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How a movie about black NASA heroes became the crowd-pleasing Oscar contender of the year

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Hidden Figures Universal 2

The box-office success of best picture nominee "Hidden Figures" is as much an underdog story as the one it tells.

When director Theodore Melfi's look at the black female mathematicians who were vital in getting Americans in space in the 1960s hit wide release in January, industry insiders regarded it as the latest release to get crowded out by "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," which still at No. 1, showed no signs of slowing down.

Then "Hidden Figures" earned a surprising $22.8 million its first weekend, dethroning "Rogue One" and proving that there's an audience for a drama that mixes issues of racism and sexism with the dramatic mathematical complexities that went into the US winning its heated space race with the Russians.

"The studio tracking thought we were going to get around a $15 million opening weekend and then it came in at $22 million," Melfi recently told Business Insider. "Then the next weekend it only dropped 8 percent — the normal is 40 or 50 percent. So those are the things you can't predict, that is strictly word of mouth."

Along with the movie getting nominations for best picture, best supporting actress (Octavia Spencer), and best adapted screenplay (Melfi shares it with Allison Schroeder), the response from audiences — with $133.8 million currently, it's the highest-grossing best picture contender at the domestic box office — proves that "Hidden Figures" is something special.

Melfi admits he still doesn't fully understand the universal love for his movie, but he does know why it took so long for the story of NASA's seemingly forgotten African-American female mathematicians to be told.

"There's the racism of it, the sexism of it — that may be bigger than the racism," he said. "But the greatest reason is we don't have parades for mathematicians, we have them for astronauts. That's a huge thing."

It dawned on Melfi when he signed on to the project in July of 2015 that all the elements were there to tell a powerful story, but it had been buried for 55 years because the math had to be brought to an audience in a way that would make them care.

Based on the book of the same name, "Hidden Figures" looks at Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who all work essentially as "computers" (what they're actually called) for NASA. Working in a segregated section at Langley Research Center in Virginia, they constantly run numbers in their cramped office with a dozen other African-American women. But there are whispers of a giant computer called IBM that's rumored to soon make their jobs obsolete.

Hidden Figures 20th Century FoxBut when the secret Mercury program to get America to space before Russia sets into high gear, Johnson, Vaughn, and Jackson prove they are more than their job titles. Particularly Johnson, whose math made astronaut John Glenn's historic orbit of the earth possible.

And there was the biggest challenge for Melfi: How do you condense the complex challenge NASA had to figure out how to get an astronaut to an orbital flight into a scene movie audiences could understand?

The scene in the finished version is just a brief explanation by Jim Parsons' character, head engineer Paul Stafford. But to pull that off, Melfi spent a month writing.

"The movie was going to be about math so I had to learn the math. There was no way for me to direct this film not knowing the math or the problem," Melfi said. "And not just a rudimentary knowledge of it, but really learn it and really articulate it."

Melfi had several meetings with mathematicians and NASA historians and went through countless drafts of the scene to nail down in layman's terms the problem the Mercury team faced.

hidden figures ted Universal"When I finally finished that scene and sent it in, NASA came back and said, 'That's the best depiction on paper that we've ever seen of the problem we had.' But that took a lot of time," Melfi said.

And that hard work has paid off not just in Hollywood — along with the Oscar nominations, the film won the outstanding cast performance at the Screen Actors Guild Awards — but also in getting the attention of politicians and reminding them of the importance of NASA at a time when it's up in the air how the program will function during President Donald Trump's administration.

Along with the movie being screened at the White House before the Obamas left office, Republicans like senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have had screenings of the film, and last week the movie screened on Capitol Hill. Melfi said the DC screening was attended by many from both sides of the political aisle.

"I don't know if anyone has pushed to get the Trump administration to see the film," Melfi said, "but NASA is the leader in global warming research and that work is critical to coming up with remedies and solutions. The movie is kind of a wake-up call for people who don't know anything about NASA."

SEE ALSO: Jordan Peele plans to direct a whole series of horror movies about "social demons"

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The 12 worst movies to ever win Oscars

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Blind side warner bros

The Oscars rule over the movie industry. But over the years, some stinkers get nominated and some stinkers actually manage to get a win.

Among the poorly received movies that are up for awards this year are "Suicide Squad" and "Passengers."

Movie trends come and go, and while the Academy likes to award lesser-known indie darlings, it's also known to award cheesy hits that were specifically made to win Oscars (known as "Oscar bait"). And then there are the bad movies that manage to get wins for less competitive categories, like makeup and costumes.

In 2008, for example, "Norbit," one of the worst movies of all time, was nominated for best makeup. Though it didn't win, the same can't be said for some other movies that are just as terrible.

These underwhelming movies put the Oscars to shame by having won even though, for the most part, they didn't deserve it.

Here are the worst movies that actually won Oscars:

SEE ALSO: 26 stars who shockingly still don't have Oscars

1. "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987)

Won: Best makeup

A family runs over a Bigfoot-like creature with their car. The family brings it home, thinking it's dead. But it comes back to life, and the family adopts him as a pet. This movie is abysmal and hard to watch, but it somehow managed to get an Oscar for best makeup, even though the makeup — even for 1987 — is bad. Maybe the fact that John Lithgow was in it made the Academy feel as if it had to give it something

 



2. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)

Won: Best makeup.

Best makeup can go to some really, really, really, really bad movies. The Academy really has to reach sometimes to give an award out in this category. The live-action "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a terrible movie. It's insulting to Dr. Seuss and to Christmas movies. Even kids hate it. And kids who love it will never acknowledge it when they're adults. The makeup on Jim Carrey's Grinch is OK, but did it deserve an award? No, it did not.



3. "Pearl Harbor" (2001)

Won: Best sound editing

Nominations: Best original song, best sound, best effects

Besides a catchy original song recorded by Faith Hill (which was nominated for best original song), this Michael Bay movie is a disaster and disrespectful to US history. Bay's war film uses Pearl Harbor as a catalyst for a self-indulgent love triangle involving self-indulgent, unlikable characters. It's offensive in many ways, and at over three hours long, it makes "Avatar" feel like a half-hour sitcom. 



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RANKED: The 12 greatest movies to win the Oscar for best picture

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The Oscars are notorious for not getting it right.

That's the reputation you earn when you don't reward "Citizen Kane" best picture or when "Crash" topples "Brokeback Mountain." But there are also plenty of times that the Academy got it right.

In truth, there's no way of knowing whether a film will have staying power through the years. But sometimes, voters make truly great and interesting choices.

Here are the 12 greatest best picture winners of all time.

SEE ALSO: The 12 worst movies to ever win Oscars

12. "Amadeus" (1984)

The stereotype of an Oscar movie is an overlong, stale, historical biopic. "Amadeus" could have been just that, but instead it turns the whole formula on its head. It brings 1700's Austria to life by making it feel just as alive as the present day.

By portraying a rivalry that might not have ever existed and turning one of history's greatest composers into a spoiled, giggling buffoon who might have been a genius by accident, the film says so much more about the past than any buttoned-up, historically accurate film could.

No movie can get the past completely right — that's both the power and the danger of the medium. The great thing about "Amadeus" is that it acknowledges that almost immediately by letting Salieri tell somebody else's story. And the fact that it works so well is a true stroke of genius.



11. "Schindler's List" (1993)

After years of snubs, Steven Spielberg rightfully won his first Oscar for "Schindler's List," based on the true story of a German businessman who saved hundreds of Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

It is truly incredible to see the way Spielberg handles the difficult subject matter. He spares none of the awful details, and yet finds a ray of light during a horrible time period. This is quite simply essential viewing.



10. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)

"The Silence of the Lambs" is notable for two big reasons.

First off, it's the only horror film to win best picture. The character of Hannibal Lecter himself is bigger than just one film, but "The Silence of the Lambs" delivers the goods. This is the perfect horror movie for the Academy, as it is one that relies less on gore (though it is there) and more so on mounting dread. If a horror movie was going to win the big prize, it was going to be the one with the most likable cannibal of all time.

Secondly, it was released on February 14, 1991, basically a full year before the actual Oscar ceremony. So it proved that awards aren't just for that stretch of movies released during the final two weeks of every year.



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Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro's long-awaited new gangster movie is headed to Netflix

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Martin Scorsese Robert De Niro Dave Kotinsky Getty final

It looks like you won't have to run to the theater to see the long-awaited reunion of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.

Their next collaboration, the gangster movie "The Irishman," has been snatched up by Netflix, according to Indiewire.  

The project, which has been in the works for decades and will mark the ninth time Oscar winners Scorsese and De Niro have worked together, is an adaptation of the Charles Brandt book "I Heard You Paint Houses," which looks at hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who allegedly told Brandy for the book that he killed Jimmy Hoffa.

Netflix is planning to release the movie, which is reportedly starting production around now, in 2019. That will include a limited Oscar-qualifying theatrical release, according to Indiewire.

Also starring Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and Joe Pesci, the $100 million-budgeted mobster movie will also use "Rogue One"-like visual effects to make De Niro and other actors look decades younger in flashback scenes.

This is just the latest example of how Netflix is becoming a major force in movies (as it already is for TV). "The Irishman" was to be released by Paramount, which was behind Scorsese's last movie, "Silence," but the streaming giant looks to have swooped in at the right time. Paramount is facing turmoil at the moment with rumors that studio head Brad Grey is leaving.

A source close to the deal told Indiewire: “Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks. This way, he can make the project he wants.”

SEE ALSO: The most popular TV shows based on how much you make

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The movie that will win the best picture Oscar, according to math — and it's not even close

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La La LandFiguring out how individual people are going to react to something is nearly impossible because people are really hard to predict. However, this hasn't stopped somebody from trying to use pure numbers to figure out who the big winners are going to be at this weekend's Academy Awards. Based on the model it looks like La La Land is likely to prevail on Sunday as Best Picture, while that's maybe not too surprising, what is shocking is how, based on the numbers, it's not even close.

According to Ben Zauzmer at The Hollywood Reporter, his mathematical model is based on a combination of previous awards results, critics scores, and even current betting odds. Based on the formula, not only is La La Land the frontrunner, it's got a 58.9% chance of winning, blowing away the competition. The film sitting in second place is Hidden Figures with an 11.2% chance, primarily thanks to its big win at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Most people would agree that La La Land is the likely winner.

There is one award that La La Land is even more likely to take home, however, and that's Best Director. Damien Chazelle is being called the 86% probable winner there. He won the Directors Guild of America Award and that fact by itself makes him the likely Oscar winner. It's been 15 years since somebody won at the DCA but didn't get the Oscar.

Most of the acting awards look to be pretty locked up as well based on these numbers. Viola Davis has an 83.6% chance to take home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Emma Stone will be your Best Actress by 67.8%. Mahershala Ali will win Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight with a likelihood of 55.3%. Only the Best Actor award appears to be in contention. Casey Affleck is in a good position of 49.5% likely to win for Manchester by the Sea. However, Denzel Washington is comparatively close behind him with a 29.5% chance. If we go strictly by the number Affleck would look to have it locked but that one's closer than most others.

Finally, we have the two screenplay awards. Best Adapted Screenplay looks to be well locked up. Moonlight, which is based on a play based on the life of the author is sitting at 49.2% with both Lion and Arrival fighting over second place at around 20%. The coin flip category this year looks to be Best Original Screenplay, as Manchester by the Sea appears to be the favorite with 42.8% but La La Land is right behind them at 40.5%. That may be the one that determines your Oscar pool at work.

Do you think these numbers add up? Let us know which category you think is the most likely to see an upset.

SEE ALSO: Why 'Moonlight' is the Oscar best picture winner we deserve — and 'La La Land' is lame

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NOW WATCH: People with these personality traits have more and better sex

Jordan Peele explains why his horror movie about racism is what we need in the Trump era

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Jordan Peele 2x1

Jordan Peele is a horror fanatic. That may come as a shock to some who only know him as half of the duo behind the Comedy Central series "Key & Peele," alongside Keegan-Michael Key, but Peele is showing off his darker side in his directorial debut, "Get Out" (in theaters Friday) — and it's quite impressive.

In exploring the perennial issue of racial division in America, Peele combines "Rosemary's Baby" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" to deliver a chilling look at a black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) visiting his white girlfriend's (Allison Williams) parents for the first time. Peele, who also wrote the film's screenplay, creates a creeping send of paranoia and dread around racial politics, which spirals into full-fledged horror that's not short on scares or gore. And the movie and its social message will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

Peele talked to Business Insider about the challenges that came with directing, why the movie is even more important now that Donald Trump is president, and his plan to make more "social thrillers."    

Jason Guerrasio: What were the motivations behind writing this?

Jordan Peele: I wanted to become a better writer. This movie, among others that I've been working on, are really total passion projects and this one rose to the surface early as one that could fill a gap in the genre.

Guerrasio: How far back was this?

Peele: It was around when Obama was running for office. With him and Hillary Clinton going head-to-head for the Democratic nomination, I was thinking of the gender and racial civil rights movements in terms of one another. That's what opened my mind, because with "The Stepford Wives" and "Rosemary's Baby," films that successfully tackle gender politics and do it in an entertaining way, I was validated that there was a way to tackle race and horror in a similar way.

get out universalGuerrasio: For you, is it story first, or while writing are you also thinking about how you can shoot certain sequences?

Peele: First of all, with a horror movie, you want to know where the engine of the fear is coming from. Like in comedy, you want to know what the engine that's going to make the comedy — where that's coming from. So for me that started with the feeling of being the outsider. The fear of being the outsider, the fear of being the other. That was the first part. As it evolved, it became more apparent that race was the real fear here. And that was what the movie had to be about.

Guerrasio: So early on you were dancing with the idea of race being in the story and then it just kind of became the main theme?

Peele: Yeah. In a way it starts with images and moments that I know are bubbling to the surface, just cinematic instincts. The reason it takes a long time is you have to weave together and find meaning in the images your subconscious is presenting. And pretty quickly I realized that the discussion of racism and horror was what was missing, and what my own personal demons are about.

Guerrasio: Was the party scene in the movie, that feeling of all eyes turning to you, one of those early images?

Peele: I once had a nightmare where I was going through the lobby of a bank and I turn the corner into the area where the elevator is and everybody that had been walking around bustling in the bank lobby — you just hear their voices stop. And the energy of the voices stops. And the energy of them moving stops. I tiptoe back around the corner facing the lobby. Everyone that was paying me no mind is facing me, and standing there. It was such a powerful, creepy image, and I use it in this movie.

get out party universal finalGuerrasio: I talked to Terry Crews once and he told me he used to get scared when he was the only black person in a bank.

Peele: [Laughs] It's no joke. There's something in the collective subconscious going on there. And there's something unique about the black experience in that way. Well, I guess it's not unique to black experience — other minorities face it. The fear that you'll be viewed as the thief or the outsider. You will be the target of scapegoating. It's very real. And makes perfect sense, why Terry and I are afraid of the bank.

