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Thank goodness for Reese Witherspoon. Despite a recent surge in strong roles for women (e.g., Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook), Hollywood really dropped the ball when it came to showcasing interesting roles for actresses in 2014. If it weren’t for Witherspoon’s newfound strength as a producer, two of this year’s likely nominees wouldn’t exist—and the Best Actress race would look even more dire than it currently does. Witherspoon herself is one of the primary contenders, of course, for her portrayal of a novice hiker looking for redemption in the »
- Nicole Sperling
Gugu Mbatha-Raw is on the move. After eight years of climbing the industry ladder, first with British TV guest spots and then roles in American series "Undercovers" and "Touch," the 31-year-old actress is breaking out in 2014. It all began with her most noteworthy role to date, the lead in Fox Searchlight's Spring art house hit "Belle." The period drama which imagines the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed race African woman who lived most of her adult life in English nobility, earned strong reviews and has earned Mbatha-Raw two British Independent Film Award nominations. This weekend she follows "Belle" up with something completely different, Gina Prince-Bythewood's impressive contemporary romance "Beyond the Lights." The film finds Mbatha-Raw portraying Noni, a pop-star on the verge of superstardom. Disturbingly and predictably, the sexualization of the music industry has transformed her into a manufactured product she never thought she'd be. Determined to »
- Gregory Ellwood, Katie Hasty
Bring on the Pda at Lax! Jesse Eisenberg and girlfriend Mia Wasikowska cuddled up at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, Nov. 9, canoodling before a flight. The Now You See Me actor has been quietly dating the Maps to the Stars beauty for more than a year. Though they stay largely out of the public eye, the two stars showed their affection for one another on the day of traveling. Eisenberg, 31, went casual, wearing a pair of khaki pants with brown sneakers and a heather navy [...] »
As final prep took place for the 35th American Film Market in Santa Monica, temperatures began rising — and so did optimism that the independent marketplace would generate significant transactions.
A flurry of deals came together in the week leading up to the Afm’s opening Wednesday: Henry Cavill starring in the action-thriller “Stratton”; Morton Csokas joining Emilia Clarke in “Voice From the Stone”; Shekhar Kapur directing “Tiger’s Curse”; Mitch Glazer’s TV series “Magic City” (pictured) becoming a movie with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Bruce Willis and Bill Murray; Jon Bernthal and Catalina Sandino Moreno joining Catherine Zeta-Jones in drug-lord drama “The Godmother”; and Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon and Elle Fanning starring in “Three Generations.”
Adding to the positive vibes were several recent funding announcements: Kevin Frakes’ PalmStar backing Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road and Bill Block’s Qed plus Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp securing $600 million in financing with Scarlett Johanssen »
- Dave McNary
Robert Pattinson may prefer being a conscientious observer when it comes to Hollywood as opposed to a center-of-attention kind of guy. And he doesn't mind being a cog in a greater machine when it comes to his movie choices, either, his latest being a supporting turn in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, a signaturely scathing disection of a subject that, this time around, is Tinseltown and the stars who make it shine. "He told me it was the lead!" Pattinson joked in a recent interview with Yahoo! Movies when asked if he knew he was signing up for a supporting role alongside the likes of Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska and others. "No, I definitely knew. I didn't know what the »
HanWay Films will launch worldwide sales at Afm, where “Prayer” will aim to satisfy the buyer’s appetite for commercial crossover genre fare in the vein of “Drive” and “The Raid.”
Sauvaire has started casting former prisoners who were Muay Thai champions in Thailand, where shooting will start in summer 2015. Hunnam is already in training for the Muay Thai sequences.
The film will be produced by ex-Wild Bunch exec Rita Dagher’s new company Senorita Films and Hurricane Films duo Sol Papadopoulos and Roy Boulter, who previously optioned the material. The screenplay is by Nick Saltrese, based on the book by Billy Moore.
Pic tells the true-life story of Billy Moore’s incarceration in one of Thailand’s most barbaric prisons — Klong Prem, »
- Leo Barraclough
David Cronenberg’s latest venture takes us, quite literally, into the heart of Hollywood. Maps to the Stars is Cronenberg’s critical look at celebrity culture and its many pitfalls, and the director shot outside of Canada for the first time to achieve the authentic backdrop of Los Angeles.
