September 17, 2015
        "Black Mass" could get Johnny Depp back in the Oscar game                J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve: Ten potential first time writer/director nominees for Oscar in 2015                Roger Deakins offers up some of his very best cinematography in "Sicario"                "The Martian" launches itself as an awards hopeful at the Toronto Film Festival                "Steve Jobs": Oscar predictions for September                "Sleeping with Other People" is one of the most charming films of 2015                Sandra Bullock looks like a contender in the Trailer for "Our Brand is Crisis"                Sam Smith will sing the theme song for the upcoming 007 film "Spectre"                Richard Gere is an under the radar Best Actor contender for "Time Out of Mind"                Telluride and Venice launch festival debuts into the Oscar race                “The Hateful Eight”: Looking at potential Best Original Screenplay Contenders                David O. Russell and Ridley Scott: Which filmmaking contenders this year are most due for their first win?                Telluride Announces 2015 Lineup - Steve Jobs, Black Mass, Suffragette                “Sicario”: Ten Films to see in September                Will Smith crusades for Best Actor in the "Concussion" Trailer        

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Sandra Bullock looks like a contender in the Trailer for “Our Brand is Crisis”

Yesterday, a Trailer dropped for Our Brand is Crisis, the political drama/satire hybrid that I’ve been predicting for Oscar attention all year. With it, we got our first real look at a film that could certainly liven up the impending awards season. David Gordon Green’s movie is getting a premiere shortly at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, and assuming reviews are strong, this will quickly become more than just a Sandra Bullock vehicle, but a legitimate Academy Award contender as well. We’ll know soon enough, but this very solid Trailer is a hint that this is something to be excited about, especially if you’re looking for another contender to enter the race.
Here’s a quick refresher on the movie. Basically, it’s based on the documentary of the same name (Our Brand Is Crisis, of course), which focused on the use of American political campaign strategies in South American elections. Specifically, it was a Bolivian politician named Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada hiring James Carville’s political consulting firm to help him win the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Carville works to use American political campaign strategies, leading to a different outcome than might otherwise have been. For the film, Bullock will play ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, basically a stand in for Carville, I believe, though Billy Bob Thornton as a rival consultant with a bald head makes me wonder if he’s actually the Carville stand in. Regardless, aside from Bullock and Thornton, also in the cast are Ann Dowd, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie, Scoot McNairy, and more. Green directs, as mentioned before, with the script penned by Peter Straughan. The potential for something special is certainly there, it seems.
I’d always considered this a player more so than most, and the Trailer that you’ll be seeing below seems to indicate that I might be on to something. Not only does it look to showcase Bullock in a great leading role, it appears to be Green’s largest scale filmmaking to date. It’s easy to look at Our Brand is Crisis and think that it’s a cousin to Ben Affleck’s Argo, which also was produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. I’m sure all involved here would be thrilled if this one came even close to what that one did, but there’s certainly a chance.
If there’s one thing the Trailer for this movie really showed us, it’s that we’ve got a showcase for Bullock’s talents on our hands. […]

“Magic Mike XXL” is one of the most purely entertaining films of the summer

There are few franchises with less likely of a crossover appeal than Magic Mike. The first one shocked many by engaging both critics and audiences alike, myself included. Today, the sequel Magic Mike XXL opens, and go figure, it’s a great film as well. Magic Mike took the idea of a story about male strippers and filtered it through the distinctive lens of filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, opting to make it as much or more about money and economic hardship/the quest for prosperity than about the dancing. Magic Mike XXL is almost the exact counterpoint to that, going for a party feel and celebrating the dancing/lifestyle in the process. It shouldn’t work, but Channing Tatum and company really make it soar.
Though very loose on plot, this one does pick up three years after Magic Mike ended. The title character Mike is now out of the game, but single again. His former co-workers get a reunion of sorts going with him and before long he’s on a road trip with Big Dick Richie (Joe Manganiello), Ken (Matt Bomer), Tarzan (Kevin Nash), Tito (Adam Rodriguez), and Tobias (Gabriel Iglesias). They’re headed to a stripping convention in Myrtle Beach, dancing and partying along the way. Aside from Tatum in the title role, the cast also includes Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Andie MacDowell, Michael Strahan, and others. Soderbergh no longer directs, but he’s the DP and editor for longtime assistant Gregory Jacobs, who’s at the helm here. Producer and scribe Reid Carolin again provides the script, which is loose and fun in all the right ways.
While the stripping was kind of a bait and switch last time around, it’s very much at the forefront of things here, which should make Magic Mike XXL shallow, but instead just makes it sex positive and a somewhat surprisingly innocent good time. How does that work? Well, it celebrates female desire and pleasure, but keeps almost all the hanky panky off screen, so it’s your imagination that fills in the blank. It’s an unusually subtle choice for a sequel that’s otherwise all about being bigger in every way, shape, or form that it can be. Instead of being a dark and almost cautionary tale, this one is a road trip/party flick that’s about the bonds of friendship, doing what you love, and making that one last right count.
The thing that works best here, though pretty much […]

