December 08, 2016

Tag Archives: Emma Stone

“La La Land” takes the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival

Yesterday, the Toronto International Film Festival gave out its awards for 2016, with Damien Chazelle’s La La Land taking the top prize. That distinction, the People’s Choice prize, also known as the Audience Award, puts it into some very strong company (for those wondering, the first runner up was Lion, while the second runner up was Queen Of Katwe). The original musical, which stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, has been winning over viewers for a few weeks now, starting out at the Venice Film Festival, continuing at the Telluride Film Festival, and now charming everyone at Toronto. At this point, it was already considered the frontrunner in Best Picture, but now, one can say it with more distinction. Frankly, it’s hard not to consider this the one to beat right now.
In terms of this particular award and its history, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of prestige. La La Land now joins a group that has five prior Best Picture winners, along with a whole host of nominees since the prize was introduced in the late 1970’s. Just look here at the list of what has won since the Audience Award was originally instituted:
1978 – Girlfriends
1979 – Best Boy
1980 – Bad Timing
1981 – Chariots of Fire
1982 – Tempest
1983 – The Big Chill
1984 – Places in the Heart
1985 – The Official Story
1986 – The Decline of the American Empire
1987 – The Princess Bride
1988 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
1989 – Roger & Me
1990 – Cyrano de Bergerac
1991 – The Fisher King
1992 – Strictly Ballroom
1993 – The Snapper
1994 – Priest
1995 – Antonia
1996 – Shine
1997 – The Hanging Garden
1998 – Life Is Beautiful
1999 – American Beauty
2000 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2001 – Amélie
2002 – Whale Rider
2003 – Zatōichi
2004 – Hotel Rwanda
2005 – Tsotsi
2006 – Bella
2007 – Eastern Promises
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Precious
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – Where Do We Go Now?
2012 – Silver Linings Playbook
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – The Imitation Game
2015 – Room
2016 – La La Land

As you can see, getting the People’s Choice prize is a pretty big deal. Now, we don’t know if La La Land is going to follow in the footsteps of Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and 12 Years a Slave, going the distance to an Oscar win in Best Picture, but the odds are certainly not bad. The Academy Award is a ways […]

Emma Stone, “Jackie”, and “Nocturnal Animals” highlight the Venice Film Festival winners

Over the weekend, the 73rd annual Venice Film Festival handed out their awards for 2016, with a few of the expected major Oscar hopefuls showing up among their winners. They included a few of the contenders being heavily mentioned not only at Venice, but over at the Telluride Film Festival as well. The awards did cite some smaller films and performances, but this was closer to a star studded slate of honorees than not, which is something a bit new. Venice is looking to be a launching pad for a handful of flicks as we move forward in the fall festival season, and that’s certainly exciting. The fest may now be in the books, with the Toronto International Film Festival (or TIFF) the center of attention, but my hat is off to Venice for some of these picks. They seem to have outdone themselves. The whole list of award winners will be seen later on in this article, but first…a bit of analysis!
What you’ll see below are all of the 2016 Venice Film Festival award winners. They included the Golden Lion (their top prize) going to Lav Diaz’s movie The Woman Who Left, the Grand Jury Prize going to Tom Ford’s film Nocturnal Animals, the Volpi Cup for Best Actress going to Emma Stone for her work in Damien Chazelle’s flick La La Land, while Best Screenplay went to Noah Oppenheim for Pablo Larraín’s Jackie. Also of note was the Special Jury Prize going to The Bad Batch, which is the latest work from Ana Lily Amirpour. It was a varied group, for sure, but one that helped put forward Jackie, La La Land, and Nocturnal Animals even further into the Oscar race.

