September 18, 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: Liam Neeson

Veteran actors who can follow the Tom Cruise/Liam Neeson action hero path

Between last week’s Liam Neeson release Run All Night marking one of the final times that Neeson will play an action hero and yesterday’s debut of Tom Cruise defying age in the new Mission: Impossible trailer, I got to thinking about who could take their places going forward. Obviously, Neeson is almost done and Cruise won’t be kicking ass forever, so there must be an heir apparent or two out there, right? Well, no one who is out and out gunning for that gig, but there’s plenty of middle aged actors who have at least dipped their toes in the water. As such, I came up with a list of actors who could certainly take the mantle from these two, perhaps even pushing this sub genre of action to a slightly new level. It’s mostly a list in good fun, but there’s certainly some truths contained within. Hey, maybe in a few years I’ll have been proven prescient about a couple of career arcs!
Below you’ll see the ten gentlemen I’ve selected, listed alphabetically:
Javier Bardem – Most people acknowledge that Bardem can do just about anything, including turning in a couple of terrific villain turns, so why not an action hero? One of those turns is especially iconic (No Country for Old Men) and he even has a part in the recently released action flick The Gunmen, so he’s orbiting that action hero planet in a big way. I think he’d do a great job too.
Kenneth Branagh – Here’s another actor who has tried out the villainous role, but Branagh seems tailor made to perhaps play a veteran spy. He’s firmly entrenched in his directing career, which makes this a long shot, but anything is possible. Maybe he could be given his own franchise to headline both in front of and behind the camera? That might do the trick.
Kevin Costner – For a while Costner was an action hero, of course, but those days have passed him by. If he were to return, it’d be as a second generation hero, which certainly has an appeal. There’s a risk of having this feel like someone who fell out of The Expendables, but Costner has played around in the action genre recently, with last year’s 3 Days to Kill (which had the aforementioned Branagh as the bad guy) as one example. I hope he sticks with it, in addition to his strong dramatic […]

When will Liam Neeson go back to consistently making awards contenders?

Like many of you, I was pretty surprised and more than a little bit delighted when Liam Neeson made the next act in his illustrious career an action packed one. No one expected Taken to be a hit, or as satisfyingly enjoyable as it was, but it signaled a new trajectory for Neeson. That’s been all well and good, but one thing that it’s cost us is his performances in Oscar fare. Since Taken, Neeson has more or less dropped off of the Academy’s radar, with only one upcoming project hopefully set to return him to prestige territory. I like when he kicks ass, like he does in Friday’s new release Run All Night, but I prefer it when he contends for awards.
Neeson is a very strong dramatic actor and certainly very solid as an action hero, but it’s the former where he’s really been able to shine. Think of the performances that you truly remember him for…they’re dramas, not action movies, right? Hell, I’d even argue that something like Love Actually makes better use of Neeson. Again, this isn’t to say that I don’t like when he saves the day, because I do, especially in the first Taken and the action/drama hybrid The Grey, but those other action flicks are a bit more touch and go, quality wise. His dramas (and occasional comedies) have been traditionally more reliable.
For example, these are the action movies he’s done since the first Taken came out, nearly a decade ago: Clash of the Titans, The A-Team, The Next Three Days, Unknown, The Grey, Wrath of the Titans, Battleship, Taken 2, Non-Stop, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Taken 3, and this weekend’s Run All Night. Unless you count his cameo in The Dark Knight Rises, The Grey is really the only one of undisputed quality in that lot. Even when it comes to comedies, at least he has The Lego Movie to fall back on, even if A Million Ways to Die in the West underwhelmed many.
If you look at his dramas though, Neeson has an Academy Award nomination and a trio of Golden Globe nominations to his credit, which should say something. Those nods came for Schindler’s List (also Oscar nominated), Kinsey, and Michael Collins. You could also claim that he’s been in play more than once for other films (Gangs of New York, as one example), but Schindler’s List especially shows just […]

