July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: Michael Fassbender

Which early year releases will remain Oscar players throughout 2015?

Now that we’ve got just a shade over six months of the year out of the way, you can start to figure out which films and performances from he first half of 2015 have the potential to sustain awards buzz and which won’t. Below you’ll see a rundown of the major categories, with some notes about who and what could contend for some attention when the precursors start in the winter. Now, there’s a chance that nothing will break through from January through the end of June, but there’s a chance that a few things could as well, so let’s run that down now!
Here we go…
Best Picture is first up, and really only applies to Inside Out, if we’re being realistic. There’s an outside chance for Love & Mercy as well as Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, but that’s about it. Trust me, I’d love for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl to be a player, but it won’t be one in this category. That’s just how it is. We won’t have a winner, but if you’re looking for a contender from the first half, Inside Out is the one to pin your hopes on.
Best Director is the least likely of the bunch to have an early year contender, though some will try to push George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Aside from him (and barely him), no one really has a shot worth speaking of, unless you think Pete Doctor and Ronaldo del Carmen are making history with Inside Out. I don’t though, so that eliminates them. Don’t expect anyone from the first part of 2015 to wind up truly in play when we reach the end of the precursor season.
Best Actor right now has a potential player in Paul Dano for Love & Mercy, but the category is shaping up to be another bloodbath, so he could struggle to get in. That being said, he has the best shot of a group that’s pretty slim, likely only including Mark Ruffalo as a long shot for Infinitely Polar Bear. Dano is certainly deserving, so he’ll hang around, but I don’t know that he can ultimately get in.
The best shot for an early year acting citation is probably Best Actress. Here we have Helen Mirren for Woman in Gold, Carey Mulligan for Far from the Maddening Crowd, and Alicia Vikander for Ex Machina. The first […]

The Best of the First Half of 2015 so far

Wow folks, can you believe that it’s the second half of the year already? Seriously, it’s July now, so we’re officially into part two of 2015 right now. With the fourth of July on tap for tomorrow, what better time than now to kick back and look at what the best of the first half of the year was? That’s what I thought too, so go figure…that’s what I’m doing now. Much like I’ve done in the past, I’ll highlight the ten best films of the first half as well as give out some personal awards to boot. As a note, I’m only including things that have come out between January 1st and June 30th. That eliminates a ton of great flicks, like The End of the Tour, Grandma, Irrational Man, Magic Mike XXL (which just missed), Sleeping with Other People, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Time Out of Mind, and others. It was tempting to open it up, but I opted to keep it pretty strict this time out, if only to mix it up. Those other titles will have their moment in the sun potentially when I discuss the first two thirds the year come the fall, but that’s another story…
Now, here’s what I have to say on Part One of 2015!
The Top Ten Films of the Year So Far:
10. ’71 – The highlight is Jack O’Connell’s performance, but this gritty war drama has an on the ground and up close look to it that’s hard to match. O’Connell missed out on awards attention last year, but he’s way more deserving this year. He’ll likely be left out in the cold, but this performance is worthy of some nominations. He’s the best part of this intense and effective film.
9. The Hunting Ground – For my money the best documentary of the year so far looks at sexual assault on college campuses. It’s basically a companion piece/follow up to The Invisible War, with filmmaker Kirby Dick continuing to inspire outrage. It’s powerful and sure to make you angry (as well as be in play for Best Documentary Feature), even if there’s a small silver lining to be found.
8. Love & Mercy – With two powerhouse performances from John Cusack and Paul Dano, this represents one of the first half of 2015’s few chances at Oscar attention when awards season comes around. Dano will likely be a fringe player in a […]

