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Not long ago, you would have been forgiven for thinking Pasek and Paul was the name of a law firm. But as any self-respecting fan of theater or film musicals now knows, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are actually songwriting partners, and they’re having an extremely good year.
In a span of less than five months, the former University of Michigan classmates, both 32, have won a Tony Award for Dear Evan Hansen -- a »
The year is half over and Oscar voters need to catch up on their homework. There have been many worthwhile films in the first six months of 2017, including “Get Out” from writer-director Jordan Peele (Universal, Blumhouse); “Logan,” the dark, tender neo-Western from director James Mangold (Fox); and the sumptuous mega-hit “Beauty and the Beast” (director Bill Condon, Disney).
A few years ago, these would have been extreme longshots, at best. But there have been changes in Academy voters and their tastes. Recent winners including “Moonlight,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Ex Machina” prove that voters are redefining what is considered “Oscar bait.” The blurred definition is a challenge to awards strategists, but good news for hopefuls.
Oscars: 13 Deserving Contenders From 2017 So Far
The January-June period has seen many other films with Oscar potential in various categories; see the accompanying reminders by Variety colleagues Kris Tapley and Jenelle Riley. And, needless to say, other contenders will be covered a lot before the March 4, 2018, Oscar ceremony.
Diversity has been a key theme. This year, several films directed by women could be in the mix, including Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” (Focus Features), Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.), and Aisling Walsh’s “Maudie” (Sony Pictures Classics). Still to come are works from Kathryn Bigelow (Annapurna’s much-buzzed “Detroit”), Dee Rees (Netflix’s “Mudbound”); Margaret Betts (Sony Classics’ “Novitiate”) and Angelina Jolie (Netflix’s “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers”).
There are also upcoming works from international filmmakers like Sebastian Lelio, Alfonso Gomez-Rijon, Michael Gracey, Yorgos Lanthimos and Taika Waititi. They will join veterans including Guillermo del Toro, Alexander Payne, Stephen Frears, Richard Linklater, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Darren Aronofsky and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Here are month-by-month opening dates, followed by a list of films that made a splash at the year’s film festivals so far. And the upcoming festivals will also add a few twists to the Oscar race.
The director and stars are listed for purpose of jogging readers’ memories; it’s not a matter of handicapping, since it’s pointless to make predictions about films that have not been widely seen.
August: “Detroit” (Kathryn Bigelow; John Boyega; Annapurna); “Logan Lucky” (Steven Soderbergh; Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig; Bleecker Street); “Patty Cake$” (Geremy Jasper; Danielle Macdonald; Searchlight); “Wind River” (Taylor Sheridan; Elizabeth Olsen; The Weinstein Co.).
September: “American Made” (Doug Liman; Tom Cruise; Universal); “Battle of the Sexes” (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris; Emma Stone, Steve Carell; Fox Searchlight); “First They Killed My Father” (Angelina Jolie; Netflix); “Victoria and Abdul” (Stephen Frears; Judi Dench; Focus).
The Best Films of 2017 (So Far)
October: “Blade Runner 2049” (Denis Villeneuve; Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford; WB); “Breathe” (Andy Serkis; Andrew Garfield; Bleecker Street, Participant); “Goodbye Christopher Robin” (Simon Curtis; Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie; Searchlight); “Marshall” (Reginald Hudlin; with Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall; Open Road); “Mother!” (Darren Aronofsky; Jennifer Lawrence; Paramount); “The Mountain Between Us” (Hany Abu-Assad; Idris Elba, Kate Winslet; Fox); “Thank You for Your Service” (Jason Hall; Miles Teller; Universal)
November: “Darkest Hour” (Joe Wright; Gary Oldman; Focus); “Last Flag Flying” (Richard Linklater; Bryan Cranston; Amazon); “The Man Who Invented Christmas” (Bharat Nalluri; Dan Stevens; Bleecker Street); “Mary Magdalene” (Garth Davis; Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix; TWC); “Murder on the Orient Express” (Kenneth Branagh; Johnny Depp; Fox); “Suburbicon” (George Clooney; Matt Damon; Paramount); “Thor: Ragnarok” (Taika Waititi; Chris Hemsworth; Disney, Marvel Studios); “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Martin McDonagh; Frances McDormand; Searchlight).
