Oscar Shortlist: Best Foreign Films! Academy Says Goodbye to "Two Days, One Night," "Mommy" 


Cannes winners "Mommy" by Xavier Dolan and Nuri Bilge's "Winter Sleep" were snubbed, so was Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne's "Two Days, One Night." But what remained are still exemplary foreign language films.

The Academy has whittled down the list and came up with nine films to choose from. We'll find out on January 15th which of these nine movies will advance to the final five!

Here's the complete press release from the Academy:

LOS ANGELES, CA – Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards®. Eighty-three films had originally been considered in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Argentina, "Wild Tales," Damián Szifrón, director;

Estonia, "Tangerines," Zaza Urushadze, director;

Georgia, "Corn Island," George Ovashvili, director;

Mauritania, "Timbuktu," Abderrahmane Sissako, director;

Netherlands, "Accused," Paula van der Oest, director;

Poland, "Ida," Paweł Pawlikowski, director;

Russia, "Leviathan," Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;

Sweden, "Force Majeure," Ruben Östlund, director;

Venezuela, "The Liberator," Alberto Arvelo, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2014 are being determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 15. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the category’s five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and, for the first time, London. They will spend Friday, January 9, through Sunday, January 11, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

# # #

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy


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Movie Reviews: “Annie” & “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” 


Two big movies to choose from this weekend, we have “Annie” for musical fans and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” for those who love epics! Is “Annie” worthy of the beloved musical? Is the final “Hobbit” the best of the bunch? Which one is my pick of the week? Find out below in my movie reviews of “Annie” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”



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Canceled! No More "The Interview"...For Now! 


The hackers have officially won! Sony cancelled "The Interview" across America! Take a look at their press release below:

In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.


But truth be told, you're not missing much! Unless you are really, really dying to see Kim Jong-un's head explode, much of the comedy in "The Interview" are hit and miss, more misses than hits. But it's sad that a studio must kowtow to external pressures for a release of the film. I wonder what Seth Rogen and James Franco are saying about this developing story.

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London Film Critics Love "Mr. Turner," "Birdman" 


Mike Leigh's J.M.W. Turner biopic, "Mr. Turner," topped the nominations for the London Film Critics Circle. The film about the English Romantic landscape painter, water-colourist, and printmaker played by Timothy Spall received 7 nods followed by Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman" with 6. We'll find out the winners on January 18.

Here's the complete list of London Film Critics Circle nominees:

Film of the Year
"Birdman"
"Boyhood"
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"Ida"
"Leviathan"
"Mr. Turner"
"Nightcrawler"
"The Theory of Everything"
"Under the Skin"
"Whiplash"

Foreign Language Film of the Year
"Ida"
"Leviathan"
"Norte, The End of History"
"Two Days, One Night"
"Winter Sleep"

British Film of the Year
"The Imitation Game"
"Mr. Turner"
"Pride"
"The Theory of Everything"
"Under the Skin"

Documentary of the Year
"CITIZENFOUR"
"Manakamana"
"Next Goal Wins"
"Night Will Fall"
"20,000 Days on Earth"

Actor of the Year
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Nightcrawler"
Michael Keaton, "Birdman"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"
Timothy Spall, "Mr. Turner"

Actress of the Year
Marion Cotillard, "Two Days, One Night"
Essie Davis, "The Babadook"
Scarlett Johansson, "Under the Skin"
Julianne Moore, "Maps to the Stars"
Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"

Supporting Actor of the Year
Riz Ahmed, "Nightcrawler"
Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"
Edward Norton, "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"
JK Simmons, "Whiplash"

Supporting Actress of the Year
Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
Marion Bailey, "Mr. Turner"
Jessica Chastain, "A Most Violent Year"
Agata Kulesza, "Ida"
Emma Stone, "Birdman"

British Actor of the Year
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"
Tom Hardy, "Locke," "The Drop"
Jack O'Connell, "Starred Up," "'71" and "Unbroken"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"
Timothy Spall, "Mr. Turner"

British Actress of the Year
Emily Blunt, "Into the Woods" and "Edge of Tomorrow"
Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"
Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game," Begin Again" and "Say When"
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, "Belle"
Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl" and "What We Did on Our Holiday"

Young British Performer of the Year
Daniel Huttlestone, "Into the Woods"
Alex Lawther, "The Imitation Game"
Corey McKinley, "'71"
Will Poulter, "The Maze Runner" and "Plastic"
Saoirse Ronan, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Director of the Year
Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Jonathan Glazer, "Under the Skin"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"
Mike Leigh, "Mr. Turner"

Screenwriter of the Year
Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel "
Damien Chazelle, "Whiplash"
Dan Gilroy, "Nightcrawler"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"

