Friday Box Office: Hobbit Leads, Annie & Museum In Close Battle

1) The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies- 16.1M Friday, 52M Weekend
2) Annie- 6M Friday- 20M Weekend
3) Night At The Museum 3- 5.9M Friday, 20M Weekend
4) Exodus- 2.3M Friday, 8M Weekend
5) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1- 2.2M Friday, 8M Weekend
6) Wild- 1.1M Friday, 4M Weekend
7) The Penguins of Madagascar- 0.9M Friday, 4M Weekend
8) Big Hero 6- 0.9M Friday, 4M Weekend
9) Top Five- 0.9M Friday, 3M Weekend
10) Interstellar- 0.7M Friday, 2.5M Weekend
??) The Theory Of Everything- 0.4M Friday, 1.5M Weekend
??) Foxcatcher- 0.2M Friday, 0.9M Weekend
??) Birdman- 0.2M Friday, 0.8M Weekend
??) The Imitation Game- 0.1M Friday, 0.7M Weekend
??) Inherent Vice- 33K Friday, 100K Weekend
??) Mr Turner- 27K Friday, 90K Weekend

The 25 Films I’m Looking Forward To The Most In 2015

25) Vacation
Ed Helms reboots the classic Chevy Chase franchise. It will either suck, or because it’s Ed Helms, it will be great. Regardless, I really want to see what Ed Helms does with this franchise, and I wish him the best.

24) Kingsman: The Secret Service
A strong trailer helped get this film onto my Top 25 list. I’m a bit concerned that it’s opening in February, because rarely do great films open in February, but I remain optimistic.

23) Ted 2
Hopefully Seth Macfarlane can rebound from A Million Ways To Die In The West. I liked the first Ted, and I think it’s the kind of film that could easily have sequels.

22) Spy
Melissa McCarthy reteams with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig. I’m down.

21) Sisters
I’m equally excited to see the reteaming of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I loved Baby Mama, and these two are comedy gold together.

20) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2
How will it end? I’m not a huge fan of splitting books into two movies, so hopefully this doesn’t let me down.

19) Tomorrowland
A cool trailer, a cool premise, and a good cast. Hopefully this doesn’t disappoint.

18) Get Hard
A funny trailer pairs Will Ferrell with Kevin Hart. I’m also a huge Will Ferrell fan.

17) Fantastic Four
Another film I remain optimistic about. Hopefully this reboot doesn’t take itself TOO seriously. I mean, I still need to hear IT’S CLOBBERIN TIME!

16) Pan
Had I not seen the trailer, this would not have made my Top 25. I wasn’t that excited for it before the trailer, but damn. I’m on board now.

15) Mission Impossible 5
Ghost Protocol was my favorite Mission Impossible film. It’s a series that actually gets better with each film, so hopefully this keeps up the trend.

14) Entourage
I’m not sure how this will translate into a feature film, but Entourage was one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I have to show up to see how it turns out.

13) The Good Dinosaur
Pixar. No trailer, but still Pixar.

12) Spectre
Skyfall was my favorite Bond film, so I have high hopes for Spectre. Hopefully it can at least match the quality of Skyfall.

11) Pitch Perfect 2
I’m not sure we needed a Pitch Perfect 2, but I’m glad they made one. It looks fun.

10) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
I liked the first Maze Runner, and it left a lot of questions that I need answered.

9) Ant Man
The changing of the director makes me a little skeptical, but Marvel’s track record is pretty solid so far. I expect them to turn out another good film here. Even if it is Ant Man…

8) The Last Five Years
My favorite musical is being turned into a movie. Jeremy Jordan is the perfect choice to play Jamie.

7) Chappie
A really cool trailer, and it’s directed by Neill Blomkamp. I’m looking forward to this.

6) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I’m a fan of Star Wars, but I’m not a superfan. This didn’t quite get to #1 for me.

5) Inside Out
I’m actually a big Pixar fan though, plus this looks incredible.

4) Jurassic World
Even though this looks silly (trained raptors?), I’m still a big Jurassic Park fan. I even liked Jurassic Park 3.

3) Insurgent
I really like the Divergent books, possibly more than the Hunger Games books. Insurgent is gonna be big.

