It's only the last week of October, but conversations are already starting about year end top 10 lists around the HitFix offices. Looking back over the past 10 months there are a number of films that are worthy of consideration. Some more obvious than others. One film that probably won't make a number of lists, but probably needs to be seen again because it's too good to ignore, is Anton Corbijn's "A Most Wanted Man."
Last year's "Alone Yet Not Alone" shenanigans were a nice reminder that the Academy's Music Branch can certainly march to its own drum (no pun intended), for better or worse. So you never can tell how the Best Original Song Oscar race will turn out, and the highest of profiles isn't necessarily a guaranteed pass. Nevertheless, this year's race — already marked by contenders from popular music such as New Radicals' Gregg Alexander ("Begin Again") and the legendary Patti Smith ("Noah") — has just picked up a trio of heavy hitters.
With early, festival-driven campaigns already ramping up (see: Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”) and sleeper candidates generating buzz (major question marks like Amy Adams in “Big Eyes”), the 2015 Best Actress race is tightening up. Is there room for surprises? Jennifer Aniston hopes so.
Fresh off his bloody beating in Keanu Reeves’ gun-fu action movie “John Wick,” Deadline announced that Mikael Nyqvist has joined the cast of Florian Gallenberger's directorial debut “Colonia.” With the announcement comes the first still to make its way off the active set, a rather creepy glimpse at Emma Watson’s next role. Breathe, “Harry Potter” Tumblr contingent! It’s just a movie.
Paul Greengrass is like the Ricky Jay of Hollywood directors. Every few months, the “Captain Phillips” filmmaker becomes attached to a new project, the likelihood of it actually happening a complete unknown, but fascinating nonetheless. Maybe it’s a Martin Luther King biopic. Or an adaptation of “Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda.” Or a crime picture with George Clooney. Or Aaron Sorkin’s long-gestating “The Trial Of The Chicago 7.” Or even a triumphant return to the “Bourne” franchise! When Greengrass eventually makes a movie, it can come out of nowhere. He (or his agent) is the master of industry illusions.
Observing Christopher Nolan move further and further into macro territory with larger and larger canvases that couldn't be more removed from the imposed modesty of his debut, "Following," one thing has become increasingly clear: he's a master of the big picture (as in the greater takeaway from a project, not scale and scope — though that's obviously applicable, too). This has never been more the case than with "Interstellar."
BEVERLY HILLS — Four years ago, when he was in the thick of an "Inception" Oscar campaign, I couldn't help but ask Christopher Nolan if he had any desire to go back to more modest filmmaking, smaller films akin to "Memento," which debuted at Slamdance in 1999. "It depends on the story, really," he said, unsurprisingly. "I tend to think that if you have the chance to do a big film, you should do it while you can. I’m always worried maybe I won’t be able to do a big film again."
I'd say we've pretty much covered it around here as it pertains to "Birdman." Interviews with Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis & Amy Ryan, etc. I've banged the gong for Keaton this season (I have a favorite, sue me) and the Academy seemed receptive enough. We've even gone deep on the costuming of it and the creation of the iconic Birdman superhero suit. The movie is out there in the world now, though, dealing in the court of public opinion.
BEVERLY HILLS — Gregg Alexander is enamored by movies. He grew up in a conservative household where television was "Satan's tool," but he'd sneak off to friends' houses to watch theirs instead. He talks passionately about filmmakers like the Coen brothers, Michael Haneke and Mike Leigh and seems eager to be a part of an industry he finds incredibly efficient. So it's perfectly fitting that he would eventually make his way there via a collaboration on John Carney's "Begin Again," and maybe even more understanding that after 15 years of being relatively reclusive away from touring and the media, he's finally speaking out again in support of the film and his work on tracks like "Lost Stars," which is primed for a Best Original Song Oscar nomination.
BEVERLY HILLS — When you see "Interstellar," you'll get the sense right away that a deep admiration for exploration lies at the root of it all. Amid all of that epic imagery (and equally epic familial drama), there is a seething indictment of our general abandonment of space programs. At a press conference Friday afternoon, filmmaker Christopher Nolan and three of the film's stars spoke about their early experiences with space travel and the value of keeping NASA funded while continuing to push for the outer limits.