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'Argo' Named Best Film By Roger Ebert For 2012

'Argo' Named Best Film By Roger Ebert For 2012

There are Top 10s galore this time of the year, but no doubt Ben Affleck is taking a bit of extra notice on this one. Uber critic Roger Ebert gave Argo his choice for the Best of 2012.

He called the year "one of the best recent years in cinema," noting that he wrote over 300 reviews over the year, which is a personal record. He also noted that it was "unusually difficult" to leave out films in the top ten.

Picking Argo, Ebert noted that the feature had the "classic values of a Hollywood thriller" and noted the story, based on true events, "reveals surprises about a story we all lived through. It is told with classic comedy and tension."

Oscar power-house Lincoln placed third on Ebert's list after Ang Lee's Life of Pi. He called Daniel Day-Lewis' performance "powerful," while describing Pi as a "miraculous achievement."

Also making the list was Sundance winner Beasts of the Southern Wild and perhaps surprisingly considering the momentum of the Oscar race, End of Watch Oslo, August 31 and A Simple Life.

Notables not making the cut in the top ten at least include Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook.

Ebert has long taken a course of his own. You can see his comments on his Top 10 here.

Roger Ebert's Top 10:

1. Argo by Ben Affleck

2. Life Of Pi by Ang Lee

3. Lincoln by Steven Spielberg

4. End Of Watch by David Ayer

5. Arbitrage by Nicholas Jarecki

6. Flight by Robert Zemeckis

7. The Sessions by Ben Lewin

8. Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin

9. Oslo, August 31st by Joachim Trier

10. A Simple Life by Ann Hui

Newswire || ||

Ben Affleck Is Not Senate Bound

Ben Affleck Is Not Senate Bound

After speculation mounted last that Ben Affleck would possibly hang up his filmmaking and acting hats for a U.S. Senate run from Massachusetts, the Argo director and star said he won't be running for office at least for the time being.

Last week, Boston's CBS affiliate reported that Massachusetts Democrats were wooing Affleck to run for the seat that will be vacated by John Kerry after his likely confirmation as Secretary of State, replacing Hillary Rodham Clinton. The low probability that he'd run did get a bit of a boost when his publicist didn't directly deny he was considering a run and he didn't completely say 'no' when asked about running during an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday.

But, Affleck took to Facebook to give final confirmation of his Senate bow out. He will continue to work for the Eastern Congo Initiative, a non-profit group that gives humanitarian aid in the war-torn African region and other causes. Affleck has gone to Congress to testify on behalf of his work for the group. In his Facebook message, he also gives a shout-out to the presumed new Secretary of State.

Affleck's Facebook statement follows:

I love Massachusetts and our political process, but I am not running for office. Right now it's a privilege to spend my time working with Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), supporting our veterans, drawing attention to the great many who go hungry in the U.S. everyday and using filmmaking to entertain and foster discussion about issues like our relationship to Iran.

We are about to get a great Secretary of State and there are some phenomenal candidates in Massachusetts for his Senate seat. I look forward to an amazing campaign.

Happy Holidays to All.

[Source: A.P.]

Oscar Index || ||

Oscar Index: Critics Have 'Amour' For 'Zero Dark Thirty' & 'The Master,' But Who's 'Les Miserables' This Christmas?

Oscar Index: Critics Have 'Amour' For 'Zero Dark Thirty' & 'The Master,' But Who's 'Les Miserables' This Christmas?

