Monday, December 30, 2013

Most Anticipated Films of 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo (You Me and Dupree)
Written by Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFreely
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Robert Redford

This film makes the list because it’s the last puzzle piece for the team members building up to Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.  The build up for the next Avengers is a big thing, and the scenes at the end of this film will be massive.  With that said, more on Cap himself Chris Evans is great in this role.  The trailer and the five minute clip in front of Thor are testing the boundaries of Cap’s trust in the government, and S.H.I.E.L.D.  Anthony and Joe Russo are interesting choices for directors, most of their work is in comedic television, like Community, and Happy Endings, their major film work was the comedy You, Me, and DuPree.  Can the brothers do it?  The trailer has given me faith.

Director: Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball)
Written by: E. Max Frye, and Dan Futterman
Starring:  Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave

There are only a few directors who have made consistent (back to back), quality films within different genres in the last year, but Bennett Miller is one of those directors.  Capote was an excellent look at the connection an author created with a killer, while Moneyball was about a man who believed in the principle of the game, fighting for his passion.  In an odd way Foxcatcher looks like a blend of both.  With Miller using Dan Futterman who wrote Capote, and Steve Carell shedding his good guy image once again, but this time even darker than The Way Way Back.  This was supposed to be a 2013 release, but with the crowded line up of quality films I would have shifted to 2014 to stand out.

Godzilla (2014)
Directed by:  Gareth Edwards (Monsters)
Written by: Max Borenstein
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn

I was hesitant to add this film to my list, Edwards has spent most of his work in visual effects, which will make this film visually stunning, was there any doubt, but can that make this a fulfilling film experience?  I think the trailer pushed this film on to the list.  I think the cast is pretty cool as well.  Godzilla made the list this year for the same reason Pacific Rim did last year, I am intrigued by what they can do with a giant aliens again.

Gone Girl
Directed by David Fincher (The Social Network)
Starring: Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, Missi Pyle, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Casey Wilson, Scoot McNairy, Emily Ratajkowski, Kathleen Rose Perkins

From what I have heard the book is dark, and will suit Fincher’s direction.  I need a new book to read, and this may be just the right thing.  I was not a big fan of Dragon Tattoo, there were great parts like Rooney Mara, and the cinematography, but this was not Fincher’s finest.  Affleck is an interesting choice for this role; he is on a roll after Argo with being cast in a lot of different things, will be an interesting film.  Can Affleck maintain the love?  Can Fincher handle the material?  One of the most interesting films to watch

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Director/Writer: Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton,  Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe,

I almost gave up on Wes Anderson after Royal Tenenbaums, but with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and moonrise Kingdom this man has become one of the most dependable directors.  I am excited to see Ralph Fiennes added to his growing ensemble, and to see him flex his comedic muscle, a muscle he rarely uses on screen.  How can you go wrong here?

Guardians of the Galaxy
Directed and Written by: James Gunn
Staring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rooker, Dave Bautista, Djimon Hounsou, Vin Diesel, Glenn Close, Peter Serafinowicz, Sean Gunn

Guardians of the Galaxy is also part of the Marvel/Avengers Universe, and will connect with Thanos as the main villain, after all the Collecter the villain at the end of Thor is in this film.  Guardians is different from the other films though, there is a different set of characters, Chris Pratt plays the only earthling while there is also a talking raccoon (Cooper), and a sentient tree voice by Vin Diesel.  The footage that leaked looks amazing.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow

Christopher Nolan, combined with wormholes, time travel, and two of the hottest stars McConaughey and Chastain, what could be better than this?  Nolan gets great casts, combined with the mystique of revealing little about his films., and you have one of the most anticipated films of the year.

Inherent Vice
Director/Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Sasha Pieterse

This is the first film Paul Thomas Anderson is adapting; he has always had original screenplays.  This film blends a little more comedic edge than many of his past films, and the material this is based on is more like The Big Lebowski, and team Anderson with Joaquin Phoenix again, how can you go wrong with this?

Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago)
Writer: James Lepine
Cast  Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Christine Baranski, Tracey Ullman, James Corden, Lucy Punch, Frances de la Tour

Every musical release will make my anticipated list.  The truth of the matter is some work, and some don’t.  Look at Chicago, which is from the man who is going to direct this lesser known Sondheim musical.  Then look at Nine which was also directed by Rob Marshall (his personal vision), another lesser known musical to the mass public.  Les Mis was helped on two accounts, mass popularity with both Broadway, and non-Broadway folks, and its cast.  The cast could not save Nine it bombed.  Let’s hope Anna Kendrick fresh off pitch perfect, and her other cast members who can sing, will truly make this a can’t miss film.

