<p>Lionsgate scores again with the new teaser poster for "Precious."</p>

Lionsgate scores again with the new teaser poster for "Precious."

Credit: Lionsgate

Exclusive: New 'Precious' Teaser Poster Debuts

Beautiful image for upcoming Mariah Carey and Mo'Nique drama

 

If there is any movie I can't wait to see again this year it's "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sappire."  The winner of this year's Sundance Film Festival's grand jury and audience award, "Precious" is a powerful dramatic film that has silenced every skeptic I know who has seen it. 

Originally titled "Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire," Lionsgate and the filmmakers smartly changed the title when the Sci-Fi "Push" came out earlier this year.  Precious is the nickname the film's title character, a wonderful debut by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, is given to by her abusive mother, a career altering performance by Mo 'Nique.  The film follows 16-year-old Precious as she tries to break the chains that relationship and create a new life for herself.  It's an inspiring film with stunning turns from the leads and a fine supporting cast including Mariah Carey, Paula Patton and Lenny Kravitz.

Many films get hyped beyond belief out of Sundance never to be heard of again  Lionsgate is making sure this won't happen with "Precious."  First, they brought on board both Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey to "present" the film -- guaranteeing it a stature the media can't ignore -- and secondly, they are continuing to put their signature creative vision to the marketing materials.  The studio has gained acclaim for posters from everything from their Perry films to the "Saw" franchise.  Their latest accomplishment?  This classy, artistic and inspiring teaser poster HitFix has the pleasure of presenting below.  Enjoy.

"Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire" opens on Nov. 6, but will be heard loudly throughout the 2009 awards season.

The New Teaser Poster for 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire'

Read Full Post
<p>James Franco hasn't received an Oscar nomination yet, but he's now a voting member of the Academy.</p>

James Franco hasn't received an Oscar nomination yet, but he's now a voting member of the Academy.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscars invites 134 new members including Anne Hathaway, James Franco, Tyler Perry and Hugh Jackman

Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd also in the mix

 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their latest class of new members and there were some of the selections were major surprises. 

A longstanding criticism of the Academy is that it's membership has skewed about as old as a typical retirement community in Miami Beach and with the longer life spans most Americans have these days once you're "in" you're in for quite a long time.  So, this year the inclusion of a large number of under 40-year-old actors including Anne Hathaway, Emile Hirsch Seth Rogen, James Franco, Michael Cera, Taraji P. Henson, James McAvoy, Amy Ryan, Michelle Williams, Emily Blunt and Casey Affleck is quite astonishing.  Some of those thespians aren't even 25 yet!  For the Academy this is almost jaw-dropping

Perhaps more intriguing is how many actors were invited this year with no nominations to their credit.  Hugh Jackman, Paul Rudd, Rogen, Hirsch and Jane Lynch all have stellar resumes, but none have smelled the rose of an Oscar nod. 

More distressing, however, is the continuing lack of minority representation amongst the Academy overall.  Henson, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, Tyler Perry (OK, he's made a ton of money for Lionsgate, but really?) and A.R. Rahman make up a very small pool of non-whites joining the process this year.  No one will disagree that this is an overall problem for the industry, but that's it? No one else?  out of 134 people?  Depressing more than anything.

Read Full Post
<p>Could Miley Cyrus return to the Oscars in 2010 with a best original song for "The Climb"?&nbsp; With the new category rules?&nbsp; Probably not.</p>

Could Miley Cyrus return to the Oscars in 2010 with a best original song for "The Climb"?  With the new category rules?  Probably not.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

New Rules: Oscar keeps making more changes

Lifetime Achievement, Original Song and Picture voting tweaked

 

It was a busy week for the folks over at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  First, they turned the industry on its head by announcing from now on the prime Oscar category -- best picture -- would go from five to 10 nominees.  A few days later, they skipped the surprise press conference and sent a release out with even more changes.  Ironically, its one of these new changes "seems" (big emphasis on that) to have the Academy membership in a huffy, not the dramatic change to the best picture category. 

