It seems rather surprising that a biopic tackling the life of famed physicist Stephen Hawking is just now making its way to the big screen, but courtesy of director James Marsh ("Man on Wire," "Red Riding") and actor Eddie Redmayne ("My Week with Marilyn," "Les Misérables"), it's finally doing just that. And ahead of a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, Focus Features has launched the first trailer for the film.
Last week "Boyhood" producer John Sloss asked me why I thought his film could win the Best Picture Oscar this year. Of course, it's only just August, so all you have is the same thing everyone else has: instincts, observation of the lay of the land, etc. And I'm nowhere near calling it for the little engine that could. Rather, I see in it the kind of special quality that tends to light the fuse of many an Oscar winner. But there's plenty that could stand in its way between now and Feb. 22, 2015.
Then again, looking ahead at this year's potential Oscar slate, I'm not really sensing a banner year. Many of these films could end up absolute masterworks; we just don't know yet. But in the awards fray, lately I've just been thinking, "I see 'Unbroken' and then I see everything else." Angelina Jolie's upcoming POW saga about the life of the late Louis Zamperini seems to have all the bells and whistles that you'd expect of a power Oscar player (and of countless potential players that have hit a brick wall, it should be said), so like most of you, probably, I'm expecting it to clean up. But everyone is getting their narratives in order and Sony sure got a nice smooch from The New York Times over the weekend, setting David Ayer's "Fury" up as an unflinching look at the dark underbelly of heroism in World War II.
The start of production on "Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass" isn't the only Tim Burton news happening. Additionally, newly released are the first two images (below) from the Burton-directed "Big Eyes."
This weekend, Marvel finally goes cosmic as "Guardians of the Galaxy" soars into theaters across the nation. Chris Pratt is now an action star and the geeks are rejoicing. Though I guess it's now just the geeks: with a healthy Rotten Tomatoes score, "Guardians" is one of Marvel Studios' best-reviewed films to date. Will it break August box office records? It very well might.
I've been very curious about Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" since the material and the story seized him so much that he took a hiatus from "The Daily Show" to go make the movie. And now at least we know when we can expect Open Road Films to release it: Nov. 7, right in the thick of awards season.
Just yesterday I wrote about, and talked to a handful of, the many craftspeople who quite simply make the movies tick. Well, today we have lost a legend in that fray: makeup artist Dick Smith has left us.
I'm pretty sure that, unless Michael Mann's latest slides into the season vis a vis a qualifying run, "Birdman" is at the very top of my list of anticipations this Oscar season. How could it not be at this point? Michael Keaton is back in the saddle in an absolutely bold vision from Alejandro González Iñárritu. Add to that the fact that the film is apparently set up to look like one single "take," well, I'm just ready to be dazzled.
Disney has finally offered up something to tease Rob Marshall's upcoming adaptation of "Into the Woods" beyond that ubiquitous Meryl Streep still, and that's definitely the word here: "tease." By the time Johnny Depp's title card flashes on screen, all you get is the wolf's arm slithering past a tree. No music, no singing, just a handful of iconic reminders of what characters come together for this story.
As one person put it to me, "It's nice to have a trade covering, you know, the trades, because we haven't really had that in some time." Indeed, it's fantastic to see our colleagues at Variety dig in and represent the industry as they are with the newly branded "Artisans" initiative, and it's a long, long time coming. It is and has been an underreported element of the business, but I've happily seen that slowly shift in the decade we've been diligently, sometimes obsessively, covering below-the-line here at In Contention.
Biopics. They're all the rage. James Brown is about to hit theaters. Richard Pryor is stirring back to life. And now "Iron" Mike Tyson himself will be coming to the big screen, courtesy of Jamie Foxx.