<p>Henry Selick's &quot;Coraline&quot; is poised to land an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.</p>

Henry Selick's "Coraline" is poised to land an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Credit: Focus Features

Breaking: 'Coraline's' Henry Selick readying three new projects

Acclaimed filmmaker ready to move on after leaving Laika

 

Many believe it's a forgone conclusion that Pixar's "Up" will win the Best Animated Feature at this year's Academy Awards, but if any film could provide an upset it's "Coraline."  A unique critical and box office stop motion hit, the Henry Selick directed adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel has a strong fanbase within the industry.  If -- and it's a big if -- "Up" gets a traditional Best Picture nomination as expected, it wouldn't be that surprising for some voters to conceivably change their vote in the Animated Film category for "Coraline."

After landing an impressive 10 nominations for this year's Annie Awards (arguably more prestigious to animators than the Oscars), Selick jumped on the phone this week to talk about the success of "Coraline" and his future projects.

"I went all over the charts, but generally was assuming far less," Selick says regarding "Coraline's" $75 million take. "Honestly, you don't know. You know what you have to make to convince people to make another one.  People catch on like viruses and there is no explaining [what they will and won't like]. We're just glad we caught it at the right time."

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<p>Tom Ford is on the edge of his seat discussing &quot;A Single Man.&quot;</p>

Tom Ford is on the edge of his seat discussing "A Single Man."

Credit: HitFix

Tom Ford and Matthew Goode divulge the secrets of 'A Single Man'

Watch: Always candid Goode on sharing a spray tan with Colin Firth

 

Having already filled out my top ten films of the year list, it was somewhat surprising that Tom Ford's "A Single Man" made the cut.  A moving and powerful picture when I caught the drama's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, it was unclear how long an impression the picture would make or whether there would be numerous films that would jump ahead of it on what is obviously an incredibly subjective ranking of the year's best.  But in the months that have followed, so much of the picture including Colin Firth's revelatory performance and the exacting detail of Ford's direction have made it hard not to salute.

About five weeks ago I happily sat down with the entire cast including Colin Firth (which you can watch here), Matthew Goode, "About a Boy's" all grown up Nicholas Hoult and director Tom Ford.  

Goode has always been a studio publicists nightmare and a journalist's dream.  Ever since first meeting the Brit while he was doing promoting "Match Point," Goode has been incredibly frank and usually hilarious with his on set stories and candid revelations about how he really feels about something.  I'll never forget the horror on a publicist's face during a "Watchmen" set visit when Goode complained about being stuck in Vancouver for so long with nothing to do.  Word is Goode was a bit more conservative while doing press for his upcoming comedy "Leap Year" this past weekend, but he was certainly his old self for "A Single Man."  It must have been quite an experience for youngster Nicholas Hoult who joined him for a day of press.  Check out the interview below and enjoy.



As for the man behind the Oscar contender, Ford was clearly, and disappointingly, on message during our sit down.  The press were instructed not to ask about fashion or his career as an iconic designer -- just about the movie -- which was not only silly, but did him a disservice.  Ford is one of the few to make the rare jump from a creative world outside the movie industry to foster an impressive work of cinema.  To ignore his own creative beginnings and evolution as an artist as he transitions to another art form reeks of insecurity.  In any event, enjoy Ford's discussion on making "A Single Man" below.




"A Single Man" opens in limited release this Friday and is well worth seeing when it comes to a theater near you.
 

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<p>After seeing how many LAFCA&nbsp;winners have won the Best Picture Oscar the past 15 years, maybe George Clooney is thinking it's OK to let another film share the spotlight?&nbsp; </p>

After seeing how many LAFCA winners have won the Best Picture Oscar the past 15 years, maybe George Clooney is thinking it's OK to let another film share the spotlight? 

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

How many critic's groups awards can Oscar frontrunner 'Up in the Air' win?

Plus: A rundown of the latest Oscar contenders

Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" has already won the Best Picture Award from the National Board of Review and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics, but three of the biggest guns and Oscar influencers are being announced within the next week.  The big question is: can "Up in the Air" go for the sweep?  Well, yes, but most likely no.

