Inside Pulse » Anne Hathaway A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:57:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Anne Hathaway Monday Morning Critic – The Five Biggest Implications Of Rian Johnson In The Star Wars Universe and Its Sequels For Disney, LucasFilm and Beyond Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:00:02 +0000

The biggest story this week was the announcement of the next director for the Star Wars sequels. J.J Abrams is handling the launch of the sequels, with production (and Harrison Ford getting hurt) already underway, and it came out this week that Brick director Rian Johnson is going to tackle writing/directing duties for Episode VIII and will potentially write Episode IX.

There’s been some confusion, as it’s been reported in a couple of places he’s going to direct both.

Deadline had it first, of course, but The Wrap added that charming little detail. The Hollywood Reporter has him writing a treatment for the 3rd only, with directing duties on the 2nd sequel. My presumption is that the preponderance of established outlets reporting what THR and The Wrap are saying means it’s most likely happening and the Deadline report was probably in error in that regard at the time of release. Sometimes it happens like that when you try to be first with the news instead of being right.

It is substantial in every shape and form as Disney, who owns the rights to the franchise from LucasFilm, is showing us a lot with this first big announcement for the next series of films. In fact it’s showing us five things of note.


Rian Johnson has arguably the toughest job in recent cinematic history

At a minimum we can deduce that Johnson is going to have a valuable part of shaping the trilogy as he gets the toughest part of the next three films. The middle film of nearly every franchise is usually the weakest and for good reason: if you’re telling a three part story the middle is usually the one with the least implications for the story as a whole. Sequels en masse usually are letdowns from their predecessors because of this.

It’s why lists like “best sequels ever” and “worst sequels ever” exist; as a whole they usually tend to go downhill after the first film. And Star Wars boasts one of the greatest sequels of them all with The Empire Strikes Back which, along with The Godfather Part II, makes up the gold standards of second films in a franchise. You can throw in The Dark Knight, as well, but the point remains: the quantity of sequels that match or exceed their original high quality predecessors are few and far between.

Johnson is tasked with the film that will have the hardest time of the new franchise to draw at the box office. The first is guaranteed to have one of the biggest box office openings ever, and probably is a near lock to hit $1 billion in worldwide grosses right now. The second won’t have the same novelty factor that a “new” Star Wars film will have for Episode VII. All the 3D tricks in the world won’t raise the box office grosses to supremely high levels if it’s a stinker. We found that out with the first set of “new” Star Wars films. They all grossed exceptional amounts … but the second and third films didn’t get within $100 million domestically of Phantom Menace for a reason. The “OMG it’s awful” factor overrode the “but it’s a Star Wars film” for enough people to matter.

The fact that he’s got the second film to do the heavy lifting is something special to contemplate in a lot of ways. Abrams has the easy task; he could make 90 minutes of Jar-Jar Binks flying the Millennium Falcon while singing Taylor Swift songs and having Chewbacca fetch him lattes and hardcore fans would come out, multiple times, to see it. Hell, people would defend it because of reasons like “Jar-Jar was toned down and not nearly as racist as George Lucas made him to be, Asian jokes aside” on message boards everywhere.

There’s a reason why Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith both did worse than The Phantom Menace. Episode I was guaranteed to make insane amounts of money because it was a new Star Wars film, quality notwithstanding. The next two had to make a better case besides “Hey, it’s new Star Wars so please buy a ticket … with your money” that J.J Abrams gets to do.


Rian Johnson is getting at extended tryout of sorts

Johnson isn’t a lock for the third film, the ninth overall. So far he gets to write a treatment for the film after the one he’s slated to direct, nothing more. A treatment, for those unfamiliar with it, is basically a longform story describing what happens in a film. It’s there as part of a sales pitch for a film, nothing more, and Johnson is basically being given a shot to direct the second film and audition for the third. Nothing more.

It’s very interesting that Johnson isn’t locked into pair of films, just one, but it’s good on their part to not automatically guarantee him two films . At this point it kind of looks like this in terms of how they view him. Johnson is a gifted director, with a nice substantive rise from good indie work to good studio fare, but they don’t trust him with the keys to the franchise kingdom just yet. They’re confident enough he can make a good Episode VIII but nothing beyond that.

He’s being given a shot, with the option to go further, BUT nothing is guaranteed beyond the one film. He might just want to do one film, or write the screenplay and let someone else direct based on his experience, but ultimately Disney isn’t giving him the option to take what he wants so far. He’s being given the first shot at Episode IX … but it’s not a guaranteed one. This film could be very interesting on a purely artistic level because of it.

Odds are he’s the leading candidate for the third film … and he could be a great pick for a film in the franchise regardless. BUT he’s not a certainty.


Disney has learned some lessons from Marvel Studios

Disney isn’t screwing around with its franchise, either, in terms of hiring quality directors. Josh Trank, of Chronicle fame, has already been hired to do a standalone film with few details out there. So the good thing about this is that Disney doing to this franchise what Marvel has effectively done with theirs: hire mediocre directors to make follow-up films that high level directors kicked the franchise off with.

Disney is targeting guys with experience in science fiction and action, known for being able to write & direct and have experience with big films. Trank is going to be handling the Fantastic Four reboot in the near future, with casting a new costumed superhero group already done, but it’s the ultimate endorsement that they’re willing to give him his own off-shoot film in the franchise before that film has been released.

The key is that Disney isn’t skimping, creatively, on Star Wars because they rightfully view it as something that be a consistent nine figure profit maker on an annual or bi-annual basis. The one thing that would be easy to do is hire Abrams for the first and mainly just hire music video directors and guys like Rob Cohen or Simon West to do a paint by numbers Star Wars film that’s more of a studio collaboration than one person’s vision.

That’s what most blockbusters that aren’t from major directors are: collaborations. It’s why plenty of high profile directors never do big summer blockbusters, either, unless you have Spielberg level clout.


Welcome to the new summer movie franchise.

“Star Wars” is going to become a regular franchise in theatres during the summer blockbuster season. You don’t hire a director for the sequel when the first film isn’t even done with production if you don’t plan on pushing out a sequel relatively quickly after the first film. Disney has a plan to crank out the films and make Star Wars into the same sort of genre that comic book films have become.

