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Alicia Vikander cast as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Only supporting actress winners are allowed to play this role!

"What on earth can Alicia bring to this role, and why bother? Good luck." - Tom F

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Entries in Best Ensemble (40)

Wednesday
Feb172016

Interview: Josh Singer on pushing deep with Spotlight's Screenplay and his time on The West Wing

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer at the Gothams. It would not be the last award for their SPOTLIGHT screenplayAs we head toward Oscar night in an unusually complicated Oscar race, Spotlight is one of the films that's still in the thick of it. And with good reason. This finely tuned gripping account of the Boston Globe's long investigation into sex-abuse coverups was, by any measure, one of the most acclaimed films of the year.

The director Tom McCarthy is a flexible talent -- he acts, writes, and directs -- so it was something of a surprise that he shared writing duties on Spotlight with Josh Singer (The West Wing, The Fifth Estate). But that's somehow perfect since the film places such beautiful emphasis on community and teamwork. And when I began to speak with Singer about his involvement this communal spirit was also obvious. He immediately began deferring praise to the actors, and Tom's gift with them, and was so pleased that they'd been honored already this awards season. 

Here's our interview, edited for length and clarity...

NATHANIEL R: Spotlight is unusual in that the lead character is really the investigation itself

JOSH SINGER: It’s really an ensemble piece. Tom wanted this to be about the Spotlight team. It made me nervous early on, not having one or two protagonists. We have six!

NATHANIEL: Tom McCarthy doesn’t usually collaborate on his screenplays. So tell me what happened there.

 more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan312016

Personal Ballot: Casting, Ensemble, Breakthrough

Ready to start pouring over Nathaniel's annual Film Bitch Awards? The time is now. As longtime readers probably have gleaned, in my secret alternate fantasy life I became a casting director. It's one of the three jobs in movies I always thought I'd be terrific at (the others being editing and screenwriting). This is not bragging. It's fan-fic journaling. All cinephiles are allowed, indeed encouraged (at least here), to harbor such 'in another life' fantasies! The natural pull of casting is probably what keys up the interesting in SAG's Ensemble category so much even though they don't ever seem to absorb the meaning of the word but just pick five pictures they liked. 

Now that SAG has had their say, here are the Film Bitch Nominees in the casting friendly categories:  Casting, Ensemble, and Breakthrough Performers. You'll see major shout outs to Sicario and Brooklyn in particular, both the casts and their casting directors (Francine Maisler and Fiona Weir, respectively). It's still mortifying that they were looked over in terms of communal acting whenever ensemble prizes were handed out anywhere. Diary of a Teenage Girl, which we probably haven't talked about enough, is also honored twice over. 

And a note to remember as you read them: If a performer is nominated in one of our regular Oscar-adjacent acting categories they are not eligible for Breakthrough (so no double dipping) which is why you don't see Jacob Tremblay from Room for example since he was already nominated in Leading Actor

Friday
Jan292016

SAG Predictions - Let's Make 'em

The Screen Actors Guild Nominations will be held tomorrow at 5 PM PST and broadcast live on TNT and TBS and we'll probably live blog as we do. Who will the 100,000+ actors vote for? Voting ended earlier today at Noon so there's a quick turnaround between voting and the actual prize. So let's jump right in because yours truly is feeling daring. And don't make fun of me should I biff on ALL of these because I've never claimed to be any good at predicting anything other than Oscar.

ENSEMBLE - This is always the best category in theory and the least satisfying in practice (for many reasons). But who will win? With Spotlight and The Big Short battling it out for the Oscar's Best Picture prize they're obviously the safe money bets and I kind of want to go out on a limb with a no guts no glory call and suggest that Straight Outta Compton rides the constant tidal wave of the #OscarsSoWhite discussion for a surprise win and yet more editorials. So that's my alternate pick. I'm going to go with SPOTLIGHT in a tight finish with both Compton and The Big Short. But here's why I'm leaning this way: It's easy to picture it winning this even it loses the Oscar. I can't same the same thing in reverse for The Big Short. If the Big Short wins this it's all over and The Big Short is the locked Best Picture winner. 

BEST ACTRESS -BRIE LARSON
BEST ACTOR - LEONARDO DICAPRIO
No sense debating these two as they're wholly locked up for Oscar wins at this point, no matter who they're battling it out with on the ballot. 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS - As a reminder Oscar nominees Mara, Vikander, McAdams, and Winslet are competing with the non-Oscar nominated Helen Mirren (Trumbo) for this prize. This is a tough cal since literally none of the films are real "hits" and you could make an argument for anyone really. While the Oscar's voting body, which is heavily older and male, seems likely to pick Vikander, the new "it girl" for the gold on February 28th, SAG might feel differently. Might Winslet repeat her Globe win? My guess: KATE WINSLET (in a close race all around with Vikander or even McAdams right behind.)

SUPPORTING ACTOR - With current Oscar frontrunner Sylvester Stallone out of the contest this should be interesting. Stallone's dominance has made Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) look like an also ran so maybe the heat for the former thought-to-be frontrunner will have dissipated? Wouldn't it be crazy to see both Room actors pick up trophies and have little Jacob Tremblay win? My guess is a surprise win for IDRIS ELBA -- since they loved Beasts of No Nation (consider that absolutely bizarre "Ensemble" nomination for a film with only 3 really substantial roles) with Rylance as alternate. 

What are your predictions? Will you be watching? 

Thursday
Jan072016

What's Next for the Spotlight Cast?

