For its Best Actress 2017 Oscar predictions, IndieWire has named Amy Adams (Arrival), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and Emma Stone (La La Land) as frontrunners. Arrival has earned excellent reviews from both critics and theatre goers. La La Land has out-of-this world word of mouth. So, we can see Amy and Emma as having a real shot at winning. Natalie Portman has been winning everyone over with her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy.
Contenders and Long Shots
Ruth Negga (Loving), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train) and Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane) were also listed among the contenders and long shots.
Paper has published a list of unmissable films for December. It’s actually a good, well-rounded list. New offering from Jim Jarmusch (starring Adam Driver, no less)? A movie about Neruda? A couple of horror films? Sign us up.
We’ve already seen and loved Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta. We’ve also seen I, Daniel Blake and found it to be one of those movies you’re sort of required to like, to prove you have a conscience (It was a bit heavy handed, maybe?). La La Land is getting good word of mouth, but we’d definitely see it anyway.
Films for December
Paterson: Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey—they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, he writes poetry into a notebook; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura’s world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Cliff Smith, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper, Masatoshi Nagasi
Julieta: Julieta lives in Madrid with her daughter Antía. They both suffer in silence over the loss of Xoan, Antía’s father and Julieta’s husband. But at times grief doesn’t bring people closer, it drives them apart.
Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner, Rossy de Palma
The Eyes of My Mother: In their secluded farmhouse, a mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, teaches her daughter, Francisca, to understand anatomy and be unfazed by death. One afternoon, a mysterious visitor shatters the idyll of Francisca’s family life, deeply traumatizing the young girl, but also awakening unique curiosities. Though she clings to her increasingly reticent father, Francisca’s loneliness and scarred nature converge years later when her longing to connect with the world around her takes on a dark form. Shot in crisp black and white, the haunting visual compositions evoke its protagonist’s isolation and illuminate her deeply unbalanced worldview. Genre-inflected, but so strikingly unique as to defy categorization, writer/director Nicolas Pesce’s feature debut allows only an elliptical presence in Francisca’s world, guiding our imaginations to follow her into peculiar, secret places.
Kika Magalhães, Will Brill, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong, Diana Agostini, Olivia Bond
I, Daniel Blake: A middle aged carpenter who requires state welfare after injuring himself, is joined by a single mother in a similar scenario.
Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Sharon Percy
Neruda: Beloved poet Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) is also the most famous communist in post-WWII Chile. When the political tides shift, he is forced underground, with a perseverant police inspector (Gael García Bernal) hot on his trail. Meanwhile, in Europe, the legend of the poet hounded by the policeman grows, and artists led by Pablo Picasso clamor for Neruda’s freedom.
Neruda, however, sees the struggle with his police inspector nemesis as an opportunity to reinvent himself. He cunningly plays with the inspector, leaving clues designed to make their game of cat-and-mouse ever more perilous. In this story of a persecuted poet and his obsessive adversary, Neruda recognizes his own heroic possibilities: a chance to become a symbol for liberty, as well as a literary legend.
Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Morán
A Monster Calls: A visually spectacular drama from acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Impossible”), based on the award-winning children’s fantasy novel. 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith.
Juan Antonio Bayona
Patrick Ness, based on his novel A Monster Calls
Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver
Miss Sloane: In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. Known equally for her cunning and her track record of success, she has always done whatever is required to win.
But when she takes on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds that winning may come at too high a price.
Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stulbarg, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston, John Lithgow
La La Land: Written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Damien Chazelle, LA LA LAND tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern-day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe, Tom Everett Scott, Josh Pence
The Autopsy of Jane Doe: Cox and Hirsch play father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young “Jane Doe,” they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets.
J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts continues to get a lot of press. Reviews for the movie, which is the first in a series of five, have been generally positive. Fantastic Beasts currently rates a 76% on the Tomatometer and an Audience Score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic, Beasts is at a mostly positive 66%. Not surprisingly, it opened globally with $200m at number one, beating Doctor Strange and Trolls. Is this a big enough opening to launch a new Wizarding World series? Apparently, yes.
Improving Fantastic Beasts
However, that hasn’t kept some from speculating on improving Fantastic Beasts. Entertainment Weekly, for example, lists five suggestions with which we’d more or less agree:
Focus on fewer beasts (We called this one earlier, as the beast sequences can be a little distracting.).
Lure Newt out of his shell, as he can be a little repressed (except for when he’s in action mode, wrestling a beast).
Escape from New York (Is it just us or do the American witches seem either beaurocratic and heartless, or gangster and heartless? Maybe we just didn’t get see enough of them outside of Queenie and Porpentina.).
More Credence (Please.). A less campy Johnny Depp (Grindelwald isn’t The Mad Hatter or Willy Wonka, so hopefully Depp will give us a villain we can sink our teeth into.).
Producer David Heyman Discusses Importance of Tolerance at Fantastic Beasts Premiere
J.K. Rowling, Eddie Redmayne, and Ezra Miller joined director David Yates, and the rest of the Fantastic Beasts cast on the red carpet Tuesday night for the movie’s European Premiere. Producer David Heyman took the opportunity to discuss the movie’s timely message of tolerance.
“She writes about our world, about outsiders, it’s about tolerance and intolerance. These are our issues. This is our world. These characters are us. I think that’s why it resonates in the way it does.”
