September 03, 2015

Tag Archives: Woody Allen

“Irrational Man” and back: Ranking the films of Woody Allen

I know I’m one of the few, but in my humble opinion Woody Allen has yet to make an overtly bad film. His best are all time classics, but even his worst are still very much watchable movies that have pleasures to be found within them. On the occasion of the release of his latest outing Irrational Man, I wanted to run down all of Allen’s solo directorial endeavors and rank them. I’ll also be writing a bit about Irrational Man first, but below you’ll find a list of all 45 of his works to date. In the interest of not making this the longest piece in existence, I’m only going to be writing about the top ten, but the list will go down the line of everything he’s made (with the exception of what he didn’t direct, didn’t completely direct, or made for TV). A number of my picks will be fairly obvious choices, but there’s at least one or two selections in the top ten that are somewhat controversial picks. Enjoy…
First, as promised, a bit on Irrational Man. It’s mid-level Woody, which is to say that it’s far from his best but in no way his worst either. Essentially, it’s an above average moral drama, with strong turns from Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, and Emma Stone. Allen is meditating on philosophy, justice, as well as life and death, which are nothing new for him. It’s done in a slightly different way than normal, almost as a counterpoint to her other darker outings. It can be a bit on the slow side, but Irrational Man, which is out today, is well worth seeing, so be sure not to miss out if you’re a fan of the legendary filmmaker.

Now, take a look at how I’d rank the films of Allen:
1. Annie Hall – An all time classic dramedy, as well as one of my favorite films of all time, this is Woody Allen’s Best Picture winner and his almost undisputed masterpiece. Diane Keaton gives an all time performance, rightly winning Best Actress, while Allen turns in his best performance as well, which was nominated in Best Actor. His Best Director win was justified as well (not to mention Best Original Screenplay), since this is a brilliant and perfect film. I love it with all of my heart. It’s tops for Allen.
2. Sleeper – Allen’s funniest film to date is a […]

Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man”: Ten Films to look forward to in July

Folks, we’re about to enter the second half of the year. Yes, that’s the month of July, which is only days away. Later this week I’ll run down the best of the first half, but right now I wanted to highlight what you should make a point to see over the next month. I’ve seen most of the titles that I’m highlighting below, which just means that I can personally vouch for July easily being the best month for film so far in 2015. Take it from me…you won’t want to miss these flicks. Part Two of 2015 is going to be getting off to quite the start, I can assure you of that much.
Here now are the ten films to anticipate most over the course of July:
10. The Look of Silence – I saw this documentary last year at the New York Film Festival and I’m with all of my colleagues in finding it to be disturbing and powerful. Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow up to The Act of Killing is just as good and makes for an essential double feature in the making. Look for this to contend in the Best Documentary Feature and perhaps also in the Best Foreign Language Feature category as well.
9. Southpaw – I see this boxing drama in just a few short days and expect Jake Gyllenhaal to again leave an impact with his performance. The early word is that he’s a highlight, which is no surprise. The story appears a bit on the generic side, but if Gyllenhaal is as good as he can be, he’ll be in contention for another Academy Award nomination with this sports flick.
8. Paper Towns – At this point, anything that writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber decide to do has my attention. As such, their second John Green adaptation is no exception. Starring up and comer Nat Wolff, it appears like a charming high school set romantic mystery. Green’s work seems to want to make you cry as well, so we’ll see if that’s a side effect here or not.
7. Ant-Man – One of Marvel’s riskier bets, reviews so far have been mostly solid for this superhero flick. I see it next week and hope to have it more in line with Guardians of the Galaxy than some of the other outings from the studio that began characters, such as Thor. I like all of Marvel’s […]

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 […]

Woody Allen: First Trailer for “Irrational Man” with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone

Each and every single year, we’re treated to a new Woody Allen movie. Moreover, basically every other year, Allen’s latest outing becomes an awards contender. With last year apparently being his off year with the enjoyable, if slight, Magic in the Moonlight, speculation is high that 2015 could see an Oscar player from the filmmaker. Well, the first Trailer for his new film Irrational Man has hit the web, and it shows off some solid acting and a unique take on a potentially tired plot. I’m not sure if the Academy will wind up noticing it when all is said and done, but I sure did.
Irrational Man is a romantic comedy about a burnt out Philosophy professor who arrives at a new school and winds up in an existential crisis when he becomes smitten/in a relationship with a student. Joaquin Phoenix plays the professor while Emma Stone plays the student. Also on hand in this potentially smaller than usual last for Allen (who of course writes and directs) is Jamie Blackley and Parker Posey, to name two. If the plot sounds like something you’ve seen before, you’re not alone. The catch here is that Allen has a very unique take on the world, so his interpretation of this situation has a ton of potential.
There’s two things in the Trailer that stick out at me. One is the chemistry apparent between Phoenix and Stone, as well as the potential for Posey to steal her scenes. The other is that it appears that Allen is utilizing dual voiceovers to get us into the headspace of both main characters. That could lead to some fascinating introspective commentary, though it also could wind up just being a gimmick. Right now though, I’m willing to look at it as a clever choice by the legendary filmmaker, one that gives this film something to potentially set it apart from the crowd. You’ll be able to see the Trailer below and decide for yourself, of course, but I liked what I saw.
Obviously, we don’t know if Irrational Man will be a player in the awards season or not, but if it does, my suspicion is that it would be on the back of Allen’s script and the performances of Phoenix, Posey, and Stone. One could potentially envision a campaign centered on Best Picture, Best Actor for Phoenix, Best Actress for Stone, best Supporting Actress for Posey, and […]

“Trainwreck”: Ten Original Summer Movies to look forward to

As you all know by now, the summer movie season is getting longer and longer each and every single year. At the same time, the films being released are getting less and less original as well. It’s not necessarily a knock on quality, but everything seems to be a prequel or a reboot or a sequel, leaving very little room for originality. Sure, there’s original takes on things, but original ideas themselves appear to be in short supply. As such, I wanted to highlight some of the 2015 summer releases that seem to buck this trend. There’s a handful of titles that aren’t based on existing material, and that’s delightful to me.
Below you’ll find a list of ten flicks hitting theaters between the beginning of May and the end of August that aren’t comic book adaptations or anything even close to that. I might do a separate list of films like that next week, as the summer movie season basically officially kicks off, but for now, I’m going with this list. They tend to be mainstream outings, though there’s one or two small indies thrown in there to mix it up, for good measure, of course. Take a gander and use this as a way to plan out a well round couple of months of going to the cinema…
In alphabetical order, here are ten original concept movies to look forward to this summer:
Aloha – As a huge Cameron Crowe fan, I’m certainly eager to see his latest romantic comedy that’s sure to have a great soundtrack. Bradley Cooper stars alongside Emma Stone, with Rachel McAdams and Bill Murray among the top notch supporting cast. Crowe hasn’t been the king of the rom-com in a while, so perhaps this will be his return to wide level acclaim? We’ll find out at the very end of May.
Digging for Fire – Indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg always makes original films, but they rare show up on summer movie lists. This year, however, he continues his trend of working with bigger actors on slightly more mainstream a scale. He’s finally being noticed, so another teaming with Jake Johnson could continue that upswing. I believe this one comes out in August.
Inside Out – Pixar goes back to their non-sequel roots with this look inside the mind of a young girl, particularly at her emotions and how they control/interact with her. It has a spot at the […]

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 […]

