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Entries in Captain America (38)

Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec312014

Interlinker

BBC News That's "Sir" John Hurt to you and "Dame" Kristin Scott Thomas. Woooo
They Live By Night Bilge Ebiri offers up a thoughtful defense of Interstellar and its portrait of restless Coop and the double edged sword of survival instincts
Reductress Brilliant send-up of Aaron Sorkin's recent sexist comments. These quotes are satiric but he has said that actresses aren't as good as actors so therefore he is MUCH stupider than his screenplays imply.
Pajiba Benedict Cumberbatch finally speaks about his "dance-off" with Michael Fassbender

Stage Buddy TFE's ocassional contributor Jose offers up his best theater of 2014
i09 lowest ticket sales year in quite some time for Hollywood
MNPP wishes you all a Happy New Year with a gallery of DILFs and their little ones from Channing Tatum to Cam Gigandet
Movies.com fun list of top hits from abroad that didn't make it to the States.  A few of this year's foreign film submissions are sprinkled in
Kenneth in the 212 wants an Emmy for Lisa Kudrow for Season 2 of The Comeback
Nerdist talks to Sam Raimi and he's quite candid about his recent artistic failures Spider-Man 3 and Oz: The Great and Powerful. Now if we can only get a movie as good as 
LitWit a book podcast celebrates the 50th anniversary of "The Chronicles of Prydain", a great young reader fantasy that Disney mucked up in the 80s with The Black Cauldron


Oscariffic
Interview Magazine a talk with ever gorgeous still undervalued Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game)
New York Times has a fine piece called "When the Red Carpet Is Rolled Up" about what happens to the previously unknown Oscar nominees after their moment of glory
Awards Daily Sasha named Rosamund Pike "Performance of the Year" but strangely in her top 11 best actress choices she says of #11 Essie Davis in The Babadook "arguably the best performance of the year". Why #11 then?
Critics Top 10 has been compiling list. It's fascinating to see how many lists each film tops no matter what run they occupy in the top 50. For instance The Grand Budapest Hotel has fewer #1 placements than several others but ends up at #2 overall.The highest ranking film with no #1 placements is Starred Up at #49
In Contention Kris Tapley does his annual best shots of the film year celebrating cinematographers: some of the selections include Godzilla, Interstellar, Mr Turner and Nightcrawler

Exit Video
The visual effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier...

 

They'll have a tough road to a nomination given that AMPAS has been stingy with Marvel Studios films in this category unless Iron Man is around. But if they get nominated I'll celebrate even though this reel isn't particularly informative. So much destruction. But I love this movie. 

Tuesday
Dec232014

Scarlett Johansson, 2014's MVP

Year in Review. Two yummy look backs each day

Tim here. Among its many charms and disappointments, 2014 was an extraordinarily good year to be a fan of Scarlett Johansson.

No, I can go bigger than that: 2014 was a year that could make somebody a fan of Scarlett Johansson in the first place, or in my case, knock the dust off a fandom that had been growing stale over the last several years.

What makes it such a particularly interesting year to have watched the actress is the way that three of her four performances released in the United States in ’14 are variations on each other (the outlier is what amounts to cameo in Chef, more of a favor done for director Jon Favreau than a real part). Let’s take a quick look at each of them:

Under the Skin
In a holdover from the 2013 festival season Johansson played a non-human being in the human form of a gorgeous woman under the guiding hand of director Jonathan Glazer. Icy good looks married to a deliberately unknowable inner life pretty neatly describes the opinion that tends to be held on Johansson’s acting skills by people who don’t like her, which makes this, on the one hand, an easy casting decision. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec082014

Open Thread. Wanna Help with my Critics Choice Ballot? 

Nobody was more badass than Emily Blunt as the Full Metal Bitch ... no matter what you're calling the movie nowYesterday I shared the eligibility list (not-official, but Nathaniel-created) for an underdiscussed Critics Choice category "Young Actor/Actress" but that's not the only category that the BFCA has that isn't discussed enough to insure widespread careful consideration for a strong lineup. Here are some other categories you can help me with.

FYC your favorites in the comments for the following COMEDY & ACTION categories! We're only allowed 3 votes in each so there are some no brainers for yours truly: Rose Byrne for Comedy Actress (Neighbors) i imagine she's a longshot for a Globe nomination which pisses me off to no end; Emily Blunt for action actress (Edge of Tomorrow); Captain America: Winter Soldier for Action movie... and it's just no contest. Other movies: You got nothing on Cappy in that elevator. Sorry bout it!

BEST ACTION MOVIE
BEST ACTOR in an ACTION MOVIE - name AND film
BEST ACTRESS in an ACTION MOVIE - name AND film


BEST COMEDY
BEST ACTOR in a COMEDY - name AND film
BEST ACTRESS in a COMEDY - name AND film

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
For some reason this one doesn't get acting categories to go with it. I'm a member but the Critics Choice Awards sometimes feel poorly thought out in terms of categories. Either commit or don't, you know? 

Friday
Dec052014

Oscar's FX Finalists: From Bucky to Bilbo

MURPH !!!!!!!

