This year, Hollywood.com will once again be jetting off to Park City, Utah for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. For 10 days, the small mountain town becomes the epicenter for all things movies, with A-List stars and filmmakers from around the world congregating to get their taste of independent cinema.
Sundance plays host to movies big and small, with comedies starring our favorite funny people, dramas sporting famous faces ready to blow us away, and complete unknowns ready to emerge as the next Beasts of the Southern Wild. Just because you've never heard of the director, lead actor, or lead actress doesn't mean the movie and its crew won't be walking the red carpet at the Oscars next year. This is where the journey begins.
To prepare you for the discoveries to come, our two correspondents on the ground in Park City, Matt Patches and Brian Moylan, sifted through the hundreds of films playing the festival to whittle down a list of their most anticipated list. The top 10 has a little bit of everything — check out their picks and keep your eyes peeled for more Sundance coverage to come:
We've seen Adam Scott and Amy Poehler fall in love on Parks and Recreation, but can we buy them as adversaries? Scott plays a befuddled guy (and inspiration for his shrink's self-help book) who is trying to broker peace between his long-divorced mother (Catherine O'Hara) and his father (Richard Jenkins), who is married to the zany Poehler. If this is half as funny as it sounds, it will be the funniest movie of the festival. — Moylan
Every Sundance has its handful of breakouts and with a costarring role in the David Sedaris adaptation C.O.G. and a prominent part (as well as co-writer credit) on the midnight premiere Ass Backwards, that festival star could be Casey Wilson. She's due for it too: a brief stint on Saturday Night Live led her to become a regular on Happy Endings, and now she has her own flick. Ass Backwards, which follows two women who "both tied for dead last in their hometown beauty paganent" way back when, sounds twisted in all the right ways. — Patches
This past summer, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, and director Richard Linklater headed to Summer to shoot the third entry in their "Before trilogy," the story that began with a romantic chance meeting in 1995's Before Sunrise and resurfaced for 2004's Before Sunset. Can the trio continue the magic by having the intertwined lives of Celine and Jesse connect again? With a heap of emotion invested in the fictitious pair, I sure hope so. — Patches
Sundance's NEXT category features a slate of low, low-budget films contending with the star-driven movies that have now become a staple. They're usually amazing too, which is why I'm keeping an eye on Blue Caprice, a black and white docudrama that puts us in the middle of the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, all from the perspective of the shooters. My heart is racing already. — Patches
Brit Marling and director Zal Batmanglij blew attendees minds in 2011 with their cult sci-fi thriller Sound of My Voice and they return this year to Sundance with a project that's equally mysterious. The East focuses on a contract worker infiltrating an eco-terrorist group — not too dissimilar sounding from Sound of My Voice. Marling returns, joined this time by Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgård. A larger scope should give Batmanglij more playing room, and even more of a chance to repeat their previous success. — Patches
Kill Your Darlings
Daniel Radcliffe makes his first Sundance appearance playing poet Allen Ginsberg during his days at Columbia University. With a bevy of great actors (including Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen), Kill Your Darlings may approach the biopic with recognizable indie sensibilities, but it's on our radar just to see if Radcliffe has a real dramatic life after Potter. — Patches
What do we want for Sundance? Socially conscious indies from around the world that make us think while being entertained, right? Well, that and pictures of celebs in ski gear. No one will be skiing in this Chilean movie where Gael Garcia Bernal plays a real-life ad man in the '80s who engineered a campaign to get voters to oust dictator Augusto Pinochet. This checks off every box in the Sundance requirements while seeming original at the same time. — Moylan
After two misses with Your Highness and The Sitter, David Gordon Green returns to his indie roots for Prince Avalanche. Pairing two actors I can't help but love, Paul Rudd and Emilie Hirsch, the film should meld the director's penchant for comedy and past character study work. If it's a happy medium, it should be one of the festival's best. — Patches
The Spectacular Now
The addiction drama Smashed was one of the best movies to play 2012's festival. Director James Ponsoldt returns to Sundance with his next, The Spectacular Now, adapting similar themes (alcoholism appears to be an important part of the tale) to a story of adolescent relationships. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, two up-and-comers with thoughtful work to their names, star, giving us hope that the movie digs deeper into youth culture than most Hollywood films would even allow. — Patches
What's the only thing better than a movie about a woman falling in love with her best friend's son? A movie about two best friends falling in love with each other's sons! When the two mothers are played by Naomi Watts and Robin Wright (no more Penn) and directed by Anne Fontaine, it's sure to be a deep psychological insight about love and longing rather than the rom-com set up it sounds like. — Moylan
What movies are you looking forward to hearing more about? Check out the films announced to play Sundance and tell us!