Los Angeles Film Critics - Sunday, Dec. 10
Contenders: "Up in the Air," "Hurt Locker," "500 Days of Summer" and "A Serious Man"
Lowdown: Intriguingly, LAFCA members haven't picked an Oscar winner for Best Picture since "Schindler's List" in 1993.  So, if you're Paramount you may actually be rooting not to win this one.  However, this is organization most likely the group to reward "The Hurt Locker" or a Coen's "A Serious Man."  We're betting on the former, but our upset winner? The love letter to downtown LA, "500 Days of Summer." 

New York Film Critics Circle - Monday, Dec. 11
Contenders: "A Serious Man," "Precious," "Hurt Locker" and "A Single Man"
Lowdown: Unlike their West Coast peers, the New York Critics tend to be all over the place.  Over the past nine years their top prize has matched Oscar's twice ("The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "No Country for Old Men"), but four of their winners weren't even nominated for Best Picture ("United 93," "Far From Heaven," "Mulholland Drive," "Topsy-Turvey"). Moreover, they rarey duplicate LAFCA although always insist it isn't intentional (uh-huh).  It's gut, but we're guessing "A Serious Man" or "A Single Man" wins here.  This group likes to make a statement and both would certainly do that.

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<p>Madonna walks the red carpet at the New York City Museum of Modern Art premiere of Tom Ford's &quot;A&nbsp;Single Man.&quot;</p>

Madonna walks the red carpet at the New York City Museum of Modern Art premiere of Tom Ford's "A Single Man."

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Oscar Watch: Madonna walks the 'Single Man' red carpet for buddy Tom Ford

Plus: Adam Shankman's tweets scaring Academy and another honor for Jeff Bridges


Tom Ford got some major star power on the red carpet Monday night for the New York premiere of his directorial debut "A Single Man."  None other than Madonna, who rarely attends such functions, strutted her stuff to help bring attention to Ford's impressive drama at its Museum of Modern Art screening.  Considering how much the Weinstein's attention appears to be centered on "Nine," it was a nice paparazzi boost for the film which opens in limited release this Friday in Los Angeles and New York.  Expected Best Actor nominee Colin Firth, Best Supporting Actress contender Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult were all in the house and, as you'd guess, all in fashionable black.  Of course, Ford wouldn't have to be worrying about a marketing campaign for "Single Man" if he'd gone with other suitors, but you can't knock loyalty and a ten year friendship with Harvey.  This is one pundit hoping the film pulls off its own miracle and finds a wide audience.

In other news...

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<p>Anthony Mackie in &quot;The Hurt Locker.&quot;</p>

Anthony Mackie in "The Hurt Locker."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

'Up in the Air' and 'Hurt Locker' dominate Washington Critics Awards

Group hadn't seen all the contenders, but who cares right?

Eager to get out of the gate before their more respected colleagues in Los Angeles and New York, the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics announced their 2009 awards yesterday.  Of course, the organization hadn't seen all of the possible contenders such as "Crazy Heart" or "Avatar," but like that really matters right? 

There were relatively few surprises as "Up in the Air" won Best Picture and Best Actor (George Clooney), but "The Hurt Locker" had a strong showing winning director and Best Ensemble.   More major critics awards will be announced his weekend.  Be sure to check HitFix or @HitFixGregory on Twitter for the latest updates.

Check out the complete list of winners below.

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<p>&nbsp;Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in alien form in James Cameron's &quot;Avatar.&quot;</p>

 Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in alien form in James Cameron's "Avatar."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Golden Globes ready to go gaga for 'Avatar'

Could history really be repeating itself for James Cameron?

Over a decade ago James Cameron was battling media reports that his delayed and pricey epic "Titanic" was a creative disaster and ready to sink at the box office like the famed ocean liner whose story it dramatically re-told.  Instead, the Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox production became a cultural phenomenon and grossed over $1.8 billion worldwide and won a staggering 11 Academy Awards including the prestigious Best Picture trophy.  In less than two weeks, Cameron returns to the big screen with his almost as hyped Sci-Fi motion capture adventure "Avatar." The film has sparked heated debate among genre fans and everyday moviegoers as well as finding itself under the microscope of the testy entertainment media.  Factoring in the substantial negative responses to the IMAX and Comic-Con previews, many in the industry were coming to the conclusion that "Avatar" would be a nice hit (i.e., $200 million plus in the U.S.) at best thanks to some nicely cut TV spots. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who expected the picture to stand alongside the critical favorites of Cameron's previous work.  Boy can things change after one screening in Hollywood.  No one who has seen the film is allowed to go on record [and this writer has not seen the film himself], but word has leaked that Fox's gamble may have paid off and "Avatar" may be way more than meets the eye.

