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“Prisoners,” an ambitious drama about two kidnapped children, could be a surprise entry at this year’s Oscars. Although the film isn’t a lock for major nominations (“12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” are considered the frontrunners), it’s a darkhorse with a passionate following among audiences and some Academy members.
Shortly after the Warner Bros. thriller was released in September, Harvey Weinstein showed uncharacteristic generosity toward a competitor by calling “Prisoners” his favorite film of the year. Director Andrew Stanton and multihyphenate James Franco are also fans of the movie, having championed it on social media.
The film’s stars, Jake Gyllenhaal and Melissa Leo, along with French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski, attended a recent Variety roundtable about the making of the film. Hugh Jackman, recuperating from a minor medical procedure to remove a basal cell carcinoma, joined later for a phone interview.
The R-rated “Prisoners, »
- Ramin Setoodeh
Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” took home acting trophies for lead Bruce Dern and supporting thesp Will Forte, while actress kudos were handed to Emma Thompson for her lead perf in “Saving Mr. Banks” and, in the supporting category, to Octavia Spencer for “Fruitvale Station,” which also snagged a breakthrough performance award for Michael B. Jordan and the directorial debut laurel for helmer Ryan Coogler. “Prisoners” took an ensemble acting trophy for a cast that included Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo and Paul Dano.
Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” won for animated feature — the film’s second toon trophy after winning the same kudo from the New York Film Critics Circle Monday — and Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell” took the documentary title, »
- Gordon Cox
‘The Wind Rises’ and more Nyfcc 2013 winners (image: Hayao Miyazaki ‘The Wind Rises’) (See previous post: "Cate Blanchett, cross-dresser Jared Leto: 2013 New York Film Critics’ Movie Stars.") Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, a major blockbuster in Japan ($119.51 million according to Box Office Mojo) despite — or perhaps because of — a right-wing backlash against the film’s anti-war stance, was the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Animated Feature of 2013. The Wind Rises beat better known U.S.-made fare such as Disney’s Frozen, currently in theaters. Miyazaki has vowed that he has retired from filmmaking; if true, The Wind Rises will be his last film. Via its Touchstone Pictures banner, Walt Disney Studios will be releasing The Wind Rises on February 21, 2014, in North America. Now, how could a 2014 movie (in the U.S.) get a 2013 award from the Nyfcc, better known for honoring movies a year (The Lives of Others »
- Andre Soares
Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto: New York Film Critics go for movie stars in each acting category (photo: Cate Blanchett in ‘Blue Jasmine’) (See previous post: "Hot Jennifer Lawrence, Wet Robert Redford: New York Film Critics Winners.") Cate Blanchett was chosen as the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Actress for Woody Allen’s comedy-drama Blue Jasmine. Blanchett, already touted as an Oscar 2014 favorite, plays a role with elements in common with Vivien Leigh’s Blanche DuBois in Elia Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Leigh was both the New York Film Critics’ and the Academy Awards’ Best Actress of 1951. (Full list of Nyfcc 2013 award winners.) Cate Blanchett has already won an Oscar — Best Supporting Actress for Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, in which she plays Katharine Hepburn — but this is her first Nyfcc win. Back in 2007, Blanchett, as one of several Bob Dylan characters in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, »
- Andre Soares
Since their inception 23 years ago, Ifp’s Gotham Independent Film Awards have experienced their share of growing pains and gains. For years, the low-key kudofest, which takes place at the outset of awards season, was truly independent and unconcerned about their impact on the Academy Awards.
In 2005, categories for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You and ensemble were added to the Gothams’ parade of accolades, designed to celebrate films and performances overlooked by Oscar. But this year, those categories have been scrapped and replaced with more traditional actor and actress kudos.
According to Ifp exec director Joana Vicente and senior director of programming Milton Tabbot, the redesign wasn’t meant to align with the Oscars. Instead a “changing distribution landscape” and difficulty meeting the ensemble category criteria led to a shift toward standard awards honoring five thesps per gender.
“Independent film is where a lot of amazing actors get great, »
- Addie Morfoot
Christian Bale has an intensity that seeps into performances which leave fans awestruck. His passion for his craft, however, does not include self-promotion. With a pair of compelling perfs to tubthump, the excruciatingly private star now has to do his least favorite thing: face the media.
Christian Bale is the reluctant movie star.
Despite being regarded as one of the best actors of his generation, the enigmatic 39-year-old Brit has no interest in fame. His dashing, tall, dark and handsome looks are often concealed by the unattractive physical appearances and appurtenances of the characters he portrays. In an era when many of his contemporaries take to social media to connect with fans, he chooses to fly beneath the radar, straining to keep details of his personal life private and relying strictly on gut rather than a career strategy when picking roles. He is notoriously press shy, which has no doubt »
- Jenelle Riley
Happy Holiday Podcast!
