September 19, 2015
        “Inside Out”: Looking at potential Best Animated Feature Contenders                "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        

Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

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 […]

The Ten Best Moments from the 87th Academy Awards

As is always the case, there was plenty to complain about once the Oscars came to an end on Sunday night. That’s all well and good, but right now I want to focus on the positive take a quick look at the very best moments from the Academy Awards. They’ve done this 87 times now, and without fail, there’s at least a few things that you know you’ll remember from the ceremony. Below you’ll see the ten moments that I think were the very best from Oscar over the weekend, but they’re hardly the only ones. It was a bit of a mixed bag, but one with plenty of pleasures as well…
Here are the ten best moments from the Oscars on Sunday night:
10. Every nominated film for Best Picture took home an award – I’m a sucker for fairness, so seeing each of the eight nominees for Best Picture not go home empty handed pleased me. Sure, American Sniper, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Selma, and The Theory of Everything only won a single Oscar each, but Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Whiplash managed to become multiple Academy Award recipients. Some of the awards may have gone in different directions than hoped, but the love was sufficiently spread around.
9. Big Hero 6 wins Best Animated Feature – Once we knew The Lego Movie wouldn’t be in the race, it was then a matter of if the pseudo Marvel superhero cartoon Big Hero 6 could pull off the win. Many, including myself, predicted How to Train Your Dragon 2, but Big Hero 6 deservingly took it in the end. In my mind, the best movie won, so that’s always a plus.
8. The reaction to Patricia Arquette’s speech – There was just something about Meryl Streep pumping her fist while Arquette rightly pushed for gender equality. It was a political moment, for sure, but it’s hard to be against equal pay for equal work, regardless of the job. Sure, actors are well paid, but equality should be across the board. There, done with my little soapbox.
7. Keeping the suspense going almost all night – The way the categories were organized left everything up in the air until well past 11pm on the east coast. Once we got to Best Film Editing and Boyhood came up short to Whiplash, we had our first hint, but there was suspense for literally hours. That’s rare, […]

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 […]

The best films and performances of 2014

We’ve come to the end of the line, ladies and gentlemen. 2014 is about to be put into the books, with 2015 upon us in mere few hours. To close out the year, I wanted to pile on to the seemingly never ending group of articles filled with Top Ten lists and the like. I don’t want it to just be my list though, so below you’ll see that, but also my thoughts on the year as a whole, along with my picks for the best performances of the year as well a few specific category awards. Basically, this would reflect sort of what my Oscar ballot would look like in the major categories, though I’ll perhaps save that full look at a personal ballot for a more specific piece when voting comes to an end in a few weeks. We’ll see. Anyway, time to get this show on the road!
The cinematic year that was 2014 has been considered by some to be a real high water mark of late, while others felt that it was a severe let down. Me? I’m stuck in the middle. I had less films that I feel completely in love with than usual, but at the same time I had more films overall that I liked than in many of the prior years. As such, the movies sort of feel on par with the last few years to me. The very best of 2014 was incredible to me, featuring a few modern classics, so I can hardly call it a down year. Perhaps it was just that a handful of the most praised titles were ones that I didn’t go as nuts over, so that contributes to an odd feeling about 2014? Whatever the case, there were plenty of flicks that I adored, despised, and just plain scratched my head over. That makes for a full meal of a film year, so I can’t complain. That’s the year in a nutshell to me though…more of the same.
Obviously, there are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, so perhaps at this time next year we’ll all be remarking about how much better of a cinematic slate it was, but at the same time, there’s always the chance of a big let down. In that case, we’d be reminiscing about the halcyon days of now. It’s all a shot in the dark when […]

Which film will lead the nomination totals for Oscar this year?