Guerrasio: I would think both of you should feel good going into banks now. What was the bigger roadblock, the subject matter or getting a big name attached to the project?

Peele: I was probably the biggest roadblock. I didn't think it could get made because of the subject matter. But when I sat down at QC Entertainment, I had a general meeting and I was like, "Look, let me tell you about this movie premise I have that's never gonna get made but let me just give you an idea of the type of things I want to do." And at the end of that meeting, he wanted to make the movie. I think I developed the idea and the script enough that some people in Hollywood got it. He got it, Blumhouse [Productions] expressed interest shortly after, and they really got it. And they were the perfect match. There were other places that didn't get it.

Guerrasio: I had assumed you probably directed some "Key & Peele" episodes, but this movie is your first credit as a director, ever. Were there times where this got overwhelming?

Peele: Absolutely. There were times, especially during production, where there are some do-or-die decisions that need to be made. There are things that come up that you really have to — just some big cannonballs you have to dodge, basically. But thanks to my experience at "Key & Peele," knowing how production works, learning from Peter Atencio who did direct the vast majority of "Key & Peele"— that was just invaluable for me to learn how to do it.

Guerrasio: Give me an example of one of those cannonballs. 

Peele: The idea is problems are going to arise. And you have to figure out how to maintain the vision and avoid that problem, or change something big to keep the continuity of the vision. We were going to shoot this movie here in Los Angeles until about a month before we were set to shoot, and then I got a call saying we had to figure out someplace else for tax reasons [eds note: filming took place in Alabama].

jordan peele universalGuerrasio: That's a gigantic curveball.

Peele: A gigantic curveball, and a real lesson that sometimes blessings come in strange packages. Because I think the movie is what it's meant to be. I think it might be a better movie than we would've done in here in LA. Also just a big lesson that you can get past the insurmountable.

Guerrasio: You've mentioned "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives." Having now directed a movie, can any of those reference points help at all while you're actually directing?

Peele: Absolutely. This was made out of my influences, really. You find the moments where something's coming from your subconscious and you have to build a story around your dreams and the things that hit you in the gut. But in the execution of those things, I'm basically speaking in terms of all my favorite movies.

Guerrasio: Did "Get Out" change at all through things that happened in the country in the last handful of years? Whether it be Ferguson or Trayvon Martin or even the Trump election? Did suddenly a line make more sense or a sequence make more sense than it did before?

Peele: The whole movie's purpose, a little bit. In the beginning, we're in the Obama presidency and race was not supposed to be discussed. It was almost like, if you talk about race, it will appear and we're past that now. So the movie was about calling it as I was seeing it, in that regard. With the emergence of Black Lives Matter and the discussion becoming focused on the police violence, when the country got more woke, this movie's purpose transformed into something that was meant to provide a hero and release from all the real horrors of the world.

Guerrasio: Was anything added after Trump was elected? Or was it just a feeling that the movie was now going to mean something more?

Peele: A little more of the latter. I knew I made something universal and I just think it's more relevant now as the need for racial discussion is more obvious now. What people are willing to engage with — especially if it brings a little escapism at the same time.

Get Out UniversalGuerrasio: Now it's just even more interesting.

Peele: The conversation is happening. Which I think is difficult, but a good thing. I think it's more healthy for us than the other version, which is let's ignore it all.

Guerrasio: Your wife is comedian Chelsea Peretti, who is white. Was she a good sounding board for this? Did she throw in a joke or a line here or there?

Peele: I wrote it before I met her, really. But I was dating her during the process.

Guerrasio: That must have been an interesting topic to bring up when you guys started dating. By the way, I have this script about...

Peele: [Laughs] Yeah. But she loves this film and she really gets it and gets a devilish kick out of it. Anything I do, creative or otherwise, she's a perfect sounding board. Which is one of the reasons we're a great couple. We both have our own projects and we both really root for each other and trust each other's opinion.

Guerrasio: But can you come to each other with an objective opinion?

Peele: Yeah, we have total trust that there's no ego attached to each other's opinion. She'll tell me if something, she won't be rude, but I can tell if she doesn't like something. Or if she's not into something I've done. She's the perfect sounding board.

Guerrasio: Did the comic relief just come naturally in the writing? Specifically Chris' friend, Rod (LilRel Howery).

Peele: Yeah. I think first and foremost the Rod character is a release for the audience. Because he's kind of realistic. He's saying the things that we're mumbling as an audience. He feels like a real friend and it makes sense that somebody with his conspiracy-theory brain would zone in on something being wrong here before even Chris does.

Guerrasio: What are your future plans for directing? Could you fathom a sequel?

Peele: I can fathom anything, man. I love biting off more than I can chew and figuring it out. I have four other social thrillers that I want to unveil in the next decade.

Guerrasio: What's the biggest takeaway from this experience that you will hold onto when you direct again?

Peele: You hear it said time and time again by successful directors: You have to make a movie for yourself. Don't make it for anyone else. My style of filmmaking happens to be give the audience what they know they don't want, but they want. Ultimately I have to write and direct in a way that let's just say, you don't want to regret making a choice.

Guerrasio: Can you tease at all what you have in store for us with these other social thrillers?

Peele: I'll say this: The scariest monster in the world is human beings and what we are capable of, especially when we get together. I'm working on these premises about these different social demons. These innately human monsters that have been woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact. Each one of my movies is going to be about one of these different social demons. The first one being "Get Out," is about race and neglect and marginalization.

 

SEE ALSO: How a movie about black NASA heroes became the crowd-pleasing Oscar contender of the year

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NOW WATCH: 6 details you may have missed in the 'Stranger Things' season 2 trailer

Here's the movie that won best picture at the Oscars the year you were born

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titanic 20th Century Fox

The Oscars' designation of best picture is Hollywood's most coveted award. While some fantastic films have been honored with the title, other less-than-stellar picks have been named best picture. But no matter your opinion on the movies, there's no denying the Academy Awards' legacy for recognizing the great films of our time.

Keep reading for a look at the movie named best picture the year you were born, as well as every other film given the golden statue.

SEE ALSO: Jordan Peele explains why his horror movie about racism is what we need in the Trump era

1929: "Wings"

Plot: "Two young men, one rich, one middle class, who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I."

Stars: Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen, and Gary Cooper.

Source: IMDB



1929 (again*): "The Broadway Melody"

*The first Academy Awards ceremony of 1929 recognized movies from the 1927/1928 movie season, while the second ceremony was for 1928/1929 movies.

Plot: "A pair of sisters from the vaudeville circuit try to make it big time on Broadway, but matters of the heart complicate the attempt."

Stars: Bessie Love, Anita Page, and Charles King.

Source: IMDB



1930: "All Quiet on the Western Front"

Plot: "A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I."

Stars: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, and John Wray.

Source: IMDB



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It took millions of tiny details to bring "The Jungle Book" to life

TERRY CREWS: 'Idiocracy' is so prophetic 'it actually scares people'

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Terry Crews, actor, former NFL player, and the host of Netflix's upcoming "Beastmasters," says he would love to bring back his iconic character, President Camacho from "Idiocracy," to talk about the end of political correctness in America.

You can watch our full interview with Terry Crews here.

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Watch a scene from the new 'Alien' movie that's eerily similar to the original's shocking reveal

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20th Century Fox released the official prologue to "Alien: Covenant" called "Last Supper." Colonization ship, the Covenant, heads to a remote planet to establish a new human population. In this scene, the crew of the Covenant have their final meal before entering cryosleep.

Luke Scott directs this next chapter in the "Alien" franchise made famous by Ridley Scott.