Breakthrough British Filmmaker
Hossein Amini, "The Two Faces of January"
Elaine Constantine, "Northern Soul"
Yann Demange, "'71"
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, "20,000 Days on Earth"
James Kent, "Testament of Youth"

Technical Achievement
"'71," Chris Wyatt, editing
"Birdman," Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematography
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," Joe Letteri, visual effects
"The Grand Budapest Hotel," Adam Stockhausen, production design
"Inherent Vice," Mark Bridges, costumes
"Leviathan," Mikhail Krichman, cinematography
"Mr. Turner," Dick Pope, cinematography
"A Most Violent Year," Kasia Walicka-Maimone, costumes
"Under the Skin," Mica Levi, score
"Whiplash," Tom Cross, editing

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"Selma" to Open Palm Springs International Film Festival 


Paramount's "Selma" from director Ava Duvernay is picking up steam this awards season. The Martin Luther King drama has been announced to be the opening night movie of the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. The festival will close on Sunday, January 11 with the US premiere of "Boychoir" from director Francois Girard. David Oyelowo, who plays the beloved King in "Selma," is also being honored at the fest with Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor.

Here's the complete press release which includes the list of Easter European movies in a program titled Eastern Promises:

Palm Springs, CA (December 16, 2014) – The 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will launch on Friday, January 2 with the opening night screening of the GoldenGlobe nominated Selma directed by Ava Duvernay. The Festival will wrap on Sunday, January 11 with the US premiere of Boychoir directed by François Girard. New this year, the festival will focus on 20 films from Eastern Europe in a program titled Eastern Promises. The festival runs January 2-12, 2015.

"We are thrilled to launch this year's festival with Selma, Ava DuVernay's deeply moving civil rights drama, featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by David Oyelowo in the role of Dr. Martin Luther King” said Helen du Toit, Artistic Director. “The timing could hardly be better with the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the historical voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery. On a personal note, it is heartening that for the second consecutive year our Opening Night film is directed by a black woman. That, surely, is a sign of progress and a reason for hope.”

“The opportunity to close this year’s Festival with a rapturous new work by acclaimed master of music on film François Girard (32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin) provides the perfect capper to a 10-day symphony of superb cinematic treats,” said Darryl Macdonald, Festival Director. “Bookending this year’s exceptionally diverse lineup with these two remarkable American films makes for strong and quintessentially satisfying viewing from start to finish.”

The Festival will open with Paramount Pictures Selma, followed by a reception at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. The film stars David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey, who also serves as a producer. Oyelowo (who will receive the Festival’s Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor) and director DuVernay are expected to attend the film screening. The film has also received four Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture, Drama, Best Actor, Drama and Best Director. The film will open nationwide on January 16 over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend and timed to the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the historical voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery.

The Festival will close with Boychoir, directed by François Girard. The film is about a troubled 12-year-old from a disadvantaged background who gets accepted at an elite music school, TheNational Boychoir Academy. He engages in a battle of wills with a tough taskmaster, the school's Choirmaster, Carvelle. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Garrett Wareing, Kathy Bates, Eddie Izzard, Kevin McHale, Josh Lucas and Debra Winger.

The festival will spotlight Central and Eastern European filmmaking in a special focus titled Eastern Promises. This year, the region boasts some of the strongest-ever candidates for the upcoming Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®, a mature generation of auteurs who are assuming the mantle of masters, and a new generation who created some of the most stirring, controversial and acclaimed films of 2014. The 20 films selected in the program include:

Afterlife (Hungary) - Tender, funny and surprising, Afterlife is a sweetly absurdist coming-of-age tale that explores the relationship between an anxious twenty-something and his controlling father, a village Pastor — not only while the older man is alive, but also after his death. Director: Virág Zomborácz

Corn Island (Georgia) - A fable-like drama capturing the cycle of life along the border between Georgia and Abkhazia. An old farmer sows corn on one of the tiny islands that form in the Inguri River each spring, but cultivating no-man’s land is dangerous business. Director: George Ovashvili

Cowboys (Croatia) - A nifty blend of social drama and absurdist comedy, about a bunch of small town no-hopers who stage an American Western as a musical. Director: Tomislav Mršic

Fair Play (Czech Republic/Slovakia/Germany) - In Czechoslovakia circa 1983, a talented young sprinter risks her career by resisting the “special care” program designed to boost her competition times in this involving drama. Director: Andrea Sedlácková

Ida (Poland) - A moving and intimate drama set in 1960s Poland, about a young novitiate on the verge of taking her vows who discovers a dark family secret dating from the Nazi occupation. The film received Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress at the Polish Film Awards. Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

