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Life of Pi: This Year’s ‘Slumdog?’

'Brokeback Mountain' director Ang Lee’s 3D epic made its premiere at the New York Film Festival.

In February 2010, author Yann Martel received an envelope from the White House. Inside, there was a two-paragraph note: “My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals. It is a lovely book—an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling. Thank you."

The letter was signed by President Barack Obama.

After ten years in Hollywood development hell, that saw directors M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón and Jean-Pierre Jeunet come onboard only to jump ship, Martel’s 2001 bestselling novel Life of Pi has finally completed its journey to the big screen—with Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee at the helm.

Like another highly anticipated fall film, the centuries-spanning saga Cloud Atlas, Martel’s novel would have been unfilmable a decade ago. However, thanks to the rapid evolution of 3D technology, Lee’s silver screen adaptation made its world premiere as the opening-night film of the 50th New York Film Festival (it opens on Nov. 21 nationwide).

Pariah No More

The Return of Joaquin Phoenix

The two-time Oscar nominee’s bizarre fake documentary made him persona non grata in Hollywood—but today he’s being hailed for his finest film performance to date in ‘The Master.’ Chris Lee on Phoenix’s rise out of movie exile and into presumed Oscar glory.

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s searing spiritual drama The Master, Joaquin Phoenix delivers the performance of his career as Freddie Quell, a volatile World War II veteran trying to readjust to civilian life after the horrors of battle. He’s a shell-shocked dipsomaniac prone to fits of ultra-violence who falls under the sway of charismatic cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman), functioning as the so-called Master’s factotum and default enforcer-bodyguard. And in one scene, when Dodd, who leads a religious movement that writer-director Anderson based on the Church of Scientology, is jailed, Freddie gets thrown into an adjoining cell where he is shown delivering the mother of all film freak-outs.

Still shackled, with his trousers in shreds and radiating off-kilter aggression, Phoenix immediately begins wilding out. He rams his head and back repeatedly into a bunk bed and kicks at the metal bars, sputtering and shaking and uttering F-bomb after F-bomb. Then he turns his wrath on the cell’s toilet, hate-stomping it off of the wall in a frenzy of porcelain-smashing rage.

The actor reportedly studied online videos of animals in captivity to inform this out of control behavior but didn’t set out to kill the commode. “I didn’t intend to break the thing,” Phoenix told The New York Times. “I didn’t know that was possible.”

With his vivid portrayal of a wild, unhinged basket case, Phoenix has managed a singular feat: remedying the public perception of himself as a wild, unhinged basket case after spending more than a year pretending to be a wild, unhinged basket case for his last movie I’m Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin. In The Master, the actor basically goes what the movie Tropic Thunder called “full retard” to resurrect his career.

It’s the best-reviewed movie of the year. But does it live up to all the hype? Yes, says Marlow Stern. Hell no, says Ramin Setoodeh. Here, they duke it out. (NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD)

The fall movie season kicks off this weekend with the limited release of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama possibly inspired by the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Distributed by Oscar guru Harvey Weinstein, the film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, a mystic figure who imposes his obscure teachings—dubbed The Cause—to a disillusioned World War II Navy veteran prone to fits of rage, played by Joaquin Phoenix.

The Master is not only being hailed as one of the finest works of Anderson’s career, which includes Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, but also as an Oscar frontrunner. But is all the critical hype overblown? Ramin Setoodeh hated The Master. Marlow Stern loved it. Here, they debate the merits of the film.

Ramin: The critics are salivating over The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s new allegedly-inspired-by-Scientology drama (that has little to do with Scientology), already crowning it as the greatest film of the year. But I’ll tell you what: The Master is a disaster. It’s a long, boring, emotionally grueling movie that will leave most audiences cold, with no payoff. It’s difficult to really describe the film, but the best I can do is to say it’s like a mashup of Tree of Life with The Iron Lady. Doesn’t that sound entertaining?! Go buy your tickets now! Throughout the showing I attended, I was less interested in what was going on on-screen—I was more fixated on the audience. Were they as underwhelmed as I was? I wanted to take a nap.

