'The Homesman' leads 2014 Women Film Critics Circle nominations

'The Homesman' leads 2014 Women Film Critics Circle nominations

'Gone Girl' takes one on the chin

The Women Film Critics Circle has announced nominees for the year, and it was Tommy Lee Jones' "The Homesman" that led the way with six total nominations. The Hilary Swank vehicle picked up nods for Best Movie About Women, Best Actor, Best Male Images in Movies and Best Ensemble, among others. Even though Hilary Swank was recognized for two specific acting categories, though, she was not nominated for Best Actress. Curious.

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'Birdman' leads 2014 San Francisco critics nominations, 'The Sacrament' gets some love

'Birdman' leads 2014 San Francisco critics nominations, 'The Sacrament' gets some love

Critical faves 'Boyhood' and 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' also popular

"Birdman" has led with the most nominations from another critics group, this time the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. The film picked up nine nominations. A distant second was "Boyhood" with six. Most interesting tip of the hat? To Gene Jones, nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "The Sacrament."

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'Ida,' Timothy Spall, Marion Cotillard win 2014 European Film Awards

'Ida,' Timothy Spall, Marion Cotillard win 2014 European Film Awards

Agnes Varda honored for lifetime achievement, Steve McQueen singled out

I love the roving European Film Awards. They're held in a different city every other year, often touching base in Berlin in between. This time around, the Latvian capital of Riga was the scene, where "Ida" took top honors for European film of the year. No surprise, really, as the film led the way with nominations and won four other prizes besides, including Best Director. Timothy Spall ("Mr. Turner") and Marion Cotillard ("Two Days, One Night") took top acting honors.

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Writers E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman call 'Foxcatcher' an anti-sports movie

Writers E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman call 'Foxcatcher' an anti-sports movie

On chiseling a potent drama from a formless block of marble

"Foxcatcher" was a pretty arduous ordeal, according to screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman. It was something that only existed in the head of director Bennett Miller, who saw potent drama in the story of John du Pont and the wrestling brothers Schultz, Dave and Mark, but couldn't quite intimate what that was. Frye started chiseling away first, and latter Futterman came on to do more work. The result is a film that resonates on every level, the hard work clearly having paid off.

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Marco Beltrami on crafting another western score for Tommy Lee Jones' 'The Homesman'

Marco Beltrami on crafting another western score for Tommy Lee Jones' 'The Homesman'

He was nomianted for a western once before. Can he do it again?

In a very open Oscar race for Best Original Score, Marco Beltrami's compositions for Tommy Lee Jones' western "The Homesman" may well find themselves in the final five. He has earned two previous nominations somewhat unexpectedly ("3:10 to Yuma" and "The Hurt Locker") and his latest endeavor very much set the mood of Jones's progressive period piece.

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BFCA announces special honors for Kevin Costner, Ron Howard and Jessica Chastain
Credit: AP Photo

BFCA announces special honors for Kevin Costner, Ron Howard and Jessica Chastain

The show is set for Jan. 15, the night of the Oscar nominations

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announces nominees Monday. It will be interesting to see which way they (well, we; I'm a member) go. Unlike the other critics groups that have announced so far, the BFCA — which, it should be pointed out, isn't completely made of critics, a line increasingly blurred — is a vast organization with something like 300 members. So within that, you can get a bead on consensus. Anyway, that's Monday. For now, the organization has announced a number of special awards for the Jan. 15 ceremony.

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Tech Support: 79 tunes compete for Oscar's Best Original Song race

Tech Support: 79 tunes compete for Oscar's Best Original Song race

And yes, 'Everything is Awesome'

This year's Best Original Song Oscar race hasn't really achieved much lift-off. Of course, the contenders have been obvious. "Lost Stars" from "Begin Again" may well be the best of them, though "Everything is Awesome" from "The LEGO Movie" certainly has its punch-drunk fans.

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Santa Barbara fests' Virtuosos honorees include Boseman, Slate, Oyelowo

Santa Barbara fests' Virtuosos honorees include Boseman, Slate, Oyelowo

J.K. Simmons and up-and-comers Ellar Coltrane and Logan Lerman also tapped

If you thought the recent Golden Globes nominations slighted some of the better performances this year, allow the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to shine its spotlight on some of the underdogs (along with a few major contenders we can’t cynically roll our eyes at — they’re just too lovable). 

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Of monsters and ego: The best films of 2014

Of monsters and ego: The best films of 2014

A 'weak' year or not, there were fascinating nooks and crannies to explore

A "weak" year? It's subjective, really. And even then, it can mean a number of things. A weak year for Oscar films? OK, sure. That's just 6,000 people with a certain broad prestige taste, though. A weak year for the nuts and bolts of the trade? I've already argued not. A weak year for box office? I think we've long-proved that's a volatile game of up and down, so who cares? It's just what you like, man. And I liked some stuff.

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Ava DuVernay and Roger Ebert
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Watch 'Selma' director Ava DuVernay tell her Roger Ebert story from 'Life Itself'

The Golden Globe-nominated director recalls meeting the critic for the first time

If you still haven’t seen Steve James’ congenial "Life Itself"... get on that. Along with being a thorough look at film critic Roger Ebert’s life — the good, the bad, and the hilarious — it’s filled with anecdotes from creatives whose lives he touched over the years. A regular on almost every festival circuit, Ebert championed young filmmakers and earned friendships along the way. One such person: Ava DuVernay, who just earned a Best Director Golden Globe-nomination for her film "Selma"

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