Manuel here talking about the Spotlight cast. If the SAG voting crowd can see beyond their cooky nominations, they might yet crown a handsome roster of winners. That’s what we hope happens, at least in the Best Ensemble category which, besides being quite testosterone heavy, doesn’t really feel reflective of the “best” of ensemble work that we saw this past year. Should the Tom McCarthy cast prevail though, we’ll at least know the Actors went to the right film and its talented cast.

But what are the actors behind the Boston Globe reporters up to next? Let's find out after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec312015

Don't Forget About Michael Keaton

Greetings from Chris, wishing you all a Happy New Year! And a Happy Voting to Academy members finally filling out their nomination ballots. With plenty of FYC blurbs out on the internet proclaiming personal favorites outside of the race, I want to talk about someone much more obvious that's somehow missing out on the love: Michael Keaton in Spotlight.

Of course, he's winning attention as part of Spotlight's ensemble, but it's a headscratcher that he missed nominations from SAG, the Globes, and BFCA. Even various regional critics groups are favoring Mark Ruffalo to single out. The potential reasons for Keaton's omission (too much competition from his own film, category confusion, the notion he doesn't have a "scene") feel petty given the gravitas and soulfulness he brings to the narrative.

Some say Spotlight lacks threat or conflict, that the big, bad church we keep hearing will put their weight on the Boston Globe for their investigations never actually does. But what Spotlight is really about is getting the story right and facing up to our own culture of ignorance and the times we've looked the other way. All of that is perfectly embodied by the resurgent Keaton. It's not just that he's the member of the ensemble that has the clearest arc, but the grace to which he fills Walter "Robby" Robinson with regret and anger. Ruffalo's "scene" allows that actor a catharsis that Keaton's coiled disposition doesn't receive until the final moment when his team's efforts are shown to have an effect on the lives of victims.

The performance is a study gentlemanly rage. He underplays every scene where he is calling for justice, filling silences with loaded pauses and a judging stare that fuels the film's angry undercurrent. If you think he doesn't have a showy moment, rewatch any time wherein he studies the layers of spin and bullshit delivered by Billy Crudup's sleaveball lawyer and tell me that Spotlight's central conflict isn't right there on Keaton's expressive face. Where Birdman allowed him to run wild with mannered anxiety and deep well of emotion, Spotlight serves us the actor at his confident and naturalistic best.

Following the Birdman miss, it's particularly odd that Keaton is on the outside of the nomination conversation. Best Supporting Actor often favors combacks from older actors and previous losers, so you think he'd be a plum candidate to ride the past year's momentum in a Best Picture frontrunner at that. He'll soon return to leading roles in John Lee Hancock's McDonalds biopic The Founder, but don't let the opportunity to reward some of his best work pass you by!

Monday
Dec212015

Best of '15: Co-Star Chemistry, the Great Intangible 

These are the 15 relationships that really crackled for us on screen this year with an electric snap... or familial/platonic warmth... or sexual combustibility... or tense reserve ... or  lived-in authenticity ...or any combo thereof depending on what the relationship called for. Kudos to the actors, directors, screenwriters, and casting directors who all obviously contributed to capture lightning in a bottle. The following examples of screen chemistry told us so much about the characters within the story and sometimes outside of it from long before the events of the movie or projecting out after the narrative. Do I find it troubling that the SAG and BFCA nominations for Best Ensemble avoided ALL of these films save Spotlight? Why, yes --- yes I do! Thanks for asking. 

Note: I opted not to include Carol in the list primarily because the obsession is too strong and every single relationship in the movie is fascinating (yes even Therese & Richard's! Even Harge & Abby who only get one scene together) and it wouldn't be fair to the other pictures with its web of relationships, new, old, soured, fresh, complicated and all superbly rendered. Joy, which is better than the initial response suggests, also has fine pockets of chemistry within a bustling cast (something David O. Russell excels at) but I couldn't settle on any one relationship.

The list is presented without commentary... but for what you have to say in the comments. 

15 Sylvester Stallone & Michael B Jordan in Creed (trainer/trainee and surrogate something)

14 more couplings after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec092015

"Brooklyn" Beyond Saoirse

Chris here. We're pleased as punch with all of the precursor love that's greeted Saoirse Ronan's timeless star turn in Brooklyn. Today though, in light of SAG's virtually female-free Outstanding Ensemble list, let's give some love to this film's unnominated but vibrant ensemble.

Yes, Saoirse Ronan is getting the majority of the prizes and praises for the film - heck, she could share an ensemble prize for the film with just herself and her multitude of emotions  in the film and you'd have no complaints from me. However, Eilis's journey in the film is more fully realized with the lived-in actors that surround Ronan's protagonist.

THE FAMILIAR FACES

  • Emory Cohen as Tony Fiorello - I'll join those who were happily surprised with his performance, after ghastly work in The Place Beyond the Pines and elsewhere. Not just a pining lothario, he's also believably accepting of Eilis's need to be her own woman. Dreamboat of the Year.
  • Domnhall Gleeson as Jim Farrell - A much more bland love interest to Eilis, but intentionally so. He really sells Jim's uncomplicated ambitions
  • Julie Walters as Mrs. Kehoe - Archly hilarious as the matron of Eilis's boarding house for girls. She'd be a Supporting Actress contender if it weren't for competition with more screen time and *ahem* narrative focus
  • Jim Broadbent as Father Flood - As charming as ever in a tiny role

And here's where it get's really good after the jump...

Click to read more ...