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

by     Posted 337 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 York Film Critics Circle Names AMERICAN HUSTLE Best Film; Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, and Jennifer Lawrence Win Acting Honors

by     Posted 360 days ago

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The “awards” portion of this year’s awards season has officially begun.  The New York Film Critics Circle is always the first critics group out of the gate, and today they named American Hustle the best film of the year.  The move comes as a slight surprise given that Hustle only first screened a week ago and 12 Years a Slave and Gravity have been the Best Picture frontrunners for the past few months, but the awards race may be in for a twist.  Steve McQueen was awarded Best Director for 12 Years a Slave, Robert Redford took Best Actor for All Is Lost, and Cate Blanchett began what’s sure to be an awards season sweep of Best Actress trophies.  American Hustle picked up three awards in total, including Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Lawrence and Best Screenplay.  The excellent Blue Is the Warmest Color was named Best Foreign Film, and Stories We Tell won Best Documentary.

Hit the jump to see the full list of winners and for my commentary on what this means for the coming Oscar season.

Oscar Beat: A Way Too Early Glimpse at the Best Picture Field – Part 1

by     Posted 1 year, 91 days ago

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The Venice Film Festival is already underway, the Telluride Film Festival begins this weekend, and the Toronto International Film Festival will be in full swing by this time next week. With those three festivals underway, the Oscar Race will have officially begun.  Right now, no one knows how Gravity will stack up against August: Osage County or whether Labor Day is a major contender or more of a minor player like Jason Reitman’s 2011 feature Young Adult.  By next week, though, the aforementioned films and plenty more will have finally screened for critics and prognosticators, and an early lay of the land—based in fact instead of blind speculation—will arise.

I will be attending TIFF for the first time this year, so I’ll be right there in the trenches with the first reactions to plenty of 2013’s awards contenders, but before the festival madness begins, I thought it would be fun to do one last overview of the Best Picture race.  Hit the jump for part one of a way too early look at the potential Best Picture Oscar nominees.

FRUITVALE STATION Review

by     Posted 1 year, 139 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  It has been slightly altered to reflect the new title.  Fruitvale Station opens in limited release today.]

Here’s one of the most morbid thoughts you can ever put in your head: will I die today? This thought isn’t to spur you to live each day like it’s your last. It’s a simple observation. Where has life led you to this point, where would you like your life to go, and how does one affect the other? In his debut feature Fruitvale Station, writer-director Ryan Coogler goes into the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, who was infamously shot by BART police officers in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day, 2009. Coogler’s solemn, no-frills direction lets us walk into Oscar’s life, and become absolutely devastated as it heads to its inevitable conclusion. The film’s emotional impact is only lessened by Coogler’s bizarre decision to push a message that doesn’t coincide with his movie’s theme.

New Posters for RIDDICK, PERCY JACKSON 2, RUNNER RUNNER, FRUITVALE STATION, and PRINCE AVALANCHE

by     Posted 1 year, 160 days ago

We’ve got a few new posters to share today.  Briefly:

  • Riddick – A new IMAX poster for the Vin Diesel-fronted sequel, which opens on September 6th.
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – The gang’s all here in the new poster for the fantasy/adventure follow-up, which opens on August 7th.
  • Runner Runner – Another pretty generic poster for the otherwise promising thriller starring Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, and Gemma Arterton.  The film opens on September 27th.
  • Fruitvale Station – A new poster for the Sundance tearjerker puts the focus on star Michael B. Jordan.  The film opens on July 12th.
  • Prince Avalanche – Ahead of Monday’s new trailer debut, we’ve got a new poster for the low-key dramedy starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.  The film opens on August 9th.

Hit the jump to take a look at the posters.

First Trailer for FRUITVALE STATION

by     Posted 1 year, 202 days ago

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The haunting first trailer for writer-director Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station is now available.  The Weinstein Company looks to have another winner on their hands with this based-on-true-events crime drama.  Without giving anything away, the 2013 Sundance Film Festival winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film centers on Oscar (Michael B. Jordan), a young man in the San Francisco Bay area who encounters friends, family, enemies and strangers on the last day of 2008.  Also starring Melonie Diaz, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray and Octavia SpencerFruitvale Station opens in limited release on July 12th.  Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

10 Indie Films to Check Out This Summer

by     Posted 1 year, 209 days ago

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Blockbusters dominate the summer movie season, and some will definitely be worth your time.  You’ll pre-order your ticket, get together with friends for the earliest possible screening, and probably have a grand time.  But there are some smaller films this summer that shouldn’t escape your attention.  I’ve compiled a list of ten worthwhile indie films I saw at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and SXSW 2013.  The list includes coming of age comedies, moving romances, brutal dramas, and more.  There are other smaller films this summer that might be worth a look such as The Bling Ring and Blue Jasmine, but I haven’t seen them yet.  I can vouch for these ten.  Hit the jump for the list.

New Release Dates for INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, TAMMY, NEBRASKA, BEWARE THE NIGHT, and A HAUNTED HOUSE 2

by     Posted 1 year, 209 days ago

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We’ve got a number of new release dates and changes to share this afternoon.  In chronological order:

  • Fruitvale Station – The Weinstein Company has moved up the limited release of this tearjerking Sundance smash from July 26th to July 12th.  The pic stars Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer.
  • Nebraska – Director Alexander Payne’s black-and-white road trip drama starring Will Forte and Bruce Dern will arrive in limited release on November 22nd.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis – The highly anticipated new film from writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen will hit theaters in limited release on December 6th, just in time for awards season.  Taking place in the 1960s folk scene, the pic stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake.
  • A Haunted House 2 – The unnecessary Marlon Wayans horror-spoof sequel hits theaters on March 28, 2014.
  • Tammy – The road trip comedy starring Melissa McCarthy (who also co-directs with Ben Falcone) has been slated for a prime July 2, 2014 release date opposite Disney’s Maleficent and the Jason Segel comedy Sex Tape.
  • Beware the Night – Director Scott Derrickson’s (Sinister) horror thriller has been given a January 16, 2015 release date.  The film stars Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, and Edgar Ramirez.

2013 Los Angeles Film Festival Lineup Includes THE WAY, WAY BACK, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, FRUITVALE STATION, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 211 days ago

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The lineup for the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival has been announced.  Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back—which marks the directorial debut of Oscar-winning The Descendants screenwriters Jim Rash and Nat Faxon—has been selected as the closing night film, while Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives and the Sundance hits Fruitvale Station and The Spectacular Now will also fill out the festival.  Additionally, the fest will host the US premiere of the sci-fi thriller Europa Report starring Sharlto Copley and there will be community screenings of Badlands, Dazed and Confused and John WatersHairsprayHit the jump for the full press release.

2013 Cannes Film Festival Lineup Includes INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, NEBRASKA, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 224 days ago

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The full lineup for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival was announced today, and it looks like a really great group of films will be screening in the south of France later next month.  Official selections include Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the CandelabraJoel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur, and James Gray’s The Immigrant (previously titled Low Life).  Additionally, the Robert Redford man vs. nature film All Is Lost will premiere out of competition, and Sofia Coppola’s The Bling RingJames Franco’s As I Lay Dying, and the Sundance hit Fruitvale Station (previously titled Fruitvale) will screen Un Certain Regard.

A number of these titles are early awards contenders, and I’m particularly interested to hear the reaction for the Coens’ Davis and Payne’s The Descendants follow-up Nebraska, which is a black-and-white road trip movie starring Will Forte and Bruce Dern.  Hit the jump to read the full lineup.  The 2013 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 15 – 26th.

NEED FOR SPEED Opening Delayed a Month, BAGGAGE CLAIM Lands a Month Earlier and FRUITVALE Gets a Surprise Summer Release

by     Posted 1 year, 239 days ago

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Check out the latest release dates for the following movies:

  • Need for Speed – From director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) comes this EA video game adaptation starring Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger), Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) and Michael Keaton (Batman).  Need for Speed now opens March 14, 2014.
  • Baggage Claim – Adapted from his own novel for the screen, First Sunday director David E. Talbert’s film stars Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Taye Diggs (Chicago), Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator) and Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith).  Baggage Claim now opens September 27, 2013.
  • Fruitvale – Writer/director Ryan Coogler’s feature debut starring Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle), Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), Kevin Durand (Real Steel) and Octavia Spencer (The Help).  Fruitvale now gets a summer release date of July 26, 2013.

Hit the jump for more on each production.

Weinstein Co. Starts 2013 Oscar Bid, Sets Dates for FRUITVALE, GRACE OF MONACO, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, and MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

by     Posted 1 year, 271 days ago

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It’s been less than a week since this year’s Oscars, but The Weinstein Company has already set fall release dates for four of next year’s contenders.  And with Meryl Streep in the mix, it’s safe to say that Harvey Thanked More Than God Weinstein’s chances are looking good.  So what’s on tap?  Check it out below:

  • Fruitvale – This Sundance darling (read our review), the true story of a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who was shot to death in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2009, will open October 18.
  • August: Osage County – A family comes together after their alcoholic patriarch goes missing in this adaptation of Tracy Lett’s comedic play, which is slated for November 8.
  • Mandela: Long Walk to FreedomIdris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in this film based on the South African president’s 1995 autobiography, scheduled for November 29.
  • Grace of MonacoNicole Kidman steps into the shoes of the legendary Hollywood star who became a princess in this film, which opens on December 27.

Hit the jump for more on each of the movies, as well as their release dates.

Sundance Poster Round-Up: BREATHE IN, FRUITVALE, TOY’S HOUSE, and TWO MOTHERS

by     Posted 1 year, 283 days ago

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A number of debut posters from some films that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival have surfaced.  Briefly:

  • Breathe In – Writer/director Drake Doremus’ (Like Crazy) devastating family drama stars Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, and Amy Ryan.  Read my review here, which is actually quoted on this poster.
  • Fruitvale – Writer/director Ryan Coogler’s debut film took the festival by storm, raking up a number of awards.  The heartbreaking real-life drama stars Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, and Melonie Diaz.  Read Matt’s review here.
  • Two Mothers – Director Anne Fontaine’s drama about two lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s sons was met with a mixed response.  The film stars Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, and Ben Mendolsohn.  Read my review here, and watch the trailer here.
  • Toy’s House – Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ peculiar comedy earned some strong notice at the festival.  The film stars Nick Robinson, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Megan Mullaly.

Hit the jump to check out images and synopses.

Chad Michael Murray talks THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA, the Sundance Success of FRUITVALE, CAVEMEN, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 297 days ago

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Now playing is The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia.  Based on a true story, the sort-of sequel is not a continuation of the Campbells’ story from the first film, but follows a new family, the Wyricks, as they confront the supernatural.  Andy (Chad Michael Murray) and Lisa (Abigail Spencer) move their daughter (Emily Alyn Lind) to a historical Georgia home, joined by Lisa’s free-spirited sister Joyce (Katee Sackhoff) the Wyricks soon find themselves face to face with the ghosts of the Underground Railroad.

I recently landed an exclusive interview with Chad Michael Murray.  We talked about what attracted him to the role, what it was like playing a father, his favorite horror films, and, meeting the Wyrick family.  We also discussed the Sundance success of Fruitvale, what people can expect from Cavemen, and trying his hand at comedy.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Sundance 2013: FRUITVALE Review

by     Posted 1 year, 306 days ago

michael b jordan fruitvale

Here’s one of the most morbid thoughts you can ever put in your head: will I die today?  This thought isn’t to spur you to live each day like it’s your last.  It’s a simple observation.  Where has life led you to this point, where would you like your life to go, and how does one affect the other?  In his debut feature Fruitvale, writer-director Ryan Coogler goes into the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, who was infamously shot by BART police officers in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day, 2009.  Coogler’s solemn, no-frills direction lets us walk into Oscar’s life, and become absolutely devastated as it heads to its inevitable conclusion.  The film’s emotional impact is only lessened by Coogler’s bizarre decision to push a message that doesn’t coincide with his movie’s theme.

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