The Year That Was: 2014 in Film

Check out ALL of the PDC end of year lists!

Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Starrin Ben Stiller and Robin Williams'

Review: Annie

Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, and Cameron Diaz

12/19/2014

First Look at Kate Winslet in 'The Dressmaker'; Eyes Role in Steve Jobs Biopic


It's been a pretty good couple of days for fans of Kate Winslet, of which there are plenty. Not only did we get a new trailer for period drama A Little Chaos, but now we're getting a first look at an upcoming project, plus news on what she'll be starring in next.

First up, Screen Daily has an image from Jocelyn Moorehouse's The Dressmaker, which stars Winslet as "a glamorous woman with a penchant for haute couture who returns to her small town in rural Australia to exact revenge on those who previously did her wrong." And this image certainly shows of the film's fashion sense, so mark this one down as a potential awards film for costume design next year. The Dressmaker co-stars Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving, opening in Australia next October.

And then there's word from Variety that Winslet is in talks to join Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Stuhlbarg in Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs biopic. Her exact role in the Aaron Sorkin-penned film remains a mystery but it will be the female lead. That film is now set up at Universal after being dropped by Sony.

Hackers Maybe Sorta Okay with Edited Version of 'The Interview'; Obama says Sony made a Mistake



Today the FBI made what we all knew official, confirming that North Korea was behind the cyber attacks that have crippled and embarrassed Sony Pictures. Here is part of the statement:

"As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions."

The attacks which led to Sony internal emails, film scripts, salaries, and other damaging information being leaked to the public, were to force the studio to halt release of the comedy, The Interview, for its depiction of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un being assassination in rather glorious fashion.  The film was taken off the schedule after violent threats were made, causing quite the outcry from Hollywood and others critical of the decision. While it looks like the film won't ever see the light of day, if it were to happen it seems the hacker group is of two minds on how to react.

USA Today reported that Guardians of Peace released a statement saying it was okay for Sony to release the James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy, as long as certain edits were made....

This is GOP.
You have suffered through enough threats.
We lift the ban.
The Interview may release now.
But be carful.
September 11 may happen again if you don't comply with the rules.
Rule #1: no death scene of Kim Jong Un being too happy
Rule #2: do not test us again
Rule #3: if you make anything else, we will be here ready to fight

What's interesting is this is the polar opposite to a message they reportedly sent to Sony execs stating they were "very wise" to cancel The Interview, but now the film needed to be done away with utterly...

"Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy. And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately."

The conflicting messages have left some confused about what the next step could be for Sony, who some have estimated could lose more than $75M on the film. Meanwhile, President Obama has come out against Sony's decision to give in to the terrorist threats, saying...

"I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks." He added, "I am sympathetic to the concerns that they face. Having said all that, yes I think they made a mistake."


New Trailer for Acclaimed Horror 'It Follows'; Release Date in March 2015



In the days and weeks leading up to Sundance there is usually one movie that captures the attention of everyone who will be in attendance. This year that film is It Follows, David Robert Mitchell's inventive horror that we've seen a couple of teasers for already. Now as a March release date has been set a new U.S. trailer has been released.

Starring Maika Monroe (At Any Price), Keir Gilchrist (It's Kind of a Funny Story), and Jake Weary, this story of young love gets ripped asunder when a girl becomes haunted after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter. As she begins having terrible visions and is chased by a malevolent spirit, she realizes the only way to get rid of it is to pass it on to someone else.

It Follows screens at Sundance next month before hitting theaters and VOD on March 27th.


It Follows Official Trailer 1 (2014) - Horror Movie by Trailer-Addict

Kevin Hart Toughens Up Will Ferrell in First Trailer for 'Get Hard'



A couple of years ago Will Ferrell starred in The Other Guys, in which he and Mark Wahlberg helped take down a Bernie Madoff-type white collar criminal. Now the shoe is on the other foot in Get Hard, a comedy in which he's the one percenter about to get taught a lesson on how the system works for the underprivileged. And his teacher in this invaluable lesson? Kevin Hart. Cue the hilarity.