The Monuments Men
Director: George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck)
Written by: George Clooney, and Grant Heslov
Cast George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban

Kind of glad this film got pushed to winter 2014.  It makes more sense in early 2014.  I think it’s going to be a good film, the cast is fantastic, the original trailer made me skeptical, but further the second helped add to my excitement.  Could it be Ocean’s meets WWII, sure but what’s wrong with that, and Clooney has a style different from Soderbergh, so this

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Director: Bryan Singer (X-2: X-Men United)
Writing: Simon Kinburg
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellen, Evan Peters, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, James McAvoy, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Lucas Till, Daniel Cudmore, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy

This is the film I am most excited about, with Bryan Singer back, and Matthew Vaughn who wrote First Class back, you get the best of both worlds, along with a mix of the new and returning class.  The posters are awesome, and the teaser trailer keeps you on the edge your seat.  This should get people back to the franchise more, after the crappy third film.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Worst Films of 2013

I try to avoid movies I know are bad without seeing them.  Some good examples are films by Tyler Perry (Temptation, Madea's Christmas), anything with Adam Sandler (Grown Ups 2) ,or one of the less popular young adult books turned films like (The Host or Mortal Instruments).  There are always films that slip through the cracks, that's this list, in no order.

Man of Steel 

I have never been a big fan of Superman, as a comic book fan he has always been the most boring, too invincible. Director Zack Snyder (300) and Screenwriter David Goyer  (Batman Begins) blend the style of each of these films to try and make Superman more "human."  Goyer uses the the same story strategy of the Batman Begins, and Snyder uses a Michael Bay like strategy of constant of explosions with little dialogue.  Yes I get it, we should all know Superman, and there shouldn't need to be character, but this film make you care less about the most popular super hero of all time.  I could go on and on, oh no wait the that's the last fight sequence in the film.


District 9 was one of my favorite films of 2009, so the anticipation to Neil Blonkamp's sci-fi hit had a lot of expectations.  There were a lot of dystopian films this year, Oblivion soared (in my opinion), Elysium's bad accents, overwrought and in your face plot satirical plot about the evils of society just do not work.  In his first film you care about the characters, in this film there are only caricatures.

Olympus has Fallen

For some reason there was obsession with attacking the White House this year.  Two films were released, and I only watched this one.  When you see a film like this you have to suspend disbelief, of course, but this jingoistic crap, was a slap in the face to the average movie goer.  You have to assumer that this is the present day version of Red Dawn, which is not a complement.

Oz the Great and Powerful

How do you ruin the lore created by L. Frank Baum?  You focus on a miscast wizard, James Franco (and spoiler alert) miscast poor Mila Kunis as the Wicked Witch of the West.  If I had to pick a worst film of the year it would be this, partly because of the disappointment factor.  Raimi is a dream maker, but this was more like a nightmare. If  I had to ask for anything from the wizards bag, it would be to have my memory of this film removed. 


In a year filled with some of the best documentaries 20 Feet from Stardom, Black Fish, Stories We Tell, The Act of Killing to name a few no documentary rang more false than this film.  There is something disingenuous about making a document which delves into the life of one of the most private men, also trying to hear many of these talk about Salinger who had little to do with him was painful.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Second Annual Underrated Film Award Nominations (2013)

It's time again, the Underrated Film Awards are back!  While putting together my list for the second year of these awards, I once again found myself questioning "what does underrated mean?"  Now if you look at some of these nominees, you may say well they had good reviews/were rated highly.  Most of them were, but underrated doesn't mean bad films/campy films people now all of a sudden deem good like White House Down, or Pain and Gain.  Sorry to be a hater.

This years list of nominees in the film category includes two sci-fi films that embrace genre stereotypes, but push the envelope, an interesting twist on zombies, a tale of a porn obsessed young lad, a coming of age summer camp story, and of course the end of the world.

