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Category: Steven Spielberg

3-D 'Jurassic Park' coming to theaters in July 2013

March 15, 2012 |  3:42 pm

"Jurassic Park" coming in 3-D

Steven Spielberg’s dinosaurs will roar again — but this time in 3-D.

Universal Pictures confirmed Thursday what long has been rumored: Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” will be re-released in 3-D, with the stereoscopic version set to come out in July 2013.

The 1993 drama about a science experiment gone bad was one of the first movies that used computer effects to create believable creatures. The film spawned two sequels, and ushered in a number of similar over-sized monster movies, including remakes of “Godzilla” and “King Kong.”

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-- John Horn

Photo: Ariana Richards, Sam Neill and Joseph Mazzello in "Jurassic Park." Credit: Amblin Entertainment / Universal Pictures


Meryl Streep upset Viola Davis: Exactly how did that happen?

February 27, 2012 |  6:48 am

Meryl Streep upset Viola Davis at Oscars 2012

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Theories were flying at the Oscar after-parties Sunday night about how Meryl Streep pulled off perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 Oscars. After all, with her turn as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," Streep had defeated Viola Davis as Aibilieen Clark even though the "Help" star last month won the Screen Actors Guild award. (In the first 11 years of this century, the SAG winner had foretold the Oscars a whopping nine times.)

Streep also overcame Davis' popularity, her candidacy forged by her running mate Octavia Spencer and a general feeling that Davis was an essential vehicle for honoring the race-themed drama, what with the movie overlooked in categories such as writing and directing.

So what happened? Among the explanations for the Streep win were Harvey Weinstein's dominance -- the awards kingpin saw his movies take home the top four awards at the Oscars -- and general goodwill for Streep.

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

But there's another, possibly cleaner, explanation: Streep was playing a real person.

For those who keep an eye on the Oscars, there's sometimes a sense that anyone acting at a high level will have an advantage if they play an actual person, especially one the audience already knows.

The recent numbers, as it turns out, bear out that theory. In the last five actor races in which men playing real people competed against men playing fictitious ones, the actor playing the known personality won four times. (You can debate whether Billy Beane is sufficiently well known to qualify; we'd say that most voters couldn't pick him out of a lineup).

Strikingly, the same ratio holds on the female side -- the actress playing the real-life person has now won four of the last five times they've competed against one another.

This in itself calls for an explanation. The best theory may be that with a real-life person we (or at least a certain kind of voter) have a frame of reference by which to judge the actor's  performance. These actors must be good at their jobs because, well, I knew a little bit about Margaret Thatcher or Edith Piaf, and what they're doing reminds me of them. Of course, a bad performer playing a real person will find that this could highlight their weaknesses, but that won't apply to Oscar-caliber acting.

You might find this a little unfair; actors playing real people, after all, have a template to work off that their fiction-minded siblings don't. But maybe one should cut Streep some slack anyway. The lone exception among the past five cases of unknown-versus-known personalities? Streep was on the losing side, her rendition of Julia Child in "Julie and Julia" losing out to Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side."

[For the record, 8:49 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the first name of Viola Davis' character in "The Help" as Abilieen.]

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

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'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Company


Ruby slippers find a new home at movie academy

February 22, 2012 |  4:40 pm

"Wizard of Oz" ruby slippers

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has purchased a pair of the famous ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” to display in the museum it is developing with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The shoes, one of four pairs known to exist from the classic 1939 film, are believed to be the ones used in the close-ups when Dorothy (Judy Garland) clicks her heels three times to start her trip home, the academy said Wednesday.

The price was not disclosed, but the academy said donations came from Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg and former Warner Bros. Chairman Terry Semel, among others.

"The ruby slippers occupy an extraordinary place in the hearts of movie audiences the world over," Bob Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Co. and chair of the fundraising campaign for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, said in a statement. "This is a transformative acquisition for our collection."

Another pair of the "Oz" ruby slippers belongs to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington. According to Profiles in History, the auction house that arranged the sale to the academy, a third pair is privately held, while the whereabouts of the fourth is unknown, having been stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn.