"Alien: Covenant" hits theaters May 19, 2017.

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We finally know a lot more about what's going to be in Ridley Scott's new 'Alien' movie

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Alien Covenant Prologue 20th Century Fox final

Though Ridley Scott's continuation of his "Alien" saga, "Alien: Covenant," doesn't come out until May, we have been given a nice little tease of the new characters we will be following in the sequel to "Prometheus."

20th Century Fox released the film's prologue on Wednesday night, which shows the crew of the colony ship Covenant as they party one last time before going into cryosleep. And the nearly five-minute prologue is filled with hints of what's in store.

James Franco plays the captain of the ship, who is under the weather as he goes into cryosleep (never a good sign in an "Alien" movie). There seems to be tension in the ranks between officers played by Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup. Michael Fassbender returns as the creepy andriod from "Prometheus," and it will be interesting to see what ulterior motives he has. And Danny McBride looks to be coming with the comic relief. The "Eastbound & Down" star will be the one we're all rooting for to survive.

"Alien: Covenant" opens in theaters May 19. Watch the prologue below:

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Jordan Peele explains why his horror movie about racism is what we need in the Trump era

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Here's everything leaving Netflix in March that you need to watch

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Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

It's time to say bye to a bunch of titles from Netflix as the calendar turns to March.

Be sure to binge "Jaws" and its awful sequels one last time before they leave the streaming giant, along with the classic comedy "Animal House." And watch the highly underrated "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," too.

Here's everything else that's leaving Netflix in March. We've highlighted the titles we think you should watch in bold.

SEE ALSO: Here's who's most likely to win at the 2017 Oscars on Sunday night

Leaving March 1

“Jaws”
“Justice League: War”
“Jaws 2”
“Jaws 3”
“Jaws: The Revenge”
“Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”
“Keeping Up Appearances”
“Monarch of the Glen” (Seasons 1 - 7)
“National Lampoon's Animal House”
“Robin Hood” (Seasons 1 - 3)
“Survivors” (Series 1 - 2)



Leaving March 2

“Black or White”
“Sweetwater”



Leaving March 3

“Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey”
“Misfire”
“Web Junkie”



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Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey talk about their unique new Netflix movie

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I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore Allyson Riigs Sundance Institute

Sundance Film Festival veterans Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey star together for the first time ever in the dark comedy "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore," and it led to strong reviews out of the fest and the movie receiving this year's grand jury prize. Now you can see it on Netflix beginning Friday.

The movie follows a depressed woman named Ruth (Lynskey) who calls on the assistance of her weird neighbor Tony (Wood) after her house is burglarized and decides to find the thief herself as the police are no help. Writer-director Macon Blair (the lead in the 2013 indie hit "Blue Ruin") delivers a terrific twisted comedy in the vein of the Coen brothers but with more gore. 

Business Insider sat down with Wood and Lynskey to talk about why they seek out unique stories, how Netflix has changed the movie business, and if we'll ever see Wood play Iggy Pop.

Jason Guerrasio: Did you guys know each other before shooting began?

Elijah Wood: We did, we met through Peter Jackson.

Melanie Lynskey: Yeah.

Guerrasio: How far back was this?

Wood: Probably seven or eight years ago.

Lynskey: Didn't I meet you at the opening for the King Kong ride?

Wood: I feel like we met there.

Guerrasio: That's a great first meet memory.

Lynskey: [Laughs] Yeah, it was before it opened and they invited us to come with friends and ride on it.

Guerrasio: Going into this movie was there a need to get together and break the ice?

Wood: We worked a little bit before on a Cartoon Network mini series called "Over the Garden Wall," and we had a day of work together. It was fun because we were in each other's world but never got to hang out.

Guerrasio: But you didn't connect before shooting started?

Lynskey: He showed up for shooting early, I'm terrible. I'm like, "Can I come up in the morning before we start filming?" I like being at home. But once I get there and I like everyone I'm like, "I don't want to leave." Filming this was very easy, very comfortable.

Wood: I just felt like I knew you already.

Lynskey: We got together for dinner a few times and hung out. It wasn't like we felt like we needed to connect.

Guerrasio: What was it about Macon's script that you dug?

Wood: Everything about it. I loved the characters. I've been a huge fan of his work from "Blue Ruin" to "Green Room," which I starred in with him. And the script he wrote was incredible, with really beautiful, well drawn characters that you could relate to. But it also delved into genre cinema as well. It was all these things in one. It was my favorite thing I've read in a long time.

Lynskey: It's just so original and it felt very honest, there were a lot of specific details that made me feel very sure of the story he wanted to tell and the world he wanted to create. I like it when somebody has a voice but it's not a voice where all the characters sound the same. He's able to create different and interesting characters.

Guerrasio: Are you guys surprised by the growth Netflix has made in building out its original content?

Wood: It's actually not that surprising, anymore. I think there was a time in the '90s that this would have been a title that would have gone direct-to-video, which would have been some certain kind of death. But that's not the case anymore. If anything, it's created this equal opportunity for filmmakers. There are so many ways to distribute a movie now and for a film like this in particular if it got a theatrical release it might have only played in the coastal cities.

Guerrasio: I was thinking after seeing the movie, if Netflix or Amazon wasn't around this movie would be in play with the Focus Features, Magnolia Pictures, IFC Films of the world.

Wood: Yeah, it's great that there's a company that, yes, has a lot of money but also is a really creative film department that are making great choices.

Lynskey: And TV.

Wood: Yeah, I love their TV. But they are making choices based on the filmmakers and material without really wanting to get in the way. They did not come to set. They saw our dailies and we were getting thumbs up. That's a really remarkable thing for a first time director to have that kind of faith. I'm all for it. If you can get your movie made the way you want to get it made, no matter what the end result is going to be, if people are going to see it that's awesome.

Lynskey: There is a wonderful peace of mind knowing that it's going to have an audience. But you still want it to have the best sendoff, so showing it here I was worried how the reviews would be, because Netflix doesn't usually let stuff go to festivals. So there was a discussion about that.

Guerrasio: Well, it sounds like it's been received very positively.

Lynskey: Very. It's been amazing.

Guerrasio: You guys have been working in this industry for almost your whole lives, what keeps you motivated to continue working?

Wood: Every experience is a new experience. I feel like I'm constantly learning. Constantly trying to grow. This is a good example, I had never played a character like this before. I never had an opportunity like this before. That's what keeps you going. It's also the filmmakers, going to festivals or just seeing movies on your own, there are just so many incredible people with so many amazing ideas. That inspires you. And I never feel safe. Safety and comfort comes with complacency and that's never a good place to be working from.

Lynskey: I feel very fortunate to have a job where I'm allowed to keep growing. And a lot of it is about exploring yourself and exploring other people and getting to understand humans. It's something that you get addicted to. I also don't know how to do anything else. Honestly, sometimes I think, "Gosh, I wish I had some backup plan." I think I would be a therapist at this point.

Wood: You would be good at that.

Guerrasio: Well, being an actor is kind of like therapy in a weird way.

Lynskey: It's true. It's the closest thing to it, I think.

Guerrasio: Elijah, will the Iggy Pop biopic every happen?

Wood: I think it's dead. I'm actually kind of grateful because I was terrified of it at the time.

Lynskey: What's this?

Wood: There was this biopic that had been written about Iggy Pop that tracked him from high school to starting The Stooges and inevitably ending The Stooges to go make his first solo album.

Lynskey: Wow!

iggy popGuerrasio: How many years were you attached to it?

