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Present-Day Take On ‘Les Misérables’ From Rob Thomas Lands At Fox With Penalty

By | Thursday August 29, 2013 @ 9:40am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Rob Thomas is turning to a great European classic for his next series project. The Veronica Mars creator has teamed with actor-writer Graham Norris for a drama inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Rob Thomas Prods, has landed at Fox with script commitment plus penalty. Written by Norris, the contemporary take is a primetime soap about a brilliant lawyer running a legal exoneration program who fights to evade the consequences of his own unjust conviction many years before. He must navigate high society, continue his mission of saving innocent people, and manage his tumultuous family and romantic life — all while staying one step ahead of a ruthless U.S. Attorney who refuses to let the ghosts of the past die. Thomas is executive producing with frequent collaborators Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge who all worked with him on UPN’s Veronica Mars, ABC’s Cupid and Starz’s Party Down. Norris serves as supervising producer.

Les Misérables has been made popular in the U.S. and around the world by the success of the eponymous musical and last year’s feature that starred Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway and was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. This is the second classic 19th century French novel to get a contemporary take as a soapy primetime drama. ABC’s Revenge was inspired … Read More »

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Comcast Beats Q1 Earnings Forecasts With Help From NBCU Cable Networks

By | Wednesday May 1, 2013 @ 5:12am PDT

Here’s yet another mixed-bag Big Media report on this unusually busy morning, although the 2% pre-market jump in Comcast‘s shares suggests that the earnings growth here is especially impressive. The cable and entertainment colossus generated $1.65B in net income in Q1, +13.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $15.3B, +2.9%. Analysts thought that revenues would come in a little higher, at $15.4B. But earnings of 54 cents a share beat forecasts for 50 cents. NBCUniversal did its part, with operating cash flow +17.2% to $953M — despite a 2.4% drop in revenues to $5.34B. (It would have been up 2.4% if you factor out last year’s $259M from NBC’s Super Bowl coverage.) Cable network revenue was +4.6% to $2.2B with operating cash flow +6.2% to $859M. Comcast says that affiliate fees were up 8.6% while ad price increases offset lower ratings to raise sales 2.5%. The story’s drearier at the broadcast operation: Its operating loss increased to $35M from $14M last year while revenues fell 18.5% to $1.5B. (The drop would be just 5.3% without last year’s Super Bowl.) The main culprits, the company says, were “lower primetime ratings at the NBC broadcast network and lower content licensing revenue.” In Filmed Entertainment, the company says that Les Miserables helped to propel revenues +2% to $1.2B with operating cash flow up to $69M from $6M in the period last year. Theme Parks also performed with revenues +12.2% to $462M and operating cash flow +10.3% to $173M. CEO Brian Roberts says that following his company’s acquisition of General Electric’s stake in NBCU it will “drive innovation and operational excellence to deliver superior entertainment and communications choices for consumers.” Read More »

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‘Les Miserables’ Passes $400M At Global Box Office

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 1:28pm PST

Universal’s musical continues to hum along. After taking three Oscars on Sunday including for Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables is crossing the $400 million mark in worldwide box office today, according to the studio. Internationally, the film has grossed $254.4 million, with North American grosses at $147 million. The Working Title-produced Les Mis is the second-highest-grossing musical of all time behind Universal’s Mamma Mia!

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OSCARS: Winners By Picture

By | Sunday February 24, 2013 @ 10:44pm PST

WINS BY PICTURE

Life Of Pi Oscars 2013 WinnerLife Of Pi 4
Argo 3
Les Miserables 3
Skyfall 2
Django Unchained 2
Lincoln 2
Amour 1
Silver Linings Playbook 1
Searching For Sugar Man 1
Brave 1
Paperman 1
Inocente 1
Curfew 1
Zero Dark Thirty 1
Anna Karenina 1

Related: Nikki Finke’s Oscar Live-Snark

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OSCARS: This Year Has Much In Common With 1962 Race

By | Saturday February 23, 2013 @ 8:00am PST
Pete Hammond

Many have said 2012 has been the most remarkable year for movies in the Oscar race in a very long time. The dense list of quality contenders makes for quite a race, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of another legendary year for cinema a half-century ago.

The year 1962 was an embarrassment of riches, and in many ways, just an embarrassment for the Academy. Yes, they did include the year’s two best films, To Kill A Mockingbird and (eventual winner) Lawrence of Arabia, in the best picture lineup and both have endured as certified classics. Both were worthy. But then the Academy padded out the remaining three spots with popular studio offerings like The Longest Day, The Music Man, and most egregiously, the bloated Marlon Brando remake of Mutiny On The Bounty. OK, these films might have been decent entertainment, but were they the best the Academy could do 50 years ago? Hardly.