Most Underrated Films of 2013
The Bling Ring 
Don Jon
Pacific Rim 
This is the End 
Warm Bodies 
The Way Way Back 

Most Underrated Performances of 2013
Andrew Dice Clay-Blue Jasmine 
Ryan Gosling-The Place Beyond the Pines 
Rinko Kikuchi-Pacific Rim 
Aubrey Plaza-The To Do List
Sam Rockwell-The Way Way Back 
Miles Teller-The Spectacular Now 
Emma Watson-The Bling Ring

Most Underrated Technicals Aspects of a 2013 Film (Direction, Writing, Editing etc., )
Phillip Ivey's Production Design in Elysium
Anthony Gonzalez, M83, and Joseph Trapenese's Original Score for Oblivion
Nicole Holofcener's Direction for Enough Said 
Sean Bobbit's Cinematography for The Place Beyond the Pines
Joseph Gordon Levitt's Screenplay for Don Jon
Terel Gibson's Film Editing in The King's of Summer 
Janty Yates' Costume Design in The Counselor

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is Ambitious, but is Ambition always a Good Thing?

The Secret Life of of Walter Mitty (2 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder)
Written by: Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, and Shirley MacLaine

secret life of walter mitty trailer

Most people know Ben Stiller the actor; he is the man who dodged some balls, posed as a model, met the parents, kept the museum safe, and so much more.  Few people realize Stiller has always had a large behind the scenes role with many of his films, and his television work.  Stiller started out as directorial work way back in 1987 on Saturday Night Live, then did work on his own series The Ben Stiller show.  Stiller then went on to direct his first bigger film with Reality Bites, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder.  The Secret Life of Walter is his most ambitious project to date.

The film follows Walter Mitty who works at Life Magazine during the final days.  Walter has always lived a quiet life trying to do right by his mother (MacLaine), and sister an aspiring actress (Kathryn Hahn).  In trying to do the best for his family, Walter loses his sense of adventure he once had and finds himself "zoning out" in everyday life where he escapes on adventures, or tries to impress his pretty co-worker Cheryl (Wiig). 

As the end of the magazing is at hand Walter tests his own sense of adventure through photographer Sean O'Connell (Penn) who has felt a kinship with Walter over the years.  Walter realizes a negative is missing, and through inspiration from Cheryl he embarks on adventure to track down O'Connell, the negative, and himself.

Let me start by saying I liked Mitty more than I thought I would, the film is visually stunning.  Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano, The Painted Veil) transports you into Walter's imagination, connecting the pieces of the advertising or every day subway station; he also transports you to Walter's actual adventures in Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan.  Dryburgh's work has involved immersing audiences into different worlds, and he does a marvelous job with this film.

I have to applaud Stiller for pushing himself as a director, over the years he has pushed himself to take on more challenging work.  Reality Bites was the personal 90s angst, while his next two films The Cable and Zoolander were funny they did not shake the core of Stiller as an artist.  Stiller found solid comedic ground in Tropic Thunder on of the funniest films of the 2000s, showing an edgier comedic side, and moving his direction in the right step.  Mitty is his best work as a director to date; he does his best with the material, and gives you a personal look at a man seeking to find refuge, but to wanting to soar, and find happiness.

While the film is good, the problem is that the film strays too far from the premise of the original 1947 with Danny Kaye.  The original film follows the misadventures in Walter's head in the original, while Stiller's ambition is a strength in this case its also the films weakness.  The script from Steve Conrad attempts something which tries to be too earnest in the sense that there is a blend of too many genres.  Stiller is growing as a director, but in this film he could have kept the visuals while maintaining a more grounded, and focused story.  

While some of the films smaller emotional sequences work the larger ones, which avoid subtlety like his meeting with O'Connell feel forced.  I'm all for sentimental films, but the sentiment needs to organic, and this film tends to force you to feel for this man who is often ill-defined.  I left asking who is Walter Mitty?  I also left wanting Papa John's, thinking about purchasing a Dell, and wondering if I joined E-Harmony would I get to meet Patton Oswalt.  The product placement in this film rivals m y worst film of the year, Man of Steel.

I admire Stiller's attempt, because I enjoyed the film more than I thought, and Wiig was great, more subtle than ever, but Mitty does not work as well as Ben Stiller hoped.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color is a Fantastic Film with both Excellent and Problematic Representations of Women and the Sexuality

Blue is the Warmest Color or La Vie d'Adele (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain)
Written by Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix (The Secret of the Grain)
Starring: Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux

Finding a film or television series (American made), which explores the sexuality of women is like finding that elusive needle in the hay stack everyone speaks about.  This year in september Showtime started to scratch the surface with their cutting edge series Masters of Sex, but most films which explore identity best are foreign made.  With that said how many average Americans get the chance to see a film about two young women who fall in love, and create a passionate love affair?  Not many especially with an NC-17 rating.

