Monday, July 23, 2018
Movie News
Movie News

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander

The trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald already hints at this. But star Eddie Redmayne says your suspicions are correct: The sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is firmly a “darker” story.

“The most riveting aspect is the tonal change,” Redmayne tells EW (and, yes, that’s a new photo from the film above). “It’s darker and more rigorous and weaving in the Potter lore we’re much more familiar with. So these characters you met in the first film are now in the wizarding world you understand more thoroughly. When I read [the script] it had these cryptic elements to it and it played like a thriller that made it a page-turner.”

Given the script was written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, that page-turning aspect is hardly a surprise.

Redmayne, who reprises his role of magi-zoologist Newt Scamander in the film, also gave us some story details which gives us a few new hints. Obviously, the dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured in the last film. In the new story, he’s being sent back to Europe to be tried and manages to escape.

“I’m enlisted by Dumbledore (Jude Law) to try and track him down and capture him,” Redmayne says. “What’s happened is Grindelwald’s belief that purebloods should reign over all non-magical beings is a political thing. He’s rallying more and more people and it causes divisions across families. He’s pretty hypnotic.”

Hmm. That description sounds a bit like … You Know Who.

Here’s the teaser trailer as a refresher:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens Nov. 16.

Universal Pictures unveiled the first major trailer of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con Friday with a full look at M. Night Shyamalan’s highly-anticipated Glass. Shyamalan, a filmmaker known for his clever twists, delivered his greatest one yet at the end of 2016’s Split. The James McAvoy starrer was revealed to be a follow-up to Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (2000) and went on to gross $278.5 million worldwide on a $9 million budget.Shyamalan’s plans for a concluding chapter became clear after Split’s success, and moviegoers were rewarded with the knowledge that a trilogy many once believed would never come to fruition would finally be complete. While Unbreakable wasn’t met with the instant success of his previous film, The Sixth Sense (1999), Shyamalan’s deconstruction of the American superhero/villain complex by way of an intricate and restrained thriller has become a cult classic over the years. In the midst of the current explosion of superhero movies, Shyamalan’s films are more prescient than ever. Uniting the casts of Unbreakable and Split, Glass sees Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, and Anya Taylor-Joy team-up for what may be Shyamalan’s most complex film yet.

True to form, Shyamalan’s trailer opens by grounding us in the real-world. The film’s stakes are introduced by a character new to Shyamalan’s world, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychologist who specializes in treating patients with delusions of being superheroes and villains. She says that it’s a growing field, and we learn that her patients are none other than Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), and David Dunn (Bruce Willis). When we last saw Crumb and Dunn, both men were free, seemingly headed towards an inevitable conflict with each other. How they end up in the care of Dr. Staple remains to be seen. Given that Shyamalan is known for his aesthetics and telegraphing his themes through visuals, it’s worth noting that Crumb is placed between Price and Dunn, not only highlighting Split’s placement within the trilogy, but also Crumb’s psychological predicament of being caught between heroism and villainy as a result of his multiple personalities.

YouTube Screengrab/Universal

In the years since the events of Unbreakable, David Dunn has furthered embraced his role as a costumed hero, a job he describes as being “in security.” It will be interesting to see whether Dunn has only been going up against crooks, or if he’s encountered others with special abilities and an awareness of their roles within the dichotomy of comic book morals. Despite his belief in his abilities, which he refers to as feelings, Dunn has kept a low-profile — his rain poncho giving him a spectral appearance that allows him to keep to the shadows, rather than exist in the same limelight of the comic book superheroes Price told him about. Still, given his role as “protector,” and the emergence of others with abilities, it will be fascinating to see how Dunn evolves over the course of the film and whether the world can embrace him out of the shadows, and provide him with a moniker that lives up to his heroic efforts.

Dunn’s nemesis, Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass reveals that he’s been waiting for the world to see that they exist. While the trailer doesn’t provide many hints into his master plan (and you know he has one), he does position his meeting with Crumb as the bad guys teaming up. If Unbreakable and Glass were two parallel superhero and supervillain origin stories, then Glass is the sequel in which the villain comes back more powerful and with a second villain in tow, and the hero is faced with losing everything. Shyamalan seems to not only be playing with comic book conventions, but sequel conventions as well. While comic books and superhero sequels usually have us expecting an outcome where the hero wins, the fact that this is titled Glass gives us reason to pause. If superheroes and villains existed in the real world, who would come out the victor?

