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The Hush-Hush News Report: 11.28.12: X-Men, Hobbits and Batman! Oh My!

November 28, 2012 | Posted by Jeremy Wilson

Hello 411mania readers! I am Jeremy Wilson and this is the Hush-Hush News Report. I hope everyone had a comfortable and satisfying Thanksgiving holiday. For me, the last six days have consisted mainly of movies, turkey and football, in roughly that order. I was finally able to catch up with what’s playing in theaters and with a bunch more awards contenders including probably Best Picture nominees Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.

I was somewhat unsure of what to expect with Lincoln. Spielberg is obviously a renown director, but he’s also one who has an up-and-down track record and who tends to let his bad habits overwhelm his talents and storytelling abilities. Therefore, I was somewhat shocked at how restrained Lincoln is; in many ways it’s unlike anything he’s done in his career, especially since Schindler’s List. This is an “Oscar movie” sure, but it’s not a grand epic or sweeping melodrama. It’s a tight, funny film in which everything that people didn’t like in War Horse is tamped down. The film chooses smartly to not try and cover the entireity of Lincoln’s life, but gives you the measure of the man as he desperately attempts to get the 13th Amendment passed. It lets its characters and the story breathe and lets audiences feel and become engaged on their own. I mean even the John Williams score is restrained! That’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Daniel Day-Lewis is mesmerizing as the 16th President and both Tommy Lee Jones and David Strathairn give fantastic supporting turns. I can definitely see why Day-Lewis became a bigger favorite after critics saw it and why Jones vaulted to frontrunner status. It’s a fantastic film – the kind of movie about politics and America that we deserve. Yes, it plays on sentimentality to a degree, but only on how we as a people feel for this larger than life man. The script by Tony Kushner is smart and doesn’t play in clichés or unrelenting sentimentality and every time you start to feel Spielberg going down that route, he suddenly doesn’t. I think a lot of the credit has to go to Daniel Day-Lewis and Kushner; Spielberg can’t help but stick to a script this good and keep the camera focused on a performance this quiet, subtle and powerful. It’s a special movie and while I know some will think it boring or “talky,” it breezed by for me and I was mesmerized almost throughout the whole thing.

Silver Linings Playbook was also a surprise, but of a different kind. I didn’t really have pre-conceived notions going in, although I had read reviews and seen its status as an Oscar nominee rise over the past couple months. Therefore, the fact that it is sort of a standard romantic comedy in many respects was something of a disappointment. Let me say upfront: I really liked the movie. I think Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver are all terrific. The script is very good and it can be wickedly funny as well as painful to watch. There are a couple scenes in this movie that are some of the more honest, cringeworthy (in a good way), awkward things I’ve seen in a movie this year. Also, the film deserves credit and recognition for taking the romantic comedy genre and twisting it into something different-ish. However, at the end of the day, it still plays by the same rules that have driven romantic comedies to where the genre finds itself today. It’s not a character piece (ala Young Adult) or a satire. It’s sort-of, kind-of a black comedy since it deals with mental illness and the neurosis that we all posses to varying degrees. But for whatever reason, Silver Linings Playbook left me cold. I didn’t dislike Bradley Cooper’s performance, but neither do I think it’s award-worthy. It all moves swimmingly…almost too much so. Considering what the actual material is about, it doesn’t feel pointed or raw enough. These characters – who both have obvious issues more than the “triggers” that caused their breakdowns – don’t feel dark enough. It starts out like that, but the second half is almost strictly by-the-book romantic comedy, just with better, more talented people involved. It’s good, not great and I’m honestly a bit surprised its Oscar chances have been sustained for this long. If David O. Russell’s name weren’t on the marquee, I wonder if we’re be seeing this film in a different context. There is just something missing and I’m not quite sure what it is, or if I’d see it on a second viewing.

While those aren’t real reviews of those two films, if I were grading them on our 411 scale, I’d have Lincoln in the 9s and Silver Linings Playbook in the 7s. That is the opposite of what our reviewers thought, but hell, are you gonna take their word for it or mine? (Say mine!) I actually totally respect what Shawn Lealos thought of Silver Linings and at least we’re close. I also respect what Ernest Lin thought of :Lincoln, although I wholeheartedly disagree with his take. Anyway, there’s no excuses – go see some movies! Now let’s do this thing.

