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Crosstalk: Should the Oscars go back to having only 5 Best Picture nominees?

7 hours ago

Sean O’Neal: In 2009, the Academy announced that it would expand the list of Best Picture contenders to 10, a move that its then-president Sid Ganis characterized as a throwback to the crowded nominees of the 1930s and 1940s, as well as a bold step toward a future of recognizing a broader scope of movies. The decision, Ganis said, would “make it more interesting and less cloistered”—a subtle reference to the growing exhaustion with the category’s refusal to consider more popular fare, which had fueled many an op-ed during the previous year’s snubs of The Dark Knight and Wall-e. It was time for the Oscars to start reflecting the movies people actually go to see, and Ganis speculated that opening up the borders might allow for documentaries, foreign-language films, animated films—“maybe even a comedy.” Loosening up would probably also increase the chances of people actually »

- A.A. Dowd, Sean O'Neal

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Newswire: Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya to star in Steve McQueen’s new heist movie

12 hours ago

Hot off the buzz surrounding Jordan Peele’s racial horror movie Get Out, Deadline reports that star Daniel Kaluuya is set to head up the latest film from 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen. Kaluuya—whose past credits include Sicario and Kick-Ass 2—will co-star in Widows, McQueen’s new movie about four women who hope to complete a bank heist originally planned by their four late husbands. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo are also set to star, while McQueen wrote the script with Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn.

Get Out has gotten strong reviews for its mixture of racial microaggressions and macro horror, and is expected to do well at the box office this weekend. Meanwhile, Kaluuya is keeping busy, currently filming on Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther film.

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- William Hughes

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Newswire: The Obamas were also intrigued by the curiously literal title of Monster Trucks

15 hours ago

Barack Obama and his family were famously big movie buffs, taking advantage of the White House movie theater for a number of screenings of fresh movie releases. Pretty much any new movie release, in fact; that’s according to The Hollywood Reporter, which notes that some of the Obamas’ final choices included La La Land, several other Oscar contenders, and Monster Trucks.

The report doesn’t make it clear which Obama specifically requested the film, which—in case you forgot—is about a monster that is also a truck. Weinstein intern Malia? Sasha? Michelle? Barry O. himself? We might never know. Still, the Obamas’ presidential movie habit isn’t new; Bill Clinton apparently had a similar love, although he got most of his movies on DVD. “George W. Bush, not so much,” said one studio executive who fielded presidential requests.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has only asked for two movies to »

- William Hughes

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Newswire: Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement, just like he said he would

16 hours ago

Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli is beloved by cinephile purists worldwide for its commitment to hand-drawn animation, but now we have to consider how much of that was because the boss man didn’t know how to use the software. The Daily Dot reports that legendary animator and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki—who received a lifetime achievement award Oscar in 2014—is indeed coming out of retirement.

That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, though, considering the 76-year-old Miyazaki began teasing new projects mere months after officially retiring in 2013. (He threatened to retire multiple times in the decades before that, but didn’t follow through.) He’s the Steven Soderbergh of animation in that respect.

The subject matter of the project shouldn’t be much of a surprise to dedicated Ghibli-watchers, either. Based on a report published in Kotaku last fall, Miyazaki is presumably hard at ...

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- Katie Rife

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Film Club: Does Casey Affleck still stand a chance at the Oscars?

16 hours ago

The 89th annual Academy Awards are this Sunday, and to celebrate the end of another long awards season, The A.V. Club has been sitting down every day this week to discuss the major Oscar categories, offering thoughts of who will win and who should. For much of 2016, Casey Affleck was seen as the sure-fire Best Actor winner for his affecting role in Manchester By The Sea. But a lack of momentum in precursor awards has given Denzel Washington’s turn in Fences a narrow lead in the office betting pools of the world. »

- A.A. Dowd, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Film Club: Could Isabelle Huppert be the Oscars’ dark horse?

