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Pixar's 'Inside Out' Seizes Oscar Momentum After Topping Annie Awards

4 hours ago

The 43rd Annie Awards Saturday night at UCLA's Royce Hall was a love fest for Pixar's "Inside Out," which grabbed 10 awards, including Best Animated Feature, and is primed for the Oscar. "The Good Dinosaur," which dominated the Ves Awards on Tuesday, took the Animated Effects prize for a Pixar sweep. In addition, GKids' "Boy and the World," the first Brazilian Oscar nominee (from director Alê Abreu and Filme de Papel), won the inauguaral indie prize, and Don Hertzfeldt's "World of Tomorrow," the Oscar frontrunner, took Best Animated Short. For live-action, "The Revenant" bear claimed another character animation honor for Ilm, and Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (Sokovia Destruction) took the Animated Effects award. Both "Boy and the World" and "World of Tomorrow" are brilliant hand-drawn works: "Boy" unfolds like a sumptuous tapestry for a small stick figure of a boy, who experiences an »


- Bill Desowitz

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Best of the Week: Coen Bros. Take on Hollywood, Ryan Murphy Tackles O.J., Why George Miller Deserves the Oscar, More

22 hours ago

Arthouse Audit: Natalie Portman Indie 'Jane Got a Gun' Flops, Oscar Shorts and 'Ip Man 3' Soar 'Hail, Caesar!' Review & Roundup: Escapist Hollywood Comedy from the Coen Brothers How 'American Crime Story' Explains Our Obsession with the O.J. Simpson Trial  How the 'People v. O.J. Simpson' Writers Found 6 Characters for Their 'Shakespearean High-Wire Act' How They Designed George Miller's Oscar-Nominated 'Mad Max: Fury Road'  How Sony Pictures Classics Picked Up Four Pictures at Sundance 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'The Martian' and 'The Revenant' Take Art Directors Guild Honors Oscars: Evaluating the Best Editing Nominees 'Peak TV' or Peak Ott? From Louis C.K. to Seeso, Players Jockey for Position in a Crowded Market 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Director on Staying True to Jane Austen, Even During the Zombie Apocalypse 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies': World War Zzzzzs (Review & Roundup »


- TOH!

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Joel & Ethan Coen Crack Each Other Up, And Me, Talking About 'Hail, Caesar!'

22 hours ago

There's a reason the Coens make a lot of comedies. They're funny. Read one of their inimitable scripts or see "Burn After Reading," "Raising Arizona," or "The Big Lebowski," and you'll be howling with laughter. Even their "serious" movies are pretty funny. "Hail, Ceasar!" is an out-and-out comedy in the vein of such other period valentines as "The Hudsucker Proxy" or "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" So it's no surprise that hanging out with them in a relaxed way is a huge amount of fun, even if it doesn't amount to much in the way of a ground-breaking 15-minute interview. The pattern is the same. Joel sits down and tends to lead the answers, while Ethan paces around and jumps in with additions, curlicues and comments. And they often laugh at each other. They crack each other up. And me. Josh Brolin and George Clooney are front and center in this homage to 50s Hollywood. »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: The 'Theater of Unease' in Peter Weir's Hypnotic 'The Last Wave'

5 February 2016 2:30 PM, PST

A hypnotic achievement from Peter Weir’s Australian mystical period. He claimed he got the idea when he asked himself, “What if someone with a very pragmatic approach to life experienced a premonition?" Richard Chamberlain gives one of his best performances as a lawyer whose bad dreams lead to his representing the great Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil in a case that unleashes a spiritual tsunami to drench the world. »


- Trailers From Hell

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'Peak TV' or Peak Ott? From Louis C.K. to Seeso, Players Jockey for Position in a Crowded Market

5 February 2016 11:58 AM, PST

He isn't a streaming service, exactly, but when Louis C.K. dropped the first episode of his new series "Horace and Pete" last Saturday, it had the feeling of a gauntlet thrown. Written, directed, produced, financed, and distributed by the comedian himself, "Horace and Pete" isn't just the ne plus ultra of "auteur TV" — it's an attempt to cut out the middleman and connect with consumers directly in a market crowded, as C.K. wrote in a follow-up email, with "the usual promotion, banner ads, billboards and clips that tell you what the show feels and looks like before you get to see it for yourself."  Though C.K. described the decision to offer "Horace and Pete" through his website as an artistic one — designed to retain the element of surprise, and to emphasize the "live feeling" of the multi-camera format — the move also suggests one of several paths forward in »


- Matt Brennan

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Sundance Doc Audience Award Winner 'Jim: The James Foley Story' Paints Harrowing Portrait of Isis Captive

