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Out in Theaters: ‘THOR: RAGNAROK’

Candy-colored Thor: Ragnarok is a retro, dimension-hopping hoot. Rambunctious, joyous and just plain fun to watch, Ragnarok is shellacked with vintage Taika Waititi style, the critical darling director behind such rollicking Rotten Tomatoes-adored comedy-adventures as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows and Boy retaining his idiomatic filmmaking tactics even under the watchful eye of notoriously handsy Marvel producers. The best of the Thor films (and this coming from someone who actually admits to enjoying the previous two), Ragnarok employs Taika’s signature witty, irreverent approach to comedy and his knack for building genuine camaraderie among squirelly outcasts to craft the funniest blockbuster of the year, one that doubles as a hell of an odd-couple intergalactic road trip, even if it still barely breaks the lather-rinse-repeat nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mold.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: CINDERELLA

From the first time they put pen to paper, the House of Mouse changed things. Classics from Snow White to Sleeping Beauty capitalized on groundbreaking innovation, brokered a new medium for entertainment and launched the phenomenon of the Disney princess, a cultural landmark that lasted for decades. Maybe it was my being a teenager and all, but from what I gathered, that cultural landmark dried up around Y2K, petering out with a string of computer animated duds. Dinosaur, Atlantis, Brother Bear and Chicken Little all represented a low point for the imaginative power of the ubiquitous studio, especially when juxtaposed with the meteoric rise of Pixar. With a certifiable hit in Princess and the Frog reviving the old-fashioned charm of the Disney engine a year earlier, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland arrived on the scene to dominate the box office to the tune of a billion dollars. Dollar signs in their eyes, the once great studio turned its attention to recycling old mainstays with new CGI to the collective groan of people everywhere. Read More

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2014 Oscar Winners and Prediction Contest Champions

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Alright, alright, alright. After a long-winded Academy Award ceremony, barely held together by a scrambling Ellen Degeneres, we can finally confirm our suspicions that the 2014 Oscars held little surprises. In fact, it was probably the most straight forward year in Oscar prognosticating in a long time. I personally went 22 for 24, missing out on Live Action Short (a miss I hardly lament) and Documentary. I went with The Act of Killing knowing it was the underdog but I also really just didn’t want to put my money on 40 Feet from Stardom as I thought it was the least provocative of all five docs this year and would stand for a very uneventful win. Well, considering the course Ellen chartered the ceremony in, I ought to have seen uneventful in my future.

As expected, the musical numbers dragged their feet and did little more than add valuable time onto an already long-winded ceremony. The addition of Bette Midler and Pink, whose performances seemed better suited for a old folk’s home than a hurried primetime broadcast, hardly helped to distract from the fact that Lana Del Ray was shafted from the event. Just as Ellen never quite managed to have a handle on her material, the shamble from act to act showed the seams of the event coming unfurled, a clear sign of lazy production and careless direction. While the final picks themselves proved uneventful at best, the presentation of them was even more yawn-inducing.

The highlights came in the form of the four acting acceptance awards with Lupita Nyong’o offering up an eloquent speech the likes of which had the world eating from the palm of her hand. J La may be America’s sweetheart but you better believe that Lupita just made sure that no one forgets her name. An earnest and family-dedicating speech from Jared Leto showed a man who, despite all the attention he’s received this year still seems genuinely humbled by such an award. Cate Blanchett, skirting around mention of Woody, took the opportunity of her win to steer her speech into a poignant tidbit on how cinema with a female lead is not niche. For its brevity and pointedness, Blanchett had us all ears and earned our attention. However my favorite bit of the night probably came at the hands of Matthew McConaughey sermonizing about heroes then painting a potrait of his dad sauntering around the afterlife sans pans and slugging a shitty beer. In that speech, he embodied the McConassiance and I think has us all waiting to see what he’ll do next.

When all was said and done, Gravity took home the most with seven awards (mostly on the technical side but a nod to Cuaron for Director is hardly one to balk at) and Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave took three each.

As for the contest, in first place we have the lovely Astrea Campbell-Cobb who went 21/21 of the major categories and only missed the Live Action Short. Good on ya! You have a Blu Ray of 12 Years a Slave with your name on it. In second place, we have Preston Nicholson who got 20/21 and 2/3 of the shorts. Although there were a number of other contestants who got the same stats, Preston beat the others too it, posting the second day of the contest. He will receive the Best Picture nominee from last year of his choice. Congratulations guys!

Below you’ll find the winners and nominees of each category and at the bottom of the page you’ll find the actor’s acceptance speeches to revist or watch if you missed them the first time around.

