Latest Blog Posts

<p>Mayor Kane (Kelsey Grammer)&nbsp;in the &quot;Boss&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Mayor Kane (Kelsey Grammer) in the "Boss" season finale.

Credit: Lions Gate

'Boss' - 'Choose': Election day

Dirty politics abound as Mayor Kane tries to outmaneuver his rivals

A quick review of the "Boss" season finale coming up just as soon as I inhale a bottle of computer duster...

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<p>An effects-heavy scene from &quot;The Tree of Life.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

An effects-heavy scene from "The Tree of Life." 

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Academy narrows visual effects race to 15 films

'Tree of Life,' 'Hugo' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' in the running

Since I took over the Visual Effects category in our Contenders section, I've been maintaining that there isn't much to say about that particular race until the Academy begins narrowing the field a little -- and after the first cut today, leaving a longlist of 15 films, there's still little to add to the conversation. All the nominees everyone has been predicting all along are present and correct: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Hugo," "Harry Potter of the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" and so on.

Of the Top 15 titles we had listed in the Contenders section, 12 made the cut: there was no love for the CGI period recreations of "Anonymous" or (and this was always a risky guess) the motion-capture acrobatics of "The Adventures of Tintin." Most disappointing to me is that the breathtakingly stylized digital imagery of "Immortals" got no love -- it struck me as more artistically ambitious FX work than, say, "Thor," but I freely admit to being a luddite in these matters. Perhaps what it lacked was a colon on the title: six of the 15 films that did make the grade boast one.

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<p>Jeff (Scott Krinsky)&nbsp;and Morgan (Joshua Gomez)&nbsp;welcome Danny Pudi to the Buy More team. </p>

Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) welcome Danny Pudi to the Buy More team.

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Hack-Off': Jeff and Abed in the Buy More!

Verbanski joins the team while Casey tries to survive in prison

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as we wrap up the Phish concert...

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<p>Tilda Swinton in a portrait taken at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Tilda Swinton in a portrait taken at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: AP Photo/Carlo Allegri

An epic conversation with Tilda Swinton

The struggles of getting 'Kevin' made and how independent cinema has changed in 20 years

Tilda Swinton has earned a reputation as an iconoclast. A rebel.  A visionary. An artist.  So, it was somewhat jarring to meet Swinton on the rooftop deck of the ritzy Montage Hotel smack dab in the middle of gaudy, downtown Beverly Hills.  The best supporting Oscar winner for "Michael Clayton" wasn't staying there, mind you.  She was spending the afternoon going from one locale to another doing interviews.  In fact, Swinton was in the middle of an intense few days of press opportunities to promote a film she helped bring to the screen and stars in, "We Need To Talk About Kevin."

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<p>Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.)&nbsp;and Simza (Noomi Rapace) cut a rug in 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'</p>

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Simza (Noomi Rapace) cut a rug in 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Robert Downey Jr. benefits from Moriarty as bad guy in Ritchie's 'Sherlock' sequel

Jared Harris cuts a dashing figure as the Napoleon of Crime

One of my favorite books this year was a piece of fiction written by UK film critic Kim Newman, a collection of stories called "Moriarty - Hound Of The D'Urbervilles".  It is a series of tales narrated by Col. "Basher" Moran, second-in-command to the insidious Professor Moriarty.  The stories boast about successful wrongdoing and brag about various schemes gone right, and in all of them, Moriarty is presented as a barely-human monster with a bland face.  It is a wonderful way to revisit the world of Sherlock Holmes from a new perspective, and it is pretty much pure fun.

One thing that is clear when you look at the entire body of work that exists out there about Sherlock Holmes and the various characters he's collided with over the years is that he remains one of the most elastic, archetypical pulp characters ever created.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle probably didn't even fully understand the allure of the character, which is true most of the time when someone has that moment of pure inspiration.  In the stories he wrote, Doyle was careful to drop plenty of bread crumbs that other writers and readers have picked up over the years, clues to ways you could reinterpret or reimagine or even just reexamine the characters.  If you don't like one interpretation, there's always another just around the corner, and there's probably some version out there that will exactly scratch whatever itch you have concerning the ongoing adventures of the world's crankiest genius and his stalwart if unspectacular companion.

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<p>The &quot;Transformers&quot;&nbsp;franchise is once more in the running for a VFX&nbsp;Oscar nomination.</p>

The "Transformers" franchise is once more in the running for a VFX Oscar nomination.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Thor,' 'X-Men,' 'Transformers' and 'Tree of Life' among 15 official Oscar Visual Effects contenders

If it was a summer blockbuster it's on the list

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the top 15 films in contention for the 2012 Visual Effects Oscar today and there were hardly any surprises. 

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<p>At the premiere of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows,' Guy Ritchie and his lovely girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley were evidently mugged by a poster of Robert Downey Jr.</p>

At the premiere of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows,' Guy Ritchie and his lovely girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley were evidently mugged by a poster of Robert Downey Jr.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Guy Ritchie goes from 'Sherlock' to 'UNCLE' for Warner Bros

Ritchie and his 'Holmes' producer Lionel Wigram kick off their new partnership

Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram make sense as a creative partnership.

When I spent time in London for the first "Sherlock Holmes," I had the opportunity to take a long walk with Wigram over to the cathedral they were using for the opening of the movie, and as we walked, we talked about Holmes, Doyle, London, its history, and more.  He was also one of the people who was involved deeply in the "Harry Potter" series, and so you could say he's trusted by Warner Bros in a very big way.

Although it's only been recently that "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." has been in the news in a regular way, Warner's been working to figure out a way to bring this one back to life for a long time now.  Back in '99, they were reaching out to George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and others, and they never really figured out how to do it.  It seems like Clooney must have been a fan of the original series just based on how many times he's circled back around to the property over the years.  I'm sorry his back is forcing him to curtail the more physical roles because I think he'd be pretty great in a big Bond-like spy movie.

