Thursday, February 19, 2015

'Boyhood' or 'Birdman'? Your surefire Oscar winners are here

Way back on Nov. 17, yours truly had the downright gall to write (on a different web site) that three of the four 2014 Academy Award acting winners already had been decided.

And you know what? Things have not changed much, since the predicted choices
in those races for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor and Actress remain the
same as the names listed in those categories below. Now, however, we've added a
few more picks to the mix in anticipation of Sunday's 87th annual Oscar show,
which brings up the curtain at 8:30 p.m. on ABC-TV (WEWS Channel 5 in northeast Ohio).

Though we've sprinkled in a few possible surprises, don't expect any real shockers this
year since the only really battle looms between Best Picture favorites "Birdman"
and "Boyhood." It's the technical complexities of show biz versus the profoundly
simple story of growing up in America. And the winners are:

Richard Linklater (right) and Patricia Arquette lead the "Boyhood" charge. 
Best Supporting Actor -- Robert Duvall, “The Judge”; Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”; Edward Norton, “Birdman”; Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”; J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Will Win: This one has belonged to longtime character actor J.K. Simmons practically since "Whiplash" walked off with a handful of awards from the Sundance Film Festival way back in January 2014. No one else stands a chance, even in this very strong field.
Should Win: Simmons, whose performance as a semi-psychotic professor of music is simply mesmerizing.

Best Supporting Actress -- Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Laura Dern, “Wild”; Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”; Emma Stone, “Birdman”; Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
Will Win: Once again an easy choice, with Patricia Arquette, ever maternal and equally real and troubled in "Boyhood," dominating a category featuring much bigger names than hers.
Should Win: Arquette deserves all the praise she's getting for being the character engine that could in a film that delivers after more than a decade in the making.

Best Actress -- Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”; Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Julianne Moore in "Still Alice."
Will Win: Like Simmons and Arquette, Julianne Moore has won every other award she's been eligible for up till now, and Mr. Oscar certainly won't elude her, either.
Should Win: Moore, movingly elegant as a career wife and mom diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. The rest are also-rans, including Pike whose riveting lead role will be left in the dust, too.

Best Actor -- Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”; Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”;
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”; Michael Keaton, “Birdman”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, a fine actor and well-received young Brit, has delighted
everyone he meets during the months-long awards season. His late stretch run for
this prize should be enough to defeat early frontrunner Michael Keaton, who basically
plays himself in "Birdman."   
Should Win: Oh yeah, Redmayne actually soars as acclaimed and stricken scientist Stephen Hanwking in a role reminiscent of  Daniel Day Lewis' Oscar-winning tasks in "My Left Foot."
Upset Alert: If there is a surprise in any of the four acting categories, it could come here from the popular Bradley Cooper. He's easily the best thing in "American Sniper," whose surprisingly strong box office has heightened its profile immensely in the last month or so. 

Best Director -- “Birdman, ” Alejandro G. Iñárritu; “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater; “Foxcatcher,” Bennett Miller; “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson; “The Imitation Game,” Morten Tyldum
Will Win: Flip a coin here, but my pick is Richard Linklater to edge the favored Iñárritu, who already has won this year's coveted Directors Guild award. I just think Academy voters will reward the "Boyhood" auteur for actually masterminding a life project along the way of an already long and creative career.  
Should Win: Linklater, whose grand concept for a movie 12 years in the making might have been a disaster instead of the masterpiece it truly became.

Best Picture -- “American Sniper,” “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Whiplash”
Will Win: "Boyhood," by a mere whisker over "Birdman," an equally grand film which, it says here, remains just a little too weird for Academy voters to give it their top prize.
Should Win: I'd vote for "Whiplash," which I still believe to be 2014's most purely entertaining movie. Alas, besides Simmons' supporting actor honors and possibly the film's precise sound, its best chances for an Oscar could come in adapted screenplay and/or film editing categories, where it likely will have to upset "The Imitation Game" and "Boyhood," respectively. 

