December 31, 2014

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

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 […]

Oscars: 9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar® Race

Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards®. Eighty-three films had originally been considered in the category.
The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:
Argentina, “Wild Tales,” Damián Szifrón, director;
Estonia, “Tangerines,” Zaza Urushadze, director;
Georgia, “Corn Island,” George Ovashvili, director;
Mauritania, “Timbuktu,” Abderrahmane Sissako, director;
Netherlands, “Accused,” Paula van der Oest, director;
Poland, “Ida,” Pawe? Pawlikowski, director;
Russia, “Leviathan,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;
Sweden, “Force Majeure,” Ruben Östlund, director;
Venezuela, “The Liberator,” Alberto Arvelo, director.
Foreign Language Film nominations for 2014 are being determined in two phases.
The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 15. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.
The shortlist will be winnowed down to the category’s five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and, for the first time, London. They will spend Friday, January 9, through Sunday, January 11, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.
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
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

‘Birdman’, ‘Boyhood’, and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ rack up the Critics Choice nominations

Earlier today, the Broadcast Film Critics Association (or BFCA) let loose the nominations for their 20th annual Critics Choice Movie Awards. As has been the case most of the precursor season, Birdman led the field, with Boyhood also enjoying a fine haul. The most interesting thing to me though about the nods today is that The Grand Budapest Hotel also really racked up the noms. That film is climbing the charts quickly and almost assuredly will be in my Best Picture field when I again update my Oscar predictions at the end of the week. What movie it’s going to knock out is a question I’ll try to answer then, but it’s becoming clear that The Grand Budapest Hotel is a force to be reckoned with. Not on the level of Birdman or Boyhood of course (or even The Imitation Game or Selma), but it’s something to really pay attention to now. I never use the Critics Choice nominations as a huge barometer, but as part of the larger precursor stew, if you will, it brings some things to light.
Among the most interesting inclusions here by the BFCA, we had of course the continued success of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which now has Anderson potentially a Best Director contender of real note. Both Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel as well as Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman definitely benefitted from the ability to double nominate by citing it in the strictly Comedy fields as well as the general ones. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood did well enough not to be hurt at all, though this continues to only help Birdman in its quest to unseat Selma as the primary Best Picture competition.
On the other hand, there were more than a few glaring omissions, beginning with Interstellar in Best Picture. That film is just playing like a blockbuster popcorn movie with stunning technical achievements, as opposed to truly a prestige picture, and that’s a shame. Also missing was Christopher Nolan in Best Director/Best Original Screenplay, Steve Carell in Best Actor for Foxcatcher, Joaquin Phoenix (also missing out in Best Actor in a Comedy), and Shailene Woodley in Best Actress for The Fault in Our Stars, continuing to put a nail in her Oscar coffin. Those were just some of the snubs, though they were hardly all of them…
Here now, without further delay, are the full nominations for the 20th annual Critics Choice Movie […]

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
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

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 […]

A December Oscar Predictions Update

Well, the calendar has turned to December folks, so now we’re getting serious here in terms of Oscar predictions. Precursor awards are in full swing now, so expect the Academy Award picture to begin to clear itself up little by little. As I keep saying, that doesn’t mean that from now on we’ll suddenly know how the whole thing will go down, but we’re close to the point where things should make more sense. Without any unseen contenders left, all that’s left is figuring out how these various Oscar hopefuls will do. Well, that’s what I’m here for ladies and gentlemen, so let’s figure it out!
The big new piece of information here is that I’ve now seen and digested Angelina Jolie’s film Unbroken. Honestly, I’m skeptical that it’ll be a major player, which is why I now have it snubbed in the Best Picture category and not going home with a single win. I could be wrong, but I also think that Jolie will fall short in Best Director and Jack O’Connell won’t be able to break through in the Best Actor race. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good movie, because it is, but it doesn’t feel like something that can stand up to the major players in this race. As such, voters might leave it behind.
This leaves us mostly with a race that’s going to come down to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Ava DuVernay’s Selma in terms of Best Picture as well as Best Director. You can make the case that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a potential dark horse, but aside from that, it’s those three. You’ll see what I think will happen below, but get used to seeing those titles a lot, because those are the names that will compete for Oscar glory.
Anyway, it’s time to get down to business, right? Without further delay, here is how I see the Academy Award nominations going at this current juncture, with once again my next in line picks listed for completion/as a bonus. Behold:
BEST PICTURE
1. Boyhood
2. Selma
3. The Imitation Game
4. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Interstellar
6. Gone Girl
7. Whiplash
8. The Theory of Everything
9. Foxcatcher
10. A Most Violent Year
Next in line: 11. Unbroken 12. American Sniper 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. Rosewater 16. Wild 17. Mr. Turner 18. Inherent Vice 19. Nightcrawler […]

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 […]

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