The first Fall stab at Golden Globe predictions

It’s that time again…time to take a stab at Golden Globe predictions. As I previously mentioned in my last installment, I was originally planning on waiting to take a new look at Golden Globe predictions until the summer was over (so basically now), but I just couldn’t resist. Fast forward to today and I’m back now with what’s my fourth look at the Golden Globe Awards, with this time around, another new theory to try and drum up some different/more accurate predictions. Anyway, here goes nothing!
To reiterate one more time, the biggest difference that you’ll see here between the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is that they tend to go for the bigger names or the bigger productions, as well as more European fare. So yes, films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher are here, but they’re now joined by things like James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything and Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, potentially at the expense of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. You also still potentially lose certain indie players here, as you’ll see evidenced by much smaller nomination totals (or even shutouts) for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, just as one example, though others could be movies like J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year. On the flip side though, the inclusion of comedies and musicals allows longer shot work like John Carney’s Begin Again, Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods, and maybe even Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight or Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here to have a shot at not just contention for nods, but actual noms, as well as wins. Nominations that would have been wishful thinking with the Academy and AMPAS are very much in play with the categories that the HFPA deals in. That’s just the nature of the beast here folks.
Here now though, without any further delays on my part (since we all know that you’re really here just to see what I have below), are a brand spanking new set of Golden Globe predictions:
Best Picture (Drama)
1. The Imitation Game
2. Gone Girl
3. Foxcatcher
4. The Theory of Everything
5. Unbroken
If there’s a sixth: Mr. Turner
Best Picture (Comedy or Musical)
1. Into the Woods
2. Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
3. Inherent Vice
4. St. Vincent
5. Begin Again
If there’s a sixth: Neighbors
Best Actor (Drama)
1. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne – The […]

Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar veterans hoping for another nomination this year

Each and every single awards season, there are tons of both newcomers and veterans to the Oscar game. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a bit of a look at those seeking their first nominations from the Academy, but today I’m going to be going ahead and listing some of the major players who’ve already been nominated before, and in some cases are already winners. It’s leading up to me re-ranking the contenders in the major categories next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which old hands to the Oscar ranch are saddling up for another ride on the awards season pony.
In the Best Actor race, the highest profile former nominee is Joaquin Phoenix, who will look for his first win this year with Inherent Vice. He represents the most likely non first time nominee who could win the Oscar in this category, though one level down we have Bradley Cooper for American Sniper and Bill Murray for St. Vincent, with Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler and Brad Pitt for Fury as other possibilities, plus Ben Affleck, who I’m counting here since he’s an Oscar winner, even if he’s never received an acting citation to date. Longer shots for nominations who’ve been to the dance before include Christian Bale for Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Philip Seymour Hoffman for A Most Wanted Man, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, Al Pacino for Manglehorn, Jeremy Renner for Kill the Messenger, and Mark Walhberg for The Gambler. Those fellas will be fighting it out with a bunch of first timers in this category, and it’s going to be a bloodbath.
Over in Best Actress, we have perennial bridesmaid Amy Adams hoping that this year she’ll finally be the bride with her work in Big Eyes. She’s going to be getting a challenge from both Jessica Chastain (for either The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Miss Julie, or A Most Violent Year) and Reese Witherspoon for Wild though. One level down you have Julianne Moore for Still Alice and Meryl Streep for Into the Woods, with other former nominees/winner on the hunt including Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant or Two Days One Night, Keira Knightley for Begin Again, Hilary Swank for The Homesman, Kate Winslet for A Little Chaos, and Robin Wright for The Congress. The newbies could seriously vie for a win here, but the vets have […]

The 84th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

Once again today I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m going to be truing to do that, time will still tell. Again, if nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.
Alright, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Moneyball
The nominees here for this ceremony were The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. Obviously The Artist took it in real life, and Drive would have been my clear pick had it been nominated, but if I had been a voter my choice would have been between The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball. At the time, The Descendants would have been my pick, but now I think I lean towards Moneyball, so that would wind up getting my vote for Best Picture.
Best Director – Alexander Payne for The Descendants
I’d have voted for Nicolas Winding Refn here for Drive, but unsurprisingly he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Without Refn, I don’t have anyone I’m too wild about, but I think Payne might be the best of the bunch. The aforementioned Refn is easily my personal pick overall, but Payne is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Brad Pitt for Moneyball
In a perfect world, I’d have seen either Michael Fassbender rewarded for Shame, Ryan Gosling in the lineup for Drive, Tom Hardy cited for Warrior, or Michael Parks in for Red State and subsequently any of them would have been my vote (likely Fassbender), but such is life. The actual nominees here though were Demián Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt for Moneyball. The choice of these […]

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