<p>Wes Anderson demonstrates a scene from &quot;The Fantastic Mr. Fox.&quot;</p>

Wes Anderson demonstrates a scene from "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Exclusive: Watch Wes Anderson act out 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox'

Plus: Jason Schartzman talks 'Fox" and 'Bored to Death'

 

"2012" is getting all the hype this weekend, but if you take a look at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic you'll find another new release with much better reviews, "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."  Wes Anderson's stop motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic children's book has a stellar 90% on RT and an 88 on Meta which certainly equals that site's designation as "universal acclaim."  Of course, "Fox" is only opening in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, the rest of that nation will have to wait until Thanksgiving.

Featuring some, um, fantastic vocal performances by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman just to name a few, "Fox" centers on its title character's plan to steal from under the noses of three farmers and the consequences of his action on his friends and family.  Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale") wrote the screenplay, but it's the visual style of the movie that makes it really feel like an Anderson flick.

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<p>The always humble Martin Scorsese can't turn the Globes down.</p>

The always humble Martin Scorsese can't turn the Globes down.

Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

Oscar Watch: Scorsese to receive Golden Globes lifetime achievement award

Plus: David Rockwell thankfully returns as Oscar production designer

 

The HFPA announced today that Martin Scorsese will be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes this January.  There must be some feeling of deja vu for the acclaimed filmmaker about the award. Just last year, Scorsese helped present buddy Steven Spielberg with the same honor.

The organization's lifetime achievement will be Scorsese's third Globe.  He previously won best director for "The Departed" and "Gangs of New York."  Scorsese won his first Academy Award in 2006 for "The Departed."

Will Spielberg return the favor and present to Scorsese?  We'll soon find out.  The Golden Globes will be hosted by Ricky Gervais and broadcast live on NBC, Sunday, Jan. 17.

Scorsese's next film, "Shutter Island," hits theaters on Feb. 19

In other awards season news...

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<p>&quot;Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs&quot;&nbsp;will try to sneak into the Best Animated's five nominees, but the international blockbuster will have a tough time doing so.</p>

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" will try to sneak into the Best Animated's five nominees, but the international blockbuster will have a tough time doing so.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Academy announces 20 films that have been submitted for Best Animated Feature

'Ice Age,' 'A Christmas Carol' and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks 2' qualify

 

Wonderfully timed to Awards Campaign's rundown of who will be left out in the cold in the category, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 20 submissions for Best Animated Feature today.  While a number of the entries still need to meet their Los Angeles qualifying run this is officially confirmation that there will be five entries for the first time since 2002.

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<p>JuJu and Mama Odie in a scene from &quot;The Princess and the Frog.&quot;</p>

JuJu and Mama Odie in a scene from "The Princess and the Frog."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Oscar Watch: Who will be left out in the cold in the Best Animated Feature race?

There will officially be five nominees, but one potentially great flick won't make it

 

In news that will come to sweet relief to Pixar, Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Animation, Fox Searchlight and Focus Features, the Best Animated Feature race officially has over the 16 entry minimum needed to require a five nominee field. Surprisingly, that doesn't end the stress for a number of potential contenders.

Awards Campaign's buddy and animation beat extraordinaire reporter Peter Debruge broke the news in Variety today that two indies, "The Secret of Kells" and "The Missing Lynx" were the films that pushed the category over the edge.  However, while those films chances at being nominated are slim, it now means one of the following features is going to be left out in the cold.  Here's a run down at the six flicks who have a shot at being nominated this year.


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<p>Meryl Streep in the funny poster for Nancy Meyers' &quot;It's Complicated.&quot;</p>

Meryl Streep in the funny poster for Nancy Meyers' "It's Complicated."

Credit: Universal Pictures

What does Meryl Streep want for Oscar? It's a bit complicated

Icon making it clear her awards hopes are with 'Julie and Julia'

Having two competing roles in the same category is always a wealth of riches during awards season, except when the studio, your reps and half of Hollywood knows that "other" part could hurt your chances for success. 

Last year, Kate Winslet was incredibly lucky -- and not to mention deserving -- to win her Oscar for "The Reader."  Both The Weinstein Company, who released "Reader," and the defunct Paramount Vantage, which handled "Revolutionary Road," were hoping to slot Winslet in the Best Actress race with the latter and the Best Supporting race with the former.  Well, Academy members would have none of that.  They voted Winslet in for Best Actress for "The Reader" (which was probably the correct slotting anyway) and kicked her downer role in "Road" to the curb.  All's well that ends well for Winslet as she actually won, but other actresses haven't been so lucky.  Therefore, it's no surprise that none other than Meryl Streep appears to have made it clear where her support lies -- at least for awards.

