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Australian Horror Movie The Babadook Is In the Running For My Favorite Movie Of the Year

In the running with Boyhood as my favorite movie of 2014 is another work that turns on the challenges of parenting. This one is a tad more insane. It’s Jennifer Kent’s phenomenally scary Australian chiller The Babadook.

This is Kent’s first feature—an astonishing debut. »

  • Posted 11/26/14 at 2:30 PM
  • Movies

Director John Boorman on Young Christopher Walken, Lord Of the Rings, and Violence in Film

If the movies of Irish filmmaker John Boorman have a common theme, it's their shared interest in the restorative value of violence. That central theme, of finding rebirth from the ashes of destruction, isn't easy to swallow, but it's at the heart of many of Boorman's most notable films, including Point Blank, Deliverance, Hell in the Pacific, and even Exorcist II: The Heretic. Boorman was honored at MoMA recently with special screenings of two of his most radical films: Leo the Last, a comic allegory about class warfare starring Marcello Mastroianni; and Excalibur, Boorman's spectacular reimagining of the Arthurian legend. Vulture talked to Boorman about his science-fiction film Zardoz, young Christopher Walken, and Lord of the Rings.

"Zardoz lovers would sometimes rent a bus and go to some outlying place to watch [the film]." »

  • Posted 11/26/14 at 2:00 PM
  • Movies

PSA: The BAM Sunshine Noir Fest Is This Weekend, Sounds Awesome

When you think of noir, you probably think of darkness: the shadowed alleyways, the mean city at midnight, the gunshots that sound unseen just outside the spill of the street lamp. But there’s a sun-bleached counter-narrative in noir — actually, it’s arguably the main narrative, once you consider that Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stalked the streets of Los Angeles, The Maltese Falcon takes place in San Francisco, and James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice unfolds in rural California. Noir itself was largely a counter-narrative, of course, and not primarily to the starchy history of the tradition-choked East Coast. So much classic noir, instead, is about the underbelly of the American frontier — which, in the 20th century, meant California. It’s the dark side of the sunny side, as it were.

Chinatown! The Long Goodbye! Jackie Brown! Inherent Vice! »

Take a Look at the Criterion Collection’s New Cover Art Coffee Table Book

"When people come to visit the Criterion Collection, their first stop is often the art department," writes Criterion Collection president Peter Becker in the introduction to the film company's new coffee table book, Criterion Designs. "We have a white wall covered with metallic paint and magnets where we put up the latest iterations of the cover designs we’re working on. It’s right in the heart of the office, and it is where we end up having many of our most important conversations about movies." Cover art and design for Criterion releases have become such a meme that there are several blogs devoted to mocking up fake Criterion art. Criterion Designs has hundreds of alternate sketches and final designs for cinephiles to browse through. Here are three movies: Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, On the Waterfront, and House.

These Are the Movies Expiring From Netflix on December 1

Move that Thanksgiving feast to the couch, because you have a lot of Netflix-watching to do before December 1, when these movies will disappear from the streaming service. (But given how Netflix has worked in the past, they may be back at some point in the future.) Here they are, in alphabetical order, though if you only have a limited amount of time, can we steer you toward Spice World? No? Well, take your pick.

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18 Movies to See (or Not to See) This Thanksgiving

The holiday season kicks into full gear tomorrow with Thanksgiving. That means food, family, and awkward conversations about why you haven't visited your cousins in so long. So why not avoid talk altogether and go to the movies? Here’s a list of which films are out now and what our critics have said about them.

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  • Posted 11/26/14 at 12:30 PM
  • Casting

Ridley Scott Explains Exodus’s Whitewashing

Ridley Scott's upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings has an awfully white cast for a movie set in ancient Egypt: Christian Bale plays Moses, Joel Edgerton plays Ramses, Aaron Paul plays Joshua, and Sigourney Weaver plays Tuya. But Scott says he has a perfectly good explanation for the whitewashing. "I can't mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such," the director tells Variety. "I'm just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn't even come up." Well, there you have it. Better luck next time, all actors who were apparently never even considered.