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<p>Colin Firth talks about playing the lead role in Tom Ford's &quot;A Single Man.&quot;</p>

Colin Firth talks about playing the lead role in Tom Ford's "A Single Man."

Credit: HitFix

Colin Firth gets his long overdue spotlight as 'A Single Man'

Best Actor contender talks about Tom Ford's dramatic debut

Chatting with some knowledgeable friends about Oscar over the weekend, the subject of the usually competitive Best Actor race came up.  And even with a nomination announcement less than two months away, the consensus was that four of the five nominees were pretty much set. George Clooney for "Up in the Air," Morgan Freeman for "Invictus," Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart" and Colin Firth for "A Single Man." The fifth slot?  There are numerous possibilities for the final contender, but out of those four it's clear if Firth gets in the nod will be the win.  And having met the always gracious Firth a number of times, the British actor who spends a significant amount of his time quietly working on philanthropic causes,  it's hard to see him complaining about not being in the "race."

 

A deserved nominee for his impressive body of work alone, Firth gives one of his finest performances as the heartbroken college professor George in Tom Ford's directorial debut.  Based on Christopher Isherwood's classic novel, "A Single Man" follows a day in George's life in 1960s Los Angeles. However, behind the stiff exterior of a seemingly content educator, is a man who still hasn't recovered from the accidental death of his longtime lover Jim (Matthew Goode).  Will a seemingly flirtatious student (Nicholas Hoult) bring him out of his shell?  Or, will he consider the proposal of his longtime best friend (Julianne Moore) to return to England and start over again?  It's hard to reduce the film to such simple terms, especially with Firth subtly conveying George's sadness during a time when being "out" was rarely an option for professional men.  The context and depth of the film is hardly "simple."

 

Firth, along with some of his "Single Man" cohorts, sat down to talk about the movie last month in Los Angeles.  Speaking to Firth it's obvious he'd prefer to give much of the credit to his director and his co-stars, but he did elaborate on where he found his inspiration for the role in what was an incredibly quick shoot.

 

You can check out the interview embedded in this story, or to watch a larger version of the interview, click here.

 

Look for sit downs with Tom Ford and Matthew Goode later this week.

 

"A Single Man" opens in limited release on Friday and expands nationwide on Dec. 25.

 

Is "A Single Man" on your viewing list?  Does Firth have a shot to beat Bridges, Clooney or Freeman?  Share your thoughts below.

 

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

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<p>Sam Rockwell and, um, Sam Rockwell in a scene from Duncan Jones &quot;Moon.&quot;</p>

Sam Rockwell and, um, Sam Rockwell in a scene from Duncan Jones "Moon."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'Moon' is the surprise winner at the British Indies, but Sam Rockwell loses again

Awards Fact: Rockwell has never been nominated for a Spirit or Oscar


One of the more perplexing realities of this year's awards season is how little love Sam Rockwell has received for his great performance (or is that performances?) in Duncan Jones indie Sci-Fi hit "Moon."  Part of the problem, at least with the Independent Spirit Awards, is that because "Moon" was financed with international money it's ineligible for the U.S. only Spirits (and that opens a huge can of worms if you want to argue changing the rules with those peeps).  It's only exasperated by the fact that Rockwell, a critical and industry favorite, has never been nominated for a Spirit let alone an Oscar.  Sadly, the chance of the latter happening this season is remote and even the one award he had a good shot at winning -- the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor -- has gone to a different fine performance.

Announced tonight in London, the English equivalent of the Spirits provided one big surprise as "Moon" beat "An Education" and "In the Loop" for Best Picture.  That's sweet solace to director Duncan Jones, who also won the helmers award.  It probably doesn't mean much for the film's Oscar or Golden Globes chances, but it's certainly a nice validation that Sci-Fi can succeed on the big screen without laser guns and space ship battles.

