January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: Michael Fassbender

The 84th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

Once again today I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m going to be truing to do that, time will still tell. Again, if nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.
Alright, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Moneyball
The nominees here for this ceremony were The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. Obviously The Artist took it in real life, and Drive would have been my clear pick had it been nominated, but if I had been a voter my choice would have been between The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball. At the time, The Descendants would have been my pick, but now I think I lean towards Moneyball, so that would wind up getting my vote for Best Picture.
Best Director – Alexander Payne for The Descendants
I’d have voted for Nicolas Winding Refn here for Drive, but unsurprisingly he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Without Refn, I don’t have anyone I’m too wild about, but I think Payne might be the best of the bunch. The aforementioned Refn is easily my personal pick overall, but Payne is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Brad Pitt for Moneyball
In a perfect world, I’d have seen either Michael Fassbender rewarded for Shame, Ryan Gosling in the lineup for Drive, Tom Hardy cited for Warrior, or Michael Parks in for Red State and subsequently any of them would have been my vote (likely Fassbender), but such is life. The actual nominees here though were Demián Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt for Moneyball. The choice of these […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Michael Fassbender

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of the business’s hottest names…one Michael Fassbender. In a rather short period of time, he’s gone from a character actor to a critical darling to a superstar, with an Academy Award nomination thrown in there for good measure (along with a few Oscar snubs as well). Fassbender is arguably one of Hollywood’s most talented actors, so it’s great to see him continually display it in interesting and unique projects. He’s a definite A-lister, likely to go down as an all time great when all is said and done, so he’s perfect for this column!
Fassbender got his start on television, first coming on to my radar with HBO’s landmark miniseries Band of Brothers. There were other small TV projects (both miniseries and movies, as well as full on series as well), but he made his notable cinematic debut in the violent orgy that was 300. He showed a screen presence there, even if it wasn’t the absolute best use of his talents.
Of course, he really first made an impression in Steve McQueen’s Hunger, playing the activist Bobby Sands. He went from a talented no name to someone who really had to be watched in a big way, not just because of the physical transformation that he was able to display, but also the emotional power that he could project. Fassbender became a long shot awards contender, though it was not to be for him there. A year later he again blew people away in Fish Tank, disappearing into a completely different character. He also was a scene stealer that year in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, firmly establishing him as an up and comer that you needed to keep an eye on.
Since Fassbender became a “hot” name on the scene, he’s begun a succession of projects that showed different looks at his talent. From Centurion to Jonah Hex to Jane Eyre, he was usually the best part of even lesser films. Then, he played Magneto in the prequel X-Men: First Class and basically became a movie star. That flick gave him true mainstream credit, while A Dangerous Method kept him firmly planted in the independent realm. It was Shame that same year though that really made him something special. He was ridiculously snubbed by the Academy for this portrait of a sex addict, but he was cited by the […]

The 86th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

I’m possibly going to be trying out a new series here. Essentially, today I’ll be going back and looking at the most recent Oscars and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories. Potentially, I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, so there’s a chance that this could turn into a long running thing. There are 86 of these to sift through after all…and counting. If nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of he year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit.
Alright, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Her
The nominees here were 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Considering that it was my favorite film of 2013, a vote for Her would be pretty clear and decisive here. The Wolf of Wall Street would be my runner up, but it wouldn’t be a close race. Spike Jonze’s meditation on love is an absolute masterpiece, so that’d be my pick.
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
I’d have voted for Jonze here, but he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, David O. Russell for American Hustle, and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street. I very nearly went with Scorsese here, but it’s fairly hard to deny Cuarón’s work here on Gravity. The aforementioned Jonze is my personal pick overall, but Cuarón is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
In a perfect world, I’d have seen Oscar Isaac in the lineup for Inside Llewyn Davis and subsequently he’d be my vote. The actual nominees here though were Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. Everyone is worthy here and I really came close to selecting Dern, but DiCaprio showed an incredible aptitude for comedy and that would be enough for me to give him his first Oscar.
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Without the ability to cite the snubbed Adele Exarchopolous for […]

