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In "Top Five," which is written and directed by Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson plays Chelsea Brown, a New York Times reporter. Her current assignment has her shadowing and interviewing actor Andre Allen (also Rock), as he promotes a new film. The experience for both Brown and Allen proves an enlightening one. Both have secrets revealed and have to reexamine some of their preconceived notions. Sitting down to talk to Dawson about the role, she is quite forthcoming about the difficulties inherent in taking part in an interview. Not just from the reporter's end, but the actor's as well. "There's an art to it," she tells us, referencing the constructing and asking of questions and keeping the interviewee's "feet to the fire." There is also, which may be implied but not stated, an art to answering such questions. One wrong sentence on either end and things can go off the rails completely. »
- Josh Lasser
One day after announcing the World and Us Drama and Documentary Competition entries for both, Sundance revealed the films in the Spotlight and Park City at Midnight programs, as well as the films and art installations that will be part of the New Frontiers program at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Drew McWeeny will be handling the Park City at Midnight announcement, just as he'll be handling our coverage of the Midnight slate from Sundance. The Spotlight program is set aside for films that may have played in festivals around the world or even domestically, but have support amidst the Sundance selectors. The high profile entries in the Spotlight program include Kornél Mundruczó's "White God," which won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes last summer. It's the story of a girl who has to give up her mixed-breed dog and the journey girl and dog take to be reunited. »
- Daniel Fienberg
Noah Baumbach movies are prickly. Characters in films like "The Squid and the Whale," "Margot at the Wedding," "Greenberg" get under the each other’s skins, even with the best intentions. "Frances Ha" offered the writer-director a more "likable" lead, but even Greta Gerwig’s wayward millenial whittled her friends and family down to their most caustic cores. This is not a grievance — the world is prickly. Baumbach picks up on it. In the trailer for is new film, "While We’re Young," the filmmaker again dredges up a grey-shaded ensemble and weaponizes for uncomfortable laughs. In the film, Ben Stiller stars as Josh, a documentary filmmaker stuck in a 10-year fine-tuning session. Life outside the editing room is swirling chaos, his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) and father-in-law (Charles Grodin) also in the doc business, also up in his business. There are questions on the table - will the couple ever settle down? »
- Matt Patches
The Sundance Film Festival has announced its competition slate for 2015 and color us…satisfied? So far, so good? Of course, times are changing (say goodbye to docs about the Arab Spring) and returning filmmakers are flocking to the U.S. dramatic competition like never before (who wants to be just a lousy premiere?). As always, there are a few stars pulling double duty (this year it's Cobie Smulders and Kristen Wiig) and familiar faces are going in unexpected directorial directions. Nothing overtly controversial has appeared yet (there's still time), but the festival programmers have noted this year's movies are more about "taking audiences on a wild ride of emotional extremes" than making big political statements (well, in the narratives at least). With that in mind, Dan Fienberg, Drew McWeeny and myself have scoured the 60+ titles announced today and determined the biggest takeaways from the competition slate so far. Check them »
- Gregory Ellwood, Drew McWeeny, Dan Fienberg
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. Open Road Films announced Wednesday afternoon that it would re-release "Nightcrawler" into theaters beginning on Dec. 5. There’s no hiding the intention: The company’s press release notes that members of AMPAS, Ace, Adg, Asc, BAFTA, Cas, DGA, Find, HFPA, Mpeg, Mpse, PGA, SAG Nom Com and WGA would be able to use their guild cards to gain free entrance to the screenings. People need to see "Nightcrawler" and start thinking Best Actor. »
- Matt Patches
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." "He’s always wanted to inspire and he’s always wanted to do it through a film," says director Angelina Jolie in the same expanded look at the war drama. "He waited 50 years and this is his moment. »
- Matt Patches
All stories must — eventually — come to the end. And so it is with Peter Jackson’s foray into Middle Earth. But before we say our final good-byes to Bilbo, Gandalf, and the rest of the gang, they have to win the battle…if not the war. In this new clip, Party King Thranduil is over this hella boring fight. He will spill no more Elven blood in the defense of lame non-Elves. But the dwarves are in grave danger! Someone must go to warn them. Perhaps someone who can turn invisible? Gandalf tries to be a good sponsor and shut down that train of thought, but the power of the Precious is too strong. Bilbo will save the day, even if it means taking another hit off that sweet, sweet One Ring. “The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies” will be in theaters on December 17. You can find out what our »
- Donna Dickens
When the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer emerged on Friday, there was much online chatter about the voice we heard over its galactic imagery.
