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Friday
Jan092015

Animated Feature Contenders: Henry & Me

Tim here. With the Oscar nominations coming in just under a week, this is our last chance to look at the little odds and ends on the list of 20 films submitted in the Best Animated Feature category, and pretend that the race isn’t down to The LEGO Movie and five movies vying for four runner-up slots. And of all the odds and ends, they don't come a whole lot odder than our final subject, Henry & Me.

Henry & Me is a direct-to-DVD feature that finagled a courtesy theatrical release, no doubt in part so that it would show up in articles like this one, and win some free publicity as a calling-card for young Reveal Animation Studios, and raise the profile of a release that’s seeing a healthy chunk of its sales going to charity. The risk of such a gambit is that it relies on the reviewer playing nice with a sweet-minded but rather dim bit of nonsense.

More...

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Friday
Jan092015

Jessica Chastain is Everything. And Other Links

Let's start with this super cute pic of Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac which she labelled

Feeling the power of the NBR

Remember the other day when we linked to that article using old Streep quotes to attack Russell Crowe's ageist comments about actresses? Well, Streep went and ruined it by defending him in public. So Jessica Chastain, inbetween taking super cute photos on the Oscar campaign trail, is on it, she told People:

I think there are some incredible actresses in their 50s and 60s that are not getting opportunities in films. And for someone to say there are plenty of roles for women that age – they're not going to the movies enough."

Preach, Jessica. Preach! 

Pajiba fascinating think piece on how ineffective Nielsen ratings are and why it's unacceptable that the media still uses them like a Bible
NYT Rod Taylor (The Birds, The Time Machine, The Twilight Zone), dies at 84
MCN David Poland's top ten (oops, eleven) list includes unlikely titles: Big Eyes, Fury, The Gambler and more
The Film Stage Matt Damon will headline Alexander Payne's next feature Downsizing
EW talks to Andrew Fleming about Honeymoon on Vegas (now a Broadway musical) and the rest of his filmography 

VF I missed this bit of Captain Chris Evans escorting Betty White to the stage at the People's Choice. I never watch that. What did I miss?
Variety Michael C Hall joins Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Wes Bentley in the new Pete's Dragon. Apparently the remake is not a musical? Boo. Especially considering that Michael C Hall is totally a musical guy!
Breathe Heavy photoshopping underwear ads with Justin Bieber 

Awardsy
THR on the Weinstein Co playbook for making unknowns like Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) viable Best Director contenders
Guardian Controversy continues to erupt around American Sniper. right-wingers have called for the death of those criticizing Chris Kyle (who is played by Bradley Cooper in the film). Good christ, I hope AMPAS dodges this bullet. 
Q & Andy from Interview Ava DuVernay has the answers 
The Hairpin more on DuVernay's "quiet revolution"

Exit Tease
In case you didn't turn the internet on in the past 48 hours or so, that's the poster for Netflix's Daredevil with its surprisingly early debut date. I know I should be done with superheroes -- they're as overexposed as its possible to be but Daredevil holds a stubborn place in my heart (despite Ben Affleck and team trying to remove it without anesthetia) and Charlie Cox is über-adorable. So I'm kinda excited. I know. I know. I'm part of the problem. 

 

Friday
Jan092015

Centennial Beauties: Anita & Fernando

Today marks the 100th birthday of two extremely beautiful screen stars of yore, Anita Louise and Fernando Lamas. Anita, born in New York City in 1915 played Titania, Queen of the Fairies in Midsummer Nights Dream (the film that brought Olivia de Havilland into our worlds), when she was just twenty, long before La Pfeiffer got around to shimmering in similarly gauzy long haired Titania fashion in 1999. [More...]

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Thursday
Jan082015

Everybody Freeze! Oscar Nomination Ballots Are Due

Everybody make like Prince Charming and freeze 'On the Steps of the Palace.'

At 5:00 PM PST / 8:00 PM EST this evening Oscar nominating ballots were officially due. Full stop. No really, STOP. May all your favorites be nominated on January 15th. Unless they conflict with my favorites. Over the next four days we'll be revising each Oscar chart with final predictions but freeze that buzz where it's at right now because everything from this point forward can only either a) entertain us movie nuts b) help or hurt at the box office c) help or hurt careers d) influence Oscar wins or e) influence future Oscar races when it comes time to make up for past slights. As they do.

How will you be celebrating this momentous nerve-wracking week now as we wait?

BAFTA nominations are announced tomorrow morning (aka while we're sleeping) The Golden Globes are Sunday night. And a week from today, Oscar nominations are announced. The red carpet unfurls forever. 

Thursday
Jan082015

A Quick Chat with Jenny Slate Who Will Love Her Future No Matter What!

Jenny Slate, one of last year's biggest breakthroughs, started 2014 on a career high and still hasn't come down. Obvious Child was so buzzy at the 2014 festival that you can be reasonably sure that comedies from the forthcoming 2015 festival will see themselves held up in comparison 'what's this year's Obvious Child?'  After a successful limited release, Jenny Slate found herself on red carpets and snow she's up for a Critics Choice Award a week from today.

