Amy Adams

Idina Menzel and James Marsden in Enchanted

Seven years after Disney brought Amy Adams into our lives as the real life princess that we’d always dreamed could exist, they’re attempting to make magic happen again with a sequel to their 2007 hit Enchanted, according to Deadline. In that first movie, doe-eyed, full of wonder and dressed like an adorable cupcake Giselle (Adams) peeled herself away from the animated kingdom of Andalasia when a wicked queen (Susan Sarandon) banished her to plain old regular Earth for fear that she would marry her princely stepson (James Marsden) and unseat her from her throne. With Enchanted 2 now a reality, maybe that means Giselle and her true love from New York City (Patrick Dempsey) didn’t wind up happily ever after as it so tidily seemed at the end of the first film. Or Prince Edward and his equally earthly girlfriend (Idina Menzel) weren’t exactly a match either. Having a partner who sings constantly, no matter how dreamy they might be, probably gets a little grating. No cast members have signed on yet for the sequel, which is being written by David Stem and David N. Weiss (The Smurfs; Are We There Yet?) and directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal; The Guilt Trip), meaning the doors are open for some healthy speculation about plot and premise.

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Denis Villeneuve

Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is a busy guy – after all, the frequently lauded director is steadily lining up compelling new projects after the one-two punch of his last two projects (that would be last year’s Prisoners and this season’s Enemy, both of which bowed back in September at TIFF, making it clear that the Incendies director had arrived in a big way) – but the new heat on his career doesn’t mean he’s cutting corners. He’s not getting sloppy. He’s not picking up films about monster trucks or winged aliens or whatever it is that Hollywood is throwing at emerging filmmakers. Villeneuve is making his own way. But is that going to include finding a female muse to match the relationship he’s cultivated with Jake Gyllenhaal, who quite memorably starred in both of Villeneuve’s latest projects, in very different roles? 

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Actress

Call it the innate sexism that exists in Hollywood, but many years, the Best Actress category is less interesting than the Best Actor category. This can easily be blamed on the fewer great roles for women in movies today. However, this year, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Not only is this an incredibly strong field for the films they’ve appeared in, this is an incredibly strong field for the actresses themselves. All five women in this category are previous nominees – some of them many times over. (I’m looking at you, Meryl Streep, with your list of nominations almost as long as your list of hairstyles over the years.) Regardless, the Best Actress crop is a fertile one this year, featuring some fantastic performances in some really excellent films. As predictable as it might appear, it would be no surprise if things took a turn for anyone on this list. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Actress along with my predicted winner in red…

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gravity-sandra-bullock-10

Following the announcement of any year’s Oscar nominations, the search for records and other interesting trivia among the contenders is expected. One of this year’s most notable findings has to be that the 86th Academy Awards has broken the record for average age among the best actress nominees: 55. That’s not just interesting, it’s possibly even important. For all that’s said about Hollywood favoring young women and how actresses’ careers are done by the time they reach 40, this could be used as further evidence that older ladies are not unwelcome on the big screen. But is it really relevant to the businesspeople in Hollywood that the leading actresses of prestige pictures are veering older, their average this year being even higher than the best actor contenders (47)? The true measure for whether last year’s movies prove that not older women but women in general deserve more respect in the film industry is instead with the box office. And, well, the grosses of the nominated movies is pretty notable in this case, too. Thanks mostly to Gravity, the average domestic take for the movies nominated in the best actress category is $90M compared to that of the best actor nominees’ $34M. Nearly three times as much.

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review american hustle

It’s 1978 in New York City, and Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is working hard to perfect the mother of all comb-overs. It’s an elaborate and time-intensive endeavor, but if he’s going to do it he wants it done right. He treats his businesses the same way, both the dry cleaning front and the illegal scams he runs on the side, and he’s a success because he works hard, does the job right, and never gets greedy. Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), his partner both in crime and in the bedroom, is a fan of v-necks and faux British accents, but she’s not too hot on Rosenfeld’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). Trouble arises in the tightly-coiffed form of F.B.I. agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) who busts one half of the criminal duo with the intention of coercing them into helping him take down some far bigger fish. Target number one is the easily corruptible Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) from the nearby New Jersey shore, but as DiMaso’s eyes grow at the thought of nabbing even higher profile targets the entire operation threatens to spiral out of control. It doesn’t bode well for Irving’s tenuously-constructed combover either.

