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100 Best of the 21st Century?

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Monday
Nov242014

I didn't link it, but if i'd linked it, how could you tell me that i was wrong?

The New Yorker Anthony Lane on Mike Nichols
Playbill congratulations to Chicago which became the 2nd longest running Broadway show of all time tonight surpassing Cats
Screen Crush bitches about the long uneventful Part 1s of modern franchise culture as I've been bitching about forever. But as long as audiences keep buying tickets, why should Hollywood stop? They make double the money this way.
YouTube first TV spot for Jurassic World. It's mostly Chris Pratt & Bryce Dallas Howard's faces and you know what they look like. But a brief flash of dinosaurs, too.


Critic Wire the terrifying children's book in The Babadook (opening Friday!) is now a real book you can buy
Vanity Fair since I officially stopped watching How To Get Away With Murder I said goodbye by reading / enjoying / giggling through this post on the "who killed Sam" episode
Empire more new projects for Channing Tatum and his creative partner Reid Carolin (who you'll remember as the sister's date in Magic Mike)
Variety why did Mockingjay Part 1 perform below Hunger Games expectations (which were sky high)
Interview Michael Shannon interviews Amy Ryan (currently onscreen in Birdman)
THR is excited about those Lana Del Rey songs in Big Eyes but I only remember the title song (which is played somewhat inside the movie but not enough of it to have a firm opinion of it) I remember the lines being something like "Big Eyes.... and your Big Lies..."
Film School Rejects looks at connections between the documentary and best picture category this year
LA Times Jennifer Aniston on 'drunk singing' for Cake
In Contention The Fault in Our Stars finally does some campaigning for Shailene Woodley
Samuel L Jackson The Hateful Eight cast have met 
Deadline checks out the numerous very dark horses in the Best Actress race: shout-out to Sally Kirkland and Gena Rowlands from the veterans. An interviews with the former and possibly the latter coming up. Stay tuned...

Pic of the Moment
Jake Gyllenhaal submerged. I wish it were in Oscar buzz! [src] (I was horrified to get blank faces from Oscar voters when I brought up this movie at a recent luncheon. They weren't in the actor's branch but still. How had they not heard of his remarkable performance?)

Chart Updates?
Best Actress & Supporting Actor made minor adjustments following Into the Woods & Big Eyes screenings. Unbroken screenings just after Thanksgiving as we enter the final month of the film year. So exciting.

Whither Nicole Kidman?
I missed Before I Go To Sleep in theaters (it left town instantly) and despite wrapping her roles on five more films we don't have firm release dates on any of them! If you're keeping track they are: Queen of the Desert, Strangerland and Grace of Monaco (lead roles) and Paddington and Genius (supporting roles). Here's a teaser for Strangerland.

It's an Australian drama with Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes in which a couple's daughter goes missing. They freak out, naturally. Looks intense. Might it actually be good? I have high hopes for Queen of the Desert, too, given that Werner Herzog is behind the camera but she probably needs one of these films to be at least a minor hit.

 

Monday
Nov242014

Disney Pixar News Roundup

Good morning everyone, Manuel here bringing some news on the animation front.Hot off the heels of the announcement that Disney Animation and Pixar Studios were getting their own presidents (Andrew Millstein and Jim Morris, respectively), it seemed appropriate to check in on both studios:

2014 marked the first year since 2005 when we didn’t get a new Pixar release. And while there’s been talk of the seemingly unstoppable studio faltering (with talks of yet another project changing directorial hands) they’re revving up the marketing push for 2015’s Inside Out, the latest from Up’s Pete Docter. The film, which follows five emotions in the mind of a young girl definitely has a plot description worthy of classic Pixar films. The voice cast alone should get you excited as we'll get Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Bill Hader as Fear, Phyllis Smith as Sadness and more importantly: Amy Poehler as Joy! In addition to these character posters, Pixar released five videos introducing us to the emotions at the heart (or mind?) of the film, where you can see these guys in action.

While Pixar’s output has been (arguably) showing diminishing returns, the same cannot be said for Disney Animation studios which is on a roll it hopes will continue for the next few years. They’ve recently released new artwork for their 2016 films: in March we'll get Zootopia from Tangled’s Byron Howard, is a buddy-comedy about a fast-talking fox on the lamb teaming up with a self-righteous rabbit cop while in November we'll get Moana, from Ron Clements and Jon Musker (the folks responsible for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules) which centers on the eponymous protagonist as she searches for a fabled South-Pacific island.

