July 27, 2016
        A Teaser Trailer for "Justice League" suggests a really fun blockbuster                "Blair Witch" and "Wonder Woman": Comic-Con unleashes a ton of buzz worthy Trailers                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders                "Star Trek Beyond" is a rare success for the 2016 summer movie season                The 2016 New York Film Festival will open with Ava Duvernay's documentary "The 13th"                Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone make us swoon as "La La Land" drops a luminous Teaser Trailer                "Loving" announces itself as an awards player with a great Trailer                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for July                Woody Allen has another crowd pleaser on his hands with "Cafe Society"                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actor contenders                Kristen Stewart shines in the sci-fi love story "Equals"                'Ghostbusters' is an excellent re-invention of the classic franchise                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Director contenders                "Captain Fantastic" is one of the year's most pleasant surprises                This week brings an adorable bit of animation in "The Secret Life of Pets"        

Tag Archives: Jennifer Lawrence

Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders

Ahoy there folks! As you ladies and gentlemen all know from the last year or so as well as my handful of articles again during this year, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen six or so months from now, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to actually know something about what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m once again running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket. It’s probably old hat to you by now, I’m sure, but hey…
Today I’m continuing with another of the bigger ones that’s out there…the Best Actress category.
Here are the ten lovely ladies that I have in play for Best Actress, with the top five of course cracking the presumed lineup at this point:
1. Emma Stone (La La Land) – I think you’re all noticing a pattern by now. La La Land seems like a huge player, so Stone makes a ton of sense in this top spot. She’s got a nomination and is in the age range that voters can sometimes like their winners in Best Actress. Everything just fits for her to be not just a top tier contender, but a potential victor as well. For the moment, Stone is in my pole position, with no signs of dropping off, at least until the film screens at the Venice Film Festival.
2. Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals or Arrival) – With someone as overdue as Adams, how can you not have her high up in one of the top two or three slots. Either for Arrival or perhaps more likely for Nocturnal Animals, she seems like a safe bet to be in heavy contention. We know that Adams will win one day, so it’s just a matter of if she’s got the right project this year/what the competition turns out to be. Don’t you […]

“X-Men: Apocalypse” is another epic mutant battle

Did you know that the X-Men franchise is currently the longest running superhero franchise out there? Well, it is, which might surprise you. Though it didn’t get off the ground as early as the Batman or Superman franchises did, this one, which got going about 16 years ago, has managed to put out more product and sustain with the same creative team longer than any others. It’s to some degree a testament to quality, while also showing off how valuable a product it is. The latest in that assembly line? Why, none other than the sequel X-Men: Apocalypse, of course. Opening on Friday, this new outing for the mutant heroes looks to avoid the comic book movie fatigue that could be setting in this year, before the summer even starts, to boot. How is it? Well, read on to find out…
This sequel, now I believe the eighth overall in the franchise (including spinoffs), is the latest in detailing the adventures of the X-Men. Set in the 1980’s, a decade after the last mission, we see Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his pupils tasked with fighting off the very first mutant, the basically immortal title character of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). Awakened after over 1000 years of slumber, he’d like to take over the world and rule humanity, and sets out to do so. He has four horsemen to help with his attempt, including the antihero Magneto (Michael Fassbender). As for the X-Men, it’ll be up to Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and company to save the day once again. Bryan Singer is in the director’s chair one more time here, with the script coming from Simon Kinberg, based on a story by Kinberg, Singer, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris. The cast, besides those mentioned above, include Rose Byrne, Ben Hardy, Josh Helman, Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Munn, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lucas Till, Sophie Turner, and more…including perhaps a cameo by everyone’s favorite mutant.

I can’t say that I was wild about X-Men: Apocalypse, though it’s hardly a bad film, just one that often seems to be going through the motions. Fans of the franchise will probably find it to be middle of the road, though I think it’s one of their lesser outings. Better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand, the flicks falls short of X-Men, while paling in comparison to Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, and […]

Golden Globe results: Surprises and Upsets everywhere as ‘The Martian’ and ‘The Revenant’ emerge victorious

