<p>David Oyelowo at the 2014 AFI Fest (left) and the poster for &quot;American Sniper&quot;</p>

David Oyelowo at the 2014 AFI Fest (left) and the poster for "American Sniper"

Credit: AP Photo/Warner Bros.

'Selma' and 'American Sniper' land as an interesting AFI Fest double feature

Which one will light Oscar's fire?

HOLLYWOOD — AFI Fest sure did put together an awkward bloc of scheduling Tuesday night at the Egyptian Theatre. A moving story of a civil rights leader who was gunned down by a sniper followed by… "American Sniper," directed by a guy who talks to a chair and hates Obama. OK, that's a little unfair, but after Chris Rock's zinger Saturday night, it was sort of hard for my mind not to go there with two films that deal with political ideologies in both overt and subtextual ways.

Read Full Post
<p>Timothy Spall</p>

Timothy Spall

Credit: AP Photo

Timothy Spall says the contradictions of 'Mr. Turner' were his key into the character

He's already won awards and nominations, with more surely to come

Timothy Spall has already picked up an award for his performance as J.M.W. Turner in Mike Leigh's meticulous biopic "Mr. Turner." He won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where the film first premiered. He has also received a European Film Awards nomination for his work, a character actor who has picked up the leading man ball and run with it…perhaps even all the way to an Oscar nomination.

Read Full Post
Ralph Fiennes returns to 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' just in time for awards season

Ralph Fiennes returns to 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' just in time for awards season

Wes Anderson's best movie is getting a well deserved spotlight

Eight months after it hit theaters, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is back in business, and here's hoping Hollywood is paying attention.

Ralph Fiennes joined co-stars Tony Revolori and Jeff Goldblum for a final SAG nominating committee Q&A Monday night in Los Angeles that this pundit was lucky enough to moderate. Most in the packed theater had already seen "Budapest" but wanted a chance to hear the film's stars discuss their journey into Wes Anderson's latest creation in person.

Read Full Post
<p>Andy Serkis on the set of &quot;Dawn of the Planet of the Apes&quot;</p>

Andy Serkis on the set of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Apes' star Andy Serkis says we're reaching an age of acceptance for performance capture

Also: How co-star Toby Kebbell picked up the ball and ran with it

LOS ANGELES — The story of Fox's current "Planet of the Apes" franchise is very much about what Andy Serkis and his team have been doing in the realm of performance capture. Each film so far has represented a significant step forward, and the next installment will surely represent yet another leap. Serkis had all of this in mind recently when he stepped into the HitFix studio to discuss the film, which is now being positioned for awards by the studio with Serkis in the midst of a Best Supporting Actor campaign.

Read Full Post
Strange Magic

Disney, Lucasfilm announce 'Strange Magic,' an animated musical from 'Star Wars 7' sound mixer

George Lucas wrote the story, based on 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'

A year after the industry-rattling announcement that Walt Disney Pictures had acquired LucasFilm and planned on moving forward with hew "Star Wars" movies, there were vague reports that George Lucas and prequel trilogy sound mixer Gary Rydstrom were collaborating on an untitled animated film. Further digging revealed that the project may have been in the works since 2010. Without Disney or LucasFilm confirmations, the project was filed under rumors and left alone. Now, the joint companies have unearthed the long-gestating project on their own. "Strange Magic" will suddenly arrive in January 2015.

Read Full Post
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
Credit: Focus Features

How 'Absolutely Fabulous' helped ’Theory of Everything’ makeup designer recreate Hawking

Jan Sewell amplifies Eddie Redmayne’s stunning performance with subtle body modifications

To makeover actor Eddie Redmayne into Stephen Hawking, whose could still sneak out a smile through a physical body mangled by disease, makeup designer Jane Sewell avoided all things Hawking. Forget about Benedict Cumberbatch’s biopic "Hawking." And definitely no "Simpsons" cameos. She wouldn’t even watch Errol Morris’s "A Brief History of Time" documentary. Save for reference photos, Sewell had blinders up to any Stephen Hawking appearance. If there was existing pop culture that helped her with the job, it would probably be "Absolutely Fabulous."

Read Full Post
William H Macy and Joan Allen
Credit: AP

William H. Macy, Joan Allen join Brie Larson in captive drama 'Room'

Production begins on director Lenny Abrahamson’s 'Frank' follow-up

Emma Donoghue's "Room" is a tremendous book. Centering on a mother and son locked up against their will in a finished shed, under watch by a man they know little about, the story blossoms from a self-contained kidnapping narrative into an emotionally complex character study as psyches crack. The novel’s structure would prove difficult to adapt in typical three-act screenplay structure. That isn’t stopping "Frank" and "What Richard Did" director Lenny Abrahamson, who starts shooting his adaptation of "Room" with a cast capable of tacking its physically demanding roles.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;The Gambler&quot;</p>

"The Gambler"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Mark Wahlberg is great in 'The Gambler' but give us more John Goodman

Rupert Wyatt's remake premiered at AFI Fest Monday night

Rupert Wyatt's "The Gambler," which premiered at the 2014 AFI Fest Monday night, puts a stylish spin on Karel Reisz's 1974 James Caan drama of the same name. In adapting James Toback's original script, Oscar winner William Monahan ("The Departed") has laced it with crackling dialogue and heady witticisms that land like cards of a rapid fire blackjack deal. Greig Fraser has captured it in cool digital hues with '70s lenses that pay tribute to an era. And Mark Wahlberg, seemingly starved down to a 60-pounds-less frame, anchors it with a performance that is committed and interesting, a complete 180 from the popcorn blast of the summer's "Transformers: Age of Extinction." But will it find a jackpot from the Oscar season or a bad beat?

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;American Sniper&quot;</p>

"American Sniper"

Credit: Warner Bros.

AFI Fest announces title of secret screening: Clint Eastwood's 'American Sniper'

Back-to-back coups for the Hollywood event with this and 'Selma'

It's going to be a busy night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood Tuesday night. Paramount had initially set a footage presentation for 6pm in tandem with AFI Fest. Then a secret screening was added to the slate following that event. Then, suddenly, Paramount decided to run with a full exhibition of "Selma," while AFI Fest has revealed the title of the secret screening: Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper."

Read Full Post
<p>Shep Gordon and Mike Myers</p>

Shep Gordon and Mike Myers

Credit: AP Photo

'Supermensch' Shep Gordon looks back on a wild ride of sex, drugs and rock and roll

The subject of Mike Myers' documentary pens up from a famed rock haven

LOS ANGELES — You might not know who Shep Gordon is, but you've certainly felt his impact. As a manager extraordinaire who has shepherded the careers of everyone from Alice Cooper and Teddy Pendergrass to Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck, Gordon has had a wild ride. He was there for the early rock explosion, not just rubbing shoulders with people like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, but working with them, figuring out the business of show with a whole crop of exciting artists as a defining fixture of that bedrock. Naturally, then, someone was going to be interested in trying to capture that presence in a film.

Read Full Post