Marlow: While I’m pretty sure filmmaker Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure) would take issue with your label, since it comes dangerously close to infringing on his “Master of Disaster” moniker, I’d have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. Firstly, PTA’s film seems to have a heck of a lot to do with Scientology. Let’s tackle this. The life of Lancaster Dodd, the mystic leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a virtual carbon copy of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as Scientologist Marc Headley, who was counseled by Tom Cruise himself, wrote for us, and his “processing” sessions—where a subject travels back in time through their memories to recount past traumas—parallels the concept of “auditing” in Scientology. But the thing that struck me as most similar to Scientology is how the film deals with the not-so-latent homosexuality in Dodd. Hubbard posited that homosexuality was a “perversion” and that Scientology could help raise people out of the “low emotion” that “produces it.” There are numerous scenes in The Master that examine this, in particular Dodd’s relationship with Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). Dodd seems to be sexually attracted to Quell’s animalistic nature, e.g. that scene where they’re wrestling with each other on the front lawn after Quell is released from prison, or the scene where Dodd’s wife, played by Amy Adams, gives him a handjob, along with a spiel about “cumming for her” and eradicating himself of negative (read: homosexual) thoughts. Oh, and doesn’t the husband of Dodd’s daughter seem rather… effete? Which explains why she, too, is attracted to Quell, who is pure testosterone.


Toronto Fest’s Glittering Opener

The Toronto International Film Festival’s first four days offered many of 2012’s biggest movies and most outsize performances, from ‘Argo’ to ‘Looper’ and Bill Murray to Marion Cotillard. Chris Lee on Hollywood’s invasion of the Great White North.

Since opening its doors to the world four days ago, the Toronto International Film Festival has lived up to reputation as North America’s most glamorous, most grown-up, and most highly polished cinematic showcase, delivering an abundance of top-tier movies with some of Hollywood’s highest-wattage stars turning in career-defining—if not career-redirecting—performances that should keep Oscar prognosticators talking through the awards derby’s end in February.

The festival kicked off Thursday with the splashy opening-night premiere of Looper, a sci-fi thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a hit man facing unique professional vagaries: he works for mob enforcers from the near future who send intended victims back via time machine. But when Joe’s older self (Bruce Willis) turns up and the younger version fails to pull the trigger, he sets off a chain of violent and spectacular action set pieces.

Looper director Rian Johnson is no stranger in Toronto, having premiered his 2008 indie crime caper, The Brothers Bloom, at the fest. But to hear him tell it, that was nothing compared with this time, when he arred with a $30 million multiplex movie costarring Bruce Willis and full studio distribution. “We had a great time being here with Bloom, but this was just a totally different experience,” Johnson told The Daily Beast. “Just the scope of it, feeling the energy from the crowd. You can probably see the thousand-yard stare in my eyes. I’m still trying to take all this in and process it.”

In terms of social-media bounce, however, Looper was upstaged on opening night by Kristen Stewart’s appearance on the red carpet in support of her sexy turn in director Walter Salles’s adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Posing and preening for paparazzi—for the first time since her cheating scandal erupted into a global Twi-hard furor—in a form-hugging sequined dress and looking generally smokin’ hot, Stewart sent an implicit message: she’s unfazed by the controversy and takes her movie-star responsibilities seriously. Oh, and Robert Pattinson? This is what you’re missing out on.


Toronto’s Best 11 Movies

Ryan Gosling, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brian DePalma, Selena Gomez, the Wachowskis, and Ben Affleck all have movies at the star-heavy Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday. The Daily Beast’s Chris Lee runs down the most Oscar-worthy of the bunch.

With Labor Day gone and summer a quickly fading memory, the city of Toronto braces itself for Canada’s annual invasion by A-list Hollywood star power, tabloid ingénues, ebullient auteurs, and the freewheeling hive of buzz that envelopes them all for 10 white-hot days every September—the Toronto International Film Festival, kicking off Thursday.

Even if the relatively tiny Telluride Film Festival provides a starter’s pistol for awards season, arriving less than a week before Toronto and showcasing the North American premieres of a number of the same movies—early breakouts ArgoFrances Ha, and Hyde Park on Hudson among them—what Toronto indisputably provides is a clearinghouse for the fall’s biggest films. It’s a singular collision of studio-released prestige titles, big-budget genre fare, hot acquisitions entries and, lamentably, more than a few exquisite indie gems that will somehow fail to land distribution deals, never to pop up on the cultural radar again.

Moreover, the festival offers a canary-in-a-coal-mine warning about what will be awards season’s heavyweight contenders. In recent years, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, and Crash bowed in Toronto, picking up film-biz momentum at the festival before going on to Oscar acclaim. And as always, a constellation of Hollywood’s best and brightest arrive in the Canadian metropolis to hype their films, with expected attendees this year to include Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Ewan MacGregor, Ice-T, Noomi Rapace, Tom Hanks, Marion Cotillard, Ryan Gosling, Selena Gomez, Joaquin Phoenix, and Snoop Lion (né Snoop Dogg).

