There was a time, not too long ago, when the Oscars would have taken place on this past weekend. With the season having been mercifully shortened, however, it's left to Britain's Empire Awards, as voted by readers of the eponymous movie magazine, to put a bow on things -- and with Jameson as their chief sponsor, they make more of a party of it than most.
I'm not seeing "Olympus Has Fallen" until its UK press screening next week, but any blockbuster headlined by Angela Bassett and Melissa Leo as a butt-kicking action duo out to save America from all attackers has my immediate attention. What's that, you say? It's actually Gerard Butler in the lead? Well, darn. Anyway, Antoine Fuqua's latest has received predictably chilly reviews in most quarters, though I see it has its share of intelligent (though perhaps ironic) defenders in the Twitterverse.
Meanwhile, if you don't fancy seeing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue under siege this weekend, you'll have another opportunity this summer in the markedly similar-looking "White House Down." Still, if any of you have ventured out for this round of jingoistic explosions, give us your thoughts in the comments -- and feel free to vote in the poll below.
I've kept narrowly missing "The Croods" -- the latest family adventure from DreamWorks Animation had its world premiere at the Berlinale the morning after I left, while we also never quite managed to meet up at the Miami fest. The design of the whole project, I have to say, has never really drawn me in, and the reviews don't have me rushing to the multiplex. (I'm also a little wary of the studio's output right now, having recently caught up with "Rise of the Guardians" on a flight, and... yikes. Good job, Academy.)
Still, Drew found the film reasonably fetching in his B+ review, and the early box office figures suggest plenty of viewers are being diverted by the prehistoric romp this weekend. Are you among them? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and feel free to vote in the poll below.
When translating a hit stage production to the screen, it seems only right to retain at least some of the talent that made it a success in the first place – and not merely as a good-luck token. That’s a logic that frequently escapes Hollywood, as any number of Broadway ensembles replaced wholesale by bigger names can tell you.
When it came to Tony Briggs’s popular 2005 production “The Sapphires,” however, two cast members remained on board when the Australian musical comedy was translated to the big screen, though neither one in quite the same capacity. But while actress Deborah Mailman simply switched to a different role, Wayne Blair’s reassignment was rather more dramatic: he was selected to direct the film as his debut feature. In contrast to yesterday’s interviewee Chris O’Dowd, who read the script and hopped on board one month before shooting, Blair and Mailman each brought seven years of physical and emotional investment to this heartwarming, fact-based story of a female Aborginal soul quartet chasing the big time against the turmoil of the Vietnam war.
It seems further, as we're still shaking off the fatigue of the 2012 awards season, but the Cannes Film Festival is less than two months away. Slowly, this year's edition of the world's most prestigious film fest is starting to take shape: we have Steven Spielberg installed as the Competition jury president, and we know that Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" will kick off proceedings on the Croisette -- though not before it opens Stateside.
The full festival lineup usual only drops around mid-April: look out for my Top 10 gallery on Monday of the film's we're most eagerly hoping will be there. In the meantime, however, the festival unveiled this year's official festival poster -- and it's the most gorgeous one in many a year.
I can think of no more perfect visual metaphor for Chris O'Dowd's booming career these days than his own appearance at last year's Cannes Film Festival: walking the red carpet for the midnight premiere of Australian musical comedy “The Sapphires,” the 6'3'' Irish comedian looked every inch the Hollywood star in a sleekly tailored tux, his unruly mop even combed tidily into place, conforming to the code of an A-list world in which, only a few years ago, he would have been a distinct outsider. Well, almost conforming. Keen-eyed sartorialists would have spotted a flash of yellow just above his polished dress shoes: a dashing pair of bumblebee-striped socks.
O'Dowd's funky choice of hosiery seems indicative of a career in which his unlikely ascent to the top has come very much on his own terms. From modest beginnings in Irish television to his breakout role in popular UK sitcom “The I.T. Crowd” to his star-making big-screen turn as Kristen Wiig's love interest in “Bridesmaids” and beyond, the personable, handsome-but-not-Hollywood-handsome actor has attained crossover success with compromising his image, his persona or even his endearing Irish brogue.
UPDATE: As you may have heard by now, Jude Law -- himself a recent addition to the cast -- has now followed Ramsay to the exit, having signed on to work with her and not another director. After Michael Fassbender, he's the second major star to abandon the project in the last week. "Jane" may have a gun, but she can't catch a break.
PREVIOUSLY: Okay, so "Jane" is no longer a calamity. One day after gifted Scottish director Lynne Ramsay shockingly pulled out of Natalie Portman-starring Western "Jane Got a Gun" on the very first day of shooting, her replacement has already been drafted: Gavin O'Connor, the sturdy multi-hyphenate whose films include "Tumbleweeds," "Pride and Glory" and, most recently, "Warrior." With O'Connor on board, shooting will get under way tomorrow. No time to waste.
We don't normally cover small-screen fare here at In Contention, but when the show in question is the creation of Christopher Guest, exceptions should be made. Guest, whose irreverent brand of mock-doc comedy includes such films as "This is Spinal Tap" and "Best in Show," is by no means a newcomer to TV -- among many other achievements, he was on the "Saturday Night Live" team way back when, and recently directed a failed pilot for a US spin on Britain's cult political satire "The Thick of It."
Chalk this up as some instantly legendary Hollywood news. Lynne Ramsay has no-showed Natalie Portman western "Jane Got a Gun" on day one of shooting out in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As Mike Fleming writes in his exclusive report, directors leaving production is hardly unheard of, but not showing up on the very first day is a bit, uh, unique.
Okay, it's insane enough to be thinking of this year's potential Oscar contenders, but here's one gourmet prospect to chalk up for next year. Though still in pre-production, Mike Leigh's long-fostered passion project, a currently untitled biopic of eminent British painter J.M.W. Turner, has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. (If my headline had you thinking he'd remade "What's Love Got To Do With It," I'll presume you're unfamiliar with Leigh's work.)