January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

Zach Braff is back and hopefully here to stay

Today marks the release of actor/filmmaker Zach Braff’s second directorial outing in Wish I Was Here, and it’s only his second film in a decade, after making his writing and directing debut with Garden State. During the past decade, he hasn’t even done too much in the way of movies, even after he left his hit television show Scrubs. Still, he’s got a new flick in theaters and I’m thrilled to have him back. Oddly enough though, a few articles this week have sort of bemoaned his return, so I wanted to counteract that negativity with some positivity, since I’m quite fond of his talents and hope he’s here to stay now. So, once again, I’m providing the optimist’s counterpoint.
Braff spent the past ten years trying to get different projects off the ground, but they just never came to pass. First up was a remake of the Danish drama Open Hearts, which would have starred Sean Penn with Braff in a supporting role. There also was the kids fantasy movie Andrew Henry’s Meadow which he wrote with his brother (a different one from the brother who co-wrote Wish I Was Here with him), plus the romantic comedy Swingles, which Braff came on to re-write and direct as well as star in at one point. Open Hearts especially is one I hope he comes back to, and who knows, he just might now, especially since he’s spoken openly about still wanting to make it. My fingers are crossed…toes too.
During that time he did take some acting jobs, including the incredibly underrated The Last Kiss (which was oddly marketed as almost a follow up to Garden State and might have had some uncredited rewrites done by Braff). There was also The Ex, Chicken Little, Tar, and The High Cost of Living, plus Oz: The Great and Powerful. None of those are much to write home about aside from The Last Kiss and The High Cost of Living (though I have to say that I haven’t seen Tar), but it has always seemed to me like Braff was concentrating more on preparing to step behind the camera again, so now that he’s done so, I’m intrigued with where he might go next as an actor.
Now, he’s got Wish I Was Here, a Kickstarter backed Sundance dramedy that I think is among the best movies of the year so far. The film isn’t getting […]

“Foxcatcher” : 2015 Best Original Screenplay contenders

Today I’m continuing on down the line of the big eight categories and finishing them off with another writing one…Best Original Screenplay.
Here are the ten particular films/scripts that I have in play for Best Original Screenplay, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. Foxcatcher – I think it’s impossible not to consider E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman’s script the one to beat right now. I know everyone seems to have a different frontrunner in this category, and it’s still early, but despite the top five all being potential winners, Bennett Miller’s film is the only one that seems like a lock to still be on a voter’s mind come nomination morning. That puts it in the number one spot for me today. Much can and will change, but I’m playing it safe currently.
2. Boyhood – Richard Linklater’s new opus is likely to put him in play for a Best Director nod, but some are saying that he’s likely to not just get a nom in Best Original Screenplay, but a win too. I can’t quite go that far right now, but he seems to be in a great position to contend, so that’s certainly something. This will likely be a critical favorite, so the groundswell will be there. I’ll be curious to see how things turn out for the flick. I’m a bit more bullish on it today than I was last week or last month, but it’s still got a long way to go.
3. Mr. Turner – It’s almost a sure thing that a new Mike Leigh movie gets an Original Screenplay nomination. This year, reviews out of the Cannes Film Festival suggest that won’t change, though I don’t quite buy the talk that he could win, at least right now. Leigh is a safe bet to crack the lineup, though anything other than that will depend on if the film gets into the Best Picture lineup and/or Timothy Spall becomes a Best Actor frontrunner.
4. Birdman – Another contender that I think is highly likely to get nominated but seems like an odd one to predict a win for, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film, which he cowrote with Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, and Nicolás Giacobone, could be too odd for the Academy’s tastes. They’ve been going on small limbs of late, and that benefits them in terms of a nod, but translating that nom to […]

Diane Keaton: The Top 25 (Best Actress)

