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American Sniper baby
Warner Bros.
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Behold ‘American Sniper’’s Fake Baby In All Its Not-Real Glory

‘American Sniper’ had a record-shattering weekend at the box office, grossing an astounding $105 million from Friday to Monday. It’s already the second biggest earner of Clint Eastwood’s entire career after ‘Gran Torino,’ and with six Academy Award nominations (and great word-of-mouth) behind it, it’s posed to become his biggest hit ever.

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American Sniper cooper
Warner Bros.
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‘American Sniper’ Review: Clint Eastwood’s Aim Is Off With This Disappointing War Film

I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.

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Whiplash 2 shot
Sony Pictures Classics
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The Five Most Pleasant Surprises Among the 2015 Oscar Nominees

Okay, so there was a fair amount of disappointment around the 2015 Academy Award nominations. Everything was not awesome for ‘The Lego Movie,’ robbed of a Best Animated Movie nod, and David Oyelowo’s dreams of a Best Actor nomination vanished when Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper’s names were mentioned instead. ‘Force Majeure’ got snubbed for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination and ‘Selma’’s Ava Duvernay was robbed in the Best Director Category. I just keep looking at the list of nominations and playing “Sad Trombone” over and over again. It’s basically the official theme song of the 2015 Academy Awards.

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Category: General
Blackhat Hemsworth
Universal
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‘Blackhat’ Review: The Mann-liest Hacker Movie Ever

On the list of uncinematic activities, computer hacking has to rank near the top, somewhere between small-business accounting and taking a nap. It’s tedious, static, and solitary work, and what little’s interesting about it is largely incomprehensible to those without advanced degrees in computer science. In a lesser filmmaker's hands, a hacker movie like ‘Blackhat’ would be terminally boring. But ‘Blackhat’ is in the hands of Michael Mann, and that means it’s also stylish, moody, and punctuated by intense action scenes.

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Gone Girl Affleck Fincher
20th Century Fox
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Ben Affleck, David Fincher, and Gillian Flynn to Reteam For ‘Strangers On a Train’ Remake

Google “Gone Girl” and “Hitchcockian” and you get 37,400 results. (37,401, once this piece goes up.) Critics and viewers hailed David Fincher’s adaptation of author (and screenwriter) Gillian Flynn’s domestic drama as a superb modern version of an old-school thriller by the Master of Suspense. Whether that was Fincher and Flynn’s goal all along, or simply an interesting byproduct of their work, it’s interesting in light of today’s news that Fincher and Flynn are looking to reteam—along with their ‘Gone Girl’ star, Ben Affleck—on a remake of one of Hitchcock’s most beloved films, 1951’s ‘Strangers on a Train.’

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IFC Films
IFC Films
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‘Boyhood’ Wins the Golden Globe for Best Picture

It’s been one heck of a journey for Richard Linklater and his movie ‘Boyhood.’ Shooting on the film began over a dozen years ago; each and every year since, he and his cast and crew would reunited to add a new chapter to the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family. Imagine the kind of dedication and commitment that sort of project takes. I had a hard time focusing for the 30 straight minutes it took to write this blog post.

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Taken 3 Neeson
20th Century Fox
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‘Taken 3’ Review: Listen to Me Very Carefully. Your Money Is About to Be Taken.

The former CIA operative turned full-time rescuer of his perpetually kidnapped family at the center of the ‘Taken’ series is famous for—as he put it to the men who took his daughter in the first film—a “particular set of skills” that make him “a nightmare” for bad guys. Here now is a partial list of the particular skills Bryan Mills—played by the 62-year-old Liam Neeson—displays in ‘Taken 3’:

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Category: General
Avengers 2 Hawkeye
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Jeremy Renner Teases A Secret Hawkeye Project

Jeremy Renner would not make a very good spy. The guy can’t keep his mouth shut! If you’re doing something secretive, you’re supposed to keep quiet about it. But earlier today Renner teased something he’s doing for Marvel as Hawkeye, the master archer of the Avenger. And, really, Renner should know better because he works for S.H.I.E.L.D. (and as Jason Bourne’s replacement in ‘The Bourne Legacy’!)

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Kick-Ass Chloe Moretz
Lionsgate
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‘Kick-Ass’ Director Matthew Vaughn Says Audiences “Have Had Enough” of Dark Superhero Movies

As ‘Batman’ goes, so goes comic-book movies. When Tim Burton turned the Dark Knight into a retro-gothic hero, Hollywood followed suit with a slew of heavily stylized pulp throwbacks. (See: ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘The Phantom,’ ‘The Shadow,’ etc.) And when Christopher Nolan turned the Dark Knight into, well, ‘The Dark Knight,’ it sparked a wave of “grim and gritty” movies, with serious superheroes doing and saying serious things in outrageous spandex costumes that had been reimagined as biker gear or body armor. (See: ‘Man of Steel’ [Or maybe don’t.]) There’s been some pushback, but we’re really only now coming out of the trend toward ultra-serious, uber-dark comic-book movies.

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Category: General

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