We have invented our own Oscars contender to win Best Picture… The Wham! Men

Posted in NEWS with tags , , , on February 28, 2016 by Ross McG
(Picture: Myles Goode)

(Picture: Myles Goode)

It’s a question asked by countless film producers every year; how do I win an Oscar for Best Picture?

Eight films are in the running for the biggest accolade at the Academy Awards this Sunday, and each contender is very different.

Among the nominees for this year’s Best Picture are a film where a man is stuck on Mars (The Martian); a film where a woman is stuck in a room (Room); a film where a man is stuck in a permanent car chase (Mad Max: Fury Road); a film where a woman is stuck in Ireland (Brooklyn) and a film where a man is stuck inside a horse (The Revenant).

See? All very different.

But if you look through the Best Picture winners of the past 30 years – from Out of Africa to Birdman – patterns do emerge.

THIS POST FIRST APPEARED ON METRO.CO.UK

So we decided to dissect the information on those 30 previous winners and pinpoint what exactly makes a Best Picture.

The result is our own movie, complete with a title, a director, a cast, a setting, a genre and a running time, which we are hoping could go into pre-production immediately and make a tilt at the Academy Awards in 2018 – you read about it here first.

This is how we crunched the Oscar numbers to create our own Best Picture contender…

THE DATA

Here is what we’re working with; the list of the Best Picture winners released between 1985 and 2014 (this weekend’s Oscar contenders are 2015 releases). Let’s have a look at them in reverse chronological order:

1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

2. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

3. Argo (2012)

4. The Artist (2011)

5. The King’s Speech (2010)

6. The Hurt Locker (2009)

7. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

8. No Country for Old Men (2007)

9. The Departed (2006)

10. Crash (2005)

11. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

13. Chicago (2002)

14. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

15. Gladiator (2000)

16. American Beauty (1999)

17. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

18. Titanic (1997)

19. The English Patient (1996)

20. Braveheart (1995)

21. Forrest Gump (1994)

22. Schindler’s List (1993)

23. Unforgiven (1992)

24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

25. Dances with Wolves (1990)

26. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

27. Rain Man (1988)

28. The Last Emperor (1987)

29. Platoon (1986)

30. Out of Africa (1985)

Before you ask, we’re going to call last year’s Best Picture by its simple name Birdman – the film is the only Best Picture winner in Oscars history to have parenthesis in its title.

RUNNING TIME

To work out our movie’s length, we’re going to grab the average running time of the Best Pictures from the past 30 years. Can you guess which movies in that list help beef up that average?

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (201 mins)

2. Schindler’s List: (197 mins)

3. Titanic (195 mins)

4. Dances with Wolves (180 mins)

5. Braveheart (177 mins)

Only six of the 30 last Best Picture winners have a runtime under two hours. People hate on Driving Miss Daisy a lot – it’s often described as the worst Best Picture in history – but at least, at a mere 100 minutes, it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

So no matter what happens, our proposed movie is going to be over the two-hour mark. Make sure you go to the loo beforehand.

THE DIRECTOR

clint

John Ford has the most Best Director gongs in Oscars history with four, so he would be an obvious choice to helm our film, but he died in 1973. Dammit!

Of the more current crop of directors, it’s quite hard to narrow down a candidate – the past 21 winners of the Best Director Oscar have all been different, which is rather amazing.

There have been three double winners in the past 30 years – Oliver Stone, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. We’re going to have to hire one of them. But what we want is the director who has directed the most films that have also won Best Picture. And that’s Eastwood.

Because no one really knows what a director does, the Academy drools all over one particular type of director; the director who is also an actor.

Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson and Ben Affleck have all tasted success by combining the two roles.

THE CAST

Who do you think has starred in the most Best Picture winners recently? Clooney? Kidman? Day-Lewis? Streep?

Nope. Not even close. If we want our film to win Best Picture in 2018, we need to hire the guy who shares a first name with what you shout at your cat when you’re trying to usher it out of the kitchen.

We’re talking, of course, about Scoot McNairy, who broke through in Monsters and is soon to be seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a terrific actor who has the midas touch when it comes to recent Best Picture winners.

scoot

He was in Argo in 2012 and 12 Years A Slave in 2013, both Best Pictures, and was cruelly denied a hat-trick last year by Birdman… although it was unlikely that Liam Neeson actioner Non-Stop was going to whet the Academy’s appetite in 2014 – the only award it was nominated for was a Golden Trailer. It didn’t win.

So we have to have Scoot McNairy, even in a cameo, because he’s a good luck charm. And if we can’t get Scoot McNairy, we have to bag John Goodman.

Before Scoot McNairy came along, there was John Goodman. Like McNairy, Goodman was in Argo, but he was also in the previous year’s winner, The Artist.

But, however brilliant both McNairy and Goodman are, they’re not A-list. We need some star power for our Oscars contender.

We could go with Morgan Freeman, as he has starred in three Best Pictures; Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby and Driving Miss Daisy, but he might be too old for the central role that usually secures Oscar glory.

The great Guy Pearce also has form, appearing in both The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech. Tell the truth, you’d forgotten he was in The Hurt Locker, hadn’t you?

But to really increase our chances, we need to go British. And we’re not talking about Eddie Redmayne. He may have won Best Actor last year, but he’s yet to star in a Best Picture.

We need to go to two more established thesps; the company of Firth & Fiennes.

Colin Firth has been in three Best Picture winners; The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love and The King’s Speech.

firth

Ralph Fiennes starred in Schindler’s List, The English Patient and The Hurt Locker. Tell the truth, you’d forgotten he was in The Hurt Locker, hadn’t you?

Firth… Fiennes… that will roll off the tongue nicely when reading the poster.

Sadly, what we won’t be doing is making a film that is built around a female lead role. A female character hasn’t been at the heart of a Best Picture since Million Dollar Baby in 2004, although Chicago, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love and The Silence of the Lambs all had juicy roles for women.

Meryl Streep has been in three Best Pictures, but Out of Africa in 1985 was the most recent, although the Academy loves her.

In the past few years, the likes of Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara and Jessica Chastain have been battling for the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards, so we may need to cast one of them.

But the unfortunate truth is that Best Picture is a man’s world, and yes, before you ask and allude to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, it’s also a white man’s world.

THE GENRE

gump

When you cynically set out to make a Best Picture like we’re doing, you can’t just pick any old type of story.

What we can’t produce is a horror movie – only The Silence of the Lambs can be classed as such among the Best Picture winners of the past 30 years, unless you’re being particularly unkind to Forrest Gump.

Making our movie a musical is also out, as Chicago’s success at the 2003 ceremony was a one-off in the modern era.

People moan that comedies don’t win Best Picture and yet Birdman, Shakespeare in Love, Forrest Gump, The Artist and (unintentionally) The Departed all have laugh-out loud moments.

But in the end, we have to go with a drama. We can show a bit of adventure and a bit of laughter, but mainly we will be tugging at heartstrings.

THE SETTING

While Middle Earth worked as a backdrop for the Oscars-laden The Lord of  the Rings: The Return of the King, Academy voters usually like to keep it real.

Which is distinct from keeping things contemporary – it is rare for a modern story to sweep home the Best Picture Oscar – Birdman was something of an anomaly in more ways than one last year.

This means we need to set our movie in the past – it can be the recent past; look at Argo – but it has to be the past.

THE SUBJECT

rainman

Our hero – and yes, it is a hero not a heroine if we want to bag Best Picture – must overcome some kind of adversity. He must go from an underdog to a champion.

Argo is an underdog movie, as is Birdman in its own way, while The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Million Dollar Baby, The Return of the King, Gladiator, Titanic, Forrest Gump and Rain Man all feature a protagonist who battles against the odds and wins. Or drowns in icy waters after being selfishly excluded from a floating door that has PLENTY of room on it ROSE!!

THE HERO

And that hero can only have one name if we want to guarantee Oscar success. He has to be called… GEORGE.

Since 1985, there have been six actors nominated for Best Actor who played a character called George.

Peak George came between 2009 and 2011, when Firth (King George VI) and Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) both won awards for their Georges.

The year before winning for The King’s Speech, Firth had another George that lost out to Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart – George Falconer in A Single Man.

THE TITLE

beauty

Now we get to the hard part.

To win Best Picture, you need a catchy title, but you also need a certain type of title. First, the number of words is important.

Of the 30 previous winners, 10 have three words in their title, 9 have just one word and 7 manage with two.

In that case, let’s opt (narrowly) for three words. And one of those words is going to be a ‘The’, because it pops up in 8 Best Picture successes.

But what do we put in that title after THE?

Answer? As many ‘A’s as we can. Almost every Best Picture has loads of ‘A’s.

AmericAn BeAuty

12 yeArs A SlAve

RAin MAn

It’s all about bringing your A game.

In the early ’90s, all a producer had to do to win Best Picture was stick an animal in the title (Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs), but that pattern died as quickly as it started.

Getting the main character’s name in the title is usually helpful – see Shakespeare in Love, Forrest Gump, Schindler’s List, Driving Miss Daisy, The King’s Speech and the Return of the King.

Apparently, it also helps if your main character is a king.

We’ve said it already, but what really works is if your main character is a man, so why not get ‘man’ in the title, like Rain Man, Birdman or even No Country For Old Men.

 

THE REVEAL…

AND SO, AFTER CONSIDERING ALL OF THE ABOVE DATA, WE HAVE CREATED A MOVIE TO GO INTO PRODUCTION AND WIN THE BEST PICTURE OSCAR IN 2018.

AND HERE IT IS….

 

Pictures: REX / Credit: MylesGoode

Pictures: REX / Credit: MylesGoode

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(Image by Myles Goode)

The Wham! Men looks pretty awesome, right?

It has Colin Firth as George Michael; Ralph Fiennes as Andrew Ridgeley; John Goodman as Elton John; Scoot McNairy as Bob Geldof and Meryl Streep and Viola Davis as pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie.

It will be directed by Clint Eastwood and will have a running time of 139 minutes, which is the average length of a Best Picture winner for the past 30 years.

Let’s look at why we ended up deciding to produce a movie about Wham! – the best band of the 1980s.

a) It’s got three words, a ‘The’, an ‘A’ and some ‘men’ in its title.

b) Its lead character is a guy named George.

c) We had to have Firth and Fiennes in the lead roles – they have five Best Pictures between them.

d) We want to create some history of our own; no film with an exclamation mark in its title has ever won Best Picture.

e) It’s the story of two friends who make it to the top, only to go their separate ways not long after Live Aid.

f) It’s a story set in the relatively recent past.

g) It’s a real life story.

h) The Wham! Men will set us up perfectly for the sequel that follows George Michael’s solo career. We think we might just call that one… FAITH.

Leonardo DiCaprio and 10 other actors who should have an Oscar

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags , on February 27, 2016 by Ross McG

rev

‘And the Oscar goes to… Leonardo DiCaprio!’

You can expect to hear those words echo around the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood this Sunday, as, after years of waiting, Leo finally gets his hands on an Oscar.

DiCaprio is a hot favourite to pick up Best Actor for his performance in The Revenant, in which he writhes around in the mud a lot and gets a little too cuddly with a bear.

It’s somewhat strange that DiCaprio will (likely) win his Oscar for a role which requires him for long stretches to simply lie in a stretcher. All of his great previous performances, whether it’s proclaiming himself ‘king of the world’ in Titanic or snorting copious amounts of drugs in The Wolf of Wall Street, have been kinetic and dynamic. In The Revenant, he does most of his acting with his eyelids.

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON METRO.CO.UK

DiCaprio is set to be crowned after missing out on an acting Oscar on four previous occasions, for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street.

It’s looking like fifth time lucky for Leo, but until Sunday night at least, he’s not the only great actor out there who has yet to win an Oscar.

You won’t believe that none of this lot have been honoured by the Academy.

1. Tom Cruise

cruise

The current incarnation of The Cruiser is known for strapping himself to planes and scaling the world’s tallest buildings, but his action man tendencies hide some huge acting chops.

Cruise has come close to Oscar glory with three nominations, each telling its own story. You can’t argue with his performance in Born on the Fourth of July losing out to Daniel Day-Lewis’s in My Left Foot at the 1990 ceremony, but he really should have pipped Geoffrey Rush in the almost forgotten Shine with his brilliant meltdowns in 1996’s Jerry Maguire.

And don’t get me started on Cruise losing out on Best Supporting Actor in 2000 after his amazing work in Magnolia (‘RESPECT THE COCK’) was pipped by Michael Caine’s awful New England accent in sentimental tosh The Cider House Rules.

2. Keira Knightley

keira

I don’t get the backlash against Knightley and I never will. ‘Oh, she’s always in period dramas!’ her detractors cry, a bit like shouting ‘Oh, you’re always cutting inside from the wing and shooting!’ at Cristiano Ronaldo.

In the early part of her career, Knightley was great in costume dramas – so what if she played to her strengths?

She’s been nominated twice for Oscars – for Best Supporting Actress last year in The Imitation Game (sorry, Cumberbatchers, she was the best thing in it) and for her wonderful turn as Lizzy Bennett in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice.

But it’s her work in The Duchess, Begin Again and the astounding – and astoundingly overlooked – Never Let Me Go that stands out. She’ll get her Oscar soon.

3. Harrison Ford

ford

How do you get nominated for an Oscar when the world knows you as not one but two movie icons; Indiana Jones and Han Solo?

Well, Harrison Ford managed it with what is probably the best performance of his career – as John Book, the cop among the Amish in Witness (1985). At that point in his career, Ford thought he was done with Solo and wanted to pursue more challenging roles.

This saw a terrific run of late ’80s movies that saw him in The Mosquito Coast, Frantic and Working Girl. He was also terrific in Air Force One and Patriot Games, but political action movies don’t really attract Oscar attention.

In an ideal world, the Oscars would ditch their stuffiness and reward performances that change the course of film history. Ford could have been nominated for his turns in both Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade, mainly because he just WAS Indiana Jones.

4. Winona Ryder

ryder

Ryder has a Golden Globe, but – PAH! – who wants one of those? If Hollywood stars keep their Oscar statuettes in their bathrooms, you can guess where they flush their Golden Globes.

Nominated at the Academy Awards in 1994 for Best Supporting Actress (The Age of Innocence) and Best Actress (Little Women) the following year, Ryder probably should have had nods for Edward Scissorhands, The Crucible, Heathers and Black Swan.

But not Alien: Resurrection though, no way.

5. Samuel L Jackson

jackson

When he’s not SHOUTING REALLY LOUDLY, Samuel L Jackson is a damn fine actor. HELL, HE’S A DAMN FINE ACTOR WHEN HE’S SHOUTING TOO!

Cruelly overlooked in his one Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for Pulp Fiction, Jackson could easily have been nominated for more of his collaborations with Quentin Tarantino. He was sensational in Jackie Brown and absolutely magnetic amid the bloodbath in this year’s The Hateful Eight.

It would be worth giving him an Oscar just to hear his speech.

6. Jessica Chastain

FILM_REVIEW-ZERO_DARK_THIRTY_CAPH692-2012NOV30_195623_827.jpg-AY_98909035.jpg

Jessica plays it cool until her Oscar arrives (Picture: Columbia)

There was a period between 2011 and 2012 in which Jessica Chastain was in every film ever made, which was understandable given she was the best new actress on the block.

Nominated twice for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty, her name in a cast list is always a mark of quality.

Even her non-Oscar chasing stuff excites – check out gripping horror Mama.

7. John Malkovich

malkovich

He was in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is perhaps the only reason the Academy haven’t given John Malkovich his Oscar.

Two nominations is unworthy of an actor of his talent. He wasn’t even shortlisted for his stunning work in Dangerous Liaisons (1988), a crime in itself, but not to be nominated for his role as himself and various versions of himself in the bonkers Being John Malkovich (1999) was nothing short of a travesty.

If I had my way, he would also have been recognised with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his sterling work as Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom in Con Air, but I can sort of understand why the Academy chose to overlook it.

8. Glenn Close

close

Malkovich’s co-star in Dangerous Liaisons did receive a nomination for Best Actress, but was unlucky to come against Jodie Foster in The Accused.

That is just one of six nominations which have failed to materialise into a statuette for Close, so quit your whining, Leo.

When nominated for her bunny-boiling in Fatal Attraction a year before Dangerous Liaisons, she lost out to Cher, back in a time when Cher was a serious actress – and a good one.

9. Brian Cox

cox

Not only has Brian Cox never won an Oscar, he’s never even been nominated for one, remarkable when you consider he is in every film released between 1994 and 2015.

But just because he’s prolific doesn’t mean he’s not fantastic.

Cox’s brilliance stretches all the way back to 1986 and Manhunter, in which he played the original Hannibal ‘Lecktor’, and runs right up to 2008 prison drama The Escapist, which gives him a rare and deserved starring role.

With his output of two films per week, he’s bound to bag an Oscar soon.

10. Amy Adams

adams

Leo is also out-nommed by Amy Adams, quickly turning into the Meryl Streep of her generation. Unlike Meryl, however, Adams doesn’t have an Oscar.

What’s often forgotten about Streep is that despite winning two Oscars from her first four nominations, for Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice, she then went on a 12-nod losing streak that was finally broken by 2012’s The Iron Lady. Three wins from 19 nominations isn’t that great a haul, bizarrely.

