September 17, 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: Entertainment/Culture

Sandra Bullock looks like a contender in the Trailer for “Our Brand is Crisis”

Yesterday, a Trailer dropped for Our Brand is Crisis, the political drama/satire hybrid that I’ve been predicting for Oscar attention all year. With it, we got our first real look at a film that could certainly liven up the impending awards season. David Gordon Green’s movie is getting a premiere shortly at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, and assuming reviews are strong, this will quickly become more than just a Sandra Bullock vehicle, but a legitimate Academy Award contender as well. We’ll know soon enough, but this very solid Trailer is a hint that this is something to be excited about, especially if you’re looking for another contender to enter the race.
Here’s a quick refresher on the movie. Basically, it’s based on the documentary of the same name (Our Brand Is Crisis, of course), which focused on the use of American political campaign strategies in South American elections. Specifically, it was a Bolivian politician named Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada hiring James Carville’s political consulting firm to help him win the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Carville works to use American political campaign strategies, leading to a different outcome than might otherwise have been. For the film, Bullock will play ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, basically a stand in for Carville, I believe, though Billy Bob Thornton as a rival consultant with a bald head makes me wonder if he’s actually the Carville stand in. Regardless, aside from Bullock and Thornton, also in the cast are Ann Dowd, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie, Scoot McNairy, and more. Green directs, as mentioned before, with the script penned by Peter Straughan. The potential for something special is certainly there, it seems.
I’d always considered this a player more so than most, and the Trailer that you’ll be seeing below seems to indicate that I might be on to something. Not only does it look to showcase Bullock in a great leading role, it appears to be Green’s largest scale filmmaking to date. It’s easy to look at Our Brand is Crisis and think that it’s a cousin to Ben Affleck’s Argo, which also was produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. I’m sure all involved here would be thrilled if this one came even close to what that one did, but there’s certainly a chance.
If there’s one thing the Trailer for this movie really showed us, it’s that we’ve got a showcase for Bullock’s talents on our hands. […]

Telluride and Venice launch festival debuts into the Oscar race

We always knew that the beginning of the fall festival season would launch a number of titles into the early Oscar race, but perhaps not to this level so far. Yes, over at the Telluride Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, almost all of the high profile debuts have been fondly received, giving them momentum going into the awards season. We still have the New York Film Festival later this month to add more potential contenders, but already Telluride and Venice have been a near embarrassment of riches. Even just a quick glance at the early response could make this a crowded precursor season once again.

We’ll start with Venice, which begun first and had the high profile premiere of Everest to kick things off. That disaster epic debuted to mostly solid reviews, though outside of the technical fields I have my doubts that this will contend heavily. Time will tell, but it could techs or bust for Baltasar Kormákur’s movie, which stars an ensemble that includes Jake Gyllenhaal. There was also the bow for Beasts of No Nation, which was incredibly well received, with tons of good work for filmmaker Cary Fukunaga as well as for actors Idris Elba and first timer Abraham Attah. The question here will be distributor Netflix can run a strong awards campaign or not. They’ve had mixed success with their television contenders at the Emmys, so their first film shot could be a tough go. It certainly bears watching though, as the quality is apparently very much there.

The big three over in Italy that have generated the most buzz though seems to be the trio of Black Mass, The Danish Girl, and Spotlight. Each seems to be a player, to one degree or another. Black Mass has gotten mostly solid initial reviews, though most of the time it’s been in praise of Johnny Depp’s performance more than anything else. Depp will be a force to be reckoned with in Best Actor, though the film and perhaps a supporting performance or two (Joel Edgerton, for one) could come along for the ride. Scott Cooper’s flick might not be in a prime spot for Best Picture, but it’s definitely going to hang around. The same can be said of The Danish Girl, which is Tom Hooper’s latest Academy player. Pundits have raved about the performances of Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, so this could potentially be […]

David O. Russell and Ridley Scott: Which filmmaking contenders this year are most due for their first win?

Much like I said last week, of the many storylines that begin during awards season, few are usually as compelling as the ones centered around who’s most due for an Academy Award. I think that it’s usually pretty satisfying to see a former bridesmaid finally become a bride, as it were. As such, below I’ve made up a list of ten filmmakers who’ve previously been nominated for Oscars but have yet to win one who are in contention this year, after doing the same for actors and actresses previously. I’ve more or less ranked them by how due they are, and just to be fair, I’ve excluded anyone who has already won a prize elsewhere, or any of the myriad contenders who are seeking their first ever nomination by the Academy. Take a look at the writers/directors below and I hope you all enjoy!
Here now are the ten writers and/or directors most due for their first Oscar win:
10. Guillermo del Toro – A bit of a long shot to be sure, but del Toro in some ways is a filmmaker that folks are waiting to deliver an Oscar player once again. He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay when Pan’s Labyrinth came out and now will hope to compete in that category (or even Best Director) for Crimson Peak. I wouldn’t bet on it, but he’s still due to lift up a statue one day, perhaps in Best Foreign Language Feature. It just likely won’t be this year…
9. Billy Ray – Very much under the radar, Ray is one of the industry’s go to screenwriters for prestige fare, and he’s developing into a solid director as well. Nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for Captain Phillips two years ago, we have Ray in the race this year for both Adapted Screenplay as well as Best Director for the remake of The Secret in Their Eyes. It’s an awards season X factor, but even if it doesn’t happen this time around, his writing will likely get him in before too long.
8. Stephen Frears – Frears is the sort of steady hand that doesn’t always win, but at the same time you would never be surprised to see him rewarded by a group such as the Academy. A two time Best Director nominee (for The Grifters as well as The Queen), he’ll potentially be in play for Director again with The Program, should […]

