February 25, 2011

Who Should Have Won an Oscar in the 70's?

There are a few names that come to light when thinking about the great films, performances, directorial achievements, and screenplays that did not win Oscars in the seventies, despite seminal work. The easy ones come to mind first, such as Robert Altman for any number of films including M*A*S*H (1970) or Nashville (1975), or Stanley Kubrick for A Clockwork Orange (1971).
But digging deeper one can find many great films and achievements that were overlooked during the seventies.
Consider the great character actor Bruce Dern who gave a number of brilliant performances through the seventies, best of all in Black Sunday (1977) as a terrorist hellbent on blowing up the Super Bowl. Dern, sadly was typecast as a crazy after being the cowboy who shoots John Wayne in The Cowboys (1972), but people forget his superb performance as Tom in The Great Gatsby (1974) by far the best acting job in the film. His Big Bob in Smile (1975) was an electrifying piece of acting that was under seen during the decade, and his brilliant performance in Coming Home (1978) anchors the film.
The great director Hal Ashby slowly evolved through the seventies, moving from quirky, kind of interesting filmmaker to first class director. By the decades end he had been Oscar nominated for coming Home (1978), helmed Shampoo (1975) and guided Peter Sellers to the best performance of his career in the astounding Being There (1979).
The lovely late Jill Clayburgh gave some strong performances in the seventies, from Starting Over (1979), through the controversial Luna (1979) to her best work in An Unmarried Woman (1979) and though nominated she died without an Oscar.
Certainly Robert Duvall was deserving of Best Supporting Actor for his astounding work in Apocalypse Now (1979) as the film, though a stunner, never quite recovers from his exit. He represents the true madness of Viet Nam and we never achieve his height again. And hey, this is a film that should have won Best Picture and Best Director, but also a film the Academy feared.
How did Al Pacino lose Best Actor for The Godfather Part II (1974)?
How did John Wayne get snubbed for a Best Actor nomination for
The Shootist (1976)?
Diane Keaton wins an Oscar for Annie Hall (1977) but deserved to also be nominated for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and Manhattan (1979).
Why was Hair (1979) and Milos Forman snubbed for Film and Director in 1979?
One of John Huston's crowning achievements, The Man Who Would Be King (1975) was snubbed for Film and Director, and one could argue Best Actor, for both Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
Lauren Bacall is snubbed for Best Supporting Actress in The Shootist (1976).
Gene Hackman wins an Oscar for The French Connection (1971), surpasses that performance with The Conversation (1974) and French Connection II (1975) and is not even nominated???
Close Encounters of the Third Kind deserved to win Best Picture in 1977, but was not nominated.
Three songs from Phantom of the Paradise (1974) should have been nominated for Best Song...nope.
He directed Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976) but never won an Oscar for Best Director. Weep for Sidney Lumet.
Shed a tear also for Alan J. Pakula, deserving of Best Director for All the President's Men (1976).

Sick of Oscars?? Me Too....

Anyone sick of the Oscars this year?
Me too, in a big way. In fact my wife thinks something is wrong with me in that I cannot get any interest worked up in this years' Academy Awards race. The nominations were a bore, the race is all but decided, with no room for any shocks or surprises, and I am bored out of my mind with the whole thing.
Perhaps it is because I have been writing about the Oscar race since September as TIFF which is the unofficial beginning of the season. How many times can I state who I think should win? I am tired of arguing with people who think they are going to change my opinion and who have it in their mind I am trying to change theirs.
Marty Scorsese was once listening to an actor, Willem Dafoe rage against a certain kind of film, an action flick that angered Dafoe with its silliness. Scorsese placed his arm around Dafoe and whsipered, "There's room for us all" and ended the conversation with those words. Indeed.
The same thing applies with Oscar talk, with film talk, there's room for us all.
I have wondered this year if we writers of all things Oscar and film are part of the problem with the boredom of the season? There are so many sites, so many fine writers, and so many hacks, that moving from site to site reading about the Oscars one can get Oscar overload.
What nominations would I liked to have seen this year?
Hereafter for Best Film and Best Director. Let Me In for Best Picture and Best Score, as well as Chloe Grace Morentz for Best Supporting Actress. Matt Damon for Best Supporting Actor for True Grit, and Christopher Nolan for Best Director for Inception. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo di Caprio for Shutter Island. Julianne Moore for The Kids are All Right, any category.
Those would have made me smile a bit, and added some controversey to the race. As it is I am bored out of my skull this year and feeling very, very blue about it. In fact I have toyed with not watching the Oscars this year because I am that bored. And thata is very sad because I have not missed one since 1973.

