Summer is just about over, and the arrival of this weekend’s The Light Between Oceans — a period romance starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz — offers elegant proof. In honor of this year’s exodus from our annual buttery blockbuster season, we decided to dedicate this column to a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from the Oscar-winning Ms. Weisz’s estimable filmography. It’s time for Total Recall!


Definitely, Maybe (2008) 70%

A sort of How I Met Your Mother for the big screen, Definitely, Maybe stars Ryan Reynolds as an about-to-be-divorced dad whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) demands to hear how her parents met — and who responds by concocting a romantic mystery of sorts, leading her (and the audience) on a rom-com odyssey starring Reynolds alongside the kid’s potential moms: Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz. Setting aside the absurd beauty of that putative gene pool, this bubbly hit has loads of charm, and easily wooed the majority of critics despite a rather ordinary list of narrative ingredients. “Is this movie the best romantic comedy of the year? Maybe not,” admitted the Miami Herald’s Connie Ogle. “Do you walk out with a smile on your face? Definitely.”

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Runaway Jury (2003) 73%

John Grisham will never be regarded as a quote-unquote Serious Author, but his legal thrillers can make for great paperback fun — and a few of them have been turned into pretty good movies, too. For example, here’s 2003’s Runaway Jury, a boilerplate legal thriller enlivened by a crackerjack cast that included John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and (surprise!) Rachel Weisz. All that star wattage didn’t add up to a major box office hit, but between the talent on display and director Gary Fleder’s deft hand with all the assorted courtroom shenanigans, most critics were duly impressed; as Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote for Entertainment Weekly, “Although the twists are pulpy and the legal foundations feel wildly porous, Fleder, a practiced hand at TV-cop stuff and movie thrills, makes the film a faster, more agile bundle of entertainment than the book.”

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Sunshine (1999) 74%

This list should offer ample proof that Rachel Weisz is about more than sweeping, romantic period epics. But if that’s the genre that comes to mind when you think of her, there are more than a few excellent reasons why — and Sunshine, a sweeping, romantic period epic from director/co-writer István Szabó, is among them. Here, Weisz helps anchor an ensemble cast for a story following three generations of life in a Hungarian Jewish family (each of which features Ralph Fiennes in a different role), unfolding from the turn of the 20th century into the aftermath of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The movie’s three-hour length and Szabó’s fondness for melodrama annoyed a handful of critics who couldn’t get into it, but for others, the end result was well worth the investment. “This is a movie of substance and thrilling historical sweep,” wrote Roger Ebert, “and its three hours allow Szabó to show the family’s destiny forming and shifting under pressure.”

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Youth (2015) 71%

A great cast isn’t always enough to make a movie worth viewing, but it gives a director a pretty good head start — and when that cast includes Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, and Rachel Weisz, you’ve just about sealed the deal even if your film includes a handful of head-scratching interludes that include floating monks, dozens of cowbells, and a guy dressed up as Adolf Hitler. Oddball ingredients aside, writer-director Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth offers some fine actors an opportunity to play well-rounded characters grappling with getting older and contemplating the loss of opportunity and the consequences of their choices. Calling it “Quixotic, idiosyncratic, effortlessly moving,” Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “It’s as much a cinematic essay as anything else, a meditation on the wonders and complications of life, an examination of what lasts, of what matters to people no matter their age.”

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The Whistleblower (2010) 75%

Director/co-writer Larysa Kondracki searched for nearly a decade before securing funding for The Whistleblower, a fact-based drama about an ex-cop (Weisz) who took a job with defense contractors training police in Bosnia and Herzegovina, only to discover the company was running a sex trafficking ring — and the UN wasn’t doing anything about it. Fired after pursuing her investigation, she took her findings to the media, prompting promises of a full-scale UN inquiry… which, based on the real-life public record, may or may not have made much of a difference in the end. Not the kind of movie that necessarily makes a person feel good about the human race, in other words, but definitely the type of role that can bring out the best in a performer — and according to critics, Weisz delivered. As Bob Mondello wrote for NPR, “It’s a thriller sobering enough in its graphic portrayal of forced violence against women that it would be tough to watch if not for the controlled fury Weisz brings to her performance as a down-to-earth avenging angel.”

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The Deep Blue Sea (2011) 80%

Director Terence Davies drew from distinguished source material when he decided to adapt Terence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea — and he honored it by rounding up an outstanding cast, led by Rachel Weisz as a woman drifting through a comfortable yet passionless marriage and Tom Hiddleston as an ex-Royal Air Force pilot whose thrill-seeking streak awakens her to a life of passion. The moral of the story might seem somewhat retrograde to modern viewers, but it remains heartbreakingly well-written and performed; the end result, as Jeannette Catsoulis wrote for NPR, is “A shimmering exploration of romantic obsession and the tension between fitting in and flying free.”

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The Constant Gardener (2005) 84%

There’s no political thriller quite like a John le Carré political thriller, and The Constant Gardener presents Oscar-winning proof. Weisz took home a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her work in the role of Tessa Abbott-Quayle, a woman whose marriage to a British diplomat stationed in Kenya (Ralph Fiennes) comes to a sudden and tragic end — sparking an investigation that reveals startling truths about the nature of their relationship and who she really was. “This is not a movie that will shock you or thrill you or rock your world,” wrote Tom Long for the Detroit News. “Instead, it will move you, it will stick with you, it will give you pause and affect you in ways not easily described — which is something the best films always do.”

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The Lobster (2015) 87%

We’ve all seen countless couples fall in love onscreen, and at this point, it takes a truly special movie to raise the stakes for a relationship in any memorably meaningful way. Enter Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, which imagines a weirdly dystopian world in which lonely hearts congregate at a hotel for 45 days to find a match — and if they don’t find one, they’re magically turned into the animal of their choice. Our protagonist (Colin Farrell) chooses a lobster, and for a time, it looks like he might just end up gaining a pair of claws and spending the rest of his life in the sea; fortunately, his journey takes an unexpected turn involving a near-sighted woman (Weisz) who… well, we don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say you may never look at courtship rituals the same way. “The Lobster is a droll piece of work lashed with grim humor,” wrote Stephanie Zacharek for TIME. “For every moment that makes you laugh, there may be another that leaves you with your mouth hanging open.”

