Tag Archive | "Jeff Bridges"

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New Releases: August 15, 2014

Posted on 15 August 2014 by William Gatevackes

lets-be-cops-poster1. Let’s Be Cops (Opened Wednesday, Fox, 3,094 Theaters, 104 Theaters, Rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use): Does this film really benefit from a Wednesday release? It’s not a holiday weekend, and even if it is, this is a dumb comedy. The two extra days of grosses aren’t going to do you that much good against the summer blockbusters, especially when reviews are as bad as this one got.

Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) are two guys who make the mistake of wearing their police officer Halloween costumes out in public after a costume party. The uniforms give the pair a respect they do not usually get, so they take to wearing them all the time. Unfortunately, their fake crimebusting goes awry when they run afoul of some real mobsters.

The film opened to a $5.2 million on Wednesday, which is good, but we’ll see how it does when the films below hit.

expendables 3 poster2. The Expendables 3 (Lionsgate, 3,221 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language):
What began as a celebration of the action film from the 80s to today has now become even more of a reclamation project for stars that Sylvester Stallone has worked with (Wesley Snipes) and ones he didn’t (Mel Gibson).

The film is something of a generation gap movie, as Stallone’s character, Barney Ross, hires younger mercenaries to replace his older comrades. When a mission goes bad, the new Expendables have to  join up with the old Expendables in order to save the day.

A lot of fuss was made over this film getting edited for a PG-13 film, as it in and of itself is a betrayal of the films action movie roots. However, if this is Stallone’s last go around in the franchise, perhaps he wants to go out with the the biggest box office of the trilogy.

giver poster3. The Giver (The Weinstein Company, 3,003 Theaters, 94 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence): Adapting Lois Lowry’s 1993 book has been a pet project for Jeff Bridges for a long time. How long? He originally wanted his father Lloyd, who died in 1998, to play the titular role, an elderly man who passes forbidden knowledge down to the next generation. Who plays the role now? You guessed it, Jeff Bridges.

Although the delay might work out in Bridges’ favor. Dystopian tales featuring young protagonists are in right now. Of course, not all young adult novelizations do well at the box office, so that will have to be taken into effect.

The story deals with an ideal society built around sameness, where a council of elders decides everything for their constituents. One teenager, named Jonas,  is chosen to become the “Receiver of Memory,” the store of all knowledge that happened before the council took over which is preserved in the event any of it becomes necessary to the community. However, when Jonas receives the memories, he realizes just what his society did and continues to do to keep an ideal world.

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Posted on 01 August 2014 by William Gatevackes

In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we cover the event that changed the world of films forever–the formation of Marvel Studios.

MarvelStudiosLogoIn 2004, films based on Marvel Comics characters were lighting up the box office. Once a laughing stock in Hollywood, where if a Marvel film actually got made it it was a flop, the Marvel characters became cinematic gold. However, through the deal Marvel made to get its characters on the screen, they did not have complete control of the films being made, only got a sliver of the profits and were at the whim of other studios as to when the films were scheduled. Marvel decided that it was time to take more control of its cinematic output.

MarvelCharactersMarvel brokered a loan with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. for $525 million dollars with the rights to ten movies as collateral. Today, this deal looks like a can’t miss proposition. But back then, it was incredibly risky. The main reason why it was so risky can be seen in the ten properties Marvel used as collateral/intended to make films out of. The biggest name of the ten was Captain America. The rest of the list were filled by B-list characters such as Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi. The tenth concept was The Avengers, Marvel’s supergroup which likely would bear very little resemblance to comic book version of the team.

Why? Because at the time the loan was taken out, the rights a majority of Marvel’s most popular characters, including many longtime members of the comic book Avengers, were owned by other studios. Fox owned the rights to the X-Men and Marvel’s mutant characters, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil. Sony/Columbia owned Spider-Man, Ghost Rider and Thor. New Line held the rights to Blade and Iron Man, Lionsgate the rights to the Punisher and Black Widow and Universal the rights to the Hulk. And the nature of these rights agreements, signed by a Marvel that was desperate to see its characters in movies, was that the studios would hold the rights as long as they kept making films with the characters, unless they were willing to give up the rights or sell them back to Marvel.  This left Marvel with a catalog of little known characters and the prospect of and Avengers film that would not feature founding members Hulk, Iron Man or Thor.

