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The 30 Oscar contenders that critics loved the most


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As past awards shows have proven, big numbers at the box office don't always translate to film quality or critical acclaim.

With the 2016 Academy Awards fast approaching — nominations are announced January 14 and trophies are handed out February 28 — we decided to take a look at the films with the best chances of taking home an Oscar, according to critics' reviews.  

To determine the ranking, we found the highest-rated movies eligible for the 2016 Academy Awards on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, two websites that rate movies based on aggregated critic reviews. We calculated the geometric mean of the two scores to determine a final score for each movie. (We didn’t consider movies that didn’t have at least 15 critic reviews on each website).

Some movies getting major awards buzz — like "The Revenant"— don't crack this list because of divided critical reception.

Read on to see which Oscar-eligible films critics loved the most from the past year.

SEE ALSO: The 50 most successful movies of 2015

DON'T MISS: The 10 biggest box office bombs of 2015

30. "Best of Enemies"

Metacritic: 77

Rotten Tomatoes:94%

As the presidential election campaigns of 1968 entered a frenzied summer season, ABC hired William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal to film live on-air coverage of the Republican and Democratic conventions. But Buckley, the conservative founder of National Review, and Vidal, a left-wing author with a loud mouth, held deeply opposing political views — along with deep-seated hatred for each other — and the interviews quickly turned into explosive debates, ushering in a new era of captivating television.

This historical documentary delves into a turning point in American political coverage, one that longs for prolonged conflict and anger, and features prudently chosen clips and interviews that crisply illustrate the on- and off-screen drama.

29. "Bridge of Spies"

Metacritic: 81

Rotten Tomatoes:91%

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks team up once again inthis Cold War thriller, which features Hanks as a lawyer with the unenviable task of defending a captured Russian spy in court. The film embraces the dark side of the war, reminding the audience of the fear it induced back then while also touching on the current anxieties regarding the war on terror.

Mark Rylance is getting awards consideration for his portrayal in a supporting role of the accused Russian spy with a Golden Globe nomination.

28. "The Martian"


Rotten Tomatoes:93%

Based on Andy Weir's best-selling novel of the same name,"The Martian"features a stellar performance from Matt Damon as a botanist stranded on Mars and left for dead after a manned mission encounters turbulence.

The biggest hit of the fall season is getting best-picture Oscar buzz as well as best-actor consideration for Damon and best-director for Ridley Scott. At the Golden Globes, the film took home the award for best motion picture comedy or musical, and Damon was named best actor in the same category.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's the complete list of 2016 Oscar nominees


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Nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards were announced Thursday morning.

Leonardo DiCaprio's revenge tale "The Revenant" led the pack with 12 nominations, with the hit summer blockbuster "Mad Max: Fury Road" coming in with 10 nominations, including best picture.

Though some thought that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" could break into some of the major categories, its five nominations all came in the technical sections. 

The 88th Academy Awards will take place Sunday, February 28, at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC, hosted by Chris Rock.

Here are the nominees:


SEE ALSO: 10 hidden references to classic films in your favorite Pixar movies

Best picture
"The Big Short"
"Bridge of Spies"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"The Martian"
"The Revenant"

Best director
Adam McKay, "The Big Short"
George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, "The Revenant"
Lenny Abrahamson, "Room"
Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"


Best actor
Bryan Cranston, "Trumbo"
Matt Damon, "The Martian"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"
Michael Fassbender, "Steve Jobs"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Danish Girl"

Best actress
Cate Blanchett, "Carol"
Brie Larson, "Room"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Joy"
Charlotte Rampling, "45 Years"
Saoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn"

Best supporting actor
Christian Bale, "The Big Short" 
Tom Hardy, "The Revenant" 
Mark Ruffalo, "Spotlight" 
Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies" 
Sylvester Stallone, "Creed"

Best supporting actress
Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"
Jennifer Jason Leigh, "The Hateful Eight" 
Rachel McAdams, "Spotlight" 
Rooney Mara, "Carol" 
Kate Winslet, "Steve Jobs"


Best original screenplay
"Bridge of Spies," Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen
"Ex Machina," Alex Garland
"Inside Out," Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
"Spotlight," Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
"Straight Outta Compton," Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, and Andrea Berloff

Best adapted screenplay
"The Big Short," Charles Randolph and Adam McKay 
"Brooklyn," Nick Hornby 
"Carol," Phyllis Nagy 
"The Martian," Drew Goddard 
"Room," Emma Donoghue

Best animated feature
"Boy and the World"
"Inside Out"
"Shawn the Sheep Movie"
"When Marley Was There"


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The author of 'Room,' now a Best Picture nominee, was always confident the novel would turn into a hit movie


Room final

It can be hard for authors to get their books turned into movies, and even harder to get control of those movies once they're being made.

For every Mario Puzo who's let in Hollywood's door (author of “The Godfather” who also penned the screenplay for all three films), there’s a Stephen King who isn’t (he's publicly bashed most of the adaptations of his work).

And though the J.K. Rowlings, Stephenie Meyers, and E.L. James' of the world have had a lot of power in shaping their pages to screen in the last few decades, recently the movie world has opened the door even wider for input from authors in the adaptation process.

Author Stephen Chbosky adapted his own novel "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (he also directed the film), Gillian Flynn wrote the book “Gone Girl” and the screenplay (which earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Screenplay), and now there’s Emma Donoghue.

