Felicity Jones

Focus Features

It’s easy enough to get an audience worked up during the end of an inspirational biopic – that’s basically the point of most films in the genre – but James Marsh’s moving and magical The Theory of Everything does a neat trick: it starts the waterworks flowing early. They never really abate. Marsh’s take on beloved thinker Stephen Hawking is an intensely, richly emotional feature that boasts big, star-making performances by both its very talented leads and a narrative that doesn’t flinch when it comes time to get down to the dirty stuff. Ostensibly a feature about Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), The Theory of Everything also gorgeously captures the story of Stephen and his first wife, Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones), gracefully winding the two tales into one. Stephen and Jane are initially attracted by virtue of the most basic of human instincts: they like the look of each other. Eventually, however, the seemingly different pair discovers that their disparate fields of study (Jane’s a poetry buff with her own designs on getting a PhD) surprisingly intersect, and even what later becomes a long-standing debate about the existence of God helps bond the pair together. It’s still early days in their pairing when Stephen falls ill and the disease wreaking havoc on his body finally reveals itself, but even it proves to be no match for the pure force of Jane’s affection and dedication.

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Sigourney Weaver in Abduction

If you’re going to have someone on your side to protect you from bad guys and guide you through life’s trials and tribulations, there is probably nobody better than Sigourney Weaver to get the job done. But although she’s one of the most badass action stars in film history, she’s leaving the niceties to Liam Neeson this time around. Weaver has signed on to the cast of the children’s fantasy flick A Monster Calls, an adaptation of the brilliant 2011 novel from Patrick Ness that will be directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible) and feature Neeson as the title creature. The actress is taking on something a little more frosty in the film, playing grandmother to 13-year-old protagonist Conor, whose life is especially complicated with a double whammy of brutal bullying from classmates at school and his mother’s (Felicity Jones) prognosis of terminal cancer. The teen doesn’t have much of a support system either, just a father (Toby Kebbell) who’s virtually nonexistent — never bothering to check in on his miserable soon — and a terrible relationship with the grandmother. 

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Focus Features

The name Stephen Hawking conjures up a certain image of the genius scientist, who is currently confined to a wheelchair and has been for many years, unable to speak with his own voice, using the assistance of a electronic voice box to express what he couldn’t say on his own. But the upcoming film The Theory of Everything from director James Marsh introduces audiences to a different Hawking (played here by Eddie Redmayne of Les Miserables), a young and absolutely brilliant student pursuing a Ph.D in physics at Cambridge to become a cosmologist while falling madly in love with a fellow student named Jane (Felicity Jones). The first trailer for the film, written by Anthony McCarten (Death of a Superhero), paints an idyllic picture of campus life in Cambridge as Hawking and his love frolic in carefree bliss after meeting cute at a party. We watch them ride carousels, steal kisses and make pretty frequent comparisons to their love and Hawking’s work attempting to figure out the mysteries of space and time. It’s especially tragic when the young lovebirds don’t know about the storm brewing ahead — Hawking’s life-altering diagnosis of motor neuron disease, which comes on fiercely, robbing Hawking of his ability to move normally and speak.

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Female superheroes

Briefly: Hot on the heels of plenty of female-friendly news, from the revelation that Ghostbusters might be getting an all-girl makeover to our first look at Wonder Woman, Deadline reveals that Sony is looking to get going on a female superhero movie. That’s right, you read that correctly, we’ve finally got a fresh female superhero movie in actual development.  The outlet reports that Sony is launching “a top-to-bottom revamp of its most important property,” as the beleaguered Spider-Man franchise recently endured a poor critical and financial showing of its latest entry — this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – and a pushed release date for its next installment (from 2016 into 2018). The details on this are super-slim, but we do know that the new superheroine will be tied into the Spider-Man franchise in some way. The film will reportedly arrive sometime in 2017. 