Kevin Wendell Crumb aka the Beast, appears to have continued his crimes of kidnapping young women, which presumably leads to his meeting of Price and Dunn. Several new personalities are also revealved in the trailer, which will further create the sense of unpredictability that worked so well for Split. We get glimpses of several action sequences that see Crumb battling Dunn, but we also witness what may perhaps lead to a more interesting revelation as his former victim Casey Cooke meets with him, seemingly pleading with him. Perhaps, Casey, through her empathy instead of Dunn’s brawn, may be able to save Crumb, and offer a better outcome for where he’ll ultimately fall on the hero and villain spectrum.

YouTube Screengrab/Warner Bros. Pictures

While the film’s marketing may naturally focus on Dunn, Price, and Crumb, the film’s other trio, consisting of Casey Cooke, Dunn’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), and Price’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) may ultimately play the most important role in establishing the future of this world. So much of comic book canon is focused on legacy, those who pick up the torch of hero and villain and continue the fight. Casey Cooke, whose name is alliterative like David Dunn, may be positioned as a sidekick and eventual superhero ala Robin. Joseph Dunn’s fate may not be as clear, as he is seen at a comic book shop, with neon signs reading Heroes and Villains shown above his head at different points, setting the character up for an inevitable decision. Price’s mother, who has remained nameless, is also in an interesting position in that many superpowers are inherited. Does Elijah’s mother perhaps have similar genius level intellect that could set her up as a Professor X-like mentor to Casey? Glass is said to be a conclusion, but going by Split’s box office, the eternal nature of comic books, and the hints Shyamalan seems to be dropping, perhaps this film’s greatest twist will reveal that this is only the beginning.

Glass will be released in theaters on January 18th, 2019.

Christian Petersen/Getty
James Gunn
James Gunn is exiting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

The move comes after conservative personalities resurfaced old tweets Thursday in which the filmmaker joked about controversial topics such as pedophilia and rape. Gunn has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement Friday.

On Thursday, Gunn tweeted in response to the tweets being resurfaced, “Many people who have followed my career know, when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.”

He added: “It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.”

The offensive tweets came to light after conservative website The Daily Caller dug up the social media posts, which were mostly posted in 2008 and 2009. Soon after, conservative personalities were tweeting to followers to confront Gunn at Comic-Con. Gunn had been expected to be at Sony’s presentation on Friday. Insiders say Gunn is not expected to be part of the panel now.

Gunn issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying that he “regretted” the tweets in question and stressed that “they don’t reflect the person I am today.”

“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” his statement read. “I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”

He continued: “Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

Gunn has been writing the script for Guardians 3, and the movie was expected to begin shooting in Atlanta in the fall for an expected 2020 release date, though Marvel Studios had never officially announced the date. The Guardians movies have been a massive success for Disney and Marvel. The first movie made more than $773 million worldwide while the second made $863 million. The films stood out from other Marvel movies as they were infused with Gunn’s off-kilter filmmaking sensibilities that owed more to indie genre movies than slicker cookie cutter studio fare. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige had previously indicated that Gunn would continue to work with Marvel after Guardians 3, helping shepherd the cosmic side of the studio’s universe.

A throwback poster for ‘Skyscraper’ (left) and ‘Die Hard’
July 15 marks the 30th anniversary of a truly great modern action film, Die Hard. Unlike even some more recent action classics, Die Hard can comfortably be considered one of the most influential films of the genre. How many other movies in the last three decades have we seen that are basically Die Hard in a different location? Instead of one man trapped in a building with bad guys, we’ve gotten movies with self-contained action on a bus (Speed), on the President’s airplane (Air Force One), on a regular airplane (Passenger 57), on a submarine (Under Siege), and more. This weekend heralds the release of Skyscraper, the latest movie heavily inspired by Die Hard, in which one man is trapped…in a building with bad guys. Not a plane, not a submarine, not a bus, but…a building.

What Skyscraper has that no other Die Hard homage/rip-off has is Dwayne Johnson as its star. His presence elevates the movie a bit, but not enough, because writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber steers away from the things that make Die Hard so memorable 30 years later. The bad guys are largely forgettable, and humor is mostly absent, unlike in the 1988 classic. Elements of the set-up are singular enough. Johnson plays Will Sawyer, an ex-FBI agent who now works as a security consultant. Will and his family have been called to Hong Kong so he can provide a third-party assessment of what is purported to be the tallest skyscraper in the world, known as the Pearl. Soon after he arrives, though, Will is framed for murder, while his wife and kids are trapped in the Pearl as a group of terrorists set a fire in the hopes of destroying the entire structure.

