Who are the 'ghost whisperers' of European film sets?
If you happened to head to the local multiplex on Sunday there's a good chance the movie you ended up seeing was "War Horse." Before the holiday, Steven Spielberg's 2 hour and 26 minute epic was projected to have a good, but not great debut. Instead, "War Horse" burst onto the scene with $7.5 million in just 2,600 theaters, almost double what pre-release polling indicated. And, its per-screen average was barely behind that of "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" which played in over 1,000 more theaters and had the added benefit of higher IMAX ticket prices. DreamWorks and Disney kept Monday's estimate much more conservative than its competitors, but a $15 million plus cume over two days is a stellar launch for the Oscar player.
Fassbender, 'Game of Thrones,' '30 Rock,' Adele and...Britney
I already ranked my top 10 films of the year last week, but taking a page from In Contention's own Kris Tapley I've decided to post my own picks in some of the major award season categories. Just for fun, I've also included some of my "best of the year" picks for TV and music as well. Granted, music is the most subjective these days, so if it makes you feel better consider my Top Singles of 2011 a "favorites" list.
And again, thanks to Mr. Tapley for letting me poach his idea.
Comments are included where it was deemed necessary.
Which franchise surprisingly made the list?
Aren't you glad that's over? Yes, 2011 was clearly one of the more mediocre and likely unmemorable years in cinema in quite awhile. Sure, there were some amazing films released over the last 12 months, but it was much easier picking the top five pictures on my year end list than the second five. It was just one of those years.
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2012 promises to be an eventful year in animation
No best animated feature nominee this year New York Film Critics Circle? Well, we beg to differ, but something tells us 2012 might suit your peculiar tastes a bit more. Not only is Pixar returning with "Brave," but LAIKA is back with their first feature since "Coraline," "ParaNorman." DreamWorks also has "Rise of the Guardians" based on William Joyce's acclaimed "The Guardians of Childhood" novels, Disney Animated Studios has "Wreck-It-Ralph," Aardman returns to stop-motion with ""THe Pirates! Basednd of Misfits" and Universal brings "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" to life. One of the most anticipated new animated films, however, has to be Tim Burton's long awaited feature length version of "Frankenweenie."
DreamWorks Oscar contender hits SoHo House
2011 has been the year of Ryan Gosling and Jessica Chastain, but the latter hasn't really been around much to enjoy it. I spoke to "The Help," "Tree of Life," "Coriolanus," "The Debt," "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields" actress Wednesday evening at a relaxed and holiday cocktail party DreamWorks held at SoHo House Los Angeles to celebrate "The Help."
Universal puts serious money in TV spots for a best picture nod
Do you remember way back in September when "Bridesmaids" star Melissa McCarthy stunned TV fans with her Emmy win in the best actress in a comedy series category? At the time the scuttlebutt was whether the industry love for McCarthy's breakout role in one of the biggest hits of the summer count translate into a legitimate Oscar campaign for best supporting actress. Oh, how times have changed.
Was I awake enough to ask coherent questions?
After a long and very busy Golden Globes morning last Tuesday, this pundit collapsed into a well deserved nap. Being an entertainment writer/journalist/critic/commentator is a fantastic job, but the back to back days you have to get up at 5 AM to hear both SAG and Globe nominations are arguably the toughest of the year. An hour later, I groggily woke up and stared at the 40 new E-mails that somehow found their way into my inbox. Just two minutes later the phone rang. Smartly, I answered the unknown number and heard, "Greg? This is Albert Brooks."
Crap Ellwood. You better wake up, snap out of it and get it together.
Focus Features dates their awards players for next year
In theory, there is nothing wrong with having your film labeled "Oscar bait." Sure, it insinuates that the picture is being released or aimed at an audience interested in awards worthy films, but most of the time they usually turn out more than O.K. Some major Oscar bait movies this year were "The Descendants," "War Horse," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Ides of March" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Of course, "Carnage," "Anonymous" and "J. Edgar" had that label too. Focus Features, which has had a superb year so far with "Beginners," "Tinker," "Jane Eyre" and the upcoming "Pariah," released their 2012 schedule today and - no surprise - a number of potential contenders for the next Oscar season made the list.
One major factor kept the 'W.E.' tune out of contention
Though Madonna is clearly beloved by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - having been nominated for a total of six Golden Globes (five for Best Original Song - Motion Picture and one for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical) and won once (in the latter category for "Evita") - the venerable performer simply can't catch a break from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Case in point: "Masterpiece", the Material Girl's now-Golden Globe-nominated song contribution to her second directorial effort "W.E.", was not among the 39 tunes announced by the Academy today as eligible for next year's Best Original Song Oscar. So what gives? Was it something she said?
As it turns out, the snub isn't personal - "Masterpiece" really isn't eligible. See, in order to qualify for the category, the song in question needs to:
a) Consist of words and music, both of which are original and used specifically for the film; and
b) Be used either in the body of the film, or as the "first music cue" in the closing credits (i.e. the first song that plays once the screen fades to black).
The latter of the above two criteria appears to be the problem for "Masterpiece", which isn't featured in the context of the film itself and also happens to be the second song featured during the movie's closing crawl. (The first being a continuation of composer Abel Korzeniowski's score.)
Maybe the Oscar-obsessed Weinsteins figured the Academy would overlook the established rules when coming up with the Best Original Song eligibles - you know, because they're the Weinsteins? Or were they simply unaware of the Academy's specific requirements before sending out those "Masterpiece"-touting "W.E." screeners?
In any case, looks like poor old Madge is once again being denied the opportunity to add "Oscar nominee/winner" to her substantial list of accomplishments (particularly given that "W.E." isn't expected to pick up nods in any of the major categories), a designation that I can't imagine she isn't at least a little bit hungry for (she is Madonna, after all).
But hey, buck up kiddo; there's always next year. And just remember - the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves you no matter what.
What do you think of the Academy's Best Original Song rules? Should the eligibility requirements be loosened? Sound off with your comments below!