Oscar Beat: The Best Director Race at a Glance

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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.

Toby Kebbell Talks DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, Duncan Jones’ WARCRAFT, His Version of Doctor Doom in FANTASTIC FOUR, and More

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With Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes arriving on DVD and Blu-ray December 2nd, I got the opportunity to sit down with Toby Kebbell to talk about the film.  As I’ve said again and again, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is easily one of my favorite films of 2014.  It’s the rare commercial movie that’s deep and thoughtful and it’s also atypical in that it tells a complete story while keeping the door open for another sequel.

During the interview Kebbell talked about developing his character with Andy Serkis, what it was like playing an ape, his motion-capture experience, what it was like working with Duncan Jones on Warcraft, his version of Doctor Doom in director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, and a lot more.  Hit the jump for what he had to say and click here to pre-order the Blu-ray on Amazon.

Andy Serkis Says He Worked With Dancers to Give Ultron Life In AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and Used Weights to Turn Mark Ruffalo Into the Hulk

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Now that we’ve seen the extended trailer, we know that Avengers: Age of Ultron will be bigger than its predecessor and, seemingly, much more cinematic.  We’ve also got a good sense of what James Spader‘s Ultron will look and act like (which was sort of a mystery to people like me who haven’t read many Marvel comics).  Andy Serkis, who we all know at this point as the reigning celebrity of motion capture (as well as narrator of the new Star Wars trailer), worked a lot on the character as well and helped shape his movements.  He recently discussed that process, along with what it takes to make Mark Ruffalo look like the Hulk.

Hit the jump to check out Serkis’ comments on the mo-cap in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The film opens in 3D on May 1, 2015 and also stars Robert Downey Jr.Chris EvansScarlett JohanssonChris Hemsworth, Jeremy RennerElizabeth OlsenAaron Taylor-JohnsonPaul BettanyDon CheadleAndy Serkis and Samuel L. Jackson.

Colin Trevorrow Talks About the New Dinosaurs In JURASSIC WORLD; Official Site Updated

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While I’m fine overall with the Jurassic World trailer teaser (my only real issue was the incomplete CG, which isn’t a complaint at all considering the fact it will all be done in time for the release of the finished film), a few people had some nagging questions about the giant aquatic dinosaur and the seemingly friendly nature of the Velociraptors Chris Pratt rides with in the final shot of the teaser.

But now director Colin Trevorrow (after addressing some of the CG concerns earlier this week) has endeavored to answer a few of those questions.  Hit the jump for what he has to say about the new dinosaurs in the film.  Jurassic World is due in theaters in 2D, 3D and IMAX on June 12, 2015.  The film also stars Bryce Dallas HowardNick RobinsonTy SimpkinsVincent D’OnofrioIrrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy and Judy Greer.   Also, the film’s official site has been updated to provide a more comprehensive look at the park.

Breaking Down the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer: Why Is John Boyega in a Storm Trooper Outfit? And Other Burning Questions

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You’ve no doubt watched the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer a couple of times now.  The teaser is a fantastic introduction to the J.J. Abrams-led new era of the saga, and as with all good teasers, this one has left us with a lot of very exciting questions.  The film’s release is still over a year away so it will likely be a while before much of the story is illuminated (and thankfully so—the less we know going in, the better), but there are still some reasonable assumptions that can be made from the very brief footage gleaned in this debut trailer.

After the jump, we break down some of the major points of the Force Awakens trailer and try to addresses burning questions like why is John Boyega in a storm trooper outfit?  What’s Oscar Isaac doing in a fighter ship?  Isn’t that new lightsaber incredibly dangerous?  Speculate along with us below.

THE BABADOOK Review

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  The Babadook opens today in limited release.]

