Box Office Predictions: Get Ready For Some Football!

Super Bowl weekend is a traditionally slow weekend. Project Alamanac is targeting teens, who will come out on Friday night, while The Loft goes after couples. I’m not sure the target demo for Black or White watches the Super Bowl (really old women), A Most Violent Year expands, and Game Of Thrones hits IMAX. None of this really matters, because American Sniper will still dominate. Neither A Most Violent Year or Game Of Thrones will crack the top 10 though, and most films will experience harsher drops this weekend because the attendance on Sunday is very low.

Next weekend will bring Jupiter Ascending and Spongebob 2. Oh, and Seventh Son. But… no one actually cares about Seventh Son. Not even the studio releasing it.

1) American Sniper- 35M Weekend, 252M Total
2) Project Almanac- 12M Weekend, 12M Total
3) Black Or White- 7M Weekend, 7M Total
4) The Boy Next Door- 6.5M Weekend, 25M Total
5) Paddington- 6M Weekend, 48M Total
6) The Imitation Game- 5.5M Weekend, 68M Total
7) The Wedding Ringer- 5M Weekend, 47M Total
8) Taken 3- 4.5M Weekend, 82M Total
9) The Loft- 4M Weekend, 4M Total
10) Selma- 3.5M Weekend, 44M Total

Weekend Box Office: ‘Sniper’ Continues A Historic Run

1) American Sniper- 64.3M Weekend, 200.1M Total
200 million in 10 days of wide release. That’s pretty spectacular. It’s on a pretty solid trajectory for 300M. It only slid 27% from week 1 to week 2. There’s no way it can keep that up on Super Bowl weekend, but even a 50% drop would still be an impressive third weekend.

2) The Boy Next Door- 15.0M Weekend, 15M Total
Jennifer Lopez marketed The Boy Next Door well with Latinos, who turned up and gave her a solid opening weekend on the same week that Johnny Depp bombed.

3) Paddington- 12.9M Weekend, 40M Total
4) The Wedding Ringer- 11.6M Weekend, 39.6M Total
5) Taken 3- 7.6M Weekend, 76M Total
6) The Imitation Game- 7.1M Weekend, 60.6M Total
7) Strange Magic- 5.5M Weekend, 5.5M Total
8) Selma- 5.5M Weekend, 39.2M Total
9) Mortdecai- 4.1M Weekend, 4.1M Total
10) Into The Woods- 3.8M Weekend, 121.4M Total
11) The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies- 2.8M Weekend, 249.5M Total
12) Unbroken- 2.0M Weekend, 112.4M Total
13) Birdman- 1.9M Weekend, 30.9M Total
14) Night At The Museum 3- 1.8M Weekend, 108.6M Total
15) Blackhat- 1.6M Weekend, 7M Total

Dear White People

Starring: Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Kyle Gallner, Brandon P Bell, Teyonah Parris, Brittany Curran, Justin Dobies, Marque Richardson, Dennis Haysbert
Directed By: Justin Simien

Dear White People definitely would have worked as a shorter film. It is definitely an intelligent film, and it has some really strong merits. It goes from “fantastic” to “alright” when stretched out for at least 15 minutes longer than it should have been. It drags in the midsection, brought back to life by a third act that seems so incredibly unreal that it isn’t until the credits roll that you realize that it actually had some basis in fact.

Dear White People revolves around a core ensemble, and a sub-core ensemble. In the core ensemble, you have Sam (Thompson), an angry mixed-race chick who runs a radio talk show called Dear White People, and aspires to be a groundbreaking filmmaker, but might be too busy getting people riled up on campus. Lionel (Williams) hates his current room assignment, doesn’t feel very black, and feels somewhat left out as a gay student. He does aspire to be a writer, but worries he might only be getting offers because his white editor needs a black viewpoint. Troy (Bell) aspires to greatness. His father (Haysbert) is the Dean of Students, after all. And he’s dating a white girl (Curran). And finally, Coco (Parris) is trying really hard to be relevant so she can get cast on a reality TV show.

In the sub-core cast, Kurt (Gallner) likes attention, likes to stir up trouble, and thinks Sam is full of crap. His dad also runs the University. Gabe (Dobies) sees through Sam’s bullshit, and wants to date her anyway. Reggie (Richardson) embraces Sam’s bullshit, and might want to date her anyway. And there’s also the aforementioned characters played by Curran and Haysbert. This ensemble really makes up the core group of Dear White People.

