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'Inside Job,' 'Restrepo,' 'Waiting for Superman' among DGA documentary nominees

The Directors Guild of America has announced its nominees for Outstanding Achievement in Documentaries for the year 2010. They are:

Linxin Fan, Last Train Home
Charles Ferguson, Inside Job
Alex Gibney, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
Davis Guggenheim, Waiting for “Superman”
Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, Restrepo

This is the first DGA award nomination for every nominee save one; Alex Gibney was nominated in the same category, and won an Oscar, for 2007’s Taxi to the Dark Side. Guggenheim took home an Academy Award for his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

Jodie Foster named prez of Cesar Awards

Jodie-FosterImage Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty ImagesJodie Foster is set to preside over the 36th Annual Cesar Awards, France’s version of the Oscars, on Feb. 25, Reuters reports. Foster, a graduate of French-language high school Lycée Français de Los Angeles, still speaks the language fluently. She will also be in France filming Roman Polanski’s God of Carnage in early February, so she won’t have far to travel for the ceremony. The Academy Award-winning actress is the first foreign President of the Cesar awards since Italian star Marcello Mastroianni in 1993. Cesar nominees will be announced on Jan. 21 in Paris.

Read more:
Jodie Foster joins Matt Damon in ‘Elysium’
‘The Beaver’ trailer: Mel Gibson goes crazy, but this time, it’s a triumph of the human spirit

The awesome new trailer for 'Batman: Arkham City' resembles everything we've been hearing about 'The Dark Knight Rises.' Interesting, huh?

We can now confirm that Professor Hugo Strange will indeed be the villain in Batman’s next big on-screen adventure. We can tell you that the fiend will learn The Dark Knight’s secret identity and use it against him. And we can also report that the caped crusader will have to fight soldiers charged with bringing him to justice, because after all, it is kind illegal to put on a mask and beat people up, even if they’re breaking the law. Now here’s the big twist: By “on-screen,” we mean your TV screen, as the entertainment we’re describing isn’t a certain eagerly-anticipated movie, but rather Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to the Batman: Arkham Asylum blockbuster videogame. Last night during the Spike Video Game Awards, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Rocksteady teased the new project (due in stores next year) with a new teaser trailer that nearly stole the show from the winners, not to mention the telecast’s other big tease, a promo for Mass Effect 3. (You can see the Strange-enhanced Batman: Arkham City trailer here.)

What’s really provocative about the game’s teaser is that all of its distinguishing elements–Hugo Strange; the secret identity plot; soliders hunting Batman–have also been key elements in the well-traveled, widely-believed, and totally unconfirmed gossip that’s been making the rounds about the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, due in theaters in 2012. According to the rumors, director Christopher Nolan’s third and final Bat-flick starring Christian Bale will have actor Tom Hardy playing Hugo Strange, in a story loosely based on a storyline from the Batman comics known as “Prey,” in which the hero’s police ally Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is forced to assemble a task force that must hunt down the vigilante. Sounds like it could work for a Bat-sequel. After all, the last Batman movie left us with The Dark Knight on the run from the cops, who believe him responsible for murders committed by district attorney-gone-loco Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart, who recently disclosed that he definitely won’t be back in the third film). But again: Nolan has steadfastly refused to comment on creative details about The Dark Knight Rises, other than to confirm the title and clarify that The Riddler won’t be the villain.

I’m tickled by the idea that perhaps the Batman rumormongers have been horribly mistaken. Could it be the that project they’ve been hearing about isn’t Nolan’s film, but WBIE’s videogame? Regardless, at least we now know that we’ll be seeing Batman battling Hugo Strange in at least one elaborately produced media product in the near future–and possibly two. How do you feel about the prospect? Are you game for overlapping if not necessarily competing Strange-centric Bat-tainments? Or are you now kinda hoping that Nolan’s movie will have nothing in common with Batman: Arkham City? (Me, I’m still holding out hope that we’ll be getting shape-shifting Clayface chaos in Batman 3.) Sound off below!

Awards Season Calendar 2011: See it here!

