December 11, 2016

Tag Archives: brad pitt

Hollywood Contenders – “The Big Short” continues to impress on the precursor circuit

About a month or so ago, The Big Short first started making the pre release rounds, building up buzz and goodwill. Then, critics were able to begin chiming in, speaking about how fond they were of Adam McKay’s film. Now, in the past few days, the precursors have supported the movie as well, in particular the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. In the case of the latter, the flick now has guild support. All this is to say that The Big Short is not going away and has impressed me as a late contender really managing to make its mark on the award season so far. With it opening in limited release today, now’s a perfect time to take another look at it.
One more time, a quick primer on what this is about. The film is an adaptation of the best selling Michael Lewis nonfiction book of the same name. It centers on the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks in the mid to late 2000’s. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it, seeing what was coming before anyone else did. We watch as those few outsiders in the industry with foresight like the characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling. They make their moves, all as the collapse gets closer and closer to happening. The aforementioned McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation of Lewis’ book with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes, besides the previously mentioned Bale, Carell, and Gosling, the likes of Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, and quite a few more in addition to those already cited. Cinematography is by the great Barry Ackroyd as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so The Big Short already had a pedigree to it, that’s for sure. It’s just been interesting to see it take that ball and really run.

I’ve praised this movie already before, so what I mainly want to talk about now is the recent run of good luck on the precursor circuit that it’s had. SAG gave it two nominations on Wednesday (Best Supporting Actor for Bale and Best Ensemble, which is like a Best Picture nomination), while the Globes really dug it yesterday, heaping four nominations […]

Hollywood Contenders – “The Big Short” is trying to crash the Oscar party

Almost every year, we get a late breaking contender into the Oscar race that hopes to upend things and carve out a spot for itself across the board. Last year, that hopeful was American Sniper, and we all know how well that did (no sarcasm there, for once). This year, Paramount is hoping to copy the successful play of Warner Brothers and drop The Big Short into late Academy Award contention. Having seen the film last night, I can vouch for it potentially being able to make a dent in the Oscar lineup. It’s an angry, entertaining, and unique look at the financial collapse, with an A-list cast all doing strong work.

The film is an adaptation of the best selling Michael Lewis book of the same name. It’s about the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it, seeing what was coming before anyone else did. We watch as those few with foresight like the characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling make their moves, all as the collapse gets closer and closer. Adam McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation of Lewis’ book with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes, besides the aforementioned Bale, Carell, and Gosling, the likes of Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, and quite a few more in addition to those already mentioned. Cinematography is by the great Barry Ackroyd as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so The Big Short already has a pedigree to it, that’s for sure.
What really works here is how McKay not only gets such great work from his cast (Carell and Gosling are best in show, if you ask me, though everyone pulls their weight), but how he’s able to take so many complicated concepts and whittle them down to something we can all understand. It’s a complex film, but he does so many experimental things (like having characters break the fourth wall to tell us which scenes were real and which were fabricated, along with some other surprises I won’t spoil), leading to a flow that really works. It might be too focused and smart for others, but it’s also very funny at times, though you’ll possibly […]

The best of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

There aren’t many power couples in Hollywood anymore, but Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are certainly one of them. They haven’t worked on the same project together since Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but tomorrow they co-star in By the Sea, which Jolie also wrote and directed. I wrote briefly about this one last week, and honestly the film itself isn’t anything special, but it is an excuse to talk about some of their work, so in that regard, I’m glad it’s coming out. Both have Academy Awards to their credit and both are among the biggest A-listers we have, so there should be plenty to discuss…
In case you’re not aware what By the Sea is, here’s a short refresher. The film is a 1970’s set look at a married couple unraveling/trying to save their union while vacationing in a small seaside town after an untold tragedy. Jolie (or as she’s credited, Jolie Pitt) plays Vanessa, a former dancer while Brad Pitt is Roland, a writer, both of whom are dealing with the tragedy in their own way. She lies in bed and he drinks, basically. They’re essentially caught in stasis, though the arrival of newlyweds Lea (Melanie Laurent) and Francois (Melvil Pouopard) stirs them somewhat, particualry when voyeurism comes into play. Jolie writes, directs, and stars with Pitt here, while other members of the cast include Niels Arestrup, Sarah Naudi, and more. Cinematography is by the great Christian Berger. Overall, it winds up feeling like a vanity project for the actress (more so than the couple), but voters have gone for that sort of a thing in the past and as an A-lister, she’s earned this chance.
First up, this is what I would say would be the top ten performances Jolie has given so far:
10. The Bone Collector
9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
8. Beyond Borders
7. Wanted
6. Beowulf
5. Pushing Tin
4. Changeling
3. The Good Shepherd
2. A Mighty Heart
1. Girl, Interrupted
When it comes to Jolie, she’s given less outstanding performances than you’d think, but she’s also shown a lot of range by tackling almost every single genre out there. Without question, her best work came in Girl, Interrupted, which won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Other top tier performances from Jolie include Changeling (which got her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress), The Good Shepherd, and A Mighty Heart. The Academy has also given her an honorary Oscar, namely the Jean […]

