2015 Writer’s Guild America Nominations

Today, the Writer’s Guild of America announced their nominations for high achievement in writing for films during 2014. Many of the same players continued on their gratifying role — The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Gone Girl, Boyhood and Nightcrawler — to name a few. More wonderful news for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. I cannot get enough of that film!!! So well written. Some films were not eligible due to WGA rules and those include — Birdman, The Theory of Everything, Mr. Turner and Selma. That does not necessarily mean they will not receive Academy nominations, most certainly Birdman will be nominated and these silly rules need adjusting. Whiplash also was nominated, in the correct category, for Best Original Screenplay. The Academy has declared the film is an Adapted Screenplay (it will still get nominated) since it is based on writer-director Damien Chazelle’s short film of the same subject. It is an original no matter which way you look at it, being solely from Mr. Chazelle’s mind and creativity. And, I am surprised by the Guardians of the Galaxy nom??? It did make a lot of money and was half way decent…but why not award Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice??? Here is a complete list of Original, Adapted and Documentary writing nominations. Enjoy.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Boyhood, Written by Richard Linklater; IFC Films
  • Foxcatcher, Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman; Sony Pictures Classics
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel, Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness; Fox Searchlight
  • Nightcrawler, Written by Dan Gilroy; Open Road Films
  • Whiplash, Written by Damien Chazelle; Sony Pictures Classics

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • American Sniper, Written by Jason Hall; Based on the book by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice; Warner Bros.
  • Gone Girl, Screenplay by Gillian Flynn; Based on her novel; 20th Century Fox
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman; Based on the Marvel comic by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • The Imitation Game, Written by Graham Moore; Based on the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges; The Weinstein Company
  • Wild, Screenplay by Nick Hornby; Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed; Fox Searchlight

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

  • Finding Vivian Maier, Written by John Maloof & Charlie Siskel; Sundance Selects
  • The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, Written by Brian Knappenberger; FilmBuff
  • Last Days in Vietnam, Written by Mark Bailey & Kevin McAlester; American Experience Films
  • Red Army, Written by Gabe Polsky; Sony Pictures Classics

2015 Producers Guild Awards Nominations

The 2015 Producers Guild Awards Nominations were announced today and the usual suspects were honored — Boyhood, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imiation Game, The Theory of Everything, Gone Girl and Whiplash. A very good day as well for American SniperFoxcatcher and Nightcrawler, while a not so good one for Selma and Unbroken, at least in the sense of the award season.  I am a little surprised that Selma did not get in. A high quality film that has been receiving great reviews. Maybe the screeners did not get out in time or it just missed out. Not to surprised that Unbroken did not get in. It is really all about Boyhood, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl and The Imitation Game. These films have been racking up the Guild nominations, and even though it does not guarantee an Oscar nomination (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gone Girl need the DGA to make me feel more secure about Best Picture), it is a very good sign leading up to the Academy Award nominations. And what a push for American Sniper, Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler, as well as the beloved Whiplash. I think American Sniper is in and Nightcrawler is right on the edge. The PGA Awards will be announced on January 24th. Here is a list of the film nominations and a link to both the film and TV nominations. Enjoy.

FILM NOMINATIONS

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures

  • American Sniper (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Birdman (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Boyhood (IFC Films)
  • Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Gone Girl (20th Century Fox)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company)
  • Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)
  • The Theory of Everything (Focus Features)
  • Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures

  • Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
  • The Book of Life (20th Century Fox)
  • The Boxtrolls (Focus Features)
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2 (20th Century Fox)
  • The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures

  • The Green Prince (Music Box Films)
  • Life Itself (Magnolia Pictures)
  • Merchants of Doubt (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Particle Fever (Abramorama/BOND 360)
  • Virunga (Netflix)

2015 Oscar Predictions (Early Edition)

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Awards season is on. With the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals beginning in late August, early September, the awards season coverage begins. For some this is a year round career, but I like to think about and do a little research once the fall film festival season starts. For the next six months there will be predictions, over-analysis, politics, ass-kissing (the same thing), screenings, screeners and the eventual excitement and disappointment with the Academy Award nominations. It is sort of ridiculous, yet a lot of fun. It is still a matter of opinion and preference, but as absurd as it is to narrow down the best films of each year down to a possible ten or the best actor to an eventual five, it is fun to watch it, be a part of it and get really excited about seeing films during the fall and winter. Films from Iñárritu, P.T. Anderson, Fincher, Nolan, Jolie, Miller and Leigh. Performances from Keaton, Chastain, Cumberbatch, Carell, Phoenix and Pike. It is the best time of the year for true film lovers, especially after the exhaustion of the summer blockbuster season.

The Academy Awards are the big, prestige pat on the back for the film industry. There will be films and artists nominated that you will question, ones that will be nominated due to big budgeted campaigns and others that will not be nominated that probably should be. For the most part, the Academy plays it safe, loving films about the horrors of WWII, slavery, history and they usually throw in a low-budget picture or indie film,  or two. They seem to always get something wrong, for example, last year when Inside Llewyn Davis and All Is Lost got shafted big time. 12 Years a Slave won best picture and is without a doubt a quality, emotional and morally strong picture, but The Wolf of Wall Street was the best picture by a long shot. I have a feeling that if Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is solid, it will be one of the favorites and fit the elderly Academy’s tastes. I feel this year that Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice will be too obscure and goofy for the Academy, and will be the Inside Llewyn Davis or All Is Lost of 2015.

It is all speculation right now. October is when the masses get to see these high-prestige films and I am really excited for Gone GirlBirdmanInherent ViceInterstellarFoxcatcher and Nightcrawler. Will Gone Girl and Foxcatcher get nominated for Best Picture even though both are dark films with commentaries on the American Dream? Can Michael Keaton win Best Actor for Birdman? Can Julianne Moore finally win an Oscar for either of her performances in Still Alice and Maps to the Stars? Is Boyhood the frontrunner? Will The Grand Budapest Hotel get the recognition it deserves even though it was released in March? What will become of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, And DuVernay’s Selma, Tim Burton’s Big Eyes and J.C. Chand0r’s A Most Violent Year? Will Emmanuel Lubezki win back-to-back oscars in cinematography for Birdman? Is it going to be a very British Oscar? That answer is probably yes. Lots of questions to be answered and over-analyzed, but fun to boot.

I have made my early predictions for the main categories below and will update them at the beginning of each month up until the Academy Awards nominations are announced on January 15th. The big show is on February 22nd. Here we go!!!

BEST PICTURE

  1. Boyhood
  2. Unbroken
  3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. Gone Girl
  7. Whiplash
  8. Mr. Turner
  9. Foxcatcher
  10. Interstellar
  • Next 5: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma,  American SniperWildA Most Violent Year
  • It is early and there are many films that have to yet to be seen, but I believe the 9 or 10 nominees will be between these 15 films listed here. I would love to put Inherent Vice on this list, but after seeing that trailer, which I loved, I believe the film will be too goofy for the Academy. Hopefully not for their sake. BoyhoodBirdmanThe Imitation GameThe Theory of Everything and Mr. Turner are close to locks. I also believe Gone Girl will be in there, but it is quite edgy. Whiplash will receive a heavy push and with the already high praise received since Sundance, I think it will be nominated. Sight unseen Unbroken has all the qualities of the classically coveted Academy’s desires, but does it work? Foxcatcher is supposedly very bleak and might be too dark to get in, regardless of its quality and Interstellar, if it is a true knockout, will be the big budget, high quality picture that might get a nomination. A lot left to see. I want The Grand Budapest Hotel to get nominated!

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Christopher Nolan (Interstellar)
  4. Angelina Jolie (Unbroken)
  5. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  • Next 3: James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
  • The only two locks right now are Linklater and Iñárritu. I believe one of the two British directors, Tyldum or Marsh, will get in and there should be a strong push for Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner) to get a nod. Nolan, as long as Interstellar works, will get nominated for, if nothing else, his expansive vision. Unbroken director Angelina Jolie will be nominated, like Nolan, if the film is a knockout. Fincher and Miller, if the Academy falls for the films, could sneak in and watch out for J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) and Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) if those films are solid.

BEST ACTOR

  1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitiation Game)
  3. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
  5. Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)
  • Next 3: Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
  • Even as early as it is, this category already has four locks: Keaton, Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Carell. All of these performances have received outstanding reviews with a tremendous amount of high praise for all of these actors. The field is stacked and dwindling it down to 5 is quite ridiculous. The last spot is up in the air and right now I am going with Spall. He won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and he definitely deserves a nomination. There are at least 25 actors that could be up for a nomination…maybe. So many I did not even name here.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  3. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
  4. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  5. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  • Next 3: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Hillary Swank (The Homesman), Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
  • I believe that the five nominations will come from these 7 actresses. The field is light this year and that seems to be a serious issue that Hollywood is avoiding. This field should be just has stacked as the men, but Hollywood is still in the dark ages when it comes to a plethora of strong female written parts and roles. Julianne Moore could get nominated for two performances and she is definitely due for a win. Pike should have no problem with the strong reviews of Gone Girl already praising her. I also think Jones and Witherspoon will get in. Chastain is a guess, but with the quality from Chandor’s past two films, there is a good bet she is nominated. It could also be Adams, with the unseen Big Eyes arriving in December.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  2. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Next 3: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Tom Wilkinson (Selma), Albert Brooks (A Most Violent Year)
  • Norton and Simmons are the only two probable locks as of now, but I do think Hawke should be nominated without question. He is brilliant in Boyhood. It could be Ruffalo, with Foxcatcher getting rave reviews, but most of the attention was heralded at Carell and Tatum. There is usually a legendary actor that gets a nomination and I am picking Duvall just because they love him and he is supposedly quite good in The Judge, even if the film is mediocre. Brolin looks great, scene stealer, in the trailer for Inherent Vice and it would not surprise me if Albert Brooks, if he is great, which he will be, gets a nomination for A Most Violent Year. A make up for not getting a nomination for his work on Drive.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game)
  4. Laura Dern (Wild)
  5. Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
  • Next 3: Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Dorothy Atkinson (Mr. Turner)
  • This category is a little up in the air, with many of the possible nominees films having not been seen, but one thing is for sure, Patricia Arquette is the clear frontrunner for her powerful work in Boyhood. Right now, she is the clear favorite and Boyhood‘s best chance at an acting win. I would bet that Stone and Knightley are solid predictions with both getting positive notices for their films. Coon and Dern are a guess, with Coon being on a roll right now with this film and her role on the HBO show “The Leftovers” and Dern is supposedly really solid in Wild. I would not be surprised if Atkinson sneaks in for Mr. Turner either. 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
  3. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
  4. Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner)
  5. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Next 3: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), Paul Webb (Selma)
  • I believe this will be a battle between Boyhood  and Birdman for the win. I am sticking by my guns that Whiplash is going to get a lot of love from the Academy and this will be a way to honor an emerging young talent in Chazelle. The last two spots could be a toss-up between these other five films. If The Grand Budapest Hotel does not get a Best Picture nomination, it should receive one here. Interstellar and A Most Violent Year are still up in the air.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson (Unbroken)
  2. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  3. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
  5. E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  • Next 3: Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice), Nick Hornby (Wild), Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  • Out of all of the categories, this is the one where these are probably going to be the five nominations, or at least where I feel that comfortable in choosing. If one film does not make it, it might be Foxcatcher and that could be where Anderson gets some love for Inherent ViceGone GirlThe Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are close to locks.

Many films have already been unveiled, but the masses get to view them over the next three months. These prognostications will change and move, but this is an early guess at what could possibly be nominated in the main categories. Fun times!!! So much has yet to be seen!!!

Photo credits by IMDB.

2014 New York Film Festival Main Lineup

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We already knew that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman was going to close the fest and David Fincher’s Gone Girl was opening, but the rest of the lineup is full of festival repeats, most of which either played at Sundance and Cannes, and will be playing at Venice and Toronto. They did not officially confirm an already confirmed Centerpiece Gala presentation of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. Those three are enough to get any film lover excited.

The rest of the lineup includes Bennett Millers Foxcatcher, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, The Dardennes Brothers Two Days, One Night, Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, Olivier Assayas Clouds of Sils Maria and Sundance favorite Whiplash from Damien Chazelle. A really impressive, strong lineup, but I just cannot wait to see those first three big ones, as well as the Miller and Cronenber films. I am sure there will more titles announced, but this is a nice main lineup for the 2014 New York Film Festival.

  • Gone Girl (David Fincher) [OPENING NIGHT FILM]
  • Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu) [CLOSING NIGHT FILM]
  • Beloved Sisters (Die geliebten Schwestern) (Dominik Graf)
  • The Blue Room (La chambre bleue) (Mathieu Amalric)
  • Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
  • Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve)
  • Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
  • Goodbye to Language (Adieu au langage) (Jean-Luc Godard)
  • Heaven Knows What (Josh & Benny Safdie)
  • Hill of Freedom (Jayuui Eondeok) (Hong Sang-soo)
  • Horse Money (Cavalo Dinheiro) (Pedro Costa)
  • Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)
  • Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter) (Alain Resnais)
  • Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry)
  • Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg)
  • Misunderstood (Incompresa) (Asia Argento)
  • Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
  • Pasolini (Abel Ferrara)
  • The Princess of France (La Princesa de Francia) (Matías Piñeiro)
  • Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello)
  • La Sapienza (Eugène Green)
  • ’71 (Yann Demange)
  • Tales of the Grim Sleeper (Nick Broomfield)
  • Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)
  • Time Out of Mind (Oren Moverman)
  • Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit) (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
  • Two Shots Fired (Dos Disparos (Martín Rejtman)
  • Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
  • The Wonders (Le meraviglie) (Alice Rohrwacher)

Photo credit by IMDB and list by ropeofsilicon.com.

2014 Toronto Film Festival Lineup

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And so it begins. The fall films are so close to premiering you can taste it and the major film festivals are about to kick off the fall film season. They will kill dreams or push a film into notoriety and statuettes. Well, it is all about the films, and it is fun to follow and write about the award season, but it comes down to the work. A lot of films are going to get a huge push or just get pushed aside over the next few months and the biggest film festival will be premiering many films. This past Tuesday, the Toronto International Film Festival announced its initial lineup, they will announce more films before it begins, and there is a lot to be looking forward to. Some that played at Cannes, but many high-profile films will be shining or fading during the month of September in Canada.

The festival will include films from Noah Baumbach, Mike Leigh, Jason Reitman, Bennett Miller, Zhang Yimou, David Gordon Green, Andrew Niccol, Liv Ullman, Jon Stewart and David Cronenberg. Three of the more interesting films that will be showing at Toronto, and three I am really excited about, premiered earlier this year at Cannes: Miller’s Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell & Channing Tatum, Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars starring Julianne Moore & Robert Pattinson, and the breakout, raved about Argentinian film Wild Tales from Writer-Director Damián Szifron. Two other Cannes films that look very good are Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner starring Timothy Spall, and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash starring Miles Teller & J.K. Simmons, which will also be showing in Toronto. All intriguing selections.

The next tier of films that appear to be really interesting that will be showing in Toronto are Jean Marc-Vallée’s Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young starring Ben Stiller & Naomi Watts, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater starring Gael García Bernal, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill starring Ethan Hawke, Raman Bahrani’s 99 Homes starring Andrew Garfield & Laura Dern, and Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children starring Adam Sandler & Judy Greer.

And that is not all. Big premieres, although personally down a notch from all the aforementioned films, from Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch & Keira Knightley, Ed Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice starring Liev Schreiber & Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones, Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington & Chloë Grace Moretz, David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn starring Al Pacino & Holly Hunter, Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie starring Jessica Chastain & Colin Farrell, David Dobkin’s The Judge starring Robert Downey, Jr. & Robert Duvall, and Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini starring Willem Dafoe.

The biggest film to me is the already seen and premiered Foxcatcher. There will still be more films announces, including an opening night film. Although this looks like quite an impressive lineup, the New York Film Festival stole the big ones and who knows what Telluride will have in late August. This little battle between Toronto (Cameron Bailey) and the Telluride programmers about picking one or the other to have a specific films world/North Amercian premiere appears to be backfiring a little bit with TIFF. No Birdman. No Gone Girl. No Inherent Vice. No Interstellar (unlikely anyways). Cannot wait to see what will play in Telluride. I would not be surprised if some of those films that are not playing in Toronto play there.

There are many other films that will playing at the Toronto International Film Festival between September 4th to 14th. These are just a few that piqued my interest and ones I have had my eye for quite some time. Here we go. Full list of films (so far) after the jump.

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