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2014 Oscar Season Preview: December

The end of the year brings the most combative environment for films trying to become Oscar winners. The next four months will be an interesting proving round.

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Trailer Watch: A Most Violent Year, updated (2014)

New Trailer (#2) / New Poster (#2)

A Most Violent Year, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for link to the trailer, more posters (if available) and other commentary not featured here.

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Trailer Watch: The Hobbit, updated (2014)

New Trailer (#2) / New Posters (#3-#16)

The Hobbit, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for link to the trailer, more posters (if available) and other commentary not featured here.

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Weekend Preview: Nov. 21-23, 2014

Below are three previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: V/H/S: Viral (2014)

Poster



Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 21, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation."

Poster: C+ / C

Review: (#1) Playing off the stylistic design of the prior films, this one heaps video tape all over itself, but forming a simple skull isn't enough to make it incredibly distinctive. (#2) This also hearkens back to its predecessors, but is equally uninteresting.

Trailer: B-

Review: The concept is interesting, but unless you've seen the first films, you might not fully understand the point. Still, for a film that was made on a small budget and whose popularity at theaters is muted, the execution of the trailer promises some great scare work if you can get past the shaky cam.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 16, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Happy Valley (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 21, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A documentary that observes the year after Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's arrest on child sex abuse charges."

Poster: D+

Review: It does say all it needs to about the film's subject, but it could have been far more imaginative or distinctive or creative or something.

Trailer: B

Review: The trailer does make for a compelling documentary, especially if you're interested in digging into the climate that led to such a despicable act being reported so long after the events. It also shines a light on the rape culture in the sports industry and the rabid nature of fans who don't seem to care that major crimes were committed against other human beings, as long as they get their football. Could be an informative watch.

Oscar Prospects:

It could be a nominee for Best Documentary Feature, but it hast to clear the semi-finals round first.

Revisions:

(November 16, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Serena (2015)

Poster


Poster #1

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

March 27, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton's timber empire becomes complicated when it is learned that his wife, Serena, cannot bear children."

Poster: C+ / C (2)

Review: (#1) Strange that this week, I'm reviewing two posters designs that are identical in composition. Look at Poster #1 for The Homseman and then look at this first poster and you'll see what I mean. Male lead stoickly looking into the distance, female lead looking towards the foreground or short distance with a tiny inset image in the lower left quadrant that's almost a silhouette but has faint coloring to it. Even the cloudy sunrise/sunset are the same. (#2-#3) Unnecessary character posters designed to sell posters to fans of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper using the core poster's individual positioning and relative visual glance direction.

Trailer: C-

Review: If there was a more generic-looking Oscar-friendly movie starring two appealing young actors I'm not sure what it is. The beats of the trailer, the faux rise and fall of action and the suggestion of impropriety only serve to make the audience less enamored than they probably aren't were.

Oscar Prospects:

The cast involved should have meant a big Oscar push, but this long gestating film has secured an early 2015 release, meaning it probably wasn't as good and Oscar-caliber as it looked on paper.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

Additional Posters



Poster #2Poster #3
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Film Preview: Minions (2015)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

July 10, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Gru is recruited by an organization to stop Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world."

Poster: C

Review: It's the standard teaser poster design for a Despicable Me movie except this time around these guys are the stars, which doesn't make it that much more interesting.

Trailer: C+

Review: Some mildly humorous events, but this trailer is mostly fan service with minimal depth or intrigue, making it unlikely to appeal to any but the most devout minions fans.

Oscar Prospects:

While the Despicable Me franchise picked up its first Best Animated Feature nomination with its second outing, I wouldn't expect much from a spin-off film.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: Furious 7 (2015)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

April 3, 2015

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his crew for the death of his brother."

Poster: C

Review: As teasers go, it's not that impressive. For fans of the franchise, it's probably significant. For everyone else (and possibly even some fans), it isn't.

