April 20, 2014

Tag Archives: Human Interest

Oscars®: The Top 25 (Best Visual Effects)

Continuing on with a new weekly series I’m doing here at the site…we’ll be talking the top 25 Oscar winners in just about every single one of the Academy Award categories out there. Aside from the shorts and something like Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing like I mentioned previously, I’ll be hitting them all over the coming weeks and months, including of course the big eight categories. I’m also potentially going to do one that doesn’t exist (a fictitious Best Ensemble category), but that’s just an idea I currently am toying with. We’ll see about that one.
Today I’ll be knocking off another one of the technical categories, with this one being the always interesting Best Visual Effects field. Depending on the category in question, I may wind up discussing the individual winners I’m citing pretty specifically or just giving more of a broad overview of the winners, but for now, I’ll still keeping it simple early on. Like I said over the past few weeks though, in all honesty, you all mostly just want to see the list anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that particular regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the next few paragraphs…
This time around, I’m just going the overview route, since seeing is believing for this category more than anything else. Also it really just depends on what sort of effects you prefer. We’ve got traditional in camera effects, blended animation, computer generated effects, and of course motion capture as well. Some folks might be partial to the older winners, while some really get it up for the newest winners. Me? Well, I’m caught somewhere in between.
I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date is
Jurassic Park, which captured the imagination in a way that few other works have ever been able to do. Some other recent and groundbreaking winners in my top echelon include Avatar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Gravity. In most of those cases, they basically invented new technology for their films, and that’s worth something to me. I also have the unique Who Framed Roger Rabbit high up, as well as the immortal classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Those movies have stood the test of time in a big way. I also have a personal favorite flick [...]

Lionsgate Extends Deal with Grindstone

Lionsgate, whose recent success has been fueled by “The Hunger Games” franchise, has extended its long-term relationship with Grindstone Entertainment by signing new multi-year agreements with Grindstone President and CEO Barry Brooker and principal Stan Wertlieb, it was announced Thursday.
Grindstone’s films include the thrillers “Empire State,” starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, and “Frozen Ground,” starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack.
”They are an important part of the Lionsgate family and a key component of our slate,” Lionsgate Co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Steve Beeks. “We expect them to continue to serve as a reliable source of profitable films featuring world-class talent in the years to come and, as they continue to evolve as a label, we look forward to elevating our Grindstone relationship to the next level.”

Rooney Mara: Angry Fans Protest Tiger Lily Casting

It seems that some film fans are upset over Warner Bros.’ decision to cast Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in a new version of the Peter Pan story.
More than 5,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for a Native American actor to be handed the role, according to Britain’s the Guardian.
“This casting choice is particularly shameful for a children’s movie,” the newspaper quotes the petition as stating. “Telling children their role models must all be white is unacceptable.”
Mara reportedly beat out Lupita Nyong’o, the Mexican-Kenyan star who won a best supporting actress Oscar for “12 Years a Slave,” and Adele Exarchopoulous of France, whose performance in “Blue is the Warmest Color” was widely acclaimed, the newspaper reports.
Hugh Jackman is also set to star in the Peter Pan film. Directed by Joe Wright, the film is expected to be released in July, 2015, the Guardian adds.

Is Steve Carell on his way to becoming an Oscar favorite?

One of the 2014 Oscar contenders I’m most looking forward to is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which stars Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum. I’ll be getting more in depth into that one later on this year, but after the news this week that Carell has also added another project to his slate that screams “nominate me”, I’ve started to think about where his career could be headed. In short, could Carell be an Oscar nominee and/or a winner within the next year or two?
This new project that he’s involved in is called The Priority List and is a drama about a teacher dying of cancer attempting to go on the road and reconnect with his students while making the most of his last days. If there was ever a plot that seems tailor made for a Best Actor nomination, it’s this one. Of course, we don’t know who’s writing or directing or costarring yet, and that can make a big difference (I don’t even know if the book is any good, just that it’s a true life tale, and voters tend to dig on that), but it’s just the right sort of role for a comedic actor to tackle as they transition to a more dramatic stage of their career.
Carell has shown dramatic skill before, though usually in more dramedy style roles such as the supporting turn of his in Little Miss Sunshine. Even over the last few years, a lot of his choices have been more in the quietly funny or even more dramatic than humorous realm, almost as if he’s been prepping for this transition deliberately. Foxcatcher will be by far his darkest and most serious role to date, and that should set him up nicely for this upcoming drama The Priority List.

