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Doc NYC Reveals 2014 Award Winners

1 hour ago

From November 13-20 throughout Manhattan, this year's edition boasted 92 feature-length docs, including 20 world premieres and eight Us premieres, and many films vying for awards this season. Three awards juries selected films from each of the festival’s Viewfinders, Metropolis and Shorts programs to recognize for their outstanding achievements in form and content. Festival audiences voted for the SundanceNow Doc Club Audience Award. Viewfinders Competition: The jury selected from among ten films in this section, chosen by the programmers for their distinct directorial visions. Grand Jury Prize Winner "Cairo Drive," directed by Sherief Elkatsha, explores Cairo from the street level through the perspectives of its drivers, who represent a cross section of Egyptians trying to make their way through a country fraying at its edges. Metropolis Competition: The jury selected from among nine films in this section, which showcases films that exemplify the diverse range of stories »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: The Best of Mike Nichols and Interview Videos

4 hours ago

Mike Nichols, who left us unexpectedly on Thursday at age 83, was that rare great director who excelled at every medium: the stage (he won nine Tonys, including Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing,"  the recent revival of "Death of a Salesman" and Monty Python's "Spamalot"), television ("Wit," "Angels in America") and Hollywood movies ("The Graduate" and "Silkwood" to name a few). That's the thing. He is a reminder of how far we have come from the days when the studios churned out --routinely--multiple dramas and comedies and many other genres aimed at adults.  He started out with some of his best work: "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and "The Graduate," but kept his quality high within the system, and stars yearned to work him him because he brought out their best with wit and verve. He never lost touch with zeitgeist. That was his gift. (The »


- TOH!

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Todd Miller's Moving, Provocative Oscar Doc Contender 'Dinosaur 13' Coming to CNN

4 hours ago

Over the film’s near two-hour running time, we come to understand that to paleontologist Peter Larson -- who with his team in 1990 discovered the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in archeological history, named it Sue, and then became embroiled in a lengthy, well, “custody” battle over her -- this dinosaur is a child he loves very much. He certainly grieves when he loses her. The doc begins in the badlands of South Dakota, where Sue was discovered by Larson’s teammate Susan Hendrickson (thus becoming the dino’s namesake). Using archival footage that would ultimately become instrumental in the court case, we watch the paleontological team sweat it out in 115-degree heat, chipping, digging and brushing away at the site until Sue, in all her 80-percent-complete glory, is excavated. Because Miller shows the meticulous care it takes to get Sue out of the ground, cleaned off, and put on »


- Beth Hanna

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Foreign Oscar Pick 'Gospel of the Flesh' Confronts Peruvian Life (Trailer)

4 hours ago

A kind of "Amores Perros" for the city of Lima, director Eduardo Mendoza de Echave's "The Gospel of the Flesh" is Peru's submission for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. Here's the synopsis:  Undercover cop Gamarra’s desperate attempts to save his wife from a terminal illness gets him into trouble; bus driver Felix wants to be accepted into a religious sect after his involvement in a tragic traffic accident; and imperiled soccer club leader Narciso tries to secure his younger brother’s release from prison. The film has yet to be distributed in the Us but is currently screening for the Academy. Foreign language Oscar voters are faced with a record-setting 83 titles this year. Through December 15, volunteer members from all branches' highest vote-getters will fill six slots after which an executive committee hand-picked by Mark Johnson will pick three, creating a Foreign Language shortlist of nine films total before »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Ten Live Action Shorts Have Landed for the Oscar Shortlist

5 hours ago

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies: “Aya,” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, directors (Chasis Films) “Baghdad Messi,” Sahim Omar Kalifa, director, and Kobe Van Steenberghe, producer (a team productions) “Boogaloo and Graham,” Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, writer (Out of Orbit) “Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak),” Hu Wei, director, and Julien Féret, producer (Ama Productions) “Carry On,” Yatao Li, director (Rochester Institute of Technology) “My Father’s Truck,” Maurício Osaki, director (Lupi Filmes) “Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, director, and Stefan Eichenberger, producer (Zurich University of Arts) “The Phone Call,” Mat Kirkby, director, and James Lucas, writer (Rsa Films) “Slr,” Stephen Fingleton, director, and Matthew James Wilkinson, producer (Stigma Films) “Summer Vacation (Chofesh Gadol),” Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon, directors (GREENproductions)The Academy’s Short Films and Feature »


- Anne Thompson

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First Look: Fest Hit 'Medeas' Takes on Classic Greek Tragedy, Stars Catalina Sandino Moreno

