Just over a week after original director Jack Bender (Lost) dropped out of the project, Paramount looks to have found a suitable replacement to helm their reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games). Vulture reports that Kenneth Branagh is now in negotiations to direct the pic, which sees Star Trek’s Chris Pine take over the franchise that has been toplined in the past by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. The project has been in development for quite some time, with a number of writers taking a stab at the screenplay. Paramount is hoping to finally get cameras rolling later this year once Pine wraps the Star Trek sequel, and having a director onboard is a fairly crucial necessity to make that happen. Hit the jump to find out what the hold up has been.
The nominations for the 84th Annual Academy Awards have finally been unveiled. Many of the categories have fallen in line just as most have predicted (I fared alright with my predictions, but not great), with Hugo scoring 11 nods, followed closely by The Artist with 10. The biggest surprises are War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close getting in for Best Picture, the exclusion of The Adventures of Tintin from Best Animated Feature, and The Tree of Life nabbing Best Picture and Best Director nods (hooray!). On the snub side of things, despite landing the most precursor critics awards of any other actor in the race thus far, Albert Brooks was denied a Best Supporting Actor nod for his stellar work in Drive (boo). Additionally, Tilda Swinton was overlooked for giving the best performance of the year in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and AMPAS has no love for Michael Fassbender‘s haunting work in Shame.
There’s still plenty to be happy about, as Gary Oldman has his first ever Oscar Nomination (yes, that’s right) and Melissa McCarthy is a Best Supporting Actress nominee. Hit the jump to check out the full list of nominees. The 84th Academy Awards will be presented by Billy Crystal on February 26th.
As I’ve been covering awards season pretty extensively here on the site over the past few months, I figured it would be appropriate to (foolishly) try to predict the upcoming Oscar nominations. It’s been a fairly tame year, as a few frontrunners were singled out early in the race and have held their ground throughout the grueling awards season. We haven’t been without a few surprises, as Steven Spielberg’s War Horse took a massive tumble following snubs from most of the major guilds, and David Fincher has surged back into the race bringing his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with him.
Though there are plenty of safe bets when it comes to the 2012 Oscar nominations, there are still a few wildcards and tricky categories. I’ve put on my prognosticating cap (those interested can purchase one of these nifty hats at your local Target) and compiled a list of who and what I think will make the cut. Hit the jump to see how I think the nods will stack up when they’re announced on January 24th.
Another awards ceremony, another The Artist triumph. Michel Hazanavicius’ silent film continues its near sweep of awards season as it took home the Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor prize from the London Film Critics Circle Awards. Surprisingly, the other film to tie The Artist with three awards was the Iranian drama A Separation. The foreign film has been riding a wave of immense positive word of mouth, and the London Film Critics awarded the pic with Foreign Language Film of the Year, Best Screenwriter, and Best Actress.
Nearly shut out of the awards was Britain’s own Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The espionage drama failed to pick up any major prizes and was sent home with a win for Best Production Design. Elsewhere, We Need to Talk About Kevin was named Best British Film, Anna Paquin shared the Best Actress prize with Meryl Streep for her work in Margaret (quickly becoming the little engine that could), and Michael Fassbender won British Actor of the Year for his stellar work in Shame and A Dangerous Method. Full list of winners after the jump, which includes the critics’ top 10 films of 2011.
Kate Winslet is set to star in Kenneth Branagh‘s adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Based on the novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows, Winslet “will play writer Juliet Ashton, who penned columns for a magazine during World War II. After the war, she is contacted by Channel Islander Dawsey Adams and, as their correspondence continues, the story unfolds of how a book society was established on Nazi-occupied Guernsey to fool curfew patrols.” According to Daily Mail, filming is set to begin in mid-March.
Winslet continues to impress as an actress and she recently turned in a devilishly comic performance in Roman Polanski‘s Carnage. 2012 is starting off as a bit of time warp for Winslet since she previously starred in Branagh’s 1996 adaptation of Hamlet, and she’ll next be seen in theaters in James Cameron‘s 3D-post-coverted version of Titanic.