The New York Film Festival is upping its Oscar game this year

With only three announcements, the annual New York Film Festival has managed to make their 52nd fest probably the biggest one of the year. I’ve been going the past few years and it’s slowly transformed into an awards season destination, but 2014 seems primed to be the year they really start to challenge the Toronto Film Festival for Oscar launch pad supremacy. Their Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing selections are always top notch selections, but this year they really seem to have outdone themselves. NYFF may very well have their best slate ever, and they’re still announcing the rest of their lineup at some point in the next few days.
In the Opening spot, they’re debuting David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Fincher has been there before with The Social Network, so he certainly knows how bit a launching pad this can be. When that movie debuted, it almost ran away with the entire Oscar season, at least until The King’s Speech stole the show at the end of the precursor season. This time around, his mystery/thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike will seek get him back into the Best Picture and Best Director lineup. From the early looks of it (as well as this big time slot), the odds of that seem pretty good for Fincher and Gone Girl.
In the normally more low-key Centerpiece spot, they’ve shocked a lot of folks by landing the premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. This isn’t Anderson’s first NYFF rodeo either, as both Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love were shown at previous installments of the festival. PTA has made more difficult to embrace than normal flicks the last few times out, and while There Will Be Blood was nominated a ton by the Academy, they ignored everything but the performances in The Master. This time, my guess is that they split the difference, to some degree. A comedic mystery of sorts, Inherent Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix and will look to establish itself as a critical favorite once this NYFF bow occurs.
Finally, their Closing selection is the North American launch of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (or as it’s apparently also called: Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Iñárritu is an NYFF veteran, as this will also be his third time showing a film there. He previously brought Amores Perros as well as 21 Grams to the fest. A dramedy starring Michael Keaton, it’s a […]

Could a Best Picture nominee launch from Cannes this year?

In the pretty near future, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will be announced. We already know that potential Oscar player Grace of Monaco will be there, but what else could debut at Cannes and then potentially appeal to Academy members? This particular festival isn’t nearly as awards season centric as the New York or Toronto Film Festivals are (or the Telluride Film Festival, for that matter), but we always get a contender or two to discuss. Last year we had Blue is the Warmest Color debut, while future nominees like The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska unspooled as well. That got me thinking about what this year’s slate could have inside of it for prognosticators like myself to chew on…
Below you’ll find five titles that I think could have a chance at turning the heads of voters, provided of course that they play at the fest. I’ve opted to focus on American movies just because those are the ones that the Academy tends to focus in on themselves, though of course there are exceptions from time to time like Amour. Still, big time contenders (and even the occasional Best Picture winner like No Country for Old Men) tend to be english language outings. Anyway, now I’ll dive in and speculate about five likely Cannes titles that could have a chance to woo members of the Academy.
1. Birdman – There’s a chance that this comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu could be too offbeat for Oscar voters, but they’ve gone out on dramatic limbs with him before, so if this tale of a washed up actor doesn’t get too weird for them, there are tons of nomination opportunities. This could also be the role that nabs Michael Keaton his first Academy Award nomination too, so there’s that. This one could either get shut out or be a huge player, but it’s potentially the most likely to transition to awards season attention. We’ll see if it actually debuts at Cannes, but I think it’s highly likely that it will.
2. Magic in the Moonlight – Another highly likely title for the fest, Woody Allen’s next movie is set in France, so that only makes it even more apt for a slot. That being said, of late Allen has basically seen every other film of his become Oscar players, so this could be the off year for him. Still, it’s likely […]

Big and Bleak ‘Noah’ Draws Strong Reviews

The reviews are trickling in on “Noah,” director Darron Aronofsky’s Biblical epic adventure starring Russell Crowe in the title role, and the critics, so far, are suitably impressed.
“Aronofky Goes Big and Bleak,” reads the headline on the Film School Rejects website.
“A lot of Noah is so dark that you wonder how a big studio let a director get away with making it, and it’s not just specific moments I’m talking about here,” writes reviewer Nathan Adams. “There’s a tension that runs through the whole film about who you should be rooting for, or it it’s even possible to root for anyone in this situation. Noah goes to such dark places over the course of the movie that it’s impossible to keep relating to him as a protagonist (sometimes to the point of comedy, intentional or otherwise) ,and it becomes necessary for the narrative to switch its viewpoint from character to character. There are moments of mass death so casually presented that they almost feel mindless, and then they get followed up by character beats so focused that they almost chastise you for getting caught up in the spectacle and forgetting to remain compassionate.”
He goes on to write: “Noah is the sort of movie that takes multiple viewings and a little bit of time to fully digest.”