16 hours ago

The 89th annual Academy Awards are this Sunday, and to celebrate the end of another long awards season, The A.V. Club has been sitting down every day this week to discuss the major Oscar categories, offering thoughts of who will win and who should. As a dominant presence in La La Land, the presumed Best Picture front-runner, Emma Stone is seen as a lock for the Best Actress. But might the Academy instead go for French icon Isabelle Huppert, one of the most acclaimed actors in the world, up for an Oscar for the first time in her long career? »

- A.A. Dowd, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Movie Review: The car-chase thriller Collide runs on fumes

17 hours ago

Collide stars Nicholas Hoult as an American car thief and ex-drug dealer who gets involved in a cockamamie German cocaine heist in order to pay for a kidney transplant for his girlfriend (Felicity Jones) and ends up on the wrong side of a psycho trafficker (Anthony Hopkins) in a powder-blue suit. That’s more melodrama than the film needs, because Collide (titled Autobahn outside the States) has been put on this Earth for one purpose: solid, wholesome car-on-road, car-on-car action. Its English director, Eran Creevy (Welcome To The Punch), handles this with due competence—screeching tires, growling engines, grips tightening on steering wheels, and windshields shattering into glass confetti, cut from the usual surfeit of angles. The rest is unexceptional, a hodgepodge of corny voice-over and repetitive, anticlimactic plotting, with Hoult and Jones miscast as a couple of party-hardy American expats. But it isn’t unpleasant to look at.

Creevy »

- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Great Job, Internet!: Should the Oscars honor more foreign-language acting performances?

18 hours ago

Casual moviegoers who tune into this Sunday’s Oscar broadcast might be particularly surprised by one name in the Best Actress category: Isabelle Huppert. The Parisian-born French star was nominated for her turn in the French psychological thriller comedy Elle. And she joins the ranks of the less than four percent of international actors nominated for an Oscar for work in a foreign-language film. Film journalist Leigh Singer digs into that short history of foreign-language acting at the Oscars in a new video for Fandor.

Singer’s video points out that while international actors have a good chance of winning for performances in American-made English-language films (think Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained or Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men), earning a nod for a foreign-language performance is much harder. In fact Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, and Roberto Benigni remain the only three actors to win Oscars for foreign-language »

- Caroline Siede

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Watch This: Has a stranger, more mysterious film ever been nominated for Best Director?

18 hours ago

One week a month, Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases or premieres. This week: With the Academy Awards a few days away, we look back at some of the unlikeliest Oscar nominees, picking a different major category every day.

Woman In The Dunes (1964)

Now that the Academy nominates between five and 10 movies for Best Picture every year, there are rarely any surprises in the adjacent Best Director roster; only once this decade has a filmmaker (Bennett Miller) scored a nomination despite his film (Foxcatcher) being left out of the Picture race. But back when only five movies competed for the top prize, complete overlap between the two categories wasn’t as inevitable. In its prouder moments, the directing branch of the Academy would smuggle some real auteurs into its lineup, from American mavericks like John Cassavetes, David Lynch, and Spike Jonze to the same class ...

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- A.A. Dowd

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For Our Consideration: When Chicago was the black Hollywood

18 hours ago

If you happen to be in the United States and you have Netflix, check out a set that’s currently streaming called Pioneers Of African-American Cinema. It’s a collection of 20 restored feature and short films by early black American filmmakers, picked from the box set of the same title released last year by Kino Lorber—very much a labor of love. For the history of race films, as movies meant for black audiences were once called, survives as a collage of fragments, like one of those paper découpage folding screens that you will sometimes find in an antique store. Come to think of it, isn’t it interesting that we call the viewing surface of films a “screen”? Because the original function of screens is to obscure or block.

My own interest in race films started almost exactly 10 years ago, when I used to go weekly to ...

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- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Great Job, Internet!: The secrets of red-carpet underwear

18 hours ago

Oscar night is this Sunday, and one of the many questions we’ll be pondering besides who the winners are likely to be is how so many actresses get away with plunging necklines, thigh-high slits, and backless gowns on national television without revealing anything. Some of their Spanx, thong, and double-sided tape secrets are revealed in a new Racked article on “What Celebrities Wear Under Those Red Carpet Dresses.”

