18 items from 2015
It's often the case that period stories can tell us more about our current society than those set in the present day. In his first non-contemporary script, writer-director Jc Chandor probes at urgent ideas about gun control and proportional response within the framework of a brooding, meticulous crime drama.
In the grim winter of 1981, statistically one of the most crime-ridden years in New York's chequered history, principled oil entrepreneur Abel (Oscar Isaac) is trying to forge a righteous path amidst the chaos. His oil trucks are being hijacked at gunpoint, attracting the kind of attention he doesn't need from the district attorney (David Oyelowo), and he's on the brink of losing a crucial real estate deal thanks to his snowballing misfortune.
The idea of man wrestling with forces beyond his control is common throughout Chandor's work, »
Manuel here taking the Mlk holiday to discuss the cinematography category in terms of its aversion to honor black faces.
Young on the Selma set
Amidst all the outrage surrounding Selma’s near-shutout at the Academy Awards (nabbing only two nominations in Best Picture and Best Original Song), the focus has been on Ava DuVernay’s absence in the unsurprisingly male best director lineup and David Oyelowo’s absence in the unsurprisingly white best actor lineup. I want to focus today on Bradford Young’s absence in the best cinematography lineup. Had Young been nominated, he’d have been only the second African-American black D.P. [Ed. Note: thanks for correcting me on this crucial distinction, Ian & 3rtful] to be nominated for an Oscar (the first and only so far is Remi Adefarasin, nominated for his beautiful work on Elizabeth). Of course, this also reveals the systemic lack of diversity that Tfe bestie Jessica Chastain brought up just last week at the Critic’s Choice Awards. »
- Manuel Betancourt
Well, with last Thursday's announcement of the Oscar nominations, the sometimes ratings-challenged Academy Awards got all the traditional media and online attention they could have wished for. Too bad almost all of the attention was negative.
Usually, Oscar controversies are about taste -- whether "Crash" was really better than "Brokeback Mountain," or whether "Shakespeare in Love" was really better than "Saving Private Ryan." This year's controversy over "Selma," however, is shining an unflattering light on Hollywood's racial politics.
The snubbing of "Selma" in every category except Best Song and, curiously, Best Picture -- that's only part of what has professional and amateur critics up in arms. As many have noted, this year is the first since 1998 that no actors of color have been nominated. The nominations list has drawn predictable condemnation from the likes of Spike Lee and Rev. Al Sharpton, who has threatened to go to Hollywood and take »
- Gary Susman
Pissed about Selma director Ava DuVernay‘s Oscar snub for Best Director? How about its leading man David Oyelowo being overlooked for Best Actor? And what about the film’s director of photographer Bradford Young‘s shutout from the Best Cinematography category? I am too, but let’s try to make sense of it all, and figure out how to avoid it in the future.
It almost makes no sense why each individual was left unrecognized by the Academy. First, Selma is the stuff Oscar dreams are made of. It’s a focused, ever-relevant, politically charged biopic about overcoming the odds, in the vein of Oscar winners The King’s Speech and The Hurt Locker. Oyelowo plays a well-known, not to mention beloved, public figure, Martin Luther King Jr., with such conviction and empathy that he disappears into the role, no different from the way Joaquin Phoenix embodied Johnny Cash »
- Tara Aquino
Eight was the magic number for the Academy’s Best Picture lineup this year, with voters nominating awards season stalwarts “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Imitation Game” and “Theory of Everything” along with this year’s indie stand-out “Whiplash,” the late-surging “American Sniper,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and the civil rights drama “Selma,” which marched into the field despite being snubbed in the writing, directing and acting categories.
