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Thompson on Hollywood

An Education Poised for Awards Contention

Lone Scherfig and Nick Hornby's An Education emerged from Sundance as a serious awards contender. Anyone who saw the film there witnessed a remarkable debut: Carey Mulligan boasts Audrey Hepburn-style class, charisma and smarts. In the film, she's well-cast as a sharp and sexy 60s high schooler bursting to break out into the bigger world. Peter Sarsgaard (with an impeccable British accent) is the older rake who gives her what she wants and steals her innocence in the bargain. Sony Pictures Classics should steer this picture to critical praise and major awards.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 30, 2009 1:21 AM
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Fox Searchlight's Crazy Heart Acquisition Marks Changing Market

In one of the first acquisitions since Peter Rice left Fox Searchlight to run Fox TV, Searchlight co-presidents Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula acquired worldwide rights to rookie director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart, which stars Jeff Bridges as an aging country star and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a young reporter. T-Bone Burnett supervised a country music soundtrack. The distrib paid low seven figures. "We just liked it," says one Searchlight executive.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 21, 2009 6:49 AM
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Oscar Watch: Summer Crop Could Go All the Way

With the field for the best picture Oscar broadened to ten, a batch of summer movies are now positioned for possible inclusion. Yes, year-end movies still have the advantage. It used to be that a summer movie had to be strong and the late-season weak for it to make the top five (think Sea Biscuit, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator). But this year, five summer movies could score a top ten slot, from crowd-pleasers Up, Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to higher-end fare such as Public Enemies and Hurt Locker.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 13, 2009 5:54 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Oscar Watch: Summer Crop Could Go All the Way

With the field for the best picture Oscar broadened to ten, a batch of summer movies are now positioned for possible inclusion. Yes, year-end movies still have the advantage. It used to be that a summer movie had to be strong and the late-season weak for it to make the top five (think Sea Biscuit, Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator). But this year, five summer movies could score a top ten slot, from crowd-pleasers Up, Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to higher-end fare such as Public Enemies and Hurt Locker.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 13, 2009 2:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Oscar Rule Change: Ten Best Lists

A film historian of the 60s and 70s sent me his best guesses at what ten best Oscar lists would have been between 1967 and 1979. What's fascinating, assuming he's making reasonably inside-ballpark calls here, is that adding five sometimes improves the choices, and often does not. But while my write-in academic knows a lot about the period he's writing about, we can't help but see these movies now as their standing has changed over time. As examples, Cool Hand Luke, The Battle of Algiers, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind all boast more stature now than they did when they came out. Bottom line though, the Academy had more quality films to choose from then than they do now. We will find out soon enough whether this change is for the best.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 1, 2009 1:57 AM
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More: Awards, Oscars

Academy Invites New Members, Oscar Host Jackman

The Academy has invited 134 new members, many of them long overdue, from actor Hugh Jackman--who wasn't a member when he hosted the Oscars on February 22--and producer Paula Wagner to directors Danny Boyle and Henry Selick, execs Daniel Battsek and Joe Drake, and writers John August and Howard A. Rodman.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 30, 2009 5:38 AM
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More: Awards, Oscars

Oscar Rule Change Follow-ups

The changing Oscar rules are still a hot topic these days. At an Academy screening of Cheri last weekend (more on that anon), some members wanted to be consulted, while others feel that the Board of Governors did its job. One member who sees everything and votes with the foreign branch doesn't care at all. Just who are the folks who vote for these crucial decisions? The Academy's official governors list is on the jump.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 29, 2009 5:47 AM
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More: Awards, Oscars

Hurt Locker, Other Award Pics Directed by Women

The reviews Kathryn Bigelow has nabbed for The Hurt Locker (91 on Metacritic) are noteworthy. That doesn't mean that the movie will score at the boxoffice for Summit, but it's off to the second-strongest start for an indie this year. The movie has a shot at one of ten slots in the wide open Oscar best picture race. Even the NYT's tough-minded Manohla Dargis, who has long shared with me a sense of dismay at the thin ranks of gifted women directors, was moved to step out of the reviewer's box to praise Bigelow here.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 28, 2009 2:36 AM
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Tarantino Tweaking Basterds, Says Weinstein

My initial story was correct: Quentin Tarantino is not cutting the shit out of Inglourious Basterds. GQ grills Harvey Weinstein about the final cut:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 24, 2009 6:29 AM
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Oscar Changes: Winners and Losers

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Sid Ganis has another surprise up his sleeve: I hear he's going to promise that the Oscar show to be broadcast on ABC will not be longer this year, even with ten best picture nominations instead of five. This could mean that tech categories will get short shrift.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 24, 2009 6:25 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More: Awards, Oscars

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