5 February 2016 11:49 AM, PST

Access often makes the difference between a good and a great documentary. When the family of the late freelance war journalist James Foley—who was executed on camera by Isis for the world to see, something that is not shown in HBO's "Jim: The James Foley Story"—decided to pursue a documentary about their son, they went to one of his oldest friends, New York graphic designer and filmmaker Brian Oakes ("Living with Lincoln").  His first solo feature world premiered in the Sundance U.S. Documentary Competition and won the Audience Award. Gravitas Ventures has acquired U.S. VOD and DVD rights. “I made this film to carry on the stories that Jim needed us to know,” he has stated. “It’s important that we understand the significant role of today’s conflict journalists and why they risk their lives to tell the world how bad it can be.” When »


- Anne Thompson

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Athena Film Festival to Honor Paul Feig with Inaugural 'Leading Man' Award

5 February 2016 10:10 AM, PST

The Athena Film Festival will present the director, producer, and screenwriter with its inaugural Athena Leading Man Award on Saturday, February 20, recognizing Feig for a body of work that's proven female-led comedies can attract both critics and audiences — from his big-screen breakout, 2011's "Bridesmaids" to "The Heat" (2013), "Spy" (2015), and his highly anticipated "Ghostbusters" remake (July 15), starring Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and frequent collaborator Melissa McCarthy. Feig is the first male to be honored by the Festival. Read More: "Athena Film Festival Honors Women in Entertainment with 'Suffragette,' 'Mustang,' and Mira Nair"  “We feel it is crucial to recognize and honor not only the women who are breaking barriers, but also the men who support and advocate for them," said Melissa Silverstein and Kathryn Kolbert, who co-founded the festival to celebrate women in »


- Matt Brennan

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'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Director on Staying True to Jane Austen, Even During the Zombie Apocalypse

5 February 2016 8:48 AM, PST

Although Burr Steers dislikes the word "kitsch" for its cheap connotation, he had a hard time denying that "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" isn't kitschy, especially after admitting that the biggest influence was Tony Richardson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1968), which is great kitsch. And, arguably, so is Steers' big-screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's fresh twist on Jane Austen and monsters. Badass Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), a martial arts expert, teams up with arrogant rival Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) to fight the zombie apocalypse in 19th century England, replacing the Napoleonic Wars. There's action, wit, and smart social commentary all rolled into one. Read More: "'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies': World War Zzzzzs (Review & Roundup)"  But the key for Steers was tilting it more toward Austen than the horror. "I was trying to make it into one coherent story where this zombie pandemic has happened and. »


- Bill Desowitz

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Why 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Should Win the VFX Oscar

5 February 2016 7:46 AM, PST

Who ever thought you'd have to make the case for "Star Wars" winning the VFX Oscar? But with all the buzz surrounding "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Revenant" bear, which earned three additional Ves awards for Ilm, there are no guarantees. And that's the point: Ilm has done such outstanding photo-real work on the J.J. Abrams' record-breaking "Star Wars" reboot — zeroing in on $2 billion worldwide at the box office — that there might be a tendency to take the work for granted. Read More: "'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Seizes VFX Oscar Momentum" But, as Ilm has pointed out, "Star Wars" is part of its DNA and it changed the VFX industry. Besides, there's so much to admire about Ilm's accomplishment with "The Force Awakens": You’ve got realistic simulations and artistic-looking explosions for two great action sequences (the Millennium Falcon chase on Jakku and the attack on Maz's castle. »


- Bill Desowitz

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Sun Valley Film Festival Slate Features 'The Man Who Knew Infinity,' 'I Saw the Light' (Exclusive)

5 February 2016 5:20 AM, PST

This year's lineup also includes several favorites from the festival circuit, such as Trey Edward Shults' 2015 SXSW prizewinner "Krisha," Joachim Trier's Cannes competition entry "Louder Than Bombs," Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic "Miles Ahead," and popular Sundance 2016 selection "The Fits." Sony Pictures Classics' delayed "I Saw the Light," starring Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, will close the festival in advance of its March 25 theatrical release. Read More: "Tiff: In Defense of the Conventional Movie, from 'Spotlight' to 'The Man Who Knew Infinity'"   In addition to screening more than 60 films in all, Svff will see the return of the festival's popular Coffee Talks with industry insiders, including filmmaker Oliver Stone — recipient of the 2016 Svff Lifetime Vision Award — as well as a Screenwriters Lab led by Mark Duplass and Nat Faxon. Additional »


- Matt Brennan

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Why George Miller Should Win DGA Award and Directing Oscar for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

