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Academy Names 2016 Oscars Producers

1 hour ago

As Toh! predicted, David Hill and Reginald Hudlin are the 2016 Oscar producers. This is their first involvement with the Academy Awards, airling live on ABC on Sunday, February 26, 2016. Under president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy is making sure that the 88th telecast will be a diverse one. Hill, formerly the senior executive vice president of 21st Century Fox, and Hudlin, Oscar-nominated producer on "Django Unchained," will have many elements to contend with in the footsteps of last year's showrunners Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, including the length of the show, tech and Governors Awards recaps and the various musical segues and monologues. Read More: The Academy Governors Do the Right Thing Here are full bios for the producers: An executive with the Fox group of companies for more than 25 years, Hill most recently served as the senior executive vice president of 21st Century Fox, overseeing programming, digital initiatives, and other opportunities on. »


- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio

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The Essential Films of Neil Labute, Canny Inquisitor of White People Problems

2 hours ago

Neil Labute aims at the angst and entitlement of yuppies like a kid with a magnifying glass, torturing ants. He writes and directs comedies where you're not really laughing: you're choking on your own discomfort as he pokes and prods the sexual crises of the bored, the rich, the spoiled, the middle-classed. Which is to say many of us. Cuckolds, man-babies and emotional eunuchs are some of the types you'll encounter in Labute's films, which are brazenly, specifically about the facade of the American hegemony, and the fictions it is barely concealing. You'd never known from his savagely charming and scabrous comedies that Labute is a lapsed Mormon who, before getting kicked out of the Church of Lds in the late-1990s for a deemed-to-be offensive off-Broadway play, started at Brigham Young, where he met one of his earliest screen co-conspirators, actor Aaron Eckhart. In Labute's cruelly funny film debut »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Documentary Awards Race Comes Into Focus with Fall Festivals

3 hours ago

As the film industry continues to churn out more and more high quality documentaries, the fall festivals are key curators and gatekeepers, winnowing through the rich offerings available these days. Press attention, reviews and award wins will push the leaders of the pack lucky enough to get a robust 2015 theatrical release into Oscar contention. The others will have to land distribution in time to book qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles. Docs already launched at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and Cannes have a head start. Read More: Oscar Predictions 2016 One powerful player in the doc world is Toronto and Doc NYC programmer Thom Powers, who also curates the SundanceNow Doc Club subscription series. Powers got on the phone to highlight some must-sees in the Tiff program. This year's Tiff documentary selection has expanded to 31 features, including the late-opening night world premiere from Michael Moore, "Where To Invade Next?"  "We haven't had this many since. »


- Anne Thompson

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SpectreVision to Present Keynote, Erotic Anime at Fantastic Fest

5 hours ago

Read More: Meet SpectreVision, Elijah Wood-Cofounded Genre Company Horror chums Wood, Noah and Waller will open the Fantastic Market with a keynote on September 24 on behalf of SpectreVision, the genre company they cofounded. Fantastic Fest's market platform is designed to highlight emerging projects from Spanish-speaking countries, which have been an area of interest for SpectreVision. Past projects include "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," "Cooties" and "Open Windows." Along with the keynote, they will world-premiere a restoration of the rarely seen 1973 Japanese erotic anime "Belladonna of Sadness," which looks as weird and Fantastic Fest-friendly as it sounds (trailer below.) The market runs from September 24 through September 26, 2015 in Austin, Texas alongside Fantastic Fest, which runs from September 24th to October 1st. Read More: Horror Junkies Elijah Wood and Nacho Vigalondo Break Ground in High-Concept 'Open Windows' »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Fox Searchlight Dates 'A Bigger Splash,' Starring Tilda Swinton, for 2016

5 hours ago

Fox Searchlight has dated "A Bigger Splash," director Luca Guadagnino's latest Mediterranean collaboration with Tilda Swinton after "I Am Love," to open stateside in limited release on May 13, 2016. The film, which wasn't ready for Cannes but landed a September 6th Venice premiere and a London slot and could show up in Telluride, is set on the volcanic island of Pantelleria, where rock legend Marianne Lane (Swinton) is languishing with partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) when an old flame and record producer (Ralph Fiennes) interrupts their holiday. He arrives with his daughter (Dakota Johnson) — and plenty of nostalgia and unfinished business. Read More: 'The Danish Girl' and 'A Bigger Splash' Join 'Everest' and 'Black Mass' at Venice Film Festival With "A Bigger Splash" out of 2015 awards play, Fox Searchlight will focus on building North American buzz for "Youth," "He Named Me Malala" and "Brooklyn," all running the »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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'Fifty Shades Darker' Taps James Foley, Submitting to the Male Gaze

