Category Archives: Industry News

Industry News: Avengers Endgame Trailer

The new trailer has arrived!

Industry News: NBR Top Films of 2018

The National Board of Review (NBR) announced its winners, including a list of 2018’s Top Ten Films, to be formally awarded January 8, 2019, in NYC. The inspirational ’60s race relations dramedy Green Book (first prize as best picture and for one of its leading men) and the music-filled romance remake A Star Is Born (three of the top acting prizes) have been crowned the new frontrunners of awards season, with Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply personal black and white foreign language film Roma a distant third place in terms of awards season momentum.

Many films’ Academy Awards chances are boosted by these accolades, but don’t count out buzzy royalty fantasia The Favourite, Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice, Steve McQueen’s struggling but spectacular heist drama Widows, Spike Lee’s neglected but brilliant BlacKkKlansman or late-year entry The Mule (not screened for NBR voters, and director/lead actor Clint Eastwood has had late-breaking films enter the fray before) to score nominations come Oscar time.

Faring well in today’s NBR nominations is popular streaming service Netflix, home of both The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and also the upcoming Roma. Both are now screening in select cities theatrically, and Buster Scruggs can be streamed right now. Little-seen indies from the first half of the year, First Reformed and Eighth Grade, plus blockbuster popular and critical hits from early this year, Black Panther and A Quiet Place, just picked up lots of momentum. Emily Blunt appears to be a factor in upcoming awards as love for both her films, A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns, seems apparent in these votes.

I’ve hyperlinked to movies reviewed on this site. Let the awards season begin!

Best Film: Green Book

Best Director: Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Best Actor: Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Best Actress: Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best Animated Feature: Incredibles 2
Breakthrough Performance: Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace
Best Directorial Debut: Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Best Foreign Language Film: Cold War
Best Documentary: RBG
Best Ensemble: Crazy Rich Asians
William K. Everson Film History Award: The Other Side of the Wind and They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: 22 July
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: On Her Shoulders

Top Films of 2018 (alphabetical, I presume we see these as the ten movies nipping at the heels of Green Book)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Eighth Grade
First Reformed
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
A Quiet Place
Roma
A Star Is Born

Top 5 Foreign Language Films
Burning
Custody
The Guilty
Happy as Lazzaro
Shoplifters

Top 5 Documentaries 
Crime + Punishment
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Top 10 Independent Films 
The Death of Stalin
Lean on Pete
Leave No Trace
Mid90s
The Old Man & the Gun
The Ride
Searching
Sorry to Bother You
We the Animals
You Were Never Really Here

Industry News: Fall Movie Preview 2018

From prestigious black and white arthouse movies generating awards talk to bubblegum hued adventures with personality bouncing off multiplex walls, the movies of autumn seek to capture your imagination. We’ve rounded up the most buzzworthy flicks to add to your binge list.

Costume dramas are all the rage as the weather gets cold, so expect Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz to duke it out as couture-clad cousins battling for attention during the 18th century reign of Queen Anne in The Favourite (Nov. 23) and Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie to rule the runway in the drama Mary, Queen of Scots (Dec. 7). Royalty comes in the form of glam rock with Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (Nov. 2), the story of another Queen, the band.

Music takes center stage as a grungy Bradley Cooper mentors (and also directs) a plain-faced Lady Gaga in A Star is Born (Oct. 5), the latest remake in a catalogue that has starred some women you may have heard of named Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. “Little Monsters” as well as those who couldn’t give a good Gaga about Gaga will likely equally gravitate to this hard-scrabble redemption story, filmed in and around Coachella music festival.  Others who like a spoonful of music with their story will want to fly away with Emily Blunt in the title role of Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns (Dec. 19), bringing whimsy, mischief and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda in tow and picking up where Julie Andrews left her umbrella in 1964.

