86th Academy Awards

12yearswin

So, the 86th Academy Awards have come and gone, and looking back on the winners, there really was only one real surprise from the categories that I had looked at in my preview. The Oscars seem to have become a little predictable. Hell, a Canadian baseball player went 18-for-18 in his predictions. A baseball player!!!!!

That being said, let’s take a quick look back on the winners from last evening in Hollywood. The big winners were ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Gravity’, and neither of those would be considered shocking. ’12 Years a Slave’ picked up three Oscars, while ‘Gravity’ picked up seven trophies, and in the process became the first film since ‘Star Wars’ in 1977 to win six or more trophies and not win Best Picture.

Both ‘Gravity’ and ‘American Hustle’ had ten nominations going into the ceremony, but unlike ‘Gravity’, ‘Hustle’ came away with zero awards. Only two films in history, ‘The Turning Point’ in 1977 and ‘The Color Purple’ in 1985, have had more nominations without any wins, both at eleven nominations.

The winners are as follow:

Best Visual Effects: ‘Gravity’ – Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould

Best Film Editing: ‘Gravity’ – Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger

Best Costume Design: ‘The Great Gatsby’ – Catherine Martin

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ – Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

Best Cinematography: ‘Gravity’ – Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Production Design: ‘The Great Gatsby’ – Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn

Best Sound Mixing: ‘Gravity’ – Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro

Best Sound Editing: ‘Gravity’ – Glenn Freemantle

Best Original Song: “Let It Go” from ‘Frozen’ – Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

Best Original Score: ‘Gravity’ – Steven Price

Best Animated Short Film: ‘Mr Hublot’ – Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares

Best Live Action Short Film: ‘Helium’ – Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson

Best Documentary – Short Subject: ‘The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life’ – Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed

Best Documentary – Feature: ’20 Feet from Stardom’ – Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen and Caitrin Rogers

Best Foreign Language FIlm: ‘The Great Beauty’ – Paolo Sorrentino

Best Animated Feature Film: ‘Frozen’ – Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: ’12 Years a Slave’ – John Ridley

Best Writing – Original Screenplay: ‘Her’ – Spike Jonze

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o for ’12 Years a Slave’

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett for ‘Blue Jasmine’

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey for ‘Dallas Buyers Club

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron for ‘Gravity’

Best Picture: ’12 Years a Slave’ – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas

At the end of the night, most of the awards fell the way most were expecting. ‘Gravity’ won in most of their technical categories and for Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron. Jared Leto won Best Supporting Actor and Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, a film in which both actors underwent significant personal transformations, something that the Academy absolutely loves.

Cate Blanchett won Best Actress, which was the worst kept secret of the entire evening, while Lupita Nyong’o overcame the unwarranted publicity of Jennifer Lawrence to bring home Best Supporting Actress for her role in ’12 Years a Slave’.

Of course, the big award for the evening was Best Picture, which had a total of nine nominees, but in my honest opinion, only one truly viable winner in ’12 Years a Slave’, and I am quite happy that the voters of the Academy agreed. ’12 Years a Slave’ is one of the most wonderful, gut-wrenching, heart-breakingly beautiful films I have ever seen, and rightly deserved to win the big one.

One last thing to add quickly here at the end, and that is that I really wish Best Actor could have been a tie last night, because as much as McConaughey deserved to win, so to did Chiwetel Ejiofor for ’12 Years a Slave’, and I truly believe that this is a role that will go down in history as hauntingly beautiful.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

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86th Academy Awards Preview

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Well, it is that time of year again. That time when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out their Oscars to deserving films and actors, and sometimes some undeserving ones as well.

Much like last year, I will look at the major awards from the 86th Academy Awards, but unlike last year, I am going to be adding in the two writing categories as well, trying to see if I can figure out those awards this time around.

I also want to mention that I am not going to be looking at the technical categories, as we all know that ‘Gravity’ is going to win them all anyways.

Best Animated Short Film

"GET A HORSE!" ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Nominees: Feral, Get a Horse!, Mr. Hublot, Possessions, Room on the Broom

Will Win: Get a Horse!

Should Win: Get a Horse!

Won’t get into this category too much other than to say that this should be a slam dunk for Disney with ‘Get a Horse!’. Appearing in front of ‘Frozen’ last November, a return to the big screen for Mickey Mouse using both traditional and 3D animation, there is little doubt in my mind that ‘Get a Horse!’ wins this award.

Best Original Song

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Nominees: Happy – Despicable Me 2, Let It Go – Frozen, The Moon Song – Her, Ordinary Love – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Will Win: Let It Go – Frozen

Should Win: Let It Go – Frozen

Curveball: Happy – Despicable Me 2

Originally a five nominee category, Best Original Song is now down to just four nominees following a rare disqualification of one of the entrants. While that may be the story of this category, it will not change how a winner is crowned here.

This is another runaway slam dunk category for Disney in my eyes. Yes, U2’s “Ordinary Love” won the Golden Globe for this category, yes, it’s a song from a popular band about one of the most influential men of the 20th Century, but a Disney song is a Disney song.

“Let It Go” from ‘Frozen’, sung by Idina Menzel, is one of the most powerful songs to have ever come out of an animated film, and let’s be honest, Disney has one hell of a track record in that category. A curveball on this front could be Pharrell’s “Happy” from ‘Despicable Me 2’, just on the strength of his Arby’s hat.

Best Animated Feature

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Nominees: The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celstine, Frozen, The Wind Rises

Will Win: Frozen

Should Win: Frozen

Curveball: The Wind Rises

Okay, I think it is completely safe to say that Disney may be back on top of the animated film summit. Thanks to recent hits like ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, Disney had started to catch up on Pixar and DreamWorks, and a return to the fairytale princess stories of old with ‘Frozen’ has seen them reach that summit again.

‘Frozen’ was won of my favourite films of 2013 and is head and shoulders above anything else in this category. The curveball here could be the final film from renowned film maker Hayao Miyazaki. Should the voters determine that is enough, this could be a major upset.

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

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Nominees: Before Midnight, Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

Curveball: Before Midnight

One of the easiest categories to call, but also one of the hardest as well. Four of these films are also up for Best Picture, and if one of them wins that award, it will be foreshadowed in the Adapted Screenplay category.

