Jim Carrey and Rodrigo Santoro in "I Love You Phillip Morris"

Jim Carrey and Rodrigo Santoro in "I Love You Phillip Morris."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Watch: Jim Carrey is gay, gay, gay in new 'Phillip Morris' red band trailer

The Sundance flick is finally hitting theaters with a smart new campaign

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since "I Love You Phillip Morris" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.  While the Luc Besson produced dramedy opened to strong reviews across the globe, American moviegoers were the victim of one bad distribution squabble after another.  Now, with the on a roll Roadside Attractions behind it, "Phillip Morris" is finally hitting theaters this December and you'll finally be able to catch what could be the performance of Jim Carrey's career.

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<p>Thandie Newton in a poster for Tyler Perry's new movie &quot;For Colored Girls.&quot;</p>

Thandie Newton in a poster for Tyler Perry's new movie "For Colored Girls."

Credit: Lionsgate

Oscar Watch: Living portraits bring Tyler Perry's 'For Colored Girls' to life

Impressive interactive achievement for new Nov. drama

if there is any film that will no doubt divide critics and pundits over the next few weeks it's Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls." The long awaited movie adaptation of Ntozake Shange's classic play, the film features some outstanding performances, but faces a number of challenges at the box office and among numerous cinefiles ready to pounce on anything Mr. Perry tries to do on the big screen.  I'll be discussing that issue much closer to the film's Nov. 5 release, but in the meantime, Lionsgate has launched a slew of impressive interactive "Living Portraits" as part of an online initiative for the film.<

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Natalie Portman is a ballerina in the dramatic thriller "Black Swan"

Natalie Portman in Gotham Awards best picture nominee "Black Swan."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

'Black Swan' and 'The Kids Are All Right' dominate 2010 Gotham Awards nominees

'Let Me In' a surprise best picture contender

The 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards announced their nominees this year and the East Coast competitor to the Independent Spirit Awards continues to become more and more relevant to the Oscar race.  

Last year, eventual Academy Award winner "The Hurt Locker" won both best picture and best ensemble at the Gothams while best documentary champ "Food, Inc." made the cut in the Oscar doc race.  That was a big turnaround from the year before when the esoteric, but excellent "Synecdoche, New York" won best ensemble and "Frozen River" picture.  Today's nominees found major players such as "Black Swan," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Winter's Bone" all making their mark with Gotham.  Now, whether that insinuates the Gothams are becoming more consumer friendly or something more about awards season overall, remains to be seen.

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<p>Melissa Leo and Christian Bale in &quot;The Fighter.&quot;</p>

Melissa Leo and Christian Bale in "The Fighter."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Mad Men' delivers a dramatic new preview for Mark Wahlberg's 'The Fighter'

Christian Bale and Melissa Leo dominate a much more intriguing sneak peek

Talk about a 180 degree turnaround.  After initially releasing a teaser that did everything possible to position David O. Russell's "The Fighter" as the next uplifting sports drama, Paramount Pictures debuted a new preview during the season finale of "Mad Men" tonight that made the prestige buzz around the picture much, much clearer.

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<p>An image from the set of Steven Spielberg's &quot;War Horse.&quot;</p>

An image from the set of Steven Spielberg's "War Horse."

Oscar Watch: Academy Awards aren't moving earlier..in 2012 at least

Plus: Steven Spielberg's 'War Horse' gets a prime awards season release date

Ever since word got out that the Governor's board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was considering moving the date of the Oscars to earlier in the year debate has raged over the pros and cons of such a move.  Well, put that debate off, for at least a year. After last night's board meeting, AMPAS has decided not to make a radical change for the 2012 Academy Awards.  The Academy's official statement is as follows:

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<p>&quot;Born Sweet&quot; debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.</p>

"Born Sweet" debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Best Documentary Short narrowed to 8 contenders

Academy makes it a long wait for narrow field

The Academy Award nominations are over three months away, but eight filmmakers are going to have to hold it together until then.  The Academy announced eight finalists for the best documentary short category today of which three to five will land a coveted nomination.  The last time there were only three nominees was in 2003.  The following list was cutdown from an 30 original submissions after voting by the Academy's documentary branch.