The Visual effects Oscar finalists have been announced after that branches bake-off ritual wherein they screen visual effects reels from various films. Ten films remains standing but only five can become Oscar nominees so it's superheroes vs. mutated monsters vs aliens vs. hobbits vs giant fucking robits vs. maimed fairies for that coveted honor.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Godzilla
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Maleficent
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Transformers: Age of Extinction
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Other than Maleficent the female led fx hits all missed the cut from Lucy to Mockingjay Part 1 through longshots like Divergent. Critically panned mainstream movies like Into the Storm and Amazing Spider-Man 2 also didn't make it. Perhaps more surprisingly Oscar-hopefuls like Noah, Birdman and Into the Woods were also discarded. (Maybe the visual effects branch also didn't understand what was happening to the Witch in her final scene?) But the missing film we'll shed a tear for is TFE's endorsed visual effects contender Under the Skin. But then this branch never listens to us. Our suspicion is they don't view their own specialty as an art -- because they continually avoid emotionally expressive stylized vfx work - but view it as a technical craft with the two and only goals being first large-scale spectacle and second, computer generated versimilitude. 

May the best effects become Oscar nominees on January 15th and by best we mean the Apes, the good Captain, Interstellar and Godzilla. Certainly three of those are likely to make it but my beloved Winter Soldier is a longshot with those infuratingly ubiquitous hobbits and transformers being renewed for so many seasons over the years. 

What do you think the five nominees will be and who do you think deserves the win? It's a tough call with so many great looking films around. 

Monday
Aug182014

This & That: Ant Man, Early Emmys, List Mania

Elisabeth Bergner, who started in German silents went on to a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Escape Me Never (1935)Schweigen a fine collection of 1920s and 1930s postcards of film actors. I loved looking at it despite my Richard Dix aversion. And this postcard left makes me desperate to see Escape Me Never, one of the 30s Best Actress nominations I still haven't seen
Cinema Blend profiles the 5 pilots from Amazon Studios including Hand of God with Dana Delany and Ron Perlman
E! Online Neil Patrick Harris responds to rumors that he and David Burtka are breaking up. It ain't so.
Pret-a-Reporter
Inside Madonna's 56th birthday bash
THR Cinematography Gordon Willis who died earlier this summer, was memorialized in Hollywood this weekend

List Mania
Rope of Silicon every death in a Quentin Tarantino movie thus far
Cinema Enthusiast has been investigating 1992 cinema. Loves Howards End, The Player, Batman Returns and more
Do You Remember Movies
names the 20 top female film stars of the 70s. I'm not sure what the criteria is but whatever it is, shunning Shelley Duvall ain't right! It ain't ever right.

Creative Arts Emmys 
By now you've probably heard that the kiddie table awards for the Emmys have been handed out. (Theory #1: If you have too many awards to fit them all into one big awards show, you have too many awards. Theory #2: Awards shows should be longer but if you still can't fit them into a 4 hour event, you have too many awards). Todd VanDerWeff, TV expert, reminds us that the Creative Arts Emmys don't really predict the major Emmys with quite the precision by which the craft categories on Oscar night can signal an impending Best Picture win. But it was a very good night for Orange is the New Black, Sherlock and True Detective among others. Here's a complete list of winners and the guest acting prizes went like so:

Guest Actress, Comedy: Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Guest Actor, Comedy: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Guest Actress, Drama: Allison Janney, Masters of Sex (her 5th Emmy but the first for something non-West Wing)
Guest Actor, Drama: Joe Morton, Scandal 

Congratulations to the winners. But I'm definitely shedding tears that the Mad Men curse continues (no acting winners ever in its entire run). Even Robert Morse's transcendent song & dance farewell couldn't break it.

Bliss
You may have already seen this Hello Kitty gallery of superheroes

I've never been more attracted to the Winter Soldier

In which Earth's Mightiest are modified for maximum cuteness and sparkle. But I hadn't seen it and now my life is complete. Well nearly complete. My life will only be complete IF they make Thor 3 this way. At least then it'd be infinitely more watchable than Thor: The Dark World.

Ant-Man
While we're on the topic of superheroes I do want to note that the long troubled Ant Man is finally out of the gate as filming has commenced. I've gone in and out of interest in the project over the years but unlike most of the internet, the last minute hiring of Peyton Reed in the director's chair was the best possible news I could have heard after the unfortunate exit of Edgar Wright. Peyton Reed is so undervalued (see Bring It On and Down With Love and be embarrassed for every ignorant person who has ever called him a hack.)

David Dastmalchian photographed by Caleb Condit

And now one last cherry on top. The rest of the cast has been announced and among the awesome ensemble cast which includes people we know and love like John Slattery, Bobby Cannavale, and Judy Greer, I have to personally congratulate David Dastmalchian for getting another big deal film. I've had an eye on the actor since nominating him for a cameo prize for The Dark Knight and he did super work again just last year in Prisoners in a small but key role.  His upcoming film Animals, which gives him a rare leading role, was this year's SXSW sensation. So happy for this fine actor. You should expect to hear more from him. And very soon. 

Exit Video

 

"Female Superhero Pitches a Movie" - this one has some pretty great lines in it as she keeps meeting roadblocks and narrowminded executives. I wish the pace was faster and the video shorter for more viral pleasure but, still, it's funny.