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Deon Lotz in "Beauty," South Africa's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Deon Lotz in "Beauty," South Africa's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Credit: TLA Releasing

China and South Africa bring a little English to the foreign Oscar conversation

Christian Bale could find himself in another Oscar vehicle this year

We talk about name appeal being a factor in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, but no country this year can boast it to quite the same extent as China: not only is their submission, just announced today, directed by three-time Oscar nominee Zhang Yimou, but it stars reigning Best Supporting Actor champ Christian Bale. If nothing else, the lure of the familiar should be worth a few votes. 

The film in question is "The Flowers of War," Zhang's much-anticipated epic set during the Japanese invasion of Nanking in 1937, in which Bale stars as an American priest trapped in a cathedral with a group of schoolchildren and courtesans. As the most expensive production in Chinese film history, the film has a lot riding on it; no one's seen the finished product yet, but 20 minutes of footage were previewed at the Toronto Film Festival to a strong reception. (The film opens in China in December, which would normally rule it ineligible for consideration, but will have a week-long qualifying run beginning tomorrow.)

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<p>Charlize Theron could be kicking off a long and rewarding awards circuit for her work in &quot;Young Adult&quot;&nbsp;with the honor.</p>

Charlize Theron could be kicking off a long and rewarding awards circuit for her work in "Young Adult" with the honor.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Charlize Theron, Gary Oldman and David Cronenberg set for Gotham Award tributes

The trio joins previously announced honoree Tom Rothman

I'm just now getting around to yesterday's press release concerning this year's Gotham Awards tributes, which will go to actress Charlize Theron, actor Gary Oldman and director David Cronenberg. Announced previously was a similar tribute for Fox Chairman and CEP Tom Rothman.

Now is the time of year when publicists jockey for their clients' positions at tributes throughout the various awards season events. Whether it's recognition at the Independent Film Project's (IFP) Gotham Awards ceremony, the Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Awards, the Palm Springs Film Festival's gala of honors or the Santa Barbara Film Festival's week-and-a-half of fetes, these notices can do a lot to further fuel an Oscar campaign, and these three will likely be in the thick of it.

Okay, maybe David Cronenberg is a stretch for Best Director recognition (for his work on "A Dangerous Method") at this point, but that doesn't mean the occasion of the film isn't a good excuse to recognize a career of singular work. But Charlize Theron and Gary Oldman will be very much in the conversation for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively.

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<p>Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell and the rest of the &quot;House of Lies&quot;&nbsp;cast.</p>

Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell and the rest of the "House of Lies" cast.

Credit: Showtime

Exclusive: The 'House of Lies' cast gets down in a new promo

What's Don Cheadle making Kristen Bell wait for?

Premiere week for the 2011-12 TV season isn't officially over yet (it runs Monday-Sunday), but as you know if you've been reading my reviews, it hasn't been the most inspiring batch of new shows so far. Some hope will come in a week with the debut of Showtime's "Homeland" (which you can still watch the pilot of in its entirety here), but beyond that, most of the genuinely exciting shows seem to be coming at mid-season: NBC's "Awake" and "Smash: The Brian Williams Story," ABC's "Apartment 23" and "The River," etc.

Hopefully we can add Showtime's "House of Liesto that list. I still haven't seen the pilot for the new comedy - in which Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell and Ben Schwartz are part of a team of cutthroat management consultants who will do anything in their pursuit of money - but that cast is great, Showtime president David Nevins promised it would be more overtly funny than most of the Showtime "comedies," and, well, the people involved with the show helped make this promo, which has made me laugh every single time I've seen it this week.

"House of Lies" may or may not pan out, but at least it's given the world Veronica Mars, Jean-Ralphio and Paul Rusesabagina getting down with their bad selves. Enjoy. 

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<p>Steve Buscemi of &quot;Boardwalk Empire&quot;</p>
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Steve Buscemi of "Boardwalk Empire"

Credit: HBO

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 95

Dan and Alan review 'Pan Am,' 'A Gifted Man,' 'Boardwalk Empire' and more
Happy Friday, Boys & Girls. It's a late afternoon installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast
 
No time to dilly-dally.
 
