December 03, 2016

Tag Archives: Steve Carell

Woody Allen has another crowd pleaser on his hands with “Cafe Society”

It’s always a slightly underrated pleasure in my eyes that we get a new Woody Allen movie each year, without delay. This week, he brings us yet another one, and I’m quite fond of it as well, if you’ve noticed my praise here and there over the course of the month. It’s Cafe Society, which is one of my favorites of 2016 so far. Not only is it a return to form of sorts for Allen (as folks always like to claim), but it’s a fantastic turn for Kristen Stewart, who is a perfect match for the material. It all comes together in a really pleasurable way. It’s just a damn good movie.
This is another period piece from Allen, this one set in the 1930’s, both in New York City and Hollywood as well. Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) moves from the Bronx to Tinseltown in search of a job in the movie industry, which he gets due to his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), an agent to the stars. Not only does he have an in, but Bobby also meets Phil’s secretary Vonnie (Stewart), which whom he falls head over heels in love. I won’t say where it goes, but it has more to say about love than you might initially think. Stewart writes, directs, and narrates, with the cast, in addition to the main three mentioned above, including Jeannie Berlin, Anna Camp, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider, Corey Stoll, Ken Stott, and more. Cinematography here is done by the legendary Vittorio Storaro.
Much like earlier this week with Equals, Stewart shines here. She, along with Storaro’s visuals, which are my favorite of the year. There’s just a vibrance from both on display here that just mix with Allen in a phenomenal way. It’s so luminous, you can’t help but fall under its spell. You can make the case that Woody is cribbing from his own filmography again, but he’s choosing top notch outings of his own to utilize, so that’s all good in my book. Carell, Eisenberg, and Lively are strong as well, as is Stoll in a small role, but Stewart completely steals the show.
Awards wise, Cafe Society could be the sort of Allen flick to make a play with the Academy. In terms of categories, look for campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Allen), Best Actor (for Eisenberg), Best Supporting Actor (for Carell), Best Supporting Actress (for Lively […]

Updated Golden Globe predictions

Believe it or not, the Golden Globe awards are coming, sooner than you think. Yes, it seems like just yesterday the nominations were announced, but now the actually ceremony is only a few weeks away (less than three weeks now, in fact). As such, it’s definitely time to update my predictions, reflecting for the first time the actual nominees. I’m not sure anything is obvious just yet with the Globes, though some potential frontrunners have definitely emerged. With the early date for the ceremony, we’ll possibly get to see new frontrunners put forward, or else the strongest contenders will just get stronger. Either way, it’ll most certainly contribute something to the awards season.
It seems like it’ll be Spotlight and The Martian emerging with big wins, though Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short could prove to be party poopers. My hunch is that both wind up with the Best Picture prizes here, with either Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy or The Martian’s Ridley Scott taking Best Director, though George Miller is a possible spoiler for Mad Max: Fury Road. Acting wise, things are less set in stone, though the Actor prizes potentially seem wrapped up for Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant and Matt Damon in The Martian. That being said, the former has competition from Bryan Cranston in Trumbo and the latter has from Steve Carell in The Big Short. Actress wise, I think Brie Larson in Room and Jennifer Lawrence in Joy seem like the safe bets, though neither is locked in. The same goes for Supporting Actor with Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies and Supporting Actress with Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight, now that I mention it. Essentially, nothing is a sure thing right now, and that’s exciting!
Obviously, the Academy Awards correlation is fairly limited here since it’s a completely different group of voters. Also, ballots are due a few days before the Globes have their show, with the Oscar nominations being announced a couple of days later, so if anything, this functions more as a potential barometer for the ultimate winners, not the nominees. Speeches can be tried out and victories are tried on for size by members of the Academy. It’s not nearly as important as the guilds are to the process, but it’s not quite as easy to dismiss as something like the Critics Choice Awards, so there’s that.
Here now is my first […]

Hollywood Contenders – “The Big Short” continues to impress on the precursor circuit

About a month or so ago, The Big Short first started making the pre release rounds, building up buzz and goodwill. Then, critics were able to begin chiming in, speaking about how fond they were of Adam McKay’s film. Now, in the past few days, the precursors have supported the movie as well, in particular the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. In the case of the latter, the flick now has guild support. All this is to say that The Big Short is not going away and has impressed me as a late contender really managing to make its mark on the award season so far. With it opening in limited release today, now’s a perfect time to take another look at it.
One more time, a quick primer on what this is about. The film is an adaptation of the best selling Michael Lewis nonfiction book of the same name. It centers on the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks in the mid to late 2000’s. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it, seeing what was coming before anyone else did. We watch as those few outsiders in the industry with foresight like the characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling. They make their moves, all as the collapse gets closer and closer to happening. The aforementioned McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation of Lewis’ book with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes, besides the previously mentioned Bale, Carell, and Gosling, the likes of Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, and quite a few more in addition to those already cited. Cinematography is by the great Barry Ackroyd as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so The Big Short already had a pedigree to it, that’s for sure. It’s just been interesting to see it take that ball and really run.