As we move closer to the Academy Awards announcing their nominations, it bears mentioning that we don’t yet know which movie will lead the nomination totals when all is said and done. Most years, there’s one obvious contender that you can presume will hit double digits (or close to it) and lead the field, if not more than one, but this year is as wide open in that regard as ever. There are at least a half dozen films that could conceivably fall into this category, so I figured I’d run them down for you, with a few extra thrown in for good measure. Consider that an early Christmas present.
Here now are the ten most likely films to lead the field in terms of nominations when oscar makes its announcement:
1. Birdman – If you had to place a wager on which big Oscar contender would lead the nomination totals, this one has to be the odds on favorite. Honestly, I’d be a bit surprised if Birdman wasn’t the overall leader, but there’s a chance it could come up just short. Still, no other player has a better chance to wind up with double digit citations than this one from Alejandro González Iñárritu. This is the flick that the odds favor to lead the field, though it’s hardly a foregone conclusion.
2. Interstellar – Once the likely frontrunner for this honor, it’s now very much become a dark horse of sorts. Interstellar should make a great showing in the technical categories, perhaps even getting at least a half dozen nominations there alone. As such, it’ll come down to if Christopher Nolan’s epic can remain in the Best Picture hunt, along with other places like Best Original Screenplay. If it can, then a ten spot could still be realistic. Stay tuned…
3. Selma – For a moment, it appeared as though this powerful biopic of sorts was headed straight to the top. Then, a few issues cropped up with its late year release, but still…Selma is set to do very well with the Academy. If it can get into Best Original Screenplay alongside its probable Best Picture and Best Director categories, that’ll help the cause for Ava DuVernay and company.
4. The Theory of Everything – Slowly but surely, this biopic is making a play to really dominate nomination morning. The Theory of Everything could score in the seven to eight nomination range, which will […]

Which films could be in for big Oscar snubs?

Every single year, multiple Oscar snubs appear on the big morning. That’s just a fact of the matter. Historically, no matter what year we look at, there’s at least one or two fairly shocking omissions when looking at the Academy Award nominations. A perfect world would prevent this, but as you all know, our world is far from perfect, to say the least. As such, pretty much each and every Oscar category contains at least one glaring miss, though by the time nomination morning rolls around many of them are easy to predict. Still, that doesn’t make them right. In an effort to try and prepare for the eventuality of the snubs, I’ve got five films listed below that could be in for some sort of a shock that morning, and not in a good way either. That doesn’t mean that they necessarily will happen, only that they could happen…
Here now are five films that could be in for a shocking snub come nomination morning:
Gone Girl – Right now, I seem to be one of the few who still have David Fincher’s film pegged as not just still a Best Picture nominee, but one of the top five or six as well. Now, I think my logic is sound, considering Fincher is still very much in play for Best Director and Gillian Flynn’s script is perhaps the frontrunner in Best Adapted Screenplay, but a number of precursor misses have hurt this contender for sure. It’s made a lot of money to miss, but a miss is very much a possibility in Best Picture. Gone Girl could still wind up with over a half dozen nominations, but it also could wind up with just one or two as well. Stay tuned…
The Imitation Game – At one point, a bunch of my colleagues were predicting this to win Best Picture. I never went that far, but I was up their in considering it a top tier nominee. Now, I’m starting to at least ponder if it could be in line for one big miss somewhere. My best guess is that it’ll miss for Morten Tyldum in Best Director. There’s a teensy tiny chance that Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the decade’s most shocking omissions in Best Actor, but I wouldn’t bet on that one, even if I’m tempted to try predicting it. We shall see with The Imitation Game.
Interstellar – Despite my […]

‘Birdman’, ‘Boyhood’, and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ rack up the Critics Choice nominations

Earlier today, the Broadcast Film Critics Association (or BFCA) let loose the nominations for their 20th annual Critics Choice Movie Awards. As has been the case most of the precursor season, Birdman led the field, with Boyhood also enjoying a fine haul. The most interesting thing to me though about the nods today is that The Grand Budapest Hotel also really racked up the noms. That film is climbing the charts quickly and almost assuredly will be in my Best Picture field when I again update my Oscar predictions at the end of the week. What movie it’s going to knock out is a question I’ll try to answer then, but it’s becoming clear that The Grand Budapest Hotel is a force to be reckoned with. Not on the level of Birdman or Boyhood of course (or even The Imitation Game or Selma), but it’s something to really pay attention to now. I never use the Critics Choice nominations as a huge barometer, but as part of the larger precursor stew, if you will, it brings some things to light.
Among the most interesting inclusions here by the BFCA, we had of course the continued success of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which now has Anderson potentially a Best Director contender of real note. Both Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel as well as Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman definitely benefitted from the ability to double nominate by citing it in the strictly Comedy fields as well as the general ones. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood did well enough not to be hurt at all, though this continues to only help Birdman in its quest to unseat Selma as the primary Best Picture competition.
On the other hand, there were more than a few glaring omissions, beginning with Interstellar in Best Picture. That film is just playing like a blockbuster popcorn movie with stunning technical achievements, as opposed to truly a prestige picture, and that’s a shame. Also missing was Christopher Nolan in Best Director/Best Original Screenplay, Steve Carell in Best Actor for Foxcatcher, Joaquin Phoenix (also missing out in Best Actor in a Comedy), and Shailene Woodley in Best Actress for The Fault in Our Stars, continuing to put a nail in her Oscar coffin. Those were just some of the snubs, though they were hardly all of them…
Here now, without further delay, are the full nominations for the 20th annual Critics Choice Movie […]

