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"Do you ever think you’ve seen things or done things that you wish you hadn’t?" goes the new trailer for "American Sniper." For those who haven’t, the two-minute sizzle reel is happy to oblige. Starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, considered one of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, "American Sniper" jumps back and forth between military operations and the Seal's life back at home. He struggles on both fronts. The film costars Sienna Miller, Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes, Navid Negahban and Keir O’Donnell, but seems to entrench itself inside Kyle’s mind as he navigates his noble and peculiar life. The film comes from Clint Eastwood, the man behind such war pictures as "Flags of Our Fathers," "Letters from Iwo Jima," and "Jersey Boys" (maybe that last one just felt that way). The film earned lackluster reviews out of its AFI Fest »
- Matt Patches
It was a year of many tortured geniuses onscreen — Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, J.M.W. Turner, Brian Wilson — and behind the scenes, where directors like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Paul Schrader fought producers and distributors over final cut, and the right to see their films properly released. Of course, the very idea of distribution has become nearly as diffuse in the digital era as that of film itself, a material on which few movies are still made and even fewer shown — unless you happen to be Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino or Christopher Nolan, who earned the ire of some theater owners when he demanded they reinstall 35mm projectors if they wanted to screen his “Interstellar” two days early. In light of the film’s $600 million worldwide gross (and counting), one can only say: poor them.
Speaking of “Interstellar,” if there was one undeniable constant at the movies in 2014, it was time, »
- Scott Foundas
Paul Haggis will receive a career achievement honor at the 2015 Writers Guild Awards' New York ceremony on Feb. 14, it was announced Monday. Haggis will be honored with the Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement. Read more Writers Guild Nominates 'Transparent' and 'True Detective' for TV Kudos Haggis is the only person in Oscar history to have written back-to-back best picture winners in 2005's Million Dollar Baby and 2006's Crash. He also wrote the Oscar-nominated Letters From Iwo Jima; two James Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace; and TV shows Walker, Texas Ranger
- Hilary Lewis
The Writers Guild of America East has selected Paul Haggis to receive the Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement.
Haggis is the only writer to have won back-to-back screenwriting Oscars, for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash.”
The honor will be presented at the 67th annual Writers Guild Awards at the Edison Ballroom in New York City on Feb. 14.
Haggis has been a member of the WGA since 1981. His screen credits include “Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace,” while his TV credits include “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Thirtysomething,” which earned him Emmys for writing in a drama series and outstanding drama series.
“In a career stretching from episodic television to major feature films -– and at a time when, more than ever, a national dialogue is needed on such difficult topics as race and war — Paul Haggis has provoked audiences into facing the reality of a »
- Dave McNary
Will a foreign-language film ever win an Oscar for best picture? The odds looked a bit more favorable when, in 2009, the Academy opted to increase its top category to 10 nominees — a tactic that was clearly aimed at better accommodating the Christopher Nolan movies of the world, but also one that, some of us dared to hope, might have the happy side effect of allowing a subtitled offering to slip into the running.
Since that overhaul (during which the Academy has gone from 10 best picture nominees to a more flexible “between five and 10”), exactly one offshore production, Michael Haneke’s French-language “Amour,” has benefited from the expansion. Progress of a sort, perhaps, especially considering that before “Amour,” the Academy had seen fit to nominate only eight such films for its top prize (roughly one per decade).
Yet it’s still disappointingly paltry, given the rich bounty of first-rate imports we’ve »
- Justin Chang
It's that time of the year again. Which is to say that it isn't, yet, but it's close enough for us all to start speculating.
The 2015 Oscar nominations won't be announced until January, and thanks to the peculiarities of transatlantic release schedules, many of these contenders will barely have reached UK shores by then.
But we've now seen enough of the heavy-hitters to have a decent sense of how the next awards season is shaping up, and below we've rounded up our best guesses for the ten films that will dominate this year's Academy Awards.