Perhaps Marvel knew something the world didn’t, as the film rights to some of their characters started coming back to them. They got Iron Man back in 2005, Hulk and Thor in 2006, and Black Widow sometime after. While these weren’t Spider-Man or the X-Men, characters that might never revert back to Marvel Studios, they were characters that were more known by the general public than Hawkeye or Shang-Chi.

Marvel knew this and almost immediately put Iron Man into production. The film would be the first released through Marvel Studios’ distribution agreement with Paramount Pictures.

ironman-posterNot that Iron Man was a slam dunk option. The property had spent 16 years in development hell before Marvel got the rights back, being dumped from Universal to Fox to New Line in the process. Directors ranging from Stuart Gordon to Nick Cassavetes had been attached to the project, but no one could seem to capture the essence of the character. However, this all changed when Marvel got its hands on it.

The formula Marvel used to become a cinematic juggernaut is on display from the very beginning. It picked Jon Favreau for a director, whose limited resume at the time had fans complaining about the selection. For Tony Stark, a role that had caught the eye of such highly-paid luminaries as Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise, Favreau hired Robert Downey Jr., an Oscar-nominated actor who was in the midst of climbing out of the deep hole his noted drug abuse had left his career in. Before the film came out, these seemed like incredibly risky choices. After the film came out, they were seen as strokes of brilliance.

The film also establish the trend of casting actors with Oscar-pedigrees in supporting roles, in this case Jeff Bridges as villain Obidiah Stane, Terrence Howard as best friend James Rhodes, and Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow as assistant/love interest Pepper Potts.  It also established that while Marvel would be making changes to the source material to make a better film, it would keep the tone of the work intact.

ironmanThe film features arms developer Tony Stark in Afghanistan, demonstrating a new weapon he designed. Things take a turn for the worse when his caravan is attacked and he is kidnapped. In the attack, a piece of shrapnel is lodged close to his heart, and he has to design a reactor to keep it in place. This reactor, which he wears on his chest, also comes in handy when he needs to build a suit of armor to escape his captors.

Stark returns home a changed man. He decides to move his company away from building weapons of war while he continues to refine his armor to use as a weapon of peace. But doing away with weapons manufacturing does not sit well with  Stark’s mentor and partner, Obidiah Stane, especially since he was illegally selling arms to terrorist organizations around the world. Stane decides to build an armor of his own and confront Tony in order to finish the job the terrorists started.

The film also started another trend in comic book films–the post-credits button scene. Iron Man ended with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) telling Tony Stark about an “Avengers Initiative.” Regular audiences were intrigued and comic fans swooned.

The film was an enormous success, both critically and financially. It made $585 million worldwide against an $140 million budget, allowing Marvel to pay back a big chunk of that loan almost immediately. It also set the world on notice–Marvel Studios would be a force to be reckoned with.

incredible hulk posterThe next Marvel hero to get the Marvel Studios treatment was Hulk. Marvel got the rights for the character back after Universal missed the deadline to put a sequel to Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk film into production. Universal would still retain the distribution rights to the film, but the movie would become the second Marvel Studios production.

While Hulk made a profit of about $107 million, Ang Lee’s artistic choices did not sit well certain fans or Marvel executives. So Marvel decided to take the risky choice of doing a reboot of a film that had just released only five years prior.

Actually, The Incredible Hulk was less a pure reboot than an ipso facto sequel to the popular 1970’s TV series, with tone and plot elements similar to that work. The film also could work as a soft reboot/sequel, as the character is in hiding in a foreign land at the start of the film, which was where the character was at at the end of Ang Lee film. That is, if you were eilling to ignore the changes made to the origin to fit with Marvel’s shared universe.

Louis Leterrier stepped into direct and Edward Norton signed on to replace Eric Bana as Bruce Banner as well as take a pass on Zak Penn’s screenplay (this will become more important later on). Once again, Marvel looked to the list of Oscar winners and nominees to fill their supporting roles, casting Oscar nominee Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination and Oscar winner William Hurt replacing Sam Elliot as General Ross.

NortonHulkHeader1The film tells that Bruce Banner was experimenting with gamma radiation in order to replicate the experiment that gave Captain America his powers during World War II (an easter egg later deleted from the film showed the Hulk passing by a block of ice in Antarctica that looked like it had Cap in it). Unfortunately, an accident exposes Banner to a great deal of radiation, cursing him to become a large green behemoth every time his heart rate goes up. Banner goes on the run to try and find a cure for his condition, while General Ross chases after him to bring him back as he considers the Hulk to be government property.

