Toy Story 3

People like to see the same plots rehashed over and over again. That’s how James Bond became such a long and successful series, isn’t it? Following Pixar’s success with Toy Story, the animation studio looked to follow a sort of pattern, but it wasn’t so much in terms of the storyline as the setup of having an ensemble of characters where each was representative of a different kind of some such (usually titular) thing. Toy Story starred different toys, then A Bug’s Life involved different types of bugs, Monsters, Inc. involved different types of monsters, Finding Nemo had different fish and other sea creatures and Cars had, of course, different models of automobile. Fortunately, Pixar has gotten a bit more inventive with their basic pitches, but now Disney has borrowed the model for Wreck-It Ralph. It could have easily been titled “Video Game Life” or “An Arcade Story.” There is a bit more to it than this, and in fact I was surprised to find that a lot of the movie is more about sweets than video games, especially where Alice in Wonderland-esque puns are concerned (the “laughing taffy” made me laugh). Overall, I had a good time watching the movie and appreciate the greatest addition to the Disney Princesses roster in years. But it didn’t really feel like something that will become a “Disney Classic,” and not just because our grandchildren will have no understanding of what arcade games are in a way they could relate to it. It […]

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Brave

Brave has already made a milestone for Pixar as it marks the 13th straight release to debut at #1. No surprise for a brand that’s loved around the world and continually crafts memorable movies that resonate with children and old children alike. But where does it rank against other Pixar openings? According to numbers from Box Office Mojo, The Movie Formerly Known as The Bear and the Bow made $66.7m domestically in its first weekend, making it the fifth highest in the production company’s history. Here’s the full ranking:

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With Brave, Pixar’s latest film, not hitting theaters for another month, the studio is still looking to capitalize on some early summer dollars, particularly when it comes to the impending Memorial Day holiday weekend. The three-day weekend has a surprisingly slim release schedule that’s not particularly kid-friendly (its only two wide releases are Men in Black III and Chernobyl Diaries), so Pixar’s decision to re-release four of their most popular films exclusively to AMC Theatres for the weekend is a total no-brainer. From May 25 to May 28, select AMC locations will be showing Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Up, and Wall-E on a rotating schedule as part of the “Pixar Summer Movie Weekend.” Each film will also come with a classic short from Pixar and an exclusive new look at Brave. While it would be nice if Americans used the upcoming three-day holiday to, I don’t know, go outside?, there are worse things to do with your kids (or your adults) than to take them to check out some Pixar classics in theaters. Some of these films haven’t been in theaters for nearly five years (Ratatouille specifically), so this offer will likely provide a first chance for some tiny Pixar fans to see their favorites on the big screen, and that’s a pretty charming prospect. Also, if you go to see Wall-E in an Austin-area theater, the odds are high that you’ll see the Head Reject snuffling into his beard.

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Boiling Point

The Avengers is kind of a major success. What, you hadn’t heard? Of course you did. Avengers box office is on the tips of tongues, internet screens, newspapers, and even within the pages of Time Magazine. You don’t make a billion dollars that quickly without garnering a lot of attention. With attention comes discussion. People always want to be included in the discussion, it helps get a little bit of that attention directed their way. If at this point you feel the need to point out the hypocrisy of this entire thing, go for it. What do I care? In attempting to be part of the discussion and gather up some of that sweet, sweet spotlight, everyone has been discussing the Avengers box office results and asking the question we all ask of super hero teams and double rainbows: What does it mean?

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If you’re “too old” to skulk around all hunch-backed in your own yard looking for the painted eggs your little cousin hid for you, why are you holding that remote with the Pause Button at the ready? We all love hunting. It’s in our nature. Just like we love discounted Criterion titles, free scotch and foot massages that don’t mean anything sexual. So here are some Movie Easter Eggs to hunt down. Bonus one? They involve movies, so you have a solid excuse to just watch movies all week. Bonus two? If you can’t find them, they won’t smell rotten after a few days. And be sure to add your favorite in the comments section for fellow hunter/gatherers:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that hopes you didn’t forget about it. It was busy getting drunk with other movie news columns at Fantastic Fest. It loves to watch Koreans stab each other. We begin tonight with something simple: a character shot from Toy Story 3. There’s no news here, just beautifully detailed Pixar animation. Since this is my first day back after taking a week off for Fantastic Fest, I thought I’d kick us off with something offbeat. Also, it sets the tone for a week that includes articles collected over the last 10 days. Some old, some new, mostly non-news and all interesting.