All Penguins of Madagascar Wants Is for You to Laugh at Its Silliness

You have to respect a kids’ cartoon that kicks off with a Werner Herzog joke — even one so willfully, wondrously stupid and lighthearted as Penguins of Madagascar. The latest installment in Dreamworks Animation’s surprisingly lucrative, globe-hopping, talking-animal franchise is refreshingly devoid of subtlety or emotional resonance or even proper story structure. Its most nuanced joke is its very existence: The penguins were always the best part of the Madagascar series, so now they have their own movie, and the other animals are not particularly pleased about it.

The penguins’ popularity has driven one particular creature, Dave the Octopus, mad with jealousy. »

Young Adam Sandler Loved Dick Jokes Just As Much As the Old One Does

"My mom always told me she went to school with Adam Sandler and I never believed her, until I found her yearbook today," writes Redditor teeejaaaaaay, whose yearbook findings now belong to the internet. Turns out his mom was BFF with a young Adam Sandler (or "Adeem Saandlaar," as he writes.) He also wrote her quite the endearing dick joke — guess nothing really changes, does it?

The Female Oscar Races Don’t Have to Be So Boring

As seems to be the case during every Oscar season, the Best Actor race is currently bursting with potential contenders, and the Best Supporting Actor category is pretty packed, too. Wander on over to the distaff races, though, and you'll hear the same pronouncements from pundits over and over again: "The female categories are awfully thin." "Actress and Supporting Actress are a snooze!" "Where are all the good roles for women?" No. No! I refuse to play along any longer. This movie year has been packed with women doing wonderful work, and though those performances might not all have come in conventionally Oscar-worthy movies and will therefore likely be overlooked by the Academy, that doesn't mean they aren't worthy. If the Oscars would simply deign to include these eight terrific women (all of whom are considered major long shots, if they're being considered contenders at all), maybe we could liven up the meager female categories after all.

Nominate Jennifer Lawrence for Mockingjay! (We're serious.) »

How to Prepare Your Hanksgiving Meal

This piece originally ran in November 2013. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, we are republishing it.

There is a growing tradition around this time of year, in which families gather for a big feast to honor a national hero who ushered the U.S. into a new age of balancing romantic-comedy charm and serious acting chops: Yes, it is Hanksgiving, a time to give T.Hanks for Tom Hanks. The adults sit in a circle and talk about what they’re T.Hankful for (perhaps this year it’s Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, Broadway’s Lucky Guy, or his delightful Reddit AMA?) and then sing the annual holiday standard, “That Thing You Do” by the Wonders. (Meanwhile, the kids trace their fists and then draw in a Big-era Hanks head.) This new annual event has mostly existed online, but it is time that this tradition becomes less virtual and more edible. To make that happen, Vulture has designed a menu for an actual Hanksgiving feast: We teamed up with our very own Bosom-Buddy blog Grub Street to design a meal of truly delicious and original Hanks-themed dishes. Gather your family of Hanks lovers and get cooking! (And just think of all the screening possibilities for after dinner.)

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Horrible Bosses 2 Proves That Unnecessary Sequels Are As American As Wealth Inequality

With its mixture of raunch, stunt casting, and financial-crisis topicality, 2011’s Horrible Bosses was a pleasantly Zeitgeisty comedy about a trio of amiably bland dimwits haplessly trying to kill their bosses. It was no Office Space, but it had a nice, getting-back-at-the-man kick; big, bold onscreen letters regularly described how much our heroes hated their workplace overlords. The new, decidedly inferior sequel has its share of chuckles, but it’s got none of that edge or anger. In fact, I’m not even sure why it’s called Horrible Bosses 2. It’s not really about bosses or office politics. Its only allegiance seems to be to the law of the sequel: It puts the same characters into a vaguely familiar situation, with diminishing, tepid returns. They should have just called it 2.

“Do you honestly think that hard work creates wealth?” »

  • Posted 11/26/14 at 1:52 AM
  • Movies

Ridley Scott Won’t Direct the Blade Runner Sequel

Exodus helmer Ridley Scott told Variety that he will likely not direct the Blade Runner sequel he developed with actor-scribe Hampton Fancher. "We talked at length about what it could be, and came up with a pretty strong three-act storyline, and it all makes sense in terms of how it relates to the first one," Scott said. He told the trade that he'd produce, but someone else will have to direct — the project purportedly begins filming within the next year. "Harrison (Ford) is very much part of this one, but really it's about finding him; he comes in in the third act," he added.

