Box Office, Awards, Festivals and More


March, the month with no nationally-recognized holidays except maybe St. Patrick's Day—which may not even count--continues with two very different movies, each trying to find polar opposite audiences while also trying to get business away from the strong returning movies that opened over the past few weeks.

This week's movies are the DreamWorks movie based on EA Games' Need for Speed (DreamWorks), starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, rapper Kid Cudi and Michael Keaton, and the latest from Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club (Lionsgate).

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Beth B's documentary Exposed about the New York City burlesque scene that's exploded in popularity in recent years.

Tonight we were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek at a startling new art exhibit in the SOHO district of New York City titled "Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood," curated by none other than director Darren Aronofsky. The Black Swan helmer is releasing his own vision of the Biblical hero Noah, starring Russell Crowe, but this exhibit has only a tenuous connection to the film itself, serving as more of an installation exploring our collective imagination of the story.

The pieces ranged from highly abstract to illustrative, with a large number of the artists culled from the comic book world: Jim Lee, Jim Woodring, James Jean, Peter Kuper, Jock. Even '90s fan fav Rob Liefeld contributed a piece that looks more suited to the cover of the premiere issue of "Noah's Action Rangers" than the MOMA.

Normally, the overused cliché is that March enters like a lamb and leaves like a lion—or at least I think that's how the saying goes—but that isn't the case this year as we're getting two fairly big studio releases right out of the gate, which will try to keep moviegoers coming back to theaters after a few slower weeks where it took Liam Neeson and the story of Jesus to tear them away from The LEGO Movie.

Almost seven years to the date that Zack Snyder blew people away with what could be done when adapting a graphic novel to the screen with Frank Miller's 300, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are finally going back to that well with 300: Rise of an Empire (Legendary/WB), a combination prequel and sequel to that blockbuster hit which opened with $71 million on its way to $454 million worldwide.

After having one of their first true bombs with last summer's Turbo, DreamWorks Animation returns with the delayed CG version of the ‘50s and ‘60s cartoon Mr. Peabody & Sherman (DreamWorks Animation/Fox), this one directed by The Lion King's Rob Minkoff as they try to revive a classic cartoon character for modern families.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is the latest from Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight), starring Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and lots more. has not attended the SXSW Film Festival every year, but this will be our second year in a row at the Austin, Texas-based festival that grew from out of the long-running annual music festival.

Unlike Sundance and Toronto, SXSW is not necessarily all about the big stars and you'll find that a lot of the better indie films feature complete unknowns or actors who aren't normally known for big studio movies. This year, we've picked thirty movies that are premiering at SXSW, some of them in competition, some studio movies being sneak previewed before their official theatrical releases, and we've also included a few movies that premiered at Sundance and Berlin that we missed out in earlier previews, because they fell below our radar.

It's the day after Oscar night, the biggest night of the year for the film industry. While most of the overworked Oscar bloggers are already disregarding any sort of celebration for the winners and moving onto heralding the 2014 movies that might receive nominations or accolades in a year--they're a fickle bunch, for sure--the Oscar Warrior prefers to look back at last night's winners and make note of how while there were very few real surprises, a few of the winners will surely mess with how we predict the Oscars in the future.

See, that's the thing about the Oscar prediction "business"--because it is a business now or else why would every single website and television news channel offer up their own predictions? In the past there was always historical data that can be used to back up the predictions. It wasn't just about seeing a movie and saying "that's the best performance" and a lot of time predictions are made based on other factors--early buzz, promotional marketing, etc. As I mentioned before, a lot of full-time Oscar bloggers are already looking at movies coming out later this year to see if they can be the first to predict a breakout. (Put it this way, few people in this business knew about The King's Speech or Argo or The Artist or even 12 Years a Slave a year before they won Best Picture.)

Well, that's a wrap on February as this snowbound year flies by quicker than usual, and after a couple weak weekends, there's still hope the winter/spring season can be saved by a couple more big hits along the lines of The LEGO Movie, Ride Along and Lone Survivor.

Universal Pictures is certainly going to give it a go for their third hit of the year with the action-thriller Non-Stop, which reunites actor Liam Neeson with director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unkonwn).

And in some of the oddest counter-programming we've seen so far this year, 20th Century Fox are releasing Son of God (20th Century Fox), a feature film apparently culled from footage from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's hit History Channel mini-series "The Bible" focusing on the story of Jesus.

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Ritesh Batra's wonderful Mumbai-based film The Lunchbox (Sony Pictures Classics), starring Irrfan Khan.

If you were to tell film snobs the only new movies in wide release this weekend were directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and McG, you'd probably receive cries of indignation about the lack of quality movies in February. That be as it may, they've directed two movies that may not make a lot of waves in what's likely to be a down weekend but could still bring in a little business with not a lot of other action choices other than the Robocop remake, which has received mixed reactions. Either way, it doesn't look like anything is going to dethrone The LEGO Movie this weekend as it becomes the second movie of the year to remain on top of the box office for three weeks in a row!

This week's "CHOSEN ONE" is Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's latest (and the animated master's last) film The Wind Rises (Touchstone Pictures), although we recommend seeking out the subtitled version rather than this star-studded dubbed American version.

Toy Fair 2014 kicked off on Sunday, February 16, taking over the entirety of New York City's Javits Center for four days of toys, games, more toys, more games and lots of cool collectible action figures and models. We've posted most of our pictures already, but for those who don't feel like perusing through the nearly 1,000 pictures, we've selected a couple of the cooler things we saw while walking the convention floor.
After having an early morning breakfast at the LEGO booth to peruse their new product lines, we ended up roaming the various halls of the Javits Center for hours trying to find the coolest movie and TV-related toys and games at Toy Fair 2014. attended the Ziegfeld Theatre's special two-day retrospective showing the collaborations between director Martin Scorsese and actor Leonardo DiCaprio with the highlight being a Thursday night panel with the duo, plus editor Thelma Schoonmaker and screenwriter Terence Winter, talking about their latest film The Wolf of Wall Street.

Hopefully you read Part 1 of my report on going to Berlin, Germany to attend the premiere of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, which was opening the 64th Annual Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale). Part 1 mainly covered my experiences with that junket, but I did get to see a bunch of other movies and here are some further thoughts on Berlinale and the movies I saw, which included Fruit Chan's The Midnight After, George Clooney's The Monuments Men, Yann Demange's exceptional '71 starring Jack O'Connell, and Kumiko the Treasure Hunter starring Rinko Kikuchi.

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