For myself personally, the winner here is ’12 Years a Slave’. Adapting a memoir from the 1860’s is hard enough, but making it relevant, poignant and heart breaking all at the same time is something special indeed.

The curveball here would be ‘Before Midnight’. Critics have a love affair with this love story trilogy and if the Best Picture winner does not come from the other four films in this category, it could count an upset.

Best Writing – Original Screenplay

her

Nominees: American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska

Will Win: American Hustle

Should Win: Her

Curveball: Dallas Buyers Club

Much like the Adapted Screenplay category, the Original Screenplay category features four of the nine films up for Best Picture, but unlike its sister category, I would be shocked if the winner of this category ends up winning the big one at the end of the night.

That being said, this category will go a long way in telling us just what the voters are thinking. If ‘American Hustle’ has withstood its much warranted backlash, it wins this category, even over quite possibly the most original film in years in ‘Her’, which would be the film I would vote for here.

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is my curveball in this category as it was, to me, the best film of the five that are nominated for Original Screenplay.

Best Supporting Actress

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Nominees: Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle, Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts – August: Osage County, June Squibb – Nebraska

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Curveball – Julia Roberts – August: Osage County

I have a real sneaking suspicion that this will be the biggest joke of the evening. There is a very deserved winner of the Best Supporting Actress awards that is going to be be completely disregarded so more people can give a completely unwarranted trophy out. The clear winner of this category, based on actual performance and emotional impact, is Lupita Nyong’o for ’12 Years a Slave’.

Instead, the Academy seems sure to bestow this award on a third rate, meaningless and totally un-impactful performance in ‘American Hustle’ to last years Best Actress winner, Jennifer Lawrence. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence is the best young actress in Hollywood today, but take her out of ‘American Hustle’ and you end up with pretty much the same film.

Outside winner here, and one that would be a huge shocker, would be Julia Roberts for August: Osage County. If Meryl Streep ends up not winning Best Actress, I would say that the chances of Roberts winning her would go up.

Best Supporting Actor

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Nominees: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper – American Hustle, Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street, Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Will Win: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

Curveball: Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Much like Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor seems to be a shoo-in for Jared Leto for his performance in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. While both the film and his performance were well done, all I kept seeing was a rock star in drag on screen, and as a result of that, I would look elsewhere for this category.

My personal choice would be Michael Fassbender for his role as a plantation owner in ’12 Years a Slave’. Showing the worst of what a rich white man could be in the middle 1800’s, and doing it so convincingly, is why my vote would go here.

If you took Fassbender off the board for Best Supporting Actor, I would immediately turn to newcomer Barkhad Abdi for his role as a pirate in ‘Captain Phillips’.

Best Actress

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Nominees: Amy Adams – American Hustle, Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock – Gravity, Judi Dench – Philomena, Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

Will Win: Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Should Win: Sandra Bullock – Gravity

Curveball: Judi Dench – Philomena

Best Actress is a very tough category to call this year, as four of the five nominees seem to have very legitimate hopes of winning the trophy, which of course means that this could be the one category where the curveball comes out on top.

This really should be a two actress race between Sandra Bullock for ‘Gravity’ and Cate Blanchett for ‘Blue Jasmine’, and I would not be surprised to see it go either way. Bullock seems to be the favourite here, as she carried her film on her shoulders almost 100% solo, so I feel she takes it home.

Should the four front runners cancel themselves out, I would love to see Judi Dench win for ‘Philomena’.

Best Actor

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Nominees: Christian Bale – American Hustle, Bruce Dern – Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave, Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave

Curveball: Bruce Dern – Nebraska

Best Actor is truly a two-man race between Matthew McConaughey for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and Chiwetel Ejiofor for ’12 Years a Slave’. It is a bit of a shame that Tom Hanks isn’t here for ‘Captain Phillips’, but such is life.

If you go for best year, and inexplicably include what he is doing in HBO’s ‘True Detective’ right now, along with what he did earlier in 2013 in ‘Mud’, this is McConaughey’s Oscar to lose. If you are going with the best performance from any actress or actor on film from 2013, you are going to the bank with Ejiofor’s performance, hands down.

Ejiofor’s performance as Solomon Northup in ’12 Years a Slave’ may just be the single best performance I have ever witnessed, and for my money is the runaway winner here.

Off the wall chance goes to veteran Bruce Dern for the black and white ‘Nebraska’, as we all know how the Academy loves older style films.

Best Director

gravity

Nominees: David O. Russell – American Hustle, Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity, Alexander Payne – Nebraska, Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave, Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win – Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Should Win – Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

Curveball – Alexander Payne – Nebraska

Best Director is another very tough category to predict. For myself, there are two clear front runners for the Oscar, but when taking into account the voters themselves, it brings four of the five into play, which of course means that there could be an upset from the fifth nominee.

For my money, I can see it going to either Alfonso Cuaron for his revolutionary ‘Gravity’ or to Steve McQueen for crafting a film in ’12 Years a Slave that is both wonderful and hard to watch all at once. I truly believe that there is a good chance that if either director wins here, they also pick up Best Picture for all the same reasons. I would dearly love for McQueen to win here, but I think this is all Cuaron all day long.

Should there be a canceling out of the voters, look to a shock win for a second straight year, this year to Alexander Payne for ‘Nebraska’.

Best Picture

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Nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

For the second year in a row I feel like I truly have nailed down the Best Picture winner, and for the second year in a row, it is a film that was long in the public eye before the nominations came out.

To be completely honest, I don’t think this is anywhere near as close as many believe it to be. ‘American Hustle’ is nowhere near as good as many make it out to be. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is too bloated with swearing to win over the Academy. ‘Her’ is just to weird for most voters to have even seen. ‘Philomena’ and ‘Nebraska’ are just too small to be taken as legitimate contenders. ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is all about the two main stars, and “Captain Phillips’ suffers from not having its main actor or director get nominations.

