Paul Thomas Anderson at a Toronto Film Festival press conference for "The Master"
Paul Thomas Anderson at a Toronto Film Festival press conference for "The Master"
Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu

How the internet gave 'The Master' its title

Fans may have had a big hand in dubbing Paul Thomas Anderson's latest

The pre-release strategy for "The Master" was interesting. Unique, I guess is the word. The marketing side of this business is driven by the typical, but sometimes filmmakers chafe at having their work pitched in the usual ways. So you get someone like David Fincher or Paul Thomas Anderson who says, "Nope, we're gonna do THIS."

As far as screenings have been concerned, Anderson has clearly been all about getting it to fans first. We broke the news last month about the film's first public screening following a special showing of "The Shining" in Santa Monica, and that tactic was employed multiple times thereafter with pop-ups in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Austin, etc. And in most cases, fans were getting a look at the movie before the press.

Well, Anderson's love affair with his flock stretches even further than that and their connection with "The Master" might be deeper than they even realize. It turns out, Paul Thomas Anderson's fans may have had a significant hand in giving the film its title.

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<p>Amy&nbsp;Adams and Clint Eastwood in &quot;Trouble with the Curve&quot;</p>

Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in "Trouble with the Curve"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Amy Adams stands out opposite Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in 'Trouble with the Curve'

How will it play for the Academy?

I guess I'm a little bit confused. After being told up one side and down the other to beware Robert Lorenz's "Trouble with the Curve," I found myself liking it just fine. It's a bit unruly in spots and amateurly conceived in others, but never to detriment. And even Clint Eastwood's grizzled performance, threatening to make good on the promise of "Gran Torino" (i.e. that he'll be in the self-parody business from here on out) didn't strike the sour chord I expected it to.

Then as the movie went along, I realized the framing -- my framing -- was all wrong. This isn't Clint Eastwood's movie. This is Amy Adams's movie. And she's great. Coupled with "The Master," her work here further shows a dynamic range for the actress, who by the way landed three Oscar nominations in just six years, for those keeping score at home. And if you're still not convinced, have a look at "On the Road," where she shows up out of nowhere and gives a unique if brief take opposite Viggo Mortensen.

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<p>Tahar Rahim and Emilie Dequenne in &quot;Our Children,&quot; Belgium's official Oscar submission.</p>

Tahar Rahim and Emilie Dequenne in "Our Children," Belgium's official Oscar submission.

Credit: Peccadillo Pictures

'Our Children' and 'Pietà' among latest additions to foreign Oscar longlist

Portugal opts for 'Blood of My Blood' over critics' favorite 'Tabu'

It's been a few days since I've updated the longlist of submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- and, with the deadline exactly two weeks away, a few days amounts to a tall pile of new entries. I haven't yet had time to investigate the finer points of such exotic-sounding submissions as Croatia's "Cannibal Vegetarian" -- cursory research tells me it's less about cannibals than junkie gynaecologists -- but a few higher-profile possibilities have entered along with the probable filler.

Before I get to those, however: I figured that with the submissions count up to 28 (expect that to double in the next fortnight), we have enough films to begin playing with some predictions. So you'll find a highly malleable top five on the right-hand sidebar, drawn the pool of entries so far, with further rankings on the relevant Contenders page. None of it is to be taken too seriously, of course -- least of all in this eternally confounding category. 

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<p>(l-r)&nbsp;Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo,&quot;&nbsp;Philip Seymour Hoffman in &quot;The Master&quot;&nbsp;and Bradley Cooper in &quot;Silver Linings Playbook&quot;</p>

(l-r) Ben Affleck in "Argo," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master" and Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: Three to start the season

'Argo,' 'The Master' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' get us going

Ben Affleck's "Argo," Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook." With Venice, Telluride and Toronto in the rear view, those are the three films with the early stranglehold on the 2012-2013 Oscar season.

In the case of Affleck's thrilling true story, an impressive ensemble carries the load and the zeitgeist has been unexpectedly tapped in very direct ways. In the case of Anderson's artful Rorschach, a pair of compelling performances reflects a vibrant thematic treatise that is sure to court the cinephile vote this year. And in the case of Russell's Toronto Audience Award-winning dip back into the world of quirk and comedy, an apparent (it's the one I've yet to see) return to form for a veteran actor matched with a sure-fire Best Actress contender -- and a lead with his fair share of praise -- reflects a filmmaker keeping an impressive stride.

I mention the performances of each because the actors branch -- the largest of the Academy -- is sure to find plenty to appreciate in this trio. And that will be key, as always. This even in the case of "Argo," which doesn't have a single stand-out, though Alan Arkin will surely land his share of votes.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 87 -- Fall fests, 'The Master,' 'Silver Linings,' 'Argo' kick off the season

Oscar Talk: Ep. 87 -- Fall fests, 'The Master,' 'Silver Linings,' 'Argo' kick off the season

We're back!

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.

It's been too long since we last got together. Technical difficulties conspired to keep us away during the Toronto Film Festival, while a bout of a flu-like-thing kept us away while in Telluride. Alas, it's all for the better, as we come to you this weekend with a full, measured slate of material. Let's see what's on the docket...