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Benaroya Pictures]
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Are you in the mood for spectacular singing, dazzling theatrics, and one or two ferocious catfights? (I’m referring to the judges on that last one, of course) Then you’re going to love catching up on Wednesday night’s all-new live performance episode of The X Factor, which centered around the remaining Top 12 contestants — for real this time. (That is, unless Simon decides to bring back any more previously eliminated acts in the future.) But for now, it’s an even dozen!
However, last night was about way more than just singing — it was about getting in touch with your inner diva. That’s right, folks, this week’s theme was called Divas, and it’s just like it sounds. Each act belted out hits from some of the world’s biggest diva artists of all time. (Can you imagine how upset Jason Brock must be right now? This would’ve been his week!) Needless to say, these were some big shoes for them to fill.
So who came out on top and who failed to wow the judges with their superstar sass? Find out how it all went down below!
Jennell Garcia (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): Jennell kicked off the night by belting out Tina Turner’s classic hit, “Proud Mary.” Her vocals may not be quite up to par with Tina’s, but her entertainment factor was off the charts. Girl was all over that stage almost to the point of making the backup dancers look lazy. L.A. announced that she has returned to the competition and Britney went so far as to say that Tina would be proud (clever). Even the biggest diva of them all, Simon Cowell, had nothing but praise to give her and said she was officially back in the game. We’ll just have to wait and see if she’s rolling in the votes (see Britney, I can do it too!).
Tate Stevens (Over 25 — Team L.A. Reid): Next up was Tate who sang a beautiful rendition of Shania Twain’s “From This Moment.” It obviously doesn’t rank very high as far as big diva songs go (especially with that adorable country twang of his), but it was sweet and very romantic. Couple that with the fact that he basically sang it directly to his wife and he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand...and the judges weren’t too far behind. Britney was overwhelmed by how heartfelt the performance was and Simon said it was even better than last week. And given the fact that he received the highest number of votes during Thursday night’s results show, that’s really saying something. Break out your checkbook, Simon, because you might be writing this guy a $5 million check in the very near future.
Diamond White (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Still fresh off her surprising save from last week, Diamond proved her worth to the competition by bravely taking on “Halo” by one of the hottest divas in Hollywood, Miss Beyonce. It’s a difficult song to tackle, and even though things started off a little shaky, by the time she got midway through the song, she completely owned it. (Though, did anyone else wish she had sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend?” No? Just me?) All this girl needs is a little more practice and she’ll be a true musical gem. Demi praised her performance and said that she gives the rest of the competition a run for their money ($5 mil to be exact). Simon announced that he’s looking at a future star. This girl definitely knows how to bounce back. Who runs the world? Diamond!
Beatrice Miller (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Beatrice tackled Cindi Lauper’s “Time After Time” hit to some mixed reviews. She did a great job of making the song her own and her vocals were definitely stronger from last week, but her performance level could still use some improvement. L.A. didn’t like the song choice, claiming it didn’t allow her to peak with her vocals. Meanwhile, Simon liked her vocals, but thought the song itself was boring overall. This, of course, led to a diva showdown between Britney and Simon, where Britney quipped: “Simon, she has more talent in her pinky than all of your acts combined.” Rawr! And the claws come out.
Lyric 145 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): True to form, Lyric 145 did yet another mash-up, this time with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Katy Perry’s “E.T.” Simon started off explaining that the song selection was changed at midnight, giving them only a few precious hours to practice before show time. (Allegedly, this was to prove just how hard they’ve worked on their performance, but personally I think it was Simon’s attempt to get some extra pity votes.) Regardless, the change wasn’t made in vain and quickly brought the crowd to their feet. It was fun and full of energy, but still a little too chaotic for my taste. L.A. thought it was an improvement from last week’s “disaster,” but he still felt like they’ve lost their way in the competition. Cut to Simon Cowell’s Level 5 Diva Face. He does not agree.
