The Films of Andrew Dominik: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Andrew Dominik’s second feature film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an unmitigated masterpiece.  After testing out his prowess on the fleet, trim Chopper Dominik went for a stately sprawl for his followup and pulled it off with remarkable precision.  A slow, meditative western with a commercially unwieldly title (Brad Pitt reportedly made it part of his deal that the studio wasn’t allowed to abbreviate it)  -  the film was facing an uphill commercial battle from the beginning, despite the starpower of its lead.  Not knowing how to market such a thing, Warner Bros. released Jesse James into a scant 301 theaters in the fall of 2007 to the tune of a $3.9 million domestic gross.

Angelina Jolie to Next Direct Richard Leakey Biopic AFRICA; Roger Deakins Will Act as Cinematographer

by     Posted 33 days ago

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Angelina Jolie is showing no signs of slowing down as a filmmaker.  After making her debut with 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, Jolie won the highly coveted director’s job of the World War II drama Unbroken.  She put together a top-notch team including screenwriters Joel and Ethan Coen and cinematographer Roger Deakins, and while that highly anticipated film is slated to hit theaters in December, Jolie is already hard at work on her next directorial effort, the small-scale drama By the Sea starring herself and Brad Pitt.  But now, in the midst of shooting one film and readying another for release, Jolie is already lining up her next next film as a director: Africa.  Jolie has signed on to direct the biopic of paleo-archeologist Richard Leakey, who devoted his life to combating elephant and rhino poaching.

Hit the jump for more on the project, including the news that Deakins will be putting his genius to work in capturing the African landscape.

HER and INTERSTELLAR Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema to Replace Roger Deakins on BOND 24; May Shoot on Film

by     Posted 36 days ago

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It was incredibly disappointing to hear that cinematographer Roger Deakins would not be returning for Bond 24 after doing such a stunning job on Skyfall.  However, as production on the next Bond installment is poised to get underway in December, director Sam Mendes has now settled on Deakins’ replacement, and it’s an excellent choice.  In Contention reports that Hoyte van Hoytema will be the cinematographer on Bond 24, marking yet another fantastic notch in what’s becoming a heck of a run in the director of photography’s career.  The Dutch-Swedish cinematographer first came to prominence for shooting the original Let the Right One In, going on to do equally arresting work on films like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and last year’s Her.  Most recently, though, he nabbed his most high profile film to date as Christopher Nolan hand-picked him to replace his longtime collaborator Wally Pfister on the upcoming Interstellar.

And not only is Hoytema a brilliant choice to shoot Bond 24, but the movie might actually be shooting on film this time around.  More after the jump.

Watch: Celebrate the Work of Master Cinematographer Roger Deakins in Gorgeous Supercut

by     Posted 70 days ago

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Video tributes, or “supercuts” as they’re sometimes called, are rather commonplace, and while most of them are pretty one-note, today a video surfaced online that’s too good not to share.  Titled “Shadows in the Valley”, this video is a celebration of the work of cinematographer Roger Deakins, piecing together just a few of the masterful shots that make up his illustrious career.  From The Assassination of Jesse James to Skyfall to Barton Fink to Fargo to The Shawshank Redemption to O Brother Where Art Thou to No Country for Old Men, Deakins’ filmography is filled with gorgeous film after gorgeous film.  He’s a true genius at manipulating and capturing light, and he’s one of the most gifted people working today.  We have only one Deakins-led film to look forward to this year, the war drama Unbroken, but this video is a wonderful reminder of the variety of work Deakins has elicited, which somehow also feels so singular.

Hit the jump to watch the Roger Deakins video, which was put together by Plot Point Productions, and sound off in the comments with some of your personal favorite Deakins shots.

Roger Deakins Will Not Return as Cinematographer for BOND 24

by     Posted 246 days ago

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One of the great things about Skyfall (and there are many) is the phenomenal cinematography by Roger Deakins.  Obviously Deakins always turns in fantastic work, but his collaboration with director Sam Mendes on the James Bond pic was jaw-droppingly gorgeous—which makes the news that Deakins won’t be returning for Bond 24 that much more disappointing.  After some wavering, Mendes and Skyfall screenwriter John Logan agreed to direct and write the next Bond film, respectively, but In Contention’s Kris Tapley took to Twitter today to break the sad news that Deakins will not be back as cinematographer.  Hit the jump for more.

