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Caryn James

The Improved Oscar Show with Ellen, Lupita, Jared & Adele Dazeem

  • By Caryn James
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  • March 3, 2014 1:39 PM
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  • 4 Comments
I did not have great hopes for the Oscar show going in -- I'm not even an Ellen fan -- but you cannot hate anything that has Brad Pitt passing around pizza and John Travolta creating an entirely new name for the person he was introducing (Adele Dazeem, a star is born).

'Her' In, Redford Out: Best and Worst of the Oscar Nominations

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 16, 2014 2:06 PM
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  • 7 Comments
Let's start by stipulating that the Oscars have little or nothing to do with art or even how good a film is. Like any political contest, movie awards are about money and campaigning and popularity and image -- so if a good idea or vision sneaks in, what luck!

BEST FILMS OF 2013

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 20, 2013 12:35 AM
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  • 6 Comments
I am absolutely certain about the top three films on this list. But the further down we go, the more absurd it seems to rank films as different as the Coen Brothers' wonderfully layered look at a struggling folk singer in the 60's and Martin Scorsese's bacchanalia of 80's excess.

Christian Bale in the Brutal, Steel-Town Drama 'Out Of The Furnace'

  • By Caryn James
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  • December 4, 2013 8:59 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In Steve McQueen's artful 12 Years a Slave and Peter Berg's fraught Lone Survivor (opening soon), the violence is difficult to sit through, but worth it for those films' serious drama and wrenching realism. Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace doesn't come close to justifying its extreme brutality. This story of two brothers -- Christian Bale and Casey Affleck -- pushed to violence in a Pennsylvania steel town is so overwrought that their problems seem orchestrated by Screenwriting 101 rather than fate.

Chiwetel Ejiofor As a 1930's Jazz Musician in the New Miniseries 'Dancing on the Edge'

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 19, 2013 9:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
There are many reasons 12 Years a Slave is so eloquent and powerful, from Steve McQueen's fluid direction to John Ridley's first-rate screenplay and the cast of actors unafraid to play some of the worst and most heroic elements of character -- but at its heart, the film rests on Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance as a free man turned slave, whose strength, outrage and resilience never begs for the audience's easy sympathy. Anyone who has followed his career knows that performance is no fluke. In earlier films, he has often been the very good center holding a mediocre work in place (Kinky Boots, Dirty Pretty Things).

Top Films to Watch For From the 51st New York Film Festival

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 13, 2013 12:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The New York Film Festival, which ends today, was an especially rich edition. Almost every film, in the main slate and the sidebars, was tempting. And while the festival was heavy with mainstream directors, the choices were anything but kneejerk. Some of the most familiar names took exhilarating new turns.

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