Are you angry, disgusted, fearful, joyful or saddened by these news? Are you looking forward to getting a new Ron ‘n Jon flick in the near-future, and can we hope it will live up to their legacy?

Sunday
Nov232014

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Michael C here with what I suppose is part one of my review of Mockingjay.

“I wish she were dead,” says Finnick Odair at the start of the third entry in the Hunger Games series. “I wish they were all dead and we were too,” he adds to include himself, Katniss, and all the tributes that remain in the clutches of the Capitol after the events of Catching Fire

If that seem like a dispiriting way to start an action blockbuster rest assured it perfectly establishes the tone of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, a grim, disjointed film that is short on thrills and long on misery. Francis Lawrence’s sequel progresses from torture to bombs dropped on hospitals to the wreckage of towns strewn with skulls, all of it scrubbed down to a bloodless PG-13. Our big reward for wading through this suffering is to see our beloved Katniss strangled within an inch of her life. 

I expect fans of the series will like it a lot...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov232014

Top Box Office Hits of 2014 - Outside the Franchises!

Amir here, reporting to box office duty. For those of us not living under a rock for the past four years, the success of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 this weekend comes as no surprise. Let’s skip right over it then, although it’s probably worth noting that its haul was significantly less than its predecessors. In order to restore some sanity in the midst of this sequel-dominated explotionapalooza, we’ll take a break from regular box office reporting to look at the year’s top ten non-franchise, non-CGI-driven, non-animated box office champs of the year thus far:

#1 Drama of 2014: GONE GIRL

That Top Ten
01 GONE GIRL $156.8 and rising Jason's reviewpodcast
02 NEIGHBORS $150.1 Review & podcast 
03 RIDE ALONG $134.9
04 THE FAULT IN OUR STARS $124.8 Review
05 THE EQUALIZER $99
06 NON-STOP $92.1 Amir's Review
07 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $91.4
08 TAMMY $84.5 Review
09 THE OTHER WOMAN $83.9
10 FURY about to climb over Let's Be Cops for this spot Review

#1 Comedy of 2014: NEIGHBORS

Debatable. Non-Franchise but Still Heavily CG. If You'd like to mentally include any of them
- LUCY $126.6 Podcast
- INTERSTELLAR $120.6 and rising Michael's Review 
- NOAH* $101.2 PodcastInterview
- EDGE OF TOMORROW $100.2

11-20: LET'S BE COPS, MONUMENTS MEN, GOD'S NOT DEAD, SON OF GOD, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY, NO GOOD DEED, IF I STAY, ABOUT LAST NIGHT, and (gulp) JERSEY BOYS

On average, this top ten list is on the same level of quality as the actual top ten but what is depressing is that increasingly it is becoming impossible for original films to perform as well as commodities that the public already recognizes. Currently the highest ranking wholly original film among this year’s biggest grossers is Neighbors at 15th. While sequels and adaptations can be traced all the back to the silent era, the box office snoozefest wasn't always thus. Even at the turn of the century, the top ten list featured, quite unbelievably, the following films: Cast Away, Gladiator, What Women Want, Meet the Parents and What Lies Beneath, followed by the likes of Erin Brokovich, Traffic and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Since then, the studio system has gone through a complete metamorphosis, on several levels that are both too long and too frustrating to write about in this weekly column, but I think we all lost something as our stars gradually turned from people into effects and the average age of those the films are marketed to decreased without control.

Anyway, speaking of Hidden Dragon, here are the year's best selling foreign hits so far:

#1 Subtitled Film of 2014: CANTINFLAS

Top Subtitled Pictures of 2014 Thus Far
01 CATINFLAS $6.3 (Mexico via Lionsgate) - Oscar Submission
02 THE LUNCHBOX $4.2 (India via Sony Pictures Classics) 
03 IDA $3.7 (Poland via Music Box Films) - Oscar Submission, Loved it
04 THE RAID 2  $2.6 (Indonesia/USA via  Sony Pictures Classics)
05 THE ADMIRAL: ROARING CURRENTS $2.5 (South Korea via CJ Entertainment) 
06 BANG BANG $2.5 (India via FIP)
07 KICK $2.4 (India via UTV) 
08 2 STATES $2.2 (India via UTV) 
09 GLORIA $2.1 (Chile via Roadside Attractions) - Oscar Submission last year, Loved it
10 JAI HO $1.2 (via Eros) 

