I like "American Hustle" and don't have much to add past what I said in the first SAG screening report. A NYFCC Best Film prize feels excessive, but it's a crowd-pleaser. And it could do as well with the Academy, but I'll get into that in Monday's Oscar column. The SAG ensemble nomination has some pretty stellar performances across the board and it seems the kind of thing where everyone will have their favorites (mine are Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence). But I'll be interested to hear how it lands with the readership, so whenever you get around to the film, do let us know your feelings in the comments section below and feel free to vote in our poll.
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After recognition from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and, most importantly, the Screen Actors Guild, "August: Osage County" star Julia Roberts seems primed for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination next month. As Barbara Weston, daughter of matriarch Violet (and a role originated by Tony-nominated actress Amy Morton), Roberts holds her own on screen opposite the steaming locomotive that is Meryl Streep.
Isn't cute that Cynthia has to explain to Mynique how to talk like a gay man? When all the girls howl after she cluelessly bats her eyes and says, "I don't feel red," it's a little bit like watching a new exchange student try to order lunch or the first act of "Bambi." It's not enough that Mynique has no idea how to act like an African-American woman among women; the real issue is that she isn't apparently smart enough to sit back and let the beautiful car wreck that is "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" wash over her until she has enough ammunition to jump into the fray. No, she charges in, empty guns firing away at nothing -- right up until she gets shot down.
It is easy for casual audiences to make a surface connection between something like "Good Fellas" and "Casino" and "Wolf Of Wall Street" because of the overt connections between those worlds, the decadence and the crime and the excess. What people miss in those comparisons, though, is that Scorsese has made other versions of that same basic film, these dense social x-rays of the way communities work, in films as disparate as "Kundun" and "Age Of Innocence" as well. He is one of the keenest observers of the way systems function we have ever had in cinema, and "Wolf Of Wall Street" is a powerful reminder that at the age of 71, he is as vital and as ferocious a voice as ever.
It is, of course, inaccurate to say that "Wolf Of Wall Street" is "about" the financial crisis that America recently suffered. I'm not sure what a film "about" that would look like. It's such a broad topic that I don't really see how you could make any film that would encompass every angle of that story. Instead, using Jordan Belfort's book about himself, Scorsese does his best to show us exactly who it was who helped perpetuate the system that burned so many people, and the end result is a depraved, hallucinatory plunge into a truly ugly psyche. Scorsese's real gift when making one of these movies is showing us the small details of how things work, and one of the most interesting things about "Wolf" is how often Jordan Belfort starts to explain something, only to stop because he is convinced there's no way the audience is smart enough or interested enough to understand. That's what he says, anyway, but I think the real reason is because a good con man, like a good magician, never really gives away the trick. Belfort is a natural-born manipulator and liar, and anyone who believes that this is the "true" story of Belfort's rise and fall simply isn't paying attention.
A review of tonight's "Tremé" coming up just as soon as I open a Young Republicans club...
If you hire Vin Diesel, you might as well just get comfortable with the idea that he's going to share things on his Facebook page, and he's going to do it on his timetable. He likes to share. He shares a lot. And at this point, he's worth quoting as a source because whether his information is "officially" confirmed or not, it is eventually revealed as correct.
Good example: how long now has Vin been teasing the idea that he's contributing the voice of Groot? And now, Marvel has officially confirmed that he'll be playing the character, contributing some motion capture as well. The other big project he's got brewing, made only bigger by the unfortunate recent accidental death of co-star Paul Walker, is "Fast and Furious 7," and there has been much conversation for the last few weeks about the film's release date.
Originally set for July 11, 2014, the film shut down production so that everyone involved could deal with the impact of Walker's death. These weren't just films that paid lip service to the notion of family, but were actually made by a group of tight-knit people who had gone through so much together, and it must be incredibly difficult for them to have conversations about how to proceed finishing the movie.
It seems a long time ago that many breathless journos in Telluride and Toronto were predicting one film to rule them all when it came to year-end accolades: "12 Years a Slave," we were told, was such a cast-iron critical phenomenon that every other film would have to consider itself unlucky to be released in its shadow. As we now know, things didn't quite pan out that way: Steve McQueen's formidable historical drama may have gobbled up an enviable amount of awards on the US critical circuit thus far, and is poised for a leading haul of Oscar nods, but the year-end discussion of the year's best films has, happily, been far more malleable and wide-ranging than initially predicted.
I held off on this one until the film made its way out into wider release, which it did on Friday. I'm very eager to know what readers think of the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," which was my #3 film of the year and just a rich experience that delivers more and more upon subsequent viewings. The work from T Bone Burnett on the soundtrack, curating a spectacular, thematically relevant assortment of period songs and then producing gorgeous new renditions is the kind of thing that deserves its own category. And Oscar Isaac delivers the year's best performance, one I delighted in mulling over in my lengthy interview with the actor. I could really go on, but again, I want to know what you all thought, so when you get around to seeing the film, tell us what you thought in the comments section below and vote in our poll. (Also, if you happened to catch the "Another Day, Another Time" concert documentary on the film, which T Bone Burnett discussed with us here, tell us what you thought of that, too.)
Lots of drama -- certainly in the pages of LA Weekly -- met the release of "Saving Mr. Banks," though certainly the studio ought to have known it was coming. A whitewashing of history? A self-glorification that avoids the nuance? Yeah, that's all in there. It's a Disney product romanticizing a Disney product. What's to be expected? I found the film charming and Emma Thompson to be wonderful but it's really just cotton candy for me this season. And it's now in theaters for your judgment, so if you've gotten around to it, tell us your thoughts in the comments section and feel free to vote in our poll.
Talking with Thelma Schoonmaker recently, it became quickly apparent that I wasn't even going to scratch the surface of her career's work with Martin Scorsese in a single piece. I couldn't help but play the retrospective game with her, and while I of course didn't address all 19 feature collaborations, I was curious about six films in particular that I think represent a nice cross-section of their work together. Each of them — "Who's That Knocking At My Door," "Raging Bull," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "Goodfellas," "Bringing Out the Dead" and "The Departed" — will get its own space in the next few days.
This holiday season brings with it all the debauchery, crookedness, triumph and tragedy of Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." And all of those characteristics and more are exemplified by Leonardo DiCaprio's full-bodied, committed performance as conniving scumbag Jordan Belfort, the latest in a long line of impressive big screen portrayals from the actor.
Justin Timberlake unleashes his Jimmy Fallon impression on "SNL," cracking up Fallon
Watch Fallon lose it in a "Family Feud" sketch. PLUS: Madonna and the real Barry Gibb came on "The Barry Gibb Talk Show," Paul McCartney sang a duet with Fallon, the women of "SNL" sing "(Do it On My) Twin Bed," and go backstage with Fallon.
Drake will be "SNL's" 1st host and musical guest of 2014
The rapper will pull double-duty on Jan. 18.
Charlie Sheen slams "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson in Twitter rant
"hey Mallard brained ... Phil Robertso! ...you have offended and hurt so many dear friends of mine..." PLUS: Cracker Barrel pulls some "offensive" "Duck" products, and the Hunt Channel wants to take "Duck Dynasty" from A&E.