The Irish-Canadian has written eight novels, but the adaptation of her 2010 New York Times Best-Selling book "Room" is the one that has now given her cross-over appeal as it has become one of the most buzzed about films this awards season.

But what sets Donoghue apart from many other author/screenwriters is that Donoghue wrote the screenplay for “Room” before the book was even published.

Emma Donoghue John Philips Getty“I didn’t want to have some company come along and say ‘Let us take it off your hands and have some experienced writer take it,’” Donoghue told Business Insider. “I decided that, privately, I’d do a draft of it myself before anyone could tell me what to do.”

Donoghue had experienced the more traditional path with her previous books — a production company hired on a screenwriter to adapt her stories.

But those movies never got off the ground.

The author had such a good feeling about "Room"’s cinematic prospect, she wanted to be ahead of the game this time.

“And I wanted to be honest,” said Donoghue. “If I found the right filmmaker I wanted to be able to say, ‘Look, I’m not trying to force you to hire me, here’s my script, can we work together?’”

But Donoghue also admitted that if her book were to be made into a movie she wanted to try her best to keep it as true to what she created.

"Room" is an emotional tale filled with as much tension as warmth. It follows a 5-year-old boy and his mother as they are held captive in a small shed. But a big stand-out about the book is it’s told in the voice of the 5-year-old, Jack. The only glimpse we get of his mother, which he calls Ma, is from Jack’s point-of-view.

lightened room brie
Certainly not an easy task to adapt into a movie for the author of the book, let alone a screenwriter.

But Donoghue said she wasn’t afraid to rework the story so it was more cinematic. She took out a lot of the social commentary that’s in the second half of the book, as well as an incident where Ma had a stillbirth before Jack was born.

“You always have to streamline,” she said about writing a screenplay. “I’m not left with any regrets.”

While taking meetings with numerous filmmakers who wanted to make the film, which included established names, she was given a ten-page hand-written letter from a fellow Irishman, independent filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson.

“I had a big emotional reaction to the novel, being a parent with a young boy at that point,” Abrahamson told Business Insider. “I had very strong images of how this novel should be adapted and what not to do and what to do. So the letter to Emma was, ‘I know it, I know how your novel works. I promise I won’t f--k it up.'"

Lenny Abrahamson John Phillips GettyDonoghue instantly felt that Abrahamson got the book and got what she was doing.

“He immediately got my references to Plato in the book,” she explained. “He understood this was both a realistic story about people being kidnapped and a metaphor for the moment when you move from childhood into adulthood. And he didn’t call it The Room.”

Once Abrahamson realized that Donoghue had a script he embraced her involvement. In fact, he pushed her to keep things in the script from the book that she was reluctant to include.

“One thing I changed immediately for my first draft of the script was Jack’s long hair,” said Donoghue, who felt that looking at a boy’s hair that goes down below his shoulders in a movie would have looked bizarre.

“But Lenny said, ‘No, go back to the long hair.’ He was just unafraid of the unconventional aspects of the screenplay.”

Donoghue and Abrahamson worked on the script together for months. Flying back and forth to each other's home, with almost no interference from the film's backers. They fleshed out Ma so the character in the film would be a stronger presence than in the book while still keeping Jack as the foundation for the story.

The finished product is an emotional, tear-jerking ride that is excels with Abrahamson's direction and Oscar-worthy performances by actress Brie Larson as Ma and newcomer Jacob Tremblay as Jack.

Brie Larson Room BrightThe film won the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Winners of the prize often go on to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

For Donoghue, seeing the film was a thrill, especially watching Larson as Ma.

"Ma was a very real character in my mind but for the book I had this frustrating fact that she was just through Jack," she said. "So seeing her on screen was beautiful. She's strong, and motherly."

Donoghue knows that the experience she had with Abrahamson making "Room" is extremely rare. And though she wants to continue writing screenplays, so knows she'll likely never have that kind of bond and understanding with a director again (although they both say they want to work with each other moving forward).

"The whole thing was made protectively," she said. "It's like the little room."


SEE ALSO: The less you know before seeing "Room," the better

Join the conversation about this story »

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The screenwriter for Best Picture nominee, 'The Martian,' says he had one key demand for making the movie that’s critical to its success


The Martian Fox final

Warning: Spoilers ahead

When Drew Goddard began reading Andy Weir’s book, “The Martian,” he couldn’t help but think back on his youth.

Weir’s tale of astronaut Mark Watney being stranded on Mars definitely sucked in Goddard, but it was Watney’s MacGyver-like task to survive on the Red Planet that kept him reading. The science behind it reminded him of his hometown, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

“Los Alamos is a town of rocket scientists,” Goddard told Business Insider at the Toronto International Film Festival. “There’s a combination of intelligence but gallows humor that I always found scientists have that I never saw captured on screen; that was my big attraction to this book.”

That attraction led Goddard, who is know best for being the screenwriter of titles like “World War Z” and “Lost” and the director of “The Cabin in the Woods,” to adapt the book into a screenplay for 20th Century Fox.

But he told the Fox executives one thing before he started.

“I told them, ‘Don’t make this if you’re going to simplify it.’” Goddard told Business Insider.

Directed by Ridley Scott, “The Martian” is filled with 3D effects that put you on the edge of your seat as you watch Matt Damon (Watney) use his wits and limited supplies to stay alive.

martian potatoes (1)But unlike Scott’s previous ventures into space with “Alien” and “Prometheus,” there’s a more realistic feel to “The Martian” and a big reason is the science and math that plays a major factor in the story.

