<p>Roland Emmerich on the set of &quot;Anonymous&quot;</p>

Roland Emmerich on the set of "Anonymous"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Roland Emmerich honored with the Crystal Quill Award for Shakespeare drama 'Anonymous'

Past honorees have included director Baz Luhrmann and producer Mark Gordon

Sony is holding a special screening of Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous" tonight on the lot after bowing the film at Toronto last month. The occasion isn't typical, though. Emmerich is on hand, along with entertainment attorney and author Bert Fields, to receive the Crystal Quill Award for contributions to the Shakespeare authorship debate.

"Anonymous," of course, depicts the Oxfordian point of view, that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the true author of William Shakespeare's classic works. The film was actually met with a slightly more welcoming reaction at Toronto than I had originally anticipated.

You might recall I was a huge fan of the film when I saw it just before Telluride. "I think it’s [Emmerich's] best work yet," I wrote at the time. "[Screenwriter John] Orloff has spun a fascinating yarn, itself of near Shakespearean tragedy. It’s a complex interplay of relationships and motives, incest and politics that is ultimately about the power of the written word to change hearts and minds, the enduring nature of art and, above all, the integrity of an artist."

Read Full Post
<p>Elizabeth Olsen in&nbsp;Sean&nbsp;Durkin's &quot;Martha Marcy May Marlene&quot;</p>

Elizabeth Olsen in Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Meet 'Martha Marcy' star Elizabeth Olsen

Searchlight rolls out the publicity wagon for the stunning debut performance

Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" is a film that has stuck with me, ever since I saw it well over a month ago. I imagine most who caught it at Sundance in January feel the same way. It's a film with a tangible presence, skillfully crafted and assembled and with a dynamite debut performance at the center of things.

Indeed, Elizabeth Olsen's performance is the impetus for an upcoming list that will chart the best of debut performances across the history of film (chime in with your favorites here if you like to make sure nothing is slipping through the cracks). It's absolutely award-worthy, and if you're asking me, more layered and achieved than the most recent Sundance babies in the Best Actress category, Gabourey Sidibe, Jennifer Lawrence, Melissa Leo and Laura Linney.

Fox Searchlight has always been an intriguing match for the material, but I'm happy to see that, as ever, they are clearing a path for people to get a load of the demanding material on their slate this year. For Olsen, the studio released a nice little interview featurette yesterday. Have a look at that after the jump, but beware, there is talk of the film's finale toward the end of the clip and that discussion might easily be considered SPOILERS to some.

Read Full Post
<p>Chris Cornell</p>

Chris Cornell

Credit: Press Here Publicity

Interview: Chris Cornell on writing 'The Keeper' for 'Machine Gun Preacher' and music in film

Part One: The Soundgarden front man has a unique soundtrack history

Chris Cornell is having a pretty big year.

After announcing in 2010 that his Seattle grunge-pioneering band Soundgarden was getting back together, he's been on the road for the better part of 2011 with the group. He went out on his own in the spring for his "Songbook" tour, a leg of intimate solo acoustic shows highlighting a number of the songs he's written over the years, whether with Soundgarden or his other high-profile collaboration with members of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave. He's off to Australia now for another wave of those and this week announced fall and winter dates for a second US leg.

He has an original song in Marc Forster's "Machine Gun Preacher" called "The Keeper" that is featured in the "Songbook" tour. The song, which could be a contender for Oscar recognition later this season, has been showcased on the late night talk show circuit over the last few weeks.

Meanwhile, grunge is celebrating a 20th birthday of sorts this year as a wave of pomp and circumstance has greeted the anniversary of Nirvana's "Nevermind" album dropping on the industry in September of 1991. That moment unleashed the Seattle music scene on unsuspecting consumers and rock fans who were, at the time, desperate for something more.

To that end, Cornell is also a considerable presence in Cameron Crowe's "Pearl Jam Twenty," a rock documentary chronicling that band's two-decade sprawl that spends plenty of time detailing the Seattle scene of which Cornell and his band were very much a staple. Oh, and somewhere along the way he'll find time to head back into the studio to crank out Soundgarden's first original album in 15 years.

A busy year indeed. In the first of a two-part interview today, Cornell discusses writing "The Keeper" and his history with music in film over the years.

Read Full Post
<p>Jessica Chastain talks about one of her five films in release this year, &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain talks about one of her five films in release this year, "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Jessica Chastain explains the audition process for Terrence Malick and 'The Tree of Life'

2011's 'it' girl recalls first meeting with the elusive auteur

What else can we say about Jessica Chastain at this point that isn't bordering on over-saturation? The girl is killing it this year, from Jeff Nichols' "Take Shelter" at Sundance to Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" at Cannes to "The Help" and "The Debt" to close out the summer, with "Coriolanus" still to come.

Malick's film is set for a DVD/Blu-ray bow one week from today, and it should be a hot seller among cinephiles, at the very least. I have a screener around here somewhere and I've been meaning to put it in and get a load of how it plays on the small screen. I imagine it won't have the same impact, as Malick is the sort who always lends a bit of scope and majesty to his work that just feels at home on the big screen.

The elusive auteur has always been a point of fascination by those eager for any morsel of info on his process. When footage dropped a few weeks back of him directing Christian Bale in a new film at the crowded Austin City Limits festival, it was like Sasquatch in the wild or something. Well the same people who clamored for a look at that will be interested in a new, albeit brief video Fox Searchlight has made available in advance of next week's home video release.

Read Full Post
<p>Jeremy&nbsp;Irvine in &quot;War Horse&quot;</p>

Jeremy Irvine in "War Horse"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

A little more of Steven Spielberg's 'War Horse' revealed as the film's UK trailer drops

Will the still unseen contender have the goods?

Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" is still one of the great unknowns of the season. Touchstone Pictures smartly stirred some mid-summer buzz by dropping a teaser trailer for the film in advance of the Oscar season. It got people talking but it also set the film up as a sight-unseen frontrunner, what with all that Oscar bait dripping off of it.

Today, via Empire, the UK trailer has hit the web. Lots of crying, lots of emotion, heavy John Williams score - it's kind of just an extension of that teaser. And the production value appears to be, naturally, outstanding. Is this going to be the one to beat? Is it just too easy to chalk something like this up? Is it destined to fall? Who knows?? Have a look at the new trailer after the jump.

Read Full Post
<p>Bill Nunn's iconic Radio Raheem tells you about &quot;love&quot; and &quot;hate&quot; in Spike Lee's &quot;Do the Right Thing&quot;</p>

Bill Nunn's iconic Radio Raheem tells you about "love" and "hate" in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing"

Credit: Universal Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 films about politics

With 'The Ides of March' on the way, a state of the filmpolitik union

When Kris invited your thoughts on “Take Shelter” last week, one reader’s comment in particular caught my eye: Jessica claimed to have felt cheated by the film’s ending, which she described as “too right-wing.” The comment struck me as interesting not because I agreed with it at all – for me, Jeff Nichols’s markedly ambiguous psychological drama doesn’t forge any political affiliations in its study of security and paranoia – but because it demonstrates how almost any film can become political if viewed through a certain lens.

It was a comment I bore in mind as I began assembling this week’s list, which Kris and I had already decided would be dedicated to political cinema – a category into which one of this week’s major releases, George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” rather less arguably falls. If political subtext is often in the eye of the beholder, how exactly does one define what a political film is? It’s certainly not as simple as "films about politicians," though that’s a long and distinguished list in itself, and one which certainly contributed to my eventual Top 10.

Read Full Post
<p>The making of a razor blade-shaped metal poster for David Fincher's &quot;The&nbsp;Girl with the Dragon&nbsp;Tattoo&quot;</p>
<br />

The making of a razor blade-shaped metal poster for David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"


Credit: Mouth-Taped-Shut.com

Razor blade 'Dragon Tattoo' with Reznor and Ross accompaniment

'Mouth Taped Shut' delivers another 'cool' nugget

It's always interesting to watch the marketing of a David Fincher unfold. Notoriously, he eschews all traditional routes. He loathes the usual process of building interest in a film. I've been told by those close to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" that this very fact explains the recent, oddly structured four-minute trailer for the film, a bit of a middle digit to the status quo.

And hey, that's fine. Hip cred is a big deal in this day and age. And I can understand a desire to rub against the grain of what's accepted, because let's face it. The usual is boring and uninspiring and, to say the least, not very creative. But still, the typical marketing machine serves its purpose and serves it well, so it's important not to drown your film in "cool."

That's what I think "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is on the verge of doing. As a film fan and a Fincher enthusiast, I dig things like Mouth Taped Shut, the behind-the-scenes look at the film's production that Fincher launched as, again, a push back against the expected marketing machine. But if I put myself in the shoes of the general consumer, I have to imagine some of this might feel impenetrable and kind of, I don't know, elitist?

Read Full Post
<p>Seth&nbsp;Rogen wasn't able to spark big numbers for &quot;50/50&quot; on opening weekend, but perhaps the film will have some legs.</p>

Seth Rogen wasn't able to spark big numbers for "50/50" on opening weekend, but perhaps the film will have some legs.

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Oscarweb Round-up: Calling it too soon on '50/50'

Also: Oscar dominates Netflix's most rented titles and the original 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' ending

Linked in today's round-up is a piece from the LA Times' Steven Zeitchik asking what went wrong at the box office for "50/50." It's a shame, really, the instant analysis and diagnosis of films that hit and land a bit softly at the box office in opening week. "50/50" strikes me as a film that will build a bit of interest through word of mouth and maybe stack some more dollars in its favor. Then again, I thought "Warrior" would have been the same, but it started low and went further down the box office drain.

The point is, I think it's unfortunate that the popular identity of a film has to be made or broken in the media based on first weekend numbers. Look at something like "The Help," which didn't even open in the top spot but soon claimed it and stayed there for three weeks straight. Let a film find that identity before assigning one to it. Anyway, let's see what's going on in the Oscarweb today...

Read Full Post
Michelle Yeoh stars in Luc Besson's "The Lady"
Michelle Yeoh stars in Luc Besson's "The Lady"
Credit: Cohen Media Group

Michelle Yeoh stands defiant in the trailer for Luc Besson's 'The Lady'

The actress stars as Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Luc Besson's "The Lady" bowed at Toronto this year where reviews weren't exactly glowing. But Cohen Media Group picked up the film out of the fest and Michelle Yeoh's Best Actress campaign could be something to keep an eye on (as could David Thewlis in supporting if the film really catches on). Still, one wonders if the infrastructure will be there to feed a considerable awards campaign, or if the goal of turning a profit on modest spending will win out the day. Such is the balance of picking up a film like this. In any case, the trailer recently dropped via Yahoo! Movies and it gives a good overall indication of what we can expect from Yeoh and Thewlis. Check out the embed after the jump.

Read Full Post
Peyman Moaadi in Iranian Oscar submission "A Separation"
Peyman Moaadi in Iranian Oscar submission "A Separation"
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Does Sony have bigger Oscar plans for 'A Separation' and 'In Darkness'?

December release makes foreign Oscar submissions eligible in all categories

In my most recent predictions update, you might have noticed a new entry in the Best Original Screenplay category for "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi's festival darling and foreign-language Oscar hopeful. While I admit I can toy with some pretty unlikely predictions in the early stages, this one was more reasoned than most -- and really fell into place for me when I noticed that Sony Pictures Classics had set a December 30 release date for the film.

Squeezing that narrowly under the wire into the 2011 release calendar suggests to me that the distributor may have more than just a Best Foreign Language Film nomination in their sights for the critically adored Iranian film. After all, a 2011 release date isn't a requirement for the ghetto category; Sony in particular is frequently content to wait until after the nominations, or even the Oscars themselves, before opening their contenders, so as to capitalize on the awards prestige. (The category's reigning winner, "In a Better World," only opened in April.)

Read Full Post