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<p>Scarlett Johansson at the Rome premiere of &quot;Her.&quot;</p>

Scarlett Johansson at the Rome premiere of "Her."

Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

McConaughey and Johansson win in Rome, as 'Her' campaign gathers pace

The actress looks to become the first-ever Oscar nominee for a voice performance
The Rome Film Festival isn't traditionally a headline-grabbing event -- in terms of prestige and pulling power, it's still emerging from the shadow of Venice, the former ward of Rome festival director Marco Mueller. And sure enough, not even a Best Film win from the James Gray-led jury will get many people talking about Alberto Fasulo's "TIR," an Italian hybrid documentary about a truck driver's lonely life on the road. (Even that choice seems to echo the Venice fest, after the surprising Golden Lion win for Italian highway documentary "Sacro GRA" in September.)
Still, with their acting awards, Gray's jury -- intentionally or otherwise -- secured a bit of media attention for the festival with two very starry choices. Matthew McConaughey took Best Actor for "Dallas Buyers Club," while Scarlett Johansson was their Best Actress pick for "Her."
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<p>Ethan (left)&nbsp;and Joel Coen at the AFI&nbsp;Fest premiere of &quot;Inside Llewyn&nbsp;Davis&quot;</p>

Ethan (left) and Joel Coen at the AFI Fest premiere of "Inside Llewyn Davis"

Credit: AP Photo

Joel and Ethan Coen discuss 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' long-time collaborations and the allure of New York

Also: Thoughts on filling the very big shoes of cinematographer Roger Deakins

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — "Inside Llewyn Davis" is the Joel and Ethan Coen's 16th feature to date. Starring Oscar Isaac as a shade of New York folk singer Dave Van Ronk, it tells the story of the scene that Bob Dylan came into, the calm before a storm. It's a love letter to music of the era, making for a potent collaboration — their fourth — with music maestro T Bone Burnett.

The filmmaker siblings are notoriously difficult interviews, though in most of my experiences with them it's been pleasant. You just can't drop the usual mundane queries and expect excitement. But when you key on to something they really want to discuss, usually something that has nothing to do with the film at hand, they light up. They don't suffer too much heady consideration about their work and remain pragmatic, almost refreshingly so, in the face of such things. Nevertheless, they collectively make for one of the most vital voices in all of American art.

I recently sat down with the duo to discuss, among other things, long-standing collaborations, the allure of stardom and the romance of New York City. Read our back and forth below.

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<p>Sandra Bullock at the Hollywood Film Awards last month.</p>

Sandra Bullock at the Hollywood Film Awards last month.

Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: Bullock joins McConaughey on Palm Springs honor roll

Also: 2013's best undistributed films, and campaigning at the Governors' Awards

As I wrote last week, the Palm Springs Film Festival makes a habit of giving their annual Desert Palm Achievement Awards to surefire Best Actor and Actress Oscar nominees, and they've almost certainly maintained that record this year. Matthew McConaughey was recent named the first recipient; now he's joined by "Gravity" star Sandra Bullock -- "the epitome of cinematic talent and versatility," in the words of fest chairman Harold Matzner. (I bow to no one in my love for Bullock, but... the epitome?) The actress, currently Cate Blanchett's chief challenger in the Best Actress race, will be presented with the honor at the festival's awards gala on January 4. [PSIFF]

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<p>While Olaf the Snowman is front and center in all the marketing, Disney may be doing themselves a disservice with their campaign.</p>

While Olaf the Snowman is front and center in all the marketing, Disney may be doing themselves a disservice with their campaign.

Credit: Walt Disney Feature Animation

Review: 'Frozen' is a classic Disney musical told on a grand and beautiful scale

So why isn't the studio selling the film they made?

Let's be frank: "Little Shop Of Horrors" is the best thing to ever happen to the Disney company, and they had absolutely nothing to do with it on stage or on film.

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's stage production was a grimy, crazy, bloody little rock musical that featured the end of the world, a sadistic abusive dentist, murder, and a man-eating plant, and it was a huge off-Broadway hit. During the five years it ran, Disney went through the roughest years for their animation division ever. "The Fox and the Hound" opened the decade with a swing and a miss, and in 1985, "The Black Cauldron" came very close to closing the doors for good.

No matter what small charms they possessed, both "The Great Mouse Detective" and "Oliver & Company" represent a company that is floundering, unsure what to do or how to do it. There were some amazingly talented people working on those films, both holdovers from the actual era of Walt Disney himself and young artists who would later reshape the industry, but they weren't making movies that really showcased all that talent. They were making films that felt like they were on auto-pilot, playing to a model that no longer worked.

