In the Dark

There were some astonishing absences from the Oscar nominations last week, but one of the biggest has to be overlooking the star and director of “Selma.” David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay deserve to be among the nominees.

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Selma
boyhood

Last weekend, the Golden Globes showered “Boyhood” (available now on VOD) with the lion’s share of awards. Best Supporting Actress went to Patricia Arquette, Best Director (Drama) went to Richard Linklater and Best Drama went to the movie. It was quite a night for the Texas filmmaker’s grand experiment, as he has called it.

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Into the woods
Big eyes

The awards season is officially underway, and anticipation will begin in earnest after the winners are announced at the Golden Globe ceremony this Sunday. This event sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press has never been a huge indicator of whom Oscar will favor, but because it splits the film categories into “Drama” and “Comedy or Musical” there are twice as many winners, and that offers much more exposure for top competitors.

‘Into the Woods’

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This was the year of a lot of worsts, some pretty goods and a spare few bests in the bunch. In fact, the entire summer of 2014 may go down as one of the overall worst years for movies in quite some time. A slew of superheroes dominated screens and numbed audiences. One of the later entries, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” literally saved the day — and the season.

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‘Top Five’

Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson

Directed by: Chris Rock

Rated: R

 

From a comedian who has tried writing and directing a couple of times before (“Head of State,” “I Think I Love My Wife”), this is Chris Rock’s best effort yet. The keen observations of pop culture that fuel his comedy are used here to craft a wickedly funny movie that has a surprising undercurrent of pathos to it.

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‘Horrible Bosses 2’

Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis

Directed by: Sean Anders

Rated: R

 

The three amigos of mayhem are together again, and it’s a second verse same as the first scenario with the same kind of ribald, adult humor that brought attention to the 2011 opener — and not in a good way.

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‘The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Part 1’

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Rated: PG-13

 

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Birdman movie poster

‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton

Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Rated: R

 

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No living actor plays the curmudgeon better than Bill Murray. He’s become the Walter Matthau of his time. All through this, I could see Murray channeling that “Bad News Bears” grumpiness of Matthau as he plays Vincent Van Nuys in this first feature from writer/director Theodore Melfi, who should get down on his knees and thank Murray for saying “yes” to the role.

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This is not in the same league as “Saving Private Ryan,” but like that World War II film, this one also deals in graphic, visceral realism that gives it more weight than the old “B” war pictures that obviously inspired it. Call it “five guys and a tank” for the quasi family of men trapped inside the metal bucket called a Sherman tank in the final days leading to the end of the war.

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