Dallas Buyers Club

2014 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees Cartoon

A hijacking, the search for a child, a con game, an AIDS activist, a hometown reunion, a space exploration, a hunt for freedom, a genuine artificial love, and a wolf. These were the stories we told in 2013. Scratch that. These were some of the stories we told in 2013. The Oscars are an annual reminder that our focus has been reduced from hundreds of movies down to a few. It’s also a reminder that there is artistic work worth celebrating — beyond hype, beyond internal politics, beyond surface-level silliness — every year. We’re awash in it. Dozens  of titles that won’t even be name-dropped tonight. Inside and outside the ceremony’s spotlight, there are a powerful amount of brilliant films. There are so many amazing movies in existence that we don’t have enough time in a life to watch them all. That sounds slightly depressing (especially for completists), but it’s really a silver lining on top of a silver lining. It’s a non-stop parade of outstanding. Now, as we watch a few of the movies (out of a few of the movies) earn gold, it’s important to remember that the full list of stories being told reaches to the moon and back. We’ll be updating this post with the winners as they come in throughout the night. Here are the winners of the 86th Academy Awards.

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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: 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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discs cutie and the boxer

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Cutie and the Boxer Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko have been together for 45 years, but it hasn’t been the easiest of roads. He was a 41 year old art sensation in NYC when the 19-year-old art student met and fell in love with him, and while the time since has seen them struggle and live the life of starving artists, he has always remained at the top of the relationship. This doc looks at the couple, their love and art, and the sacrifices that are sometimes necessary in pursuit of your dreams. Zachary Heinzerling‘s intimate documentary began life focused on Ushio’s life and art, but somewhere along the line, Noriko’s story, both of her art and of her love for her husband, took over the narrative. The result is not only a fascinating look at two artists’ lives but also an incredibly honest exploration of the cost of love, creativity, and persistence. Ushio is a real character, but Noriko is a real person. I’m now in love with a 64-year-old Japanese woman. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

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mcconaugheytampa

As I’m sure you’re aware, Matthew McConaughey is currently experiencing His Moment. Seemingly resurrected from the depths of bankable but critically ill-regarded romantic comedies, McConaughey is now headlining a gritty new HBO series, briefly stealing a scene in a Scorsese movie from fellow Best Actor nominee Leo DiCaprio, taking the lead in a characteristically ambitious and mysterious new Christopher Nolan movie, and, of course, cementing it all with an Oscar nomination and plenty of momentum to take home the statue in March. The fascinating turn of events that have occurred in the former Sahara star’s career since 2011, aka “The McConaissance,” is catnip for people who enjoy treating Hollywood seriously: it represents a tacit recognition by the star of the inherent limitations of Hollywood, and an attempt to transcend them; it evinces a star aware of his own public persona, who is seeking out roles that play with, and even subvert, that persona; and this particular star’s devotion to truly off-beat roles has made for something far more interesting than conventional career “comebacks” a la your Travolta, Rourke, or Downey, Jr. An Oscar for McConaughey would likely represent the apotheosis of the actor’s decisive shift in creative effort, a reward for his calculated and compelling career “redemption.” But McConaughey’s recognition for Dallas Buyers Club shows how even the most surprising of career moves are recognized for their most conventional and least surprising moments.

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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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Emma Thompson 2014 Golden Globes

Another Golden Globes is behind us, and what have we learned? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is full of surprises. Do they really think Jon Voight is great in Ray Donovan, or will they simply always love him for making Angelina Jolie? Speaking of whom, she and husband Brad Pitt were very much missed this year, even with Pitt getting the last shoutout of the night in appreciation for all he did for getting 12 Years a Slave produced — didn’t the show basically end like the awards ceremony equivalent of that controversial Italian poster for the movie? I may have done really embarrassingly awful with my predictions this year — 11 out of 15 total, 6 out of 14 for movies and 5 out 11 for television — so we’ll see if I’m allowed to do that again next year. Hopefully my live-tweeting was more successful. Give me some feedback, positive or scathing. And also see if you agree with my picks for the best parts of this year’s ceremony and telecast 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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2013review_music

This year brought moviegoers an array of music that ranged from uplifting (About Time “How Long Will I Love You”) to depressing (The Great Gatsby‘s “Young and Beautiful”) to catchy (Inside Llewyn Davis‘ “Please Mr. Kennedy”) to nostalgic (Saving Mr. Banks‘ “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”) to just plain out there (Spring Breakers‘ “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”). Whether it was a film about throwing (or attending) the best party of your life or one about intense family drama, the music pushed stories to new heights, whether it was an Alien rapping on the beach or two mothers pushing their children to the breaking point. Film music is no longer just orchestration and catchy pop songs – it is dubstep and bands you would normally hear on the radio taking to the conductor’s stand. Simply put – it is an exciting time for music in film because there are no rules. Now it’s time to relive some of the best music moments from this past year with scores from composers new to the scene and those continuing to churn out groundbreaking music, as well as soundtracks that featured songs from bands and artists who discovered new talents while collaborating.

