January 03, 2015
        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                Cinematic gifts from 2014                Spotlight on the Stars: Bradley Cooper                Which film will lead the nomination totals for Oscar this year?                A look at some potential first time Academy Award nominees this year                A Mid-December Oscar Predictions Update                Oscars: 9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar® Race                Audiences are missing out on a funny film in Seth Rogen's "The Interview"                Spotlight on the Stars: Christian Bale        

Tag Archives: Human Interest

Bill Murray could upend the Best Actor race with “St. Vincent”

The already overcrowded Best Actor race is about to get even tighter folks. Last night I attended the premiere of St. Vincent and got to see Bill Murray’s performance, which is awards worthy, let me tell you. Murray combines his comedy and drama skills in such a way that I think Academy members might find it hard to resist him. As I’ve said for months now, the Best Actor race is going to be a bloodbath, something that’s only more true now that contenders are screening and performances are showing that they are indeed worthy of consideration. The latest here is Murray’s in St. Vincent, one that could ultimately wind up going a lot further than some think.
For those of you who don’t know, the movie is a comedy/dramedy about a curmudgeonly older man (played by Murray) in Brooklyn who winds up babysitting his frazzled neighbor’s son. He gives him the sort of real world/bad advice you’re used to in things like this, but then the second half of the film goes in a very different direction and winds up tugging at your heartstrings in a big way. Murray obviously stars, with Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts, and Jaeden Lieberher in the other main roles. Theodore Melfi writes and directs.
This is a pretty good film, but it’s Murray who elevates things, along with the cast on the whole. While McCarthy and Watts are strong in roles that are reversed from what they normally do, Murray gets to combine all of his skills to give what I think is one of his top five performances to date. At times he’s channeling his early comedic persona while at other moments he’s playing it completely straight. I won’t spoil things by saying some of the situations where he’s forced to really go dramatic, but he absolutely nails them.
What will help St. Vincent out is of course the fact that Harvey Weinstein is behind it. He knows how to make this sort of push happen, which is only helped by the fact that Murray is out and about promoting it. He’s done Q and A’s, gone to parties, etc…all of which helps to endear him to Academy members. As we all know, voters like to be courted, so if Murray is willing to play the game, that could give him a leg up on some of his competition.
On the flip side, Weinstein […]

Joey Berlin’s Goldmine – Critics Choice Awards

Joey Berlin, who co-founded the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. in 1995 and continues to oversee its day-to-day operations and its televised Critics’ Choice Movie Awards each year, likes to say that his membership seems to be satisfied with the job he’s doing because he’s been repeatedly re-elected every two years as its president.
To read article about CRACKPOT OF THE MONTH – DAVID POLAND – BFCA
The nonprofit group’s latest tax filings show that Berlin also is handsomely paid for his work. The BFCA’s latest IRS Form 990 tax filing shows that Berlin Entertainment, Inc., a company 100 percent owned by Berlin, received $859,077 for production services in 2012, a jump from $376,270 listed on tax forms the previous year.
To read article about CRACKPOT OF THE MONTH – DAVID POLAND – BFCA

Between 2009 and 2012, Berlin Entertainment was paid a total of $1,851,347, according to federal tax documents filed by the nonprofit.
Meanwhile, Berlin’s base compensation and benefits totaled $478,350 in 2012, according to the IRS filing. That compares with $455,230 the previous year.
TO CHECK TAX RETURNS FOR BFCA
The BFCA touts itself as the largest film critics organization in the U.S. and Canada, representing more than 280 television, radio and online critics.
To read prior story about Joey Berlin’s Goldmine and Critics Choice Awards.
To read about CRACKPOT OF THE MONTH – DAVID POLAND – BFCA
The boom in Oscar media coverage has propelled nonprofits like the BFCA into prominence in the run-up to the Academy Awards. Other shows like the Golden Globe Awards, the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Santa Barbara Film Festival actively court potential Oscar nominees and the studios and independent distributors gladly lend their help in supplying stars for their glitzy events hoping to generate Oscar buzz.
In recent years, the Critics’ Choice Awards has attracted numerous stars to its red carpet gala, including George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo di Caprio, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep. They mix and mingle and dine along with broadcast critics from around North America.
In 2012, the year covered by the tax returns, the Critics’ Choice Awards were held at the Hollywood Palladium and broadcast by VH1. The winners that year were “The Artist” for best picture, George Clooney for best actor in “The Descendants” and Viola Davis for best actress in “The Help.” Michel Hazanavicius won best director for “The Artist.”
This year’s Critics’ Choice Awards was broadcast live on the CW Network from […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Actress

