MCN Originals

20 Weeks To Oscar: The Host & The Show

Taking a little air out of the balloon is always a pleasure. But when you become self-mocking, the brand is being damaged… at least when the brand is the 800-pound gorilla in the category. And Oscar is that.

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DVD Geek: Hail, Caesar!; House Of Cards; It Came From Outer Space; Independence Day: Resurgence

With Hail, Caesar!, Joel and Ethan Coen again prove that the Bros. do not make normal movies.

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The Weekend Report

Moana continued to hold top spot among moviegoers with an estimated weekend gross of $28 million. The seasonal tradition of audiences giving priority for holiday preparation has translated into low box office in early December for as long as anyone can remember. This year was no exception and the sole national release for the frame – the bargain-budget Exorcist-inspired Incarnate – struggling for a top 10 spot with a $2.6 million box office.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

It’s one of Hollywood’s least favorite weekends, the first weekend of December. The only new wide release is from a little-known independent. The bright light is Fox Searchlight’s Jackie, which is on five screens, averaging $18k on Friday alone, suggesting a weekend per-screen of over $50,000 per.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Directing, Animated, Screenplay

This week, in a vote taken before the critics groups weighed in on Thursday, the Gurus take on Director, Animated Feature and the two Screenplay categories, in addition to the BP Top 10.

If there are any surprises, it is The Gurus’ unwillingness to take movies set in the 1960s very seriously or that the Top 5 Directors right now are all American.

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The DVD Wrapup: BFG, Pete’s Dragon, Baked in Brooklyn, Weng Weng, T.A.M.I./T.N.T. and more

With great numbers already recorded for Disney’s Moana, it’s difficult to look back at the last two years and imagine studio executives not being completely thrilled about what they’ve accomplished. Several releases have exceeded or threatened to hit the billion-dollar barrier and critical response has generally been friendly, even for those titles with lower financial expectations.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Beginning Is The End

You know it’s already over, right?

No, I’m not saying we know who is going to win Oscars this year. We don’t. But we know who is realistically in the running, and who is not.

To use a sports metaphor, we are in the playoffs. But teams still have to play the games.

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DVD Geek: Valley of the Dolls, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Vamp

There is bad, and then there is really bad. Valley of the Dolls is a bad movie. The histrionics of the characters pass for drama, while simplified progressions of successes and failures, both in careers and in romance, pass for narrative. But the plot is coherent, and the acting, although pushing the edges of sensibility, is valid. Dolls is appealing as high camp, with its most indulgent performances and importune dialog being accepted after the fact as a comical alternative to the real world, especially because of its show business milieu.

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The Weekend Report

The box office went unseasonal as Moana ascended to the top of the charts with an estimated $55.6 million debut for the three-day portion of the Thanksgiving holiday frame. Three other wide releases made the turkey trot debut with OK response for the Second World War era espionage thriller Allied that grossed $12.7 million. However, Bad Santa 2 had a paucity of Christmas cheer with a $6 million bow and the Howard Hughes inspired Rules Don’t Apply was decidedly elusive with a $1.6 million tally.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

A mixed bag on Thanksgiving weekend at the box office. It’s early to get a full read on Moana as its launch outpaces Frozen, but it is a rarity for a big animated movie to open on Thanksgiving weekend. Tea leaves are blurry. Likewise, the question of Doctor Strange remains open, as its 24 days to get to $200 million domestic is right in the middle of the Marvel pack. And Fantastic Beasts is pacing right along with the 2nd and 3rd Potter films so far. Allied opens soft, pacing with Australia, though it would be worth noting that Australia did over $200m worldwide and Allied could well do the same. Arrival is the strong hold of the week. Bad Santa 2 peed on Santa’s leg. Lion and Miss Sloane deliver in exclusive runs.

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Thankful 2016: 20 Years In

This is the 20th Thankful column and I am still grateful for so much. But what a long, strange trip it has been.

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The DVD Wrapup and Gift Guide: One-Eyed Jacks, Hell or High Water, Kubo, Mia Madre, The Land, Holiday Horror, Poldark and much more

Brando delivers a performance so distinctively nuanced –it runs the gamut from bizarre to brilliant – that it’s been indelibly etched into the memories of everyone who’s seen it. Ditto, his delivery of the lines, “Get up you scum-sucking pig! I want you standing when I open you up,” “You may be a one-eyed jack around here, but I’ve seen the other side of your face” and “Get up, you big tub of guts!”

