September 18, 2015
        "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                Will Smith crusades for Best Actor in the "Concussion" Trailer        

Tag Archives: colin firth

Leonardo DiCaprio: Looking at potential Best Actor contenders

Folks, as you all know from last year as well as my articles again so far this year, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen six or so months from now, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know something about what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m once again running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket. It’s old hat to you by now, I’m sure, but hey…
Today I’m continuing with another of the bigger ones that’s out there for us…the Best Actor category.

Here are the ten gentlemen that I have in play for Best Actor, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) – Everyone pretty much agrees that DiCaprio will win an Oscar one day, it’s just a matter of when. Could it be this year? He’s the odds on favorite for many, and while I’m not sure it will happen, I can’t argue that he seems to be the most likely contender right now. The Trailer we saw suggests a physical and intense role, so if he can impress as much as we think he potentially can here, it might just be his time.
2. Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans or Macbeth or Steve Jobs) – A lot will depend on which film asserts itself as Fassbender’s prime vehicle. Steve Jobs seems like it’ll be the one most likely to work for him, but that remains to be seen. I can’t shake the feeling that Fassbender isn’t going to win for that role, so perhaps The Light Between Oceans or Macbeth will wind up making a late charge? His candidacy is one of the more interesting subplots in this year’s Best Actor race, if you ask me…
3. Matt Damon (The Martian) – Perhaps a bit of wishful thinking on my part, […]

“5 to 7″: The Best of the First Third of 2015

Ahoy! With it now being May, we’ve officially finished up with the first third of the year. As such, I wanted to highlight the best of the year so far, consisting of my top ten and various awards for 2015 to date. Much like last time, when I did the first quarter of the year, I’m mostly limiting it to things that have already hit theaters. My only exception is that I’m including titles from the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival. There are some others from last year that I’m fond of and might have otherwise included, but I didn’t want to cheat too badly, so they’re on hold. Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff…
Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2015. Here you go, and enjoy:
10. Amira & Sam – Much like I said last time out, this is one of the bigger surprises this year for me so far. I really did fall hard for this romantic dramedy. Not only does it give Martin Starr his best and most dramatic role to date, it also crafts one of the better movies about New York that I’ve seen in the past few years. It was cruelly under-seen earlier this year, but I hope this recommendation does its part to fix that when it hits home video next week.
9. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Without question, this documentary is taking aim at a slightly easy target in the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, but tons of incredible claims come out of it all the same, as I said the last time I spoke about it. Director Alex Gibney isn’t doing his best work ever, but it’s still an angry and passionate bit of work. The ratings when it played on HBO were through the roof, so it definitely caught on.
8. ’71 – To reiterate, this was a title that I first saw at NYFF 2014 but had it stick with me well into 2015. This war drama is the best tale of survival starring Jack O’Connell yet, and yes, I know that Unbroken exists too (that only furthers my argument). This is a small scale and gritty flick that manages to really captivate you. Another barely seen title that I want to shine a light on. Go seek it out […]

The 82nd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

As I mentioned last time out, this series has officially returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent (or now recent-ish) 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 attempting to do just that, time will still tell if it’s something that gets stuck with or not. Again, if nothing else, this continues to give 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 for this particular ceremony:
Best Picture – Up in the Air
The nominees here were A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up. The main snub here, in my book at least, was (500) Days of Summer, and I nearly went with the actual winner in The Hurt Locker, but Up in the Air was my #1 film of this year, so that made it pretty academic in the end.
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
A history making and diverse category this time out, the field consisted of Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. I believe Marc Webb was snubbed for (500) Days of Summer and really wish that Reitman had come closer to winning, but when you come right down to it, I can’t argue with Bigelow. The first woman to ever win Best Director gets my vote here as well.
Best Actor – George Clooney for Up in the Air
Here the nominees were Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker. The Academy missed the boat on nominating Sam Rockwell for Moon, but aside from him, I’d have to go for Clooney.
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for An Education
The big snub to me here was Zooey Deschanel for (500) Days […]

“5 to 7″ and “It Follows”: The Best of the First Quarter of 2015

Time flies. Believe it or not, we’re now three full months into the 2015 movie calendar, which means we’re literally a quarter of the way through the film slate. That got me thinking about what the best of the bunch so far this year has been. Since now is the time when the film slate begins to transition into summer flicks (cough, Furious 7, cough) and counter programming independent fare, I thought it was the perfect time to praise the best of 2015 so far. Basically, anything that hit screens between January 1st and March 31st will be up for grabs here for my personal honors. I do have one release from this weekend that I’ve included, but only because of how eager I am to talk about it. Other than that, there’s no cheating…I swear!
Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2015. Here you go, and enjoy:
10. The Rewrite – A charming and simple Hugh Grant film, it likely would have been a hit had it come out a decade ago. Grant is at his wittiest in a while, with J.K. Simmons turning in yet another solid supporting performance as well. It’s nothing to go crazy over, but it’s a quietly enjoyable movie that I’ve already revisited more than once since it hit Blu-Ray and DVD last week.
9. Black or White – Even though this got a qualifying run at the end of 2014, it’s officially a 2015 release, at least in terms of its wide bow, so it counts here in my book. Kevin Costner is fantastic, while Octavia Spencer is very good too in Mike Binder’s latest flick. It made a few bucks, but it definitely deserved a much bigger audience than it received. The film is hardly perfect, but its heart is most certainly in the right place.
8. While We’re Young – I first saw this as the New York Film Festival’s Secret Screening, but it’s just as appealing here in the first quarter of 2015. Noah Baumbach’s most mainstream outing to date, he really gave us a great quartet of characters, ones essayed by Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. It’s not on the level of some of his best films, but I still really liked it.
7. Amira & Sam – One of the bigger surprises this year […]

