Yep, it’s that time of the year again. The 2015 Oscar nominations are here and it’s time for everyone to get outraged and cynical over which movies get the opportunity to take home statuettes of naked golden dudes. Sure, we always tell ourselves that the Academy Awards don’t really matter and that a film’s legacy will live or die for reasons beyond trophies, but we always end up getting angry about these things anyway. However, this year’s biggest snubs seems more egregious than usual and require slightly more yelling and stamping of feet.
It’s become fashionable in recent years to hate the Golden Raspberry Awards (AKA, the Razzies) and for good reason. The inherently negative awards claim to celebrate the worst films of the year, but they frequently nominate or “honor” ambitious misfires or boring studio junk over the real worst films of the year. To be fair, the Razzies are and have always been a big silly joke, but they’re a joke that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And yet, it’s really hard to look at this year’s nominees and disagree. With a handful of minor exceptions, this looks like a year where the Razzies actually, well, kinda’ got it right.
You’d be surprised by how many beloved directors earn a little extra cash anonymously directing commercials, but when you hire the great Martin Scorsese to help sell your lavish new casino in Manilla Bay, Philippines, you end up with a full fledged Scorsese Picture. Which means that this is one of the most energetic and stylish advertisements you’ll see this year … and that it stars Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The advent of new technology has effectively killed so many old school horror cliches (it’s not easy to get lost in the woods when you have a tiny computer for a phone) that filmmakers working within the genre often have to work overtime to invent brand new cliches that complement the age of the iPhone. The ‘Unfriended’ trailer represents a movie that has clearly gotten the memo but decided to take things to the extreme. This isn’t just a horror movie that features all of the social networks and online tools you use on a regular basis, it’s a horror movie about those things. Dun, dun, duuuun!
Although all of the public focus is currently on the looming release of ‘Star Wars: Episode 7,’ Disney, Lucasfilm and director Gareth Edwards are currently trying to whip the first standalone film in the saga into shape. A few days ago, original screenwriter Gary Whitta amicably departed the project after completing his initial draft, leading the entire internet to wonder what’s next for this mysterious project, which is still due out in 2016. Now, it looks like the next screenwriter writer has already been found. Enter Simon Kinberg.
After months of rumors and speculation, it looks like director Paul Feig is finally starting to assemble his cast for his ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. The name at the top of his list should surprise no one: Melissa McCarthy, who he previously directed to an Oscar nomination and huge box office success in ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘The Heat,' and who is in early talks to star in the film.
Okay, let’s ask the big question: what the hell is ‘Chappie’? The first trailer made the film look like a slightly goofy and overly sentimental ‘Short Circuit’ riff, with the title robot learning about the world ... while teaching us (blech). The new trailer feels more like director Neill Blomkamp’s previous work, showcasing wacky science fiction ideas and explosive action. In any case, we’re definitely not sold on the film yet based on either trailer.
‘Batman vs. Superman’ doesn’t open until 2016, but our first glimpse at footage from Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ follow-up may be right around the corner. According to the latest internet buzz, the first teaser trailer for the film will arrive next month, attached to ‘Jupiter Ascending.’
Last night, we reported that 20th Century Fox was shaking up its schedule, maneuvering sequels to ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ into new positions. However, one of the films given a new release date is a project that continues to perplex us: the adaptation of the popular video game ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ which was first announced ages ago as a franchise for Michael Fassbender. Will we ever see this movie or will it continue to keep shifting further and further backwards on Fox’s schedule until it vanishes altogether?
The ‘Big Game’ trailer sells a concept that rides a fine line between totally preposterous and incredible. What if Air Force One was shot down and the President’s escape pod landed in the isolated woods of Finland? What is the President, now pursued by terrorists, only had one ally? What if that one ally was a pre-teen boy armed with a bow? What if the President was played by Samuel L. Jackson? Yeah, ‘Big Game’ is a real movie and we still can’t decide if it’s too ludicrous or just ludicrous enough.
With all of his projects, J.J. Abrams has shown extraordinary good taste in casting and ‘Star Wars: Episode 7’ is no different. Forget about the old-timers returning to the saga and think about John Boyega, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie and the other terrific thespians being given the biggest spotlight of their careers. Abrams, more than most working filmmakers, knows how to showcase an actor or actress in a way that makes us wonder why they weren’t movie stars before he cast them. Anyway, this is just a longwinded way of getting around to saying that Abrams’ impeccable taste is once again on display since a trio of actors from ‘The Raid’ and ‘The Raid 2’ are apparently in ‘The Force Awakens.’
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
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