September 17, 2015
        "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                Will Smith crusades for Best Actor in the "Concussion" Trailer        

Tag Archives: Michael Keaton

Telluride and Venice launch festival debuts into the Oscar race

We always knew that the beginning of the fall festival season would launch a number of titles into the early Oscar race, but perhaps not to this level so far. Yes, over at the Telluride Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, almost all of the high profile debuts have been fondly received, giving them momentum going into the awards season. We still have the New York Film Festival later this month to add more potential contenders, but already Telluride and Venice have been a near embarrassment of riches. Even just a quick glance at the early response could make this a crowded precursor season once again.

We’ll start with Venice, which begun first and had the high profile premiere of Everest to kick things off. That disaster epic debuted to mostly solid reviews, though outside of the technical fields I have my doubts that this will contend heavily. Time will tell, but it could techs or bust for Baltasar Kormákur’s movie, which stars an ensemble that includes Jake Gyllenhaal. There was also the bow for Beasts of No Nation, which was incredibly well received, with tons of good work for filmmaker Cary Fukunaga as well as for actors Idris Elba and first timer Abraham Attah. The question here will be distributor Netflix can run a strong awards campaign or not. They’ve had mixed success with their television contenders at the Emmys, so their first film shot could be a tough go. It certainly bears watching though, as the quality is apparently very much there.

The big three over in Italy that have generated the most buzz though seems to be the trio of Black Mass, The Danish Girl, and Spotlight. Each seems to be a player, to one degree or another. Black Mass has gotten mostly solid initial reviews, though most of the time it’s been in praise of Johnny Depp’s performance more than anything else. Depp will be a force to be reckoned with in Best Actor, though the film and perhaps a supporting performance or two (Joel Edgerton, for one) could come along for the ride. Scott Cooper’s flick might not be in a prime spot for Best Picture, but it’s definitely going to hang around. The same can be said of The Danish Girl, which is Tom Hooper’s latest Academy player. Pundits have raved about the performances of Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, so this could potentially be […]

Bruce Dern: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actor contenders

HOLLYWOOD CONTENDERS:Here we go again folks. It’s time for another category to get a somewhat in depth look at what/who its top contenders might be. I’ve gone over what this is a number of times, but in case you’re new to it all, here it is in short: it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen six or so months from now, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to actually know something about what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m once again running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet that you can use as you see fit.
Today I’m continuing with another of the bigger acting categories…yes, it’s Best Supporting Actor. Hot on the heels of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight dropping a first Trailer that offers up tons of Supporting Actor possibilities, this seems like a perfect bit of timing. You can see the Trailer in question now, by the by, but there are plenty of other contenders on hand as well. You’ll see what I mean momentarily…
First up, the Teaser Trailer for The Hateful Eight:

Here now 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. Bruce Dern (The Hateful Eight) – After seeing that Trailer, you have to think that the whole ensemble could be in play, but I think the secret weapon for Tarantino might be Dern. He’s quiet and in the background, but within the film could really steal some scenes. Few others in this category fit the form of a winner more aptly than Dern, as he’s a veteran still looking for that elusive statue. He came close a few years ago with Nebraska, and if he’s half as good here as he was there, he can certainly contend for a win now. If you veer […]

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 […]