The article delves into the MacGyver-like tactics (one option: clear shipping tape) used to keep starlets in a sleek silhouette that will refrain from revealing too much on camera. Stylist Karen Raphael describes a variety of methods:

Raphael tells me some of the most challenging bra-less complications come by way of extremely thin fabrics. After trying silicone covers, fabric covers, medical tape, and even Band-Aids for a client’s award-show outfit, she wound up Scotch-taping an “X” over each nipple »

- Gwen Ihnat

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Newswire: Updated: Asghar Farhadi to be repped at Oscars by two outer space explorers

19 hours ago

After Donald Trump first put his immigration ban into effect, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi announced that he would not attend the Oscars regardless of whether or not he would be permitted to do so. Though the ban has since ben halted by a federal appeals court, Farhadi will still not be present Sunday, nor reportedly will anyone else involved in the making of his Best Foreign Language Film nominee The Salesman. Instead, according to Variety, Farhadi’s publicist has revealed that the movie will be represented by Anousheh Ansari and Firouz Naderi, two Iranian Americans, both of whom are known for their dedication to the subject of space exploration. Ansari is an entrepreneur who earned the superlatives of “first female private space explorer” and “first astronaut of Iranian descent” in 2006. Naderi, meanwhile, is a veteran of Nasa who in his time there served as director of Solar System Exploration »

- Esther Zuckerman

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Great Job, Internet!: An appreciation of the six-decade, 400-role career of character actor James Hong

20 hours ago

Whether or not you know his name, odds are you’ve seen James Hong on screen. The 88-year-old character actor has more than 400 credits to his name. And this new hour-long episode of the YouTube series No Small Parts dives into Hong’s lengthy career. Born in 1929 in Minneapolis to parents who emigrated from Hong Kong, Hong spent his childhood in both the U.S. and China. After showing an early aptitude for impressions (his Jimmy Stewart is uncanny), Hong eventually found his way into a showbiz career that has now spanned six decades.

The episode delves into the specifics of Hong’s career and also also zooms out to look at larger issues of Asian representation. Host and creator Brandon Hardesty discusses representation in a nuanced but comprehensible way, acknowledging the complexities and contradictions of the issue. For instance, Hardesty explains he was surprised that many of ...

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- Caroline Siede

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Newswire: Drew Goddard is now consulting on the Deadpool 2 screenplay

20 hours ago

The road to a Deadpool sequel hasn’t exactly been smooth so far. Most notably, the first movie’s director, Tim Miller, split over “creative differences” with Ryan Reynolds, and with him went composer Junkie Xl. Eventually, John Wick co-director David Leitch ended up taking over Miller’s job. Now, Collider reports that Drew Goddard has come on as a ”consultant” for the script, which is being written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Given that Goddard co-wrote and directed The Cabin In The Woods and adapted The Martian, you could read this as good news. Or you could see it as another sign of trouble for a production that’s had some already.

Collider’s report leans on the optimistic side, explaining that Deadpool’s star and scribes are all just trying to “create something everyone is excited to make.” Back in October, The Wrap explained that Reynolds desire »

- Esther Zuckerman

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Newswire: Hugh Jackman would’ve kept playing Wolverine if he’d joined The Avengers

23 hours ago

Despite the fact that Hugh Jackman’s been talking about retiring the sideburns for the last two years or so, Wolverine fans—and studio execs—have had a hard time accepting that Logan will be his last appearance in that role. Jackman’s reconciled himself to the fact, though, and is prepared to let someone like Daniel Day-Lewis assume the adamantle. He’s even shot down the possibility of working a side gig with Deadpool. Yes, it really looks like Jackman’s moved on—but that hasn’t stopped interviewers from asking him what circumstances might change his mind.

ScreenRant talked to Jackman about his final bow, and discussed far-out possibilities, like a Wolverine-Avengers team-up. Jackman, who will play P.T. Barnum in the upcoming Greatest Show On Earth, seemed to really dig that idea, telling ScreenRant:

If that was on the table when I made my decision, it certainly ...

