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Thompson on Hollywood

Fifteen Docs Vie for Oscar Top Five; Wenders is In, Herzog is Out

The Documentary Branch Screening Committee looked at the one hundred twenty-four pictures that qualified for the Oscar documentary short list, but only fifteen were chosen. Left out again is Werner Herzog, whose "Into the Abyss" seemed straightforward enough for the Academy, while his German colleague Wim Wenders "Pina," which is also the official German Oscar submission, made the cut even though it was shot--but not screened for the branch-- in 3-D, just like Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" last year, which did not get nominated. The doc branch looks at submissions on screeners because they do not want to force low-budget filmmakers to have to screen their films in 35 mm. Sundance hits "Project Nim" (interview here) and "Buck" (interview here) made the cut.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2011 5:01 PM
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Immersed in Movies: George Miller Talks Penguins and Krill from Happy Feet Two

Just think of "Happy Feet Two" as George Miller's "Babe: Pig in the City." That's the best way to describe the sequel to his Oscar-winner, "Happy Feet," in which the dancing and singing penguins combat catastrophic climate change in Antarctica, and toe-tapping Mumble has to cope with fatherhood and a son that can't dance.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • November 18, 2011 2:53 PM
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Open Road Picks Up Dax Shepard's Ensemble Action Comedy Outrun

Open Road Films, launched earlier this year by the AMC and Regal theater chains, has picked up all U.S. rights to the romantic action comedy "Outrun." Written and co-directed by star Dax Shepard (“Parenthood”), the road movie boasts a sprawling ensemble including Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Beau Bridges and Kristin Chenoweth. David Palmer co-directs. Open Road's Tom Ortenberg calls it "a wildly fun and funny movie." Sherpard stars in "Outrun" as ex-getaway driver Charlie Bronson who flees Witness Protection in order to drive his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) to Los Angeles to seek a new job. Their road trip goes awry as they are not only chased by the Feds (led by Tom Arnold) but Bronson's ex-gang (led by Bradley Cooper). Shades of "Midnight Run."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2011 2:17 PM
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Oscar Talk: Streep vs. Davis, Prosthetic vs. Digital Makeup, Performance Capture vs. Animation, Close vs. McTeer

In this week's Oscar Talk podcast, In Contention's Kris Tapley and I debate Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," performance capture vs. animation. Will animators support it? We think visual effects is a stronger, well-deserved shot.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2011 1:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Video Watch: Planet Tilda

Oscar Watch: Considering Tilda Swinton for I Am Love
Statuesque Tilda Swinton poses for photographer/filmmaker Tim Walker in this moody short inspired by a W photo shoot.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2011 12:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Claymation T is for Toilet Wins Next Great Horror Filmmaker Contest, Joins The ABCs of Death

Drafthouse Films, Magnet Pictures and Timpson Films have named Lee Hardcastle's "T IS FOR TOILET" (watch it below) the winner of their “next great horror filmmaker” contest, which now finalizes the lineup of "The ABCs of Death," their film anthology with segments directed by over two dozen filmmakers. With 26 chapters each designated to a letter of the alphabet, the film was inspired by children's education books and allows each filmmaker to chose a word to represent a form of death based on their given letter. Magnet Releasing will debut the film in 2012.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 18, 2011 2:58 AM
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Media Watch: Google Opens Digital Music Shop

In order to compete with iTunes and Amazon, Google has boldly launched a series of music features, including a digital music downloads store, reports NYT's Media Decoder. This marks Google's intention to expand as a social network and entertainment source.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • November 18, 2011 2:56 AM
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24 Hour Plays: Eisenberg, Crudup, Krasinski, Silverman and Bettany Act Impulsive, Giddy and Charming

Audiences flock to see the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway (a fundraising benefit for Urban Arts Partnership) for the same reason people watch NASCAR: the hope of a disaster. “No, there will be no art here tonight,” declares 24 Hour Plays veteran Billy Crudup in the first of six productions. “But you know what can happen in the blink of an eye? A train-wreck.” Just the evening before, on the upper floor of the American Airlines Theater, a throng of celebrity actors, writers, and stage directors met to brainstorm. The 2011 crew -- Jesse Eisenberg, Sarah Silverman, John Krasinski, Megan Fox, Gabourey Sidibe, Rachel Dratch, Paul Bettany, and Tracy Morgan, among others--were given one full day to script, stage, rehearse, and produce a short play. With such eminent reputations and so little time, there is imminent risk.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • November 18, 2011 2:53 AM
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WATCH: More on Kristen Wiig's Global Ban on Breathing

Who doesn't love Kristen Wiig? Here is Funny or Die's addendum to A Global Ban on Breathing and Other Initiatives from Clinton Foundation's Bickering Celeb Division.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 18, 2011 2:34 AM
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GENDER WATCH: The Telling Ignorance of THR's Directors Roundtable

We don't blame Women and Hollywood for being outraged at THR's careless and condescending approach to their 2011 Directors Roundtable. While we agree that Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Steve McQueen ("Shame"), Bennett Miller ("Moneyball"), Mike Mills ("Beginners"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Jason Reitman ("Young Adult") are well worth interviewing, there are plenty more who could easily be sitting there with THR's Matthew Belloni and Stephen Galloway -- including several women. At the same time as THR's Directors Roundtable should be thoughtfully curated, it should be representative of the year in film--whether it's an Awards publicity tool or not. Consider this specific portion of the roundtable:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 17, 2011 4:29 PM
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  • 37 Comments

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