Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wan conjures up nothing but solid gold, with 'Aquaman' next

LOS ANGELES  -- Director, producer and writer James Wan, whose latest film, "The Conjuring 2," debuts Friday, remains on a huge roll.
Not only is this nifty horror sequel almost as spine-tingling as the fresh original, but talented Aussie Wan also comes off helming "Furious 7," the $1 billion (worldwide) action flick that likely cemented his future in gold.
Still, during an interview last Saturday at the plush Four Seasons Hotel, the creator of the "Saw" and "Insidious" franchises admitted that he was glad to be back at his scary home.
" 'Furious 7' was an incredible experience for me," Wan begins. "It was the opportunity to go off and play on a huge canvas and take over a beloved franchise in front of the studio and producers who trusted me to not screw it up. With all the logistics and even the heartbreak (the Paul Walker tragedy occurred during filming) of that ride, it made me believe that I could tackle any movie because of the big budget, the movie stars and even those more unfortunate obstacles."
Wan comes back home with Farmiga and Wilson in "The Conjuring 2."
Maybe because of the personal pressures resulting from all of the above, though, Wan quickly jumped on another opportunity.
"Honestly," he says. "there was a big part of me emotionally that just wanted to go back and get a big hug. I just felt I needed to go off and do something for my soul, and the idea of going back to work with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson would do that.
"They're people I had so much fun with working on the first movie and, to be fair, everything I had done up to 'Furious 7' had been my own creation. I guess I didn't really appreciate the creative freedoms I had enjoyed previously.
"Besides, creating characters we care about is the most important thing, no matter what genre we're talking about," he continues. "I look at other filmmakers who I truly idolize and aspire to be like, particularly Steven Spielberg, who works in so many different genres, but yet all his characters become so dynamic in all those worlds."
Well, guess what? Wan next gets an opportunity to jump into a water world when he directs the long-talked-about but only imagined "Aquaman," as part of Warner Brothers' Justice League series of superhero films.
"The great thing about Aquaman," Wan says, "is how he's perceived as the butt of so many jokes. That actually gives me a lot of freedom to create a character that no one's really seen before. You know, it's harder when you're doing a story or movie about Spiderman or Superman or Batman, right? Everyone is so well-versed on them because there has been so much already done about them.
"But, no one's ever done a story about Aquaman," Wan concludes, "and that certainly makes it more interesting for me. I don't just want to make a superhero movie simply for the sake of making a superhero movie because there's just so many of them. The fact that it's never been done before makes it all the more exciting, at least for me."
For the record, "Aquaman," with Jason Momoa in the starring role, will debut in 2018. A side note: it's being co-written by Mansfield, Ohio's own David Leslie Johnson, the co-screenwriter on "The Conjuring 2."
(Read John's review of "The Conjuring 2" here.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Amy Adams has a memorable scene for all the wrong reasons

LOS ANGELES -- It won't be giving away too much to mention that Lois Lane takes a bath -- kinda with Clark Kent -- in the new Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. After all, the movie's trailer briefly spilled the beans. Then, Amy Adams, the talented actress who has played the intrepid reporter/girlfriend since "Man of Steel," broke everyone up about it during a Friday press conference after someone asked cast members to name their most memorable sequence in the film.
Amy Adams relaxes in the arms of her man in "Superman v. Batman."
"I’m gonna go with the bathtub scene," Adams answered coyly while reporters, most of whom had seen the movie the night before, broke out in waves of laughter. 
"Hey, I’m just trying to lighten up the moment, but actually it was horrible for me," Adams continued. "I mean, here I was, trying to protect my modesty and unflattering bum while this demigod (Henry Cavill as Superman alter ego Kent) stood above me with his shirt off. 
"I had low self-esteem for two weeks after that. It's true; I really was like, ‘I’m hideous.’"
Certainly the lovely Adams has nothing to worry about, but she did come back to mention how much she legitimately enjoyed a much more quiet scene with Diane Lane, who reprises her role as Superman's stepmom, Martha Kent.
Lane, meanwhile, answered the original question by explaining that a certain screen moment she actually shared with Ben Affleck was the first scene filmed with the actor in full Batman mode.
"I'll never forget how fabulous Ben looked in all that regalia," she said.
On his end of the dais, Affleck thanked Lane for the kind words, as well as for her support in that early scene. "It was really nice to have Diane there -- a friendly face and a great actress -- to kind of comfort me," he said. "She looked at me as if to say, ‘It’s gonna be all right.’ I really appreciated that, Diane."  
Of course, ever the uh . . .  joker, Affleck also reminded everyone there how he first "discovered" the beauty of Lane in another movie, "Hollywoodland." Ironically, he starred in that one as "Superman" TV actor George Reeves, and Lane portrayed the married woman having an affair with him.
Look for more from John M. Urbancich about Superman v. Batman right now at wkyc.com and right here at cleveland.com.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Editing category may hold key to tonight's Best Picture