So, yes, there’s a bit of the ’70s-era disaster film The Towering Inferno in the mix here, but Will’s basic one-man mission to save his family is equally reminiscent of the exploits of Bruce Willis’ John McClane in the original Die Hard. Here, granted, Will is a devoted family man with no possible chance of acrimony with his wife. And this movie’s hero, in spite of having a prosthetic leg, is still Dwayne Johnson, so he’s a bit more physically capable than ’80s-era Bruce Willis. But you don’t have to look hard to see connections between this film and Die Hard, which is part of the problem.

The terrorists are, essentially, puffed-up thieves trying to ruin the rich Asian businessman behind the new building. Will, once he’s back in the skyscraper to save his family, resorts to duct tape to patch up a wound. On the ground, the cops initially presume Will is one of the bad guys, though one cop is willing to see him as more heroic. There’s a character who admits he hasn’t picked up a gun in years because of a long-ago incident involving a child. (And you can bet that character does pick up a gun by the end of the film.)

The few moments when Skyscraper doesn’t seem to directly quote Die Hard are when it appears to be quoting other action movies. The most notable example of this movie’s inability to stop copying other films is during a late sequence where Will has to scale the outside of the Pearl to access the security controls for a panic-room-style penthouse. He uses duct tape to wrap his hands and feet so they can adhere to the glass on the outside. Though the methods are different, seeing Johnson dangle on the side of this impossibly tall building calls to mind the jaw-dropping and vertiginous centerpiece of Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, in which Tom Cruise climbed up the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

To suggest that Skyscraper is the first movie of any genre to crib from earlier entries would be utterly ridiculous. Die Hard was not the first action film to pit one man against many, but its specific rendition of familiar tropes felt fresh and original. (This, in spite of the fact that it was inspired by a novel as well.) And The Towering Inferno was the latest in a long line of preposterous disaster films. The problem isn’t specifically that Skyscraper isn’t a very original film; it’s technically not based on something, but that doesn’t make it truly unique. The real problem is that Skyscraper is unable to remove itself from the shadows of older, better action films. It’s always enjoyable to watch Dwayne Johnson in a big-budget blockbuster, sure. But Skyscraper is best at reminding us that Die Hard already did this plot, and did it better.

[This story contains spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp]

Barely two months have passed between the releases of Marvel’s two summer films this year: at the end of April, we got Avengers: Infinity War, and we’re now diving into their latest entry, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Infinity War, as anyone who saw the film remembers, ends on an exceptionally grim note. Half of the universe, including half of our beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes, die at the hands (well, at the bejeweled glove) of the murderous Thanos (Josh Brolin), leaving the survivors in tragic disarray. Ant-Man and the Wasp, as the trailers hinted, is vastly more lighthearted and humorous, and is largely successful at ignoring the dark events of Infinity War.

In fact, it’s only when Ant-Man and the Wasp directly acknowledges the end of the previous entry that this new movie falters. But first, let’s focus on the positive. Ant-Man and the Wasp is, unsurprisingly, very low-stakes, even more so than its predecessor. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is struggling to survive the end of his two-year house arrest at the hands of the U.S. government, a punishment for the part he played in the airport-tarmac sequence of Captain America: Civil War. When we rejoin Scott in his exploits, he’s only got three days left before he’s a free man again. But because of his past journey into the Quantum Realm, Scott has an unexpected connection to the long-thought-dead Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), so her husband Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) recruit Scott once more to help rescue Janet.

This adventure isn’t without its suspense, in the form of the antagonistic Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and the greedy entrepreneur Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). Both Ghost and Sonny want to stand in the way of Hank, Scott, and Hope saving Janet for different reasons; Ghost wants to transfer the quantum energy Janet has harnessed in the Quantum Realm to save herself, while Sonny wants to make money off said energy. But even with those threats, things never seem too scary; Hank’s special lab is hidden from view by being shrunken to miniscule size often, Hope tries to evade capture by making a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser giant-size, and so on. Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t childish or overly immature, but its cheerful sense of humor is a bracing and welcome break from the darkness of Infinity War.

That is, until the very end of the film. After the story proper concludes and the goofily animated end credits begin rolling, we get the first of two post-credits scenes. Here, Scott heads back to the Quantum Realm for a brief trip, wherein he will procure some quantum energy for the now-not-that-evil Ghost. Hope, Hank and Janet all send him back, but right as Scott is ready to return to the real world, he only hears static on his communicator. Why? Well, Hope, Hank and Janet have all been snapped out of existence by Thanos.

