January 17, 2017

Tag Archives: joseph gordon-levitt

“Snowden” is an important and entertaining biopic

About a week ago, I caught a screening of Snowden, but the embargo was still in place. Now, I can more comfortably say that it’s quite good, easily Oliver Stone’s best film in some time. Not only that, it’s a top notch role for and performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title part. Snowden has been looming for almost a year now, threatening to be a potential player in the Oscar race, and now that it’s about to hit this weekend, I can safely say that it’s a very strong film. As for its Academy Award prospects, well…that remains to be seen.
For those unaware, this biopic is a look at Edward Snowden (played here by Gordon-Levitt), who we see go from dedicated work in the military that’s cut short by injury to the work with the CIA and intelligence community that will make him famous/infamous. All the while, he’s attempting to carry on a loving relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). As he becomes more and more disillusioned with the government’s surveillance practices, he ends up deciding to speak out and show the American people what’s going on. Once he’s outed as a whistleblower though, the response is not exactly what he expected. Stone obviously directs and co-writes here with Kieran Fitzgerald (based on books by Luke Harding and Anatoly Kucherena), and he’s got a hell of a cast in place. In addition to Gordon-Levitt and Woodley in their roles, there’s supporting turns from Nicolas Cage, Ben Chaplin, Scott Eastwood, Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Logan Marshall-Green, Timothy Olyphant, Zachary Quinto, Joely Richardson, Ben Schnetzer, Keith Stanfield, and Tom Wilkinson, among others. Cinematography here is done by Academy Award winner Anthony Dod Mantle. All in all, the talent here is top notch.
What worked for me was the combination of Gordon-Levitt and Stone’s restrained enthusiasm for the story. I also enjoyed Woodley, though her part is somewhat underwritten. Gordon-Levitt finds the character in Snowden and embodies him in a way that captivates, regardless of your politics. I’m always a fan of JGL, but he’s especially good here. Similarly, Stone manages to not go overboard on conspiracy theories here, instead just being dedicated to telling a good story and making a good movie. As biopics go, this is a pretty strong one. If nothing else, this gets Stone back in the spotlight after a handful of disappointments.
If we’re talking awards, there’s a […]

A new Trailer for “Snowden” shows off the biopic as a potential Oscar player

Earlier today, a new full length Trailer dropped for Snowden, the Oliver Stone helmed biopic of a certain notorious whistleblower. This conspiracy/political thriller seems right up Stone’s wheelhouse, with an A-list cast on to help, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role. We’ve only seen little teases for the film so far, along with a delayed release from last year (when the movie apparently wasn’t finished yet) to this year, so it’s pretty much been an X factor. Now, a bit more is known, so some musings can be done. Of course, you can see the Trailer at the end of the piece, but for now, let’s dive in and see what we can potentially make of this one…
For those unaware, this is a biopic of Edward Snowden (played here by Gordon-Levitt), who we see go from dedicated work in the military to the work with the CIA that will make him famous/infamous, while carrying on a loving relationship with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). As he becomes more and more disillusioned with the government’s surveillance practices, he ends up deciding to speak out and show the American people what’s going on. Once he’s outed as a whistleblower though, the response is not exactly what he expected. Stone obviously directs and co-writes here with Kieran Fitzgerald (based on books by Luke Harding and Anatoly Kucherena), and he’s got a hell of a cast in place. In addition to Gordon-Levitt and Woodley in what seems to be the juiciest roles, there’s Nicolas Cage, Scott Eastwood, Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Timothy Olyphant, Zachary Quinto, Joely Richardson, Keith Stanfield, and Tom Wilkinson, among others. Cinematography here is done by Academy Award winner Anthony Dod Mantle.
Just going by the Trailer, it looks like this should be closer to Stone’s highly regarded works than his also rans. Gordon-Levitt seems very good too, though his accent could throw some off. I didn’t mind it, however, as he actually sounds like Snowden. Woodley is in a role that voters often take a shine too, so if she has the material, I’d expect her to receive some praise. Mostly, it just looks like a great companion piece to CitizenFour, offering up a fictional version of that award winning documentary. Provided Stone can keep some of his conspiracy theory tendencies in check, there appears to be a lot to like here.
Speculating on awards, there’s a chance that this could be […]

Oscar Isaac and Scarlett Johansson: Who’s most overdue for an Oscar nomination now?