In order to properly give the yearly recipients of the organization's lifetime achievement awards, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Honorary Award, the Academy will now be announced in September and recognized with a special dinner in November.  They will still be "acknowledged" (stand up and wave!) during the Oscar show, but as Academy President Sid Ganis noted in an official release, "“For some years now, the Board has struggled to balance the desire to truly honor worthy individuals with the time limitations that the Oscar® telecast imposes on these honors.  By creating a separate event for recognizing these outstanding people in the movie industry, we’re insuring that each honoree will be given his or her full due, without compromise.”

Read Full Post
<p>Leonardo DiCario in Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island."</p>

Leonardo DiCario in Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contender Countdown: The Oscar field expands to 26 dreamers

A very early breakdown of potential best picture nominees

 

We really should not be doing this.

June is way too early.  It goes against every rule I've ever given myself in this realm.  There is way too much that can change between now and -- most importantly -- the Venice/Telluride/Toronto Film Festival triumvirate in late August and early September.

And yet, today's announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences completely changes the race.  By going from 5 to 10 best picture nominees, the Academy has opened the field to films that would usually not be seriously considered.  The fact that a significant number of voters will still have to get behind each candidate makes this year a complete cluster [expletive].  The Academy has changed it's rules, but it's still predominantly an older membership.  By expanding the number of nominees will it really skew broader?  Or, in a worst case scenario, will the field resemble the Independent Spirit Awards? (Not that we don't love the Spirits, but they are two very different things). 

More intriguingly, studios have already set release dates for many of these films based on the old system.  Will a wider field change their strategy?  Will they want to go earlier or later?  Does matter?  Trust me, even consultant will spend the next few weeks pulling their hair out on which pictures to focus on and which to cast aside.  It's made a monstrous undertaking even more unweilding. 

With all that in mind, here is a brief rundown of 25 candidates and their prospective chances of a nomination as of June 24, 2009.  And yes, even with nomination day six months away there are two locks.  Really.

Locks:
"Nine"
Harvey can breathe a sigh of relief.  Based on the trailer alone, there is no way it's not getting in.
"Invictus"
Unless Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman or Matt Damon commit a disastrous public relations folly,  this feel good about Nelson Mandela and a popular South African rugby star is in.

Read Full Post
<p>Could "Star Trek" make the final five, er, ten of this year's Oscar race?&nbsp; Don't laugh. Now it's possible.</p>

Could "Star Trek" make the final five, er, ten of this year's Oscar race?  Don't laugh. Now it's possible.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Analysis: Oscars takes a risky, but potentially slamdunk gamble with 10 nominees

The pros and cons of this industry changing move

 

I have to confess, I'd heard about this potential change from five to 10 best picture nominees a few weeks ago, but my source was too close to the situation for me to reveal.  But having had time to dwell on the move, I think some of the initial rush to judgements of "worst idea ever" or "now the show will be six hours long" are a little short sighted.  Certainly, this is a dramatic change for the Oscars and will affect many aspects of the movie industry, but the positives certainly outweigh the negatives.  Let's take a look shall we?


WHY THIS MOVE ROCKS:

*It creates two horse races instead of one.  The first in the nominating process, the second during the final voting period.  The former always exists in some form, but now it's really broadening the field.  The latter has had little drama over the past decade with 2007's "The Departed" surprise win being the most intriguing competition during that time.  With 10 nominees, you need less votes to win (it's not a 50% majority after all) so many years it "could" be a crapshoot.  That's not to say there won't be universal pics like "Titanic" or "Slumdog Millionaire" that dominate the field, but tension will fill the Kodak Theater like never before.

Read Full Post
<p>"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was the biggest success of John Lesher's short tenure as the President of Paramount Pictures.</p>

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was the biggest success of John Lesher's short tenure as the President of Paramount Pictures.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Analysis: When is the drama at Paramount going to end?

