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Marlon Brando once uttered one of the most famous lines in movie history, “I coulda been a contender,” from one of the most beloved best picture winners, 1954’s On the Waterfront. The film was a shoo-in to sweep the Oscars, and it did. This year, however, there are a boatload of movies that might be saying “I coulda been a contender” but are lost and drifting in one of the most wide-open best picture races in memory, certainly since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to allow a maximum of 10 nominees instead of just five for the biggest prize in the industry. Some say it’s just not a very good year, and that’s why it appears as if there are numerous contenders but no obvious choice. Others just have their favorites, which are all over the place. One prominent Academy voter who has seen just about everything told me, »
- Pete Hammond
At first glance, it may look like J.C. Chandor is hopping from one genre to the next, but the versatile writer/director has in fact built a rather unyielding trio of thematically cohesive stories, sharing the common denominator of characters facing extreme, in-the-moment crisis. Margin Call navigated the troubled waters of 2008’s financial collapse and coolly examined the reactions of its anti-architects over the course of an eventful night. All Is Lost dived into literally troubled waters, in telling the tale of a man lost at sea for a number of hostile days. His latest, the deliciously slow-burning A Most Violent Year –which was recently named the Best Film of 2014 by National Board of Review- follows a hardworking immigrant Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac, winner of this year’s Best Actor accolade from Nbr) with a growing oil business in New York City circa 1981; statistically, when the city’s infamous crime rates were at an all-time high. Abel »
- Tomris Laffly
When is a gimmick not a gimmick? When it underscores strong storytelling rather than distracting from a bad script. It was easy to think of the selling points behind “Boyhood” (actors age in real time during a production spread out over a dozen years); “Locke” (movie centered around one man in a car making phone calls) or “Birdman” (camera and editing tricks employed to make the film look like one continuous take) as mere hoopla – and then we saw the movies.
Not all of the year’s best films employed such razzle-dazzle, but it was heartening to know that in »
- Alonso Duralde, Inkoo Kang and James Rocchi
A Most Violent Year explores the question of how dirty you'll allow your hands to get in your effort to achieve the success you desire with a clear conscience. Center stage, soiling his hands and yet not entirely ready to admit it, is Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), a small-time heating oil distributor facing issues with his competitors, the district attorney (David Oyelowo) and the banks. A little more comfortable with dealing with reality is Abel's wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), the two having worked side-by-side for years, taking over the business from her father and finally looking to turn the small family business into something much bigger as the film opens with Abel making a deal to purchase an oil holding facility along the water. Abel's mounting troubles, however, are likely to make finalizing that deal a little harder. Where the film's ominous title comes into play is in its setting. »
- Brad Brevet
All those approaching "A Most Violent Year" anticipating a fast-paced shoot-‘em-up will wind up rather surprised. Not disappointed, as the temperate drama they’re actually sitting down for is leagues better than your standard crime thriller, but certainly surprised. Writer and director J.C. Chandor is well aware of this. In fact, he seems quite proud to have created a film that might turn its audience’s relationship with cinematic violence on its head. Chandor himself is a surprising entity. Though he towers above most at well over six feet tall, he’s as amicable and easygoing as anyone you could hope to meet, especially considering the grim and daunting nature of his three films to date: the sociopolitical "Margin Call," the solemn survival story "All Is Lost," and his latest, perhaps bleakest entry. Chatting with us towards the end of a long day, Chandor is nonetheless excited to dive »
- Michael Arbeiter
Exclusive: Post-apocalyptic comic series Marksmen is eyeing a jump to the screen via Benderspink and Benaroya Pictures, who are teaming to produce a feature adaptation of the action-thriller saga. Marksmen takes place in a dystopian future America where civil war over oil resources has left New San Diego as the last remaining bastion of peace and prosperity, protected by walls by the titular militant guards. Drake McCoy is the best of the Marksmen, who leads his small but skilled team as an invading army from the Lone Star State lays siege to their home in an attempt to steal the city’s energy technology.