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Frozen

By now you’ve likely already heard about the debacle surrounding a Frozen screening at a multiplex in Pinellas Park, Florida in which a house full of parents and children were subjected to “sexually explicit content.” After some family-friendly trailers followed by Get a Horse (Disney’s short attached to Frozen), some sensitive material reportedly graced the screen for two awkward minutes. One patron recalls shielding her son’s eyes but preventing him from being able to “get the sound down real good.” Patrons were given free tickets and an official apology by the Park Place Stadium 16. Sites across the web covering the incident seem to have all agreed that the sounds in question were from the NSFW trailer for Lars von Trier’s customarily controversial and much-covered new film Nymphomaniac, a rumor that apparently originated from a comment on MoshNews‘s coverage. But is it actually plausible that a multiplex owned by Regal Cinemas would “accidentally” show a shocking trailer for a limited release film that doesn’t even have a US opening date? While misplaced trailers, out-of-order reels, and showing a film on the wrong screen was commonplace in the stone age of projecting films on film, in the era of digital projection such a thing is pretty much impossible.

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Dallas Buyers Club

Editor’s note: Our review of Dallas Buyers Club originally ran during this year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it now as the film expands into more theaters. Matthew McConaughey’s quest to establish himself as one of the finest, most committed actors of his generation (post-Fool’s Gold, of course) continues apace in Jean-Marc Vallee’s fact-based Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a Texas good old boy with a taste for women, rodeo, good times, and intravenous drugs. When Ron’s hard-partying lifestyle results in a very unexpected HIV positive diagnosis, his life changes completely (and in some very surprising ways, as predictable as that may sound). Set in the eighties, in a time when public misconceptions and misunderstandings about AIDS, HIV, and victims ran rampant, Dallas Buyers Club is tasked with turning Woodroof, an initially unlikable and unlikely hero, into a gutsy and brave protagonist. McConaughey doesn’t balk at playing up Ron’s least appealing features – a womanizer, a drug addict, and an opinionated asshole to the fullest extent, Ron’s diagnosis comes with a sense of inevitability. He’s been reckless with his life and body, and he’s paying for it in the most final way possible. Initially given thirty days to live, Ron’s hardened stubbornness and profound spite for the entire situation seemingly keeps him alive, especially after his illegally procured meds dry up.

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AMF_6986 (70 of 376).NEF

There are very few reviews out there for Dallas Buyers Club that don’t make mention of its stars’ Oscar chances. The movie is a real showcase for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto‘s two larger than life performances, to the point where the Academy could use virtually all of their scenes for their nomination clip. Our Kate Erbland described their performances as the best from Tiff, saying that “Dallas Buyers Club lives and dies on the strength of its two lead performances, and it’s a solid pairing of both good luck and pure talent that McConaughey and Leto bring their absolute best to a film that requires nothing less.” It also lives or dies on director Jean-Marc Vallée. The filmmaker behind C.R.A.Z.Y. knows how to capture those quality performances on an exceptionally tight deadline. Speaking with Vallée, he expressed appreciation for his two leading men, while also delving into how exactly he shot McConaughey, Leto, and co-star Jennifer Gardner’s performances. Here’s what Vallée had to say on the subject:

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How to Survive a Plague

Dallas Buyers Club is the newest award-show buzz-maker to hit movie theaters. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodruff, a real-life Texas good ol’ boy who in 1985 was diagnosed with AIDS and given a month to live. Woodruff was nothing if not resourceful, and he dove full-time into the underground market for drugs not approved by the FDA. He ended up living another seven years, during which time he ran the eponymous Dallas Buyers Club, which disseminated these quasi-legal treatments to other AIDS sufferers in the area. The film is both a standard Hollywood biopic and a standard Hollywood AIDS movie. It wraps a person’s life into an easily-unwrapped package (“He learned how to live! And overcame his prejudices!”) and at the same time uses people suffering from AIDS as an easy avenue for tragedy. McConaughey is stratospherically great in the movie, continuing his recent career uptick, but he’s the only thing remarkable about it. READ MORE

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Ender

The first weekend of November is hallmarked by a continuing wave of prestigious Oscar contenders and pockmarked by the chaff that studios are still dumping into a handful of contractually obligated theaters. How else do you explain Last Vegas and Dallas Buyers Club landing on the same week? Beyond those we’ve got a boy vying to be the last starfighter, a pair of biopics that look difficult to swallow and a ton of limited releases that show promise. Get up off your knees, reach for the stars, and check out the trailer-ized list of movies coming out this weekend.

