"Misson: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" Leads Box-Office for Second Weekend 

Tom Cruise and his "Mission: Impossible" franchise are definitely cool again! "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" held onto the No. 1 spot for a second-straight weekend with an estimated $38.3 million. Overseas, the Brad Bird-directed fourth installment sold $37 million worth of tickets pushing its international total to $225.3 million and worldwide total to $366.5 million.

Also finishing strong was "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. The Guy Ritchie-directed sequel held steady at No. 2 with $26.5 million and a three-week total of $136.5 million.

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" also held steady at No. 3 with $21 million. At No. 4 was Steven Spielberg's "War Horse' with $19.2 million and at fifth place was David Fincher's "The Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo" with $19.5 million.

Here's your Top 20 box-office list for New Year weekend:

1. "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," Paramount, $38,325,000, 3,455 locations, $11,093 average, $141,214,000, three weeks.

2. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," Warner Bros., $26,510,000, 3,703 locations, $7,159 average, $136,514,000, three weeks.

3. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," Fox, $21,000,000, 3,724 locations, $5,639 average, $97,359,335, three weeks.

4. "War Horse," Disney, $19,219,000, 2,547 locations, $7,546 average, $45,248,000, two weeks.

5. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Sony, $19,000,000, 2,914 locations, $6,520 average, $60,011,000, two weeks.

6. "We Bought a Zoo," Fox, $16,500,000, 3,163 locations, $5,217 average, $43,987,317, two weeks.

7. "The Adventures of Tintin," Paramount, $15,000,000, 3,087 locations, $4,859 average, $50,841,000, two weeks.

8. "New Year's Eve," Warner Bros., $7,735,000, 2,225 locations, $3,476 average, $47,397,000, four weeks.

9. "The Darkest Hour," Summit, $5,250,000, 2,327 locations, $2,256 average, $14,228,000, two weeks.

10. "The Descendants," Fox Searchlight, $4,250,000, 758 locations, $5,607 average, $40,274,646, seven weeks.

11. "The Muppets," Disney, $3,782,000, 1,541 locations, $2,454 average, $83,649,000, six weeks.

12. "Hugo," Paramount, $3,150,000, 951 locations, $3,312 average, $50,165,000, six weeks.

13. "Young Adult," Paramount, $2,700,000, 987 locations, $2,736 average, $12,667,000, four weeks.

14. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1," Summit, $2,650,000, 1,411 locations, $1,878 average, $276,094,901, seven weeks.

15. "The Sitter," Fox, $2,255,000, 1,348 locations, $1,673 average, $26,899,061, four weeks.

16. "The Artist," Weinstein Co., $1,664,500, 167 locations, $9,967 average, $5,400,000, six weeks.

17. "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Focus, $1,428,726, 57 locations, $25,065 average, $4,298,998, four weeks.

18. "My Week With Marilyn," Weinstein Co., $1,173,933, 630 locations, $1,863 average, $9,184,000, six weeks.

19. "Puss in Boots," Paramount, $1,015,000, 389 locations, $2,609 average, $145,767,000, 10 weeks.

20. "Arthur Christmas," Sony, $900,000, 1,524 locations, $591 average, $46,118,000, six weeks.


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Meryl Streep to Receive Homage and Honorary Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival 

Meryl Streep, currently winning accolades for her Margaret Thatcher performance in "The Iron Lady," will be awarded an Honorary Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.

Festival Director, Dieter Kosslick, says “We are delighted to be able to award the Honorary Golden Bear to such a terrific artist and world star. Meryl Streep is a brilliant, versatile performer who moves with ease between dramatic and comedic roles.”

Streep has been invited to the Berlin International Film Festival numerous times including in 1999 where she was awarded the Berlinale Camera. The actress returned in 2003 along with Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman when they shared a Silver Bear for their performances in "The Hours," and in 2006 for Robert Altman’s ensemble comedy "A Prairie Home Companion."

