<p>Meryl Streep is &quot;The Iron Lady.&quot;&nbsp; Watch out potential best actress contenders because this lady carries one big stick.</p>

Meryl Streep is "The Iron Lady."  Watch out potential best actress contenders because this lady carries one big stick.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Meryl Streep's 'Iron Lady' becomes a prime Oscar 2012 contender

Can the living legend finally win her third best actress statue?

If there was ever a movie in production that screamed Oscar bait over the past year or so it's Phyllida Lloyd's "The Iron Lady."  The true story of Margaret Thatcher's early years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the drama features legendary actress Meryl Streep as Thatcher and Academy Award winner and prestige picture vet Jim Broadbent as her husband in the title roles.

Independently financed and produced by Pathe UK, "Iron Lady" kept its goods close to the vest before showing five minutes of the picture at the Cannes Film Market yesterday to entice U.S. bidders.  Summit, Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company reportedly had the most interest, but Weinstein teamed up with billionaire Ron Burkle to seal the deal for approximately $7 million.  The two parties previously partnered on acquiring "The Details" with Tobey Maguire and "Our Idiot Brother" during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

In a statement released by The Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein remarked “Having worked with both Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent, I know that they are without peer as film actors.  Even so, I was absolutely blown away by what I saw of their performances as Margaret and Denis Thatcher. Phyllida is doing an incredible job.”

Ivernel and Cameron McCracken, MD Pathé UK, who produced the picture, added, “We are excited to be in business again with Harvey and his team - 'The Iron Lady' has found a worthy home in TWC and a great champion for the US market.”

Expect "The Iron Lady" to hit the top of prospective best picture and best actress lists once awards season ramps up in August (And yes, it's only two months away).  To say it would be shocking if Streep isn't nominated is an understatement and the picture, based on its pedigree, is a clear player for a best picture nomination.  On the other hand, I wouldn't lay any money down in Vegas that "Lady" will actually win best picture.  That's a bigger reach.  For The Weinstein Company, "Lady" will be able to run the awards season game to positive theatrical returns based on Streep's presence and the subject matter alone.  Looking at Streep's box office history, "Doubt's" $33 million U.S. gross would have to be a minimum benchmark with the similarly themed "The Queen's" $56 million take a good bet. 

Back to Streep's quest for a third Oscar win, if she delivers another impressive turn in "Lady" 2012 will again find her facing a slew of young and impressive ingenues.  Elizabeth Olsen in " Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Like Crazy's" Felicity Jones are just two of the youngsters out there in contention (and if the buzz is to believed, Tilda Swinton might find another nomination for the Cannes drama "We Need To Talk About Kevin").  Few studios have been willing to play the "it's time" card for Streep to not leave the Kodak Theater a loser once more.  As Streep finally admitted in 2009, attending the show 12 times since 1983 and losing each time has started to wear a bit on her.  She might already be a two-time winner, but in the history of the Academy Awards no actor or actress has ever been teased so cruelty  by his or her peers (intended or not).

Will 2012 break the streak? We'll find out sooner than you think.  "The Iron Lady" should hit theaters sometime this December.

For everyday entertainment commentary and more follow Gregory Ellwood on twitter @HitFixGregory.

Read Full Post
<p>Will Ferrell talks about his new drama &quot;Everything Must Go&quot; and watching Steve Carell say goodbye on &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Will Ferrell talks about his new drama "Everything Must Go" and watching Steve Carell say goodbye on "The Office."

Will Ferrell talks 'Everything Must Go' and Steve Carell's 'Office' goodbye

An indepth conversation on a rare dramatic role

Most of his fans wouldn't realize it, but Will Ferrell is an actor who takes chances.  The "SNL" vet has cultivated a strong career in solid studio comedies such as "The Other Guys," "Step Brothers," "Blades of Glory" and "Old School," but he hasn't been afraid to put himself on the line in unconventional roles.  Ferrell has appeared in dramatic films such as the underrated "Stranger Than Fiction," Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda," the indie "Winter's Passing" and he's even sung and dance in the movie musical version of "The Producers."  The 44-year-old even won over theater critics who questioned the timing of "You're Welcome America" on Broadway and put his face on a fledgling web investment you may have heard of called Funny or Die.  This week, Ferrell's latest dramatic departure opens in limited release with Dan Rush's "Everything Must Go."

Read Full Post
<p>George Clooney in a short clip on the teaser site for Alexander Payne's &quot;The Descendants&quot;</p>

George Clooney in a short clip on the teaser site for Alexander Payne's "The Descendants"

George Clooney and Alexander Payne tease 'The Descendants'

Who is he?

It's extremely rare for anyone to get too excited about a movie teaser site these days, but when it features the first look at the long awaited return of a critically acclaimed filmmaker people take notice.

This morning Fox Searchlight launched a site for Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" which features a short clip of star George Clooney running around a Hawaii neighborhood only to stop and ask two other actors "Who is he?"  You can watch the clip at the appropriately titled who-ishe.org site here.

Read Full Post
<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman is confirmed for Paul Thomas Anderson's new untitled drama.</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman is confirmed for Paul Thomas Anderson's new untitled drama.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Oscar Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson and Weinstein Company take on Scientology?

Plus: Steve Carell and Keira Knightley's latest finds Focus

Paul Thomas Anderson latest project may be his most political and The Weinstein Company has come aboard full steam to support the Oscar-nominated filmmaker.  Anderson's sixth film, once titled "The Master," but now officially called "The Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project," will be distributed by Weinstein worldwide sometime in 2013.  

