Jami Philbrick

Jami Philbrick

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Sunday, 28 December 2014 23:20

IAR's TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

Greetings “ROGUE warriors.” As the end of the year is fast approaching, it’s time to announce IAR’s Top Ten Films of 2014

The following is a look back at my ten favorite movies of 2014. In order to qualify for this list, the film either had to be released in theaters or digitally before December 31st. It’s important to note that at the time of this publication, I have seen almost every movie released in 2014 with the exception of American Sniper, Still Alice, Cake, Begin Again, Get On Up, and The Fault in Our Stars

That being said, the list compiled below is based on the movies that I did see this year, and which of those were my favorites. Criteria considered for nomination includes: overall enjoyment, rewatchability, and artistic merit. Honorable mention goes to Gone Girl, Dom Hemingway, Snowpeircer, The Lego Movie, A Most Violent YearFoxcatcherWild, Boyhood, Bad Words and Obvious Child, all of which came very close to making the final cut. 

Opening in theaters on December 25th is the new film from visionary director Tim Burton (Frankenweenie, Batman) called Big Eyes, which is based on the true story of artist Margaret Keane. The movie was written by Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood) and Scott Alexander (The People vs. Larry Flynt), and stars five-time Academy Award-nominee Amy Adams (Man of Steel), two-time Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet), Krysten Ritter (A.K.A. Jessica Jones), Jason Schwartzman (Saving Mr. Banks), Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and Terence Stamp (Superman II). 

IAR's Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently had the pleasure of sitting down with writers Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander at their office on the Sony lot in Los Angeles to talk about their work on Big Eyes. The two accomplished actors discussed their new film, what interested them about the source material, writing a female protagonist, making Walter Keene (Christoph Waltz) a sympathetic antagonist, how long they have been working on the project, why they asked Tim Burton to direct, and collaborating with the legendary filmmaker. 

Tracey Ullman is an Emmy-winning actress, legendary comedian, and former pop star! So it only makes sense that she would now combine all of her talents for the new film Into the Woods, which is based on the beloved Stephen Sondheim musical of the same name and opens in theaters on Christmas Day. 

Ullman began her career in the ‘80s as a successful pop singer with such hits as “Breakaway” and “The Don’t Know.” But she made a name for herself as a comedian on the groundbreaking and Emmy Award-winning Fox TV series The Tracey Ullman Show, which was also the birthplace of The Simpsons. She went on to star in two more sketch comedy series, HBO’s Tracey Takes On…, and Showtime’s Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union. She has also appeared in several movies from acclaimed filmmakers like Lawrence Kasdan’s I Love You to Death, Robert Zemeckis Death Becomes Her, Mel BrooksRobin Hood: Men in Tights, James L. BrooksI’ll Do Anything, Woody Allens Bullets over Broadway, Everyone Says I Love You, and Small Time Crooks, Robert Altman’s Pret-a-Porter, John Water’s A Dirty Shame, and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

Into the Woods revolves around a witch that tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree. Ullman plays Jack’s Mother, a poor woman that’s child sells their last cow for magic beans. The film was directed by Academy Award-nominee Rob Marshall (Chicago), and also stars Academy Award-nominees Emily Blunt (Arthur Newman), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), and Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger), as well as James Corden (Begin Again), Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness), Christine Baranski (The Birdcage), and Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady). 

I recently had the absolute honor of speaking with Tracey Ullman about her work on Into the Woods and her legendary career. The iconic comedic actress discussed her new film, returning to music, singing in the car with Meryl Streep, being familiar with the source material, having Stephen Sondheim give the production his blessings, director Rob Marshall, the legendary filmmakers she has worked with throughout her career, which young female comedians are her favorite, and how she feels about having discovered The Simpsons.

Wes Bentley is one of the few actors that can successfully balance a career in both independent and studio films. 

Bentley first gained attention for his breakout role in the Academy Award-winning film American Beauty, and has since gone on to appear in such big budget studio movies as Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex, The Hunger Games, and most recently Interstellar. But the actor has also starred in a number of independent films including There Be Dragons, The Time Being, Cesar Chavez, The Better Angels, and the upcoming Night of Cups, which was directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, Badlands). His latest film is After The Fall, which opens in New York theaters and on VOD December 12th before opening in Los Angeles theaters on December 20th. 

After The Fall was co-written and directed by two-time Academy Award-nominated editor turned first time director Saar Klein (Almost Famous, The Thin Red Line). The film revolves around a suburban father and husband named Bill Scanlon (Bentley) that due to economic difficulties embraces a life of crime in order to support his family. While Bill begins an unusual friendship with troubled police officer Frank McTiernan (Jason Isaacs), his wife Susan (Vinessa Shaw) discovers his secret and becomes determined to do anything to save her family and their lifestyle. 

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Wes Bentley about After The Fall, Interstellar, and Knight of Cups. The accomplished actor discussed After The Fall, his reaction to its unusual poster, why he liked the script’s economic themes, Jason Isaacs, Bill and Frank’s odd friendship, Susan’s true motivations, Saar Klein’s advantage as a first time director, Interstellar, watching Christopher Nolan direct, Knight of Cups, who has scenes with in the film, working with Terrence Malick, and balancing independent and studio movies. 

Opening in theaters on December 19th is Annie, which is a reboot of the beloved musical and ‘1980s movie. 