Some interesting points are raised, but when stretched out for too long, you find yourself waiting for the next good punchline. As good as Tessa Thompson is, she shouldn’t be expected to single-handedly keep this film alive. The film also suffers, at times, from a distracting score. I found myself (more than a few times) hating the music playing in the background in various sequences. Sometimes it was extremely odd and off putting, or it just seemed really cheap.

Like it’s main character Sam, Dear White People does have some interesting things to say, but it isn’t quite sure how to say them. There’s a promising filmmaker in Justin Simien, as this was a decent debut film for him. I look forward to seeing more of him in the future, and also Tessa Thompson.

FINAL GRADE: B

Box Office Predictions: Nothing Can Touch ‘Sniper’

1) American Sniper- 45M Weekend, 180M Total
American Sniper looks to drop about 50% to 45M. It has been holding up extremely well midweek, and could do a rather ridiculous 180M in just 10 days if my 45M prediction holds up. That’s astounding. I’m astounded.

2) The Boy Next Door- 16M Weekend, 16M Total
Jennifer Lopez has been marketing this across the board to latinos, and that could pay off. While men are watching Sniper, it’s likely women will want to see this sudsy Lopez thriller. I’m guessing she edges out the other newcomers.

3) Mortdecai- 14M Weekend, 14M Total
This Peter Sellars throwback isn’t going to be a massive Johnny Depp hit. All three new releases are getting awful reviews, but Mortdecai is the one whose audience will care the most.

4) Paddington- 12M Weekend, 40M Total
Paddington is likely to edge out Strange Magic this weekend. Better reviews, better word of mouth.

5) The Wedding Ringer- 11M Weekend, 39M Total
6) Strange Magic-9M Weekend, 9M Total
A quietly promoted animated film without a star voice cast. I don’t see much happening here.

7) Taken 3- 7M Weekend, 75M Total
8) Selma- 6.5M Weekend, 40M Total
9) The Imitation Game- 5.5M Weekend, 59M Total
10) Into The Woods- 5M Weekend, 122.5M Total

The Sum Of All Fears

Starring: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Bridget Moynihan, Liev Schreiber, James Cromwell, Ciaran Hinds, Colm Feore, Philip Baker Hall, Bruce McGill, Ron Rifkin
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson

Man, I can’t believe this film is 13 years old. It was released less than a year after 9/11, and tapped into America’s fear of terrorist attacks. This was not my first time viewing The Sum Of All Fears, but I can say that the film didn’t hold up for me as well as I had remembered.

First of all, Ben Affleck really has come a long way in terms of his acting abilities. Not that he’s awful here, but I could tell we had a noticeable step back in quality from his Argo and Gone Girl days. He has two emotions, smug and loud. He’s either smug, or he’s loud. There isn’t really an in between. Morgan Freeman delivers the exact same performance that Morgan Freeman delivers when he wants to “phone it in”, from films like Chain Reaction to Hard Rain and The Sum Of All Fears, he’s got a standard level of acting that he gives for films that aren’t worth his full effort. Sad thing is, his 90% is still better than most actors 110%.

Bridget Moynihan is the throwaway rising star actress given a little something to do. I remember when she was “the next big thing” and how that fizzled out. She did The Sum Of All Fears, The Recruit, and I Robot, and then basically vanished. Her next four films were flops, then she wound up on TV, and now she’s a regular on Blue Bloods. She’s OK here, but nothing special.

Overall, I was a little bored the second time around. The plot felt silly, stumbling upon a nuke in the desert, and buying it for like 400 dollars. Really? And no wonder the Russians hate us, they’re always the bad guys in our movies. Even when we’re at peace with them, someone is still making a movie about how the Russians are about to fuck us over. 12 years later, and Jack Ryan would face off against another Russian in Shadow Recruit. What’s Jack Ryan’s beef with Russia?

Anyway, in trying to balance how I felt on a repeat viewing versus how I felt the first time, and I’ve come up with my grade. It’s not worth a repeat viewing, but if you’ve never seen it before, it’s also not the worst thing you could be watching. For whatever reason, the director of this film would stop directing for twelve years, until he came back with the dreadful The Angriest Man In Brooklyn. Did I mention this was the guy who made Field Of Dreams? What an awful career trajectory.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Is The Academy Racist, Or Was This Just A Tough Year?

