January 10, 2015
        All 24 Oscar® Categories to be announced live                Final Golden Globe Predictions                The last minute screenplay controversy for "Whiplash"                Writers Guild of America Announces Nominees                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        

Tag Archives: films

Spotlight on the Stars: James Cameron

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of directing’s biggest A-listers of them all. The filmmaker in question? Well, that would be James Cameron, of course. A filmmaker who also does his best to literally change the world, Cameron is pretty special. In many ways, he really is the king of the world, so it’s only appropriate that we take a look at him in this particular article series. In any event, here we go now.
Cameron got his start working behind the scenes on low budget exploitation before being given a chance to direct Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. He was fired from that project, but still has a credit. If ever there was an outlier on a resume, it’s that one. From there, he set out to make a true first feature, one that turned out to be none other than The Terminator. Basically from there, he was on his way to becoming an untouchable. The Cameron we all know was born once The Terminator was a hit.
Of course, he went on to make a succession of insanely popular and technologically advanced films, starting with the high octane Alien sequel Aliens. From there, he was allowed to push the visual effects envelope with The Abyss and then make a sequel to his own work, which resulted in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Next up was a bit of a change of pace with True Lies, but then came the monster that was Titanic.
In crafting that flick, Cameron not only won Oscars, but crafted what was the highest grossing film of all time, at least until he got behind the cameras again for a narrative feature and broke records all over again with Avatar. Between those two, he directed a pair of documentaries. They are Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep, both hybrids of The Abyss and Titanic. They showcased his interest in the ocean and also technology, something that continues to this day.
This weekend, Cameron has another doc hitting screens, one called Deepsea Challenge 3D. He didn’t direct this one, but he’s basically the star in all other ways. It’s an interesting look both at his real life work and also the man as well. At the very least, it’s a good delay before he gets back into fantasy land with sequels to Avatar.
Beyond films, he’s also someone who has done […]

“Annie Hall”: The Top 25 (Best Picture)

All good things must come to an end at some point. Yes folks, this is the final installment of this series of mine, and as such, it’s (hopefully) a bit of a doozy…the Best Picture field. Without a doubt, this is the big one, so it’s the one where the list will be the most important and I hope interesting to look at as well. Obviously, I could go on and on in preparation right now, waxing poetic and teasing, but at this point I know how the game works here for everyone. You all just want to see the lists that I do anyhow, so I have no problem obliging you good people there in that particular regard one more time. All you have to do is just be patient over the next paragraph or so and you’ll get the goods front and center for your reading pleasure…
One last time, try not to bury the lead and I’ll jump right into discussing my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. The best romantic comedy of all time, Allen’s Best Picture winner is a perfect film to me, so it’s not even close between this one and all the rest. That being said, the next two runners up aren’t miles behind. They’re Steven Spielberg’s heartbreaking Schindler’s List and Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Two very different works, but also two basically perfect ones. Rounding out the top five I have Billy Wilder’s The Apartment and Sam Mendes’ American Beauty, the latter of which is likely too high for some, but hey…it’s my list, right? Exactly. That’s a strong top five in my eyes, and the top ten consists of Ben Affleck’s Argo, John G. Avildsen’s Rocky, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, and Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There’s not a weak one in that lot, and I’d especially say that Argo is still moving upwards for me. I could see it pushing towards the top five in the next decade, but again, that’s just me. There’s really no way to not come up with an amazing top ten, just like there’s no way not to leave off a ton of worthy contenders in a top 25. You could easily go 30 or 40 […]

