July 24, 2016
        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"                Aaron Eckhart has plum supporting roles in "Bleed for This" and "Sully"                "Cafe Society", "Captain Fantastic", and "Ghostbusters": Films to see in July        

Tag Archives: Jesse Eisenberg

Woody Allen has another crowd pleaser on his hands with “Cafe Society”

It’s always a slightly underrated pleasure in my eyes that we get a new Woody Allen movie each year, without delay. This week, he brings us yet another one, and I’m quite fond of it as well, if you’ve noticed my praise here and there over the course of the month. It’s Cafe Society, which is one of my favorites of 2016 so far. Not only is it a return to form of sorts for Allen (as folks always like to claim), but it’s a fantastic turn for Kristen Stewart, who is a perfect match for the material. It all comes together in a really pleasurable way. It’s just a damn good movie.
This is another period piece from Allen, this one set in the 1930’s, both in New York City and Hollywood as well. Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) moves from the Bronx to Tinseltown in search of a job in the movie industry, which he gets due to his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), an agent to the stars. Not only does he have an in, but Bobby also meets Phil’s secretary Vonnie (Stewart), which whom he falls head over heels in love. I won’t say where it goes, but it has more to say about love than you might initially think. Stewart writes, directs, and narrates, with the cast, in addition to the main three mentioned above, including Jeannie Berlin, Anna Camp, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider, Corey Stoll, Ken Stott, and more. Cinematography here is done by the legendary Vittorio Storaro.
Much like earlier this week with Equals, Stewart shines here. She, along with Storaro’s visuals, which are my favorite of the year. There’s just a vibrance from both on display here that just mix with Allen in a phenomenal way. It’s so luminous, you can’t help but fall under its spell. You can make the case that Woody is cribbing from his own filmography again, but he’s choosing top notch outings of his own to utilize, so that’s all good in my book. Carell, Eisenberg, and Lively are strong as well, as is Stoll in a small role, but Stewart completely steals the show.
Awards wise, Cafe Society could be the sort of Allen flick to make a play with the Academy. In terms of categories, look for campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Allen), Best Actor (for Eisenberg), Best Supporting Actor (for Carell), Best Supporting Actress (for Lively […]

Mark Ruffalo is part of another franchise with “Now You See Me 2”

It’s no secret that Mark Ruffalo is one of the best and most likable actors out there right now. Not only is he immensely skilled, he just appears to be beloved as a human being as well. Ruffalo has broken through in a bigger way over the last few years, both in terms of Oscar nominations and also bigger budget films. He’s already a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but now he can list Now You See Me as another movie franchise of his. This week, Now You See Me 2 opens in theaters and should only increase Ruffalo’s A-list star power, rightly so, I might add.
The film is a sequel to Now You See Me, the surprise hit from a few years back. It concerns a magic act that also doubles as a Robin Hood type heist team. Ruffalo plays Dylan Rhodes, who in the last flick was hunting The Four Horsemen, but now he’s teamed up with them and almost a mentor of sorts. When a potentially evil tech genius ropes them into pulling off a heist for him, the vigilante group is faced with their biggest act of magic yet. Essentially, it’s more of the same, combining magic with a crime thriller, but apparently crowd pleasing as well. Jon M. Chu directs from a script written by Ed Solomon ( with story credit to Pete Chiarelli), and the cast is pretty A list besides Ruffalo, including Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, and more.

For my money, few are more due an Academy Award than Ruffalo is. Yes, he’s been nominated three times in the Best Supporting Actor category (for Foxcatcher, The Kids Are All Right, and Spotlight), but he’s yet to be cited in Best Actor and is overdue a win, not just a nomination. He’s shown tremendous range, which you don’t always see from someone, and his varied career shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a matter of if, not when, for Ruffalo to win, so once he has the right vehicle, I suspect that he’ll steamroll through the awards season. The precursors will pick him up and push him to the podium on Oscar night before long, mark my words.