The academy said last October that it planned to create the motion picture museum in the former May Co. building at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue that is adjacent to LACMA and now known as LACMA West. No opening date has been set.

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--Lee Margulies

Photo: The ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz." Credit: Smithsonian Institution 


Oscar nominations 2012: Five of the day's biggest story lines

January 24, 2012 |  9:26 am

Click here for complete coverage of Oscar nominations

Oscar nominations always come with a few surprises, but the unexpected seemed to be flowing even more freely Tuesday morning. Here are five story lines that jumped out at us when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its nominations for the 84th Academy Awards -- and that are worth keeping an eye on as we get closer to the Feb. 26 show.

Close encounters. Coming into the nominations, Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" was considered a wild card on the best picture front, while his "The Adventures of Tintin" appeared to be a lock in the animation category. When the announcements came out, everything was turned on its head -- "War Horse" was nominated for best picture while "Tintin" was overlooked in animation. The Oscars will still be a Spielberg-filled affair, but don't count on seeing Spielberg at the podium: "War Horse" is a considerable long shot to take the prize. The question is: How much of a campaign will DreamWorks mount for it?

FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

Rudin's return. Just a few days ago, he seemed all but done for at the Oscars. But powerhouse producer Scott Rudin, the filmmaker behind "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," staged a comeback, picking up a best picture nomination for "Extremely Loud" while his "Dragon Tattoo" star Rooney Mara nabbed a surprise best actress nomination. (Rudin also is credited as a producer on "Moneyball," which was nominated for best picture, but wasn't considered by the academy to have done enough work on the film to be nominated.) Also, Max von Sydow took a supporting actor nomination for "Extremely Loud," completing the comeback. Rudin was a force last year, actually landing two best picture nominations -- for "The Social Network" and "True Grit" -- though he didn’t end up coming to the show as the Weinstein Co.'s "The King’s Speech" surged to a win. We'll see where we'll find him this year.

We need to talk about Tilda (and Albert). They gave two of the most well-regarded performances of the year, but Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin") and Albert Brooks ("Drive") each failed to land on the academy’s shortlist. The oversights have earned the actors sympathy from those who loved their performances, but that probably doesn't help the pill go down any easier. And where does this leave Brooks' career comeback?

Woody and Terry. Woody Allen and Terrence Malick have famously arms-length relationships with the Hollywood machine -- Allen isn't in the academy (by choice), and Malick hasn't even given an interview in decades. Yet both are nominated for best director, Malick in something of a surprise for "The Tree of Life," which pundits had written off in recent weeks. Will either of them actually make the trip to the Kodak Theatre? And how will the Oscars handle the absence of 40% of its director field if they don’t?

Better lives. There were few places where surprises ran as rampant as in the actor category. Brad Pitt got in for "Moneyball," Demian Bichir for the little-seen "A Better Life," and Gary Oldman, previously thought on the bubble for spy movie "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy," landed a spot for his role as a taciturn agent. Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender, two of Hollywood's younger stars, were overlooked despite having some of the most acclaimed performances of the year (in "Drive" and "Shame," respectively.) It was a story of experience over youth -- in keeping, perhaps, with the Billy Crystal Oscars.

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And the nominees are ...

PHOTOS: 84th Academy Awards nominees

"Artist," Scorsese's "Hugo" shine brightest

-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Max von Sydow and Thomas Horn in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." Credit: Warner Bros. 


Golden Globes: Steven Spielberg says 'Tintin' is an animated 'buddy movie'

January 15, 2012 |  7:26 pm

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg has had a busy awards season, between the release of both "The Adventures of Tintin" and the World War I drama "War Horse." "In my right mind, I never would have released two movies within eight days of each other," he said of his two Christmas openers backstage at Sunday's 69th Golden Globes ceremony after "Tintin" picked up a prize for best animated feature. "But we found out 'Tintin' had a much younger audience, and there wasn't competition between those two -- which worried me for a while."

As to why "Tintin," the 3-D performance-capture film based on the work of Herge, resonated with both the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and moviegoers worldwide, the filmmaker said he viewed the picture as a "buddy movie." "It shows a man who is a reprobate and a terrible alcoholic who stops drinking -- and when he does, he accomplishes something wonderful," he said.

Spielberg admitted, however, that even when he is compelled to make films, he almost always tries to back out of each project he signs on to. "I'm seized with some kind of passion," he said, "then I've committed to it, and a month later, I try to get out of it. ... But you feel you can't live without making it. So even when I change my mind, I know that first initial intuition -- I have to stick with it."

The filmmaker said he still looks to his peers -- Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese, in particular -- when he's seeking inspiration. As for those young film students who may be striving to follow in Spielberg's footsteps? The director thinks they have an advantage he himself never had as a young filmmaker.

"What I think is wonderful for film students who want to make the movies I made movies is that they have phones, which is kind of like a movie studio," he said. "You get it on YouTube and have 4 million people watching your movie overnight, which my generation never had."

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--Amy Kaufman
twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Steven Spielberg backstage at the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images


'Tintin' and HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire' lead Visual Effects nominations

January 9, 2012 | 12:15 am

Ves-nominations

 This post has been corrected. Please see the note at bottom

Steven Spielberg's animated “The Adventures of Tintin” and HBO's period gangster series “Boardwalk Empire” scored the most nominations early Monday from the Visual Effects Society for the VES Awards.

The 10th annual VES Awards honor outstanding visual effects in 23 different categories of film, animation, television, commercials, special venues and video games.

Here's a list of the nominees: 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture

“Captain America: The First Avenger”: Charlie Noble, Mark Soper, Christopher Townsend, Edson Williams

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”: Tim Burke, Emma Norton, John Richardson, David Vickery

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”: Gary Brozenich, David Conley, Charlie Gibson, Ben Snow

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”: Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”: Scott Benza, Wayne Billheimer, Matthew Butler, Scott Farrar

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture

“Anonymous”: Andre Cantarel, Volker Engel, Rony Soussan, Marc Weigert

“Hugo”: Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning, Rob Legato, Karen Murphy

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”: Laya Armian, Chas Jarrett, Seth Maury, Sirio Quintavalle

“Source Code”: Annie Godin, Louis Morin

“War Horse”: Duncan Burbidge, Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Zeh

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

“Arthur Christmas”: Doug Ikeler, Chris Juen, Alan Short, Mandy Tankenson

“Kung Fu Panda 2”: Melissa Cobb, Alex Parkinson, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Raymond Zibach

“Puss In Boots”: Joe Aguilar, Guillaume Aretos, Ken Bielenberg, Chris Miller

"Rango": Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch

“The Adventures of Tintin”: Jamie Beard, Joe Letteri, Meredith Meyer-Nichols. Eileen Moran

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture

“Captain America: The First Avenger”: Casey Allen, Trent Claus, Brian Hajek, Cliff Welsh

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”: Michele Benigna, Martin Ciastko, Thomas Dyg, Andy Robinson

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”: Jean Luc Azzis, Quentin Hema, Simon Jung, Christoph Salzmann

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”: Chris Balog, Ben O'Brien, Amy Shepard, Jeff Sutherland

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Ukranian Ironbelly”: Yasunobu Arahori, Tom Bracht, Gavin Harrison, Chris Lentz

“Paul - Paul”: Anders Beer, Julian Foddy, Jody Johnson, David Lowry

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Caesar”: Daniel Barrett, Florian Fernandez, Matthew Muntean, Eric Reynolds

“The Thing - Edvard/Adam”: Lyndon Barrois, Fred Chapman, Greg Massie, Marco Menco

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

“Puss In Boots - Puss”: Antonio Banderas, Ludovic Bouancheau, Laurent Caneiro, Olivier Staphylas

“Rango - Rango”: Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton

“Rio - Nigel”: Diana Diriwaechter, Sang Jun Lee, Sergio Pablos, Aamir Tarin

“The Adventures of Tintin - Tintin”: Gino Acevedo, Gustav Ahren, Jamie Beard, Simon Clutterbuck

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture

“Anonymous - London”: Andre Cantarel, Robert Freitag, Rony Soussan, Greg Strasz

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Hogwarts”: Keziah Bailey, Stephen Ellis, Clement Gerard, Pietro Ponti

“Thor - Heimdall's Observatory”: Pierre Buffin, Audrey Ferrara, Yoel Godo, Dominique Vidal

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon - 155 Wacker Drive”: Giles Hancock, John Hanson, Tom Martinek, Scott Younkin

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture

“Puss In Boots - The Cloud World”: Guillaume Aretos, Greg Lev, Brett Miller, Peter Zaslav

“Rango - Main Street Dirt”: John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul

“The Adventures of Tintin - Bagghar”: Hamish Beachman, Adam King, Wayne Stables, Mark Tait

“The Adventures of Tintin - Docks”: Matt Aitken, Jeff Capogreco, Jason Lazaroff, Alessandro Mozzato

“The Adventures of Tintin - Pirate Battle”: Phil Barrenger, Keith F. Miller, Alessandro Saponi, Christoph Sprenger

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture

“Hugo”: Martin Chamney, Rob Legato, Adam Watkins, Fabio Zangla

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”: Thelvin Cabezas, Mike Perry, R. Christopher White, Erik Winquist

“Thor”: Xavier Allard, Pierre Buffin, Nicolas Chevallier

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”: Michael Balog, Richard Bluff, Shawn Kelly, Jeff White

Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Hogwarts School Buildings”: Steven Godfrey, Pietro Ponti, Tania Marie Richard, Andy Warren

“Hugo - Train Crash”: Scott Beverly, Allan Faucher, Forest P. Fischer, Matthew Gratzner

“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Parking Garage”: John Goodson, Russell Paul, Kristian Pedlow, Vick Schutz

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Driller”: Tim Brakensiek, Kelvin Chu, David Fogler, Rene Garcia

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture  

"Arthur Christmas": Michael Ford, David Morehead, Emi Tahira

"Cars 2": Mahyar Abousaeedi, Sharon Calahan, Jeremy Lasky, Jonathan Pytko

"Rango": Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker

"The Adventures of Tintin": Matt Aitken, Matthias Menz, Keith F. Miller, Wayne Stables

Continue reading »

'War Horse' offers old-school polish and emotion, critics say

December 23, 2011 |  2:06 pm

War Horse
"War Horse," Steven Spielberg's second horse in the awards season race, arrives on the heels of his animated film "The Adventures of Tintin." A drama about the special bond between a boy and his horse separated by the horrors of World War I, "War Horse" is based on the 1982 children's book by Michael Morpurgo and its recent stage adaptation, a huge success in London and New York. Reviews for "War Horse," which opens Sunday, have been favorable, though not faultless, with many critics commending Spielberg's classical approach.

Times critic Betsy Sharkey says the film "has the sweep of a classic John Ford movie, the sentiment of Frank Capra and a spirited steed named Joey who will steal your heart. The film itself … is more difficult to love." Structurally, Sharkey says, "War Horse" is "the purest sort of love story," following the traditional three-act structure of introduction, separation and reunion. It's slow to start, "with the earlier scenes flat and too many subplots … that don't pay off," but the pace picks up when the war begins. Ultimately, Sharkey says, it's Joey's film: "The incredible emotive power of this horse and the way in which the filmmakers were able to translate it on-screen are what stay with you."

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Spielberg's 'The Adventures of Tintin' to close AFI Fest

October 31, 2011 |  3:33 pm

The Adventures of Tintin will close the 2011 AFI Fest
Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" will be the closing night screening at AFI Fest.

The Hollywood festival -- which kicks off Thursday evening with the world premiere of Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" -- will conclude with a gala screening of the animated 3-D picture on Thursday, Nov. 10.

While the Peter Jackson-produced movie opened in 19 foreign markets this last weekend, the movie doesn't hit theaters in the U.S. until Dec. 21. The film, based on a beloved 82-year-old Belgian comic about a young reporter in search of treasure, is already off to a strong start abroad. Not only did it rake in an estimated $55.8 million overseas over the weekend, but early critical reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. 

