer, leading to his television role on the show St. Elsewhere, which ran for half a decade. That would open up some major film roles, including Glory, where he received his second Best Supporting Actor nomination and also took home his first Oscar. Washington was on his way to the A-list.
He next began his long collaboration with Spike Lee when he appeared in Mo’ Better Blues. A few years later, he’d get his third Oscar nomination and first appearance in Best Actor for his work as the lead in Malcolm X. Big time Hollywood roles were next, including The Bone Collector, Courage Under Fire, Crimson Tide, Fallen, The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Remember the Titans, and The Siege. He also worked with Lee again in He Got Game and scored another Best Actor nod for his baity work in biopic The Hurricane. Washington was officially a star.
His next major role came with Training Day, which won him his second Oscar, this time for Best Actor. Washington had become a juggernaut, able to act in pretty much whatever he pleased. That led to a run of work that was a bit hit or miss (though never boring), including 2 Guns, American Gangster, The Book of Eli, Deja Vu, Inside Man, John Q, The Manchurian Candidate, Man on Fire, Out of Time, Safe House, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and Unstoppable. At the same time though, he also made Flight, which got him his most recent nom in Best Actor.
This week, he stars in The Equalizer, a remake of the 80’s TV program and a very strong crowd pleaser (I enjoyed it quite a bit). Washington kicks some solid ass here, but he also plays a slightly […]

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