Academy ballots were mailed out last week to 5,586 voting members, the most significant news on the Oscar front. Not that it was a quiet week in Lake Globesbegone. The New York Times’ critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis both named Amour 2012’s best film, as did the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan. The AP triumvirate of Christy Lemire, David Germain and Jake Coyle anointed Argo, Moonrise Kingdom and Amour, respectively.
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Newswire || ||

[UPDATED] Ben Affleck For Senator? He And His Rep Aren't Denying It

Actor Ben Affleck and Cindy McCain, wife of US Senator John McCain,(L) arrive prior to testifying on Congo before the House Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 8, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Ben Affleck  and his spokesman aren'texactly batting down a report that the Argo director's name has been floated for the Massachusetts Senate seat that Sen. John Kerry will vacate if President Obama chooses him to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. more »

Awards || ||

AARP Gives Its Top 10 'Movies For Grownups'

AARP Gives Its Top 10 'Movies For Grownups'

Popular culture may suffer from youth obsession and the movies may be front and central in perpetuating it all, but older folks have made strides this year in capturing the box office dollar with titles like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Hope Springs. So, why not have the nation's most prominent organization for people hitting their Golden Years weigh in on the year's best movies?

AARP — less popularly known as the American Association of Retired Persons — gave its Top Ten films of the year, joining a chorus of other groups this time of the year giving their lists. The interest group noted that 2012 was "hot for both older movie-goers and movie-makers," citing Golden Globe nominations for Helen Mirren, Richard Gere, Denzel Washington, Bill Murray and Judi Dench.

AARP's picks include titles by directors such as Ben Affleck, David O. Russell and Kathryn Bigelow which feature stars that aren't exactly on the cusp of receiving Social Security benefits, but their picks seem to indicate themes of maturity over age.

AARP dubbed their 2012 best films list as a "Year-end Top Ten Movies for Grownups." Their picks follow:

       Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
       Les Miserables
        The Sessions
        Silver Linings Playbook
        Zero Dark Thirty

Movies made for older audiences became an issue earlier this year after comments by an actress perfectly comfortable embracing senior citizenry in roles such as the Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey and as Muriel Donnelly in box office hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Maggie Smith made waves criticizing Hollywood's youth obsession, pointing out that films that portray older people have historically performed well.

"It seems to me there is a change in what audiences want to see," she said. "I can only hope that's correct, because there's an awful lot of people of my age around now and we outnumber the others. I don't think films about elderly people have been made very much. But I think of [films like] Cocoon and Driving Miss Daisy and they always seem to be fairly successful, so it's a bit baffling as to why everybody has to be treated as if they were five years old."

Awards || ||

Golden Globes Nominees React! Bigelow, Affleck, Hathaway & More Respond To Nominations

Golden Globes Nominees React! Bigelow, Affleck, Hathaway & More Respond To Nominations

Happy Golden Globes Nomination Day everyone! While you mull over this year's crop of obvious picks ("Argo f*** yourself," Academy) and not so obvious surprises (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Hope Springs, Taylor Swift and Jon Bon Jovi? Are we really doing this, HFPA?) let's delight in the reactions of the chosen few who'll vie for Golden Globes glory on Sunday, January 13. (Updated as nominee reactions roll in...)
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Awards || ||

Golden Globes Unveil 70th Edition Nominees

Golden Globes Unveil 70th Edition Nominees

Lincoln lead the 70th Golden Globe nominations in the Motion Picture category Thursday morning, taking seven categories, including Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Director for Steven Spielberg and Best Actor, Drama for Daniel Day-Lewis. Argo and Django Unchained both scored five noms, also placing in the Best Motion Picture Drama category and Best Director for Ben Affleck and Quentin Tarantino respectively.
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Awards || ||

Screen Actors Guild Unveils 19th Annual Award Nominees

Screen Actors Guild Unveils 19th Annual Award Nominees

The Screen Actors Guild unveiled its nominees for outstanding performances in 2012 in film and television Wednesday morning. Nominees were named in five film and eight primetime television categories in Los Angeles. Les Misérables, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook lead the theatrical motion picture nominations with four each, while Argo, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Sessions and Skyfall followed with two each.

[Related: 'Lincoln' And 'Les Misérables' Lead Critics Choice Award Nominees]

The Screen Actors Guild Awards styles themselves as the only ones "selected solely by actor' peers in SAG-AFTRA." Two nominating panels — one for television and one for film — each composed of 2,100 randomly selected union members from across the United States chose this year’s actor and stunt ensemble honors nominees.

