<p>Zachary Booth and Ira Sachs talk &quot;Keep the Lights On.&quot;</p>

Zachary Booth and Ira Sachs talk "Keep the Lights On."

Watch: Ira Sachs and Zachary Booth on the loud intimacy of 'Keep The Lights On'

Can the indie gay drama find an audience?

PARK CITY - One of the better films I saw at this year's 2012 Sundance Film Festival was Ira Sachs "Keep The Lights On."  The drama about the ups and downs of a gay couples long term relationship as one of them battles a drug addiction and both of them keep secrets from each other was a moving and artistic portrait between two men we have rarely seen on screen.  And yet, I was surprised by how many different reactions there were to the picture in the days following.  While many appreciated it as much as I did, a significant amount of younger viewers didn't seem to get it (perhaps too little life experience?) and others didn't understand the motivations of one character or another.  That could be one explanation why the picture still hasn't been officially acquired out of the festival yet (obviously indie gay films have their limitations at the box office).  It's hard to imagine the film being relegated to just the gay film festival circuit, but stranger things have happened.

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<p>Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons in &quot;The Words.&quot;</p>

Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons in "The Words."

Credit: CBS Films

Is the Sundance Film Festival's Oscar run officially over?

2012 is turning out to be another weak year for Academy Awards contenders

PARK CITY - It's been quite common over the past few years to receive a press release from the Sundance Film Festival congratulating the just announced Oscar nominees who debuted or screened their films at the previous edition of the festival. Impressively, the list of nominees was growing and including bigger and bigger categories almost every year.  What once was just some nominations in the documentary short category had grown to best actor, best original screenplay and - gasp - best picture.

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<p>&nbsp;The cast of 'Bridesmaids'</p>

 The cast of 'Bridesmaids'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Kristen Wiig and the 'Bridesmaids' cast will present at the Oscars together

Best supporting actress nominee Melissa McCarthy reuniting with cast mates

The hilarious ladies of "Bridesmaids" are getting back together in a few weeks -- but not for the rumored sequel

The hit film's stars Kristen WiigRose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Maya Rudolph are set to be presenters at the 84th Academy Awards.

Emmy winner McCarthy ("Mike and Molly") is up for the best supporting actress Oscar for her scene-stealing performance in "Bridesmaids," while Wiig is nominated for the film’s original screenplay. All six are making their first Oscar show appearances.
 
The Academy Awards, produced by Brian Grazer and Don Mischer, will air on ABC Sunday, February 26 from the Kodak Theatre in L.A. Billy Crystal is hosting.

Think you can guess this year's winners? Prove it in our
Oscar pool.

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<p>Josh Radnor talks &quot;Liberal Arts&quot;&nbsp;during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Josh Radnor talks "Liberal Arts" during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Josh Radnor brings 'Liberal Arts' to Sundance and talks 'HIMYM' future

A refreshingly candid interview with the talented filmmaker

PARK CITY - Two years ago filmmaker and actor Josh Radnor arrived at the Sundance Film Festival with his debut feature "Happythankyoumoreplease."  The dramatic competition dramedy was a crowd pleaser and was quickly acquired by an upstart distribution division of Hannover House before the end of the fest.  Unfortunately, the story stopped being a happy one after that. Hannover House turned out to be a financial mess and "thankyou" didn't hit theaters until over a year after it debuted at the festival after Anchor Bay came in to give it a defacto release.  Radnor, who most recognize as Ted on "How I Met Your Mother," is being much more discerning regarding his second feature, "Liberal Arts."

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<p>&nbsp;Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in &quot;Midnight in Paris.&quot; &nbsp;Woody Allen's latest received four Oscar nominations Tuesday including best picture.</p>

 Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in "Midnight in Paris."  Woody Allen's latest received four Oscar nominations Tuesday including best picture.

Credit: Sony Classics

Sony Classics' Michael Barker talks 'Midnight in Paris' and 'A Separation's' Oscar nom haul

An the indie vet turns the tables on this pundit

PARK CITY - Tuesday was a good day for Sony Pictures Classics co-president and co-founder  Michael Barker.  Classics scored eight Academy Award nominations including four for Woody Allen's best picture player "Midnight in Paris" and found itself with three of the foreign language nominees: "A Separation," "Footnoote" and "In Darkness." The now legendary independent film distributor also secured distribution rights to the romantic dramedy "Celeste & Jesse" starring Andy Samberg, Rashida Jones and HitFix favorite Elijah Wood.  And yet, when Barker called me to discuss his company's impressive Oscar haul he immediately turned the tables and wanted to know what films I liked at the festival.  So, if Classics ends up securing "Keep The Lights On" or "Safety Not Guaranteed," I'll happily take credit for pushing them over the top for a sale.  The Oscars were top of mind though and Barker admitted that he was once again surprised by some of the selections.

