September 19, 2015
        “Inside Out”: Looking at potential Best Animated Feature Contenders                "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        

Tag Archives: Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise’s Ten Best Performances

Few A-list movie stars these days have been as durable as Tom Cruise. He can take a licking and keep on ticking, while still showing us something new from time to time. With the release this weekend of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, I wanted to take a look at the career of Cruise and pick out his very best acting jobs. As such, below you can find what I feel to be his top ten performances to date. While he’s focused on action roles of late, I think the next stage of his career will return him to drama, which is exciting, as he’s overdue an Academy Award. As always, this is just my take on things, but I do hope that you enjoy!
Here now are what I think are the ten best performances of Cruise’s so far…
10. Lions for Lambs – Not the best film he’s ever been involved in, but Cruise is almost too perfect as a Republican politician. The million dollar smile that occasionally can seem on the empty side is used to terrific effect here. It’s an incredibly underrated performance and one of the last times he’s attempted straight drama over the past decade or so.
9. A Few Good Men – Cruise spouting Aaron Sorkin dialogue is really a joy for me, and if he doesn’t have the flashiest part in the flick, he still makes his work rather memorable. He gets to go toe to toe with Jack Nicholson in court, as well as have a number of humorous lines that break up tension. It isn’t usually mentioned among his best works, but it should be.
8. Risky Business – The role that really made Cruise a star, it’s a strong performance that’s comedic, but also a bit of a straight man part as well. It’s a teen sex comedy, but one with a darker underbelly and a sense of maturity at times that I think is rare for the genre. As soon as he danced around in his underwear in that iconic scene, you knew that he was rocketing to the A-list. It was only a matter of time.
7. Collateral – A rare villainous turn by Cruise, it shows his magnetism used for evil instead of good, to great effect I might add. Intense and somewhat haunting with all of his liability stripped away, he still manages to be incredibly captivating. It’s the sort […]

Ranking the films of Cameron Crowe

I’m a big fan of positivity, especially when it comes to the film industry, since it seems to be at a premium most of the time. Two weeks ago, filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s latest movie Aloha opened to rather poor reviews, some of which began to look back and degrade his canon on the whole. In an attempt to keep it positive, I wanted to look back on Crowe’s filmography and rank his work to date, especially since I’m one of the few who feel that he’s basically never had a true “bad” movie. Some of his films are better than the others, of course, but they all have value…
Here’s my ranking of the films from writer/director Cameron Crowe:
1. Almost Famous – Crowe’s masterpiece and one of the best films of the last 25 years (along with one of my five favorites of all time), this is basically a perfect piece of cinema. A passion project based on Crowe’s childhood, it’s just brilliant on every single level. Multiple scenes are forever engrained in my mind, and I know I’m not alone. As a bonus, this is one of the few films that only gets better when you see more of it, as the three hour “Untitled” extended edition proves.
2. Jerry Maguire – One of the more quotable movies ever, this is Crowe at his most crowd pleasing. Armed with Tom Cruise in perhaps his peak form, at least charisma wise, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this romantic dramedy. By the time you hear “You had me at hello”, the film already has you. It’s probably the outing of Crowe’s that I’ve revisited most, due to just how pleasing it is, on pretty much all levels.
3. Say Anything – A very good film on its own, it’s made even better by the now iconic scene of John Cusack holding a boombox over his head, to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. Crowe was making his directorial debut here, after making a name for himself by writing the book and screenplay adaptation for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so he was a work in progress. Still, this is an incredibly accomplished debut, full of hints that he was going to one day become the best in the business.
4. Elizabethtown – Here’s one that I love way more than almost anyone else. I have a soft spot in […]

Cameron Crowe returns to the big screen with “Aloha”