Best Original Song -- “Everything Is Awesome” ("The Lego Movie”); “Glory” (“Selma”); “Grateful” (“Beyond the Lights”); “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” ("Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”); “Lost Stars” (“Begin Again”)
Will Win: "Glory," the stirring anthem from Common and John Legend that closes the powerful "Selma."
Should Win: "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," the Glen Campbell Alzheimer's ballad with the most meaningful words in any movie song this year.

Best Foreign Language Film -- "Ida,” “Leviathan,” “Tangerines,” “Timbuktu,” “Wild Tales”
Will Win: This one's a two-horse race between Poland's "Ida" and Russia's bureaucratically daunting "Leviathan." Look for politically savvy voters to go with Poland.
Should Win: I'd go with Argentina's aptly named "Wild Tales," a funny and fascinating film focusing on the absurd.

Best Documentary Feature -- “CitizenFour,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” “The Salt of the Earth,” “Virunga”
Will Win: In this sketchy field, which doesn't include the brilliance of the Roger
Ebert doc, "Life Itself," "CitizenFour" looks like the clearcut choice.
Should Win: "CitizenFour" follows the trail of infamous whistle-blower Edward Snowden, with paranoia running very decisively deep.

Best Animated Feature -- “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”
Will Win: It's another head-scratching year in an ever-mediocre category with "The Lego Movie," the year's most universally praised animated film, not even nominated. That leaves a battle between huge money-makers "Big Hero 6" and How to Train Your Dragon 2,” I'll go with the latter. Just because.
Should Win: "The Boxtrolls" is the only one that kept me smiling from beginning to end, but it doesn't have a prayer.
 Upset Alert: Maybe "Princess Kaguya" stands a chance. After all, it did win here in voting by the Los Angeles Film Critics. Then again, there really hasn't been a truly deserving animated feature Oscar winner since "Toy Story 3," and that's already five years ago.

The rest of your winners:

Adapted Screenplay: "Whiplash"; Original Screenplay: "The Grand Budapest Hotel";
Original Score: "The Theory of Everything"; Costume Design" "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Production Design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Cinematography: "Birdman"; Visual Effects: "Interstellar"; Film Editing: "Boyhood";
Makeup and Hairstyling: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Animated Short: "Feast";
Live-Action Short: "The Phone Call"; Documentary Short: "Crisis Hotline, Veterans Press 1

Sound Mixing: "Whiplash"; Sound Editing: "American Sniper"

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Brolin bashes Phoenix and both live to tell about it

LOS ANGELES -- According to Josh Brolin, working with fellow actor Joaquin Phoenix and writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson is a totally unique filmmaking experience. In "Inherent Vice," Brolin, as burly and bonkers L.A. cop Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornsen, is the mortal enemy of Phoenix's eccentric private eye, a '70s stoner still very much hung over from the psychedelic '60s.
Brolin explains during a December interview: "The one thing about working with Joaquin and Paul was that, if an instinct entered the room, the instinct was usually manifested. Now, whether it worked or not was a completely different conversation."
Doc Sportello and Bigfoot Bjornsen square off again.
The best example of that dynamic shows up in the very first scene shot for the film, which is adapted from the very trippy and funny Thomas Pynchon novel. 
"Now remember," Brolin continues, "you're working with Joaquin, who is somebody you know can take it. But that first shot in the movie -- the first time Joaquin and I ever worked together -- was a simple dialogue scene of confronting each other, with me in the car and him outside. 
"Then Paul said something like, 'Why don't you not say any dialogue, confront each other and, anytime you want to talk, make it a dance move instead?'
"I think a bit of that actually showed up in the movie somewhere, at least a moment of it, and then that turned into something violent.
"There was one take that I even pushed Joaquin into a wall, and we didn't know it was fake. So, he went through the wall and then down some stairs. Of course, I felt bad, but it's Joaquin! And Joaquin is like a little baby. He's just rubber. He doesn't even react."
Naturally, the ever-resilient Phoenix remembers it much differently, not to mention a little less dramatically, and with a surprise ending.
"Oh, yeah, I completely forgot about that," he says during a separate interview.
"I don't think that I fell through, because I don't think I'd be here if I did. Besides, it wasn't a wall, it was almost like aluminum siding.
"Anyway, it was just this barrier for this little garden, and I got pushed and part of me went through. Then," Phoenix concludes, "we walked around and looked down and we saw that it was a complete drop way down to the basement.
"It was just one of those things and wow, one week into shooting and there would've been some broken bones."
With "Inherent Vice" opening wide this weekend, you can read more about Phoenix and his character, Larry "Doc" Sportello, here right now.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Early critics choices number 13 flights for 'Birdman'