Veteran actors who can follow the Tom Cruise/Liam Neeson action hero path

Between last week’s Liam Neeson release Run All Night marking one of the final times that Neeson will play an action hero and yesterday’s debut of Tom Cruise defying age in the new Mission: Impossible trailer, I got to thinking about who could take their places going forward. Obviously, Neeson is almost done and Cruise won’t be kicking ass forever, so there must be an heir apparent or two out there, right? Well, no one who is out and out gunning for that gig, but there’s plenty of middle aged actors who have at least dipped their toes in the water. As such, I came up with a list of actors who could certainly take the mantle from these two, perhaps even pushing this sub genre of action to a slightly new level. It’s mostly a list in good fun, but there’s certainly some truths contained within. Hey, maybe in a few years I’ll have been proven prescient about a couple of career arcs!
Below you’ll see the ten gentlemen I’ve selected, listed alphabetically:
Javier Bardem – Most people acknowledge that Bardem can do just about anything, including turning in a couple of terrific villain turns, so why not an action hero? One of those turns is especially iconic (No Country for Old Men) and he even has a part in the recently released action flick The Gunmen, so he’s orbiting that action hero planet in a big way. I think he’d do a great job too.
Kenneth Branagh – Here’s another actor who has tried out the villainous role, but Branagh seems tailor made to perhaps play a veteran spy. He’s firmly entrenched in his directing career, which makes this a long shot, but anything is possible. Maybe he could be given his own franchise to headline both in front of and behind the camera? That might do the trick.
Kevin Costner – For a while Costner was an action hero, of course, but those days have passed him by. If he were to return, it’d be as a second generation hero, which certainly has an appeal. There’s a risk of having this feel like someone who fell out of The Expendables, but Costner has played around in the action genre recently, with last year’s 3 Days to Kill (which had the aforementioned Branagh as the bad guy) as one example. I hope he sticks with it, in addition to his strong dramatic […]

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 […]

12 Films still to look forward to this summer

With the second half of the year underway, it’s tempting to also declare the summer movie season all but over as well. While we may only have a few big blockbusters still to go, the independent films still to be released offer some interesting options, with at least one excellent option that I can vouch for (though I’ve actually seen all but four of the titles on the impending list). As such, I figured I’d take this moment to give you all 12 flicks that you can still look forward to between now and the end of August. There’s plenty out now to see, between Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Life Itself, just to name three excellent new releases, but now I’ll give you some other things to anticipate.
Below you’ll see a dozen films that you should still have marked down on your calendars as must sees…
12. I Origins – Even though I’m not a huge fan of this science fiction tinged indie drama, it’s certainly interesting and worth seeing. Filmmaker Mike Cahill impressed me last time around with Another Earth, so anyone who liked that one should check out this new one, which also features Brit Marling once again, though Michael Pitt is the star this time around. It begins its rollout next week.
11. Love Is Strange – Back at the Tribeca Film Festival I saw and very much enjoyed this small scale love story. Both John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are excellent here as an older couple trying to make it in New York City. It’s well worth seeing, trust me there. It hits at the end of August.
10. A Most Wanted Man – One of the final performances we’ll ever see from the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this thriller. At one point this was thought of as a potential awards player, but its reception at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was rather muted. Still, it opens at the beginning of next month and should be worth checking out.
9. The One I Love – An offbeat dramedy with a number of plot twists I won’t spoil, it captured my interest at Tribeca. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are strong as just about the only folks in the movie. It’s out in the middle of August and is a nice change of pace option for audiences.
8. Calvary – The previous […]