The story is a web of interconnected stories that follows a wide-eyed Mia Wasikowska as a mysterious visitor-turned-personal assistant, Julianne Moore as a washed-up actress attempting to make her comeback, John Cusack as a self-help motivator and cheerleader to his tween son, Evan Bird, a child actor fresh from rehab. AndRobert Pattinson rounds out the cast as a taxi driver and aspiring actor, on the outside looking in.
In Maps, Cronenberg constructs a world that is dark and uncomfortable, yet his characters live comfortably within it. Each character’s actions create much shock and awe, and it’s the type of »
- Tiffany Wong
Moore plays Havana -- the daughter of a deceased Hollywood acting legend -- who's searching for her own major breakthrough. She's entitled, bitchy, and utterly clueless about how she comes off. "Maps" is worth seeing solely for Moore's monologues.
Moviefone Canada spoke with Moore at the Toronto Film Festival, where she candidly discussed the inspiration for her character, working with David Cronenberg and Mia Wasikowska, and whether or not Havana stuck with her.
(Watch video interview, above.) »
- Chris Jancelewicz
By Anjelica Oswald
From a newcomer award at the Deauville Film Festival in 2011 to a career tribute this fall, two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain has come a long way in just three years. This year, she has been a part of four films: Christopher Nolan’s potential best picture nominee Interstellar, which opens in select theaters Nov. 5; J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year, which is opening AFI Fest Nov. 6; Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; and Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and is a combination of 2013’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him.
After graduating from Juilliard in 2003, Chastain was plucked from relative obscurity by Al Pacino to star in his production of Salome at Los Angeles’ Wadsworth Theatre in 2006. Pacino chronicles »
- Anjelica Oswald
Four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore is featured in this first poster for Sony Classics Pictures Still Alice. The film was an Official Selection at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
In the film, Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.
Writers-Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland made Sundance history in 2006 when Quinceañera won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. It went on to win numerous other prizes, including the Humanitas screenwriting Award, and the John Cassavettes Spirit Award in 2007. Their film The Last of Robin Hood, starring Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning, »
- Michelle McCue
Today Guillermo del Toro took part in a press day to promote the YouTube Space House of Horrors that he's been involved with for the past few months. In that experiment, YouTube creators had the opportunity to create original videos on terrifying cinematic sets inspired by del Toro at YouTube Spaces in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and New York, as part of a special global programming event. Those videos will start airing between now and Halloween. I was unable to make it down to the event today, but I'll be heading down to the YouTube space later this week and will come back with a full write-up. It's pretty cool since del Toro is helping to select the winner, who will get a development deal with Legendary Pictures. The sets they have built to shoot this stuff on are also truly astounding and we'll have some pics for you in that story later this week. »
- Evan Dickson
By Anjelica Oswald
Tracks and Wild are adapted from memoirs about women who venture on thousand-mile journeys and Gone Girl is an adaptation of a fictional novel, but all three films center around women and all three books were written by women.
These female-centric stories resonate more with women and often do well at the box office, Gone Girl opened number one at the box office and led for two weeks until Fury opened Oct. 17, but can they be propelled to Oscar nominations, especially with Academy voters being overwhelmingly (76 percent) male?
Of the 92 best picture Oscar nominees since 2000, 16 are female-driven (excluding 2002’s Chicago, which has an ensemble cast, and films where men and women have fairly equal roles). Only one of these films, 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, actually won. Of the other 16 — 2001’s Erin Brockovich, 2002’s The Hours, 2006’s The Queen, 2007’s Juno, 2008’s The Reader, 2009’s The Blind Side, »
- Anjelica Oswald
The 2014 fall awards season is off to a strong start with the unveiling of the nominees for this year’s Gotham Independent Film Awards. Though not as recognizable as the Oscars or Golden Globes, the Gotham Awards typically mark the start of awards season, honoring the best and brightest in independent cinema. Additionally, many of the films highlighted by the Gotham Awards go on to become Oscar frontrunners – last year’s most nominated film was eventual Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, and past winners have included Inside Llewyn Davis, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Hurt Locker.
This year looks to be no different, with assumed Oscar contenders like Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s technically dazzling Birdman and Richard Linklater’s ambitious 12-year project Boyhood in the mix. Excitingly, Wes Anderson’s brilliant The Grand Budapest Hotel, released way back in March, also made the cut, meaning that its »
- Isaac Feldberg
Excuse the absence in this column for the last few weeks. I’ve been covering the Chicago International Film Festival, catching up with a few of the Foreign Language Oscar contenders while there. Now however, many of these movies are finally making their ways into theaters, providing an extra wrinkle into the race as both critics and fans weigh in on their quality.
