January 02, 2015

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

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 […]

Documentaries at the Oscars: Short List

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 87th Oscars®. One hundred thirty-four films were originally submitted in the category.
The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
“Art and Craft,” Purple Parrot Films
“The Case against 8,” Day in Court
“Citizen Koch,” Elsewhere Films
“CitizenFour,” Praxis Films
“Finding Vivian Maier,” Ravine Pictures
“The Internet’s Own Boy,” Luminant Media
“Jodorowsky’s Dune,” City Film
“Keep On Keepin’ On,” Absolute Clay Productions
“The Kill Team,” f/8 filmworks
“Last Days in Vietnam,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“Life Itself,” Kartemquin Films and Film Rites
“The Overnighters,” Mile End Films West
“The Salt of the Earth,” Decia Films
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” Lafayette Film
“Virunga,” Grain Media
The Academy’s Documentary Branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles.
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.
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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

“Boyhood” takes Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle

It’s officially precursor season folks. As such, prepare to hear a lot about various critics groups chiming in with their picks for the best of 2014. This will go on until the major guilds more or less decide things early next year, but for now, it’s the critics stage of the precursors. As such, earlier today the New York Film Critics Circle (or NYFCC for short) announced their winners for the year, crowning Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the big victor of the afternoon. They also brought a few contenders back to life, like The Immigrant for example, but it was mostly a triumphant precursor for Boyhood.
Linklater’s film was the big winner for sure, one of only two titles (along with the aforementioned The Immigrant) to have multiple citations. Boyhood led the awards with three wins, showing up in Best Picture, Best Director for Linklater, and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. As such, the fuel to the “Boyhood is the Best Picture frontrunner” fire can burn even brighter, particularly since its main competition in Birdman, The Imitation Game, and Selma all were shut out by the NYFCC voters. Score one for Linklater and company, without a doubt. It’s too early to say if this is the beginning of a sweep, but this is the start that the film needed this awards season.
As I’ve hinted, the other title that did the best was James Gray’s The Immigrant, which picked up a Best Cinematography win for Darius Khondji as well as being half of Marion Cotillard’s Best Actress win (the other half belonging to Two Days, One Night). I don’t think this suddenly makes The Immigrant a serious player again, but it’s a hint that we might see it show up here and there this season. If nothing else, it does help boost Cotillard’s chances in Actress for her other performance.
Among the other major categories, NYFCC bestowed their Best Actor prize upon Timothy Spall for Mr. Tuner (which was a bit of a surprise considering the top tier competition he had), J.K. Simmons took Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash (which wasn’t a surprise at all, at least to me), and The Grand Budapest Hotel pulled off an upset Best Screenplay win. Presumed frontrunners Citizenfour, Ida, and The Lego Movie also won in Best Documentary (or in this case Best Nonfiction) Film, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Animated Film, respectively.
Here now […]

“Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell is on its way to Oscar gold – Hollywood Film Awards

“Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell is on its way to Oscar gold.
Today, both in New York and Los Angeles, there were screenings for the press and the Screen Actors Guild members.
Jack O’Connell was honored at the Hollywood Film Awards last November 14th with

Shailene Woodley: On her way to an Oscar?

Is Shailene Woodley on her way to be nominated for a Oscar?
As you know Shailene received the “Hollywood Breakout Performance Award” last November 14, at the Hollywood Film Awards, the TV show that launches the awards season.
To read more about 2014 Hollywood Film Awards Winners.

Shailene Woodley:
“For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s best young women. Without question, there are few better out there than Shailene Woodley, a rising star who literally only has the sky as her sole limit. She’s impressed pretty much from the very start, moving quickly up the industry food chain from a young supporting player to a franchise lead. During that time, she’s also managed to become a bit of a lifestyle icon and a genuine person who stands out in the crowd. All those things and more make her a real A-lister and one well worth this sort of tribute today.
Woodley got her start on television with various guest starring roles. Programs like Crosing Jordan, The District, Everybody Loves Raymond, Jack & Bobby, The O.C., Without a Trace, and others gave her a beginning, which of course any young actor or actress needs. Luckily for her, she’d only need a few years before landing a starring role on the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Besides raising her profile, it also caught the attention of filmmaker Alexander Payne. The rest, as they say, is history.
Her introduction to film came in Payne’s movie The Descendants, where she announced her presence with quite a bit of authority. Playing George Clooney’s troubled teenage daughter, Woodley immediately received awards attention, leading to speculation that she’d receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. While that didn’t come to pass (which was considered a mild surprise and a snub), she did get a Golden Globe nomination, cementing her as someone to watch out for. She was officially on her way to the A-list with just one theatrical credit to her name. That’s really something…” by Joey Madgison
to read more about Shailene Woodley – Spotlight on the Stars.

Golden Globe predictions for November

It’s Black Friday, so I know you’re all mostly concerned with taking advantage of various sales, but since it’s also the end of November, I wanted to bring some new Golden Globe predictions to you as well. We’ve been doing these for a while now, but this represents likelythe final one I’ll be doing before the actual nominations are announced in about two weeks on December 11th (unless I preview the announcement with a final set of predictions…we’ll see). As such, I’m hoping to really nail them this time around, and try to figure out how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association might go with their nods. The HFPA can go in some odd directions too, so these noms might even be a little more Oscar friendly than they wind up being. We’ll see though.
The biggest addition this time around is accounting for Selma in the race. I still had it shut out last time around, and while I don’t necessarily think it’s going to dominate the Globes, I do think a shut out isn’t going to happen. I also had to try to figure out what to do with Unbroken, which I don’t see until Monday. As such, I left it alone for the most part. If I do indeed do one last update to these predictions, it’ll be due at least in part to a need to account for the film, one way or another. Perhaps I’ll need to predict it for some wins? Perhaps I’ll need to drop it completely? Somewhere in between? I’ll find out at the beginning of next week and report in on the film itself, but if I do update Globe predictions, reflections on that movie will be involved for sure.
Here now though, without any further delay on my part (since as always we know that you’re really here just to see what I have below in each of the categories), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe nomination predictions to pour over. Behold:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Selma
3. Boyhood
4. Gone Girl
5. Unbroken
If there’s a sixth: Interstellar
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Whiplash
4. Begin Again
5. St. Vincent
If there’s a sixth: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
3. David Oyelowo – Selma
4. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
5. Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner
If […]

Eddie Redmayne – Theory of Everything – another movie to see this weekend

Another great movie to see this weekend is “The Theory of Everything,” starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.
Eddie Redmayne was the recipient of this year’s “Hollywood Breakout Performance Award” at the Hollywood Film Awards.

Below write-up about Eddie Redmayne and his chances at Oscar:
“Today, the theatrical release is beginning for The Theory of Everything, a biopic about noted physicist Stephen Hawking. The role of Hawking is played to perfection by surefire Academy Award nominee Eddie Redmayne, while the role of his loving and supportive wife Jane is portrayed by almost certain fellow Oscar nominee Felicity Jones. With the film now out in limited release, it can attempt to win over audiences in the same that it won over critics on the festival circuit. From there on, it’s a matter of seeing if the movie can appeal to Oscar voters. Personally, I think it’ll do just fine, but I certainly hope that Academy members really do consider Jones and especially Redmayne for wins as well.
The biopic is of course a look at the life of Hawking, beginning with his time at University and continuing up until close to the modern day. We see Hawking go from an awkward young man to a sick but still mobile student to someone confined to a wheelchair, all the way to the distinctive images we have of the man now. Along the way, we spend just as much time with Jane as with Stephen, seeing how she interacts with her mate and staying strong in the face of adversity. She’s very much the co-lead of this story, with equal screen time and just as much of a character arc. Obviously Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star, along with supporting players like Charlie Cox, Simon McBurney, Christian McKay, David Thewlis, and Emily Watson. James Marsh is in the director’s chair, while Anthony McCarten wrote the adaptation of the book by Jane Hawking.
Without question, the highlight here is Eddie Redmayne, with Felicity Jones not far behind. Redmayne is the cream of the acting crop in 2014 according to my tastes, blowing me away in a manner that I just did not expect. He’s going to deserve the Best Actor nomination coming his way…hell, he deserves the win, but that all remains to be seen. Similarly, Jones gives one of the best performances by an actress so far this year, so when she’s nominated for Best Actress and fights […]