One of my favorite filmmakers out there is Cameron Crowe, bar none. He’s responsible for some of the most enjoyable and memorable cinema of the past few decades, so whenever a new film of his arrives, it’s something that I look forward to in a big way. As such, this week’s release of Aloha is one that’s been on my movie calendar for a while now. The director is returning to a project that he’d originally intended to be his follow up to Elizabethtown (a film that I unabashedly love, even if I’m in the minority), so it’s clear it means something to him. When I see it later tonight (we’re embargoed on discussing it until later in the week, by the by), hopefully that passion is reflected.
The film (once called Deep Tiki and rumored to star Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon before being shelved for a while and re-emerging from Crowe’s mind as Aloha) is a Hawaii set romantic dramedy, sure to be filled with memorable music. It centers around a military contractor (played by Bradley Cooper) who returns to the Hawaiian location of one of his greatest career triumphs. While there, he re-connects with a long-ago love (played by Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling in love with the Air Force watchdog (played by Emma Stone) who is assigned to him be with him at all times. Crowe obviously writes and directs, while the cast, aside from Cooper, McAdams, and Stone, features Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Elizabeth Marvel, and many more.
Throughout Crowe’s career, he’s had a great sense of music, relationships, and just filmmaking on the whole that makes you want to stand up and cheer. If any of that is once again in evidence here, it’ll make for a very entertaining film. Even if this is one of his lesser features, like the still enjoyable We Bought a Zoo, for example, it’ll still be something likely worth seeing. Factor in how great of a run Cooper is on of late, and that only makes this something more interesting. When Crowe is at his best, we get all time classics like Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, so even if he’s not on that level, expectations should still be high.
Yes, the trailers so far have made this feel a bit on the generic side, but sometimes that actually winds up working in a movie’s favor. Without […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Tom Cruise

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a real A-lister, and that happens to be Tom Cruise. For some, he’s become just an aging action hero, while others long for the days when he still did drama. Personally, I’m still enamored with the star power of Cruise in anything he does. He also happens to be an underrated actor, which you wouldn’t have believed just a decade ago when he seemed poised to finally win an Oscar. Yes, he does seem mostly geared towards action these days, but Cruise built his career working with A-list filmmakers. He got to the top by acting in the movies of the best in the business.
Cruise has worked with a lot of top notch directors over his career. Names like J.J. Abrams, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brad Bird, Cameron Crowe, Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Robert Redford, Rob Reiner, Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, John Woo, and Edward Zwick litter his resume, and they’re not the only ones. This weekend’s Edge of Tomorrow adds Doug Liman to that list as well. If you look at his best performances, they often come from real auteurs like Anderson, Crowe, Kubrick, and Spielberg. I’d argue that the man has never given a bad performance, but those top tier ones have come from the biggest names in Hollywood.
If you look at his work, he’s shown an ability to do just about everything. He’s obviously become a tremendous movie star, and it was partially because he wasn’t pigeonholed. He was an action star in films like the Mission: Impossible franchise and something like Top Gun, a romantic lead in comedy/dramedy work like Jerry Maguire and Risky Business, a dramatic lead in awards bait like Born on the Fourth of July and Rain Man, and even could completely disappear into a supporting role in films like Magnolia and Tropic Thunder (where he demonstrated real comedy chops too). I’d argue there’s nothing that the man can’t do. He just needs to mix it up more. I’m fully confident that if he committed himself to doing a drama or an indie film every other year or so, he’d have another Oscar nomination before long and he’d probably be on pace to eventually win himself an Academy Award.
Overall, Cruise is an incredibly talented actor who still has a ton of miles still to […]

Heath Ledger: The Top 25 (Best Supporting Actor)

Continuing on with this weekly series I’m doing for the site, we’re in the midst of talking the top 25 Oscar winners in just about every single one of the Academy Award categories. Aside from the shorts and something a bit harder to rank like Best Sound Editing or Mixing as I mentioned previously, I’ll be hitting them all over the coming weeks and months, including of course the big eight categories.
Today I’ll be going ahead and knocking off another of those rather big ones, the ever interesting Best Supporting Actor category. As always, depending on the category in question, I may wind up discussing the individual winners I’m citing specifically or just give more of a broad overview of the winners, but I’m keeping it simple for this one and will focus on the list. Like I’ve said each week though, in all honesty, you all mostly just want to see the list anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that particular regard. All you have to do is just be patient over the paragraph or two…
Best Supporting Actress is an incredibly interesting Oscar category without question, due in part to some of the more interesting names that you can see sometimes pop up as winners. I’ll be honest and let you all know that I personally find this to be the weakest of the acting categories, but there are some outstanding winners to be found here, no doubt about that. I know my number one choice isn’t necessarily going to be a popular one, but I stand by it, as you’ll see below!
This week, for this particular acting category, what I’m going to do is give you the list right now, along with a few words about some of the top choices at the end. The big eight categories cater to this style nicely I think, so that’s likely how I’ll continue to handle these going forward. Here we go now though…
My Top 25 Best Supporting Actor winners are:
25. Louis Gossett Jr. – An Officer and a Gentleman
24. Walter Huston – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
23. Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
22. Joel Grey – Cabaret
21. Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby
20. Christopher Plummer – Beginners
19. Jack Nicholson – Terms of Endearment
18. Gene Hackman – Unforgiven
17. Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts
16. Chris Cooper – Adaptation
15. Martin Landau – Ed Wood
14. George Kennedy – Cool Hand […]