Birdman has finally arrived, and it’s everything the critics and the public have imagined. The film had a solid opening on just four theaters in its opening weekend, earning half a million dollars, and Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis and more have all been making the talk show rounds to promote this weird, goofy film everyone loves.
Kris Tapley went right out and handed Keaton the Oscar for Best Actor, writing “The emotional spectrum of this character, Riggan Thompson — who all actors will identify with at the end of the day, »
- Brian Welk
Gotham Awards 2014 nominations: Julianne Moore, Michael Keaton among famous names shortlisted Best Feature Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Boyhood Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, producers (IFC Films) The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson, director; Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Love Is Strange Ira Sachs, director; Lucas Joaquin, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, producers (Sony Pictures Classics) Under the Skin Jonathan Glazer, director; Nick Wechsler, James Wilson, producers (A24 Films) Best Actress Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (IFC Films) Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the Lights (Relativity Media) Julianne Moore in Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics) Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin (A24 Films) Mia Wasikowska in Tracks (The Weinstein Company) Best Actor Bill Hader »
- Steve Montgomery
Deemed as his career best, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood leads all nominations for the 24th Gotham Independent Film Awards with winks in the Best Feature, Best Actor (Ethan Hawke), Best Actress (Patricia Arquette) and Breakthrough Actor (Ellar Coltrane) while Birdman, Nightcrawler, Under the Skin and Dear White People technically place second with two noms a piece in the five possible categories. Arguably 2014′s most prolific indie film in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash failed to move the five-critic panels in the Best Film category and sans a Best Supporting category, means Miles Teller receives Best Award nom but J.K. Simmons will just have to wait it out for the Indie Spirit Awards to acknowledge his perf. A special Gotham Jury Award has already been awarded to the ensemble performance of the players of Foxcatcher (Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum) shrewd Vanessa Redgrave perhaps didn’t get enough screen time »
- Eric Lavallee
The Independent Filmmaker Project officially fired the starting gun on the film awards season as always this morning with the announcement of this year's Gotham Awards nominees. Unsurprisingly, the most high-profile indie in the race — "Boyhood" — drew the most nominations with a whopping four mentions, including Best Feature. That's extremely high for the Gotham Awards and it sends IFC's campaign sailing into the season with a huge burst of wind. Speaking of revving the campaign engine on an early year release, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" landed in the Best Feature category. Two years ago Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" won that category but still didn't end up with a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Can Fox Searchlight find better luck? And speaking of Searchlight, "Birdman" landed Best Feature and Best Actor nominations. Fully expected. Filling out the Best Feature category was Ira Sachs' beautiful "Love is Strange" and Jonathan Glazer »
- Kristopher Tapley
The Gotham Awards juried nominations have recently surplanted the ancient Nbr as the first real awards nomination/wins of the film year. That it happens in October is more than a little crazy, but what'cha gonna do? The New York centric film prizes, think of it as the Spirit Awards's East Coast Cousin albeit with far fewer prizes will be held on December 1st. Since they only have six categories and four separate juries (composed of critics and programmers), multiple nods aren't as easy to come by as they are at other shows but a handful of films managed it: Boyhood, Birdman, Dear White People, Nightcrawler, and Under the Skin.
Very happy to see the intensely moving Love is Strange, in constant danger of being undervalued, show up. Especially since it didn't show up anywhere else. 199 films were eligible for these honors. »
- NATHANIEL R
It's no real surprise to see Boyhood topping the this morning's Gotham Independent Film Awards nominations with four. The film is likely to lead the Spirit Award nominations as well. It will be the year's most highly touted independent feature, make several top ten lists and probably earn plenty of Oscar nominations if not a few wins. It's also no surprise to see Birdman get a couple noms. In fact, the only nomination I find particularly interesting here is the nomination for Oscar Isaac for his role in J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year. Primarily because critics have yet to see it and because the nomination committee clearly enjoyed Nightcrawler, but saw fit to nominate Isaac for A Most Violent Year, but not Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler. It's also a little disappointing to see Tom Hardy might end up being ignored even for independent awards for his performance in Locke, »
- Brad Brevet
And the Oscar season is off and running! Nominees for the 24th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards have been unleased and Richard Linklater's fantastic "Boyhood" led the pack with four nods including Best Feature, Best Actor for Ethan Hawke, Best Actress for Patricia Arquette, and Breakthrough Actor for Ellar Coltrane.
We'll find out the winners of the 2014 Gotham Awards on December 1st! Here's the complete list of nominees:
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
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