MCN Originals

20 Weeks To Oscar: It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here

There are a lot of theories out there about how to read the tea leaves this season. But for me, the truth is that I have never seen anything quite like it.

PGA and SAG, Birdman. Globes, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel. LAFCA and NYFCC, Boyhood. Coming up in short order… DGA, BAFTA, WGA.

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Sundance 2015 Review: The Second Mother

The intelligent, sometimes biting social commentary woven throughout the film is somewhat reminiscent of Lucretia Martel’s 2008 Cannes entry The Headless Woman, but where that film relied on ethereal cinematography and wove its social commentary enigmatically and almost abstractly, The Second Mother tackles similar issues of class division and human dignity primarily through humor and studies in contrast: Val’s unquestioning acceptance of the social construct versus her smart, modern daughter’s questioning of “the way things are.”

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The Weekend Report

American Sniper continued to hold sway at the box office with an estimated weekend gross of $63.9 million. Trailing in second place was the debut of the sexual suspenser The Boy Next Door with $15 million. Two other titles opened nationally to close to D.O.A. results. The not so madcap comedy Mordecai bowed with $4.1 million and the not terribly animated Strange Music (“from the mind of George Lucas”) eked out $5.5 million.

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Sundance Review: The Witch

The most effective horror films have a sense of dread that never really goes away, constantly pushing the needle and raising the stakes. There needn’t be cheap jump scares every minute or two to create something tense if everything else in the production is unsettling.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

American Sniper dropped a little bit more than some projections expected, but will still have a remarkable second weekend and will be in range of $200 million by weekend’s end (a little under or over). The much-abused The Boy Next Door will do a little less than last weekend’s The Wedding Ringer, which is off 53% Friday-to-Friday. And in carwreck mode are both Johnny “Time For A New Schtick” Depp’s Mortdecai and George Lucas’ Lucasfilm swan song, Strange Magic.

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Sundance Review: THE BRONZE

It was unreasonable to expect the opening night U. S. Dramatic film would play as well as 2014′s electric Whiplash for a curtain-raiser to Sundance.

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The DVD Wrapup: Boxtrolls, Lucy, Zero Theorem, Rudderless, Maddin, Sturges, Rohmer, Narwhals and more

Of all the branches of the Motion Picture Academy, it’s the ones representing animated films and documentaries that routinely produce the greatest howlers on the day nominations are announced. It’s not even close. In a year when The LEGO Movie and Life Itself could have just as easily rounded out the Best Picture category at 10 nominees – the full academy dissed audiences and filmmakers worldwide by limiting itself to eight finalists – the elimination of those fine films by their respective branches gave viewers two very good reasons to skip this year’s ceremony. I mean, why reward incompetency and elitism with Nielsen ratings? This isn’t to imply that the movies that did make the cut weren’t worthy of being invited to the party, just that whomever wins the Oscar in those categories will, like Roger Maris, forever have to live with an asterisk next to their names. The five films nominated as this year’s Best Animated Feature are excellent entertainments, if not the critical and commercial success that “LEGO” became, and all will have entered the Blu-ray market by March 17. So, you be the judge.

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Gurus o’ Gold: A Week After Nominations… Any Changes?

The Gurus update their Best Picture picks and answer this question: Has the leader in any of the other categories changed, in your view, over the last week?

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Ragin’

I don’t know that I have seen anything like this before. It’s kind of about Oscar season. It’s mostly not. But Oscar has yelled “pull” and now everyone is shooting at the clay pigeons. And the bullets are flying from every direction.

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Six Films To Watch At Sundance

Attending Sundance this year means personally jumping through a lot of difficult hoops to make it happen, but this festival is becoming legendary—2014’s iteration eclipsed both Cannes and TIFF combined—and I simply couldn’t skip this year.

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The Weekend Report (4-day numbers)

American Sniper is the big story at the box office, the #1 drama opening in movie history. Paddington and The Wedding Ringer each had $24m-$25m four-day openings. And The Imitation Game cracked $50 million.

