Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees

This year (just like last year), nearly every single writer nominated in this category will be attending the Academy Awards for the very first time. In fact, the only writer in this year’s group that has ever been nominated before is Paul Thomas Anderson (he has received three previous writing nominations), nominated this year for Inherent Vice. The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Adapted Screenplay:

Damien ChazelleWINNER: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Damien Chazelle (also the director of Whiplash) adapted this screenplay from his screenplay for a short film of the same name. Chazelle has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)

Anthony McCartenAnthony McCarten adapted this screenplay from Jane Wilde Hawking’s book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. McCarten has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Jason Hall (American Sniper)

Jason HallJason Hall adapted this screenplay from the autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, co-written by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwan, and Jim DeFelice. Hall has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)

Graham MooreGraham Moore adapted this screenplay from Andrew Hodges’s book Alan Turing: The Enigma. Moore has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)

PTAPaul Thomas Anderson adapted this screenplay from Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name. Anderson has previously been nominated for three Academy Awards in writing categories: Best Original Screenplay (Boogie Nights and Magnolia) and Best Adapted Screenplay (There Will Be Blood).

Top Three Most Disappointing Films of 2014

INHERENT VICE

Don’t you hate when you go to see a movie that you are expecting to be awesome, and then it turns out to be absolutely dreadful? Well, that happened to me numerous times in 2014, but on three specific occasions, the difference between my expectations and the eventual outcome of viewing those films was far worse than I could have ever expected. These three movies were not the worst that I saw in 2014, but they were by far the most disappointing.

Inherent Vice

INHERENT VICEPaul Thomas Anderson’s seventh feature film Inherent Vice was a movie that I was expecting big things from. In my “Fall Preview 2014” posts, I had it listed among the top ten films that I was most looking forward to. This is because PTA is one of the five greatest living directors, and I have overwhelmingly enjoyed every single one of his movies to date. Well, that was until Inherent Vice. Despite an unbelievably talented cast, including Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Katherine Waterston, Benicio del Toro, Owen Wilson, and Martin Short, the story turned out to be far too convoluted for even those Hollywood superstars to reconcile. I never once bought into any of his characters—I felt no sympathy for, nor any connection to, them. The screenplay did not seem to flow well at all, and it did not have enough to keep me interested. I still believe PTA is more than capable of making another masterpiece like Boogie Nights or There Will Be Blood, but unfortunately Inherent Vice turned out to be a major setback in that pursuit.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

TGBHI love Wes Anderson’s movies. Some people do not buy into his films because they think his filmmaking style is simply “quirk for the sake of quirk,” and even though I agree that his eccentricity is a bit heavy-handed at times, I still personally enjoy his movies. They always have a fun, interesting storyline that is delineated through the work of seriously talented actors, and his distinct stylistic approach to the film’s visuals are truly a work of art. However, with The Grand Budapest Hotel, I was bitterly disappointed. Yes, it had all of the amazing visual effects, production design, makeup and hairstyling, and music you can always expect from the 45-year-old Texas native, but the story was atrocious in my opinion. His attempt at making the movie humorous fell dreadfully flat, and for the first time, I felt his movie was boring. I never once felt engaged with the plot, and a quarter of the way through, I wanted nothing more than for it to be OVER! How on earth this movie is tied for the most Oscar nominations this year is FAR beyond me.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

n-A-MILLION-WAYS-TO-DIE-IN-THE-WEST-TRAILER-large570The hit sitcom Family Guy suffers severely from over-repetitive jokes and gags—anything funny that creator Seth MacFarlane happens upon in his show is ruined by this misused style. However, when MacFarlane released Ted in 2012 (his first feature film), I began to believe in him as a comedian. Ted had all the best parts of Family Guy without the regrettably added horse manure that makes his TV show so extraordinarily unwatchable. Ted is one of my favorite comedies from the past few years, and thus, I was expecting more comedic genius from MacFarlane with his second film A Million Ways to Die in the West. “Expecting” is the key word—this movie was about as enjoyable as a hangover. He reverted back to his unreservedly detestable storytelling techniques of the Peter Griffin clan, and his film fails because of it. The jokes drag on way too long, and with every passing second, MacFarlane’s humor loses any luster it once had. I hate to be so childish and simplistic, but the storyline was just stupid. Charlize Theron is definitely not meant for a movie like this (what a casting error that was), and the only bright spot was Neil Patrick Harris singing about moustaches. The Ted 2 trailer just came out, and although I find it funny, I am not holding my breath for its release because of the utter failure of A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Fall Preview 2014: No. 10 – No. 6

