A Moment In History!

Great Historical Films

In this Moment In History article we will give a list of what we feel to be some of the best historical films, not only for their educational value, but also due to their ability to portray the raw emotional power of the moment.

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Dec 21

'Hobbit' leads pack; 'Night at the Museum,' 'Annie' follow

Ian McKellen stars as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," (image courtesy Warner Bros.)
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By Deborah Vankin

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," injected a bit of pre-holiday merriment at the box office this weekend, grossing $16.6 million in the U.S. on Friday, and $51 million to date for Warner Brothers since the film's Wednesday opening.

The good cheer was needed. Hollywood's spirits have been dampened by the unprecedented cyber attack on Sony and theater threats that prompted the studio's controversial cancellation of the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" amid fears that moviegoers would stay away from the year's holiday movies.

The strong "Hobbit" opening, with $2.2 million from its Friday haul coming from IMAX alone, put it far ahead of the week's other releases. "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," which went into the weekend with projections for a $20-million weekend, grossed $5.6 million on Friday. The 20th Century Fox comedy, the third in the "Night at the Museum" franchise starring Ben Stiller, was one of Robin Williams' last films.

In third place is Sony's "Annie," which like the studio's currently shelved "The Interview," was originally supposed to open on Christmas Day. The studio bumped up the opening of "Annie" by a week in order to fuel early word of mouth among kids. On Friday, the Jamie Foxx-starring musical grossed $5.3 million. Already, the film has earned 11-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Annie. The studio is hoping for a weekend gross of $16 to $17 million.

Continue Reading at: Los Angeles Times

Dec 20

Oscar dreams dashed for Quebec director Xavier Dolan

Montreal filmmaker Xavier Dolan's acclaimed feature Mommy has not made the cut for this year's Oscar race, despite receiving a 13-minute standing ovation at Cannes (image courtesy Reuters)
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Xavier Dolan's Mommy, Canada's contender for Oscar glory in the best foreign language film category, has been knocked out of the competition for the 87th Academy Awards.

On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its shortlist of nine films that will advance to the next round of voting and Dolan's drama was not on it.

Eighty-three films had originally been in the running.

The film about a mother struggling with a violent teenage son has won such critical acclaim that Oscar winning actresses Jessica Chastain and Susan Sarandon have reportedly signed on for his next movie.

But Dolan's winning streak seemed to hit a speed bump earlier this month when he failed to earn a nomination for the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards.

After the news of the Oscars snub broke, the typically talkative Dolan seemed to react with the single worded tweet, "Um.."

Continue Reading at: CBC

Dec 19

Mark Wahlberg confirms he'll star in more 'Transformers' movies

Mark Wahlberg will be back for 2 more 'Transformers' (image courtesy Getty)

The actor made his debut as single father and struggling inventor Cade Yeager in this year's Tranformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth film in the franchise based on the toys created by Hasbro and Tomy.

The typically high octane adventure, in which Wahlberg starred alongside Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Jack Reynor, became another big hit for director Michael Bay and is currently the only film released in 2014 to have grossed over $1 billion (£640 million) at cinemas globally.

Asked by MTV if he'll back for another outing as Cade Yeager, Wahlberg said: "Yeah, I committed to doing a couple more… you know I can't speak for Mr. Bay, but something tells me we’ll be on the set soon."

The fifth Transformers film is set for release at some point in 2016 and Bay, who has directed all four films in the series to date, has previously said he won't be returning to sit behind the camera.

Continue Reading at: NME

Dec 18

Hollywood stars attack Kim film withdrawal

Hollywood stars have reacted furiously to the decision to pull a film about the assassination of the North Korean leader - with Ben Stiller branding it "a threat to freedom of expression".

'The Interview' has been shelved after hackers threatened to launch terrorist attacks on cinemas that showed the film.

The comedy, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, was due to be released in America on Christmas Day and come to the UK in February.

But hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace threatened to launch attacks like the September 11 atrocities.

Sony Pictures said it was pulling the movie "in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film".

But some of America's biggest stars accused film bosses of bowing to bully-boy tactics.

Ben Stiller said: "Really hard to believe this is the response to a threat to freedom of expression here in America."

Stressing that he was speaking "as a creative person, not any kind of expert", he added: "Terror threats shouldn't dictate free expression. That's my opinion."

Rob Lowe, who stared in the West Wing, said: "Wow. Everyone caved. The hackers won. An utter and complete victory for them. Wow."

He compared the decision to pull the film to the former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement with Adolf Hitler.

He tweeted: "Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today."

Film-maker Michael Moore joked: "Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I'd also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers."