September 12, 2010

Day 3 of John Foote's Toronto Film Festival Diary!

A few years ago a film entitled Stranger Than Fiction (2006) was here at TIFF which displayed an entirely different side to Will Ferrell, best known as a comedic actor, here tackling a dramatic role for the first time. Ferrell was very good in the film, and impressed more than a few film critics (myself included) with his acting chops. Of course his recent performance as President George W. Bush on HBO makes it clear that when he puts his mind to it, he is a gifted actor capable of doing great comedic work. One of the joys of TIFF is finding out something new about an actor or a director, when they tackle something outside their comfort zone, and incredibly, make it work. Just a few days ago Chris Cooper said to me that the industry often pigeon holes actors into doing the same sort of performance and film over and over and over, and that since winning his Oscar for Adaptation (2002) has never been offered anything remotely like that part again. Ferrell is often in danger of getting stuck in that rut, doing the same sort of character over and over, when clearly there is a character actor waiting to break out.
Ferrell has done it again, in a film not as good as Stranger Than Fiction, though his performance may be better, darker, and more complex than that one.
In his new film film, Everything Must Go, directed by Dan Rush, comedian Will Ferrell gives a strong performance as an alcoholic, fired from his job, kicked out of his home by his wife, and left with only his possessions scattered on his front lawn. The entire premise of the film is how he deals with this, how he comes to recognize that his life is not over and he has the strength to carry on. Ferrell handles the angry man portrayal quite well, proving that his work in Stranger Than Fiction (2006) was no fluke. In fact, I dare say this is his best work onscreen...period. This is Ferrell's first foray into the independent filmmaking scene, the actor offered a role that goes against the grain of just about everything he has done.
His character could be a dislikable sort, and indeed Ferrell goes in that direction, capturing the anger of a man who has allowed, through drink and foolish acts, his life to spiral out of control. I cannot remember Ferrell ever portraying such self loathing so brilliantly before, as deep down he knows he is his own worst enemy, but lacks the courage to do anything about it, perhaps because it is his very own misery. People on such a downward dive often have nothing more than their misery, and they covet and protect it, because they somehow understand it is the one thing they do control. Their anger grows, they lash out at anyone around them, and are cruel because they feel they do not deserve any decent treatment or kindness. However there is something so inherently likable within Ferrell it is impossible to completely dislike the character. We see him do some very stupid things, we see him at his very worst, but we also know what he is going through and what he is up against. He's not a bad guy, not at all, he's just in a bad way.
The film itself suffers from being rather one note, though. Once his character is established on the front lawn, the other characters are introduced, it all becomes a tad redundant, despite some strong performances from Ferrell and Rebecca Hall. She brings a lovely winsome presence to the film as a pregnant neighbor, having just moved in, getting a rather shocking introduction to Ferrell. He hits the nail right on the head when he states that she could be looking at her future, but she sees something more in him, and will not let his defeatist attitude get to her. In the moment of the darkest despair of his life, betrayed by someone he truly admired and trusted, he manages to find hope and go on.
Based on a short story by Raymond Chandler, "Why Don't You Dance?", the director-writer Rush knew at once upon reading the story that this would be his first feature. Knowing he needed a strong actor for the part of Nick, who is in virtually every scene in the film, Rush thought of no one else but Ferrell. Knowing that the character had some irredeemable qualities about him, he believed that Ferrell's likability would help with the impact of the film and allow the audience to care about the character.
Rush was right in his casting, no question. Where he fails, I think is in the execution of the story, which lacks urgency and desperation. This guy is out of his home, fired, his car taken away...he is at rock bottom, and yet the film moves casually along. Rush is very fortunate to have Ferrell in the film, an actor interesting enough to keep the audience watching and caring about the character.
The one piece of casting I struggled with was Christopher "CJ" Wallace, who is a thirteen year old kid who becomes over a few days Ferrell's best friend and business partner. There is a lack of chemistry between the pair, and though it does not impact the performance of Ferrell, it does cause the scenes with the youngster to lack a degree of realism. There is just something inauthentic about his work that stands out among the other actors, who live and breathe the characters.
The press audience enjoyed the film, though they seemed to enjoy Ferrell much more. He is the driving force of the film.

