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  • Caryn James
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    TV Review, Downton Abbey: Such Elegant Social Upheaval

    In 1912, the aristocrats and servants at Downton Abbey live in a world where bad news comes by telegram – like the one informing Lord Grantham that his cousin and heir has been lost with the Titanic. By the end of this sumptuous, endlessly entertaining miniseries, it is 1914, a new-fangled telephone has been installed, and we can see far better than the characters can that World War I is about to explode their stable world.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Oscar Watch: VFX Short List of Seven Includes Alice in Wonderland, Inception, Scott Pilgrim

    Oscar Watch: VFX Short List of Seven Includes Alice in Wonderland, Inception, Scott Pilgrim

    Seven films will vie in the Visual Effects bakeoff on January 20 for an Oscar nomination, when members of the VFX branch will see 15-minute reels of each film and then vote for the final five to be announced January 25. The list is what was expected.

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  • Spout
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    Entering Cinephilia Through the Cerebral Gate

    In one of the entries in Slate's 'The Movie Club,' a year-end exchange of films between writers Dana Stevens, Dan Kois, Stephanie Zacharek, Matt Zoller Seitz and former Spout editor Karina Longworth, Seitz argues that "emotion is the gateway drug to all cinephilia." And once again, due to my heartless approach to film, I'm realizing that I must be either a bad critic or bad cinephile, or both. Here's more from Seitz's entry, overall concentrated on the emotional merits of "The Fighter":

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  • The Playlist
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    Kevin Macdonald's Crowdsourced YouTube Doc 'Life In A Day' To Stream For Free On Jan. 27

    With his big budget medieval pic "The Eagle" set to debut next month, it's easy to forget that director Kevin Macdonald got his start in documentary film, with the excellent "Kindertransport," "One Day In September" and "Touching the Void" under his belt. Earlier this summer it was revealed he was teaming with Ridley Scott's Scott Free production company on a rather ambitious project, "Life In A Day." The idea was simple if somewhat of a logistical challenge: On July 24th YouTube users uploaded footage from around with the idea of telling future generations of what life was like on the planet on that single day. Against All Odds Productions joined the production to make sure that cameras were provided in even the remotest areas of the Earth and the result was 4500 hours of footage from 192 countries. We weep for the editors.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    USC Scripter Nominations Lift Winter's Bone, Ghost Writer

    The USC Scripter Award nominations are in. This award, which is voted on by a jury of industry critics, filmmakers, academics and screenwriters (including me), is given to films that are based on a literary source (anything original is not eligible, nor was Toy Story 3). It is a window into the adapted screenplay Oscar category, in other words.

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  • The Playlist
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    Ricky Gervais To Voice Mole In New Live Action/Animatronic 'The Wind In The Willows'

    First announced last summer and followed with character designs and a teaser trailer (see below) dropping at Comic-Con, it looks like things are moving full steam ahead on the WETA produced live action/animatronic adaptation of the children's classic "The Wind In The Willows." And they've got a big name to lead the cast.

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  • The Playlist
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    Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant Re-Writing 'The Wee McGinty'; Garant To Direct, Lennon To Star

    "'The Bourne Identity' but with a leprechaun." So goes the logline for "The Wee McGinty," a script from Mark Gibson and Phil Halprin. Summit Entertainment saw enough in the script to make the purchase, but apparently they've decided it just doesn't suck enough to get made, and so Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant have come aboard for a re-write, with Garant slated as director and Lennon up for a supporting role.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Digital Viewing Transition: The Rise of Netflix

    Digital Viewing Transition: The Rise of Netflix

    In their excellent year-ahead discussion on KCRW's The Business, host Kim Masters and guests John Horn (the LAT) and Michael Schneider (Variety) agreed that 2011 marks a watershed year in the transition from traditional to digital viewing choices. They think the shift will come faster for movies than television. "The studios are burning along with huge overhead and a lot of movies that aren't working," says Masters, a confessed Luddite who defends theater-going.

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  • The Playlist
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    Sienna Miller Joins Ensemble Romcom 'New Year's Eve'

    Sienna Miller has had an interesting, if not entirely satisfying, career so far. Having been dismissed by many as yet another model-turned-actress after early roles in "Alfie" and "Layer Cake," she proved to be a far more interesting proposition, with an excellent performance in a terrible film, "Factory Girl." She's since proved that wasn't a fluke, with strong work on stage in "As You Like It" and "After Miss Julie," and two very good performances in Steve Buscemi's "Interview" and John Maybury's "The Edge Of Love", stealing the show from Keira Knightley in the latter.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Cinema Audio Society film Nominees Include Shutter Island

    The Cinema Audio Society nominees for sound in motion pictures in 2010 are Black Swan, Inception, Shutter Island, The Social Network and True Grit. These are the bigger-scale movies of the year, the ones most likely to factor in the technical categories. I'm surprised not to see Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I in this list. Shutter Island has been left out of many critics and guild votes.

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