October 23, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Tag Archives: kristen stewart

“Certain Women” showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams

There’s always something nice to be found when a bigger actor or actress continues to come back and work with the more independently minded filmmakers that helped launch them. In the case of Michelle Williams, she continually teams back up with writer/director Kelly Reichardt, with their latest collaboration being the drama Certain Women, which opens this week. They also bring on other strong actresses, though this time they have one of their best yet in Kristen Stewart, who is just terrific here, along with Laura Dern. Reichardt is a bit of an acquired taste for sure, and this is possibly one of her slowest films yet, but the acting is unimpeachable.
The movie is a look at a quartet of women in a small Montana town and how their lives intersect in small ways, spread out over three segments. One concerns Laura Wells (Dern), a lawyer dealing with a disgruntled client Fuller (Jared Harris) who eventually ends up in a hostage situation. Another centers on Gina Lewis (Williams) and her husband Ryan (James Le Gros) as they break ground on a new house. Their union is stressed as they work convince an old man to make a sale to them of a sandstone stockpile. The third segment brings together ranch hand Jamie (Lily Gladstone) and young lawyer Beth Travis (Stewart), as the former becomes attached to the latter while sitting in on her adult education class. Reichardt directs and writes the adaptation of some short stories by Maile Meloy. Also in the cast are Rene Auberjonois, John Getz, James Jordan, Edelen McWilliams, and more. Christopher Blauvelt provides the cinematography here, which does capture rural America quite well.

I’m not wild about this flick, but I do really like the acting on display. Gladstone might actually be best in show, while Dern, Stewart, and Williams are excellent. The combination of Gladstone and Stewart makes for the best segment, while the other two are far more flawed. The first one, with Dern and Harris, is fine, but Williams’ one is pretty rough, sadly. The actresses do what they can with the material, but Reichardt meanders far more than she usually does. It’s clearly one of her lesser works overall, even if there’s a ton of good acting to be found within. The established stars do the consistently good work you expect, while Gladstone is quite the discovery.
Awards wise, this feels like an independent player […]

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” will have a World Premiere at the 2016 New York Film Festival

Just a few minutes ago, news broke that the 54th New York Film Festival will play host to a big time unveiling of a major Academy Award contender. Yes, NYFF will be where Ang Lee’s next movie, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, will have its World Premiere. The 54th installment of this fest has already announced a trio of premieres, opening with The 13th, hitting its midpoint with 20th Century Women, and closing with The Lost City of Z, so this is very much like an added bonus. At the same time, it’s now easily the most high profile flick screening and an Oscar hopeful title worth paying a great deal of attention to.
For those wondering, the film is an adaptation of the well regarded novel of the same name by Ben Fountain. Set mostly during Thanksgiving Day, it follows the title character Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) and his platoon as they’re honored during the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys football game for their heroism. As Billy and his fellow soldiers are feted, he flashes back on what really happened back in Iraq, which has shaken him to his core. There’s also time spent with his protective sister Kathryn (Kristen Stewart), who wants him to stay home and not go back to war. For the most part, Billy and his crew just deal with the dichotomy of being labeled a hero back home and the actions that got them there while abroad. It’s really a surprisingly intimate character study, though I suspect the war flashbacks will be pretty visceral. Lee obviously directs, with the adaptation penned by Jean-Christophe Castelli. Besides Alwyn and Stewart, the cast includes Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker, Tim Blake Nelson, Makenzie Leigh, Beau Knapp, and many more. Cinematography is by John Toll.

This surprise announcement, not in the mold of the festival’s Secret Screenings in years past (like with Hugo, Lincoln, and While We’re Young), is very interesting. It’s closer to how things like 12 Years a Slave and The Martian were added as screenings while the fest was already underway. This sort of splits the difference and allows both of those situations to go down again (if it happens, perhaps there will be another Martin Scorsese centric Secret Screening with Silence?), while also giving Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk a special distinction all its own. That’s really a sign of […]

Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders

As you fine ladies and gentlemen must all must know by now (since I’ve pretty much hammered it into your heads), it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions in order to see what folks like myself think will happen this winter, but it’s a whole separate thing to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that particular regard, I’m continuing my yearly ritual of 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 or 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 potentially take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.
Today I’m continuing on with another of the big acting categories and I bet you guessed which one it is. Yes, it’s Best Supporting Actress time.

