August 31, 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: Entertainment/Culture

“Birdman”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written by: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Armando Bo, and Alexander Dinelaris
Main Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, and more…
Past Oscar relations: Iñárritu was nominated for directing and co-producing Babel, Norton has been nominated twice (Best Supporting Actor for Primal Fear and Best Actor for American History X), Ryan has been nominated once (Best Supporting Actress for Gone Baby Bone), and Watts has been nominated twice (Best Actress for 21 Grams and The Impossible)
Today we have another article in this particular series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for here for us is a festival favorite in Birdman that’s looking to take its sensational festival screenings and use that buzz in order to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it in the face of myriad competition? Let us discuss that possibility a little bit now below…
This dramedy is a real change of pace for the normally super serious Iñárritu. It surrounds an actor who used to play a superhero and is trying to stage a comeback through a broadway production of a Raymond Carver story. Michael Keaton stars as the actor, with the supporting cast including Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, Damian Young, and others. All of whom are fantastic from top to bottom, with special praise so far being given to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and his work. Now, it hopes to become an Oscar nominee.
What this film has going in its favor is how technically proficient and well acted it is. It’s also perhaps the most overtly funny Academy Award contender of the year, which never hurts either. Keaton, Norton, and Stone are almost surefire acting nominees (Best Actor for Keaton, Best Supporting Actor for Norton, and Best Supporting Actress for Stone), while Iñárritu is locked into Best Director and likely Best Original Screenplay as well. Lubezki could very well win Best Cinematography and Antonio Sanchez is likewise in play for Best Original Score. Across the board, Birdman is looking like a really heavy player. A winner? Well, that could be a harder sell, but a nominee seems like a pretty sure thing in a number of categories.
Working against Birdman is that it’s not exactly a traditionally […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Brad Pitt

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s absolute bigger stars. He’s about as A-list as the A-list gets…the name? Well, Brad Pitt of course. Not only is he a movie star with all capital letters (MOVIE STAR!) and a top tier celebrity, he’s also developed into one of the industry’s best and most interesting actors as well. Pitt is the type of star that doesn’t rest on his laurels and often seems to attach himself to challenging material, something that will win the man an acting Oscar one day (he already won his first one last year for helping to produce Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave). As high as he’s soared already, the best could still be to come.
Pitt got his noticeable start in the business (after some uncredited acting jobs on the big screen and small spots on TV shows like 21 Jump Street, Another World, Dallas, and Growing Pains) with a supporting role in Thelma & Louise. The next year or so brought roles in films like Johnny Suede, Kalifornia, A River Runs Through It, and True Romance, but it was Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles that really began his ascent to the A-list. He certainly didn’t hurt his cause with work like Legends of the Fall, Se7en, and Twelve Monkeys (which got him his first Academy Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor). Factor in other work like The Devil’s Own, Meet Joe Black, Seven Years in Tibet, and Sleepers…well, the end result is that the man was a star.
Pitt has really become an A-lister with work like Fight Club. Ocean’s Eleven, Snatch, and Spy Game. That elevated him and allowed him to become a megastar in things such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Ocean’s Twelve, and Troy. He also made Babel, which helped signal that he’d be interested in helping auteurs tell stories as well. Sure, he cultivated celebrity status with Ocean’s Thirteen, but in the same breath he’d make The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Burn After Reading as well. The young A-list movie star Pitt was now officially one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. Since then, he’s continued to lend his talents to interesting work, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds, Killing Them Softly, Moneyball, and The Tree of Life, just to name […]

