World War Two code-breaking drama The Imitation Game was the toast of the Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival on Friday (02Jan15) after landing two top awards. The movie, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as real-life war hero Alan Turing, was named Best Picture, while filmmaker Morten Tyldum picked up the Best Director accolade at the closing ceremony of the Italian event.
British veteran Timothy Spall was awarded Best Actor for his portrayal of 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner, while Jennifer Aniston (Cake) and Amy Adams (Big Eyes) tied for Best Actress.
Boyhood star Ellar Coltrane and Belle actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw were recognised as Rising Stars and Quartet's Eline Powell and Ryan Gage from The Hobbit were named Breakout Actors.
American Hustle director David O. Russell was feted with The Italian American Icon Award, while British actress Brenda Blethyn received a Lifetime Achievement honour and singer/songwriter Francesco De Gregori earned The Capri Legend Award.
Poland's official Oscars entry, Ida, was declared Best Foreign Film, while there were also honours for Birdman (Visionary Award), Boyhood (Family Award) and Disney film Big Hero 6, which was hailed as Animated Movie of the Year.
Were you paying attention to the big screen and all the Hollywood happenings in 2014? We thought we'd kick off the New Year with a quick look back over the last 12 months of WENN movie news and pose a few questions to one and all that might just help you recall some magical moments at the cinema, or some hot gossip from the year just gone.
The prize for the winner? Bragging rights and a front row seat to the 2015 Oscars in your own living room! Best of luck!
1. The Fault in Our Stars was based on a book written by which author?
a. John Green
b. John White
c. James Green
d. James Brown
2. What song did not feature on the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy?
a. I'm Not in Love
b. Mama Told Me Not to Come
c. Spirit in the Sky
d. Hooked on a Feeling
3. From which hit animated movie did the catchy tune Everything is Awesome come?
a. Muppets Most Wanted
b. The Lego Movie
c. How to Train Your Dragon 2
d. Mr Peabody and Sherman
4. Game of Thrones star Kit Harington starred in which epic disaster film based on true events?
b. 300: Rise of an Empire
5. The son of which longtime Hollywood couple starred alongside Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in 22 Jump Street?
a. Colin Hanks, son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
b. Oliver Hudson, son of Bill Hudson and Goldie Hawn
c. Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
d. Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn
6. Which of the following was not a cast member in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?
a. Andy Serkis
b. James Franco
c. Jason Clarke
d. Gary Oldman
7. Get On Up was a biopic based on the life of which legendary musician?
a. James Brown
b. Stevie Wonder
c. George Clinton
d. Smokey Robinson
8. Which Hollywood veteran portrayed the family matriarch in This Is Where I Leave You?
a. Anjelica Huston
b. Jane Fonda
c. Bette Midler
d. Dame Judi Dench
9. Which musical did The Amazing Spider-Man star Emma Stone make her Broadway debut in?
d. Les Miserables
10. Which one of these celebrities was NOT part of Ellen DeGeneres' famous 'selfie' taken during the 2014 Academy Awards?
a. Channing Tatum
b. Kevin Spacey
c. Matthew McConaughey
d. Jared Leto
11. Which actress celebrated her one-year wedding anniversary to her tennis pro husband on New Year's Eve?
a. Ashley Tisdale
b. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
c. Naya Rivera
d. Ginnifer Goodwin
12. Who will play the villain in the next James Bond movie?
a. Quentin Tarantino
b. Mark Strong
c. Christoph Waltz
d. Bryan Cranston
13. Which country do the two actors who played Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma come from?
14. Who rang in 2014 with Charlize Theron and has since become her boyfriend?
a. Sean Penn
b. Chris Pratt
c. Mark Wahlberg
d. Joaquin Phoenix
15. Name new mum Scarlett Johansson's daughter.
16. Which famous Jessica played Matthew McConaughey's grown-up daughter in Interstellar?
a. Jessica Alba
b. Jessica Biel
c. Jessica Chastain
d. Jessica Lange
17. Which Brit picked up the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May for his portrayal of grumpy artist J.W. Turner?
a. Colin Firth
b. Timothy Spall
c. Ray Winstone
d. Alan Rickman
18. What was the highest grossing movie of 2014?
a. Transformers: Age of Extinction
b. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
c. Guardians of the Galaxy
d. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
19. Which awards season favourite was filmed over 12 years?
20. In what film did Jennifer Lawrence debut her singing voice, scoring a chart hit all around the world?
a. Silver Linings Playbook
b. American Hustle
c. X-Men: Days of Future Past
d. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
21. What is the bestselling music soundtrack on iTunes this year?
c. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
d. Guardians of the Galaxy
22. He ended 2014 a newlywed with a hit movie, called The Theory of Everything. Name the British actor who married fiancee Hannah Bagshawe in England on 15 December.
a. Benedict Cumberbatch
b. Timothy Spall
c. Eddie Redmayne
d. Colin Firth
23. Why did model-turned-actress Milla Jovovich announce she was putting the next film in her Resident Evil franchise on hold in August?
a. Script problems
b. Financial issues
c. Her director husband Paul W.S. Anderson had abandoned the movie
d. She was pregnant
24. In 2014, this actor played Moses and became a new dad. Name him.
a. Joel Edgerton
b. Chris Pratt
c. Christian Bale
d. Mark Wahlberg
25. Another new dad, Chris Hemsworth, was named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 2014, but who's the lucky actress, the mother of his kids, who gets to cuddle up to him every night?
a. Eva Mendes
b. Elsa Pataky
c. Scarlett Johansson
d. Jessica Alba
Soul singer Claudia Lennear has been given a big career boost following her appearance in Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom - David Bowie has offered to write her next project. Lennear joined the likes of Darlene Love and Judith Hill in Morgan Neville's 2013 film, which followed the lives of backing singers to the stars, after previously working with artists including Ike and Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, George Harrison and Leon Russell.
