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Watch: DGA Commercial Winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Tearjerker 'Best Job' [Video]

3 February 2013 3:39 PM, PST

The DGA honored Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for his commercial "Best Job" on Saturday night. The Mexican filmmaker behind Academy-Award nominated "Babel," "Amores Perros," and "Biutiful" made the commercial for Procter and Gamble. It weaves vignettes about parents supporting children in sports as a lead-up to Olympic victories. See the lovely 120-second tearjerker below.  Full coverage of DGA winners is here. »


- Maggie Lange

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Arthouse Audit: Four Docs and Oscar Shorts Program Buoy Specialized Weekend Box Office

3 February 2013 1:46 PM, PST

After a January of weak specialized openings (led by First Run's "56 Up"), February is showing some life with four new documentary releases and a shorts program. The standouts are Sony Pictures Classics' Oscar-nominated "The Gatekeepers" in two cities and Zeitgeist's "Koch" in New York. Arthouses in 2013-- like much of  2012-- will be sustained in part by a steady flow of decent if not spectacularly grossing non-fiction films. Still, multiple films scoring strong initial response in the same weekend is an anomaly. As the three best new limited openings in recent weeks -- "Quartet," "Amour" and the much broader "The Impossible" -- all play beyond core theaters, any fresh blood is appreciated when there is plenty of room for films with any sign of audience interest. Opening "The Gatekeepers" (Sony Pictures Classics) - Metacritic score: 88; Festivals include: Jerusalem 12, »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Weekend Box Office: Low-Scoring Game Boosted by Veteran Holdovers

3 February 2013 10:29 AM, PST

Though grosses showed somewhat more strength Saturday than Friday, this remains a poor weekend. The Super Bowl always damages business both in terms of audience turnout and viable new releases, but this looks like the worst in total gross since at least 2007, and less than that when higher ticket prices are included. And this doesn't come in a vacuum - business has been mostly down since the start of the year. The Top 10 grossed about $64 million, down from $80 last weekend and nearly 30% from last year. The pattern remains the same as past weeks - a younger oriented horror genre film ("Warm Bodies") comes in at #1, the earlier ones drop off, an action film with a past big draw ("Bullet to the Head") underperforms, and meantime a bunch of Oscar nominees fill in some of the gap. (Five of the top 10 this week are Best Picture nominees, and two others fell »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Art Directors Guild Awards Honor 'Anna Karenina,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Skyfall,' Snub 'Lincoln' and 'Argo'

2 February 2013 11:47 PM, PST

The 17th annual Art Directors Guild Awards, presented at a lively if long ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, honored "Anna Karenina," "Life of Pi" and "Skyfall" in the period, fantasy and contemporary feature film categories, respectively. (Full list of nominations here.) Returning host Paula Poundstone found a joke for the night and stuck with it: Art directors wear unusual eye-glasses. “Apparently you can’t do this without an elaborate frame,” she quipped. She was also struck by the appropriately well-designed look of the Beverly Hilton’s ballroom, which boasted fringe hanging from the ceiling and a special side-stage for the live band. “The person who designed this room tonight will be up for next year’s Adg awards.” Awarded in the half-hour TV series category was HBO’s “Girls.” Production designer Judy Becker said that when working on the show she was inspired by her own life in New »


- Beth Hanna

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Directors Guild Continues the Awards Surge for Ben Affleck's 'Argo'

2 February 2013 10:42 PM, PST

Ben Affleck bookended the night at the Directors Guild of America Awards. Half-hour TV show winner Lena Dunham ("Girls") accepted her award by saying, "Steven Spielberg, I'm coming for you. Ben Affleck, I already came for you." She forecast the heat that attended Affleck's "Argo," which by evening's end, continued its awards surge by taking home the DGA's top honor for best feature. It's the third time a director has won the DGA without an Oscar nom. Affleck joins other actor-directors who have won the DGA: Woody Allen, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Ron Howard, Kevin Costner, and Clint Eastwood. "Argo" has been winning awards of late, including SAG, PGA, Critics Choice and the Golden Globes. First-time nominee Affleck beat three-time DGA-winner Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln") who earned a standing ovation, and two-time DGA-winner Ang Lee ("Life of Pi"), the only two DGA nominees who were also in the »


- Anne Thompson

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'Wreck It Ralph' Dominates Annie Animation Awards

