Captain Phillips

Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture

This is it. The big one. The most coveted award in Hollywood. The one only the greatest of the great win. You know the ones I mean. The Artist, The King’s Speech, Crash, Chicago, Million Dollar Baby. Classics, all of them. It reads like a list of the best films of the 2000s don’t you think? Right? Yeah? This year sees nine nominees up for Best Picture, and a whopping two thirds are films based on true stories. Perception is such that a basis in fact would be an advantage, but while playing real people helps actors win awards, only five films based on true stories have taken home Best Picture in the past two decades. I’m guessing this year will make six. As has been the case since the Academy opened this category to more than five nominees, we once again have a field of players stuffed with titles well out of their depths (sorry Nebraska), so while there are nine titles listed, there are realistically only three contenders. Keep reading for a look at all of this year’s nominees for Best Picture along with my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Editing

Sydney Pollack once likened film editing to sculpting, and he’s (of course) right. The Invisible Art is also like having a 10,000-piece puzzle to solve without knowing exactly what the final image is supposed to look like. You’re creating the puzzle while solving it. It’s a remarkable skill that blends technical prowess with creative ability and gut-level instinct. This year, the Oscar nominees in this field were able to successfully submerge us into the world of antebellum slavery, 1970s swagger, modern-day violence, 1980s epidemic rebellion and futuristic-feeling isolation. Read on to learn more about the nominees with my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Adapted Screenplay

Don’t tell anyone, but the screenplay categories, both original and adapted, remain the only Oscar contests that truly matter to me. It’s not just my respect for the written word or any personal interest I may have in the art form, instead it’s the understanding that the script is the singular basis from which every other element of a film builds. Adapted screenplays have the additionally daunting task of taking an existing creation, whether it be a book, article, or television show, and crafting something new, compact, and wholly its own. All but one of this year’s nominees are adapting a nonfiction memoir, while the fifth is a sequel. Keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay along with my predicted winner in red…

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Tom Hanks

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Captain Phillips Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) knows his job captaining freighters through dangerous waters is a risky endeavor, but the pay is well worth the very slight possibility of pirates. At least it was before pirates board and take control of the ship. From that point on Phillips finds himself struggling to keep himself and the crew alive. Director Paul Greengrass‘ latest film is based on a true story, but even if you know the outcome it remains a suspenseful and exciting adventure. Acting is strong across the board (and on-board), but the highlight is Hanks delivering the most authentic and affecting five minutes of the past several years. You’ll know it when you see it, and your eyes will wet themselves. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of]

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Oscars 2014

Hopefully you’re all wearing your tuxedos and evening gowns because, as we all know, Thursday morning before sunrise is the best time to get fancy. Feel no shame about that 5am martini. Unless it’s your fourth. Because you’re behind. And you might need something strong for the announcement of the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards.

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Captain Phillips

It started in January, like many movie-related things do, in a small movie theater in Park City, Utah. The Sundance Film Festival is the traditional kick-off point for new movies, artfully positioned during the first month of the year (which is a damn fine starting point for just about anything), approximately when movie lovers are starting to shake off the stupor of an awards season that’s still not quite done and exactly when the regular box office is flooded with some not-so-good stuff (I’ll be returning to non-Sundance life just as I, Frankenstein opens in theaters, and that does not please me in the slightest). To me, Sundance is the perfect film festival, with a slate that combines known talent, emerging names, and wholly unpredictable new quantities. It’s the place to go to find something new that you can talk about all year, even if it finding the latest diamond in the rough involves plenty of guesswork and keeping your eyes and ears open for good buzz. Which is all a very long way of saying that this year’s big Sundance hit, Fruitvale Station (back then, it was simply known as Fruitvale), was a last minute addition to my schedule, a shoehorned-in selection that I made time for simply because everyone told me I had to make time for it. And that’s why I found myself, in January, in a small movie theater in Park City, Utah, crying my eyes out. It was a new thing, and one that set […]

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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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2013 Performer of the Year

