Tag Archives: Bradley Cooper

Things We Learned from TIFF 2012

With TIFF winding down, I thought I’d take a look at some of the shifts that we saw, in terms of the upcoming Awards season. I didn’t find there were any huge surprises, but as usual, some new favourites emerged, and some anticipated flicks lost traction.

  • Bradley Cooper can act! (And might get his first Oscar nom, to boot.)
    • I’ve been a Bradley Cooper fan for a while. And while the movies themselves weren’t that great, I thought he showed some acting potential in Limitless and Valentine’s Day. But boy, did he get a good response at TIFF this year. He’s never been much of a critical favourite, but Cooper earned raves for both The Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond the Pines (which is currently slated for a 2013 release). It’s hard to say if he’ll make the jump to Oscar nominee this year, but right now, I’d say he has a decent shot. Especially if he gets a boost from a certain co-star…
  • Speaking of which, Jennifer Lawrence will probably become the youngest actress to get two Oscar nominations
    • The Silver Linings Playbook was met with great response and pegged as a crowd-pleaser. Jennifer Lawrence received heaps of praise, too. Add in the good reviews for The Hunger Games and her general likeability, and I imagine she’ll probably get her second Oscar nomination at just 22 years old. She might just even win the whole thing.
  • The Master, The Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo will be big Oscar players, like we thought
    • These three seemed well-suited for Oscar glory, and they all received nearly universal praise at TIFF. I’d expect them all to get Best Picture and acting nominations.
  • Hyde Park on Hudson may not be the big Oscar player many thought it would be
    • The FDR biopic really just failed to make much of an impression at all at TIFF. Its buzz seems to have dropped considerably overnight – even for Bill Murray, who seemed like the film’s only definite nomination.
  • Kristen Wiig definitely won’t be getting her second Oscar nom this year
    • Imogene‘s reviews were so bad that I’d expect the film to be shuffled for an inconspicuous limited release next summer
  • Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Noami Watts (The Impossible), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed) are now Best Actress dark horses
    • Winstead’s goodwill from Sundance carried over, Watts earned raves, and Gerwig came out of nowhere to become a critical darling. But will any of them sneak in for a nomination?
  • Anna Karenina and Cloud Atlas will do really well in the technical categories. But will they score anywhere else?
    • Both received mixed reviews but were lauded for their visuals. Knightley still seems like a good bet for Best Actress, but will either find much traction elsewhere in the big categories?

TIFF 2012: The Place Beyond the Pines

Just a few days in, and TIFF has already screened a spat of critic and movie fan favourites. From grand blockbusters like Looper and Cloud Atlas to human dramas like Argo and The Master, big stars and big directors are already pleasing crowds at the festival. And you might as well add Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines, to that list. Met with generally positive response from critics, the film is likely to connect on a gut level with many viewers.

Pines made its world premiere on Friday night, and I entered the press screening early this morning with the unique experience of knowing virtually nothing about the film. And honestly, it’s best to know as little as possible about this film going into it. As such, I’ll be very vague with the plot description. Ryan Gosling plays Luke, a motorcycle stunt driver. Bradley Cooper plays Avery, a newly minted and overqualified police officer. When Luke gets caught up in some illegal activities, the two inevitably come face to face. Their meeting then sparks a chain reaction of repercussions that affect not only them, but also their family.

At its core, The Place Beyond the Pines is a story about masculinity and the consequences of actions. And Cianfrance evokes the ache of regret beautifully. There is a palpable sense of uncertainty, and like the characters on screen, the audience is held in a constant state of tension. This is not an action-packed movie, yet there is such suspense in every character interaction. A number of figurative threads could be pulled at any time during this film and the lives of the characters would almost instantly unravel.

Cooper perhaps does the best job of conveying this unsettled tone. Much of the latter part of the film deals with Avery’s struggle to come to terms with his past decisions, and Cooper gives an aching, slow-burning performance. His character is wonderfully complex, and Cooper sinks his teeth into every nuance of the role. It’s easily his best performance to date.

Also breaking new ground here is up-and-comer Dane DeHaan. Though DeHaan does not appear until later on in the film, his character quickly becomes a key player, and DeHaan deftly navigates the epic relationship landscape that Cianfrance has constructed by this point. He’s already impressed me this year in Chronicle and Lawless, but now given a meaty dramatic role, DeHaan shines even brighter. He’s given some scenes that easily could have seemed overly laboured or difficult to believe, but DeHaan’s easy naturalness never wavers. He just sinks into the role and inhabits every corner of it.

Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, The Dark Knight Rises)gives another fantastic, chameleon-like performance as a man who takes Luke under his wing. His subtle humour is welcome in this heavy film, yet his character also has plenty of demons of his own. Gosling turns in yet another great, emotionally captivating performance, and Eva Mendes is surprisingly good as the woman his character peruses.

One thing that really surprised me about The Place Beyond the Pines was the scope of the film. Cianfrance has experimented with time lapses already in Blue Valentine, but while that film felt suffocating in its intimacy, Pines feels almost grand and epic in its ever-expanding story. And Cianfrance put every minute of the two and a quarter hour runtime to good use. Yes, a couple of story elements feel a bit convenient and/or melodramatic. And yes, I did find the second third of the film to be a little too conventional in its “dirty cop” tropes (though Ray Liotta is great in his very small role). But ultimately, none of that mattered. The Place Beyond the Pines packs an emotional punch the gut. This movie is about the consequences of our actions. And as characters’ past decisions start to affect innocent people, it’s hard not to get engrossed in the injustice and tragedy of it all. Simply put, The Place Beyond the Pines feels poetic without being pretentious. It might not fully satisfy those looking for a bit more violence in their studies in machismo, but the slow-burning drama makes for a far more substantial product.

9/10

FIRST Oscar Predictions: May 2012

The past couple of years, I’ve posted ultra-early Oscar predictions (usually in March). I guess I was slacking a bit this year, but here is my first round of predictions.

If you’d like to see how my early stabs in the dark panned out in previous years, you can check them out here.


Best Picture

Amour

Anna Karenina

Argo

The Dark Knight Rises

Django Unchained

The Hobbit

Les Miserables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

The Master

Other Possibilities: Moonrise Kingdom, The Great Gatsby, Inside Lllewyn Davis, Hyde Park on Hudson, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zero Dark Thirty, Killing Them Softly, The Silver Lining Playbook, Gravity, Trouble With the Curve, The Place Beyond the Pines, Brave, Gangster Squad, Lawless, Six Sessions, Rust and Bone, Prometheus, Seven Psychopaths

 

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master

Michael Haneke, Amour

Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Stephen Spielberg, Lincoln

Other Possibilities: Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), David O. Russell (The Silver Lining Playbook), Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), Baz Luhrman (The Great Gatsby), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ben Affleck (Argo), Roger Michell (Hyde Park on Hudson), David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis), Ridley Scott (Prometheus)

 

Best Actor

Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve

This movie sounds like a crowd-pleasing heartstring-tugger, and also a great acting showcase.

John Hawkes, Six Sessions

Hawkes received massive buzz at Sundance for Six Sessions (then known as The Surrogate). He’s an actor whose had a huge breakthrough recently and has been making very smart role choices. I strongly think he will get his second nomination this year.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

I’m not sure how the Lead/Supporting split will go with Hoffman and Phoenix (I’ve seen it predicted both ways), but I imagine they’ll both be nominated. It’s about time for another PSH nomination, right?

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

If there’s one nomination I am almost positive will happen this year, this is it. Unless this turns out to be J. Edgar or something, it’ll happen. Not sure if DDL will get a third Oscar so quickly, but he’ll almost certainly be nominated.

Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson

I personally don’t think this movie will have the awards season sweep that a lot of people seem to be predicting (it sounds more Iron Lady than King’s Speech, to me), but it seems pretty likely that Bill Murray will be nominated for Best Actor. He might even win his first one.

Other Possibilities: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines), Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly), Ryan Gosling (Gangster Squad),

 

Best Actress

Amy Adams, Trouble With the Curve

Adams has three Supporting Actress nominations under her belt already, and this father/daughter drama could get her a Lead Actress nom. The Academy clearly loves her, so between this and The Master (which I am currently predicting her for, as well), it seems fairly likely she’ll get nominated again this year.

Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone

Cotillard made big waves at Cannes this year for her apparently raw performance in this Jacques Audiard drama. It is a French-language performance, though, which could be a tough sell to the Academy.

Helen Hunt, Six Sessions

Since winning her Oscar for As Good as It Gets, Helen Hunt’s career hasn’t exactly been stellar. However, this Sundance hit could be the one to turn it around for her. John Hawkes might overshadow her, since it is his character’s story, but who knows?

Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina

On paper, this sounds like a good bet. It’s the adaptation of a beloved classic novel directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley. That formula worked very well for Knightley with Pride & Prejudice. We’ll have to wait and see if this one works quite as well, though.

Elizabeth Olsen, Liberal Arts

Olsen established herself as a truly talented young actress with Martha Marcy May Marlene last year. And while Liberal Arts looks considerably lighter, she received raves at Sundance, with some critics calling it a star-making turn. Not sure if this is a lead or supporting performance, though.

