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IAR's Oscar Predictions 2015

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 10:41

It’s about that time – Oscar predictions have begun.

The year in movies has just a few more weeks to go and the 87th Academy Awards are just around the corner. The race is on, with front-runners taking the lead and others in the mix shaking things up. Every film that hopes to qualify will be in theaters by the last day of December.

Here’s how the top six categories are taking shape, with the top contenders fighting for the five coveted slots (or, in the case of Best Picture, up to ten).

Slap on your headphones and strap in, because you're about to trip the light galactic.

Guardians of the Galaxy hits Blu-ray this week, so it's time to ride shotgun on the Milano with the legendary Star-Lord at the wheel.

Two words: Helen Mirren.

Those two words should be all you need to hear about The Hundred-Foot Journey, which is available on Blu-ray as of today, Tuesday, December 2nd.

After all, Mirren is a peerless thespian, an Oscar-winner and sensuous British sexpot who has been keeping it classy onscreen and off for more than 45 years without losing a step.  She's beyond description as an acting powerhouse and screen presence of near-impossible charisma and poise.  She's Dame Helen Mirren.

She's the first but far from the only reason to recommend The Hundred-Foot Journey, a sure-footed comedy-drama from director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), along with producers Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple, being Oprah) and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln, also The Color Purple).

About 400 days out from its theatrical premiere, the next Star Wars movie now has a full title.

Predictably, there are more opinions about Star Wars: The Force Awakens being caps-lock shouted online than there are womp rats in Beggar's Canyon.  Emotions run high.  That's just how it is with Star Wars, and J.J. Abrams's patented Mystery Box secrecy only amplifies the immediate, intense scrutiny of every single official scrap from Lucasfilm's table.

The most obvious criticism of The Force Awakens as a title is that it's vague, a little generic, and pretty meaningless.  Those very qualities allow Abrams to maintain a sense of mystery that will last until a few weeks before December 18, 2015.  By then, in the middle of Disney's all-out global promotional clusterbomb, you'll have to actively avoid spoilers or big story beats.

It's not really any more vanilla than A New Hope or The Phantom Menace, which kicked off their respective trilogies.  These monikers aren't really about dynamism, they're about a mood.  If nothing else, this new one is more active than those two forerunners: at least here, the title gives the impression that something (the Force) is doing something (awakening).

But The Force Awakens isn't just keeping a secret, nor is it making a bombastic declaration.  The title is all about implication, all about so, so quietly whispering sweet, sweet promises into your ear. 

What are J.J. and company whispering to us with Star Wars: The Force Awakens? In a sly way, they're promising a return to first principles for the franchise, bringing back that uncut magic and launching a future in which Star Wars is somehow more loyal to what George Lucas created now that Lucas himself is only peripherally involved.

In short, they're promising to make you forget about the prequels.

IAR PRESS CONFERENCE COVERAGE: 'Interstellar'

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 11:59

With Interstellar, Christopher Nolan and his phenomenal cast are boldly taking audiences where no one has gone before.

As a writer-director, Nolan has already explored unusual places, from the labyrinth of an amnesiac's mind (Memento) to levels of dreams (Inception) to the urban battleground of Gotham City (the Dark Knight trilogy).

Interstellar presents a far bigger canvas than any of those films, as the blockbuster auteur uses trippy astrophysics to take mankind to the farthest reaches of space.

The film takes place in a near future in which Earth is on the brink of being unable to support human life.  In an effort to find a new home for our species, NASA mounts a mission sending a team of explorers through a wormhole, a cosmic shortcut allowing the intrepid crew to conquer seemingly insurmountable distances.

Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club Oscar winner) stars as Cooper, a widowed pilot and engineer called upon to lead the mission, which includes Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables Oscar winner) as Amelia, a scientist with her own deeply personal reasons for exploring space.  Jessica Chastain (Oscar nominee for Zero Dark Thirty), meanwhile, stays Earthbound as Murph, Cooper's grown-up daughter.

Thanks to Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, IAR was on hand for the Interstellar Los Angeles press day, where Nolan, McConaughey, Hathaway, and Chastain enthusiastically discussed the origins of Interstellar, its aspirational qualities, the thematic focus on family, their own recollections of NASA, acting in spacesuits, and what, ultimately, Interstellar is all about.

The unexpected journey to the Lonely Mountain gets even longer today, but you don't have to face a dragon spitting hot fire to get at this HD treasure.

Instead, you can simply pick up The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug now that the middle chapter in Peter Jackson's massive trilogy is available in a fully loaded Extended Edition Blu-ray.

IAR Blu-ray Preview: 'Maleficent'

Monday, 03 November 2014 10:13

In Maleficent, one of Disney's most beloved and notorious animated villains finally gets her due in live action.

With one of the year's biggest hits arriving on Blu-ray this Tuesday, Angelina Jolie's bravura performance as the iconic, misunderstood fairy can be yours to own in high definition.

IAR PRESS CONFERENCE COVERAGE: 'Fury'

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 11:09

Fury is a World War II movie through and through, but it's not quite like any World War II movie you've ever seen.

The latest from writer-director David Ayer (End of Watch, Sabotage), Fury presents the greatest armed conflict in the history of the human race from a vantage point that's rare in war films.

That vantage point is Fury, a Sherman Tank manned by five soldiers for whom it is their home, their workplace, their burden, and perhaps their salvation.  The titular tank has seen some of the harshest fighting in the war, and as the curtains go down on the European Theater in 1945, its battle-scarred crew must roll into the fray once more, striking at the heart of Germany in the waning days of the war.

Brad Pitt (World War Z) stars as Sergeant Wardaddy, while the rest of Fury's crew is played by Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Jon Bernthal (AMC's The Walking Dead), Michael Pena (End of Watch), and Shia LaBeouf (Nymhomaniac).

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand for the Los Angeles Fury press conference, where he was able to discuss the making of this brutal and uncompromising WWII film with David Ayer and stars Lerman, Pena, and Bernthal.

Apparently there are at least a million ways to die in the west.

Thanks to Blu-ray, there are two different ways to watch A Million Ways to Die in the West: the R-rated theatrical version and an unrated extended edition. 

And since it's Blu-ray, both versions of Seth MacFarlane's western comedy are in pristine high definition.

The cost of freedom, according to no less a source than Captain America, is high.

The cost of one of the year's best reviewed and most loved blockbusters on Blu-ray, however, is much more affordable. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits the high definition format this Tuesday, September 9th, and while there are no shortage of ways to view Cap's latest adventure, Blu-ray is undoubtedly the way to go.

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