12 items from 2015
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of "Crash" (on May 6, 2005), an all-star movie whose controversy came not from its provocative treatment of racial issues but from its Best Picture Oscar victory a few months later, against what many critics felt was a much more deserving movie, "Brokeback Mountain."
The "Crash" vs. "Brokeback" battle is one of those lingering disputes that makes the Academy Awards so fascinating, year after year. Moviegoers and critics who revisit older movies are constantly judging the Academy's judgment. Even decades of hindsight may not always be enough to tell whether the Oscar voters of a particular year got it right or wrong. Whether it's "Birdman" vs. "Boyhood," "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network," "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" or even "An American in Paris" vs. "A Streetcar Named Desire," we're still confirming the Academy's taste or dismissing it as hopelessly off-base years later. »
- Gary Susman
This review contains spoilers.
6.9 Grifting 101
Full-on parodies have been in short supply this season and it's with some gusto that the latest episode lampoons 1973's Best Picture winner The Sting. Like the movie and the episode itself, this review will be about 20% hand-drawn. You should also probably play this in the background as you read...
Grifting 101 is the first episode of the season to find the students among our group - Abed, Annie, Britta, Chang and Elroy - actually going to class. Specifically, they're wound up about the titular class, where they expect to become master con-artists. Jeff is sceptical (and maybe a little jealous) which only spurs the group on further.
But when their double-dealing professor (played by the one and only Matt Berry) charges them $150 for »
Has any contemporary movie star more intriguingly chafed at the gilded prison of stardom than Robert Redford? Certainly, he was not the first — or the last — matinee idol who endeavored to show us there was more to him than just a pretty face (or, in Redford’s particular case, that California tan, those blazing baby blues, and that wonderfully, ridiculously tousled hair).
Some actors, so inclined, stretch themselves in their choice of material; others add producing, directing, and even political activism to the mix. But “Bob” did all that and still felt somehow unfulfilled. So, rather like a fussy housewife forever rearranging the living room furniture, he gazed out at a sizable property he owned in the mountains of Utah and thought that an institute devoted to the cultivation and support of American independent filmmakers might look awfully nice over there.
If Sundance now seems nearly as iconic as Redford himself, »
- Scott Foundas
In Focus, Will Smith's first film since 2013, the superstar plays Nicky, a long-time conman who is planning his last big score, but ends up reuniting with a con woman who he trained years before.
The film, which performed mildly at the box office in its debut this weekend, joins the ranks of Hollywood's long love affair with the art of the con.
In celebration of this newest entry in the grifter genre, here are nine of the best conman movies ever made.
(Note: This list doesn't include movies about heists that happen to involve conmen -- i.e. Ocean's Eleven or The Heist -- just films that celebrate the age of tradition of swindling.)
9. Matchstick Men (2003): Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell play con artists who are planning one of the biggest scams of their careers. Things get complicated when Cage's teenage daughter shows up and »
★★☆☆☆ Heist movies are meant to be sexy and slick, where the underdog comes out on top thanks to their cunning and skill. Immediately we think of the sparkling smile of Robert Redford in 1973's The Sting, the undeniable charm of Clooney's Danny Ocean or the tenacity of De Niro's Neil McCauley. However, with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's Focus (2015), starring Will Smith as cock-sure conman, feels like a limp imitation. Focus glides along too comfortably, far more interested in the authenticity of the terminology and on the practicalities of street level swindles. It might be accurate, but it's at the expensive of structure and is too wrapped up in the idea of conning the audience, culminating in underwhelming grand reveal.
- CineVue UK
Big Willy’s latest big screen outing makes its way to the multiplex this month. In Focus, Smith plays the consummate con man, a smooth operator who liberates people of their wealth with the help of a Margot Robbie-shaped femme fatale.
The duo of tricksters aren’t the first con artists to grace the silver screen however. So from pool sharks and grifters to tricksters, card cheats and American hustlers; here’s our rundown of the most memorable con artists in movie history.
