Starring: Christian Bale, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Willem Defoe, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepherd,
Synopsis (courtesy of IMDb): Russell Baze and his younger brother Rodney live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother is lured into one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will almost cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.
While Oscar always has their eyes on anything produced by the Weinstein Company, other studios are showing up with an impressive slate of films for the 2013 awards season. Relativity Media, who haven’t had their fair share of award-worthy projects has announced their upcoming films for the rest of the year.
Last year, the company managed an Oscar nomination in Costume Design for the posthumous work of Eiko Ishioka for Mirror Mirror (2012). They also had the indie hit Haywire (2012) with Gina Carano which many, including our own Joseph Braverman, really loved. But for every good film, there’s a bad one in their midst. So far in 2013, the company handled the abysmal Movie 43, Lasse Hallstrom’s Safe Haven, and the comedy 21 & Over. The rest of the year looks rather promising for the studio. Not looking so much like an awards player, in August they’ll release the thriller Paranoia with Liam Hemsowrth and Oscar-nominee Gary Oldman. Read more on Relativity Media Announces 2013 Releases!…
It’s March! We get started right away and over the past few weeks after the Oscar ceremony, I took some brief stabs at some categories. Those have been tinkered with and will be reflected on the actual Oscar Prediction pages in the next couple of days. The full listing of predicted nominees is on the sidebar with the list of contenders on the Oscar Prediction pages for Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, and Animated Feature.
This year we have several actors in contention for Oscar nominations from the same film. The Supporting Actress category is typically has no problem nominating two ladies from the film as we saw just recently with Jessica Chastain and eventual Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer from The Help (2011). This year, the following films have two or more possible Supporting Actor nominees from the same picture; Argo(Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston), Lincoln(Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, David Strathairn), Quartet(Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay), Les Miserables (Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne), and Seven Psychopaths (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken). You can also probably name Django Unchained, Promised Land, and Cloud Atlas as well.
The last time that Oscar nominated two male actors from the same film was Bugsy (Ben Kingsley, Harvey Keitel).
After a couple of days away from the festival (unfortunately the day job can’t be completely ignored!) and a disastrous experience courtesy of the London transport system (missing yesterday’s Argo screening due to a cancelled train has to be the low point of my year so far), I was finally back to Leicester Square for the second week of the BFI London Film Festival. There were plenty of highlights from week 1, which you can catch up with here, but my sixth day at the festival brought me to two great movies: Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane, and hilarious black comedy Seven Psychopaths. Reviews after the jump…
Seven Psychopaths is a movie about…well I’m still processing the film and its many interpretations. On the surface it’s just a black comedy about crazy people acting crazy telling crazy stories. But more than that, Martin McDonagh’s film is an exploration of screenwriting and a bristling take down (send up?) of male dominated action comedies. It’s a film that will leave you puzzled, especially after a rough first half hour, but the more you open your mind to will prove revelatory, entirely engrossing and incredibly funny. While there are so many recursive elements to the story one could get lost but my pal Mark Johnson summed up the set up beautifully: Seven Psychopaths is the tale of a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who gets mixed up with the mob after his delinquent friends (Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken) kidnap an eccentric gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) precious Shih Tzu.
The Primetime Emmy Awards are just around the corner and while Joseph and I had fun talking to each other during our Emmy Chatter series, we’re tired of each other’s voices and want to hear from you the readers! So join us and the rest of the staff on Sunday at 7:00/4:00 pm as we live blog the Primetime Emmy Awards, covering everything from red carpet snafus to the awards as they are handed out live. The full list of nominees is available here and you can peep Joseph and I’s predictions after the jump. See you Sunday!
Hello Awards Circuit! The Emmys are right around the corner and we thought it might be fun to break from a traditional article/recap of the nominees and do a chat in live blog form. Each entry will cover a particular section of the nominated field (ie. Drama, Comedy, Reality TV, TV Miniseries or Moive). This weeks chat will focus on the TV Miniseries or Movie category that sees many Hollywood heavyweights battling it out in long form.
OUTSTANDING TV MINISERIES OR MOVIE
American Horror Story
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway and Gellhorn
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Terence: I don’t know what your opinion of the nominees is, but this is perhaps the strongest field we’ve had in a while.