That’s why it’s quotation marks and not italicized … eventually, if Disney gets it right, we’ll have a Star Wars boom period the same way we have one for comic books. Disney has studied history profoundly well and knows that a series of films that all hit can change the narrative. Iron Man was a fun one off, designed to be a hit but wasn’t expected to launch the comic book wave.

But in retrospect we will view it historically as the film that showed that comic book films could be successful to both the target audience (comic book donks) and casual movie goers alike. It’s the one that crafted all the Marvel cues, the post credits scenes setting up other films and all the usual requisites we’ve grown to expect in the six years since Iron Man dropped like a bomb shell and drastically changed the movie industry.


Star Wars is the new Twilight. And that’s not an insult.

The best franchise we can compare it to now is The Twilight Saga, which basically aped the formula from Saw of being able to crank out films every year for as long as it could pull off profitability. They also progressed a story rapidly, as well, and were able to change directors for nearly every film and not miss a beat in terms of everything plot related. It was interesting to see so many different directors essentially craft the same type of film on a regular basis until the series’ logical conclusion at the end of Breaking Dawn Part 2.

The one thing Summit did exceptionally well as a studio is that they had a plan in place to keep the machine churning. The franchise was only going to stay relevant as long as they could keep making films; part of its appeal was that the tabloid atmosphere surrounding the cast was fueled continually by either the film coming out or hype for the next one. It was a continual cycle and making it a regular event gave it a circus type atmosphere any time one of those films came out.

It was an advanced method of what made the Saw franchise a regular, profitable occurrence. It was a horror film fan’s blockbuster, even though it never had massive numbers, and every Halloween it got to dominate until the franchise completed with Saw 3D. When you get people in the habit of coming out for a specific type of film every year you can build in an audience; it’s why Marvel has multiple big films a year.

People go to cinemas less and less each year … but if you can get them conditioned to come out for something on a regular basis you can make money off it. Star Wars Episode VII will be an event, that’s for sure. It’s up to Disney to make every film afterward into one and it starts with Johnson’s effort.


I’m not excited for the new Star Wars yet … but so far they’re doing a good job of at least making it intriguing. And so far … I can live with that.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis tackled Borgman, an indie Dutch thriller.

I tackled Jersey Boys, which you can read here.

And now on MMC … Star Wars done Guardians of the Galaxy style. If you’re going to be on a Star Wars kick, I suppose, you go full bore.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge


This week’s DVD – Les Miserables

True story: My buddy Nick the Stand Up thought this film was pronounced “Less Miserables,” the easy dumb American version of the French pronunciation. I almost tried to convince him that it really was the French Expendables, and pictured him thinking that since it has “the Gladiator guy and Wolverine” it would be fun. And then I pictured him going nuts, thinking “somebody shoot somebody” and waiting for them to do something violent, instead of sing.

Alas it was not to be, but made for a good stand up bit that I think he never used. And thus comes this week’s film, the French stage play adapted many times to a film (and earned Anne Hathaway an Oscar).

I saw this film with some friends on Christmas Day … perk of having a family that only meets on Christmas Eve is that you can spend all day watching movies and not feel all that bad. I reviewed it, too, and decided that after the Portugal/US game Sunday afternoon it would make for a good conclusion to this week’s column, considering it went all Star Wars wonky.

Simple premise: Jean Veljean (Hugh Jackman) has been sentenced to prison for theft. Serving his time under Russell Crowe, Veljean changes his name and finds fortune as a factory owner. When one of his employees (Anne Hathaway) gets fired, and dies, he takes care of her daughter. The problems begin when Crowe figures out who he is and begins to hunt him down. All the while a Revolution is brewing.

I enjoyed the film in theatres … but the same problems it had there are the same ones it still has.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Transformers: Age of Extinction – Shia Labeouf is gone, so now it’s time for Marky Mark to lead the Robot Bunch in a big $200 million CGI fest.

Skip it – Did we really need another one of these after the third film?

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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Anne Hathaway, Chloe Moretz And Sam Rockwell To Star In Lynn Shelton’s Laggies Wed, 27 Mar 2013 19:09:24 +0000 Lynn Shelton, not to be confused with Lynne Ramsay who bolted from directing Jane Got a Gun, has lined up her next project after last year’s Your Sister Sister.

Her new feature, written by Andrea Seigel and titled Laggies, looks to again deal with relationships, only this time it involves a woman who gets freaked out when her boyfriend proposes marriage. So she bolts and hides out for a week with her new bestie, 16-year-old Annika.

Anne Hathaway would play the marriage conflicted Megan, with Moretz as her new best friend. Sam Rockwell’s role is that of an older character named Craig.×120.jpg

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Oscars: Inside Pulse Movies Final Predictions For The 2013 Academy Awards Fri, 22 Feb 2013 01:00:24 +0000

With voting for the 85th Academy Awards officially closed, and with Scott Sawitz already throwing down the challenge in his Monday Morning Critic column on what should win vs. what will win, I feel that now was a good time to unveil my final Oscar predictions. These are the same predictions I made to a crowd of onlookers Tuesday night as part of an Oscars discussion.

It has been an interesting award season to say the least, and my opinions have twisted and turned due to oversights, omissions and momentum in the months counting down. Now it’s crunch time.

On Oscar night we could be looking at Ben Affleck’s Argo going on to collect numerous awards. Or we could very well have The Weinstein Company getting its third consecutive Best Picture winner with Silver Linings Playbook. Steven Spielberg may finally get his third statuette for directing Lincoln while his star, Daniel Day-Lewis, would make Oscar history by becoming the only actor to have won three Best Actor awards. Life of Pi looks to be a shoe-in for visual effects, but don’t underestimate Ang Lee’s chances in the directing category.

However, I’m of the opinion that the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences will be looking to spread the wealth on Sunday night; we’re likely to see a few of the Best Picture nominees pick up at least two awards. Though, if I’m wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Rather than rundown all 24 categories, since I’m not familiar with some of the short films nominated, I’ll highlight the “Big 5″ (acting awards and picture) along with some of the technical categories. Note: my picks will appear in bold.