That leaves ‘Gravity’ and ’12 Years a Slave’. One is a redefinition of what can be done to put a film on the screen, and the other is simply the most heart breaking film that I have ever seen. Here is how I break them both down: ‘Gravity’ was a great “movie”, one that needed to be experienced in the correct cinema environment. ’12 Years a Slave’ is a pitch perfect “film” that I will be able to watch over and over again due to the entire experience, from the silent scene featuring only Chiwetel Ejiofor’s eyes, to the use of actual plantations and clothing from the era.

No curveball or surprises here.

Check back on Monday for my review of what actually goes down at the 86th Academy Awards.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

Ten Favourites of 2013

About Time

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Released – November 1st

Box Office – $15 million North America/$68 million Worldwide

‘About Time’ is and should be the biggest surprise on this list. A Sci-Fi time travel film disguised as a romantic comedy, this film is quite possibly the best rom-com I have ever seen. What should not be a surprise is that a quirky British comedy rated highly with me. There really are days when I think I should be British.

The key to this film was a quiet but wonderful turn by Bill Nighy as the father of the main character. Utilized twice as a plot device to both introduce the key plot element but then to also further along the film later on, Nighy’s charm breathed life into what could have otherwise been a flat character, and allows him to hold ‘About Time’ together in the end.

While allowing the viewer an opportunity to think about what they themselves would do if in a similar situation, ‘About Time’ manages to avoid the usual trappings of a “normal” time travel film. Staying away from the usual tropes of survival or riches, ‘About Time’ creates a nice change of pace from the average film.

Captain Phillips

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Released – October 11th

Box Office – $105 million North America/$109 million Worldwide

My biggest issue with “Captain Phillips’ has been spending the past couple of days figuring out how Tom Hanks did not get another Best Actor nomination for the 86th Academy Awards. He is this film. We all know just what an exceptional actor Hanks is, but for the first time in almost twenty years, he truly shows it off in this film. Hanks is once again worth the price of admission to a film again.

What that doesn’t actually tell you though is just how wonderful ‘Captain Phillips is as a whole. Director Paul Greengrass crafts a film that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire run time, despite the fact that you know pretty much how the film is going to end. That is always an exceptional feat to pull off.

Another amazing aspect that really helped ‘Captain Phillips’ be a strong film was the performance put forth by Barkhad Abdi as the leader of the band of pirates. Abdi manages the rare feat of actually stealing scenes against Hanks and it is no wonder that the was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Frozen

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Released – November 22

Box Office – $336 Million North America/$426 million Worldwide

‘Frozen’ continues the return of Disney to the top of the animation mountain. Having been supplanted by Pixar and DreamWorks, Disney has returned to form with recent hits ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Frozen’ makes it a trifecta of all-around amazing films. Featuring a tour-de-force return to the hapharzardly abandoned fairy tale princess sub-genre that is Disney’s animated calling card, this film offers something for everyone.

Two straight years running and three of the last four years, Disney has produced what I would consider to be the best animated film of each year by offering films that out-Pixar Pixar while also bringing in both sexes with films that steal DreamWorks thunder. From jokes for all to amazing Oscar quality songs that are catchy, ‘Frozen’ is everything that you would expect from the House of Mouse and more, breaking down barriers as it goes.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Released – December 13th

Box Office – $249 million North America/$585 million Worldwide

Peter Jackson took what could be considered some unwarranted criticism from last year’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ for trying to meld a children’s book with his cinematic version of Middle Earth.  However, what Jackson managed to do was to make an even finer quality return to Tolkien’s world with ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’.

The most amazing aspect of the second Hobbit film is the dragon, Smaug, himself. When you finally see something come to life that you have long imagined from your childhood, you may get a little concerned about it. Well, in the end, Jackson and company pull off a wonderfully looking Smaug, and one that is key to this film. The other aspect, aside from the look, that sets Smaug apart is the voice work done by Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch’s voice is now how I will read Smaug’s lines whenever I read the book in the future.

While still suffering a little from the middle film syndrome, ‘Smaug’ is still a rambunctious ride and does its job perfectly of delivering our characters to the third act to come with this December’s finale, ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’.

Iron Man 3

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Released – May 3rd

Box Office – $409 million North America/$806 million Worldwide

The first film that Disney and Marvel have released in their post-Avengers world did not fail to deliver. Showcasing everything we have come to expect from Marvel Studios in general and Robert Downey Jr. in particular, ‘Iron Man 3’ was a great way to launch Marvel’s Phase Two much like ‘Iron Man’ did for what became Phase One.

While presenting a seeming end to the arc of Tony Stark, and to the franchise in general should RDJ not come back, ‘Iron Man 3’ did so with a bang. Featuring one of the visually best action scenes of 2013, this film further entrenched Iron Man as a character to be reckoned with at the box office, right up there with Batman and James Bond.

‘Iron Man 3’ also showed that Marvel will not rest on its laurels in Phase Two, but will work to push the envelope further, by making us all ask the question: “What will become of Iron Man moving forward?”

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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Released – December 25th

Box Office – $55 million North America/$105 million Worldwide

‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ spoke to me very much on a personal level. That it did so was a great change of pace from the normal kind of films that I watch, or even other films that some would consider similar to this one. It spoke to me as I myself have at times been lost in thought and what ifs and doubts, very much something that afflicts the main character in this film.

That the opening act of the film, while showcasing those moments, was a little slow and dodgy is something that is easy to overcome once the film starts picking up in the second and third acts. While at times it can seem that the real world adventures of Ben Stiller’s Walter Mitty are even more day dreamish than his day dream adventures, the fact that it shows that once you take a chance you don’t know where you will end up highlights how amazing that can be in life.

Star Trek Into Darkness

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Released – May 16th

Box Office – $228 million North America/$238 million Worldwide

Paramount Pictures has been in the same boat as Universal Pictures lately, struggling to create new franchises that will allow it to continue to be profitable in this day and age. What Paramount does have though is a sure fire bet for North American audiences, and that is J.J. Abrams’ rebooted ‘Star Trek’ films.  The action levels have never been higher in Trek films, and in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’  they also added more of the political air back to the franchise as well.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and all have done an amazing job on not only bringing “Star Trek’ into the 21st Century but also of making these characters their own with their own unique voices, which was something that no one could have been sure would have happened when creating a new timeline to tell new stories of Kirk, Spock et al. While putting a new twist on a story many are familiar with, they also managed to tell a story that was full of humour, action and also some easter eggs for fans of the original television series as well.