4 February 2016 1:58 PM, PST

When it comes to the Academy Awards, voters tend to think highbrow. They like to represent the best, most humane, classiest version of themselves. But don't forget the Steak Eaters. The Academy is full of them—they're red-blooded males (not just American), often directors, writers and craftspeople. They're the guys who voted for "Argo," "The Silence of the Lambs," "Braveheart," "Gladiator," "Avatar," and yes, "Crash" over "Brokeback Mountain." "They vote for big movies that make big money, good solid moviemaking with great actors and good storytelling," one veteran Oscar campaigner told me. Last year this faction of the Academy voted for such mainstream hits as Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper." And this year the Steak Eaters —and many women Oscar voters as well—came through for "Mad Max: Fury Road" with 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, as they »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch Slamdance Selections 'Coming To' and 'Courtesan,' Thanks to Digital Bolex and Seed&Spark (Exclusive)

4 February 2016 1:04 PM, PST

Digital Bolex launched a new distribution initiative for filmmakers shooting on its cameras Thursday, making 2015 Slamdance titles "Coming To," directed by Lindsay Haun, and "Courtesan," from Jeremy Osbern and Misti Boland, available on VOD via partner Seed&Spark. The films can be purchased for $2.99, or by using "Sparks" collected from pledging funds to Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaigns.  Read More: "Exclusive: Film Crowdfunding Platform Seed&Spark Launches Distribution Arm"  Haun's film won the Grand Prize at at the 2015 Fearless Filmmaking showcase, developed in partnership with Slamdance to encourage Digital Bolex owners and festival alumni to create "rebellious" films, and she joined Osbern, Boland, Paste Magazine editor Michael Dunaway, cinematographer Ben Kasulke, and director Leah Shore on the jury for this year's showcase — where the award went to Hilary Campbell's "Small »


- Matt Brennan

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Watch: Super Bowl Movie Spots and Star-Studded Ads

4 February 2016 11:53 AM, PST

Hollywood isn't shying away from the steep cost of Super Bowl ads this year — up to $5 million for a 30-second spot, per CBS president, CEO, and now board chair Les Moonves — as Disney, Fox, and Universal attempt to reach the biggest TV audience of the year. Last year's Super Bowl attracted an average of 114.4 million viewers, or more than six times that of TV's current top-rated scripted series, "NCIS" (17.5 million).  Read More: "Sumner Redstone Has Finally Resigned from CBS Corp. and Viacom, Replaced by CBS Chief Les Moonves and Viacom's Philippe Dauman" In the ad for "Eddie the Eagle" (20th Century Fox, Feb. 26), the "secret" Sundance title starring Taron Egerton as intrepid British ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards, NFL stars Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Kurt Warner praise the inspirational, true-life sports drama, comparing it to "Hoosiers," "Rudy," and "Remember the Titans." The »


- Matt Brennan

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Universal Rejiggers Its Specialty Division Again

4 February 2016 11:27 AM, PST

Submitting to the inevitable—that replacing Focus Features CEO James Schamus with Peter Schlessel was an experiment that never gelled—Universal Pictures is merging Focus with its Universal Pictures International Productions (Upip). The idea seems to be that specialty production and acquisitions are a global enterprise, and combining resources will fashion a stronger entity able to leverage Universal's worldwide distribution machine with local language and English-language production and territorial acquisitions around the world. Current Managing Director of Upip Peter Kujawski, who started as Schamus's assistant at Good Machine and moved from Focus to Upip, is now the new Chairman of the global Unit, with London-based Upip Co-Managing Director Robert Walak as President (a grad of the Weinstein Co., and UK's Momentum), and Universal Pictures’ Executive Vice President of Film Strategy Abhijay Prakash as Chief Operating Officer. Schlessel will exit April »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Spike Lee on His Blistering Film 'Chi-Raq,' Now Available on Amazon Prime

4 February 2016 10:38 AM, PST

For Amazon Studios' first original movie release, they agreed to finance Spike Lee's rhyming reworking of Aristophanes' classic Lysistrata, "Chi-Raq" (Lionsgate/Roadside, December 4), betting that the Brooklyn filmmaker was back in his agit-prop sweet spot from the days of "She's Gotta Have It," "Do the Right Thing" and "Bamboozled."  Indeed, "Chi-Raq" is ripped from the headlines of violence between young black males on Chicago's South Side. It's what you expect from Lee: vibrant, lively, idiosyncratic, engaging, musical, chaotic and bombastic. It's never dull. Dapper Samuel L. Jackson serves as the film's narrator/Mc/Greek chorus, as we follow wondrous beauty Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris of "Dear White People"), who loves her raucous sex with her gangsta man Chi-Raq ("Drumline" star Nick Cannon), but hates the gun violence his posse wrecks on the people of their neighborhood. Lee »


- Anne Thompson

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Oscars: Evaluating the Best Editing Nominees