The second post-credits scene doubles down on this twist, as we see Scott’s house, deserted by all but a life-size ant used as a house-arrest decoy throughout the majority of the film. Then, the final kicker: Marvel’s typical message stating that the heroes of this specific film will return, but with a period that turns…into a question mark! Because maybe Ant-Man and the Wasp won’t actually return next year!

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
If anything, these post-credit scenes make it even clearer that the heroes of the MCU, with a couple of exceptions (specifically, anyone who died before the final moments of Infinity War), are going to be brought back shortly. Is it possible that a presumed third Ant-Man would just involve Scott Lang and his ex-con pals glooming their way through a halfway-empty San Francisco? Of course there’s a chance. There’s also a chance you’ll get struck by lightning tomorrow. But it’s not exactly likely. The downside to Ant-Man existing in the world of the Avengers, specifically these Avengers, is that dark twists — like half of humanity being snapped out of existence — feel even more at odds with the bouncy tone of what came before those post-credits scenes.

Ant-Man and the Wasp feels more consistent and coherent than the 2015 original. It doubles down on what worked about the first film, expands Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp to the point where she more than earns her place in the title, and is generally very enjoyable. It’s not nearly so jarring to watch a more upbeat superhero film only a couple months after Avengers: Infinity War; in fact, that makes this even more fun. But those post-credits scenes are an unnecessary tease of a film that we’re all going to see next summer, out of obligation if not out of excitement. Sure, it’s intriguing to wonder how Scott Lang will exit the Quantum Realm, but…of course he’s going to. Because of course his friends are coming back. The suspense at the end of the film is just unnecessary and obnoxious.

If the Oscars were held tomorrow, which films would be nominated? 

Though we’re still three months out from the fall festivals positioning the major pieces of the upcoming awards puzzle, 2018 has already placed a fine assortment of goodies into the Oscar oven. From tremendous performances in prestige pictures — like Toni Collette (Hereditary) and Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here) — to Ryan Coogler’s monolithic achievement in the blockbuster arena (Black Panther), here are early contenders on the Oscars radar that have already hit theaters and/or screened at international film festivals in recent months.


With four Oscar nods already under his belt — two for acting and a pair for co-writing two films in Richard Linklater’s Before series — Ethan Hawke is already an Academy-verified staple of prestige cinema. He’s looking to continue that stretch with First Reformed, Paul Schrader’s searing drama about a priest whose personal convictions are tested after a harrowing encounter with an environmental activist. Though he had a dry spell with the Academy between 2005 and 2014, Hawke has built up considerable good will with his peers in recent years, namely for his performances in Boyhood and as jazz legend Chet Baker in Born to Be Blue. Schrader’s latest has unconventional, buzzy appeal, sturdy critical reviews, and an offbeat narrative hook to catch the Academy’s eye, as well as the perfect distributor, A24, to pull off a successful campaign as the film continues to expand to theaters around the country. — Joey Nolfi

David Lee/Focus Features

If the story of a black police officer infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan isn’t surreal enough, the fact that Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is based on a true story is what enables it to pack a punch as a timely reminder of fractured race relations in America back in the 1970s and now. Grounded by strong performances from an ensemble cast led by John David Washington (son of Oscar-winning Denzel Washington) as police officer Ron Stallworth, BlacKkKlansman earned rave reviews at its Cannes debut this year, winning the coveted Grand Prix and cementing it as an early awards contender. — Piya Sinha-Roy

Behind a great man is a greater woman with a baffling Oscar losing streak to her name. At least that’s the case with director Björn Runge’s The Wife starring Glenn Close, the queen of unfinished Academy Awards business. Having amassed an astonishing six nominations over the last 35 years, Close has yet to win a single trophy, but that could change as she starts into the crowded race ahead. She plays a woman whose repressed talents manifest in mysterious ways as her husband collects the Nobel Prize for literature in Stockholm. This literary adaptation enjoyed an enthusiastic reception at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival last September, and Sony Pictures Classics — which launched Call Me by Your Name and A Fantastic Woman into the awards fray last year — picked up the distribution rights. Given that the Academy’s typically all aboard an “overdue” narrative (Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet reaped similar benefits in recent years) and the fact that Close is enjoying some of the best reviews of her career, there may be a lot at play here. — Joey Nolfi©Marvel Studios 2018

Filmmaker Ryan Coogler not only delivered Marvel’s first black superhero standalone film to critical praise and stellar box office success, but demonstrated how to ground a fantastical world with timely social messages. Amid the lavish world of Wakanda and a spotlight on black excellence, Ryan Coogler explores what it means to be black today through Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa and Michael B. Jordan’s powerful performance as empathetic villain Erik Killmonger. Given Black Panther‘s groundbreaking role in cinematic history, it’s likely to earn a place in the best picture race. — Piya Sinha-RoyA24

