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2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Foreign Language Film

13 hours ago

The official submissions for the foreign language Oscar are trickling in from around the world. Last year, 81 submissions were released theatrically in their home countries between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015. (This year’s deadline for submissions is October 3, 2016; the Academy announces the accepted eligible films later that month.)

Several Academy foreign committees comprised of members from all the branches whittle down the films to a shortlist of nine and finally, five Oscar nominees. (Last year’s winner was Cannes prize-winner “Son of Saul, ” directed by Lazlo Nemes.) Many countries pick films that do well on the festival circuit as their strongest Oscar contender; others do not.

Politics often intervene: Brazil’s submission was expected to be Cannes competition film “Aquarius,” starring Sonia Braga, but it was embroiled in controversy over filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho’s support of outgoing impeached president Dilma Rousseff. Bruno Barreto’s Brazil selection committee went instead »

- Anne Thompson

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4 Reasons Distributors Should Buy Errol Morris Gem ‘The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography’

15 hours ago

Errol Morris is best known as an influential and Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker (“The Fog of War”), but he’s also a master of the short form who commands big bucks shooting commercials and episodic television. Then there’s the New York Times op-docs and essays, his many deep dives into photography and the bestsellers such as “Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography” and “A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald.” However, none of this prepared me for his latest gem of a film,”The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography,” a gentle exploration of a woman who’s also one of Morris’ best friends.

Read More: New York Film Festival Announces 2016 Documentary Lineup, Including New Films by Errol Morris and Steve James

Dorfman started out photographing the Beats in the early ’60s and became friends with poet Allen Ginsberg, who she shot many times over the decades. »

- Anne Thompson

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Lupita Nyong’o Finds Her Strength in ‘Queen of Katwe’ (Video)

28 September 2016 8:00 AM, PDT

Kenyan native Lupita Nyong’o is known for not only winning the Oscar for Supporting Actress for playing slave Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” but also for doing it it with astonishing style.

But since her 2014 win, she has done more modeling (Mui Mui, Lancome), social media, and theater (playing a 15-year-old Liberian rape victim on Broadway in “Eclipsed”) than high-profile film parts (“Non-Stop”). Turns as Maz Kanata in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and Raksha in “The Jungle Book” were voice roles.

So “Queen of Katwe” marks a welcome return to the big screen, working with her mentor Mira Nair, whose husband and Nyong’o’s father were friends at university. When Nyong’o voiced an interest in working in film, she was surprised to find out that her dad’s Uganda pal was married to Nair. “I interned for her at Mirabai films and worked at the lab, »

- Anne Thompson

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‘The Shallows’: 6 Steps to Deliver the Perfect Summer Sleeper

27 September 2016 8:00 AM, PDT

Fall is the season for Oscar movies; cheap summer thrillers are long forgotten. However, it’s a good time to honor the sleeper success that is “The Shallows.” Today is the film’s DVD release, the final platform for a little $17 million movie that stars Blake Lively, a shark, and a coral reef, and grossed $116 million worldwide.

There’s a sophisticated intelligence behind this movie, manipulating suspense with unexpected twists. This does not happen very often. So what did the producers and the studio do right?

1. Target women. 

In fall 2014, veteran production executive Lynn Harris (“Man of Steel,” “Gravity”) founded indie production company Weimaraner Republic Pictures with her fellow dog-loving husband, Matti Leshem. Their goal: produce high-concept movies on modest budgets, aimed at the under-served women’s audience. Leshem brought Anthony Jawinski’s script for “The Shallows” to Harris.

“It was a true thriller and had that surfing and escape thing, »

- Anne Thompson

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Mike Mills’ ’20th Century Women’ Gets a Christmas Day Release

26 September 2016 2:55 PM, PDT

Now that studios are finalizing their late-year bookings, we can see just how insane the Christmas release season will be.

Paramount slotted Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” on December 23—he was always expected to hand in the film, as he did with “Wolf of Wall Street,” just before year’s end—while A24 chose December 25 as a limited launch for Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women,” which will make its world premiere October 8 at the New York Film Festival. His last film, 2010’s “Beginners,” scored an Oscar win for Christopher Plummer.

Both movies will widen in the less-competitive January time frame, and are expected to compete for awards. “Silence” offers the second high-profile performance of the year from Andrew Garfield. (The other is Mel Gibson’s well-reviewed Venice title, World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge.”) “20th Century Women” is a ’70s family dramedy starring Oscar perennial Annette Bening (who is overdue with »

- Anne Thompson

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France Picks Paul Verhoeven’s Sexy Thriller ‘Elle’ For 2017 Best Foreign Language Oscar Submission

26 September 2016 9:02 AM, PDT

Sony Pictures Classics, Isabelle Huppert and Paul Verhoeven are very happy.

Bravo to France for taking a risk by picking their official foreign language Oscar submission, “Elle,” over shortlist contenders “The Innocents” by Anne Fontaine, “Frantz” by François Ozon and “Cézanne and I” by Danièle Thompson. Spc took a chance that the Cannes competition entry would make the cut when they acquired “Elle” out of Cannes.

Why the risk? Well, it’s one thing for the movie to play well with sophisticated audiences and critics in Europe, and another in North America, where the psychosexual thriller may run into a different set of reactions, especially from politically correct sensibilities such as Women in Hollywood’s Melissa Silverstein. (Post Cannes and Toronto, “Elle” sits at a very high 87% on Metacritic.)

Read More: ‘Elle’ Exclusive Clip: Isabelle Huppert Takes Revenge On An Attacker In Paul Verhoeven’s Latest Thriller

Always enjoying stirring »

- Anne Thompson

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