Declan Cashin: Reel Life
The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last weekend, and one of the most critically and popularly praised films showed during it was Irish director John Michael McDonagh's Calvary, his follow-up to the box office smash The Guard.
There was special praise heaped on the film's leading man, Brendan Gleeson. The Hollywood Reporter called his performance "shattering", while Variety surmised that Gleeson gives "a performance of monumental soul".
Calvary, which will open the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on February 13, has now picked up a distributor for its US release off the back of its Sundance success. This might just be the movie that will, at long last, propel Gleeson onto the Hollywood A-list – and perhaps into the 2015 Oscar race.
* Other movies that did well at Sundance that you'll likely be hearing a lot about this year: Whiplash, starring rising newcomer Miles Teller as a wannabe drummer coached by a relentless music teacher (played by JK Simmons).
Teller is on the verge of major stardom this year – in the coming weeks and months, you can catch him in the bro-mantic comedy This Awkward Moment, teen romance The Spectacular Now, and potential franchise Divergent. Whiplash won the US Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at Sundance, as well as the Audience Award – the start of what could be a long award-haul for the film.
Another to be excited about is Richard Linklater's Boyhood, which was shot over 11 years as its young protagonist (newcomer Ellar Coltrane) aged in real time.
Also keep an eye out for The Skeleton Twins, which gives dramatic roles to Saturday Night Live comics Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader; The Voices, with Ryan Reynolds as an unhinged man who believes his cat and dog are telling him to kill people; Laggies, a road movie with Keira Knightley and Chloe Moretz; and Life Itself, a documentary about the late US film critic Roger Ebert.
* Fantastic Four is one superhero/comic book franchise that never took flight (though its two instalments from 2005 and 2007 weren't that bad).
But that hasn't deterred Fox, who are determined to reboot the story for the post-Avengers/Iron Man audience.
Reports last week stated that a script for the do-over Fantastic Four project has been turned in, and now the suits are ready to start casting (they'd better get on that – the film already has a release date for June 2015).
The talented and gorgeous Michael B Jordan (seriously, wait until you see his heartbreaking turn in upcoming Fruitvale Station and then in just a towel in That Awkward Moment – the man can do it all!) is rumoured to play Johnny Storm, while the aforementioned Miles Teller and Game Of Thrones actors Kit Harington and Richard Madden are also in the frame for parts.
Our own Saoirse Ronan is believed to be one of those asked to screen-test for the role of Sue Storm, alongside House Of Cards star Kate Mara.
* Finally, who among you enjoyed Oscar heavyweight American Hustle? (Btw, is Reel Life the only one who feels entirely "meh" about that movie?).
Well, its writer-director David O Russell has sold a 13-episode drama pitch to US television network ABC.
The mystery project is described as "an upstairs/downstairs soap set at a private country club," and was co-written with Susannah Grant, screenwriter of Erin Brockovich. It should air by year's end.