As first reported by Deadline, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix are locked for the picture's leads and a search is on for actresses to portray the film's female roles.  The big question  is how close the film's final screenplay will be to the origins of Scientology.  All that is currently known is that it centers on Hoffman's character returning from the horrors of WW II and struggling to find himself.  In the process, he creates a "belief system" that quickly finds other followers.  Anderson's long in the works script has been rumored as a critical take of the controversial religion, but it's unclear if he's broadened the spotlight to organized religion in general or limiting his focus to L. Ron Hubbard's creation.

More importantly, the new film is Anderson's first film since the critically acclaimed "There Will Be Blood" in 2007.  Despite his stellar reputation with film critics and cinefiles, Anderson has never won an Academy Award (although he has five nominations to his credit).  It may surprise many to realize his biggest honor to date was winning best director for "Punch-Drunk Love" at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.  Teaming Anderson with Harvey Weinstein, who is coming off a major Oscar comeback with "The King's Speech," should be a powerful pairing for the 2012-2013 awards season.  Assuming the film's any good of course…

In other year-round Oscar bait news…

Read Full Post
<p>Tom Hiddleston in Kenneth Branagh's &quot;Thor.&quot;</p>

Tom Hiddleston in Kenneth Branagh's "Thor."

Credit: Marvel Studios

'Thor' in 2D makes a solid creative argument against the 3D boom

Will Hollywood take notice?

After first seeing Kenneth Brangh's "Thor" two weeks ago I was frustrated and exasperated.  It wasn't because I thought the movie was bad, the problem was I honestly couldn't judge what I'd just spent almost two hours watching. 

Paramount Pictures had smartly screened "Thor" for the media in the gorgeous Paramount Theater on their Melrose Ave. lot, but in the "intended" 3D environment (or at least how they home most moviegoers will see it) with no option of seeing it in 2D.  The Paramount Theater is rarely available for public use, but it has been one of the finest and most comfortable screens in Los Angeles since it was built in the mid-90s.  Having worked for the studio at one time, I've had the luck to first see "Titanic," "Sleepy Hollow," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and more recently as a journalist "Flags of our Fathers," "Star Trek," "Iron Man," "Transformers" and "Shutter Island," among others, on this great, giant screen (and yes, I've seen some god awful films there too). 

Read Full Post
<p>John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in a terrifying scene from &quot;Martha Marcy May Marlene.&quot;</p>

John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in a terrifying scene from "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Watch: Elizabeth Olsen's breakout turn in new 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' trailer

Are we looking at one of 2012's best actress nominees?

One of the most impressive performances at this year's Sundance Film Festival (and there were many) came from Elizabeth Olsen in the new drama "Martha Marcy May Marlene."  The psychological drama won director Sean Durkin a prize from the festival's dramatic jury, but Olsen ended up falling behind "Like Crazy's" Felicity Jones in the acting category.  If there is any justice, both will be nominated for best actress eight months from now.  

Read Full Post
<p>Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson in the hilarious &quot;The Guard&quot;&nbsp;which first debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, but will play LA&nbsp;Film Fest in June.</p>

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson in the hilarious "The Guard" which first debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, but will play LA Film Fest in June.

Credit: Sony Classics

LA Film Fest supplies an early award season look at 'Another Earth,' 'The Guard' and 'Project Nim'

What blockbuster films will be added to the fest later on?

Prestige films will return to the spotlight at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, but back on this side of the Atlantic, numerous potential end of year players are already starting to make some noise before their domestic releases.  From Mike Mills' "Beginners" to Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," there are numerous critic's favorites heading toward theaters that have debuted elsewhere.  An annual showcase for these films is the Los Angeles Film Festival which is returning downtown for the second year in a row next month.

Read Full Post
<p>Jason Schwartzman and Wes Anderson in 2007.&nbsp; The longtime collaborators will reunite once more in &quot;Moonrise Kingdom.&quot;</p>

Jason Schwartzman and Wes Anderson in 2007.  The longtime collaborators will reunite once more in "Moonrise Kingdom."

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Oscar Watch: Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' finds its Focus

Plus: Which prestigious film school received zero Student Academy Award nominations this year?

Considering the critical acclaim and cult following among cinefiles Wes Anderson has received over the past 13 years, it's surprising how little love Oscar has thrown his way.  Anderson only has two nominations to his credit so far: the first for co-writing "The Royal Tenenbaums" with Owen Wilson and, second, as director of best animated feature nominee "The Fantastic Mr. Fox."  You could argue that Anderson likely doesn't play the awards season game, but his producers and actors certainly have.  Now, after releasing his last two films through Fox Searchlight (a mini-major that knows something about Oscar), Anderson is taking his new live action project, "Moonrise Kingdom," to Focus Features (another mini-major that knows something about Oscar).

Read Full Post
<p>Romeo of 'Dancing with the Stars'</p>

Romeo of 'Dancing with the Stars'

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Performances - The Top 6

With expert coaching, some celebs bring their A game – and some flop
We’re down to the final six, and as Tom Bergeron helpfully points out, one bad dance could get any one of our dancing stars kicked out of the competition. Or not really, since this is a popularity contest and talent is almost beside the point. Come on, it’s the only thing that explains Kendra coming back week after week. The judges might as well go for a sandwich during her performances. On the bright side, Kendra can take some comfort in knowing that, even after giving up the Playboy lifestyle, those implants are still paying off.
 
[Full recap of Monday's (May 2) "Dancing with the Stars" after the break...]
Read Full Post
<p>The good old days when random TV&nbsp;broadcast reporters announced the Golden Globes.</p>

The good old days when random TV broadcast reporters announced the Golden Globes.

Golden Globes have a 2012 date but will they air on NBC?

Anybody excited about a press conference again?

After taking a deep sign of relief that the Academy has decided to keep the Oscars in February next year as opposed to crashing their traditional January date, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced key dates for the 69th Golden Globe Awards. 

Truthfully, there are only three dates that really matter for the Globes:

Read Full Post