For the Fest's 25th anniversary edition, festival director Jacqueline Lyanga said it was special to be opening and closing with big films from two iconic American directors.

AFI Fest is offering free tickets to all of its screenings for the third year in a row. 

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-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: A scene from "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn." Credit: Paramount Pictures


New York film critics move up their awards date

October 19, 2011 | 12:48 pm

"War Horse" be a contender when the New York Film Critics Circle hands out its awards on Nov. 28, two weeks earlier than usual

The New York Film Critics Circle announced Wednesday that it will hand out its annual awards, including its selection for the best film of the year, on Nov. 28, two full weeks ahead of the usual date, in an effort to garner more attention for its choices. The move preempts the selections by the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., bodies that usually make their picks ahead of the New York group.

In a news release, John Anderson, chairman of the New York critics group, said, "As the nations pre-eminent critic’s group, we are excited about kicking off the annual end-of-year discussion with our new early voting date. On the basis of the films we have seen thus far, we are looking forward to another passionate debate amongst our members."

Typically by this point in the awards season cycle, several front-runners have emerged, but the field to date remains relatively wide open. DreamWorks has not yet screened Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated World War I drama, "War Horse," for U.S. critics, nor have Paramount's Stephen Daldry 9/11 drama, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," or the Weinstein Co.'s Margaret Thatcher film, "The Iron Lady," been unveiled for early viewing. All three movies are set for release in December.

The National Board of Review, which has historically been the first to reveal its top picks of the year, will make its selection public Dec. 1, three days after the New York Film Critics Circle announces its choices. The Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. will announce its picks on Dec. 11 or 12.

Whether this move prompts the other organizations to move up their dates remains to be seen, but with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences signaling that it will ultimately move up the Oscars ceremony, pushing the critics' lists to earlier in the season maybe isn't such a bad idea.

-- Nicole Sperling

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Watch "War Horse" trot into the awards derby

Photo: Andrew Cooper in Steven Spielberg's upcoming drama, "War Horse" Credit: DreamWorks


Will Europeans like Spielberg's 'Tintin' less than Americans?

October 17, 2011 |  6:00 am

Tintin spielberg

The initial reviews for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” are trickling in. Tintin, a sleuthing boy reporter with a trusted dog named Snowy, is a cherished Belgian comic book character, and conventional wisdom heading into the film's release has been that the movie would be an easy sell in Europe (where Tintin’s built-in fan base is strongest) but perhaps tougher in the United States, where many people aren't familiar with the character.

Yet so far, it seems like critics for U.S. trade magazines are slightly more enamored of the 3-D motion-capture animated movie than are critics for British newspapers. 

The film will roll out in Europe at the end of October before hitting American theaters just before Christmas. Tintin is voiced by Jamie Bell, who buys a model of an old ship called the Unicorn at a market. Two men immediately try to buy the model from him, an American named Barnaby (Joe Starr) and  the sinister Sakharine (Daniel Craig). Tintin spurns the offers and realizes the ship contains a clue about a missing treasure. Eventually, he runs into trouble with Capt. Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis).

Writing for Variety, Leslie Felperin raves that "Tintin" is “a rollicking return to action-adventure form” for Spielberg, “especially after the disappointment of ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ Clearly rejuvenated by his collaboration with producer Peter Jackson, and blessed with a smart script and the best craftsmanship money can buy, Spielberg has fashioned a whiz-bang thrill ride that's largely faithful to the wholesome spirit of his source but still appealing to younger, Tintin-challenged” audiences.

Likewise, the Hollywood Reporter’s Jordan Mintzer says “Tintin” is “a good ol’ fashioned adventure flick that harkens back to the filmmaker’s action-packed, tongue-in-cheek swashbucklers of the 1980s,” adding that the saga is “filled with captivating CGI action and clever sight gags, while maintaining a compact narrative that never takes itself too seriously."

 But Xan Brooks, of Britain’s Guardian newspaper, was less enthralled. He opines:

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