Best Animated Short
Adam And Dog
Head Over Heels
Fresh Guacamole
The Longest Daycare

Here’s one of the few times I’ve seen a majority of the nominees. It helps that two of the five preceded films that had a theatrical release. Disney’s “Paperman” played in front of Wreck-It Ralph, while “The Longest Daycare” is a The Simpsons short featuring Maggie Simpson. Plus, “Fresh Guacamole” has been featured on Showtime. Of the five, I think “Paperman” is the strongest, plus its use of traditional hand-drawn animation with computer-generated animation is a benefit. But it is also one of the most romantic features, long or short, that I’ve seen in quite a while.


Best Sound Editing
Life Of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained

As much as I would like the honor to go to Zero Dark Thirty (the sounds during the interrogations to the siege on the OBL compound have quite the punch), but I’m going with Skyfall. The biggest Bond film yet had great set pieces including its opening sequence and Javier Bardem’s thrilling escape involving a train crashing into the building where he’s being held. And who could forget the finale involving a Straw Dogs (some would call it Home Alone) pastiche.


Best Sound Mixing
Les Miserables
Life Of Pi

The men behind the sounds of Les Miserables can thank Universal’s campaign for this category by producing an EPK-style featurette that attempts to raise awareness about the film’s technique of having the actors perform their songs live on set instead of in a music studio and lip-syncing.


Best Visual Effects
Life Of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Snow White and the Hunstman

Definitely one of the few locks at this year’s Oscars. This award will go Life of Pi. Of the five nominees it has the most impressive visuals, but it also has the added benefit of being the only Best Picture nominee in the bunch.


Best Original Song

“Skyfall” from Skyfall – Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from Les Miserables – Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boubil
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice – J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted – Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi – Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri

While I was secretly hoping that “Thunder Buddies” from Ted would be in the final five, I guess I’ll go with Adele’s Skyfall. It’s easily the best Bond theme since probably Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” and of all the nominees it’s the only one you’re likely to hear on Top 40 radio. That should count for something. Besides, the song and music branches seem to be the most progressive of the entire AMPAS. That would explain why you can put “Oscar winner” next to such acts as Trent Reznor, Eminem and Three 6 Mafia.


Best Film Editing

Argo – William Goldenberg
Zero Dark Thirty – Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Life Of Pi – Tim Squyres
Lincoln – Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook – Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers

Realistically, the award should go to Cloud Atlas, but since it was ignored by the Academy in favor of five Best Picture nominees it looks like the best bet is Argo. Traditionally, the film that wins Best Film Editing goes on to win Best Picture. Though if it isn’t Argo look for Zero Dark Thirty with a surprise win. Either way, William Goldenberg has a 40% chance of getting an Oscar.


Best Cinematography

Life Of Pi – Claudio Miranda
Skyfall – Roger Deakins
Anna Karenina – Seamus McGarvey
Lincoln – Janusz Kaminski
Django Unchained – Robert Richardson

In a perfect world, Roger Deakins would finally get rewarded for his contributions to cinematography. The man has been nominated ten times, winning zero. Skyfall is great on a number of levels including the way Deakins handles the lighting in certain sequences. Who could forget that one on one confrontation done with silhouettes and shadows, and the scene in Hong Kong has a smorgasbord of strong visuals (not to mention Komodo Dragons). But much like the year Avatar got a cinematography award despite the film being mostly CGI, I could see that breathtaking visuals of Life of Pi will once again see Deakins remain winless at the Oscars.


Best Animated Feature

Wreck-It Ralph
The Pirates! Band Of Misfits

It looks like this is the year where a Pixar film isn’t the odds on favorite to win. A similar situation happened when it was Monsters Inc. up again DreamWorks’ Shrek. However, comparatively speaking, Monsters Inc. was better received than Brave. But Pixar could be awarded on account that it goes against convention when it comes to traditional “Disney Princess” movies. However, I see I losing out to Wreck-It Ralph mainly on account that stop-motion films like Frankenweenie and ParaNorman are likely to cancel each other out. Sure, it may be a simple tale that plays heavily off of ’80s arcade and video-gaming nostalgia, but it was one of Disney’s better, non-Pixar efforts in quite some time.


Best Documentary – Feature
Searching For Sugar Man
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague
5 Broken Cameras
The Invisible War

While there are varying kinds of documentaries, most either fall into the category of either being about someone or something, or championing a cause. In terms of the latter that would be The Invisible War and Kirby Dick’s introspective look at a lingering problem within the U.S. military (namely rape and sexual assault). While Searching for Sugar Man may not be “championing a cause” it is a feel-good documentary about a folk singer who went unnoticed in America only to become an international sensation in the country of South Africa during apartheid.


Best Foreign Language Film

A Royal Affair
War Witch

If Michael Haneke’s Amour wins this award it guarantees that it won’t win Best Picture. It is the frontrunner in this category for stranger things have happened. Remember the year where The Lives of Others beat out Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth?


Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Argo – Chris Terrio
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell
Lincoln – Tony Kushner
Life Of Pi – David Magee
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

Of the five nominees, three are from books, one is from a play, and another is based on an actual CIA document and agent. One would think David Magee would be the favorite for taking a piece of literature that many thought to be “unfilmable” and make it work. But it is Ang Lee who has been given the lion’s share of kudos for the success of Life of Pi. The top three picks are definitely Argo, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook, and you can put them in any order. All three were box office hits, but it seems like Chris Terrio has the inside edge. No offense to Tony Kushner’s screenplay, probably the strongest aspect of Lincoln, but his source material was three pages from the novel “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. But because David O. Russell isn’t the odds on favorite in the directing category (again, comedies seem to get a bad rap in general by the Academy) he could very well in this category.


Best Writing – Original Screenplay

Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal
Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino
Amour – Michael Haneke
Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Flight – John Gatins

This is an interesting category that sees a couple of former winners up against some talented competition. Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty recently won at the WGAs, but I’m not sure what makes Zero Dark Thirty an original screenplay versus Chris Terrio’s Argo. Is it a loophole because of anonymous sources in the case of ZDT? Realistically, the winner should be Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola’s Moonrise Kingdom because it is such a good story about teenage love. Going out on a limb I’m picking Quentin Tarantino, mainly on account that the man is due for an Academy Award he can claim himself (he shared screenwriting honors with Roger Avary back in 1994 for Pulp Fiction).