PROMO TIME!

Before you start reading, have you bookmarked 411Mania.com yet? It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, and it’ll get you your daily dose of entertainment news that much quicker! Typing the URL out in the address bar is such a pain, don’tcha think? Hell, make it your home page and it’ll be that much easier for you!

Also, do you Twitter? If not, you should! And while you’re at it, add these to your list of people that you follow so that you can get the latest updates! Come on Peeps, I and 411 need Twitter followers to validate our existence. Or something like that.







And if you don’t do the whole Twitter thing, or want something a little more tailored for movie lovers, check me out on Letterboxd, a very slick, very cool social network/diary for movie fans. I’ve been using it for months and a number of other 411 Movies Zone writers are on there as well, so check it out. And no, I don’t get money for saying that…I genuinely like it.

Now allow me to plug some of our 411 film reviews here including reviews of:

My reviews:
The Man with the Iron Fists
Looper

Reviews by other 411 writers:
Rise of the Guardians (2)
Rise of the Guardians
Red Dawn
Anna Karenina
Silver Linings Playbook
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Lincoln
Skyfall
Wreck-It-Ralph (2)
Wreck-It-Ralph
Cloud Atlas
Paranormal Activity 4
Alex Cross
Argo

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….


Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Batman

Not to be outdone by news and leaks about Star Wars or X-Men, reports have surfaced that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will take up the Batman mantle for WB’s 2015 Justice League movie.

In the last scene of The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon-Levitt (as heroic cop John Blake) inherits the Batcave from the “dead” Bruce Wayne. There was some thought that JGL might continue in the franchise down the line as Robin or Nightwing, but it now appears that according to HitFix’s Motion [Captuered] blog, that JGL is close to a long-term agreement to play the Caped Crusader, starting with the 2015 Justice League movie.

However… they also hint that Warner Brothers has been studying the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that it is very possible JGL-as-Batman could appear earlier than 2015’s Justice League movie. And there’s only one WB/DC movie on the horizon before then…

…next summer’s Man of Steel.

The idea is that JGL (and another character from the Nolan films) would appear in a post-credits scene at the conclusion of Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot. Apparently, the ending to The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t intended for JGL to go on and play the character and was meant to be a thematic cap to the director’s own vision of the property. However, while Nolan might be moviing on, WB still has a cash cow to utilize and they apparently believe this would be the best, easiest way to transition from the Nolan vision to a new one – almost assuredly patterned after Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Even Zack Snyder, who had been previously stating that his Man of Steel/Superman wouldn’t be connected with WB’s new Justice League movie has softened that stance in recent weeks. At this point, it’s almost a given that Man of Steel will somehow transition into any Justice League storyline and that Henry Cavill will appear in the later film as Superman.

Now before the Internets explodes in nerd rage, what exactly is wrong with this? Not being a huge comics guy, I believe that many of the most famous characters – including a number of the Justice League members – have been portrayed by different people. And is a different person other than Bruce Wayne taking up the mantle of Batman really such a bad thing at this point? The character has had 7 major films in the past 25 years and everyone and their mothers knows the story of Bruce Wayne as Batman. You can’t top Nolan’s vision…you can only move forward and try to match it. Christopher Nolan did a lot of great things for the Batman character and for WB/DC, but one of the consequences of his trilogy of films is that it serves as perhaps the final word (for awhile at least) on the Bruce Wayne character. I just don’t know how much more mileage you can get out of that on the big screen and I don’t think another reboot is what is needed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a fantastic actor and while he’s not the most physically imposing person, he’s got the chops to pull it off (plus he’s got time to bulk up a bit). Yes, it’ll be a little weird seeing someone other than Bruce Wayne as Batman, but if you were every going to try it out, this would be the time. Plus, it’s still Batman we see and that’s the most important thing.

Granted, this is still rumor at this point, but the guys over at HitFix know their stuff and wouldn’t run it if they didn’t have it. I guess we’ll know real soon. Man of Steel hits theaters June 14, 2013 and 2015 isn’t that far off either.