In this installment, we review "A Gifted Man," "Pan Am" and "Boardwalk Empire" and we talk about the start of the new seasons in terms of ratings and a bunch of the shows that we talk about regularly. Let's get down to it!
 
The breakdown:
"A Gifted Man" -- 01:35 - 11:15
"Pan Am" -- 11:20 - 20:00
"Boardwalk Empire" -- 20:00 - 29:30
Early Season Ratings -- 29:30 - 44:00
"How I Met Your Mother: -- 44:10 - 48:40
"Glee" -- 48:40 - 55:15
"Modern Family" -- 55:26 - 01:01:20
"Community" -- 01:01:25 - 01:05:35
"Parks and Recreation" -- 01:05:40 - 01:11:55
"The Office" -- 01:12:00 - 01:18:55
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<p>Christian Bale in Zhang Yimou's &quot;The Flowers of War.&quot;</p>

Christian Bale in Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War."

No surprise: China picks Zhang Yimou's 'The Flowers of War' with Christian Bale for Oscar

Another intriguing foreign language picture entry

Surprising few, the China Film Bureau announced that Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War" will represent China in this year's foreign language film Oscar race.  The picture is notable not just because it's from the director of "Hero" and "Raise the Red Lantern," but because it stars last year's best supporting actor winner, Christian Bale.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 95: 'A Gifted Man,' 'Pan Am,' 'Boardwalk Empire' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 95: 'A Gifted Man,' 'Pan Am,' 'Boardwalk Empire' & more

Dan and Alan also break down early season ratings and the season premieres of many returning comedies

The

Time for the second of yet another multi-episode week for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, in which Dan and I review a few more new network shows, check in on "Boardwalk Empire" and break down a lot of what we learned in the first week of the TV season. The rundown:

"A Gifted Man" -- 01:35 - 11:15
"Pan Am" -- 11:20 - 20:00
"Boardwalk Empire" -- 20:00 - 29:30
Early Season Ratings -- 29:30 - 44:00
"How I Met Your Mother: -- 44:10 - 48:40
"Glee" -- 48:40 - 55:15
"Modern Family" -- 55:26 - 01:01:20
"Community" -- 01:01:25 - 01:05:35
"Parks and Recreation" -- 01:05:40 - 01:11:55
"The Office" -- 01:12:00 - 01:18:55
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>George Clooney directs &quot;The&nbsp;Ides of March&quot;&nbsp;with a skilled hand and gives a fine supporting performance to boot.</p>

George Clooney directs "The Ides of March" with a skilled hand and gives a fine supporting performance to boot.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Clooney's 'Ides of March' is boiled down essence as high drama

With 'Moneyball' already in theaters, Sony has another winner on the way

When George Clooney's "The Ides of March" screened for press at Venice, the reception was somewhat chilly. Bowing a film about political corruption to European audiences is always going to be a dicey play. And maybe it would have been wiser to choose a different venue for the reveal. I don't make these decisions.

But then the film played Toronto and similarly "meh" reactions were floating around. One critic went so far as to call it a "watered down version of 'Primary Colors.'" And so, at the time, I put up a post corralling some of these reviews and one-offs and titled it "Naiveté you can believe in," because the issue simply seemed to be that treating political corruption as profound insight was just silly in this day and age.

Here's the thing, though. After seeing the film last night, I feel strongly that "The Ides of March" isn't acting as if its pulling back a veil. It's handling, quite matter-of-factly, political corruption and scandal and the back-bitery of the Washington game as simple and plain harsh truth. I didn't read any of this to be presented as epiphany in the slightest, and indeed, I find it to be one of the most refined films of the year.