In the much buzzed about My Week with Marilyn – currently in limited release and opening wide on Christmas Day – 23-year-old, first-time production hand, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), went to work on Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) The Prince and the Showgirl. When American film star Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) experienced emotional difficulties during shooting, Colin came to her aid and romance developed. Unfortunately, one week of fun was just not enough to save the doomed star from her eventual self-destruction.
At a press day for the film, actor Kenneth Branagh talked about creating a character instead of just doing an impersonation of Laurence Olivier, how his admiration for the star only increased while researching him, working with both Michelle Williams and Julia Ormond (who plays Vivien Leigh), and the fact that he never met but did correspond once with Olivier. He also said that he hopes to be directing next, by the Spring, but isn’t sure which of the projects he has in development that he’ll be doing. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Sometimes a memoir has to be taken with a grain of salt. In My Week With Marilyn, a retelling of a young man who has the time of his life on and off-set with Marilyn Monroe, things can become a bit eye-rolling. How much actually happened manages to be less important. What is essential is a small glimpse into something we may already know but remains heartbreaking nonetheless: Marilyn was an imperfect creature trying to keep from being swallowed alive by her fame. Despite not answering much of the whys and remaining mostly fluff, director Simon Curtis gives Michelle Williams the daunting task of playing Monroe near the peak of her popularity and she nails it. You can look at stills as much as you want, but the moving image allows Williams to blend into the role and become something audiences can fall in love with all over again. Hit the jump for my full review.
Ah, November. Leaves are falling, colder weather is here (depending on where you live), and the 2011 movie season is coming to a close. While angry shoppers and red Starbucks cups generally mean it’s time to start preparing for the many awkward/tense family encounters that are sure to come, it’s also time to start thinking Oscar. We’ve seen a few contenders throughout the year, but a plethora of heavyhitters will be opening over the next 5 weeks.
To aid in your Oscar polls (or to quench your curiosity) we’ve compiled a state of the race preview as of this lovely Thanksgiving week. Granted, a lot can change from now until February, but a good portion of the major players have already been screened and we’re starting to get a sense of how it could all play out. We’ll be examining all the major categories over the next four days, kicking things off with the infamously unpredictable Best Supporting Actor and Actress. Hit the jump to see where things stand.
The first trailer for My Week With Marilyn has gone online. Based on the memoirs of Lawrence Olivier’s assistant Colin Clark, the film details a week in the life of Marilyn Monroe as seen through the eyes of Clark. The trailer looks pretty great, and Michelle Williams looks to be going all out for the role of Monroe. It’s impressive to see her play the dichotomy of the public Marilyn and the private Marilyn, and Williams seems to be holding nothing back. I like the character-centric plot, and I’m interested to see where the overall arc of the film goes.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film also stars Kenneth Branagh, Dominic Cooper, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne. My Week With Marilyn opens on November 4th.
Apparently Kenneth Branagh’s foray into the mystical side of things was merely a flirtation. It was recently announced that the director won’t be returning to helm Thor 2, and now he’s getting back into the period side of things. Variety reports that 20th Century Fox is circling Branagh to direct their adaptation of the bestselling WWII-set novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, the book begins in 1946 and tells the story of Juliet, a thirtysomething author who decides she is tired of covering “the sunny side of war and its aftermath.” A Guernsey farmer discovers Juliet’s name in a book and begins gathering neighbors to write her with their stories from the war. The book’s narrative is made up of these letters, focusing on numerous characters and plots.
Dan Roos (Marley & Me) is writing the screenplay, with Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan set to produce. I thought Branagh did a hell of a job on Thor, and he’ll be missed on the sequel, but he certainly has a knack for period flicks. Hit the jump to read a synopsis of Shaffer’s novel.