Blue is the Warmest Color follows a young 15 year old named Adele (Exarchopoulos) in the early stage of understanding her person.  As a young teenage girl her friends goad her on that a young boy is interested in her.  Out of sheer peer pressure Adele finds solace in this young man, because it feels right, and in the eyes of her friends she will meet the status quo.

As Adele is walking down the street one day she happens to glance at Emma (Seydoux) holding hands with her then girlfriend, and Adele is drawn to her, love first sight possibly, or some form of magnetism.  One of the brilliant things about the script is the way the different interactions Adele has which shape the understanding of her character.  Just before Adele happens to see Emma, she and her class are talking about a character in literature who meets someone and falls in love at first sight, but what does this "love at first sight" mean?  One student suggests the love in the book and that form of love represents filling up something empty with or reaching through resistance of the person to find themselves.  In this case Adele begins her hunt to find Emma, which leads to a longer more complicated romance between these two young women.

Exarchopoulos and Seydoux are the relationship of the year in film.  These two women are fantastic on screen, their relationship feels fully formed, and honest.  Exarchopoulos is relatively newer to the acting game, but as Adele she carries this film her vulnerability as the young 15 year old to the "adult" mode of her life shows the haunting power of the person lost, never able to find them self.  When Exarchopoulos breaks down and cries you feel the anguish of her character, through the need to please and just fill that aspect of her life.

Seydoux who has roles in bigger films like Midnight in Paris, and Inglorious Basterds is a more self assured character.  As Adele is less secure in her orientation, Adele is a stronger women.  While Emma is stronger Seydoux does an excellent job of letting you see the cracks within her armor, the love she has for Adele, through her art work, and even as their relationship hits certain bumps.  Seydoux's Emma is calm, but when she unleashes her emotion especially in a scene where she and Adele meet in a cafe you get to see the vulnerability in her character.

Together these two women create fully realized sexual women, there is an honest exploration of love through these two characters, and the strength of the film is weighted in their performances,  This can also be proven as fact as the Cannes jury lead by Steven Spielberg honored the films director with the Palm d'Or, but also for the first time in the history of award, the two actresses were cited with the prize.

Yet what is an actor/actress without their director/writer? Abdellatif Kechiche does a good job making many of these beautiful moments happen; he along with co-screenwriter Ghalia Lacroix paint a vivid picture of an honest relationship.  Enter the problematic piece, the one many critics/bloggers have pointed out.  A point, which makes the film goer think, but not completely destroy the good within the film.

Kechiche appears to be obsessed with Exarchopoulos, there are so many shots of her ass, which is a great ass that you sometimes feel as though he thinks he may be moving toward a different type of film.  What's the big deal?  Kechiche's direction is not bad by any means, but the way he points/frames the camera on Adele from the way she bites her lip to her constant ass shots projects the over used male gaze.  The reason for the films NC-17 rating in the State is because Kechiche  added a seven minute sex scene between Adele, and Emma.  Many Americans will find the scene graphic, and the puritanical nature of our society demeans the beauty that can exist within a scene depicting passion, and the beauty of making love.  There are moments though in this scene where Kechiche's direction veer into the objectification this moment, and become more porn like, which is one of the problematic aspects of the film.

Male gaze is a buzz term, and while the director of this film is male, and does play a little loose with these moments, there has never been a film, which delves into the depths of women's sexuality so deeply. There is a moment in the film where the concept of male gaze is explored Joachim, a friend of Emma's, talks about a man who changes to a women, then back man, and the sexual experience during each of these different phases.  The summation of his point is that women have a better understanding, and better orgasmic experiences, they know their bodies better than men.  The man has less of an understanding about the women's sexuality.  While watching the film, and listening to this exposition I felt Kechiche explained his own exploration of this subject through this character.

Adele only knows her body through the sexual encounters she has with different people, and Kechiche defines Adele mainly through Emma and the few other sexual partners she encounters.  Adele is the object of their and our affection, namely and object, but she never quite is able to understand what this means.  As she is taunted by friends about her potential lesbianism or confront by Emma for various things Adele regresses back a child like innocence.  Adele who is meant to be the women we see exploring herself never fully understands love in its truest sense.

