September 18, 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: scarlett johansson

Ranking the films of Cameron Crowe

I’m a big fan of positivity, especially when it comes to the film industry, since it seems to be at a premium most of the time. Two weeks ago, filmmaker Cameron Crowe’s latest movie Aloha opened to rather poor reviews, some of which began to look back and degrade his canon on the whole. In an attempt to keep it positive, I wanted to look back on Crowe’s filmography and rank his work to date, especially since I’m one of the few who feel that he’s basically never had a true “bad” movie. Some of his films are better than the others, of course, but they all have value…
Here’s my ranking of the films from writer/director Cameron Crowe:
1. Almost Famous – Crowe’s masterpiece and one of the best films of the last 25 years (along with one of my five favorites of all time), this is basically a perfect piece of cinema. A passion project based on Crowe’s childhood, it’s just brilliant on every single level. Multiple scenes are forever engrained in my mind, and I know I’m not alone. As a bonus, this is one of the few films that only gets better when you see more of it, as the three hour “Untitled” extended edition proves.
2. Jerry Maguire – One of the more quotable movies ever, this is Crowe at his most crowd pleasing. Armed with Tom Cruise in perhaps his peak form, at least charisma wise, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this romantic dramedy. By the time you hear “You had me at hello”, the film already has you. It’s probably the outing of Crowe’s that I’ve revisited most, due to just how pleasing it is, on pretty much all levels.
3. Say Anything – A very good film on its own, it’s made even better by the now iconic scene of John Cusack holding a boombox over his head, to the tune of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. Crowe was making his directorial debut here, after making a name for himself by writing the book and screenplay adaptation for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, so he was a work in progress. Still, this is an incredibly accomplished debut, full of hints that he was going to one day become the best in the business.
4. Elizabethtown – Here’s one that I love way more than almost anyone else. I have a soft spot in […]

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” begins to roll out worldwide

All this week, we’ve seen Marvel slowly begin to allow reviews to trickle out about Avengers: Age of Ultron, in advance of the global release this weekend, followed by the U.S. next week. So far, the early word has been pretty solid, with some out and out raves and almost no outright detractors. After how big a smash across the board The Avengers was, seeing the sequel apparently continue the trend is a solid sight to behold. Marvel continues their perfect record and comic book fans get another top tier piece of entertainment to enjoy. The summer movie season is about to begin folks…
You’d basically have to live under a rock not to be fully aware what this film is about, but at the off chance you don’t, I’m more than willing to provide a quick primer. Continuing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and working not only as a sequel to The Avengers but also Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this flick sees the team of superheroes faced with a dastardly Artificial Intelligence named Ultron (voice of James Spader). As such, it’s up to Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemseworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), along with newcomers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), to save the day. Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Colbie Smulders, and more return as well. Joss Whedon once again co-writes and directs. All told, it’s probably the largest scale comic book film to date.
What Avengers: Age of Ultron is doing now is setting up the next phase in Marvel’s giant plan, culminating in the next Avengers flick, which is a two parter. Sure, it’s a few years before Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 hits in May of 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 in May of 2019. Those films will basically result in a whole new direction for the company, or at least we assume. At the very least, they will mark Whedon turning over controls of the flagship Marvel franchise to veterans of Captain America: The Winter Solider and next year’s Captain America: Civil War, the Russo brothers, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. They’ll be the big shepherds from here on out, with Civil War upping the ante presumably from Age of Ultron and whetting the appetite for both parts of […]

Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner – Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer

Marvel Studios presents ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.
Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Chris Evans as Captain America. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.
Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series ‘The Avengers,’ first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ on May 1, 2015.
Cast:Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård with James Spader and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

