Keeping things interesting across the Pacific, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts has announced nominees for the year. Leading the way with nine mentions each was the Ethan Hawke starrer "Predestination" and Russell Crowe's "Water Diviner." One of my favorite films of the year, "The Rover," was also a favorite.
Dan Gilroy’s sadistic, mesmerizing "Nightcrawler" did well during its theatrical run, making nearly $30 million at the domestic box office. Jake Gyllenhaal commanded critical attention (in our review, Drew Mcweeny declared that it may well be the best performance the actor has given in his career) and everything from Gilroy’s tight script to Robert Elswit’s hazy photography snowballed the praise. "Nightcrawler" made a splash — and now it’s going to take a second dip in the pool.
How important is the Sundance Film Festival's NEXT program? The yearly slate of edgier fare has led to critically acclaimed art house hits such as "Obvious Child," "Listen Up Phillip" and "Sound of My Voice." It also has inspired the Los Angeles-based Sundance Next Festival, which just wrapped up its second edition this past August. So while it may not have the prestige of the U.S. dramatic competition, NEXT films are something any movie lover should pay attention to.
The Sundance Institute announced the first wave of selections for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and the world cinema dramatic competition features a number of familiar faces. Most notably, Michael Fassbender in "Slow West," Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving in "Strangerland" and Jack Reynor, Toni Collette and Will Poulter in "Glassland."
The Sundance Film Institute announced the U.S. dramatic, world dramatic, U.S. documentary, world documentary and NEXT selections for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival today. The premier film festival in the United States, Sundance is coming off a banner 2014 edition that brought films earning year-end kudos such as "Whiplash," "Boyhood," "Dear White People," "Obvious Child" and "The Skeleton Twins" into the world. The 2015 slate just looks just as intriguing and, according to the festival, perhaps more emotional and challenging.
Louis Zamperini was very aware of his inspirational potential. This is not a knock at the Olympian/war veteran. He has reason to believe his story could motivate millions. In 1936, he ran himself to the Berlin Summer Olympics, he became a bombardier World War II, he survived a plane crash, and he suffered through two years as a Japanese POW. In his post-war days, Zamperini became a born again-Christian and made a living giving speeches about his harrowing war days. His mantra is tagged on to the end of a new featurette for his biopic, "Unbroken." It’s simple and absolute: "To persevere, I think, is important for everybody. Don't give up, don't give in."
"The Shawshank Redemption," "Fargo," "Kundun," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "The Man Who Wasn't There," "No Country for Old Men," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "The Reader," "True Grit," "Skyfall," "Prisoners." Surely one of those films won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, right? Nope. Roger Deakins has 11 Oscar nominations but, to date, has not been granted access to the Dolby Theater stage (or the Kodak Theater…or the Shrine Auditorium…he's a veteran of multiple Oscar venues at this point). Could that change with Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken?" Possibly.
A common refrain you hear every year during awards season is something hyperbolic along the lines of, "It's the most competitive class of [insert Oscar category] contenders ever!" You can almost predict it. One year it's Best Adapted Screenplay. Another it's Best Supporting Actor. There have even been years when the Best Cinematography nominees could have been replaced by another list of five and it would be hard to quibble. This year's embarrassment of riches? Best Actor.
The New York-based National Board of Review can often be a bit funky and fun with its Best Film pick. Movies like "Quills," for instance, have taken the cake in the past. This year, they really, really liked J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year," handing the film its top honor as well as a tied Best Actor prize with Michael Keaton for Oscar Isaac and the Best Supporting Actress award for Jessica Chastain.
Every year there is an interesting list of ineligible contenders for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards. Sometimes it's because the film's production company was not a guild signatory (though these things can often be amended retroactively, if there is a will to do so). Other times it's because the writer is not a WGA member. Whatever the case, it's their rules, and they're not that unreasonable, so no reason to get too bent out of shape about it. HitFix has obtained a copy of the official WGA ballot for this year's awards, so let's see what didn't make the cut this year…