Fast forward to the ‘70s for horror movie inspiration. Those who like their flicks frightful can enjoy original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis versus her nemesis Michael Myers in a direct sequel to 1978’s Halloween simply titled Halloween (Oct. 9). Suspiria (Nov. 2) is Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s1977 Italian horror film set at a European ballet school, and it’s one grand jeté of grisly death sequences to the next.

Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (Dec. 14) is also set in the ‘70s and is a semi-biographical take on a middle class family’s life in Mexico City. It’s black and white and the Gravity director’s next bid for Oscar glory. And talk about throwbacks! Michael B. Jordan, fresh off his villainous turn in Black Panther, puts on his boxing gloves and knockout emoting for Creed II (Nov. 21). This time he confronts the son of Ivan Drago, the notorious Russian fighter who gave Rocky a run for his ruble.

Those longing for times of less polarizing politics can enjoy Christian Bale as former Vice President Dick Cheney opposite Tyler Perry as Colin Powell in Adam McKay’s biopic Vice (Dec. 14), or you can simply swoon to the moon with Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in the historical drama First Man (Oct. 12). This film reuniting the star with his La La Land director who filmed much of the movie in Georgia.

It’s also a season of strong women taking action as Viola Davis leads an ensemble in Steve McQueen’s Widows (Nov. 2) featuring women attempting a heist after their criminal husbands are killed on a botched job. And Regina King desperately scrambles to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime while carrying their first child in Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk (Nov. 23).

Anguished teens are front and center as Steve Carrell nurtures Timothée Chalamet through opioid addiction recovery in Beautiful Boy (Oct. 12), and Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges confront homophobia in religious institutions in Boy Erased (Nov. 2).

Of course, some movies will simply be guilty pleasures, like A Simple Favor (Sept. 19) following a small-town blogger (Anna Kendrick) solving the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend (Blake Lively).  Ralph Breaks the Internet (Nov. 21) continues Wreck-It Ralph’s pixelated misadventures including encounters with Disney princesses whose frozen fractals add sass to the in-joke filled sequel. And no, it’s not an Entourage subplot, Aquaman (Dec. 21) is a real movie, with hunky Jason Momoa’s salty superhero teaming up with Fast & the Furious filmmakers to part the living seas out of your DC universe. To add some artiness, the ubiquitous Kidman plays his maritime mum. Let the floodgates and movie theatres hasten your arrival.

Photo Gallery: Ryan Gosling and Cast of First Man at TIFF

Everyone was swooning over actor Ryan Gosling at DIRECTV House presented by AT&T Monday afternoon at the Toronto International Film Festival. Gosling was rocking a NASA denim jacket to promote his leading role in Damien Chazelle‘s Neil Armstrong biopic film First Man, a major contender in awards season.

Here’s a gallery of pictures from inside the Variety Studio presented by AT&T with Damien Chazelle, Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler and Josh Singe.

Chazelle and Gosling previously collaborated on what could best be described as “Best Picture runner-up” La La Land, for which Chazelle won Best Director. First Man was filmed in part in Georgia.

Photos for Silver Screen Capture used with permission and credited to Charley Galley of Getty Images.

Photo Gallery: Atlanta: Robbin’ Season

Atlanta Robbin’ SeasonThe second batch of fresh small screen content featuring Donald Glover is “earnin’ high marks” and drops March 1, 2018, on FX. Silver Screen Capture contributor and photographer extraordinaire Terence Rushin lovingly shot this gallery of stars from Atlanta: Robbin’ Season as they strut on the red carpet of the titular city’s last standing drive-in movie theatre, The Starlight Six. The first season of the show exploded onto the scene in 2016, winning two Golden Globe Awards (for Best Series, Musical or Comedy, and Best Actor for Glover) and two Emmy Awards (for Lead Actor and Directing for a Comedy Series, both for Glover). When he’s not making fresh TV shows, Glover explores his alter ego rapper Childish Gambino and just wrapped his role as Young Lando in this May’s Ron Howard (!) film Solo: A Star Wars Story. Catch Atlanta: Robbin’ Season on a device near you.