If the Oscars handed out accolades for scaring the living hell out of people, the cast and crew behind one of the best films of the year would easily triumph in one fell, bone-chilling swoop. As terrifying as Hereditary is, thanks to first-time director Ari Aster’s assured direction, Toni Collette gives the film its heart and soul thanks to a brilliantly committed performance as a grieving mother battling a supernatural force threatening her family. The film kicked off 2018 with overwhelmingly positive critical reaction from Sundance, and Collette has since steamrolled a mountain of praise through the project’s summer release. Digital buzz among the film set has swarmed in her favor, too, meaning Collette could be the critical darling who winds up garnering Oscar gold at the end of the season. — Joey Nolfi

Ariel Nava/Lionsgate

Hamilton alum Daveed Diggs takes center stage alongside co-star and co-writer Rafael Casal in a tale of two friends navigating their friendship against the backdrop of a fast-gentrifying Oakland. While Blindspotting is a poetic ode to their native Bay Area hometown, it is Diggs’ portrayal as Collin — a man concluding probation who happens to witness a white police officer shoot an unarmed black man — that could garner him recognition. — Piya Sinha-Roy


Yes, the film box office hasn’t been exactly lacking in superheroes, but it has been missing Pixar’s first superhero family for the past 14 years. The return of the super-powered Parr family — Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and their three children Violet, Dash and scene-stealing Jack-Jack — has been welcomed warmly by critics and audiences, with Incredibles 2 smashing opening weekend box office records and serving up a reminder of the importance of inclusion in society. Given the love usually bestowed on Pixar films, this is the title to beat in the animated race. — Piya Sinha-Roy

Paramount Pictures

Natalie Portman’s breathtakingly gorgeous voyage into the otherworldy horrors of the Shimmer didn’t strike a chord with audiences at the box office, pulling in a so-so $32.7 million earlier this year. Critics, on the other hand, lapped up Alex Garland’s directorial follow-up to the 2015 sci-fi hit Ex Machina, which  scored a surprise Oscar for Best Visual Effects the following year. Expect critical bodies to throw Portman’s lead performance some well-deserved love at their year-end awards, but it’s the filmmaker’s returning visual effects team members Andrew Whitehurst and Sara Bennett who will likely reap the most Academy affection at the top of 2019. — Joey NolfiFOX Searchlight

The whimsical world of Wes Anderson often strikes a chord with awards voters — for instance, The Grand Budapest Hotel won four of its eight Oscar nominations in 2014. Isle of Dogs sees the idiosyncratic filmmaker return to the world of stop-motion animation to tell a tale of an alternate reality near-future Japan where dogs are banished to an island. The film faces challenges after some critics panned the film for not hiring a more diverse voice cast and kicking off a larger conversation around cultural appropriation. Billed as an homage to his Japanese cinematic heroes, Anderson and his scrappy pups may be the underdogs in the animated feature race. — Piya Sinha-RoyMagnolia Pictures

The $10 million domestic box office success of documentary RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may reflect audiences’ desire to see real-life superheroes. Or it may just reflect the power that Ginsburg holds as a beacon of justice in a fractured political sphere. Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West trace the life and legacy of Ginsburg in their documentary, and offer a snapshot into the fiercely sharp mind of a trailblazing legal warrior. In the Time’s Up era in Hollywood, RBG has garnered praise from critics for spotlighting how one woman broke the rules and helped pave the way for a new generation of female empowerment. — Piya Sinha-RoyRichard Foreman, Jr. SMPSP/Sony Pictures

The second chapter of writer Taylor Sheridan’s Sicario world features Benicio Del Toro reprising his role as the deadly hitman Alejandro in a film that takes him on a violent journey when he’s contracted to kidnap a drug kingpin’s daughter. While Sicario: Day of the Soldado plays into timely themes of immigration and drug cartels, it is Alejandro’s unexpected arc and tragic backstory that could also earn Del Toro — who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2001 for Traffic — some long-overdue awards love. — Piya Sinha-Roy


Kimberly French/Focus Features

Charlize Theron, Jason Reitman, and Diablo Cody re-teamed for another round of dramedy magic on the 2018 Sundance breakout Tully, a powerful examination of the woes of motherhood, another winning entry in the trio’s powerful working relationship. With a pair of Oscars and another five nominations between the actress, director, and screenwriter, Tully‘s got the pedigree (and universal critical praise) behind it to make it one to watch out for in the acting and screenwriting categories. — Joey Nolfi