The first trailer for Get Hard actually looks very funny, and unafraid to make light of some serious social issues. Ferrell plays James, a naive hedge fund manager convicted of fraud and sentenced to maximum security prison (which would never happen), but living the high life doesn't provide much insight on how things work behind bars. So he enlists the aid of his car washer Darnell (Hart) to help toughen up or "get hard" before he goes to jail. The only problem is Darnell isn't all that tough, either, despite James' clueless assumptions he must be, saying "statistically, you definitely went to prison."

Directed by Etan Cohen with Tip "T.I." Harris and Alison Brie co-starring, Get Hard opens March 27th 2015.


Get Hard - Official Trailer [HD]. by NewTrailers BOS

George Clooney Calls Out Hollywood for being a Bunch of Cowards


Has there been a story over the last couple of weeks that doesn't touch upon the Sony leaks in some way? If so it certainly doesn't feel like it, and with the studio's decision to yank The Interview out of theaters, giving in to threats from a hacker group linked to North Korea, the ripple effects are still being felt. There has been a vocal backlash against the move to not release the comedy in any form, and one of the loudest voices against it is George Clooney.

While speaking with Deadline, Clooney openly questioned why Hollywood didn't band together to help Sony while they were being publicly bullied day in and day out. He even attempted to circulate a petition rallying some support for the studio, but didn't get many takers because Sony had been so humiliated...

Clooney: "All that it is basically saying is, we’re not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand. Now, I say this is a situation we are going to have to come to terms with, a new paradigm and a new way of handling our business. Because this could happen to an electric company, a car company, a newsroom. It could happen to anybody."

He went on to add...

Clooney:  "This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention."

And of course Clooney would be the guy to come out and say this. His career as a filmmaker has been about making movies that focus on hot button topics; the kinds of films that may offend some and make studios nervous. He recognizes those kinds of films could be harder to make if distributors are too afraid to release them...

Clooney:  "What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you’re doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren’t going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you’ve got to go to a studio, because they’re the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect."

How to resolve this whole thing? Clooney says The Interview needs to be released. Now. And he says Sony's Amy Pascal feels the same way...

Clooney:  "We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. I just talked to Amy an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out. What do I do? My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people."

Clooney's got a bunch of points here that I think are valid and will certainly be discussed more over the coming months, possibly even years. The Interview has now become a historical fixture, whether it ever gets released or not.

The PDC Staff Picks the Most Overrated and Underrated Movies of 2014


Hype. The single most important word in the film industry. I know you’re thinking, "John, you’re wrong it’s obviously money!". Nay, nay I say, without the hype there is no money. Hype is the reason that we have movie trailers, and now teasers of movie trailers, and sneak peak shots of the teasers of movie trailers. You get the point. It doesn’t stop when the movie is released though. The hype train continues right on through the theatrical release to home video, and sometimes, into history. This whole aspect of Hollywood always leaves you with a few films that just don’t fit the buzz they were assigned. Some great films are just passed over while other highly lauded films leave you thinking the world is high as a kite and they forgot to pass you the doobie. We’ve got the whole of the PDC together for this list as we visit what we think to be the most overrated and underrated films of 2014.

When you're done, be sure to check out all of our end-of-year coverage here!

John Nolan

OVERRATED
 
Lucy
I know, I know, it’s kind of a weak pick. Half of you are probably sitting at your computers saying “What the hell was Lucy?”. You know, that completely forgettable movie with Scarlett Johannson where the big hook was “What happens when someone uses more than 10% of their brain?!?”, yeah…that one. I’m kind of an easy sell, if you give me something that’s halfway enjoyable I’m not going to trash it. I completely trashed this movie. I can’t remember a longer 90 minute stretch of my life than sitting through this absurdly nonsensical oxymoron of a film (how can you be full of action, yet completely boring?). No big deal, forget it and move on…and, stay with me, here’s where it earns it’s place on the list, then the reviews start coming out and people are praising it! Not in waves, mind you, but they are out there, enough to earn a fresh score on rotten tomatoes. Lucy. Overrated. Understatement.