This is the End

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Released – May 12th

Box Office – $101 million North America/$24 million Worldwide

Only one true comedy made it to this list in 2013, and it might surprise most that it was ‘This is the End’. Featuring characterizations of Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson, along with others, the film parodies the reactions of movie stars to an apparent apocalyptic event.

The film is rude, crude, offensive and everything you would expect from a tongue-in-cheek take on their own lives, and as a result was the funniest film I saw in 2013.  ‘This is the End’ is also the first film I have ever seen in theatres where people got up and left due to being offended by it, and if possible, this made it all the more hilarious to me.

Near the end of the film it loses a little bit of steam as it tries to actually finish off telling a story, but for the most part, this film doesn’t take itself serious and neither should you.

White House Down

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Released – June 28th

Box Office – $73 million North America/$132 million Worldwide

As I stated in my previous “Most Disappointing of 2013″ article, ‘A Good Day to Die Hard” was out-Die Harded by a couple of films last year. The best of those films was ‘White House Down’, featuring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and James Woods, which was a rollicking action film that stood out above the rest for me.

Channing Tatum channels the best John McClane for the 21st Century that we have seen so far, and plays well off of both Jamie Foxx’s President and James Woods’ villain. There are some that will tell that based off of the box office results of ‘White House Down’ that Tatum cannot carry an action film, but that is simply not the case at all. What killed this film was its release date, nothing more.

Coming out after the failed ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ and the also quite decent and also quite similar ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, ‘White House Down’ suffered from viewer fatigue at the box office, but you should do yourself a favour and check this one out. From director Roland Emmerich, this film was the best of the three.

Rush

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Released – September 20th

Box Office – $26 million North America/$63 million Worldwide

Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ was the best film that I saw in the theatres during 2013 and I cannot wait to own it when it comes out in a couple of weeks. Featuring Chris Hemsworth from ‘Thor’ and relative newcomer, to mainstream audiences for the most part, Daniel Bruhl, ‘Rush’ tells the story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda and its culminatin during the 1975 Formula One season.

Using a blend of CGI and practical effects, Howard crafted a wonderful film that left an exhilarating feeling throughout. The use of actual historical racing cars was a major part of making this possible. This film is more than just the two main actors, as the cars are also the stars that make this the best film of the year.

Showing off a more dramatic side than though possible, Hemsworth give a performance that makes it possible to believe that he could Academy Awards in the future. However, the real breakthrough of ‘Rush’ is Bruhl who shows off a wide range of emotions as Niki Lauda who suffers through a horrific crash during the 1975 German Grand Prix. Bruhl steals the screen every time we see him, and his resulting nomination for a 2014 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor was well warranted.

I will say this as a late addition. The fact that ‘Rush’ was completely shut out of the 86th Academy Awards with zero nominations does not accurately reflect the strongest film of 2013.

Must See in 2014

Looking back over the 2013 version of this list that I made, it has become increasingly clear that just because I am really excited about a film that is coming out, it does not mean that it is going to end up being an enjoyable film in the end.

Of the ten films that made the list last year, nine were released into the theatre with one getting bumped to early this year.  Of those nine films, three of them actually managed to make my Most Disappointed list for 2013: ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’, ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ and ‘Man of Steel’.  Of the other six, although I enjoyed them all, only two or three of them will be good enough to make my Top Ten of 2013 list when I do that next week.

This is not an inditement against big budget Hollywood films and the fact that I am moving away from them, but more of a fact that until trailers for films later in the year come out, it is hard to gauge films you know nothing about that are clearly aimed at winning Oscars, as those are the films that seem to be trickling into my Top Ten lists now.

The hope for 2014 is that more of the ten films you are about to read about will make my Top Ten of 2014 list next January as there will be a momentous step up in the quality of bigger films coming out of Hollywood.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – January 17

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On my Must See of 2013 list, ‘Jack Ryan’ held the latest release spot.  Due to rescheduling of other Oscar bait films, the newly retitled ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruite’ was bumped to the middle of January and thus has managed to make this list for two consecutive years.

I grew up reading Tom Clancy’s novels on his CIA analyst turned part-time field operative.  To be honest, I still own almost all of those novels on a shelf behind me.  I also have a fondness for all four previous Jack Ryan based films that have been released, so it should be no surprise that this most recent reboot attempt is something I am excited to see.

With that being said, it will be interesting to see if Chris Pine has enough star power to carry a second franchise not titled ‘Star Trek’ or if this will be another one off shot from Paramount ala ‘The Sum of All Fears’ back in 2002.

The Monuments Men – February 7

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From the moment that I first saw a trailer for ‘The Monuments Men’, I knew that it was going to have to be a film to see in theatres.  Set during the end of World War II, the film sees a team put together in the hopes of saving priceless art that the Nazis have stolen throughout their occupation of Europe and are willing to destroy during their retreat back to Germany.

Featuring a strong cast from George Clooney to Matt Damon to Bill Murray and John Goodman, ‘The Monuments Men’ is sure to not take itself too seriously but also touch on a forgotten part of the war in Europe.

Muppets Most Wanted – March 21

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For anyone that knows me, they know just how much I love The Muppets and how important they are to me.  With that in mind, it really should come as no surprise that their new film, ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ appears on this list.

Following up on their return to theatres in 2011 with ‘The Muppets’, this film will see the familiar cast of Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and others off to Europe for a crime caper that will also involve a familiar looking villain.  Also featuring a brand new human cast, expect all new hi-jinx this March.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – April 4

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Quite possibly the biggest surprise of Marvel’s Phase One films was not just how big ‘The Avengers’ was, but in just how amazing ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ was.  A World War II origin piece, it actually showed just how much Chris Evans has evolved as an actor over the years since his days as Johnny Storm in the ‘Fantastic Four’ films.

What we are actually going to be getting with ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is a film franchise that is forced into not replicating itself.  To be honest, this is a welcome situation.  Having placed Steve Rogers firmly in the here and now in ‘The Avengers’, Marvel is giving us a modern day 1970’s style spy thriller disguised as a superhero flick.

