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A few evenings ago Matthew McConaughey took home the Best Actor award at the Oscars for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof, the epitome of American masculinity, who contacts HIV. For the role McConaughey lost over 50 pounds and looks a shadow of the usual dominating characters he has recently played (Killer Joe, Mud). On this note, it would be fitting to revisit some of the greatest transformations actors and actresses have gone through for a single performance.
Now, there are plenty of performances where the actor is almost unrecognisable due to special effects or incredible artistry and make up, but what this list is looking at, are the performances where a performer totally reinvents themselves on screen physically – you know the face on the screen, you’ve seen them in other films but you have to double take just to recognize them. So, sorry John Hurt, you’re wonderful turn as »
- Hassan Vawda
Spike Jonze can't speak for the Academy - who failed to nominate Scarlett Johansson for her critically-acclaimed voice performance in "Her" - but he, for one, was moved by the actress's portrayal of an artificially-intelligent operating system who falls in love with a human man. "I don't know enough about how the Academy decides that," said the director - talking backstage at the Oscars after winning Best Original Screenplay - of the organization's snub of Johansson's offscreen performance. "All I know is I saw what she did, and I loved what she did, and I was moved and affected by and watching her create that character even though it was just in a voice." Speaking of Jonze's big win on Sunday night, it came not for directing but for writing - the latter being a relatively new career path for the filmmaker behind such visionary efforts as "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation, »
- Chris Eggertsen
Now it’s gettin’ good, right? This section of the list begins to get into the portion where “you’ve heard it before.” A number of the films below have been universally acclaimed for one reason or another, but the focus here is on the writing. Some are innovative, some are unexpected, and some completed changed the way films were written, creating a new style or sub-genre. After all, isn’t that what makes for good writing?
30. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
I don’t wanna kill anybody. But if I gotta get out that door, and you’re standing in my way, one way or the other, you’re gettin’ outta my way.
Before he was one of the more recognizable directors in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino was a screenwriter just trying to make enough money to get the films he wanted to make off the ground. »
- Joshua Gaul
The ability to get viewers to suspened disbelief is an important part of the cinema going experience. It’s the reason we can enjoy movies set in a galaxy far, far away or watch a man age backwards with no qualms. The Academy has often looked to these films as nominees and with Her in the race, and gunning for a screenplay prize, it might behoove us to look at films that required the audience to engage in a different way.
There’s always been widespread like for movies that embrace fantastical elements and many of those movies have found themselves in conetnion for Oscar. More specifically, since 1985 when the twin bill of Back to the Future and Brazil was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, there have been several strong contenders for the two major categories Her finds itself nominated in, Best Picture and Original Screenplay. »
- Terence Johnson
Director: Sophie Barthes
U.S. Distributor: Rights Available
Her Sundance preemed Cold Souls, a zany, wry and at times acidic wink to Being John Malkovich-like and homage to Woody Allen was an overlooked oddity that worked with discriminating tastes and received a chickpea sized reception. A long six years later, we hope that her sophomore portrait and take on an a French classic feels fresh and falls along the lines of what Wuthering Heights turned out like under Andrea Arnold’s guise. Re-teaming with her hubby dp Andrij Parekh, Madame Bovary will definitely look the part and hopefully with the Ezra Miller and Mia Wasikowska pairing will bring us characters occupying hazardous emotional spaces. »
- Eric Lavallee
Run time: 2 hours, 6 minutes
DVD release date: Unknown
Box office: Domestic — $23.5 million, Foreign — $4.1 million
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94 percent
Tweetable description: A man and his wife break up and he turns to his sultry-voiced Os for love — and finds it.