Without further ado, The Daily Beast provides you this rundown of the Toronto International Film Festival’s hottest films:

Telluride Film Festival

Ben Affleck’s Oscar Lock

The ever-evolving actor-director’s riveting CIA thriller ‘Argo’ wowed the Telluride Film Festival. Marlow Stern speaks to Affleck about his most ambitious effort yet.

“This story is so crazy,” Ben Affleck tells The Daily Beast. “If it weren’t true, you just couldn’t make this movie, because it would be too ridiculous.”

Argo, the latest action-thriller from Affleck the director, is based on the 2007 Wired article “Escape From Tehran: How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans From Iran.” The film chronicles the “Canadian Caper”—a joint covert mission executed by the CIA and the Canadian government to rescue six American diplomats who had evaded capture during the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran and subsequent hostage crisis.

With time running out, the CIA enlists Tony Mendez (Affleck), its exfiltration guru, to spearhead the “best bad idea” they have: convince the Iranian government that the six hostages are members of a film crew scouting locations in Tehran for a Flash Gordon-esque sci-fi movie called Argo. To create a convincing backstory, Mendez enlists the aid of Hollywood makeup expert John Chambers (John Goodman) and over-the-hill executive Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to shepherd the screenplay, create comic-strip storyboards, and even take out ads in the Hollywood trades announcing the project. Mendez, meanwhile, provided the cover story, documents—including Canadian passports and forged Iranian visas—and disguises for the hostages and led the mission. The truth about the operation didn’t emerge until 1997, when President Clinton declassified it.

The film received unanimous praise at the 39th annual Telluride Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, with many awards pundits considering it a lock for at least a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Summer Movie Wins & Fails

With fall already in the air and popcorn movie season ending next week, we look back at the season’s surprise hits, biggest flops, and career-killing screw-ups, from ‘The Avengers’ to ‘Ted’ to ‘Abraham Lincoln.’

The summer of 2012 will forever be remembered as a point of no return. It’s when Hollywood’s ugliest fears were made manifest, and the rules of movie-going were rewritten in much the same way 9/11 forever changed commercial air travel. In a season usually associated with bombastic blockbusters and that singular summer cocktail for sweet relief—Dr. Pibb and Red Vines in an air-conditioned auditorium on a blazing hot day—a deranged gunman burst into a packed screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12, injuring 58 others, and forever shattering any sense of security that multiplex-goers had felt.

But even while that off-screen tragedy has managed to overshadow everything in its wake, each year the hottest season comes packed with moviedom’s most expensive titles and Hollywood’s highest-stakes rolls of the dice. In spite of the senseless bloodshed in Aurora, 2012 has been a banner year for both surprise winners and total fiascos.

With a tinge of fall in the air and popcorn movie season officially ending on Labor Day, The Daily Beast looks back at the biggest movie hits, worst flops and career-killing screw-ups from summer 2012.


True Story?

Is ‘The Master’ About Scientology?

Director Paul Thomas Anderson won’t say what inspired his new film. So a former member of the church’s Sea Org took a look at the screenplay and gives The Daily Beast his verdict.

With all of the recent news regarding the Church of Scientology, it seems it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about it. When it was first reported that Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, was filming a movie that took place during the 1950s and was about a curious figure who starts a faith-based organization that catches on in America, a lot of folks in Hollywood assumed this was about L. Ron Hubbard and the church he founded.

No one has officially stated that the movie is based on Hubbard or Scientology. But it has been reported that Anderson screened the movie for Tom Cruise, one of Scientology’s most fervent and devout followers. For a movie that is officially not about Scientology, having Cruise screen it, if he indeed did, sure would seem like a curious move.

People want to know: is the film about Scientology and Hubbard or not?

No one from Anderson’s camp will give a definitive answer. And as for Scientology, “No one in the church has seen the film, and we have no comment,” a spokesman told The Daily Beast recently.

Gold Rush

‘Beasts’ Is the New ‘Slumdog’

The darling of the festival circuit just arrived in theaters—and the Bayou drama seems destined for Academy Award glory. A primer on this year’s buzziest, best-reviewed film.

