Latest Blog Posts

Taking questions for 11/25 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll address as many as we can in Friday's podcast (which, remember, will be later in the day on Friday). I imagine we'll be talking about "The Iron Lady," the doc short list, things of that nature.

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<p>Jabbar (Tyree Brown)&nbsp;feels sad on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Jabbar (Tyree Brown) feels sad on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'Mr. Honesty': Stupid is as stupid does

Lots of dumb actions and storylines to go around this week

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I picture our birth father stripping...

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<p>J.J.&nbsp;Abrams on the set of &quot;Super 8&quot;</p>

J.J. Abrams on the set of "Super 8"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Bringing the 'Super 8' train back around for another whiff

Also: Jim Henson's Muppet legacy and a free-for-all campaign party season

With a DVD/Blu-ray release imminent, Paramount is milking the "Super 8" comeback train while splitting focus with other awards contenders already in the mix. It's always tough to bring the conversation back around on a movie, especially on a summer entertainment hoping to be something more in the eyes of voters. One move was a big screening and reception at the Academy last night in honor of the release, part and parcel of a campaign party free-for-all this season. Director J.J. Abrams recently sat down with Geoff Boucher to talk about the big lessons of small budgets (conservative spending being a particular narrative on that film all year). [Hero Complex]

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<p>A scene from Martin Scorsese's &quot;Gangs of New York.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

A scene from Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York." 

Credit: Miramax Films

The Lists: Top 10 craft contributions to Martin Scorsese films

With the dazzling 'Hugo' hitting screens, we celebrate the technical wonders of Scorsese's cinema

I sat down to watch Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” last night with little idea of what to expect but one thing: that the screen would be awash with some of the finest, most inventive technical artistry that money (or, indeed, imagination) can buy. I was not disappointed: while I’m still sorting out my thoughts on the film as a feat of storytelling, there’s little denying that it’s one of the year’s most lustrous craft showcases, rendered in genuinely eye-popping 3D and buttressing the cinematic valentine it writes to pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès with its own arsenal of visual wonders.

Such expertise is now par for the course with Scorsese, whatever the film: I was cool on “Shutter Island” last year, but still delighted in his own delight in the filmmaking tools at his disposal – even less obviously extravagant works like “The Departed” or “Taxi Driver” are fat with aesthetic and sensory detail. That’s partly down to the director’s own genius, and partly down to the intimate collaborations he fosters with masters of their own craft: to love Scorsese is to love editor Thelma Schoonmaker, designer Dante Ferretti, DPs Michael Ballhaus and Robert Richardson, and so many more who have become part and parcel of the man’s auteur identity.

So Scorsese seemed as ideal a candidate as any for one of our occasional craft-themed lists – here, I’ve selected the 10 below-the-line contributions to his films, ranging from cinematography to sound to production design, that have most amazed me over the years. 

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<p>Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in &quot;My Week with Marilyn.&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Speed dating with Michelle Williams over 'My Week with Marilyn'

Short and very sweet

Michelle Williams doesn't have much time.  I mean, she really doesn't have much time. The two-time Academy Award nominated actress landed in Los Angeles just a few hours ago and now has only one hour, yes, just one hour to do interviews with a slew of waiting reporters at the always bustling Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.  it won't be long before Williams has to walk the red carpet at the premiere of "My Week with Marilyn" at AFI Fest that evening and when her people say she only has an hour they aren't kidding.  My specific warning before sitting down with the best actress contender: Just two questions with the always charming Ms. Williams.  Eke. I better make them good.  

Needless to say, it was a much different story a year ago when I sat down for a much longer and more intimate chat regarding her acclaimed work in "Blue Valentine." But with Williams still busy filming Sam Raimi's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" with James Franco, the luxury of an in-depth conversation about her turn portraying the iconic Marilyn Monroe isn't going to happen (for anyone). When I first sat down across from a beaming Williams, she asked me, "Are you ready to speed date?"  I'm not sure if I passed the test, but it was a cheerful 2 1/2 minutes I likely won't forget.

To find out Williams thoughts about playing one of her childhood icons and the agony of "over thinking" a role watch the interview embedded above.  Oh, and note for all you Hollywood producers and directors out there who are likely to be blown away by Ms. Williams singing talents in "Marilyn," she'd love to appear in a movie musical.  Really.

For more on Williams transformation as Monroe, check out an intriguing look at the actress getting into character on set and during a special photo shoot for photographer Brigitte Lacombe.

"My Week with Marilyn" is now playing in limited release across the country.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

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<p>Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein in David Cronenberg's &quot;A Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

Credit: Sony Classics

Keira Knightley brings the hysterical to 'A Dangerous Method' (and she isn't being funny people)

A Q&A with the former Oscar nominee

TORONTO - In the midst of a busy Toronto Film Festival, I found myself racing to the Fairmont Royal Oak Hotel.  One particular actress was in town for only a few more hours and this was a rare opportunity for a sit down one on one with her.  The star in question was none other than Keira Knightley, the former "Pirates of the Caribbean" star who has spent the last four years running from blockbusters and, instead, gaining respect with stellar performances in films such as "Atonement," the underrated "The Edge of Love," "Never Let Me Go," the also underrated "Last Night" and "The Duchess."  This fall she's delivered a career best turn in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

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<p>Howie Mandel</p>
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Howie Mandel

Watch: Howie Mandel talks FOX's 'Mobbed'

Does the germ-phobic host have a favorite fist-bump?
What better way to celebrate a holiday eve than with a special about people celebrating major life moments with the help of flash mob performances?
That's the way FOX is thinking, scheduling Howie Mandel's "Mobbed" for Wednesday (November 23) night, airing after a double-elimination episode of "The X Factor."
"Mobbed" has a solid history following FOX musical talent shows, premiering as a one-off last March after an "American Idol" hour. That special retained the "Idol" audience so solidly that FOX ordered more "Mobbed" just days later.
In September, I sat down with Mandel, "Mobbed" host and executive producer, to talk about the flash mob phenomenon, what sort of announcements work best in this format and whether or not the famously germ-averse star has any favorite styles of fist-bump.
Check out the interview. 
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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: It's all over but the crying on the 'Dancing with the Stars' finale

Three couples enter the finale, but who gets the mirror ball trophy?

