October 27, 2016
        "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars        

Tag Archives: anna kendrick

“The Accountant” seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster

As I wrote about earlier this week, Ben Affleck is a pretty huge star in Hollywood, and rightly so. He can often command the screen, and later this week he has another star vehicle to showcase just that. It’s The Accountant, a slightly high concept shoot em up that has Affleck both in hero mode as well as serious actor mode. It’s an odd mix, one that sort of works, but also sort of doesn’t. It’s worth seeing if you like silly action flicks, though it can be a bit frustrating because of the effective drama put on display as well. Through it all though, Affleck shines.
The film is an action thriller centering on Christian Wolff (Affleck), a seemingly mild mannered accountant. Christian suffers from autism, though he’s high functioning and has a much different skill set from others on the spectrum. You see, his father also trained him to be a brutally efficient killer. So, while he has a front at a storefront CPA office, he also un-cooks the books for all sorts of unsavory and dangerous individuals. A legit job puts him into contact with Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), who provides a human interaction, but also raises the danger level when she’s targeted for assassination. Soon, he has her on the run while he tries to figure out why killers are after them, led by an odd one in Brax (Jon Bernthal). Through it all, the government, fronted by Treasury agent Ray King (J.K. Simmons) is closing in. It all gets ridiculous in the end, but it does mostly satisfy. Gavin O’Connor directs a script from Bill Dubuque. Also on hand in the cast are the likes of Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jason Davis, Seth Lee, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Robert C. Treveiler, Andy Umberger, and more. Seamus McGarvey lenses, while Mark Isham provides the score. There’s a surprising bit of talent on display here, even if not everyone is fully utilized.
Having seen it last night, I can report that this is a fun, if very silly, action flick. Affleck especially grounds this in a form of reality, at least in terms of his character’s condition. The plot machinations are dumb and often nonsensical, so there’s no realism there, but the lead does his part. O’Connor is a hit or miss filmmaker, and this showcases his best and worst tendencies. The movie never seemed like an awards player or anything […]

Miles Teller shines in the long delayed comedy “Get a Job”

For literally years now, I’d been looking forward to seeing Get a Job, the new (or newish, in this case now) film from Dylan Kidd. Last week, after an incredibly long delay/time spent sitting on the shelf, I finally saw the flick, which will be hitting theaters this Friday. I’m thrilled to report that it’s good stuff too, fully underserving of the fate it had been stuck with up until now. Honestly, even if it were terrible, I still don’t understand why it never was released. Director Dylan Kidd was a promising up and coming indie filmmaker, leading man Miles Teller has become a bigger and bigger star, and the supporting cast has the likes of Allison Brie, Bryan Cranston, and especially Anna Kendrick in it. That sounds more like a big time studio comedy than an ignored indie, right? Throw in how timely a subject it was tackling (one that’s still just as timely, unfortunately) and it’s ridiculous that we’re only first talking about Get a Job now. At least we’re talking about it though, and I’m going to do my part to talk it up today.
The film follows a college graduate named Will (Teller) as he navigates life in the real world, especially in terms of finding a job. Will wants to do something that inspires him and remain true to himself, but he has bills to pay and a girlfriend named Jillian (Kendrick) on a successful path that needs him to man up. So, he hits the pavement, looking to score some gainful employment. At the same time as Will and Jillian take their first steps into adulthood, Will’s father Roger (Cranston) loses his job and is out struggling like everyone else. This is a funny comedy, but also one with something important to say about careers and employment. Kidd directs from a script by Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel, with the rest of the large ensemble cast, in addition to the aforementioned Brie, Cranston, Kendrick, and Teller, including Nicholas Braun, John Cho, Jorge Garcia, Marcia Gay Harden, John C. McGinley, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Brandon T. Jackson, and more.
A quick word on the journey the project took to actually reach the big screen. It started casting in early 2012 and was in production that year as well, meaning that this has taken over four years to come to a theater potentially near you. This is after Kidd basically […]