“The Lego Movie” : 2015 Best Animated Feature contenders

Today, for my weekly 2015 contender rundown, I’m moving on from the big eight categories and looking at one of the in between ones…the Best Animated Feature race.
Since there are far less contenders in this category, I’ll be doing things a little bit differently. Here now are the five particular animated films that I have cracking the unofficial lineup at this point in the year:
1. The Lego Movie – The apparent frontrunner in the category, it’s a huge hit, captured the zeitgeist for a time in the country, and is just an absolute delight. The only concern in my eyes is if it’s just a little too weird for older voters, but I don’t think that’ll be much of an issue at all. It transcends the animation genre, so it would be a perfect winner in this category. Right now, the heavy Best Animated Feature favorite is this one right here.
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – If theres another title besides the one in my number one slot that has a chance to upend the race, it’s this one. A high quality sequel, this should be in contention for a tech nod or two on top of this Animated Feature nom, so that could help push it over the top. It has stiff competition from its main opponent, but I’d say not to count this one out at all just yet. A nomination at the very least here is assured.
3. The Boxtrolls – The studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman continues their efforts in this category with another offbeat but likely affecting title. Based on a popular book, this is one of the dark horses that will make things interesting in Best Animated Feature. It’ll have a high bar to clear in order to win, though as long as it’s good, a nomination seems pretty likely.
4. Big Hero 6 – Much of what I just said above could apply here, except this is a Disney/Marvel effort, so if it’s high quality, the money will be there for a huge campaign. If so, it’ll be the other main challenger for the Oscar, though something tells me it might not win. Voters don’t seem to go for superheroes anywhere just yet, so even an animated type of superhero tale likely will be a tough sell. The nomination could end up being its reward, I think. I could be wrong though.
5. Book […]

The New York Film Festival is upping its Oscar game this year

With only three announcements, the annual New York Film Festival has managed to make their 52nd fest probably the biggest one of the year. I’ve been going the past few years and it’s slowly transformed into an awards season destination, but 2014 seems primed to be the year they really start to challenge the Toronto Film Festival for Oscar launch pad supremacy. Their Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing selections are always top notch selections, but this year they really seem to have outdone themselves. NYFF may very well have their best slate ever, and they’re still announcing the rest of their lineup at some point in the next few days.
In the Opening spot, they’re debuting David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Fincher has been there before with The Social Network, so he certainly knows how bit a launching pad this can be. When that movie debuted, it almost ran away with the entire Oscar season, at least until The King’s Speech stole the show at the end of the precursor season. This time around, his mystery/thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike will seek get him back into the Best Picture and Best Director lineup. From the early looks of it (as well as this big time slot), the odds of that seem pretty good for Fincher and Gone Girl.
In the normally more low-key Centerpiece spot, they’ve shocked a lot of folks by landing the premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. This isn’t Anderson’s first NYFF rodeo either, as both Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love were shown at previous installments of the festival. PTA has made more difficult to embrace than normal flicks the last few times out, and while There Will Be Blood was nominated a ton by the Academy, they ignored everything but the performances in The Master. This time, my guess is that they split the difference, to some degree. A comedic mystery of sorts, Inherent Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix and will look to establish itself as a critical favorite once this NYFF bow occurs.
Finally, their Closing selection is the North American launch of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (or as it’s apparently also called: Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Iñárritu is an NYFF veteran, as this will also be his third time showing a film there. He previously brought Amores Perros as well as 21 Grams to the fest. A dramedy starring Michael Keaton, it’s a […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Clint Eastwood: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to go old school and take a look at a classic A-lister, and that happens to be one Clint Eastwood. Depending on your age, he’s either a director who used to be an actor or a childhood icon who’s now become a rather iconic filmmaker. Few could have reinvented themselves the way that Eastwood has, with this weekend’s release of Jersey Boys highlighting his directing skills in a whole new light than really ever before. He’s tried to do it all in Hollywood, you have to tip your hat to him for that.
Eastwood has basically done it all in the business. He’s starred in franchises (the Dirty Harry series as well as The Man With No Name movies), acted in Best Picture winners, and directed them as well. Though one could legitimately make the claim that his best days in Hollywood are behind him, there was a time when he was basically the king of the industry. Two of his directorial efforts (both of which he starred in and received Best Actor nominations for) won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and he had a long run of his work being repeatedly embraced by Oscar voters. He has four competitive statues at home (for producing and directing Million Dollar Baby as well as producing and directing Unforgiven) and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to show for it.
If you take a look at his work, he’s shown how an actor with one specialty could become a filmmaker with a completely different one. He was never on Oscar’s radar as a western star and even when he moved to the director’s chair, it was in genre fare. Slowly but surely he kept improving his work, culminating in Unforgiven in the 90’s being the first time voters cited a film of his, along with his own performance as well. Since then, he’s dabbled in comedies (Space Cowboys), mysteries (Blood Work, Changeling), war epics (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima), and even baity biopics (J. Edgar). Now he goes the musical route with Jersey Boys. You have to say this for Eastwood…he never sits on his hands (ironic, since he’s an accomplished piano player and musical composer as well, even getting a Golden Globe nomination for doing the score to Grace is Gone, which he was otherwise uninvolved in). He always has something […]

