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Britannia Awards Are Popular Stop on Awards Circuit

5 hours ago

The trick with these awards shows is to pick well in advance among the likely awards contenders and get them to show up--and their studios to buy tables--during the height of the awards campaign season.  Inevitably with the long lead time some misjudgments occur. The night's biggest star, accepting the Kubrick excellence award, was Robert Downey, Jr., whose "The Judge" did not sail with critics. Gaining better reviews was Robert Duvall, who attended the fete and was duly congratulated by Downey during his meandering awards speech.  "Sometimes I can't get enough of myself," said Downey. Indeed. These shows allow for other contenders to get some valuable red carpet and charm time in the spotlight--hence the presence of "The Theory of Everything" stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as presenters, and attendees from such contenders as "The Imitation Game" and "How to Train Your Dragon »


- Anne Thompson

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Documentary Voters Must Sift Through 134 Features, Changing Viewing Rules

6 hours ago

Over the past two years the members were on their own, picking and choosing among the titles they were sent over the course of the year. That was Michael Moore's controversial rule change. The results were two excellent shortlists of 15 features, the best in years.  This year the branch returned to a version of the old rules, demanding that out of each packet the members screen a designated 20% and watch the rest as they have time. The branch leaders were afraid that some poor little movie would be left behind. (That old voting process yielded major films from the likes of Steve James, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog being ignored.) Many voters are furious because they would rather use their own smarts and experience to judge the films that must be watched. "Detropia" and "Waiting Room" are among the films that made the shortlists in the last two years. »


- Anne Thompson

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Why Theaters Are Refusing to Book Godard's Moneymaking 3D 'Goodbye to Language'

7 hours ago

"Goodbye to Language" grossed $11,448 in two New York theaters in its first two days after opening Wednesday. With a per screen average for $5,724, it beat films with far higher ad buys and advance theater bookings from companies such as Fox Searchlight ("Dom Hemingway"), Sony Pictures Classics ("Kill Your Darlings"), Cohen Media ("My Old Lady") and Paramount ("Men, Women and Children") over the past year. "Goodbye to Language" was topped by Weinstein's "Yves Saint Laurent"--just barely.   NPR's story on the film details the way Godard playfully expands the use of 3D with never before seen effects. That's why there's so much interest in seeing it.  Here are the reasons key big-city theaters aren't booking it.  1. It's a Godard film.  Exhibitors are shying away from Jean-Luc Godard and the challenging nature of the film, despite its Cannes pedigree and critical acclaim. It's »


- Tom Brueggemann

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'Selma' Looks to Build Awards Buzz via AFI Fest First Look

8 hours ago

How do you gain media buzz during a crowded awards race when your movie isn't finished yet? Both Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount are solving that problem by screening footage of their incomplete movies. Fox has invited media over to the lot to see 37 minutes from the Bible epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (december 11) starring Christian Bale (who participated in one Q & A) and Joel Edgerton as Moses and Ramses, respectively, hosted on video by director Ridley Scott. The CG-enhanced battles and settings were stunning indeed. But we still need to see how the entire movie plays to know whether it crosses over from commercial holiday fare to an awards contender like Scott's Best Picture-winner "Gladiator." And on Tuesday, November 11 at the Egyptian Theatre, Paramount is showing a 30-minute First Look at Ava DuVernay's period biopic "Selma" (December 25) starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, »


- Anne Thompson

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With Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, the Female Superhero Strikes Back

9 hours ago

This led to Sony entering the female fray with a Spider-Man spinoff scripted by Lisa Joy ("Burn Notice," "Pushing Daisies"). No confirmation yet if it's Spider-Woman, but it's a significant development. And this week industry leader Marvel, with plenty of female superheroes to choose from, finally announced its own own female counter-attack by turning the spotlight on Captain Marvel, aka Major Carol Danvers (coming July 6, 2018). Who will Marvel cast as its first leading female superhero? Let the best action actress win. We still don't know the fate of a Marvel feature starring Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow (Nicole Perlman, who plucked "Guardians of the Galaxy" out of Marvel's bin of second tier comics, turned in a treatment in 2011). Fan pressure has been mounting ever since Black Widow become an important fixture of The Avengers. She's busting to break out on her own. The timing couldn't be better and »


- Bill Desowitz

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Meet the Woman Behind That Evil Hobo in 'Mulholland Drive'