As I’ve been mentioning over the last few weeks or so, with the festival season well underway and just about all of the major contenders for the Academy Awards having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to move forward and take a look at the big eight categories to see what’s what in an updated/more expanded fashion. I did this with the major categories a couple of months back, but that was when almost everything was still speculation. We have some facts to go on now, so while much of this is still just an educated guess, I’m not completely relying on overt hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film/director/performer in question, of course. Today I’m turning my attention once again to the Best Actress field, which is another category that won’t necessarily match up with Best Picture in any major way, but likely won’t be too far off either. Read on to see what I mean for this one…
One special note about Best Actress this year is that, on the flip side to best Actor, it’s a fairly barren race. Each of the ten women that I have cited as the ones with the best chance at a nomination have some chance at a nod, but only a few of them can realistically win. It’s going to be interesting to see if any surprise noms wind up shaking up this category when all is said and done…
Here are the ten ladies that I have in play for Best Actress currently, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point and time:
1. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) – If you ask a dozen pundits who the frontrunner is in Best Actress, you’ll probably get one of about five answers (hint, my top five), but if you ask me, I think this could turn into a walk for Jones. It’s just a hunch, but Oscar loves their supportive wives, something this performance apparently does incredibly well. Jones in the sweet spot of the age the Academy enjoys honoring, so that doesn’t hurt too. We have a long way to go before anyone in this category starts to separate themselves from the pack, but at this juncture, I’m backing Jones ever so slightly.
2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) – Now that folks are able to see […]

‘Inherent Vice’ looks to shake up the Oscar race

One of the bigger X factors still to be unveiled this awards season is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. With a Trailer that just dropped last night (I’ll post it at the bottom of this piece) and a World Premiere this weekend at the New York Film Festival (where I will be in attendance), now seems like the perfect time to discuss how it might fare with Oscar. Frankly, this is one of the hardest contenders to figure out, so things are really up in the air for it. It could either become a major player that stands out from the crowd or it could wind up little more than a critical darling that the Academy doesn’t take a shine to. The odds are about even right now.
For those of you who aren’t aware what this is, Anderson adapted the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name, a comedic mystery tale set within the Los Angeles drug culture of the early 1970’s. Joaquin Phoenix stars as private investigator searching for his ex-girlfriend and being harassed at basically every turn by a police detective. Phoenix is the lead, while newcomer Katherine Waterston plays the ex and Josh Brolin is the cop. Other cast members include Benicio del Toro, Jena Malone, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Michael K. Williams, Owen Wilson, and Reese Witherspoon, making for a pretty strong ensemble.
Awards wise, this has the potential to show up everywhere. Obviously, the majors like Best Picture, Best Director (for Anderson), Best Actor (for Phoenix), Best Supporting Actor (likely for Brolin, but maybe Wilson as well), Best Supporting Actress (for Malone, Waterston, and/or Witherspoon), and Best Adapted Screenplay (also for PTA) are on the table, while technical categories like Best Cinematography (it’s shot by Robert Elswit, who won an Oscar working with the filmmaker on There Will Be Blood), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, and Best Original Score (if Johnny Greenwood isn’t ruled ineligible again this year) are certainly in play. This is the sort of film where a double digit nomination total could be had if everything breaks right.
On the flip side though, the movie has been described as being similar to The Big Lebowski in a way, which likely won’t endear it to the Academy. Others have called it a classy stoner comedy, another destination that won’t attract voters automatically. I’m not sure that anyone has […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Denzel Washington

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at pretty much one of the definitions of an A-list actor. He’s Denzel Washington, a two time Academy Award winning thespian and giant in the industry. Washington does more than just act of course, he’s an iconic movie star, there’s no doubt about that. If anyone is right for this sort of a spotlight, it’s him.
Washington got his start in TV movies, but on the big screen he made his first mark with Cry Freedom, which also got him nominated for Best Supporting Actor, his first nomination of what would become a half dozen (and counting). That established him as an up and comer, leading to his television role on the show St. Elsewhere, which ran for half a decade. That would open up some major film roles, including Glory, where he received his second Best Supporting Actor nomination and also took home his first Oscar. Washington was on his way to the A-list.
He next began his long collaboration with Spike Lee when he appeared in Mo’ Better Blues. A few years later, he’d get his third Oscar nomination and first appearance in Best Actor for his work as the lead in Malcolm X. Big time Hollywood roles were next, including The Bone Collector, Courage Under Fire, Crimson Tide, Fallen, The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Remember the Titans, and The Siege. He also worked with Lee again in He Got Game and scored another Best Actor nod for his baity work in biopic The Hurricane. Washington was officially a star.
His next major role came with Training Day, which won him his second Oscar, this time for Best Actor. Washington had become a juggernaut, able to act in pretty much whatever he pleased. That led to a run of work that was a bit hit or miss (though never boring), including 2 Guns, American Gangster, The Book of Eli, Deja Vu, Inside Man, John Q, The Manchurian Candidate, Man on Fire, Out of Time, Safe House, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and Unstoppable. At the same time though, he also made Flight, which got him his most recent nom in Best Actor.
This week, he stars in The Equalizer, a remake of the 80’s TV program and a very strong crowd pleaser (I enjoyed it quite a bit). Washington kicks some solid ass here, but he also plays a slightly […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Picture

