July 10, 2015

Tag Archives: oscar

“Creed”: An under the radar Oscar contender?

Ladies and gentlemen, I know it sounds silly, but a sequel/spinoff from Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films might be in awards contention this year. Yes, the upcoming movie Creed is another installment in the franchise centered around fighter Rocky Balboa, but this one takes a U-turn. Instead of being about Stallone’s pugilist, it’s about former rival turned friend Apollo Creed’s son. Rocky is more the trainer than the protagonist, essentially re-launching this series with a grittier and younger bent to it. A Trailer hit last week and really impressed me (which you’ll see below), leading me to wonder if the Academy might once again be interested in this franchise?
For those who don’t know, the first Rocky with a big time Oscar contender, nominated for ten Academy Awards and winning three (Best Picture, Best Director for John G. Avildsen, and Best Film Editing). Stallone himself was cited two times, for Best Actor as well as Best Original Screenplay. The franchise became a bit sillier each time out, as Stallone stepped behind the camera (except for Rocky V, which had Avildsen direct again) and made his hero a superhero, essentially negating the interest voters had in it. The most recent sequel, entitled Rocky Balboa, brought a measure of respect back to the series, so now Creed hopes to capitalize on that.
This film centers around Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, best known for Fruitvale Station), the son of former champion Apollo Creed. Fans of the franchise know that Apollo has passed on, so it’s fellow former champ Rocky Balboa who steps in as a trainer to help Adonis follow in his father’s footsteps. Essentially, this looks to be more of the first Rocky than any other in the franchise so far, while also functioning as basically a reboot of sorts. Ryan Coogler (of Fruitvale Station fame as well) co-writes with Aaron Covington and directs, while aside from Jordan and Stallone, the cast includes Graham McTavish, Phylicia Rashad, and Tessa Thompson. Taking the series back to its roots might be just what the doctor ordered.
The main reason to be excited for this one is seeing Coogler and Jordan work together again. They both broke through in a big way with Fruitvale Station, a film that was majorly snubbed by the Academy. This time around, they’re getting to tell a similarly gritty (if fictional this time out) story, just couched around an established franchise. Especially if […]

Al Pacino’s Top Ten performances to date

More or less ever since winning an Oscar for Best Actor in Scent of a Woman, Al Pacino has seen less than his fair share of top notch roles. Luckily though, that drought ends this week with David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn, which features Pacino doing easily his best work in a long time. As such, I wanted to rank his best work to date, covering both his newest film as well as some of his most exciting early roles. Obviously, someone like Pacino has more than ten great performances under his belt, but these are what make up my personal list. I hope you enjoy!

Here now are what I consider to be Pacino’s ten best works to date:
10. Glengarry Glen Ross – He doesn’t have the most iconic role of the lot, but he certainly makes the most of his screen time. Everyone here is uniformly great, so it’s hard for anyone in the cast not to have this film on a list of their best performances. Pacino is no exception, obviously. It may not be his flashiest part, but you admire his work all the same.
9. Scent of a Woman – His Oscar winning role is one that sometimes is not given its due, but I find it to be more than a solid performance. Sure, it’s loud, but that’s kind of the point, I think. This is a brash character and Pacino never once is frightened of potential caricature. Some bad habits developed here, but he’s still very good in the role. It’s hardly a crime that he won for this one.
8. Manglehorn – On Friday you can see Pacino be quietly heartbreaking in David Gordon Green’s latest experimentation. Getting to see the master dial it back in ways he hasn’t in just about decades is truly something to behold. He hinted a bit at this with The Humbling recently, but this performance really reminds you that he’s one of the greatest at the craft of acting who’ve ever lived.
7. …And Justice for All – Pacino is perhaps best known for uttering the now iconic line of “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order!” in this film, but it’s an overall delight to watch Al in a court room. He doesn’t chew the scenery, but instead makes the legal system theatrical in an incredibly compelling way. A very underrated title.
6. […]