Fall Preview 2014 6-10 Photo

I hope everyone found the Honorable Mentions post yesterday enjoyable. It is always a fun post as it truly gets this vital film season rolling. Today’s post reveals films No. 10 through No. 6 on my list of Top 10 most anticipated movies coming out during the fall season.  This batch includes some potential heavy hitters, and if you are looking for a great movie to go see in theaters in the next few months, this post will give you some top-notch options among the films that look most poised for success.


No. 10 – Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice is a crime noir set in the psychedelic period of the 1970s, which follows Private Investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and, according to Entertainment Weekly, chronicles his search for answers in the “disappearance of his ex-girlfriend’s wealthy boyfriend.”

Inherent Vice 2At first glance, this film does not appear to have much to offer in terms of high-levels of anticipation—and that is because the plot currently known to the public is entirely vague, and a trailer still does not exist. Notwithstanding this mystery, the movie is regarded as one of the most likely films to receive critical success because of numerous factors, namely its director: Paul Thomas Anderson. PTA is one of my favorite filmmakers around, and furthermore, I believe he is one of the best at what he does (most film nerds share this sentiment). His filmography is impeccable, and the fact that he is back behind the camera is enough of a reason for me to salivate with eagerness.

In addition to P.T. Anderson, the cast is as accomplished as it gets. The film features the likes of Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio del Toro. It is sure to be a genius film, and the film’s spot at No. 10 on this list is ONLY because very few details have been released. Inherent Vice is set for a theatrical release on December 12, 2014.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Her), Josh Brolin (Guardians of the Galaxy, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), and Katherine Waterson (Manhattan Romance, Night Moves).

Trailer: none currently available

No. 9 – The Judge

In The Judge, big-shot attorney Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his small hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. The trip is notably momentous for Palmer because for decades, he has been estranged from his father, a well-respected local judge. As if the awkward reuniting between father and son is not arduous enough, Palmer learns that his father is being accused of a fatal hit-and-run accident.

As a second-year law student and life-long aspiring attorney, it is not the least bit surprising that legal films like this have always tickled my fancy. However, I have always strayed away from the law movies that lack any heartfelt drama outside of the courtroom—The Judge does not appear to be one of those.

The Judge 2From the box-office success of the Iron Man franchise, I say this with full confidence that I am in the majority: I buy into Downey’s charisma on the screen. He has his own style and always impresses in his performances, and for this, I am definitely looking forward to this film. I am also excited to see him beside Robert Duvall, an elder statesman in Hollywood with a storied career. I am hopeful that these two silver-screen heavyweights will carry the film with esteem, and if the trailer is of any worth, it appears they have. The Judge is set for a theatrical release on October 10, 2014.

Director: David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers, The Change-Up)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers, Iron Man 3), Robert Duvall, (Jack Reacher, A Night in Old Mexico), Vera Farmiga (Safe House, The Conjuring), and Vincent D’Onofrio (The Break-Up, Charlie Countryman).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBvK6ni97W8

No. 8 – The Equalizer

The Equalizer (adapted from the 1980s TV show of the same name) follows Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), a man with a mysterious past and a wealth of combat skills who wishes now to lead a quiet life. However, when he befriends a young prostitute named Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is nearly killed by a mob of Russian gangsters, his thirst for justice reemerges in hopes of rescuing her.