“The Martian”: Looking at potential Best Picture contenders

Welcome to July folks. Much like I said last year, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions to see what folks like myself think will happen at the end of the year, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know which films will be in contention. To that end, once a week (or maybe twice a week) for the next month or so I’ll be running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category. 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. Consider this a sort of pre awards season cheat sheet for you all.
Today I’m beginning with the big one, of course…Best Picture.
Here are the ten films that I have right now cracking the Best Picture lineup:
1. The Martian – A total hunch, I concede, but this is something with almost limitless potential. The Trailer was fantastic, the talent involved is top notch, and the book is a modern classic in my eyes. It’ll all depend on the execution on the part of Ridley Scott, but if he’s on his game and Matt Damon is his reliable self in the title role, there’s a chance we could see science fiction contend for a Best Picture win. Could this do what Gravity and Interstellar couldn’t? Stay tuned to find out…
2. Bridge of Spies – The safe bet right now, this latest collaboration between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg has all the trappings of an easy pick to win. The thing is, that film almost never wins anymore, so I feel like having it in the number two spot makes total sense at the moment. Things can and likely will change, but while my top pick is a bold shot in the dark, this one’s high ranking is almost the de facto vote if you sit down and think about it. That takes nothing from its potential, as it looks very good, but Hanks and Spielberg are trafficking in Oscar bait here, plain and simple.
3. Our Brand is Crisis – Something you’ll notice in a few places here is that I’m taking chances. This is another case of that, since there’s no assurances that David Gordon Green’s political dramedy/satire will even be ready this year. It could be a […]

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 […]

“5 to 7″: The Best of the First Third of 2015

Ahoy! With it now being May, we’ve officially finished up with the first third of the year. As such, I wanted to highlight the best of the year so far, consisting of my top ten and various awards for 2015 to date. Much like last time, when I did the first quarter of the year, I’m mostly limiting it to things that have already hit theaters. My only exception is that I’m including titles from the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival. There are some others from last year that I’m fond of and might have otherwise included, but I didn’t want to cheat too badly, so they’re on hold. Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff…
Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2015. Here you go, and enjoy:
10. Amira & Sam – Much like I said last time out, this is one of the bigger surprises this year for me so far. I really did fall hard for this romantic dramedy. Not only does it give Martin Starr his best and most dramatic role to date, it also crafts one of the better movies about New York that I’ve seen in the past few years. It was cruelly under-seen earlier this year, but I hope this recommendation does its part to fix that when it hits home video next week.
9. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Without question, this documentary is taking aim at a slightly easy target in the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, but tons of incredible claims come out of it all the same, as I said the last time I spoke about it. Director Alex Gibney isn’t doing his best work ever, but it’s still an angry and passionate bit of work. The ratings when it played on HBO were through the roof, so it definitely caught on.
8. ’71 – To reiterate, this was a title that I first saw at NYFF 2014 but had it stick with me well into 2015. This war drama is the best tale of survival starring Jack O’Connell yet, and yes, I know that Unbroken exists too (that only furthers my argument). This is a small scale and gritty flick that manages to really captivate you. Another barely seen title that I want to shine a light on. Go seek it out […]

Michael Fassbender and “Slow West”: Films to look forward to at the Tribeca Film Festival

As you read this, the Tribeca Film Festival will be getting fully underway with Press and Industry Screenings of all their titles. Each year, they offer up something very unique in the world of independent cinema. I’ll be taking in some films at the fest and have seen a handful already, so the choices below are sometimes more than just educated guesses. Tribeca is a unique environment, offering up smaller flicks of all ilk, so there’s the possibility of discovering something new and exciting at all times. Still, what you’ll see below are some of the most interesting higher profile titles that are screening.
Here are ten films playing at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival to keep an eye on…
10. Good Kill – A new Ethan Hawke collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Niccol, this is a look at the toll that working a drone can take on a man. It played at the Sundance Film Festival a few months ago to a muted response, but I’m always down for Hawke working with Niccol. I’ll definitely have more to say about this one once I see it.
9. Anesthesia – An ensemble piece from actor/filmmaker Tim Blake Nelson, there’s a great cast for this tale of the effect a crime has on all those who were around for it. The premise doesn’t instill a ton of enthusiasm, I know, but Nelson is an interesting triple threat and this could overcome the “indie ensemble drama about crime” trappings.
8. Misery Loves Comedy – I’ve seen this comedic documentary by Kevin Pollak about if stand ups need to be downers in order to be funny, and it’s very solid. To be fair, it’s not going to cure cancer or really make a difference in the world, but it’s an amusing doc that goes down easy. Especially if you’re a fan of stand up comedy, this is a look inside their world and 100% worth seeing.
7. Dirty Weekend – By and large, Neil LaBute is a filmmaker whose work always demands your attention. His latest dark comedy stars Matthew Broderick and seems like a slighter than usual plot, but that might be deceiving. LaBute is enough to hook me, and if you’re into his particular cinematic voice, this will be one to really look forward to.
6. Mojave – Anything with Oscar Isaac is worth seeing, but this one seems to really give him a strong showcase. Oscar winning […]