See photos: Oscars 2015: The Nominees (Photos)
- Jeff Sneider
The big kahuna, the best picture category holds the key to all the other categories essentially. If you guess wrong here there's a domino effect since contributing to one of the 800 lb gorillas will always give you an advantage -- you can see that effect most clearly each year in the "contemporary" sections of the various guild awards when Bp frontrunners always show up, no matter what films had more impressive achievements in that craft that particular year. The past few weeks have been tumultuous beyond the three locked up frontrunners: Boyhood, Birdman and The Imitation Game. You can also count on The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory of Everything since neither has faltered with precursors and both were surprising hits with audiences - yes even Theory (see Tina & Amy's great Golden Globes joke 'combines two things audiences love: crippling nerve disorders and super complicated »
- NATHANIEL R
If you don’t know the name Bradford Young by now, you soon will. The 37-year old cinematographer had quite the year in 2014, lensing two of the holiday season’s most acclaimed films: Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” and J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year.” I remember seeing his name on the 2011 Sundance smash “Pariah,” but the first time I really took notice of his work was in 2013's “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.” The film itself is a wonky, lovers-on-the-run murder ballad with a surplus of Malick-esque voiceover, but Young’s images stuck with me: of Casey Affleck’s mud-caked torso after he escapes from prison, of sun-kissed vistas rippling with shards of gleaming light, of the dank and darkened interior of a sinister watering hole where character actor Nate Parker is the proprietor. The images he creates feel natural and real while also possessing an undeniable propensity for myth and awe. »
- Nicholas Laskin
The Oscar nominations are nearly upon us! Can you feel the excitement in the air? I can tell you’re just buzzing.
Perhaps you should be, because however small it is, the announcement of Thursday morning’s Oscar nominations will be a historic moment. All 24 categories, not just a select few, will be announced during the morning broadcast. Yes, even Best Sound Mixing and Best Documentary Short Film You Never Got The Chance to See. J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine and Alfonso Cuaron will do the honors starting at 8:30 Et, 5:30 Pt.
Though everyone and their brother is making absolute final last minute Oscar predictions as though all their misguided predictions throughout the fall didn’t matter, we thought we’d throw our hat in the ring at least once, draw a line in the sand and make sense of all we’ve been reporting on this Awards Season in our Hype Cycle feature. »
- Brian Welk
Compared to everything Martin Luther King Jr. achieved during his lifetime, Selma showcases but a fraction of his accomplishments. Of course that fraction is one of the biggest triumphs of his lifetime. It was a turning point for so many in America and a cornerstone in the Civil Rights Movement. Selma doesn’t try to be an all-encompassing look at Martin Luther King (played with gusto by David Oyelowo); it simply chronicles the events leading up to a march Dr. King led from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama that occurred in 1965 as a protest to institute a unencumbered equal rights voting bill. It quickly becomes evident though that this isn’t just King’s show. There are a number of people that led to the formation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and learning about the secondary characters in Selma is just as important to the film as King’s many, »
- Michael Haffner
The awards nominations keep on coming. Fresh off today’s batch of somewhat surprising WGA Awards nods, the American Society of Cinematographers have announced the nominees for their awards. Emmanuel Lubezki unsurprisingly made the cut for his stunning work on Birdman, and it seems almost like a foregone conclusion that he’ll be winning his second Oscar in a row after last year’s Gravity. The Asc Awards also recognized perennial Oscar bridesmaid Roger Deakins for his reliably breathtaking work on Unbroken, and he may be headed for his 10th Academy Award nomination (still no win though). The biggest oversights here, in my opinion, are the lack of nods for Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year) and Robert Elswit (Inherent Vice, Nightcrawler), who both pulled double duty this year to phenomenal results. Though I have a feeling Young will get into the Oscar race for Selma. Check out the »
- Adam Chitwood
Last year a tie resulted in seven nominees instead of five, but this year the American Society of Cinematographers (Asc) deliver five nominees for their 2015 award for the best cinematography in 2014's features. Among the nominees are the expected in Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman and Dick Pope for his painterly Mr. Turner, but from there I can't say I was certain any one of these DPs would be nominated. Oscar Faura's work on The Imitation Game was impressive for the way it stuck strictly with Benedict Cumberbatch's perspective as Alan Turing and I love seeing Robert D. Yeoman getting some recognition for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I have to say, I can't support the Roger Deakins nomination for his work on Angelina Jolie's Unbroken as pretty as some moments may be and as raw as the several torture scenes may be, I just »
