Recent Oscar winner Octavia Spencer is close to joining a hot-button film about the 2009 killing of a man in the Bay Area — at the hands of police.
Forest Whitaker is producing, with newcomer Ryan Coogler writing and directing. Fruitvale tells the story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man who was detained in 2009 by Bay Area police and ultimately shot in the back and killed, the latter of which was caught by many a cellphone camera. The February death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin is presumed to have had an impact on Fruitvale coming together so quickly.
Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, TV's Friday Night Lights) is in talks to play Grant, with Spencer portraying his mother. The actress, who earlier this year took home an Academy Award for her performance in The Help, has been hard at work on forthcoming movies, including the sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer and Diablo Cody's still-untitled directorial debut, both out next year.
Octavia Spencer Goes Sci-Fi for 'Snowpiercer'
Octavia Spencer's Oscar Plans: Post-Ceremony Plastic Surgery
Juilianne Hough Will Befriend Russell Brand in New Diablo Cody Film
This week’s Contagion is a different type of disease-disaster movie than we’re used to seeing: Simple germs more or less comprise the boogeyman, and the concept is actually steeped in plausibility. But the Steven Soderbergh thriller follows a long line of movies in which a disease or all-out epidemic wreaks havoc on the human race. Here are some of the most notable “disease-ter” flicks—not to be confused with the zombie genre or tearjerkers about one man’s losing battle with, say, AIDS. Thus no Night of the Living Dead. Or Philadelphia.
Here are a few of the standouts:
Although not the best disease movie overall, Outbreak has a similar feel to Contagion, in that it’s based on the spreading of what is supposed to be an actual disease. It arouses a visceral, real-life kind of terror, as opposed other movies of its ilk that rely on more conventional scare tactics.
28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later
It’s important to remember that the undead in this horror franchise are not technically zombies but rather “Rage”-afflicted non-beings. And on that technicality, both movies fit in this list—and have to be considered the best of their kind, especially Danny Boyle’s Days entry.
I Am Legend
It is, of course, difficult to consider a hyper-stylized Will Smith blockbuster part of a microgenre like this, but since I Am Legend is about a humanity-ending plague (you know, with the exception of the then-biggest movie star on the planet), it does qualify. Much to most people's surprise, the movie’s actually half decent.
A pre-Hostel Eli Roth had a blast with this gore-fest about a flesh-eating virus that afflicts a group of pretty young things lodging in a cabin. It’s uneven, to be sure, but as with all Roth offerings, there are a few images that still reside in our brains—namely that shot of the toothy, bloody, mangled mug of Jordan Ladd.
One of the most underappreciated movies in recent years (at least in our opinion), James Gunn’s Slither is a fun, hilarious, original and scary take on the alien-plague-gone-terrestrial concept. How the makeup job on Michael Rooker's plague-afflicted Grant Grant was not nominated for an Oscar will never be understood by the dozens of people who saw the movie.
Children of Men
It’s a bit of a stretch on this list, but Children of Men was so good that, after consulting with the judges, it was granted inclusion by the narrowest of margins. Besides, when infertility reaches such scary proportions, it’s an epidemic!
Terry Gilliam’s best movie not named Monty Python (or Brazil) depicts a kooky post-apocalyptic dystopia caused by virus—and a positively, never-better Brad Pitt. Well, maybe expect that True Romance performance.
The movie boasted a great, if horrifying, concept: An epidemic of "white sickness" breaks out, and it's easy to contract but impossible to cure. While nowhere near the novel on which it is based in terms of profundity and sheer impact, the big-screen version—whose subject matter is difficult to depict, for obvious reasons —is (no pun intended) visually stunning.
Some might argue that the "found footage" style employed by Quarantine is itself an epidemic, but it could also be argued that the movie—a shot-for-shot remake of the Spanish horror film REC about an unknown disease that causes its victims to turn bloodthirsty—is only watchable because of said gimmick.
Resident Evil Franchise
Even the most novice gamer could blindly recite the disease-y plotline of this videogame-to-movie adaptation: Amnesiac heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) and a group of Umbrella Corporation commandos are the world's only hope against the outbreak of the deadly T-Virus.
Two of the most prestigious independent film communities have recently each given their stamp of approval on independent cinema both past and future. Nominees for the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards were announced as was the lineup for the independent feature film and world cinema competitions for next year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Although each organization acknowledge and reward independent filmmaking, the two fetes are quite different. The Spirit Awards are more of a conventional awards show, which will be handed out March 4 in Santa Monica, California [for full coverage on the Spirit Award nominations, click here].
The Sundance Awards are the culmination of the 10-day festival (Jan. 19-29 in Park City, Utah) that showcases the films in contention for awards. Next year’s Sundance Film Festival lineup marks a return of sorts to the fest’s roots, by giving way to more fresh faces. The total number of submissions increased, resulting in a different and exciting format--the expansion of the world competition to include more international films.
