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: The Muppets

“Ted 2″: Ranking the top comedy sequels of all time

One of the hardest things to get right in Hollywood seems to be a sequel to a hit comedy. For one reason or another, most comedy sequels tend to fall flat. As such, it’s all the more notable when one succeeds, as it’s rather rare. This week though, we have a success story in Ted 2, which manages to be nearly as good as the first one. That’s not the highest praise possible, but for a category like this, it qualifies you. Below you’ll see my ranking of the best comedy sequels of all time. I figured it would be fun, so I hope you enjoy!
Here now is how I would rank the ten best comedy sequels to date:
10. Ted 2 – The newest addition to this list is hardly an amazing film, but it’s a very funny one and happens to be barely a step down from the first one, mostly due to the original being so fresh. As such, Seth MacFarlane’s creation is assured a spot on this list. His CGI bear’s interactions with Mark Wahlberg continue to be a lot of raunchy fun, plain and simple.
9. Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell Of Fear – I’ll confess to not being as high on this cop spoof franchise as most, but this is the best sequel of their lot. Granted, they’re all pretty funny, but this comes the closest to the original, at least in my eyes. If nothing else, watching Leslie Nielsen in this role is sure to elicit some chuckles out of you.
8. Shrek 2 – Believe it or not, I might actually think that this is funnier than the first Shrek. Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy as sparring partners in this animated take down of fairy tales and happily ever after are an absolute delight, just as much as in the original installment. Things went downhill from here, but this first sequel was quite good.
7. This is 40 – More a dramedy than a comedy, this is still more than acceptable for this list. Judd Apatow revisited the lives of Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd’s supporting characters from Knocked Up, putting them center stage and going to town on subjects ranging from marriage to middle age. It traffics a lot in discomfort and awkward humor, but in many ways it’s Apatow’s most mature effort to date. I’m a fan of it, as you’d imagine.
6. Austin […]

Spotlight on the Stars: Jason Segel

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a clear comedic A-lister, though for some the heights of his success might come as a bit of a surprise. It’s comedy leading man Jason Segel, a writer as well as an actor who has managed to consistently do amusing work both on the big and small screens. He’s appealed to the CBS crowd on How I Met Your Mother, the raunchy movie crowd with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up, and more, along with also showing he can be kid friendly with The Muppets. He’s had hits everywhere, so he’s certainly an A-lister in my book.
Segel is one of the more successful alumni from the Judd Apatow group of actors/writers/directors that took over Hollywood after getting their starts on television with Freaks and Geeks as well as Undeclared. He became a star with the combination of a juicy supporting part in Knocked Up, which led to him getting his own leading role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, along with the break out hit that was How I Met Your Mother on TV. From then on, he’s gotten to be in studio comedies like Bad Teacher and I Love You, Man, while also having the opportunity to resurrect The Muppets in his own vision, which both honored the original and brought them into the present day.
I’m not sure how many people really are aware of his writing talent, but I’d argue that he probably should have an Academy Award nomination by now. His script for the now classic Forgetting Sarah Marshall is nearly perfect. Factor in terrific work on The Muppets as well as The Five Year Engagement and it’s clear that he’s a multitalented guy, to say the least.
This weekend, Segel again co-writes and stars in a raunchy comedy…this time the movie Sex Tape. While it’s not on the level of Forgetting Sarah Marshall or The Five Year Engagement, he’s still capable of mining laughter from uncomfortable situations, as well as shamelessly using his body for humor. Sex Tape continues his evolution into an A lister on the comedy circuit. Perhaps one day he’ll make the full pivot to drama like Jim Carrey before him, but for now he’s content to rule with laughter, with the exception of his upcoming film The End of the Tour, where he plays the late author David Foster Wallace. Perhaps that’ll be the […]

No one at the box office this weekend seemed to be a ‘Nymphomaniac’