Ridley Scott and “The Martian”: Early Oscar Predictions for April

After taking the month of March off in terms of Oscar predictions, I’m back taking a new look at what the Academy could do with this upcoming year in film. Again, it’s super early and probably silly to be focusing in on them like I am currently, but it’s also fun and gives us an idea of what movies to potentially look forward to. I’m keeping it mostly short and sweet today, just basically posting an update to the predictions (with a slight detour to discuss one contender), plus the next in line list that I know is popular as well. All of this can and likely will change in the near future, possibly even in the summer when things first begin to shape up, so stay tuned on that front. For now, enjoy these Academy Award predictions and cross your fingers that we have a good year for prestige films. I know that’s always my hope, so it should be yours as well.
Quickly though, before the predictions, let me just say that my big X factor that I’m looking forward to is Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian. He hasn’t had an outright success in some time, but I love the source material so much, I’m hopeful that it sparked something inside him. Honestly, he’d have to go out of his way to ruin as good a novel as that one. Matt Damon will have a baity role and Scott should be plenty engaged, so my fingers are crossed!
Here now is my second crack at early Academy Award predictions…
BEST PICTURE
1. Bridge of Spies
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Joy
4. The Hateful Eight
5. The Martian
6. Carol
7. The Light Between Oceans
8. Steve Jobs
9. The Revenant
10. The End of the Tour
Next in line: 11. The Sea of Trees 12. Irrational Man 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Black Mass 15. Demolition 16. Trainwreck 17. The Walk 18. Freeheld 19. Southpaw 20. Brooklyn 21. By the Sea 22. MacBeth 23. Bleed for This 24. Snowden 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
5. Derek Cianfrance – The Light Between Oceans
Next in line: 6. Todd Haynes – Carol 7. Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant 8. Ridley Scott – The Martian 9. Woody Allen – Irrational Man 10. […]

Which films could play this year at the Cannes Film Festival?

When it comes to film festivals, there is arguably none more prestigious than the Cannes Film Festival. Each year, critics and the like descend on the south of France hoping to discover the classiest in cinema, which in turn can begin to fuel the impending Oscar speculation. 2015 likely will be no exception, as perhaps a few more Academy friendly projects than usual could wind up at Cannes. Sometime either this month or next, the fest will reveal the titles scheduled to play, so I wanted to get a head start and speculate a bit about what the festival could have in its lineup. Tribeca will be on my mind soon enough, but for now…Cannes gets my attention for the day.
Here now are ten films that could very well play at the Cannes Film Festival, in just a simple alphabetical order:
1. Carol – One of the most anticipated Oscar hopefuls of 2015 is the new movie from Todd Haynes. Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, it stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a very unique love story. So yeah, this is a big player, provided the quality is there. Assuming it’s done, I’d be shocked if it didn’t debut at Cannes. Personally, I can’t wait to see it.
2. Erran – The new film from Jacques Audiard, the director of both A Prophet as well as Rust and Bone, makes perfect sense for Cannes. He’s been there before, garnering awards buzz, so this should wind up at the fest as well. The only question is if it’ll be ready in time or not. I’m definitely curious about this one, that’s for sure.
3. Lawless/Untitled Terrence Malick Project – There’s no doubt that the fest would love a new Terrence Malick film, so if it’s actually somewhere close to completion…count this one in for sure. With a cast led by Ryan Gosling and potentially some members of his Knight of Cups cast, there’s plenty of intrigue here. I’m not always wild about Malick, but I love Gosling, so consider me intrigued.
4. The Lobster – I’ve been fascinated with filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos ever since seeing Dogtooth a few years ago. His follow up Alps was solid, but this new one seems like it could very well be his masterpiece. An English language feature (one of a bunch from foreign directors coming out in 2015), the cast is eclectic, including John C. Reilly, the […]

