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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Watch the First Four Minutes of "Warm Bodies"

Have you heard about the new zomcom, WARM BODIES? Yes, I have borrowed the clever "zomcom" phrase from the lovely folks over at Film School Rejects.

Just as the term zomcom indicates, the movie is the latest film in the line of zombie-inspired romantic comedies, starring Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) as a kindhearted walker and Teresa Palmer (I am Number Four) as his curious love interest. It's written and directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness). More about the film after the jump (from Collider):

Zombies love people, especially their brains. But R (Nicholas Hoult) is different. He’s alive inside, unlike the hundreds of other grunting, drooling undead—all victims of a recent plague that drove the remaining survivors into a heavily guarded city. Now the Zombies roam about an airport terminal, searching for human prey and living in fear of the vicious Boneys, the next undead incarnation.

One day, R and his best friend M lumber toward the city in search of food. There, R first sets his eyes on JULIE (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful human. Determined to save her—first from the other Zombies and then from the Boneys—R hides her in his home, a cluttered 747 aircraft. Julie is terrified, and R’s grunted assurances of “Not…eat” do little to calm her. But when R begins to act more human than Zombie, coming to her defense, refusing to eat human flesh, and even speaking in full sentences, Julie realizes that R is special.

After a few close calls with the Boneys, and with her father mounting an armed search for her, Julie realizes she can’t hide forever. So she sneaks back home, leaving R broken-hearted. Desperate to see her, R decides to comb his hair, stand a little straighter, and impersonate a human long enough to get past the city guards. If only he can prove to the humans that Zombies can change, maybe R and Julie’s love might stand a chance. But with the rampaging Boneys heading toward the city and Julie’s father intent on killing R and his Zombie friends, the stage is set for an all-out battle between the living and the undead.

A genre-bending tale of love and transformation, WARM BODIES is a story about a boy who loves a girl…for more than just her body.

I have to admit, I'm intrigued. And you know zombies are all the rage these days. It sounds demented and lovely, similar to 2010's Let Me In has just unveiled the first four minutes of the movie, which you can see below:

Oddball, right? But cute and actually funny, I think. WARM BODIES hits theaters February 1st.

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Holy Motors" is Among the Films Nominated for Best Picture by the Online Film Critics' Society

Just when you thought we were done with the precursor film award nominations, the Online Film Critics Society has unveiled their list of honorees. It's quite a varied bunch, with some old faithfuls strewn about from the remains of this season's noteworthy award organizations. 

As mentioned previously, I'm not really a fan of a few of the films included on the list, including The Master and Moonrise Kingdom, and the glaring omissions of Middle of Nowhere and Central Park Five are unfortunate. Also, I'm quite surprised that the lackluster and wildly overrated Cabin in the Woods scored a best screenplay nod here. But my interest for Holy Motors, nominated here for best picture, has certainly been piqued. It hasn't received much love from awards committees this season, so it's nice to see it here, adding some much needed variety. 

The full list is below:

Best Picture
"Holy Motors"
"The Master"
"Moonrise Kingdom"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Director
Ben Affleck, "Argo"
Leos Carax, "Holy Motors"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master"
Wes Anderson, "Moonrise Kingdom"
Kathryn Bigelow, "Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"
John Hawkes, "The Sessions"
Denis Lavant, "Holy Motors"
Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"
Denzel Washington, "Flight"

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Rachel Weisz, "The Deep Blue Sea"

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, "Argo"
Dwight Henry, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained"

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, "The Master"
Ann Dowd, "Compliance"
Sally Field, "Lincoln"
Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"

Best Original Screenplay
"The Cabin in the Woods"
"The Master"
"Moonrise Kingdom"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Adapted Screenplay
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Cloud Atlas"

Best Foreign Language Film
"Holy Motors"
"Rust and Bone"
"This Is Not a Film"
"The Turin Horse"

Best Animated Feature
"The Secret World of Arrietty"
"Wreck-It Ralph"

Best Documentary
"The Imposter"
"The Invisible War"
"Jiro Dreams of Sushi"
"The Queen of Versailles"
"This Is Not a Film"

Best Cinematography
"Life of Pi"
"The Master"
"Moonrise Kingdom"

Best Editing
"Cloud Atlas"
"The Master"
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Winners will be announced on January 7th. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tyler Perry's Answer to the Apocalypse: The Trailer for His New Film, "Confessions of a Marriage Counselor"

Figures that the day before the Mayan-predicted apocalypse, Tyler Perry would squeeze out one more movie trailer to leave us with for the rest of eternity. Titled Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, the film stars Jurnee Smollett as Judith, a woman who seems to be at a crossroads with her marriage and career.

Here's the rather simple synopsis from IMDB:

A marriage counselor’s personal and professional life becomes complicated after she enters into a relationship with one of her clients.

The fact that Smollett is headlining the movie is certainly a good look. She's been in desperate need of a lead role worthy of her talent (though I'm not sure she found one with this vehicle). Lance Gross, fresh off his starring role in Matthew Cherry's The Last Fall is playing more of a supporting role here as the dull husband who, judging by the trailer, takes his wife (Smollett) for granted until she gets close to Harley (Robbie Jones). 

Also, it looks like Vanessa Williams may or may not be playing her usual catty bitch role, but with an accent here. Oh, and Kim Kardashian and Brandy are in the movie in some capacity. 

As for the clip, it just screams made for TV. The characters are, as usual, one-dimensional in a paint-by-numbers plot. But, hey, maybe the movie is better than the trailer. Hopefully. 

Check it out below:

Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor releases in theaters March 29th.

Possibly Fatal Movie Events from 2012 that the Mayans Can Use Against Us

The Mayans have long predicted that tomorrow, December 21st, will be the end of days. And, I don't know about you, but I just want to make sure that this year's film tragedies are not held up in the court of apocalypse. So, without further ado, this is my plea to the Mayans that they discount the below catastrophes that plagued the film-going community this year:

Liam Neeson, the action figure (Battleship, Taken 2): Every actor has the right to dip in other genres now and again. But Liam Neeson has overstayed his welcome in the action game.Since we're faced with our own mortality here, we have to understand that he is mentioned here only because he's so good in his dramatic performances (i.e. Schindler's List, almost 20 years ago). We miss him so much as a real actor (not to say that the action genre doesn't allow real acting, but you know what I mean). Liam, I beg of you, put the children's games down and get back to making grown up movies. And a big screen Lego movie doesn't count. Obviously.

The found footage genre (Chronicle, Paranormal Activity 4): *Sigh* This one is a real nuisance because it rears its ugly head every couple of months. This brings us to the following question: when is the found footage genre going to finally get lost (and stay lost)? Chronicle was unwatchable, and the fourth installment of the horror franchise, Paranormal Activity, from what I hear, wasn't worth the price of admission. Yet these two are just the latest in this overrated and gimmicky genre. It's time folks, we need to flip the switch on this. Today.

Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street, People's Sexiest Man Alive): If he's the prototype for award-nominated acting, then we have a much bigger problem than the Mayans. Channing Tatum has made Hollywood his strip club, shimmying around half naked in one bad movie after the next while willing moviegoers throw dollars down his underoos. We have to do something about this, for real. Tatum has teased us with plans to "take a break," but he's still right here!!

Tyler Perry (Alex Cross, Good Deeds, Madea's Witness Protection):Unconfirmed evidence has shown that this actor/writer/director might have been working for the Mayans all along, but we just haven't been paying attention to the fact. Each year he continues to top his last failure with yet another epic disaster. It's almost fascinating at this point, but not fascinating enough for us to have suffer for its sins. Please let this not rule our fate. We will sacrifice his movies if we have to.

Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter): How come nobody told me that 213-year-old Abraham Lincoln was staging a comeback this year? And why wasn't it good? We're not even going to discuss why they had the man running around slaying vampires, but we must address the fact that he was dusted off to reenact events from his political career in one of the most boring yet exquisitely acted 95-hour long movies (and there were a few of them) this year. We could have really watched Lincoln on the History channel, where we would have easily been able to switch to another channel when imperative. Comeback fail.

The oxymoron that is Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator, Les Misérables): This one's tricky because Cohen is actually a decent actor. But then sometimes he's trying so hard not be good that our selective memory kicks in and we're unable to remember his more commendable performances, like in this year's Les Misérables and last year's Hugo. Sacha, we want to like you. Make it easier for us. The Mayans are watching.

Holla if you feel me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A New Trailer Emerges for Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder," Starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem

As you might have gathered from my scathing review of The Tree of Life last year, I'm not what you would call a die-hard fan of writer/director Terrence Malick. But, man, does he know how to make something look good, even without it actually being good.

It looks like he's up to his old tricks again in the new trailer for To the Wonder, which is of course virtually mute except for Javier Bardem's intriguing voiceover. What we can discern is that the movie will be quite sensual and probably filled with beautiful imagery that may or may not tell a story about, which, in the usual case of Malick films, may or may not be interesting.

Here's the LONG official synopsis (from Indiewire):

TO THE WONDER, written and directed by Terrence Malick, is a romantic drama centered on Neil, a man who is torn between two loves: Marina, the European woman who came to United States to be with him, and Jane, the old flame he reconnects with from his hometown. In TO THE WONDER, Malick explores how love and its many phases and seasons – passion, sympathy, obligation, sorrow, indecision – can transform, destroy, and reinvent lives.

As TO THE WONDER opens, Neil and Marina are together on the French island of Mont St. Michel – known in France as The Wonder of the Western World (Merveille de l’Occident) – and invigorated by feelings of being newly in love. Neil, an aspiring writer, has left the United States in search of a better life, leaving behind a string of unhappy affairs. Looking into Marina’s eyes as the Abbey looms in the distance, Neil is certain he has finally found the one woman he can love with commitment. He makes a vow to be true to this woman alone.

Marina, quiet and beautiful, with flashes of a mischievous humor, is divorced and the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, Tatiana. At 16, Marina left the Ukraine for Paris without a cent to her name. There, she married a Frenchman who abandoned her after just two years, leaving her alone with Tatiana in a studio apartment. Marina was forced to work a variety of temporary jobs to make her way. Having nearly given up hope, Marina is overcome with joy to be in love with Neil, her salvation from an unhappy future.

Two years later, Neil and Marina are living in a small town in Oklahoma, close to where Neil grew up. Neil, having given up his hopes of becoming a writer, has taken a job as an environmental inspector. Neil is happy with his work, but his love for Marina cools as she, for her part, is frustrated by the holding pattern she feels she is in with Neil. She fears her youth – and happiness – are slipping away. In spite of her anxieties about Neil, Marina initially feels at home in Oklahoma, embraced by the open space and sky, and soothed by the sounds that come from the wind harp that animates breezes into songs.

Seeking advice, Marina turns to another exile in the community, a Catholic priest named Quintana. We learn that Father Quintana has come to grapple with his own dilemmas, as he harbors doubts about his vocation. He no longer feels the ardor he knew in the first days of his faith, and wonders if he ever will again.

Professional life throws Neil into conflict as well, when he discovers that a smelting operation in town is polluting the soil and water and threatening the health of future generations. His concerns fail to persuade his neighbors, who depend on the smelter for their livelihoods. Under pressure to keep quiet, Neil must once again weigh the consequences of his actions. Neil’s doubts about Marina intensify. This, coupled with the fact that Marina’s visa is soon to expire, leads her to return to France with her daughter. In her absence, Neil reconnects with Jane, an old friend. As the two of them fall deeply in love, Neil finds this new relationship far less complicated. Yet when word comes to him that Marina has fallen on hard times and her daughter has gone to live with her father and refuses to have anything more to do with her, he finds himself gripped by a sense of responsibility for her well being, and arranges for her return to the United States.

Neil’s entanglements with the two women in his life, and Father Quintana’s struggle with his faith, force them both to consider different kinds of love. Should the commitment they each made be undertaken as a duty, sometimes full of effort? Or should we accept that love often changes, and doesn't always last? Can sorrow bind lovers more tightly than joy?

This sounds like it could be deeply poetic, which I hope is captured in the film. It will be good to see Ben Affleck (Neil) in this kind of role (he's rested on the tough, lost guy characters throughout his career), and Bardem play against type as the Catholic priest.

Also, I really hope Rachel McAdams can repair the shattered pieces of her once promising career with the role of Jane (who sounds much like her character in Midnight in Paris).

Another person is simply mesmerizing in the trailer is Olga Kurylenko, who plays Marina. I don't know what she's doing exactly, but she makes me interesting to find out.

To the Wonder releases in theaters April 12th.

The Trailer for "Pain & Gain" May Actually be Painful to Watch

Just think, if it wasn't for Magic Mike's recent success, we wouldn't be able to see so many desperately mediocre "based on a true story" screenplays masked by a bunch of greasy male bodies on the big screen. And who would want to miss the chance to see director Michael Bay's latest flop masterpiece, Pain and Gain?

Starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, the half comedy/half (???)  Pain and Gain looks like it popped right out of the bromance movie pez dispenser, down to the actors' glistening muscles on the official movie poster (above). More on it below:

From acclaimed director Michael Bay comes “Pain and Gain,” a new action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Based on the unbelievable true story of three personal trainers in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong. Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Rebel Wilson and Bar Paly also star. The film is based on magazine articles by Pete Collins, with a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and produced by Donald DeLine, Michael Bay and Ian Bryce.

Captain America: First Avenger writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely penned the script, which may alleviate some concern you might have for it. And it can't be too bad if Ed Harris and Anthony Mackie are in it, right? RIGHT?! 

Take a look at the new trailer:

Pain and Gain hits theaters April 26th. 

