January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: brad pitt

Spotlight on the Stars: Brad Pitt

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s absolute bigger stars. He’s about as A-list as the A-list gets…the name? Well, Brad Pitt of course. Not only is he a movie star with all capital letters (MOVIE STAR!) and a top tier celebrity, he’s also developed into one of the industry’s best and most interesting actors as well. Pitt is the type of star that doesn’t rest on his laurels and often seems to attach himself to challenging material, something that will win the man an acting Oscar one day (he already won his first one last year for helping to produce Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave). As high as he’s soared already, the best could still be to come.
Pitt got his noticeable start in the business (after some uncredited acting jobs on the big screen and small spots on TV shows like 21 Jump Street, Another World, Dallas, and Growing Pains) with a supporting role in Thelma & Louise. The next year or so brought roles in films like Johnny Suede, Kalifornia, A River Runs Through It, and True Romance, but it was Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles that really began his ascent to the A-list. He certainly didn’t hurt his cause with work like Legends of the Fall, Se7en, and Twelve Monkeys (which got him his first Academy Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor). Factor in other work like The Devil’s Own, Meet Joe Black, Seven Years in Tibet, and Sleepers…well, the end result is that the man was a star.
Pitt has really become an A-lister with work like Fight Club. Ocean’s Eleven, Snatch, and Spy Game. That elevated him and allowed him to become a megastar in things such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Ocean’s Twelve, and Troy. He also made Babel, which helped signal that he’d be interested in helping auteurs tell stories as well. Sure, he cultivated celebrity status with Ocean’s Thirteen, but in the same breath he’d make The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Burn After Reading as well. The young A-list movie star Pitt was now officially one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. Since then, he’s continued to lend his talents to interesting work, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds, Killing Them Softly, Moneyball, and The Tree of Life, just to name […]

“Fury” announces itself as a potentially big time Oscar contender

Earlier on today, the embargo lifted on David Ayer’s new film, the World War II tank tale Fury. While some critics weren’t blown away by the movie, plenty of others were like myself and very fond of the flick. In fact, for the most part, Ayer’s film, which stars Brad Pitt as a tank commander in the final days of the second World War, has established itself as an awards contender. After all, Oscar loves WWII and killing Nazis, something this movie has in spades. One might be tempted to take the lack of unanimous praise as a warning sign, but I think the combination of prestige, likely box office, and subject matter will make this something a voter heavily considers.
For those who don’t know anything about Fury, it’s a World War II set action-drama that depicts a 24 hour period during the final days of the war. Set deep in Germany, a tank commander played by Pitt takes part in the last of the fighting. Along with his remaining regular crew, played by Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, and Michael Pena, plus his newest addition played by Logan Lerman, their tank (aptly named Fury) moves forward, taking out whatever Nazis they can find. Of course, despite victory being imminent, that’s easier said than done. Ayer writes and directs, showing off much of the same skill that made End of Watch an underrated classic in my eyes.
There’s a solid cast on display in this film, with memorable performances from Lerman and Pitt, in addition to the best turn from LaBeouf in some time. While the Best Actor race is far too crowded for Pitt to have any hope of a nod, a Best Supporting Actor nom for Lerman certainly isn’t out of the question. The cast play their parts as closely to those from classic war films as possible, while also attempting to bring something new to the roles. For the most part, they succeed too.
One of the best elements of Fury is the technical prowess that it shows off. From the costumes and production design to the cinematography to the film editing (done by End of Watch alum Roman Vasyanov), not to mention the score (from last year’s category winner Steven Price), sound effects, and visual effects, it’s all top notch. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if the movie managed to score a handful of nominations in those fields, […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Actor

As I mentioned last week and the week prior to that, with the festival season well underway and a good portion 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 and see what’s what in an updated and 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 Actor field, which won’t necessarily match up with Best Picture in any major way, but perhaps won’t be too far off either. Read on to see what I mean…
One special note about Best Actor this year is that it’s as deep as I’ve ever seen it to be at this point in the season. Each of the ten men that I have cited as the ones with the best chance at a nomination could presumably even wind up winning, and I’d go so far as to say that extends to the next few as well. When have we been basically in October previously and had a dozen viable contenders to win an Oscar? Besides that, you can go nearly 20 deep in terms of who could legitimately wind up getting nominated. It’s going to be a bloodbath when we whittle this down to the ultimate lineup…
Here are the ten gentlemen that I have in play for Best Actor currently, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point and time:
1. Michael Keaton (Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – You really can’t write a better narrative for a comeback performance than this one. Not only is Keaton a former typecast superhero turned critical darling in this film, his character is an actor trying to emerge from the shadow of the hero that he played. It’s the perfect storm not just to get him nominated, which almost surely will happen now, but the right combination of things to result in a win. Right now, he makes the most sense for this […]

Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar veterans hoping for another nomination this year

Each and every single awards season, there are tons of both newcomers and veterans to the Oscar game. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a bit of a look at those seeking their first nominations from the Academy, but today I’m going to be going ahead and listing some of the major players who’ve already been nominated before, and in some cases are already winners. It’s leading up to me re-ranking the contenders in the major categories next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which old hands to the Oscar ranch are saddling up for another ride on the awards season pony.
In the Best Actor race, the highest profile former nominee is Joaquin Phoenix, who will look for his first win this year with Inherent Vice. He represents the most likely non first time nominee who could win the Oscar in this category, though one level down we have Bradley Cooper for American Sniper and Bill Murray for St. Vincent, with Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler and Brad Pitt for Fury as other possibilities, plus Ben Affleck, who I’m counting here since he’s an Oscar winner, even if he’s never received an acting citation to date. Longer shots for nominations who’ve been to the dance before include Christian Bale for Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Philip Seymour Hoffman for A Most Wanted Man, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, Al Pacino for Manglehorn, Jeremy Renner for Kill the Messenger, and Mark Walhberg for The Gambler. Those fellas will be fighting it out with a bunch of first timers in this category, and it’s going to be a bloodbath.
Over in Best Actress, we have perennial bridesmaid Amy Adams hoping that this year she’ll finally be the bride with her work in Big Eyes. She’s going to be getting a challenge from both Jessica Chastain (for either The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Miss Julie, or A Most Violent Year) and Reese Witherspoon for Wild though. One level down you have Julianne Moore for Still Alice and Meryl Streep for Into the Woods, with other former nominees/winner on the hunt including Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant or Two Days One Night, Keira Knightley for Begin Again, Hilary Swank for The Homesman, Kate Winslet for A Little Chaos, and Robin Wright for The Congress. The newbies could seriously vie for a win here, but the vets have […]

The 84th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

Once again today I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent 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 truing to do that, time will still tell. Again, if nothing else, this gives 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, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Moneyball
The nominees here for this ceremony were The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. Obviously The Artist took it in real life, and Drive would have been my clear pick had it been nominated, but if I had been a voter my choice would have been between The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball. At the time, The Descendants would have been my pick, but now I think I lean towards Moneyball, so that would wind up getting my vote for Best Picture.
Best Director – Alexander Payne for The Descendants
I’d have voted for Nicolas Winding Refn here for Drive, but unsurprisingly he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Without Refn, I don’t have anyone I’m too wild about, but I think Payne might be the best of the bunch. The aforementioned Refn is easily my personal pick overall, but Payne is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Brad Pitt for Moneyball
In a perfect world, I’d have seen either Michael Fassbender rewarded for Shame, Ryan Gosling in the lineup for Drive, Tom Hardy cited for Warrior, or Michael Parks in for Red State and subsequently any of them would have been my vote (likely Fassbender), but such is life. The actual nominees here though were Demián Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt for Moneyball. The choice of these […]

Steve Carell: 2015 Best Actor contenders

As you folks all know by now, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions (including my own) at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen in six months, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.
Today I’m continuing with arguably the biggest of the acting categories…Best Actor.
Here are the ten thespians that I have in play for Best Actor, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) – I tried to stay away from this obvious pick early on, but after the phenomenal reviews out of the Cannes Film Festival, it’s silly not to have Carell in your top spot. There’s a small chance he could go Supporting in order for Foxcatcher to maximize potential nominations/wins, but right now he’s the clear frontrunner here. It’d be folly to bet against him at this point.
2. Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice) – I think we can all agree that Phoenix will win an Oscar one day, it’s just a matter of when. With his second collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson, an opportunity is front and center, provided of course that the material isn’t too out there for the average Academy member. We shall see, but rightt now you have to at least be considering him heavily.
3. Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) – The other leading man to really benefit from Cannes reviews, Spall seems more likely than not to score his first nomination for this biopic. Some have speculated that he could really challenge for the win too. I don’t quite see that happening, but hey…stranger things have certainly happened. Spall is probably the only person besides Carell that’s closing in a lock for a nomination this early.
4. Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) – Affleck is still without an acting […]

Angelina Jolie is our “Hollywood Actress of the Week” – Photo Gallery

Our selected star to be included in our “Hollywood Actress of the Week Photo Gallery” is Angelina Jolie
In 2011, Jolie made her directorial feature debut with In the Land of Blood and Honey, a love story between a Serb soldier and a Bosniak prisoner of war, set during the 1992–95 Bosnian War. She wrote the script after twice visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina in her role as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, with the aim of rekindling attention for the survivors of a war that took place in recent history. To ensure a sense of authenticity, she cast only actors from the former Yugoslavia, most of whom lived through the war—including stars Goran Kostić and Zana Marjanović—and incorporated their experiences into her script. The resulting film, which she also co-produced, was released in U.S. theaters entirely in the Serbo-Croatian-Bosnian language.

