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Thompson on Hollywood

Oscar Writers Reveal Road to Movies at Santa Barbara 'It Starts with the Script' Panel (VIDEO)

The annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival "It Starts with the Script" panel where I grill many of the writing Oscar nominees is my favorite moderating duty. This year did not disappoint.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 14, 2014 4:28 PM
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Steve Coogan and Philomena Lee Meet the Pope, 'Philomena' to Screen in the Vatican

Talk about Oscar campaigning. 80-year-old Philomena Lee, whose son was sold for adoption by nuns in 1955 and whose tearjerking story is front and center in current Best Picture Oscar contender "Philomena," has met with Pope Francis in Rome. Lee was accompanied on her papal visit by her daughter and actor Steve Coogan, who co-stars and also wrote the film.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • February 5, 2014 1:29 PM
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USC Scripters Awards Go to '12 Years a Slave,' 'Philomena,' 'Captain Phillips' and Some Offbeat Surprises

Sssssshhhhhhhhh!!… the librarians are deliberating… and the winner will be the recipient of the 26th annual Scripters Award, bestowed by the USC Libraries, a group that seems to have its own Dewey Decimal System of prognostication. At a time of year when every half-baked assemblage of film nerds is declared to have its own crystal ball of Oscar glory, the Libraries has a fairly envious track record (especially if Oscars are your business): They’ve picked five of the last six Best Adapted Screenplay winners and when they’ve been of the Aacdemy track, frankly, some of their picks have been better.
  • By John Anderson
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  • January 9, 2014 1:14 PM
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Consolata Boyle Talks 'Philomena' Costume Design

For Dublin native Consolata Boyle, designing the costumes for the fact-based "Philomena" -- her seventh collaboration with director Stephen Frears -- took on special significance. Certainly it's a powerful story about a mother's search for her long-lost son, amid the appalling revelation of forced adoptions in Ireland. But its greatest artistic appeal came from the witty "Odd Couple" pairing of Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 31, 2013 6:32 PM
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Alexandre Desplat Talks Embracing Humor Through Music in 'Philomena' Score

Composer Alexandre Desplat has never scored a comedy before and, although one wouldn't call "Philomena" a comedy, he nonetheless found the witty repartee between Judi Dench and Steve Coogan a lighter change of pace in crafting the music for his fifth collaboration with director Stephen Frears.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 18, 2013 2:10 PM
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'Philomena,' Harvey Weinstein's Best Oscar Hope, Comes on Strong; Why Coogan Dared to be Sincere

Steve Coogan is full of surprises. As an actor who also writes and produces, we have a sense of him from the roles he plays--he tends to be smart, acerbic, a bit of an asshole. So heart-tuggingly sincere "Philomena," which earned Golden Globes nominations last week for not only Best Drama and Actress Judi Dench but for Coogan and Jeff Pope's screenplay, is not exactly what we expect from him.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 16, 2013 11:58 AM
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Weekend Top Ten: Number One 'Hobbit' Underperforms as 'American Hustle,' 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Sizzle

The second Peter Jackson "Hobbit" film "Desolation of Smaug" is launching well below expectations--and last year's "Hobbit" opening. But despite that and harsh winter weather in much of the country, the weekend top ten total was up by $10 million over last year. Coming to the rescue: strong holds for blockbusters "Frozen" and "Catching Fire" as well as a $15-million opening for Tyler Perry's latest "Madea" entry.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 15, 2013 1:10 PM
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Top Ten Box Office: 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Lead Limping Pack; 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Starts Off Huge

The weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday is usually one of the year's weakest. The top two films, Disney's "Frozen" and Lionsgate's "Catch Fire," both grossed more than any previous film for a similar weekend at $31.6 and $27 million respectively, blowing past previous record holder "Tangled" at $21.6 million.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 8, 2013 1:03 PM
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Open Up the Best Actress Oscar Race: Five Locks and Eight Must-See Performances

As usual, there are more viable men hustling after a Best Actor slot than women in contention for Best Actress. (My current predictions are here.) 'Twas ever thus, as the myopic film industry continues to chase the male demo and sequester "soft" relationship movies to the indie realm. Which means that many worthy films don't make it to the top of Academy voters' screener piles. How many film panels and Q & As have you seen with a row of men in suits and one woman in a frilly frock and impossibly high heels? Women in film are often a supporting afterthought.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 5, 2013 3:40 PM
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'Philomena' Off to Strong Start, 'Nebraska' Second Weekend Lags

Weinstein heart-tugger "Philomena," this week's awards-friendly limited opening, scored an initial number comparable to two recent Oscar contenders ("Nebraska" and "Dallas Buyers Club"), just ahead of its rapid expansion this Wednesday. Per usual, the specialty market is getting crowded, with not just new limited films but plenty of wider-releases, including "Catching Fire," grabbing the attention of older audiences. It's a time of high-risk opportunity, as not all releases will achieve their hoped-for maximum attention.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • November 24, 2013 4:27 PM
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