Wood: It was probably like two or three years. [Current head of Amazon Studios] Ted Hope was involved in producing it and Nick Gomez was the director. It was an interesting thing and I was so flattered to be asked to play that role but it terrified me. At the time I thought I was too young and there's one thing about playing someone who has passed away, which I also would feel equally anxious about, but someone who is alive and very vital still as a musician and an artist, I don't know.

Guerrasio: Iggy didn't want to be a part of it but he gave his blessing of you playing him.

Wood: He did.

Lynskey: That's awesome!

Wood: The older I've gotten the more I've gotten a little precious about music-related films as it comes to biopics. I kind of don't want to see it, I'd rather see a documentary. And this is just coming from me. I love music documentaries, I kind of don't want to see people embodying those people.

Guerrasio: Melanie, give me a sense of the movie business today as an actress from your eyes. Are you starting to see scripts come to you with characters for you to play that are more outside the box from typical female roles?

Lynskey: I really do. I think this is so sh---y for the world and I'm terrified [about the election of Donald Trump] but I do think there's something so positive and that people are really rising up and using their voices and feeling empowered and feeling like I have to do it. There's more urgency and I think we are going to see a lot more diversity in storytelling and filmmaking. I'm kind of excited about what's ahead.

Wood: The next four years are exciting because the opposition of Trump is so strong and so united and that will yield great results.  

SEE ALSO: "Zootopia" directors: Why the movie has a special meaning after the Trump victory

Join the conversation about this story »

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Why this new racially charged horror movie has a rare perfect score from critics

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get out universal

It’s very rare, even close to unseen, for a wide-release movie to get a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes just a day before its release. A score of 100% means that every critic who has seen the movie so far gave it a positive review.

Even some of the movies you’d expect to have a perfect score don’t have one. This honor is primarily reserved for classic films including “Citizen Kane,”“All About Eve,"“Singing “in the Rain,” and “North by Northwest.”

But before its opening weekend, Jordan Peele’s comedy-horror mashup film “Get Out” has managed to move up the ranks and earn this high honor, with 78 100% positive reviews counting as of this writing.

"Get Out" addresses issues of race in the United States in ways that are uncomfortable, gruesome, and at times also uncomfortably funny. It's especially timely given the current political climate. The sketches on Peele's Comedy Central sketch show "Key & Peele," which ended in 2015, often addressed racial issues and blended comedy with the horror genre but never to an extent as serious as his directorial debut, which according to what critics are saying so far, is working out beautifully.

(Warning: Mild spoilers for "Get Out" below.)

See what the critics say about the 100% fresh "Get Out":

SEE ALSO: Jordan Peele explains why his horror movie about racism is what we need in the Trump era

It proves a point about race. Powerfully.

As a black man, the protagonist of "Get Out" is nervous about meeting his white girlfriend's family. His anxiety turns into straight-up terror as he discovers a conspiracy that has to do with black people disappearing.

“[Peele] has created a work that addresses the myriad levels of racism, pays homage to some great horror films, carves out its own creative path, has a distinctive visual style — and is flat-out funny as well,” Richard Roeper wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. 

 

 



But it’s still it’s a crowd-pleaser.

Despite its social commentary, "Get Out" still provokes what movie audiences crave, including jump scares and nervous laughter. This isn’t one of those movies you want to see in an empty theater once it's been out for a couple of weeks. With an empty theater, it just won’t be as fun and exciting. The movie incites audience reaction that adds to the whole experience. 

“This one really should be seen with a crowd,” Michael Phillips wrote in the Chicago Tribune.

 

 



It’s hilarious. (Really.)

Despite the daring premise and elements of horror, Peele doesn't let his comedic genius so beloved from "Key & Peele" go unnoticed. 

"'Get Out' is an absolutely brilliant and original horror film. Imagine a devilishly twisted update of 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.' 'Get Out' is scary, laugh-out-loud funny, and an inspired satire of interracial relationships,"MovieWeb wrote.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The 9 most controversial Oscar snubs of all time

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alfred hitchcock

Hollywood's biggest night is quickly approaching, and movie lovers everywhere are debating which films from 2016 will take home trophies.

Before finding out which dreams will come true and who might be overlooked, let's take a look back at some of the biggest surprise Oscar snubs of years past. 

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1. Bette Davis, "Of Human Bondage"

The 1934 film adaptation of  W. Somerset Maugham's novel starred Bette Davis as tea-room waitress Mildred Rogers, who draws Philip Carey into an obsessive and abusive relationship. Davis originally did not receive a nomination for her performance, and the public was so upset by the oversight that a special write-in campaign was permitted to recognize her. 



2. Judy Garland, "The Wizard of Oz"

Judy Garland won hearts all over the world with her performance in the MGM musical as Dorothy Gale, the plucky girl from Kansas who ends up over the rainbow and determined to return home. The New York Times described her as "a pert and fresh-faced miss with the wonder-lit eyes of a believer in fairy tales," yet Garland did not receive an Academy Award nomination for her timeless performance.



3. Peter O'Toole, "Lawrence of Arabia"

Peter O'Toole was heralded for his performance in this 1962 blockbuster film, which won seven Academy Awards. Its accolades included best picture, but failed to recognize O'Toole's performance chronicling his experiences in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I.

O'Toole went on to earn seven more nominations throughout his career — but he never took home an Oscar. 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Why 'Moonlight' is the Oscar best picture winner we deserve — and 'La La Land' is lame

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moonlight"La La Land" is forgettable. Yes, it will probably win best picture when the Oscars are handed out on February 26, because it's practically designed for the Academy Awards. It's a musical, it's cute, it's technically impressive, it flatters Hollywood. But I have yet to meet a fan of the movie (they are many and vocal, as "SNL" aptly parodied) who actually listens to the soundtrack, which when you think about it, opposes the entire logic of a musical.

It's also a movie that looks backward. The classics it incessantly references ("Singin' in the Rain,""The Umbrellas of Cherbourg") defined their genres. Gene Kelly perfected the art of singing and dancing on the big screen. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone can barely sing and soft-shoe better than you and I can, and their characters' conflicts (why aren't you pursuing your dream instead of playing in a successful pop-jazz band?) are lame if not puzzling. "La La Land" rewards viewers who recognize what's pretty and vintage, but it's skin-deep.

la la landThis wouldn't be the first time the Oscar best picture has gone to pat fluff ("Shakespeare in Love" comes to mind), but it comes at a critical time. "Moonlight," a smaller film, has a decent chance of stealing the award, and I hope it does, because it's a revolutionary movie in the middle of what might turn out to be a revolutionary moment in American history. Either way, it's the nominee that will prove to be timeless.

From the outside, it's easy to understand why "Moonlight" appeals to Oscar voters. The drama exposes the underbelly of an ignored and blighted corner of the US, and it demands that its extremely talented actors shout and cry a lot. It's also, as critics rightfully point out, in the tradition of movies about the degradations of black life, like "Precious" and "Monster's Ball." The worst parts of the movie indulge in movie-of-the-week cliches about crackheads (the addict mom seemingly transforms out of nowhere by the end to deliver a final redemptive note).

But "Moonlight" is unique and life-affirming, even soul-cleansing, in a more fundamental way. This is a movie centered on a poor black man with gay desires that is not in any central way about being black, gay, or poor. The director and the writer of the play on which "Moonlight" is based — who are from the same housing projects in Liberty City, Miami, where it's set — deeply understand how circumstances shape their main character, as we see through the gorgeous on-location shooting. (Anyone from Miami or the surrounding area, like I am, will feel the heat just watching.) But the quiet, stunning revelation of the movie is that this poor black man with gay desires can't be pinned down to any of those things. We watch him define his own identity, on his own terms.