Ruffalo now officially has a pair of franchises in his back pocket, which is a good place for his career to be […]

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” explodes on to screens

It’s finally happened. After years of false starts, Batman and Superman finally share the screen. Last night, I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I can report that it is far from a disaster, as some have tried to put out there. Honestly, it’s a flawed yet very interesting film, one that is as ambitious as any superhero flick to date, but one that can only sometimes reach the goals it sets out for itself. I liked the movie more than I didn’t, so I’m one of the defenders, I suppose, though I definitely see the criticisms put forth by my colleagues. It’s certainly worth seeing, but it’s a film that won’t be evolving the comic book genre anytime soon. It comes out this weekend, so with the embargo having been lifted, let us now discuss Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a bit.
The film is both a sequel to Man of Steel, a prequel to the impending Justice League movies, and also a re-introduction to Batman. The movie actually picks up where Man of Steel left off (and during, essentially, with Bruce Wayne witnessing the battle with Zod as it destroys a city), with the citizens of Metropolis/the world debating the merits of Superman (Henry Cavill) being a god among men. This escalates in the wake of another incident involving Superman that results in loss of life. This captures the attention of Batman (Ben Affleck) over in Gotham City, who has been fighting crime there for years. He begins plotting to take down the alien, and after a time they cross paths, with some fighting to ensue before they get on the same page to overcome Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Luther has been manipulating them the whole time, so their team up is necessary, along with a certain other hero, to take down what we see eventually is his creation of Doomsday. Man of Steel’s Zack Snyder returns to direct, with David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio co-writing the script here. The cast, aside from the aforementioned Affleck, Cavill, and Eisenberg includes Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Scoot McNairy, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Michael Shannon (sort of), and many more (remember, Jena Malone was cut from the flick). For those wondering, the score is done by the team of Junkie XL as well as […]

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” gets an intense new Trailer

Late last night, a big new Trailer was dropped for next year’s giant superhero spectacle Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We’re only about three months out from this blockbuster, so it makes sense that Warner Brothers is really beginning to push it on us. Once we hit January, I suspect that the marketing blitz will be huge, but yesterday their third Trailer was unveiled, and for my money this is the best one yet. We all know that we’re going to be getting an epic showdown between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, but this showcases a whole lot more. You’ll see the Trailer below, but I also want to set the stage for the film a bit as well, so that’s what I’ll be doing right now.

I’m sure that this is no surprise to any of you still, but this film is going to set up a Justice League team up for the Warner Brothers/DC slate of heroes in the near future. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice picks up where Man of Steel left off, with the citizens of Metropolis debating the merits of Superman (Henry Cavill) being a god among men. This captures the attention of Batman (Ben Affleck) over in Gotham City, and they cross paths, with much fighting to ensue before they get on the same page to overcome Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and what we now see is his creation of Doomsday. Man of Steel’s Zack Snyder returns to direct, with David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio co-writing the script. The cast, aside from the aforementioned Affleck, Cavill, and Eisenberg includes Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Harry Lennix, Jena Malone, Scoot McNairy, Jason Momoa, Michael Shannon (sort of), and many more. For those wondering, the score is done by the team of Junkie XL as well as the great Hans Zimmer.
What we’re seeing here is that the movie is going to be a huge action flick, in addition to a gritty battle of heroes. The three minute Trailer gives you a bit more of the fight scenes, a set up involving Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne meeting, how Luther is involved in it all, and finally, what leads to Wonder Woman arriving, which is also what brings Batman and Superman together. That’s actually the Superman villain Doomsday, who is one […]

