January 07, 2015
        What the PGA nominations mean for the Best Picture race                The films that will sadly be shut out on Oscar nomination morning                Producers Guild of America Announces Nominees                Art Directors Guild Announces Nominees                A January Oscar Predictions Update                American Cinema Editors (ACE) Announces Nominees                2015 releases to look forward to                The best films and performances of 2014                A look at the second spot in each of the main Oscar categories                The late breaking major Oscar contenders of 2014                Golden Globe post nomination predictions for December                Cinematic gifts from 2014                Spotlight on the Stars: Bradley Cooper                Which film will lead the nomination totals for Oscar this year?                A look at some potential first time Academy Award nominees this year        

Tag Archives: film

“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:
BEST PICTURE
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
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Bennett […]

Spotlight on Billionaire Jeff Skoll

By Robert Welkos
NAME: JEFF SKOLL
NET WORTH: $2.7 billion (TheRichest.com) to $3.8 billion (Forbes)
SOURCE OF WEALTH: eBay
‘BIO: Born to a middle-class family in Canada, Skoll graduated with honors in electrical engineering program at the University of Toronto, then went backpacking around the world before entering Stanford Business School, where he earned an MBA degree. He was the first full-time employee and first president of eBay, the Internet auction firm. He sold a portion of his company holdings for $2 billion. In 1999. he created the Skoll Foundation, which quickly became the world’s largest foundation for social entrepreneurship. In 2004, he created the movie production company Participant Media. In 2009. he founded the Skoll Global Threats Fund, focusing on issues that could bring the world to its knees: climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and Middle East conflict.
MARITAL STATUS: Single
HOLLYWOOD CONNECTIONS: Participant Media seeks to make films that have the power to inspire and compel social change. Skoll has served as executive producer on more than 45 films. Recently, he launched Pivot, a new digital cable and satellite television channel aimed at the millennial generation.
FILMS INCLUDE: “Syriana,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Cove,” “The Help,” “Lincoln,” “Fast Food Nation,” “The Fifth Estate.”
FILM PROJECTS IN THE WORKS:
“The Ardor.” Director: Pablo Fendrik. Cast: Alice Braga, Gael Garcia Bernal. Hollywood Reporter: “A tale of survival and revenge set in the Amazon jungle.”
“Out of the Dark.” Director: Lluís Quílez. Cast: Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Stephen Rea. IMDB logline: “A couple and their daughter moves to Colombia to take over a family manufacturing plant, only to realize that their new home is haunted.”
“The Hundred-Foot Journey.” Director: Lasse Hallström. Cast: Helen Mirren, Rohan Chand, Juhi Chawla. Producers include Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.g among producers. IMDB logline: “A story centered on an Indian family who moves to France and opens a restaurant across the street from a Michelin-starred French restaurant.”
“A Most Violent Year.” Director: J.C. Chandor. Cast: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks. IMDB logline: “A thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city’s history, and centered on the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they […]

Kevin Smith: As under appreciated a filmmaker as the industry has

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to do something a little bit different than usual. Rather than simply look at someone who’s got a film coming out this week, I wanted to highlight someone who I feel is one of the most under appreciated filmmakers in the business. It’s Kevin Smith, a writer/director/editor/actor/podcaster who’s managed to forge one of the more unique careers that Hollywood has ever seen. Some may take issue with him being an A-lister or a star (or even under appreciated), and Smith would likely be the first to say so as well, but he sells himself short. Even beyond his work, he’s looked at as an expert on comic book cinema. For example, when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, what other filmmaker was literally sought out by the press for comment? His mere set visit to Star Wars: Episode VII is considered an event worth writing about. That’s rare folks. He’s never been someone the Academy looks to for nominations (though I’ve heard rumors that he was in the number six spot for Chasing Amy in Best Original Screenplay) and that’s a shame. A few years back, they didn’t even pretend to consider some of the performances he got out of John Goodman and Michael Parks in Red State, and that was their loss. Don’t even get me started on the Joey Lauren Adams snub either for Chasing Amy. Point is, no matter how you slice it, he’s under appreciated and underrated in Hollywood. As such, I feel he’s more than deserving of me giving him some appreciation in this piece today.
Smith has been a trailblazer in this business. From his independent film beginnings with Clerks to his embracement of the world of podcasting, he’s ahead of the curve. He was ahead of his time in selling himself as part of the movie experience, doing Q and A sessions before or after screenings of Clerks, sessions that became so popular he still sells out venues to this very day, two decades later. He helped launch the career of Affleck, Jason Lee, and others. Smith’s impact on Hollywood has been rather wide ranging, frankly.
If you take a closer look at his work than most do these days, he’s shown an ability to handle multiple genres and themes, more so than many realize. The aforementioned Chasing Amy melded LGBT issues into a raunchy romantic comedy. Dogma […]

