2014 Oscar Nominations Announced; AMERICAN HUSTLE and GRAVITY Lead with 10 Nominations Each [Updated with Commentary]

by     Posted 93 days ago

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The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. American Hustle and Gravity lead with 10 nominations each, while 12 Years a Slave isn’t too far behind with 9 nominations.  Looking over my predictions, there weren’t actually too many surprises this morning–at least no genuine “snubs” on the scale of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow last year.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale made the Best Actor cut over Robert Redford and Tom HanksHer, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philomena all got Best Picture nominations over Saving Mr. Banks, and Sally Hawkins landed a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in Blue Jasmine, seemingly taking Oprah Winfrey‘s spot from Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Also, the Academy apparently did not take a liking to Saving Mr. Banks, as the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination and a Best Actress nomination for Emma Thompson.

Hit the jump to take a look at the full nominations list.  The 86th Oscars will be broadcast March 2nd on ABC. [Update: I've added my commentary on some of the categories after the jump.]

Adam Predicts the 2014 Oscar Nominees

by     Posted 95 days ago

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Well, folks, the time has finally come.  I’ve been covering this year’s awards season since last fall when we launched our awards column Oscar Beat, and after running through the ups and downs of the season thus far, it’s now time to predict which films, performances, screenplays, and other cinematic achievements from 2013 the Academy will choose to single out.  I feel very confident about some of my choices while others feel like more of a crapshoot.  One thing’s for sure: this has been quite an interesting season thus far, and there’s still no consensus with regards to some of the big winners.

Hit the jump as I take a stab at predicting the 2014 Oscar nominees.  The nominations will be announced at 5:30am PST on January 16th.

New Trailer for HBO’s TRUE DETECTIVE Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

by     Posted 107 days ago

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Anticipation was already pretty high for HBO’s upcoming anthology series True Detective starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, but the recent reviews heaping effusive praise on the show’s first few episodes have made the wait for next Sunday even more excruciating.  In an effort to ease some of the pain, HBO has released another new trailer for the eight-episode drama, which revolves around the lives of two detectives during a seventeen-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.  Director Cary Fukunaga—who helmed every episode himself—looks to have put together a gorgeously haunting design for the show, and I can’t wait to tune in for the first installment next weekend.

Hit the jump to watch the new trailer.  Also starring Michelle Monaghan, Alexandra Daddario, Kevin Dunn, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Potts, and Tory Kittles, True Detective premieres on HBO Sunday, January 12th at 9/8c.

Year in Review: Best Performances, Direction, and Other Miscellany of 2013

by     Posted 114 days ago

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Over the past week, we’ve been looking back on 2013 and trying to whittle down what we thought were the “best” of the year.  Obviously, this is all subjective.  There is no mathematical formula at work.  I feel I shouldn’t have to state this, but there are people in the comments section who feel that everything should be appraised “objectively”, which in this case would simply be “These are five actors who starred in movies” or “These are five people who directed movies”.  The debate comes over who can be considered the best in their respective fields.  Who gave a performance that we still can’t shake?  Who put together a powerhouse of a picture?  Who created the score we’re still humming?  Who was the bane of our protagonists?  Who’s on the cusp of the A-list?  These are fun questions to ask, and hopefully they’ll stir up some fun (and respectful) debate.

Hit the jump for my miscellaneous “Best of 2013″ picks.  Check back from December 28 – 30th for the Top 10 Films of 2013 lists from me, Adam, and Dave.

12 YEARS A SLAVE and AMERICAN HUSTLE Lead Critics Choice Award Nominations

by     Posted 124 days ago

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The Broadcast Film Critics Association has unveiled its list of nominees for the upcoming Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle lead the pack with 13 nominations each—though three of Hustle’s nominations come from “Comedy” categories.  The BFCA added some genre categories last year for Action, Sci-Fi/Horror, and Comedy, so the list of nominations is a bit more diverse than those we’ve seen previously.  That being said, Brie Larson made the overall Best Actress cut for her excellent turn in Short Term 12, and it’s nice to finally see The World’s End and star Simon Pegg getting some attention (nicer still that BFCA recognizes actual comedies in the Best Comedy category, unlike the Golden Globes).  Other notable additions include Scarlett Johansson nabbing a Best Supporting Actress nod for her voice-only role in Her and Christian Bale landing a Best Actor nomination for the aforementioned American Hustle.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of nominations and to find out how closely the Critics’ Choice Awards correlate with Oscar.  The 19th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will be held on January 16, 2014.