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- Danette Chavez

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Newswire: Liam Neeson’s The Commuter has been delayed

23 hours ago

We’ll have to wait a little longer for Liam Neeson’s latest action flick, The Commuter, which has just been forced to wait for the late train. Neeson’s latest collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra was originally scheduled for release in October 2017, but according to Deadline, that date’s just been pushed back to January 2018. If The Commuter had pulled into theaters this fall, it would have been on the heels of Blade Runner 2049 and Kingsman: The Golden Circle’s premieres. But come early next year, the film will be pitted against the likes of Sherlock Gnomes, White Boy Rick, and Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

Neeson will almost certainly demonstrate a particular set of skills in The Commuter, which will help him navigate the “dire circumstances” that come with an enticing offer from a mysterious stranger (Vera Farmiga). Sam Neill, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks ...

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- Danette Chavez

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For Our Consideration: Here’s the real reason no one went to see Mia’s show in La La Land

23 February 2017 10:00 PM, PST

Note: Minor plot points of La La Land are discussed below.

One of the saddest scenes in La La Land doesn’t involve the dissolution of the main characters’ relationship. Rather, it centers around the poor attendance of Mia’s one-woman show, So Long Boulder City. Here’s the setting: Emma Stone’s Mia finishes giving the performance of her life in a one-woman show that’s literally about her life, and when the lights go up, there’s hardly anyone in the theater, save for her friends. As a viewer, we’re left to sympathize with Mia’s pain, understanding that no matter how much work someone talented and pure of heart might put into a well-intended and well-executed project in Hollywood, it still might not be a success.

But here’s the thing: If you actually watch La La Land, it’s pretty easy to see why no »

- Marah Eakin

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Random Roles: Julie Benz on her numerous TV deaths, from Dexter to Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Angel

23 February 2017 10:00 PM, PST

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Julie Benz got her start as an actress when she was still in her teens, shifting back and forth between movies and TV and racking up a wide variety of credits in a relatively short amount of time. But it was her work with Joss Whedon—first on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, then on Angel—that put her on the map. Since then, Benz has remained a stalwart in genre projects, appearing in sci-fi series (Defiance) and superhero shows (No Ordinary Family). She’s also earned considerable acclaim for her stint on Dexter and has also turned up in more than a few horror films, the most recent of which, Havenhurst, is out now.

Havenhurst (2016 »

- Will Harris

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Movie Review: Rock Dog is a direct-to-streaming cheapie at a movie-ticket price

23 February 2017 10:00 PM, PST

Did anyone working on the cheap-looking animated film Rock Dog ever stop to consider the fact that the dog of the title never rocks? He fights a grizzly bear in a cage match. He harnesses ancestral magic powers. He leaves behind his Himalayan-looking mountain village for the big city after a radio falls out of the clouds. He learns a lesson about… something. (This last point is fuzzy.) Those might qualify as “rock ’n’ roll” in a different context—well, perhaps not the part about learning a lesson. But rocking out in any widely accepted sense of the term? The dog doesn’t as much as plug in an electric guitar. There is a scene where he trudges around in the rain to Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” which is commonly considered a rock song, and while it’s a very strange moment for an otherwise unremarkable kids’ movie, it isn »

- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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A History Of Violence: Action movies are just starting to recover from Michael Bay’s Bad influence

23 February 2017 10:00 PM, PST

With A History Of Violence, Tom Breihan picks the most important action movie of every year, starting with the genre’s birth and moving right up to whatever Vin Diesel’s doing this very minute.

Bad Boys (1995)

Movie directors who broke through to the mainstream in the ’90s tended to do it one of two ways, either through independent film or music videos. The music-video route was probably the less respectable one, but plenty of genuine auteurs still came up through that farm system: Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, David Fincher, Jonathan Glazer, the one-movie wonder Hype Williams. But music videos also produced plenty of big-screen hacks: McG, Brett Ratner, Gore Verbinski, Simon West, Marc Webb. The music-video world only produced one auteur hack, and that was Michael Bay.

Before he became every movie dork’s favorite punching bag, Bay—a former Wesleyan frat boy with feathery hair and a ...

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- Tom Breihan

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