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The State of the Race: This Year’s Oscar Race Could be Most Watched in Decade

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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.

Continue reading…


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



The best way to report this news is to swipe Jeff Wells’ paragraph about the dueling biopics, since he sums it up nicely.  There will be two on Martin Luther King, Jr., but one directed by the talented Ms. DuVernay:

Deadline‘s Michael Fleming is reporting that Middle of Nowhere director-writer Ava DuVernay (congrats, Ana!) has been signed by Pathe UK, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and producer Christian Colson to direct Selma, a feature drama about Martin Luther King‘s historic voting-rights campaign. The effort culminated in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the heart of which was recently undermined by a Supreme Court decision. Middle Of Nowhere‘s David Oyelowo (The Butler, Lincoln) will reportedly play King. But Selma is now up against Paul Greengrass and Scott Rudin’s long-gestating Memphis, about King’s assassination and the hunt for King’s assassin James Earl Ray. Which will come out first? Any way you slice it, the second Martin Luther King movie will have a little something extra to prove.

The difference is, I guess, that one is about the assassin and the other is about King’s voting-rights campaign, the same campaign that just got overturned by our biased Supreme Court, I’m guessing.  Can’t wait!



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.



The State of the Race


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With the potential for 2015’s Best Picture nominees to include the likes of The Martian, Creed, Mad Max, Bridge of Spies, Inside Out, Joy, Black Mass alongside niche films that ...

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Something hit me while watching Creed, and in ruminating on the upcoming Star Wars movie. They’re bringing back 1970s nostalgia to remind us what movies once were. In thinking about ...

88th Academy Awards

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.18.03 AM

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Once again, these will be narrowed down to five. A Pixar entry here, along with a legendary animator Richard Williams. “Bear Story (Historia De Un Oso),” Gabriel Osorio, director, and ...
Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.15.08 AM

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From this list, five will be chosen. Once again, it’s an international affair – with one (I think), maybe two films from American filmmakers. There is a disconnect between the ...
Amy Schumer (left), Cate Blanchett (center) and Tom Hooper at the 2015 Governors Awards in The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, CA, on Saturday, November 14, 2015.


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