Happy Sunday once again everyone, here I am with the weekly box office report for you fine folks out there. Leading the way in a pretty significant landslide this weekend was the presumed franchise starter Divergent, which debuted with a very strong $50 million at the box office. At number two we had the relatively weak debut of the family sequel Muppets Most Wanted, which could only pull in $16.5 million. Number three was last week’s number one Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which took in another $11.7 million from you all. The other new release in the top ten was the religious film God is Dead, which came out of nowhere to amass an $8.5 million cume. Among the independent/limited releases, we had okay debuts for the comedy Cheap Thrills and the documentary Jordorowsky’s Dune, while the anticipated theatrical release of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Part One was rather underwhelming. Apparently audiences wanted to watch that particular film at home on VOD as opposed to in a theater with strangers. Make of that what you will…
I’m fairly surprised that Muppets Most Wanted and Nymphomaniac Part One didn’t do better, while Divergent did about what I expected and God is Dead came out of nowhere (it wasn’t screened for critics, so I wasn’t invited to a screening and I don’t make a habit of seeking out these sort of flicks). Among the titles that opened well, the former basically assures that the next two books in the series will be coming to theaters near you, while the latter potentially could lead to a bigger opening for Noah next week, though folks looking for a similar experience there will be in for a surprise. In regard to the two that underwhelmed, the former ran into some resistance due to a few other kid-centric titles being out as well, so it wasn’t a must see movie. As for the latter, it was never going to be a crossover success, but I’m sure it had hopes of being an art house smash, and that clearly isn’t the case. Maybe Part Two will somehow do better in a few weeks?
Among the notable holdovers in theaters, we again have to discuss Wes Anderson’s movie for sure. The Grand Budapest Hotel expanded to about 300 theaters and moved up to number seven this week with $6.7 million. That’s some strong continued success there. Also worth mentioning besides […]

Oscars®: Muppets Most Wanted – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller
Main Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey make up the main human actors, with various others voicing the Muppet cast members, plus cameos from tons of others in Hollywood
Past Oscar relations: The Muppets won Best Original Song (the song Man or Muppet was written by Bret McKenzie, who again is writing the songs here for Muppets Most Wanted)
Here is the next article in this new series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention. Next (and second) up is James Bobin’s Muppets Most Wanted, which looks to capitalize on the prior films Oscar success (it won Best Original Song). The film is a sequel to the Oscar winning The Muppets, though this one is far more co-writer/director Bobin’s baby than last time, when he just directed and the vision was very much Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s (though Stoller still co-writes here). The spirit of the Muppets is still here though, as the gang goes on tour and has an international adventure that fits in very well with their past. Now, it’s going to hope that it can survive in our hearts and minds throughout the season and attempt to become another Oscar nominated Muppets movie.
What this flick has going in its favor is that it’s basically tailor made to receive a Best Original Song nomination. Many of the films in the franchise have showed up in that category, and this time around there are a number of catchy enough tunes to make it a very safe bet. The characters themselves are also just so charismatic and likable that you can’t help wanting to see more of them (remember the pseudo campaign to get them to host the Academy Awards telecast? I do), which is why whenever a new film of theirs comes out we talk about it as a potential dark horse contender for some bigger awards. I’m not sure about all of that this time around, but a Song citation seems likely to me.
Working against Muppets Most Wanted is that the movie is very slight and not anywhere near on the level of the last one (or the previous ones from years past). The movie is fun, but it feels like a sequel that mainly exists because the last one was successful, though cleverly they do comment on that very thing. Still, looking at this as any […]

Oscars: Muppets, Cirque du Soleil confirmed for the Academy Awards – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Some would argue that the annual Oscar telecast is a real circus. This year, it will be more like Cirque du Soleil.
Oscar telecast producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced in a press release Friday morning that Cirque du Soleil will present a “wholly unique and exclusive” performance during the 84th Academy Awards, which will be televised on Sunday, Feb. 26, on ABC.
The producers claim that this one-time-only event will “feature the largest Cirque cast ever assembled for a single act,” and will be accompanied by music by Academy Award-nominated composer Danny Elfman, who scored the music for Cirque du Soleil’s “IRIS, A Journey through the World of Cinema.”
The act marks the second time Cirque du Soleil has performed during an Academy Awards telecast. The troupe’s first appearance, at the 74th Academy Awards, sparked discussions about creating a permanent show at the Kodak Theatre and resulted in the creation of “IRIS.”
In addition, Muppets fans disappointed that their viral campaign to get the puppets as Oscar hosts will be happy to hear that Kermit, Miss Piggy and possibly more Muppets at least will present at this year’s ceremony.
According to another press release, “Hollywood icons Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy will present at the 84th Academy Awards … Their place in motion picture and television history has been cemented for decades, as evidenced by their well-deserved invitation to be presenters at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.”
You’ll no doubt be tuning in. Whom else are you excited about seeing?
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Photo courtesy of

Miss Piggy Photos: Hollywood Hot Star of the Week Our selected “Hollywood Hot Star of the Week” is international star, role model and diva – the fabulous Miss Piggy. Enjoy the photo gallery:

