by     Posted 33 days ago


This week’s new Blu-ray releases include one of the best comedy sequels ever made, another sequel that was at one point highly anticipated but bombed on release, a Frank Capra classic on Criterion, HD upgrades for Studio Ghibli fetaures, and more.  Briefly:

First Clip from Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-Nominated THE WIND RISES, Featuring the Voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stanley Tucci

by     Posted 305 days ago


Opening this weekend in limited release is Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises.  Inspired by the Tatsuo Hori novel, The Wind Rises tells the tale of young Jiro (voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni (voice of Stanley Tucci).  Using historical events as a backdrop, the film also follows Jiro in his relationship with Nahoko (voice of Emily Blunt), and his friendship with his colleague Honjo (voice of John Krasinski).

Expanding to a wide theatrical release starting February 28th, the English voice cast of The Wind Rises also features Martin Short, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey, and William H. Macy.  Hit the jump to watch the clip.

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

by     Posted 340 days ago


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.]


by     Posted 356 days ago


In addition to the first official image and synopsis from Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney has unveiled some new images from the following 2014 films:

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Director Miguel Arteta’s adaptation of the Judith Viorst book stars Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne, Dylan Minnette, Megan Mullally and Ed Oxenbould, and opens October 10th.
  • Captain America: The Winter SoldierAnthony and Joe Russo’s superheroic sequel stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Dominic Cooper, Frank Grillo, Sebastian Stan and Cobie Smulders, and opens April 4th.
  • Million Dollar ArmCraig Gillespie’s sports drama starring Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Aasif Mandvi, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton and Bar Paly opens May 16th.
  • Need for SpeedScott Waugh’s adaptation of the street-racing video game series stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Dakota Johnson, Chillie Mo, Sir Maejor, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek and Michael Keaton, and opens March 14th.
  • The Wind RisesHayao Miyazaki’s latest animated effort out of Studio Ghibli lands on American shores February 21st with an English voice cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Elijah Wood, Stanley Tucci, Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey and John Krasinski.

Hit the jump to view the images.

English-Language Voice Cast for Hayao Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES Includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, and Mandy Patinkin

by     Posted 1 year, 5 days ago


Walt Disney Studios will be distributing director Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Wind Rises to domestic audiences early next year, and today the studio has unveiled the voice talent that will be dubbing the English-language version of the Studio Ghibli film.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt will lend his voice to the lead role of Jiro Horikoshi, while the rest of the cast will be filled out by John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss, Ronan Farrow, and Elijah Wood.  The film tells the story of the man who designed the Zero Fighter used by Japanese pilots in World War II, and examines the Japan’s turbulent first half of the 20th century as the country struggled through an earthquake and economic fallout.

Hit the jump to read the full cast list, which denotes the characters that the actors will be voicing. Click here to read Matt’s review of the film.  The Wind Rises will open in select North American theaters on February 21, 2014 before expanding wide on February 28, 2014.

Los Angeles, Boston, and New York Online Critics Announce Awards; HER and GRAVITY Tie for Best Picture in LA Awards

by     Posted 1 year, 14 days ago


The critics group awards are off and running.  Last week we saw the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, and the Boston Online Critics announce their annual awards, and today we have three more groups to add to the pile.  12 Years a Slave won Best Picture in the Boston and New York Online groups, but the Los Angeles voting resulted in a tie for Best Picture between Gravity and HerAlfonso Cuaron took Best Director in the Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Online awards, while Boston went for 12 Years a Slave’s Steve McQueen.  While many votes seemed to be in line with early predictions, James Franco shared the Best Supporting Actor moniker in the Los Angeles group for his work in Spring Breakers.

If there’s one takeaway from the critics group awards we’ve seen thus far, it’s that Spike Jonze’s Her has a heavy amount of love in the film community, which could very well translate to Oscar.  Hit the jump to read the full list of winners for all three groups, as well as the runners up for the L.A. and Boston awards.

National Board of Review Names HER Best Film of the Year; GRAVITY, PRISONERS, and WOLF OF WALL STREET Land in Top 10

by     Posted 1 year, 18 days ago


The critics awards are off and running after the New York Film Critics Circle announced its picks for the best of the year yesterday, and today the National Board of Review has named Her the best picture of 2013.  Spike Jonze was also named Best Director for the film, while the acting honors went to Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Will Forte (Nebraska), and Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station).  Always an eclectic list, the NBR’s Top 10 includes The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, Lone Survivor, and Prisoners.  Wholly absent from the Top 10 is the NYFCC’s pick for Best Film, American Hustle.

The NBR winner for Best Picture has failed to match up with Oscar since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, as last year’s award went to Zero Dark Thirty, but for the past 13 years every NBR winner has landed a Best Picture nomination, so this bodes well for Her‘s Oscar prospects.  Read the full list of NBR winners after the jump.

New York Film Critics Circle Names AMERICAN HUSTLE Best Film; Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, and Jennifer Lawrence Win Acting Honors

by     Posted 1 year, 19 days ago


The “awards” portion of this year’s awards season has officially begun.  The New York Film Critics Circle is always the first critics group out of the gate, and today they named American Hustle the best film of the year.  The move comes as a slight surprise given that Hustle only first screened a week ago and 12 Years a Slave and Gravity have been the Best Picture frontrunners for the past few months, but the awards race may be in for a twist.  Steve McQueen was awarded Best Director for 12 Years a Slave, Robert Redford took Best Actor for All Is Lost, and Cate Blanchett began what’s sure to be an awards season sweep of Best Actress trophies.  American Hustle picked up three awards in total, including Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Lawrence and Best Screenplay.  The excellent Blue Is the Warmest Color was named Best Foreign Film, and Stories We Tell won Best Documentary.