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Superman Batman and Wonder Woman

There’s a wacky political theory (hear me out and stop yawning) that commercials for presidential candidates don’t actually do anything. The thinking is pretty simple: since commercials only increase name recognition, and the people running for the highest office already have a metric ton of name recognition, candidates spend hundreds of millions to move the needle not at all. Strangely, no campaign has ever had the brass buttons to give us a real-world test of the theory. The movie studio corollary is fairly simple to spot — particularly in an age where the name of your franchise is theoretically far more important for your movie’s potential popularity than the name of the actor playing the part. We’re in a post-star era, but the extent of actors’ diminished effect on bringing in fans isn’t really clear, leading to an important franchise question. Would it really matter who played Superman? Batman? Wonder Woman? Katniss? That Sparkly Vampire Guy? Actors have already caught on to the phenomenon and capitalized on it by extending their profiles into the independent world, going as far as ensuring financing for small films that otherwise wouldn’t be made without them. Best of all, they do this without risking their “personal brand” as “big time movie stars” at all. In that sense, the shift has been freeing, and it can be freeing for studios, too, as they become more comfortable choosing from outside the same 10-name list for higher profile roles. In the best case scenario, it’ll give directors […]

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american hustle poster bradley cooper

During the production of David O. Russell‘s American Hustle, the public was been concerned with one thing, and one thing only: Bradley Cooper‘s perm. And rightfully so. Though the trailer and some stills have shown it off in context of the film, new character sheets are letting us get a look at the thing up close and personal, along with rest of the cast in all their seventies glory. American Hustle focuses on the infamous ABSCAM operation, in which a con artist (Christian Bale) and his mistress/partner in the scam (Amy Adams) are forced to team up with a federal agent (Cooper) to catch other criminals. But because this is the seventies, there is a whole lot of debauchery and side-boob going on to distract them from their goals.

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talladega nights 16

With Rush out in theaters, we wanted to revisit another racing classic of two bitter rivals whose competition drove them to not only be better drivers but also better people. That’s right, we are talking about Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which sees the title character (Will Ferrell) face many obstacles on his quest to prove he is the best race car driver in NASCAR all while being pitted against his polar opposite, French driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Coehn). Where Ricky is sponsored by Wonder Bread, Jean is sponsored by Perrier. Ricky is married to “stone cold fox” Carley (Leslie Bibb) while Jean is married to world-class German Shepherd trainer Gregory (Andy Richter). But the major difference between these two drivers is Ricky truly loves to race whereas Jean is starting to find himself drawn to other pursuits — you know, things like training Komodo dragons in Sri Lanka and teaching them to perform Hamlet. Talladega Nights is classic Ferrell taking on a caricature of not only NASCAR drivers but also the world that, uh, drives this sport. Neither Ricky Bobby nor Talladega Nights ever hesitate to dive head first into stereotypes, but it also immediately takes the wind out of those ideas without coming across as preaching. Ferrell leads the charge, but the entire cast is hilarious and prove that no one in the film is just there as set dressing. Everyone has a punch line to deliver. Join us as we look at ten of our favorite scenes from the movie below.

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amy-adams-normal

We’ve been hearing that Amy Adams was going to star in a biopic of legendary drug monster/songstress Janis Joplin called Get It While You Can for quite a while now. We’ve been hearing about it since July, 2010, to be exact. Up until this point it’s proved to be one of those projects that keeps getting mentioned but never actually goes into production though. Somewhere around the fall of 2012 it was said that Precious director Lee Daniels was negotiating to make the movie, which seemed like it could be the thing that finally got it moving, but ultimately nothing came from the deal. Or, at least, nothing came from the deal until now. Now that Daniels’ latest film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, has come out, had a decent showing at the box office, and avoided creating any controversies surrounding anyone getting peed on, it’s looking like Daniels has once again solidified his position as a maker of studio movies—so it stands to reason that he’s going to have to pick a project to do next. Well, in an interview he recently did with THR, Daniels revealed that not only is he still attached to make that Joplin pic with Amy Adams, but that he now intends on making it his next job.