Blue is an excellent film, and while there are flaws in the perception of women's sexuality, this is still a beautiful experience.  My truest beef with the film is the length, and the way it could have been cut down slightly, the film drags bit in the middle, and towards the end.  This is still a great film, which explores a subject that many dare not breach, and does a good job.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Performer to Watch: Margot Robbie

Back in 2011 Margot Robbie was a show stopper on the little seen, but well liked ABC series Pan Am.  For those who have seen the show, she obviously made an impact then, but its he performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, which will be released in all theatres on Christmas Day that will make this woman a star.

Back in 1980 Martin Scorsese launched another blonde's career, Cathy Moriarty, and this performance in Wolf is just as memorable.  There is something magnetic, about Robbie, which partly includes her beauty, but its her performance as Naomie, which steals scenes in a movie full of scene stealers.  Robbie is fantastic as she indulges in drug fueled debauchery with DiCaprio, but grounds the films leading man throughout the last third of the film.  Robbie's Namoie is fantastic, and in a movie mainly about the men, she is certainly a memorable character, and gives a great performance.

This Australian actress from the Gold Coast has done much state side, but watch for her star power to launch through Wolf.  Robbie has a film opposite Michelle Williams, entitled Suite francaise from director Saul Dibb, which will be released next year.  Robbie will also star opposite Will Smith from writer/director team Glenn and John Requa (Bad Santa, I Love you Phillip Morris).  Look for Robbie to star in many more films, and Joss Whedon take note you have your Ms. Marvel!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street Roars with Ferocity

The Wolf of Wall Street (4 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas)
Written by: Terrence Winter (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, and Jonah Hill 

This film is going to be a mixed bag for people, most people want a moral to a story, or a "lesson learned."  The lesson learned in this film is that people are selfish, and within out society they are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get snort and sleep with whoever they want.  Not exactly a good lesson.  If you are expecting these characters, and director Martin Scorsese to coddle you into making you feel like everything will turn out fine then go see a Disney flick.

Wall Street centers on the real life, Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) a broker who is taught by a mentor played briefly by Matthew McCounaughey to pull a fugazi, namely steal from his clients.  The economic crisis in 1987 sends Jordan back to the bottom, where he must climb, or well claw his way back into the game.  While searching for a job he stumbles upon a small firm in Long Island that uses pink sheets selling penny stocks to the less financially solvent people.  While those around him fail to gain the big sales, Jordan dreams big in order to take the fifty percent commission, and boy can he sell

As his own person wealth begins to rise he meets Donnie (Hill).  Donnie questions Jordan on his fancy car, and on his bank statement.  In one of the most memorable moments of the film Donnie asks Jordan to prove he made 72 grand in one month, and he will quit his job, and work for him.  Soon Donnie is on a pay phone quitting his job, and the bond between best friends begins, and as their friendship grows, their goals of running their own con through their firm Stratton Oakmont begins.

This film is above conning the audience, this is proof as Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have worked together on five films starting with Gangs of New York, then The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and now this picture.  With every film they get bolder and magnetism on the screen grows, this is their best work together.

Leonardo DiCaprio pulls off another "Gatsby-like" role with Jordan, but within this film the material is much stronger, and the range of his performance is so damn convincing.  Jordan could and maybe should be described as a terrible person, but like the real life person many were drawn into his world, and you feel the same way about DiCaprio's performance.  DiCaprio speechifies, he has the command of his stock troops, or even when he's lying to the people he "loves" there is something so raw, and brutal about this performance.

Martin Scorsese adds to the decadence of his Jordan's surroundings with one of the most visually sumptuous looking films.  A lot of the credit should also go to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Amorres Perros) who does a fantastic job highlighting the orgy (sometimes literally) of goods from mansions and yachts to sex crazed parties. 

Martin Scorsese's last film, Hugo, was also visually stunning, but these films are like night and day.  Scorsese uses the sharp wit from Terence Winter's script to help highlight this dark world with brutal honesty.  Leo is a funny guy, but Jonah Hill steals the show with comedy in this film, the guy is just funny; he knows how to deliver a line of sarcasm and humor with perfection.  Hill is a scene stealer.  The same can be said for Margot Robbie who bursts onto the screen the same way blonde bombshell Cathy Moriarty did in Raging Bull.  Robbie does not always deliver the laughs, but she draws you in, and eventually as she loses herself and Jordan you get the intensity you want from her character, this is what Jennifer Lawrence should have delivered in American Hustle.