Awards News: Golden Globe Movie Nominees Announced

Awards season is in high gear! The Golden Globe nominations were announced today and are seen as a precursor to Oscar glory for many prestige pics. The Golden Globes ceremony will be broadcast live on NBC on January 7, 2018. Here are the biggest vote-getters, by numbers of nominations.

The Shape of Water: 7
The Post:
6
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri:
6
Lady Bird:
4
All the Money in the World:
3
Call Me By Your Name:
3
Dunkirk:
3
The Greatest Showman:
3
I, Tonya:
3

Here’s a full list of the motion pictures up for awards this year. There are always a few curious nominees in a Golden Globes list. For instance, Get Out is competing in the comedy or musical category, I suppose because it is a biting satire. The Martian won in this category a few years back (it’s kinda the Island of Misfit Nominations category since the Hollywood Foreign Press divides its Best Picture nominees into two groups). Also notable is Christopher Plummer’s nomination for the re-shoots he did just weeks ago to replace and erase Kevin Spacey’s role in All the Money in the World. The biggest head-scratcher nomination is for the much-maligned The Boss Baby for Best Animated Feature, a slot many would have thought should go to The LEGO Batman Movie.

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Call Me by Your Name
Dunkirk
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

The Disaster Artist
Get Out
The Greatest Showman
I, Tonya
Lady Bird

Best Motion Picture (Animated)

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Ferdinand
Coco
Loving Vincent

Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama)

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Tom Hanks, The Post
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama)

Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Meryl Streep, The Post
Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes
Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Director (Motion Picture)

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Ridley Scott, All The Money in the World
Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Screenplay (Motion Picture)

The Shape of Water
Lady Bird
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Molly’s Game

Best Original Score (Motion Picture)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Phantom Thread
The Post
Dunkirk

Best Foreign Film

A Fantastic Woman
First They Killed My Father
In the Fade
Loveless
The Square

Best Original Song (Motion Picture)

Ferdinand – “Home”
Mudbound – “Mighty River”
Coco – “Remember Me”
The Star – “The Star”
The Greatest Showman – “This Is Me”

Industry News: Atlanta’s Out On Film 30 in 2017

Out On Film, Atlanta’s LGBT film festival, is celebrating its 30th year and has announced its programming of more than 120 feature films, documentaries, short films and web series. Out On Film 30 will take place September 28 – October 8 at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema, Out Front Theatre Company and the Plaza Theatre. Festival passes, three-pack and five-pack tickets and individual tickets are available now.

The opening night film is the LGBT film festival debut of Michael Patrick McKinley’s inspirational film Happy: A Small Film with a Big Heart. Star Leonard Zimmerman and director McKinley will be present at the screening. The closing night movie is Damon Cardasis’s Saturday Church, which has been described as a mixture of Moonlight and La La Land. A 14-year-old boy, struggling with gender identity and religion, begins to use fantasy to escape his life in the inner city and find his passion in the process. Star Luka Kain will be the closing night guest.

Other highlights of the festival include Trudie Styler’s Freak Show, about a boldy confident, wildly eccentric teenager who faces intolerance and persecution at his ultra conservative high school – and decides to fight back on behalf of all the misunderstood freaks of the world by running for the title of homecoming queen. The film stars Alex Lawther, Laverne Cox, Abigail Breslin and Bette Midler. Vincent Gagliostro’s After Louie stars Alan Cumming in a bravura performance as an AIDS activist and member of ACT UP in the 1980s and 90s who witnessed the deaths of too many friends and lovers but who finds an unexpected intimacy with a much younger man (Zachary Booth). And Tom Gustafon’s Hello Again is a film adaptation of Michael John LaChiusa’s celebrated musical, originally based on Schnitzler’s play ‘La Ronde,” about 10 lost souls who slip in and out of one another’s arms in a daisy-chained musical exploration of love’s bittersweet embrace. The film boasts an amazing cast – Martha Plimpton, Audra McDonald, Cheyenne Jackson, T.R. Knight, Rumer Willis, Sam Underwood, Jenna Ushknwitz, Tyler Blackburn, Al Calderon and Nolan Gerard Funk.

