July 10, 2015

Tag Archives: steven spielberg

Ridley Scott: Looking at potential Best Director contenders

Ahoy! As you folks all know from last year as well as my article last week, 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 another 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 to have in your back pocket.
Today I’m continuing with the second biggest one that’s out there…the Best Director category.
Here are the ten filmmakers that I have in play for Best Director, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Ridley Scott (The Martian) – Yes, I’m out on a limb with this one, but I’m sticking with it for a while longer. Scott hasn’t made a truly great film in a very long time, but all it takes is the right material, and this one is amazing source material. If the film manages to be in play for a Best Picture nomination, Scott could be right there with the movie itself. I’m fascinated to see if it can contend like I think it can, so stay tuned there…
2. Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies) – You really can’t make a list of the contenders in this category and not have Spielberg somewhere high up in your top five. Sure, this is perhaps a bit too standard of an Oscar bait type flick, but it’s that way at least in part because the formula works. As long as the film doesn’t disappoint, you can expect Spielberg and the project itself to be heavily in play all year long.
3. David Gordon Green (Our Brand is Crisis) *Possible 2016 release – A total hunch of mine, but if it winds up ready for release/dated for 2015, it could be an under the radar player to contend with. A political dramedy/satire can be […]

“The Martian”: Looking at potential Best Picture contenders

Welcome to July folks. Much like I said last year, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions to see what folks like myself think will happen at the end of the year, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know which films will be in contention. To that end, once a week (or maybe twice a week) for the next month or so I’ll be running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category. 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. Consider this a sort of pre awards season cheat sheet for you all.
Today I’m beginning with the big one, of course…Best Picture.
Here are the ten films that I have right now cracking the Best Picture lineup:
1. The Martian – A total hunch, I concede, but this is something with almost limitless potential. The Trailer was fantastic, the talent involved is top notch, and the book is a modern classic in my eyes. It’ll all depend on the execution on the part of Ridley Scott, but if he’s on his game and Matt Damon is his reliable self in the title role, there’s a chance we could see science fiction contend for a Best Picture win. Could this do what Gravity and Interstellar couldn’t? Stay tuned to find out…
2. Bridge of Spies – The safe bet right now, this latest collaboration between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg has all the trappings of an easy pick to win. The thing is, that film almost never wins anymore, so I feel like having it in the number two spot makes total sense at the moment. Things can and likely will change, but while my top pick is a bold shot in the dark, this one’s high ranking is almost the de facto vote if you sit down and think about it. That takes nothing from its potential, as it looks very good, but Hanks and Spielberg are trafficking in Oscar bait here, plain and simple.
3. Our Brand is Crisis – Something you’ll notice in a few places here is that I’m taking chances. This is another case of that, since there’s no assurances that David Gordon Green’s political dramedy/satire will even be ready this year. It could be a […]

“The Martian”: Oscar Predictions for June 2015

I’d been planning all week to write about Ridley Scott and Matt Damon’s The Martian, which debuted an incredible Trailer at the start of the week, but decided to hold off and incorporate it into my new Oscar predictions update. Why? Well, mainly because the film appears to be exceeding even my high expectations. I said after the Trailer debut of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ Bridge of Spies that you couldn’t bet against that one right now, but if you want to be bold, The Martian is one route to take. You’ll see in my predictions that I’ve decided to get a bit risky this time out…
Yes, instead of just going with as many obvious frontrunners for Academy Awards as possible, I’m looking to see what some fresh blood here and there might look like. As such, The Martian is really all over the place, doing better than any other film. A long shot? Perhaps, but everything so far suggests a special movie, so I’m banking that the book I adore so much was faithfully executed by Scott and company. If that’s the case, it easily could do what Gravity and Interstellar couldn’t, which is to really contend for a Best Picture win. Time will tell, but this update shows that at least I think it potentially has a chance. The Academy will have its say eventually, but right now, this is how I see things going.
Here now, without further delay, are my newest Oscar predictions:
BEST PICTURE
1. The Martian
2. Bridge of Spies
3. Our Brand is Crisis
4. The Light Between Oceans
5. Carol
6. The Revenant
7. Brooklyn
8. Steve Jobs
9. The Hateful Eight
10. Joy
Next in line: 11. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 12. Ricki and the Flash 13. The End of the Tour 14. Lion 15. MacBeth 16. Inside Out 17. By the Sea 18. Demolition 19. Freehold 20. The Walk 21. The Danish Girl 22. Black Mass 23. Southpaw 24. In the Heart of the Sea 25. Trainwreck 26. Sicario 27. Mad Max: Fury Road 28. Ex Machina 29. Suffragette 30. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Ridley Scott – The Martian
2. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
3. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
4. Todd Haynes – Carol
5. Derek Cianfrance – The Light Between Oceans
Next in line: 6. David O. Russell – Joy 7. Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant 8. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight 9. […]