5 hours ago

Offering a contemporary twist on the infamous Greek tragedy "Medea," "Medeas" is the directorial debut of Italian-born filmmaker Andrea Pallaoro starring Best Actress Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno ("Maria Full of Grace," and in this year's "A Most Violent Year") and Brian F. O'Byrne ("Million Dollar Baby"). Here's the synopsis: An intimate portrait of a rural family’s inner lives and their relationship to a harsh and shifting landscape. Ennis, a stern, hard-working dairy farmer struggles to maintain control of his family and surrounding environment, while his wife, Christina, retreats into herself, progressively disconnecting from him an their five children. As tensions increase, each character must confront their yearnings and anxieties, culminating in a dangerous conflict between control and freedom, intimacy, and alienation. The director, who takes visual inspiration from Malick and Antonioni, picked up the Best Innovative »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Assessing Seven Animated Feature Oscar Contenders

8 hours ago

With Pixar sitting this year out, the animation Oscar race is not only totally wide open but there's still no clear frontrunner among the big studio three (Disney's "Big Hero 6," DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon 2," and Warner Bros.' "The Lego Movie"). That leaves "The Boxtrolls" from stop-motion powerhouse Laika and Focus Features, Fox/Reel FX's "The Book of Life," and two Gkids indies -- "Song of the Sea" from the Irish Cartoon Saloon and "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" from Studio Ghibli -- as the other likely contenders also vying for the five nominations.  Since the Academy's animation committee adores hand-drawn animation, you can bet there'll be a place open for one or both of the Gkids. Then again, the committee also likes stop-motion, and how can you deny Jorge Gutierrez's imaginative and heart-warming "Day of the Dead" tribute (nurtured by producer Guillermo del. »


- Bill Desowitz

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Watch: Stanley Kubrick Supercut Shows His Obsession with the Color Red

8 hours ago

Few directors' oeuvres are as meme-able as the films of Stanley Kubrick, whose obsession with using the color red to dramatic effect is shown in this nifty supercut below (via Vimeo user Rishi Kaneria). The wall-to-wall blood reds of "The Shining" are, of course, unforgettable, as is the foreboding set design in the wild orgy sequence of "Eyes Wide Shut." But we also get to see how crimson colors work in "A Clockwork Orange," "Spartacus," "2001" and "Full Metal Jacket": never without purpose or visual beauty. Los Angeles moviegoers can catch "2001" on the big screen at the Egyptian Theatre later this month. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Don't Count 'Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me' Out of This Year's Doc Awards Race

9 hours ago

Last year, the final five included “The Act of Killing” and “The Square,” two films that deserve to be on anyone’s must-see list of recent nonfiction; the film that won was the feel-good “20 Feet from Stardom,” a film with plenty of musical distractions but which wasn’t even sure what it wanted to be. (A celebration of backup singers? Or a whine about why they weren’t stars?) The year before, doc voters got to to choose between “5 Broken Cameras,” the essential “How to Survive a Plague,” “The Gatekeepers” and “The Invisible War.” And they gave it to the feel-good “Searching for Sugarman,” a movie whose big reveal wasn’t a reveal at all and which was the limpest entry in the field. This year? “It’s Citizenfour, right?” people have said. “How can it lose?” Don’t make us laugh. Laura Poitras’ movie about Edward Snowden and domestic »


- John Anderson

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Watch: Oscar Contender Felicity Jones in Pivotal 'Theory of Everything' Clip

19 November 2014 3:57 PM, PST

Jones plays a young university student so in love with blossoming brainy scientist Stephen Hawking that she insists on marrying him and seeing him through a devastating and potentially lethal illness. Except that he lives. And despite the paralyzing ravages of Als, Hawking becomes a hugely successful physicist, perhaps the most famous in the world, thanks to this extraordinary woman who uses her wits and agility to become an extension of her husband. She literally saves his life. Read: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones Reveal Terrors Filming "The Theory of Everything" But she also takes on more than she bargained for. Director James Marsh wanted to do this slice of the Hawkings' life because of the complexity of balancing the dynamics in this marriage. Stephen Hawking is not the center of this film, he argues: "Jane is an equally fascinating character. We met Jane. She is a strong resourceful woman »


- Anne Thompson

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Questions We Have About Disney's 'Cinderella' (Trailer)