Robert Downey Jr. turns up in the tag scene as Tony Stark, informing General Ross about the Avengers initiative, thereby officially creating the shared universe the Marvel films reside in.

The film was more of a conventional comic book film than Hulk–no split screens, no exploration of daddy issues–and was obviously intended to lead to a sequel. However it became the only Marvel film in release not to have one. The film was just about as much of a success as the 2003 version, and sequels were talked about, but none came from it as of yet.

Part of this was might be due Norton’s insistence on being involved in the writing. Norton was replaced in the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers by Mark Ruffalo, and Norton’s wanting a hand in the creative side of the film was rumored to be the reason. However, Norton had company as being an actor that was replaced by Marvel.

IronMan2PosterIron Man 2 introduced James Rhodes’ alter ego War Machine into the films, but it was Don Cheadle, not Terrence Howard donning the armor. Marvel parted ways with Howard in October of 2008. Howard said in a 2013 interview, still stinging from the dismissal five years later, that Marvel came to him to force him to reduce his salary. Howard was the first person signed for the film, and therefore received the highest salary. He balked at the idea of a pay cut, so Marvel got someone else to play Jim Rhodes.

Howard blamed his ouster on a cash grab by Downey Jr. (“It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to […] re-up for the second one took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out,”he said in the above interview), but other sources claim that Jon Favreau, who reportedly did not like working with Howard, was the “villain” in this piece. But, in the end, Marvel simply replaced one Oscar nominee with another, with Cheadle providing more in the role than I think Howard would, in my opinion.

Cheadle was not the only new face in the film, and not the only one who would have a bigger role to play in the cinematic universe.

ironman2blackwidowIn this one, Tony is dealing with the repurcussion of announcing he was Iron Man at the end of the last film, a process made more difficult as he discovers that an element in arc reactor that keeps him alive is killing him. His life is further complicated by Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), the son of a former partner of Tony’s dad who blames the Stark family in his family’s misfortune.

Vanko is aided by Stark’s business rival Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who hopes to eliminate his main competition. Luckily, Tony has some new allies on his side as well, including his buddy Rhodey in a version of Stark’s armor dubbed War Machine and a seductive S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow played by Scarlet Johansson. The tag scene begins what would become the trend in these sort of scenes from then on. It features Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) in the middle of the desert, finding what would be Thor’s hammer. From then on, the tag scene would act as a tease of the next film in the line.

The film didn’t do as well in reviews (although, it had a hard act to follow) but did well enough financially to get a sequel. We’ll talk about that in two installments, but next we wrap up Phase I when Cap and Thor join the party, and The Avengers are finally united.

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New Releases: July 19, 2013

Posted on 18 July 2013 by William Gatevackes

Turbo A6 Notepad.1. Turbo (Opened Wednesday, Fox/ Dreamworks, 3,806 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated PG): So, the summer of CGI animated fare continues with this film, the latest from Dreamworks.

The film centers on a garden snail with the biggest dream of all–to race in the Indianapolis 500. This is hard to do consider it takes him the better part of a day to move across the sidewalk. Luckily, a freak accident occurs and he develops superspeed. His dream has gotten that much closer, but can he grab it in time?

Dreamworks has built up quite a good track record as a quality alternative to Pixar. But there are a lot of CGI animated kiddie flicks coming out. With Planes in the pipeline, logic dictates that one of them has to bomb at the box office. And this is a crowded weekend….

red22. Red 2 (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment, 3,016 Theaters, 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The first of two comic book themed films opening this weekend. I don’t know if that is a sign of the comic book film’s health, the high point that comes before the inevitable fall, or just savvy marketing for the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con.

The first Red was based on a Wildstorm comic book written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Cully Hamner. That series never got a sequel, but the film did. This one reunited the Retired, Extremely Dangerous team who must clear their name and find a missing nuclear device in Russia.

I do like how this series is shaping up to be a high-rent Expendables. I mean, this film loses an Oscar Winner (Morgan Freeman) from the last one but picks up two more (Anthony Hopkins & Catherine Zeta-Jones). I wish more action films had that pedigree.

And yes, I know that Mary-Louise Parker is the fourth-billed cast member. But I was having a hard time finding a poster that worked on the site and it’s Mary-Louise Parker. Get over it!

the-conjuring3. The Conjuring (Warner Brothers, 2,903 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R): If every true story actually resembled the film based on it, I’d say the population of the world would be halved and fear of a nuclear Armageddon would take a backseat to fear of what is in the barn in the back of the house.

