January 02, 2015

Tag Archives: Buddy films

“American Sniper”: Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood enter the Oscar race

Yesterday it was announced that Clint Eastwood will have a second 2014 release hoping to sway Academy voters, and this one is a far more appealing fit for Oscar. It’s his adaptation of American Sniper, which Bradley Cooper stars in and has championed to the big screen. Cooper in fact initially had Steven Spielberg lined up to direct, but when he had to step away, Eastwood came on board and seemingly has utilized his efficient filmmaking techniques and gotten the project ready for release this year. Instead of coming out in 2015, American Sniper now is prepping for an Oscar qualifying release at the end of December.
For those of you unaware what American Sniper is about, it’s an adaptation of the novel by Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who recorded over 150 kills as a sniper before tragically dying on home turf in a shooting accident. Cooper will play Kyle, while the supporting cast includes the likes of Kyle Gallner, Lucas Grimes, Sam Jaeger, Sienna Miller, and more. The screenplay is by Jason Dean Hall and of course Eastwood is behind the camera. There’s certainly some potential here for awards attention, no doubt about that.
Back when Eastwood made Million Dollar Baby, this same release strategy was used to great effect. That was another film that initially wasn’t on the calendar, but then snuck up on folks. I remember the late Roger Ebert being one of the first to talk about it, saying it was going to win Best Picture, and go figure…it did. It also won Best Actress for Hilary Swank and Best Director for Eastwood, so I’m sure the powers that be are hoping that the same thing can happen here, just substituting Cooper into the Best Actor field instead.
If this film is good, one can certainly see it contending in the Best Picture, Best Director (for Eastwood), Best Actor (for Cooper), Best Supporting Actor (for Grimes perhaps), Best Supporting Actress (for Miller), Best Adapted Screenplay, and various technical Oscar categories. My guess is that Best Picture and Best Actor will be the major plays, as Cooper could look to turn his potential third nomination into his first Academy Award win. That’s just a hunch, but it’s not a total shot in the dark either.
Now, Eastwood hasn’t had the best track record with his movies of late. I’d in fact argue that you have to go back to the […]

Kevin Smith: As under appreciated a filmmaker as the industry has

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to do something a little bit different than usual. Rather than simply look at someone who’s got a film coming out this week, I wanted to highlight someone who I feel is one of the most under appreciated filmmakers in the business. It’s Kevin Smith, a writer/director/editor/actor/podcaster who’s managed to forge one of the more unique careers that Hollywood has ever seen. Some may take issue with him being an A-lister or a star (or even under appreciated), and Smith would likely be the first to say so as well, but he sells himself short. Even beyond his work, he’s looked at as an expert on comic book cinema. For example, when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, what other filmmaker was literally sought out by the press for comment? His mere set visit to Star Wars: Episode VII is considered an event worth writing about. That’s rare folks. He’s never been someone the Academy looks to for nominations (though I’ve heard rumors that he was in the number six spot for Chasing Amy in Best Original Screenplay) and that’s a shame. A few years back, they didn’t even pretend to consider some of the performances he got out of John Goodman and Michael Parks in Red State, and that was their loss. Don’t even get me started on the Joey Lauren Adams snub either for Chasing Amy. Point is, no matter how you slice it, he’s under appreciated and underrated in Hollywood. As such, I feel he’s more than deserving of me giving him some appreciation in this piece today.
Smith has been a trailblazer in this business. From his independent film beginnings with Clerks to his embracement of the world of podcasting, he’s ahead of the curve. He was ahead of his time in selling himself as part of the movie experience, doing Q and A sessions before or after screenings of Clerks, sessions that became so popular he still sells out venues to this very day, two decades later. He helped launch the career of Affleck, Jason Lee, and others. Smith’s impact on Hollywood has been rather wide ranging, frankly.
If you take a closer look at his work than most do these days, he’s shown an ability to handle multiple genres and themes, more so than many realize. The aforementioned Chasing Amy melded LGBT issues into a raunchy romantic comedy. Dogma […]