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Page Eight (2011) 93%

With this BBC-produced political thriller, Weisz found herself in some pretty stellar company: in addition to her own formidable gifts, the cast included Judy Davis, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Tom Hughes, and Bill Nighy — and it was written and directed by the playwright Sir David Hare, stepping behind the cameras for the first time since 1989’s Strapless. The plot revolves around an MI5 agent (Nighy) whose involvement with a Syrian-born activist (Weisz) dovetails with his efforts to undermine a Prime Minister (Fiennes) who’s been in collusion with another agent (Davis) — vintage British espionage fare, in other words, especially when you factor in a subplot involving classified information surrounding Weisz’s brother’s death. “I’d happily watch this cast read the phone book,” wrote Maureen Ryan for the Huffington Post. “But fortunately the script by David Hare (who also directed) is intelligent, engaging and generally makes good use of this singular cast’s talents.”

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About a Boy (2002) 93%

What could be better than whiling away your hours in unearned leisure, cashing royalty checks for a song you didn’t even have to write, and idly pursuing a life of serial monogamy? On the evidence of About a Boy, we’d have to answer “dating Rachel Weisz,” because that’s what ultimately cures independently wealthy layabout Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) of his terminal lack of ambition — but only, of course, after he’s lured out of his complacent solitude by an unexpected friendship with a 12-year-old boy (Nicholas Hoult) and his mom (Toni Collette). “Mainstream comedies,” argued David Edelstein for Slate, “should all be this funny and tender and deftly performed.”

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It’s a varied pick of films in the UK cinemas this week; we have Sir Ridley Scott‘s latest collaboration with Russell Crowe, the CIA thriller, Body Of Lies. Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo star in dystopian sci-fi flick, Blindness. An animated documentary dealing with the Lebanon war of 1982 – Waltz With Bashir — twirls onto our screens following critical acclaim in Cannes. And the US remake of Spanish horror [Rec], Quarantine, completes the motley lineup. But what did the British critics have to say?

Sir Ridley Scott’s continuing partnership with his Russell Crowe bears its latest offering with the Middle Eastern thriller Body Of Lies. Such a talented director and leading man, plus the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and British Mark Strong also on screen, this was surely a recipe for success? At a Rotten 50% on the Tomatometer however, it looks like this recipe may have been overcooked, with many critics deriding Scott for his over-direction, tedious scripting and over reliance on bombastic pyrotechnics. There were, however, plaudits for the actors, with Mark Strong being praised for his portrayal of Hani Salaam – head of the Jordanian secret service – and for Crowe and DiCaprio who put in ever dependable performances in a film which was nonetheless never anything more than a soulless and generic thriller.

Fernando Meirelles, the director of science-fiction thriller Blindness, has a decent track record so far, with directorial debut, City Of God at 93% and The Constant Gardener at 84% on the Tomatometer respectively, but does his latest effort make it a hat-trick of successes? At a dismal 41% on the Tomatometer, it would seem that Blindness has missed the target, with the film being described by critics as “a bit of a mess” (Derek Malcolm, Evening Standard) and “Rhubarbed Melodrama” (Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times). Its pretentiousness, didactic pomposity, awful score and gloopily unnecessary voiceover all aroused critics ire. As with many book adaptations, it seems the film doesn’t match up to the standard of the source material.

Waltz With Bashir meanwhile is an entry into that very rarest of genres; The animated documentary. Piecing together director Ari Folman’s and various eyewitness accounts of the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the 1982 Lebanon war using hallucinatory and mesmerising animation, Waltz With Bashir is like no other film, and was a strong contender for this years Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. That critical buzz has continued, and at a very healthy 94% on the Tomatometer, nearly all the critics agreed that Waltz With Bashir is a distinctive, pioneering and utterly memorable movie with Sukhdev Sandhu of the Daily Telegraph calling it “A blistering, powerful work”.

Spanish horror [Rec] was a Blair Witch-esque hand-held camera zombie flick, released in the UK back in February earlier this year, which stands at 94%. Quarantine is the US remake – which much surely be a record for turnaround time for a Hollywood adaptation – but does the yank counterpart stand up to it’s Spanish cousin? At a healthy 63% on the Tomatometer, most critics enjoyed the competent remake, but felt that it was kind of little unnecessary, with very little to warrant the reboot. Simon Crook of Empire Magazine summed it up by saying “As a visceral, camera-shuddery ride into foamy-mouthed zombie hell, it’s efficient enough – but if you’ve already seen [Rec], steer clear…”

Quote of the Week

“Visually the film is so undistinguished it may be time for the maker of Blade Runner to be subjected to that film’s Voigt-Kampff test, to determine whether the current owner of the name “Ridley Scott” is real or a replicant.”

Body Of Lies. Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times.

Imagine what it might be like if you needed surgery.
 You’re more than a little nervous about the whole idea.  In fact when you think
about it, you’ll admit you’re frankly terrified by the whole idea.  What if
something goes wrong?  What if the doctors make a mistake?  And what if you
don’t wake up after the surgery?   Or worse yet, what if you wake up during
the procedure?

One of the scarier stories about medical mishaps in the
last few years is about a phenomenon called “anesthetic awareness.” Patients
talk about actually being awake and aware throughout an entire procedure and
feeling every sensation that the anesthetic is supposed to suppress, while being
completely unable to move or communicate with the doctors.  That’s the basic
premise of this week’s Awake,
starring
Hayden Christensen
and
Jessica Alba
A man with a heart problem (Christensen) goes in for a transplant, but wakes up
during the procedure, yet totally unable to move.  And as if that wasn’t bad
enough, he hears his own doctor discussing plans to kill him.  Talk about adding
insult to injury.

Considering the level of trust that we as a society put in
healthcare professionals, the concept of putting a doctor in a malicious light
can be a very effective tool for a thriller.  Some folks are pretty squeamish
about needles and scalpels anyway, and when those tools are used to
intentionally inflict pain, it can be horrific. Some filmmakers have gone for
the easy scare with throwaway slashers like
Dr. Giggles
(17
percent) and The
Dentist
(0 percent), while even the
Saws
have some scary
medical overtones.  And then there’s that horrific scene in
Marathon Man
(77
percent), which did for dentists what Jaws did for trips to the beach. 

But some films, like
Coma
,
Dirty Pretty
Things
, and
The Constant
Gardener
take the very concept of health care, pick it apart, and play
with our feelings of trust and hope.  That can be just as disturbing as anything
you’ll see in the goriest slasher films.

1978’s
Coma
(75 percent) is
one of
Michael Crichton
‘s earliest directing efforts.  Fresh off the success of
Westworld
, Crichton
used his own experience as a doctor to adapt Robin Cook’s novel about a dark
conspiracy in a Boston hospital. 
Genevieve
Bujold
stars as a young resident who gets a little too curious about why
so many patients are coming out of surgery in comas.  Unfortunately, it looks
like every other doctor on staff (Michael
Douglas
,
Richard Widmark
, and
Rip Torn) may be
in on the plot, and the film gets increasingly more paranoid as time goes by. 
Bujold eventually discovers that the hospital is in the business of harvesting
organs from certain patients, and she narrowly avoids losing her own.


