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The Playlist

Zac Efron Plays DJ, Judi Dench Catches ‘Tulip Fever,’ Michael Gambon Has A 'Casual Vacancy' & More

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • June 6, 2014 10:24 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Neighbors
While “Star Wars” and Marvel franchise rumors are just that thus far regarding Zac Efron, one thing is clear—the actor is certainly willing at the present to play up his public image for laughs, as “Neighbors” recently exampled to a surprisingly effective degree. He’s got the range to add some empathy to the character as well, and it’s clear directors have been paying attention to that juggling act, as a new role could see Efron back in sending up his partying ways.

Oscars: The Best Underrated Performances Of The 2014 Actor & Actress Nominees

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • February 3, 2014 1:47 PM
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  • 10 Comments
Underrated Performances, 2014 Actor & Actress Nominees
The trouble with awards season, especially when it comes to actors who often attract nominations, is that there's a risk that it delegitimizes their work if it doesn't get recognized. If Meryl Streep, say, has countless nominations, than there could be a temptation to think of her performances in less awards-friendly fare as "lesser" work, whereas in fact, the opposite can be true—even in films that are of otherwise questionable quality, the actors can still give remarkable performances.

Review: Lovely And Deceptively Complex 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 21, 2013 6:08 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Philomena
The term "Oscar bait" is one that, unfortunately, gets bandied about a lot this time of year. At worst, it's used to refer to every faintly serious-minded film released between July and December. At best, it describes a very particular kind of middlebrow drama that seems to have been created from the ground up with the sole purpose of appealing to the Academy—think "The Iron Lady" or "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," to name two recent examples. Stephen Frears' "Philomena" appears on the surface to fit into the latter category. It's a based-in-fact comedy-drama with a mix of laughter and tears, with a prestigious filmmaker (albeit one who's been off his game for a while), an already awarded lead in Dame Judi Dench, and the might of The Weinstein Company behind it. But if "Philomena" is Oscar bait (and ultimately, we're not all that fond of the phrase), then it's Oscar bait done right.

Oscars: A Look At The Best Actress Front-Runners, Including Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock & Amy Adams

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 16, 2013 3:00 PM
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  • 32 Comments
Received wisdom has it that, in most years, the Best Actress category at the Academy Awards is less competitive than their male equivalent. It's certainly true, if it even needs to be said, that great roles for women are far, far less common than they are for men. But one only has to think of the performances that haven't been nominated in recent years to realize that it's not the lack of talent out there, so much as the Academy, or even the prognosticators, tending to be a little more conservative in their picks.

Watch: New Trailer For TIFF People's Choice Award Runner-Up 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 28, 2013 11:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
When Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" won the Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award, we were slightly surprised—given that the prize generally tends to lean toward more crowd-pleasing movies—but we weren't surprised to see Stephen Frears' "Philomena" take one of the runner-up slots. The film has been warmly received at Venice, Telluride and Toronto, and now it's headed to theaters, where The Weinstein Company are surely hoping it can turn out some hardware for them during the awards season.

Watch: First Clip From Oscar-Contender 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steven Coogan, Weinsteins Set Xmas Release

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 3, 2013 10:42 AM
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  • 3 Comments
So just how hot a ticket is Stephen Frears' "Philomena"? Well, after earning rave reviews out the Venice Film Festival (including a strong one from us), word was that The Weinstein Company were ready to sneak the film into Telluride this past weekend. But apparently TIFF organizers weren't pleased at the prospect of another hot premiere being yanked out from under them (following the surprise additions of "12 Years A Slave" and "Prisoners" to Telluride), so Harvey and co. switched gears and showing "Salinger" instead. But no matter where this lands first, it's one that's going to be talked about all season long

Venice Review: Stephen Frears' 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 31, 2013 1:09 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The term "Oscar bait" is one that, unfortunately, gets bandied about a lot this time of year. At worst, it's used to refer to every faintly serious-minded film released between July and December. At best, it describes a very particular kind of middlebrow drama that seems to have been created from the ground up with the sole purpose of appealing to the Academy—think "The Iron Lady" or "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," to name two recent examples. Stephen Frears' "Philomena" appears on the surface to fit into the latter category.

First Poster & New Pics For Stephen Frears' Venice & TIFF Entry 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 30, 2013 10:36 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Philomena
When the awards season rolls around, you can't count out Judi Dench. She's a seven time Oscar nominee (winning in 1999 for "Shakespeare In Love"), a beloved legend and simply a damn good actress. So even though this new poster for her upcoming "Philomena" has caused our blood sugar level to rise, again, she's not one to dismiss no matter how treacly the material might look like.

Dustin Hoffman & Judi Dench Team To Star In Adaptation Of Roald Dahl’s ‘Esio Trot’

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 23, 2013 11:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The movie world has been in love with Roald Dahl almost as much as readers. The author's whimsical books have charmed many, both young and old, leading to film adaptations such as the classic "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory," Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "James And The Giant Peach" and many more (of mixed quality). And now another of one of his efforts his headed to screens.

Watch: Trailer For Stephen Frears' Awards Hopeful 'Philomena,' With Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 9, 2013 10:29 AM
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  • 1 Comment
He's been behind some greatness over the years ("The Grifters," "High Fidelity"), but since his award-winning success with "The Queen" in 2006, Stephen Frears has had a rotten run—no one's been particularly keen on "Cheri," "Tamara Drewe" or "Lay The Favorite," while HBO movie "Muhammed Ali's Greatest Fight" won few over at Cannes. But in a few weeks, he's returning to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs, and going back to the Venice Film Festival, where "The Queen" was unveiled, for new film "Philomena."

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