The Brief Thrill Of The Phoenix Film Critics Nominations


Lego MovieI have to admit that, when I first looked at the just-released Phoenix Film Critics Nominations for 2014, I got really excited.  I saw The LEGO Movie listed among the nominees for best picture and I thought to myself, “Oh my God!  Could The LEGO Movie be set to be the fourth animated film to score a best picture nomination from the Academy!?”

Seriously, my inner movie trivia lover was so excited!

Then, of course, I remembered that critical recognition doesn’t necessarily translate into Oscar nominations.  And I was forced to admit that The LEGO Movie probably will not be nominated for best picture, though it definitely remains a front runner for best animated feature.

But, for a few moments there, I was truly an excited Oscar watcher.

Anyway, here are the Phoenix Film Critics Nominations!

(h/t to Awards Circuit)

BEST PICTURE/ TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

  • A Most Violent Year
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Gone Girl
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Lego Movie
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
  • David Fincher, Gone Girl
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Brendon Gleeson, Calvary
  • Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Amy Adams, Big Eyes
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Hilary Swank, The Homesman
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Logan Lerman, Fury
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J. K. Simmons, Whiplash

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
  • Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman

BEST ENSMEBLE ACTING

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Into the Woods

BEST SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR THE SCREEN

  • A Most Violent Year
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Whiplash

BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTED FROM ANOTHER MEDIUM

  • American Sniper
  • Gone Girl
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Wild

BEST LIVE ACTION FAMILY FILM

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Muppets Most Wanted

BEST ANIMATED FILM

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The Lego Movie
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2

OVERLOOKED FILM OF THE YEAR

  • Calvary
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Obvious Child
  • The Skeleton Twins
  • Snowpiercer

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Force Majeure
  • IDA
  • Mood Indigo
  • The Raid 2

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Citizenfour
  • Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune
  • Life Itself
  • Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • Everything is Awesome, The Lego Movie
  • Immortals, Big Hero 6
  • Lost Stars, Begin Again
  • Miracles, Unbroken

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Birdman
  • Gone Girl
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • The Theory of Everything

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • A Most Violent Year
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Unbroken

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Gone Girl
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Snowpiercer

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Inherent Vice
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • The Theory of Everything

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar

BEST STUNTS

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • John Wick
  • Need for Speed
  • The Raid 2

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE ON CAMERA

  • Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Jenny Slate, Obvious Child

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE BEHIND THE CAMERA

  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
  • Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
  • Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child
  • Jon Stewart, Rosewater

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH – MALE

  • Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
  • Daniel Huttlestone, Into the Woods
  • Jaeden Lieberber, St. Vincent
  • Ed Oxenbould, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A YOUTH – FEMALE

  • Lilla Crawford, Into the Woods
  • Mackenzie Foy, Interstellar
  • Sterling Jerins, And So It Goes

grand-budapest-hotel

Here are The Washington D.C. Film Critics Picks For The Best of 2014!


I like the Washington D.C. Film Critics because they don’t just give out awards.  Instead, they nominate multiple films and leave everyone in suspense until they get around to giving out their awards.  Just like the Oscars!

Anyway, here are their nominees for 2014!

WDC

Best Film:
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
Gone Girl
Selma
Whiplash

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
Ava DuVernay (Selma)
David Fincher (Gone Girl)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Best Actor:
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year)
Michael Keaton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
David Oyelowo (Selma)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Best Actress:
Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin)
Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Best Supporting Actor:
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
Edward Norton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Best Supporting Actress:
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
Laura Dern (Wild)
Emma Stone (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Best Acting Ensemble:
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Woods
Selma

Best Youth Performance:
Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood)
Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar)
Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent)
Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Noah Wiseman (The Babadook)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
Nick Hornby (Wild)

Best Original Screenplay:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie)
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Best Animated Feature:
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie

Best Documentary:
Citizenfour
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Last Days in Vietnam
Life Itself
The Overnighters

Best Foreign Language Film:
Force Majeure
Ida
Mommy
Two Days, One Night
Wild Tales

Best Art Direction:
Production Designer: Kevin Thompson, Set Decorator: George DeTitta Jr., SDSA (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Production Designer: Adam Stockhausen, Set Decorator: Anna Pinnock (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Production Designer: Nathan Crowley, Set Decorator: Gary Fettis (Interstellar)
Production Designer: Dennis Gassner, Set Decorator: Anna Pinnock (Into the Woods)
Production Designer: Ondrej Nekvasil, Set Decorator: Beatrice Brentnerova (Snowpiercer)