Picture

WINNER: 12 Years a Slave

Nominees: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; The Wolf of Wall Street; 12 Years a Slave

Actor

WINNER: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Nominees: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Bruce Dern, Nebraska; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Actress

WINNER: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Nominees: Amy Adams, American Hustle; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Judi Dench, Philomena; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Supporting Actor

WINNER: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Nominees: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips; Bradley Cooper, American Hustle; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Supporting Actress

WINNER: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Nominees: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska

Director

WINNER: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Nominees: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Alexander Payne, Nebraska; David O. Russell, American Hustle; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Animated Feature Film

WINNER: Frozen

Nominees: The Croods; Despicable Me 2; Ernest & Celestine; Frozen; The Wind Rises

Foreign Film

WINNER: The Great Beauty

Nominees: The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium; The Great Beauty, Italy; The Hunt, Denmark; The Missing Picture, Cambodia; Omar, Palestine

Original Screenplay

WINNER: Her, Spike Jonze

Nominees: American Hustle, Eric Singer and David O. Russell; Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen; Dallas Buyers Club, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack; Her, Spike Jonze; Nebraska, Bob Nelson

Adapted Screenplay

WINNER: 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley

Nominees: Before Midnight, Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke; Captain Phillips, Billy Ray; Philomena, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope; 12 Years a Slave, John Ridley; The Wolf of Wall Street, Terence Winter

Original Score

WINNER: Gravity

Nominees: The Book Thief; Gravity; Her; Philomena; Saving Mr. Banks

Original Song

WINNER: Let It Go, from Frozen

Nominees: Alone Yet Not Alone, from Alone Yet Not Alone; Happy, from Despicable Me 2; Let It Go, from Frozen; The Moon Song, from Her; Ordinary Love, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Cinematography

WINNER: Gravity

Nominees: The Grandmaster; Gravity; Inside Llewyn Davis; Nebraska; Prisoners

Costume Design

WINNER: The Great Gatsby

Nominees: American Hustle; The Grandmaster; The Great Gatsby; The Invisible Woman; 12 Years a Slave

Documentary Feature

WINNER: 20 Feet From Stardom

Nominees: The Act of Killing; Cutie and the Boxer; Dirty Wars; The Square; 20 Feet From Stardom

Documentary Short Subject

WINNER: The Lady in Number 6

Nominees: CaveDigger; Facing Fear; Karama Has No Walls; The Lady in Number 6; Music Saved My Life; Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Film Editing

WINNER: Gravity

Nominees: American Hustle; Captain Phillips; Dallas Buyers Club; Gravity; 12 Years a Slave

Make and Hairstyling

WINNER: Dallas Buyers Club

Nominees: Dallas Buyers Club; Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa; The Lone Ranger

Production Design

WINNER: The Great Gatsby

Nominees: American Hustle; Gravity; The Great Gatsby; Her; 12 Years a Slave

Sound Editing

WINNER: Gravity

Nominees: All Is Lost; Captain Phillips; Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Lone Survivor

Sound Mixing

WINNER: Gravity

Nominees: Captain Phillips; Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Inside Llewyn Davis; Lone Survivor

Visual Effects

WINNER: Gravity

Nominees: Gravity; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Iron Man 3; The Lone Ranger; Star Trek Into Darkness

Animated Short Film

WINNER: Mr. Hublot

Nominees: Feral; Get a Horse!; Mr. Hublot; Possessions; Room on the Broom

Live-action Short Film

WINNER: Helium

Nominees: Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me); Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything); Helium; Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?); The Voorman Problem

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVe9bxtH_DI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fluQ6iyy85g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deNAilnDY4I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s58IWv-pY2Q

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Hiccup and Toothless Have Grown in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 Poster

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DreamWorks, despite once being seen as a lower quality animation studio, has an occasional gem. How to Train Your Dragon was one of those. The poster for the film’s sequel looks to pick up quite a bit later as Hiccup is now rocking some stubble. It’s five years later to be exact, according to the synopsis. What little has been revealed about the story looks to satisfy our craving for massive dragon battles, beautiful animation, and the same characters we know and love from the original.

Hiccup and Toothless occupy the poster, looking very brave. It’s nice to see a DreamWorks poster that doesn’t have the stupid, cocky, eyebrow curve that they are so famous for. With an all-star voice acting cast, including the likes of Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Cate Blanchett, and even late-night television’s Craig Ferguson, How to Train Your Dragon 2 should be a watchable kids movie, at the very least.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is directed by Dean DeBlois and stars Gerard Butler, Jay Baruche, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and Cate Blanchett. It hits theaters on June 13, 2014.

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