2017 Articles

Leonardo DiCaprio to star in Tarantino’s Charles Manson film
By John Walsh

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Reports breaking from Deadline appear to have confirmed that Leonardo DiCaprio will be appearing in the new Quentin Tarantino film set in and around the time of the Manson family murders.

This will be the first time that DiCaprio has returned to work since he won an Oscar for his performance in the 2015 release ‘The Revanent’. It’ll also be a reunion for the pair who worked together previously in the 2012 western ‘Django Unchained’.

Tarantino has previously refuted claims it’s solely about the notorious killer and the murders however, saying “It’s not Charles Manson, it’s 1969.” And there’s certainly plenty to build a film around with numerous memorable moments, good and bad, taking place during that year.

Indeed, it’s been reported that whilst DiCaprio will star in the film, it’s not believed that he’ll be playing the maniacal Manson. Instead, he’s rumoured to be playing an aging actor who’s life intersects with the murders.

Speculation has been absolutely rife regarding the casting on this film with Margot Robbie also believed to be joining the film to portray the tragic actress Sharon Tate. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Samuel L. Jackson’s name have been floating around, whilst Jared Leto was apparently approached recently to play Manson.

If it is indeed true that Margot Robbie is joining the film too then it looks to be a stellar cast being built and it would be another reunion with DiCaprio memorably starring alongside her in the Martin Scorsese hit ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

The film is still untitled as of yet but is set to release in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the murders on the 9th August 2019.


Daniel Radcliffe Ends Silence On Johnny Depp Casting Controversy 
By John Walsh

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Daniel Radcliffe has opened up on the continuing furore surrounding the controversial casting of Johnny Depp. Radcliffe, who was of course the star of the Harry Potter franchise for over a decade, said he understands the frustrations being aired and even likened the situation to the often unbalanced NFL punishments.

The controversy erupted back in 2016 following the Pirates of the Caribbean stars contentious divorce to then wife Amber Heard. In the aftermath of the split, Heard revealed a concerning spate of alleged abuse that she’d suffered throughout their marriage. The allegations have since been withdrawn with both drawing a line under the matter and wishing to move on with their lives.

Depp had appeared as the villainous Gellert Grindewald in the hugely successful Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first foray into the new prequel series of the wizarding universe. And some fans have been left infuriated by the decision to bring him back for more films, which include the forthcoming Crimes of Grindewald, which is set to be released later in the year.

But with the issue refusing to go away, Radcliffe gave his response whilst speaking to Entertainment Weekly. “It’s a very hard thing for me. The ‘Fantastic Beasts’ producers are the ones who gave me a great start in life and an amazing job.” Continuing, he said “I can see why people are frustrated with the response that they were given from that. I’m not saying anything that anybody hasn’t already said.”

And then in an apparent attempt to highlight perceived hypocrisy from Warner Bros bosses. He drew comparisons with a major US sporting body, saying “This is a weird analogy to draw – in the NFL, there are lots of players arrested for smoking weed and there is other people’s behaviour that goes way beyond that and it’s tolerated because they’re very famous players.”

This is in relation to his former co-star Jamie Waylett’s arrest for possessing and growing cannabis in his North London home back in 2009. Waylett had previously played Vincent Crabbe in six of the original Potter films before being dropped abruptly following the high profile drug case.

The severity of the two differing cases are perhaps debatable, but there is more than a hint of hypocrisy on show from the studio, a fact that’s not lost on Radcliffe. “I suppose the thing I was struck by was, we did have a guy who was reprimanded for weed on the [original ‘Harry Potter’] film, essentially, so obviously what Johnny has been accused of is much greater than that.”

Whilst it’s interesting to hear the perspective of Radcliffe on the divisive subject, none of this is likely to change anything with JK Rowling appearing to decisively back Depp in an open letter on the matter last month.

“When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role. However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.”

“Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting.”

“Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald is due to be released November 2018 and it’ll be very interesting indeed to see whether any of this controversy will affect its performance at the Box Office.


Director’s Guild Nominations Lock in a Frontrunner and Pleasant Surprises
By Chauncey Telese

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Thursday morning brought upon the nominations for the Director’s Guild Awards and while the only surprise (albeit a pleasant one) was Jordan Peele getting in for “Get Out”, nothing is sealed as far as the Oscars go. Yes, Guillermo del Toro is the frontrunner in this category but the guild nominations do not always link up with the Oscars. In fact, 2005 is the last time the guild and the Academy were in perfect lock step. The most notorious case of this were when DGA winner Ben Affleck (“Argo”) didn’t get nominated for the Oscar (he’d win for Best Picture) as well as DGA nominees Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”) not making it. They were replaced by Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), Michael Haneke (“Amour”), and David O. Russell (“Silver Lining Playbook”) respectively. So what do today’s nominations mean? Aside from del Toro, no one is necessarily a lock to get the nomination on January 24th .

Christopher Nolan has been down this road three times before. He was nominated by the DGA for “Memento”, “The Dark Knight”, and “Inception”. Each time he got passed over by the Academy although he did receive Best Picture and Original Screenplay nominations for “Inception” and an Original Screenplay nod for “Memento”. “Dunkirk” was another critical and box office success for Nolan. He has been nominated every step of the way by the Golden Globes and BAFTA so he’s likely safe here.