When it came time to pick our 2013 Performer of the Year it would have been easy enough to use last year’s entry as a template and simply give it to Matthew McConaughey again. His tremendous 2012 rolled seamlessly into an equally fantastic 2013 with a stand-out lead performance in Dallas Buyers Club, an equally impressive supporting role in Mud, and a scene-stealing turn in The Wolf of Wall Street. The acclaim is likely to continue through 2014 with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and HBO’s True Detective series both ready to thrill fans and critics alike. But we’re not in the business of being easy, so we decided to go a bit more obscure with our pick. Our 2013 Performer of the Year is a five-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner whose films have grossed over $8.5 billion worldwide, and his name is Tom Hanks. (I don’t actually know what “obscure” means.) Hanks had two films released this year, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, and after more than a decade out of Oscar’s limelight he’s back in a big way. Not only is he winning accolades for his performances, but he’s also seen his first live-action film to pass the $100 million mark at the box-office in over four years (eleven years if you ignore Dan Brown adaptations). The number one reason we’ve chosen him, though, is that regardless of awards or box office, Hanks’ performance in the final ten minutes of Captain Phillips is as good as acting gets […]

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Into Silence Header

Captivity/survivor narratives are hardly unfamiliar to our movie screens, and such films tend to come in bunches. Three years ago, for instance, both Buried and 127 Hours boasted solo or near-solo performances from two rising Hollywood stars who spent the duration of their films as the solitary face we see. But last month brought a prominent and concentrated group of such films, all met with overwhelmingly good reviews, promising major performances from their leading survivor types, and coasting on significant awards buzz. While each film explores near misses, false moments of possible redemption, the necessary instance of despair, and ultimately an incredible optimism in the possibility for human beings to survive a conflagration of elements that work overwhelmingly against them, each of these films go about this differently. Yet the major factor connecting J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost, Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is that they all stage humans’ fraught relationship to nature through the problems and failures of human commerce and its attendant production of waste. Their respective fights with or on the landscape of nature, in other words, are inaugurated by the failure of humans to wield their own devices.

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stolen_seas_press

Somali piracy is a hot topic of late. Captain Phillips, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks, is only the latest of several movies to come out this year alone that deals with the subject. Danish import A Hijacking also made waves with its release, while the subject of today’s Doc Option didn’t leave much of an impression when it quietly premiered in January. Nonetheless, Stolen Seas is a greatly informative picture of this issue, especially for anyone who only knows of it through Time magazine articles and the like. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Captain Phillips

A boat at sea is a pretty rich place to explore ideology. Bear with me here. The sea, by assumption, bears no visible national borders, no unified language, no tactile culture for human beings. Yet humans travel the sea, conquer it, capitalize on it. Our use of the sea is in no way apolitical, yet an endless horizon subject to the laws of nature conveys something essential, a visage that suggests a false, elusive neutrality. The sea simultaneously erases and amplifies the distinctions we’ve made between ourselves on land. Much has been already discussed about the ideological implications Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips. What to make of a popular piece of entertainment that is, at least in part, about global inequality? Are the systemic factors that motivate Somali piracy ignored? If not, might audiences still interpret the film in a simplistic hero v. villain binary de rigueur of Hollywood entertainment? Is the film, as Dana Stevens observes, “a tragedy about the ruinous consequences of global capitalism” or is it, as Andrew O’Hehir argues, “a disturbing celebration of American military power”? Perhaps a film like Captain Phillips, by virtue of its setting and narrative, can be seen as a vessel of ideology that, at the same time, investigates the core processes by which our political identities and assumptions come into realization.

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Tom Hanks

Editor’s note: Kate’s review of Captain Phillips originally ran during this year’s NYFF, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in theatrical release today. Side note, it’s the best film currently playing in wide release. Go see it. Early on in Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, the eponymous Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) reads an email advisory from Maersk, the multinational business conglomerate that owns his vessel, that includes detailed information about incidents of high seas piracy in the exact area his Maersk Alabama happens to be sailing through on its way to Kenya. Phillips is already aware of the risks, and he’s taken precautions – later that day, he’ll even request his crew perform a series of safety drills – but all the warnings in the world won’t change his fate, and they certainly won’t remove the audience’s knowledge of what is coming. Based on the true story of the Maersk Alabama hijacking and the real Captain Phillips’ book on the subject, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea,” Greengrass’ film is tasked with delivering a moderately fictionalized portrayal of a highly publicized event, and the final product is a wonderfully tension-filled and surprisingly even-handed version of events. Hanks excels in the leading role, effectively portraying an everyman trapped in extraordinary circumstances, and Greengrass’ action-savvy direction pairs perfectly with both his story and his lead actor.