6 hours ago

Universal has finally found a director for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" sequel to follow Sam Taylor-Johnson, who announced earlier this year that after tussles with powerful writer E.L. James she would not be returning. And yes, it's a man, ladies and gentlemen. Which marks a risk for Universal chairman Donna Langley, who has been overseeing this series from the start. Variety reports that Langley has offered director James Foley "Fifty Shades Darker," which reunites Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as the original's kinky lovers. And he directs a script by James’ husband, Niall Leonard, who presumably works closely with his producer/author wife.  James produces the high-stakes sequel with  Dana Brunetti and new Universal in-house producer Michael De Luca, who left his Sony production gig to join the house of Langley. She's on a roll this summer as the studio is enjoying record-breaking box office--"Straight Outta Compton" is. »


- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio

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What Did the London Film Festival Get?

7 hours ago

The 59th annual BFI London Film Festival (October 7 through 8) has scooped plenty of top-tier titles off the festival circuit, landing European premieres of opening nighter "Suffragette" and closing selection "Steve Jobs." Both should pop up in Telluride this weekend. All in all, the festival will screen a total of 238 fiction and documentary features, including 16 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 40 European Premieres and 11 Archive films including 5 Restoration World Premieres. This year's galas include Cannes winner "Carol," along with a talk with director Todd Haynes, plus Venice world-premiere "Black Mass," "Trumbo," "Brooklyn," and European productions "The Lady in the Van" and Tiff premiere "High-Rise." Strand galas include "A Bigger Splash" (also in Venice), "The Program," Cannes winner "The Lobster," acclaimed SXSW doc "Brand: A Second Coming" »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Sweden Enters Roy Andersson's 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch' into Oscar Race

8 hours ago

Released earlier this year by Magnolia Pictures, Roy Andersson's absurd fantasy about two salesman peddling novelty items through a series of archly tragicomic tableaux is Sweden's pick for the foreign Oscar. Winner of last year's Golden Lion in Venice, the film garnered great reviews in its limited run, rounding out a trilogy of films that started with "Songs from the Second Floor" and "You the Living." (Our review here.) Other recent additions to the 2015 foreign Oscar race include Germany's "Labyrinth of Lies" and Kazakhstan's "Stranger." Last year's foreign Oscar candidate out of Sweden, "Force Majeure," made the shortlist but did not land among the final five. Read More: Foreign Oscar Submissions Trickle in »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: Revisit 1972's Controversial 'Prime Cut' with Gene Hackman and Lee Marvin

31 August 2015 1:56 PM, PDT

Director Michael Ritchie’s lurid crime tale finds hot buttons to push you didn’t know existed. Lee Marvin plays a mobster trying to collect a debt from meatpacking boss Gene Hackman who runs a human trafficking ring populated by female virgins who, while awaiting the auction block, bide their time in cattle pens (naked, no less). Despite the dicey material (including scenes of animal slaughter), the film opened to fairly positive reviews.  Ahh, the amazing ’70s! Notable as the first credited role for a frequently nude Sissy Spacek and a supporting turn from Gregory Walcott ("Plan 9 From Outer Space"!). »


- Trailers From Hell

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Sf Film Society Names 8 Screenwriting Finalists (Exclusive)

31 August 2015 12:59 PM, PDT

The San Francisco Film Society has revealed the eight finalists for the seventh annual Sffs/Hearst Screenwriting Grant. The $15,000 grant will be awarded to a screenwriter, or screenwriting team, that has been practicing for at least five years and who has previously written at least one feature screenplay. The grant is intended for Us-based writers, with priority given to those whose past works were successfully made into finished films. The winner will be announced mid-October. This year's finalists listed below. One of the past grant winners, Ian Olds, is just now going into production on "The Fixer" starring James Franco. This year, finalists include "Howl" and "The Celluloid Closet" writer/director Rob Epstein, and Maris Curran, whose David Oyelowo-starrer "Five Nights in Maine" premieres in Toronto. Read More: Tiff First Look: David Oyelowo and Dianne Wiest Lead 'Five Nights in Maine' Andrew Burrows-Trotman (writer/director) – If »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Armie Hammer Joins Tom Ford's 'Nocturnal Animals'