“Miss Piggy needs no introduction; star of film, TV and the upcoming Disney movie ‘The Muppets’ released nationwide on February 10th, she has been a pop culture icon known for her wit, charm and for having a certain frog on her arm.”
Photos by PRPhotos

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Oscars: The Academy won’t perform “Muppets” and “Rio” songs at the Oscars – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell It doesn’t matter if you are a Muppet or a man. The Academy still doesn’t want to hear your song on Oscar night.
The Academy has decided not to perform the Oscar-nominated songs from “Rio” and “The Muppets” at this year’s Academy Awards, according to Deadline. It’s the latest change to the awards format in an effort to shake up a telecast that has grown decidedly stale in the past few years.
“It seems like a huge missed opportunity to me, and we certainly tried,” one song insider told the site, while another added, “It doesn’t make sense. They could have so much fun with Muppets and Rio staging.”
The site adds that the show is not locked yet, and the producers could change their mind, but why? The show’s too long as it is. Keep cutting. Get rid of most of the categories. Hand out the top eight categories, and shift the rest to a separate ceremony.
When it comes to the Oscars lately, people want less. The ceremony needs to be streamlined, and if it means Randy Newman doesn’t get to sing “Muppet or a Man,” I’m OK with that.
What about you?
Awards Alley brings you the best Oscar coverage. Click below to read our exclusive interviews with:
– Harvey Weinstein
– The cast of “The Artist.”
– Kenneth Branagh for “My Week With Marilyn.”
– Bennett Miller talks “Moneyball.”
– Producer Jim Burke for “The Descendants.”
– Sir Ben Kingsley and Chloe Grace Moretz for “Hugo.”
– Tilda Swinton for “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”
– David Fincher, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
– Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for “The Help.”
– Tate Taylor for “The Help.”
– Woody Harrelson for “Rampart.”
– Gavin O’Connor for “Warrior.”
– Gary Oldman and Colin Firth for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
– Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody for “Young Adult.”
– Steve McQueen for “Shame.”
– Glenn Close for “Albert Nobbs.”
– Seth Rogen and Will Reiser for “50/50.”
– Producer Grant Heslov for “The Ides of March.”
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Oscars: Bret McKenzie talks “Muppets,” music and the magic of Jim Henson – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell “The Muppets” soundtrack rarely leaves the CD player in our house. My boys, ages 7 and 3, adore the movie’s catchy tunes, from the opening number of “Life’s a Happy Song” to the sentimental “Man or Muppet.” My youngest repeats Fozzie’s line “I didn’t do it, I’ve been framed” ad nauseam, which is cute, until it drives you a little crazy.
For that, I must blame Bret McKenzie, one half of the famed “Flight of the Conchords” duo who served as Music Supervisor on James Bobin’s winning Muppet reboot. McKenzie penned a number of the movie’s signature songs, from “Me Party” –a self-righteous duet between Amy Adams and Miss Piggy – to the Chris Copper rap “Let’s Talk About Me.”
Now McKenzie’s catchy tunes are catching the eye of year-end award voters. The Broadcast Film Critics Association filled three of its five Best Song nominations with “Muppets” tracks. The Satellite Awards also recognized “Man or Muppet” and the cheery “Life’s a Happy Song.”
Will the Academy follow their lead? It’s one of the topics McKenzie and I discussed during a recent interview: The original “Muppets” television program balanced a fine line between adult and adolescent humor. When writing the songs for “Muppets,” were you thinking of kids or their parents?
Bret McKenzie: Yeah, no, I totally agree. I watched a lot of the original films and TV shows, and I was really amazed at how funny they are, how they completely hold up. I think that was part of Jim Henson’s secret. He made children’s entertainment that was also funny for adults. He didn’t second guess or patronize children. And I think we took that approach to the film. We wanted to make a film that we’d like to watch, and I think kids like to watch it as well.
In that sense, the songs in the film will appeal to adults. All we had to do was make sure that the songs stayed clean. I was tempted to have some “motherfrogger” lines in there. Well, you know, I’m glad you didn’t. The film is such a throwback to a time of wholesome family entertainment, and I don’t think that kind of walk-the-line humor of “Shrek” wouldn’t fit with “The Muppets.”
Oh yeah, I totally agree. The songs are technically proficient and yet surprisingly simple. The yare effervescent. Did they come easily to you?
“Life’s a Happy […]

