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Cannes: Christoph Waltz, Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee join jury

Eight luminaries of eight different nationalities have joined the jury of the Cannes Film Festival, led this year for the first time by Steven Spielberg — including Austrian actor (and two-time Oscar winner) Christoph Waltz, Taiwanese director (and two-time Oscar winner) Ang Lee, and Australian actress (and… one-time Oscar winner) Nicole Kidman.

The jury is rounded out by five film vets from five more countries: Indian actress Vidya Balan, a Bollywood star who will also celebrate 100 years of the genre at a gala screening of Bombay Talkies; Japanese director Naomi Kawase, whose films have won Cannes’s Camera d’Or (in 1997) and Grand Prize (2007); British screenwriter/director Lynne Ramsay, whose film We Need to Talk About Kevin won praise at Cannes in 2011; French actor Daniel Auteuil, a BAFTA winner who snagged Cannes’s Best Actor award in 1996; and Cristian Mungiu, a three-time Cannes winner for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, as well as last year’s Best Screenplay winner at the fest.

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, will open Cannes on May 15. It will close with a screening of Zulu, a political thriller starring Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker, on May 26.

Read more:
Cannes: Directors Fortnight lineup announced
Cannes Film Festival to feature world cinema
Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Bling Ring’ to open Un Certain Regard at Cannes

What's going on with the troubled VFX industry?

Image credit: Marvel, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate

Image credit: Marvel, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate

The buzz around the state of the visual effects industry reached a fever pitch this winter when prominent effects house Rhythm & Hues filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-February. Further attention was pointed at the men and women who create whole worlds from a blank green canvas during the Oscars, when VFX artists held a protest near the ceremony, which honored Life of Pi – a movie with effects by Rhythm & Hues – with an Academy Award in the visual effects category. The complaint? Movies like The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy have scored big at the box office, grossing millions, sometimes billions worldwide, but the VFX industry that brought Asgard, Panem and Middle-earth to life doesn’t reap the same benefits as the studios.

The movement has spurred supporters to change their Facebook and Twitter profile photos to a green box, representing the green screen that would appear in movies were it not for VFX. Blogs have popped up that feature photos of what movie shots looked like before visual effects turned Andy Serkis into Gollum, before Mark Ruffalo was turned into the Hulk.

And more and more visual effects artists and their colleagues are speaking out about their financial woes and the changes to the business that they want to see. Last Thursday visual effects artists gathered for a meeting dubbed Pi Day VFX Town Hall (the name dually referencing Life of Pi and the March 14 holiday, as well as the artists’ frequent call for their “piece of the pi”). Panelists spoke to and took questions from a group of industry members at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Los Angeles, and VFX artists from around the world (including Vancouver, B.C., London, San Francisco, Austin, Tex. and New Zealand) connected via Google+ Hangout for the international discussion.

To help sort out the issues at hand in all this, EW talked to several Hollywood visual effects artists as well as with Roland Emmerich, director of visual effects-driven disaster movies Independence Day, GodzillaThe Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, as well as the upcoming White House Down. We also reached out to several other directors of effects-driven films and representatives for major Hollywood studios and for the Directors Guild of America. None returned EW’s request for comment for this article.

Just how bad are the financial woes of the visual effects industry?

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Oscars 2013: The best acceptance speeches, starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck & more -- VIDEO

From Christoph Waltz’s surprise Best Supporting Actor win to Ben Affleck’s emotional, heartfelt remarks after Argo snagged Best Picture, last night’s Academy Awards were filled with memorable acceptance speeches — and notable pre-speech journeys to the stage. (How’s your knee, Jennifer Lawrence?)

Relive the night’s best post-win soliloquies below. Think any will eventually reach “You like me! Right now, you like me!” status? READ FULL STORY

Ben Affleck wins Directors Guild Award for 'Argo'

prize_fighter1_bannerSome people can win for losing.

Ben Affleck claimed the Directors Guild of America Award for Argo on Saturday in Hollywood’s latest thumb-in-the-eye to the small group of filmmakers in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who failed to nominate him for an Oscar.

“I worked really, really hard to become the best director I could be, by putting in as [many] hours as I can, and banging my head against a wall, berating myself, lying to myself about whether it’s going to work,” Affleck told the crowd, never mentioning the snub. “Basically, I got to a point where I was nominated for this award. And I don’t think this makes me a real director — but I think it means I’m on my way.”

It’s the third time in its 65-year history that the DGA Award has gone to a filmmaker who was not also up for Best Director at the Academy Awrds. It happened to Ron Howard, who claimed the DGA honor in 1995 for Apollo 13, and Steven Spielberg, who won in 1986 for The Color Purple.