3-Way Tie Leads to Seven Nominations from Cinematographers Society; Costume Designer Guild Nominates Braless Wonder AMERICAN HUSTLE

by     Posted 287 days ago

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The major guilds have all chimed in with their nominees, and as Adam has pointed out in his Oscar Beat column, this gives us a clearer picture of who might be getting Oscar nominations when they’re announced next week.  But it’s important to remember that guilds usually share members with the Academy, and now the American Society of Cinematographers and the Costume Designers Guild have chimed in with their nominees.

If you need proof that 2013 featured some beautifully shot pictures, the ASC ended up nominating seven films instead of five because there was a three-way tie.  As for the costume designers, the plunging necklines of American Hustle earned a nomination as did the also-glamorous The Great Gatsby.  I’m also pleased with the nomination for Her.  One of the things I noticed on my third viewing was the subtle way that designer Casey Storm provided a “futuristic” fashion by having the men wear high wool pants and button the top button of collared shirts.  It’s just another nice touch to a great movie.  Hit the jump for a full list of the nominees from both guilds.

PRISONERS Review

by     Posted 1 year, 33 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.  Prisoners opens tomorrow.]

There’s enough symbolism and religious themes to give Prisoners some weight. There’s enough curiosity to keep its mystery intriguing. Director Denis Villeneuve does slightly more than expected to keep us interested in its segregated storyline where one hand provides the mystery and the other hand provides some semblance. In between is a film that’s far longer than it needs to be but is supported by Roger Deakins’ striking cinematography and a great cast with a standout performance from Hugh Jackman.

Oscar Beat TIFF 2013: PHILOMENA Launches Judi Dench into Best Actress Race; Hugh Jackman Shines in PRISONERS

by     Posted 1 year, 43 days ago

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As the first weekend of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival heads toward a close, we’ve already seen a number of serious Oscar contenders emerge.  While 12 Years a Slave and Gravity will certainly be heavy hitters in a number of categories, there are a couple of other TIFF films that could nab just one or two nods comes Oscar time.  Judi Dench’s wonderful turn in the pleasantly surprising drama Philomena may very well put her back in the Best Actress race, and Hugh Jackman’s strong performance in the taut thriller Prisoners has a slight possibility of landing him a second Best Actor nomination.

Hit the jump for my rundown of the Oscar prospects of Philomena and Prisoners in this special TIFF edition of Oscar Beat.

Angelina Jolie’s UNBROKEN Set for Release on Christmas Day 2014; Jack O’Connell to Star [UPDATED]

by     Posted 1 year, 104 days ago

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While Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey earned a limited release when it first hit theaters, her next film is getting a very wide opening.  Universal Pictures announced today that Jolie’s Unbroken will hit theaters on December 25, 2014, just in time for the holiday (and awards) season.  Based on the non-fiction book by Lauren Hillenbrand, the film tells the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943.  Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer.

Embedded in the press release regarding the release date is the fantastic news that the immensely talented Roger Deakins (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) will be acting as the director of photography on the pic, which boasts a screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen.  Production on Unbroken should begin later this year.  The other films currently scheduled for release on Christmas next year are the Annie remake, Disney’s star-studded musical Into the Woods, and Night at the Museum 3.  Hit the jump to read the press release.  [Update: Variety reports that, after a screen testing processJack O'Connell (300: Rise of an Empire) has been tapped to lead the film.]

Production Begins on Denis Villeneuve’s Thriller PRISONERS, Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal

by     Posted 1 year, 244 days ago

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Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. have announced the start of production of director Denis Villeneuve’s (Incedies) dramatic thriller Prisoners.  The film stars Hugh Jackman as a working-class Boston father who sets out to track down the man he believes is responsible for kidnapping his daughter and her friend. Along the way, he runs up against the big city detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) assigned to the case.  Filming is underway in Georgia, with an impressive supporting cast that includes Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, and Viola Davis.

The screenplay was written by Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband), and Mark Wahlberg is onboard as one of the film’s executive producers.  Moreover, genius cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) is handling the camera work.  Hit the jump to read the full press release.  Prisoners opens on September 20th of this year.

Roger Deakins Wins American Society of Cinematographers’ Feature Film Award for SKYFALL

by     Posted 1 year, 254 days ago

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If you need more proof that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is insane, look no further than Roger Deakins.  Deakins is one of the greatest cinematographers of all-time, and before this year, he had racked up nine Oscar nominations without ever taking home the statue.  He picked up his tenth nomination this year for Skyfall, and tonight he won the Feature Film Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.  It was his third award from the ASC after having won in 1995 for The Shawkshank Redemption and in 2002 for The Man Who Wasn’t There.  He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASC in 2011.  Oscar prognosticators are still putting Life of Pi as the favorite to win Best Cinematography, but perhaps tenth time will be the charm for Deakins.

