September 04, 2015

Tag Archives: jason reitman

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 […]

The films that will sadly be shut out on Oscar nomination morning

In less than two weeks, the mystery is going to be solved in terms of who and what receive Academy Award nominations (with some mystery going away earlier today with the announcement of the Producers Guild of America nominations, but I’ll chime in on that tomorrow). At the same time, we’re also going to find out about the films and performances that are going to be snubbed for Oscar love. In some cases, movies are going to be shut out entirely. Most of the time, it’s more or less deservedly so, but their are always contenders that should have fared better in the awards season. Today, I wanted to shed some light on the flicks that almost assuredly are not going to be cited in any way, shape, or form, by members of the Academy. Sure, Oscar voters could surprise you, but I wouldn’t hold my breath…
Here now are ten films that are unfortunately set to be shut out when nominations are announced:
10. Tusk – No Kevin Smith film has ever competed at the Oscars (though rumor has it that Chasing Amy was the number six in Best Original Screenplay that year) and this horror-comedy won’t change that run, only in part due to mostly poor reviews (even if I dug it). At the same time though, Tusk features old school monster movie makeup and a rubber suit costume that I would have loved the Academy to have noticed/recognized. It won’t happen, but I’d do backflips if a Best Costume Design nomination came through.
9. Draft Day – A theme you’ll see a few times here in this column today is unfairly maligned films, with this sports drama being another prime example. It’s got a good enough script to have at least competed in Best Original Screenplay, though that field is obviously stacked. Ivan Reitman’s flick was unjustly ignored, something his son can also sympathize with this year as well (more on that below). It deserved a better fate than it received, plain and simple.
8. Edge of Tomorrow – Now, there’s a small chance that a tech nomination could come through for this Tom Cruise vehicle, but in a fairer world it would be a lock for a Best Film Editing nomination. Doug Limon’s movie didn’t do quite the business most expected it to, but it was a critical favorite and one of the more satisfying blockbusters of 2014. It might […]

The best films and performances of 2014

We’ve come to the end of the line, ladies and gentlemen. 2014 is about to be put into the books, with 2015 upon us in mere few hours. To close out the year, I wanted to pile on to the seemingly never ending group of articles filled with Top Ten lists and the like. I don’t want it to just be my list though, so below you’ll see that, but also my thoughts on the year as a whole, along with my picks for the best performances of the year as well a few specific category awards. Basically, this would reflect sort of what my Oscar ballot would look like in the major categories, though I’ll perhaps save that full look at a personal ballot for a more specific piece when voting comes to an end in a few weeks. We’ll see. Anyway, time to get this show on the road!
The cinematic year that was 2014 has been considered by some to be a real high water mark of late, while others felt that it was a severe let down. Me? I’m stuck in the middle. I had less films that I feel completely in love with than usual, but at the same time I had more films overall that I liked than in many of the prior years. As such, the movies sort of feel on par with the last few years to me. The very best of 2014 was incredible to me, featuring a few modern classics, so I can hardly call it a down year. Perhaps it was just that a handful of the most praised titles were ones that I didn’t go as nuts over, so that contributes to an odd feeling about 2014? Whatever the case, there were plenty of flicks that I adored, despised, and just plain scratched my head over. That makes for a full meal of a film year, so I can’t complain. That’s the year in a nutshell to me though…more of the same.
Obviously, there are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, so perhaps at this time next year we’ll all be remarking about how much better of a cinematic slate it was, but at the same time, there’s always the chance of a big let down. In that case, we’d be reminiscing about the halcyon days of now. It’s all a shot in the dark when […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Director

