Nominees for the 24th annual PGA Awards have been announced. Expected money-makers such as "Argo" and "Lincoln" which have been mainstays in the season joined blockbuster fare such as "Skyfall" (Sony's first billion-dollar grosser to date and an over-performer overall) as well as indies such as "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Moonrise Kingdom."
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One of the most surprising things about the evidently heated battle to see who is going to end up starring in Marvel's upcoming "Guardians Of The Galaxy" film is that there is a heated battle to see who is going to star in "Guardians Of The Galaxy."
James Gunn is directing the film, which is perhaps the riskiest of all the Marvel movies coming in the near future. At this point, I trust Marvel's development process, and I suspect this will fit neatly into the cinematic universe they've been building since 2008. When they were getting ready to launch "Iron Man," I remember seeing many outlets write about how it was unlikely Marvel was going to be able to sell a second-tier lesser-known hero like Iron Man to the general public, and I heard the same hesitations before the release of "Thor." Didn't really seem to pan out that way, though, and at this point, I think Marvel's name is enough of a stamp of quality for movie audiences that they can launch pretty much anything.
While the rest of us were ringing in the New Year and taking down the tree, some artists were hard at work.
Britney Spears took to Twitter to tell fans that she was “really focused on my music right now.” Whether that’s a veiled reference to all the rumors that swirled over the holidays that she has been kicked off of “X Factor,” we don’t know, but it’s good news for Spears fans regardless.
In her chat, she also reveals that she’s “collaborating with some new inspiring producers,” without naming names, and that she’s “excited” about the new stuff.
Spears last album was 2011’s “Femme Fatale,” though she and will.i.am more recently dropped the tune, “Scream And Shout,” late last year. It debuted at No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100.
In December, Elijah Blake, who’s written for Usher and Rihanna, revealed that he’s working with Spears on a new album. “I think her fans will be surprised by it,” he told thatgrapejuice.net. “I would say it’s definitely the ‘unexpected’ Britney in so many ways, in that she’s playing with new textures and stomping on new grounds and genres.” He added that “she’s definitely trying to push the envelope this time and really talk from a more personal point of view.”
As we reported in October, it looks like Spears may be working with “Blackout” collaborator/producer Nate “Danja” Hills.
Spears wasn’t the only one working on a new set over the holidays. The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines tweeted that she had finished her first solo album, “Mother,” which will come out May 7. The first single is the title track, a cover of the Pink Floyd song.
Producer Ben Harper produced the rock album, according to a number of outlets. She and Harper have performed the song together live on selected Harper tour dates this past year.
The song also appears on “West Of Memphis: Voices of Justice,” a compilation album also featuring Lucinda Williams, Marilyn Manson, Band Of Horses, Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan and others. The album is the companion to “West of Memphis,” a documentary about the West Memphis Three, three young men convicted for the murder of three 8-year old boys. Their conviction was overturned in 2011 after a number of artists, including Maines, had worked hard for their release.
The album will be Maines’ first release since the 2006 Dixie Chicks’ album, “Taking The Long Way.” While there are no plans for Dixie Chicks to record together any time soon (if ever again), they will reunite for a show on July 13at the Craven Country Jamboree in Canada. The Chicks are filling in for Lady Antebellum, who canceled the date due to Hillary Scott’s pregnancy.
UPDATE: Spears is also working with will.i.am and Hit-Boy, who has become very sought after following his collaborations with Kanye West and Jay-Z on "Ni***s in Paris" and Kendrick Lamar's "Backseat Freestyle," according to Entertainment Weekly. A rep told EW that Spears has not worked with Blake, as we wrote above.
The sights and sounds of Dave Grohl's directorial debut "Sound City" feature Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, members of Rage Against the Machine and more. Maybe some of those guys will end up in Dave Grohl's next performing project.
Grohl is introducing the Sound City Players at Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival this month, the event at which doc "Sound City" is getting its bow. The group will debut on Jan. 18 at Park City Live, though its members besides Grohl are under wraps.
"Sound City" chronicles the California studio of the same name, with interviews from some very famous rock bands; as previously reported, Grohl is also releasing a soundtrack/inspired-by album "Sound City: Real to Reel" in conjunction. The 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief was highlighted with a song from that compilation, "Cut Me Some Slack," with Paul McCartney performing with the surviving members of Nirvana (Grohl, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic).
"Sound City," the film, heads to digital shelves on Feb. 1, while the soundtrack will hit on March 12. Grohl told Rolling Stone in an interview that he'd like screenings of the documentary to be amplified by a concert afterward, so the Sound City Players may make their Sundance stint into more than one stop.
