July 10, 2015

Tag Archives: films

Manoel de Oliveira, Portuguese director, dead at 106. RIP

Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal director, dead at 106. RIP
Proud to be Portuguese . Director Manoel de Oliveira was born on December 11, 1908 in Oporto, Portugal, as Manoel Candido Pinto de Oliveira. He was a director and writer, known for To Each His Own Cinema (2007), Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (2009) and I’m Going Home (2001).
He was married to Maria Isabel Brandão de Meneses de Almeida Carvalhais.

He died on April 2, 2015 in Oporto.

Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”: The Best Baseball Films of All Time

Play ball! With Baseball season coming next week, I wanted to do something a little bit fun and look at not just the best sports movies, but the best baseball movies ever made. There’s more than a few to choose from, with a solid handful starring Kevin Costner, I might add. I’m even going to make some potentially controversial choices, as you’ll see below. It’s all in good fun though, and as I get set to spend another year getting my heart broken by the New York Mets, I wanted to put this out there for you all. Enjoy and get ready for baseball…
Here are the ten best baseball movies of all time:
10. Rookie of the Year – Perhaps a lot of this is nostalgia fueling the pick, but I have a real soft spot for the story of a kid who winds up pitching for the Chicago Cubs. It’s wish fulfillment for pre teen boys and a little on the scattershot side, but it’s certainly got a charm. I couldn’t resist putting this on my list, since it’s, you know…my list.
9. Major League – Baseball often transitions to comedy, with this film perhaps being the most successful pure comedic outing of the lot. The sports movie cliches and elements are handled well here, but they’re buoyed by the laughs that are liberally spread out through the entire film. It’s just a ton of fun.
8. Fever Pitch – I really dug the look at baseball fandom contained within this romantic comedy. I’m not sure how appealing it is to die hard baseball fans of sole rom-com nuts, but if you have an affinity for both sides, this merges the two worlds surprisingly well. I think it’s incredibly underrated, quite frankly.
7. Little Big League – The slightly more mature version of Rookie of the Year’s wish fulfillment, this movie looks more at coaching and the front office than at playing ball. It’s still plenty silly, but the premise gets a little bit more gravitas, as it were. Still, nostalgia is at work here, no doubt about that.
6. The Natural – An undisputed classic, I’m not quite a high on it as most others, but I still recognize it for what it is. This is a great film that perhaps suffers a small bit from heavy praise, but clearly deserves its place in history all the same. I like it a lot, […]

Will Ferrell: His Ten Best Films

Consider this a bit of an experiment today. Instead of doing something like what I used to do with the Spotlight on the Stars series, I’m going to try honoring an actor or a filmmaker with a personalized top ten list. We’ll start off with none other than Will Ferrell, who happens to have the new comedy Get Hard hitting theaters this weekend. This initial piece will look at the ten best movies he’s been in, as opposed to just his best performances, but those will be contained within this list too, of course, so fear not. Anyway, let’s give this a shot and see how it goes!
Here now, without any delay, are the ten best films that Ferrell has found himself a cast member in…
10. The Producers – Though a pale comparison to the original Mel Brooks movie (or the Broadway production), this remake of sorts does happen to be decently entertaining as well as feature Ferrell as one of its highlights. He scored his first Golden Globe nomination for this role in Best Supporting Actor, beating out some dramatic heavies for the nod too, so that’s something.
9. Melinda and Melinda – It’s lesser Woody Allen for sure, but an underrated title of his with Ferrell mostly doing a more serious than average version of an Allen impression. Ferrell happens to be one of the better parts of the flick, so that gives it a definite boost, helping it crack this list.
8. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – I’m not as wild about this one as most Kevin Smith fans are (it’s second tier Smith to me), but when it’s funny…it’s hilarious. Ferrell might not be the highlight, but he’s a solid part of a really game to play ensemble. That’s something that he’s better at than a lot of people realize. He’s a showy comedian, but he also can blend pretty well too.
7. Everything Must Go – One of Ferrell’s best performances to date comes in this effectively low key dramedy. With none of his usual mannerisms, he’s really just inhabiting a character. The reason this movie works is his performance, plain and simple. He raises it up.
6. Elf – Easily one of the most likable roles for Ferrell is found within this charming little family comedy. There are times when it’s a little too cute for its own good, but there’s such warmth radiating from this […]

