Covering the awards season beat means you are often lucky enough to spend some time moderating post screening Q&As with some of the most talented filmmakers and actors in the world. I've seen some amazing reactions from audiences to some great films and some incredible talent on hand. What I hadn't seen before this season was a sold out theater give a standing ovation to a star at the beginning of a Q&A and then give another standing o after the Q&A was completed. That, ladies and gentlemen, was for the one and only Julianne Moore.
The BAFTA Awards Rising Star honor is the one award the British public gets to vote on and in the nine years it's been handed out, their choices have, at times, been surprising. Well, at least to those of us on this side of the Atlantic.
As we inch closer and closer to the end of Oscar nomination voting, it's sometimes the little things we've learned over the season that stick with us the most. One nugget I always associate with James Marsh's "Theory of Everything" is how intricately the filmmaker and Eddie Redmayne had to plan out the latter's portrayal of Stephen Hawking. Ever since I sat down with Redmayne in Toronto for an extended interview, it's stuck with me. If you've read about Redmayne's breakdown of Hawking's condition scene by scene, you might think it left little room for improvisation or discovery on set. That was hardly the case.
We've been writing about Ava DuVernay's fantastic drama "Selma" since it first debuted at the AFI Film Festival on Nov. 11. While many have been able to catch the Best Picture player in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and other select cities since Christmas, the rest of the nation will finally get their chance to experience it on Friday. Paramount Pictures has provided HitFix with an exclusive clip which comes at a pivotal moment in the film.
Much has been written about what a terrible year it was for theater owners and Hollywood at the box office, but with the almost* final numbers in for 2014 it's time to give some love to the films that actually made studio executives breathe a little easier. Frankly, these hits are why the media has been floating more panic stories than anyone in the industry itself. The studios mostly got their budgets under control to avoid painful misfires like "The Lone Ranger" the previous year.
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.