With the 84th Annual Academy Awards nearly one week into our past, I’d be interested in hearing from our readers what the one genuine surprise of the night was for them. For me, it was Meryl Streep’s Best Actress win. Now, don’t get me wrong, Streep is obviously an incredible actress who requires zero justification from a movie blogger. It’s just that, of all the award categories in question, I genuinely expected Viola Davis to win Best Actress. So, if you feel so inclined, sound off in the comments section below about your biggest surprise win/loss of the night. Sarcasm, including “your mom” responses, is encouraged.
In the bag of goodies that is this week’s “Top 5″ you’ll find the new trailer and a ton of new images from The Avengers, a new television spot for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a Prometheus viral video that reassures my suspicions that Guy Pearce could indeed take over the planet if he wanted to, interviews for The Lorax with Danny Devito, Ed Helms, and more, and all of our coverage from the set of Jason Segel and Emily Blunt‘s The Five-Year Engagement. A brief recap and link to each follows after the jump.
Back in late June, when director Nicholas Stoller’s The Five-Year Engagement was filming in Sonoma, California, I got to visit the set with a few other online reporters. If you’re not familiar with the film, Five-Year Engagement “looks at what happens when an engaged couple, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, keeps getting tripped up on the long walk down the aisle.” The film stars also stars Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, David Paymer, Mimi Kennedy, Jacki Weaver, Jim Piddock, Kevin Hart, Brian Posehn, Mindy Kaling, and many other familiar faces.
During our set visit interview with Jacki Weaver and Jim Piddock (who play Emily Blunt’s parents) they talked about the freedom of being on a set with so much improv, their characters’ relationships with the rest of the cast, Piddock’s character’s revolving door of Asian girlfriends, and a lot more. Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview
Emily Blunt is trying to find the perfect place to hold her wedding with Jason Segel. As she walks around a local bed and breakfast in Sonoma, California, she thinks she’s finally found it and starts to talk to the owner about price and dates. It’s at this point the owner starts to proposition her with some filthy language that I can’t write here. Startled but determined to use the location, she tries to persevere until he finally crosses the line. It’s at this point that everyone watching starts to laugh and writer-director Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) calls cut.
But let me back up a second.
In late June of last year, I got to visit the set of The Five-Year Engagement when the production was filming at the Beltane Ranch in Somona, California. In the film, the Ranch is going to be a local B&B called the Drunken Pig. If you’re not familiar with the story, Five-Year Engagement “looks at what happens when an engaged couple, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, keeps getting tripped up on the long walk down the aisle.” The film stars also stars Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, David Paymer, Mimi Kennedy, Jacki Weaver, Jim Piddock, Kevin Hart, Brian Posehn, Mindy Kaling, and many other familiar faces. Hit the jump for more.
Universal has debuted the first trailer for The Five-Year Engagement. Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and produced by Judd Apatow, the film follows a young couple’s extended engagement and the ups and downs they experience along the way. The trailer looks pretty great, as it’s very much what you’d expect from an Apatow production. Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt had me cracking up by the first 10 seconds, and Jason Segel and Emily Blunt look to have some superb comedic chemistry. Segel and Stoller co-wrote the pic and I’m really liking the feel of this “relationship comedy” so far. The supporting cast doesn’t hurt as well, with Alison Brie, Mindy Kaling, and Jacki Weaver rounding out the cast.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer and poster. If you missed Steve’s interview with Stoller where he talked about the test screening process of the film (which sounds very positive) click here. The Five-Year Engagement opens April 27th. [Update: We've been sent a high resolution version of the poster and two images which are now included after the jump].
It’s not often that romantic comedies and jewel heists occupy the same space in an article, but that’s where our casting news has taken us. First up is Jacki Weaver, nominated for an Oscar for her role in last year’s Animal Kingdom. Weaver is in negotiations to join the David O. Russell (The Fighter) adaptation, The Silver Linings Playbook. The film stars Bradley Cooper as a former high school teacher returning home from a four year stint in a mental institution to live with his mother, played by Weaver. Cast also includes Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.
Eric Bana (Hanna) is looking to join director Robert Luketic’s (21) heist-thriller, Brilliant. In a first time writing credit by Gillian Gorfil, who was a producer on Blood Diamond, the script involves a low-level criminal who joins up with polished thieves to attempt a diamond heist. Hit the jump for more on both of these projects.