Arin Ray (Teens — Team Britney Spears): Arin got assigned to sing “Crazy For You” by Madonna, which conveniently turned out to be quite the appropriate song for this week because — surprise! — Arin has a not-so-secret crush on Fifth Harmony singer Normani and he’s not afraid to show it (or at least sing about it). Aside from the wrong music cue at the beginning, the performance wasn’t that bad…but it wasn’t that good either — at least not to the caliber that it should be at this point in the competition. It’s now or never, my friend. This is no time to be holding back — which is something the judges had no trouble doing during their comments. L.A. said that it didn’t feel like a $5 million performance, while Demi harshly chimed in saying that he completely lacked soul (I’m assuming she meant musically, not spiritually). Then Simon remarked that asking him to take on that song was like asking a cat to eat a tiger…so that’s helpful and not at all confusing. Either way, the judges weren’t fans of the performance and given that he was 11 in the rankings last week, this could very well have been Arin’s swan song.
Paige Thomas (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): Proving that she can be the diva of disco, Paige busted some serious moves while singing, “Last Dance” by Donna Summer. L.A. and Simon called it her best performance so far, but Simon felt that the dancers were a little too distracting, to which she responded saying, “I like my dancers, Simon.” Spoken like a true diva, don’t you think?
Fifth Harmony (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): It wouldn’t be a true diva night without a Mariah Carey song thrown into the mix, and who better to sing it than the girl group with the excessive name changes (if that isn’t diva-type behavior then I don’t know what is). But in all seriousness, “Hero” was the perfect song choice for this particular girl group. They are so great at harmonizing and really making each song their own; you can’t help but feel mesmerized by their performances. There’s no doubt in my mind, these ladies could go all the way.
Carly Rose Sonenclar (Teens — Team Britney Spears): In my opinion, there are some songs that should never be replicated simply because nobody would ever be able to do them justice. But Carly Rose managed to tear my little theory to shreds after her outstanding performance of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” The Titanic theme song is usually untouchable, but the quality of this girl’s voice could have rivaled the real Celine herself. It was incredible and left the judges completely awe-struck. Oh, and did I mention she’s only 13 years old? Thirteen My karaoke skills suddenly don’t seem so impressive.
Vino Alan (Over 25 — Team L.A. Reid): Vino performed a rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” and while the guy certainly has some powerful singing chops, this particular performance had me feeling a little underwhelmed. There was just nothing memorable about it (I started mentally organizing my grocery list halfway through). Don’t get me wrong, he deserves to be in this competition, but it just wasn’t his night to shine.
Emblem3 (Groups — Team Simon Cowell): The future boy band of America sang “No One” by Alicia Keys — a surprising song choice, but one that seemed to work rather well. Granted, these guys could probably elicit just as much excitement singing the “Happy Birthday” song, but they still have some genuine vocal talent that deserves recognition. And just in case America needed another reason to love these guys, Simon revealed that they also saved kittens earlier this week. So vote for them, guys! Think of the kittens!
CeCe Frey (Young Adults — Team Demi Lovato): CeCe ended the show on a very emotional note, singing Celine Dion’s “All By Myself.” It was a tall order to fill…and she couldn’t quite pull it off. There were some definite pitch problems and it was just a terrible song choice in general. But why review something yourself when you can have Simon do it for you: “The song was called ‘All By Myself.’ That would have been better all by yourself…like with no one in the room.” Sometimes, you just gotta love that man.
But like it or not, not one but two acts will be shown the door during Thursday night’s results show, rounding out our Diva Dozen to the Top 10. Based off of this round of performances, who do you think deserves to sing another day and who should be given the boot? Sound off in the comments below!