She was also said to have inspired the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar hit in 1971 and Bowie's Lady Grinning Soul in 1973.
Lennear now reveals she recently reconnected with the legendary Space Oddity star days before Sunday's (02Mar14) Oscars ceremony and received a welcome proposal.
She tells the New York Post's Page Six column, "I got a call from David Bowie out of the blue... He told me he wanted to write my next project. I couldn't believe it when I first heard his voice. We haven't seen each other in 20 years."
She adds, "I am not sure what my next project will be... but I will definitely hold David to his promise."
20 Feet From Stardom was named Best Documentary, Feature at the Academy Awards.
British funnyman Russell Brand and musician Frank Turner are among a star-studded line-up of speakers booked to appear at the U.K.'s prestigious Cambridge University this year (14). The stars will both give a talk for the Cambridge Union Society along with former Libertines frontman Carl Barat and retired ballet legend Darcey Bussell.
The mostly male line-up, which features Bussell as the only female speaker, has drawn criticism from students, but the Union Society's president Imogen Schon has now vowed to book more women.
She says, "We have a fantastic line up of individual speakers, but I do regret the current lack of women in their number. As a result, we have been focusing on inviting female speakers for the past three weeks, in the hope of addressing the imbalance later in term."
Previous speakers at Cambridge University include Sir Ian McKellen, Clint Eastwood and the Dalai Lama.
A radio comedy featuring the voice of British star Benedict Cumberbatch has scored two nominations for the 2014 BBC Audio Drama Awards. Cabin Pressure will compete for the titles of Best Scripted Comedy and Best Scripted Comedy (Studio Audience) at the third annual London prizegiving on 26 January (14).
Other highlights among the nominees include Doctor Who: Dark Eyes, which is shortlisted for Best Online or Non-Broadcast Audio drama, and Simon Russell Beale, who has landed a nod for Best Actor in an Audio Drama for his work in Copenhagen.
The veteran thespian will be up against Lee Ross (King David) and Joseph Millson (The Real George Orwell: Jura), while Carly Bawden (The Color of Milk), Christine Bottomley (My Boy) and Marcia Warren (Tony and Rose) will fight for the Best Actress trophy.
Among the nominees for the Best Supporting Actor categories are Shaun Dooley (The Gothic Imagination: Frankenstein), Geoffrey Bretton (Imaginary Boys) and Eastenders soap star Lacey Turner (The One About the Social Worker).
Being Human brings you what you never knew you always wanted – The Real World with supernatural creatures. Who doesn’t want roommate drama escalating into murder, werewolf transformations, or ghostly lights flickering on and off? This series offers a smart take on the supernatural craze and delivers really great character development.
Annie Sawyer (Lenora Crichlow) is just a sweet-as-pie ingénue until her fiancé murders her. Now, she’s doomed to spend eternity in a sensible sweater-dress and jammies in her former dream house. Enter George Sands (Russell Tovey) and John Mitchell (Aiden Turner) two men who can see her because they are a werewolf and vampire, respectively. They decide to live together and try to be human...get it?
The series uses the supernatural as a metaphor for real life. John the vampire is addicted to sex and blood. George the werewolf second-guesses himself and his identity so he doesn’t live up to his potential. Annie puts everyone ahead of herself and needs to find her individuality. The series also expands to include George's girlfriend Nina (Sinead Keenan) who has to deal with changes of her own.
The show shifts the focus from the supernatural to the human concerns. It’s like Twilight or Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a Downton Abbey makeover. The adventure and fantasy take second place to the relationships.
The actors are also really amazing. Crichlow is instantly lovable and can be both fun and sweet but also edgy as a perky poltergeist. Tovey manages to be nerdy and anal retentive but dead sexy, no pun intended. He’s ripped and not afraid to run around naked, pre- and post-transformation. Turner channels his inner-rock-god as the guy you know you shouldn’t like but you do.
The four series of Being Human are available on Netflix as well as two seasons of the SyFy Channel’s American adaptation.
Ol' Dirty Bastard's widow has hit back at allegations she is to blame for the last-minute cancellation of a New York documentary screening about the late rapper, insisting organisers had known about her objections well in advance. Friends and fans of the tragic star, real name Russell Jones, had gathered at the Brooklyn Historic Academy of Music last week (15Nov13) to view Dirty: Platinum Edition, which was shot by the star's cousin, Stephon Turner, but the screening was halted moments before it was due to be unveiled after organiser Chris Kanik was served with a cease and desist order from estate lawyers, preventing him from airing the film.
However, Icelene Jones, who controls the Wu-Tang Clan star's estate, claims the event could have been axed at least two weeks earlier - as she had already made her feelings about the documentary known.
She tells XXL magazine, "It (the ban) wasn't a last minute thing. The communication has been very clear. The letter (cease and desist) didn't go out the day of; this is something that's been going back and forth for a while. And that's what they tried to make it seem like - like Icelene Jones messed up everybody's good time and stopped everybody from seeing the film."
Jones' manager, Melissa Jacobs, reveals estate officials had asked for money "up front" for permission to use ODB's likeness in the film, but Kanik refused, insisting they were motivated by "greed".
Jacobs adds, "We are the estate of Russell Jones, we have been appointed by the courts. You're using his birthday, you're using his picture, you're promoting this event... Then when we ask for compensation he's trying to make it sound like we're asking for something we're not entitled to have."
Ol' Dirty Bastard passed away in 2004 from a drug overdose.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.