There’s a bit of silliness to a “Top 10″ list. It’s similar to giving letter grades to movies. We’re grading art, and trying to standardize a subjective appraisal. But perhaps the grade can be instructive. I always hope that my grade will guide you to read the full review, and then to the movie whether I liked it or not. I think people should see as many movies as possible, but I know that’s not realistic. Tickets cost too much, audiences are increasingly rude (I can’t remember the last time I went to a non-press or non-Drafthouse screening, and someone didn’t take out his or her cell phone), and the amount of entertainment options can be overwhelming. That’s where I think a Top 10 list matters. If you see only ten movies this year, these are the ones you should check out. I found them moving, funny, thoughtful, and enduring. I hope you’ll feel the same way.
Hit the jump for my Top 10 films of 2012. Please note that to make the list, the film had to receive a theatrical release in 2012. Click on the respective links for my Best of 2012, Top 10 Trailers, Dave’s Top 10 Films, and Adam’s Top 10 Films.
The nominations for the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards have been announced, and Oscar hopefuls Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom lead the pack. Both films picked up nominations for Best Feature, Director, and Screenplay with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper landing acting noms for SLP and Bruce Willis garnering a swell Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in Moonrise Kingdom. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Bernie, and Keep the Lights On round out the Best Feature nominees, while The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Safety Not Guaranteed were singled out for the Best First Feature award. Also, Matthew McConaughey pulled double nominations for his stellar work in this year’s Magic Mike and Killer Joe, landing a Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor nod, respectively. Notably shut out of the race entirely was Leos Carax‘s critically-lauded Holy Motors.
Hit the jump to check out the full list of nominations. The winners of the 2013 Spirit Awards will be announced on Saturday, February 23, 2013.
Now available on DVD/Blu-ray is the romantic dramedy Ruby Sparks, from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), about a once-famous novelist named Calvin (Paul Dano), who creates a beautiful fictitious character named Ruby (Zoe Kazan) that not only brings his work to life, but actually literally comes to life. TheDVD/Blu-ray special features include Behind the Story, Real-Life Couples: Co-stars & Directors, Be Careful What You Wish For and the theatrical trailer.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, the film’s star and screenwriter Zoe Kazan talked about how writing this feature came about, when she realized that she and her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano would be playing the roles, what writing allows her that acting doesn’t, how she originally had a different ending for the story, that she always wanted to leave the reasons for Ruby’s existence unexplained, how she just finished writing the first draft of a new project, and working with Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter franchise) on The F Word. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
This week on Blu-ray is light on quantity, but there are a couple of great works headed our way. Briefly:
Hit the jump for all the details.
A sharp, modern take on the Pygmalion myth, Ruby Sparks is the story of a novelist’s vision that inexplicably comes to life, only to prove far more complicated than even he could have imagined. Ruby (Zoe Kazan) starts out as an idea in Calvin’s (Paul Dano) mind, but he creates her with such a strong individualistic desire to be her own person that he is ultimately forced to grow in order to accommodate her strength and evolution. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris from a first screenplay by actress and playwright Kazan, the film constantly challenges the audience as it takes an unpredictable route into fantasy, identity and the ways we invent love and how love reinvents us.
At the press day for Ruby Sparks, we sat down at a roundtable interview with Kazan and Dano to talk about what happens when a writer tries to make a relationship from his imagination work in the real world. They told us what the experience was like bringing their characters to life on screen, how they approached the film’s most physically and emotionally challenging sequences, and why Dayton & Faris were the perfect duo to direct the film. They also revealed their next projects including Dano’s upcoming For Ellen, Looper and Twelve Years a Slave and Kazan’s The F-Word.
Academy Award nominees Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, the directing duo whose feature debut, Little Miss Sunshine, was a runaway hit, were excited to direct the first screenplay from actress and playwright Zoe Kazan. They loved the light touch and dash of magical realism of Ruby Sparks and how Kazan was able to write about a very complex subject in a very economical, spare and matter-of-fact way. The directors felt she had a gift for making things look easy, fun and not labored over, while at the same time, there was real depth in her work. Kazan, in turn, was convinced there could be no better match of sensibility to her story about a novelist (Calvin/Paul Dano) whose fantasy character inexplicably comes to life.
