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Film Independent Spirit Awards: Host Joel McHale reacts inappropriately to 'Black Swan,' '127 Hours,' and 'Winter's Bone' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Joel-McHaleImage Credit: Kyle Christy/IFCIt is fair to say Joel McHale was chosen to host this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards more for his comedy chops than his indie movie cred (although he was actually pretty good in Steven Soderbergh’s admittedly major studio-financed The Informant!). The Community star makes the most of that fact in the exclusive promo clip below, which finds him reluctantly watching a selection of nominated movies and reacting with amusing inappropriateness to the likes of 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, and Greenberg (“Oh, Greg Focker, will you ever get it right?”).

Check out the video and tell us what you think. Are you looking forward to the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which IFC will broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 10 p.m.? Who would you like to see win? READ FULL STORY

James Franco on playing gay characters: 'You know what, maybe I'm just gay' (Exclusive)

James-FrancoImage Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images“Is James Franco gay?” is a favorite query of the pop-cultural chattering classes. It’s not like it’s unique to him: Having the public ponder your sexuality is a celebrity rite of passage. But the thing that makes Franco’s case so interesting is that, unlike the loud denials from some stars and even louder silences from others, the response from the 127 Hours star (who, for the record, has been in a years-long relationship with actress Ahna O’Reilly) is actually pretty nuanced. Franco addressed the rumor-mill mentality in an exclusive interview with EW for our recent cover story. “It’s funny because the way that kind of stuff is talked about on blogs is so black-and-white,” Franco says. “It’s all cut-and-dry identity politics. ‘Is he straight or is he gay?’ Or, ‘This is your third gay movie — come out already!’ And all based on, gay or straight, based on the idea that your object of affection decides your sexuality.” READ FULL STORY

Art Directors Guild nominees announced

Today begins the flurry of guild award nominations that can give you a good idea of which films are going to do well with the Academy. (As opposed to the Golden Globes or critics groups, many people who vote for guild prizes also vote for the Oscars.) The Art Directors Guild has announced its 15 nominees, including all the expected visual feasts (Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Inception) and overall awards contenders (The Social Network, The King’s Speech, True Grit). Here are their lists: READ FULL STORY

Writers Guild nominees announced

I-Love-You-Phillip-MorrisImage Credit: Patti PerretUnlike the Producers and Directors Guild awards, the Writers Guild nominees never match up too closely with the Academy Awards since several top Oscar contenders usually aren’t eligible for the WGA prize. (Entries must be filmed under guild jurisdictions to qualify.) That’s why we don’t see The King’s Speech, Another Year, Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, or Toy Story 3 in the just-announced WGA lists. So which screenplays took advantage of the extra spaces? Clearly, it’s Please Give and I Love You Phillip Morris, two films that haven’t made much of an impression in the overall awards hunt so far. The only surprise omission in my mind is Rabbit Hole in the adapted category. I’m also shocked that Oscar front-runner Waiting for “Superman” didn’t make it into the documentary list, though Superman director Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth didn’t get a WGA nod either and it went on to win the Oscar. Here are the nominees:  READ FULL STORY

Good movies: when a critic is off duty

kings-speechImage Credit: Laurie SparhamYou’d think that given my long years on the job, I’d have ready replies. But coming up with the right answers never gets any easier: When friends, or family, or neighbors with whom I’ve shared an apartment elevator for ages, or interested strangers I meet at holiday parties, or even my dentist of 25 years asks me, “What should I see at the movies these days?” I’m always momentarily stumped.  I mean, I know which movies I think are good — and which movies I think are not. And I can supply a (brilliant!) critical analysis to back my opinions. But that’s not what is being asked. Not really.

“What should I see?” my old college pal, or my sister-in-law, or my neighbor on the 10th floor asks me, and I have to remember: The college friend doesn’t like movies with any disturbing content, so there goes Black Swan. My sister-in-law has little interest in animation, so there goes The Illusionist. And I have no idea whether the 10th-floor neighbor will be as engrossed as I was in a movie about a guy who cuts his own arm off to save his life — even if that guy is James Franco and the movie is as good as 127 Hours. There are plenty of movies I think are great that I know friend A or B won’t like, and I don’t think it’s my place to convince them otherwise. And there are plenty of movies I think stink that I know friend X or Y will enjoy, and I don’t want to rain on their Little Fockers parade. (I take that back: I’ll steer loved ones and strangers alike away from those Fockers, secure in the knowledge that box office revenues suggest no one gives a Focker about critical opinion.)

The result: When faced with a request for my off-duty opinion (which is to say, a market recommendation), I shift pleasantly and agreeably to the role of consumer advocate. If you like ______ (Jeff Bridges? ’80s videogame nostalgia? Katherine Heigl?), you’ll like _______. READ FULL STORY

Why I wish we could go back to having only five Oscar nominees

10-oscar-nominationsImage Credit: How many nominees is too many? As every entertainment junkie knows, the most fun thing about the Academy Awards is talking about them. All the speculative chatter — Is it Natalie Portman’s year? Is The Social Network an Oscar movie or too much of a heady/critical darling/digital generation movie? — may be the height of trivia, but it gives us all a (tiny) stake in the outcome, and it’s also a way of trying to nail down, each year, that elusive yet revealing thing that is the Hollywood Value System. Besides, the Oscars are still the ultimate media-buzz-industrial-complex horse race. Can True Grit, after getting snubbed by the Golden Globes, snag a nomination for Best Picture? How about 127 Hours, with its rave response from reviewers, its grisly (if transcendent) final twist, and its just-okay performance at the box office? And what about The Fighter? I personally think it’s a terrific movie, but did the media oversell it as a contender?

In the past, those might have been tasty questions to chew over. This year, however, I find myself having the same Oscar conversation — or, more to the point, giving the same Oscar answer — over and over again. It goes something like this:

YOU: Do you think True Grit will get nominated for Best Picture?

ME: Yes, I do. I’m not sure it would, though, if there were only five nominees. But with ten, it probably can’t miss.

YOU: What about 127 Hours?

ME: Same situation. With only five nominees, I’m almost certain it wouldn’t be nominated. With ten, I bet it will be.

YOU: How about Toy Story 3?

ME: Definitely! And it’s great that they’re finally nominating animated films for Best Picture. Of course, if there were only five nominees, I’m not sure Toy Story 3 would make it…

Do you sense a pattern here? And, what’s more, a certain creeping rhythm of ho-hum tedium? READ FULL STORY

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