The Help

IntroMeals

Since it’s right upon us, I thought it might be fun to completely ruin your Thanksgiving this year. With no further introduction, here are the most disgusting meals consumed by human people in movies. Enjoy!

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Over Under - Large

In 2011, director Tate Taylor adapted Kathryn Stockett’s novel “The Help,” a story about the relationship between the wealthy whites and the poor blacks who raised their children of 60s-era Mississippi, into a feature film. When all was said and done, Taylor’s film made nearly ten times its production budget, was nominated for a truckload of awards (including 8 NAACP Image Awards and 4 Academy Awards), and had everyone’s aunts and grandmas talking their ears off about how much they wanted to go see it. To say that it ended up being a success would be something of an understatement. The Landlord is the debut of director Hal Ashby, one of the great ’70s filmmakers who, for some reason, doesn’t get the same recognition as many of his contemporaries. It earned Lee Grant a nomination for Best Supporting Actress back in the day, but it’s a film (like most of Ashby’s work not named Harold and Maude) that’s been generally forgotten over time. This is strange, because not only is it a great film that pushes some racial hot-buttons, but it also features a couple of actors who went on to do big things in Beau Bridges and Lou Gossett Jr.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. It’s finally here! The time of year where I can write a paragraph that no one will read because they’ve already scrolled down to see who’s won. But even though this won’t be seen by humans, here’s a personal reminder that this night may be about politics and back-slapping, but it’s also about the splendor of cinema. It’s about the magic of movies. The genius of thousands of images all strung together with blood, sweat and tears to create characters and a journey through the heart of a story. There are some great stories on display tonight. That’s what matters second most. What matters most, of course, is crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentation of their women. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Picture

The Best Picture Academy Award is really what explains film as a collaborative effort. The Best Picture is what the Academy has found to be the best combination of every aspect that film has, whether thematically or structurally. The producers of the winner take home the Oscar, because, well, they footed the bill. They were also the decision-makers. We know its more of a gray area than that, but the classic Academy likes to think like classic movie-making. It doesn’t stop the Best Picture winners from being some of the greatest pieces of work in the artform. One film this Sunday will be written in along with films like It Happened One Night, On The Waterfront, The Godfather parts 1 & 2, and No Country For Old Men. That’s a list of 83 movies that will be or already are considered essentials when it comes to film history. We don’t look down on the nominees who didn’t win. What are they called? Oh, yeah. Losers. But, seriously, they are all films of value in some form or another, films that were still able to make their mark on some part of this history. But it’s that big boy. That one who gets its name yelled out at the end of the night, who hears the orchestra play their music for the climax of the show, that’s the one that’ll make headlines come Monday morning. Which one is it gonna be? The odds seem better for some, but here’s the breakdown […]

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Actress

In recent years, the Best Actress Oscar has been a far more compelling race than the Best Actor Oscar. Where Best Actor winners have been those whose time has come (like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart or Colin Firth in The King’s Speech), the Best Actress Oscar has been a tighter and less predictable race. The roles that have won Best Actress have been increasingly edgy over the past decade or so, as well as honoring relatively younger actresses (including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and Hilary Swank). This year offers an interesting mix of candidates who cover a range of ages and experiences. The actresses in Hollywood should be proud that their top roles are about such challenging subjects as sexual identity and female empowerment. This is a more radical turn from the Best Actor field, which has roles dealing with relationship drama, sports and spying. To quote an old cigarette campaign for Virginia Slims, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” It’s been a long way from the early days of Hollywood where more traditional damsel roles were far more prominent. The meatier roles and blockbuster heroes continue to go to male actors, but the real depth of character and challenging subject matter has been making its way to the women of Hollywood, if in a smaller degree at least a more noticeable degree. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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Culture Warrior

The Oscar montage reel is a genre on its own. It’s transparently demonstrative of the overall function of the Academy Awards. These montage reels summarize and make explicit what the annual ceremony attempts to accomplish writ large: to create and solidify a canon of important American films, along with a delimited understanding of their importance. Yes, the Oscars have occasionally given a voice to the indie underdog and rush through their obligatory movies-with-subtitles category, but besides the occasional screenplay nomination for a truly innovative film and the rare foreign language film that broaches through the marginal categories, the Oscars are by and large a celebration of American cinema, specifically Hollywood cinema. During the 2006 ceremony, a moment occurred that has been seared into my memory. I haven’t been able to find a clip of it online since it aired six years ago, so I hope this isn’t wishful or inaccurate. The 2006 ceremony consisted of a spate of overtly political films, as Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Munich, Good Night and Good Luck competed for top honors, and Syriana was in the running for other awards. In likely hopes of gaining cultural capital from celebrating mainstream cinema’s rarely explored but ever-present political function, the Academy aired a self-congratulatory reel of past Oscar-nominated films that have addressed other topical social problems, from In the Heat of the Night to Philadelphia. When the lights came back and the audience applauded with anticipated decorum, host Jon Stewart then graced the stage and stated, in a […]