Keaton (left) and Norton lead the "Birdman" fight for awards.
The Broadcast Film Critics Association has announced the nominees for The 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, with “Birdman” leading the way with 13 nods, including Best Picture, Michael Keaton for Best Actor and Best Actor in a Comedy, Edward Norton for Best Supporting Actor, Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress, Best Acting Ensemble, Alejandro G. Inarritu for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Comedy, and Best Score.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” also impressed with 11 nominations: Best Picture, Ralph Fiennes for Best Actor and Best Actor in a Comedy, Tony Revolori for Best Young Actor/Actress, Best Acting Ensemble, Wes Anderson for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Comedy.

Winners will be revealed at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, which will broadcast live on A&E from the Hollywood Palladium at 9 p.m. Jan. 15, the same day the Academy Award nominations are announced.  This is the first year that the BFCA will partner with A&E to broadcast the show.

NOMINATIONS FOR THE 20th ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS

BEST PICTURE
Birdman
Boyhood
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Nightcrawler
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken
Whiplash

BEST ACTOR
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman
David Oyelowo – Selma
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood
Ansel Elgort – The Fault in Our Stars
Mackenzie Foy – Interstellar
Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent
Tony Revolori – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Quvenzhane Wallis – Annie
Noah Wiseman – The Babadook

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Selma

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay – Selma
David Fincher – Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Inarritu – Birdman
Angelina Jolie – Unbroken
Richard Linklater – Boyhood

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Birdman – Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten
Unbroken – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Wild – Nick Hornby

BEST CINEMATOGRAPY
Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman
Interstellar – Hoyte Van Hoytema
Mr. Turner – Dick Pope
Unbroken – Roger Deakins

BEST ART DIRECTION
Birdman – Kevin Thompson/Production Designer, George DeTitta Jr./Set Decorator
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen/Production Designer, Anna Pinnock/Set Decorator
Inherent Vice – David Crank/Production Designer, Amy Wells/Set Decorator
Interstellar – Nathan Crowley/Production Designer, Gary Fettis/Set Decorator
Into the Woods – Dennis Gassner/Production Designer, Anna Pinnock/Set Decorator
Snowpiercer – Ondrej Nekvasil/Production Designer, Beatrice Brentnerova/Set Decorator

BEST EDITING
Birdman – Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione
Boyhood – Sandra Adair
Gone Girl – Kirk Baxter
Interstellar – Lee Smith
Whiplash – Tom Cross

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard
Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
Foxcatcher
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Into the Woods
Maleficent

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edge of Tomorrow
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie

BEST ACTION MOVIE
American Sniper
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Fury
Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Tom Cruise – Edge of Tomorrow
Chris Evans – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Brad Pitt – Fury
Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow
Scarlett Johansson – Lucy
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Zoe Saldana – Guardians of the Galaxy
Shailene Woodley – Divergent

BEST COMEDY
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
St. Vincent
Top Five
22 Jump Street

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Jon Favreau – Chef
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Bill Murray – St. Vincent
Chris Rock – Top Five
Channing Tatum – 22 Jump Street

