April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Cinema of the United States

Oscars®: Will either of the movies about doppelgangers be up the Academy’s alley?

Today, a small movie called Enemy opened in limited release, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and, well…Jake Gyllenhaal. In May, another small flick called The Double comes out, and that one stars Jesse Eisenberg alongside, you guessed it…Jesse Eisenberg. 2014 seems to be the year of the doppelganger, in addition to biblical epics as I mentioned a week or so ago. These are acting showcases through and through, so could Oscar bite for one or both of them? Honestly, I think they’re both too offbeat and weird for Academy attention, so instead of doing specific preview pieces on them and just going through the motions of talking about a likely to be ignored pair of films, I wanted to sort of discuss both of them a bit here in this sort of an article. These could be independent contenders for other awards, so it’s important to give the pair a moment in the sun here, if nothing else.
First up we have Enemy, which is partially notable for being the other movie that Gyllenhaal shot with his Prisoners director Denis Villenueve (and actually was filmed first, though it’s coming out this year as opposed to last…both played festivals around the same time however). Written by Javier Gullón and costarring Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon, this is a very dreamlike and Kafka-esque (you’ll understand why if you see it) look at identity. Gyllenhaal plays a teacher who sees a doppelganger of his when watching a movie and set out to meet the man. Things obviously don’t go as intended. This is a psychosexual thriller of sorts and about as far from mainstream as it gets. That being said, it’s impeccably made by Villenueve and expertly acted, so an open minded audience member or Oscar voter could find something to like here, particularly in terms of Gyllenhaal’s performance(s).
Now we come to The Double, which is co-written (along with Avi Korine) and directed by Richard Ayoade. Eisenberg costars here with Sally Hawkins, Wallace Shawn, Mia Wasikowska, Chris O’Dowd, and Noah Taylor, to name a few. This is a pitch black comedy about a meek office drone driven mad by the appearance of a smooth talking doppelganger who at first seems interested in helping him before attempting to take over his life. This is very much a dark comedy that almost seems uninterested in laughs, so that immediately will turn off some voters, but Eisenberg has rarely [...]

Oscars®: Which acting winner is most likely to win again, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey?

When the most recent Academy Awards were given out a few weeks ago (it both feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago already), we crowned first time winners in first time nominees Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), and Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave), while former winner and multiple nominee Cate Blanchett took home her second Oscar (Best Actress for Blue Jasmine). The fact that the majority of the group had never even been nominated before got me thinking…which of them is most likely to be like Blanchett and win again?
First of all, it’s possible that Blanchett could be next in line to win, giving her three Oscar victories, just like Meryl Streep. She always does phenomenal work and the Academy never hesitates to nominate her, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if she wound up winning again. Next up for her is a film with Todd Haynes, and that could be pretty baity on its own. You never want to predict a third Academy Award for anyone, considering how rare that is, but if anyone out there can get there, it’s probably Blanchett. Especially if she ever works with Woody Allen again like she did here with Blue Jasmine…watch out.
Next in line, you have to think that McConaughey is just getting started. He came close-ish last year to a nomination for Magic Mike and this year he also had Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street in contention, so there’s no shortage of his roles under consideration. With upcoming projects uniting him with Christopher Nolan and Gus Van Sant, it’s a stretch to think that another nomination at least isn’t in his future, if not a win. We’re in the middle of the so called McConaissance, so I think he’s going to become an Academy favorite for some time.
As for Leto, it really depends on if he focuses on music or movies going forward. He’s equally talented at both, so if he makes himself available for films, I could certainly see voters citing him again. He’s proven himself previously with work like Requiem for a Dream, so Dallas Buyers Club was basically just a reminder of his skills. As long as he continues to consistently act, I can see him being on the Oscar radar. We’ll see though.
Lastly, in the case of [...]

Oscars®: Noah – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Douglas Booth, Marton Csokas, Nick Nolte, Mark Margolis, and Frank Langella
Past Oscar relations: Crowe won Best Actor for Gladiator and has two other acting nominations, Hopkins won Best Actor for The Silence of the Lambs and has three other acting nominations, Connolly won Best Supporting Actress for A Beautiful Mind, Nolte has three acting nominations, Langella has one acting nominations, Aronofsky has a nomination for Best Director, and DP Matthew Libatique has a nomination for Best Cinematography
Here we go now with our first true article in this new series on 2014 contenders. First up is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which again brings him together with the likes of Jennifer Connelly, composer Clint Mansell, co-writer Ari Handel, and cinematographer Matthew Libatique, along with newcomers like Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, and Logan Lerman. It’s a retelling of the story of Noah (shockingly enough), though apparently more in line with Aronofsky’s prior work like The Fountain than more straightforward biblical tales to date.

What this movie has going in its favor is quite simply Aronofsky. He’s a visionary director and this has long been a passion project of his. I’ll have a bit more to say about passion projects this weekend, but I’m someone who’s always interested in them and how much potential they have. Aronofsky finally caught the Academy’s attention last time around with Black Swan (though both Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler scored acting citations), so if Oscar voters are now on his wavelength, we could see them look to honor his ambition here.
Working against Noah is publicity that the flick will get because of its origins, as opposed to the final product itself. Early reviews have been mixed but mostly positive, so it’s not a question of if the film is any good or not, but if it’ll be given a real chance. My heart wants to say that folks will look past the potential protests from the religious right, but my head thinks that it’ll become something all too easy to ignore for voters. Taking into account that it’s an early year release as well, and the movie clearly will have an uphill battle for any major recognition, to say the least.
So, can this be a player at all? My gut says [...]

Oscars®: What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race: The early contenders so far

I’m starting up with a new weekly series here at Hollywood News, one tentatively titled “What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race”. Once or twice a week, I’ll be looking at potential 2014 awards contenders, and for the inaugural piece today, I figured I’d cover some of the films that have already come out this year, including one notable release that’s beginning its theatrical run today. Future pieces will more specifically focus on one title in particular, completely with more of an in depth look at them, but today we’ll start off with a primer.
I’ve got a quartet of films to discuss, though they all have various pros and cons to their potential candidacies, obviously. Consider this a template for what’s to come during the year, including a placeholder grade of either “likely contender”, “potential contender”, or “long shot contender” for each…

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson
This film just began its theatrical run today in limited release, but Wes Anderson projects always flirt with the Academy’s attention. Anderson himself has a trio of Oscar nominations to his credit so far (for co-writing Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums as well as for making the animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox), so he’s no stranger to awards. Best Picture and Best Director has so far eluded him though. If the year is on the weak side, a comedically tinged film like this one could possibly slip in, though Anderson himself is more likely for another Screenplay citation than a Director one. Watch out for Ralph Fiennes too, as he could parlay a likely Golden Globe nomination into some Academy consideration as well.
Grade: Likely contender
The LEGO Movie
Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Written by: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller
Cast: (Voices of) Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman
I have my doubts that we’ll see another animated title get a Best Picture nomination again for a while, but the reviews and box office for this one make me think that it’s at worth considering its candidacy at this early juncture. If nothing else, this one [...]

‘Noah’ debuts a new TV Spot

If there’s one new release this month that I’m really looking forward to in a big way, it’s Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which has long been a passion project of his. The last time he had one of those on his mind, we got The Fountain, which is a divisive film, yes, but also one of my five favorite films of all time, so suffice to say, I’m 100% in for this one. Aronofsky has a top notch cast on hand too, including Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman, and Nick Nolte, among others. I’m not usually big on biblical epics, but this could be an exception. A new look at the movie has arrived today in the form of a 30 second TV Spot, and I’ve got that for you all to check out momentarily. The flick comes out in theaters at the end of the month and is a must see in my book based on the filmmaker’s reputation alone, for whatever that’s worth. Decide for yourself though below…
Here’s the new TV Spot that dropped today:

This will likely either be a huge hit or a huge flop, financially at least, but one thing is for certain, it won’t be for lack of ambition on Aronofsky’s part. Either way, for me, March 28th can’t come soon enough!

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred [...]

