July 10, 2015

Tag Archives: American film directors

“Creed”: An under the radar Oscar contender?

Ladies and gentlemen, I know it sounds silly, but a sequel/spinoff from Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films might be in awards contention this year. Yes, the upcoming movie Creed is another installment in the franchise centered around fighter Rocky Balboa, but this one takes a U-turn. Instead of being about Stallone’s pugilist, it’s about former rival turned friend Apollo Creed’s son. Rocky is more the trainer than the protagonist, essentially re-launching this series with a grittier and younger bent to it. A Trailer hit last week and really impressed me (which you’ll see below), leading me to wonder if the Academy might once again be interested in this franchise?
For those who don’t know, the first Rocky with a big time Oscar contender, nominated for ten Academy Awards and winning three (Best Picture, Best Director for John G. Avildsen, and Best Film Editing). Stallone himself was cited two times, for Best Actor as well as Best Original Screenplay. The franchise became a bit sillier each time out, as Stallone stepped behind the camera (except for Rocky V, which had Avildsen direct again) and made his hero a superhero, essentially negating the interest voters had in it. The most recent sequel, entitled Rocky Balboa, brought a measure of respect back to the series, so now Creed hopes to capitalize on that.
This film centers around Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, best known for Fruitvale Station), the son of former champion Apollo Creed. Fans of the franchise know that Apollo has passed on, so it’s fellow former champ Rocky Balboa who steps in as a trainer to help Adonis follow in his father’s footsteps. Essentially, this looks to be more of the first Rocky than any other in the franchise so far, while also functioning as basically a reboot of sorts. Ryan Coogler (of Fruitvale Station fame as well) co-writes with Aaron Covington and directs, while aside from Jordan and Stallone, the cast includes Graham McTavish, Phylicia Rashad, and Tessa Thompson. Taking the series back to its roots might be just what the doctor ordered.
The main reason to be excited for this one is seeing Coogler and Jordan work together again. They both broke through in a big way with Fruitvale Station, a film that was majorly snubbed by the Academy. This time around, they’re getting to tell a similarly gritty (if fictional this time out) story, just couched around an established franchise. Especially if […]

INSIDE OUT- New Film Clip

Do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head? Disney•Pixar’s original new film “Inside Out” ventures inside the mind to find out.
Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else.

When Riley’s family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.
Directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.”, “Up”), produced by Jonas Rivera, p.g.a. (“Up”) and featuring an original score by Michael Giacchino (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Up”), Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out” opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.

Notes:
· Director Pete Docter is the Academy Award®-winning director of “Up.” He made his directorial debut with Disney•Pixar‘s smash hit “Monsters, Inc.,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature film. Along with John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, Docter developed the story and characters for “Toy Story,” Pixar‘s first full-length feature film, for which he also served as supervising animator. He served as a storyboard artist on “A Bug’s Life” and wrote the initial story treatment for “Toy Story 2.” As one of Pixar Animation Studios’ key creative contributors, Docter garnered an Academy Award nomination for his original story credit on Disney•Pixar’s Golden Globe®- and Oscar®-winning “WALL•E.”
· Jonas Rivera produced the Academy Award®-winning “Up,” for which he was nominated for best picture. Prior to “Up,” he had worked on nearly every Pixar film since joining Pixar Animation Studios in 1994, beginning with “Toy Story” for which he served as production office assistant. His subsequent credits include “A Bug’s Life” (as art department coordinator), “Toy Story 2” (as […]

Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” gets a compelling Trailer

It’s been a pretty good week for Trailers, I must say that. We’ve already gotten looks at a number of potential Academy Award players, including Everest and The Walk, but now Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks throw their hat into the ring with Bridge of Spies. This dramatic Cold War thriller, which got a Poster just yesterday, is considered by many to be the Oscar frontrunner in a number of categories, including Best Picture. As such, this was looked at with much anticipation, to say the least. You’ll be able to see the Trailer below, but take it from me…this looks like a contender to reckon with folks.
The story here has an American attorney (Hanks) being recruited by the CIA during the height of the Cold War to help rescue a downed pilot detained in the Soviet Union, while also negotiating the swap of a Soviet prison held by the United States. Hanks leads the charge, with Alan Alda, Domenick Lombardozzi, Billy Magnussen, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, and Austin Stowell also in the cast. Spielberg obviously directs, with Matt Charman having written the script that was then polished up by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (yes, the Coen Brothers along with Hanks and Spielberg). Janusz Kaminski is the cinematographer here and Thomas Newman composes the score, making for a truly A-list crop of talent involved in this one.
From the Trailer, it appears that Spielberg is working well within his comfort zone, albeit with a superb master’s touch. Hanks looks great, while the thriller nature of it will surely be a box office draw. They may not be reinventing the wheel here, but it appears to be smart adult cinema that will more than satisfy in the fall. There’s no doubt that this is poised to be something pitched directly at members of the Academy. You can’t possibly know if voters will respond just yet, but there’s no reason to amend any predictions after this first look. Everything suggests an Oscar contender from the word go.
Awards wise, the possibilities are basically limitless here. Best Picture obviously comes to mind, including pseudo frontrunner status, but that’s not all. There’s also Best Director (for Spielberg), Best Actor (for Hanks) Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress (for Ryan), Best Supporting Actor (for Alda, Magnussen, or Rylance), Best Original Screenplay (for Charman and the Coens), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, […]

The Ten Best Horror Remakes of All Time

As I’ve mentioned a few times already this year, horror is a genre that doesn’t get a whole lot of respect. The same goes for remakes in general, so when you discuss horror remakes, you can expect a distant lack of appreciation. Still, there are some gems to be found, and with the release this weekend of a Poltergeist remake, I wanted to count down the best that this sub-genre has to offer. You might think that there’s a complete dearth of quality, but I was able to find a solid handful of titles that make for a more than respectable lineup.
Here now are the ten best horror remakes of all time:
10. Halloween – Not an incredibly popular choice, I know, but my heart has a soft spot within it for this one. I’m honestly not sure why, but I jived with what musician turned writer/director Rob Zombie was doing here. Old fashioned at times, but also very brutal and modern, this was a slasher that worked more than was expected.
9. The Crazies – Most of you have forgotten about this remake by now, but it’s surprisingly tight and effective. Breck Eisner is a mostly anonymous filmmaker in terms of his style and someone you’ll never confuse with George A. Romero, but this was his best work to date. It’s not extraordinary, especially as a pseudo zombie flick, but it manages to still leave a mark.
8. Evil Dead – Is it overly gory? Yes, but there’s a marvel to be had at the mostly practical effects work. It’s also way better than it should have been. Sam Raimi didn’t direct again, but the script (including an uncredited bit of work by Diablo Cody) is on point and once the blood starts flowing, it gets as intense as anything you’ve seen in the genre.
7. Nosferatu the Vampyre – Perhaps best known as what inspired Shadow of the Vampire in a way (which I almost considered cheating to include), this is one of Werner Herzog’s finest moments, if you ask me. Unique and both modern and old fashioned in equal measure, it stands out.
6. The Last House on the Left – One of the best modern remakes, this is both brutal and surprisingly classy. Dennis Iliadis is a director that deserves to work more, considering his masterful grip here. There’s weight to the violence here, which is almost never the case in […]

Cate Blanchett in “Carol”: Our first big Oscar contender from Cannes 2015

Over the past week or so, the 2015 Cannes Film Festival has slowly unveiled some big time releases. Some, like Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees, have turned out to be longer shots for any Academy Award attention. On the other hand, Cannes has seen Todd Haynes’ Carol launch towards the top of quite a few Oscar contention lists. Yes, while the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, and Emma Stone saw their chances fade, Cate Blanchett, Kyle Chandler, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson certainly had their stock rise. Carol is the cream of the Cannes crop so far…
As a primer, the film is an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt (later retitled Carol). In it, Blanchett plays a married older woman who begins a flirtation and then an affair with a younger woman, played by Mara. Chandler plays Blanchett’s possessive husband, while the cast also includes the aforementioned Paulson in a vital role, alongside the likes of Carrie Brownstein, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, and more. Haynes directs, obviously, while the adaptation of Highsmith’s book has been penned by Phyllis Nagy. In some ways, this sounds like similar material to Far From Heaven, but if that is the case, that doesn’t mean that Oscar won’t be very interested, regardless.