"Middle of Nowhere" Leads the 2013 Black Reel Award Nominees

This morning the nominations for the 2013 Black Reel Awards, which honor the best in African-American talent, were announced. Director Ava Duvernay's absolutely lovely indie drama, Middle of Nowhere, catapults to the top of the list with a staggering nine nominations, including a best picture nod and another for lead actress Emayatzy Corinealdi.

Overall, the nominee list is quite solid. A few notables I'm happy to see recognized are Nate Parker for his scene-stealing performance in Arbitrage, Rashida Jones for Celeste and Jesse Forever, and of course Jamie Foxx and Sam Jackson for Django Unchained (to name just a few).

Take a look at the full list of film nominees below. Winners will be announced next month.

Outstanding Motion Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild | Michael Gottwald, John Penn & Dan Javey (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Django Unchained | Reginald Huldin, Pilar Savone & Stacey Sher (Columbia Pictures)/(The Weinstein Company)
Flight | Laurie McDonald, Walter F. Parkes, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey & Robert Zemeckis (Paramount)
The Intouchables | Laurent Zeitoun, Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky & Yann Zenou (The Weinstein Company)
Middle of Nowhere | Ava DuVernay, Paul Garnes & Howard Barish (AFFRM)

Outstanding Actor

Jamie Foxx | Django Unchained (Columbia Pictures)/(The Weinstein Company)
Nate Parker | Red Tails (20th Century Fox)/(LucasFilm)
Chris Rock | 2 Days in New York (Magnolia Pictures)
Omar Sy | The Intouchables (The Weinstein Company)
Denzel Washington | Flight (Paramount)

Outstanding Actress 

Halle Berry | Cloud Atlas (Warner Brothers)
Emayatzy Corinealdi | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Viola Davis | Won’t Back Down (20th Century Fox)
Rashida Jones | Celeste and Jesse Forever (Sony Pictures Classics)
Quvenzhane Wallis | Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight)

Outstanding Supporting Actor 

Mike Epps | Sparkle (Tristar Pictures)
Dwight Henry | Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight)
Samuel L. Jackson | Django Unchained (Columbia Pictures)/(The Weinstein Company)
David Oyelowo | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Nate Parker | Arbitrage (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Supporting Actress 

Naomie Harris | Skyfall (MGM)/ (Columbia)
Octavia Spencer | Smashed (Sony Pictures Classics)
Lorraine Toussaint | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Tamara Tunie | Flight (Paramount)
Kerry Washington | Django Unchained (Columbia)/(The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Director

Salim Akil | Sparkle (Tristar Pictures)
Ava DuVernay | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Spike Lee | Red Hook Summer (Variance Films)
Peter Ramsey | Rise of the Guardians (Paramount)
Tim Story | Think Like A Man (Screen Gems)

Outstanding Screenplay (Adapted or Original)

Mara Brock Akil | Sparkle (Tristar Pictures)
Ava DuVernay | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack | Celeste and Jesse Forever (Sony Pictures Classics)
Spike Lee & James McBride | Red Hook Summer (Variance Films)
Aaron McGruder & John Ridley | Red Tails (20th Century Fox)/(LucasFilm)

Outstanding Feature Documentary

Bad 25 | Spike Lee
Brooklyn Castle | Katie Dallamaggiore (Producers Distribution Agency)
The Central Park Five | SarahBurns, Ken Burns & David McMahon (Sundance Select)
Marley | Kevin McDonald (Magnolia Pictures)
Searching for Sugar Man | Malik Bendjelloul (Sony Pictures Classics)

Outstanding Ensemble

Django Unchained | Casting Director: Victoria Thomas (Columbia)/(The Weinstein Company)
Flight | Casting Director: Victoria Burrows (Paramount)
Middle of Nowhere | Casting Director: Aisha Coley (AFFRM)
Sparkle | Casting Director: Twinkie Byrd (Tristar Pictures)
Think Like A Man | Casting Director: Kim Hardin (Screen Gems)

Outstanding Foreign Film

Elza | Guadeloupe (Autonomous Entertainment)
The Intouchables | France (The Weinstein Company)
Ties That Bind | South Africa (Image Entertainment)
Toussaint L’Ouverture| France
Wuthering Heights | United Kingdom (Laboratories)

Outstanding Score

Terence Blanchard | Red Tails (20th Century Fox)/(LucasFilm)
Kathryn Bostic | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Bruce Hornsby | Red Hook Summer (Variance Films)
Salaam Remi | Sparkle (Tristar Pictures)
Dan Romer & Behn Zeitilin | Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight Studios)

Outstanding Original or Adapted Song (awarded to the artist and songwriter)

“Carry It” from The Man With the Iron Fists | Performed and Written by: Travis Barker, RZA, Tom Morrello & Raekwon (Universal)
“Celebrate” from Sparkle | Performed by: Jordin Sparks & Whitney Houston; Written by: R. Kelly (Tristar Pictures)
“No Church in the Wild” from Safe House | Performed by: Jay-Z, Kanye West & Frank Ocean; Written by: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, The-Dream, Chales Nipa, Joseph Roach, Gary Wright, James Brown, Michael Dean & Phil Manzanera (Universal)
“Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” from Think Like a Man | Performed by: John Legend & Ludacris; Written: Allen Arthur, Keith Justice, Clayton Reilly, Miguel Pimental, John Legend & Ludacris (Screen Gems)
“Who Did That to You” from Django Unchained | Performed by: John Legend; Written by: John Legend & Paul Epworth (Columbia Pictures)/(The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance

Emayatzy Corinealdi | Middle of Nowhere (AFFRM)
Dwight Henry | Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight Studios)
Amandla Stenberg | The Hunger Games (Lionsgate)
Omar Sy | The Intouchables (The Weinstein Company)
Quvenzhane Wallis | Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight Studios)

Outstanding Voice Performance

Tempestt Bledsoe | ParaNorman (Focus Features)
Dennis Haysbert | Wreck-it Ralph (Walt Disney)
Queen Latifah | Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox)
Chris Rock | Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Paramount)
Wanda Sykes | Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox)

Outstanding Independent Film

Elza | Mariette Monpierre (Autonomous Entertainment)
Four | Joshua Sanchez
The Last Fall | Matthew A. Cherry (Image Entertainment)
LUV | Sheldon Candis (Indomina Releasing)
Yelling to the Sky | Victoria Mahoney (MPI Media Group)

Outstanding Independent Documentary 

BMF: The Rise and Fall of Hip-Hop Drug Empire | D. Skiorski
Contradictions of Fair Hope | S. Epatha Merkerson & Rockell Metcalf
From Fatherless to Fatherhood | Kobie Brown
Justice for Sale | Femke & Isla van Velzen
Soul Food Junkies | Byron Hurt

Outstanding Independent Short

The Bluest Note | Marques Green
Crossover | Tina Mabry
The Last/First Kiss | Andrea Ashton
Record/Play | Jesse Atlas
White Space | Maya Washington

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Cinema in Noir" Ranks the Best and Worst of 2012, and Reviews the Films You Should See this Month

It's that time of the year when we at Cinema In Noir must celebrate the highs (like Django Unchained, reviewed here) and spectacular lows of the year (and there have been some doozies). We look at those films that we thought were underrated (Celeste and Jesse Forever, for instance) and those others we thought should have never got off the ground (*cough* A Thousand Words *cough*).