The ten films most likely to lead the 2015 box office

As much as I clearly obsess myself with trying to accurately predict the Oscars, I also have a slight fascination with attempting to figure out which film will wind up as the most successful at the box office, even if the actual numbers are incredibly difficult to pinpoint. Sadly, most of the time the movies in contention for that crown are iffy at best in terms of quality, but his year might very well be different. 2015 offers up a number of potentially very strong flicks that will vie to be number one at the box office, including a couple that might actually contend for the all time crown. That’s pretty rare (though with the numbers we see year in and year out, it’s slowly getting less and less rare), making the next nine months or so possibly very interesting…
As a quick refresher, this was what the top ten box office hauls of 2014 were, including what some of these made after the calendar changed over:
1. American Sniper ($341,380,905) *and counting
2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 ($337,103,873) *and counting
3. Guardians of the Galaxy ($333,176,600)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($259,766,572)
5. The LEGO Movie ($257,760,692)
6. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ($254,916,285) *and counting
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction ($245,439,076)
8. Maleficent ($241,410,378)
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past ($233,921,534)
10. Big Hero 6 ($221,690,346) *and counting
Here now are the ten most likely films to run away with the 2015 box office crown:
10. The Good Dinosaur – The first of two Pixar releases on this list (as well as the first of two to involve dinosaurs), you know that an animated feature is going to rake it in during 2015…the question is just, which one? This has been a slightly troubled production, so that might be an issue, but if it’s not, watch out. Marketing wise, this is a dream for Disney/Pixar.
9. Trainwreck – I spoke about this comedy yesterday, but there’s a chance that this could be even bigger than Bridesmaids. Consider this Judd Apatow flick a dark horse. I think it’s possibly the least likely, but it’s still one very much worth keeping at least one eye on. A comedy always seems to break out, so why not this one, particularly if it’s the critical favorite it’s shaping up to be?
8. Terminator: Genysis – Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the Terminator in a franchise sequel/prequel/reboot that could bring in […]

When will Liam Neeson go back to consistently making awards contenders?

Like many of you, I was pretty surprised and more than a little bit delighted when Liam Neeson made the next act in his illustrious career an action packed one. No one expected Taken to be a hit, or as satisfyingly enjoyable as it was, but it signaled a new trajectory for Neeson. That’s been all well and good, but one thing that it’s cost us is his performances in Oscar fare. Since Taken, Neeson has more or less dropped off of the Academy’s radar, with only one upcoming project hopefully set to return him to prestige territory. I like when he kicks ass, like he does in Friday’s new release Run All Night, but I prefer it when he contends for awards.
Neeson is a very strong dramatic actor and certainly very solid as an action hero, but it’s the former where he’s really been able to shine. Think of the performances that you truly remember him for…they’re dramas, not action movies, right? Hell, I’d even argue that something like Love Actually makes better use of Neeson. Again, this isn’t to say that I don’t like when he saves the day, because I do, especially in the first Taken and the action/drama hybrid The Grey, but those other action flicks are a bit more touch and go, quality wise. His dramas (and occasional comedies) have been traditionally more reliable.
For example, these are the action movies he’s done since the first Taken came out, nearly a decade ago: Clash of the Titans, The A-Team, The Next Three Days, Unknown, The Grey, Wrath of the Titans, Battleship, Taken 2, Non-Stop, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Taken 3, and this weekend’s Run All Night. Unless you count his cameo in The Dark Knight Rises, The Grey is really the only one of undisputed quality in that lot. Even when it comes to comedies, at least he has The Lego Movie to fall back on, even if A Million Ways to Die in the West underwhelmed many.
If you look at his dramas though, Neeson has an Academy Award nomination and a trio of Golden Globe nominations to his credit, which should say something. Those nods came for Schindler’s List (also Oscar nominated), Kinsey, and Michael Collins. You could also claim that he’s been in play more than once for other films (Gangs of New York, as one example), but Schindler’s List especially shows just […]

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 […]

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 […]

The scariest movies ever nominated for an Academy Award

Since it’s Halloween (Happy Halloween everyone), I wanted to do something horror centric but also still relating to Oscar in some way. As such, I wanted to take a look at which scary movies, to one degree or another, were embraced by the Academy Awards. Ideally I’d have focused on Best Picture, but as I’m sure you all know, the pickings there will be mighty slim. Instead, I’ll bounce around, trying to stick to bigger categories whenever possible, but still looking for the most overt examples of genre fare ever cited. I might bend the rules once or twice, but hey…it’s Halloween. I hope you all enjoy.
Here’s the ten scariest movies to catch the attention of Oscar:
1. The Silence of the Lambs – Any list like this has to start with this one, since it almost swept the Oscars in its year. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay…it won five of the big eight categories, part of seven nominations in total. An iconic piece of cinema, it deserves a place at the top of any article of this nature. It’s a perfect representation of horror (though it’s hardly just that) that the Academy thankfully embraced.
2. The Sixth Sense – One of the Academy’s most overt embraces of horror, it received a whopping half dozen citations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. It was a fleeting embrace as opposed to ushering in a more open minded line of voting by Oscar, but it’s still cool to remember nonetheless.
3. Black Swan – Psychological terror is still terror, so when this film that should be miles away from an Academy member’s tastes got five nods (including Best Picture and Best Director) and won Best Actress, it was an incredibly pleasant surprise. It does harken back to some other movies that they’ve been fond of in the past, so that was a plus, but still…can you believe this was a nominee alongside the likes of The King’s Speech and The Kids Are All Right?
4. The Exorcist – Let me blow your mind for a second…this horror film scored double digit Oscar nominations. Yes, it was nominated for ten Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress) and won a pair of them, for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay. That’s horrifically […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

Page 2 of 13312345...102030...Last »