“Grandma” and “Mistress America”: Ten Films to see in August

Welcome to August folks! As always, I like to take a look at the month in advance to see what cinematic offerings are coming our way. This time out, it’s obviously the August releases that I’m going to be prepping you for, and once again as an added bonus, I’ve seen a couple of them already. Despite the reputation that the month gets for being a summer dumping ground, there are reasons to be optimistic here. In fact, August is potentially shaping up to be a very solid month overall for cinema, so you’ll likely have multiple things to see starting later on this week. Take a look below and obviously stay tuned for more on many of these…
Here now are the ten best bets for movies in August:
10. Fantastic Four – The superhero reboot has my curiosity, despite the original outings being poor, at best. The cast is excellent (including Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Miles Teller), the behind the scenes talent is solid, and the Trailers so far have been strong. I see it in two days, so I’ll have a better idea then if this is an early August gem or not, but I have a hunch it’s going to be a well liked comic book film.
9. American Ultra – Last time we saw Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart share the screen, it was in the deeply underrated Adventureland, so I’m very hopeful that this will feature the same strong chemistry between them. This time it’s a stoner action comedy, not a coming of age dramedy, but my hope springs eternal. It’s definitely an X factor for now, but the potential is certainly there.
8. Ricki and the Flash – I see this one tonight, so I’ll know then if Meryl Streep is an Oscar lock again (look for an article before the week is out), but the combination of Streep with scribe Diablo Cody and director Jonathan Demme is more than enough to make me look forward to this evening. Throw in a potentially juicy supporting role for Kevin Kline and this could be right up the Academy’s alley. Stay tuned…
7. Shanghai – One of the surprises this month is that we’ll actually see this John Cusack period piece. A half decade ago I first started looking forward to this one, wondering if Cusack could score a Best Actor nod for it. That nom didn’t happen, […]

Leonardo DiCaprio: Looking at potential Best Actor contenders

Folks, as you all know from last year as well as my articles again so far 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 another 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 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 for us…the Best Actor category.

Here are the ten gentlemen that I have in play for Best Actor, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) – Everyone pretty much agrees that DiCaprio will win an Oscar one day, it’s just a matter of when. Could it be this year? He’s the odds on favorite for many, and while I’m not sure it will happen, I can’t argue that he seems to be the most likely contender right now. The Trailer we saw suggests a physical and intense role, so if he can impress as much as we think he potentially can here, it might just be his time.
2. Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans or Macbeth or Steve Jobs) – A lot will depend on which film asserts itself as Fassbender’s prime vehicle. Steve Jobs seems like it’ll be the one most likely to work for him, but that remains to be seen. I can’t shake the feeling that Fassbender isn’t going to win for that role, so perhaps The Light Between Oceans or Macbeth will wind up making a late charge? His candidacy is one of the more interesting subplots in this year’s Best Actor race, if you ask me…
3. Matt Damon (The Martian) – Perhaps a bit of wishful thinking on my part, […]

Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man”: Ten Films to look forward to in July

Folks, we’re about to enter the second half of the year. Yes, that’s the month of July, which is only days away. Later this week I’ll run down the best of the first half, but right now I wanted to highlight what you should make a point to see over the next month. I’ve seen most of the titles that I’m highlighting below, which just means that I can personally vouch for July easily being the best month for film so far in 2015. Take it from me…you won’t want to miss these flicks. Part Two of 2015 is going to be getting off to quite the start, I can assure you of that much.
Here now are the ten films to anticipate most over the course of July:
10. The Look of Silence – I saw this documentary last year at the New York Film Festival and I’m with all of my colleagues in finding it to be disturbing and powerful. Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow up to The Act of Killing is just as good and makes for an essential double feature in the making. Look for this to contend in the Best Documentary Feature and perhaps also in the Best Foreign Language Feature category as well.
9. Southpaw – I see this boxing drama in just a few short days and expect Jake Gyllenhaal to again leave an impact with his performance. The early word is that he’s a highlight, which is no surprise. The story appears a bit on the generic side, but if Gyllenhaal is as good as he can be, he’ll be in contention for another Academy Award nomination with this sports flick.
8. Paper Towns – At this point, anything that writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber decide to do has my attention. As such, their second John Green adaptation is no exception. Starring up and comer Nat Wolff, it appears like a charming high school set romantic mystery. Green’s work seems to want to make you cry as well, so we’ll see if that’s a side effect here or not.
7. Ant-Man – One of Marvel’s riskier bets, reviews so far have been mostly solid for this superhero flick. I see it next week and hope to have it more in line with Guardians of the Galaxy than some of the other outings from the studio that began characters, such as Thor. I like all of Marvel’s […]

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel sparkle in “The End of the Tour” Trailer

