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<p>&quot;The Imposter&quot;</p>
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"The Imposter"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'The Imposter'

Fact is stranger than fiction in this tale of a missing kid and an opportunistic con-man
Bart Layton's "The Imposter" is a gripping true-crime documentary that removes a key element of the mystery from the equation with its title.
In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay went missing in San Antonio. More than three years later, a young man surfaced in a remote village in Spain, claiming to be Nicholas. Overjoyed, the Barclay family welcomed Nicholas back into their life, ignoring or accepting that in his missing years, Nicholas had gone through a series of traumatizing events that transformed him into a different person.
The young man who returned from Spain was not, in fact, Nicholas Barclay. 
Layton isn't interested in taking the audience on an "Is He or Isn't He?" journey. The movie is called "The Imposter" and the movie has barely begun before the interview subject with the thick French accent, dark eyes and ethnically ambiguous olive skin begins his explanation of how he came to be confused with a much younger American boy with blonde hair, blue eyes and a light complexion. 
And what an explanation it is.
There have been and will be documentaries at this Sundance Film Festival that espouse more admirable messages or that exhibit more confident artistry than "The Imposter" does, but it's hard to imagine any film, narrative or doc, unspooling a more gripping, twisted yarn.
Imagine "F For Fake" mixed in with a bit of "The Talented Mr. Ripley," only theoretically all true and you have a good sense of the appeal of "The Imposter."
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<p>Sam Worthington kept it casual at the press day for his new thriller 'Man On A Ledge'</p>

Sam Worthington kept it casual at the press day for his new thriller 'Man On A Ledge'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Watch: Sam Worthington stands up for 'Man On A Ledge'

The 'Avatar' star discusses his latest thriller

I ran an excerpt from my conversation with Sam Worthington not long after I sat down with him to discuss his new film "Man On The Ledge," and we ran that one bit because he was talking specifically about his next film, "Wrath Of The Titans."

We spoke far longer about "Man," though, and I find Worthington's evolution as a leading man very interesting.  By the time most audiences saw him for the first time, he'd already been given several huge roles in "Avatar" and "Clash Of The Titans."  That seems to be a newer phenomenon, when someone gets anointed a movie star before they've really been seen by audiences, and it doesn't always work.

In Worthington's case, I see exactly why he was cast in those big roles, and I can also see why some audiences just haven't warmed to him.  He's not terribly interested in being a giant movie star, and I get the feeling that some of the attention has been difficult for Worthington.  In every conversation we've had so far, it strikes me that he really wants to just get better at his craft, pushing himself whenever possible.  In "Man On The Ledge," he's playing a normal guy, and he can't really hide behind giant CGI effects or a high concept.

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<p>Paul Giamatti co-stars in Don Coscarelli's adaptation of the cult novel 'John Dies At The End,' which he also co-produced.</p>

Paul Giamatti co-stars in Don Coscarelli's adaptation of the cult novel 'John Dies At The End,' which he also co-produced.

Credit: Silver Sphere Films

Review: 'John Dies At The End' offers a druggy dark comedy horror romp

Don Coscarelli nails a note-perfect adaptation of the cult comedy novel

There's going to come a point somewhere down the road, probably sooner than I would like, when my two sons start to ask me questions about drugs, and I'm going to have to make some hard choices about what to share with them about my various chemical indiscretions over the years.

One of the ways I'll make the conversation easier is through the use of specific films as examples of how things feel when you're altered.  And now, after tonight's midnight screening at Sundance, I can add "John Dies At The End" to the list of films that I can use to illustrate how it feels when you have intentionally attempted to alter reality through the use of some sort of outside influence.  Based on a novel by David Wong, one of the founding voices of, "John Dies At The End" tells the story of what happens when two friends are exposed to a profoundly bizarre drug that is nicknamed "Soy Sauce," which enables them to see an invisible world full of monsters and doorways to other dimensions and things too strange to describe.

