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        

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A Mid-November Oscar Predictions Update

I’m going to keep it short and sweet today folks, or at least a bit shorter than usual in terms of set up. You all know by now that it’s time for my middle of the month Oscar predictions update piece. Sometimes, there’s only a tinker or two to be done, but today…today I have a seismic shift to include, namely in the arrival of Selma on the scene. It’s gone from being shut out (what was I thinking?) to contending for wins in multiple major categories. In fact, more than one of the big eight categories have new winners listed, so this is a definite change in thinking. Some of it might be short lived, but that’s what the upcoming new set of predictions next month is for, right? I’ve also added the three short form categories (Animated Short, Documentary Short, and Live Action Short), though I know that’s not quite as big a selling point. Still, they’re there now, so don’t ignore them.
Anyway, let’s get down to business, shall we? Without further delay, here is how I see the Academy Award nominations going at this current juncture, with once again my next in line picks listed for completion. Behold:
1. Boyhood
2. Selma
3. The Imitation Game
4. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Interstellar
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Gone Girl
8. Whiplash
9. Foxcatcher
10. Unbroken
Next in line: 11. A Most Violent Year 12. Rosewater 13. Into the Woods 14. Fury 15. American Sniper 16. Inherent Vice 17. Mr. Turner 18. Wild 19. Nightcrawler 20. Still Alice
1. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
2. Ava DuVernay – Selma
3. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
4. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
5. Christopher Nolan – Interstellar
Next in line: 6. David Fincher – Gone Girl 7. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash 8. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher 9. Angelina Jolie – Unbroken 10. James Marsh – The Theory of Everything
1. David Oyelowo – Selma
2. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
4. Michael Keaton – Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
5. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Next in line: 6. Jack O’Connell – Unbroken 7. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler 8. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper 9. Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar 10. Kevin Costner – Black or White
1. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
2. Julianne Moore – Still Alice
3. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
4. Reese Witherspoon – Wild
5. […]

A November Oscar Predictions Update

The calendar has turned to November folks, so now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty of Oscar predictions. Precursor awards have begun to be given out, so expect the Academy Award picture to slowly begin to clear up. That doesn’t mean that from now on we suddenly know how the whole thing will go, but we’re closing in on the point where things should begin to make more sense. We can still guess to our heart’s content, but certain long shots just won’t happen and certain likelihoods are even more likely now. That’s just the name of the game. By nomination morning I should have things pretty accurate, but for now, it’s still a matter of fine tuning. This is just the first phase of the game too, keep that in mind. Once the nominations are announced, the whole situation changes and it becomes all about figuring out winners. Nominees are one thing…winners are a whole other.
For this particular update, I tried to decide if there were any surprises to consider. For one thing, I backed away from American Sniper quite a bit. On the flip side, I’ve gotten pretty bold with Interstellar, including Christopher Nolan’s first Best Director nomination. I also am sticking with my next in line bonus little thing in each category, since it give you all a further look at what I’m thinking as the weeks progress. Knowing the top ten in a given category (double that in Best Picture, obviously) can help assess the whole situation, so I think it’s a help overall.
In terms of my winners, I just want to say once again 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 well. As such, you’ll see a new winner or two throughout the big eight categories, but mostly the status quo from last time around. 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 my friends. 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 […]

“Gone Girl”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Gillian Flynn
Main Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, and more…
Past Oscar relations: Affleck is a two time Oscar winner (co-writing Good Will Hunting and co-producing his Best Picture winner Argo), while Fincher is a two time Best Director nominee, having been cited for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network
Today we have another article in this ongoing series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is a major player in Gone Girl, which hopes to be the latest high profile book adaptation to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it after a raucous debut at the New York Film Festival? Let’s discuss that possibility a little bit below now…
This thriller is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay. The one and only David Fincher is in the director’s chair, while the cast is led by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, with Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Emily Ratajkowski, Sela Ward, and more in supporting roles. With a very positive NYFF reception last week (I was there and can tell you for a fact that it played like gangbusters), the folks behind Gone Girl have to be feeling pretty good about its chances in the Oscar race.
What this flick has going in its favor is how amazingly well made it is as well as how strong the performances are on top of the directing and writing. David Fincher and Gillian Flynn make a good team, with Fincher’s unmatched technical proficiency and eye for perfection matched up with Flynn’s twisty and page turning idea. You really can’t wait to see what happens next. Rosamund Pike does awards worthy work here, while Ben Affleck deserves a nomination in a career best turn. Affleck and Pike are best in show, but both Carrie Coon and Tyler Perry steal their scenes in supporting roles as well. Affleck, Fincher, Flynn, and Pike should see their work heavily in play for awards love, on top of the film itself, not to mention the technical aspects. Look for cinematographer Jeff Cronenwweth, editor Kirk Baxter, plus composers Trent Reznor and Atticus […]