And it’s what’s in that barn that troubles the team of paranormal investigators (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson). Based on the case files from the 1970’s of a real pair of parapsychologists, the husband and wife duo investigate a haunting in a barn. What they find is an entity so evil and so powerful that they might finally have met their match.

The film reunites Wilson with his Insidious director James Wan, and has been getting a fair amount of buzz. And it is rated are as all good horror films should be. Maybe the fact that it provides a different form of entertainment than what is already in theaters will make it a success?

RIPD-poster24. R.I.P.D. (Universal, 2,852 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated Pg-13): Okay, I just realized something. Mary-Louise Parker has a role in both the comic book films released this weekend. It’s like the fates got together and created a film weekend just for me!

This film has gotten tagged due to its similarities with Men in Black. While I called Pacific Rim being compared with Transformers unfair, this time the comparison is valid.

Both films were adapted from obscure comics published by independent publishers (Although Dark Horse is much bigger than Aircel). Both feature a cocky, street wise cop (Ryan Reynolds in the Will Smith role), who discovers a hidden crime-fighting organization with a predominantly white color scheme. He is partnered with an older partner played by an Oscar-winning actor (Jeff Bridges instead of Tommy Lee Jones) to patrol the Earth and keep it safe from unearthly menaces with powers greater than the human.

Of course, instead being cops who use alien technology to hunt aliens, they are dead cops who hunt spirits and other undead things.

The film still seems like a hoot, but it is the low film on the totem pole in a very crowded week. I see it getting lost in the shuffle.

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And The Oscars Go To…

Posted on 08 March 2010 by Rich Drees

Katherine Bigelow became the first woman in the 82 year history of the Academy Awards last night earning the Best Director award, winning for her Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker. It was the culmination of an evening of dominance for the film, which won a total of six awards in the nine categories it was nominated in. In addition to Best Director, The Hurt Locker also won Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

With its six wins, The Hurt Locker effectively shut out director James Cameron’s science-fiction blockbuster Avatar, which had also received nine nominations including Best Director and Picture. However, it would only win awards for Best Cinematography and Visual Effects. Many Oscar watchers were of the opinion that Avatar would beat out Hurt Locker for Best Picture on the strength of the technical achievements Cameron developed in order to make the film.

But outside of the Avatar shutout, the evening contained very few surprises. The awards show started off with Christoph Waltz winning Best Supporting Actor for his work as a cunning Nazi officer in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. It would be that film’s only win despite eight nominations including Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. Frontrunners Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock and Mo’Nique all won their respective acting categories as well.

The complete list of winners is as follows –
Actor in a Leading Role – Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
Actor in a Supporting Role – Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Actress in a Leading Role – Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Actress in a Supporting Role – Mo’Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
Animated Feature Film – Up – Pete Docter
Art Direction – Avatar – Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
Cinematography – Avatar – Mauro Fiore
Costume Design – The Young Victoria – Sandy Powell
Directing – The Hurt Locker – Kathryn Bigelow
Documentary (Feature) – The Cove – Nominees to be determined
Documentary (Short Subject) – Music by Prudence – Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
Film Editing – The Hurt Locker – Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
Foreign Language Film – El Secreto de Sus Ojos – Argentina
Makeup – Star Trek – Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
Music (Original Score) – Up – Michael Giacchino
Music (Original Song) – “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from Crazy Heart, Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Best Picture – The Hurt Locker
Short Film (Animated) – Logorama – Nicolas Schmerkin
Short Film (Live Action) – The New Tenants – Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson
Sound Editing – The Hurt Locker – Paul N.J. Ottosson
Sound Mixing – The Hurt Locker – Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
Visual Effects – Avatar – Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire – Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Writing (Original Screenplay) – The Hurt Locker – Written by Mark Boal

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New Releases: February 5

Posted on 04 February 2010 by Rich Drees

1. Dear John (Sony/Screen Gems, 2,969 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The words “From the people who brought you The Notebook“ should be all this film needs to succeed. That film is unusually popular for some reason. And this one appears to be the same kind of sappy romance.

It was adapted from a novel by Nicholas Sparks, the same novelist that wrote the novel, The Notebook, but this film is not directed by Nick Cassavetes, but by Lasse Hallstrom. Which is a bit shocking.

With films such as My Life as a Dog, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, and Chocolat on his resume, one would expect that his career would follow along an Oscar worthy path. His doing such a soapy romance seem like a major step down. He will probably earn more money doing these kinds of films, but still. 

