Latest Blog Posts

<p>The &quot;Transformers&quot;&nbsp;franchise is once more in the running for a VFX&nbsp;Oscar nomination.</p>

The "Transformers" franchise is once more in the running for a VFX Oscar nomination.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Thor,' 'X-Men,' 'Transformers' and 'Tree of Life' among 15 official Oscar Visual Effects contenders

If it was a summer blockbuster it's on the list

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the top 15 films in contention for the 2012 Visual Effects Oscar today and there were hardly any surprises. 

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<p>At the premiere of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows,' Guy Ritchie and his lovely girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley were evidently mugged by a poster of Robert Downey Jr.</p>

At the premiere of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows,' Guy Ritchie and his lovely girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley were evidently mugged by a poster of Robert Downey Jr.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Guy Ritchie goes from 'Sherlock' to 'UNCLE' for Warner Bros

Ritchie and his 'Holmes' producer Lionel Wigram kick off their new partnership

Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram make sense as a creative partnership.

When I spent time in London for the first "Sherlock Holmes," I had the opportunity to take a long walk with Wigram over to the cathedral they were using for the opening of the movie, and as we walked, we talked about Holmes, Doyle, London, its history, and more.  He was also one of the people who was involved deeply in the "Harry Potter" series, and so you could say he's trusted by Warner Bros in a very big way.

Although it's only been recently that "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." has been in the news in a regular way, Warner's been working to figure out a way to bring this one back to life for a long time now.  Back in '99, they were reaching out to George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and others, and they never really figured out how to do it.  It seems like Clooney must have been a fan of the original series just based on how many times he's circled back around to the property over the years.  I'm sorry his back is forcing him to curtail the more physical roles because I think he'd be pretty great in a big Bond-like spy movie.

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<p>Woody&nbsp;Harrelson in &quot;Rampart&quot;</p>

Woody Harrelson in "Rampart"

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Interview: Woody Harrelson talks Hitler jokes, eating raw, politics... oh, and 'Rampart'

He also can't believe he gets to make Christopher Walken laugh

At an abandoned Pasadena hospital, Woody Harrelson patiently waits for a shot to be set up as he plays with the gold jewelry on his fingers. He's decked out like a slick street hustler, a scorpion tattoo on his neck. Across the way, Christopher Walken is primped by makeup artists, a faux bloody wound on his head tended to.

"I can't believe I'm doing a scene with Christopher Walken," Harrelson says. "I love him. You never really know where you stand with him, you know? You'll be talking and you won't know. And then he'll crack a big smile suddenly."

"That's kind of like you," I tell him. He cracks a big smile suddenly.

The scene is set and Harrelson takes a seat opposite Walken. It's Walken's close-up. Harrelson is wrapping up his day off screen, giving Walken something to work with as they perform a hilarious scene regarding a cravat. (The film is Martin McDonagh's dark comedy "Seven Psychopaths.") This take, McDonagh wants Harrelson to make Walken laugh. The camera rolls. "It looks like your neck threw up, man," Harrelson says. Walken laughs.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 73 -- Our top 10 films of 2011!

Oscar Talk: Ep. 73 -- Our top 10 films of 2011!

Where will your favorites rank?

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.

Here at the end of December's first week, all 2011 films have officially screened for press. And yet, we can't discuss the last two to drop. Whatever shall we do in this interlude...

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<p>Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams</p>

Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams

Pharrell joins Hans Zimmer as Oscars consultant; Underworld scores Olympics

In with the old, in with the new

Two longstanding institutions have added new -- or "newer" -- music-makers into their fold. Pharrell Williams has been tapped as a music consultant to the Oscars, as has Hans Zimmer; and the duo best known as Underworld has been appointed music director of the London-hosted 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

Zimmer's addition is little surprise, considering he's an Academy Award winner (and nine-time nominee, jeez). In addition, his hands may be a little free at the moment: as HitFix's In Contention blog pointed out, the "Rango" composer kept himself off the ballot for the year. Dude wants to relax, OK? Zimmer helped inform "Tron" composers and international dance superstars Daft Punk on their electric adventure, so may he with Neptunes production wunderkind Williams.

