The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) has named its nominees for the organization’s 29th Annual Outstanding Achievement Awards. HBO is the top network contender with three nominations, while Fox and Lifetime each earning two.
As awards contenders rise and fall in the last-minute deluge of film premieres and screenings that is November, one movie that continues to stick with this particular writer is J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year." Sure, that seems silly considering the picture only debuted two weeks ago, but context is everything. We'll spare the names of the three other contenders I've seen since, that I need to remind myself I've actually seen. That's how impressive Chandor's period thriller is.
Patrick Radden Keefe's New Yorker story "The Hunt for El Chapo" is a terrifying, bizarre, and occasionally funny look at modern drug trafficking. Delving into the lavish world of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, Keefe finds a quirky character pulling strings for a murderous bunch who love their Instagram. The DEA manhunt for Loera, that ended this past February, lasted a decade. The best kingpins can live a life of luxury and still avert paramilitary. Loera was the best of the best. Those are the types that get movies made about their lives.
Before Steve McQueen directed features like "Hunger," "Shame," and the Best Picture-winning "12 Years a Slave," he was a video artist whose work appeared in museums and galleries. "End Credits" was one such work, an audio/video installation projecting pages of the FBI’s McCarthy-era investigation of actor-activist Paul Robeson while a voiceover reads the reports’ cringe-worthy details aloud. McQueen’s topical explorations took experimental shape, many fascinations that first popped up in visual art have crept into his big screen work. According to the director, "End Credits" will undergo the same evolution — McQueen has announced that he’ll direct a feature film based on Robeson’s life.
For the first time in probably, well, ever, the Best Director category has a real shot at featuring two female nominees. It goes without saying how much that would mean, but it's early days and let's not get ahead of ourselves, all of that.
A successful, vibrant career as a character doesn’t always translate to awards. Take J.K. Simmons, who hasn’t received many accolades over his 20-plus year career, while being one of the most reliably energized performers working today. He’s appeared in multiple films for the Coen Brothers, Jason Reitman, Woody Allen, and anchored Sam Raimi’s "Spider-Man" trilogy. He’s no stranger to television, where he’s done everything HBO’s "OZ" to recent sitcom "Growing Up Fisher" to Nickelodeon’s "Legend of Korra." He’s even validated video games with his talent, voicing characters in "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3" and "Portal 2."
Casting Simmons in "Whiplash," as the vicious jazz band instructor Fletcher, was as much a gift to director Damien Chazelle and his fans as it likely was to the hard-working thespian. When handed a meaty role, Simmons sinks his teeth in as deep as they go.
"Dude, you know the movie 'Foxcatcher'?"
"Yeah, I know Foxcatcher. We saw it yesterday."
"OK, you know how there weren’t any real foxes in it?"
"Yeah, Steve Carell’s farm was called 'Foxcatcher.'"
"Right, but what if there were?"
"What if there were what?"
"What if there were foxes."
"What if Foxcatcher had foxes in it?"
"Yeah, or… if Foxcatcher were about foxes."
"'Foxcatcher' starring foxes?"
"And a foxcatcher."
"That’s stu—…get me to the Internet."
And that, friends, is how YouTube comedy videos are born.
Rare: Movie musicals. Very rare: Original movie musicals. Basically non-existent: Original, live-action movie musicals. What was once the bread and butter of Hollywood’s studio system is basically the ambler-encased mosquito in "Jurassic Park." If anyone could revive that dino DNA into a brand new behemoth, it’s Hugh Jackman. He’ll do just that next summer, when he begins shooting the long-gestating "Greatest Showman on Earth."
It was an emotional rollercoaster for Angelina Jolie at the world premiere of her new film "Unbroken." The actress and husband Brad Pitt made their first public appearance together as a married couple at the splashy Sydney event, where Jolie's second narrative feature — about U.S. Olympic track star and WWII hero Louis Zamperini — reportedly drew gasps from the audience during one particularly brutal moment. The film depicts Zamperini's (played by "300: Rise of an Empire" star Jack O'Connell) struggle to survive in several Japanese P.O.W. camps, where he was imprisoned and systematically tortured after surviving for 47 days at sea following a plane crash.
Does Robert De Niro feel indebted to David O. Russell? His Best Supporting Actor nomination for 2012’s "Silver Linings Playbook" came 20 years after his last flirtation with the Academy, a Best Actor nod for 1991’s "Cape Fear." Many suspected that De Niro was done giving the all that earned him statues for "Raging Bull" and "The Godfather: Part II." Movies like "Little Fockers," "New Year's Eve" and "Righteous Kill" paid the bills — why chase awards fodder? And then "Silver Linings Playbook" came along, throwing the pessimistic theory out the window. De Niro kept a good thing going, reuniting with Russell for a bit part in "American Hustle," making him part of the director’s regular roster. From the sound of it, the working relationship isn’t slowing down: From De Niro’s mouth, he will costar in the director’s next project.