The Fred Rogers Company

Amid the recent wave of unsettling news from politics to Hollywood, Morgan Neville’s earnest, refreshing biographical documentary about the good-natured TV legend Fred Rogers is a meaningful reminder of the simple ties of kindness that bind humanity. Sweet but never twee, Neville’s essential meditation on the Pittsburgh-based host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (and the generations he influenced) taps into a nostalgic emotional vein. At the same time, he finds new context for Rogers’ enduring message of compassion and understanding to flourish in the age of contemporary chaos.  — Joey NolfiParamount Pictures

The long-anticipated on-screen pairing of Hollywood darlings Emily Blunt and John Krasinski did not fail to deliver at the box office and otherwise in this tense thriller about a family living in silence as they hide from monsters that are summoned by noise. Blunt’s powerful performance as a pregnant matriarch and co-lead Krasinski’s skillful directing and innovative take on the horror genre may put the couple together into the awards race. — Piya Sinha-Roy

Alison Cohen Rosa/Amazon Studios

Though it’s been more than a year since Lynne Ramsay debuted her brutal psychological drama at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival (to much acclaim plus awards for best screenplay and best actor), critical enthusiasm for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as a PTSD-ravaged mercenary tasked with rescuing sex-trafficked girls hasn’t subsided. The esteemed actor has yet to notch an Oscar nomination since leading 2012’s The Master, which upped his overall count of nods to three. In other words, he may be due for more Academy recognition, and he just might get it for playing a role in which he’s more present than ever. Since 2008, four of 10 of Cannes’ best actor winners have gone on to win or be nominated for the corresponding Oscar, so there’s a slight precedent bolstering his bid, too. — Joey Nolfi

Peter Mountain/Paramount Pictures

In hindsight, writer-director Alex Garland’s previous outing, 2015’s brilliant, chilly Ex Machina, feels like a grayscale precursor to the Technicolor wonder of his latest sci-fi epic — a story so sneakily clever and visually surreal that it’s still haunting our dreams (and our Halloween costume ideas) months later. 


Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios

Superhero movies have always given us supersize experiences: the scope, the scale, the CG shock and awe. Ryan Coogler’s inaugural entry into the Marvel Universe offered all that, but also so much more — an electric, action-saturated joyride, a marvelous sense of place, and a deeply personal celebration of black excellence. Wakanda forever. 


Cohen Media Group

French provocateur François Ozon (Swimming Pool) dips his toes into the deep end of Hitchcockian perversity with this twisty, kinky erotic thriller about a woman (Marine Vacth) drawn to a pair of identical-twin doctors (Jérémie Renier). Jacqueline Bisset swings by to lend this utterly preposterous mindscrambler some class. Not that it needs any. 



We’re only six months into the year, but right now, Ari Aster’s Hereditary is the horror movie to beat. Toni Collette gives a gutwrenching performance as a mother grappling with a family tragedy and the terrifying outer limits of the supernatural. Nineteen years after The Sixth Sense, Collette gets a more-than-worthy companion piece. 


Scott Patrick Green/A24

A boy. A horse. A wide-open Western landscape. If the outlines of Andrew Haigh’s lyrical drama — anchored by the quiet, luminous presence of his young lead, Charlie Plummer — sound familiar, the reality is both infinitely harsher and more original: a film that captures with searing immediacy what it is to be young, broke, and lost in America. 

Warner Bros. Pictures

Think of this magical, whimsical sequel as the best Wes Anderson movie that Wes Anderson never made. Our marmalade-loving hero, who brightens the lives of everyone he meets, has to retrieve a pop-up book stolen by Hugh Grant’s thief of a thousand disguises. Absolute perfection, regardless of your age. 


CNN Films/Sundance

Arguably the year’s most impressive onscreen superhero, the small-but-mighty Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets an intimate, moving, and unexpectedly funny documentary about her one-of-a-kind career. While her fiery dissents behind the D.C. bench are inspiring, the film’s biggest revelation is her years as a trailblazing feminist lawyer on an unwavering crusade for equal rights, arguing in front of the very court she would later join. 


Oscilloscope Laboratories

A little girl (the remarkable Laia Artigas) loses her mother to AIDS and is sent to live with her uncle in the Spanish countryside in Carla Simón’s lush autobiographical drama, a story that captures the truth of childhood with such luminous dreamlike intensity, it feels like a small death just to let it go. 

Kimberly French/Focus Features

She’s the harried, overworked mother of two, with a third on the way. But when Charlize Theron’s Marlo is gifted a fantastically capable night nurse (Mackenzie Davis), the fogbank lifts. Is it all too good to be true? The answer is a revelation in this whip-smart missive on marriage, identity, and modern parenthood.