In a somewhat weak Best Actress pool, Streep has been getting a ton of buzz for her portrayal of Julia Child in this past summer's hit "Julie and Julia" (and let's be honest, she pretty much carried the movie).  In the meantime, she also has Nancy Meyer's adult-themed romantic comedy "It's Complicated" hitting theaters in December.  Meyer's resume wouldn't normally scream Oscar except that she directed Diane Keaton to a nod in 2004 for "Something's Gotta Give."  Additionally, there has been some scuttlebutt around town that Alec Baldwin's performance in the love triangle storyline could be awards-worthy.  A late year release date, the pedigree of the talent involved and words are thrown around such as "potenital contender."

A tidbit was passed Awards Campaign's way from a trusted source that Ms. Streep was asked to pose for a spread in a major magazine that would be timed around the opening of "Complicated."  A publication many Academy members are known to still buy.  Her reply?  Only if she could take the photos with Nora Ephron.

Note: Ephron is her "Julie and Julia" director.

Awkward!

(Obviously, read into that what you will.)

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<p>The final poster for &quot;Precious:&nbsp;Based on Push on Push a Novel by Sapphire.&quot;</p>

The final poster for "Precious: Based on Push on Push a Novel by Sapphire."

Credit: Lionsgate

'Precious' makes box office history and sets its sights on 'New Moon'

Oscar contender makes a remarkable limited release debut

The journey of Lee Daniels' "Precious: Based on Push a Novel by Sapphire" continues to astound. In a stunner, "Precious" made box office history this weekend by posting the highest per screen average for a film in more than 10 theaters.  The acclaimed drama made $1.8 million in only 18 theaters for an eye-popping $100,000 per screen average. 

Historically, the only live action films to ever have a bigger per screen were "Dreamgirls" and "Brokeback Mountain," but both those films debuted on only three and five screens with averages of $126,000 and $105,000 respectively.  The more screens you make available, the lower your per screen usually is. In fact, the difference between 3 and 10 screens can be over a 50% drop. That what makes "Precious'" 18 screen debut so remarkable.

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<p>Anna Kendrick in a scene from potential Best Picture nominee &quot;Up in the Air.&quot;</p>

Anna Kendrick in a scene from potential Best Picture nominee "Up in the Air."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contender Countdown: Are 'Precious,' 'Hurt Locker' and 'Up in the Air' Best Picture locks?

And how perilous are 'District 9's' chances becoming?

As awards season storms into November the pool of Best Picture candidates is finally starting to solidify.  If the new ten picture system has done anything, it's established a small handful of films that are almost sure things to make to the dance.  Every prognosticator has their own favorites, but a consensus at Movie City News' Gurus of Gold (which Awards Campaign participates) finds Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air," Lee Daniels' "Precious: Based on Push a Novel by Sapphire" and Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" as pretty much sure bets at this early date.

This isn't just wild speculation.  The votes of 14 professionals who spend a good majority of the time watching the Oscar race over 3/4's of the year are at play here.  It's just not the quality of the movies, it's about considering the established field and what is yet to come.  And right now, there isn't much that hasn't been seen that could knock these three quality flicks out. 

You can find the rest of the Gurus top picks for last week here.  Awards Campaign's personal selections are a bit off from the consensus an we also takes into account new Fox Searchlight release "Crazy Heart" which could possibly knock one of the established ten out of contention (the film hadn't been screend when our original selections were submitted).  Check out Awards Campaign's current top 12 contenders and share your thoughts on the over field below.

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<p>Emily Blunt at the 2009 BAFTA/LA&nbsp;Britannia Awards.</p>

Emily Blunt at the 2009 BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Ben Stiller gives an already legendary intro to Robert De Niro at Britannia Awards

Plus: De Niro zings Disney over Miramax and Gov. Schwarzenegger honors Kirk Douglas

 

One of the classier early events of award season went off without a hitch last night as BAFTA LA's 2009 Britannia Awards were held in Century City.  The West Coast chapter the British Academy of Film and Television Arts holds this annual dinner to give career achievement awards to deserving filmmakers and actors -- and happily, they don't all have to be British.

This prognosticator had been warned that even with regular host Stephen Fry's witty banter in the mix that the show could be somewhat of a bore.  Lord, that was hardly the case.  There were truly some Golden Globe worthy moments (perhaps due to the free flowing wine) from presenters such as Amy Adams, Ewan McGregor and Mini Driver.

