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: james cameron

R.I.P. James Horner: A top tier contributor to cinematic music

It was with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the death of composer James Horner at just 61 years old. Horner died in a plane crash, piloting a small aircraft that went down a day ago in California. The composer is a multiple Oscar winner, taking home Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for Titanic, marking just one of his many collaborations with filmmaker James Cameron. All told, Horner was nominated by the Academy ten times, with various other nominations and wins to his credit. He was a well respected musician and giant in the industry, so he will certainly be missed in a big way.
Horner was cited by the Academy for his work on not just Titanic, but also Aliens, An American Tail, Apollo 13, Avatar, A Beautiful Mind, Braveheart, Field of Dreams, as well as House of Sand and Fog. All of the nods came in Best Original Score, except for ones in Best Original Song for An American Tail (the song Somewhere Out There) and with one of his wins for Titanic (for his work making My Heart Will Go On happen). Those Original Score and Original Song noms just scratch the surface of Horner’s talents, but it gives you an idea just how beloved he was in Hollywood. This is truly a loss, and that’s putting it mildly.
Here’s how I’d quickly rank his ten best scores to date, though honestly everything he did was pretty top notch. You can’t go wrong with anything of his, but these scores from Horner really stand out from the rest, at least for me. No list is wrong, but off the top of my head, this is what mine would look like:
10. Windtalkers
9. A Beautiful Mind
8. Braveheart
7. Avatar
6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
5. Titanic
4. Deep Impact
3. Apollo 13
2. Field of Dreams
1. Aliens
Honorable Mentions: The Amazing Spider-Man, Courage Under Fire, and Legends of the Fall
That list above makes for quite a career, right? Just think, that top ten list doesn’t even include An American Tail, Courage Under Fire, Glory, House of Sand and Fog, Jumanji, The Land Before Time, Legends of the Fall, The Rocketeer, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, or Troy. You could easily go 25 deep on his catalogue and only be talking about scores that you’ll recognize as some of the industry’s best. My honorable mentions merely scratch the […]

The 82nd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

As I mentioned last time out, this series has officially returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent (or now recent-ish) 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 attempting to do just that, time will still tell if it’s something that gets stuck with or not. Again, if nothing else, this continues to give 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 then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks for this particular ceremony:
Best Picture – Up in the Air
The nominees here were A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up. The main snub here, in my book at least, was (500) Days of Summer, and I nearly went with the actual winner in The Hurt Locker, but Up in the Air was my #1 film of this year, so that made it pretty academic in the end.
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
A history making and diverse category this time out, the field consisted of Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. I believe Marc Webb was snubbed for (500) Days of Summer and really wish that Reitman had come closer to winning, but when you come right down to it, I can’t argue with Bigelow. The first woman to ever win Best Director gets my vote here as well.
Best Actor – George Clooney for Up in the Air
Here the nominees were Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker. The Academy missed the boat on nominating Sam Rockwell for Moon, but aside from him, I’d have to go for Clooney.
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for An Education
The big snub to me here was Zooey Deschanel for (500) Days […]

“American Sniper” and “Whiplash”: Best Picture nominees on opposite sides of the box office spectrum

If you take a look at the Best Picture lineup, there’s one really interesting comparison to be made among the nominees, specifically with two of them. Those two are American Sniper and Whiplash. What’s the comparison to be made? Well, they exist on opposite sides of the box office spectrum. That got me thinking about the highest grossing nominees for Best Picture to date, as well as the lowest grossing ones, and where these two current nominees stand in those crops. As such, indulge me while I go over the biggest blockbusters ever to be up for the prize as well as the smallest indies ever to play David to those Goliath competitors.
As a general rule, Best Picture winners tend to be profitable films. With only a few exceptions, they’re never the biggest movies of that year, or all time, obviously…but they’re still ones with a healthy haul at the box office. You almost never see the nominees with tiny budgets go on to win, though there are a few victors with decidedly lower totals, as you’ll see below. Still, the odds favor something in the middle ground, veered towards slightly higher totals. We’ve yet to really see anything with a micro budget go on to win. Hell, they often struggle to even get nominated.
Among the highest grossing nominees of all time, we’re obviously led by James Cameron’s two behemoths. Both Avatar and Titanic are at the top of this list, with the latter being the highest grossing Best Picture winner ever. Both made over $600 million, which is more than double what your average nominee/winner in the category tends to make (Avatar was well over $700 million, in fact). This year, American Sniper could wind up in the $300 million range (as of today it’s at about $213 million), which would put it in the upper tier of nominees to date. It won’t translate into a win, but it’s still impressive, nonetheless. Other high grossing winners include Argo ($136 million), Chicago ($170 million), The Departed ($132 million), Forrest Gump ($329 million), Gladiator ($187 million), The King’s Speech ($135 million), Rain Man ($172 million), and Slumdog Millionaire ($141 million). A surprise win for American Sniper would quickly put it in the top five highest grossing Best Picture winners of all time, but don’t bet on that happening.
On the flip side, the lowest grossing winner ever is The Hurt Locker at […]

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 […]

From 1997 to 2009 there were five $1 billion film grossers. Between 2010 and 2012, we added an additional ten such films.