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 […]

Audiences are flocking to ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ at the Box Office

Happy Sunday everyone (my birthday weekend, if you haven’t heard too), here’s the weekly box office report for you fine ladies and gentlemen! Leading the way in a somewhat close race on this kind of quiet weekend was the holdover Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which rose from number two to number one with an estimated $12.2 million, taking advantage of a lack of particularly enticing new releases at the multiplex. At number two we had last week’s top grosser 300: Rise of an Empire, which hauled in an estimated $19.1 million this time around. Number three was the new release Need for Speed, which stole $17.8 million from paying customers, while Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club was number five with $8.3 million, and we also had one other new release in the top ten, which was Veronica Mars, transitioning from Kickstarter to theaters with about $2 million. I’ll have something to say about the great expansion for The Grand Budapest Hotel in a moment, but among the limited release openings, there was a nice mix. The best of the bunch was Bad Words, but also taking in a few bucks we had indies like Enemy and Le Week-End, though neither were hits.
I didn’t care one bit for Need for Speed, as it’s lacking even for video game adaptations, but it was notable that it didn’t do better. You’d think that with the popularity of the Fast and Furious franchise that this would have been like printing money, but no. It also likely won’t have legs either, which could make this a bit of a failure in the end. This weekend also saw audiences begin to send a message to Tyler Perry that he needs to try a little harder, as Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club made a fraction of what Perry’s movies usually do. Finally, Veronica Mars was aimed just at hardcore fans and that’s who showed up, so I can’t really say it did anything other than what was expected.
Among the notable holdovers in theaters, we have to discuss Wes Anderson’s flick. The Grand Budapest Hotel. Still playing in well under 100 theaters, it cracked the top ten, hitting number eight with $3.6 million. The big number though is the per theater average of over $55,000. Any which way that you slice it, Anderson has another hit on his hands, so we’ll be talking plenty more about […]