2) Furious 7
AKA, the extended goodbye to Paul Walker.

1) Avengers: Age Of Ultron
You probably saw this coming. Yes, it’s my most anticipated film of 2015. It’s probably a lot of peoples #1 film. I’m such a sellout.

And… five that I’m not looking forward to.

1) Seventh Son- It’s been pushed back a ton. That’s never a good sign.
2) Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension- Can we just let this franchise die?
3) Insidious Chapter 3- I’m hoping this is the Final Chapter.
4) The Transporter Legacy- Without Jason Statham? No thank you.
5) Alvin and the Chipmunks 4- We definitely didn’t need another one of these.

Maleficent

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Brenton Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham
Directed By Robert Stromberg

So where did this Robert Stromberg come from? Maleficent is his first feature, and he spent time doing visual effects on Game Of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Life Of Pi, and Boardwalk Empire. To be fair, I think Maleficent was almost churned out of a machine in some attempt to launch a franchise, or at least sell some merchandise. The result is a film that feels clean and polished, yet almost soulless.

Not to mention the fact that the special effects are questionable at best. The three fairies (Staunton, Temple, Manville) are really odd looking with their real faces run through some CGI machine and put on tiny bodies. Also, very silly tree people. Other than that, the effects are pretty solid. There’s just some that don’t really work for me.

The cast does an excellent job with their clean script. I love that they try and breathe life into roles that have none. It actually elevates the film a bit. Especially Sharlto Copley, who is insanely good at being crazy. Brenton Thwaites wasn’t really given anything to do as Prince Phillip.

The “retelling” of Maleficent is plotted well. I wish I could explain it more, this “soulless” feel, but I can’t. It’s just a feel that I have. Like… the film was so carefully plotted out, I could feel the film moving in front of me. The narrator wasn’t helping matters either. Maybe it’s because we all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, or that Disney’s attempts to have us sympathize with Maleficent felt so forced. Whatever it was, it hampered my ability to to fully enjoy the movie.

Kudos to Jolie and Copley, but Maleficent stalled for me, just short of being a really good movie. It’s just a good movie, if not somewhat stale.

FINAL GRADE: B

Sabotage

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mirelle Enos, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard, Olivia Williams, Josh Holloway, Max Martini, Martin Donovan, Troy Garity, Harold Perrineau
Directed By: David Ayer

Arnold has had a really hard time finding decent films for his return to Hollywood. The Last Stand was almost unwatchable. Escape Plan flopped. So where does that leave Sabotage? Well, it’s a huge step up from The Last Stand, but it’s nowhere near what Schwarzenegger needs.

Part of Sabotage being good is the supporting cast of rising stars, including Joe Manganiello (who looks perfectly cast), Mirelle Enos (who is scary good at being a meth addict), Josh Holloway (still a fan favorite from Lost), and Sam Worthington (who never quite hit the A-list after Avatar). They really help elevate the film in their roles. In many ways, Sabotage would have worked better as a TV series, with the plot pulled out over the course of a full season. The problem here is that it’s rushed, and the story gets muddled. By the end of the film, none of it makes sense, and you only kind of understand what happened. A small plot point is made much larger, and you didn’t really see it coming. Not in a good way, either. More in a “what the hell just happened” way.

But, like I said, Mirelle Enos is crazy good. I’ve seen her play such quiet roles in the past, and maybe on edge, but never like this. The film has a good core structure, which David Ayer tried to keep in check, but the film wasn’t written well enough, and moves too quickly to really establish the story. In the end, while it is still a step up for Schwarzenegger, it is a let down for his fans who keep hoping he’ll reclaim his action star glory.

FINAL GRADE: C

Weekend Box Office Predictions: ‘Hobbit’ or ‘Museum’ On Top?

1) The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies- 65M Weekend, 105M Total
Well, considering The Hobbit made 24M on Wednesday alone, I’d say we’re looking at a big weekend for the final Middle Earth movie. The last two made 84.6 and 73.6M, but both started on Friday. Those numbers will be a bit more spread out, and it might be the lowest opening weekend for the film, even though the five day period will look great. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that it crosses 100M on Sunday.