Jim Judkis/Focus Features

If you want to see the world through the eyes of a child again — and, frankly, who doesn’t with all that’s going on in Washington? — Morgan Neville’s delightful, heartfelt documentary about PBS’ cardigan-clad Mr. Rogers is just the balm of kindness we could all use more of. Our answer: Yes, we’d love to be your neighbor.

Everett Collection

Before Grease exploded into a worldwide phenomenon grossing nearly $400 million worldwide, it played in a former trolley barn in Chicago. Advertising copywriter Jim Jacobs and high school art teacher Warren Casey wrote the script, music, and lyrics to the production as a way to commemorate the great doo-wop songs on the 1950s. In 1972, Grease played off-Broadway in New York City, landing on the radar of producer Allan Carr, who nabbed the movie rights and brought it to Paramount.

The film received a $6 million budget and shot over the course of two months at Venice High School and other Los Angeles locations. In its latest issue (and ahead of Grease‘s transformation to a live staged event airing Sunday on Fox), Vanity Fair explored what went into the making of the 1978 box office hit. Tell us more, tell us more:

Paramount wanted Henry Winkler for the role of Danny Zuko.

And Carr pictured the leading man as a busboy and gas station attendant who sang “Gas Pump Jockey.” “Greased Lightnin’” was originally imagined for the Beach Boys.

John Travolta eventually claimed “Greased Lightnin’” for himself, but not from the Beach Boys.

In the Broadway production, Kenickie heads the ode to hot rods, but Travolta wanted the hip gyrating for himself. “I have to be completely honest with you,” Travolta told Vanity Fair. “I wanted the number. And because I had clout, I could get the number.”

Carrie Fisher was considered to play Sandy.

Susan Dey, Deborah Raffin, and Marie Osmond were also in the running, but Osmond protested to Sandy’s transition from good girl to sexy biker chick.

Marie’s brother Donny was imagined as the Teen Angel. And so was Elvis.

Carr had Donny Osmond in mind for the appearance, and Elvis — who died during the summer the film was shot — was also rumored for the part, which eventually went to Frankie Avalon.

Sandy wasn’t always Australian.

After Olivia Newton-John expressed concern with being able to do an American accent, Carr rewrote the role.

Lorenzo Lamas dyed his hair blond to play Tom Chisum.

After replacing President Gerald Ford’s son Steven for the part, Lamas scheduled a hair appointment. “They told me they had to dye my hair a lighter color, because I was 6’2? and bulky and they did not want me to look like a T-Bird,” Lamas told the monthly. “So they sent me to Rodeo Drive to dye my hair blond. I would have dyed it purple to be in that movie.”

Coach Calhoun was almost played by a porn star.

Harry Reems got his name in Hollywood after appearing in Linda Lovelace’s Deep Throat, but Paramount eventually replaced him with Sid Caesar.

Rizzo’s “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” almost didn’t make the movie.

“Allan was very wishy-washy on the song,” Stockard Channing, the actress behind the movie’s toughest Pink Lady, said. “He thought it was a downer.” Ten of the play’s 20 original songs were axed entirely or reduce to background music.

Travolta brought Scientology to the set.

When director Randal Kleiser fell ill after getting a foot infection, Travolta visited his trailer to offer a “touch assist.” “I was lying there with this fever and he’s poking me and poking me and poking me and I’m like, ‘Yes, I feel it.’ ‘Thank you.’ Then he left,” Kleiser remembered to Vanity Fair. “The next day I was better, and of course he claimed it was because of the touch assist.”

There were plans for a sequel called Summer School.

The film would have focused on the wedding of Rizzo and Kenickie, Vanity Fair reports, but it was never made. Grease 2 arrived in its place in 1982.

Head here for more from Vanity Fair‘s deep dive into the making of Grease.

Courtesy of Netflix; Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest; Warner Bros./Photofest; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest

As the month of June begins, a number of new movies and fresh seasons of TV series will be added to Netflix.

Movies including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, The Departed, Blue Jasmine, The King’s Speech, Just Friends, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rumor Has It and Tarzan will all be added to the streaming service throughout the month of June. Season 14 of Grey’s Anatomy and season eight of Portlandia will also become available during the month.

A number of Netflix originals will join the streaming service, including the films Set It Up, Sunday’s Illness and Alex Strangelove. New seasons of The Ranch, GLOW, Marcella and Marvel’s Luke Cage will also premiere, as well as the series finale film of Sense 8.