December: “The Greatest Showman” (Michael Gracey; Hugh Jackman; Fox); “The Current War” (Alfonso Gomez-Rijon; Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon; TWC); “Downsizing” (Alexander Payne; Matt Damon, Laura Dern; Paramount); “The Papers” (Steven Spielberg; Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep; Fox, Amblin); “The Shape of Water” (Guillermo del Toro; Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer; Searchlight); “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Rian Johnson; Disney, Lucasfilm); “Phantom Thread” (Paul Thomas Anderson; Daniel Day-Lewis; Focus); “Wonder Wheel” (Woody Allen; James Belushi, Kate Winslet; Amazon).
And some of the festival hits so far this year:
Sundance: “The Big Sick,” (Michael Showalter; Kumail Nanjiani, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter; Amazon, Lionsgate); “Call Me By Your Name” (Luca Guadagnino; Armie Hammer (Sony Pictures Classics); “The Hero” (Brett Haley; Sam Elliott; The Orchard); Also: “Mudbound” and “Wind River.”
Berlin: “The Lost City of Z” (James Gray; Charlie Hunnam; Amazon, Bleecker Street); “Final Portrait” (Stanley Tucci; Geoffrey Rush; Sony Classics); “Maudie” (Aisling Walsh; Sally Hawkins; Sony Classics).
Cannes: “Good Time” (Safdie brothers; Robert Pattinson; A24); “You Were Never Really Here” (Lynne Ramsay; Joaquin Phoenix; Amazon); “Okja” (Bong Joon Ho; Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal; Netflix); “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” (Noah Baumbach; Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller; Netflix); “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (Yorgos Lanthimos; Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell; A24); “The Florida Project” (Sean Baker; Willem Dafoe; A24); “Happy End” (Michael Haneke; Isabelle Huppert; Sony Classics); “Wonderstruck” (Todd Haynes; Julianne Moore; Amazon, Roadside Attractions).
There are also plenty of great documentaries, animated movies and foreign-language films, but those are for later columns.
- Tim Gray
The Greatest Showman is directed by Michael Gracey and stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, Paul Sparks, Diahann Carroll, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Natasha Liu Bordizzo. It is set for release on December 25th in the States and in January 2018 in the UK. »
- Amie Cranswick
The actress, 36, was spotted Monday evening with producer friend Kevin Walsh at Pierluigi restaurant. Williams wore an off-the-shoulder red dress by Reformation (which retails for $198) and Walsh wore a casual white dress shirt and khaki trousers.
The mother of one is currently shooting the latest Ridley Scott-directed film, All the Money in the World, opposite actors Kevin Spacey and Mark Wahlberg. Walsh is an executive producer of the film and is the president of Scott’s film and television production company, Scott Free Films.
Despite reports of a possible romance, »
- Karen Mizoguchi
Six months after Pitch Perfect 3 started production, filming has finally wrapped on the sequel, with the franchise's official Twitter and YouTube channels sending out a special "wrap reel" to commemorate the production. There will also be a "special announcement" coming on Monday, June 19, but it isn't known if this will be the first trailer or not. While we wait for that announcement, this wrap reel features plenty of behind-the-scenes footage with the cast, as director Trish Sie gives fans a behind-the-scenes sneak peek.
This wrap reel debuted on the Pitch Perfect YouTube channel, featuring stars Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, with the director Trish Sie revealing that this sequel will take fans on a "global tour" with the Bellas. There is also footage of one of the stars jumping from a boat into a tank of water. There is also a scene with Rebel Wilson getting attacked by dogs, with »
Four more reader questions to kick off the weekend. Wheeee. As ever, I'd love to hear your answers to these questions thrown my way.
Matt St Clair: Is there an unseen awards contender this year that you are hoping doesn't fail?
