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Steven Spielberg: 'Lincoln' was 'this close' to premiering on HBO

For years now — especially since The Sopranos ushered in a new era of smart, complex, visually sumptuous television programming — Hollywood insiders and consumers alike have been saying that TV is a better avenue for gripping, intelligent entertainment than film. (EW actually declared this to be true way back in 1995, four years before David Chase’s mob series debuted.)

And yesterday, two majorly influential voices indicated that they may be joining the pro-TV chorus: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
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'Lincoln' Blu-ray: Saying goodbye to the president -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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“Now he belongs to the ages.”

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was credited with that death-bed epitaph hours after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in 1865, and with Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln arriving on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, his words resonate — albeit in a less hallowed sense. Ever since Daniel Day-Lewis agreed to portray Lincoln — a role that must’ve felt as daunting as Hamlet mixed with Jesus Christ — cinephiles and academics alike awaited the finished result, to see if the British actor who’d magically infused himself into the souls of characters like Christy Brown and Daniel Plainview could resurrect and reintroduce our 16th president to the 21st century.

The result, we can say now, was truly historic. Day-Lewis won the Oscar — his third for Best Actor — and we learned all the tales of his total commitment to the role, which entailed him being in-character for as much as possible while on the set. “I never ever felt that depth of love for another human being that I never met,” Day-Lewis told 60 Minutes about playing Lincoln, and in countless interviews promoting the film, he expressed how sad it made him to say goodbye to the character.

In an exclusive feature from the new Blu-ray, Spielberg talks about the day their film work was finally done, when Day-Lewis, who’d been Lincoln for months, finally lowered the veil to his director. READ FULL STORY

'Argo' at the Oscars: What its likely triumph is really about

You know the old saying about how the best explanation for something is usually the simplest? One could easily apply that to the Academy Awards. After all the politicking, the PR campaigns (Roger Ebert in the Weinstein Co. ads for Silver Linings Playbook: “I sense a groundswell”), the “snubs” and the pendulum swings, an elite handful of movies, actors, and artists behind the camera will emerge as winners on Sunday night, and the reason that each of them will win is (drum roll!)…. the members of the motion picture Academy voted for what they liked best! Period. It’s a thought so simple and debate-halting that it could almost have come from Debbie Downer. READ FULL STORY

'Argo' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' claim Writers Guild awards

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prize_fighter1_bannerArgo continued its domination of award season by claiming one of the last of the pre-Oscar prizes — the Writers Guild Award, where screenwriter Chris Terrio won the honor for adapted screenplay. READ FULL STORY

The EW Popularity Index: Which 2012 movies had legs at the box office?

There’s no arguing who won the 2012 box-office: The Avengers smashed the competition, making $623.4 million. The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall, and Breaking Dawn Part 2 also recorded blockbuster grosses, and the executives responsible for these hits can pat themselves on the backs for delivering the goods, which in these cases did not come cheap. The top 10 movies on last year’s box-office list cost, on average, more than $175 million each to produce — and that’s before a dime was spent on the marketing of a film and all the other fine-print considerations that eat into the profits.

But there’s more than one way to judge a film’s success, and while every producer might prefer to be in The Avengers‘ position, other, more modest films can claim victory as well. Back in 2005, EW devised a Popularity Index, which measured a film’s staying power in theaters; we’ve tweaked it only slightly this year to recognize the increasing number of platform releases. To get the index, we simply divided a movie’s total domestic gross by its biggest weekend tally — normally its opening frame, but not always.

The result is 10 movies that didn’t have record-breaking opening weekends, but they had legs. Many of them started slowly and gained steam as awards season heated up. Others were initially seen as disappointments, but then they just refused to go away, playing week after week to decent crowds. Most all of them had that rumored-to-be-extinct Hollywood creature: The Movie Star. Beancounters might prefer to be on that other box-office list, but the Popularity Index captures elements of quality that studios shouldn’t overlook.

Click below for the 2012 Popularity Index Top 10. READ FULL STORY

Oscars 2013: See the Academy's special edition posters for the nine Best Picture nominees

The Best Picture nominees have gotten a pop art facelift. Not that the nine Oscar contenders needed a facelift of any kind, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – along with Gallery1988 – still found a way to produce a fresh, eye-popping take on now-iconic images from these films.

The Academy recently released nine posters, one for each nominee, created by an international group of artists, many of whom have worked with Gallery1988 before.

Called “For Your Consideration,” the project is the first collaborative exhibition for Gallery1988 and the Academy. The Los Angeles gallery’s past entertainment-related poster collections include “Fringe Benefits,” which featured art inspired by fan-favorite episodes of Fringe, and The LOST Underground Art Show. READ FULL STORY

On the Scene: Ben Affleck charms BAFTAs, takes home top prizes for 'Argo'

Ben Affleck had them at “Good evening.” The organizers of the British Academy Film Awards (a.k.a. the BAFTAs: if you’re wondering what the ‘T’ stands for, it’s ‘television,’ now relegated to a separate ceremony) were surely fluttering their eyelashes at the Argo multi-hyphenate’s praise for their awards. He took to the stage with Bradley Cooper to present the night’s first award, Outstanding British Film, which went to the Bond film Skyfall, and uttered music to their ears: “Good evening, this is our first time at the BAFTAs and it’s thrilling to be here. I’ve always been a little bit in awe of the excellence of the British film industry.”

Maybe Affleck knew a grand night was in store: Argo bagged the night’s top prizes, Best Film and Best Director, as well as Best Editing. And Hollywood has been in agreement in recent years that it’s worth the transatlantic hop to brave BAFTA’s annually soggy red carpet (not much you can do about British weather), making one last stop before the Oscars. Even presenter Billy Connolly couldn’t dampen the mood when he insisted the BAFTA award resembled “a death mask on a stick.” Host Stephen Fry would have echoed the thoughts of the British film royalty gathered in the opulent Royal Opera House if he’d dared to utter: Hollywood, you like us, you really like us. READ FULL STORY

Connecticut congressman challenges historical accuracy in 'Lincoln'

Joe Courtney, Democratic member of the House from Connecticut, was alarmed to find a historical inaccuracy that depicted his home state in a negative light while watching Oscar-nominated film Lincoln.

In the movie, two congressmen from Connecticut voted against the 13th amendment, which would abolish slavery. Courtney was surprised by the vote, and decided to check the facts.

He started with a simple Internet search, according to the AP, which lead to a request for the Congressional Research Service to look into the issue. In fact, all four Connecticut congressmen voted for the amendment to end slavery in 1865.
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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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'Argo' wins Producers Guild Awards

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As goes the Producers Guild, so goes the Oscar for Best Picture …

At least, that’s how the past five years have worked out. So Argo‘s win on Saturday night is the strongest indicator yet that the rescue thriller is the frontrunner in the most fiercely competitive Academy Awards race in recent memory.

The 10 nominees in the producers race were Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty. Only nine nominees are in the Academy’s top race, with Skyfall and Moonrise Kingdom out, and the French drama Amour ranking instead.

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