If you’ve never heard of Quvenzhané Wallis, odds are by the time Oscars are being handed out next February, you’ll be more than passingly acquainted with indie moviedom’s newest, littlest supernova. Given her searing performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild—hands down, 2012’s most acclaimed film to date—it’s just a matter of time before multiplex America gains a working familiarity with the precocious 8-year-old actress and masters the pronunciation of her tongue-twister of a name.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Quvenzhane Wallis, left, and Dwight Henry in Beasts of the Southern Wild. (Jess Pinkham / Fox Searchlight)

That’s because with the theatrical release of Beasts of the Southern Wild this week, awards season has just kicked off in earnest. Although Serious Movies about Socially Redemptive Subjects, featuring Important Performances and showcasing Heartrending Drama usually start tromping onto movie screens with the onset of autumn and keep on coming through year’s end, the awards-season race this year has gotten off to a gallop during 2012’s hottest months.

Critics have been falling all over themselves to conjure original ways to gush over Beasts—the Bayou drama that grabbed a grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, an audience prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and a Camera d’Or at Cannes—praising its magical realism, folkloric rootsiness, and organic performances by non-professional actors. “The movie, a passionate and unruly explosion of Americana, directed by Benh Zeitlin, winks at skepticism, laughs at sober analysis, and stares down criticism,” Manhola Dargis thrilled in The New York Times. “…let’s all agree: This movie is a blast of sheer, improbable joy.”

Must-See Film

A Post-Katrina Fairy Tale

One of the year’s best movies is ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ a fantastical tale of a Louisiana girl in search of her mother. Marlow Stern talked to the director and young star of the film, which won prizes at Sundance and Cannes, and is out June 27.

Benh Zeitlin, the 29-year-old director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s most talked-about movie—and winner of the coveted Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes—is running late. So Quvenzhane Wallis, star of Zeitlin’s film, does what any other 8-year-old girl would do to pass the time—eats a couple of oranges, guzzles a can of Sprite, extols the virtues of Wizards of Waverly Place, and parks herself in front of my laptop computer for a rousing game of Ninja Painter. It’s a far cry from Hushpuppy, her crawfish-eating, vodka-swilling, cardbox box-cave painting character in the film.

And for Zeitlin, tardiness, it seems, has been a blessing in disguise.

After a stint in New York City teaching film at the Grace Church School, followed by a brief sojourn in the Czech Republic working for animator Jan Svankmajer, Zeitlin made his way down to post-Katrina southern Louisiana to shoot the short film "Glory at Sea." The seven-minute, $7,000 film was supposed to take a month but, due to various work stoppages, shooting lasted eight months and the film ended up clocking in at almost 26 minutes.

“By the time I was done with it I knew I was going to stay in Louisiana,” said Zeitlin in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Probably the reason I wanted to do Beasts so much was because I wanted to know why I felt so compelled to stay.”

Cannes Film Festival

Haneke’s Deft Riff on Euthanasia

The Austrian director’s movies often are criticized as difficult or confrontational, but his new film, ‘Amour,’ has enthralled Cannes critics with its powerful treatment of love and euthanasia. Richard Porton talks with Haneke, and the film’s legendary star, Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Rather surprisingly, the Austrian director Michael Haneke’s Amour, which premiered Sunday at Cannes, has proved to be among the most popular films to screen so far in the festival’s official competition. It’s surprising because many of Haneke’s earlier films have been labeled “difficult,” “confrontational,” or even “endurance tests.” Films like Funny Games (1997), in which thugs torture a middle-class family (Haneke directed a shot-for-shot U.S. remake with Naomi Watts in 2008) or The Piano Teacher (2001), which features Isabelle Huppert in the title role as a masochist enamored of sexual self-mutilation, were deliberately designed to make audiences uncomfortable.

As Haneke told The Daily Beast when I sat down with him and Amour’s star, the veteran French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, “Art deals with daily life and life is difficult; it’s our duty as artists to step on people’s toes.”

Although Amour deals with unquestionably somber topics—the shock of seeing a loved one’s body and mind deteriorate, the validity of choosing euthanasia as a respite for suffering— the film is accessible to anyone who has ever coped with a partner or parent’s terminal illness. “Like almost everyone I know, I’ve been confronted with the illness of someone I loved deeply. It’s a very painful experience to look on helplessly,” explained Haneke.”