It’s almost over folks. Yes, this penultimate time around I’ll be tackling one of the very biggest of the big eight categories, one of the only two left. This one is arguably the second or third biggest of them all…it’s the Best Actress field. This is really about as prestigious a category as there is ladies and gentlemen, give or take how you stack Picture/Director/Actor. I could go on and on in preparation right now, waxing poetic, but at this point I know how the game works here for everyone. You all mostly just want to see the lists that I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good people there in that particular regard once again. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or two and you’ll get the goods front and center for your reading pleasure…
I’ll basically just skip burying the lead this time around and just discuss my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Diane Keaton in her iconic performance in Annie Hall. She creates an unforgettable character alongside Woody Allen and wins both your heart and your mind. It’s unquestionably the best winner in this category’s history, at least in my eyes. A classic performance in a classic film. Not far behind is Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, which I think is not just one of the all time best bits of acting, but somehow an underrated one despite winning Swank her first Oscar. Swank actually has two performances in my top ten (and she’s not the only multiple honoree here, but I’ll get to that in a moment), but this is her crowning achievement. Rounding out the top five we have Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (who has two performances on my list), Elizabeth Taylor for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Charlize Theron for Monster. They’re all tremendous performances, and they’re joined in an absolutely stacked top ten by the likes of Louise Fletcher for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, Meryl Streep for Sophie’s Choice, and Swank again for Million Dollar Baby. Besides Swank’s two mentions, Foster also shows up again just outside the top ten for The Accused, while Leigh has one more in […]

Amy Thurlow, has been named Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for dick clark productions

Highly regarded television executive, Amy Thurlow, has been named Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for dick clark productions, it was announced today by Mike Mahan, President of dick clark productions. She will be based at the company’s Santa Monica headquarters and will report directly to Mahan.
“Amy is one of the most talented executives in the business with an unparalleled business acumen when it comes to leading, strategizing and growing a company. She will play a vital management role as dick clark productions expands our global television footprint,” said Mahan. “I have known Amy for many years and it is a tremendous pleasure to have her join the dick clark productions team.”
“It is an incredible time to join dick clark productions with the expansion of its global business under the leadership of Allen Shapiro and Mike Mahan,” said Thurlow. “I am honored to work with such a historic company as dick clark productions and contribute to some of the biggest live television events in the world.”
Thurlow most recently served as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Sales Strategy for TV Guide Network, a CBS/Lionsgate partnership, based in New York and Los Angeles. Prior to serving as CFO and EVP, she held several positions within the company, including Senior Vice President, Sales Strategy and Planning.
Earlier in Thurlow’s career, she joined NBC Universal as Manager of Corporate Staff Finance in 1998 and worked her way up to Finance Director of Film and TV Distribution. She began her career at the General Electric Corporation.
Thurlow earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Boston College and her Executive MBA from New York University.
dick clark productions (dcp) is among the world’s largest producers and proprietors of televised live event programming. dcp produces perennial hits such as the “American Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.” Weekly television programming, includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment, a division of CORE Media Group, and dick clark productions; and “Rising Star” from Keshet DCP, the joint venture between Keshet International (KI), the global distribution and production arm of Keshet Media Group, and DC Media, the parent company of dick clark productions (dcp). In 2014, dcp will debut the “American Country Countdown Awards” (FOX), “Hollywood […]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wins Box Office with $73 Million

Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian commented, “Optimus Prime and the Autobots continue their international box office success with “Transformers: Age of Extinction” adding another $102 million in 50 territories & in the process propels the international total past the $500 million mark and the worldwide box office to a now staggering $736 million. Meanwhile “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ is still breathing fire in a whopping 62 family-friendly markets as it crosses $345 million in global revenue. In just 26 international territories this weekend’s debut of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is off to a rousing $31.1 million start.”
The top-12 domestic weekend box office estimates listed in descending order, per data collected as of Sunday, July 13, 2014, are below.
1. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – 20th Century Fox – $73.0M
2. Transformers: Age Of Extinction – Paramount – $16.5M
3. Tammy – Warner Bros. – $12.9M
4. 22 Jump Street – Sony – $6.7M
5. How To Train Your Dragon 2 – 20th Century Fox – $5.9M
6. Earth To Echo – Relativity Media – $5.5M
7. Deliver Us From Evil – Sony – $4.7M
8. Maleficent – Disney – $4.2M
9. Begin Again – The Weinstein Company – $2.9M
10. Jersey Boys – Warner Bros. – $2.5M
11. Think Like A Man Too – Sony – $2.5M
12. America – Lionsgate – $2.5M
To read more about Box Office numbers go to www.rentrak.com