Will the "Spotlight" remain on the movie of the same name when the curtain comes down on tonight's 88th Academy Awards? Or will "The Revenant" run rampant, with "The Big Short" also coming up, er, well . . . short?

Less than 10 hours until showtime and any of those three, among eight Best Picture nominees, still could take home the big prize at the end of what looks to be another lengthy telecast on ABC-TV. Going in, "The Revenant," the much-lauded frontier epic, leads the mix with 12 nominations, and its director, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, already has won the Oscar-potent Directors Guild of America Award.
"The Big Short," meanwhile, with its smart and funny take on the 2008 banking crisis, has another bellwether in its moneybag after walking off with last month's Producer's Guild Award.
Of course, in addition to earning the Best Feature statue at yesterday's Film Independent Spirit Awards, "Spotlight" owns the Screen Actors Guild's important Oustanding Ensemble Award, not to mention the "Critics' Choice" Best Picture tag from the usually spot-on BroadcastFilm Critics Association.
You can read what I think about the big category below, but the Oscar show itself might actually give away the winner early on when it reveals the victor for Best Achievement in Film Editing. 
In fact, Academy Award history probably dictates that "Spotlight" and "The Big Short," both nominated in that category along with "The Revenant," "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," actually might need an editing win to then emerge as Best Picture. 

That's because only one "Best Picture" in more than 60 years, "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 1953, has won the top prize with less than two other awards. And, unless there's a big upset in either the directing or acting categories, neither "Spotlight" nor "The Big Short" can count seriously on winning anything other than respective original and adapted screenplay awards. On the other hand, "The Revenant" certainly expects to win even more than the requisite three.
Right now, only those famous accountants at Pricewaterhouse Coopers have any answers but, until all is revealed, here are some thoughts on key races:
   
BEST ACTOR: Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”), Matt Damon (“The Martian”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”),
Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”).
SHOULD WIN: DiCaprio's body took a beating as the put-upon mountain man, but his eyes spoke volumes, too.
WILL WIN: Finally, Leo gets the gold.

BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett (“Carol”), Brie Larson (“Room”), Jennifer Lawrence, (“Joy”), Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”), Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”).
SHOULD WIN: Too few voters actually saw the marvelous Rampling do wonders opposite Tom Courtenay. 
WILL WIN: Young Larson wins in a walk out of "Room."

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale (“The Big Short”), Tom Hardy (“The Revenant”), Mark Ruffalo ("Spotlight”), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”), Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”).
SHOULD WIN: Little-known British theatrical star Rylance enjoyed many terrific moments as a Russian operative.
WILL WIN: Stallone gets a kind of People's Choice Award for one last go-round as "Rocky," his most famous role.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Jason Leigh (“The Hateful Eight”), Rooney Mara (“Carol”), Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight”), Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”), Kate Winslet  (“Steve Jobs”).
SHOULD WIN: Vikander steals the picture from the actor-nominated Eddie Redmayne.
WILL WIN: Only Winslet might stand in the way, but it looks like a well-deserved Vikander victory.