Related: OSCARS: Hammond’s Final Down-To-The-Wire Predictions For 2013 Winners & Losers

Just consider the films that didn’t make the cut: Blake Edwards’ Days of Wine and Roses; John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, Birdman Of Alcatraz, And All Fall Down; Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker; Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?; Otto Preminger’s Advise & Consent; Stanley … Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Les Mis’ Cast, Jennifer Hudson, Catherine Zeta-Jones To Sing Live In Musicals Tribute; Show Producers Reveal More Behind-The-Scenes Details

By | Wednesday February 20, 2013 @ 4:32am PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls and Catherine Zeta-Jones for Chicago will be performing their Oscar-winning roles on Sunday’s Academy Awards as part of a celebration honoring the resurgence of movie musicals of the last decade. In the same segment revisiting their roles from this year’s Best Picture contender Les Miserables will be several of the film’s key cast members including Oscar nominees (and former Oscar hosts) Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway along with Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tevit, Samantha Barks, and Helena Bonham Carter.

This year’s Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who last month announced the musical tribute would be part of their show, have kept the participants who will be singing a secret until finally first breaking the news to Deadline this morning.

They have produced musicals for film like Chicago and Hairspray, for television films like Cinderella and The Music Man, on Broadway with How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and Promises Promises, and on series TV with their current NBC drama Smash. Music is obviously in Zadan and Meron’s DNA and, as evidenced by the musical talent they are luring to the telecast, that is clearly what their Oscar show is going to be all about. Host Seth MacFarlane will be merging music with his comedy bits right from the opening as well. Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Les Mis’ Production Design

By | Saturday February 16, 2013 @ 2:04pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor

The set for an empty street—easy, right? Not when you’re working on the movie version of the hit stage musical Les Misérables for director Tom Hooper (2010’s Academy Award winner for The King’s Speech). Production designer Eve Stewart says Hooper was such a stickler for authenticity in re-creating 1832 Paris that, for the first few days, “there was an awful lot of horse poo about—real horse poo”. To avoid a rebellion on the part of cast and crew, real horse droppings were quickly replaced with fakes. By phone from London, Stewart talked about this and other challenges in creating just the right look for Rue de la Chanvrerie as described in Victor Hugo’s classic novel. 1) Buildings in 1832 Paris, the year of the June Rebellion depicted in the film, “were still very medieval, not like the Paris you see now”, says Stewart, who was able to find historic newspaper pictures to use as guides. Tall buildings lined streets so narrow that people could throw furniture out upper windows and quickly create a barricade. These buildings, constructed at London’s Pinewood Studios, are 40 to 50 feet high. “It was actually cheaper to build them that height than to do it by computer”, Stewart says. More modern Parisian streets were made wider, says Stewart, so revolutionaries could no longer block passage “with a couple of armchairs”. Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

Pete Hammond

As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1

For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it. Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Original Song Race Handicap

By | Tuesday February 12, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.

This year’s crop of contenders—a doc tune, a musical melody, a jazz ditty, and an Indian lullaby—are similar to the genres that the category has recognized in recent years. Pop-radio songs, which arguably have been sparse over the last 10 years with the exception of the Beyoncé-performed Dreamgirls song “Listen” and Eminem’s Oscar winner “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile, marked their return this year with Adele’s James Bond ballad “Skyfall”. A glance at this year’s best song nominees:

“Before My Time” | Chasing Ice

Music and lyrics by J. Ralph

Where it’s heard in the film: End credits

Backstory: Looking to bring emotion to glacial meltdown, J. Ralph, who scored the Oscar-winning docs The Cove and Man on Wire, enlisted the breathy vocals of Scarlett Johansson and the touching high notes of violinist Joshua Bell. “As the song plays over the final sequence of the film”, Ralph says, “I wanted to create a transportive, hypnotic experience where the audience could absorb all they had seen, as if Scarlett is singing to each person individually. The song explores the dialogue between mankind and nature and the perception of time. In the end, no one is bigger than Mother Nature”.

Odds: Given the Academy’s penchant for songs that earnestly jibe with a film’s sensibility, don’t count out “Before My Time” just because it’s tagged to the end … Read More »

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OSCARS: The Supporting Actor/Actress Races

Pete Hammond

This season’s supporting actor and actress Oscar races can be summed up in one word: Winners! A remarkable seven of the 10 nominees actually already have at least one Oscar on their mantel, and all of them have been previously nominated. Unlike the marquee lead races, not a single newcomer has been invited to the supporting party. In fact, all five supporting actor nominees are past winners, a rare occurrence that proves Feb. 24 will indeed be veterans’ day at the Dolby Theater. And though there is a strong frontrunner emerging for the women, the male race is one of the most wide open in years, with no one taking the lead to date and the outcome a real question mark. So how did they all get here? Here’s the rundown.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin | Argo