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<p>Woody&nbsp;Harrelson in &quot;Rampart&quot;</p>

Woody Harrelson in "Rampart"

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Interview: Woody Harrelson talks Hitler jokes, eating raw, politics... oh, and 'Rampart'

He also can't believe he gets to make Christopher Walken laugh

At an abandoned Pasadena hospital, Woody Harrelson patiently waits for a shot to be set up as he plays with the gold jewelry on his fingers. He's decked out like a slick street hustler, a scorpion tattoo on his neck. Across the way, Christopher Walken is primped by makeup artists, a faux bloody wound on his head tended to.

"I can't believe I'm doing a scene with Christopher Walken," Harrelson says. "I love him. You never really know where you stand with him, you know? You'll be talking and you won't know. And then he'll crack a big smile suddenly."

"That's kind of like you," I tell him. He cracks a big smile suddenly.

The scene is set and Harrelson takes a seat opposite Walken. It's Walken's close-up. Harrelson is wrapping up his day off screen, giving Walken something to work with as they perform a hilarious scene regarding a cravat. (The film is Martin McDonagh's dark comedy "Seven Psychopaths.") This take, McDonagh wants Harrelson to make Walken laugh. The camera rolls. "It looks like your neck threw up, man," Harrelson says. Walken laughs.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 73 -- Our top 10 films of 2011!

Oscar Talk: Ep. 73 -- Our top 10 films of 2011!

Where will your favorites rank?

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

Here at the end of December's first week, all 2011 films have officially screened for press. And yet, we can't discuss the last two to drop. Whatever shall we do in this interlude...

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<p>Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams</p>

Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams

Pharrell joins Hans Zimmer as Oscars consultant; Underworld scores Olympics

In with the old, in with the new

Two longstanding institutions have added new -- or "newer" -- music-makers into their fold. Pharrell Williams has been tapped as a music consultant to the Oscars, as has Hans Zimmer; and the duo best known as Underworld has been appointed music director of the London-hosted 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

Zimmer's addition is little surprise, considering he's an Academy Award winner (and nine-time nominee, jeez). In addition, his hands may be a little free at the moment: as HitFix's In Contention blog pointed out, the "Rango" composer kept himself off the ballot for the year. Dude wants to relax, OK? Zimmer helped inform "Tron" composers and international dance superstars Daft Punk on their electric adventure, so may he with Neptunes production wunderkind Williams.

Pharrell headed up the villainous and buoyant soundtrack to 2010's "Despicable Me," which at least thwarted the pitfalls of cloying cuteness and gooshy sentimentality that sometimes plagues animated features. The Grammy winner's insight may add an contemporary upbeat feel to the Oscars, while Zimmer will obviously have the timing down.

The 84th annual Academy Awards take place on Feb. 26.

Meanwhile, Underworld have warned of "unexpected" results for their ceremony score, but they're paired with a predictable partner. The three-hour event is headed by director Danny Boyle -- who featured their song "Born Slippy" in his film "Trainspotting," collaborated with the duo for his stage adaptation of "Frankenstein" last year and tapped them for work on movies like "The Beach" and "Sunshine."

The Olympics gig "is very slightly bigger than anything we've ever done," Underworld's Karl Hyde told Billboard. "We knew that, with 'Frankenstein,' we'd been locked down for several months living at the theater and developing that project, and with something like this would equally require us to be focused 100 percent on it. But when Danny asks, we will say yes, because he takes us on an amazing journey."

The Summer Games opening ceremony is on July 27.

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<p>Jerry Robinson's Joker as seen in Batman #1.</p>

Jerry Robinson's Joker as seen in Batman #1.

Credit: DC Comics

Oscarweb Round-up: R.I.P. Jerry Robinson

Also: Who almost starred in Spielberg's movies and Cameron sued over 'Avatar'

It was with great sadness yesterday that I read the news of comic book artist Jerry Robinson passing. Robinson is widely known as the creator of the Joker in the Batman comic books (though that was naturally disputed by Batman creator Bob Kane in his time). It's an iconic gift to the world of graphic literature, no matter how you slice it, and Robinson's imprint on the industry was a considerable one. For "The Dark Knight," filmmaker Christopher Nolan went back to the pages of Batman #1, the Joker's first appearance, so it's fair to say we owe Heath Ledger's interpretation of the character to Robinson. Speaking of which, the prologue of "The Dark Knight Rises" was screened for select press last night. It will be attached to IMAX versions "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." [New York Times]

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<p>Pierce Brosnan sees old ghosts in &quot;Stephen King's Bag of Bones.&quot;</p>

Pierce Brosnan sees old ghosts in "Stephen King's Bag of Bones."

Credit: A&E

Review: 'Stephen King's Bag of Bones' on A&E

Pierce Brosnan battles writer's block and a creaky ghost story in new miniseries
I don't remember a lot about Stephen King's "Bag of Bones," the 1998 novel which A&E has adapted for a two-part miniseries airing Sunday and Monday night at 9, except for one part. The book's main character is novelist Mike Noonan, who comes down with a crippling case of writer's block after the sudden death of his wife Jo. The early sections of the book go on at length about Mike's sudden inability to do the thing that's made him a living and provided so much fulfillment, and it's every bit as vivid and terrifying as the best sequences in King's other books involving telekinetic prom queens, other-dimensional killer clowns and sentient, homicidal vintage cars. Admittedly, I'm a writer who's grappled with the problem from time to time (and never as long or as deeply as Mike does), so I'm a biased observer, but those early passages were the best bits of new King prose I'd read in more than a decade.
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