The Humbling
Credit: Millenium Entertainment

Al Pacino is a talentless has-been in first trailer for 'The Humbling'

Can smooching Greta Gerwig save his soul?

The first trailer for Barry Levinson's "The Humbling" teases so much that could — should? — go right. There's Levinson, whose never let his eclectic career hit an easy groove; There's star Al Pacino, a legend everyone's gunning for no matter how many "Righteous Kill"-like duds come along; There's the esteemed Philip Roth providing source material with Buck Henry adapting; And there's Greta Gerwig, one of the strongest young actresses in the business. Throwing Dianne Wiest, Charles Grodin, and Dan Hedaya on top is like a sundae with three cherries.

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Wild Tales
Credit: Sony Classics

We've already broken the record for foreign language Oscar submissions

77 countries have already declared ahead of the Academy's official announcement

The Academy has not yet unveiled the official list of contenders for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race (expect a press release some time this week), but keeping track of the entries as the various countries have submitted, we can go ahead and report that we've already broken last year's record of 76.

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Contender Countdown: Should the Best Picture frontrunners fear 'American Sniper?'

Contender Countdown: Should the Best Picture frontrunners fear 'American Sniper?'

Don't discount 'Gone Girl' yet

If it's mid October that means a number of expected Best Picture contenders are increasingly becoming questionable players. Guess things are getting serious, huh?

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Jeremy Renner doesn't need to justify being in 'The Avengers' franchise or 'M:I-5'

Jeremy Renner doesn't need to justify being in 'The Avengers' franchise or 'M:I-5'

Whether its a superhero or 'Kill The Messenger' he chooses what he's passionate about

The film has gone a bit under the radar, but Michael Cuesta's "Kill the Messenger" deserves your attention this weekend. Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), the film chronicles how the San Jose Mercury News beat writer discovered that the CIA was knowingly funding drug smuggling into the United States during the 1980s. It's not an exaggeration to say breaking the story destroyed his life.

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<p>&quot;Guardians of the Galaxy&quot;</p>

"Guardians of the Galaxy"

Credit: Marvel Studios

'Guardians,' 'Gone Girl,' 'Interstellar' scores get a jump on awards season

Honors to be presented at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in November

Somehow over the years the Hollywood Music in Media Awards have escaped me. The event's fifth annual slate of nominees were announced today, and it's a pretty standard assortment of names we've been considering at the forefront of this year's Best Original Score Oscar race, from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to Hans Zimmer to the ubiquitous Alexandre Desplat.

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<p>&quot;Unbroken&quot;</p>

"Unbroken"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tech Support: Films like 'Interstellar' and 'Into the Woods' set for Oscar's craft races

Kicking off the ninth season of 'Tech Support' here at In Contention

Welcome back to the ninth season of Tech Support here at In Contention. The crafts coverage banner has become somewhat of a staple here at this site, as we seek to shine light upon the below-the-line artists whose crafts make our movies immeasurably richer. And over the next 10 weeks we will analyze each of the Academy's craft Oscar races: Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Score, Original Song, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. The order will be mixed, to keep things fresh between audio and visual categories, and complement new releases and developments in the race as a whole.

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Trash

Stephen Daldry's 'Trash' applauded at Rio Film Festival for its non-Brazilian Brazilianness

But will it ever makes its way to American shores?

Are we ready for the "Brazilian answer to 'Slumdog Millionaire?'"

Rio Film Festival audiences quickly granted "Trash," the latest from "The Hours" director Stephen Daldry, that label after the the film pleased crowds with comedy, child wonder, and "offshore" energy (as trades love to refer to it). Polling attendees after the film's applause-filled premiere, a Variety reporter found many locals agreed that, despite "Trash" not being a true Brazilian movie, "it is not non-Brazilian in the best sense." Many praised it for being more entertaining than most "favela" (or, Latin America slum) dramas.

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Before I Go to Sleep
Credit: Before I Go to Sleep

Nicole Kidman gasps her way through campy, 'Memento'-like 'Before I Go to Sleep' trailer

Rowan Joffe's triller costars Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

There's comfort in watching Oscar winners shake off the respect and responsibility of prestige drama to cut loose in genre screamfests. A pressure builds around post-win Best Actors and Best Actresses, a tall order to find projects worthy of their new stature. As history tells us, following your "Monster's Ball" moment with "Catwoman" can be the beginning of the end. But dabbling in cinematic camp isn't the same as accidentally starring in a ill-fated disaster. Nicole Kidman is the queen of high/low-art balance, giving her ridiculous new thriller "Before I Go to Sleep" a kind of cred that isn't born from "Academy Award winner…."

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15 great scores from rockers turned film composers

15 great scores from rockers turned film composers

'Gone Girl' is part of a rich lineage

With "Gone Girl" in theaters, your ears are being treated to yet another untraditional feat of film music composition from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It's their third collaboration with director David Fincher, and maybe their most intriguing. We talked to Reznor recently and hope to go even deeper on the work later in the season, but for now, let's consider the tradition his and Ross' contribution joins.

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<p>&quot;Mr. Turner&quot;</p>

"Mr. Turner"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'Mr. Turner' himself would have approved of going digital on Mike Leigh's biopic

Plus: The benefit of a longstanding filmmaker/DP relationship

Filmmaker Mike Leigh has been wanting to make a biopic about English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner for a long time now, and there was surely no other choice for cinematographer than his longtime collaborator Dick Pope. The two have excelled at a breed of tableau filmmaking that can feel at once antiquated and invigorating. There are single frames from "Another Year" and "Vera Drake," among others, that arrest me still. But for "Mr. Turner," it was absolutely essential.

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