Best Film: Zero Dark Thirty
(tied for 2nd: Moonrise Kingdom and Amour)
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
(2nd: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master)
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
(2nd: Denis Lavant, Holy Motors)
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva , Amour
(2nd: Deanie Yip, A Simple Life)
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field, Lincoln
(2nd: Emma Watson, Perks of Being a Wallflower)
Best Supporting Actor: Ezra Miller, Perks of Being a Wallflower
(2nd: Christof Waltz, Django Unchained)
Best Screenplay: Tony Kushner,Lincoln
(2nd: Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom)
Best Cinematography: Mihai Malaimare Jr, The Master
(tied for 2nd: Moonrise Kingdon, Life of Pi)
Best Editing: William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor, Zero Dark Thirty
(2nd: Argo)
Best Use of Music: Moonrise Kingdom
(2nd: Django Unchained)
Best New Filmmaker: David France, How to Survive a Plague
(2nd: Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Best Documentary: How to Survive a Plague
(2nd: Queen of Versailles)
Best Animated: Frankenweenie
(2nd: ParaNorman)
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour
(2nd: Holy Motors)

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The BIFAs will be handed out Sunday night. Here are the nominees.

Berberian Sound Studio
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Imposter

Bart Layton – The Imposter
Ben Wheatley – Sightseers
John Madden – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Peter Strickland – Berberian Sound Studio
Rufus Norris – Broken

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by Chris Dale

Making a case for Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not an easy task. It’s a deserving film, no doubt, but there is no sparkle, no pizzazz, no excitement. It’s the rare film that does nothing more than try to tell a story in a clean, unsophisticated way. It has a firm sense of time, place and character, you know, the fundamentals. It’s not quirky, nor experimental, nor innovative. You will not leave the theater thinking that what you’ve seen is revolutionary, groundbreaking or inventive.

Nor does the film have a pedigree that grabs your attention. The film is written and directed by Chbosky who adapted it from a young adult novel he wrote 13 years prior. Its cast is largely unknown or unheralded. The only cast member with major film experience is Emma Watson from the Harry Potter series, which many will more likely see as a detriment than a positive. And to make it an even harder sell to voters it hasn’t done particularly well at the box office. At only 16 million dollars, to many this film is a mostly forgettable coming-of-age teen movie that got a handful of good critical notices. “Next!” you can hear the crotchety old Hollywood legend yell as he sifts through his stack of screeners.

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Netflix is about to get a lot more interesting. I am positing a theory — or to quote Woody Allen, I have a notion that I’m thinking of turning into a concept and then maybe later into an idea — and that is that on demand entertainment is the future. Save for cable, network television has become mostly a wasteland. With new TVs being easily able to connect to wi-fi for, say, Netflix streaming which costs practically nothing and allows you to watch any movie or TV show any time without censoring or ads.  Most of the teenagers I know don’t watch TV, they watch Netflix.  It’s taking us oldens longer to catch on.  Right now, it’s mostly wide open for original programming. David Fincher and co are about to change that. With House of Cards set to debut — the possibilities have just busted wide open.

From what I gather, the series will be on Netflix to watch all at once; you won’t have to wait a week to see the next episode but I could be wrong about that. Here are some trailers. I can’t wait to devour them all in one day.  Fincher directs the first three and the rest of them are directed by various others.



One of the nicer surprises of the fall movie season has turned out to be Robert Zemeckis’ Flight starring Denzel Washington as an airline pilot who heroically rescues 150 passengers from certain death only to have it discovered he was loaded on booze and cocaine at the time. What follows is a genre-defying entertainment that challenges and sometimes flies in the face of an audience’s notions of right and wrong.

Flight is a passion project from screenwriter John Gatins who started his Hollywood career as an actor over two decades ago and who struggled with his own addiction issues before cleaning up and shifting his focus to writing. His highest profile credit is probably the 2011 Hugh Jackman pic Real Steel, but Gatins also wrote and directed the family sports drama Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning in 2005.

I recently sat down with Gatins over breakfast to talk about Flight.

Craig Kennedy: The first thing that strikes me about Flight is that it’s not really a genre movie you can fit into a specific box in an era where it seems that’s all Hollywood wants. How did you get it done?

John Gatins: I tell you, that was the struggle that I had in the 12 years I was trying to finish the script and ultimately get the movie made. You know, because I was trying to direct this movie as well and I was writing it on spec. There was no boss who was saying, “Where is it?” It was me kind of trying to sort it out and tell the story as I was writing it and it kept wanting to be a character piece. There aren’t a lot of movies where you can say “Let’s go see this movie. It’s just about this guy.” It’s never just about “this guy” it has to be a sports drama about a guy or a biography about a guy. But, having Robert Zemeckis as the director was great and having Denzel Washington in the lead was fantastic. He’s a guy who has an audience that’s faithful.

