January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Actress

‘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 […]

Oscar stock watch: 5 contenders up and 5 contenders down

With an almost daily influx of awards to make note of, this is the sort of time where things change for Oscar contenders quickly. As such, I wanted to try out a new segment, where I periodically take the temperature of the race and list some of the Academy Award hopefuls who have seen their stock rise or fall of late, relating to the precursor season. It’s the sort of thing I can check in with every week or every other week, depending on what’s appropriate. Anyway, I wanted to give it a shot now and see how it played for you all.
Below you’ll see ten different contenders, broken up into two separate groups. One group of films/performances have seen their stock trend upwards, while the other group has seen the exact opposite happen. It’s almost a quick snapshot of the major changes in the season, though by no means is it all encompassing. Anyway, I hope this is of interest to you all…
Here are five contenders who have seen their stock rise of late:
1. Boyhood – As mentioned yesterday, Richard Linklater’s film has solidified its frontrunner status in Best Picture for Linklater, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette, and Best Original Screenplay for Linklater as well. That sort of early precursor dominance only helps increase its Oscar stock. As long as the Golden Globes and Guilds don’t bring it back down to Earth, this is a blue chipper, to say the least.
2. Nightcrawler – One of the surprises of the early precursor season has been to see Dan Gilroy’s thriller slowly but surely establish itself as more than a fringe awards player. Star Jake Gyllenhaal has received (justly) some attention, but the film itself is popping up more than initially expected. I’m not ready to predict it for a Best Picture nomination, but I’m at least toying with the idea.
3. Jennifer Aniston/Cake – What was initially a real long shot/Hail Mary pass in the Best Actress race has become a viable contender. Jennifer Aniston’s vehicle Cake doesn’t have a ton of money to campaign with a huge distributor backing it, but it’s still managing to create a buzz. That easily affirms it as a player with its stock trending in an upward direction.
4. American Sniper – Despite some originally mixed reviews at its AFI Fest premiere, Clint Eastwood’s latest showed up on their Best of the […]

Laura Dern’s awards season…Supporting herself and two potential Best Actress nominees

2014 has been one of the best years for Laura Dern in some time. The veteran actress is well respected in the business, very talented, and a pleasure to interact with. Last year, she was part of the campaign to get her father Bruce Dern cited for Nebraska. This year however, she’s front and center in a way, giving two of the most effective supporting performances of 2014. If one or both of Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley become Best Actress nominees, it’ll certainly be in part because of their scenes in Wild and The Fault in Our Stars with their on screen mother Dern. She’s fueling their fire, but can she also score a Best Supporting Actress nomination for herself.
I think Dern is one of the more interesting contenders this year. She’s a previous Academy Award nominee (she was nominated in Best Actress for Rambling Rose), five time Golden Globe nominee (and two time winner on the television side), and one of the few hopefuls in 2014 who can boast multiple films to contend with. She’s far more likely for Wild than The Fault in Our Stars, yes, but one could wind up helping with the other, at at the very least helping to push her co-stars to the Best Actress nomination finish line. No one else this year can say that, so Dern finds herself in a spot all her own this year.
In the case of The Fault in Our Stars, she has a film that’s reached blockbuster status and brought her a very solid amount of acclaim. True, Shailene Woodley took most of the praise, but Dern was hardly forgotten about either. Her turn as Woodley’s mother was easily one of the best supporting performances of the first half of the year, so that’s a plus. The odds say that voters will only consider her for Wild due to the release date and such, but if they pop in this one in order to consider Woodley in Best Actress, they could certainly notice Dern and mark her down in the back of their minds. Dern is going to be one of the reasons why Woodley gets nominated, if that does come to pass.
When it comes to Wild though, she’s firmly in the thick of things. Her co-star Reese Witherspoon is almost assuredly scoring a Best Actress nomination, so it might be that Witherspoon helps bring Dern along […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Reese Witherspoon

For this week’s brand new spotlight piece, I wanted to cite an A-lister who is having one really good 2014, to say the least. It’s Reese Witherspoon, an Academy Award winning actress who only this year is finally solidifying her status not just as a star, but as a supremely talented actress as well. It’s high time too, as she’s given more top quality performances than a lot of people realize. From some of her early work to the performance that won her the Oscar, Witherspoon has become a deserving member of the A-list, though someone who doesn’t always get the credit that she truly deserves. As such, it’s only appropriate today to put the spotlight on her. Here we go…
Witherspoon got her start with a few head turning roles in smaller films, starting with The Man in the Moon, followed by A Far Off Place and Freeway, among others. Those parts began to get her noticed, something that would continue up until she broke through with the thriller Fear. Witherspoon was now a young up and coming actress that had the attention of the industry. That would lead to a role in Overnight Delivery as well as a really well regarded part in the film Pleasantville. Particularly with that last role, it set her up to have her first brush with prestige fare. With the black comedy Election, Witherspoon was fully on the cusp of stardom, along with being embraced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which bestowed her first Golden Globe nomination upon her. Between this highly praised independent film and the pop culture drama Cruel Intentions, a star was born.
She then appeared in films like American Psycho, Best Laid Plans, The Importance of Being Earnest, Legally Blonde (which got her a second Golden Globe nomination), Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Little Nicky, Sweet Home Alabama, and Vanity Fair. They cultivated her status as a growing romantic comedy star in Hollywood as well as an A-list actress, but they didn’t quite challenge her in the way that she was deserving of. Then, a biopic offer came in and changed all that.
Her greatest acclaim at the time would come when she took the role of June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Not only did it score her tons of terrific reviews, she would also go on to both receive her first Academy […]