“We’re treating science as a religion,” Goddard said about the story. “It’s less about Mark thinking he’s so smart and more about this is what he’s devoted his life to and he knows he may not have the answer but he knows how to get to the answer.”

Goddard said the process of adapting the book for the screen was a quick by Hollywood standards. Six months after he began reading the book, Fox greenlit the film.

After handing in the script, Goddard, Scott and Weir combined forces to figure out how to visually translate that science on the page to something audiences would understand.

“It was less about what should the movie be and much more about how do we get this done,” Goddard said. “Andy is the smart one of the group, so much of it was Andy explaining to Ridley and I, and we would figure out how to translate that to the audience. Because we didn’t understand it.”

Goddard recalls how they created the sequence in the movie where Watney finally communicates with NASA.

In the book, after rebooting a long-forgotten Pathfinder probe left on Mars, Watney uses the camera on it to send images back to NASA. However, there is no audio. To communicate, Watney came up with the idea of using a numbers and letters system known as hexadecimal (or hex) to communicate.

Watney placed the hex symbols around the Pathfinder in a circle. The Pathfinder camera would then point to specific hex symbols that they would decode to communicate.

Drew Goddard Kevin Winter Getty“I remember me, Ridley, and Andy were in a room figuring out how many degrees the camera has, recreating what happens in the book. So when I saw that scene in the movie I was like, ‘Oh, we were in a board room figuring that out.’”

“That’s an example where if you don’t know what hex is you will see it visually and figure it out,” said Goddard.

“Part of the fun of this movie is watching people that are smarter than we are work it out.”

And then there’s the biting charm that Damon brought to the Watney character once production began.

Watney is our guide as he talks directly into tiny cameras throughout his base on Mars, almost giving us a layman’s play-by-play. And though there’s a lot of math and science the audience has to take in, he doesn’t deliver dry science jargon. Damon gives the characters a funny sarcasm that makes what we’re taking in seem less like we’re sitting in on a professor’s lecture.

“Some of my favorite moments in the movie are the things Matt did,” said Goddard. “It’s little and subtle but it all adds up. He’s one of the rare actors that you can point the camera at and leave on and magic happens.”

But would the combination of geeky science talk and Damon staring at a camera cracking jokes be enough to get audiences through a 130 minute movie?

The test audiences gave the only answer needed.

“I’m confident that I will never have a movie that I’m part of test as well as this movie tested,” said Goddard. “I was fully expecting [the studio] to say ‘We’re going to need to simplify this,’ and the opposite was true.”

Goddard said that when they looked over the audience responses the most popular comment they got back was, “We love the science.”

damon interstellar

Perhaps another factor in the audience’s enjoyment in the film was the smart space movies that preceded it. “The Martian” was being made when both “Gravity” (Goddard noted he handed in the script the day that movie opened) and “Interstellar” were released. And in the latter, Damon plays an astronaut stranded on a planet beyond the Milky Way.

“‘Wait, Matt’s playing an astronaut in that? And he’s all by himself?!’” Goddard recalls reacting. “But we watched it and it was very different. It made us feel good that both movies were intelligent and about science and space and audiences responded.”

“You realize the mistake we all make in Hollywood,” Goddard went on to say. “We talk down to the audience when they prefer to be talked up. The lesson I keep learning is audiences are always so much smarter than you think. It was nice to see that play out in this movie.”

Watch the trailer:

SEE ALSO: Ridley Scott learned about water on Mars two months ago but couldn't put it in "The Martian"

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How that unbelievable bear attack scene in Oscar-nominated 'The Revenant' was really made


revenant leo900

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu may have insisted on making his new movie "The Revenant," which came out on Christmas Day, as authentic as possible — including having actors go through a week-long boot camp to correctly portray mountain men in the 1800s — but there was still some movie magic needed to pull off this gory revenge tale.

That's where legendary production designer Jack Fisk comes in. He's best known for the beautifully designed period settings in movies like "The Thin Red Line,"" The New World," and "There Will Be Blood" over his three-decade career.

Here, Fisk reveals some of the secrets behind the making of "The Revenant," including how that now-legendary bear scene came to be.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

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There was no real bear used in the filming of the grizzly attack scene.

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is the incredible bear attack on Leonardo DiCaprio's character Hugh Glass. The scene is intense, violent, and, according to Fisk, completely done though stunt men and CGI. And, no, of course there is no rape.

So there wasn't even a trained bear for some of it?

"None. We had no real bears on set," Fisk said. "We looked at bears, but they were all so fat. These trained bears in captivity that you see on TV shows, they don't look like a wild grizzly bear from the 1800s."

According to Fisk, the scene was rehearsed with the stunt department for months before they even got on set in Squamish, British Columbia. Then on the day, he dressed the area where the attack took place with 25-foot rubber trees so when DiCaprio smashed into them, he wouldn't get injured. The actor was then strapped to harnesses attached to cables the stunt team used to yank him around. The grizzly was then added digitally in postproduction.

Fake horses were created for the scene in which DiCaprio cuts one open to stay warm.

The bear scene was certainly not the only jaw-dropping sequence in "The Revenant." Later in the movie, as Glass sets out to enact his revenge on the people who left him after the grizzly attack, he must run from a group of angry Native Americans. To escape them, he and his horse jump a cliff and land on a giant pine tree. As it begins to snow, Glass cuts open the horse, takes out its guts, and crawls inside until the storm passes.

