Gravity

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

A lot of people love the music in Gravity. Our review agreed that “Steven Price’s gorgeous and terrifying score only tie[s] up the film’s peerless technical package.” It even won the Oscar in that category. But there are also a lot of people who hate the music. And then there are people who like the score on its own but aren’t particularly fond of its use in the movie. The main reason given is that Gravity begins with titles regarding the lack of sound in space (not that non-diegetic things should ever be a weight on authenticity). For them, Warner Bros. is looking out. This February, the studio is releasing a two-disc Diamond Luxe Edition Blu-ray of Gravity, which is mostly being touted for its Dolby Atmos audio but which also offers the choice to watch the movie sans score. Called the “Silent Space Version,” this option is labeled a “surprising cinematic experiment.” As far as I can tell, it’s the first of its kind. For a modern sound film release, anyway (for silent cinema, you just mute the whole thing, especially if you’re watching some bad public domain copy). While there are plenty of DVDs and Blu-rays that allow you to watch a movie with just the score, I can’t find any others where you can isolate all except the music. I mean, why would there be? Are there any other movies where we’d want that? In response to the Blu-ray, The Guardian compiled a short list of movies they’d like to see without their soundtracks, […]

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interstellar-anne-hathaway-and-david-gyasi

One of the many criticisms I’ve seen of Interstellar, mostly on social media, is that its depiction of the future is too white, racially. Never mind the Africa-American school principal or the African-American scientist among the four-person mission through space, I guess. What would be the right number of non-white characters for a movie like this? I will admit that it’s strange how absent David Gyasi is from the trailers, but we don’t really see much of fellow crew member Wes Bentley either. There will always be someone to complain about something, of course, and while representation of minorities continues to be an issue in Hollywood, it’s difficult to imagine a solution that will please everyone all time time. Take, for instance, the Bechdel Test, which has become a pretty big deal for an idea originating in an indie LGBT comic strip almost 30 years ago. Debates are frequent about whether or not the test is a proper measure of a movie’s representation of women. We took the test to task a while back with our list of 10 Famous Films That Surprisingly Failed the Bechdel Test, the top title being the female-character-driven Run Lola Run. And besides the argument that there are empowering movies for women that fail the test, further discussion in response to the test showed in our comments section. What about Asian-American representation? Or Latinos?

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Ridley-Scott-on-Prometheus-Set

Andrew Weir’s “The Martian” was marketed as being like Cast Away meets Apollo 13. But the movie version is certainly going to be compared to Gravity. The premise of the novel sees an astronaut stranded alone on Mars as he struggles to survive until a NASA rescue mission arrives. Since he’s at least on ground, we can say it has a bit of Moon or even better Robinson Crusoe on Mars. But The Martian won’t have a monkey, and also Gravity is such a big deal after raking in so much money and Oscars that 20th Century Fox will be hoping for something more along the lines of Alfonso Cuaron’s outer space disaster thriller, especially if it’s even half as successful. Fortunately, two new valuable assets have joined the mission. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ridley Scott is set to return to space for the adaptation, which was scripted by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield). Goddard was also supposed to direct, but he’s too tied up with helming Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man spin-off The Sinister Six. So Scott will take over, and not even those disappointed with Prometheus can deny this is a terrific fit. On board with Scott is confirmed star Matt Damon. And this time he’s all rock-marooned without his Gerry pal Casey Affleck. Scott will also produce the movie along with Simon Kinberg (Elysium) and Aditya Sood (Let’s Be Cops). 

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Oz the Great and Powerful

We’re on the cusp of summer with all of its glistening promise of wide-eyed wonder, and the most pressing question is whether we’d even be able to recognize amazement if it slapped us in the face and called us Sally. For what it’s worth, I don’t think summer is a wasteland for movies. Sincerely. Far from it. However, it’s easy to get discouraged about Blockbuster Season because the batting average isn’t good. Bad movies outweigh the amazing across all genres and styles, but blockbuster movies feel different because of the full-court advertising press and the sheer number of movies arriving within a short amount of time that typically look the same, feel the same and have the same basic story. I’m not ashamed to admit that the explosive growth of Blockbuster Season has been an exhausting shift (I was hoping to evolve faster), but it’s also important to remember the wonderful, truly fantastic movies that have emerged from the noise. Holding that optimistic remembrance in mind, I read Drew McWeeny’s “Has Life in the Age of Casual Magic Made Moviegoers Numb to the Amazing?” with rapt attention. The kind you give to a comedian who keeps nailing exactly how you feel about air travel. He explores complexities beyond the headlining question, but at its heart lies a spot-on idea about how we’re spoiled by an all-powerful cinematic tool that’s being used ad nauseam for the same handful of simple tasks. First of all, “casual magic” is the perfect phrase for what’s […]

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Gravity

Not literally everything, but figuratively everything. A newly released deleted scene from the 2013 blockbuster Gravity has been released onto the web and it’s full of shocking revelations. It’s a wonder that we hadn’t heard about this scene before, especially considering the fact that the film has already been released on Blu-ray. Perhaps Best Director winner Alfonso Cuaron and the marketing minds at Warner Bros. were waiting for just the right moment — a super special edition home video release of some kind. Well now all that is spoiled, as it’s been leaked onto the Internet. Isn’t that how it always goes…

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Children of Men Baby Scene

Fresh off his Oscar win on Sunday, Gravity visual effects supervisor Tim Webber joins us to talk about his work with Alfonso Cuaron and explain how we can build our own CGI babies at home. Plus, we discuss how soon is too soon when it comes to real-life tragedy adaptations, and Josh Spiegel from Mousterpiece Cinema helps us debate the state of children’s movies (while envisioning a high octane version of Winnie The Pooh). You should follow Josh (@mousterpiece), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #51 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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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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Saul Bass-Inspired Oscar Posters

Last year the folks at Mondo celebrating the Best Picture nominees with a poster series. This year, even before we see if they are doing it again (they did one for Dallas Buyers Club,  but not others), an artist/fan has already beat them to the punch with a very cool project. Tumblr artist Geminianum has created a series of posters for the Best Picture nominees in the style of the late, great Saul Bass. From a Gravity poster that calls back to Bass’ Vertigo and Anatomy of a Murder prints to a Wolf of Wall Street poster that uses both West Side Story and some Mad Men iconography, it’s a pretty fun idea. See for yourselves…

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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: Cinematography

Take the entire Best Picture field. They’d be nothing without the powerful visuals crafted by the towering talent of the nominees in this field, as well as the others who (for whatever reasons) didn’t make the cut. Ahem, Sean Bobbitt. The truth is we’re awash in outstanding cinematographers. If there’s a category that could be boosted to ten nominees, it’s this one. This year, the Oscar hopefuls delivered eye candy that took us from the dry wit of Big Red country to the far reaches of the horizon, from beautiful brawling grounds to the cold snap of reality. Here’s a look at the nominees with my predicted winner in red…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Visual Effects

The horse race! The great question! The draw of history! Is there anything more exciting than the uncertainty of not knowing who will take home gold on Oscars’ big night? Of course there is. Lots of things are more exciting, and there’s no uncertainty here because Gravity is going to win the crap out of this award. So instead, let’s talk briefly about magic. Because that’s what visual effects are. Ever since the first days when a train scared people by pulling into the station, film itself was magic. The idea that you can capture the world around you and preserve it on a chemical strip has an air of sorcery to it, as it should, but we’ve had a century to get used to the mechanism, so visual effects have taken on the hefty mantle of casting spells. Like making us believe we’re in space, or fighting a dragon, or fighting an exploding foe, or fist-fighting on top of a train, or returning to space. Here’s a look at all five nominees with behind-the-scenes VFX videos to make up for my totally unsurprising predicted winner (which is in red)…

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Production Design

When pundits begin to go on about the look of a film, most often the person they name drop is the director, or maybe the cinematographer. But one should never overlook the importance of the production designer. They’re probably the most hands-on when it comes to dealing with the collaboration of all the costumes, hair, and makeup, dressing locations and building sets, finding or fabricating props, and basically ensuring that everything you see on the screen fits into a unified vision of how the movie is supposed to look. One might even say that these are the people who create the worlds that movies exist in. Because of that, the further away a film can get, visually, from our everyday reality, the more likely it is to be recognized for its production design come awards season. It’s much easier to notice the work that went into creating a fantasy world or bringing back a lost era than it is to notice the work that went into making Vancouver look like New York, after all. In keeping with that trend, this year the Academy has chosen for the category’s nominees a movie that takes place in the swinging 70s, a movie that takes place in the vacuum of space, a movie that takes place in the roaring 20s, a movie that takes place in a future version of LA, and one that takes place in the plantation-era of the southern United States. Nothing from either the here or the now. Here’s […]

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Original Score

Unlike a singular song, a film’s score stays with a narrative from beginning to end, helping to reinforce the emotions on screen and round out the overall feeling and impression of a film. It is a delicate balance and it is the scores which are able to make an impression, without distracting from the film itself, that rise to the top to become the scores that are remembered long after a film ends. The nominees for Best Original Score this year are a combination of familiar names (John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newman) along with some new ones (Steven Price, William Butler, Owen Pallett). The five films these scores are nominated from are powerful stories about people dealing with extraordinary situations from fighting for love, family, stories, even one’s own life. The music in each of these films is an incredibly important element as it helps give each story the weight it deserves. Williams, Desplat, and Newman are distinguished talents who have proven their staying power over the years and helped elevate their respective films thanks to their music whereas the scores from Price, Butler, and Pallett are not only from newer voices, they are attached to two films that pushed the envelope when it came to visual style and narrative approach. We review the five nominees and predict who we think will win in red…

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Jared Leto in Mr Nobody

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Mr. Nobody Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is 118 years old and on his death bed. He’s the last human doomed to die in a world where mankind has achieved a level of immortality and no longer faces an expiration date. Before he passes on, Nemo gives an interview to share the story of his life, but the tale he tales is an impossible one featuring multiple outcomes and events that simply couldn’t all be true. Or could they? This gorgeously shot and endlessly fascinating film is actually from 2009 and only now getting a release here in the U.S. for reasons unknown. It’s far from a traditional film, but if you like science fiction that explores humanity in surprising ways then you owe it to yourself to seek this one out. Leto does some incredible work here as a man shifting in and out of multiple threads of his own life, moving between different loves and events, and the supporting cast (Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh-dan Pham) is equally strong. This Blu also includes both the R-rated cut and the extended international cut that runs an additional 16 minutes. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, featurette, trailer]

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Kiefer Sutherland in Pompeii

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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It’s not definite that this year’s Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director will go to different movies. But it is very likely that Alfonso Cuaron is going to win the latter and that his movie, Gravity, is not going to be crowned the former. Odds in favor of Gravity for the top Academy Award are increasing of late, but I still see us having the first back-to-back split since 1953. Last year, of course, Picture went to Argo while Director went to Ang Lee (Argo‘s director, Ben Affleck, wasn’t nominated for the latter). This year the film that may trump Gravity for Best Picture is itself split between two contenders, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. Both of those movies won their respective Best Picture categories at the Golden Globes earlier this year. Hustle for comedy/musical and Slave for drama. Not that this means either has to follow with the Oscar (only 4 of the past 10 Oscar BPs were Globe BPs). Hustle also won the top award at the SAG Awards, that honor being for Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture. Not that this really means anything either (only 6 of the past 10 Oscar BPs were SAG Best Casts). Slave, meanwhile, tied for the top award at the PGA Awards — with Gravity. This is where it might mean something. The Producers Guild is currently six for six in predicting the Oscar BP, and in its history they’re 17 for 24. If they go […]

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Christian Bale;Jeremy Renner;Bradley Cooper

What makes a great director? Is it more about the technical visual achievement that we can see on screen? Is it about getting exceptional performances from the actors? For a great director, it’s both. For a Best Director of any given year, as so named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one or the other might do. This year, for instance, Alfonso Cuaron is the frontrunner for the Oscar, and his recognition is mostly based on the film being “an absolute technical marvel in every possible way,” as our own review from Kate Erbland puts it. Like James Cameron before him, Cuaron will be honored for work where the performances from the cast weren’t as much a priority as the performances from the camera and special effects. Yet also like Cameron, Cuaron has been paired with a Best Actress nomination for his leading lady. Sandra Bullock has won an Oscar in the past for her acting, but she still surprised many with her performance in Gravity. Do we have Cuaron to thank for that? It’s hard to tell. He’s never really gotten bad work from his actors before, but he’s certainly not thought of as an actor’s director in the way his four companions in the category are. This is his first instance of directing an Oscar nominated performance. Including this year’s additions, Martin Scorsese has 22 under his belt, David O. Russell has 11, Alexander Payne has 7 and Steve McQueen has 3 — of course, […]

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gravity-sandra-bullock-10

Following the announcement of any year’s Oscar nominations, the search for records and other interesting trivia among the contenders is expected. One of this year’s most notable findings has to be that the 86th Academy Awards has broken the record for average age among the best actress nominees: 55. That’s not just interesting, it’s possibly even important. For all that’s said about Hollywood favoring young women and how actresses’ careers are done by the time they reach 40, this could be used as further evidence that older ladies are not unwelcome on the big screen. But is it really relevant to the businesspeople in Hollywood that the leading actresses of prestige pictures are veering older, their average this year being even higher than the best actor contenders (47)? The true measure for whether last year’s movies prove that not older women but women in general deserve more respect in the film industry is instead with the box office. And, well, the grosses of the nominated movies is pretty notable in this case, too. Thanks mostly to Gravity, the average domestic take for the movies nominated in the best actress category is $90M compared to that of the best actor nominees’ $34M. Nearly three times as much.

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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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Gravity

Last year I took on the Golden Globes for the first time, did my research and made my assumptions, and my predictions wound up with only 9 out of 14 winners chosen correctly. This year I’m going more with my gut. I’m also going to have a try with the TV categories since we’ve been covering more and more of that stuff here at FSR. We’ll find out how well I do in my sophomore effort when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association holds its 71st Golden Globe Awards tomorrow night with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting. You should join me then for as-it-happens updated coverage on this site. I’m not calling it a “live blog.” It’ll be more like a concurring review of the show and results. I can’t guarantee that my predictions are going to help you win any bets or pools, but I’ll offer a friendly wager with anyone who thinks they can beat my score. Gimme your best shot in the comments.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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