<p>Could "Brokeback Mountain" have beaten "Crash" if the preferential system was used for Best Picture voting in 2006?&nbsp; We'll never know for sure, but its possible.</p>

Could "Brokeback Mountain" have beaten "Crash" if the preferential system was used for Best Picture voting in 2006?  We'll never know for sure, but its possible.

Credit: Focus Features

Oscar Rules: Academy goes 1 to 10 in Best Picture voting

New system makes sure nominees reflect a consensus of the membership


Another example of how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences cannot avoid controversy no matter what it does, details on how members will select the new system of ten Best Picture nominees were revealed today creating a ruckus among some online pundits. But before diving into that mess, some details on the new rules.

In previous years, the Academy rules stated that members voted for only one potential nominee in the Best Picture race each year (the one category all members can submit nominees for).  The five nominees with the top five votes totals would be announced as eligible for Best Picture.  However, when it came around to selecting the overall winner, the process was modified so members would vote in a ranked system placing each nominee in first, second, third (and so on) slots.  This "preferential" system is meant to put just as much importance on the third place vote as a first place vote and ind a winner with broad support across the Academy (got that?).  So, it's possible 2006 nominee "Brokeback Mountain" may have theoretically had more first place votes, but if "Crash" appeared on more ballots between 1-3 slots it was the winner (as was sadly the case).

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<p>Abbie Cornish is a scene from "Bright Star"</p>

Abbie Cornish is a scene from "Bright Star"

Credit: Apparition

Exclusive: Abbie Cornish and Ben Winshaw in 'Bright Star'

Pretty new stills of Jane Campion's upcoming prestige flick


Jane Campion's "Bright Star" is one of the more intriguing new releases this September. The debut of new distributor Apparition, "Bright Star" premiered last May at the Cannes Film Festival to positive notices, especially for the performances of stars Abbie Cornish and Ben Winshaw.  The picture also appears to be a comeback for Campion after the Oscar-winning director of "The Piano" stumbled with 2003's "In the Cut."

Centered on the last days of noted poet John Keats (Winshaw), "Bright Star" chronicles his romance with Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) which was the inspiration for some of his most acclaimed work. 

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<p>Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel in "Coco Avant Chanel."</p>

Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel in "Coco Avant Chanel."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Listen: Will Oscar remember Alexandre Desplat's score for 'Coco Avant Chanel'?

Audrey Tautou stars in the not so new biopic of the fashion icon

Had an opportunity to see Anne Fontaine's "Coco Avant Chanel" last night and while I can't review it at this time I will heap some praise on the gorgeous score by Alexandre Desplat you can already find online.

Desplat is a two-time Oscar nominee for his work in "The Queen" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," but his music has usually been hit or miss in my opinion with his score for "Lust, Caution" being his most memorable score to date -- before "Chanel" that is.  To say his music makes the movie wouldn't be fair to the strong performance from star Audrey Tautou or the beautiful work of cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne, but it's close.  Desplat's compositions will be heard by many moviegoers over the next few months as he's reunited with his "Golden Compass" director Chris Weitz for "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," scored Wes Anderson's animated "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" (assuming that actually makes it to screens this year). 

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<p>Brad Pitt isn't likely to get any Oscar love for his work in "Inglourious Basterds," but his co-stars and director should.</p>

Brad Pitt isn't likely to get any Oscar love for his work in "Inglourious Basterds," but his co-stars and director should.

Credit: Weinstein Company

Will 'Basterds' be the next 'Crash'? Not so fast...

Weinsteins are in the Oscar race, but can they afford it?

The bigger than expected $38 million opening of The Weinstein Company's "Inglourious Basterds" has fueled speculation that Quentin Tarantino's latest might be a new player for one of this year's wide open ten Best Picture slots.  Well, with contenders dropping left and right either because (A) new release dates ("Shutter Island") have them in 2010 or (B) scuttlebutt that the films aren't the players the media think they are (nameless for now), the list of potential candidates is growing smaller and smaller by the week.  In fact, even if it were still the traditional five slots people would be whispering about what a weak year it is.  With 10?  Yeesh. 

Now, it's entirely possible "Basterds" could generate enough support within the Academy to crack the top ten, however, there's a long road till January, er, February 2 and Harvey's priority for Oscar is first and foremost Rob Marshall's star-filled "Nine." Luckily, Relativity Media co-financed a majority of movie musical and should support that marketing and awards campaign.  But, its hard to believe the cash-strapped Weinsteins have the dollars to pull off a rumored "Crash" like campaign for "Basterds."

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<p>Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans."</p>

Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans."

Credit: TIFF

If summer's ending, Toronto is just around the corner...

A sneak peek at 20 must see films at TIFF this year

As the end of summer draws to a close anticipation is building for the triumvirate of film festivals beginning over the next few weeks.  The Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals will all features debuts of long awaited films from filmmakers such as Steven Soderbergh, Michael Moore, Werner Herzog, Jason Reitman, Todd Solondz, the Coen brothers, Don Roos and Neil Jordan. A welcome change from some of the expected drudge of the last few months.

