2014 Oscar Nominations Announced; AMERICAN HUSTLE and GRAVITY Lead with 10 Nominations Each [Updated with Commentary]

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The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. American Hustle and Gravity lead with 10 nominations each, while 12 Years a Slave isn’t too far behind with 9 nominations.  Looking over my predictions, there weren’t actually too many surprises this morning–at least no genuine “snubs” on the scale of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow last year.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale made the Best Actor cut over Robert Redford and Tom HanksHer, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philomena all got Best Picture nominations over Saving Mr. Banks, and Sally Hawkins landed a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in Blue Jasmine, seemingly taking Oprah Winfrey‘s spot from Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Also, the Academy apparently did not take a liking to Saving Mr. Banks, as the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination and a Best Actress nomination for Emma Thompson.

Hit the jump to take a look at the full nominations list.  The 86th Oscars will be broadcast March 2nd on ABC. [Update: I've added my commentary on some of the categories after the jump.]

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

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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.

John Williams Confirmed to Score STAR WARS: EPISODE VII; Watch the Composer Discuss Returning to the Franchise

by     Posted 1 year, 145 days ago


It’s officially official: John Williams will compose the score for Star Wars: Episode VII.  Months ago, Williams expressed his desire to craft the music for director J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film, and Abrams subsequently said that Williams would likely be composing the score “because he was there long before I was.”  Now, out of Star Wars Celebration in Europe, Williams has confirmed that he will indeed return to the franchise for Episode VII.  This marks a break in tradition for Abrams, as he has collaborated with composer Michael Giacchino on all of his previous films.  While I personally would’ve liked to hear Giacchino’s take on the Star Wars universe, Williams’ confirmation seems to be yet another signifier that Episode VII is very closely connected to the previous Star Wars films and won’t be some sort of “reboot.”

Hit the jump to watch Williams discuss coming back for Episode VII and meeting with Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, and look for plenty more Star Wars news this weekend coming out of Star Wars Celebration in Europe.

J.J. Abrams Thinks John Williams Will Score STAR WARS: EPISODE VII

by     Posted 1 year, 233 days ago


While we know next to nothing about the developing Star Wars: Episode VII other than who’s writing (Michael Arndt), producing (Kathleen Kennedy), and directing it (J.J. Abrams), it appears that at least one detail about the project has become clear in this early production phase.  When Abrams was first announced as the director of the new Star Wars film, my immediate thought was, “It sure would be neat to hear composer Michael Giacchino’s take on a Star Wars score.”  Given that Abrams and Giacchino have been close collaborators since their days on Alias, many wondered whether the director would stick with Giacchino as his composer or if he’d bring in Star Wars staple John Williams to handle the score.

A couple of months ago Williams revealed that he hoped to be asked back to score the new Star Wars films, and now Abrams has chipped in with his two cents saying that he believes Williams will indeed return to the franchise.  Hit the jump to read on.

Hans Zimmer Talks Scoring MAN OF STEEL and Following in John Williams’ Footsteps

by     Posted 1 year, 258 days ago


Warner Bros. is taking another stab at Superman with this summer’s Man of Steel, and on top of the pressure of delivering an entertaining and successful take on Supes in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the film also follows in the footsteps of Richard Donner’s iconic take on the character.  Fans are crossing their fingers that director Zack Snyder has done Superman justice, but composer Hans Zimmer also has some big shoes to fill with regards to the pic’s score.  John Williams’ classic theme from Superman is synonymous with the character, and so Zimmer tackles the challenge of crafting something entirely different for this new iteration of Superman.

Zimmer recently talked a bit about his approach to the score and following in Williams’ footsteps, revealing that he enlisted some rather famous drummers to help out in the recording process and talking about approaching the score with an eye towards Superman’s desire to be human.  Hit the jump to read on.

John Williams Hoping to Score New STAR WARS Films

by     Posted 1 year, 304 days ago


With the new Star Wars trilogy that Disney and Lucasfilm are developing, there appears to be a serious changing of the guard taking place behind the scenes.  Series creator/shepherd George Lucas vacated his spot at the top of Lucasfilm and is now acting in a consulting capacity on the new films, and prequel trilogy producer Rick McCallum has also retired from the company, leaving Kathleen Kennedy in charge as the new Lucasfilm president and producer of the new Star Wars trilogy.

