"The Tree of Life" Tops Chicago Film Critics Nominations 

The Chicago Film Critics Association has announced their nominations for the 23rd CFCA Awards and Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" led the pack with 7 nods including Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Acting notices for Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain.

"The Tree of Life" will duke out with "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Drive," and "Hugo" for Best Picture. Winners will be announced Dec. 19th.

Here's the full list of nominations (for your complete Awards Season guide, click here)

The Artist
The Descendants
The Tree of Life

Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive
Martin Scorsese – Hugo

George Clooney – The Descendants
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Gary Oldman – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Michael Shannon – Take Shelter

Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia
Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
Anna Paquin – Margaret
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn

Albert Brooks – Drive
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Patton Oswalt – Young Adult
Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Carey Mulligan – Shame
Octavia Spencer – The Help
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
Martha Marcy May Marlene – Sean Durkin
Midnight In Paris – Woody Allen
A Separation – Asghar Farhadi
The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick

The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Drive – Hossein Amini
Hugo – John Logan
Moneyball – Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

The Adventures of Tintin
Arthur Christmas
Puss In Boots
Winnie the Pooh

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
The Interrupters
Into the Abyss
Project Nim

In a Better World
A Separation
The Skin I Live In
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Drive – Newton Thomas Sigel
Hugo – Robert Richardson
Melancholia – Manuel Alberto Claro
The Tree of Life – Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse – Janusz Kaminski

The Artist – Ludovic Bource
Drive – Cliff Martinez
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Hanna – The Chemical Brothers
Hugo – Howard Shore

Liana Liberato – Trust
Brit Marling – Another Earth
Hunter McCracken – The Tree of Life
Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene
Shailene Woodley – The Descendants

J.C. Chandor – Margin Call
Simon Curtis – My Week With Marilyn
Drake Doremus – Like Crazy
Sean Durkin – Martha Marcy May Marlene
Tate Taylor – The Help

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Movie Reviews: "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" AND "Young Adult" 

Two big films are opening this weekend, we have “Young Adult” starring Charlize Theron and the sequel “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” Which one is my pick of the week? Take a look!

Here's more details on "Young Adult" from Yahoo:

Mavis Gary, a writer of teen literature, returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart. When returning home proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate who hasn't quite gotten over high school either.

Genres: Comedy

Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.

Release Date: December 9th, 2011 (limited); December 16th (wide)

MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.

Distributors: Paramount Pictures

U.S. Box Office: $310,263

Cast and Credits

Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Produced by: Diablo Cody, Mason Novick, Lianne Halfon

And here's "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"

There is a new criminal mastermind at large - Professor Moriarty - and not only is he Sherlock Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective.

Cast & Crew

Robert Downey Jr. -- Sherlock Holmes
Jude Law -- Dr. John Watson
Noomi Rapace -- Sim
Stephen Fry -- Mycroft Holmes
Jared Harris -- Professor Moriarty
Kelly Reilly -- Mary Morstan
Eddie Marsan -- Inspector Lestrade
Rachel McAdams -- Irene Adler

Directed By: Guy Ritchie

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Gary Oldman to be Honored at the Palm Springs International Film Festival 

Gary Oldman gave a subdued but memorable performance in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." He may not have gotten love from the Golden Globe folks nor the Screen Actors Guild, but he's being honored at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Festival where he is set to receive the International Star Award. The International Star Award recognizes an actor or actress who has achieved both critical and commercial international recognition throughout their body of work. The Awards Gala will be Saturday, January 7 at the Palm Springs Convention Center, yup, my hood!

I will be posting my interview with Oldman for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" very soon, hang tight! For now, here's the full press release:

Palm Springs, CA (December 16, 2011) – The 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Gary Oldman with the International Star Award. The International Star Award recognizes an actor or actress who has achieved both critical and commercial international recognition throughout their body of work. 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, Michel Hazanavicius, Brad Pitt, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams, and the film Young Adult. The Festival runs January 5-16.

“Gary Oldman is a performer whose ability to portray the most extreme of characters is a testament to the enormity of his talent,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, as the embodiment of John le Carré's classic spymaster George Smiley, he combines cunning, pathos, and cold determination when he is brought out of retirement to ferret out a double agent during the Cold War. To this consummate talent who consistently challenges audiences to anticipate the unexpected when he performs, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2012 International Star Award to Gary Oldman.”

Oldman is currently starring in Focus Features’ Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, directed by Tomas Alfredson and based on the novel by John le Carré. The film also stars Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Dencik, Colin Firth, Stephen Graham, Tom Hardy, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Simon McBurney, and Mark Strong. Oldman was recently cited as Best Actor of the Year by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, which also named the script by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan the Best Adapted Screenplay of the Year. The movie also recently won the British Independent Film Award for Best Technical Achievement.

Over the past 18 years, Gary Oldman has appeared in 11 movies that have opened in the #1 position at the box office. As part of the two most successful franchises in movie history, the U.K. native has appeared in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; and in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises (opening in 2012). His other features include Sid and Nancy, Prick Up Your Ears, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, State of Grace, JFK, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance, Immortal Beloved, The Professional (a.k.a. Leon), The Fifth Element, Air Force One, Murder in the First, Jesus, The Contender, Hannibal, The Book of Eli, and the upcoming The Wettest County. He wrote and directed the film Nil by Mouth, which earned him a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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Golden Globe Nominee Berenice Bejo Talks About “The Artist” and Her Nomination! 

“The Artist’s” Berenice Bejo, fresh from receiving good news about her Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress, sat down for a satellite interview. She could barely keep her happiness, but the French actress’ nomination was truly deserving!

The film by Michel Hazavanicius is now considered the Oscar-frontrunner, having dominated not just the Globes, but other award-giving bodies.

Bejo stars as Peppy Miller, the leading lady, who will do anything for the love of her life, George Valentin, played by fellow Globe-nominee, Jean Dujardin.

In this interview, we talked about:

*** Her wonderful week – Critics’ Choice, SAG award, and Golden Globe nominations!
*** When she first heard that Hazavanicius was making a silent film, what did she think?
*** The production process of making a silent film
*** Working with Dujardin
*** The Golden Age of Cinema

Have fun!

Here's more info on "The Artist" from Yahoo:

Hollywood 1927. George Valentin is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller, it seems the sky's the limit - major movie stardom awaits.

Genres: Drama and Art/Foreign

Release Date: November 23rd, 2011 (limited)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a disturbing image and a crude gesture.

Distributors: The Weinstein Company

U.S. Box Office: $888,741

Cast and Credits

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Béjo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius

Produced by: Thomas Langmann, Gilles Waterkeyn, Adrian Politowski

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Shocker! My Thoughts on Golden Globe Nominations! An Open Letter to the Hollywood Foreign Press! 

Dear Hollywood Foreign Press,

There’s not a whole lot of foreign-y things going on at the nominations announced this morning. Like for example, what the heck happened to “Harry Potter?” No love for one of the greatest British series ever, not to mention one of the most beloved franchises? It was just one of the best reviewed films in 2011 you know, but I guess, it’s not popular enough for the Golden Globe? Wait, the final film also broke box-office records, so that’s very popular no?

And then, why did you ignore Gary Oldman and the great “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?” His subdued performance deserves a closer look. We know you really, really love Ryan Gosling, but if you’re going to nominate the extremely talented actor, his performance in “Drive” was way better than “The Ides of March!” Watch it again!

Oh but wait, you guys probably haven’t seen “Drive” yet because judging from the nominations, it was virtually non-existent except for Albert Brooks’ truly deserving nod for Best Supporting Actor! Okay, I’ll give you that, at least you honored Brooks compared to the Screen Actors Guild Award omission!

Speaking of SAG snubs, you also forgot the legendary Vanessa Redgrave who stole the show in “Coriolanus!” The film is not as popular as “The Help,” but it’s every bit as deserving.

Alright, I love that you love Madonna, I love her too! But the original score nomination for “W.E.,” a movie she directed, could have easily been given to Cliff Martinez for “Drive.” Because, like I said, if you watched the movie again you will understand that the score is pretty much one of the characters in the Nicolas Winding Refn film.

And then, there’s “The Muppets!” You may have heard the songs, they were pretty much part of its extensive marketing campaign, yet, the memorable tunes were ignored! What about “Life’s a Happy Song” or “Man or Muppet?” If you’re going to give a Best Song award, don’t you want to give it to a song that’s intrinsically part of the movie? After all, “The Muppets” is really about being a man or a muppet!

And I guess you’re really sick of Steven Spielberg? The icon did not get a Best Director nomination, yet, “War Horse” is part of the Best Picture race, and you even honored his “The Adventures of Tintin” for Best Animated Feature! Also, Disney/Pixar cannot be nominated every year. “Cars 2” was a big let down, but there it was, duking it out with the likes of “Arthur Christmas,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Rango!” But NOT “Kung Fu Panda 2,” the film that dominated the Annie Awards nominations. With or without using your 3D glasses, you would have noticed that “Kung Fu Panda 2” was one of the most beautiful animated films of the year!

Way to go for proving to everyone, you will do anything for Angelina Jolie! Her under-the-radar “In the Land of Blood and Honey” received a Best Foreign Film nomination. Really, Hollywood Foreign Press?

And then there’s “The Tree of Life.” One of the Oscar front-runners was ignored! Nary a nomination in sight. Terrance Malick, at least, deserved a Best Director nod.

So once again, just like last year, and the year before that, the Golden Globe nominations were full of popular people. But popularity should not be your barometer for recognition. Art should also be factored in too. Sure, you bestowed nods to one of the most artistic films of the year, “The Artist,” but that doesn’t mean your awards show is significant. One word of advice: Be Relevant!


P.S. But who are we kidding here. After all my above-mentioned gripes, I will still be watching. Maybe, you’ll pick the truly deserving “best” winners for each category. And I want to see Ricky Gervais make fun of the ceremony again. Now see, that guy is still relevant!

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