Nathaniel: My "please let this be successful" hopes reside with Blade Runner 2049 (because the original's reputation being tarnished would be such a pity), The Greatest Showman (because musicals Must continue to thrive) and Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (because it's infinitely annoying that Annette Bening doesn't have an Oscar yet and didn't even get nominated for such gorgeous work in 20th Century Women). While we're well- wishing please let Wonderstruck, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and The Florida Project could be bigger hits than usual for Todd Haynes, John Cameron Mitchell, and Sean Baker, since they're three of our most distinctive American auteurs. I could »
- NATHANIEL R
As temperatures rise, it may seem a bit silly to be thinking about what the Academy could do in the middle of the winter. Still, that’s what I do, so with the New York Film Festival announcing their Opening Night Selection, now feels like a good point to check in on Oscar. We’re still another month or so away from really having any sense of what the first half of the year has to offer, in terms of Oscars. Honestly, the only thing that so far seems like it could last the rest of the season is Brett Haley’s The Hero, specifically for Sam Elliott’s lead performance. He could certainly score a nomination in Best Actor. Aside from that, it’s looking like 2017 will be a second half sort of year. This time around, there’s some upward movement for Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, the inclusion »
- Joey Magidson
Fresh off the Tonys, from which their musical “Dear Evan Hansen” emerged with six trophies including best musical, songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have a horse in the Emmy race. In the musical episode of “The Flash” that crossed over with “Supergirl” in March, the pair wrote the original song “Runnin’ Home to You.”
Pasek: Greg is responsible for Jack on “Dawson’s Creek,” so I love him in a deep, deep way. Jack was the first representation I saw of a kid in high school coming out. I was a middle-schooler, and I really identified with that character.
Paul: I was obsessed with Michelle Williams. In seventh grade, my version of dating my girlfriend was we would call each other and watch “Dawson’s Creek” on the phone together.
Were you “Flash” watchers already?
- Gordon Cox
Joseph Baxter Jun 2, 2017
I Feel Pretty, a concept-based comedy starring Amy Schumer, will add some interesting performance gravitas to its cast with the acquisition of four-time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Michelle Williams.
According to Deadline, Williams joins I Feel Pretty to play Avery LeClaire, the boss of a cosmetics company at which Schumer’s character Renee Bennett works. The premise of the film follows Renee – a purportedly unexceptional, average-sized woman who’s surrounded by the genetically gifted – who falls off an exercise bike, leading to a head-injury-induced 'spell' that leaves her under the belief that she is – by perceived conventional standards – stunningly beautiful, even though her appearance did not change. However, Renee’s newfound confidence seems to carry her far in her job, earning respect from her boss Avery (Williams). Yet, with her »
After a string of strong dramatic turns, Michelle Williams is teaming with one of the biggest comedians in Hollywood to show off her lighter side.
In the comedy, an ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis recovers from a fall and suddenly believes she’s the most beautiful and capable person on the planet. This new confidence suddenly sees her climbing the ranks at the cosmetics company she works for, and thereby obtaining the respect of her idol and boss (played by Williams).
- Justin Kroll
Ringling Bros. folded up the Big Top for the final time on Sunday night. Ringling Bros. started in1884 and later merged with Barnum and Bailey in 1919 to form "The Greatest Show on Earth." The traveling circus roamed the United States for over 100 years, entertaining millions, and in later years drummed up plenty of controversy from animal rights activists. The final two shows were held at the Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, which is about 30 miles east of New York City where former circus workers gathered with current workers from all over the country to celebrate the end of an era.
The 146-year old tradition is actually older than American baseball and the final, sold out performances drew fans of all ages from all over the United States to see "The Greatest Show on Earth" one last time. The final performance was also streamed live on Facebook, where it »
Between stints of slicing and dicing the big screen – let alone the Adr booth – as Wolverine, Hugh Jackman’s carved out a comfortable career for himself over the years as a jack-of-all-trades song-and-dance man. In fact, his greatest feats of awards success have all revolved around his fleet feet and tenacious tenor: a Tony Award for The Boy From Oz, his sole Oscar nomination for Les Miserables, and, of course, his instantly iconic turn hosting the 2008 Academy Awards. In light of Entertainment Weekly’s recently released photo spread from his upcoming P.T. Barnum (original!) musical The Greatest Showman, the question begs itself. Will Jackman land once more with Oscar for his latest tripping of the light fantastic?