Other prominent winners include "Fish Tank," Tom Hardy's charismatic turn in "Bronson," Carey Mulligan from "An Education" and the quartet of great screenwriters behind "In the Loop."

Here's a complete list of the 2009 BIFA winners:

Best British Independent Film
"Moon"

Best Director of a British Independent Film
Andrea Arnold for "Fish Tank"

The Douglas Hickox Award
Duncan Jones for "Moon"

Best Screenplay
Jesse Armstrong, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, Simon Blackwell for "In The Loop"

Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film
Carey Mulligan, for "An Education"

Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film
Tom Hardy for Bronson

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Marie Duff for Nowhere Boy

Best Supporting Actor
John Henshaw for Looking For Eric

Most Promising Newcomer
Katie Jarvis for "Fish Tank"

Best Achievement In Production
"Bunny And The Bull"

The Raindance Award
"Down Terrace"

Best Technical Achievement
Greig Fraser, for "Bright Star"

Best British Documentary
"Mugabe and The White African"

Best British Short Film
"Love You More"

Best Foreign Independent Film
"Let The Right One In"

The Richard Harris Award
Daniel Day-Lewis

The Variety Award
Michael Caine

The Special Jury Prize
Baz Bamigboye 

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<p>Penelope Cruz in &quot;Nine.&quot;</p>

Penelope Cruz in "Nine."

Credit: Weinstein Company

What's wrong and what's right with 'Nine'

Cotillard and Cruz shine, the rest? Not so much

Here's the lowdown on the highly anticipated movie musical "Nine": Rob Marshall's latest 'should' still get nominated for Best Picture, but that's only because there are ten nominations and the competition is weak. A blunt assessment to be sure, but the truth hurts.  Starpower will also help get it in and if The Weinstein Company and Relativity Media are lucky, the once-in-a-lifetime appeal of Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Fergie, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson and Daniel Day-Lewis in a movie together should lead to pleasant financial returns, but this doesn't rank among the highly respected musicals of the decade alongside "Chicago," "Moulin Rouge" and "Dreamgirls."

Adapting a musical based on a Fellini movie would be a difficult task for anyone, but Rob Marshall and screenwriters Michael Tolkin and the recently departed Anthony Minghella may have taken on too much here. Or, perhaps they have changed so much the core of the musical that won the top Tony Award isn't really there anymore.  Awards Campaign will let the Broadway experts argue that, but in a movie context here is a clear breakdown of what works and what doesn't in "Nine."

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<p>Sandra Bullock at the New York City premiere of &quot;The Blind Side.&quot;</p>

Sandra Bullock at the New York City premiere of "The Blind Side."

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Oscar Watch: Sandra Bullock's awards chances heat up with 'Blind Side' box office

Plus: Oscar announces Live Action shortlist and more


An extremely rare box office feat is expected to occur this weekend. The word of mouth phenomenon "The Blind Side" should make more money in wide release in its third frame than it did in its first or second.  This comes off the melodrama's dramatic upturn already over "Thanksgiving."  With $108 million in the bank, the $35 million budgeted film is going to be a substantial profit center for Alcorn Entertainment and distributor Warner Bros.  When all is said and done another big winner may be none other than the film's star, Sandra Bullock.

Already coming off the massive summer hit "The Proposal," Bullock is turning into one of Hollywood's more reliable leading ladies these days -- in the right roles at least.  What many forget is that Bullock's dramatic credentials aren't that surprising or unknown.  She starred in the Oscar winning Best Picture "Crash" and delivered fine performances in "Infamous" and "28 Days."  Now, there is more and more scuttlebutt that the well-liked actress could be a surprise nominee for "The Bind Side" and its really not that far fetched. The always charming and witty Bullock has already participated in a Q&A screening for SAG voters and the big box office may help sneak her into a SAG Award nod (Globe?  We're not so sure.). If she does break into SAG, Warner Bros. could easily add her to their busy slate of potential nominees to push during the final few weeks of nomination campaigning.  The only thing hindering Bullock and "Blind Side's" Academy chances will be whether the small town faith favorite will actually play to the membership. That's one of the million dollar questions these days, but It would be sort of refreshing if it did. 

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