In this week's episode, Nathaniel, Katey and Nick prepare for the impending Thanksgiving dinners by sharing our favorite turkeys (movies) and succulent hams (actors). We answer reader-submitted questions on topics ranging from Jennifer Lawrence's meteoric rise to fame, through Michael Fassbender's decision not to campaign for Oscar and on to confessions about nominated movies and performances we've never seen. Plus: Nathaniel and Katey share celebrity run-ins with Melissa Leo (Prisoners) and Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said)
You can listen at the bottom of the post or download it on iTunes. Join in the conversation in the comments.
Nathaniel and Katey (& their friend Rob in the middle) November 2012
We also briefly »
- NATHANIEL R
Hugh Jackman gave his first interview to Variety on Friday afternoon since announcing this week that doctors had removed skin cancer cells from his nose.
On Thursday, Jackman posted a snapshot on Instagram of his bandaged nose, telling his followers to use sunscreen. The 45-year-old actor said he had been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a treatable condition when discovered early.
“Look, I’m glad it’s all done,” Jackman said in a phone interview. “I’m a good example of making sure you get checkups and listening to your wife,” who urged Jackman to see a doctor after noticing a red spot.
“I’m glad we caught it,” Jackman added. “I had great doctors. I’m a little sore, but very relieved.”
- Ramin Setoodeh
Here’s something that, on it’s own, isn’t particularly newsworthy: Melissa Leo might star in a hypothetical movie that hasn’t been greenlit yet. Yawn. I know. But in a larger context, this wishful thinking suddenly becomes not entirely dull. The film-to-be in question is The Toll, from playwright/director Neil Labute. Leo would play a New Jersey tollbooth operator who stumbles upon a potential terrorist attack against the entire East coast, and, as tollbooth operators are known to do, takes down the entire terrorist cell single-handedly. Labute describes the film as “a character piece, to take a middle-aged woman and put her in a crisis you would normally find Bruce Willis. It’s finding someone who has none of the supposed attributes of an action hero and yet asked to do all of the things that those people are asked to do.” And that’s something essentially non-existent in the current film market. Middle-aged »
- Adam Bellotto
Director Neil Labute said it himself – it isn’t easy getting a movie made – but, should one of his impending projects get a green light, we could have a particularly unique action hero on the way – Melissa Leo. The Toll is penned by newcomer Jane Henderson and tells the tale of a New Jersey tollbooth worker who winds up responsible for thwarting a terrorist attack threatening the entire east cost. That tollbooth worker? Not Jason Statham, Daniel Craig, Tom Cruise or some other familiar saves-the-day type. Should The Toll come to fruition, Leo would be the one to go head-to-head with the enemy. Hit the jump for more details. When asked about the status of The Toll during the press day for his upcoming film, Some Velvet Morning, Labute admitted: “That’s really just discussions. It’s a script that I thought was interesting. Melissa Leo, I’ve worked with her on stage. »
- Perri Nemiroff
Not that it is shrouded in mystery, but Mark Webber has a distinct way of working that might be regarded Cassavetes-like for his realism and making his narratives into true family affairs – we only need to reference The End of Love (Sundance ’12) as a prime example. And speaking of family, Webber reteams with cinematographer Patrice Lucien Cochet and here partners up with Teresa Palmer – the actress and actor are attached at the limb in more than just a creative manner. Filming commenced on The Ever After in Australia earlier in the year and apparently moved from Los Angeles and New York in July and August, which means a rough cut could have been submitted. Webber, Palmer, pint-sized Phoebe Tonkin, Jaime King, Rosario Dawson, Melissa Leo, Joshua Leonard, Tahyna Tozzi, Kid Cudi and Tom Bower are part of the film’s make-up and Before Midnight was such a hit last year »
- Eric Lavallee
It wouldn’t be the first time a veteran helmer with a Hollywoodized filmography cracked the line-up and seeing that he directed mainstream titles such as Field of Dreams, Sneakers and The Sum of All Fears means Phil Alden Robinson’s name is far from what we think might be part of the final Park City equation. His sixth directorial outing, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn was lensed in NYC back in September of ’12, and padded with some shooting in L.A. at the beginning of this year. With Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Melissa Leo, Peter Dinklage and James Earl Jones cast, we think there might be some just a little wiggle room for what would be considered a high value dramedy, regardless is Williams has another high profile indie title that we mention on our list and regardless if the Lionsgate folks just picked this up for a 2014 day & date release. »
- Eric Lavallee
Country Bumpkin: Bond’s Debut a Grating Escapade of Disingenuous Cliché
Swedish born Fredrik Bond, who’d made a notable name for himself as a successful director of commercials, makes his feature film debut with Charlie Countryman, unfortunately a clipped version of its initial moniker, originally titled the The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman upon its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. This indeed is a misfortune, because Bond’s catchy title was the only original aspect about the film, now with as denuded a calling card as its content is absent anything of consequence. Inane, banal, and thoroughly unrealistic, the film plays like the interrupted fantasy of some melancholic teenager who falls asleep listening to ultra-hip tracks on his iPod.