A variety of films in all sorts of genres are slated for the festival. Event passes are on sale through the website, and individual tickets and three-packs are available through Landmark Theatre’s ticketing.

Industry News: 2016 Oscar Predictions in Eight Major Categories

UPDATE: Moonlight was the upset Best Picture winner, and Casey Affleck prevailed as Best Actor in one of the most unusual awards ceremonies of recent years!

 

Original Story:

The countdown begins until Academy Awards weekend!  2016 ended up being a pretty good year for movies, with a slate of outstanding films vying for top honors Sunday night at the Oscars. Below are the nominations for the main prizes in acting, writing and directing along with my predictions of the expected winners.

Best Picture

The nominations are:

La La Land is a celebration of Hollywood and romance among films with heavier and darker themes. It has swept most of the precursor awards and is expected to win the top prize. If there is an upset, it could be crowd-pleasing Hidden Figures, a surprising box office hit with historic gravitas and an empowering message. Moonlight, Manchester, Hell or High Water and Arrival are my favorites. And I’m a loner in my tepid response to Lion, which is the only head-scratcher on the list.

Best Director

The nominations are:

This is likely a year when Best Picture and Best Director will match, thus a win for Damien Chazelle. After he emerged on the scene with the critically lauded Whiplash, his La La Land continued to make a profound mark in a great young career. Barry Jenkins also created a masterpiece with Moonlight, but it’s less showy.

Best Actress

The nominations are:

There’s talk of an Isabelle Huppert upset, but I’ll stick with a prediction for Emma Stone, who in her one-take “audition scene” transforms from everywoman to transcendent movie goddess. It was a great year for actresses, and I wish Annette Bening were in the mix for 20th Century Women.

Best Actor

The nominations are:

I’m on Team Affleck or Team Mortensen for their magnificent portrayals of unexpected dads, but my prediction is for Denzel Washington who acted and directed himself in August Wilson’s domineering daddy of a role in Fences. The chance to honor the actor with a third statuette and induct him into a rarefied pantheon of multiple winners seems enticing to the Hollywood chattering class.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominations are:

She campaigned in the wrong category, because Viola Davis would have won for lead or supporting actress for her role in Fences. She is superb. In a different year, we’d be toasting Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams for their wonderful working class performances, but Washington and Davis have an August Wilson script and Tony awards already and have been refining these immortal roles for a while.

 

Best Supporting Actor

The nominations are:

As the drug dealer with a heart of gold, Mahershala Ali appears in only the first third of Moonlight, but he is unforgettable. This could be an upset category for Dev Patel or any of the nominees, but Ali stands tall in a noble role and sends a strong anti-bullying message.

Best Original Screenplay

The nominations are:

This category is a great chance to honor Lonergan, a journeyman playwright and screenwriter who penned a corker of a script this year with Manchester by the Sea. Or, Academy voters could just check every box for the Hollywood musical. I predict Lonergan and Manchester in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominations are:

  • Arrival (Eric Heisserer, based on a short story by Ted Chiang)
  • Fences (August Wilson, adapted from his play)
  • Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly)
  • Lion (Luke Davies, based on the memoir A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose)
  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, based on the play by Tarell Alvin McCraney)

This category is a great chance to honor Moonlight; and if there is an upset in Supporting Actor, there should be a win here for this moving coming of age film. After last year’s #oscarssowhite, this year’s ceremony should bask in a bit more of the rainbow.Save

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Industry News: Atlanta Jewish Film Festival 2016 Awards

After 23 days and a record 202 screenings, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) celebrated its Closing Night on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017 with the announcement of its first-ever Jury Prizes, which were deliberated by an esteemed panel of filmmakers, journalists and experts. In addition, the festival revealed its annual Audience Award winners, which are set for a day of encore screenings in March.

