Oscar Beat: The Best Director Race at a Glance

by     Posted 21 days ago

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As we head out of the Thanksgiving holiday, studios have been scrambling to get screeners out to critics and voters before early December deadlines, and some of the year’s later releases are finally starting to be seen, which means the Oscar race is becoming much clearer.  We already have one potentially huge game-changer in the form of Selma, which has enjoyed enthusiastically positive response from its initial screenings, but that film also throws a curious prospect into the mix: for the first time in history, could we actually have two female directors nominated for the Best Director Oscar?

After the jump, I consider this question as I take a look at the current state of the rather crowded Best Director race in this edition of Oscar Beat.

Director James Marsh Talks THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, The Challenges of Being Historically Accurate and Narratively Compelling, His First Cut, and More

by     Posted 39 days ago

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One of my favorite films of 2014 is director James Marsh’s (Man on Wire) The Theory of Everything.  The film is an adaptation of the Stephen Hawking biography Traveling to Infinity, written by his wife Jane Hawking.  Starring Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) as Hawking, The Theory of Everything chronicles his budding relationship with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wide (Felicity Jones), heartbreaking motor neuron disease diagnosis at the age of 21, and groundbreaking scientific work in the field of time.  Led by phenomenal performances by Redmayne and Jones, The Theory of Everything will definitely be a player in awards season and I strongly recommend seeing it for yourself when it opens this weekend.  For more on the film, watch the trailer.

Recently I landed an exclusive video interview with James Marsh.  He talked about landing the gig despite being known primarily for documentaries, casting Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, how the story is told equally from two different characters’ perspective, the challenges of being historically accurate and narratively compelling, his first cut, projects he might try to get off the ground in the light of this film’s success, Robert Zemeckis’ take on his Man On Wire documentary, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

New THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Trailer: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones Impress as Stephen and Jane Hawking

by     Posted 79 days ago

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Focus Features has released a new The Theory of Everything trailer for director James Marsh’s (Man on Wire) biopic of genius physicist Stephen Hawking.  The film stars Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) as Hawking, chronicling his budding relationship with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wide (Felicity Jones), heartbreaking motor neuron disease diagnosis at the age of 21, and groundbreaking scientific work in the field of time.  I caught the film at TIFF and it’s one of my favorite films of the year.  Led by phenomenal performances by Redmayne and Jones, The Theory of Everything will definitely be a player in awards season and I strongly recommend seeing it for yourself when it opens November 7th.

Hit the jump to watch the new The Theory of Everything trailer, and click here to read Phil’s review from TIFF and here’s my video interview with Felicity Jones.  The film also stars David Thewlis, Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, and Emily Watson.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2014: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones Shine in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

by     Posted 101 days ago

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As I said in yesterday’s Oscar Beat article focusing on The Imitation Game, the awards season is always prime time for biopics.  At the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival—which acts as a sort of launching pad for much of the season’s awards fare—there were two high-profile films based on the lives of historical figures that screened for audiences.  The Imitation Game took the non-traditional route, turning the life of Alan Turing into a sort of spy thriller, while the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything is pretty standard as far as the genre goes (read Phil’s review here).  However, director James Marsh’s drama is rendered highly emotional by two absolutely stellar lead performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, which will undoubtedly land them in the frontlines of the Oscar conversation.  More after the jump.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Images Featuring Eddie Redmayne; Plus Chris Evans on the Set of BEFORE WE GO

by     Posted 104 days ago

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With the Toronto International Film Festival now well underway, the reviews are starting to come in and we’re also getting more images from the official selections as well.  Here’s what we’ve got coming at a glance:

  • The Theory of Everything – (Directed by James Marsh) Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, and Emily Watson.
  • Before We Go - (Directed by Chris Evans) Starring Chris Evans and Alice Eve.