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Normally, my capacity for interest in “might have been” cinematic trivia is limited to dreaming about the original, darker incarnation of Pretty Woman (just me?), but on certain occasions, other bits of fun knowledge catch my attention. Case in point – last night’s Twitter dump by Lee Unkrich (director of Toy Story 3, co-director of Toy Story 2, and editor of Toy Story) of “also-ran” titles for Pixar’s most beloved franchise. Pixar fans and movie buffs have long known that Toy Story was never meant to be the project’s official title, it was simply used as a working title for the film before Pixar chose something more permanent. The search for an official title led the filmmakers to ask all of Pixar to submit ideas, leading to over 200 possible titles. Yet, none of those titles seemed as appropriate as the deceptively simple Toy Story. Unkrich took to his Twitter last night to share some of those rejected titles, and even this small batch shows the spectrum the submissions ran, from the funny (Toyz in the Hood) to the simple (The New Toy) to the groan-worthy (Rex’s First Movie) to my favorite (Bring Me The Arm of Buzz Lightyear). You can check out the full list of titles that Unkrich revealed after the break.

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Culture Warrior

I’m not a parent, but I know that you’re a bad one. You know why? Because you probably took your kids to see Cars 2 this weekend. I know what you’re thinking: “What’s wrong with Cars 2, it’s just a harmless little kids movie.” Well, it’s destroying America with it’s anti-oil message, indoctrinating our children to become Prius-buying, David Simon-worshipping tree huggers so the late-term-aborting hippie liberals at Pixar can do their part in carrying out Hollywood’s takeover of family values. You’re probably thinking, “But Landon, children typically don’t understand subtext. And when children grow up in a free democratic society such as ours they often question for themselves the values and ideas they were exposed to as children and eventually adopt a perspective that makes the most sense to them, thus making your use of ‘indoctrination’ hyperbolic and short-sighted. Anyway, even if they did understand what Pixar was doing, children don’t give a ratatouille’s ass about politics, the free market, offshore drilling, or our over-reliance on fossil fuels. They just want to watch a movie about talking cars. Also, being a child of the late 80s/early 90s, you grow up with a lot of environmentally-aware children’s entertainment like Jim Henson’s TV show Dinosaurs and movies like FernGully and The Brave Little Toaster, yet those didn’t inform your political perspective in either direction just as they didn’t make you think dinosaurs wore clothes and acted like the cast of All in the Family.” That would all be fine and dandy […]

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as DogEatsHeart and 5Obstructions5 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair apply some sun screen and some green screen in order to forecast how the movies of Summer 2011 might shape up. Is there a secret weapon to its inevitable success? Is its success inevitable? Anything would be better than last year, right?

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Tonight’s the night! You find out if you will take top prize in your office pool, and, you know, you’ll get to see which fantastic films are most celebrated with little naked statues of gold. If you love the Oscars, hate them, or pretend to hate them while sitting riveted to the broadcast, one thing is clear: tonight is a night to celebrate the best in filmmaking. We love movies. So do you. Tonight we can all celebrate our favorites of 2010 even if they don’t win and even if they weren’t nominated. As for those in the running, they are all beautiful works of art, they’re all winners tonight, they went out on the field and gave 110%…and…yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. This Sunday’s 83rd Annual Academy Awards will be the second year in a row featuring ten nominees up for Best Picture, and once again that means a list inflated with titles that have zero chance of winning the award. No one really believes the idea was a good one, but it caters to a wider array of movie fans happy to see their favorite of the year get nominated. The five “actual” contenders this year are Black Swan, The Fighter, 127 Hours, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network with those final two films as the front-runners. The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red…

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. The process of making a film involves thousands of moving parts and pieces from the actors to the director to the caterers and beyond, but arguably the most integral aspect of the process is the script. I say arguable, but I’m only being polite. The script is the most important part of a film… it’s responsible for the words coming out of the actors’ mouths, for the shifts in story, for the very tale itself. Actors bring it to life and the director makes it a visual reality, but it all starts from the script. An argument could be made that scripts adapted from a previous source have most of the heavy lifting already done for them, but the ones making that case have most likely never written a script. It may be an advantage to have the story beats clearly marked out for you in advance, but it doesn’t make the process of writing a smart, entertaining, and well crafted screenplay any easier. This year sees a mixed bag of nominees in the Adapted category, and while one film seems to be a lock to win there’s at least one nominee that just don’t belong on the same stage. I’m looking at you Toy Story 3. The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red…

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. As you may know, Robert Ebert is promising $100,000 to anyone who can predict every single Oscar win this year. Going 24 for 24 is an impressive feat, unless you have an ethically questionable friend that works at PricewaterhouseCoopers. But, if you have that, why would you be wasting your time on a measly $100,000? Exactly. I don’t have that friend, but I have a graphing calculator and a lot of free time, so I came up with the predictions that I’ll be submitting to Ebert’s contest. I’d better not get a subscription to Red Book or something  for sharing my email information with him. Check out who I think will win the awards on Sunday (written in bold), tell me why I’m dead wrong, and put your money where your mouth is by entering the contest yourself.