9 hours ago

"Mulholland Drive" revisitations abound this Halloween week, as bloggers want to reclaim the film's status as a truly great 21st century horror movie. But the standout of the pack is a Vulture interview with actress Bonnie Aarons, a.k.a the scary bum behind Winkie's Diner in the film's hallucinatory early scenes. (A plum role, if you ask me.) This nifty Q&A takes a hilarious turn. Aarons reveals that the soul-snatching look she gives actor Patrick Fischler, whose character is being dictated by a dream he had, was actually just her batting come-hither sex eyes at David Lynch. Who she says is "really hot." (Watch the scene below.) From Vulture: Did David instruct you to do different expressions on different takes? Oh, no. He had an idea of what he wanted. David was going over the facial expressions. I did a couple, and he’s sitting there with me, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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How 'Point and Shoot' Went from Elaborate Selfie to Doc Awards Contender

11 hours ago

“Halloween may not be a great night to open a movie,” says documentarian Marshall Curry, “but the Hollywood Reporter did call it a ‘nonfiction thriller’ so I’ve been telling people it’s appropriate.” The appropriate movie is “Point and Shoot,” Curry’s multi-layered Mideast adventure-cum-cultural-critique on which he served as a kind of ghost writer with attitude: It was Matt VanDyke -- American adventurer, soldier-of-fortune, partisan in the Libyan War, Pow -- who brought back the footage that makes up “Point and Shoot,” and who turned a fascination with Arabia into a motorcycle trip from Europe to Africa; sojourns in various hotspots; a term as a freelance war correspondent embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, and, almost immediately upon his return to the United States, a return to Libya to help his friends fight their war. But it was Curry who turned VanDyke’s remarkable footage into a movie with intellectual heft, »


- John Anderson

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How 'Inherent Vice' & 'Nightcrawler' Dp Robert Elswit Captures the Pulse of La

14 hours ago

In award contenders "Nightcrawler" and "Inherent Vice," cinematographer Robert Elswit redefines L.A. as millennial noir and '70s counter-culture haven for first-time director Dan Gilroy and frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson, grabbing snapshots of who we are and the way we were. Gilroy's low-budget indie (made for $4.5 million and shot in five weeks) captures a nighttime Los Angeles we've not seen before. He avoided downtown and other iconic locales, and instead concentrated on the up and down geography from West Hollywood to the West Valley, where sociopath turned TV crime journalist Jake Gyllenhaal shoots his way to fame as a voyeur of grisly mayhem and murder. Newbie director and Oscar-winning Dp ("There Will Be Blood") prepped by driving around L.A. to efficiently incorporate 44 locations. "It all came from Danny [Gilroy]," explains Elswit, who previously collaborated with Gilroy's brother, Tony, on "The »


- Bill Desowitz

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Cinema Eye Advances 15 Documentary Awards Contenders

30 October 2014 4:46 PM, PDT

Thus, the refreshingly eclectic Cinema Eye annual Unforgettables were revealed Thursday, a day after the International Documentary Association unveiled its own 2014 nominations. The list honors the year's best in documentary films, and their subjets. There's overlap across the board, but several of the season's would-be award contenders left off Ida's list did make the Cinema Eye Unforgettables list: Sundance faves "The Overnighters," "E-Team" and "Life Itself" all got love from Cinema Eye. And a little love goes a long way. As more and more high quality documentaries are made each year, the Cinema Eye picks, along with Ida and Doc NYC other awards, become crucial in the next weeks, as the documentary branch of the Academy just received their last packet of screeners. Each member has to see 20% of the films--assigned to them by the branch--and then can see as many others as they can cram in. Thus the list below helps. »

- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones Reveal Terrors Filming 'Theory of Everything' (Exclusive Video)

30 October 2014 1:50 PM, PDT

Working Title producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are Oscar perennials ("Les Mis," "Atonement," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy," "Anna Karenina"). And they and their distributor, Universal's Focus Features, know they have a robust awards contender in "The Theory of Everything," the moving $18-million love story of Stephen and Jane Hawking, played by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Both are in the Oscar race, along with the film's director James Marsh (Oscar-winning doc "Man on Wire," "Shadow Dancer") and New Zealand-born screenwriter and Hawking obsessive Anthony McCarten, who nurtured for many years his adaptation of Jane Hawking's memoir "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hawking."  I interviewed Redmayne and Jones in Toronto right after their movie's rousing debut (video below). Focus chose to skip Venice, Telluride, New York and London fests in favor of the Tiff launch and a »