In the Land of Blood and Honey received mixed reviews from critics. Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times criticized its “contrived plot points,” but ultimately acknowledged that, as a first-time director, “Jolie accomplishes much in such a difficult area as the Bosnian war.” Writing for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis likewise criticized Jolie’s script, noting the story’s “somewhat awkward instructional, at times almost proselytizing aspect,” but opined that, for the most part, the film “moves briskly and easily holds your attention.” The film won the Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America, which honors films that highlight provocative social issues, and received a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It aroused both praise and criticism in the Balkans; the response from Bosniak war-victims advocacy organizations was “overwhelmingly positive,” while a Serb war prisoners group decried the film for its alleged anti-Serb bias. Sarajevo’s regional government named Jolie an honorary citizen of the capital for raising awareness of the war.
After a three-year absence from the screen, Jolie stars in Maleficent. She plays the titular role of Maleficent, the main antagonist from Disney’s 1959 animated feature Sleeping Beauty. The film will show the original story from Maleficent’s perspective, revealing the character’s background. She also directed “UNBROKEN,” a film about World War II hero Lou Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash over sea and spent two years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Joel and Ethan Coen rewrote the script, based on Laura Hillenbrand’s biography Unbroken.
Photos by PRPhotos.com

Oscars®: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “12 Years a Slave”

12 Years a Slave
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: John Ridley
Main cast members: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, and Alfre Woodard
Number of Oscar nominations in total: Nine
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (McQueen), Best Actor (Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actor (Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Nyong’o), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ridley), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing
Notable precursor wins: Tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, won Best Drama at the Golden Globe Awards, won Best Supporting Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and and USC Scripter Award.
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders and main frontrunners for the award
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay races

12 Years a Slave is the first film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s one of the main contenders in the category. The film is about the true life tale of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was tricked into slavery and kept for the dozen years that gives the movie its name. Ever since it was announced that the film was being made, pundits like myself speculated that it was going to be an awards juggernaut. Well, it didn’t disappoint and after being the most cited flick among the precursor season, it’s now one of the most nominated films by the Academy and deep in the fight for Best Picture.
Working in 12 Years a Slave’s favor is that it is basically a universally beloved film. There might be more passionate support for other contenders, but it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t think that the movie is at least very good, if not great. That creates a situation where voters are basically assured of placing it high up on their ballot. Consensus is the key to victory in this category, and this is a flick that will not want for number one votes. The question is simply if the other two main competitors (American Hustle and Gravity) can amass a wider range of Academy members to vote for them as opposed to this one.
If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s […]

Brad Pitt set to star in “Fury”

Columbia Pictures has acquired domestic distribution and a good portion of the available international distribution rights to David Ayer’s epic war film FURY, with Brad Pitt set to star in the leading role, it was announced today by QED International CEO Bill Block and Doug Belgrad, President of Columbia Pictures. QED is producing the film with John Lesher?s Le Grisbi Productions and Ethan Smith. Alex Ott is co-producing the feature with Ayer. Principal photography is set to begin in September 2013 and Columbia anticipates releasing FURY on November 14, 2014.
FURY is set at the very end of World War II, in April 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theater, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
?We loved this script from the moment we read it,? Belgrad said. ?This is epic and authentic storytelling at its finest and we couldn?t be more excited to be in business with David Ayer and Brad Pitt on this incredible story of sacrifice and heroism.?
QED and the studio previously partnered on the worldwide hit DISTRICT 9. FURY is Ayer?s second film with QED, which is financing and producing his ensemble action thriller TEN, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Worthington and Mireille Enos, and which is set for release from Open Road Films in January 2014. FURY also reteams Ayer with John Lesher, who produced his last film, END OF WATCH.
Josh Grode and Noel Lohr represented QED in the transaction.
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How Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie let children let loose during dinner

HollywoodNews.com: Although Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie seem to have pretty good control over their large family, it seems that when it comes to dinner time, they like to let their kids run wild.
It is rumored that when the family heads to Springfield, Missouri they always stop by Arris’ Pizza for a crazy dinner, states UsMagazine.com. And when they stop by, the place reportedly shuts down for the night so the kids can really go wild.
The children are allegedly allowed to jump on tables and even throw food at each other. Meanwhile, Brad and Angelina reportedly loosen up control on them and enjoy their time together.
Do you think this is good every once in a while?
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Image by PR Photos

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