The evening got off to an impressive start as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a surprise appearance to present Kirk Douglas with the Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution in Filmed Entertainment.  It turns out one of Schwarzenegger's first films, "The Villain,"  was alongside Douglas and the legendary actor took the Austrian under his wing teaching him tennis (or tried to) and attempted to out pump him with his own bicep curls. More recently, the Governor shared how when he first was elected into office, Douglas invited him to appear at a playground opening he'd funded.  As time went by, Schwarzenneger ended up appearing at one playground opening after another.  Finally, the Governor asked Douglas how many more playgrounds he was going to build.  Douglas replied, "I'm going to stop at 400."  Last spring, Douglas' 400th playground was finished and a proud Schwarzenneger was there.  On this night, Douglas received no less than three standing ovations and the 93-year-old icon whose speech is affected by a stroke won the crowd over when he hit the stage.  He recalled the last movie he shot in London, 1959's "The Devil's Disciple" with old buddy Burt Lancaster and Sir. Laurence Olivier.  Lancaster and Douglas were asked to appear at a charity event in the city where they did a song and dance number to a classic London song. At that point in his speech, Douglas proceeded to sing the song and he didn't embarrass himself.  It was a remarkable moment.

Up next was Danny Boyle who was introduced by his "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel and one of his most frequent early collaborators, Ewan McGregor.  McGregor praised Boyle, who was receiving the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in Directing by noting "how safe I felt working with him."  Boyle, who has been accepting accolades for the better part of a year for "Slumdog," seemed honestly humbled by the award. He also joked he "wants to avoid scenes with toilets" (something he noticed as a common thread in his video montage) in the future.

One of the more forced moments of the night was the odd appearance of Benecio Del Toro who was the first presenter for Emily Blunt.  The up and coming actress was being honored (perhaps a tad early) with the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year for her roles in "Sunshine Cleaning" and December's "The Young Victoria" which has already been released in Europe.  Del Toro and Blunt worked together on the upcoming "The Wolfman" (in fact, with all the reshoots they worked on it a lot) and he joked she gave him the nickname Bearnice during filming. And, um, that was about it. Thanks for showing Benecio.

On the other hand, Blunt's second presenter was her "Cleaning" co-star and, it turns out, good friend Amy Adams.  Adams recalled how they met on the set of "Charlie Wilson's War" where they bonded after she ogled Blunt's breasts.  Yeah, the audience didn't get it either, perhaps it's an inside joke, but it was nice fodder for Fry during the rest of the show.

One of the more serious moments of the night was the presentation of the BAFTA/LA Volvo Humanitarian Award to Colin Firth.  The Brit is getting raves for his work in "A Single Man" (in fact, I interviewed him earlier in the day about his role), but many of his fans will be surprised to discover he has a long history as a champion for the underprivileged working with Oxfam International, Survival International and Amnesty International.  He's also co-founded a coffee shop chain, Cafe Progresso, that guarantees a fair price to independent coffee growers around the world. Longtime friend Mini Driver (who looked stunning by the way) described Firth's passion for change, but she noted that like his acting style, "He's quiet about it.  He doesn't draw attention to himself."  Firth's final presenter was his "Single Man" director Tom Ford and it may not have been the best choice.  21 days of shooting and a few film festivals aside, Ford barely knows Firth and his mannered intro was delivered more like a business presentation than a personal salute.  Firth, as gracious as anyone in this industry can be, sheepishly accepted his award declaring he'd really done nothing, but if he could shine a light on the issues of fair trade he hoped it would help.  If Firth keeps this up, he may find himself battling Angelina Jolie for sainthood.

As the night progressed, the cameras would occasionally cut to the night's final honoree Robert De Niro.  Needless to say, the Oscar winner did not look like he was having a good time.  Fry and numerous presenters would reference him either seriously or jokingly and he'd remain pretty stone faced every time the cameras caught him.  In fact, all this writer could imagine is that De Niro was over receiving yet another life time achievement award and just wanted to get out of there.  That all changed when Ben Stiller took the stage.

To be fair, De Niro's "Stardust" co-star Claire Danes appeared first and perhaps it was just that point in the show for everyone in the room, but what was meant to be funny just fell completely flat. Still, she gave it the old college try describing what appears to be a true friendship with her fellow New Yorker.  Stiller, on the other hand, stole the show and that's hard to do when the Governator has magically appeared to honor Kirk "freakin'" Douglas.