We're taking no prisoners on tonight's podcast, and there is no doubt that feelings will be hurt. But it must be done.

We also share our reviews of this month's holiday films, including Django Unchained and Les Misérables, and last week's interesting award nominees.

Check out the recap of today's Cinema in Noir below:

Listen to internet radio with KimberlyRenee on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tom Hooper Makes "Les Misérables" More Accessible and Glamorous for a New Audience

After countless adaptations of Victor Hugo's nineteenth century politically charged tale, Les Misérables, Hollywood (by way of director Tom Hooper) has revamped the classic once more, giving it an uber glamorized look despite its dismal themes.

Unlike more recent movie musicals, the story of Les Misérables is strictly told in song. There are no times when the actors stop their ballad mid lyric and start speaking in dialogue. In other words, this variation is much like the beloved stage production, so prepare yourselves if you're not into 2.5-hour theatrical concerts.

But thankfully the cast (minus Russell Crowe, we'll get to him in a bit) can certainly hold a note. It's like they're all competing against each other for that last vacant spot on "American Idol." Hugh Jackman, who's critically acclaimed for his Broadway work in productions like "The Boy from Oz," finally sheds his Wolverine image in this heart-rending performance as Jean Valjean, an impoverished Frenchman who steals a loaf a bread for his starving sister and is sent to jail. After escaping prison several times, which leads to a lengthier sentence, he spends the remainder of the movie (and his life) on the run from ruthless detective Javert (Crowe) and caring for Cosette, an orphan he meets on his laborious odyssey that sparks a revolutionary battle between the armored and tattered-clothed.

The film moves rather swiftly through time, roughly thirty years or so, which might be difficult for viewers who are unfamiliar with the story. Perhaps the smaller details about Valjean's journey were irrelevant for this big screen adventure (which is already running long), but those significant events really help build character and emotional investment from the viewers. So to negate them here seems like a rather odd decision for such a passionate story.

But Anne Hathaway's affecting portrayal of Fantine, a peasant young woman forced to sell her hair, teeth and her pride to provide for her daughter, Cosette, is as tender as it is the exact pivot the film needed to steer it back in the right direction. With Jackman's woefully heroic portrayal being the centerpiece of the film, the flamboyant song and dance numbers and Crowe's weaker performance often had it spinning in a circle on its own.

And now this brings us to Crowe and the other supporting performances in the film. In theory, Crowe seems like he would be the perfect current actor to bring to life Javert--a brooding, relentless, tortured soul in his own right. But put to music, his performance is swallowed whole. The core is still there, but Crowe is just not the right actor for this kind of musical adaptation. And that is a real shame.

On the other hand, Samantha Barks, who reprises her role as Éponine from the stage production, delivers one of the stand out performances in the film. She is introduced about an hour into the story as the ill-fated admirer of Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a character that has all the potential to be melodramatic and maudlin but with Barks' portrayal she becomes the person who, like Valjean, embodies the film's most paramount themes.

With a cast this size, it's easy to see how a few characters would appear thrown frivolously throughout the story purely for entertainment value on the big screen as opposed to the other mediums. For instance, the villainous Thénardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen), who were prominent figures in the book, are reduced to comic relief in the movie. This is a welcomed shift in tone, but lessens their impact to the story, specifically how it influences Fantine and her daughter. While Carter and Bonham give fine performances that are entertaining to watch, a more judiciously written arc provided by William Nicholson (Gladiator) would have served them well.

The poignant romantic element in the movie, the one which balances the overwhelming layer of drab and sadness, belongs to Marius and Cosette (played as an adult by Amanda Seyfried). Their youthful optimism and passion for each other and the betterment of their depleted world adds a much needed nuance. Redmayne is steadily inexpressive throughout the movie which impedes his performance, but Seyfried delivers one of the best of her career. Since her character is central to the plot, Seyyfried's less colorful portrayal may fall under the radar in this grandiose production but is effectively poised.

Les Misérables is an ambitious effort from Hooper, who impressed the academy with his last film The King's Speech. The director clearly has an affinity for illuminating the civic story, which he takes to a fantastical level in this film as he submerges the audience into this forgotten world of sub-level humanity. Driving an emotional dagger straight through the audience, he often employs extreme profile shots of each cast member as they deliver their most wistful prose. While it isn't a consummate movie, Les Misérables will stir a younger generation of fans with its glitz and charm and perhaps pioneer a new style of movie musicals.

Rating: C+

Les Misérables opens in theaters December 25th.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Wolverine" Strikes a Thinking Man Pose, in the Pouring Rain, in the Film's New Motion Poster

I can't say I'm too geeked about seeing Hugh Jackman as a jacked up tough guy (I prefer him in more dramatic or whimsical fare), but fanboys seem to love him as Wolverine. The actor is reprising his grizzly role from the X-Men franchise in his very own movie next summer. More on it below (from

Based on the celebrated comic book arc, THE WOLVERINE finds Logan, the eternal warrior and outsider, in Japan. There, samurai steel will clash with adamantium claw as Logan confronts a mysterious figure from his past in an epic battle that will leave him forever changed.

The synopsis above entices the die hard fans without divulging any hints about the "mysterious figure from his past," while it guarantees epic action scenes and comic book flair. But, more importantly, check out this life-size motion poster:

Wolverine releases in theaters July 26th. 

A Review of "This is 40" (Not to to be Confused with "This is 35," Also Known as "Knocked Up")

Debbie and Pete (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd), the scene-stealing couple from 2009's Knocked Up, pick things up right where they left off--spewing one hilariously bitter one liner after another at each other--in writer/director Judd Apatow's follow-up film, This is 40. But aside from catching up with the wacky pair in their own spinoff movie, and with just a few years separating the two films, the film seems more like an expansion of the first movie rather than a separate film altogether.

Though Apatow himself has emphatically stated that "this isn't a sequel," you can't help but wonder what makes it otherwise. Aside from the absence of the two lead characters from the first film (played by Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl), this is pretty much the pair's exact same story from the previous movie. Debbie is annoyed with everything Pete does (or doesn't) do, which includes his performance in bed. Pete just wants more "me" time to make something more out of his indie rock career at it comes to a crossroad, and to stay on his wife's good side (as soon as she gets one). And their kids are still unruly brats. The only teeny difference here is that they're struggling with all these things as they now approach middle age (otherwise known here as 40), and as their kids are entering puberty. It's like if Knocked Up was instead titled This is 35, and This is 40 were chapter two. It's just redundant.

