Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Hart, Emma Stone and 319 others invited to vote for Oscar

Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Hart, Emma Stone and 319 others invited to vote for Oscar

Progress is being made but women still sadly underrepresented

Strangely dropping a press release on a historic day where the nation's attention is elsewhere, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed their annual list of new member invitees this morning.  For those who criticize the makeup of the Academy there was some good news and the stark realization the organization still has a long way to go.

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No surprise: Academy isn't returning to just 5 Best Picture nominees

No surprise: Academy isn't returning to just 5 Best Picture nominees

Oscar has more important things to worry about like finding a new host

Remember all those people who were clamoring for the Academy to go back to the good ol’ days?  When there were just five Best Picture nominees?  Yeah, that’s not happening.*

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Review: 'Minions' delivers incredible sight gags, but little heart
B

Review: 'Minions' delivers incredible sight gags, but little heart

Who knew we'd miss Gru's kids so much?

Sequels are never easy, especially in animation.  Even with all the success Pixar has enjoyed with the “Toy Story” franchise there are few who felt the follow ups to “Cars” and “Monsters, Inc” lived up to even the conceptual charm of the originals.  DreamWorks Animation pulled off rare successes with “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” but let’s avoid diving into the unnecessary chapters of the “Madagascar” universe, shall we?  And as for 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky’s “Ice Age” series, those three sequels are almost the textbooks for fashioning strict consumer product just to sell tickets.  The pitfalls of making a spin-off without creative justification is what Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment hoped to avoid with their new “Despicable Me” prequel, “Minions,” and they mostly succeeded.

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It's June, but has 'Inside Out' already won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature?

It's June, but has 'Inside Out' already won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature?

And is a Best Picture nod next?

Apologies if this sounds forward, but the race for Best Animated Picture is over.  Pixar’s “Inside Out,” the company’s first original production since 2012’s “Brave,” arrives in theaters today with some of the most glowing reviews in the company’s history.  For anyone else in the animated Oscar race that’s very bad news.

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Mark Ruffalo on the balancing act of playing a bipolar dad in 'Infinitely Polar Bear'

Mark Ruffalo on the balancing act of playing a bipolar dad in 'Infinitely Polar Bear'

And is Bruce Banner in 'Captain America: Civil War' or not?

In this business you can easily watch up to 200 films in a single year. It's therefore no surprise that it's already hard for this pundit to remember all the films I caught at the Cannes Film Festival, which was less than one month ago. Of course, that doesn't mean some films don't stick with you. One film that made a lasting impression with me over the past 18 months was Maya Forbes' "Infinitely Polar Bear." The autobiographical drama debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and is finally making its way to theaters this week.

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Review: 'The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce' is LA's claim as the Mecca of basketball
B+

Review: 'The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce' is LA's claim as the Mecca of basketball

How the 2011 NBA lockout helped save a SoCal institution

For a city that is the home of a 16-time NBA champion, is one of just two markets to house a second NBA team and features a state university that has won 11 NCAA basketball championships, Los Angeles doesn't always get the respect it deserves as a hoops Mecca. You could throw out a starting five of current All-Stars including Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Paul George, Tyson Chandler and Kwai Leonard and the media and fans would still find themselves hyping New York or Chicago before sunny Southern California. The new documentary "The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce" isn't intended to rectify that misconception, but it provides a lot of historical fodder to support the argument that basketball's real hot spot is Los Angeles.

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Find out why 'The Secret Life of Pets' with Louis C.K. is next summer's smash hit

Find out why 'The Secret Life of Pets' with Louis C.K. is next summer's smash hit

Universal Pictures and Illumination are on a roll

Unless you've been living under a rock, it's hard not to recognize what an amazing year Universal Pictures is having. "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Furious 7," "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Jurassic World" have all performed beyond expectations with the latter knocking off "Marvel's The Avengers" for the biggest opening of all-time. What's even more remarkable is that the studio still has at least three more hits on the way this summer including Judd Apatow's "Trainwreck," Seth McFarlane's "Ted 2" and "Minions."  

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Mark Ruffalo says Robert Downey, Jr. says he's in 'Captain America: Civil War' so...

Mark Ruffalo says Robert Downey, Jr. says he's in 'Captain America: Civil War' so...

Bruce Banner is still waiting for his call sheet

Are you over your "Age of Ultron" hangover?  Well, get excited True Believers because filming is already well underway on Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War."  The sequel has becoming highly anticipated not just because its following up one of one of the studio's most critically acclaimed productions, "Captain America: Winter Soldier," but because it may end up being an unintentional mini-"Avengers" movie.  

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Thomas Mann knows it will be hard to play a teenager again after 'Me and Earl'

Thomas Mann knows it will be hard to play a teenager again after 'Me and Earl'

Sundance hit finally arrives in theaters this week

Thomas Mann is an actor on the cusp. Think of Miles Teller right before the release of “The Spectacular Now” or Michael B. Jordan before “Fruitvale Station.” Once “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” hits theaters over the course of the next month, the 23-year-old actor is going to find himself busier than ever.

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Review: Patience pays off for refreshing animated tale 'The Little Prince'
B+

Review: Patience pays off for refreshing animated tale 'The Little Prince'

'Kung Fu Panda' director delivers a flick that recalls 'The Iron Giant'

CANNES — In 2015, it's much easier to tell which company produced an animated movie as opposed to who directed it.  That’s a tad disheartening considering how much energy the studios behind these films exert trying to nudge their directors into the spotlight.

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