Here are the ten particular women that I have currently in play for Best Supporting Actress, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. Kristen Stewart (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk or Café Society) – With the category wide open, why not put the overdue for a nomination Stewart at the top? I think she’s worthy for Woody Allen’s Café Society, but her better shot is probably in the upcoming Ang Lee war film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. She’s going to get a nod one of these days, so it’s hardly a long shot to consider her this year. If she gets in, there’s definitely a shot she could turn into the frontrunner. Keep a close eye on the precursors, as they might really set her up for success.
2. Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) – A number of my colleagues have Williams high up for Kenneth Lonergan’s well regarded Sundance title Manchester by the Sea. I have her one off from the top spot, which is still pretty good. She’s due for a win one of these days, so it makes a ton of sense to have her waiting in the wings if Stewart falls off in some way. As long as her film doesn’t get ignored, Williams is going to […]

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 […]

Kristen Stewart shines in the sci-fi love story “Equals”

Slowly but surely, Kristen Stewart has been becoming one of our most interesting young actresses. At the same time, filmmaker Drake Doremus has been crafting some under the radar yet memorable work, namely with Like Crazy and Breathe In. Now, they’ve come together for Equals, a science fiction romance opening this weekend that’s really quite interesting. I saw the movie back at the Tribeca Film Festival and found it very compelling, especially for Stewart’s turn, as well as in regards to Doremus as an evolving director. Stewart also has Woody Allen’s new film Cafe Society hitting this week, and I’ll continue my praise of that one in a few days, but today I’m focused on Doremus’ project with her.
The flick is in some ways a sci-fi/dystopian take on Romeo and Juliet. It follows Silas (Nicholas Hoult) as he navigates a supposed “utopia” where emotion has been removed from society. It’s labeled as an infection and something to be cleansed from your being. When he meets Nia (Kristen Stewart), the effects of a mysterious disease kick in and they fall in love, regaining emotions. That puts their lives in danger, as the world obviously doesn’t want them to be together. Doremus directs and co-wrote with Nathan Parker here. The supporting cast includes Guy Pearce, Aurora Perrineau, Bel Powley, Kate Lyn Sheil, Jackie Weaver, and more. Cinematography is by John Guleserian, while the score is from the duo of Dustin O’Halloran and Sascha Ring. They all work together to fulfill Doremus’ vision of this particular future.
Without question, Stewart is the highlight here. I’m also fond of the production design and Doremus’ direction, but she really sells you on the premise with her performance. That isn’t to say that Hoult isn’t good, because he is, but she is what drew me in. Doremus and his team create a compelling world, but a lot of it requires mood to work, and Stewart provides that in spades. It’s not a perfect film, with a pace that might very well challenge impatient audience members, but I think it’s well worth it. I’d love to see this filmmaker/actress duo work again together, as they’ve got a strong connection for sure.

In terms of awards, I suspect Equals will be too small for real contention, but there’s always the chance that it gets some momentum. Depending on how the more independent minded precursors see it, that’s where the film […]

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” enlists a top notch Trailer

Late last week, we got a hell of a Trailer for what could be a major Oscar player this year. The film in question? Well, it’s none other than Ang Lee’s upcoming take on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. I’ve read this book and can vouch for it as a quality drama, though not one that I’d initially have pegged as a Lee project. Still, in some ways that only makes this transition from book to film even more interesting. Lee has an incredible visual eye and can elevate the prose to something even more cinematic. The potential here for the movie is rather endless, with the Trailer in question doing nothing to not make me assume this is a huge contender. You can see it below, but first…some discussion is in order.
The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ben Fountain. Set mostly during Thanksgiving Day, it follows the title character Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) and his platoon as they’re honored during the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys football game for their heroism. As Billy and his fellow soldiers are feted, he flashes back on what really happened back in Iraq, which has shaken him to his core. There’s also time spent with his protective sister Kathryn (Kristen Stewart), who wants him to stay home and not go back to war. For the most part, Billy and his crew just deal with the dichotomy of being labeled a hero back home and the actions that got them there while abroad. It’s really a character study, though I suspect the war flashbacks will be pretty visceral. Lee obviously directs, with the adaptation penned by Jean-Christophe Castelli. Besides Alwyn and Stewart, the cast includes Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker, Tim Blake Nelson, Makenzie Leigh, Beau Knapp, and many more. Cinematography is by John Toll.

From the looks of this first Trailer, Lee and company have really nailed the spectacle as well as the emotion. Lee is once again utilizing state of the art technology and visuals to make this flick appear like nothing else in history. He succeeded with that in a big way last time out with Life of Pi, so you have to imagine he’s more than up to the task here. He’s tackled a good book, so if the screenplay is up to snuff and Alwyn makes a strong […]

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 […]

“Carol” scores big with the New York Film Critics Circle

It seems like every single day now there’s a new major precursor announcement, doesn’t it? Yesterday, the New York Film Critics Circle announced their awards for 2015, and Carol was the biggest winner of them all. It managed to take a large number of awards from the NYFCC, perhaps to the surprise of some. Personally, I wasn’t shocked, but I do think that they did manage to throw some curveballs our way. There’s been an infusion of younger critics into the group of late, so some may say that the potentially bolder choices are a credit to them. I’m not sure that’s the case this year, but it could certainly be the case in the future. However you slice it though, this was a good precursor for Carol. Todd Haynes’ film got a definite boost, no question there.

