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"My goal was to create a movie that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving." One of my favorite films of the year is called Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen as the father of a family he is raising to be "philosopher kings" without the toxic influences of modern society. I first saw it at the Sundance Film Festival and flipped for it, calling it "profoundly intelligent" in my review and including it as one of my favorite films of that festival. The film later went on to play at the Cannes Film Festival, where I saw it again (I really, really love this film) and luckily had the chance to meet up with writer/director Matt Ross for an interview. Ross is most well known as an actor, appearing on "Silicon Valley" as Gavin Belson, but he's also a filmmaker - this is his second feature film (after 28 Hotel Rooms) and it's truly wonderful.
Three cheers for art house cinemas! Following in the footsteps of Record Store Day and Free Comic Book Day, an annual event will be taking place this September called "Art House Theater Day". This special celebration of art house / independent cinemas will take place on September 24th, and this will be the inaugural year. The event has its own official website with details and theater listings, but we're not exactly sure if it will involve free screenings of movies. Maybe, but it's up to every individual theater to figure out what they're doing for AHTD. We've always been big supporters of art house cinemas and movie theaters of all sizes, and it's great to see a nationwide coordinated event to celebrate them. Add it to your calendar now.
"We have no control of time. Except, of course, you're a filmmaker." There's an excellent new video essay made by Julian Palmer to check out, this one all about the use of slow motion. The video examines the slow motion work in films ranging from Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957) to many of Scorsese's films including Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976) to recent films like Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009), Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker (2008), Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive (2011) and Pete Travis' Dredd (2012), which had a crazy cool slo-mo storyline. Of course there's the scene in The Matrix, because it's so iconic. There's plenty to admire and plenty to learn in this video essay on slow motion, so check it out.
David Fincher is one of my favorite filmmakers still working today. He's a master of style and storytelling, with ten excellent films under his belt so far. Video editor Jacob Swinney has put together a new video essay taking a closer look at Fincher's extreme close-ups (he's made videos on Tarantino's "ECUs" and PTA's "ECUs", too). Featuring footage from all ten of Fincher's films, from Alien 3 to Se7en to Fight Club to Zodiac to The Social Network to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to Gone Girl, it shows how Fincher uses these close-ups to add extra context to the stories he's telling and the characters he's following. They're sometimes subtle or they can be quite powerful, focusing on a very important detail at the moment. Take a look below.
"Only in filmmaking do you have time limitation in certain stages of production, while you would never restrain a painter, or a musician, or a novelist from taking the time he needs…" At Berlinale in February, I had the honor of meeting and interviewing the very talented French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve. I first became a big fan of Mia Hansen-Løve after catching her film Father of My Children at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, and I've followed her career closely ever since. I most recently loved her film Eden, we featured it recently on our 19 Best Movies You Didn't See list. Her latest film, Things to Come (also called L'avenir), stars Isabelle Huppert as a woman dealing with major changes in her life. After following her for so long it was a major moment in my own career to sit down and talk with her about making great films.
The 88th Academy Awards are upon us and it's time to watch the show and discover the winners of the most prestigious award in Hollywood. The Oscar ceremony is being broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood with the esteemed Chris Rock as our host of the show this year. With eight worthy Best Picture nominees, it should be exciting to find out which one is the big winner. It has been a very interesting year - no one knows for sure what will win, it could be anyone. Will Mad Max reign supreme or will Iñárritu top again? It's finally time to find out who is taking home an Oscar, and who isn't, at the Academy Awards. The full list below will be updated with winners marked once announced live tonight - refresh for updates.
Read on for a complete list of #Oscars2016 nominees & winners. Let us know what you think of the results!
This will be updated throughout the night to reflect the winners as revealed. Additionally, I might be adding a small bit of editorial commentary beneath each category. Winners are highlighted in BOLD below.
What a year so far. I had an amazing time at Berlinale this year. Not because all of the films were amazing, but because I met incredible people in Germany. I even met a very nice guy who works in film distribution while riding the train from Berlin down to Prague on my way out, and we talked for hours about films and distribution in the Czech Republic (where he works). Over the last week, I've encountered and talked with so many wonderful people - discussing films and the world. This is what festivals are all about, bringing people together, encouraging discussion. And yes - there are films to see. Plenty of them. I saw a grand total of 16 feature films at the Berlin Film Festival this year - here's my final recap with thoughts on each one below.