But the film still moves along as Debbie and Pete prepare to celebrate (and, in Debbie's case, not celebrate) their 40th birthdays. Debbie is in denial of her age, which causes her to have a total breakdown and lash out at everyone, including her children's innocent classmates. And if you've seen Knocked Up, then you already know that Debbie's temper tantrums can be pretty glorious to watch. They're just so random and vile.

This time she's also added to her hit list Desi (Megan Fox), the scantily-clad associate who works at her store (of whom she may or may not be jealous). Think of Desi as the "pissy little high school c*nt" that Debbie bemoaned in Knocked Up. Except that she's not in high school and she's not at all pissy, which obviously makes her more despicable to Debbie.

Back at home, Debbie and Pete, under Debbie's orders, try to reorganize their life to become the mature aging adults by removing Pete's still-procreating dad (Albert Brooks) from their expenses, eating better, and spending more time together as a family. This of course sends the kids and Pete into a tailspin, especially when Debbie bans the use of electronic devices during certain times of the day, a demand which turns their daughter Sadie (Maude Apatow) into a belligerent teenager.

But even with the efforts to progress the conflict of the characters, This is 40 still comes off as a repeat episode of Knocked Up. It also rides more on the comedy shtick between Debbie and Pete and less on developing an actual story about them, which is unfortunate. Although Debbie and Pete are wildly entertaining to watch as they fumble toward their birthdays, it would have been nice to see a curve in their characters so that they didn't come off as mere sitcom characters going through a rough patch. These fine actors could have certainly handled that challenge.

Also, the last thirty minutes of the film really flew off the rails, and not in a good way. For some reason  decided to make the third act less about the couple and more about their fathers, pinpointing them as the source of all their problems. John Lithgow, who played Debbie father, was most awkward not in performance but in the fact that his storyline seemed tacked on and heavy where it wasn't needed. Near the conclusion of a film it's never wise to add a new story element and conflict; it's almost always going to seem rushed and unresolved by the end. This is exactly what happens here.

Otherwise, audiences will love to see Debbie and Pete rekindle their year-long marital bliss filled with tough love and harsh realities. Mann and Rudd's chemistry together should be bottled and sold; they both match each other's penchant for sarcasm, sharp wit and raunchy humor. With an ending that leaves it open for another continuation of the Pete and Debbie saga, if This is 40 does well audiences should be prepared to see a This is 45 in five years.

Rating: C+

This is 40 hits theaters December 21st.

The Golden Globe Noms Were Announced and They Score an "D" in Diversity and and "A" in WTF?

Well, this is getting scary. The Golden Globe Award nominees were announced this morning and, for the most part, they've copied pretty much every other precursor list. But the gaping omission of Samuel L. Jackson's career rejuvenating performance in Django Unchained is downright criminal at this point. It's also getting more and more clear that awards are just not ready to honor a slave retaliation performance, which probably explains Jamie Foxx's snub.

Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz were great in the film, which at least got more love from the Golden Globes than previous awards, but Jackson could have surely replaced Alan Arkin's slot for Argo. Or even Beasts of the Southern Wild's Dwight Henry. Besides, Arkin's accolades are completely overblown at this point.

And, let's be real, Nate Parker's performance in the small but poignant film Arbitrage is far more impressive than Richard Gere's quiet and unmoving one. I'll raise you a Parker for a Phillip Seymour Hoffman (I really don't need to reiterate how drab The Master is, but Joaquin Phoenix's performance at least delivered).

Two other MAJOR shutouts are Beasts of the Southern Wild and Paranorman. The former has been gaining plenty momentum this season and is very noticeably absent here. This solidifies the fact that, except for the best director nod for Ang Li's for Life of Pi and Denzel Washington's Flight nomination, there are no other nominees of color here. However, Django Unchained's multiple nominations (while deserved) for everyone except its black cast, and director Peter Ramsey's Rise of the Guardians nod for animated film could be seen as makeup points. But they're not.

And Paranorman is one of the top three animated movies of the year, hands down. That could have edged out either Rise of the Guardians or Wreck It Ralph, which are both good in they're own right but not as good as Paranorman.

Can we go a year without a Meryl Streep nomination? Clearly not. This Hope Springs nomination must be contractual. Other random nods are Life of Pi and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, along with Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea and Bill Murray in Hyde Park on the Hudson. Of those four, I've only seen The Deep Blue Sea, which was slow as molasses but the cinematography and performances were in the least committed to the rather bleak screenplay. In other words, Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quvenzhané Wallis could have taken Weisz's slot.

End of rant. Read the full list of film nominees below:

Best Motion Picture, Comedy
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen 

Silver Linings Playbook

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Director, Motion Picture
Ben Affleck, Argo
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Ewen McGregor, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Judy Dench, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Maggie Smith, Quartet
Meryl Streep, Hope Springs

Best Foreign Language Film
Amour (Austria)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
The Intouchables (France)
Kon-Tiki (Norway/UK/Demark)
Rust and Bone (France)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Alan Arkin, Argo
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Animated Film
Hotel Transylvania
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck it Ralph

Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture
Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)
Lincoln (Tony Kushner)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Argo (Chris Terrio)

Best Score for a Motion Picture
Life of Pi (Mychael Danna)
Argo (Alexandre Desplat)
Anna Karenina (Dario Marianelli)
Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil)
Lincoln (John Williams)

Best Original Song, Motion Picture
“For You” – Act of Valor
“Not Running Anymore” – Stand Up Guys
“Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift – The Hunger Games
“Skyfall” – Skyfall
“Suddenly” – Les Miserables

Anybody else mad at more than a few of these categories? The Golden Globe Awards will air live on January 13th at 8pm EST/5pm PST on NBC with hosts Amy Poehler & Tina Fey

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Idris Elba and "Sons of Anarchy" Star Charlie Hunnam Contend with Colossal Aliens in the First Trailer for "Pacific Rim"

It seems like Idris Elba is giving Will Smith a run for his money as he continues to carve a little niche within the alien movie genre.

Last seen in the mega sci-fi flick of the summer, Prometheus, Elba is teaming up with TV's "Sons of Anarchy" star Charlie Hunnam to face off against GIGANTIC aliens in the Guillermo del Toro-directed film, Pacific Rim.

More on the film below (from Flicks and Bits):

From acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic sci-fi action adventure “Pacific Rim.” When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Oscar® nominee Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) is directing “Pacific Rim” from a script by Travis Beacham (“Clash of the Titans”). Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Mary Parent are producing, with Callum Greene serving as executive producer. The film stars Charlie Hunnam (TV’s “Sons of Anarchy”), Idris Elba (“Thor”), Rinko Kikuchi (“The Brothers Bloom”), Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses”), and Ron Perlman (the “Hellboy” films). The ensemble cast also includes Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins, Jr., Burn Gorman, Larry Joe Campbell, Diego Klattenhoff, and Brad William Henke.