The films that will sadly be shut out on Oscar nomination morning

In less than two weeks, the mystery is going to be solved in terms of who and what receive Academy Award nominations (with some mystery going away earlier today with the announcement of the Producers Guild of America nominations, but I’ll chime in on that tomorrow). At the same time, we’re also going to find out about the films and performances that are going to be snubbed for Oscar love. In some cases, movies are going to be shut out entirely. Most of the time, it’s more or less deservedly so, but their are always contenders that should have fared better in the awards season. Today, I wanted to shed some light on the flicks that almost assuredly are not going to be cited in any way, shape, or form, by members of the Academy. Sure, Oscar voters could surprise you, but I wouldn’t hold my breath…
Here now are ten films that are unfortunately set to be shut out when nominations are announced:
10. Tusk – No Kevin Smith film has ever competed at the Oscars (though rumor has it that Chasing Amy was the number six in Best Original Screenplay that year) and this horror-comedy won’t change that run, only in part due to mostly poor reviews (even if I dug it). At the same time though, Tusk features old school monster movie makeup and a rubber suit costume that I would have loved the Academy to have noticed/recognized. It won’t happen, but I’d do backflips if a Best Costume Design nomination came through.
9. Draft Day – A theme you’ll see a few times here in this column today is unfairly maligned films, with this sports drama being another prime example. It’s got a good enough script to have at least competed in Best Original Screenplay, though that field is obviously stacked. Ivan Reitman’s flick was unjustly ignored, something his son can also sympathize with this year as well (more on that below). It deserved a better fate than it received, plain and simple.
8. Edge of Tomorrow – Now, there’s a small chance that a tech nomination could come through for this Tom Cruise vehicle, but in a fairer world it would be a lock for a Best Film Editing nomination. Doug Limon’s movie didn’t do quite the business most expected it to, but it was a critical favorite and one of the more satisfying blockbusters of 2014. It might […]

The best films and performances of 2014

We’ve come to the end of the line, ladies and gentlemen. 2014 is about to be put into the books, with 2015 upon us in mere few hours. To close out the year, I wanted to pile on to the seemingly never ending group of articles filled with Top Ten lists and the like. I don’t want it to just be my list though, so below you’ll see that, but also my thoughts on the year as a whole, along with my picks for the best performances of the year as well a few specific category awards. Basically, this would reflect sort of what my Oscar ballot would look like in the major categories, though I’ll perhaps save that full look at a personal ballot for a more specific piece when voting comes to an end in a few weeks. We’ll see. Anyway, time to get this show on the road!
The cinematic year that was 2014 has been considered by some to be a real high water mark of late, while others felt that it was a severe let down. Me? I’m stuck in the middle. I had less films that I feel completely in love with than usual, but at the same time I had more films overall that I liked than in many of the prior years. As such, the movies sort of feel on par with the last few years to me. The very best of 2014 was incredible to me, featuring a few modern classics, so I can hardly call it a down year. Perhaps it was just that a handful of the most praised titles were ones that I didn’t go as nuts over, so that contributes to an odd feeling about 2014? Whatever the case, there were plenty of flicks that I adored, despised, and just plain scratched my head over. That makes for a full meal of a film year, so I can’t complain. That’s the year in a nutshell to me though…more of the same.
Obviously, there are a ton of things to look forward to in 2015, so perhaps at this time next year we’ll all be remarking about how much better of a cinematic slate it was, but at the same time, there’s always the chance of a big let down. In that case, we’d be reminiscing about the halcyon days of now. It’s all a shot in the dark when […]

