April 22, 2014

Tag Archives: Human Interest

The Matrix: The Top 25 (Best Film Editing)

Continuing onward with this weekly series I’m doing here on the site, we’re talking about the top 25 Oscar winners in just about every single one of the Academy Award categories out there for us to talk about. Aside from the short categories and likely something a bit harder to rank like Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing as I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be hitting them all over the coming weeks, including of course the big eight categories, two of which have already received this particular treatment. I’m also potentially going to do one that doesn’t actually exist (a fictitious Best Ensemble category), but that’s just an idea I’m currently toying with. We’ll see about that one, but for now, we’ll stick to reality and the categories currently endorsed by the Academy.
Today I’ll be knocking off one more of the technical categories, with this one being the somewhat unsexy but still essential Best Film Editing field. Depending on the category in question, I may wind up discussing the individual winners I’m citing rather specifically or just giving a more broad overview of the winners. Like I’ve been saying over the past few weeks, in all honesty, you really just want to see the end result list anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the next couple paragraphs…
This time around, I’m again just going with the overview route. Film Editing is another type of category where you sort of know it’s good by seeing it in the films themselves. There are a few different types of editing that the Academy has honored, though sometimes they can fall into the trap of going for “most” instead of best, if that makes sense. For example, you can see in certain winners that the editing is smooth and you’re almost not meant to notice it all, while other winners want to constantly impress you with their flashy approach to editing. I’m not particularly partial to either one, basically just going for what fits the movies best. Sometimes I don’t want to notice the editing at all in the flick, and sometimes I want it to be front and center. It all just depends.
I’ll discuss my top ten a bit now before getting to the list itself. The winner that I think is the best ever happens to be [...]

“American Ultra” – Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg

Production is getting under way in New Orleans on the Lionsgate action comedy “American Ultra” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart.
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh (“Project X”) and written by Max Landis (“Chronicle”), the story revolves around a seemingly hapless and unmotivated stoner (Eisenberg) whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend (Stewart) is suddenly turned upside down when he discovers that he has a secret past as a highly trained, lethal sleeper agent. In the blink of an eye, he is forced to summon his inner action-hero in order to survive.
The cast also includes Topher Grace, Tony Hale, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman and Walton Goggins.
A PalmStar/Likely Story/Circle of Confusion production, the film is produced by Anthony Bregman (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Kevin Frakes, Raj Brinder Singh, David Alpert (“The Walking Dead”) and Britton Rizzio, with Ray Angelic as executive producer.

Carlos de Abreu: Founder of the Hollywood Film Awards

Celebrating 20 years of success. Carlos de Abreu is a “New York Times” bestselling author, producer, screenwriter, brand marketing expert and Internet pioneer.
Carlos de Abreu is of Portuguese descent and was born in Mozambique. He was a jet pilot in the Portuguese Air Force and studied economics at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and film at UCLA.
His vast experience in brand marketing earned him executive positions and contracts with Cartier International, American Express, and the Italian Government among others. He also co-founded the North American Marketing Services, Ltd., an international luxury goods corporation with offices in three continents; North America, Asia and Europe.

In addition, he launched the Hollywood Network® online, an ecosystem of “verticalized” web models, focused on entertainment and Hollywood. Mr. de Abreu’s multiple websites include HollywoodNews.com (http://www.hollywoodnews.com)

Mr. de Abreu’s organization, the Hollywood Network Inc., is an entertainment marketing company – awards, film conferences, festivals, Internet content, live events – which mandate is bridging the gap between established Hollywood and the global creative community and produces/co-produces live events including the prestigious “Hollywood Film Awards®,” and the “Hollywood Gives Back®” project – highlighting and assisting important local and national causes.
According to the “Los Angeles Times” the “Hollywood Film Awards®,” “launch the push toward Oscar and are the kickoff for the awards season.”
He is the co-author of the national and “New York Times” bestseller, “Husband, Lover, Spy: A True Story,” St. Martin’s Press, and “Opening The Doors To Hollywood,” Crown Publishing.
Presently he is writing the novel “The Soulshaker.” His prior works include two screenplays: Mozambique: The Last Good-Bye and Sworn To Silence.

Specialties: Specialized in the Internet, intelligence gathering, entertainment space, live events production – awards, conferences, festivals, plus branding and distribution of luxury goods and jewelry both in the U.S.A. and the global markets.

Robin Wright: Who’s overdue for their first Academy Award nomination?

Much like I wrote about the actors, actresses, and filmmakers in Hollywood who are overdue to win an Oscar a few weeks ago, there are tons in the industry who are way overdue merely for their first nomination by the Academy. Some of them have gotten close in the past, while others have yet to really sniff that sort of acclaim. They’re both newcomers to the business and old hands, with plenty of in between as well. In my eyes, there are some really overdue ones in particular, and I figured I’d cite some of them here in this article. Narrowing it down to just ten is really difficult, but I wanted to mix and match between different members of the industry and attempt to include some who will have 2014 releases in contention, as you’ll see momentarily…
Below you’ll find ten members of the industry who have yet to receive an Oscar nomination, but who I think are closing in on one, perhaps even within the next year. Take a look:
10. Channing Tatum – I know his name raises some eyebrows, and up until recently I wasn’t his biggest fan, but he’s going to have a big Oscar contender in Foxcatcher this year, so while Steve Carell (who we’ll be talking about shortly) and Mark Ruffalo as more likely nominees, it’s hardly out of the question for Tatum to make it in. In fact, if he’s a standout, it’ll be one of those more youth skewing nominations that the Academy sometimes likes to sneak in.
9. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – I’ve long been saying that Gordon-Levitt is overdue for a nomination, despite his relative youth. His writing and directing debut Don Jon only showed off more of his talents, so while he couldn’t make it in for something like (500) Days of Summer, the next few years should most likely result in him joining the Academy as a nominee. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t nominated by the end of the decade.
8. Kevin Smith – While Smith is probably past the point of making things that will appeal to Oscar voters, that doesn’t make him any less overdue in my eyes. I’ll be talking about him in a Spotlight on the Stars piece soon, but his best chance was probably for the Chasing Amy screenplay. A few years ago he made a great film that nobody saw called Red State too, so [...]

Shailene Woodley: Magnolia acquires White Bird in a Blizzard

Magnolia Pictures announced today it has acquired North American rights to White Bird in a Blizzard, a suspenseful drama from writer/director Gregg Araki and starring Shailene Woodley, who is coming off her hit film Divergent, which has grossed $116.6 million to date.
Based on the novel by Laura Kasischke, the story is set in 1988 and revolves around a college-bound teenager whose life is deeply affected by the disappearance of her mother, played by Eva Green.
The ensemble cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane and Angela Bassett.
The film was produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Sebastien K. Lemercier, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Pavlina Hatoupis and Gregg Araki (Kaboom). White Bird In a Blizzard is a Why Not Productions / Desperate Pictures / Orange Studio / Wild Bunch co-production.
“We are longtime admirers of the singular Gregg Araki, who brings his unique vision to this funny, sexy and haunting film,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Shailene Woodley truly shines with a bold and fearless performance that showcases the depth of her talent.”
“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to collaborate with Magnolia, one of the boldest, smartest companies around. White Bird is a true labor of love for me and the most amazing family of actors I’ve ever worked with,” said Araki. “I can’t wait for the world to see the film.”
The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and VP of Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with CAA and Wild Bunch on behalf of the filmmakers. Magnolia is eyeing a release for later this year.
Magnolia Pictures (www.magpictures.com) is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically-integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner andMark Cuban that also includes the Landmark Theatres chain and AXS TV. Recent releases include Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, the killer whale doc Blackfish, Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-Nominated The Hunt, and hit documentaries Muscle Shoals, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Queen of Versailles.
Magnolia’s upcoming releases include Richard Ayoade’s dystopian vision The Double, the raucous Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan, Steve James’ Roger Ebert doc Life Itself, Joe Berlinger’s Whitey Bulger doc Whitey, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas, Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, Norwegian thrillers Pioneer and Ragnarok, and more.

Theory of Everything given release date

Working Title’s romantic drama Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has been given a Nov. 7 exclusive engagements domestic release date by Focus Features, CEO Peter Schlessel announced today.
Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire) helms the film, which explores the excitement of the 1960s for Hawking as he studies at Cambridge University. At the dawn of his brilliant life’s work, Hawking falls passionately in love with arts student Jane Wilde and their relationship leads him through personal and scientific challenges and breakthroughs.
The film is inspired by Wilde’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen with the screenplay written by Anthony McCarten, who is the producer on the film with Lisa Bruce (producer of Working Title’s Mary and Martha) and Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
Redmayne (Les Misérables) will play opposite Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) in the lead roles.
The cast of Theory of Everything also includes two-time Academy Award nominee Emily Watson and David Thewlis (Harry Potter). The creative team includes cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (Lawless), production designer John Paul Kelly (About Time), costume designer Steven Noble (Under the Skin), and film editor Jinx Godfrey (marking her seventh feature with Marsh).
Mr. Schlessel commented, “This extraordinary love story between one of the greatest minds of our time, Stephen Hawking, and his first wife Jane is profoundly moving and inspirational, with heart and humor.”
Focus Features’ successful collaborations with Working Title Films have included such hits as The World’s End, Pride & Prejudice, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; and the Academy Award-winning Anna Karenina and Atonement.
Working Title Films, co-chaired by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner since 1992, is one of the world’s leading film production companies. Founded in 1983, Working Title has made over 100 films that have grossed more than $6 billion worldwide. Its films have won 10 Academy Awards, 35 BAFTA Awards, and prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.
Focus Features (www.focusfeatures.com) makes, acquires, and releases movies from rising and established talent and filmmakers. The company is moving forward with a diverse slate of films, with most being wide releases appealing to a range of moviegoers. Staying true to the company’s roots, the slate will also include several specialty films each year.
Currently in release from Focus Features is the subversive comedy Bad Words, directed by and starring Jason Bateman. In addition to Theory of Everything, upcoming Focus films [...]

Oscars®: Draft Day – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman
Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, Denis Leary, Tom Welling, and many others
Past Oscar relations: Ivan Reitman was nominated for co-producing Up in the Air and Kevin Costner won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for Dances with Wolves
Here now we have the next article in this series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention at the 2015 ceremony. Next up is Ivan Reitman’s Draft Day, which hopes to essentially be the next Moneyball, just with the NFL Draft as its focus. That film was a bit of an aberration, but this one has a bit in common with it, so perhaps the Academy is more open to sports movies than they have been in the past? Reitman has sports film icon Kevin Costner in the lead role, so that’s certainly a plus, along with a strong ensemble that includes Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, and Denis Leary, to name a few. They’re in the service of a fine film, one of the better ones to come out this year so far, in my humble opinion. Being a quality bit of cinema is the first step towards becoming a contender.
What this flick has going in its favor is a crowd pleasing plot and a top notch script, not to mention a great role for Costner to sink his teeth into. Costner always is great in sports films, and this is no exception. Reitman also shows an able hand at drama, something he’s rarely attempted during his illustrious career. As for the screenplay, Black List winning scribes Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman have crafted something that both hardcore football fans like myself and newbies can enjoy equally. Moneyball was able to do this, and that screenplay damn near won an Oscar, so especially in the writing field, this movie should have a chance to contend for a nomination.
Working against Draft Day is that it is a sports movie without an awards centric pedigree. Yes, it has a Black List winning script, but that doesn’t always make a huge difference. Costner also has never been nominated for one of his sports outings, so it’s likely that he won’t break that trend here. That makes it Best Original Screenplay or nada in all likelihood, and having that narrow a focus makes it a dicey proposition. Draft Day [...]

Spotlight on the Stars: Kevin Costner

Here we go with another installment of my Spotlight on the Stars series. Each week, I’ll look at an actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some kind of a way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend (like last week and this week, for example) or just because I feel they deserve to have a moment in the sun, but each time it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to.
For this week’s piece (number three overall so far), I wanted to take a look at our first male actor…Kevin Costner. Some see him as a bit of a has been, but I disagree and not only still see a movie star, but an underrated actor as well. Costner is a throwback to an older generation of actor. Very much a man’s man and a real movie star, but one with a softness to him as well. His best performances have perfectly highlighted that. He can be an excellent action hero, that’s for sure, but I’ve always preferred him as a bit more of a working man, be it as a baseball player or just a middle class Joe like he was in The Company Men.