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Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem in Mexico's foreign language film entry "Biutiful."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

65 films wage war for the Foreign Language Oscar

Who will win is anyone's guess

If there has been one Academy Awards category which has continued to beguile, frustrate and confuse even the powers that be in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it's the best foreign language film.  Every year 65 countries or so submit their choices to complete for the prestigious award.  And while controversy surrounding a nation or two's choice is as predictable as Adam Sandler having another summer hit, who will actually win the award has turned not something of a "pick 'em" scenario. 

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<p>Colin Firth walks the red carpet at the 82nd Academy Awards as a best actor nominee for &quot;A&nbsp;Single Man.&quot;&nbsp; Could he finally win at the 83rd?</p>

Colin Firth walks the red carpet at the 82nd Academy Awards as a best actor nominee for "A Single Man."  Could he finally win at the 83rd?

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Contender Countdown: Colin Firth may be Oscar's only sure thing

Best Supporting Actress appears very much up for grabs

One of the great things about participating in Movie City News's Gurus of Gold and The Envelope's Buzzmeter is it's usually a good indicator of who in the Oscar game has seen certain films and who hasn't.  The latest installment of the Gurus is out and for the first time it is very telling in that regard.  This week we'll review my updated picks for best picture include the main acting categories.  When you compare them to the Guru's picks it's easy to tell who has done their homework.  First up, however, this pundit's humble picks and then some thoughts on the votes of the 14 other Gurus.

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<p>President Barack Obama and the kids from &quot;Waiting for Superman,&quot;&nbsp;Francisco Regalado, from Bronx, NY., Bianca Hill, Harlem, NY, Daisy Esparza, East Los Angeles, Emily Jones, Silicon Valley Calif., and Anthony Black from Washington, DC.</p>

President Barack Obama and the kids from "Waiting for Superman," Francisco Regalado, from Bronx, NY., Bianca Hill, Harlem, NY, Daisy Esparza, East Los Angeles, Emily Jones, Silicon Valley Calif., and Anthony Black from Washington, DC.

Credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Obama meets the kids from 'Waiting for Superman'

Paramount goes the extra mile for Guggenhiem doc

Can we talk about the insanely impressive job the Paramount marketing team has done on "Waiting for Superman"?  Treating the Sundance Film Festival documentary more as a crusade than a movie, the studio has created a tremendous amount of dialogue over the complex issue of public and private education in America.  "Superman" has already made $1.4 million in no more than 103 theaters, but it's the p.r. they have generated which is the much bigger accomplishment at this point. 

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<p>Freddie Mercury performing in 1986.</p>

Freddie Mercury performing in 1986.

Credit: AP Photo

Queen won't be treated with kid gloves in Sacha Baron Cohen's Freddie Mercury biopic

'Hereafter' screenwriter Peter Morgan discusses Clint Eastwood and possibly returning to politics

There may be no screenwriter living who is more of an expert on British politics over the past 15 years than Peter Morgan. The two-time Oscar-nominated writer is best known for his Tony Blair trilogy of "The Deal," "The Queen" and "The Special Relationship," but he's also told the true stories that make up "Frost/Nixon," "The Damned United," "The Last King of Scotland," "Longford" and, to a lesser extent, "The Other Boleyn Girl."  Now, Morgan is in the middle of the biggest departures of his career.  First to screen is this month's Clint Eastwood directed supernatural drama "Hereafter" and, at the moment, Morgan is penning the script for a Freddie Mercury biopic that will star Sacha Baron Cohen.

