10 Best Surprises of 2014, From Emily Blunt as an Action Star to THE LEGO MOVIE Not Sucking

by     Posted 8 hours ago

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While many year-end lists simply focus on either the best or the worst, this feels like a good opportunity to take a look at a year-end aspect that seems to go overlooked: the things that we didn’t see coming.  There’s an expectation that the new Christopher Nolan film is going to be eye-popping, that Transformers: Age of Extinction isn’t going to be particularly great, and that the latest effort from Wes Anderson will probably be immaculately crafted.  But what about discovering that a loveable TV actor makes a seamless transition to becoming a movie star?  Or that shameless, toy-centric studio cash-grab is actually a great movie?  There were plenty of pleasant discoveries over these past 12 months, and after the jump, I run down the 10 best surprises of 2014.

5 Great Film and Music Moments From 2014

by     Posted Yesterday

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Real cinema happens when a filmmaker uses all of the tools at his or her disposal to provide the viewer with an experience they can’t get in any other medium.  Sound, vision, and narrative all collide and the experience can occasionally be so singular and indelible you wonder why you, as a viewer, don’t advocate for yourself and seek the feeling out more often.  It’s like a drug.

Often times, these moments are accompanied by a piece of music that buoys them to such a degree that you can’t imagine the scene playing out in any other way.  While I didn’t see every movie released this year, it was easy to come up with five moments from the ones I did see that struck me in this manner.  Hit the jump for 5 Great Film and Music Moments From 2014.

Watch the Producers from INTERSTELLAR, BOYHOOD, BIRDMAN and More Talk the Studio Culture, China, and More in 40-Minute Roundtable Discussion

by     Posted 4 days ago

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The folks at THR have released yet another roundtable interview, this time focusing on producers.  Emma Thomas (Interstellar), Cathleen Sutherland (Boyhood), Eric Fellner (The Theory of Everything), John Lesher (Birdman, Fury), Marc Platt (Into the Woods), and Peter Chernin (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Exodus: Gods and Kings, St. Vincent) take part in the 40-minute roundtable discussion, which touches on a number of topics from their unique perspective.  Two of the participants used to be studio heads, which leads to some interesting discussion about the current state of the movie studio culture (note: this was filmed before The Interview debacle).  The producers talk about everything from being fired, working with big directors, dealing with budgets, how China figures into the planning equation nowadays, and much more.  It’s a fascinating talk from a unique perspective on the filmmaking process.

Check out the roundtable discussion after the jump, and if you’ve missed the previous ones be sure to check out the directors, actresses, actors, cinematographers, and writers.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and BIRDMAN Lead Critics Choice Awards Nominations

by     Posted One week ago

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Individual critics groups are starting to weigh in with their picks for the very best of the year, and now the largest group of critics has unveiled its list of nominees for the 20th Critics Choice Movie Awards.  Made up of members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Critics Choice Awards recognize films and performances from all genres, with separate categories for Comedy, Action, etc.  Leading the pack in terms of quantity is Birdman with 13 nominations, followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel which raked in 11 nominations including Ralph Fiennes for Best Actor.  The brilliant Selma also fared well with 6 nods overall, and Unbroken rebounded a bit after being shut out of SAG and the Golden Globes with 6 nominations.  Additionally, you’ll find plenty of love for Guardians of the Galaxy and Edge of Tomorrow in the Action categories.

Check out the full list of nominees after the jump.  The 2015 Critics Choice Movie Awards will be telecast live on A&E on January 15th.

79 Original Songs and 114 Original Scores in Contention for Oscar Race

by     Posted 9 days ago

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has unveiled lists of the eligible contenders in the Oscar races for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.  In the former category I’d have to say “Everything Is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie is an early favorite, and I would love to see Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island perform on the Oscar stage.  Other standouts include two songs from Boyhood, both co-written by Ethan Hawke, and the beautiful “For the Dancing and the Dreaming” from How to Train Your Dragon 2.  On the Best Original Score side of things, it’s kind of an embarrassment of riches.  How to choose between John Powell’s Dragon 2 score, Alexandre Desplat’s incredible work on The Imitation Game, Hans Zimmer’s astounding Interstellar score, James Newton Howard‘s propulsive work on Nightcrawler, etc.?

Check out the full lists of eligible contenders in both categories (79 songs and 114 scores) after the jump, along with a bit more analysis.  Nominations for the 87th Academy Awards will be announced on January 15, 2015.