A Mid-October Oscar Predictions Update

Ladies and gentlemen, as I’ve been saying over the past few months…oscar predictions are a rather funny thing. Sometimes you have to just update them all wholesale in order to not be way off the mark/behind the times, while sometimes they only require a relatively small bit of tinkering as to be on the right track and not out on crazy limbs. That’s simply the nature of the beast, one where a single new contender on the horizon can upend the race, one way or another. With only a small amount of Oscar hopefuls still to be seen, we’re again waiting for a new contender to potentially change the landscape (I’m looking at you, American Sniper), now that we’re in a world where Inherent Vice has already unveiled itself and not particularly changed things at all. In any event, it’s time for a new predictions update!
If you look at what I have in this particular update, you’ll see that I’ve made some changes, but not a complete overall. Once again though, a special thing I have for you all is the addition of who I have next in line in the major categories. This will give you a better idea of what the larger landscape looks like. I’ll obviously need to update these all again in a few weeks, particularly after I hopefully see things like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but that’s one step ahead of the game for me. Until then (as well as when the other unseen contenders reveal themselves), the educated guesswork will just have to continue on a little bit longer.
In terms of my winners, I just want to say that I think just about every race is still wide open (give or take Best Supporting Actor) and I refuse to predict a split between Best Picture and Best Director this early in the game, so when I switch one, I have to change the other. As such, you’ll see a handful of new winners throughout the big eight categories. They could just be temporary, but time will tell in that regard. For now, that’s just how I see the race…
Well, enough talk though folks. I know you all just want to see how the predictions have changed, even if only a little bit, so let me oblige you. Here now are my most up to date Academy Award predictions:
1. Boyhood
2. The Imitation Game
3. Birdman or […]

Re-ranking the contenders in Best Actress

As I’ve been mentioning over the last few weeks or so, with the festival season well underway and just about all of the major contenders for the Academy Awards having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to move forward and take a look at the big eight categories to see what’s what in an updated/more expanded fashion. I did this with the major categories a couple of months back, but that was when almost everything was still speculation. We have some facts to go on now, so while much of this is still just an educated guess, I’m not completely relying on overt hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film/director/performer in question, of course. Today I’m turning my attention once again to the Best Actress field, which is another category that won’t necessarily match up with Best Picture in any major way, but likely won’t be too far off either. Read on to see what I mean for this one…
One special note about Best Actress this year is that, on the flip side to best Actor, it’s a fairly barren race. Each of the ten women that I have cited as the ones with the best chance at a nomination have some chance at a nod, but only a few of them can realistically win. It’s going to be interesting to see if any surprise noms wind up shaking up this category when all is said and done…
Here are the ten ladies that I have in play for Best Actress currently, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point and time:
1. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) – If you ask a dozen pundits who the frontrunner is in Best Actress, you’ll probably get one of about five answers (hint, my top five), but if you ask me, I think this could turn into a walk for Jones. It’s just a hunch, but Oscar loves their supportive wives, something this performance apparently does incredibly well. Jones in the sweet spot of the age the Academy enjoys honoring, so that doesn’t hurt too. We have a long way to go before anyone in this category starts to separate themselves from the pack, but at this juncture, I’m backing Jones ever so slightly.
2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) – Now that folks are able to see […]

An October Oscar Predictions Update

Just as I said last month…oscar predictions are a funny thing. Sometimes you have to just update them wholesale in order to not be way off the mark, and sometimes they only require a relatively small bit of tinkering to be on the right track. That’s the nature of the beast, one where a single new contender can upend the race, one way or another. With only a day to go until Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is finally seen (yours truly will be there at the New York Film Festival), we’re waiting for a new contender to change the landscape, what with Gone Girl last week turning out great, but not as a game changer. In any event, it’s time for a predictions update!
If you look at what I have in this particular update, you’ll see a lot of what I had a few weeks ago, with small changes here and there. The big new thing I have for you all is the addition of who I have next in line in the major categories. This will give you a better idea of what the larger landscape looks like. I’ll obviously need to update this in a few weeks, particularly after processing Inherent Vice, but that’s one step ahead of the game. Until then, the educated guesswork will just have to continue a little bit more.
Well, enough talk though. I know you all just want to see how the predictions have changed, even if only a little bit, so let me oblige you. Here now are my most up to date Academy Award predictions:
1. Gone Girl
2. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Foxcatcher
4. The Imitation Game
5. Boyhood
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Whiplash
8. Unbroken
9. American Sniper
10. Interstellar
Next in line: 11. Men, Women & Children 12. Inherent Vice 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. Selma 16. Mr. Turner 17. Rosewater 18. A Most Violent Year 19. Wild 20. Nightcrawler
1. David Fincher – Gone Girl
2. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
4. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
5. Clint Eastwood – American Sniper
Next in line: 6. Christopher Nolan – Interstellar 7. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game 8. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash 9. James Marsh – The Theory of Everything 10. Angelina Jolie – Unbroken
1. Michael Keaton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
2. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
3. […]