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The Weekend Report (3-Day)

The national release of American Sniper was better than a bullseye with a record-breaking estimate of $89.3 million (all figures reflect 3-day box office) that represented roughly 45% of session box office. The Martin Luther King holiday frame saw three other national releases including strong returns of $20.9 million for the urban comedy The Wedding Ringer and $19 million for the beloved kid-lit bear Paddington. Conversely there was little threat from the hack attack Blackhat , which bowed to $4 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Clint’s bullseye: a $30 million opening day; Kevin Hart comes up relatively short at $6.9 million; Paddington‘s accepted by a new society at $4.6 million, while Liam Neeson’s Taken another $4.3 million for a cume of $53.1 million. Selma hits $20 million while Blackhat deciphers only $1.8 million at eighth.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Nomination Day (1 of 2)

The Gurus have voted on the slotting of 22 categories (no shorts yet) after today’s nominations. And if you listen to the Gurus today, 14 of those awards will be split pretty evenly between Boyhood, Birdman, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Most Shocking Event Of The Week!!!!

The Answers

Clint Eastwood.
Bradley Cooper.
Alexandre Desplat.
Foxcatcher.
The LEGO Movie.
Life Itself.

The Question…

What are six Oscar occurrences today that are legitimately more surprising than Selma “only” getting a Best Picture nod?

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The DVD Wrapup: The Skin, Men Women & Children, Petra Von Kant, Jewel in Crown and more

Blessed with terrific performances by Lancaster, Mastroianni and Cardinale, The Skin describes the carnage of war from the sanitized point of view to which we’re accustomed. It’s certainly not for everyone, however. Even some WWII completists will find it shocking.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: Screenermania!

An industry in which a $2.4 million buy-in ($900,000 before you are nominated for anything) just for DVDs—before ads, books, promo items, appearance costs, etc,—to be considered “serious” about receiving awards is a problem.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Trouble With Endings (spoilers)

This piece deals with the end of three Oscar Best Picture candidates, reveling the ending of American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and Unbroken. DO NOT PROCEED is you haven’t seen the films or do not want to know the endings… you have been warned!

SPOILER ALERT!!!

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20 Weeks To Oscar: SNUB!

A snub is a smile turned upside down. That’s the First thing that always hits me when people scream, “SNUB!.” In order for some potential nominee who didn’t get nominated to be snubbed, someone who did get nominated has to have been undeserving in the eyes of the screamer(s). Second thing I think of is…

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Gurus o’ Gold: One Last Guess Before Nominations

The Gurus are back for one more round before nominations are announced on Thursday morning. The last slots for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay are the most contentious slots for The Gurus. And Grand Budapest Hotel moves up slightly while Selma moves down slightly.

Look for the Gurus rankings of all the categories (other than shorts) on Thursday afternoon.

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MCN Originals

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“Almodóvar–the first name is almost unnecessary–is a genius, is a flower, is a guiding light: the last, best son of Buñuel and so much more than that. His screenplays, which he directs with passion and fine care, have taught us about the exteriors of his native land and the interiors of our own hearts. From the early, manic experimental Super-8 work to the breakthrough Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, his titles are as evocative as most people’s screenplays. Yet for all their antic energy, Almodóvar’s films are deeply spiritual: watching his disturbing, mysterious, heart-rending Talk to Her is to understand, perhaps for the first time, the full meaning of grace. An Almodóvar screenplay is a running leap off a Gaudi balcony, it flips, soars, ascends, careens, tumbles, falls – always landing, astonishingly and astonished, on its feet.”
~ Howard A. Rodman, Announcing Almodóvar’s Jean Renoir Award

“I got a feeling I am going to win in the long run, but I want to be part of the zeitgeist, too. I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself. I don’t really have an ego. I’m not that bothered. I just want the whole thing to be good. And I’m not saying one bad thing about the guys who were with me in the bands, because they’re all amazing and creative, and they’re doing incredible things now. But I come from a generation where that was the only way to get things done. So I have to play stupid and just do everything with five times the amount of energy, and then it will come through.”
~ Björk to Jessica Hopper at Pitchfork