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Entries in Unbroken (5)

Thursday
Aug142014

Oscar Rumblings, Song Cuttings, Record Breakings

don't cry Meryl, you've got plenty of songs to sing already!No sooner do we get the Oscar charts updated than everything changes. We are Sisyphus! 

I was thrilled to have a new Stephen Sondheim song to look forward to after all the build-up, but we shan't be hearing it. At least not within the context of Into the Woods since they've cut it from the movie. Sorry Meryl... but you've got other great songs to sing. That means less one Oscar nomination for the movie which could earn anywhere from 0 to, you know, 14. I should pretend to have a clue how this will be received but my own deep love of Sondheim musicals has really messed with my radar about this movie. I remain both totally elated that it will be onscreen and terrified at all the things that are sure to be wrong with it. What should we replace it with in "Best Original Song"? HELP

But while we're on the topic of Rob Marshall movies, remember Chicago (2002)? Chicago should be a perfect example to show film and stage people that film versions of stage shows do not hurt the box office so there's no reason to wait (*cough* Wicked). They help it enormously. Chicago the stage show was tapering off before the movie and moved to a smaller theater. It's been steady ever since and come November it  will surpass Cats as Broadway's longest running musical that isn't named Phantom of the Opera. It's been on the boards since 1996 and...

I lost the thread. OSCARS.

As you may have heard American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's latest - you know how he do with not one film a year but two - will open at Christmas so Oscar talks begins in 3...2... oh never mind it already began. Like clockwork. But do you think Clint still has that golden touch or do you doubt that he'll recover with this one. This film is an adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History." That title sounds so boastful! But The Academy likes Eastwood when he's doing masculine genres... so, it's something to consider at least. 

And still more Oscar rumblings: Fury is moving up to October (smart move) and buzz is strong on Logan Lerman. You may recall I interviewed him for Perks of Being a Wallflower and they were very smart to pursue longshot awards attention for him there. Awards are so often about momentum and being perceived as worthy before a film even hints. Build a good reputation and make good films and you gather steam. And Awards Circuit talked to someone who saw a test screening of Unbroken so give that a look if you're eager for a random opinion. I never know how seriously to take test screenings since one person's "wonderful" is another person's "meh", you know?

Finally, we got the first still from P.T. Anderson's Inherent Vice, however tiny it is... via The Film Stage via EW in print

Friday
Jul182014

Oscar Updates: Acting Pairs and Young Bucks

The chart updates continue. I've been thinking a lot about Foxcatcher and Love is Strange and whether or not Sony Pictures Classics will have the guts to campaign all four of those male leads as leads. Essentially they'd be asking for 80% of the category which would be extremely ballsy (no pun intended with four sets of them) but also honest. For these July updates I'm fantasizing that they will.

Eddie Redmayne, David Oyelowo, and Channing Tatum are just three of the fresh crop of leading men who might be competing for Oscar gold for real life roles

But the funny thing is: Best Actor is enormously crowded without any of that acclaimed quartet. Playing a real life character won't even get you very far because most lead actors are doing just that, thereby dulling its time-tested competitive advantage. I count at least 10 possibly major contenders this year in biographical roles: Cumberbatch, Redmayne, Oyelowo, Carell, Tatum, Spall, Boseman, O'Connell, Hill and Maguire. And that's not including Christoph Waltz who I'm now guessing will try his luck doing the co-lead as supporting thing again for Big Eyes which has worked well for him twice before; he's like the Poster Boy for Category Fraud.

The most exciting thing about the Best Actor Chart? Most of them have never been nominated so we're likely to have a real fresh quintet. With all these true stories in 2014 Supporting Actor may well be filled to bursting with real life, too, albeit without as many newbies in the mix. Good luck to the originals I say who have to create three-dimensional characters from whole cloth and the never nominated who are eager to be let in throughthe golden door.

Breaking Jack O'Connell?
On Emmy nomination morning this new trailer emerged for Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, a World War II drama which is likely to be a major breakthrough event for its lead actor Jack O'Connell, especially given that he's already shown true star charisma according to everyone who has seen his raw prison drama Starred Up (also due this year). But there are three potential obstacles to a presumed Best Actor run.

1. The man he's playing, Louis Zamperini, just died and those can be tricky waters to navigate in terms of film releases and campaigning without seeming exploitative about it (see Mandela's tip toe last year)

2. AMPAS is not as predictable these days with what we might well call 'classic Oscar bait'. They've been getting friskier with their choices for some time now (think of that 2006 win and then the entire 2007 lineup and so on through the now: Amour? Beasts of the Southern Wild? etcetera) . Old school 'triumph of the human spirit' epics and glossy WWII pics are no longer sure things. 