Joseph: I concur. I believe any of the nominated series could potentially win, but I pray it’s not the disappointing, thinly-plotted Hemingway & Gelhorn. I’m rooting for Game Change, just because I know American Horror Story will more than likely be nominated next year and the year after and the year after…
Terence: Yeah you’re right about Hemingway & Gelhorn seeming like the weakest in this field. I LOVED American Horror Story this season, although I think it’s committing slight category fraud (no matter what the Emmy Committee says!) But I have a confession to make…
If you’re a fan of ‘In Bruges’, then chances are you’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. Martin McDonagh wowed many with his last flick, and now he’s returning to theaters this year with a new film in ‘Seven Psychopaths’, which debuted a Trailer today. Starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, and more, this looks like a fantastically offbeat good time, not to mention being a really clever almost parody of Trailers in and of itself. You can see the Trailer after the jump, but count me in. It debuts at the Toronto Film Festival, and hits theaters in October, which can’t come soon enough for me. Take a gander below:
The second half of the year is upon us. The race is about to heat up with big Oscar hopefuls coming down the pike. Our John Foote will be in attendance at the Toronto International Film Festival and many films will be unveiling themselves to critics alike. There is a very unclear yet still feasible shape to the race looking from ten thousand feet.
There are internet jitters building for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. With the trailers released and now the film being pushed up to September, it looks as though we may be in store for a master class in filmmaking. Phoenix also looks to be a lead contender for his first Oscar after delivering in his previous nominated works, Gladiator (2000) and Walk the Line (2005). Phoenix does have tough competition ahead of him including what looks to be a critical darling-type performance coming from John Hawkes in Ben Lewin’s The Sessions. Early word is very positive for the film and the turns by Hawkes along with co-stars Helen Hunt and William H. Macy. Since Hawkes’ initial nomination two years ago for Winter’s Bone, he hasn’t shown any signs of letting up. He was arguably left off last year in Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene and will be seen later this year in Julia Dyer’s The Playroom and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. There seems to be a tremendous following and support for him in his current state. Speaking of Spielberg, we’re still awaiting some type of marketing material for his upcoming Lincoln biopic. No poster or trailer has been released with very few stills leaked online. One starts to think if it will even be ready in time.
It’s the first of the month. Not only that, it’s the first day of the second half of the year. Anybody else feel like that was fast? Yet, here we are.
It’s time to start getting serious, Oscar-wise. Not many things have come out, and not many films are looking like Best Picture nominees from the first half. Some will argue The Avengers with a $600 million dollar bank is in talks. Some think the little indie-film Moonrise Kingdom from Wes Anderson could be our “Little Miss Sunshine” of the year. In limited release, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild has opened and received one of the best word-of-mouth reviews of the year. Is that a contender for the big prize? I’d say it is.
I’m ready to start getting down and dirty with these predictions.
His new film Savages, I must admit excites me a little. It’s been quite some time since Oliver Stone, two-time Academy Award winning Best Director has made a picture that really stunned audiences, the stirred things up and got people talking. At the height of his career, the years spanning 1986-1995 Stone could be counted on to anger conservatives, to challenge beliefs held sacred, and to purely piss people off. He has been called gifted, maddening, infuriating, annoying, hard-hitting, and much more, and his films get under people’s skin, get people talking, debating the events within. You walked out of Stone film talking about not just the film, but the ideas within the film. Man, after seeing JFK (1991) the first time, I remember going to the bar with other critics to discuss what we had just seen, and that rarely happens. The day it opened I took my wife and some friends to see it because I felt they should see it, and again we hit a place afterwards to discuss the film and the ideas within the movie. It was interesting that we all the same film, but so many of us took different aspects away with us. One thing was always clear, no one believed Oswald was the lone shooter, if a shooter at all. Read more on Ten Best Moments of Oliver Stone…
As a film reviewer, I seem to stumble into the same conversations time and time again when I share my thoughts on a film adaptation of a widely acclaimed and/or massively successful book I have yet to read. I often find the talk comes to rest with the individual who has read the book informing me…”Well, you haven’t read the book, so…”.
In the case of a film like The Help for example, several folks made mention that I simply did not like the movie near to the level of someone who experienced the book. In the case of Twilight, I am often told that I simply don’t get it. And now we have The Hunger Games, a cinematic adaptation of the massively popular Suzanne Collins trilogy, which is also the most eagerly anticipated film to arrive in months. And I have yet to read the book. So, pardon me “Hunger Games” fans as I tread ever so lightly through the next few paragraphs.
And to those Twilight Saga fans out there… This is how you make a proper book-to-film adaptation.
Julianne Moore gives one of her 10 best performances to date in HBO’s latest political film ‘Game Change’. Having read the book of the same name by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, I was very curious how the makers of ‘Recount’ (writer Danny Strong and director Jay Roach) were planning on adapting it. Only a third of the book focuses on the campaign of John McCain (the other two thirds focusing on Barack Obama’s ascent to defeat Hilary Clinton and then McCain for the Presidency, as well as John Edwards and his implosion during the same time), and only about half of that involves Sarah Palin shaking things up. Luckily for the filmmakers though, this slice of the book is the best (the other parts seem a lot less on sturdy factual ground), so focusing on how Palin came onto the national stage was a fine choice. As mentioned above, the real coup was getting Moore in the role, as she knocks it out of the park in a big way. The entire cast is good, including Ed Harris as McCain and Woody Harrelson as campaign advisor Steve Schmidt, but Moore steals the show. Without her, this is a solid flick on the level of ‘Recount’, but with her…you’ve got something special on your hands.
