Blue Jasmine

Oscar Predictions 2014: Original Screenplay

The Best Original Screenplay Oscar is one category that, despite all the issues with the Academy Awards, seems to make at least some gestures in terms of actually honoring the craft recognized: in this case, the artistry of character-building, dialogue, and storytelling. This is the award that beloved smaller films tend to win, while their more trumpeting competitors take home The Big One. These are the films that defy the screenplay’s almost uniform use as a blueprint, and treat film writing as a form of literature on its own. It would seem at first glance that this year’s Best Original Screenplay award is a particularly competitive category. After all, it hosts quite a pedigree specific to this award, where movies by Spike Jonze, Alexander Payne, and Woody Allen have all enjoyed successful recognition before. But make no mistake: this is American Hustle’s to lose. An upset isn’t impossible, but this is perhaps one of the most locked categories this year. But let’s take a look at how the five nominees shake out, with my surprise winner predicted in red…

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Kinostarts - "Dallas Buyers Club"

All we need now is for Shia Labeouf to streak across the stage of the Dolby Theatre during the 2014 Academy Awards, copying Robert Opel’s famous stunt of 40 years ago as a bold bit of promotion for Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, to make this year’s event possibly the most controversy-laden of all time. Or throw in an honorary Oscar for Roman Polanski, give another special tribute to Elia Kazan or give Best Picture to a Frank Capra film. Let Michael Moore on stage to criticize Obama, Sacheen Littlefeather to protest The Lone Ranger‘s nomination and have Rob Lowe back to ruin his resurrected career by dancing this time with all of the Disney princesses. Actually, we’re probably pretty set with controversies for the 86th Academy Awards show, which will be held only three weeks from now. From a nominee’s disqualification to the usual issues with documentary contenders, from complaints about a specific drama’s depiction of and its actors’ sensitivity to the LGBT population to problems with one of the Academy’s most recognized filmmakers, we might be in store for some extra picketing or contentious remarks or any number of other surprises on March 2nd. Let’s look at what we’ve got so far in the controversy basket below. 

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2013review_culture

When Roger Ebert passed away in April of this year, one quote that made significant rounds was his assertion that, “I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.” It would be easy to extract this quote as a solitary, general observation on the value of empathy, bereft of its cinematically specific context. Some liked to see Ebert’s overt progressive politics as separate from his evaluation of films, but in fact the two were inextricably linked. The source of this quote, in fact, came from Ebert’s overview of Cannes in 2010, in which he discussed what a diverse array of art films like Lee-Chang Dong’s Poetry and Mike Leigh’s Another Year collectively offered despite their evident differences. The full quote reads as follows: These aren’t all masterpieces, although some are, but they’re all Real Movies. None follows a familiar story arc. All involve intense involvement with their characters. All do something that is perhaps the most important thing a movie can do: They take us outside our personal box of time and space, and invite us to empathize with those of other times, places, races, creeds, classes and prospects. I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization. If empathy is the most essential quality of a civilization, as Ebert makes the case for, then movies which invite the viewer to have an empathetic experience become far more than “just movies,” but “Real Movies” – that is, devices that shape a compassionate worldview which acknowledges the unique experience […]

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12 Years a Slave

Awards season at the movies should just be called something else, like “The Glut” or “The Influx” or “You’re Never Going To See All The Films You Want To (And Should),” but some wily studios are capitalizing on audiences’ inability to see everything right away by re-releasing (or majorly expanding) favorite features that have been hanging around the multiplex for awhile now. It’s not a unique thing to do, and it does tend to happen in fits and starts every year, but it certainly seems to be a release strategy that’s getting some legs when it comes to the big contenders (remember back in 2011 when Sarah’s Key got a re-release to build buzz? Remember how you’d never even heard of the film and that last minute push didn’t change that? That’s not happening these days). As of now, at least three big contenders are fixing for limited theatrical re-releases (including 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, and Blue Jasmine), but we have a few ideas about three other films that deserve the same treatment, or at least another shot at big screen enjoyment.

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The Movies of August 23

We aren’t the only ones beating this particular drum. It very well could be the best weekend for movie releases all year. From indie darlings to the final event movies of the summer, in every genre, this weekend features some of the most interesting, engaging, thrilling and downright entertaining releases we’ve seen in all of 2013. To further explore this point, allow us to run you down the list of releases (in varying degrees of wide and limited engagements) with some comments to help fuel the fire.