- Nicholas Bell
Charlie Countryman starts off with a couple of the most startling scenes of any film I’ve seen this year. I’m not even talking about the elegantly stylized, slo-mo shots of Shia Labeouf covered in blood, getting shot, and plummeting to his death that open the film. (Go ahead, say it: “No movie that starts with Shia Labeouf dying in horrible fashion can be all that bad.”) Rather, it’s what comes after: Charlie (Labeouf) being roused out of a morbid reverie to go see his comatose mother (Melissa Leo) breathe her last in a drab hospital room. It’s a profoundly grim moment, too painful to watch. But when she dies, he spies a small, ghostly sliver of light escape out of her. Is this her soul? Charlie is too distraught to care. So much death, so early on. Where does this movie go from here?Well, Bucharest, »
- Bilge Ebiri
Chicago – What happens when you give people two months in Romania to make a movie about a lost soul dealing with grief, love, drug use, and general excess? You get a spoiled, bizarre, annoying piece of work like “Charlie Countryman,” starring talented people given absolutely nothing to do that proves that talent. It’s a film more in love with slow-motion shots of its abrasive lead running to electronic dance music than anything approaching character or plot. It’s like watching the travel video of the most annoying guy you know.
Charlie Countryman (Shia Labeouf) can talk to dead people. He meets a man on a plane to Romania and has a brief conversation with him After he drops dead in the seat next to him. The afterlife-chat forces Charlie to seek out the man’s daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), with whom he falls in love, of course. »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
A veteran director of commercials and music videos, Swedish-born Fredrik Bond makes his feature debut with Charlie Countryman, an extravagantly romantic tale of the titular young American (Shia Labeouf) who flees to Bucharest after the death of his mother (Melissa Leo). His neighbor on the flight to the Romanian capital dies on the journey, and Charlie is left to seek out his pretty young daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), with whom he immediately falls in love. With a star-studded cast featuring Mads Mikkelsen (as Gabi’s psycho gangster ex, Nigel), Til Schweiger, Aubrey Plaza, Vincent D’Onofrio and Rupert Grint (playing a wannabe […] »
- Nick Dawson
Editor’s note: Our review of what was then called The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman originally ran during this year’s Sundance film festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited release today. A close up of a beaten and bloodied Shia Labeouf (who plays the title character) hanging upside down is the first image of The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman and brings one question to mind: what did Charlie do? A voice over (from John Hurt) explains simply that “love is pain” as the story takes us “back to the beginning” to a stark hospital room where Charlie’s mother (Melissa Leo) lies dying. As she takes her final breath, something strange happens, and suddenly a healthy looking Leo sits next to Charlie to impart some last words and wisdom. This idea that Charlie can hear from the dead (complete with a tongue-in-cheek joke about The Sixth Sense) is »
- Allison Loring
"Charlie Countryman" opens up with an arresting image, the titular character (played by Shia Labeouf) dangling upside down in woozy slow-motion, his face brutally beaten and bloody. As the narrator (John Hurt) explains, Charlie Countryman is languishing in the wind about to be shot by a red-headed girl, and that the young man had to die. And he did it all for love. Cut to present day. Charlie is about is about to lose his ailing mother (Melissa Leo). His mom's boyfriend (a brief Vincent D'Onofrio cameo) tells Charlie this is going to be the day they take her off life support (how she got in that state remains explained), and they drive together to the hospital. Charlie and the boyfriend pop some pills, sip some booze and say their final goodbyes. Charlie has some kind of fantastical anxiety attack as she passes—complete with visualizations of her soul leaving »
- Rodrigo Perez
While teaching in Romania, screenwriter Matt Drake indulged in a “mild flirtation” with a mother at school. Shortly after, that very school was temporarily shut down by the local police. Why? Because that very mother had an ex-husband who threatened to arm up and snatch their child out of the classroom. The incident left Drake wondering what if he started up a relationship with this woman, and then that question led to the story of Charlie Countryman.
In the film, Shia Labeouf stars as the titular Charlie. When his mother (Melissa Leo) passes away, he has a vision in which she insists that he take an impromptu trip to Bucharest. Charlie obliges, but on the flight to Romania, the man sitting »
- Perri Nemiroff
Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Release Date: Dec. 17, 2013
Price: DVD $28.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $35.99
A man who’s lost everything proves he is capable of anything in the 2013 crime thriller film Prisoners.
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman, Real Steel) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated Rv that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal, Love & Other Drugs) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano, The Extra Man), but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child’s life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. »
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