Movies like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are difficult to review. On the one hand, part of me wants to rip Stephen Daldry’s film to shreds and call it a manipulative, corny, over-the-top, Oscar-seeking mess. But the other part of me wants to drop the cynicism and enjoy the heartfelt emotional journey for what it aspires to be: a film that attempts to cope with the aftershocks of 9/11, and mourn those we lost in the fire.
Watching Extremely Loud on Blu-ray over the weekend, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. While not exactly the masterpiece it thinks it is, Daldry’s film at least sidesteps the problems I had with the director’s previous efforts, especially the overtly saccharine The Reader and the morbid, depressing The Hours – both of which tried to do too much and therefore lacked focus. Hit the jump for my review.
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.
In terms of box office numbers, January keeps offering up pleasant surprises. This week, the big winner is Underworld Awakening with an estimated $9.4 million from 3,078 locations. While not an unexpected first-place victory, part four in Screen Gems’ franchise is on track to earn about 15% more than the last installment, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, saw on its first weekend back in January of 2009. And unlike 2010, when No Strings Attached was the only major new release, there are plenty of other titles crowding into theatres this weekend. George Lucas’s Red Tails is at number two with $6 million from 2,512 venues – a better start for the WWII drama than would be suggested by the twenty-plus years it took to open the film. After a month in limited release, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close expanded to 2,630 locations and took in $3.2 million. The only film that is not meeting or exceeding expectations is Relativity’s Haywire. After earning an estimated $2.9 million from 2,439 on Friday, the Steven Soderbergh drama will have trouble topping the $8 million weekend mark set by the studio. Details and analysis tomorrow.
||Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The 62nd Berlin International Film Festival has added a few new films to its program. Declan Donnellan and Nick Omerod’s adaptation of the 1885 Guy de Maupassant novel Bel-Ami will finally premiere out of competition at the festival. The film stars Robert Pattinson, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, and Kristin Scott Thomas and has been lingering without a U.S. release date for some time now. It’s set to open in the U.K. in March, and hopefully with this Berlin premiere the drama will pick up some steam and head towards a domestic release.
Additionally, Steven Soderbergh’s action spy-thriller Haywire has also been selected to screen out of competition at the fest. Featuring MMA fighter Gina Carano surrounded by an all-star cast of Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Fassbender, the pic opens today here in the U.S. Also poised to screen at the festival is Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car, the drama Shadow Dancer starring Clive Owen, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
While director Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close now playing in limited release, this Friday it’ll finally be expanding to theaters nationwide. Starring Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, and John Goodman, the films based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer and tells the story of a nine-year-old boy who sets out to find the lock that fits a key left to him by his father, who died in the 9/11 attacks. While some of the reviews have been mixed, I was moved to tears and think Thomas Horn’s performance was amazing (especially since he’s never acted before). While 9/11 movies are clearly hard to watch, give this one a chance. It’s definitely worth it.
Shortly before New Year’s I got to speak with Daldry. We talked about the challenge of the subject matter, finding the right tone in the editing room, test screenings, deleted scenes, his relationship with producer Scott Rudin, and casting Thomas Horn and the rest of the cast. In addition, Daldry talked about wanting to make Michael Chabon‘s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay as an eight-part HBO miniseries. Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview.
With each passing awards ceremony, it’s looking more and more likely that we’re in for a fairly boring/predictable Oscars this year. The Artist continues to dominate the precursor ceremonies as it took home the Best Picture and Best Director prize at the Critics Choice Awards. On the acting side of things, George Clooney was named Best Actor for his work in The Descendants, and Viola Davis won Best Actress for The Help. The Artist is our clear frontrunner headed towards Oscar night, and I don’t really think anything else will be able to take it down. I can’t really complain about any of the acting wins, though for what it’s worth I think Brad Pitt gave the best performance of the year in Moneyball.
Elsewhere, Drive won Best Action Movie (though it’s really a drama) Bridesmaids won Best Comedy, and Rango was named Best Animated Feature. Hit the jump to see the full list of winners.
Over the last few years, composer Alexandre Desplat has gone from genre to genre and consistently delivered fantastic scores. Here’s a few that he’s done since 2009: Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Prophet, The King’s Speech, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, The Ghost Writer, The Ides of March, Carnage, and, most recently, director Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. With his ever expanding resume and the fact that he records rather quickly for a composer, he’s rapidly become one of the biggest composers in Hollywood. As a big fan of his work, it’s great to see.
The other day I got to sit down with Desplat for an extended interview. During our wide ranging conversation, we talked about what the past few years have been like, his writing process, what it’s like to work with some of the biggest directors in the world, how he picks his projects, his favorite scores that he didn’t write, and how he got involved in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (which he did in three weeks!). In addition, we talked about his work on the final two Harry Potter films, Twilight: New Moon, and Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom, which he finished last month. Hit the jump for more.
