The Hush-Hush News Report: 02.21.13: Ben Aflleck’s Redemption Party
– What else is Argo going to win? It feels like a fait accompli at this point that Ben Affleck’s Middle Eastern thriller is going to win the night’s biggest prize for Best Picture. What else it takes home is up for debate. Three awards has been something of a floor historically for Best Picture winners and Argo’s best shots at getting to three are Editing and Adapted Screenplay. The chances of an Argo sweep are unlikely, although if they want to give the film more, it could pull off the upset in the Sound categories as well as Score. We’ll know what kind of haul Argo gets if Alan Arkin pulls off the stunner for Supporting Actor (highly unlikely) early in the night.
– What film wins the most awards?How big might Life of Pi’s technical haul be could ultimately answer this question. Ang Lee has a decent chance to win Best Director, but the film’s surest bets are in Cinematography and Visual Effects. It also has a very decent chance to take Score, Production Design and one or both of the Sound categories. No movie is likely to walk away with a huge haul, but Life of Pi could pip both Lincoln, Les Mis and Argo to become the night’s biggest winner.
– Can Harvey Weinstein do it again? Never, ever underestimate Harvey Weinstein. The Oscar campaign maestro has done this so many times and pulled off so many wins that to ignore his nominees in any given category – especially the biggies – is foolhardy. The Weinstein Company is backing Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained and The Master on the night. While Harvey has admitted making mistakes this year in his campaigns, both Christoph Waltz and Robert De Niro have come on strong in the Supporting Actor race while Jennifer Lawrence has been able to hold onto a pretty steady (if diminishing) lead in her Best Actress race. David O. Russell has also seemingly come on strong with the more personal storyline of his son’s autism helping reach voters and sell the movie, while Tarantino’s Django Unchained has been able to recover from controversy upon its release and could give the popular auteur the Best Screenplay award the Academy did not give to him for Inglourious Basterds.
~ Who will join the history books? Daniel Day-Lewis is almost a mortal lock to win his third Oscar for Lead Actor – a first for a man. Robert De Niro could join DDL with his third award and his first win in over three decades. With wins, Day-Lewis and De Niro would join Walter Brennan and Jack Nicholson as the only men to ever win 3 acting awards (Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman won three, while Katharine Hepburn won four on the ladies’ side). Steven Spielberg also has a chance to make history. The legendary director could join John Ford, Frank Capra and William Wyler as the only men to be named Best Director by the Academy three times (Ford won four total). An Emmanuelle Riva win would make the oldest winner in history, while a Quvenzhané Wallis win would make her the youngest Lead Actress winner ever. Jennifer Lawrence would be the second-youngest Lead Actress winner ever, while Benh Zeitlin would easily be the youngest filmmaker to ever win Best Director. And then there’s Argo, which is looking to avoid joining only The Broadway Melody, Grand Hotel and Mutiny on the Bounty as the only film to win Best Picture and nothing else.
Before you sit down to watch the Oscars this year, check out this video of footage from all previous 84 Best Picture winners.
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2013 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts
Now allow me to plug some of our 411 film reviews here including reviews of:
A Good Day to Die Hard 
A Good Day to Die Hard
John Dies at the End
The Last Stand
Texas Chainsaw 3D
Zero Dark Thirty 
Zero Dark Thirty
We’d still write them if no one was reading, but to be honest it’s better and more worthwhile when people do. Something about a tree falling in a forest. Anyway, on with the news….
We’ve gotten a bunch of new clips and still photos in the past day or so. A few include:
A new clip from Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful has been released showing some of what you can expect from the film’s special effects as James Franco takes a ride through Oz via bubble. I’m pretty sure Dorothy wouldn’t have minded that instead of walking down the yellow brick road in high heels, but that is neither here nor there I suppose.
Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well..
Meanwhile, we’ve also got our best look yet at the highly anticipated adaptation of Ender’s Game. The photo gives us our first look at Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Petra Arkanian (the only girl in the Salamander Army) together at Battle School. Also, in the background you can see Khylin Rhambo as Dink Meeker (right, next to Ender), and Moises Arias as Bonzo Madrid (end of the table on the left). Also starring in the film are Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Harrison Ford
In the near future, a hostile alien race (called the Formics) have attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander, Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and the International Military are training only the best young children to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a shy, but strategically brilliant boy is pulled out of his school to join the elite.
Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult war games, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham, himself, to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.
Meanwhile, Bryan Singer has teased X-Men fans again by tweeting another new photo from the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past. The photo looks a whole lot like the hallway in Professor Xavier’s mansion that leads to Cerebro.
The film was written by Simon Kinberg, based on the story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne in Uncanny X-Men #141 and #142 in 1981. In the story, there is “an alternate future for Marvel’s mutants that grew out of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants killing an important senator, leading to a future where all mutants are hunted by Sentinels.”
The film features returning original trilogy stars Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, and possibly Halle Berry, while teaming them with their X-Men: First Class counterparts James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage. X-Men: Days of Future Past will be released on July 18, 2014.