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
[Photo credit: FOX]
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Based on books by Besson (yes he writes books too) we meet Arthur (Freddie Highmore) a 10-year-old kid living on his grandparents’ farm. But there’s trouble: Arthur’s grandfather has mysteriously disappeared and now a real estate developer wants the land Arthur’s grandma (Mia Farrow) doesn’t have enough money to keep. Maybe the solution lies in his grandpa's treasure which is hidden somewhere on the "other side" in the land of the Minimoys. Who are the Minimoys you ask? Why they are creatures that live in Arthur’s backyard just a tenth of an inch tall--that’s who. The only hope is for Arthur to enter into this miniature world become a little pointy-earred wild-haired Minimoy find the treasure in the forbidden city and save the day. For this adventurous boy that’s no problem. Arthur and the Invisibles doesn’t lack star power that’s for sure. Along with sweet-faced high-spirited Highmore (taking a step down from Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in my opinion) and Farrow (who looks a little Minimoy-ish herself) we have the voices of: Madonna as the plucky Minimoy warrior princess; Jimmy Fallon as her younger klutzy brother; Robert De Niro as their father the king; Harvey Keitel as a kindly wizard; Snoop Dogg as a weird-looking miniature denizen who runs a dance club; and David Bowie as the evil ruler of the forbidden city. That’s some eclectic lineup--too bad they couldn’t all click. Poor Madonna--even her animated voice-over efforts can’t make the grade. We all know how creative French filmmaker Luc Besson can be. His offbeat sensibilities can be seen in his tense crime dramas La Femme Nikita and The Professional as well as his wildly imaginative sci-fi cult favorite The Fifth Element. But he’s been taking a break from making his own films producing and apparently writing children’s books instead. Arthur and the Invisibles is his first directorial effort since the 1999 movie The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc and while it definitely taps into Besson’s fanciful notions--which is probably even more evident in the novels--it doesn’t necessarily translate as well to the big screen. Invisibles’ animation is lush and there’s a lot to look at but it’s almost too busy while the tepid yet convoluted story drones on. Invisibles is definitely not adult-friendly.
Sharon Osbourne doesn't want camera crews in her home anymore. "The Osbournes" matriarch told Barbara Walters in a special interview for ABC's 20/20, which will air Wednesday, she wants to end the popular MTV series chronicling the life of her family after the upcoming season. "This is definitely the last year," Sharon, 50, told Walters in excerpts of the interview released by Walt Disney Co.'s ABC network to Reuters. "We can't do it anymore. Another 10 shows and I'm out." Sharon, who was diagnosed with colon cancer over the summer, says the strain of living in a fish bowl has been hard on her family and she regrets agreeing to do the show in the first place. A MTV spokeswoman told Reuters there was no immediate comment from cable music network.
Jonathan Harris, best known for his role as the infamous Dr. Zachary Smith on the hit '60s show Lost in Space, died Sunday from a blood clot in his heart while receiving therapy for a chronic back problem in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 87.
Andy Garcia is joining the legion of actors-turned-directors by choosing The Lost City, a story about the waning golden days of Havana, Cuba, as his directorial debut. He'll also star with Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Benicio Del Toro, Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt, playing a nightclub owner caught up in Cuba's political turmoil in the late 1950s.
According to Variety, ABC is developing an hour-long drama loosely based on the 1998 Steven Soderbergh film Out of Sight starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. The series will focus on the tough but sexy U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco (played by Lopez in the film) as she balances her career and personal life, with focus on her relationship with her father.
Celine Dion is getting into the car business. The New York Times reports she has entered into a cross-promotional partnership with Detroit carmakers Chrysler which includes her appearance in their advertisements, the use of her music and even a special Chrysler song she will sing. The deal is said to be a very lucrative one for the 34-year-old diva, currently in Brussels rehearsing for her Las Vegas show.
Even if their TV show may be no more after next season, the Osbourne family will be hosting the 30th annual American Music Awards at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium. The three-hour ABC special will air at 8 p.m. Jan. 13.