Other Possibilities: Kristen Wiig (Imogene), Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson), Viola Davis (Won’t Back Down), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), Mia Wasikowska (Stoker), Maggie Smith (Qaurtet), Abbie Cornish (The Girl), Meryl Streep (Hope Springs)

 


Best Supporting Actor

Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond the Pines

Maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe it’s a hunch, but I have a feeling that Bradley Cooper will get serious Oscar consideration this year. I don’t know if the Academy would nominate him in the lead category yet (especially when it’s shaping up to be so competitive this year), but if this is a meaty role and he does it well, this could be the perfect “welcome to the club” nomination for him.

Bryan Cranston, Argo

Affleck has had luck getting his supporting players nominated in the past. There are plenty of possible acting nominations for this film, but Cranston seems to have the right combination of critical respect (for his excellent work on Breaking Bad) and relevance (his many recent supporting roles) to maybe get some Oscar recognition, if the role is good.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained

DiCaprio hasn’t been on the best terms with the Academy recently, and while I don’t think this nomination is a lock by any means, it seems like a pretty good bet. Tarantino always writes fascinating characters, and it should be interesting to see how DiCaprio does with that style.

Woody Harrelson, Seven Psychopaths

Admittedly, I’m at a bit of a loss with this category. Apparently, Harrelson has a very good part in Seven Psychopaths, and he’s had a few good years, so it could happen.

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Joaquin is back, and I think he’ll pick up right where he left off. And while a three-minute clip is hardly enough to go from, he looks fantastic in this movie.

Other Possibilities: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), David Straitharn (Lincoln), Robert De Niro (The Silver Lining Playbook), Justin Timberlake (Inside Llewyn Davis), Guy Pearce (Lawless), Tom Hardy (Lawless), Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Lincoln), Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths)

 


Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Master

I have no idea what Adams’ or Dern’s parts are like (and maybe I’m just way too excited about The Master), but I could see both of them getting nominated. After all, if there’s a category where that could happen, it’s Supporting Actress (The Help! The Fighter! Up in the Air! Doubt! Two of which involved Amy Adams…)

Laura Dern, The Master

Dern has had a bit of a comeback with her work on the TV show Enlightened, and if her part is good, she could receive her first Oscar nomination is twenty years.

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Maybe I’m still sore about Hooper beating Fincher two years back, but for me, Les Miserables just has the faint scent of disaster. Now, if that turns out to be true, that doesn’t mean it’ll get shut out by the Oscars (hey, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Lovely Bones!). Hathaway seems like most likely candidate for a nomination.

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

I’m not sure if this movie will be Oscar’s thing, but Jennifer Lawrence is too big of a force to ignore right now. The Academy voters helped launch her by nominating her for Winter’s Bone, so they’ll probably want to follow that up with another nomination sometime soon.

Olivia Williams, Hyde Park on Hudson

Williams has been turning out fantastic, under-recognized work for many years. Maybe this glossy biopic will be what it takes to get her some attention. Playing Eleanor Roosevelt certainly can’t hurt.

Other Possibilities: Vanessa Redgrave (Song for Marion), Jessica Chastain (Lawless), Reece Witherspoon (Mud), Gemma Arterton (Song for Marion), Sally Field (Lincoln), Kerry Washington (Django Unchained), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jacki Weaver (The Silver Lining Playbook)

On the Horizon: Bradley Cooper

Can we talk about Bradley Cooper’s upcoming projects for a minute? This is a guy whose recent filmography consists mainly of comedies. Yet, he’s slated to work with some of the most celebrated working directors in some pretty meaty-sounding films.

Where did this come from, you ask? Well, Cooper trained at the celebrated Actor’s Studio, and if you’ve ever seen him interviewed, you know that he takes his craft pretty seriously. So he’s got the ambition. But does he have the talent to back it up? Some would say that he hasn’t shown serious acting skill yet. But I’d argue that he’s been very charismatic in films such as The Hangover and Valentine’s Day, and also proved his dramatic potential in this year’s Limitless. The film itself was just okay for me (it was a good premise, and director Neil Burger brought some nice visual flare, but it fell flat in terms of storytelling.), but Cooper proved to be a very capable leading man. And it seems that others took him seriously, too, because we’re going to see a lot of this guy over the next two years. From indie comedies to heavy dramas, Cooper’s got a lot of different opportunities to turn the doubters into fans.

