Nebraska color version

We don’t see many new films produced in black and white, and even fewer that get major studio distribution. And even then, there’s often a color version kept in reserve for use in certain markets. Such was the case with Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska, released last winter. Payne had to cut the budget of the film in order to get Paramount to agree to the black and white aesthetic. Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael shot the film digitally, and due to certain TV deals, he and Payne created a color version.  Payne hoped that version would never be seen, but now the Nebraska color version will be broadcast on the Epix network, along with the original black and white version. Read More »

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American Hustle Lego header

Even before we found out “everything is awesome” in The LEGO Movie, LEGO movie stuff was pretty “awesome” on the internet. The LEGO video games made new fans, and reimagined posters using the construction toys are fairly common place. Huge trailers are regularly adapted into stop motion LEGO versions. Even so, those adaptations are usually for “blockbuster” cinema, big summer and superhero movies.

Now the gang over at Old Red Jalopy have remade the posters for all 9 Oscar nominees for Best Picture with LEGO. It makes sense for some, like Gravity, but 12 Years A Slave? Nebraska? The fricking Dallas Buyers Club in LEGO? Check them out below. Read More »

American Hustle

Following SAG and the PGA, the Writers Guild of America has just unveiled its list of nominees for the 2014 nominees. For anyone who’s been watching the awards race, the list won’t contain many surprises. The WGA likes American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club just as much as everyone else does. Additionally, several of the most notable absences can be chalked up to disqualifications. 12 Years a Slave, considered a favorite for the Best Picture Oscar, was deemed ineligible, as was Golden Globe nominee Philomena.

One that did qualify but failed to secure a nomination nonetheless was the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis, which similarly struck out with both SAG and the PGA. And one unexpected outcome was a nomination for Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor, which hasn’t come up in too many awards seasons conversations as of yet.

Hit the jump to read the full list.

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Before Midnight 12

If you’re both 1) desperate for some distraction from the holiday hubbub and 2) eager to get a leg up on the rest of your office for the annual Oscar pool, here’s a way to kill two birds with one stone.

Over thirty screenplays for some of 2013′s top films have just been made available, legally and for free, through the studios. Highlights include John Ridley‘s 12 Years a Slave, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy‘s Before Midnight, Terence Winter‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, and many more.

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Golden Globes

While most of the West Coast was still curled up in bed, Aziz Ansari, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde got up bright and early this morning to announce the nominees for the 71st annual Golden Globes.

12 Years a Slave and American Hustle led the film nominations, with an impressive seven each. The latter didn’t get nearly as much recognition at yesterday’s SAG awards announcement, but the former is crystallizing its status as the one to beat this year. Nebraska also came in strong with five nominations, while Captain Phillips and Gravity picked up four apiece.

Meanwhile, House of Cards and Behind the Candelabra topped the list of TV nominees, with four nods each. Breaking Bad, if you were wondering, got three. On the comedy side, Parks and Recreation, Girls, and newcomer Brooklyn Nine-Nine picked up two each.

Read the full list (with announcements still in progress) after the jump.

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12-years-a-slave-TIFF-review

The best award set of the season is usually the Independent Spirit Awards — that’s the ceremony where filmmakers cut loose, and it’s the set of awards that is most likely to highlight actual achievement, rather than doling out statues to whoever campaigned the hardest for their Oscar.

Today the nominations of for the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards were announced, and they spread recognition out to a wide array of films. 12 Years a Slave scored the most nominations, but this year’s crop of films is diverse and excellent; if you spent the rest of 2013 catching up with everything you’ve yet to see on this list, it would be a great end-of-year movie run. Read More »

‘Nebraska’ Spoiler-Free Video Review

NEBRASKA

I’ve always found Alexander Payne’s work to be challenging, funny, and heartfelt. His newest film, Nebraska, is no exception. After receiving Cannes’ Best Actor prize for Bruce Dern’s performance as Woody Grant, Nebraska is now out in limited release. It’s a beautiful, understated film and worth your time if you’re interested in a darkly funny, deliberately paced character study.

Russ Fischer joined me for a brief video review. You can hear more of our thoughts on the film after the jump.

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NEBRASKA

You’ve never seen Will Forte as you’ll see him in Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne. The actor has cemented himself as a favorite comic talent who can play surprisingly intense guys with a vulnerable core, but he has never been at the center of a dramatic movie, much less something like this laconic black and white road movie.

Forte plays David Grant, a bit of a sad-sack, and the child of Woody Grant, played by Bruce Dern. When Woody insists on making the trip from Montana to Nebraska to claim sweepstakes winnings that David (and the rest of their family) know to be bogus, the younger man agrees to drive his father, both to guide him, and to strengthen the weak bond between the two men.

The film is quiet and meditative as it touches on family and the deep roots of individual characters, but also often gently comic, and occasionally uproariously funny. The funniest bits, however, are delivered by actors other than Forte, who spends much of the film as the straight man to Dern. He’s quite good at it, too. In fact, the shy but determined caregiver that emerges through Forte’s performance is something of a revelation from the actor.

I spoke to Forte in Los Angeles, and our conversation naturally ran towards the new territory in which the role placed him. But we also touched on his own obsessive and nervous tendencies, the pleasure of working with a seasoned pros like Dern and Stacy Keach, and briefly about the long-tail appeal of MacGruber. Read More »

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