“The Fault in Our Stars”: Oscar Contenders from the First Half

We’re officially on to the second half of the year folks, and as such, it makes sense to look back a bit and see where we stand, awards wise through six months. As such, today I’ll be going over which films are the most likely Oscar contenders from January through June. Also, I’ll do an added bonus by showing you what the Academy Award nominations could look like if only films from the first half were eligible. If nothing else, it’ll be a random fun tidbit to chew on. Here goes nothing…
Special note, this doesn’t include contenders that screened at festivals but aren’t hitting theaters until July or later. As such, Sundance hits like Boyhood and Whiplash won’t be seen here, even though they’re easily bigger contenders than any you’ll see below. The same goes for Cannes debuts like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Foxcatcher, and Mr. Turner, since we’ll be getting into those in a bigger way soon. They’ll have their moments shortly, but for now, let us give the first half long shots some love!
These are the ten films I’d say are the most likely to make some kind of a play for Oscar love:
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel – If there’s a film from the first half that has any chance of making a play for Best Picture, it’s Wes Anderson’s latest. Ralph Fiennes and the Screenplay itself seem likely to at least be heavily in contention, so when building a list of what could translate from the first half to the second half, this has to be high up there on that list.
2. The Fault in Our Stars – Depending on how this holds up once awards season starts, the tearjerker could either turn into an under the radar contender or be forgotten about completely. Shailene Woodley’s stunning performance, Laura Dern’s heartbreaking supporting turn, and the tender Adapted Screenplay should make the transition to the actual Oscar season, if nothing else. It could be boom or bust for this one, frankly.
3. Begin Again – I have a feeling voters will remember this one come the end of the year and at the very least consider it in a few places. John Carney caught their eye once with, well…Once, so he’s not an unknown. Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and the Original Screenplay have chances, while I think a Best Original Song nomination is pretty likely right now. […]

Tom Hanks: The Top 25 (Best Actor)

Yes, this time around I’ll be tackling one of the biggest of the big eight categories in an effort not to save them all for very last, much like with last week. This one is arguably the second biggest of them all…the Best Actor field. This is as prestigious a category as there is ladies and gentlemen. I could go on and on in preparation right now, but at this point I know how the game works here. You all mostly just want to see the lists that I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good people there in that particular regard once again. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or so and you’ll get the goods front and center…
This time around, I’m once again going with the ever popular overview route for the discussion as you might have guessed. Also, it really just comes down to taste again here (surprise surprise), with your opinion influencing what sort of winner you’re particularly partial to. It’s pretty much a matter of taste once again for us all, which is commonplace at this point and even more so with acting. I know a couple of of my selections are going to seem a bit on the odder side of the equation, especially again when you see how high I ranked certain gentlemen, but that’s just the way it is. You can’t please everyone with this sort of a thing, so I won’t lie to myself in order to try.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Tom Hanks and his stunning performance in Philadelphia. Frankly, I wish I could basically have a tie throughout my entire top five, which also includes Marlon Brando for On The Waterfront (as opposed to his more widely praised turn in The Godfather) Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas (easily the most underrated winner in history to me), Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (controversially ahead of There Will Be Blood), and Robert De Niro for Raging Bull (to some the best ever). They’re almost all tied, they’re so phenomenal. I give the slight edge to Hanks though, just because of how long that turn has stayed with me. Rounding out the top ten we have the other beloved performances of Day-Lewis […]

TIFF ’12: “The Master,” “On the Road” and new De Palma confirmed

By Sean O’Connell A lengthy second wave of Gala and Special Presentation programming has been announced for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, including this year’s Closing Night Film, which will be Paul Andrew Williams’ “Song for Marion,” with Terence Stamp and Gemma Arterton. It will mark the film’s World Premiere.
But that’s only one of eight new World Premieres included in today’s announcement. In addition, TIFF plans to pull the exclusive curtain back on the following films:
– “Emperor,” Peter Webber’s drama about the American occupation of Japan following World War II, with Tommy Lee Jones playing Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
– “What Maisie Knew,” an adaptation of the Henry James novella about a 7-year-old caught in a custody battle between her mother – a rock and
roll icon – and her father. Alexander Skarsgård, Julianne Moore, and Steve Coogan co-star.
– “Arthur Newman,” Dante Ariola’s offbeat golf drama about a former pro who fakes his own death and reinvents himself as a different player. Emily Blunt, Colin Firth, and Anne Heche co-star.
– “Do Not Disturb,” Yvan Attal French’s comedy that follows college pals Jeff and Ben who couldn’t be more different, but come together for a wild party that will change their lives forever.
– “Greetings from Tim Buckley,” Dan Algrant’s anticipated feature about Jeff Buckley’s 1991 performance at his father’s tribute concert in St. Ann’s Church. Imogen Poots and Penn Badgley star.
– “Rhino Season,” a Turkish drama about a former prisoner who sets out to find his wife, who people say died while he was detained.
– “Yellow,” Nick Cassavetes’ latest which centers on Mary Holmes, a young woman addicted to Vicodin who takes audiences into her hallucinatory world — peopled with Busby Berkeley dancers, Cirque du Soleil, Circus freaks, and human farm animals where nothing is quite what it seems. Sienna Miller, Gena Rowlands, Ray Liotta, David Morse, Lucy Punch, Max Theoriot, Riley Keough, Daveigh Chase, Heather Wahlquist and Melanie Griffith star.
In addition to the world premieres, TIFF revealed that several anticipated titles will make their North American premieres after stopping at previous festivals (such as Cannes or Venice).

Spike Lee will bring his Michael Jackson documentary “Bad 25” to Toronto, celebrating the late artist’s seminal album. Susanne Bier’s latest, “Love is All You Need,” has been slated for TIFF, as has Brian De Palma’s “Passion,” with Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace.
Kristen Stewart’s Cannes hit “On The Road” will travel to […]

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