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680x478-2

Yesterday we brought you a whole slew of stills featuring Matthew McConaughey as AIDS patient and activist Ron Woodroof in Jean-Marc Vallée‘s Dallas Buyers Club, and just a day later, his character comes to life in the trailer. Woodroof is a red-blooded, all-American Texas man who drives fast cars, smokes and gambles, and suffers from HIV. And when his doctor (Jennifer Garner) tells him he only has 30 days to live after giving him his prognosis, he finds that unacceptable, and sets out to Mexico to find better treatments for his awful disease. When he finds medicine far beyond what the FDA is willing to give him and his fellow patients, he sets up his own little business back in the states getting the people what they deserve. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Matthew McConaughey, in continuing his transition away from “alright alright alright” McConaughey, and into  “adult who wears clothes and makes adult choices” McConaughey,” is next starring in Jean-Marc Vallée‘s much talked-about Dallas Buyers Club. The film tells the true story of Ron Woodruff (McConaughey), an AIDS activist who suffered from the disease himself in the 1980s, a time when it was largely misunderstood and feared. Woodruff, after far outliving the 30-day life expectancy given to him by his doctor (Jennifer Garner), devotes his life to smuggling and selling treatments to HIV and AIDS patients who don’t have the time to wait for the government to help them. In the new stills released from the film, we get a good look at an extremely slimmed-down McConaughey as Woodruff, which has been talked about at great lengths in the press since the moment his casting was announced. As dangerous as starving himself was, McConaughey looks the part – it’s jarring. I sincerely hope he gorged himself on burritos while jamming on his bongos after shooting wrapped. In the various shots, as you can see, Woodruff negotiates with doctors, including a very concerned looking Garner, and appears to be making a few deals with potential buyers. The outfits are all on point for 1980’s Texas as well. Garner in the shot with McConaughey looks like the girl from a teen movie who would be beautiful at prom if only she would take off her glasses. Take a look:

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Dallas Roberts The Walking Dead

Sometimes Dallas Roberts ends up being more than two people in a 36-hour period. Like most actors, he’s used to switching between who he is without the cameras rolling to who he is when zombies are outside your blissful gated community, but he’s also a busy man who juggles just about every kind of acting work there is. Sometimes that means waking up one morning to play one role and waking up the next to play another. He’s made an impact in film and television over the past decade (most recently as the weak-livered Milton Mamet on The Walking Dead), and he’s also seen his fair share of the Off-Broadway stage.  Now that the third season of AMC’s undead apocalypse is over, Roberts will hit the big screen next in Shadow People and then (most likely) later this year with Dallas Buyers Club. No doubt he’ll be keeping more irons in the fire in the meantime. Fortunately, we were able to grab a few of his free minutes to talk about his goals as an actor and for him to explain the best place to go if you become a zombie.

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Han Solo

What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting news column that’s been talking way more about a movie based on a racing video game than it imagined it would be. Read on for more information. It’s bound to get pretty annoying following every rumor that pops up about the new Star Wars movie between now and 2015. But, let’s face it, when comments start getting thrown around about Harrison Ford playing Han Solo again, even vague rumors start to get pretty interesting. So, when Inside Movies announced that they have sources claiming that Ford has reversed his famously grumpy position on Star Wars being lame, and that he, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher are now all “upbeat” about more movies getting made, geeks everywhere instantly started salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. Let’s try to not let this Star Wars thing get out of hand—but Harrison Ford might play Han Solo again, y’all!

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Christoph Waltz

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily roundup of all the casting news you care about, and maybe (probably) one or two items you don’t. Some info has finally leaked about James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller’s upcoming sequel to The Muppets. Turns out it’s going to be a caper movie, somewhat along the lines of The Great Muppet Caper, but with more of an international flair. How international? So international that THR is reporting they’re closing in on signing Christoph Waltz to play one of the main, non-Muppet roles—that of an Interpol inspector. Other important parts for humans are said to include a Russian femme fatale and a male lead with mysterious intentions. Actors looking to land the part should start sending in their shifty-eyed head shots now.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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