More images and info after the jump... »
- Daniel Crooke
As the Cannes Film Festival begins this week in earnest, it seems like a solid enough time to check in with some new Academy Award predictions. The festival may very well change the game, so as per the usual around this time, consider these predictions little more than a temporary placeholder. June will potentially look rather different than May, and so on, so simply keep that in mind. As for the specifics, you’ll be able to find that out shortly, but keep an eye on what Cannes has going on. They’re the belle of the ball currently, as it were. As the weather gets hotter, the potential contenders will start to reveal themselves, though as you know, it isn’t until the cold air returns that we really know what’s what. That’s just how it goes. What you’ll see below is a very slightly tinkered with update for this month. »
- Joey Magidson
Entertainment Weekly have provided us with our first look at Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron in the forthcoming The Greatest Showman. The movie tells the story of American showman P.T. Barnum, played by Jackman, the founder of the circus that became the famous traveling Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
“Up until La La Land, everyone was saying there hasn’t been an original musical in 23 years,” Jackman said to Entertainment Weekly. “The prevailing thought in Hollywood was, unless you have a brand people know, it’s not a done thing. So it just took a long time,” he added.
The film also stars Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, and Zendaya, and will be released in cinemas Stateside on Christmas Day 2017 and the UK in January 2018.
Take a look at your very first look below.
The post First look at Hugh Jackman as Barnum in »
- Paul Heath
Now that Hugh Jackman has hung up his Wolverine claws for the final time, he's free to enter the world of P.T. Barnum for The Greatest Showman. Jackman will be playing the "godfather of the modern circus" in the musical film, but development on the project has taken quite some time. "Up until La La Land, everyone was saying there hasn’t been an... Read More »
- Kevin Fraser
Entertainment Weekly has debuted four first look images from director Michael Gracey’s upcoming American biographical musical drama The Greatest Showman. The film stars Hugh Jackman as showman and businessman P.T. Barnum, founder the Barnum & Bailey Travelling Circus alongside Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Michelle Williams, Paul Sparks, Diahann Carroll, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Natasha Liu Bordizzo; take a look here…
“The story of P.T Barnum, a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.”
The Greatest Showman is set for release on December 25th in the States and on January 5th in the UK. »
- Amie Cranswick
See Full Gallery Here
Two months ago, Hugh Jackman gave what many consider to be the performance of his career in Logan, James Mangold’s R-rated X-Men movie that brought the curtain down Wolverine’s saga with aplomb – expect it to scurry on over to Blu-ray replete with a black-and-white cut entitled Logan Noir.
Not one to rest on his laurels, the Aussie actor is already deep in production on The Greatest Showman, a musical biopic in which he plays P.T. Barnum (Aka the founding father of the modern-day circus). Surrounded by an all-star ensemble cast – Zac Efron (Baywatch) and the so-hot-right-now Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming) are just two of the big-name stars attached – Hugh Jackman spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming drama, and why everyone involved was galvanized by the landmark success of La La Land. Damien Chazelle’s dreamy romance may have been pipped at the post during February’s Oscar ceremony, »
- Michael Briers
With his 17-year stint as The Wolverine behind him, after the blockbuster swan song Logan, Hugh Jackman is returning to his musical roots with the biopic The Greatest Showman. The beloved actor will take on the larger-than-life circus pioneer P.T. Barnum, and while we wait for the first trailer to debut, the first photos have surfaced offering a glimpse at Hugh Jackman and his co-stars Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya. Hugh Jackman and director Michael Gracey also shed some new light on this project, which was almost a completely different take on the showman's life.
Way back in August 2011, we reported that commercial director and visual artist Michael Gracey came aboard to make his feature directorial debut with The Greatest Showman. The project was initially announced two years earlier, but at the time, it was being conceived as a traditional biopic. The director told Entertainment Weekly that he suggested the project be a musical, »
Hugh Jackman showed the world he was a true song and dance man when he hosted the Oscars back in 2009, and not long after that performance, 20th Century Fox gave the greenlight to the actor’s passion project: a biopic called The Greatest Showman about famous huckster and circus magnate P.T. Barnum. Commercial director Michael Gracey was hired to direct, […]
- Ben Pearson
David Crow May 19, 2017
Up until about six months ago, the idea of pushing a completely original live-action movie musical with new songs on the public seemed like a brazen bet. But then a little movie called La La Land made it instant box office and award gold. This is serendipitous for Hugh Jackman who, fresh off his Logan swan song, also just wrapped The Greatest Showman - a completely original movie musical with new songs, no less.
And we are getting our first glimpse, compliments of Entertainment Weekly, who has released the first images of the musical which is loosely based on the life of P.T. Barnum, the most famous circus man in history. All of the images showcase the 19th century spectacle with Jackman as Barnum, Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife Charity, »
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