THE MONUMENTS MEN Review

by     Posted 167 days ago

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In his past films, George Clooney has shown himself to be surprisingly deft at working with genre and mood.  Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is a stunning directorial debut that melds comedy, paranoia, tragedy, and drama, and his following works all have a smart, sensible core (although I’ll admit his previous picture, The Ides of March is slightly shaky).  Unfortunately, his confident direction is nowhere to be found in his latest film, The Monuments Men.  The story is scattershot in structure, narrative, and tone.  The premise is fascinating, but Clooney can never seem to find the right angle, and it’s unclear if we’re watching a drama with comedic elements or a rousing World War II picture with moments of tragedy.  There’s almost a total lack of cohesion, and while Clooney is occasionally able to regain control of the picture, the best moments rely almost entirely on the performances.

George Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bob Balaban, John Goodman and Producer Grant Heslov Talk THE MONUMENTS MEN

by     Posted 170 days ago

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Opening February 7th, George Clooney’s exciting action drama The Monuments Men features an impressive ensemble cast that brings to life the untold but true story of courageous people who risked everything to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves.  Set during World War II, the movie is based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter and centers on one of the greatest treasure hunts in history.  It also shines a light and a perspective on very well-known historical facts.

At the film’s recent press day, we participated in a press conference with Clooney, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bob Balaban, John Goodman and producer Grant Heslov.  They spoke about wanting to make an entertaining movie that also deals with a very serious subject matter, what they found inspiring about portraying their characters, their experience working in Berlin, Clooney’s evolution as a director, why he enjoys stepping behind the camera now more than acting, what Heslov and he look for in a project, how he pranked Damon by altering his wardrobe during production, the importance of protecting art and preserving our cultural legacy, the impact of this movie moving forward and how the Monuments Men are still at work today.  Check out the interview after the jump.

20 New Images from George Clooney’s THE MONUMENTS MEN Featuring Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Cate Blanchett

by     Posted 176 days ago

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Sony Pictures has released a slew of new high-resolution images from George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, the WWII drama The Monuments Men.  Based on a true story, the film revolves around a group of museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians tasked with rescuing the world’s artistic masterpieces before the Nazi army destroys them.  Clooney has repeatedly stated that this film is his effort at tackling less cynical material than his previous directorial projects, and he’s put together a fantastic ensemble to bring this story to life.

Hit the jump to check out the new images, and click here to watch five clips from the pic.  Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett star.  The Monuments Men opens February 7th.

AMERICAN HUSTLE Wins SAG Best Ensemble Award; Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong’O, and Jared Leto Take Home Trophies

by     Posted 186 days ago

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The Screen Actors Guild Awards took place earlier this evening, and the performance-centric American Hustle won the big Best Ensemble prize.  That wasn’t a huge shock given the amount of talent on display in David O. Russell’s film and the fact that Hustle landed an Oscar nomination in every single acting category.  Elsewhere at the SAGs, Matthew McConaughey continues to look more and more like an Oscar winner with another Best Actor trophy, 12 Years a Slave breakout Lupita Nyong’O won Best Supporting Actress, and Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto won their umpteenth Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor awards, respectively.  On the TV side of things, Breaking Bad won Best Dramatic Ensemble and Modern Family won Best Comedic Ensemble.

Hit the jump for the full list of winners, and take note in your respective Oscar pools.

12 YEARS A SLAVE Takes Home Best Picture at Critics Choice Awards; GRAVITY, AMERICAN HUSTLE, and LONE SURIVOR Win Genre Awards

by     Posted 188 days ago

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The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards were announced tonight, and 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture.  The Critics’ Choice Awards have lined up with the Oscars in six of the last seven Best Pictures, but it’s worth noting that the Broadcast Film Critics Association spread the wealth around with genre awards to the other Oscar favorites, Gravity (Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie) and American Hustle (Best Comedy).  Lone Survivor only managed two Oscar nominations for the sound categories, but found some love here as the Best Action Movie.

Hit the jump for the full list of winners, including ten different acting awards.

Watch 5 Clips from THE MONUMENTS MEN Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett

by     Posted 188 days ago

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Five clips have been released for George Clooney’s The Monuments Men.  For those who are unfamiliar with the film, it’s based on a true story about soldiers and historians who have to go to Germany during World War II to rescue artistic masterpieces before the Nazis destroy them.  We previously reported that Clooney was trying to find the right tone for the film between the comedic and dramatic aspects, and so perhaps these clips will give people a slightly better idea of what to expect.

Hit the jump to check out the clips.  The film stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate BlanchettJean DujardinHugh Bonneville, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, and Bill MurrayThe Monuments Men opens February 7th.

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

by     Posted 188 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 190 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.

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

by     Posted 209 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.

