15 items from 2015
Three Variety critics agree to disagree about Oscar winners and losers both onscreen and on the Dolby stage.
Peter Debruge: Last year, the Academy made a statement in giving the best picture award to “12 Years a Slave.” This time around, over the course of a spread-the-wealth evening, it was the winners’ turn to speak their minds, and they did so in force, using Hollywood’s prom as a podium to demand equal rights — for women (“Boyhood’s” only winner, Patricia Arquette), for African-Americans (Common and John Legend, accepting “Selma’s” only win), for gays (“The Imitation Game” writer Graham Moore, urging young Lgbt viewers to “stay weird, stay different” as he collected the film’s lone statue), for those with disabilities (both Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne turned the spotlight on talents who achieved while coping with Als), and for immigrants (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, offering a plea on behalf of »
- Peter Debruge, Justin Chang and Scott Foundas
Well, we're done. Another Oscar ceremony ends, and with it, another awards season and another year of Tech Support here at In Contention. On the whole, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" came out the big winner, taking four of the 10 crafts categories. "Whiplash" came up with two more while "Birdman," "Interstellar," "Selma" and "American Sniper" got in on the love-sharing with one apiece. Crafts category shut-outs for "Mr. Turner," "Unbroken" and "The Imitation Game," despite their impressive nomination counts, were unsurprising. It was also a year of repeat victors. Winners in Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing and Visual Effects had all won previously. There was one big first-timer, though, in Alexandre Desplat – more on him in a moment. Others are still waiting for their first wins, alas. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, songwriter Diane Warren and sound mixer Frank Montaño immediately jump to mind. Emmanuel Lubezki's triumph in »
- Gerard Kennedy
Tokyo — “American Sniper” topped the Japanese box office for the weekend of Feb. 21-22 with an estimated $2.8 million on 250,000 admissions from 333 screens.
Figures are based on advanced online ticket sales only and do not include those at theaters.
Grabbing a 48% share of earnings among the top five box office entries, “Sniper” had the fastest start in Japan of any Clint Eastwood film since the Japanese-language “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which finished with $43 million in 2007.
Sliding from first to second was the reality-show-based “Terrace House,” which saw Saturday and Sunday advance ticket sales fall by 52% from the previous weekend, to 46,800.
The only other new entry to the top ten was “The Fault In Our Stars,” which debuted at number eight with 13,700 advance ticket sales.
In third place, previous chart topper and Oscar-winning animation “Big Hero 6” dropped 24% with advanced ticket sales of 34,200. Its cumulative score stood at $70 million before the weekend. »
- Mark Schilling
As 23 of our Oscar Experts predicted, "American Sniper" won Best Sound Editing on Sunday night. Champs Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman also recently took top honors with the Motion Picture Sound Editors for this Clint Eastwood film. -Break- War-themed films have done well in this category recently, with "U-571" (2000), "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006), "The Hurt Locker" (2009), and "Zero Dark Thirty" (2012) all prevailing this century. "American Sniper" was the 3/10 favorite backed by 23 Experts: Thelma Adams (ZEALnyc), Kyle Buchanan (Vulture), Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Mary Milliken (Reuters), Michael Musto (Out.com), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Steve Pond (The Wrap), Claudia Puig (USA Today), Jenelle Riley (Variety), Christopher Rosen (Huffing...' »
While 18 of our Oscar Experts predict that "American Sniper," which took top honors with the Motion Picture Sound Editors, will win Best Sound Editing, six expect "Interstellar" to prevail. And two of our Oscarologists are predicting that the Mpse winner for music, "Birdman," will pull off an upset. -Break- War-themed films have done well in this category recently, with "U-571" (2000), "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006), "The Hurt Locker" (2009), and "Zero Dark Thirty" (2012) all prevailing this century. And "American Sniper" is just behind "Whiplash" for Best Sound Mixing. If it does claim both categories, it will be the sixth such double champ in eight years, following "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007), "The Hurt Locker" (2009), "Inception" (2010), "Hugo" (2011), and "Gravity" (2013). Updat »
A month into its release, Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is breaking box office records and sparking a national debate over America’s role in Iraq and the legacy of a sniper whom some say is a liar and a killer.
The movie is poised to make $35 million this weekend, its third in release, and at $217 million has now overtaken “Saving Private Ryan” as the top-grossing war movie of all time.
- Matt Donnelly and Linda Ge
“It’s the casting in a movie that puts you halfway home,” he explained of the Iraq War drama, adding that Cooper made a major effort to bulk up by 40 pounds during pre-production.
“Bradley was constantly eating — 8,000 calories a day,” Eastwood said, also noting that the actor subsequently slimmed down for his Broadway performance in “The Elephant Man.”
Eastwood said he and Cooper met with the family of Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal portrayed by Cooper, in order to be able to depict the war’s impact on the home front — which the director also did in his 2007 WWII film “Letters From Iwo Jima.”
“The biggest antiwar statement is what it does to the families left behind,” Eastwood said.