Pharrell headed up the villainous and buoyant soundtrack to 2010's "Despicable Me," which at least thwarted the pitfalls of cloying cuteness and gooshy sentimentality that sometimes plagues animated features. The Grammy winner's insight may add an contemporary upbeat feel to the Oscars, while Zimmer will obviously have the timing down.

The 84th annual Academy Awards take place on Feb. 26.

Meanwhile, Underworld have warned of "unexpected" results for their ceremony score, but they're paired with a predictable partner. The three-hour event is headed by director Danny Boyle -- who featured their song "Born Slippy" in his film "Trainspotting," collaborated with the duo for his stage adaptation of "Frankenstein" last year and tapped them for work on movies like "The Beach" and "Sunshine."

The Olympics gig "is very slightly bigger than anything we've ever done," Underworld's Karl Hyde told Billboard. "We knew that, with 'Frankenstein,' we'd been locked down for several months living at the theater and developing that project, and with something like this would equally require us to be focused 100 percent on it. But when Danny asks, we will say yes, because he takes us on an amazing journey."

The Summer Games opening ceremony is on July 27.

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<p>Jerry Robinson's Joker as seen in Batman #1.</p>

Jerry Robinson's Joker as seen in Batman #1.

Credit: DC Comics

Oscarweb Round-up: R.I.P. Jerry Robinson

Also: Who almost starred in Spielberg's movies and Cameron sued over 'Avatar'

It was with great sadness yesterday that I read the news of comic book artist Jerry Robinson passing. Robinson is widely known as the creator of the Joker in the Batman comic books (though that was naturally disputed by Batman creator Bob Kane in his time). It's an iconic gift to the world of graphic literature, no matter how you slice it, and Robinson's imprint on the industry was a considerable one. For "The Dark Knight," filmmaker Christopher Nolan went back to the pages of Batman #1, the Joker's first appearance, so it's fair to say we owe Heath Ledger's interpretation of the character to Robinson. Speaking of which, the prologue of "The Dark Knight Rises" was screened for select press last night. It will be attached to IMAX versions "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." [New York Times]

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<p>Pierce Brosnan sees old ghosts in &quot;Stephen King's Bag of Bones.&quot;</p>

Pierce Brosnan sees old ghosts in "Stephen King's Bag of Bones."

Credit: A&E

Review: 'Stephen King's Bag of Bones' on A&E

Pierce Brosnan battles writer's block and a creaky ghost story in new miniseries
I don't remember a lot about Stephen King's "Bag of Bones," the 1998 novel which A&E has adapted for a two-part miniseries airing Sunday and Monday night at 9, except for one part. The book's main character is novelist Mike Noonan, who comes down with a crippling case of writer's block after the sudden death of his wife Jo. The early sections of the book go on at length about Mike's sudden inability to do the thing that's made him a living and provided so much fulfillment, and it's every bit as vivid and terrifying as the best sequences in King's other books involving telekinetic prom queens, other-dimensional killer clowns and sentient, homicidal vintage cars. Admittedly, I'm a writer who's grappled with the problem from time to time (and never as long or as deeply as Mike does), so I'm a biased observer, but those early passages were the best bits of new King prose I'd read in more than a decade.
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<p>Michael Shannon in Jeff Nichol's acclaimed Sundance drama &quot;Take Shelter.&quot;</p>

Michael Shannon in Jeff Nichol's acclaimed Sundance drama "Take Shelter."

Credit: Sony Classics

Michael Shannon on audiences needing 'guts' to see 'Take Shelter' and 'Boardwalk Empire's' season finale

How did an Oscar nominee shoe-in at Sundance become a borderline contender?

As you'd expect for the first week of December, it's pretty chilly in Vancouver, B.C. these days.  But, Michael Shannon, who is north of the border shooting Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel," took a few minutes on Thursday to warm up and chat about his acclaimed performance in "Take Shelter."