“We Bought A Zoo” reactions hit the Web

By Sean O’Connell In what has become an open season of anticipated sneak peeks, Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” took over multiplexes across American Saturday night to unveil his upcoming family comedy … nearly a month before its official Christmas Day release.
What spurred the movement? Was it confidence on Team Fox’s part to show a film they believed would generate strong word-of-mouth? Or was it an attempt to get ahead of what’s looking like an incredibly crowded Christmas frame, where audiences will have to choose between two Steven Spielberg films, David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” remake, Tom Cruise’s latest “Mission: Impossible,” and the doomsday thriller “The Darkest Hour.”
No matter the strategy, for the most part, the early sneak worked. Crowe’s new film is being judged against his last narrative feature, “Elizabethtown,” and from there, there’s no place to go but up. Curious patrons probably went in wondering if this was a step back toward the edgier filmmaking Crowe did with “Singles,” “Almost Famous” or “Vanilla Sky.” Yet this appears to be, as Drew McWeeny on HitFix puts it, “a big fat right down the middle mainstream family movie.”
And that’s one place Crowe hasn’t necessarily treaded too often. A critics’ darling (for the most part), Crowe isn’t a box-office force. Only “Sky” and the Oscar-winning “Jerry Maguire” have topped $100 million over the course of his career. After that, “Almost Famous” is his top earner with $32M.
“Zoo” could end up being his most commercial film, one with the potential to hit big during a movie-friendly, family-oriented holiday.
But critical opinion wasn’t the point of Saturday’s sneaks. Crowe reportedly wanted Joe and Jane Public to weigh in on the drama, then post their reactions to Tout, a social-media sharing format. The Twitter feed @WeBoughtAZoo stayed busy all evening retweeting audience reactions to the film. Tout slowly filled with video responses from savvy patrons. And Crowe, himself, solicited feedback on his Web site,
This appears to be a marketing win for 20th Century Fox, as feedback from the screenings was largely positive. We’ll see next month if the early preview can generate ticket sales for “Zoo,” as competition stiffens from heavy hitter at other studios.
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Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson in first “We Bought a Zoo” trailer – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Once the frenzy surrounding the Toronto International Film Festival draws to a close, I’m going to do a comprehensive piece on the “unknowns,” the Oscar hopefuls that have yet to glide across our radars. I’ll turn my attention to Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar,” Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Phyllida Lloyd’s “The Iron Lady” and Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” for sure.
And then there’s Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo,” which I’m starting to expect has the potential to make a bigger splash than maybe we think at this early stage of the race.
Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” didn’t live up to his standards, and it helps us forget that he’s responsible for such powerful and engaging films as “Say Anything,” “Almost Famous” and “Jerry Maguire.” That last one — which earned Cuba Gooding Jr. a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as well as nominations for Best Actor (Tom Cruise), Film Editing (Joe Hutshing), Writing (Crowe) and Picture — comes to mind watching the first trailer for “Zoo.” The film stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in the story of a man who moves his family to the rural confines of Southern California to renovate a failing zoo.
The trailer’s below. It has all of the elements we’ve come to want in a Crowe film, from an endearing lead character with adorable kids to the perfectly selected Tom Petty track “Don’t Come Around Here No More” as his music bed. Can “We Bought a Zoo” find its way into the Oscar race? Is it even an awards film, or just a crowd-pleaser from a gifted storyteller who has shown over the years that he’s capable of spinning a winning tale?
“Zoo” opens everywhere on Dec. 23.
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Oscars: Will Natalie Portman Lose Oscar?