What Chris Nashawaty said : “Jonze’s satiric, brave-new-world premise is undeniably clever, but it’s also a bit icy emotionally. He clearly has a lot on his mind about how seductive technology is and how much easier life would be if »
- Ariana Bacle
In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool! The Best Original Screenplay category is often something of a refuge from the Best Picture race -- a place where the Academy can show their appreciation for a smaller, hipper or more challenging contender that isn't likely to take the night's top prize. That's more or less the case this year, particularly with the otherwise formidable "Gravity" pointedly ignored here. As it is, four less imposing Best Picture nominees are in the running, with two in particular duking it out for the win, while the fifth is a category perennial (and the only former champ in the race) with no chance whatsoever of victory this time round. »
- Guy Lodge
Spike Jonze enters the world of cybersex with a curiously detached satire
As far as sci-fi cinema is concerned, there's nothing unusual about falling in love with a computer or conjuring your perfect partner from a keyboard. In the Frankenstein-inspired 80s teen comedy Weird Science, two teenagers brought dream girl Kelly LeBrock to life by wiring a Barbie doll to a computer, while Electric Dreams placed an operating system named Edgar in the middle of a love triangle with a musical twist. Harrison Ford's Deckard didn't seem to know whether he was human or robotic as he fell in love with a replicant in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. And in Andrew Niccol's S1m0ne, a film director creates a supposedly compliant virtual movie star with whom the whole world promptly becomes infatuated, forcing him into a lifelong relationship that begets digital children. Meanwhile, over in the real world, »
- Mark Kermode
What the hell has happened to John Cusack? Remember the glory days of Say Anything, Grosse Pointe Blank, High Fidelity and Being John Malkovich? Now he is giving us nonsense like The Raven, The Paperboy and this, Drive Hard. Above is the first trailer for Drive Hard, a crime thriller fronted by Cusack and Thomas Jane, that somehow stayed completely off our radar until now. It's a buddy comedy that follows the wild ride of a mysterious thief (Cusack) who kidnaps a race car driver turned driver's ed instructor (Jane), so he can be a reluctant getaway driver. Along the way, this odd couple will cross paths and piss off cops and gangsters. Damien Garcey, Christopher Morris, and Zoe Walker co-star. The Playlist has unearthed a couple of stills from the film, which you can see below. The first one has Cusack double-fisting a pair of guns, and in a »
The Ugly Behind-the-Scenes History of Video Game Movies
“Few Hollywood announcements are treated with such fierce-yet-wounded anticipation as video game adaptations. Full of incredible artistry, instantly-recognizable characters and an increasingly-mature approach to storytelling, you’d be forgiven for thinking gaming is a medium particularly well suited for making the jump to the silver screen. But history tells another story.”
Robocop: The Oral History
“A little more than 25 years ago, Orion Pictures released RoboCop, a grimly hysterical, hyper-violent satire masquerading as an action film. And despite spawning two sequels, a television series, some anime, and now a remake, the film’s success was inimitable. This is partly because RoboCop only really became a great film as it was made. Director Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct) worked tirelessly to revise scenes while actors like Kurtwood Smith, who plays Clarence Boddecker, the film’s main heavy, improvised some of the movie’s best lines. »
At every festival, there are “did you see that?” moments which create a buzz among audiences and critics. One such early example at this year’s Berlinale came midway through Josephine Decker’s hypnotic, farm-set thriller Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, when the point of view of a violent, ambiguously-rendered sexual encounter suddenly switches to that of a cow, through whose eyes we see the next few scenes. It’s a playful, idiosyncratic touch which recalls the chimp’s flashback in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich, although it would be wrong to attempt to draw obvious comparisons between Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and […] »
- Ashley Clark
There's a four-year hole on the actor's IMDb page after Walk The Line. But rather than playing games, he's given himself the freedom to make more interesting movies
Around halfway through I'm Still Here, the 2010 documentary chronicling Joaquin Phoenix's short-lived rap career and apparent retirement from acting, he undertakes a shambolic press junket, snapping when a journalist asks if it's all a hoax. "It's hard not to get offended, because you're talking about my life," barks Phoenix. "As if my life's a fuckin' joke to you."
It's moderately disconcerting, having recently watched that sequence, to be here in a hotel suite with Phoenix, another journalist talking about his life. When I enter the room, though, he's standing. His hair long from filming Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, he's seemingly ego-free, loose and engaged, joking around from the off. Throughout the interview there's never a sense that he's humouring me, »
- Alex Godfrey
By Mark Pinkert
Unlike the other Best Picture-nominated producers, who each have one film in a field of nine, Megan Ellison has two: American Hustle (directed by David O. Russell) and Her (directed by Spike Jonze). Both films have already hoarded numerous awards on the critics circuit, grossed a combined $200+ million worldwide, earned fifteen total Academy Award nominations, and both have a legitimate shot at winning the Best Picture prize–needless to say, it’s been a big year for Ellison. And what’s more interesting, perhaps, is that these are far and away the most eccentric films on the Best Picture ticket. This speaks, at least in part, to Megan Ellison’s producing style, which has raised a few eyebrows in Hollywood recently.