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There’s no secret that the certified sub-sections of “best picture” are not only somewhat backhanded, they’re getting increasingly more robbed of any shred of surprise at who the potential winner is as the Academy expands the number of films qualifying for the biggest prize. Increasing the number of nominees to ten whilst retaining the sub-categories of, generally, the same award (best animated *film*, best foreign *film*, best documentary *film*…) seems nearly needless; especially in this particular category because Pixar has removed any degree of competitiveness the past two years.

It isn’t because Pixar has a stronghold on the award of Best Animated Film itself (despite their current 4 for 6 record and running on 3 consecutive), but mainly because now that the Best Picture category has been extended to 10 films they’re more likely to have already announced the winner of a sub-category film by having announced the nomination of one (and only one) of the sub-category films in the larger category.

It is still nice to see as many films as possible get deserved recognition even though there’s about as close to a guarantee that they will lose as can possibly be without actually being able to guarantee a guarantee. Though, assuming the illogical can actually occur it would be interesting to see the black hole in the Oscarverse that would develop if Toy Story 3 is not announced as the victor.

As such, the Winner and two “Waydagoers” are…

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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It has been previously reported that both Universal and Relativity are vying to put together competing live action Snow White Films for 2012. Universal has been hard at work on Snow White and the Huntsman which reportedly is going to star Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Viggo Mortenson, and Relativity is putting together The Brother’s Grimm: Snow White directed by Tarsem Singh, who made 2000’s The Cell. This has made Disney very angry. Sensing a couple of upstarts treading on their fairy tale turf, they have hired Oscar nominated Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt to pen a Snow White film of their own called Snow and the Seven. This version of the popular tale will take place not in its traditional setting, but in 19th century China. The story will center on an Englishwoman who travels to Hong Kong for her father’s funeral only to find that she has become the target of her evil stepmother’s scheming. Oscar winning production designer John Myhre has also been brought on to begin to create the look of the film. While Universal and Relativity will theoretically have the chance to get their Snow White projects made and out to theaters first, this new flurry of activity from the Disney camp can only be sending one message: “Get off of my land!” Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Awards Season junkie and editor-in-chief of In Contention, Kris Tapley, joins us to shoot the bull on the Oscars. We’ll be roasting that bull on a spit and serving it for our live-blog next month. Could Natalie Portman lose her sure-thing Oscar? Why did Inception never have a chance at Best Picture? Who will win Best Costume Design?!? We ask the tough questions. And then answer them. Plus, we also review The Mechanic in case you’d rather see something blow up besides an actor giving a thank you speech. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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At the end of the 90s, famous Oscar show writer and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Bruce Vilanch claimed that, “Generally with the Oscars…there isn’t much you can do until the nominations are announced. Then you know what kind of year you’re dealing with – what’s been overlooked, what the issues are.” He was talking about preparing to write the show, but it applies to everyone from the directors, producers and stars on down to the fans. It’s fun to guess around the water cooler (your office still has a water cooler?), but until now, it’s all been speculation. Thankfully, almost all that speculation has been spot on, so we can all continue our conversations about whether Black Swan will beat The Social Network for Best Picture. Whether Natalie Portman has any true competition for Best Actress. Whether, most importantly of all, Colleen Atwood will beat Mary Zophres for Best Costume Design. Here they are. The 2011 Academy Award nominees:

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In most years of film one can logically find a common theme amongst a decent number of pictures to apply a label that sort of embodies what that year may represent in hindsight. Such as, the year of the Animated Film if a bunch of strong animated pictures were released, or the year of Jude Law if Jude Law did stuff, or the year of the R-Rated sex comedy if there were a bunch of films that made you remember you’re comically bad at sex.

The theme is usually something very superficial and easy to locate, unlike certain things difficult to locate that make you comically bad at sex. However, I’m somewhat of an introspective individual. I don’t like to buy into simply what’s on the surface. I like things to mean more. I like the potential of finding something connective between some generally unrelated material.

Basically what I’m saying is I like to make shit up for the purpose of entertaining journalism. Yet, despite my reaching deep into the abyss of irrelevance I have come back with the knowledge that a handful of pictures from 2010 contain something substantial about them, or contained within them that does work metaphorically as strong advice about particular relationship situations, or sexual inadequacies or troubles.

The fact that I found them in films ranging from children’s fare to horror pictures obviously says more about the film industry than my obsession with finding sex in everything.

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The Producers Guild of America is known for aligning its picks with the Oscar nominations with the startling regularity that can only come when two groups share the same voting pool. That’s why groups like, say, the Hollywood Foreign Press (who I think actually nominated a nip-slip video this year) doesn’t match up at all. The PGA, which announced its award nominees today, went 9 for 10 last year, and by the looks of this list, they might just do it again in 2011.

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