In the Crosswind (Estonia) - An art film in every sense of the word, this black-and-white slice of history mixes live-action with tableaux vivants to provide a requiem for inhabitants of the Baltics deported to Siberia or killed on Stalin’s orders. Director: Martti Helde

The Guide (Ukraine) - A boy on the run is rescued by a blind folk minstrel in this tale of love, loyalty, betrayal and infamy, set during the suppression of rural "kulaks" — wealthy farmers — and the Soviet-engineered Ukraine famine that left as many as 10 million peasants dead from starvation. Director: Oles Sanin

The Japanese Dog (Romania) - This moving tale centers on a bereaved 80-year-old reconnecting with his estranged son, who returns to Romania with a Japanese wife and child. Director: Tudor Christian Jurgiu

Kebab & Horoscope (Poland) - A former kebab-shop employee and an out-of-work horoscope writer declare themselves marketing experts and are hired to help a struggling carpet emporium in this droll shaggy-dog story. Director: Grzegorz Jaroszuk

The Lesson (Bulgaria/Greece) - An honest, hard-working schoolteacher in a small Bulgarian town is driven to desperate measures to avoid financial ruin and must grapple with the moral consequences of her actions. Directors: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov

Mirage (Hungary/Slovakia) - An African footballer on the lam (Isaach de Bankolé) in the desolate and lawless plains of Hungary becomes an avenging angel in Szabolcs Hajdu’s Eastern European western. A beautiful, mysterious work, it’s graced with fantastic camerawork and a superb soundtrack. Director: Szabolcs Hajdu

No One’s Child (Serbia/Croatia) - In the spring of 1988, hunters capture a wild boy among the wolves deep in the Bosnian mountains and send him to a Belgrade orphanage. But his “education” is interrupted by war. Director: Vuk Ršumovic

The Reaper (Croatia/Slovenia) - With a superb, seasoned cast and stellar camerawork, three intertwined stories unfold over a single night in an isolated Croatian village. This tense, nuanced drama makes for grim but compelling viewing. Director: Zvonimir Juric

Rocks in My Pockets (Latvia) - A modern milestone in animated storytelling, stuffed with irony, humor and tales within tales, this imaginative memoir merges director Signe Baumane’s own story with a mini-history of 20th century Latvia. Director: Signe Baumane

See you in Montevideo (Serbia) - This exciting sequel to Montevideo, Taste of a Dream (PSIFF, 2013) continues the tale of how the Yugoslav football team took part in the first official World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930 and made sports history. Director: Dragan Bjelogrlic

Tangerines (Estonia) - 1992. An Estonian village in Abkhazia. The approaching war scares off all but two villagers who remain to harvest the tangerines. This deeply pacifist chamber drama is as tense as a thriller. Director: Zaza Urushadze

These Are the Rules (Croatia/France/Serbia) - Based on a true story, this is a painstaking and painful account of the official indifference and injustice that confronts the law-abiding parents of a teenage boy badly beaten up by a high school bully. Director: Ognjen Svilicic

Three Windows and a Hanging (Kosovo) - When a woman from a traditional Kosovar village anonymously reveals to an international journalist that she and others were raped during the war with Serbia, the fallout from this once-repressed secret threatens to tear apart the fabric of village life. Director: Isa Qosja

The Tribe (Ukraine) - One of the most original, audacious and talked about films of 2014, The Tribe takes place in a boarding school for the deaf where the students participate in an underground criminal network. Performed entirely in sign language without subtitles. DirectorL Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy

White God (Hungary) - A new city law taxing mixed breed mutts leads many owners to dump their dogs on the streets – including 13-year-old Lili’s beloved pet Hagen. While she tries to find him, Hagen fights for survival. But every dog has his day. Director: Kornél Mundruczó


“Cinephiles who came of age in the days of the Czech and Polish New Waves have cause to rejoice,” said Alissa Simon, PSIFF Senior Programmer. “In 2014, filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe produced some of the poignant and provocative works of world cinema and we are spotlighting them here, from discoveries by new talent to mustn't miss works by familiar names.”

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet.

The Awards Gala of the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival is presented by Cartier and sponsored by Mercedes Benz and Entertainment Tonight. The City of Palm Springs is the Title Sponsor of the Film Festival. Presenting Sponsors are Wells Fargo, The Desert Sun and Spencer’s. Major sponsors are Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Wessman Development, Bank of America, Wintec, Regal Entertainment Group, Ignition Creative, Desert Regional Medical Center, Windermere Real Estate, Eisenhower Medical Center, Guthy-Renker, Integrated Wealth Management, VisitGreaterPalmSprings.com, Ocean Properties, Chihuly and Telefilm Canada.


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