It’s the latest comic book property to join the development slate at Benderspink, which optioned rights to Marksmen from Benaroya Publishing, who first issued the comic in 2011. The comic was developed in-house by the Kill Your Darlings and Margin Call company’s publishing arm and was created by Michael Benaroya, »
- Jen Yamato
Writer/director J.C. Chandor has made three feature films now, and each one couldn’t be more different from the others. His debut, Margin Call, is a talky drama that takes place in a Wall Street investment bank over the course of one 36-hour period during the initial stages of the financial crisis. His second film, All Is Lost, is a nearly silent survival movie dripping with subtext. And his most recent film, the upcoming A Most Violent Year, is a character-centric crime drama set against the backdrop of a family-run heating oil business in 1981 New York City. So it didn’t come as a huge shock when Chandor agreed to next tackle Deepwater Horizon, a Mark Wahlberg-fronted film that tells the story of the oil rig disaster of April 2010 that killed 11 people. Perri caught up with Chandor recently in anticipation of the release of A Most Violent Year, »
- Adam Chitwood
In this first clip from J.C. Chandor's drama A Most Violent Year, Jessica Chastain has something her youngest daughter found in the bushes outside her home. She wants her husband, played by Oscar Isaac, to have a look. It is not a stray cat. A Most Violent Year is a searing crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically the most dangerous year in the city's history. From acclaimed writer/director J.C. Chandor, and starring Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), this gripping story plays out within a maze of rampant political and industry corruption plaguing the streets of a city in decay.Chandor previously helmed Margin Call and All Is Lost, and his latest has already received...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
It was an unexpected decision from the organization of 126 New York film fans, who cast their ballots through email or fax, and also nameded Oscar Isaac (“A Most Violent Year”) and Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) for lead actor; Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) as lead actress; Edward Norton (“Birdman”) as supporting actor; Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”) as supporting actress; and Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper”) for director.
“We’re quirky and we have a different take,” said the organization’s president Annie Schulhof in a phone call with Variety shortly after the announcement.
“This is what the group felt is the best movie,” she explained. “J.C. Chandor several years ago was our directorial debut for ‘Margin Call.’ It’s got a compelling story. It’s got an elegant cinematic style. »
- Ramin Setoodeh
What’s not to love about “A Most Violent Year”? It’s an ‘80s-set moral crime drama that stars Oscar Isaac — who’s seemingly on his way to becoming a household name with roles in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “X-Men: Apocalypse” — Jessica Chastain and David Oyelowo, arguably the three greatest actors of their generation, who all seem poised for A-list greatness. Then there’s director J.C. Chandor: he arrived immediately with his economic crisis drama “Margin Call” and then seriously upped the ante with the left turn of “All Is Lost,” an existentialist action drama on the high seas that was Robert Redford’s best performance in eons. So what's "A Most Violent Year" about? Here’s part of the synopsis that describes yet another new bold direction for the filmmaker, an interesting take on the American Dream, compromise, and the cost of doing business in »
- Edward Davis
Watch the trailer Here.
Directed and written by Academy Award nominee J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost, Margin Call), A Most Violent Year is a searing crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history. Also starring David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola, and Albert Brooks, the gripping story plays out within a maze of rampant political and industry corruption plaguing the streets of a city in decay.
With a sound indicative of era, Ebert’s score uses piano, »
- Michelle McCue
It’s not funny, only its villains speak truth, and its putative heroes are now the horrible bosses… though the movie doesn’t seem to realize that. I’m “biast” (pro): enjoyed the first movie
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
It’s disconcerting when this happens: My reaction to a sequel is so powerfully diametrically opposite my reaction to its progenitor that it makes me wonder if I entirely misread that first film. (This has happened before.) Horrible Bosses 2 left such a rancid taste in my mouth that it left me reconsidering the fact that I kinda liked Horrible Bosses. Was I wrong back in 2011?
But I rewatched Bosses, and no: It’s a pretty good — not great, but pretty good — black comedy with a little bit of something to say about the desperation of the Great Recession »
- MaryAnn Johanson
The first clip from writer/director J.C. Chandor's 1981-set crime drama "A Most Violent Year" (whose title is a bit of a misnomer) has landed. Jessica Chastain plays cigarette-wielding, master manipulatrix Anna Morales who in this clip attempts to distract David Oyelowo's stern detective while her husband Abel, played by Oscar Isaac, stashes evidence of their wrongdoings in the backyard. They're ringleaders of a criminal oil enterprise in New York but now their world is beginning to crumble. J.C. Chandor's slickly made but uneven followup to "Margin Call" and cause célèbre "All Is Lost" is the best Oscar shot for Chastain, who acts the hell out of this spiky role opposite an iconic Oscar Isaac. Oyelowo, meanwhile, floored audiences this week in "Selma" at AFI Fest, where "Most Violent Year" also premiered. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
(Photos copyright Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.)
By Mark Cerulli
Last Wednesday, the red carpet was rolled out on Hollywood Boulevard, the paparazzi were out in force and the Spiderman and Wonder Woman impersonators had been pushed aside, at least momentarily, for American Film Institute’s annual film festival.
Cinema Retro was in da house for writer/director J.C. Chandor’s new crime drama, A Most Violent Year, this year’s opening night selection. The director introduced his third film onstage at the Dolby Theater, joined by his distinguished cast and crew, including Jessica Chastain and Dp Bradford Young. Chandor also pointed out where he was sitting when his screenplay for “Margin Call” (which he also directed) lost out to Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” in the 2012 Oscar race.