Brad Pitt – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”: The Top 25 (Best Makeup & Hairstyling)

We’re coming to the end of the line folks. Yes, this time around I’ll be tackling the last of the technical categories in this series. After this week, it’s all the remaining big eight categories from here on out. This one today is arguably one of the lesser tech categories, but still an interesting one. Which one is it? Well, it’s the Best Makeup & Hairstyling category. This isn’t a particularly prestigious category, but hey…it’s still one worth discussing a bit. 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 a bit on the patient side over the next paragraph or so and you’ll get the goods front and center…
This time around, I’m once again going with the ever popular overview route for the discussion as you might have guessed. There’s an extra reason for that too…this category has only been in existence since the 1980’s, so it’s a smaller crop to pull from. Besides that, it really just comes down to taste again here (surprising, I know), with your opinion influencing what sort of winner you’re particularly partial to. It’s pretty much a matter of taste once again for us, which is pretty common for this series. As usual, I know a couple of of my selections here are going to seem a bit on the odd side, especially again when you see how high I ranked certain films, but that’s just the way it is. You can’t please everyone with this sort of a thing, so I won’t lie to myself in order to try.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit here now (and remember, there are really only about 35 or so contenders for the 25 spots). To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The seamless blending of makeup and visual effects still stuns me to this day. It’s just magical in my eyes. That would be far and away my number one selection, but the rest of my top five choices are far from slouches. They are Ed Wood, Men in Black, Planet of the Apes (which technically won a special award before the category truly existed, but it’s my piece, so I’m […]

“Begin Again”: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine

Directed by: John Carney
Written by: John Carney
Main Cast: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, Mos Def, Catherine Keener, CeeLo Green, James Corden, and many more…
Past Oscar relations: Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), and Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich and Capote) have Academy Award nominations, while John Carney’s Once won Best Original Song
Here now we have a brand spanking new article in this ongoing series of mine concerning 2014 releases hoping to compete for some kind of Oscar attention as contenders at the impending/upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us is the musical dramedy Begin Again, which looks to use catchy music to hopefully capture the Academy’s attention.
This film comes to us from filmmaker John Carney, who blew most of us away a couple of years back with Once. Starring the eclectic cast of Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, Mos Def, Catherine Keener, CeeLo Green, among others, it was original titled Can a Song Save Your Life? and is the story of two down on their luck individuals coming together to make music. One is a singer/songwriter, one is a music producer. It may sound generic, but it’s actually very clever and life affirming. There’s a lot to like here. Could that wind up translating into an appealing contender for the Academy? I for one hope so, having seen and loved it a month or two ago, but is that just wishful thinking on my part?
What this flick has going in its favor is its sheer likability. Everyone is having a good time and it shows. The music is catchy, the story is warm and effective, the script crackles, and you leave with a good feeling inside. It’s more or less the definition of a feel good movie, one in which cliches don’t run rampant either. It’s one of my ten favorite films of the year so far, so I can vouch for it. I have a feeling the Golden Globe voters will really go for it, so that can only help with the Academy members giving it a chance.
Working against Begin Again is that it’ll be unfairly compared to Carney’s previous flick Once. Even I can admit that it’s not quite as original or phenomenal overall. They’re different animals, but some Oscar voters might think this is just a mainstream rom-com (which it 100% […]