The American remake of the brilliant Danish horror film Let the Right One in (2007) is Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves who gave us the horror flick Cloverfield (2009). With strong buzz floating around this picture, many in the audience were openly discussing the original, wondering if the director of the remake could match that first one. Suffice to say he does, though I cannot say I agree with other critics stating that this new film surpasses the original. Certainly more money was spent in the making, and the production values are stronger, but that first picture had a stark and cold horror that this new one does not have. It's very scary, don't get me wrong, but there is an under current of sadness to this one that I did not find in the first.
Almost a shot for shot remake of the film, the picture is an unsettling, chilling tale of a young American boy and the twelve (more or less she says) year old vampire girl he befriends when she moves into his apartment complex. He is struggling with the nasty divorce of his parents, seeking to belong in a school where he is the target of a relentless bully, and looking for something to happen in his life that might interest him. The girl, Abby, tells him from the beginning, "we can't be friends" yet their friendship nonetheless evolves, slowly, as a trust builds between the two of them. We see glimpses into each of their lives and, in their own very different way, each is an outsider. She for her need for human blood, he because he is different than the other kids and targeted by a particular group of boys who openly despise him.
When her protector dies she is forced to reveal more and more of herself to the boy, who though initially horrified, still understands Abby is the girl underneath it all, and cannot help what she is any more than his mother can help what she is. As a police detective, nicely portrayed by Elias Koteas gets closer and closer to discovering Abby's secret, the boy learns just how far he will go to protect his friend, monster or not.
In the original film, there were no glowing eyes, no changes to the girl throughout the film, which I admired. I have always admired Stephen King's book Salem's Lot in which the vampires' facial features never change, they remain the same and their eyes of pools of darkness. Sadly, the director Reeves has chosen to allow Abby's features to become more and more monster like as she feeds, which to me lessened the impact of the horror. How much more terrifying would it be to see that sweet faced girl feasting on blood, than the green eyed beast we see? It is the wrong move from a director who obviously has great regard for the original and does virtually everything right until that moment. Not that it ruins the film, the picture is too strong for that to happen, and the performances far too outstanding.
Richard Jenkins is the child's protector, her father she calls him, and her connection to food. He kills people and drains their blood so the girl may feed. When one of his killings goes terribly wrong, he pours acid over his face so he is unrecognizable and will not be caught. Abby comes to him in the hospital, and he offers her his blood, before he falls to the ground dead. Without a protector, she is left to find blood for herself, and when the boy tries to make them blood "friends" she goes berserk, lapping up his blood from the ground, before attacking a woman in the apartment complex. This brings the police, and Abby is forced to move on. Or so the boy believes. She is watching him from afar, and is finally his protector from the bullies who terrorize him, leaving a swimming pool awash in blood and body parts. Knowing they cannot escape this series of murders, the boy makes a life altering decision that will impact them both, but keep them together.
When a film is placed on the shoulders of actors so young it is a huge risk for the director, and must weigh on his mind during the making of the film. However when the child actors are as strong as they are in this film, the director has no worries. Initially when I heard Kodi Smit-McPhee of The Road (2009) was going to portray the boy in the film I was concerned as I did not care for his work in that apocalyptic work, believing it to be forced and immature. Yet he has grown as an actor, and grounds this film with a fine and strong piece of acting. His beautiful liquid eyes are so utterly soulful, and his feelings for Abby worn on his sleeve.
As Abby, young Chloe Grace Mortez, is otherworldly. His wise eyes seems ancient, and yet there is a childlike quality to her, "I like puzzles", she tells his friend, not realizing, (or perhaps knowing) he is trying to solve the puzzle that is Abby. She knows what she is, she knows she could kill the boy in a heartbeat, but does not, because despite her belief she cannot have a friend, she knows he is hers.
The attacks are quite startling, as she suddenly moves with extraordinary speed, leaping around like a vicious lynx attacking her prey, and there is no shortage of blood. Yet this is also a film about an evolving friendship, and a deep love between two children.
Though many doubted Matt Reeves, he more than pulled this off, giving us a film that will do very well at the box office and provide audiences with some genuine thrills this fall. Hopefully, the success of this new picture will not cause audiences to forget the original, because it remains a chilling exercise in terror, and that young girls' face haunts the landscape of my mind.


