ALL IS LOST Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 154 days ago

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When you’ve got Robert Redford starring in your movie, that’s really all you need.  Sure, having a talented cast is nice, and shooting in exotic, far-flung locales is a perk for everyone involved, but sometimes the best storytelling just comes down to a man and his boat.  In writer-director J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, all of Hollywood’s movie-making pageantry is cast aside in favor of a stripped-down style of storytelling that follows one man in his repeated attempts to defy death using nothing but his wits and meager provisions.  The solo survivalist angle is a tough task for any actor, but if Redford can’t do it, then no one can.  Hit the jump for my review of All Is Lost on Blu-ray.

New to Blu-ray: THE JUNGLE BOOK, SHERLOCK Season 3, ENDER’S GAME, and More

by     Posted 168 days ago

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This week’s new Blu-ray releases include a Diamond Edition of Walt Disney’s last film, the latest season of one of the most engrossing shows currently on television, a Best Picture winner, a current Oscar nominee, and more.  Briefly:

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

by     Posted 215 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.

75 Songs Eligible for Best Original Song Oscar Including Tracks from FROZEN, THE GREAT GATSBY, and ANCHORMAN 2

by     Posted 225 days ago

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After unveiling the list of scores that will be competing for the Best Original Score Oscar last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has now unveiled the list of 75 songs that are in contention for Best Original Song.  The fantastic “Let It Go” from Frozen is already an early favorite, and five songs are eligible from Baz Luhrmann’s music-heavy The Great Gatsby including “Young and Beautiful” by Lana del Rey and “Over the Love” by Florence and the Machine.  As for pleasant surprises, it would be most excellent to see the emotional rap “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12 land a nomination.  Upcoming films that have eligible original songs include “Doby” from Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and “The Moon Song” from Her.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of songs eligible for the Best Original Song Oscar.  The 86th Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 16th, followed by the Oscar ceremony on March 2nd.

114 Scores Eligible for Oscar Consideration Including Hans Zimmer’s MAN OF STEEL, John Williams’ THE BOOK THIEF, and Steven Price’s GRAVITY

by     Posted 229 days ago

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has unveiled the list of 114 original scores that are eligible for the Best Original Score Oscar.  Though John Williams has worked almost exclusively with Steven Spielberg for the past few years, he’s eligible this year for scoring director Brian Percival’s Holocaust film The Book Thief.  Prolific composer Hans Zimmer has three scores in the running with Rush, Man of Steel, and 12 Years a Slave, and other notable scores include Steven Price’s excellent Gravity, David Wingo’s work on Mud, Ramin Djawadi’s rocking Pacific Rim score, Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and the collaboration between Arcade Fire’s William Butler and musician Owen Pallett on Her.  Frustratingly, though, Steven Price’s The World’s End score appears to have been deemed ineligible, presumably due to the abundance of pre-existing tracks.

Hit the jump to see the full list of eligible scores and for my thoughts on the early Oscar favorites.  The 86th Academy Award nominations will be announced January 16th.

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

by     Posted 238 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.

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

by     Posted 245 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.

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

by     Posted 259 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.

Oscar Beat: Box Office, Best Picture, and GRAVITY

by     Posted 283 days ago

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Though it’s only October, we’re already in the thick of awards season.  We’ve seen frontrunners emerge from the fall festival circuit, and now some of the year’s potential heavy hitters are starting to open in theaters, providing some hard data for the all-important “audience reception” factor in the Oscar race.  Gravity emerged as a potential frontrunner for a number of awards—including Best Picture—when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Venice, and Telluride earlier this year, and now the film can add “box office hit” to its resume, as the pic opened to a record-breaking $55.5 million in its first weekend and only dropped an incredible 21% in its second weekend.

In today’s edition of Oscar Beat, we examine the importance of box office in the Oscar race and what this means for Gravity and the other awards contenders going forward.  Additionally, I update my predictions to reflect movements in the recent weeks.  Hit the jump to read on.

ALL IS LOST Review

by     Posted 284 days ago

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One of the many reasons The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is one of my favorite films is the opening.  There is no dialogue.  It’s a lesson in how much can be said without words and the skill of a talented director.  J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost is a masterpiece of visual storytelling.  The movie not only has a single actor, but it refuses to even let him have the solace of talking to himself.  He is a man of action in a fight for his life against the elements, and there’s no time to walk us through thought processes or the finer points of sailing.  There’s only the old man, the sea, and the present.