Martin Scorsese pushes the limits; he tells a darker, braver story about a group of guys who con the pants off Wall Street.  Using Winter's brilliant script Scorsese's tale blends humor to show just how ridiculous the world of white collar crime has become, and some of the earliest stories from people stealing from the poor and keeping for themselves.  Scorsese does not clean up the story, he shines a bright spot light on just how nasty these men were, and that even in the end the they still try to sell themselves and other people their bull shit.  In the hands of a lesser team this could have gone badly, but with Scorsese and Leo they pull off another great work of art.

Monday, December 16, 2013

American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave lead the Critics Choice Award Nominations

Lead contendersThere are honestly no surprises here, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave have the most nominations with 13 each.  I am honestly only counting 10 for Hustle, 9 if you want to stick with Oscar categories there are comedy categories there, or an Ensemble award.  Without the ensemble nomination Slave has 11 nominations, and will probably get the same number at Oscar time, although it is out competition for make-up/hairstyle.  Gravity remains the consistent throughout this award season with 10, but too has two nominations, which are not at Oscar.  Come on Critics enough of this Best Action Movie/performer etc business.

On the acting side a few people were dealt some blows, including Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street.  They can still make an Oscar comeback, but it looks unlikely at this point. Tom Hanks is apparently not going to be nominated for playing Walt Disney (the man who has won the most Oscars).  Amy Adams did not get a nominations when there were six nominees, even with all the Hustle love, although good news Brie Larson did.  

Should we look out for Christian Bale in Best Actor him making the sixth spot is a surprise here, is a threat, and if so to who?  Best Actress is going to be the veteran winners club.  Will Gandolfini score a posthumous nomination?  Can Scarlett Johansson bump someone with just her voice?  I think the acting nominees are settling into place.

Smaller independent films like Fruitvale Station, and Mud were all but ignored as well.  Many have stated that Fruitvale would do what Beasts of the Southern Wild did, but Beasts had a bigger show at the Independent Spirit Awards and Critics Choice Awards.  Saving Mr. Banks finally showed up, and Dallas Buyer's Club also made the Best Picture race, will these line-up perfectly?  They never do.  

Last year The Master and Moonrise Kingdom both got nominations here, but failed to score Best Picture nomination, there were nine Best Picture nominees and Amour made the cut.  The year before Drive was nominated at the Critics Choice Awards, but only nine films were nominated at Oscar, so it was cut.  The year before that this group nominated The Town, while the Oscars went for The Kids are all Right.  Like it or not, these are the films with the best shot at nominations, there will be only nine Best Picture nominees, so if one does not make the cut it will probably be Dallas Buyer's Club.