“Boyhood” takes Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle

It’s officially precursor season folks. As such, prepare to hear a lot about various critics groups chiming in with their picks for the best of 2014. This will go on until the major guilds more or less decide things early next year, but for now, it’s the critics stage of the precursors. As such, earlier today the New York Film Critics Circle (or NYFCC for short) announced their winners for the year, crowning Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the big victor of the afternoon. They also brought a few contenders back to life, like The Immigrant for example, but it was mostly a triumphant precursor for Boyhood.
Linklater’s film was the big winner for sure, one of only two titles (along with the aforementioned The Immigrant) to have multiple citations. Boyhood led the awards with three wins, showing up in Best Picture, Best Director for Linklater, and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. As such, the fuel to the “Boyhood is the Best Picture frontrunner” fire can burn even brighter, particularly since its main competition in Birdman, The Imitation Game, and Selma all were shut out by the NYFCC voters. Score one for Linklater and company, without a doubt. It’s too early to say if this is the beginning of a sweep, but this is the start that the film needed this awards season.
As I’ve hinted, the other title that did the best was James Gray’s The Immigrant, which picked up a Best Cinematography win for Darius Khondji as well as being half of Marion Cotillard’s Best Actress win (the other half belonging to Two Days, One Night). I don’t think this suddenly makes The Immigrant a serious player again, but it’s a hint that we might see it show up here and there this season. If nothing else, it does help boost Cotillard’s chances in Actress for her other performance.
Among the other major categories, NYFCC bestowed their Best Actor prize upon Timothy Spall for Mr. Tuner (which was a bit of a surprise considering the top tier competition he had), J.K. Simmons took Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash (which wasn’t a surprise at all, at least to me), and The Grand Budapest Hotel pulled off an upset Best Screenplay win. Presumed frontrunners Citizenfour, Ida, and The Lego Movie also won in Best Documentary (or in this case Best Nonfiction) Film, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Animated Film, respectively.
Here now […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Jennifer Lawrence

For this week’s new spotlight piece, I wanted to again take a look at one of the biggest A listers in the industry…Jennifer Lawrence. I’ve written about her once or twice before, but as a legitimate megastar who’s also still a bit of an up and comer, I figured she was perfect for this piece once again. She’s someone who’s powerful in Hollywood, grounded in a way that most young stars aren’t, and above all else…one of the best actresses in the business, bar none, with an Oscar on her mantle to prove it. Lawrence consistently does interesting work and is more than worth checking in on here and there. As such, she’s perfect for the spotlight today, so let us dive in.
Lawrence first got her start, like many young up and comers, on television. Guest spots on Cold Case, Medium, and Monk began her career, though I first noticed her when she landed one of the main roles on The Bill Engvall Show. It hardly gave her a strong outlet for her talents, but she was compelling to watch even then. There were also supporting parts in films like The Burning Plain and Garden Party, but Lawrence was still clearly someone you didn’t pay too much attention to. That was about to change though, and in a really big way too.
She became a star on the rise with Winter’s Bone, a small indie that wound up being nominated for a quartet of Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Lawrence. Her personality and newcomer on the scene vibe made her an instant A-lister in the making, which doesn’t even take into account how great she is in the movie. She was not only well deserving of that Actress nomination, she also wasn’t far off from being deserving of the win. Her Oscar glory wouldn’t be too far away, but it was a great launch to her leading actress career.
Lawrence then shined in key supporting parts in would be awards contenders The Beaver and Like Crazy before breaking through to the masses with her scene stealing turn in X-Men: First Class. That put her in her first blockbuster, though that next year would really be the one to make her the Jennifer Lawrence we know today. She ably led the horror flick House at the End of the Street, but it was a pair of other roles that […]