The AJFF Inaugural Jury Prizes went to best Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature and Short, as well as the categories of Emerging Filmmaker, Building Bridges and Human Rights. The Emerging Filmmaker Prize was awarded to a rising creative talent whose film shows exceptional skill and artistry. The Building Bridges Prize honors the film that most exemplifies the mission of AJFF, informed by founder and partner American Jewish Committee, to foster understanding among communities of diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Rounding out the list is the Human Rights Prize, awarded to the film that most powerfully captures the perseverance and strength of those guided by a sense of justice in the face of bigotry, inequality, or persecution.

With the regular festival complete, upcoming AJFF programming includes special encore presentations of the 2017 AJFF Audience Award winning films on Sunday, March 5, at GTC Merchants Walk Cinema. Fanny’s Journey, the story of a brave, resourceful young girl who leads a small band of orphans through Nazi-occupied France, won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, while The Freedom to Marry, a thrilling and inspiring insiders’ look at the greatest civil rights movement of today, nabbed Best Documentary Feature. Winning the Audience Award for Best Short Film is Oscar®-nominated Joe’s Violin, the story of how a musical instrument unites a Holocaust survivor and a Bronx schoolgirl.

 

The complete list of the 2017 AJFF Jury Prize Winners is below. Each panel also included a film student juror from Emory University.

  • JURY CHAIR

    • Arik Sokol (Producer, Opus Media Productions)

 

 

Narrative Feature Jury Prize Winner: FANNY’S JOURNEY

The moving, beautifully realized story of a young Jewish girl, who led a group of children to safety during the Holocaust. Compellingly acted by young leads and elegantly directed by Lola Doillon, Fanny’s Journey adeptly balances the brightness of the human spirit with the darkness of its depravity.

 

Documentary Feature Jury Prize Winner: AIDA’S SECRETS

The affecting account of two long-lost brothers, one raised in Canada and the other in Israel, who discover each other and attempt to uncover the story behind their separation after the Holocaust. Both historical and deeply personal, Aida’s Secrets is a powerful human tale about the meaning of family.

 

 

Winner: Eran Kolirin for BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Beyond the Mountains and Hills shows an Israeli family in the throes of various crises that intersect in surprising and illuminating ways, giving us new insights into the contemporary Israeli landscape. The director seamlessly interweaves realistic and poetic imagery to create a cinematic picture of life at the edge of change.

 

  • BUILDING BRIDGES JURY

 

Winner: THE 90 MINUTE WAR

When all else fails, the unthinkable becomes plausible. The 90 Minute War depicts, in small and large ways, the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through its realistic characters and complex parallel narratives, the film illustrates — with occasional humor and nuanced wit — that anything besides compromise in this conflict would be absurd.

 

 

Winner: THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

This film is an insightful examination into the history behind the struggle for marriage equality. Even though viewers may well and probably do know the outcome, it keeps them engaged and invested in learning the critical journey and the key players in the extra-legal battle. The film helps the viewer understand both the legal process in taking a human rights case to the Supreme Court and the need to galvanize public opinion.

 

 

Winner: THE LAST BLINTZ

It is no easy feat to juggle themes such as gentrification, Jewish history, community activism and personal loss within the confines of a half hour. But that’s exactly what this film does, using the setting of an old New York establishment to explore the way memories come to define iconic locations to the point where change seems unthinkable — and then arrives, no matter how much resistance there is to stop it. For its ability to present a powerful ode to nostalgia and a wistful portrait of the march of time, we award our top prize to The Last Blintz.

More than 37,500 moviegoers attended the 2017 AJFF. The festival was thrilled to have successfully delivered an improved audience experience this year: more screenings of in-demand films, and at more convenient show times, translating to greater access and an improved onsite experience for all audiences. The experience furthers our mission to foster cultural understanding through the power of cinematic storytelling.