Wow. Just…wow. As much as I try to prepare myself for the unexpected, last night’s 73rd Golden Globe Awards was still something else. My predictions, along with everyone else in the industry, were way off, as curveball after curveball came our way. It turned out to be a very good night for The Revenant, with The Martian also having a strong showing. As good as it was for those two, it was a poor night for both The Big Short and Spotlight, as shut outs were pitched. Hell, even Steve Jobs managed to come back from the dead and take home a pair of prizes. It was impossible to see all of this coming, though a few things were potential upsets heading into the night. Still…wow.
Where to start? Well, at the beginning, I guess. Nothing turned out as we expected it to, leading the night to be anything but routine. The Globes gave a big boost to Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s film The Revenant, as it led the way with three wins, emerging victorious in Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) for Leonardo DiCaprio, and Best Director for Iñárritu himself. The Martian and Steve Jobs were the only other two movies to win multiple awards, as the former took Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) and Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) for Matt Damon, while the latter took Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Kate Winslet and Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin. Other big wins went to Brie Larson for Room with the Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) category, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy with the Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) category, and Sylvester Stallone for Creed in Best Supporting Actor. Most of those were surprises too, to one degree or another. We even got an upset in Best Original Song, as “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre won. The only non surprises, outside of DiCaprio and Larson, were Inside Out winning Best Animated Feature Film, Son of Saul winning Best Motion Picture (Foreign Language), and Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight taking Best Original Score.
Below you’ll see all of the aforementioned wins in the film categories (even though that really does cover it), along with the television categories, which was highlighted for me by Oscar Isaac winning an award for his performance in […]

Updated Golden Globe predictions

Believe it or not, the Golden Globe awards are coming, sooner than you think. Yes, it seems like just yesterday the nominations were announced, but now the actually ceremony is only a few weeks away (less than three weeks now, in fact). As such, it’s definitely time to update my predictions, reflecting for the first time the actual nominees. I’m not sure anything is obvious just yet with the Globes, though some potential frontrunners have definitely emerged. With the early date for the ceremony, we’ll possibly get to see new frontrunners put forward, or else the strongest contenders will just get stronger. Either way, it’ll most certainly contribute something to the awards season.
It seems like it’ll be Spotlight and The Martian emerging with big wins, though Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short could prove to be party poopers. My hunch is that both wind up with the Best Picture prizes here, with either Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy or The Martian’s Ridley Scott taking Best Director, though George Miller is a possible spoiler for Mad Max: Fury Road. Acting wise, things are less set in stone, though the Actor prizes potentially seem wrapped up for Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant and Matt Damon in The Martian. That being said, the former has competition from Bryan Cranston in Trumbo and the latter has from Steve Carell in The Big Short. Actress wise, I think Brie Larson in Room and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy seem like the safe bets, though neither is locked in. The same goes for Supporting Actor with Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies and Supporting Actress with Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight, now that I mention it. Essentially, nothing is a sure thing right now, and that’s exciting!
Obviously, the Academy Awards correlation is fairly limited here since it’s a completely different group of voters. Also, ballots are due a few days before the Globes have their show, with the Oscar nominations being announced a couple of days later, so if anything, this functions more as a potential barometer for the ultimate winners, not the nominees. Speeches can be tried out and victories are tried on for size by members of the Academy. It’s not nearly as important as the guilds are to the process, but it’s not quite as easy to dismiss as something like the Critics Choice Awards, so there’s that.
Here now is my first […]

“Joy”: Is the third time the charm for Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell?

Few filmmaker/acting teams have gotten the recent attention that Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell have received, with equal parts love and derision coming their way. As a fan of their collaborations American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, I was greatly looking forward to Joy, potentially as the instance where Russell would finally be awarded by the Academy. Obviously, Lawrence has been nominated both times before, and so has Russell in both writing and directing categories, but only Lawrence has won an Oscar. Could this finally be the time for them both of them to win, or even just for Russell? Well, with the film hitting theaters this week, I’ll be discussing just that…
For those completely unaware, the film is a slightly fictionalized look at businesswoman and inventor Joy Mangano (though the filmmakers have made this more of a composite character and not strictly about her, as explicitly stated in the opening title cards), a successful entrepreneur who hit it rather big with a special self wringing mop she designed. Lawrence portrays Joy as she goes from a young single mother in a dysfunctional family to the founder and matriarch of a powerful family business that will be a dynasty for generations to come. Through it all, she’s had to be a powerful woman in a decidedly male dominated world, dealing with adversity, failure, and those who constantly told her to quit while she was behind. Russell obviously directs the movie and co-writes with Annie Mumolo (who, as I’ve mentioned in a few previous articles, penned the initial script but now only receives a Story By credit here), while the supporting cast includes Bradley Cooper, De Niro, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez, Elisabeth Röhm, Isabella Rossellini, and many more.