I gotta say, with all the hoopla surrounding the Oscars nominating all white actors and actresses this year, and Ava Duvernay not being nominated, it looks as though the Academy might be racist. I mean, they have to be, right? It couldn’t just have been a really competitive year, or have anything to do with Selma waiting a while to send out its screeners. That couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it, right?

The Best Actor category was EXTREMELY competitive this year. Not only did David Oyelowo get overlooked for Selma (and Chadwick Boseman for Get On Up), but so were Miles Teller (Whiplash), Timothy Spall (Mr Turner), Bill Murray (St Vincent), Jack O’Connell (Starred Up or Unbroken), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins), Billy Crudup (Rudderless), Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Mark Wahlberg (The Gambler), Chrisoph Waltz (Big Eyes), Brad Pitt (Fury), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Brendan Gleeson (Calvary), John Lithgow and Alfred Molina (Love Is Strange), Oscar Issac (A Most Violent Year), and Tom Hardy (Locke). So while I think Oyelowo did a terrific job, he had some amazingly stiff competition. And Oscar voting is all about personal taste. I usually wait till the end of January to release my “Best Of” lists, but I can tell you that if I had to pick five performances, Oyelowo wasn’t there. He’d make my Top 10, but not my Top 5. I was more impressed by Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins), who probably missed out on a nomination because his film was too small (and also maybe a comedy, and maybe Oscar voters hate SNL alumni)., I was more impressed by Bill Murray (St Vincent), who was brilliant and Golden Globe nominated, but forgotten by the Oscars this year. And, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, and Michael Keaton are all keepers. Also, if given one more vote… I still wouldn’t have used it on Oyelowo. That would have been Miles Teller for Whiplash.

Oyelowo was great, but this year was really tough for Best Actor candidates.

As far as the other acting categories, I didn’t feel that enough of the supporting cast really stood out enough to get Oscar nominations. Maybe Tom Wilkinson, but would nominating a white actor from a black film really make the Academy less “racist”? That didn’t seem to help when Danny Aiello was nominated for Do The Right Thing.

My point is, this is not the year to be having this conversation. Selma was a strong film, and it probably deserved more nominations. However, it opened late in the season, and waited to send out its screeners. It might have limited its own audience, and it waited till everyone else already had their favorites lined up. Remember, the Academy didn’t nominate Gone Girl for Best Picture (after many thought it was a shoo-in), or The LEGO Movie for Best Animated Feature (when many thought it would win). I doubt either of those shockers had anything to do with race.

The fact is, there is a whole different level of bullshit politics involving the Oscars, and how to campaign for nominations. If you don’t do it just right, or assume your film is safe, you end up getting nominated in only technical categories. Christopher Nolan limited his screeners to only Blu Rays, and who knows how that affected his votes in the end. He wanted people to experience his film on the big screen. Other films waited till they opened in theatres before sending out the screeners, and for those films, that put their screeners being shipped out late in the game. Then it comes down to campaigning. Bradley Cooper has gotten really good at playing to the Academy voters in his interviews, landing three nominations in three years. David Oyelowo and Chadwick Boseman could learn from him.

I don’t think the year after 12 Years A Slave, that you can determine that the Academy is now racist. I think it was just a tough year for film. Still don’t believe me? Let’s explore, shall we?

Just a few days ago, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics (GALECA) named their nominees for their 2014 awards. No Pic nomination for Selma, no Actor nomination for either Oyelowo or Boseman. Only Ava Duvernay managed a nomination for directing Selma. They probably just don’t like black men.

However, the Director’s Guild named their five picks, picking five white guys. So, they must be racist and sexist.

The BAFTA’s failed to recognize Selma with a Best Picture nomination, or Duvernay, or Oyelowo, or Boseman, or Get On Up, or any person of color in either Picture, Director, or the four main acting categories. That’s right, the British selected 20 white actors, and no one gave a shit. Bill Maher didn’t do an episode on it.

The Central Ohio Film Critics named Selma as one of the 10 best of the year, AND Ava Duvernay, AND David Oyelowo.

The Florida Film Critics Circle, however, went in a different direction and didn’t nominate Selma or any black people in the six major categories.

The Houston Film Critics picked 10 films, and managed to include Selma, but Duvernay was left out, and 21 white actors and actresses were picked again.

