<p>Ariane Labed in &quot;Alps.&quot;</p>

Ariane Labed in "Alps."

Credit: Kino Lorber

'Alps' wins big in Sydney, but 'Lore' is the one making waves

Dogtooth' director's latest beats such films as 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

"Alps," the follow-up feature from "Dogtooth" helmer Yorgos Lanthimos, didn't get quite the push it deserved out of last autumn's festival season. Well-received by critics upon its debut at Venice, where the Best Screenplay prize it eventually took was the very least it deserved, Lanthimos's glassily menacing comedy of extreme appropriated identity went on to provoke and perplex festival audiences at Toronto and London. Somehow, however, it acquired a reputation as more of a niche proposition than the already gruelling, yet astonishingly Oscar-nominated, "Dogtooth" -- a shame, really, since it's no less accomplished, and arguably more ambitious, an achievement. 

New York cinephiles have only until mid-July to wait for the film, which you may or may not remember cracked the top five of my Best of 2011 list. (It's not the last title on that list awaiting US release, either.) Thanks to its tough-sell status, the rest of us may have to be very patient indeed -- here in the UK, a release date has yet to be confirmed.

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<p>Quvenzhan&eacute; Wallis in &quot;Beasts of the Southern Wild&quot;</p>

Quvenzhané Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Quvenzhané Wallis: One of Oscar's better stories waiting to happen

You'll be hearing about the 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' star a lot this season

Every Oscar season needs a pulse of emotion that feels less put-on, that doesn't have that whiff of campaign or construct. Something that organically pops from the fabric of the form can be galvanizing, and though nothing can exist so pure for too long, the recognition of a tempest in the calm before it strikes means something.

Quvenzhané Wallis is that tempest for 2012. And though we've been intimating as much since the film bowed at Sundance, it bears repeating: get ready to hear a lot more about this 8-year-old natural.

Wallis was five when director Benh Zeitlin went searching through over 4,000 young ladies for the lead role of Hushpuppy in his festival sensation "Beasts of the Southern Wild." She was six when she delivered the performance in the film, one that is likely to be a formidable contender on the awards circuit this season, a road that could well end with her nabbing the record for the youngest Best Actress nominee in history.

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<p>Jonah&nbsp;Hill at the Academy's Nominees Luncheon in February</p>

Jonah Hill at the Academy's Nominees Luncheon in February

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

'Moneyball,' '21 Jump Street' star Jonah Hill joins the cast of Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

The Oscar nominee further looks to diversify his output

Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is still shooting, believe it or not, despite that Christmas Day release looming six months away. Two lengthy back-to-back shoots for Leonardo DiCaprio. That guy's gonna need a vacation.

Today comes news of further casting on the western romp, as Jonah Hill has joined the ensemble, according to a report at Deadline. Apparently Hill was in the mix for a larger role in the film at one point in time, but couldn't commit due to scheduling. It seems they've found room for him after all.

Hill has stepped up his profile plenty in the last few years. He's successfully jerked himself from the pigeonhole of broad comedy (though he'll continue to be in plenty of those, including this year's "The Watch"). An Oscar nomination for his performance in Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" certainly pushes that point.

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<p>Malin Akerman and Tom Cruise in &quot;Rock of Ages.&quot;</p>

Malin Akerman and Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages."

Credit: New Line Cinema

Tell us what you thought of 'Rock of Ages'

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The hair-metal musical hits theaters today

It didn't take great clairvoyant powers to predict that the critical majority would have their knives out for "Rock of Ages," an unapologetically synthetic karaoke musical that, with its "Glee"-generation take on 1980s excess, is surely the year's most uncool blockbuster. (Hitfix's Drew McWeeny didn't see the funny side; nor did David Poland, regular champion of the genre, who claimed he was "not exaggerating" in naming it the worst movie musical in 30 years.) Oh, well. I'm happy to be in the minority on this one, having already sung the praises of both the movie and Tom Cruise's magnetic, self-reflexive performance in it. (Golden Globe nod, here we come.) Any of you planning to make up your own mind this weekend? Report back if you do, and rank it using the button above.

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<p>Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in James Gray's untitled new feature.</p>

Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in James Gray's untitled new feature.

Credit: Liberation/The Weinstein Company

Weinsteins pick up James Gray's latest for 2013 release

Formerly titled 'Low Life,' film stars Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix

On Monday, when we launched our Oscar predictions for 2012, Kris was keen to stress how fluid the field is, how few things are set in stone. "Which of these could fall off the 2012 map and take a seat until next year?" he asked. Days later, the first of these dropouts -- not that it was ever promised to us this year in the first place -- has come to light, and the Contenders charts have already required tweaking.

But it's good news. The latest feature from unhurried New York auteur James Gray -- a starry, evidently lush period piece that's currently untitled, but was once dubbed "Low Life" -- has been acquired by The Weinstein Company for a 2013 release, and Deadline's Mike Fleming claims that the distributor has "big plans" for the film next year.

That puts a major question mark on speculation about the film cropping up in this year's autumn festivals; Gray's work, for whatever reason, has a greater following in France than anywhere else, so Cannes 2013 (where his last three features premiered in Competition) seems the natural place for the Weinsteins to unveil this one, which only recently completed shooting.

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<p>Tom Cruise in &quot;Rock of Ages.&quot;</p>

Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages."