Here now is the full set of winners from the 73rd annual Venice Film Festival, in all of their glory:
Venice 73
Golden Lion: The Woman Who Left (directed by Lav Diaz)
Silver Lion for Best Director (tie): Andrei Konchalovsky for Paradise and Amat Escalante for The Untamed
Grand Jury Prize: Nocturnal Animals (directed by Tom Ford)
Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Oscar Martinez for El Cuidadano Ilustre
Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Emma Stone for La La Land
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor: Paula Beer for Franz
Best Screenplay: Noah Oppenheim for Jackie
Special Jury Prize: The Bad Batch (directed by Ana Lily Amirpour)
Venice Horizons
Best Film: Liberami (directed by Federica Di Giacomo)
Best Director: Fien Troch for Home
Special Jury Prize: Big Big World (directed by […]

Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders

Ahoy there folks! As you ladies and gentlemen all know from the last year or so as well as my handful of articles again during 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 a whole other 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 probably 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…the Best Actress category.
Here are the ten lovely ladies that I have in play for Best Actress, with the top five of course cracking the presumed lineup at this point:
1. Emma Stone (La La Land) – I think you’re all noticing a pattern by now. La La Land seems like a huge player, so Stone makes a ton of sense in this top spot. She’s got a nomination and is in the age range that voters can sometimes like their winners in Best Actress. Everything just fits for her to be not just a top tier contender, but a potential victor as well. For the moment, Stone is in my pole position, with no signs of dropping off, at least until the film screens at the Venice Film Festival.
2. Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals or Arrival) – With someone as overdue as Adams, how can you not have her high up in one of the top two or three slots. Either for Arrival or perhaps more likely for Nocturnal Animals, she seems like a safe bet to be in heavy contention. We know that Adams will win one day, so it’s just a matter of if she’s got the right project this year/what the competition turns out to be. Don’t you […]

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone make us swoon as “La La Land” drops a luminous Teaser Trailer

If you saw my predictions late last week, you saw that I’m very high on La La Land, the upcoming modern musical from Damien Chazelle. This high concept romance is his follow up to the Oscar winning film Whiplash, so it’s clear that this movie has clear Academy Award hopes. Not only is it my perceived frontrunner right now, it’s just one of the 2016 releases to be most excited about this fall. A few days ago, a Teaser Trailer was released, and boy does it look absolutely delightful. You’ll see that Trailer below (and hear some of the original song City of Stars), but in the meantime, I want to whet your appetite a bit for La La Land…
The flick is, again, a musical, with original songs, capturing the old time Hollywood spirit but in a completely new story. It follows a jazz pianist in Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress in Mia (Emma Stone) as they fall in love. They come together in Los Angeles, with success and fame potentially getting in the way of their future. It’s not necessarily a plot that we’ve never seen before, but it’s a perfect fit for a romantic musical to tackle. Chazelle writes and directs, with the rest of the cast, in addition to Gosling and Stone, including Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, Josh Pence, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, and many more. Tom Cross, who won an Oscar for Whiplash, again edits, with Justin Hurwitz returning to do Chazelle’s music as well. Linus Sandgren handles the cinematography. It’s a team capable of doing something very special, that much is certain.

Gosling and Stone appear to have again recaptured the magic that they shared in both Crazy, Stupid, Love., as well as in Gangster Squad. Watching them sing, dance, and fall in love should be an absolute pleasure. I’m quite fond of them both on their own, so together, it’s just an added bonus. Likewise, Chazelle announced himself as a powerful filmmaker with Whiplash, so seeing him do something musical and yet completely different is quite exciting. We almost never get original musicals like this one, so there’s a chance that the Academy and its voters could fall head over heels in love with this one, making it a formidable opponent for all other contenders on the awards season junket.
Awards wise, this seems like a potential juggernaut. Look for a massive campaign to be […]

A first crack at Golden Globe predictions

Now that we’re well into the fall months and about to enter the tail end of the 2015 movie release season, I wanted to take my first crack at some Golden Globe predictions. I’ll be mixing these in with Oscar predictions going forward, but early Globe picks are always interesting to me, especially since sometimes you’re still guessing category placement and just what the tastes of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will look like at the time. They’re almost impossible to accurately guess off the bat the first time around, but that little factoid has yet to stop me from trying all the same. Here goes nothing!
What you’ll notice below is that things more or less reflect how I see the Academy Awards going, but with some slight changes. Obviously, the Comedy or Musical categories open things up to some other contenders, though we won’t know for a bit still how certain contenders will decide to compete. We know that Joy is likely to go Drama, but The Big Short and The Martian, for example, are two that could go the Comedy route. I have pretty much the same winners here as with Oscar, with the exception of Ridley Scott winning Best Director, on the potential strength of The Martian going Comedy and winning Best Picture in that area and getting Matt Damon that Best Actor win as well. The Drama category at the Globes still is where the Best Picture winner for Oscar likely will come from, with Spotlight and Steve Jobs facing off for now, though The Revenant is an X factor spoiler here. We’ll have more HFPA analysis coming soon, but these predictions should suffice for now…
Here you go folks, my initial look at how the Golden Globe awards could shape up:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. Spotlight
2. The Revenant
3. Steve Jobs
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Joy
If there’s a sixth: Brooklyn
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. The Martian
2. Trainwreck
3. The Big Short
4. Love & Mercy
5. Our Brand is Crisis
If there’s a sixth: Grandma
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
2. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
4. Johnny Depp – Black Mass
5. Jake Gyllenhaal – Southpaw
If there’s a sixth: Tom Hanks – Bridge of Spies
Best Actor (Comedy or Musical)
1. Matt Damon – The Martian
2. Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
3. Bill Murray – Rock the Kasbah
4. John Cusack – Love & Mercy
5. Bill Hader – Trainwreck
If there’s a […]