- Anne Thompson

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Revisiting 'The Blair Witch Project' 15 Years Later (Videos)

30 October 2014 1:19 PM, PDT

One of the things I like to do every year for Halloween is re-watch "The Blair Witch Project." 15 Years after it stormed Sundance, made crazy worldwide money and changed online movie marketing, the fact is, it's still simply one of the most agonizingly scary movies ever made. Horror was never the same again. The film's final image is an ultimate movie moment you never forget. And, in a feat of extraordinary method acting, Heather Donahue's infamous panic-stricken, on-camera snot-drippage rivals even Viola Davis, patron saint of nasal drippage. The folks over at The Dissolve seem to think so too, as they've given Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez's fake-umentary extra attention this week. It landed high on their list of the 30 Best American Indie Horror Movies, and film writer Mike D'Angelo an essay about the hype and hate for this cult horror classic about three film students who, while chasing a legend, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Agnès Varda Wins European Academy Prize: Where to Stream Her Films

30 October 2014 12:39 PM, PDT

Brush up on your Varda! The "Cléo from 5 to 7" director will receive the European Film Academy's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th European Film Awards on December 13 in Riga, Latvia. Known for her strongly voiced feminist filmmaking, genre-bending cinematic whimsy and, of course, her colorful choice in apparel, Varda has won a Carosse d'Or at Cannes, an honorary French Cesar award, a Golden Lion in Venice, Berlin's Silver Bear and a Pardo d'onore in Locarno, among many other prizes. She has directed narrative and documentary films. Her 1954 debut "La Pointe-Courte" precipitated a female perspective on the French New Wave. Stream the black-and-white film on Hulu now. Varda broke onto the scene again several years later with 1962's "Cléo from 5 to 7," starring the blonde and marvelous Corinne Marchand as a woman running out of time. The film remains a forebear of many visually minded filmmakers including Wes Anderson. Catch »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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The Real Life Drama of Spike Lee-Produced Doc 'Evolution of a Criminal'

30 October 2014 11:38 AM, PDT

Darius Clark Monroe was a straight-a honors student at a Houston high school until the morning in 1997 when, along with two companions, Pierre Murphy and Leroy “Trei” Callier III, he held up a Bank of America in nearby Stafford, Texas. Brandishing an unloaded shotgun, and disguised with Halloween masks, the neophyte bandits made off with $140,000 in cash. But Monroe didn’t get to enjoy his ill-gotten gain for every long. Four weeks after the crime, he was arrested. He was 16 years old at the time. Artfully entwining dramatic re-creations, archival photos and footage, blunt-spoken narration, and interviews with many participants (ranging from Monroe’s mother and stepfather to the  assistant D.A. who prosecuted his case) in this real-life tale of crime and punishment, Monroe has fashioned a uniquely fascinating and pitilessly self-critical film that serves as both a cautionary object lesson and a heartfelt plea for forgiveness. (We actually see Monroe tracking down. »


- Joe Leydon

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Follow a Stanford Grad on the Campaign Trail in the Documentary 'True Son' (Exclusive Clip)

30 October 2014 11:14 AM, PDT

In the crime-ravaged city of Stockton, one 22-year-old wanted to make a difference. Watch an inspiring exclusive clip from "True Son," which follows Stanford graduate Michael Tubbs’ campaign for Stockton, CA city council in a year of financial ruin and a rising homicide rate. Born in Stockton to a teen mother and jailed father, Michael rallies the youth of Stockton to help. "True Son" chronicles that journey to win a seat on city council and reinvent Stockton. Village Voice says that this Tribeca doc, directed by Kevin Gordon, "manages to be buoyant even as its setting, Stockton, California, sinks around it." It opens in NY on 10/31 and in La on 11/7. Trailer is here. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Wanted Man Roman Polanski Escapes Arrest in Poland

30 October 2014 10:39 AM, PDT

The circuitous legal battle of Roman Polanski wages on. Here's what went down. Wanted by the Us since he left the country after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old in 1977, Roman Polanski was released by Polish officials who were questioning him after a Us attempt at extradition. American officials asked that Poland seize the "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" director while he was attending a Jewish museum opening in Warsaw. But after questioning Polanski, Poland let him off the hook. This is not Polanski's first arrest in Europe. In 2009 he was detained by Swiss police at Zurich Airport, also at the behest of Us officials. At that point, erstwhile Polish prime minister Donald Tusk reminded the nation that this is a case of statutory rape. In 2010, "Poland’s prosecutor general ruled that Polanski could not be extradited as too much time had passed since the offences [sic]," Variety reports. Now »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: New Clip from 'Interstellar,' On the Cover of Time This Week

