BEST PICTURE

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04-blackfish

Take a look at the choices at the multiplex this weekend and I’m sorry to say that it’s like trying to pick the one tolerable outhouse toilet amid the ones you can’t step foot inside. But you can really do your part to help turn this sorry state of affairs around by ponying up the dough to see the good movies.

The more money the “little” movies make, the better it is for everyone. Think of it like recycling, or using a metal water bottle. You are helping all of mankind by choosing to contribute to artists who are taking the time to make movies that are more than just entertaining.

To that end, let’s take a look at the movies worth seeing:

1. Blackfish – Don’t let this great movie die on the vine. Get out there and force yourselves to watch it. Not only will it change your life, but it will ensure SeaWorld keeps running scared. They look at the box office numbers, which will help argue their case. The more people who see it, the better chance that something good can eventually happen to those magnificent whales in captivity.  I’ll admit, it was hard to watch. I probably would have avoided it had my teenage daughter not compelled me to see it. But it’s the least I could do, being part of the human race that has perpetrated so many crimes in the name of “entertainment.”

2. Blue Jasmine – Woody doesn’t get better than this anymore. Go for Cate Blanchett’s performance, stay for Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K. This is entertaining AND depressing. How often does that happen? It’s doing well at the box office so it doesn’t need much cheerleading, but hey, why not contribute to something this good?

3. Fruitvale Station – Don’t see it because of the Trayvon Martin case. See it to be among the first who saw Ryan Coogler’s debut. You know this dude is up and coming and that eventually he’ll get the big deals and he’ll probably stop making these kinds of films that cost nothing and run completely on heart and soul. You want to be there to see what real storytellers are doing without having visual effects to hide behind. Trust me, unless you’re watching Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad or House of Cards on repeat, you have nothing better to do on Friday night than seeing Fruitvale Station.
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JMCposter


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ben-stiller-director-the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-empire-exclusive

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has just announced that Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will have its World Premiere on October 5 as the Centerpiece Gala at the New York Film Fest. Press release as follows:

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Ben Stiller’s highly anticipated adaptation of James Thurber’s classic short story THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY which also stars Stiller alongside Kristen Wiig, will make its World Premiere on Saturday, October 5 as the Centerpiece Gala presentation for the upcoming 51st New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13).

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994873_10151647727306406_181404145_nFor the first time ever, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has elected an African American woman as their President. Before they did so, Cheryl Boone Isaacs already stood out as a member of the Board of Governors.

Part of the reason the Academy has been so utterly and completely white for the past 86 years is that their demographic matches their tastes. There have been years where diversity broke through — 1985, for instance, when Steven Spielberg used his box office clout to bring The Color Purple to the big screen. He was shamed for it and the film went 11/0 at the Oscars. There wouldn’t be another Best Picture contender with an all-black cast until Precious, nearly twenty years later.

The other significant moment in recent Academy history was Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing being overlooked the same year Driving Miss Daisy made Academy history and now joins Argo as one of the few films to win without a director’s nomination. But the Academy has had its moments of redemption. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington winning the same year seemed, at the time, like maybe things had really and finally changed for black actors at the Oscars. But to date, Berry is still the only black actress who has ever won in lead. In 86 years.  Viola Davis came close two years ago by winning the SAG, among others, but lost to Meryl Streep, who collected her long overdue third Oscar.  To date, there have been ten black actresses nominated for lead, compared to 19 for black actors.  The supporting categories, especially for women, feature the most wins (5/15).

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Hat Tip, ONTD, First Showing

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Written by Ben Conrad, directed by Ben Stiller

(via Deadline)

TIFF programmer Colin Geddes: “Since its 1988 launch, the Midnight Madness programme emerged as a touchstone of cinematic shock, satiating the adventurous palate of bloodthirsty cinephiles from all over the world. When the witching hour strikes and the human brain starts slipping into dream mode, the Ryerson Theatre will once again serve up a feast of phantasmagorical characters and jaw-dropping scenes, playing host to bizarre biological monstrosities, ruthless dominatrix gangs, paranormal mirrors, and the hijinks of supernatural cheerleaders.”

