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: Jeff Wells

Oscars: Is Warner Bros. hiding a potential Oscar contender? – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Fascinating. Hours after reporting that The New York Film Critics Circle was moving its voting deadline back one day (to accommodate David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” it was believed), we’re learning – through a suddenly public brouhaha – that the film in question causing the date shift might have been Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” … and Warner Bros. isn’t bending to meet NYFCC’s demands.
The group’s chairman, John Anderson, reportedly sent a message informing NYFCC members that WB would not be able to screen Daldry’s anticipated film in time for the group’s early deadline because it would not be finished in time. Instead of compromising the director’s vision, the studio simply opted not to have it included in the NYFCC race (or the National Board of Review’s race, for that matter).
“Draw your own conclusions,” Anderson told the group, according to a message obtained by Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere.
What conclusions? That the NYFCC’s new deadline — as believed by everyone OUTSIDE of the NYFCC — is too early to honestly consider the best of 2011? That a studio made the right decision by supporting its director and not kowtowing to a critics’ group?
“We love critics groups. but nobody wants to compromise a director’s vision,” an anonymous publicist told Wells.
Exactly. Why would you? If Daldry’s film is outstanding, it will reach its audience and get into the Oscar race. If not, it won’t. And a NYFCC stamp of approval won’t matter one way or the other.
“I don’t know why John Anderson has reamed us, but it’s a witch hunt,” the publicist added. “I wish we could have had it ready earlier.”
As for In Contention’s Kris Tapley, he doesn’t mince words on his Twitter account, bluntly stating, “NYFCC’s John Anderson says “draw your own conclusions” about WB not having “Extremely Loud” ready in time for NYFCC? What an asshole. … You cravenly opt for a way-too-early voting deadline, then cast an aura of failure on a film for not meeting that deadline? Again: ASSHOLE.”
The minute NYFCC announced their early date shift, columnists predicted problems. How can a group seriously consider the year’s best in film more than a month before the year is up? Is the NYFCC more concerned with yelling “First!” Or do they want to see, and properly consider, every film released in 2011 … not just every […]

“The Artist,” “The Help,” “Carnage” and more pick up steam – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell The awards race has transformed from a protracted marathon to a healthy sprint over the past few days. We’re not yet at a full-blown run, but activity is buzzing around a handful of titles that hope to compete in various Oscar categories. Let’s take a moment and run through a few recent movements.
– The 15th Annual Hollywood Awards Gala recognized several talents whose names should find their way into the Oscar race. George Clooney and Michelle Williams picked up trophies for “The Descendants” and “My Week with Marilyn,” respectively. “Moneyball” director Bennett Miller earned what Sony hopes is the first of several awards for his work on the baseball drama. The same goes with supporting actors Carey Mulligan (“Shame”), Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and the cast of “The Help.” My friend Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter does an excellent job breaking down the Oscar prospects of the Hollywood Awards Gala honorees. Read it here.
– And here’s my official recap of the event, which came across as a celebration of this year’s truly outstanding films.
– Meanwhile, Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere attended the gala and was struck by the poignancy of certain speeches. He says Glenn Close’s acceptance speech for the Career Achievement was the frontrunner until Viola Davis took the podium to speak for the “Help” ensemble. Wells goes so far as to say Davis’s speech was so amazing, it cemented her status as this year’s inevitable Best Actress winner. Do you agree?
– Warner just invited me to a “J. Edgar” press screening. Not a week-of opening, but an early, pre-AFI Fest screening. That’s a great sign for a picture that hasn’t begun screening in earnest. Not sure when I can officially “talk” about Clint Eastwood’s biopic (with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the late FBI director). But you can bet I’ll have plenty to say once the film opens on Nov. 9.
– Speaking of invites, Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” is hosting several press screenings in N.Y. and L.A. leading up to its Dec. 16 release date. I’m interested to see if the picture can gain better traction after a mixed festival start. I see it myself next week at the Savannah Film Festival.
– Ah, the Savannah Film Fest. It starts Saturday, with Michel Hazanavicius’ winning “The Artist.” It includes festival screenings of “A Dangerous Method,” “Butter,” “Carnage,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Another Happy Day,” “The Son […]