One of the great things about film festivals is that you can go in cold to almost anything. There’s been little to no advertising, and you make choices based partially on what’s available at a certain time and partially on word-of-mouth. Yesterday, I needed to fill in a gap in my schedule, and I remembered two of my friends had seen and liked The Babadook. I didn’t actually ask them what they liked about it or anything at all about the plot. My assumption: That’s a funny title, so I bet it will be a funny movie! And I was oh so very wrong. Writer-director Jennifer Kent has created a thoroughly creepy, nerve-wracking horror film with old-fashioned scare tactics. However, Kent does her job so well that eventually The Babadook burns itself out as it keeps trying to claw away at our nerves.

BOYHOOD Tops Sight & Sound’s 20 Best Films of 2014 List

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It’s nearly December, which means awards are a’comin.  The New York Film Critics Circle will kick off the slew of critics group awards next week, but the folks over at the UK-based Sight & Sound have gotten a jump on everyone by announcing their Top 20 today.  Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking drama Boyhood tops the list, and it’s hard to argue with that choice.  The film is a favorite to land a number of Oscar nods, but I’ll be very curious to see which movie(s) the critics groups rally around throughout December.  Coming in second place in the Sight & Sound poll is Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D, with Under the Skin landing at #5 and films like Whiplash, Birdman, and the Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour also making the list.

Check out the full Sight & Sound Top 20 of 2014 after the jump. 

Over 40 STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Images From the Trailer Show a Rebuilt Universe

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It’s not a bad job when you find yourself watching the  Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dozens of times on a Friday morning for work.  As a teaser, it’s fantastic.  I was a little disappointed not to see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher or Harrison Ford, but I suppose J.J. Abrams wants to introduce us to the newer merits of his story first.  It contains a lot more action than I expected, that’s for sure.  The teaser was a million miles away from the “reveal of characters” scroll I was expecting, instead plummeting us into action on several different worlds and revealing the background of John Boyega‘s character.  This world feels tactile, lived in and not at all like the prequels.  All good stuff.

Hit the jump for Star Wars: The Force Awakens images.  The film is due in theaters on December 18th, 2015 and also stars Daisy RidleyAdam DriverLupita Nyong’o, Oscar IsaacDomhnall GleesonAndy SerkisGwendoline Christie and many more.  And be sure to check out the trailer if you haven’t already.

4 New High-Resolution STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Images

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Fresh off the most anticipated trailer debut in recent memory, Disney has released the very first Star Wars: The Force Awakens images in high-resolution format.  They don’t reveal anything that wasn’t shown in the trailer (obviously—we’re still a year away from release, folks!), but they do provide some nice static looks at what are presumably our new heroes of the Star Wars saga: the characters played by John Boyega (Attack the Block) and relative newcomer Daisy Ridley.  I have to say, even as someone who’s not a massive Star Wars fan, all of this is really exciting.  The first teaser was expertly cut, I’m loving the practical effects focus, and director J.J. Abrams looks to be in fine form behind the camera.  December 2015 seemed like such an easy wait just a few days ago, but after seeing this incredibly tantalizing footage, this is gonna be a long year.

Check out the high-resolution Star Wars: Episode VII images after the jump.  The film also stars Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Crystal Clarke, Pip Andersen, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny BakerStar Wars: The Force Awakens opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on December 18, 2015.

First STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer Reveals J.J. Abrams’ Sequel

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It’s here!  Disney has released the very first Star Wars: The Force Awakens for director J.J. Abrams‘ highly anticipated sequel, which falls into the franchise as Episode VII if anyone’s counting.  As far as teaser trailers go, this one is pretty incredible.  Abrams doesn’t simply rely on nostalgia to make this thing exciting, offering up tantalizing teases through some genuinely compelling filmmaking.  As far as character first-looks go, we can clearly see John BoyegaDaisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac as seemingly “good guys” in full costume, and then an obscured baddie (Adam Driver?), complete with voiceover narration from Andy Serkis (not Benedict Cumberbatch).  The money shot of the Millennium Falcon is spectacular, and overall I’m extremely enthused to see a heavy reliance on practical locations and effects work.  This is great, great stuff.

Watch the debut Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer after the jump, and click here to check out some new hi-res images.  The film also stars Harrison FordMark HamillCarrie FisherLupita Nyong’o, Oscar IsaacDomhnall GleesonGwendoline ChristieMax Von Sydow, and more.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18, 2015.

Geek Gifts: Criterion Designs Coffee-Table Book Showcases Gorgeous Criterion Cover Art

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It’s Thanksgiving, which means you’re already two weeks behind on your Christmas shopping (kidding…kind of).  Finding the perfect gift can be difficult, but we’ve got something to highlight today that every cinephile will love.  The wonderful folks at The Criterion Collection have released a coffee-table book called Criterion Designs that showcases the gorgeous artwork that has donned the Criterion covers for three decades.  The book not only features a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984, but it also offers up supplemental art and never-before-seen sketches for the unique designs that grace each Criterion.  Seriously, this thing is fantastic.

Check out some preview images of the book (along with a full list of artists) after the jump and click here to purchase the newly released hardcover for $71.21.

22 JUMP STREET Blu-ray Review

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Chris Miller and Phil Lord have a history of picking projects that shouldn’t work and turning them into winners, and the one that may have been the trickiest is22 Jump Street.  Where you can argue that people underrated the possibility that 21 Jump Street or The LEGO Movie could actually be good, with 22 Jump Street not only were they making a comedy sequel (usually a bad idea), but had to deliver something as good as the first one.  The shock is they actually made a comedy sequel that is as good (if not better) than the original.  Take that, Ghostbusters 2 and Anchorman: The Legend ContinuesJonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube return for what was the best mainstream film of this past summer, and my review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.

Thanksgiving Trailer for EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS Is Undeniably Epic

by     Posted 18 hours ago

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20th Century Fox has released a new Thanksgiving trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings to try and pull you out of that turkey coma.  The film is director Ridley Scott’s take on the Biblical story of Moses, and while the lack of diversity in the casting (and Scott’s doubling down on his choices) is troubling, there’s no denying that this new trailer is positively epic.  Scott has made an absolutely massive film here; one that harkens brings to mind the scale of Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator.  The visuals continue to be kind of spectacular, so now the question is whether Scott can bring something new to the table emotionally for this age-old story.

Check out the new Exodus: Gods and Kings trailer after the jump.  The film stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John TurturroAaron PaulBen MendelsohnSigourney Weaver and Ben KingsleyExodus: Gods and Kings opens in theaters in 3D and 2D on December 12th.

Go Caroling Minion-Style with a New MINIONS Holiday Promo Video

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While we’re all enjoying Thanksgiving, the Minions are getting a jumpstart on the holidays to come with a little caroling.  Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres just unveiled a brand new promo for Minions featuring Stuart, Kevin, Bob and co. doing their own very unique rendition of “Jingle Bells.”

Hit the jump to check out the video for yourself.  The Minions will be back on the big screen in their very own Despicable Me spin-off on July 10, 2015.  Minions is directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda and also features the voices of Jon Hamm and Sandra Bullock.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE Voice Cast Revealed

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Fittingly, 20th Century Fox chose today to reveal The Peanuts Movie voice cast.  The CG-animated feature comes from producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), director Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who!), and writer Craig Schulz, the son of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.  The footage we’ve seen thus far has been surprisingly promising, with the CG animation being done in a stylistic fashion.  But when it comes to the voice cast, you won’t find any big movie stars here (though it’d be kind of great if someone like Will Ferrell or Tina Fey provided the “wah wa-wah”’s of the adults).  The voice cast for the Peanuts Movie is mostly made up of young actors with experience in voiceover work, commercials, and kid-centric programming on The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.  Noah Schnapp, who just wrapped a role in Steven Spielberg’s untitled Cold War thriller, takes the lead role of Charlie Brown, while Sofia the First voice actress Hadley Belle Miller plays Lucy.

Check out the full list of The Peanuts Movie voice cast after the jump, which provides a bit more information on their roles.  Yes, all your favorites from the beloved comic strip appear.  The Peanuts Movie opens in 3D on November 6, 2015.

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