12 Films still to look forward to this summer

With the second half of the year underway, it’s tempting to also declare the summer movie season all but over as well. While we may only have a few big blockbusters still to go, the independent films still to be released offer some interesting options, with at least one excellent option that I can vouch for (though I’ve actually seen all but four of the titles on the impending list). As such, I figured I’d take this moment to give you all 12 flicks that you can still look forward to between now and the end of August. There’s plenty out now to see, between Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Life Itself, just to name three excellent new releases, but now I’ll give you some other things to anticipate.
Below you’ll see a dozen films that you should still have marked down on your calendars as must sees…
12. I Origins – Even though I’m not a huge fan of this science fiction tinged indie drama, it’s certainly interesting and worth seeing. Filmmaker Mike Cahill impressed me last time around with Another Earth, so anyone who liked that one should check out this new one, which also features Brit Marling once again, though Michael Pitt is the star this time around. It begins its rollout next week.
11. Love Is Strange – Back at the Tribeca Film Festival I saw and very much enjoyed this small scale love story. Both John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are excellent here as an older couple trying to make it in New York City. It’s well worth seeing, trust me there. It hits at the end of August.
10. A Most Wanted Man – One of the final performances we’ll ever see from the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this thriller. At one point this was thought of as a potential awards player, but its reception at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was rather muted. Still, it opens at the beginning of next month and should be worth checking out.
9. The One I Love – An offbeat dramedy with a number of plot twists I won’t spoil, it captured my interest at Tribeca. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are strong as just about the only folks in the movie. It’s out in the middle of August and is a nice change of pace option for audiences.
8. Calvary – The previous […]

Mark Ruffalo: 2015 Best Supporting Actor contenders

As you fine folks all already know by now, it’s one thing to just read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen in six months, but it’s an entirely separate thing to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that particular regard, I’m continuing to run 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 with another of the bigger acting categories…yes, it’s Best Supporting Actor.
Here are the ten particular thespians that I have in play for Best Supporting Actor, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:
1. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) – Especially considering that I’ve recently been informed that Channing Tatum (who I’d previously been predicting for one of the other Supporting slots) is going Lead here, this category seems like Ruffalo’s to lose right now. He’s someone who fits as a winner, apparently is excellent in Foxcatcher, and is just a warm person to be around. That’s a big help, as he’d be great on the campaign trail. At this juncture, Ruffalo makes a lot of sense as the number one here, so that’s where I have him currently.
2. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) – If there’s an under the radar contender of sorts who can really upend the race, it’s Simmons, who blew folks away at Sundance in Whiplash. A few people out there even have him winning (including myself at one earlier point), though right now he has to be behind Ruffalo. Simmons is overdue his first citation, so I have a feeling that his run of bad luck is about to come to an end. He deserved to be in bigger play for Juno, but now could very well be his time.
3. Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes) *could go Lead – It seems a little unlikely that Waltz could wind up winning his third Best […]

Steve Carell: 2015 Best Actor contenders

As you folks all know by now, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions (including my own) at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen in six months, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m 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.
Today I’m continuing with arguably the biggest of the acting categories…Best Actor.
Here are the ten thespians that I have in play for Best Actor, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) – I tried to stay away from this obvious pick early on, but after the phenomenal reviews out of the Cannes Film Festival, it’s silly not to have Carell in your top spot. There’s a small chance he could go Supporting in order for Foxcatcher to maximize potential nominations/wins, but right now he’s the clear frontrunner here. It’d be folly to bet against him at this point.
2. Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice) – I think we can all agree that Phoenix will win an Oscar one day, it’s just a matter of when. With his second collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson, an opportunity is front and center, provided of course that the material isn’t too out there for the average Academy member. We shall see, but rightt now you have to at least be considering him heavily.
3. Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) – The other leading man to really benefit from Cannes reviews, Spall seems more likely than not to score his first nomination for this biopic. Some have speculated that he could really challenge for the win too. I don’t quite see that happening, but hey…stranger things have certainly happened. Spall is probably the only person besides Carell that’s closing in a lock for a nomination this early.
4. Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) – Affleck is still without an acting […]

Thinking Out Loud: Oscar® nominees/winners and the ‘Star Wars’ casting rumors

For this week’s random assortment of Thinking Out Loud ideas, I wanted to start by focusing in on the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII casting rumors briefly. Specifically, how J.J. Abrams and company have recently seemed to be honing in on Oscar nominees and winners for the cast. I’ll have some other small things below as well, but that’s the main bent that the column will have today. Anyway, let’s get started!
-Star Wars loves awards darlings, that much seems to be true. Just look at the names being mentioned for roles in the sequel…Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, and Saoirse Ronan to name a few. What do all of them have in common? With the exception of Cumberbatch and Jordan, they’re all Oscar nominees, and in the case of Nyong’o, she’s an Academy Award winner to boot. If nothing else, Abrams and company seem to be meeting or at least considering folks who’ve given a few acclaimed performances over the last couple of years. That’s a good way to keep me interested this sequel, though in all honesty, we’re all going to be seeing the film, regardless.
-Could Godzilla be worth considering for some bigger Oscar categories than just the technical ones? Trust me, I’m not saying we’ve got a Best Picture nominee on our hands, but at the same time, those two trailers have been outstanding, and with an up and coming director in Gareth Edwards inspiring confidence in its potential, I’m starting to wonder if there’s at least an outside chance that we’ll discuss it at some point. Remember, a few years ago we had a similar situation with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I’m 99% sure that it won’t get that nomination (or Best Director, though I suppose a Screenplay citation is an outside possibility), but hey…you never know.
-Finally, I’m writing this from Atlantic City, where I’m spending my birthday weekend (yes, happy birthday to me), and it made me wonder what the last movie was to use the town in a contemporary setting. Was it that Nicolas Cage flick Snake Eyes? Well, I hope not. Anyway, that was on my mind when I arrived last night, so I figured I’d share it with you all. If any screenwriters are reading this, perhaps you might want to consider setting your next project here? Just a thought…
Until next weekend […]