BEST DIRECTOR: Adam McKay ("The Big Short”), George Miller ( “Mad Max: Fury Road”), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“The Revenant”), Lenny Abrahamson (“Room”), Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”).
SHOULD WIN: Inarritu certainly helmed one beautifully crafted epic.
WILL WIN: Inarritu, unless there's some reluctance to give it to the same winner again. (He won last year for "Birdman.")

BEST PICTURE: “The Big Short,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,”  “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,”  “Room,” "Spotlight."
SHOULD WIN: "Spotlight" tells of shocking crimes with a scintillating take on the kind of investigative journalism you can't read much anymore.
WILL WIN: Regardless, "The Revenant" looks like the bear to beat.

BEST ANIMATED FILM: "Anomalisa,” “Boy and the World,” “Inside Out,” Shaun the Sheep Movie," “When Marnie Was There”
SHOULD WIN: "Inside Out," the best animated film in years.
WILL WIN: "Inside Out" emerges from the finest animated field in years.

The rest of the probable winners:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy ("Spotlight"); BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay ("The Big Short"); BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:  Emmanuel Lubezki (“The Revenant”); BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "Son of Saul"; BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "Amy"; FILM EDITING: "Mad Max: Fury Road”; MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Ennio Morricone,"The Hateful Eight"; BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Till It Happens To You” (“The Hunting Ground”)

COSTUME DESIGN: Mad Max: Fury Road”; PRODUCTION DESIGN: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; VISUAL EFFECTS: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens";  SOUND EDITING: “The Revenant”; SOUND MIXING: “The Revenant”

BEST SHORTS: "Sanjay's Super Team" (Animated); "Body Team 12" (Documentary); "Ave Maria" (Live Action)

Happy viewing! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

'The Force Awakens' gets late nod for BFCA best picture

Daisy Ridley as the heroic Rey
The Broadcast Film Critics Association today announced that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Picture.  Winners will be revealed at the 21st annual Critics’ Choice Awards show on Jan. 17. It will be televised  live at 8 p.m. on A&E, Lifetime and LMN and hosted by T.J. Miller.  

The film was not screened for BFCA voters in time for the initial nominations balloting but, after members of the nation’s largest film critics group saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last week, it was decided to hold a special referendum yesterday to determine if it would have been nominated if the BFCA membership had been able to consider it.
Harrison Ford as Han Solo -- again.

The exception was made for only the Best Picture
category. All other Critics’ Choice Award nominations remain as previously announced.

While making an amendment to the Critics’ Choice Awards nominations is highly unusual, having an 11th Best Picture nominee is not unprecedented. In 2000, “Cast Away” was similarly screened too late for normal consideration and the BFCA included it among 11 Best Picture nominees.

It is the purpose of the Critics’ Choice Awards to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement.  Making this exception to our rules serves this purpose. Historically, the “Critics' Choice Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

Click here to read John M. Urbancich's review of the film.
  

Monday, December 14, 2015

'Mad Max: Fury Road' earns 13 Critics' Choice noms

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) have announced the nominees for The 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards.  The winners will be revealed live at a star-studded Critics’ Choice Awards gala, which will be broadcast from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica on A&E, Lifetime and LMN at 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan, 17, immediately following “Critics’ Choice Red Carpet Live," which begins at 7 p.m. As previously announced, actor and comedian T.J. Miller will serve as the show’s host. 
NOMINATIONS FOR THE 21st ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS


MOVIE
BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian
Johnny Depp – Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone – Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Helen Mirren – Trumbo
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation
RJ Cyler – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Shameik Moore – Dope
Milo Parker – Mr. Holmes
Jacob Tremblay – Room

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Big Short
The Hateful Eight
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton
Trumbo

BEST DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes – Carol
Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant 
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Steven Spielberg – Bridge of Spies

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight 
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley – Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay – The Big Short
Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
Drew Goddard – The Martian
Emma Donoghue – Room
Aaron Sorkin – Steve Jobs

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol – Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
The Martian – Dariusz Wolski
The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario – Roger Deakins

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies – Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
Brooklyn – François Séguin, Jennifer Oman and Louise Tremblay
Carol – Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
The Danish Girl – Eve Stewart, Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson
The Martian – Arthur Max, Celia Bobak