At the press day for Ruby Sparks, we sat down with Dayton & Faris at a roundtable interview to talk about directing a film that’s built around a fictional premise but illuminates so many truths about complex human relationships. They described their collaboration with Kazan, how they went about capturing the crazy, eclectic nature of Los Angeles in a romantic and naturalistic way, and the challenges of striking the right tonal balance in a film that’s a mix of pain and humor, is funny and fantastic, but also has depth and goes to dark places. The directors also discussed how the chemistry and romantic past of real-life couple Kazan and Dano brought believability to their characters on screen, and they revealed their next project, a pilot for HBO, written by comic book writer Dan Clowes.
Chris Messina is ‘the jet fuel that makes Ruby Sparks work,’ according to directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris whose new movie opens in theaters on July 25th. When Calvin (Paul Dano), a struggling writer, discovers his powerful imagination has conjured up a real life character named Ruby (Zoe Kazan), the only person he can really trust with the implausible truth is his brother, Harry (Messina), who at first is convinced Calvin is having some kind of spectacular breakdown and then begins to relish the sublime possibilities. Messina brings an ineffable Everyman quality to the role that gives the story’s fantastical elements a foundation in ordinary reality and grounds the film for audiences.
Messina, who is perhaps best known for his role in another distinctive twist on the romantic comedy, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, sat down with me for an exclusive interview to talk Ruby Sparks. He told me how the unusual script and the opportunity to work with Kazan and Dano drew him to the project, how his two sons and his older brother helped inspire his character, how he had fun bonding with Dano over golf, and what it was like working with two directors. Messina, who is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood and can currently be seen on Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, also discussed his upcoming films Celeste and Jesse Forever and Argo directed by Ben Affleck, his new Fox comedy The Mindy Project, and what fans can expect on Season 5 of Damages.
Poster round-up! Here’s what we got:
Hit the jump to check out the posters and synopses.
The first trailer for Ruby Sparks, the follow-up feature for Little Miss Sunshine directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, has gone online. The film stars Paul Dano as a once-great novelist who writes his dream girl who then comes to life. The trailer is expectedly quirky with brief touches of Stranger Than Fiction, but overall I think it looks like a lot of fun. The premise is certainly enticing, and Dano and Kazan (a couple in real life) seem to have some great onscreen chemistry. As a character hints in the trailer, I’m incredibly interested to see how this ends. It’s a brilliant plot device to play around in, but I’m assuming the success of the film as a whole will hinge on how the story concludes. In the meantime, Faris and Dayton seem to promise a follow-up not dissimilar in tone to Little Miss Sunshine.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film also stars Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, and Elliott Gould. Ruby Sparks opens on July 25th.
We’ve got a few new images to share with you today. Briefly:
- Moonrise Kingdom – Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray star in writer-director Wes Anderson’s latest film. The story centers on two 12-year-olds who fall in love at summer camp in 1965 and run away together. The film opens on May 25th.
- Ice Age: Continental Drift – The fourth film in the Ice Age franchise follows the prehistoric characters during the breakup of Pangea and the splitting of the continents. The film opens in 3D on July 13th.
- Great Hope Springs – Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as a married couple seeking a weekend of counseling from a therapist played by Steve Carell. The film opens on August 10th.
- Ruby Sparks – Directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s long-awaited follow-up to Little Miss Sunshine stars Paul Dano as a creatively blocked, once-great novelist who writes his dream girl (Zoe Kazan) who then comes to life. The film opens on July 25th.
Hit the jump to check out the new images.
Directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton scored a huge hit with Little Miss Sunshine, but had difficulty getting a follow-up off the ground. The duo was attached to Will, which was set to star Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis, but the project fell apart. There was also the possibility of the comedy The Abstinence Teacher starring Sandra Bullock and Steve Carell, but that fizzled out. Then Faris and Dayton were attached to try and get the long-in-development Used Guys into production, but it didn’t happen. Last year, they finally got a new movie in front of cameras. The film, He Loves Me, stars Paul Dano as “a once-great novelist who is creativity blocked due to heartache and loneliness, only to be turned around when he writes his dream girl (Zoe Kazan) who then comes to life.” The movie co-stars Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan, Elliott Gould, Chris Messina, and Deborah Ann Woll.
Today, Fox Searchlight sent out a press release announcing that the title had been changed to Ruby Sparks. The studio also revealed an official synopsis and a release date. Hit the jump for more.