First Trailer for Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR

by     Posted 126 days ago

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Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for director Christopher Nolan’s new film Interstellar.  The sci-fi pic stars Matthew McConaughey and revolves around a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole “to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.”  Though this teaser trailer features very, very little footage from the still in-production film, it’s a surprisingly moving piece that draws on the human spirit’s drive to keep moving forward.  I’ll say no more and let you experience the teaser for yourself, but the prospect of seeing Nolan further explore these themes in the full film is definitely exciting.

Hit the jump to watch the teaser trailer.  The film also stars Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, David Oyelowo, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, David Gyasi, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Timothée Chalamet, and Matt DamonInterstellar opens November 7, 2014.

New Teaser Trailers for TRUE DETECTIVE Highlight Lead Characters Played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey

by     Posted 137 days ago

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My expectations for True Detective are becoming unfair.  I have to keep telling myself that there are plenty of serial killer shows on TV right now, and just because this one stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey and is directed by Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre), that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good.  But then I see these ominous teaser trailers and I can’t help but be intrigued because this looks like it will be like nothing else on television.  The framing device is two detectives (played by Harrelson and McConaughey) investigating a serial killer and then talking about it seventeen years later.  These new teasers provide a better look at the main characters, and once again convey the show’s unsettling vibe.

Hit the jump to check out the teasers.  True Detective premieres January 12th on HBO at 9/8c.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Wins Best Picture at Gotham Awards; Matthew McConaughey, Brie Larson, and Michael B. Jordan Take Home Acting Awards

by     Posted 138 days ago

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The Gotham Awards, established to honor the best in independent film, have announced the 2013 winners.  The Coen Brothers‘s Inside Llewyn Davis won Best Picture.  Matthew McConaughey took home Best Actor for his performance in Dallas Buyers ClubShort Term 12‘s Brie Larson beat out prohibitive Oscar favorite Cate Blanchett for Best Actress.  Fruitvale Station dominated the “breakthrough” categories: Ryan Coogler won Breakthrough Director for his first feature and star Michael B. Jordan won Breakthrough Actor.  The Act of Killing rounds out the awards with a win for Best Documentary.

Hit the jump for the full list of nominees and winners.

12 YEARS A SLAVE and NEBRASKA Top 2014 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

by     Posted 144 days ago

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The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations have been announced, and director Steve McQueen’s excellent drama 12 Years a Slave tops the nominees with seven nods, including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Actor.  Nebraska is not far behind with six nominations, and the Robert Redford drama All Is Lost also did well with four nods.  The much-beloved Short Term 12 failed to land a Best Feature nomination, but Primer director Shane Carruth’s twisty second feature Upstream Color landed nods for Best Director and Best Editing.  The Best Actor category is a strong mirror of the very tight Oscar race in the same category, and the wonderful Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress nominations for The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12, respectively.

Hit the jump for the full list of nominations and additional commentary.  The Independent Spirit Awards will be hosted on March 1, 2014.

New Trailer for HBO’s TRUE DETECTIVE Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

by     Posted 145 days ago

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HBO has released a new trailer for its upcoming anthology series True Detective.  Directed by Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre), the eight-episode event stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two detectives whose lives collide and entwine during a seventeen-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case has been reopened.  While the previous teasers have been excellent mood pieces, this new trailer delves a bit more into the intriguing plot while continuing to promise a pair of swell performances from the lead actors.

Hit the jump to watch the new trailer.  True Detective premiered Sunday, January 12th at 9/8c.

Oscar Beat: The Best Actor Race – Acting Veterans Square Off Against McConaughey, Ejiofor, and More

by     Posted 158 days ago

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In the last few months of covering this year’s awards race, it’s become very clear that the 2014 Oscars are going to be one of the most competitive in recent memory.  Nowhere is this more clear than in the Best Actor category, which already seems to have congealed into a solid list of five extremely likely candidates with a number of others waiting in the wings to play the spoiler.  As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and the race starts to firm up, now seems like a good time to start taking a closer look at the individual categories in the 2014 Oscar race.

In today’s edition of Oscar Beat, we begin with the Best Actor category, which will see a couple of acting legends challenging the rise of McConaughey, powerful performances depicting historically important characters, Leo, and more.  Read on after the jump.

