(thanks, mecid!)


Twenty-one features have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 85th Academy Awards®.

The 21 submitted features, listed in alphabetical order by title, are:

  • “Adventures in Zambezia”
  • “Brave”
  • “Delhi Safari”
  • “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax”
  • “Frankenweenie”
  • “From Up on Poppy Hill”
  • “Hey Krishna”
  • “Hotel Transylvania” Continue reading…

Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.

What I’ve learned about the Oscar race from watching the 2012 election

There are many similarities between the Oscar race and the US presidential election. Pundits are generally divided up into teams, much like the Democrats and Republicans. The voters are bombarded with ads, charming persuaders, bloggers who try to tip the race in one direction or another because they believe in the best film winning. The critics and guild awards function like state by state polls. Various producers and publicists take informal polls that are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Odds-makers predict how the race will turn out based on those factors.

Like an ill-informed electorate, many people vote for the Oscars without watching all of the movies. Just like most citizens vote without knowing all of the issues at stake. Winners are chosen on the basis of perception in both the Oscar race and in the election. That President Obama’s momentum could have shifted so dramatically after the first debate bears this out. What else but perception could have tipped the scales in the favor of the more dynamic candidate’s performance — which contained half-truths and flip-flops? It wasn’t a matter of substance, but a failure of optics. By the same token, how else do we explain movies that gain momentum and eventually win Best Picture yet have no staying power beyond the three months or so after the Oscars?

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Official Competition titles:

  • After Lucia
  • End of Watch
  • Fill the Void
  • Ginger and Rosa
  • It Was the Son
  • In the House
  • Lore
  • Midnight’s Children
  • Rust and Bone (winner)
  • No
  • Seven Psychopaths

First Feature Competition

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (winner)
  • Clip
  • The Comedian
  • Eat Sleep Die
  • My Brother The Devil
  • Neighbouring Sounds
  • The Samurai That Night
  • Shell
  • Ship of Thesues
  • Sleeper’s Wake
  • Tomorrow
  • Wadjda

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Pencil in David Oyelowo’s name for a 2014 Best Actor nomination.

(Via MovieWeb) David Oyelowo is set to play boxer Sugar Ray Robinson in the biopic Sweet Thunder, based on Wil Haygood’s biography Sweet Thunder: The Life And Times Of Sugar Ray Robinson.

Wil Haygood wrote the first draft of the screenplay, with producer and writer Danny Strong looking to possibly do a second draft, depending on who the director is. Moneyball’s Rachael Horovitz is also producing.

Sweet Thunder will follow Sugar Ray Robinson’s exploits throughout his early career, and his refusal to get into the ring with organized crime, which cost him quite a few title bouts. The film will look at how the boxer helped expose the seedy underbelly of the organization, making it a more legitimate sport.

(thanks Alan of Montreal via EW) No more Ricky Gervais: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards. The duo will anchor NBC’s live coverage of the program on Jan. 13 from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

“Having both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on board to host this year’s festivities is a major coup,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night. “Tina and Amy have a proven chemistry and comedic timing from their many years together on SNL to their successful co-starring roles in Baby Mama.”

Gervais hosted the event the past three years, drawing some criticism for his jokes being supposedly too harsh the first couple times, and then too soft during his third round. Gervais managed to keep the show’s ratings relatively stable across all three telecasts, hovering just under 17 million viewers. The announcement comes on the heels of ABC tapping Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane to host the Oscars next year.

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An unlikely friendship forms between 21 year-old Jane and the elderly Sadie after Jane discovers a hidden stash of money inside an object at Sadie’s yard sale. Starring Dree Hemingway (yes, great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, daughter of Mariel Hemingway), with Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, and Karren Karagulian.


