August 30, 2015
        "Carol": Looking at potential Best Adapted Screenplay Hollywood Contender                What were the Ten Best summer releases of 2015?                Eddie Redmayne: The Danish Girl / Official US Poster                Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep: SUFFRAGETTE New Poster                Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowland to Receive Academy's 2015 Governors Awards                Johnny Depp, Leo DiCaprio - Which acting contenders this year are most due for their first win?                "Joy" is the latest Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell project in the Oscar hunt                "Straight Outta Compton" is making the case for Oscar consideration                "The Martian": Oscar predictions for August                Rooney Mara: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders                Bradley Cooper will heat up the Oscar race in "Burnt"                "Carol" gets a Teaser that firmly puts Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the Oscar race                Carey Mulligan is an Oscar contender                Hollywood Contenders for 2015 Best Actor: Leo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Fassbender                Hollywood Contenders: 2015 Best Movie Blockbusters: Jurassic World, Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Fast & Furious 7...        

Tag Archives: Christian Bale

The Ten Best Action Movies of the New Millennium

Who doesn’t love a good action movie? They’re among the most fun that Hollywood has to offer, particularly when they’re of a high quality. Later on this week, a reportedly amazing new one in Mad Max: Fury Road is hitting theaters, so to prep us all for that experience (I see it later on today, so yay for that), I wanted to do a countdown of the recent best that the genre has to offer. Essentially, every action flick since 2000 was eligible, and I whittled that down to a top ten list. It’s hardly the definitely “new millennium action movie” list, but I think it’s a pretty solid one, to say the least. You’ll be able to see the list below, which could very well be amended once Mad Max: Fury Road comes to town…
Here now are my picks for the ten best action films since the year 2000:
10. King Kong – Peter Jackson’s unneeded remake of the classic action adventure turned out to be my favorite version of the story, go figure. The special effects are extraordinary and watching Kong interact with the world through Andy Serkis was a real joy. I may be in the minority here, but I absolutely loved it. It manages to stand alongside the all time classic original.
9. Kick-Ass – It hasn’t quite held up as well as the initial viewing suggested, but Matthew Vaughn’s deconstruction of the superhero origin story is a ridiculous amount of fun. The main pleasures are watching Nicolas Cage not play Batman, along with Chloe Grace Moretz giving a nomination worthy supporting turn as Hit-Girl. That initial magic wasn’t captured by the sequel, but that takes nothing away from this one.
8. Looper – Not only is this a great action flick, it’s also the best film of Rian Johnson’s career so far and a amazing time travel tale as well. It’s nearly perfect, offering up one of the best performances to date from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as Bruce Willis. A modern classic, it basically demands that you honor it for its inventiveness and effectiveness.
7. Black Hawk Down – I’d have put this higher if not for the fact that it’s less fun due to the tragic real life story that inspired it. Still, this is one of Ridley Scott’s best and the most effective war movie since Saving Private Ryan. It’s so visceral and well made, […]

The 83rd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

After a brief delay, this series has returned. Yes, once again 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 then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks:
Best Picture – The Social Network
The nominees here for this ceremony were 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone. My personal pick Blue Valentine wasn’t nominated, of course, so my number two pick is an easy one…The Social Network. Such a shame that it fell short here to The King’s Speech in real life.
Best Director – David Fincher for The Social Network
This category featured Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), David Fincher (The Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), and David O. Russell (The Fighter), and yet the three most interesting choices in Aronofsky, Fincher, and Russell were passed over for Hooper. I’d change that though, and go with Fincher. Had I been given the power to vote for anyone though, I’d probably have gone with Derek Cianfrance for Blue Valentine.
Best Actor – Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
I didn’t intend to vote down the line for The Social Network, but so far it just has worked out that way. My personal pick Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine got snubbed, so I had to go to my second choice. The nominees here were Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), James Franco (127 Hours), and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech). It’s hard to argue with Firth’s win, but I think Eisenberg was slightly more deserving overall.
Best Actress – Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine
Honestly, I might prefer Natalie Portman for Black Swan, but I can’t resist the chance to give Blue Valentine an Oscar win […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Christian Bale

For this week’s brand new spotlight piece (after taking a week off), I wanted to cite an A-lister who is known as one of the most deeply committed actors of his generation. Yes, it’s Christian Bale, an Academy Award winner who just overflows with talent. Once considered an incredibly snubbed actor who never quite captured Oscar’s attention, he’s since moved on to a much more respected part of his career, while also stepping effortlessly between blockbusters and independent fare. At this point, he’s almost a favorite of the voters and a multiple time nominee. As such, he’s someone I’d wanted to shine the spotlight on for some time, I’ve just been waiting for the right moment…
Bale got started briefly as a teenager in television movies, but for most, the first real exposure to him came in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, as well as a few years later in the musical Newsies. Throw in his voice work in the Disney flick Pocahontas and he was making his first bones with what often was family friendly entertainment. That would change in a hurry, but his beginnings were much more mainstream than where he would go from there. He first teased at a more mature future with Velvet Goldmine, but it would be a certain book adaptation that really showed how extreme he could go.
American Psycho is not only one of his more out there roles, it’s also one of his best performances to date. He was able to take author Bret Easton Ellis’ character Patrick Bateman and find the theatrical quality in him. It’s both a gonzo and very restrained performance, which is hard to do. Bale really nailed it, and it got the attention of Hollywood. He would no longer be an up and comer…he’d be a star in the making. Roles in bigger films like Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Equilibrium, Laurel Canyon, Reign of Fire, and Shaft followed, though many of those still had that independent spirit he gravitated to.
Bale next wowed people with a physical transformation for his part in The Machinist. He lost a disturbing amount of weight, giving an already strong performance an extra layer of power. It was impossible not to look at him and feel the agony of what the weight loss must have been like, which in turn makes the insomnia that the character is suffering feel all the more troubling. It’s […]

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 86th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

I’m possibly going to be trying out a new series here. Essentially, today I’ll be going back and looking at the most recent Oscars and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories. Potentially, I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, so there’s a chance that this could turn into a long running thing. There are 86 of these to sift through after all…and counting. If nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of he year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit.
Alright, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Her
The nominees here were 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Considering that it was my favorite film of 2013, a vote for Her would be pretty clear and decisive here. The Wolf of Wall Street would be my runner up, but it wouldn’t be a close race. Spike Jonze’s meditation on love is an absolute masterpiece, so that’d be my pick.
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
I’d have voted for Jonze here, but he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, David O. Russell for American Hustle, and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street. I very nearly went with Scorsese here, but it’s fairly hard to deny Cuarón’s work here on Gravity. The aforementioned Jonze is my personal pick overall, but Cuarón is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
In a perfect world, I’d have seen Oscar Isaac in the lineup for Inside Llewyn Davis and subsequently he’d be my vote. The actual nominees here though were Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. Everyone is worthy here and I really came close to selecting Dern, but DiCaprio showed an incredible aptitude for comedy and that would be enough for me to give him his first Oscar.
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Without the ability to cite the snubbed Adele Exarchopolous for […]

“True Detective” continues to bridge the gap between film and television

With a bunch of casting news/rumors and plot points beginning to leak out about the second season of HBO’s acclaimed anthology series True Detective, I wanted to take another look at the talent surrounding the show. Basically, I’m thrilled to see that it’s really the one program out there that’s looking to be more like a movie than a TV show. Television has always been a very different medium than film, but True Detective is really working hard to bridge the gap, in a big way too. This next season, if it’s as good an as artful as the first, could really do it.
On the inaugural season, it almost came as a shock how cinematic the series was. Series creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto created a blueprint for something that could have been just another procedural, but the talent that came together really elevated it. Season One director Cary Fukunaga brought art house visuals to television, which I loved. A-list movie stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey brought heft and pizzazz to the small screen. It really was a perfect marriage. Last time out I wrote about how it would have fared as an Oscar contender if it somehow was just an eligible eight hour movie, but that speaks to its cinematic power. Eight episodes that strike you as one long flick.
For the second season, Pizzolatto and HBO are continuing to think big. Initially mega stars like Christian Bale and Jessica Chastain were sought out for leading roles, which would have been something incredible. Lately, it’s beginning to look like Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, and Vince Vaughn are going to be three of the main characters, with Elisabeth Moss also rumored for a part. Those are all pretty strong names, to say the least. With new rumors have supremely underrated filmmaker Andrew Dominik potentially coming aboard to be the director, that could really put it over the edge.
Above all else, what I like about True Detective is how much it strives to be a movie during this supposed Golden Age of Television. I’ll always be partial to the cinematic experience, even if the big screen is progressively losing ground to the small screen. True Detective is this great experiment happening right before our eyes, and I’m following it closely. In five years, I feel like we’re going to look back on to the first season or two of this show, […]