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Gurus o’ Gold: Thanksgiving – Episode 2

In the second charts of the week, The Gurus look at Best Picture and offer their suggestions for what you must see this holiday weekend as well as what unexpected nominations would excite them. Have a wonderful holiday!

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Gurus o’ Gold: Thanksgiving – Episode 1

In this first of two pre-Thanksgiving Gurus outings, not a lot of change in Picture and the Supporting acting categories. The only real mover in Picture is… Arrival.

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The Weekend Report

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them wasn’t just Pottering around, with an estimated $74.3 million debut way ahead of the pack. The session’s other new wide openers sputtered, as The Edge of Seventeen enrolled at seventh with $4.6 million and inspirational boxing saga Bleed for This only punched $2.3 million. The expansion of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk crawled to $933,000.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Unexpectedly, Fantastic Beasts seems soft in the perspective of 5-day Harry Potter openings. Still, what may well be a $100m+ opening weekend would be foolish to doubt. The big Friday opening took steam out of the market, especially for family and action. The Edge of Seventeen has been a passion project for STX, but not much of a start. Tough to figure out what else they could have done to get it rolling. Great start for Manchester by the Sea. Solid for Nocturnal Animals.

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The DVD Wrapup: Finding Dory, Jungle Book, Shirley Clarke 4, Better Call Saul, Christmas Stuff and more

The only critical knocks I’ve seen against Finding Dory were prompted by a perceived diminishment, however slight, in Pixar’s trademark gags and a story that bears too much resemblance to the original. Even so, the aggregate score on Metacritic.com stands at a lofty 77 and, last month, the worldwide box-office tally passed the billion-dollar barrier.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Who Directed That Masterpiece?

The election took The Gurus by surprise this week, but they have consulted with The Oscar Deities and are back in the saddle. This week, Best Picture and Best Director.

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The Weekend Report

Doctor Strange continued to cast his spell on the world with the top spot in the domestic arena estimated at $43.4 million. The session saw three new national releases with the alien Arrival slotting in position three with $24.1 million and right behind the urban family comedy Almost Christmas grossing $15.5 million. The haunted house thriller Shut In had a much fainter pulse of $3.7 million.

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Confessions Of A Film Fest Junkie

Over the past fifty years, it’s been tough to program a film festival in Los Angeles. It took Gary Essert years to secure financing and convince the Hollywood establishment that the long-gone FilmEx was benign, not a radical assault to crumble studio walls. That was back in 1971, and his pioneering festival was first significant showcase of international cinema in the City of Angels.

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“It’s incredibly exciting to fabricate a world. I was like, ‘Man, why doesn’t every movie do this?’ You allow yourself the freedom to have every color of the palette make a statement. You allow yourself the freedom to paint buildings whatever color you want. You get to adjust or subvert the reality around you. And I say this as someone whose first films as a student were documentaries. With La La Land, I wanted to get at reality in an indirect way. It’s an emotional portrait of L.A., not a realistic one. And I wanted to push back against the strict reliance on realism, which is one reason why Hollywood doesn’t do musicals anymore. It wasn’t always this way. Just look at the movies of Douglas Sirk or Powell and Pressburger. They always went beyond ordinary realism to get to emotions. They were both mainstream and avant-garde. They were commercial at their core but also balls-out insane.”
~ Damien Chazelle On The Look Of La La Land

Fey: How are we going to proceed with any kind of dignity in an increasingly ugly world? And I actually was thinking — because I’ve got to write something for when I get the award — to use Sherry Lansing as an inspiration because she was a lady who worked in a very, very ugly business and always managed to be quite dignified. But in a world where the president makes fun of handicapped people and fat people, how do we proceed with dignity? I want to tell people, “If you do two things this year, watch Idiocracy by Mike Judge and read Leni Riefenstahl’s 800-page autobiography and then call it a year.”
Letterman: Wait a minute. Tell me about Leni Riefenstahl.
Fey: She grew up in Germany. She was in many ways a brilliant pioneer. She pioneered sports photography as we know it. She’s the one who had the idea to dig a trench next to the track for the Olympics and put a camera on a dolly. But she also rolled with the punches and said, “Well, he’s the führer. He’s my president. I’ll make films for him.” She did some terrible, terrible things. And I remember reading 20 years ago, thinking, “This is a real lesson, to be an artist who doesn’t roll with what your leader is doing just because he’s your leader.”
Letterman: My impression of this woman is that she was the sister of Satan.
Fey: She was in many ways. But what she claimed in the book was, “He was the president, so what was I supposed to do?” And I feel a lot of people are going to start rolling that way.
~ Tina Fey And David Letterman Are Anxious