UNDERRATED

Robocop
Something told me this one was going to be alright. I’m not exactly on my own in thinking that but it’s far from the popular consensus. I guess the original was just a case of the right movie at the right time and this remake, as good as it was, had to much of the 80s in it. Well, we are living in an 80s world and I am an 80s girl….err…guy. That’s the argument I have to make because Robocop not being universally loved makes no sense to me. As far as remakes go this should be a template. Other than a few forced call backs to the original they did everything perfectly, updating not just the look, but the story and feel to our modern world. The sad thing is, if the original Robocop had never been released, then you release this exact same movie people would have praised it, going so far as to call it prophetic. The thing is, the world created in the 1987 Robocop was implausible…a sci-fi fever dream coated in blood. The 2014 version is not only possible, but in many ways plausible. Past all this it was just a whole lot of fun, sure I could have used more blood but I can say that about anything (I’m a blast at dinner parties).

Roxana Hadadi

OVERRATED

St. Vincent
The Bill Murray hipster resurgence is exhausting. Not everything Bill Murray touches is gold, and St. Vincent is absolutely proof of that. A frustratingly formulaic movie built around on the been-there-done-that premise of "grumpy old man befriends charming child; charming child befriends grumpy old man; everyone wins or whatever," the movie asked very little of Murray and he gave very little back. And that supporting cast? Please. Melissa McCarthy has had a year full of misfires and Naomi Watts, with her terrible accent and caricature of a Russian prostitute character, did absolutely nothing to deserve that Screen Actors Guild nomination. And yet this film has somehow made $44 million, because ugh.

UNDERRATED

Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher came out strong in film festival competition, yielding a Best Director win at Cannes for Bennett Miller, tons of critical hype, and then ... nothing. The film opened quietly the same weekend as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, and since then has struggled to find an audience, making only about $3 million. But this film has haunted me for the weeks since I've seen it - all of its weirdness and quietness, all of its unanswered questions, all of its critiques about the nature of inherited wealth and the myth of American dominance and the masculine desire to prove oneself before anyone and everyone who asks. Why haven't more people seen this movie? Why hasn't it received more award-season nominations? As John DuPont, Steve Carell's performance is determinedly, effectively off-kilter. As Olympic-gold-winning wrestler Mark Schultz, Channing Tatum is flawed and tragic. As Mark's even-more-celebrated older brother Dave Schultz, Mark Ruffalo is likable and, because the world is a terrible place, doomed. This movie will linger over you like a dark cloud, and more people should join me under it.

Julian Lytle

OVERRATED

Edge of Tomorrow
You know this one here for me is clouded by the fact that I read the manga adaptation of the original story All You Need Is Kill. I tried to go into this with an open mind and it’s also a reason I try not read a story before viewing a film version. I see many people enjoyed this movie and while I can see where it can be enjoyable too many things bother me about it. My main problem with the movie is that it totally destroys that character of Rita Vrataski. In the entire movie she only does two things helps Tom Cruise’s character get better and then just becomes a damsel in distress. You never really see how bad ass she is supposed to be at most she’s just like a person drill sergent for Cruise’s William Cage. Also I think the movie made the aliens needlessly difficult in how they work. It just doesn’t work for me, like they wanted to make a Halo Groundhog Day. In the end I’m like "really"?

UNDERRATED

Godzilla
GODZILLA 2014 IS LIFE! See I never understood what people were expecting. Folk complaining how come there wasn’t that much of the monsters fighting? Why was there so much human story? Clearly all those people either never saw a Godzilla movie or being that they were children only paid attention to the last 15 minutes when the Godzilla was wrecking. This film did a modern interpretation of 70s superhero Godzilla. He wasn’t destroying the city on purpose, he had a foe and was ready to kill them. Godzilla doesn’t half step. He befriended Quicksilver (Aaron Johnson) crashed on downtown to sleep off his bar fight and bounced in the morning like any good homie. Not only that they had great winks to Mothra and Kiryu in the film. So many folks need to get familiar.