Final voting information will be mailed via postcard on Friday, Dec. 31, 2012. The eligible SAG-AFTRA membership across the country, numbering approximately 100,000 actors, may vote on all categories.

[Related: Oscar Index: 'Zero Dark' Domination & McConaughey's 'Magic' Moves]

The following nominations include information provided by SAG-AFTRA.

19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Theatrical Motion Pictures Nominations:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / Abraham Lincoln - "LINCOLN” (Touchstone Pictures)
JOHN HAWKES / Mark - "THE SESSIONS" (Fox Searchlight)
HUGH JACKMAN / Jean Valjean - "LES MISÉRABLES" (Universal Pictures)
DENZEL WASHINGTON / Whip Whitaker - "FLIGHT" (Paramount Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

JESSICA CHASTAIN / Maya - "ZERO DARK THIRTY” (Columbia Pictures)
MARION COTILLARD / Stephanie - “RUST AND BONE” (Sony Pictures Classics)
HELEN MIRREN / Alma Reville - “HITCHCOCK” (Fox Searchlight)
NAOMI WATTS / Maria - “THE IMPOSSIBLE” (Summit Entertainment)

[Related: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Takes Top National Board Of Review Honors]

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

ALAN ARKIN / Lester Siegel - “ARGO” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
JAVIER BARDEM / Silva - "SKYFALL" (Columbia Pictures)
ROBERT DE NIRO / Pat, Sr. - "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK" (The Weinstein Company)
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN / Lancaster Dodd - “THE MASTER” (The Weinstein Company)
TOMMY LEE JONES / Thaddeus Stevens - “LINCOLN” (Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

SALLY FIELD / Mary Todd Lincoln - "LINCOLN" (Touchstone Pictures)
ANNE HATHAWAY / Fantine - “LES MISÉRABLES” (Universal Pictures)
HELEN HUNT / Cheryl - “THE SESSIONS” (Fox Searchlight)
NICOLE KIDMAN / Charlotte Bless - "THE PAPERBOY” (Millennium Entertainment)
MAGGIE SMITH / Muriel Donnelly - “THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL” (Fox Searchlight)

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

ARGO (Warner Bros. Pictures)
BEN AFFLECK / Tony Mendez
ALAN ARKIN / Lester Siegel
KERRY BISHÉ / Kathy Stafford
KYLE CHANDLER / Hamilton Jordan
CLEA DUVALL / Cora Lijek
JOHN GOODMAN / John Chambers
SCOOT McNAIRY / Joe Stafford

[Related: LA Film Critics Name 'Amour' Best Picture, Boost 'The Master,' Jazz Up Oscar Race]

JUDI DENCH / Evelyn Greenslade
CELIA IMRIE / Madge Hardcastle
BILL NIGHY / Douglas Ainslie
DEV PATEL / Sonny Kapoor
RONALD PICKUP / Norman Cousins
MAGGIE SMITH / Muriel Donnelly
TOM WILKINSON / Graham Dashwood

LES MISÉRABLES (Universal Pictures)
ISABELLE ALLEN / Young Cosette
HELENA BONHAM CARTER / Madame Thénardier
HUGH JACKMAN / Jean Valjean
AARON TVEIT / Enjolras

LINCOLN (Touchstone Pictures)
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS / Abraham Lincoln
SALLY FIELD / Mary Todd Lincoln
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT / Robert Todd Lincoln
HAL HOLBROOK / Preston Blair
TOMMY LEE JONES / Thaddeus Stevens


ANUPAM KHER / Dr. Cliff Patel

[Related: NY Film Critics Circle Spices Up Oscar Race With 'Zero Dark Thirty' Best Picture Pick]


Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Columbia Pictures)
THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal Pictures)
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Warner Bros. Pictures)
LES MISÉRABLES (Universal Pictures)
SKYFALL (Columbia Pictures)

  (Screen Actors Guild 49th Annual Life Achievement Award)

(Television nominees follow on the next page)

