January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Cinema of the United States

The late breaking major Oscar contenders of 2014

As the final days of 2014 tick away and we get set to begin anew with 2015, I’ve been thinking about how the precursor season, especially in the past few weeks, has changed the Oscar race slightly. Notably, a few contenders that weren’t on everyone’s mind for one reason or another have doubled back as the year comes to a close. Some were long shots that became contenders, while others were already viable Academy Award players that have seen their stock shoot up. There are a half dozen that I’m going to cite below, but they’re hardly the only ones. It goes both ways too…perhaps later this week or next (which is technically next year) I’ll do the inverse of this and look at a few of the contenders that have stumbled during this same time period.
Here now are the six best examples among the 2014 releases vying for Oscar attention:
1. Jake Gyleenhaal in Best Actor for Nightcrawler – Up until the most recent precursors began citing him, Gyllehnaal was thought to be a too cool for school long shot for Nightcrawler. Now, he’s clearly in the top seven for Best Actor, if not the top six or arguably already in the nominated group of five. That category is clearly going to be a bloodbath, so Gyllenhaal has only made things harder. The performance is top notch though, so it just makes for an embarrassment of riches for the Academy to sort through. Don’t sleep on Gyllenhaal, as he could certainly pop up in Best Actor.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel in Best Picture – Even though I’m citing this film as a late breaking major player in Best Picture, it could easily be mentioned for Wes Anderson in Best Director and Best Original Screenplay as well (the two categories I’m missing here from having the big eight all represented). The Grand Budapest Hotel now is looking like a top seven contender in each of those categories, something I wouldn’t have believed going into the precursor season. I’m not sure it ultimately makes the Director lineup, but Picture and Original Screenplay nominations seem locked in with Oscar.
3. Jennifer Aniston in Best Actress for Cake – I’ve said it a few times already, but there are folks who need to eat some crow on this one. A nomination for Cake on the part of Aniston was almost a joke during the fall, […]

Cinematic gifts from 2014

With folks all over unwrapping presents today and the year just about over, I wanted to commemorate the time by looking at the gifts that the world of cinema bestowed on us in 2014. What do I mean when I say that? Well, in my eyes, it can mean a film, a filmmaker, or a performer who we became thankful for/even more thankful for during the past 12 months. I tried to be as eclectic as possible and think broadly, but of course this is essentially who and what I loved during the year too. It’s not my top ten list, but it might give you some idea of what mine will look like. Also, I did try and tie it into the Oscar race, of course. How could I not? Anyway, enjoy!
Here now are ten gifts that cinema gave us in 2014:
1. Boyhood – Almost without exception, everyone can agree that Richard Linklater’s film is a gift to cinema. That just makes the fact that it’s the current Best Picture/Best Director/Best Original Screenplay frontrunner all the sweeter. It’s a unique experience that may never be duplicated and 2014 contained the release of it after a decade plus of preparation/shooting.
2. J.K. Simmons – Who doesn’t love Simmons? He’s one of the great character actors of our time, but he’s never had a role like the one in Whiplash to really sink his teeth into. As such, we should give thanks that this gift of a performance is now not only guaranteed to score him his first Oscar nomination, it’s almost assuredly going to win him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as well.
3. Life Itself – Legendary film critic Roger Ebert sadly passed away last year, but director Steve James released his amazing look at Ebert’s life this year, and what a gift it is. A touching documentary about a life well lived, it’s going to compete for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, though it’s already won a place in many of our hearts. It’s just that special.
4. The Fault in Our Stars – There were so many ways that this YA adaptation could have gone wrong that it’s a real gift that we got the brilliant movie that we did. The combination of director Josh Boone, writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, as well as cast members like Laura Dern, Ansel Elgort, and of course Shailene […]

323 Feature Films in Contention for 2014 Best Picture OSCAR®

Three hundred twenty-three feature films are eligible for the 2014 Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.
To be eligible for 87th Academy Awards consideration, feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days.
Under Academy rules, a feature-length motion picture must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital format.
Feature films that receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release are not eligible for Academy Awards in any category. The “Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 87th Academy Awards” is available at http://www.oscars.org/oscars/rules-eligibility.
The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.
FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
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www.youtube.com/Oscars
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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 […]

