OSCARS 2017 Predictions — Susan Granger

oscar logoEvery film year acts as a mirror & reflects the tenor of the times. When the Oscars began in 1929 to celebrate the motion picture industry, the winner was William Wellman’s anti-war “Wings.” The subsequent Depression years celebrated character studies like “Grand Hotel,” “The Great Ziegfeld” and “Rebecca.” After the turmoil of Kennedy’s assassination, the Academy chose light-hearted fare like “Tom Jones,” “My Fair Lady,” and “Oliver!” And in 2000, the last time a Republican won the White House, after losing the popular vote, “Gladiator” won the Oscar. Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

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DRIFTER — Review by Liz Whittemore

We’ve seen the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre played out time and again over the years. A family of cannibals who lures strangers into their home under the guise of helping a distressed member of their party. Add a little post-apocalyptic element and that’s essentially the plot of Chris von Hoffmann‘s new film Drifter. Read more on I SCREAM YOU SCREAM

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THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE — Review by Susan Granger

This inventive, animated spin-off of 2014’s “The LEGO Movie” astutely ridicules the Caped Crusader, beginning with the title sequence, since “All important movies start with a black screen.” In the opening scene, self-centered Batman (Will Arnett) protects Gotham City from a series of desperados, led by the demented Joker (Zach Galifianakis), then regales its citizens about his heroics. When he’s not crime-fighting, narcissistic Bruce Wayne lives in luxurious isolation with his loyal butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). After microwaving leftover lobster, Wayne watches ‘Jerry Maguire” in his Bat Theater – until he’s joined by eager orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News Wrap: EEOC action on Hollywood Studios, plus Burstyn and St. Vincent to Direct — Brandy McDonnell reports

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations initiated in 2015 have been concluded, and the commission has found that all Hollywood studios have systemically discriminated against female directors. The EEOC is reportedly attempting to resolve the charges made against the studios, but if they’re unable to do so, may file a lawsuit. Actress Ellen Burstyn, however, is not waiting to make her directorial debut. At age 84, she’ll helm her first feature, a comedy titled Bathing Flo. And experimental rocker St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) makes her directorial debut as part of XX, an all-female horror anthology that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month and arrived in theaters and on Video on Demand, Amazon Video and iTunes this Friday. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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PATERSON — Review by Susan Granger

Paterson (Adam Driver) is a New Jersey Transit bus driver in Paterson – they share the name. Paterson leads an orderly, routine life. Every day, he gets up early, kisses his wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), makes coffee and eats a bowl of Cheerios before walking to the bus depot. As he drives his No. 23 route around the city, he observes his disparate passengers and listens to snippets of their conversation. He comes home at the same time for dinner each night, walks their cranky English bulldog Marvin, and enjoys a beer at a corner bar. But his passion is writing poetry in a small notebook. Read on…

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WISH UPON — Preview by Liz Whittemore

What sets a horror film apart from all the others? A great trailer that engages fans’ curiosity, for one thing. But add another element for young fans to play with while waiting for said anticipated film? There’s your winner, and it’s Wish Upon. Read more on I SCREAM YOU SCREAM.

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THE GREAT WALL — Review by Susan Granger

Filmed entirely in China, this epic, $150 million action/adventure/fantasy was designed to stun the Western world like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000). Directed by Zhang Yimou (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers”), who orchestrated the opening and concluding ceremonies of Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Summer Games, it relates a 12th century Chinese legend. Riding on horseback through the Gobi desert, European mercenary William Garin (Matt Damon) and his sidekick Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) evade nomads in the rugged steppes while searching for “black powder”(gunpowder) which will change the future of war. Read on...

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 17-21: AMERICAN FABLE

American fable poster 2

Horror and fantasy film have long been a birthplace for emerging talent. Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Kathryn Bigelow, and Gareth Edwards – all cut their teeth in genre cinema before moving onto other things. Director Anne Hamilton is in fine company, and her new film American Fable emerges from this august tradition, trailing references aplenty. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ plus Chastain, Bening and Kidman get gigs and Women in Special Effects — Brandy McDonnell reports

Disney has announced that production on “Mary Poppins Returns,” the studio’s sequel to its 1964 “Mary Poppins,” has commenced at Shepperton Studios. The film stars Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt and Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. Directed by Oscar nominee, Emmy and DGA Awards winner Rob Marshall, the film is scheduled for a Dec. 25, 2018 release. Jessica Chastain is producing a TV series about NASA women. Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films has optioned Janice Y.K Lee’s The Expatriates for a TV series. Annette Bening joins the cast of FX’s Hurricane Katrina anthology series. And, women rule in special effects at Lucas’Industrial Light & Magic. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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Anne Hamilton talks Gender Politics, Career Moves and AMERICAN FABLE – Interview by Gill Pringle (Exclusive)

anne hamilton head 1Director Anne Hamilton was on a date with an agent after moving to Los Angeles three years ago, when he casually mentioned how female directors “paint better on small palettes”.

“I wanted to punch him!” recalls Hamilton, 32, whose debut feature film, American Fable is anything but small; a gothic-style suspense story presenting a desperate rural America rarely depicted on screen.

“I have a huge palette which I intend to use, and I want to be another female director who demonstrate that’s not the case,” says this protege of visionary film-maker Terrence Malick. Read on…

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