Matthew McConaughey Talks DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, the 16-Year Process of Getting the Film Made, Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR, and More

by     Posted 158 days ago

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Now playing in theaters is Jean-Marc Vallée’s drama Dallas Buyers Club.  Based on a true story, the film stars Matthew McConaughey as a Texas electrician who, after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, began to smuggle alternative and illegal treatments into the US and into the hands of other patients, along with his business partner, a transgender AIDS patient brilliantly played by Jared Leto.  While I’ve seen a lot of great performances this year, McConaughey and Leto are at the top of the list.  Both give the film their heart and soul and they will both be rewarded with nominations during award season.  Dallas Buyers Club is not to be missed.  The film also stars Jennifer Garner, Denis O’HareSteve ZahnMichael O’NeillDallas RobertsGriffin Dunne, and Kevin Rankin.

During the Toronto press day for the film, I was able to speak with McConaughey.  He talked about trying to make the film for 16 years, financing problems, how eight days before shooting they still didn’t have the money, working with Jared Leto, what it’s been like working with Christopher Nolan on Interstellar, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

TOP 5: THOR: THE DARK WORLD, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, Marvel Live-Action Series Coming to Netflix, 47 RONIN Set Visit, Blockbuster Video Is Dead

by     Posted 161 days ago

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Although I hate to naysay, I’ve gone on record several times with my lack of excitement for the upcoming RoboCop remake (here’s one example although I’m sure there are more). This past week MGM and Sony released the new trailer for the film and while I think the cast has the potential to be great, in general the movie just keeps digging itself into a bigger hole with every bit of new footage that I see. Whereas Paul Verhoeven‘s original was laced with social critique that was often ahead of its time if not at least skillfully deployed, this latest trailer goes out of its way to show that it too has something to say about social issues with on the nose references to the idea of using American resources to promote peace abroad rather than at home and the invasive nature of corporate marketing/branding. You keep up with current affairs, we get it. Speaking of marketing, probably my biggest beef with this latest cut comes in its final seconds when it shows RoboCop making a grandiose landing that essentially says “You guys liked the Iron Man movies, right?! You should definitely check this out then because it has a guy in a futuristic suit too!”. Thanks but no thanks, MGM and Sony.

Now that I’ve levied more criticism on a 2:30 trailer than is likely fair, let’s move on to something more positive. This week’s Top 5 features Thor: The Dark World interviews with Tom Hiddleston and more, Dallas Buyers Club interviews with the likes of Jared Leto, the news that Marvel will bring live-action series to Netflix featuring Daredevil and others, a recap of Steve’s 47 Ronin set visit, and a farewell to the once massive video rental chain, Blockbuster Video. If I haven’t lost you yet, a brief recap and link to each of the above can be found after the jump.

Matthew McConaughey Talks DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, Approaching His Portrayal of Woodruff, Researching the Role, and His Dramatic Weight Loss

by     Posted 169 days ago

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Matthew McConaughey delivers a riveting performance in Dallas Buyers Club portraying the real-life Ron Woodruff, a homophobic Rodeo cowboy and electrician who suddenly, incredibly found himself on the front lines of the AIDS pandemic.  Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee from a screenplay by Craig Borten based on true events, the film chronicles how Woodruff received a death sentence but defied the odds by fighting for survival and making discoveries that changed him and helped him inspire others.  Opening November 1st, the compelling drama also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto.

At our roundtable interview, McConaughey talked about having the opportunity to play several wonderful and very different roles recently in Magic Mike, Mud and Dallas Buyers Club, how he approached his portrayal of Woodruff as an imperfect man facing impending mortality whose self-interest is galvanized into something much more, how the script evolved during production, the accelerated shooting schedule, his research and preparation for the role, the surprising discoveries he made while reading Woodruff’s personal diary, how his dramatic weight loss helped him focus, and what he has coming up next including Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and his new HBO’s dramatic series True Detective with Woody Harrelson.  Hit the jump to read the interview. 

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB Review

by     Posted 169 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.  Dallas Buyers Club opens today in limited release.]

In the early 1990s America was finally beginning to understand the AIDS epidemic, and realizing it affected more than homosexuals. Films such as Philadelphia and plays such as Angels in America began dealing with the subject manner in a serious, upright, careful manner. AIDS was physically devastating, the human cost was visible, and this art could make the pain tangible but had to so with a delicate touch. The stakes were too high and the American public’s understanding was too fragile. But the people who helped combat HIV, the people in the trenches, were rebels. They didn’t fit into the neat, clean box mainstream culture was hoping to present. But now that AIDS has become manageable, the rebels are getting their due, and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club celebrates the charming, irritating, uncouth Ron Woodroof through a narrative that occasionally punches with kid gloves, but always lands a hit thanks to the stellar performances from stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

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