Hit the jump for the press release.  The 85th Academy Awards will be held on February 24th at 7pm EST on ABC.

2013 Oscar Nominations Announced; LINCOLN Leads with 12 Nominations, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck Snubbed for Best Director

by     Posted 1 year, 285 days ago

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The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards have been announced, and it’s quite a whirlwind of nominees.  As expected, Lincoln landed the most nominations with 12, followed with Ang Lee’s Life of Pi which nabbed 11.  The big story here, though, is the Best Director category.  Shockingly, only two (two!) of the DGA nominees for Best Director made the Oscar cut: Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg.  The rest of the category was filled out by Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern WildDavid O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, and Michael Haneke for Amour.  It was almost guaranteed that Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow would be landing nominations for Argo and Zero Dark Thirtyrespectively, but shockingly neither made the cut.  Apparently those films just directed themselves.  Based off today’s nominations, it now looks like it’s (surprisingly) down to Lincoln vs. Silver Linings Playbook for the big win.

Hit the jump to check out the list of nominees, and click here to check them against my predictions (somehow I predicted the Best Picture and Supporting Actor categories perfectly).  The 85th Academy Awards will take place on February 24th.

2013 American Society of Cinematographers Award Nominations Include SKYFALL, LIFE OF PI, and ANNA KARENINA

by     Posted 1 year, 286 days ago

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In anticipation of the announcement of the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards tomorrow morning, the American Society of Cinematographers has announced its list of nominees for outstanding achievement in cinematography.  Roger Deakins was singled out for his gorgeous work on this year’s Skyfall, as was Claudio Miranda for the breathtaking Life of Pi.  The list of nominees is rounded out by Seamus McGarvey for Anna Karenina, Danny Cohen for Les Miserables, and Janusz Kaminski for Lincoln.

Deakins has been nominated by the ASC for a total of 11 times now, winning for The Shawshank Redemption and The Man Who Wasn’t There.  Shockingly, he has never won an Academy Award despite being nominated for fantastic work like The Assassination of Jesse James, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit, but this could very well be his year.  Hit the jump to read the full press release, and click here to read my predictions for tomorrow’s Oscar nominations.  The ASC Awards will be held on February 10th.

Best Performances, Directing, and Other Miscellany of 2012

by     Posted 1 year, 300 days ago

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In past years for my “Best of” list, I’ve been able to provide fun categories like “Best Kill” and “Best Quotes”, but sadly, that won’t be happening this year.  I keep notes throughout the year, but in July, my hard drive crashed, and because I am a foolish person, I didn’t back up the notes to a separate drive.  However, I do have enough information to do the traditional categories as well as Breakthrough Performance, “A Very Good Year”, Best Villain, Best Surprises, Biggest Disappointments, and a new category, “Best Movie You Probably Missed This Year.”  One final note: unlike previous years, the film had to come out in 2012; festival-only flicks don’t count, so that’s why there’s no love for The Place Beyond the Pines on this year’s list.

Hit the jump to check out my miscellaneous “Best of 2012″ picks.  Be sure to keep checking back this week as we’ll be running Top 10 lists from Adam, Dave, and me.

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Names AMOUR Best Picture; New York Film Critics Online and Boston Society of Film Critics Award ZERO DARK THIRTY

by     Posted 1 year, 316 days ago

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Director Kathryn Bigelow’s drama Zero Dark Thirty continues its dominant critics awards path, as it has picked up two more Best Picture wins from the New York Film Critics Online and Boston Society of Film Critics groups, adding to its previous wins from the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review.  Bigelow also won Best Director from both organizations, while Daniel Day-Lewis took home Best Actor for LincolnEmmanuelle Riva won Best Actress from New York and Boston, while she shared the award in a tie with Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook in the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Los Angeles broke from the mold a bit by naming director Michael Haneke‘s devastating French-language film Amour the Best Film of the year.  They also awarded Paul Thomas Anderson Best Director for The Master and Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Dwight Henry the Best Supporting Actor honor in a couple of pleasant surprises.  Hit the jump for the full list of winners from all three critics groups.

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