BEST EDITING
The Big Short – Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road – Margaret Sixel
The Martian – Pietro Scalia
The Revenant – Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight – Tom McArdle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Brooklyn – Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Carol – Sandy Powell
Cinderella – Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl – Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road – Jenny Beavan

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
Black Mass
Carol
The Danish Girl 
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
The Walk

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Sicario

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Daniel Craig – Spectre
Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Tom Hardy – Mad Max: Fury Road
Chris Pratt – Jurassic World
Paul Rudd – Ant-Man

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Emily Blunt – Sicario
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST COMEDY
The Big Short
Inside Out
Joy
Sisters
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Steve Carell – The Big Short
Robert De Niro – The Intern
Bill Hader – Trainwreck
Jason Statham – Spy

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Tina Fey – Sisters
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Melissa McCarthy – Spy
Amy Schumer – Trainwreck
Lily Tomlin – Grandma

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
Ex Machina
It Follows
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Assassin
Goodnight Mommy
Mustang
The Second Mother
Son of Saul

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amy
Cartel Land
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
He Named Me Malala
The Look of Silence
Where to Invade Next

BEST SONG
Fifty Shades of Grey – Love Me Like You Do 
Furious 7 – See You Again
The Hunting Ground – Til It Happens To You
Love & Mercy – One Kind of Love
Spectre – Writing’s on the Wall
Youth – Simple Song #3

BEST SCORE
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
The Revenant – Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Spotlight – Howard Shore

The Critics' Choice Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. The BFCA is the largest film critics' organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. BFCA members are the primary source of information for today's film-going public. BTJA is the collective voice of almost 100 journalists who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences. Historically, the “Critics' Choice Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

Click here for a complete list of BTJA television nominations, led by "Fargo," with eight. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trailer for TIFF-headed 'Martian' sends you out of this world

The first sighting of "The Martian" is here!

Featuring a star-studded cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover, the Ridley Scott film is based on a best-selling novel by Andy Weir. 

You can watch the NEW trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej3ioOneTy8

"The Martian" will have its world premiere at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 10-20) and hits theaters on Oct. 2.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Vallee's 'Demolition' to open 40th annual TIFF

 The Toronto International Film Festival today announced that Jean-Marc Vallée’s "Demolition" will open the 40th annual event on Sept. 10.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts in a lighter moment from "Demolition."
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and Judah Lewis, "Demolition" will have its world premiere at Roy Thomson Hall. “Over the years the Festival has been proud to present Jean-Marc Vallée’s feature films. including 'Black List,' (festival favorite) 'C.R.A.Z.Y.,' 'Café de Flore,' 'The Young Victoria,' 'Dallas Buyers Club,' and 'Wild,' " said Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF. “Vallée is a proud Canadian with a distinct and powerful filmmaking voice and we can’t wait to share his latest film with festival audiences on Opening Night.”

“Vallée has a tradition of presenting strong characters who are on journeys to self-discovery and redemption and is the only filmmaker in our history to present both an opening and a closing night film at the festival,” added Cameron Bailey, the festival Artistic Director. "This film tells the story of a man who deals with loss in unexpected ways, and is brought to life on screen through sensitive and commanding performances by Gyllenhaal, Watts, Cooper and newcomer Lewis.”

In "Demolition," a successful investment banker (Gyllenhaal) struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law to pull it together, the man continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions.

About 50 other films for the 40th Toronto International Film Festival, which runs Sept. 10-20, also were announced today at a press conference moderated by Handling and Bailey. They include movies starring last year's Oscar-winning Best Actor and Actress, Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore.

The latter co-stars with Ellen Page as a lesbian couple fighting for their rights and work benefits in the world premiere of "Freeheld," while Redmayne plays the title character in director Tom Hooper's transgender drama, "The Danish Girl."  Redmayne's and Moore's award-winning roles were featured at last year's TIFF in "The Theory of Everything" and "Still Alice," respectively.

Moore also stars in another world premiere at this year's TIFF, "Maggie's Plan" from director Rebecca Miller.