Continuing to feed off of last week’s Academy Award nomination announcement (as well as yesterday’s piece on the snubs found within those nominations, in one or two cases), today I want to look at who happens to be most due a nod at this point. An Oscar nom is certainly no easy achievement, but you can usually look around at the actors and actresses who have never been nominated and find at least one missed opportunity on the part of the Academy. As such, today I’m again putting out a list of who deserves a nomination the most, updated since certain contenders like Jennifer Jason Leigh finally have their citation…

Here now are ten actors or actresses overdue for an Oscar nomination:
10. Zoe Kazan – Anyone who doesn’t consider Kazan to be overdue for a citation just isn’t paying attention. Look at The Exploding Girl or Ruby Sparks and you’ll see performances that were among the very best of their years. Kazan is as talented a writer as she is an actress though, so it seems only like a matter of time before Oscar finally takes notice of her.
9. Michael B. Jordan – Twice now Jordan has come close to getting voted in by the Academy. Fruitvale Station introduced him to them and this past year’s Creed almost won them over. Jordan is on a speeding train towards Oscar glory though, so I don’t think he has much to worry about. It’s just a shame it wasn’t this year, as I wrote about yesterday.
8. Kristen Stewart – Some might laugh at this notion, but Stewart has done some excellent work outside of the Twilight franchise. Simply pop in Adventureland, Clouds of Sils Maria, or On the Road and you’ll see what I mean. Stewart is a talented young actress, so while it should have happened for her already, it will at some point in the future…
7. Paul Dano – Another contender who was absolutely snubbed this year (again, he features in my article yesterday), Dano has come “this” close to nominations both for Love & Mercy as well as for There Will Be Blood. Factor in his work in Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, and well…there’s just no excuse. He’s going to no doubt win an award one day, so the nomination is just the first step. His wait likely won’t be much longer.
6. Emily Blunt – Blunt is a […]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: His best performances to date

Simply put, it’s hard to find a more charming up and coming A-lister in Hollywood right now than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He is one of the industries most uniquely talented actors, with an eye towards filmmaking as well. This week, he goes the raunchy buddy comedy route while mixing in the holiday movie route with The Night Before. Interestingly enough, this also re-teams him with a cast member and a director that led to some of his best work to date (Seth Rogen and Jonathan Levine, respectively. As such, I have a list of his best performances below for you to check out, after a bit on the new flick and what Gordon-Levitt’s career has been like so far…
The Night Before is a comedy centered around three friends (Gordon-Levitt and Rogen, along with Anthony Mackie) who have a Christmas tradition of going out and partying. As age and life interfere, they plan on one last night out this holiday season, and it becomes a memorable one, to put it mildly. A cross between a raunchy comedy and a holiday themed romantic comedy, it’s a weird mix, but it works. Levine directs and co-writes with Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir. In addition to the main trio of Gordon-Levitt, Mackie, and Rogen, the cast includes Jillian Bell, Lizzy Caplan, Nathan Fielder, James Franco, Ilana Glazer, Mindy Kaling, Michael Shannon (who steals the show), Lorraine Toussaint, and more.

A primer/revisit on the actor now from my piece on him last year: Gordon-Levitt got his start at a young age, first working in television at the tender age of just seven. He’d continue with small parts on the small screen up until he got a few tiny roles in films, including A River Runs Through It. He got his first lead in the remake of Angels in the Outfield, where he was first noticed. If not there, it was when he became a part of the hit TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun. Gordon-Levitt was beginning to make his mark in entertainment, though unlike many child stars, this wasn’t the pinnacle of their careers.
JGL’s screen presence was limited until he won over hearts in 10 Things I Hate About You. He and Heath Ledger made plenty of girls swoon, but critics took note of the talent they had. This film launched many a career, including our subject Gordon-Levitt’s. Plenty of people were excited […]

The Hollywood Film Awards Series: James Corden is the HFA host, but who will be Oscar’s?

With the recent announcement that James Corden was going to be the host of the 19th annual Hollywood Film Awards, I was struck by two notions. One was that it was a perfect reason to have another installment in the Hollywood Film Awards Series that we’ve been doing here, but also that it was an excuse to ponder who the Academy might choose to host the Oscars. Corden is an excellent choice for the Hollywood Film Awards and is a real get (much like Queen Latifah was the last time around for them), so the Academy Awards will have to try hard to top that pick. It’s doable, but the producers for the Oscars will have to really make an effort this time around. In honor of that, I figured I’d help and consider some names that might be worth sniffing around and offering the gig to…
Basically, what I’m going to do today is show you a few different categories that the producers could separate potential host candidates into. Believe me when I say that I don’t have an exhaustive list below for you, but what I have is a grab back that shows some of the possible avenues. So far, it’s anyone’s guess who the powers that be are partial to, but some rumors have thrown about names like Ellen DeGeneres and/or Steve Martin among former hosts, as well as the likes of Steve Carell and Justin Timberlake. I’ve included those names below, but among a handful of others alongside them.
The first grouping that I think is possible consists of former hosts. There’s the aforementioned Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Martin, but you’d have to also put Billy Crystal on that list as well. I’m not sure that this is the best way to go, but it’s the safest way to go. You can also look to Jon Stewart as another possible candidate among this grouping, though it remains to be seen if this is something he’d ever be interested in doing again. If he is, he’d be my pick of this litter, but given the choice, I’d shy away from a returning champion, as it were. There are more interesting choices elsewhere.
Next up is the obvious grouping of comedians/late night hosts, who are always under consideration. This list would include the likes of Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Amy Schumer. You never know how the […]