September 11th, like any tragedy, can be easily exploited. It can be exploited for profit, for political gain, and for an easy strike at your emotional soft spots. But it can also be handled in a mature, thoughtful manner like Paul Greengrass‘ United 93. It’s been over ten years since 9/11 and we must start accepting that the event can be used in a story that’s not directly about 9/11. That’s an incredibly tricky proposition because of the easy route to exploiting our national tragedy, and that’s where Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close seems to be going at its outset. Daldry has to scale a mountain of negative expectations as we struggle to see how 9/11 could be absolutely essential to the story. We must also contend with a painfully affected character played by a child actor gives a off-putting, robotic performance. But Daldry’s brilliant direction ultimately brings the 9/11 plot point and the bizarre lead performance together to create an emotional finale.
A large batch of new images from the upcoming drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been released. The film is based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer and tells the story of a nine-year-old boy who sets out to find the lock that fits a key left to him by his father, who perished in the 9/11 attacks. I’m a big fan of the book so I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while. The cast is great and director Stephen Daldry has a pretty nifty track record, so I’m hoping everything comes together well. The pic has already started screening, but it’s under a strict embargo after the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fiasco (plus Scott Rudin is also the producer of Extremely Loud).
Hit the jump to check out the images. The film stars Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, and John Goodman. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opens in limited release on December 25th, then expands nationwide on January 20th.
A new trailer for director Stephen Daldry’s (The Reader) adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been released. Based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, the film follows nine-year-old Oskar Schell (newcomer Thomas Horn) who sets out to find the lock that fits a key left to him by his father who perished in the 9/11 attacks. This trailer gets into the plot a bit more, but it plays little too heavy-handed. Having read the book, I can say that the film undeniably rests on Horn’s performance. He seems to have the peculiarities of the odd Schell down, so I’m hopeful he’s got the goods. Von Sydow also looks promising in a very crucial (and sweet) role. This is an adaptation that could end up being fantastically original and moving, or terribly sappy and maudlin. Daldry has a pretty great track record, so I’m really hoping it’s the former.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film also stars Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, and John Goodman. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opens in limited release on December 25th, then expands nationwide on January 20th.
And so our 2012 Oscar Preview has come to a close. Over the past three days we’ve brought you our coverage of how the race stacks up for Best Supporting Actress and Actor, Best Actress and Actor, and Best Animated Feature, Screenplay, as well as the technical categories. Today, we’re covering the big ones: Best Picture and Best Director. There are two early frontrunners for the big prize, but we’ve still got a number of unseen pics that could play the spoiler. As for the director race, does Steven Spielberg have a shot at his first trophy in over a decade, or will an Oscar virgin take home the prize? Hit the jump for the current state of the race in the Best Picture and Best Director categories.
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.
With the holiday movie season upon us, a few new images from some of the upcoming Oscar contenders have been unveiled. We’ve got a new look at Michael Fassbender in the extremely well-received drama Shame. Fassbender plays a sex-addict opposite Carey Mulligan, and our own Matt Goldberg loved the flick. There’s also a new image of Rooney Mara from David Fincher’s highly anticipated adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another look at Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and an ominous image of Gary Oldman from the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Additionally, we’ve got another look at Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, and an image of Sandra Bullock and Thomas Horn in the adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
But that’s not all! We’ve also got new images from We Bought a Zoo, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Haywire, Underworld: Awakening, In the Land of Blood and Honey, New Year’s Eve, and One for the Money. Hit the jump to check them out.
John Goodman and Missi Pyle were intrigued when they were approached by director Michel Hazanavicius to play supporting roles in The Artist, his heartfelt and entertaining celebration of Hollywood moviemaking at its most magical. Missi Pyle plays Constance, an actress who is none too pleased when she’s upstaged by Hollywood’s reigning silent screen idol, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). Goodman portrays Al Zimmer, the cigar-chomping mogul of Kinograph Studios, who walks the line between coddling and corralling his contract stars during the silent film era. In 1929, Kinograph is preparing to cease all silent film production as Hollywood transitions to talking movies, but some actors will prove more adept than others at making the change.
We sat down with Goodman and Pyle at a roundtable interview to talk about what attracted them to the unique project set during a pivotal moment in Hollywood history and told in a silent format. They told us what it was like playing characters that had no dialogue and where everything had to be conveyed visually, why they found the process liberating once they realized they didn’t have to worry about remembering their lines, and how shooting on location in Los Angeles helped inspire their performances. They also discussed what projects they have coming up next, including updates on Robert Zemeckis‘ Flight, Pixar’s Monster’s University, the Awards contender Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, whether or not Goodman will appear in Kevin Smith‘s Hit Somebody and more.
At this year’s Toronto Film Festival, I was able to speak with Jeffery Wright about starring in director George Clooney’s political drama The Ides of March. Starring Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and Wright, the pic takes place during the tension-filled moments leading up to an all-important Ohio presidential primary where a press secretary (Gosling) finds himself in the middle of a scandal that could upend his candidates’ (Clooney) shot at winning. Loaded with great performances and a smart script, The Ides of March is really well done and definitely worth your time.
During the interview, Wright talked about how he got involved in the project, what it’s like working for Clooney, and whether he prefers the Clint Eastwood method of two takes or the Fincher method of fifty. In addition, he talks about who he plays in Stephen Daldry’s (The Reader) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and what he might be doing in the future. Hit the jump to watch.