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<p>Albert Brooks starred as Marlin the Clownfish opposite Ellen DeGeneres in the 2003 animated hit &quot;Finding Nemo.&quot;</p>

Albert Brooks starred as Marlin the Clownfish opposite Ellen DeGeneres in the 2003 animated hit "Finding Nemo."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Albert Brooks on being a part of the Pixar family and his sequel pitch for 'Finding Nemo 2'

Are you ready for 'Getting Rid of Nemo?'

Thursday afternoon -- thanks to the miracle of Twitter -- I got "Drive" star Albert Brooks on the phone for a half hour to talk about his work in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive." The performance is really stirring the circuit up as Brooks lights up the campaign trail with his trademark humor and charm.

That interview will land in a few days, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to discuss a few other, extraneous things with Brooks about his work on other features and his wonderful presence on the social networking site that hooked us up. So over the next couple of days, I thought I'd drop in a few of those nuggets on the way to the big piece itself next week.

Today, it's all about "Finding Nemo" and Brooks's place in the Pixar family. The film is still my favorite Pixar effort, and for a long time it was the studio's most financially successful film. Indeed, it was the highest-grossing animated feature of all time until "Shrek 2" knocked it off its perch a year later. (This year, due to re-release, "The Lion King" has also leap-frogged it, while "Toy Story 3" became Pixar's all time box office champ last year.) "Finding Nemo" is also one of the Pixar films that hasn't been sullied (no pun intended -- if you caught that, that is) by a sequel. But Brooks has some choice thoughts on that in today's pull quote.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 62 -- 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' is icy and smooth (and good!), but is it Oscar?

Oscar Talk: Ep. 62 -- 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' is icy and smooth (and good!), but is it Oscar?

Also: 'Moneyball' opens to raves, 'The Ides of March' screens post-Toronto, 'Pearl Jam Twenty,' 'Melancholia' and the Academy's latest rule change

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 the year's 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 marks our first podcast at the new HitFix digs (see, I promised we'd push forward without a hitch). And there's a lot to discuss. It's been a busy week of screenings and interviews and more. "Moneyball" kind of announces the start of the season's major Oscar hopefuls by releasing today and the Academy has made a change to its rules and regulations that deserves addressing, to say nothing of the various films that have screened that are worth chewing on. So with all that in mind, let's see what's on the docket today...

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<p>&nbsp;John Noble</p>
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 John Noble

Watch: John Noble teases 'Fringe' Season 4

How did the finale twist impact Walter and Walternate?
I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that John Noble is HitFix's Most Interviewed Man. 
 
Last fall, I chatted with the "Fringe" star on the show's Vancouver set (where we also shared a key scene together) and then one week later on video. We talked again via a weird video/sattelite/phone set-up in the spring and then Sepinwall gabbed with Noble (and Anna Torv) at Comic-Con in July.
 
It's a good thing that Noble is a spectacularly gracious and thoughtful interview and that when it comes to "Fringe," Walter Bishop and Walternate, 
 
We had plenty of new things to talk about when we sat down last week, including how Walter and Walternate are impacted by last season's big "Fringe" finale twist and how viewers can still catch up with "Fringe" in time for Friday's (September 23) premiere. 
 
Enjoy.
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<p>Margo Martindale and Patrick Wilson in &quot;A&nbsp;Gifted Man.&quot;</p>

Margo Martindale and Patrick Wilson in "A Gifted Man."

Credit: CBS

Interview: 'A Gifted Man' co-star Margo Martindale

How did the Emmy-winning 'Justified' actress wind up on a CBS medical drama?

One of the most satisfying moments on Sunday night's Emmys came when Margo Martindale won for her performance as hillbilly crime lord Mags Bennet on FX's "Justified." It was the role of a lifetime for a hardworking but largely anonymous character actress, and she played it brilliantly.

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<p>Rainn Wilson and James Spader on &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Rainn Wilson and James Spader on "The Office."

Credit: NBC

'The Office' - 'The List': Winners and losers

James Spader takes over, and the Scranton branch gets a new manager

"The Office" is back, with James Spader as the new CEO and a new branch manager, and I have a review of the season premiere coming up just as soon as I agree with your analysis of Elmo...

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