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her trailer

Spike Jonze returns from a four-year hiatus from filmmaking to fuck us all up with the trailer for Her, the story of a woe-begotten Joaquin Phoenix who falls in love with the AI in his computer, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. It’s dreamy, creepy, uncomfortable, and like the poster proclaims: it’s a Spike Jonze love story. Heartbroken Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) decides to cheer himself up with a fancy new operating system that promises to be incredibly intuitive and unique to each user. What he gets is “Samantha,” a chipper female voice who interacts with him as a friend and confidant, and who seems to grow more lifelike every day. Samantha is the woman of Theodore’s dreams, and it’s unsettling how easily you find yourself rooting for the “couple” in the trailer when you see him laughing and smiling through hazy shots of sunshine and blue skies. But just as soon as the happiness appears, reality kicks in when it’s a phone that Theodore is twirling with on the beach and, you know, not a human lady. Dammit, Jonze! The trailer only continues to spiral and become more sinister from there as Samantha becomes more sentient and their relationship gets more “serious.” I’m just worried about getting emotionally invested in a story about a man and a computer program. Check out the trailer below and see what you think.

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Man of Steel

It has happened before and it will happen again – the Internet rumor perpetual-motion machine got some stuff wrong about Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. While Snyder doesn’t ascribe to something even remotely like J.J. Abrams’ “Mystery Box” way of hiding information (including the barest of facts) about his films, fans of Superman have been so revved up about the new Henry Cavill-starring film for so long that it’s understandable that a ton of rumors would be cooked up about the film before and during its production. After all, who wouldn’t expect to see Lex Luthor in a Superman film? In the wake of the film actually being released in theaters, let’s recap eleven big rumors about Man of Steel that got root on the interwebs (either via traditional reportage or speculative message boards) and have now been proven to be patently false. While a few of these have already been debunked, the release of the film finally signals the most formal of debunkings for all of them. Fortunately for fans of Supes, most of these are rumors we definitely didn’t want to see pan out (even if they did take some serious chatter wing for a bit there), at least in a newly rebooted origin story. Of course, there are tons of spoilers ahead for anyone who has yet to see Man of Steel, so beware.

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Lois Lane

Warning: there are spoilers ahead for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Haven’t seen the movie yet? Go see it, then come on back. It’s long been the running gag of the Superman universe – that the world’s populace and his closest friends are unable to comprehend that Superman and Clark Kent are one in the same, only one of them happens to be wearing glasses. While it is somewhat conceivable that Supes’ fans and Clark’s acquaintances are too knuckle-headed to see the truth (particularly in the early days of his existence, as we suspect that modern day Superman will have some major problems when it comes to social media, smart phones, and citizen reportership), it’s always been dunderheaded that Superman’s perennial love interest, Lois Lane, is consistently in the dark as to who is who. The main issue with the lovely Lois not seeing the obvious is that she is not only a highly intelligent woman, she is a woman who investigates things for a living. Rooting out truths and seeing beyond the status quo is not only what Lois does, but it’s who she is. Open your eyes, Lois! In traditional Superman comic history, Lois first became suspicious of Clark Kent’s true identity (or Superman’s true identity, whichever, really) back in the Golden Age of DC Comics. Lois, like Superman, was first introduced in Action Comics #1 in 1938, though she didn’t start putting the Clark/Supes pieces together until sometime in the early 1940’s. To get into the rest […]

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Drinking Games

Nominated for three Oscars, The Master was a passion project for director P.T. Anderson. It pulled the veil back on a fictionalized account of Scientology as well as proving that Joaquin Phoenix can secure award nominations for any role in which he beats up plumbing. Thought not entirely mainstream, it was a darling of art-house film fans, and The Master also prominently features homemade booze as a subplot and symbol. This is enough of an excuse to knock back a few drinks while watching the film’s crisp transfer on Blu-ray or DVD.

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oscar13_supportingactress

When it comes to acting categories, especially supporting, predicting who’s going to come away with the Academy Award is always a much easier bet than, say, Best Picture or Director. Looking over the past few years, there haven’t been many upsets when it comes to supporting categories. Based on this year’s list of nominees, expect the same results. All the critically lauded films are represented here. So, before we get into the breakdown of the nominees, here is a shout out to a few actresses who were overlooked during this awards season: Emily Blunt (Looper), Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty), Ann Dowd (Compliance), and Lauren Ambrose (Sleepwalk with Me). Whether it’s because they’re in sci-fi film or a little seen indie, none of them received the recognition they deserved. But these actresses did. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress with my predicted winner in red…

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Louis CK

What is Casting Couch? It’s the column that’s rounding up all the casting announcements the studios have released now that the buzz surrounding the Golden Globes has died down. They’ve been hoarding. Before his show on FX became such a well-respected thing, people thought of Louis CK mostly as being a stand-up comedian and not really as an actor, despite the fact that he’s shown up in a few small roles here and there. That might be about to change though, because not only does CK  star in Woody Allen’s upcoming movie, Blue Jasmine, but THR is reporting that he’s also in talks to join David O. Russell’s next project: that con-man movie starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams that used to be called American Bullshit. If CK’s involvement becomes official, it will see him rubbing onscreen elbows with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, which is probably going to feel a little weird at first.