Continue Reading at: The Herald Scotland

Dec 17

25 titles added to National Film Registry

Jeff Bridges, left, and John Goodman in "The Big Lebowski." (image courtesy Gramercy Pictures)
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By Susan King

Steven Spielberg's 1998 World War II epic, "Saving Private Ryan," Joel and Ethan Coen's cult comedy "The Big Lebowski" and the 1976 drama "Please Don't Bury Me Alive!" - considered by historians to be the first Chicano feature film - are among the 25 titles added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

The selections are to be announced Wednesday by the librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, who recognizes the pictures as "cultural, historical or aesthetic cinematic treasures."

"The National Film Registry showcases the extraordinary diversity of America's film heritage and the disparate strands making it so vibrant," read a statement from Billington. "By preserving these films, we protect a crucial element of American creativity, culture and history."

Under the National Film Preservation Act, the librarian of Congress chooses films that are at least 10 years old. The Library of Congress' Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Virginia will ensure that each film is preserved, whether through the center's preservation program or through collaborations with other archives, movie studios and independent filmmakers.

The 2014 selections bring the number of films in the registry to 650.

Click the Continue Reading at link to see the list of entries into the National Film Registry.

Continue Reading at: Los Angeles Times

Dec 16

'Hobbit' series saves best for last

Ian McKellen as Gandalf in a scene from 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.' (image courtesy MGM / Warner)

by Claudia Puig

The final installment of the Hobbit trilogy is the best, featuring more spectacular action scenes as well as the series' most emotionally resonant moments.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (*** out of four; rated PG-13; opens Wednesday nationwide) could have been a half-hour shorter, perhaps by jettisoning an uneventful and odd scene between wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), as well as a confounding ghostly battle involving elf queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee).

But, the pacing of other portions of the film is right on point.

Though the two previous Hobbit movies have not measured up to the grandeur of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (to which these tales serve as prequels), this last chapter is almost on par with the Rings film.

Just as the final Rings film, The Return of the King, was the best of that threesome, the final Hobbit follows suit. Frustratingly, director Peter Jackson continues to indulge his love for multiple endings. Mostly, however, it's a richly satisfying finale to Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels.

Continue Reading at: USA Today

Dec 15

Exodus: Gods And Kings dethrones latest Hunger Games from top spot as film conquers weekend box office with $24.5m

Biblical epic 'Exodus' on top at the box office; this week at least (image courtesy 20th Century Fox)
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By John Lopez

Katniss Everdeen finally fought a battle she couldn't win.

Exodus: Gods And Kings has dethroned The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 from its three-week run at the top of the North American box office.

The Christian Bale biblical epic reigned supreme, earning $24.5m according to studio estimates.

Directed by Ridley Scott and co-starring Joel Edgerton, the Old Testament flick met expectations but has a while to go before it recovers its reported $140m budget.

According to Variety, the 20th Century Fox production's opening weekend tally underperformed compared to other recent religious blockbusters like Noah ($43.7m) or Son Of God ($25.6m).

The film faces tough competition next week with the debut of three major releases including The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, the musical Annie and Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb.

Continue Reading at: Daily Mail

Dec 14

The year's top supporting actors

By Bruce Kirkland

We know their faces. We recognize their voices. We do not always know their names. They are the supporting actors and actresses of Hollywood movies. It is time to celebrate them.

This popped into my brain because of a cheeky tweet sent out by one of the best - Liverpool’s own Jason Isaacs. He is familiar as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. I took special note of him in my review of Brad Pitt's World War II thriller, Fury. As a result, Isaacs tweeted: "This guy is clearly a genius" while he posted my Fury review.

Of course, it did not actually take genius to see what a singular impact Isaacs makes in Fury as Cpt. Waggoner. He is the American military man who sends Pitt and his tank crew on their fateful missions. In just a few scenes, Isaacs commands the screen, not just the Sherman tanks he is deploying. His gravitas, depth of character and energy makes David Ayer's film even more realistic. In turn, that gives us a greater stake in what happens to Pitt and his crew. There are no weak links. The acting throughout is superb.

In alphabetical order, here are 10 others of Jason Isaacs' ilk. Some of them are famous, some of them are just talented, and all are critical to the success of the 2014 films they are in:

Click the Continue Reading at link to go to the original article and see Bruce Kirkland's list of 2014's great supporting actors.

Continue Reading at: The Toronto Sun

Dec 13

Hacked Sony reportedly shuts production

Sony Pictures Entertainment headquarters in Culver City, California (image courtesy AP)
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Sony Pictures has abandoned film shoots because hackers have crippled its computer network, The Times of London reported Saturday.

The Times, quoting “a source,” said agencies filming for Sony had cancelled shoots because the hacking had left it unable to process payments.

Sony did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

A hacking collective [calling] itself the Guardians of Peace began the attack on Sony late last month, leaking four films and thousands of documents and wreaking havoc on the studio’s network, along with a huge dose of embarrassment.

