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Winter Sleep

The running time of his new picture Winter Sleep, three hours and change, suggests weight, but at it happens, this movie struck me as both…

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Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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The Marty Show

Martin Scorsese has an Oscar in his hand. It's his Oscar.

For the first time in 30+ years, Roger Ebert watched the Oscars from home instead of from backstage. He writes about the experience here.

Meanwhile, I spent my Oscar night writing a deadline piece for the Chicago Sun-Times, which had to be filed about 45 minutes before the show was over. Here's the (unedited) final version for the web: The cops-and-mobsters thriller "The Departed," which director Martin Scorsese described as the first movie he's ever done with a plot, took the jackpot prize at the Academy Awards last night. For Scorsese, this was supposed to be a genre picture, not Oscar-bait like "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York," but it turns out that, even at the Oscars, sometimes you can come out ahead when you don't look like you're trying so hard.

Even though there were several "surprises" during the ceremonies, it still felt kind of like the Acada-"meh" Awards. Since none of the Best Picture nominees inspired much passion (don't expect a "Crash"-lash" this year), and none stood out as a Timeless Achievement in Cinema, one winner was pretty much as good as another. And so, the Academy decided to spread the statuettes around.

Of course, the evening's big disappointment was that Martin Scorsese did not join his fellow great directors -- Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang -- who never won an Oscar in competition. Instead, he joins Norman Taurog, John G. Avildson and Sam Mendes as one of the immortals whose name will always, from this moment on, be preceded by the term "Academy Award-winning" as if it were a prefix. (I kid.)

Now, future generations can look back at Oscar history and say... "What!?!? The director of "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "King of Comedy" and "GoodFellas" won an Oscar for "The Departed"?!? Wasn't that the inferior American remake of "Infernal Affairs"?" Well, look at it this way: John Ford, famous for great American Westerns like "Stagecoach," "My Darling Clementine," "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "The Searchers" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," won four Oscars for direction, and not one of them was for a Western. Rest of story at RogerEbert.com

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The Marty Show

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The cops-and-mobsters thriller "The Departed," which director Martin Scorsese described as the first movie he's ever done with a plot, took the jackpot prize at the Academy Awards last night. For Scorsese, this was supposed to be a genre picture, not Oscar-bait like "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York," but it turns out that, even at the Oscars, sometimes you can come out ahead when you don't look like you're trying so hard.

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Rob Lowe, Snow White, "Proud Mary" & the Oscars

Lowe does Snow -- live!

Oh, and so much more. Here's the ideal warm-up for Sunday's Academy Awards festivities: the infamous Allan Carr-produced 1989 Oscar opening number that also features Army Archerd, Merv Griffin, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Vincent Price and Coral Browne, Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, Dorothy Lamour, Alice Faye, Lily Tomlin, and more stars than there are east of Hobart! (Just look at the celebs in the audience trying to conceal their mortification as Snow White touches and bleats to them.) I was just pining for this the other day, and once again YouTube has delivered! This, truly, is the vision of the man behind "Grease," "Grease 2," "Can't Stop the Music" and "Where the Boys are '84" -- all of which he made before the Academy hired him to produce the Oscarcast. No matter what happens Sunday, you can bet it won't top this, although somehow this mega-production-number almost seems quaint and naive by today's standards. Almost.

I had forgotten the new "Proud Mary" lyrics they wrote for Rob to sing to Snow (whose voice is more Billie Burke than Adriana Caselotti, if you ask me):

Now you made it big in the movies Came to Hollywood, learned to play the game You became a star Miss Animated Mama Earned yourself a place in the Walk of Fame

Klieg lights keep on burnin' Cameras keep on turnin' Rollin', rollin' Keep the cameras rollin'! They just don't write 'em like that anymore...

What I wouldn't give for Ellen Degeneres to begin the show as Snow White and bring on Rob Lowe for a reprise...

(Thanks to Chris for passing this along.)

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Ebert's take on the Oscar picks

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Oscar is growing more diverse and international by the year. This year's Academy Award nominations, announced Tuesday, contain a few titles that most moviegoers haven't seen and some they haven't heard of. That's perhaps an indication that the Academy voters, who once went mostly for big names, are doing their homework and seeing the pictures.

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Movie Answer Man (06/01/2003)

Q. I don't know how it is in Chicago, but the critics' screenings in Philadelphia have been heavy with ridiculous security. Critics are scanned, frisked, probed and body-checked. Bags are searched and cell phone are confiscated. At the local screening of Fox's "Down with Love," The Philadelphia Inquirer's Carrie Rickey refused to relinquish her cell phone and was refused admittance to the screening. She demanded an apology from Fox (for being treated "like a criminal") and a refund of the $12 she spent on cab fares to and from the screening. Similar treatment occurred at "X2" and, to a lesser degree, at "The Matrix Reloaded." Do studio officials actually think that full-time, paid professional critics would download one of their films at a screening or be stupid enough to even try? Do you think they take the same precautions at regular paid performances for the public, where such an event is more likely to occur? The thievery of copyrighted works is more likely to occur at those awful evening, radio-sponsored screenings or at public performances. I can't figure out if this is yet another anti-critic ploy by the studios or if it's just another example of the rampant sense of self-importance in the movie industry. (Joe Baltake, film critic, Sacramento Bee)

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