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix in &quot;The Master.&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Tell us what you thought of 'The Master'

Paul Thomas Anderson's latest opens in limited release today

Well, the day has finally come -- for those of you lucky enough to live in New York or Los Angeles, that is. After an enigmatic marketing campaign, and an unorthodox series of pop-up screenings preceding festival appointments at Venice -- where it won Best Director, Best Actor and very nearly the Golden Lion too -- and Toronto, Paul Thomas Anderson's sixth feature film is here to dazzle and perplex the general public. I flipped for it in Venice (the next few months will have to be impossibly astonishing for it not to crack my year-end Top 5), and many top critics are similarly enthused -- for the number-crunchers, its Metacritic score is currently a robust 87. Not everyone's a believer in this gleaming but prickly movie, however: our colleague Drew McWeeny has doubts, and I anticipate some interestingly varied reactions from your good selves. (Awards expectations are similarly scattered, though I think it can go the distance.) Chime in below when you get a chance to see it and feel free to rate it above, as well. 

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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt (left)&nbsp;and Steven&nbsp;Spielberg during Google+&nbsp;Hangout Q&amp;A, broadcast on the ABC&nbsp;SuperSign in Times Square</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (left) and Steven Spielberg during Google+ Hangout Q&A, broadcast on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square

Credit: HitFix

Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk 'Lincoln' following trailer premiere

The Google+ Hangout event was broadcast in New York's Times Square

NEW YORK -- With much fanfare leading up to the reveal, Disney finally launched the trailer for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" this evening. The event was part of a Google Play cross-promotion with Spielberg and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt on hand in a Google+ Hangout to take questions from selected fans for 30 minutes after the trailer debuted.

The event was simultaneously broadcast on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square, where a modest group of people stopped to watch and snap photos as rush hour dwindled. Google users' comments scrolled across the sign with exclamations like "Those are all gonna be great performances!" and "Anyone else smell the coming Oscar for Daniel Day-Lewis?"

Calling the production "one of the most compelling experiences" he has had making a film, Spielberg noted that it was important to get a penetrating and thorough look at Lincoln as a man, not as a myth. And one way into that was to focus on the final four months of his presidency, rather than the entire width and breadth of it, and his cues were taken from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals," on which Tony Kushner's screenplay is based.

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<p>Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck in "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Making the case for 'Argo' and the zeitgeist

Ben Affleck's film assumes the early frontrunner position

Some months back I pondered the idea of the dissolving of TomKat -- and therefore, a flood of fresh Scientology headlines -- adding a little extra leverage to the cause (if you will) for "The Master" this awards season.

The zeitgeist, you see, is a funny thing. It's malleable in some ways. The world is always torn in a million different directions, strife, discovery, politics and the economy all having their day in some fashion. And if any movie were to take the abstract approach, "The Master" is certainly it. Now that many have seen the film, of course, the Scientology angle has been softened. But the idea of putting one's faith and fate in the hands of another -- government, religion, whatever -- is still, and always, relevant.

But sometimes things line up specifically. Sometimes one doesn't have to connect a lot of dots to present that, say, "Moneyball" tells a story of the difficult, painful process of change for the good around the idea that the sum of all parts is greater than one single entity, and that that reflects where we are as a country (even if that's 100% true). Sometimes, like with Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis film "Argo," the reflections are much more defined.

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<p>Jake Gyllenhaal in &quot;End of Watch,&quot; one of 12 films contending for the top prize at next month's LFF.</p>

Jake Gyllenhaal in "End of Watch," one of 12 films contending for the top prize at next month's LFF.

Credit: Open Road Films

London Film Festival beefs up its awards shortlists

More films in the running for prizes at the October catch-up fest

With Telluride and Venice behind us, and Toronto winding down, the first, and biggest, wave of the fall festival season is just about over -- but Fantastic Fest, the New York Film Festival and the London equivalent are all still lying in wait. With no major world premiere this year in the vein of previous coups like "Frost/Nixon" and "Fantastic Mr Fox," London won't be competing with the Big Apple (which boasts "Life of Pi" and "Flight") for media attention, but it remains one of the most useful greatest-hits festivals on the circuit.

I was too tangled up in Venice business last week to report on the unveiling of the London lineup, but it's a healthy blend of established festival hits, less celebrated discoveries and archive gems. 200-odd features are in the mix, around 40 of which I've already seen -- affording me plenty of room to explore the farther corners of the programme when my coverage begins next month.

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<p>Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in &quot;Beyond the Hills.&quot;</p>

Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in "Beyond the Hills."

Credit: Sundance Selects

Romania enters Cannes winner 'Beyond the Hills' in the Oscar race

Will voters make it up to Cristian Mungiu after that significant 2007 snub?

For casual Oscar-watchers, the Cannes Film Festival may seem prime hunting ground for Best Foreign Language Film candidates, but it hasn't turned up much so far -- only two submissions have emerged from this year's programme. The first of these was obvious: Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Amour," eventually selected as Austria's entry. 

The second is similarly predictable: eyebrows would have been raised if Romania hadn't submitted "Beyond the Hills." Cristian Mungiu's long-awaited follow-up to his 2007 Cannes champion, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" earned a raft of glowing reviews -- if not quite the unanimous veneration that greeted his previous film -- upon its premiere back in May, and was the only film in Competition to take more than one jury award: Best Screenplay for Mungiu and Best Actress for young novices Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur. (As with the recent kerfuffle in Venice, the latter prize was something of a compromise: "Amour" lead Emmanuelle Riva was reportedly the jury's first choice.) 

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