Richard Linklater and “Boyhood” continue to dominate the early precursors

We’ve only just begun with the first section of the precursor season, focusing in on the critics groups and their awards, but a trend is already emerging. The trend in question? A ton of love for Richard Linklater and his film Boyhood. Yes, the little film that could is quickly becoming a huge force to be reckoned with and solidifying its status as a frontrunner in a number of major Oscar categories. It’s way too early in the awards season to truly know how things will shake out, but if you’re playing the odds, Boyhood has to be in the number one spot all over the place. The Academy may or may not ultimately line up like that, but the early precursors are sure making that case right now.
Boyhood was always the most likely of the early year releases to make a notable splash with Oscar voters, so it’s no surprise that this initial beginning of the first phase of the precursor season is seeing it cited heavily. What’s more notable is that it’s really beating back a lot of its main late year release competition. Sure, Birdman has popped up here and there, along with A Most Violent Year once and Snowpiercer once as well, but we haven’t seen The Imitation Game or Selma win anything major yet, to name it’s two prime competitors in Best Picture.
Speaking of Best Picture, any ranking of the contenders at the moment has to begin with Boyhood. It’s at the top right now, with some combination of Birdman, The Imitation Game, Selma, and whatever other contender you prefer, be it A Most Violent Year or something else like Gone Girl, in the two through five spots. That top slot is all Boyhood though, as of today. I suspect it’ll more or less continue like this throughout the early stages of precursor season, leading up until the guilds have a chance to impact the race. With Best Picture, it’ll be the Producers Guild of America award that either crowns Boyhood or turns the tide towards something else (likely Selma, if I had to guess what the alternative will be). Until then, it should be, aside from perhaps the Golden Globes, nearly a clean sweep for Boyhood.
Looking a bit at Best Director, it’s a similar situation. Yes, a few more votes here will get picked off in favor of Birdman’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, but […]

Laura Dern’s awards season…Supporting herself and two potential Best Actress nominees

2014 has been one of the best years for Laura Dern in some time. The veteran actress is well respected in the business, very talented, and a pleasure to interact with. Last year, she was part of the campaign to get her father Bruce Dern cited for Nebraska. This year however, she’s front and center in a way, giving two of the most effective supporting performances of 2014. If one or both of Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley become Best Actress nominees, it’ll certainly be in part because of their scenes in Wild and The Fault in Our Stars with their on screen mother Dern. She’s fueling their fire, but can she also score a Best Supporting Actress nomination for herself.
I think Dern is one of the more interesting contenders this year. She’s a previous Academy Award nominee (she was nominated in Best Actress for Rambling Rose), five time Golden Globe nominee (and two time winner on the television side), and one of the few hopefuls in 2014 who can boast multiple films to contend with. She’s far more likely for Wild than The Fault in Our Stars, yes, but one could wind up helping with the other, at at the very least helping to push her co-stars to the Best Actress nomination finish line. No one else this year can say that, so Dern finds herself in a spot all her own this year.
In the case of The Fault in Our Stars, she has a film that’s reached blockbuster status and brought her a very solid amount of acclaim. True, Shailene Woodley took most of the praise, but Dern was hardly forgotten about either. Her turn as Woodley’s mother was easily one of the best supporting performances of the first half of the year, so that’s a plus. The odds say that voters will only consider her for Wild due to the release date and such, but if they pop in this one in order to consider Woodley in Best Actress, they could certainly notice Dern and mark her down in the back of their minds. Dern is going to be one of the reasons why Woodley gets nominated, if that does come to pass.
When it comes to Wild though, she’s firmly in the thick of things. Her co-star Reese Witherspoon is almost assuredly scoring a Best Actress nomination, so it might be that Witherspoon helps bring Dern along […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Reese Witherspoon

For this week’s brand new spotlight piece, I wanted to cite an A-lister who is having one really good 2014, to say the least. It’s Reese Witherspoon, an Academy Award winning actress who only this year is finally solidifying her status not just as a star, but as a supremely talented actress as well. It’s high time too, as she’s given more top quality performances than a lot of people realize. From some of her early work to the performance that won her the Oscar, Witherspoon has become a deserving member of the A-list, though someone who doesn’t always get the credit that she truly deserves. As such, it’s only appropriate today to put the spotlight on her. Here we go…
Witherspoon got her start with a few head turning roles in smaller films, starting with The Man in the Moon, followed by A Far Off Place and Freeway, among others. Those parts began to get her noticed, something that would continue up until she broke through with the thriller Fear. Witherspoon was now a young up and coming actress that had the attention of the industry. That would lead to a role in Overnight Delivery as well as a really well regarded part in the film Pleasantville. Particularly with that last role, it set her up to have her first brush with prestige fare. With the black comedy Election, Witherspoon was fully on the cusp of stardom, along with being embraced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which bestowed her first Golden Globe nomination upon her. Between this highly praised independent film and the pop culture drama Cruel Intentions, a star was born.
She then appeared in films like American Psycho, Best Laid Plans, The Importance of Being Earnest, Legally Blonde (which got her a second Golden Globe nomination), Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Little Nicky, Sweet Home Alabama, and Vanity Fair. They cultivated her status as a growing romantic comedy star in Hollywood as well as an A-list actress, but they didn’t quite challenge her in the way that she was deserving of. Then, a biopic offer came in and changed all that.
Her greatest acclaim at the time would come when she took the role of June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Not only did it score her tons of terrific reviews, she would also go on to both receive her first Academy […]