“Steve Jobs”: Ten Films to see in October

Folks, it’s just about to become October, and that’s crazy to me. It’s the thick of the fall festival season, which means that we’re also officially knee deep in awards season now. I think this month is one of the very best of the year so far, especially in terms of new releases, though that sort of goes without saying as we move deeper into the fall. As you’ll see, a multitude of Academy Award possibilities are hitting theaters, so that alone is a major boost to cinema offerings. Of course, there’s no assurance of Oscar attention, but I’m of the opinion that whenever we have a bunch of contenders circling the wagons, as it were, it’s a good thing. As such, this could be a really good month indeed. Take a look below and I’ll be more than happy to show you what October has to offer up for you all…
Here now are the ten best bets for flicks to see in the month of October:
10. Suffragette – One of a handful of civil rights related awards hopefuls for 2015, this one I can’t quite figure out. Reviews have been fine, the cast has been praised, but something about it seems slightly too on the nose for the Academy too fully embrace. Carey Mulligan might be its main hope, but we shall see. I had originally been scheduled to see it today, but now that’s happening early next week, so stay tuned there.
9. The Walk – I enjoyed Robert Zemeckis’ latest flick, particularly the third act, when the spectacle takes over and you see things you’ve never seen on screen before. This is probably not a contender outside of the technical categories, which is bad news for those hoping to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt nominated, but it’s a very entertaining film nonetheless. Just wait until you see the third act…
8. Our Brand is Crisis – Yes, I was predicting this to win Best Picture and Best Director for a fair bit of time. That time has seemingly come and gone, but perhaps the precursors will revive its chances? Sandra Bullock at least seems like a potential Best Actress nominee still, so there’s that. I tend to be a David Gordon Green fan, so even if it’s not his Oscar winner, it still could be a quirky good time at the movies.
7. Burnt – This is a big curiosity for me. […]

“The Walk” debuts at NYFF and tries to tightrope walk through the Oscar season

Over the weekend, audiences at the New York Film Festival were the very first to get a look at the new Robert Zemeckis movie The Walk, as NYFF officially got underway. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film is hoping to take some solid word of mouth and make itself into an Oscar player. As one of the few Academy Award hopefuls that hadn’t yet screened for the public, a fair amount was riding on this one. We certainly don’t have a new frontrunner on our hands or anything of the sort, but it’s not something to cross off your list either. The Walk is somewhere in between, which makes my job a bit harder, but that’s nothing really new for me…
For those unaware what the film is about, it’s a narrative feature version of the documentary Man on Wire. The doc, as well as this movie, centers on high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who in 1974 recruited a team to help him achieve his dream of walking a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers. As mentioned above, Zemeckis directs (as well as co-writes with Christopher Browne), Gordon-Levitt plays Petit, and the supporting cast includes James Badge Dale, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, Ben Schwartz, and Steve Valentine, among others. The flick features music by Alan Silvestri and cinematography from Dariusz Wolski, the latter of whom is contributing to what most folks are praising about The Walk…which is the visuals.
While Gordon-Levitt has received some decent notices for his performance, what the first pundits are shouting from the rooftops about (no pun intended) is the re-creation of Petit’s walk. Zemeckis, Wolski, and the visual effects team have flawlessly brought the Twin Towers to life, while the walk itself is rendered in 3D IMAX in such a way that you’ll never doubt the achievement’s craziness. Audience members with vertigo might find themselves a little uncomfortable…that’s how well done it is. Even those somewhat jaded at NYFF seemed rather impressed by the sequence, regardless of how they felt about the rest of the film. The reviews overall were decent, but that moment in the movie is getting raves.

In a way, both the best and worst thing for The Walk is how beloved Man on Wire is. It’s a previous Best Documentary Feature winner at the Oscars, and considered one of the better ones of late as well. What I mean by this is that the […]

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, […]

SNOWDEN starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto

The TEASER TRAILER for Open Road Film’s upcoming thriller, SNOWDEN, has arrived. Written and directed by Academy Award®-Winning Director Oliver Stone, SNOWDEN features an all-star cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans and Nicolas Cage. The script is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.
SNOWDEN stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is written and directed by Academy Award®-Winning Director Oliver Stone. The script is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2015
CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage
DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone
PRODUCERS: Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff, Philip Schulz-Deyle
WRITER: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
SNOWDEN Official Social Channels
Twitter: Twitter.com/snowdenthemovie
Facebook: Facebook.com/Snowdenthemovie
Instagram: Instagram.com/SnowdenTheMovie
Snapchat: SnowdenTheMovie
Website: snowdenfilm.com

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:
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
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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