January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

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:
BEST PICTURE
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 […]

Golden Globe predictions for November

It’s Black Friday, so I know you’re all mostly concerned with taking advantage of various sales, but since it’s also the end of November, I wanted to bring some new Golden Globe predictions to you as well. We’ve been doing these for a while now, but this represents likelythe final one I’ll be doing before the actual nominations are announced in about two weeks on December 11th (unless I preview the announcement with a final set of predictions…we’ll see). As such, I’m hoping to really nail them this time around, and try to figure out how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association might go with their nods. The HFPA can go in some odd directions too, so these noms might even be a little more Oscar friendly than they wind up being. We’ll see though.
The biggest addition this time around is accounting for Selma in the race. I still had it shut out last time around, and while I don’t necessarily think it’s going to dominate the Globes, I do think a shut out isn’t going to happen. I also had to try to figure out what to do with Unbroken, which I don’t see until Monday. As such, I left it alone for the most part. If I do indeed do one last update to these predictions, it’ll be due at least in part to a need to account for the film, one way or another. Perhaps I’ll need to predict it for some wins? Perhaps I’ll need to drop it completely? Somewhere in between? I’ll find out at the beginning of next week and report in on the film itself, but if I do update Globe predictions, reflections on that movie will be involved for sure.
Here now though, without any further delay on my part (since as always we know that you’re really here just to see what I have below in each of the categories), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe nomination predictions to pour over. Behold:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Selma
3. Boyhood
4. Gone Girl
5. Unbroken
If there’s a sixth: Interstellar
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Whiplash
4. Begin Again
5. St. Vincent
If there’s a sixth: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
3. David Oyelowo – Selma
4. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
5. Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner
If […]

A Mid-November Oscar Predictions Update

I’m going to keep it short and sweet today folks, or at least a bit shorter than usual in terms of set up. You all know by now that it’s time for my middle of the month Oscar predictions update piece. Sometimes, there’s only a tinker or two to be done, but today…today I have a seismic shift to include, namely in the arrival of Selma on the scene. It’s gone from being shut out (what was I thinking?) to contending for wins in multiple major categories. In fact, more than one of the big eight categories have new winners listed, so this is a definite change in thinking. Some of it might be short lived, but that’s what the upcoming new set of predictions next month is for, right? I’ve also added the three short form categories (Animated Short, Documentary Short, and Live Action Short), though I know that’s not quite as big a selling point. Still, they’re there now, so don’t ignore them.
Anyway, let’s get down to business, shall we? 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. Behold:
BEST PICTURE
1. Boyhood
2. Selma
3. The Imitation Game
4. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Interstellar
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Gone Girl
8. Whiplash
9. Foxcatcher
10. Unbroken
Next in line: 11. A Most Violent Year 12. Rosewater 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. American Sniper 16. Inherent Vice 17. Mr. Turner 18. Wild 19. Nightcrawler 20. Still Alice
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
2. Ava DuVernay – Selma
3. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
4. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
5. Christopher Nolan – Interstellar
Next in line: 6. David Fincher – Gone Girl 7. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash 8. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher 9. Angelina Jolie – Unbroken 10. James Marsh – The Theory of Everything
BEST ACTOR
1. David Oyelowo – Selma
2. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
4. Michael Keaton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Next in line: 6. Jack O’Connell – Unbroken 7. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler 8. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper 9. Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar 10. Kevin Costner – Black or White
BEST ACTRESS
1. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
2. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
3. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
4. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
5. […]

“Interstellar”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Main Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, David Gyasi, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, and David Oyelowo, among others…
Past Oscar relations: Burstyn, Caine, Damon, Hathaway, and McConaughey are previous Oscar winners, while Affleck, Chastain, and both Nolans are Academy Award nominees in prior years
Today we have another brand spanking new article in this particular series of mine concerning certain high profile 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for here for us is one of the biggest contenders of the year in Interstellar. It’s an epic that’s hoping to become the blockbuster in the Best Picture race. Does it have a strong chance? Well, let me get into that a little bit now…
This movie is a science fiction adventure/drama set in the near-ish future. Earth is dying and a last ditch mission to save it is set up by what remains of NASA. A former engineer and pilot turned farmer is chosen to lead the way and must leave his children behind in order to save mankind. I could say more, but the less you know going in, the more wonder that’s going to be in store for you all. Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, David Gyasi, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, Timothée Chalamet, David Oyelowo, and Collette Wolfe. Christopher Nolan directs and co-writes with his brother Jonathan Nolan. They all combine to literally make magic happen. Now, will Oscar recognize these achievements?
What this film has going in its favor is the incredible ambition on display. Not only do I feel that this is Nolan’s best work behind the camera to date, it’s also his most emotional by far. There’s a ton of heart here, which voters will probably respond to. Not only is his direction flawless, the writing is complex and super compelling. Throw in the top notch performances, especially by McConaughey (as well as by Chastain and Damon), and that makes for across the board potential, including the technical achievements of cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, composer Hans Zimmer, and editor Lee Smith, just to name a few. If the Academy goes for this flick […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Original Screenplay

After a short break, today I’m continuing on down the line of the big eight categories and re-ranking them all The latest one to get this treatment? Best Original Screenplay, which will be one of the final ones that I’m doing in this series (I’ll conclude with the other screenplay category and Best Animated Feature before the month is out). Enough talk now though, right? Right!
Here now are the ten particular films/scripts that I have in play for Best Original Screenplay, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. Boyhood – The thinking goes that Richard Linklater is going to be rewarded somehow for his massive achievement. Even if you don’t have him contending to win in Best Picture or Best Director, this category is where he could win his first Academy Award. As such, he’s certainly in play for the top spot. If you have Boyhood winning in those categories though, then this is a slam dunk number one. It’s not a lock to win, but I wouldn’t bet against it right now.
2. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance – It remains to be seen just how the script for this one will be received. Most of the praise so far has surrounded the acting and directing, though the writing is hardly anything to scoff at. If Birdman is going to be heavily in play across the board, it’ll be hard for this one not to really be high up on most ballots. We’ll see though…
3. Interstellar – There’s going to be a lot of buzz about whether Christopher Nolan can finally get a Best Director nomination, but a citation here in Best Original Screenplay seems hard to bet against. In fact, I’m tempted to say that this could really be the spoiler to win. We’ll see how Interstellar winds up doing overall, but the more nominations it has, the bigger a threat it’ll be.
4. Whiplash – I’m slightly more bullish on this contender than some, but I find it hard to believe that voters who surely will be crowning J.K. Simmons won’t also look to cite the movie somewhere else. Considering that I have Whiplash in Best Picture and Best Director, a nod here as well makes perfect sense. I’m doubtful it can pull the upset win, but with Simmons essentially a lock for Best Supporting Actor, things could get interesting here with this […]

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