Start prepping for your Oscar parties: The 2011 awards season officially kicked off last night with the Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York. Use this calendar below to keep track of the events recognizing your favorite films and performances of the year as we gear up for the Academy Awards on Feb. 27, 2011.

Nov. 30 Film Independent Spirit Award nominations announced

Dec. 1 Academy Awards official screen credits forms due
Dec. 2 National Board of Review announces winners
Dec. 3 British Independent Film Awards
Dec. 3 International Documentary Association Awards
Dec. 11 Boston Film Critics announces winners
Dec. 12 AFI honorees announced
Dec. 12 Los Angeles Film Critics Association announces winners
Dec. 13 New York Film Critics Circle announces winners
Dec. 13 Broadcast Film Critics Association nominations announced
Dec. 14 Golden Globe nominations announced
Dec. 14 San Diego Critics Association announces winners
Dec. 15 Toronto Critics Association announces winners
Dec. 16 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations announced READ FULL STORY

'Winter's Bone' wins big at Gotham Awards

winters_boneImage Credit: Sebastian MlynarskiThe acclaimed indie drama Winter’s Bone was the big winner at the IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards tonight, taking home the Best Film and Best Ensemble prizes. Director Debra Granik’s Sundance prize-winner was the front-runner going into the ceremony, having been nominated for four awards in total, and has an outside chance of snagging of one next year’s 10 Best Picture Oscar nomination slots. Winter’s Bone wasn’t able to sweep the awards, however. In somewhat of a surprise, Daddy Longlegs leading man Ronald Bronstein (a past Gothams winner for his directorial debut, Frownland) beat Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence for Best Breakthrough Performance, while Waiting for “Superman” topped it for the Festival Genius Audience prize, which was voted on by filmgoers. The night’s biggest shut-outs, meanwhile, were The Kids Are All Right and Tiny Furniture, both of which went 0-for-2. The entire list of winners is below.

Best Film: Winter’s Bone
Best Documentary: The Oath
Best Ensemble: Winter’s Bone
Best Breakthrough Performance: Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
Best Breakthrough Director: Kevin Asch, Holy Rollers
Best Film Not Playing At A Theater Near You: Littlerock
Festival Genius Audience Award: Waiting for “Superman”

James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host Oscars

Glenn Harris/PR Photos; Solarpix/PR Photos

Actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway will cohost this season’s Oscar ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced. Telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer have decided to continue the two-host trend from last year’s show, when Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin shared emceeing duties. But they clearly seem to be courting a different generation: Franco and Hathaway’s combined age (60) is less than Steve Martin’s.

I applaud Cohen, Mischer, and AMPAS for thinking outside the box and not going with a predictable choice. Both Franco and Hathaway are sharp and funny, and hosting the Oscars should allow them to show off different sides of their personalities. The only awkwardness could stem from the fact that Franco is a surefire Best Actor contender for his performance in 127 Hours, while after the mixed critical and commercial reaction to Love & Other Drugs, Hathaway is looking more and more like a long shot at best. Or wait…do we now have a good kick-off topic for their hosting bits?

Follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for Oscar news and predictions throughout the awards season.

OscarWatch: Best Picture predictions

Image credit: Stephen Vaughan

I recently put together my latest round of Oscar predictions and I’ll be exploring one major category at a time in the coming days on our new Inside Movies blog. Let’s start with Best Picture and look at the 15 movies I think are at the forefront of the race for the 10 available slots.

Inception Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending blockbuster boasts the perfect mix of brains and spectacle.
The Kids Are All Right The summer’s coolest indie is a showcase for stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.
The King’s Speech One of this year’s most awarded festival darlings should have no problem appealing to voters of all generations.
The Social Network David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s morality tale will ride its zeitgeisty wave throughout the season.
Toy Story 3 In a fantastic year for animation, Pixar’s lovable threequel stands out.

127 Hours Director Danny Boyle’s graphic depiction of the real-life ordeal of hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco) has earned terrific reviews and box office.
Black Swan Natalie Portman’s tour de force performance could power director Darren Aronofsky’s twisted thriller to the big dance.
The Fighter A host of strong performances (notably from supporting players Christian Bale and Melissa Leo) highlight the true-life boxing story.
The Town As several late-year releases inevitably disappoint, look for director Ben Affleck’s respected thriller to bounce back.
True Grit No one’s seen the Coen brothers’ Western yet, but with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon on board, how can you count it out?