So, this is it! It's hard to believe this season is finally over. The truth is, as much as I've enjoyed some of it, I'll be happy to see this one go. With so many weird reversals (I never would have guessed Chynna Phillips wouldn't make it anywhere near the finals), I almost miss the seasons where there's a ringer who's clearly set to take home the mirror ball. Okay, not really. But the show's beginning. Let the nail biting begin!

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<p>Michelle Williams and Simon Curtis on the set of &quot;My Week with&nbsp;Marilyn&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams and Simon Curtis on the set of "My Week with Marilyn"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Interview: Simon Curtis on the indelible Marilyn Monroe and the role as Hamlet for an actress

The ‘My Week with Marilyn’ director talks Michelle Williams and capturing an icon

Next August marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. Half a century after her passing we find that Monroe remains an enduring figure in our collective consciousness. Director Simon Curtis hopes that the release of his film, “My Week with Marilyn,” will provide audiences with fresh insights into the complex nature of the cinematic icon. Indeed the film's star, Michelle Williams, is receiving consistent Oscar buzz for what many feel is a revelatory, nuanced portrayal of Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe represents both more, and less, than an actress of repute or a captivating movie star in our cultural lexicon. Marilyn, Norma Jean, the human being is often distilled to an image, a representation of an ideal, a desire, or a figurehead. Monroe herself quipped about her status as a sex symbol in her final interview: “A symbol? I always thought those were the things you clashed together.” She laughed with the journalist but went on to explore essential quagmire of being Marilyn Monroe. “See that’s the trouble is a sex symbol becomes a thing," she said. "And you just hate to be a thing.”

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<p>Asa Butterfield takes Chloe Grace Moretz to see her very first movie in a magical moment from the magical new Martin Scorsese film 'Hugo'</p>

Asa Butterfield takes Chloe Grace Moretz to see her very first movie in a magical moment from the magical new Martin Scorsese film 'Hugo'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' is a rapturous lesson in the value of art

The year's smartest kid's film may be the best 3D movie ever

As always, Martin Scorsese says it better than I ever could.

Little by little, I've started to feel like Film Nerd 2.0 is one of the most significant things I've done since I've started writing about film online in 1995, and it's part of a bigger plan I have.  I eventually plan to get involved in creating and implementing some very real educational reform involving media education that runs K-12, so that kids are given a media literacy on par with any print literacy that is taught.  I think we have a responsibility, given the omnipresence of media in the lives of modern children, to not only encourage them with choices about what to watch, but also to teach them how to watch.  Without context, how do you expect them to navigate the ocean of choice available to them at all times these days?

Martin Scorsese has spoken at length in the press about wanting to make a movie that his 12-year-old daughter could see, and how much he loved 3D in the '50s, and how this movie serves as, in some ways, autobiography because of his own childhood spent trapped by asthma in a private world, cut off from other kids.  All of that is true, but the moment you start putting labels like "kid's film" on a movie like "Hugo," you are being reductive in your thinking, and that's missing the point entirely.  In its own way, this is "Film Nerd 2.0: The Movie," and perhaps the most head-over-heels-in-love movie about movies since "Cinema Paradiso."

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<p>Big Otto (Kurt Sutter)&nbsp;ponders his dealings with Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon)&nbsp;on &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;</p>

Big Otto (Kurt Sutter) ponders his dealings with Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon) on "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Burnt and Purged Away': He's making a list

Opie and Otto both seek vengeance, and Jax tries to keep everybody happy

A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I have you around to translate the Catholic...

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<p>Jason Segel and new Muppet Walter took some time to try and explain how much it means to them to co-star in the new film 'The Muppets'</p>

Jason Segel and new Muppet Walter took some time to try and explain how much it means to them to co-star in the new film 'The Muppets'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jason Segel and Walter talk about joining 'The Muppets'

A lifelong dream comes true for two people... or one person and a puppet

On Toshi's third birthday, I took him to a very unusual puppet show, unusual because it wasn't being staged for a real audience.  It was on one of the soundstages at Paramount in Hollywood, and it was a musical called "A Taste Of Love," with all the puppets by the Henson Studios.  The only people witnessing take after take of the big finale of this show were extras, hired for the day, and the crew of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."  If you've seen the film, you remember the moment, the big wrap-up for the character played by Jason Segel.  This is his life's ambition realized, and watching Segel and his co-star Bill Hader actually operate their custom-created Muppets for a full day of shooting was one of those great random glad-I-was-there moments.

Toshi had no idea what was going on, but he enjoyed the noise and the energy and the puppets, and at one point, I had a conversation with Segel about his training with the Henson performers, and how that was the fulfillment of his own life-long dream.  He confessed his Muppet love to me at that point, and talked a bit about how he'd very much like to one day figure out a way to make a movie with the Muppets.  It was the first time he'd mentioned anything like that, but seeing him work with his Dracula puppet all day, I could see how firmly the idea had hold of him.

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