Hit the jump to see the full list of winners and for my commentary on what this means for the coming Oscar season.

FROZEN and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Lead 2013 Annie Awards with 10 Nominations Each

by     Posted 1 year, 20 days ago


The Annie Awards, which awards animation and not ginger orphans, have announced their 2013 nominations.  Leading the pack are Disney’s Frozen and Pixar’s Monsters University with each film picking up ten nominations.  The other nominees for Best Animated Feature are A Letter to Momo, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, The Croods, and The Wind Rises.  Since all qualitative evaluations of art inevitably invite fury at snubs, I will rail against The Croods being nominated over Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Hit the jump for the full list of nominees.  Winners will be announced on February 1, 2014.

U.S. Trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES

by     Posted 1 year, 34 days ago


The U.S. trailer for filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s new—and possibly final—Studio Ghibli film The Wind Rises has been released online.  The movie centers on Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Zero Fighter used by Japanese pilots in World War II, and examines the Japan’s turbulent first half of the 20th century as the country struggled through an earthquake and economic fallout.  The pic screened at the Toronto International Film Festival to a relatively positive response, but our own Matt Goldberg was disappointed in the picture, calling it Miyazaki’s weakest film in his review.  This dialogue-less trailer highlights the film’s gorgeous animation while flanked by positive pull-quotes from the TIFF reviews, and fans of Miyazaki’s work will surely be interested to see what his farewell picture entails.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  The film will open in U.S. theaters on February 21st in limited release, expanding in the following weeks.

Oscar Beat: 19 Animated Features Submitted for 86th Academy Awards

by     Posted 1 year, 47 days ago


19 animated feature films have been submitted for consideration for the 86th Annual Academy Awards, and it’s clear that this is a very thin year for the Best Animated Feature race.  Monsters University and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 feel like the biggest standouts, and while MU is certainly a strong effort from Pixar, it’s tough to imagine those two rousing the same kind of passion that previous nominees like How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, or even ParaNorman instilled.  DreamWorks Animation has two contenders in the bunch with The Croods and Turbo, while Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2, Blue Sky’s Epic, and Disney’s Planes and Frozen are also eligible for nominations.  Hayao Miyazaki’s latest feature The Wind Rises is also among the submitted films.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of submitted features and for my early thoughts on the Best Animated Feature Oscar race.  The 86th Oscars will be held on March 2, 2014.  To catch up on all of our Oscar Beat coverage thus far, click here.

AFI FEST 2013 Announces Full Program Including Ari Folman’s THE CONGRESS, Hayao Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES, and Eli Roth’s THE GREEN INFERNO

by     Posted 1 year, 61 days ago


The full program for AFI Fest 2013 has been announced.  The selection of 119 films from 43 countries include Ari Folman’s The Congress, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, and Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno.  Free individual tickets to AFI FEST screenings and galas will be available to AFI members on Monday, October 28 and Tuesday, October 29 in a 48-hour advance window before they become available to the general public on Wednesday, October 30 and Thursday, October 31.

AFI Fest 2013 runs November 7th through the 14th at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  Hit the jump for the full programming list.

Hayao Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES Gets Oscar-Qualifying Run in New York/LA November 8-14; Wide Release to Follow in February 2014

by     Posted 1 year, 102 days ago


When a film of a certain pedigree is scheduled for release anytime after October, we peg it as an Oscar hopeful.  Disney is explicit about it with The Wind Rises.  Disney scheduled to show the latest Hayao Miyazaki feature in Japanese with English subtitles November 8-14 in New York and Los Angeles for “Academy Award qualification engagements.”  The limited release comes three months later on February 21, 2014 before expanding wide (and presumably dubbed in English) on February 28.

Miyazaki has been successful at the Oscars since the turn of the century.  Spirited Away won Best Animated Feature in 2003 and Howl’s Moving Castle was nominated in 2006.  Ponyo went unnoticed, but The Wind Rises is Miyazaki’s final film before he retires, so the Disney marketing machine can easily coast on a wave of good feelings for the director to land a nomination.  Check out Matt’s review from TIFF and hit the jump for the press release.


by     Posted 1 year, 102 days ago


Director Hayao Miyazaki has taken audiences to magical, alluring worlds throughout his filmography.  He’s shown us witches, sorcerers, buses that are also cats, and so much more.  His latest (and, if he’s truly retiring, final) film, The Wind Rises, leaves the fantastical behind to focus on the true story of the man who designed Japan’s Zero Fighter for World War II.  The movie is almost completely unlike anything Miyazaki has ever done, and while his attempt to try something new is admirable, it’s also by far his weakest picture.  Trapped inside a realistic world, Miyazaki’s story feels restrained and lifeless with only the dream sequences providing any spark to a story about a nice-guy workaholic who was also in love with a nice girl.

Hayao Miyazaki to Retire from Filmmaking

by     Posted 1 year, 112 days ago


Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki is retiring.  Studio Ghibli president Hoshino Koji announced earlier today at the Venice Film Festival that the 72-year-old filmmaker and master of animation is retiring, but further questions about the decision were not answered.  Miyazaki first started working as an animator in 1961, going on to co-found the wonderful Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, where he directed a number of highly regarded animation features including 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro, 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1995’s Princess Mononoke, and 2007’s Ponyo.

This is not the first time that Miyazaki has announced retirement, as he previously took a sabbatical after Princess Mononoke, only to come return to direct 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle.  Miyazaki’s latest—and probably final—film, The Wind Rises, is currently making the festival rounds and is poised to play Telluride this weekend and the Toronto International Film Festival next week.  Hit the jump to relive some highlights from Miyazaki’s career.

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