January 13, 2015
        "Boyhood" emerges victorious at the Globes                Final Golden Globe Awards Predictions                All 24 Oscar® Categories to be announced live                The last minute screenplay controversy for "Whiplash"                Writers Guild of America Announces Nominees                What the PGA nominations mean for the Best Picture race                The films that will sadly be shut out on Oscar nomination morning                Producers Guild of America Announces Nominees                Art Directors Guild Announces Nominees                A January Oscar Predictions Update                American Cinema Editors (ACE) Announces Nominees                2015 releases to look forward to                The best films and performances of 2014                A look at the second spot in each of the main Oscar categories                The late breaking major Oscar contenders of 2014        

Tag Archives: Human Interest

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 […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

This week, I’m turning my attention and the spotlight in the title of this article to one of my favorite actors working today…Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t appreciate this talented multihyphenate. The rare child actor to successfully transition into a respected adult performer, Gordon-Levitt is widely considered to be one of the best young actors that we have in the business. He’s constantly chosen interesting projects and almost never does anything you’d consider to be just a paycheck job. He’s yet to receive an Academy Award nomination, but one suspects that it’s only a matter of time in that regard.
Gordon-Levitt got his start at a young age, first working in television at the tender age of just seven. He’d continue with small parts on the small screen up until he got a few tiny roles in films, including A River Runs Through It. He got his first lead in the remake of Angels in the Outfield, where he was first noticed. If not there, it was when he became a part of the hit TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun. Gordon-Levitt was beginning to make his mark in entertainment, though unlike many child stars, this wasn’t the pinnacle of their careers.
JGL’s screen presence was limited until he won over hearts in 10 Things I Hate About You. He and Heath Ledger made plenty of girls swoon, but critics took note of the talent they had. This film launched many a career, including our subject Gordon-Levitt’s. Plenty of people were excited to see where JGL’s career would go from there, and they weren’t about to be disappointed. He next made an underrated indie called Manic that served as his first pairing with Zooey Deschanel. He worked with Disney after that, voicing the lead in Treasure Planet, then wowed audiences again in Mysterious Skin. He followed that up the next year with another wonderful performance in Brick for Rian Johnson (who’d he’d work with again) and then the under seen crime tale The Lookout. Among his next projects is the underrated Stop-Loss, but at this point, Gordon-Levitt was about to become the star we know him to be now.
It’s impossible to deny how great he is in (500) Days of Summer. I maintain to this day that it was a crime that the flick was snubbed for Oscar love, including for JGL, as well as his […]

“Men, Women & Children”: Jason Reitman and Adam Sandler return to the Oscar race

Earlier today, a teaser trailer dropped for Jason Reitman’s new film, the dark dramedy Men, Women & Children. Based on the book of the same name by Chad Kultgen (which I love), it’s a look at how technology and the internet/social media has changed how we interact with each other, especially when it comes to intimate relations. A chronicle of how this affects both adults and teenagers, it’s some potentially serious stuff. The novel is a pitch black comedy and Reitman has experience in that realm, so if he’s faithfully adapted this work, I think he’s going to be back in the awards race. It might be a little much for Oscar voters to give any wins to, but I think we have another player this season. At the end of this post you can see the trailer in order to understand what I’m talking about, and I highly recommend that you check it out.
If you’re not aware, this movie has a top notch cast. In alphabetical order, you have a mix of stars and up and coming talents that include Kaitlyn Dever, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dennis Haysbert, Dean Norris, Adam Sandler, J.K. Simmons, and Emma Thompson. The official synopsis is this: “MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. The film attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose – some tragic, some hopeful – as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers”. So, yes…not necessarily traditional Oscar bait, but with Reitman’s deft touch, I’m sure this will appeal to some Academy voters out there at the very least, and perhaps many more.
For a while now I’ve been more bullish on this film than most, mainly due to my fondness for Kultgen’s book as well as Reitman’s work to date. It strikes me as a likely contender in a number of categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting […]