2015 Tribeca Film Festival Announces the Films in the Spotlight, Midnight, and Special Screenings Sections

Each year, I look forward to the Tribeca Film Festival, which is slowly but surely growing in stature and importance. A relatively new fest, it is establishing a vibe that’s somewhat of a cross between the New York Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Small but on the rise, Tribeca hosts a huge assortment of movies, with 2015 representing perhaps their best slate yet. I’ll be going over what I’m most looking forward to at the festival next month before it stars, but below I have the press release from late last week announcing some of the biggest flicks that will be playing. It’s a slate that you can’t ignore, that’s pretty much undeniable.
Those of you keeping track I’m sure noticed that yesterday we posted a taste of the special documentaries that Tribeca will have, along with some of slate early on last week. Well, now we have the cream of the crop, essentially. Here are the biggest films that will be playing at the festival, including Grandma, which could be an Oscar vehicle for Lily Tomlin, along with Mojave, starring Oscar Isaac, and Slow West with Michael Fassbender. That’s just a taste of what Tribeca will have next month, and I for one am excited. The fest is really becoming one to reckon with, that’s for sure.
Behold the press release announcing the rest of these titles:
New York, NY [March 5, 2015] – The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by AT&T, today announced its feature film selections in the Spotlight, Midnight, and Special Screening sections as well as work in progress screenings. The 14th edition of the Festival will take place from April 15 to April 26 in New York City.
The Spotlight section features 40 films, consisting of 23 narratives and 17 documentaries. Twenty-four films in the selection world premiere at the Festival.
The Midnight section will premiere five films, four of which are world premieres from dynamic new genre voices from around the world. It is an eclectic lineup of twisted tales that run the gamut from creature features to ominous, creepy horror films, including a real life underground wrestling revenge story and an unsettling babysitter thriller.
This year’s Special Screenings have been programmed to provide exciting film experiences partnering both new and classic films with unique live performances. They include the world premiere of the documentary Mary J. Blige – The London Sessions, which follows […]

Year in advance Oscar Predictions

I know this seems nuts, but here I am with some Academy Award predictions for next season. We’re a long way out, yes…but for me, this is the absolute most fun time of the year, in terms of forming predictions. Why? Simply put, it’s because anything is possible. If you want to see how an odd nominee would look, you need only predict it. Right now, we’re just as likely to see Steven Spielberg’s latest St. James Place take Best Picture as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s kind of a brilliant thing, really. Even so, I’ve tried to be as logical as possible here, foregoing a number of quirkier picks in favor of the contenders I really feel good about, even if it really is only February still.
Which films are in contention? You’ll be able to see below, but the biggest contender right now seem to be the aforementioned St. James Place from Spielberg, David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis, David O. Russell’s Joy, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant, and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Acting wise, all of those movies have contenders, while the big player right now seems to be Jake Gyllenhaal, who could score for either Demolition or Southpaw. An X factor to keep an eye on? Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which is based on an outstanding book and could either fall flat or be a huge player. Sit tight on that one…
Here now is my first set of Oscar predictions for awards season to come:
BEST PICTURE
1. St. James Place
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Joy
4. The Hateful Eight
5. The Revenant
6. Steve Jobs
7. Demolition
8. The Martian
9. The Sea of Trees
10. The End of the Tour
Next in line: 11. Carol 12. Irrational Man 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Black Mass 15. Snowden 16. Money Monster 17. The Walk 18. Freeheld 19. Southpaw 20. Brooklyn 21. By the Sea 22. MacBeth 23. Bleed for This 24. Aloha 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – St. James Place
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant
5. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Next in line: 6. Danny Boyle – Steve Jobs 7. Gus Van Sant – The Sea of Trees 8. Ridley Scott – The Martian 9. Woody Allen – Irrational Man 10. Jean Marc Vallee – Demolition
BEST […]

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