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Jedi Marketing Trick: Is J.J. Abrams Deflecting 'Star Wars' Questions With Inscrutable Answers?

I don't know if J.J. Abrams did this intentionally, but, if he did, it's a real Jedi Master move.  I just read the interview that the filmmaker gave to Empire magazine in the U.K. in conjunction with the upcoming release of Star Trek Into Darkness, and the way he answered the inevitable Star Wars question was so loopy and inscrutable that I have to wonder if that's his strategy for minimizing — in the nicest way possible —Episode VII talk during the STID promotional push. more »

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Light of Day, Part 2: Paul Schrader Taking Wait-And-See Approach To Lindsay Lohan's Plea Deal

News of Lindsay Lohan's plea deal puts her one step closer to a comeback. Back in February, I wrote that if Lohan could avoid going to jail over charges of reckless driving and lying to police and reinstitute some self-discipline into her life, her raw performance in Paul Schrader's The Canyons could mark the beginning of her redemption as an actress. more »

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Iron Woman? If Pepper Potts Has A Future In Armor, She Needs To Kick Villain Ass

If you've  read about the Iron Man 3 footage that Marvel Studios has shown to bloggers, then you know that, during the Mandarin's helicopter attack on Casa Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) ends up flying to safety in one of the armored suits. It sounds like a cool scene, and I won't be surprised if it's a set-up for another later in the movie. But I'm not so thrilled about Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige's recent comments that Potts could suit up for her own adventures in future Iron Man installments. more »

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Hooray For The Humans ! 'Jurassic Park 4' Director Choice Means It Won't Be About Just Dinosaurs

The news that Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures are taking a chance on Safety Not Guaranteed director Colin Trevorrow for Jurassic Park 4 is good news indeed for moviegoers who need more than a bunch of computer-generated dinosaurs to hold their attention. more »

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Which 'Avengers' Cast Members Are Most Expendable?

There's an interview with Robert Downey Jr. in Collider that's got me thinking about the actors in Marvel's very lucrative superhero stable.  When the website's Steve "Frosty" Weintraub asked the actor if he's going to sign on for several more Marvel movies or take them "one at a time", Downey responded that he wasn't sure but then added candidly: "Let’s just say that me, the agents and the lawyers are having a bit of a ball right now."   more »

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'The Aristocrats' Director Paul Provenza: The Onion's Apology To Quvenzhané Wallis Was 'Problematic'

When The Onion's CEO Steve Hannah publicly apologized last week for the satirical newspaper's controversial Oscar-night tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis, two thoughts crossed my mind: 1) It's not a good day for comedy when a satirical publication says it's sorry for a joke that was not actually about the Beasts of the Southern Wild actress. And 2) what would Paul Provenza make of this? more »

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Oscars On Ablixa: Five Observations About The Excitement-Challenged Academy Awards

The early ratings for last night's Oscars indicate that the telecast may have racked up its best numbers since 2007, according to Deadline. Which is good news for Seth MacFarlane, especially if you ignore that the biggest viewership increase came after The Walking Dead ended on AMC and that six of the nine Best Picture nominees had done more than $100 million at the box office.  Otherwise, what do you really remember  from last night's telecast besides Jennifer Lawrence's face plant, the Jaws play-off theme (which was funny exactly once)  and the steamed look on Ben Affleck's mug when he came out on stage after MacFarlane's Gigli remark?

And that brings me to my first Oscars recap observation:

1. Was everybody in the Dolby Theater on Ablixa?  Beginning with the show's weirdly cold opening, the telecast was devoid of the emotional highs and lows, pomp and circumstance that the Oscars used to have and haven't had for a few years. During the Movieline liveblog, I wondered if Harvey Weinstein had gotten Trazodone, which is name-checked in Silver Linings Playbook, added to the Academy Awards gift bag. But I now think the Side Effects antidepressant reference is more appropriate. Even MacFarlane's most out-there insults seemed even-keeled. New York Magazine slammed the Family Guy creator for being sexist, but I thought his bigger sins were being mediocre and cold. It's as if the digital revolution didn't just rewrite the way the film industry makes and releases movies, it reduced the way Hollywood generates excitement into a kind of binary code.  Everything's either a 1 or a 0. That's  what last night felt like, and the only time some of that old-timey Oscar excitement crept back into the broadcast was when Affleck gave his speed-speech. The privilege of being able to make movies is obviously still exciting to him, and he's good at spreading that giddy feeling.

2. The Oscars should not aspire to be the Tonys.  So, I understand why there was a preponderance of musical numbers last night: MacFarlane is a show-tunes freak, Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were all nominated, and Barbra Streisand was on board to perform a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch. But that doesn't mean they were a good thing.  The show was listless to begin with, and  all those musical numbers didn't help. Plus, the Chicago (2002) and DreamGirls  (2006) tributes left me wondering if I'd slipped and fallen into the Hot Tub Time Machine. I half-expected to see Jackman join MacFarlane for some sort of tribute to The Music Man (which Family Guy has parodied more than once).  I'm not going to suggest this is part of a trend, by the way, but have you noticed that a similar things has been happening over at Saturday Night Live?   The practice of having musical guests hosting and performing — as Justin Bieber just did — is not helping the show's comedy cred, and, for a number of seasons now,  an unusual number of skits seem to be built around musical performances. (On a related note, as a big Lonely Island fan,  I just have to say that "YOLO" clip with Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar was lame.)