With J.J. Abrams set to direct at least the first film, Star Wars: Episode VII, wheels are in motion to bring brand new Star Wars stories to a whole new generation of fans, but it appears that at least one creative stalwart from the previous films might have a more heavy hand in the new trilogy: composer John Williams.  Hit the jump to see what Williams had to say about possibly scoring the new Star Wars films.

Critics Choice Awards: ARGO Wins Best Picture, Ben Affleck Is Best Director; SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK Picks Up Four

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argo ben affleck critics choice

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced the winners of the 18th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards tonight.  While Ben Affleck was noted as the lesser of the Best Director snubs when Oscar nominations were announced this morning, the BFCA named Affleck Best Director and his Argo Best Picture.  They feature genre awards—action, comedy, and sci-fi/horror all have their own Best Picture category—so there’s a bit of an “everybody gets a trophy” philosophy.  But that allowed Jennifer Lawrence to pick up two trophies: Best Actress in an Action Movie (The Hunger Games) and Best Actress in a Comedy (Silver Linings Playbook).  Silver Linings Playbook earned four total; the Best Comedy winner brought Lawrence’s co-star Bradley Cooper Best Actor in a Comedy and the rest of the cast Best Acting Ensemble.

The four primary acting awards went to major Oscar contenders Daniel Day-Lewis, Jessica Chastain, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Anne Hathaway.  But the BFCA also found room for Collider favorites Skyfall, Looper, and Cloud Atlas.  See the full list after the break.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Blu-ray Review

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In director Steven Spielberg’s four decade-long career, the filmmaker has tackled a variety of genres and topics that amounts to a delightfully diverse oeuvre.  In the early 2000s, Spielberg was coming off three back-to-back films that dealt with fairly heady material (Saving Private Ryan, A.I., and Minority Report) and decided to tackle something a bit lighter.  He assembled a top notch cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, and the result is arguably one of the most entertaining films of Spielberg’s entire career: Catch Me If You Can.  The 2002 film has been digitally remastered and released on Blu-ray for the very first time, and you can read my review of the home video release after the jump.

Watch: Steven Spielberg Talks LINCOLN and the Evolution of His Career in Revealing 60 MINUTES Interview

by     Posted 2 years, 57 days ago


Director Steven Spielberg has been working on bringing President Abraham Lincoln to the big screen for over a decade, and his long-in-the-works project finally hits theaters next month with Lincoln.  In the first of what is likely quite a few profiles of the director and his film leading into awards season, Spielberg recently sat down with 60 Minutes to discuss the project’s development and production, as well as his career.  Surprisingly, much of the interview focuses on Spielberg’s upbringing and how his estranged relationship with his father (and later reconciliation) affected his career.

There’s also some great stuff about Lincoln, including an interview with Daniel Day-Lewis and the revelation that Spielberg and sound designer Ben Burtt got permission to record the ticking of Lincoln’s actual watch to use in the film.  Both pieces of the interview are a must-see for film fans.  Hit the jump to take a look.  Lincoln opens on November 9th in limited release and November 16th wide.

Zack Snyder Confirms MAN OF STEEL Won’t Use John Williams’ Music; Says Film Asks ‘What Would You Do if You Were Superman?’

by     Posted 2 years, 127 days ago


Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot Man of Steel has been a giant question mark for fans for quite some time.  We finally got our look at the first footage from the film at Comic-Con, and the general public was treated to a significantly truncated version of that footage by way of the film’s first teaser trailer.  Noticeably absent were Snyder’s trademark slow motion and stylized camera movements, instead replaced by a grittiness and real world grounding reminiscent of one Christopher Nolan (which isn’t exactly a surprise given that Nolan is Man of Steel’s producer).