“Grandma” and “Mistress America”: Ten Films to see in August

Welcome to August folks! As always, I like to take a look at the month in advance to see what cinematic offerings are coming our way. This time out, it’s obviously the August releases that I’m going to be prepping you for, and once again as an added bonus, I’ve seen a couple of them already. Despite the reputation that the month gets for being a summer dumping ground, there are reasons to be optimistic here. In fact, August is potentially shaping up to be a very solid month overall for cinema, so you’ll likely have multiple things to see starting later on this week. Take a look below and obviously stay tuned for more on many of these…
Here now are the ten best bets for movies in August:
10. Fantastic Four – The superhero reboot has my curiosity, despite the original outings being poor, at best. The cast is excellent (including Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Miles Teller), the behind the scenes talent is solid, and the Trailers so far have been strong. I see it in two days, so I’ll have a better idea then if this is an early August gem or not, but I have a hunch it’s going to be a well liked comic book film.
9. American Ultra – Last time we saw Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart share the screen, it was in the deeply underrated Adventureland, so I’m very hopeful that this will feature the same strong chemistry between them. This time it’s a stoner action comedy, not a coming of age dramedy, but my hope springs eternal. It’s definitely an X factor for now, but the potential is certainly there.
8. Ricki and the Flash – I see this one tonight, so I’ll know then if Meryl Streep is an Oscar lock again (look for an article before the week is out), but the combination of Streep with scribe Diablo Cody and director Jonathan Demme is more than enough to make me look forward to this evening. Throw in a potentially juicy supporting role for Kevin Kline and this could be right up the Academy’s alley. Stay tuned…
7. Shanghai – One of the surprises this month is that we’ll actually see this John Cusack period piece. A half decade ago I first started looking forward to this one, wondering if Cusack could score a Best Actor nod for it. That nom didn’t happen, […]

“Pitch Perfect 2” represents the rare female centric comedy franchise

A few years ago, a musical comedy of sorts came almost out of nowhere to become a hit. It was Pitch Perfect, a film that managed to defy minimal expectations and forge not just a hit single (Cups), but also now a movie franchise. Yes, this weekend Pitch Perfect 2 hits theaters, riding high on fan excitement after the last one made over $100 million worldwide on a budget of merely $17 million. This time around, the now franchise has loftier goals, but if the early buzz is to be believed (I see it later on tonight), this one is just as good, if not better. If so, we’ll have the rare female-centric franchise out there to combat the many testosterone laced ones already in the marketplace.
In case you didn’t see the first one, this is a music-filled comedy about The Bellas, the all-girls singing group at Barden University. Pitch Perfect centered around the entrance of Becca (played by Anna Kendrick) into the group, which took them up a notch. This time around in Pitch Perfect 2, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition in order to gain some respect after an embarrassing prior performance and the loss of some members to graduation. Kendrick leads the cast, which also includes Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Britney Snow, Alexis Knapp, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Katey Sagal, John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks, who also directs. Besides Banks making her directorial debut (taking over from Jason Moore), scribe Kay Cannon returns to write this one.
Clearly, one of the biggest charms of this series is watching the actresses all interact with each other. With Kendrick in the lead role and especially with Wilson being so out there, there are a ton of nice moments that really do charm you. Throw in Banks’ supporting role (her interactions with Higgins are often priceless, making him one of the few male roles of note in these movies) and there’s a strong ensemble cast on display. This time around, it’s easy to assume/expect that Sagal and Steinfeld will be welcome additions to the franchise. They could very well be part of why Pitch Perfect 2 winds up working as well as the first one did.
The other big selling point is the music. This is almost like karaoke in a way, as the Bellas participate in A cappella tournaments that basically invite you to sing along. Pitch Perfect […]

