THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and BIRDMAN Lead Critics Choice Awards Nominations

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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.

Oscar Beat: The Best Supporting Actress Race At a Glance

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There are complaints every year that while the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories are stacked with talent, the low number of quality female roles that appear in movies makes for frustratingly thin Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress races.  Those complaints are entirely valid, and while there are indeed a plethora of excellent male roles that were on display this year, the Best Supporting Actress field has actually filled out quite nicely.  In this edition of Oscar Beat, I take a look at where the category stands right now.

Oscar Beat: 5 Things the Golden Globe Announcements, SAG Nominations, and Critics Awards Tell Us About the Season Ahead

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As evidenced by the first rounds of critics group awards and announcements of both the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, we are in the thick of awards season.  I’ve been following the race closely these past few months and taking a closer look at specific categories like Best Picture, Best Actress, and most recently Best Supporting Actor over the past few weeks in regular Oscar Beat columns, but now feels like an opportune time to take a breath and consider what the awards thus far say about the race ahead.  Does Unbroken’s snub signal a surprisingly light Oscar presence?  Will Boyhood enjoy a near clean sweep of the critics groups?  Is Jennifer Aniston on her way to an Oscar nomination?  Read on after the jump.

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

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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. 

2015 Independent Spirit Award Nominations Announced; BIRDMAN Leads with Six Including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Actor

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The 2015 Independent Spirit Award nominations have been announced, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu‘s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) leads the pack with six nominations including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), Best Male Lead (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Female (Emma Stone), and Best Supporting Male (Edward Norton).  Boyhood, Nightcrawler, and Selma weren’t far behind with each picture racking up five nominations.

I like the Independent Spirit Awards because they can shine a light on films I think deserve more attention.  This year, they’ve brought some well-deserved attention to Blue Ruin, Obvious Child, The Guest, and Force Majeure.  Hit the jump for the full list of nominees.  Winners will be announced on February 21, 2015.

PIFFF Day 1: Three Promising Debuts in TIME LAPSE, HOUSEBOUND, and NIGHTCRAWLER

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The first day of the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival kicked off with a cult classic and three first-time feature films that are a promising debut for their respective directors: Time Lapse, Housebound and Nightcrawler kept the audience on the edge of their seats, while Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare on Elm Street, programmed in the Retro category, still manages to scare us witless for 90 minutes some 30 years after its release.

Hit the jump for my reviews.

The Paris International Fantastic Film Festival 2014 Kicks Off with Takashi Miike’s THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI

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In a theater near the famous Opéra Garnier, the 4th annual Paris International Fantastic Film Festival opened Tuesday night with a screening of the Japanese yakuza film, The Mole Song: Undercover Agent ReijiTakashi Miike‘s psychedelic cinematic feast announced the many hues of this year’s selection – and in a rather explosive manner.

Miike has turned a classic infiltration plot into a top gear Technicolor action flick that borders on parody.  Reiji Kikukawa is basically a failed cop.  Maybe because he’s still a virgin.  Or simply because he’s not cut out for catching criminals.  He’s fired yet undergoes some bizarre tests to become a mole — an undercover agent.  After one of these tests where he rides naked on the hood of a car he is dropped off in the most dangerous Japanese yakuza clan, or Mafia.  No one in the force believes he’ll make it out alive, yet despite his clumsiness and lack of skills, he finds his niche … or is it luck?  And the result is a visual hyperbole.  Hit the jump for more.

TOP 5: Margot Robbie in SUICIDE SQUAD, DUMB AND DUMBER TO, Universal’s Monster Universe, INSURGENT Trailer, Doctor Doom’s New Origin in THE FANTASTIC FOUR

by     Posted 34 days ago

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I want to make this as clear as possible: if you’ve yet to check out writer/director Dan Gilroy‘s thriller Nightcrawler, you need to as quickly as you can. In his directorial debut, the veteran writer has not only crafted one of the best films of the year but also one of the most captivating protagonists in recent memory with Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Louis Bloom. The film centers on Bloom, a sociopathic thief who learns he can make a living shooting video of horrific events and selling said video to a local television news station managed by industry veteran Nina Romina (in an excellent turn by Rene Russo). As Bloom hones his craft, his price goes up and the stakes build in direct proportion. Nightcrawler should be lauded for its absolute evisceration of the local television news industry and its astute look at an economy so barren that it leaves room for this type of work to seem like an honest way to make a buck. That said, Gyllenhaal’s performance is the centerpiece and will be what Gilroy’s debut is ultimately remembered for. And rightfully so. It’s a career defining role that the actor owns from beginning to end.

Recommendation aside, this week’s Top 5 features Margot Robbie landing the role of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, interviews for and Matt’s review of Dumb and Dumber To, a few updates from Universal’s “Monster Movie Universe”, the first teaser trailer for Insurgent, and the revised origin of Toby Kebbell‘s Doctor Doom in Josh Trank‘s upcoming The Fantastic Four. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each of the above.

THE COLLISION: Episode 110 – Explaining Oscar Prognostication; NIGHTCRAWLER

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This week on The Collision, we break down the specifics of Oscar prognostication to explain how films that haven’t been released can still be in the race, where the 2014 awards race currently stands, growing and declining buzz on particular films, Mark Harris’ recent “X and Y” Oscar article, and more.  We also discuss Dan Gilroy‘s excellent new film, Nightcrawler.  As always, we finish up with our recommendations.

Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode (“Marvel Phase Three and Facing off Against Warner Bros./DC”), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg and @AdamChitwood.