To those who aren't aware of the legendary Queen front man, Mercury was one of the most charismatic and imposing stage performers of the the '70s and '80s.  As a songwriter he wrote some of the most popular rock anthems of the past 30 years including "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody."  Sadly, only a day after admitting he'd contracted HIV, Mercury died at the age of 45 from complications of AIDS.  It's not surprising such a dramatic and powerful story found its way to Sacha Baron Cohen who has a strong resemblance to the rock icon and is a pretty charismatic fellow in his own right.  According to Morgan, Cohen had been trying to persuade him to write a biopic on Mercury's life for over two years.  Discussing the project during an interview today, Morgan said he'd consistently said "no."

"I'd said to him, 'Look, it's a great idea and you're great casting for him, but I don't know the story.'  And it took me that long to find what I was doing with it," Morgan says.  

And while he won't comment on what that "in" was Morgan says he's currently deep in the writing process and "it's easier to talk about than 'Hereafter,' because that's what I am doing every day.  And I am really loving writing it."

Another reason this biopic is ready to go is because Mercury's former Queen band mates are finally allowing their parts of the story to be told onscreen.  In comparison, a major fault of another recent rock biopic,  last spring's "The Runways," was that a number of former members of that 70s band , including Lita Ford, expressively forbid their use outside of publicly stated record.  That ended up skewing the events in the drama. and leaving much of the "true" story untold.  At the moment, that's not an issue for Mercury's tale, but Morgan has made it clear Queen won't get a free ride for giving their O.K.

"It's very much authorized and with their cooperation, but I've told them, 'I won't be particularly kind.'  I'm only gonna do this if I have editorial independence," Morgan says.   "I don't want anyone to feel this is a movie that Queen has commissioned."

Morgan insinuated the Mercury biopic could be shot and ready for release within the next two years, but was just as emphatic to discuss "Hereafter."

An ensemble drama with three intersecting story lines, "Hereafter" more than anything is a contemplative look at the age old question of what happens to us when we die.  One portion of the film is centered on a man with the ability to connect to the "other side" (Matt Damon), but can't handle the burden of such a gift.  The second thread follows a French journalist (Cécile De France) who has a near death experience after almost drowning in a Tsunami in Southeast Asia.  When she returns home she becomes obsessed with investigating what happened to her much to the detriment of her career.  The final plot line is probably the most touching and deals with two twin boys in London who are the victims of a tragic accident.

There wasn't one event in Morgan's life that inspired "Hereafter," but at its core he says he wanted the film to provide comfort without giving emphatic proof the afterlife exists.  He notes, "I didn't want there to be a scoop.  'Guess what folks,  you can pay $10, we will tell you what happens.'  We're not in a position to do that."

That's not to say Morgan didn't research the issue, "the minute that I got onto the Internet you realize you're only a couple of clicks away from quite disturbing lunatics. So, I pulled back a bit and I read a couple of books."

One issue Morgan is keenly aware of are some movie fans expectations of a film that is being marketed with strong emphasis on the more "epic" moments in the picture.

"When it first became public there was a lot of talk about it being like 'The Sixth Sense' or it being a spiritual thriller.  And, I sort of thought, 'They are in for a shock," Morgan recalls.  "And when they told me Clint was interested, I was excited because I knew he wouldn't try to offer an explanation.  I didn't think in his work Mr. Eastwood was a particular religious man and I didn't think he'd want to make it a movie about a scoop."

Morgan also knew the wrong director could take the material in a completely different direction than he'd intended.

"It was really important to me the young boys really did come from quite difficult circumstances in London. So, I was very happy when I heard [Eastwood was on board] because like 'Mystic River' has real social reality and I thought, 'He will give the subject social reality' because it could easily feel too whimsical and never-neverland-ish."

With the recent coalition government seemingly making no one in any of the U.K.'s three parties happy, I ended by asking Morgan if he'd consider revisiting the intriguing world of British politics again.

"I'm always keeping my eyes open and if something comes up," Morgan admits. "I just have to be wary, I suppose, of following in my own footsteps too much.  I don't want to become repetitive and I'm very happy to take risks.  Even if taking those risks means you fail."

"Hereafter" opens nationwide on Oct. 22.

 

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