Always risky to say a movie is a unanimous hit with critics because even as the raves stack up we never know if a writer will come along to undermine a great average. Today with 40 top critics weighed in, it feels safe to name Argo the best rated mainstream movie of 2012. It vaults to the top of the heap with an 87 average. Metacritic rates 13 reviews as perfect scores of 100 and more 3/4 of the reviews rank higher than 80. With no negative reviews whatsoever and only 4 that are somewhat middling, Argo has achieved that rarity of critical consensus — it’s not even polarizing; it’s an undisputed smash. The critics agree with Lou Lumenick: Argo is “a blue-chip Oscar contender.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Ben Affleck not only stars in but also directs, and “Argo,” the real movie about the fake movie, is both spellbinding and surprisingly funny. Many of the laughs come from the Hollywood guys played by Goodman and Arkin, although to be sure, as they set up a fake production office and hold meetings poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel, they aren’t in danger like their “crew members” in Iran…

The craft in this film is rare. It is so easy to manufacture a thriller from chases and gunfire, and so very hard to fine-tune it out of exquisite timing and a plot that’s so clear to us we wonder why it isn’t obvious to the Iranians. After all, who in their right mind would believe a space opera was being filmed in Iran during the hostage crisis? Just about everyone, it turns out. Hooray for Hollywood.

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

It’s a doozy of a story and so borderline ridiculous that it sounds like something that could have been cooked up only by Hollywood. Ben Affleck, however, who directed “Argo” from a script by Chris Terrio and cast himself in the pivotal role of Tony Mendez, realized that comedy alone wouldn’t do. American lives, after all, were at stake (a situation that contemporary viewers will be all too familiar with), and so, after opening the movie with a bit of history and archival imagery, he rushes into the moment’s jarring, unsettling craziness with a cinematic whoosh…

Better yet, after setting your pulse racing, he smoothly downshifts, easing from the high anxiety of the opener — which evokes 1970s political thrillers like Sydney Pollack’s “Three Days of the Condor” — into something looser, mellower and funny.

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Now there is a movie on the horizon starring Lindsay Lohan.  Lohan is to Hollywood what Bret Easton Ellis has become to literature, although Lohan’s fate seems a bit more tragic. Both of them have been banking on power they once possessed when they were much younger. Ellis has a couple of good books under his belt but people have always thought of him as a gimmick. Lohan had promise. She hung out with the wrong crowd and then did some weird stuff to her face and now has become a free-for-all for media stoning.

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – A record 71 countries, including first-time entrant Kenya, have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards®.

The 2012 submissions are:

  • Afghanistan, “The Patience Stone,” Atiq Rahimi, director;
  • Albania, “Pharmakon,” Joni Shanaj, director;
  • Algeria, “Zabana!” Said Ould Khelifa, director;
  • Argentina, “Clandestine Childhood,” Benjamín Ávila, director;
  • Armenia, “If Only Everyone,” Natalia Belyauskene, director;
  • Australia, “Lore,” Cate Shortland, director;
  • Austria, “Amour,” Michael Haneke, director;
  • Azerbaijan, “Buta,” Ilgar Najaf, director;
  • Bangladesh, “Pleasure Boy Komola,” Humayun Ahmed, director;
  • Belgium, “Our Children,” Joachim Lafosse, director;
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Children of Sarajevo,” Aida Begic, director;
  • Brazil, “The Clown,” Selton Mello, director;
  • Bulgaria, “Sneakers,” Valeri Yordanov and Ivan Vladimirov, directors;

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Official HD platform at Apple trailers. Alternate source after the cut.

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It’s a good time of the year to remind ourselves of what I consider to be the Ten Commandments of Oscar Watching.  It’s important to remember them because they are always forgotten. The truth is, there is no there there right now. There is a lot of hot air, a lot of people making sweeping assumptions and generalizations based on their own impressions of a film — or by talking to other bloggers and film critics at parties — or film festivals. But none of it is real yet. The race is fluid, not static.

Herewith, the Ten Commandments of Oscar Watching

1) Though shalt not predict a movie to WIN that has not yet been seen.  It’s tempting — I want to put Les Miserables and Lincoln right at the top but anyone who’s been at this a while knows that it’s not a wise thing to do. Sure, you can spit in the wind and maybe you’ll be right on down the road but it’s always better to go with what you know versus what you don’t know.  Right now I feel like three films can win: Argo, Silver Linings and Life of Pi. None of them have been reviewed by the majority of critics (which will make a difference in how they are perceived) and none of them have yet opened to the public (also makes a difference). They are all November releases, so we will know pretty soon how the majority of people will respond to these three films.  But it’s an even bigger gamble to say Les Miserables is going to win because as yet, no one has seen anything except the trailer. Ditto Lincoln, The Hobbit and Zero Dark Thirty.

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pi 1

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” – Albert Einstein

The glorious, profound absurdity of it all parades before our eyes in spectacular 3-D in Ang Lee’s adaptation of Life of Pi. Based on the Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel, this film takes you where you need to go, then yanks you back playfully, and finally delivers onto a choice. Just as there are two distinct ways of looking at the celebrated, mysterious number pi, most of us come at our lives battling the duality of science vs. religion. For those who aren’t spiritual or religious, the notion of equating the two is ridiculous. Because humans see beauty and magic in all things does not mean that it was planned by a higher being. And yet, even the least religious among us will cry out in moments of horror or ecstasy, “oh god!” We do this because we have no other word.

Life of Pi follows the story of an Indian boy who calls himself Pi. He spends much of his young life yearning towards religion. He follows the teachings of three — Christianity, Hinduism and Islam — and all the while observes the animals in the zoo his family owns and maintains. Early on, he learns an important lesson about the Royal Bengal tiger, that to the tiger he is nothing but food. He may put his hand in the cage in a gesture of trust, but that doesn’t mean the tiger will recognize the offer as friendship. The existence of God perhaps helped explain nature’s wonders before science provided other answers. But as mankind discovered earthly explanations, our hyper-aware sensibilities put us at odds with the godly. For some, the quest for answers has set us eternally out of balance with the stark truth of the natural world.

Pi and his family and all of their zoo animals ship out, Noah’s Ark style, on a journey to a new home in Canada . The plan is to sell off the animals to raise enough money to start a new life, but at sea their ship is hit by a brutal storm. Pi is cast out into the darkness and barely survives, holding on to a small boat. When the storm clears, Pi finds himself alive and adrift with an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra. If you haven’t read the book I won’t tell you what happens next except to say that eventually Pi and a tiger he names Richard Parker are thrust together in a story of survival.

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Nicole and Mia are the in the headline for eye-grabs. I was going to begin this intro by joking” “with Matthew Goode as Uncle Charlie” — but then I see that’s no joke. The nod to Shadow of a Doubt is none too subtle. I tingle to think what Hitchcock would have been to do if he never had to worry about mid-century American Codes of Morality.

After India’s (Mia Wasikowska’s) father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

From the Academy Award-nominated directors of Jesus Camp, Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, Detropia premiered September 7 and is showcased in select theaters across the country.

Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century— the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.

The New Yorker’s David Denby says, “Detropia, a lyrical film about the destruction of a great American city, is the most moving documentary I’ve seen in years.”

It has its share of forlorn images the office buildings with empty eye sockets for windows; the idle, rotting factories with their fantastic networking of chutes, pipes, and stacks. Yet the filmmakers, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (who comes from Detroit), are so attuned to color and shape that they have made a beautiful film. We’re looking at new ruins, American ruins the remains of industrial ambition, a kind of impromptu graveyard of capitalism and the survivors, hanging on, exhibit a mix of awed mournfulness and good cheer. The city’s history is evoked by such chroniclers and guides as George McGregor, a warmly sympathetic union veteran; Crystal Starr, a young video blogger, who breaks into abandoned buildings and installs herself in offices now trashed and empty, as if she had worked there years ago; and Tommy Stephens, a former teacher, who warns of revolution if the middle class continues to be eviscerated. At the end, as young people move in to claim the cheap real estate, the movie hints at a fresh surge of capitalist ebullience and a possible revival.

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