As always, Indian films dominate the list, though with the exception of The Lunchbox, most of them failed to gain traction outside the target demographic of the Indian community. France has had an unusally bad year, but it's heartwarming to see a film as chilly and uninviting as Ida has done such impressive business. Meanwhile, the best foreign release of the year, Force Majeure, is inching its way toward the million dollar mark. So far it has grossed $429k.

What have you watched this weekend? And how many of these selective top ten hits have you seen?

Sunday
Nov232014

Golden Horse Gets a "Blind Massage"

It's your annual report of the Oscars of the Chinese world, the 51st annual Golden Horse Awards. Unfortunately this year had little crossover in terms of what made it into US theaters. There's generally at least a few winners/nominees that opened in the US. This year only one as far as I can tell - the Oscar submission The Golden Era though the Gong Li vehicle Coming Home will be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics supposedly at some point. 

It was a big night for Lou Ye's Blind Massage, a rough night for acclaimed festival hit Black Coal Thin Ice and just your regular Saturday night for Ann Hui who took home her third (third!) Best Director prize for the Oscar submission The Golden Era. It wasn't a good year for the internationally recognizable acting contenders:  Tang Wei (The Golden Era) and Gong Li (Coming Home) lost to the woman with the lowest profile and Chang Chen (Brotherhood of Blades) lost Best Actor. As far am I'm aware

Full list of winners is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov222014

Big Eyes, Big Questions, Big Night... Big Open Thread

He sells paintings. Then he sells pictures of the paintings. Then he sells postcards of the pictures of the paintings.

I've been thinking a lot about art vs. commerce tonight, having just seen Big Eyes in which it is kind of the theme. Only not. Because there is a lot of other things going on inside this movie. Including multiple tones. It veers so far into comedy towards the end that I think they'd be smart to campaign musical/comedy for the Globes. (I kind of wanted it to be a musical. And I think Colleen Atwood and Rick Heinrichs did too but we know Tim Burton doesn't like those.) Christoph Waltz will again be the egregious category frauder of the year since it's most certainly a two-lead movie (he's missing from the first 5-10 minutes but then it's the both of them or either/or throughout. Oscar may or may not bite but it would only bite this one as fresh December bait so smart release date they chose. So for the next month I will live in fear of people loving Waltz's shtick!

We aren't allowed to review it yet so I will shut up now

Tonight: INTO THE WOODS! Which we also aren't allowed to review and which will also surely bring thoughts of art vs. commerce as we see how they adapted Sondheim's popular but still fairly dark musical in the hopes of becoming an all quadrant Disney blockbuster.  

UPDATE: Still sorting out my feelings on INTO THE WOODS but have plenty of time. Loved the first act but the genius of the second act in the show is... not... clear (lost?) with the many changes made. Anna Kendrick was the MVP but the whole cast can really sing and they were all good (barring Johnny Depp on both counts) which is the #1 thing I need in musicals. Alas I have very complicated feelings about the movie musical (my most beloved genre) because I always have too many feelings going in. This is why I need original musicals to return. Less pre-movie feelings obsessiveness to brush away to get to true reaction. 

ANYWAY. WHAT'S ON YOUR CINEMATIC MIND? How ready are you for the holiday movies and these two films?

Saturday
Nov222014

Tweets o' the Week

Clash of the twitter threads. I recently started muting words on twitter on subjects I just had no interest in hearing about anymore and in some cases never did despite the rest of the world's inexplicably insatiable interest (my timeline is blessedly "Kardashian" free - you should try it! I'm missing nothing) and I've been so much happier.

Twitter is still a colossal time sucker in some ways but it keeps the pop culture conversation lively and my favorite thing about it is hearing smart people say amusing things that I didn't think to say - that I felt but never put into words (like the first tweet below). Anyway, here are a dozen or so tweets that amused or edified. Just because it's fun to share them.

 

 

More after the jump including Viola Davis, Janis Joplin biopic, Matthias Schoenaerts, Selma, and the greatest title card of all time...

Click to read more ...