Best Cinematography:
Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Robert Yeoman, ASC (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Hoyte Van Hoytema, FSF, NSC (Interstellar)
Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC (Unbroken)
Daniel Landin, BSC (Under the Skin)

Best Editing:
Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione, ACE (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Sandra Adair, ACE (Boyhood)
Kirk Baxter, ACE (Gone Girl)
Lee Smith, ACE (Interstellar)
Tom Cross (Whiplash)

Best Original Score:
Antonio Sanchez (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Gone Girl)
Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything)
Mica Levi (Under the Skin)

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC:
Anita
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Kill the Messenger
Selma
X-Men: Days of Future Past

WDC2

Quick Review: Gone Girl (dir. by David Fincher)


gone-girl-posterI stumbled onto the novel for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in a mall. It sat near the front of the store with the rest of her books, emblazoned with one of those “soon to be a major motion picture” stickers and a “#1 New York Times Bestseller” label on top. I figured I try it, unaware that David Fincher was involved on the project. During that read, I ran to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square to pick up Flynn’s other books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places. After a co-worker and I finished these (I haven’t read Sharp Objects yet), we agreed that we enjoyed them, overall.

Of Gone Girl the Motion Picture, Flynn herself handles the screenwriting duties and she presents an adaptation so close to her novel that I wouldn’t be shocked if the film receives the same response as the first Harry Potter film. I only spotted 2 distinct changes, and these don’t damage the film in any way. They just may make you say..”Oh, crap, she didn’t keep that.”, If anything.

“But Lenny..” You might say, after hearing me tell you this over pizza and soda. “You’re losing me again, you’re talking too much. I never read Gone Girl. I could care less about the book, I just want to know about the movie because tickets are expensive, dammit! Wrap it up. Is it worth seeing or not?”

In a word, yes. Flynn’s story and Fincher’s direction are like Wine and Cheese here. Flynn’s machine gun writing and Fincher’s pacing method could make them as hot a duo as True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Joji Fukunaga. If actress / producer Reese Witherspoon was involved in getting these two together, she may have another gem under her belt to put next to her film Penelope.

Gone Girl is the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a happily married Missouri couple on the verge of their 5th Anniversary. When Nick suddenly discovers his wife is missing, the investigation into her disappearance seems to lead back to him, presenting the question of whether our hero may or may not be involved. Just as with the novel, the audience is given glimpses into Amy’s story through flashbacks of their life together. The movie dances from chapter to chapter (or scene to scene, I should say) in this fashion and does so pretty well. You’ve a love story wrapped in a mystery.

The casting is spot on. There’s not a single person in this film that seemed like they didn’t fit their part. Both Ben Affleck (Argo) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, The World’s End) are magnetic when theyre not dealing with each other and if the movie manages to stumble into Awards season, their names could get thrown into the hat.

The supporting cast in Gone Girl is somewhat strong. Carrie Coon does a fine job as Nick’s sister Margo, which was definitely a good choice. It’s Kim Dickens (Hollow Man, Treme), Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry who have the best screen time of any one outside of the leads. Every one of them help to pick up the story when you think it might waver a bit.

“Great!” you may say, getting up to leave. “I’ll check it out. Thanks for letting me know.”, To which I’d ask..”Don’t you want to know about the direction? Cinematography?” You might sit back down, sigh and roll your eyes, as if to say…”Sure, not like you’d let me leave without telling me anyway, right?”

At this point, everything is technical.

Fincher’s direction is straightforward. Working with Jeff Chernoweth, his cinematographer from Fight Club & The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the lighting is what you come to expect from the two. Colors in the present are muted, muddied and almost clinical. By contrast, Amy’s flashbacks appear bright and colorful, but the audience may notice this changing as the story progresses. You could almost say it’s the Zodiac color scheme layered on a different story. Gone Girl doesn’t feel like a “Fincher” movie in the way The Shining was Kubrick’s. It’s more of a Flynn story that would look really good if Fincher put it on screen. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to describe it, actually.

Gone Girl falters in the dialog at times. I had a few moments where scenes that felt fine in the novel fell flat in the film, particularly in some of the flashbacks. Have you ever had a moment where you watch a film, see two people talk to one another and say to yourself (or the person next to you), “Who says that, really?” The relationship of Nick and Amy was a hard, abbreviated sell for me, probably because of the time constraints. You know they’re together, and love is implied (and sexually displayed, I might add), but I can’t say that I recognized a big chemistry between Pike and Affleck. When acting around everyone else they’re great, but between each other, they lost me a little in the beginning. If it were a Blu Ray, I’d be tempted to tap that Chapter Forward button. Mind you, this is coming from a book to movie comparison, so a viewer that hasn’t read the book may respond differently to what’s on screen.

