<p>Pedro Almodovar on the set of &quot;I'm So Excited!.&quot;</p>

Pedro Almodovar on the set of "I'm So Excited!."

Credit: Sony Classics

Roundup: Almodóvar to be honored at European Film Awards

Also: Towne joins 'Mad Men,' and the best of the worst of 'Diana'

It hasn't been the best professional year for Pedro Almodóvar, with his sex comedy "I'm So Excited!" having opened to some of the chilliest reviews of his career, bypassing the festival circuit in the process. (Unsurprisingly, Spain will not be putting it forward for Oscar consideration.) But here's a silver lining: he'll receive the European Achievement in World Cinema Award at this year's European Film Awards in December. ("I'm So Excited!" is also eligible for those, though this award suggests they're not anticipating any big wins there.) “I am very thankful for this award," says the director. "From its creation, the European Film Academy has been very generous with me and my closest collaborators... I share with them the joy of this award.” Almodóvar has five previous EFA wins to his credit, most recently for "Volver" in 2006. [EFA]  

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Sandra Bullock: Alfonso Cuarón gave me the balls to do 'Gravity'

Sandra Bullock: Alfonso Cuarón gave me the balls to do 'Gravity'

Plus: How 'War Horse' puppeteers made her fly

It can't be easy being the third choice for a coveted role, but after viewing "Gravity" it will be hard to imagine anyone besides Sandra Bullock playing Dr. Ryan Stone in Alfonso Cuarón's groundbreaking new film.

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<p>Guillermo Del Toro (left)&nbsp;and Alfonso Cuar&oacute;n at the Toronto Film Festival last week for the premiere of &quot;Gravity&quot;</p>

Guillermo Del Toro (left) and Alfonso Cuarón at the Toronto Film Festival last week for the premiere of "Gravity"

Credit: AP Photo/Eric Charbonneau

Alfonso Cuarón says 'Pacific Rim' made 'Gravity' feel like a 'tiny Sundance film'

High praise from one of Guillermo Del Toro's close filmmaking friends

We're going to have a few nibbles of a recent interview with director Alfonso Cuarón leading up to a larger piece dealing specifically with his work on the space spectacle "Gravity." Today, with the summer movie season not too distant a memory just yet, I thought I'd ask Cuarón for his thoughts on "Pacific Rim."

It's not arbitrary. You might recall back in 2006 when Cuarón's "Children of Men" was in the race with Guillermo Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Babel" that much was made of the "three amigos," this trio of Mexican filmmaker friends from way back who had accomplished their greatest feats in one year, each of them in the thick of the circuit. All three ended up with nominations, whether for writing, directing or editing. "Gravity" is Cuarón's first films since "Children of Men," though Del Toro and Iñárritu have respectively made "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" and "Biutiful" in the interim.

"I love 'Pacific Rim,'" Cuarón tells me. "I know that's Guillermo and his passion, since I first met him and was going through his film collection and seeing all these Japanese films. As a kid I was a fan, myself, of this Japanese show called 'Ultraman' and I could see all of his amazing love for that."

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The statue of Paddington Bear in London's Paddington train station.
The statue of Paddington Bear in London's Paddington train station.
Credit: Guy Lodge

Producer David Heyman on the contemporary relevance of 'Paddington'

'It's about an immigrant trying to find a home.'

It may or may not come as a surprise to you that one of my most eagerly anticipated titles of 2014 is "Paddington," a British family film that begins shooting at the end of this month. Chances are some American readers are unfamiliar with the antics of Paddington Bear, the accident-prone hero of British author Michael Bond's best-selling series of children's books, but he was a rather significant part of my childhood.

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<p>Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in &quot;Blue is the Warmest Color.&quot;</p>

Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in "Blue is the Warmest Color."

Credit: Sundance Selects

French distributor on why 'Blue is the Warmest Color' doesn't need foreign Oscar

"No one cares about this category," says Wild Bunch

Every year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race brings its share of sore points, and the sorest at this early stage is France's inability to enter Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" into the race -- an eligibility issue that ultimately resulted in the country selecting lower-profile period biopic "Renoir" to represent them. It's not exactly an unusual situation -- plenty of festival hits aren't released in time to compete in that year's foreign Oscar race. ("Renoir," after all, premiered in Cannes last year.)

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<p>Richard Linklater at the Sundance Film&nbsp;Festival in&nbsp;January</p>

Richard Linklater at the Sundance Film Festival in January

Credit: AP Photo

Richard Linklater to receive Director Tribute at the Gotham Awards

The independent film awards ceremony takes place on Dec. 2

I often go back and watch "Slacker" just for the unencumbered burst of independent creativity. It has a different spirit than the films that came after it, films like "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction," etc., that would define the indie film movement.

