<p>Bill Condon discusses a scene from &quot;The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1&quot;&nbsp;with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.</p>

Bill Condon discusses a scene from "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Bill Condon reflects on how Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart surprised him in 'Breaking Dawn'

The Oscar winner on the massive special effects, reuniting with Carter Burwell and more

Few directors can say they've made films back to back for a beloved franchise.  It may be cost effective for most Hollywood studios, but it's a rarity.  This century we've had Peter Jackson's three "Lord of the Rings" films, the Wachowskis' "Matrix Reloaded" and "Matrix Revolutions" and, most recently, Gore Verbinski's second and third "Pirates of the Caribbean" blockbusters.  Jackson is currently at it again with two "Hobbit" features, but the latest filmmaker to join that exclusive club is none other than Academy Award winner Bill Condon.  The man behind acclaimed films such as "Kinsey," "Dreamgirls" and "Gods and Monsters" has jumped into the world of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2."  The first of the films hits theaters next month and, not surprisingly, pre-release polling shows the interest in the lives of Bella and Edward Cullen hasn't waned since "Eclipse" was released 16 months ago. 

I first met Bill just a few weeks after he returned from Sundance and the premiere of "Gods and Monsters" (that was way back in 1998 for those of you playing at home).  A lot has happened since then, but through a ton of success on the big screen and co-producing the best Oscar telecast over the last decade (no bias, it's the truth), nothing may have prepared him for jumping on the "Twilight" train.  With "Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" completed and only a few weeks away from opening, Bill was kind enough to jump on the phone this morning and chat about the ride so far.

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<p>Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in &quot;Like Crazy&quot;</p>

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Oscar Watch: 'Like Crazy' and 'Puss in Boots' weekend picks

What's worth seeing on the big screen?

With awards season kicking into really high gear next month, awards campaign will do its best to give you a rundown every Thursday of the contending movies opening over the weekend so you can make sure to keep up with the conversation.  This pundit will have seen almost every film hitting theaters (with a few rare exceptions, but you can guarantee if I haven't that someone at HitFix or our colleagues at In Contention will have (well, maybe).

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<p>The official U.S. poster for &quot;We Have To Talk About Kevin&quot; starring Tilda Swinton.</p>

The official U.S. poster for "We Have To Talk About Kevin" starring Tilda Swinton.

Credit: Oscillscope Films

Exclusive: Tilda Swinton watches over her son in 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' poster

Thriller aims to put former Oscar winner in the best actress race

One of this pundit's biggest disappointments last awards season was how little traction Tilda Swinton received for her stunning turn in "I Am Love."  That was partially due to the film's release date, the former Academy Award winner's unavailability to campaign for the picture in Nov. or Dec. and a limited push by U.S. distributor Magnolia Pictures.  A year later, Swinton has another acclaimed performance ready for Oscar consideration in Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin." 

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<p>Puss (Antonio Banderas) and Kitty Softpaws (Selma Hayek)&nbsp;in Chris Miller's &quot;Puss in Boots.&quot;</p>

Puss (Antonio Banderas) and Kitty Softpaws (Selma Hayek) in Chris Miller's "Puss in Boots."

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

Chris Miller directs a cat lover's dream in 'Puss in Boots'

Secrets behind DreamWorks Animation's latest tentpole

I have a confession to make.  I genuinely think "Puss in Boots" is entertaining, funny and a significantly more original movie (even surreal) than what you'd expect for a "Shrek" spin-off.  However, my judgement may be a tad clouded.  As my friends have consistently remarked, I'm a male 'cat lady' in the making with two kittens under my wing (Phoenix and Sookie).  Granted, you can only blame my parents for raising me amongst them.  In fact, there is photographic evidence of our two cats (Charkey and Nutmeg) literally sleeping my crib when I was a newborn "protecting me" and no doubt cementing this lifelong feline bond (note to young parents: this is a big no, no).  But, I digress…

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<p>Angelina Jolie directs a scene of &quot;In the Land of Blood and Honey.&quot;</p>

Angelina Jolie directs a scene of "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

Credit: FilmDistrict

Watch: Angelina Jolie tackles the Bosnian War in her directorial debut 'In The Land of Blood and Honey'

This is serious stuff

No one should be surprised that when Angelina Jolie took the time out of her busy schedule to direct her first feature it wasn't going to be something frivolous. The film would have to speak to her passions and her world view.  Enter "In The Land of Honey," an original drama set during the height of the Bosnian War in the 1990's where a Serb (Goran Kostic) and a Bosnian (Zara Marjanovic) try to co-exist in a detainment camp after having a previous romantic relationship before the conflict.  In a new trailer released today, it appears the trust between the couple begins to waver as the war goes on.

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<p>Matt Damon and Ben Affleck together in 2008.</p>

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck together in 2008.