2 February 2013 10:34 PM, PST

Disney's animated comedy hit "Wreck-It-Ralph" dominated Saturday's Annies, winning five awards including best animated feature at UCLA's Royce Hall. It is considered the frontrunner for the animated feature Oscar.  Director Rich Moore also won best director; Alan Tudyk (King Candy) won voice acting;  Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee won for writing and Henry Jackman, Skrillex, Adam Young, Matthew Thiessen, Jamie Houston and Yasushi Akimoto won for music. Animated Special Production: "Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem" (Illumination Entertainment) Animated Short Subject: black-and-white "Paperman" – (Walt Disney Animation Studios) General Audience Animated TV Production For Preschool Children: "Bubble Guppies" -- "A Tooth on the Looth" (Nickelodeon Animation Studios) Animated Television Production For Children: "Dragons: Riders of Berk" -- "How to Pick Your Dragon" »


- Anne Thompson

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'Girls' Recap 4: And After All, Where's the Wonderwall?

2 February 2013 7:35 PM, PST

We haven’t seen much of Jessa or Shoshanna so far in the second season of “Girls,” making their highlighted storylines in this week’s episode refreshing. “It’s a Shame About Ray” deals with the difficulty of relationships, and how being in love and feeling used can overlap. Wackily mismatched newlyweds Jessa and Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd) go to dinner with his parents. It’s Jessa’s first time meeting them, and once we meet them, we understand why Thomas-John has held off on introductions. The middle-aged couple is coiffed and early to the restaurant, clashing with Jessa’s bohemian devil-may-care outfit ensemble and general disregard for punctuality. Kudos on the parents’ casting: Thomas-John’s mom (Deborah Rush) is brittle, blonde and uptight, while his dad (Griffin Dunne) is hilariously bizarre, making moony eyes at Jessa throughout dinner and interjecting with strange non-sequiturs. (Example: “I »


- Beth Hanna

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'Lincoln' Oscar Frontrunner Daniel Day-Lewis Opens Up in Santa Barbara

2 February 2013 4:51 PM, PST

Daniel Day-Lewis may not appear to be a marquee movie star. But audiences are starting to get the idea that when he does a movie--and he picks them carefully, willing to wait years between roles--they should check it out. At a time when many actors risk overexposure, grabbing all the roles they can while interest is hot, Day-Lewis steps back and keeps himself grounded in his family and waits for the muse to hit him. He's a marquee movie star because when he steps up, when the match is perfect between director and role, when it feels right, he gives his all, he embraces a role so totally that it consumes and overtakes him. He loses himself in the part throughout production. It's fair to say that Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln and that people went to see Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" because the actor, while reluctant to take it on at first, »


- Anne Thompson

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Friday Box Office: Is It Time to Panic Yet?

2 February 2013 1:25 PM, PST

Another post-holiday Friday, another dismal box office report. And with the Super Bowl upon us, the weekend is unlikely to get much better. The top ten films yesterday grossed around $22 million, compared to $31 million last year (also opposite The Big Game). This continues a trend for recent weeks for Fridays to be significantly below their counterparts in 2012. What has salvaged the weekends somewhat have been improvements for the other two days, reflecting the older audience component that has been evident since October. But that is less likely this week. What is continuing to happen is a clear drop in interest among teens and young adults in going to the movies at anything close to normal levels on Friday. A big date night, when many avid moviegoers want to be the first to see the big opening of the week has suffered the biggest drop as new films (now through five weeks) continue to underperform overall. »

- Tom Brueggemann

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Oscar Watch: Nominees Lunch Abandons Seating Plan

1 February 2013 3:51 PM, PST

It was too good to last. As the Academy continues on the path of making changes, it has abandoned one of its best practices. At Monday's annual Nominees Luncheon, instead of having all the Oscar nominees sit with a smattering of Academy governors, execs and press randomly assigned on the day by lottery, there will be a seating plan. My guess? Too many powerful folks finally prevailed, demanding protection from the unknown, whether it was aloof Daniel Day-Lewis or cranky Tommy Lee Jones. The Academy should never have backed down, because it will be difficult to go back. It was a lovely and honorable tradition. Seventeen of the 20 acting nominees are expected to show up at noon at the Beverly Hilton on Monday, among more than 160 Oscar nominees, when the Academy honors this year's Oscar contenders. The annual group photo is part of the tradition, as each nominee gets called »


- Anne Thompson

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Best of the Week: Rise of 'Argo' at PGA and SAG, Interviews, Super Bowl Ads, 'House of Cards' and More