Del Toro’s behind-the-scenes team includes Academy Award®-winning director of photography Guillermo Navarro, production designer Andrew Neskoromny, editor Peter Amundson, and costume designer Kate Hawley. Slated for release in Summer 2013, “Pacific Rim” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures. The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Admittedly, ever since I became obsessed with "Sons of Anarchy," so came my infatuation with Hunnam. So I'm psyched to see him on the big screen (and in 3D!!!). And, of course, it's great to see Elba in an alien film and possibly saving the day not from the comforts of a spaceship, but actually getting his hands dirty on the ground like real heroes. As Claires Danes would say, holla!!!

As for the trailer itself (below), it's action flick porn in its purest sense. And I'm a fan of del Toro's Hellboy movies (also starring the great Ron Perlman), so I'm curious to see what he did with this.  

Consider my interest officially piqued Who else is anxious to see Pacific Rim when it comes to theaters July 12th, 20313?

Jessica Chastain's Performance Propels the Exquisitely Sharp But Aloof, "Zero Dark Thirty"

With her latest film Zero Dark Thirty, filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow continues her charge of completely eliminating any doubt that she's going to be to that type of female director. You know the kind, the one that purposely tries to connect with her female audience by yanking tears from them or providing any real nuance or connectivity.

And she has beaten any expectations to the contrary out of the audience with this movie that exhausts the hunt for and ultimate death of terrorist Osama bin Laden. Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, a smart CIA operative who's made it her sole mission to lead the search for bin Laden and ensure that he will no longer be a threat to anyone ever again. When we first meet her, however, she's squeamish at even the sight of blood as she watches her male counterpart (Jason Clarke) brutally interrogate a possible terrorist lackey.

But when it seems like she's played all her cards, she's the single woman left standing among a weary team of men and bravely rises to the occasion. Though the audience follows her decade-long ordeal to capture and eliminate bin Laden, not without witnessing many innocent deaths, rarely does she ever emit any emotion from the audience. In fact, with the exception of Chastain's emotionally spent final scene, which is more of a release than anything else, few areas in the film waste time tugging at the heartstrings. Rather, Maya's relentless journey seems more stressful and high-pressured than wrought with emotion and painful to endure. There could have been more of a balance, rather than a ruler-sharp portrayal of a woman tackling her position. Granted, this is expected from a character in this line of work, but it made for a very detached commitment to the character from the audience. Just when we get to see a trace of personal struggle from Maya, Bigelow quickly snaps us back to the matter at hand.

Even though that's just not Bigelow's style, she surprisingly grips audiences in the first few minutes of the film when they listen to the barrage of frightful phone calls to 911 during the September 11th attacks. Reliving those tragic moments, then following it with the scene to Chastain huddled in the corner of the interrogation room sets the tone of the movie and leaves no questions about the intentions of the story. It's clear, steady and deliberate retaliation. And there is simply no time for fear.

Chastain leaps into the role, completely shedding any remnant of every other character she's played, and attacks it with the vigor and confidence it needs. Think Carrie on TV's Homeland minus the glimmer of insanity (though it would have been understandable given her circumstances).

Unfolding like a timetable of harrowing events during this time, the movie might not elicit much empathy but it does successfully manage to push audiences to the edge of their seats, creating a heart-pounding thriller that is suspenseful despite the fact that you know what's going to happen. Alexandre Desplat's affecting score further heightens that effect. Bigelow's stark but realistic approach to Mark Boal's (with whom she first collaborated on The Hurt Locker) story is gritty and firm, leaving no room for fluff scenes (though the fleeting scene between Chastain and Jennifer Ehle, who plays a member of the retaliation crew, is much welcomed).

With a cast, which include James Gandolfini, Kyle Chandler, and Mark Strong, that's committed to the increasingly tense dialogue and demanding story, Zero Dark Thirty offers audience a look at the much meticulous investigation that was shrouded in secrecy, one which led to the ultimate capture of bin Laden. But it is Chastain's performance, as restrained as it is powerful, that may just be the cherry atop this massive and meticulous film.

Rating: A-

Zero Dark Thirty is in theaters December 19th.

Quentin Tarantino Turns the Slavery Drama on Its Head with the Epic Western, "Django Unchained"

The western genre, even with its finest O.K. Corral tumbleweed toss, hasn't really been kind to its minority characters. In fact, many characters of color (the few they had) were played by white actors. But this Christmas filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is pushing their stories to the forefront with a western-styled dramedy set two years before the Civil War that follows a recently freed slave (Jamie Foxx), who embarks on a quest to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of brutal slave-owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Much like his previous film Inglourious Basterds, with Django Unchained Tarantino treads the very thin line between enhanced drama and comedy with a film that eagerly takes as many risks as it pushes the boundaries of telling a story like this. There are genuine tear-jerking moments, and some which are even uncomfortable to watch, that are finely balanced with knee-slapping spaghetti western antics borrowed from a number of those that came before it, including Sergio Corbucci's Django in 1966. For instance, a flashback scene as heavy as Broomhilda (Washington) getting whipped by her master is quickly countered by a scene which shows an implacable Django (Foxx) plotting with the help of a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue her and kill every (white) man who's had a part in the matter. In other words, this is not your typically depressing cotton-picking-on-the-plantation slavery movie; rather, it's a Defiant Ones-esque buddy film that smartly uses a realistic era to redefine the western film.

But before that really gets under way, we meet Waltz's character Dr. King Schultz (which may or may not be Tarantino's wink at a Dr. Martin Luther King reference). He's a wise-talking bounty hunter posing as a "doctor" to his unsuspecting victims. He's also a non-threatening German white who just so happens to be in favor of the abolition of U.S. slavery, which makes him a reluctant but liable comrade to Django, who he meets on a job. You can tell Waltz is having fun with the role as he delivers each of Schultz's lines with just the right amount of snark at every situation at he's placed in. Schultz needs Django for his latest task, so he locates him and hijacks his and other slaves' transport killing their captors and unleashing Django.

Together the two travel across the country--Schultz to complete a series of jobs and Django to be his right hand man. But Django has another mission in mind--he's going to use this opportunity to gladly assist Schultz in the killing spree of several white men--most of whom own slaves--as he works his way to Candie's plantation, Candyland.

Foxx plays Django as a very calm and collected man, without making him a woefully tragic archetype similar to the many slave characters before him. Rather, Django, donning a cowboy hat and a gun belt, carries a chip on his shoulder and a hole in his heart due to the years-long separation from his beloved. Once he loses the chains and gets his cowboy makeover, he becomes the Charles Bronson of slavery westerns, both angering and perplexing his white counterparts with his peculiar confidence (they stare in awe at a black man on a horse). Foxx embodies this protagonist, illuminating the fact that he may not be the smartest guy, but he's certainly got the drop on all these jokers who've tried to play him for a dunce all of his life. And true to many Tarantino characters, Django slips on a cool exterior duping the fellas around him and bringing swagger back to the cowboy game.

And speaking of atypical characters, Django Unchained is full of them. Although there are no predictable victims in the film, it does keep in tune with the inevitable damsel in distress role that Washington impressively tackles and makes neither feeble nor overtly empowered, but rather intelligent and with a mind of her own.