In other news. »

  • Posted 11/26/14 at 12:28 AM
  • Music

HBO to Air Authorized Kurt Cobain Documentary Montage of Heck

HBO announced today that the Kurt Cobain documentary the world has been waiting for will finally see the light of day, in 2015. Called Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the film, which has been at least eight years in the making, purports to be the first fully authorized feature about the legendary Nirvana front man's life. It's being made with the cooperation of Cobain's family (his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, is executive-producing the project), with Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Brett Morgen attached to write, direct, and help with producing. The doc touts nonpareil access and will shed light on Cobain's past by showcasing pieces from his vast archives: home movies, artwork, songbooks, and previously unreleased originals. (Yes, you read that last part right. Sorry, you have to wait till the new year.)

See Jennifer Aniston Go Full Theron in the Trailer for Cake

Cake is not a Doors-style docudrama about the deadpan rock band — instead, it's a dramedy about a snarky chronic-pain sufferer, starring a de-glammed Jennifer Aniston. They're calling it Aniston's Monster, but judging from this trailer, it's got so much more: Anna Kendrick as a ghost! Sam Worthington as a normal human! Filliam H. Muffman, reunited onscreen! There is at least one alternate timeline where this film wins all the Oscars.

Jennifer Lawrence Lived Out Her Real Housewives Fantasy

"I do love my Real Housewives," Jennifer Lawrence once told Vanity Fair. "New York Housewives — and Beverly Hills, New Jersey, and Atlanta Housewives. I mean, I love them all, but Miami — oh, my God! Miami is really special." And boy, did she mean it. Enough to visit the Lisa Vanderpump–owned restaurant Pump with her BFFs and re-create the opening sequence to Housewives spinoff Vanderpump Rules:

  • Posted 11/25/14 at 4:25 PM
  • Movies

Birdman, Selma Lead Independent Spirit Nominations

Though the Independent Spirit Awards don't air until the night before the Oscars, they're among the earliest nominations announced every awards season. So early, in fact, that they were announced today! Only films made for less than $20 million were eligible, which means that potential Oscar heavyweights like The Theory of EverythingInherent Vice, and Foxcatcher were unable to compete (though Inherent Vice and Foxcatcher were awarded the Robert Altman Award and the Special Distinction Award, respectively). Strangely, The Imitation Game was reportedly eligible but was shut out anyway. No worries — that just leaves more room for BirdmanBoyhood, and Selma to clean up, as well as well-deserved shout-outs for Obvious Child and Dear White People. André 3000 even got a nod!

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Joni Mitchell Shoots Down Taylor Swift–Starring Biopic and Taylor Swift

You won't see Taylor Swift's version of "River," it turns out. Although she previously expressed interest in playing singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell in the planned adaptation of Girls Like Us, Mitchell tells The Sunday Times that this will not, in fact, be the case: "I squelched that! I said to the producer, 'All you’ve got is a girl with high cheekbones.'" Mitchell also said of the source material, written by Sheila Weller, "It’s just a lot of gossip, you don’t have the great scenes. There’s a lot of nonsense about me in books, assumptions, assumptions, assum­p­tions." Guess "The Lucky One" was just a big waste of time then, wasn't it?

  • Posted 11/25/14 at 1:06 PM
  • Movies

The Jurassic World Trailer’s 5 Callbacks to Jurassic Park

Thank you, Michael Giacchino, for pulling our heartstrings with your slowed-down version of one of John Williams's memorable cues from Jurassic Park. (It's like this week's version of the sad version of "Crazy in Love" that Beyoncé did for the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer.) But it's not the only way in which the Jurassic World trailer references the beloved first movie in this franchise:

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The First Trailer for Pan, That New Peter Pan Movie Where Hugh Jackman Looks Silly

Here is the first trailer for Pan. No, it's not a Pixar short about an anthropomorphized pan who grows up an outsider in his pan community but eventually leaves the kitchen to save the house, only to return back to the kitchen a changed pan. It's Peter Pan's origin story. If he only knew that one day the actress from Girls would play him on TV so the internet could have something to tweet about for a night.