I will say that separately, Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are wonderful in this as Nick & Amy. I hope that this gets Pike some more lead dramatic roles, as she was more than memorable here.

Both Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross handled the scoring duties for Gone Girl. In their 3rd go around with Fincher, the sounds are similar to The Social Network, though a bit more subdued. They have a few standout tracks, and their music blends well in Gone Girl, though.

Overall, Gone Girl makes for a interesting night at the cinema, but it’s best viewed if you can manage to avoid the hype and catch it just to sate a curious mind.

Gone Girl – The 2nd Trailer


The 2nd trailer for Gone Girl was released recently. David Fincher’s and Gillian Flynn’s film adaptation of Flynn’s popular novel focuses on a writer dealing with the disappearance of his wife. While the trailer expands things a bit compared to the teaser (as any trailer would), there’s the strangest set of casting choices for this film. What I’m most excited about is Flynn handling her own screenplay. Movies are always different from books, but I’m hoping it works out. One fills in the blanks as they go through the story, and I read this before finding out anything concrete about the film. Additionally, I’m also curious about what Trent Reznor  and Atticus Ross are doing for the soundtrack, which also comes out around the same time.

Gone Girl premieres in cinemas on October 3rd.

Lisa’s Way Too Early Oscar Predictions For May


Whiplash

Whiplash

Of course, it’s way too early for me or anyone else to try to predict who and what will be nominated for an Academy Award in 2015.  However, that’s not stopping me from trying to do so on a monthly basis!

Below are my updated predictions for May.

You can read my predictions for April here and my March predictions here.

Best Picture

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

Unbroken

Whiplash

Wild

I’ve dropped Get On Up from my list of best picture nominees, mostly because the film’s trailer is just too bland.  As for some of the other films that some of my fellow bloggers are predicting will be contenders: The Grand Budapest Hotel may very well deserve a nomination but it may have come out too early in the year.  Gone Girl may be too much of a genre piece while Inherent Vice may not be enough of one. Big Eyes would theoretically benefit from the fact that both Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams would appear to be perfectly cast but, after his last few live action films, I don’t have much faith in Tim Burton. As for Into The Woods, my instinct says that Rob Marshall’s latest musical film adaptation is going to have more in common with Nine than with Chicago.

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman

Angelina Jolie for Unbroken

Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Jean-Marc Vallee for Wild

No changes here.  I nearly dropped Angelina Jolie from the list, just because she’s being so aggressively hyped and early hype always seems to lead to later disappointment.  If I had dropped her, I would have replaced her with Christopher Nolan for Interstellar.

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton in Birdman

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice

Christoph Waltz in Big Eyes

I dropped Chadwick Boseman from my list of predictions, again based on the blandness of the trailer for Get On Up.  I also moved Ralph Fiennes down to best supporting actor.  In their place: Joaquin Phoenix and Christoph Waltz.

Best Actress

Amy Adams in Big Eyes

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Emma Stone in Magic in the Moonlight

Reese Whitherspoon in Wild

Michelle Williams in Suite francaise

I dropped Jessica Chastain from the list and replaced her with Michelle Williams.  Why?  There’s really no big reason, beyond the fact that I know more about the role Williams is playing in Suite francaise than I do about the role Chastain is playing in A Most Violent Year.  If The Fault In Our Stars was being released in October (as opposed to next month), I would have probably found room for Shailene Woodley on this list.

Best Supporting Actor

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher

Martin Sheen in Trash

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

I dropped both Robert Duvall and Channing Tatum from this list, largely because I don’t know enough about Duvall’s character in The Judge and because I have a feeling that, when it comes to Foxcatcher, the Academy will either nominate Ruffalo or Tatum but not both of them.  My first replacement is Martin Sheen for Trash, largely because Sheen has never been nominated for an Oscar and the role of an activist priest seems to be perfect for him.  My second replacement is Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Originally, I was predicting Fiennes would get a best actor nod but — as is explained in this article over at AwardsWatch — a pretty good case can be made for Fiennes getting a supporting nod instead.