Felicity Jones: Oscar newbies hoping for a first citation this year

Much like I took a look yesterday at veterans in contention for Oscar love the year, today I’m going to be turning my attention to the newbies who hope to receive some awards love. As I mentioned in the last piece, this is leading up to me doing a re-ranking of the contenders in all of the major categories beginning next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which rookies to the Oscar season are gearing up to hopefully make their big debuts on the awards circuit. Some are even in a position to win Academy Awards.
First up is Best Actor. In this race, the highest profile would be first time nominee would be either Steve Carell for Foxcatcher or Michael Keaton for Birdman. They’ve been frontrunners to many for basically this entire season. A tiny level down are more recent additions to the first timer’s party in Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Other contenders here with a strong chance include Oscar Isaac for A Most Violent Year, Jack O’Connell for Unbroken, David Oyelowo for Selma, Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner, and Channing Tatum for Foxcatcher. Rounding out the list, we have the likes of Gael Garcia Bernal for Rosewater, Ellar Coltrane for Boyhood, John Cusack for Love and Mercy, Richard Gere for Time Out of Mind, Bill Hader for The Skeleton Twins, and Miles Teller for Whiplash. Much like with the veterans, it’s going to be rough seeing how many worthy contenders don’t crack the lineup. This category is absolutely stacked.
Over in Best Actress, there are two major first timers right at the top of the list. They are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything and Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. They both represent major threats in this category, with Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin and Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars one level down. Also hovering around this category are Rosemarie DeWitt for Men Women & Children, Anne Dorval for Mommy, Mia Wasikowska for Tracks, and Kristen Wiig for The Skeleton Twins. The majority of the women in the ultimate Best Actress lineup this year will be vets, but the winner could very well turn out to be a first time nominee.
With the Best Supporting Actor contenders, the field is potentially being led by a first timer, with J.K. Simmons […]

The Best of the first two thirds of 2014

Can you believe that it’s the end of August already? Yes, by the time this weekend comes to a close, it’ll be September and two thirds of the year will be gone. As such, I figured I would do something you won’t see many other places…an article on the best of the first two thirds of 2014. Eight months have passed in the year and we’ve only got the top tier Oscar contenders left to see, so it felt natural to run down what’s been top drawer from the rest of the bunch. I’ll be giving you a look at what my current top ten of the year so far looks like, as well as what my own personal awards ballot at this juncture would look like. Hopefully it’s something fun that you enjoy reading…I know it’s the sort of thing that I enjoy writing!
As a note, I’ve included everything I’ve seen so far in 2014 (something approaching 200 films), regardless of if it’s been released yet. There’s one exception to that which I explain below, but aside from that it’s all there for you to see in black and white.
The Top Ten of the Year So Far:
10. The Lego Movie – Up until the third act reveal, I was wondering why this animated film was as beloved as it was. Then, I understood why, and this became so much more than a high energy bit of fun. This is clearly the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, and it deserves every single award it’s likely to receive.
9. Begin Again – Though not quite as phenomenal as Once, filmmaker John Carney has another winner here in this musical dramedy. Both Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are excellent, plus there’s once again tremendous music on display. I’ve praised this one a lot before, but it’s a winner…plain and simple.
8. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – I’m combining all three versions of this project here (Him, Her, and Them), one that I’m going to be talking about more soon, in order to praise how unique it is. Filmmaker Ned Benson, along with leads Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy have partnered on a love story that’s unlike any other. Stay tuned for more on this movie, but trust me when I say that it’s something to be on the lookout for.
7. Chef – An incredibly pleasing little gem from Jon Favreau, it’s quickly become […]

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