Yes, his best films often involve sports (particularly baseball), but how is that a knock against him? Especially with the very good Draft Day hitting theaters this weekend, it’s just evidence of him knowing where he really fits and playing to that. From Bull Durham to Field of Dreams to For Love of the Game and Tin Cup (and also The Upside of Anger, where he plays a retired player), the sports genre really seems to serve him well. That being said, he’s hardly out of his element when removed from athletics.
Costner has usually challenged himself more than he’s been given credit for, especially considering his directorial career. He won Best Director and Best Picture for Dances with Wolves, and even his projects that were deemed unsuccessful weren’t for a lack of ambition. He can be a risk taker behind the camera, even as he’s a calming and grounded presence in front of it. That’s particularly on display with Draft Day, even when his character is far from calm.
Overall, Costner is am underrated actor with an undeniable screen presence, like I mentioned above. As he begins to enter somewhat of a Hollywood elder [...]

Oscars®: Under the Skin – Scarlett Johansson – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Written by: Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer, based on the novel by Michael Faber
Main Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, and others
Past Oscar relations: None, though Scarlett Johansson has received four Golden Globe nominations and twice came very close to Academy Award nominations
Here now is the newest article in this series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention. Next up today is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, which hopes to be the sort of heady indie contender that voters every so often can fall under the spell of. Glazer’s acclaimed Sexy Beast wasn’t able to attract enough votes, but can this one do better? Armed with an amazing performance by Scarlett Johansson and some incredible visuals/sound design, Glazer has a magnificent movie, though one that could prove to be a hard sell.
What this flick really has going in its favor is Johansson’s acting and Glazer’s ambition. She’s absolutely phenomenal here, possibly even giving the best performance of her career. It’s a brilliant turn by the talented actress, showing a brand new side to her. Glazer coaxed this out of her and it really turns heads. The film is presented in such a way that Johansson is front and center the whole time, so her success is very much the movie’s as well. She blew me away, quite frankly. In a fair world, she’d be a lock for a Best Actress nomination.
Working against Under the Skin is that the movie is very challenging and will leave some scratching their heads. Nothing is spelled out for you and a lot of the film is presented in a rather obtuse way. At times, it even comes close to pretentiousness, though it never reaches that point. Still, when you make voters work for it, sometimes they opt to just move on to something easier, and I expect that to be the case here with this one. It’s a shame too, since Johansson deserves to win an Oscar for this, but even a nomination will be hard to come by.
So, can this one be a player at all? Simply put, the odds are against it, though the independent precursors will likely love it. Basically, I’d be pretty surprised if it held on until the end of awards season in any substantial way, but stranger things have certainly happened. The flick will really have an uphill battle, but Under [...]

Spotlight on the Stars: Scarlett Johansson

After last week’s look at Jennifer Lawrence, I think this is now going to become another weekly series for me, tentatively called “Spotlight on the Stars”. Each week, I’ll look at an actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend or just because I feel they deserve a moment in the sun, but each time it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to.
For this week’s piece (which is technically the second one in the series, though I didn’t have a snappy name for the inaugural Lawrence one), I wanted to take a look at Scarlett Johansson. To some, she’s merely a pretty face, but when I look at her, not only do I see a beautiful woman, I also see a criminally underrated actress. From her early days as a child star of sorts to this very weekend when she has a wonderfully complex leading role in an independent film called Under the Skin coming out, Johansson has way more to offer than some realize. Folks also don’t always catch on to why she’s chosen some of the projects that she has, but one look at the filmmakers that she’s acted for will give you some clue as to her decisions.
Johansson has worked with directors like Woody Allen, Sofia Coppola, Cameron Crowe, Brian De Palma, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, Christopher Nolan, and Joss Whedon. You can argue that one or two of the movies she did with these auteurs aren’t particularly great, but she’s certainly got an eye for working with talented people. That’s usually the mark of a strong actress with a good head on her shoulders. No one makes perfect decisions all the time, but even when the project might be misguided, usually there’s an A-list director that’s been a part of the decision to sign on.
Just as an actress, she’s got more range than a lot of people give her credit for. Compare her performances in Her, Lost in Translation, Match Point, and now with Under the Skin, and it’s as if there’s a different actress on display each time. Those four Golden Globe nominations didn’t happen by accident, even if sadly it never translated into an Oscar nod. The Academy in particular missed the boat on a nom for either Lost in Translation or Match [...]

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