By Paul Sheehan at As the saying goes, “Win on Saturday, lose on Sunday.” This axiom refers to the less-than-impressive track record of Indie Spirit winners repeating at the Academy Awards. Of the 48 Indie Spirit acting champs to contend the following day at the Oscars, only 10 of them have won there as well.
Last year, two of the four acting champs celebrated double victories — Best Actor Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”) and Supporting Actress Mo’Nique (“Precious”). Spirit winner Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) lost the Best Actress Oscar to Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) while Woody Harrelson was defeated by Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”). Two years ago, just one of the three Spirit winners in the running at the Oscars prevailed — Supporting Actress champ Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”). Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”) was edged out of Best Actor by Sean Penn (“Milk”) while Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”) lost Best Actress to Kate Winslet (“The Reader”). Spirits supporting actor winner James Franco (“Milk”) was not nominated at the Oscars.
The trend of the Spirits winner also contending at the Oscars dates back to the first Indies in 1985 when Geraldine Page (“The Trip to Bountiful”) won Best Actress with both groups. Since then, Frances McDormand (“Fargo,” 1996), Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry,” 1999), and Charlize Theron (“Monster,” 2003) have repeated in this race. The 11 Spirit Best Actress winners who lost at the Oscars were:
1987: Sally Kirkland (“Anna”) lost to Cher (“Moonstruck”);
1990: Angelica Huston (“The Grifters”) lost to Kathy Bates (“Misery”);
1995: Elisabeth Shue (“Leaving Las Vegas”) lost to Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”);
1997: Julie Christie (“Afterglow”) lost to Helen Hunt (“As Good As It Gets”);
2000: Ellen Burstyn (“Requiem for a Dream”) lost to Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”);
2001: Sissy Spacek (“In the Bedroom”) lost to Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”);
2002: Julianne Moore (“Far From Heaven”) lost to Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”);
2004: Catalina Sandino Moreno (“Maria Full of Grace”) lost to Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”);
2005: Felicity Huffman (“Transamerica”) lost to Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”);
2007: Ellen Page (“Juno”) lost to Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”); and
2009: Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) lost to Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”).
Of the 15 Spirit Best Actor champs to compete at the Oscars only two — Bridges and Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote,” 2005) — prevailed there as well. The Spirit winners who were Oscar losers were:
1986: James Woods (“Salvador”) lost to Paul Newman (“The Color of […]

Tom Cruise’s ‘Knight and Day': Beaten to a Pulp By Adam Sandler

By Roger Friedman Tom Cruise had a bad Friday, the third day of release for “Knight and Day.” The film made $6.35 million, versus over $14.5 million for Adam Ssndler’s “Grown Ups.” The former film took three days to make a little less than what the latter did in one night.
Cruise was never a huge box office draw on his own. His biggest hits, “The Firm,” “Rain Man,” and “A Few Good Men,” were ensemble pieces with talented supporting casts and well thought out, well executed scripts.
Films like “Vanilla Sky” and “The Last Samurai” were not good, and not blockbusters. They averaged $100 million domestically, but cost a lot, too.
Cruise’s big films were always the franchise entries: the Mission Impossible series, the Bruckheimer films.”Eyes Wide Shut” was a financial disaster. Steven Spielberg batted .500 with him–”Minority Report” did about $135, “War of the Worlds” about $235 million.
In his long resume, only “Jerry Maguire” stands out as an artistic and commercial achievement with $152 million and a Cruise Oscar nom. It’s Cruise’s best film, hands down. His other Best Actor Oscar nomination was for “Born on the Fourth of July.” It brought in only took in $79 mil.
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“Knight and Day” fails to go as dark as it could

By Scott Mendelson I can only wonder what kind of film James Mangold’s “Knight and Day” would have been had it just been another action vehicle for a Tom Cruise (pre-2005) who was not in the midst of a PR-mandated comeback. Despite the fact that Cruise’s pictures have done just fine since his 2005 couch-jumping, Scientology-hyping PR-meltdown, there is a perception that Cruise has lost his luster as a genuine movie star. So along comes “Knight and Day,” a variation on the ‘wronged-man on the run with quasi-kidnapped female’ story, which theoretically casts Tom Cruise as a borderline-satirical version on the Cruise persona (insanely-driven action hero with a touch with the ladies). As a satire on the stereotypical Tom Cruise action picture, it has its moments and its charm. But the film lacks the courage of its convictions, as well as the ability to take the story into territory that a more fearless Cruise of the 1990s would crash headlong into without thinking twice.
A token amount of plot: June Havens (Cameron Diaz) is returning home in order to attend her sister’s wedding. However, a chance encounter with handsome and charming stranger Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) sets her on a path into danger and international intrigue. As the stakes mount and the body count rises, June finds herself questioning who is on her side, who is using her, and who is trying to kill her. Can she trust this apparent super spy with her life? Or is the would-be 007 a rogue agent who has gone completely insane and/or is working with nefarious forces?
The film works primarily as a pure action picture, with several glorious set-pieces that are completely absurd in their construction, yet oddly plausible because so much of the action seems practical. It is no small irony that action scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in a “Looney Tunes” cartoon achieve a certain realism purely by staging them the old-fashioned way. What a delight to see real stunt-work, real fight choreography, and actual vehicle destruction on a grand scale. Another oddity rests in the fact that Tom Cruise, once Hollywood’s preeminent superstar, has crafted something that resembles a B-movie in comparison to the more outlandish, fantasy-based entertainments of recent summers. The film is not cheap, and it certainly never looks cheap, but there is a quaint old-fashioned feel to the couple-on-the-run narrative and the practical action scenes.
But the […]

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