The plot couldn’t be simpler. Georges (Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired classical-music teachers who still relish each other’s company and the daily pleasures of meals and attending concerts. When Anne falls victim to a stroke, their world is turned upside down. Their middle-aged daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), returns from London to Paris with her English husband but is appalled by her once vibrant and lucid mother’s sad transformation. At one point she remarks to her father, “She’s speaking gibberish … what’s next?” He replies that her condition “will go steadily downhill until it’s worse.” While there’s no facile sentimentalism in Haneke’s portrait of old age, the critics in attendance at Cannes, many of whom could not stomach his earlier films, are apparently responding to the purity of the love shared by a couple who appear totally devoted to each other.

Quirk Overload?

Wes Anderson Divides Cannes

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ may be much more respectable than previous Cannes opening films, but that hasn’t stopped the polarizing reactions that always greet director Wes Anderson. Twee or endearing? Richard Porton reports.

At the press conference for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, a competition entry and the opening film of the 65th Cannes Film Festival, Bill Murray referred to art films as projects where “everyone works long hours and no one gets any money.” Of course, like all of Anderson’s features, Moonrise Kingdom, a characteristically whimsical tale of budding adolescent passion, is the most accessible kind of art film. Unlike many of the foreign art films showcased at previous incarnations of the Cannes competition, Moonrise Kingdom does not include 10-minute takes in which the camera never moves; nor does it require any specialized historical or philosophical knowledge. Given Cannes’ efforts to juggle art and commerce, opening with Anderson’s film is no doubt a canny maneuver. Yet for obsessive buffs, his work’s populist appeal is supplemented by his movies’ multiple playful references to other movies. And Anderson’s all-consuming—some might say nearly anal retentive—attention to art direction and costume design makes his highly personal films much more visually alluring than the vast majority of Hollywood “product.”

The highly enjoyable Moonrise Kingdom, although far from a masterpiece, is certainly a much more respectable opening choice than the clinkers that inaugurated the festival in recent years, from Ron Howard’s Da Vinci Code to Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. But the mild-mannered Anderson remains one of the most polarizing figures in American filmmaking. On the one hand, Anderson’s fans endorse the critic Kent Jones’s 2002 assertion that “Wes Anderson is the most original presence in American film comedy since Preston Sturges.” On the other, a New York-based journalist I chatted with called Moonrise Kingdom “unbearably twee” and “endlessly irritating”—a description that neatly sums up many critics’ and audience members’ palpable hostility to a director who is far from a rabble rouser. When, for example, The Guardian recently posted four brief  “featurettes” designed to promote the movie, the venomous observations from many of the commenters inspired a lonely fan to call for a moratorium on the word “quirky,” an adjective occasionally used to praise, but more often to denigrate, Anderson’s idiosyncratic body of work. Even Variety’s largely favorable review of Moonrise Kingdom chided Anderson for his “smug eccentricity.


Getty Images

If it’s possible to distill any general themes from the outbursts of the anti-Anderson contingent, it seems as if the “haters” assume that his preoccupation with precocious adolescents makes him little more than an overgrown, annoyingly precocious adolescent himself. In any case, Moonrise Kingdom has already provided ample ammunition for both the pro-Anderson and anti-Anderson camps. Set in 1965 on the fictional New England island of New Penzance—which manages to evoke both the sublime silliness of Gilbert and Sullivan and the romance of pirates—the opening shots, for better or worse, signal that we are, without a shadow of a doubt, in familiar Wes Anderson terrain. As the camera glides along the interior of Mr. and Mrs. Bishop’s (Bill Murray, cast in every Anderson feature except Bottle Rocket, and Frances McDormand) converted lighthouse, the spectators are offered a child’s view of an unhappy marriage—the middle-class home as dysfunctional dollhouse.


The Hottest Films at Cannes

Must See!

Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

'Mission: Impossible' excepted, 2011 wasn’t great for Hollywood. But this year looks much more promising—from 'The Dark Knight Rises' to 'The Great Gatsby' in 3-D, all the movies to get excited about.

The Hunger Games (March 23)
Director: Gary Ross. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson.

Hunger Games

Murray Close / Lionsgate

Adapted from the bestselling series of young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins and directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville), The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old in a post-apocalyptic world who competes in the titular annual televised event that pits boy and girl “tributes” against each other in a battle to the death. The sci-fi drama is the first film to be adapted from Collins’s trilogy of books, which have sold more than 8 million copies, and the film, which carries a budget of $100 million, also features supporting turns from Woody Harrelson as Katniss’s mentor, The Kids Are All Right’s Josh Hutcherson as her fellow combatant, and rocker Lenny Kravitz as her stylist. Think Twilight meets The Most Dangerous Game.