2015 MTV Movie Award nominations are more respectable than usual

Yesterday, the MTV Movie Award nominations were announced for 2015. Normally, that’s not the sort of thing that I care even a little bit about, but lo and behold…the films and performances cited happen to be far more respectable than normal. The nominations were led by The Fault in Our Stars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Neighbors, which each came away with 7 citations. There also happened to be multiple nominations scored for Boyhood, Gone Girl, Selma, and Whiplash, among others. This will never become any kind of noteworthy precursor, for sure (especially when it happens after the Oscars are already held), but hey…a step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.
Let me be perfectly clear, there are still plenty of terrible choices here, but the overall list is far better than you’d ever expect it to be. In fact, aside from an obvious bent towards some teen centric movies, this more or less resembles what a number of precursors with a mainstream tilt look like. It’s not inconceivable that in the next year or so these awards will gain a small measure of respect. Think closer to the People’s Choice Awards as opposed to even the Golden Globe Awards, but hey…it’s a start. Every awards show needs to start somewhere, right?
Sure, you could focus on the nominations for things like Annabelle, The Boy Next Door, Horrible Bosses 2, The Maze Runner, The Other Woman, The Purge: Anarchy, and The Wedding Ringer, but why do that? They also went for all of those aforementioned Oscar contenders, so that’s where the focus should be. This isn’t a nomination list to pay too much attention to, but a quick glance does give you a bit of confidence that the next generation of filmgoer isn’t solely concerned with YA franchise adaptions.
Here now is the full nominations list for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards:
Movie of the Year
American Sniper
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Guardians of the Galaxy
Gone Girl
The Fault In Our Stars
Best Female Performance
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Emma Stone – Birdman
Shailene Woodley – The Fault In Our Stars
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Scarlett Johansson – Lucy
Best Male Performance
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
Ansel Elgort – The Fault In Our Stars
Miles Teller – Whiplash
Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher
Best Scared-As-S**t Performance
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Annabelle Wallis – Annabelle
Jennifer Lopez – The Boy Next Door
Dylan O’Brien […]

“Birdman” soars at the Spirit Awards and Oscar ceremony

Well, it happened folks. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) took Best Picture from Richard Linklater’s Boyhood last night at the Academy Awards. It also managed to win Iñárritu Best Director over Linklater, as well as Best Original Screenplay as well, beating back Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel there. After a brief tease the night before at the Independent Spirit Awards, where the two big films split (Birdman took Best Feature and Boyhood/Linklater took Best Director), it was basically down the line with Oscar. For once, my predictions turned out to be right. I was one of the few to avoid predicting a split, so even though I wound up having one of my worst statistical nights ever, going just 17 out of 24, I got it right when it counted.
So, why did Birdman win? Well, it comes down to two factors for me. One is that it’s a movie about actors/Hollywood/movies to some degree, and that’s catnip to the Academy. Second is that they just plain liked it best. For that first factor, you need only look at recent winners like Argo and The Artist, alongside something like Chicago, and you can see that it’s something Oscar voters did on. For that second factor, it’s pretty self explanatory. Yes, individual honors might have gone elsewhere, including a snub in the Best Film Editing category, both technical sound categories going elsewhere, and Michael Keaton losing Best Actor to The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne (not to mention both Supporting nominees Edward Norton and Emma Stone coming up short), but overall it turned out to be the favorite. Sure, The Grand Budapest Hotel got plenty of love too, but not in the major categories. Collectively, Birdman was the one most beloved, and that resulted in Picture/Director/Original Screenplay going its way, and thus the big crown for the year.
On that same front, why did Boyhood wind up losing? Simply put, voters weren’t quite as fond of it as critics were. During the precursors, the critics award anointed it the frontrunner, something that the Golden Globe Awards bought into as well. Then, when the guilds got involved, which consist of many members of the Academy, they opted to go in a different direction. I’m sure the vote totals in Best Picture were close, with the ones in Best Director probably as tight as ever, but in the end, […]

