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OSCARS DEATH RACE: Surveying the race for Best Actor

The Best Actor category is more interesting, to my mind, for who didn't get a nomination than for who did, although I guess the actual nominations are interesting. "Baffling" counts as interesting, right? Let's get to it.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 8, 2012 5:21 AM
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  • 4 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 7, 2012 5:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment

OSCARS DEATH RACE: HUGO

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in a fairy tale, in both senses of that word. He's not troubled with real-life adolescent bagatelles like homework, and he lives unsupervised in the clock tower of a Parisian train station, where he's in charge of keeping the clocks running. But Hugo is unsupervised because his parents have both died. (…I believe? I'm not entirely clear on what has become of his mother; his father, played by Jude Law, is consumed by a fiery backdraft in flashback, and this is not explained either.) Hugo's druncle Claude (Ray Winstone) takes custody of the boy, sticks around long enough for Hugo to learn the station-clock trade, then goes on walkabout, and Hugo is left to fend for himself. Fortunately, he's gifted at fixing things, so he keeps the clocks running in the hopes that nobody will notice Claude has gone missing, and dodges the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), an orphan-phobe with a mechanical leg and an equally hostile Doberman. Hugo nicks pastries from bakeries, and spare parts from Georges, the sour proprietor of a toy stall (Ben Kingsley), because on top of keeping the time and staying out of the boys' home, Hugo has a third job: trying to fix an old automaton repatriated by his father from a museum, in the hope that the machine will send him one last message from beyond the grave. And it does, in more ways than one.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 6, 2012 6:18 AM
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  • 3 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: Surveying the race for Best Supporting Actress?

  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 6, 2012 6:16 AM
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  • 2 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: RIO

A serviceable but obvious animated tale about a blue macaw named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg, typecast even in avian-cartoon form) who reluctantly returns to his roots in Brazil, then finds love…and his wings. Awww! But also, kind of zzzz! "Rio"'s most striking visuals and renderings of animal physicality will only remind you of "How To Train Your Dragon," a smarter and more thoughtful film across the board, which you will then want to watch instead!
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 5, 2012 6:55 AM
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  • 1 Comment

OSCARS DEATH RACE: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

A disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), is called to the home of aging magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate an ancient crime in the magnate's family -- the disappearance and presumed death of Vanger's niece, Harriet, decades ago. Parked in a drafty cabin on the island where many of the Vangers still live (and back-bite), Blomkvist looks into the locked-room mystery, and as matters become more complex, he requires a research assistant -- the same researcher, it turns out, who dug into him at Henrik Vanger's request. This researcher is, of course, the eponymous Girl, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara): pierced, bony, rendered by turns mute and blunt by traumas past and present.
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 4, 2012 11:47 AM
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  • 4 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: REAL STEEL

"Real Steel" is one of those trailers that makes you turn to your movie-going companion and say, "You know, I really like [above-the-title star who's talented, attractive, and doesn't take himself too seriously but apparently just hit some kind of alimony balloon payment]. He's a nice man. I want him to make lots of money. Are you telling me there's no better way for him to do that than to star in the robot-boxing version of that infernal arm-wrestling Stallone movie from the '80s?"
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 2, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments

OSCARS 2012: PRESS PLAY contributors argue for their favorites

After last week’s announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees, a handful of Press Play contributors gathered together via email to discuss the highs and lows in some of the major award categories. Below are some of the highlights of the conversation, and as always, we encourage you to keep the discussion going.
  • By Press Play Staff
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  • February 1, 2012 7:27 AM
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  • 21 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: UNDEFEATED

It's not generally a compliment to say that a film reminds you of other films, or has the DNA of other films; the phrases "a poor man's" or "but with less" seem inevitable. To call a documentary "well made" isn't the highest of praise, either, suggesting as it does the absence of anything extraordinary. "Every shot in focus -- a triumph of competence!"
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • February 1, 2012 7:19 AM
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  • 2 Comments

OSCARS DEATH RACE: MONEYBALL

When I heard that "Moneyball" was set to become a film, I didn't get it. It's a good book, and I'm a huge baseball fan, but as far as a narrative with wider cinematic appeal, I didn't see a there there. It's a story about a guy using statistics to exploit market inefficiencies, so…good luck with that?
  • By Sarah D. Bunting
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  • January 31, 2012 6:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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