Indeed, Fantastic Beasts explores intolerance in regard to the beasts, which the witches are largely prone to kill, and between humans and witches. Significantly, the effects of intolerance resonate most emotionally in the story of Credence (Ezra Miller). Rowling’s story and Miller’s performance combine to deliver some of Fantastic Beasts’ most poignant moments. The budding, yet forbidden, relationship between Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Dan Fogler) explores tolerance in a touching, more positive, light.
Ripped from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s script, a sudden and saturating downpour fell upon a glut of unsuspecting muggles – better known in the U.S. as no-majs.
Rowling’s on-carpet incantations proved rusty. Her best spell to stop the rain failed when it was needed most, forcing the masses to resort to a roof of roaming umbrellas around the Leicester Square carpet.
Fresh from his 1926 expedition to a spellbound New York City, lead beast-loving naturalist Eddie Redmayne was enjoying himself, divulging his fanboy love of the wizarding world. “I used to go and watch the [Harry] Potter films for a J.K. Rowling hug every few years,” he said.
Joining the worldly wizard on the carpet came a new generation magical cast including Alison Sudol, Katherine Waterston, Carmen Ejogo, Ezra Miller, and Dan Fogler. “Potter” alumni were still aptly represented however – faced by director David Yates, producer David Heyman and Warner Bros. U.K. head Josh Berger.
Heyman gave his insight into Rowling’s fantastically timely relevance when he stated, “She writes about our world, about outsiders, it’s about tolerance and intolerance. These are our issues. This is our world. These characters are us. I think that’s why it resonates in the way it does.”
Following the big screen wrap, guests headed eastbound to the Grand Connaught Rooms. Celebrating the resurgence of Rowling’s fantastical world, partying in a vast magical illusion set in 1920s Manhattan. One area of the party was themed after New York City Hall and subway, where some of the film is set.
CATE BLANCHETT, ALEX RUSSELL, CHARMENE YAP, ARELLA PLATER
vfx supervisor RICHARD LAMBERT
sound designer BROOKE TREZISE
composer TOM SCHUTZINGER
editor MARK BENNETT
production & costume designer ALICE BABIDGE
director of photography BENJAMIN SHIRLEY ACS
creative director LIZ ELLIS
executive producers CECILIA RITCHIE, ARNDT ART AGENCY, ART GALLERY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA, BESEN COLLECTION and BURGER COLLECTION
producer ANGIE FIELDER
written and directed by DEL KATHRYN BARTON
Cate Blanchett is showing off some serious contortionist skills in the trailer for her new short film RED.
The dual-screen experimental project, from Australian director Del Kathryn Barton, delves into “themes of passion, sex and death, drawing on the symbolism of the female redback spider,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Its first preview shows Blanchett, clad in a full-body fishnet getup, writhing around on the ground before wrestling with a man.
“In essence, the narrative in RED illuminates the unusual mating rituals of the Australian red-back spider,” Barton, who also called the film an “uncompromising celebration of female power,” told the publication. “Here, our brave little male after copulating with the monumental female gently somersaults into her mouth, offering himself as a meal postcoital. If she is not hungry she will store his bound, dying body on her web for later consumption.”
Barton, who crafted the film using a $50,000 creative fellowship from the Australian Film Television and Radio School, which she was awarded in 2015, previously captured the image of Blanchett and her children in a portrait she painted in 2011.
In addition to Blanchett, RED also stars actor Alex Russell and Charmene Yap of the Sydney Dance Company.
RED runs next year from Jan. 26-April 30 at the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of the Adelaide Festival. Watch the short’s first trailer below.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Advance Screening for Lumos
Director: David Yates
Writers: J.K. Rowling, J.K. Rowling (textbook)
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell
We just caught an early screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with JK Rowling and the cast, benefiting her Lumos charity. Eddie Redmayne lead the Q&A, during which Rowling explained the developmental harm being done to children in even the best of orphanages. Lumos works to provide family and community-based care for children in place of institutional care.
The movie itself is a wild ride. There’s so much layering of plot and subplot, that not only do the beasts themselves sometimes seem like a distraction, but it’s easy to see why the Fantastic Beasts series will stretch out over five movies. However, a couple of the beasts do provide some comedy relief, as many of the scenes can be on the darker side. American witches, it turns out, have a taste for death. The theme of abuse and the suppression of potential, also provide with film with darker tones.
The cast is great. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) semi-consistently comes across as awkward and obsessed with his work. But when the situation calls for it, he’s in action adventure mode. Ezra Miller gives one of our favorite performances as Credence, but I won’t give away any spoilers. His relationship with Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) is peculiar at first, and quickly escalates.
Before the start of the movie, Rowling told of her love for these characters. I feel we’ve only gotten a glimpse of them, but so far they are likable enough. Queenie, played by Alison Loren Sudol, is probably most likable after Newt.
After the movie, JK Rowling joined members of her Lumos team on stage, to a standing ovation. She thanked the audience for helping to raise money for the charity. Then she asked, “So, did you enjoy the movie? So it was worth it.”
Cinema Scape: NOCTURNAL ANIMALS – Official Trailer [HD] – In Select Theaters November 18
From writer/director Tom Ford comes a haunting romantic thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in “Nocturnal Animals.”
Featuring the music of Ludovico Einaudi, under exclusive license courtesy of Ponderosa Music & Art.