Latest Blog Posts

<p>Kacey Mottet Klein and L&eacute;a Seydoux in &quot;Sister.&quot;</p>

Kacey Mottet Klein and Léa Seydoux in "Sister."

Credit: Adopt Films

A closer look at Oscar's foreign-language shortlist

Few surprises in a strong slate of contenders

I've been saying for some time now that the Academy's cull of the foreign-language field from 71 to nine contenders would be a heartbreaker, and so it was.

Among the standout films eliminated from the competition after yesterday's announcement are: Australia's vivid, perspective-bending WWII tale "Lore," Belgium's wrenching domestic drama "Our Children," Hungary's brutal Berlin Silver Bear winner "Just the Wind," Mexico's disquieting conversation piece (and Cannes Un Certain Regard champ) "After Lucia" and Germany's acclaimed, elegant Stasi-era character study "Barbara." We salute them, and many others: here's hoping they find the international audiences (and, in some cases, distributors) they deserve in spite of this setback.

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<p>Keira Knightley in &quot;Anna Karenina&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina"

Credit: Focus Features

'Argo,' 'Lincoln' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' lead Alliance of Women Film Journalists nods

Sean Anders, Sacha Baron Cohen and Gabriele Muccino make the 'Hall of Shame'

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has announced its list of nominees this year, with its own fair share of unique categories. The Best Film nominees were "Argo," "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty" (each also cited for Best Director). Check out the full list of nominees below. Winners will be announced next month. And, as always, keep track of the 2012-2013 film awards season via The Circuit.

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<p>Jessica Chastain in &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Zero Dark Thirty' fares well with Women Film Critics Circle

'Lincoln' picks up a pair, 'Killer Joe' held to task

The Women Film Critics Circle has announced its annual…unique…slate of award winners. "Zero Dark Thirty" won three awards while "Lincoln" won two. And they have a bone to pick with "Killer Joe" and "Think Like a Man." Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>&quot;The&nbsp;Impossible&quot;</p>

"The Impossible"

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Tell us what you thought of 'The Impossible'

J.A. Bayona's riveting tsunami drama hits theaters this weekend

I've been on board "The Impossible" since way back in August and still believe it to be part and parcel of a great year for movies. It's been getting a lot of buzz lately as it barreled toward release and now, it's out there for you to chew on. When you get a chance to do so, come on back here and tell us what you thought. And again, feel free to rate the film above.

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<p>Megan Fox and Leslie Mann in &quot;This is 40&quot;</p>

Megan Fox and Leslie Mann in "This is 40"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'This is 40'

Judd Apatow's latest hits theaters this weekend

I've been a little dismayed at the critical reaction to Judd Apatow's "This is 40" (one of Drew McWeeny's top 10 films of the year.) It feels like some had the knives out. I'm not a worshiper of the man's work or anything but his latest is, to me, his richest film to date. Perhaps it's about relating to it or not, I don't know. In any case, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so cut loose with your take in the comments section below when/if you get around to seeing the film. And feel free to rate it above.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Isaac Brekken/AP

Taylor Swift's 'Red' will celebrate Christmas at No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Singer's album will easily command the top spot next week

Taylor Swift’s “Red” will go into the Christmas holiday with a sure lead for the top spot on the Billboard 200 next week.

The album returned to the No. 1 spot last week for the first time since its October release and stayed there this week, despite a charge by Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox.”

However, it looks like there’s no doubt that Swift will remain at No. 1 next week, as “Red” is tracking to sell up to 295,000 copies. That tally gives it more than a 100,000-edge over its nearest competitors. As of Friday,  One Direction’s “Take Me Home,” Mars’ “Jukebox” and “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head,” the new album from T.I., are all too close to call for the No. 2-4 spots. They are all projected to sell between 150,000 and 175,000 copies.

The picture is a little clearer when we get to No. 5, which looks like it will be Michael Buble’s “Christmas” album, with holiday sales of  up to 160,000 copies.  That album is closely followed by Rod Stewart’s holiday smash, “Merry Christmas Baby,” which will sell up to 135,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double.