Hollywood Contenders – Angelina Jolie’s “By the Sea” is finally revealed

Last night, the very first look at Angelina Jolie’s passion project of sorts By the Sea was given to folks at AFI Fest. As one of the last titles to have not shown itself to basically anyone (along with The Hateful Eight, Joy, and The Revenant), it’s been an X factor for basically all of 2015. Now that it has been seen by some, it’s a perfect time to take a look at if the Academy will be considering this one at all. Initially reviews have been mixed at best, so that’s not an immediately positive sign, but it does have a lot of ingredients that could still appeal to Oscar. With it hitting theaters next week, now’s the perfect time to discuss just that…
The film is a 1970’s set look at a married couple unraveling/trying to save their union while vacationing in a small seaside town. Jolie (or again, Jolie Pitt) plays Vanessa, while Brad Pitt is Roland, both of whom are dealing with tragedy in their own way. They’re essentially caught in stasis, though the arrival of newlyweds Lea (Melanie Laurent) and Francois (Melvil Pouopard) stirs them somewhat. Jolie writes, directs, and stars with Pitt here, while other members of the cast include Niels Arestrup, Sarah Naudi, and more. Cinematography is by the great Christian Berger. Overall, it does seem like a vanity project for the actress, but voters have gone for that sort of a thing in the past.

What will determine the fate of By the Sea, more so than these first reviews (which veer towards being unkind as opposed to kind) is whether audiences will come see something like this. If there’s a notable box office and proof that this duo brings butts into seats, Oscar voters could take notice. When it comes to the Academy Awards, money doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean something with middle of the road titles like this one. Voters used to go for actors or actress who wrote and directed their own passion projects all the time, but they had to be financially successful first. That will be the biggest hurdle for this flick here.
Awards wise, I think the odds favor a shut out for By the Sea more than anything else, give or take some mild precursor attention. That being said, a campaign will likely be mounted for it all the same. Look for it to be at […]

“Bridge of Spies” represents one of the few unseen Oscar hopefuls left

As of today, there are only a small handful of titles vying for Oscar consideration that have yet to be seen by anyone. Specifically, I can think of ten films that have awards aspirations, to one degree or another. Some are very likely Best Picture nominees, while others are likely technical players or bust. Still, at this point, here in early October, there aren’t too many unseen movies left, so this is worth taking note of. As such, below you’ll see a bit on all of the flicks that are still mysteries or X factors to us. A couple are only days away from revealing themselves, but a few will be unseen for quite some time still…
Take a look at these ten unseen 2015 contenders:

The Big Short – The newest entry into the race, this financial criss flick could be just what the season needs. With possible acting contenders like Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, along with a legitimate chance to compete in the Best Picture field if all goes well, there’s a lot to like here. AFI Fest will be where this reveals itself, so it’ll be about a month until find out if this is a contender or a pretender.
Bridge of Spies – In just two days time I’ll be seeing Steven Spielberg’s latest at the New York Film Festival. All eyes are on this one, since it feels like a ready made winner in a ton of categories, even if that’s not what I’m currently predicting. Tom Hanks could return to the Best Actor lineup, among many other aspects of this film, so stay tuned for my Tweet out of NYFF this weekend. It could foreshadow if we have a big time threat or a small scale player here.
By the Sea – This passion project from Angelina Jolie stars herself and husband Pitt as a married couple, instantly aligning this one with some of the classic pairings of yesteryear. This will also debut at AFI Fest, which always reveals one or two late stage players. Could this be one of them? We’ll find out in November, but if you ask me now, I think it’s a bit of a long shot. That’s just a hunch though, so sit tight for the actual answer next month.
Concussion – A lot of the chatter about this one has centered on its relationship with the NFL during […]

Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling – “The Big Short” enters 2015 and could shake the Oscar race up

Something kind of big just came our way folks. Yes, the shake up to the awards season that we’ve been hoping for might have made its entrance. The film in question is The Big Short, which was originally set as a high profile 2016 release. Now though, it’s been announced as having a late 2015 release date, with a big debut at AFI Fest as well. As such, the Paramount release has to be considered a potentially big contender in a bunch of categories, particularly since the announcement also coincided with a Trailer dropping. Simply put, it looks very good. It hasn’t been a boring season yet, but the potential was there, so this new contender is welcome in my eyes…
The movie is an adaptation of the Michael Lewis book of the same name. It’s about the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it. Adam McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Melissa Leo, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, and quite a few more as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so it’s fair to assume that The Big Short could certainly follow in the Oscar nominated footsteps of both…

What has me so intrigued by this new Academy Award hopeful is that we’ve yet to really see anything that feels like a slam dunk Best Picture nominee. Moreover, I don’t think any of the acting or writing categories are locked up, not to mention Best Director. The closest might be Spotlight of the films that have screened so far (more on that one soon), but the unseen contenders are what we’re really banking on this year. With the rest of 2015 filled with movies that could do well but could also fall short, something like this flick really does give voters one more high profile option. We’re just speculating, but that’s the name of the game.