The best of the best - that you didn't see last year. We have returned with another set of worth watching, underseen films from 2015. Back again is our ninth annual list of the 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2015 (past lists here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007). Featured below is a hand-picked line-up of the best independent and/or mainstream films that were either quietly dumped, ignored by audiences, or just not marketed well enough. So to give them extra attention in the spotlight, and to support some of the finest filmmakers out there, here is our best of 2015 recap. Read on for the full list!
"With comedy, the rules are always changing. I don't even know any of the rules. It's probably better to not even know the rules." I love Taika Waititi's movies. At my very first Sundance in 2007, I flipped for a little New Zealand comedy called Eagle vs Shark. It was my first introduction to Taika Waititi and actor Jemaine Clement, and I've been a fan of both ever since. Ten years later and Taika is back at Sundance with his latest film, titled Hunt for the Wilderpeople, an adventure in the New Zealand bush starring Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. The film was one of my favorites of the festival, it's hilarious and so much fun to watch. I'm looking forward to the film opening in theaters so everyone else can see it and enjoy it, too.
In production now is Luc Besson's biggest sci-fi epic since The Fifth Element and I am crazy, crazy excited for it. I don't know if it's going to be any good, but I'm just really happy that Luc Besson is making another big, huge sci-fi space opera movie. Valerian, originally titled in full Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets, stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne (seen below) as time-traveling agents investigating a galactic empire. Besson started filming in January and has been posting photos every day to his Instagram. They're shooting for 115 days in total, with 420 crew members working on the production in France (via Instagram). None of these photos are major reveals, but I love that filmmakers are open to sharing images while they're in the middle of making a move. It's exciting to get a glimpse of the process. Take a look below.
"Why don't we have more of a riotous disposition toward injustice?" I had a good feeling about this before the festival even started. At the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, The Birth of a Nation won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize, and was picked up by Fox Searchlight in a record-breaking sale. This powerful film is the directorial debut of actor Nate Parker, who not only stars in and directs the film, but he also wrote the screenplay and produced it as well. I had the honor of meeting Nate after his premiere and talking with him for 10 minutes about making the film and returning to Sundance as a filmmaker, not just an actor. It's one of the best interviews I've had at Sundance - he's so intelligent and delightful to talk with.
"There is no limited to what desperate men will do when pushed." Today FirstShowing gets to exclusively debut a new TV spot for John Hillcoat's heist film Triple 9, starring an impressive cast including Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr. and Chiwetel Ejiofor. This TV spot focuses primarily on Kate Winslet's character, who provides most of the dialogue heard in this, seemingly being one of the main coordinators behind the heist. Winslet is also nominated for an Oscar this year. There's quite a bit of intriguing footage in this, but I'm still excited to see the film. "It is about brothers betrayed by the secrets they keep for others." Watch it below.
"The poet might know what he wanted to write, but he will never know what he wrote…" Whether or not you like the film, Iñárritu's The Revenant is an example of filmmaking at its finest. The intense attention-to-detail, filming only with natural light at the right time of the day (and the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki), the amount of work that went into making it, the performances, it's all extraordinary. To celebrate this achievement, 20th Century Fox has released an extensive 45-minute documentary about the making of the film that they say uncovers "the parallel between the lost era and its relevance for our world today." If you truly want to appreciate how hard it was to make this film, and get a glimpse into the process of making a feature film, this is a must-see documentary. Plus it's fascinating to hear so much from Iñárritu directly.
This year's Oscar race for Best Cinematography is really all about two of the finest cinematographers working today - Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, and Roger Deakins. While the rest of the nominees are also very talented, it will be one of these two taking home the golden statue. As an avid photographer, I have an immense appreciation and respect for the art of cinematography. There were some truly gorgeous films in 2015, including The Revenant which was shot using only natural light. This video mash-up features some of the very best shots from all five of this year's Best Cinematography nominees. It's breathtaking to watch.