That helps transition to a newly released official still from The Wolverine, featuring Hugh Jackman as squinty-eyed (but still pretty badass) Wolverine. The photo was accompanied with the following quote: “The past is always behind you, but the memories still remain.”
Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine, the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.
The film, to be directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In), will take place 15 years after the events of the previous film. While much of the film’s plot is being kept under wrap, the report indicates that some of the focus will be on the human scientists struggling to survive alone in San Francisco while another will be about the struggle of Caesar, the intelligent ape who led the iniital rebellion (played by a returning Andy Serkis), to maintain dominance over his new kingdom. At this point, it is unclear who Clarke will play. Meanwhile, the producers are currently working off a draft of the script by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard), and are eying a spring shoot.
Some of Clarke’s notable screen roles in Public Enemies and Lawless – as well as his upcoming role as George Wilson in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby) got him noticed as did his work on Fox’s short-lived cop drama The Chicago Code and Showtime’s gangsters-and-politics drama Brotherhood . However, it was his role in ZDT that opened Hollywood’s eyes to his leading man potential, which will now be put to the test in the highly anticipated Apes sequel.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will hit theaters in 3D on May 23, 2014.
On an Identity Thief Sequel: “[A sequel to Identity Thief is] absolutely a conversation that we’re having. We think we created great characters, so we’ll discuss how to re-pair Jason and Melissa going forward.”
On the studio’s plans for more Bourne films: “The point of the last movie was to create a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward. Yeah, the movie didn’t perform the way the last one did. It also didn’t cost what the last one did. It performed more along the lines of how the first one did. I absolutely see us doing more Bourne, 100 percent yes. Matt has talked about the possibility of coming back, and we totally respect that and are excited if and when he wants to have conversations. But I think the last movie gave us a big bunch of options to pursue a next chapter.”
**[Translation: “PLEASE MATT COME BACK! PRETTY PLEASE! WE WANT TO MAKE MORE OF THESE SO WE’LL GIVE YOU ANYTHING YOU WANT, JUST COME BACK!!!”]**
On what’s going on with the suddenly Rupert Sanders-less Snow White and the Huntsman sequel: “We’re actively developing the movie right now with Kristen’s character central, as well as the Huntsman role. We think that for a first movie out of the gate to do basically $400 million worldwide, there is a lot of opportunity. I don’t think [director] Rupert [Sanders] is pursuing the next Snow White as a directing opportunity.”
On Universal’s history with monsters and his vision for their Van Helsing reboot [reportedly starring Tom Cruise]: “Universal monsters are probably the thing people most equate with our library. But monsters are not superheroes. Virtually every monster story is by definition a tragic story. We are developing another Mummy. We are looking at rebooting Van Helsing because I think the idea for the Van Helsing story was a great way of solving the question of, ‘How do you make a blockbuster out of monsters?'”
On Fifty Shades of Grey: “I don’t believe that [author EL James] had any interest in going to a studio where rushing it into production was the vision. I don’t believe that the second or third film would have benefited from that strategy. And I think that there are totally legitimate questions about what this book is as a movie. I will tell you that it is an absolute priority for us. It’s conceivable that we could be ready to release it as early as next summer.”
On whether the studio will finally green-light Wicked following the box office success of Les Misérables: “Wicked has been an enormous win for this company [Universal is majority owner of the Broadway musical]. The way it works, we should be in agreement together on when the right time to do this is. But I will tell you I believe that we are collectively moving toward Wicked coming to the screen sooner rather than later.”
On turning Mama into a franchise: “We think there’s potential for a Mama franchise. We’d like to do another one. But those conversations are in the early stages. Mama is the first of this type of model that we’ve had enormous success with so there are more opportunities for this kind of film.”
On that last point, Mama writer-director Andrés Muschietti disagreed, stating pretty clearly he doesn’t think there’s enough story to keep going and that his desire is to move on. “We sort of wore out the subject matter…I never thought this could continue. Sequels are always tricky. I know how studios think but I don’t see Mama as something you can exploit because you’re screwing with the original. I’m really hoping to jump into some other movies right now.” The film was based on Muschietti’s own short film, so while it’s certainly conceivable (and likely) that Universal will want more Mama, would it be anything resembling the critical and commercial success they’ve had with the film were the director not involved.
The project has been floating around for months and is set to star Denzel Washington in the lead role as Robert McCall, a retired intelligence officer who helps the powerless. He is living a quiet life and working at a Home Depot when an act of kindness gets him involved with the Russian mob.
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) was originally going to helm the project, but apparently had differences of opinion with Washington and subsequently left the project about a month ago. Other directors, such as Peter Berg, were also rumored for the job once Refn left, but Wyatt is the name Sony is closing in on. After dropping out of the Apes sequel, Wyatt signed on to direct the period pilot Turn for AMC and he recently cast Nicholas Hoult in his adaptation of the WWI-set novel Birdsong.
