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Thompson on Hollywood

Oscar Watch: Seeking Consensus

While I admire Kris Tapley's attempt to make some sense out of the blizzard of Oscar predictions out there, I remain convinced that until the prognosticators see Charlie Wilson's War and Sweeney Todd, the two films that many of us got invited to see Monday, none of these lists make much sense. Richard Corliss in Time suggests that "audiences will have a great time watching" Charlie Wilson's War, which seemed to play for Oprah Winfrey's Chicago audience. Oprah raved about Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance, as guests Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts (who tried to get out of shooting a bikini scene while four weeks pregnant) nodded politely. My hunch is that Hoffman won't get nommed for best actor for The Savages or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but will get a supporting nom for Charlie Wilson's War.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 20, 2007 7:13 AM
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There Will be Blood: On the Screening Circuit

Paramount Vantage is on the There will Be Blood promo trail, screening the pic and building support. I watched the two hour and forty minute film, happily, for the second time at the WGA screening Monday night; the crowd gave Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis a standing ovation afterward.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 15, 2007 7:20 AM
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There Will Be Blood: Early Reviews

Variety's Todd McCarthy delivers a rave review of Paul Thomas Anderson's much-anticipated There Will Be Blood. We saw it at the same screening on Friday last week. McCarthy wanted to take his time with this review, and not rush it out the door. Here's a sample:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 1, 2007 5:51 AM
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Actor-Directors: Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, Hopkins' Slipstream, Redford's Lions for Lambs

Actors who reach a certain prominence are often able to get a movie made. This fall, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Affleck have both directed debut feature films. But the two movies couldn't be more different. Hopkins came to my UCLA class with his second film Slipstream (trailer), which premiered at Sundance in January. The word on the street was that it was arty, experimental, and pretentious. All true.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 30, 2007 6:03 AM
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Lust, Caution: Ang Lee Faces His Fear

At Sunday's BAFTA screening for Lust, Caution, director Ang Lee explained that this particular nexus between sex and politics scared him to death, which was why he had to do it. He insisted on not cutting the 5 to 10 seconds that would have yielded an R rating. The sex scenes are intensely powerful. (And for some of us, even educational.) And they were much more frightening for Lee to execute than the two gay cowboys in Brokeback Mountain, he said.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 9, 2007 11:49 AM
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Darjeeling Limited: Anderson's Best Film Since Rushmore

I'm not of the Wes Anderson-can-do-no-wrong school. I loved Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, blew lukewarm on The Royal Tanenbaums (which was often wonderful, but also awful in places), and froze out Life Aquatic. So I am happy to report that Darjeeling Limited is the best thing Anderson has done since Rushmore.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 9, 2007 11:45 AM
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Terror's Advocate: Barbet Schroeder Talks

Barbet Schroeder is one of those brainiac filmmakers, like Werner Herzog, who moves effortlessly between docs (General Idi Amin Dada), features (Reversal of Fortune), studios (Murder by Numbers) and indies (Barfly), in whatever country (Maitresse) or language (Our Lady of the Assassins) that suits him. He's a global opportunist. And like Herzog he's not a bad actor; he does a memorable cameo in Darjeeling Limited as a bemused auto mechanic.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 7, 2007 7:39 AM
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Penn Premieres Into the Wild

Three men stood in the back of the Directors Guild theater beaming proudly at actor-filmmaker Sean Penn: producer Art Linson, Paramount Vantage head John Lesher and River Road financeer Bill Pohlad. Without them, the movie might not have gotten made.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2007 8:03 AM
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Juno Rocks

While I was an admirer of Jason Reitman's frosh effort Thank You for Smoking, which was a wickedly funny intellectually sharp and well-acted movie, Juno is another matter entirely. One, it is written by ex-midwestern stripper-turned-blogger/screenwriter Diablo Cody, who has an uncommon ear for smart witty edgily contemporary dialogue that while a tad exaggerated, rings true.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 20, 2007 8:10 AM
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TIFF: Audience vs. Critics

Three tracks of movies screen in Toronto: high-brow innovative cinema to intrigue critics and cinephiles, movies with news content for the hungry media, and pics that wow the film fans in theaters. The most fortunate--breakouts like Jason Reitman's Juno, Joe Wright's Atonement, Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl, and Sean Penn's Into the Wild--do it all.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2007 8:20 AM
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