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The Playlist

The Films Of Steven Spielberg, Part Two: The Serious Fare

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 23, 2011 12:00 PM
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  • 8 Comments
It's the classic dilemma of the entertainer, perhaps best embodied in Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels." After a decade or so of delighting audiences with thrills and wonder, Steven Spielberg decided he wanted to be taken seriously.

The Playlist Staff Pick Their Most Underrated & Overrated Films Of 2011

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 20, 2011 9:26 AM
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  • 66 Comments
One of the pecularities of our site is our insistence on writing in the third personn, something designed to create the impression of a collective, a hive mind, and it's served us fairly well so far. But the realities of this are a little trickier; we're not all programmed the same way, and our beloved readers, understandably, can be puzzled to see a film derided in a review, and then ranking highly in our end-of-year features. But the truth is, we're not all cut from the same cloth; one person's treasure can be another's trash, and the debates around The Playlist's proverbial water cooler rage on year-round (for some reason, we continue to fight about Polanski's "The Ghost Writer," two years after it came out).

The God Of Carnage: The Complete Films Of Roman Polanski

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 16, 2011 2:54 PM
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  • 13 Comments
With a career marked by controversy and tragedy, triumphs and disasters, that Roman Polanski has shaken off personal obstacles and professional setbacks is a feat in itself.

Hope You Like Synths: The Best Scores & Soundtracks Of 2011

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 14, 2011 2:29 PM
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  • 30 Comments
Way back in the day, The Playlist started as a site focused principally on the places where movies and music met, and in particular, on scores and soundtracks. We've widened our net in the intervening years simply because that sole focus felt too small and we're movie lovers just as much as music lovers, but that interest has never gone away. And how could it? In many ways, we've reached the most interesting time in film scoring in years, with 2011 in particular seeing a number of electronic artists bringing the synth back into fashion in a big way. Between these and last year's Daft Punk-abled "Tron: Legacy" score, has there ever been a time when movie music has been so, well, danceable?

From Bloody Murders To Bridesmaid Speeches: The 25 Best Movie Moments Of 2011

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 13, 2011 1:59 PM
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  • 49 Comments
The great Howard Hawks once famously said that what makes a good film is "three great scenes, and no bad ones." While we'd argue that that's not an absolute hard-and-fast rule, he wasn't far off. With 2011 providing a number of above-average films, there've been plenty of memorable moments to go around, even if we couldn't attest to them all following Hawks Law.

The Alternate 2011: Who Nearly Directed Or Starred In The Most Notable Movies Of The Year?

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 12, 2011 2:05 PM
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  • 12 Comments
2011 hasn't been too shabby for the movies. But even in a year such as this, there's that niggling feeling of what could have been. With the process of picking a director and casting a film seemingly more public than ever, thanks to rumors leaking and trades running short-list stories, it's possible to imagine any number of alternate outcomes for many of the biggest, and best, films of the year.

The Essentials: The 5 Best Gary Oldman Performances

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 8, 2011 1:02 PM
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  • 21 Comments
It's been a frequently repeated fact this year, but in case you didn't know, Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Oscar. But in a way, why should he have been? The Academy Awards specialize, for the most part, in celebrating showy, look-at-me performances, impersonations of real people, or tear-jerking portrayals of crippling disease or disability. And Oldman has never been one of those actors. Oh, sure, he's capable of playing big and attention-grabbing -- "Bram Stoker's Dracula," say, or one of his villainous turns in the 1990s -- but even in the least of those films, he's always totally disappeared into the character with no sign of the man behind the curtain, no visible effort in the acting to be applauded. 

The Essentials: The 5 Best Tilda Swinton Performances

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 7, 2011 12:59 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Tilda Swinton is a pretty unconventional kind of movie star. The daughter of a Scottish Major-General, and one-time classmate of Princess Diana, she got her start in acting in experimental theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company, before going on to become a muse of British iconoclast Derek Jarman. Over time, she's featured in performance art (including sleeping in a glass box in the Serpentine Gallery in London for a week), worked with fashion designers, founded a traveling film festival in the Scottish Highlands, and even appeared on an album by pop eccentric Patrick Wolf. She's even become tabloid fodder in recent years, thanks to her unusual home life; she's married to painter John Byrne, but simultaneously maintains a relationship with a German artist named Sandro Kopp. Not exactly Julia Roberts, right?

The Essentials: The 5 Best Marilyn Monroe Performances

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • November 21, 2011 1:22 PM
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  • 54 Comments
Close to fifty years after to her premature passing at the age of 36, there are few stars, living or dead, who have the same effect that Marilyn Monroe continues to have. An icon the likes of which the starlets of today simply can't compete with, her legacy continues to loom large, despite a relatively brief time on top (less than fifteen years passed between her first speaking role and her final picture, "The Misfits") and aided in no small part by her tumultuous personal life -- three troubled marriages, including to playwright Arthur Miller and baseball legend Joe Di Maggio, and reported affairs with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby.

Quelle Horreur! 10 Foreign-Language Horrors To Freak You Out This Halloween

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 28, 2011 6:55 AM
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  • 8 Comments
There's a reason so many American horror films in the last couple of decades have largely been remakes of foreign language movies – because those films are really, really scary. The fact that the remakes are, by and large, completely awful, has to do with the specificity – there are details in culture and location that, when displaced, shuffled, or wholly removed, greatly impact the narrative and the power of the storytelling. Feudal Japan, with its cultural landscape of spirits intermingling with the living, can't be swapped for suburban Chicago, the home of Abe Froman, the Sausage King. In the age of the internet, it's been easier for keen-eyed genre enthusiasts to diagnose which foreign horror films are worth tracking down (and which, in the decades previous, you might have missed).

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