What’s the film about? A soldier falls in love with a girl while home on leave.

2. From Paris With Love (Lionsgate, 2,722 Theaters, 92 Minutes, Rated R):It seems like John Travolta has become comfortable that his comeback will stick. The last couple roles of his feature him instead of acting developing a weird hairstyle, chewing scenery left and right, and basically phoning it in other wise. The Taking of the Pelham 1 2 3 fits this bill, Old Dogs featured him with a relatively normal hairstyle but basically cashing a paycheck and then you have this one, where he looks like a freak.

Of course, he’s playing an FBI agent trying to stop a terrorist attack in Paris, so the look doesn’t really match up with the job. But, hey, whatever gets him paid I guess is okay with him.

If Travolta somehow tried not to have his physical appearance do the acting for him, this film looked like it had the potential to be a fun shoot ’em up like, well, Shoot ‘Em Up. But, as it is, Travolta’s style and recent film choices make me very wary.

3. Crazy Heart (Fox Searchlight, 819 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R): The week after the Oscar nominations is when the smaller films that received some nominations start rolling out to larger releases. This film received three nominations, including one for Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The other nomination was for Best Original Song.

Bridges plays a country singer battling with a number of demons. Gyllenhaal plays a journalist who inspires him to fight these demons.

Bridges, a five-time Oscar nominee, is the early favorite to walk away with a statue on Oscar night. If you want to see why, go see this one if it opens near you. 

4. An Education (Sony Classics, 760 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This film shares more in common with Crazy Heart than being a film nominated for three Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress for Carey Mulligan, and Best  Adapted  Screenplay) to open wide this week. It also stars Peter Sarsgaard, who is married to Crazy Heart‘s Maggie Gyllenhaal. Small world, huh?

The film is based on the memoir of journalist Lynn Barber a details the adventures of young British girl in pursuit of the dream of an Oxford education. Her world is turned upside down with the arrival of David Goldman, a slick playboy who is quite a bit older than she is. Their casual acquaintance soon turns to love and then turns to the prospect of marriage. Has she thrown her dreams of an education away for a new set of dreams? Or is everything not what they seem?

All the reviews rave about the screenplay (by Nick Hornsby) and Mulligan’s performance, so both nominations seem worthy. Check the film out and see if you agree.

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First Official Look At Bridges In TRON: LEGACY

Posted on 04 February 2010 by Rich Drees

If you don’t understand how incredibly awesome it is that they are currently working in a sequel to 1982’s TRON, than I must only conclude that there is no joy in your life. You have my pity.

Upon its release, TRON was a revelation and a herald of many thing to come. It was the first feature length film to use computer generated imagery, paving the way for film’s like The Last Starfighter (1984), Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) and other films that helped progress the CGI revolution. Plus, it managed to capture the public’s sense of wonder over the emerging worlds of computers and home video games with its story of a computer hacker (Jeff Bridges) sucked in to a computer network and forced to fight for his life against video game warriors.

Disney has released the first still from the upcoming sequel TRON: Legacy, and it shows Bridges back inside the cyberscape of the computer network. Interestingly, while he has the same type of disc that he had in the first film on his back, he doesn’t seem to have the whole glowy-circuit look that all the characters sported in 1982. Is this a change in the movie’s design or a plot point? We’ll find out on December 17 when it hits theaters.

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Oscar Nominations Post-Mortem: How Did We Do?

Posted on 02 February 2010 by William Gatevackes

On Friday, we here at FilmBuffOnline handicapped the Oscar race as we saw it. As we all know, the nominations have just been released. How did we do?  Well, let’s find out. And the nominees are…

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
  • George Clooney in Up in the Air
  • Colin Firth in A Single Man
  • Morgan Freeman in Invictus
  • Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 5 out of 5.

Commentary: It wasn’t too hard to get 100% correct when four of the five were gimmies. Morgan Freeman played a real-life inspirational hero, and most years that will be enough to get you the nod.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Matt Damon in Invictus
  • Woody Harrelson in The Messenger
  • Christopher Plummer in The Last Station
  • Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones
  • Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 5 out of 5.

Commentary: Again, with a perfect record, if you count picking Plummer as an outside shot as a prediction. Of course, the “playing a real-life person” factor and the “legend at in the winter of his career” factor was enough to give Christopher Plummer his first Oscar nomination. Conventional wisdom says this statue is Christoph Waltz’s to lose, but I’m getting a feeling that Plummer could spoil, especially if he gets the “here’s a statue for lifetime achievement ” sympathy vote.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
  • Helen Mirren in The Last Station
  • Carey Mulligan in An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 5 of 5.