Just a few years ago, had I written a piece entitled “There are no films guaranteed to gross $1 billion this year”, you likely would have laughed and said “Of course not!”. As recently as 2010, the idea that any movie could or would gross $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales was somewhat of a pipe dream.
From 1997 to 2006, there were just two films to reach that milestone, they being Titanic (the biggest movie of all-time with a seemingly insurmountable $1.8 billion) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the Oscar-winning chapter to what can be argued is the finest screen trilogy of our time (that’s a debate for another day). In 2006, we saw the powerhouse success of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest which parlayed the unexpected popularity of the first film into an even larger haul for its sequel, breaking the domestic opening weekend record at the time ($135 million) and earning a massive $423 million in America and $642 million overseas.
In 2008, The Dark Knight pulled another “massively popular sequel to unexpectedly well-liked original” trick to the tune of $533 million in America (good for the second biggest grosser of all time in America, if only for a year) and just over $1 billion worldwide despite not playing in China due to that pesky “Chinese gangster hides Gotham mob money” subplot. 2009 saw James Cameron do that trick that James Cameron does yet again, with Avatar earning $1 billion worldwide in about seventeen days and going on to earn an eye-popping $2.7 billion.
to read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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After- parties and more after-parties at the Golden Globe Awards

By the time the Golden Globes were over, the whole Beverly Hilton was bursting to party. On the 6th floor of the Hilton leading to the roof, I was nearly run over by the cast of “Les Miserables,” all of whom were in high spirits after their big wins in the Comedy/Musical category.
Anne Hathaway led the charge down a narrow passage into the party carrying her Globe and smiling wildly. Director Tom Hooper and star Hugh Jackman were next, followed by co-stars Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried, as well as Sacha Baron Cohen with wife Isla Fisher.
“Les Miz” is a coup now for Universal Pictures chief Ron Meyer and his lieutenants Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson. It’s been a long time since Universal won anything, and now they can boast of a $200 million plus box office plus lots of shiny gold statues.
For Hooper it’s also a real vindication after some tough reviews and a snub by the Academy Awards. The director of “The King’s Speech” looked a little exhausted at this point. “It’s been a long haul,” he said, recalling the very first screening on November 24th at Lincoln Center.
Meanwhile, the Universal party was also home to “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who lost the Globes but finished their first wide release weekend at number 1. Today they head to London to launch “Zero Dark Thirty” in the U.K. Even though Bigelow makes serious movies, she has a good sense of humor. I asked how she liked Tina Fey’s joke about the “torture” of being married once to “Titanic” director James Cameron. It was the hit of the night. “It was very funny,” Bigelow conceded.
For a second Hugh Jackman showed us his Globe statue and said, “This is so great I can’t tell you.” And then we headed down to Club 55 in the basement of the Hilton, where HBO was literally teeming with celebrities from the casts of “Girls” and “The Newsroom” to miscellaneous stars like Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt to Jeff Garlin of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Steve Buscemi of “Boardwalk Empire.”
Jeff Daniels, his wife, Kathleen, Hollywood legend Jane Fonda and boyfriend Richard Perry (famed record producer of hits by Carly Simon, Rod Stewart, and Ringo Starr) and Sam Waterston were all having a fine time, while elsewhere a stunning Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban were chatting […]