"The Iron Lady" actress, considered an Oscar frontrunner, will receive her Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement on Feb. 14 at a screening of her Thatcher biopic at the Berlinale Palast in Berlin. Special screenings of Streep's films (see below) will also adorn the festival including:

"Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979)
By Robert Benton
With Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Justin Henry

"Sophie’s Choice" (1982, Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role)
By Alan J. Pakula
With Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol, Günther Maria Halmer

"Out of Africa" (1985)
By Sidney Pollack
With Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer

"The Bridges of Madison County" (1995)
By Clint Eastwood
With Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Victor Slezak

"A Prairie Home Companion" (2006)
By Robert Altman
With Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly

"The Iron Lady" (Great Britain 2011)
By Phyllida Lloyd
With Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Coman, Roger Allam

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Have a Safe and Lucky Happy New Year! Oh, and Of Course, a 4-Kisses 2012!!! 

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Austin Film Critics Praise "Hugo" as Best Film of 2011 

The Austin Film Critics Association has announced the winners of its 2011 awards and the voting members have unlocked Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" to win Best Film. According to the AFCA Founder and President Cole Dabney, "Hugo" won because of the movie's "unique blend highlighting the best of both Hollywood and indie filmmaking."

The noir thriller "Drive" took home three awards including Best Director for Nicolas Winding Refn, Best Adapted Screenplay for writer Hossein Amini, and Best Supporting Actor for Albert Brooks. "Drive" was also named the second best film of the year in the AFCA's overall Top 10 List.

In the other acting categories, Michael Shannon won the Best Actor award for "Take Shelter" while Tilda Swinton was named Best Actress for her searing performance in "We Need to Talk About Kevin." Jessica Chastain received Best Supporting Actress honor also for "Take Shelter." The actress also won the Robert R. "Bobby" McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award for being awesome (!!!) in "Take Shelter," "The Tree of Life," "The Help," "The Debt," "Coriolanus," and "Texas Killing Fields."

Here's the complete list of winners. To visit our Awards Avenue for all the winners and nominees of other award-giving bodies, click here. For my Top 10 Best Movies of 2011, and worst, click here:

Best Film: Hugo
Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Best Actor: Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
Best Adapted Screenplay: Drive, Hossein Amini
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Original Score: Attack the Block, Steven Price
Best Foreign Language Film: I Saw the Devil, South Korea [dir: Jee-woon Kim]
Best Documentary: Senna [dir: Asif Kapadia]
Best Animated Feature: Rango [dir: Gore Verbinski]
Robert R. "Bobby" McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter/The Tree of Life/The Help/The Debt/Coriolanus/Texas Killing Fields
Best First Film: Attack the Block [dir: Joe Cornish]
Austin Film Award: Take Shelter [dir: Jeff Nichols]

Top 10 Films:
1. Hugo
2. Drive
3. Take Shelter
4. Midnight in Paris
5. Attack the Block
6. The Artist
7. Martha Marcy May Marlene
8. I Saw the Devil
9. 13 Assassins
10. Melancholia

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Jessica Chastain, Howard Shore to be Honored at 23rd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival 

Organizers of the 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) have announced the last of the ever growing roster of honorees for the awards gala. The fantastic Jessica Chastain the Spotlight Award for her extraordinary performances in 2011. And boy, was she ever extraordinary! Chastain stole scenes in "The Help," "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter," "The Debt," and "Coriolanus."

When I interviewed the actress for "The Debt," I praised her for her outstanding performances in "The Help," "The Tree of Life," and "The Debt" and I was glad to say I was on point in giving her love in September. She was sweet and humble, and fun to talk to! Check out my interview with Chastain for "The Debt" right here.

Composer Howard Shore will also be honored with the Frederick Loewe Music Award for his work in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo." He's been the perennial favorite of Scorsese and they worked in "The Aviator," "Gangs of New York," and "The Departed."

Chastain and Shore will join fellow honorees George Clooney, Glenn Close, Stephen Daldry, Michel Hazanavicius, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams, and the film Young Adult at the Awards Gala on January 7th at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Here's the complete press release:



Palm Springs, CA (December 28, 2011) – The 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Jessica Chastain with the Spotlight Award and composer Howard Shore with the Frederick Loewe Music Award. Presented by Cartier, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 7, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees George Clooney, Glenn Close, Stephen Daldry, Michel Hazanavicius, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams, and the film Young Adult. The Festival runs January 5-16.