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Inside Llewyn Davis
Saving Mr. Banks
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Judi Dench – Philomena
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Scarlett Johansson – Her
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
June Squibb – Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game
Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Color
Liam James – The Way Way Back
Sophie Nelisse – The Book Thief
Tye Sheridan – Mud
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
Paul Greengrass – Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze – Her
Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell – American Hustle
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
Eric Singer and David O. Russell – American Hustle
Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Spike Jonze – Her
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – Inside Llewyn Davis
Bob Nelson – Nebraska
Tracy Letts – August: Osage County
Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight
Billy Ray – Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope – Philomena
John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street
Emmanuel Lubezki – Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel – Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael – Nebraska
Roger Deakins – Prisoners
Sean Bobbitt – 12 Years a Slave
Andy Nicholson (Production Designer), Rosie Goodwin (Set Decorator) – Gravity
Catherine Martin (Production Designer), Beverley Dunn (Set Decorator) – The Great Gatsby
K.K. Barrett (Production Designer), Gene Serdena (Set Decorator) – Her
Dan Hennah (Production Designer), Ra Vincent (Set Decorator) – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Adam Stockhausen (Production Designer), Alice Baker (Set Decorator) – 12 Years a Slave
Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers – American Hustle
Christopher Rouse – Captain Phillips
Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger – Gravity
Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill – Rush
Joe Walker – 12 Years a Slave
Thelma Schoonmaker – The Wolf of Wall Street
Michael Wilkinson – American Hustle
Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby
Bob Buck, Lesley Burkes-Harding, Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Daniel Orlandi – Saving Mr. Banks
Patricia Norris – 12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
12 Years a Slave
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
Star Trek into Darkness
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University
The Wind Rises
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Iron Man 3
Lone Survivor
Star Trek into Darkness
Henry Cavill – Man of Steel
Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man 3
Brad Pitt – World War Z
Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Gwyneth Paltrow – Iron Man 3
American Hustle
Enough Said
The Heat
This Is the End
The Way Way Back
The World’s End
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Simon Pegg – The World’s End
Sam Rockwell – The Way Way Back
Amy Adams – American Hustle
Sandra Bullock – The Heat
Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Enough Said
Melissa McCarthy – The Heat
The Conjuring
Star Trek into Darkness
World War Z
Blue Is the Warmest Color
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Past
The Act of Killing
Stories We Tell
Tim’s Vermeer
20 Feet from Stardom
Atlas – Coldplay – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Happy – Pharrell Williams – Despicable Me 2
Let It Go – Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez – Frozen
Ordinary Love – U2 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Please Mr. Kennedy – Justin Timberlake/Oscar Isaac/Adam Driver – Inside Llewyn Davis
Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Rey – The Great Gatsby
Steven Price – Gravity
Arcade Fire – Her
Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks
Hans Zimmer – 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave – 13 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actor / Chiwetel Ejiofor
Best Supporting Actor / Michael Fassbender
Best Supporting Actress / Lupita Nyong’o
Best Acting Ensemble
Best Director / Steve McQueen
Best Adapted Screenplay / John Ridley
Best Cinematography / Sean Bobbitt
Best Art Direction / Adam Stockhausen (Production Designer), Alice Baker (Set Decorator)
Best Editing / Joe Walker
Best Costume Design / Patricia Norris
Best Makeup
Best Score / Hans Zimmer
20 Feet from Stardom – 1 Nomination
Best Documentary
The Act of Killing – 1 Nomination
Best Documentary
All is Lost – 1 Nomination
Best Actor / Robert Redford
American Hustle – 13 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actor / Christian Bale
Best Supporting Actor / Bradley Cooper
Best Supporting Actress / Jennifer Lawrence
Best Acting Ensemble
Best Director / David O. Russell
Best Original Screenplay / Eric Singer and David O. Russell
Best Editing / Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Best Costume Design / Michael Wilkinson
Best Makeup
Best Comedy
Best Actor in a Comedy / Christian Bale
Best Actress in a Comedy / Amy Adams
August: Osage County – 4 Nominations
Best Actress / Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actress / Julia Roberts
Best Acting Ensemble
Best Adapted Screenplay / Tracy Letts

Before Midnight – 1 Nomination
Best Adapted Screenplay / Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke
Blackfish – 1 Nomination
Best Documentary
Blue is the Warmest Color – 2 Nominations
Best Young Actor/Actress / Adele Exarchopoulos
Best Foreign Language Film
Blue Jasmine – 2 Nominations
Best Actress / Cate Blanchett
Best Original Screenplay / Woody Allen
The Book Thief – 1 Nomination
Best Young Actor/Actress / Sophie Nelisse

Captain Phillips – 6 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actor / Tom Hanks
Best Supporting Actor / Barkhad Abdi
Best Director / Paul Greengrass
Best Adapted Screenplay / Billy Ray
Best Editing / Christopher Rouse
The Conjuring – 1 Nomination
Best Sci-fi/Horror Movie
The Croods – 1 Nomination 
Best Animated Film
Dallas Buyers Club – 3 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actor / Matthew McConaughey
Best Supporting Actor / Jared Leto
Despicable Me 2 – 2 Nominations
Best Animated Film
Best Song / Happy – Pharrell Williams

Ender’s Game – 1 Nomination
Best Young Actor/Actress / Asa Butterfield

Enough Said – 4 Nominations
Best Supporting Actor / James Gandolfini
Best Comedy
Best Actor in a Comedy / James Gandolfini
Best Actress in a Comedy / Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Frances Ha – 1 Nomination
Best Actress in a Comedy / Greta Gerwig
Frozen – 2 Nominations
Best Animated Film
Best Song / Let It Go – Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Gravity – 10 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actress / Sandra Bullock
Best Director / Alfonso Cuarón
Best Cinematography / Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Art Direction / Andy Nicholson (Production Designer), Rosie Goodwin (Set Decorator)
Best Editing / Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger
Best Visual Effects
Best Actress in An Action Movie / Sandra Bullock
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie
Best Score / Steven Price
The Great Beauty – 1 Nomination
Best Foreign Language Film
The Great Gatsby – 3 Nominations
Best Art Direction / Catherine Martin (Production Designer), Beverley Dunn (Set Decorator)
Best Costume Design / Catherine Martin
Best Song / Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Rey
The Heat – 3 Nominations
Best Comedy
Best Actress in a Comedy / Sandra Bullock
Best Actress in a Comedy / Melissa McCarthy