‘Non-Stop’ dethrones ‘The Lego Movie’ at the Box Office

Happy Oscar Sunday everyone! While wait for the show to start later on this evening, it’s time for the weekly box office report. Leading the way this weekend was a new film for a change, as Liam Neeson’s thriller Non-Stop debuted at number one with an estimated $30 million. At number two we had the debut of the religious flick Son of God, which took in an estimated $26.5 million, and down at number 14 we had the re-release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in a special R rated edition. That movie grabbed an extra $1.3 million from fans. Among the limited release openings, we had a wide range of indie titles that failed to make much of a mark, including The Bag Man, Ernest & Celestine, The Lunchbox, and Stalingrad. They didn’t embarrass themselves, but none look to be a crossover hit or anything of that sort.
Liam Neeson continues to be a reliable action hero, as Non-Stop had a very solid first weekend haul. As for Son of God, folks didn’t seem to mind that it’s just an expanded version of the TV series The Bible that they already could have seen for free. As for Anchorman 2, that re-release was only designed for hardcore fans of the film, so don’t read too much into that small cume.
Among the notable holdovers in theaters, The LEGO Movie continued to be a blockbuster with another $21 million in its bank account. The other good holds were that of The Monuments Men, which made $5 million and keeps right on chugging along, as well as the $3.6 million more that Frozen took in this weekend.
Here now is what the top ten looked like at the box office for this particular weekend:
1. Non-Stop – $30,019,000
2. Son of God – $26,500,000
3. The LEGO Movie – $21,015,000
4. The Monuments Men – $5,000,000
5. 3 Days to Kill – $4,900,000
6. RoboCop – $4,500,000
7. Pompeii – $4,300,000
8. Frozen – $3,611,000
9. About Last Night – $3,400,000
10. Ride Along – $3,065,000

12 Years a Slave wins five Independent Spirit Awards

Could the Independent Spirit Awards results from earlier today be foreshadowing what happens with the Academy Awards tomorrow night? Personally, I don’t think so, but the potential is there at least, especially after 12 Years a Slave pretty much dominated the show, taking five awards, including Best Feature, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Screenplay for John Ridley. The other award it won was Best Cinematography, but it’s not nominated for that Oscar, so there won’t be a chance of a perfect correlation here between the two voting bodies.
Among other major categories, Matthew McConaughey won Best Male Lead and Jared Leto won Best Supporting Male for their work in Dallas Buyers Club, while Cate Blanchett took home Best Female Lead for Blue Jasmine. We also had 20 Feet from Stardom winning Best Documentary, Blue is the Warmest Color winning Best International Film, and as previously announced Mud taking the Robert Altman Award.
While there’s no chance of Academy members being influenced here, considering that voting ended earlier this week, 12 Years a Slave finally got the chance to run roughshod over a televised awards show, and that’s something at least. Without competition from American Hustle and Gravity, you can’t be totally sure what this means, but it’s a nice citation for the movie, regardless.
You can see the full Spirit Award winners list below:
BEST FEATURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
BEST SCREENPLAY: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DOCUMENTARY: 20 Feet From Stardom
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: 12 Years a Slave
BEST EDITING: Short Term 12
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color
BEST FIRST FEATURE: Fruitvale Station
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Bob Nelson for Nebraska
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mud
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: This is Martin Bonner
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD: Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston

Oscars: Get to know the Best Supporting Actor race

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Notable precursor wins: Abdi wins BAFTA Award, while Leto wins Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Jared Leto
Next in line: Bradley Cooper
Dark horse: Barkhad Abdi
Continuing on with my “Get to know” series, we now have our penultimate piece as we turn our attention today to the Best Supporting Actor race. As you can see in the vital statistics above, the gentlemen making up this category are Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. More or less the whole season, it’s been Leto’s Oscar to lose, and as he’s picked up win after win, that line of thinking has only gotten more common. At this point, he’s potentially the biggest lock of them all.
From the start of the precursors, Leto has all but swept the ceremonies, with the one exception being Abdi emerging victorious from BAFTA, where Leto wasn’t eligible/nominated. Especially with Matthew McConaughey likely to win Best Actor, that only increases the likelihood of Leto taking Supporting Actor. If you’re expecting anyone else to win, you’re quite frankly a bit on the delusional side.
Now, unless there’s an absolute shocker of an upset, Leto is going to be an Oscar winner on Sunday evening. Abdi and possibly even Bradley Cooper are the next in line contenders, but they’re runners up in the strongest sense of the word. The Leto train is pretty much unstoppable, so look for it to pull into the Oscar station in a few days time and pick up an Academy Award for Leto. You can all but mark it down in ink.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of the acting categories tomorrow, with Best Supporting Actress up next to wrap things up!

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!

Page 3 of 36012345...102030...Last »