Tag Archives: Steve Carell

OSCAR 2015 PREDICTIONS

22 Feb

Another year, another round.

Best Picture: will win – Boyhood / should win – Boyhood (suck it Birdman)
Best Director: will win – Richard Linklater / should win – Richard Linklater
Best Actor: will win – Michael Keaton / should win – Steve Carell (but really Jake Gyllenhaal)
Best Actress: will win – Julianne Moore / should win – Rosamund Pike
Best Sup. Actor: will win – JK Simmons / should win – JK Simmons
Best Sup. Actress: will win – Patricia Arquette / should win – Patricia Arquette
Best Animated: will win – How 2 train ur dragon 2 / should win – Princess Kaguya
Best Documentary: will win – Citizenfour / should win – Virunga (but really Overnighters)
Best Foreign Film: will win – Ida / should win – Wild Tales
Best Adapted Screenplay: will win – Theory of Everything / should win – Whiplash (but really Gone Girl)
Best Original Screenplay: will win – Grand Budapest / should win – Birdman
Best Editing: will win – American Sniper / should win – Whiplash
Best Cinematography: will win – Birdman / should win – Birdman
Best Score: will win – Grand Budapest / should win – Interstellar (but really Gone Girl or better yet: Under The Skin. I can dream can’t I?)
Best Visual Effects: will win – Interstellar / should win – Interstellar
Best Hair/Makeup: will win – Foxcatcher / should win – Foxcatcher
Best Production Design: will win – Grand Budapest / should win – Grand Budapest
Best Costumes: will win – Mr. Turner / should win – Grand Budapest
Best Sound Editing: will win – American Sniper / should win – Interstellar
Best Sound Mixing: will win – Interstellar / should win – Whiplash

Foxcatcher (2014)

20 Jan

“Coach is the father. Coach is a mentor. Coach has great power on athlete’s life.” These words, uttered by John du Pont (Steve Carell) in the drama Foxcatcherecho with a slightly sinister tone in the minds of Olympic athletes Mark and Dave Schultz (played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, respectively).  The film follows the story of these two brothers, who both took home Olympic gold medals for the US Wrestling Team, as they encounter the enigmatic figure of du Pont, a millionaire wrestling fan and self-described patriot. Mark, who has long been struggling in the shadow of his older brother’s athletic achievements, is persuaded by du Pont to come and train on his private family-fun Foxcatcher Farms, in order to better prepare for the upcoming World’s Tournament and 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games. “I want to see America gain her roots back” du Pont says, as one of his many motivating monologues to help Mark reach another Olympic gold. Mark makes an agreement to train on Foxcatcher Farms under du Pont’s specific conditions, while Dave declines the invitation in order to spend more time with his wife and children. This creates an uneasy tension between the three characters, which ultimately escalates into one of the most bizarre true stories in recent sports history.

Directed by Bennet Miller, Foxcatcher is a deeply felt character-driven drama of an inexplicably strange relationship between coach and athlete. The film was originally slated for a 2013 awards-season run, but was ultimately shelved for late 2014 due to an over-crowded awards season. Oscar contender Steve Carell (who does a complete 180 here in a play against his typical comedic types) gives a frightfully convincing portrayal of the millionaire bird aficionado. A shoe-in for this year’s Best Actor in a Leading Role, Carell is meticulously good, nailing both the mannerisms and speech patterns of the late du Pont (go watch the real du Pont’s speaking videos afterwards, and you will be in awe). For the entire running time you can tell there is something off about his character, and his increasingly off-kilter behavior grows more bizarre with each minute onscreen.  Another well known comedy actor, Channing Tatum, also plays against type in a serious dramatic role. His performance is a bit more subtle than the eccentric Carell, but he effectively brings out the full physicality and explosive nature of competitive wrestling. And we can’t forget about Mark Ruffalo.  The long underrated actor gets his chance to shine more than once, and  100% deserves his Best Supporting Actor nom (though it’s looking likely the Oscar will go to JK Simmons at this point).

I haven’t been a huge of a fan of Miller’s work as the Academy, (both his previous films Moneyball and Capote were also Best Picture nominees) but I do think Foxcatcher is without a doubt his best film yet. The film showcases what Miller does best by taking nuanced and vulnerable characters and having them interact in unusual and explosive ways. Unfortunately, its 134 minute running time feels a little too lengthy and the action is often drawn out between ineffective long shots; shave off 20 minutes or so and you would have a near dramatic masterpiece. As it stands however, Foxcatcher is a solid film boasting some of the year’s best acting work, and will serve as a highlight and strong contender in this year’s awards season.

Rating – 7/10 

Similar to: There Will Be Blood (2007), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Master (2011) 

Top 10 Anticipated films of 2014

5 Jan

Well hats off to a new year. In the midst of all this awards season talk (you can catch my top 15 list of 2013 here) I’d like to present the films I’m most looking forward to seeing this next year. If available, I’ve provided the trailers and release dates. Make sure to let me know what films you are looking forward to seeing and if there are any I missed.