As I mentioned last week, with the festival season well underway and a good portion of the major contenders for the Academy Awards having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the big eight categories and see what’s what in an updated and more 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 overt hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film/director in question, of course. Today I’m turning my attention once again to the Best Director field, which will certainly match up somewhat with Best Picture, but perhaps not necessarily in a total form. Read on to see what I mean…
Here are the ten filmmakers that I have in play for Best Director currently, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point and time:
1. David Fincher (Gone Girl) – Considering I have Gone Girl winning Best Picture right now, it makes sense that I have Fincher winning Best Director here. The very first reviews for the movie dropped last night and they heavily praise his work, even if some do wish he’d tackle less “pulpy” subject matter. That seems like a film critic’s complaint to me (even if I’ve made that same statement about other filmmakers), so that might not bother the Academy too much. I’ll know more once I see it at the New York Film Festival on Friday, but for now…it’s in the top spot. This could be in flux though.
2. Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) – Despite the slight reduction in buzz for this one, I’m expecting a surge again once Miller’s film plays at NYFF in a few weeks time. He’s slowly becoming an overdue director as well, so it’s possible voters might just decide that now is the time. As long as he can build back up some buzz, you have to still consider him a major threat to win. Don’t sleep on Miller’s chances, as he’s always found a way in the past.
3. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Some have Iñárritu as the one to beat right now, but I’m not sure […]

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 […]

Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar veterans hoping for another nomination this year

Each and every single awards season, there are tons of both newcomers and veterans to the Oscar game. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a bit of a look at those seeking their first nominations from the Academy, but today I’m going to be going ahead and listing some of the major players who’ve already been nominated before, and in some cases are already winners. It’s leading up to me re-ranking the contenders in the major categories next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which old hands to the Oscar ranch are saddling up for another ride on the awards season pony.
In the Best Actor race, the highest profile former nominee is Joaquin Phoenix, who will look for his first win this year with Inherent Vice. He represents the most likely non first time nominee who could win the Oscar in this category, though one level down we have Bradley Cooper for American Sniper and Bill Murray for St. Vincent, with Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler and Brad Pitt for Fury as other possibilities, plus Ben Affleck, who I’m counting here since he’s an Oscar winner, even if he’s never received an acting citation to date. Longer shots for nominations who’ve been to the dance before include Christian Bale for Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Philip Seymour Hoffman for A Most Wanted Man, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, Al Pacino for Manglehorn, Jeremy Renner for Kill the Messenger, and Mark Walhberg for The Gambler. Those fellas will be fighting it out with a bunch of first timers in this category, and it’s going to be a bloodbath.
Over in Best Actress, we have perennial bridesmaid Amy Adams hoping that this year she’ll finally be the bride with her work in Big Eyes. She’s going to be getting a challenge from both Jessica Chastain (for either The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Miss Julie, or A Most Violent Year) and Reese Witherspoon for Wild though. One level down you have Julianne Moore for Still Alice and Meryl Streep for Into the Woods, with other former nominees/winner on the hunt including Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant or Two Days One Night, Keira Knightley for Begin Again, Hilary Swank for The Homesman, Kate Winslet for A Little Chaos, and Robin Wright for The Congress. The newbies could seriously vie for a win here, but the vets have […]

The Toronto Film Festival has crowded the Oscar field in a big way

If there’s one thing you can count on from the Toronto International Film Festival each and every single year, it’s that the fest is going to launch a ton of major Academy Award contenders. This year, that was no exception, as the race really has begun to take its initial shape in the wake of certain Toronto debuts. Much like with the recent Telluride Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, as well as the upcoming New York Film Festival, each major movie premiere changes the race a bit. It’s still early, but with the exception of the two major mysteries still to be revealed at NYFF in Gone Girl/Inherent Vice and titles that won’t really be making festival bows like Fury, Interstellar, Into the Woods, and Unbroken, we know who the players are. It’s just which flicks will be able to sustain buzz and begin winning precursor awards.
With Toronto still going strong, I wanted to look at how some of the players there turned out and how those titles are shaping the race in new ways. Among the many titles playing and/or having premieres of some sort at TIFF, we have Black and White from Mike Binder, The Cobbler from Thomas McCarthy, The Drop from Michaël R. Roskam, The Equalizer from Antoine Fuqua, The Good Lie from Philippe Falardeau, The Humbling from Barry Levinson, The Judge from David Dobkin, Love & Mercy from Bill Pohlad, Men Women & Children from Jason Reitman, Miss Julie from Liv Ullmann, Nightcrawler from Dan Gilroy, Pawn Sacrifice from Ed Zwick, St. Vincent from Theodore Melfi, The Theory of Everything from James Marsh, This Is Where I Leave You from Shawn Levy, Top Five from Chris Rock, Tusk from Kevin Smith, and While We’re Young from Noah Baumbach. Throw in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher making a stop up North as well as previously established contenders like Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, and Jean-Marc Vallee’s Wild all continuing their solid buzz building and you have just about everything that’s in contention so far.
First up, let’s knock out the films we don’t really have to worry about in the awards season anymore due to mixed/poor reviews. It seems like Black and White, The Cobbler, The Good Lie, The Humbling, The Judge, Miss Julie, and This Is Where I Leave You are pretty much buried, unless Robert Duvall gets […]