It's also the unofficial kick off to awards season as potential contenders  nervously debut their wares to the critics and the pubic for the first time. "Slumdog Millionaire" began its buzz train at Telluride and Toronto last year and other unknowns such as "Juno" and "Michael Clayton" kick started their long campaigns in similar fashion.  (Then again, there is always the chance of a disastrous debut such as the Toronto premiere of "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," a wound that picture truly never recovered from.)

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio's chances for a best actor statue are foiled again with "Shutter Island" moving to 2010.</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio's chances for a best actor statue are foiled again with "Shutter Island" moving to 2010.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

August Surprise: Leonardo DiCaprio's'Shutter Island' moves to 2010

Is it really a financial issue or does the movie not live up to its materials?

Well there goes one potential Best Picture candidate. 

DHD's broke the news that's been rumored all over town the past few days that Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" is moving to a February 2010 release date.  Paramount Pictures is not confirming the new date (yet), but outside sources say it's a done deal.

Based on a popular novel by Dennis Lehane, the thriller featured an all-star prestige picture cast including previous Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Max von Sydow and Michelle Williams as well as past winner Ben Kingsley.  The trailer, to all accounts, played superbly and the film was considered one of the true potential critical and box office hits of the fall.

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<p>Perry (Gregory Smith) and Leslie (Kristen Hager) share a moment in "Leslie, My Name is Evil."</p>

Perry (Gregory Smith) and Leslie (Kristen Hager) share a moment in "Leslie, My Name is Evil."

Credit: TIFF

Toronto: Exclusive stills from 'Leslie, My Name Is Evil'

The Vanguard selection has a Charles Manson connection


The Toronto International Film Festival is right around the corner and HitFix is happy to announce that coverage will be provided by both myself and Drew McWeeny as we report on the films, interview the filmmakers and stars and, god willing, hit some parties.

Canadian films are always hit or miss at the Festival, but this writer has always done his best to make sure he catches a few because you never know when you'll see the next "Away from Her" or "Last Night" (one to Netflix if you've never seen it).  One intriguing Canadian flick this year is the murder drama "Leslie, My Name is Evil" in the festival's Vanguard selection.

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<p>George Clooney in the first still released for "Up in the Air."</p>

George Clooney in the first still released for "Up in the Air."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

First Look: George Clooney and the poster for 'Up in the Air'

'Juno' director Jason Reitman's follow up ramps up for Toronto


One of the more intriguing last minute additions to the awards season calendar is Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air." 

A dramedy based on a novel by Walter Kirn, "Air" centers on Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a traveling corporate downsizing expert whose dream of reaching 10 million frequent flyer miles is threatened when a new woman (Vera Farminga) enters his life.

It was unclear whether the film would even release in 2009, but Reitman has worked quickly enough to ensure that and a debut at this year's Toronto Film Festival (although Telluride wouldn't be out of the question too).  Reitman's family has a long history with the festival and its given a great kick off to his last two features, "Thank You For Smoking" and the Oscar-nominated "Juno."

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<p>It's hard to find a good photo of Christoph Waltz, so here's a sexy shot of an airbrushed Diane Kruger from "Inglourious Basterds."</p>

It's hard to find a good photo of Christoph Waltz, so here's a sexy shot of an airbrushed Diane Kruger from "Inglourious Basterds."

Credit: Weinstein Company

'Inglourious Basterds' has its share of great performances, but Best Picture?

Believe the 'Basterds' hype for Christoph Waltz

Finally had a chance to see Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" tonight and it lived up to the growing hype its received since screening here in the states over the past few weeks.  Word wasn't so positive after the film premiered at Cannes, but there has been quite a turnabout since.

Clearly Tarantino's best work since the first half of "Kill Bill" (unless you insist on judging that epic whole), "Basterds" may wear out its welcome a bit, but it features some truly great performances.

First off, how nice is it to see Diane Kruger actually enjoying herself on screen instead of her painful work in the "National Treasure" franchise and "Troy"?  Her portrayal of fictional German screen star Bridget von Hammersmark is almost a revelation if you didn't realize her European resume has been turning heads for the past decade. Let's hope this puts her back on the radar of A-list directors in the states.

Another international actor who should get some more U.S. attention after "Basterds" is Daniel Bruhl.  Moviegoers may recognize him from his small role in "The Bourne Ultimatum," but it's his charming turn as Fredrick Zoller, a Nazi war hero who tries to seduce Soshanna Dreyfus (a fine Melanie Laurent) that should boost his profile in the English-making movie world.  Bruhl is certainly no stranger to the industry after his breakthrough role in 2003's "Good Bye Lenin!" but "Basterds" shows he may be ready to make a bigger step outside of continental Europe.

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<p>Tom Hanks has a new gig: "first" vice president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.</p>

Tom Hanks has a new gig: "first" vice president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar gets a new chief: Tom Sherak new head of AMPAS

Tom Hanks becomes Vice President, Pixar's John Lasseter gets busier

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced tonight that its Board of Governors has elected Tom Sherak the new president of the organization.  He succeeds Sid Ganis who served out the maximum four one-year alloted terms.

Additionally, Tom Hanks (yes that Tom Hanks) was elected "first" vice president and longtime Hollywood producer Kathleen Kennedy and Phil Robinson were elected to the other vice president slots.  Hawk Koch was elected treasurer and Pixar and Disney Animations studios head John Lasseter was made secretary (good lord, where does the man find the time?). 

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