The film has been receiving fairly good reviews from early festival screenings (including at Sundance). Stoker will arrive in limited release March 1st, but will roll out more in the subsequent weeks. The first official clip hass been released and I’ve included the film’s trailer and synopsis below as well.
After India’s (Wasikowska’s) father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie (Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Arriving in limited release and/or VOD are Bless Me Ultima and Inescapable.
What are you planning on seeing this weekend
Vampires Circling The Moon
As I said last week, Rex Reed is allowed to have an opinion. He’s allowed to hate a movie or genre (although the latter makes him a bad film critic in my opinion). But this is Rex Reed we’re talking about here. He doesn’t limit his venom for a film’s artistic merit or entertainment quality. No, Rex likes to go off and more than occasionally he loses the plot. Literally.
If it’s not bad enough that Reed wrote that “vampires circle the moon and suck the hot stud’s blood,” he unfortunately went on to fully expose how little he understood what he was watching:
“It’s all part of an elaborate video game that allows paying customers to watch real people slaughtered according to the horror of choice. The five kids in the cabin are innocent pawns to test the mechanics of the game, the way fiends in a horror movie test the sounds of screaming babies as they feed them to the jaws of mutated crocodiles.”
For those who haven’t seen Cabin, this is NOT what happens. At all. Not even close. As in, Reed has literally described a plot that does not exist. For those who have seen Cabin, it is befuddling to read a review like this, as if an alien has taken over Reed’s body and is trying to write a review from “what’s he heard” instead of what is actually on the screen. Or perhaps instead Reed’s review is the result of a intense fever dream, reality and imaginary blending into one giant hallucinatory episode. It doesn’t stop there though.
Reed haphazardly pushes forward, spoiling everything (whether’s he right or not) right to the very end, including Sigourney Weaver’s cameo at the film’s conclusion. So not only does Rex Reed ruin the film’s many surprises, but he can’t get the ending right.
“The game, like the movie, is a meaningless absurdity. If it sells, people with a passion for gore can experience real terror while the players are shredded, one by one. What the game testers didn’t count on was luring a pair of victims smart enough to outwit them. The game ends only if the virgin survives…Sigourney Weaver shows up in a neat spin on herself and her own sad contribution to horror movies to warn that if the virgin doesn’t survive it will mean the agonizing death of every human soul on the planet.
Reed doesn’t simply seek to inaccurately insult the film though. No, he ends his review by going after one of his favorite recurring targets – fanboys.
“the movie is the kind of time-wasting drivel designed to appeal to electronics nerds and skateboarders addicted to Xbox 360 video games whose knowledge of the arts begins and ends with MTV2. Instead of electronic wands like Nintendo’s Wii controllers, the master fiends working the control panels tap buttons and pull levers right out of Dr. Strangelove. As their victims plunge deeper and deeper, the narrative gets sillier and sillier. Maybe that’s why an entire row of what they call “fanboys” at the screening I attended laughed all the way through the movie, although I failed to see anything remotely amusing. I doubt if these people even know who Sigourney Weaver is.
At the risk of inviting a monsoon of unwanted hate mail, I admit it is indeed a brand-new world out there. I’m so glad I don’t have to write for it.”
When I first read this review last April, I was sure this was going to be Reed’s “Bosley Crowther” moment, the review which exposes that the medium and audience has moved past him and effectively ends his career. The term reference Bosley Crowther, the former chief film critic for The New York Times who famously panned Bonnie and Clyde. The review – and Crowther’s subsequent defenses of his pan – exposed Crowther as behind the times and signaled the end of his career (and helped launch the career of Roger Ebert, a staunch defender of the classic film). Little did I know The New York Observer would not only continue employing Reed after such a ridiculously inaccurate and insulting review, they’d go out of their way to defend the man and ignore the incident altogether (comments on the review were quickly removed and the editors at the Observer never responded to critics).
Some have said that they’ve seen Reed doze off at official press screenings and that would certainly explain such as ridiculous review. Reed falling asleep and trying to fill in gaps he may have missed with what he thought would sound good (like vampires) is as plausible an explanation as anything. Getting a film’s plot wrong is a terrible sin for a film critic – especially as one experienced as Reed – but the most insulting thing about this is Reed’s scurrilous attacks on the “fanboy” crowd. It makes Reed look old and petty…which he pretty much is at this point in his career. The McCarthy flap was just the latest in a long line of insulting, incorrect and usually incomprehensible reviews and attacks from Rex Reed, a film critic who should know better.
Tune in next week for another installment in Rex Reed: Professional Critic, Amateur Human Being, Everlasting Troll….
Red Band Trailer of the Week: Trance
Funny Video of the Week: “Between Two Ferns: Oscar Buzz Edition Part 1 & 2”
Just Remember It Could Always Be Worse Video of the Week:: “Rob Lowe and Snow White’s Disastrous Oscar Opening”
That’s all for this week. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section. For now, this is Jeremy Wilson, off the record, on the QT…