Afflicted Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, Canada/USA, World Premiere
Best friends Derek and Clif set out on a trip of a lifetime. Their plan: travel to the ends of the earth, see the world, and live life to the fullest. But the trip soon takes a dark and bloody turn. Just days in, one of the men shows signs of a mysterious affliction which gradually takes over his entire body and being. Now, thousands of miles from home, in a foreign land, they must race to uncover the source of his illness before it consumes him completely. Footage of their travels meant to document pleasant memories may now become evidence of one of the most shocking discoveries ever captured on film…and may be their only postcard home.

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Captain Phillips trailer launch - video

Captain Phillips trailer launch - video

Different film festivals change the direction of the Oscar race – Sundance, Cannes, Venice and now, the New York Film Festival has, in recent years, pushed a strong contender into the race.  This year, the New York Times reports that Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, will open the fest, giving attendees the first big chance to see the film.  The funny thing about it is that when people come out of it, the response is generally mixed. Life of Pi last year didn’t seem to connect with that audience, and if anyone took the general reception as any indicator of Oscar promise they were way behind. The same went for Hugo the year before.

That means, if the film has a mixed reception it can’t mean much. Captain Phillips is the story of a living American hero, one among many true stories featured in films this year.

The film festival runs from September 27, through October 13.

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It really is genius casting…she’s technically younger but seems much older. Girlfriend’s going to have to get down and dirty for this one. The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Rosamund Pike is going to get the lead opposite Ben Affleck for David Fincher’s Gone Girl.

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This looks partly like the footage out of Comic-Con but it’s not the full six minutes. Either way, enjoy. Hat tip, Alex at First Showing.

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12years5

Of the lineup so far, it is easy to cherry pick the Oscar favorites. Herewith, AwardsDaily’s top ten of what seems most likely to go to the Big Show sight unseen (for most of them).

1. 12 Years a Slave – Picture, directing, acting, writing
2. The Fifth Estate – Picture, directing, acting, writing
3. Gravity – Picture, directing, acting, writing
4. Labor Day – Picture, directing, acting, writing
5. Rush – Picture, directing, writing
6. August: Osage County – acting, writing
7. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – acting, writing
8. Devil’s Knot – acting, writing (maybe picture, directing)
9. Dallas Buyers Club – acting, writing
10. The Invisible Woman – acting

And the jury is still out on Blue is the Warmest Colour, whether it could land acting nods for one of the two leads or not.  There may be others lurking in the pile but these are the ones that stand out in this, the earliest stage.

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benedict-cumberbatch-the-fifth-estate

The lineup for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival has just been announced — whether there will be any crossover for Telluride or not is still a mystery. However, last year Argo did well at both fests, but Silver Linings Playbook really got its start at Toronto. It was really the only standout. But there seem to be, at this early stage anyway, many good films to watch so that it won’t be just about the one movie but perhaps, about several.

As follows–

The lineup:

OPENING NIGHT

The Fifth Estate Bill CondonUSA (World Premiere)

CLOSING NIGHT

Life of Crime Daniel Schecter USA (World Premiere)

GALAS

American Dreams in China Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Hong Kong/China (North American Premiere)
The Art of the Steal Jonathan Sobol, Canada (World Premiere)
August: Osage County John Wells, USA (World Premiere)
Cold Eyes CHO Ui-seok and KIM Byung-seo, Korea (North American Premiere)
The Grand Seduction Don McKellar, Canada (World Premiere)
Kill Your Darlings John Krokidas, USA (International Premiere)
The Love Punch Joel Hopkins, France (World Premiere)
The Lunchbox Ritesh Batra, India/France/Germany (North American Premiere)

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According to the Hollywood Reporter. The English-born actress will have to do an American dialect. She did it reasonably well in Fracture, opposite Ryan Gosling. She would work alongside Ben Affleck as the doomed couple.

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Fox Searchlight has just released the unbelievable trailer for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. The talented director reteams with Michael Fassbender for the third time.  But the heat is on  in the lead. This looks to be a career making performance. Screencaps after the jump.

