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Matt Damon to Star in Alexander Payne's Epic Masterpiece, 'Downsizing'


Matt Damon Alexander Payne

Downsizing remains one of the great unmade movies in Hollywood. Alexander Payne, the acclaimed director behind Sideways, About Schmidt and The Descendants, has been working on the movie for over 10 years, describing it as "a large canvas, science-fiction social satire" and "an epic masterpiece".

Matt DamonMatt Damon will play the lead in Alexander Payne's Downsizing

The movie was originally set to star Paul Giamatti and Reese Witherspoon as an impoverished married couple who decide to shrink themselves. She pulls out of the deal after her husband has already undergone the procedure. Sacha Baron Cohen has joined the cast as a tiny Spaniard though Downsizing was shelved in favour of The Descendants and Nebraska. 

Continue reading: Matt Damon to Star in Alexander Payne's Epic Masterpiece, 'Downsizing'

Oscars 2014: 5 Reasons Why Alfonso Cuaron Will Win Best Director For 'Gravity'


Alfonso Cuaron Alexander Payne David O Russell

As we edge closer and closer to The Oscars on March 2, prices on the eventual winners are fluctuating less. Some favorites have settled: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Alfonso Cuaron in the Best Director category for Gravity. And we can think of 5 good reasons why the bookies have the latter nailed on.

GravityAlfonso Cuaron's Gravity is a technical masterpiece

1 - If Ang Lee’s Life of Pi win taught us anything…

Continue reading: Oscars 2014: 5 Reasons Why Alfonso Cuaron Will Win Best Director For 'Gravity'

Nebraska Gala Screening

Alexander Payne - AFI Fest 2013 Nebraska Gala Screening - Hollywood, California, United States - Monday 11th November 2013

Alexander Payne

57th BFI LFF - 'Nebraska' - Screening

Alexander Payne - ****File Photo** * 12 YEARS A SLAVE DOMINATES Independent Spirit Awards NOMINATIONS Critically-acclaimed drama 12 YEARS A SLAVE looks set to dominate the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards after landing seven nominations. The period movie, about a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery, has landed filmmaker Steve McQueen a nod for Best Director, while Chiwetel Ejiofor is shortlisted for Best Male Lead, and Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o will compete in the supporting actor and actress categories, respectively. 12 Years A Slave has also scored nods for screenplay and cinematography, and the film will also be up against All Is Lost, Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska for the Best Feature title. Father-and-son movie Nebraska is another multiple nominee, earning five mentions - Alexander Payne is up for Best Director, alongside McQueen, J.C. Chandor for All Is Lost, Jeff Nichols for Mud and Shane Carruth for Upstream Color; and Bruce Dern will battle for Best Male Lead, against Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Robert Redford (All Is Lost) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). Meanwhile, the Best Female Lead contenders include Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Julie Delpy for Before Midnight, and Shailene Woodley for her role in The Spectacular Now. Among the other notable nominations: James Gandolfini has been shortlisted posthumously for Best Supporting Male for his performance in his last film, romantic comedy Enough Said, and the Best First Screenplay category features Lake Bell for In A World and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Don Jon. Jeff Nichols' Mud will receive the Robert Altman Award, which recognises the director, casting director and ensemble cast of a movie. To be eligible for an Independent Spirit nod, all films must have been made for less than 0 million (£13.3 million). Movies must have either screened at a major film festival, including Sundance, - London, United Kingdom - Friday 11th October 2013

