September 18, 2015
        "Black Mass" could get Johnny Depp back in the Oscar game                J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve: Ten potential first time writer/director nominees for Oscar in 2015                Roger Deakins offers up some of his very best cinematography in "Sicario"                "The Martian" launches itself as an awards hopeful at the Toronto Film Festival                "Steve Jobs": Oscar predictions for September                "Sleeping with Other People" is one of the most charming films of 2015                Sandra Bullock looks like a contender in the Trailer for "Our Brand is Crisis"                Sam Smith will sing the theme song for the upcoming 007 film "Spectre"                Richard Gere is an under the radar Best Actor contender for "Time Out of Mind"                Telluride and Venice launch festival debuts into the Oscar race                “The Hateful Eight”: Looking at potential Best Original Screenplay Contenders                David O. Russell and Ridley Scott: Which filmmaking contenders this year are most due for their first win?                Telluride Announces 2015 Lineup - Steve Jobs, Black Mass, Suffragette                “Sicario”: Ten Films to see in September                Will Smith crusades for Best Actor in the "Concussion" Trailer        

Tag Archives: glenn close

The Best of the first three quarters of 2015

Believe it or not, but today is actually the last day of August, which means tomorrow stars September and the final quarter of the year. With this changing of the calendar, I wanted to again give you a bit of a look inside my mind. In short, this will be a quick little look at what I’ve enjoyed most over the first eight months of the year, as opposed to some of my slightly longer outings of this ilk. 2015 has been an interesting cinematic year for sure, so there’s no shortage of films worth praising. I’m keeping it simple this time and not being repetitive with commentary, but this does give you a look at what my favorites of the year so far look like before awards season truly gets underway. That’s something, right?
So far this year, I’ve seen 206 films, including a few that I can’t talk about yet (one is a big Oscar hopeful that I’m just under embargo for), so it’s been a busy 2015 so far. That being said, I’m limiting this to only things that have had a release date before September 1st. As such, that keeps a few great flicks off the list, like Sleeping with Other People and Time Out of Mind, of the titles I can speak freely about. Those will get their due soon enough, but right now they have to be on the outside looking in. The former of those two is sitting very pretty for a spot on my year end Top Ten list right now, so there’s that.
What’s interesting to me, before I reveal the updated list, is that of the over 200 movies I’ve seen, very few are actually going to seriously contend for Academy Award nominations. Excluding what I’m embargoed from discussing, only The End of the Tour, Grandma, Inside Out, Love & Mercy, Mad Max: Fury Road, and maybe Trainwreck will potentially show up anywhere even just on the precursor circuit. Awards season is going to be dominated by late year releases in 2015, that much seems certain. I’m not sure what that says about the year in film, at least right now, but it’s worth making a note of.
Below you’ll see my top ten films of the first three quarters of the year so far, along with my awards. Stay tuned for a longer piece at the end of the year, since there’s […]

Johnny Depp, Leo DiCaprio – Which acting contenders this year are most due for their first win?

Of the many storylines that begin during awards season, few are usually as compelling as the ones centered around who’s most due for an Academy Award. I think that it’s usually pretty satisfying to see a former bridesmaid finally become a bride, as it were. As such, below I’ve made up a list of ten actors or actresses who’ve previously been nominated for Oscars but have yet to win one who are in contention this year. I’ve more or less ranked them by how due they are, and just to be fair, I’ve excluded anyone who has already won a prize elsewhere (sorry Matt Damon, for example), or any of the myriad contenders who are seeking their first ever nomination by the Academy. Take a look below and I hope you enjoy!
Here now are the ten actors and actresses most due for their first Oscar win:
10. Bradley Cooper – With three acting nominations already under his belt, Cooper has now officially gotten the “due” label. A previous Best Actor nominee for American Sniper and Silver Linings Playbook, as well as a Best Supporting Actor nominee for American Hustle, he has two opportunities for a win this year. He’ll be in the Actor hunt with Burnt and the Supporting Actor hunt with Joy. It may not happen this year for Cooper, but it will eventually, you can count on that.

9. Carey Mulligan – I’m sure it surprises a lot of people that Mulligan only has one nomination, which was in Best Actress for An Education. She just missed in Supporting Actress when her strong work in both Drive and Shame essentially canceled each other out. This year she’ll hope that her performances in Far From the Maddening Crowd and Suffragette don’t do the same to her. Regardless, despite the solo citation previously, she’s due to take home the gold one day.
8. Will Smith – Here’s a case of someone who can not only remind the Academy of his existence, but cement his status as one of the all time great A-listers with a win. Previously nominated in Best Actor for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, that elusive victory has escaped him so far. This year he has Concussion, which is a pretty baity premise. Taking the Actor prize would certainly put him up there as one of our best movie stars ever, but either way…he’s due.
7. Jessica Chastain – Few […]

“5 to 7″: The Best of the First Third of 2015

Ahoy! With it now being May, we’ve officially finished up with the first third of the year. As such, I wanted to highlight the best of the year so far, consisting of my top ten and various awards for 2015 to date. Much like last time, when I did the first quarter of the year, I’m mostly limiting it to things that have already hit theaters. My only exception is that I’m including titles from the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival. There are some others from last year that I’m fond of and might have otherwise included, but I didn’t want to cheat too badly, so they’re on hold. Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff…
Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2015. Here you go, and enjoy:
10. Amira & Sam – Much like I said last time out, this is one of the bigger surprises this year for me so far. I really did fall hard for this romantic dramedy. Not only does it give Martin Starr his best and most dramatic role to date, it also crafts one of the better movies about New York that I’ve seen in the past few years. It was cruelly under-seen earlier this year, but I hope this recommendation does its part to fix that when it hits home video next week.
9. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Without question, this documentary is taking aim at a slightly easy target in the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, but tons of incredible claims come out of it all the same, as I said the last time I spoke about it. Director Alex Gibney isn’t doing his best work ever, but it’s still an angry and passionate bit of work. The ratings when it played on HBO were through the roof, so it definitely caught on.
8. ’71 – To reiterate, this was a title that I first saw at NYFF 2014 but had it stick with me well into 2015. This war drama is the best tale of survival starring Jack O’Connell yet, and yes, I know that Unbroken exists too (that only furthers my argument). This is a small scale and gritty flick that manages to really captivate you. Another barely seen title that I want to shine a light on. Go seek it out […]

“5 to 7″ and “It Follows”: The Best of the First Quarter of 2015

Time flies. Believe it or not, we’re now three full months into the 2015 movie calendar, which means we’re literally a quarter of the way through the film slate. That got me thinking about what the best of the bunch so far this year has been. Since now is the time when the film slate begins to transition into summer flicks (cough, Furious 7, cough) and counter programming independent fare, I thought it was the perfect time to praise the best of 2015 so far. Basically, anything that hit screens between January 1st and March 31st will be up for grabs here for my personal honors. I do have one release from this weekend that I’ve included, but only because of how eager I am to talk about it. Other than that, there’s no cheating…I swear!
Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2015. Here you go, and enjoy:
10. The Rewrite – A charming and simple Hugh Grant film, it likely would have been a hit had it come out a decade ago. Grant is at his wittiest in a while, with J.K. Simmons turning in yet another solid supporting performance as well. It’s nothing to go crazy over, but it’s a quietly enjoyable movie that I’ve already revisited more than once since it hit Blu-Ray and DVD last week.
9. Black or White – Even though this got a qualifying run at the end of 2014, it’s officially a 2015 release, at least in terms of its wide bow, so it counts here in my book. Kevin Costner is fantastic, while Octavia Spencer is very good too in Mike Binder’s latest flick. It made a few bucks, but it definitely deserved a much bigger audience than it received. The film is hardly perfect, but its heart is most certainly in the right place.
8. While We’re Young – I first saw this as the New York Film Festival’s Secret Screening, but it’s just as appealing here in the first quarter of 2015. Noah Baumbach’s most mainstream outing to date, he really gave us a great quartet of characters, ones essayed by Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. It’s not on the level of some of his best films, but I still really liked it.
7. Amira & Sam – One of the bigger surprises this year […]

The 84th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

Once again today I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m going to be truing to do that, time will still tell. Again, if nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.
Alright, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Moneyball
The nominees here for this ceremony were The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. Obviously The Artist took it in real life, and Drive would have been my clear pick had it been nominated, but if I had been a voter my choice would have been between The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball. At the time, The Descendants would have been my pick, but now I think I lean towards Moneyball, so that would wind up getting my vote for Best Picture.
Best Director – Alexander Payne for The Descendants
I’d have voted for Nicolas Winding Refn here for Drive, but unsurprisingly he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Without Refn, I don’t have anyone I’m too wild about, but I think Payne might be the best of the bunch. The aforementioned Refn is easily my personal pick overall, but Payne is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Brad Pitt for Moneyball
In a perfect world, I’d have seen either Michael Fassbender rewarded for Shame, Ryan Gosling in the lineup for Drive, Tom Hardy cited for Warrior, or Michael Parks in for Red State and subsequently any of them would have been my vote (likely Fassbender), but such is life. The actual nominees here though were Demián Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt for Moneyball. The choice of these […]

“Guardians of the Galaxy”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: James Gunn
Written by: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Main Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel (voice), Bradley Cooper (voice), Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Josh Brolin (voice), and more…
Past Oscar relations: Benecio del Toro won Best Supporting Actor for Traffic and the quintet of Josh Brolin, Glenn Close, Bradley Cooper, Djimon Hounsou, and John C. Reilly are all past Academy Award nominees
Folks, here now is a brand spanking new article in this particular ongoing series of mine on 2014 releases hoping to compete for some kind of notable Oscar attention as awards contenders at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here in the series is the Marvel science fiction/superhero epic Guardians of the Galaxy, which is the latest gamble on the part of the studio. If it manages to have crossover appeal between audiences and critics (which so far it has), then there’s some mild potential for it to appeal to the Academy in one way or another.
Obviously, superhero films have a tough time with Oscar, and this is in some ways the hardest sell yet. It’s a humorous sci-fi blockbuster that feels almost more like a joke than a true Marvel outing. At the same time though, it’s just so different that it could appeal to younger voters in a bigger way than usual. James Gunn has certainly made a love letter to Star Wars in a way, and Chris Pratt is cementing himself as an A-list star here. Factor in Bradley Cooper’s scene stealing voice work, and this is the type of movie that stands out from the pack.
What this flick has going in its favor is just how enjoyable it is and how it’s a throwback to the days of Star Wars. It’s almost impossible not to get lost in the sheer summer movie pleasure of this one. Guardians of the Galaxy is so much fun, you barely stop to realize just how well crafted it is. Gunn’s script that he co-wrote with Nicole Pearlman has a ton of heart and the special effects are absolutely top notch. There’s very little not to like here, so if voters give it a fair chance, at least in the technical categories, it deserves a ton of consideration, namely with Best Visual Effects.
Working against Guardians of the Galaxy is that it’s still a […]

Rosamund Pike: 2015 Best Supporting Actress contenders

As you fine ladies and gentlemen all know by now, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions in order to see what folks 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 particular 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 with another of the big acting categories…yes, it’s Best Supporting Actress.
Here are the ten particular women that I have in play for Best Supporting Actress, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) *could go Lead – I also have Pike as a contender in Best Actress, but if she goes Supporting, she very well could win the Oscar this year. David Fincher’s film seems like it could be an acting showcase, so unless you have her in Lead already, there’s absolutely no reason to not have her listed prominently in Best Supporting Actress. It could be her year.
2. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) – The other actress I think is highly in contention to win this category is Chastain. She’ll have some other Lead performances vying for Oscar’s attention, but this seems like the bait and flashy sort of supporting turn that the Academy loves to give a prize to. She’s getting to the point where a win makes a lot of sense, so keep a close eye on her ladies and gentlemen.
3. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) – If there’s one supporting role that will really have critics pulling for a nomination, it’s Arquette’s in Boyhood. I’ve seen the film and know how great she is, so I feel like a nod is very possible. Turning that nom into a win will be a challenge, but she could certainly contend, no doubt about that much.
4. Jena Malone (Inherent Vice) – One of my hunches […]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred […]

Los Angeles Times to be Presenting Sponsor for 2012 Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards Entering their sixteenth year, the Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards announced today that the Los Angeles Times will be the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s festival and star-studded gala.
“We are very honored and excited to have the Los Angeles Times as our Presenting Sponsor,” said founder and CEO Carlos de Abreu. “The Times is a Hollywood institution, and their support and leadership will help take the festival and awards to the next level.”
The festival, which starts October 18, encompasses five days of screenings at ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood and culminates with the prestigious Hollywood Film Awards Gala on October 22. The event honors cherished stars and up-and-coming talent, and traditionally kicks off the film awards season with the biggest stars and top industry executives in attendance. Times publisher and Tribune Company CEO Eddy Hartenstein will present one of the evening’s special awards, with details to be announced next month.
“The Los Angeles Times is Hollywood’s hometown news source and we have been at the forefront of entertainment coverage since trailblazing filmmakers and producers invented the industry,” said Times Vice President, Film Advertising, Francie Berns. “We’re excited to present the first marquee event of the all-important film awards season and support the creative community.”
“We are very proud to be the first stop of the awards season. In the last nine years, a total of 85 Oscar nominations and 32 Oscars were given to the honorees of the Hollywood Film Awards,” said de Abreu.
The 2011 awards show reached a total TV audience of more than 41 million media impressions, in addition to more than 300 million online and print readers’ impressions.
“In addition, we are very happy to continue to bridge the gap between established Hollywood and emerging filmmakers. Craig Brewer, director of “Footloose,” “Hustle and Flow,” and “Black Snake Moan,” was discovered by the Hollywood Film Festival with the world premiere of his first film, “Poor and Hungry,” added de Abreu.
Aside from celebrating accomplishments on screen, the Hollywood Film Awards established the “Hollywood Gives Back” program to expand and continue highlighting and assisting important local and national charities to raise funds. Over the years, the Hollywood Film Awards has contributed to such charities as the following: The Art of Elysium, Artists For Human Rights, Artists for Peace and Justice,, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Enough Project, and Variety The Children’s Charity of So. CA, among others.
Further, the Hollywood Film Awards […]

Hollywood Film Awards Does Some Good – Artists For Peace and Justice Artists for Peace and Justice offer exclusive opportunity to dine with Hollywood A-Listers thanks to Hollywood Film Awards’ Hollywood Gives Back(r).
Ten tables up for grabs for star-studded Hollywood Film Awards® with 100% of proceeds benefiting Haiti’s school system through the Academy for Peace and Justice Los Angeles, California. On October 22, 2012,120 individuals will not only have the exclusive privilege of attending the Hollywood Film Awards®, but by attending, they will be making a difference in the future of children in Haiti.
Through the Hollywood Gives Back(r) initiative, the Hollywood Film Awards® have generously donated ten tables to Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ). Purchasers of the 12 seat tables will wine and dine with Hollywood’s A-list crowd, with 100% of the funds raised from table sales contributed for the construction of a new wing at the Academy for Peace and Justice in Port-au-Prince.

“Currently more than half of Haiti’s population is illiterate, but with the Academy for Peace and Justice, we are working to change the statistics,” said Oscar-winning filmmaker and Artists For Peace and Justice Founder, Paul Haggis. “We are so grateful for The Hollywood Film Awards initiative which is an incredibly generous gift that will support both the education system and the country’s future.”
Created to honor excellence in the art of filmmaking, the 16th Annual Hollywood Film Awards® is a prestigious celebration of the motion picture art form. The launch event of Hollywood’s award season, the celebrity-attended Hollywood Film Awards® Gala Ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel is a night of true star-studded glamor.
Director Paul Haggis at 2011 Hollywood Film Awards Gala
Committed to bringing together established Hollywood celebrities and the global creative community, discovering talented emerging filmmakers, and honoring Hollywood’s finest established professionals, The Hollywood Awards® draws more than 1,000 guests. Prior Hollywood Awards events have included stars such as Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Halle Berry, Orlando Bloom, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Glenn Close, Penelope Cruz, Viola Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., Colin Farrell, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Jamie Foxx, Richard Gere, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Ron Howard, Janet Jackson, Angelina Jolie, George Lucas, Rachel McAdams, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer, Keanu Reeves, Susan Sarandon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Charlize Theron, John Travolta, Naomi Watts, Michelle Williams, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among many others.
APJ is an organization dedicated to encouraging peace and social justice, while addressing issues […]

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