Commentary: Another clean sweep! This is our best year ever! Up into this category at least!

And I totally don’t believe this story about Sandra Bullock not expecting a phone call telling her she was nominated. She’s the favorite to win the whole thing! Pretending to be humble only works if, well, you need to be.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Penélope Cruz in Nine
  • Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart
  • Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air
  • Mo’Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 4 of 5.

Commentary: The first surprise of the nominations, as Maggie Gyllenhall gets the honor of losing to Mo’Nique on Oscar night. So left fied was this that I picked Mariah Carey over her as a possible candidate. Crazy Heart seemed to be a Jeff Bridges vehicle all along, but I guess the Academy thought Gyllenhaal was worth a nod.


  • Avatar – James Cameron
  • The Hurt Locker– Kathryn Bigelow
  • Inglourious Basterds– Quentin Tarantino
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire – Lee Daniels
  • Up in the Air– Jason Reitman

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 5 of 5.

Commentary: Again, a very predictable category. And , since there are 10 nominees for Best Picture, all five of the director’s films are nominated for Best Picture, avoiding the reoccurring controversy of one of a director being snubbed. Of course, to look at it another way, now there are five directors being snubbed.

Best Picture

  • Avatar – James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  • The Blind Side – Nominees to be determined
  • District 9– Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
  • An Education– Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
  • The Hurt Locker – Nominees to be determined
  • Inglourious Basterds – Lawrence Bender, Producer
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire– Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
  • A Serious Man– Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
  • Up – Jonas Rivera, Producer
  • Up in the Air– Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 10 of 10.

Commentary: 100% correct, even if we thought that The Blind Side, District 9, and A Serious Man were long shots. I’m happy that the Academy gave a nod to the genre flick District 9. I’m very happy that Up got a nods. There would have been a rant if it wasn’t in the list. I think it deserved a spot even if there were only five spaces.

The Blind Side is listed by many as a surprise, but, really, there was enough Oscar buzz around it that I included it as having a chance on my list. What is surprising is that such a poorly received film got a nomination. The film received a 70% positive rating at the movie review aggregatesite, Rotten Tomatoes. That did qualify it as “Fresh,” or recommended, by the site, but was only 11 percentage points away from being classified “Rotten,” or not recommended. Of all the possible candidates I listed on Friday, only Nine scored lower (and abysmal 37% positive rating). All the other films listed scored at least five percentage points higher.

This is indicative of the axiom, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The field was extended to 10 films to put to rest the controversy about good films not getting nominated. But a good number of critically acclaimed films didn’t make the cut, but the treacly, feel-good, factually inaccurate film did. If they keep this up, maybe the Academy should expand the nominees to 20.

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Oscar Nominations: Who Will Make The Cut

Posted on 29 January 2010 by William Gatevackes

It’s that time of year again. This Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

Every year there are snubs and surprises, thrills and controversies. There is no way of knowing who will be nominated, but we here at FilmBuffOnLine, who believe the day nominations are announced should be a National holiday, are going to try and handicap the process for you.

We will try to tell you who we think are Almost Certain to get a nomination, who Definite May Be nominated, and whose nomination is a Outside Shot in the major categories (the four acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture). We are trying to cover all bases, but don’t come to us if you lose money on your Oscar Nomination pool.

Best Actor:

Almost Certain:

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart; George Clooney, Up in the Air; Colin Firth, A Single Man;  Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Definite May Be:

Morgan Freeman, Invictus;

Outside Shot:

Robert Downey Jr, Sherlock Holmes; Matt Damon, The Informant!; Tobey Maguire, Brothers

Four of the five spots should be locked up, as Clooney, Firth, Bridges, and Renner have been nominated for all the other awards this season and have pretty much split up the winnings. Freeman should be nominated, but could also have some backlash headed his way. Downey Jr. won the Golden Globe for comedy acting, and there is some buzz for Damon.

Best Actress:

Almost Certain:

Sandra Bullock, The Blindside; Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire; Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia

Definite May Be:

Helen Mirren, The Last Station; Carey Mulligan, An Education

Outside Shot:

Amy Adams, Julie and Julia; Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria; Ellen Page, Whip It; Hilary Swank, Amelia

Bullock seems to have set off a siren with critics and her fellow actors as per her acting ability. Sidibe’s debut won raves and that should make her a lock for a nomination, Mulligan has won her fair share of awards, but will Oscar nominate two relative unknowns in the same year? The Academy should just make a rule that Streep is automatically nominated whenever she puts a movie out. Julia and Julia seem more Oscar worthy than It’s Complicated. But I wouldn’t be surprised if her co-star from the former gets a nod. Amelia was a poorly received Oscar bait, but the Academy seems to like Swank.

Best Supporting Actor:

Almost Certain:

Christoph Waltz,Inglourious Basterds

Definite May Be:

Matt Damon, Invictus; Woody Harrelson, The Messenger; Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones

Outside Shot:

Ben Foster, The Messenger; Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles; Christopher Plummer, The Last Station

It’s Waltz’s Oscar to lose, so he’s pretty much guaranteed a nomination. Damon, Harrelson and Tucci have received enough acclaim elsewhere that they should be nominated. Plummer has received a number of nominations, but Foster and especially McKay were strong in their roles and could surprise.

Best Supporting Actress:

Almost Certain:

Mo’Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

Definite May Be:

Penelope Cruz, Nine; Vera Fermiga, Up in the Air; Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air; Samantha Morton, The Messenger

Outside Shot:

Mariah Carey, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire; Diane Krueger, Inglourius Basterds; Julianne Moore, A Single Man; Sigourney Weaver, Avatar

Like Supporting Actor, Mo’Nique is enough of a front runner that a nod is a given. However, her performance isn’t the only surprisingly good one in the film, so a nod for Mariah Carey is not outside the realm of possibility. Both women from Up in the Air should be nominated, but Kendrick has the edge if they only choose one. The Academy loves Cruz, so she should get a nomination for a poorly received movie. And I can’t see Avatar not getting one acting nod, and the most likely candidate is Weaver.

Best Director:

Almost Certain:

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker; James Cameron, Avatar; Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Definite May Be:

Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire; Clint Eastwood, Invictus; Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Outside Shot:

Tom Ford, A Single Man; Pete Docter & Bob Petersen, Up

The big three of Bigelow, Cameron (who were once married to each other–keep an eye on each other’s face if the other wins) and Reitman should get nods. Daniels and Tarantino have other nominations to their credit and the Academy loves Eastwood. But Docter and Petersen are more than worthy.

Best Picture:

Almost Certain:

Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, Up in the Air

Definite May Be:

An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Invictus, A Single Man, Up

Outside Shot:

(500) Days of Summer, The Blindside, Crazy Heart, District 9, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hangover, Julie and Julia, The Messenger, Nine, A Serious Man, Star Trek, The Young Victoria

Since this is the first time in decades that more than five films will be nominated for Best Picture, this has become one of the most unpredictable categories. Any film nominated for Best Director should have a good chance at making the ten, but what about sci-blockbusters like Star Trek and District 9? How about comedies like The Hangover? Do poorly received films like Nine and The Blindside have a chance? This all adds up to a test year for the new system and the list of nominees being anybody’s guess.

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Posted on 06 November 2009 by Rich Drees

MenWhoStareAtGoatsPosterSome books are naturals to be adapted into films, while others aren’t. Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare At Goats, which tracks the history of military programs designed to investigate the possibility of paranormal sciences like telekinesis having military applications, unfortunately falls into the latter group. It’s not for a lack of trying however, its just that Grant Heslov’s resulting film is a bit of a scattered mess.

With his marriage falling apart, newspaper man, and book author Ronson-substitute, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) stumbles across what may be the story of the year- That the military had spent years and millions of dollars on an initiative designed to produce soldiers with super powers. Pursuing a lead all the way to the Persian Gulf, he has a chance encounter with Lyn Cassady (George Clooney, sporting a mustache that makes him look like Dennis Farina), who offers to take the journalist into war torn Iraq to supply proof of the top-secret program’s existence.

But this modern day story line is just a skeleton to hang the meatier, more farcical tale of the program’s history, told in flashback by Lyn to Bob as the two make their way across the desert. The program’s roots stretch back to the Vietnam War and one Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), who manages to sell his superiors on the idea that US soldiers could be equipped with a variety of paranormal abilities up to and including the ability to stop a goat’s heart telekinetically. (Just in case we ever go to war with goats, I guess.)