3. The only real surprise of the night was Christoph Waltz's win:  Coming as it did near the beginning of the telecast, Waltz's Best Supporting Actor Oscar — which had been predicted in some quarters but mostly as a longshot — left the impression that a night of surprises was ahead. And then everything unfolded as predicted. If you followed all of the pre-season Oscar punditry, I bet you were bored.

4. Was Ben Affleck's comment about not holding grudges directed, in part, at Seth MacFarlane?  One of the more interesting observations Affleck made during his Best Picture acceptance speech was, "You can't hold grudges. It's hard. But you can't hold grudges."  The Argo director could have been referring to the Academy's decision to snub him for a Best Director Oscar, but, he just as well could have been referring to MacFarlane's remark that he'd gone from "starring in Gigli to becoming of the most respected filmmakers of this generation."  The line didn't seem so sharp to me. Gigli is an awful movie. But Deadline reported that Affleck was pissed off by the remark, and the filmmaker did launch a half-hearted jab at MacFarlane when he came out on stage shortly after the Oscars host uttered the punchline. (Affleck said something about it still being possible for MacFarlane to "turn the show around," but wouldn't it have been cool if he just said, 'Argo, fuck yourself"?)  The grudges remark, which Affleck delivered during his Best Picture acceptance speech, was a nice zen-like catch-all that demonstrated that Big Ben wasn't just an Oscar winner, he was an enlightened Oscar winner.

5. You know that the media is burning out on Oscar coverage when... Reporters are asking Jennifer Lawrence if she tripped on purpose. I'm surprised no one asked if Jessica Chastain was the culprit.


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'Zero Dark Thirty As Best Picture?' Movieline's What The What?! Oscar Picks

Argo to win it all.” This has been the Oscar pundit thesis statement ever since Ben Affleck was left off the Best Director list and promptly blew over the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards in a whirlwind weekend of Oscar analysis. Every award Argo has gathered since that weekend last month has added to the confirmation bias. Affleck and his film established themselves as the storyline of the 2012 Academy Awards. more »

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May The Force Be With Ewan! Why Disney Should Give McGregor An Obi-Wan Spinoff

Now that Ewan McGregor has voiced his enthusiasm for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi again, Disney should make it so. The actor, who's out promoting Jack The Giant Slayer told MTV News that he thought reprising his role as the Jedi Master was "a good idea" and had clearly done some thinking about where an Obi-Wan standalone movie could fit into the about-to-be-rebooted Star Wars franchise — the gap between Episode III and IV "before Alec Guinness, there's that period where he's in the desert....That might be my window there, to tell that story."  McGregor said that he didn't know what Obi-Wan actually did in the desert, but added: "We could make up some stuff." more »

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The Tarantino Tarantella: Harvey Weinstein Changes Tune On Movie Violence

What a difference an Oscar-nominated picture can make. Last July, in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado movie-theater shootings, Harvey Weinstein generated headlines, and some snickering in the film industry, when, in an interview with the Huffington Post,  he called for a filmmaker summit on movie violence. But now that he's got  Quentin Tarantino's bloody, gunplay riddled Django Unchained movie vying for a Best Picture Oscar, his perspective has changed.  In a recent interview with Deadline, Weinstein, who's never been content to ride in the back seat,  said he has to be "a follower, not a leader" on the issue. more »

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I Don't Feel Good! Brian Grazer Says James Brown Biopic Is Ready To Start Casting

To paraphrase James Brown, I don't feel good after reading Rolling Stone magazine's interview with producer, Brian Grazer, about the status of the biopic that he and Mick Jagger are producing on the late soul singer. more »

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Hey, Uma, Oprah: Will Seth MacFarlane Be The Oscars' Next David Letterman?

When the Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday, viewers across the globe were treated to Seth MacFarlane tossing out jokes that were exhausted before they were tried. Every line about how early the nomination announcements were fell flat on the West coast, so I can only imagine how weak they played in time zones that were  already awake. His general onstage demeanor wasn’t doing him any favors either. He appeared shaken and unprepared, and while I doubt the nomination announcement was heavily rehearsed, I’m concerned about the man’s ability to compose himself on a global stage. He's good on video and audio, but how is he live?  (Recall last year's Emmys, where he couldn't even find his mic.) more »

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Why Quentin Tarantino Needs to Stop Deflecting The Violence Question

Quentin Tarantino probably had a vastly different idea of how the months leading up to the 85th Academy Awards would transpire for him. As he began to promote Django Unchained, he no doubt expected to spend the majority of Awards Season talking about America's legacy of slavery, about his decision to portray it as unambiguously horrific, and how the peculiar institution has historically been treated in film.
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Academy Award Nominations: Best Song Picks Are 'Les Miserables'-y Safe

So you might have heard that the 85th Academy Awards nominations have been announced . Good for you, person who wakes up early in the morning. This year's nominees contains some shocking snubs — no best director for Tarantino or Bigelow? — as well as some pleasant surprises, but if the majority of the nominees will have us bitching or raving until March, the Best Original Song category plays it as frustratingly safe as ever. more »

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Academy Award Nominations — What Were The Biggest Snubs & Shocks Of The 2013 Oscar Noms?

Whatever your Oscar nomination predictions were, you were wrong: This morning's Academy Awards announcements by hosts, Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone, jolted Oscar-watchers awake with surprises and snubs so shocking they made everyone forget, within minutes, that MacFarlane made a Hitler joke, live, before six in the morning — setting the tone for his upcoming hosting gig.

From all the Beasts of the Southern Wild love, to the freezing-out of shoo-ins, Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ben Affleck (Argo), and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) from the Best Director race, which were the biggest shocks of the morning?
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