Despicable Me 2

The Oscars

Welcome to our second annual event in which we look to our pets for the last word on Oscar predictions. As you may recall from last year, these aren’t just any pets, these are pets coincidentally named Oscar. Unfortunately, Kate’s cat named Oscar couldn’t be here this time. I think he’s boycotting on account of the cat from Inside Llewyn Davis being snubbed. But my dog Oscar (full name: Oscar the Groucho Marx Campbell) got into his tuxedo collar and made another go at it in spite of being only 2 for 10 last time. As it turns out, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be even worse this year. Let’s just say he went with a lot of underdogs, like June Squibb and Judi Dench plus Nebraska for Best Picture. It might actually be better to avoid his picks at all cost — though he did go with Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor — or maybe he thought he was supposed to eat the treat on the winner’s card last not first. For that possibility, I’m putting that last pick in each category as a possible alternative with better chances. You can check out the full list after the video of Oscar in action below. The music, if you’re curious, is an instrumental version of the nominated song “Happy” from Despicable Me 2.

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Animated Feature

Since its inception in 2001, the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature has been awarded to a wide range of movies. Though in recent years — 5 out of the last 6, to be exact — it’s basically been The Pixar Award. Despite the quality of the other contenders, Pixar seems to wrap it up without fail year-in and year-out. This year, there is no Pixar film nominated, leaving the field wide open for a bunch of newcomers. From cavemen to super-villains to ice princesses, this year’s group of nominees is diverse. But does that make it a more competitive field? We explore as we break down the nominees and predict a winner (shown in red).

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Original Song

This year’s nominees for Best Original Song come from four films that tackle very different subject matter – fighting an evil villain (with the help of some tiny yellow friends), finding love in unexpected ways, learning to accept who you are, and the story of a man who lived an extraordinary life. But there is one thing that unites all these songs: an uplifting spirit. Songs featured in films should capture the feeling of the film itself and all four of these nominations do just that in very different and compelling ways. Some will move you to tears where others will put a smile on your face, but the one thing all four will do is make you feel. The fact that all four nominees are going to be performed live by Pharell Williams, Karen O, Idina Menzel, and U2 promises this category’s presentation to be one of Oscar night’s best moments. We break down the nominees with my prediction of which song I think will win in red…

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Nightmare Before Christmas

First Smith, Soderbergh, Spielberg and Spike Lee, and now Henry Selick. The stop-motion master behind Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline is adding his name to an alliterative list complaining about the filmmaking industry and its risk-averse decision-making process. Selick took aim at Despicable Me 2, but by his own reckoning, could have been talking about any animated film these days. “It’s too homogenous. It’s way too much the same,” said Selick, “The films aren’t really that different one from the other. Despicable Me could have been made Pixar, by DreamWorks. It’s not a great time for feature animation if you want to do something even moderately outside the formula.” Selick also championed streaming as a possible new outlet for animators and had more strong words that echo the typical narrative — that Hollywood is broken because they’re betting too big on too many tentpoles, refusing anything that doesn’t fit neatly into their Channing Tatum-starring Profit and Earnings report. The director is certainly qualified to talk about the system shutting out creativity; his latest project, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book,” was dropped by Disney wholesale late last year and his Shadow King project came close to disappearing before an indie production house picked it back up.

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despicable-me-2

After all the handwringing over box office performance this week, everything played out just like everyone expected it would. With one little, yellow twist. Despicable Me 2 managed to beat out the newcomers with $44.7M. That adds to a pile of almost $500M worldwide that’s almost certainly being stacked in the shape of a 3. Meanwhile, Grown Ups 2 came in second with $42.5M, and Pacific Rim opened with $38.3M domestically (and $91.3M worldwide). So, as expected, the animated sequel with 1/3 less heart dominated, the close-to-comedy sequel with telephonic celebrities did strongly against its budget, and the big gamble original monster movie with zero name-stars and one-note advertising that made it look like a Transformers rip-off didn’t win. On the limited release front, Fruitvale Station did fine for itself with $377,000 from 7 theaters. [Box Office Mojo]

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Sound City Movie

July marks the middle of summer, but it also marks the half way point of each year which means half the movies you were looking forward to seeing this year have already hit theater screens! With so many major studio releases out each weekend (plus a healthy offering of indie fare) it can be overwhelming to try and remember what you’ve seen, what you wanted to see, and any unexpected titles that may have caught your eye, but you never got a chance to actually sit down and check out. At the beginning of the year we posted a list of the 52 Most Anticipated Movies to come out in 2013 and with half the year already gone, it seemed like a good time to look back on the films that have already come out and highlight those with fantastic music you might have missed. Summer is the perfect time to play catch up on entertainment with most television shows on hiatus and long summer nights to fill so if you are looking for a list of movies from this year that featured noteworthy tunes, you have come to the right place. Some of these films are still out in theaters, some are already available on DVD, and some may need to be added to your Netflix queue to ensure you don’t miss them a second time, but all ten of these soundtracks should have you humming along well into December.

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silent running drones

If you’re going to see Despicable Me 2 this weekend, there’s a good chance it’s because either you or your children mostly want to see the Minions. Who cares about Gru and the human children let alone whatever the plot is this time around when those little yellow blobs are running around causing trouble? This is just a hurdle until the spin-off movie that’s centered just on the Minions comes out next year. Why do we love them so much? Movies.com writer Perri Nemiroff gave a few likeminded reasons earlier this week, comparing them to pets and plush toys come to life. She also notes that their gibberish is always “immensely more entertaining than any line of human dialogue.” The lack of intelligible dialogue is the reason I believe they’re so popular, combined with their slapstick antics. They’re Keystone henchmen, basically, characters that continue the tradition of silent comedy well into the era of sound cinema. In fact, they are cinema, almost purely visual treats (without their gibberish and occasional English word they would still be as funny). They’re reportedly modeled after the Jawas from Star Wars and the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, while Steve Carrell (the voice of Gru) believes the Minions “are as close to a modern day version of the Marx Brothers as I’ve seen.” One of the Marx Brothers in particular, for me. Harpo was one of the earliest figures in film to maintain the tradition of the dumbshow pantomime once […]

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Despicable Me 2

Three years removed from his dastardly (fine, his despicable) ways, reformed super-villain Gru returns to the big screen to do, well, what exactly? Prove that he’s actually reformed? (He is.) Continue working on his parenting technique? (By borrowing from Parenthood.) Adopt a few more Annie-styled orphans? (Thankfully, no.) In Despicable Me 2, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his kiddos (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elsie Fisher) are indeed back for more cuddly and only slightly villainous hijinks, as the former supreme bad guy is drafted into service with the Anti-Villain League alongside an alluring new partner, both bent on bringing down another scary-yet-PG-appropriate meanie. Parenthood suits Gru. Sort of. Softened up by the love of his girls, the former super-villain now invests his time in planning parties for the little ones, trying to shake the lingering feeling that they need a mother, and setting the Minions and his sidekick (Dr. Nefario, again voiced by Russell Brand) on a new quest to make the best jams (and jellies!) the world has ever tasted. It’s working out okay, and surprisingly so, but the (very funny) arrival of Anti-Villain League agent Lucy Wilde (voiced by Kristen Wiig) threatens to derail all that adorable domesticity.

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despicable-me-2

While the plot for Despicable Me 2 has been mostly kept under wraps, the sequel’s new trailer does introduce us to a pair of new characters – uptight Agent Lucy Wilde (voiced by Kristen Wiig) and straightlaced Ramsbottom (is that Steve Coogan?) - and their just-as-uptight-and-straightlaced-occupation – working for the Anti-Villain League. It appears that a new villain has surfaced (a joke that’s much funnier when you consider that the AVL is set up under the sea) and they need Gru’s (Steve Carell) help to get into the mind of the new baddie. Which might be a bit more tough than they were expecting, because Gru’s girls have made him more of a softie than ever… Hey, at least there are fun gadgets! Learn all about lipstick tasers and little swimming cars after the break.

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Despicable Me 2 Trailer

Pardon our confusion, but aren’t the minions of Despicable Me fame getting their own feature? (The answer is yes, they are, in 2014.) So why then is this first full-length trailer for Despicable Me 2 so minion-focused? Why are we watching approximately two minutes of two minions talking in their minionspeak, being silly, finding themselves terrified by furry creatures, and maybe (just maybe!) getting abducted by aliens? Is this plot of this film such a closely guarded secret that we can’t even see the vast majority of the project’s most recognizable non-minion lead characters? Well, perhaps. We actually don’t know much about the plot of Despicable Me 2; even its official logline only tells us that the film is “an all-new comedy animated adventure featuring the return of Gru (Steve Carell), the girls, the unpredictably hilarious minions…and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.” Dare to dream that means Jason Segel and his tiny toilet are set to return. Watch the minions get (maybe?) abducted by aliens after the break.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the nightly movie news column that other movie news websites read for tomorrow’s news… Editor’s Note: The original header image from this edition of News After Dark was not for public viewing, as we found out later. We were asked to take it down by Warner Bros. And since we’d rather show you really cool stuff, here’s a Bane art piece by alicexz. We begin this evening with what appears to be a very unhappy Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. It’s another promo image to follow last week’s release of Catwoman’s ass-tacular costume. My guess is that Warner Bros. has simply given up on the marketing of this one, as they seem to be just letting raw materials out. Then again, if you had to follow-up with the incredible marketing campaign behind The Dark Knight, you’d probably throw in the towel, too. Luck for them, everyone is already going to see TDKR. Just because.

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Couple of questions for you: are you full up on adorable teaser trailers for the day after that charming Frankenweenie spot? Or do you have room in your heart for more cute? Have you missed the minions? Fine, that’s three questions, but they’re all applicable. Universal Pictures and Illuminations Entertainment’s Despicable Me came out of nowhere in 2010 to become a charming box office smash. Who knew that an animated film about a super-villain who adopts three tiny orphans as part of one of his evil super-villain plans would end up being so sweet, touching, and funny? Not me. I had no idea. And then I cried in the first film – I cried. So yes, I would like the inevitable sequel to come out right about now. But we won’t be getting it until next summer. So, until then, sate your desire for villainous hijinks, peppy minions who speak their own wacky little language, and perhaps more music than you’re expected with the most teaser-iffic of teaser trailers for Despicable Me 2. It’s an all-minion affair, so be warned.

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Movie News: Dredd

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. That is all. We begin this evening with a look at Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd, the revival of the Judge Dredd franchise. First impressions: Karl Urban’s helmet is huge and Olivia Thirlby needs more leather. Or something along those lines. Either way, it’s a good conversation starter.

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