The London Film Critics (those damn racist Brits) snubbed all black films and black actors.

The Toronto Film Critics (not the Canadians too!) also snubbed all black films and black actors.

The Indiana Film Critics joined the London and Toronto critics in completely ignoring the needs of the people.

However, there is hope. The Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated Selma as one of 10 Best Picture nominees, and David Oyelowo was the only of 24 Actor/Actress nominees that wasn’t caucasian. But, Ava Duvernay was also nominated, and Quevenzhane Wallis was nominated in a “Best Young Actor/Actress” category.

And of course, the Globes recognized Selma, DuVernay, and Oyelowo with nominations, as well as Wallis.

Perhaps the greater problem isn’t the Academy as a voting body, but rather that all the eggs are seemingly in one basket. If you were going to vote for a black actor, or a black film this year, you had to vote for Selma. Aside from two longshot nominations for Chadwick Boseman or Gugu Mbatha-Raw (for Belle or Beyond The Lights), there weren’t a lot of potential contenders. Top Five’s best shot was in screenplay, and Dear White People isn’t really the type of film Oscar nominates (Snowpiercer was left out in the cold too).

Are the Academy voters racist for ignoring (basically) one film? No. Instead of being angry at Oscar voters for ignoring Oyelowo and Duvernay, why not be angry at Hollywood’s producers for only getting Oyelowo and Duvernay close to the finish line. Why were there not more good roles for black actors and actresses this year? You can’t put all your hope into Selma, and then release it at the tail end of Oscar season, and use that as the only barometer for racism. You’re not offering voters a real choice. It’s like you’re saying “vote for David Oyelowo, or you’re a racist.” Maybe he just wasn’t in your top five. If I had to guess, I would say he narrowly missed out on that nomination, probably placing 6th or 7th. I don’t think he was so far down that a nomination was impossible, but he just needed a few more votes.

You can’t really address the problem of racism at the Oscars without addressing the larger problem of not enough strong roles for black actors and actresses in Hollywood. The problem isn’t really the Oscars, the problem is Hollywood. The Academy can only vote on what you give them. Hollywood only gave them Selma.

Automata

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith, Robert Forster
Directed By: Gabe Ibanez

Why didn’t this get a theatrical release? Is it because Melanie Griffith looks like she’s been stung by a thousand bees? Or is it because the Expendables 3 didn’t revive Antonio Banderas’s career? Is it because this is kind of a Blade Runner knock off? That can’t be it. Hollywood carbon copies everything all the time with no problem. I mean, just look at The Wedding Ringer (currently in theatres). You don’t think it’s a bit like Wedding Crashers? Or Hitch? I didn’t feel like it was a ripoff, but maybe “lightly inspired” by Blade Runner. It’s frustrating to see a film like this, that really is (visually) a great film, squandered and left to die.

Jacq (Banderas) is an insurance agent who investigates claims involving robots. In this world, people aren’t really supposed to modify their robots. But, Jacq finds himself investigating the case of a modified robot, which leads him to an interesting world of robots involved in the sex trade, and then some robots who might be “free thinkers” and wish to survive on their own. For a film with a reported budget of only 7 million, Gabe Ibanez sure does a lot with very little. In fact, major studios should take note of his talent and ability to produce a good looking sci-fi film on the cheap.

I feel like Automata might get its own little cult following over time, kinda like Snowpiercer will. People will slowly discover it, debate its merits, and recommend it to a friend. The fact that it skipped theatres makes it an oddity, as it seems almost anything can hit at least a few screens nowadays. Hell, Disney releases their Tinkerbell films theatrically overseas, yet IMDB and Box Office Mojo have no information on Automata.

It’s not a perfect film, but I enjoyed it well enough to softly recommend it. It’s interesting, if nothing else, and cool to watch so much being done with so little.

FINAL GRADE: B

Frank

Starring: Domnhall Gleeson, Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy
Directed By: Lenny Abrahamson

It’s a unique movie, that’s for sure. It’s the kind of quirky film you expect to see written by Charlie Kaufman, but this wasn’t. It’s a dark comedy, it’s a quirky comedy, but is it a good comedy?