12 Films still to look forward to this summer

With the second half of the year underway, it’s tempting to also declare the summer movie season all but over as well. While we may only have a few big blockbusters still to go, the independent films still to be released offer some interesting options, with at least one excellent option that I can vouch for (though I’ve actually seen all but four of the titles on the impending list). As such, I figured I’d take this moment to give you all 12 flicks that you can still look forward to between now and the end of August. There’s plenty out now to see, between Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Life Itself, just to name three excellent new releases, but now I’ll give you some other things to anticipate.
Below you’ll see a dozen films that you should still have marked down on your calendars as must sees…
12. I Origins – Even though I’m not a huge fan of this science fiction tinged indie drama, it’s certainly interesting and worth seeing. Filmmaker Mike Cahill impressed me last time around with Another Earth, so anyone who liked that one should check out this new one, which also features Brit Marling once again, though Michael Pitt is the star this time around. It begins its rollout next week.
11. Love Is Strange – Back at the Tribeca Film Festival I saw and very much enjoyed this small scale love story. Both John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are excellent here as an older couple trying to make it in New York City. It’s well worth seeing, trust me there. It hits at the end of August.
10. A Most Wanted Man – One of the final performances we’ll ever see from the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this thriller. At one point this was thought of as a potential awards player, but its reception at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was rather muted. Still, it opens at the beginning of next month and should be worth checking out.
9. The One I Love – An offbeat dramedy with a number of plot twists I won’t spoil, it captured my interest at Tribeca. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are strong as just about the only folks in the movie. It’s out in the middle of August and is a nice change of pace option for audiences.
8. Calvary – The previous […]

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

Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater
Main Cast: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater, and many others as well…
Past Oscar relations: Richard Linklater has been nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Sunset and Before Midnight), while Ethan Hawke has three Academy Award nominations (the two Linklater got and Best Supporting Actor for Training Day) on his resume…
Here’s a brand new article in this series of mine on 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of notable Oscar attention as contenders at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is the one of a kind coming of age story Boyhood, which seeks to take its unique premise and making of tale and compel Oscar voters to throw some love its way. Personally, I’m hoping that it does.
This is a literal coming of age story, in more ways than one too. Linklater cast a young boy over a decade ago and for the next 12 years he filmed a few days a year with Ellar Coltrane as he literally grew up. Along with watching Coltrane go though his coming of age before our eyes, we see Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke do the same as his parents, along with Lorelei Linklater as his sister. We follow Coltrane’s Mason as he goes from a little boy to a college student, plain and simple. It sounds boring, but trust me, it’s not. This is among the finest films of the year so far. If voters are paying attention, a deserving nominee is opening this weekend.
What this flick has going in its favor is its inherent quality as well as its one of a kind nature, not to mention the trio of main performances. The mere achievement of getting it made almost makes it worthy of consideration, but when you factor in that it could be Linklater’s masterpiece when all is said and done, you have to imagine that the same people that nominated him twice before in Best Adapted Screenplay will fight the good fight for him to get into a number of fields here, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, in addition to the main trio of actors, since Arquette (who’s best in show to me), Coltrane, and Hawke will capture your heart in a big way. Just about anyone who watches this with an open heart and mind will want […]