‘Non-Stop’ dethrones ‘The Lego Movie’ at the Box Office

Happy Oscar Sunday everyone! While wait for the show to start later on this evening, it’s time for the weekly box office report. Leading the way this weekend was a new film for a change, as Liam Neeson’s thriller Non-Stop debuted at number one with an estimated $30 million. At number two we had the debut of the religious flick Son of God, which took in an estimated $26.5 million, and down at number 14 we had the re-release of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in a special R rated edition. That movie grabbed an extra $1.3 million from fans. Among the limited release openings, we had a wide range of indie titles that failed to make much of a mark, including The Bag Man, Ernest & Celestine, The Lunchbox, and Stalingrad. They didn’t embarrass themselves, but none look to be a crossover hit or anything of that sort.
Liam Neeson continues to be a reliable action hero, as Non-Stop had a very solid first weekend haul. As for Son of God, folks didn’t seem to mind that it’s just an expanded version of the TV series The Bible that they already could have seen for free. As for Anchorman 2, that re-release was only designed for hardcore fans of the film, so don’t read too much into that small cume.
Among the notable holdovers in theaters, The LEGO Movie continued to be a blockbuster with another $21 million in its bank account. The other good holds were that of The Monuments Men, which made $5 million and keeps right on chugging along, as well as the $3.6 million more that Frozen took in this weekend.
Here now is what the top ten looked like at the box office for this particular weekend:
1. Non-Stop – $30,019,000
2. Son of God – $26,500,000
3. The LEGO Movie – $21,015,000
4. The Monuments Men – $5,000,000
5. 3 Days to Kill – $4,900,000
6. RoboCop – $4,500,000
7. Pompeii – $4,300,000
8. Frozen – $3,611,000
9. About Last Night – $3,400,000
10. Ride Along – $3,065,000

2013 Oscars: Congratulations to the Nominees and Honorees

Congratulations to the 2013 Oscar nominees and winners… for complete list of winners pls scroll down.
Best Supporting Actor:
Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”
Best Animated Short:
“Paperman” – John Kahrs
Best Animated Feature:
“Brave” – Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Life of Pi” – Claudio Miranda
Visual Effects:
“Life of Pi” – Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Costume Design:
“Anna Karenina” – Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables” – Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Live Action Film:
“Curfew” – Shawn Christensen
Documentary Short Subject:
“Inocente” – Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Documentary Feature:
“Searching for Sugar Man”
Sound Mixing:
“Les Misérables” – Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Sound Editing:
“Zero Dark Thirty” – Paul N.J. Ottosson
Supporting Actress:
Anne Hathaway – “Les Miserables”
Film Editing:
“Argo” – William Goldenberg
Original Score:
Mychael Danna, “Life of Pi”
Original Song:
Adele – “Skyfall”
Adapted Screenplay:
Chris Terrio, “Argo”
Original Screenplay:
Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Best Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best Picture:
For the first time, viewers in the U.S. will be able to stream tonight’s Oscars show in its entirety across multiple platforms including, the ABC Player app, and the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service. The show will also be available via ABC On Demand, the network’s fast forward-disabled VOD service.
The Oscars, in its entirety, will be available to stream within hours of its broadcast completion, beginning Monday, Feb. 25th at 6:00 a.m. EST through Wednesday, February 27, at midnight EST.
“Tonight’s show included remarkable performances that will surely have people talking. This is an easy, convenient way for anyone who missed the show to catch up and join the conversation,” said Karin Gilford, Senior Vice President of Digital Media, ABC Entertainment. “It’s also perfect for anyone who just wants to relive the most magical moments of the night.”
“Our goal is to give fans as many ways to enjoy and engage with the Oscars as possible and this will provide another great opportunity for them,” said Christina Kounelias, the Academy’s Chief Marketing Officer.
The full streaming will be advertiser supported with :15 or :30 video spots running intermittingly from Blue Diamond, Diet Coke, Hyundai, JC Penney, Samsung and The University of Phoenix.
Additionally, during the telecast, offered a plethora of “Real Time Oscar Highlights” to viewers almost instantly after they debuted on the live broadcast. Those special moments from telecast as well as numerous highlights from the Red Carpet and backstage during the show, are currently available on the show’s official site, and the official Oscars app […]