With the festival season well underway and a good portion of the contenders for Best Picture having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the category and see what’s what in an expanded fashion. I did this with the major categories a few months back, but that was when almost everything was still speculation. We have some facts to go on now, so while much of this is still just an educated guess, I’m not completely relying on hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film in question, of course.
Here now are ten movies that are sitting the prettiest in my mind right now for Best Picture:
1. Gone Girl – The highest profile unseen player gets my number one spot at this point and time. If it hits during its upcoming Opening Night spot at the New York Film Festival, then we could have a real frontrunner on our hands. David Fincher is overdue to have an Oscar winner in my book, so with the right reception, this could go where The Social Network came so close to going. Until proven otherwise, I’m going to stick with this one as potentially the one to beat.
2. Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Even though the love fest for this one died down a bit between the start of the Venice Film Festival and the end of the Toronto Film Festival, it’s still sitting pretty. A Closing Night spot at New York will keep it in the conversation too. Especially with Michael Keaton potentially being the top dog in Best Actor, you really can’t bet against this one being a huge player all across the board.
3. Foxcatcher – The buzz has quieted down a bit, but slow and steady could still ultimately win the race. Bennett Miller’s tale was initially a frontrunner, but now has faded a bit due to newer players, but something tells me that this will move up again before all is said and done. Watch out for Steve Carell especially, regardless of whether he ends up in the Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor race.
4. The Imitation Game – The past week or two has seen this biopic/period piece become not just a major player, but also likely Harvey Weinstein’s horse to back. Benedict Cumberbatch appears likely to […]

Hollywood Film Awards 3-1/2 hour Broadcast Event on CBS

CBS To Create 3-1/2 Hour Broadcast Event Beginning with Red Carpet Pre-Show at 7:30, the Awards Show at 8:00pm and Capping the Night with a Live Post-Show at 10:00 PM Hosted by “CBS This Morning’s” Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell
The HOLLYWOOD FILM AWARDS®, which honors excellence in filmmaking, will make its television debut live from the Hollywood Palladium on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 (8:00-10:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. To celebrate the ceremony’s premiere, CBS will expand its primetime Friday night lineup, beginning at 7:30 PM (live ET/delayed PT) with a red carpet pre-show and capping the night with a star-studded one-hour post-show at 10:00 PM (live ET/delayed PT) hosted by “CBS This Morning’s” Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell.
“We’re excited to schedule an expanded Friday night lineup to celebrate the kick-off of the annual awards season with the first live broadcast of the Hollywood Film Awards,” said Nina Tassler, Chairman CBS Entertainment. “For almost two decades, the evening has been limited to industry insiders. Teaming with Dick Clark Productions and CBS News, we look forward to giving viewers across the country a front row seat to the entire night, from red carpet arrivals to honorees’ backstage reactions.”
“CBS is the perfect partner to embrace the Hollywood Film Awards’ 17-year legacy of honoring Hollywood cinema luminaries with an unprecedented night at the network,” said Carlos de Abreu, founder of the Hollywood Film Awards. “With dick clark productions, the leader in live television events, we hope to create a night that gives viewers a look into one of the most glamorous events of the year, while honoring our commitment to recognize stellar film-makers and launch the award season.”
The HOLLYWOOD FILM AWARDS, founded in 1997 by Carlos de Abreu, is traditionally seen as the official launch of the Hollywood awards season, with some of the world’s biggest stars in attendance.
The recipients of the awards are identified and selected by an Advisory and Selection team of film industry insiders and executives, and are based on the honorees’ body of work and/or a film that is to be released during the calendar year.
The special half-hour red carpet show will feature interviews with the stars as they arrive (7:30-8:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) for the evening.
Following the Awards broadcast, CBS News will continue the […]