The event, held at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, »
- Dave McNary
“You know somewhere in there he had some doubts along the way, like a person would under that circumstance,” director says of the controversial central...
“American Sniper” has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the American political spectrum, but director Clint Eastwood acknowledged that the central controversial figure in his film wasn’t the stone-cold killer he’s been made out to be.
“There’s that little moment where the psychiatrist asks, did you ever do anything you regret?” the directed recalled a scene from his film. “There’s a little spot where Bradley [Cooper] takes a little moment, »
- Linda Ge
This article contains spoilers for American Sniper.
American Sniper stands to be the most financially profitable of this year's Best Picture Oscar contenders by a long way, having out-grossed most of the others' lifetime domestic totals in its first weekend on wide release.
The $90.2 million opening is the highest January opening of all time, more than doubling the opening weekend record set by Ride Along at the same time last year, and it's easily the strongest box office performer of director Clint Eastwood's career.
In short, it did the kind of business you would expect from a superhero movie, or a new instalment in an established franchise, and yet it's an R-rated war drama based on a true story. Irrespective of our thoughts on the film, that's a stunning début. »
To celebrate the release of American Sniper, we’ve got a great Clint Eastwood DVD Directors Collection boxset to give away! Each contains five of the legendary actor/director’s best films behind the camera, including Letters from Iwo Jima, and Flags of Our Fathers -and we’ll throw in a copy of Chris Kyle’s autobiography.
U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world.
Despite the danger, as »
- Dan Bullock
And the Oscar nominees are ... the whitest since 1998.
That's the truth as far as the acting categories are concerned. For the first time in 17 years, not a single person of colour stands to win an acting Oscar. [The Atlantic says the last entirely white Oscar nomination list was in 1995. We'll let them duke out which year it is.]
We here at Moviefone Canada looked at Oscar winners and nominees from the past decade to see how they stack up against the upcoming 2015 ceremony. We restricted ourselves to the acting, directing and screenwriting categories.
The definition of "people of colour," of course, varies widely. But when it comes to Oscar nominations, we largely considered people who don't come from an all-white heritage within the last couple of generations.
We plugged the numbers ... and 47 out of 350 nominees in the past 10 years went to people of colour.
That's 13 per cent ... and it's not enough. Especially when U.S. government statistics show that white people (excluding Hispanics or Latinos) make up only 62.6 per cent of the country's population. »
- Jesse Ferreras
Spouting off to an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood looked as if he were slipping into doddering dementia, but he’s shrewder and more focused than ever in his Iraq War picture American Sniper. It’s a crackerjack piece of filmmaking, a declaration that he’s not yet ready to be classified as an Old Master, that he can out-Bigelow Kathryn Bigelow. Morally, though, he has regressed from the heights of Letters From Iwo Jima (2006). In more ways than one, the Iraq occupation is seen through the sight of a high-powered rifle. The movie is scandalously blinkered. Its springboard is the tragically murdered Chris Kyle’s best-selling memoir (written with Jim DeFelice), which chronicled his tours in Iraq as a Navy Seal and his acquisition — thanks to an unprecedented number of sniper kills — of the sobriquet “the Legend.” I’m not going to fault Kyle »
- David Edelstein
"American Sniper" is many things -- it has plenty of action, some moments of suspense and horror, a strong lead performance from Bradley Cooper, and some interesting moral and political quagmires that it works its way through. It's also jingoistic, at times fatuous, and overall feels like a completely missed opportunity to do something extraordinary.
This is another film by that stalwart director Clint Eastwood, a Hollywood icon who at 84 doesn't seem to be slowing down very much. This is his second film released that's eligible for awards in 2014 (his musical romp "Jersey Boys" made its budget back during its summer run), and "Sniper" is already garnering lots of awards attention from the Director's Guild and the Academy, with Cooper, the writer, picture editors and sound mixers/editors and the picture itself all getting nominations for Oscars.
I hear it's a true story.
Ostensibly it's a film based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, »
- Jason Gorber
The Directors Guild of America have spoken and raised the Eastwood flag yet again. The 84 year old director cruised to a nomination for his conservative military drama American Sniper. It's his fourth nomination with the DGA. He has won twice before at the DGA and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Academy has nominated him even more often for directing as American Sniper will be his fifth Best Director nomination should it come to pass. Eastwood has a habit of crashing the party late. He did it in 2004 with Million Dollar Baby when everyone was preparing for an Aviator sweep. He did it in 2006 with the tiny grossing nearly black and white foreign language film Letters from Iwo Jima and he looks like he'll do it again on Thursday for American Sniper.
Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
- NATHANIEL R
Directed by Angelina Jolie.
After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
When reviewing a film based on a true story, especially one as harrowing as a prisoner of war tale, you have to separate reality from film making. The story of Louis Zamperini’s survival against the odds during World War II is, on its own, one to be greatly admired but this movie version of his story offers precious little to admire as far as film making is concerned.
The question I kept asking whilst watching Unbroken was ‘why this man’s story?’ and I assumed that something would happen in »
- Gary Collinson
15 items from 2015
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