The Return Of Professor X & Magneto

Director Bryan Singer confirmed reports that Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen are returning to the X-Men franchise, as both will be appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past.


You know this was coming, right? The whole time-travel element and all. Singer also tweeted that the rest of the principals from X-Men: First Class – including Fassbender, Lawrence, McAvoy and Hoult are all returning for the sequel. Considering how The Last Stand concluded and the possibility of multiple timelines, this film could get seriously timey-wimey.

No word yet on how Stewart and McKellen will be used yet. They might just be featured in cameos, or they could have significan supporting parts. The story will obviously be updated and there’s also been no word on if Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine will be featured. In the original comic storyline, the character plays a significant part, but if he’s going to play a larger part in this, they’ve kept a very title lid on it.

In another, slightly more stunning development, 20th Century Fox has announced that X-Men: Days of Future Past will be released on July 18, 2014. Why is that significant? Because that’s also the day the third and final Hobbit movie – The Hobbit: There And Back Again – will be released. Yep. Two of the 2014 movies aimed squarely at the Comic-Con, fanboy/fangirl crowd are hitting theaters at the exact same time. Decisions, decisions….which one will you see first?

First Snyposis For Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness has made waves in recent days as the film’s first official synopsis has been released and it provokes more questions than provides answers.

In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.

With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

If we ignore the fact that this isn’t the most well-written description of a movie (it was found on Paramount’s official press website, so it’s legit), let’s talk turkey.

For months now, popular wisdom (and various media/Internet reports) had said that Benedict Cumberbatch would be starring as Khan Noonien Singh. However, this synopsis has prompted even more of the Internet speculation we all love so much and the name being most thrown around now is Gary Mitchell. For folks not steeped in Trek lore:

“Gary Mitchell appeared in the original Star Trek TV series, in an episode titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” It is the third episode in the original series (but was made as a second pilot), and chronicles a tale in which the Enterprise crew discover the record log of a long-lost ship at the (literal) edge of the universe. While there, the Enterprise experiences a strange phenomenon that transforms two crew members – one being Kirk’s longtime friend from the academy, Gary Mitchell – into beings of immense psychic ability. These new powers quickly corrupt Mitchell, who proclaims himself a god; when Kirk and Spock try to strand the power-crazed crewman on a remote planet, it results in a confrontation that claims lives, and forces Kirk to kill his old friend to save the universe.”

This seemingly jives better with the synopsis and what Karl Urban let slip several months ago when describing Cumberbatch’s role in the film. We’ve had so many leaks, gossip and misdirections concerning Star Trek Into Darkness that we still can’t quite be sure of anything. Hell, it might involve BOTH Mitchell and Khan somehow. We just don’t know. But that doesn’t mean we can’t guess! And it looks like good money could be on Gary Mitchell as the chief villain of Star Trek Into Darkness. However, for the record, Roberto Orci has officially denied either Khan or Mitchell as the film’s villain. They would never lie to us…right? Right!? We might know a lot more very soon, since 9 minutes of the film will show in front of IMAX screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Could they possibly show 9 minutes of a film without cluing us in on the bad guy?

Star Trek Into Darkness stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve and Peter Weller, and hits theaters May 17, 2013.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Is Coming, And I Can Hardly Contain Myself

Because I write reviews and have always done my best to keep an open, impartial mind when watching movies, I rarely allow myself to throw off the shackles of being an impartial critic and just be a fan. That’s about to change, because The Hobbit is coming and I’m practically giddy. Animal deaths aside (poor, poor Rainbow), the only thing that raised even the slightest concern about these new films was the chilly reception for 48fps when it was initially shown. However, the fact is that they are taking that pretty slow and only a limited number of locations will have 48fps screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Meanwhile, the marketing has been pretty fantastic (official and fan-made) and we’re not done yet, with only two weeks until it’s nationwide release. The first official clip for the film has been released showing Gandalf giving Bilbo “Sting,” as well as 20 new images (including our first look at the return of Christopher Lee as Saruman). See them all below!