Ranking the films in the “Jurassic Park” franchise

Tomorrow, audiences across the globe are going to be treated to the latest “Jurassic” film when Jurassic World hits theaters. No longer under embargo, I’m allowed to say that it’s pretty enjoyable, if really rather ridiculous. The movie isn’t the best of the franchise, but it’s nowhere near the worst either, so it makes for a perfect opportunity to rank the films in the series to date. I’ll also include a few extra thoughts below on Jurassic World (basically a mini review), since I had to keep it vague earlier this week, but I’ll be talking about all four films in the franchise, from Jurassic Park to third sequel/reboot Jurassic World. I hope you all enjoy!
As promised, first an initial take on Jurassic World, just to start painting a picture for everyone. Again…it’s ridiculous. In short, it’s like eating a bowl of ice cream for breakfast. What do I mean by that? It’s got no nutritional value and it’s not something you want to think much about later in the day, but in the moment it’s delicious. Essentially, it’s just another popcorn film, but an enjoyable one, so there’s that. Chris Pratt is solid, Bryce Dallas Howard has a few nice moments, and Jake Johnson is quality comic relief, but the dinosaurs are the main event. Co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow wisely apes Steven Spielberg in holding back on the mayhem, but he does seek to replicate the spectacle, this time with a functioning park. The results don’t always work, including the imposing Indominus Rex being a bit ridiculous, but for popcorn entertainment, this certainly does the trick. You could definitely do a lot worse this weekend…
Without further delay, here now is how I would rank the films in this franchise:
1. Jurassic Park – An all time great summer blockbuster, Spielberg made something instantly iconic here. A liberal adaptation of the Michael Crichton bestseller, this thrill ride upped the game not just for special effects work, but also effects driven storytelling. It holds up brilliantly still today, making it not just the clear best installment of this franchise, but one of the best action adventure tales of all time. An instant classic then, it remains one to this day. As such, it’s far and a way the tops of this series. The first is still very much the best in this particular case.
2. Jurassic World – As mentioned above, this isn’t […]

“Jurassic World” arrives to restart a classic franchise

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t consider Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park to be an overt classic. You can find people who don’t care much for either of the sequels, but the first one is almost undisputedly one of the best blockbusters ever. Now, I can’t actually say much about this new one, as I’m under embargo until tomorrow, but later on this week I’ll be ranking all four films in the franchise (the other two being The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III), so they’ll all get mini reviews, essentially. Right now though, I want to look at what Jurassic World brings to the table as the re-birth of the franchise, as well as a hotly anticipated summer title. The movie will have a big audience, no doubt about that…
You’d have to be living under a rock to not know what this series of films is about, especially since it’s right there in the title, though this one really only asks you to have seen the first one. Almost two decades later, the park filled with living dinosaurs is now open, with tourists galore filling it daily. In an effort to boost attendance, a new genetically modified dinosaur is created, one that’s a mixture of all sorts of gnarly things, which obviously is a bad idea. Before long, it has escaped containment and begins to run amok, leading to the entire Jurassic World island being eventually under siege by previously extinct animals. Spielberg only produces here, as Colin Trevorrow is co-writing (with Derek Connelly, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver) and directing. The cast for this one is almost all fresh, with one exception (BD Wong), and is led by Chris Pratt. Also on hand is Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Johnson, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, and more. In place of the iconic John Williams and his music (though pieces of it can be heard), legend in the making Michael Giacchino is composing the score. In spirit, this wants to be more like Jurassic Park than either of the sequels, something that the promotional material has made abundantly clear.
The reason that this is such a high profile summer event film and not just another would be blockbuster is the love that folks have for the first outing. The two sequels serve their purpose, but they don’t compare to Jurassic Park. Obviously, […]

Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” gets a compelling Trailer

It’s been a pretty good week for Trailers, I must say that. We’ve already gotten looks at a number of potential Academy Award players, including Everest and The Walk, but now Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks throw their hat into the ring with Bridge of Spies. This dramatic Cold War thriller, which got a Poster just yesterday, is considered by many to be the Oscar frontrunner in a number of categories, including Best Picture. As such, this was looked at with much anticipation, to say the least. You’ll be able to see the Trailer below, but take it from me…this looks like a contender to reckon with folks.
The story here has an American attorney (Hanks) being recruited by the CIA during the height of the Cold War to help rescue a downed pilot detained in the Soviet Union, while also negotiating the swap of a Soviet prison held by the United States. Hanks leads the charge, with Alan Alda, Domenick Lombardozzi, Billy Magnussen, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, and Austin Stowell also in the cast. Spielberg obviously directs, with Matt Charman having written the script that was then polished up by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (yes, the Coen Brothers along with Hanks and Spielberg). Janusz Kaminski is the cinematographer here and Thomas Newman composes the score, making for a truly A-list crop of talent involved in this one.
From the Trailer, it appears that Spielberg is working well within his comfort zone, albeit with a superb master’s touch. Hanks looks great, while the thriller nature of it will surely be a box office draw. They may not be reinventing the wheel here, but it appears to be smart adult cinema that will more than satisfy in the fall. There’s no doubt that this is poised to be something pitched directly at members of the Academy. You can’t possibly know if voters will respond just yet, but there’s no reason to amend any predictions after this first look. Everything suggests an Oscar contender from the word go.
Awards wise, the possibilities are basically limitless here. Best Picture obviously comes to mind, including pseudo frontrunner status, but that’s not all. There’s also Best Director (for Spielberg), Best Actor (for Hanks) Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress (for Ryan), Best Supporting Actor (for Alda, Magnussen, or Rylance), Best Original Screenplay (for Charman and the Coens), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, […]

Oscar Predictions for the month of May, 2015

Almost five full months into the 2015 movie season and I’m happy to report that we know zilch about the Oscar race. Why happy? Well, it means there’s plenty of fun guesswork to be done, and I’m all about that. The Cannes Film Festival has gotten underway and that can be used for a hint or two, but right now, it’s only eliminated one film (The Sea of Trees, which seems to be out of it entirely, outside of perhaps Matthew McConaughey) and made another a question mark (Woody Allen’s Irrational Man), with some other contenders like Carol still to screen. As such, your guess is as good as mine, which is part of the early year fun, at least in my book.
The one thing of note that I want to make mention of for this latest Oscar prediction update is that I expanded the fields a bit. The Best Picture lineup I’ve bumped up to 30, actually, with 15 for the other seven remaining categories that make up the “Big Eight”. As a bonus, I even went with ten for Best Animated Feature, just to have things as open as possible, which is what things are like right now, no question about it. My winners are still largely the same, including Steven Spielberg and his film Bridge of Spies, while something like Brooklyn or Carol is making its way up my rankings, slowly but surely. It’ll be a few months still until we have some semblance of an idea about the Oscar race, but right now, it’s a ton of fun to speculate…

Here now are my newest set of Academy Award predictions:
BEST PICTURE
1. Bridge of Spies
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Carol
4. The Light Between Oceans
5. Joy
6. The Martian
7. The Hateful Eight
8. Steve Jobs
9. The Revenant
10. Brooklyn
Next in line: 11. The End of the Tour 12. Ricki and the Flash 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Lion 15. MacBeth 16. Black Mass 17. By the Sea 18. Demolition 19. Freehold 20. Trainwreck 21. The Danish Girl 22. The Walk 23. Southpaw 24. In the Heart of the Sea 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens 26. Bleed for This 27. Sicario 28. Irrational Man 29. Suffragette 30. Ex Machina
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Todd Haynes – Carol
5. Derek Cianfrance – The […]

The Ten Best Action Movies of the New Millennium

Who doesn’t love a good action movie? They’re among the most fun that Hollywood has to offer, particularly when they’re of a high quality. Later on this week, a reportedly amazing new one in Mad Max: Fury Road is hitting theaters, so to prep us all for that experience (I see it later on today, so yay for that), I wanted to do a countdown of the recent best that the genre has to offer. Essentially, every action flick since 2000 was eligible, and I whittled that down to a top ten list. It’s hardly the definitely “new millennium action movie” list, but I think it’s a pretty solid one, to say the least. You’ll be able to see the list below, which could very well be amended once Mad Max: Fury Road comes to town…
Here now are my picks for the ten best action films since the year 2000:
10. King Kong – Peter Jackson’s unneeded remake of the classic action adventure turned out to be my favorite version of the story, go figure. The special effects are extraordinary and watching Kong interact with the world through Andy Serkis was a real joy. I may be in the minority here, but I absolutely loved it. It manages to stand alongside the all time classic original.
9. Kick-Ass – It hasn’t quite held up as well as the initial viewing suggested, but Matthew Vaughn’s deconstruction of the superhero origin story is a ridiculous amount of fun. The main pleasures are watching Nicolas Cage not play Batman, along with Chloe Grace Moretz giving a nomination worthy supporting turn as Hit-Girl. That initial magic wasn’t captured by the sequel, but that takes nothing away from this one.
8. Looper – Not only is this a great action flick, it’s also the best film of Rian Johnson’s career so far and a amazing time travel tale as well. It’s nearly perfect, offering up one of the best performances to date from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as Bruce Willis. A modern classic, it basically demands that you honor it for its inventiveness and effectiveness.
7. Black Hawk Down – I’d have put this higher if not for the fact that it’s less fun due to the tragic real life story that inspired it. Still, this is one of Ridley Scott’s best and the most effective war movie since Saving Private Ryan. It’s so visceral and well made, […]