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<p>The usually smiling Albert Brooks looking more stern than usual at the NYFCC awards dinner earlier this month. &nbsp;Brooks won the org.'s best supporting actor honor.</p>

The usually smiling Albert Brooks looking more stern than usual at the NYFCC awards dinner earlier this month.  Brooks won the org.'s best supporting actor honor.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Albert Brooks reacts as only Albert Brooks can react to not getting nominated

There's always 'This is Forty' right?

For those of us who are fans of "Drive," no nomination was more important this morning than Albert Brooks in the best supporting actor category.   However, after Brooks surprisingly failed to land the equivalent SAG Awards honor, many began worrying he wouldn't make the Oscar cut.  That sadly came to pass as Max Von Sydow was the surprise fifth nominee for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."  

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Sandra Bullock in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Sandra Bullock in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Credit: Warner Bros.

Analysis: Oscar continues to surprise in big and small ways

From 'Extremely Loud's' comeback to surprising omissions

Somewhere in the offices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Oscar is fixing himself a stiff drink and thinking to himself, "You thought you knew it all. You thought I couldn't surprise you. How wrong you were."

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<p>Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy discuss &quot;Red Lights&quot;&nbsp;at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.</p>

Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy discuss "Red Lights" at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

'Red Light's' Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy talk paranormal activity

Which movie got Olsen's audience award vote?

PARK CITY - In my review for "Arbitrage" this weekend I mentioned that sometimes films that should debut at Sundance are likely better served with a premiere at Toronto and vice versa.  The two major acquisition festivals have their own unique aesthetics and while they try to mix it up now and then the results can sometimes be mind-bogglingly frustrating for audiences.  On Friday night, director Rodrigo Cortes returned to Park City two years after his Ryan thriller "Buried" debuted in the Midnight section to big buzz and a Lionsgate pick-up.  His new film, "Red Lights," is a slick, entertaining and quirky thriller with fine performances from Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and Cillian Murphy, but it didn't gel with the Sundance press corps.  If it had debuted at Toronto?  Many of the same journalists and reviewers would have enjoyed it a bit more.  

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<p>&nbsp;Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni in &quot;Safety Not Guaranteed.&quot;</p>

 Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni in "Safety Not Guaranteed."

Review: Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson spotlight crowd-pleasing 'Safety Not Guaranteed'

HitFix
B+
Readers
A-
Another great role for Mark Duplass too

PARK CITY - It took long enough, but the 2012 Sundance Film Festival finally produced a big winner.  The feature debut of Colin Trevorrow, "Safety Not Guaranteed," premiered Sunday evening to a festival looking to embrace something (anything entertainingly good) and this new comedy absolutely fit the bill. 

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<p>&nbsp;Richard Gere and Brit Marling in &quot;Arbitrage&quot;</p>

 Richard Gere and Brit Marling in "Arbitrage"

Review: 'Arbitrage' an odd mix of Richard Gere, 'Law & Order' and indie sheen

HitFix
C+
Readers
n/a
Gere and Brit Marling can't save the thriller from a convoluted script

PARK CITY - Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of pictures that were questionable inclusions to Sundance's premieres slate.  A few them were actually good films ("The Company Men," "Smart People," "Cedar Rapids," ), but many were star-filled pseudo indies seemingly intended to satisfy sponsor attendees and the affluent contributors looking for a little bit of Hollywood during their Park City festival vacation ("The Great Buck Howard," "Brooklyn's Finest," "Motherhood," "The Butterfly Effect," "My Idiot Brother" and "The Son of No One" come to mind).  A good deal of these films would have been more appropriate at the more commercial Toronto Film Festival (and it's worth noting the opposite is true with pictures such as "My Sister's Sister" debuting at Toronto this past year).  Saturday night featured two of these broad, star-filled premieres: "Arbitrage" and "Lay the Favorite."  The former was clearly the better of the two, but it still another disappointment for an edition of the festival where that's become the operative word.

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