Robin Williams: The 10 Best Performances

It’s taken me a little bit to be able to write this piece, honestly. The death of Robin Williams hit myself and most of the industry harder than a celebrity’s passing usually does. Part of it has to do with the fact that it was a suicide, but more than anything it’s just the loss of such a beacon of happiness and humor. Williams struggled with depression, but he made it his mission in life to bring joy to others. As such, I couldn’t not pay tribute to the man, but I wanted to be able to take a little bit of time and think about his work before doing this article.
Below you’ll find Williams’ ten best performances, not counting his genius stand up work, of course.
10. World’s Greatest Dad – An incredibly dark comedy, Williams does some very underrated work in a project that’s really hard to watch now. It involves themes that will hit too close to home, but one day we’ll be able to approach this one again and I hope more people will realize how good he was in it. It’s a black comedy, but Williams anchors it in emotion.
9. Moscow on the Hudson – Another under seen film (and one that has sort of been forgotten ever since The Terminal came out, consider some similarities in plot), Williams got to show range in this one. I hope folks seek this one out now, as it deserves a second look. He’s quite good here, I assure you.
8. Insomnia – The only time Williams went and played a full on villain, and boy is he chilling. He does it in such a calm way, you’re just unnerved. This is a “lesser” Christopher Nolan outing to most, but Williams is easily the best part of it. He aces his part.
7. The Fisher King – Perhaps Terry Gilliam’s crowning achievement (or at least his most underrated), Williams gets to mix his manic energy with some real pathos here. There’s his trademark comedy, for sure, but he’ll also break your heart before all is said and done. This is one of the best mixes of his talents and an absolute must watch.
6. One Hour Photo – It was such a startling sight to see Williams playing such a restrained figure like this one. A tragic villain of sorts, he’s so tightly coiled you keep waiting for him to strike. It’s […]

“American Sniper”: Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood enter the Oscar race

Yesterday it was announced that Clint Eastwood will have a second 2014 release hoping to sway Academy voters, and this one is a far more appealing fit for Oscar. It’s his adaptation of American Sniper, which Bradley Cooper stars in and has championed to the big screen. Cooper in fact initially had Steven Spielberg lined up to direct, but when he had to step away, Eastwood came on board and seemingly has utilized his efficient filmmaking techniques and gotten the project ready for release this year. Instead of coming out in 2015, American Sniper now is prepping for an Oscar qualifying release at the end of December.
For those of you unaware what American Sniper is about, it’s an adaptation of the novel by Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who recorded over 150 kills as a sniper before tragically dying on home turf in a shooting accident. Cooper will play Kyle, while the supporting cast includes the likes of Kyle Gallner, Lucas Grimes, Sam Jaeger, Sienna Miller, and more. The screenplay is by Jason Dean Hall and of course Eastwood is behind the camera. There’s certainly some potential here for awards attention, no doubt about that.
Back when Eastwood made Million Dollar Baby, this same release strategy was used to great effect. That was another film that initially wasn’t on the calendar, but then snuck up on folks. I remember the late Roger Ebert being one of the first to talk about it, saying it was going to win Best Picture, and go figure…it did. It also won Best Actress for Hilary Swank and Best Director for Eastwood, so I’m sure the powers that be are hoping that the same thing can happen here, just substituting Cooper into the Best Actor field instead.
If this film is good, one can certainly see it contending in the Best Picture, Best Director (for Eastwood), Best Actor (for Cooper), Best Supporting Actor (for Grimes perhaps), Best Supporting Actress (for Miller), Best Adapted Screenplay, and various technical Oscar categories. My guess is that Best Picture and Best Actor will be the major plays, as Cooper could look to turn his potential third nomination into his first Academy Award win. That’s just a hunch, but it’s not a total shot in the dark either.
Now, Eastwood hasn’t had the best track record with his movies of late. I’d in fact argue that you have to go back to the […]

Spotlight on the Stars: James Cameron

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

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

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

Spotlight on the Stars: Emma Stone

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a younger A-lister, though one who’s been continually increasing her profile for a number of years now. It’s Emma Stone, one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. She’s basically been on a rocket to the top, with no signs of slowing down. Stone not only has the goods as an actress, she’s got the charisma and personality to match. That’s the kind of combination that allows a star to go far. She’s an A-lister through and through, but one still very much on the upswing of her career. She’s still got plenty more to do, including I suspect…win an Oscar.
Stone is an actress who can shine in just about any role. She got her start with a clever supporting performance in Superbad, the type of performance she’d repeat a number of times from there, though always with enough of a new spin in something like The House Bunny so you weren’t bored with her. Zombieland gave her a chance to help an anchor a movie and she took the ball and ran with it. Her first starring role was Easy A and not only did she receive a Golden Globe nod for that performance, I think she deserved an Oscar nom as well. That was when she hit the A list (no pun intended), though co-starring in Best Picture nominee The Help or both of the newest Spider-Man flicks didn’t hurt either. With very few exceptions, Stone makes excellent choices with her career.
She has managed to charm in both light and heavy fare. Often, she combines the two. Easy A is a perfect example of that. Same with Crazy Stupid Love. She stands out in the crowd. Regardless of what you might think of The Amazing Spider-Man and/or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, her chemistry with co-star and real life co-star Andrew Garfield sparkles. You remember Stone when she’s on screen, even if the material isn’t always her best friend. She makes it work and elevates what’s on the page.
This weekend, Stone has her first collaboration with Woody Allen hitting theaters with Magic in the Moonlight. She gets to recite Allen dialogue and spar with Colin Firth in a really adorable way. Woody certainly agrees, as he’s already cast her in his next movie, where she’ll co-star with Joaquin Phoenix. That might very well be the film that gets her […]

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