Oscars news: The history of ‘Selma,’ Anna Kendrick goes ‘Into the Woods’

As Jeff Labreque reflects, “Selma‘ examines one of the most tense and pivotal moments in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and the civil rights movement: the proposed march from Selma, Ala., to the state capitol of Montgomery to protest the systematic disenfranchisement and intimidation of African-Americans in the South … Director Ava DuVernay focused her film on King and the men and women who literally risked their lives by walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were greeted by state troopers who viciously bludgeoned them while TV cameras captured it all. In an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette about the film and the actual history, men like Andrew Young and John Lewis who were there, as well as the cast and crew, discuss the importance of bringing a film about Selma and King to the screen in 2014.” EW

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

For Sasha Stone, “this year’s Best Picture race is wide open except for the film right at the top of the list and that continues to be Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood.’ How the Best Picture race is shaped is going to depend on which Oscar race they want to embrace. Is it the one where they pick daring, exciting films that push the envelope, like ‘Birdman,’ ‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Nightcrawler‘? Or are they going heroic straight down the line, with ‘Selma,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘The Theory of Everything‘ or ‘Unbroken‘? Will it be a little bit of both? We don’t now the answer to that yet – not even close.” Awards Daily

Matt Mueller wonders, “Is there a harder-working pair of vocal chords in movies these days than Anna Kendrick‘s? ‘Into the Woods,’ Disney’s screen version of the fairy tale-splicing Stephen Sondheim musical featuring Kendrick as Cinderella opposite Meryl Streep’s Witch, James Corden’s Baker and Chris Pine’s Prince Charming, opened on Christmas Day and is already a hit. And Radius-TWC will release ‘The Last Five Years,’ Richard LaGravenese’s adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s off-Broadway musical chronicling the relationship between a struggling actress (Kendrick) and her novelist boyfriend (Jeremy Jordan), in February. After that, Kendrick will be seen reprising her role as a cappella group leader Beca in a sequel to Universal’s 2012 comedy sleeper ‘Pitch Perfect,’ thanks to the hefty DVD sales and platinum-selling soundtrack which boosted that film’s relatively modest $113 million worldwide gross.” Thompson on Hollywood

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Jordan Zakarin delves into the filming of the final scene of “Unbroken” and reports: “It’s a triumphant moment in the movie, one that’s captured in the film’s poster. But filming the scene was anything but uplifting. ‘If I was feeling good at any point, I wasn’t where I needed to be,’ Jack O’Connell told Yahoo Movies. ‘I fainted twice underneath the plank. I blacked out.’ Of course, it’s easy to understand why O’Connell might crumple from the stress and strain of the plank scene: Not only was the moment shot during a brutally hot spell in Australia, but O’Connell, who’d lost a drastic amount of weight for Unbroken, opted not to have a stunt man help execute his most physical tasks.” Yahoo! Movies

And Ariston Anderson writes in the introduction to a fascinating interview, “Few films in recent times have been as risky as Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood,’ a coming-of-age story shot over 12 years, whose characters grow and change as its actors do in real life. At the center of it all is Ellar Coltrane, who signed up for the role at only six years of age, and followed through for 12 years. He had no idea what the final project would look like, nor could he have anticipated the reactions the film has received.” THR

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