August 30, 2015
        "Carol": Looking at potential Best Adapted Screenplay Hollywood Contender                What were the Ten Best summer releases of 2015?                Eddie Redmayne: The Danish Girl / Official US Poster                Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep: SUFFRAGETTE New Poster                Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowland to Receive Academy's 2015 Governors Awards                Johnny Depp, Leo DiCaprio - Which acting contenders this year are most due for their first win?                "Joy" is the latest Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell project in the Oscar hunt                "Straight Outta Compton" is making the case for Oscar consideration                "The Martian": Oscar predictions for August                Rooney Mara: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders                Bradley Cooper will heat up the Oscar race in "Burnt"                "Carol" gets a Teaser that firmly puts Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the Oscar race                Carey Mulligan is an Oscar contender                Hollywood Contenders for 2015 Best Actor: Leo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Fassbender                Hollywood Contenders: 2015 Best Movie Blockbusters: Jurassic World, Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Fast & Furious 7...        

Tag Archives: Emma Stone

“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 […]

“Mad Max: Fury Road”: Ten Films to Look Forward to in May

With the end of April upon us next week, I wanted to turn our attention to May and the cinematic treats that might be held there. It’s essentially the start of the summer movie season, so there’s a slight turn that takes place in terms of what comes out. There are a few less notable indies, while the mainstream titles veer towards blockbuster status. In fact, a nice grouping of the biggest Hollywood smash hit hopefuls are hitting in May. You’ll see the ones below, clearly, but I tried to mix it up, going from tiny indie horror to massive comic book franchise sequel, with plenty in between. Enjoy!
Here are ten May releases to anticipate…
10. The Ladies of the House – A small independent horror film from John Stuart Wildman and Justina Walford, it offers a welcome throwback to the days of exploitation. I feel like Russ Meyer and Eli Roth would appreciate this in equal measure. It’s genre fare and not for everyone, but those who have a stomach for this sort of thing will likely enjoy discovering some new filmmaking voices. Look for it on May 1st.
9. San Andreas – Dwayne Johnson vs an Earthquake? I’m sure that’s enough to sell a ticket for many of you. I haven’t heard much buzz about this one, but on May 29th we can watch all hell break loose. It’s fair to say that this one could wind up being really entertaining, if likely in a dumb sort of way. We’ll find out on May 29th.
8. Good Kill – I saw this drama at the Tribeca Film Festival (after it came there following a debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier on in 2015) and on May 15th, you can too. It offers up Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot, which is timely, if nothing else. The movie is solid too, so I can recommend it on its merits as well.
7. Pitch Perfect 2 – The sequel to the surprise hit from a few years ago, this is basically fan service, but we rarely get that in the form of a girl power mid level dance comedy, so you can’t take issue with it at all. Anna Kendrick and company are all back, so if you dug the first one, you can see it on May 15th.
6. Welcome to Me – Kristen Wiig wins the lottery and gets own talk show. […]

“Trainwreck”: Ten Original Summer Movies to look forward to

As you all know by now, the summer movie season is getting longer and longer each and every single year. At the same time, the films being released are getting less and less original as well. It’s not necessarily a knock on quality, but everything seems to be a prequel or a reboot or a sequel, leaving very little room for originality. Sure, there’s original takes on things, but original ideas themselves appear to be in short supply. As such, I wanted to highlight some of the 2015 summer releases that seem to buck this trend. There’s a handful of titles that aren’t based on existing material, and that’s delightful to me.
Below you’ll find a list of ten flicks hitting theaters between the beginning of May and the end of August that aren’t comic book adaptations or anything even close to that. I might do a separate list of films like that next week, as the summer movie season basically officially kicks off, but for now, I’m going with this list. They tend to be mainstream outings, though there’s one or two small indies thrown in there to mix it up, for good measure, of course. Take a gander and use this as a way to plan out a well round couple of months of going to the cinema…
In alphabetical order, here are ten original concept movies to look forward to this summer:
Aloha – As a huge Cameron Crowe fan, I’m certainly eager to see his latest romantic comedy that’s sure to have a great soundtrack. Bradley Cooper stars alongside Emma Stone, with Rachel McAdams and Bill Murray among the top notch supporting cast. Crowe hasn’t been the king of the rom-com in a while, so perhaps this will be his return to wide level acclaim? We’ll find out at the very end of May.
Digging for Fire – Indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg always makes original films, but they rare show up on summer movie lists. This year, however, he continues his trend of working with bigger actors on slightly more mainstream a scale. He’s finally being noticed, so another teaming with Jake Johnson could continue that upswing. I believe this one comes out in August.
Inside Out – Pixar goes back to their non-sequel roots with this look inside the mind of a young girl, particularly at her emotions and how they control/interact with her. It has a spot at the […]