Oscars: 39 Original Songs Vie For Oscar’s 2011 Playlist Thirty-nine songs from eligible feature-length motion pictures are in contention for nominations in the Original Song category for the 84th Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.
The original songs, along with the motion picture in which each song is featured, are listed below in alphabetical order by film and song title:
“The World I Knew” from “African Cats”
“Lay Your Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs”
“Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger”
“Collision of Worlds” from “Cars 2″
“Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu” from “DAM999″
“DAM999 Theme Song” from “DAM999″
“Mujhe Chod Ke” from “DAM999″
“Rainbird” from “Dirty Girl”
“Keep On Walking” from “The First Grader”
“Where the River Goes” from “Footloose”
“Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
“Love Builds a Garden” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
“Bridge of Light” from “Happy Feet Two”
“The Mighty Sven” from “Happy Feet Two”
“Never Be Daunted” from “happythankyoumoreplease”
“Hell and Back” from “Hell and Back Again”
“The Living Proof” from “The Help”
“Coeur Volant” from “Hugo”
“It’s How We Play” from “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
“When the Heart Dies” from “In the Land of Blood and Honey”
“Ja Nao Estar” from “José and Pilar”
“The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher”
“Life’s a Happy Song” from “The Muppets”
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
“Pictures in My Head” from “The Muppets”
“Summer Song” from “The Music Never Stopped”
“Imaginary Friends” from “Olive”
“Sparkling Day” from “One Day”
“Taking You with Me” from “Our Idiot Brother”
“The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” from “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”
“Hot Wings” from “Rio”
“Let Me Take You to Rio” from “Rio”
“Real in Rio” from “Rio”
“Shelter” from “Take Shelter”
“Gathering Stories” from “We Bought a Zoo”
“Pop” from “White Irish Drinkers”
“Think You Can Wait” from “Win Win”
“The Backson Song” from “Winnie the Pooh”
“So Long” from “Winnie the Pooh”
On Thursday, January 5, the Academy will screen clips featuring each song, in random order, for voting members of the Music Branch in Los Angeles. Following the screenings, members will determine the nominees by an averaged point system of voting. If no song receives an average score of 8.25 or more, there will be no nominees in the category. If only one song achieves that score, it and the song receiving the next highest score shall be the two nominees. If two or more songs (up to five) achieve that score, they shall be the nominees. A DVD copy of the song clips will be made available to those branch members who are unable to attend the […]

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Young Adult open huge in limited release

By Scott Mendelson In what one might call ‘the calm before the storm’, two middling wide releases debuted to relatively middling numbers. Next week sees a flurry of major wide releases over the last two weeks of the year, so this frame was a bit of a breather. The top film was New Year’s Eve, which debuted with $13.8 million. That’s one of the weakest #1 debuts of the year, and about $1 million less than Valentine’s Day grossed on its first day back in February 2010. That film scored the record for a romantic comedy debut with $56 million over Fri-Sun. Of course, that film had romantic comedy heavyweights like Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, and Jennifer Garner. This film had a slightly lower-wattage cast, with only Katherine Heigl and Zac Efron qualifying as box office draws. The newbies this time around (Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Hillary Swank, Jon Bon Jovi, Halle Berry, Lea Michele, etc) are names, but not actual ‘bring them to the theater’ movie stars.
Oddly enough, the film opened significantly lower than what Heigl, Efron, and Ashton Kutcher (who was also the lead in Valentine’s Day) bring in on their own (Jessica Biel was also in both, but she’s never been a draw). Which leads one to believe that this was a problem of ‘fool me once, shame on you’. Valentine’s Day was not very popular in the long run, earning $110 million after scoring $63 million in its four-day opening (that’s Green Lantern/Watchmen/Twilight Saga ‘legs’). The first film was somewhat of a novelty, a Love Actually with Americans and a massively star-packed romantic comedy about Valentine’s Day that opened over Valentine’s Day weekend. This just looked like a cash-in, which is what it probably was. The original cost $52 million while this sequel/spin-off/etc cost $56 million. Warner is going to have to hope for some holiday legs on this one, but as the only romantic comedy in the marketplace it may have some luck with that.
The only other wide release was David Gordon Green’s The Sitter. The Jonah Hill comedy, which was sold as an R-rated and more ‘extreme’ version of Adventures In Babysitting, debuted with just $10 million. This was the first real test of Jonah Hill’s ‘by himself’ star power, and as such it’s […]

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