“Mad Max: Fury Road”: Ten Films to Look Forward to in May

With the end of April upon us next week, I wanted to turn our attention to May and the cinematic treats that might be held there. It’s essentially the start of the summer movie season, so there’s a slight turn that takes place in terms of what comes out. There are a few less notable indies, while the mainstream titles veer towards blockbuster status. In fact, a nice grouping of the biggest Hollywood smash hit hopefuls are hitting in May. You’ll see the ones below, clearly, but I tried to mix it up, going from tiny indie horror to massive comic book franchise sequel, with plenty in between. Enjoy!
Here are ten May releases to anticipate…
10. The Ladies of the House – A small independent horror film from John Stuart Wildman and Justina Walford, it offers a welcome throwback to the days of exploitation. I feel like Russ Meyer and Eli Roth would appreciate this in equal measure. It’s genre fare and not for everyone, but those who have a stomach for this sort of thing will likely enjoy discovering some new filmmaking voices. Look for it on May 1st.
9. San Andreas – Dwayne Johnson vs an Earthquake? I’m sure that’s enough to sell a ticket for many of you. I haven’t heard much buzz about this one, but on May 29th we can watch all hell break loose. It’s fair to say that this one could wind up being really entertaining, if likely in a dumb sort of way. We’ll find out on May 29th.
8. Good Kill – I saw this drama at the Tribeca Film Festival (after it came there following a debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier on in 2015) and on May 15th, you can too. It offers up Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot, which is timely, if nothing else. The movie is solid too, so I can recommend it on its merits as well.
7. Pitch Perfect 2 – The sequel to the surprise hit from a few years ago, this is basically fan service, but we rarely get that in the form of a girl power mid level dance comedy, so you can’t take issue with it at all. Anna Kendrick and company are all back, so if you dug the first one, you can see it on May 15th.
6. Welcome to Me – Kristen Wiig wins the lottery and gets own talk show. […]

The 82nd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

As I mentioned last time out, this series has officially returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent (or now recent-ish) Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m going to be attempting to do just that, time will still tell if it’s something that gets stuck with or not. Again, if nothing else, this continues to give you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.
Alright then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks for this particular ceremony:
Best Picture – Up in the Air
The nominees here were A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up. The main snub here, in my book at least, was (500) Days of Summer, and I nearly went with the actual winner in The Hurt Locker, but Up in the Air was my #1 film of this year, so that made it pretty academic in the end.
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
A history making and diverse category this time out, the field consisted of Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. I believe Marc Webb was snubbed for (500) Days of Summer and really wish that Reitman had come closer to winning, but when you come right down to it, I can’t argue with Bigelow. The first woman to ever win Best Director gets my vote here as well.
Best Actor – George Clooney for Up in the Air
Here the nominees were Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker. The Academy missed the boat on nominating Sam Rockwell for Moon, but aside from him, I’d have to go for Clooney.
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for An Education
The big snub to me here was Zooey Deschanel for (500) Days […]

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 […]

Movies to look forward to at the Sundance Film Festival

This week, the Sundance Film Festival gets underway, seeking to highlight the best in independent film. I won’t be in Park City this year, sadly, though I have been in the past and can vouch for it as a really unique and enjoyable (if exhausting) festival to attend. In honor of its 2015 start, I wanted to run down some of the higher profile titles that could make a dent on the awards season later on this year. If not Oscar players, these could at least become the indie darlings of the season, or perhaps just crossover successes. Had I been in attendance at Sundance, there’s almost two dozen movies that I’d be hoping to catch, but I whittled a list down to just ten of the ones I want to highlight most. Take a look…
Here are ten films to look forward to once they leave Sundance:
10. Digging For Fire – In the last few years, Joe Swanberg has really upped his game, not only in terms of casting bigger names, but also coming up with compelling plots that still fit his unique filmmaking personality. Hopefully he continues the trend with this latest venture, which features a great cast, including Rosemarie DeWit, Jake Johnson (who co-wrote the script), Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Ron Livingston, Chris Messina, Sam Rockwell, and Jenny Slate, along with many others. Swanberg is on a high, so fingers crossed here.
9. I Smile Back – I was impressed by Sarah Silverman’s partly dramatic turn a couple years ago in Take This Waltz, so a full on serious role has me very intrigued. Silverman co-stars with Josh Charles and Thomas Sodoski in the story of an unhappy married woman lashing out with numerous vices. Silverman deserves this sort of a role, so I’ll be eager to see if she aces it.
8. A Walk in the Woods – Festival godfather Robert Redford stars here with Nick Nolte in a movie about old men talking, essentially. Doesn’t immediately sound too amazing, but I have to say, the chance to witness them going back and forth is rather appealing. It’ll likely be a mellow film, but I’m down to check it out.
7. Brooklyn – The latest script from novelist turned screenwriter Nick Hornby is a period piece set in 1950’s Ireland. Saoirse Ronan is the star, along with supporting players Jim Broadbent, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson. This one seems to […]