Best Supporting Actor
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Alan Arkin – Argo

In a rare occurrence all the nominees in this category are previous winners. So the question remains is who is the most deserving? Eh, you could probably put the names on a Post-It note and put it on a dartboard and pick a winner that way. Personally, I think the winner should be Philip Seymour Hoffman, but The Master was such a polarizing film that most of the voting body probably forgot about it, if they ever saw it. So with that in mind I’m going with Robert De Niro who gives his best performance in quite a long time. People seem to forget that De Niro had a career before the Focker movies. Here he proves his weight as a legendary thespian doing a role that isn’t as showy as Alan Arkin in Argo or as scene-chewingly good as Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. As for Tommy Lee Jones, if he wins he won’t be on account of his toupee.


Best Supporting Actress

Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Sally Field – Lincoln
Amy Adams – The Master
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Okay, here’s another lock for this year’s Oscars. The award is going to Anne Hathaway. All the other actresses have all but conceded at this point. If Jennifer Hudson can win it for belting out a soulful rendition of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”, then Hathaway can get it for singing “I Dreamed a Dream.” Besides, I figure the voters owe it to her for having to work with James Franco at last year’s ceremony. Any other year the award probably should go to Helen Hunt. Her performance was the most daring in terms of vulnerability playing a character that doesn’t glamorize sex but shows it in a natural setting (in this case as a sex therapist helping a man with polio).


Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Denzel Washington – Flight

Never would I think I would see one of The Hangover‘s Wolf Pack with an Oscar nomination, at least this early in his career. Bradley Cooper is good in Silver Linings but he’s no Daniel Day-Lewis or Denzel Washington. For DDL it may be his best performance, and that includes his wins for My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood. But he makes playing Abraham Lincoln look easy. A much harder role is that of Denzel Washington’s in Flight. The nuances he gives his alcoholic character are strong, but it’s the kind of performance that is more introverted. Flight is far from a good movie, but Washington’s performance is great. Sadly, it will be just like the year he was overlooked for his performance in The Hurricane in favor of Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. I don’t think there will be any serious upset in this category, so if your office is doing a pool, Daniel Day-Lewis is the best pick.


Best Actress

Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Naomi Watts – The Impossible
Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Of these five Jessica Chastain gave the best performance. And to me it was the best performance I saw by any actor or actress in 2012. She is my pick to win even though it looks like the political fallout of Zero Dark Thirty makes her seem like an also-ran at this point. Outside of her winning, the award will be contested between Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva. Riva turns 86 on Sunday, and an Academy Award would make quite the birthday gift. Plus we’ll be seeing Chastain and Lawrence in this category in the years to come.


Best Director

Ang Lee – Life Of Pi
Steven Spielberg – Lincoln
Michael Haneke – Amour
David O Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Oh, the Best Director category. When picking nominations I have three surefire picks. I had Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck. Only one of the three got nominated. But the omission of Affleck is a most egregious error on behalf of the director’s branch. Boy do they have egg on their face. And it is because of that why Argo is likely going to get the benefit of the doubt in a number of categories it wouldn’t be favored to win. Like it wouldn’t surprise me if it got a Sound award of some kind. With Affleck out of the picture, the director’s race looks to be a two horse affair between Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg. Between the two, Life of Pi is the only “director’s movie” so to speak. That gives an edge to Lee, for sure. However my gut tells me that the Academy will want to award Spielberg his third directing award, much like the Academy felt compelled to give Meryl Streep her Oscar last year despite her performance in The Iron Lady being far from her best work. It’s a close category, that’s for sure.


Best Picture

Silver Linings Playbook
Life Of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Les Miserables
Django Unchained
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Three of these nine appeared on my Top 10 List of 2012 with Zero Dark Thirty occupying the #1 spot. I don’t seriously dislike any of the nine nominees, but Amour and Life of Pi would probably be near the bottom. Look for Argo to pull a Driving Miss Daisy and be the first film in more than twenty years to win Best Picture without receiving a Best Director nomination. If not Argo, then we might see a comedy win the Best Picture award since 1998’s Shakespeare in Love.×120.jpg

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Oscar Nominations Fallout Thu, 10 Jan 2013 15:34:54 +0000 The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were revealed today by presenters Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone. With MacFarlane sharing nominations duties with Stone, it marks the first time since 1971 that an Oscar host read off the nominees (MacFarlane will be hosting the Oscars on Sunday, February 26, 2013 on ABC).

It was an interesting morning for sure, and Hollywood insiders, entertainment bloggers and more were on pins and needles with each reveal. And boy were some of the categories very revealing.

The biggest winner is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln which racked up the most nominations of any other with 12. The offbeat romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook surprised with acting nominations in every category (best actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress). Jacki Weaver’s nomination for Playbook was a surprised and prevented me from going five for five with my predictions. (I thought Maggie Smith of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel would get that fifth spot.)  A big Oscar fact to know is that Silver Linings Playbook becomes only the 14th film to ever receive at least one Oscar nomination in each of the four acting categories, and the first to do so in 31 years. The others: My Man Godfrey (1936), Mrs. Miniver (1942), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Johnny Belinda (1948), Sunset Blvd. (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), Network (1976), Coming Home (1978) and Reds (1981).

That sets up a David vs. Goliath battle between Lincoln and Silver Linings unless you include Life of Pi and make it a three-way.

The 3-D release Life of Pi also scored an impressive number of nominations with 11. Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s literary classic becomes only the fourth film to score Oscar nominations in all seven technical categories (best cinematography, film editing, best original score, best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects). The others is James Cameron’s Titanic (not surprising), the underrated Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and last year’s Hugo. And the film continues a tradition that started back in 2009 is having a Best Film field with at least one film that was released predominately in 3-D.

Here are the complete list of nominees followed by some “Oscar Nominations by the Numbers” from The Hollywood Reporter.