For the first time ever, I’ll be starting off my preview of the week’s new films with the limited releases. Not because there’s anything lacking about the wide releases. Far from it, this Thanksgiving weekend is yielding several amazing-looking films both mainstream and indie. No, I’m only switching things around to keep up the theme of David Cronenberg Week. So y’all can guess by now that I’ll first be analyzing…
A Dangerous Method, based on Christopher Hampton’s play The Talking Cure, centers on the professional relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud as well as the complicating presence of the beautiful, intelligent but deeply troubled Sabina Spielrein. The film has been enjoying mostly positive reviews, with its performances, dialogue and production values being singled out for particular praise. Nevertheless, it’s clear that there is a hint of disappointment in its critical evaluations, as many (including yours truly) had initially pegged it as “the” film; the one that would finally catapult the legendary David Cronenberg to an Academy Award nomination for Best Director after a long, distinguished career ignored by the staid organization. While it’s still possible, competition from the likes of The Descendants, The Artist and War Horse required A Dangerous Method to garner more effusive “best of the year!” acclaim to stand a fighting chance considering its subject matter. Even if he personally doesn’t make it, one should still look for it in other categories. Keira Knightley, despite giving a divisive performance with a questionable accent, is showy enough and has been gushed over by quite a few critics, so she is at least on the radar. Viggo Mortensen has been cited as one of the most purely entertaining parts of the film, and Michael Fassbender could get a consolation nomination if his more acclaimed work in Shame proves too transgressive for the Academy to embrace (think Dennis Hopper). It could also get possible nods for its screenplay, art direction and costumes. Read more on Holiday Openings (November 23-27)…
I very much enjoyed ‘Rampart’ at an early screening back last month, and while it never had a firm release date, it always seemed to be headed for a 2011 run at nods for Woody Harrelson and the film itself. Well, according to The Playlist, it’s hitting theaters in November. Here’s the story, which features some interesting stuff on the behind the scenes of the flick:
Largely known so far for straight to DVD/VOD pictures (”Trespass,” “Blitz” “Shadows and Lies” with James Franco) and some that don’t, but aren’t lighting up the screen (Chris Evans’ “Puncture”) Millennium Entertainment might seem like a strange fit for “Rampart,” Oren Moverman‘s cop drama and follow-up to excellent 2009 film, “The Messenger.” Starring Woody Harrelson, and co-written by Moverman and crime novelist James Ellroy, “Rampart” follows veteran L.A.P.D officer Dave Brown (Woody), the last of the renegade cops, as he struggles to take care of his family, and fights for his own survival. Set in the early ‘90s when L.A.P.D. corruption was rampant, “Rampart,” appeared at the Toronto International Film Festival this year to heavy praise, particularly for Harrelson’s smoldering performance as sinking soul of a man who is his own worst enemy.
Woody Harrelson shines in co-writer/director Oren Moverman’s sometimes uneven but always compelling police drama ‘Rampart’. Harrelson is absolutely phenomenal playing an old school member of the Los Angeles Police Department during a time when the tide is changing and people like him are a thing of the past. Moverman has improved as a director since his good but not great directorial debut “The Messenger”(which scored Harrelson a Supporting Actor nod, in addition to Moverman getting nominated for Best Original Screenplay), and that goes a long way towards giving this film a distinct look and feel. His writing is still somewhat divisive, but I give him credit for not making boring films. He certainly knows how to direct Harrelson, as he gets an Oscar worthy performance out of him here. At its core, this is a character study of a flawed individual and his struggles against himself. Not unlike ‘The Wrestler’, it’s a warts and all look at a relic from the past. It suffers from an occasional lack of focus and a tendency to shortchange other interesting characters in favor of its protagonist., but overall it’s a pretty good flick and a fine awards vehicle for Harrelson and Moverman.
Harrelson, against all odds, outdoes himself in the excellent Rampart.
Little by little the crowds are diminishing, the press screenings are less packed, and the general population milling through the fantastic Lightbox is thinning out. Like it or not, TIFF is a top-heavy festival, meaning that the big events happen from the opening on Thursday to about Tuesday…and then it all starts to phase out and wind down.
As we approach the close of the festival, all in all, it has been pretty damned good. Not the best; for that we reach back to 2007 which was jam-packed with brilliant films, four of the five nominated Best Pictures were there and a slew of the nominated actors and actresses. But still, 2011 has been a very strong festival, with many titles already on the path to the Oscars, rave reviews, or at the very least a sale. Read more on John’s TIFF Diary: Day Seven…