31 August 2015 11:36 AM, PDT

Tom Ford had no trouble scooping up Us distribution for his buzzy postmodern thriller follow-up to "A Single Man" at this year's Cannes. The Focus Features project has now added Armie Hammer, recently seen in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," to a cast that already includes Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon and Kim Basinger. Hammer will play Adams' husband in the fashion icon turned filmmaker's first film since 2009. Based on Austin Wright's 1993 book "Tony and Susan," Tom Ford's script follows a woman, Susan (Adams), whose ex-husband sends her a book manuscript containing two stories: the title tale "Nocturnal Animals" about a man whose family vacation takes fatal turns, and the story of Susan as she recollects her first marriage and confronts her spiritual demons. Writer/director/producer Ford, who presented his vision to Cannes buyers this month, is set to begin production on the postmodern neo-noir this Fall, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Turner Classic Movies Taps Younger Movie-Lovers

31 August 2015 11:11 AM, PDT

Amid all the noise of original series and streaming television, Turner Classic Movies is looking to re-position itself as the true last-standing cinephile's destination with a new brand campaign, and a tagline "Let's Movie." TCM will promote the campaign through on-air, out-of-home and digital elements including social media, cross-promotion on other Turner-owned channels, electronic billboards in NYC and on-screen ads in over 750 Us theaters. The network seems to want to tell younger audiences, not just its loyal coterie of viewers seeking pre-Code classics on late-night cable, that Turner Classic also celebrates more contemporary classics. Read More: Lynch, Fincher, 'True Detective' and the Unknowable Future of Auteur TV If you're a film fan who doesn't subscribe to the "TV is the new cinema" dictum, TCM promises you a safe space. We should expect to see the "Let's Movie" philosophy carry over to the TCM Fest in Los Angeles next year, an annual. »

- Ryan Lattanzio

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Alex Gibney Doesn't Pander to Steve Jobs in His Unsparing New Doc 'Man in the Machine'

31 August 2015 10:20 AM, PDT

Described as "a renegade, but legit," "a study in contrasts," "a monk among priests," "maniacal" and "a rebel," Steve Jobs is sketched in contradictory terms by human documentary factory Alex Gibney ("Enron," "We Steal Secrets," "The Armstrong Lie," "Finding Fela") in "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine." This bracing film at first seduces you with the charms of the man, and then guts you with what a tricky riddle he was, an at-times sociopathic mogul who flew close to the Sun, touched it and never quite fell as the laws of physics dictate he should have. Jobs, upon whose shoulders the entire Apple empire grew and rested, inspired a nation's worth of outpouring and grief when he died in 2011 of complications of pancreatic cancer. While "The Man in the Machine" does admire the man's genius, the film does not shy away from peeling back the layers. Careful editing by. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Martin Scorsese's Venice Film Festival Short Cancelled

31 August 2015 9:56 AM, PDT

What happened to Martin Scorsese's "The Audition," the 17-minute short film slated to premiere on the Lido this year? According to the Venice Film Festival, the September 7th screening was cancelled: “We have just been informed by the production that due to unexpected technical problems the film could not be here in time.” Doubling as a promotion for a set of new casinos in Asia, "The Audition" stars Scorsese as a director opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro as actors vying for a lead role. Brad Pitt also co-stars in the film penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Terence Winter, Scorsese's collaborator on upcoming HBO period drama "Vinyl." A rep for the film told THR that "The Audition" is still in post-production. With a rumored budget of $70 million, its Venice inclusion may have been controversial since the short was financed by casino-resorts Macau Studio City and Manila City of Dreams, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Remembering Wes Craven, Horror Maestro Who Died Aged 76

31 August 2015 9:07 AM, PDT

As a tribute to horror icon Wes Craven, the master manipulator who scared us silly with the franchise-spawning "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), here's a story based on an interview I conducted with the filmmaker at the 1994 Toronto Film Festival in conjunction with the world premiere of "Wes Craven’s New Nightmare." At the time, I was quite impressed with the movie, which I described in my original Variety review as an ingeniously conceived and devilishly clever film that proved "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare"(1991) wasn't so aptly named after all. But I was even more impressed by the blunt-spoken, self-deprecating candor displayed by Craven — who passed away Sunday at age 76 – as he discussed his reasons for returning to the franchise, and some of the real-life inspirations for his on-screen horror stories. Some horror masters look so innocuous, so respectable, so absolutely normal, it's hard to believe they're capable of unleashing. »


- Joe Leydon

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