Clint Eastwood: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to go old school and take a look at a classic A-lister, and that happens to be one Clint Eastwood. Depending on your age, he’s either a director who used to be an actor or a childhood icon who’s now become a rather iconic filmmaker. Few could have reinvented themselves the way that Eastwood has, with this weekend’s release of Jersey Boys highlighting his directing skills in a whole new light than really ever before. He’s tried to do it all in Hollywood, you have to tip your hat to him for that.
Eastwood has basically done it all in the business. He’s starred in franchises (the Dirty Harry series as well as The Man With No Name movies), acted in Best Picture winners, and directed them as well. Though one could legitimately make the claim that his best days in Hollywood are behind him, there was a time when he was basically the king of the industry. Two of his directorial efforts (both of which he starred in and received Best Actor nominations for) won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and he had a long run of his work being repeatedly embraced by Oscar voters. He has four competitive statues at home (for producing and directing Million Dollar Baby as well as producing and directing Unforgiven) and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to show for it.
If you take a look at his work, he’s shown how an actor with one specialty could become a filmmaker with a completely different one. He was never on Oscar’s radar as a western star and even when he moved to the director’s chair, it was in genre fare. Slowly but surely he kept improving his work, culminating in Unforgiven in the 90’s being the first time voters cited a film of his, along with his own performance as well. Since then, he’s dabbled in comedies (Space Cowboys), mysteries (Blood Work, Changeling), war epics (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima), and even baity biopics (J. Edgar). Now he goes the musical route with Jersey Boys. You have to say this for Eastwood…he never sits on his hands (ironic, since he’s an accomplished piano player and musical composer as well, even getting a Golden Globe nomination for doing the score to Grace is Gone, which he was otherwise uninvolved in). He always has something […]

Jonah Hill: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a bit of a new A-lister, and that happens to be Jonah Hill. For some, he’s just another Judd Apatow guy, but realistically, he’s much more than that. He’s branched out on his own with a rather hilarious comedy franchise that began with 21 Jump Street and continues this weekend with 22 Jump Street (he also co-wrote both in addition to starring). He’s also gone the drama route and both times been rewarded with Academy Award nominations (for Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street), so he’s got some serious bonafides these days. You have to look at him as a member of the A list now, and someone who very well might be on their way to winning an Oscar before long.
Hill has worked with an impressive assortment of filmmakers so far in his career. That list includes the likes of Judd Apatow, David Gordon Green, Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, Bennett Miller, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. You probably never would have guessed that the guy who got his start playing second fiddle in films like Accepted would become one of more in demand actors in Hollywood. It just goes to show where real dedication and hard work can get you.
If you actually look at his work, he’s show more range than he’s given credit for. The types of performances he gives in movies like 21 Jump Street (along with 22 Jump Street on Friday, which is just as good, trust me there), Funny People, Knocked Up, and Superbad are tremendous, but they’re very different than what he’s shown us in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street. Especially with that latter performance, he was able to seamlessly blend comedy and drama, which is the way he’s going to one day win that statue, likely in the Best Supporting Actor category that he’s gotten a pair of citations in already.
Overall, Hill is a genius comic actor with some stunningly good dramatic chops as well. He’s got the very amusing 22 Jump Street opening in a few days and later this year he’ll make another play at awards with the drama True Story, co-starring James Franco. He’ll likely continue to mix and match between comedy and drama, which is perfectly fine in my book. I greatly look forward to watching Hill continue to grow as an actor and […]

“Toy Story 3″: The Top 25 (Best Animated Feature)

Onward we go folks with this weekly series of mine that I’m doing here at the site. Yes, we’re talking the top 25 Oscar winners in just about every single one of the Academy Award categories out there to be discussed. As you know, aside from the shorts and something like Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing like I already mentioned previously, I’ll be hitting them all over the coming weeks and months. Of course, that includes the big eight categories, a few of which I’ve already knocked off. I’m also potentially going to do one that doesn’t exist (a fictitious Best Ensemble category), but that’s just an idea I currently am toying with. We’ll see about that one.
Today I’ll be tackling a category I teased you all about last week, with this one being the…Best Animated Feature field. As you all certainly know by this point, depending on the category in question, I may wind up discussing the individual winners I’m citing pretty specifically or just giving more of a broad overview of the winners. For now though, I’m still keeping it fairly simple and saving the more expansive installments for the biggest of the categories. Like I’ve said over the past month or so though, in all honesty, you all mostly just want to see the lists anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that particular regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the next couple of paragraphs once again. Also of note here, there won’t be 25 winners listed, since the category isn’t 25 years old yet (and in actuality is still just a teenager). In short, I’ll be ranking the entire history of the category.
This time around, I’m going to be taking the overview route again, since as mentioned above, it’s an abbreviated list. Still, there are a number of different types of animation on display below, from anime to hand drawn to computer animated, so it’s another week where the list contains something for everyone. As such, it’s again a matter of taste, at least to some degree. Are you a Pixar fan? A back of Hiyao Miyazaki? Either way, there’s a cartoon for you here.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit now, even if that’s a good portion of the entire category’s history. To me, the best winner of this category so far to […]

