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Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu plans to direct comedy 'Birdman'

Just a day after the news that Guillermo del Toro is taking his 2006 dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth to the stage, another accomplished Mexican director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, has news of his own: he’s set to direct a comedy called Birdman.

Inarritu has melted down thick emotions in Spanish-language dramas such as 2000’s beautiful Amores Perros (with a breakout performance by Gael Garcia Bernal) and 2010’s Biutiful, and Hollywood dramas such as 2006’s Babel and 2003’s 21 Grams.

Academy announces 9 foreign-film semifinalists

BiutifulImage Credit: Jose HaroIt’s been a good week for Javier Bardem’s Biutiful. Yesterday Bardem scored a Best Actor nomination from the British Academy. And now the film has landed on the list of nine semifinalists for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. The films that will now vie for an Oscar nomination are:

Hors la Loi (Outside the Law) [Algeria]
Incendies [Canada]
In a Better World [Denmark]
Dogtooth [Greece]
Confessions [Japan]
Biutiful [Mexico]
Life, Above All [South Africa]
Tambien La Lluvia (Even the Rain) [Spain]
Simple Simon [Sweden]

Incendies has been a film-festival hit in the past few months, while In a Better World won the foreign-film Golden Globe this past Sunday. Both films will play at the Sundance Film Festival which starts tomorrow.

Exclusive: Julia Roberts' Oscar plea for Javier Bardem

Julia-Roberts-BardemImage Credit: James Devaney/WireImage.comA couple weeks ago, I groused to you about how I thought Javier Bardem’s powerful performance in Biutiful has been unfairly overlooked during this awards season so far. Well, it turns out I have a sister in my disappointment: Julia Roberts. And she’s decided to do something about it. Tonight in Los Angeles, Roberts hosted a screening of Biutiful on behalf of Bardem (her costar in Eat Pray Love) for a select industry crowd. Along with Bardem and his glowingly pregnant wife, Penélope Cruz, I spotted actors Kyle MacLachlan and Robert Forster among the attendees. Taking a break from working the room, Roberts spoke exclusively to EW about her admiration for Bardem’s achievement, and her excitement at working with — speaking of  the Oscars — Meryl Streep.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is it about Javier’s performance in Biutiful that you’re so passionate about? READ FULL STORY

Writers Guild Awards: 'Toy Story 3,' 'Blue Valentine,' and others ineligible

Nominations for the Writers Guild Awards won’t be announced until Jan. 4, but the nomination ballot is missing some noticeable titles. Variety reports Another Year, Biutiful, Blue Valentine, The Ghost Writer, The King’s Speech, Made in Dagenham, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Toy Story 3 and Winter’s Bone are among those deemed ineligible because they were not formally submitted for consideration and/or were not produced under WGA jurisdiction. As the trade notes, the WGA’s picks for original and adapted screenplay have each won an Oscar 11 of the last 16 years. Winners are announced Feb. 5.

Cannes: Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'Biutiful' is bleak, a little inert...and just cosmically tragic enough to win the Palme d'Or

biutifulAt Cannes, there are two kinds of movies that take home the top jury prize, the droolingly coveted Palme d’Or. There are the films that deserve it, like Taxi Driver or The Ballad of Narayama or sex, lies, and videotape or 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. And there are the movies that achieve a notably facile, Euro-friendly brand of total heaviosity, and are therefore shoo-ins. You probably think that I’m just finding a snarky way to dismiss the Palme d’Or winners I haven’t agreed with. But I’d contend that the celebrated Cannes films in the total-heaviosity category, while acclaimed at the time as deathless works of art, don’t age well. To see what I mean, here’s a list of some of those winners: The Mission, Elephant, Wild at Heart, Farewell My Concubine, Barton Fink, Paris, Texas, and — give it time — last year’s The White Ribbon. Be honest: Are you moved, truly, to see any of those movies again? (I’ve got kind of a soft spot for Barton Fink, but please.) This is the sort of heaviosity that only grows heavier, yet less profound, with the years.

This morning, I saw Biutiful, the new movie by Alejandro González Iñnáritu, a director whose work I have always enjoyed, and admired, tremendously. I was blown away by Amores Perros (2000), thought 21 Grams (2003) was convulsive and powerful if a little pretentious, and got sucked right into the globe-hopping vortex of humanistic strife that was Babel (2006), a movie so middlebrow-liberal and Oscar-ready that it didn’t even win at Cannes. Biutiful, on the other hand, may just come through for Iñárritu, even though I think it’s the first film of his that doesn’t really work. It’s set in one of the scruffiest, most low-rent districts of Barcelona, and its main character — in many ways, its only character — is a vaguely defined underworld operator named Uxbal, played by Javier Bardem, who brings the role every charismatically morose shading of disruption and anger and despair he can. READ FULL STORY

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