The Avengers (May 4)
Director: Joss Whedon. Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson.

Seth MacFarlane's Worst Oscar Jokes

Whether you found him hilarious or lame, it's undeniable that the Academy Awards host gave a provocative performance. Watch MacFarlane's most controversial comments, as he ripped on everything from Clooney's pedophilia to Lincoln's assassination.


They Forgot Who?

10 Oscar Shockers!

10 Oscar Shockers!

All the surprises and snubs from this morning’s Academy Award nominations honoring the best in cinema.

For Your Consideration


The Year’s Best Foreign Film

The Year’s Best Foreign Film

Marlow Stern talks to Michael Haneke about his heartrending ‘Amour’—which deserves an Oscar nod.

For Your Consideration


Ben Affleck’s Oscar Lock

Ben Affleck’s Oscar Lock

The actor-director dishes on his riveting CIA thriller, a virtual Oscar-nomination lock.

Reality Check

‘Shahs of Sunset’ Grade ‘Argo’

Not a History Lesson

What ‘Argo’ Gets Wrong

Crisis Revisited

Love and Hate in Tehran

Reality Check

‘Argo’ Blurs the Truth

Flick Picks: Argo

It's Hollywood to the rescue in actor/director Ben Affleck's new film, 'Argo,' based on the true story of when the U.S. staged a movie shoot to rescue hostages from Iran. Ramin Setoodeh and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers dissect the film.

For Your Consideration

Beasts of the Southern Wild

A Post-Katrina Fairy Tale

A Post-Katrina Fairy Tale

Sundance darling ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ out June 27, is one of the year’s best, says Marlow Stern.

For Your Consideration

Django Unchained

Django’s Damsel in Distress

Django’s Damsel in Distress

In Quentin Tarantino’s dark new movie, Kerry Washington comes face to face with the horrors of slavery.

‘Django’ Fallout

Was Spike Lee Out of Line?

Too Far?

Django Unhinged

Flick Picks: Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino is at it again, directing another star-studded cast in a monumental slave story meets spaghetti western. But is it his best work? Ramin Setoodeh and Peter Travers debate.

For Your Consideration

Les Miserables

‘Les Misérables’ Is a Triumph

‘Les Misérables’ Is a Triumph

Marlow Stern on why the film adaptation of the celebrated musical is the frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar.

Misreading History

‘Les Miz’s’ Bad History Lesson

One Day More

The Best ‘Les Miz’ Flash Mobs

Cheat Sheet

French Revolution for Dummies

‘Les Miserables’

Eddie Redmayne’s Star-Making Turn

Flick Picks: Les Miserables

Does 'Les Miz' justify all the Oscar buzz? Ramin Setoodeh and Peter Travers review the epic big screen adaptation of the celebrated musical.

For Your Consideration

Life of Pi

‘Life of Pi’: Book vs. Film

‘Life of Pi’: Book vs. Film

Was Ang Lee’s film adaptation of ‘Life of Pi’ true to the novel? Mike Munoz explores the differences.

Oscar Hopeful

Life of Pi: This Year’s ‘Slumdog?’

For Your Consideration


'Lincoln' Fact Check

'Lincoln' Fact Check

Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, a consultant on the movie, says in the end it’s not the details that matter.

Sally Field’s Take

Was Mrs. Lincoln Bipolar?

Highlights 2012

Obama Reviews ‘Lincoln'

Come On

Where Are the Black People?


Is ‘Lincoln’ Great?

For Your Consideration

Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence on Katniss and Vaginas

The actress tells Ramin Setoodeh about ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and how ‘Hunger Games’ changed her life.

‘Silver Linings’ 

Chris Tucker’s Comeback Tour

Under the Mistletoe

2012’s Most Memorable Kisses

For Your Consideration

Zero Dark Thirty

The ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Backlash

The ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Backlash

Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-bait film is being falsely accused of promoting torture, says Marlow Stern.

Bin Laden Film

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Revealed!

It's That Opening

Is Zero Dark Thirty Propaganda?

Spies Like Them

Is This the Real Carrie Mathison?


Bin Laden’s Walking Dead?

Flick Picks: Zero Dark Thirty

We missed you, Kathryn Bigelow! In this edition of Flick Picks, Ramin Setoodeh and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers review her not-quite-a-follow-up to The Hurt Locker.