As always, AJFF’s guest speakers and panel discussions brought out the best of the 2017 lineup, including discussions with filmmakers, scholars, and other experts throughout the festival. The 2017 AJFF featured a range of international films that included a host of dramas, family-friendly fare, charming comedies, sports-themed films, and a variety of topical subject matter, overall considered by many to be the festival’s most well-rounded lineup to date.

For more information, visit AJFF.org, or stay connected via social media on Twitter @ATLJewishFilm and on Facebook and Instagram at /atljewishfilm.

AJFF’s mission is to entertain and engage diverse audiences with film through a Jewish lens. In so doing, AJFF fulfills its vision to inspire communities to new levels of social and cultural understanding. Seeking to use the power of film both to entertain and educate, AJFF challenges conventional perspectives on Jewish culture and history, life in Israel, and the work of Jewish artists—particularly where these stories intersect with other communities.

AJFF features an international collection of more than 70 narrative and documentary films (in both feature and short form) that connect with the Jewish experience. The festival brings to Atlanta major films representing more than two dozen countries each year. No screening is without a guest speaker or panel discussion, led by filmmakers, actors, authors, academics and/or other experts.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival was founded in 2000 by the Atlanta Regional Office of American Jewish Committee (AJC), a global advocacy organization that enhances the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel through education, outreach and diplomacy. Through the power and shared experience of cinematic storytelling, AJC and AJFF foster stronger bonds within the Jewish community, and intergroup relations with Atlanta’s diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities. Today, AJFF is an independent non-profit arts organization that continues an active partnership with its founding agency, American Jewish Committee.

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Feature Story: CDC in the Movies

Related: My radio interview on NPR/Georgia Public Broadcasting about CDC on the silver screen.

collageWhat do Elia Kazan, Robert Wise, George Romero, Wolfgang Petersen, Danny Boyle, Francis Lawrence, Steven Soderbergh and Ryan Murphy have in common? All have directed films about infectious diseases and health officials in hot pursuit of a cure. Whether it’s the fictional “Rage” of 28 Days Later or the virus transmitted from the hot zone in Outbreak or the real-life threat of HIV/AIDS addressed in And the Band Played On, Hollywood has been fascinated with the depiction of epidemics and pandemics on celluloid. On this 70th anniversary of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), media outlets such as NPR are examining the portrayal of health organizations in the movies. There’s even an organization called Hollywood Health & Society dedicated to expert information for storylines in the movies and on TV. They’ve consulted on NCIS and The Walking Dead and have been instrumental in shaping realistic portrayals of diseases and those who handle them in multimedia. Epidemics in the movies have run parallel to McCarthyism, to the fallout from Vietnam, from skepticism in the ’80s to survivalist Y2K mentalities to globalization in modern day. Pod people and zombies have often been stand-ins for the emerging threats. I highly recommend Contagion as a hyper-real film whose makers partnered with actual CDC officials to showcase a disease taking shape and transmitting through fomites and The Normal Heart about the struggles of a protagonist to coax government officials to confront AIDS head-on. And if you can find some of these cult movies and curiosities, check out Miss Evers’ Boys, The Andromeda Strain, The Crazies, Panic in the Streets, 12 Monkeys, I Am Legend and John Greyson’s Zero Patience, a Canadian musical about AIDS partially set in a fictional locale called The Hall of Contagion. With varying levels of accuracy, films featuring disaster, disease and dystopian futures wouldn’t be the same without scientists in hazmat suits applying their own brand of heroism.

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Industry News: 40th Anniversary Atlanta Film Festival 2016

atlanta-film-marquee

The 40th Annual Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) has announced the full lineup of film, educational and special programming and events that will take place from April 1 – 10, 2016.