This year will have Carell almost certainly in contention with the aforementioned Foxcatcher, though we don’t know yet if it’ll be a Lead or Supporting performance. Regardless, The Priority List is a clear Lead and showcase piece, so imagine if, two years from now, we’re talking about how Carell won Best Supporting Actor and then the very next year won Best Actor? It’s not as laughable (no pun intended) a prospect as you might think. Matthew McConaughey after all is now being looked at as a perpetual threat to get nominated, and consider what Jim Carrey’s Oscar career could have been like if he’d been [...]

Oscars®: Will either of the movies about doppelgangers be up the Academy’s alley?

Today, a small movie called Enemy opened in limited release, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and, well…Jake Gyllenhaal. In May, another small flick called The Double comes out, and that one stars Jesse Eisenberg alongside, you guessed it…Jesse Eisenberg. 2014 seems to be the year of the doppelganger, in addition to biblical epics as I mentioned a week or so ago. These are acting showcases through and through, so could Oscar bite for one or both of them? Honestly, I think they’re both too offbeat and weird for Academy attention, so instead of doing specific preview pieces on them and just going through the motions of talking about a likely to be ignored pair of films, I wanted to sort of discuss both of them a bit here in this sort of an article. These could be independent contenders for other awards, so it’s important to give the pair a moment in the sun here, if nothing else.
First up we have Enemy, which is partially notable for being the other movie that Gyllenhaal shot with his Prisoners director Denis Villenueve (and actually was filmed first, though it’s coming out this year as opposed to last…both played festivals around the same time however). Written by Javier Gullón and costarring Mélanie Laurent and Sarah Gadon, this is a very dreamlike and Kafka-esque (you’ll understand why if you see it) look at identity. Gyllenhaal plays a teacher who sees a doppelganger of his when watching a movie and set out to meet the man. Things obviously don’t go as intended. This is a psychosexual thriller of sorts and about as far from mainstream as it gets. That being said, it’s impeccably made by Villenueve and expertly acted, so an open minded audience member or Oscar voter could find something to like here, particularly in terms of Gyllenhaal’s performance(s).
Now we come to The Double, which is co-written (along with Avi Korine) and directed by Richard Ayoade. Eisenberg costars here with Sally Hawkins, Wallace Shawn, Mia Wasikowska, Chris O’Dowd, and Noah Taylor, to name a few. This is a pitch black comedy about a meek office drone driven mad by the appearance of a smooth talking doppelganger who at first seems interested in helping him before attempting to take over his life. This is very much a dark comedy that almost seems uninterested in laughs, so that immediately will turn off some voters, but Eisenberg has rarely [...]

Oscars®: Which acting winner is most likely to win again, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey?

When the most recent Academy Awards were given out a few weeks ago (it both feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago already), we crowned first time winners in first time nominees Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), and Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave), while former winner and multiple nominee Cate Blanchett took home her second Oscar (Best Actress for Blue Jasmine). The fact that the majority of the group had never even been nominated before got me thinking…which of them is most likely to be like Blanchett and win again?
First of all, it’s possible that Blanchett could be next in line to win, giving her three Oscar victories, just like Meryl Streep. She always does phenomenal work and the Academy never hesitates to nominate her, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if she wound up winning again. Next up for her is a film with Todd Haynes, and that could be pretty baity on its own. You never want to predict a third Academy Award for anyone, considering how rare that is, but if anyone out there can get there, it’s probably Blanchett. Especially if she ever works with Woody Allen again like she did here with Blue Jasmine…watch out.
Next in line, you have to think that McConaughey is just getting started. He came close-ish last year to a nomination for Magic Mike and this year he also had Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street in contention, so there’s no shortage of his roles under consideration. With upcoming projects uniting him with Christopher Nolan and Gus Van Sant, it’s a stretch to think that another nomination at least isn’t in his future, if not a win. We’re in the middle of the so called McConaissance, so I think he’s going to become an Academy favorite for some time.
As for Leto, it really depends on if he focuses on music or movies going forward. He’s equally talented at both, so if he makes himself available for films, I could certainly see voters citing him again. He’s proven himself previously with work like Requiem for a Dream, so Dallas Buyers Club was basically just a reminder of his skills. As long as he continues to consistently act, I can see him being on the Oscar radar. We’ll see though.
Lastly, in the case of [...]