The new film is an updated version of the classic story and was directed by Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits, Easy A). The plot revolves around Annie (Academy Award-nominee Quvenzhane Wallis), a foster kid living with a mean foster parent named Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). She soon sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate William Stacks (Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx) takes her in. The movie was produced by musician Jay-Z and superstar actor Will Smith (I, Robot), and also stars Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class), Bobby Cannavale (Chef), and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Pompeii). 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Will Gluck about his work on Annie. The accomplished director discussed his new film, how he got involved with the project, his concept for the reboot, the out-of-the-box casting of Quvenzhane Wallis, if he was surprised by the media reaction to that choice, Jamie Foxx’s influence on the music in the movie, drawing inspiration from the musical as well as the ‘80s film, and breaking the forth wall. 

Opening in Los Angeles theaters on December 19th, and New York theaters on December 12th is the new thriller from Academy Award-nominated writer and director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) called The Captive. The film stars Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern), Scott Speedman (Good Neighbors), Rosario Dawson (Gimme Shelter), Mireille Enos (TV's The Killing), Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution), and Bruce Greenwood (Flight).

IAR's Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Atom Egoyan and Scott Speedman to talk about their work on The Captive. The Oscar-nominated writer/director and popular actor discussed their new film, its themes, why Egoyan wanted to make the movie, Speedman's character's motivations, and casting Ryan Reynolds against type. 

Actor William Fichtner is a true scene-stealer! For almost 20 years he has shined in every part he’s played on film and television no matter how small the role. 

Fichtner has appeared in such films as Heat, Armageddon, Go, The Perfect Storm, Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, The Dark Knight, The Lone Ranger, Elysium, and most recently director Tommy Lee JonesThe Homesman. But he is probably best known to television audiences for his role as FBI agent turned fugitive Alexander Mahone on Prison Break, and his current series Crossing Lines. Fichtner also starred in last summer’s hit movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was a reboot of the popular franchise and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning December 16th. 

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when the Foot Clan threatens New York City, a group of mutated turtle warriors must emerge from the shadows to protect their home. Fichtner plays Eric Sacks, a famous scientist and the CEO of Sacks Industries who has ties to both the Foot Clan’s leader Shredder, as well as the origins of the Turtles. In addition to Fichtner, the film also stars Megan Fox (Jonah Hex) as April O’Neil, Will Arnett (The Nut Job) as Vern Fenwick, and Academy Award-winner Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost) as Bernadette Thompson, as well as Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grandpa) as the voice of Leonardo, and Tony Shalhoub (Pain & Gain) as the voice of Splinter. 

I recently had the honor of speaking with the great William Fichtner about his work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as The Homesman. The impressive veteran actor discussed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, his knowledge of the source material before agreeing to appear in the film, if it’s true that Sacks was originally going to be revealed as the villain Shredder, if the actor took inspiration for his character from any real life CEOs, his friendship with Michael Bay, Bay’s role as producer, why he liked working with director Jonathan Liebesman, The Homesman, and being directed by Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones

Opening in theaters on December 19th is the new movie from Academy Award-nominated writer and director Mike Leigh (Another Year, Secrets & Lies) called Mr. Turner, which is already earning early Oscar buzz. The film stars Timothy Spall (The Love Punch, The King's Speech), Paul Jesson (Coriolanus), Dorothy Atkinson (Topsy-Turvey), Marion Bailey (Vera Drake), Leslie Manville (Maleficent). 

IAR's Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Timothy Spall to talk about his work on Mr. Turner. The acclaimed English actor discussed his new film, what it's like on a Mike Leigh set, how the director and cast create the script together, and how Leigh frames his shots. 

Opening in theaters, OnDemand and iTunes December 5th is the new Boston-set crime drama By the Gun, which was directed by James Mottern (Trucker) and stars Ben Barnes.

Barnes is best known for playing Prince Caspian in the last two installments of The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy, as well as appearing in such films as Stardust, Killing Bono, The Words, and The Big Wedding. Barnes will soon be seen opposite Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges in the highly anticipated adventure fantasy Seventh Son, which will be released in theaters on February 6th, 2015.

By the Gun stars Barnes as Nick Tortano, a young and ambitious Boston mafia criminal whose life spirals out of control once he becomes a made man. With Nick's girlfriend (Leighton Meester), family, and friend's lives at risk, he is faced with a difficult decision; continue to pursue his criminal ambitions or concentrate on the ones he loves. He can't have both, but Nick is determined to gun down anyone in his path. In addition to Barnes and Meester, the film also stars Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction), Toby Jones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Paul Ben-Victor (Daredevil).

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ben Barnes about his work on By the Gun, as well as Seventh Son. The popular young actor discussed his new film, shooting in Boston, what he learned about his character from the local community, practicing a Boston accent, his character’s dilemma, appearing in a gangster movie with Harvey Keitel, Seventh Son, why it’s original release date was postponed, and working with the great Jeff Bridges

Friday, 12 December 2014 15:49

EXCLUSIVE CLIP: 'Poker Night'

Opening in theaters on December 20th and VOD and iTunes December 5th is the new crime thriller Poker Night, which was written and directed by Greg Francis (FBI: Criminal Pursuit). The film stars veteran actors Titus Welliver (Argo), Ron Perlman (Drive), Ron Eldard (Super 8), and Giancarlo Esposito (The Usual Suspects), as well as Beau Mirchoff (I Am Number Four). 

IAR is proud to present an exclusive clip from Poker Night.

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