One of the weaker areas for Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" in the eyes of some is its story and screenplay. They cavalierly dismiss it as a ride without thematic substance, though of course they're dead wrong. It's a movie about — as Cuarón has breathlessly said since the beginning — adversity, yes, but also grief and, as cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki noted to me recently, how small we are despite our great personal drama (to steal an idea from Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life").
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It may seem odd, when talking about a director only two films into his career, to describe "The Invisible Woman" as "a very Ralph Fiennes film." By his own admission, the twice Oscar-nominated actor has yet to forge a recurring directorial stamp; both his films exude the confident curiosity of an artist open to any number of ideas and influences.
Yet if the restrained elegancy and disciplined sexuality of "The Invisible Woman" -- a delicate, melancholic costume drama about Nelly Ternan, the historically sidelined mistress of Charles Dickens -- seems natural coming from Fiennes, that's largely because they match his refined, precise qualities as an actor. Those, too, are on display in the film: Fiennes plays Dickens to Felicity Jones's Ternan, and the two have a quiet but urgent chemistry that makes for one of the year's most unexpectedly moving screen romances. Though adapted by Emmy-winning screenwriter Abi Morgan ("The Hour," "The Iron Lady") from a 1991 biography by Claire Tomalin, the relationship at the film's center is still far from common knowledge; Fiennes's film illuminates it with considerable grace.
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Happy holidays, Firewall & Iceberg fans! We didn't want to guarantee a Worst Of podcast, just in case there was not time to get it done before year's end, but it turns out that there was time! So Dan and I sat down for an hour and went back and forth on some of the worst and/or most disappointing television we watched in 2013. Lots and lots of Angry Dan in this one! Enjoy, and travel safe, everybody! The rundown:
TV's Worst of 2013 - 00:00:00 - 01:04:30
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You know what's fun? Letting an entire television network guess how old you are! But, before we get to that, watch this promo (and, better, the behind-the-scenes explanation for how they did some of it as well as another promo at the bottom of the page) for "Brain Games," which returns for its second season next month (Mon. Jan. 13 at 9:00 p.m. on Nat Geo). Here's an exclusive look. Oh, and give yourself 15 seconds to make as many words as you can from the letters in "pay attention" so Nat Geo can guess your age range. You have your homework! Go, go!
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.
It was business as usual in the Vancouver Film Critics Circle's announcement of nominees this morning, as Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" led the way with six notices. Bradley Cooper got a bid for his supporting "American Hustle" performance and Greta Gerwig showed up in Best Actress for her work in "Frances Ha." Matt Johnson's "The Dirties" led the field of Canadian film nominees. Check out the full list below and remember to keep track of it all at The Circuit.
Nick Nolte joins Fox's "Broadchurch" remake
On "Gracepoint," he'll play the series regular role of Jack Reinhold, " a stubborn, unmarried, willful man" who has lived in Gracepoint for 20 years.
Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars" trailer features Tina Fey, Jay Leno, Howard Stern, Louis CK
The "Back to the Future" car, Patton Oswalt and Todd Barry will also be part of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" Season 3, which debuts on Jan. 2.
"SNL" scores its best ratings in nearly 2 years thanks to Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake
This was also "Saturday Night Live's" highest-rated Christmas episode since 2004. PLUS: Jimmy Fallon's episode was just about perfect, and Seth Meyers turns 40 this week.
Did E! "digitally elongate" Britney Spears to make her look thinner?
The "I Am Britney Jean" documentary that aired last night, according to Gawker, aired with its "picture slightly elongated, which is weird (Britney's not even going through an overweight period) and at odds with the entire concept of documentary filmmaking."
Billy Joel joins Ryan Seacrest's "New Year's Rockin' Eve"
He'll perform after the ball drops.
"Sons of Anarchy" gets gingerbread cookie makeover
Check out "Crumbs of Anarchy."
Phil Robertson defends his anti-gay comments
During a bible study session on Sunday, the "Duck Dynasty" star said: "I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it. Whether I said it, or they read it, what’s the difference? The sins are the same, humans haven't changed." PLUS: Cracker Barrel restores "Duck" merchandise after backlash, and Charlie Sheen continues tweeting his anti-Robertson rant..
Watch "Orphan Black's" Season 2 trailer
"I'm part of a sisterhood like no other."
The Weather Channel plans mass coverage of the Super Bowl -- it's "The Weather Bowl"
More than 200 people will work on coverage of the Big Game, which may be in snowy conditions.
HBO releases another "Girls" trailer
"These are not just for me."
Nigella Lawson to be investigated by police over her cocaine admission
Scotland Yard is set to review her recent testimony.
"Glee's" Dot-Marie Jones marries her longtime girlfriend
Jones and Bridgett Casteen exchanged vows on Saturday.
TV Ratings: Eagles-Bears game leads Sunday, while ABC's 'Sound of Music' can't match Carrie Underwood
If we've spent the last few weeks reviewing the best in entertainment, we now inevitably turn to the worst. 2013 was not a godawful year for bad movies, but Hollywood absolutely had its share of clunkers and misfires. A number were part of a larger trend ("Grown Ups 2"), some were big disappointments ("The Lone Ranger") and more than a few were still big hits ("Identity Thief").
You can watch a very entertaining video countdown of our top 10 worst films embedded at the top of this post or enjoy the 25 worst of the year in the story gallery below.
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
With a massive wave of precursor announcements behind us, a consensus — that may or may not match the Academy's ultimate perspective on the year — has formed: "12 Years a Slave," Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong'o. That's obviously profoundly "12 Years"-heavy, and the film has managed the most adapted screenplay wins so far, too. But we'll have to see if that's how it plays out on March 2.
We've defended the consistent updating of The Circuit already, but to reiterate, consensus matters. In the various regional assessments, you begin to see what is the most generally agreeable choice, notable in a system like the Academy's that uses preferential balloting. And McQueen's landmark drama could absolutely qualify at the end of the season. But frankly, it could be that a film that takes the edge off finds more traction, and while once upon a time I surmised that it might be Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," it could actually be that David O. Russell's "American Hustle" is the broad play to beat.
SPC looks to keep 'Before Midnight's' awards hopes alive with New York and Santa Barbara trilogy showcases
Sony Pictures Classics is putting together a nice push in the lead-up to Oscar nominations on behalf of "Before Midnight" by spotlighting the film's place in a trilogy of films that mark a true landmark progression for the medium. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke seem like good bets for Best Adapted Screenplay recognition, but with the placement the film is receiving on year-end top 10 lists and superlatives announcements, it has a strong foothold to register in other categories, too, perhaps even Best Picture.