Do Oscar gurus and their voodoo predictions matter? – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell The 2011 awards marathon hasn’t officially begun yet – most films planning to compete are gathering at the starting line waiting for festivals in Venice, Toronto and Telluride so the real race can launch – and already we are seeing a war of words between Oscar bloggers.
Using harsh terms like “pure nothingness,” Jeff Wells took shots at the season’s first Gurus of Gold chart, a collection of opinions from assorted Oscar trackers meant to gauge which films have the best shot at making up this year’s Best Picture field.
Tabulating votes from 12 awards gurus, the chart lists three films that have opened in theaters (Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris,” Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” and Tate Taylor’s “The Help”), one Cannes film in “The Artist,” and nine films that will open between now and the end of the year.
In one post, Wells critiques the films selected by the gurus, from George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” to Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” quickly pointing out that the predictions are “pure nothingness” because the guesses were made, in most cases, without the benefit of actually screening the film.
“All it means is that most of them want to see a smart political film with good acting and a strong theme about loyalty and betrayal, etc.,” Wells writes about Clooney’s film leading the chart.
And he’s right. An early, pre-TIFF chart such as this is little more than speculation until the actual films play out. Of course, all of us reading and potentially watching want Spielberg to release another masterpiece, or to have Alexander Payne blows us away with “The Descendants.” But there’s a real danger to going out on a limb with a prediction, because the film you back might fail to connect with Oscar voters, as when an awards blogger put his weight behind a Best Picture nom for Joel Schumacher’s “The Phantom of the Opera” a few years back. The film earned three below-the-line Oscar nominations and scored zero wins.
But Wells wasn’t finished. In a follow up post titled “Set It Straight,” the head of Hollywood Elsewhere clarified his stance, lest anyone think he supported the reading of Oscar tea leaves to define the race. Using words like “worthless” and “contemptible,” Wells tore down the practice of the Guru chart and its “prediction racket […]

“Super 8″ slow start might not be end of the world, analysts say

By Sean O’Connell So much attention is paid to a film’s opening weekend these days that a slow start automatically can lead to a film being dismissed as a bomb. But factors swirling around J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8” have box office analysts taking a step back and adjusting their predictions over the long term.
“I think the opening weekend is not nearly as important for a film like this because it has the potential to show some serious staying power once all the secrets are out and people start talking about it,” Phil Contrino of tells Jeff Wells.
“People are too quick to label something a flop. With ‘Super 8,’ I want to see how it does over the course of three weekends, not just one.”
The film, produced by Steve Spielberg, does not have an A-list celebrity to help sell tickets. But Paramount hopes strong word of mouth and good critical response will drive viewers to theaters over the coming weeks. (The movie has a healthy 81% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of now.)
The studio also began a ramped-up social media campaign that put the film in theaters a few days early (it screened Wednesday night in select markets). “Super 8” opens today. Will you see it over opening weekend? Wait a week or two? Skip it, altogether? Let us know.
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Golden Globe predictions from the top experts

By Gold Derby News Desk The Golden Globes will be doled out this Sunday. We assembled expert predictions from two dozen top awards pundits. They forecast all the races and expect a fierce battle between “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” for Best Drama Picture. However, they think three of the four top acting races are virtual locks as is Best Director.
Our notable panel includes: Thelma Adams (Us Weekly,, Tim Appelo (Hollywood Reporter), Lane Brown (New York Vulture), Erik Davis (Cinematical), Scott Feinberg ( Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Joseph Kapsch (Zap2It), Dave Karger (Entertainment Weekly), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Peter Knegt (Indie Wire), Guy Lodge (In Contention), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby, The Envelope), Steve Pond (The Odds, The Wrap), Nathaniel Rogers (Film Experience), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily), Kris Tapley (In Contention), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Bob Tourtellotte (Reuters), Chuck Walton (Fandango), Jeff Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere), Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).
See the racetrack odds on the top Golden Globe races based upon these expert predictions HERE.
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter” – Lodge
“The King’s Speech” – Appelo, Hammond, Karger, Khan, Knegt, Musto, Pond, Sheehan, Simanton, Stone, Thompson, Tourtellotte
“The Social Network” – Adams, Brown, Davis, Feinberg, Kapsch, O’Neil, Rogers, Tapley, Walton, Wells, Wloszczyna
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Kids Are All Right” – Adams, Appelo, Brown, Davis, Feinberg, Hammond, Kapsch, Karger, Khan, Knegt, Lodge, Musto, O’Neil, Pond, Rogers, Sheehan, Simanton, Stone, Tapley, Thompson, Tourtellotte, Walton, Wells, Wloszczyna
“The Tourist”
To read more about these predictions go to
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Natalie Portman, Colin Firth collect first (of many) trophies – Awards Season Roundup

By Sean O’Connell’s Awards Season Roundup collects insights from around the Internet on films that are running in the Oscar race.
Natalie Portman and Colin Firth have been announced as winners of the Desert Palm Achievement Awards for Acting by the Palm Springs Film Festival.
Speaking of Portman, wouldn’t it be funny if she and James Franco were Oscar winners for “127 Hours” and “Black Swan” by the time “Your Highness” comes out next year?
And as for “The King’s Speech,” Firth’s co-star, Helena Bonham Carter, will receive the Richard Harris Award for her contribution to British film at the British Independent Film Awards, scheduled for Dec.5.
Picking up what we started yesterday, Reuters looks at the Oscar chances for Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right.”
The Envelope thinks Best Picture is actually a four-horse race.
Jeff Wells reports from last night’s “Rabbit Hole” screening in New York, stating, “I still have no doubt about its ability to penetrate as a Best Picture contender.”
Teachers can now see “Waiting for ‘Superman’” at a discounted ticket price. I’d argue they see it every day in their own classrooms.
James L. Brooks’ “How Do You Know” will now be a teen-friendy PG-13.
And finally, many around the industry continue to mourn the tragic loss of Ronni Chasen. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.
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Awards Season Roundup: Animation whittled down to three nominees

By Sean O’Connell’s Awards Season Roundup collects insights from around the Internet on films that are running in the Oscar race.
The Academy announced today that only three films will be nominated in the animation category. That field just became incredibly tough to predict.
“True Grit” revealed its new poster today.
So did “Frankie & Alice.”
Scott Rudin will receive the Producers Guild’s David O. Selznick Award.
Speaking of one of Rudin’s films, Scott Feinberg is a big fan of David Fincher’s “The Social Network.” He wrote a column saying it will beat “The King’s Speech” in the Best Picture race. Then he pitched Rooney Mara for Best Supporting Actress. But fellow Oscar blogger Jeff Wells respectively tells him there’s no chance.
Awards Daily breaks down the Best Actress race.
While Vanity Fair looks at Oscar longshots.
And finally, Tom O’Neil says Best Supporting Actress is Melissa Leo’s to lose.
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Awards Season Roundup: Watch Fincher on the “Social Network” set

By Sean O’Connell’s Awards Season Roundup collects insights from around the Internet on films that are running in the Oscar race.
Why wait for the DVD? Slash Film has links to some B-roll, behind-the-scenes footage that shows David Fincher and his team hard at work on “The Social Network.”
So what happened to Aron Ralston of “127 Hours” after he was rescued from the cave? The L.A. Times explains.
There are two new posters for “The King’s Speech” on Awards Daily.
Elsewhere, Jeff Wells weighs in on the MPAA’s ridiculous R rating for “Speech” due to language.
Academy members started receiving screeners of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Joel and Ethan Coens’ “True Grit” gets moved up to Dec. 22, so we’re going to get retribution a few days before Christmas.
Pete Hammond conducts a Q-and-A with Tilda Swinton for “I Am Love.”
And “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich sits down with the Wall Street Journal and discusses the film’s financial successes and his creative use of Twitter.
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What is the story with McAdams and Ford’s “Morning Glory?”

By Sean O’Connell So far, Roger Michell’s “Morning Glory” looks like the kind of movie you can bring your parents to over Thanksgiving break.
Michell previously helmed safe, palpable fare like “Notting Hill” and “Venus” (yet showed some edge with “Enduring Love” and “Changing Lanes”). It has Harrison Ford, whom dad likes, and Diane Keaton, whom mom likes. And it was penned by “The Devil Wears Prada” scripter Aline Brosh McKenna, who trades the fashion industry for daytime television and swaps Anne Hathaway with Rachel McAdams. Everybody’s happy.
Yet one commentator, Jeff Wells, weighs in ahead of embargo to say Michell’s film is “a tiny bit better” than expected, and even lobs Ford toward the Supporting Actor category.
Is this possible? Will a dark horse enter the Oscar race?
We’ll have to wait until Nov. 12 to catch “Morning” in all of its “Glory.” But this afternoon, a “Making of” reel focusing on the film’s assorted characters has made its way to Yahoo Movies, so have a peek and decide for yourself.
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Batman speculation “Rises” as Nolan reveals sequel details

By Sean O’Connell Internet speculation ran rampant once Christopher Nolan announced that his third Batman film would be titled “The Dark Knight Rises,” and that The Riddler would not be the main villain.
“We’ll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we’ll be introducing some new ones,” Nolan told Hero Complex, finally opening up about the sequel that’s scheduled to begin shooting in April.
The phrase “same characters” immediately prompted fans to wonder if Nolan meant that Aaron Eckhart’s tragic hero, Harvey Dent, could be resurrected despite the fact he clearly fell to his death at the end of “The Dark Knight.” The director always said the phrase “Dark Knight” referred to Dent’s Two-Face as well as Christian Bale’s Batman, so the “Rises” certainly fits.
It couldn’t possibly mean The Joker would be recast … could it? Probably not. Nolan said a while ago he wouldn’t try and fill Heath Ledger’s shoes, so he likely just means Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman’s characters – regulars of the franchise — will return.
As for villains, MTV started running through other villains from Batman’s catalog that could be considered by Nolan and co-screenwriter David Goyer. Catwoman was mentioned. Because “Inception” star Tom Hardy has been announced and Louisiana is a location, some fans are clinging to the idea that Nolan might try Killer Croc.
And then there was reaction to the title. Few loved it. Most just shrugged it off. Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere hated it the most, saying it “really sucks eggs.”
We are balancing on the tip of the Bat-iceburg, people. Expect plenty more in the weeks and months to come.
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