The nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards were released last week and met with mixed reactions. Some were ecstatic, others were disappointed, but how many were surprised? The Academy has been attempting to present itself in a new light in the years since a slew of all-white nominees was presented in the Best Actor category at the 2015 ceremony. Despite the #OscarsSoWhite movement that followed, the same thing happened the next year, sending organizers into a furor that found them completely revamping the membership list in the hopes of getting more diversified nominations. Although the 89th ceremony saw some changes in terms of the voting body, it seemed more like a desperate attempt to show change rather than a legitimate attempt to actually change. Now, in the age of #MeToo, this year’s nominees also fell shy of expectations. Continue reading →
A new independent drama from Oscar-winning writer/director Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank) is opening in select theaters across the country this weekend. The film, called American Honey, follows a teenage girl as she joins a group of misfits, or “traveling salesmen” and gets swept up in a life of alcohol, drugs, crime, young love, and all the drama that comes with it while hitchhiking their way across the Midwestern United States. Starring in the lead role is newcomer Sasha Lane, who is supported onscreen by Shia LaBeouf (Lawless, Fury), Riley Keough (The Good Doctor, Mad Max: Fury Road), McCaul Lombardi (Age of the Moon, Mindless), Arielle Holmes (Heaven Knows What, 2307: Winter’s Dream), and Isaiah Stone (Winter’s Bone). American Honey stole the show at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Jury Prize and securing a Palme d’Or nomination for director Andrea Arnold, whose acclaimed independent films have earned her a big name among the industry. The trailer for American Honey is available here on MADE. If you get a chance, I would definitely put it on your movie list for this weekend. Enjoy!
This week’s Memorable Movie Moment takes us back to 1962 and director Robert Mulligan‘s big screen adaptation of author Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird. The story of Mockingbird goes even further back to the Depression-era South, and finds white attorney Atticus Finch defending a black man accused of beating a white woman. Atticus Finch has become a name synonymous with racial justice in twentieth-century America. The book was published in 1960 and became an instant best-seller, earning author Lee a Pulitzer Prize. It is regularly read among high school literature classes and has become one of the most famous and successful novels ever written. After publishing Mockingbird, Lee never wrote another book. She did assist author Truman Capote with research for his famous novel In Cold Blood, and the character of Dill is said to be based on Capote, who was a childhood friend of the authors. Lee’s estate also published the original manuscript for Mockingbird titled Go Set a Watchman earlier this year, but the release remains somewhat controversial as Lee’s health was deteriorating and questions arose regarding whether it was her idea to publish the novel or not. Continue reading →
This weekend you can see a new documentary from award-winning documentarians Robert Gordon (The Blues, Johnny Cash’s America) and Morgan Neville (The Cool School, Twenty Feet From Stardom) titled Best of Enemies. The film chronicles a series of debates held between liberal thinker Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr. in 1968. Intended to be a public commentary on the political and social issues of the day, the two ended up unintentionally changing modern media format from informed delivery of fact to exaggeration and speculation. Providing interviews for the film are the debaters, themselves, as well as Kelsey Grammer (X-Men: The Last Stand, Boss), John Lithgow (Shrek, Interstellar), Dick Cavett (The Dick Cavett Show, Forrest Gump), Noam Chomsky (The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror, The U.S. Vs. John Lennon), and Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor). The film received a nomination at the Sundance Film Festival for the Grand Jury Prize and also earned high remarks at this year’s Montclair Film Festival. Watch the trailer here on MADE, the film will be open on big screens Friday, July 31st.
Director Thomas McCarthy is currently working on his upcoming church-sex-scandal drama Spotlight, which follows the story of the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the case of child molestation reports in the Catholic Church that had been covered up for decades in Boston, Massachusetts. The team won a Pulitzer-Prize for their work in uncovering the state-wide conspiracy that has since left the Catholic Church in increasingly lacking popularity. McCarthy already has an impressive line-up of actors set to portray the real life reporters and others involved in the case, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, and Rachel McAdams, but now a new cast member has been added to the line up. Almost Famous and Big Fish star Billy Crudup is now set to take the role of Eric MacLeish, a high ranking lawyer in Boston. Other real-life individuals surrounding the case that will be depicted in the film are Boston Globe editor Marty Baron, Spotlight Team editor Walter Robinson, projects editor Ben Bradlee Jr., and investigators Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matt Carroll. McCarthy is co-writing the script with Josh Singer, but there is still no word on a release date and some of the major roles still have to be filled by the production team, so we’ll look for more news as it comes along.
William Safire, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who also served as speech writer for President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s, regretfully passed away back in 2009, but he left us some interesting material from that era of history that saw the Civil Rights Movement, anti-Vietnam protests, and the rock-n-roll fueled British Invasion that brought The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to the American counterculture. A speech by Safire was discovered upon his death, entitled “In The Event Of A Moon Disaster,” which was written for President Nixon in the event that the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that took Neil Armstrong to the moon did not go according to plan. Now the screenplay, which was black-listed back in 2011, is being picked up by director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) for a feature-film. Former journalist Mike Jones, who wrote the screenplay, will be working with the director on the film, which they hope to be filming early next year.
Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have been attached to one of the most successful spy film franchises for the last 20+ years. I’m talking, of course, about the 50-year running James Bond franchise, which first began with Broccoli’s father, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in 1962 with the first Bond adventure, Dr. No. Now the two spy-film writers/producers are venturing into the realm of real-life spy controversy with a new biopic about Edward Snowden, formerly of the CIA and NSA, who is now in exile in Russia for leaking classified information to the press regarding the spy agencies’ questionable tactics behind their information-collecting policies. The film will be adapted from a new book, No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, by The Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald, who first reported on Snowden’s espionage and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Sony Pictures is currently developing the project with the James Bond producers at the helm, but with Bond 24 and 25 already in early pre-production with director Sam Mendes, it might be a while before we see this one really get up and running.