The writings of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain, who took his own life in 1994, have hit the bookstores Monday. The Associated Press reports Journals is a collection of photocopied pages from Cobain's personal journals that includes the singer's doodles, a quiz he made up for driver's education, a love letter to his wife Courtney Love and even a recipe for shrimp salad.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer is set to marry her film producer boyfriend Matthew Vaughn in England on May 25, Reuters reports. The story surfaced in a recent issue of the German society magazine Bunte, which did not provide a source for the report. The magazine said 300 guests have been invited to the ceremony, including Madonna and Elton John, and that the couple was viewing English churches as possible locations. Schiffer, 31, and Vaughn, also 31, have been together for 16 months.
The woman who accused Celine Dion's husband of raping her in Las Vegas in March 2000 has been arrested in Pasadena, Calif., for check forgery and is being held on $500,000 bail, The Associated Press reports. Lawyers for Dion's husband, Rene Angelil, are hoping Las Vegas police will consider Yun Kyeong Sung Kwon's arrest in evaluating her credibility and motivation in the case.
In the Biz
Ethan Hawke, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in the 2001 cop drama Training Day, recently made his directorial debut with the film Chelsea Walls. The movie is about New York's Chelsea Hotel, which over the years has housed punks, artists and authors.
Sony-based Revolution Studios had greenlighted a feature film version of the Dark Horse Comics' Hellboy, Variety reports. Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2) will direct the pic, with Ron Perlman being eyed to star as Hellboy, a red-skinned giant with a metallic left hand who happens to look like Satan.
Walt Disney Pictures is shooting a large-format prequel to the 1979 classic Black Stallion with director Simon Wincer (Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) at the helm. Shooting on The Young Black Stallion in Namibia is expected to wrap this month, Variety reports.
Universal Pictures is hoping Harrison Ford will take the title role in Scott Frank's big-screen adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel A Walk Among the Tombstones. According to Variety, Ford gave Frank notes for reworking the screenplay and could possibly sign on to work on the project after he completes an untitled Ron Shelton film at Revolution Studios.
Nicolas Cage is in talks with Warner Bros. to star in the upcoming drama Matchstick Men directed by Ridley Scott. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the film, which is based on the yet-to-be-published novel by Eric Garcia, is scheduled to begin this summer.
The Robert Blake murder case seems to be doing wonders for CNN. The AP reports that the news network had its biggest primetime audiences of the year last Thursday when Blake was charged with the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. That's good news for CNN, which has fallen to second place behind Fox News Channel in this year's cable news ratings.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the no-holds-barred martial arts franchise that combines karate, boxing and wrestling, will launch the sport on multiple broadcast platforms with weekly primetime slots. While the UFC is already an established pay-per-view and live gate draw, the lack of rules and safety guidelines had prevented it from becoming a full-fledged sport in the past.
Forget ultimate fighting. What about Ultimate Dodgeball? According to Variety, Zoo Prods. is shopping cable networks with the proposed 13-episode weekly reality series that would include pitting celebrities against a team of regular people in a game of dodgeball. Last month, Zoo organized the Celebrity Dodgeball Tournament fundraiser that featured Matthew Perry, David Spade, Courteney Cox Arquette and Jeff Probst.
The FX network has greenlighted the controversial cop series The Shield for a second cycle of 13 hour-long episodes, Variety reports. The show's future was recently called into question when at least 11 advertisers, including Burger King, Subaru and Office Depot, backed out because of the show's degree of violence and sexual content.
Parents of the members of the teen boy band Dream Street have filed a lawsuit against the group's creators, seeking back pay and the release of the singers from their current contracts. The suit alleges the boys were exposed to alcohol, women and pornography, but Louis Baldonieri and Brian Lukow claim the parents are the ones setting a bad example, saying the adults were "teaching kids you can sign anything, then lie, cheat and defame people for your benefit," the AP reports.
Bono's going on tour, but not as the frontman for his rock band U2. Starting May 20, Bono will be traveling to parts of Africa with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, the AP reports. Bono is a longtime aid promoter for Third World countries.
Morgan Freeman will be the guest of honor at Brazil's first Afro-Brazilian/African-American film festival and will present his latest film High Crimes on opening night, Variety reports. AfroFest kicks off in Rio de Janeiro Thursday and runs through May 2. Other screenings include Spike Lee's Bamboozled and Carlos Diegues' Chica da Silva.