“Irrational Man” and back: Ranking the films of Woody Allen

I know I’m one of the few, but in my humble opinion Woody Allen has yet to make an overtly bad film. His best are all time classics, but even his worst are still very much watchable movies that have pleasures to be found within them. On the occasion of the release of his latest outing Irrational Man, I wanted to run down all of Allen’s solo directorial endeavors and rank them. I’ll also be writing a bit about Irrational Man first, but below you’ll find a list of all 45 of his works to date. In the interest of not making this the longest piece in existence, I’m only going to be writing about the top ten, but the list will go down the line of everything he’s made (with the exception of what he didn’t direct, didn’t completely direct, or made for TV). A number of my picks will be fairly obvious choices, but there’s at least one or two selections in the top ten that are somewhat controversial picks. Enjoy…
First, as promised, a bit on Irrational Man. It’s mid-level Woody, which is to say that it’s far from his best but in no way his worst either. Essentially, it’s an above average moral drama, with strong turns from Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, and Emma Stone. Allen is meditating on philosophy, justice, as well as life and death, which are nothing new for him. It’s done in a slightly different way than normal, almost as a counterpoint to her other darker outings. It can be a bit on the slow side, but Irrational Man, which is out today, is well worth seeing, so be sure not to miss out if you’re a fan of the legendary filmmaker.

Now, take a look at how I’d rank the films of Allen:
1. Annie Hall – An all time classic dramedy, as well as one of my favorite films of all time, this is Woody Allen’s Best Picture winner and his almost undisputed masterpiece. Diane Keaton gives an all time performance, rightly winning Best Actress, while Allen turns in his best performance as well, which was nominated in Best Actor. His Best Director win was justified as well (not to mention Best Original Screenplay), since this is a brilliant and perfect film. I love it with all of my heart. It’s tops for Allen.
2. Sleeper – Allen’s funniest film to date is a […]

Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man”: Ten Films to look forward to in July

Folks, we’re about to enter the second half of the year. Yes, that’s the month of July, which is only days away. Later this week I’ll run down the best of the first half, but right now I wanted to highlight what you should make a point to see over the next month. I’ve seen most of the titles that I’m highlighting below, which just means that I can personally vouch for July easily being the best month for film so far in 2015. Take it from me…you won’t want to miss these flicks. Part Two of 2015 is going to be getting off to quite the start, I can assure you of that much.
Here now are the ten films to anticipate most over the course of July:
10. The Look of Silence – I saw this documentary last year at the New York Film Festival and I’m with all of my colleagues in finding it to be disturbing and powerful. Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow up to The Act of Killing is just as good and makes for an essential double feature in the making. Look for this to contend in the Best Documentary Feature and perhaps also in the Best Foreign Language Feature category as well.
9. Southpaw – I see this boxing drama in just a few short days and expect Jake Gyllenhaal to again leave an impact with his performance. The early word is that he’s a highlight, which is no surprise. The story appears a bit on the generic side, but if Gyllenhaal is as good as he can be, he’ll be in contention for another Academy Award nomination with this sports flick.
8. Paper Towns – At this point, anything that writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber decide to do has my attention. As such, their second John Green adaptation is no exception. Starring up and comer Nat Wolff, it appears like a charming high school set romantic mystery. Green’s work seems to want to make you cry as well, so we’ll see if that’s a side effect here or not.
7. Ant-Man – One of Marvel’s riskier bets, reviews so far have been mostly solid for this superhero flick. I see it next week and hope to have it more in line with Guardians of the Galaxy than some of the other outings from the studio that began characters, such as Thor. I like all of Marvel’s […]

