<p>Colin Farrell in Les Wiseman's remake of &quot;Total Recall.&quot;</p>

Colin Farrell in Les Wiseman's remake of "Total Recall."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 remakes that got it right

With a new take on 'Total Recall' out Friday, we round up cinema's best do-overs

For those of us still clinging to the illusion of youth – I’m 29, but humor me – this has been a mighty distressing summer. The reboot of “Spider-Man,” for example, seemed utterly superfluous to those of us who remember 2002 like it was yesterday; to the new generation of teenagers ogling Andrew Garfield’s more haunted-looking Peter Parker, however, Tobey Maguire’s first outing in the Spidey-suit is a kindergarten memory, if it’s a memory at all.

More alarming still is a new take on a film whose posters I can still remember adorning the cinema marquees of my childhood, but is now deemed so venerable as to be past the territory of sequels or spinoffs. Yes, “Total Recall” – which stood only 22 years ago at the cutting edge of FX blockbuster terrain – is now old enough to suffer the indignity of a remake, and “Underworld” director Len Wiseman is the man filling Paul Verhoeven’s shoes.

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<p>Tom Sherak, just about to announce his last slate of Oscar nominees in January</p>

Tom Sherak, just about to announce his last slate of Oscar nominees in January

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Tom Sherak bids the Academy farewell

A new president will be voted in Tuesday

Tomorrow night the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will vote through a new president as Tom Sherak takes his leave after three years on the perch. The presumed favorite for the spot is producer Howard "Hawk" Koch, though Phil Alden Robinson and Gale Anne Hurd are strong possibilities, too. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, here is Sherak's farewell to the membership:

Dear Academy Members,

I am writing to you as I approach the end of my final term as president of our Academy – a position that I have been honored to hold for three years.

I remember how excited I was when I wrote to you back in 2009, as I neared the end of my first 100 days in office. Now I am humbled – humbled by what we have accomplished, by all that we represent, and by everything that we are.

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<p>A scene from Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.&nbsp;</p>

A scene from Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony on Friday. 

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Memo to Oscar: Get Danny Boyle to direct your show

After his epic Olympic ceremony, the Oscars would be a breeze for the Brit

So, what did you watch this weekend? I'm betting that, for many of you, it wasn't anything in the cinema. By and large, US and UK distributors (and I expect many others besides) steered clear of the dark Olympic shadow, knowing that the biggest release of the week may have come from a major filmmaker, but it certainly wasn't a movie. Given the scale of the occasion, Danny Boyle's opening ceremony for the London 2012 Games would have been deemed appointment viewing even if he'd done little more than plonk One Direction on a stage to mime for three hours. 

As it was, he did rather a lot more than that. So much more that viewing parties around the world -- a greater total audience, one presumes, than has been enjoyed by all Boyle's feature films combined -- were left open-mouthed: some with bewilderment, some with delight, many more of us with both. Eschewing the kind of regimented, choreographed float-spectacle that is par for the course at such events -- and was mastered pretty much to the point of unimprovability by Zhang Yimou at the 2008 Bejing Olympics -- Boyle took a more avant-garde approach, wittily crafting an extravaganza that celebrated difficulty, damage and imperfection in place of the standard Olympic virtues of serenity and supremacy.

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<p>Will Robert De Niro come out of the fests looking like a Best Supporting Actor sure-thing in &quot;Silver Linings&nbsp;Playbook?&quot;</p>

Will Robert De Niro come out of the fests looking like a Best Supporting Actor sure-thing in "Silver Linings Playbook?"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Fall fests set to fire the Oscar starting gun

Plus: The annual Telluride guessing game

Now that the first wave of festival announcements has hit, let's take a look at things.

Toronto came out of the gate first with a typically stuffed program. The high marks that could easily figure into the awards race include Ben Affleck's "Argo," Roger Michell's "Hyde Park on Hudson," David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski's "Cloud Atlas," Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Impossible" and Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Meanwhile, films looking for distribution that could come out of the fest with a buyer, staring at the season, include Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep," Mike Newell's "Great Expectations," Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini's "Imogene," Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder."

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<p>Richard&nbsp;Gere in &quot;Arbitrage&quot;</p>

Richard Gere in "Arbitrage"

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Could Richard Gere dance with the season in 'Arbitrage?'

HitFix
B
Readers
B-
The actor delivers one of his finest performances in Nicholas Jarecki's debut

So how many times have we felt like we were on stable ground discussing Richard Gere's place in an awards season? A handful? He deserved some real consideration for "Days of Heaven" way back when, no doubt. He was surrounded by lauded performers in "An Officer and a Gentleman." Flirted with the Globes for "Pretty Woman" and "Chicago" (netting a SAG nod, too, for the latter).

The last time his name popped up was for Lasse Hallström's "The Hoax," in which he offered up typically solid work. "Solid" is really a pretty decent descriptor of Gere's contribution to the screen all these years, I'd say. And every once in a while, he turns out something a bit more special.

I think "Arbitrage" is one of those special moments for him. The film played Sundance back in January to generally positive response and Gere was spotlighted, of course. But the more I chew on it after a recent screening, the more I think it might be on the top tier of the actor's work to date.

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<p>Billy Magnusson in &quot;Damsels in Distress.&quot;</p>

Billy Magnusson in "Damsels in Distress."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Calling all original screenplay contenders

As prestige adaptations crowd the fall slate, originals are harder to spot

It's hardly a new complaint that the humble original screenplay is practically an endangered species in the current cinematic landscape. Multiple column inches have been spent bemoaning the dominance of sequels, remakes, reboots, retreads and other means of narrative recycling in our multiplexes: of the top 10 grossers at the US box office this year, a mere two (Seth Macfarlane's "Ted" and Pixar's "Brave") are putatively original creations. Audiences like known quantities, studios like low-risk investments, original screenplays pile up on the back burner. And so on.

But while popular filmmaking routinely takes flak for its lack of initiative, the trend is no less prevalent in prestige cinema. This year alone sees a bevy of high-toned literary adaptations jostling for festival space and/or awards attention come wintertime, many of which have been filmed before. There at least 17 big-screen versions of "Anna Karenina" on record, but Joe Wright is bringing us another; Mike Newell is steering the eighth go-round of "Great Expectations" (not including last year's high-profile TV miniseries); Tom Hooper, the sixteenth of "Les Miserables" (though, to be fair, the first of the beloved stage musical); Baz Luhrmann, the fourth of "The Great Gatsby"; Peter Jackson, the second of "The Hobbit." The characters here may not wear Spandex, but they're as overworked as any Marvel superhero.

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<p>&quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot;</p>

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Apes,' 'Harry Potter,' 'Ghost Protocol' and 'Dragon Tattoo' win at the Saturn Awards

'Super 8' takes Best Director

The 38th annual Saturn Awards, recognizing achievement in genre filmmaking, were held this evening. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, " "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" won across the organization's three Best Film categories. "Super 8" also picked up a pair of statues, including Best Director. Check out the full set of winners below and look back on all the action of the film awards season at The Circuit.

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<p>Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in "To the Wonder."

Credit: FilmNation Entertainment

Venice competition lineup includes Malick, De Palma, Assayas

'The Master' may appear as a late addition

The Venice Film Festival unveiled its lineup this afternoon, and it looks much as we expected it would -- but lest we sound too blasé, who would ever have thought a few years ago that we'd see Terrence Malick debuting two new features in consecutive years? Wonders will never cease, if you'll forgive the lousy pun. "To the Wonder" is obviously the film that most Lido-bound journos are salivating over, but festival director Antonio Barbera revealed that he has one title left to announce -- and the smart money is on it being Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."

Anderson's film, which hasn't -- yet -- turned up in the Toronto lineup, would represent a major coup for the Italian fest. Venice can't compete with Toronto for sheer star power, not least because it's a much smaller affair, but that selectiveness, plus its longstanding jury awards, comfortably give it the edge in prestige.

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<p>Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey and Tye Sheridan in &quot;Mud.&quot;</p>

Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey and Tye Sheridan in "Mud."

Credit: Everest Entertainment

Are distributors letting 'Mud' slide?

Jeff Nichols's latest was a hit at Cannes, so why has no one bought it?

"Mud," the third feature to date from "Take Shelter" director Jeff Nichols, has been on my mind a fair bit recently -- more than I'd customarily expect for a film I only kinda-sorta liked when I saw it two months ago. But I'm wearing my pundit's hat rather than my critic's one as I write this, and as the first rumblings of the fall festival season are heard in the near distance, one question about the film seems rather pertinent: put plainly, where the hell is it?

Of the 22 films that unspooled in Competition at Cannes back in May, 16 have already secured US distribution. The exceptions are, by and large, understandable ones: Carlos Reygadas's "Post Tenebras Lux" is proudly impenetrable esoterica, with or without a Best Director award, "After the Battle" is politically remote and critically drubbed, while "Paradise: Love" is an explicit arthouse provocation that broaches touchy themes of race and female sexuality. Alain Resnais's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" may have more name appeal than any of these, but its concentric theatricality makes it a mighty hard sell to non-French audiences.

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<p>It's also probably safe to assume the Best Visual&nbsp;Effects category has a serious contender.</p>

It's also probably safe to assume the Best Visual Effects category has a serious contender.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The trailer for Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' sure is pretty

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
If nothing else, the film will join a healthy cinematography field this year

Back during CinemaCon I was a little harsh on gun-jumpers quick to shout "OSCAR!" in response to footage shown from Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." Then when I caught the out-of-context flying fish scene in front of "Prometheus," I was just left a bit cold, if curious.

Well, while I won't outright offer a mea culpa (tossing that word around after 10 minutes is just too steep), I will say I understand why that footage must have been so captivating. Because the just-released trailer is full of scope, wonder, imagination and sheer cinematic passion. It signals what will at the very least be a singular vision, and knowing that vision is coming from Ang Lee has me very, very excited.

Based on the fantasy novel by Yann Martel, the film tells the spiritual story of an Indian boy (Pi) who survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific with a Bengal tiger.

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