"The horse was built and the guts inside were created out of latex and hair," Fisk said. The props department built one horse for DiCaprio to crawl inside and another horse for the chase scene in which they go off the cliff.

"We brought in 15 big pine trees, some of them 50 feet tall. And we snowed in the area," Fisk said. "Like the bear scene, the snow around the horse was always being trampled on, so between takes we were constantly using the snow machine."

The location where DiCaprio finds the bison herd was discovered by accident.

Fisk says the biggest challenge he had on the film was finding the remote locations for shooting. That's largely because, as the movie was shot with only natural light, Fisk had to find locations with a south or southwest vista.

In one striking scene, Glass comes across a herd of bison, leading to a part with a Native American offering Glass the liver of one of the bison he's eating. Fisk said that that location was found by accident.

"We were checking out a river one day, stopped the boats at a point, and, walking up this hill, we found this large vista," Fisk said. "The sun was setting, it was the perfect time of day to see it. Everyone thought, 'My God, this is what we've been looking for.'"

Fisk and his team lined the top of the hill with bushes. Computer graphics were used to create the herd of buffalo. Fisk said only one prop bison was created for the liver scene.

"The AD said, 'Where's the second one?' and I told him a man can eat maybe 10 pounds of meat. Between the two of them they wouldn't even put a dent in it."

Fisk recalls seeing DiCaprio eat the real bison liver: "I thought Leo was vegetarian, but he went for it."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How ‘Star Wars’ director J.J. Abrams became the king of Hollywood


"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" director J.J. Abrams has become the king of Hollywood. At just 49 years old, the acclaimed director, writer, and producer has two iconic space franchises under his belt, a collaboration with his idol Steven Spielberg, and a handful of TV series with cult followings. This is the screenplay of J.J. Abrams incredible career.

Produced by Jenner Deal. Original Reporting by Anjelica Oswald.

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The 7 most memorable roles of 'Harry Potter' star Alan Rickman you may have completely forgotten

How the 'Die Hard' director tricked Alan Rickman into making the best scene of his career


alan rickman

Does "Yippee-ki-yay" sound familiar?

Actor Alan Rickman, who died Thursday, might now be most familiar as the mysterious Snape in the "Harry Potter" movies, but he will always be one of the greatest action-movie villains of all time, if not the greatest, in "Die Hard."

Rickman was so great as Hans Gruber, in fact, that the third "Die Hard" made the villain Gruber's brother, which was a bit silly but still worked.

Hans Gruber is the German mastermind of a group of terrorists that's actually pulling off a heist of a giant corporation in the original "Die Hard" (1988). John McClane (Bruce Willis) is, of course, the off-duty policeman who's there to stop them.

The most quoted, most replayed scene of the movie is Gruber's death, when McClane utters his final words to the villain, who then goes falling off the skyscraper with this petrified reaction:

die hard alan rickman

Rickman was a great, one-of-a-kind actor, but the story behind that reaction shot involves more than just acting.

Director John McTiernan asked Rickman to fall backward onto an airbag from 25 feet in the air, to create a scene that felt real. Fair enough, but instead of dropping him on the count of three, the stunt crew let him fly on the count of one, which resulted in Rickman's not-at-all-faked surprise and fear.

That's right: In his best movie shot ever, Rickman kept it real — even if that's not exactly what he intended.

Check out more things you didn't know about "Die Hard," and the full falling scene, below:


SEE ALSO: Daniel Radcliffe wrote a touching tribute to 'Harry Potter' costar Alan Rickman — 'one of the greatest actors I will ever work with'

Join the conversation about this story »

How 'Mad Max: Fury Road' overcame the odds and landed its historic Best Picture nomination


mad max wide shot final

Oscar nominations are out, and a lot of the talk is focused on the movies and performances that were snubbed

But there's a blessing in there, too: “Mad Max: Fury Road” nabbed 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture and director — a feat that's extremely rare for a summer action movie (the last two times were "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" in 2004 and "District 9" in 2010).

George Miller’s return to the “Mad Max” franchise, with Tom Hardy taking over the title role that Mel Gibson made his own in the 1980s, was a hit for critics as well as general audiences. It took in over $375 million worldwide in its theatrical run, and it topped a lot of year-end lists.

Thanks to its strong-willed female protagonist (played by Charlize Theron) paired with Max, an insane extended vehicle chase over a wasteland, and incredible sound design and visual effects, the movie grew a following that became dedicated to keeping it in the conversation when awards season came along many months later.

A best movie win from the National Board of Review in December began the momentum to an Oscar nomination, with BAFTA, SAG, and Golden Globes nominations following.

There were certainly detractors. One Oscar voter told Business Insider late last year that he would not vote for “Mad Max” because he thought“it was really stupid.” And he said that other voters he spoke to weren’t going to vote for it either.

But those naysayers were obviously in the minority.

On Thursday, when the Oscars nominations were announced, the film didn’t just receive nods for sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects, costume design, and production design — the more expected technical categories — but it also landed the most prestigious two categories, best directing and best picture.

In a year when fellow summer blockbusters “Jurassic World,” “Furious 7,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” made more money, “Fury Road” is that rare summer release that grabbed the attention of both fans and the fickle Academy voters.

Maybe all isn't lost for Max after all.

SEE ALSO: Here's the complete list of 2016 Oscar nominees

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This new 'Star Wars' character is getting his own comic book that will reveal his backstory


star wars the force awakens poe dameron

One of fan's favorite characters from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is about to get his own side story.