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewisin “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Alan Arkin in “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best animated feature film of the year

  • “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Adapted screenplay

  • “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
  • “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Original screenplay

  • “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained”Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

Achievement in cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Achievement in directing

  • “Amour” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Amour” Austria
  • “Kon-Tiki” Norway
  • “No” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair” Denmark
  • “War Witch” Canada

Best documentary feature

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
    Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • “The Gatekeepers”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “The Invisible War”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”
    Nominees to be determined

Best documentary short subject

  • “Inocente”
    Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point”
    Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine”
    Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart”
    Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption”
    Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Achievement in film editing

  • “Argo” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln” Michael Kahn
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Achievement in costume design

  • “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

  • “Hitchcock”
    Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables”
    Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln” John Williams
  • “Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
    Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
    Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
    Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
    Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
    Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best motion picture of the year

  • “Amour” Nominees to be determined
  • “Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
  • “Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
  • “Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
  • “Life of Pi”Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

Achievement in production design

  • “Anna Karenina”
    Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • “Les Misérables”
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • “Life of Pi”
    Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Lincoln”
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best animated short film

  • “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
  • “Fresh Guacamole” PES
  • “Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” David Silverman
  • “Paperman” John Kahrs

Best live action short film

  • “Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • “Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • “Curfew” Shawn Christensen
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • “Henry” Yan England

Achievement in sound editing

  • “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
  • “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Achievement in sound mixing

  • “Argo”
    John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • “Les Misérables”
    Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • “Life of Pi”
    Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
  • “Lincoln”
    Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • “Skyfall”
    Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • “Life of Pi”
    Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”
    Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
  • “Prometheus”
    Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman”
    Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

  • Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty, which was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, becomes the 11th best picture Oscar nominee directed or co-directed by a woman.

  • Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), who is nine years old, becomes the youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history, breaking the record previously held by Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), who was 13 when she was nominated for Whale Rider (2003).

  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), who is 85 years old, becomes the oldest best actress Oscar nominee in history, breaking the record previously held by Jessica Tandy, who was 80 when she was nominated — and won — for Driving Miss Daisy (1989). The only person older than Riva to ever receive an acting Oscar nomination was Gloria Stuart, who was 87 when she became a best supporting actress nominee for Titanic (1997).

  • An unprecedented three Australians are among this year’s acting Oscar nominees: Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Naomi Watts (The Impossible) and Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook).

  • For the first time in history all five nominees from one of the acting categories — in this case, best supporting actor (Argo‘s Alan Arkin, Silver Linings Playbook‘s Robert De Niro, The Master‘s Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lincoln‘s Tommy Lee Jones, Django Unchained‘s Christoph Waltz) — are previous Oscar winners.

  • Amy Adams (The Master) becomes only the eighth person to have received at least four best supporting actress Oscar nominations.

  • Today brought the first Oscar nominations for Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Michael Haneke (Amour), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

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Brendan Campbell’s Top Ten Films of 2012 Mon, 31 Dec 2012 20:00:33 +0000 Best of 2012 Image Montage Final

There were a lot of movies I was anticipating this year, and very few of them failed to deliver on those expectations. While I do try to not get caught up in the hype, and avoid movie trailers and other promotional materials, some movies just demand sheer anticipation based on the subject matter alone. That was the case with many of my top ten, which are films that I’d looked forward to seeing – in some cases for years – and left the theater after all that time feeling more than satisfied, and ready for more.

I always enjoy rounding out a top ten list, and some years it’s easier than others. This was a year where the core of the top ten remained the same for quite a while, while other parts of it jumped around as the year went on. As far as films that just missed out on the list, there are a handful, and I’ll touch upon them briefly as honourable mentions – and films worth seeing.

Honourable Mentions

Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson is a fantastically fun director, who’s got a unique way of telling his stories and shooting his films so that the audience is always involved and seeing things in unexpected ways. His tale of young love is crafted beautifully, superbly acted, and just fun (and funny) all around.

Dredd – On the opposite end of the genre spectrum, Dredd is pure, non-stop action that will leave your screens blood-soaked once the chaos comes to an end. This is a film that failed to draw audiences while in theaters, but will hopefully find a home on Blu-ray and DVD, as this is the type of film that action aficionados crave, and the type of Dredd story that was meant to be told.

The Cabin in the Woods The Cabin in the Woods was written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, in a year that Whedon was finally recognized worldwide for his natural talent as a writer and filmmaker. This is a movie that takes the horror movie clichés and flips them upside-down, taking an original – and really brilliant – look at the genre.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – I’m a huge fan of giant, epic films that see mankind try to stop the end of the world from happening, and yet here’s one that’s the exact opposite. This film begins with that giant, epic mission failing, and only 21 days remaining until the inevitable end of the world. Watching people deal with this impending doom in their own ways really makes this film special, and the acting done by Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley is spot-on.

Casa de mi Padre – I’m a big fan of Will Farrell, and even if you aren’t, Casa de mi Padre is a film you should at least give a chance. What will turn most people off to this film is the fact that it’s foreign, with the entire film being spoken in Spanish, with English subtitles. Let me tell you that this doesn’t detract from the comedy at all, and the fact that Farrell learned to speak fluent Spanish for this film really shows dedication. The film is a spoof of Spanish novellas, and it really hits the nail on the head on all fronts. There are plenty of visual gags to go along with the incredibly funny dialogue, and the storyline is thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. It’s the funniest movie I saw all year, and definitely one you shouldn’t miss.

Now we move on to my top ten films of 2012, which are a mixed bag in terms of genres, and no doubt a mixed bag in terms of films people agree and disagree with. Placement for the top ten is always the hardest, as it can be a constant struggle simply deciding whether a film should be placed in fifth place, or sixth. Sure this may seem odd, as there’s no major difference in the placing to most – especially after the top three or five – however, it’s something that is difficult nonetheless, which I’m sure my fellow writers here on IP Movies can agree with.

Now, let’s get on with the show…


10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Some may think that this film is undeserving to make my list at all, while others will argue that it being number 10 out of 10 isn’t giving it enough credit. Personally, I feel it deserves to be here (which is why I put it on the list), and I think many others – even those who dislike it now – will find more to love in it after the next two films are released and the trilogy is seen as a whole. The major complaint with the first film in The Hobbit trilogy is that it was too slow, and that the pacing was off. Honestly, I never felt that once while I watched it.