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<p>Neal McDonough on &quot;Justified.&quot;</p>

Neal McDonough on "Justified."

Credit: FX

Interview: 'Justified' showrunner Graham Yost on villains, arcs and life without Mags

'It takes two big men to fill Margo's shoes,' he says
On the last day of press tour, I sat down with "Justified" showrunner Graham Yost to talk about the show's third season. Given that the season was going to premiere two days later, I knew I wasn't going to have the time to transcribe the interview then, so I geared it to go after tonight's episode (you can read my review of that here), which introduced Mykelti Williamson as the second of our two major new villains, Ellstin Limehouse, and guest-starred Carla Gugino as a U.S. Marshal who very closely resembled the one Gugino played on "Karen Sisco."
Yost and I talked about villains new and old — including the gaping hole that Margo Martindale left as Mags — about the show's evolution to be serialized even in episodes that might once upon a time have been standalone, and about Elmore Leonard's new book "Raylan," which is partly Leonard's adaptation of "Justified" season 2, and partly contains stories that Yost in turn adapted for season 3.
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<p>Timothy Olyphant and Carla Gugino in &quot;Justified.&quot;</p>

Timothy Olyphant and Carla Gugino in "Justified."

Credit: FX

'Justified' - 'Cut Ties': Karen Sisco, I presume?

Carla Gugino and Mykelti Williamson stop by a packed episode

"Justified" just aired its second episode of the season. I interviewed Graham Yost about where we are at this point with our heroes and villains, and I have a review of this episode coming up just as soon as I need a spot...

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<p>B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin at the AFI Fest gala screening of &quot;The Artist&quot;</p>

Bérénice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin at the AFI Fest gala screening of "The Artist"

Credit: AP Photo/Katy Winn

In Contention's interviews with the nominees

Get to know this year's contenders

Now that the nominations have been announced, it seems like a good time to go ahead and point you to our interviews with various individuals who woke up to good news this morning. This list is on-going as we still have things in the pipeline, so it will inevitably be added to throughout the rest of the month. Check out the list below and we'll update it as we go.

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<p>Max von Sydow received one of two surprise nominations for &quot;Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close&quot; this morning.</p>

Max von Sydow received one of two surprise nominations for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" this morning.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Stuck in the middle with you: thoughts on the Oscar nominations

This year's nominee list points to an Academy in flux

I am no fan, to put it gently, of John Williams's chintzily instructive and inevitably Oscar-nominated score for "War Horse," but I'll admit I've been feeling the need for it all day. Williams is a master in the art of telling you how to feel, and several hours after hearing this years Academy Award nominations, I could really use some plaintive strings or percussive rumbling to tell me what on earth I'm supposed to feel about them.

Am I happy they took a chance on some adventurous arthouse fare like "The Tree of Life" and "A Separation?" Am I dismayed they haven't yet caught wise to Michael Fassbender? Am I perplexed that they seem to be actively sabotaging the admittedly inessential but once-entertaining Best Original Song category? Am I pleased that the animation branch showed some solid brass balls this year, even as I question the wisdom of their choices? Am I concerned that their barometer for the year's best documentaries bears no relation to anyone else's? Am I satisfied I predicted 73 out of 104 nominations, even if I hated myself for making some of those predictions in the first place? I'm certainly annoyed I have to see the wildly unalluring "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" now, after thinking I might just have dodged that bullet.

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<p>'Captain America:&nbsp;The First Avenger'</p>

'Captain America: The First Avenger'

Credit: Marvel Studios

What do the Oscar voters have against music?

Some thoughts on today's shocking best original song choices

Why do the Oscar voters hate songs so much?  Once again, the music branch has shown utter contempt for contemporary songwriters as they nominated only two tunes in the best original song category out of the 39 deemed eligible. What an insult.