September 11, 2010

Day 2 of John Foote's Toronto Film Festival Diary!

Here you go:

Oscar buzz swept through TIFF today.
Several writers have already gone on the record as stating that “The King’s Speech” will win the Academy Award as Best Picture, and after seeing this mesmerizing work from Emmy Award winner (“John Adams”) director Tom Hooper, I am inclined to agree with them that the film will dominate the race with multiple nominations. Further I suspect Colin Firth will be this years Best Actor winner for his superb performance as King George VI, who suffered a speech impediment for much of his early, finally seeking help from Lionel Logue shortly before he became King. Logue, portrayed by the great Geoffrey Rush, understood that with impediments there are usually emotional issues at the core of the issue, but finds the monarch reluctant to let him into his personal life. Only when a bond is forged, trust develops and the King finds that this subject is very much his friend is the monarch at ease. Hooper creates a marvelous film brimming with energy and urgency, plunging his audience into the years leading up to Great Britain’s declaration of war against Germany and Hitler. It is not a perfect film, though. I struggled throughout with Timothy Spall as WInston Churchill, especially after the two superb performances by Albert Finney and Bredan Gleason on HBO in separate films about Churchill. Perhaps Spall is simply too identifiable an actor for the role…I know I could not get by it, though that is a minor quibble.

On the city streets, in the line ups around the festival and in the press office, all they are talking about is “The King’s Speech“.

Oscar awaits.

The last time Darren Aronofsky was here was for The Wrestler (2008) which landed Mickey Rourke in the Oscar race for Best Actor, along with changing the course of his career, and I suspect the star of his new film, “Black Swan“, will end up a Best Actress nominee. Natalie Portman, long considered a gifted actress, finally has a role that seizes upon her substantial talents as an actress, and a director willing to push her to the limit. Portman is excellent in this thriller set in the cut throat world of ballet, where young women leave behind their childhoods in search of a career in the spotlight of the worlds great ballets. The actress has rarely been tested like this by her director, “Closer” (2004), perhaps the only exception, and she rises to the occasion with a mesmerizing performance, matched by the dark Mila Kunis, as a rival ballerina with a dark side. Cross Aronofksy’s “Requeim for a Dream” (2000) with this, and you get the picture; a visual knockout, with superb performances throughout, and one of the films everyone is talking about.

David Schwimmer spent a long time on television as Ross on Friends. While on the show, did anyone ever believe he would become a formidable filmmaker? HIs new film “Trust“, is as dark a film as one can get, and the director handles it beautifully, creating an intimate family drama in which a family goes through every parents nightmare. Annie (Liana LIberato) is given a new laptop for her fourteenth birthday and at once connects with a fifteen year old boy, who she later learns is twenty, and who it turns out is much older than that. He suggests they meet, and takes her to a hotel where he assults her. Only Annie does not believe it was rape, she believes they are in love. She cannot understand her father’s rage, her mother’s emtional devastation or the involvement of the FBI. As events sprial more and more out of control, Annie is placed in the very adult worl of having to discover realities she is not ready to deal with.