AFI Announces Top Films and TV Shows of the Year; Includes NIGHTCRAWLER, SELMA, and SILICON VALLEY

by     Posted 14 days ago

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The American Film Institute has announced its official AFI Awards 2014 selections for the best films and TV programs of the year, and the results are a little surprising.  On the film side of things, AFI expanded its Top 10 to a Top 11, included some welcome additions like Nightcrawler and Foxcatcher alongside this year’s awards staples such as Boyhood and Birdman, but they also singled out Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which is frankly a not-so-great film (though AFI did name The Dark Knight Rises one of 2012’s finest, so their track record isn’t spotless).  And no love for Gone Girl, although they did recognize Into the Woods and Interstellar.  As for TV, the stellar The Americans and The Knick made the Top 10, as did Amazon’s critically hailed Transparent, HBO’s hilarious Silicon Valley, and ABC’s addictive How to Get Away with Murder.

Check out the full AFI Awards 2014 Top 11 Films and Top 10 TV Programs after the jump. 

Watch Christopher Nolan Talk INTERSTELLAR; Confuse the Hell out of Stephen Colbert on THE COLBERT REPORT

by     Posted 16 days ago

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Christopher Nolan has a knack for making movies that are hard to get your head around. Memento, Inception, and now Interstellar all left audiences scratching their heads, and it seems none more so than Stephen ColbertInterstellar, of course, stars Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut leading a team of scientists into deep space with the hopes of finding a habitable planet to call home.  It has become one of the year’s most nitpicked and debated films, from the sound mix to the science, audiences have enjoyed scrutinizing every element of the film.

Earlier this week Nolan dropped by The Colbert Report to promote Interstellar and Colbert took the opportunity to take him to task for his resume of mind-bending movies.  Obviously we all know that in reality Colbert is an extremely intelligent man who likely understands these subjects pretty damn well, but if there’s anything more enjoyable than watching Colbert play dumb, I don’t know what it is. He even managed to make Christopher Nolan laugh, and that’s not something you see every day.  Hit the jump to check out Stephen Colbert’s interview with Christopher Nolan and find out if we’re happening now or just watching ourselves in the past.

Best Visual Effects Oscar Shortlist Includes GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, and INTERSTELLAR

by     Posted 17 days ago

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the 10 films that will advance in the race for the Best Visual Effects Oscar for the upcoming 87th Academy Awards.  Standard franchise fare like Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies make the cut, as do two Marvel movies—Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier—as well as Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Interstellar.  The only noticeable absence here is Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic Noah, which didn’t make the cut, nor did Ridley Scott’s own Biblical adaptation Exodus: Gods and Kings.  No surprise, though, that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes appears to be the standout.

Check out the full Best Visual Effects Oscar shortlist after the jump, along with a bit of analysis.

Edgar Wright and John Waters Reveal Their Top 10 of 2014 Lists; Show Love to BOYHOOD and MAPS TO THE STARS

by     Posted 21 days ago

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The critics groups and guilds will soon be announcing their year-end picks and nominations for 2014, and individual filmmakers are chiming in as well.  Edgar Wright and John Waters are the first out the gate, and their lists are both interesting.  Wright went with a nice mix of blockbusters and indies with Boyhood, Interstellar, The LEGO Movie, and Whiplash in his Top 10 while Waters went a bit more obscure with L’il Quinquin, Who Took Johnny, and Violette, although his favorite film of the year was David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars, and also put Lars Von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 and 2 on the list.

Hit the jump for the filmmakers’ lists.

Oscar Beat: The Best Director Race at a Glance

by     Posted 24 days ago

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As we head out of the Thanksgiving holiday, studios have been scrambling to get screeners out to critics and voters before early December deadlines, and some of the year’s later releases are finally starting to be seen, which means the Oscar race is becoming much clearer.  We already have one potentially huge game-changer in the form of Selma, which has enjoyed enthusiastically positive response from its initial screenings, but that film also throws a curious prospect into the mix: for the first time in history, could we actually have two female directors nominated for the Best Director Oscar?

After the jump, I consider this question as I take a look at the current state of the rather crowded Best Director race in this edition of Oscar Beat.

Read Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR Prequel Comic to Learn an Important Character’s Backstory

by     Posted 34 days ago

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Despite all of its exposition, there was still plenty in Interstellar I wish had been made clearer.  Specifically, life on Earth was vaguely defined, and just a little bit of explanation on how the Blight specifically affected society and culture would have been nice.  Christopher Nolan has now teamed with artist Sean Gordon Murphy for an Interstellar prequel comic for the latest issue of Wired (which he guest edited), but it goes into another aspect of the plot.  It’s a nice bit of writing that reveals a poetic bit of backstory, but it also doesn’t really illuminate anything about the film beyond commenting on the nature of man.