- Brad Brevet
It was a pretty stellar year once again for cinematography and I don't envy the members of the American Society of Cinematographers (Asc) their duty of narrowing it down to the top tier. Last year they didn't even bother narrowing — they settled on a whopping seven nominees. Why not? The more the merrier when the work is this good. No such luck this year, however, as we're back to five. And I must say, with two excellent pieces of work this year, I'm super bummed that Robert Elswit didn't make this list. I would have liked to see Bradford Young get the love, too, but I have no doubt he'll get his laurels in due time. "Birdman," "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Imitation Game" remain strong as the only films so far to pick up nods from all guilds (we'll see how that shifts throughout the day). "The Imitation Game »
- Kristopher Tapley
Selma is not only my favorite film of 2014, I also happen to think it’s hands down the best. There are a number of reasons why it’s so great, but one is David Oyelowo’s spectacular performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s not simply a hagiographic portrayal of a hero figure; it’s a complex portrait of a man who did great things, but who was also human. He felt fear, he felt frustration, he felt regret, and Oyelowo imbues his portrayal with these traits that elevate the performance from mere emulation to embodiment. A new Selma featurette has been released in which Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay, and others talk about his performance, and the clips used are a fantastic tease of his excellent work—and that of cinematographer Bradford Young. Watch the new Selma featurette after the jump, and click here to check out Perri »
- Adam Chitwood
Are there any cinematographers currently working today who are getting more attention and acclaim than Bradford Young? With 2 films he shot now in release - "A Most Violent Year" and "Selma" - and with a very impressive list of past credits, including "Pariah," "Mississippi Damned," "Mother of George" and, upcoming, Ed Zwick’s "Pawn Sacrifice," Young has become a cinematographer who raises the quality level of every film he works on. No wonder he’s on practically every filmmaker’s short list of cinematographers they most want to work with. But how did he get his start? What is it like being one of the very few black »
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'Selma' movie review: Politically salient in the early 21st century and 'beautiful in all the ways of cinema' (photo: David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. in 'Selma') The title of director Ava DuVernay's historical drama Selma tells us what the film is about, while implying what it isn't about. In other words, Selma is not about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- wonderfully played by British actor David Oyelowo -- even though the reverend is the film's gravitational center and its emotional weight accrues to him. Just like what took place in Selma, Alabama, back in 1965. In fact, Oyelowo's presence is as transfixing as that of the young Ben Kingsley in his transformative interpretation of Gandhi in Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 titular classic about one of Dr. King's inspirational figures. Unlike Gandhi, however, Selma is a single canvas on which a few months in Dr. »
- Tim Cogshell
The on-going film vs. digital debate seemed to reach a bit of a fever pitch in 2014. A lot of that had to do with the fight by filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan to maintain Kodak's production of film stock. It was a fight they won in August, while the industry at large would surely prefer to march headlong into the (more affordable) future of ones and zeroes. But this "debate" has remained a somewhat nuanced one, even as the separate passionate sides have presented it as cut and dried. Archivally, with the expanded shelf life of celluloid and in the face of file type obsolescence, maintaining the production of film stock is absolutely crucial. Aesthetically, it will always come down to preference, of course. But beyond even that, digital encroachment has meant more opportunity for young artists to break into the form, and that's the position »
- Kristopher Tapley
Erik Lundegaard great movie quotes of the year
Variety Selma will be screened for free in its titular city
/Film Yes, Emily Blunt is aware that the internet would like her to play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel film
The Feminist Spectator is justifiably miffed that Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game can't be bothered to pay more attention to women or pass »
- NATHANIEL R
18 items from 2015
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