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Teamsters and the manufacturers of the Oscar statuette stalemate
Credit: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Teamsters and the manufacturers of the Oscar statuette stalemate

Contract negotiations halt and the union goes public

As the race for Oscar continues to heat up the teamsters who manufacture and deliver the physical statues are coming into conflict with R.S. Owens & Company, the producers of the Oscar and Emmy statuettes.  According to The Huffington Post, contract negotiations between Owens and its workers have come to a halt and the union is now reaching out to Hollywood to back them up in their dispute. In a release on Tuesday the employees revealed that the company had frozen wages for three years beginning in 2007 and plans to renew the policy for the next three years, leaving them without the benefit of a pay increase for nearly a decade.

The union further alleges that Owens intends to cut vacation and bereavement benefits and increase health care costs. Though production continues, there is the ever present possibility of a strike, which could theoretically affect the February 26 awards show. Teamsters Local 743 plans to seek Federal mediation as a part of its negotiations strategy.

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<p>Our first look at 'the man in the mask' came as part of an amazing sequence screened tonight at a special IMAX presentation for 'The Dark&nbsp;Knight Rises'</p>

Our first look at 'the man in the mask' came as part of an amazing sequence screened tonight at a special IMAX presentation for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Bane rules as 'Dark Knight Rises' prologue unveiled in special IMAX presentation

Our introduction to 'the man in the mask' raises more questions than it answers

Bane seems like a bad, bad man.

That is, of course, the point of the prologue from "The Dark Knight Rises," which was screened tonight at Universal Citywalk's IMAX screen with Christopher Nolan in attendance to set it up for us.

When "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" opens on December 16 in a limited run for a week before it goes wider on the 21st, any of the screens that are playing the large-scale film format IMAX will also be playing this special "Dark Knight Rises" footage, which will not be released online.  Let me urge you to make sure you attend one of those screenings, and not just for the "Dark Knight" stuff.  I think I was fairly effusive the other day in my review of "M:I - GP," and part of what impressed me was the way Bird used the IMAX format in the scenes that were shot that way.  Now, seeing what Nolan's done with the IMAX cameras, I think the double-feature makes the best case yet for what a smart filmmaker can accomplish in terms of immersion without ever once using the term "3D."

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"Project Accessory"

 "Project Accessory"

Credit: Lifetime Television

Recap: 'Project Accessory' - 'Fall for Kenneth'

The designers must make clutches for Kenneth Cole, but will he want to sell any of them?

The final six should be thrilled to be, well, the final six, but the mood at the communal department is, to say the least, subdued. Adrian feels discouraged from his poor showing last week. How can he be Adrian and make the judges happy? Diego suggests he shouldn't be so Adrian. Ouch.

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<p>Charlize Theron in &quot;Young Adult.&quot;</p>

Charlize Theron in "Young Adult."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: 'Young Adult' is a smart, sour anatomy of a bitch

Charlize Theron keeps the ugliness inside in her best work since 'Monster'

There’s a single line—make that a single word—in the opening reel of “Young Adult” delivered with such pointed lack of empathy as to immediate wipe clean any cosier expectations we might have had of a second collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody. Staring disconnectedly into her glass while on a blind date with a seemingly decent chap wittering on about his experience of teaching in South East Asia, Charlize Theron’s divorced, 37 year-old youth fiction novelist Mavis Gary screws up her face and spits out the question, “Why?”

The guy doesn’t acknowledge the question; indeed, it doesn’t break his flow for a second. But after Theron’s drolly apathetic tone gets the required laugh from the viewer, her sourly confused expression seals the moment as more than a snarky throwaway: this isn’t just a woman who disdains people who help others, it’s one who sincerely doesn’t comprehend them. A kind of high-functioning autism invisible beneath her snippy intelligence and immaculate lipstick, Mavis’s misanthropy makes in her mind a gigantic ‘why’ of all human relationships, though she’s sufficiently self-possessed enough not to care about the answers. We never see the face of her hapless date in that early exchange; in a sense, one doubts she does either.

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