OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2015 

The 87th annual Academy Awards nominations were announced this morning. The Best Picture race has eight contenders this year with Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel leading the pack with nine nominations each. There were the inevitable nominees--Mr. Keaton and Ms. Streep could have placed their calls to the stylists months ago anticipating their red carpet treks for their roles in Birdman and Into The Woods respectively. More significantly the surprises came in the snubs. Mr. Gyllenhaal, you were robbed. And sadly, yet again, there's no female best director nominee despite the efforts of Selma's Ava DuVernay and Unbroken's Angelina Jolie.

Muckrakers, Presented by New Repertory Theatre through February 1st

Muckrackers is a riveting two-hander in which two hackers face off over what's fair in the age of e-espionage. Stephen (Lewis Wheeler) is a 40-something Brit made internationally infamous for how his release of documents has "changed the world." Twenty-something Mira (Esme Allen) is the more impetuous one who traffics more in gossip and relishes bringing down a closeted, philandering Congressman. In the age of Assange and Snowden, Muckrakers will deliciously toy with your own views on the subject. And in one of the most graphic sex scenes I've seen on the stage, we see sex as the ultimate measure of power. High marks to Bridget Kathleen O'Leary for masterful direction that never allows the tension to sag.

American Sniper, In theaters Friday 

American Sniper picked up a number of Oscar nominations this morning including Best Picture. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it tells the true story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), known as "the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history." The film tosses us, as Kyle was tossed, between his tours of duty in Iraq and his home in Texas where he struggles to leave the horrors of war behind. Sienna Miller is affecting as his beleaguered wife, Taya at great pains to keep her family (and her husband's emotional welfare) intact.

Blackhat, In theaters Friday

Director Michael Mann's Blackhat tracks the hunt for a hacker who has successfully set off a nuclear explosion in China and may trigger more economic earthquakes in the near future. Chris Hemsworth plays the felon pulled out of prison to chase the hacker down in China. All of Mann's brilliant filmmaking styles are at play here, but they never coalesce making for an overlong, uninteresting film. Viola Davis as an FBI agent aiding the hunt is the one exception. She's as riveting as ever.

A Most Violent Year, In theaters Friday

A Most Violent Year sets us down in 1981, statistically recorded as the most dangerous year in New York City's history. Oscar Issac plays Abel, an the independent owner of a heating oil business who's gone from being a truck driver to nearly achieving the American Dream. But can he do it while remaining morally and ethically sound? The seedy atmosphere around him threatens to swallow his dreams. Channeling Sydney Lumet, this is an exceptionally well told story and Jessica Chastain as Abel's less ethically driven wife is wonderfully chilling.

This week on Open Studio we tour the Walden, revisited show at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. And hear more of my interview with the enchanting Sienna Miller on starring in American Sniper, taking direction from Clint Eastwood and how being a new mom has affected her process.

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