10 – Knight of Cups

This one is still a bit of a mystery as director Terrence Malick hasn’t officially said anything about Knight of Cups (or much else about his other projects). What we do know is that is stars Christian Bale, Imogen Poots, Joel Kinnaman, Cate Blanchet, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Wes Bentley, and Antonio Banderas (wow!!). If the cast isn’t enough to get you excited, rumor is that Malick has a few additional films planned (though these are most likely to be pushed back to 2015 and beyond).  No release date yet.

9 – Foxcatcher

Director Bennett Miller made waves a while back with his Oscar-winning film Capote and 2011’s Moneyball. Next year he returns with a film based on Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz. Originally intended for 2013 (there was even a trailer released last fall), the film was pushed back due to editing issues and concern the awards season would be too crowded. Channing Tatum and Steve Carell (supposedly playing against type) star alongside Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Tara Subkoff.  Foxcatcher is rumored to be released in the spring, but could be pushed back to fall.

8 – Boyhood

This mysterious project from Richard Linklater supposedly has been in production for the last 12 years, chronicling the life of Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s son. As a huge fan of his Before trilogy, I can’t wait to see what frequent collaborators Linklater and Hawke have in store. No release date yet.

7- Transcendence

Wally Pfister, who is mostly known for his cinematography work with Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut next year with a mind-bending sci-fi about artificial intelligence. This looks like it has all the right ingredients to be the next Minority Report, and I’m excited to see Johnny Depp actually using his talent. Depp stars alongside Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. In theaters April 14.

6 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Boasting an amazing all-star lineup of Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law, Edwards Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, and Harvey Keitel (!!!), the film from Wes Anderson promises mystery, laughs, drama, superb music and Helvetica font. In theaters March 7.

5 – Enemy

After filming the Oscar-nominated Incendies, and last years incredible Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is making a name for himself and this year he agian reunited with Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy. The thriller is supposedly about a man who goes after his look-alike after seeing him in a movie. I’m intrigued. In theaters March 14.

4 – Gone Girl

One of my favorite directors, David Fincher, gives us a film about a man whose wife mysteriously disappears while on honeymoon, starring Ben Affleck. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl could become this year’s Girl With The Dragon Tatoo. In theaters October 8.

3 – Noah

Yes, you are familiar with the biblical story, but director Darren Aronofsky is sure to put a new spin on the tale. Staring Russel Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, and supposedly boasting some of the best digital effects ever to be done by Industrial Light and Magic, Noah arrives March 28.

2 – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is back in action with a story about wormholes, space travel, and corn shortages. Yup. Staring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, and Ellen Burstyn, the film is out November 7.

1 – Inherent Vice

My most anticipated film of 2014 brings back Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson into a thriller/comedy/crime story about a detective investigating the disappearance of an ex-lover.  Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Maya Rudolph star. No release date yet.

The Way Way Back (2013)

7 Jul

Water parks and fireworks have long been staple of every American kid’s typical summertime, and these two elements provide the background for this rather typical indie drama. The Way Way Back tells the story of one introverted boy named Duncan and his eventual coming to terms with others around him, especially his mother’s divorce.

The film marks the directorial debut of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the writing duo known for their Oscar-winning screenplay to 2012’s The Descendants, and the similarities are evident between the two films. Both are character-driven dramas about parental figures who are out-of-touch with their children, both films display instances of awkward youth romances, both films are shot on these exotic sea-side locations that upper-class white families can afford.  Overall, it seemed to me that this was just a copy+paste of the exact formula that won these directors an Academy Award. Which is all fine and dandy, except I didn’t really enjoy The Descendants that much in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, The Way Way Back is a very enjoyable, family-friendly movie.  The ensemble cast, (featuring Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janey, and the ever-entertaining Sam Rockwell) is great and the story, while predictable and irrational, is fast-paced and heartfelt. Most impressively, the film wraps things up at a neat and clean 103 minutes. It’s even got a good amount of smart, witty humor.

The main issue here is that the characters (with the exception of Rockwell’s and Rudolph’s) felt fake and overused, playing off of cliche’s we have all seen a billion times before. The film was made by two amateur directors, and boy – it shows, especially with the children.  Acting heavyweights like Carrell and Janey can hold their own and create bearable chemistry, but the scenes featuring two children flirting with each other (and there was by far too much of that) felt so awkward and forced into a trope that I literally had to close my eyes.

The one bright beam of light here that makes the film enjoyable was Sam Rockwell, who delivers his lines so well that even at their cheesiest (“You need to learn how to create your own path”) are a welcoming relief to the lackluster script.

What Faxon and Rash need to realize is that in a character-driven film like this, characters must take priority over everything else and should be developed into authentic and memorable individuals (think Little Miss Sunshine, The Squid and the Whale, The Ice Storm, or any David O. Russel or P.T. Anderson film) and not simply used as cookie-cutter plot devices.

 

Rating 5/10

Similar to: The Descendants, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Moneyball