Schwimmer directs his actors with the assuredness of a long time veteran, and never makes a false step as a director. The film is alarming in its intensity and realism, frightening in what it is saying, and terrifying in its realism. Clive Owen is excellent as a father who believes he failed to protect his child, while Catherine Keener is equally good as a mother who needs to nurture and heal her child, but has no idea how. The revelation in the film is Liberato, just astounding as Annie, the child who gets into a world she is simply not prepared to inhabit. A cautionary tale that is also a character study that is also a brilliant thriller, with a moment over the end credits that will chill you to your very soul. The film will be a tough one to market, but deserves an audience for its topical subject matter, and the powerful manner in which the director and his cast deliver their message.

Another actor behind the camera, Ben Affleck proved that he is the real deal with “The Town“, an excellent film with powerhouse performances from the ensemble cast, and I must highlight it again. When a bank robbery goes very wrong and a hostage is taken and then released, the robbers find their worlds being torn apart. One of them, portrayed with ferocious intensity by Jeremy Renner believes he can end it all with violence, while his good friend, portrayed by Affleck, sees a chance to get out of the life of crime and have a real life with love and family. That alarms Renner because he wonders how far his friend will go to be honest and who he will take down along the way. Affleck is brilliant at times behind the camera, and damned good in front of it this time as well, but the movie belongs to Renner, superb as a dangerous criminal threatened with everything he knows coming to an end. I mentioned the film once already, but it’s worth mentioning again…

Chris Cooper turns up in a single scene and all but steals the film. Affleck obviously loves his actors and they revere him equally as a director, doing tremendous work for him. ”The Town” will do boffo business when released, though I doubt it will have an impact come awards season.


Day 1 of John Foote's Toronto Film Festival Diary!

Here's John's report:

What a busy day to start off the Toronto Film Festival!!! Having covered the fest for fifteen years I have a set pattern, but damned if they haven’t moved everything on me and screwed me up!!! More on that later.

Three films got me started with the TIFF, including the goofy night Opening Night Gala, Score: A Hockey Musical, which left me all but giddy. That said, I am not sure who else will want to see the movie, as it does not appeal to hockey purists and musical lovers may be put off by the manner of dance and song. However, merging some of what is going on with TV’s Glee, with some Busby Berkley, and singing and dancing, the filmmaker did an excellent job of making an entertaining film that likely has little reach beyond these borders. Hockey remains our passion up here, and we still wait for that great dramatic film about out sport, or a biography of one of the greats. The excellent Quebec film The Rocket (2006) accomplished at least a part of that a few years ago.

Despite a powerful performance from Edward Norton, Stone goes nowhere fast, taking on every cliche used or seen in a prison film. The plot contains a development so incredibly ludicrous, irresponsible and unprofessional by Robert De Niro’s character (who has given no indication he would fall for such nonsense) that we wanted to scream at the movie screen for him to stop!!! It just does not work for the story, and yet despite that the performances in the film are very good. Norton gets off to a great start as his character goes through a sort of spiritual rebirth, losing none of his menace by the end. His tale to De Niro (who portrays a parole counselor) of how he felt about his crime is chilling, and it is our first peek behind his mask. De Niro is a strange bird, as we see through flashbacks the bizarre control he exerts over his wife. We know his daughter will not talk to him (we see it) and that the marriage is a terrible mess, but he seems like a religious man, a decent man behind the drink that is constantly in his hand at home. I just did not buy that the De Niro character would get trapped in the manner he did, or that he would allow himself to go so off protocol to help someone…anyone. God, the entire film paints him as a selfish brute…why help anyone???