A compilation of tunes from “12/12/12: The Concert For Sandy Relief” will bow at No. 7, with up to 110,000 copies. The iTunes-only set features performances from such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and The Who. Not included on the tribute? Kanye West. Billboard tried to get to the bottom of why he is not on the tribute, but everyone they talked to declined comment. A source speculated that it was West’s decision not to be on the collection, although the magazine also posits that the fact that his contribution was 13-minute medley that couldn’t be broken up may have also contributed to the decision.

Rounding out the Top 10 are likely to be Phillip Phillips’ “World From The SIde Of the Moon”  at No. 8, Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” at No. 9 and Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” at No. 10.

 

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"Donald, can you see me? Can you feel me near you?"

"Donald, can you see me? Can you feel me near you?"

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'Anomaly XB-6783746'

The show says goodbye to one character and hello, improbably, to another.

One thing that’s arisen in this final season of “Fringe” as a topic of debate is just how much needs to actually unfold onscreen to engage audiences on either a practical or emotional level. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here, like anything else in a creative sphere. Through both conscious choice and external limitations, the show has skipped over large chunks of its overall storyline in order to get to its finish line. And the closer we get, the more than those gaps seem to be accentuated. “Anomaly XB-6783746” was an episode that nearly ground the season’s momentum to a halt only to kick things into major overdrive in the final moments. (I may need to adjust my neck from the whiplash, and not because it allows more sound waves to enter my ears.) To those still buying what the show is selling, filling in those gaps tonight might have been thrilling. To those less engaged with the show, filling them in might have been frustrating.

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<p>Sounds like the full &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother&quot;&nbsp;cast will be back for another season.</p>

Sounds like the full "How I Met Your Mother" cast will be back for another season.

Credit: CBS

Report: 'How I Met Your Mother' to run forever and ever and ever

Jason Segel has apparently agreed to a ninth season; will we ever meet the Mother?

"How I Met Your Mother" is reportedly coming back for a ninth season — and if the show's creators take their title literally, we may have another year and a half, minimum, before Ted Mosby gets a look at his future wife.

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<p>Gary Oldman in &quot;Tinker,&nbsp;Tailor, Soldier, Spy&quot;</p>

Gary Oldman in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Credit: Focus Features

'Tinker, Tailor' dominates biennial International Online Film Critics' Poll

Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman win top acting honors

Here's something novel. A biennial awards presentation. The eligibility period for the International Online Film Critics' Poll is November 16, 2010 to November 15, 2012, leaving a wide array of films to choose from. Pity, then, that the critics' choices aren't themselves as varied. Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" won five awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Check out the full list below (and the previously announce nominees at the poll's website). And of course, keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>Surprise!&nbsp;We're still here!!!</p>

Surprise! We're still here!!!

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Dublin critics award Haneke, Phoenix, Riva and...'The Artist?'

Gareth Evans spotlighted for breakthrough work with 'The Raid: Redemption'

If you thought we had escaped the year of "The Artist," you were wrong. The Dublin Film Critics Circle has chosen Michel Hazanavicius's Best Picture winner as the year's best film, as it opened on those shores in 2012. It joins Michael Haneke, Joaquin Phoenix, Emmanuelle Riva and more for top honors this year. Check out the full list below (with curious ties throughout), and as always, keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>A&nbsp;zombie from &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

A zombie from "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

AMC renews 'The Walking Dead,' but showrunner Glen Mazzara departs

Second producer switch in two seasons comes over creative differences

AMC has renewed "The Walking Dead" for a fourth season, but the zombie drama will once again be making a change at showrunner, as Glen Mazzara will be leaving the series after post-production work concludes on season 3.

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<p>Alexandre Desplat</p>

Alexandre Desplat

Credit: AP Photo

Alexandre Desplat on working with Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck

Golden Globe-nominated composer and 'believing' in 'Rise of the Guardians'

At a recent reception for Alexandre Desplat at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel  to promote his “Rise Of The Guardian’s” score, the composer jokingly offered to validate my parking ticket. “Anything to get the gig,” he laughed. “I’m actually playing piano tonight in the ballroom.”

Even without supplying such additional services, the prolific Desplat is Incredibly in demand for his agile flair and ability to score virtually any genre. This year alone, he wrote music for an wide array of films, including “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rust and Bone” and the aforementioned “Rise Of The Guardians.” 

His past scores include “The King’s Speech,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Queen,” “The Tree of Life,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Parts 1 and 2.”

Desplat received his sixth Golden Globe nomination earlier this month for “Argo”; the work won the Satellite Award for best original score on Dec. 16.