AFI FEST 2013 Presented By Audi - "Nebraska" Premiere

Alexander Payne - ****File Photo** * 12 YEARS A SLAVE DOMINATES Independent Spirit Awards NOMINATIONS Critically-acclaimed drama 12 YEARS A SLAVE looks set to dominate the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards after landing seven nominations. The period movie, about a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery, has landed filmmaker Steve McQueen a nod for Best Director, while Chiwetel Ejiofor is shortlisted for Best Male Lead, and Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o will compete in the supporting actor and actress categories, respectively. 12 Years A Slave has also scored nods for screenplay and cinematography, and the film will also be up against All Is Lost, Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska for the Best Feature title. Father-and-son movie Nebraska is another multiple nominee, earning five mentions - Alexander Payne is up for Best Director, alongside McQueen, J.C. Chandor for All Is Lost, Jeff Nichols for Mud and Shane Carruth for Upstream Color; and Bruce Dern will battle for Best Male Lead, against Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Robert Redford (All Is Lost) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club). Meanwhile, the Best Female Lead contenders include Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Julie Delpy for Before Midnight, and Shailene Woodley for her role in The Spectacular Now. Among the other notable nominations: James Gandolfini has been shortlisted posthumously for Best Supporting Male for his performance in his last film, romantic comedy Enough Said, and the Best First Screenplay category features Lake Bell for In A World and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Don Jon. Jeff Nichols' Mud will receive the Robert Altman Award, which recognises the director, casting director and ensemble cast of a movie. To be eligible for an Independent Spirit nod, all films must have been made for less than 0 million (£13.3 million). Movies must have either screened at a major film festival, including Sundance, - Hollywood, California, United States - Thursday 14th November 2013

The Inaugural Fall Celebration presented by San Francisco Film Society

Ted Hope, Susannah Greason Robbins and Alexander Payne - The San Francisco Film Society presents their first annual Fall Celebration, which seeks to honor creativity, innovation, collaboration and inspiration in cinema. This exclusive fundraising event marks the Film Society's entry into the national fall awards season, with proceeds benefitting SFFS year-round programs in exhibition, education and filmmaker services. - San Francisco, California, United States - Thursday 14th November 2013

Ted Hope and Vanessa Hope
Alexander Payne, Ted Hope, Michele Turnure-Salleo, Spike Jonze and Jehane Noujaim
Susannah Greason Robbins, Ted Hope and Sid Ganis
Ted Hope
Ted Hope

Bruce Dern and Forte Snagged 'Nebraska' Roles, Ahead of De Niro, Cranston


Bruce Dern Alexander Payne Will Forte Robert De Niro Bryan Cranston

After taking it easy with the breezy yet assured The Descendants, Alexander Payne appears to have gotten back his social bite with Nebraska, his road-movie with a difference starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte.

Bruce Dern Will Forte NebraskaBruce Dern [L] and Will Forte [R] in 'Nebraska'

The black-and-white movie which found considerable acclaim at the festivals follows a tempestuous Missouri father (Dern) who's convinced he's won a million dollar magazine sweepstakes. His son (Forte) grudgingly agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his winnings. 

Continue reading: Bruce Dern and Forte Snagged 'Nebraska' Roles, Ahead of De Niro, Cranston

Nebraska Screening at AFI Fest

Alexander Payne - Nebraska Screening at AFI Fest - Los Angeles, California, United States - Tuesday 12th November 2013

Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne

A Week In Movies: Slavery drama wins in Toronto, Gordon-Levitt makes filmmaking debut, Diana hits UK


Steve McQueen Michael Fassbender Chiwetel Ejiofor Brad Pitt Benedict Cumberbatch Joseph Gordon-Levitt Scarlett Johansson Naomi Watts Nicole Kidman Alexander Payne Bruce Dern Robert De Niro Sylvester Stallone Emily Browning

12 years a slave

As the Toronto Film Festival wrapped up earlier this week, 12 Years a Slave, the new film from Steve McQueen (Shame), took home the top prize, which makes it the frontrunner for Oscar nominations. It stars Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more about the win here.

One of the festival's most talked-about films was Don Jon, the writing-directing debut of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a womanising gym-obsessive who meets his match in the feisty Scarlett Johansson. Both actors were on hand for the film's gala New York premiere this week. Here's a video of Scarlett Johansson at the event and in this video you can see director/actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the event.

Continue reading: A Week In Movies: Slavery drama wins in Toronto, Gordon-Levitt makes filmmaking debut, Diana hits UK

Nebraska Trailer


Woody Grant is an alcohol-swigging old man who's never had much in the way of luxury over his long life, but when he receives a letter from a marketing company about a huge sweepstakes prize, he believes that things are about to change for good. Thus, he starts to travel by foot from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska in order to claim his $1 million award, accompanied by his supportive but extremely sceptical son David who believes it's all a scam. Along the way, they meet various relatives and old friends of Woody desperate for a piece of his wealth as the gossip spreads around the neighbouring towns like wildfire. Some are interested in being paid back with interest, and Woody's about to see just how far his debts spread.

