nominees//2015 FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS

AWARDS COVERAGE



Birdman is the big man on campus after the nominations for the 2015 Spirit Awards were announced earlier today. With 6 nominations, including Best Actor for Michael Keaton, Birdman narrowly eclipsed Boyhood, Nightcrawler, and Selma, all of which ended up with 5 nominations a piece.

The Spirit Awards will be handed out Saturday, February 21, 2015, the day before the Academy Awards, on the beach at Santa Monica.

Here's a complete list of nominees:

BEST FEATURE
Birdman
Boyhood
Love is Strange
Selma
Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
David Zellner, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

BEST SCREENPLAY
Big Eyes
Love is Strange
A Most Violent Year
Nightcrawler
Only Lovers Left Alive

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Ana Lily Amirpour, Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Dan Gilroy, Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michael Litvak, Nightcrawler
Anja Marquardt, Mollye Asher, Kiara C. Jones, She's Lost Control
Gillian Robespierre, Elisabeth Holm, Obvious Child
Justin Simien, Effie T. Brown, Ann Le, Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Lena Waithe, Dear White People

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Desiree Akhavan, Appropriate Behavior
Sara Colangelo, Little Accidents
Justin Lader, The One I Love
Anja Marquardt, She's Lost Control
Justin Simien, Dear White People

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Awarded to the best feature made for under $500,000.)
Blue Ruin
It Felt Like Love
Land Ho!
Man From Reno
Test

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive

BEST MALE LEAD
Andre Benjamin, Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
John Lithgow, Love is Strange
David Oyelowo, Selma

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo, Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone, Birdman

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
Edward Norton, Birdman

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Birdman
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
The Immigrant
It Felt Like Love
Selma

BEST EDITING
Boyhood
The Guest
Nightcrawler
A Most Violent Year
Whiplash

BEST DOCUMENTARY
20,000 Days on Earth
CITIZENFOUR
The Salt of the Earth
Stray Dog
Virunga

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Force Majeure (Sweden)
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Mommy (Canada)
Norte, the End of History (Philippines)
Under the Skin (United Kingdom)

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis
Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Michael Kenneth Williams, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon

SPECIAL DISTINCTION AWARD
Foxcatcher
Director/Producer: Bennett Miller
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Actors: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum


news//'STAR WARS EPISODE VII' TRAILER TO PREMIERE THIS WEEKEND IN 9 THEATERS

NEWS



Disney, the studio behind the newest installment in the Star Wars saga, has announced that the first trailer for the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will debut ahead of every movie at 9 exclusive Regal Cinemas theaters nationwide (listed below).

As part of the deal, the movie filling the opening slots each day will be Disney's box office crowd-pleaser Big Hero 6.

Star Wars Episode VII takes place 30 years after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and is set for a December 18, 2015 release.

CALIFORNIA:
Irvine - Edwards Irvine Spectrum 22 IMAX

San Diego - Edwards Mira Mesa Stadium 18 IMAX/RPX

GEORGIA:
Atlanta - Regal Atlantic Station 18 IMAX/RPX

ILLINOIS:
Chicago - Regal City North Stadium 14 IMAX/RPX

NEW YORK:
New York - Regal Union Square Stadium 14

PENNSYLVANIA:
Warrington - Regal Warrington Crossing Stadium 22 IMAX

TENNESSEE:
Knoxville - Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 IMAX/RPX

TEXAS:
Houston - Edwards Houston Marq'E Stadium 23 IMAX/RPX

WASHINGTON:
Seattle - Regal Thornton Place Stadium 14 IMAX

news//'MOCKINGJAY' OPENS HUGE, BUT NOT QUITE AS BIG AS ITS PREDECESSORS

BOX OFFICE



The third of the planned four Hunger Games films, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, landed as the biggest opening of 2014, pushing Transformers: Age of Extinction into second place. While that's a reason to celebrate on its own, Mockingjay was below the opening numbers of the two previous films in the franchise.