Richard Linklater: Writer and Director

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a bit of an indie A-lister, though far from an unknown. It’s filmmaker Richard Linklater, a writer and director who has managed to consistently do things in a unique way and bring audiences along with him at the same time. As heralded as he already is (especially this week with Boyhood hitting theaters), he still sometimes seems underrated to me. For a man with a pair of Oscar nominations, he still manages to work decidedly outside of the box and still cultivate an audience. Even his studio outings have been memorable. Frankly, Linklater is one of a kind.
Linklater has always done things his way, from his fly on the wall debut Slacker to Dazed and Confused to the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight). Throw in Boyhood and you have five near classics from one filmmaker, and that doesn’t take into account the almost dozen other movies that he’s made over the years. He’s done everything from animated flicks (A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life) to studio comedies (Bad News Bears and School of Rock), with plenty of interesting work in between.
If you take a close look at his oeuvre, he’s done very compelling things with even his less regarded work. From Bernie (which I find to be incredibly underrated) to Fast Food Nation to Tape, with plenty of others in between, Linklater has managed to take whatever premise he’s working with and do things in such a simple yet unique way that sometimes it’s not until the flick ends that you realize just how special his work is. The two Adapted Screenplay nominations he has for Before Sunset and Before Midnight are nice bits of recognition, but he really needs to get a Best Director nod under his belt soon, not to mention a nom for Best Picture.
This weekend, Boyhood begins its national roll out and it’s among the best films of the year so far. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about it as an awards contender, but what Linklater did with that movie is downright amazing. Filming a coming of age story with the same cast over a dozen years captured some real truth that’s almost impossible to get otherwise. It’s a work of art, plain and simple. Again, I’ll get into its Oscar prospects in my What’s Up with the Awards Race piece […]

“Unbroken” by Angelina Jolie: Best Adapted Screenplay contender

As you fine folks 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 from the acting categories and hitting the writing ones…starting 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. Unbroken – Angelina Jole’s World War II epic has a heavyweight group of writers involved, namely Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, William Nicholson, and Richard LaGravenese. That’s perhaps the most A list screenplay ever, and one of the many reasons why I have this as a huge Oscar contender. Right now, it has to be one of the top players in Adapted Screenplay. I have it winning right now, but some other options could certainly wind up heavily challenging it before all is said and done.

2. Inherent Vice – Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson has never won an Oscar, despite having a few screenplays in contention previously, but maybe this is the year for him. PTA seems like more of a hopeful in Best Director usually, but his move from Original to Adapted (There Will Be Blood was his first) screenplays might give him a new and better opportunity. If the movie winds up a big player, I can see him potentially getting the win here.
3. Rosewater – Can Jon Stewart write a film? We know he can write comedy, but this is something completely different. I’m cautiously optimistic, since if he hits this one out of the park, it’s a surefire contender. We won’t know for a while now about this hopeful, but once […]

“Birdman” by Alejandro González Iñárritu: A July Oscar Predictions Update

Now that we’re into July and the second half of 2014, it’s high time that I’m coming to you again with some new and even more up to date Oscar predictions. Hopefully they’ll represent a bit of a change from speculation to educated guesswork now that awards season is not too far away. We still have a very long way to go in the season overall and these new predictions will likely be wrong more than right anyway, but with each passing update I’m getting more and more confident in backing particular horses as opposed to previous ones I’ve mentioned. If that sounds a bit repetitive, well…that’s still kind of the nature of the beast right now. If nothing else, this continues to sort of show where I’m coming from as the months pass and the race begins to change and evolve into something truly competitive and quantifiable, especially when precursor season kicks into gear later on in 2014.
Continuing the trend I’ve had all year, you can see that films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar are the ones that I have pegged to be the biggest winners at this year’s ceremony, though it’s now joined by Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman as well. Overall, my predictions still begin with Foxcatcher dominating at this early point in the season, though Unbroken still should do decently well too, at least in terms of nominations. Birdman is one of the year’s potential X factors though, so I wanted to make sure it got a bit of an extra mention here. A lot can and will still change, but if you’re looking for an early horse to bet on, it’s really either Foxcatcher or Unbroken right now in my mind, though evolutions are coming. There are some small changes elsewhere in most categories, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s still about those two contenders here for me.
I could go on about the more substantial changes that I’ve made (there’s again a noticeable change in a number of big categories) this time around, but I know at this point you mostly just want to see actual predictions, so here now is how I see the Academy Awards shaping up to look like at this midway juncture in the year:
1. Foxcatcher
2. Unbroken
3. Men, Women, & Children
4. Gone Girl
5. Birdman
6. Rosewater
7. Big Eyes
8. Interstellar
9. Fury
10. Inherent Vice
1. Bennett […]

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