Contender Countdown: 'Gone Girl' and 'A Most Violent Year' enter the fray

Contender Countdown: 'Gone Girl' and 'A Most Violent Year' enter the fray

And about that 'Still Alice' release date

There's been barely a moment to breathe since "The Imitation Game," "Birdman" and "The Theory of Everything" showed their wares at Venice, Telluride and Toronto, but there's rarely any rest for the weary during awards season. Three films are making noise in the Best Picture rankings this week and all for different reasons.

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<p>&quot;Blackhat&quot;</p>

"Blackhat"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Chris Hemsworth hunts down cyber terror in the trailer for Michael Mann's 'Blackhat'

The film is due out in January

Part of me still hopes Universal/Legendary pulls Michael Mann's "Blackhat" into the season. It's probably not an awards movie but I just want to see it sooner, OK? Mann stumbled for many on "Public Enemies" but I was a fan and I'm looking forward to him getting back on the horse anyway, and a hacker thriller with Chris Hemsworth sounds like a nifty remedy. A newly released trailer, meanwhile, finally gives us a better look at the whole enterprise.

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Asa Butterfield
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tim Burton Wants Asa Butterfield for 'Big Eyes' Follow-up, 'Miss Peregrine'

He'd play the lead peculiar child in 'Home for Peculiar Children’

Apparently they didn't have the make-up to turn Johnny Depp into a 16-year-old boarding school student, so "Hugo" and "Ender's Game" star Asa Butterfield is Tim Burton's top choice for the lead in the upcoming "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children."

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William Monahan
Credit: IFC Entertainment

William Monahan adapting The New Yorker's teen snitch expose 'The Throwaways'

Writer won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for 2006's 'The Departed'

In an age where mature dramas are an endangered species, William Monahan remains a defender of the movies-for-adults business. The "Departed" and "Body of Lies" writer won't even let his uncredited work on "Oblivion" sneak into his IMDb credits. That's diligence.

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<p>Al Pacino in &quot;The Humbling&quot;</p>

Al Pacino in "The Humbling"

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Al Pacino will be looking for room in the Best Actor race with 'The Humbling'

Barry Levinson's latest received mixed reviews out of Venice and Toronto

Reviews of Barry Levinson's "The Humbling" out of the Venice Film Festival, where the Philip Roth adaptation premiered in competition, seemed mixed at best. Our own Catherine Bray dumped pretty hard on it, mostly bewildered about the choice of source material and the neutering of its gratuitousness. The "watering down" of "Roth's smut," she surmised, leaves the viewer with "just some mumbling from Pacino about how he don't get no respect." Others were kinder, still others not, but no matter, as a newly configured Millennium Entertainment has picked up the film with an eye toward insinuating it into the Oscar conversation.

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Deborah Cook explains the rigors of costuming for miniatures in the stop-motion 'Boxtrolls'
Credit: Focus Features

Deborah Cook explains the rigors of costuming for miniatures in the stop-motion 'Boxtrolls'

Shouldn't this work be taken a little more seriously this time of year?

The fact is the work someone like costume designer Deborah Cook does on a film like "The Boxtrolls" should be afforded the same respect during the Oscar season as what, say, Colleen Atwood does on "Into the Woods." Or what another legend like Milena Canonero conjures on "The Grand Budapest Hotel." The disciplines are one and the same, to say nothing of the fact that the level of detail on Laika's latest is as eye-popping as ever. Yet the season often relegates everything done on a stop-motion film to the realm of "animation" and leaves it at that.

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A Most Violent Year
Credit: A24

J.C. Chandor's 'Most Violent Year' to open 2014 AFI Fest

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain star in the New York crime drama

"A Most Violent Year" is currently the dollar bid on "Price Is Right." Set for release at the tail end of December, A24 positioned J.C. Chandor's "All Is Lost" follow-up as the last awards contender of the year. But don't think the film will be hustling behind the competition: American Film Institute announced today that "A Most Violent Year" would have its World Premiere on Thursday, Nov. 6, as the Opening Night Gala of AFI Fest 2014, giving it nearly two months to slow boil that buzz.

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Oscar Isaac doesn't feel the pressure on 'Star Wars: Episode VII' or a Coens flick

Oscar Isaac doesn't feel the pressure on 'Star Wars: Episode VII' or a Coens flick

Taking some time to chat about 'The Two Faces of January'

Heads up everyone: Oscar Isaac's last day shooting "Star Wars: Episode VII" is this Friday, Sept. 26. The cast has another few weeks of filming, but Isaac is taking a well deserved four day vacation before moving on to his next project, David Simon's HBO mini-series "Show Me A Hero." Somewhere during that production Isaac will fit in press and, likely, some awards season events for his December thriller "A Most Violent Year." So anyone who was afraid Hollywood wouldn't find ways to utilize the "Inside Llewyn Davis" star needn't have worried. At this exact moment, however, Isaac is taking a few hours after a long day of shooting "Episode VII" to discuss a film he's quite proud of, Hossein Amini's "The Two Faces of January."

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Neil Armstrong
Credit: NASA

'Whiplash' director takes one small step towards Neil Armstrong biopic

The long-gestating project nearly happened with Clint Eastwood

Writer-director Damien Chazelle is already at the top of the world with his musical drama "Whiplash" earning rave reviews from all its festival stops. Now he's headed straight for the moon.

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Mommy
Credit: Roadside Attractions

First Trailer for wunderkind Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy'

Cannes Jury Prize winner is Canada's Foreign Oscar submission

The 25-year-old, Montreal-based filmmaker Xavier Dolan premiered his fifth feature, "Mommy," at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Enough high praise from the fest circuit (and a Cannes Jury Prize) prompted Canada to pick the film for its Foreign Oscar submission — an honor Dolan earned five years ago for his debut "I Killed My Mother." If an unaccomplished feeling isn't weighing you down too hard (I can barely type), the first trailer for "Mommy" has arrived in anticipation of its Oscar-qualifying run.

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