2) Night At The Museum 3- 30M Weekend, 30M Total
Museum is having to compete directly with Annie, and a bit also with Hobbit, so there’s only just so high this threequel is going to go. Still, the last one opened to 54M, so even if you predict less enthusiasm and tougher competition, it shouldn’t be going much lower than 30M.

3) Annie- 15M Weekend, 15M Total
Providing that everyone didn’t watch the film online, the heavily marketed (and Golden Globe nominated) Annie should do pretty well this weekend. Reviews haven’t been kind, but adults don’t always look to reviews for kids films. Plus, it’s a kids film aimed at girls, which we haven’t seen in a while.

4) Exodus- 10M Weekend, 41M Total
Exodus didn’t have a strong showing with audiences, and will suffer at least a 50% drop this weekend. It also has to directly contend with The Hobbit, as far as action audiences go. It will lose.

5) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1- 7M Weekend, 288M Total
Katniss and Co close in on the 300M mark. Even with The Hobbit, this remains a must-see for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, or for people who like seeing movies over and over.

6) Wild- 5M Weekend, 8M Total
Expanding into over 1,000 screens this weekend, Wild will bank heavily on Reese Witherspoon’s name, and the critical acclaim the film has gotten. It might get buried a bit this weekend, but this one is hoping for the long game.

7) Penguins Of Madagascar- 5M Weekend, 66M Total
Flop.

8) Top Five- 4.5M Weekend, 13M Total
Chris Rock’s film still has strong word of mouth, and is unlikely to drop 50%, probably more like 35-40%.

9) Big Hero 6- 4M Weekend, 191M Total
Big Hero 6 is creeping toward 200M. Another 35% decline to 4M will keep its hopes alive.

10) Interstellar- 3.5M Weekend, 173M Total
11) Horrible Bosses 2- 2.5M Weekend, 48M Total
12) The Theory Of Everything- 2M Weekend, 20M Total

3 Days To Kill

Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen
Directed By: Mc G

I had so many problems watching 3 Days To Kill. At first, I thought the film felt like it was scripted by a classroom of 12 year olds, who each got to add something to the plot of the film. It’s a shame that the film wasn’t taken more seriously, because there isn’t a bad core plot, and if it wasn’t messed with, it might have been a decent movie. Instead of just making a movie about a dying ex-CIA operative being given a second chance at life, we’re bogged down with Amber Heard’s ridiculous CIA agent, family time, squatters, befriending your hostage, albinos (because, why the fuck not?) and other silly shit.

Then all my concerns were answered when I went to IMDB. Directed by McG. Not that McG is the worst director in the world, but he is a dangerously inconsistent director. Don’t believe me? Did you actually enjoy This Means War or the Charlie’s Angels sequel? How about the fact that he most recently directed the awful and nonsensical pilot for The Mysteries Of Laura? Depending on who you ask, the best thing he’s EVER done is either the first Charlie’s Angels or We Are Marshall.

Kevin Costner plays a dying assassin offered a potential second chance at life with an experimental new drug, offered to him by Amber Heard, who looks so ill equipped to be working at the CIA, and is still learning how to do this whole “acting” thing. See… Costner wants to spend more time with his daughter (who might be bipolar considering her hot and cold reactions to her father), and his ex-wife (who may or may not be sleeping with someone else, but we won’t really explore that subplot). Costner also has a home that he hasn’t been to in so long that there are generations of squatters living in his place. They’re super friendly too, and surprisingly understanding of his situation.

One of the main guys in the film is an albino, and I feel like this was pitched at a meeting and the response was “because, why the fuck not?” so they just went with it. Costner’s assassin also oddly befriends one of his hostages, even after torturing him, and gets a second one to give his daughter a recipe for spaghetti sauce. Is this film a comedy? What the hell is going on? The people at Cinema Sins need to jump on this film immediately.

The sad thing is that the action sequences are actually well done, but they are bogged down by half-assed attempts at comedy. The movie is never funny, and Hailee Steinfeld’s character is so poorly written that you never care if father and daughter actually reconcile. This is honestly one of the worst screenplays I’ve ever seen carried out into a movie. Sometimes, a film is let down by acting or directing, but the screenplay here is so awful that I don’t think even Chris Nolan or Martin Scorsese could have saved it without just trashing the whole script.

