The Vancouver critics have just joined the party, always offering an interesting assortment of nominations given their practice of splitting off a whole separate section for Canadian films. "Birdman" led the way in the international list, while Xavier Dolan's "Mommy" led the way in the Canadian section (which will probably be cold comfort after his film was unceremoniously snubbed by the Academy's foreign film committee).
The Southeastern Film Critics Association have added to the year-end discussion, becoming the second group to hand top honors to Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel." The film won the Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Ensemble prizes. Ava DuVernay's "Selma," meanwhile, won the Gene Wyatt Award, given to a film that best evokes the spirit of the South (while a personal favorite, "Cold in July," came in second place there).
Brad Pitt uses his power for good. The A-lister could easily hang his hat on a cavalcade of franchise films and call it a day. Instead, he throws himself on the occasional blockbuster sword (see: Troy" or "World War Z") for the cred to make movies that strive for something beyond pure entertainment. His Plan B Entertainment, run by Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner, has produced a number of highly acclaimed films over the years, including "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "The Tree of Life," "Moneyball," the Best Picture-winning "12 Years a Slave," HBO's "The Normal Heart" and next year's "True Story." This December will see the release of Plan B's "Selma," which prompted the PGA to pay its respects to Pitt’s company in the form of the organization’s Visionary Award.
It seemed this year that if any artist was due for the retrospective treatment, it was "Unbroken" cinematographer Roger Deakins. While I of course did not address all of the 50-plus films he has shot throughout his illustrious career during a recent extended interview, I settled on a few in particular that I think represent a nice cross-section of his work. Each of them — "Nineteen Eighty-Four," "Sid and Nancy," "Barton Fink," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Kundun," "A Beautiful Mind," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "The Village" — will get their own space in the next few days.
HOLLYWOOD — We've already caught up with Jack O'Connell once this year, but it's perfectly fitting to revisit the well here. He is, after all, having a truly breakout moment, one that actually seems more stretched across three years than bunched up into 2014.
Over the past few weeks we've celebrated the best movies of 2014 and now, inevitably, it's time to celebrate the worst. The HitFix staff has chosen 25 films that disappointed, frustrated and often found us wanting to run from the theater screaming in disbelief. And while many of the selections are from the Hollywood studio factory, a surprising number are not.
Sam Taylor-Johnson’s "Fifty Shades of Grey" will arrive to theaters in February 2015 with a handicap. Even if it’s artfully crafted, sensual and romantic, and joins "Basic Instinct," "Eyes Wide Shut," "Body Double," "Little Children," "9 1/2 Weeks" in the pantheon of Hollywood kink, it’ll still carry a burden: E.L. James’ e-book source material. "Fifty Shades" that swept a nation and embarrassed the lit-savvy. The book has an audience, selling over 100 million copies since its 2011 release. But it’s also the butt of many a joke; When rumors leaked that Emma Watson was up for the film adaptation’s lead role, Anastasia Steele, she tweeted "'Who here actually thinks I would do 50 Shades of Grey as a movie? Like really. For real. In real life.'" Salman Rushdie thought "Fifty Shades" made "'Twilight' look like 'War and Peace.'"
With 2014 winding down, HitFix has been dabbling in all corners of the "year-in-review" game. Hopefully you've enjoyed the trip down recent memory lane. Now it's time for a thorough assessment of the year in film performances, and for a 12-month stretch marked in some quarters as "weak," there sure was a lot of stand-out work in front of the camera.
We haven't done one of these in a while, as the Oscar season has continued to take hold and staggered releases have made it a little difficult to suss out just how available some of these films might be to a wider audience. But obviously "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" has been blasted out globally, and I imagine there are some opinions on it locked and loaded.