The Hunger Games topped the box office for the third time in a row Whatever my issues with The Hunger Games in terms of its quality as a film, its continued box office might can only be a good thing. Considering the current trend of studios basically remaking/rebooting/rehashing every remotely popular property over the last thirty years, the fact that this NEW adaptation from a NEW novel is going to be among the top three grossing films of the year by a healthy margin can only be a good lesson. Anyway, The Hunger Games topped the box office for the third time in a row this weekend, dropping a perfectly reasonable 43% in weekend three, for a weekend haul of $33.5 million. This gives the film a massive $302 million in seventeen days, which is the second-largest such haul for a film outside of summer in history. That’s the fifth-biggest seventeen-day total in history, and 11 days ahead of Alice In Wonderland, the closest non-summer competitor and just two days behind Avatar. Forget Twilight comparisons, it’s already passed Eclipse, which is the highest-grossing entry in the series. And forget the majority of the Harry Potter series, as it’s $14 million away from surpassing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and it’s already tied with the $303 million 17-day total of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II with significantly larger second and third weekends to boot. At this point, it’s playing like Spider-Man 2 and the last Harry Potter film, with stronger weekends but lighter weekday grosses. The second Spidey pick ended its third weekend with $302 million and ended its domestic haul with $373 million, while Harry Potter 7.2 ended with $381 million. Factoring a rather busy April and the coming summer onslaught, that’s as good a place to predict as to where the first The Hunger Games ends up.
The top opener, one of two wide releases, was American Reunion. The unasked-for sequel is the fourth theatrical entry in the American Pie series but the eighth chapter counting the four direct-to-DVD films. This ‘most of you need a paycheck because none of you really broke out’ rehash opened to $21 million, which is almost identical to the $19 million debut this time last year of Scream 4. To be fair, at least some of the cast has worked relatively steadily since 1999, with Alyson Hannigan going from one […]

Bradley Cooper vehicle “Paradise Lost” is dead

By Sean O’Connell This is surprising news: Legendary Pictures has pulled the plug on director Alex Proyas’ planned adaptation of “Paradise Lost,” which was to cast “The Hangover” star Bradley Cooper as Lucifer.
Previous reports made note of the film’s expansive budget, and sources close to the production tell THR that the cost and the enormity of the planned special effects were the ultimate downfall of “Lost.”
“Legendary is realizing it needs to be more fiscally prudent in the movies it greenlights,” the trade notes.
“Legendary also realized that in order to effectively bring to life Milton’s war between heaven and hell, it was going to need ‘Avatar’-like special effects. But ‘Avatar’-like effects call for an ‘Avatar’-like budget, and execs realized the technology wasn’t there to make the movie in the budget range in which they were working.”
Part of me admires the studio’s ability to bail on a project before getting in way too deep. But on the flip side, I really wanted to see Proyas bring this sprawling vision to the big screen. It’s unlikely this will ever happen, unless George Lucas or James Cameron decide they’d like to mount the project. Which is unlikely.
So for now, “Lost” is dead … and “The Hangover 3” is way more likely to happen now than ever before.
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“Titanic 3D” Valentine’s Day screenings reportedly sold out

By Sean O’Connell A ton of “Titanic” fans would like their heart to go on, but they’ll need Paramount’s servers to step up their game before the Feb. 14 preview screenings of James Cameron’s Oscar-winning masterpiece.
According to a release, “Titanic” fans rushed the web in the last 24-hours — crashing multiple servers in the process — to secure advance tickets for the now sold-out preview screenings of “Titanic” in 3D.
“In a matter of hours, sell-out screenings were reported throughout the United States and in countries around the world, following the launch of the special screening program on Jan. 31,” the studio reported. “Moviegoers who were lucky enough to secure a seat will now be among the first people anywhere to see the newly re-mastered TITANIC in 3D, in advance of the film’s worldwide release on April 6th.”
These special fan screening are being presented exclusively in RealD 3D and will be held in the following cities: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, San Diego, Denver, Sacramento, Orlando, Tampa, Minneapolis, Montreal, Vancouver, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Portland, Kansas City, West Palm Beach, Raleigh, San Antonio, Hartford, Charlotte, San Antonio, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Austin, Edmonton, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Grand Rapids, Calgary, Columbus, Fresno, Ottawa, Cincinnati, Nashville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Oklahoma City.
Internationally, these special one-time only preview screenings will take place in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and the UK.
The re-release of “Titanic” also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail on April 10, 1912.
Written, directed and produced by Cameron, “Titanic” is the second highest grossing movie of all time. It is one of only three films to have received a record 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director; and launched the careers of stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Learn more about TITANIC in 3D at
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James Cameron exec producing a 3D Cirque du Soleil movie

By Sean O’Connell Cirque du Soleil is heading to the big screen, and the self-proclaimed King of the World will help usher the visual spectacle to a theater near you.
Paramount announced that James Cameron, the genius behind “Titanic” and “Avatar,” will help bring an original Cirque story to audience members. The studio acquired worldwide distribution rights to “Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away,” which will be written and directed by Andrew Adamson, whose credits include the first two “Shrek” and “Chronicles of Narnia” films).
This will be a 3D presentation that, according to the statement, will capture the “artistic and acrobatic performances from some of the most elaborate Cirque du Soleil productions.”
“The coupling of filmmaker James Cameron’s groundbreaking 3D visual accomplishments and Andrew Adamson’s beautiful direction, combined with a timeless original story written especially for this movie, will make for a truly amazing movie going experience for audiences of all ages,” said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures.
The film, slated to hit theaters in 2012, does not have an official release date yet.
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