Rene Russo Talks NIGHTCRAWLER, If Her Character is a Victim or Villain, Future Projects, and More

by     Posted 46 days ago

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Now playing in theaters is Nightcrawler, the stunning feature debut from writer/director Dan Gilroy.  The film centers on Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) an ambitious and morally malformed young man looking to find his fortune. When Bloom stumbles onto the world of “nightcrawlers”, film crews who capture footage of violent tragedies and sell it to the highest bidder, he finally finds his calling.  As Nina Romina, the ethically bankrupt news director who buys Bloom’s footage, Rene Russo turns in a career-best performance in a role written specifically for her. Desperate, sexy, and jaded, Nina is a devotee of the “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy, always looking for the bottom line among the blood and guts.

I recently sat down for an exclusive video interview with Rene Russo.  She talked about her reaction when she first read the script, finding the character of Nina, playing the dynamic between Lou and Nina, whether she sees her character as a villain or victim, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Box Office: NIGHTCRAWLER and OUIJA in Dead Heat on Tame Halloween Weekend

by     Posted 47 days ago

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With Halloween behind it, the weekend box office got back to the business of being… boring.  Or maybe it’s just saving it’s strength for next week – when Interstellar and Big Hero 6 kick off the year’s final quarter?  Open Road’s Nightcrawler managed to take first place – but only by the slimmest of margins.  After coming in second behind horror holdover Ouija on Halloween, it looked like the Nightcrawler would take first place with $13 million this weekend: a win for a low-budget movie that had been tracking in the $11 million range.  In the end, the original projections were correct and the box office wound up with two underwhelming estimates in a near-tie at the top.  Nightcrawler and Ouija are so close, in fact, that that the horror pic could easily come out on top after actual box office totals are released on Monday.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Nightcrawler $10,909,000 $10.9
2.  Ouija $10,900,000 $34.9
3.  Fury $9,100,000 $60.4
4.  Gone Girl $8,800,000 $136.6
5.  The Book of Life $8,300,000 $40.5
6.  John Wick $8,050,000 $27.5
7.  St. Vincent $7,752,000 $19.5
8.  Alexander and… $6,485,000 $53.6
9.  The Judge $3,400,000 $39.5
10.  Dracula Untold $2,946,000 $52.8

 

Full story after the jump.

TOP 5: NIGHTCRAWLER, Marvel Phase 3 News, First Look at TERMINATOR: GENISYS, STARRY EYES Trailer, My Favorite Halloween Movie

by     Posted 48 days ago

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After months of anticipation dating back to Matt’s Sundance review, I finally had the opportunity to check out The Babadook this week and it didn’t disappoint. Writer/director Jennifer Kent‘s film doesn’t just deliver consistent scares. It’s as moving and emotionally taxing as anything I’ve seen from the genre in years. Anchored by terrific lead performances from Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, the pic is a grueling look at fear, resentment, and a single mother’s inability to cope with the constant presence of the two. From a horror perspective, The Babadook is extremely effective throughout as Kent delivers suspense, tension, and terror with deftness I wouldn’t expect from someone making their feature debut. Thematically, the film separates itself from the pack in the way it challenges viewers to acknowledge a piece of the human condition that is best kept latent, but exists nonetheless. Make no mistake, this is a scary film. Still yet, I would recommend The Babadook even to those who typically shy away from the genre due to the unique way it tells a touching story of a mother and son learning to live with loss.

My weekly recommendation out of the way, this week’s Top 5 features interviews for and Matt’s review of Nightcrawler, a ton of Phase 3 news from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first look at Terminator: Genisys, a trailer for the horror film Starry Eyes, and write-ups for some of the staff’s favorite Halloween movies. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each of the above.

Friday Box Office: OUIJA Pulls Off Halloween Win Over NIGHTCRAWLER

by     Posted 48 days ago

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When Halloween falls on a Friday you can bet the box office will be pretty underwhelming.  With all major studios avoiding the date, Open Road Films’ Nightcrawler was expected to take first place by default.  The R-rated drama earned an estimated $3.2 million yesterday, including $515,000 from Thursday p.m. previews.  That puts it on track for about $13 million – and first place – this weekend, but it wasn’t enough to overcome horror-holdover Ouija on Halloween.  Last weekend’s number one film trailed Fury and John Wick all last week but returned to first place yesterday with an estimated $3.5 million from 2,899 locations.  That’s down 58% from its first Friday – an astonishingly good hold for most horror movies, let alone one that both critics and audiences have savaged.

Full story after the jump.

Oscar Beat: The Best Actor Race at a Glance

by     Posted 48 days ago

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Every year in the awards race, it seems like the Best Actor field is the most crowded category.  That is certainly the case with this current crop of contenders, as there is no shortage of formidable talents vying for one of the five Best Actor Oscar slots.  While it’s still a tad early to start talking about possible winners, there’s plenty to discuss with regards to chances of being nominated.  The contenders range from well-respected underdogs to recent winners, and yes, spoiler alert, many of them are playing real people.  After the jump, I take a look at the Best Actor race at a glance in this edition of Oscar Beat.

NIGHTCRAWLER Review

by     Posted 49 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  Nightcrawler opens today.]

Local TV news is sociopathic. If I came up to you and began our conversation talking about the horrible deaths of total strangers that had no larger implication than seizing on your deep-seated fears about city living, you would think I’m not only insane, but predatory. And you would be right. Dan Gilroy’s chilling, pulse-pounding Nightcrawler manifests the essence of local news and puts it inside a protagonist where a soul should be. Anchored by Jake Gyllenhaal giving the best performance of the year thus far, Gilroy’s film is a scathing and decadently amoral portrait of ice-cold calculation and ruthless ambition speeding through the dark streets of Los Angeles.

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