Seth Rogen – “Neighbors” Premiere – Photos

“Neighbors” conquers this weekend’s box office. Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron, it is the story about a couple with a newborn baby facing unexpected difficulties after they are forced to live next to a fraternity house.
“Not only is he (Seth Rogen) one of the biggest comedy stars on the planet, he’s also a multi-hyphenate, having co-written and co-directed This is the End (along with having co-written The Green Hornet, Pineapple Express, and Superbad, to name a few). He’s probably the most successful of the Judd Apatow troop so far, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

By and large, his best films often are broad comedies (like his newest movie opening this week, the very funny flick Neighbors), with Rogen being a likable oaf. He’s a rare leading man who doesn’t look like a leading man. Sometimes, like in Knocked Up or Zack and Miri Make a Porno, that works for the narrative itself, increasing the effectiveness of the films. He’s like a big teddy bear, so you want to like his characters, plain and simple. He’s been able to subvert that here and there in more offbeat works like Observe and Report, but for the most part he’s the guy you want to love in his projects.

On the flip side though, Rogen has from time to time gone towards more dramatic parts, and he’s done quite well there too, I might add. The best example of that is Take this Waltz, where he’s amusing but very much a dramatic character, and a romantic one too, at that. He was Oscar nomination worthy there, as were many elements of that sadly ignored film. The same goes for his supporting turn in the dramedy 50/50, where he was ignored by the precursors as well. He was also quite good in another dramedy, Apatow’s Funny People, so he’s got more going on than some realize.

Overall, Rogen is a bit of an underrated actor, with more talent than he’s given credit credit for. With this week’s Neighbors showing him in a slightly different light than usual (he’s still an immature comedic character, but he’s also shown as a husband and a parent, hinting at some more responsibility than he usually has), it could be that Rogen is on his way to trying something new. I certainly hope he keeps trying his hand at dramedies, as he’s potentially going to get […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Seth Rogen

Here we go with another installment of my Spotlight on the Stars series (the return of it too after a few weeks spent looking at more under the radar folks). As a refresher, each week I’ll look at an A-list actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some kind of a way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend (like most weeks, honestly) or just because I feel they deserve to have a moment in the sun, but each time it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to.
For this week’s piece, I wanted to take a look at our first mainly comedic actor, and that would be Seth Rogen. Not only is he one of the biggest comedy stars on the planet, he’s also a multi-hyphenate, having co-written and co-directed This is the End (along with having co-written The Green Hornet, Pineapple Express, and Superbad, to name a few). He’s probably the most successful of the Judd Apatow troop so far, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
By and large, his best films often are broad comedies (like his newest movie opening this week, the very funny flick Neighbors), with Rogen being a likable oaf. He’s a rare leading man who doesn’t look like a leading man. Sometimes, like in Knocked Up or Zack and Miri Make a Porno, that works for the narrative itself, increasing the effectiveness of the films. He’s like a big teddy bear, so you want to like his characters, plain and simple. He’s been able to subvert that here and there in more offbeat works like Observe and Report, but for the most part he’s the guy you want to love in his projects.
On the flip side though, Rogen has from time to time gone towards more dramatic parts, and he’s done quite well there too, I might add. The best example of that is Take this Waltz, where he’s amusing but very much a dramatic character, and a romantic one too, at that. He was Oscar nomination worthy there, as were many elements of that sadly ignored film. The same goes for his supporting turn in the dramedy 50/50, where he was ignored by the precursors as well. He was also quite good in another dramedy, Apatow’s Funny People, so he’s got more going on than some realize.
Overall, Rogen is a […]