Scroll all the way to the bottom to see our complete list of predictions for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Bennett Miller's brooding true crime drama emerged as one of the year's earliest awards season frontrunners when it opened at Cannes, centring on »
Almost every year, Clint Eastwood attempts to have an Oscar contender ready to drop into the race. Sometimes, those campaigns pan out, as when Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) drummed up Academy support. Recently, however, Eastwood films like Hereafter, J. Edgar and Jersey Boys have failed to generate awards heat. Will American Sniper connect with voters, or fizzle out before the race even begins? We discuss the film.s prospects in this week.s Awards Blend podcast. Not a lot has changed this week, as few movies that haven.t already been seen chose to show their cards. Most of us are still waiting on Angelina Jolie.s Unbroken, which held its world premiere in Australia (but is under strict embargo for every print outlet). Movies like Selma and American Sniper did start screening for wider critical audiences, however, and I.ve shifted the charts accordingly based »
Normally, by mid-November, we have a pretty good idea of many of the likely nominees in most of the crafts categories. But in this year's race for Best Sound Mixing, I see things as extremely open — there's not a single film that strikes me as assured of a spot and more than a dozen appear to have very good chances. That makes for an exciting race. This category awards the overall mix of dialogue, music, effects and "everything else" into a film's soundtrack. This is different than sound editing, which recognizes the creation and editing of artificial sound effects. Being a leading Best Picture contender can certainly help a film's chances in mixing (seen in "The Social Network," "The King's Speech" and "Moneyball" in recent years), as can being a war film, a musical or a respected (or even not-so-respected) blockbuster. There are also certain mixers who score very regularly indeed. »
- Gerard Kennedy
Bill Ireton, President and Representative Director of Warner Entertainment Japan is to step down from his post in March. Ireton has been with Warner Bros for 26 years and has been instrumental in its Japanese operations, including several successful local-language films. Millard Ochs will take over as head of the studio’s Japanese business and will begin working with Ireton in December.
This year will be Warner Entertainment Japan’s most profitable since 2009. While box office in Japan for imports has dropped somewhat over the past few years, local movies are riding high. Warner produced late-2014 box office hits Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, which together are expected to gross nearly $90M.
Along with the Rurouni movies, Ireton shepherded such films as 2010′s Saigo No Chushingura, 2011′s Paradise Kiss, 2013′s The Straw Shield and Yurusarezarumono, and this year’s Kurohitsuji. Initially, Ireton established a »
- Nancy Tartaglione
As the end of the year approaches, the number of question marks in the Oscar ranks continues to sink lower. This past week, Selma, American Sniper, The Gambler and A Most Violent Year all dropped at AFI Fest, leaving only movies like Unbroken (still presumed to be a front-runner in a crowded field), Exodus: Gods and Kings (possibly not an awards movie at all), Big Eyes, and Into the Woods (who knows?) still unseen.
Did these newcomers make an impact worthy of making the charts? Let’s explore below.
It seemed like just a few weeks ago Selma might not even be completed in time for a serious awards push. This week Oprah convinced Director Ava DuVernay to screen the whole film rather than just a 30-minute preview, and the gamble paid off in spades.
- Brian Welk
- Sasha Stone
Above: the November/December issue of Film Comment is upon us, featuring pieces on Interstellar, Inherent Vice, and Adieu au langage. The full program for BAMcinématek's 6th annual Migrating Forms festival has been announced. Soon-Mi Yoo's Songs From the North will be the opening film (check out our interview with Soon-Mi here), and Notebook contributor and friend Gina Telaroli's Here's to the Future! has its world premiere on December 13th. The full details can be seen here. The first reviews are in for Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. Here's Justin Chang's take for Variety:
"Although Steven Spielberg was set to direct before exiting the project last summer (just a few months after Kyle’s death in Texas at the age of 38), “American Sniper” turns out to be very much in Eastwood’s wheelhouse, emerging as arguably the director’s strongest, most sustained effort in the eight years since his »
This year’s best director race is all about the Oscar virgins. Most of the contenders in the running — starting with frontrunner Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) — have never been nominated in the category before. But one caveat to remember: predictors have been wary of declaring any locks in this competition since the Academy snubbed sure-thing contenders Ben Affleck (“Argo”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty“) two years ago, so there’s always the possibility of a few surprises come Jan. 15.
If there’s another good bet in the category, it’s Norwegian director Morten Tyldum, who made “The Imitation Game” about World War II code breaker Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch). One prominent Oscar publicist calls him the Tom Hooper of this year’s race, who took home the trophy in 2011. Like “The King’s Speech,” “The Imitation Game” comes with a DNA that Oscar voters love, including a historic pedigree and »
- Ramin Setoodeh
By Anjelica Oswald
As we head into the final two months of the year, there are still a number of Oscar contenders that won’t be released — or even be seen — until December.
Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods will premiere on Christmas Day. Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper will have a limited release on Christmas before expanding to more theaters Jan 16.
Exodus: Gods and Kings, which is set for a Dec. 12 release, had a 37-minute press screening in September before the film was completed.