Anyway, that’s what could be ahead of Adams if she keeps up her success rate, following nominations for Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, The Master and American Hustle.

It’s surely only a matter of time before she’s taking home an Oscar statuette.

What if The Goonies had Twitter

Posted in NEWS with tags , on May 21, 2015 by Ross McG

goonies

Here’s a piece I did over on Metro.co.uk this week, exploring what might have had happened if the members of The Goonies had access to smartphones and Twitter when they were hunting One-Eyed Willy’s treasure and fending off the Fratellis.

You can read the post by clicking HERE.

Or you can go directly to the Twitter timeline of the entire plot of The Goonies by clicking HERE.

Big thanks to Sean Astin (Mikey), Jeff Cohen (Chunk) and Corey Feldman (Mouth) who already tweeted links to the article.

It’s the 30th anniversary of The Goonies in a few weeks.

GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE

The best and worst Bond villains from 23 movies

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags on December 5, 2014 by Ross McG

blofeld

We got some new Bond villains this week. Details of the next Bond movie – Bond 24 – were officially announced.

The film, which will hit cinemas next year, is called Spectre and will feature Daniel Craig as James Bond for the fourth time.

He will be joined by new cast members Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser; Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra; Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann; Dave Bautista as Mr Hinx and Andrew Scott as Denbigh.

Waltz’s character is rumoured to be something of a ruse: he is expected to be the next Blofeld in Spectre.

Getting Bond villains right is a tricky science. If one element is just slightly out of place, you end up with a turkey – but get it right and you have Bond gold.

Here is the list of the worst and best Bond villains across the 23 movies in the series so far. Let’s start with the worst…

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David Fincher’s movies ranked from 1 to 9

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags on October 1, 2014 by Ross McG

Fight Club (1999) Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Screengrab)

David Fincher’s new film, Gone Girl, an adaptation of the bestseller by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the script for the movie, is out this week.

In a few years, it will be interesting to see where Gone Girl sits in Fincher’s body of work. Because in his case, it takes a few years and plenty of sittings to digest his films.

Some of them – most notably Fight Club – have been famously written off on release, only for critics to change their minds further down the watching road.

Film critics, eh? They haven’t a bloody clue.

Bloody clues are what Fincher’s movies are all about, and Gone Girl is no different. But what is the director’s best work to date? Begin the countdown.

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Jaws, The Monkees and Happy Gilmore: Richard Kiel’s best movie moments

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags on September 11, 2014 by Ross McG

jawsrichardkiel

Richard Kiel, best known as the Bond villain Jaws, had died at the age of 74.

He will be remembered chiefly for sinking those steel teeth into anything that got in his way in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, giving Roger Moore’s 007 plenty to chew on.

Kiel made the most of his fame after his two James Bond adventures, riffing on his role as Jaws in a series of movies that followed.

Before Bond, he appeared in a number of US TV shows, including The Twilight Zone, Starsky & Hutch, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Lassie.

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Spared no expense… Richard Attenborough’s best bits from Jurassic Park

Posted in TOP FIVES with tags , on August 26, 2014 by Ross McG

attenborough

Sadly, Sir Richard Attenborough is no longer with us.

Moviegoers of various ages will have different memories of ‘Dickie’, both of his work behind the camera on films like Oh! What a Lovely War, Gandhi, Cry Freedom, Chaplin and Shadowlands, and his performances in front of it in Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place and Miracle on 34th Street.

But for many film fans, Attenborough will always be John Hammond, the man who brought dinosaurs back to life in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jurassic Park.

In Michael Crichton’s novel, Hammond is a bit of a nasty piece of work, whose main incentive from recreating dinos is to make a bit of cash. He also meets a bit of a sticky end. But in the movie, because he is played by loveable Attenborough, Hammond is more of a misguided figure, albeit one still obsessed with money (‘Spared no expense!’).

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From Mork to Peter Pan to Genie: The many funny faces of Robin Williams

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 12, 2014 by Ross McD

mrsdoubtfire

The world has been left stunned by the news that Robin Williams has died in an apparent suicide at the age of 63.

Although he was best known as a comedic actor, he took on a huge variation of roles during a career that lasted more than four decades, attracting three Academy Award nominations for best actor and winning one for best supporting actor, as well as bagging two Emmys, four Golden Globes and five Grammys.

Here are just some of his career highlights.

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