Somehow, probably largely because of a handful of action sequences, and the fact that even a miscast Costner still seems to be marginally likeable, I found enough reasons to not fail this movie. The screenplay as a stand alone entity would get an F, but there are a few tiny moments in 3 Days To Kill that aren’t just complete trash. Only a few. Not enough for me to say this is a “watchable” film. Kevin Costner may have 3 Days To Kill you, but all he needed was two hours to make you want to do it yourself.

FINAL GRADE: D+

The Grand Seduction

Starring; Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson

I honestly was unaware that The Grand Seduction was a remake of Seducing Doctor Lewis until I actually found the film on Netflix. Of course, that has something to do with the unseen marketing campaign, and tiny theatrical release. I suppose it was because Taylor Kitsch turned out not to be as big of a movie star as everyone thought he would be.

In this movie, he’s charming and funny, and in no way believable as a doctor. Brendan Gleeson was better in Calvary, and even The Company You Keep. Honestly, pretty much everything he’s been he was better in. The movie is based around a small town that tries to woo a doctor into staying there so a factory will open up and bring the area some income and get families off of welfare.

We don’t need to remake everything. I don’t think Seducing Doctor Lewis needed a remake, it was fine the way it was.

FINAL GRADE: B-

The Company You Keep

Starring: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Terrence Howard, Brendon Gleeson, Chris Cooper, Jackie Evancho, Brit Marling, Stanley Tucci, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Sam Elliot, Stephen Root

Directed By: Robert Redford

I’m not sure why this film got the hate it got. Sure, it’s silly to watch Robert Redford jumping a fence, but otherwise it’s a pretty damn solid movie. And that cast? Seriously, that cast is amazing. Sure, Shia can be a bit annoying, but he’s pretty good in this. I just think it should have a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than 55%.

The film is an interesting story about old people who have eluded capture for years, until some new facts come to light, and one of them gets arrested. Then, the cards start coming down on the others until Redford has to become a fugitive to clear his name. LaBeouf plays a reporter who breaks the story and starts the manhunt, with the supporting cast filling out some good roles. Is it Redford’s best? No, not as an actor or a director. But it is still a very competent film, intelligently written and directed, that keeps moving forward at a rather fast pace (pretty surprising for a dialogue heavy movie).

I’m quite late on this film, but I’d definitely recommend it. I think it’s under seen and under valued. If anything, it may remind you that Shia LaBeouf is a decent actor (in case you haven’t seen Fury).

FINAL GRADE: A-

A Look Back: My Top 10 From 2009-2013

I decided to look back at 2013, and see if there were any new films that had cracked my Top 10, or anything I had seen a second time and started to not like anymore. I’m going with the following 10 films as my Top 10 of 2013. Prisoners still sticks with me, as does Dallas Buyers Club. I actually love The Way Way Back more now. Gravity has probably slipped a bit. A few films that were crowdpleasers almost made my list, including Fast and Furious 6, The Heat, and Warm Bodies.

1) Prisoners
2) Dallas Buyers Club
3) The Way Way Back
4) Short Term 12
5) The Wolf Of Wall Street
6) Blue Jasmine
7) Enough Said
8) Gravity
9) This Is The End
10) 12 Years A Slave

For 2012, I was surprised that the list would not be able to include Looper, Wreck It Ralph, or The Hunger Games. I still love both Silver Linings Playbook and Argo, but after repeat viewings on Skyfall and The Campaign, I think they’ve moved up. Also, Rise Of The Guardians and 21 Jump Street (both which hold up on repeat viewings). I also saw The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and The Cabin In The Woods late, so they didn’t make my original top 10.

1) Silver Linings Playbook
2) Argo
3) Skyfall
4) The Campaign
5) 21 Jump Street
6) Rise Of The Guardians
7) The Dark Knight Rises
8) The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
9) Django Unchained
10) The Cabin In The Woods

For 2011, I probably should be including more Oscar friendly movies, but Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes continues to be one of my favorite films to watch, as does Bridesmaids. I don’t think The Help made my original Top 10 list, but it does now.

1) Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
2) Bridesmaids
3) Crazy Stupid Love
4) My Week With Marilyn
5) Midnight In Paris
6) Warrior
7) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
8) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2
9) X-Men: First Class
10) The Help

In 2010, the most memorable movies are still The Town, The Social Network, Inception, and Winter’s Bone. All Oscar movies. I still say Get Low is one of the Top 10 films, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.

1) The Town
2) The Social Network
3) Inception
4) Winter’s Bone
5) How To Train Your Dragon
6) Toy Story 3
7) The Kids Are All Right
8) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 1
9) Get Low
10) Easy A

In 2009, I had a hard time leaving off a few films like Sherlock Holmes, A Single Man, It’s Complicated, Taken, and The Lovely Bones… but my Top 10 makes me happy. I’ve really come to appreciate Coraline as a film, and I can’t leave it off the list.

1) Up
2) Inglorious Basterds
3) District 9
4) State Of Play
5) Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
6) Up In The Air
7) Julie and Julia
8) Zombieland
9) Coraline
10) Crazy Heart

Elysium

Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, William Fichtner
Directed By: Neill Blomkamp

When your big directorial debut is District 9, its really hard to live up to that. District 9 was an incredible film, it was daringly original, and deserves to be remembered as such. Elysium, in a weird way, feels like an unofficial sequel to District 9. It’s just not as good as District 9. Not that it doesn’t have a ton of original ideas, it’s just not as well executed. Blomkamp was given a larger budget, and higher expectations, and he just delivered an OK followup instead of a brilliant one. Elysium isn’t terrible. It’s just like expecting Dark Chocolate, and instead getting plan Milk Chocolate. There’s nothing wrong with it… it just could have been better.

Elysium is plagued by a bizarre accent from Sharlto Copley, making him hard to understand at times, yet Matt Damon’s character is void of accent. Jodie Foster has picked up some bizarre accent as well, yet other people in Elysium don’t speak the same way as her. Accents are this movies biggest downfall. If Matt Damon’s character wasn’t shown growing up in the same slums as everyone else, it would make sense that he wouldn’t have an accent. Unfortunately, this is his home. He speaks American. It’s also Alice Braga’s home, yet she clearly has a Hispanic accent. So does Diego Luna. The lack of continuity is bothersome, but it becomes irritating when I can’t understand Copely, who has the strongest accent in the film.

The film also takes a long time to get going. There’s a lot of setup, and we don’t really feel the action moving until at least the halfway point. The rest is about a class struggle, and the feeling of inequality. Matt Damon had a personal chef for this movie, when he probably should have had a dialect coach to make him sound like someone else in the movie. Kudos to allowing there to be complications and not just use the healing machines for every downed character in the film. I was worried that this would become a problem for the plot, but it seems as though there are some conditions the machines can’t fix.

Overall, I was just a little disappointed by Elysium. I thought it started slow, but picked up the pace. I also had problems with the accents. I do appreciate the originality in the script, and the attempt at trying something different. Instead, it felt like Blomkamp was just trying to continue his District 9 universe with a larger budget and a well known lead.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Muppets Most Wanted

Starring: Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Walter, Gonzo, and the rest of The Muppets.
Also Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, Jemaine Clement, Ray Liotta, Salma Hayek, Christoph Waltz, Celine Dion, Frank Langella, Sean Combs, Rob Corddry, Lady Gaga, Zack Galafanakis, Usher, Josh Groban, Tom Hiddleston, Saorise Ronan, Tom Hollander, Toby Jones, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci, Chloe Grace Moretz, Hugh Bonneville, and Tony Bennett.
Directed By James Bobin

You can’t hate a sequel that sings a song where they say that sequels aren’t ever as good as the first one. It’s like they’re admitting that they can’t live up to the hype of the first Muppets film, but they’re hoping you enjoy the film anyway. It’s kind of a silly sequel which is bolstered by a ridiculous amount of cameos. There’s also a cute joke about Rizzo getting almost no screentime.

For the most part, it’s a silly film with silly performances from Fey, Gervais, and Burrell. It also makes very little sense, but it’s a Muppet movie… so whatever. Some of these actors have never done anything this silly before. Christoph Waltz looks uncomfortable doing this kind of comedy.

I think the kids will like it. Adults? Maybe if you’re a big Muppets fan. Otherwise, it’s just a so-so film.