It was recently announced that a 30-minute first-look screening of Selma, the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic that centers on the Civil Rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, will take place at AFI Fest before its limited release on Dec. 25. But if Selma isn’t yet ready for it’s December release, it »
- Anjelica Oswald
By Anjelica Oswald
Set during the final months of World War II, Fury follows a tank commander (played by Brad Pitt) and his crew as they head into Nazi Germany as part of the Allies’ final push. The film also stars Logan Lerman, Shia Labeouf, John Bernthal and Michael Pena. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said the film is “a modern version of the sort of movie Hollywood turned out practically every week back in the 1940s and 1950s.” Fury opens Oct. 17.
Could Fury score a best picture nomination at the 87th Academy Awards? Both war biopics and fictional war films — about real wars or battles — have historically done well at the Oscars; however, the current projections show that the race will be a tight one. Here’s a look at some of the fictional war films that scored nominations for best picture:
War-themed best picture winners »
- Anjelica Oswald
David Ayer bit off a whole hell of a lot on the World War II drama "Fury." I'm not sure he could chew it all, but it's fascinating to watch the bevy of ideas bounce around on the screen nevertheless. It's a loud, bloody, gut-punching depiction, one that may or may not be too unsettling to appeal to Academy types but is still the best work Ayer has done, the most unflinching, and the most intriguing, certainly. In characterizing the movie as "one of the most daring studio movies in an awards season that will bring several World War II films," The New York Times had it pegged a few months back. This is the WWII your grandfather wouldn't talk about. It was bad. That point is probably driven home too much, even. "This is war, and war is hell." After all, you can only observe what a .50 caliber machine »
- Kristopher Tapley
Gregory Ellwood asks if the rest of the Oscar Best Picture contenders should fear Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper." He has already proven late season success before with "Million Dollar Baby" (2004) and "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006). On the other hand, he has also had contender duds like "Hereafter" and "J. Edgar." The new film slated for December stars two-time nominee Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most decorated sniper in U.S. military history. Ellwood's current top 10 for Best Picture predictions (in order): "Interstellar," "The Imitation Game," "Birdman," "Unbroken," "The Theory of Everything," "Boyhood," "Gone Girl," "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "Foxcatcher," and "American Sniper." HitFix -Break- Join the lively film and TV discussions going on right now in the Gold Derby message boards Joshua Rothman r »
Everyone wants to love Clint Eastwood's movies. But after winning Best Director and Best Picture for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby," the actor-turned-director's self-seriousness has left his recent output feeling a little… dry. Sounding great on paper, "Flags of Our Fathers" "Invictus," "J. Edgar" didn't have the cinematic brawn to muscle Eastwood into the award season (though, it should be noted, that his riveting, un-Hollywood war movie "Letters from Iwo Jima" nabbed a Best Picture nomination). Will "American Sniper" be the one voters and critical voices finally get behind? Star Bradley Cooper hopes so. A passion project for the actor, Cooper dedicated himself to obtaining and developing the life story of Navy Seal Chris Kyle's story, one of the deadliest snipers in modern history. Originally set up as directing vehicle for Steven Spielberg, Eastwood boarded the project in Aug. 2013. Now we have the first look at the film and »
- Matt Patches
Some films keep entertaining us even as the final credits roll. Here are some hidden treats at the end of 16 movies...
We've talked in the past about the current trend for stings at the end of movie credits - we once put together a list of 50 of our favourites. But that's not what this article is about. Instead, inspired by a quite wonderful scene midway through the credits of The Boxtrolls, we've been hunting around for extra goodies that you may have missed in other films. Some of these are just lines of text, others are far more substantial. But also, none of them are new or extended scenes - at least in the strictest sense.
There are inevitable spoilers for one or two things ahead, but we've tried to keep the headers as spoiler-free as possible so you can skip to the next entry if you want to. Let's start with The Boxtrolls, »
“I feel like I was sucker-punched, but it was a happy punch,” Robert Downey Jr. told me after the Toronto Film Festival’s opening-night movie The Judge. At the Montecito restaurant after-party, the star and his wife Susan Downey, who was one of the producers of the project, admitted they had not seen the film before in such a large venue as Roy Thomson Hall, where the October 10th Warner Bros release had its world premiere Thursday night.
Downey admitted to tearing up at least five times watching the film tonight. I sat near the cast and noticed that co-star Dax Shepard was a complete emotional mess the minute the lights came up and the audience stood to applaud. Susan Downey agreed with me that if audiences — particularly adult filmgoers who don’t necessarily rush to movies on the first weekend — show up to support the film it will mean »
- Pete Hammond
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