There are plenty laughs to be had at the juxtaposition of Django’s hippy, trippy New Age-y training techniques against the rigidity of traditional military training. And there are the metatextual chuckles to be had at Star Wars prequel star McGregor expressing disbelief in a program designed to create real world “Jedi warriors.” Some of the absurdities are left for the audience to discover. A careful observer will note that the all the members of the doesn’t-officially-exist army unit still have a special unit patch on their uniform.

Men_Who_Stare_At_GoatsWhile Clooney has always been known as a sex symbol and a fine dramatic actor, he works his comedy chops to good effect here. Using the maxim that less is more, he infuses his character with such a sense of belief in his supposed powers that at times we are tempted to believe in them too. But much like his performance in the Ocean’s movies, it is the small things, twitches, line deliveries and reactions, that illicit laughs.

Even at a short 90 minutes, the film does manage to drag a bit at the end when it abandons its flashback structure as Bob and Lyn reach their destination, a military installation being run by another former member of the program played by Kevin Spacey. This is the section where characters are supposed to redeem and redefine themselves, but the film doesn’t quite deliver on this as some of the character arcs are never fully developed to begin with. Unfortunately, it leaves the finale of the film as vague and undefined as the results of the military program it chronicles.

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New Releases: November 6

Posted on 06 November 2009 by William Gatevackes

ChristmasCarolPoster1. A Christmas Carol (Disney, 3,683 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated PG): One has to ask, do we really need another A Christmas Carol adaptation? Even one done in that spooky motion capture animation that Robert Zemeckis has fallen in love with over the past few years?

The story, in case you don’t know, is about an old curmudgeon named Ebenezer Scrooge who doesn’t know the meaning of Christmas. He is visited by three ghosts who show him the error of his ways.

Jim Carrey is doing some heavy lifting in this one. He not only portrays Scrooge at all ages of his life, but he also plays the three ghosts. The rest of the cast, and there are a few roles left over, are filled with some very fine actors such as Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins.

Of course, great cast aside, you’d have to deal with that animation technique which, quite frankly, scares me. I’m not sure why it does, but it does.  Also, while I know department stores have had their Christmas decorations out for weeks now, isn’t it a wee bit too for a Christmas movie? Films have a shorter shelf life than wrapping paper.

BoxPoster2. The Box (Warner Brothers, 2,635 Theaters, 115 minutes, Rated PG-13): Yes, this is a concept that the producers hope will raise a lot of questions with the audience. It raises a lot of questions with me, but not the kind the producers will like.

A couple gets a box with what looks like one of those “Easy” buttons they sell at Staples. A mysterious stranger arrives and says that if they push the button, they’ll get $1 million. But, and here’s the catch, someone they don’t know somewhere in the world will die.

If this sounds like a cheesy Twilight Zone remake, it is. Not the classic Rod Serling version, but the less classic 1980s version. So you know what you’re getting.

What they want you to ask yourself is, “would I do it?” They want you to undergo the same sort of moral turmoil that the character’s in the film face.

My questions are, can this story get any more convoluted? Would you really believe a man who only has half a face who comes to your door from out of nowhere, no matter what he said? And what’s the deal with the taked on “your wife is going to die and you’re going to kill her” part?  That was not in the original story and doesn’t seem to be an addition that would improve this film.  

FourthKindPoster3. The Fourth Kind (Universal, 2,529 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Finally! A sequel to the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind! The one film to revitalize Richard Dreyfuss’ career!

This time the aliens are back and they’re pissed! Do Do Do Do Doooo yourself, losers! There…wait…this is not a sequel? It’s about alien abductions? In Alaska?

Oh. Well. Nevermind!

Is it just me, or do the ads for this movie seem very similar to the ads for Paranormal Activity? Now, the films are coming out too close together for this not to be a coincidence, but still. I wonder how many people who made Paranormal Activity a number one film will do the same for this one.


MenWhoStareAtGoatsPoster4. The Men Who Stare At Goats (Overture Films, 2,443 Theaters, 93 Minutes, Rated R): If I had to go see only on film this week, I’d pick this one. It looks great.

First off, the cast is terrific. The four actors in the poster to the right are some of my favorites of all time. To see George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, and Ewan McGregor work together should be great. And there are a lot of great actors in the supporting cast too.

Also, the story seems too goofy to be believed. It deal with a top secret government project where soldiers with superpowers were trained to be weapons of mass destruction. Clooney plays on of these weapons, whose power seems to be being able to kill goats by staring at them. I don’t know much more than that, but that is far and away enough. 


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