Latest executive shakeup nothing new under Brad Grey's reign

 

I have nothing personal against Brad Grey.  I've never met the guy, but after yesterday's dramatic development's at Paramount Pictures, a question that is no doubt percolating through Hollywood's elite has to be asked: should Brad Grey still be the studio's CEO?

On Friday, Grey dismissed his second president of the studio, John Lesher, in four years.  This follows his axing of Donald DeLine upon his arrival in 2005 and the short reign of Gail "in over her head" Berman which ended in 2007.  Lesher, a former Grey colleague who had previously spearheaded the studio's prestige fare with the launch of Paramount Vantage, lasted only 18 months.  At the same time, Brad Weston, president of production, was also dismissed.  To say this is the most turnover amongst the studios during the same time period is somewhat of an understatement.

The pair are being replaced by Adam Goodman, the former No. 3 to Steven Spielberg and Stacy Snider at DreamWorks who has had a meteoric (and some say lucky) rise through the ranks.  In Goodman's defense however, he's helped guide almost all of the hits the former DreamWorks partnership brought to the studio including "Transformers," "Eagle Eye," "Disturbia," "I Love You Man," "Hotel for Dogs" and "Blades of Glory" just to name a few.

Read Full Post
<p>Andy Samberg gets some help from friends Bill Hader and Will Arnett in shooting promos for his MTV Movie Awards hosting gig.</p>

Andy Samberg gets some help from friends Bill Hader and Will Arnett in shooting promos for his MTV Movie Awards hosting gig.

Credit: MTV

MTV Movie Awards ready to rock Hollywood Sunday

Andy Samberg ready to host a 'Twilight' filled affair

Just how far can MTV jam "Twilight" down viewers throats on Sunday night during the MTV Movie Awards?  With two days to go, the network is probably still figuring out more even ways to hype the picture that dominated the show's nominations this year. 

Up for 7 nods including Best Movie and Best Kiss (slam dunk winner), "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are all set to make appearances during the show.  Additionally, the trio will introduce the new teaser trailer for the movie's upcoming sequel, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which will be available online shortly after on MySpace and here on HitFix.  And hey, the HitFix team are just as big fans of the vampire franchise as you can get, but we're hoping MTV remembers to show the love to some flicks like "The Dark Knight," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Iron Man" that are also worthy hyping.

Being that it's MTV, however, the show will also feature musical performances by Eminem (perfect since he just loves Hollywood) and Kings of Leon.  Your host is "Saturday Night Live's" Andy Samberg, so don't be surprised if The Lonely Island shows up to perform one of their hits live (I'm gunning for the profane laced "I'm on a Boat" featuring T-Pain). 

And as it's summer movie season, "New Moon" isn't the only movie that's going to get hyped.  "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" will debut a new clip during the show and presenters selling their upcoming flicks include Sacha Baron Cohen as "Bruno," Chris Pine ("Star Trek"), "Transformers" stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, "G.I. Joe's" Channing Tatum, "The Hangover's " Bradley Cooper, "Land of the Lost's" Will Ferrell, "The Proposal's" Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Radcliffe and the cast of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," and many more.  It's an impressive roster of stars that you can argue even the Oscars and Golden Globes can't match (of course, those shows don't have categories such as Best Fight or Best WTF Moment either).

Who will actually win?  (Like it matters.)  This awards prognosticator made his picks weeks ago.  Check out all the potential winners and nominees hereMake sure you also check HitFix for our live blog of the proceedings (especially for you West Coast peeps), red carpet galleries and a best and worst recap of the proceedings. 

The MTV Movie Awards air on MTV this Sunday at 9 PM. Will you be watching?

Read Full Post
<p>Michelle Pfeiffer got some strong notices during the Berlin Film Festival for Stephen Frears "Cheri."&nbsp; Can it make any headway during the summer season?</p>

Michelle Pfeiffer got some strong notices during the Berlin Film Festival for Stephen Frears "Cheri."  Can it make any headway during the summer season?

Credit: Miramax

Oscar bombs at Cannes: What's next?

Is there already an animated film controversy to worry about?

 

Oh, have times changed. 