Once again, a primer on Carol. The film is a high profile adaptation a Patricia Highsmith novel called The Price of Salt and concerns the taboo relationship between two women in 1950’s New York City. One is young department store clerk Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), while the other is an older married woman named Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). What starts as a friendship of sorts (though Carol seems to clearly be interested in more, with Therese more than just along for the ride) slowly blooms into something more, even if they can’t explicitly speak it out loud. From there, it’s a choice of whether or not to risk everything for love in a time where this was not acceptable behavior. The decisions that follow are not what you’d expect, and that’s putting it mildly. Haynes directs from a Phyllis Nagy screenplay, with the cast in addition to Blanchett and Mara including Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, and Sarah Paulson, among others. The score is by Carter Burwell, while the cinematography comes from Edward Lachman, who was honored by NYFCC, as you’ll see below.
Carol took home Best Picture, Best Director (for Haynes), Best Screenplay (which is Nagy’s, even if not everyone has credited her), and Best Cinematography (for the aforementioned Lachman). The only title that the NYFCC gave multiple awards to (though ironically not to any of its cast members, as you’ll see below), it easily led the field, showing a clear case of this group loving the movie. This does also establish it as one of the films given a helping hand […]

A first crack at Golden Globe predictions

Now that we’re well into the fall months and about to enter the tail end of the 2015 movie release season, I wanted to take my first crack at some Golden Globe predictions. I’ll be mixing these in with Oscar predictions going forward, but early Globe picks are always interesting to me, especially since sometimes you’re still guessing category placement and just what the tastes of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will look like at the time. They’re almost impossible to accurately guess off the bat the first time around, but that little factoid has yet to stop me from trying all the same. Here goes nothing!
What you’ll notice below is that things more or less reflect how I see the Academy Awards going, but with some slight changes. Obviously, the Comedy or Musical categories open things up to some other contenders, though we won’t know for a bit still how certain contenders will decide to compete. We know that Joy is likely to go Drama, but The Big Short and The Martian, for example, are two that could go the Comedy route. I have pretty much the same winners here as with Oscar, with the exception of Ridley Scott winning Best Director, on the potential strength of The Martian going Comedy and winning Best Picture in that area and getting Matt Damon that Best Actor win as well. The Drama category at the Globes still is where the Best Picture winner for Oscar likely will come from, with Spotlight and Steve Jobs facing off for now, though The Revenant is an X factor spoiler here. We’ll have more HFPA analysis coming soon, but these predictions should suffice for now…
Here you go folks, my initial look at how the Golden Globe awards could shape up:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. Spotlight
2. The Revenant
3. Steve Jobs
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Joy
If there’s a sixth: Brooklyn
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. The Martian
2. Trainwreck
3. The Big Short
4. Love & Mercy
5. Our Brand is Crisis
If there’s a sixth: Grandma
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
2. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
4. Johnny Depp – Black Mass
5. Jake Gyllenhaal – Southpaw
If there’s a sixth: Tom Hanks – Bridge of Spies
Best Actor (Comedy or Musical)
1. Matt Damon – The Martian
2. Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
3. Bill Murray – Rock the Kasbah
4. John Cusack – Love & Mercy
5. Bill Hader – Trainwreck
If there’s a […]

Brie Larson in “Room”: Ten potential first time acting nominees for Oscar in 2015

As pleasing as it can be to see an actor finally receive an Academy Award after a deserving career, it’s just as pleasing, if not more sometimes, to see an actor or actress get that first nomination. This year, there’s no shortage of potential first timers with Oscar in the acting categories, so today I have a nice list of them to share with you. I’ve ranked ten possible nominees, along with some extras in a bonus Honorable Mention segment, so be sure to use this as a bit of a cheat sheet as awards season gets underway. Enjoy as always, and again, remember that this is just how I would rank them, not how it’s definitely going to wind up…
Here now are the ten that I’ve chosen:
10. Kristen Stewart – That Cesar Award that Stewart won for her role in Clouds of Sils Maria will serve her well this season. Without it, she might have already faded away, though Stewart is still far from a sure thing in Best Supporting Actress. She’s not “due” per say, but her work outside of Twilight is stronger than many realize, so a chance in more baity material will not go unnoticed. She’ll be in contention all season long.
9. Emily Blunt – Had the role been slightly juicier, I think Blunt in Sicario would have been a lock for a Best Actress nomination. She’s getting to the point of being really due, especially considering how the Golden Globes seem to love her. Oscar will get to her, it’s a question of when, not if, but this year might be a long shot. Stay times though, particularly if Sicario turns into a major player during the precursors.
8. Jason Segel – I hope that Segel hasn’t already seen his moment come and go for his incredible work in The End of the Tour. He could either go Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, so his category placement is still to be decided. Either way, this dramatic breakthrough makes him due for consideration. If Segel does get lost in the shuffle, this will at the very least put him on the path to bigger consideration, like some of his Apatow gang brethren, as you’ll see below…
7. Kurt Russell – Depending on how The Hateful Eight turns out, Russell could be a slam dunk Best Supporting Actor nominee or a fringe one. It’s crazy that he’s yet […]

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