“San Andreas” continues to showcase Dwayne Johnson as a top tier action hero

We have more of almost everything at the movies these days, with one glaring exception: we don’t have nearly as many action heroes as we used to. Sure, there are plenty of action films opening with stars or up and comers in leading roles, saving the day, but very few true “action heroes”. One notable modern exception is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a certified A-list star of the action genre. He’s come a long way from just being The Rock, either in wrestling or his first on screen roles, but even removed from that, he’s a charismatic screen presence that holds the action hero title these days with aplomb. This week, he further cements his status with the disaster movie San Andreas.
In San Andreas, we get west coast spin on the disaster movie, leaving New York City alone for a moment to focus in on California. The film follows Johnson as a helicopter rescue pilot who tries to save his soon to be ex-wife and daughter in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively as the Golden State sees the San Andreas fault crack open in literally Earth shaking quakes. He then goes on a mission to save his family, as you’d expect. Johnson stars, with Carla Gugino as his wife and Alexandra Daddario as his daughter. The cast also includes Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Archie Panjabi, Kylie Minogue, Todd Williams, and Will Yun Lee. The director here is Brad Peyton, while the screenwriting team consists of Carlton Cuse, Andre Fabrizio, and Jeremy Passmore.
The special effects are the star of this one, but Johnson gives them a run for their money, demonstrating the screen presence and charisma that has made him the star that he now is in Hollywood. Those qualities made him the top pro wrestler of his generation, so it’s no surprise that he’s a ready made action hero. Initially, he coasted by on those qualities, but now he’s developed some acting chops to boot. He’s no Oscar nominee in the making (though anything is possible), but San Andreas represents one of his best performances to date, outside of Snitch and perhaps Pain and Gain as well. He’s a movie star through and through.
What makes Johnson not only one of the few action heroes we have, but one of the best, is how well he compliments whatever is happening on the screen. Be it car […]

Cate Blanchett in “Carol”: Our first big Oscar contender from Cannes 2015

Over the past week or so, the 2015 Cannes Film Festival has slowly unveiled some big time releases. Some, like Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees, have turned out to be longer shots for any Academy Award attention. On the other hand, Cannes has seen Todd Haynes’ Carol launch towards the top of quite a few Oscar contention lists. Yes, while the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, and Emma Stone saw their chances fade, Cate Blanchett, Kyle Chandler, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson certainly had their stock rise. Carol is the cream of the Cannes crop so far…
As a primer, the film is an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt (later retitled Carol). In it, Blanchett plays a married older woman who begins a flirtation and then an affair with a younger woman, played by Mara. Chandler plays Blanchett’s possessive husband, while the cast also includes the aforementioned Paulson in a vital role, alongside the likes of Carrie Brownstein, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, and more. Haynes directs, obviously, while the adaptation of Highsmith’s book has been penned by Phyllis Nagy. In some ways, this sounds like similar material to Far From Heaven, but if that is the case, that doesn’t mean that Oscar won’t be very interested, regardless.

I think that this one has some huge awards potential, both at Cannes and beyond as we move towards Oscar season. For starters, it’s certainly a contender now for the Palme d’Or prize as well as citations for Haynes and Blanchett at the fest. At the end of the year, when The Weinstein Company puts it out, it’ll likely be one of the bigger Academy Award players as well. This is one that you really can’t ignore, especially after the glowing reviews from the festival. Before that, it was still a strong possibility given its pedigree, but now…well, things are all that much better for Harvey Weinstein’s likely big shot at Oscar gold.
How good could this one do? Well, I don’t think Carol will wind up leading the field, but Best Picture, Best Director (for Haynes), Best Actress (for Blanchett and/or Mara), Best Supporting Actor (for Chandler), Best Supporting Actress (for Mara and/or Paulson), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score represent potential nominations. Yes, a double digit total is something that […]

YOUTH: Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel and Paul Dano

Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley announced today that the company has acquired North American rights to YOUTH, starring Oscar winner Michael Caine, Oscar winner Rachel Weisz, Oscar winner Jane Fonda, Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel and Paul Dano. The film is written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, director of Italy’s Oscar foreign language winner THE GREAT BEAUTY, and produced by Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima, Carlotta Calori for Indigo Film in collaboration with Medusa Film. YOUTH is coproduced by Fabio Conversi for Barbary Films, Jérôme Seydoux for Pathé, Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen for Number 9, David Kosse for Film4, and Anne Walser for C-Films. YOUTH will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and is scheduled to be released in 2015.
“I’m delighted and proud that Fox Searchlight has acquired my new film: Youth. As a movie lover, I have always appreciated Fox Searchlight’s choices which have given us the opportunity to see beautiful and unforgettable films. This time, as the auteur, I am honored with the faith they have placed in me and the film,” said Sorrentino.

“Paolo’s masterful film projects an extraordinary wisdom and grace. Anchored by Michael Caine’s emotionally riveting performance and buoyed by an exceptional supporting cast, YOUTH is, simply put, a film about life and living told in the most cinematic of terms,” said Utley and Gilula.
“I am very happy that Fox Searchlight has picked up Youth. To secure a North American distribution with such a prestigious company, which always chooses and promotes its films with the utmost care, is a very important signal for Italian Cinema,” said producer Giuliano.
From Paolo Sorrentino, the director of Italy’s Oscar foreign language winner THE GREAT BEAUTY comes YOUTH, about two longtime friends vacationing in the Swiss Alps. Oscar winning actor Michael Caine plays Fred, an acclaimed composer and conductor, who brings along his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and best friend Mick (Harvey Keitel), a renowned filmmaker. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. The two men reflect on their past, each finding that some of the most important experiences can come later in life.
The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Ray Strache and Executive Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O’Brien with Muriel Sauzay, Pathe’s Executive Vice President International […]

TOMORROWLAND in these new featurettes starring George Clooney, Britt Robertson and Director Brad Bird!