Of all the Marvel movies released thus far (and this includes those made outside the Marvel Studios banner), Thor has been the toughest sell. He comes from a different world, that world has funny costumes and architecture, and he has to convincingly exist in both Asgard and our mundane world. But somehow the film, despite some various issues in plotting (particularly in regards to the romance and the ending), came together in a fun way that effectively sold the character. And now that the film has raked in $437 million world, Marvel and Disney have decided to release the sequel on July 26, 2013. Marvel’s Iron Man 3 is already set for May 3, 2013.
Deadline reports that Kenneth Branagh won’t return to direct but will stay on in a producing capacity. The split was reportedly amicable and now we can start a new sweepstakes to see who will take the reigns of the series. Chris Hemsworth will return but no other casting announcements have been made.
In Marvel’s latest superhero epic Thor, actress Jaimie Alexander plays the Goddess of War, Sif. When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is banished to Earth by his own father (Anthony Hopkins), for arrogance that proves him unworthy of the throne of Asgard, Sif and the Warriors Three seek him out upon learning that his own brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is the one who set the wheels in motion.
In person, Jaimie Alexander is both beautiful and with a presence that makes it obvious why she often takes on roles of very strong women. During a recent exclusive interview with Collider, she talked about how she was cast in the role after a Skype conversation with director Kenneth Branagh, that her wrestling background and her time on the TV series Kyle XY helped with the physical aspects of Sif, how she trained alongside the boys for the film, how they had to travel in blacked-out golf carts from stage to stage while filming so that no one got a glimpse of their costumes, that she would love to further explore the character in a sequel, and how she would love to play another Marvel character, X-23. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Marvel’s Thor is the toughest of the lead Avengers to bring to the big screen. He’s a cross between a space alien and a Norse god, he wields a hammer named Mjolnir instead of standard superhero weapons like guns or swords, and he wears a cape. The character could fall so easily into camp territory, but director Kenneth Branagh takes the bold approach of playing the character completely straight but still keeps the movie fun and light. This balance of broad comedy and bombastic action mixed with straight-faced drama comes from the perfect combination of lead actors Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. While the film does have some problems in developing the supporting characters, its biggest sin is in the 3D post-conversion which turns the bright shining lights of Asgard into a dim, blurry mess. But if you catch the film in 2D, Thor is going to be some of the most fun you have in a theater this year.
I have to admit, up until I went to the screening of Thor, all I knew about the Marvel character was what I learned from watching Adventures in Babysitting as a kid. So, I went into the film hoping to be as intrigued and compelled by Chris Hemsworth’s Thor as I was in watching Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, who I also knew nothing about prior to seeing that first film. I quickly found myself sold on the Aussie actor’s performance and was along for the ride while Thor went on a mythic journey from being the arrogant prince of Asgard to a humble superhero who deserves the power that he was born to inherit. And, although Thor is more of a coming-to-power story than an origin story, I find myself actually excited about seeing the Marvel characters team up for The Avengers, slated for release in 2012.
At the film’s press day, director Kenneth Branagh and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige talked about how finding the right Thor was the most important aspect of the film, the challenge in making a film as big in scale as Thor, how passionate and intense this family story is, what makes Thor a cool character, and the possibility of a sequel. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
With Thor finally arriving in America next weekend (it’s already playing around the world), Paramount/Marvel have released the EPK and included are four clips and ten minutes of behind the scenes footage. While the clips have all been previously released, this is the first time we have all four in one place. In addition, if you’re curious what it’s really like on a movie set, the behind the scenes footage is great to watch. However, if you are trying to avoid spoilers, you might want to check it out after you’ve seen the movie.
As I said when I posted my review/video blog on Thor, I thought the movie was great. Also, while Thor is not an easy transition from comic books to movie screens, director Kenneth Branagh made it work and I cannot wait to see everyone together in The Avengers next summer. Hit the jump to watch the clips and look for new interviews next week. Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Josh Dallas, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Clark Gregg and Colm Feore.