“Boyhood” takes Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle

It’s officially precursor season folks. As such, prepare to hear a lot about various critics groups chiming in with their picks for the best of 2014. This will go on until the major guilds more or less decide things early next year, but for now, it’s the critics stage of the precursors. As such, earlier today the New York Film Critics Circle (or NYFCC for short) announced their winners for the year, crowning Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the big victor of the afternoon. They also brought a few contenders back to life, like The Immigrant for example, but it was mostly a triumphant precursor for Boyhood.
Linklater’s film was the big winner for sure, one of only two titles (along with the aforementioned The Immigrant) to have multiple citations. Boyhood led the awards with three wins, showing up in Best Picture, Best Director for Linklater, and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. As such, the fuel to the “Boyhood is the Best Picture frontrunner” fire can burn even brighter, particularly since its main competition in Birdman, The Imitation Game, and Selma all were shut out by the NYFCC voters. Score one for Linklater and company, without a doubt. It’s too early to say if this is the beginning of a sweep, but this is the start that the film needed this awards season.
As I’ve hinted, the other title that did the best was James Gray’s The Immigrant, which picked up a Best Cinematography win for Darius Khondji as well as being half of Marion Cotillard’s Best Actress win (the other half belonging to Two Days, One Night). I don’t think this suddenly makes The Immigrant a serious player again, but it’s a hint that we might see it show up here and there this season. If nothing else, it does help boost Cotillard’s chances in Actress for her other performance.
Among the other major categories, NYFCC bestowed their Best Actor prize upon Timothy Spall for Mr. Tuner (which was a bit of a surprise considering the top tier competition he had), J.K. Simmons took Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash (which wasn’t a surprise at all, at least to me), and The Grand Budapest Hotel pulled off an upset Best Screenplay win. Presumed frontrunners Citizenfour, Ida, and The Lego Movie also won in Best Documentary (or in this case Best Nonfiction) Film, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Animated Film, respectively.
Here now […]

“Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell is on its way to Oscar gold – Hollywood Film Awards

“Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell is on its way to Oscar gold.
Today, both in New York and Los Angeles, there were screenings for the press and the Screen Actors Guild members.
Jack O’Connell was honored at the Hollywood Film Awards last November 14th with

Shailene Woodley: On her way to an Oscar?

Is Shailene Woodley on her way to be nominated for a Oscar?
As you know Shailene received the “Hollywood Breakout Performance Award” last November 14, at the Hollywood Film Awards, the TV show that launches the awards season.
To read more about 2014 Hollywood Film Awards Winners.

Shailene Woodley:
“For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s best young women. Without question, there are few better out there than Shailene Woodley, a rising star who literally only has the sky as her sole limit. She’s impressed pretty much from the very start, moving quickly up the industry food chain from a young supporting player to a franchise lead. During that time, she’s also managed to become a bit of a lifestyle icon and a genuine person who stands out in the crowd. All those things and more make her a real A-lister and one well worth this sort of tribute today.
Woodley got her start on television with various guest starring roles. Programs like Crosing Jordan, The District, Everybody Loves Raymond, Jack & Bobby, The O.C., Without a Trace, and others gave her a beginning, which of course any young actor or actress needs. Luckily for her, she’d only need a few years before landing a starring role on the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Besides raising her profile, it also caught the attention of filmmaker Alexander Payne. The rest, as they say, is history.
Her introduction to film came in Payne’s movie The Descendants, where she announced her presence with quite a bit of authority. Playing George Clooney’s troubled teenage daughter, Woodley immediately received awards attention, leading to speculation that she’d receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. While that didn’t come to pass (which was considered a mild surprise and a snub), she did get a Golden Globe nomination, cementing her as someone to watch out for. She was officially on her way to the A-list with just one theatrical credit to her name. That’s really something…” by Joey Madgison
to read more about Shailene Woodley – Spotlight on the Stars.

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