In the wake of last weekend's 62nd Cannes Film Festival, one thing was redundantly clear: Oscar passed by the croissette this season.  It's been decades since a Palm d'Or winner has gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (The Envelope's Tom O'Neil studiously notes that hasn't happened since "Marty" in 1955).  However, the films and performances at Cannes have had a major impact on the Awards Season race in the past few years. 

Before expanding on how dreadful this year was, here's a quick rundown of festival selections who eventually received Oscar nods over just the past three years alone:

2008
"Changeling," "The Class," "Waltz with Bashir," "Vicky Christina Barcelona"

2007
"No Country for Old Men," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Sicko," "Persepolis"

2006
"Babel," "Volver," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Marie Antoinette," "Indigenes"

This snapshot features one best picture winner (out of two nominees), two best actress nods and a supporting actress winner last year with Cruz for "Barcelona."   This year the festival will be lucky if it can get more than two best foreign language film nominations out of its selections.  That's pretty much it.

Read Full Post
<p>Kate Hudson in her musical number from "Nine."</p>

Kate Hudson in her musical number from "Nine."

Credit: Weinstein Company

Oscar Contender #1: 'Nine" shows a sneak

Hudson shines, but no singing yet from Day-Lewis

So, if the Cannes Film Festival is up and running again, that means the first awards season pretenders, er, contenders are starting to sneak their way out of the gate.  At this early stage, however, it wasn't a film that premiered in France that has gotten everyone's attention, it's the simultaneous release of the teaser trailer for Rob Marshall's highly-anticipated big screen musical "Nine."

Marshall, whose cinematic debut "Chicago" won six Oscars (but not best director), is returning to the movie musical after tripping up with his second film, the straight melodrama "Memoirs of a Geisha." 

Based on Federico Fellini's classic "8 1/2," "Nine" was first brought to the stage in 1982 where it won a Tony Award for Best Musical and made the too early departed Raul Julia a star.  In 2003, a successful revival featured Antonio Banderas and, again, it scored Tony love with a Best Revival award.  Now, Marshall and producer Harvey Weinstein have recruited an all-star cast including Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role to bring the musical based on a movie back to theaters (shoot if "Hairspray" can do it...).  And if this preview delivers anything it certainly showcases that star power.

Read Full Post
<p>Will HitFix get to talk to Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner?&nbsp; We'll find out later this week.</p>

Will HitFix get to talk to Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner?  We'll find out later this week.

Credit: AP Photo

HitFix ready to visit 'Twilight Saga: New Moon' set

What do you want to know about the second chapter of the 'Twilight' saga?

 

A legion of fans are going to be very envious regarding my destination tomorrow night.  Having already visited the set of the original "Twilight" a year ago in the wilds of Oregon while I was chronicling the world of movies at MSN, I'm lucky enough to be going back-to-back as I head to Vancouver for a sneak peek of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."

First time around I and one other journalist got a gift that is a rarity nowadays: a 45 minute interview with a relaxed and blunter than he'll ever be again Robert Pattinson.  Don't expect that to happen this time around, but, no doubt director Chris Weitz will want to share his vision for the second chapter in the "Twilight" saga.  Who else will HitFix get to chat with?  Unclear, but it should be a very busy day. 

Summit is smartly embargoing our stories for a bit to wet everyone's appetite, but you can follow my journey to some extent over the next few days on Twitter.  Or, why not participate?  This writer has purposely avoided reading any of the novels to come at the series from a strictly cinematic perspective (a decision that has worked well for the "Harry Potter" franchise).  However, I'd love to know what you, the fans, would like to find out about the movie. What are you most curious about?  What would you ask Chris Weitz if you could?  Dakota Fanning? Or, a member of the Wolfpack?

Post your questions and thoughts in our comment section below.  If you haven't done so already, take 90 seconds to join the site here and then you'll easily be able to post your question.

Follow Gregory Ellwood and his journey to Vancouver and the "New Moon" set on Twitter at twitter.com/HitFixGregory

Read Full Post