I’ve praised this movie already before, so what I mainly want to talk about now is the recent run of good luck on the precursor circuit that it’s had. SAG gave it two nominations on Wednesday (Best Supporting Actor for Bale and Best Ensemble, which is like a Best Picture nomination), while the Globes really dug it yesterday, heaping four nominations […]

Hollywood Contenders – “The Big Short” is trying to crash the Oscar party

Almost every year, we get a late breaking contender into the Oscar race that hopes to upend things and carve out a spot for itself across the board. Last year, that hopeful was American Sniper, and we all know how well that did (no sarcasm there, for once). This year, Paramount is hoping to copy the successful play of Warner Brothers and drop The Big Short into late Academy Award contention. Having seen the film last night, I can vouch for it potentially being able to make a dent in the Oscar lineup. It’s an angry, entertaining, and unique look at the financial collapse, with an A-list cast all doing strong work.

The film is an adaptation of the best selling Michael Lewis book of the same name. It’s about the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it, seeing what was coming before anyone else did. We watch as those few with foresight like the characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling make their moves, all as the collapse gets closer and closer. Adam McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation of Lewis’ book with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes, besides the aforementioned Bale, Carell, and Gosling, the likes of Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, and quite a few more in addition to those already mentioned. Cinematography is by the great Barry Ackroyd as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so The Big Short already has a pedigree to it, that’s for sure.
What really works here is how McKay not only gets such great work from his cast (Carell and Gosling are best in show, if you ask me, though everyone pulls their weight), but how he’s able to take so many complicated concepts and whittle them down to something we can all understand. It’s a complex film, but he does so many experimental things (like having characters break the fourth wall to tell us which scenes were real and which were fabricated, along with some other surprises I won’t spoil), leading to a flow that really works. It might be too focused and smart for others, but it’s also very funny at times, though you’ll possibly […]

Which categories will be the most competitive this year?

Of the many things that you can consider when thinking about the Oscar race, one that I like to ponder from time to time is which categories will be the most competitive. I hinted at this in another piece this week, but certain categories are shaping up to be stronger than other ones. That being said, instead of looking at strengths and weaknesses, I figured today I’d see which ones seem like they’ll be the most competitive. That opens things up to more combine quality and quantity, as it were. This is a wide open year in general, so it’s only fitting that so many categories seem to be that way as well…
Below are the half dozen most competitive categories, as it stands right now:
6. Best Actress – After a bit of a drought, we have a group of Actress contenders that we can be quite proud of. Of course, who will win is wide open, but it’s not a situation where there’s only six or seven legitimate contenders for a nod. Vying for a nom here are the likes of Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Blythe Danner, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Carey Mulligan, Charlotte Rampling, Saorise Ronan, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin, and more. That’s ten right there. Nothing to sneeze at, right? It’s a tight race, and one that’s certainly among the most competitive that the Academy will have to offer us this year.
5. Best Visual Effects – Here’s a category that will really be an embarrassment of riches. Basically, there’s a bunch of different styles on display that voters will have to choose from. Contenders like Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, In the Heart of the Sea, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Walk, and more will be up for a nomination. Usually, this category has one or two frontrunners and then some also rans, but that’s not the case this year. I can see it going any number of different ways, and that’s a delight.
4. Best Supporting Actor – As jam packed as any category this year, Supporting Actor could be a photo finish. Among the large number of contenders, there are the likes of Paul Dano, Benicio del Toro, Bruce Dern, Joel Edgerton, Idris Elba, Sam Elliot, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Michael Keaton, Harvey Keitel, Seth Rogen, Mark Ruffalo, Kurt Russell, Mark Rylance, and Jason Segel. That’s […]

The Hollywood Film Awards Series: James Corden is the HFA host, but who will be Oscar’s?