From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s “Tomorrowland,” a riveting mystery adventure starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.
Featuring a screenplay by “Lost” writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, “Tomorrowland” promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.
The film also stars Hugh Laurie as brilliant scientist David Nix, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key and Thomas Robinson.
“Tomorrowland” is produced by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird and Jeffrey Chernov and directed by Brad Bird, with John Walker, Bernard Bellew, Jeff Jensen and Brigham Taylor serving as executive producers. “Tomorrowland” opens in U.S. theaters on May 22, 2015.

Ethan Hawke might be the most underrated actor in Hollywood

I don’t know if many people notice, but there’s almost nothing in the film industry that Ethan Hawke can’t do…and do well. He’s been an awards mainstay of late, as well as being someone who Oscar has nominated far more often than you probably realize. This week, he makes another 2015 appearance (one of many for him this year) in Good Kill, which also reunites him with filmmaker Andrew Niccol. I think this intense role just serves as more evidence that Hawke can pretty much do anything. He’s already had a documentary of his come out in 2015, has some other indies on the way, and always is on the cusp of working with Richard Linklater again, not to mention being an author. He’s a true renaissance man.
First of all, we should briefly discuss Good Kill. The film centers around an Air Force pilot played by Hawke who’s assigned to work as a drone operator. As he continues to kill terrorists from the comfort of a base stateside, he begins to long for actual combat and to exist some signs of a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His PTSD affects his job performance, interactions with his family, and his own sanity. In addition to Niccol writing/directing and Hawke in the central role, the cast includes Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kravitz, and January Jones, among others. It’s a small scale outing by Niccol, but it’s a medium sized one for Hawke, who’s as comfortable in big budget features as he is in micro-budgeted indies.
I saw Good Kill back at the just recently completed 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and found it to be pretty solid. Besides having a captivating premise, what really struck me was Hawke’s performance. It’s a bit different than what he normally does, while at the same time fitting perfectly for him. It’s a part that fits him like a glove, frankly. As the screws get wound tighter, you just lean in and stare at his work. It’s nothing like his nominated performance in Boyhood, for example (which is nothing like his other nominated acting job in Training Day), but that’s the point…he’s so flexible, and I don’t think enough folks realize it.
Not to hammer the point home, but Hawke pretty much can do anything. If you look just at what the Academy has noticed, he’s got a pair of Best Supporting Actor nominations to his credit, alongside […]

George Clooney – TOMORROWLAND – New Trailer and IMAX Sneak Peek

A brand new trailer from Disney’s Tomorrowland starring George Clooney has been released.
From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure ‘Tomorrowland,’ starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as ‘Tomorrowland.’
What they must do there changes the world and them forever.
Featuring a screenplay by ‘Lost’ writer and co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, from a story by Lindelof & Bird & Jeff Jensen, ‘Tomorrowland’ promises to take audiences on a thrill ride of nonstop adventures through new dimensions that have only been dreamed of.

The 82nd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

As I mentioned last time out, this series has officially returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent (or now recent-ish) 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 attempting to do just that, time will still tell if it’s something that gets stuck with or not. Again, if nothing else, this continues to give 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 then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks for this particular ceremony:
Best Picture – Up in the Air
The nominees here were A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up. The main snub here, in my book at least, was (500) Days of Summer, and I nearly went with the actual winner in The Hurt Locker, but Up in the Air was my #1 film of this year, so that made it pretty academic in the end.
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
A history making and diverse category this time out, the field consisted of Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. I believe Marc Webb was snubbed for (500) Days of Summer and really wish that Reitman had come closer to winning, but when you come right down to it, I can’t argue with Bigelow. The first woman to ever win Best Director gets my vote here as well.
Best Actor – George Clooney for Up in the Air
Here the nominees were Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker. The Academy missed the boat on nominating Sam Rockwell for Moon, but aside from him, I’d have to go for Clooney.
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for An Education
The big snub to me here was Zooey Deschanel for (500) Days […]

Oscars® select show dates for 2016, 2017 and 2018

The Academy and the ABC Television Network today announced the dates for the 88th, 89th and 90th Oscar® presentations. The Academy Awards® will air live on ABC on Oscar Sunday, February 28, 2016, February 26, 2017, and March 4, 2018, respectively.
Academy key dates for the 2015 Awards season are:
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Friday, January 8, 2016
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Monday, February 8, 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Oscar Sunday, February 28, 2016
The Governors Awards
Nominations voting opens 8 a.m. PT
Nominations voting closes 5 p.m. PT
Oscar Nominations Announcement
Oscar Nominees Luncheon
Final voting opens 8 a.m. PT
Scientific and Technical Awards
Final voting closes 5 p.m. PT
88th Academy Awards begins 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT
The 88th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.
FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

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