Awards || ||

'Lincoln' And 'Les Misérables' Lead Critics Choice Award Nominees

'Lincoln' And 'Les Misérables' Lead Critics Choice Award Nominees

In the latest round of Awards, the Broadcast Film Critics Association gave their nominations for the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards, with Steven Spielberg's Lincoln leading the pack with 13 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis as well as Best Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones and Best Supporting Actress for Sally Field. Les Misérables followed with 11 nominations from the organization, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hugh Jackman and Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway.
more »

Awards || ||

AFI Names 2012 Movie & TV Selections

AFI Names 2012 Movie & TV Selections

The American Film Institute gave its selections for the best of 2012. The recent New York and Boston critics darling Zero Dark Thirty. AFI Awards selections are made through AFI's jury process in which scholars, film and television artists, critics and AFI Trustees determine the most outstanding achievements of the year, as well as provide a detailed rationale for each selection. This year’s juries – one for film and one for television – were chaired by producers and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Tom Pollock (former Vice Chairman of MCA, Chairman of Universal Pictures) for the movies and Rich Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for television, and includes award-winning artists such as Angela Bassett, Brad Bird, Chris Carter, Marta Kauffman and Octavia Spencer; film historian Leonard Maltin; scholars from prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts programs (Syracuse, UCLA, University of Texas, USC, Wesleyan); AFI Board of Trustees; and critics.

"AFI AWARDS celebrates America’s storytellers as collaborators," said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO in a statement. "We are honored to bring together artists as a community, without competition, to acknowledge the gifts they have given the world in 2012."

AFI will honor the creative ensembles for each of the selections on January 11th in Los Angeles.

AFI Movies of the Year:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

AFI TV Programs of the Year:

American Horror Story
Breaking Bad
Game Change
Game of Thrones
Mad Men
Modern Family
The Walking Dead

Arrivals || ||

'Killing Them Softly' Scene Stealer Scoot McNairy Discusses Acting With Brad Pitt & Playing Rob Pattinson's Brother

'Killing Them Softly' Scene Stealer Scoot McNairy Discusses Acting With Brad Pitt & Playing Rob Pattinson's Brother

If you'd like one good reason to see Killing Them Softly in spite of its "F" Cinemascore and anemic opening box-office numbers, I'll give you a great one:  Scoot McNairy's portrayal of the tragi-comic hood Frankie in Andrew Dominik's contemporary film noir is the kind of breakthrough performance that will stick with you long after the financials are forgotten. more »

Awards || ||

Oscar Index: 'Zero Dark' Domination & McConaughey's 'Magic' Moves


Welcome back to the Gold Linings Playbook, otherwise known as the Oscar Index, in which we take the pulse of the pundits handicapping this year’s emerging Oscar class!

Oscar handicapping began in earnest this week with The New York Film Critics Circle’s selection of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty as Best Picture, adding further speculation that the hunt for Bin Laden drama may steal some of Ben Affleck’s Argo’s thunder. In the past decade, four of the NYFCC’s Best Picture winners have gone on to win the Academy Award: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; No Country for Old Men; The Hurt Locker, and The Artist.
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Newswire || ||

Ben Affleck 'Reluctantly' Fired Some 'Argo' Actors

Ben Affleck 'Reluctantly' Fired Some 'Argo' Actors

Ben Affleck's Argo is in the running for a host of possible Oscar nods this season. And while the film, which he directs and stars in is now just shy of making $100 million in the U.S. (it's closing in on $150 million internationally) critical acclaim and the big bucks mask some of the pitfalls of moviemaking. For the first time, Affleck had to give some actors the boot while shooting the feature based on a true story set during the Iranian hostage crisis.

"I've fired a couple of actors. It's the worst thing in the world because I know, as an actor, what it's like," Affleck said during THR's directors roundtable discussion via Access Hollywood. "I was a child actor, and the director threatened to fire me. That traumatized me. I was 13 years old. And I went around in fear of being fired."

The Good Will Hunting Oscar-winner first went behind the camera as director with Gone Baby Gone in 2007, but was forced to sack a few actors during Argo.

"This movie [Argo] was the only time I really fired people, but I had to do it," he said. "I had all these Persian actors who were supposed to speak Farsi. And often they would audition in English and I would say, 'You can speak Farsi, right?' 'Oh, yes, yes.'"

Affleck recalled one actor who hammed up his part as an Iranian during production, using some stereotypes that prompted Affleck to call him on his tricks.

"A guy came in for a really crucial part, and on the day of shooting, we were blocking the scene, and this guy's got this mini speech," he said. "And the guy did it, and it was just terrible. He was sort of like, you know, twisting the mustache and being the Iranian villain and having the accent and adding all these flourishes. A couple times I said, 'Just do nothing and say your lines. Let's try that."

And another actor ran afoul after trying to grab camera time, also getting the boot after one incident.

"There was this guy who had a little bit in the movie, but it was so nice," Ben said. "And then when this other guy was blowing it -- and not just blowing it, but hamming it up -- it made it easy to say, 'No, you know, you're trying to ruin my movie.'"

[Source: Access Hollywood]

Weekend Receipts || ||

'Wreck-It Ralph' Smashes The Box Office; 'Flight' Soars

'Wreck-It Ralph' Smashes The Box Office; 'Flight' Soars

Fallout from Hurricane Sandy may have kept some crowds away from theaters over the weekend, but that did not stop Disney animated feature Wreck-It Ralph from packing a wallop at the box office. Box office in the top 12 headed northward to $124.6 million, 20 per cent higher than the previous week.

1. Wreck-It Ralph
Gross: $49,038,712
Screens: 3,752 (PSA: $13,070)
Week: 1

The Disney animation had a terrific bow, cashing in on great reviews and a solid marketing campaign. The feature also made $12 million internationally, making the title Disney's top animated pic The $49 million plus domestic total compares to $40.1 million for Chicken Little in 2005. The opening compares to Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, which brought in over $60 million when it opened in June. But Ralph helped bring up an overall box office which eclipsed the previous weekend.

2. Flight
Gross: $24,900,566
Screens: 1,884 (PSA: $13,217)
Week: 1

Flight cruised with strong results in its opening weekend, even edging out the weekend's number one box office winner, Wreck-It Ralph in terms of per screen average. The results were stronger than expected and shows Denzel Washington, who is tipped to be a force this Awards Season due to his performance, is an audience draw. This is Washington's fifth best debut.

3. Argo
Gross: $10,209,103 (Cume: $75,860,240)
Screens: 2,774 (PSA: $3,680)
Week: 4 (Change: - 16%)

The Ben Affleck-directed feature in which he also stars is continuing to show very solid momentum now one month into its theatrical life. Word-of-mouth is propelling the feature's box office prowess and it will likely hit the $100 million mark in the next few weeks.

4. The Man With the Iron Fists
Gross: $7,910,980
Screens: 1,868 (PSA: $4,235)
Week: 1

The gross is in line with what was expected, but it's still a bit of a downer. It should reach a lucrative overseas market.

5. Taken 2
Gross: $5,919,493 (Cume: $125,586,929)
Screens: 2,639 (PSA: $2,243)
Week: 5 (Change: - 23%)

The film dropped 356 theaters in its fifth weekend, though it actually managed to climb the chart one notch compared to the previous weekend. Its 23% drop is also a sign of momentum and it should top out at $145 million.

Biz Break || ||

Muppets And Puppets Descend On D.C. To Save PBS; Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave Lead British Independent Film Awards Noms: Biz Break

Muppets And Puppets Descend On D.C. To Save PBS; Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave Lead British Independent Film Awards Noms: Biz Break

Also in Monday morning's round-up of news briefs, Michael Douglas' And So It Goes proves popular with buyers; Argo heads to Doha Tribeca Film Festival; and Cafe de Flore shines at the Specialty Box Office.
more »