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    Oscar Watch: Reviews of Nominated Shorts

    [Posted by Peter Debruge]2008 Oscar Animated ShortsThe trouble with watching the Academy's animated short nominees (which you can do in theaters or online now, thanks to the efforts of Magnolia Pictures, Shorts International and iTunes) is that it practically forces you to think about these five exquisite entries in competitive terms-- which is best? which will win? -- when in fact, this is the strongest and most diverse crop I've ever seen in the category. From stop motion to CG to paint on glass, the techniques reflect the full range of possibility open to animators today, and I strongly encourage anyone to seize the opportunity to see them...

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    Sweeney Todd Opens in 5th Place

    Sweeney Todd opened to excellent reviews (87% fresh on Rottentomatoes.com) and strong initial numbers on Friday, but the movie dropped an estimated 28 % (actually 25%) between Friday and Saturday. (Here's Sunday's Variety weekend boxoffice report.) This indicates that many viewers were lured by Paramount's mainstream horror-driven ad campaign, which did not sell the film as a Stephen Sondheim musical, and walked away disappointed. (The company also seeded the internet with clips showing the musical numbers.) Selling a unique movie like this, where there is no tried-and-true pattern to follow, is admittedly tricky. So Paramount made the call ...

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    Sweeney Todd Reactions

    DreamWorks has been holding Sweeney Todd back. Well, they finally screened it last week, and elicited "non-reviews" from the Internet folks. The two trades are sufficiently alarmed by all this activity to consider running their reviews sooner rather than later, I hear.

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    There Will Be Blood: Early Reviews

    Variety's Todd McCarthy delivers a rave review of Paul Thomas Anderson's much-anticipated There Will Be Blood. We saw it at the same screening on Friday last week. McCarthy wanted to take his time with this review, and not rush it out the door. Here's a sample:

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    Lust, Caution: Ang Lee Faces His Fear

    At Sunday's BAFTA screening for Lust, Caution, director Ang Lee explained that this particular nexus between sex and politics scared him to death, which was why he had to do it. He insisted on not cutting the 5 to 10 seconds that would have yielded an R rating. The sex scenes are intensely powerful....

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    Darjeeling Limited: Anderson's Best Film Since Rushmore

    I'm not of the Wes Anderson-can-do-no-wrong school. I loved Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, blew lukewarm on The Royal Tanenbaums (which was often wonderful, but also awful in places), and froze out Life Aquatic. So I am happy to report that Darjeeling Limited is the best thing Anderson has done since R...

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    TIFF: Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

    It was a Working Title double-header today. First, the Oscar contender: Atonement is breathtakingly assured. During Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, I smiled at the screen with pleasure. He took you through these people's rooms, their lives, their conversations, hopes, dreams. He made you care about them. The emotions were believably large within an intimate space. He didn't let the moviemaking overwhelm the story, he kept the cuts coming, moving fast, the dancing was spectacular. It felt modern, up-to-date, not stuck in some deadly stuffy period past. And Keira Knightley gave a winning, Oscar-nominated performance. (Here's her interview in ...

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    Rush Hour 3 Review: Ratner Winds Up Action Comedy Trilogy

    I was agreeably surprised by Brett Ratner's action-comedy Rush Hour 3, but given that it was threequel I wasn't expecting much. This time Ratner drops the bickering fish-out-of-water duo Chan and Tucker into Paris and gives Chan more comedy and Tucker more action, with entertaining results. It will ...

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    Harry Potter Watch: Order of the Phoenix Review, Rowling Talks

    Nora and I endured super-heightened Warner Bros. security Thursday night--just short of being frisked--to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New writer Michael Goldenberg, new director David Yates: it definitely felt like a new hand was at the tiller. Old friends are back: Ron and Hermione, along with protective profs Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall, not to mention Sirius Black and Rubeus Hagrid. Lord Voldemort is truly creepy, partly because he is invading Harry's dreams, which makes things more unpredictable. Imelda Staunton is terrific as Harry's new Ministry of Witches nemesis. And we will be seeing more of Black's horrible c...

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    Grindhouse Disappoints

    Grindhouse did not, as they say, open. It came in fourth with a $11 million gross on 2624 screens with a running time of three hours and 12 minutes.

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