"There has been an awakening," the voice rumbled. "Have you felt it?"
Our first reaction was that it sounded quite a lot like Benedict Cumberbatch's ominous tones from Star Trek Into Darkness's trailers last year - and given that Jj Abrams directed that film as well as the forthcoming Episode VII, many people concurred. Others suggested that the voice over might have been supplied by Max Von Sydow, or Adam Driver, who are both reportedly playing villains in The Force Awakens.
Everything we know so far about Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - 7 talking points from the first trailer
"For the record, that is Andy Serkis you hear in the trailer," McWeeny writes. "I was able to verify this, although I was not able to uncover any further information about the role he plays.
"Here's what I do know, though. He's playing a pivotal role in the film, although he will not have a lot of screen time."
Disney and Lucasfilm almost broke the internet yesterday when they unveiled the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The hotly-anticipated look at the next chapter in the Star Wars saga didn’t disappoint, but it did raise a handful of new questions and sparked a great deal of online speculation.
One of the biggest debates raged around the identity of the trailer’s narrator, who asks if we’ve felt “an awakening.” Many were quick to point out that the voice resembles that of Benedict Cumberbatch, who was long-rumored for the film but never officially cast. I personally don’t believe that Cumberbatch is coming anywhere near The Force Awakens, but I get the skepticism surrounding his involvement, thanks to the high levels of (arguably unnecessary) secrecy surrounding his role in J.J. Abrams’ last sci-fi adventure, Star Trek Into Darkness.
Other popular theories have pointed towards people »
- James Garcia
Benedict Cumberbatch has long been rumored to appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the initial cast announcement did not include the actor, many still believed he was the one narrating the teaser trailer that launched yesterday. Sources close to the production have since revealed that it is not, in fact, Benedict Cumberbatch, but one of the actually actors announced way back in April.
'There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Darkside. And the Light.' Who is the narrator who speaks this now famous line of dialogue? It has been revealed to be none other than Andy Serkis. Sources close to Disney and Lucasfilm confirmed the information yesterday with Hitfix's Drew McWeeny. A different set of sources later confirmed with Collider. Though, if you are one of the many still holding out hope that Benedict Cumberbatch is in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, »
Everybody has that one movie that they've watched so many times, "knowing it by heart" doesn't even begin to describe the relationship. It's the film that you drop everything to watch when it comes on TV, or that you bought and wore out the VHS copy, and then the DVD and the Blu-Ray... and you're still happy to watch it again on Netflix. Maybe it all started with what your family liked to watch (or what they hated) or what ended up in your stocking at holiday time, or what you fell in love with at the theater. Below, the HitFix editorial staff shares its most-watched movies of all time. What is yours? Tell us in the comments! Donna Dickens "Titanic" I was that fourteen year old girl. The one that saw “Titanic” in theaters multiple times (my personal tally was seven.) I bought the VHS two-pack. I recorded the »
- HitFix Staff
Back in the spring, I found myself working at HitFix's La offices for a few days, which would ordinarily have been an opportunity to tape an in-person episode of the Firewall & Iceberg Show. But with Fienberg out of town for my visit, we instead recorded a variant on our Ask Drew series, with Drew McWeeny asking me questions instead of fielding them himself. It was a fun experience, and when we decided later in the year to put the video show on the shelf (possibly to return one day when the 3,000 mile distance between the two hosts is less technologically cumbersome), I wanted to give the Ask Alan thing some more burn. So welcome to the first installment of what will hopefully be a regular and long-running (but short in terms of each episode) video series, in which I take your questions and try not to ramble too much in answering them. »
- Alan Sepinwall
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. Set in 1981, "Year" centers on Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), a self-made businessman who is trying to take his New York City area oil heating business to the next level. While his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) takes care of the books, Abel is in the process of securing a new headquarters for the company, which will help make it a powerhouse. That is until his business comes under siege from criminals hijacking his trucks. »
- Gregory Ellwood