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All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

If you’re seething with unreleased rage and only know three guitar chords, there are a ton of options for you at theaters this week. From the boys finally loving Mandy Lane to Machete continuing his fight against good taste (which must have done something terrible to his family), and from Captain Phillips fighting back against pirates to William Faulkner rising from the grave to strangle James Franco, there are an unhealthy amount of victimized people taking up arms against a sea of bullies. Naturally, vengeful ghosts and an evil Disneyland come into play as well. On the punk rock side, there’s Green Day battling Broadway and a poorly-lip-synced attempt at telling the story of an iconic haunt that never played bluegrass music. There’s also a lot more going on in a week with a massive amount of movies. Here’s your trailer-ized guide to what’s coming out:

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phillips

If you thought the trailer for Captain Phillips looked promising, likely a large part of what sold you on it is the brief glimpses it gives us of the exciting sequence where the ship of the title character (played by Tom Hanks) is boarded by a crew of desperate and dangerous-looking Somali pirates. The whole story is based off of extraordinary real-life events, and even from those small glimpses it becomes clear that the penchant for action filmmaking director Paul Greengrass showed in his Bourne movies as well as the talent for shooting documentary-style accounts of real life danger he showed in United 93 both came in handy as he was realizing this film. Simply put, Captain Phillips looks like it’s going to be some serious shit, and now the film has just released a couple of extendo-clips of the scene where the pirates take over the ship in order to convince you that the words “based on a true story” don’t always have to lead to a movie being a melodramatic snoozefest. Sure, Captain Phillips is bound to feature some hand-wringing, but it clearly has some Under Siege flavor going on in it as well. Click through to check it out.

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Gravity

It’s October, which means awards season has officially commenced. Last month gave us a taste with Ron Howard’s Rush, Hugh Jackman yelling in Prisoners, and, last but not least, Luc Besson’s The Family. Maybe not that last one so much, but the other two weren’t a shabby way to kick things off. This month has two movies in particular that should blow socks off while also causing a few tears to flow in the process. They’re the obvious suspects, but they both pack awfully heavy punches. There’s also a little talked about science-fiction-ish movie you may want to check out this weekend as well… But there’s more than three movies to see this month. So, without further ado, here are the ten must-see movies of October 2013:

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Tom Hanks

Film festival season is off and running, what with TIFF wowing the international crowds with all its surefire award season contenders and Fantastic Fest blowing a hole a mile wide in the great Texas sky of genre flicks, and before we can even catch our breath (or rest our tired, tired eyes), the New York Film Festival is ready to blast us with still more wonderful films. We’re tired, but we’re also excited. Film festival feelings are complicated. NYFF kicks off later this week with the highly anticipated premiere of Captain Phillips. For the next two weeks, Gotham will be inundated with a murderer’s row of big time films – from buzzy titles from Cannes and TIFF to premieres of fresh new features, all the way up to some of the biggest (and yet to be seen!) films of the awards season. With plenty of films we’ve been wanting to see for months (and, in some cases, years) now, NYFF is looking pretty swanky this year, and we can’t wait to dive right in. Until then, here are ten films we’re most looking forward to seeing (and we think you’ll agree).

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Tom Hanks

There’s a new trailer online for Paul Greengrass‘ Captain Phillips, so if you’ve been feeling any urges to see Tom Hanks sport a wicked goatee and a somewhat-believable Southern accent (or you just want to see him face off against a band of Somali pirates), do yourself a favor and check it out. This trailer and the previous one open more or less with the same footage (minus a shot and a line of dialogue here and there), but about halfway through, this new trailer veers off into uncharted territory. The rest of the footage is all based around Phillips’ relationship with the lead pirate, and their time together in the lifeboat where the hostage situation famously ended. Frankly, it’s exciting stuff. Every conversation has the potential to launch its characters into panicked violence, and the trailer’s last few moments tease the standoff’s end (even if some of the quicker cuts are a little incomprehensible). It doesn’t even seem to matter so much that this trailer walks us through entire story; something that’s become far too frequent nowadays. Much of this is just a continuation of what we saw in that first trailer. Yet there’s one new element here that’s absolutely, 100% brand-new, and that’s the trailer’s sympathetic eye towards its lead pirate. Captain Phillips doesn’t portray him as a bloodthirsty agent of random violence. Instead, he’s just a guy whose hand was forced a long, long time ago. He’s not a pirate by choice. It’s his only life choice. Check […]

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trailer captain phillips

Pirates have made a big comeback in recent years thanks to the lawless activities happening off the coast of Somalia, but while we hear of multiple hijackings and kidnappings from the region they rarely involve American citizens. One of the exceptions though occurred in 2009 when the American cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama was attacked and boarded by pirates. Paul Greengrass is bringing the story to the big screen as his first film since 2010′s Green Zone, and the first trailer promises a thrilling real-life drama happily free of politics. Having Tom Hanks in your title role never hurts either. Check out the first trailer for Captain Phillips below.

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