Trailer: B

Review: The key signature of the Fast & Furious franchise is the car-based action sequences. They open this trailer with quite an impressive one, which will no doubt secure the admiration and attendance of die-hard fans. I don't know if it can reach out past the brand, but it's a noble effort.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

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Looking at the Weekend: Nov. 14-16, 2014

While it isn't much Dumb and Dumber To may be the weekend's top new release, but if it's as bad as it looks and performs as poorly as its predecessor, it could fall to Beyond the Lights.

Individual Commentaries

Wesley Lovell: All the best options are in limited release with Foxcatcher easily topping the list.
Peter J. Patrick: The limited releases are the class acts this week.
Tripp Burton: Some festival favorites, and heavy Oscar contenders, are sneaking out into theaters this weekend, and I am really looking forward to catching up on them.
Thomas LaTourrette: Am waiting for Foxcatcher, which has sounded like a good movie with excellent performances, for over a year. Hopefully, it will live up to its hype. Both Rosewater and Beyond the Lights could prove worthwhile, but someone else will have to go see Dumb and Dumber To, it won't be me.

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Film Preview: The Imitation Game (2014)

Poster


Poster #1

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 28, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II."

Poster: B- / D (2)

Review: (#1) The enigma-cracking device, the forebear of the modern computer, is impressive, but it might not be enough to draw an audience. (#2-#3) The opposite end of impressive are two character posters that are fitting, but ill-fitting at the same time. They have an interesting conceit that feels quite bland contextually.

Trailer: B

Review: Everything that makes a successful biopic is at play in this trailer. There isn't anything new or revolutionary and there's only brief admission that Turing isn't "interested" in Keira Knightley and that such emotion is illegal, but that should be enough to suggest the film at least tackles the topic.

Oscar Prospects:

The big Harvey Weinstein push will propel this film much farther than it might have gotten on its own. Look for it in several top Oscar categories, including a massive push to get Benedict Cumberbatch an Oscar nomination.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

Additional Posters



Poster #2Poster #3
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Trailer Watch: Into the Woods, updated (2014)

Trailer #2 / Posters #1-#11

Into the Woods, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for link to the trailer, more posters (if available) and other commentary not featured here.

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Weekend Preview: Nov. 14-16, 2014

Below are six previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: Saving Christmas (2014)

Poster


Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "Kirk is enjoying the annual Christmas party extravaganza thrown by his sister until he realizes he needs to help out Christian, his brother-in-law who has a bad case of the bah-humbugs. Kirk's fresh look at Christmas provides Christian the chance to see Christ is where He has always been: at the center of our Christmas celebrations and traditions."

Poster: B-

Review: Thematically, the design fits well into the film's advertising campaign. It's a bit heavy-handed, but no more so than the trailer.

Trailer: F

Review: Unless you're a rabid Christian who believes all other religions should be destroyed, you aren't likely to be all that impressed with this trailer. The anti-commercialized-Christmas rant, "Christ back in Christmas" mention and the moderate racism is entirely off-putting. The trailer's construction is slow, belabored, boring and underwhelming.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

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Film Preview: The Homesman (2014)

Poster


Poster #1

Additional posters can be found below.

Trailer Link

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Synopsis:

From IMDb: "A claim jumper and a pioneer woman team up to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa."

Poster: B / C / B

Review: (#1) See my comments in the Serena preview page on this initial poster, each a copy of the other. All that makes this design superior is coloration. (#2) The second is a bit more traditional, but also less colorful and as a result less attractive. (#3) About as visually distinctive as the first design, but re-positioned for all actors, which doesn't alleviate the irritation.

Trailer: C

Review: A dreadfully pedantic, slow trailer featuring bleak, uninteresting performances and a plot that makes sense, but teeters on the edge of traditionalism. None of which makes it very appealing to a modern audience.

Oscar Prospects:

Tommy Lee Jones' second directorial effort is likely to suffer the same fate as his first. Appreciation from critics, but ignorance from the Academy. Even with a cast like this, westerns just aren't Oscar catnip.

Revisions:

(November 9, 2014) Original

Additional Posters



Poster #2Poster #3
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