Oscars: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards

After months and months of lead up and speculation (not to mention an endless string of precursor awards), the Academy Awards were finally given out, and the results were almost as unpredictable as we’d all been saying. 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture despite only winning two other Oscars and losing in the Best Director and Best Film Editing categories (both of which Gravity took), normally categories that go to the Best Picture winner. Gravity was the biggest winner of the night in terms of numbers though, taking seven prizes, including the aforementioned Director (for Alfonso Cuaron) and Editing fields.
In terms of the other prizes, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto were once again awarded for their performances in Dallas Buyers Club (McConaughey in Best Actor and Leto in Best Supporting Actor), while Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for Blue Jasmine and Lupita Nyong’o edged out Jennifer Lawrence in the Best Supporting Actress category. Best Original Screenplay went to Spike Jonze for Her (my personal favorite award of the evening) and John Ridley won Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave. Other winners included Frozen (Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song), 20 Feet from Stardom (Best Documentary Feature), and The Great Beauty (Best Foreign Language Feature).
Here now are all of the results from the 86th Academy Awards:
BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave” – WINNER
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
BEST DIRECTOR
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity” – WINNER
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club” – WINNER
BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” – WINNER
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“American Hustle” – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” – Written by Woody Allen
“Her” – Written by Spike Jonze – WINNER
“Nebraska” – Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Before Midnight” – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” – Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” – Screenplay by John Ridley – WINNER
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Screenplay by Terence Winter
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave” – WINNER
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Sally […]

Oscars: Get to know the Best Actor race

Best Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Notable precursor wins: Dern wins National Board of Review Award, DiCaprio wins Golden Globe Award (Comedy), Ejiofor wins BAFTA Award, and McConaughey wins Broadcast Film Critics Association, Golden Globe (Drama), and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Matthew McConaughey
Next in line: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Dark horse: Bruce Dern
Time for the next version of my “Get to know” series, as we turn our attention now to the Best Actor race. As you can see above, the gentlemen making up this category are Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. This was a wide open and highly competitive race for most of the season, though lately the tide has greatly turned in McConaughey’s favor. Right now, he’s the odds on favorite to win the Oscar.
Basically, once the crowded field competing to be nominated was whittled down to these five, things clarified a bit. Bale was just happy to be nominated, while the other four shuffled back and forth a bit. Then, the major precursors really rallied around McConaughey, resulting in his current frontrunner status. Dern hasn’t had a win in a while that gives him much of a shot, while DiCaprio and Ejiofor have some, but not nearly on the level of McConaughey.
Now, with the Academy Awards just days away, McConaughey is the smart bet for Best Actor. If there’s going to be an upset, it’s going to be from Ejiofor. A Dern or DiCaprio win would be shocking at this point. Still, Ejiofor is pretty far behind McConaughey, so look for him to pick up a statue on Sunday evening. Anything could happen, but things seem pretty cut and dried now to me…
Stay tuned for the rest of the acting categories this week, with Best Actress up next!

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “American Hustle”

“American Hustle”
Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
Main cast members: Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Jack Huston, Elisabeth Röhm, and Alessandro Nivola
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 10
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Russell), Best Actor (Bale), Best Actress (Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Lawrence), Best Original Screenplay (Russell and Singer), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Best Comedy/Best Actress in a Comedy/Supporting Actress at the Golden Globe Awards, and Best Film/Supporting Actress/Best Screenplay at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders for the award and a definite co-frontrunner
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Locked in close races for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, with Best Actress, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing still in play
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
American Hustle is the second film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another one of the main contenders in the category. Though no film among the nominees has seen the sort of backlash that American Hustle has, the numbers simply don’t lie. It’s a blockbuster hit financially, has some major precursor wins under its belt, is one of the rare films to be able to score a nomination in each acting category, and tied for the most nominations overall this year. That didn’t happen out of thin air. This is a much loved movie, even if the supporters aren’t as vocal about it. A silent majority could still turn out to be a majority though, so this is a top tier Best Picture player for sure.
Working in American Hustle’s favor is just how much it was embraced by the Academy. Last year David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook got all four acting nominations as well (plus a Lawrence win in Best Actress), making him the first director ever to achieve this in consecutive years. It’s obvious that Oscar voters like what he’s doing, considering the ten nominations they gave him. It’d be one of the biggest losses in history if the film went home empty handed, so I just don’t […]

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