Telluride Announces 2015 Lineup – Steve Jobs, Black Mass, Suffragette

The Telluride Film Festival has announced the 2015 lineup, which runs September 4 – 7.
In addition, Rooney Mara, who stars opposite Cate Blanchett in the Cannes-acclaimed “Carol,” will receive a tribute.
The full lineup of the 42nd Telluride Film Festival is listed below.
“Retour de Flame” (Cby Serge Bromberg)
“Steve Jobs” (Directed by Danny Boyle)
“Ixcanul” (Directed by Jayro Bustamante)
“Bitter Lake” (Directed by Adam Curtis)
“Black Mass” (Directed by Scott Cooper)
“Beasts of No Nation” (Directed by Cary Fukunaga)
“Room” (Directed by Lenny Abrahamsson)
“Spotlight” (Directed by Tom McCarthy)
“Suffragette” (Directed by Sara Gavron)
“Rams” (Directed by Grimur Hakonarson)

The Best of the first three quarters of 2015

Believe it or not, but today is actually the last day of August, which means tomorrow stars September and the final quarter of the year. With this changing of the calendar, I wanted to again give you a bit of a look inside my mind. In short, this will be a quick little look at what I’ve enjoyed most over the first eight months of the year, as opposed to some of my slightly longer outings of this ilk. 2015 has been an interesting cinematic year for sure, so there’s no shortage of films worth praising. I’m keeping it simple this time and not being repetitive with commentary, but this does give you a look at what my favorites of the year so far look like before awards season truly gets underway. That’s something, right?
So far this year, I’ve seen 206 films, including a few that I can’t talk about yet (one is a big Oscar hopeful that I’m just under embargo for), so it’s been a busy 2015 so far. That being said, I’m limiting this to only things that have had a release date before September 1st. As such, that keeps a few great flicks off the list, like Sleeping with Other People and Time Out of Mind, of the titles I can speak freely about. Those will get their due soon enough, but right now they have to be on the outside looking in. The former of those two is sitting very pretty for a spot on my year end Top Ten list right now, so there’s that.
What’s interesting to me, before I reveal the updated list, is that of the over 200 movies I’ve seen, very few are actually going to seriously contend for Academy Award nominations. Excluding what I’m embargoed from discussing, only The End of the Tour, Grandma, Inside Out, Love & Mercy, Mad Max: Fury Road, and maybe Trainwreck will potentially show up anywhere even just on the precursor circuit. Awards season is going to be dominated by late year releases in 2015, that much seems certain. I’m not sure what that says about the year in film, at least right now, but it’s worth making a note of.
Below you’ll see my top ten films of the first three quarters of the year so far, along with my awards. Stay tuned for a longer piece at the end of the year, since there’s […]

“Carol”: Looking at potential Best Adapted Screenplay Hollywood Contender

Hollywood Contenders: As you lovely ladies and gentlemen all must know by now, it’s one thing entirely to read early Academy Award predictions in order to see what pundits like myself think will happen this winter, but it’s a whole separate thing to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that specific regard, I’m continuing to run 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 or 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 potentially take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.
Today I’m continuing on with the series but moving on from the acting categories and hitting the writing ones…starting off with Best Adapted Screenplay.
Here are the ten particular films/scripts that I have in play for Best Adapted Screenplay, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. The Martian – Considering how well I have this film doing in my predictions, it kind of has to be the top dog here, right? Drew Goddard penned this adaptation and is a very underrated writer (he also was the original director for this one), so even if I’m possibly putting this one too high up in predictions, it still deserves a spot in a top five. It’s my frontrunner for now though, until proven otherwise. A make or break debut at the Toronto Film Festival is on the horizon for Goddard and the film on the whole…
2. Carol – Perhaps the safer bet for the category is this one right here. Phyllis Nagy adapted this one and pretty much everyone who saw it at the Cannes Film Festival raved about every aspect of the film. I’d be pretty surprised if this script didn’t wind up being one of the nominated five. It could even be the most likely one to take home the statue, but that remains to be seen. Suffice to say though that Nagy is very much in it.
3. Brooklyn – Another safe bet in the category is Nick Hornby’s adaptation here. He’s a prior nominee in Best Adapted […]

Eddie Redmayne: The Danish Girl / Official US Poster

Hollywood Contenders: We’re excited to share the official U.S. theatrical release poster for Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper’s THE DANISH GIRL. Inspired by the lives of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, the new movie starring Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, November 27th, and in additional cities in December 2015.