Oscar stock watch: 5 contenders up and 5 contenders down

With an almost daily influx of awards to make note of, this is the sort of time where things change for Oscar contenders quickly. As such, I wanted to try out a new segment, where I periodically take the temperature of the race and list some of the Academy Award hopefuls who have seen their stock rise or fall of late, relating to the precursor season. It’s the sort of thing I can check in with every week or every other week, depending on what’s appropriate. Anyway, I wanted to give it a shot now and see how it played for you all.
Below you’ll see ten different contenders, broken up into two separate groups. One group of films/performances have seen their stock trend upwards, while the other group has seen the exact opposite happen. It’s almost a quick snapshot of the major changes in the season, though by no means is it all encompassing. Anyway, I hope this is of interest to you all…
Here are five contenders who have seen their stock rise of late:
1. Boyhood – As mentioned yesterday, Richard Linklater’s film has solidified its frontrunner status in Best Picture for Linklater, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette, and Best Original Screenplay for Linklater as well. That sort of early precursor dominance only helps increase its Oscar stock. As long as the Golden Globes and Guilds don’t bring it back down to Earth, this is a blue chipper, to say the least.
2. Nightcrawler – One of the surprises of the early precursor season has been to see Dan Gilroy’s thriller slowly but surely establish itself as more than a fringe awards player. Star Jake Gyllenhaal has received (justly) some attention, but the film itself is popping up more than initially expected. I’m not ready to predict it for a Best Picture nomination, but I’m at least toying with the idea.
3. Jennifer Aniston/Cake – What was initially a real long shot/Hail Mary pass in the Best Actress race has become a viable contender. Jennifer Aniston’s vehicle Cake doesn’t have a ton of money to campaign with a huge distributor backing it, but it’s still managing to create a buzz. That easily affirms it as a player with its stock trending in an upward direction.
4. American Sniper – Despite some originally mixed reviews at its AFI Fest premiere, Clint Eastwood’s latest showed up on their Best of the […]

A December Oscar Predictions Update

Well, the calendar has turned to December folks, so now we’re getting serious here in terms of Oscar predictions. Precursor awards are in full swing now, so expect the Academy Award picture to begin to clear itself up little by little. As I keep saying, that doesn’t mean that from now on we’ll suddenly know how the whole thing will go down, but we’re close to the point where things should make more sense. Without any unseen contenders left, all that’s left is figuring out how these various Oscar hopefuls will do. Well, that’s what I’m here for ladies and gentlemen, so let’s figure it out!
The big new piece of information here is that I’ve now seen and digested Angelina Jolie’s film Unbroken. Honestly, I’m skeptical that it’ll be a major player, which is why I now have it snubbed in the Best Picture category and not going home with a single win. I could be wrong, but I also think that Jolie will fall short in Best Director and Jack O’Connell won’t be able to break through in the Best Actor race. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good movie, because it is, but it doesn’t feel like something that can stand up to the major players in this race. As such, voters might leave it behind.
This leaves us mostly with a race that’s going to come down to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Ava DuVernay’s Selma in terms of Best Picture as well as Best Director. You can make the case that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a potential dark horse, but aside from that, it’s those three. You’ll see what I think will happen below, but get used to seeing those titles a lot, because those are the names that will compete for Oscar glory.
Anyway, it’s time to get down to business, right? Without further delay, here is how I see the Academy Award nominations going at this current juncture, with once again my next in line picks listed for completion/as a bonus. Behold:
1. Boyhood
2. Selma
3. The Imitation Game
4. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Interstellar
6. Gone Girl
7. Whiplash
8. The Theory of Everything
9. Foxcatcher
10. A Most Violent Year
Next in line: 11. Unbroken 12. American Sniper 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. Rosewater 16. Wild 17. Mr. Turner 18. Inherent Vice 19. Nightcrawler […]

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