Her – 6 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Supporting Actress / Scarlett Johansson
Best Director / Spike Jonze
Best Original Screenplay / Spike Jonze
Best Art Direction / K.K. Barrett (Production Designer), Gene Serdena (Set Decorator)
Best Score / Arcade Fire

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 5 Nominations
Best Art Direction / Dan Hennah (Production Designer), Ra Vincent (Set Decorator)
Best Costume Design / Bob Buck, Lesley Burkes-Harding, Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor
Best Makeup
Best Visual Effects
Best Actress in an Action Movie / Evangeline Lilly
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – 3 Nominations
Best Action Movie
Best Actress in an Action Movie / Jennifer Lawrence
Best Song / Atlas – Coldplay
The Hunt – 1 Nomination
Best Foreign Language Film
Inside Llewyn Davis – 4 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Original Screenplay / Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Best Cinematography / Bruno Delbonnel
Best Song / Please Mr. Kennedy – Justin Timberlake/Oscar Isaac/Adam Driver

Iron Man 3 – 4 Nominations
Best Visual Effects
Best Action Movie
Best Actor in an Action Movie / Robert Downey Jr.
Best Actress in an Action Movie / Gwyneth Paltrow
Lee Daniels’ The Butler – 3 Nominations
Best Supporting Actress / Oprah Winfrey
Best Acting Ensemble
Best Makeup

Lone Survivor – 2 Nominations
Best Action Movie
Best Actor in an Action Movie / Mark Wahlberg

Man of Steel – 1 Nomination          
Best Actor in an Action Movie / Henry Cavill

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – 1 Nomination  
Best Song / Ordinary Love – U2
Monsters University – 1 Nomination
Best Animated Film
Mud – 1 Nomination
Best Young Actor/Actress / Tye Sheridan
Nebraska – 6 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actor / Bruce Dern
Best Supporting Actress / June Squibb
Best Acting Ensemble
Best Original Screenplay / Bob Nelson
Best Cinematography / Phedon Papamichael

Pacific Rim – 1 Nomination
Best Visual Effects
The Past – 1 Nomination
Best Foreign Language Film

Philomena – 2 Nominations
Best Actress / Judi Dench
Best Adapted Screenplay / Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

Prisoners – 1 Nomination
Best Cinematography / Roger Deakins 

Rush – 4 Nominations
Best Supporting Actor / Daniel Bruhl
Best Editing / Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill
Best Makeup
Best Action Movie
Saving Mr. Banks – 4 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actress / Emma Thompson
Best Costume Design / Daniel Orlandi
Best Score / Thomas Newman

Short Term 12 – 1 Nomination
Best Actress / Brie Larson
Star Trek into Darkness – 3 Nominations
Best Visual Effects
Best Action Movie
Best Sci-fi/Horror Movie

Stories We Tell – 1 Nomination
Best Documentary

This Is The End – 1 Nomination
Best Comedy
Tim’s Vermeer – 1 Nomination
Best Documentary
Wadjda – 1 Nomination
Best Foreign Language Film
The Way Way Back – 3 Nominations
Best Young Actor/Actress / Liam James
Best Comedy
Best Actor in a Comedy / Sam Rockwell

The Wind Rises – 1 Nomination
Best Animated Film
The Wolf of Wall Street – 6 Nominations
Best Picture
Best Acting Ensemble                                       
Best Director / Martin Scorsese                    
Best Adapted Screenplay / Terence Winter
Best Editing / Thelma Schoonmaker
Best Actor in a Comedy / Leonardo DiCaprio
World War Z – 2 Nominations
Best Actor in an Action Movie / Brad Pitt
Best Sci-fi/Horror Movie

The World’s End – 2 Nominations
Best Comedy
Best Actor in a Comedy / Simon Pegg