Oscar nominations — my own two bits, and a complete list

grandbudapesthotelIt is extremely rare for a film to win Best Picture without also being nominated for its director, its film editing, and its screenplay. So it looks like this year’s top Oscar will go to one of three films: Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Imitation Game. But there are exceptions to every rule, and we can’t entirely rule out Birdman, which is tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel for the most nominations of any film this year; Birdman was snubbed in the film-editing category, but that could be because the film was seamlessly edited to look as though it was all filmed in one long take.

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Star Trek XIII has a new director and a release date — just 18 months from now — but does it have a script?

startrek-kirkspockbridgeA lot of developments on the Star Trek front these last few days. In a nutshell, the people who made the last two movies aren’t involved in the new film in any serious way, but the studio is determined to get the film out in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary — which is now only a year and a half away — and so they’ve hired a director who has experience making big-budget multi-ethnic action-oriented box-office hits and reviving troubled properties. Details below.

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Box-office update: Angelina Jolie, X-Men set new records, while God’s Not Dead passes Son of God in N America

The big news this week is that Maleficent, Disney’s revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty story, ruled the North American box office with $69.4 million.

That’s smaller than the openings for other recent Disney live-action fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland ($116.1 million) and Oz the Great and Powerful ($79.1 million), but bigger than the opening for Snow White and the Huntsman ($56.2 million), which was produced by Universal.

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Flashback: Jackman and Mangold before The Wolverine

Tonight marks the release of The Wolverine, the sixth installment in the X-Men franchise and the sixth film to feature Hugh Jackman as the self-healing Canadian mutant with the retractable adamantium claws.

The Wolverine is also the second film, following X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), to feature the title character as a stand-alone protagonist, and one fun bit of trivia is that both of the stand-alone movies have represented a reunion of sorts between Jackman and one of his key collaborators on the time-travelling romantic comedy Kate & Leopold (2001). The first film co-starred Liev Schreiber as Wolverine’s half-brother; he had previously played Jackman’s great-great-grandson in Kate & Leopold. And now, the second film is directed by James Mangold, who directed Kate & Leopold. (If there’s a third Wolverine film, perhaps it will co-star Meg Ryan?)

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Fantasies and fairy tales speak to our spiritual needs

MAGIC is everywhere you look these days. From bookstores to movie theatres, stories about wizards, witches and mythological beasts are all the rage; and for a person like me, who grew up with hobbits, aliens, flying horses and Jedi Knights, the current fantasy craze — and the various Christian responses to it — bring back a lot of memories.

How popular is fantasy right now? The most successful movie of the year (so far) is Shrek, a cheeky parody of the fairy tale genre that turns conventional wisdom about ogres, dragons and beautiful princesses on its head. That film’s box office performance could be surpassed in a few weeks by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first film based on J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular novels about a young orphan and his classmates at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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