What I did feel was a sense of nostalgia for the world Peter Jackson brought to life over a decade ago, and halfway through the film I remember thinking, “I wish there were 10 more movies lined up, and not just two,” because while this quest may not be as exhilarating as the one in Lord of the Rings, the world is just incredible, and I’m always eagerly anticipating what will happen next. Luckily, we won’t have to wait as long this time around for the next installment.

Promehteus by Ridley Scott wallpapers

9. Prometheus
This will likely be the most surprising entry on my list. I’m a huge fan of the Alien franchise (even the often-loathed Alien 3 is superb in its director’s cut format; Resurrection on the other hand…) and while this was hyped as a prequel to this much loved series, many saw it as a disappointment. Personally, I love it as an addition to the Alien universe, and much like Star Wars has an extended universe, that’s exactly how I see this film – an extension to the Alien mythos more so than a prequel.

I think people wanted to see Xenomorphs take over the ship and attack the crew once more, and I can’t really blame them, as that’s always awesome and fun. But Prometheus did so much more than that, while also adding in the necessary attack on the crew. Questions were asked about our existence in general, and how humankind came to be, and while clues and hypotheses were dangled in front of the audience at times, concrete answers never came, and that irked some people the wrong way. I wasn’t one of those people, and I loved the direction the film took. Of course, with co-writer Damon Lindelof not returning for the sequel after taking the brunt of the blame by fans for the ambiguity of Prometheus, who knows if the eventual sequel will be as intriguing. Only time will tell in this instance.


8. Looper
Here’s a fantastic piece of science fiction that will likely only gain affection with me upon repeat viewings. Writer/director Rian Johnson has put together an absolutely awesome science fiction story that really nails it on all cylinders. Joseph Gorden-Levitt stars as a younger version of Bruce Willis’s character Joe, and with the help of some make-up and special effects, as well as some flawless Willis mimicry from Gordon-Levitt, the resemblance is uncanny at times.

The story itself is just loads of fun, and Johnson does a great job of explaining only what he has to, without over-complicating the whole time travel angle by trying to spell it out for viewers. For those afraid that Hollywood is out of original ideas, Looper is an example of originality at its finest. While not everything has to be unique to be good, Looper proves that the pot is still deep in terms of quality storytelling and shouldn’t be missed.


7. The Grey
Liam Neeson has reinvented himself over the years and has become one of the coolest action stars on the planet. Of course, it helps that he’s also a superb actor on top of it all, and he brings that to his action roles, thus elevating them to another level completely. In January, The Grey was released, and while the film has the poetic tagline, “Live or Die on This Day,” audiences simply saw it as “Liam Neeson vs. Wolves,” and really, who doesn’t want to see that?

The Grey is a beautifully told story of survival in many ways: Man vs. nature, man vs. beast, and man vs. man. The film is intense, and the wolf attacks are brutal, and yet it’s not aimed to be this gory film about wolves eating people. No, writers Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers really tell this story in a poetic way, while also keeping things real and gritty when push comes to shove. Carnahan also directed the film, which is beautifully shot and flawlessly paced. While many arguments about how wolves wouldn’t just attack people were brought up after the film’s released, it’s touched upon quite early why they’re doing what they’re doing, and if you want to deny the plausibility after that point, then all you’re doing is denying yourself the pleasure of seeing one of the most intense, well-crafted films of the year.


6. Argo
When The Town made my top ten list in 2010, I stated that Ben Affleck was the next Clint Eastwood, and now I will once again reiterate that point. I’ve always been a fan of Affleck, but he’s really proven himself as a director that will be making spectacular films for the next 20+ years if he so chooses. Argo is a film that will no doubt be up for Best Picture at the Oscars, and Affleck will no doubt be up for Best Director – and deservingly so. This is a brilliantly put together film that really hits everything out of the park in terms of development, shooting locations, acting and pacing. The film is based on true events, however, even if you know how it’s going to end, it’s the incredible journey mixed with laughs and sheer intensity that Affleck takes you on that keeps you engrossed throughout.


5. Les Miserables
While Tom Hooper’s The King Speech is seen as one of those Best Picture winners that won’t stand the test of time, his visually stunning work on the musical Les Miserables is one that will – whether it wins the top Academy prize this year or not. Les Miserables is a musical done on an epic scope, and it’s one that isn’t afraid to take chances. Hooper decided he wanted to have the actors sing live on set, instead of lip-syncing along like most musicals do. While it’s understandable why most musicals follow the lip-sync route, the scenes and songs in Les Miserables are just too filled with emotion, and to get that range from the actors while they try to match up their movements to pre-recorded songs just isn’t possible.

Not only does this add to the emotional intensity of the scenes (one has to look no further than Anne Hathaway’s much talked about “I Dream a Dream” rendition that will no-doubt garner her an Oscar nomination – and also likely place her as a frontrunner to win it) but it also adds a sense of realism to the entire film since pretty much 99% of it is done in song. Had they pre-recorded it, there would’ve been a detachment that audiences would’ve easily noticed; however, Hooper risked quite a lot going with live recordings on a film as epic in proportion as this, and it paid off in the form of being one of the year’s best.


4. Skyfall
After four years on the shelf due to studio problems, James Bond is back, and it was more than worth the wait. Sam Mendes took over the directing chair this time around, and his presence is felt on all fronts, with the dramatic tones and visuals being just as important as any action scene. When Bond was “rebooted” back in 2006, Daniel Craig took over the role and completely embodied the character in a way he’d never been portrayed before – and it worked. For Craig’s first two films as Bond, the hero was challenged mentally and emotionally, bringing a realistic element to the character that resonated with audiences. This time around, Bond is tested physically like never before due to the fact that he’s, well, getting older.

After four years off, coming back with a story like this – whether it was intentional or just coincidence – was perfect. Craig looks older, and after all he’s been through, Bond’s body simply isn’t holding up as well as he’d like. The story that accompanies this issue is strong, and the introduction of new characters is welcome and handled quite well. It’s films like this, Casino Royale (and yes, even Quantum of Solace on a bit of a lesser level) that make me hope that Craig stays on as Bond as long as his body will allow him to, because as I said six years ago, he’s the best Bond yet, and Skyfall is right up there as well.


3. Django Unchained
I’m not a devout Quentin Tarantino fan, but I’m fully aware of his talent as a filmmaker, and I’ll gladly point out when he delivers a film as brilliant as Django Unchained. The film is easily one of Tarantino’s best, and may actually be my favourite of his thus far. While it lands in third place on the list, that’s simply a number, and I can see my love for the film growing more over time. The story of revenge and love is simple in terms of theme, yet complex, well thought out, and perfectly structured in terms of delivery.

Jamie Foxx is flawless as Django, and while the role was written for Will Smith (who no doubt would’ve done fantastic work as well), Foxx has a less recognizable look to him, which helps audiences see Django every step of the way, and not the actor. Tarantino nails the over-the-top action element, and really builds up his characters so that the various resolutions throughout have the impact on the viewer they deserve, and never feel unsatisfactory. While Foxx may be recognized at the Oscars, and Tarantino should be, it’s once again Christopher Waltz who – just as he did in Inglourious Basterds – pretty much steals the show as the man who purchases Django at the start of the film. His work as Dr. King Schultz will very likely see him once again nominated for Best Supporting Actor (an award he won for his work in Inglourious Basterds). As for the film itself, well, it’s easily one of the year’s best, and one of the top contenders for top prize without a doubt.


2. The Avengers
My top two choices won’t likely be garnering any of the top awards at the Oscars next year; however, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve their placement on this list. It’s not all about awards, of course, and these two films (which are two of the highest grossing films of all time) prove it. The Avengers is a film that had seeds planted for it as far back as 2008, when Marvel released Iron Man into theaters with a small teaser at the end of it involving Nick Fury simply mentioning the Avengers Initiative. Four years later, those seeds (along with the rest planted in Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger) have grown into what is easily one of the best superhero movies of all time, and an incredible accomplishment in filmmaking in general.

By this I mean, Joss Whedon crafted an epic that not only captured the individual feel of each superhero, but also told a story that had a threat on such an epic level that it needed all of these superheroes to come together in order to stop it. Everyone stepped up to the plate, and the fact that Marvel had the foresight to envision such an epic film in the first place (making sure to sign on all the top players for multiple films) is astounding. DC is attempting to do the same thing with The Justice League, and I hope they succeed; however, it took Marvel four years and lots of planning to build the foundation for this massive epic, and while the almighty dollar wins out in the end, I think DC would be better off following this same proven format that helped create one of the year’s best movies.


1. The Dark Knight Rises
I absolutely love the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and The Dark Knight Rises was not only the best conclusion that this franchise could’ve hoped for, but also one of the best conclusions to a movie trilogy ever. Not everyone will agree with me, and I’m fine with that, but The Dark Knight Rises jumped to the top of my list when I first saw it, remained there after multiple viewings, and held firm all the way until the end of the year.

I still believe that Nolan deserves a nod for best director, and that the film should at least be nominated for best picture – even though I know it has no chance of winning. Odds are, though, neither of those things will happen. That doesn’t change the fact that the film still tops my list, and I can happily watch Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises as a whole, knowing that it’s an absolutely astonishing trilogy that never falters. This was the movie fans deserved, and Nolan and company delivered on all fronts.

That’s it for this year! Next year is already shaping up to be another great year in cinema that we can all look forward to. In regards to this list, feel free to leave your opinions below – whether you agree or disagree – and let me know what you think. In other news, we now know that the Mayans were wrong, and I can finally stop stalking John Cusack in an attempt to follow him to safety when the world ended. So on that note, Happy New Year, and we’ll see you in 2013!×120.jpg

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Les Miserables – Review Wed, 26 Dec 2012 20:00:39 +0000
Solid but unfulfilling adaptation of France’s finest novel

Adapting “Les Miserables” by Hugo is one of the most daunting tasks a filmmaker can take on. It’s already perhaps France’s finest novel and a beloved stage musical; turning it into a film that matches either of them is something not even the most skilled auteur could pull off. Tom Hooper has tried and mostly succeeded with a film that’s going to wind up with an armful of Oscars in early 2013.

The film follows Jean Veljean (Hugh Jackman), a convict who spent nearly 20 years behind bars for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family (and trying to escape multiple times) in 1815 France. Unable to secure work because of his status as a “dangerous” man, Veljean changes his name and makes a new life for himself to avoid the pursuit of an Inspector (Russell Crowe) with a zeal for enforcing the law. After succeeding in a new life as a wealthy factory owner, and mayor of a town, he winds up nearly exposing himself by trying to care for a dying prostitute (Anne Hathaway) who had been previously fired from his factory. He makes the dying woman a promise though: care for her young child (Isabelle Allen as a child, Amanda Seyfried as an adult) who’s being taken care of by two less than honest innkeepers (Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter).

Years later he’s the father figure to the now adult Cosette in the midst of a revolution against the King of France. In the midst of his revolutionary yearning Marius (Eddie Redmayne) meets Cosette and they instantly fall in love, much to the chagrin of both Jean and Marius’s unrequited love Eponine (Samantha Barks). What follows is a tale of love set amidst a France in much more electric times as Jean has to avoid the zeal of Javert, who has had a hankering for justice when it comes to the now parole violator Valjean.

As a spectacle this might be the film of the year as this is absolutely what Hugo and the creators of the musical would’ve imagined a film version of his work to be. Every aspect of this film is gorgeous to look at; in a year of some spectacular imagery certainly Les Mis saved the best for last. As both a visual and audio spectacle it’s a tremendous piece of work. Hooper has crafted a visual masterpiece to go along with by far the best score of the year; it’s understated when it has to be, powerful when it needs to be and set perfectly to where the film needs to go. Every aspect of this from a purely a/v perspective is marvelous.

