<p>Mo'Nique</p>

Mo'Nique

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Oscar winner Mo'Nique signs on for her first film since 'Precious'

Actress to star in 'Blackbird' opposite Isaiah Washington

Nearly four years since she took home an Oscar for her devastating performance in "Precious," Mo'Nique is finally reemerging with a new film.

The actress has signed on to star in "Blackbird," an adaptation of the 2006 coming-of-age novel by Larry Duplechan that she will also executive-produce through her and husband Sidney Hicks' Hicks Media production banner. Also onboard for the film, which is set to be directed by Patrik-Ian Polk ("Noah's Arc," "The Skinny"), are Isaiah Washington ("Blue Caprice"), Terrell Tilford, Gary L. Gray, Kevin Allesee, Torrey Lamaar, Nikki Jane, D. Woods and newcomer Julian Walker.

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<p>Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori in &quot;The Grand Budapest Hotel.&quot;</p>

Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori in "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Ralph Fiennes gets official in new clips from 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Wes Anderson's latest premieres in exactly one month's time

We have exactly one month to go before Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is unveiled on the opening night of the Berlin Film Festival. We recently featured the film in our Most Anticipated Prestige Films list, but if your appetite still needs whetting, Fox Searchlight have unveiled another two clips from the all-star comedy, both focused principally on the dashing manager of the titular hotel, played by Ralph Fiennes, and his wide-eyed new lobby boy Zero, played by Tony Revolori.

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<p>Amy Seimetz and Shane Carruth in &quot;Upstream Color.&quot;</p>

Amy Seimetz and Shane Carruth in "Upstream Color."

Credit: eprb

Georgia critics big on '12 Years a Slave' and 'Upstream Color'

'Mud' finds some Southern support

The Georgia Film Critics' Association is a young and fairly small group: they've been going three years and have 10 members, which means their nominee list is a bit less groupthink-influenced than most. "12 Years a Slave" might lead the field with 11 nods, but there are unusual choices elsewhere: while "American Hustle" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" share second place with seven mentions, so does Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color," which landed Carruth nods for directing, writing, cinematography and score. Meanwhile, "Mud" found some Southern comfort with a Best Picture nod. Full list below; everything else at The Circuit.

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<p>Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in &quot;The English Patient,&quot; Saul Zaentz's third Best Picture winner.</p>

Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in "The English Patient," Saul Zaentz's third Best Picture winner.

Credit: Miramax Films

Saul Zaentz's Oscar-gilded career makes the case for selectivity

The late producer won three Oscars from 10 films

I had a busy weekend, and in the rush of it, somehow missed the news that producer Saul Zaentz passed away at the age of 92. As well as being an accomplished producer and industry figure, Zaentz is a name familiar to seasoned Oscar-watchers, having won the Best Picture award on three occasions: for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), "Amadeus" (1984) and "The English Patient" (1996).

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<p>Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin in &quot;Blue Jasmine.&quot;</p>

Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin in "Blue Jasmine."

Credit: Sony Classics

Roundup: Why studios need to get creative with the calendar

Also: Dressing '12 Years a Slave,' and January wasteland gems

"It makes no sense to me that Hollywood distributors mark off particular times of year as no-go zones for major theatrical releases. That practice serves only to tell our audiences to stop paying attention at certain times of the year -- and that benefits nobody." So writes National Association of Theater Owners president John Fithian, in a piece where he looks over the 2013 release calendar, and calls for distributors to be more creative with their scheduling, citing "Blue Jasmine" and "Gravity" as examples of films that bucked conventional programming wisdom to great effect, and the summer animation glut as an example of tentpole excess. [Hollywood Reporter]

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<p>Dane DeHaan in &quot;Kill Your Darlings.&quot;</p>

Dane DeHaan in "Kill Your Darlings."

Credit: Sony Classics

BAFTA picks Rising Star nominees, including Dane DeHaan and Lea Seydoux

Winner will be chosen by the public

The BAFTA nominations in all other film categories will be announced on Wednesday, but the British Academy got the ball rolling this morning will the five nominees for their Rising Star Award -- now in its ninth year, and the only BAFTA category in which the winner is determined by a public vote. The nominees, meanwhile, are chosen by a jury of journalists and industry professionals, which this year included Gemma Arterton (a nominee herself for the award a few years ago), producer Pete Czernin ("The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel") and chairwoman Pippa Harris, deputy head of BAFTA's film committee. And the five names they've chosen are...

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Dear Academy members: Don't forget these contenders

Dear Academy members: Don't forget these contenders

Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Oscar Isaac, James Franco and more

No one likes to be told what to do, but with just two real days left for Academy members to submit their votes for the 86th Academy Awards ask our Oscar friends to indulge us in some unsolicited advice.  It may be their last chance to do the right thing before history is signed, sealed and delivered.

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Forest Whitaker holds his honor alongside colleagues and presenters Michael B. Jordan and Angela Bassett.
Forest Whitaker holds his honor alongside colleagues and presenters Michael B. Jordan and Angela Bassett.
Credit: Getty Images

Forest Whitaker reflects on an amazing year at Santa Barbara Kirk Douglas Award fete

Angela Bassett and Michael B. Jordan turn out to toast the multi-hyphenate

GOLETA, Calif. — Forest Whitaker has a little ritual on the many occasions he has rung in the new year in Santa Barbara. He goes down to the water, sits in the sand with his family, looks out over the ocean and up at the stars, and he reflects on the year that was.

As he transitioned into 2014 last week, there was certainly plenty for the actor to reflect upon. Whether it was giving a SAG-nominated performance in "Lee Daniels' The Butler," appearing in other films like "Black Nativity" and "Out of the Furnace" or producing the critically acclaimed "Fruitvale Station," Whitaker stretched himself considerably in 2013.

He was therefore a perfect choice for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's 8th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence, which was presented to him at a fundraising dinner in advance of the fest Sunday night.

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<p>Jonah Hill</p>

Jonah Hill

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Jonah Hill defends 'Wolf of Wall Street': 'The movie is not glorifying this behavior'

Actor takes on critics of the controversial Martin Scorsese drama

Jonah Hill isn't buying the recent criticisms surrounding "The Wolf of Wall Street."

While being honored at Variety's Creative Impact Awards and 10 Directors to Watch brunch in Palm Springs on Sunday, the actor said he doesn't believe the Martin Scorsese drama glorifies the behavior of penny-stock fraudster Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his associates.

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<p>Amy Adams in &quot;American Hustle.&quot;</p>

Amy Adams in "American Hustle."

Credit: Sony Pictures

'12 Years a Slave' tops North Carolina critics' nominations

Amy Adams scores for 'American Hustle,' but not Jennifer Lawrence

Nope, we're not quite done with the regional critics' awards yet. North Carolina has weighed in with their nominations, and while the list reads much as you'd expect -- "12 Years a Slave," of course, leads with seven mentions -- there are a few quirks and variations here and there. Sarah Paulson notches up a Best Supporting Actress nod for "12 Years a Slave," for example, alongside the ubiquitous Lupita Nyong'o, while John Goodman scores a supporting actor bid for "Inside Llewyn Davis." Most refreshing of all is a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Francois Ozon's "In the House," though the film oddly doesn't place in their Best Foreign Language Film category. Full list below; everything else at The Circuit.

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