Continue: Nebraska Trailer

Lesbian Love Story Beats Coen Brothers To Palme d'Or At Cannes


Cannes Film Festival Steven Spielberg Adele Exarchopoulos Lea Seydoux Alexander Payne Berenice Bejo Coen Brothers

An intimate lesbian love story by Abdellatif Kechiche won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the prestigious Palme d'Or on Sunday. La Vie d'Adele - Chapitre 1 & 2 (Blue is the Warmest Colour) was chosen by a jury headed by Steven Spielberg as the best movie showing in competition, despite some concerns about its length (3 hours) and content, specifically its explicit sex scenes.

According to Reuters, Spielberg said the award should be shared between Kechiche and his two lead actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, such was the level of their performances in the film.  "I think it will get a lot of play ... I think this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message," Spielberg told journalists. "It was the perfect choice between those two actresses and this incredible very sensitive and observant filmmaker." Cannes director Thierry Fremaux said the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who marched in Paris this week to protest the country's legalization of same-sex marriage should go watch Blue Is The Warmest Colour. "Everyone who is against same-sex marriage or love between two people of the same sex must see the film," he said.

Tunisian-born actor Kechiche made his directorial debut in 2000. He was virtually speechless upon accepting the award, dedicating it to the youth of France and Tunisia who "wanted only to live, speak and love freely" during the Arab spring. 

Continue reading: Lesbian Love Story Beats Coen Brothers To Palme d'Or At Cannes

'The Past' Emerges As Early Favourite For Palme d'Or At Cannes Film Festival


Berenice Bejo Tahar Rahim Alexander Payne Coen Brothers

Iranian Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi, who made his name in the industry with the incredible A Seperation, is potentially sitting on the Palme d'Or after his Paris-set tale 'The Past' drew boisterous applause and strong reviews following its screening at the Cannes Film Festival this week. The film boasts The Artist's Berenice Bejo in the lead role as a Parisian mother living in the multicultural suburbs who asks her estranged husband to return from Tehran to finalise their divorce.

In the meantime, Marie invites her new boyfriend - played by Tahar Rahim of the superb A Prophet - to move in with her and her two daughters from another past relationship. Unsurprisingly, her husband returns from Tehran and his arrival upsets the balance of the house. The discussion amongst critics on Twitter appears to suggest that 'The Past' will undoubtedly be amongst the favourites when the awards are handing out by jury president Steven Spielberg on May 26. Bejo was singled out for particular praise for her stunning performance and the actress concedes that he had plenty of offers from Hollywood after The Artist won big at Oscars, choosing instead to work with the one of "the world's best directors" in Farhadi.

Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian wrote of the new movie, "It is an intricate and often brilliant drama, with restrained and intelligent performances; there is an elegantly patterned mosaic of detail, unexpected plot turns, suspenseful twists and revelations." Deborah Young of the Hollywood Reporter was equally enamoured with the movie, writing, "Farhadi's nearly flawless screenplay foregoes the explosive shocks that electrified Fireworks Wednesday and About Elly and drove A Separation on to win the Best Foreign Language Oscar. The Past plays like a low-key adagio in the hands of a masterful pianist, who knows how to give every note it's just nuance and how every single phrase affects all the rest." 

Continue reading: 'The Past' Emerges As Early Favourite For Palme d'Or At Cannes Film Festival

Dark Rooms, Bans and Bolshy Women: How The Cannes Jury Choose The Palme d'Or Winner


Stephen Frears Cannes Film Festival Steven Spielberg Quentin Tarantino Coen Brothers Nicole Kidman Ang Lee David Fincher Nicolas Winding Refn Michael Gray Steven Soderbergh Alexander Payne

What it's like to sit on the jury at the Cannes Film Festival and have the power to present the director of the very best movie with the prestigious Palme d'Or? This year, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz bring a touch of Hollywood A-list glamor to the event and will spent 10 days in darkened screening rooms debating each of the movies in competition.

British director Stephen Fears headed the jury in 2007, when he and his team chose Romanian movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days as the Palme d'Or winner ahead of the Coen's No Country For Old Men, David Fincher's Zodiac, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. "They were very anti-American, the jury. But I kept saying that American films are watched all over the world. This cut no ice with a few bolshy women on the jury," Frears told the BBC ahead of the Festival this week, "I don't know, you try and behave sensibly. I hear all those stories about people manipulating things, but there didn't seem to be any of that. There were no orders from above - nobody tried to interfere, but there were a few basic rules which you had to follow," he added.