Mae Abdulbaki 

OVERRATED

How to Train Your Dragon 2
 It doesn't really matter what many say, this sequel to the very well made How to Train Your Dragon is disappointing and doesn't live up to the original at all. A lot of people liked it, it made almost $50 million its opening weekend alone, but there's something about it that just doesn't sit well with me. Perhaps it's the fact that Toothless kills Hiccup's father and everything is hunky dory about two minutes later. Don't get me wrong, the animation itself is stunning and visually beautiful, but the film doesn't carry the same torch as the original. The inclusion of Hiccup's mother only feels like a replacement for his father, who is offed so his son can become the leader he's always wanted him to be. But I mean, if Hiccup never wanted to be a leader, don't force him into it. Astrid would have been a much better choice anyway. Sigh

UNDERRATED

Get on Up
Show of hands, who actually saw Get on Up? I hear the crickets chirping. If you did, great, because this movie is frankly not given enough love. It's not a perfect film, but it retells the story of music legend and icon James Brown, played by rising star Chadwick Boseman, in a non-linear fashion that immediately takes you into the story and keeps you there. We visit several different parts of Brown's life, but it always comes back to his present. A montage that cuts between Boseman performing and Brown's actual performances is very well done really makes you feel like you're at a concert. The wonderful performances by Boseman and the rest of the cast, which includes Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, is well worth the watch. Definitely a film that should've been seen by more people.
.
Travis Hopson

OVERRATED

Still Alice
Hey, I get it. We all love Julianne Moore. I do, too! She’s a redhead, of course I love her. Oh, and she’s an amazing actress, and is pretty great in Still Alice. But did anybody notice that none of the consequences of her character having Alzheimer’s is actually dealt with in ANY way, shape, or form? Like not at all. Her kids possibly inheriting the disease? Nope. Her career-driven husband’s awesome new job getting put on hold because he has to care for her? Nope. It’s like co-directors/writers Richard Glatzer and Wash West are averse to the very idea of confronting anything. Maybe that’s how the story plays out in the book but it doesn’t matter. I have a feeling it has to do with the lousy adaptation from the same guys who somehow made a biopic on philandering Errol Flynn (The Last of Robin Hood) boring and drab. How is that even possible? Anyway, Still Alice isn’t terrible; it’s just mediocre. Still love you, Julianne. Call me.

UNDERRATED

The Skeleton Twins
Only one movie could make me put Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” on my playlist. When I first saw The Skeleton Twins at Sundance it struck me like a thunderbolt for a number of reasons. This sweet, affecting dramedy about two highly-dysfuctional siblings features amazing performances by Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. The SNL vets know one another so well their chemistry is flawless, all while venturing into the most dramatic territory of their careers. The film manages to stay light and funny while dealing with some heavy subjects (suicide, infidelity), a credit to up ‘n coming director Craig Johnson. I thought this film would have done more upon release but it kind of vanished in the blink of an eye, so grab someone close to you and check this movie out on Blu-Ray. You won’t be disappointed.

Review: 'Annie' starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, and Cameron Diaz


Only the hard-knock-hearted can walk out of Annie without a smile on their face and a song in their head. Let's be honest; the original Annie musical about the perky and feisty red-headed orphan has long since worn out its welcome; reduced to clich├ęs popping up in more contemporary musicals. So why not a proper remake; one given a blast of hip-hop energy by Jay-Z and Will Smith, with adorable Beasts of the Southern Wild breakout Quvenzhane Wallis reinventing the title role?

Annie has never been especially subtle; the original musical is schmaltzy beyond normal human tolerance. So why in the world would anyone think this one would be different? Of course it isn't. The differences are in the atmosphere, the contemporary setting, and the clever dance choreography. Wallis isn't a natural singer, that much is true, but she's as plucky and likable as ever so that we can't help but love her. The story should be a familiar one, although it begins by brushing past expectations off its shoulders.

This Annie demands to be called a "foster kid" rather than an "orphan", she ducks and weaves through the busy Harlem streets in hopes of locating the parents who abandoned her as a baby. The group home she lives in with other girls is run by the nasty and perpetually angry Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), a former singer whose head is stuck in the 1990s. Hope you like C&C Music Factory because you'll hear it a lot when she's around. After a rousing rendition of " A Hard Knock Life", a chance encounter with stiff mayoral candidate and cell phone mogul Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) finds Annie under his care. It begins as a campaign tool but naturally grows into something more. Meanwhile, Hannigan is looking for a way to use the situation to get some of Stacks' money and be rid of Annie permanently.