The Town is quite good, another solid directorial effort from Ben Affleck, who is growing into a fine filmmaker. This time there are echoes of early Friedkin in his work, gritty and authentic, displaying a deft touch with his actors, who clearly trust their director. Jeremy Renner is superb as a trigger happy hot head member of the bank robbing gang, who blows a gasket during the robbery and takes a hostage, releasing her almost at once, but not before the event has traumatized her. Hoping to get it all out of mind, Affleck follows her, befriends and then falls in love with her, seeing for the first time a chance at an honest life. This enrages the dangerous Renner. In order to keep her safe, Affleck must betray the gang, and in doing so they will both become targets. The performances are terrific, especially Renner and the great Chris Cooper as Affleck’s father, settled and truthful in his work. Affleck, often mocked as an actor, does an excellent job here on screen as well as behind the camera. This is a solid movie, one that with the right sort of push from the studio could be heard from come Oscar time.
Very hectic day overall as it seems the entire festival has moved south in the city closer to the new festival home the Bell Lightbox. We no longer frequent the lovely Varisty Theatre for our screenings, as the Scotia Bank Theatre is much closer so there was some fumbling to get around a bit. I found that the Richmond/John area is not as taxi cab friendly as the rest of the city, so there was some walking involved (remember I walk with a cane and constant pain) and I paid dearly for the extra walking last night. My friends and allies in pain management (Oxycontin and Percoset) took away the pain for the night but it is back this morning and I can take a bit to take the edge off. Worth it for the movies man…so worth it.


June 17, 2010

Greetings from the Los Angeles Film Festival!

To all readers and fans of the Awards Circuit,

As Clay mentioned earlier in the week, this is now the Festival Blog, and for the remainder of the month will be our blog for the Los Angeles Film Festival, which is produced every year by Film Independent (yes the same group that hands out the Independent Spirit Awards before the Oscars). This section of the site will be updated constantly during the next couple of weeks, with everything from capsule reviews of films, previews of up-coming events, film recommendations, coverage of events, filmmaker interviews, and much more!

Please check back here for information if you’re in LA and looking for things to do at the festival, or if you’re one of our readers from the world over who wants to follow the films and the artists who may soon be hitting the Oscar trail. From the gala screening of Fox Searchlight’s summer release “Cyrus” to independent documentaries such as “Vlast (Power)” and every coffee talk and pool conversation I can fit into my schedule, please check back here early and often to read all about it. Also, if there are any specific events you’d like to see covered, please let me know in comments section and I’ll see what I can arrange. The link to the official Los Angeles Film Festival site is here.

Thanks for checking out this wonderful festival and supporting independent film. I hope to see you there.

June 13, 2010

Here's the poster for Sofia Coppola's new film 'Somewhere'!


Jack-in-the-Box Office for the weekend of June 11th-13th

After a series of films underperformed at the box office throughout the past month, shockingly it was “The Karate Kid” that shattered all expectations by taking in $56 million at the domestic box office this weekend. While global numbers were unavailable at this time, “The Karate Kid” had a $40 million production budget, and is looking at a profit margin that could be far higher than any other film released this summer. Even Sony who released “The Karate Kid” had predicted an opening of about half this scale, and to possibly be neck-and-neck for the top spot with the re-make of “The A-Team”. Ultimately, with kids getting out of school for the summer and families wanting to return to the movies, “The Karate Kid” filled a need in the marketplace that was open as many families had already seen “Shrek Forever After” in the last three weeks.

If “The Karate Kid” signaled a shift at the box office to better summer seasons gone by, “The A-Team”, fit right in to this summer’s series of opening weekends that fall somewhere in between disappointing and tragic. Although it may be more the former than the latter, “The A-Team” opened in second place with $26 million domestically and $41 million worldwide, only a fraction of its $110 million budget. While many have been quick to point fingers at “Hollywood” for rehashing ideas for sequels, video game adaptations, and re-imaginings that people didn’t want to see, it’s hard to place blame on the studio system for lack of original ideas leading to a weak marketplace the same weekend when a series re-boot took the top spot. While everyone underestimated the power of the branding of “The Karate Kid” (and it’s Justin Bieber tie-in which was likely game-changing), the brand recognition/loyalty for “The A-Team” didn’t seem to be in the marketplace in the way Fox may have expected or hoped.