I found the movie to be a mixed bag, definitely “lesser” Russell, but Lawrence again shines, having the filmmaker bring out the best in her. De Niro is very good as well, showing that Russell has a magic touch with him as well, but Lawrence is definitely best in show. She’s able to take a complicated character and portray her with a deep humanity, never betraying her roots. She’s tough when required, wounded when required, and always believable. Even when things around her are crumbling (both plot wise and also sometimes the film itself), Lawrence soars. The flick is a showcase for how she’s one of the best in the business, […]

A first crack at SAG predictions

Ahoy folks. I’ve been tackling Academy Award and Golden Globe predictions for a while now, as you all know, but there are of course other awards and/or precursors worth mentioning. Over the rest of the season, I’ll be trying to figure those out too, with today marking the starting point for 2015 as I attempt to decode what the Screen Actors Guild might do (with today also Black Friday, as we all do shopping, voters in various precursors are watching screeners). SAG is one of the most important precursors, mainly because it shows off what the acting branch of the Academy might be thinking. This year, with such a wide open race in almost all categories, you have to imagine that SAG will be one of the biggest guild announcements of the year.
Below you’ll see my predictions in all of the SAG categories, but keep in mind that it’s early and they’re completely subject to change. For example, I’ve hung back on going overboard on some films like Joy while going out on a few limbs that make more sense now than they likely will during crunch time. In any event…here you go:
Best Actor isn’t nearly as packed as in prior year, so make of that what you will. Last year, SAG went four out of five (nominating Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Keaton, and Eddie Redmayne…Gyllenhaal was swapped out for Bradley Cooper in Oscar’s lineup). Redmayne won here on his road to the Academy Award win, so that’s worth noting as well. At this point, it’s wide open for the win folks…
Michael Caine – Youth
Matt Damon – The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
Alternates: Johnny Depp (Black Mass) and Will Smith (Concussion)
Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio
With Best Actress, we’re going to have to look to see which direction voters go, though in year’s past they haven’t been too much help. Last time around SAG went four out of five with Oscar (only having to sub out Jennifer Aniston for Marion Cotillard, as Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike, and Reese Witherspoon all made the cut), so I’d expect a close relationship between the two awards once again. Still, it’s going to be hard for them to resist the younger ladies here here.
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Lily Tomlin – Grandma
Alternates: Blythe Danner (I’ll See […]

Jennifer Lawrence wraps up her first franchise with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

It’s going to be a busy end of the year for Jennifer Lawrence. Not only does she have another shot at an Oscar with the December release of Joy, she’s also wrapping up her first franchise with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, which hits theaters on Friday. Lawrence is also a part oft he X-Men franchise, but this is the series she’s headlined and has now seen through from start to finish. What’s interesting to me is that this now could open her up to taking more Academy Award friendly jobs, outside of the projects she makes with David O. Russell, of course. That potentially will make her an even bigger force to be reckoned with in the years to come…

In case you’ve been living under a rock, this franchise is set in a dystopian future where a battle to the death is used to keep citizens in line. Katniss (Lawrence) inadvertently becomes the face of the revolution, and as Part 2 of Mockingjay begins, the rebels are planning an all out assault on the capital. Of course, this will result in things changing forever, though Katniss has gone from being an almost incidental partner to a battle hardened warrior. Francis Lawrence again directs, while the script is also done again by the duo of Peter Craig and Danny Strong. In addition to Lawrence, the cast consists of Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Jeffrey Wright, and more.
The hope is that Lawrence can now double down on her dramatic work. The Hunger Games clearly made her a star, and she’s quite good in the films, but things like the upcoming Joy are more what I appreciate most from her and want to see more of. She’s rumored to be pairing with Darren Aronofsky on an independent film next year, and that’s incredibly exciting to hear. I would have loved her to have stayed on with the romantic comedy The Rosie Project (it’s a great book), but perhaps she’ll find something else to pair up on with direct Richard Linklater and scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber? At the very least, I expect this new opening in her calendar to enable to her to continue working with Russell indefinitely. She’s as big an A-lister as there is in the business, so the cinematic […]

A second crack at Golden Globe predictions

Here in the heart of the month of November, I think it’s high time to take my second crack at some Golden Globe predictions. As previously mentioned last month, I’ll be mixing these in with Oscar predictions somewhat consistently going forward, but early Globe picks are always really interesting to me, especially since sometimes you’re still guessing category placement (which is slowly being reported in the trades this week) and just what the tastes of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will look like at the current time. They’re almost impossible to accurately guess off the bat the first couple of times around, but that little factoid has yet to stop me from trying all the same. Here goes nothing once again!
What you’ll notice below this time around with the predictions is that we have some noticeable changes as well as some films/contenders that are settling in for a long awards run. Category swaps have come and affected Joy, Love & Mercy, and Trumbo, for example (not to mention confirmation of where The Martian is competing), but we still have the major players in Spotlight and such to look at. My hunch right now is that Spotlight is still able to do very well with the HFPA in advance of Oscar, with The Martian not far behind. This would set up the narrative that the two of those are going head to head for the big Academy Award statues. That can certainly change, especially if one of The Hateful Eight, Joy, or The Revenant really blows voters away, but there’s no reason not back that pair right now. As a bonus, I’m including a seventh potential slot in predictions for now, just to open the race up a bit. I may or may not keep it going forward (if so, it’ll likely only be as we get closer to nominations, not initially), but it’s there at the current moment, as you’ll see below…
Here you go ladies and gentlemen, my latest look at how the Golden Globe awards could shape up:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. Spotlight
2. The Revenant
3. Brooklyn
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Room
If there’s a sixth: The Danish Girl
If there’s a seventh: Bridge of Spies
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. The Martian
2. Joy
3. The Big Short
4. Trainwreck
5. Grandma
If there’s a sixth: Our Brand is Crisis
If there’s a seventh: Spy
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
2. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
3. Eddie Redmayne – The […]