This veteran actor got his first lead actor Oscar nomination in 1966 for his film debut in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. And then a second just two years later for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. But it was a near-record 38 years before Arkin returned to Oscar’s inner circle, finally winning a supporting actor prize for Little Miss Sunshine. Now, six years later, he is back in contention as the Hollywood film producer in Argo, and the reason is simple: He not only gets the best lines, he’s playing … Read More »

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Big BAFTA Best Film Win Sends ‘Argo’ Into Oscars With Huge Momentum

Pete Hammond

Actual betting on the Oscars is outlawed in the U.S.. But it is permissible in England – and afterBAFTA today’s British Academy Awards show which just wrapped in London, people would be wise to put some pounds on Argo‘s Best Picture Oscar chances. In what is becoming a familiar sight every weekend, Ben Affleck once again was in the winner’s circle at BAFTA, and along with Best Film he also took Best Director, a prize for which he is famously not nominated at the Oscars even though his movie has 7 nominations – just as it did at BAFTA. So add another strong precursor award to the Argo stockpile that now includes PGA, DGA, SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards. Last night, it also added an honor for Chris Terrio’s adaptation at the USC Scripter Awards. (Terrio wasn’t there to accept; instead he was in London for the BAFTAs where he lost to David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook – the only award that film picked up.)

Related: BAFTA Winners: ‘Argo’, Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Emmanuelle Riva

So how reliable is BAFTA as an Oscar predictor? Pretty good in recent years, although spotty sometimes in acting categories. But the two organizations  have several hundred of the same members, and last year BAFTA and Oscar matched … Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1

By | Friday February 1, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST

The first in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.

Lincoln

What the Academy says: 12 nominations (Picture: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg; Directing: Steven Spielberg; Lead Actor: Daniel LincolnDay-Lewis; Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones; Supporting Actress: Sally Field; Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner; Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Original Score: John Williams; Film Editing: Michael Kahn; Production Design: Rick Carter, Jim Erickson; Costume Design: Joanna Johnston; Sound Mixing: Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ronald Judkins)

What the public says: $168.0M domestic boxoffice; $14.5M international (as of Feb. 1)

What Pete Hammond says: From the announcement that Steven Spielberg was going to direct Lincoln, this one had the hallmarks of a film that defines what the Oscars are all about. The fact that it was not an easy road for the iconic director and his screenwriter, Tony Kushner, only adds to the gravitas of the whole project. And with Daniel Day-Lewis scooping up best actor awards left and right—plus a sterling cast of supporting players led by nominees Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field—this one smells like a winner. With a leading Read More »

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OSCARS: Anything Goes In This Year’s Race

Pete Hammond

With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincoln just after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Les Misérables’, ‘Dreamgirls’, ‘Chicago’ To Receive Special Tribute

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 7:19am PST

Along with a tribute to James Bond’s 50th anniversary, Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today they’ll also pay homage to recent movie musicals during the ceremony February 24. The pair knows a thing or two about big-screen tuners with credits that include Footloose, Hairspray and 2002′s Oscar winner Chicago. The latter is part of the showcase as is this year’s Best Picture nominee Les Misérables. Here’s the release:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Oscars will include a special celebration of movie musicals of the last ten years, the telecast’s producers announced today.

Read More »

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Golden Globes Movies: Winning Films Enjoy The Taste Of Victory, But Does It Really Help Oscar Chances?

Pete Hammond

If anyone thought the Golden Globes results were going to add any clarity to the topsy-turvy atmosphere that has so far characterized this year’s Oscar race,  forget it. In a week that has offered crushing disappointment and major highs to just about every serious contender, the Globes mixed it up Sunday but cleared up no questions about who is emerging as a frontrunner in one of the tightest and most interesting Academy Award contests in years. No one can figure this one out yet, and if they say they can, ask for proof because it just simply doesn’t exist. Yet.

On the other hand, one thing on which everyone seemed to agree was that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler knocked it out of the park as hosts and the show moved along in style. One former producer of an Academy Awards show sitting in the audience told me afterwards, “if I were an Oscars producer this year I would be worried. This was a very good show”.

Voting for Globes was in before the Academy Award nominations were announced on Thursday and before it was known the Acad’s directors branch had snubbed Argo director Ben Affleck while the rest of the Academy offered the film seven nominations. His directorial victory at Wednesday’s  Critics Choice Movie Awards and subsequent Best Picture win along with the same two wins at Sunday’s Golden Globes … Read More »

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Golden Globes: Film Scorecard

By | Sunday January 13, 2013 @ 8:41pm PST

WINS BY MOTION PICTURE DISTRIBUTOR
Sony Pictures - 4
The Weinstein Company – 3
Universal Pictures – 3
Warner Bros. Pictures – 2
Sony Pictures Classics – 1
Touchstone Pictures – 1
20th Century Fox – 1
Walt Disney Pictures – 1

