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Thompson on Hollywood

Oscar Watch: Which Indie Outsiders Have a Shot at Best Actress?

Last night I watched Ellen Barkin act her heart out in Sam Levinson's Sundance screenplay-winner "Another Happy Day" (Phase 4, November 18), which is saddled with an unfortunate generic title. At 57, Barkin has been around the block a few times, and while the movie opens with her two younger sons debating whether or not she is hot, the actress shows wear and tear, which never hurts with the Academy. In the movie, Barkin and her sons return to her family home for her older son's wedding, where her parents (Ellen Burstyn and George Kennedy) seem to favor her ex-husband (Thomas Hayden Church) and his new wife (Demi Moore) over their own daughter. Her troubled teen is played by creepy Ezra Miller, who also tortures his mother Tilda Swinton in "We Need to Talk About Kevin." Passed-down generational neurosis and dysfunction is the story here, and Barkin wallows in it.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 16, 2011 4:24 PM
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  • 32 Comments

Will Roth & Fincher Deliver Jolie's Cleopatra?

Let us count the ways that Sony's "Cleopatra" could go wrong. But hiring Eric Roth to write the script for the Angelina Jolie epic (possibly with David Fincher at the helm) is a good sign. We can thank Roth for "Forrest Gump," "The Insider," "Munich," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and many other fine scripts including the upcoming "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." Based on Stacy Schiff's sprawling bestseller, this "Cleopatra" is rooted in a complex history and demands a seasoned writer who will not lose sight of the biography's authentic primary sources. Bringing Fincher on board would also set the project on the right course. Exuding the infamous intelligence, charisma and sexuality of Cleopatra will be easy for Jolie, who nonetheless needs a strong director to pull from her a layered and compelling performance. The Egyptian queen--arguably the most powerful woman of all time-- was a master political strategist who deftly manipulated her two life mates, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  (Picking the right two co-stars is also key.) If the movie gods align the elements, this could be Jolie's career-defining role--and her best shot at a Best Actress Oscar.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 16, 2011 3:49 PM
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  • 2 Comments

TRAILER WATCH: Pixar's Brave Stars Athletic Feminist Princess

The exciting trailer for Disney/Pixar's "Brave" -- featuring Kelly Macdonald ("Boardwalk Empire") as the voice of Princess Merida -- has arrived. Merida, complete with Scottish accent, is a free-spirited tomboy with fiery red hair. (Think of her as a young William Wallace in "Braveheart.") Bravo to male-dominated Pixar for finally introducing their first female lead. "Brave" premieres June 22, 2012.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 16, 2011 3:27 PM
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  • 0 Comments

HBO Teams with Sports Illustrated, Endgame & Playground for Sport in America: Our Defining Stories - Submit Yours

HBO, Sports Illustrated and Endgame Entertainment, in association with Playground for Sport in America have teamed up for "Sport in America: Our Defining Stories," a documentary series set to air on HBO in 2013. Their goal: "a sweeping cross-platform examination of how the universal thread of sport has shaped America’s character." HBO Sports exec producer Rick Bernstein says: "This is one of the most ambitious sports projects that HBO has launched." Sports Illustrated editorial packages and content on HBO and SI's social media platforms will accompany the series.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 16, 2011 3:16 PM
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  • 3 Comments
More: News, Genres, TV, Media, HBO

Learning from the American Film Market: Haves vs. Have Nots

What did we learn from the recently wrapped, relatively upbeat American Film Market? Beyond the flashy announcements of sales from companies such as FilmNation, there was also strategic talk of how to move the business forward.
  • By Liza Foreman
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  • November 16, 2011 1:28 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Media Watch: Facebook Adds Apps, Sony vs. Cable TV, ImageCollect Biggest Celebrity Pics Library

Facebook, two months after premiering new social apps through partnerships with Netflix, Spotify, Yahoo News, and The Washington Post, plans to go ahead and increase its app partnerships in 2012, reports AdAge. More applications will allow Facebook users to share what they read, watch and hear in real-time. Facebook will heavily feature the apps in their soon-to-be-launched Timeline.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • November 16, 2011 12:20 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Criterion Scores with Kieslowski, Three Colors Trilogy on DVD

  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 16, 2011 12:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Exclusive Featurette: A Look Inside the Cult of Martha Marcy May Marlene; Olsen and Durkin Vie for Oscar Slots

Fox Searchlight's mighty marketing machine is in full force right now as they seek to not only push "The Descendants" and "Shame" into movie theaters and the Oscar race, but a less obvious indie contender, "Martha Marcy May Marlene" ($1.6 million in limited release to date). Check out this exclusive featurette, complete with footage, commentary from breakout dramatic actress Elizabeth Olsen (younger sibling of the Olsen twins) and a psychologist who specializes in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They address the nature of Martha's experience both within and outside a cult led by a charismatic, seductive Svengali leader ("Winter's Bone" Oscar nominee John Hawkes). More likely than Olsen landing a slot as best actress is "Martha" writer-director Sean Durkin's shot at scoring an original screenplay nomination--as usual that field is wide open.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 16, 2011 11:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Third Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival Sets 2012 Dates: How to Join Up

Los Angeles culture lovers: the third installment of the Hollywood Fringe Festival has set its dates for 2012. From June 14-24, Hollywood will get an "explosion of theatre performances, solo artists, dancers, experimental art, comedy, films, and cabaret" from this non-profit fest. An opening night gala, awards ceremony and after party are all part of the fest, which is open and non-curated. More information on how to be involved and key dates are below:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 16, 2011 11:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments

The Three Gifts of Andy Serkis: Hobbit Teaser, Caesar and Captain Haddock

Among the many things to be thankful for at this time of year, such as compelling art house films fighting for your box office dollar after a summer of mindless tent-poles ("Shame" beats "Green Lantern" any day), let us acknowledge Three Gifts from Andy Serkis for the year 2011. The first two may never get the credit they deserve, but "Hobbit" fans will be excited for the third:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 15, 2011 4:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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