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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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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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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Best Actor contenders include Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and more

Best Actor contenders include Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and more

We say it every year: is this the most crowded season yet?

It seems like we say it just about every year at this point, so let's say it again: the Best Actor category this season appears to be the most competitive race to date. Pity, then, that it's clearly one of the least racially diverse races we've seen yet, with minorities few and far between.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Credit: AP

Julia Louis-Dreyfus to receive Charlie Chaplin Award, should be in more movies

The 'Veep,' 'Enough Said' actress earns the British Academy's funniest honor.

Why isn't Julia Louis-Dreyfus in more movies?

Yes, there are likely personal and professional reasons that keep one of the funniest ladies in Hollywood away from the big screen, but allow us to throw up our arms and demand more. Louis-Dreyfus has dominated television since the '80s (revisit her "Saturday Night Live" work and prepare to go bananas), "Seinfeld" making her a household name and providing a curse that only she could break. The success of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Veep" rests entirely on Louis-Dreyfus shoulders. Maybe the weekly format provides a comfort, maybe Hollywood just isn't writing roles for funny women (that's not really a maybe, but let's not digress), but we're tired of the small screen having all the Julia Louis-Dreyfus fun. Her latest accolade only rubs it in.

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