We're in the early days of a president who recently described the conditions of largely black urban centers as "terrible." Words like those have long been used to strip away the inherent humanity of black Americans. We've made a lot of racial progress in 2017, but we're also a country, as research shows, that increasingly self-sorts into communities of people who think and act like us, and who confirm our view of the world.

Moonlight"Moonlight" scrambles that problem. It's audaciously and ingeniously structured in three parts, in which we see the main character in starkly different stages of his life (he's named Little, Chiron, and Black) that are still undeniably linked. The last chapter shows Black, after a traumatic childhood and having moved away, inhabiting the image of a hard black man we've come to accept from pop culture. But then we see more — the wonder of Little, the tenderness and insecurity of Chiron. We see how this man has gradually shuffled through identities to find which one is really his.

The ending of "Moonlight" hinges on Black's romantic reunion with a childhood friend that is and isn't what you expect based on a million Hollywood romances. They make awkward small talk, there's the gesture of intimacy in a hot meal, a soul song on the jukebox.

But we've never seen two black men reuniting like this in a major American movie before. That's not just tokenism. Their interaction is palpably real, and about much more than sex. It's the recognition of two people who know each other so well that they could never forget, no matter how many years they've been apart or how much they've superficially changed. They see each other for who they really are, when hardly anyone else does. It's one of the most remarkable things I've seen portrayed on a big screen.

And that recognition of one man's individual humanity and connection in "Moonlight" can help us understand how we look at each other, too. The movie resists the idea that we're defined by our color, sexuality, community, education, income, or even politics, even while those things determine so much about our lives. Its blissful lesson is that we're all just trying to find out who we are and understand each other — and perhaps we can, if we really try.

That's something worth celebrating in 2017 or any other year.

SEE ALSO: RANKED: The 10 worst movies to win the best picture Oscar — and what should have won

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How successful the Oscar best picture nominees really were at the box office

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Though they’re certainly not lacking in attention, a number of the Oscar nominees for best picture actually don’t get that much attention at the box office. 

Several of the films nominated for Oscars this year didn't do big business in theaters. That’s because quite a few of the 2017 Oscar darlings are indie movies that just didn't get the exposure that the wide releases did — and had much smaller budgets.

We took a look at every 2017 best picture nominee’s budget and compared it to its domestic box-office gross, based on numbers from Box Office Mojo.

While some movies including “Moonlight,” “Hell or Highwater,” and “Lion” didn’t make anything close to blockbuster money, every movie on the list exceeded its budget and didn’t lose any money. 

It’s no huge surprise that “Hidden Figures” has made the most domestically, since it seems to have the most commercial appeal out of all the nominees on the list, with its moving true story and a star-studded cast. Though it's still a notable achievement for the best picture contender that's led by black actresses (and one with a modest budget).

“La La Land” also has commercial appeal and, with 14 nominations, a lot of Academy appeal, too. The fact that the stylish and modern movie musical stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling certainly helps.

The third at the box office, “Arrival,” benefited from its sleek sci-fi concept and marketing, plus marquee names in Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forrest Whitaker. It was also the most expensive to make on the list.

See below how all the 2017 Oscar best picture nominees did at the box office compared to their budgets:bi graphics_best_picture_budget

SEE ALSO: The rise and fall (and rise) of M. Night Shyamalan's career in one chart

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Everything we know about the 'Wonder Woman' movie coming this summer

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wonder woman gal gadotThe INSIDER Summary:

• "Wonder Woman" stars Gal Gadot and is an origin story about the famous superhero.
• The movie is directed by Patty Jenkins and has a strong female supporting cast.
• It takes place during World War I. 
• The movie's release date is this summer. 


Comic book movies have been a thing for about as long as Hollywood has been a thing, but the modern age of Superhero movies didn't really get going until around 2000. That was when X-Men came out, which changed everything. Cut to 17 years later and we still have yet to have a good, female-led superhero movie in the modern era. 'Wonder Woman' is hoping to change that this summer.

Warner Bros. may be a little late to the game in terms of making a cinematic universe around their DC Comics superheroes when compared to Marvel Studios, but they are beating Marvel to the punch on this one. Marvel Studios has strong female heroes like Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, but after nearly a decade of making comic book movies, they have yet to make a movie featuring a female as the lead. Warner Bros. is releasing 'Wonder Woman' as their fourth movie as part of the DCEU, which is way ahead of the game in that respect. Here is the official synopsis for 'Wonder Woman.'

"'Wonder Woman' hits movie theaters around the world next summer when Gal Gadot returns as the title character in the epic action adventure from director Patty Jenkins. Before she was 'Wonder Woman,' she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers...and her true destiny."

Even though this will be the first solo 'Wonder Woman' movie, we have already seen the big screen version of Diana Prince last year, and what we saw was by most accounts very encouraging. Gal Gadot's performance as the character was one of the most praised qualities of 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,' even from those who didn't particularly enjoy the movie otherwise. This time it is going to be different, though. It is her movie. It is her time to shine and that is something fans of the character have been waiting a very, very long time for.

There are a lot of superhero movies coming out this year but perhaps none will wind up being more important than 'Wonder Woman' for a lot of reasons. Not only is the fate of the DCEU largely resting on its shoulders, but being that this is the first female-led superhero movie of the modern era, there are some massive expectations heading into it. So, here is what we know about the 'Wonder Woman' movie. 

Patty Jenkins is directing.

wonder woman with director

The world has been waiting for quite some time on a female-led superhero movie in the modern era and fortunately, 'Wonder Woman' is going to be that movie. Not only is the movie going to primarily follow a female hero, but it is actually going to be a woman behind the camera as well. Patty Jenkins hasn't directed a movie since 2003's Monster, but she is making her return to features with 'Wonder Woman.'

Hollywood isn't notorious for giving female directors big opportunities, but Warner Bros. seems to be making a statement with 'Wonder Woman.' It is a female-driven story and it is probably best handled with a woman in charge. Don't think that Warner Bros. gave her the project simply because she is a woman, either. Even though she hasn't directed a theatrically released movie in more than a decade, she has been working on very well-regarded TV shows like 'Arrested Development' and 'The Killing.' Assuming 'Wonder Woman' is a big hit, it could be a big step not only for Patty Jenkins, but for female directors in general.

The budget is huge and historical.

wonder woman

The exact budget for 'Wonder Woman' hasn't been revealed yet, but we know that it is going to be more than $100 million. That is really common for a big superhero movie of this scale, but it is very significant in this particular case. Why exactly? Well, because it is only the second time in history that a woman is going to direct a movie with a nine-figure budget and it is the first time since 2002 when Kathryn Bigelow did it on 'K-19: The Widowmaker.' Again, no pressure on Patty Jenkins, but 'K-19: The Widowmaker' was a huge flop, only bringing in $65 million worldwide, which probably didn't help encourage studios to hire female directors for big projects. If 'Wonder Woman' succeeds, which it almost certainly will, it will be a huge deal. Assuming the movie can also be a critical success, Patty Jenkins is in a serious position to do some big time trailblazing.

Geoff Johns and Allen Heinberg wrote the screenplay.

geoff johns screenwriter wonder woman

Those who have had issues with previous DCEU movies could probably trace most of their issues with the movies back to the script. It has been said that David Ayer only had six weeks to write 'Suicide Squad,' which isn't nearly enough time to do a proper screenplay for a movie of that size and scope. Hopefully, 'Wonder Woman' won't fall into those same traps. One thing is for sure, the screenplay took longer than six weeks to write. The screenplay that ultimately wound up being used for the movie was written by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns. The former has mostly worked on TV shows such as 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'The OC' and the latter is the head of the DC Comics properties for Warner Bros., who just so happens to be a very highly-regarded former comic book writer.