The problem comes from the way in which the film was designed. Normally in a musical you record six months out and then mime to the lyrics on stage. While it provides the best audio for the film, as it can be tuned and sweetened in the studio beforehand, it also forces actors to make all their decisions before they’re on set. Being able to sing live allows for better performances but it also doesn’t allow for actors without great musical chops to be compensated for. Bonham Carter and Cohen aren’t tremendously gifted in this regard and their scenes wind up flat because of it; even Russell Crowe, who has the powerful presence of Javert, isn’t given the best vocal range to use in the film. They aren’t quite Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd level bad but they’re not far above that qualitative level; this is a film that could’ve used some help in that regard and Hooper sacrifices the film’s singing in parts to have a more dramatic film.

It’s gutsy but doesn’t pay off in big doses like he’d hoped, one imagines. He also has most of the cast singing their lines when some would be better off without it. Crowe is almost an eyesore because of it; the few great moments he has are the few moments when he isn’t singing. It’s not that he has a bad voice, far from it, but it’s not quite tailored for the character as Hooper has designed him. He’s trying for someone with a big physical presence and a big booming voice and while Crowe has both his singing doesn’t add or subtract anything from the film. It just exists because it has to and it’s a shame because Javert is such a grand character; Crowe is a near perfect choice for it but it just doesn’t feel right.

It’s a shame because this film has two of the year’s best performances from Hathaway and Barks. Barks has a bit of an edge over the rest of the cast, as Eponine is a character she’s played in the stage version before to high accolades, but she knows this character in and out. There’s real pain in her eyes as the boy she’s been in love with for a long time, the one she’d do anything for, loves someone else in that way. It’s at times hard to watch because it’s so raw and powerful.

The film’s true standout is Hathaway. Jackman makes for a good Veljean, and probably will earn an Oscar nomination for it, but it’ll be a crime if Hathaway is overlooked. Fantine is a splendid character and the film’s first half is nearly magical because of how grand Hathaway is. We knew she could sing, as she and Jackman lit up an otherwise dull Oscar ceremony years ago with a song and dance number, but her version of “I dreamed a dream” is almost haunting in how good it is. When she dies the film takes a noticeable step backward without her; this might end up becoming the performance that defines her career and if so it’s a spectacular one.

One has to admire Tom Hooper in a way; he reached for the stars and cashed in every chip he had to get Les Miserables on the big screen with a cast any director would kill for. He got a massive budget and got to do it the way he wanted, as well. And he mostly succeeded in a way few directors do; Michael Cimino famously sank a studio with Heaven’s Gate and plenty of Oscar winning directors never hit the same level again after doing similar things. Hooper has delivered a film that manages to hit the heart and soul, and give Les Mis fans the film they wanted, but doesn’t hit that final gear to turn this from good film to masterpiece.

Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer based off the musical of the same name (by Boublil and Schonberg) and the novel “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo
Notable Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Isabelle Allen×120.jpg

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Just Seen It Movie Review: Les Miserables [Video] Mon, 24 Dec 2012 05:55:22 +0000 After breaking parole, Jean Valjean is tracked by the ruthless policeman Javert. Valjean finds redemption in his love and care of the child Cosette. But Javert continues his unrelenting hunt for Valjean. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. Directed by Tom Hooper. Written by Claude-Michel Schonberg (book), Alain Boublil (book), and Victor Hugo (novel). Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh. Genre: Period Piece Musical. Sean, Liz and Rachel want to sing their reviews (well, at least Sean does) but fortunately, they just talk about the movie instead. Enjoy! Starring Liz Manashil, Rachel Appelbaum and Sean Wright. Directed by Matt Breault. Edited by Stephen Krystek. Sound Design by Aaron Fink and Nick Isaacs. Produced by David Freedman(@ShowRunnerDave), Cooper Griggs, Aaron Fink(@AaronEvanFink) and Pedro Raposo. Watch us every Saturday at 6PM Pacific on PBS OC or at!

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Nominations For the 70th Annual Golden Globes – Movies Thu, 13 Dec 2012 15:19:08 +0000 The nominations for the 2013 Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Checking my own predictions to the nominees that were revealed I finished with getting two-thirds of them right. Though some of the nominees were oversights on my part. (How could I leave John Hawkes off the list – stupid me!) I didn’t count on the Hollywood Foreign Press embracing the likes of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and recognizing the writing and directing acumen of Quentin Tarantino.

The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards will air live on NBC on Sunday, January 13, and will be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Warner Bros. Pictures, GK Films, Smokehouse Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures
The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures; The Weinstein Company/Sony Pictures Releasing
Fox 2000 Pictures; Twentieth Century Fox
DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox; Touchstone Pictures
Columbia Pictures and Annapurna Pictures; Sony Pictures Releasing



Blueprint Pictures/Participant Media; Fox Searchlight Pictures
Universal Pictures, A Working Title Films/Cameron Mackintosh Productions; Universal Pictures
Indian Paintbrush; Focus Features
CBS Films; CBS Films
The Weinstein Company; The Weinstein Company



Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios; Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures; Walt Disney Pictures
Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation; Sony Pictures Releasing
DreamWorks Animation LLC; Paramount Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios; Walt Disney Pictures

Les Films Du Losange, X Filme Creative Pool, Wega Film; Sony Pictures Classics
A ROYAL AFFAIR (DENMARK) (En kongelig affære)
Zentropa Entertainment; Magnolia Pictures
The Weinsten Company, Quad Productions, Gaumont, TF1 Films Production, Ten Films, Chaocorp; The Weinstein Company
Nordisk Film Production, Recorded Picture Company
RUST AND BONE (FRANCE) (De rouille et d’os)
Page 114, Why Not Productions; Sony Pictures Classics






Music by: Monty Powell, Keith Urban Lyrics by: Monty Powell, Keith Urban
Music by: Jon Bon Jovi Lyrics by: Jon Bon Jovi
Music by: Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, T Bone Burnett Lyrics by: Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, T Bone Burnett
Music by: Adele, Paul Epworth Lyrics by: Adele, Paul Epworth
Music by: Claude-Michel Schonberg Lyrics by: Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg×120.jpg

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Five New Clips From Les Miserables Released – Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway All Sing! Mon, 03 Dec 2012 14:00:31 +0000 Collider has gotten their hands on five new clips from Les Miserables.

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Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway Front And Center In Les Miserables International Poster Tue, 27 Nov 2012 09:00:41 +0000 A new international poster for Les Miserables has been released.×120.jpg

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