19 November 2014 2:26 PM, PST

Director: Kenneth Branagh is a strong filmmaker, from "Dead Again" to Shakespeare to "Thor." "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" was not his finest hour. So he may be ready to redeem himself with something really good. There's more leeway with fairy tale family fare.  Producers: Alison Shearmur (ex-studio executive), David Barron ("Harry Potter"production manager) and Simon Kinberg ("X-Men" writer-producer) have solid mainstream studio credits. Cast: Lily James ("Downton Abbey") and Richard Madden ("Game of Thrones") are strong as the two romantic leads, while we can't complain about Wicked Stepmother Cate Blanchett or Fairy Godmother Helena Bonham Carter, who can handle anything.  Writer: Aline Brosh McKenna is a veteran studio screenwriter, from "The Devil Wears Prada" to "We Bought a Zoo." But it's always tough to know who did what; Chris Weitz ("About a Boy," "Golden »


- Anne Thompson

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Oscar Doc Hopeful 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper' Provokes with Irritating Honesty

19 November 2014 2:07 PM, PST

There’s always been something irritatingly honest about Nick Broomfield’s documentaries, even when they’re not delivering what they’ve promised --- Margaret Thatcher, just for instance, who was never quite tracked down in “Tracking Down Maggie” back in 1994. But in his explorations of Extreme Americana -- exemplified by “Heidi Fleiss,” “Kurt & Courtney” and/or his two films on serial killer Aileen Wuornos -- he’s always an unabashedly goggle-eyed guest engaged in documentary tourism, who invades his own films, uses what he can get, glosses over what he can’t, but usually manages to peel a few scabs off the mottled surface of our national psyche, and psychoses. What the English director does in “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” is take a truism – that the Lapd’s relationship with the city’s minority communities historically sucks – and establish a story of lethal malpractice. When sometime-car-thief Lonnie Franklin was arrested in 2010 (and, »


- John Anderson

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Chris Pine vs. Chris Pratt: Divergent Paths to Stardom

19 November 2014 2:02 PM, PST

Both have shown they have  the power to propel blockbusters to box-office success  – Pine in the tricky relaunch of the  “Star Trek” franchise and Pratt in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  Interesting, then, that 2009 proved to be a breakout year for both charismatic actors: Pine made his debut as the young Capt. James T. Kirk (a role that Pratt auditioned for) in his first Trek outing; and Pratt began his ongoing run on the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” as likable lug Andy Wyatt, a part that originally was only supposed to last one season but turned into a regular gig.  But Pratt, 35, and Pine, 34, currently find themselves at distinctly different crossroads in their careers at the moment. Pratt is enjoying  -- what else? -- an awesome 2014, having  headlined the year’s  top-grossing movie thus far as Star-Lord aka Peter Quill, the human-alien hybrid with plenty of Han Solo »


- Susan Wloszczyna

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For Your Consideration: 'Evolution of a Criminal' Is a Must-See Oscar Doc Contender

19 November 2014 1:17 PM, PST

"Evolution of a Criminal" is a documentary and a provocation, a movie and a bitter truth to swallow. First-time filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe returns to the scene of a crime he committed ten years ago in this docu-confession that subtly raises questions about how harsh economic realities in certain pockets of the Us turn young people into lawbreakers. Monroe not only has an urgent story he needs to tell, involving a bank robbery he committed with two friends at the age of 16, he's also an exceptionally gifted filmmaker who finds novel ways to recreate, and evoke, his past mistakes. "Evolution" layers interviews alongside Monroe's door-to-door catharsis quest, or something like it, as he tracks down the people affected by the robbery to ask for forgiveness. And, in effect, to put a rather banal face on what the law deemed a hideous crime. Monroe's family—including a loving mother, doting grandmother »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Oscar Doc Contender 'Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia' Shows the Literary Lion's Intimate Side

19 November 2014 12:42 PM, PST

Nicholas Wrathall met Gore Vidal for the first time at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They had brunch on an Easter Sunday while a life-size bunny gallivanted about the restaurant -- a "surreal" experience, according to the director -- but quickly connected over a discussion about the politics of Wrathall’s native Australia. Wrathall's debut feature, the documentary "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia," opened in summer 2014 with distribution by IFC Films. The project began in earnest in 2005, when Burr Steers, Vidal’s nephew (as well as a producer on the film), told his friend Wrathall that the writer would be moving out of the home in Ravello, Italy that he had shared with his longtime companion Howard Austen since 1972. Wrathall jumped on a plane for Europe, filming Vidal’s farewell to his beloved Villa La Rondinaia and the beautiful Amalfi town around it. It took almost ten years for Wrathall to finish "Gore Vidal, »