Emails between top producers and executives belittling a number of major stars and projects, and even making racist jokes about President Barack Obama were leaked earlier this week.

In one email exchange, Sony co-chairperson Amy Pascal -- a prominent Democratic party donor and Obama supporter -- asked movie producer Scott Rudin ahead of a fundraiser what she should ask the President "at this stupid Jeffrey (Katzenberg) breakfast," to which Rudin quipped "would he like to finance some movies."

"I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" Pascal responded, Rudin then retorted: "12 Years."

Continue Reading at: FoxNews

Dec 11

Latest Bond Film Set to Be Most Expensive Yet

Cast members of the next Bond Film 'Spectre' [from left Naomie Harris, Léa Seydoux, Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz] (image courtesy Rex)
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by Alex Ritman

Emails released during a recent hack on Sony Pictures have revealed that the upcoming 24th James Bond film, Spectre, could cost more than $300 million and that MGM Studios has been looking to trim costs. Sony will be distributing the film.

According to documents seen by CNN, MGM president Jonathan Glickman sent an internal memo in November stating that the budget for the film "sits in the mid $300Ms," significantly higher than that of Skyfall, estimated to have cost $210 million before tax breaks.

"We recognize that this movie needs to build on the past few films - and there are expectations we must meet for the audience. Still, we must find further cuts. This is not about 'nickel and diming' the production." Glickman adds.

The article outlines several suggestions mentioned by Glickman to help lower expenditure, including shooting a nighttime scene in London instead of Rome, using fewer carriages for a fight scene on a train, scrapping rain in the finale to cut effects cost and maximizing a financial incentive in Mexico by showing "the more modern aspects" of the country.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Dec 10

Al Pacino Says He's Discussed Guardians of the Galaxy with Marvel

Al Pacino at TIFF earlier this year (image courtesy Getty)

by Megan Gibson

Al Pacino has confirmed that he's met with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.

The 74-year-old Oscar-winning actor was a guest on the Happy Sad Confused podcast on Monday where he teased a possible role in an upcoming film from the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers studio.

"I've met with the Marvel guy," said Pacino, referring to the studio’s president Feige. "It's a marvel how things happen." He continued,"I would imagine that either there's something he feels is right for me -" before he was interrupted by a ringing phone. He then joked that the call was from the studio telling him to quit talking.

He said that he watched Guardians of the Galaxy with his children. "It was just inventive, funny, strong, the production of it, the ingenuity of it," he said. "Why wouldn't I like a movie like that, appreciate a movie like that? I'm not necessarily going to be in it, but there’s value to it.”

Continue Reading at: Time

Dec 10

Sony Leak Reveals Spider-Man / Marvel Crossover Almost Happened!

Andrew Garfield looks bummed that he won't be in Captain America: Civil War (image courtesy Sony / MTV)

More top-secret movie information has been revealed in the wake of the Sony cyber-attack - this time about Spider-Man.

Emails sent between execs at Sony and Marvel reveal that the movie houses had considered teaming up for an animated Spider-Man comedy - and even having the web-slinger show up in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.

The emails were sent by Sony motion picture chief Amy Pascal, and included correspondences with Sony CEO Kaz Hirai and Disney CEO Bob Iger, according to The Wall Street Journal.

One of the messages, sent on 30 October from Sony Pictures president Doug Belgrad to Pascal, discussed a potential scenario that would see Marvel produce a new trilogy of Spider-Man movies while Sony "retains creative control, marketing and distribution".

In a separate email, Pascal tells a business partner that Marvel wanted to include Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. As comic-book fans will know, Spider-Man plays a key role in the 2006 comic book storyline Civil War.

Continue Reading at: MTV UK

Dec 8

George Lucas Hasn't Watched the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer—Find Out Why!

Director George Lucas hasn't rushed to his computer to see the trailer for the new 'Star Wars' (image courtesy Getty)

by Rebecca Macatee

Did you totally geek out of the new Star Wars trailer? Well, FYI, George Lucas did not.

The original jedi mastermind actually hasn't seen the preview of J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII), he recently revealed to Page Six.

"I don't know anything about [the teaser trailer]," Lucas said. "I haven't seen it yet."

Reason being? "Because it's not in the movie theater," he explained. "I like going to the movies and watching the whole thing there."

Lucas, who directed the original Star Wars in 1977, also directed the last three movies: 2005's Revenge of the Sith (Episode III), 2002's Attack of the Clones (Episode II) and 2000's The Phantom Menace (Episode I). He's served as the executive producer of every Star Wars flick since - up until Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which he'll still be contributing to, albeit in a lesser role as a creative consultant.

Asked whether he was curious what Abrams' was doing with the project, Lucas told Page Six, "Not really."

Continue Reading at: E! Online

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