Hit the jump to check out the new The Theory of Everything images as well as some behind-the-scenes shots from Before We Go.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Trailer: Eddie Redmayne Is Stephen Hawking

by     Posted 135 days ago

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Focus Features has released the first The Theory of Everything trailer for director James Marsh’s (Man on Wire) adaptation of the Stephen Hawking memoir Travelling to Infinity, written by his wife Jane Hawking.  The film stars Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables) as Hawking, chronicling his budding relationship with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wide (Felicity Jones), heartbreaking motor neuron disease diagnosis at the age of 21, and groundbreaking scientific work in the field of time.  I really can’t decide if this looks painfully cheesy (there appears to be a scene with Hawking trying to claw his way up stairs) or somewhat moving.  I hope it’s the latter and the movie’s not going to go for cheap sentiment.

Hit the jump to watch the Theory of Everything trailer.  Also starring David Thewlis and Emily Watson, the film will have its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival next month and opens in theaters on November 7th.

Colin Firth Says James Marsh is Attached to the Donald Crowhurst Movie; Aiming to Shoot Next Year

by     Posted 155 days ago

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It’s been nearly a year since our last post about the untitled Donald Crowhurst movie, but there are plans for it to move forward.  In an effort to revitalize his failing business, Crowhurst entered the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a solo yacht race around the world.  Crowhurst had a rough time right from the start, so in order to steer clear of being totally humiliated, he cheated.  He reported false positions for months hoping he could slip back into the race down the line without anyone noticing.  On June 29, 1969, Crowhurst delivered his last transmission and was never seen or heard from again.

As of November 2013, both Colin Firth and Kate Winslet were in early talks to star in the film, Firth as Crowhurst and Winslet as his wife, Clare.  We never got any confirmation that the pair signed on the dotted line, but apparently Firth is still very much attached because while talking about his July 25th release, Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight, Firth told us the Crowhurst movie is aiming to shoot in the spring of 2015 with Man on Wire director James March attached.  Hit the jump for more.

SHADOW DANCER Review

by     Posted 1 year, 202 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  Shadow Dancer opens today in limited release.]

It’s great when movies are a slow burn, but to qualify for that description there needs to be at least some heat. James Marsh‘s Shadow Dancer moves at a glacial pace and barely does anything to build tension. There’s hardly any urgency and no interest in the intrigue. A compelling lead performance is essential to making a film like this working, but actress Andrea Riseborough meanders through her role and fails to convey any deeper emotions or conflict. Some movies can be effective “anti-thrillers” where they play against expectations and still manage to generate drama. Shadow Dancer just seems to be against thrills.

Robert Pattinson to Star in HOLD ON TO ME with Carey Mulligan [Updated with Official Synopsis]

by     Posted 2 years, 63 days ago

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Once The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 debuts a month from today, all of this Twilight hoopla is going to go away and poor Robert Pattinson will be left without a job.  Good thing he’s landed a showy supporting role in Hold On to Me from Oscar-winning documentary director James Marsh (Man On Wire).  Pattinson has signed on to co-star alongside Carey Mulligan (Drive) in the pic that was formerly titled, Nancy and Danny.  The picture is based on a true life account of a couple’s kidnapping of their town’s richest man that goes awry.  Hit the jump for more on Hold On to Me. [Update: Check out the official synopsis after the jump.]

Carey Mulligan in Talks to Star in Dark Comedy Thriller NANCY AND DANNY, Elle Fanning to Topline Adaptation of Newbury Award-Winning Novel OLIVE’S OCEAN

by     Posted 2 years, 125 days ago

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More casting bits to share with you today.  Here they are in brief:

  • Carey Mulligan (Drive) is in negotiations to star in the dark comedy thriller, Nancy and DannyJames Marsh (Man on a Wire) is on board to direct from a Brad Ingelsby script.
  • Elle Fanning (Super 8) is set to star in Olive’s Ocean, an adaptation of Kevin Henke’s 2004 Newbury Award-winning young adult novel by the same name.

Hit the jump for more details on both projects.