Director Will Gluck (who gave us Emma Stone in Easy A) along with writers Aline Brosh McKenna and Emma Thompson, build their urban reimagining with a plethora of subplots that don't all payoff. Rose Byrne probably isn't the first we'd look to for song and dance numbers but she's a lot of fun as Stacks' lonely assistant and potential love interest. It should come as no surprise the best songs are performed by Foxx (remember his R&B career? Does it still exist?), while Wallis gets by purely on emotion. Her rendition of "Opportunity", one of a few new songs penned for the film, is touching enough to bring the entire crowd to tears.  The script is sharper than it has any need to be; paying homage without falling too deep into the nostalgia well. Plus there are a handful of hilarious cameos including a mock Twilight-esque parody with a couple of huge stars. While the Depression-era angst of the original is gone it's replaced by attitude and heart.

Clocking in at around two hours the film eventually loses steam as the expected lessons are learned and feelings laid bare in broad strokes. But you'll leave Annie happier than when you arrived and filled with the promise tomorrow can bring. Tomorrow, it's only a day away.

 Rating: 3.5 out of 5

'Alvin and the Chipmunks 4' is Happening and has a Director


Kids probably love it, parents probably hate it, and critics would rather choke on acorns than watch another one, but the truth is the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise is huge. The three live-action movies have made over $1.1B worldwide, and 20th Century Fox is going to keep the money train going with a fourth film.

Walt Becker, whose resume consists of Van Wilder, Wild Hogs and its sequel Old Dogs, and the awful Jerry O"Connell "comedy' Buying the Farm, has been set to direct Alvin and the Chipmunks 4. Enjoy! What's the plot? It probably doesn't really matter, does it? We've already seen Alvin, Simon, and Theodore stranded on a deserted island so they could do just about anything at this point.

Alvin and the Chipmunks 4 opens December 23rd 2015, meaning it's how you'll be spending part of the holidays.

12/18/2014

Justin Simien to Direct Anthony Mackie in Paramount Comedy 'Make A Wish'


Justin Simien's debut feature Dear White People has been one of the most talked about movies of the year, beginning with its premiere at Sundance. The controversial satire on race relations has earned him a couple of Indie Spirit Awards nominations along with other honors, and has afforded a chance to step up to his first studio comedy with an big time star.

Simien is attached to direct Anthony Mackie in the Paramount comedy, Make A Wish, based on a Black List screenplay by Zach Frankel. Mackie plays Butchie Jones, a star football player trying to fulfill the dying wish of a 14-year-old cancer patient. Problems arise when he learns the boy's wish is to lose his virginity.

There was a great deal of Simien's own personal story in Dear White People, and it will be interesting to see how he handles a for-hire gig like this.

Mark Wahlberg says 'Transformers 5' could Begin Filming Soon


This will come as a shock to absolutely no one, but Mark Wahlberg  is coming back for Transformers 5. The ending of Transformers: Age of Extinction certainly left the door open to it, and given that the film made over $1B despite getting hammered critically, there was no doubt another film was coming. While Michael Bay is unlikely to be involved, a release date in 2016 was tentatively set, which would mean a start date should right around the corner. Well, Mark Wahlberg think so, too.

While talking with MTV about his upcoming remake of The Gambler, Wahlberg confirmed he's on board for the duration of the trilogy and that filming could begin soon...

Wahlberg: "Yeah, I committed to doing a couple more.“I can’t speak for Mr. Bay, but something tells me we’ll be on set soon.”

Does that "we" include Bay, who has been anxious to work on other projects that don't involve Autobots and Decepticons? That could still be up in the air but one has to expect Paramount to reveal something concrete very soon. Perhaps the directing reins will be handed over to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles director Jonathan Liebesman since he won't be returning for the sequel? He has a style very similar to Bay's, has ties to Paramount, and obviously has experience with big, nostalgic franchises.