But it is her overzealous antagonists, played by DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson (who plays Calvin's ever so servile Uncle Tom-like right arm, Stephen), that provide the movie's most sinister moments. In an unusual role for the actor, DiCaprio nails his portrayal as the malignant and money hungry Calvin who's sternly protective of his property (Broomhilda). He bulldozes through each scene and disappears in the role, making you forget every single character he's played before. It's dirty, it's vile and it's almost painful to watch at times. Then he says something dumb, which keeps everything else in perspective and lends to the tone of the movie.

Same goes for Jackson's Stephen, who delivers his best performance in much too long. A deeply complicated character, he's the only one who doesn't abide by the Tarantino rule of "what you see is what you get." He's duplicitous, shady as all get out and compelling to watch. His inclusion in Django's story is a smart one and not one that is seen often these days in film, even in the most epic of slave dramas around.

Django Unchained is a ruthless and romantic epic that is also filled with unbridled entertainment that challenges audiences, rather than coddling them. Even with its very alpha male arc, Tarantino is delicate in capturing each detail--down to the costumes, the makeup and even the sometimes abhorrent yet authentic vernacular and atrocious events. At its best, the film not only entertains but allows audiences to experience a wide range of emotions as any good film should, while it simultaneously opens wounds and sparks a conversation. You can't ask for much more than that.

Rating: A

Django Unchained is in theaters December 25th.

The Screen Actors Guild Noms Go Mental for "Silver Linings Playbook," Snub "Django Unchained"

Awards season is well under way, and with all the precursors to the Oscars you could probably detect who will actually the home the big prize.So it should come as no surprise who was honored this morning for next year's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.

The list of film nominees is below, which is similar to yesterday's Critics' Choice Awards (as it will likely be for tomorrow's Golden Globe Award nominations) except for surprisingly more appreciation for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and a random nod for The Paperboy star Nicole Kidman. Also, I love Helen Mirren just as much as any breathing human being, but Hitchcock was not a very commendable performance from her (granted, neither was the source material).

The list looks generic to me, but no Django Unchained OR Beasts of the Southern Wild?? Playing it safe, I see...

Update: SAG has deemed Beasts of the Southern Wild ineligible for an award because they can only honor performances/films with talent that are part of the guild, naturally. The cast and crew are largely made up of first-timers who were handpicked from their "real" jobs. Although this fact is unfortunate for this particular award, I have a feeling this movie will make up for its loss later in the season. Read more on this on the New York Times website.

Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Misérables
Silver Linings Playbook

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Denzel Washington, Flight

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live on January 27th, 2013 on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The NAACP Image Awards are Team "Django Unchained"...and "Alex Cross"

Although it's getting a lot of less attention, the NAACP Image Awards announced their list of nominees today, and Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Django Unchained are deservedly the major contenders.

Halle Berry gets a surprise nod here, for an underwhelming performance(s) in Cloud Atlas. But Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry continue to wow voting academies with their riveting performances in Beasts of the Southern Wild, along with the outstanding Flight crew--Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle.

A few head scratcher nominees are Lenny Kravitz (the future Marvin Gaye) for his blink-and-you'll-miss-him performance in The Hunger Games and Taraji P. Henson in Think Like a Man, which clearly a throwaway nomination that could have went to something else. Oh, and Viola Davis is nominated for the critically panned Won't Back Down....

But the major surprise is Tyler Perry getting a nod for the spectacular catastrophe that was Alex Cross, then turning around and nominating him for Good Deeds?? Come on now...And let us not speak about Red Tails, which was grand opening, grand closing at the box office. That and it was terrible.

Read the list of film nominees list below:

Outstanding Motion Picture

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Django Unchained" (The Weinstein Company)
"Flight" (Paramount Pictures)
"Red Tails" (Lucasfilm)
"Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" (Lionsgate)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Denzel Washington - "Flight" (Paramount Pictures)
Jamie Foxx - "Django Unchained" (The Weinstein Company)
Morgan Freeman - "The Magic of Belle Isle" (Magnolia Pictures)
Suraj Sharma - "Life of Pi" (20th Century Fox)
Tyler Perry - "Alex Cross" (Summit Entertainment)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Emayatzy Corinealdi - "Middle of Nowhere" (AAFRM)
Halle Berry - "Cloud Atlas" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Loretta Devine - "In The Hive" (Eone Entertainment)
Quvenzhané Wallis - "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Viola Davis - "Won't Back Down" (20th Century Fox)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

David Oyelowo - "Middle of Nowhere" (AFFRM)
Don Cheadle - "Flight" (Paramount Pictures)
Dwight Henry - "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Lenny Kravitz - "The Hunger Games" (Lionsgate)
Samuel L. Jackson - "Django Unchained" (The Weinstein Company)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Amandla Stenberg - "The Hunger Games" (Lionsgate)
Gloria Reuben - "Lincoln" (The Walt Disney Studios)
Kerry Washington - "Django Unchained" (The Weinstein Company)
Phylicia Rashad - "Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" (Lionsgate)
Taraji P. Henson - "Think Like a Man" (Screen Gems)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Chico & Rita" (GKIDS)
"Red Tails" (Lucasfilm)
"Unconditional" (Harbinger Media Partners)
"Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day" (Codeblack)

Outstanding International Motion Picture

"Chico & Rita" (GKIDS)
"For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada" (ARC Entertainment)
"Special Forces" (eOne Films)
"The Intouchables" (The Weinstein Company)
"The Raid: Redemption" (Sony Pictures Classics)


Outstanding Documentary - (Theatrical or Television)

"Black Wings" (Smithsonian Channel)
"Brooklyn Castle" (Producers Distribution Agency)
"First Position" (IFC Films)
"Marley" (Magnolia Pictures)
"On the Shoulders of Giants - The Story of the Greatest Team You've Never Heard Of" (Showtime)


Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture - (Theatrical or Television)

Elizabeth Hunter - "Abducted: The Carlina White Story" (Lifetime)
John Gatins - "Flight" (Paramount Pictures)
John Ridley, Aaron McGruder - "Red Tails" (Lucasfilm)
Keith Merryman, David A. Newman - "Think Like a Man" (Screen Gems)
Ol Parker - "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The NAACP Image Awards will air live on February 1st, 2013 on NBC.

Lincoln Is Coming for that Oscar, Channing Tatum is Nominated for Something That's Not a Razzie, and Other Critics Choice Movie Award Facts

The critics have spoken, and they've chosen some pretty gnarly (and a few questionable) talent to praise at this morning's Critics Choice Movie Awards. The full nominee list is below (from Awards Daily), but first let's discuss some of the standouts that haven't been mentioned since awards season officially kicked off:

I've been on Team Django Unchained for a very long time, so I am glad to see it get some recognition here (although not for any of its excellent performances, for some reason). And after we shared our disappointment for the documentary Central Park Five losing the bid for the Academy on Sunday's "Cinema In Noir," I'm at least glad to see the voting critics hail the film.