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Rose Byrne – Neighbors
Rosario Dawson – Top Five
Melissa McCarthy – St. Vincent
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Kristen Wiig – The Skeleton Twins

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
The Babadook
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Interstellar
Snowpiercer
Under the Skin

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Force Majeure
Ida
Leviathan
Two Days, One Night
Wild Tales

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Citizenfour
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Last Days in Vietnam
Life Itself
The Overnighters

BEST SONG
Big Eyes – Lana Del Rey – Big Eyes
Everything Is Awesome – Jo Li and the Lonely Island – The Lego Movie
Glory – Common/John Legend – Selma 
Lost Stars – Keira Knightley – Begin Again
Yellow Flicker Beat – Lorde – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

BEST SCORE
Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson – The Theory of Everything
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez – Birdman
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar

Super Bowl Champion and New York Giants Hall of Famer Michael Strahan will serve as the annual awards show’s host this year.  He is the co-host of the popular morning talk show “LIVE with Kelly and Michael,” and an Emmy-nominated “Fox NFL Sunday” analyst. 

As announced previously, Kevin Costner, Ron Howard and Jessica Chastain each will receive special honors at the ceremony.  Costner, winner of two Academy Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award, will be honored with the "Lifetime Achievement Award," celebrating more than three decades of incredible work in film.  The LOUIS XIII Critics’ Choice Genius Award, established to honor an icon who has demonstrated unprecedented excellence in the cinematic arts, will be presented to multiple award-winning director, producer and actor Ron Howard. Chastain will receive the inaugural "Critics’ Choice MVP Award," which recognizes an extraordinary actor for work in several standout movies throughout a single year.  She is being saluted for starring in the films Interstellar, Miss Julie, A Most Violent Year (which also earned her a nomination this year), and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Here comes 'The Judge' to kick-start Toronto

Stop the presses!
Three days after announcing a closing night film, the 39th annual Toronto International Film Festival has announced "The Judge" as its opening night starrer on Sept. 4.
 From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, the Big Kid Pictures/Team Downey production stars Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.

Big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) returns to his childhood home where his estranged father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
 “The stars aligned and we are thrilled to announce that we will kick off the Festival with The Judge,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO, TIFF. “David Dobkin has delivered a moving, textured story about family, duty and the way we remember our past. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to this year’s event.”
“I brought my first film, Clay Pigeons, to Toronto, so 15 years later to actually be on opening night with The Judge is incredibly special and thrilling,” Dobkin said. “The Festival audiences are terrific, and I know I speak for everyone involved in the film when I say we are so pleased to be unveiling it there.”
“We always want to deliver for our audience and we can't think of a better way than kicking things off with The Judge,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director for the Toronto International Film Festival. “Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are terrific in the film, and David Dobkin guides the entire cast to rich, satisfying performances.”
Sue Kroll, President Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, said, “We are so proud to be taking The Judge to TIFF, and honored to be in the opening night slot. The film is truly deserving and we believe the always-discerning audience in Toronto will appreciate it as much as we do.”
The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14. "The Judge" goes into wide release Oct. 10.


BE SURE TO LOOK FOR JOHN'S POSTS FROM TORONTO 2014 DAILY AT WKYC.com.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