And Linklater has maintained that spirit, setting up shop in Austin, Texas long before it was the posh thing to do. Free of the Hollywood ties even if he mingled with them from time to time. So if ever there was someone fit for an independent film fete, he's the guy. And with "Before Midnight" on the circuit this season, the Independent Filmmaker Project has seized the opportunity to honor him with a Director Tribute at the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Awards.

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<p>Bruce Dern and Will Forte in &quot;Nebraska.&quot;</p>

Bruce Dern and Will Forte in "Nebraska."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bruce Dern stares into the abyss in new 'Nebraska' trailer

Can the veteran make good on his Cannes win in Alexander Payne's latest?

Kris and I disagree on the merits of Alexander Payne's new dramedy "Nebraska," in which veteran Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Dern and "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Forte play a father and son mending their fractured relationship on a bittersweet road trip through the eponymous state.

Reviewing the film at Cannes, where Dern wound up winning the Best Actor award, I was left cold, saying that "Payne can't seem to decide if he's coddling these old-school Midwesterners for their rudely rustic values or sneering at the sheer narrowness of their worldview." Kris, on the other hand, really connected with it at Telluride a few weeks ago, praising it for "[ringing] a lot of genuine notes while never losing its sense of humor." One thing we both agreed on (where others don't) is that it's definitely a leading vehicle for Dern, who hasn't had a role this generous in decades. 

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio

Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: DiCaprio goes the presidential biopic route

Also: Wrapping Toronto, and NBR and AFI set awards dates

Leonardo DiCaprio, it seems, has never met a prestige biopic he didn't like. We've already seen his respective takes on Howard Hughes (which netted him an Oscar nod), J. Edgar Hoover and the somewhat less immediately recognizable Frank Abagnale Jr., and will soon see him as business shark turned motivational speaker Jordan Belfort in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Next up: Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the US, already played to Oscar-nominated affect by Alexander Knox in a 1944 biopic. DiCaprio will co-produce the new film, based on a recently published biography by Pulitzer Prize winner A. Scott Berg. No denying the star's conscientiousness and commitment, but would anyone else like to see him do a romantic comedy at some point? [Deadline

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<p>Saoirse Ronan in &quot;How I Live Now.&quot;</p>

Saoirse Ronan in "How I Live Now."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Saoirse Ronan compares Wes Anderson vs. Ryan Gosling behind the camera

From 'How I Live Now' to 'Grand Budapest Hotel' to 'How To Catch A Monster'

TORONTO - Saoirse Ronan has been in this business a long time. She may only be 19-years-old, but the best supporting actress nominee for "Atonement" has been a working actor for a decade.  She's already collaborated with filmmakers such as Joe Wright, Peter Jackson, Peter Weir, Neil Jordan and Gillian Armstrong. She's shot all over the globe and walked the red carpets at some of the greatest film festivals in the world.  Today, however, Ronan is lying on a couch in a downtown Toronto hotel room as we meet to discuss her latest endeavor, Kevin Macdonald's "How I Live Now."

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<p>Ben Affleck at last year's Critics' Choice Movie Awards just hours after being snubbed by the Academy's Directors Branch.</p>

Ben Affleck at last year's Critics' Choice Movie Awards just hours after being snubbed by the Academy's Directors Branch.

Credit: AP Photo

BFCA (again) stakes out the night of the Oscar noms for 19th annual Critics' Choice awards

This year's ceremony will air on The CW on Jan. 16, 2014

I was pretty vocal last year about how the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association began to lean too heavily on red carpet glitz (adding more opportunities to honor celebrities with a wealth of new, dubious, categories) while sacrificing potentially great on-camera moments (leaving the great Tony Kushner to accept his screenplay award for "Lincoln" un-televised during a commercial break). Though it might be an uphill battle, I stand by those criticisms as a member of the organization handing out the awards.

This year, the BFCA has staked out the same territory it did last year for its annual awards show: the night of the Oscar nominations. The 19th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards will be held on Jan. 16, 2014, where the BFCA will hope to continue whatever hot topic conversation will have begun earlier that morning with the announcement of the Academy Award nominees. Last time, that conversation was significant: Ben Affleck, director of "Argo," had not been nominated for Best Director by the Academy. Yet his film went on to win the BFCA's Best Picture award, leaving the slighted helmer to say upon accepting the prize (tongue-in-cheek, of course), "I'd like to thank the Academy."

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