Another Year British auteur Mike Leigh is often a voters’ fave, and his latest London drama is already a festival hit.
Blue Valentine Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in an impeccably acted domestic drama — but will the gritty production be too tough for the Academy?
Get Low A dream cast (Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray) paired with top-notch production values could do the trick.
How Do You Know Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd’s comedy screams Golden Globe contender. Big success there could propel it to the Kodak Theatre as well.
How to Train Your Dragon Two animated movies out of 10 may seem like a stretch. But the spring hit remains one of the best-reviewed films of the year.

So which films am I underestimating? Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter? Other dramas like The Ghost Writer or Winter’s Bone? Or a buzzy documentary like Waiting for Superman? Let me know what you’re rooting for. And follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for Oscar news all season long.

MTV Movie Awards watched by 16.4 million people

aziz-ansariImage Credit: Kristian Dowling/MTV/PictureGroupMore than 16 million viewers watched the MTV Movie Awards across the MTV, MTV2 and VH1 networks Sunday – up 2% from last year’s telecast. It was the show’s largest audience in seven years.  Among female teens, the show that was hosted by Aziz Ansari averaged a 5.7 rating on MTV,  up 6% versus last year. It was also the show’s best performance in the demographic since 2004.

The two-hour ceremony that was chock full of bleeped-out expletives also performed well among persons 12-34, averaging a 4.1 rating. Those young fans were largely responsible for the Twilight franchise ending up as the night’s big winner, with stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart taking home the golden popcorn trophies for Best Female/Male Performances, as well as Best Kiss. New Moon also won for Best Movie. Winners are decided online by fans.

Meanwhile, MTV issued an apology for all the F-bombs that were dropped during the telecast. Most were caught by the censors, but some got through (like those uttered by New Moon’s Peter Facinelli at the end of show). “The MTV Movie Awards is a live televised event known for irreverent comedy and a party atmosphere where our guests speak more freely than they otherwise might,” according to the statement. “While we aired the live broadcast with a delay, we were unable to mute every word that some might find objectionable. All of these words will be muted in subsequent airings. We sincerely apologize to those in our audience who were offended by any objectionable words that might have slipped by for the live airing.” 

MTV Movie Awards: 'Twilight' wins, Tom Cruise and Sandra Bullock rule

twilight-mtvImage Credit: Matt Sayles/AP ImagesTom Cruise rocked a bald head and a paunch, Sandra Bullock asked people to go back to making fun of her, and the Twilight franchise was predictably over-exposed at Sunday’s lively (and expletive-laden) MTV Movie Awards.

Though the two-hour ceremony seemed like one big promotion for the return of Jersey Shore on July 29 (the cast of the MTV reality show appeared frequently in and around the Gibson Amphitheatre near Universal Studios in California, where the event was held), the show was still chock full of highlights that didn’t involve Snooki or The Situation. Cruise gamely reprised his role as Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder in some side-splitting skits as the award show’s “producer” (“Sit back, relax, and enjoy my giant, two-hour s–t”). Ken Jeong (The Hangover) tearfully talked about his cancer-free wife while accepting the prize for the Best WTF Moment. Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen) dropped one too many F-bombs – some of which couldn’t be bleeped in time by the censors – when nabbing the Best Movie prize for New Moon. And making their (world!) premieres: the trailers for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Bullock – fresh off her surprise appearance at Saturday’s Guys Choice Awards – received this year’s Generation Award from presenters Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson and the delightfully unpredictable Betty White (who called her co-star from The Proposal a “national treasure” but then referred to her own ovaries as “historical monuments”). Resplendent in a short dress and sky-high heels, Bullock received a standing ovation as she told the crowd,  “No matter what you might have seen or read, I love what I do. I’m not going anywhere.” And in an obvious reference to her very public split from Jesse James, Bullock quipped, “Whoever established the high road and how high it should be, should be fired.”