“Fury” announces itself as a potentially big time Oscar contender

Earlier on today, the embargo lifted on David Ayer’s new film, the World War II tank tale Fury. While some critics weren’t blown away by the movie, plenty of others were like myself and very fond of the flick. In fact, for the most part, Ayer’s film, which stars Brad Pitt as a tank commander in the final days of the second World War, has established itself as an awards contender. After all, Oscar loves WWII and killing Nazis, something this movie has in spades. One might be tempted to take the lack of unanimous praise as a warning sign, but I think the combination of prestige, likely box office, and subject matter will make this something a voter heavily considers.
For those who don’t know anything about Fury, it’s a World War II set action-drama that depicts a 24 hour period during the final days of the war. Set deep in Germany, a tank commander played by Pitt takes part in the last of the fighting. Along with his remaining regular crew, played by Jon Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, and Michael Pena, plus his newest addition played by Logan Lerman, their tank (aptly named Fury) moves forward, taking out whatever Nazis they can find. Of course, despite victory being imminent, that’s easier said than done. Ayer writes and directs, showing off much of the same skill that made End of Watch an underrated classic in my eyes.
There’s a solid cast on display in this film, with memorable performances from Lerman and Pitt, in addition to the best turn from LaBeouf in some time. While the Best Actor race is far too crowded for Pitt to have any hope of a nod, a Best Supporting Actor nom for Lerman certainly isn’t out of the question. The cast play their parts as closely to those from classic war films as possible, while also attempting to bring something new to the roles. For the most part, they succeed too.
One of the best elements of Fury is the technical prowess that it shows off. From the costumes and production design to the cinematography to the film editing (done by End of Watch alum Roman Vasyanov), not to mention the score (from last year’s category winner Steven Price), sound effects, and visual effects, it’s all top notch. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if the movie managed to score a handful of nominations in those fields, […]

“Whiplash”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Written by: Damien Chazelle
Main Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, and more…
Past Oscar relations: None (yet)
Today we have another article in this particular series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is a small yet potentially major player in Whiplash, which hopes to be the latest Sundance sensation to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it after high profile subsequent showings at the Cannes Film Festival and New York Film Festival? Let us discuss that possibility a little bit now below…
This character/drama is an expansion of the short film by writer/director Damien Chazelle, who pulls the same double duty here with the feature. The cast is comprised of J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller in the main roles, though Paul Reiser has a supporting part alongside the likes of Melissa Benoist, Chris Mulkey, and others. The story surrounds a talent musical student at the best conservatory in the country and his dealings with a brutal jazz band instructor. Teller is the student while Simmons is the instructor, and their interactions will likely remind you of Full Metal Jacket to some degree.
What this film has going in its favor is tremendous work all around by its cast and crew. From the performances of Simmons and Teller to Chazelle’s filmmaking, everything is on an insanely high level here. The flick is nearly perfect, with Teller portraying dedication/obsession in such a compelling way, while Simmons gives you a monster you come to really understand (or do you?) by the end of the movie. Chazelle’s writing supports his phenomenal directing, all of which is worthy of consideration. Simmons is all but a lock for Best Supporting Actor, while Teller finds himself somewhere among the glut of Best Actor contenders. If Academy members take to this like everyone else has so far, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay could certainly be in play as well (the former really only possible if the latter becomes a reality though). Best Director is a long shot, but stranger things have happened.
Working against Whiplash is that this is one of the smallest Oscar contenders this year, which can sometimes wind up getting the film lost in the shuffle. Many a worthy movie has ultimately ended up with few nominations […]

Bill Murray could upend the Best Actor race with “St. Vincent”

The already overcrowded Best Actor race is about to get even tighter folks. Last night I attended the premiere of St. Vincent and got to see Bill Murray’s performance, which is awards worthy, let me tell you. Murray combines his comedy and drama skills in such a way that I think Academy members might find it hard to resist him. As I’ve said for months now, the Best Actor race is going to be a bloodbath, something that’s only more true now that contenders are screening and performances are showing that they are indeed worthy of consideration. The latest here is Murray’s in St. Vincent, one that could ultimately wind up going a lot further than some think.
For those of you who don’t know, the movie is a comedy/dramedy about a curmudgeonly older man (played by Murray) in Brooklyn who winds up babysitting his frazzled neighbor’s son. He gives him the sort of real world/bad advice you’re used to in things like this, but then the second half of the film goes in a very different direction and winds up tugging at your heartstrings in a big way. Murray obviously stars, with Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts, and Jaeden Lieberher in the other main roles. Theodore Melfi writes and directs.
This is a pretty good film, but it’s Murray who elevates things, along with the cast on the whole. While McCarthy and Watts are strong in roles that are reversed from what they normally do, Murray gets to combine all of his skills to give what I think is one of his top five performances to date. At times he’s channeling his early comedic persona while at other moments he’s playing it completely straight. I won’t spoil things by saying some of the situations where he’s forced to really go dramatic, but he absolutely nails them.
What will help St. Vincent out is of course the fact that Harvey Weinstein is behind it. He knows how to make this sort of push happen, which is only helped by the fact that Murray is out and about promoting it. He’s done Q and A’s, gone to parties, etc…all of which helps to endear him to Academy members. As we all know, voters like to be courted, so if Murray is willing to play the game, that could give him a leg up on some of his competition.
On the flip side, Weinstein […]

