Alexander Payne‘s never been one to just hire the biggest star he could get. Even George Clooney in The Descendants seemed like he’d been selected because he was the right fit for the role, not (just) because Payne was dazzled by Clooney’s A-list wattage, and Clooney was surrounded by an eclectic mix of comedians, newcomers, and TV stars.

For his next project Nebraska, Payne is taking a similarly interesting approach. Bruce Dern and Will Forte were confirmed as the leads a couple of months ago, and since then Bob Odenkirk and Stacy Keach have been added to the supporting cast as well. And now, for the villain of the piece, Payne has chosen Devin Ratray, best known as Buzz McCallister from the first two Home Alone films. Read more after the jump.

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Paramount has finally given the go-ahead to Alexander Payne to shoot Nebraska, the father/son road trip movie he has been working to cast and get into production since the release of The Descendants. While his last film was a relatively audience-friendly affair — for Payne at least — that had obvious appeal thanks to the presence of George Clooney, Nebraska is a slightly tougher sell, at least to the people who make financial decisions at studios.

Payne plans to shoot the script (by Bob Nelson and Phil Johnston) in black and white, with Bruce Dern and Will Forte now confirmed to appear as an aging alcoholic and his son, who are derailed while on what seems at first like a simple cross-country drive. Read More »

Although there was a seven-year gap between Sideways and last year’s The Descendants, Alexander Payne seems eager to get going on his next project sooner rather than later. The filmmaker has begun casting for Nebraska, the black and white father-son road trip comedy he has set up at Paramount, and he now has top picks in mind for the two leads.

While names like Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and Robert Forster have been rumored for the older role, and Casey Affleck and Paul Rudd have been floated for the younger, a new report indicates that Payne has ultimately settled on Bruce Dern and Will Forte for the central roles. More details after the jump.

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It was seven years between Alexander Payne‘s films Sideways and The Descendants, but the director has a couple new projects in the works. He probably won’t have to wait nearly as long before getting another film off the ground. We know, for one, that he’s working on Wilson, an adaptation of Daniel Clowes‘ comic story.

Before Wilson gets going, however, Payne will likely make a film called Nebraska, about a father and son on a roadtrip to collect contest winnings the father believes to be waiting for him. The development of the movie has taken some time, in part because there was some back and forth with the studio over budget, casting, and shooting the movie in black and white.

The film is still being cast, and since the big deals aren’t done Payne won’t reveal who he has in mind for the role. (Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and Robert Forster have all been rumored, with Forster being the most persistent name so far.) But it isn’t even anything specific to Nebraska that is the most interesting thing today — it is how Payne describes his general approach to finding a story. Read More »

It’s official: 2012 is the year we all learn to pronounce ‘Hazanavicius.’ That’s because Michel Hazanavicius, director of The Artist, is one of the five people nominated for the Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film by the Directors Guild of America (DGA). The DGA award nominees almost always mirror the Oscar ballot for Best Director, so between this and the PGA nominations announced last week we’ve basically got the final Oscar contention list locked down.

The full nomination list for the DGA awards is Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), and Martin Scorsese (Hugo). Read More »

69th Annual Golden Globes Award Nominations

Gerard Butler, Woody Harrelson, Rashida Jones, and Sofia Vergara got up extra early this morning to announce the nominations for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 69th Golden Globes Awards, which will be televised on January 15, 2012.

Returning host Ricky Gervais (called a “naughty, naughty schoolboy” this morning by Aida Takla-O’ Reilly, the president of the HFPA) will likely be the main attraction of that broadcast, but the Globes do get attention for the awards doled out each year, if only for the way that the organization targets films with big stars to show up at the ceremony. How else to explain multiple nominations for Madonna‘s W.E.? Sure, her Best Song nomination could have gone to a tune from The Muppets, but why would the HFPA want anyone from that film at the ceremony?

The Artist, Midnight in Paris and The Help are the big nominees. Check out the full list below. Read More »

Every year at award season, The Hollywood Reporter somehow organizes the schedules of basically every single actor, actress and director of the year’s best films to sit down and discuss them. This, in itself, is pretty spectacular. What’s even better is they release the videos of the full conversations so we can watch. For the 2011 Director’s Roundtable, they’ve brought together The Descendants‘ Alexander Payne, Beginners‘ Mike Mills, Shame‘s Steve McQueen, Young Adult‘s Jason Reitman, Moneyball‘s Bennett Miller and The Artist‘s Michel Hazanavicius to discuss their own, and each other’s, movies, all of which have a good shot at multiple award nominations. Check out the video after the jump. Read More »

Last year, as Alexander Payne was getting going on The Descendants, we got word that he was also planning an adaptation of the graphic novel Wilson, by Ghost World and Art School Confidential creator Daniel Clowes. We haven’t heard much about that project in a bit, but now Clowes says that the film is still in the works, and will be Payne’s next film after the black and white father/son roadtrip movie Nebraska. While I wouldn’t take the “next movie after Nebraska” idea as gospel, it is good to know the project isn’t dead. Sadly, some other Clowes film projects are dead; we’ll run down all the current status reports after the break. Read More »

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