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Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

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Nick Fury

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that frankly doesn’t have much to say this evening. So it’s all good stuff. Quality over Quantity and whatnot. We begin tonight with a new image from The Avengers, as published by Marvel.com in a new batch of images from the highly anticipated film. In this one, Nick Fury, as played by Samuel L. Jackson, has some gnarly eye scarring going on. As if that guy needed to look more like a badass.

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The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful. This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass. Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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Noomi Rapace in Prometheus

What is Movie News After Dark? It is all about movie news, it happens nightly, and you should never, ever go to bed without it. Should you happen to do so, we’re most likely going to send someone out to teach you a lesson. And you don’t want to learn any hard lessons now, do you? We didn’t think so. We begin tonight with an image that is sweeping the internet. With a little lightening, this new image of Noomi Rapace in Prometheus reveals a pair of Space Jockeys in the background. It’s hard to tell from this angle, but they look rather large and intimidating. It goes along with a quote writer/producer Damon Lindelof gave to Hero Complex: “The movie is definitely epic in its scope. One of the filmmakers that we ended up talking about to a fair degree of redundancy was David Lean, who directed ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ We wanted to make the movie feel big by having the characters be small in big spaces. That connected to the larger themes we were talking about — that we’re all just these little gnats crawling around on our little planet.”

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The Writers Guild of America has released the nominees for their Writer’s Guild Awards today, and while there’s certainly some room for quibbling as far as their choices go, the screenplays they’ve nominated in their film categories are at least a diverse array of projects. There’s something here for everyone. I balked at these choices a bit on first glance, they’d left off many of my favorite films of the year. But after thinking about what was missing for a few seconds I started to realize that a lot of the films I really loved over the course of 2011 relied more on mood and photography than they did their screenplays. In my mind, there was no real superstar script this year, like Inception and The Social Network last year. I loved things like Drive and Shame, but did their greatness really lie in their screenplays? Still, I can think of a handful of things that I would have liked to have seen included that weren’t. As far as original screenplays go, I think a film like Warrior was a master of structure, and is more deserving than something like Bridesmaids, which was a fairly generic comedy plot and which probably relied largely on improvisation for its humor. And I really miss a nomination for something like The Skin I Live In when it comes to the adapted screenplay section; especially when they’ve nominated a film like The Help, which cannot name writing as one of its strengths. Check out […]

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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Good morning from Los Angeles, where we announce major award nominations at 5:30AM on a Thursday morning. That’s how much we value your sleep patterns and sanity. Now that I’ve pulled myself out of a state of under caffeinated shock over some of the Golden Globe nominations – namely, that Ryan Gosling was nominated for lead actor in both the drama and comedy and musical categories, though neither of those nods was for Drive (Crazy, Stupid, Love.? really? I had no idea that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was so into abs!). Beyond that jolt to the system, there were a number of standard choices for the awards. The Artist? Well, of course? But all that Ides of March love? Interesting. The Artist leads with six nominations, followed by The Descendants and The Help with five each, and The Ides of March, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball with four nods. But despite the overwhelming sense that (per usual) the Globes are just softball awards, there are some surprisingly good picks buried amongst the fluff – Tilda Swinton getting a lead actress (drama) nomination, Michael Fassbender earning a lead actor (drama) nod for Shame, Bridesmaids and Midnight in Paris up for Best Picture (comedy or musical), Charlize Theron getting a lead actress (comedy or musical) nomination for Young Adult, The Skin I Live In up for Best Foreign Film, and Albert Brooks getting his nod for supporting actor for Drive (drama). The Golden Globes will air live on January 15. Check out […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week in DVD… the international edition! Well not really, but half of this week’s twelve titles covered are from foreign lands. Not only that, but they’re the best of this week’s releases too. Today’s releases include the extended and very timely cut of the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, the underwhelming Cowboys & Aliens, the final season of Big Love, three Italian films of varying quality, the year’s most disappointing sequel and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Body Puzzle Someone is killing Italians and removing singular parts of their anatomy, and those pieces are winding up in Joanna Pacula’s house. Surprisingly, she’s none too thrilled at this turn of events, and with the help of a determined detective they work to discover the killer’s identity and motive. Lamberto Bava’s early nineties giallo isn’t well known, and having finally seen it I can’t understand why. The kills and set-pieces are stylishly done, the script is fairly sharp, and the movie as a whole is good fun. It’s actually become my favorite of Bava the younger’s films. RaroVideo’s new DVD also features a strong and vibrant transfer and a booklet featuring an essay on the film. [DVD includes no extra features.]

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Ever since Melissa McCarthy stole our hearts and upset our stomachs with a breakthrough, gross out performance in Bridesmaids, we’ve been tracking the skyrocketing of her career very closely. In rapid succession it was announced that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig was developing a project specifically for her, that she landed a role in Judd Apatow’s next directorial effort This is Forty, and also that she scored a big part in the upcoming Jason Bateman-gets-pushed-around-again comedy ID Theft. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the things that McCarthy has been up to since Bridesmaids was released, however. The Hollywood Reporter has a cover story on the actress that talks about her winning an Emmy for her role on Mike & Molly, getting the opportunity to host Saturday Night Live, starting her own production company, and even starting up her own design label. She’s like the Jay Z of comedic actresses. The part of the article that interested me the most though, was the announcement of a couple more film projects she has in development. They did not give too many details about the first one, but apparently it’s a dark comedy that McCarthy is co-writing with The Help writer/director Tate Taylor. They know each other from their days of being in The Groundlings together and the script is currently half-finished. The other project, that we get a couple of plot details about, is called Tammy. It’s the project that McCarthy says she is most excited about, […]

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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The Reject Report

I may have spoken a little too soon about the Circle of Life in this week’s Reject Report. The Circle of Life isn’t complete until a 17-year-old film, The Lion King in this case, gets re-released in 3D on over 2,300 screens and subsequently takes the box office by storm. That’s right. More than 17 years after its initial run, which pulled in $825.7m worldwide, The Lion King has Hakuna Matata’ed in the #1 spot yet again. It didn’t match the $34.2m opening weekend numbers it made the first weekend of July in 1994, but it came reasonably close. Close enough to let Disney as well as anyone who even had an inkling of an idea to re-release an older film in 3D know that that might be the way to go. Just five weekend ago article were being written about the possible demise of 3D. With films like Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night not living up to expectations, it seemed the novelty of seeing films that literally come at you may have been at its frayed end. Of course, you can’t give 3D all the credit for The Lion King stacking up against the competition. The film is a classic, regarded by many as one of Disney’s best, and the children of 1994 who fell in the love with the film are now taking their own kids to watch it. Even without the 3D element it’s a formula for success, one made even more potent with the added […]

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The Reject Report

I thought about opening this Reject Report with a play on the lyrics to “Circle of the Life.” A certain Disney classic is getting its re-release in 3-D this weekend, and you know how we love playing around with lyrics here at the Reject Report. But then we witnessed Ryan Gosling wearing leather driving gloves. Never mind the white bomber jacket complete with scorpion embroidered on the back. Those gloves are what we focused on. Then, after about 45 minutes of staring, we remembered we have a job to do. There’s box office analyses that need to be…um…analyzed, and four new wide releases to split the box office dollars between them. Two R-rated thrillers, that Disney classic that’s getting a re-release on over 2300 screens, and a rom-com starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Over/under on how many words I give that movie.

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The Reject Report

America had a fever…and the only cure…was more fever. Not cowbell this time. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion hit audience wallets hard this weekend bringing the director his biggest opening outside of films starring Julia Roberts. Maybe there is something to that American darling. Contagion was pretty well on par with analysis, knocked The Help off of its three-week pedestal, and ended up taking the #1 spot with a feverish vengeance. Okay, enough quips about sickness. Well maybe one or two more. As far as disaster movies go, the $60m star-studded film was pretty middle of the road, fitting in as far as opening weekends go between Poseidon‘s $22.1m and Knowing‘s $24.6m. Of course, looking at that reported budget, you can tell the film will be just fine in the long run. Most of the disaster films that have much bigger openings are Summer blockbusters, most of them involving some sort of alien being blowing up national monuments. But Soderbergh proved that even with a whimper you can create an effective end-of-the-world scenario and still rake in some decent cash.

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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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published: 12.05.2014
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