A few years ago the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences changed the way it nominated songs, making it much harder for a tune to qualify.  The Academy now holds a session to screen movie clips featuring the eligible songs. The members of the music branch then assign the songs a score. Those scores are then averaged; to be eligible a song must receive an average score of 8.25 or more (if only one song achieves that criteria, the second highest score is also selected). If two or more songs achieve the 8.25 benchmark, they will be the nominees up to a total of five.

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<p>&quot;Transformers:&nbsp;Dark of the Moon&quot;&nbsp;received three nominations across the craft categories.</p>

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" received three nominations across the craft categories.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tech Support: 'The Artist,' 'Hugo,' 'Dragon Tattoo' and 'War Horse' feature heavily in Oscar's crafts categories

'Harry Potter,' 'Moneyball' and 'Transformers' also get multiple nominations

This morning, many crafts artists in Hollywood (and elsewhere in the world) found out that they are heading to the Kodak Theatre for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. The thrill they are experiencing must be difficult to describe.

The reaction of many to the nominations has simply been “wow.” While I wasn’t as floored as some, I confess to being surprised by many of this morning’s events, and the crafts categories proved no exception.

Before embarking on analysis of the individual categories, two trends should be noted: first, in the vast majority of categories, previously nominated veterans were tapped over up-and-comers. Second, with a few exceptions – notably “The Artist,” “Hugo” and “War Horse” – films either tended to be embraced across the board or confined in their nominations to one or two branches.

So now, on to the individual categories…

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Watch: Aaron Paul talks 'Breaking Bad' from Sundance

The 'Smashed' star discusses letting his AMC hit end on its own terms
PARK CITY, UTAH - Aaron Paul can't really sneak up on viewers anymore, or at least he can't sneak up on fans of AMC's "Breaking Bad." That's one of the problems with giving what is frequently the best performance on TV.
Over four seasons, Paul's "Breaking Bad" character has gone through enough roller-coasters to fill a Six Flags, tracing a believable, scary and sometimes heartbreaking path of addiction, redemption, backsliding and recovery. He has a well-deserved Emmy to show for it.
The ending of "Breaking Bad" isn't near, but it's on the horizon with only 16 episodes remaining.
Paul was up in Park City this week for the premiere of "Smashed," a quirky indie dramedy in which he plays a very different kind of substance abuser, a fun-loving alcoholic who shares his addictions with his wife (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), until she decides to go sober.
In the longer chunk of this interview, posting in the next day or two, Paul discusses what attracted him to "Smashed" and the different approach to playing Jesse Pinkman versus this new character. 
But just to whet your appetites, here's our brief interview-ending conversation about "Breaking Bad" and approaching the remaining episodes. It contains some very limited spoilers for past seasons...
Check it out. And stick around for the "Smashed" interview...
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Oscar Talk: Ep. 79 -- Special Edition! -- Thoughts on the the 2011 Oscar nominations

Oscar Talk: Ep. 79 -- Special Edition! -- Thoughts on the the 2011 Oscar nominations

Also: Predictions in each field as Guy Lodge joins in

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.

Today Anne is still up in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival while I'm back home in Los Angeles. We're joined today by Guy Lodge to discuss a little bit of business that dropped this morning, so let's see what's on the docket today…

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Bruce Springsteen starts U.S tour in March, adds New Orleans Jazz Fest gig
Credit: AP Photo

Bruce Springsteen starts U.S tour in March, adds New Orleans Jazz Fest gig

Six-week tour for 'Wrecking Ball' starts in Atlanta

Bruce Springsteen will kick off a 19-date U.S. tour two weeks after his new album, “Wrecking Ball,” comes out.

The Boss had already announced a European tour that started in May, but today he confirmed rumors that the E Street Band would have a short U.S. swing before crossing the Atlantic.

The tour opens March 18 at Atlanta’s Philips Arena and closes May 2 at Newark, N.J’s  Prudential Center. The European leg kicks off May 13 in Seville, Spain. “Wrecking Ball” comes out March 6. Springsteen is slated to deliver the keynote address at this year's South By Southwest March 15.

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