The two of them together makes for an interesting pair. Given that this is the first movie that Allan Heinberg is credited with writing, Warner Bros. must have seen something in him. As for Geoff Johns, he knows the world of DC Comics very well, so having his input on the screenplay can probably only be a good thing. No matter how 'Wonder Woman' ultimately turns out, it will largely be these two guys who are responsible for it, good or bad.

Gal Gadot is back as 'Wonder Woman.'

wonder woman gal gadot

Despite the fact that 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice' really seemed to divide audiences, one of the unquestionable highlights was getting to see 'Wonder Woman' make her big screen debut. Something that was 75 years in the making. Since the DC Extended Universe is a connected series of movies, it will once again be Gal Gadot portraying Diana Prince in the 'Wonder Woman' solo movie. Even before her epic fight with Doomsday at the end of BvS, the 31-year-old actress had proved herself in big-budget action movies, starring in both 'Fast Five' and 'Fast & Furious 6.' For the most part, the reception to 'Wonder Woman's' limited screen time in 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice' was very positive, so that should serve as some encouragement heading into the Amazonian superhero's first solo movie ever. There is a lot of excitement about his movie and a lot of that will rest on Gal Gadot's shoulders. No pressure.

Chris Pine is playing Steve Trevor.

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Chris Pine has quite a bit of experience in big-budget action movies, since he has been playing Captain Kirk in J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' reboot. He is finally making his way to the world of superhero movies, but he still isn't getting any superpowers. Chris Pine will be playing Steve Trevor and even though he isn't a superhero per say, he is a very important character in the history of 'Wonder Woman.' The character first appeared in DC Comics back in 1941 and has the distinction of being the first man to ever visit Themyscira, the Amazonian island that Diana Prince hails from. He is also the one that introduces 'Wonder Woman' to the world of men outside of her Amazonian existence and based on what we have seen in the trailers, that seems to be the case in the movie. As a member of the U.S. military, expect to see Steve Trevor getting into some combat during 'Wonder Woman,' even if he doesn't actually have any powers.

Ares is the Villain.

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The trailers for 'Wonder Woman' have truly impressed fans up to this point, but what is really interesting is that the villain has largely been absent. Sure, there are war and battle sequences, but we haven't really seen any recognizable comic book villain, for the most part. However, we do know that Ares, sometimes referred to as Mars of War, is going to be the big bad in the movie. Beyond that, things are kind of a mystery. It has been highly speculated that actor Danny Huston, who we have seen in the trailers as a military general, will be playing him. Given that his character still doesn't have a credited name on the IMDB page, that would probably make sense. It also seems very fitting that Ares is the villain, because he first appeared in the very first issue of 'Wonder Woman.' Also, since the movie takes place during a time of war and Ares' goal is to realize eternal war and conflict among the world of men, it would also make sense. So, not only is Diana Prince going to have to deal with fighting a war, but she is also going to have to fight a God of war, which could be really awesome.

'Wonder Woman' has a strong female supporting cast.

wonder woman cast

Since 'Wonder Woman' is being told as an origin story, Diana Prince isn't the only super powerful, badass lady we are going to see in the movie. Much of the supporting cast for 'Wonder Woman' features big name actresses who are playing other very strong, female characters. The most notable of these strong supporting females is Queen Hippolyta, who is being played by Connie Nielsen. For those who may not be super familiar with the world of DC Comics, Queen Hippolyta is actually Diana Prince's mom and rules over their Amazonian people. 'Wonder Woman's' mom is not someone you want to mess with. House of Cards star Robin Wright will also be playing General Antiope, another very strong female Amazon warrior. IMDB also has actress Florence Kasumba listed as playing Senator Acantha, another very powerful figure among the Amazons. Make no mistake, 'Wonder Woman' may be a singular title, but it is going to be packed with powerful ladies.

'Wonder Woman' is an origin story.

wonder woman

Interestingly enough, Warner Bros. decided to skip over the Batman origin story and just plopped Ben Affleck into the DCEU as an old, grizzled version of the character. 'Wonder Woman' also got her on-screen debut before getting an origin story, but she is most definitely getting one. Warner Bros. and Patty Jenkins decided that the best way to handle her first solo movie would be to tell it as an origin story. Since Diana Prince has been alive for quite some time, that will make the movie a period piece, setting it decades before the events of 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.' We are going to get to see her transition from isolated, Amazonian life to world-saving superhero.

Also, since she is sort of doing her own thing in the modern age prior to duking it out with Doomsday, we are probably going to see why she decided to leave the hero life behind for nearly a century. It is unclear if the movie is taking cues from any one specific run of comics, but the DCEU so far has drawn a lot from the New 52 run, so expect 'Wonder Woman' to mix some of the old lore with the new lore from the DC Comics.

Themyscira will be explored.

wonder woman setting

 Because 'Wonder Woman' has never had her own movie, there are a lot of significant things from the world of DC Comics that have never made it to the big screen. For example, Diana Prince's island home of Themyscira, originally known as Paradise Island, has never been seen in a live-action movie, but that is going to change in 'Wonder Woman.' The island home of the Amazons has been an important location in the world of DC Comics since 1941 and will finally be explored in this new movie. There have been small glimpses of this in the trailers and some of the images that have been released by Warner Bros. and it looks like it will be quite an amazing, gorgeous location. It is unclear exactly how much of Themyscira will be featured in 'Wonder Woman,' but either way, we are going to get to see the home of the Amazons on the big screen for the first time and that should definitely be exciting for hardcore DC fans.

World War I is the main setting.

wonder woman chris pine

Long before we saw any real promotional material for 'Wonder Woman,' it was pretty clear that it was going to be a period piece. During the Justice League introduction sequence in 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,' we saw Diana Prince finally getting her hands on that photo she was looking for, which showed her and some American soldiers doing battle together in World War I. That was a tease of things to come, because 'Wonder Woman' is seemingly going to take place entirely in that era, which for you non-history buffs is between the years of 1914 and 1918. Marvel did something very similar when introducing Captain America into the Marvel Cinematic Universe by making 'Captain America: The First Avenger' set during WWII. In the case of 'Wonder Woman,' it actually makes sense, given that the modern world didn't seem to know much about her. In the early 1900s, it would have been much harder to document her existence, so whatever she does do in the movie to help out the war effort, it will be at least somewhat logical that it wasn't a well-documented part of the war effort. In any case, it will be interesting to see what the DCEU looks like as a period piece/war drama.

Don't expect any big cameos.

wonder woman bvs

One of the fun things about having a shared universe with a bunch of different movies and a bunch of different characters is that those characters can pop in and out of other movies, even if only for brief moments. The problem, or maybe it really isn't a problem depending on your perspective, is that since 'Wonder Woman' takes place during World War I, there probably won't be any major cameos. That isn't to say we have to rule it out entirely, but it just seems much less likely. Even 'Suicide Squad' was able to squeeze in cameos from The Flash and Batman, but 'Wonder Woman' just doesn't seem like a place that other DCEU heroes fit into. While cameos may be mostly out of the question, there will certainly be Easter eggs all over the place, so be on the lookout for those. Especially since this is the last DC movie we are going to see before Justice League hits theaters in November. 

When is the release date?