No TIFF opener yet, but "A Little Chaos" will close it

While no Opening Night film has been announced to kick off this year's 39th Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 4, there will be "A Little Chaos" when the annual 10-day event heads down the stretch on the evening of Sept. 13.
After all, that's the name of noted actor Alan Rickman's first directorial effort in 18 years. And, if Harry Potter's crotchety Prof. Severus Snape isn't enough to count on, please know he'll bring along a supporting cast that includes Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Ehle and Matthias Schoenaerts.
Rickman plays King Louis XIV opposite the Oscar-winning Winslet's Sabine, a controversial landscaper chosen to design the world-class gardens at Versailles.
“ 'A Little Chaos' is the perfect closing night film – it transports audiences to another time, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey. "It will wind audiences up just as our Festival is winding down.”
"Chaos" is one of 37 world premieres announced today at a morning press conference that unveiled about 60 of the festival's expected 300 titles, mostly from TIFF's popular Gala and Special Presentations offerings.
“Toronto can anticipate another remarkable lineup of films,” added CEO and Director Piers Handling. “Cinema’s collective and transformative experience lives at the heart of our Festival — a sentiment that inspires the global dialogue rippling throughout the selections revealed today.”
For more about films announced this morning, read another story by John here or go to Tiff.net/the festival once today's web traffic slows down.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Clint Eastwood enjoys his time with -- and in -- 'Jersey Boys'

Why would an Oscar-winning screen legend such as Clint Eastwood agree to direct "Jersey Boys," the new movie based on the Tony-winning musical about The Four Seasons and their million-selling ways?
 Because he wanted to. It's really as simple as that. "It seemed like something to do," Eastwood said during a New York press conference conducted, not so ironically, a few hours before he handed out a directing statuette during the telecast of this year's Tony Awards.
Clint Eastwood still looks good behind or in front of a movie camera.
"It's funny," Eastwood continued, "because I hadn't seen the play, but I'd heard a lot about it over the years. When somebody asked if I'd be interested, I was sent a script, which came from a very good writer, but not the one associated with the play.
"When I found that out, I asked where I could find that one. I mean, only in Hollywood would someone give you a script on something else when they already had one that was a hit. When I finally read it, I went to see three different versions of the play -- in New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas -- and saw all these wonderful actors and just thought what a nice project to be doing."
Of course, it helped that well-known jazz aficionado Eastwood liked the pop sound he heard as well.
 "I met (lead singer) Frankie Valli a number of times over the years, and I always liked the Four Seasons a lot," Eastwood explained. "I thought their music was far superior, and I think 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' was one of the real classic songs of that era and would have been one of the classics of any era, the '40s, '50s, or any time in history. Their music is very energetic and great fun."
So is much of the 33rd feature film behind the camera for Eastwood, who also appears in cameo on a TV screen in what he calls "my Hitchcock moment."
It's a brief glimpse of handsome young Clint from "Rawhide," the CBS western that, not only brought Eastwood the first real notoriety of his lengthy career, but here adds a clever nod to how he was actually an entertainment peer of the subjects in his latest film.
"We're probably talking 1959 or 1960 there," he recalled. "'Rawhide' (which ran 1959-1965) was my first break after doing bit roles and unappealing parts, and it was six years of good learning."
Is there any doubt that the 84-year-old actor/director/producer/composer learned his lessons extremely well? 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

'True Detective' creator beckons Davidson after 'The Signal'