Based on the popular comic book run from Eisner Award winner Ed Brubaker, ‘Winter Soldier’ features the long though impossible return of Cap sidekick Bucky Barnes in the role of the Winter Soldier.  In the comics Bucky eventually took up the mantle of Captain America, so it will be interesting to see just how far they go in this film.  Interesting indeed.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – May 23

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The second Marvel-based film to make this list, from 20th Century Fox is what may be the most ambitious film of the summer this year.  Bryan Singer returns to the franchise he started as director of ‘X-Men’ and ‘X2: X-Men United’ by giving us ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’.  Featuring members of both X-Men generations, ‘Days’ will be bringing one of the most beloved X-stories of all time to the big screen.

Featuring both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy as Professor Xavier along with Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Hugh Jackman taking his seventh turn as Wolverine, ‘Days’ has a large ensemble cast. Also featuring a series of new characters from comic book lore, this is sure to be one of the more unique films we see in theatres in 2014.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – June 13

dragon2

The first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ was a surprise hit back in 2010 and is a universally loved film.  The fact that we are getting a sequel is not really a surprise. What may come as a surprise to some is that this is the only real top end animated film that we will be getting in the summer of 2014.

As a result of that lack of competition, should ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ carry the same level of enjoyment as the first film, there is a very real possibility that this could be the highest grossing film in North America until very late in the year.

Featuring all of the main characters from the original, expect the same level of laughs and animated action when this film comes to a theatre near you.

Transformers: Age of Extinction – June 27

transformers

The three previous “Transformers’ films from director Michael Bay have brought in over $2.6 billion worldwide, and it is on the strength of that number that we are getting a fourth film this summer in ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’.  Bay is back behind the camera, with revamped Transformers and a brand new cast of humans to present a whole new story.

The ‘Transformers’ franchise features one of the only seventeen films of all time to cross $1 billion worldwide and you can bet that Paramount is expecting more of the same.  With a film that was shot partially in Hong Kong, you can bet that this film will reach that magical mark again thanks to a strong Chinese box office.

Wether you are a fan of the franchise or not, there is no denying the kind of impact these films have had at the box office and it is hard to imagine any film in 2014 bringing in more worldwide dollars than ‘Age of Extinction’.

Guardians of the Galaxy – August 1

guardians

After the success of all six of the Marvel Phase One films, including the huge all-time summer blockbuster success of ‘The Avengers’, and the moderate risk it took in doing so, it appears that they are willing to increase the risk factor during their Phase Two.  Pushing that envelope will come in the form of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in August.

On the surface, ‘Guardians’ seems to be a film that will not mesh with the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films that have come before it, and that is actually a pretty cool thing.  Based on a team of space-faring outlaws, this film will truly show just how much the Marvel name can sell in theatres.  Featuring a walking tree that says one line, a gun-toting talking racoon and other noticeable alien elements, this film will be a breath of fresh air at the end of the summer blockbuster season.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One – November 21

mockingjay

At this point and time I think it is safe to say that ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise can no longer be compared to the ‘Twilight’ series. While both series began life as Young Adult books, there is no denying just how impactful ‘The Hunger Games’ has become.  The first franchise in history to have both of its first two films cross the $400 million mark at the North American box office, it is clear that these films are not just for women and girls.

The franchise that has made Jennifer Lawrence a household name is due for a shakeup following the ending from ‘Catching Fire’. And with the third book, ‘Mockingjay’, being split into two films this November and next, we are sure to see more of the political side of Panem that we saw in the second film. As a result, we could be in for some interesting changes amongst our lead characters in what is sure to be another $400 million blockbuster.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again – December 17

hobbitThis film will be huge. I am calling it now. ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ could very well top the list of best Middle Earth films from director Peter Jackson. Yes, I am that serious. While ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ was a step up in quality from ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, it was still saddled with the dreaded middle film syndrome at time. Such will not be the case for ‘There and Back Again’ when it hits in what looks like a bare December.

This film will feature Smaug in all of his destructive glory, the culmination of the Dol Guldor plot threads and then will reach its climax with The Battle of Five Armies. For anyone that loved the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’, The Battle of Five Armies could be an even bigger wonder to behold on the big screen.

The end of the second Middle Earth trilogy will be one of the biggest films of 2014 for sure, and should wind up as my favourite film of the year.

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

Most Disappointing of 2013

As much as I loved the year 2013 in theatres, and with some stunning films that a few years ago that I never would have watch it was quite enjoyable, there were also some significant low points.  The worst part of these low points is that most of these films are ones that I was really excited for over the course of the year, and in the end, none of them lived up to those expectations.

The absolute worst part of this entire situation is that, in total, three of these films appeared on my most anticipated films of 2013 list that I wrote back in January.  Those films actually sting more than the others, as there was a reason why I was looking for ward to them, only to have them falter in the end.

I had initially set out to make a list of five films but at the end of the day, the list includes six films.  The list appears in alphabetical order except for the last film, the one that I found to disappoint me the most in 2013.

Elysium

elysium

Released – August 9th

Box Office – $93 million North America/$193 million Worldwide

I loved 2009’s surprise hit ‘District 9’ from director Neill Blomkamp.  I loved it so much that it was one of my favourite films of that calendar year.  As a result of that, ‘Elysium’ was probably the one Science Fiction based film not called ‘Star Trek’ that I was most looking forward to in 2013.

To be completely honest with you, there was still some fun aspects of this film that make it worth a watch at some point and time.  ‘Elysium’ manages to prove that the ‘Bourne’ films were correct in showing that Matt Damon is in fact a legitimate action star, but this is not quite enough to forgive some other aspects of the film.

And that leads to what is my biggest issue with ‘Elysium’.  It isn’t that it shows a white male saving a mostly Hispanic population from the shackles of poverty, but that, in a world that is indeed shackled by an insane level of poverty, the main character somehow manages to have a brand new pair of Adidas running shoes.  How is that even remotely possible?

That fact alone nearly took me entirely out of the film, and completely ruined the social commentary for what the film was clearly trying to strive towards.  It turned it into an interesting think piece into a generic action film, and in the middle of August, I was actioned out.