Mark Wahlberg: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to flip back from last weeks’s old school pick and take a look at a more modern A-lister, and this one happens to be Mark Wahlberg. He can be easy to make fun of at times, especially if he’s in a silly type of film like this week’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, but one can’t forget that he’s a two time Academy Award nominee and he’s one of the savvier actors in Hollywood. He’s as in touch with his audience as anyone and one of the seemingly more genuine people in the business. That can go a long way for someone like Wahlberg, who has pretty much as bright a future as a current A-lister can have.
Wahlberg has done way more in the business than many realize. Once again, just look at the filmmakers he’s worked with. Regardless of how a few of these final products have turn rout, Wahlberg has been directed by the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson, Tim Burton, James Gray, Peter Jackson, David O. Russell, Martin Scorsese, and M. Night Shyamalan as well. Anderson obviously helped launch his career, while working with Russell has given us some of the best performances from Wahlberg to date, and of course his collaboration with Scorsese got him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
If you take a close look at his work, he’s shown that he’s far more than an action hero. Yes, he can kick ass with the best of them, but he’s even better when doing more than that. Last year’s Lone Survivor showed how he can do that, while he’s been very strong in dramas like Boogie Noghts, The Departed, The Fighter, and Three Kings, to name a few. He’s also shown an aptitude for comedy…just look at his great turn in Ted. Need I say more?
Overall, Wahlberg is a talent that just needs to be in the right role in order to shine. This week’s franchise spectacle Transformers: Age of Extinction likely won’t be of much note in his career, but going forward I’m sure we’ll see the diverse career he’s been cultivating continue to grow. Personally, I’m especially looking forward to Ted 2, but that’s me. Wahlberg has a Supporting Actor nomination and a nomination for Best Picture from producing The Fighter under his belt…in my mind it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through […]

Tom Hanks: The Top 25 (Best Actor)

Yes, this time around I’ll be tackling one of the biggest of the big eight categories in an effort not to save them all for very last, much like with last week. This one is arguably the second biggest of them all…the Best Actor field. This is as prestigious a category as there is ladies and gentlemen. I could go on and on in preparation right now, but at this point I know how the game works here. 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 so and you’ll get the goods front and center…
This time around, I’m once again going with the ever popular overview route for the discussion as you might have guessed. Also, it really just comes down to taste again here (surprise surprise), with your opinion influencing what sort of winner you’re particularly partial to. It’s pretty much a matter of taste once again for us all, which is commonplace at this point and even more so with acting. I know a couple of of my selections are going to seem a bit on the odder side of the equation, especially again when you see how high I ranked certain gentlemen, but that’s just the way it is. You can’t please everyone with this sort of a thing, so I won’t lie to myself in order to try.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Tom Hanks and his stunning performance in Philadelphia. Frankly, I wish I could basically have a tie throughout my entire top five, which also includes Marlon Brando for On The Waterfront (as opposed to his more widely praised turn in The Godfather) Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas (easily the most underrated winner in history to me), Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (controversially ahead of There Will Be Blood), and Robert De Niro for Raging Bull (to some the best ever). They’re almost all tied, they’re so phenomenal. I give the slight edge to Hanks though, just because of how long that turn has stayed with me. Rounding out the top ten we have the other beloved performances of Day-Lewis […]