We’ve got a few casting stories for you this evening. First up, Deadline reports that Academy Award-nominee Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) is set to star in Fox Searchlight’s thriller Stoker. Directed by Chan-wook Park, the film centers on a young girl who encounters her mysterious uncle while mourning the death of her father. Weaver joins Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska. The script was penned by actor Wentworth Miller (Prison Break) under his pseudonym Ted Foulke, with Ridley and Tony Scott producing.
Additionally, Sarah Wright has landed the lead role in the R-rated comedy 21 and Over. Marking the directorial debut of The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the film centers on two friends who take their buddy out for his 21st birthday, which naturally spirals into an all-night adventure. The friends must ensure that the birthday boy makes his all-important med school interview the next day. Wright joins Skylar Astin, Justin Chon and Miles Teller in the cast. Hit the jump for the casting news of On the Seventh Day.
We have some assorted casting news for you this afternoon. First up, Lindsay Lohan has dropped out of the role of Victoria Gotti in Gotti: Three Generations. According to TMZ “money was an issue, but the various demands of her management team just got out of control.” Apparently no one told Lohan’s management team that their client’s work was going straight-to-DVD and that a supporting role alongside John Travolta and Joe Pesci might be a worthwhile career boost. The news of Lohan’s departure comes on the heels of director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) leaving the project earlier this week.
Hit the jump for casting news regarding Nicholas Stoller’s Five Year Engagement and an adaptation of the off-Broadway production Between Us.
[Update: THR now reports that Lohan will be appearing in Gotti, but not as Victoria. She'll now take on the role of John Gotti Jr.'s wife.]
While different folks have their own dates for when awards season has officially “begun”, I set it at the date the National Board of Review announces their picks for the year. In two of the past three years, the NBR’s pick for Best Picture has gone on to win the Oscar. However, last year’s NBR winner, Up in the Air, went home empty-handed.
This year, the NBR has given the top prize to The Social Network. The film also picked up the prizes for Best Director (David Fincher), Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Best Actor). Other winners included Lesley Manville getting Best Actress for Another Year, Christian Bale winning Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter, and Jacki Weaver receiving Best Supporting Actress for Animal Kingdom. Hit the jump for the full list of awards, including the National Board of Review’s Top 11 films, Top 10 Independent Films, Top 6 Foreign Films, and Top 6 Documentaries.
Animal Kingdom features an outstanding ensemble cast portraying characters that run the gamut of the moral compass from Australian acting icon, Jacki Weaver, who plays Smurf, the deceptively sunny matriarch of the family, to international screen star, Guy Pearce, who plays an honest detective seeking justice for a cold blooded murder, to 17-year-old James Frecheville making his big screen debut as “J,” the naïve young nephew who moves in with his estranged family and finds himself in a world that is far larger and more menacing than he could ever imagine.
We sat down with Jacki recently at a roundtable interview to talk about her villainous performance in Animal Kingdom. A highly respected stage and screen actor with a slew of industry awards, she has been at the forefront of the Australian entertainment industry for over four decades, both on screen and on stage, and has starred in many seminal Australian films including Picnic at Hanging Rock. Jacki talked to us about why the moral ambiguity of her character makes it such an interesting story, what it was like working with David Michod, and how she kept it real, shifting effortlessly between normal, sweet and lovable one moment to monstrously cold and callous the next.
Animal Kingdom evolved over a nine-year period inspired by writer/director David Michod’s fascination with the colorful, criminal landscape of Melbourne and a strong desire to film the city in a way that it’s rarely viewed. The film tells the story of 17-year-old Joshua “J” Cody (James Frecheville) who, following the death of his mother, must navigate his survival between a violent criminal family (Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton) and the detective (Guy Pearce) who thinks he can save him.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Animal Kingdom is smartly written, confidently directed, and features an outstanding ensemble cast. We sat down with David to talk about his new movie. He told us what inspired him to write the sprawling, multi-layered Australian crime story, how he assembled such a top-notch cast, and why it was important to make a crime film that took itself seriously and had a genuine and palpable sense of menace running through it.