OSCARS 2015 : Final Predictions for the Academy Awards

It’s time folks. I can’t delay it any longer, even if I’d like to. I must put out my final Oscar predictions. There’s no more time to go back and forth on if Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or Richard Linklater’s Boyhood will win Best Picture, as well as if Iñárritu or Linklater will take Best Director. It’s just down to this. As such, I’m not going to be giving any more analysis or reasoning for my picks, except to say that I ultimately couldn’t bring myself to predict a split. Does that mean I went all in on Birdman or went back to Boyhood? You’ll see below, but I’ll be saving the discussion points for Monday when I look at what the Academy choose to do, and why. Oscar voters have made their choices, so I’ve made mine as well. The Academy Awards are on Sunday night, so all we have to do is wait. I know I’m super excited and nervous, and I’d imagine you all are as well. Suffice to say, this was a unique season. Anyway, here’s to the Oscars!
Without any further delay at all, here now are my up to date and very last set of Academy Award predictions:
1. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Boyhood
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. Whiplash
6. American Sniper
7. Selma
8. The Theory of Everything
1. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
3. Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
5. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
1. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
2. Michael Keaton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
4. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
5. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
1. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
2. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
3. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
4. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
5. Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
1. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
2. Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
3. Edward Norton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
4. Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
5. Robert Duvall – The Judge
1. Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
2. Laura Dern – Wild
3. Emma Stone – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
4. Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
5. Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Boyhood
4. Foxcatcher
5. Nightcrawler

Predictions for the Independent Spirit Awards

Yes, the Academy Awards are on Sunday, but they aren’t the only big award show this weekend. The Independent Spirit Awards are on Saturday, making for a great one-two punch. I’ve always enjoyed the Spirit Awards as much as any precursor, even if their Oscar impact is basically nil. They represent a chance to honor some of the films that won’t be cited anywhere else. Sure, the movies have become more Oscar friendly in recent years, but there’s still some wonderful variety on display. Voters here are far different from Academy members, so it’s a different perspective, to say the least. As such, predicting the Spirit winners is a lot harder, that’s for sure.
Below you’ll see my picks, but quickly I’ll just say this…I really like some of their more diverse choices. True, this is another place where the big categories more or less come down to Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Birdman vs Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (and once upon a time Ava DuVernay’s Selma), but Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is strongly represented here as well. The Spirit Awards always throw in some nominees you’ve barely heard of (the film Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is that one for me this year), but lately they’ve matched up more and more with Oscar. Still, while Academy picks are all around, they also go more for the little guy. That leads to J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year not getting shut out, along with titles like The Immigrant, Obvious Child, and even Under the Skin getting nominations too. Yes, the big prizes are either going to Birdman or Boyhood, but at least one or two of the winners will be artists/films that never would have had a moment in the sun otherwise. That’s one of the biggest things I love about this precursor. They recognize the little guy. It’s something the movie industry should do more of, in general.
Alright, that’s that. Here now are my Spirit Award predictions. Take a gander:
1. Boyhood
2. Birdman
3. Selma
4. Whiplash
5. Love is Strange
1. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu – Birdman
2. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
3. Ava DuVernay – Selma
4. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash
5. David Zellner – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
1. Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler
2. Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias – Love is Strange
3. J.C. Chandor – A Most Violent Year
4. Jim Jarmusch – Only Lovers Left Alive
5. Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski – Big Eyes
1. Nightcrawler
2. Dear White People
3. […]

The Oscar Case For and Against Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman”

We’re less than a week away from the Academy Award ceremony folks, and by now we all know that it’s basically a sprint to the finish between Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. As such, this week I’m going to be looking at the Oscar cases for and against both films, starting today with Birdman (Boyhood will get its moment in a day or two). The movie has taken a strange road to the finish line, so it’s a fascinating case for Iñárritu’s work (the same for Linklater’s, incidentally), regardless of the outcome. Come with me now as we start off this final series (more a mini series, honestly, since there’s only two parts) and look at what’s working for and against a big Oscar night for Birdman.
I’m sure you all know the trek that Birdman has been on, but to quickly re-iterate, it was more or less a Best Picture/Best Director afterthought right up until the guilds began. Sure, Michael Keaton was seen as potentially the one to beat in Best Actor and both Edward Norton as well as Emma Stone were likely to get in for their supporting work (in Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively), but the film itself was a number two at best. The precursor season had seen Boyhood thoroughly chosen by the critics, with the Golden Globes going that same route. Iñárritu and company got a Globe lifeline in the form of Best Screenplay, but it wasn’t until the Producers Guild of America crowned it in an upset that the tide began to turn. The Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild followed suit, so the trifecta of DGA, PGA, and SAG makes it probably the new frontrunner in this final stage of the game.
Working in the movie’s favor is the fact that it co-led the Oscar nominations and has support across the entirety of the Academy. It’ll undoubtedly go home with at least one technical award (Best Cinematography, which is a lock to give Emmanuel Lubezki his second statue), though more than one tech citation is certainly possible. Furthermore, it still has Keaton alive in Actor and is all but guaranteed to not come up short in all three of the big categories…Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It’s possible that it could lose one, or even two of those, but all three? That’s not […]