“Dunkirk” also benefits from having support by various guilds, much like “The Shape of Water” which indicates “Dunkirk” is due for a bevy of nominations. That being said, he isn’t popping any champagne because “Inception” received ten nominations but not for directing. After being snubbed by the Globes, Greta Gerwig made the cut for “Lady Bird”. While there hasn’t been a female director nominated for the Oscar since Kathryn Bigelow won in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker”, Gerwig is likely safe. Given both the universal acclaim “Lady Bird” has received as well as the accurate sentiment that women aren’t properly represented in the directing category, it would be STUNNING if Gerwig didn’t make it on the final ballot. Martin McDonagh on the other hand is someone who could find himself on the outside looking in.

Yes, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” has received a directing nomination at the Globes but there’s a chance that someone like Steven Spielberg (“The Post”) or Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”) could wind up in his slot. Both Spielberg and Baker have critically acclaimed films that don’t seem to have a lot of guild support but that doesn’t mean they should be counted out in the directing category. Jordan Peele became the fourth African American director nominated and even had the pleasure of making it in the First Feature category. “Get Out” is an Oscar conundrum. Yes it’s a critical and box office smash but there isn’t any precedent for this kind of film having a presence at the Oscars. Peele is a lock for a writing nod and almost guaranteed a Best Picture spot but director is less certain. This will be an interesting test case for the new voting body. For now, the only thing anyone knows for sure is that this and the Oscar are Guillermo del Toro’s to lose.


Golden Globes Puts Up Three Billboards
By Chauncey Telese

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The 75th Golden Globes aired on Sunday and amidst the Seth Myers monologue, Oprah’s towering speech, and dominance by “Big Little Lies”, a contender rose from the pack. Now, the Globes are often treated as a joke both because of the weird structure in which they nominate films. The line between drama and the comedy/musical categories often muddies the waters so it’s tough to read anything into the winners and losers.

That being said, the total dominance of Martin McDonagh’s polarizing “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” is something to pay attention to. The fact that it won Best drama, screenplay, lead actress (Frances McDormand), and supporting actor (Sam Rockwell) guarantees it’ll be a big factor at the Oscars. McDormand and Rockwell were always likely nominees but these wins practically seal it. The best actress race is tough with a capital T this year so McDormand isn’t a lock to win. Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”), Meryl Streep (“The Post”), and Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) are all strong contenders, meanwhile Jessica Chastain and Margot Robbie are lurking. Rockwell will have to contend with Wilem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”) who has been winning a lot of critics’ awards. He also could split votes with co-star Woody Harrelson.

The writing and directing categories could be a tough mountain for Martin McDonagh to climb. Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) also wrote and directed films that will contend for best picture. Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) has been racking up key wins in several directing awards and is the likely frontrunner. Best original screenplay is a buzz-saw this year because not only does McDonagh also has to contend with Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s “The Big Sick”. If it isn’t clear now, it will be once the SAG, BAFTA, and guild awards play out that ‘Three Billboards’ will have a lot of nominations but figuring out the Academy is tougher now. In the past two years the Academy has gotten younger, more diverse, and more international. There aren’t any trends to go off of as last year’s best picture win for “Moonlight” could be an anomaly or become the norm. There are several older voters who probably believe it’s the former but it’ll come down to the new voting body. If ‘Three Billboards’ captures the best SAG ensemble then it’s really worth looking at as a best picture frontrunner.
Another factor that hasn’t reared its head is the inevitable round of smear campaigns that emerge once Oscar nominations come out. Every film will take on some form of negative narrative and for ‘Three Billboards’ that might be a problem. There is a corner that strongly dislikes the way the film engages in the subjects of small town racism and police brutality. Sam Rockwell pitched the story to Globe audiences as a story of compassion. The think piece industrial complex will likely debate this and there is also the matter of voters wanting to make a statement. It seems trite and cliché to say that there is an overarching political angle to the way these things play out but that might subconsciously at least, come into play. 2017 was a terrific and eclectic year for film and the Oscar nominations will reflect that. For now, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” will be looked at as a likely frontrunner but at this stage of things it’s still way too damn early to tell.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tops Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the US and UK Box Office
By John Walsh

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has had to make do with playing second fiddle in the US and UK during its opening two weeks of release, but it finally overtook Disney’s blockbuster to grab the top spot.

The Dwayne Johnson led reboot earned $36m at the weekend, increasing its US domestic haul to a whopping $244.3m. It’s proven to be a hit with audiences on both sides of the pond and it’s a similar story in the UK Box Office. Earning £3.9m at the weekend for a £26.3m total gross has proven to be enough to topple The Last Jedi over here too.

With the action comedy now sitting at a very healthy total gross of $519.3m worldwide, it would be more than fair to assume that Sony executives will be rubbing their hands with glee and already thinking ahead to a potential sequel. If indeed the star quartet of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan are even willing to return.

Disney, meanwhile, are unlikely to be hitting up the samaritans hotline any time soon with their latest iteration of the Star Wars saga now having earned $574.5m in the states, £76.7m in the UK and over $1.2b worldwide. That’s good enough to move it up to sixth in the list of all-time biggest grossing films in the US and UK. It’s now the 12th biggest worldwide.

There’s a number of anticipated new releases ready to hit theatres at the end of the week in the UK and it’ll be very interesting to see how they play into things in the coming weeks.

US Box Office Top 10

1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2. Insidious 3: The Last Key

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

4. The Greatest Showman

5. Pitch Perfect 3

6. Ferdinand

7. Molly’s Game

8. Darkest Hour

9. Coco

10. All the Money in the World

UK Box Office Top 10

1. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

3. The Greatest Showman

4. Molly’s Game

5. Pitch Perfect 3

6. All the Money in the World

7. Paddington 2

8. Ferdinand

9. Hostiles

10. Daddy’s Home 2


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