Oscar Isaac – The biggest snubs from this week’s Spirit Award nominations

First of all, Happy Turkey Day to you all! With a Thanksgiving mention out of the way, let’s talk movies. Whenever there is a big precursor announcement that isn’t just a winners list, there’s going to be some glaring omissions. Such was the case with the 30th annual Independent Spirit Awards, which made some excellent picks but also some head scratchers as well. That’s always the name of the game, but this year there especially was some unexpected shut outs. As such, I’m going to be running down ten of the most egregious ones that I noticed. A few will be personal surprises, but the others will be ones that were clearly noticed by others. The Spirit Awards do a solid job, but like any other precursor, they’re far from perfect.
Here now are the ten biggest snubs from the Spirit Award nominations:
1. Oscar Isaac for A Most Violent Year – Voters apparently liked the film, but they didn’t like what I felt was the best part in Isaac’s performance. Strange, to say the least. Isaac is the lead and a huge reason why the movie works. His co-star Jessica Chastain was cited, but not him. For me, it was the biggest omission and one of the bigger head scratchers as well. It just makes no sense.

2. The Skeleton Twins – If ever there was an under the radar title in need of a Spirit boost, it’s this one. Not just the film itself, but even more so the lead performances of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, both of whom could have at least stayed in the Oscar conversation had they turned a nomination into a surprise win. That didn’t happen though, so this contender is now pretty much DOA.
3. Bill Murray in St. Vincent – I’m sure The Weinstein Company was hoping that Murray popped up here in order to further their Oscar hopes for him. Considering all of the frontrunners are first time nominees (if they even get nominated), had Murray gotten nominated here and won, that could have helped fuel a potential Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, which in turn would have made him a likely Oscar nominee. That narrative is gone now though, so it’s the Globes or bust for Murray.
4. The Imitation Game – Easily the most surprising shut out, TWC saw their first chink in the armor for this big time […]

“The Imitation Game” – the movie to see this weekend

Happy Thanksgiving!
“So ‘The Imitation Game’ is a wartime thriller and relationship film wrapped up in a character study of a brilliant scientist. Cumberbatch is thrilling to watch; you sense the joy he must get out of his acting especially when in such a juicy role,” says movie reviewer, Kirk Honeycutt
To read more about the “Hollywood Actor Award” winner, Benedict Cumberbatch. 2014 Hollywood Film Awards show – Nov 14, 2014

Also to read more about Keira Knightley

Spotlight on the Stars: Keira Knightley

For this week’s new spotlight piece, I wanted to cite an A-lister who doesn’t quite get the credit that she deserves. That lovely lady is none other than Keira Knightley, an Academy Award nominated actress mostly known for her period piece work but capable of far more than that. In fact, she proved that earlier this year, as I’ll mention below. Regardless, she’s very talented and someone still on the upswing of her career, so she made perfect sense as the latest honoree in this series. As such, the spotlight is now shining on her today.
Knightley got her start with some British television and a tiny part in the film Innocent Lies, but the first place you’d likely have seen her is in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, where she had a small but noticeable part. There was a bit more TV and such still to come, but Knightley became a name people began talking about when she co-starred in Bend it Like Beckham. That part really launched her career, leading to slightly bigger roles and soon, a huge part in a top tier blockbuster.
She became something of an A-lister early on when she was in the smash hit epic Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Around the same time, she also charmed audiences as part of the ensemble of the now classic romantic comedy Love Actually. There was also a turn in the indie thriller The Jacket and the large scale misfire that was King Arthur, but the combination of a huge swashbuckling action adventure and the rom com to end all rom coms really made her a star. Knightley was officially a big name, which would lead to her getting a part she could really sink her teeth into. When that came along, she got into period costumes again (something she’d do from time to time in her career) and knocked the role out of the park.
Knightley would receive the biggest praise of her career to date (along with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress) with the adaptation of Pride & Prejudice that she starred in. To some the definitive version of this timeless tale, mainly due to the work that Knightley turns in. She’s terrific here, giving what many consider to be the crowning achievement of her career so far. At the very least, voters considered her worthy of the […]

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