Another great Hollywood Vanity Fair bash… Stars, Stars, Stars

Vanity Fair upped its Oscar game last night. They build a huge multi level tented building in the parking behind Sunset Plaza. Traffic snaked back and forth on Sunset Boulevard in both directions. There was a big security plan, with metal detectors at the check in. And then you arrived to find an avalanche of stars. Stars and stars. Two by two, or three by three, they came.
Inside the main room, just to the right, if you could find them through the fog of formally attired people, Jane Fonda and Anjelica Huston set up a beach head. Many stars, old and young, were crowded into this area including Jane’s beau, Richard Perry, and Sarah Paulson, plus Quincy Jones, who was busy looking for Petra Nemcova, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. Rosaria Dawson and Gabrielle Union weren’t far away. Sitting on a couch in a section nearby, the fabulous oldies group– Mickey Rooney and Martin Landau. And they were hosting this year’s nominee June Squibb.
Praise god– Don Rickles and his wife were entertaining Don’s many fans. “Do you have any Oscar jokes? I asked Rickles. “If you’re paying me!” he said. I did get a photo.
Just at the entrance to this room I tripped over Bill Hader, who was reconnecting with Will Forte and Paul Rudd, with a big group of comics around them. Hader made a beeline to see Larry David. In time that group was joined by hit pop star Ed Sheeran, who’d just come over from playing at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation fundraiser. Only 23, Sheeran– who’d been hanging with Taylor Swift–is about to break out in a big way. His new single comes this week, with a new album in June.
From there I headed to the upper level party, where Bill Murray and a big group had come to occupy a huge round room with Art Deco-ish banquettes– a hold over from past VF parties. They store their sets! This is where a lot of guests were dining on In and Out Burgers. Here were lots of people carrying Oscars, from “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” crew to winner Lupita Nyong’o. Super model Karolina Kurklova and her husband Archie Drury were getting burgers. Amazing since it looks she only eats celery stalks!
And yes, chowing down, was our old pal Kerry Washington, a month away from giving birth, radiant and round.
The thing about Vanity Fair’s parties is […]

“Monsters University” and “Pacific Rim” take Hollywood Film Awards Honors

The 17th Annual Hollywood Film Awards announced today that Disney/Pixar’s “Monsters University,” directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, will be the recipient of the Hollywood Animation Award, and Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures “Pacific Rim” visual effects supervisor John Knoll will receive the “Hollywood Visual Effects Award” at the Hollywood Film Awards Gala Ceremony.
The announcement was made today by Carlos de Abreu, founder and executive producer of the Hollywood Film Awards. He said: “John Knoll’s groundbreaking work on Pacific Rim sets a new standard in visual effects. The robots and monsters in the film truly come to life through the best visual effects of the year. Once again, the animation and storytelling of “Monsters University” reflects Pixar’s creativity and greatness.”

The award will be bestowed at the Hollywood Film Awards Gala Ceremony on Monday evening, October 21, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Hollywood Film Awards honors cherished stars, filmmakers and up-and-coming talent, and traditionally kicks off the film awards season with the biggest stars and top industry executives in attendance.
“We are very proud to be the first stop of the awards season. In the last ten years, a total of 96 Oscar® nominations and 34 Oscars® were given to the honorees of the Hollywood Film Awards,” said de Abreu.
Last year’s awards show received more than 41 million media impressions, in addition to more than 300 million online and print readers’ impressions.
About Dan Scalon
Dan Scanlon made his animated feature directorial debut with Disney/Pixar’s 14th feature film, “Monsters University,” which has grossed over $700 million dollars worldwide since its June 2013 release. He also co-wrote the film’s story and screenplay. As a youngster in Clawson, Michigan, Scanlon possessed a love for Warner Bros. cartoons, animated Disney films and, as fate would have it, Pixar short films. His passion inspired him to study film and animation in high school and in college where he focused on illustration at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). Upon graduating from CCAD, Scanlon began working as an animator and story artist for Character Builders, a 2D animation company that produced feature and commercial work in Columbus, Ohio. Scanlon joined Pixar Animation Studios in September 2001 as a storyboard artist on Disney/Pixar’s award-winning features “Cars” and “Toy Story 3.” During the initial production stages for both films, he worked to translate the director’s story ideas into […]

“This Is The End” New Trailer

The comedy “This Is The End” follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles.
As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption.
Check the trailer below

DIRECTED BY
Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
SCREEN STORY & SCREENPLAY BY
Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
PRODUCED BY
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Nathan Kahane, Nicole Brown, Jason Stone, Barbara A. Hall, Ariel Shaffir, Kyle Hunter
CAST
James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson with Michael Cera and Emma Watson
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