A Good Day to Die Hard

diehard

Released – February 14th

Box Office  – $67 million North America/$237 million Worldwide

The fifth time out for the ‘Die Hard’ franchise should more than likely wind up being the last installment of the franchise if the North American box office results are the deciding indicator, and not because they wrote it to have a logical final conclusion.

The real issue here is that this ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ was the worst Die Hard style film we had in 2013, as once again a studio decided that it would be a good idea to run out an aging action star in a futile attempt to pass the torch on a franchise onto a younger star.

This film was overshadowed by two later films that were far better Die Hard films than this in ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ and ‘White House Down’, and Bruce Willis actually showed that he is still an action star with his role in ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’.

In the end, this was one of the ten films I was most looking forward to in 2013, and it took just a month and half to feel my first real disappointment when it came to a film.

Jack the Giant Slayer

jackthegiantslayer

Released – March 1st

Box Office  – $65 million North America/$132 million Worldwide

‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ is doubly disappointing as it was also one of my most anticipated films of 2012 before it was bumped back to March to upconvert it to 3D, and then was a very bland film in the end.

The only true upside about this is that thankfully Bryan Singer knows how to make ‘X-Men’ films, because this take on the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale was a bloated, convoluted mess and barely showed the benefits of its estimated $175 million budget.

This film also wasted the efforts of some very good actors such as Stanley Tucci, Ewan MacGregor and Nicholas Hoult in what ended up being a CGI-filled popcorn flick and nothing more.  You can tell that ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ was originally setup to be a summer blockbluster, but that just never materialized.

The Lone Ranger

loneranger

Released – July 3rd

Box Office – $89 million North America/$171 million Worldwide

Very similar to the kind of money that was spent on ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ is the kind of money that was spent on ‘The Lone Ranger’.  The kind of money that was spent on both films was sequel-style money, when you already have a built in audience, instead of trying to find a market for your franchise.

Even with that being said, there is really only one reason why ‘The Lone Ranger’ ended up making this list.  That reason is the completely unnecessary old-Tonto story line.  That angle, featuring Johnny Depp in 90-year old leathery Native American make-up took me completely out of the film every time they cut to it.  I understand why they did it.  They did it to try and bring back some of the Disney PG nature to the film.  In the end though, it allowed me to start using the following line: “When you make a film for everyone, you wind up making a film for no one”, and that is exactly what the theatrical cut of ‘The Lone Ranger’ is.

I will long be a proponent of a 110 minute cut of the film that entirely eliminates old-ass Depp and focuses on the Wild West nature of the entire Lone Ranger back story.  If that was what we had seen back in July, it might very well have ended up on my end of the year top ten list, that is just how much I enjoyed the rest of the film.

The end result of the disaster at the box office that ‘The Lone Ranger’ ended up being was an interesting trade between Disney and Paramount.  Disney acquired the rights to make future ‘Indiana Jones’ films and in return Paramount has picked up the producing might of Jerry Bruckheimer.  Never forget that Bruckheimer is one of the men responsible for the very profitable ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise.

R.I.P.D.

ripd

Released – July 19th

Box Office – $33 million North America/$44 million Worldwide

‘R.I.P.D.’ is easily the worst film I watched in 2013, and is indeed one of the worst films that I have ever willingly paid money to see.  That is just how bad this film was.  It is interesting to note, however, how a film featuring Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Bacon managed to be just this awful.

The absolute worst part of this film is the fact that it wasted what could have been one of the characters of the year in Jeff Bridges as a deceased Wild West lawman.  Anyone responsible for ruining that for all of us should have been fired immediately and never let near another film again in their lives.

Correction, the absolute most awful part of ‘R.I.P.D.’ is that I willingly paid money to see this in the theatre. This movie is in the bottom five of worst movies of all time. Yes, it is in fact just that bad.

Man of Steel

manofsteel

Released – June 14th

Box Office – $291 million North America/$371 million Worldwide

I just want to start this one off by saying that I really enjoyed ‘Man of Steel’, and that just before finalizing this section, that I watched it again on Blu-ray and enjoyed it just as much.  I was happy with the heart of the film and the build up in the first and second act as well.  I absolutely loved the opening twenty minutes on Krypton with Russell Crowe.  I said it then and I will say it again, I would love a two hour Krypton film with Crowe in the lead.  It was smart, it was stylistic, it was fantastic.

However, the final act, really the attempted climactic oneupsmanship of 2012’s ‘The Avengers’ is what truly let ‘Man of Steel’ down.  At this point is where it felt like the film lost all of its direction and focus and was unable to fully realize the type of film that it wanted to be.  It spent almost 90 minutes building up a warm uplifting story, much like the Superman character has become known for, only to fall into the typical alien invasion/disaster flick that we see at the theatre multiple times a year it seems.

The films final act was full of carnage and destruction on par with the best apocalyptic films of all time, very much a disaster popcorn flick.  But right at the end, ‘Man of Steel’ asks us to put behind us essentially everything we have just seen, including a very un-Superman-like ending to the battle with Zod to once again believe in the main character as if we haven’t had our hearts ripped out.

Based on the first two acts of the film, ‘Man of Steel’ should have been the film of summer and a renaissance for DC and Warner Brothers.  Instead, it falls short of anything Marvel and Disney, their direct competitors, have given us and what could amount to a borderline failure.  If you don’t believe that possibility, why are DC and Warner Brothers adding both Batman, arguably the most recognizable character in the world today, and Wonder Woman to ‘Man of Steel 2’ in 2015?

Fall 2013 Season – Part Two

I don’t know if it is due from just getting older and as a result being more open to films beyond raunchy comedies and big-budget popcorn flicks, or if my tastes are changing, or if I am actively seeking out more types of films and being open to them, but with each passing year I manage to find additional levels of enjoyment from award caliber fare later in the calendar year.

As a result of this, the following article is full of eleven different award season fodder that under normal circumstances, will be on my viewing list before the end of January, and this list contains only one film that I know for sure would have made my list just two to three years ago.