The stars of the newest "Hunger Games" film, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1" were out in Los Angeles on Monday night for the premiere on this side of the pond. Naturally, the group was led by Jennifer Lawrence who plays the franchise's main character, Katniss Everdeen. With Lawrence on the carpet were co-stars Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Natalie Dormer, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, and several others. In the gallery below, you can judge all their outfits for yourself and decide which look you like best. Directed by Francis Lawrence, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1" opens in theaters this Friday, November 21st. Be sure to read Drew McWeeny's review. »
- Josh Lasser
Hollywood — You'd never guess it from the reviews, but after Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" screened at the New York Film Festival last month, the word on the street wasn't great. The iconic filmmaker's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel earned immediate respect, but numerous industry attendees spread the word it wasn't Academy friendly and potentially not commercial enough to really be a player for Warner Bros. It even prompted questions on whether the reaction to the uniquely Los Angeles tale would have been better suited for a hometown debut. Following "Vice's" Southern California unveiling at the 2014 AFI Film Fest Saturday night, the answer to that question is still up for debate, but one thing's for sure: it's time to start the "don't forget Josh Brolin in the Best Supporting Actor race" campaign. Yes, a "reminder" campaign usually occurs after a film has at least hit limited release, but »
- Gregory Ellwood
Audiences will likely be divided on Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, a brutal, bold and beautiful film that flies by, even at a hefty 126 minutes – so long as you’re willing to climb on board with its somewhat ludicrous premise. There are those who will struggle to swallow the basic set-up – that a failed climate change experiment plunged the world into another ice age, the only survivors of which had managed to clambor onto a fortified train that uses a perpetual motion engine to endlessly travel the globe. To those people, I say this: do your best to suspend your disbelief, because where Bong goes from there is truly spectacular.
In big-budget moviemaking today, there are Big Dumb Fun popcorn spectacles, slick and intelligent blockbusters and then, much more rarely, productions like Snowpiercer, which seem to operate in a different realm entirely. You see, Snowpiercer isn’t just a smart film. »
- Isaac Feldberg
Filming for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace began in 1997 - two years before internet usage became "officially' mainstream in America. I still remember searching high-and-low for any little nugget of information. Back then, there were only a few websites that provided movie scoops and most of them proved to be unreliable. Heck, things were so different people were actually excited to have George Lucas writing and directing again. Nostalgia clouded us fans, we never dreamed Lucas would disappoint us. One person that must not have been shocked by The Phantom Menace was Drew McWeeny of Hit Fix. He apparently heard rumblings from members of the crew while they were working on it. The good news: Drew is hearing the opposite from the J.J. Abrams' Star Wars VII crew. "I've been covering movies online since the days when the "Star Wars: Special Editions" were only a rumor. During »
"Nailed" haunts writer-director David O. Russell. A health care satire starring Jessica Biel suffering from a near-fatal nail gun shot to the head, the film went into production before "The Fighter" and imploded before making it through post-production. Russell moved on, for the clear better, but onlookers anxious for a taste of the writer’s sardonic humor kept wondering if the film would ever surface. Whether he was talking about "The Fighter," "Silver Linings Playbook" or "American Hustle," nearly ever interview steered towards "Nailed" out of due diligence. When our own Drew McWeeny spoke to Russell in 2011, he summed up the experience he was happy to distance himself from: "['Nailed'] was supposed to be a fresh page and comeback and it turned out to be disappointment, another notch on my belt in this business." Fans would never see "Nailed." Or fans were resigned to never seeing "Nailed"… until now. Screendaily reports »
- Matt Patches
Well this one is ready to burst. "Interstellar" is here — on film, anyway. Those eager to check it out in 35mm, 70mm or 70mm IMAX can do so now, with all formats blazing on Friday. We have chewed on it plenty around here. We've talked to Matthew McConaughey (with more to come). We've heard from Christopher Nolan. HitFix's Drew McWeeny was positive. After a second look, so was I, both of us with reservations. That seems to be the pattern with most responses. But who cares what a bunch of people who got to see it early thought? You get your crack at it now. I'll be very curious to see what the response is from general audiences. And the box office race this weekend should be an interesting to watch. I'm betting a number of people will be shocked Sunday morning if "Big Hero 6" comes out on top. »
- Kristopher Tapley
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