Marvel announced Thursday Poe Dameron will get his own Marvel comic book series titled "Star Wars: Poe Dameron."

Charles Soule will write the series debuting in April.

Soule previously wrote the "Star Wars: Lando" series about the "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" character. He told USA Today readers will get a deeper look at the "best pilot in the galaxy," visit both new and familiar locations and see more of his relationship with resistance leader Leia Organa.

“It’s silly not to explore the idea of a guy who grew up steeped in the Rebellion and the older Republic and all of those myths and legends," Soule told USA Today. "If you think about it, he grew up the way we did, hearing all of these stories.”

Dameron's family history is covered in "Star Wars: Shattered Empire," the official Marvel comic that bridges the gap between "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" and "The Force Awakens." His mother, Shara Bey, and father, Kes Dameron, are both Resistance fighters.

The comic series will feature art from Phil Noto, who credits Oscar Isaac's performance in "The Force Awakens" helped him illustrate the character.

poe dameron marvel comic

“Seeing so much of him on screen, it’s easier in a way to act that part out in my head while I’m drawing: How would Oscar Isaac act in this situation as Poe Dameron?"said Noto.

Soule thinks readers will enjoy exploring this new addition to the "Star Wars" saga.  

“Sometimes it can feel like the Star Wars universe is so well trodden and so many stories have already been told,” Soule said. “But the way the Episode VII galaxy is set up, there are opportunities for new archetypes almost, and the bad guy we’re working with is going to feel fresh and cool.”

Join the conversation about this story »

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Why 'Creed' director Ryan Coogler is the 'perfect' choice for 'Black Panther'


ryan coogler

Earlier this week, Marvel announced that 29-year-old Ryan Coogler will direct "Black Panther."

The "Creed" director beat out other frontrunners including Ava DuVernay, who reportedly passed on the role.

Black Panther will be a big addition to the Marvel universe. We'll get our first glimpse of T'Challa, King of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, in this spring's "Captain America: Civil War." Coogler will then direct Black Panther's solo film for 2018.

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige praised Coogler in the announcement as "the perfect director to bring T’Challa’s story to life.” According to Feige, the film will be a “big geo-political action adventure" focusing on family T’Challa's struggle in Wakanda.

Feige also said the character will serve as a big link to help connect some of the next "Avengers" movies.

Here's why Feige and fans are so excited for Coogler to take the reins of the beloved hero: 

Coogler knows how to keep a complex political story simple.

Coogler's debut, "Fruitvale Station" was the true story of Oscar Grant's shooting in 2009. On New Year's Eve, the 22-year-old was shot and killed during an altercation with a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer in Coogler's hometown of Oakland, California. Riots erupted when video of the incident surfaced online from a bystander's cell phone. 

While there were many complex themes present in the film, racism, law enforcement, class, etc. Coogler told Buzzfeed that his main focus was on telling a relatable story about the film's protaganist. 

“People know what it’s like to be young, people know what it’s like to struggle with something internally and to have that thing you’re struggling with damage the people around you," he said. "People know what it’s like to have a mom, a spouse, a kid. We focused on those relationships."

Coogler can do the complex "geopolitical" plot justice, but still keep the film centered on the legendary comic character. Keeping a clear focus will allow new audiences to connect with T'Challa as well please Black Panther's legion of fans with high expectations for his cinematic debut. 

Coogler has also proven he can successfully direct both veteran actors and newcomers.

"Fruitvale Station" was the feature film debut of Michael B. Jordan and is often credited with launching his Hollywood career. Jordan earned dozens of acting nominations from film festivals for "Fruitvale Station" and is again garnering acclaim for his starring role in Coogler's second film, "Creed." 

Coogler's direction has also proven rewarding for seasoned actors."Creed," won 69-year-old actor Sylvester Stallone his first Golden Globe. He was awarded best supporting actor in a motion picture for reprising his "Rocky" role.

The cast for "Black Panther" hasn't been announced yet, but Marvel films tend to mix newcomers with veterans, like Glenn Close in "Guardians of the Galaxy," Anthony Hopkins in "Thor" and Samuel L. Jackson in both "Avengers" films. Coogler has shown he can get great performances from his actors, seasoned or newcomers. 

He's careful in his treatment of female characters.

Action franchises have come under increasing scrutiny recently for the treatment of female characters on screen and off. There's a notable lack of superheroine action figures — something Disney recently addressed with "Star Wars — and a notable lack of films led by a female superhero. (We're still waiting on that Black Widow movie.) Most recently, Marvel director and female onscreen champion Joss Whedon left Twitter following fan backlash for Black Widow's romantic story arc in "Avengers 2: Age of Ultron." 

Coogler is noticeably careful in his treatment of women.

"Fruitvale Station" prominently featured Grant's mother, girlfriend and daughter, with Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer playing his mother. Similarly, "Creed" also focuses on Creed's girlfriend, played by Tessa Thompson and adopted mother, played by Tony award winning Phylicia Rashad.

The "Black Panther" comic franchise features multiple women, including his warrior sister Shuri, love interest Monica Lynne, and warrior tribeswomen Okoye and Queen Divine Justice. At least one of them will probably make their big screen debut and fans will likely be very sensitive to their portrayals. 


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The Mexican director of 'The Revenant' says he 'pities' Donald Trump — 'a poor man whose only possession is money'


leo dicaprio the revenant

While on WNYC’s "Studio 360" show, “The Revenant” director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who's of Mexican descent, gave his thoughts about Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and the comments he’s made about Mexicans coming into the United States.