Of the nearly 5,000 film submissions for the 2016 festival, the final lineup includes 51 feature length films and 100 short films representing 37 countries. The ten-day event will be highlighted with Opening and Closing Night presentations and galas, eight Marquee screenings events, 37 Creative Conference events and over a dozen unique Special Presentations and events.

Scheduled talent appearances, including director Rob Burnett (The Fundamentals of Caring), actors Tyler Hoechlin, Blake Jenner and Ryan Guzman (Everybody Wants Some!!), director Chad Hartigan (Morris from America) and actor Wendell Pierce (HBO’s Confirmation), will also take place throughout the festival.

From more than two dozen films with production or filmmaker ties to Georgia to anniversary-themed editions of beloved annual ATLFF events such as “Food On Film,” the 2016 fest will celebrate more than four decades of film and educational programming in the state of Georgia.

The Atlanta Film Festival is the annual centerpiece of educational and enriching film programing that is atlanta film festival2provided year-round by parent organization, the Atlanta Film Society.

Christopher Escobar, ATLFF Executive Director said, “We’re working harder than ever to hold our festival in places unique to Atlanta. In everything from retro film presentations to special homecoming guests and original branding, we’re paying homage to the last four decades. And like our founders set out to be in 1976, we’re especially committed to creating an opportunity for independent voices to be heard and celebrated.”

For more information about the Atlanta Film Festival and full schedule of film screenings and events, visit www.atlantafilmfestival.com. Passes for the festival are available for purchase now on the website. Individual screening tickets are now on sale.

Industry News: The 2016 Oscar Winners

imagedolbytheatreThanks again to Dolby Laboratories for sponsoring my time in Hollywood to cover the Oscars.

Here is the full list of winners of the 2016 Academy Awards, with hyperlinks to my reviews on this blog:

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

My sentimental favorite and the prohibitive favorite through most of the awards season until the past few weeks, the true-life journalism crackler Spotlight, wins in an upset. First journalism film to ever claim the prize! And the producers proclaim they hope the Pope gets the message that abuse must end.

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson, Room

After winning last year for Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu scores for a second year in a row for The Revenant. An epic story well-told and a move well-made by a beloved auteur of Hispanic descent stands out among the smaller dramas. Plus, he makes moviemaking look incredibly exciting!

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Matt Damon, The Martian

Although he got to flex his acting muscles even more in The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio suffered for his art this year and wins his belated Oscar for The Revenant. The biggest roar of excitement and in the Dolby Theatre happened for this long-awaited victory.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Brie Larson, absolutely the favorite for Room with no close second, wins! Brie is great in the role and beloved on the Hollywood scene. Did you know she also played Amy Schumer’s sister in this year’s summer comedy hit Trainwreck?

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance pulls off one of the great upsets in Oscar history with a wonderful performance that is the elegant definition of a perfect supporting performance. Sly fans across the world gasped, and Mark Rylance became a much-Googled phrase.

Best Supporting Actress
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

It-Girl Alicia Vikander wins for The Danish Girl. Her role in the film was actually the female lead plus there are many fans of her work in the sci-fi film Ex Machina, also released this past year. She does a lovely, dare I say fierce job in both.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Drew Goddard, The Martian
Nick Hornby, Brooklyn
Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, The Big Short
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Emma Donoghue, Room

Folks were impressed with the topical dark comedy The Big Short and the ability of a comedy writer/director – Adam McKay – to bring such panache to a story about the housing crash. This is the buzzy film’s only win.

Best Original Screenplay
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen, Bridge of Spies
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen, Inside Out
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Berloff, Straight Outta Compton

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer developed the true story Spotlight without any source material, which is unusual for a film of this type. It is a great film and will at least be rewarded in this category. This is one of just two wins for the Best Picture.

Best Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul (Hungary)
Mustang (France)
A War (Denmark)
Embrace the Serpent (Colombia)
Theeb (Jordan)

Son of Saul is a searing masterpiece that could have easily snuck into the overall Best Picture race. Hopefully this win raises visibility for a great film.