The synopsis for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey reads:

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever… Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities… A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

The Forever War Gets A Writer

Fox 2000 and Scott Free (Ridley Scott’s banner) have hired D.W. Harper to pen the script for Joe Haldeman’s seminal 1974 science fiction novel The Forever War. Scott is hopeful the project can now get moving (they acquired the novel’s screen rights in 2008) with the script from Harper. Harper most recently wrote All You Need Is Kill, a sci-fi film that is in production directed by Doug Liman and starring Tom Cruise (it follows the star’s turns in this winter’s Jack Reacher and next year’s Oblivion) and co-wrote the upcoming Hansel And Gretel Witch Hunters as well as adapted Isaac Asimov’s Foundation for director Roland Emmerich.

Haldeman’s book won the 1975 Nebula Award and the 1976 Hugo Award. It tells the story of “soldiers fighting an interstellar war between humanity and the enigmatic Tauran species. Its exploration of the inhumanity of war and of bureaucracy, and of the psychological effects resulting from the time dilation of space travel (a soldier returns home after centuries away)” have made it one of the seminal works of science fiction in the past three decades.

In addition, Deadlinealso reports:

Haldeman’s novella Seasons was recently acquired by Sony Pictures as a directing vehicle for Tim Miller, with Sebastian Gutierrez writing the script. Scott, who last helmed Prometheus, most recently wrapped the Cormac McCarthy-scripted The Counselor with Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz. Scott is separately trying to mount a sequel to his sci-fi classic Blade Runner. Prometheus, a sort of prequel to Alien, got somewhat mixed reviews, but I found it fascinating. It is nice to see Scott back and working in the genre he transformed with Alien and Blade Runner.

Frequent Collaborator Lets Slip Matthew Vaughn Probably IS Directing Star Wars: Episode VII

Standing outside of a screening for his new film Seven Psychopaths (which is great by the way), actor Jason Flemyng appeared to let slip that Matthew Vaughn looks set to direct Star Wars: Episode VII.

Why should we believe him? Well, Flemyng has been in all of Vaughn’s films and appears to talk to him frequently. Speaking to him at the UK premiere for Seven Psychopaths, journalists seem to have gotten an inadvertant and actual answer to a question when they peppered him with questions about future films – including Star Wars. When the reporters asked if he had spoken with Vaughn about Star Wars, Flemyng took the question and (perhaps not realizing it) and ran with it:

“Me and Matt have done nine films together so I’m sure I’ll get the call for Star Wars. But I’m sure it’s going to be literally, ‘Flemyng, no…I know on paper it doesn’t look like much but I promise you it’s essential to the part.’ So we’ll see what happens with that.”

Flemying starts talking at about the 1:11 mark and gets a little lost in the headlights as he goes on. Obviously, this isn’t hard confirmation, but it only goes to reinforce earlier reports that he was the frontunner for the job. Colin Trevorrow (one of the other names thought to be in the running) has officially denied he will direct Episode VII.

Star Wars: Episode VII opens in Summer of 2015.


Trailer Face-Off:

A relatively quieter weekend of new releases arrive to start the December box office after the busy November schedule is led by wide releases for the new Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) crime drama Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta and the horror sequel The Collection (from the folks behind the last four Saw entires).

What are you planning on seeing this weekend

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The Hush-Hush Racetrack Oscar Odds

The following are my own personal rankings (in order who who I think will will at this point) with the racetrack odds courtesy of Gold Derby included next to each. These odds are the result of voting by the site’sassembled experts from various publications and media outlets. In addition to the odds is the % chance to win. My picks for nominations are asterisked (*), with my early pick to win listed first.

The 85th Academy Awards Nominations will be announced on January 15, 2013; the Oscar ceremony will be held on February 24, 2013.