- Mark Pinkert
Starring Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers); Her recently bagged the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. It has been nominated for the Academy Awards 2014 in five categories including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
Set in Los Angeles, in the near future, Her follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive and unique entity in its own right.
It’s hard to know quite what to expect from an encounter with Spike Jonze. The first time I met him, for his 1999 directorial debut Being John Malkovich, he was cripplingly shy – barely able to get out a word. But today, dressed in a jacket and tie, and sitting in the early evening gloom in a London hotel, he’s quite the host. “You’re so much smarter than I am,” he says when I articulate one question about his new film Her. Well, that’s one way to get your interviewer on side. »
As a child of the 1980s, I was practically raised on Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I saw my first one, Dream Master, at age eight, when my friend’s parents weren’t home. I was hooked. Nancy Thompson was the epitome of the strong, smart teenager, a character which was not portrayed often enough in films (and still isn’t), so it was no surprise that I looked up to Nancy and the actress who portrayed her, Heather Langenkamp. What did surprise me was hearing how she never felt like she was “famous!”
It was my honor to chat with Heather about the epic, four-hour documentary Never Sleep Again, which explores every single entry into the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. In addition to starring in the documentary and doing the voice over, Heather was an executive producer on the project. We spoke about gathering players from the Nightmare universe to participate, »
- Alyse Wax
In his 30-year career as a composer, Carter Burwell’s film scores have run the veritable cinematic gamut. From composing for Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., Where the Wild Things Are) to his work being the best parts of the Twilight saga, Burwell’s résumé is sporadic and unconventional, even for a man who makes film music for a living — it’s fitting, given his less-than-conventional roots as a cartoonist for The Harvard Lampoon and later as a vagrant New York punk rocker. Undoubtedly, Burwell’s become best known for the his collaborations with Joel and Ethan Coen. Last week, Sound on Sight ranked the films of the Coen Brothers, so what better way to take over The Big Score than with a similarly themed meditation on their work with Burwell? As much as the Coens’ filmography is defined by their trademark cynicism and wit, Burwell’s compositions are »
- David Klein
We all use technology to escape from our lives. But sometimes you need to see a film about a man having sex with his phone for it to really hit home
I have lived in Britain long enough to know that enthusiasm and cheerleading will never get you much credibility here – deprecation, misanthropy and a dash of inverse snobbery are the far cooler attitudes to adopt – so I apologise for the upcoming expression of total and unabashed positivity: there are so many brilliant films around at the moment. Go immerse yourselves in some Noel Gallagher interviews now to recover from that.
Whereas last year's awards big hitters felt like a giant shrug of middle-of-the-road meh-ness – Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserfreakingables – this year proffers films people might actually want to see more than once. Loath as I am to disagree with Joe Queenan, the best of the awards-lauded films this year – Dallas Buyers Club, »
- Hadley Freeman
Feature Louisa Mellor 28 Jan 2014 - 07:00
With new seasons of Veep, Louie, Orange Is The New Black and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on their way to join successful new arrival Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Us sitcom is already looking not too shabby for the months ahead.
With the best information available at the time of writing, here’s our pick of the year ahead's most promising-sounding Us comedy pilots (many of which are already confirmed as going to series) by that guy who did that thing you liked »
Spike Jonze is, despite proof consisting only of four features, one of the best filmmakers working today. His latest, Her handily verifies it. It seems difficult to justify seeing it on paper, but look at the evidence closer: Quickly evolving from producer/co-creator of MTV’s juvenilia celebration Jackass, to directing music videos (granted, award-winning ones), Jonze saw an Oscar nod for Best Director his first time out at the helm of a feature-length film (Being John Malkovich). He and eminently postmodern screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann followed up Malkovich with the equally solipsistic Adaptation., a film that, while just as assured a »
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