Literally minutes before clicking publish on this post, I also decided to remove Christopher Walken and replace him with Ethan Hawke.  With three nominations already — one for acting and two for writing — Hawke seems to be popular with Academy voters and he always seems to do his best work for Richard Linklater.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Viola Davis in Get On Up

Marcia Gay Harden in Magic In The Moonlight

Kristen Scott Thomas in Suite francaise

Meryl Streep in Into The Woods

Two changes: I dropped Amy Ryan and replaced her with Kristen Scott Thomas.  Again, it’s mostly just because I know more about the role Scott Thomas is playing than I do about Ryan’s role.  I also, shortly before posting this, decided to remove Kiera Knightley and replace her with Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.

So, those are my predictions for this month!  Agree?  Disagree?  Please feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Boyhood

Boyhood

 

 

Trailer: Gone Girl


Gone Girl is one of the most highly anticipated films of 2014.  It’s a film that a lot of critics have already predicted will be an Oscar contender.  However, I have to admit that I’m a bit worried about it.

You have to understand: I loved Gillian Flynn’s novel.  When I first heard that Rosamund Pike was playing the role of Amy, I was happy because, to me, it seemed like perfect casting.  Rosamund Pike has been one of my favorite actresses ever since I first saw An Education and, depending on whether the film’s Amy is anything like the book’s Amy, this seems like it could be the role of a lifetime for her.  However, I have to say that I was less enthusiastic about the news that Ben Affleck would be playing Nick Dunne.  But then I heard that Neil Patrick Harris had been cast in the film as well and, knowing what I did about the role he would be playing, I was again intrigued.  And then Tyler Perry was cast and I was worried again.

And then there was David Fincher.

David Fincher is an undeniably talented director but his last film, the rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, felt like Fincher on auto pilot.  I found myself wondering if he would take a similar approach to Gone Girl, giving us a lot of recognizable style with little going on beneath the surface.

The first official trailer for Gone Girl was released earlier today and, having watched it, I still don’t know what to think.  Particularly when compared to the trailer for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Gone Girl trailer has an almost mellow feel to it.  If nothing else, I hope this means that Gone Girl was made by the thoughtful artist behind Zodiac as opposed to the hyper stylist behind Dragon Tattoo.

We’ll find out for sure in October.

 

Halo 4: Launch Trailer “Scanned”


As I write this it’s 2 hours and 52 minutes til the release of one of the biggest titles in entertainment for the year of 2012. Yes, I say entertainment and not just video games. The last ten years has seen the ascendancy of the video game as a form of entertainment to rival and, at times, surpass the big kid in the block: film. It was in 2007 that we saw Microsoft and Bungie Studio release the final game in the Halo trilogy. That game marked the first time a video game title beat any film in terms of first-day sales with $170million dollars on its first day of release. This record would be broken many times since and all of them on the video game side of entertainment.

In 2010, Microsoft and Bungie Studios released a prequel to the trilogy with Halo Reach which also marked the final Halo game Bungie Studios would develop and release. It wasn’t a well kept secret that Bungie had begun to tire of being known as just the studio that made Halo for the Xbox/Xbox360. So, once they arranged for the studio to leave as an internal studio for Microsoft Games there were some concern that whoever would takeover development for the series would fall in reaching the high bar Bungie had set for the series.

It’s now 2012 and 343 Industries is just hours away from releasing their first title in the Halo franchise and it continues the events which ended with the original trilogy. We find Master Chief and his A.I. companion, Cortana, stranded in deep space, cut-off from the rest of humanity. The final scene we see from Halo 3 (if one passed the single-player campaign on Legendary mode) was the two seeing an unknown planet come into view. The questions which arose from this final scene was whether this was a Covenant home planet or was it the planet where the Forerunners (builders of the Halo ringworlds) originated from.

We’ll find out when 12:00 midnight hits on November 6, 2012. In years past I would’ve called off work and stood in line at midnight to get my copy and play the rest of the day. I’m a bit older and wiser (likes sleep and making money  from work) now, but it doesn’t mean I won’t pick up my copy after work tomorrow.

Whether one likes or doesn’t like the Halo series no one can deny that it help revolutionize console gaming, especially multiplayer gaming on the console, and entertainment in the first decade of the 21st century. Everyone is all about Call of Duty‘s modern iteration like Modern Warfare and Black Ops, but without Halo those games wouldn’t have had to evolve to keep up (and for some surpass) what Microsoft and Bungie had created and for 343 Industries to continue to do.

Now let’s enjoy the launch trailer for Halo 4 (both live-action and CGI) that was produced by David Fincher (yes, that Fincher) and directed by Tim Miller.

EDIT: I can be found on XBL with gamertag: ArleighTSL