From 65 to 9 -- Academy Unveils Best Foreign Film Oscar Shortlist 

First, the list was 65, now, it's been whittled down to 9! We have to wait until Feb. 2nd when the final 5 nominees will be announced at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. I'm pretty bummed that "Grandpa is Dead," the Philippine (my homeland!) cinema entry was ignored...oh well, there's always a next time.

Here's the list of the 9 movies for the Best Foreign Film Oscar shortlist:

El secreto de sus ojos
(Juan Jose Campanella)
Synopsis: An ambitious, complex work that combines two generation-spanning love stories, a noirish thriller, some witty comedy and a sharp political critique.
Prodco: Haddock Films

Samson and Delilah
(Warwick Thornton)
Synopsis: Romantic drama that details the chaotic existence endured by two Aboriginal teens on an Outback reserve, directed by a first-timer.
Awards: Cannes (Camera d'Or); Australian Writers Guild (original film, script); Art Film Festival, Slovakia (director);
St. Tropez (film, actor, actress)
Sales: Elle Driver

The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner
(Stephan Komandarev)
Synopsis: A boy suffering from amnesia after a car accident is cured by his grandfather, who uses backgammon to gradually reestablish his identity.
Awards: Bergen Intl. Film Fest (Grand Prix); Sofia (Bulgarian film, audience award); Warsaw (special jury award); Zurich (audience award)
Sales: RFF

A Prophet
(Jacques Audiard)
Synopsis: An illiterate young Arab-Corsican man is condemned to six years in prison, where he works his way up the ranks while secretly planning his own future.
Awards: Cannes (Grand Prix); London Film Festival (film)
Distrib: Sony Pictures Classics

The White Ribbon
(Michael Haneke)
Synopsis: Drama about unsettling events affecting a small village in northern Germany on the eve of World War I for which the local children may be responsible.
Awards: Cannes (Palme d'Or, Fipresci)
Distrib: Sony Pictures Classics

(Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani)
Synopsis: Gritty crime drama (named after a Jaffa neighborhood) about a revenge killing with tragic results was co-directed by Israeli Shani and Palestinian Copti.
Awards: Ophir Awards, Israeli Film Academy (film, director, screenplay, music, editing); Flanders Intl. Film Festival (Young Jury Xplore award)
Distrib: Kino

(Ermek Tursunov)
Synopsis: Two suitors fight to the death for the hand of a young woman in this dialogue-free drama set in the second century A.D.
Sales: Helix Films

Winter in Wartime
(Martin Koolhoven)
Synopsis: A young boy secretly helps a downed Brit pilot escape the occupying Nazis while his town mayor father is happy to keep the status quo with the Germans.
Awards: Netherlands Film Festival (actor, supporting actor, production design); Rome Intl. Film Festival (Silver Marc'Aurelio); Rembrandt Awards (film, actor, actress); PZC Audience Award.
Sales: Isabella Films

The Milk of Sorrow
(Claudia Llosa)
Synopsis: A woman, the product of rape during Peru's decades of political violence, is determined to bury her dead mother in her native village.
Awards: Berlin (Golden Bear)
Sales: Wanda Vision

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"Tooth Fairy" Movie Review 

Dwayne Johnson, formerly known as The Rock, has successfully rebranded himself from a menacing wrestler to a family film star. His new movie, “Tooth Fairy,” curiously imitates the winning formula used in previous family movies starring Johnson such as “The Game Plan” and “Race to Witch Mountain.”

That time-tested formula involves Johnson in a fish-out-of-water tale starring likeable child actors and the result is a triumphant box-office return. 20th Century Fox, the studio behind “Tooth Fairy,” is banking on Johnson’s likeability even if it means making the star wear a pink tutu. Read More...

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It's Official! Marc Webb to Direct "Spider-Man" Reboot! 

Marc Webb will spin his own web in the upcoming "Spider-Man" reboot! Sony has announced that the "500 Days of Summer" helmer will be the one to replace Sam Raimi in the director's chair.

Last week, Sony dumped both Raimi and star Tobey Maguire and scrapped "Spider-Man 4" completely. (See "Spider-Man 4" SCRAPPED! Tobey Maguire, Sam Raimi OUT!)

I enjoyed "500 Days of Summer," so having Webb to direct is a good sign! He will be working from a script by James Vanderbilt.

Webb tells Variety that he isn't taking over for Raimi for that would be pure arrogance, "I'm here because there's an opportunity for ideas, stories and histories that will add a new dimension, canvas and creative voice to 'Spider-Man.'"

The reboot will begin production later this year and is set to open summer 2012.

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We Told You So: Disney's Greatest Villain Maleficent to Get Her Own Film! 

So this morning, I was reading Ain't It Cool News, and Harry posted:

Hey folks, Harry here with the coolest whisper I've heard in a while. I was chatting to a fella I know tonight, and this person heard that Tim Burton is developing another classic Disney fairy tale in a quasi Live Actiony kinda way. It seems that Tim has a hankering for SLEEPING BEAUTY... but not really... You see, he's going to tell the story from Maleficent's point of view. In fact, it'll be called MALEFICENT.

But back in May of last year, we said Angelina Jolie was being mentioned for the Maleficent role by Disney/Pixar Brad Bird. Back then, it was still a Bird project, but apparently, with Dick Cook leaving Disney, it's now under Burton.

Either or, this is a really great movie idea, and I'm looking forward to hearing more news as the project advances.

Here's my exclusive report I broke about the story:

My super-reliable source, someone very, very close to Walt Disney Pictures, revealed to me that Brad Bird, the fantastic writer/director ("The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille") is planning to make a live-action adventure based on Disney's worst, most vicious villain yet, Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty."

And Bird wants Angelina Jolie to play the sorceress, the self-proclaimed "mistress of all evil."

This got me excited in so many levels! First, it's Bird! He's a writing and directing god who puts characters first above all else! Second, I think Jolie is a perfect casting choice! And third, it's interesting to see "Sleeping Beauty" told from the perspective of the villain.

Much like "Wicked" where "The Wizard of Oz" is retold from the point of view of the Wicked witch, Bird's project will add layers and textures to a story we all know, loved, and grew up with.

Right now, this is still in its planning stages, but I'm just sharing this with y'all, 'cause I can't quite contain my excitement!

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Yuk! "Saw VI" Director for "Paranormal Activity 2" 

The Hollywood Reporter told us that Paramount has hired screenwriter Michael R. Perry and director Kevin Greutert to create the sequel to 2009’s biggest surprise hit, “Paranormal Activity,” which scared up $151 million in worldwide grosses in the fall on a shoestring $15,000 budget and a shrewd, opt-in Web marketing campaign.

And Paramount revealed that the sequel will be released on Oct. 22 just in time for Halloween!

Sure, Jason Blum and Oren Peli, the team behind the original "Paranormal Activity," are producing the second, is horrible news! Paramount is just cashing in on the popularity of the first film, but has the studio stopped and pondered about the fate of "The Blair Witch Project?"

Like "Paranormal," 1999's "Blair Witch" was considered a pop culture phenomenon. Shot on a shoe-string budget, the film made gazillion of dollars, just like "Paranormal."

And then, of course, the inevitable sequel followed, the horrendous "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2." Like "Paranormal," the original creative team was attached to the sequel, but it didn't help.

The magic was gone.

So note to Paramount, if you're thinking of building a formidable franchise surrounding "Paranormal Activity," put time and effort behind it. Don't just release a sequel for the purpose of releasing a film on Halloween!

Stop, take a breath, and then see if the people you hired are qualified to create the sequel. If not, go back to the drawing board.

Or better yet? Stop thinking of making part 2!

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