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There's a backlash against Oscar frontrunner 'La La Land' — but it's still going to clean up

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Emma Stone Ryan Gosling La La Land

Oscar voting ballots are already in, but with the awards on Sunday imminent, everyone seems to suddenly have a strong opinion about who's going to win, and perhaps more importantly, who should win.

This year, the tug of war that's emerged is between the movie musical "La La Land," which ties the record for the most Oscar nominations ever, and "Moonlight," a critically beloved and smaller indie drama about a black man in three parts of his life.

Basically every serious Oscar prognosticator has already put their money on "La La Land." Literally. The odds on betting sites overwhelmingly favor the Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling movie for best picture.

A critic at Slant Magazine may have put it best when he said, "As 'La La Land's' Oscar chances in each category are concerned, there are only three statuses to assign: all sewed up, highly probable, and Ryan Gosling." (Gosling is expected to lose in the best actor category to either Casey Affleck or Denzel Washington. It's the one area where the musical looks weak.)

Some people really, really hate 'La La Land'

Nevertheless, there is a considerable backlash to "La La Land," and it has serious detractors who all seemed to get louder than usual in the week leading up to the Oscars. (I should say I'm one of those people who has argued that "Moonlight" deserves best picture.)

The Guardian described the situation bleakly, in a piece with the headline, "'La La Land's' inevitable Oscars win is a disaster for Hollywood — and for us." Writer David Cox says the movie is a story of "narcissists" who are "humorless" and "insensitive."

Cox also calls out the movie for what he sees as "whitesplaining jazz" in Gosling's character, a musician who longs to open up his own jazz club. Paste Magazine similarly criticized the "unbearable whiteness" of "La La Land," picking apart its racial politics and emphasis on nostalgia.

Critic Sam Adams said on Twitter, perhaps ironically, that "if 'La La Land' wins the world will be plunged into a never-ending night from which it will never emerge." Others have chimed in on social media with their grumbles about the movie and its perceived frontrunner status at the Oscars.

The actor, writer, and director Mark Duplass even wrote an open letter to the Academy urging its voters to choose "Moonlight" and "think about what it would mean" if the film took home the big prize, clearly aware of its dark-horse status.

Moonlight

Why 'La La Land' is (almost) definitely going to win best picture

But there are some very simple reasons you can expect "La La Land" to win best picture on Sunday, whether you admire the movie, feel ambivalent about it, or think it's going to plunge us all into darkness.

Aside from having the record-tying number of nominations, it broke the record for wins at the Golden Globes, and has secured the most love from the important Producers Guild, Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and other honors tracked by FiveThirtyEight.

The most likely upset is a win for "Moonlight," and it would certainly be a way for the Academy to respond to the #OscarsSoWhite conversation about a lack of diverse representation in the awards and Hollywood at large. "Moonlight" is also just a powerful, beautifully made movie about a specific black man's experience in a poor neighborhood of Miami that also happens to universally resonate.

You could theorize about other potential upsets, especially after "Spotlight," an early favorite at last year's awards, stole the thunder from "The Revenant," which gained steam later. Perhaps "Hidden Figures," the most crowd-pleasing nominee, as well as the highest-grossing in the US, or "Manchester by the Sea," which is about as depressing as movies get but (also about as moving), could get their due.

Yet "La La Land" has been tracking as the favorite for all of award season, and that's for good reason.

The simplest answer for why "La La Land" will win is that it's a platonic Oscar movie. It checks the boxes that have made for best picture winners time and time again: It's a stylish musical (think "Chicago") that, thanks to its retro styling, takes us into the past ("Argo,""The King's Speech"), and pokes fun at Hollywood while also fundamentally flattering the town's idea of itself at its most artistically ambitious ("Argo,""Birdman,""The Artist").

That nostalgia and love of Hollywood from its own insiders seems especially potent these days, when people question the studios' current business model and reliance on franchises and sequels full of spectacle. Hollywood still wants to sell the best version of itself, and this year it'll do that by crowning "La La Land," an original, LA-set musical that's in love with movies of the past, cinematic strivers of today, and, some would argue, its own directorial flashiness.

If you were hoping the Oscars would get a little more real than that, expect to be disappointed.

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The unbelievable story of why Marlon Brando rejected his 1973 Oscar for 'The Godfather'

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newsweek cover marlon brando godfather

The man who made offers others couldn't refuse once refused the movie industry's heftiest honor.

On March 5, 1973, Marlon Brando declined the best actor Academy Award for his gut-wrenching performance as Vito Corleone in "The Godfather." He did so for a very unexpected reason.

In the 1960s, Brando's career had slid into decline. His previous two movies — the famously over-budget "One-Eyed Jacks" and "Mutiny on the Bounty"— tanked at the box office. Some critics said"Mutiny" marked the end of Hollywood's golden age, and worse still, rumors of Brando's unruly behavior on set turned him into one of the least desirable actors to work with in some ways.

Brando's career needed saving. "The Godfather" was his defibrillator.

In the epic portrayal of a 1940s New York Mafia family directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Brando plays the patriarch, the original Don. Though the film follows his son Michael (played by Al Pacino), Vito Corleone is its spine. A ruthless, violent criminal, he loves and protects the family by any means necessary. It's the warmth of his humanity that makes him indestructible — a paradox shaped by Brando's remarkable performance.

"The Godfather"grossed nearly $135 million nationwide, and is heralded as one of the greatest films of all time. Pinned against pinnacles of the silver screen Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, and Peter O'Toole — Brando was favored to win Best Actor.

On the eve of the 45th Academy Awards, Brando announced that he would boycott the ceremony and send little-known actress Sacheen Littlefeather in his place. She was president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee.

oscars 70s marlon brando native american

On the evening of March 5, when Liv Ullman and Roger Moore read out the name of the best actor award recipient, neither presenter parted their lips in a smile. Their gaze fell on a woman in Apache dress, whose long, dark hair bobbed against her shoulders as she climbed the stairs.

Moore extended the award to Littlefeather, who waved it away with an open palm. She set a letter down on the podium, introduced herself, and said:

"I'm representing Marlon Brando this evening and he has asked me to tell you ... that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry —"

The crowd booed. Littlefeather looked down and said "excuse me." Others in the audience began to clap, cheering her on. She continued only briefly, to "beg" that her appearance was not an intrusion and that they will "meet with love and generosity" in the future.

Watch the scene unfold:

Why he did it

In 1973, Native Americans had "virtually no representation in the film industry and were primarily used as extras," Native American studies scholar Dina Gilio-Whitaker wrote in a blog post on About.com. "Leading roles depicting Indians in several generations of Westerns were almost always given to white actors."

But they weren't just neglected or replaced in film; they were disrespected — a realization that hurt Brando's perception of the film industry.

Marlon BrandoThe following day, The New York Times printed the entirety of his statement— which Littlefeather was unable to read in full because of "time restraints." Brando expressed support for the American Indian Movement and referenced the ongoing situation at Wounded Knee, where a team of 200 Oglala Lakota activists had occupied a tiny South Dakota town the previous month and was currently under siege by US military forces. He wrote:

"The motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing him as savage, hostile, and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children ... see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know."

A tsunami of criticism toppled over Brando and Littlefeather following the Oscars, from peers in the industry and the media.

Still, Brando lent the Native American community a rare opportunity to raise awareness of their fight in front of 85 million viewers, leveraging an entertainment platform for political justice in unprecedented fashion. His controversial rejection of the award (which no winner has repeated since) remains one of the most powerful moments in Oscar history.

SEE ALSO: Here's who's most likely to win at the 2017 Oscars on Sunday night

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