This is also a sign for movie audiences everywhere on two different fronts.  First off, more big name directors and big name actors and actresses are willing to do smaller, character driven films that have enough entertainment value for the general masses.  Secondly, bigger metroplexes in more markets, and even smaller cities, are willing to bring these films in knowing that it will draw audiences to increase profits.  These two things lead off into numerous films on this list.

The ten films that follow are the larger films that are already garnering award buzz, be it for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor or Best Actress awards, and these are the eleven films that most people will have the opportunity to see before the Golden Globes are held in January.

Rush – September 27

rush

The only film on this list that I will 100% see, ‘Rush’ tells the story of the famed 1976 Formula One season and the race for the title between Englishman James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda and the horrific crash that Lauda suffered during the German Grand Prix of that season.

Directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, ‘Rush’ seems poised to push Hemsworth beyond his role as Thor and into the light as an actor to deal with moving forward.

Gravity – October 4

gravity

Initially put forth as a true 3D event film, in the same vein as last year’s ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Gravity’ may be one of Hollywood’s last gasps to sell a film as must see in the format that has been shunned for the most part in North America this year.  From director Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Gravity’ appears to tell the story of astronauts being stranded in space.

In order to get the best feel for the film, many people are avoiding watching trailers and TV spots featuring stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney floating away in space, and as a result of not furthering plot points in these scenes, the average theatre goer may wind up passing on this film, but much like ‘Life of Pi’, it could be a mistake waiting to happen to pass on it.

Captain Phillips – October 11

captphillips

Tom Hanks was one of the most bankable actors of the mid to late 1990’s, and with back-to-back Best Actor Oscar wins for ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ and two further nominations for ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Cast Away’, Hanks practically owned Hollywood at the turn of the millennium.  While his time since than has been more miss than hit, it appears that ‘Captain Phillips’ may be a turning back the clock so to speak.

Based on a true story, a running theme in this years films that are chasing the award’s season, ‘Captain Phillips’ will feature a defiant Hanks in a bit of an isolationist role, something right in his wheelhouse, and we may end up seeing a sixth career Best Actor nod from this film.

The Fifth Estate – October 18

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Featuring one of the hottest names in films today, Benedict Cumberbatch, ‘The Fifth Estate’ tells the story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his exploits in becoming one of the most infamous men in the world.  Featuring Daniel Bruhl in his second appearance on this list as Assange’s right-hand man and author of the book that the film itself is being partly based on.

That being said, due to the nature of the film and the fact that is based around a whistle-blower, it may wind up not being able to live up to its own hype, and a quick look at the current Rotten Tomatoes score for the film seems to back up that line of thinking.

12 Years a Slave – October 18

12years

If there is a film that could be considered a heavy runaway contender for most awards this season, ’12 Years a Slave’ would be sure to be that film.  Based on the real-life re-tellings of Solomon Northup, ’12 Years a Slave’ tells the story of a freeman kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American South before the Civil War.

Directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, and a slew of name actors in other roles, such as Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, ’12 Years a Slave’ sure seems to be the go-to film for critics ahead of its limited release in mid-October.  Whether that steam continues for average theatre goers or not, this film is sure setup to win hearts and trophies.

The Wolf of Wall Street – November 15

wolf

Another year, another highly anticipated film that might finally give Leonardo DiCaprio his sought after Oscar.  That is what ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ carries with it this year.  While the film also features actors like Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, expect DiCaprio to be the centre of attention of the marketing for this film, especially considering it is directed by Martin Scorsese, and the history between the two.

Whether or not this film can finally get DiCaprio the long elusive Oscar for Best Actor will be one of the key drivers and selling points moving forward, especially if it is having a healthy run in the theatres when nominations begin to be announced.

The Monuments Men – December 18

monuments

I am a sucker for war movies, and ‘The Monuments Men’ seems to be right up that alley, yet with a nice twist to separate it from the pack.  Set during World War II, this film features a group of allies trying to preserve works of art and other culturally relevant items from the hands of Hitler and the Nazis.

Based on true events, ‘The Monuments Men’ will be another testament to the wide range of great actors in Hollywood today, with the likes of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman putting on the fatigues to fight an important cause during the war years.

Inside Llewyn Davis – December 20

llewyn

The latest film from the Coen Brothers, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, features another star-studded cast in a film built around the 1960’s folk music scene.  Featuring the talents of Oscar Davis, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ is bound to be one of the harder to predict how it will do.

The reason for that is that it could be a quieter film due to the plot and the store, but the film also managed to win the Grand Prix award at Cannes this year, and that could cancel out the other aspects of the film.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – December 25

mitty

It appears that ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ is Ben Stiller’s attempt to enter the serious part of his career.  As director and lead actor of the film, Stiller is definitely trying to show off that he has some real acting ability, and judging by the trailer that was released for the film, it will be hard to argue that he isn’t pulling it off.

While a story of a daydreamer has been done before, specifically a film of the same name all the way back 1947, a serious tone to the film could be quite the interesting take in the Christmas time period that Hollywood loves for serious award contenders.

American Hustle – December 25

hustle

Last year’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ from director David O. Russell was one of my favourite films of 2012, and Russell is back with ‘American Hustle’ this year.  Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams and two of Russel’s favourites in Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who  both received Oscar nomination for ‘Playbook’ last year, ‘American Hustle’ takes a look at greed and corruption in 1970’s America.

‘Playbook’ was the first film since 1981 to garner nominations in all four acting categories at the Oscar’s, and with the cast present in ‘American Hustle’, there is no reason to think it can’t duplicate the feat, and a repeat of ‘Playbook’s big five nominations is quite possible as well.

There are definitely more films that will be considered as award season contenders, but this is just a quick list of the ones that most people will end up having come to their theatres this fall and holiday season.  Leading up to the Golden Globes and the Oscar’s, anyone of these ten films could become a front runner.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Fall 2013 Season – Part One

Once the calendar moves beyond Labour Day, the landscape at the movie theatre changes as well.  Instead of being inundated with popcorn flicks and blockbuster fare, September is a dumping ground for for lesser titles as this month tends to have the lowest theatre attendance each and every year.