WINS BY MOTION PICTURE
Les Miserables – 3
Argo – 2
Django Unchained – 2
Amour – 1
Brave – 1
Life Of Pi – 1
Lincoln – 1
Silver Linings Playbook – 1
Skyfall – 1
Zero Dark Thirty – 1

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OSCARS: Nominations By Picture

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 7:03am PST

Related:
OSCARS: Nominations By Studio, Distributor

OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?
OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
MOTION PICTURE NOMINATIONS BY PICTURE – 85TH AWARDS

Lincoln - 12 nominations
DreamWorks Pictures/20th Century Fox Production (Walt Disney/20th Century Fox)
Daniel Day-Lewis – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Tommy Lee Jones – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Sally Field – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cinematography
Costume design
Directing
Film editing
Original score
Best picture
Production design
Sound mixing
Adapted screenplay

Life Of Pi - 11 nominations
Fox 2000 Pictures Production (20th Century Fox)
Cinematography
Directing
Film editing
Original score
Original song – “Pi’s Lullaby”
Best picture
Production design
Sound editing
Sound mixing
Visual effects
Adapted screenplay

Les Misérables - 8 nominations
Universal Pictures and Working Title Production (Universal)
Hugh Jackman – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Anne Hathaway – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Costume design
Makeup and hairstyling
Original song – “Suddenly”
Best picture
Production design
Sound mixing

Silver Linings Playbook - 8 nominations
Weinstein Company Production (The Weinstein Company)
Bradley Cooper – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Robert De Niro – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Jennifer Lawrence – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Jacki Weaver – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Directing
Film editing
Best picture
Adapted screenplay

Argo – 7 nominations
Stage 16 Pictures Production (Warner Bros.)
Alan Arkin – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Film editing
Original score
Best picture
Sound editing
Sound mixing
Adapted screenplay

Zero Dark Thirty - 5 nominations
Columbia Pictures Production (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Jessica Chastain – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Film editing
Best picture
Sound editing
Original screenplay

Amour – 5 nominations
Les Films du Losange/X Filme Creative Pool/Wega Film Production (Sony Pictures Classics)
Emmanuelle Riva – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Directing
Best foreign language film (Austria)
Best picture
Original screenplay

Skyfall – 5 nominations
Eon Productions Ltd./Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures Production (Sony Pictures Releasing and MGM)
Cinematography
Original score
Original song – “Skyfall”
Sound editing
Sound mixing

Django Unchained - 5 nominations
Weinstein Company and Columbia Pictures Production (The Weinstein Company)
Christoph Waltz – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Cinematography
Best picture
Sound editing
Original screenplay

Anna Karenina – 4 nominations
Working Title Films Production (Focus Features)
Cinematography
Costume design
Original score
Production design

Beasts of the Southern Wild - 4 nominations
Cinereach and Court 13 Production (Fox Searchlight)
Quvenzhané Wallis – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Directing
Best picture
Adapted screenplay

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 3 nominations
New Line and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Production (Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Makeup and hairstyling
Production design
Visual effects

The Master - 3 nominations
Ghoulardi Film Company/Annapurna Pictures Production (The Weinstein Company)
Joaquin Phoenix – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Amy Adams – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Read More »

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BAFTA Nominations Announced: ‘Lincoln’ Leads Followed By ‘Les Mis’ & ‘Life Of Pi’; Spielberg & Hooper Not Among Director Field

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leads the pack of nominees (see full list below) for the 65th EE BAFTA Awards, which were announced this morning in London by Alice Eve and Jeremy Irvine. Lincoln scored 10 nominations, though it did not pick up a directing mention. Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables each got nine nods, but Hooper (nominated here for The King’s Speech in 2010) failed to make the directing category. Working Title’s Tim Bevan, who has both Les Mis and Anna Karenina vying for prizes this year, told me he was surprised that Spielberg and Hooper missed out on directing slots but called it an “interesting year because [nominations] seem to be spread all over the place.” The takeaway, he said, is that Spielberg and Hooper are “swimming in a pool of extreme talent this year. Which is great for the movie business.”

Meanwhile, Skyfall, now the highest-grossing film in UK history, was nominated eight times, yet was noted in the Best British Film category and not the overall Best Film group. The only picture to cross over those two fields was Les Mis. The trio of Life Of Pi, Ben Affleck’s Argo and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty have both Best Film and Best Director slots. The two Best Director candidates whose films were not mentioned in the Best Film group are Michael Haneke for Amour (although it did also land Foreign Language, Original Screenplay and Leading Actress nods) and Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, which also picked up nominations for Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz and Editing. Read More »

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Awards Race Moves To Palm Springs: Foreign Film Contenders, Glitzy Gala And Lots Of Oscar Talk

Pete Hammond

Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.

42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30  high-profile Academy members (including  Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning). Read More »

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