Craig: Suddenly it’s not just a character piece, it’s a Denzel Washington movie and that’s something you can sell to a studio…

John: And the fact that Bob and Denzel pushed off their salaries. That’s what made it go, the idea that we were going to make this movie for $30 million, because that was kind of an undeniable piece of business. Even though the movie wasn’t a genre movie, it fit the math. You get a Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington movie for $30 million. I think you could go to any studio in town and they’d buy that. Right? So, it gave us the opportunity to make the movie that we made which has a dark, complicated character right in the middle of it. It’s got issues that are not the most film friendly. You know, I can’t say to you, “Hey man, let’s look at this list of 10 addiction movies that made $100 million.” They don’t exist.

Craig: It’s a risky subject and also it’s R-rated which is something studios have been skittish about…

John: Look at a movie like Argo. I like that movie. That’s another R-rated film and they’ve done well and people have responded. It’s satisfying to them. So, I’m hoping there’s a little bit more of a turn back to R-rated adult dramas like we had in the ’70s. I’ve been on panels with all the cast and it’s interesting because a lot of people talk about it like it’s something they haven’t seen in a long time. Don Cheadle was like, “I don’t know if Kramer vs. Kramer gets made today.”

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The year’s best documentaries – Ken Burns, The Central Park Five doc, Queen of Versailles, Samsara, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and West of Memphis shut out of the Oscar race. That is mind-blowing. The new rules were supposed to stop this kind of assfuckery from happening. I remain astounded. Then again, they always have their weird ways of doing things and can’t be predicted. They seem to always resent it when others try to predict what they will or won’t do. This, I have to say, is a NEW LOW.  It’s a terrible thing, too, to have the Central Park Five win the New York Film Critics the same day AMPAS releases its 15 finalists:

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

  • “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” Never Sorry LLC
  • “Bully,” The Bully Project LLC
  • “Chasing Ice,” Exposure
  • “Detropia,” Loki Films
  • “Ethel,” Moxie Firecracker Films
  • “5 Broken Cameras,” Guy DVD Films
  • “The Gatekeepers,” Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil
  • “The House I Live In,” Charlotte Street Films, LLC
  • “How to Survive a Plague,” How to Survive a Plague LLC
  • “The Imposter,” Imposter Pictures Ltd.
  • “The Invisible War,” Chain Camera Pictures
  • “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” Jigsaw Productions in association with
  • Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films
  • “Searching for Sugar Man,” Red Box Films
  • “This Is Not a Film,” Wide Management
  • “The Waiting Room,” Open’hood, Inc.

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Best Animated Feature

  • Brave – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Frankenweenie – The Walt Disney Studios
  • Hotel Transylvania – Sony Pictures Animation
  • ParaNorman – Focus Features
  • Rise of the Guardians – DreamWorks Animation
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Aardman Animations
  • The Rabbi’s Cat – GKIDS
  • Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production

  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 – Warner Bros. Animation
  • Before Orel – Trust – Starburns Industries, Inc.
  • Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – Illumination Entertainment
  • Disney Tron: Uprising – Beck’s Beginning – Disney TV Animation
  • Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury – DreamWorks Animation
  • Justice League: Doom – Warner Bros. Animation

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Davis Edelstein at New York Magazine is early out of the gate with his Top 10 films of 2012.

1. Zero Dark Thirty
It opens in darkness with sounds, sirens, and sobbing phone calls from the burning Twin Towers. Revenge—such as it is—will take time. Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller is mercilessly gripping. It’s all hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. Captured suspects don’t want to talk, and wearing them down—with waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other methods of extreme interrogation—takes weeks, months, each day uglier than the last.

…Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (who wrote The Hurt Locker) give you one lonely protagonist, but she’s not in every scene and she doesn’t fight—except to make herself heard: a CIA analyst, played by the arresting Jessica Chastain, who shows her character’s rage via tension in her face and body. This is a phenomenal piece of action filmmaking—and an even better piece of nonaction filmmaking. It also borders on the politically and morally reprehensible. By showing these excellent results—and by silencing the cries of the innocents held at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other “black sites”—it makes a case for the efficacy of torture. How to reconcile these two feelings? The debate begins December 19.

2. Lincoln
Steven Spielberg comes at our sixteenth president from an unexpected angle: He’s an executive pushing a vital piece of legislation through a Congress full of boobs, cowards, and racists. How modern. The peerless Daniel Day-Lewis lets you see the wheels turning in that overfamiliar head. James Spader, John Hawkes, and Tim Blake Nelson can lobby for me anytime.