Tyler Davidson, the suburban-Cleveland-based producer who has opened films at the
prestigious Sundance Film Festival four years in a row, is now headed to "Galveston" -- sort of.
Seriously, with his latest film, "The Signal," just opening wide on Friday, Davidson already
has signed on to co-produce the novel-based "Galveston," and it all sounds like a big deal for
a couple reasons.
Tyler Davidson (left) with "The Signal" director /writer William Eubank
Most importantly, "Galveston" will be the first feature film project from Nick Pizzolatto, creator, writer and executive producer of HBO's wildly successful "True Detective." However, there's an extra added attraction that finds Davidson working with legendary TV/theater/film producer Jean Doumanian, whose lengthy resume includes "Saturday Night Live" and seven Woody Allen movies.
"I feel pretty fortunate," Davidson admitted two days ago during a telephone interview. "Before I 
knew about ("Galveston"), I was a huge fan of  'True Detective.'  Then I had an agent friend send me the script, which had been acquired by some New York-based producers (Doumanian and Patrick Daly), and they were looking for a partner, somebody who had the kind of experience I have with films that are in this general budget range and where I can bring the financing to it."
Davidson's own portfolio shows off movies such as "Swedish Auto," as well the three indie hits that preceded "The Signal" at Sundance: "Take Shelter," "Compliance" and last year's "The Kings of Summer."  Obviously, his Low Sparks Films company is very ready to take the trip to "Galveston."   
"I jumped on it," he said with a slight laugh. "I had a number of meetings in New York with the producers, the director (Janus Metz Pedersen) and a nice call with Nic Pizzolatto himself, and it just seemed like a great fit.
"Honestly," Davidson continued, "I fell in love with the script first and foremost. I hadn't read Nick's own novel on which it was based, so I was just going from his adaptation as a screenplay and thought it was an electrifying piece. 
"It takes place in the South, and it's got that great mix of characters that 'True Detective' has. I think fans
of the series are going to be happy with this movie."
Although filming won't start until Oct. 1,  Davidson said "'Galveston" already is in what he calls "soft pre-production."
 As for Doumanian, it sounds as if the two producers are hitting if off quite nicely, thank you.
"When you don't have unlimited financial resources for these budgets, the one ally that you have to take advantage of is time," Davidson said. "We have a few months now to really lay the groundwork and that's what we're trying to do.
"Of course, it's really exciting to be working with Jean. To me, she's one of these iconic New York producers who has done so many cool projects and already has been a tremendous partner. We joked earlier today, in fact, that we should have long-range walkie-talkies because we've been speaking so much lately.
"You know that everyone is gauging the chemistry when you have those first meetings to discuss the production plan, the financing plan and to see if the partnership is going to be a fit. Everyone is paying close attention, but we just hit it off right away and immediately felt as if we were meant to be partners."
As for his current offering, "The Signal," Davidson naturally is hoping that the movie's reception nationally is on par with the reaction it got at Sundance last January.
"Sundance is as good as it gets as far as a film festival in this country and, having gone there now with films the last four years, you might think that some of the luster has worn off, but I can assure you that's not that case," said the Chagrin Falls-raised producer who currently calls South Russell, Ohio home.
"It's just as exciting every time I go because I recognize how difficult it is to get in each and every time and, of course, it boasts the best audiences in the world. You can't have a better launch for the film; the energy is incredible.
 " 'The Signal' was received tremendously well when we played in a section of Sundance called 'Park City at Midnight.' It's focused on genre films, so a sci-fi thriller was a perfect fit. We were playing to audiences that were really geared up for this type of film and they just absolutely loved it. We had really great, high-energy screenings and some terrific reactions."
Since watching how the good-looking tale from writer/director William Eubank (2011 festival favorite "Love") unfolds is part of the fun, we won't give away any pertinent details here. Let's just say that a trio of up-and-coming actors -- Brenton Thwaites ("Maleficent" and late summer's "The Giver"), Olivia Cooke ("Bates Motel," "The Quiet Ones") and Beau Knapp ("No One Lives" and next year's"Ant-Man") -- are joined by distinguished and distinctive vet Laurence Fishburne in a fresh film that mixes a couple of genres into an often surprising one. Northeast Ohio locals also will enjoy some scenes filmed in various area locations, particularly during the first act of a film mostly shot in New Mexico.
"I always have interest in any film that has a screenplay that I fall in love with and a director who I want to work with," Davidson said about Eubanks and his "Signal" story. "I certainly don't immediately think about what the budget limitations are or the budget range of these movies.
"What I will also say," he concluded, "is that I love being an independent filmmaker. You can make these films for $100,000 or $30 million, but I love being  involved in the creative process, I love not having a studio over my shoulder, and I love the freedom of working with our team to make the best film we possibly can. That's what I'm married to."
By the way, Davidson was calling from Virginia, where he was driving home from his Q&A session after a special screening of "The Signal" in Winchester, where the family of his real wife (Lyon) resides.  
Read more about Davidson and his latest film here, then check out John M. Urbancich's Critic's Choice ratings on recent releases here.)