Jon (Gleeson) is a rather terrible songwriter who doesn’t really know he’s terrible, and he’s trying to embark on a career in music. By a twist of fate, he gets offered the chance to be the keyboardist for a band whose lead singer is Frank (Fassbender), a man who wears a giant mask on his face. He’s quirky, his music is quirky, and Maggie Gyllenhall is his angry maybe-lover. Jon believes he knows what’s best for the band, and it causes friction within as they build to a gig at South By Southwest.

Again, the question was “is this a good comedy?” I didn’t think so. As much as I loved the quirk factor, and Fassbender’s performance, a lot of the film lost me. It never actually made me laugh, and never really worked as a comedy. It wasn’t really serious enough to be a drama either. It’s just a below average comedy that is boosted by a cool concept and a strong performance from Michael Fassbender. The thing is, it never really feels like Fassbender, it feels like Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell. Someone who is known for having unbridled energy and childlike enthusiasm. Not usually words I would use to describe Fassbender.

Also, I will give the actors props for actually playing their instruments and the music for the film live. A lot of actors don’t actually play when they have to in films. It’s not a bad film, it’s just a weird comedy that isn’t particularly funny, but is worth watching for Fassbender, and really for the concept of the film.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Left Behind (2014)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Cassi Thomson, Chad Michael Murray, Nicki Whelan, Jordin Sparks, Lea Thompson
Directed By: Vic Armstrong

I can evaluate Left Behind as a film, and not some prophetic piece of work. I don’t think this film is complete crap because of its morals or Christian values, rather it is just a poorly made film. When Chad Michael Murray is the best actor in the whole film, you’ve got a problem.

The story revolves around Chloe (Thomson), who has just returned home to the smallest airport in New York City that has almost no one in it. She meets Chad Michael Murray, who is playing some sort of journalistic reporter who immediately gets bombarded by a religious fanatic. She also meets up with her dad (Cage), who is an airline pilot. It’s his birthday, and she flew in to surprise him, but he’s flying off to London to bang a stewardess (Whelan)… but he loves his Christian wife (Thompson). Skipping ahead… the rapture happens… and people are sucked up to heaven. Mostly, children. This film could also be called “where the fuck did all the children go?” The disappearance of Chloe’s little brother (he was raptured) sends her on one of the dumbest search and rescue missions ever. She was LITERALLY HOLDING HIM when he’s raptured, and she runs around looking for him, calling his phone, calling home, smashing a window at a hospital to see if he’s inside, etc. She becomes one of the dumbest female characters in a matter of seconds. She’s also a terrible actress… which I was going to bring up later, but we’ll just go ahead and get that out of the way.

So the rapture affects the plane that Cage is flying, and he loses his copilot. Also, all the kids on the plane disappear, which sends Jordin Sparks into “I’m also an idiot” mode, as she believes that everyone on the plane is in some conspiracy and they took her child from her. No, Jordin. That would be Flightplan, and it’s a much better film than this one. This film features Nic Cage trying to look like he knows how to fly a plane, and the screenwriters coming up with a creative way of how he could possibly need fuel.

It’s really a terrible film, and that’s even if you don’t break down the absurdity of what’s happening. Everyone left behind is such a non-believer, that it takes a fucking lifetime for someone, ANYONE to go “Hey, maybe that rapture thing we’ve heard about… maybe that just happened.” Jordin Sparks literally believed that she was in the movie Flightplan before the Rapture. There’s an asian guy who thinks it was aliens. Chloe is too stupid to figure it out, even though SHE WAS HOLDING HER BROTHER WHEN HE WAS RAPTURED. Unless your brother is Nightcrawler, you need to stop looking for him.

The acting across the board is awful. Nicolas Cage looks like he needs to take a really large crap throughout the entire movie. Super constipated. The visual effects are awful. The script is terrible. The characters are so bad that I think a subplot about the rapture is that God leaves all the stupid people behind. Basically, the rapture is going to be the kids, smart people, and some random selection of Christians. As you learn in the film, you have to REALLY REALLY believe, as a pastor who is left behind says that he only kinda sorta believed, but he just didn’t give it 100%.

Again, not debating the religion behind it all (except maybe a little). It’s just a terrible film, whether you’re a believer or a non believer. If Christians want people to take their films seriously, they need better actors, writers, and director (Heaven Is For Real). This was just awful. I can’t wait to get the Riff Trax to it.

