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Update: Destin Cretton's award-winning screenplay for "Short Term" 12 is now available online.Earlier: All of the award season screenplays are now available online. In the glut of promotional material sent out to Academy members at this time of year, clearly many films are adapted from real books, including Marcus Luttrell's "Lone Survivor," Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief," Solomon Northup's "12 Years a Slave," Martin Sexsmith's "Philomena" and Will Haygood's "The Butler." Also arriving on voters stoops so far are screenplays for the Coen brothers' original "Inside Llewyn Davis," Tracy Letts' adaptation of his play "August: Osage County," John Ridley's "12 Years a Slave" and Danny Strong's "The Butler."In the Screenplay categories for the Oscars, every year a number of films go into competition without a boost from the Writers Guild. This is due to strictly followed Guild rules. Non-Guild writers, films produced under companies that »
- Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
Digital Release Date: Dec. 31, 2013, Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Jan. 14, 2014
Price: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $34.99, Blu-ray Combo $39.99
Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay
Inspired by a true story, the movie follows Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker, Platoon), who rises up from being a slave boy to a career as a butler serving seven Presidents in the White House. Over the years, he witnesses some of the most tumultuous and defining moments for race relations in the U.S. in the 20th century.
The all-star cast also includes Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple) as Cecil’s wife, plus John Cusack (The Raven), Jane Fonda (All Together), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Machete Kills), Terrence Howard (Prisoners), Lenny Kravitz (The Hunger Games), James Marsden (Robot & Frank), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part »
The Writers Guild of America has remained tough on qualifying scripts for its screenplay awards, excluding more than a dozen high-profile scripts, including John Ridley’s screenplay for “12 Years a Slave.”
The guild’s restrictions — far more rigorous than other guilds — require that scripts be produced under WGA jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the U.K. The WGA had no immediate comment on the exclusions, but the restrictions on eligibility are a longstanding practice at the guild.
Other notable screenplays excluded include Peter Morgan’s screenplay for “Rush”; Ryan Coogler’s script for “Frutivale Station”; “Philomena,” written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” penned by William Nicholson.
Voting to determine the WGA’s nominees launched Tuesday on 95 eligible screenplays — 41 in the adapted category and 54 in the original category. The guild’s restrictions also require that the »
- Dave McNary
With Steven Spielberg's cinematographer Janusz Kaminski directing, eleven actors paired with eleven writers (and writing teams) to create eleven shorts for The New York Times Magazine's featurette "Making a Scene." Robert Redford partnered with writing duo Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, Cate Blanchett with Computer Chess writer-director Andrew Bujalski, Julia Louis-Dreyfus with Enough Said's Nicole Holofcener, Blue is the Warmest Color's Adele Exarchopoulos with The Butler's Danny Strong, Michael B. Jordan with Spike Jonze, and Greta Gerwig recited the words written by Before Midnight trio Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater. Oprah Winfrey was paired with Stories We Tell's Sarah Polley, and you can see theirs below; but you'll have to watch the rest over at The New York Times Magazine. »
- Lindsey Weber
It's all Harry Potter's fault. Ever since the wizarding franchise so successfully bisected its final chapter into two financially and critically acclaimed parts, it's become a foregone conclusion that every closed-ended blockbuster series will do the same. And why wouldn't they? It doesn't take much to work out that two box office record-smashing films are better than one, particularly when there's no scope for further sequels.
Vehemently though Peter Jackson tried to tell us that three Hobbit films were necessary in order to do justice to the scope and detail of Jrr Tolkien's world, we all know that the endgame is financial rather than creative. Die-hard Twilight fans were undeniably grateful for the series' ending being postponed, but would a lean two-hour finale have made for a better movie than two faintly anaemic Breaking Dawns? Probably.
So how will it work for Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins' third and arguably most difficult Hunger Games novel? »
Catching Fire is inventing new kinds of money to make. So, lest there was any doubt, there will be a Mockingjay movie. Or rather, two Mockingjay movies. Heck, they’re filming the movies right now; maybe they’ll squeeze out a third one in their spare time. Book-splitting isn’t so much a trend as it is Standard Operating Procedure for now: Popularized by Harry Potter, debased by Twilight, taken to ludicrous extremes by The Hobbit. But splitting up Mockingjay offers a particular challenge to the filmmakers: How do you turn that book into two different PG-13 movies?
- Darren Franich
Last March, The Hunger Games took the world by storm, topping the global box office to finish up with $691m., breaking records left, right, and centre. So it should really come as no surprise that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would make a repeat performance over the weekend in its November slot.