- Jacob Combs

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Watch: Jon Stewart Crushes on Benedict Cumberbatch on 'The Daily Show'

19 November 2014 11:42 AM, PST

Benedict Cumberbatch is having quite the year with "The Imitation Game." Last night, the Brit heartthrob appeared on "The Daily Show," where host Jon Stewart not only facilitated an intelligent discussion on the Oscar-contending film, but also admitted his admiration for the star. "I want to rip your clothes [off] and sell [them] on eBay," Stewart told Cumberbatch at one point. And later: "If you were to go on the Internet and oil up your backside and bare it, in a Kardashian-like pose, this planet could end." That may well be true. Cumberbatch, an Academy Award frontrunner for his moving performance as gay WWII-era code-cracker Alan Turing, is pretty much the biggest star in the world right now. "Imitation Game" hits theaters November 28. Meanwhile, Stewart's directorial debut "Rosewater" is now in theaters. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Asghar Farhadi's 2009 'About Elly' Finally Nabs Us Release

19 November 2014 10:06 AM, PST

Yet another mystery from the acclaimed Iranian director of "A Separation" and "The Past," "About Elly" will open in theaters on April 8, 2015 via Cinema Guild at New York's Film Forum, with a national release to follow. Here's the synopsis: With the return of their friend Ahmad from Germany, a group of old college pals (two married couples and a brother and sister, along with three young kids) decide to reunite for a weekend outing by the Caspian Sea. The fun starts right away as they quickly catch on to the plan of lively Sepideh, who has brought along Elly, her daughter’s kindergarten teacher, in hopes of setting her up with recently divorced Ahmad. But seemingly trivial lies, which start accumulating from the moment the group arrives at the seashore, suddenly swing round and come back full force when one afternoon Elly suddenly vanishes. Her mysterious disappearance sets in motion »

- Ryan Lattanzio

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Inside the Making of 'Theory of Everything,' From Prosthetics to Big Bangs and More (Video)

19 November 2014 8:47 AM, PST

Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) was up against a ticking clock in his struggle with the cosmos, Als, and his soul mate, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). The film's Oscar-buzzy crafts convey thought-provoking metaphors, not the least of which is how his mind expands while his body deteriorates. "It was important to find the end look of Eddie in the wheelchair because I already knew what I would do to make Eddie look like the young Stephen Hawking," explained hair, makeup and prosthetic designer Jan Sewell. "If I got the two ends, then I could do my timeline. I did a head cast and a mouth cast of Eddie, who I worked with previously on 'Les Miserables.' I needed to get mouthpieces and teeth made to get the effect of his jaw dropping. Eddie worked with movement coach Alex Reynolds and figured out how he was going to twist his body and head. »


- Bill Desowitz

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How to Grow a Film Festival, Despite a Hurricane

19 November 2014 4:25 AM, PST

In its third go-round, despite the September 14 ravages of Hurricane Odile, Los Cabos International Film Festival is on track to become a functional festival, getaway and market for Latin American co-productions with partners in Mexico, Canada and Hollywood. Actually, while there were tarps on battered rooftops, pitted streets, twisted trees and constant banging construction, Cabo San Lucas seemed to be up and running--with fewer tourists, which meant easy access to less crowded beaches and excellent seafood restaurants.   Here's what this festival did right. 1. Get backing from a real estate mogul who owns hotels in a tourist destination. In this case, Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo), considered among Mexico's top five tourist spots, sit at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Sur peninsula. Most of the tourists on the plane were going fishing, snorkeling or scuba-diving in the still-rich Baja waters. A well-stocked bar sits curbside. »

- Anne Thompson

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Steve McQueen Reveals His Next Feature Film Project

18 November 2014 4:35 PM, PST

"12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen's next feature film will be about black American icon Paul Robeson, as revealed in The Guardian today. McQueen, who won the Best Picture Oscar for "12 Years" earlier this year, said this is the dream movie he wanted to make after the brutal Ira striker drama "Hunger" (2008). "But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice," he told a New York audience at the Hidden Heroes awards, honoring civil rights activists murdered by the Kkk in the 1960s. McQueen has wanted to tell the story of Robeson— singer, actor and activist whose father escaped slavery and who shepherded anti-imperialist movements that landed on the McCarthy blacklist—since he was a teenager. One of the director's previous artworks, a digitally projected ream of documents entitled "End Credits," tributed Robeson in 2012. Recent Governors Awards honoree Harry Belafonte is apparently involved in the Robeson film. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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