With the recent announcement that James Corden was going to be the host of the 19th annual Hollywood Film Awards, I was struck by two notions. One was that it was a perfect reason to have another installment in the Hollywood Film Awards Series that we’ve been doing here, but also that it was an excuse to ponder who the Academy might choose to host the Oscars. Corden is an excellent choice for the Hollywood Film Awards and is a real get (much like Queen Latifah was the last time around for them), so the Academy Awards will have to try hard to top that pick. It’s doable, but the producers for the Oscars will have to really make an effort this time around. In honor of that, I figured I’d help and consider some names that might be worth sniffing around and offering the gig to…
Basically, what I’m going to do today is show you a few different categories that the producers could separate potential host candidates into. Believe me when I say that I don’t have an exhaustive list below for you, but what I have is a grab back that shows some of the possible avenues. So far, it’s anyone’s guess who the powers that be are partial to, but some rumors have thrown about names like Ellen DeGeneres and/or Steve Martin among former hosts, as well as the likes of Steve Carell and Justin Timberlake. I’ve included those names below, but among a handful of others alongside them.
The first grouping that I think is possible consists of former hosts. There’s the aforementioned Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Martin, but you’d have to also put Billy Crystal on that list as well. I’m not sure that this is the best way to go, but it’s the safest way to go. You can also look to Jon Stewart as another possible candidate among this grouping, though it remains to be seen if this is something he’d ever be interested in doing again. If he is, he’d be my pick of this litter, but given the choice, I’d shy away from a returning champion, as it were. There are more interesting choices elsewhere.
Next up is the obvious grouping of comedians/late night hosts, who are always under consideration. This list would include the likes of Louis C.K., Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Amy Schumer. You never know how the […]

“Bridge of Spies” represents one of the few unseen Oscar hopefuls left

As of today, there are only a small handful of titles vying for Oscar consideration that have yet to be seen by anyone. Specifically, I can think of ten films that have awards aspirations, to one degree or another. Some are very likely Best Picture nominees, while others are likely technical players or bust. Still, at this point, here in early October, there aren’t too many unseen movies left, so this is worth taking note of. As such, below you’ll see a bit on all of the flicks that are still mysteries or X factors to us. A couple are only days away from revealing themselves, but a few will be unseen for quite some time still…
Take a look at these ten unseen 2015 contenders:

The Big Short – The newest entry into the race, this financial criss flick could be just what the season needs. With possible acting contenders like Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, along with a legitimate chance to compete in the Best Picture field if all goes well, there’s a lot to like here. AFI Fest will be where this reveals itself, so it’ll be about a month until find out if this is a contender or a pretender.
Bridge of Spies – In just two days time I’ll be seeing Steven Spielberg’s latest at the New York Film Festival. All eyes are on this one, since it feels like a ready made winner in a ton of categories, even if that’s not what I’m currently predicting. Tom Hanks could return to the Best Actor lineup, among many other aspects of this film, so stay tuned for my Tweet out of NYFF this weekend. It could foreshadow if we have a big time threat or a small scale player here.
By the Sea – This passion project from Angelina Jolie stars herself and husband Pitt as a married couple, instantly aligning this one with some of the classic pairings of yesteryear. This will also debut at AFI Fest, which always reveals one or two late stage players. Could this be one of them? We’ll find out in November, but if you ask me now, I think it’s a bit of a long shot. That’s just a hunch though, so sit tight for the actual answer next month.
Concussion – A lot of the chatter about this one has centered on its relationship with the NFL during […]

“Freeheld” quietly enters theaters as an under the radar Oscar player

It’s fascinating to see how an awards player can see its stock rise and fall throughout Oscar season. Much like last week’s Stonewall, which went from a potential contender to throughly a pretender, Freeheld has seen its fortunes change ever since its debut on the film festival circuit. The movie is hitting theaters this week with less buzz than you’d expect, though that doesn’t mean that this one is dead. A lot will have to do with the precursors, which could easily resurrect the film. As such, I wanted to give it another quick mention and keep it on all of our minds…
In case you don’t remember from the last time I talked about Freeheld, the film is about same sex marriage and centers on two women fighting for the benefits that straight couples take for granted. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a Lieutenant in the New Jersey police force who encounters a struggle when she attempts to pass on her pension to her partner after developing terminal cancer. Her partner is a woman named Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) and is only her domestic partner (yes, it’s a period piece even though it’s from less than a decade ago), so she’s denied. Thus begins a level fight that spurred a documentary on the subject. Peter Sollett directs, while Ron Nyswaner wrote the screenplay. In addition to Moore and Page, the cast includes Steve Carell, Josh Charles, Luke Grimes, Michael Shannon, and a handful more. It’s prestige through and through, at least on paper. The reviews so far haven’t suggested that, however.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, pundits got the first look at the movie and weren’t especially impressed. Moore and Page got some nice mentions, but not quite what any of us had been expecting. Carell wasn’t given much praise, while the whole product apparently just isn’t the moving piece that the Trailer initially had suggested. It’s not the out and out failure that Stonewall turned out to be, both critically and commercially, but the film definitely took a big hit. Prior to Toronto, it was a potential nominee in a number of spots. Now? Basically, it’s holding on for dear life, hoping for the precursors to throw some bones its way and give it a fighting chance for a citation or two.
Assuming we had a worthy player on our hands, there were plenty of possibilities for the Academy to […]

Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling – “The Big Short” enters 2015 and could shake the Oscar race up

Something kind of big just came our way folks. Yes, the shake up to the awards season that we’ve been hoping for might have made its entrance. The film in question is The Big Short, which was originally set as a high profile 2016 release. Now though, it’s been announced as having a late 2015 release date, with a big debut at AFI Fest as well. As such, the Paramount release has to be considered a potentially big contender in a bunch of categories, particularly since the announcement also coincided with a Trailer dropping. Simply put, it looks very good. It hasn’t been a boring season yet, but the potential was there, so this new contender is welcome in my eyes…
The movie is an adaptation of the Michael Lewis book of the same name. It’s about the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it. Adam McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Melissa Leo, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, and quite a few more as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so it’s fair to assume that The Big Short could certainly follow in the Oscar nominated footsteps of both…

What has me so intrigued by this new Academy Award hopeful is that we’ve yet to really see anything that feels like a slam dunk Best Picture nominee. Moreover, I don’t think any of the acting or writing categories are locked up, not to mention Best Director. The closest might be Spotlight of the films that have screened so far (more on that one soon), but the unseen contenders are what we’re really banking on this year. With the rest of 2015 filled with movies that could do well but could also fall short, something like this flick really does give voters one more high profile option. We’re just speculating, but that’s the name of the game.

In terms of awards, The Big Short could wind up all over the place if it’s as good as the Trailer looks. Nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (for McKay), Best Actor (for either Bale, Carell, Gosling, or Pitt, depending on category placement), Best Supporting Actor (some combination of Bale, Carell, Gosling, or Pitt, depending […]

“Freeheld,” starring Julianne Moore enters the Oscar race with a touching Trailer

Issue driven films with a ton of heart usually find their way into the awards season one way or another. Hopefully, it’s because they’re good movies and legitimately important, either for the culture or the world in general. Sometimes though, it’s just due to how shamelessly manipulative they can be on an emotional level. Hopefully, one new entry into the former category will be Freeheld, which is hitting the awards season at a very timely moment in history. A Trailer hit last week (which you can see below) and it appears to be hitting all of the right notes in order to appeal to Oscar in a potentially significant way come its October theatrical release.
The film is about same sex marriage and centers on two women fighting for the benefits that straight couples take for granted. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a Lieutenant in the New Jersey police force who encounters a struggle when she attempts to pass on her pension to her partner after developing terminal cancer. Her partner is a woman named Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) and is only her domestic partner (yes, it’s a period piece from less than a decade ago), so she’s denied. Thus begins a level fight that spurred a documentary on the subject. Peter Sollett directs, while Ron Nyswaner wrote the screenplay. In addition to Moore and Page, the cast includes Steve Carell, Josh Charles, Luke Grimes, Michael Shannon, and more. It’s prestige through and through.
Considering the leaps and bounds that we’ve taken as a society in terms of LGBT rights, this is an interesting look back at a time when we as a nation weren’t fully formed on the issue. Assuming Sollett and Nyswaner have nailed the material, there’s no reason to think that this won’t be an emotional an thought provoking cinematic experience. If that’s the case and it’s not just overt manipulation in the pursuit of awards, we very well might see this become a pretty notable contender with Oscar and all along the precursor season. The ingredients are most certainly all there, to say the least.
Assuming we have a worthy player on our hands, there are plenty of possibilities for the Academy to latch on to here in terms of awards. Obviously there’s Best Picture, along with Best Director (for Sollett), Best Actress (either Moore or Page, likely the former), Best Supporting Actor (Carell or Shannon), Best Supporting Actress […]

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