2015 MTV Movie Award nominations are more respectable than usual

Yesterday, the MTV Movie Award nominations were announced for 2015. Normally, that’s not the sort of thing that I care even a little bit about, but lo and behold…the films and performances cited happen to be far more respectable than normal. The nominations were led by The Fault in Our Stars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Neighbors, which each came away with 7 citations. There also happened to be multiple nominations scored for Boyhood, Gone Girl, Selma, and Whiplash, among others. This will never become any kind of noteworthy precursor, for sure (especially when it happens after the Oscars are already held), but hey…a step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.
Let me be perfectly clear, there are still plenty of terrible choices here, but the overall list is far better than you’d ever expect it to be. In fact, aside from an obvious bent towards some teen centric movies, this more or less resembles what a number of precursors with a mainstream tilt look like. It’s not inconceivable that in the next year or so these awards will gain a small measure of respect. Think closer to the People’s Choice Awards as opposed to even the Golden Globe Awards, but hey…it’s a start. Every awards show needs to start somewhere, right?
Sure, you could focus on the nominations for things like Annabelle, The Boy Next Door, Horrible Bosses 2, The Maze Runner, The Other Woman, The Purge: Anarchy, and The Wedding Ringer, but why do that? They also went for all of those aforementioned Oscar contenders, so that’s where the focus should be. This isn’t a nomination list to pay too much attention to, but a quick glance does give you a bit of confidence that the next generation of filmgoer isn’t solely concerned with YA franchise adaptions.
Here now is the full nominations list for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards:
Movie of the Year
American Sniper
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Guardians of the Galaxy
Gone Girl
The Fault In Our Stars
Boyhood
Whiplash
Selma”
Best Female Performance
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Emma Stone – Birdman
Shailene Woodley – The Fault In Our Stars
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Scarlett Johansson – Lucy
Best Male Performance
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
Ansel Elgort – The Fault In Our Stars
Miles Teller – Whiplash
Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher
Best Scared-As-S**t Performance
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Annabelle Wallis – Annabelle
Jennifer Lopez – The Boy Next Door
Dylan O’Brien […]

Year in advance Oscar Predictions

I know this seems nuts, but here I am with some Academy Award predictions for next season. We’re a long way out, yes…but for me, this is the absolute most fun time of the year, in terms of forming predictions. Why? Simply put, it’s because anything is possible. If you want to see how an odd nominee would look, you need only predict it. Right now, we’re just as likely to see Steven Spielberg’s latest St. James Place take Best Picture as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s kind of a brilliant thing, really. Even so, I’ve tried to be as logical as possible here, foregoing a number of quirkier picks in favor of the contenders I really feel good about, even if it really is only February still.
Which films are in contention? You’ll be able to see below, but the biggest contender right now seem to be the aforementioned St. James Place from Spielberg, David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis, David O. Russell’s Joy, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant, and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Acting wise, all of those movies have contenders, while the big player right now seems to be Jake Gyllenhaal, who could score for either Demolition or Southpaw. An X factor to keep an eye on? Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which is based on an outstanding book and could either fall flat or be a huge player. Sit tight on that one…
Here now is my first set of Oscar predictions for awards season to come:
BEST PICTURE
1. St. James Place
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Joy
4. The Hateful Eight
5. The Revenant
6. Steve Jobs
7. Demolition
8. The Martian
9. The Sea of Trees
10. The End of the Tour
Next in line: 11. Carol 12. Irrational Man 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Black Mass 15. Snowden 16. Money Monster 17. The Walk 18. Freeheld 19. Southpaw 20. Brooklyn 21. By the Sea 22. MacBeth 23. Bleed for This 24. Aloha 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – St. James Place
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant
5. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Next in line: 6. Danny Boyle – Steve Jobs 7. Gus Van Sant – The Sea of Trees 8. Ridley Scott – The Martian 9. Woody Allen – Irrational Man 10. Jean Marc Vallee – Demolition
BEST […]

“Birdman” soars at the Spirit Awards and Oscar ceremony

Well, it happened folks. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) took Best Picture from Richard Linklater’s Boyhood last night at the Academy Awards. It also managed to win Iñárritu Best Director over Linklater, as well as Best Original Screenplay as well, beating back Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel there. After a brief tease the night before at the Independent Spirit Awards, where the two big films split (Birdman took Best Feature and Boyhood/Linklater took Best Director), it was basically down the line with Oscar. For once, my predictions turned out to be right. I was one of the few to avoid predicting a split, so even though I wound up having one of my worst statistical nights ever, going just 17 out of 24, I got it right when it counted.
So, why did Birdman win? Well, it comes down to two factors for me. One is that it’s a movie about actors/Hollywood/movies to some degree, and that’s catnip to the Academy. Second is that they just plain liked it best. For that first factor, you need only look at recent winners like Argo and The Artist, alongside something like Chicago, and you can see that it’s something Oscar voters did on. For that second factor, it’s pretty self explanatory. Yes, individual honors might have gone elsewhere, including a snub in the Best Film Editing category, both technical sound categories going elsewhere, and Michael Keaton losing Best Actor to The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne (not to mention both Supporting nominees Edward Norton and Emma Stone coming up short), but overall it turned out to be the favorite. Sure, The Grand Budapest Hotel got plenty of love too, but not in the major categories. Collectively, Birdman was the one most beloved, and that resulted in Picture/Director/Original Screenplay going its way, and thus the big crown for the year.
On that same front, why did Boyhood wind up losing? Simply put, voters weren’t quite as fond of it as critics were. During the precursors, the critics award anointed it the frontrunner, something that the Golden Globe Awards bought into as well. Then, when the guilds got involved, which consist of many members of the Academy, they opted to go in a different direction. I’m sure the vote totals in Best Picture were close, with the ones in Best Director probably as tight as ever, but in the end, […]

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