New Trailer for THE MONUMENTS MEN Plays as a World War II Newsreel and Leads to Real Tip Line about Stolen Art

by     Posted 212 days ago

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20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures have released a fun spin on the trailer for The Monuments Men by doing it in the style of a World War II newsreel.  For those who are unfamiliar with the film, it’s based on a true story about soldiers and historians who have to go to Germany during World War II to rescue artistic masterpieces before they’re destroyed by the Nazis.  What’s really surprising about this trailer is that it provides a phone number at the end that actually works.  I was expecting to get a recorded message plugging the movie, but if you call 1-866-WWII-ART you can get a real person on the line.  When I called the number, I expressed my surprise to the person I spoke to, and she explained that the number is for people who believe they might have a lead on art that was stolen by the Nazis or lost during the war.  There’s also a website, supportthemonumentsmen.com, that has more useful information.  I’m surprised and delighted that the studios put something of substance into their marketing.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  The film stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate BlanchettJean DujardinHugh Bonneville, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, and Bill MurrayThe Monuments Men opens February 7, 2014.

First Trailer for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 Featuring the Voices of Jay Baruchel and Cate Blanchett

by     Posted 216 days ago

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The first trailer for DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 is now available. The movie picks up five years after the first installment, and has Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless exploring new territories while the rest of his friends are enjoying dragon races.  During one of Hiccup and Toothless’ journeys, they discover a secret ice cave, hundreds of new wild dragons, and the mysterious Dragon Rider.  The new trailer features the adorable relationship between Hiccup and Toothless, daring heroics, flight scenes that could be pretty incredible in 3D, and a big revelation regarding the history of the Dragon Rider.  This sequel continues to be one of my most-anticipated of 2014.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer.  The film also features the voices of Cate Blanchett, Gerard ButlerKit HaringtonCraig FergusonAmerica FerreraJonah HillChristopher Mintz-PlasseT.J. MillerDjimon Hounsou, and Kristen Wiig.  How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in 3D on June 13, 2014.

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

by     Posted 219 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 Look at Cate Blanchette’s Character from HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 Plus New Details on the Story

by     Posted 219 days ago

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DreamWorks Animation has released a new image from one of my most-anticipated films of 2014, How to Train Your Dragon 2.  The image gives us our first look at “Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchette), a maverick Dragon Rider who lives as a recluse in the Arctic and becomes a mentor of sorts” to Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who is, as we’ve seen from the poster and trailer, older and hotter.  Director Dean DeBlois says Valka is “Somebody living with the animals and learning to communicate with them in non-verbal ways and becoming much like a dragon herself,” and “Her years of isolation and dealing with nothing but dragons and being very sympathetic to them has made her very distrusting of humans.”  As for the dragon she rides, Valka flies around on “Cloudjumper” who “has owl mannerisms and a second set of wings under his main ones that ‘can actually splay and become an X-wing’.”

Hit the jump to see the full image and to learn more about the plot.  The film also features the voices of Gerard Butler, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Djimon Hounsou, and Kristen WiigHow to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in 3D on June 13, 2014.

Los Angeles, Boston, and New York Online Critics Announce Awards; HER and GRAVITY Tie for Best Picture in LA Awards

by     Posted 227 days ago

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The critics group awards are off and running.  Last week we saw the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, and the Boston Online Critics announce their annual awards, and today we have three more groups to add to the pile.  12 Years a Slave won Best Picture in the Boston and New York Online groups, but the Los Angeles voting resulted in a tie for Best Picture between Gravity and HerAlfonso Cuaron took Best Director in the Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Online awards, while Boston went for 12 Years a Slave’s Steve McQueen.  While many votes seemed to be in line with early predictions, James Franco shared the Best Supporting Actor moniker in the Los Angeles group for his work in Spring Breakers.

If there’s one takeaway from the critics group awards we’ve seen thus far, it’s that Spike Jonze’s Her has a heavy amount of love in the film community, which could very well translate to Oscar.  Hit the jump to read the full list of winners for all three groups, as well as the runners up for the L.A. and Boston awards.

12 YEARS A SLAVE Sweeps Boston Online Film Critics Awards with Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actress

by     Posted 228 days ago

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Oscar frontrunner 12 Years a Slave has nabbed its first critics group award in a very big way.  The Boston Online Film Critics Association awarded the incredibly moving drama six trophies in all, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Editing, and Best Original Score for Hans Zimmer.  Clear frontrunner Cate Blanchett continued her roll with another Best Actress award, Jared Leto landed Best Supporting Actor for his transformative work in Dallas Buyers Club, and the Best Animated Film trophy was split between Frozen and The Wind Rises.  Additionally, the Boston Online Film Critics Top 10 has a few refreshingly eclectic choices, with The World’s End, Blue Is the Warmest Color, and The Spectacular Now all nabbing well-deserved spots alongside films like Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Inside Llewyn Davis.

For those keeping score at home, we now have three critics group announcements and three different Best Pictures.  The New York Film Critics Circle went for American Hustle, the National Board of Review lauded Her, and now Boston has tapped 12 Years.  Hit the jump to read the full list of Boston Online Film Critics awards.

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