Michael Crichton’s Coma



Dirty Pretty
Things
(94 percent) isn’t so much about a doctor who is evil, so
much as it’s about a doctor who may have to do evil things. 
Chiwetel
Ejiofor
plays Okwe, a Nigerian doctor who has illegally immigrated to
London.  He can’t practice in England because of his status, so he works a
variety of menial jobs to survive, and treats other illegal immigrants for extra
money.  While working as a hotel porter, he discovers a human heart, and his
quest to discover where it came from leads him to a dirty business of human
organs being traded for immigration papers, all while trying to stay out of
sight of immigration authorities.  It’s a frightening look at what it must be
like to live between the cracks of society, and how even someone with Okwe’s
training and morals is driven to extremes in order to survive.


Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou in Dirty Pretty Things

In
The Constant
Gardener
(84 percent)
Ralph Fiennes
stars as a low-level British bureaucrat whose wife (Rachel
Weisz
) was killed on a mercy mission in Africa.  As Fiennes investigates, it
at first seems like his wife may have been having an affair, but then he
discovers that she had been investigating the activities of a large,
multinational drug company.  Details of illegal testing, conspiracy and
government corruption come to light, and we learn that the businesses that make
medicine can be just as ruthless as any third world warlord.


A scene from The Constant Gardener

The 27-year-old actor will be playing the husband to 36-year-old Rachel Weisz. They’ll be playing the parents of a (dead) 14-year-old girl in the Peter Jackson pic.

Odd math, I know. Then again, Gosling’s a damn fine actor so I’ve no doubt he can pull off "mid-30s" without too much effort. The signing of Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling ("Half Nelson") and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") adds some instant class to Jackson‘s long-time passion project. His adaptation of Alice Sebold’s "The Lovely Bones" will begin production in October. The plan is to shoot in Pennsylvania and (of course) New Zealand.

According to Variety, the "story revolves around a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family — and her killer — from heaven. Girl must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal." Now I have to decide if I want to read the book before or after I see the movie.

Ryan Gosling’s other films include "Fracture," "Stay," "The Notebook," and "The Believer."

Source: Variety

Universal looks to score its first number one hit in nearly a year this weekend with the new Steve Carell comedy "Evan Almighty" which hits the multiplexes on Friday targeting a broad family audience.

Reaching out to adult moviegoers are MGM with the John Cusack chiller "1408" and Paramount Vantage with the Angelina Jolie starrer "A Mighty Heart." Overall, the marketplace could slow down a bit this weekend before another wave of high-profile summer blockbusters arrives towards the end of June.

The sixth consecutive sequel to open at number one has a different formula up its sleeve. "Evan Almighty" loses Jim Carrey from "Bruce Almighty," drops the rating from PG-13 to PG, and shifts the plot over to a Biblical story while courting family audiences. Michael Bay isn’t the only one with a transformer at the box office this summer. Universal’s big-budget comedy offering should easily top the charts, however the financial picture will be very different. Steve Carell, whose starpower has blossomed since the 2003’s "Bruce," takes over as the lead playing a TV anchorman-turned-congressman who is told by God to build an ark because a mighty flood is coming. Morgan Freeman reprises his supporting role as the big G.

On a budget rumored to have ballooned to $175M thanks to extensive special effects and overages, "Evan Almighty" stands as one of the priciest comedies ever. The loss of Jim Carrey means it has almost no chance of reaching the $68M three-day opening weekend gross of "Bruce" from four years ago when it shocked the film industry by kicking "The Matrix Reloaded" out of the top spot in only its second frame. It reached a domestic haul of $242.8M. "Evan Almighty" could conceivably gross half the amount of "Bruce," while costing twice as much to produce. Does that mean it will lose money? Not necessarily. "Evan" would love nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of "Night at the Museum," another effects-driven comedy led by a popular comedian aimed at families, which has grossed over $570M worldwide. If it can tap into that crowd, then it will be a divine road ahead.

"Evan"’s trim running time of about 90 minutes will help since multiplexes can schedule numerous showtimes per day. Competition will come from current chart-topper "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," another action-comedy sequel tamed down to a PG to cater to eight-year-old boys on summer vacation. Teens and young adults who have to wait until the fall to see new episodes of Carell’s "The Office" may line up for "Evan" and give it a try, despite the negative reviews. There’s not much else exciting that demo right now. And given its themes, moviegoers in the Bible Belt may contribute some solid sales on opening weekend as the studio is wisely targeting churches in its marketing outreach. Opening in 3,602 theaters, "Evan Almighty" could premiere to about $40M this weekend.


"Evan Almighty"

John Cusack hopes to avoid the current horror curse at the box office with his new psychological thriller "1408." The MGM release finds the actor playing a writer who checks into a haunted hotel room that many have died in. Samuel L. Jackson co-stars in the PG-13 pic. Scary movies have been slaughtered at the cash registers lately. Even star-driven adult thrillers have struggled as witnessed by openings of $11.2M for "Perfect Stranger" starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, $10M for Hilary Swank‘s "The Reaping," $10M for Kevin Costner‘s "Mr. Brooks," and $7.6M for Luke Wilson‘s hotel-themed "Vacancy." Managing to surge a bit higher were Sandra Bullock‘s "Premonition" with $17.6M and Jim Carrey’s "The Number 23" with $14.6M. "1408" may not scare up that much business given consumer apathy towards fright flicks right now. Plus Cusack and Jackson are not really known for packing them in on opening weekend unless there are bigger stars present. Checking into 2,678 theaters, "1408" might take in about $12M this weekend.


John Cusack in "1408"

Angelina Jolie headlines this weekend’s serious offering for adult audiences, "A Mighty Heart." Directed by Michael Winterbottom ("The Road to Guantanamo," "Welcome to Sarajevo"), the R-rated film finds the Oscar-winning actress playing Mariane Pearl, wife of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and documents her struggle to find her kidnapped husband in Pakistan. In a summer of sequels and effects-driven action pictures for kids on vacation, Paramount Vantage is going after the adults that are often neglected at this time of year. Reviews for "Heart" have been strong with Jolie already earning kudos buzz and the film should appeal to the same audiences that came out for other acclaimed political thrillers like "United 93" ($11.5M, $6,395 average), "The Constant Gardener" ($8.7M, $6,444), and "Syriana" ($11.7M, $6,699). Competition will come from "Ocean’s Thirteen" and "Knocked Up" which have both been playing well with the 30-plus crowd. Debuting in about 1,350 theaters, "A Mighty Heart" might open in the vicinity of $7M.


