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Oscar Talk: Ep. 94 -- Disney buys Lucasfilm as 'Hitchcock' opens AFI Fest

Oscar Talk: Ep. 94 -- Disney buys Lucasfilm as 'Hitchcock' opens AFI Fest

Also: It's time to talk 'Skyfall!'

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

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Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Academy announces 21 qualifying titles for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar

'Dino Time' didn't bother but we get five unexpected players

Okay, well, I missed a few unseen contenders. I had a feeling I might since suddenly messages were being left on my phone from publicists pitching fringe hopefuls.

In addition to 16 of the Best Animated Feature Film contenders we have already thoroughly charted (and minus "Dino Time," which didn't bother -- who can blame them? -- and "Arjun: The Warrior Prince," which I had been led to believe by Disney would qualify), the Academy has announced five more qualifying titles for a big ole' list of 21. So that means we will definitely have a full slate of five nominees in the category, though that was already expected.

The other five are "Adventures in Zambezia" (which we had our eye on but never noticed a distributor come on board), "Delhi Safari," "Hey Krishna," "The Mystical Laws" and "Walter & Tandoori's Christmas." Check out the full slate below, as well as the aforementioned gallery running through most of the contenders, and let the guessing begin!

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<p>Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins in &quot;Hitchcock&quot;</p>

Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins in "Hitchcock"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

How will Sacha Gervasi's 'Hitchcock' fare with Oscar?

The quirky look at the legend could go either way

AFI Fest picked a fun and droll piece of work for its 2012 opener in Sacha Gervasi's "Hitchcock" last night. (Greg Ellwood's review here.) As you'll hear me mention in this evening's podcast (coming later due to technical difficulties), I found it to be strikingly emotional, though, for its depiction of an artist's plight and the joy that comes with the release of bottled creativity. And I can't help but wonder if Academy members may feel the same way.

Films about the process have a long history of awards recognition, whether satirical or sincere. Things like Robert Altman's "The Player" and Spike Jonze's "Adaptation" come to mind, or "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "A Star is Born." And there is, of course, the highest echelon of the subgenre: "8 1/2." Oscar nominees all. Though sometimes masterworks in this vein can slip through the cracks. Just ask "Sullivan's Travels." And though it landed a pair of nods, "Singin' in the Rain" was mostly passed over.

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<p>The RZA and Eli Roth could barely contain their excitement when discussing 'The Man With The Iron Fists,' the kung-fu epic they collaborated to create.</p>

The RZA and Eli Roth could barely contain their excitement when discussing 'The Man With The Iron Fists,' the kung-fu epic they collaborated to create.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: RZA and Eli Roth get giddy about the hyper-violent 'Man With The Iron Fists'

The creative team behind the martial-arts homage gush about the experience

I sincerely regret not going back to the House Of Blues last week after my interviews with the cast and the crew of "The Man With The Iron Fists" to see the RZA perform.  It was an invite offered to all of the press who worked that day, and it would have been great to see him play some of the tracks from the preposterously fun soundtrack album, but I couldn't make it work.

Even so, I got to sit down with him and with Eli Roth and talk to the two of them about what went into the making of this big, gorgeous, super-sincere tribute to the films that have informed the RZA's aesthetic for as long as he's been a working artist.  They were in a great rowdy mood, the result of finally completing what has been a major part of the RZA's life for several years now and an ambition for years before that.

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<p>You know how you know this is a movie?&nbsp; Because in real life, Dave Bautista would destroy the RZA without breaking a sweat. LOOK&nbsp;AT&nbsp;HIM.</p>

You know how you know this is a movie?  Because in real life, Dave Bautista would destroy the RZA without breaking a sweat. LOOK AT HIM.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: 'The Man With The Iron Fists' lands most of its punches with style and gore

Sincerity matters in the RZA's martial-arts epic

I would not say I know the RZA, but I've sure seen a lot of kung-fu movies with him over the years.  He was a regular at the Tarantino festivals in Austin, and perhaps the most insane, over-the-top, how-the-hell-does-this-exist kung-fu film I've ever seen with an audience was one of those screenings where he was right there with the rest of us, freaking out at every single great moment in "A Fistful Of Talons," including what may well be the craziest ending I've ever seen in a film.

That's not an exaggeration, either.  The ending of that movie is one of the few things I've ever seen in a theater that made me leap to my feet, as if I were physically involved in what I was watching.  It is sheer madness, and the audacity and the unashamed uber-violence… that all played into what an amazing shared moment it was.  That seemed to be one of Quentin's goals as a festival programmer, that group experience, and perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to "The Man With The Iron Fists," which is a passion project directed by the RZA and co-written by him with Eli Roth, is that it feels like the sort of film that would play at a Tarantino fest, something he found on a  shelf that no one else had ever seen, and it manages to pull off its ambitious goals without winking at the audience or becoming a mere post-modern exercise.

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<p>Dave Stewart's &quot;The Ringmaster General&quot;</p>

Dave Stewart's "The Ringmaster General"

HitFix Interview: Dave Stewart talks 'Ringmaster' sensibilities and 'Zombie Broadway'

'Malibu Country' and his album-making film make TV premieres tonight

Dave Stewart is an artist whose livelihood thrives off of collaboration. The former Eurythmics founder these days splits his time between his guest-heavy rock albums, producing other artists’ work – frequently with acts who also show on his records – and managing film and TV projects via his company Weapons of Mass Entertainment. He was just one part of a five-person supergroup SuperHeavy, with Joss Stone, Mick Jagger, A.R. Rahman and Damian Marley, and they released their first full-length last year. He produced Stevie Nicks’ new album “In Your Dreams,” and the doc of the same name, which made its bow at the Hamptons Film Festival last month.