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fruitvale

As of this moment, only two films look poised to enter the Best Picture race with a golden ticket. Alexander Payne’s Nebraska and Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. Already a champ at Sundance, an impressive reception at the Cannes Film Fest, with rave reviews from the critics who matter, and a director who is poised to make film and Oscar history becoming only the second black filmmaker to earn Best Director and Best Picture nominations, Fruitvale Station leads the pack for Best Picture in the pre-Telluride Oscar race.

Three other films right now seem to have what it takes to go all the way but they come with certain caveats. Alexander Payne’s magnificent Nebraska, seen in Cannes, has the stuff for the top nominations. Before Midnight is the best reviewed film of the year and will easy top the critics top ten lists by year’s end. But for the industry monolith that is the PGA/DGA and SAG, Before Midnight will need to count on those voters having seen the other two. It doesn’t quite work as a film on its own because you can’t possible tap in to the frustrations of the two leads without the context of their past.
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Fruitvale Station opens tomorrow to rave reviews from (what’s left of) the major film critics.

The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan writes:

Made with assurance and deep emotion, “Fruitvale Station” is more than a remarkable directing debut for 26-year-old Ryan Coogler. It’s an outstanding film by any standard.

Featuring a leap-to-stardom performance by Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale’s” demonstration of how effective understated, naturalistic filmmaking is at conveying even the most incendiary reality is as hopeful as the story it tells is despairing.

“Fruitvale” won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance, as well as the Un Certain Regard Prize of the Future at Cannes, and its story is a true one, a narrative that created national shock waves when it happened.

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman:

Coogler’s simple, powerful strategy is to dramatize Grant’s life during the 24 hours leading up to his death. After showing cell-phone video of the actual murder, he draws his camera in close to Oscar, played by Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) as a flawed, complex ex-convict who fools around on his partner (Melonie Diaz) but loves her tenderly; sells drugs but is trying, with half a heart, to go straight; and is a good daddy to his daughter. Jordan’s performance is grippingly subtle: He shows us the despair that’s ruling Oscar, the street ‘tude he puts on like armor, and the joy that comes out only when he’s at the home of his mother (Octavia Spencer). Coogler immerses us in this life, so that when it’s cut short, you won’t just weep, you’ll cry out in protest. Fruitvale Station is great political filmmaking because it’s great filmmaking, period. A

The New York Times’ AO Scott writes:

There is a natural, easy sweetness to Oscar, but neither Mr. Coogler’s script nor Mr. Jordan’s performance sugarcoats his temperament. He is, for one thing, irresponsible and not always honest, unable to admit to Sophina or Wanda that he has been fired from his supermarket job for chronic lateness. Even after two stints in prison (one visited in the film’s only chronological digression), he is still selling drugs, and his vows to stop have the feel of New Year’s resolutions, inspiring more hope than confidence.

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Directed by Jerusha Hess, who also adapted the screenplay with Shannonhale, the author of the novel.

gonegirl

gonegirl

The lead in Gone Girl is one of those once-in-a-lifetime roles for an actress. It isn’t going to be an easy choice.  But for now, one of the actors in talks for the male lead is Ben Affleck, who was seen having lunch with David Fincher, which then led to a Deadline story. But there is no official confirmation yet.  Affleck’s kind of perfect for it – as would be Jon Hamm or Henry Cavill.  He’s supposed to be kind of a nice guy douche who is bossed around by his sister (another great part) but more importantly, was born with a face people trust because he is so good looking.

The women “in talks” for the lead, according to The Wrap, would be Natalie Portman (already been a Black Swan), Emily Blunt (was mean in Devil Wears Prada) and Charlize Theron (already been a Young Adult).

I feel like there are four actresses born to play the part: Jessica Chastain, Rachel McAdams (already been a Mean Girl), Amy Adams and Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow *is* Amazing Amy. I aso think the greatly underrated Jennifer Garner would have a career making role on her hands but they could never cast Affleck and Garner.  But who would watch the kids? Either which way, the negotiations continue…

Speaking of the twin sister, she would have to be a good compliment to Affleck (if he’s cast) and snarky, dark, punkish. Clea Duvall, or even Blunt would be good for that part.

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