<p>Olga Kurylenko and Ben Affleck in &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

Olga Kurylenko and Ben Affleck in "To the Wonder."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Magnolia to release Malick's 'To the Wonder' in 2013

The film has had a rocky reception since premiering earlier this month

Arguably no film has suffered a steeper fall on the autumn festival circuit than Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder." The usually slow-working director's unexpectedly prompt follow-up to last year's Palme d'Or winner "The Tree of Life" entered the Venice Film Festival, together with Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," as its prime attraction. By the time it moved on to Toronto, however, many critics seemed to be wishing he'd taken a little more time. 

The Venice premiere was by no means disastrous. Inevitably, as with "The Tree of Life" at Cannes, some boos greeted the closing credits at its morning press screening, and were swiftly, even gleefully blown out of proportion by the media, but it had its fair share of admirers, too -- of which I was one. (Indeed, I'm one of the very few who thinks the film a step up from "Tree.") The Toronto reception, however, was rockier: with expectations already dampened by the mixed advance word from Europe, a lot of critics positively seemed to revel in sticking the boot in, while claims to the effect of "Malick's worst film" rapidly became consensus.

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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt in &quot;Looper&quot;</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Looper"

Credit: FilmDistrict

Tell us what you thought of 'Looper'

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
Rian Johnson's latest hits theaters this weekend

I've said plenty about "Looper" in the podcasts but haven't really had a chance to sit down and write something up. I'll get to it, maybe, but I'm content in loving this film whether I get around to writing about it or not. And I'd love to hear the readership's thoughts, too, so if/when you make it out to see it this weekend, do come on back here and give us your take.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 89 -- 'Life of Pi' opens NYFF but is it a player?

Oscar Talk: Ep. 89 -- 'Life of Pi' opens NYFF but is it a player?

Also: Surveying the Best Actor field and disagreeing on 'Silver Linings Playbook'

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.

This week the New York Film Festival is launching and October is right around the corner. We're catching up with this and that along the way and have plenty to mull over as always, so with that, let's see what's on the docket today...

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<p>Suraj Sharma in &quot;Life of Pi&quot;</p>

Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' roars into the Oscar season

The visionary filmmaker taps a narrative of soul and spirit

NEW YORK -- Translating Yann Martel's award-winning novel "Life of Pi" to film has proven to be a daunting task for filmmakers kicking the tires on it for the better part of a decade, but in the hands of someone like Ang Lee, it was already getting off on the right foot. While the film, which opens the New York Film Festival this evening, takes some time revving past a clunky first act, it eventually settles into a visionary sweet spot for well over an hour. Messy though it may be, it's affecting on the whole for the truths with which it concerns itself and the journey it so passionately suggests.

The story of the film is the visual scope of the endeavor, and Lee's work with visual effects artists and cinematographer Claudio Miranda ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "TRON Legacy") has produced some of the most awe-inspiring images likely to grace a screen this year. And indeed, Lee wanted that extra power, so much so that he was basically thinking of 3D before he was thinking of 3D, as he put it at a press conference this morning. "I didn't think it was possible without 3D," he said. "It needed another dimension."

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<p>Suraj Sharma in &quot;Life of Pi.&quot;</p>

Suraj Sharma in "Life of Pi."

Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox

Roundup: Awaiting the New York premiere of 'Life of Pi'

Also: 'Life rights' in 'The Hurt Locker,' and Kylie talks 'Holy Motors'

The New York Film Festival kicks off its golden-anniversary edition tonight with the world premiere of Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" -- Kris will be on hand to offer his thoughts. In the meantime, A.O. Scott shares his notes on the films he's seen from the lineup, including "Pi," which he describes as "a lavish reminder that film nowadays is sometimes not film at all, but rather a rapidly evolving digital art form." He also notes that it's an unusually large-scale choice of opener for an arthouse-dominated fest that kicked off with an Alain Resnais film three years ago. Have they sold out? Scott discusses. [New York Times]

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<p>A scene from Ernst Lubitsch's &quot;The&nbsp;Patriot&quot;</p>

A scene from Ernst Lubitsch's "The Patriot"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Academy goes on the hunt for its own history

A 1928 Best Picture nominee by Ernst Lubitsch is still at large

Fixating as we do on the seasonal ins and outs of the Oscar process, it’s easy to forget that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a purpose beyond handing out gold stars to the industry’s great and good. As an organization dedicated both to the development and preservation of the medium, they have fostered a wealth of films and archive materials that have scant relationship to the Academy Awards. Little wonder they warmed so to the film-preservation paean that was “Hugo” last year.

Still, when their archiving obligations overlap with celebration of the awards that made them famous, it’s an irresistible promotional opportunity for AMPAS. Hence the launch of their Oscar’s Most Wanted movement, which seeks to complete their library of every single film, short or feature-length, that was once graced with the golden man’s touch.

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Taking questions for 9/28 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

You know the drill. Oscar Talk is back tomorrow with a new installment so if you have any burning questions, offer them here. We'll be talking NYFF and "Life of Pi," the weekend's releases and this and that. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few in the podcast.

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<p>HitFix Awards</p>

HitFix Awards

Credit: HitFix

Introducing HitFix's Awards Channel

Your awards hub for film, TV and music

The move to HitFix has put us right at the center of some exciting developments on the film awards coverage side of things, and one of those elements was revealed yesterday. We've established a separate Awards Channel that will serve as your hub for all of HitFix's awards coverage, whether it's music, TV or film. We've got your Grammy, Emmy and Oscar fix.

In addition to circulating all of our content in this spectrum, the channel also offers the usual bells and whistles of HitFix: calendar reminders, links to our Contenders section, video interviews and more. There is also easy access to all of the site's festival coverage. So add a new bookmark!

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master.'</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master.'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: Are we getting too precious about 'The Master?'

Plus: Parsing the Bat's Oscar hopes, and 'Won't Back Down' pushback

As with most works of high-reaching ambition that critics can't quite agree on -- even those that like it -- "The Master" continues to inspire some of the knottiest film writing of the year. For her part, Stephanie Zacharek admires the film, but suggests a lot of her colleagues feel it's entitled to more thought and attention than it really is. She spins that into an observation of lofty, anti-mainstream festival titles in general: "There’s a danger in erecting false walls around different corners of the culture, of claiming some movies deserve our respect by virtue of who made them and of how they’re made, regardless of whether they arouse any passion in us." [The AV Club]

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<p>Meryl&nbsp;Streep in &quot;Hope Springs&quot;</p>

Meryl Streep in "Hope Springs"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Long Shot: The drawbacks of being a wallflower

Why everyman stories get short shrift with the Academy

On Monday, a colleague pointed out to me that the next Academy Awards were, to the day, five months away. Strangely, he said it in the panicked tone of someone on whom Christmas has too swiftly crept up, whereas all I could think of was how dauntingly far away it sounded. Five months is a long time to parse the possibility of a third consecutive Best Picture from the Weinstein stable, to debate Philip Seymour Hoffman’s category placement, and for Jeff Wells to denigrate Daniel Day-Lewis’s Abe Lincoln accent; this weekly column, meanwhile, will have mulled over more than enough unseen variables before the season is out. Welcome.

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