I think that this one has some huge awards potential, both at Cannes and beyond as we move towards Oscar season. For starters, it’s certainly a contender now for the Palme d’Or prize as well as citations for Haynes and Blanchett at the fest. At the end of the year, when The Weinstein Company puts it out, it’ll likely be one of the bigger Academy Award players as well. This is one that you really can’t ignore, especially after the glowing reviews from the festival. Before that, it was still a strong possibility given its pedigree, but now…well, things are all that much better for Harvey Weinstein’s likely big shot at Oscar gold.
How good could this one do? Well, I don’t think Carol will wind up leading the field, but Best Picture, Best Director (for Haynes), Best Actress (for Blanchett and/or Mara), Best Supporting Actor (for Chandler), Best Supporting Actress (for Mara and/or Paulson), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score represent potential nominations. Yes, a double digit total is something that […]

Life of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in LOVE & MERCY

Behind the fun fun fun of The Beach Boys was the fascinating and genius singer/songwriter Brian Wilson. Love & Mercy presents an unconventional portrait of the iconic Wilson — portrayed by two actors, Paul Dano in the ’60s and John Cusack in the ’80s — and examines his musical brilliance, personal voyage and ultimate salvation.
Love & Mercy, co-written by Oscar® nominated screenwriter Oren Moverman, also stars Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, and is directed by Bill Pohlad, known as the Academy Award®-nominated producer for such bold films as Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain.

Love & Mercy arrives in theaters on June 5, 2015

Are the Oscars too broken to be fixed?

“When a show goes so wrong (and has for so long), it’s not just the result of a few tactical errors. It’s not even because of alleged strong differences of opinion between the producers and host Harris (the rumor mill started even before the show had ended). Rather, it’s the culmination of problems that have been festering for years. There’s an increasing gulf between the moviegoing public’s tastes and the Academy’s. And there’s a decreasing relation between the artfulness of the Oscar films and their box-office performance,” says the Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Galloway.
As a lover of Hollywood cinema since I was 5 years old, it hurts me that the Oscars keep sliding and not soaring. No other film event can ever be the Oscars. However, if the Academy’s leadership continues chasing the “young demographics” instead of putting on an entertaining show that focus on honoring quality “cinema” and the art of filmmaking in all its disciplines, the Oscars destiny will be continued erosion that soon will reach the point of no return.
Let’s turn this around… we still have time.

To read more go to HollywoodReporter.com
Photos by PRPHOTOS.COM

“FROZEN FEVER”: New Trailer Now

The trailer for ‘FROZEN FEVER’ is now available. The highly-anticipated follow-up short to the global phenomenon FROZEN can be seen exclusively in theaters with Disney’s new live-action CINDERELLA, starring Lily James and Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett, on March 13, 2015.

In ‘Frozen Fever,’ it’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever, but when Elsa catches a cold, her powers may put more than just the party at risk.
· Walt Disney Animation Studios? 2013 feature film ‘Frozen’ won two Academy Awards® (best animated film and best original song with ‘Let It Go’) and a Golden Globe® (best animated feature film). It is the fifth highest grossing film of all time and the highest grossing animated film earning more than $1.27 billion globally. Released wide domestically on Nov. 27, 2013, ‘Frozen’ posted the No. 1 industry all-time Thanksgiving debut and Walt Disney Animation Studios biggest opening ever. The digital and Blu-ray/DVD release was one of the biggest home-entertainment successes of the last decade.
· Director Chris Buck (‘Frozen’) helmed the 1999 Disney classic ‘Tarzan’ (with Kevin Lima) as well as the 2007 Oscar®-nominated ‘Surf’s Up’ (with Ash Brannon). His animation credits also include 1989’s ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ (1990) and ‘Pocahontas’ (1995).
· Director Jennifer Lee (‘Frozen’) is one of the screenplay writers of 2012’s arcade-hopping comedy adventure ?Wreck-It Ralph.? Her screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’us ‘The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights’ is being produced by Troika Pictures. She has an original screenplay in development with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, and her original script ‘Lucid Dreams’ was optioned by Wolfgang Peterson’s Radiant Productions.
· Producer Peter Del Vecho’s (‘Frozen?) credits as producer include 2011’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and 2009’s ‘The Princess and the Frog.’ He served as associate producer for ‘Chicken Little’ and ‘Treasure Planet.’
· Producer Aimee Scribner served as associate producer for Disney’s Oscar®-winning ‘Frozen’ and 2011’s ‘Tangled.’ She produced the 2012 short ‘Tangled Ever After.’
· Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote the original songs for ‘Frozen,’ including the Oscar®-winning song ‘Let It Go.’ The ‘Frozen’ soundtrack is Billboard’s top-selling album of 2014 and spent 33 weeks in the top 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, including 13 weeks at No. 1. It is certified triple Platinum, selling more than 3.9 million units. The ‘Let It Go’ film clip from ?Frozen? has been viewed more than 370 million times on YouTube. […]

Will we have a split between Best Picture and Best Director?