The film opened huge at the North American box office over the weekend, with early estimates putting the figures at $161.1m. across the three days, totting up a massive $70.5m. on Friday alone.
It now sits comfortably above The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which previously took $142.8m., to become the highest-grossing November bow in the Us. Not only that, but it also now sits impressively at #4 on the biggest debuts in the Us of all time, inching past The Dark Knight ($158.4m.) and The Dark Knight Rises ($160.8m.), beaten only by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($169.1m. »
- Kenji Lloyd
Jennifer Lawrence is impressive as the warrior whose public support disturbs the powers that be
Say what you like about the Twilight movies, but the mould-breaking model of an epic teen-oriented fantasy franchise that doesn't pander predominantly to a Boy's Own audience has had major repercussions for mainstream cinema. That the Hunger Games saga, with its ass-kicking, independent heroine and unusually grim subject matter, could become an international screen sensation is due in no small part to the much-maligned legacy of Bella Swan; no wonder Stephenie Meyer's all-important endorsements were splashed so prominently across the covers of Suzanne Collins's source novels.
And so we return to the totalitarian future, where once rebellious districts are forced to offer up their children for annual sacrifice, part of a grotesque Running Man-style reality show designed to titillate the ruling classes while subjugating the masses. Here, Katniss Everdeen (the brilliantly »
- Mark Kermode
Variety has chosen its 10 Screenwriters to Watch for 2013.
The group will be profiled in the Nov. 26 issue of Variety and honored with a panel and banquet at the Whistler Film Festival in Whistler, Canada, on Dec. 7.
The 10 to Watch series spotlights emerging writers, actors, producers, directors, comics and cinematographers. The honorees are selected by a team of Variety editors, critics and reporters.
Writers who have appeared on the 10 to Watch list in years past include Oscar winners Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”), Charlie Kaufman (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”); Emmy winner Lena Dunham (“Girls”), Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen (“This Is the End”), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (“Despicable Me” 1 & 2), Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”) and Danny Strong (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”).
- Variety Staff
Oscar has a way of falling in love with first-time scripters, including Chris Terrio (“Argo”), Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Diablo Cody (“Juno”), Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker”) and Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”).
“I wasn’t sitting looking at a computer writing,” Gordon-Levitt says. “I was up on my feet acting. When I would get the scene to a version that I like then I would go back to the keyboard and write it down. My writing process was not dissimilar from my acting process. I was basically doing the same thing except a few steps earlier.”
- Addie Morfoot
Do you review a sequel with the assumption everyone reading saw the first film or is it important to offer some background information for those that may have skipped the first film or simply need a refresherc The question, as it turns out, is one the filmmakers of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire seemed to have a little difficulty in answering themselves when it comes to the sophomore effort in the franchise. The first hour or so slogs through a rather dull opening, making sure the audience understands where we've been and where we're going. Fortunately, after trudging through, the audience is rewarded with a satisfying final two acts even if the film feels a little incomplete by the end. Catching Fire returns us to the oppressive future world of Panem, where citizens of 12 districts are held under the thumb of the Capital and beaten and killed if they step out of line. »
- Brad Brevet
Forest Whitaker is quietly powerful as a White House servant who lived through the long battle for civil rights
On the eve of Barack Obama's election victory in November 2008, the Washington Post tracked down "a story from the back pages of history", that of Eugene Allen, who served in the White House for 34 years before retiring as head butler in 1986. Described as "a figure in the tiniest of print", Allen had been called "Gene" by Truman, talked golf with Ford, been invited to dinner by the Reagans. More importantly, he had seen America change from a segregationist country in which he wasn't allowed to use public lavatories in his native Virginia to a superpower ruled by its first black president.
- Mark Kermode
At The Hollywood Reporter's recent Next Gen event, I had the opportunity to chat a bit with Danny Strong, the Emmy-winning writer (last year's Game Change) who penned the script of one of this year's most buzzed-about Oscar contenders, Lee Daniels' The Butler. I asked Strong to share his thoughts on what has proven to be one of this award season's more confusing matters: the categorization of The Butler's screenplay as an original screenplay contender rather than an adapted screenplay contender, even though it tells a story very similar to the one of Eugene Allen, a real person,
- Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter has gathered the who's who of writers, directors, and actors for round tables where they talk about the business and the craft for 50 minutes. Honestly, these things are pretty much a collection of the talent who will be getting Oscar nominations pretty soon and are truly entertaining.
First it was the Actors Roundtable with Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners), Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Josh Brolin (Oldboy), and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)...
