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Reviews are coming in for some early Oscar contenders

Time to get excited for Birdman.

WITH BOTH VENICE Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival under way, critics and audiences alike have gotten an early glimpse at some of next year’s Oscar contenders including Birdman, Wild, The Imitation Game and Rosewater.

So, what’s the verdict? Let’s take a look.


Fresh Movie Trailers / YouTube

This sort-of-superhero film premiered at Venice Film Festival alike and has racked up significant plaudits. Variety described it as “a triumph on every creative level” and “the most fascinating meta-deconstruction of an actor’s ego since Being John Malkovich.

The Hollywood Reporter noted that Michael Keaton “soars perhaps higher than ever” in his performance as a once-famous actor struggling to mount a play and stage a comeback.

The Playlist were particularly effusive, calling it “borderline miraculous” and “as thoughtful and smart as it is infectiously absurd”.

Excited? It hits our screens on January 2nd 2015.


MOVIES Coming Soon / YouTube

Marking Jon Stewart’s filmmaking debut, this film is based on the true story of Maziar Bahari, an Iranian journalist who was imprisoned after he appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The film premiered at Telluride and has earned positive, if slightly tepid reviews. Indiewire stated that while it may be “lacking in sophistication…its attitude is infectious” and likened it to a rousing episode of The Daily Show without the jokes.

Variety called it a “confident, superbly acted debut,” while HitFix stated that it was “somewhat bumpy” but praised it for being “surprisingly effective” where necessary.

Verdict? You may not see it at the Oscars, but it likely won’t be Jon Stewart’s last time at the rodeo.


MOVIECLIPS Trailers / YouTube

An adaptation of the bestselling memoir and starring Reese Witherspoon, Wild tells the story of a young woman who embarks on a hike through the Pacific Crest Trail. There’s self-discovery, grit, etc. In other words, it has Oscar bait written all over it.

So, will Reese Witherspoon be adding another Oscar to her collection?

The Hollywood Reporter called the film “alternately harrowing and heartbreaking” and singled out Witherspoon’s performance as “strong”. HitFix described it as “clearly her most transformative work to date.”

Indiewire, on the other hand, stated that while her performance is good, “the predictions of the ‘Reese-surgence’ have already been overstated”.


The Imitation Game


Telling the story of Alan Turing, a mathematician and WW2 codebreaker, The Imitation Game screened at Telluride over the weekend and won its star Benedict Cumberbatch some warm notices.

Variety calls his performance “masterful,” while conceding that the rest of the film is “accomplished (but not particularly distinctive)”. Hitfix remarked that the film “fails to do Turing’s life justice,” while The Playlist was more generous in describing it as “a well-crafted suspense drama and uplifting tale of perseverance”.

Deadline writes that the thrust of the film is Cumberbatch and that he should be considered a legit contender for a Best Actor nod.

That sound you hear? Millions of Cumberbitches freaking out.

Other buzz…

Hilary Swank solidified her status as an Oscar hopeful for her performance in Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman, while Foxcatcher was warmly received.

Meanwhile, reviews for Al Pacino’s new one, Manglehorn, have been decidedly mixed.

14 early Oscar contenders you should get excited about >

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