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Cinema Chat: Oscar Preview, 'Mustang,' 'The Amazing Nina Simone,' 'Eddie The Eagle,' And More

Michigan Theater
Wikipedia Media Commons

The 88th Annual Academy Awardswill take place this weekend!  In this week's "Cinema Chat," Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins and WEMU's David Fair preview the Oscars and talk about all the new movies opening this weekend.

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda in Talks for ‘Mary Poppins’ Sequel

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is in talks to co-star with Emily Blunt in Disney’s “MaryPoppins” sequel.  Miranda is in talks to play Jack, a lamplighter resembling the character of Bert, who was famously played by Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 classic.  John DeLuca and Marc Platt will serve as producers on the pic with “Into the Woods” helmerRob Marshall directing the film.  Marshall will also produce.  Insiders confirm the new film will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written and 20 years after the first film was set) and will take story lines from P.L. Travers’ books focusing on Poppins’ continued adventures with the Banks family.

Las Vegas Odds for Academy Awards


"The Revenant"1.50          

"Spotlight" 3.50    

"The Big Short" 7.00

"Mad Max: Fury Road" 41.00          


"The Martian" 101.00

"Brooklyn" 201.00               

"Bridge of Spies" 201.00   


Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - "The Revenant" 1.10

George Miller - "Mad Max: Fury Road" 8.00             

Adam McKay - "The Big Short" 21.00

Thomas McCarthy - "Spotlight" 21.00          

Lenny Abrahamson - "Room" 67.00     


Leonardo DiCaprio - "The Revenant" 1.01 

Eddie Redmayne - "The Danish Girl" 21.00

Michael Fassbender - "Steve Jobs" 34.00

Bryan Cranston - "Trumbo" 81.00 

Matt Damon - "The Martian" 81.00


Brie Larson - "Room" 1.04

Saoirse Ronan- "Brooklyn" 13.00  

Jennifer Lawrence - "Joy" 41.00

Cate Blanchett - "Carol" 41.00        

Charlotte Rampling - "45 Years" 51.00        


Sylvester Stallone - "Creed" 1.28   

Mark Rylance - "Bridge Of Spies" 3.50         

Tom Hardy - "The Revenant" 17.00

Christian Bale - "The Big Short" 21.00          

Mark Ruffalo - 'Spotlight" 41.00    


Alicia Vikander - "The Danish Girl" 1.50      

Kate Winslet - "Steve Jobs" 4.33    

Rooney Mara - "Carol" 4.50

Jennifer Jason Leigh- "The Hateful Eight" 26.00

Rachel McAdams - "Spotlight" 101.00    


"Inside Out" 1.01 


"Shaun The Sheep Movie" 21.00

"Boy And The World" 51.00  

"When Marnie Was There" 51.00 


"Son Of Saul" 1.08               

"Mustang" 7.00    

"Embrace Of The Serpent" 21.00

"A War" 26.00       

"Theeb" 34.00


"Amy" 1.14             

"Cartel Land" 4.50               

"The Look Of Silence" 11.00

"Winter On Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom" 34.00

"What Happened, Miss Simone?" 41.00 

Oscars 2016: Boycott vindicated says Spike Lee

Spike Leehas said his decision not to attend the Oscars has been vindicated by the response from organizers.  The Academy Awards pledged to diversify its membership after complaints about the lack of ethnic diversity among this year's nominees.  The director said: "If a ruckus had not been raised, I believe the Academy would not have made those changes."  All 20 actors nominated this year for a best actor or supporting actor award are white.  

In January, Lee - together with Will Smith and his wife JadaPinkett-Smith - publicly said they would not attend the ceremony in protest.  Their comments prompted a number of high-profile Hollywood figures to join the debate and a social media campaign "Oscars So White" was launched.  

In response, the Academy - which hands out the Oscar honors - announced it would double the number of women and ethnic minority members by 2020.  Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said: "The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.  "These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."  Actor DonCheadle called the measures "a step in the right direction" while nominee Matt Damon added the industry had "a long, long, long way to go."

Discussing the controversy at the Berlin International Film Festival, Spike Lee said: "It was worth it.  A week later they changed everything up."  "That would not have happened if people kept quiet." 

Young African-American Actor Ryan Coogler told Sylvester Stallone not to boycott the Oscars

Sylvester Stallone was unsure about attending the Oscars this year out of respect for "Creed" director Ryan Coogler and his co-star Michael B. Jordan.  Despite earning a supporting actor nod and a Golden Globe Award for his reprisal of legendary fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, Stallone considered sitting out the ceremony in solidarity with those partaking in the #OscarsSoWhite-fueled boycott.  But a conversation with Coogler changed his mind.