As the calendar changes to October through the rest of the calendar year through the holiday season, the theatre becomes split really between two kinds of films.  First off we have the start of the Award Season, as films begin to jockey for nominations for major awards like the Golden Globes and the Oscars.  Secondly, we have a late year blockbuster season, where some films now go in hopes of earning a big box office take for their studios, as evidenced by the fact that the last six November’s have all seen over $1 billion dollars for films released that month.

The first films on tap are going to look at some of the bigger films that will be coming out between now and the end of the year, and the hopes of the studios with those films.  The films as always will be listed according to release date.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2September 27

meatballs

After a summer heavy with family aimed animated fare, it will be interesting to see how ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ will do in late September.  The original ‘Cloudy’ opened with a solid $30 million in mid-September of 2009 and anything above and beyond that will be considered a win this year.

A return of most of the voice actors from the first film and a hilarious premise of foodimals trying to escape the setting of the original film, the sequel should be in line to be a hit as well.  The one thing that it does need to be wary of is the fatigue that hit families with successive films aimed at them all summer long.  If ‘Cloudy 2’ can draw in the family audiences, it seems set to challenge the recently set September opening weekend mark from last year’s ‘Hotel Transylvania’.

Ender’s GameNovember 1

endersgameOctober doesn’t have a film that is poised to own the box office combination of big opening with sustained legs, so the next film on tap that could muster that is ‘Ender’s Game’ at the start of November.  Based on the book by Orson Scott Card, ‘Ender’s Game’ is the last gasp for Sci-Fi this year from Hollywood, so it will be interesting to see if it can turn around a very so-so year in that genre.

Due the up and down nature of big budget Sci-Fi from Hollywood this year, and the fact that ‘Ender’s Game’ does have a main character that is in his teens and with a downturn this year when it comes to the Young Adult genre, it could be a tough sell for ‘Ender’s Game’, although the Young Adult genre is definitely aimed more at the teenage girl demographic.  The one thing that could save this film is the 30 years of young boys reading the book that it is based on, and the fact that it is recommended reading for United States Marines.

Thor: The Dark WorldNovember 8

thor2

‘Thor: The Dark World’ is a huge film for Marvel Studios and parent company Disney.  On the heels of last year’s ‘The Avengers’ and this summer’s ‘Iron Man 3’, both of which were North American and International box office behemoths, this film will tell wether only Robert Downey Jr. is the sell, or if other characters and actors can pull the trick as well.

2011’s ‘Thor’ finished 10th in the North American box office with $181 million, so Marvel is clearly hoping for an ‘Avengers’ boost to that number, and looking at isolating the film’s Norse Mythology aspects by placing it in November as winter starts to hit may be a key to that. The downfall to that placement comes with the next film on the list and the fact that it is a sequel to the second biggest film of 2012.  If ‘Thor: The Dark World’ can overcome that, it could be another huge hit for Disney and Marvel.

The Hunger Games: Catching FireNovember 22

catchingfire

I don’t think anyone, even the studio and producers, expected last year’s ‘The Hunger Games to become the third biggest film of 2012 and, at that time, just the 14th film to cross the $400 million North American box office line.  And to do it as a March release was practically unheard of.

Hit with a quick turnaround due to Jennifer Lawrence’s participation in one of 2014’s most anticipated blockbusters, ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ will be looking to work off of the massive success of the first film, but that could be hard to live up to in a jam-packed mid-November to mid-December season.  This will be a big test for Lawrence’s ability to draw in the Young Adult crowd.

FrozenNovember 27

frozen

Disney has had some success with November releases of animated features in the last few years, including last year’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and 2011’s ‘Tangled’.  More of the same is expected from this year’s ‘Frozen’, featuring a wintery tale with supporting characters like a talking snowman and a pet reindeer.

A lot of Disney’s recent animated success has come as a result of not taking the films too seriously, and the comedic tones of ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ will need to continue if ‘Frozen is going to be able to stand out in a year with a lot of family animated features.  Coming out almost two months after ‘Cloudy 2’ should allow ‘Frozen to have a strong run at theatres, as long as it is a good film.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugDecember 13

hobbit

The first entry into the return to Middle Earth, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ met with lukewarm praise from critics and less than stellar word of mouth, yet still managed to go above $300 million in North America and over $1 billion worldwide.  As a result of the word of mouth situation, there is a possibly that the second entry in what is now a trilogy, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ could finish under those numbers.

That being said, for fans of the book and fans of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and books, the second instalment of ‘The Hobbit’ will give us our first look at the much teased design of the dragon Smaug, and being voiced by current mega-star Benedict Cumberbatch will help with the marketing.

Filmed in 48fps, one of the biggest knocks against ‘An Unexpected Journey’ was that at times it looked too fake, a result of the human eye not being used to the format it was shot in. ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ follows suit and getting over this hurdle will be critical for the success of this middle chapter.

Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesDecember 20

anchorman

I don’t know if there has ever been a more anticipated sequel to comedy ever, in the history of film.  The original ‘Anchorman’ was a modest hit in 2004 but has grown immensely in popularity since then, which will be a massive boon to the sequel and its chances at the box office.

While December is not know as a time of year for a comedy of this nature, ‘Anchorman 2’ will be used as counter-programming against the slate of Oscar-bait films that will be released around the same time period, so expectations will be high that the sequel will be able to pull in ‘The Hangover’ type numbers.

Jack RyanDecember 25

jackryan

Quite possibly the biggest unknown of all the films on this list, ‘Jack Ryan’ has no official trailer released yet, despite being scheduled for theatres just over three months from now. The title of the film is also rumoured to be changing, with a couple of prospective changes rumoured for almost a month now.

Should this film still see its Christmas Day release date, it would be the fifth film to feature the main character from a number of Tom Clancy espionage and world politics books, but as a reboot to feature a younger John Patrick Ryan with reboot expert Chris Pine in the title role.  An attempt by Paramount to get a second franchise rolling with a younger case, ‘Jack Ryan’ sadly is not based on any of the pre-existing books, which could make things unnecessarily cumbersome.  That being said, if done correctly, this could be a surprise hit for late 2013.

In the end, various companies such as Sony, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. are hoping to bolster their revenues late in the year with films such as these, and in a counter programming role, many of these films should have long profitable runs in theatres.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.