2016 Oscars

Soundtrack Scene: Sia Says Hello to The Neon Demon

siaA photo of Sia (via Celebuzz)

In addition to her five Grammy nominations, alternative songstress-turned-pop chanteuse Sia has landed two Golden Globe nominations for songs she’s contributed to films. However, the motion-picture academy has yet to recognize her work. Will 2016 be the year that changes?

While the vocal powerhouse behind “Chandelier” and “Breathe Me” co-wrote “Try Everything” for Disney’s recent masterpiece Zootopia – no, it’s not too early to say that – something tells me that a song so poppy won’t impress AMPAS’ music branch – especially when the song failed to hit it big on pop radio.

But (more…)

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Open Road Sets Cinematic Citizen for 2016 Bow

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Open Road Films removed Oliver Stone’s Snowden from its Dec. 25 slot. The biopic, led by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as (who else?) controversial NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has yet to find a new release date.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Concussion with Will Smith Nad Gugu Mbatha-Raw!) and Joy with Jennifer Lawrence are currently slated to hit theaters nationwide on Dec. 25, as are (God help us) Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and the Point Break remake; The Hateful Eight and The Revenant arrive at select locations.

Maybe Open Road bumped Snowden to avoid the holiday glut of new releases; the distrib may be gearing to push Thomas McCarthy’s Spotlight this season. With raves out of Telluride and Venice and a spot at Toronto, the drama may land nods for McCarthy and Josh Singer’s original script, performances from Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton, and maybe even the top prize. Spotlight hits select locations on Nov. 6.

With Snowden out of the running, Gordon-Levitt’s only (sort-of) Oscar hopeful now is Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk, which centers on French high-wire artist Philippe Petit – subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire (2008) – whose crossing of the World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974 was deemed “the artistic crime of the century.”

Despite Gordon-Levitt’s shaky accent in the trailers, the Sony release will kick off the New York Film Festival later this month. Then again, that probably has more to do with Zemeckis’ NYFF pull than The Walk as a film, so maybe I shouldn’t have too much faith in this one, which hits IMAX locations on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and nationwide on Friday, Oct. 9.

Looking Ahead: Woody Allen, Lucille Ball, and More

Forgive me for the lateness of this piece. I know I’m looking ahead to next year, but still…

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Steve Carell replaces Bruce Willis in Woody Allen’s next outing

Carell, who just picked up his first Oscar nomination for Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher last year, steps into Allen’s upcoming film – his first to be shot in Los Angeles since Annie Hall (1977), which won Oscars for picture, director, actress, and original screenplay. Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, and Corey Stoll also star in the film. (Will Carell end up with Lively or Stewart?)

Anyway, Willis’ official reason for departure was his upcoming stint in the Broadway adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery with Laurie Metcalf, but since this is Hollywood, the truth may be more interesting than what we’re actually hearing. Vince Mancini of Film Drunk points out that Jeff Sneider called BS on the official story, suggesting that Willis was instead fired from the project.

For what it’s worth, Mancini looks through a Woody Allen filter to speculate about what happened:

For me the big question is whether Bruce Willis’ character was supposed to be pursued by Kristen Stewart or Blake Lively, and what Emma Stone did to fall out of Woody Allen’s favor. Bruce’s character was probably real depressed about something, and then Kristen Stewart wanted to bone, and he was against it at first, but after a few beautiful picnics in a sun-drenched park, he gave in.

cateblanchett_cannes2015Cate Blanchett at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (via Tom and Lorenzo)

Cate Blanchett will lead Lucille Ball biopic written by Aaron Sorkin

The two-time Oscar winner will star as the comedienne in a film that focuses on her 20-year marriage to Desi Arnaz. Variety notes that Ball eloped with the Cuban bandleader in 1940. The two are most famous for creating and starring in the iconic sitcom I Love Lucy in 1951.

Lucy won four Emmy Awards for the series; it’s easy to imagine Blanchett scoring some awards love of her own. The casting already strikes some as curious, but Michelle Williams made enough of an impression with My Week with Marilyn (2011) to get a nomination. Sorkin on script duty seems a bit odd, too, even though he scripted one of the best films of the current decade – even after we’d preemptively dismissed it as “the Facebook movie.”

Either way, we expect Blanchett and Sorkin to get some Oscar attention – for Todd Haynes’ Carol and/or James Vanderbilt’s Truth, and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, respectively – this year.

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A Bigger Splash Dives Into 2016

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Fox Searchlight has scheduled Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash for release on May 13, 2016. Slated for a Venice bow in just a few days and a BFI London Film Festival screening next month, the thriller looked like a potential Oscar contender for Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthias Schoenaerts, and, most notably, Tilda Swinton.

This news is a letdown for those of us eager to see Swinton as a rock legend and Johnson in, well, something that’s not Fifty Shades of Grey. The Oscar-winning Swinton featured in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, which may score awards attention for star and writer Amy Schumer, earlier this year. Johnson features in Scott Cooper’s Black Mass; while Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger may land accolades, maybe there’s room for Johnson to shine, too.

Searchlight still boasts contenders in John Crowley’s Brooklyn and Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, both of which have already hit major festivals and will play Toronto later this month.

Miles Ahead May Be Miles Away

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When Sony Pictures Classics picked up Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, two thoughts entered the minds of us who pay way too much attention to this stuff: 1) Maybe SPC isn’t so confident in I Saw the Light, after all, and 2) Get that Oscar, Cheadle!

But maybe we rushed into that kind of thinking, as the distributor has indirectly announced a 2016 release for the Miles Davis biopic. SPC told Gold Derby to keep the film off its predictions options, apparently.

Of course, SPC may change its mind – as it just recently did with Maggie Smith vehicle The Lady in the Van – and opt to give Miles, if nothing else, a qualifying release.

Looking Ahead: Disney, La La Land, Operation ChromiteSully

A new thing I’m trying out for the blog: looking ahead to what may happen in next year’s Oscar race. Hey, it’s never too early to speculate… even though it really is. Expect posts like this to appear every week or so.

moana_picConcept art for Disney’s Moana (via Legion of Leia)

Zootopia and Moana get music updates

Shakira will perform a new track for the Disney release Zootopia, titled “Try Everything.” The film hits theaters on Mar. 4, 2016. Meanwhile, Tarzan (1999) and Brother Bear (2003) composer Mark Mancina will collaborate with Te Vaka guitarist Opetaia Foa’I and In the Heights and Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda to compose new music for Disney’s Moana, out Nov. 23, 2016.

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Relativity Fights Bankruptcy – What of The Secret Scripture?

natalieportman_janegotagunNatalie Portman in a promotional still for Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got a Gun (via MovieWeb)

UPDATE: Relativity has given up rights to Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got a Gun, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As for what happens next, well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Bankruptcy looms over Relativity Media, according to The Playlist. The distributor has put three of its biggest films – Bryan Buckley’s Sundance comedy The Bronze with Melissa Rauch, Eran Creevy’s thriller Collide (once called Autobahn) with Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones, and, most notably to this blog, Gavin O’Connor’s Western Jane Got a Gun with Natalie Portman – up for sale. Relativity is holding screenings in hopes that these films sell.

The lattermost flick, though littered with pre-production troubles, seemed to offer a potential best-actress contender in Portman, whose Jane asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him. (more…)