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Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones in BREATHE IN

The first time I made a serious attempt at jogging as an “adult” it was in a sad attempt to impress a foreign exchange student named Isabelle. I was 22 and she was 18, but wait, it gets even more pathetic. She was staying with my girlfriend’s (at the time) family. That was the beginning and the end of it, but I share the embarrassment to acknowledge that the appeal and temptation of the “exchange student” is more than just a late night Skinemax cliche. Breathe In, the new film from c0-writer/director Drake Doremus, explores that dynamic but takes it to far more serious extremes than a simple run around the block. Keith Reynolds (Guy Pearce), his wife Megan (Amy Ryan), and their teenage daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) are living a seemingly content life in New York State. He plays cello, teaches music at his daughter’s school, and is preparing to audition for an important chair position with the Philharmonic, but he has an underlying desire to return to the simplicity of his youth. The family takes in a British foreign exchange student named Sophie (Felicity Jones), and it’s not long before their illusory happiness is threatened.

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joanna-scanlan-in-the-invisible-woman

Over the weekend, our own Christopher Campbell went to bat in a big way for The Wolf of Wall Street co-star Margot Robbie, campaigning to well, start a campaign to get some awards season love for the breakout star in a film laden with talent. Campbell’s claims that Robbie is deserving of recognition for her work in the film are spot-on, as the emerging actress really makes her role as Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) second wife her own, turning a bleached-out bimbo into a flinty, funny lady who is one of the few people to get out from underneath Belfort’s abusive thumb by her own agency. Robbie, however, isn’t the only supporting star to endure domestic abuse on the big screen this year in a highly memorable way – elsewhere, Welsh multi-hyphenate Joanna Scanlan worked similar magic in another period piece about a wildly out of control man who ruins lives left and right. In Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, the personal affairs of Charles Dickens (Fiennes) might not have the same financial implications as Jordan Belfort in WOWS, but the emotion runs deep – at least as it applies to his wife, Catherine Dickens (Scanlan).

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The Invisible Woman

*Editor’s note: Our review of The Invisible Woman originally ran during this year’s NYFF, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens Christmas day in limited theatrical release.* It’s best to assume that when Ralph Fiennes took on the story of Charles Dickens (Fiennes) and his teen lover Ellen “Nelly” Ternan (Felicity Jones) for his The Invisible Woman, he didn’t intend for the film’s big takeaway to be that the beloved British author was basically a big jerk, at least when it came to matters of the heart. And yet, that’s the unexpected result of the apparently fact-based tale, a “romance” devoid of emotion that fails to capture any of the spirit or intelligence of Dickens’ own works. While the film has some very compelling source material, including a book by Claire Tomalin and a script from Abi Morgan (who penned the wonderful Shame and the laughably bad The Iron Lady), it ultimately falls spectacularly flat. Cold, emotionless, and strangely paced, the film thankfully features breathtaking cinematography and one hell of a supporting performance by the real invisible woman in Dickens’ life – his own wife. But this is meant to be a film about a life-changing romance, and it simply doesn’t deliver on that front, no matter how many times Jones wanders a beach with a haunted expression on her face or Fiennes acts out in a horrible way simply because he’s a man in love.

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Celebrity seems to be the same no matter what century we’re in. Be you Charles Dickens, Elvis Presley, or Miley Cyrus, you’ll be mobbed by regular folk just wanting to say “hi” or to shake your hand or to steal a lock of your hair for some secret voodoo shrine. The opening moments of The Invisible Woman‘s trailer sum this up neatly – Dickens may have died over 140 years ago, but even he lived his life almost entirely in the public eye. Yet from there, The Invisible Woman seems to follow a pretty standard course. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy risks his life and reputation for girl, boy slowly spirals into madness to the sound of foreboding classical music. Title cards proclaiming “He was the greatest writer in the world,” and “His greatest story was the one he could never tell” aren’t winning any novelty points anytime soon. But judging by the strength of Ralph Fiennes as an actor (and now, director) and considering that The Invisible Woman will likely see Fiennes reciting a whole lot of Dickens in fancy Shakespearean tones, expect to be wowed (or at least suitably entertained) by The Invisible Woman. The one drawback? No actual invisible women. That’s flagrant false advertising. Go ahead and watch the trailer below:

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schwarzenegger

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news column that’s catching up on some developments that occurred over the weekend while preparing for tonight’s huge Stanley Cup Finals game. Find out what’s up with Adrien Brody and Felicity Jones before the puck drops. You’ve already seen him save the world from terrorists, aliens, and killer machines, and now it’s looking like you’re going to finally get the chance to see Arnold Schwarzenegger save the world from the oncoming creep of the zombie menace. Or, at least, he’s going to do his best to get his daughter through a zombie apocalypse, as that’s the plot of the latest project he’s taken on. According to Variety, the movie is called Maggie, it comes from a Black List script by strangely-named screenwriter John Scott 3, and it will see Schwarzenegger playing a father who is helping his daughter, “come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a zombie,” in what sounds like the most family-oriented role the action star has taken since he was in Junior.

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The Rhino

When you think of a hulking, monstrous man who charges into every situation with his head down and attempts to fix every problem in his path by smashing it, you tend to think of Paul Giamatti, am I right? Yeah, no, probably you don’t think of Paul Giamatti this way at all. But it seems to be the way he thinks of himself. In a new report from THR that reveals the actor is currently in negotiations to play Spider-Man villain, The Rhino, in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man sequel, it gets pointed out that Giamatti has been talking about how much he identifies with a big dumb thug like Rhino for years. In an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s talk show, Giamatti remarked, “The Rhino was fantastic. He was, like, a Russian guy. He was real fast and he hit stuff real hard.” And back in 2011, he told Showbizspy, “I thought Rhino was the greatest thing when I was a little kid. It was a guy who was basically in this rhinoceros outfit and I always thought, ‘Why don’t they have The Rhino in one of their movies,’ but maybe The Rhino wasn’t that big of a deal for anybody but me. If they ever go with The Rhino I would be ready and waiting.”

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BI_SudanceStill

People will hate Drake Doremus’s Breathe In. They will walk out of the theater and be sad and confused and maybe even (probably, really, more than anything) angry. They will hate it because they will hate the characters that exist inside of the film, and they will hate it because they make them mad, and they will hate it because it is not Like Crazy 2. And that’s okay, because while Breathe In will elicit all these emotions (and, quite likely, more), it is an immensely accomplished and measured film, an assured follow-up to Doremus’s other Sundance hit, 2011’s Like Crazy, and even more assured because it is not like Like Crazy, not at all, and that is something to marvel at. While Doremus and his co-screenwriter, Ben York Jones, turned their eyes on a couple that should be together in Like Crazy, when it comes to Breathe In, they go in the complete opposite direction, to a couple that should, by no means, be together. And while we all know that as every minute of Breathe In steadily ticks by, they don’t know that (or, at least, they refuse to believe that), and the result is car crash cinema done right. You can’t look away. But you can’t cheer for it in the slightest.

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Despite being trapped in the constricted 1880’s, Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a forward-thinker, a believer in germ theory (can you imagine a time when doctors chalked the existence of germs up to a theory?), meaning that he doesn’t fit in with his counterparts at London’s many hospitals, which is why he’s been fired from just about all of them. Desperate for a position – any kind of position – the good doctor lands an assistant job at Dr. Robert Dalrymple’s (Jonathan Pryce) clinic, working for the rich and popular doctor who specializes in something very, very unique: the treatment of female hysteria. Traditionally speaking, “hysteria” was used as a blanket term of any kind of lady trouble for centuries, with the term originating in 4th century BCE. Hysteria was seen as a particular scourge on ladies in the Victorian era – “the plague of our time” – and was believed to effect half of the female population. Dalrymple eases his patients by way of a procedure referred to as “pelvic massage.” You can guess what “pelvic massage” really was. No, really, you can. There’s a picture up top and everything.

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Writer and director Nancy Meyers has often drawn ire for her knack for purveying lifestyle over substance in her films, with works like It’s Complicated, The Holiday, and Something’s Gotta Give looking more like interior design magazines come to life than hard-hitting emotional dramas (anyone remember that subplot in It’s Complicated involving Meryl Streep’s kitchen renovation? The kitchen that was perfect to begin with?), but the woman sure knows how to make girls’ night out flicks for the older set (full disclosure: I do love The Holiday unironically). However, it looks like Meyers is looking to spice up her resume with two new projects – both with slightly different twists and surprising leading ladies. First up, Meyers is joining forces with a bonafide funny lady for a different kind of mature relationship dramedy. Tina Fey is now on board to star in Meyers’s The Intern (which the filmmaker has written and will direct), in which she will “play the founder of an e-business with a fashion focus. As her company begins to thrive, she’s told that her company is importing seniors to be interns as a community outreach effort, and she’s getting one. While her first question is whether they are seniors in high school or college, she learns to her horror that she’s getting a real senior, as in senior citizen.” That intern ends up being “an over-70 widower who is bored with retirement from a middle management career, initially seems like a fossil to his working mother boss, […]

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No, no, it’s not a remake of that Chevy Chase movie with a new female star, and it’s not a reimagining of Ralph Ellison’s seminal novel, but Felicity Jones has snapped up an intriguing role in Ralph Fiennes‘ The Invisible Woman. Baz Bamigboye and The Playlist are reporting that Jones has just signed on for the role of Nelly Ternan in the film, mistress of Charles Dickens, which Fiennes will next direct on the heels of his most recent project, Coriolanus. The film is an adaptation of Claire Tomalin‘s non-fiction book of the same name, with a script by tremendously talented Shame and The Iron Lady screenwriter Abi Morgan. The book centers on the real life romance of young Nelly (who was just eighteen when she took up with Dickens) and the writer (who was forty-five and married). Escandalo! Jones reportedly beat out the latest version of the in-consideration shortlist of up-and-coming young actresses, including Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish (who continues to appear on these types of lists, and has yet to land a plum role besides the already critically-maligned W.E., which is a damn shame), and Imogen Poots. While Fiennes was once looking to take on the Dickens role, he has since decided to cast someone else, so that should be the next bit of casting information to hit the ‘net.

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Hugo

It is day four of awards season, and already some names are growing wearyingly familiar, and even the surprises don’t quite pop like they used to. On Monday evening, the Gothams announced their annual awards, followed swiftly by the Film Independent Spirit nominations announcement and the NYFCC’s winners, but director Martin Scorsese and his latest film, Hugo, were without some big awards love – until now. The National Board of Review has announced their best-of picks for the year, and Hugo has topped out as Best Film, with Scorsese grabbing Best Director. As the film opened just last week, here’s hoping that this NBR endorsement will pump up somewhat lackluster box office returns. Paired with a weekend box office free of new major releases, and maybe Hugo can swing up to the top of the heap. As for the rest of the Board’s awards, there’s a bevy of names here that already seem like old hat – picks like Christopher Plummer for Beginners and The Artist, The Descendants, and The Tree of Life as a “top” films for the year – but there are still a few eyebrow-raisers, as our friends over at /Film note, J.C. Chandor picking up another award for his debut, Margin Call, continues to be surprising. Where is Sean Durkin and his own Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene? And J. Edgar as one of the year’s best? And a Breakthrough to Felicity Jones and Rooney Mara, but no Elizabeth Olsen? Bizarre, really. But there are […]

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The 21st Gotham Independent Film Awards kicked off awards season with their ceremony this evening, doling out a limited number of awards to some of the strongest independent voices and films of the year. The Gothams cover just seven categories, but they often signal big trends and name up-and-comers, what with awards named things like Breakthrough Director and Actor or Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. The final jury is made up of “distinguished filmmakers,” though you’d be hard-pressed to find a list of just who is on that jury this year. The Gothams turned in some real surprises tonight (big enough that, even as the first award show of the year, they are still considered shocks, that’s something), with the two biggest nomination-getters, The Descendants and Martha Marcy May Marlene, coming away without a thing. Martha Marcy May Marlene missing out on awards is certainly bizarre enough, but what may well be the biggest upset from that shut-out is lead actress Elizabeth Olsen losing out on Breakthrough Actor to Felicity Jones. Both ladies starred in Sundance hits (MMMM and Like Crazy, respectively), but back in January, I cannot imagine that anyone would have placed Jones’ performance above Olsen’s (including myself, and I quite liked both films and both performances). Other jaw-droppers? Mike Mills‘ Beginners taking home Best Feature – along with Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life, as the two productions tied for the honor. If this is a hint as to how unpredictable the coming season […]

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Felicity Jones had a breakthrough at Sundance last year when Like Crazy took its time in the spotlight. Now that it’s reclaiming that position with an ever-expanding limited release, Jones has caught the eye of studios and casting directors. According to Deadline Humble, she’s also been noticed by Warren Beatty who has hired her as the leading lady in his untitled Howard Hughes biopic. She’ll be playing a young woman who becomes involved with Hughes’s driver before “falling in love with Hughes.” It’s unclear how fabricated that element is, as Hughes was married to actress Jean Peters for much of his later life, and although the man was linked to a baker’s dozen of Hollywood’s most shining stars, it’s curious that the story here would focus on an unknown girl falling for the mentally troubled icon in his twilight hours. This is the next, first big step in Jones’s ascension, and it’s great to see her choosing another prestigious role. She’s without a doubt a stunning young talent, and there will be a lot more from her to enjoy in the future. Joining her and Beatty (who stars as Hughes) might also be Annette Bening, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson and Alec Baldwin. The search for Hughes’s driver also continues, and the names floating around, according to Deadline, are Justin Timberlake and Alden Ehrenreich. We’ll most likely be hearing some confirmations soon as the movie sets to shoot next year. As if we can all wait that long to see Jones […]

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Watching Like Crazy was a frustrating experience for me. The whole time I was watching the film, I felt as if I should have been enjoying it much more than I actually was. Visually, the film is both intimate and gorgeous, kind of like watching a home movie if your dad was a virtuoso filmmaker. The performances are all strong, from top to bottom. But despite all of the obvious talent on the screen, I just couldn’t find myself connecting to the story or the characters as they were crafted. Maybe I’m not much of a romantic, but I found the relationship woes of the main characters Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) to be less than compelling. In fact, they were pretty frustrating to get through. Who were these kids and why should I care that they treat their personal lives like the most important things in the world? We’re not so much introduced to Jacob and Anna as we watch as they’re introduced to each other. The film opens with their meeting in a college course in which Anna is a student and Jacob a teacher’s aid, followed by Anna’s bold decision to leave a note declaring her infatuation under Jacob’s windshield wiper, and the stilted conversation and stolen glances of their first date. The getting-to-know-you sequence is cute, but it doesn’t last long. Soon we’re informed through montage (we’re informed of a lot of things through montage in this film) that the two kids are now very […]

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Stop groaning at that headline and start moaning along with this clever, mildly silly trailer for Hysteria. Based on the historical invention of the vibrator, the film boasts Felicity Jones, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Pryce and a bunch of women shaking their thighs in ecstasy. Seriously. There are a lot of shots of women coming in this thing. Beyond that, it has the usual flair that any period piece might aspire to. The costuming, the set work, the language. It’s all there along with some cheeky humor and what looks like a romantic foundation the focuses on taming a shrew. Plug in, and check it out for yourself:

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Sundance veteran Drake Doremus returned to Park City this year with a very different film than 2010’s Douchebag. For his 2011 entry, Doremus brought along Like Crazy, a sensitive and romantic film that doesn’t rely on anyone taking their shirt off or ludicrous meet-cutes or casts packed with tween pop stars to make it work. I saw the film back in January at Sundance, and it is one of two romantic dramedies with a young, hip cast from the festival that has stuck in my mind these many months. The other one, the Freddie Highmore-starring The Art of Getting By (retitled from its Sundance name, Homework) has remained in my brain mainly due to how much I hated it. It’s frowned upon to spit when speaking about films, but that’s been the best way I’ve found to physically express how terrible that movie was, and how emotionally disingenuous. On the flipside, there was Doremus’s Like Crazy, which stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones (with co-starring appearances by Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley). Not to get emotional over here (because, you know, gross), but Like Crazy is one of the best films about long distance relationships I’ve ever seen (and I know from long distance relationships).

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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