9 items from 2015
Universal is having a banner year in terms of box office, but will that translate into awards?
It’s too early for definitive statements, but the success of the Universal slate means people have seen and liked the studio’s films — and, contrary to public opinion, awards voters are human. The studio has two Oscar best-picture possibilities in “Straight Outta Compton” and “Steve Jobs,” and has at least eight other films with awards potential in various categories.
Here’s an overview of U’s films.
In light of Ferguson and other uprisings, “Compton” is one of the timeliest films of the year. With a budget under $30 million and a box office of $200 million and counting, it is also a mega-hit. As a bonus, awards voters are still buzzing about the movie, »
- Tim Gray
Top-flight cinematography by Salvatore Totino, deftly edited by Mick Audsley, lends gravitas to Baltasar Kormákur’s tale of mountaintop disaster, based on real-life events from 1996. Jason Clarke is the leader of an “adventure consultants”’ climb beset by bad weather and overcrowding. The climbers are a mixed bag, ranging from Josh Brolin’s gruff Texan, Beck Weathers, to John Hawkes’s amiable but ailing postal worker, Doug Hansen, and Naoko Mori’s Yasuko Namba, a Japanese businesswoman dedicated to summiting the highest mountains of the seven continents.
For the most part, screenwriters William Nicholson and Simon Beaufoy (the latter co-wrote the physical endurance tester 127 Hours) attempt to avoid the sentimental tropes of the disaster movie, although radio contact with distant partners leaves both Keira Knightley and Robin Wright simply waiting for tear-jerking phone calls. »
- Mark Kermode
After kicking off with such awards season heavies as “Black Swan,” “Gravity” and “Birdman” in recent years, the Venice Film Festival opted for Baltasar Kormákur’s “Everest” to open the 72nd annual festivities this time around.
At first blush, it seemed like a curious choice to me. It’s a great international staging ground for the film, so it made some sense. But even though Venice is certainly not as concerned with being a part of the awards season discussion as other fests, it felt like that spot was recently being groomed for certain kinds of splashes.
That’s just getting lost in the frivolous “meaning” of these things, though. Because at the end of the day, with a stacked cast and plenty of cinematic spectacle to go around, this harrowing account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster is a perfectly fine way to get things going on the Lido. Not only that, »
- Kristopher Tapley
Following the 2014 and 2015 avalanche disasters that killed more than 35 people trying to scale the highest mountain on Earth, the timing is either wildly inappropriate or grimly right for “Everest,” though it would be awfully hard to argue that it’s too soon. A properly grueling dramatization of the ill-fated May 1996 expedition that saw eight climbers expire in a blizzard, this brusquely visualized, choppily played epic serves as the latest cinematic opportunity for Mother Nature to flaunt her utter indifference to human survival. Achieving fitful flurries of emotion amid an otherwise slow, agonizing descent into physical and dramatic paralysis, director Baltasar Kormakur’s latest and biggest U.S. studio effort should ride its Imax 3D event-picture status to decent theatrical returns worldwide, aided by a topical resurgence of interest in the movie’s subject. Still, with its more stolid than inspired execution, it’s unclear whether the Sept. 18 Universal release can reach its desired commercial apex. »
- Justin Chang
The UK firm will raise around $310,000 (£200,000) in UK production finance for Microwave International: Shakespeare India; projects, teams, mentors announced.
Media investment firm Bob & Co is the latest company to invest in Film London’s mentoring and development scheme Microwave International: Shakespeare India.
Bob & Co will raise UK production finance for the project through an Enterprise Investment Scheme (Eis).
The scheme’s aim is to finance one feature with significant Asian and British Asian involvement with up to $780,000 (£500,000) and to theatrically release the film in 2016.
Andy Brunskill, of Bob & Co’s subsidiary Sums London, brokered the deal and will executive produce the selected feature.
Bob & Co will raise money through the Eis scheme, along with India’s Cinestaan Film Company, who partnered with Film London on the initiative in April.
The project will involve six teams of Asian writers, directors and producers from the UK and India honing ideas for Shakespeare-themed features in an intensive week-long microschool, which »
Academy invitee Eddie Redmayne in 'The Theory of Everything.' Academy invites 322 new members: 'More diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before' The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has offered membership to 322 individuals "who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures." According to the Academy's press release, "those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy's membership in 2015." In case all 322 potential new members say an enthusiastic Yes, that means an injection of new blood representing about 5 percent of the Academy's current membership. In the words of Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (as quoted in the press release), in 2015 "our branches have recognized a more diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before, and we look forward to adding their creativity, ideas and experience to our organization." In recent years, the Academy membership has »
- Anna Robinson
©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Studio Pali Fekete architects/©A.M.P.A.S.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week that the Los Angeles City Council, in a unanimous vote, approved plans for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Construction will begin this summer, and ceremonial groundbreaking festivities will occur this fall.
“I am thrilled that Los Angeles is gaining another architectural and cultural icon,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “My office of economic development has worked directly with the museum’s development team to ensure that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will create jobs, support tourism, and pay homage to the industry that helped define our identity as the creative capital of the world.”
“We are grateful to our incredible community of supporters who have helped make this museum a reality,” said Dawn Hudson, the Academy’s CEO. “Building this museum has been an Academy »
- Michelle McCue
Strangely dropping a press release on a historic day where the nation's attention is elsewhere, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed their annual list of new member invitees this morning. For those who criticize the makeup of the Academy there was some good news and the stark realization the organization still has a long way to go. The Academy has spent the last eight to 10 years attempting to diversify its membership and this year's class mostly reflects that. There are significantly more invitees of Asian and African-American descent, but the male to female disparity is still depressing. Out of the 25 potential new members of the Actor's Branch only seven are women. And, no, there isn't really an acceptable way for the Academy to spin that sad fact. Additionally, It's important to realize the 322 people noted in the release have only been invited to join Hollywood's most exclusive club. »
- Gregory Ellwood
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences continues to push for diversity, sending membership invitations to 322 individuals, including a healthy number of people who can help change the org’s demos.
Among the invitees are David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Felicity Jones, Emma Stone, Rosamund Pike, Bong Joon-ho, Justin Lin and Francois Ozon. The Academy has been reaching out to women, foreign-born artists and people of various races, ethnic backgrounds and ages.
Accusations of Academy bigotry surfaced yet again in January when the list of Oscar nominees included Caucasians in all 20 acting categories, and few women or racial minorities among the other categories. Director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo of “Selma” had seemed like strong contenders, giving many people hopes of breakthroughs. After initial anger at the Acad, activists began to shift their protests to industry hiring practices. For example, 323 films were eligible for 2014 awards — which means AMPAS should theoretically »
- Tim Gray
9 items from 2015
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