Angelina Jolie in "A Mighty Heart"

Last weekend, Fox’s "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" opened at the top and was just one of six sequels to land in the top ten. Its 2005 predecessor tumbled 59% in its second weekend thanks to poor word-of-mouth and intense competition from newcomers "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Wedding Crashers" which stole over $90M worth of ticket sales away from holdover pics. "Silver Surfer" has been greeted with marginally better responses and will not face as much competition from the incoming class this weekend, although "Evan Almighty" will be gunning for that PG-loving family crowd. A drop of 55% would give the new "Fantastic Four" saga around $25M for the frame and a ten-day cume of $103M.

"Ocean’s Thirteen" will see some of its adult audience get pulled away by the weekend’s two new mature-skewing flicks. A 40% decline will leave the caper sequel with roughly $12M pushing the total to $91M after 17 days for Warner Bros. Universal’s comedy sensation "Knocked Up" will smash through the $100M mark this weekend, probably on Friday. Look for a 30% fall to around $10M boosting the cume to $108M.

LAST YEAR: Adam Sandler scored his usual table at the top spot with his comedy "Click" which bowed to $40M for Sony on its way to $137.3M domestically and over $235M worldwide. The Disney/Pixar toon "Cars" dropped to the runnerup spot but dipped only 31% to $23.3M. Sophomores "Nacho Libre" and "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" were both hit hard and tumbled by more than 50% each to $12.7M and $9.8M, respectively. Focus launched the Tyrese Gibson actioner "Waist Deep" to a solid $9.4M from just over 1,000 theaters on its way to $21.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Remember when everyone was wondering why Rachel Weisz declined to be in the third "Mummy" movie? Here’s why.

Peter Jackson‘s been planning to turn Alice Sebold’s "The Lovely Bones" into a movie for quite some time now, and it looks like he’s going to start shooting in October. Variety reports that Oscar winner Rachel Weisz has signed on to star in the DreamWorks / Paramount production.

Ms. Weisz is best known for her work in "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns," but she did win that Oscar for "The Constant Gardener." She can also be seen in "Enemy at the Gates," "About a Boy," "Constantine," and "The Fountain."

Source: Variety

Blood will flow and screams will be deafening at North American multiplexes this weekend when the horror sequel "Saw III" buzzes its way into theaters. While there will be no fight for the number one spot, the rest of the top ten will see new films and holdovers scrambling for high positions.

The political thriller "Catch a Fire" opens on Friday in moderate national release and the comedy "Running with Scissors" expands into major markets after an impressive debut in limited release last weekend. Meanwhile, star-driven pics "The Prestige" and "The Departed" will try to remain popular choices with adult moviegoers.

If it’s Halloween, it must be "Saw." That’s the tagline that Lionsgate hopes will keep horror fans coming back for a third helping of pain for the newest chapter in its highly profitable fright franchise, "Saw III." The R-rated film finds Jigsaw returning to terrorize another set of young people. Once again, the formula of no stars plus extreme brutality unleashing its fury on the weekend before the pumpkin holiday remains intact. Now a major player in the horror genre, Lionsgate opened its first "Saw" in 2004 to the tune of $18.3M and grew its audience over the following year, especially with DVD, to propel the sequel to a $31.7M bow. Over the last 15 months, no other R-rated film has opened better. Now, a marketplace without many exciting choices for the 17-30 age group will embrace a film, though familiar, that appeals to young adults.


Another unfortunate dude opens "Saw III."

This month has already seen a pair of horror franchise pics open weaker than their predecessors which bowed in mid-October of recent years. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" debuted to $18.5M, down 34% from the $28.1M of 2003’s "Massacre," and "The Grudge 2" launched with $20.8M, a steep 47% less than the Gellar original. But "Saw III" is in a different situation. "Beginning" was a prequel three years later with not much new to offer while "Grudge 2" was no longer a star vehicle. "Saw III" promises more of what its fans want – brutality, gore, and torture – so it stands on almost equal footing when compared to the last installment. The fan base has probably not grown much in the last twelve months and some might even drop out thinking it’s just the same offering yet again. But with competing fright flicks fading fast, "Saw III" will basically be the only horror film in town for those getting ready for Halloween. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "Saw III" might cut up around $30M.

Tim Robbins plays an elite South African leader and Derek Luke stars as an oppressed everyman in the apartheid drama "Catch a Fire." Directed by Phillip Noyce ("Patriot Games, "Clear and Present Danger"), the PG-13 political thriller tells the true story of a man captured and tortured by his government, only to become a radical freedom fighter for his people. Focus is likely to attract an audience similar to the one it saw last fall with another African-set political pic, "The Constant Gardener." The Ralph FiennesRachel Weisz film boasted a similar level of starpower and screens when it bowed to $8.7M over three days from 1,346 locations for a solid $6,444 average.


Derek Luke in the inspirational "Catch a Fire."

Reviews for "Fire" have been generally positive, but it will not be an easy sell at the box office. Robbins is the top star here and his track record selling tickets is spotty when it comes to films where he is the solo anchor. Plus the marketplace is filled with pictures targeting mature adults like "The Departed," "The Prestige," and "Flags of Our Fathers" so a crowded field will make it tough for "Fire." Using the ‘based on a true story’ angle in the marketing is always a helpful thing and Focus will soon see how much mileage it can get from it. Attacking 1,305 locations, "Catch a Fire" might capture about $6M over the Friday-to-Sunday session.

Annette Bening‘s dysfunctional family pic "Running with Scissors" enjoyed a strong platform debut last weekend with a scorching $28,263 average from only six sites. This Friday, Sony hopes to build on its bow by expanding the R-rated film into 586 theaters across North America. Critics agree that "Scissors" is not the next "Little Miss Sunshine." Reviews have been unflattering which will limit the commercial potential of a film that will mostly play to upscale adult audiences. A weekend take of around $3M could result diluting the per-theater average down to the neighborhood of $5,000.


Annette Bening and Brian Cox in "Running With Scissors."

Arthouses continue to get more crowded with fall films hoping for critical buzz and possible awards attention. Paramount Vantage packs the most starpower with its Brad PittCate Blanchett drama "Babel" which took home Best Director honors at Cannes this year for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Amores Perros," "21 Grams"). The R-rated tale trots across the globe from Morocco to Mexico to Japan with four interweaving stories about people from around the world who have no idea how connected their lives are. "Babel" opens in just six locations in New York and Los Angeles, most of them major multiplexes, and expands nationally in November. Reviews have been solid.


