News Round-up – Oscar nominations, Star Wars gets a title, The Flash and more

It has been a busy week in the world of movies as we continue to move towards the biggest date in the movie calendar – the Oscars. Awards season momentum continues to be fully behind Best Picture frontrunner La La Land, which this year etched its name in the record books with a remarkable haul of nominations.

Elsewhere, perhaps the biggest franchise in Hollywood revealed a big detail for its highly anticipated next film and there was yet another spanner in the works for the DC Extended Universe as it continues to tentatively grow in an attempt to rival the box office behemoth of Marvel. We also said goodbye to a true icon of cinema as John Hurt sadly passed away.

Here’s your movie news round-up…


La La Land dominates noms for Oscars 2017

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling show off their moves in La La Land
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling show off their moves in La La Land

This week marked one of the biggest moments of awards season as the Academy unveiled its nominations for the Oscars 2017. La La Land swept the board, securing 14 nominations, equalling the all-time record set by All About Eve and Titanic. It will face a stern challenge on the night from the likes of Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea but, at the moment, all signs point to Damien Chazelle‘s musical. Elsewhere on the list of nominations, the big news was Amy Adams‘ Best Actress snub for Arrival, despite the film securing eight noms in other categories.

At the other end of the quality spectrum, the Razzie Awards revealed their tongue in cheek shortlist for the worst films and performances of the year. Dismal comedy sequel Zoolander 2 was a major player, alongside DC superhero misfires Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. As is the norm for the Razzies, they have chosen to go for popular, but mediocre movies rather than taking on the genuinely awful cinematic turkeys of the year.


Star Wars: Episode VIII gets teaser of a title

Poster art for eighth Star Wars film The Last Jedi
Poster art for eighth Star Wars film The Last Jedi

Speculation has been swirling around the eighth episode of the Star Wars saga since we got that memorable glimpse of Mark Hamill at the end of The Force Awakens. This week, the official Twitter account for the Disney franchise revealed that the new film, directed by Looper‘s Rian Johnson will be called The Last Jedi.

It’s an interesting and ambiguous title, particularly given the fact that the word ‘Jedi’ can be either singular or plural. Questions have been raised as to whether the title refers solely to Luke Skywalker, or whether there may be others in the galaxy, perhaps including Daisy Ridley‘s Rey. Either way, the title alone has been enough to encourage considerable excitement online. Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be in cinemas in December 2017.


Bay’s company to tackle Trump in dystopian film

Michael Bay on the set of Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Michael Bay on the set of Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Photo: niXerKG)

It looks like producer Michael Bay may have the new President of the United States in his crosshairs. Transformers director Bay and his Platinum Dunes company are attached to Little America, which is a futuristic sci-fi movie set in a future where a POTUS eerily and chillingly similar to Donald Trump has bankrupted America. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal has emerged victorious from a bidding war for the film, written on spec by Brit filmmaker Rowan Athale.

The script, described as “sci-fun” rather than something lofty and serious, sounds like it could make for an entertaining take on the Trump era. We are likely to get a lot of similar movies over the course of the next four years, but Platinum Dunes may well be first out of the gate. They have misfired in previous satirical endeavours like the Purge franchise but, given that Trump is a uniquely interesting target, this one is worth being excited about.


Tremblay joins new Predator movie

Jacob Tremblay arrives at the Oscars in February 2016
Jacob Tremblay arrives at the Oscars in February 2016 (Photo: Disney/ABC)

Jacob Tremblay was the breakout star of Room and, if there had been any justice, he would have emerged from that film’s success with a well-deserved Oscar nomination. His next project was announced this week by an article in The Hollywood Reporter, which said that Tremblay has signed on the dotted line to play the son of Boyd Holbrook’s central character in the upcoming reboot of Predator. The return to the famous sci-fi franchise, to be written and directed by Shane Black, is shaping up to be quite exciting.

Tremblay is a great young actor and a big franchise role like this will be the best way for him to keep himself in the public eye, rather than fading away in the way that many child stars do. With Black at the helm, this looks set to be a reverent, fun return to the Predator franchise and one that could definitely kick-start a lengthy run of movies. The Predator is currently set for a March 2018 release.


The Flash due a speedy rewrite

Ezra Miller as Flash in the Justice League Comic-Con trailer
Ezra Miller as Flash in the Justice League Comic-Con trailer

The DC Extended Universe has been rather chaotic, to say the least, since they first decided to ape the Marvel model of constructing a shared franchise around their superhero characters. None of their films have been as messy as The Flash, which is currently in a state of flux having lost two directors. The Hollywood Reporter wrote this week that the film has hit another stumbling block and will now be subject to a full rewrite by Joby Harold, who wrote the upcoming King Arthur movie.

DC desperately needs a big critical success in order to keep its superhero universe going as bad word of mouth will eventually poison the box office receipts for its films, which have thus far been healthy. It looks like there is real trouble in paradise over at DC and this will only have Kevin Feige and his Marvel chums sniggering into their morning cornflakes. The Flash is still currently slated for a 2018 release.


New Netflix film from Green Room director

Director Jeremy Saulnier discusses Green Room at Fantastic Fest in 2015
Director Jeremy Saulnier discusses Green Room at Fantastic Fest in 2015 (Photo: Anna Hanks)

Jeremy Saulnier‘s last two films – Blue Ruin and Green Room – have been intense ruminations on the consequences of violence. With that in mind, it’s very exciting that he is lining up a new project. The Calgary Herald reported this week that Saulnier is shortly set to begin shooting violent thriller Hold the Dark for Netflix in the early part of this year. The film, adapted from a bestselling novel, sees a nature writer hired to track down a pack of wolves blamed for killing several children.

Hold the Dark sounds like another violent project for Saulnier and will once again allow him to provide his unique perspective on cinematic bloodletting. The involvement of Netflix, as well, should ensure that Saulnier gets plenty of creative freedom to tell the story in the way that he wants. It’s certainly a film that is well worth keeping an eye on as the production process continues.


Cinema legend John Hurt dies, aged 77

Acting legend John Hurt, pictured in 2011
Acting legend John Hurt, pictured in 2011 (Photo: The Edge Foundation)

There’s some sad news to report this week, as we received news on Saturday that Oscar-nominated actor John Hurt had passed away at the age of 77. Hurt is best known for his transformative performance in The Elephant Man and for being the victim of the infamous ‘chestburster’ scene in Alien. In more recent years, he popped up as the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who and played a priest in a small, but significant role, in Oscar-nominated biopic Jackie.

Hurt’s loss is a very sad one as he is one of Britain’s most beloved film actors. For fans of my generation, he’s arguably best known as wandmaker Ollivander in the Harry Potter franchise and this was reflected by a touching fan tribute at the Potter-themed park in Florida. Whatever your experience of John Hurt, there’s no doubt that he was a fantastic actor and an icon of both stage and screen.


What do you think of the Oscar nominations? Who was missed out? What do you think the new Star Wars title means? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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