1 February 2013 1:34 PM, PST

The best stories of the week from Toh! Awards: Oscar Talk: 'Argo' vs. 'Lincoln,' PGA, SAG and DGA; Affleck and Day-Lewis Hit Santa Barbara PGA Awards: "Argo" Wins Big, Plus "Sugarman," "Homeland," "Modern Family"; Tributes to Weinsteins, Abrams and Working Title SAG Awards: With Critics Choice, Globes, PGA and SAG Wins, "Argo" Now Challenges "Lincoln" [Video] Interviews: "Side Effects": Soderbergh Q&A and Review Roundup [Video] Lena Dunham Talks Success, Image Misconception, Franco, Fey and Poehler in New EW Sundance Doc Writer Mark Monroe Talks "Summit," "Sound City," "Who Is Dayani Cristal?" and "Chasing Ice" Reviews: Netflix's "House of Cards" Is Classy, Campy and Diabolically Watchable [Trailer] Now and Then: The Soul of Netflix's New Series? The BBC's "House of »


- TOH!

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Sundance: Jane Campion Talks 'Top of the Lake,' Review and Roundup

1 February 2013 1:28 PM, PST

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Jane Campion marks yet another first-rate filmmaker ("The Piano") who when faced with an uphill climb to get such idiosyncratic smart-films as "Bright Star" financed and released, has transitioned to long-form television. It's a sheer delight to see her stretch out in a six-hour mini-series format with "Top of the Lake" (Sundance Channel, March 18), a gorgeous mystery thriller set in the New Zealand vacation country where Campion spent her summers growing up. Unusually, the Sundance Channel unveiled the entire series in one day at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Inspired by mini-series "Carlos" and backed by the BBC, Sundance Channel and Arte, "King's Speech" producers Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, Campion, co-writer Gerard Lee ("Sweetie"), and co-director Garth Davis had a decent budget with which to conjure up a moody world where men and women do not get along »


- Anne Thompson

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Immersed in Movies: Assessing the Animated Shorts Oscar Race (Trailers)

1 February 2013 12:39 PM, PST

Animated shorts have never been bigger. Starting today, ShortsHD and Magnolia Pictures are screening the five nominees theatrically in North America and Europe for the eighth consecutive year along with the live-action and doc short nominees; they continue to sell briskly on iTunes; and, for the first time, the Academy has opened up the voting to all members, and will be sending out DVD screeners, which will offer greater exposure. And this year's crop is the most compelling in years: "Adam and Dog": a gorgeous hand-drawn reworking of the Genesis story from Disney animator Minkyu Lee ("Wreck-It Ralph"), who made it independent of the studio without a producer or a budget. "Fresh Guacamole":  a culinary stop-motion delight by Pes ("Western Spaghetti") and the shortest short ever nominated in Oscar history at a minute and forty-five seconds. "Head over Heels": a poignant stop-mo student work by Timothy »


- Bill Desowitz

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Weekend Preview: Documentaries 'Sound City' and 'Koch' Best Bets, 'Warm Bodies' a Lively Ya Installment

1 February 2013 11:16 AM, PST

A number of documentaries hit the limited release circuit this weekend, including Neil Barsky's eerily timely "Koch," a clear-eyed portrait of the former NY mayor who just today passed away at the age of 88, and Dave Grohl's "Sound City," with interviews from a panoply of big names from rock history. Both are very well reviewed. Alex Gibney's look at the rough-and-tumble NHL, "The Last Gladiators," isn't quite passing the goal line, meeting mixed reviews. Meanwhile, the latest Young Adult bait "Warm Bodies" has some kick to it, while genre veteran Walter Hill's "Bullet to the Head," starring Stallone, doesn't hit the mark. "Bullet to the Head" Dir. Walter Hill, USA | Warner Bros. Pictures | Cast: Sylvestore Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater | 48% Rotten | NPR: "The plot fails to deliver a single surprise, however, and the characterizations are thin even by the standards of the tough-guy »


- Beth Hanna

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Julia Stiles Joins Jennifer DeLia's Mary Pickford Biopic 'The First' to Play Oscar Winner Frances Marion

1 February 2013 10:36 AM, PST

Julia Stiles, who re-emerged with a great supporting turn in "Silver Linings Playbook," has signed on to play screenwriter Frances Marion--the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay--in Jennifer DeLia's "The First," based on Eileen Whitfield's biography on Mary Pickford, "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood." Marion's Oscar was for "The Big House" in 1930. Pickford was muse to Marion during their collaborations, including “Rebecca from Sunnybrook Farm” and “Poor Little Rich Girl.” Other characters in the film will include Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Lillian Gish. Lily Rabe is set to play Pickford, and "Boardwalk Empire"'s Michael Pitt is set to play Owen Moore. Julie Pacino is producing with Said Zahraoui and Dominick Fairbanks; she'll shopping the film at Berlin with Poverty Row's Billy Bates. Last November DeLia told Indiewire, "I didn't »


