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Thompson on Hollywood

Arthouse Audit: New Specialized Openings Hit Low-Point; Subtitled 'Gloria' and 'Great Beauty' Hold Well

This weekend looks to be one of the weakest in years for new specialized films.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • February 16, 2014 4:44 PM
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Box Office Top Ten: Audiences Still Love 'Lego' and Kevin Hart, Snub Colin Farrell

Looking at the Box Office Top Ten this week, you'd think we were still in the 1980s. Four new openers include three remakes of '80s hits, and another adapts a major novel from the decade. Another familiar pop culture artifact from the period -- Legos -- returned as the top film this weekend, as Warner Bros.' animated 3D film continues its strong run in its second weekend.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • February 16, 2014 2:06 PM
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Anatomy of a Scene: Dissecting the Bravura 'Gravity' Opening

The extraordinary 13-minute opening of Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" is like a mini-movie, setting up the zero-gravity world in space, the two astronauts played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the mood, the tension, the crisis, and the metaphor. I break it down with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Emmanuel (Chivo) Lubezki, production designer Andy Nicholson, VFX supervisor Tim Webber, sound mixer Chris Munro, and editor Mark Sanger.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 14, 2014 2:45 PM
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'Gravity,' 'Frozen' Big VES Awards Winners

As expected, Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" dominated the 12th annual VES Awards, grabbing six trophies at the Beverly Hilton Wednesday night, including outstanding visual effects-driven feature, while Disney's "Frozen" went four for four, including outstanding animated feature (a first for the studio).
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 13, 2014 8:13 AM
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David O. Russell and Oscar-Nominated Crew Talk the Craft of 'American Hustle'

David O. Russell's on a roll with his Oscar-contending "American Hustle," his most personal and popular movie yet. It's smart and funny, and has obviously touched a nerve with its story of survival and reinvention during the cultural and political upheaval of the late '70s. "I don't care about pure dissipation or pure cynicism -- I've gotta have the thing that people live for," he insists. So in a recent roundtable discussion, we explored how this passion spilled over to his Oscar-nominated crew: production designer Judy Becker, costume designer Michael Wilkinson and editor Jay Cassidy.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 12, 2014 2:50 PM
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Talking Johnny Depp's Oscar-Nominated Makeup and Hair in 'The Lone Ranger'

When it came to Johnny Depp's trippy Tonto in "The Lone Ranger," there were two makeup and hair challenges: the middle-aged Native American as well as the old man (a tribute to legendary Dick Smith's Jack Crabb from "Little Big Man"). We get the lowdown from Oscar-nominees Joel Harlow, who's become Depp's go-to makeup guy, and hairstylist Gloria Casny.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 7, 2014 2:28 PM
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Crafts Roundup: Talking Production Design with the Five Oscar Nominees

The five Oscar nominees for production design ("American Hustle," "Gravity," "The Great Gatsby," "Her," and "12 Years a Slave") certainly capture the zeitgeist of the season in a variety of creative ways. They're about survival, self-invention, reinvention, and rebirth, and we reflect on this with all the nominees.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 6, 2014 2:28 PM
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My New Book 'The $11 Billion Year' Is Out

I've written a book about the year 2012, "The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System," which will hit bookstores March 4.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 6, 2014 1:01 PM
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Talking Benedict Cumberbatch, Dragon Secrets and More with the Oscar-Nominated Sound Editors of 'Smaug'

In returning to Middle-Earth for the second "Hobbit" adventure, "The Desolation of Smaug," Oscar-nominated sound editors Brent Burge and Chris Ward were given a gift with the very hot Benedict Cumberbatch. But when he was first announced, they were apprehensive that his overexposure on "Sherlock" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" might make his voice too familiar. But that all changed when he showed up and got down on his hands and knees, played around with his voice, and became the dragon.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 5, 2014 2:53 PM
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Disney's 'Frozen' Tops Annies with Five Awards, Including Best Feature

The Disney "Frozen" juggernaut continued Saturday night at the 41st Annie Awards, grabbing five trophies at UCLA's Royce Hall, including best feature, directing (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee), music, production design, and voice acting kudos for Josh Gad's Olaf snowman. The ASIFA-Hollywood honor should help seal the Oscar deal for the fifth highest-grossing animated feature in history ($350.7 million/$813.2 million and counting).
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 2, 2014 1:00 AM
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