For this edition of the Contender Countdown we're going to approach the race for a Best Picture nomination a little differently. Now that every major contender has opened in at least limited release outside of "A Most Violent Year," we can finally review how the nation's critics have judge them on a broader, consensus basis. As Nate Silver may have realized when he tried to predict Oscar, you can't count on statistics with so many factors in play, but if presented comparably it might make you rethink the possibilities. To make this investigation work we'll use both the Rotten Tomatoes percentage score and the Metacritic grade to illuminate some very interesting data-driven discoveries.
No, it wasn't a good year at the box office for Hollywood's movie studios, but it was frankly a worse year for theater owners. 2014 will have the lowest gross total since 2008 and the fewest tickets sold since 1995. Granted, its still going to be the sixth straight year of $10 billion in grosses so the sky isn't really falling like many in the media were claiming earlier in the year, but it's not great. The good news for the studios is that unlike in 2013 they loss less money on their bombs. For example, this year's Johnny Depp bomb, "Transcendence," lost significantly less than last year's Johnny Depp bomb, "The Lone Ranger" (Thanks Johnny!).
In case you missed it, Madonna pulled off a holiday surprise late Friday night and released six new singles from her upcoming album "Rebel Heart." This was in response to the entire album being leaked by hackers on Wednesday, Dec. 17. And, earlier in December, three other unfinished tracks found their way onto the net. In truth, those were unfinished demo tracks, but it forced Madonna and her label into action in what can only be described as a "partial Beyonce." No, the entire album with accompanying music videos wasn't released out of the blue, but six "finished" tracks were and, in some corners, the internet exploded.
Don't call it a comeback, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" has been here since, um, March.
A top 10 list is a such a subjective quandary. It should speak to the consensus of cinematic quality to a degree, but it also needs to reflect the films that moved you personally. A great piece of cinema can entertain and it can inform, but as art you need to feel something from it. It needs to haunt you. It needs to stick with you. Therefore, in theory, the list should be the films that immediately come to mind when you ponder the last 12 months. As a critic, it's a reflection of your taste at the time. There is no justification; it's an opinion. Simple as that.
Kristen Wiig is taking the road less traveled, and after a bumpy start, it's starting to show signs of life.
HOLLYWOOD — Friday's announcement that Angelina Jolie would not appear at the Los Angeles premiere of "Unbroken" because she's currently suffering from a rare bout of chicken pox was met with skepticism by some, but after attending the event Monday night, we believe it. No matter what happened last week after Jolie found herself unwittingly in the crosshairs of the Sony hacking scandal, she would have wanted to be at the Dolby Theater for this.
LONDON — Can you believe "The Hobbit" is coming to an end? Sure, there's a very valid argument the big screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's first Middle Earth novel didn't need to be three movies, but still. This is a project that has been on movie fans' radars for over seven years and it's finally (we think), finally coming to an end.
The Sundance Film Festival announced the addition of 10 new titles to its 2015 program, which features 123 feature-length films and represents 29 countries. The two additions to the premiere category, "True Story" and "A Walk in the Woods," appear to have increased the festival's already potent acquisition market and star power.
Ever since she went head-to-head with Kirsten Dunst in "Bring It On," we've been waiting for Gabrielle Union to have her moment. She's shown glimpses of what a great actress she is, but she hasn't really found the role that could take her to the next level. Union's impressive play on a TV reality queen in Chris Rock's "Top Five" is just another welcome tease on how talented she really is.