Then, there was the Writers Roundtable with Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), Danny Strong (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Jonas Cuaron (Gravity), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), George Clooney (Gravity) and Grant Heslov (The Monuments Men)...
- Gary Collinson
Prefaced with the title "inspired by real-life events", The Butler tackles the history of racial equality in America, presented through the eyes of Cecil Gaines (Forrest Whittaker), a White House butler for 34 years, who served under the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. Coming from director Lee Daniels (Precious), he has brought an all-star cast, including Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Alan Rickman, together to bring this movie to life, and while at times it succeeds in telling a powerful story, the scope of the story is ultimately too much for it. Written by Danny Strong (who Joss Whedon fans will know as Jonathon from Buffy the Vampire Sayer), The Butler begins with Cecil's childhood on a cotton plantation in Georgia (one of the many departures from the real-life story of Eugene Allen, in effort to inject some dramatic punch), chronicling »
- email@example.com (Tom White)
Making her return to the big screen after more than a decade, Oprah Winfrey stars in Lee Daniels' The Butler as Gloria, the devoted but increasingly frustrated wife of long-serving White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker).
Digital Spy sat down with Winfrey and Whitaker to discuss the former's return to acting, what they learned from one another, and the importance of portraying a diversity of African-American experiences on screen.
"What's great about it is that you have all these filmmakers who have really unique, different perspectives and points of view," Whitaker said of the multitude of films this year that have dealt with racial issues.
Discussing the importance of comedies and musicals alongside the likes of 12 Years a Slave, Winfrey mused: "There isn't one black story, and if anything comes out of this season, I'm hoping that's what people will get.
"We are, as a race of people, as multi-faceted, »
Traditionally, press junkets for all of the big Hollywood movies take place in hotel rooms dotted around central London. Traditionally, hotel rooms have beds in them, along with tables, chairs and room to manoeuvre. When this is the case, the talent will be sitting back on a chair, as you enter in the room, sit opposite them and begin your interview. Not Lee Daniels. Oh no. Lee Daniels was sat on the bed, clutching a big pillow while his shoes were on the floor. This set the precedence for an interview devoid of tradition.
Promoting his latest endeavour The Butler, Daniels speaks his mind, he’s a conversationalist with a lot to say. He discusses with us his own personal memories and how they affect his work, as well as his thoughts on the forthcoming awards season. He also speaks about the decision to cast so many Hollywood stars in this picture, »
- Stefan Pape
Director: Lee Daniels; Screenwriter: Danny Strong; Starring: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, James Marsden, Mariah Carey, Vanessa Redgrave; Running time: 132 mins; Certificate: 12A
An emotive yet understated lead performance by Forest Whitaker bolsters this tale of a man's rise from plantation slave to revered White House butler. The good-natured intentions and powerful historical framing of Lee Daniels' movie manage to transcend the dramatic contrivances and distracting casting choices.
The Butler's storytelling scope is expansive if not consistently engrossing, charting the rise of black Americans during the 20th Century through the interconnecting fortunes of Whitaker's Cecil Gaines – based on real-life butler Eugene Allen. The civil rights movement, the black panthers and the Vietnam War all take their toll on Cecil and his family, while the plight to gain equality with white staff in the White House leads to much frustration. But can »
What could have been a powerful story of race politics set in the White House is held back by the whiff of Downton Abbey
History is written by the victors, they say; this movie looks as if the history of American race politics as written by Julian Fellowes. It is based on the life of Eugene Allen, a black butler in the White House whose human-interest story was recounted by Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood as part of his paper's Obama victory coverage in 2008.
Allen had a ringside seat at history by serving every president from Eisenhower to Reagan and finally lived to see the dream come true. A black man was in the White House – in a position other than menial.
This treacly and stilted movie, directed by Lee Daniels, invites its audience on a guided tour of the postwar White House, upstairs and down, unveiling a waxwork set of president-cameos. »
- Peter Bradshaw
The Hollywood Reporter has released their latest roundtable feature for this year's awards season, this one being the Directors Roundtable featuring Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), David O. Russell (American Hustle), Ben Stiller (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Lee Daniels (Lee Daniels' The Butler) and what I found most interesting was the conversation regarding mainstream television vs. mainstream cinema. McQueen would appear to disagree entirely with the notion television is better than cinema, shaking his head even when Stiller gives television some credit and even appearing defiant when Cuaron says, "Television is presenting a more interesting narrative, than most mainstream cinema." His focus here is on the word "mainstream" and in some ways he's right in saying there's a larger percentage of great narratives being presented on mainstream television than at the cinema, but at the same time the bulk of »
- Brad Brevet
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