<p>John&nbsp;Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in a scene from &quot;Martha Marcy&nbsp;May&nbsp;Marlene&quot;</p>

John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen in a scene from "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Interview: Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes talk 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

The film opens in limited release this Friday

The path for "Martha Marcy May Marlene" began way back at the Sundance Film Festival in January. In the cold chill of Park City, Utah, a dark yarn bewitched audiences and a breakout actress was announced to the world.

It might have been a bit of déjà vu for actor John Hawkes. Just 12 months prior, the same narrative was being spun out of the festival.

"I was thinking, 'Wow, this is so odd,'" he says. "'In less than two years I'm working with two young women who are extremely talented and dedicated and smart and have a very healthy approach to their work, and an effective one."

The two actresses in question are Jennifer Lawrence, who starred alongside Hawkes in 2010's "Winter's Bone," and Elizabeth Olsen, who shares the screen this year in "Martha Marcy May Marlene." It's probably a bit unfair that one film is so often compared to the other, but the outward parallels of the two are difficult to ignore.

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<p>A scene from James Cameron's &quot;Avatar&quot;</p>

A scene from James Cameron's "Avatar"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

James Cameron talks 'Avatar' sequels

Oceans of Pandora, get ready for your close-up

Director James Cameron is working on two sequels for his 2009 blockbuster "Avatar" at the moment, writing them back-to-back and gearing up to dive back into the world of Pandora and the Na'vi soon enough. He recently stopped by ABC's Nightline and dropped a few nuggets on what we can expect out of the next film.

"We will see the oceans of Pandora, which we haven't seen at all," he said. "That's an ecosystem that I'm dying to start designing because it's going to look spectacular. But also, again, now it narrows the spotlight instead of just nature in general or the rainforest. It focuses it a little more on ocean issues.

"Because we've got a planet that's a blue planet. From a distance, you look at it, Earth is a lot more blue than it is brown (the landmass). We're making the oceans unsurvivable for a lot of the species right now."

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<p>Stan Lee's comic book creations have been a huge part of the film industry for the last decade.</p>

Stan Lee's comic book creations have been a huge part of the film industry for the last decade.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Stan Lee tapped for Visual Effects Society's Lifetime Achievement Award

His imagination has sparked effects wizards' imaginations considerably as of late

Stan Lee's imagination has certainly given way to a fair share of blockbuster entertainments on the screen. And the comic movie feeding frenzy that started with "X-Men" in 2000 and dominated the last decade owes plenty to him.

So, I guess it makes sense for the Visual Effects Society (VES) to tap Lee for the group's Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor comes on the heels of the announcement that Douglas Trumbull will receive the Georges Méliès Award.

"As a writer there is nothing more rewarding than to see your creations brought to life on the screen," Lee said via press release. "I am indebted to all of the incredibly talented artists who have contributed to my projects."

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<p>The Pixies' &quot;Where is my Mind?&quot;&nbsp;plays audiences out in David Fincher's &quot;Fight Club.&quot;</p>
<br />

The Pixies' "Where is my Mind?" plays audiences out in David Fincher's "Fight Club."


Credit: 20th Century Fox

Oscarweb Round-up: Cameron Crowe's music-in-film picks

Also: Fundraising for 'Tyrannosaur' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' to film at Occupy Wall Street?

Cameron Crowe had a pregnant idea yesterday. How about a top 10 list of music moments in film? His list is full of unique and sometimes surprising picks, though I guess I'll forgive him for being modest enough to opt out of including "In Your Eyes" from his own "Say Anything." And judging by comments Chris Cornell made in our recent interview, I imagine the Soundgarden front man would be delighted by the "We Bought a Zoo" director's #1 choice. Lots of great picks, though. And a nice change of pace on the interwebs. [The Uncool]

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<p>A scene from Nadine Labaki's Lebanese Oscar hopeful, &quot;Where Do We Go Now?&quot;</p>

A scene from Nadine Labaki's Lebanese Oscar hopeful, "Where Do We Go Now?"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: Toronto winner 'Where Do We Go Now?' needs directions

HitFix
C
Readers
B+
Lebanon's well-intentioned Oscar hopeful as uncertain as its title

LONDON - The Lebanese feminist anti-sectarian musical comedy has hitherto been a surprisingly under-explored niche in the rich spectrum of world cinema, so it’s to the considerable credit of writer-director-actress Nadine Labaki that she spotted this yawning gap and filled it so studiously. In the wake of her chaotic if pure-hearted sophomore feature “Where Do We Go Now?,” however, it’s probably safe to consider the door on this particular sub-genre swiftly closed. The trouble with Lebanese feminist anti-sectarian musical comedies, as it turns out, is a certain inconsistency of tone, and a hard-working Labaki hasn’t quite found a way around it.

Or perhaps she has. Following a mildly received springtime debut at Cannes, “Where Do We Go Now?” has emerged as the uninvited but ultimately ingratiating party guest of the autumn festival circuit – catching everyone off-guard by taking the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, recently reserved for big-league awards bait of “King’s Speech” proportions, before being adopted by Sony Pictures Classics with a steely eye to the foreign-language Oscar. (Lebanon announced it as their official submission to the Academy shortly after its Toronto triumph.) It’s an unexpected turnaround under any circumstances, made only more surprising by a viewing of the film itself.