Click here to read the Interstellar prequel comic [contains spoilers]. And if you still can’t get enough of the movie and don’t mind the sound mix, click here to learn about the “Unlimited Ticket”.

Christopher Nolan Addresses INTERSTELLAR Sound Problems

by     Posted 35 days ago

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Christopher Nolan has a reputation for being incredibly meticulous when it comes to the presentation of his films.  He has lobbied in the past to have film IMAX projectors reinstalled in theaters that have been converted to digital, and he makes a point to visit a number of different theaters to personally test out the visual and audio presentation of his movies.  It’s an admirable attention to detail that shows the filmmaker genuinely cares about how his films are being experienced, and that made it all the more confusing when reports started flooding in about sound problems with his latest release, Interstellar.  Many complained that the sound mix on the film was muddled, making it difficult to hear important pieces of dialogue.  The complaints were quite large in number, but not very consistent (I saw the film in IMAX and had no trouble understanding dialogue while others cited the IMAX presentation as the worst, audio-wise).

Nevertheless, Nolan has broken his silence on the purported Interstellar sound issues, explaining that he chose an “adventurous and creative” sound mix for the self-described experimental film.  Read on after the jump.

Paramount and AMC Theaters Want You to See All 169 Minutes of INTERSTELLAR as Many Times as You Want with an “Unlimited Ticket”

by     Posted 35 days ago

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I have mixed feelings about Interstellar, but I have no doubt that if you want to see it, you have to see it on the big screen (preferably IMAX).  And if you loved Interstellar, you probably want to see it again and again except ticket prices are ridiculously high.  Paramount and AMC Theaters are teaming up to solve this problem by offering an “Unlimited Ticket”.  First, you have to be an AMC Stubs member (it’s actually not a bad membership on its own), and then the cost of an unlimited ticket is $19.99 to $34.99 based on the location of the 330 participating theaters across the country.  If you already bought a ticket for Interstellar, you can upgrade for $14.99.  The ticket works at any AMC theater and for any format of the film, including IMAX.

Sweet deal, right?  If you love Interstellar and want to keep seeing it, this is a solid value.  But I think what’s more valuable is this concept, which I’d like to see applied to other big movies.  Interstellar isn’t having the same box office hold as The Dark Knight and Inception, Nolan movies that people were happily shelling out cash to see repeatedly.  I’m curious if any other studio will take this “Unlimited Ticket” concept and apply it to any film that may doing well, but not well enough that it can comfortably count on repeat business.  Hit the jump for the press release, which contains more details.

Weekend Box Office: DUMB AND DUMBER TO Claims First with $38 Million

by     Posted 36 days ago

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After a decisive victory on Friday, Dumb and Dumber To held on to the top spot this weekend and beat most expectations in the process.  An expected challenge from Disney holdover Big Hero 6 fell a bit short, which left the comedy sequel the undisputed box office champ.  DDT opened with an estimated $38 million this weekend – easily surpassing the high end of its projections.  The sequel now ranks as the highest domestic debut ever for the Farrelly Brothers, topping 2000’s Me, Myself and Irene even after adjusting for inflation.  Both Big Hero 6 and Interstellar  had strong sophomore holds, though neither was able to overtake Harry and Lloyd in the end.

 Title Friday Total
1.  Dumb and Dumber To $38,053,000 $38
2.  Big Hero 6 $36,010,000 $111.6
3.  Interstellar $29,100,000 $97.8
4.  Beyond the Lights $6,500,000 $6.5
5.  Gone Girl $4,625,000 $152.7
6.  St. Vincent $4,025,000 $33.2
7.  Fury $3,810,000 $76
8.  Nightcrawler $3,038,000 $25
9.  Ouija $3,025,000 $48.1
10.  Birdman $2,450,000 $11.57

 

Full story after the jump.

Box Office: DUMB AND DUMBER TO Takes Friday with $14.2 Million

by     Posted 37 days ago

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Twenty years after Dumb and Dumber introduced audiences to two guys named Harry and Lloyd – and the most annoying sound in the world – the long-awaited (?) sequel has finally hit theatres.  Dumb and Dumber To opened to an estimated $14.2 million on Friday, which puts the comedy on track for between $30 and $35 million through Sunday.  That’s in line with expectations for the Universal release, though the weekend is still too close to call in the comedy’s favor.  Both Big Hero 6 and Interstellar  saw strong holds on Friday, and the animated Disney pic is also tracking in the $30 million range for its sophomore frame.

Details and Friday’s top five after the jump.

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