The Words (2012)

  • Plot: “When an aspiring writer claims another man’s long lost work as his own, the price he must pay is more than he could have ever imagined.”
  • Co-stars: Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes, J.K. Simmons, and John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral)
  • Director: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthall (first-time directors)
  • My Thoughts: Cooper likes to play aspiring writers looking for a quick fix, it seems. Interesting cast, potentially interesting premise.

Outrun (2012)

  • Plot: “A former getaway driver jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend”
  • Co-stars: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Dave Koechner, Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Beau Bridges, Ryan Hansen (Party Down), Tom Arnold
  • Director: Dax Shepard and David Palmer
  • My Thoughts: Cooper’s big break was with comedy, so I’m glad to see that he hasn’t abandoned the genre (though he’s doing lots of other stuff, too, which is smart). Cooper reportedly plays a villain here to Shepard’s lead. Shepard and Cooper are two actor who automatically make me interested in a movie, so needless to say, I’m very intrigued about this.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

  • Plot: “A motorcycle stunt rider considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician.”
  • Co-Stars: Ryan Gosling, Rose Byrne, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood, Ben Mendelsohn
  • Director: Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine)
  • My Thoughts: People are already peeing themselves about this project, largely thanks to one Ryan Gosling. Blue Valentine was one of my favourite films of last year, so of course I’m excited for this movie, too. Great supporting cast (Greenwood, Mendelsohn, and Byrne have been doing some great work recently).

The Silver Linings Playbook (2013)

  • Plot: “After spending four years in a mental institution, a former teacher moves back in with his mother and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife.”
  • Co-Stars: Jennnifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, Taylor Schilling, Jacki Weaver
  • Director: David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings)
  • My Thoughts: This is the project that I’m most excited about. The premise grabbed my attention right away, and it seems like it will give Cooper a lot of opportunities to show off his acting chops. I didn’t love The Fighter, but sign me up for this one.

Paradise Lost (2013)

  • Plot: “An action-heavy take on the epic poem centered on the war in heaven between archangels Michael and Lucifer.”
  • Co-Stars: Camilla Belle, Casey Affleck, Djimon Hounsou, Benjamin Walker, Callum McCauliffe, Dominic Purcell
  • Director: Alex Proyas (Knowing, I Robot)
  • My Thoughts: This seems like it could be disastrous (and Proyas’ filmography doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence), or potentially really interesting. Affleck is one of my favourite actors, and with Cooper taking on the role of Lucifer, it should at least be interesting to see play out.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2013)

  • *RUMOURED*
  • Plot: Based on the 1960’s spy TV show of the same name
  • Co-stars: None, yet.
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • My Thoughts: This one isn’t official yet, but word seems to be pretty strong about Cooper’s chance at the starring role. George Clooney was originally attached to the project, but dropped out for unknown reasons. Soderbergh is known for getting great casts, so if this goes through, Cooper will likely have some impressive co-stars to work with.

Trailer Alert: The Hangover Part II

Truth be told, I was avoiding the trailer for The Hangover: Part II. The whole movie just seemed like a bad idea. But I caved. And while there are some laughs to be had in the trailer, my fears were generally confirmed for one major reason – it looks like the same movie as The Hangover. Like, exactly the same, pretty much. Even more than I was expecting. Let’s take a look at the similarities:

  • It’s the same bachelor party plot. Sure, this time it’s Stu getting married. But they really couldn’t think of a slightly different situation for them to get into? The storyline doesn’t have to be exclusive to weddings. There are SO many other scenarios they could put them in with similar outcomes.
  • It’s the same “we lost the _____” plot. It may be the bride’s little brother this time, but it’s way too similar to the first film. Either pick the bachelor party OR the “we lost the _____” storyline. You could go so many different places with either while still keeping the spirit of the first film.
  • Ken Jeong’s character is back. I didn’t even love his character in the first movie, and to make him a (seemingly) more major character this time around is overkill/
  • Justin Bartha still isn’t in on the fun. Surely after the misadventures last time around, Doug would be allowed to get in on the fun. I get that it’s about the main three guys, but why both putting Doug in the movie if you’re just going to sideline him again?
  • Monkey = baby
  • Some of the scenes in the trailer look like they’re straight out of the first film (such as them waking up the morning after). Obviously, it’s fine to reference the original (and I did like Alan’s rehearsal speech about the “pact” at the beginning), but it seems pointless to completely recreate it.
  • Tyson tattoo. Ugh.

Oh, and setting your movie in a foreign location doesn’t make it funnier or more interesting. If fact,
it’s usually quite the opposite. See: Sex and the City 2 (which this trailer reminded me of) and Couples Retreat.