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1. The Master
2. Tabu
3. Amour
4. Holy Motors
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Berberian Sound Studio
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. Beyond the Hills
8. Cosmopolis
8. Once upon a Time in Anatolia
8. This is Not a Film

(thanks to Sean Wu at thescreenteen)

In the past year, Omar Sy has gone from being a French comedy writer and actor, to a star known internationally for his dramatic performance in The Intouchables. In February of this year Sy won the Cesar Award (France’s Oscar) for Best Actor, beating out a group of actors including his co-star, legendary French actor Francois Cluzet, and Jean Dujardin for The Artist. Since then, The Intouchables has since spent the year playing all over the world, and has become the highest-grossing French film of all time. The Intouchables, from writing and directing team Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, is the story of an unlikely friendship between Philippe, a wealthy quadriplegic (Cluzet), and Driss (Sy), the young man from the projects hired to be his caretaker. While The Intouchables could have easily felt like an after-school special, the filmmakers and cast infuse every scene with so much humanity and humor that The Intouchables is one of the most genuinely heartfelt and uplifting movies of the year. I recently had the chance to correspond with Sy, and talk about crafting such a moving film. Here’s what Sy shared with me about working with an acclaimed French actor (Cluzet), how his own experience in the projects informed the character, and how he found the comedy in tragedy to help create The Intouchables.

Jackson Truax: The Intouchables is one of the highest-grossing films worldwide not in the English language. Why do you think the film resonates so deeply with audiences all over the world?

Omar Sy: I think it is at its core a very simple, human story that transcends culture and politics. Each of us has advantages and disadvantages in our lives, and to see these unlikely people helping one another through it, with warmth and humor, it strikes a chord. In a time when life has become difficult for a lot of people, when they have become very isolated, it’s nice to see a story about triumph and friendship.

JT: This is your third film with co-directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. How has your collaboration with them evolved over the course of making several films?

Sy: When we first worked together many years ago, none of us had done anything. When they asked me if I wanted to act in their first film, I said “I’m not really an actor,” and they said “That’s okay, we’re not really directors.” Now they are amazing directors, and since we have done a few films together, there’s a lot of trust between us.

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There isn’t anything better than a great director working with a great screenwriter. Despite how many screenwriters there are in Los Angeles (rumor has it, there are more screenwriters here than people), there are precious few of them who can lay it down in any meaningful way. If the director picks a good writer and a solid script there is less distance to bridge between the written word and great cinema. The truth about the Oscars is that the screenplay categories, like most categories, tell us more about the best films of the year than they do the best screenplays. The doubling the number of nominees into dual categories of adapted and original also makes room for winners who couldn’t win in Picture or Director as a way of honoring the film, like Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation. The categories also make room for up and comers to shine even if their films have no prayer of entering any of the other major categories. JC Chandor getting a surprise nomination for Margin Call last year is a fine example of that. The Oscars take a lot of heat for “ruining movies” and being a “popularity contest,” but there is nothing like them for boosting the career of a virtual unknown. An Oscar nomination alone can change the lives of obscure, struggling writers who are lit up for that brief moment of time.

Best Picture heat is almost always the driving force behind winners in either category, original or adapted. Last year, The Descendants and Midnight in Paris were both formidable Best Picture contenders with nominations across the board. Maybe they had no chance to win the top prize, or even director, but they took the screenplay prizes as lasting acknowledgement of the overall work. Rarely is the screenplay win just about the writing.

What can boost a winner is the prestige the writer in the literary or screenwriting world. There was no way Aaron Sorkin or Larry McMurtry were going to lose the Oscar for writing; that would be like Bob Dylan losing the Best Original Song category. It just ain’t gonna happen. In McMurtry’s case, of course, the Best Picture winner, Crash, came from an original screenplay so they weren’t competing against each other. Something tells me if the categories had been combined, McMurtry — due to his own notoriety — would have come up the winner, but one never knows when it comes to that mysterious Crash win.

Many of the writing winners have also been the directors of their films but not always. It is probably roughly 50/50. Recent adapted winners who were also directors include The Descendants, No Country for Old Men, Sideways. Recent winners in original who were also directors include Almost Famous, Talk to Her, Lost in Translation, and Crash. It hardly ever happens that the writers of an original screenplay wins the category, director and picture. I think the last time it happened was Annie Hall.

Working back from the strongest Best Picture contenders, there are the collaborators and the auteurs. Different writers and directors versus the same writer and director. Let’s take a quick look at the strongest so far.

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LOS ANGELES, CA (November 30, 2012) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today the Documentary Motion Picture nominees that will advance in the voting process for the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards.

The nominated films, listed below in alphabetical order, are:


All other nominations for the 2013 Producers Guild Award categories will be announced on January 3, 2013, along with the individual producers.

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Ben Affleck, Ang Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Gus Van Sant,  Tom Hooper, David O. Russell gather for the director’s edition of THR‘s roundtable series. Some choice quotes after the cut.

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Gale Anne Hurd will receive the Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award The Third Annual Athena Film Festival: A Celebration of Women and Leadership. Additional awardees will include Ava DuVernay, Molly Haskell, Rose Kuo, and Pat Mitchell.

New York, NY – Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, along with Women and Hollywood, announce that the third annual Athena Film Festival, A Celebration of Women and Leadership, will take place February 7-10, 2013 on Barnard’s campus in Morningside Heights. Honoring extraordinary women in the film industry and showcasing films that address women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world, the festival will include Q and A sessions with producers and directors, Hollywood conversations and special workshops for women filmmakers.

The Athena Film Festival is proud to announce this year’s recipients of the Athena Film Festival Awards, which honor noted actors, directors, producers and other members of the film industry for their leadership and creative accomplishments. Gale Anne Hurd, producer of The Walking Dead, will receive The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement Award. Additional awardees include Ava DuVernay, director of Middle of Nowhere and founder of the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM); Molly Haskell, film critic and author of the landmark film book From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies; Rose Kuo, executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media.

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by Craig Kennedy

I recently sat down to a couple of one on one interviews for the upcoming adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. The first was with the film’s co-star Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and the second was with screenwriter Jose Rivera and director Walter Salles who had previously collaborated on the highly acclaimed The Motorcycle Diaries (2004). Those interviews will be coming shortly, but in the mean time I wanted to pull out some of the more interesting responses from the roundtable with Kristen Stewart which took place on the same day.

Stewart of course is on everyone’s mind right now as the last chapter of the Twilight Saga rakes in cash at the multiplex, but it’s easy to forget that she’s also carved out a nice niche for herself and done some of her best work in smaller scale films like Into the Wild, The Runaways, Welcome to the Rileys and now On the Road.

In front of cameras and in front of the media since before she was even a teenager, a lot of ink has been spilled about Stewart and her personal life so it’s not all that surprising she’s kind of a guarded presence. She has a reputation for being a difficult interview, but I don’t blame her. This is what happens in a world where a young woman’s behavior can be trumpeted as a “scandal” in tabloid headlines even when whatever it is all falls well within the boundaries of the law. We’re a society that seems to need to build people up and tear them back down again and it can’t be easy being buffeted by those forces at an age when a lot of people are still trying to figure out what they want to do with themselves.

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Marshall Flores writes: Irrational, circular, and transcendent – these three adjectives can describe many things: the conundrums of the universe, the mathematical properties of numbers such as pi. They also apply to the following short story, which I will use as a preface and frame for this review.

I know two people who had a long distance friendship. It was probably wholly inappropriate, but sometimes you find yourself drawn to someone even if you end up subverting many social norms that pertain to relationships. In any case, it was a close friendship that eventually couldn’t hold. Conflicts turned into total disconnect – ultimately, the friendship silently disintegrated. After one and a half years, one attempted to reconcile with the other. The catalyst: Life of Pi.

A film adaption of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi offers an introspective take on the mysterious, beautiful nature of life. A marvel of storytelling and visual resplendence, it tells the tale of Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a young, religious teenager who, after a tragic shipwreck, is suddenly thrust into a harrowing journey on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – a journey replete with spiritual motifs as well as extraordinary (and often dangerous) encounters with nature. Life of Pi is not only a parable for survival and the resilience of the human spirit; it is also a meditation on the mercurial, madcap, but ultimately glorious disposition of life in this universe. It is one of the very best films of 2012.

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James Franco: actor, writer, director, Oscar host. One thing I love about Franco is that he doesn’t seem to really care what people think about him. They try to laugh him out of Hollywood for everything he does but he keeps creating stuff anyway. He is now working on a film adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Here is his latest foray into video directing, Collapse into Now for REM. It’s a moody meditation on Hollywood decaying at the fringe. I think that’s Lindsay being photographed by porn filter photographer Terry Richardson. The song Blue is great – and if the video did anything it made me download REM’s album.

This gives you a pretty good idea of what the movie Hitchcock is about:

Just my own note on this: making stuff about Alma and Hitchcock works to create a more dramatic picture but beware of filling in what you don’t know about people. This is a fictional account of their relationship. The only thing people know for sure is that she worked closely with him during their entire relationship. She wasn’t acknowledged, that’s also true. But beyond that…think of it as “just a movie” and you will enjoy it more than quibbling with the facts.

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