As far as “Shrek Forever After” goes, the song remains the same with that film as it took third place at the box office this weekend making another $15 million, bringing its domestic total to $210 million and its worldwide total to $277. Again, while the numbers on the film remain profitable for Dreamworks (the film reportedly cost $165 million), it continues to fall short of the previous sequels in the franchise. This would continue to prove the “rule” that many filmgoers and bloggers have suggested , that audiences are growing weary of paying for expensive tickets to see franchise films that may have overstayed their welcome, and are growing even more weary of paying even more to see them in 3-D.

“Get Him to the Greek” took fourth place this week, adding another $10 million to its total to bring its domestic total to $36 million. This puts the film ahead of the two week gross of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and guarantees that the film should turn a profit in the coming days.

Though many films have underperformed at the box office this summer, the season has produced very few bona fide flops. Still, one of those flops could end up being “Killers”, which took in another $8 million this weekend to come in at fifth place. With the worldwide total being $31 million and production budget being reported as having been $75 million, its hard to say if the film will turn a profit in its theatrical run, but at this point it seems unlikely.

Three films opened this weekend in limited release, and they just so happen to be the three films with the highest per-screen averages. The top spot in this race went to the Sundance breakout hit “Winter’s Bone” which opened with $85,400, or $21,350 per-screen. With the film’s low-budget, positive reviews, and awards buzz, the film should easily turn a nice profit in the coming weeks and months.

“The Lottery”, the documentary on the education system in America, opened on one screen with $17,200, a success for a documentary with such little publicity.

“Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” had it’s American debut in three theaters where it make $48,800, or $16,267 per-screen. Though no budget for the film was available, the film has made over $3.5 million worldwide.

As always, we at the Awards Circuit are intrigued to find out what you saw this weekend and what you make of this rollercoaster summer at the box office. Is the multiplex offering to few original ideas for your taste? Are the sequels not entertaining enough? Have you been shunning them for indie fare? Or have ticket prices kept you out of the theaters all together? As always, all of us at the Awards Circuit would love to hear what awards potential you saw (if any) and wish you a wonderful summer at the movies.

Less than 24 hours until the new Awards Circuit debuts...

...so stay tuned and sit tight!

June 11, 2010

The actors vying to play Spider-Man continues to grow...

...with two excellent new options being added, according to The Los Angeles Times:

Since it was announced back in the winter, some have hoped/worried that Marc Webb's Spider-Man reboot will go in a "Kick-Ass" direction, a not unreasonable thought given multiple parallels between the two stories as well as the warm reception (if not exactly hot box office) that greeted "Kick-Ass."

Could it now go that way literally?

You can add two names to the growing list of (very early) candidates for the young Peter Parker, and one of them is Aaron Johnson, who played the titular nerd-hero in "Kick-Ass," sources say.

Johnson, who for months has been the subject of relentless online speculation about his suitability for the part, would indeed in many ways make an appropriate choice. His role in "Kick-Ass" saw him as a seemingly ordinary teenager transformed into a superhero, much in the way of Parker's Spider-Man. Of course, the analogy is also off in several key ways: Johnson was a fake superhero, not a real one, and his star in the film was eclipsed by Chloe Moretz's Hit-Girl.

The second actor to make his way on to the shortlist of the Sony film, according to sources, is Anton Yelchin, who has been coming on strong since his 2009 double-whammy of "Star Trek" and "Terminator Salvation".

Yelchin would have his champions too. His supporting role as Chekov in "Star Trek" didn't leave a deep impression, but he did steal the show as Kyle Reese in "Terminator Salvation."

Both of the new names are a bit more prominent than the actors who have previously surfaced. That list includes "Billy Elliot" star Jamie Bell, "Harry Potter" actor Frank Dillane, "The Kids Are All Right" costar Josh Hutcherson and up-and-comers Alden Ehrenreich and Andrew Garfield.