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<p>Natalie Portman gave a stunning debut performance in Luc Besson's &quot;The Professional.&quot;</p>

Natalie Portman gave a stunning debut performance in Luc Besson's "The Professional."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 debut performances of all time

Hunter McCracken and Elizabeth Olsen inspire a look at best-ever first-timers

With "The Tree of Life" on DVD and Blu-ray and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" opening in limited release on Friday, it seemed a good time to take stock of the best debut performances the cinema has to offer. Hunter McCracken in the former and Elizabeth Olsen in the latter offer up award-worthy work, stunning in their capacity to inhabit their characters and seek out the truth therein.

The research on this one was taxing, and I don't mind telling you, this list might be different on another day. It's tough to settle on 10 when there are so many sterling debuts to choose from. And believe me, if your favorite isn't on here, I'm sure I considered him or her.

It was heartbreaking to leave off the likes of Eva Marie Saint, Kate Winslet, William Hurt and Melanie Lynskey, as it was to ultimately eschew more recent stunners like Keisha Castle-Hughes, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Anna Paquin and the duo who sparked the idea to assemble the list.

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<p>Lucas Pittaway (left) and Daniel Henshall in &quot;Snowtown&quot;</p>

Lucas Pittaway (left) and Daniel Henshall in "Snowtown"

Credit: IFC Midnight

Review: The shaking, waking nightmare of 'Snowtown'

HitFix
A-
Readers
B+
Blood and ice in veins of remarkable Australian crime drama

LONDON - Running a close second to “Dogtooth” for the title of Unlikeliest Oscar Nominee Of 2010 was “Animal Kingdom,” a modest, star-challenged Australian crime saga with Greek-tragedy overtones that an enterprising Sony Picture Classics, prioritizing strong reviews over invisible box office, rode all the way to an acting nod for late-blooming breakout Jacki Weaver. Pithy, bleak and shot through with nasty wit, it no doubt flummoxed many a pastel-hearted Academy voter checking it out post-nominations.

Alas, one can only imagine what they’d make of “Snowtown,” a blinding debut feature from Justin Kurzel that similarly negotiates the criminal exploits of a bungalow-dwelling family Down Under – only to make “Animal Kingdom” look positively “Neighbours”-like in comparison. That they’re unlikely to cross paths is probably better for all concerned: Kurzel’s film, tellingly and adventurously adopted in the US by IFC’s Midnight arm, is ingeniously passive-aggressive cinema that places great stock in its own thorniness without ever resorting to idle shock-broking. Less keen on being liked than being felt, it unsparingly lays out the ugly details of its true-crime story for the audience to assimilate themselves; some have found its approach heartless, but I was struck by its subject-countering grace.

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<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;The Ides of&nbsp;March&quot;</p>

Ryan Gosling in "The Ides of March"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: How about cutting the double-dippers a break?

Also: David Fincher on Scarlet Johansson and 'Dragon Tattoo' and a list of underdog actors

Mark Harris cherry picks three areas of the Academy's rulebook that really need some reconsideration. And one of them drives me absolutely nuts, too. The stipulation that an actor can't be nominated for two different films in the same category. Not that I spend a lot of time trying to understand it, but really, I can't figure out what the point of this nonsense is. Is it some kind of bizarre fairness thing? I don't know. But Ryan Gosling gives two of the year's best performances, and by golly, he should be nominated for each if voters see fit! #pissinginthewind [Grantland]

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<p>&nbsp;Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis in &quot;The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn&quot;</p>

 Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis in "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Listen to John Williams's 'Tintin' score

Spielberg's faithful composer aims for a 46th Oscar nod

As you know from my review, Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" delivered the goods at yesterday's first international press screening -- while one or two broadsheet critics have been sniffy about the mo-cap technology, it's fair to say the outlook is bright for a film that Paramount was cautious about promoting. Though the film perhaps faces more cultural hurdles across the pond, I'm confident the US reception will be equally healthy ahead of its December opening.

All of which makes "Tintin" an intriguing wild card in terms of its awards potential. We don't know yet where the Academy's animation branch will land on the film, or how grudgingly they might treat it even if it is ruled eligible for the animated feature Oscar. And its proximity to Spielberg's "War Horse" on the US release calendar raises interesting questions: previously positioned as the appetizer to the live-action epic, what if the animated film is better received? Will they find themselves duelling for a spot in certain technical categories, or could there be room for both? Could "Tintin" even be -- gasp -- the Best Picture nominee nobody saw coming?

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<p>Olivia Colman in &quot;Tyrannosaur,&quot; for which she won Best Actress at the Chicago International Film Festival.</p>

Olivia Colman in "Tyrannosaur," for which she won Best Actress at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Credit: Strand Releasing

More US festival awards for 'The Artist' and Olivia Colman

Silent-film homage takes prizes at both Chicago and Hamptons fests

In case you hadn't yet got the message that people love "The Artist," the French-made Oscar hopeful got further festival valentines over the weekend, taking prizes at both the Chicago and Hamptons International Film Festivals -- the Audience Award in the latter case, and the Founder's Award in the Windy City. (Apparently, that goes to the film across all categories that best captures the spirit of the Chicago fest. Now you know.)

We've discussed before how Michel Hazanavicius's film is the type of novel crowdpleaser that tends to win scads of audience awards without even trying, building the platform for a healthy awards run outside the quarantined festival zone. (If I was surprised it didn't take the equivalent prize at Toronto, I'm even more so after watching Nadine Labaki's "Where Do We Go Now?" yesterday -- but that's another conversation.) This pair of wins may be small potatoes in themselves, but they're just further fuel for the fire of an inevitable Oscar big-hitter. The film, incidentally, has its UK premiere at the London Film Festival tomorrow, and could well add to its trophy cabinet there.

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