PROJECT NIM DVD Review

by     Posted 2 years, 308 days ago

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With British documentary maker James Marsh’s often wild mix of genuine footage and re-creations, in lesser hands his movies could easily slip into something approaching an episode of Cops.  But luckily, as he proved with the Oscar-winning Man on a Wire and now again with Project Nim, he has the ability to blend the formats into an engaging narrative that pushes the definition of documentary filmmaking without ever breaking them down completely. In Nim, he tells the epic and often harrowing tale of a chimpanzee who becomes a pawn caught in the middle of the nature vs. nurture debate with visual verve and a genuine flair for storytelling.  You can read Matt’s review of the film from Sundance 2011 here. Hit the jump for a review of Project Nim on DVD.

Sundance 2012: SHADOW DANCER Review

by     Posted 2 years, 324 days ago

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It’s great when movies are a slow burn, but to qualify for that description there needs to be at least some heat.  James Marsh‘s Shadow Dancer moves at a glacial pace and barely does anything to build tension.  There’s hardly any urgency and no interest in the intrigue.  A compelling lead performance is essential to making a film like this working, but actress Andrea Riseborough meanders through her role and fails to convey any deeper emotions or conflict.  Some movies can be effective “anti-thrillers” where they play against expectations and still manage to generate drama.  Shadow Dancer just seems to be against thrills.

Michel Hazanavicius Wins Feature Film Directors Guild Award for THE ARTIST

by     Posted 2 years, 324 days ago

The Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year will go to The Artist. It’s over. Call off the dogs. The little silent film that could will be crowned the winner at next month’s ceremony. After riding a pretty solid frontrunner status throughout the past two months, the film has now picked up two of the most important Oscar precursor awards: the Producers Guild Award and the Directors Guild Award. Michel Hazanavicius was given the Best Feature Film director award at last night’s DGA ceremony, besting the likes of Hugo’s Martin Scorsese and The DescendantsAlexander Payne.

The writing has been on the wall for a while now, but with the PGA and DGA in hand, there’s virtually zero chance of anything upsetting The Artist for Best Picture. I’m not saying Hazanavicius isn’t deserving of the DGA, as his crafting of the silent pic is certainly commendable (though I’m partial to Scorsese’s work on Hugo), I’m just pointing out that we’re most likely in for an incredibly predictable ceremony come next month. Hit the jump to see the full list of DGA winners in both film and television. The 84th Academy Awards will be held February 26th.

Directors Guild Award Documentary Nominees Announced; includes PROJECT NIM, THE INTERRUPTERS, and Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison Doc

by     Posted 2 years, 341 days ago

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On the heels of announcing their nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2011, the Directors Guild of America have announced their nominations for Best Documentary Director.  The nominees are Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky for Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Steve James for The Interrupters, James Marsh for Project Nim, Richard Press for Bill Cunningham New York, and Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World.  Scorsese also picked up DGA nomination this year for Hugo, which brings his total number of nominations to ten.  He previously won for The Departed.

While I’m rooting for Project Nim, this is a fine collection of nominees.  It’s much better than the Academy’s short list, which only includes Project Nim, Paradise Lost 3, and Bill Cunningham New York.  The winner of the DGA’s 2011 Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary will be announced January 28th.

PROJECT NIM Review

by     Posted 3 years, 164 days ago

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[This review is a re-post of the review I posted at Sundance.  I'm re-posting it because Project Nim opens in theaters today and it's one of the best films I've seen all year.]

What separates men from beasts?  What at first seems like an easy question yields no obvious answer in the captivating and fascinating documentary, Project Nim.  Nim was a chimpanzee who was ripped away from his mother in the early 1970s and put into an experiment to see if he could communicate with sign language provided if he was raised and treated like a human child.  What was already a tricky proposition became almost impossible when combined with the bizarre and dubious cast of characters who surrounded the young chimp.  Through magnificent use of re-enactments, interviews, and powerful archive footage, Project Nim is a film that not only has you turning over questions on the nature of humanity, but it also inspires laughter, shock, revulsion, and heartbreak in seeing how Nim swings between dangerous animal and lovable companion.

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