Viola Davis

Universal

For most of us, everything we know about hackers comes from the movies. They exist in a couple different variations — the good ones are young, geeky and capable of doing anything, and the evil ones are a little bit older, still geeky and even more capable of doing anything. Michael Mann‘s take on the character was bound to be a little bit different from the norm, but who knew he’d find inspiration in 2001’s Huge Ackman-starrer Swordfish? Blackhat stars Chris Hemsworth as Nicholas Hathoway, a legendary hacker currently serving time for, well, hacking. He’s released early in order to help the feds identify and apprehend a far more dangerous hacker who’s wreaking havoc on the world’s financial infrastructure, but lest you think Hemsworth’s going to be stuck behind a keyboard for the whole movie think again. This hacker is also a field agent with weapons and hand-to-hand combat skills to spare. Check out the first trailer below.

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Get On Up

Question! Does the funk stop? Ever? Think on it. Ready? The answer is no, the funk does not stop, as the snappy, jazzy tagline to Tate Taylor‘s James Brown biopic, Get On Up, reminds us. Keep that in mind until, oh, let’s say August, when the film hits screens, and you might be appropriately ready for the kind of moving and grooving that apparently awaits us in Taylor’s next film. The latest biopic to dance on to the big screen focuses on the Godfather of Soul’s trip to the big time (played here by 42′s Chadwick Boseman), spanning his childhood all way up to the height of his success. Although we can probably expect to see to lots of fun dancing and hot singing and some of the best hairstyles cinema has offered so far this year, the film’s latest trailer focuses on something a bit more dramatic: Brown’s fraught relationship with his mother (played by Viola Davis), who abandoned the Hardest Working Man in Show Business when he was just a kid. Get ready to get a little teary.

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Get On Up Trailer

Awwww yeah, things are about to get a little more funky up in here, everybody. The trailer for the long-gestating James Brown biopic, Get On Up (Can we be honest with each other, here? Maybe there could have been a better title besides reaching for a familiar song title), has landed and it’s exceedingly catchy. The story of the Godfather of Soul is apparently a comprehensive look at the legendary singer’s formative years up until the height of his success, and it’s not skimping out on any of the music that made the man so famous. The film, directed by The Help‘s Tate Taylor, stars Chadwick Boseman (42) as the titular soul man as he maneuvers through a rough childhood, time spent in jail and through all that fame business. Being a superstar is kind of a big part of this story, if you didn’t gather that on your own. The trailer touches on a part of the singer’s life that you might not have heard about: his volatile relationship with his mother (Viola Davis), who abandoned him at age six to leave him to be raised in a brothel with his aunt, played by Octavia Spencer.

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DeLabeouf

What is Casting Couch? Your daily dose of casting news. Today we’ve got a new job for Viola Davis as well as word on who the next actor to mutate for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past will be. According to Heat Vision, Robert De Niro and Shia LaBeouf are both in negotiations to take the starring roles in an upcoming espionage thriller called Spy’s Kid. That’s, Spy’s Kid, not Spy Kids, which is something totally different. What’s this one about? It’s based on the true story of a CIA operative named Jim Nicholson who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 23 years in prison, but who kept the family business alive by teaching his son how to ply his trade from jail. Shady deals with Russian operatives followed. Alongside De Niro and LaBeouf negotiating to star, LaBeouf’s Disturbia director DJ Caruso is also negotiating to direct, and whether the whole package comes together or not is said to hinge largely on if the script that eventually gets written is any good. No writer has yet been hired.

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Han Solo

What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting news column that’s been talking way more about a movie based on a racing video game than it imagined it would be. Read on for more information. It’s bound to get pretty annoying following every rumor that pops up about the new Star Wars movie between now and 2015. But, let’s face it, when comments start getting thrown around about Harrison Ford playing Han Solo again, even vague rumors start to get pretty interesting. So, when Inside Movies announced that they have sources claiming that Ford has reversed his famously grumpy position on Star Wars being lame, and that he, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher are now all “upbeat” about more movies getting made, geeks everywhere instantly started salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. Let’s try to not let this Star Wars thing get out of hand—but Harrison Ford might play Han Solo again, y’all!

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The public school system-targeted message drama Won’t Back Down is a kind of war film. It opens on a hazy classroom scene in which a little girl is attempting to read a sentence on the blackboard as her fellow grunts are half-dying (learning-wise) around her. The sound is muffled, as if a bomb has just gone off and the blast has damaged the characters’ hearing. Machine gun fire is heard nearby, from another student’s video game. Their leader is preoccupied with her own life and useless to them. The enemy that the girl is currently up against is the word “story.” If that’s not a baited call for criticism with the film’s own story… And indeed it’s a fitting moment, but not because the story is badly told so much as the children get lost in it. The film recognizes that there is an education war going on, with revolutionary parents battling powerful teachers unions, and it’s the children stuck in the trenches, caught in the crossfire. But at the same time, Won’t Back Down is not really about the kids, either.