"I said, 'If you don't want me to go, I won't.'  He said, 'I want you to go.'  That's the kind of guy he is.  He wanted me to stand up for the film," the three-time nominee said at the Oscars nominees’ luncheon on Monday.  Both Coogler and Jordan were among those believed to be snubbed when the 2016 nominees were announced last month, and Stallone didn't turn a blind eye to the diversity conversation that took hold of Hollywood thereafter.  

The 69-year-old felt that Coogler was responsible for his nomination and that Jordan, whose titular character played Rocky's mentee in the film, made him better in the role.  "I do believe that things will change.  It’s a matter of time.  Eventually, all talent will rise to the top.  It’s a matter of getting a new paradigm, a new way of thinking.  But I owe everything to these two young men." 

As for landing the nomination four decades after he first appeared in the role, Stallone looked at it as "the most serious obstacle" that has presented itself to him.  "I never thought I'd be able to cross this threshold again," he added.      

Opening Downtown


Set in northern Turkey, five free-spirited teenaged sisters splash about on the beach with their male classmates. Though their games are merely innocent fun, a neighbor passes by and reports what she considers to be illicit behavior to the girls' family.  The family overreacts, removing all "instruments of corruption," like cell phones and computers, and essentially imprisoning the girls, subjecting them to endless lessons in housework in preparation to become brides.  As the eldest sisters are married off, the younger ones bond together to avoid the same fate.  The fierce love between them empowers them to rebel and chase a future where they can determine their own lives.  Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes “(director DenizGamze) Ergüven's film, beautifully shot and beautifully performed, cuts its storybook tone with starker, more brutal truths.”  “Mustang” opens Thursday at the Michigan.

Special Screenings Downtown

"The Amazing Nina Simone"

This film explores the life and legacy of the “High Priestess of Soul."  Nina Simone was both loved and feared throughout the 1960s for her outspoken vision of Black Freedom.  Today, Nina’s music continues to empower people around the world with its unrelenting appeal for justice.  Special post-show Q&A will follow with director Jeff Lieberman!  “The Amazing Nina Simone” plays Friday, February 26 at 6:45 PM at the Michigan.

"The Fly Fishing Film Tour"

The original and preeminent exhibition of fly fishing cinema, The Fly Fishing Film Tour is a one of a kind experience.  Each year fishermen of all ages (and genders) gather to soak in films from around the world, spin a few yarns amongst friends and dream about casts still unmade.  The Fly Fishing Film Tour plays Friday, February 26 at 7 PM at the Michigan.


You’re invited to “Let It Go” at Disney’s “Frozen” sing-along!  When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on a journey to find Anna's sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell.  For this special engagement, the film has been customized with on-screen lyrics so that audiences can join in the fun by singing along.  A movie host will introduce the film and lead the crowd through audience participation activities and demonstrate the use of the complimentary bag of interactive props.  To complete the experience, audience members are encouraged to dress as their favorite “Frozen” character.  Disney’s “Frozen” sing-along plays Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28 at 11:30 AM at the Michigan. 

“The Rugrats Movie”

“The Rugrats Movie” is this week midnight film downtown; playing Saturday, February 27 at 11:59 PM at the State.

"Henry V"

Laurence Olivier’s first film adaptation of a Shakespeare play set the stage for adaptations in years to come.  Olivier directed and starred as young King Henry V of England as he embarks on the conquest of France in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War in 1415.  The play contains one of Shakespeare’s most iconic lines: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”  “Henry V” plays Monday, February 29 at 7 PM at the Michigan as part of The Bard Film Series.

"Attack on Titan"

This is the live-action CGI explosion of artist HajimeIsayama’s Japanese manga story.  2000 years from now, “Titans” rule the land and humans are nearly extinct.  ErenJaeger, whose mother is killed in front of him by these creatures, vows that he will discover the secret to their power, murder all Titans, and anything that stands in the way of that goal.  “Attack on Titan” plays Wednesday, March 2 at 7 PM at the State as part of the CineMangaFilm Series; part 1 and part 2 will be played together in one presentation.

Opening at the Multiplex

"Eddie the Eagle"

Inspired by true events, “Eddie the Eagle” is a feel-good story about Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself - even as an entire nation was counting him out.  With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.  “Eddie the Eagle” opens Friday.

"Gods of Egypt"

The survival of mankind hangs in the balance as an unexpected mortal hero undertakes a thrilling journey to save the world and rescue his true love.  In order to succeed, he must enlist the help of the powerful god Horus (NikolajCoster-Waldau) in an unlikely alliance against Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.  “Gods of Egypt” opens Friday.

"Triple 9"

A crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist, and the only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for "officer down."  Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck action-packed finale.  “Triple 9” opens Friday.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Russ Collins is the executive director of Marquee Arts, the nonprofit that oversees the Michigan Theater and State Theater in Ann Arbor.
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