BEST PICTURE

*1. Les Misérables9/2; 18% (Released: Christmas 2012)
*2. Lincoln6/1; 14%
*3. Argo6/1; 14%
*4. Silver Linings Playbook8/1; 11%
*5. Zero Dark Thirty9/1; 10% (Released: December 19, 2012)
*6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey50/1; 2% (Released: December 14, 2012)
*7. Life of Pi12/1; 8%
*8. The Master20/1; 5%
*9. Beasts of the Southern Wild25/1; 4%
* 10. Django Unchained25/1; 4% (Released: Christmas 2012)

Other Possible Nominees
Flight50/1; 2%
Moonrise Kingdom100/1; 1%
Anna Karenina100/1; 1%

BEST DIRECTOR

*1. Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) – 10/3; 23%
*2. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) – 4/1; 20%
*3. Ben Affleck (Argo) – 14/5; 26%
*4. Ang Lee (Life of Pi) – 16/1; 6%
*5. Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) – 9/1; 10%

Other Possible Nominees
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) – 9/1; 10%
Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) – 25/1, 4%
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) – 100/1;
Michael Haneke (Amour) –
100/1;
Peter Jackson (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) –
100/1;

BEST ACTOR

*1. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) – 17/10; 37%
*2. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) – 11/2; 15%
*3. Denzel Washington (Flight) – 11/1; 15%
*4. John Hawkes (Six Sessions) – 8/1; 11%
*5. Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock) – 100/1; 1%

Other Possible Nominees
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) – 13/2; 13%
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) – 20/1; 5%

BEST ACTRESS

*1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) – 15/8; 35%
*2. Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone) – 11/2; 16%
*3. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) – 15/2, 12%
*4. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) – 15/2: 12%
*5. Helen Mirren (Hitchcock) – 20/1; 5%

Other Possible Nominees
Keira Knightly (Anna Karenina) – 14/1; 7%
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) – 33/1; 3%
Naomi Watts (The Impossible) – 16/1; 6%

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

*1. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) – 14/5; 26%
*2. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) – 9/2; 21%
*3. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) – 9/2; 18%
*4. Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained) – 8/1; 11%
*5. Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables) – 33/1; 3%

Other Possible Nominees
Russell Crowe (Les Misérables) – 33/1; 3%
Alan Arkin (Argo) – 8/1; 11%
Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike) – 50/1; 2%
Ewan McGregor (The Impossible) – 50/1; 2%

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

*1. Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) – 9/5; 36%
*2. Helen Hunt (The Sessions) – 7/2; 22%
*3. Amy Adams (The Master) – 6/1; 14%
*4. Sally Field (Lincoln) – 9/2; 18%
*5. Samantha Barks (Les Misérables) – 100/1;

Other Possible Noimnees
Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) – 25/1; 4%
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) – 100/1; 1%
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained) – 100/1;
Ann Dowd (Compliance
100/1;
Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables) –
100/1;
Kelly Reilly (Flight) –
100/1;

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

*1. Moonrise Kingdom11/2; 16%
*2. Django Unchained11/2; 16%
*3. The Master14/5; 26%
*4. Zero Dark Thirty7/2; 22%
*5. Amour9/1; 10%

Other Possible Nominees
Flight20/1; 5%
Looper100/1; 1%
Promised Land100/1;
Seven Psychopaths
100;
The Intouchables
50/1; 2%

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

*1. Lincoln27/10; 27%
*2. Silver Linings Playbook3/1; 25%
*3. Argo7/2; 22%
*4. Life of Pi14/1; 7%
*5. Les Misérables10/1; 9%

Other Possible Noinees
Beasts of the Southern Wild14/1; 7%
Cloud Atlas100/1; 1%

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

*1. Frankenweenie4/1; 20%
*2. Wreck-It Ralph9/2; 19%
*3. Brave13/5; 28%
*4. ParaNorman15/2; 12%
*5. From Up on Poppy Hill100/1;

Coinflip To Receive Nomination
Rise of the Guardians13/2; 13%
The Painting50/1; 2%
The Rabbis Cat100/1; 1%
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted100/1; 1%
The Pirates! Band of Misfits100/1; 1%

BEST FOREIGN FILM

*1. Amour15/8; 35%
*2. The Intouchables13/5; 28%
*3. A Royal Affair8/1; 11%
*4. Beyond the Hills20/1; 5%
*5. No9/1; 10%

Other Possibilities
Lore50/1; 2%
Kon-Tiki50/1; 2%
Sister100/1;
Our Children
100/1; 1%


Trailer of the Week: The Baytown Outlaws

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…

…and definitely, “Hush Hush!”

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