8 items from 2014
Shipping Out: Johnson’s Sophomore Effort Misses the Boat
Director Liza Johnson follows up her 2011 directorial debut, Return, with Hateship Loveship, an adaptation of a short story by Alice Munro (whose works was also the basis for Sarah Polley’s Away From Her, 2006). Johnson revisits favored motifs, a central female character struggling to fit into an assigned part she has no interest in playing, as well as high profile casting in throwaway supporting roles that similarly plague this outing. Despite a committed performance from Wiig, the film feels discombobulated, a Cinderella of the slums fairy tale tinged with minor classist woes that’s nicely trimmed into all’s-wells-that-ends well blandness.
With Johanna’s (Kristen Wiig) last elderly ward recently deceased, she takes a new job in Iowa as the caretaker for motherless teen (and woefully named) Sabitha (Hailee Stanfield), who’s being raised by her well-heeled grandpa (Nick Nolte). Sabitha’s dad, »
- Nicholas Bell
Justin Chang: Scott, I know it will come as little surprise to you that when Peter Debruge and I sat down to discuss this year’s Oscar nominees for best supporting actor and supporting actress, we spent almost as much time talking about the performances that should have been nominated as we did talking about the ones that actually were. This is hardly a new ax for any critic to grind, but it bears repeating: Those who vote on the Academy Awards are largely in the business of making movies — not seeing them, thinking about them and writing about them week in and week out. No wonder this organization’s choices often strike us as so pedestrian and provincial, less engaged by the boundary-expanding possibilities of cinema than beholden to the power of hometown hype.
See Also: Oscars Picks: Variety Critics on Who Should Win Best Supporting Actor »
- Justin Chang and Scott Foundas
What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream.
new to stream
A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman: Python-esque collection of animated shorts tell a true fiction of the late comedian [at Lovefilm]
British films you missed
Fast Girls: standard underdog sports flick is totally predictable yet wholly infectious, with a brute bodily exuberance of competition and movement [my review] [at Lovefilm] Hunky Dory: charming tale of a 1970s schoolteacher struggling to put on a rock musical with less than cooperative students; Minnie Driver is fab [at Lovefilm] The Look of Love: the entertaining lead performance by Steve Coogan cannot quite make up for poorly fleshed-out characters or a rote narrative [my review] [at Lovefilm] Tyrannosaur: brutally good performances by Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, and Eddie Marsan in a story about violent men; pity it has less sympathy for their women victims [my review] [at Lovefilm]
streaming now, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
The Oscars are uncomfortably close. We’re less than three weeks away from the big moment where Judi Dench will (hopefully) cackle menacingly as her Notes on a Scandal costar Cate Blanchett picks up a second statue. “You’re a vampire!” Cate will holler from the stage. And I’ll jump into the TV.
The point is it’s time to think about actresses in a big way. Today’s topic: the 10 greatest losing Best Actress nominees of the past 10 years. Forget “winning performances” like Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side or Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line. These are the runners-up whose work also deserved formal, fabulous recognition. (Keep in mind I’m not necessarily saying these actresses should’ve won, but I will tell you who they were up against.)
Natalie Portman’s win »
- Louis Virtel
The screen adaptation of the Penguin Canada book about Toronto’s controversial major will be produced by Blue Ice’s Daniel Iron (“Away From Her”) and Lance Samuels (“The Book of Negroes”). Blue Ice is headquartered in Toronto, with offices in L.A., London and South Africa.
Doolittle, who appeared on “The Daily Show” Feb. 6, was one of three journalists to view the infamous “crack video” that brought Ford to worldwide attention. Doolittle is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates and Great North Artists Management.
“If you tried to make this story up, people would think it was over the top,” commented Doolittle. “The Rob Ford investigation is something I’ve been working on for more than two years. It’s so »
- Jennie Punter
Even if you don’t buy into the game and you prefer not to live in a world in which the term “Oscar snub” is used with a straight face, sometimes a lack of recognition for worthy nominees can still sting a little. Such was the case with the conspicuous absence of Sarah Polley’s name when the Best Documentary Feature nominees were announced two weeks ago. After two strong narrative explorations of romantic relationships in the bitter winter of old age and the summer splendor of late youth (Away From Her and Take This Waltz, respectively), Polley redirected her interest in the world of human coupling by turning the camera on herself – or, more accurately, her family, or, even more accurately, who she thinks may be her family, or… Well, just see it if you haven’t already, because Stories We Tell is one of the more passionate, involving, and »
- Landon Palmer
Now that Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"), Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto ("Dallas Buyers Club") won both Golden Globes and SAG Awards, they seem like shoo-ins to snag Oscars next. Below: what happened to other stars with that same double whammy. Lead Actor: 13 of 19 men won at both ceremonies. The only one to not win at the Oscars was Russell Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind") who lost there in 2001 to Denzel Washington ("Training Day"). Lead Actress: 11 of 19 women won at both ceremonies; the only one to not win at the Oscars was Julie Christie ("Away From Her") who lost there in 2007 to Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"). Supporting Actor: Only 7 of 19 men won at both ceremonies; the only one to not win at the Oscars was Eddie Murphy ("Dreamgirls") who lost there in 2006 to Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine"). -Break- Supporting Actress (does not apply this year since winne »
The Golden Globes. They’re my favorite. Who will win? It honestly depends on how drunk everyone is. But before the champagne flows like rich dialogue out of the mouth of Cate Blanchett, here are my seven big dreams for Sunday’s ceremony.
1. American Hustle wins nothing.
Confession: Mysteriously, I have seen this twice. I didn’t like it the first time when I saw it alone, and then my family wanted to see something together on Christmas and we chose this. Um? What an unnecessarily convoluted parade of overwrought performances and plot points? Only Amy Adams manages to shine with her character’s huge but believable shifts from self-confidence to pure nervous terror. Otherwise it’s the same David O. Russell situation: Abhorrent, ridiculous men kick ass and take names while the women lose their sh*t and holler a lot. I really didn’t understand Jennifer Lawrence‘s character, »
- Louis Virtel
8 items from 2014
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