Mockingjay, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, finished the weekend with $123 million domestically. That number should grow as the holiday weekend approaches. The original The Hunger Games film that opened with $152.5 million in 2012, followed by Catching Fire with $158.1 million in 2013. Audiences aren't as excited about the final installment in the series being cut into two separate films. Fans of the book remember that the beginning of the Mockingjay book had less action than its second half. Mockingjay also marks the first Hunger Games film not to debut on Imax screens. Interstellar is still fulfilling its Imax committment.

Disney's Big Hero 6 landed the second place spot, earning an additional $20.1 million. Last week's number one movie, Dumb and Dumber To, had the biggest drop. The comedy fell 62% from its debut weekend numbers.

At the specialty box office, The Theory of Everything cracked into the top ten. The biopic about Stephen Hawking stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones and is receiving a lot of Oscar buzz.

Here's a look at the Top Ten of the weekend:

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, $123 million (NEW)

2. Big Hero 6, $20.1 million (Total: $135.7m)

3. Interstellar, $15.1 million (Total: $120.6m)

4. Dumb and Dumber To, $13.8 million (Total: $57.4m)

5. Gone Girl, $2.8 million (Total: $156.8m)

6. Beyond the Lights, $2.6 million (Total: $10.1m)

7. St. Vincent, $2.3 million (Total: $36.6m)

8. Fury, $1.9 million (Total: $79m)

9. Birdman, $1.8 million (Total: $14.4m)

10. The Theory of Everything, $1.5 million (Total: $2.7m)

thoughts//TOP TEN MIKE NICHOLS FILMS

TOP TEN

This week we lost one of our greatest film assets, Academy Award-winning director Mike Nichols. Spanning an incredible number of decades behind the camera, Nichols received his first Oscar nomination as Best Director of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1967. The next year, Nichols won his first and only Oscar as Best Director of The Graduate. He would on go on to receive another three nominations, the last being for his work as a producer on The Remains of the Day in 1994. His career has been marked with some of America's best film masterpieces. Nichols was married to news personality Diane Sawyer.

To celebrate his legacy, here's a look at the ten best films directed by Mike Nichols:

10. REGARDING HENRY (1991)
Starring Harrison Ford, Annette Bening
US Release Date: July 10, 1991
Box Office Gross: $43 million
1991 Tagline: "His life was based on power, success, and ruthlessness. Until a bullet made him think again."

9. SILKWOOD (1983)
Starring Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher
US Release Date: December 14, 1983
Box Office Gross: $35.6 million
1983 Tagline: "On November 13, 1974, Karen Silkwood, an employee of a nuclear facility, left to meet with a reporter from the New York Times. She never got there."
Oscar Nominations: Best Director, Best Actress (Streep), Best Supp. Actress (Cher), Best Writing, Best Film Editing

8. CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (1971)
Starring Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margret, Candice Bergen
US Release Date: June 30, 1971
Box Office Gross: $28.6 million
Oscar Nomination: Best Supp. Actress (Ann-Margret)

7. CATCH-22 (1970)
Starring Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Jon Voight, Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart
US Release Date: June 24, 1970
Box Office Gross: $18 million
BAFTA Nomination: Best Cinematography

6. CLOSER (2004)
Starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law, Natalie Portman
US Release Date: December 10, 2004
Box Office Gross: $34 million
2004 Tagline: "If you believe in love at first sight, you never stop looking."
Oscar Nominations: Best Supp. Actor (Owen), Best Supp. Actress (Portman)

5. POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990)
Starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid
US Release Date: September 14, 1990
Box Office Gross: $37.9 million
1990 Tagline: "Having a wonderful time, wish I were here."
Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Streep), Best Song

4. THE BIRDCAGE (1996)
Starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest
US Release Date: March 8, 1996
Box Office Gross: $124 million
1996 Tagline: "What could possibly come between a match made in heaven? The parents. Dinner. And a nightclub called...(The Birdcage)"
Oscar Nomination: Best Art Direction-Set Direction

