<p>James&nbsp;Gandolfini with Delroy&nbsp;Lindo and John&nbsp;Travolta in &quot;Get Shorty&quot;</p>

James Gandolfini with Delroy Lindo and John Travolta in "Get Shorty"

Credit: MGM

James Gandolfini always made an impact, as character actor or leading man

From 'Get Shorty' to 'Zero Dark Thirty,' he always made you sit up and take note

I finally met James Gandolfini last year. It was Paramount's Christmas party at Spago in Beverly Hills and he was there with his "Killing Them Softly" director Andrew Dominik. He was, in a word, imposing. I shook his hand and it engulfed my own. He seemed incredibly unwilling to suffer a fool and I loved that about him, as I do people like Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, etc. But he was willing to engage, willing to give a glimpse of that soft-center.

Now, suddenly, he's dead. A heart attack in Italy. Too soon doesn't begin to say it, but as the news makes its way across the wires I find myself, as we always do at times like this, thinking back on the work. And Gandolfini had a wealth of it. You see, he wasn't always this star, this "name." He made his hay as a character actor in film after film, always leaving a deep impression, long before "The Sopranos" came calling.

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<p>The cast of &quot;The Neighbors&quot; perform Alan Menken's song.</p>

The cast of "The Neighbors" perform Alan Menken's song.

Credit: ABC

Emmys: Alan Menken aims for the elusive EGOT

Veteran composer could complete the set with a song for sitcom 'The Neighbors'

Earlier this month, as Kris reported, Cyndi Lauper got herself one Oscar away from joining the elite club of EGOT winners -- those over-achieving individuals who have managed to win competitive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards over the course of their careers. It is, needless to say, a pretty rare achievement: Scott Rudin became the most recent EGOTist with a Grammy win last year.

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<p>&quot;Out of the Furnace&quot;</p>

"Out of the Furnace"

Credit: Relativity Media

Soot-filled teaser poster for 'Out of the Furnace' plays up heavy-hitting cast

The film was recently re-scheduled for a November 27 release date

When it was announced this week that Relativity has moved the release date of Scott Cooper's "Crazy Heart" follow-up "Out of the Furnace" from October 4 to November 27, I wondered what that might mean for the film's original film festival circuit plans. And indeed, as I hear it now, the plan is to skip that altogether and keep the mystery going until it hits screens in a post-Thanksgiving frame that has done well for recent Oscar players like "The King's Speech," "The Artist" and "Silver Linings Playbook."

Of course, all of those films built word of mouth at Toronto, and this is a star-studded film that therefore plays well to that environment. So things could change. Relativity, per president Robbie Brenner's quote, sees awards in this film's future and that's all certainly part of the box office strategy, too (as it always is). It'll be interesting to see how it navigates the always crowded waters of that late-November, early-December frame.

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<p>&quot;House of Cards&quot;</p>

"House of Cards"

Credit: Netflix

Emmys: Netflix's 'House of Cards' and 'Arrested Development' could destroy voters’ willful ignorance

The whole of current series are at their fingertips

By now it’s clear the Emmy voting process is standardized, and flawed. Shows submit key episodes on DVD to anyone with a ballot, meaning that if voters aren’t keeping up with a series, they have only this one disc to bring them up to speed. This presents obvious problems for heavily serialized shows, and might be why "The Wire" never received any Emmy love.

The trick, it seems, is to push a show that those voters are probably watching anyways, which might explain all the "Mad Men" and "Homeland" victories. Emmy voters seem to be willfully ignorant of shows they haven’t heard about 100,000 times, quality aside. They rally behind "Game of Thrones," but can’t even throw "Happy Endings" a bone.

But there’s a new player in the game. This year, Netflix released two series that have serious Emmy potential: "House of Cards," starring Kevin Spacey and directed/co-produced by David Fincher, and the long-awaited fourth season of "Arrested Development." There have been original shows on streaming sites in the past (Hulu’s "Battleground," anyone?), but these two are the first ones with serious production quality and a deafening buzz even noise-cancelling headphone-wearing Emmy voters can hear.

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<p>Christian Bale</p>

Christian Bale

Credit: AP Photo

Christian Bale drama 'Out of the Furnace' moves to a November release slot

Brotherly-love thriller is director Scott Cooper's follow-up to 'Crazy Heart'

One film we're keeping half an eye on for the upcoming awards season is Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace," a starry thriller about fraternal loyalties tested to the limit, with a starry cast led by Christian Bale and Casey Affleck. It's Cooper's first film since 2009's "Crazy Heart," which won two Oscars (including Best Actor for Jeff Bridges), while producers include Leonardo DiCaprio, Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott.

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<p>James Franco</p>

James Franco

Credit: AP Photo

James Franco goes the crowdfunding route - but it's not all about him

Franco will foster new talent on a planned trilogy based on his own short stories

Upon reading the news that James Franco is the latest name talent to take the crowdfunding route on a new film project, my first reaction was, "Well, of course." My second reaction was, "Wait, is this only the first time he's doing this?" Franco's extracurricular activities beyond acting -- filmmaking, art, writing, what have you -- are so many and varied, and executed with such can-do scrappiness, that the crowdfunding model seems like something he might have invented just to keep them all going.

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio and&nbsp;Matthew McConaughey in &quot;The Wolf of Wall&nbsp;Street&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey in "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

3 on 3: Will 'The Wolf of Wall Street' be a new Martin Scorsese classic?

And has anyone turned it around like Matthew McConaughey has?

The trailer for Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill among others, sent a shock wave last night when it finally dropped. Set to the pulse of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" (releasing tomorrow as part of the rapper's already-leaked sixth studio album, "Yeezus"), it announced a whole new shade for the filmmaker that has brought us delicious bite in a wide array of films, from "Taxi Driver" to "Goodfellas" to "The Departed."

Will this take on capitalism's great shame, coming at just the right time, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those classics? Time will tell. Will Marty dance with the awards season once more after nearly owning it two years ago with "Hugo?" Time will tell. But for now, the electric new tease raises a couple of questions, so three of HitFix's staffers take a stab at answering them in a new installment of our "3 on 3" feature. Check out the conversation below.

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<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;Only God Forgives.&quot;</p>

Ryan Gosling in "Only God Forgives."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Only God Forgives' wins top honors at Sydney Film Fest

The divisive thriller beat Sarah Polley's 'Stories We Tell,' among others

Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" was arguably the most contentious film at last month's Cannes Film Festival, prompting a broad spread of reactions ranging from outrage in the moral-police quarter to disappointment from genre-friendly "Drive" fans to the odd rave review. But it certainly left the festival slightly worse for wear, and when it came to the awards, no one even considered the possibility of it winning anything from Steven Spielberg's jury.

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<p>Stephen Colbert</p>

Stephen Colbert

Credit: Comedy Central

Emmys: Is 'The Colbert Report' poised to break 'The Daily Show's' decade-long variety series dominance?

This might be the year Stephen Colbert receives the torch

Just as the Emmy voting period began last week, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" was all over the news, specifically for lopping off the second half of its show title. Stewart is taking the summer off to direct "Rosewater," his first feature-length film about Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari’s wrongful imprisonment in 2009. In his place strolled the cheery John Oliver, with a disarming grin and genuine gratitude that his boss would place the show in his hands for almost three months.

Even if these new, impossibly polite episodes aren’t technically in consideration for Emmys, the timing of the ensuing press blitz seems oddly convenient. After all, "The Daily Show" has won 10 Emmys in a row for Outstanding Variety Series, and they’re probably hoping for that to go up to a "Spinal Tap" 11 this year. But at the same time, Stephen Colbert has been up to his own Pavlovian trickery. The stage could be set, finally, for a change-up in the category.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Monsters University.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Monsters University."

Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

Waiting for a heavyweight in the animated Oscar race

The last six winners have been first-half releases, but what about this year?

Yesterday's Variety story about "Despicable Me 2" receiving a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Annecy Animation Festival in France on Wednesday evening didn't seem especially noteworthy. At any film festival, a standing ovation is just as often a polite formality as it is an acknowledgement of exceptional achievement, and as reporter John Hopewell noted, the French-crafted film was always likely to be warmly received at a local fest.

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