A September Oscar Predictions Update

It’s that time again folks. Since we’re now into September, it’s time for me to come to you all once again with some new and (hopefully) even more up to date than ever Oscar predictions. As usual ladies and gents, I hope they’ll represent another bit of a change from overt speculation onward towards educated guesswork now that awards season is basically upon us (Telluride and Venice are in the books, with Toronto currently going on). We still have a long way to go in the season overall, as you probably can guess, and these new predictions will likely still be mostly wrong in the end anyway, but with each passing update (at least two a month now) I’m trying to figure it all out and get more and more confident in backing particular horses as opposed to others. If that sounds a bit repetitive to you, well…it’s still kind of the nature of the beast for this thing. If nothing else, this endeavor continues to sort of show where I’m coming from as the months pass and the race begins to change and evolve into something truly competitive and quantifiable, especially when precursor season kicks into gear.
Continuing on with the trend that I’ve had all year so far (including last month), you can see certain films standing above the rest. This time around, you can see movies like David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, and Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children are the ones that I have poised to be among the most nominated at this year’s ceremony. Overall, my predictions are only a little bit different this time around, but paying heed to some of the news I mentioned yesterday. I’m mixing and matching here now, trying to find the right match as buzz comes in on more and more contenders. It might not wind up particularly accurate yet, but until the festival season concludes and more of these movies actually screen for critics, we’re still guessing more often than not. It’s just a matter of trying to make the guesses more and more educated as the season progresses.
By now, you all must know that I could go on and on (and on and on…) about all of the changes I’ve made or considered making, but I know at this point […]

“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 […]

“Gone Girl” by David Fincher: An August Oscar Predictions Update

Welcome to August folks. Now that we’re well into the second half of 2014 and reaching the end of the summer, it’s time for me to come to you again with some new and (hopefully) even more up to date Oscar predictions. I sincerely hope that they’ll represent another bit of a change from speculation on towards educated guesswork now that awards season is fast approaching us. We still have a long way to go in the season overall, don’t me wrong, and these new predictions will likely be wrong more than right in the end anyway, but with each passing update I’m getting attempting to figure it all out and get more and more confident in backing particular horses as opposed to other ones that I’ve mentioned previously. If that sounds a bit repetitive to you, well…that’s still kind of the nature of the beast for this. If nothing else, this endeavor continues to sort of show where I’m coming from as the months pass and the race begins to change and evolve into something truly competitive and quantifiable, especially when precursor season kicks into gear later on in 2014.
Continuing the trend I’ve had all year so far, you can see that films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar are the ones that I have pegged to be among the most nominated at this year’s ceremony, though it’s now joined by Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman as well and David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Overall, my predictions are a bit different this time, in a purposefully experimental way. I’m predicting new winners in each of the major categories (and all of the technical ones as well, so it’s brand new winners all around), seeing how they look as compared to what I’ve been saying so far this year. It might not wind up particularly accurate, but until the festival season begins next month and more of these movies actually screen, we’re still guessing more often than not. It’s just a matter of trying to make the guesses more and more educated as the season progresses.
Obviously, you al know that I could go on about all of the major changes that I’ve made (basically all over the place, which translates to everywhere, at least in terms of winners) this time around, particularly with titles like MacBeth and Suite française opting to delay until next awards season, but […]

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