Best Actress in a Comedy, Critics Choice Movie Awards
Rose Byrne – Neighbors
Rosario Dawson – Top Five
Melissa McCarthy – St. Vincent
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Kristen Wiig – The Skeleton Twins

Whether or not she wins it, it seems likely that she'll enjoy herself. Perhaps it was her character Donna Stern's abrasive caustic humor that led me to picture someone either darkly funny or like the stereotype of the sad clown but instead the new star is relentlessly cheerful and super positive, and determined to stay that way. She even makes lemonade from lemons when I mention This Means War.

Here's our conversation...

NATHANIEL: This has been such a huge year for you? How would you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10? 

JENNY SLATE: Oh man. I guess i’d give it an 8 but I feel like most years I usually rate them pretty highly because I like life!  But this has been the most satisfying year of my career so far: Obvious Child really changed things for me.  [more...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan082015

27th USC Scripter Nominees Turn the Page

Books, books, nothing but books.
Pages, letters, paragraphs and sentences,
Adjectives and syllables and
Consonants and adverbs-!

I said alright,
But it wasn't quite,
Cause he wasn't nominated
For a Scripter last night.

Glenn here, and while Into the Woods did not receive a nomination today from the USC Scripter organization, I just have the prologue stuck in my brain. Still. It will not leave, how about you?

The Scripters award both a film's screenwriter and the writer of the original work. They used to only be open to adaptations of novels, which meant - much like the WGA - certain films were not allowed to be nominated. In recent years I believe they have started to allow comic book adaptations and short films expanded to feature length (like District 9); they've never nominated a stage musical or play adaptation so I'm not even sure if they're eligible. The rules seem kind of vague. Like most organisations that started before the modern award season made for homogenised lineups, the group have some curious wins in their early years including in its first year a film that didn't even get any Oscar nominations (84 Charing Cross Road).

In 1997 they expanded to include nominees and since then have always been quite a respectable award to win (last year's nominations for What Maisie Knew and The Spectacular Now were particularly welcome). They still do not allow for foreign language films, but... well, baby steps, I guess. Last year's winner was 12 Years a Slave for John Ridley and Solomon Northup, but what do you think will take the prize this year? The hiking woman, the British code-breaker, the gone girl, the physisist's wife, or the stoned investigator?

  • GONE GIRL
    Author: Gillian Flynn; Screenwriter: Gillian Flynn
  • THE IMITATION GAME
    Author: Andrew Hodges; Screenwriter: Graham Moore
  • INHERENT VICE
    Author: Thomas Pynchon; Screenwriter: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
    Author: Jane Hawking; Screenwriter: Anthony McCarten
  • WILD
    Author: Cheryl Strayed; Screenwriter Nick Hornsby

These are the exact same five films that Nathaniel is predicting, although we're not entirely sure what methods this group use to find their nominees. Are they considering Foxcatcher, for instance, which uses a novel as its jumping off point? Presumably they didn't buy into the "Whiplash is adapted" from just the other day, either. And after they nominated Iron Man in the past, one must assume that Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't that far off. I must say, doesn't Wild feel like it could drop out of the Oscar lineup at any moment? Apart from Reese it hasn't caught on with awards, which can mean odd films with pockets of feverish love can surprise like an American Sniper (although with WGA that would hardly be a surprise anymore) or Guardians of the Galaxy or, gosh, maybe even Into the Woods? Maybe somebody knows the stats better than I, but how often do films only get actress and screenplay nominations? Was Frozen River the last one? Hmmm... food for thought?

Thursday
Jan082015

Interview: Chadwick Boseman Gets On Up to a Big Movie Career

With the Get On Up DVD just out this week, let's take a look at the fast rise of Chadwick Boseman. He'd already headlined one surprise hit (42) when he delivered his first huge performance as Godfather of Soul James Brown. Critics casually and regularly mentioned "Oscar" in their reviews but the precursor awards didn't bite (the Golden Globes forcing that film into Drama when films of its kind usually compete in Musical surely didn't help). But individual honors aside, there's no arguing that Boseman is at the beginning of a big career.

When I sat down with him last year (though less long ago than that sounds) he was unusually cagey about future career plans. Chalked it up to caution, I did, at the time. But cut to a very short time after the interview: News broke that he'd spend at least a couple of years in a form fitting black lycra (?) costume as T'Challa, The Black Panther (2017). That surely accounts for some of the shifting in his seat and long pauses when I grilled him about his future plans and what kinds of roles he's looking to play post-Brown over coffee. He must've already known and been sworn to secrecy since these multi-year multi-film deals don't happen overnight.

Here are highlights from our conversation about both his James Brown work, his relationship with those flamboyant costumes and Alex Proyas' forthcoming Gods of Egypt (2016) which arrives before he dons the T'Challa costume. 

NATHANIEL R: Let’s start with something crazy. Could you do the splits before Get On Up? [more...]

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