He is also a songwriter, producer and musician that savors his own eccentricities. In album-making documentary “The Ringmaster General,” he chronicles the making-of the 2012 album of the same name plus last year’s “The Blackbird Diaries” through songmaking vignettes, but also shots of him brainstorming in the bathtub with his sunglasses on. He pressures martinis in Nashville’s Blackbird studios at any given moment, with off-handed references to friends like Annie (Lennox), Bob (Dylan) and Reese (Witherspoon). Re-created “footage” has managers exclaiming budget emergencies and his wife confused as to where the hell he is, as Stewart enthusiastically recalls his new guitar’s origins and candy-stores a costume shop catering to all his showman’s cravings. Meanwhile, famous females like Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat, The Secret Sisters, Joss Stone, Stevie Nicks, Jessie Baylin, Diane Birch and Orianthi all come by to take their turn at the mic on his country-inspired tunes.
“The Ringmaster General” – the film – makes it’s broadcast premiere tonight on Palladia. The pilot for his ABC show “Malibu Country” starring Reba McEntire also makes its bow tonight. Below is my abridged phone interview with Stewart, on what it is to be damned busy.
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<p>&quot;Political Animals,&quot;&nbsp;with Carla Gugino and Sigourney Weaver, won't continue.</p>

"Political Animals," with Carla Gugino and Sigourney Weaver, won't continue.

Credit: USA

USA's 'Political Animals' won't continue

Cable powerhouse declines to order more of the Sigourney Weaver political miniseries

USA has declined to order another installment of "Political Animals," despite earlier suggestions that the miniseries might continue.

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"Wreck-It Ralph"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Wreck-It Ralph'

Disney's Pixar-level home run hits theaters today

I haven't had a chance to really get out my thoughts on "Wreck-It Ralph" beyond those in the animated feature piece, but I'm kind of over the moon for it. It's Pixar-level storytelling out of Disney with top-notch voice acting -- moving, even -- and a beautifully animated instant classic. If that's drowning it in superlatives then I'm not worried because I know this one will have its fair share of fans and I'm curious how many are out there, so when/if you see the film this weekend, let us know what you thought. And, of course, feel free to rate it via the tool above.

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<p>Denzel Washington and Kelly&nbsp;Reilly in &quot;Flight&quot;</p>

Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly in "Flight"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Flight'

Robert Zemeckis's return to live action lands today

Alright, enough out of us about "Flight." You know I like it and you've heard what screenwriter John Gatins, co-star John Goodman and star Denzel Washington have to say. It's time to get your thoughts on the film, which finally makes it to the arrival gate (ugh, I know) nationwide today. So when and if you get around to seeing the film, come on back here and tell us your thoughts. And feel free to rate the film via the tool above.

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<p>Apparently I wouldn't like &quot;Ted&quot;&nbsp;(which I haven't seen).&nbsp;I find that hard to believe based on this still alone.</p>

Apparently I wouldn't like "Ted" (which I haven't seen). I find that hard to believe based on this still alone.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Roundup: Which awards player is for you?

Also: 'Promised Land' as a Capra ode and on the makeup of 'Cloud Atlas'

When I sat down with "Flight" screenwriter John Gatins a few weeks back, he spoke about the release date of the film and how Robert Zemeckis's theory was that there are a lot of people out there who get to see maybe one film each year. And it's usually at the end of the year around the holidays when there's time, etc. Hence the desire to open it later in the year. With that in mind, maybe there are some out there trying to narrow the list down for themselves. If so, London's Guardian newspaper has a matchmaker for you. Apparently I'd dig "The Hunt" (haven't seen it) "Killing Them Softly" ditto) and "The Iceman" (liked it...though it won't be released this year). And apparently I won't do well with "Ted" (haven't seen it), "This is 40" (ditto) and "Silver Linings Playbook" (nailed it). You give it a try. [The Guardian]

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<p>Scarlett Johannson, Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren in &quot;Hitchcock.&quot;</p>

Scarlett Johannson, Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren in "Hitchcock."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review: Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are simply stellar in 'Hitchcock'

The movie can't quite live up to the performances

HOLLYWOOD – There have been many movies about the history of the movie industry, but it’s surprising it took this long for someone to bring the life of Alfred Hitchcock to the big screen.  The legendary filmmaker captained an impressive list of classic films including “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” “The 39 Steps,” “The Lady Vanishes” and “Dial M for Murder” among others.  And with his TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents…” he became one of the most recognizable directors and celebrities of the 1950’s.  His biggest hit, however, was one of his latter films, 1960’s “Psycho.”  Hitchcock’s obsession with making that “horror” film sets the stage for Sacha Gervasi’s  “Hitchcock,” which opened the 2012 AFI Film Fest Thursday night.

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"Project Runway All Stars"

 "Project Runway All Stars"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway' recap: 'Put On Your Dancing Shoes'

It's a disco-themed challenge, but it's not a party for everyone

It's a disco challenge! I would think that would be lots of fun, but then, I'm sure it also means lots of really cheesy designs, less Bianca Jagger and more K.C. and the Sunshine Band. We can only hope someone was paying attention in Design History class. That's required, isn't it? Probably not, but if it's an elective, it would be a smart one for anyone who goes on this show to consider. 

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