- Sophia Savage

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Why Indomina Abandoned Distribution Updated

1 February 2013 10:24 AM, PST

The problem with independent distribution is that it costs a lot of money to keep the machine running. The numbers of outsiders are legion who have jumped into distribution because they blanch at the money they think they are leaving on the floor with onerous releasing deals.  It takes guts, several years of deep-pocket spending and lots of know-how to make distribution work. Indomina Releasing, the distribution wing of the Dominican Republic's Indomina Group, is the latest indie to shut down its North American operations, with 15 L.A.-based jobs lost as of Friday due to the closure. "They want to be guys who are creating content, not releasing films," stated their Rogers & Cowan spokesman. None of Indomina's domestic releases passed the $1 million mark: the one that came closest was Bart Layton's Sundance doc "The Imposter," which was shortlisted for the Oscar but did not make the final five. »


- Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna

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'Royal Affair' Team and Shane Salerno Take on Winslow's Drug-War Epic 'Power of the Dog'

1 February 2013 10:02 AM, PST

Nikolaj Arcel, director of foreign Oscar nominatee "A Royal Affair," and Rasmus Heisterberg, who penned the script, are set to adapt Don Winslow's epic besteller "The Power of the Dog." The two previously collaborated on scripting the Swedish "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Winslow's novel follows a 30-year struggle between a dogged drug enforcement agent and family of cartel lords in Mexico. Arcel will helm, as well as co-write with Heisterberg and Shane Salerno.  Earlier this week Salerno made news as he is the co-author of the upcoming biography "The Private Hell of J.D. Salinger," as well as the director of documentary "Salinger" which was picked up by PBS (it will air as part of "American Masters" in early 2014.) Salerno is familiar with Winslow's material; he adapted 2012's "Savages" for Oliver Stone, and is preparing to write "Satori" for Warner Bros. and Leonardo »


- Beth Hanna

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First Look: Hiddleston and Swinton Vamp It Up in Jarmusch's 'Only Lovers Left Alive'

1 February 2013 9:54 AM, PST

Check out this first new image of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in Jim Jarmusch's vampire tale "Only Lovers Left Alive." The film also stars Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt and Anton Yelchin. It centers on Adam (Hiddleston), a centuries-old underground musician whose attempts at a rekindled romance with Eve (Swinton) are foiled by her tempestuous younger sister (Wasikowska). Swinton cameoed in Jarmusch's last effort, 2009's "The Limits of Control." Jarmusch, who funds his indie efforts with overseas coin, will likely debut "Only Lovers Left Alive" at this year's Cannes Film Festival. »


- Beth Hanna

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Disney Wants Kenneth Branagh to Take 'Cinderella' to the Ball

1 February 2013 9:49 AM, PST

Actor-directors are in demand right now. Kenneth Branagh ("Henry V"), who has been nominated for the Oscar five times as actor, director or writer, is reportedly in talks to helm Disney's new live-action version of "Cinderella." Mark Romanek ("Never Let Me Go") was previously on board to direct, but that arrangement has since turned back into a pumpkin. Cate Blanchett is attached as the wicked stepmother, with Saoirse Ronan rumored for the lead role. This iteration of the classic fairytale has been in the works since 2011 and, according to Vulture, the Mouse House would like to get production rolling by the fall. Branagh's last directed film to hit theaters was 2011's "Thor." He was nominated for an Oscar last year for his supporting turn as Laurence Olivier in "My Week with Marilyn." The Shakespeare veteran is currently directing and acting in Paramount's rebooted Tom Clancy series with "Star »


- Beth Hanna

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Review: Netflix's 'House of Cards' Is Classy, Campy and Diabolically Watchable (Trailer)

1 February 2013 9:46 AM, PST

“Nobody’s a boy scout. Not even boy scouts,” drawls Kevin Spacey’s Francis “Frank” Underwood. As the mastermind congressman suggests, all players in Netflix’s “House of Cards” have sharp teeth and like the taste of blood. The new series, which is based on the original BBC production, is executive produced and helmed in part by David Fincher, and has the cool grey-gold look and streamlined efficiency of the director’s work. Majority whip House Representative Frank is thrown over for what he viewed as a shoo-in Secretary of State nomination. Instead of pickling in bitterness, he sees the snub as chum in the water. Frank goes along with his foreseeable future in congress, all copacetic smiles and ingratiating cooperation, while secretly hatching a devious plan to dismantle the entire office of the newly inaugurated President. When Frank is approached by fresh-faced Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), a young Washington Herald. »


- Beth Hanna

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