Could ‘True Detective’ have been an Oscar player if it were a film?

I don’t watch a lot of television, honestly. Most of my time is filled up with movies…for obvious reasons. Every so often though, a show catches my eye, and True Detective was one of those. Eight episodes later, I think I saw an all time great TV series. Since I’m a film guy though, it got me thinking about the awards chances of the show, particularly if it had been one long movie (lets say three hours instead of the eight it actually is) instead. Yes, we all know it’ll do well with the Emmys and Golden Globes next year, but could it have been an Oscar player too?
If True Detective had been an epic motion picture instead of an anthology television series, I truly believe that it would have caught the Academy’s attention. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but considering how the show wrapped up the season, I feel like it would have been a surefire Best Picture nominee and perhaps even a winner. It’s an incredibly dark show, but the final moments brought in some unexpected optimism, and Oscar voters love a happy ending, as we all know. Since both No Country for Old Men and The Silence of the Lambs both won Best Picture, a show that has much in common with both (to me at least) could very well have followed in their footsteps with the big prize.
Among the actors, both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson would be surefire nominees for Best Actor, with McConaughey undeniably a frontrunner (perhaps both of them if Harrelson went Supporting). The women on the show weren’t handled quite as well, but Michelle Monaghan really did shine when she had opportunities, so I could definitely have seen a Best Supporting Actress citation coming her way.
You can’t leave out director Cary Joji Fukunaga and writer Nic Pizzolatto, who saw this vision through to the end. Fukunaga made a visual rich show that looked better than some of the most beautiful films of last year, while Pizzolatto created a dense procedural that turned out in the end to be a poignant character study. If that’s not Oscar friendly, I don’t know what is. One or both could have won, though I’d have expected Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations for both.
Down the line, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing would be locks too, especially considering the now famous long take featuring [...]

Oscars: The Top 25 (Best Cinematography)

HOLLYWOOD NEWS NETWORK: Another new weekly series I’m going to be doing surrounds the top 25 Oscar winners in just about all of the categories. Aside from the shorts and something like Best Sound Mixing, I’ll be hitting them all, including of course the big eight categories. For starters though, I figured I’d go with one of the most highly regarded of the technical categories…Best Cinematography. Depending on the category, I may discuss the individual winners I’m citing specifically or just sort of give a broad overview of the winners, but for now, I’ll keep it simple. Honestly though, you all mostly want to see the list anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there. Just be patient over the next few paragraphs…
There are few categories more overtly artistic than this one, though the category has undergone some major changes over the decades. Up until 1967, the category was mostly split between black and white and color (though before 1936 there was only one award, since almost every movie was in black and white), so there were two Oscars given out before then, which gives you more winners than usual to sift through. Also of late, the trend has moved to rewarding 3D productions. In fact, only 3D works have won over the last few years, though time will tell if that’s what continues in the years going forward.
Among the black and white winners, the best in my book include Boris Kaufman for On the Waterfront and Robert Krasker for The Third Man, to name just a few. As for the 3D winners, the best so far is probably our most recent winner Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity, though that’s going to be an evolving group in the years to come, so we’ll see how that holds up in a decade or so. For now though, Lubezki is on top in that regard.
My personal favorite bit of Oscar winning cinematography to date has got to be Janusz Kamiński’s work on Schindler’s List, though I’d also put Kamiński’s work in Saving Private Ryan up pretty high to, so I think we can figure out who my favorite winner is here (though Conrad Hall gives him a run for his money with two top notch winners cited by yours truly on the list to come as well) . Honestly, a lot of my favorites are bits of cinematography that either were nominated [...]