Who would you like to see perform with Grohl at Sundance? I'm crossing my fingers for something icy with Reznor and melodic with Lindsey Buckingham.
In the ranks of major filmmakers never to have received so much as an Oscar nomination, David Cronenberg sits pretty high on the list. Though it has its critical champions, his 2012 effort "Cosmopolis" certainly isn't going to change that -- though in a Movieline interview marking the film's DVD release, the veteran Canadian auteur says it doesn't concern him one bit: "It's not sour grapes... The people who are releasing the movie get excited, they want you to do more, and you understand it because the awards can maybe get more people to see the film. This, on its face, is a good thing. However, it is all bullshit, it is all annoying and it is all very problematical. But it gives people stuff to write about, gives structure, we understand. But I won't be watching any of the awards shows." [Movieline]
A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as my butcher looks at me like I have leprosy...
NEW YORK - How on earth did it take this long for Jessica Chastain to come to Hollywood's attention? She's spending the day talking about her role as Maya, a hard edged CIA analyst on the difficult hunt for Osama Bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" and her genuine charisma is beyond infectious. She practically glows when talking about the project. Of course, the truth is it didn't take Hollywood that long. Chastain booked her first major movie role over three years ago and shot six other movies before "The Tree of Life" finally brought her to moviegoers attention in May, 2011. Three months later "The Help" hit theaters and she went from relative unknown to finding herself recognized on the street.
"Argo" won top honors with the Phoenix Film Critics Society, which announced nominees two weeks ago. Kathryn Bigelow took the Best Director prize for "Zero Dark Thirty," however. Daniel Day-Lewis and Jessica Chastain took top acting honors, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anne Hathaway filling out the supporting ranks. Check out the full list of winners below and as always, keep track of it all at The Circuit.
Yes, it's true. I somehow managed to wrangle Scott Swan over to the house one last time for a final 2012 podcast.
This has been a terrible year for the podcast, frankly, and Scott and I are both aware of it. I am tired of being a guy who is full of good intentions but who is also unable to follow through with those intentions. It does me no good to want to publish something unless I actually prepare and publish that thing. As the HitFix audience continues to grow, something that we here at the site are all intensely proud of, I've got to master my ability to juggle tasks. There are times I'm good at it, and times I fail completely, and I am genuinely torn up about that.
In particular, I feel a sense of obligation to sort things out regarding the podcast. The feedback Scott and I have gotten over the years from you guys has been incredibly kind and it feels like there's a community of you out there who have listened to them all and who have encouraged us constantly, and because of that, Scott and I are working out a way to maintain a regular schedule. He keeps crazy hours these days, as do I, and we're both also dealing with the demands of family… and none of that matters, ultimately, to an audience who wants content at a reliable time each week.
If you closely associate American classic "The Great Gatsby" with the term "dope," then you may have reason to get excited about the score Baz Lurmann's forthcoming film. In what appears to be a confirmation of a rumor that began swirling this fall, Jay-Z is on board to score the new adaptation, along with producer/songwriter The Bullitts.
"Jay-Z and myself have been working tirelessly on the score for the upcoming #CLASSIC The Great Gatsby! It is too DOPE for words!" said Jeymes Samuel, aka The Bullitts on Twitter.
Jay-Z has yet officially corroborate, though you can hear his voice all over the trailer to "Gatsby": his and Kanye West's Watch The Throne tune "No Church in the Wild" features in the clip.
But wait a minute: who is The Bullitts?
In an announcement that will surprise no one, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has extended the nomination voting deadline from Thursday, Jan. 3 to Friday, Jan. 4.
AMPAS COO Ric Robertson noted in a release, “By extending the voting deadline we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible. We’re grateful to our global membership for joining us in this process.”
When asked this season what film I think will win Best Picture, I've said "Les Misérables" since about September. Obviously for a stretch that was sight-unseen. Then the film, and others, came along. And I stuck with it. Largely I had to defend the call against those who couldn't see a film that is perceived as "divisive" (and boy are the detractors LOUD) winning the top prize, and they had a fair enough point.
The only thing is, I see passion for the film and the nay-sayers are a bit marginalized. Critics and industry people view this film differently. And those who love the film LOVE it. You can't ignore that kind of embrace. Few films this year really have it. And it's particularly important in a season that seems more up-for-grabs than any in recent history.
But as more and more members have finally caught up with the majority of the season's offerings in the past few weeks, I've made sure I paid attention to one thing in particular in my conversations: consensus. Consensus and general agreement wins you Oscars. But many films have inherent marks against them. There are really only two films, though, that tend to be enjoyed, adored, respected and liked all the way across the board, and one of them has taken shape as the potential taker of the cake. That film is "Argo."