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

The scariest movies ever nominated for an Academy Award

Since it’s Halloween (Happy Halloween everyone), I wanted to do something horror centric but also still relating to Oscar in some way. As such, I wanted to take a look at which scary movies, to one degree or another, were embraced by the Academy Awards. Ideally I’d have focused on Best Picture, but as I’m sure you all know, the pickings there will be mighty slim. Instead, I’ll bounce around, trying to stick to bigger categories whenever possible, but still looking for the most overt examples of genre fare ever cited. I might bend the rules once or twice, but hey…it’s Halloween. I hope you all enjoy.
Here’s the ten scariest movies to catch the attention of Oscar:
1. The Silence of the Lambs – Any list like this has to start with this one, since it almost swept the Oscars in its year. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay…it won five of the big eight categories, part of seven nominations in total. An iconic piece of cinema, it deserves a place at the top of any article of this nature. It’s a perfect representation of horror (though it’s hardly just that) that the Academy thankfully embraced.
2. The Sixth Sense – One of the Academy’s most overt embraces of horror, it received a whopping half dozen citations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. It was a fleeting embrace as opposed to ushering in a more open minded line of voting by Oscar, but it’s still cool to remember nonetheless.
3. Black Swan – Psychological terror is still terror, so when this film that should be miles away from an Academy member’s tastes got five nods (including Best Picture and Best Director) and won Best Actress, it was an incredibly pleasant surprise. It does harken back to some other movies that they’ve been fond of in the past, so that was a plus, but still…can you believe this was a nominee alongside the likes of The King’s Speech and The Kids Are All Right?
4. The Exorcist – Let me blow your mind for a second…this horror film scored double digit Oscar nominations. Yes, it was nominated for ten Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress) and won a pair of them, for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay. That’s horrifically […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Actress

As I’ve been mentioning over the last few weeks or so, with the festival season well underway and just about all of the major contenders for the Academy Awards having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to move forward and take a look at the big eight categories to see what’s what in an updated/more expanded fashion. I did this with the major categories a couple of months back, but that was when almost everything was still speculation. We have some facts to go on now, so while much of this is still just an educated guess, I’m not completely relying on overt hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film/director/performer in question, of course. Today I’m turning my attention once again to the Best Actress field, which is another category that won’t necessarily match up with Best Picture in any major way, but likely won’t be too far off either. Read on to see what I mean for this one…
One special note about Best Actress this year is that, on the flip side to best Actor, it’s a fairly barren race. Each of the ten women that I have cited as the ones with the best chance at a nomination have some chance at a nod, but only a few of them can realistically win. It’s going to be interesting to see if any surprise noms wind up shaking up this category when all is said and done…
Here are the ten ladies that I have in play for Best Actress currently, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point and time:
1. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) – If you ask a dozen pundits who the frontrunner is in Best Actress, you’ll probably get one of about five answers (hint, my top five), but if you ask me, I think this could turn into a walk for Jones. It’s just a hunch, but Oscar loves their supportive wives, something this performance apparently does incredibly well. Jones in the sweet spot of the age the Academy enjoys honoring, so that doesn’t hurt too. We have a long way to go before anyone in this category starts to separate themselves from the pack, but at this juncture, I’m backing Jones ever so slightly.
2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) – Now that folks are able to see […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Emma Stone

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a younger A-lister, though one who’s been continually increasing her profile for a number of years now. It’s Emma Stone, one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. She’s basically been on a rocket to the top, with no signs of slowing down. Stone not only has the goods as an actress, she’s got the charisma and personality to match. That’s the kind of combination that allows a star to go far. She’s an A-lister through and through, but one still very much on the upswing of her career. She’s still got plenty more to do, including I suspect…win an Oscar.
Stone is an actress who can shine in just about any role. She got her start with a clever supporting performance in Superbad, the type of performance she’d repeat a number of times from there, though always with enough of a new spin in something like The House Bunny so you weren’t bored with her. Zombieland gave her a chance to help an anchor a movie and she took the ball and ran with it. Her first starring role was Easy A and not only did she receive a Golden Globe nod for that performance, I think she deserved an Oscar nom as well. That was when she hit the A list (no pun intended), though co-starring in Best Picture nominee The Help or both of the newest Spider-Man flicks didn’t hurt either. With very few exceptions, Stone makes excellent choices with her career.
She has managed to charm in both light and heavy fare. Often, she combines the two. Easy A is a perfect example of that. Same with Crazy Stupid Love. She stands out in the crowd. Regardless of what you might think of The Amazing Spider-Man and/or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, her chemistry with co-star and real life co-star Andrew Garfield sparkles. You remember Stone when she’s on screen, even if the material isn’t always her best friend. She makes it work and elevates what’s on the page.
This weekend, Stone has her first collaboration with Woody Allen hitting theaters with Magic in the Moonlight. She gets to recite Allen dialogue and spar with Colin Firth in a really adorable way. Woody certainly agrees, as he’s already cast her in his next movie, where she’ll co-star with Joaquin Phoenix. That might very well be the film that gets her […]

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