She then playfully kissed Johansson (the wife of Ryan Reynolds, Bullock’s co-star from The Proposal) and asked the crowd to pray for the victims of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf. “Go back to making fun of me,” she added.

The show included musical performances by Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry.  And yes, awards were actually given, though most of the acceptance speeches paled in comparison to the skits (Host Aziz Ansari as Taavon the Swagga Coach! Will Ferrell dangling from the proscenium!). Here were the night’s winners:

Best Female Performance:  Kristen Stewart (New Moon)

Best Breakout Star:  Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)

Best Scared as Sh*! Performance: Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer’s Body)

Best Kiss:  Stewart and Robert Pattinson (New Moon)

Best WTF Moment: Ken Jeong (The Hangover)

Best Villain: Tom Felton (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Biggest Badass Star: Rain

Best Male Performance: Pattinson

Best Comedic Performance: Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)

Best Movie: New Moon

(Not included in the telecast: The award for Best Fight, which went to Beyonce and Ali Larter from Obsessed)

'Kids' Choice Awards': Katy Perry got her slime on!

katy-perryImage Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Any kind of Scream redux should send a sound team to Nickelodeon’s annual Kids Choice Awards. At Saturday night’s awards, held at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, the mere mention of Justin Bieber’s name was enough to blow out the roof — if not humble those lesser, shriek-worthy stars like Rihanna, who was forced to serve as the kid’s warm-up act (she performed a medley but OMG he sang Baby! from his just-released My World 2.0!)

But the teen idol wasn’t the night’s only highlight for the ‘tween set; host Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) opened the 90-minute live show with a sportive dance number, with music provided by an angelic Adam Sandler (literally, he dangled from the ceiling, dressed as an angel). “Get slimed tonight!” Sandler crooned, in a reimagination of KC & the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight.

Much was made of the fact that Sandra Bullock would skip the show because of certain problems at home — but only the winners seem to attend the big show anyway, and it was Miley Cyrus (!) who took home the requisite orange blimp for Favorite Movie Actress. The category ended up providing the night’s most comical moments. First, presenter Katy Perry tripped a box that was supposed to contain the winner’s identity — and ended up getting gobsmacked with a load of green slime (she had to know it was coming but she still seemed genuinely surprised at its impact). Then, fellow presenter Jonah Hill (Superbad) quipped that the award was going to Precious — but then quickly said it belonged to the Hannah Montana star, instead.  No one under 30 understood the reference to the Lee Daniels film that earned co-star Mo’Nique her first Oscar this month, but there were still plenty of chuckles in the pavilion.

Zachary Levi (Chuck) had fun with the fact that Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel beat out New Moon in the Favorite Movie category (“And to Twilight, sorry!” said Levi).  Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Ohno participated in the annual “death-defying” slime stunt (he was catapulted into a small pool of the icky liquid). And First Lady Michelle Obama taped an acceptance speech for winning Nick’s first-ever Big Help Award for helping kids eat healthy and stay active. Good thing she wasn’t there to accept in person; the massive after-party featured burgers and fries from Burger King and a yummy brownie mousse for dessert. At least there were apple fries!

Here are the night’s big winners (more than 115 million kids cast their votes for this year’s show — a Nick first):

Favorite Movie: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Favorite Movie Actor: Taylor Lautner (New Moon)

Favorite Movie Actress : Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana: The Movie)

Favorite TV Show: iCarly

Favorite TV Actress: Selena Gomez (The Wizards of Waverly Place)

Favorite TV Actor: Dylan Sprouse (The Suite Life on Deck)

UPDATE: And here were some of the other winners who didn’t make the cut for the big show:

Favorite Animated Movie: UP

Favorite Voice From an Animated Movie: Jim Carrey (A Christmas Carol)

Favorite Song: “You Belong To Me” (Taylor Swift)

Favorite Music Group: Black Eyed Peas

Favorite Male Singer: Jay-Z

Favorite Female Singer: Taylor Swift

Favorite Cartoon: SpongeBob SquarePants

Favorite Reality TV Show: American Idol

Favorite Video Game: Mario Kart

Favorite Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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