A Mid February Oscar predictions update

We’ve come to the penultimate update to my predictions folks. With Academy Award voting going on hot and heavy, it’s really time to buckle down and try to work out some last minute Oscar hunches before final predictions next week, right? Much like I said last week, it’s pretty serious crunch time here, so once again aside from a guild announcement tomorrow (the Writers Guild of America awards) there won’t be any new information at all to go on, and there might not even be much this weekend, depending on what the folks at the WGA wind up doing with their two prizes. Essentially, at the end of the road. I’ve tried out some small changes and a few big ones, but the feel of the show remains pretty similar. The big question is still how Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay will go, and if Birdman or Boyhood will sweep those…plus the potential for Original Screenplay to wind up in the hands of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Geez, I’m sweating already.
As you can see below, I’ve once again opted to go with Birdman in the big three spots, giving it Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay wins. I definitely feel like Boyhood will win at least one of those, with The Grand Budapest Hotel even being a threat in the Screenplay category. The other notable changes I’ve made surround Whiplash, which I have doing way better than I think most expect it to, including pulling off a Best Adapted Screenplay upset win and a Best Film Editing surprise victory as well. That would give it four wins, second only to Birdman, which I have taking home five statues right now. This all can and likely will change more before Oscar night, so take it as still a work in progress. That being said, it’s the second to last crack that I have at it, so I’m making my speculating count…
Without any further delay, here now are my up to date Academy Award predictions:
1. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Boyhood
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. Whiplash
6. American Sniper
7. The Theory of Everything
8. Selma
1. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
3. Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
5. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
1. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
2. […]

Which nominee will wind up with the most Oscar wins?

With the Academy Awards creeping up on us and voting currently going on, I wanted to consider for a moment which one of the nominees is primed to do best on Oscar night. Usually, you can narrow it down to just one or two films that are in prime position to lead the way, in terms of wins, but this year isn’t that sort of a case. It makes sense too, considering how little of the season has gone by the book. Since just about anything can happen, that applies to Oscar night as well. The Academy could wind up going in numerous different directions here…
Basically, the way I narrowed down the list of movies that potentially could have the best Oscar night was to start with the Best Picture lineup. That gave me eight contenders to start with. From there, I eliminated Selma, of course, since it only had two nominations in total. Then, I opted to exclude American Sniper due to its controversies and decent probability of being totally shut out. That left me with six of the nominees, some of whom have a better shot at this honor than others. These are the most likely half dozen though, no doubt about that. It’ll be one of these when all is said and done. Ironically, most of the early contenders to really be heavily rewarded wound up snubbed, for the most part. Potential juggernauts like Gone Girl, Interstellar, Into the Woods, and Unbroken fell short in one way or another, so we only have some of the Best Picture nominees to cull from.
Here are the most likely films to lead the way in terms of Oscar night wins:
1. Birdman – Co-leading the field with nine nominations, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film has recently become the odds on favorite for some major awards, which could set it up to have the best total day of any contender. A slightly realistic perfect world evening for Birdman would see it take Best Picture, Best Director (for Iñárritu), Best Actor (for Michael Keaton), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and perhaps either Best Sound Editing or Best Sound Mixing. That would give it a half dozen wins, and no other movie can contend with that, I don’t think. The awards will likely be split among many titles, but this one is in the pole position to wind up with the most overall.
2. Boyhood – […]

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