The Equalizer 2This movie looks good. Really good. And if the Taken-like trailer does not do enough for you, I am sure this will: Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington. The last time the two collaborated was in 2001, when Washington played the Oscar-winning role of Detective Alonzo Harris in Fuqua’s masterful directorial effort Training Day. That film was one of my favorites of all time, and even though Fuqua has not had similar commercial or critical success since, I am highly optimistic about the potential for The Equalizer to lift the 48-year-old director back into Hollywood relevance.

I am also eager to see Moretz playing the supporting character in this movie. Ever since I saw her completely own her scenes in (500) Days of Summer as a 12-year-old, I knew she had a special career ahead of her. So far she has not disappointed, and now she has the chance to take command of a complex role in what is sure to be a fall blockbuster. The Equalizer is set for a theatrical release on September 26, 2014.

Director: Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen)

Starring: Denzel Washington (Flight, 2 Guns) and Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie, If I Stay).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt0GkVZK8zA

No. 7 – The Interview

In The Interview, two famous journalists are hired by the CIA to conduct an exclusive interview with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s tyrannous leader. But the trip is not about the interview at all—the two are specifically tasked with carrying out an assassination on the crazed despot.

The Interview 2With the rioting success of every single one of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s past collaborations, it goes without saying that this movie will most unquestionably live up to the hype in terms of comedic quality. It is also reunites Rogen and James Franco, an on-screen duo that has been making the world laugh for the past few years in blockbuster comedies like Pineapple Express and This Is the End. There it is—the scene is set for another hilarious installment in the young, but storied comedic careers of these three gentlemen. So what else is there to get excited about?

The answer is this specific plot and the controversy that has followed. With the exception of masterminds Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park, Team America: World Police), no one else would dare insult such a trigger-happy autocrat on a worldwide scale—but Goldberg, Rogen, and Franco have done just that. The Interview 3But in this film, the funnymen take their gag one step further by attempting to assassinate the real-life dictator. Naturally, the North Korean leader and his posse (those left that have not been executed already, that is) are not happy about the film’s release, even though Kim Jong-un will reportedly watch it. I find the entire ploy an act of a group of men with some serious cojones. Moreover, I cannot wait to watch it myself! The Interview is set for a theatrical release on December 25, 2014.

Director: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (This Is the End).

Starring: James Franco (Pineapple Express, This Is the End), Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, This Is the End), Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls, Masters of Sex), and Randall Park (The Five-Year Engagement, Sex Tape).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj3uHftd5FQ

No. 6 – The Drop

The Drop 3The Drop tells the story of a Brooklyn bartender named Bob (Tom Hardy). The bar Bob works at serves as a location for mob-related “money drops”—a means of illegally funneling cash. According to Fox Searchlight, “under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini),” Bob soon finds himself at the heart of a robbery-gone-wrong, and a subsequent investigation threatens to dig up the past secrets of his community.

Like most films on these Fall Preview lists, The Drop appears to be one of the better movies slated for a release this fall for multiple reasons. First, the fact that Tom Hardy is in the leading role feverishly adds to my interest in this film. Hardy is quickly becoming my favorite actor in modern cinema, and it is because with every single movie, he takes on his characters with a distinctive fervor and unparalleled commitment. From his inimitable performances in Bronson and Locke and everything in between, his passion for his art is admirable, and I grow to appreciate his talent even more with every new role he explores.

The Drop 2Also, I am highly anticipating this film because it is the late Sopranos-legend James Gandolfini’s last appearance on the silver screen. He has had an immense career filled with memorable performances and deserved acclaim, and this particular role seems to fit his style perfectly.

Lastly, author Dennis Lehane wrote the screenplay. A couple of my favorite movies of all time, Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone, were films that were adapted from Lehane’s novels. It will be a pleasure to finally see a film that is written directly from the pen of the accomplished wordsmith. The Drop is set for a theatrical release on September 12, 2014.

Director: Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead).

Starring: Tom Hardy (Lawless, Locke), James Gandolfini (Zero Dark Thirty, Enough Said), and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Dead Man Down).

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGkZq8ZOgO4