Take a look below at the complete list of June TV show and movie additions.

June 1

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

101 Dalmatians
Assassination Games
Blue Jasmine

The Boy
The Covenant
The Departed
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
He Named Me Malala
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth
Just Friends
National Treasure
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
November 13: Attack on Paris
Outside In
The Prince & Me 4: The Elephant Adventure
Righteous Kill
Rumor Has It
Taking Lives
Terms and Conditions May Apply

June 2


The King’s Speech

June 6

Thor: Ragnarok

June 7

Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast: Season 2
The Night Shift: Season 4

June 8

Alex Strangelove
Ali’s Wedding
Marcella: Season 2
Sense8: The Series Finale
The Hollow
The Staircase
Treehouse Detectives

June 9

Wynonna Earp: Season 2

June 10

Portlandia: Season 8

June 14

Cutie and the Boxer
Marlon: Season 1

June 15

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
La Hora Final
Lust Stories
The Ranch: Part 5
Set It Up
Step Up 2: The Streets
Sunday’s Illness
True: Magical Friends
True: Wonderful Wishes
Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 6

June 16

Grey’s Anatomy: Season 14
In Bruges

June 17

Club de Cuervos presenta: La balada de Hugo Sánchez
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 5

June 18


June 19

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

June 22


Brain on Fire
Cooking on High
Derren Brown: Miracle
Heavy Rescue: 401: Season 2
Marvel’s Luke Cage: Season 2
Us and Them

June 23


June 24

To Each, Her Own (Les Goûts et les couleurs)

June 25

Hotel Transylvania: Season 1

June 26

Secret City
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro

June 29

Churchill’s Secret Agents: The New Recruits
GLOW: Season 2
Harvey Street Kids
Kiss Me First
La Forêt
La Pena Maxima
Nailed It!: Season 2
Paquita Salas: Season 2
Recovery Boys

June 30

Fate/EXTRA Last Encore: Oblitus Copernican Theory



Black Panther was the big winner at the 19th annual Golden Trailer Awards on Thursday evening, claiming the top prize and four trophies in all, the most of the night. The Disney superhero movie won Best of Show and Best Action for the trailer “Crown,” as well as Best Action TV Spot for a Feature Film (“Entourage”) and Best Music TV Spot for a Feature Film (“Women of Wakanda”).

On the television front, Netflix’s Stranger Things 2 and HBO’s Westworld season 2 took home three awards each.

Held at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the GTAs honor the best in trailers, TV spots, and other media marketing. Actress and comedian Michelle Buteau (Enlisted, The Tick) hosted the ceremony.

“It was another amazing year for marketers and for moviegoers who love trailers,” GTA founder Evelyn Watters said in a statement. “This competition recognizes a field of artists and editors who toil behind the scenes but are most responsible for filling theaters and getting people invested in what is coming soon to theaters around the world.”

Among studios, Warner Bros. (including HBO and New Line Cinema), Fox (including Fox Searchlight and FX), and Netflix collected 13 awards each. Trailer creators Trailer Park, Mark Woollen & Associates, and Buddha Jones took home nine, seven, and seven trophies, respectively.

The Golden Trailer Awards dole out 108 different awards in all, but only 17 of the categories were presented before a live crowd at the Ace. See a list of winners for the awards presented live below, and visit the GTA website to watch some of the winning entries.


Best of Show
Black Panther, “Crown”
Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios

Best Action
Black Panther, “Crown”
Walt Disney Studios
Best Animation / Family
Isle of Dogs
Fox Searchlight
Giaronomo Productions

Best Comedy
Lady Bird
A24 Films
Giaronomo Productions

Best Documentary
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Focus Features
Mark Woollen & Associates

Best Drama
The Shape of Water, “Escape”
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Best Fantasy Adventure
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, “Expelliarmus”
Warner Bros.

Best Horror
A Quiet Place, “Hunt”
AV Squad

Best Independent Trailer
I, Tonya, “Haters”

Best Music
Baby Driver, “Tekillyah”
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Trailer Park

Best Summer Blockbuster Trailer
The Incredibles 2, “Illegal”
Trailer Park
Best Teaser
Deadpool 2, “Cable Red”
20th Century Fox
Best Thriller
Unsane, “Believe”
Bleecker Street
Buddha Jones
Best Video Game Trailer
Call of Duty: WWII, “Reveal Trailer”
Golden Fleece
The Meg, “Carnage”
Warner Bros. Pictures
Trailer Park
Most Original Trailer
Deadpool 2, “Paintings — Bob Ross Trailer”
20th Century Fox
MOCEAN/Big Picture