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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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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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Sometime around 2008, when The Twilight Saga was proving to be beyond bankable, bookstores were deluged with a bevy of YA titles that all seemed hellbent on capturing the presumed magic of Stephenie Meyer’s series. As if some of their plotlines didn’t already sound interchangeable enough (magic, mythical creatures, forbidden love, weak characterization), most of their cover art looked oddly similar – which is why I can recall seeing the covers of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s Caster Chronicles series, but never happened to pick them up to take a look. It looks like I might need to change that, at least if I want to stay current with my YA-books-getting-turned-into-movies news. The first book in the five-book series is set for a big screen adaptation, thanks to Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment, and while Beautiful Creatures already got a major credibility bump when Viola Davis joined its cast last week, now the real news is out – who will star as the leads in yet another tale of star-crossed lovers. Jack O’Connell (“Skins,” This is England, Harry Brown) and relative newcomer Alice Englert (The Water Diary) are set to play Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, respectively. Beautiful Creatures is set in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina and follows the fortunes of Lena and Ethan after the bewitching Lena moves to town. What I’ve gleaned from some Internet sleuthing is that Lena possesses some type of supernatural power (the fan site CasterGirls tells us that a caster is […]

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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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“There becomes this idea, this narrative that says, ‘Well, it’s going to be 13-30-year-old white men which is the target. Because we want to open.’ Because everyone makes their money opening weekend. Well that’s actually not the audience. There is an audience for all of this. We’ve just forgotten it.” That’s George Clooney discussing the condescension inherent in the mindset of some executives in the studio system. His comment comes after a question to newly minted double Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help) is asked in the Newsweek Oscar roundtable why this is her first starring role. The answer? “I’m a 46-year-old black woman who really doesn’t look like Halle Berry, and Halle Berry is having a hard time,” said Davis. A clever turn of phrase underlining the reality that there are few roles for women of a certain color and a certain age. It’s certainly a complex issue with any number of historical, social and artistic causes, but the numbers are certainly there.

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Jonah Hill

As you may have noticed if you’ve gone online or been anywhere near a TV today, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were announced this morning. Along with that always comes the scrambling to contact those nominated to get their reaction to the honor. Usually what they have to say is pretty boring, but hey, it’s a tradition. And it’s one that Variety has been hard at work keeping all day long. As a service to the world, I’ve compiled some of the more high profile reactions they’ve received here in one place.

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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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Full disclosure: I have not read Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I read his Everything is Illuminated and it just wasn’t my bag, so it’s fair to say that a part of me has been dreading the latest film adaptation of one of his novels. Stephen Daldry‘s take on the material seems a bit pre-packaged for the proper type of awards season buzz, what with its heavy hitter cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, and Jeffrey Wright), the vaguely stunt-y casting of its young lead (Thomas Horn, a non-actor who reportedly got the part after his win on Jeopardy!), and a Christmas Day release date. There’s also the very premise of the book. The plot centers around young Oskar Schell, a kid genius who loses his dad in the 9/11 attacks. After Oskar finds a key in his dad’s belongings, he sets out to find out the meaning behind the key. Of course, he discovers much more along the way. And while that all sounds sort of twee and innocent and sad, I had a feeling about how the material would be brought to the screen, a bad feeling that’s only aggravated by this first trailer for the film, which you can watch after the break.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr makes big plans to publish a best-selling book that women across the nation will read in hoity-toity book clubs. Step one: Move to the deep south and get raised by an African American maid. While Kevin tries to figure out how to move past that step, he gets a job delivering pizzas and lives in constant fear he’ll be used in a bank heist. Then he cheats death by avoiding the Glee concert movie, but lives in even more constant fear that the flick will hunt him down and make him watch it.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr recovers from a full day of watching Armageddon back-to-back to crawl back to the multiplex. He re-lived the last eight minutes of Source Code over and over, thoroughly confusing himself. Then he stumbled into the theater next door to learn about the true meaning of Easter from Russell Brand and James Marsden. Things take a decidedly creepy turn when he watches Insidious and wets himself more than once. This led to a very unfortunate scene while he watched the sexual-predator cautionary tale Trust. No one would believe him it was just wee wee.

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Many of us remember David Schwimmer from the television series Friends, but he has since dipped his toes into directing. His second feature, following up the comedy Run Fat Boy Run, is the drama Trust, which deals with online predators. Starring Clive Owen, Catherine Keener and newcomer Liana Liberato, Trust tells the story of a fifteen year old girl who is targeted through text messages and social networks. One of the first cities in which Trust will open is Columbus, but FSR will be giving away free tickets to an early screening of the film before it opens anywhere else. If you live in the Columbus area, you can get your hands on a ticket that allows you into a super-secret screening of Trust on Thursday, March 31 at the AMC Lennox at 7:30 PM.

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Things are going hot and heavy with that new crush you’ve formed online. You ignored Hard Candy and Catfish, but maybe you won’t ignore Trust. Directed by David Schwimmer, it seems to be a different brand of online anonymity heartbreak. The trailer looks heady and emotional, and you can’t go wrong with Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, and Viola Davis. Check it out for yourself:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr takes a gander at the demographically delineated movie selection this weekend. The ladies have Julia Roberts finding herself in Eat Pray Love. The dudes have Sly and the action family Stallone with the much anticipated The Expendables. And the fanboys fresh from Comic-Con have the high-concept slug-fest Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Sorry to all the teenage girls out there. You’ll just have to go see Eclipse at the dollar theater this weekend.

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Eat Pray Love

It’s been ten years since Julia Roberts starred in a bona fide hit, both commercially and critically. What has she been up to since Erin Brockovich? Lots of supporting roles, a few misguided star vehicles, and three kids… but now it looks like Roberts is ready to get back into the game 100% with a film featuring her front and center as the sole lead character.

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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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