Variety’s Scott Foundas writes: “Aronofsky’s uneven but undeniably bold, personal, visually extravagant take on the Old Testament tale will surely polarize critics and audiences while riding a high sea of curiosity to strong initial worldwide B.O.”
Foundas describes the depiction of the character Noah in the film as “neither the Marvel-sized savior suggested by the poster nor the ‘environmentalist wacko’ prophesied by some test-screening Cassandras, but rather a humble servant driven to the edge of madness in his effort to do the Lord’s bidding.”
Steven D. Greydanus, whose review appears in the National Catholic Register, writes: “For a lifelong Bible geek and lover of movie-making and storytelling like me, Noah is a rare gift: a blend of epic spectacle, startling character drama and creative reworking of Scripture and other ancient Jewish and rabbinic writings. It’s a movie with much to look at, much to think about and much to feel; a movie to argue about and argue with.”
He adds: “It’s certainly not the picture-book story that most of us grow up with, all cheerful ark-building, adorable animals and a gravely pious, white-bearded protagonist.”
Todd McCarthy, reviewing the film […]

Eva Longoria talks dating Mark Sanchez Now that Eva Longoria has confirmed that she is dating New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, everyone wants all the details about their budding romance.
Longoria recently spoke with Chelsea Handler about the relationship that hasn’t been going on for that long, states RadarOnline. “He’s great … [we’ve been dating] for a second … he’s focused right now on football,” Longoria commented.
Since confirming the romance, the two have been spotted out together holding hands after grabbing dinner.
Longoria was previously dating Penelope Cruz’s brother, Eduardo Cruz.
Do you like her with Sanchez?
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Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” unveils first official trailer – OSCARS

By Sean O’Connell Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon Levitt introduced the first full trailer for the director’s highly anticipated “Lincoln” during a unique Google+ event in New York City.
The full clip gives us an excellent view of Daniel Day-Lewis as our nation’s 16tht president, who is grappling with his administrators during the closing moments of the Civil War (and, as it turns out, his last few weeks on this Earth).
Sight unseen, it’s widely believed that Spielberg’s “Lincoln” will be an Oscar player. It certainly has the awards pedigree. Spielberg, an Oscar winner, has been recognized when he study’s humanity’s history in films such as “Munich,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List.” And his cast is littered with Oscar winners (as the trailer) points out: Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, etc.
The constant fade-in-fade-out of this new trailer gives me a headache. I’d prefer one long shot, instead of 100 snapshots. But from what we can see, “Lincoln” delivers stunning historical production values and an as-expected mesmerizing performance by Day-Lewis. His voice is so modestly pitched – as Lincoln’s was rumored to be – that you almost don’t recognize him. Is it too soon to call his Best Actor nomination a lock?
“Lincoln” opens in limited release on Nov. 9, before expanding on Nov. 16. Here’s the trailer. Share your thoughts below:

Read more of our exclusive Awards coverage:
Our “Silver Linings Playbook” review
Ben Affleck’s “Argo” scores
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat
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Paul Thomas Anderson surprises California audience with “The Master” screening

By Sean O’Connell The Venice and Toronto film festivals put feathers in their caps by being able to program Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly-anticipated “The Master” into their fall events. But knowing PTA – and his adoration for true cinema fans – he had something special up his sleeve, which was revealed Friday night in Santa Monica.
Anderson screened his film, in full, following a retrospective screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” at the American Cinematheque in Southern California. Patrons attending the screening were told that there would be a second movie screening after the Kubrick classic, according to HitFix, but they had no idea it would be PTA’s drama until it screened.
The AC screening allowed Anderson (who attended with his wife, Maya Rudolph) to screen “The Master” in his preferred format, 70mm. This near-insistence is causing headaches with exhibitors as the film prepares its fall theatrical release. But the film will be opening in limited release on Sept. 14, with a strong push from The Weinstein Company, before it continues to expand.
You have to love PT Anderson for surprising fans at a legitimate cinematic event, taking a little wind out of the sails of the prestigious film festivals but paying tribute to the people he makes movies for … the audience.
It’s not going to stop us from covering the daylights out of “The Master” when it screens in Toronto in September. Stay tuned for our reports on Anderson’s movie, and its trot through the Oscar marathon.
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Venice Film Festival to include Malick, De Palma, Nair, Lee and Redford!