30 October 2014 9:55 AM, PDT

It's not often you see a movie on the cover of Time, but here it is. All eyes are on "Interstellar" for the next few weeks. In the cover story, director Christopher Nolan and Oscar contenders Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain and co-star Anne Hathaway talk about the smart science behind the soon-to-be Hollywood blockbuster (go behind-the-scenes of the shoot). "Interstellar" opens Tuesday night, November 4, in 70mm, IMAX and 35mm screens: 4k digital and regular digital will play wide Friday, November 7. Read our Toh! review plus six reasons why the movie isn't a best picture slam dunk here. Our Q&A with Nolan, who reveals that he set out to make a modern-day "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," is here. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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'Life Itself' Director Steve James Gets Up Close with Roger Ebert at the End of His Life (Exclusive Video)

30 October 2014 9:33 AM, PDT

Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz enthusiastically embraced the idea of a documentary of his bestselling memoir "Life Itself," and wanted Chicago filmmaker Steve James, whose "Hoop Dreams" Ebert had discovered at Sundance 20 years ago, to direct it.  James found himself in an unusual situation as Ebert's health took a turn for the worse as he was filming, and Ebert and Chaz allowed the filmmaker access to the last weeks of Ebert's life in the hospital before he faded from view. Some of the close-ups on what was left of the critic's face and jaw are hard to take, as we watch him undergoing a rather unpleasant windpipe suction routine.  Some have suggested that we're still in the throes of grieving for a man many of us came to feel intimate with via print, television and the internet. Maybe this movie comes too soon? Ebert embraced the film »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: 'Snowpiercer' Star Tilda Swinton's Amazing Year with the Coolest Directors Alive (Exclusive Video)

30 October 2014 9:29 AM, PDT

Tilda Swinton is a brainy actress who swings easily from passion indie projects ("Orlando," "The Deep End," "Julia," "I Am Love," "The Zero Theorem") to studio fare, from arch-villains to objects of desire, and from devoted mother in the Scottish highlands to glamourous globe-trotting movie star.  Swinton's androgynous attributes, from Sally Potter's "Orlando" to Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer," are an asset for this chameleon. Her latest roles in "Snowpiercer" (which is now streaming on Netflix) and "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Wes Anderson's follow-up to "Moonrise Kingdom" (in which she also starred), are generating supporting actress awards talk. They both brought out the clown in her, she says in our video interview below at the Sunset Tower Hotel. She got a kick out of creating these face-distorting roles. She and Bong wanted to »


- Anne Thompson

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Sci-Fi 'Ex Machina' Starring Oscar Isaac Finally Lands Us Distribution (Trailer)

30 October 2014 9:27 AM, PDT

At long last, the yet-to-be-seen science fiction film "Ex Machina" has been picked up for Us distribution. A24 Films will release the film on April 10, 2015. Starring Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, this is the hotly buzzed-about Brit debut of Alex Garland, who has penned scripts for director Danny Boyle including "The Beach," "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine." Centered on a young programmer tapped to take part in a cutting-edge artificial intelligence experiment, "Ex Machina" has yet to land even at festivals (we hoped Fantastic Fest, but, alas) but is slated to premiere in the UK on January 23, 2015. Here's the official synopsis: Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company's brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Gets Release Date

29 October 2014 3:45 PM, PDT

Not so fast: Universal Pictures will release the Coen Brothers' show business comedy "Hail, Caesar!" on Friday, February 5, 2016. The movie starts filming in January 2015. The film stars George Clooney as Baird Whitlock, a 1950s Hollywood fixer who cleans up the messes of other movie stars. The film costars Ralph Fiennes, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton (who we interviewed here) and, according to IMDb, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill. Swinton says it's definitely a comedy.  Back in Winter 2013, in the days of "Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coens told us in our Q&A that "Caesar" is "about the movie business and life and religion and faith." The film will reunite the Coens with both Clooney -- who has starred in their more comedic fare including "O Brother Where Art Thou," "Burn After Reading" and "Intolerable Cruelty" -- and Brolin, who played Llewelyn Moss in "No Country For Old »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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