I’ve only been to the Sundance Film Festival once, but every single year I’m on the lookout for which titles from Park City could make the transition to the Academy Award race late in the year. Sundance this year had a handful of offerings that meet such criteria, but none captured my interest as much as The End of the Tour. The movie, from up and coming ace filmmaker James Ponsoldt, captured some of the fest’s best reviews and did in fact create some awards buzz, so today’s debut of a Trailer for the film (which you can see below) has me very excited about its possibilities.
If you’re not aware about the flick at all from Sundance, it’s a look at the time spent between Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and the celebrated late author David Foster Wallace, while the former interviews the latter for an article. They bond, talk, and some light is possibly shed on what went on in Wallace’s head. Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsyk, while Jason Segel is the legendary Wallace. In addition to those two, who really are the stars, the supporting cast consists of, in part, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, Mamie Gummer, Ron Livingston, and Mickey Sumner. The script was written by Donald Margulies, while Ponsoldt obviously directs.
There’s a lot to be excited about here, with Ponsoldt behind the camera representing one of them for sure. He’s an incredibly talented writer and director, with a few Oscar close calls to his credit already. From his feature debut Off the Black to his alcoholism drama Smashed to most recently his outstanding coming of age tale The Spectacular Now, Ponsoldt is undeniably three for three as a filmmaker. The End of the Tour has been said by some to be his best yet, and that’s incredibly high praise in my book. Going forward he has an adaptation of The Circle as well as potentially a Hilary Clinton biopic in the works, so his star is certainly on the rise, and rightfully so.
Another factor is how good Segel apparently is here. The former star of How I Met Your Mother has previously only been a comedic lead on the big screen (though he hits some great dramatic notes in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, by the by), so this is a real coming out party for him. Playing a mysterious real life character like Wallace doesn’t hurt either, as […]

AMERICAN ULTRA starring Jesse Eisenberg & Kristen Stewart

Get your first hit of Jesse Eisenberg & Kristen Stewart with a new image and teaser posters from Lionsgate’s AMERICAN ULTRA! From director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) and writer Max Landis (Chronicle), Eisenberg and Stewart reunite in this supercharged action-comedy about a stoner whose past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.

Buckle up and prepare for this ass-kicking romance and adventure when it blazes into theaters Friday, August 21!

Oscar Predictions for the month of May, 2015

Almost five full months into the 2015 movie season and I’m happy to report that we know zilch about the Oscar race. Why happy? Well, it means there’s plenty of fun guesswork to be done, and I’m all about that. The Cannes Film Festival has gotten underway and that can be used for a hint or two, but right now, it’s only eliminated one film (The Sea of Trees, which seems to be out of it entirely, outside of perhaps Matthew McConaughey) and made another a question mark (Woody Allen’s Irrational Man), with some other contenders like Carol still to screen. As such, your guess is as good as mine, which is part of the early year fun, at least in my book.
The one thing of note that I want to make mention of for this latest Oscar prediction update is that I expanded the fields a bit. The Best Picture lineup I’ve bumped up to 30, actually, with 15 for the other seven remaining categories that make up the “Big Eight”. As a bonus, I even went with ten for Best Animated Feature, just to have things as open as possible, which is what things are like right now, no question about it. My winners are still largely the same, including Steven Spielberg and his film Bridge of Spies, while something like Brooklyn or Carol is making its way up my rankings, slowly but surely. It’ll be a few months still until we have some semblance of an idea about the Oscar race, but right now, it’s a ton of fun to speculate…

Here now are my newest set of Academy Award predictions:
BEST PICTURE
1. Bridge of Spies
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Carol
4. The Light Between Oceans
5. Joy
6. The Martian
7. The Hateful Eight
8. Steve Jobs
9. The Revenant
10. Brooklyn
Next in line: 11. The End of the Tour 12. Ricki and the Flash 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Lion 15. MacBeth 16. Black Mass 17. By the Sea 18. Demolition 19. Freehold 20. Trainwreck 21. The Danish Girl 22. The Walk 23. Southpaw 24. In the Heart of the Sea 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 26. Bleed for This 27. Sicario 28. Irrational Man 29. Suffragette 30. Ex Machina
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Todd Haynes – Carol
5. Derek Cianfrance – The […]

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