The Best of the first two thirds of 2014

Can you believe that it’s the end of August already? Yes, by the time this weekend comes to a close, it’ll be September and two thirds of the year will be gone. As such, I figured I would do something you won’t see many other places…an article on the best of the first two thirds of 2014. Eight months have passed in the year and we’ve only got the top tier Oscar contenders left to see, so it felt natural to run down what’s been top drawer from the rest of the bunch. I’ll be giving you a look at what my current top ten of the year so far looks like, as well as what my own personal awards ballot at this juncture would look like. Hopefully it’s something fun that you enjoy reading…I know it’s the sort of thing that I enjoy writing!
As a note, I’ve included everything I’ve seen so far in 2014 (something approaching 200 films), regardless of if it’s been released yet. There’s one exception to that which I explain below, but aside from that it’s all there for you to see in black and white.
The Top Ten of the Year So Far:
10. The Lego Movie – Up until the third act reveal, I was wondering why this animated film was as beloved as it was. Then, I understood why, and this became so much more than a high energy bit of fun. This is clearly the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, and it deserves every single award it’s likely to receive.
9. Begin Again – Though not quite as phenomenal as Once, filmmaker John Carney has another winner here in this musical dramedy. Both Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are excellent, plus there’s once again tremendous music on display. I’ve praised this one a lot before, but it’s a winner…plain and simple.
8. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – I’m combining all three versions of this project here (Him, Her, and Them), one that I’m going to be talking about more soon, in order to praise how unique it is. Filmmaker Ned Benson, along with leads Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy have partnered on a love story that’s unlike any other. Stay tuned for more on this movie, but trust me when I say that it’s something to be on the lookout for.
7. Chef – An incredibly pleasing little gem from Jon Favreau, it’s quickly become […]

A “Shutter Island” TV show is in the works…could it be the next “True Detective”?

With the Emmy Awards tonight (and no, I won’t be predicting them…I don’t watch nearly enough television to know what I’m talking about), I figured this was an interesting subject. It came out earlier today that HBO and Paramount were working with Shutter Island filmmaker Martin Scorsese and original novel writer Dennis Lehane to turn that movie into a television series. The TV show is potentially going to be called Ashecliffe and is chock full of potential to me. Frankly, I think it could be television’s next big thing, perhaps even on the cinematic level of True Detective. That show could be on the verge of winning some Emmys in a few hours, so could this new one in development possibly be in the running at some point in the future?
I think it’s the involvement of Scorsese specifically that has me excited. While I never really watched Boardwalk Empire (which was a baby of his as well), the little bit I saw was very strong. Scorsese would reportedly at least direct the pilot of this show, so he’d have a major hand in initially shaping the world, so that’s another plus. Considering the long and fruitful relationship that the filmmaker has with both HBO and Paramount, I’d imagine he’ll have as much freedom as he requires here.
Obviously, my high praise of True Detective also comes into play here. HBO knows that they did something special with that show, at least beginning to bridge the gap between the big and small screen. Taking a cinematic property like Shutter Island and turning it into a series that isn’t constrained by a two hour or so time limit and still can look like a film, that’s got to at least partially be the goal here. At least, I sure hope that it is.
Personally, Shutter Island isn’t my favorite Scorsese movie ever, but it’s a solidly entertaining one and a flick that could easily translate to a weekly series. I’d imagine it won’t revolve around any of the characters from the film, so don’t expect to see Leonardo DiCaprio or Ben Kingsley or Mark Ruffalo here, but I suspect that it’ll focus on the inner workings of the mental hospital as well as potentially the odder aspects of the island itself. Combine that with the fact that it’ll most likely be a period piece and there’s tons to chew on here with Ashecliffe.
Especially if […]

“Love Is Strange”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Ira Sachs
Written by: Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias
Main Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Tatyana Zbirovskaya, and more…
Past Oscar relations: John Lithgow is a two time Best Supporting Actor nominee (Terms of Endearment and The World According to Garp, while Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny and also has two other Supporting Actress nominations (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and The Wrestler) to her credit
Today is another brand new article in this ongoing series of mine concerning the 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of notable Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here folks is the Sundance romantic drama Love Is Strange, which hopes to be the latest love story to transition from Park City to the Academy’s heart. Can it do it? Let’s discuss below…
This film follows a same sex couple played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in the later years of their life as they’re about to get married in New York City. Life then makes things less comfortable than they’re used to, but I don’t want to say much more than that. Marisa Tomei also co-stars and well regarded filmmaker Ira Sachs co-writes (along with Mauricio Zacharias) and directs here. The ingredients are in place for something that voters could take a shine to, that’s for sure.
What this flick has going in its favor is the strong reviews and tremendous acting on display. It’s a very well done story, rightly getting all of the praise that it’s been getting. Lithgow and Molina especially are top notch, doing some of their best work in some time. Lithgow hasn’t been nominated in some time and Molina has criminally never been cited, so one or both of them certainly could be in play. Both deserve consideration in either Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, depending on what a campaign sees as the smart play, while the screenplay itself has an outside chance at being recognized. If Academy members are as moved as critics were at Sundance and also the Tribeca Film Festival, it could be a real player.
Working against Love Is Strange is the fact that it’s a Sundance release that potentially could be lost in the shuffle. We’re about to see a ton of high profile Oscar contenders descend on voters in the next few months, so something small like […]

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