by Terence Johnson Hot on the heels of the Toronto International Film Festival announcing their titles comes word from Venice about the films to be featured at the 69th Venice Film Festival.
With 60 films, the selection includes a wide range of anticipated titles such as Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, Passion from Brian De Palma and The Company You Keep directed by Robert Redford, as well as 20 films from female directors. Surprisingly, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is not included in the lineup, might this mean it will be skipping the festivals? Check out the full list after the jump!
Competition Films
Something in the Air, Olivier Assayas (France)
Outrage: Beyond, Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
Fill The Void, Rama Burshtein (Israel)
To the Wonder, Terrence Malick (U.S.)
Pieta, Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
Dormant Beauty, Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
E’ stato il figlio, Daniele Cipri (Italy)
At Any Price, Ramin Bahrani (U.S., U.K.)
La cinquieme saison, Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (Belgium, Netherlands, France)
Un giorno speciale, Francesca Comencini (Italy)
Passion, Brian De Palma (France, Germany)
Superstar, Xavier Giannoli (France, Belgium)
Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine (U.S.)
Thy Womb, Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)
Linhas de Wellington, Valeria Sarmiento (Portugal, France)
Paradise: Faith, Ulrich Seidl (Austria, France, Germany)
Betrayal, Kirill Serebrennikov (Russia)
Out of Competition Films
L’homme qui rit, Jean-Pierre Ameris (France) *closing film*
Love Is All You Need, Susanne Bier (Denmark, Sweden)
Cherchez Hortense, Pascal Bonitzer (France)
Sur un fil, Simon Brook (France, Italy)
Enzo Avitabile Music Life, Jonathan Demme (Italy, U.S.)
Tai Chi 0, Stephen Fung (China)
Lullaby to My Father, Amos Gitai (Israel, France)
Shokuzai (Penance), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japan)
Bad 25, Spike Lee (U.S.)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mira Nair (India, Pakistan, U.S.) *opening film*
O Gebo e a Sombra, Manoel de Oliveira (Portugal, France)
The Company You Keep, Robert Redford (U.S.)
Shark (Bait 3D), Kimble Rendall (Australia, China, Singapore)
Disconnect, Henry-Alex Rubin (U.S.)
The Iceman, Ariel Vromen (U.S.)
Horizons Sidebar
Wadjda, Haifaa Al Mansour (Germany)
Khanéh Pedari (The Paternal House), Kianoosh Ayari (Iran)
Ja Tozhe Hochu (I Also Want It), Alexey Balabanov (Russia)
Gli equilibristi, Ivano De Matteo (Italy)
L’intervallo, Leonardo Di Costanzo (Italy, Switzerland, Germany)
El Sheita Elli Fat (Winter of Discontent), Ibrahim El Batout (Egypt)
Tango Libre, Frédéric Fonteyne (Belgium, France, Luxembourg)
Menatek Ha-Maim (The Cutoff Man), Idan Hubel (Israel)
Gaosu tamen, wo cheng baihe qu le (Fly with the Crane), Li Ruijun (China)
Kapringen (A Hijacking), Tobias Lindholm (Denmark)
Leones, Jazmin Lopez (Argentina, France, Netherlands)
Bellas Mariposas, Salvatore Mereu (Italy)
Low Tide, Roberto Minervini (U.S., Italy, Belgium)
Boxing Day, Bernard Rose (U.K., U.S.)
Yema, Djamila Sahraoui (Algeria, France)
Araf (Araf – Somewhere in Between), Yesim Ustaoglu (Turkey, France, Germany)
Sennen no Yuraku (The Millennial Rapture), Koji Wakamatsu (Japan)
San Zi Mei […]

Jenny McCarthy leaks details about ‘Playboy’ shoot Jenny McCarthy will be on the cover of ‘Playboy’ for the July/August issue, and now she is leaking some details about what fans can expect.
The star, who is turning 40, spoke with the ‘Today’ show about all that fans will see of her, states People. McCarthy was asked if she will be baring all to which she explained what will be shown.
“I mean I grew out a bush so nobody sees anything,” McCarthy commented.
But when it came to why she was doing the shoot, McCarthy kept up with her jokes: “I figured [I’d do it] one more time before everything really falls apart. Why not? And [my son] Evan’s tuition was really expensive this year.”
Will you check out her issue?
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