August 28, 2015
        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...                Lily Tomlin in 'Grandma' represents a true Best Actress contender        

Tag Archives: adam sandler

The Ten Best Performances from Adam Sandler

If you ask me, Adam Sandler gets a bad rap these days. Sure, he doesn’t always challenge himself with the comedic projects he chooses, but when he picks a drama or a dramedy, he’s almost always aces at it. I happen to mostly enjoy Sandler’s work, even when it’s far from high art. In a way, he lately has chosen not to make “good” movies, but simply fun ones. There are times though, especially earlier in his career, when he took risks. Particularly when it comes to his dramatic outings, he has an aptitude that few give proper credit. As such, with his action comedy Pixels opening this weekend, I wanted to pay tribute to Sandler by running down his ten best performances to date. As always, this is just my take on his career, but I hope you enjoy this look at his top acting jobs!
Here now is what I feel to be Sandler’s best work so far…
10. Big Daddy – One of Sandler’s more popular movies, I don’t think people realize how subtly effective he is at the emotion during the third act. Sure, this is a dumb comedy, but it’s also a coming of age story, so the trail sequence towards the end gives him more to do than I think many even remember. Again, not high art, but it’s an effective performance.
9. The Cobbler – This film was savaged last year on the festival circuit and again this year upon release, but while I think it’s a mess, it’s an interesting one that offers a hybrid Sandler performance. Sure, he’s doing a lot of what he normally does, but it’s with this added layer of innocence and sadness. Truly, this is what an independent Sandler fantasy comedy would be like. It doesn’t quite work, but it’s almost shockingly watchable.
8. 50 First Dates – Sandler is an underrated romantic comedy lead. This second pairing with Drew Barrymore is probably the romance highlight of his career. Never has he been sweeter than here, playing a man required to make someone fall in love with him day after day. It gets broad at times, but it’s adorable and is very much a Hollywood leading man role for him.
7. Click – A film I like more than most, Sandler again comes on dramatically strong in the third act. This is a moral message movie framed within science fiction comedy, urging […]

The tenuous nature of being an early Academy Award frontrunner

It’s hardly a brand new sentiment to express, but you really can never script Oscar season. No matter how you think the awards race is going to go, at least to some degree it always turns out different. This year is obviously no exception, so today I wanted to take a look at how the various frontrunner have changed throughout the season. In some cases, we’ve seen top tier contenders hold strong all year, but the frontrunners have shifted for sure. In a few instances, the early favorites didn’t wind up nominated at all. That’s just how the season goes. We’re deep into phase two now, so it’s a perfect time to look back at what things were like at the start of 2014.
Obviously, you never truly know what’s going to happen during an Oscar race, especially when you start out in the early days of the season basically just going on log line or pedigree. Every so often you can hit on one fairly early on (like Argo in my case, which was the rare occasion when I was out front on something), or at least suspect that it could turn into a winner (with 12 Years a Slave), but most of the time the ones you think will be nominees don’t even come close. It’s the uniqueness of trying to predict what a voting body will like a year in advance. As you’ll see below, some of the main Academy Award categories this year could have had a very different look to them than we ultimately had.

Take a look:
Best Picture – There was a time when Unbroken was thought to be almost unbeatable in the Best Picture category. Other non nominees heavily spoken of early on were Big Eyes, Fury, Gone Girl, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Jersey Boys, and so on. Of course, once Cannes hit we all thought Foxcatcher was a surefire nominee, and we all saw what happened then. Boyhood was something I and many others figured would get in, but the frontrunner? Never in a million years would that have been a smart bet. Go figure.
Best Director – It’s pretty much the same her with Best Director. Names like David Ayer (Fury), Tim Burton (Big Eyes), Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Rob Marshall (Into the Woods), and Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) were bandied about, but this appeared to be Angelina Jolie’s to lose […]