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Ang Lee on the 11 Oscars noms for 'Life of Pi': 'The hardest movie I ever made'

For Ang Lee, who was nominated for his third Academy Award as a director this morning, Life of Pi was a Herculean task, harder to bring to the screen then even Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. “This is the hardest movie I ever made,” he says. “It seemed like every element was going uphill. It’s also the longest, and most people involved — 3,000 people and four years — and most uncertain. We didn’t know whether it would work or not for a long time. This is very sweet.”

Pi, the lush 3-D adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, about a boy who shares a lifeboat on the high seas with a ferocious Bengal tiger, was honored with 11 nominations, including one for Best Picture. Its main character, Pi, is lost at sea and forced to resort to extreme measures, but Lee says he doesn’t feel lonely or adrift like his hero. Not anymore. “Some people talk about the movie being survival,” says the director, who won the Oscar for Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, “but this is not a movie about survival. It’s using survival as a metaphor. It’s really a movie about storytelling. I also don’t like when people say it has to be more complicated about religion. It’s about God, it’s not about religion.”

(Reporting by Adam Markovitz)

Read more:
Oscars 2013: And the nominees are…
Benh Zeitlin on ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Oscar noms

Spielberg, Affleck, Hooper among Directors Guild nominees

prize_fighter1_bannerThe Directors Guild Award nominations are out, and Tom Hooper is in.

The Les Miserables director has become a bit of a question mark as reviews for the epic musical have been less than kind, but with Oscar nominations due on Thursday, this nod from his peers in the union comes as a welcome bit of support.

The full list of nominees: READ FULL STORY

C'est la vie! Paris 'Life of Pi' audience watches screening in lifeboats from a swimming pool -- PHOTOS, VIDEO

life-of-pi-screening-01

Oh the je ne sais quoi of the French, at least when it comes to a weirdly wonderful film screening in Paris on Wednesday of Ang Lee’s watery Life of Pi.

Audience members were literally immersed in the spirit of the movie — about a young Indian man shipwrecked in the ocean with a Bengal tiger — by watching the film, in 3-D, from lifeboats in Paris’ Piscine Pailleron indoor swimming pool.
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Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): How 'Life of Pi' was saved

Life of Pi was as good as dead.

The film adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, about a young boy stranded at sea with a ferocious Bengal tiger, had been on the shelf for a long time. 20th Century Fox had already approached three directors, who tried and failed to get an adaptation onscreen before bowing out.

The last best hope was Ang Lee, but while the Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon director spent eight months developing the project, it was the executives at Fox who began to have second thoughts.

This would not be a cheap movie — the budget was estimated around $120 million, and when the studio took a hard look at the project, they realized they had no idea what they were getting in to.

That’s when Elizabeth Gabler, President of Fox 2000 Pictures, called Lee to tell him that it was off. Fox was backing out, and he was welcome to shop the project elsewhere.

It wasn’t the last time he would have to fight for Life of Pi. Here, in an article originally published as the Oscar contender hit theaters, is how he brought this epic tale of survival back to life, over, and over again.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.

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'Life of Pi': Five close calls for this 'unfilmable' survival adventure

Life of Pi was as good as dead.

The film adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, about a young boy stranded at sea with a ferocious Bengal tiger, had been on the shelf for a long time. 20th Century Fox had already approached three directors, who tried and failed to get an adaptation onscreen before bowing out.

The last best hope was Ang Lee, but while the Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon director spent eight months developing the project, it was the executives at Fox who began to have second thoughts.

This would not be a cheap movie — the budget was estimated around $120 million, and when the studio took a hard look at the project, they realized they had no idea what they were getting in to.

That’s when Elizabeth Gabler, President of Fox 2000 Pictures, called Lee to tell him that it was off. Fox was backing out, and he was welcome to shop the project elsewhere.

It wasn’t the last time he would have to fight for Life of Pi. Here’s how he brought this epic tale of survival back to life, over, and over again.

READ FULL STORY

Ang Lee, Yann Martel discuss challenges of filming 'Life of Pi' -- VIDEO

It’s almost impossible to watch the trailer for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi without getting chills, especially considering the challenges that Lee faced while filming.

The Oscar-winning director discusses the difficulties of adapting Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, which Martel describes as a “completely unfilmable story,” in a new behind-the-scenes clip released by Twentieth Century Fox Film today. The author and director explain how they brought the story to life, despite filming with water, kids, animals, and 3-D — or, as Lee told EW’s Anthony Breznican earlier this year, “everything you should avoid in the movie business.”

The film hits theaters nationwide November 21.

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