Although the film’s setting – the cutthroat world of home heating oil doesn’t sound exciting, it provides the backdrop for Abel Morales, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Barnum has spent the past decade bridging finance and independent film, having worked with the likes of Benaroya Pictures and Annapurna Pictures. But it’s in recent years that he’s fully come into his own, partnering with Cassian Elwes last year to create e2b Capital, and boasting a slate that includes Kevin Costner starrer “Black and White,” Peter Bogdanovich’s “She’s Funny That Way” and Paul Bettany’s “Shelter.”
Barnum first turned heads as a producer of J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call,” and partnered with the director again for last year’s “All Is Lost.” Yet per- haps the most audacious project of his career is one that’s just starting to kick into gear: the long-
mooted biopic “Miles Ahead.”
“I’ve been doing this long enough that I’d seen the Miles Davis project a couple of times,” Barnum says. “I’d read the script, »
- Andrew Barker
New York writer-director J.C. Chandor shot like a cannon out of Sundance 2011 with Wall Street talk-fest "Margin Call," which landed him an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination, followed by success d'estime "All Is Lost" in 2013, with solo movie star Robert Redford. So expectations were high for "A Most Violent Year." But sometimes early success breeds too much confidence. The most crucial tightrope act when considering a release plan is to realistically figure out what you've got. A24 landed the movie, which was backed by Participant Media, but finally catered to the director's strongly stated desire to follow a prestige fall release plan. Telluride did not pursue an early cut of the film--it might not have been finished in time anyway--which after a few more months in the editing room finally went to AFI Fest for opening night. The trouble with an award-season release is that scrutiny is more intense. As Tom Brueggemann suggests in his weekend. »
- Anne Thompson
Year of Living Stressfully: Chandor Returns with Slow-Boil Scald
Baby, it may be cold outside, but the climate’s sure changing in J.C. Chandor’s flashback to 1981 New York City in A Most Violent Year, the director’s third and most iniquitous portrayal yet of humans struggling for survival or ascension among the ranks. Following the success of his talky yet effective 2011 debut, Margin Call, a slick examination of the viperous tendencies amongst Wall Street’s elite and the 2008 crash, and 2013’s Robert Redford against the elements flick All Is Lost, Chandor extends his dexterity to a period piece that’s already drawn comparison to the heyday of Lumet and the underrated familial dramas of James Gray. With a little luck, Chandor’s title won’t be treated to the same ambivalence as Gray’s films tend to be, but in line with his previous two titles, it’s an equally difficult, »
- Nicholas Bell
Writer-director J.C. Chandor's crime-drama A Most Violent Year kicked off the American Film Institute's AFI Fest with its glitzy world premiere Thursday night in Hollywood. In front of the crowd at the Dolby Theatre, Chandor reminisced about the last time he was in that space — for the 2012 Oscars. "The last time I was in this room, I was sitting right there and lost to Woody Allen," referring to the Academy Awards where he lost the original screenplay award for Margin Call to Allen's Midnight in Paris. Chandor took a deep breath. "Let's hope it
- Nicole Behnam
Pointing to a specific seat in the front orchestra section of the vast Dolby Theatre before Thursday’s AFI Fest opening-night world premiere of his new film A Most Violent Year, writer-director Jc Chandor said “the last time I was in this room I was sitting right there and I lost to Woody Allen. Let’s hope it goes a little better tonight.”
Chandor was referring to the 2012 Oscar show, in which he was nominated for Original Screenplay for his first feature Margin Call. Although (unfairly I thought) overlooked by the Academy last year for his second film, All Is Lost — which at the very least should have snagged star Robert Redford a Best Actor nod but didn’t — I have a feeling he could perhaps find himself back at the Dolby in February in that same category where he duked it out with Woody.
More than one observer compared this dark, »
- Pete Hammond
After his debut film "Margin Call" in 2011 and its very different follow-up "All is Lost" in 2013, writer-director J.C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year" is a truly impressive film, one that takes all the concerns of his prior films — money, control, fate — and puts them on a canvas as big and bleak as New York in 1981. The resemblance to Sidney Lumet's work in the '80s is not accidental. Chandor is looking at human behavior, and society, and chose a dramatically and artistically appealing backdrop — and perhaps subconsciously hoped to remind us of when audiences would, and could, see films about real people in human conflict in actual cities at the theater. Like Lumet, it all seems to boil down to one question: What good is the American Dream if you can't sleep at night because of the things you did to achieve it? Played by Oscar Isaac — costumed »
- James Rocchi
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