I still have some major issues with The Master as per my earlier review, but I cannot deny the stunning performance by Joaquin Phoenix (I'm not as thrilled with Hoffman's performance, but not enough to gripe about it here).

Lincoln (with its staggering 13 nominations) gets a big meh from me, but Goodness knows that film wreaks of awards contention. However, it's great to see Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables and Beasts of the Southern Wild gain momentum (they've already earned a few precursor awards over the last few days). On the other hand, any nomination related to The Sessions, Rust and Bone and Moonrise Kingdom just seems unwarranted (though I will give Marion Cotillard the credit she deserves an otherwise disappointing screenplay).

But here's a big WTF moment: Channing Tatum gets a nod for 21 Jump Street? Seriously? A razzie award nomination maybe...Luckily the This is 40 nominations soften the agony a bit.

Yes, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had an amazing cast, and that's it. I'm glad the voting critics agreed with me on that one. Although I preferred Alexandre Desplat's scores for Rise of the Guardians and Zero Dark Thirty over Argo, but that's a minor quibble. And, hey, Adele is nominated for her breathtaking title track for Skyfall, so all is forgiven now.

As per usual when it comes to big British-esque cinema, the costume design and art direction are recognized, but Jude Laws' fine performance in Anna Karenina is all but forgettable. What gives?

And I guess the critics have nothing further to say when it comes to Cloud Atlas. The tribe has spoken; the lovely and grandiose film gets a few technical awards. That's it? That's when you know your film was not liked. 

Let's talk about Alan Arkin's supporting actor nod here, because I am puzzled about it. He and John Goodman (not nominated) provided some great comic relief in Argo, but if we're really looking for performances to celebrate in this movie, why not Scoot McNairy? A nuanced and pivotal player in the movie that has gone overlooked this season so far.

It looks like the voting critics didn't really know where to send their praise in terms of the action movie. If Gina Carano in Haywire and Anne Hathway in The Dark Knight Rises are contenders, it must have been a rough year (however I bet Noomi Rapace would say otherwise). Luckily Christian Bale's underrated performance in The Dark Knight Rises earns a nod. But Robert Downey, Jr. is recognized and not Tom Hiddleston? That's just wrong.

Quick note: Cabin in the Woods was not good, so let's not pretending that it was. Same goes for Looper (good, but not great). But Prometheus was better than its reviews.

Lastly, congratulations to Paranorman, Brave and Frankenweenie--three of the best animated films this year.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Hugh Jackman – “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix – “The Master”
Denzel Washington – “Flight”

Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Marion Cotillard – “Rust and Bone”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”

Alan Arkin – “Argo”
Javier Bardem – “Skyfall”
Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
Matthew McConaughey – “Magic Mike”

Amy Adams – “The Master”
Judi Dench – “Skyfall”
Ann Dowd – “Compliance”
Sally Field – “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway – “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt – “The Sessions”

Elle Fanning – “Ginger & Rosa”
Kara Hayward – “Moonrise Kingdom”
Tom Holland – “The Impossible”
Logan Lerman – “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Suraj Sharma – “Life of Pi”
Quvenzhané Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Misérables
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook

Ben Affleck – “Argo”
Kathryn Bigelow – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Tom Hooper – “Les Misérables”
Ang Lee – “Life of Pi”
David O. Russell – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Steven Spielberg – “Lincoln”

Quentin Tarantino – “Django Unchained”
John Gatins – “Flight”
Rian Johnson – “Looper”
Paul Thomas Anderson – “The Master”
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola – “Moonrise Kingdom”
Mark Boal – “Zero Dark Thirty”

Chris Terrio – “Argo”
David Magee – “Life of Pi”
Tony Kushner – “Lincoln”
Stephen Chbosky – “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
David O. Russell – “Silver Linings Playbook”

“Les Misérables” – Danny Cohen
“Life of Pi” – Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln” – Janusz Kaminski
“The Master” – Mihai Malaimare Jr.
“Skyfall” – Roger Deakins

“Anna Karenina” – Sarah Greenwood/Production Designer; Katie Spencer/Set Decorator
“The Hobbit” – Dan Hennah/Production Designer; Ra Vincent & Simon Bright/Set Decorators
“Les Misérables” – Eve Stewart/Production Designer; Anna Lynch-Robinson/Set Decorator
“Life of Pi” – David Gropman/Production Designer; Anna Pinnock/Set Decorator
“Lincoln” – Rick Carter/Production Designer; Jim Erickson/Set Decorator

“Argo” – William Goldenberg
“Les Misérables” – Melanie Ann Oliver and Chris Dickens
“Life of Pi” – Tim Squyres
“Lincoln” – Michael Kahn
“Zero Dark Thirty” – William Goldenberg and Dylan Tichenor

“Anna Karenina” – Jacqueline Durran
“Cloud Atlas” – Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud
“The Hobbit” – Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor
“Les Misérables” – Paco Delgado
“Lincoln” – Joanna Johnston

Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit
Les Misérables

The Avengers
Cloud Atlas
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit
Life of Pi

Madagascar 3
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck-It Ralph

The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises

Christian Bale – “The Dark Knight Rises”
Daniel Craig – “Skyfall”
Robert Downey Jr. – “The Avengers”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “Looper”
Jake Gyllenhaal – “End of Watch”

Emily Blunt – “Looper”
Gina Carano – “Haywire”
Judi Dench – “Skyfall”
Anne Hathaway – “The Dark Knight Rises”
Jennifer Lawrence – “The Hunger Games”

Silver Linings Playbook
This Is 40
21 Jump Street

Jack Black – “Bernie”
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Paul Rudd – “This Is 40”
Channing Tatum – “21 Jump Street”
Mark Wahlberg – “Ted”

Mila Kunis – “Ted”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Shirley MacLaine – “Bernie”
Leslie Mann – “This Is 40”
Rebel Wilson – “Pitch Perfect”

The Cabin in the Woods

The Intouchables
A Royal Affair
Rust and Bone

The Central Park Five
The Imposter
The Queen of Versailles
Searching for Sugar Man
West of Memphis

“For You” – performed by Keith Urban/written by Monty Powell & Keith Urban – Act of Valor
“Learn Me Right” – performed by Birdy with Mumford & Sons/written by Mumford & Sons – Brave
“Skyfall” – performed by Adele/written by Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth – Skyfall
“Still Alive” – performed by Paul Williams/written by Paul Williams – Paul Williams Still Alive
“Suddenly” – performed by Hugh Jackman/written by Claude-Michel Schonberg & Alain Boublil & Herbert Kretzmer – Les Misérables

“Argo” – Alexandre Desplat
“Life of Pi” – Mychael Danna
“Lincoln” – John Williams
“The Master” – Jonny Greenwood
“Moonrise Kingdom” – Alexandre Desplat

The Critics Choice Movie Awards will air live on January 11th, 2013, at 8pm EST/PST on the CW Network. 

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