Oscar Beat: Fall Festival Postmortem; 12 YEARS A SLAVE Emerges as Strong Early Frontrunner

by     Posted 315 days ago

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The Fall Film Festival season has come and gone, and with that we now have a pretty clear idea of the early state of the Oscar race.  While initial awards projections were made mostly on conjecture and blind faith, a number of the major contenders have now had a chance to screen at the prestigious Telluride, Toronto, and Venice film festivals allowing critics and industry folk to assess the quality of heavy hitters such as Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Labor Day, and August: Osage County.  Last year, an early Oscar frontrunner came out of nowhere at the Toronto International Film Festival in the form of Silver Linings Playbook, but this year an incredibly strong frontrunner has emerged with near-unanimous praise.

Hit the jump for a rundown of the Oscar race as it stands now, including our first Oscar Beat power rankings for the major categories.

New Posters for THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, GRAVITY, ALL IS LOST, and ASS BACKWARDS

by     Posted 334 days ago

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A variety of new posters has been released online.  Briefly:

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Director/star Ben Stiller defies gravity in the first poster for his promising adventure comedy.  The film also stars Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott and opens on December 25th.
  • Gravity – Speaking of gravity, a new poster for director Alfonso Cuaron’s space-set pic shows off half of the cast as we see George Clooney’s astronaut character.  Sandra Bullock leads the film, which opens on October 4th.
  • All Is Lost – The first poster for J.C. Chandor’s (Margin Call) survival drama puts star Robert Redford in a tight situation.  The film opens on October 18th.
  • Ass Backwards – The debut poster for the Sundance comedy, starring Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael.  The film will be availabl VOD on September 30th and hits theaters on November 8th.

Hit the jump to take a look at the posters.

Oscar Beat: Does This Year’s Telluride Film Festival Lineup Include Our Best Picture Winner?

by     Posted 335 days ago

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The lineup for this year’s Telluride Film Festival was announced this morning just before the Colorado fest gets underway this weekend, and with it comes some serious expectations.  As I outlined in the inaugural edition of Oscar Beat, the fall film festivals mark the official start of awards season, as the studios use the festivals to announce their heavy hitters and Oscar hopefuls.  Four of the last five Best Picture winners played at Telluride (Argo, The King’s Speech, The Artist, and Slumdog Millionaire) and this year’s lineup certainly has the potential to launch our eventual winner with fare from the Coen Brothers, Jason Reitman, and Alfonso Cuaron all on tap.

Hit the jump for more, as we take a closer look at the Telluride lineup with an eye towards sussing out our 2013 Best Picture winner.

GRAVITY, LABOR DAY, NEBRASKA, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, and More Grace the Line-up of the 2013 Telluride Film Festival

by     Posted 335 days ago

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The Telluride Film Festival gets under my skin.  It’s incredibly expensive to attend, and you don’t know the line-up until the day before the festival begins.  Its major advantage is that it’s become the place where awards films attempt to pick up a little steam.  Telluride equivalent of a Preview Night.  Rather than drop the films at the Toronto International Film Festival, they can start picking up some buzz from a smaller audience, which could potentially guide the much larger audience at the  TIFF.  Not all of the films are making debuts.  Most notably, Cannes favorites Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and All Is Lost will be playing at Telluride, skipping TIFF, and then playing at the New York Film Festival.  Gravity just had its premiere at Venice, but Telluride is now its North American debut.  Other notable movies that will now be making their world premiere at Telluride are Jason Reitman‘s Labor DayJonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin,  and Errol Morris‘ documentary The Unknown Known.

Hit the jump for the full line-up.  The 2013 Telluride Film Festival runs from August 29 – September 2nd.

Full New York Film Festival Lineup Includes INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, NEBRASKA, THE IMMIGRANT, and More

by     Posted 344 days ago

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Each year, the fall film festival season is where studios present their awards fare and kick off months of rigorous campaigning in hopes of Oscar glory.  We recently examined this year’s contenders in the inaugural installment of our new column Oscar Beat, and at the time it appeared that the Toronto International Film Festival was poised to once again be the heavy hitter.  However, the 2013 New York Film Festival has now announced its full lineup, and it definitely gives TIFF a run for its money.

In addition to previously announced films Captain Phillips, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Her, NYFF will play host to screenings of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, James Gray’s The Immigrant, J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, and plenty more.  Hit the jump to check out the full lineup.  The 2013 New York Film Festival runs from September 27th – October 13th.

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