Sandra Bullock

David Gordon Green

Former indie auteur David Gordon Green‘s jump to the big time started off with such promise. Let’s take a little time travel trip! 2008’s Pineapple Express caught Seth Rogen and James Franco just as the weirdo lovefest that is their comedic team-up was really taking off (with Freaks & Geeks behind them and The Interview way out in the future, it was kind of the perfect opportunity to see what these two could do — which is be weird and lovable and funny with the best of them). The follow-up wasn’t quite as glorious, as 2011 marked a low point in Green’s humorous output (this is a sentiment expressed with admiration and respect, as my DGG fandom has been well-documented in this space), with both Your Highness and The Sitter performing poorly in the domestic market and, uh, also just not being very good. Things have been looking up, however, thanks to Green’s recent edging back into less slapstick fare, with 2013 seeing the release of both the darkly amusing Prince Avalanche and the just damn dark Joe. Oh, and the major star power behind each film hasn’t hurt — which is probably why Green is just going with it, casting some mega stars for his next slew of features.

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Actress

Call it the innate sexism that exists in Hollywood, but many years, the Best Actress category is less interesting than the Best Actor category. This can easily be blamed on the fewer great roles for women in movies today. However, this year, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Not only is this an incredibly strong field for the films they’ve appeared in, this is an incredibly strong field for the actresses themselves. All five women in this category are previous nominees – some of them many times over. (I’m looking at you, Meryl Streep, with your list of nominations almost as long as your list of hairstyles over the years.) Regardless, the Best Actress crop is a fertile one this year, featuring some fantastic performances in some really excellent films. As predictable as it might appear, it would be no surprise if things took a turn for anyone on this list. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Actress along with my predicted winner in red…

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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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2013movieoftheyear.gravity

Back in November, Alfonso Cuaron was asked by Esquire about “unique experiences” in cinema. They’d framed the conversation as TV vs. Film, and Cuaron remarked that TV rarely produces brain-searing moments. Scenarios? Characters? Sure. But if you’re looking for a better batting average on memorable moments, cinema is holding the big stick. At least, as Cuaron amends, cinema outside the mainstream. For a filmmaker who’s delivered gargantuan imagery and scenic epinephrine, his go-to for a unique film experience this year is telling. “It depends on what you call a unique experience. I just saw the Woody Allen film [Blue Jasmine], and I thought it was just amazing. It’s not that it’s going to give you a roller coaster of a ride. It’s just an amazing film. But definitely there are directors, even in the mainstream cinema, in Hollywood, people like [David] Fincher and Wes Anderson and David O. Russell and Guillermo del Toro, who are doing really exciting mainstream cinema.” Gravity might be the polar opposite of Blue Jasmine. One is unrelenting high concept with a sprinkle of backstory, the other is a piercing dramedy with rounded characters. On the other hand, they both feature towering performances from focus-monopolizing actresses playing struggling women. They’ll also collide in some way on the road to Oscar, creating a convenient story of thematic similarities and structural antitheses to consider when we think about what movies we hold above others at the end of a calendar year.

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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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Gravity

A weird thing happened on my way home from a matinee screening of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. I cried. Like, actual tears down my face, shortage of breath, no control crying. The pitiful kind of crying you hope nobody else sees. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit it – not because I see any shame in crying, even (or especially) over a film, but because for the life of me I couldn’t understand why on earth I was crying over this film. Gravity is no doubt an impressive technical achievement and an entertaining 90 minutes, but it hardly registered anywhere in the ballpark of emotional profundity for me. I found the trauma that Sandra Bullock’s character must overcome to be both forced and rudimentary, realized through some of the most on-the-nose thematic dialogue this side of Mad Men season 6. And don’t get me started on the 3D tears. I’m not trying to be cynical, but rather am attempting to illustrate the incredible gap I experienced between the character’s emotions onscreen and my belated visceral response to the film. I’ve seen many great films that have left me silent, even catatonic – films far “better” than Gravity that have asked me to walk away from them emotionally shattered or existentially crippled. But no film has ever elicited this type of reaction, and taken me so completely by surprise in doing so. I finally realized I wasn’t emptying myself over emotional resonance, character identification, or poignant thematics, but something a bit more abstract: […]