Best Documentary Feature
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse, captured the most acclaim and buzz this year and won.

Best Animated Feature
Inside Out
Anomalisa
Shaun of the Sheep
When Marnie Was There
Boy and the World

Inside Out, an expected candidate for Best Picture that didn’t make that cut, prevails. And its makers challenge everyone to channel emotions into writing and art!

Best Film Editing
Hank Corwin, The Big Short
Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
Stephen Mirrione, The Revenant
Tom McArdle, Spotlight
Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mad Max: Fury Road is the adrenaline-soaked action spectacular of the year. Its editing was fast and, well, furious.

Best Original Song
“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
Music and lyrics by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville, and Stephan Moccio
“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
Music by J. Ralph and lyrics by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song #3” from Youth
Music and lyrics by David Lang
“Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground
Music and lyrics by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
“Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre
Music and lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Sam Smith follows a recent Adele win for a song for James Bond. He invokes a little bit of revisionist history about what a pioneer he is that Dustin Lance Black and Elton John might dispute.

Best Original Score
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Carter Burwell, Carol
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies

Score one for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight with veteran composer Ennio Morricone taking home the prize for the writer/director’s peculiar revisionist western.

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Edward Lachman, Carol
Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight
Roger Deakins, Sicario
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road

For wide open expanses, bear attacks and generally amazing cinematography, Emmanuel Lubezki wins for The Revenant. Plus, he makes history as the first cinematographer to win three years in a row after Gravity and Birdman.

Best Costume Design
Sandy Powell, Carol
Sandy Powell, Cinderella
Paco Delgado, The Danish Girl
Jenny Beavan, Mad Max: Fury Road
Jacqueline West, The Revenant

Despite the beauty of many of the period costumes, it’s Jenny Beavan’s renegade post-apocalyptic couture of Mad Max: Fury Road that’s the stuff of pure imagination.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The ruggedness and bear-inflicted wounds of The Revenant are one-upped by the gonzo desert ampitheatre of Mad Max denizens. Prediction here is Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
The Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
The Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
The Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Let’s give another to Mad Max, you know, “because.” The “below-the-line” technical awards nearly all go to Mad Max

Sound Editing
Mark Mangini and David White, Mad Max: Fury Road
Oliver Tarney, The Martian
Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender, The Revenant
Alan Robert Murray, Sicario
Matthew Wood and David Acord, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Another for the motorcycles and mayhem of Mad Max!

Sound Mixing
Benjamin A. Burtt, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ben Osmo, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, Mad Max: Fury Road
Mac Ruth, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor, The Martian
Chris Duesterdiek, Frank A. Montaño, Jon Taylor, Randy Thom, The Revenant
Drew Kunin, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Bridge of Spies

And how Mad Max blended breakneck noises into one of the most singular sonic soundscapes of the year!

Visual Effects
Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett, Ex Machina
Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams, Mad Max: Fury Road
Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner, The Martian
Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer, The Revenant
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ex Machina wins in an upset! Also a rare female winner in this category. Shows how much the Academy wanted to reward this visionary android romance thriller with Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander.

Best Short Film, Live Action
Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont, Ave Maria
Henry Hughes, Day One
Jamie Donoughue, Shok
Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage, Stutterer
Patrick Vollrath, Everything Will Be Okay (Alle Wird Gut)

Stutterer prevails.

Best Short Film, Animated
Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Bear Story! Some voters will think this is about The Revenant too. Great speech by the winners.

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Body Team 12, David Darg and Bryn Mooser
Chau, Beyond the Lines, Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Adam Benzine
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Last Day of Freedom, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

A Girl in the River prevails. Great spotlight on justice for women, and it caused a law to be changed in Pakistan.

Look forward to covering the movies of the year ahead! Thanks for reading, and I’m signing off from Hollywood! Thanks to Dolby for sponsoring my trip to the Oscars.