Cameron Crowe returns to the big screen with “Aloha”

One of my favorite filmmakers out there is Cameron Crowe, bar none. He’s responsible for some of the most enjoyable and memorable cinema of the past few decades, so whenever a new film of his arrives, it’s something that I look forward to in a big way. As such, this week’s release of Aloha is one that’s been on my movie calendar for a while now. The director is returning to a project that he’d originally intended to be his follow up to Elizabethtown (a film that I unabashedly love, even if I’m in the minority), so it’s clear it means something to him. When I see it later tonight (we’re embargoed on discussing it until later in the week, by the by), hopefully that passion is reflected.
The film (once called Deep Tiki and rumored to star Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon before being shelved for a while and re-emerging from Crowe’s mind as Aloha) is a Hawaii set romantic dramedy, sure to be filled with memorable music. It centers around a military contractor (played by Bradley Cooper) who returns to the Hawaiian location of one of his greatest career triumphs. While there, he re-connects with a long-ago love (played by Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling in love with the Air Force watchdog (played by Emma Stone) who is assigned to him be with him at all times. Crowe obviously writes and directs, while the cast, aside from Cooper, McAdams, and Stone, features Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Elizabeth Marvel, and many more.
Throughout Crowe’s career, he’s had a great sense of music, relationships, and just filmmaking on the whole that makes you want to stand up and cheer. If any of that is once again in evidence here, it’ll make for a very entertaining film. Even if this is one of his lesser features, like the still enjoyable We Bought a Zoo, for example, it’ll still be something likely worth seeing. Factor in how great of a run Cooper is on of late, and that only makes this something more interesting. When Crowe is at his best, we get all time classics like Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, so even if he’s not on that level, expectations should still be high.
Yes, the trailers so far have made this feel a bit on the generic side, but sometimes that actually winds up working in a movie’s favor. Without […]

Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone in ALOHA

In Aloha, a celebrated military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs – the US Space program in Honolulu, Hawaii – and reconnects with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him.
From Academy Award®-winner Cameron Crowe, the writer-director behind such films as Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, Aloha also stars Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, and Alec Baldwin.

Woody Allen: First Trailer for “Irrational Man” with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone

Each and every single year, we’re treated to a new Woody Allen movie. Moreover, basically every other year, Allen’s latest outing becomes an awards contender. With last year apparently being his off year with the enjoyable, if slight, Magic in the Moonlight, speculation is high that 2015 could see an Oscar player from the filmmaker. Well, the first Trailer for his new film Irrational Man has hit the web, and it shows off some solid acting and a unique take on a potentially tired plot. I’m not sure if the Academy will wind up noticing it when all is said and done, but I sure did.
Irrational Man is a romantic comedy about a burnt out Philosophy professor who arrives at a new school and winds up in an existential crisis when he becomes smitten/in a relationship with a student. Joaquin Phoenix plays the professor while Emma Stone plays the student. Also on hand in this potentially smaller than usual last for Allen (who of course writes and directs) is Jamie Blackley and Parker Posey, to name two. If the plot sounds like something you’ve seen before, you’re not alone. The catch here is that Allen has a very unique take on the world, so his interpretation of this situation has a ton of potential.
There’s two things in the Trailer that stick out at me. One is the chemistry apparent between Phoenix and Stone, as well as the potential for Posey to steal her scenes. The other is that it appears that Allen is utilizing dual voiceovers to get us into the headspace of both main characters. That could lead to some fascinating introspective commentary, though it also could wind up just being a gimmick. Right now though, I’m willing to look at it as a clever choice by the legendary filmmaker, one that gives this film something to potentially set it apart from the crowd. You’ll be able to see the Trailer below and decide for yourself, of course, but I liked what I saw.
Obviously, we don’t know if Irrational Man will be a player in the awards season or not, but if it does, my suspicion is that it would be on the back of Allen’s script and the performances of Phoenix, Posey, and Stone. One could potentially envision a campaign centered on Best Picture, Best Actor for Phoenix, Best Actress for Stone, best Supporting Actress for Posey, and […]

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