FINAL GRADE: F

Big

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, John Heard, Jared Rushton, Robert Loggia, Jon Lovitz, Mercedes Ruehl
Directed By: Penny Marshall

This may come as a shock to you, but I’m going to give this film an A. Not only is it a fucking terrific film, but it is (after all) in my Top 250 of all time (currently), and I’m honestly feeling a need to move it up a few notches after this repeat viewing.

Big was that film that you watched as a kid that your mom went and said “See? Being an adult isn’t so fun after all.” Secretly, you wanted to live the life of Josh Baskin, vowing that if you got the chance, you wouldn’t screw it up by getting all sentimental at the last minute. He had a sweet job, a cool place to live, and a hot girlfriend. What more could a kid ask for? Oh, wait, he lost 20 years of his life… no big deal, right?

Many movies try the “turn back the clock” formula, but only a few of them choose to leap forward in time… without actually leaping forward in time. Instead, just making one protagonist suddenly age overnight, so he gets to experience his future, while everyone else is the same age around him. Pretty cool concept, no? The Oscars sure thought so, as they nominated Tom Hanks for his role. It’s rare to see them nominate a comedy, but Big isn’t really a comedy. It’s a tragedy in many ways, as Josh finds himself lost and alone, alienated from his family. Josh immediately realizes his error, but he can’t take it back. He only finds happiness after he’s accepted that this is now his life, and he has to make the best of it.

Unfortunately, as he grows up, he starts leaving his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) behind. Billy, fortunately for Josh’s parents, uses this as fuel to find the machine responsible for all this, and get his best friend back before Josh decides he wants to remain an adult forever.

Elizabeth Perkins is great as someone who starts out a cold hearted bitch, but ends up being a big kid again just like Josh. Robert Loggia is fun as a boss who is in touch with the kid inside, and John Heard is always a good bad guy. The unsung hero here is Jared Rushton, who could have turned in an annoying kid performance, but instead brings real life and emotion to Billy. Big is a classic. It’s a film I want to show to my kids, immediately, probably before they are even old enough to understand Josh’s plight. If you haven’t seen it, please do.

FINAL GRADE: A

Wild

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Gaby Hoffman, Kevin Rankin, Gaby Hoffman, Brian Van Holt
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallee

Of course, I was instantly reminded of Into The Wild and 127 Hours, both films about men wandering off into the wilderness. Wild features a woman, and in case you didn’t know this, she’s still alive. She wrote the book on which the movie is based, so she does survive the walk.

What I liked about Wild, is how much Reese Witherspoon really gives of herself to the role and the character. It really has been a great year for women, with several women getting some terrific roles in film. Hers is one of the top, and she earned a much deserved Oscar nomination for it. Also, Laura Dern is pretty good in her role as well. The film is well paced, and even though she lives, you’d be surprised what you can live through. A particularly scary scene involves two hunters who come by and casually drop creepy rapey dialogue in the conversation. She’s scared, and you will be too.

I wish there had been more of the darkest timeline, meaning I wish we could see more of the days when heroin was the only option. I feel like we only get a glimpse, and lots of talk about recovery. I think if we had seen more, we could really get in her head more and understand why she’s making this journey. Because of the lack of connection, we in turn lack a real connection to her struggle and her story.

It’s not a perfect film, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a tour de force for Reese Witherspoon, who has truly never been better. Often times around Oscar season, we have films where the performance makes the film, and Witherspoon is the reason to see the film.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Boyhood

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelai Linklater, Marco Perella, Brad Hawkins
Directed By: Richard Linklater

I absolutely loved what Linklater did with Boyhood. Actually filming a film over 12 years, allowing the children to grow into their roles instead of casting older people who simply look like the younger versions of themselves. It’s a neat trick, and one that Boyhood will be remembered for. However, I have to be honest… this is not going to be a review about how Boyhood is the best picture of the year. Is it innovative? Definitely. Is it pretty freaking amazing? Certainly. The best? No. And here’s why…

A lot of the supporting cast seem to have been pulled off the street and given some lines to read. Outside of the core four characters, the rest of the cast is very hit and miss. If you keep one of them too long, you really see how bad they are. Marco Perella? He’s awful. He needed some more coaching. Sure, maybe Linklater wants to go for realism, but Arquette is clearly acting, while Perella stumbles through his lines and his part.