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<p>Christian Bale approves of Bat-kid, because WHO&nbsp;WOULDN'T&nbsp;APPROVE&nbsp;OF BAT-KID?!</p>

Christian Bale approves of Bat-kid, because WHO WOULDN'T APPROVE OF BAT-KID?!

Credit: HitFix

Christian Bale talks Bat-kid and the ongoing legacy of Batman

Even the Dark Knight was moved by the goings-on in San Francisco

It was hard to avoid mention of the Bat-kid online this weekend, and for good reason. It was an enormously sweet story with some amazing images available, a pretty great combination.

Earlier today, I sat down with Christian Bale to talk about his work in the new film "Out Of The Furnace," and it was pretty obvious from the moment I walked into the room that he was in a great mood. I know Bale has a reputation for being very intense, but I've always found him to be a thoughtful, articulate interview. You just have to walk in ready to have a real conversation. Today, though, there was that extra something, no doubt motivated in part by the pride he takes in his work in the film.

I had to ask him about Bat-kid, but not just about the boy. I mean, I think it's safe to say that no one's going to be coming out as strongly anti-Bat-kid in the press any time soon. My question was more about how it feels to be part of a legacy that can inspire people the way they were inspired by this story.

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Christian Bale

Credit: AP Photo

Christian Bale says to expect 'shocking stuff' from Ridley Scott's Moses epic 'Exodus'

The 'Out of the Furnace' star comments on a different Moses for a different era

At the AFI Fest premiere of "Out of the Furnace" last weekend, director Scott Cooper pardoned the absence of Christian Bale by quipping, "He's parting the Red Sea as Moses in the Canary Islands, but he really wanted to be here." Indeed, Bale has been hard at work filming Ridley Scott's "Exodus" these last few weeks, and the actor told HitFix in a recent interview that audiences can expect a far cry from what Charlton Heston and Cecil B. DeMille delivered 60 years ago.

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<p>Finn Wittrock and Beau Bridges in &quot;Masters of Sex.&quot;</p>

Finn Wittrock and Beau Bridges in "Masters of Sex."

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Masters of Sex' - 'Love And Marriage'

Margaret Scully makes an ultimatum, and Bill gets involved in Virginia's education

A review of tonight's "Masters of Sex" coming up just as soon as I expect you to act like a seismometer...

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<p>Marie and Tim of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Marie and Tim of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'One Hot Camel'

Teams raft, buggy, cook and dress camels in UAE
It's really tough to keep a good Bunny down.  That's been the lesson imparted by "The Amazing Race" for the past few weeks.
Baseball Wives Nicky & Kim finished last in the season's fourth Leg, which ended up at a Viking lodge in Norway, but it was a Keep On Racing Leg.
Then they finished last again in the seventh Leg, falling behind in Abu Dhabi, but it was a Non-Elimination Leg.
What would it take to actually knock the Baseball Wives out?
A full recap of Sunday (November 16) night's relatively fun, albeit entirely suspense-less, episode of "The Amazing Race" after the break…
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<p>David Morrissey as the Governor in &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

David Morrissey as the Governor in "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'The Walking Dead' - 'Live Bait'

The Governor makes a new family, while Rick gets the week off

A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as I have enough ammuniition to kill you every day for the next three years...

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<p>Gretchen Mol as Gillian in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Gretchen Mol as Gillian in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Havre de Grace'

Chalky seeks refuge with his mentor, while Gillian plans to run away with Roy

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I win the Beach Patrol Cup...

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<p>Rupert Friend and F. Murray Abraham in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Rupert Friend and F. Murray Abraham in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Homeland' - 'a red wheelbarrow'

Carrie tries to clear Brody's name while Saul moves his plan forward

A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I bring you breakfast in bed...

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<p>Jared Leto at the Los&nbsp;Angeles premiere of &quot;Dallas Buyers Club&quot;</p>

Jared Leto at the Los Angeles premiere of "Dallas Buyers Club"

Credit: AP Photo

Jared Leto hopes the Focus legacy will live on with new regime after 'Dallas Buyers Club'

One last hurrah on the circuit brings with it a lot of incentive

As awards season trudges forward, the two weeks surrounding AFI Fest have easily been more packed with fetes and soirees than ever before. And on Sunday afternoon, it was Universal and Focus holding events for Oscar hopefuls "Rush" and "Dallas Buyers Club" respectively.

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