Jessica Chastain will receive the Spotlight Award. The Spotlight Award honors an actor or actress for their extraordinary performances in the current cinematic year. Chastain will receive the award for her roles in The Help, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Debt and Coriolanus. “Through a series of virtuoso performances, Jessica Chastain has established herself as one of the cinema’s most versatile and most sought after young actresses,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In The Help, Chastain portrays a woman, emotionally paralyzed by a secret she is keeping from her socially prominent husband. She also gave outstanding performances in this year’s films The Tree of Life, Take Shelter and Coriolanus. In addition to these roles, her performance in The Debt as an undercover Mossad agent on the hunt for a Nazi war criminal exudes the strength of character needed to carry out her mission. To this actress, who captivates audiences with her adroit talents, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2012 Spotlight Award to Jessica Chastain.”

Chastain starred opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in the Fox Searchlight Pictures drama The Tree of Life, an impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950's. Written and directed by Terrence Malick, the film follows the life journey of Jack, the eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. O’Brien (Pitt & Chastain), through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he seeks answers to the origins and meaning of life. Chastain also starred in DreamWorks Pictures’ adaptation of the best-selling Kathryn Stockett novel The Help playing Celia Foote, an insecure Southern lady constantly trying to fit in with the high society women who reject her. The film is directed by Tate Taylor and also stars Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer. Her other credits include The Weinstein Company’s Coriolanus, directed by Ralph Fiennes and starring Fiennes, Gerard Butler, and Vanessa Redgrave; Focus Features’ The Debt, directed by John Madden and starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, and Tom Wilkinson; and Sony Pictures Classics’ Take Shelter directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Michael Shannon.

Chastain’s role in The Help led her to several acclamations including a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her work in Take Shelter earned a Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female. Her other honors this year include a New York Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Tree of Life, The Help and Take Shelter and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s award as Best Supporting Actress for all of her movies this year.

Howard Shore will receive the Frederick Loewe Music Award. He previously received the same honor at the Festival’s Awards Gala in 2005 for composing the score in The Aviator. His collaboration with director Martin Scorsese also includes composing the scores for “Gangs of New York” and “The Departed.” This year he will be receiving the award for his exceptional work in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. “Howard Shore is a master composer who has consistently delighted audiences of the more than 80 films that he has scored,” said Matzner. “In Hugo, the labyrinthine setting of a Paris railway station, where a young boy lives alone, doing what he must to survive, and the discovery of an aging filmmaker gifted with a second chance provide the perfect inspiration for Shore’s haunting score. He has received universal acclaim for this effort, with his compositions as dramatic and innovative as the 3-D in which Hugo was filmed. To this artist of unsurpassed and boundless talent, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2012 Frederick Loewe Music Award to Howard Shore.”

Based on Brian Selznick’s award-winning, imaginative New York Times bestseller, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo is the astonishing adventure of a wily and resourceful boy whose quest to unlock a secret left to him by his father will transform Hugo and all those around him, and reveal a safe and loving place he can call home. Composer Howard Shore’s score in the film is a love letter, both to the French culture in the 1930s and to the groundbreaking early days of cinema. Shore also collaborated with Elizabeth Cotnoir and singer Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy) to create an original song for the movie called “Coeur Volant.” Hugo is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Sir Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz. For his work in Hugo, Shore received a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Score. The film recently won Best Picture and Best Director awards from the National Board of Review.

Shore is among today’s most respected, honored and active composers and music conductors. His work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy stands as his most towering achievement to date, earning him three Academy Awards®. He has also been honored with four Grammy and three Golden Globe awards. His original scores to Dead Ringers and Eastern Promises were each honored with a Genie Award. Shore continues to distinguish himself with a wide range of projects including Crash, The Departed, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Ed Wood, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia and Mrs. Doubtfire.

PSIFF recipients of the Frederick Loewe Music Award include T Bone Burnett, Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, Randy Newman and Diane Warren.

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