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Gravity - Rom-Com

George Clooney as a dashing pile of handsome, Sandra “Miss Congeniality” Bullock and a meet-cute that’s out of this world? You can’t tell us that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity isn’t a romantic comedy. Weightless in Seattle. Or maybe Romancing the Moonstone. It’s in an unconventional location to be sure, but the vacuum of space can’t keep sparks from flying. Naturally, we turned to our old pal Sleepy Skunk to put together a trailer that sells the movie for what it really is. With a little help from Old Blue Eyes, he was up to the task:

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gravity

“Life in space is impossible.” Before we even hear a word from Alfonso Cuaron’s staggering Gravity, a thin line of text already tells us everything that’s going to happen within its slim, unrelenting ninety-minute runtime. Life in space is impossible. But is survival possible? It’s a normal day for the Explorer team, one that sees Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) working on his space walk time (he’s eager to break a previously-established record by another astronaut) while Shariff (Paul Sharma) tinkers outside the station and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) attempts to repair some malfunctioning equipment so they can finish the upgrade they are tasked with completing. Things are relatively peaceful, the only hitch in an otherwise unremarkable excursion being Dr. Stone’s jumping stomach and her frustration at getting her work done – until the formerly relaxed Houston team suddenly demands an emergency evacuation. Not just for the three space walkers to go inside the station, but for them to get the hell out of their general location. A Russian satellite has exploded and its debris (moving around Earth at a pace faster than a speeding bullet) has begun knocking off other satellites, setting off a chain reaction of zinging space shrapnel that won’t just bust open a spacesuit, but an entire space station. The evacuation doesn’t happen.

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Gravity

Dear sweet lord it’s finally here. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity hits theaters which is bad news for Sandra Bullock’s astronaut and great news for everyone else. Drew McWeeny joins us for a little Interrogation Reviewification where he explains the mind-evaporating nature of the movie without spoiling it. Plus we chat with Rob Hunter about the best of the best coming out of Fantastic Fest (and where you can find them), and I harangue Geoff with a brief history of banned books being adapted to film. You should follow Drew (@drewathitfix), Rob (@fakerobhunter),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 #36 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Toy Story 3

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

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GRAVITY

With less than a week left before Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity hits theaters, you’re likely to see an increase in the already heaping mound of raves claiming it’s the best original sci-fi film of the year, if not years. The problem is that this is not sci-fi. I’ve been having minor debate about this for weeks now, and there are numerous critics and non-critics, both people who have seen and haven’t seen the film yet, on each of the two sides of this argument. At the end of the day, you can say I’m being too stubbornly semantical. That the genre doesn’t even matter these days. But this is a movie involving science, and science itself deals a lot in classification and semantics, so I feel it perfectly appropriate to stand firm on genre categorization with this one. And I keep cringing every time I see the term sci-fi or words science fiction applied to this film. Gravity features no aliens, no interstellar space travel, no time travel, and it doesn’t take place in the future. In fact, given that it involves a space shuttle as its method of travel into space, it would seem to be set in a past. And while I don’t know all the technological accuracy evident on screen, I do know the production aimed for this to be a realistic film of the world and science that is or was existing. To me, that’s not sci-fi. Just like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, never mind their […]

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Gravity

In the early hours of last evening, just as the stars were starting to come out in various parts of the country, Warner Bros. unleashed the full trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming space thriller Gravity. It’s perhaps the most intense 2-minutes you’re going to have today, assuming you don’t have a heart attack later. Or during the trailer, for that matter. See for yourself, because that’s what it’s going to take.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

It’s tough to miss a film festival where a highly anticipated movie is playing, but it’s a lot easier to handle when the reaction bursting out of the theater is roundly positive. Excitedly positive. None of this, “It was okay, but…” nonsense clouding the expectations game for something we want to blow our minds. Enter Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. With stratospheric hopes, the new partnership between the Children of Men director and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki lands in theaters in early October, but Venice Film Festival goers got an early look, and apparently their eyes are completely dilated.

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gravity

Don’t have enough tension and worry in your life? No problem, because the marketing of Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón’s new space thriller, Gravity, seems intent on freaking us all out to the point where we’ll all be sent off to the nuthouse for some decompression before we ever even get a chance to see the movie. Just yesterday we posted a new trailer put together for the film subtitled “Detached,” which was a single-take shot, reminiscent of the most famous sequence from Children of Men, that put you right in the middle of the action of a space walk gone wrong. Was that closing image of Sandra Bullock drifting off into nothing enough to fuel your nightmares for the next few months on its own? Then maybe you won’t want to click through this one, because today we’ve got two more sequences from the film that are equally as likely to make your brain glitch and your body go numb with fear.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

This is when the real panic sets in. Stunning in its execution, the new trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity does its duty in evoking Children of Men‘s most famous scene. The abject terror, the immediacy of profound danger, the single-take-ness. If you’re not standing and clapping by the time it’s over, it’s probably because you still can’t breath:

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review heat

In 2011, Paul Feig‘s Bridesmaids became a break out hit. Feig had mostly been known as a TV director up until that point (so we won’t remind you about Unaccompanied Minors). That’s not meant as a put down in any way, the man worked on some great shows like The Office and Arrested Development, but Bridesmaids was bigger than anything he’d done before. It was a rare animal indeed, an R-rated comedy with a predominantly female cast. But it worked and now Feig is back with his take on the buddy cop comedy starring two women in the lead roles instead of men. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this cop right? And he’s hot-headed and crude, hates authority and refuses to play by the rules. And then he ends up getting partnered with this totally straight-laced dude, a real square, I mean the guy may as well wear a pocket protector. So, of course, they hate each other. Despite their polar opposite approaches they’re both great cops. But trying to work together, they’re at each others throats to the point that their bosses are fed up. This work complication happens around the same time that the two dudes realize they have more in common than they think…in fact, they may actually like each other. Kicked off the case and on the outs, their only option is to put their differences aside and solve the case together. This is the plot of pretty much every buddy cop […]

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bullock

What is Casting Couch? It’s the place actors go to try to get jobs, and it’s the place you can go to find out who got which jobs in which movie. Today we’ve got word that Chris Tucker is set to make his triumphant return to leading man status. Every good orphan story needs a mean old jerk who makes the orphans’ lives miserable, and it’s starting to look like producers Will Smith and Jay Z have found theirs for the Quvenzhane Wallis-starring update of Annie they’re putting together. Sandra Bullock had already been in talks to play Miss Hannigan, the cruel lady who runs the orphanage Annie lives in, back in March, but things fell apart at the time. THR is reporting that things are now back on, however, as talks with Bullock have recommenced, and one would tend to think that the only reason that would be the case is if the fundamental thing that was tripping them up last time had changed. Get ready to see Sandra’s scowl.

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Gravity

The director of A Little Princess, and the stars of Love Potion No. 9 and Return of the Killer Tomatoes join forces for one of the year’s most anticipated films. Strap yourself in, and take a look at the first teaser for Alfonso Cuarón‘s Gravity.

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Sandra Bullock

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news compilation that has word of a new action movie starring the Muscles From Brussels himself, JCVD. Buckle up. It seems like there’s always been a segment of the filmgoing audience that has something against Sandra Bullock. Maybe that’s because she teased everybody by starring in Demolition Man and Speed in the early ’90s and then went on to make a bunch of lame romantic comedies where she tries too hard to be goofy instead of doing more action stuff. Whatever the reason, she might finally be able to channel those bad tidings and use it in her next job, because Deadline Hollywood is reporting that the usually sugary-sweet actress is going to be voicing the new villain in the upcoming Despicable Me spinoff, Minions. As you may have guessed, she’ll be playing an evil lady who has her life ruined by her little, yellow, inept minions. This time it’s okay to hate, go ahead.

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the-heat-movie

Here comes the best way to start your Thursday morning: Melissa McCarthy and her gratuitous yet creative use of the f-word. It comes in the form of the new red band trailer for Paul Feig’s The Heat, his follow-up to Bridesmaids and Sandra Bullock‘s raunchy lost sequel to Miss Congeniality. Bullock is the straight man, an FBI lady who plays by the rules. McCarthy is a rough-and-tumble cop who grew up on da streets. Together, they seem like a ridiculous pair. Ridiculously fun to watch, that is.

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