Credit: New Line Cinema

Why 'Rock of Ages' reveals Tom Cruise as one of the last real movie stars

The actor wickedly plays himself by way of Frank T.J. Mackey

This isn't going to be a review of "Rock of Ages." That's partly because I already wrote one in short form for Time Out and the film doesn't much benefit from extended analysis, and partly because I'd only end up repeating much of Andrew O'Hehir's bang-on piece for Salon, which rightly celebrates Adam Shankman's gleefully (with emphasis on the 'glee') silly hair-metal musical for the very ersatz quality for which many other critics are punishing it. As if hair metal was ever about authenticity in the first place. Suffice to say the film aims no higher than it can hit, and as two hours of quippy, gaudily decorated Hollywood karaoke, it hits pretty squarely. I more or less loved it.

More interesting than the film, however, and more worthy of considered conversation, is Tom Cruise's fascinating central performance in it -- a turn that earns the "central" tag despite its essentially supporting status, and not just because it reduces kewpie-doll leads Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta to sparkly wallpaper whenever he deigns to show up. (You can practically feel the film cowering as he makes his dimly lit entrance. We're trembling ourselves.) 

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<p>Cover art for &quot;The Dark Knight Rises&quot;&nbsp;soundtrack</p>

Cover art for "The Dark Knight Rises" soundtrack

Credit: WaterTower Music

Listen to samples of Hans Zimmer's score for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

The music of the third film seems to call back to 'Batman Begins' a lot

Can you feel that? It's the swelling of anticipation for "The Dark Knight Rises" reaching a fever pitch. Pretty soon, the thing is gonna pop and all 165 minutes of the film will be unleashed and some may just faint with that "it's finally here!" ecstasy.

Tickets for IMAX screenings went on sale Monday, and most of the midnight screenings were pretty much zapped instantly. This after select theaters put theirs on sale back in January and, yep, sold out. Insanity. Here's hoping there's something really special underneath all that hype. (I'm sure there is.)

Christopher Nolan's Batman series has largely been defined, I think, by the work James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer have done with the music. Unfortunately, neither "Batman Begins" nor "The Dark Knight" were nominated by the Academy (the latter stirring quite the controversy in 2008, with Zimmer even going before the Academy to state his case when eligibility came into question). But that's to be expected with that branch.

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<p>The first reveal of the Dolby Theatre marquee at a special event Monday</p>

The first reveal of the Dolby Theatre marquee at a special event Monday

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision for Dolby

Tech Support: Dolby Atmos ready for its close-up with the premiere of Pixar's 'Brave'

The heavily touted surround-sound tech marks an industry forever anxious to lure audiences to theaters

Next week Walt Disney Pictures will be premiering Pixar's "Brave" in conjunction with the Los Angeles Film Festival at the newly named Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak) in Hollywood. But while it promises to be a fun time for the event at hand, the fact that it's the grand re-opening of the space is what has me a little bit more excited.

See, I've never actually been in that room. No concerts, no Cirque du Soleil, no Academy Awards (I've never sought Oscar night credentials). So I'm happy to finally case the joint, as it were. But Dolby taking over the naming rights of the facility has also brought in the added attraction of its aural upgrades, namely the company's new Dolby Atmos technology, which was first revealed at CinemaCon in April.

Touted by Dolby as "the most significant development in audio since the arrival of surround sound," the promise of Atmos is an important one: keeping the theatrical experience unique and superior to what can be accomplished at home.

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<p>Culinary doc &quot;Jiro Dreams of Sushi&quot; has been a surprise specialty hit.</p>

Culinary doc "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" has been a surprise specialty hit.

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Monitoring the documentary standouts of 2012 so far

Revised Oscar rules for the doc race should make it easier to track contenders

One of the categories we did not touch in yesterday's inaugural 2012 Oscar prediction was Best Documentary Feature, a race that routinely requires a greater magnifying glass than its narrative counterparts -- and even then, tend to defy prediction. This year, however, I have less of an excuse than usual for not building up a documentary contenders list -- because for the first time, the category's eligibility schedule is more or less in sync with the US release calendar.

You may recall the recent rule adjustments the Academy, assisted by Oscar-winning firebrand Michael Moore, recently made to a beleaguered category that, on an near-annual basis, finds a way to exclude some of the year's most significant documentaries from consideration. Last year, the critical wails were as loud as ever, as acclaimed favorites like "The Interrupters," "Senna," "Page One" and "Into the Abyss" failed to make the Academy's longlist, while a number of scarcely-seen mediocrities took their place.

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<p>Sean&nbsp;Connery and Alec Baldwin in&nbsp;&quot;The&nbsp;Hunt&nbsp;for&nbsp;Red October&quot;</p>

Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in "The Hunt for Red October"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 movies I watched with Dad

With Father's Day around the corner, a personal look my father's favorites

This article first appeared in part at InContention.com in 2009. It seemed like a good time to re-purpose it for new readers here at HitFix and to give the usual list-making shenanigans a rest for a week.

In case you’re like me and you happen to forget these things throughout the year, let today’s edition of The Lists serve as a reminder: Father’s Day is this weekend!

With that in mind, and as a personal tribute of sorts to my pops, who turns 59 this weekend in addition to celebrating his 31st Father’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d offer up a rundown of the films that remind me of those days in front of the big console television growing up back east.

My personal movie awakening came in the mid-1990s, when films like Michael Mann’s “Heat” and Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects” made me realize I wanted to have a hand in this business. But I can’t ignore the impact decades of film product had on my youth in the form of my father’s viewing habits. I didn’t like every film my Dad loved, but somehow, his taste frequently seemed to either correspond with my own or correspond with how it would eventually evolve.

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