Credit: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon reuniting on Whitey Bulger Mobster flick

Terrence Winter will write the screenplay

They have been producing and screenwriting partners, but it's been quite awhile since Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appeared on screen together.  The two buddies first set the industry on fire when "Good Will Hunting" debuted in 1997 and ended up with an original screenplay Academy Award in the process (of course, their lack of writing in the years since has only fueled rumors they had a lot of help on the script, but that's another story).  While the media often had the two Boston natives joined at the hip, the only other films they have starred in together in is Kevin Smith's "Dogma" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."  Meanwhile, Damon has had a very steady and successful career thanks to the "Ocean Eleven" and "Bourne" films, but Affleck suffered through a good decade of up and downs.  Now that Affleck has made a name for himself as a successful director with "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," both gents have publicly stated they expect to work together again soon.  That time appears to be now.

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<p>Eddie Murphy</p>

Eddie Murphy

Credit: Comedy Central

Eddie Murphy jokes he won't leave the Oscars early this time

'Tower Heist' talks publicly about Academy Awards hosting gig for the first time

NEW YORK - Brett Ratner has seemingly done the impossible this awards season. With one move, convincing his "Tower Heist" star Eddie Murphy to host the Oscars, he's made the industry and public generally intrigued about watching this year's Academy Awards. And after last year's disastrous production that's no easy feat.  The news also excited many old school Murphy fans waiting for yet another comeback from the iconic comedian.  Whether that occurs with "Tower Heist" remains to be seen, but during a press conference for the comedy thriller in New York today, Murphy's hosting duties became an obvious subject for discussion.

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<p>&quot;The Descendants&quot;&nbsp;landed key Gotham Awards nominations including nods for Best Feature, Best Ensemble and Breakthrough Actor (Shailene Woodley).</p>

"The Descendants" landed key Gotham Awards nominations including nods for Best Feature, Best Ensemble and Breakthrough Actor (Shailene Woodley).

Credit: Fox Searchlight

2011 Gotham Awards nominations give 'The Descendants' a strong award season kickoff

Who are the frontrunners to take home the season's first kudos?

The 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced this morning and the results must have made the folks at Fox Searchlight very, very happy.  The mini-major landed eight nominations including key best feature nominations for "The Descendants" and "The Tree of Life."  Focus also has to be thrilled with "Beginners" strong showing in the feature and ensemble categories.  "Take Shelter" shows some life by also landing feature and ensemble kudos.  

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Watch: Christian Bale goes to war in eye-catching 'Flowers of War' trailer

Watch: Christian Bale goes to war in eye-catching 'Flowers of War' trailer

WWII drama from director Zhang Yimou is China's entry into foreign language Oscar race

While 20 minutes of Christian Bale in "The Flowers of War" were shown to potential buyers last month at the Toronto film fest, we're now getting our first trailer for the epic film from Chinese director/award-magnet Zhang Yimou.

Although there hasn't been talk of anyone launching a best actor campaign for Bale (The film doesn't have a U.S. distributor yet), don't automatically count the Oscar winner ("The Fighter") out of the race.

"Flowers" also stars Sigeo Kobayashi and the always reliable Paul Schneider ("All the Real Girls," "The Assassination of Jesse James").

But the real star is the gorgeous look of the historical drama (shot by Zhang's regular DP Zhao Xiaoding), based on a true story about a Western priest (Bale) struggling to help save a group of students and prostitutes during the brutal Japanese occupation of Nanking in 1937. There looks to be plenty of drama, action, sensuality and politics on hand. At roughly $90 million, "Flowers" (formerly known as "Heroes of Nanking") is China's most expensive film ever.

Although the dialogue is in Mandarin, Japanese and English, "Flowers" is China's entry in this year's foreign language Oscar race, and will likely do well there, as Zhang has had several films nominated in the category.

After a number of high-profile martial arts films ("Hero," "House of Flying Daggers," "Curse of the Golden Flower" and last year's less well-received "A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop"), the Academy could very well eat up Zhang's return to the 20th Century historical drama that served him so well in "To Live" and "Raise the Red Lantern." Having Bale in the lead won't hurt either.

Watch the new international trailer here:

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<p>Sarah Paulson and Elizabeth Olsen discuss &quot;Martha, Marcy, Mae, Marlene.&quot;</p>

Sarah Paulson and Elizabeth Olsen discuss "Martha, Marcy, Mae, Marlene."

Elizabeth Olsen reveals 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' almost had a 'First Wives Club' moment

Olsen and Sarah Paulsen discuss their onscreen sisterly relationship

The more you learn about Elizabeth Olsen's performance in Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" the more remarkable it becomes. Whether talking to Durkin, her co-stars John Hawkes or Sarah Paulson or even Olsen herself, you have to wonder how quickly the 22-year-old will be battling Jennifer Lawrence or Kristen Stewart for the title of bet actress of her generation.  But first, let's focus on "Martha."

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