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

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Main Cast: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken, Mike Doyle, Steve Schirripa, and many more…
Past Oscar relations: Clint Eastwood is a four time Oscar winning filmmaker, most recently winning Best Picture and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby
Here now we have a brand spanking new article in this series of mine on 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of Oscar attention as contenders at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us is the Broadway adaptation Jersey Boys, which looks to become the latest musical to capture the Academy’s admiration.
This musical comes to us from legendary filmmaker Clint Eastwood as well as being co-written by Marshall Brickman, who has an Oscar on his mantle for once upon a time co-writing Annie Hall with Woody Allen. Starring the likes of John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken, and Mike Doyle, it’s the story of how Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons came to be. Many of their classic songs are recreated and a good time is had for the most part, meaning the box office should be fairly solid this weekend. Could that translate into a success story with the Academy as well?
What this flick has going in its favor is the music itself, which is part of why the Broadway show is so successful. The tunes have stood the test of time, so that’s a big factor here. The story itself isn’t amazingly original, but the combination of the songs and the story give you something to hum along to, and that can’t be overlooked when it comes to crowd pleasers. If it charms enough folks, voters will be sure to give it a long hard look when the time comes.
Working against Jersey Boys is a bloated running time, poor sense of pacing, and an overall sense that this is nothing too special. Eastwood’s name is a bit of a draw, but you can argue that his direction is one of the reasons this isn’t a fully successful endeavor. The look of the picture is off and it takes a long time to tell a story that could have been done much shorter and more efficiently. None of my issues with it are too big, but I know I’m not alone and that likely will be enough to keep it […]

Steven Spielberg: The Top 25 (Best Director)

Here we go again folks with another Top 25 article today, and it’s one of the big ones. Yes, this time around I’ll be tackling one of the biggest of the big eight categories in an effort not to save them all for very last. This one is the Best Director field. This is another category that usually has a rather big tie in with Best Picture, as you’ll see below to some degree once again. As always, I have a few specific titles I’ll be citing in detail later on in this piece, but by now I know how the game works here. You all mostly just want to see the lists I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good folks there in that particular regard once again. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or so and you’ll get the goods front and center…
This time around, I’m once again going to be going with the overview route as you might have guessed, especially since a bunch of these Oscar winners I’ll be discussing once again when we get to Best Picture in a few weeks. Also, it really just comes down to taste again here, with your opinion influencing what sort of winner you’re particularly partial to. It’s pretty much a matter of taste once again for us all, which is commonplace at this point. I know a couple of of my selections are going to seem a bit on the odd side, especially when you see how high I ranked certain ones (especially considering their genre), but that’s just the way it is. You can’t please everyone with this sort of a thing.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Steven Spielberg’s win for Schindler’s List. I briefly toyed with having his direction of Saving Private Ryan in the top spot, but Schindler’s List is basically perfect filmmaking, so I had to anoint it here. Also in the top five we have Woody Allen for Annie Hall, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, Mike Nichols for The Graduate, and the aforementioned Spielberg’s work on Saving Private Ryan. Rounding out the top ten are the likes of Michael Curtiz for Casablanca, Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront, David Lean for Lawrence of […]

Do we really have a Summer Movie Season anymore?

Maybe I’m just nuts, but it’s slowly beginning to seem to me like there isn’t really a summer movie season anymore, or at the very least no longer one that resembles what there used to be. I’m sure I’m hardly the first person over the last few years to say this, or even the last year (or even this month, I’m sure), but it appears like a simple fact of the matter. What used to be an important designation that would get audiences excited and symbolize a certain type of studio output has now become antiquated. Blockbusters happen year round, counter programming happens year round, and only really the awards bait type film still has a designated season.
This all began with the summer movie season being extended, slowly but sure. I’ll give some examples below, but it showed studios that it was possible to play popcorn entertainment throughout all 12 months. Even March has gotten in on the action, a time usually reserved as the end of the movie dumping season with January and February. Don’t look now, but February is next in line for this treatment too. It really is a new age at hand.
To me, Godzilla this year signified the end. A perfect July type event movie, it hit theaters in May. That was a real death knell in my eyes, along with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also avoiding the true summer months. It’s been happening for years now, but it really came to the forefront for me now. It began with the surprising success of 300 back when that was a March release, continued for years slowly with other films testing the waters, and announced itself in a major way when The Avengers opened in the first week of May a few years ago. That was the terminal diagnosis, if you will. Godzilla was just the flatline.
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. A fun movie or a good movie is just as top notch whenever it comes out, so the aforementioned Godzilla for example didn’t suffer one bit. Nor did The Avengers, and nor will most future releases. Aside from Oscar bait like I said before, almost every other type of movie (give or take overtly Christmas fare, but even then it’s not a hard and fast rule) can now open whenever it feels like and do comparable business. The model has just […]

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