The best films and performances of 2014

We’ve come to the end of the line, ladies and gentlemen. 2014 is about to be put into the books, with 2015 upon us in mere few hours. To close out the year, I wanted to pile on to the seemingly never ending group of articles filled with Top Ten lists and the like. I don’t want it to just be my list though, so below you’ll see that, but also my thoughts on the year as a whole, along with my picks for the best performances of the year as well a few specific category awards. Basically, this would reflect sort of what my Oscar ballot would look like in the major categories, though I’ll perhaps save that full look at a personal ballot for a more specific piece when voting comes to an end in a few weeks. We’ll see. Anyway, time to get this show on the road!
The cinematic year that was 2014 has been considered by some to be a real high water mark of late, while others felt that it was a severe let down. Me? I’m stuck in the middle. I had less films that I feel completely in love with than usual, but at the same time I had more films overall that I liked than in many of the prior years. As such, the movies sort of feel on par with the last few years to me. The very best of 2014 was incredible to me, featuring a few modern classics, so I can hardly call it a down year. Perhaps it was just that a handful of the most praised titles were ones that I didn’t go as nuts over, so that contributes to an odd feeling about 2014? Whatever the case, there were plenty of flicks that I adored, despised, and just plain scratched my head over. That makes for a full meal of a film year, so I can’t complain. That’s the year in a nutshell to me though…more of the same.
Obviously, there are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, so perhaps at this time next year we’ll all be remarking about how much better of a cinematic slate it was, but at the same time, there’s always the chance of a big let down. In that case, we’d be reminiscing about the halcyon days of now. It’s all a shot in the dark when […]

A Mid-October Oscar Predictions Update

Ladies and gentlemen, as I’ve been saying over the past few months…oscar predictions are a rather funny thing. Sometimes you have to just update them all wholesale in order to not be way off the mark/behind the times, while sometimes they only require a relatively small bit of tinkering as to be on the right track and not out on crazy limbs. That’s simply the nature of the beast, one where a single new contender on the horizon can upend the race, one way or another. With only a small amount of Oscar hopefuls still to be seen, we’re again waiting for a new contender to potentially change the landscape (I’m looking at you, American Sniper), now that we’re in a world where Inherent Vice has already unveiled itself and not particularly changed things at all. In any event, it’s time for a new predictions update!
If you look at what I have in this particular update, you’ll see that I’ve made some changes, but not a complete overall. Once again though, a special thing I have for you all is the addition of who I have next in line in the major categories. This will give you a better idea of what the larger landscape looks like. I’ll obviously need to update these all again in a few weeks, particularly after I hopefully see things like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but that’s one step ahead of the game for me. Until then (as well as when the other unseen contenders reveal themselves), the educated guesswork will just have to continue on a little bit longer.
In terms of my winners, I just want to say that I think just about every race is still wide open (give or take Best Supporting Actor) and I refuse to predict a split between Best Picture and Best Director this early in the game, so when I switch one, I have to change the other. As such, you’ll see a handful of new winners throughout the big eight categories. They could just be temporary, but time will tell in that regard. For now, that’s just how I see the race…
Well, enough talk though folks. I know you all just want to see how the predictions have changed, even if only a little bit, so let me oblige you. Here now are my most up to date Academy Award predictions:
BEST PICTURE
1. Boyhood
2. The Imitation Game
3. Birdman or […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Supporting Actor

As I’ve been mentioning to you all over the past couple of weeks, with the festival season well underway/now nearing completion 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 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 few 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 mostly 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 Supporting Actor field, which, like the other categories, won’t necessarily match up with Best Picture in any major way, but likely won’t be too far off from the pack in the end either. Read on to see what I’m talking about for this one…
One special note about Best Supporting Actor this year is that, unlike all of the other categories, it seems like there’s a fairly likely winner already. There are plenty of worthy contenders (with the top three being locks), so this isn’t a barren field, but it appears like the race is all but over already. You’ll see what I mean…
Here are the ten particular thespians that I have in play for Best Supporting Actor, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) – Barring something unforeseen, Simmons is just a matter of months away from not just receiving his first Oscar nomination, but also his first win as well. Simmons is explosive and downright phenomenal in Whiplash, giving easily one of the best performances that I’ve seen this year. His nomination is a sure thing, mark my words, with the Academy Award win almost certainly next to follow. I’d be shocked if he didn’t win Best Supporting Actor in a walk.
2. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) – For much of the season Ruffalo has basically been the de facto frontrunner in this category. Part of that was due to his film being baity, while part was due to Ruffalo being seen as someone who’d make a good winner. Now, having seen Foxcatcher, I […]