More and more Stars present at Oscars: Salma Hayek Pinault, Melissa McCarthy, Liam Neeson and John Travolta

Actors Salma Hayek Pinault, Melissa McCarthy, Liam Neeson and John Travolta will present on the Oscar telecast, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.
Hayek Pinault earned an Oscar nomination for her leading performance in “Frida.” She will be seen next in “Grown Ups 2.”
McCarthy earned a nomination for her performance in a supporting role in the 2011 hit film “Bridesmaids.” She stars in the recently released film “Identity Thief” and will be seen next in “The Heat.”
Neeson received an Oscar nomination for his leading role in Best Picture winner “Schindler’s List.” His other credits include “Taken,” “Batman Begins,” “Love Actually,” “Gangs of New York” and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”
Travolta has been nominated twice for Actor in a Leading Role for “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction.” His other credits include “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Hairspray,” “Be Cool,” “Swordfish,” ‘Face/Off” and “Grease.”
Hayek Pinault, McCarthy, Neeson and Travolta join a stellar list of previously announced Oscar presenters including Ben Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Wahlberg, Ted and “Marvel’s The Avengers” cast members Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo; returning 2011 Oscar winners Jean Dujardin, Christopher Plummer, Octavia Spencer and Meryl Streep; “Chicago” cast members Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones; special guests Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Radcliffe, Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron; and performers Adele, Dame Shirley Bassey, Norah Jones and Barbra Streisand.
Oscars® for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24 at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane live on the ABC Television Network.
The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide. For more information go to or download the official Oscars app.
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Oscars: The Lead Actor race

As the Academy Awards sent out their ballots this past Monday, Oscar Predictions were recently updated, and pundits attempt to wrap their heads around the state of the race, the term “lock” is being thrown around like popcorn. The Lead Actor race, especially stacked with talent has all but one assured nomination for Daniel Day-Lewis waiting in the wings.
As I mentioned on this week’s Power Hour, the category reminds me of the 2005 season when nine of the world’s finest actors were battling for five spots. Don Cheadle, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, and Jamie Foxx would fill the Lead Actor lineup with Paul Giamatti, a presumed lock in one of the Best Picture frontrunners, Sideways (2004), being left off.
Other notable omissions were Javier Bardem for The Sea Inside, Jim Carrey for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Liam Neeson for Kinsey, all worthy for citations. This season is bringing up a lot of talk for the infamous “fifth spot,” a term coined for four locks in any respective group of the Academy Awards with one being available to a respective candidate.
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Denzel Washington joins Mark Wahlberg for “2 Guns”

By Sean O’Connell Denzel Washington — like his contemporary, Liam Neeson — is continuing to flex his muscle in action films that tap into his ice-cold intensity. “Safe House” co-stars Ryan Reynolds and casts Washington as a CIA traitor seeking security from our government when his enemies get too close. The film opens Friday.
But once “Safe House” opens, Washington isn’t prepared to hang up his guns. Literally. THR announced that the Oscar winner is set to join Marj Wahlberg in the action-comedy “2 Guns,” for director Baltasar Kormakur (“Contraband,” also with Wahlberg).
The film’s rights is being pre-sold in Berlin. The plot, based on a graphic novel, follows a DEA agent (Washington) and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer (Wahlberg) who, according to the trade, “are tasked with investigating one another but find out they have both been set up by the mob – the very organization the two men thought they had been stealing money from.”
Buddy-cop comedies always are welcome in my books. Can Washington and Wahlberg become the next Riggs and Murtaugh? The next Tango and Cash?! We can only hope.
In the meantime, Wahlberg next can be seen Seth MacFarlane’s comedy “Ted,” and in “Broken City” early next year.
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“Chronicle,” “The Woman In Black” both debut to around $20 million