3. Jack O'Connell turns 24 next month. That's extremely young for Best Actor. For some context should O'Connell be nominated for this role with lots of hooks (crying, real life character, accent, weight loss, heroism) he will be the 2nd youngest nominee of the modern era, just a shade older than John Travolta was for his zeitgest 1977 blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. (Mickey Rooney and Jackie Cooper were even younger for their noms but that was back in the 30s and early 40s). Only one actor in his 20s has ever won the top prize and that was Adrien Brody for The Pianist, three weeks shy of his 30th birthday.

updated Oscar charts
BEST ACTOR, BEST ACTRESSSUPPORTING ACTOR, SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sunday
Jun012014

First Oscar Predictions of the Year, Complete!

The April Foolish predictions for 2014 are complete! In record time* for June 1st.

INDEXPICTURE | DIRECTOR
ACTRESS | ACTOR  
SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR 
FOREIGN FILMS | ANIMATED FILMS
SCREENPLAYS | VISUALS | SCORE & SOUND 

BULLISH: I've predicted that Foxcatcher and Interstellar will lead the nominations with 8 nods each with Gone Girl, Mr Turner and Birdman not far behind. I also have high Oscar hunch hopes for Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.

BEARISH: Though I will readily concede that Unbroken might be a juggernaut, I'm not yet feeling it's as as sure of a thing as many pundits are likely to given the extraordinary amount of Oscar boxes it checks off on paper.  My bearishness is largely because you can argue that Oscar has become less enamored of "traditional / inspirational" material in the past several years - even skipping inspirational Holocaust movies like The Book Thief -- and are quicker to embrace thornier auteurism than they have since the 70s. It's also because Angelina Jolie is a largely untested director whose first feature had a good measure of pre-release media attention only to be totally ignored once it arrived (and I don't mean in terms of Oscar nominations, though that was the case as well). That said if everyone agrees that Unbroken is quite good (nobody has to think it's great) it'll do very well for itself in the nominations. [more...]

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Tuesday
Feb182014

"Unbroken" Is it Middlebrow WW II Oscar Bait or Something More? 

Did you catch this preview of Angelina Jolie's Unbroken (2014) during the Olympics. The internet keeps calling it a "trailer" which it really isn't. I wish the internet would understand that words have meanings and the reason we often have multiple words for one type of thing is to illustrate the variations of meanings. Teaser, trailer, preview... these are different things. This paragraph you're reading is a "blog post" not "a blog" and so on) But I digress...

This early look at next year's Christmas movie Unbroken, which has slivers of the future trailer interspersed throughout, is like those very short historical reels meant to inspire you and tune you into some past Olympian story which illustrates the triumph of the human spirit / physical endurance right before you watch new Olympians reenact those ancient motifs again by trying to converts years of discipline, training, injuries, and personal struggles into medals for themselves and their countries.

I'm not really ready to talk 2014 Oscar race yet (geez, let's get through the 2013 festivities first!) but maybe Unbroken will be a biggie? I dunno, though. The Oscars are less susceptible to baldly straightforward 'Inspirational Triumph of the Human Spirit' narratives than they once were, right? Still, a screenplay by the Coen brothers suggests that it's maybe not as middlebrow World War II Oscar bait as it appears to be in this very traditional formula-friendly setting of Olympics coverage. Jolie isn't joking around on the below the line team either with Oscar regulars like Desplat (score), Sqyres (editing) and Deakins (cinematography) on board.

Regardless of whether it's an awards contender, though, it seems likely that this time next year it's relatively unknown stars Jack O'Connell (Skins, Eden Lake) in the lead role and Finn Witrock (the hustler on Masters of Sex) in support will be having some very happy holidays. (Domnhall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, and Jai Courtney are also in it but people already know who they are.)

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2014 Oscar predictions coming in April. Here's the current race.

Thursday
Oct312013

Unbroken Jolie

Did you ever see Angelina Jolie's directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey? I myself missed it, given it's blink and you'll miss it release (there are a handful of movies each year that feel like they didn't come out that, in fact, did.... Oscar qualifying shadiness is usually to blame). It received middling reviews but will she have more success with her follow up Unbroken? I hope so. I'm always wishing her well since she's one of the Earth's greatest celebrities.

The first photos from the set have emerged and in this one, it looks like she's remaking Kon-Tiki the water is so very blue and the man in the raft is so very blonde.

But actually the film is about  US airman and former Olympian Louis Zamperini (played by young Brit star Jack O'Connell with whom I am unfamiliar. Anyone?) and his World War II adventures in the Pacific where he crash-landed before eventually doing time as a prisoner of war. The film which could well serve as a breakthrough for its trio of young actors also features Domnhall Gleeson (you know him) and gorgeous soap star Finn Wittrock who will also be in Darren Aronofsky's Noah next year so he's going to be so soggy and pruney in 2014. Acting while wet!  The legendary Roger Deakins is behind the camera.

Empire promises...

it will also have sharks. Lots and lots of sharks. 

Hmmm.

I'd rather watch Angelina punch them than direct them. 

Click to read more ...