Oscars: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards

After months and months of lead up and speculation (not to mention an endless string of precursor awards), the Academy Awards were finally given out, and the results were almost as unpredictable as we’d all been saying. 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture despite only winning two other Oscars and losing in the Best Director and Best Film Editing categories (both of which Gravity took), normally categories that go to the Best Picture winner. Gravity was the biggest winner of the night in terms of numbers though, taking seven prizes, including the aforementioned Director (for Alfonso Cuaron) and Editing fields.
In terms of the other prizes, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto were once again awarded for their performances in Dallas Buyers Club (McConaughey in Best Actor and Leto in Best Supporting Actor), while Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for Blue Jasmine and Lupita Nyong’o edged out Jennifer Lawrence in the Best Supporting Actress category. Best Original Screenplay went to Spike Jonze for Her (my personal favorite award of the evening) and John Ridley won Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave. Other winners included Frozen (Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song), 20 Feet from Stardom (Best Documentary Feature), and The Great Beauty (Best Foreign Language Feature).
Here now are all of the results from the 86th Academy Awards:
BEST PICTURE
“12 Years a Slave” – WINNER
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
BEST DIRECTOR
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity” – WINNER
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
BEST ACTOR
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club” – WINNER
BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” – WINNER
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“American Hustle” – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” – Written by Woody Allen
“Her” – Written by Spike Jonze – WINNER
“Nebraska” – Written by Bob Nelson
“Dallas Buyers Club” – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Before Midnight” – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” – Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” – Screenplay by John Ridley – WINNER
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – Screenplay by Terence Winter
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave” – WINNER
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
Sally […]

Oscars: Get to know the Best Supporting Actor race

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Notable precursor wins: Abdi wins BAFTA Award, while Leto wins Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Jared Leto
Next in line: Bradley Cooper
Dark horse: Barkhad Abdi
Continuing on with my “Get to know” series, we now have our penultimate piece as we turn our attention today to the Best Supporting Actor race. As you can see in the vital statistics above, the gentlemen making up this category are Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. More or less the whole season, it’s been Leto’s Oscar to lose, and as he’s picked up win after win, that line of thinking has only gotten more common. At this point, he’s potentially the biggest lock of them all.
From the start of the precursors, Leto has all but swept the ceremonies, with the one exception being Abdi emerging victorious from BAFTA, where Leto wasn’t eligible/nominated. Especially with Matthew McConaughey likely to win Best Actor, that only increases the likelihood of Leto taking Supporting Actor. If you’re expecting anyone else to win, you’re quite frankly a bit on the delusional side.
Now, unless there’s an absolute shocker of an upset, Leto is going to be an Oscar winner on Sunday evening. Abdi and possibly even Bradley Cooper are the next in line contenders, but they’re runners up in the strongest sense of the word. The Leto train is pretty much unstoppable, so look for it to pull into the Oscar station in a few days time and pick up an Academy Award for Leto. You can all but mark it down in ink.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of the acting categories tomorrow, with Best Supporting Actress up next to wrap things up!

Oscars®: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “12 Years a Slave”

12 Years a Slave
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: John Ridley
Main cast members: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, and Alfre Woodard
Number of Oscar nominations in total: Nine
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (McQueen), Best Actor (Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actor (Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Nyong’o), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ridley), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing
Notable precursor wins: Tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, won Best Drama at the Golden Globe Awards, won Best Supporting Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and and USC Scripter Award.
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders and main frontrunners for the award
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay races

12 Years a Slave is the first film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s one of the main contenders in the category. The film is about the true life tale of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was tricked into slavery and kept for the dozen years that gives the movie its name. Ever since it was announced that the film was being made, pundits like myself speculated that it was going to be an awards juggernaut. Well, it didn’t disappoint and after being the most cited flick among the precursor season, it’s now one of the most nominated films by the Academy and deep in the fight for Best Picture.
Working in 12 Years a Slave’s favor is that it is basically a universally beloved film. There might be more passionate support for other contenders, but it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t think that the movie is at least very good, if not great. That creates a situation where voters are basically assured of placing it high up on their ballot. Consensus is the key to victory in this category, and this is a flick that will not want for number one votes. The question is simply if the other two main competitors (American Hustle and Gravity) can amass a wider range of Academy members to vote for them as opposed to this one.
If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s […]

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