Joey Berlin’s Goldmine – Critics Choice Awards

Joey Berlin, who co-founded the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. in 1995 and continues to oversee its day-to-day operations and its televised Critics’ Choice Movie Awards each year, likes to say that his membership seems to be satisfied with the job he’s doing because he’s been repeatedly re-elected every two years as its president.
To read article about CRACKPOT OF THE MONTH – DAVID POLAND – BFCA
The nonprofit group’s latest tax filings show that Berlin also is handsomely paid for his work. The BFCA’s latest IRS Form 990 tax filing shows that Berlin Entertainment, Inc., a company 100 percent owned by Berlin, received $859,077 for production services in 2012, a jump from $376,270 listed on tax forms the previous year.
To read article about CRACKPOT OF THE MONTH – DAVID POLAND – BFCA

Between 2009 and 2012, Berlin Entertainment was paid a total of $1,851,347, according to federal tax documents filed by the nonprofit.
Meanwhile, Berlin’s base compensation and benefits totaled $478,350 in 2012, according to the IRS filing. That compares with $455,230 the previous year.
TO CHECK TAX RETURNS FOR BFCA
The BFCA touts itself as the largest film critics organization in the U.S. and Canada, representing more than 280 television, radio and online critics.
To read prior story about Joey Berlin’s Goldmine and Critics Choice Awards.
To read about CRACKPOT OF THE MONTH – DAVID POLAND – BFCA
The boom in Oscar media coverage has propelled nonprofits like the BFCA into prominence in the run-up to the Academy Awards. Other shows like the Golden Globe Awards, the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Santa Barbara Film Festival actively court potential Oscar nominees and the studios and independent distributors gladly lend their help in supplying stars for their glitzy events hoping to generate Oscar buzz.
In recent years, the Critics’ Choice Awards has attracted numerous stars to its red carpet gala, including George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo di Caprio, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep. They mix and mingle and dine along with broadcast critics from around North America.
In 2012, the year covered by the tax returns, the Critics’ Choice Awards were held at the Hollywood Palladium and broadcast by VH1. The winners that year were “The Artist” for best picture, George Clooney for best actor in “The Descendants” and Viola Davis for best actress in “The Help.” Michel Hazanavicius won best director for “The Artist.”
This year’s Critics’ Choice Awards was broadcast live on the CW Network from […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Actress

As I’ve been mentioning over the last few weeks or so, with the festival season well underway and just about all of the major contenders for the Academy Awards having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to move forward and take a look at the big eight categories to see what’s what in an updated/more expanded fashion. I did this with the major categories a couple of months back, but that was when almost everything was still speculation. We have some facts to go on now, so while much of this is still just an educated guess, I’m not completely relying on overt hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film/director/performer in question, of course. Today I’m turning my attention once again to the Best Actress field, which is another category that won’t necessarily match up with Best Picture in any major way, but likely won’t be too far off either. Read on to see what I mean for this one…
One special note about Best Actress this year is that, on the flip side to best Actor, it’s a fairly barren race. Each of the ten women that I have cited as the ones with the best chance at a nomination have some chance at a nod, but only a few of them can realistically win. It’s going to be interesting to see if any surprise noms wind up shaking up this category when all is said and done…
Here are the ten ladies that I have in play for Best Actress currently, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point and time:
1. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) – If you ask a dozen pundits who the frontrunner is in Best Actress, you’ll probably get one of about five answers (hint, my top five), but if you ask me, I think this could turn into a walk for Jones. It’s just a hunch, but Oscar loves their supportive wives, something this performance apparently does incredibly well. Jones in the sweet spot of the age the Academy enjoys honoring, so that doesn’t hurt too. We have a long way to go before anyone in this category starts to separate themselves from the pack, but at this juncture, I’m backing Jones ever so slightly.
2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) – Now that folks are able to see […]