FINAL GRADE: C+

My Golden Globe Thoughts

I missed the boat on posting the nominations when they were announced. I’m now out of my “busy season”, so I figured I’d post my thoughts on the nominations (and really, the awards contenders as a whole).

The Globes went a bit more for prestige this time around, instead of just inviting “big name actors” to the table. I was actually expecting the Globes to throw Channing Tatum into the race for Supporting Actor for Foxcatcher, but that didn’t happen. I officially consider him out of the race now.

I’m a bit surprised they snubbed Unbroken. I’m also surprised that American Sniper was completely left off the list, though both the Best Picture and Best Actor categories are solid. No love for Mr Turner or Timothy Spall. Will Oscar voters notice him?

Couldn’t Chadwick Boseman have been nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy? What about Chris Rock for Top Five? It’s my understanding that Christoph Waltz is being pushed for Supporting Actor for Big Eyes, so his inclusion in lead actor is confusing.

Julianne Moore’s performance in Maps To The Stars as a comedy? Did they watch the film?

The race is narrowing down a bit. Right now the big questions seem to be “who gets the fifth Best Actor/Actress” spot as four seem to be sewn up. It seems to juggle between Jake Gyllenhall and David Oyelowo for Actor and Amy Adams and Jennifer Aniston for Actress (with Hilary Swank nipping at their heels).

Weekend Box Office: ‘Hunger’ Leads A Thirsty Weekend

The Hunger Games had a small victory this weekend as it managed to stave off only one newcomer (that performed poorly), and take first place again. Meanwhile, the studios behind Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 can’t be happy.

1) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1- 21.6M Weekend, 257.7M Total
2) Penguins Of Madagascar- 11.1M Weekend, 49.5M Total
3) Horrible Bosses 2- 8.6M Weekend, 36M Total
4) Big Hero 6- 8.1M Weekend, 177.5M Total
5) Interstellar- 8M Weekend, 158.6M Total
6) Dumb and Dumber To- 4.1M Weekend, 78M Total
7) The Theory Of Everything- 2.6M Weekend, 13.6M Total
8) Gone Girl- 1.5M Weekend, 162.8M Total
9) The Pyramid- 1.3M Weekend, 1.3M Total
10) Birdman- 1.1M Weekend, 18.9M Total
11) St Vincent- 1M Weekend, 40.7M Total
12) Nightcrawler- 1M Weekend, 30M Total
13) Fury- 0.8M Weekend, 83.2M Total
14) Beyond The Lights- 0.7M Weekend, 13.8M Total
15) Wild- 0.6M Weekend, 0.6M Total
??) Foxcatcher- 0.5M Weekend, 2.8M Total
??) The Homesman- 0.5M Weekend, 1M Total
??) The Imitation Game- 0.4M Weekend, 1M Total
??) Whiplash- 0.3M Weekend, 4.4M Total
??) Rosewater- 0.1M Weekend, 2.9M Total
??) The Babadook- 66K Weekend, 112K Total

Oscars: The Race So Far

I spent the morning updating my Awards Tracker page. A few titles have fallen completely out of the race. I don’t believe Rosewater is a contender for anything other than perhaps a dark horse for Best Adapted Screenplay. It just isn’t getting the right amount of traction. Other films seem to be losing steam as new contenders are gaining steam.

For Best Picture:
Right now, Boyhood remains a lock. It’s amazing that a film that came out over the summer can still dominate the conversation the way Boyhood has. Whether or not it wins is another debate. Birdman is a huge contender now, and two new entries are picking up steam (Selma and Unbroken). Gone Girl is probably a lock for a nomination at least, and The Imitation Game is adored by critics. Interstellar has a good shot, because those who loved it really loved it, and it just needs a certain percentage of 1st place votes to get nominated (it won’t win). That leaves a few darkhorses for best picture, like Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, Inherent Vice, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and a few others.

For Best Director:
We might actually see two female director nominees this year with Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay for Unbroken and Selma. Richard Linklater is a lock, and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu is basically a lock. The last spot I think will go to David Fincher, a high profile name who directed one of the years biggest movies. Clint Eastwood is also a strong contender, and someone like Morten Tyldum or JC Chandor could also sneak in.