Sitting in a darkened room and watching the very best movies of the year before anyone else sounds pretty fantastic right? "...you're terrified of is going to sleep," said Frears, "...so I had coffee brought to me to stay awake - it was manageable. I didn't write notes but I had a friend with me and she and I would discuss the film afterwards." On whether he still recognised that he had chosen the best movie in competition, Frears was unequivocal, saying, "Oh yes, it was a wonderful, original film. I'm sure it benefitted from winning, it was a very accessible film. I'm sure if you spoke to distributors, I'm sure they would say Michael Haneke's film [2012 Palme d'Or and Oscar-winner] Amour has done really well."

Continue reading: Dark Rooms, Bans and Bolshy Women: How The Cannes Jury Choose The Palme d'Or Winner

'The Great Gatsby' Opening Cannes Doesn't Seem Like Such A Good Idea Anymore


Cannes Film Festival Steven Spielberg Leonardo Dicaprio Michael Douglas Coen Brothers James Gray Joaquin Phoenix Alexander Payne

The 2013 Cannes Film Festival will open on Wednesday (May 15, 2013) with Baz Luhrmann's 3-D version of The Great Gatsby, a throwback to the roaring twenties adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic book of the same name. The announcement caused unrest earlier in the year given that Gatsby would already have been released in the U.S by the time Cannes came round (it was released last week) though there's a couple of other things to worry about.

The Great Gatsby opened in the United States to fairly lacklustre reviews, dampening the buzz surrounding the start of the 12 day Cannes Film Festival. The critics have already seen it. The critics didn't like it very much. "This dreadful film even derogates the artistry of Fitzgerald, who wrote "The Great Gatsby" while living on Long Island and in Europe," said the Wall Street Journal. It holds a score of 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Nevertheless, champagne bottles will be popped, deals will be made and Harvey Weinstein will be wandering around deciding which movie to snap up as his next Oscar winner at this year's festival. Stars expected to attend include Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling, Emma Watson and the legendary Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachan. "This is the hardest 10 days of the year for me. There are always three or four movies that are exceptional and you have to find them so it is a detective job," said Tom Bernard, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics.

Continue reading: 'The Great Gatsby' Opening Cannes Doesn't Seem Like Such A Good Idea Anymore

Cannes Line-up for 2013 Hints At Possible Oscars Race [Analysis]


Alexander Payne Joaquin Phoenix Coen Brothers

The line-up for the Cannes Film Festival 2013 has been announced and with it, a clearer picture of the possible contenders for the Oscars in February 2014. In a hugely American-heavy shortlist, Cannes will welcome the likes of Alexander Payne, Joel and Ethan Coen, Steven Soderbergh, James Gray, James Franco, Sofia Coppola, all opening up their latest efforts to the scrutiny of Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who sits at the head of the jury this time around. The selected movies - announced in a press conference and via Twitter on Thursday - look certain to make it an A-list affair, with the likes of Ryan Gosling, Mila Kunis, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and Robert Redford attached to some of the movies screening. There was no place for Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine) or Lee Daniels (The Butler) however, despite speculation as to possible entries.

Of course it's possible the Oscar winner for Best Picture in 2014 will not feature at Cannes - last year's entries included Moonrise Kingdom, On The Road, Cosmopolis, Rust & Bone, Killing Them Softly and The Paperboy, with the eventual Palme d'Or winner emerging in the shape of Michael Haneke's Amour - however, this time it looks likely that we may get a glimpse of the potential Oscar winner. 

The main competition includes Alexander Payne's hotly tipped Nebraska, a father-son road-trip movie that Paramount Pictures plans to release as Oscar-bait in the fall. According to the Los Angeles Times, many had expected the film, starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte, to wait for the late-summer festivals, though it will now premiere in France. Elsewhere, Soderbergh's HBO financed movie Behind the Candelabra about the flamboyant pianist Liberace stars Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. It appears to the director's last work for some time. 

Continue reading: Cannes Line-up for 2013 Hints At Possible Oscars Race [Analysis]

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