Really, that’s my big hangup is Linklater should have spent a little bit more time surrounding his core four with better actors. They bring down the scenes they’re in. Otherwise, yeah, Boyhood is a great movie, and a historic effort in film. It’s a rare effort where I actually wouldn’t complain about the runtime, because every moment is necessary to see the slow aging of Coltrane. But I can’t overlook some really awful acting. I still think everyone should watch this, but beware Marco Perella…

I would spend more time writing in depth about the film, but it’s already been out for a few months. I was late to the party.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Weekend Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Goes Crazy At The Box Office

In what is completely unprecedented, American Sniper smashed and decimated the competition this week. 90.2 million for a film in January is just batshit crazy. Not only is it almost 50M higher than the previous January record holder Ride Along at 41.5M, but it would also be smashing the record if it opened in February, September, October, or December. Surprisingly, it’s only the second biggest opening of Bradley Cooper’s career. It’s by far the biggest opening of Clint Eastwood’s career. IT kind of takes the steam out of The Wedding Ringer and Paddington, both of which had good openings. Blackhat though… not so much.

1) American Sniper- 90.2M Weekend, 93.6M Total
2) The Wedding Ringer- 21.0M Weekend, 21.0M Total
3) Paddington- 19.2M Weekend, 19.2M Total
4) Taken 3- 14.0M Weekend, 62.8M Total
5) Selma- 8.3M Weekend, 25.9M Total
6) The Imitation Game- 7.1M Weekend, 50.7M Total
7) Into The Woods- 6.5M Weekend, 114.2M Total
8) The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies- 4.8M Weekend, 244.5M Total
9) Unbroken- 4.2M Weekend, 108.6M TOtal
10) Blackhat- 4M Weekend, 4M Total
11) Night At The Museum 3- 3.8M Weekend, 104.7M Total

A Most Violent Year

Starring: Oscar Issac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, Elyes Gabel, Catalina Sandino Moreno
Directed By: JC Chandor

A Most Violent Year was never going to sweep the Oscars. It lacks the gravitas of some of the other big films this year. It’s not really an epic, or a historical journey, or anything we normally nominate in Best Picture. It does, however, feel like a highlight reel for what is still to come from JC Chandor. He’s done a good job of getting everyone excited about his future as a filmmaker with his first two films, Margin Call and All Is Lost. He’s definitely building to something, and is taking his time doing it.

Oscar Issac, who missed out on an Oscar nomination last year with Inside Llewyn Davis, again falls short with a subdued performance. It’s not a bad performance, but it’s not the kind of performance people get excited about. He owes a lot to Al Pacino in The Godfather and Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, but A Most Violent Year is a mafia movie without the mafia. That’s what’s really so hard to wrap around, is that you keep expecting to see a mob element, but it’s a little different than that. Jessica Chastain does a good job as his wife, but lets be honest, when does Jessica Chastain NOT do a good job? I liked her more in The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby this year. It was a showier role.

I don’t have any real major problems with A Most Violent Year, except that just lacked an element that takes a film to the next level. It’s how I felt about All Is Lost and Margin Call. Both are good films, but they’re not great films. They’re films that people will really struggle to remember in ten years, and in twenty years, and so on. But if you’re interested in seeing a fairly historically accurate film about warring trucking companies, then this film is for you!

FINAL GRADE: B+

Holy Shit. American Sniper Just Made A Ton Of Money

American Sniper is rumored to have just made 29.1M on Friday. If that number holds true, it’s a gigantic fucking number. Clint Eastwood’s biggest opening ever as a director is 29.5M for Gran Torino, and American Sniper almost did that in one day. 29.1M for an opening day puts American Sniper above major films like Star Wars: Episode 1, The Da Vinci Code, Transformers, and Avatar on the all time opening day list. A perhaps less impressive, but more specific number would say it is the 61st biggest opening day of all time. It is likely to shatter the weekend record for January, which is currently 41.5M. Hell, if it closed right now and only made 29.1M, it would be enough to secure the 11th biggest opening in January… ever. In ONE day. That’s how slow January typically is.

It is just decimating the competition. The Wedding Ringer is opening to a perfectly fine 6.9M, and a likely 20M weekend. Paddington opened with 4.8M on Friday, and could hit 19M for the weekend. Blackhat was a bomb, with only 1.4M on Friday, and a possible weekend of 4M. It might not even crack the Top 10. Paddington managed an A cinemascore, Wedding Ringer got an A-, but Blackhat got a C- cinemascore suggesting zero word of mouth.

Too Cool For Comic-Con

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