At the DreamWorks Animation reception, I grabbed a few minutes with Desplat to talk about some of his work this year. We didn’t have time to cover “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Rust & Bone,” as he was also running the valet operation that night and needed to fetch Jeffrey Katzenberg his car. (Just kidding on that last part).


“RISE OF THE GUARDIANS”:
  Desplat wrote a staggering 82 minutes of music for the film, ranging from action themes to lullabies. He started with “Believe,” an enchanting piece inspired by a pivotal, emotional scene late in the picture. The movie centers around the “guardians” of our childhood, including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman, who protect children against dark forces, as long as the children still believe the icons are real.

“I just felt that the center of the film was about that dream and the belief and I should maybe start there, not start right away with the action,” he says. Desplat played the theme for director Peter Ramsey, who loved it, and its melody became an anchor.  “It started as the theme and then it became the thread which brings us all along the film until the song at the end.” Along with the movie’s screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire, Desplat wrote “Still Dream,” the end-title theme performed by Renee Fleming.’’

“Guardians” also features galloping action themes that I suggested to Desplat seemed to pay tribute to one of his heroes, John Williams. “You’re partly right, partly wrong,” he said. ‘I’m not paying homage. He’s just become part of our collective unconscious. John Williams’ music in the last 40 years has rejuvenated the style.” 

Desplat added that as much as he listened to such pioneering composers as Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann,  “[Jerry] Goldsmith and Williams were the famous composers when I as a teenager,” he says. “So alive and still very active and creating these incredible soundtracks, so I’m sure that had an impact on me. When you see a superhero flying, of course you think of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Superman.’”

His sweeping, imaginative score also hits a number of whimsical beats, similar to Carl Stalling’s work.  “The movie is very funny and very witty,” he says “I’d been watching Tex Avery a lot when I was young,” he says, bringing up not just Carl Stalling, but also Scott Bradley. “There’s a fun and a joy, like Spike Jones also used to have...This kind of crazy fantasy. When I wrote this score, I couldn’t not think about that and the need to write my love for this kind of music.”


“ARGO”: The Ben Affleck-directed drama reunited Desplat with one of the movie’s producers George Clooney, with whom he’d worked on “The Ides of March.”  For the film, which covers the 1979 Iranian Hostage crisis, Desplat deliberately stayed away from channeling the music of that era in his score since the film already incorporated so many of the fashions and other styles of that time.

“There was so much of that on screen that if I started doing the Wah-wah pedal and the ‘Shaft thing,’ it would have been too much,” he says. “My goal was to bring emotion and suspense and tension and make sure that you got the danger surrounding the hostages. That was my job. [Affleck and I] agreed very early also to bring some Middle Eastern flavor in front of you, which was also a foreign sound because at the time, world music was not that prominent.” 


“ZERO DARK THIRTY”
: Desplat’s music for the story about the hunt and eventual capture of Osama Bin Laden  is kept to the bare minimum. Given the almost documentary feel of the picture and the inherent drama of the story,  director Kathryn Bigelow and Desplat wanted to avoid any hint of cliche.

“There was no way I should play the suspense,” Desplat says he and the director agreed. “We always kept repeating to each other, ‘’No score, no score..’ There should be music that should be another current to the film— always appearing—disappearing, without notice. It’s got to be like not painting on the canvas, but in the canvas itself.”

Desplat, who scored the film in three weeks,  wanted to create a musical palate that reflected the culture and the history of the region and of the conflict between the warring factions. “It’s it’s the story of two civilizations, two religions, two tribes trying to kill each other.  One attacked the other, there’s always one that starts the war and then the other strikes back and then it becomes ugly, and awful and disgusting and disturbing,” he said. “It’s not nice to see somebody being tortured even if he’s a bad guy. It’s monstrous and ugly.”

 Desplat had nothing but praise for the Oscar-winning director, calling Bigelow’s movie “a masterpiece...The  way she chose to have Jessica Chastain play a role and not some action woman. This tiny woman, so beautiful, such transparent skin, to play the girl who’s the most fierce and cunning of the whole bunch,” he says. “And she’s the one who really wants to kill or catch Bin Laden. Kathryn’s point of view is just amazing and I don’t know how many artists and directors would have had that strong point of view for the subject.”

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