“GI Joe: Retaliation” is once again the No. 1 film worldwide

“GI Joe: Retaliation is once again the No. 1 film worldwide with an estimated weekend of $61.3 million.
The worldwide cume now stands at $231.9 million. Also, The Croods passed the $200 million mark and Jack the Giant Slayer passed the $100 mark internationally this weekend.”
The top-12 domestic weekend box office estimates listed in descending order, per data collected as of Sunday, April 7, 2013 are below.
1. Evil Dead – Sony – $26.0M
2. GI Joe: Retaliation – Paramount – $21.1M
3. Croods, The – 20th Century Fox – $21.1M
4. Jurassic Park – Universal – $18.2M
5. Olympus Has Fallen – FilmDistrict – $10.0M
6. Tyler Perry’s Temptation – Lionsgate – $10.0M
7. Oz The Great and Powerful – Disney – $8.2M
8. Host, The – Open Road – $5.2M
9. Call, The – Sony – $3.5M
10. Admission – Focus Features – $2.1M
11. Spring Breakers – A24 Films – $1.2M
12. Identity Thief – Universal – $0.8M
Courtesy of Rentrak Corporation, the global leader in box office measurement.
For more information on Rentrak, please visit
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The Expendables 2 opened with about $28.75 million It’s no real surprise that The Expendables 2 (review) opened with about 18% less this weekend ($28.75 million) than the first Expendables on this weekend in 2010 ($34 million). The Expendables (review) was a culmination of a good twenty years of ‘what-if’ anticipation. And while the final result was a little lacking, in that it was barely a good movie and most of the biggest action icons were either absent or had cameos, it was still enough of a wish-fulfillment fantasy to be a massive worldwide hit ($274 million on a $80 million budget).
Two years later, the sequel delivers on both the action front (lots more of it) and the A-level casting arena (Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger have expanded roles while Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme came to play) but that initial high is somewhat gone. Still, a $28 million debut, especially from Lionsgate, is nothing to sneeze at. This will still be their largest non-Saw/Tyler Perry opening outside of The Expendables and The Hunger Games and their tenth-biggest debut ever. Not only have we seen a pattern of lower opening weekends and domestic totals for sequels, but this is easily the kind of property that could have elicited a giant ‘no one cares anymore’ reaction after the somewhat underwhelming first film (I seem to be among the few who likes it).
To read more go to
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The Avengers’ Smashes Records…$178 million the weekend before the official start of the summer season, four new releases, all of which were relatively smaller fare, all debuted to numbers ranging from not awful to genuinely awful (or example 4,321 on why comparing total weekend box office is stupid). The top film this weekend was once again Think Like A Man, which dropped a surprisingly decent 46%, earning another $18 million. The ensemble romantic comedy has now earned $60 million, putting it on track to be among the domestic bigger grossers of the first 1/3 of 2012.
If we’re specifically talking ‘black-films’, then the Tim Story picture is a few days from outgrossing every Tyler Perry movie save Madea Goes to Jail, which grossed $90 million three years ago (the second highest-grossing Perry film is the $63 million-grossing Madea’s Family Reunion). With a smaller drop and a larger second weekend off a $8 million-smaller opening weekend, it may pass that mark all the way to $100 million if it can hold onto screens as summer begins. It will soon surpass the $65 million gross of Barbershop 2, the $67 million gross of Waiting to Exhale, and the $75 million gross of Barbershop within the next full week. It’s also out-grosssed and/or will likely out-gross any number of higher-profile ‘white’ romantic comedies or dramas (the $81 million-grossing Dear John, the $84 million-grossing Stupid, Crazy Love, the $54 million-grossing New Year’s Eve, etc). Usually when a $12 million-budgeted film ends up flirting with $100 million, studios respond with sequels and/or star-vehicles for certain higher-profile cast-members. We’ll see if Hollywood again writes off this ‘unconventional’ smash hit as a ‘fluke’ or whether Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, and Meagan Good (among others) get any ‘bumps’ off this film’s unquestionable success.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memo

“The Hunger Games” stays strong and tops $350m Weekend Box Office It was an ‘everybody wins’ weekend at the box office as all three openers outperformed even the most optimistic expectations. The number one film of the weekend was not The Hunger Games but rather Think Like A Man. The all-star romantic comedy based off of Steve Harvey’s best-selling relationship self-help book grossed a somewhat surprising $33 million on just over 2000 screens. The Screen Gems film was notable in that the small studio made a real effort to market the African-American-centric rom-com both to black males and white audiences (Vulture has a detailed article about the marketing campaign). Racial demographics aren’t available yet, but the film played 63% female and 62% over 30. For what it’s worth, it earned an A from Cinemascore, including an A+ from audiences under 25. Even more impressive is that the film achieved a near-3x, including a token increase on Saturday (from $12 million to $13 million). The film has a ton of ‘would probably be a bigger star in a color-blind society’ actors, including Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Steve Harvey, and Taraji P. Henson. But the secret weapon may have been comedian Kevin Hart, who powered his stand-up concert film, Laugh At My Pain to $7 million last September despite playing on less than 300 screens. Pay no attention to this large opening folks, nothing to see about an under-served audience demographic delivering near-blockbuster numbers on a $13 million budget. Just move along and keep putting Anthony Mackie in fourth-billed supporting roles.
There will be lots of talk comparing this film to the Tyler Perry cannon, but know this: If the estimates hold up, Tim Story’s decidely secular romantic comedy will have opened higher than every Perry feature save the $41 million debut of Madea Goes To Jail. In fact, aside from that Perry release, I can’t think of another African-American comedy or drama that opened as high as this one perhaps ever. How well the film holds up over the long haul is an open question, and arguably *that’s* where the attempt at cross-racial outreach come into play. If Screen Gems can convince white audiences that this isn’t so much a ‘black film’ as much as it’s a Valentine’s Day-type ensemble piece that happens to star actors of color, it may have strong legs as its sampled by general […]

Whitney Houston’s daughter reportedly starring in Tyler Perry sitcom Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, is moving forward with her life as she has reportedly landed a starring role in a Tyler Perry sitcom.
Bobbi Kristina will reportedly have a recurring role on his TBS show ‘For Better Or Worse,’ states She will reportedly be playing the daughter of one of the stylists at the salon on the show.
This will be Bobbi Kristina’s first major role.
Do you think she’s handling all this well?
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