By Scott Mendelson As I wrote yesterday (HERE), I don’t care which of the two big releases end up at number one for this weekend. Chronicle and The Woman In Black are both low-budget over/under $15 million releases that are somewhat abnormal in terms of what’s considered a mainstream release, both were exceedingly well-marketed (as opposed to ‘saturation marketing’), and both are unqualified hits after their first three days. But since I have to choose which film to discuss first, I will pick Chronicle (review), which A) I’ve seen and B) is the unofficial #1 film this weekend with $22 million (as opposed to The Woman In Black, which made ‘just’ $21 million). Chronicle announces the arrival of director Josh Trank (and writer Max Landis, son of John). The quite compelling and thoughtful character study, which is plays with the genre trappings of as super-hero origin story through the ‘found footage’ format, cost just $12 million and drew a large chunk of young audiences of both genders (it played 45% female). I have no idea what the legs will be like on this downbeat morality play (it received a B from Cinemascore), but I’d argue its artistic and box office success pretty much kills Warner Bros’s planned live-action Akira remake and hurts Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man (which is advertising itself as a more low-key and emotionally-gritty superhero origin story… whoops). Come what may, a very good and creative little movie just opened very well, and that’s a win for everyone.
The Woman In Black also is a winner on several fronts. Its $21 million debut is nearly twice the previous opening weekend record for CBS Films, which acquired the $17 million production for $3 million. The allegedly rock-solid Hammer Horror ghost story (I held off because my wife might want to see it) played mostly to younger females, which may be a sign that Daniel Radcliffe is in fact a box office draw/heartthrob. He has had a history of packing his London stage turns (Equus and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying) and he killed on Saturday Night Live a couple weeks ago, so it may be the case where the Harry Potter series has turned him into something closer to Harrison Ford than Mark Hamill. Still, the PG-13 horror sub-genre is strong enough, especially with younger women, to put […]

Russell Crowe could play Noah in Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic

By Sean O’Connell Darren Aronofsky may have found his Noah.
The “Black Swan” director is mounting a reportedly massive retelling of the Biblical story of Noah and his Ark. And after flirting with Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender, the filmmaker is circling around Russell Crowe now as his lead, according to Deadline.
Crowe’s staying incredibly busy with large-scale projects. He’s currently filming scenes for Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot “Man of Steel.” He plans to transition from that to Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables,” where he’ll play Inspector Javert opposite Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
But he’d be ideal for Noah, sure to be a brooding character wracked by self-doubt as he constructs this Ark at God’s request.
Deadline adds that Aronofsky would like Liam Neeson for the other male lead, a doubting character who plagues Noah at every turn, telling people that there’s no need for an Ark and that our protagonist is crazy.
The casting sounds just right. Do you agree? Would you like to see Aronofsky go in a different direction? Share your thoughts below.
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Battleship Gets a Teaser Trailer I could go on and on about how this represents the pinnacle of what is wrong with the ‘tentpole’ portion of the film industry at the moment. But truth be told, I’m more depressed that Peter Berg chose THIS as his follow up to Hancock (arguably one of the best original superhero pictures of the modern superhero era) and chose not to fill the cast with quirky character actors (think The Core). But no matter, the finished product basically feels like an original (though contrived) invading aliens vs. the US Navy film that slapped the name ‘Battleship’ on its marquee purely for brand name recognition. Which, frankly, if you’re going to adapt a board game (or a theme park ride for that matter), that’s how you do it.

I’m less annoyed at the whole ‘let’s make a movie out of Battleship’ concept that I am at how contrived and generic the picture feels. Peter Berg (who showed real action chops with The Kingdom) seems to be mimicking Michael Bay. The alien threat feels like something out of Transformers (the red and yellow peg-shaped missiles are a nice touch), while the core storyline is pure Armageddon. The only question is not whether Liam Neeson will die at the end (after giving Taylor Kitsch approval to wed his daughter, Brooklyn Decker), but whether Neeson’s last words will be “You sunk my battleship!” This one comes out May 18th, 2012, which is actually prime summer real estate, in apparently glorious 2D.
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