Ridley Scott and “The Martian”: Early Oscar Predictions for April

After taking the month of March off in terms of Oscar predictions, I’m back taking a new look at what the Academy could do with this upcoming year in film. Again, it’s super early and probably silly to be focusing in on them like I am currently, but it’s also fun and gives us an idea of what movies to potentially look forward to. I’m keeping it mostly short and sweet today, just basically posting an update to the predictions (with a slight detour to discuss one contender), plus the next in line list that I know is popular as well. All of this can and likely will change in the near future, possibly even in the summer when things first begin to shape up, so stay tuned on that front. For now, enjoy these Academy Award predictions and cross your fingers that we have a good year for prestige films. I know that’s always my hope, so it should be yours as well.
Quickly though, before the predictions, let me just say that my big X factor that I’m looking forward to is Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian. He hasn’t had an outright success in some time, but I love the source material so much, I’m hopeful that it sparked something inside him. Honestly, he’d have to go out of his way to ruin as good a novel as that one. Matt Damon will have a baity role and Scott should be plenty engaged, so my fingers are crossed!
Here now is my second crack at early Academy Award predictions…
BEST PICTURE
1. Bridge of Spies
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Joy
4. The Hateful Eight
5. The Martian
6. Carol
7. The Light Between Oceans
8. Steve Jobs
9. The Revenant
10. The End of the Tour
Next in line: 11. The Sea of Trees 12. Irrational Man 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Black Mass 15. Demolition 16. Trainwreck 17. The Walk 18. Freeheld 19. Southpaw 20. Brooklyn 21. By the Sea 22. MacBeth 23. Bleed for This 24. Snowden 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
5. Derek Cianfrance – The Light Between Oceans
Next in line: 6. Todd Haynes – Carol 7. Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant 8. Ridley Scott – The Martian 9. Woody Allen – Irrational Man 10. […]

Year in advance Oscar Predictions

I know this seems nuts, but here I am with some Academy Award predictions for next season. We’re a long way out, yes…but for me, this is the absolute most fun time of the year, in terms of forming predictions. Why? Simply put, it’s because anything is possible. If you want to see how an odd nominee would look, you need only predict it. Right now, we’re just as likely to see Steven Spielberg’s latest St. James Place take Best Picture as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s kind of a brilliant thing, really. Even so, I’ve tried to be as logical as possible here, foregoing a number of quirkier picks in favor of the contenders I really feel good about, even if it really is only February still.
Which films are in contention? You’ll be able to see below, but the biggest contender right now seem to be the aforementioned St. James Place from Spielberg, David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis, David O. Russell’s Joy, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant, and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Acting wise, all of those movies have contenders, while the big player right now seems to be Jake Gyllenhaal, who could score for either Demolition or Southpaw. An X factor to keep an eye on? Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which is based on an outstanding book and could either fall flat or be a huge player. Sit tight on that one…
Here now is my first set of Oscar predictions for awards season to come:
BEST PICTURE
1. St. James Place
2. Our Brand is Crisis
3. Joy
4. The Hateful Eight
5. The Revenant
6. Steve Jobs
7. Demolition
8. The Martian
9. The Sea of Trees
10. The End of the Tour
Next in line: 11. Carol 12. Irrational Man 13. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 14. Black Mass 15. Snowden 16. Money Monster 17. The Walk 18. Freeheld 19. Southpaw 20. Brooklyn 21. By the Sea 22. MacBeth 23. Bleed for This 24. Aloha 25. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Steven Spielberg – St. James Place
2. David Gordon Green – Our Brand is Crisis
3. David O. Russell – Joy
4. Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant
5. Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Next in line: 6. Danny Boyle – Steve Jobs 7. Gus Van Sant – The Sea of Trees 8. Ridley Scott – The Martian 9. Woody Allen – Irrational Man 10. Jean Marc Vallee – Demolition
BEST […]

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