Which categories will be the most competitive this year?

Of the many things that you can consider when thinking about the Oscar race, one that I like to ponder from time to time is which categories will be the most competitive. I hinted at this in another piece this week, but certain categories are shaping up to be stronger than other ones. That being said, instead of looking at strengths and weaknesses, I figured today I’d see which ones seem like they’ll be the most competitive. That opens things up to more combine quality and quantity, as it were. This is a wide open year in general, so it’s only fitting that so many categories seem to be that way as well…
Below are the half dozen most competitive categories, as it stands right now:
6. Best Actress – After a bit of a drought, we have a group of Actress contenders that we can be quite proud of. Of course, who will win is wide open, but it’s not a situation where there’s only six or seven legitimate contenders for a nod. Vying for a nom here are the likes of Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Blythe Danner, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling, Saorise Ronan, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin, and more. That’s ten right there. Nothing to sneeze at, right? It’s a tight race, and one that’s certainly among the most competitive that the Academy will have to offer us this year.
5. Best Visual Effects – Here’s a category that will really be an embarrassment of riches. Basically, there’s a bunch of different styles on display that voters will have to choose from. Contenders like Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, In the Heart of the Sea, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Walk, and more will be up for a nomination. Usually, this category has one or two frontrunners and then some also rans, but that’s not the case this year. I can see it going any number of different ways, and that’s a delight.
4. Best Supporting Actor – As jam packed as any category this year, Supporting Actor could be a photo finish. Among the large number of contenders, there are the likes of Paul Dano, Benicio del Toro, Bruce Dern, Joel Edgerton, Idris Elba, Sam Elliot, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Michael Keaton, Harvey Keitel, Seth Rogen, Mark Ruffalo, Kurt Russell, Mark Rylance, and Jason Segel. That’s […]

Hollywood Contenders – “Steve Jobs”: Oscar predictions for November

Maybe I was just distracted by watching the New York Mets in the playoffs this fall, but I think the time is flying folks. It’s already November, which is getting to be late in the game. A couple of precursors have already announced their nominees, we only really have four unseen major contenders left (The Big Short, The Hateful Eight, Joy, and The Revenant), and some presumed frontrunners in a couple of categories have emerged. At the same time though, we’re almost done with the year and no category is locked up yet (yes, not even Best Animated Feature…the closest one would be Best Foreign Language Feature). Simply put, it’s an exciting time and a perfect moment to update my Academy Award predictions yet again.
The big thing people have been debating (besides if The Martian can actually win in the big categories, but I’ll be tackling that in an article early next week) is how much Steve Jobs is hurt by the lack of a strong box office. Some think it’s barely been affected, some think it’s dead in the water. Me? I think the truth is somewhere in between. I’m of the opinion that wins might be a struggle now without the public interest that was expected, and even a few down the line nominations might be tougher to get, but the majority of its campaign should remain the same. Voters don’t consider box office like analysts do, so this is more perception than actual reality. Steve Jobs was hurt by bombing financially, but it’s still very much in the race. It’s certainly something to keep in mind though, moving forward…
Here now is how I see the Oscar nominations, as of the beginning of November:
BEST PICTURE
1. Spotlight
2. The Martian
3. Room
4. The Revenant
5. Joy
6. The Hateful Eight
7. Steve Jobs
8. Brooklyn
9. The Big Short
10. Carol
Next in line: 11. The Danish Girl 12. Bridge of Spies 13. Inside Out 14. Son of Saul 15. Sicario 16. In the Heart of the Sea 17. Concussion 18. Miles Ahead (possible 2016 release) 19. Beasts of No Nation 20. Macbeth 21. Mad Max: Fury Road 22. Black Mass 23. 45 Years 24. 45 By the Sea 25. Suffragette 26. Truth 27. Straight Outta Compton 28. Our Brand is Crisis 29. Anomalisa 30. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
2. Ridley Scott – The Martian
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Quentin Tarantino – […]

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