It's no secret in Hollywood that Stiller can be a major pain to work with, but there's a reason he keeps getting considered to host the Oscars.  When he kills.  He kills.  He first noted he was overwhelmed by all the "prestigiousness" in the room.  Stiller mocked himself in regards to his own resume compared to his "Meet the Parents" and upcoming "Little Fockers" co-star.   During one night shoot, De Niro stunned Stiller by saying, "Yeah, this reminds me of shooting 'Mean Streets' at night." Stiller admits all he could nervously come up with in reply was, "Yeah, this reminds me of shooting 'Mystery Men'" Oh, and who is dying at his seat of laughter?  De Niro.  There's also the fact De Niro has two Academy Awardsa and Stiller has a collection of Teen Choice, Nickelodeon Kid's Choice and MTV Movie Awards, "Maybe this Kubrick Award will even things up, huh Bobby?"

Stiller continues that once the legend fell asleep during a scene because of jet lag, but he was still be better sleeping in the shot than any other actor on the planet would be.  The comedian also said that after ten years he has such a close relationship with De Niro now that he's been able to "pull his ear, grab his cheek, kiss him in drag in a wedding dress and shoot a needle in his penis.  And we haven't even started shooting yet." [Insert shot of De Niro dying of laughter].  Stiller continued for a bit more joking that when the man of few words gets on stage, "We know he'll just go on and on and on."  It may be hard to convey in print, but Stiller eclipsed the man of the hour.

But, after a long standing ovation, De Niro did make it to the podium to accept the Stanley Kubrick Excellence in Film Award and pulled out some notecards before speaking.  What was this?  De Niro had prepared an acceptance speech?  It was certainly hard to follow a great act like Stiller, but it appeared De Niro wasn't just going to be run over by his friendly colleague. 

De Niro was a little wobbly at first.  He went down the predictable road of apologizing to the Brits for "overreacting" a bit with wasting all that tea during our tea party.   But then he noted how he always loves re-recording his roles for British audiences and while again you sort of had to be there he proceeded to reinterpret his famous "Are you talkin' to me?" scene from "Taxi Driver" in the most stiff upper lip and polite way ever. Yep, even the quiet auteur seems to have a sense of humor about himself.  Then his speech took a somewhat strange turn.  De Niro, who earlier in the week was at the gala opening of his new movie "Everybody's Fine" at AFI Fest, noted that there were too many people to thank. "They know who they are but, I want to thank what's left of Miramax.  I called them the other day and got the answering machine.  It said they would call back after the holiday."

The room is in stunned silence.

"They'd be back after Easter," De Niro quipped.  A couple of uncomfortable laughs and a few "Oh, my's" met that zinger.  Yes, one of America's greatest thespians delivered a 2 minute acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award where he devoted a quarter of it to dissing Disney for ripping up Miramax.  Could Disney chief Bob Iger hear that blast from across town?  Ouch.

And with that, De Niro was done and so was the show.  No musical numbers, no commercial breaks, but a ton memorable moments from a truly classy organization. 

And awards season rolls on...
 

For constant updates on awards season and entertainment news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter at Twitter.com/HitFixGregory

 

<p>George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Bridges at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of &quot;The Men Who Stare at Goats.&quot;</p>

George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Bridges at the Toronto Film Festival premiere of "The Men Who Stare at Goats."

Credit: AP Photo

Grant Heslov balances the fantastical in 'The Men Who Stare at Goats'

Clooney's buddy talks about his solid directorial debut

It pays to have powerful friends in Hollywood, but it also pays to have a reputation as a good guy.  That's Grant Heslov to a tee.  The former and sometimes actor has made his way through the industry at the side of buddy George Clooney as co-writer and producer of "Good Night, and Good Luck" (which netted him two Oscar nominations) and as his producing partner. Most importantly though, all you hear around town are compliments at how humble Heslov is at his success.  Yes, it's true moviegoers, you don't have to be a jerk to make it in Hollywood.

Heslov's filmmaking abilities were put the test with his very funny directorial debut, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" which opens nationwide this week.  Working of Peter Straughan's adaptation of Jon Ronson's non-fiction book, Heslov and crew had to find a way to make an entertaining film out of Ronson's mostly investigative novel. 

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<p>Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a scene from the new drama &quot;Crazy Heart.&quot;</p>

Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a scene from the new drama "Crazy Heart."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Sneak Peek: Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in 'Crazy Heart'

Late entry Oscar contender also gets a release date

 

Boy, that was quick.

One day after showing the new music-themed drama "Crazy Heart" to selected press including your humble prognosticator, Fox Searchlight officially announced the potential Oscar candidate will now open in limited released on December 16. In addition, the studio made two images from the Jeff Bridges showcase available for the first time.

You can read more about Bridges entry into the Best Actor race here, but it will be intriguing to see how "Crazy Heart" affects the overall Best Picture and Actor races.  And just as importantly, how it will fare in Best Original Song.  For the moment though, enjoy the pics as we await the first  official preview.

Hopefully Searchlight will throw a Colin Farrell photo out soon too.

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