World-premiering at the Venice International Film Festival and screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. The remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (portrayed by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne [“The Theory of Everything”] and Alicia Vikander [“Ex Machina”]), directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech,” “Les Misérables”). Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: Lucinda Coxon, based on the book The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
Producers: Gail Mutrux, Anne Harrison, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Tom Hooper
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Sebastian Koch, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Genre: Drama
Distributor: Focus Features

Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep: SUFFRAGETTE New Poster

On August 26th, 1920 the United States government accorded women the right to vote. Each year, the President of the United States designates August 26th as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate this landmark decision.
Focus Features moving and powerful SUFFRAGETTE shines a light on women who risked everything for the right to vote, in early-20th century Britain. The cast includes Academy Award nominees Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter and three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. The female filmmaking team includes producers Alison Owen (an Academy Award nominee) and Faye Ward (a Golden Globe Award nominee), Emmy Award-winning writer Abi Morgan, and BAFTA Award-winning director Sarah Gavron.

In celebration of the 95th anniversary of the historic moment for equal rights, the official U.S. theatrical release poster for SUFFRAGETTE is being debuted. Download the poster here:

This video from Focus commemorates Women?s Equality Day and the impact of Emmeline Pankhurst (played by Meryl Streep in the film):

Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowland to Receive Academy’s 2015 Governors Awards

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Tuesday night (August 25) to present Honorary Awards to Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Debbie Reynolds. All three awards will be presented at the Academy’s 7th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 14, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.
“The Board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions at this year’s Governors Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”
Lee, a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers, made an auspicious debut with his NYU thesis film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads,” which won a Student Academy Award® in 1983. He proceeded to blaze a distinctive trail with such features as “She’s Gotta Have It,” “School Daze” and “Do the Right Thing,” which earned him a 1989 Oscar® nomination for Original Screenplay. His work as a director ranges from the Oscar-nominated documentary feature “4 Little Girls” to such mainstream successes as “Malcolm X” and “Inside Man.” Lee’s other feature credits include “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Crooklyn,” “He Got Game,” “25th Hour,” “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Red Hook Summer.” He currently serves as the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU.
Rowlands, an original talent whose devotion to her craft has earned her worldwide recognition as an independent film icon, received Academy Award nominations for her lead performances in “A Woman under the Influence” (1974) and “Gloria” (1980), both directed by her husband and frequent collaborator, John Cassavetes. She got her start on the New York stage and in live television in the 1950s and has appeared in 40 feature films to date, from “The High Cost of Loving” in 1958 to “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks,” which she starred in earlier this year. Her other notable films include “Lonely Are the Brave,” “Faces,” “Minnie and Moskowitz,” “Opening Night,” “Another Woman,” “Unhook the Stars,” “Hope Floats,” “Playing by Heart,” “The Notebook” and “Broken English.”
Reynolds, a Hollywood icon since she won hearts with her buoyant performance in “Singin’ in the Rain,” embarked on the role of a lifetime as […]

Johnny Depp, Leo DiCaprio – Which acting contenders this year are most due for their first win?

Of the many storylines that begin during awards season, few are usually as compelling as the ones centered around who’s most due for an Academy Award. I think that it’s usually pretty satisfying to see a former bridesmaid finally become a bride, as it were. As such, below I’ve made up a list of ten actors or actresses who’ve previously been nominated for Oscars but have yet to win one who are in contention this year. I’ve more or less ranked them by how due they are, and just to be fair, I’ve excluded anyone who has already won a prize elsewhere (sorry Matt Damon, for example), or any of the myriad contenders who are seeking their first ever nomination by the Academy. Take a look below and I hope you enjoy!
Here now are the ten actors and actresses most due for their first Oscar win:
10. Bradley Cooper – With three acting nominations already under his belt, Cooper has now officially gotten the “due” label. A previous Best Actor nominee for American Sniper and Silver Linings Playbook, as well as a Best Supporting Actor nominee for American Hustle, he has two opportunities for a win this year. He’ll be in the Actor hunt with Burnt and the Supporting Actor hunt with Joy. It may not happen this year for Cooper, but it will eventually, you can count on that.

9. Carey Mulligan – I’m sure it surprises a lot of people that Mulligan only has one nomination, which was in Best Actress for An Education. She just missed in Supporting Actress when her strong work in both Drive and Shame essentially canceled each other out. This year she’ll hope that her performances in Far From the Maddening Crowd and Suffragette don’t do the same to her. Regardless, despite the solo citation previously, she’s due to take home the gold one day.
8. Will Smith – Here’s a case of someone who can not only remind the Academy of his existence, but cement his status as one of the all time great A-listers with a win. Previously nominated in Best Actor for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, that elusive victory has escaped him so far. This year he has Concussion, which is a pretty baity premise. Taking the Actor prize would certainly put him up there as one of our best movie stars ever, but either way…he’s due.
7. Jessica Chastain – Few […]

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