One of the finest fraudster films to ever grace the multiplex; The Hustler stars Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, a pool shark intent on toppling legendary cue-man Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). With its smoky sets, stunning black and white cinematography and superb performances from Newman and Gleason; the film is just as good today as it was on its release more than 50 years ago. »
- Daniel Bettridge
It’s It's an oft-echoed sentiment that movies are made in the cutting room, so the Academy Award for Best Film Editing is a cherished trophy indeed. First, some guild award stats: since 1963, the American Cinema Editors have correctly predicted the eventual Oscar winner 36 times (in years when the award has been split between Dramatic and Musical/Comedy Editing, the specific prize given has been noted): 1963: Harold F. Kress, “How the West Was Won” 1964: Cotton Warburton, “Mary Poppins” 1965: William Reynolds, “The Sound of Music” 1968: Frank P. Keller, “Bullitt” 1970: Hugh S. Fowler, “Patton” 1972: David Bretherton, “Cabaret” 1973: William Reynolds, “The Sting” 1975: Verna Fields, “Jaws” 1976: Richard Halsley and Scott Conrad, “Rocky” 1978: Peter Zinner, “The Deer Hunter” 1979: Alan Heim, “All That Jazz” 1980: Thelma...' »
Young Robert Redford and politics: 'The Candidate' and 'All the President's Men' (photo: Robert Redford as Bob Woodward in 'All the President's Men') A young Robert Redford can be seen The Candidate, All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, and Downhill Racer as Turner Classic Movies' Redford series comes to a close this evening. The world of politics is the focus of the first three films, each one of them well-regarded box-office hits. The last title, which shows that politics is part of life no matter what, is set in the world of competitive sports. 'The Candidate' In the Michael Ritichie-directed The Candidate (1972), Robert Redford plays idealistic liberal Democrat Bob McKay, who, with no chance of winning, is convinced to run against the Republican incumbent in a fight for a California seat in Congress. See, McKay is too handsome. Too young. Too liberal. »
- Andre Soares
Robert Redford: 'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Way We Were' tonight on Turner Classic Movies Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month Robert Redford returns this evening with three more films: two Sydney Pollack-directed efforts, Out of Africa and The Way We Were, and Jack Clayton's film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby. (See TCM's Robert Redford film schedule below. See also: "On TCM: Robert Redford Movies.") 'The Great Gatsby': Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby Released by Paramount Pictures, the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby had prestige oozing from just about every cinematic pore. The film was based on what some consider the greatest American novel ever written. Francis Ford Coppola, whose directing credits included the blockbuster The Godfather, and who, that same year, was responsible for both The Godfather Part II and The Conversation, penned the adaptation. Multiple Tony winner David Merrick (Becket, »
- Andre Soares
Robert Redford: 'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Way We Were' tonight on Turner Classic Movies Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month Robert Redford returns this evening with three more films: two Sydney Pollack-directed efforts, Out of Africa and The Way We Were, and Jack Clayton's film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby. (See TCM's Robert Redford film schedule below. See also: "On TCM: Robert Redford Movies.") 'Out of Africa' Out of Africa (1985) is an unusual Robert Redford star vehicle in that the film's actual lead isn't Redford, but Meryl Streep -- at the time seen as sort of a Bette Davis-Alec Guinness mix: like Davis, Streep received a whole bunch of Academy Award nominations within the span of a few years: from 1978-1985, she was shortlisted for no less than six movies.* Like Guinness, Streep could transform »
- Andre Soares
Robert Redford movies: TCM shows 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,' 'The Sting' They don't make movie stars like they used to, back in the days of Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, and Harry Cohn. That's what nostalgists have been bitching about for the last four or five decades; never mind the fact that movie stars have remained as big as ever despite the demise of the old studio system and the spectacular rise of television more than sixty years ago. This month of January 2015, Turner Classic Movies will be honoring one such post-studio era superstar: Robert Redford. Beginning this Monday evening, January 6, TCM will be presenting 15 Robert Redford movies. Tonight's entries include Redford's two biggest blockbusters, both directed by George Roy Hill and co-starring Paul Newman: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which turned Redford, already in his early 30s, into a major film star to rival Rudolph Valentino, »
- Andre Soares
#20. The Exorcist (1973)
Lost to: The Sting
Crammed in between two Best Picture wins for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather” films was an interesting little year that rewarded another pairing of Robert Redford and Paul Newman (trivia: “The Sting’s” Julia Phillips is the first time female producer to ever win Best Picture). The other big landmark – the first time a purely horror film was nominated for Best Picture. “The Exorcist” was nominated for ten Oscars, winning for Sound and Adapted Screenplay. The horrifying story of a young girl possessed was, rumor has it, cursed as they tried to complete the film. This film about the struggle between faith and sin is possibly the most important horror film of all time.
#19. Avatar (2009)
Lost to: The Hurt Locker
The year after “The Dark Knight” and “Wall-e” missed out on Best Picture nominations, the Academy decided to change the rules and allow ten nominees. »
- Joshua Gaul
12 items from 2015
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