4 February 2016 9:58 AM, PST

1. "Mad Max: Fury Road": Ace winner Margaret Sixel became the ultimate problem solver in cutting husband George Miller's ambitious return to his post-apocalyptic wasteland. It was rhythmically challenging going from intense action to slower, more poetic moments. But the centerpiece is the 18-minute climactic race in the desert landscape of southwest Africa between the War Rig and War Boy's vehicles. Miller's mandate was to center the frame at all times, and Sixel had to cut fast yet maintain a seamless, continuous action so we're never confused. The result is a powerful and immersive visual masterpiece. Read More: "How They Edited the Oscar-Nominated 'Mad Max: Fury Road'"  2. "The Big Short": Hank Corwin, the other Ace winner, created just the right frantic mood in conveying Adam McKay's brilliant black comedy about the bursting of the housing market in 2008. He not only had to make such complicated economics understandable, »


- Bill Desowitz

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Watch: Alex Gibney and 'Omnivore's Dilemma' Author Michael Pollan Honor Culinary Tradition in Netflix's 'Cooked'

4 February 2016 9:25 AM, PST

In Netflix's "Cooked," from the ever-prolific Alex Gibney's Jigsaw Productions, bestselling author Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma," "In Defense of Food") travels the globe in search of the nourishing, soulful cuisine that's been lost in the age of mass-produced food. From Western Australia to Pollan's Berkeley, Calif. kitchen, the four-part docuseries — arranged around the themes of fire, water, air, and earth — covers as much ground as the streaming service's terrific "Chef's Table," which recounts the careers of six world-renowned chefs. But "Cooked" is more interested in homemade food than haute cuisine, focusing on techniques and practices that utilize local, fresh, unprocessed ingredients. "When you let a corporation cook your food," Pollan warns, "they cook differently than people do." With roasted lizards and cheesemaking nuns, Pollan drives home the surprising pleasures that coexist with his »


- Matt Brennan

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Sumner Redstone Has Finally Resigned from CBS Corp. and Viacom, Replaced by CBS Chief Les Moonves and Viacom's Philippe Dauman

3 February 2016 2:21 PM, PST

There was a time when I would have bet on billionaire Sumner Redstone—who survived a hotel fire by hanging onto a ledge with his burning hand until he was rescued—to win any game of "Survivor," well into his 80s. But even this wily media mogul, who started in Boston exhibition and until Tuesday wielded control of two empires, thriving CBS and struggling Viacom—including Paramount Pictures, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon—couldn't outsmart time. His age, 92, finally caught up with him, as his handlers tried to keep him away from reporters and cameras. He could barely speak at this point, and had stopped participating in Viacom and CBS earnings calls or annual shareholder meetings for over a year. The problem is that while Redstone has insisted that "I am not going to die," his senior executives, led by 60ish CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, »


- Anne Thompson

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How Sony Pictures Classics Picked Up Four Pictures at Sundance

3 February 2016 2:01 PM, PST

Sony Pictures Classics did not sit on the Sundance sidelines as Amazon and Netflix gobbled up media attention. They left this year's fest with four films to fill out their 2016 release slate, not to mention the two high-profile movies they showcased at the fest, Don Cheadle's jazzy bio-portrait "Miles Ahead" (April 1)— which they picked up for the world after it was scheduled to close the New York Film Festival— and Rebecca Miller's romantic triangle comedy "Maggie's Plan" (May 20), starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore as brainy and confused New York academics. Watch: 'Maggie's Plan' Director Rebecca Miller on Finding Herself Through Her Films At Sundance, Barker and Bernard snapped up worldwide rights to Meera Menon's Wall Street drama "Equity," which features "Breaking Bad" star Anna Gunn as a high-powered senior investment banker who is trying to come out ahead on a controversial Ipo »


- Anne Thompson

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'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies': World War Zzzzzs (Review & Roundup)

3 February 2016 1:23 PM, PST

The Shaolin-trained swordswomen of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" — none other than the five Bennet sisters of Jane Austen's 1813 novel — never attend a ball unprepared. Knives sheathed under their elaborate gowns, the Bennets are as skilled in the art of war as the art of dance, and they eradicate an infestation of zombies at the wealthy, handsome Mr. Bingley's sprawling estate without batting an eyelash (or busting out of their corsets, for that matter). If only Burr Steers' adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's bestselling curio were as quick on its feet as its battalion of heroines: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" holds out the promise of an energetic quadrille, but it staggers along like the undead. In the aftermath of a barely contained zombie plague — explained in the opening credits' lovely "Illustrated History," reminiscent of a pop-up book — the residents of Regency England come out from hiding to hold dances and arrange marriages, »


- Matt Brennan

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