Though Snyder and star Henry Cavill took part in the Man of Steel Comic-Con panel, the director didn’t really talk much about his approach to the character at the time.  Snyder has now spoken up a bit about his Superman in Man of Steel and why acknowledging John Williams’ classic score from the previous films wasn’t an option.  Hit the jump for more.

TOP 5: MAN OF STEEL, THE CAMPAIGN Set Visit, CLOUD ATLAS Trailer and Images, THE WATCH Interviews, Batman by the Numbers

by     Posted 2 years, 143 days ago


As you’re likely aware, the 2012 Summer Olympics kicked off in London yesterday. In other words, it’s time for me to care about competitive swimming and gymnastics for the first time since the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. To all of our readers, especially those internationally-based, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the Summer Olympics. Is it an event that evokes your inner-patriotism and love of otherwise obscure athletic feats? Do you take great joy in defeating the ol’ U.S. of A. in something other than Math and Science scores? Sound off in the comments.

This Saturday brings us the Man of Steel teaser trailer set to John Williams‘ original Superman score, coverage from our visit to the set of Will Ferrell and Zach GalifianakisThe Campaign, an extended trailer and first official images from Cloud Atlas, interviews with the fellas of The Watch, and Brendan’s latest By the Numbers installment covering The Caped Crusader from Batman: The Movie to The Dark Knight Rises. Unless you’re a Top 5 noob (in which case, welcome aboard!), you know that a brief recap and link to each can be found after the jump.

Watch the MAN OF STEEL Trailer Set to John Williams’ SUPERMAN Score

by     Posted 2 years, 147 days ago


The first teaser trailer for director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel finally debuted last weekend with The Dark Knight Rises, and audiences were given their first taste of what the new iteration of Superman will entail.  While the clip didn’t show nearly as much footage as the reel we saw at Comic-Con, it did a pretty nice job of announcing to audiences that a new—and decidedly different—Superman is on the way.  My only minor qualm with the trailer was the use of Howard Shore’s incredibly recognizable (and fantastic) score from The Lord of the Rings.  I was left thinking, “Did Gandalf just die?” instead of being wholly enveloped by this new Superman story.

For fans that weren’t crazy about the music choice, or for classic Superman fans in general, the Internets have kicked up quite the gem.  Someone has removed Shore’s score and replaced it with John William’s classic theme from 1978’s Superman as the backing track for the Man of Steel trailer.  Hit the jump to check out the incredibly swell new cut.

2012 Annie Award Winners Announced; RANGO Named Best Animated Feature

by     Posted 2 years, 317 days ago


The 2012 Annie Awards were held last night, and critical favorite Rango ended up deservedly taking home the Best Animated Feature award. Gore Verbinski’s quirky western also took home the award for Best Writing in a Feature Production, Best Editing, and the Members Favorite Award, but lost Best Directing to Kung Fu Panda 2’s Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Bill Nighy won Best Voice Acting for Arthur Christmas, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes took home the Character Animation in a Live Action Feature Production award.

On the television side of things, The Simpsons was awarded the top prize as well as Best Directing and Best Writing. Heading into the Academy Awards, Rango is our clear frontrunner. The Adventures of Tintin was pegged as the film’s biggest competition at the Oscar ceremony, but the Steven Spielberg film was ultimately left out of the nominations. Hit the jump to see the full list of Annie Awards Winners.

2012 Oscar Nominations Announced; HUGO and THE ARTIST Lead the Pack

by     Posted 2 years, 329 days ago


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.


by     Posted 2 years, 360 days ago


“A Boy and His Pet” stories can be immensely charming.  Pets are sweet and they look up to the boy (or girl, but usually it’s a boy in these stories) and the boy loves his faithful friend.  The genre started out as a “A Boy and His Dog”, but has expanded to “A Boy and His Robot” (The Iron Giant) and “A Boy and His Dragon” (How to Train Your Dragon).  Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse pulls it back to terrestrial creatures and starts out trying to tell the story of a boy and his horse.  But then the movie changes gears, separates the two and rather than show the struggle of both to get back to the other, the story uses the horse to try and tell a series of vignettes about life during World War I.  However, those vignettes lose their honesty when Spielberg refuses to show the devastating horror of war.

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