The continuing saga of Terrence Malick's long awaited opus "The Tree of Life" took another turn on Monday with a report indicating the drama could be a late arrival to the awards season derby. 

The independently produced drama stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn and was initially intended to be released by Apparition.  In fact, there were rumors it almost hit theaters last December. Instead, Malick continued to work on the picture and speculation persisted that it would debut at Cannes and then possibly Venice or Telluride, but to no avail.  Part of the problem was whether Apparition could still release any films with former founder Bob Berney making a hasty get away from Bill Pohland who financed the up and coming indie distributor as well as "Life" itself.  The other issue was with the film itself. 

Depending on who you believe, "Life" is currently over 3 hours long, incomprehensible and having difficulty finding a studio willing to partner with Pohland to give it an adequate release.  Others will insist Malick is still playing in the editing room -- as he is known to do -- and there is no final cut.  In the meantime, Apparition appears to be close to shutting down after more layoffs.  A strange ending for a company with some impressive successes over a six month stretch last year ("Bright Star," "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" and "The Young Victoria").  Deadline insists a deal with a distributor for "Life" is near and we can only guess that means Summit Entertainment, NewMarket or IFC Films is coming on board.  Whether "Life" is a true player as Malick's "The Thin Red Line" turned out to be or a beautiful misfire in the vein of "The New World" remains to be seen.  But, because it's Malick, the cinema world will be watching.

In other news…

- Dispelling reports to the contrary, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement today from Jean-Luc Godard regarding whether or not he'd travel to Los Angeles in November to accept his honorary Oscar in person.  Godard is known as someone who doesn't like long plane flights and has dismissed the value of award shows and film festivals in the past.  According to AMPAS, "Godard sent a cordial, hand-written note" to AMPAS President Tom Sherak.  "In it, Godard graciously thanked the organization for the honor and referred to himself as 'the fourth musketeer,' in acknowledgement of the fact that three others (Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola and Eli Wallach) are among the year’s honorees. His note, relayed to the Academy  late last week via an assistant to Godard, indicated that, schedule permitting, he would come to Los Angeles for the November 13 Governors Awards event."  Well, I guess that's that.

- Movie City News' initial Gurus of Gold hit the interwebs Monday and this prognosticator was part of the pre-Toronto speculating on the best picture race.  Check out what 15 films are likely in play for the top prize from a familiar list of award season experts.  Look for the first edition of Awards Campaign's Contender Countdown for a more in-depth breakdown of who's in the race at the starting line tomorrow.

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