The director said he "pities" Trump more than anything.

“To be so rich and so bitter... It’s a poor man whose only possession is money, and that’s the lesson we all have to learn,” Iñárritu said.

While announcing his presidential campaign in June, Trump notoriously said that Mexicans coming into the States were “bringing in crime” and were “rapists.”

Many Latinos in Hollywood have spoken out against Trump’s remarks, including America Ferrera and Eva Longoria. Iñárritu touched on Mexican immigration in his 2006 film “Babel,” and makes a point to thank the Mexican people for their support when he’s accepting awards for his filmmaking.

donald trumpIñárritu believes blaming undocumented immigrants for crime is planting “seeds of hate.”

”When you generalize like that, you are taking out the humanity, the integrity of human lives,” he told "Studio 360."“That has been historically the way horrible things have happened to humanity."

Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” was nominated for 12 Oscars on Thursday, including best picture and director.

You can listen to the complete interview here:

SEE ALSO: People are furious the Oscars didn't nominate any minority actors for the second year in a row

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NOW WATCH: This aid worker smuggled a 4-year-old refugee into Britain — now he's facing a $1,090 fine

How the 'Harry Potter' cast members are reacting to Alan Rickman's death


severus snape alan rickman

News of Alan Rickman's death Thursday came as a shock to both fans and those in the film world.

While he was known for roles in "Die Hard" and "Galaxy Quest," younger generations came to know him as Severus Snape, the Potions professor with a seemingly cold exterior, in the "Harry Potter" series.

Rickman spent a decade playing the antihero, who, by the end of the franchise, became one of the most beloved characters.

"Harry Potter" cast and crew have taken to social media to react to Rickman's sudden passing after a battle with cancer. 

Keep reading to see how the "Harry Potter" family is remembering Rickman.

Author J.K. Rowling was among the first of the cast and crew to share her thoughts.



Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe wrote a long, poignant note on Google+ telling fans Rickman would come and watch him in his plays after the "Potter" franchise was over.

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Hermione actress Emma Watson wrote a short message on Facebook.


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Alan Rickman's two final film roles will be dramatically different


Actor Alan Rickman has died at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer.

Best known for his roles in 1989's "Die Hard,""Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," and, to a younger generation, the "Harry Potter" franchise, Rickman's impressive career spanned nearly three decades.

But his contribution to film isn't over — the late actor still has two very different films releasing later this year for fans to enjoy.

"Eye in the Sky" 

alan rickman eye in the sky

The British thriller will star Rickman alongside Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad"). The film follows a drone mission gone awry with Rickman playing a Lieutenant torn between preventing a suicide attack and endangering innocent lives.

"Eye in the Sky" will have a limited release starting March 11, 2016.

You can watch the trailer below:

"Alice Through the Looking Glass"

alan rickman alice in wonderland

Several years in the making, Rickman will reprise his role voicing the blue caterpillar who Alice stumbled upon on her first adventure to Underland in 2010's hit "Alice in Wonderland."

Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska will also reprise their roles. The sequel will be released May 27.

You can hear Rickman's voice in the first look Disney released of the film:

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Best Picture nominee 'Room' is harrowing — and a movie everyone needs to see


Brie Larson Room Bright

I never thought I would call something both a "hostage drama" and a "fairytale" in the same review, but "Room" is the one that brought up "Alice in Wonderland" in the first place.

"Room" takes one of those dark, horrendous topics that might dominate the news cycle for a brief period of time and and injects it with a healthy dose of humanity.

In "Room," Brie Larson plays a young woman held hostage for years in a stranger's tool shed by a creep named Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). She and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) try to survive in this tiny prison which they call "Room." Despite their imprisonment, the earliest scenes we see are not of misery, but rather of joy. Mother and son are seen making a birthday cake and laughing in the bath tub. "Room" knows when to make us feel sadness, but it also knows when to find joy in the lowest moments. 

Room Movie Brie Larson

It is not a spoiler to say that halfway through the film, the two of them get rescued. Jack gets to see the real world for the first time, while his mother readjusts to a world that she was taken from. It is a brilliant move on the part of "Room" to make their rescue happen halfway through the film, when they could have framed an entire film around an escape attempt. It would have been a different film, albeit one that is smaller and more claustrophobic.

I am happy we ended up with this version of "Room" though. It is one that is deeper and transcends its very premise. "Room" might be the most cinematic film I have seen so far this year. That might sound strange, but it really does embrace visual language in a way that few other movies do. The moment that Jack sees sunlight for the first time is absolutely sublime. It is fascinating to see how the outside world is sometimes shot the exact same way as Room. It says that the sense of imprisonment felt in Room doesn't end once you leave it.

"Room" comes from director Lenny Abrahamson. This might be the polar opposite of his last film, the excellent "Frank." However, what they both have in common is people hiding from a darkness that we will never quite understand, and through that he gets some amazing performances from the actors.

Room Movie Brie Larson

Larson is great, of course. She's both open and raw as somebody who has to cope with the fact that she has lost five years of her life. Even though she must be strong and mature for her son, she is still just a child, and we realize that from the second she walks into her childhood bedroom. This could be the breakout that Larson was supposed to get for "Short Term 12." And while she is great, the real breakout here is her young co-star.