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On the Road Movie

Editor’s note: On the Road cruises into limited release this Friday, so put your brains into gear and enjoy this re-run of our Cannes review, originally published on May 23, 2012. Some books demand adaptation, offering immediate and easily translatable promise as film projects, whether that is thanks to the power of the plot, or characters or certain ideas that would lead to a looser adaptation. Jack Kerouac‘s seminal “On The Road” is not one of those books – like the work of James Joyce, the book is explicitly literary, its content inherently bound by its form and its author so fundamentally a writer before a storyteller that many, including myself, believed it to be unadaptable. In that context, the presence of Walter Salles‘ adaptation, imaginatively called On The Road, on the In Competition list here always stood out as an intriguing prospect. How would the director who made that other road movie The Motorcycle Diaries cope with the very specific problem of adapting something that is so explicitly literary? The answer, unfortunately, is not well. For a tale which so obviously values hedonism and free expression, On The Road is ultimately joyless and unengaging, and for a self-discovering road movie to fudge the journey so much and lose almost all lasting meaning is downright criminal.

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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Amy Adams

Though it might have seemed like the Amy Adams-starring Janis Joplin biopic, Get It While You Can, was permanently stalled out after years of back and forth, THR now reports that its gotten fresh life thanks to the addition of a new director. The outlet reports that recently-revitalized Precious helmer Lee Daniels is currently in talks to direct the tragic rock n’ roll film, with Adams still set to star in the project (whole years after her first attachment). The script has been penned by producer Ron Terry and his wife Theresa Kounin-Terry. Adams has been attached to star in the film since back in July of 2010, when Fernando Meirelles was set to direct the project. At one point, Catherine Hardwicke was also once rumored for the directing gig. The film will be independently financed, but THR also reports rumors that “there have been preliminary talks with Focus Features about coming on board, though no deal has been made.” With such a named cast and crew, Get It probably won’t stay indie for too long. Get It While You Can is, however, not the only Joplin film in the works. A Joplin biopic has long been a passion project for producer Peter Newman, and after cycling through its own differing incarnations, Newman’s film recently started to come together this summer, with the addition of Martha Marcy May Marlene director Sean Durkin and star Nina Arianda. Much like those “dueling” Jeff Buckley biopics, it will be interesting to see which […]

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David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper

In a nice bit of Friday confirmation clean-up, Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures have just circulated a press release that firms up a spat of casting buzz we’ve long been reporting on. The release confirms that David O. Russell‘s formerly-titled American Bullshit (which is currently looking for a perhaps more marketing-friendly title) will star Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams, along with a somewhat unexpected Christian Bale. Russell is writing the film’s screenplay with scribe Eric Warren Singer, who first wrote his own original script for the project (a script that appeared on the 2012 Black List with the title American Bullshit). The press release also provides our first official synopsis of the film, which we’ve long known would revolve around the true story of an F.B.I.-launched sting attack aimed at rooting out corruption on Congress, one that was notably conceived of by “the world’s greatest con man.”

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A week or so ago, our Christopher Campbell wrote a piece posing the burning question: What is the Meaning of The Master? The fact is, he isn’t the only one asking. Some have harshly compared writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson to the film’s “titular” cult leader, believing Anderson also has no clue what he’s trying to say. Campbell theorized, “Maybe the reality is that there is nothing there. And yet maybe that lack of meaning is in fact its meaning,” but then went on to discount that interpretation of the film’s point, along with others. What is Anderson trying to say about religion? Is he saying, as Campbell speculates, that it’s all meaningless? In simple reality, to the obvious disappoint of many, is that Anderson is attempting to do no such thing. Even as it attempts ephemeral whatdoesitallmean-ness, The Master can be broken down to one simple sentence: a beautiful, tragic friendship between someone who has no interest in answers and a man who knows he has none of them. It’s solely a story of two distinct men, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Some could argue that’s too simplistic of a story for Paul Thomas Anderson, but Anderson has never been a “message” filmmaker. He’s always been a “relationship” filmmaker. The Master strives to be nothing more than another character study from Anderson told on a big, bold, beautiful canvas, not a hard-hitting critique of religion.

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