Of course, just the fact that these actors are being considered means little in practice. Over the last few months, director Marc Webb has canvassed a wide group of young actors with the aim of seeing which one he and and the studio should anoint to take the role previously filled by Tobey Maguire. Screen testing is expected to start shortly. And the hue and cry over whether the right choice was made will follow shortly after that.

-I'm a big Yelchin fan, but Johnson would be a very solid pick too...thoughts?

Which movie characters could clean up the oil spill?

Well, Cinematical has an article here, but this is the 10 they came up with for the purposes of saving the world:

1. Virgil from 'The Abyss'
2. The survivors from 'Sphere'
3. Mulder and Scully from 'The X-Files'
4. Harry from 'Armageddon'
5. Neo from 'The Matrix'
6. The Wolf from 'Pulp Fiction'
7. Daniel from 'There Will Be Blood'
8. MacGruber from 'MacGruber'
9. Spongebob from 'Spongebob Squarepants'
10. Superman from 'Superman'

-Any characters you would add to this list?

Prepare for a sequel to 'Clash of the Titans'...

...in the near future too, according to The Los Angeles Times:

"Clash of the Titans 2" is seemingly turning into a bigger priority by the day.

Producers, along with executives at Warner Bros. and producer Legendary Pictures, have been busily meeting with directors, with an eye to shooting the sequel as early as January.

A number of filmmakers are in contention for the job, but one name that's risen to the top of the list is Jonathan Liebesman. Originally a horror director -- he made "Darkness Falls" and the 2006 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" prequel -- Liebesman has re-fashioned himself as an action director. The filmmaker has a movie called "Battle: Los Angeles" -- about an alien invasion in this fair city -- coming next year. He's also onboard for another classic action tale (or an action tale set in a classic period) at Warner Bros: a re-imagining of "Odysseus" with the producers of "300," which Liebesman helped conceive and then sold to the studio.

The new director on "Clash 2" would of course replace Louis Leterrier, who opted not to direct the follow-up to his recent film.

Warners and Legendary have reason to move quickly on "Clash 2." The original (that is, the 2010 remake) pocketed a nice chunk of change -- $162 million domestically and a solid $325 million overseas, on a budget of only about $125 million. And this one will be shot in 3-D -- none of the conversion stuff. That means the movie could be more expensive, but at least it won't get hammered for its look.

Early 2011 is also a priority because the studio needs to make sure star Sam Worthington, who is committed to shoot "Avatar 2" (likely later in the year), is free and clear. Look for this one to continue to come together quickly.

-Well, it won't have to do much to be better than the first one, which was atrocious to me...thoughts?

Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte to join the cast of the 'Arthur' remake?

Well, The Hollywood Reporter says that they're in talks:

Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte are in talks to join the cast of "Arthur," Warner Bros.' remake of the 1981 comedy.

Russell Brand and Helen Mirren are starring in the pic, which Jason Winer is directing.

Closely hewing to the original, the new "Arthur" follows a very rich, happy drunk who is told by his mother that he must marry the wealthy girl of her choosing or else lose his inheritance, just as he meets a poor girl (Greta Gerwig) and falls in love.

Garner is playing an heiress who carries her own secrets and whom Brand must marry. Nolte is her deeply religious father.

Larry Brezner is producing with Kevin McCormick and Chris Bender.

Garner, repped by WME and Management 360, took part in New Line's ensemble rom-com "Valentine's Day" and recently wrapped "Butter," an indie dramedy set in the small-town world of competitive butter-sculpting. "Butter" is serving as her debut as a film producer.

CAA-repped Nolte last appeared in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and has "Warrior," an action movie directed by Gavin O'Connor and starring Tom Hardy, in the can. Lionsgate opens "Warrior" on Sept. 17.

-This project is shaping up nicely, in terms of cast...thoughts?

Disney's 'Tangled' gets a Trailer!

Take a gander:

-Do a dragon trainer and a bunch of toys have some competition for a gold statue?