3. WORKING GIRL (1988)
Starring Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack
US Release Date: December 21, 1988
Box Office Gross: $64 million
1988 Tagline: "For anyone who's ever won. For anyone who's ever lost. And for everyone who's still in there trying."
Oscar Win: Best Song
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Griffith), Best Supp. Actress (Cusack), Best Supp. Actress (Weaver), Best Director

2. WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966)
Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis
US Release Date: June 22, 1966
Box Office Gross: $28 million
1966 Tagline: "Drop in for drinks and brace yourself."
Oscar Wins: Best Actress (Taylor), Best Supp. Actress (Dennis), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Costume Design
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Burton), Best Supp. Actor (Segal), Best Director, Best Writing, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Score

1. THE GRADUATE (1967)
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
US Release Date: December 22, 1967
Box Office Gross: $104 million
1967: "This is Benjamin. He's a little worried about his future."
Oscar Win: Best Director
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Huffman), Best Actress (Bancroft), Best Supp. Actress (Ross), Best Writing, Best Cinematography

review//THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1

Grade: B

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks

In the realm of movie sequels, nothing is worse that a two-parter. Actually, it's hard to be passionate about any sort of sequel, but a free pass is given to ones based on other mediums, like a popular book series. It's already been said about how obvious it seems that Lionsgate is hoping for huge payouts by splitting Mockingjay, the third and final book in the Hunger Games book trilogy, into two films. It worked for Harry Potter and Twilight. At this point, though, it would have been nicer to see Hollywood leave something as it is. That said, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is an exciting movie that does lead right up to a cliffhanger (if you can call it that) ending. To those of us who have read the books, it feels a little stretched in terms of pacing and action, but the lingering feeling of wanting to see more means it's easy to forgive a good story for its faults.

Jennifer Lawrence is back as the passionate lover and fighter Katniss Everdeen. Picking up right where Catching Fire left off, Mockingjay - Part 1 thrusts us into the depths of District 13, where Katniss and the refugees of Panem are bent on surviving until it's time to fight. The end of the Quarter Quell marked a new beginning for the fight against the Capitol and the disgustingly brilliant President Snow (Donald Sutherland). A new band of characters, led by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and the always-great Julianne Moore, help carry the story along as Katniss becomes the face of the revolution. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) gets more screen time as he spearheads the cause and hits the front lines. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) doesn't get as much, but there's a reason for that. With being a Part 1, there is no great resolve in any of the built-up action. The choice of where in the story to break at the end must have been somewhat difficult. They chose a great spot and even hilariously made it seem to end a bit earlier (the audience I was with was very vocal about it, followed by a quiet laugh when the next scene started).

Director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) puts together a well-intentioned piece of the overall Hunger Games puzzle. The film's greatest downfall is, of course, the fact that it virtually has no payoff at the end. This, in turn, makes the film feel very stretched at points, especially when compared to the two previous Hunger Games films. This is the same effect Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy has experienced. Taking a singular item and turning it into multiple things only works when it's a Kit-Kat bar being shared with friends. This is even more true when a normal book-to-film adaptation leaves out key moments to fit within the normal film time constraints.

There are a few additions that are welcome, like the extra time given to Elizabeth Banks' Effie Trinket, arguably one of the best characterizations in recent book-to-film adaptations.

The great thing about the Hunger Games films is that the stories never become too young-adult schmaltz, like the Twilight series. This story lends itself to go either way. Luckily, the fight for freedom is presented in such a way as to take itself serious enough to be a good movie. There may even be some intentional or unintentional social commentary of the current political state of our own government mixed in there. The performances are great (Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong, right?) and the settings are always perfectly chosen (shout out to the Atlanta area locations that make appearances, like Sweetwater Creek, a great park near my hometown). The effects are sci-fi/fantasy perfection and the costumes should get more awards attention than they do.

Overall, everyone is seeing this movie, so it seems silly to even try to convince one way or another. It's a great time at the movies, despite the small things that distract from the overall whole. Part 2 can't get here quick enough.

Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes