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Oscar Best Picture: What’s Wrong With Well-Crafted Entertainment?

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What do voters have against movies that are well-made — and also as entertaining as hell? Among this year’s typically serious and/or weighty crop of frontrunners, there are at least three dramas set during wartime (“Unbroken,” “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game”) and a slew of biopics (all three of the previously mentioned films, “Selma,” “The Theory… Read more »

Mike Nichols’ Wit and Wisdom Showed in Timeless Films, Plays

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Is there a more enduring image in American movies of youthful idealism giving the finger to “plastic” adult conformity than the final moments of “The Graduate?” And yet, as the wedding usurper Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and his runaway bride Elaine (Katharine Ross) make their victory run from a Santa Barbara cathedral on to a… Read more »

Hollywood Fights Against Ferguson Decision with ‘Blackout Friday’

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Hollywood leaders are supporting a nationwide protest of the Ferguson grand jury decision Monday not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, under the social media hashtag #BlackoutFriday and organized through the collective Blackout for Human Rights. “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler, “Selma” helmer Ava DuVernay, “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Jesse Williams, Russell… Read more »

Patti Smith’s Passions Have Led Her Into Oscar Season

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Patti Smith has always been a renaissance woman. She’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her work as a singer-songwriter and frontwoman of the Patti Smith Group; named a commander of the French Ordre des Artes et des Lettres for work as a poet; and awarded the National Book Award… Read more »

‘Hunger Games’ Dominating Early Thanksgiving Box Office

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Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1″ flew to a powerful $14.5 million on Wednesday at the pre-Thanksgiving box office to lift its six-day domestic total to $158 million. The Jennifer Lawrence franchise outdistanced a solid debut from Fox/DreamWorks’ “The Penguins of Madagascar,” which drew $7 million Wednesday — signaling a total in the… Read more »

‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ Remains at Top of Home Video Sales Charts

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DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” remained at the top of the national home video sales charts for the second consecutive week, but consumers actually bought more copies of Sony Pictures’ hit comedy “22 Jump Street,” a new release. That’s because two versions of “22 Jump Street” arrived in stores during the week that ended… Read more »

‘Imitation Game’ Writer Graham Moore: ‘Things Are Very Surreal’

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“The Imitation Game,” which bows Friday, marks the first produced screenplay by Graham Moore. The project came together relatively quickly, he was involved in every major decision, nobody else was brought in for rewrites, and the awards buzz has been steady since Telluride. “It still sort of stuns me,” Moore told Variety with a laugh. “Things are… Read more »

Jorge Olguin Preps Lofty Chilean Version of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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MAR DEL PLATA — Chile’s pioneering horror maestro Jorge Olguin is developing an ambitious English-language $2 million plus, modern Chilean version of the classic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” with Peter Carlisle co-penning the screenplay. “I really think it’s what will catapult [Olguin] to the next level,” said Chris Sablan of Original Artists who is… Read more »

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Teaser to Hit iTunes on Friday

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The teaser for the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” won’t just be in 30 select theaters on Black Friday — it will hit the Web, too. Disney announced on Wednesday that the teaser for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming “Star Wars” movie will debut on iTunes on Friday. The Force is with you on #BlackFriday when #TheForceAwakens… Read more »