An October Oscar Predictions Update

Just as I said last month…oscar predictions are a funny thing. Sometimes you have to just update them wholesale in order to not be way off the mark, and sometimes they only require a relatively small bit of tinkering to be on the right track. That’s the nature of the beast, one where a single new contender can upend the race, one way or another. With only a day to go until Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is finally seen (yours truly will be there at the New York Film Festival), we’re waiting for a new contender to change the landscape, what with Gone Girl last week turning out great, but not as a game changer. In any event, it’s time for a predictions update!
If you look at what I have in this particular update, you’ll see a lot of what I had a few weeks ago, with small changes here and there. The big new thing I have for you all is the addition of who I have next in line in the major categories. This will give you a better idea of what the larger landscape looks like. I’ll obviously need to update this in a few weeks, particularly after processing Inherent Vice, but that’s one step ahead of the game. Until then, the educated guesswork will just have to continue a little bit more.
Well, enough talk though. I know you all just want to see how the predictions have changed, even if only a little bit, so let me oblige you. Here now are my most up to date Academy Award predictions:
BEST PICTURE
1. Gone Girl
2. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Foxcatcher
4. The Imitation Game
5. Boyhood
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Whiplash
8. Unbroken
9. American Sniper
10. Interstellar
Next in line: 11. Men, Women & Children 12. Inherent Vice 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. Selma 16. Mr. Turner 17. Rosewater 18. A Most Violent Year 19. Wild 20. Nightcrawler
BEST DIRECTOR
1. David Fincher – Gone Girl
2. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
4. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
5. Clint Eastwood – American Sniper
Next in line: 6. Christopher Nolan – Interstellar 7. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game 8. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash 9. James Marsh – The Theory of Everything 10. Angelina Jolie – Unbroken
BEST ACTOR
1. Michael Keaton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
3. […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Adam Sandler

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to sort of go back to the start of the series and take a look at someone who doesn’t get the respect that they deserve from the masses. Today, that person is Adam Sandler, one of the kings of comedy who also has a flair for drama when he decides to go that route. He’s a huge titan of studio comedy, for sure, but he’s got a load of talent for when he chooses to get serious. The laughs have shot him to the A-list, but when he’s gone for depth and emotion, he’s shown that he’s got some acting chops as well. He’s rather underrated overall, so a spotlight today is definitely in the cards for him.
Sandler got his start towards the A-list through television when he was cast on Saturday Night Live after a short stint on The Cosby Show. That established him as a jokester, something he’d transfer to the big screen with Airheads before actually getting to be the lead in Billy Madison. That was the start of “Adam Sandler”, with Happy Gilmore and a detour to action comedy with Bulletproof to follow. Sandler was starting to become “Sandler”.
He continued to become one of the biggest names in comedy with hits like Big Daddy, The Waterboy, and The Wedding Singer. He also had his first non blockbusters in Eight Crazy Nights and Little Nicky, as well as a successful return to form in Mr. Deeds. The most notable thing he did during that time however was attempt drama with Punch Drunk Love.
Sandler gets most of his respect through his serious performances. The aforementioned Punch Drunk Love was the first time he really showed how well he could pull it off (trusting Paul Thomas Anderson, which is never a bad idea), but since then he’s taken time out periodically to play it straight, always to great effect. Funny People, Reign Over Me, and Spanglish have represented some of his best performances. He sandwiches them around comedic performances in films like 50 First Dates, Anger Management, Bedtime Stories, Blended, Click, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, Hotel Transylvania, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, The Longest Yard, That’s My Boy, and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, but the movies where he doesn’t just go for the laughs are the ones where you really […]