Below are the films to be shown in the four competition sections:
American Dramatic Competition A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Director, screenwriter: Dito Montiel) Come Early Morning (Director, screenwriter: Joey Lauren Adams) Flannel Pajamas (Director, screenwriter: Jeff Lipsky) Forgiven (Director, screenwriter: Paul Fitzgerald) Half Nelson (Director: Ryan Fleck; screenwriters: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck) Hawk Is Dying (Director: Julian Goldberger; screenwriters: Harry Crews (novel), Julian Goldberger) In Between Days (Director: So Yong Kim; screenwriters: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray) Puccini for Beginners (Director, screenwriter: Maria Maggenti) Quinceanera (Director/screenwriters: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland) Right at Your Door (Director, screenwriter: Chris Gorak) Sherrybaby (Director, screenwriter: Laurie Collyer) Somebodies (Director, screenwriter: Hadjii) Stay (Director, screenwriter: Bob Goldthwait) Steel City (Director, screenwriter: Brian Jun) Stephanie Daley (Director, screenwriter: Hilary Brougher) Wristcutters: A Love Story (Director: Goran Dukic; screenwriters: Goran Dukic, Etgar Kerett)
American Documentary Competition:
A Lion in the House (Directors: Steven Bogner, Julia Reichert) American Blackout (Director: Ian Inaba) An Unreasonable Man (Directors: Henriette Mantel, Stephen Skrovan) Crossing Arizona (Director: Joseph Mathew) God Grew Tired of Us (Director: Christopher Quinn) Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends (Director: Patricia Foulkrod) Iraq in Fragments (Director: James Longley) Small Town Gay Bar (Director: Malcom Ingram) So Much So Fast (Directors: Steven Ascher, Jeanne Jordan) Thin (Director: Lauren Greenfield) 'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris (Director: Raymond De Felitta) The Trials of Darryl Hunt (Directors: Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg) TV Junkie (Director: Michael Cain) Wide Awake (Director: Alan Berliner) Wordplay (Director: Patrick Creadon) The World According to Sesame Street (Directors: Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Linda Hawkins Costigan)
World Cinema Dramatic Competition 13 Tzameti (Director, screenwriter: Gela Babluani), France Allegro (Director: Christoffer Boe; screenwriters: Christoffer Boe, Mikael Wulff), Denmark The Aura (Director, screenwriter: Fabian Bielinsky), Argentina The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Director: Auraeus Solito; screenwriter: Michiko Yamamoto), Philippines Eve & The Fire Horse (Director, screenwriter: Julia Kwan), Canada Grbavica (Director, screenwriter: Jasmila Zbanic), Bosnia-Herzegovina The House of Sand (Director: Andrucha Waddington; screenwriter: Elena Soarez), Brazil Kiss Me Not on the Eyes (Director, screenwriter: Jocelyne Saab), Lebanon Little Red Flowers (Director: Zhang Yuan; Screenwriters: Ning Dai, Zhang Yuan), China Madeinusa (Director, screenwriter: Claudia Llosa), Peru No. 2 (Director, screenwriter: Toa Fraser), New Zealand One Last Dance (Director, screenwriter: Max Makowski), Singapore The Peter Pan Formula (Director, screenwriter: Cho Chan-Ho), South Korea Princesas (Director, screenwriter: Fernando Leon de Aranoa), Spain Solo Dios Sabe (Director: Carlos Bolado; screenwriters: Carlos Bolado, Diane Weipert), Brazil/Mexico Son of Man (Director: Mark Dornford-May; screenwriters: Mark Dornford-May, Andiswa Kedama, Pauline Malefane), South Africa
World Cinema Documentary Competition 5 Days (Director: Yoav Shamir), Israel Angry Monk--Reflections on Tibet (Director: Luc Schaedler), Switzerland Black Gold (Director: Marc Francis, Nick Francis), U.K. By the Ways, a Journey with William Eggleston (Directors: Cedric Laty, Vincent Gerard), France Dear Pyongyang (Director: Yang Yonghi), Japan The Giant Buddhas (Director: Christian Frei), Switzerland Glastonbury (Director: Julien Temple), U.K. I is for India (Director: Sandhya Suri), England/Germany/Italy In the Pit (Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo), Mexico Into Great Silence (Director: Philip Groening), Germany Kz (Director: Rex Bloomstein), U.K. No One (Director: Tin Dirdamal), Mexico The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez (Director: Heidi Specogna), Germany Songbirds (Director: Brian Hill), U.K. Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst (Director: Gillian Armstrong), Australia Viva Zapatero (Director: Sabina Guzzanti), Italy