As Jack, the young Jacob Tremblay spectacularly carries such an emotional film. Once he gets out of Room, you realize he is seeing everything in the world for the first time, whether it be a staircase or a dog. And from that, you will also begin to look at the world a little differently, in which every new thing you see is a little bit scary because it is so new. Plus, his voiceover, filled with childlike wonder, is one of the few times in which narration actually improves a film.

Room Movie

"Room" has so much to say and I could sit here and talk about it all day, but there should be some surprises left when you see it. It has a lot to say about both survival and imprisonment. It feels like the flipside of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," or more like if "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" was a Neutral Milk Hotel song. But "Room" is so much more than just a great drama. It made me feel different things at different times. It reminded me that it is okay to cry during a movie. 

At one point, I found myself shouting "oh no!" out loud. I never shout at the screen during a movie. It just felt impulsive, and that the characters' pain was so tangible that anything could have happened at any moment. Sometimes, a film is so good that it makes you feel things that are impossible to explain.

"Room" will be out on October 16.

Watch the trailer below:

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The crazy story of how Oscar-nominated 'The Big Short' got Led Zeppelin to approve song rights


The Big Short Jaap Buitendijk Paramount

Director Adam McKay— who is best known for helming many memorable Will Ferrell comedies like the “Anchorman” movies, “Talladega Nights,” and “Step Brothers” — is proving he also has skills to make an engaging drama.

Based on the best-selling nonfiction book by Michael Lewis that looks inside the housing-bubble collapse, the unconventional, documentary-like movie grabbed the attention of A-list talent including Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt, who play the few people in the finance world who saw the crash coming.

But one of the film’s biggest coups was featuring Led Zeppelin’s classic track “When the Levee Breaks” in the debut trailer and in the movie’s end credits.

zeppelin finalZeppelin has been known for decades as one of the hardest bands to get to approve its music for use in movies (“Almost Famous,” “School of Rock,” and “The Fighter” are some notable projects that pulled it off). McKay confirmed to Business Insider that it was a challenge signing the group on to "The Big Short."

In fact, the filmmakers almost had to postpone the premiere of the trailer because, up to the 11th hour, they didn’t know if they could legally include the song.

“We cut the trailer and put in the Zeppelin song, and it’s not only one of the greatest songs of all time, but it drives you through the trailer,” McKay said. “But then we were told we might not be able to get the rights.”

McKay explained that the producers and music supervisor on the film had covered the globe trying to get approvals. Reaching out to everyone from the publishing company that owns Zeppelin’s music, to surviving band members Robert Plant and John Paul Jones. Even getting the blessing of the family of the band’s deceased drummer, John Bonham. Everyone said yes, but no one could find lead guitarist Jimmy Page.

“I’m like, ‘What do you mean you can’t find Jimmy Page?’ And I was told he has a new girlfriend and I guess they were off having a good time,” McKay said.

Fast-forward to the night before the trailer premiere, and they still couldn’t find Page. McKay said by that point he and his team were trying to figure out another song to replace “When the Levee Breaks.” They even considered postponing the launch of the trailer, but were scared rumors would start around Hollywood that the film was in trouble. While in England, a team of people was on the search for Page.

“We finally heard that he was in some pub out in the English countryside,” McKay said. “So an assistant drove two hours to get to the pub, breaking every speed limit, goes into the pub and puts a computer in front of Jimmy Page so he can look at the trailer and say either yes we can use the song or no. Then at like 1:55 a.m. or something I got the email that he said yes.”

Adam McKay Michael Bowles GettyBut the story doesn’t end there. McKay also wanted to use the song in the film’s end credits, and when Page was told that, he had one condition.

“He said we can’t edit the song,” McKay said. “He told us he didn’t like how they cut up his songs in movies.”

So McKay was now stuck trying to figure out how to make the uncut song — which has a 1:24 instrumental before Plant begins to sing — work in the credits.

What McKay and his editor, Hank Corwin, came up with was to begin the song very faintly among sounds of New York City traffic during the text cards at the end of the movie, which inform the audience what has happened to the characters. Then when the credits follow, Plant begins to sing.

“That was the crazy thing,” McKay said. “That was a pure accident. It just happened to lay out perfectly when the credits begin.”

Watch “The Big Short” trailer:

SEE ALSO: The composer behind some of the most memorable movie scores gives his 4 favorite

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The trailer for J.J. Abrams' 'Cloverfield' sequel looks creepy and intriguing


Cloverfield1 final

Every since the release of 2008's found-footage monster horror movie "Cloverfield," directed by Matt Reeves ("Dawn of the Planet of the Apes") and produced by J.J. Abrams, there's always been talk of a sequel, and now it's finally happened. 

Paramount has released the trailer for "10 Cloverfield Lane," which looks more like a movie set within the same world of "Cloverfield" than a sequel.

The clip doesn't give away much, other than that it stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"), and John Gallagher Jr. ("The Newsroom"), who are living underground for some reason. And when Winstead's character tries to get to the surface, Goodman's character chases after her, telling her if she goes outside, "you're going to get all of us killed."

We're certainly intrigued. 

Collider got this quote from Abrams about the movie:

“The idea came up a long time ago during production. We wanted to make it a blood relative of 'Cloverfield.' The idea was developed over time. We wanted to hold back the title for as long as possible.”

It will be interesting to see how closely it touches on the original movie (both Reeves and "Cloverfield" screenwriter Drew Goddard are not listed on the film's IMDb page). 

Here's the trailer (and below that, the poster). "10 Cloverfield Lane" opens March 11.