In terms of awards, The Big Short could wind up all over the place if it’s as good as the Trailer looks. Nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (for McKay), Best Actor (for either Bale, Carell, Gosling, or Pitt, depending on category placement), Best Supporting Actor (some combination of Bale, Carell, Gosling, or Pitt, depending […]

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: “By The Sea” New video

Written, directed and produced by Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie Pitt, By the Sea serves as her directorial follow-up to Universal Pictures’ epic Unbroken. The dramatic film stars Brad Pitt and Jolie Pitt, who are supported by an international ensemble led by Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Arestrup and Richard Bohringer.
By the Sea follows an American writer named Roland (Pitt) and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie Pitt), who arrive in a tranquil and picturesque seaside resort in 1970s France, their marriage in apparent crisis. As they spend time with fellow travelers, including young newlyweds Lea (Laurent) and François (Poupaud), and village locals Michel (Arestrup) and Patrice (Bohringer), the couple begins to come to terms with unresolved issues in their own lives. In its style, and its treatment of themes of the human experience, By the Sea is inspired by European cinema and theater of the ’60s and ’70s.

Jolie Pitt is joined behind the scenes by a key crew that includes cinematographer Christian Berger (The White Ribbon), who used his Cine Reflect Lighting System to shoot the film; production designer Jon Hutman (Unbroken); editor Patricia Rommel (The Lives of Others); and costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps). Pitt joins her in production duties, while Chris Brigham (Inception), Holly Goline-Sadowski (Unbroken) and Michael Vieira (Unbroken) serve as executive producers.

Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Arestrup and Richard Bohringer

Leonardo DiCaprio: Looking at potential Best Actor contenders

Folks, as you all know from last year as well as my articles again so far this year, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen six or so months from now, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know something about what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m once again 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. It’s old hat to you by now, I’m sure, but hey…
Today I’m continuing with another of the bigger ones that’s out there for us…the Best Actor category.

Here are the ten gentlemen that I have in play for Best Actor, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) – Everyone pretty much agrees that DiCaprio will win an Oscar one day, it’s just a matter of when. Could it be this year? He’s the odds on favorite for many, and while I’m not sure it will happen, I can’t argue that he seems to be the most likely contender right now. The Trailer we saw suggests a physical and intense role, so if he can impress as much as we think he potentially can here, it might just be his time.
2. Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans or Macbeth or Steve Jobs) – A lot will depend on which film asserts itself as Fassbender’s prime vehicle. Steve Jobs seems like it’ll be the one most likely to work for him, but that remains to be seen. I can’t shake the feeling that Fassbender isn’t going to win for that role, so perhaps The Light Between Oceans or Macbeth will wind up making a late charge? His candidacy is one of the more interesting subplots in this year’s Best Actor race, if you ask me…
3. Matt Damon (The Martian) – Perhaps a bit of wishful thinking on my part, […]

Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”: The Best Baseball Films of All Time

Play ball! With Baseball season coming next week, I wanted to do something a little bit fun and look at not just the best sports movies, but the best baseball movies ever made. There’s more than a few to choose from, with a solid handful starring Kevin Costner, I might add. I’m even going to make some potentially controversial choices, as you’ll see below. It’s all in good fun though, and as I get set to spend another year getting my heart broken by the New York Mets, I wanted to put this out there for you all. Enjoy and get ready for baseball…
Here are the ten best baseball movies of all time:
10. Rookie of the Year – Perhaps a lot of this is nostalgia fueling the pick, but I have a real soft spot for the story of a kid who winds up pitching for the Chicago Cubs. It’s wish fulfillment for pre teen boys and a little on the scattershot side, but it’s certainly got a charm. I couldn’t resist putting this on my list, since it’s, you know…my list.
9. Major League – Baseball often transitions to comedy, with this film perhaps being the most successful pure comedic outing of the lot. The sports movie cliches and elements are handled well here, but they’re buoyed by the laughs that are liberally spread out through the entire film. It’s just a ton of fun.
8. Fever Pitch – I really dug the look at baseball fandom contained within this romantic comedy. I’m not sure how appealing it is to die hard baseball fans of sole rom-com nuts, but if you have an affinity for both sides, this merges the two worlds surprisingly well. I think it’s incredibly underrated, quite frankly.
7. Little Big League – The slightly more mature version of Rookie of the Year’s wish fulfillment, this movie looks more at coaching and the front office than at playing ball. It’s still plenty silly, but the premise gets a little bit more gravitas, as it were. Still, nostalgia is at work here, no doubt about that.
6. The Natural – An undisputed classic, I’m not quite a high on it as most others, but I still recognize it for what it is. This is a great film that perhaps suffers a small bit from heavy praise, but clearly deserves its place in history all the same. I like it a lot, […]

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 […]

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