Jennifer Aniston hopes to score a Best Actress nomination with ‘Cake’

One of the more interesting things about film festivals is seeing how the various well regarded independent films are handled once the tests end. Some seek to capitalize on their buzz and open as soon as possible, while others strategically plan to begin their release later on in the year, or the next year entirely. In the case of Cake, the Jennifer Aniston led dark comedy was initially planning to be held back until 2015, but now it’s seeking to upend the Best Actress race with a late 2014 push. Aniston was snubbed once before for The Good Girl, so could Cake represent a chance for the Academy to make it up to her? It’s far from a sure thing, but something tells me that this isn’t something to sleep on. A long shot? Perhaps, but one to consider at the very least.
Cake is a dark comedy/drama with Aniston headlining a cast that includes Anna Kendrick, the late Misty Upham, William H. Macy, Britt Robertson, Lucy Punch, Chris Messina, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, and Felicity Huffman. Daniel Barnz is in the director’s chair, while Patrick Tobin wrote the screenplay. At the Toronto Film Festival, some buzz began for the movie, mostly centered around Aniston’s performance. Now, it’s been picked up for distribution and is planning a 2014 campaign for her in Best Actress, beginning with a one week qualifying run at some point in December.
Aniston has only really been in serious contention for an Oscar nomination once before, when she was the toast of the town for The Good Girl. That nod never wound up happening, and she’s never come close since. Now though, it’s possible that a nom could be within reach, especially considering that there’s at least one spot wide open in the Best Actress category. At the very least, this is her best chance since that snub.
Something to consider in her benefit is the wealth of strong reviews she received out of Toronto. Also, the bottom half of the Best Actress race is perfectly set up for one more contender. Aniston would have to jump up over a lot of other hopefuls, but none of them are particularly untouchable in any way, shape, or form. A few citations on the precursor circuit could easily begin to sway people to really consider this candidacy. Perception can sometimes become reality, so if Aniston is deemed a truly viable […]

Golden Globe predictions for October

With the month of October almost complete and the precursor season having officially kicked off yesterday morning with the Gotham Award nominations (I’ll be writing about that on Monday or Tuesday as part of something more substantial about precursors), now’s a perfect time for my monthly set of Golden Globe predictions. Some might consider it a bit too early still, but not me. It’s time. Especially considering some of the embargoed things I’ve seen this month (including one big one I can’t talk about yet), it’s high time to discuss the Globes again.
To reiterate the basics to you all 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 at times. So yes, some films that do better here might not do quite as well with Oscar. Certain titles will do about the same with both groups, like potentially Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, or Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game. You also still might lose certain indie players here, as you’ll see evidenced by much smaller nomination totals (or even shutouts) for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (though that one can go either way considering it’s potentially a frontrunner for Best Picture), 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, Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods, and Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent 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 (or just harder to come by) 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 delay on my part (since we all know that you’re really here just to see what I have below in each category), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe predictions. Behold:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Interstellar
3. Unbroken
4. Boyhood
5. The Theory of Everything
If there’s a sixth: Gone Girl
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Whiplash
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. […]

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