Jonah Hill: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a bit of a new A-lister, and that happens to be Jonah Hill. For some, he’s just another Judd Apatow guy, but realistically, he’s much more than that. He’s branched out on his own with a rather hilarious comedy franchise that began with 21 Jump Street and continues this weekend with 22 Jump Street (he also co-wrote both in addition to starring). He’s also gone the drama route and both times been rewarded with Academy Award nominations (for Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street), so he’s got some serious bonafides these days. You have to look at him as a member of the A list now, and someone who very well might be on their way to winning an Oscar before long.
Hill has worked with an impressive assortment of filmmakers so far in his career. That list includes the likes of Judd Apatow, David Gordon Green, Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, Bennett Miller, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. You probably never would have guessed that the guy who got his start playing second fiddle in films like Accepted would become one of more in demand actors in Hollywood. It just goes to show where real dedication and hard work can get you.
If you actually look at his work, he’s show more range than he’s given credit for. The types of performances he gives in movies like 21 Jump Street (along with 22 Jump Street on Friday, which is just as good, trust me there), Funny People, Knocked Up, and Superbad are tremendous, but they’re very different than what he’s shown us in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street. Especially with that latter performance, he was able to seamlessly blend comedy and drama, which is the way he’s going to one day win that statue, likely in the Best Supporting Actor category that he’s gotten a pair of citations in already.
Overall, Hill is a genius comic actor with some stunningly good dramatic chops as well. He’s got the very amusing 22 Jump Street opening in a few days and later this year he’ll make another play at awards with the drama True Story, co-starring James Franco. He’ll likely continue to mix and match between comedy and drama, which is perfectly fine in my book. I greatly look forward to watching Hill continue to grow as an actor and […]

Shailene Woodley Talks: “The Fault In Our Stars”

Shailene Woodley tells Vanity Fair senior West Coast editor Krista Smith she nearly quit acting after her supporting role in The Descendants earned her laurels from Hollywood and sudden success. “Somebody came to me and said, ‘I can’t wait to see what you do next.’ I took that as pressure, that I had to live up to somebody else’s expectations,” she recalls. “There were a few months where I was like, ‘I don’t want to act anymore.’ And then I got over it and realized it’s none of my business what other people think of me.”
The headstrong young actress adds that George Clooney, her co-star in The Descendants, has helped reaffirm her beliefs amid the distractions of Hollywood. “He has been an angel in my life for many reasons,” she tells Smith. “He knew everyone’s name on set,” she says. “He treated everyone as an equal and everyone got his warmth.”
For Clooney, the adulation is mutual. “Shailene can do whatever she wants,” the actor tells Smith. “If she wants to be a movie star, she has it. If she wants to change the world, she will. Her talent and kindness go hand in hand.”
Though Woodley has a reputation as an actress with a conscience, she tells Smith she realizes that not everyone wants to hear about it. “As much as this industry is a platform for talking about big issues, there’s also so many fucking issues. You could talk about Russia, or Argentina, or fracking, or G.M.O.’s. Maybe the only thing that I’m supposed to do is just show up and be me in every moment. Because I do feel like one of my gifts is to be open and lovely,simple things like smiling at strangers and having kind, small interactions. I think that is what’s going to ultimately shift things.”
Her refreshing sensibility has helped her deal with the disappointments that follow a career in acting, case in point, her reaction to her role as Mary Jane Watson being ultimately cut out from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. “For a few hours it was literally like, ‘Oh, my God, was I awful? Why did they cut me? What are people going to think?’ I woke up the next morning and I was like, ‘O.K., it makes total sense.’ I’m a pretty spiritual person, so I can just sit back and trust that everything happens for a reason, even if my […]

Page 2 of 13212345...102030...Last »