‘Inherent Vice’ looks to shake up the Oscar race

One of the bigger X factors still to be unveiled this awards season is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. With a Trailer that just dropped last night (I’ll post it at the bottom of this piece) and a World Premiere this weekend at the New York Film Festival (where I will be in attendance), now seems like the perfect time to discuss how it might fare with Oscar. Frankly, this is one of the hardest contenders to figure out, so things are really up in the air for it. It could either become a major player that stands out from the crowd or it could wind up little more than a critical darling that the Academy doesn’t take a shine to. The odds are about even right now.
For those of you who aren’t aware what this is, Anderson adapted the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, a comedic mystery tale set within the Los Angeles drug culture of the early 1970’s. Joaquin Phoenix stars as private investigator searching for his ex-girlfriend and being harassed at basically every turn by a police detective. Phoenix is the lead, while newcomer Katherine Waterston plays the ex and Josh Brolin is the cop. Other cast members include Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Michael K. Williams, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon, making for a pretty strong ensemble.
Awards wise, this has the potential to show up everywhere. Obviously, the majors like Best Picture, Best Director (for Anderson), Best Actor (for Phoenix), Best Supporting Actor (likely for Brolin, but maybe Wilson as well), Best Supporting Actress (for Malone, Waterston, and/or Witherspoon), and Best Adapted Screenplay (also for PTA) are on the table, while technical categories like Best Cinematography (it’s shot by Robert Elswit, who won an Oscar working with the filmmaker on There Will Be Blood), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, and Best Original Score (if Johnny Greenwood isn’t ruled ineligible again this year) are certainly in play. This is the sort of film where a double digit nomination total could be had if everything breaks right.
On the flip side though, the movie has been described as being similar to The Big Lebowski in a way, which likely won’t endear it to the Academy. Others have called it a classy stoner comedy, another destination that won’t attract voters automatically. I’m not sure that anyone has […]

The first Fall stab at Golden Globe predictions

It’s that time again…time to take a stab at Golden Globe predictions. As I previously mentioned in my last installment, I was originally planning on waiting to take a new look at Golden Globe predictions until the summer was over (so basically now), but I just couldn’t resist. Fast forward to today and I’m back now with what’s my fourth look at the Golden Globe Awards, with this time around, another new theory to try and drum up some different/more accurate predictions. Anyway, here goes nothing!
To reiterate one more time, the biggest difference that you’ll see here between the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is that they tend to go for the bigger names or the bigger productions, as well as more European fare. So yes, films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher are here, but they’re now joined by things like James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything and Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, potentially at the expense of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. You also still potentially lose certain indie players here, as you’ll see evidenced by much smaller nomination totals (or even shutouts) for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, just as one example, though others could be movies like J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year. On the flip side though, the inclusion of comedies and musicals allows longer shot work like John Carney’s Begin Again, Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods, and maybe even Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight or Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here to have a shot at not just contention for nods, but actual noms, as well as wins. Nominations that would have been wishful thinking with the Academy and AMPAS are very much in play with the categories that the HFPA deals in. That’s just the nature of the beast here folks.
Here now though, without any further delays on my part (since we all know that you’re really here just to see what I have below), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe predictions:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Gone Girl
3. Foxcatcher
4. The Theory of Everything
5. Unbroken
If there’s a sixth: Mr. Turner
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Inherent Vice
4. St. Vincent
5. Begin Again
If there’s a sixth: Neighbors
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne – The […]

“The Boxtrolls”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Written by: Irena Brignull and Adam Pava
Main Cast: Voices of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, and more…
Past Oscar relations: The studio has previously seen Coraline, Corpse Bride, and ParaNorman nominated for Best Animated Feature
Today we have another article in this ongoing series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is the stop motion animated adventure The Boxtrolls, which hopes to be the latest bit of animation to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it in a year without Pixar? Let’s discuss that possibility a little bit below now…
This animated film is an adaptation of the novel “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow and is directed by the duo of Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi. The screenplay is by Irena Brignull and Adam Pava, while the voice cast includes the likes of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Richard Ayoade, and others. In a relatively open year for another Best Animated Feature contender, The Boxtrolls certainly stands out by being a stop motion player and also just by being unlike anything else in release this year.
What this flick has going in its favor is how fun and unique it is. It’s unusual and captivating for audiences of all ages. That counts for something, especially when it comes to the Animated field. As long as it’s not mindless chaos, voters can be easily swayed by liveliness. This is also just a very clever movie, so while it won’t really be in play for Best Adapted Screenplay, I would be surprised if it wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature, and possibly even Best Original Song (Eric Idle contributes a very catchy tune for the end credits). Wins are another story, but the Animated nod at least is looking good.
Working against The Boxtrolls is that, frankly…it’s very weird. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it could complicate any noms turning into wins. Especially considering how The LEGO Movie was able to be pretty out there but still gain a massive audience, it’s possible that there could only be room for one odd feature to really contend for the Oscar. A more mainstream entry like […]

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