 10 cloverfield lane


SEE ALSO: Here's everything we know about the next "Star Wars" movie, "Rogue One"

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An aerospace engineer explains how a 'Star Wars' X-wing could fly in real life


the force awakens x wing disney finalThe X-wing fighter has been used by rebels (and now Resistance fighters) in the "Star Wars" franchise since the very beginning. 

Luke Skywalker used it to destroy the first Death Star, and Poe Dameron (the Resistance's "best pilot") leads his fleet of X-wing pilots to destroy the Starkiller Base in "The Force Awakens."

These fighters are sleek, but are they realistic? One Quora user took to the Q&A site to ask "What's wrong with an X-wing aircraft in real life?" The user added: "Would one be able to fly? Would it be aerodynamic? Would it be easy to control?"

Jamie Gull, an aerospace engineer at SpaceX and Scaled Composites, answered all of the questions, assuming that the plane could fly in earth's atmosphere. His answer explained that while the design could theoretically fly, it's currently not aerodynamic. Here's his full answer, published here with permission:

"First let's assume you mean could it fly here on Earth in our atmosphere. Anything can fly in space in zero gravity with the right propulsion on it, even a brick.

  • "This basic design could fly. It's similar to a blended wing body style plane, just with a big nose. With modern computer control it could be easily controlled. If we didn't have those controls it would likely be extremely difficult to fly as it is not a naturally stable configuration without a tail or forward lifting surfaces. A naturally stable plane has is it's aerodynamic center of pressure behind it's center of gravity, so any deviation from straight flight tends to straighten out the trajectory. There are some military fighters and blended wing bodies that have their CG aft of the center of pressure and are therefore unstable, and they require fast computers to keep them flying straight, but fly well and are very maneuverable. No vertical stabilizers (fins) are required; computers can yaw the craft with differential drag and ailerons, and this has been proven in a number of stealth craft.
  • "It's not a very aerodynamic design. All those intersections at the fuselage will create a ton of drag due to interfering aerodynamics. The engines and wingtip pylons are not helping in that regard either, as they are not well blended in. The wings are essentially a biplane configuration, which definitely works. The designer would need to take extra care near the fuselage due to the surfaces being so close together; their wakes would interfere with each other. Careful tuning could help turn this into somewhat of an advantage in slow flight. The square wing cross-section and all that hardware sticking out of the wing surfaces would need to get fixed to reduce drag but would work as-is. A flat airfoil can create lift at a non-zero angle of attack, it does not need to be a shaped foil. Flat surface lift is an into aerodynamics problem, even a pizza box can fly as a wing given the right propulsion and controls."

SEE ALSO: Here's everything we know about the next 'Star Wars' movie, 'Rogue One'

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Here's how John Krasinski from 'The Office' got ripped in 4 months for his first action movie


John Krasinski Christian Black Paramount final

John Krasinski is known best for his comedic work, like lovable Jim Halpert on "The Office."

But starting Friday, we'll see him in a new way as he stars in his first action movie, Michael Bay's "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi."

Krasinski told Men's Health he had just four months to train in preparation for the role of a Navy SEAL who defended the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi. After all, he had to look the part.

Thank you to @menshealthmag for putting this dude on the cover

A photo posted by John Krasinski (@johnkrasinski) on Dec 16, 2015 at 2:31pm PST on

"I gotta be honest: It was brutal at times," Krasinski said. "We did tons of metabolic work, dragging sleds and all this stuff I've seen NFL players do."

"My body fat was, I believe, 25%,"Krasinski told Jimmy Kimmel on Kimmel's late-night show. "And then by the time I did the movie my body fat was 9%."

Krasinski doesn't go out of his way to show off his new body in the movie, aside from one shirtless shot toward the end. But it was important to authentically play one of the six members of a security team that helped protect Americans in the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya that resulted in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Here are some highlights from Krasinski's experience getting fit for the movie, via Men's Health, including his favorite workout to do:

... And for finding my shirt JUST after this picture was taken. Thank you @menshealthmag

A photo posted by John Krasinski (@johnkrasinski) on Dec 16, 2015 at 2:32pm PST on

Favorite workout song: "What More Can I Say," Jay Z.

Favorite exercise: "Bench press. There's that number you can keep pushing. It's almost a game instead of a workout."

Least favorite workout: "Bulgarian split squat."

SEE ALSO: Here's the workout Michael B. Jordan used to get in insane shape for the boxing movie, "Creed"

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Meet the 8 on-the-rise actors who have been short-listed to be the next Han Solo


han solo shrug final

Getting cast in a "Star Wars" movie will change your life. And for this handful of actors, it could easily happen soon.

While it might not pay a lot, the role brings international fame. There will also no doubt be an action figure for the new star.

Earlier this year, Disney announced that it's planning a standalone "Star Wars" prequel focused on Han Solo. It will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("The Lego Movie") and open in theaters in 2018.

As soon as it was announced, people speculated who, if anybody, could possibly replace Harrison Ford as the smuggler.

According to Variety, the original list of 2,500 actors who reportedly auditioned to play young Solo has now been narrowed down to just a dozen actors. Eight of the names from that short list are now known.

This franchise made stars out of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. "The Force Awakens" has done the same for John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.

Here are eight actors who could end up playing the young Han Solo — and what you need to know about them:

Dave Franco is the younger brother of actor James Franco.

Franco had bit roles in comedies for years before really getting noticed in the 2014 hit "Neighbors."

Twenty-eight-year-old Miles Teller's young career has been a mix of blockbusters and small indies.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider