Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Free Oscar Pool


We're officially 3 weeks away from Oscar Sunday and this year's awards ceremony is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable events in recent memory. Greg Rouleau (Reel True) and I are hosting our annual Oscar contest once again and it's completely FREE TO JOIN!

If you're interested in entering for a chance to win a $50 gift card to a movie theater chain (your choice of Regal, AMC and Landmark theaters), then just follow the simple instructions below. Best of luck to everyone!



Step 2: In the "Join Password" box type - oscargold

Step 3: Fill out the form including a username, password and email address



There is no spam, ever, and feel free to invite as many of your friends as you'd like. Come celebrate your Oscar Sunday with us!

Note: The winner must have a mailing address in the 48 continental states.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Miles Ahead and Get a Job Trailers


It was just last summer when Don Cheadle's directorial debut and festival darling, Miles Ahead, had a small amount of buzz as an Oscar contender. However, the indie biopic never reached theaters and it was swept under the rug until it re-emerged at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Cheadle also stars in a lead role as famed trumpeter, Miles Davis, who works to recover some missing tapes from a recording session. Miles Ahead has landed a small theatrical release in April, but Oscar hopes have all but faded. Check out its debut trailer below.





Two performers I usually seek out, Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick, will be teaming up in the upcoming romantic comedy, Get a Job. The pair star as a recently graduated couple who are forced to take the step from college to the "real world", only to discover that life is much more difficult than they anticipated. Teller and Kendrick have the ability to carry a rom-com but it's going to come down to Dylan Kidd's direction and the quality of the script. Get a Job arrives in theaters on March 25th.




Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hail, Caesar!




Film: Hail, Caesar!

Starring: Josh Brolin (Sicario), George Clooney (Gravity) and Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures)

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit)

U.S. Release: February 5th, 2016 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 106 minutes


The dynamic sibling duo of Joel and Ethan Coen have already left a tremendous imprint on the film industry. As gifted writers and prolific visionaries who are all too familiar with Oscar acclaim, any entry of theirs is graciously accepted by critics and viewing audiences alike. Oddly, though, Joel and Ethan's latest cinematic work, Hail, Caesar!, lands as an early year release competing in theaters against numerous elite Oscar contenders, something the brothers haven't experienced since they debuted The Ladykillers in March of 2004. But despite their multiple pieces of Academy Award-winning hardware, Hail, Caesar! reveals itself as a comedy-heavy film that's far from the brothers' finest achievements.

Set throughout 1950s Hollywood, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a movie executive for Capital Pictures who's known for cleaning up a mess or two (or three). If a director encounters a problem or the acting talent becomes entangled in a poor decision, Eddie arrives to reset the world back to normal. But when the studio's most prominent release of the year is compromised because its leading star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped and held for ransom, Mannix begins to question his love for the job while he works to fix this potentially final problem.


Although it suffers from a few devastating flaws, Hail, Caesar! serves as another fine comedic endeavor for the Coen brothers. The laughs are endless and the film's tone is almost absurdly jocular enough to overshadow its blatant disregard for a cohesive storyline. This self-mocking examination of Hollywood and filmmaking in general possesses a certain spark and bravado that eases the viewer to the final credits. Hail, Caesar! engages with a natural wit and humor that's effortlessly provided by a star-studded cast which includes Brolin, Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes and newcomer, Alden Ehrenreich. Be warned, though, the film is completely devoid of any dramatic elements whatsoever, making Hail, Caesar! a limited effort from a duo with unlimited potential.


Through no fault of its own, Hail, Caesar! will unfairly be measured beside a long list of exceptional titles previously released by the Coen brothers. And in no way, shape or form can this new entry stack up against hits such as Fargo, No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski. Structurally, the Coen's offer a jumbled story that struggles to develop characters and deliver a meaningful message. The film is riddled with random scenes and highlighted moments that work well on their own but fail to amount to a greater whole.

If you're dying for the next great Coen brothers epic, you'll have to keep waiting. Hail, Caesar! is a reasonable comedy that gets by on mild humor and admirably committed performances. Yet, the film falls well shy of the duo's reputable heights which will surely disappoint many. Rushing out to theaters to catch it on the big screen may be a bit rash, but there are still a few reasons worth enjoying Hail, Caesar!.


Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Ultimate 2016 Movie Preview - Part II


Last week, with the assistance of guest writer, Greg Rouleau (Reel True), we discussed the upcoming year's most enticing family/animated films, major blockbusters and upcoming releases (Part I). Today we close out our 2016 movie preview with a look at the year's most anticipated horror films, comedies, dramas and award season hopefuls. Here's what you can expect from the upcoming cinematic year:


Horror



The Witch (February 19th)  With successful indie horror films such as The Babadook and It Follows dominating the genre lately, it's no surprise that one of the most buzzed-about scary movies of the year is Robert Eggers' festival darling, The Witch. Set in 1630s New England, a family's recent string or bad luck is blamed on witchcraft and black magic. Early reviews have been overly positive, so horror fans should definitely be on the look-out later this month.

Rings (April 1st)  One of this millennium's finest horror offerings was 2002's The Ring. Although its eventual sequel left plenty to be desired, the evil entity Samara returns for more vengeance. While odds are slim that this latest entry will deliver the same haunting tone as the original, Rings is an intriguing sequel that I will certainly take a chance on.

The Conjuring 2 (June 10th) James Wan captivated audiences with the first installment of his series and he's back to direct the second go-around as well. In the sequel Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) venture to London to help a single mother combat malicious evil spirits. Wan handed off his Insidious franchise in order to devote his full attention to this follow-up film, which easily makes The Conjuring 2 one of 2016's biggest must-see horror titles.

Other Horror Releases: Rob Zombie's ultra violent 31 debuted last month at the Sundance Film Festival, leaving everyone hoping for a 2016 general release. Next, this July The Purge 3 looks to build upon the franchises much improved second installment. And finally, the partitioned horror flick, Holidays, is aiming for a 2016 release. The film features an array of directors who each helm their own horror segment based on different national holidays. You can count me in!


Comedies



The Nice Guys (May 20) – Shane Black’s directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of the finest films of the 2000s, and after helming the latest Iron Man movie, he returns to the comedy genre with The Nice Guys.  Starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, they play a duo investigating the suicide of a 1970s porn star in Los Angeles.  With Black’s trademark humor, style and action evident in the trailer this one could be a sleeper hit of the year.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (May 20) – 2014’s Neighbors was a surprisingly decent comedy, perhaps not quite warranting a sequel, but alas this May we’re getting part two.  Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron are returning, but this time they’re teaming up to combat the shenanigans of the new sorority house they’re at war with.  Chloe Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez also star as a couple of sorority sisters.

Ghostbusters (Jul 15) – We’ll get our second dose of Melissa McCarthy (The Boss arrives in April) in the summer as her and Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and the superlative Kate McKinnon debut the latest effort in the Ghostbusters franchise.  With the all female cast, directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, it’ll be interesting to see how this version translates on screen.  Much of the original cast is set to reprise their roles in, at the very least, small cameos.

More in Comedy: The Boss, Table 19, Get a Job, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, How to Be Single, Central Intelligence, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Arms and the Dudes.


Dramas/Thrillers/Award Hopefuls



Free State of Jones (May 13) – In May we’ll get to see the latest from director Gary Ross (Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) in this period drama where Matthew McConaughey stars as a farmer from Mississippi who leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army.

La La Land (Jul 15) – Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) debuts his sophomore effort this summer, entitled La La Land.  Ryan Gosling plays a jazz pianist that falls in love with an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, played by Emma Stone.  JK Simmons, who Chazelle directed to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, also has a role in the film.


Sully (Sep 9) – Clint Eastwood will follow up his hugely successful American Sniper with another modern day biopic, this time with Tom Hanks as pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully landed a US Airways plane on the Hudson River in 2009.

The Girl on the Train (Oct 7) The Girl on the Train, directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), is adapted from the best-selling novel about Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) and her thrilling adventures as she travels past her ex-husbands house on the train every day.  Word is the story is very similar to another recent thriller adapted from a popular novel, Gone Girl.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Nov 11) – Ang Lee’s follow up to his Oscar winning Life of Pi is adapted from a novel by another Oscar winner, screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy.  This story is about a group of soldiers in Iraq who return home triumphantly, hailed as the “Bravo Squad”, and embark on a victory tour including a halftime showcase at a Dallas Cowboys game.  But during this tour the group learns they must return to duty in Iraq and we see the ensuing results.


The Founder (Nov 25) – The Oscar push for Michael Keaton continues this year – with prime Oscar fodder, a starring role in a biopic – as he portrays McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc.  John Lee Hancock (Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directs, and Nick Offerman and Laura Dern are in supporting roles.

Passengers (Dec 21) – A big-budget, sci-fi blockbuster with awards aspirations seems to be commonplace every year now.  In 2016, Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) brings us Passengers.  The story is about a spaceship traveling to a distant world where all of the passengers are under a deep sleep.  But when one malfunctions and a man is awoken, he makes the decision to wake up another passenger rather than spend the next 60 years alone.  Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, arguably the biggest box-office duo possible, are in the lead roles.


Gold (TBA) – It’s been over ten years since Stephen Gaghan’s had a major release, but he returns with a promising project lined up for later this year.  Gold tells the story of a duo (Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard) and their adventures to find gold in an Indonesian jungle.

Story of Your Life (TBA) – Before embarking on the Blade Runner sequel, Denis Villenueve will give us his fourth movie in three years with Story of Your Life.  Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner will star in a story about aliens making their presence known around the world, and they must determine if their intentions are benevolent or malicious.


Silence (TBA) – Martin Scorsese’s latest effort is about two priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who travel to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson) and face religious persecution during their journey.

More in Drama: Birth of a Nation, Lost City of Z, Untitled Robert Zemeckis World War II Movie, Snowden, Deepwater Horizon, All I See is You, The Great Wall, The Light Between Oceans, The Promise, War Machine, Queen of Katwe, A Monster Calls, Inferno, Magnificent Seven, Nocturnal Animals and The Accountant.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Ultimate 2016 Movie Preview - Part I


As we push through this rigorous January movie lull, guest columnist, Greg Rouleau (Reel True), steps in to offer a detailed and heavily cataloged examination of the upcoming cinematic year. This two-part movie preview will begin with a "coming soon" section, then a look at the animated/family titles arriving in 2016, as well as a list of this syear's biggest blockbusters. Next week we'll reprise the column with an outline of the 2016's most anticipated comedy and horror releases, along with a breakdown of the presumed Oscar hopefuls. Enjoy!



Coming Soon (February - April)



Hail, Caesar! (Feb 5) – It’s a treat to see best of the year potential as early as February, and judging by the insanely fun looking trailers, we should be circling February 5th on the calendar for the Coen Brothers Hail, Caesar!  Josh Brolin stars as a Hollywood fixer that goes on a mission to uncover the whereabouts of a missing star (George Clooney) who mysteriously disappears from the set of the big budget film.  Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, and Jonah Hill round out the ensemble.

Zoolander 2 (Feb 12) We’ve seen Anchorman 2 and Dumb and Dumber To – comedies with their originals nearly a decade or more behind them – released in recent years to disappointing results.  Should we expect the same with Zoolander 2? The trailer looks somewhat promising, all things considered, so let’s hope there’s enough laughs amongst the stupidity of Derek and Hansel that it’s worth the price of admission. 

Midnight Special (Mar 18) – Once set for a 2014 release, Midnight Special is finally reaching theaters in March of this year.  From the director of Mud and Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special tells the story of a man (Michael Shannon) on the run from authorities when they discover his child possesses supernatural ability.  The idea of a quasi-superhero movie on a smaller-scale is intriguing and with his previous films, Nichols has displayed a talent for directing young actors.  The director also has a drama called Loving – about an interracial couple in 1950s Virginia – set for a late 2016 release.  Both films star Joel Edgerton and Nichols regular, Michael Shannon. 




Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Mar 25) – It’s difficult to feign a lot of enthusiasm for BvS: DOJ, which is a sequel to the highly disappointing Man of Steel, but I would at least expect box office returns to be strong on opening weekend.  The release date was switched around numerous times before finally settling on March 25.  The trailers have been lackluster and there’s been word of a multitude of production problems, and now rumors are circulating that this movie could be more than the advertised showdown between the classic comic heroes…let’s just leave it at that. 

Everybody Wants Some (Apr 15)  – This spring we can look forward to the latest from indie director Richard Linklater, who is a couple years removed from his critical darling, Boyhood.  Everybody Wants Some has been described by Linklater as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, which focuses on the lives of a group of college baseball players including Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street) and Tyler Hoechlin (Road to Perdition). 

Also Coming Soon: Race, Deadpool, Grimsby, Triple 9, Knight of Cups, Demolition, The Huntsman Winter’s War, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. 


Family/Animated




The Jungle Book (Apr 15) – This spring, director Jon Favreau returns to the world of family entertainment with his live-action version of Disney’s The Jungle Book.  The trailer looks to have a slightly more serious tone than the animated feature, with plenty of thrills and a talented cast to voice the animals including Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Christopher Walken. 

Finding Dory (Jun 17) Finding Nemo was a major hit in 2003 that dominated the box-office and went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  Dory will find Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks reprising their roles for the much-anticipated sequel that finds Dory in search of her family after rekindling some childhood memories. 



The BFG (Jul 1) – Steven Speilberg finally returns to the genre where he made such hits as E.T. and Hook – possibly ending his latest excursion through dramatic period pieces – and brings an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel to the screen this summer.  The late Melissa Mathison, who also wrote E.T., adapted the screenplay and Spielberg regulars Janusz Kaminski, Michael Kahn and John Williams are on board in the craft departments, so you can expect more than the typical family fare.  Bridge of Spies’ Mark Rylance stars as the title character, Big Friendly Giant, in what looks to truly be an entertaining story the entire family can enjoy.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Nov 18) – With the Harry Potter franchise finishing up in theaters five years ago, author and screenwriter, J.K. Rowling and company will take the The Lord of the Rings route and release a three-part prequel epic, with the first chapter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, set for release in November.  Beasts is the story of author Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his adventures in writing the textbook that shares the film’s title.   

More Family/Animated: Angry Birds Movie, The Secret Life of Pets, Zootopia, Ice Age: Collision Course, Moana.


Blockbusters




Captain America: Civil War (May 6) Captain America: Civil War is set to kick-off the summer movie season with a bang, as the story picks up following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and government intervention is threatening to come between the group of superheroes.  On one side is Captain America, Steve Rogers and firmly against him, in favor of regulation is Iron Man, Tony Stark.  While Iron Man 2 and 3 were lackluster sequels to the outstanding first part, Civil War shows promise of the reverse, and finishing the Captain America series with two solid entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Independence Day: Resurgence (Jun 24) – After being in development for what seems like an eternity, with story ideas being pitched as early as 2004, director Roland Emmerich is finally bringing his long-awaited Independence Day sequel to the theaters this summer.  Subtitled Resurgence, the aliens have returned twenty-years later after their defeat in the climatic battle of the original, the idea here is that before their demise they were able to send out a distress signal and alert the rest of the aliens in the universe, and they’ve finally made their return.  No Will Smith this time around, but Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as well as Bill Pullman, and Liam Hemsworth joins the cast, as well. 




Suicide Squad (Aug 5) – Although I’m not entirely approving of already putting The Joker back on screen so soon after Heath Ledger’s classic portrayal, the Suicide Squad looks like it could be one of DC’s best movies since the Dark Knight trilogy.  Jared Leto’s take on the iconic villain looks like enough of a departure from Ledger’s and he won’t be the main focus here as he joins a large group of super-villains enlisted by the government to complete secret ops missions.  David Ayer (Fury, End of Watch) directs while Will Smith stars as Deadshot, Margot Robbie is the Joker’s accomplice, Harley Quinn. 

Doctor Strange (Nov 4) – While Marvel will have presumably be wrapping up the Captain America trilogy earlier in the year, come November they’ll debut another superhero when Doctor Strange hits theaters.  Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast in the title role, with Tilda Swinton portraying The Ancient One, who trains Strange in the ways of mystic arts.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Stuhlbarg complete the impressive cast. 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec 16) – We may have to wait until December 2017 to get Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga, but 2016 will give us our first of a few planned prequels/spin-offs of the franchise with Rogue One.  This story will go back and reveal how a group of rebel fighters were able to capture the plans for the Death Star that aid the group in their fight against the Empire.  Gareth Edwards who directed 2014’s Godzilla is slated to helm this one. 

More In Blockbusters: TNMT 2, Warcraft, The Legend of Tarzan, Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse, Star Trek Beyond, Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur, Jason Bourne Sequel, Gambit, Assassin’s Creed


*** Stay tuned next week for Part II of our Ultimate 2016 Movie Preview

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The 5 Worst 2016 Oscar-Nominated Films


It's been almost a week and a half since the Academy Awards announced their annual nominations and this has given us plenty of time to digest each of the recognized recipients. Therefore, January's movie list of the month takes a look at the 5 worst Oscar-Nominated films of the past year (December's List).

Honorable Mention: Carol





Tom Hooper's biopic of a transgender pioneer (Eddie Redmayne) who was one of the first documented people to undergo sexual reassignment surgery has "Oscar bait" written all over it. And for the second year in a row, leading actor, Eddie Redmayne, is dwarfed by his female counterpart, both Felicity Jones and Alicia Vikander, respectively. But while The Danish Girl managed to capture 4 Oscar Nominations in total, this punishingly slow and sloppily scripted true story never packs the punch that it intends to.


#4. Trumbo


After shocking the industry with a trio of SAG Nominations and another two from the Globes, Bryan Cranston was the lone Oscar survivor from Jay Roach's Hollywood biopic, Trumbo. This play-it-safe examination of screenwriting pariah, Dalton Trumbo (Cranston), delivers superficial dramatics and weak writing. Yet, even in my own opinion. Cranston's nomination feels like a stretch.


3. Youth


Paolo Sorrentino's latest effort, Youth, gained him a large amount of notoriety out of the Cannes Film Festival in France. Michael Caine stood as a possible Best Actor contender for most of the awards season, yet the film only earned one single Oscar Nomination in the Best Original Song category. And despite Youth's majestic and picturesque backdrop. the oddly constructed and immensely artistic narrative becomes far too polarizing for my taste.


#2. Joy


David O. Russell's impressive Oscar streak almost came to a halt until Jennifer Lawrence officially became a Best Actress finalist for the upcoming Academy Awards. Yet, Joy surely separates itself (and not in a positive way) from O. Russell's more prolific work such as Best Picture Nominee's Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and The Fighter. Untypical of what we've come to expect from the filmmaker, Joy proves to be a jumbled mess filled with unnecessary dream sequences and minimally engaging story. 


#1. 50 Shades of Grey


It pains me to say every individual syllable, but the erotic novel turned box office smash, 50 Shades of Grey, managed to earn itself a nod from the Academy in the Best Original Song race. Now I don't know about you, but even if John Lennon rose from the dead to write and record the greatest song ever written, the Oscars should banish the tune if it means recognizing this smutty laughing-stock of a film. It's movies such as this that ruin the creativity and artistry of filmmaking. Instead, studio heads scoop up nonsense such as 50 Shades of Grey in order to turn huge profits. It's a sad and depressing reality that's altering the industry for the worse.