As Oscar voting ends later on today, one of the big questions that remains in my mind is…will there be a Best Picture/Best Director split? Aside from trying to figure out whether Birdman or Boyhood takes the top prize, there’s also the possibility that they each go home with one of them. That leads us to the issue of how likely this is, and which film/director would go home with which statue. Will Alejandro González Iñárritu turn his Directors Guild of America win into a Best Director victory while Boyhood takes Best Picture? Will Richard Linklater wind up winning Director while Birdman transitions its Producers Guild of America win into Picture at the Oscars? It’s all up in the air, but Academy Award voters are finalizing their decisions today, so it’s getting sorted out, basically as you read this.
First of all, there’s the matter of if we’ll get a split at all. I think we have the likeliest situation perhaps in history in terms of this, at least where both major contenders are up for both categories. It was different, for example, when Ben Affleck was snubbed for Argo but the film itself was almost a lock for Best Picture. Voters here could easily pick either Iñárritu or Linklater as well as their films for both prizes (or even Best Original Screenplay too, though that seems more likely to go to The Grand Budapest Hotel now). Historically, I almost never predict splits, since they don’t often happen and you run the risk of picking the wrong combination, etc. Last year that caused me to pick Gravity to win Picture even though I knew 12 Years a Slave was ultimately going to go home with it. This year though…I’m actually contemplating the split. Regardless of that, I think it’s at least a 50/50 shot that one happens.
Now, if there’s a split, what does it look like? There’s one camp that sees Boyhood winding up with the Picture win while Iñárritu gets Director as a consolation prize. I actually think that the more likely scenario has that flipped, with Linklater getting Director and Birdman taking home Picture, but either is definitely possible. The thing is, Academy members don’t engage in group think, as it were. They vote as individuals, so you can’t quite plot a scenario where everyone goes home happy. For example, a split, along with The Grand Budapest Hotel winning […]

And the winners of the 2015 British Academy Film Awards are…

Boyhood has been named best film at this year’s BAFTA awards, with Richard Linklater also awarded as best director and Patricia Arquette winning best supporting actress. With a total of five awards, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is the evening’s most awarded film, recognised for its original screenplay, makeup/hair, both costume and production design, and for its music.
The Theory of Everything won the award for outstanding British film as well as best adapted screenplay and best actor for Eddie Redmayne for his portrayal of the young Stephen Hawking.
Winners of outstanding British debut are Stephen Beresford (writer) and David Livingstone (producer) for Pride, which was backed by the BFI Film Fund.
The winners were announced at a ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House hosted by Stephen Fry.

Explore the Best of BAFTA collection on BFI Player
Best film
Winner: Boyhood
Birdman – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood – Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman
The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony Mccarten
Outstanding British film
Winner: The Theory of Everything – James Marsh, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten
’71 – Yann Demange, Angus Lamont, Robin Gutch, Gregory Burke
The Imitation Game – Morten Tyldum, Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman, Graham Moore
Paddington – Paul King, David Heyman
Pride – Matthew Warchus, David Livingstone, Stephen Beresford
Under the Skin – Jonathan Glazer, James Wilson, Nick Wechsler, Walter Campbell
Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer
Winner: Stephen Beresford (writer), David Livingstone (producer) – Pride
Elaine Constantine (writer/director) – Northern Soul
Gregory Burke (writer), Yann Demange (director) – ’71
Hong Khaou (writer/director) – Lilting
Paul Katis (director/producer), Andrew De Lotbinière (producer) – Kajaki: The True Story
Film not in the English language
Winner: Ida – Pawel Pawlikowski, Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzieciol, Ewa Puszczynska
Leviathan – Andrey Zvyagintsev, Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov
The Lunchbox – Ritesh Batra, Arun Rangachari, Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga
Trash – Stephen Daldry, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Kris Thykier
Two Days, One Night – Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Denis Freyd
Documentary
Winner: Citizenfour – Laura Poitras
20 Feet from Stardom – Morgan Neville, Caitrin Rogers, Gil Friesen
20,000 Days on Earth – Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Virunga – Orlando Von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara
Animated film
Winner: The Lego Movie – Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Big Hero 6 – Don Hall, Chris Williams
The Boxtrolls – Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable
Director
Winner: Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Birdman […]

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