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recap072713

The Reject Recap is back following a week off for the takeover of Comic-Con coverage. Of course, now that Comic-Con coverage is the main focus of the latest review of Hollywood’s biggest news and FSR’s greatest original content. Fortunately and unfortunately, some other notable announcements came out in the past seven days that had nothing to do with San Diego’s fanboy event. For instance, we lost actor Dennis Farina. Also, we pretty much lost all possibility of a Freddie Mercury/Queen movie. Meanwhile, we considered new directions (for better or worse) of such iconic characters as Wolverine, Rocky Balboa and Spike Lee. And we’ve been having panic attacks just from watching a few clips from one of the most anticipated films out later this year. As always, we’ve rounded up the most significant bits of what everyone’s been talking about — or should have been talking about — over the past week. There was the announcement of the latest Toronto International Film Festival slate (with its Oscar-coveting titles), the release of a new Woody Allen movie and, yes, the excitement over possibly seeing Batman and Superman kick the crap out of each other. Here’s your chance to get caught up so you’re not clueless at all of tonight’s parties. Because you know there’s likely to be some discussion of The Act of Killing and its representation of violence. Or there should be, and now you’ll be able to bring it up and be the life of the occasion. Start your weekend […]

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Blue Jasmine

The first thing you’re likely to hear from a fan of Woody Allen’s new film, Blue Jasmine, is that star Cate Blanchett is amazing (because she is) and that the perpetually Oscar-worthy actress turns in yet another Oscar-worthy performance in the auteur’s black as night comedy. The second thing you’re likely to hear from that same fan is that co-star Sally Hawkins is also amazing and that she proves herself adept at supporting the work Blanchett does while also imperceptibly straddling the line between comedy and drama with her own performance. Blue Jasmine, on a whole, lives and dies at the hand of its two central female performances – so it’s good news that Blanchett and Hawkins are both more than up to the task at hand, but it’s even better news that the film’s male-dominated supporting cast is also tremendous. A fairy tale about the 1%, Blue Jasmine sees Blanchett as the eponymous Jasmine, disgraced Park Ave. housewife and social gadfly, who decamps from Manhattan after her husband (Alec Baldwin) hits her with the one-two punch of “I’m leaving you for the nanny” (not even their nanny! Someone else’s nanny!) and “Also, I was running a Ponzi scheme and am now going to jail and, oops, now you’re impoverished.” Unskilled, mortified, and slipping into psychosis, Jasmine heads west to the only family she has left, her sister Ginger (Hawkins), who has more than enough problems of her own. The film unfolds thanks to a back-and-forth narrative that flits between […]

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Pacific Rim

We’re now halfway done with the summer movie season, and thus far, it’s been a good one. This month is the most exciting of the bunch, as July usually is, but June was no slouch. Man of Steel wowed audiences while dividing critics, but best of all, World War Z became the surprise, if modest, hit of the summer. Not only that, director Marc Forster proved the negative buzz wrong with a clever and efficient action thriller. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for White House Down. Shame on me for not including it on last month’s list, because, according to plenty of trusted sources, it’s a boatload of fun. I still haven’t had the time to see it for myself, but it sounds like the type of self-aware, focused blockbuster Roland Emmerich‘s career has been building up to. Thankfully people turned out for This is the End, so Sony has that going for them. Let’s hope none of these must-see films of July meet the same box-office fate as the rocket launcher-wielding president:

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bluejasmine

If a movie was written and directed by Woody Allen, you can pretty much guarantee that its main character is going to be a basket case who’s plagued with neuroses. But while there’s always a dark twinge to the way human beings create compulsions around their past traumas, Allen is famous for being able to look at our foibles from a slanted enough angle to make them funny, even while they’re tearing us apart. His new movie, Blue Jasmine, may see Allen working closer to the dark end of that floating scale that goes from funny to troubling, however, because the work that Cate Blanchett is doing in the new trailer for the film looks to be too raw nerve and edgy to fit alongside much of the patented Woody Allen aloofness that we’ve become familiar with over the course of his career. What happens when a rich and snooty New Yorker loses all of her money and is forced to go stay with her sister in the Earthy, pot smoke-clouded confines of San Francisco? Turns out she breaks down, hard, and though there’s obviously laughs to be had due to her ridiculous behavior, some of her fall can get rough to watch.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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