For Best Actor:
It’s a big race, but it’s a race most people agree on. There’s a ton of dark horses here, and just like last year, the Oscars might not nominate the front running five (as Robert Redford learned). Most people agree that Michael Keaton is a lock for Birdman, and there’s a ton of talk about Steve Carell for Foxcatcher. I can’t see the Oscars snubbing Eddie Redmayne for The Theory Of Everything or Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game. That leaves one spot, which I think could go to Timothy Spall for Mr Turner. He’s often overlooked, and if the film isn’t seen by enough people, it’s possible he could go overlooked to someone like Ben Affleck for Gone Girl or Bradley Cooper for American Sniper. Another wrench is David Oyelowo for Selma, who is getting high praise for playing Martin Luther King Jr.

For Best Actress:
Not really a deep race. Reese Witherspoon is a lock for Wild. Julianne Moore is a lock for Still Alice. Rosamund Pike is a sure thing for Gone Girl. Felicity Jones looks pretty solid for A Theory Of Everything. For the fifth spot I’m going with Amy Adams for Big Eyes right now, but there are a bunch of women who could make that change. Specifically, Jennifer Aniston in Cake, if her film gets enough traction.

For Best Supporting Actor:
JK Simmons remains the talk of the town here, with Edward Norton nipping at his heels. The big question is where will Channing Tatum be pushed? He has no shot in Best Actor, but if they submit him as supporting actor, he could change up the race. Mark Ruffalo is still a contender, as is Ethan Hawke for Boyhood, and Robert Duvall for The Judge. Another possible dark horse is korean popstar Miyavi, who is gaining attention for Unbroken.

For Best Supporting Actress:
Patricia Arquette is safe for now, but she has to contend with Keira Knightley and Emma Stone, who have remained frontrunners for their films. Meryl Streep is in this race too, and it’s hard to see them passing up a nomination for her. Jessica Chastain is also a popular choice, and Laura Dern is getting attention for Wild.

For Best Animated Feature:
Unless a small animated film we haven’t really seen upsets this race, the five nominees will be: The Lego Movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, and Book Of Life. I think Book Of Life is the most vulnerable here, but I don’t know what film would knock it out.

St Vincent

Starring: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, Nate Corddry, Ann Dowd, Scott Adsit

Directed By: Theodore Melfi

I can understand why some critics didn’t like St Vincent. It was advertised as being a little more like ‘Bad Santa’ than it really ended up being. Pretty much from the beginning, you know that Vincent is a good guy trapped in a harsh exterior. It’s not as crude as you might have thought, and it has some really serious moments in it that the trailer leaves out (and I will likely spoil, so run away now…)

What I really loved about St Vincent is that Bill Murray gets to run the gauntlet, so to speak. He plays a really solid antihero, who we all come to adore by the end of the film. We love him, because he takes care of his wife who doesn’t remember him anymore. We love him because he steps up as a surrogate father for the prostitute he’s been seeing. We love him because through the bullshit, he offers some sage advice to Oliver. And Bill Murray gets to have a showy acting role, finally, when Vincent suffers a stroke.

Murray has been on the “shoulda been nominated” list a couple of times, and I have a really bad feeling St Vincent is just another one of those roles. But, I can’t help but feel like he deserves to be nominated here. If not for the recognition of this work, but for the recognition of all the times the Academy got it wrong. Another really fine performance is logged by Melissa McCarthy, who gets to finally show some acting chops outside of comedy, playing a struggling mother just trying to keep it together. Both actors deserve nominations for their work, but it will be Murray’s snub that will be felt more (as McCarthy is already an Oscar nominee).

Maybe it is too fluffy, or too “goody”, or everything is wrapped up really nicely. I don’t know why we started hating feel good movies, but it seems like some people roll their eyes now at them. This is a feel good movie, and I felt great afterward. It was one of maybe only a handful of films I saw this year that I would have immediately watched again, and plan to definitely pick up on DVD. If I had to directly compare it to a film, I would compare it to Enough Said, another really good indie film that got awards attention, but ultimately came up with very little awards love.

Maybe he’ll at least get a Golden Globe nomination?

Poor Bill.

FINAL GRADE: A

Too Cool For Comic-Con

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