The first Fall stab at Golden Globe predictions

It’s that time again…time to take a stab at Golden Globe predictions. As I previously mentioned in my last installment, I was originally planning on waiting to take a new look at Golden Globe predictions until the summer was over (so basically now), but I just couldn’t resist. Fast forward to today and I’m back now with what’s my fourth look at the Golden Globe Awards, with this time around, another new theory to try and drum up some different/more accurate predictions. Anyway, here goes nothing!
To reiterate one more time, the biggest difference that you’ll see here between the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is that they tend to go for the bigger names or the bigger productions, as well as more European fare. So yes, films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher are here, but they’re now joined by things like James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything and Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, potentially at the expense of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. You also still potentially lose certain indie players here, as you’ll see evidenced by much smaller nomination totals (or even shutouts) for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, just as one example, though others could be movies like J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year. On the flip side though, the inclusion of comedies and musicals allows longer shot work like John Carney’s Begin Again, Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods, and maybe even Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight or Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here to have a shot at not just contention for nods, but actual noms, as well as wins. Nominations that would have been wishful thinking with the Academy and AMPAS are very much in play with the categories that the HFPA deals in. That’s just the nature of the beast here folks.
Here now though, without any further delays on my part (since we all know that you’re really here just to see what I have below), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe predictions:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Gone Girl
3. Foxcatcher
4. The Theory of Everything
5. Unbroken
If there’s a sixth: Mr. Turner
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Inherent Vice
4. St. Vincent
5. Begin Again
If there’s a sixth: Neighbors
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne – The […]

Felicity Jones: Oscar newbies hoping for a first citation this year

Much like I took a look yesterday at veterans in contention for Oscar love the year, today I’m going to be turning my attention to the newbies who hope to receive some awards love. As I mentioned in the last piece, this is leading up to me doing a re-ranking of the contenders in all of the major categories beginning next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which rookies to the Oscar season are gearing up to hopefully make their big debuts on the awards circuit. Some are even in a position to win Academy Awards.
First up is Best Actor. In this race, the highest profile would be first time nominee would be either Steve Carell for Foxcatcher or Michael Keaton for Birdman. They’ve been frontrunners to many for basically this entire season. A tiny level down are more recent additions to the first timer’s party in Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Other contenders here with a strong chance include Oscar Isaac for A Most Violent Year, Jack O’Connell for Unbroken, David Oyelowo for Selma, Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner, and Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher. Rounding out the list, we have the likes of Gael Garcia Bernal for Rosewater, Ellar Coltrane for Boyhood, John Cusack for Love and Mercy, Richard Gere for Time Out of Mind, Bill Hader for The Skeleton Twins, and Miles Teller for Whiplash. Much like with the veterans, it’s going to be rough seeing how many worthy contenders don’t crack the lineup. This category is absolutely stacked.
Over in Best Actress, there are two major first timers right at the top of the list. They are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything and Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. They both represent major threats in this category, with Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin and Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars one level down. Also hovering around this category are Rosemarie DeWitt for Men Women & Children, Anne Dorval for Mommy, Mia Wasikowska for Tracks, and Kristen Wiig for The Skeleton Twins. The majority of the women in the ultimate Best Actress lineup this year will be vets, but the winner could very well turn out to be a first time nominee.
With the Best Supporting Actor contenders, the field is potentially being led by a first timer, with J.K. Simmons […]

A September Oscar Predictions Update

It’s that time again folks. Since we’re now into September, it’s time for me to come to you all once again with some new and (hopefully) even more up to date than ever Oscar predictions. As usual ladies and gents, I hope they’ll represent another bit of a change from overt speculation onward towards educated guesswork now that awards season is basically upon us (Telluride and Venice are in the books, with Toronto currently going on). We still have a long way to go in the season overall, as you probably can guess, and these new predictions will likely still be mostly wrong in the end anyway, but with each passing update (at least two a month now) I’m trying to figure it all out and get more and more confident in backing particular horses as opposed to others. If that sounds a bit repetitive to you, well…it’s still kind of the nature of the beast for this thing. If nothing else, this endeavor continues to sort of show where I’m coming from as the months pass and the race begins to change and evolve into something truly competitive and quantifiable, especially when precursor season kicks into gear.
Continuing on with the trend that I’ve had all year so far (including last month), you can see certain films standing above the rest. This time around, you can see movies like David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, and Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children are the ones that I have poised to be among the most nominated at this year’s ceremony. Overall, my predictions are only a little bit different this time around, but paying heed to some of the news I mentioned yesterday. I’m mixing and matching here now, trying to find the right match as buzz comes in on more and more contenders. It might not wind up particularly accurate yet, but until the festival season concludes and more of these movies actually screen for critics, we’re still guessing more often than not. It’s just a matter of trying to make the guesses more and more educated as the season progresses.
By now, you all must know that I could go on and on (and on and on…) about all of the changes I’ve made or considered making, but I know at this point […]

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