Coming Soon: More Producer Credit Glut!

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
When you ask indie producer Luillo Ruiz how his recent low-budget action-comedy film Welcome to the Jungle featuring veteran martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme could come with 31 producer credits, his answer is simple and straightforward.
The film’s financiers were given executive producer credits, he said, while others who provided their production skills for less than what they would normally charge accepted other producer credits.
“They are not charging what they are supposed to charge but they are very passionate about bringing their skill to this film and the skills they bring to this film have a cost. That cost you should repay,” Ruiz explained by telephone from Puerto Rico, where his production company, Piemienta, is located and where the film was shot.
In the film, which came out in limited release Feb. 7 and has also been released on DVD, Van Damme plays an unhinged Marine who leads a group of unsuspecting office workers on a survival trek across a jungle-infested island when they find themselves stranded at a corporate retreat.
Ruiz said the shoot took 19 days in Puerto Rico.
According to IMDB, Welcome to the Jungle comes with two producers—Ruiz and L.A.-based Justin Kanew (“The Amazing Race”)—along with 14 executive producers, eight associate producers, four co-executive producers and three co-producers.
Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
But the Van Damme film is not an isolated case of producer credit glut.
Last year, Lee Daniels’ The Butler drew media attention apart from the drama’s strong reviews when it listed 41 producer credits.
The Producers Guild of America co-president Mark Gordon told the entertainment website The Wrap that the 41 producer credits was “a little embarrassing for everyone within our community.”
The PGA has been fighting producer credit bloat for years and now has a certification process in place to protect the integrity of the producer credit.
According to the PGA, once a producer’s work on a film is certified by the guild, the “Produced by” credit and producers name will be followed by the distinctive mark: “p.g.a.” All the major studios have signed on to the process as well as many independent producers.
In the days and weeks to come, Hollywood studios and independent distributors will be releasing all sorts of films that are crammed with producer credits. For example:
*Fifteen producer credits on IFC Films’ The Face of Love starring Robin Williams, Ed Harris and Annette Bening.
*Fourteen producer credits on A Birder’s Guide to [...]

Oscars: Why ‘American Hustle’ went home empty handed

One of the more interesting and unlikely developments from this past weekend’s Academy Awards telecast was David O. Russell’s film American Hustle managing to lose in each of the ten categories it was nominated in. Historically, 0-fors almost never happen. Recent examples include Gangs of New York and True Grit, but by and large, if your movie is among the most nominated of the year, it winds up going home with at least a token win. So, how did American Hustle wind up being shut out, and why exactly did it happen?
In short, it was mainly due to the competition. The flick wasn’t nominated in any one particular category where it had an easy road to a win. Maybe if you took away The Great Gatsby from contention, maybe Best Costume Design would have been the place? American Hustle was the runner up in a lot of places, likely including Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, but there wasn’t an obvious place to reward it, so a concerted effort was never made to just honor it in one particular place. The closest things to that was the Supporting Actress race, where Jennifer Lawrence nearly upset Lupita Nyong’o, but that was always going to be a toss up category.
American Hustle probably also suffered to some degree because of the Olympics. That stretched out the season and gave members of the Academy extra time to get around to 12 Years a Slave and to revisit films like Gravity, The Great Gatsby, and Her. With a shorter decision time, Oscar voters who were flirting with Russell’s movie might have just up and committed to it, instead of holding back and ultimately going in a different direction. You never can be sure about something like this, but I have a feeling that over the last week or two, the flick really had its momentum come to a screeching halt.
Personally, I liked the film more than a lot of my colleagues did, so I take no enjoyment in seeing it go home empty handed. That’s just the nature of the business though. There are only so many awards to be given out, and in a super competitive year like this one, something had to give. In a very literal way, the nominations turned out to be the reward for American Hustle.
You have to give the film a great deal of credit though for going [...]

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