Brad Pitt, in the oscar-buzz grabber "Babel."

With Election Day around the corner, President George W. Bush stars in two documentaries that will try to stir up some controversy in order to get audiences running to their local theater. Newmarket Films releases "Death of a President," a docudrama about the fictional assassination of Bush in October 2007 and its aftermath. The R-rated whodunit was one of the hottest films at the Toronto Film Festival last month and hopes to capitalize on its buzz when it invades over 100 theaters this Friday. Also trying to wage a Red State vs. Blue State rivalry is "Shut Up & Sing" which examines the hardships that The Dixie Chicks faced recording their new album after their public outcry against the current Commander-in-Chief. The Weinstein Company opens the film in New York and Los Angeles on Friday before expanding to much of the country on November 10.


"D.O.A.P"

Among holdovers, the period thriller "The Prestige" and the mob drama "The Departed" should remain popular contenders in the top five. "Saw III" should not detract from either pic too much and the frame’s other new films will not play wide enough to offer significant competition in the rankings. "Prestige" swiped the top spot last weekend and is well-liked by moviegoers. A 40% drop would give Buena Vista about $9M and a ten-day total of $28M. "The Departed" has been holding up superbly so another 30% dip would leave Warner Bros. with around $9.5M which could be good enough for a third consecutive weekend at number two. The cume would rise to $90M.

LAST YEAR: Doing what its predecessor couldn’t do, "Saw II" opened triumphantly at number one and grossed a sturdy $31.7M for Lionsgate on its way to $87M continuing its most popular horror franchise. Sony countered with its family friendly adventure sequel "The Legend of Zorro" which debuted in second place with a decent $16.3M. The pricey Antonio BanderasCatherine Zeta-Jones pic went on to reach just $45.4M domestically. Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman quietly bowed in third with the comedy "Prime" which opened to $6.2M from less than 2,000 theaters. Universal found its way to a $22.8M final. The horse flick "Dreamer" held up well in its second jump taking in $6.1M while fellow kidpic "Wallace & Gromit" rounded out the top five with $4.3M in its fourth weekend. The fourth new wide release of the frame, Nicolas Cage‘s "The Weather Man," got rained out collecting a mere $4.2M leading to a wimpy $12.5M finish.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

After welcoming in four new wide releases per week for seven straight weekends, the North American box office slows it down a bit on Friday with only one saturation release and a pair of moderate national bows.

Sony courts the teen horror crowd with its supernatural thriller "The Covenant." Meanwhile, Focus targets mature adults with the crime thriller "Hollywoodland" and The Weinstein Co. goes after the action audience with the martial arts pic "The Protector." With a slate of Labor Day weekend pics coming off of their lukewarm holiday performances, the overall marketplace is sure to be sluggish and could slump to its lowest point of the year.

Four prep school dudes learn of their ancestral powers and stir up some evil in the new teen chiller "The Covenant." Sort of a "Lost Boys" for today’s youth, the PG-13 film will target the horror audience as well as the back-to-school date crowd. Renny Harlin, who has seen highs with "Die Hard 2" and lows with "Cutthroat Island," directs. "Covenant" should play primarily to teens and young adults and Sony has a strong track record when it comes to attracting that crowd with these kinds of films. Last fall, the studio scored a big hit with "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" which bowed this very weekend with $30.1M, but saw more modest results with "The Fog" which opened in October with $11.8M. Each one still hit the top of the charts. The marketing push on "Covenant" has not been too fierce so a debut closer to "Fog’s" is likely. Competition for teens is not very strong at the moment so many should pick this for their weekend moviegoing choice. Attacking 2,681 theaters, "The Covenant" could scare up around $11M in ticket sales this weekend.


More teen-horror hijinks in "The Covenant"

Academy Award winner Adrien Brody plays a not-so-super sleuth in the 1950s who investigates the suicide death of Superman actor George Reeves in the new crime thriller "Hollywoodland." The R-rated Focus release also stars Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, and Bob Hoskins. After last year’s dominance at the Oscars by numerous indie flicks, "Hollywoodland" tries to get the awards season started early by getting a headstart over some of the fall’s other promising non-studio films. The casting of the "Gigli" star as the Man of Steel, however, might diminish its chances a bit as many industry voters won’t be able to help but snicker when the daredevil himself comes on screen. Mature adults will be the target audience and women might outnumber the guys by a small margin. The film’s subject matter will certainly be intriguing for film industry folks, but it will be a tougher sell to mainstream moviegoers. "Hollywoodland" will have to reach its audience in a hurry as parent company Universal will target the exact same crowd with its ensemble-driven period crime mystery "The Black Dahlia" a week later. Debuting in moderate national release in 1,548 theaters, "Hollywoodland" might capture about $8M this weekend.


Adrien Brody gets rough while investigating the death of tv’s Superman

The "Quentin Tarantino Presents" marketing technique is back once again with the Thai martial arts pic "The Protector" starring Tony Jaa. The R-rated film from The Weinstein Co. finds the acrobatic action star seeking revenge on those who wronged his people. Jaa’s "Ong Bak" made a moderate splash at the North American box office last year when it opened to $1.3M from 387 theaters for a mild $3,449 average on its way to a $4.6M domestic take. A year and a half later, more American action fans know of Jaa, though he’s still far from a sizable draw. Two years ago, the Weinsteins saw stellar results when using the "Pulp Fiction" director’s
name in the marketing of Jet Li‘s "Hero" which ended up topping the box office for two straight weeks on its way to a $53.6M gross. Lionsgate also used the QT tactic to drive in business for its horror pic "Hostel" last January which also bowed in the top spot. "Protector" will appeal mostly to young men who love martial arts and crossover to other groups is unlikely. The second weekend of "Crank" will draw upon many of the same folks so competition will be tough. Fighting its way into around 1,400 theaters, "The Protector" might kick up about $6M this weekend.


Tony Jaa, doing his own stunts, in "The Protector"

More independent films open in New York on Friday hoping to expand further around the country in coming weeks. Polychrome Pictures debuts the Asian American pic "Red Doors" in a pair of Manhattan locations. The dysfunctional family pic won the top prize at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Film Philos goes into one solo house with the coffee cart vendor drama "Man Push Cart" which world premiered at Sundance last winter.

"Invincible‘s" undefeated season should come to an end this weekend as the Disney sports drama enters its third outing. A 40% decline would see the Mark Wahlberg pic gross around $7M pushing the 17-day cume to $47M. After a second place bow over the weekend, the Lionsgate actioner "Crank" pumped itself up to the top spot on Tuesday with solid midweek business. Jason Statham saw his "Transporter 2" fall 55% a year ago when it came off of its Labor Day debut. "Crank" could see a slightly smaller drop. A 50% tumble would give the poison pic roughly $5M for the sophomore frame and a ten-day sum of $20M.

Nicolas Cage‘s "The Wicker Man" did not make too much of a dent at the box office last weekend. A 45% drop to around $5M seems likely giving Warner Bros. only $19M in ten days. Indie sensation "Little Miss Sunshine" should step back a bit after a strong Labor Day frame and could slide 30% to $5M as well. That would lift the cume for the year’s most recommended film to $42M making it the fifth biggest hit in company history for Fox Searchlight after "Sideways" ($71.5M), "The Full Monty" ($45.9M), "28 Days Later" ($45.1M), and "Napoleon Dynamite" ($44.5M). In another week, it will vault to number two for the Fox subsidiary.

LAST YEAR: Sony scored a huge surprise winner with the suspense thriller "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" which bowed bigger than expected with a hefty $30.1M grossing more than the next five films combined. The fright flick went on to scare up a sturdy $75.1M. Comedy sensation "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" followed in second with $7.7M in its fourth date while "Transporter 2" fell from first to third with $7.4M. The political drama "The Constant Gardener" and the airline thriller "Red Eye" rounded out the top five with $4.7M and $4.5M, respectively. Samuel L. Jackson debuted poorly in sixth with his action-comedy "The Man" which took in a weak $4.1M on its way to just $8.3M for New Line.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The summer movie season comes to an official end with the Labor Day holiday weekend unleashing three new releases plus the national expansion of a fourth.

Lionsgate offers the action crowd "Crank," Warner Bros. provides the suspense thriller "The Wicker Man," Sony takes a shot with the basketball drama "Crossover," and Yari Film Group goes nationwide with its period thriller "The Illusionist." Each is hoping that current champ "Invincible" will fumble the ball. The summer-ending frame is often a time when moviegoers catch up on hit films they haven’t seen yet so notable holdovers could see their four-day grosses grow beyond their three-day takes from last weekend. Overall, the marketplace remains overcrowded with too many films fighting to get a slice of the box office pie.

British action star Jason Statham attacks the U.S. for the second Labor Day weekend in a row with his latest pic "Crank." Co-starring Amy Smart, the Lionsgate release sees the actor playing a poisoned hitman who must keep his adrenaline up in order to stay alive. Unlike his PG-13 "Transporter" flicks, "Crank" carries a more restrictive R rating which could narrow its target audience. It’s been a tough summer for R-rated action films with movies like "Snakes on a Plane" and "Miami Vice" both underperforming. But if there’s any distributor who can successfully target young adult males with these types of films with intriguing concepts, it’s the "Saw" studio.


Jason Statham showing off his dramatic range

"Snakes" was the only pure action film in the top ten last weekend so competition for "Crank" may not be too fierce. Statham has seen his starpower grow in the last couple of years and that might benefit his latest pic too. Still, the marquees are jam packed with choices this weekend so it will be tough to fight off other films and convince moviegoers that their time and money should be best spent here. A year ago this weekend, "Transporter 2" opened at number one with a four-day tally of $20.1M. However, that Fox pic was a sequel, had a less restrictive rating, and bowed in 900 more theaters. Given "Crank’s" debut in about 2,400 locations, it could end up with around $13M over the long Friday-to-Monday period.

With his twin towers drama still in the top ten, Nicolas Cage hits the big screen for the second time in a month with the psychological thriller "The Wicker Man." The PG-13 film stars the Oscar-winning actor as a cop investigating a cult while looking for a missing girl. Labor Day weekend has been a good time for creepy thrillers, especially for ones that appeal to high school and college students like the "Jeepers Creepers" pics. "Wicker Man’s" rating will help its cause, but whether it can excite teens will determine how big it can become. With a half-dozen production companies, six producers, and seven executive producers all involved, it’s hard to say if this is really director Neil LaBute‘s film. Warner Bros. has given "Wicker" a decent marketing push, but it has not become a must-see thriller. A marketplace flooded with pictures will provide plenty of competition for adults and this one will have to work extra hard to stand out in the crowd. Ending a disappointing summer for the studio, "The Wicker Man" bows in over 2,500 theaters and could scare up around $12M over the four-day period.


Nicolas Cage and Ellen Burstyn in "The Wicker Man"

Sony goes after the urban youth audience with its new basketball drama "Crossover" which finds two young streetballers competing in the world of underground hoops. The PG-13 film is getting a moderate release in 1,023 theaters which will limit its potential, however a solid per-theater average could result. Compared to reigning box office champ "Invincible," this new sports drama will attract a much more ethnic audience and should play primarily to teens and young adults. "Idlewild" will provide some competition for African American moviegoers, however the OutKast pic is playing to an older audience. With Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, and Wayne Brady heading up the cast, "Crossover" does not offer up much starpower. But it could be a short-term choice for the back-to-school crowd in urban markets. Over the Friday-to-Monday holiday span, "Crossover" might shoot up about $5M.


The first rule of underground streetball is…

After two weeks of strong results in limited release, the period mystery "The Illusionist" expands wide from 144 theaters to approximately 1,000 sites across North America. One of the summer’s best-reviewed films, the Edward NortonPaul Giamatti drama opened in 51 theaters with a powerful $18,195 average and widened on its second frame scoring a still-potent $12,745 average. Glowing praise from critics and solid word-of-mouth could help sell "The Illusionist" to moviegoers who would not ordinarily buy tickets to a film with these stars. Competition will be tough, though. For only the second time all year, ten films surpassed $5M last weekend and most are looking to remain relevant over the holiday session. "The Illusionist" could capture the same amount over four days this weekend pushing its cume to about $9M.


Those illusionists get all the chicks

More new movies enter into limited release on Friday. IFC Films unveils the documentary "This Film is Not Yet Rated" in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles. The unrated film (it was given an NC-17, but is going out with no official rating) explores the mystery behind the movie ratings system as determined by the Motion Picture Association of America. Writer/director Ed Burns returns to theaters as a private investigator searching for a missing woman in "Looking for Kitty." The R-rated drama is being released in one solo New York house by ThinkFilm.

Last weekend, Mark Wahlberg‘s football drama "Invincible" scored a number one opening and was the only film to attract more than $10M in ticket sales over the frame. Word of mouth has been good and the Disney release would like nothing more than to land another win over the holiday session. The four-day gross might see only a small drop from last weekend’s three-day bow. A decline to about $15M would give "Invincible" a total of $38M after 11 days.

Labor Day weekend has historically been a great time for hot late-summer indie films to reach out to broader audiences and "Little Miss Sunshine" hopes to be the latest one to capitalize on its buzz. Four-day increases over the previous three-day weekends in recent years have included 17% for "March of the Penguins" last year, 35% for "Garden State" in 2004, 80% for "Napoleon Dynamite" that same year, and a whopping 104% for "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" in 2002. That PG-rated blockbuster added about 300 theaters over the holiday frame while the R-rated "Sunshine" will only increase its current count of 1,430 by a hundred or so. The Fox Searchlight hit could charm about $9.5M from ticket buyers over the long weekend and boost its cume to $36M.

LAST YEAR Jason Statham ruled the Labor Day weekend box office with the number one opening of his action sequel "Transporter 2" which grossed $20.1M over four days. The Fox hit went on to collect $43.1M. The comedy sensation "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" slipped to second place with $16.5M over four days displaying another great hold in its third frame. Debuting in third with $11M was the thriller "The Constant Gardener" from Focus which went on to gross $33.6M and become a major awards contender. Rounding out the top five were the DreamWorks suspense flick "Red Eye" with $9.4M and Miramax’s adventure pic "The Brothers Grimm" with $9M. Two new films opened with weak results outside of the top ten. Miramax’s "Underclassman" bowed to $3.1M on its way to $5.7M while Warner Bros. took in just $1.2M for "A Sound of Thunder" leading to only a $1.9M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Big-budget spectacle-maker Roland Emmerich just began production on his "10,000 B.C." for Warner Bros. The large-scale old-school period piece will shoot mainly in South Africa and New Zealand.

"The epic adventure 10,000 B.C., directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) and starring Steven Strait (Sky High) and Camilla Belle (When A Stranger Calls) has begun production in New Zealand for Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Legendary Pictures. The announcement was made today by Jeff Robinov, President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures.

It was a time when man and beast were untamed and the mighty mammoth roamed the earth. A time when ideas and beliefs were born that forever shaped mankind. 10,000 B.C. follows a young hunter (Steven Strait) on his quest to lead an army across a vast desert, battling saber tooth tigers and prehistoric predators as he unearths a lost civilization and attempts to rescue the woman he loves (Camilla Belle) from an evil warlord determined to possess her.

A Centropolis Entertainment production of a Roland Emmerich film, 10,000 B.C. is directed by Roland Emmerich from a screenplay by Emmerich & Harald Kloser, and is produced by Michael Wimer (Welcome to America), Roland Emmerich and Mark Gordon (The Day After Tomorrow). The executive producers are Tom Karnowski (Everything is Illuminated), Harald Kloser, Thomas Tull (Superman Returns) and Bill Fay. The co-producer is Ossie von Richthofen (Welcome to America). The director of photography is Ueli Steiger (The Day After Tomorrow), and the production is designed by Jean Vincent Puzos (Lord of War). The film is being edited by Alex Berner (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). The composer is Harald Kloser (The Day After Tomorrow). Costumes will be designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux (The Constant Gardener).

10,000 B.C. will shoot on location in New Zealand, South Africa and Namibia and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company."

Horror author Dean Koontz might know how to spin a spooky yarn, but as far as his books’ cinematic cousins are concerned … yuck. (Try sitting through a triple feature of Watchers, Hideaway, and Phantoms, and then tell me I’m nuts.) But Focus Features and Random House seem pretty high on Koontz’s new book, the as-yet-unpublished The Husband, because they’re already starting on the big screen version.

Dean Koontz, the author whose every book is a multi-million copy bestseller in the U.S. and around the world, has sold his forthcoming novel The Husband to Focus Features and Random House Films for their new filmmaking partnership. James Schamus, President of Focus Features, part of NBC Universal, and Peter Gethers, President, Random House Films, a Random House, Inc. division, made the announcement today.

The Husband will be published on May 30th in hardcover in the U.S. and Canada by the Bantam Books imprint of Random House, Inc. The initial printing will be more than half a million copies. Development on the film version takes effect immediately.

Mr. Koontz’s new novel is the story of an ordinary working man whose love for his wife is put to a harrowing series of tests over a 60-hour period, beginning when his peaceful workday is shattered by a phone call from a stranger.

The author’s books have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide to date, with over 17 million sold each year. 44 of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers; 10 have reached the #1 position in hardcover, 14 in paperback. The Times has praised his writing as “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” Mr. Koontz is published in 38 languages; his German publisher is Heyne, an imprint of Verlagsgruppe Random House.

Mr. Koontz commented, “Because the people at Focus understand both story and subtext, they make narratively engaging, intelligent movies. Their creative but faithful adaptations of books into films have been remarkable. I am delighted to be working with James Schamus at Focus, with Peter Gethers at Random House Films, and with all their talented associates.”

Mr. Schamus said, “The Husband will be a major book event from Bantam, and the film version will be a major movie event from Focus. Dean Koontz has a written a wonderful, suspenseful novel, one which merits comparison to the best of Hitchcock; our goal is to create a film of the quality that we brought to our film version of John le Carré’s The Constant Gardener.”

Mr. Gethers added, “Dean Koontz is a master of writing about the necessity of lovc in a world that is all too often dominated by evil. In returning to that theme in The Husband, he has told a story that will make for a film equal parts touching and terrifying. We’re thrilled that Dean, who has such a longstanding relationship with Random House, Inc., is joining us in our new partnership with Focus Features.”

The Husband is the third Random House, Inc. title acquired by the joint venture. In the multi-year deal announced last November between the publisher and Focus Features, the companies will develop movies together and co-finance and co-produce a substantial slate of feature films for theatrical release, all based on books published by Random House imprints in North America and internationally. Random House Films and Focus jointly acquire film rights for the books and partner together on script development, director selection, all phases of production, and marketing and publicity. Films co-produced by Focus with Random House Films will be jointly owned, with Focus holding worldwide distribution and sales rights.

In February, the joint venture announced its first two projects. They are films to be adapted from The Attack, a contemporary Mideast-set novel by Yasmina Khadra to be published in May by Random House, Inc.’s Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group imprint Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in the U.S. and the Random House U.K. Group’s William Heinemann imprint in the U.K.; and the narrative nonfiction book Curveball, investigative reporter Bob Drogin’s look inside the advent of the Iraq war, due out from Random House in the fall of 2007.

Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (winner of 3 Academy Awards, including Best Director); Rian Johnson’s Brick, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival); Gaby Dellal’s On a Clear Day, starring Peter Mullan and Brenda Blethyn; Peter Cattaneo’s family film Opal Dream; the untitled film directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Tim Robbins and Derek Luke; Allen Coulter’s Hollywoodland, starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, and Ben Affleck; and Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov and Jim Lemley & Dana Ginsburg.

Focus Features (www.focusfeatures.com) is a motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company committed to bringing moviegoers the most original stories from the world’s most innovative filmmakers.

The British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) held their annual awards presentation on February 21st, and they managed to dole out some love for an interesting variety of films and filmmakers — most of which have been on the receiving end of other awards already, but they’re good choices anyway, if it’s me you’re asking.

Best FilmBrokeback Mountain

The Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year — Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in their First Feature Film
Joe Wright, Pride & Prejudice

The David Lean Award for Achievement in DirectionAng Lee, Brokeback Mountain

Original ScreenplayPaul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Crash

Adapted ScreenplayLarry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain

Film Not in the English LanguageThe Beat That My Heart Skipped

Actor in a Leading RolePhilip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Actress in a Leading RoleReese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Actor in a Supporting RoleJake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain

Actress in a Supporting Role
Thandie Newton, Crash

The Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music
John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha

Cinematography
Dion Beebe, Memoirs of a Geisha

EditingClaire Simpson, The Consant Gardener

Production DesignStuart Craig, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Costume DesignColleen Atwood, Memoirs of a Geisha

Sound
— Walk the Line

Achievement in Special Visual EffectsKing Kong

Make-up & HairThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Short Animation Film — Fallen Art

Short Film — Antonio’s Breakfast

The Orange Rising Star AwardJames McAvoy

BAFTA is a charity with principal objects to promote and advance education through its events and to cultivate and improve public taste in the film, television and games industries. Its principal activities are the staging of UK and international awards ceremonies, special tribute evenings and an ever-expanding events and education programme. BAFTA has approximately 6,500 members worldwide.

Like most pathetic movie geeks, I was up at the crack of dawn (ok, 8:30am eastern time) to see how my nomination prediction ballot would measure up. (I was perfect on all 20 acting nods and all 10 screenwriting nods, but I erroneously predicted that “Walk the Line” would get nominated over “Capote” for Best Picture, and I picked Croneberg for director over Benett Miller.) Anyhow, here are the nominations for us to rant and rave about for the next five weeks…

BEST PICTURE
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Crash
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Munich

BEST DIRECTOR
George Clooney – Good Night, and Good Luck.
Paul Haggis – Crash
Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller – Capote
Steven Spielberg – Munich

BEST ACTOR

Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
Terrence HowardHustle & Flow
Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin PhoenixWalk the Line
David Strathairn – Good Night, and Good Luck.

BEST ACTRESS
Judi DenchMrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity HuffmanTransamerica
Keira KnightleyPride & Prejudice
Charlize TheronNorth Country
Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Matt Dillon – Crash
George Clooney – Syriana
Paul GiamattiCinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal – Brokeback Mountain
William HurtA History of Violence

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy AdamsJunebug
Catherine Keener – Capote
Frances McDormand – North Country
Rachel WeiszThe Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Match PointWoody Allen
The Squid & the WhaleNoah Baumbach
Good Night, and Good Luck. – George Clooney & Grant Heslov
Syriana – Stephen Gaghan
Crash – Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Constant Gardener – Jeffrey Caine
Capote – Dan Futterman
Munich – Tony Kushner & Eric Roth
Brokeback Mountain – Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
A History of Violence – Josh Olson

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Don’t Tell (La Bestia nel Cuore) – Italy
Joyeux Noel – France
Paradise Now – Palestine
Sophie Scholl – Germany
Tsotsi – South Africa

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Darwin’s Nightmare
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
March of the Penguins
Murderball
Street Fight

ANIMATED FILM
Corpse Bride
Howl’s Moving Casle
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

ART DIRECTION

Good Night, and Good Luck.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Batman Begins
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World

COSTUME DESIGN

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
Walk the Line

FILM EDITING

Cinderella Man
The Constant Gardener
Crash
Munich
Walk the Line

MAKEUP
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Cinderella Man
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

SCORE

Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Memoirs of a Geisha
Munich
Pride & Prejudice

SONG
“In The Deep” – Crash
“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” – Hustle & Flow
“Travelin’ Thru” – Transamerica

SOUND EDITING

King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
War of the Worlds

SOUND MIXING

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
Walk the Line
War of the Worlds

VISUAL EFFECTS
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
King Kong
War of the Worlds

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of The Bang Bang Club
God Sleeps in Rwanda
The Mushroom Club
A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Ausreisser (The Runaway)
Cashback
The Last Farm
Our Time Is Up
Six Shooter

ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Badgered
The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello
9
One Man Band

I hate to sound like a geek (actually, no I don’t), but how was Episode III not nominated for best FX? And would it have been so hard for the Academy to throw some small amount of love towards Sin City?

And how the hell was Serenity not nominated for Best Picture???

The Chicago Film Critics Group announced their nominees just before New Years’ Eve, and they reconvened this week to vote on their year-end favorites. Also, the Iowa Film Critics chimed in with their picks as well. Why not? Iowa has film critics, too!

Chicago Film Critics

Best Picture
Crash

Best Foreign Language Film
Cache

Best Director
David CronenbergA History of Violence

Best Screenplay
Crash — Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco

Best Actor
Philip Seymour HoffmanCapote

Best Actress
Joan AllenThe Upside of Anger

Best Supporting Actor
Mickey RourkeSin City

Best Supporting Actress
Maria Bello — A History of Violence

Best Cinematography
Rodrigo PrietoBrokeback Mountain

Best Original Score
Gustavo Santaolalla — Brokeback Mountain

Best Documentary
Grizzly Man

Most Promising Performer
Miranda JulyMe and You and Everyone We Know

Most Promising Director
Bennett Miller – Capote

Iowa Film Critics

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain

Best Director
Ang Lee — Brokeback Mountain

Best Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman — Capote

Best Actress
Joan Allen — The Upside of Anger

Best Supporting Actor
Paul GiamattiCinderella Man

Best Supporting Actress
Rachel WeiszThe Constant Gardener

The Best Movie Yet to Open in Iowa
Match Point

As always, thanks to Movie City News for keeping all the lists so darn organized.

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