Continuing a tradition that started with last year’s surprise unveiling of the then-unfinished Hugo, the New York Film Festival this week revealed a first look at a work-in-progress cut of Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln.

Though we’ve seen little of the film so far, aside from a couple of trailers, the subject matter and the talent involved have marked it from early on as a potential Oscar contender. Based on the version I saw Monday night, that buzz is well-earned — it’s tough to imagine this film coming out the other end of awards season without at least a couple of little gold men. On the other hand, Spielberg falters by letting the Sixteenth President remain more myth than man, and the resulting film is a polished period piece that only occasionally feels truly vital.

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The story of a guy trying hard to get laid for the first time has been told and told again in many an R-rated comedy, but Ben Lewin‘s The Sessions isn’t American Pie or even The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Instead, it’s a truth-based drama that’s garnering serious Oscar buzz for its star, John Hawkes. The Martha Marcy May Marlene actor plays poet Mark O’Brien, who’s confined to an iron lung thanks to a long-ago battle with polio. At 38, he decides it’s time to lose his virginity, and he enlists the help of a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to do so.

The Sessions originally debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival under the title The Surrogate, and then briefly changed its name to Six Sessions before settling on The Sessions. But whatever it’s called, it’s proving well-loved. Germain called it “truly breathtaking” and named it one of his favorites of this Sundance 2012, and other critics have been similarly enamored. Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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We can probably blame the Bruce Willis sci-fi film Surrogates for the fact that Fox Searchlight has changed the title of the John Hawkes-starring Sundance fave The Surrogate. The Willis film was pretty forgettable, but not quite forgettable enough that Searchlight wanted to go with the original title for the film about a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) hired to, er, ‘work with’ a bedridden man played by Hawkes.

The film is now called Six Sessions, and it will be released on October 26 of this year. Read More »

We’ve been calling Switch a prequel to Jackie Brown, because both films are based on novels by Elmore Leonard, and Switch will feature the characters Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie, originally played by Robert De Niro and Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) play the two guys in this film, and they were recently joined by Ty Burrell. Now the cast has also added Dennis Quaid and Jennifer Aniston as two of the story’s most important characters. Read More »

John Hawkes as a young Robert De Niro and Mos Def as a young Samuel L. Jackson? Sounds fantastic and it’s actually happening. Hawkes and yasiin bey (Mos Def’s new name) will star in Switch, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, written and directed by Dan Schechter. They’ll play Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie respectively, characters made famous by De Niro and Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie BrownSwitch takes places 15 years before Tarantino’s film (itself an adaptation of Leonard’s novel Rum Punch) and features Louis and Ordell as they attempt to kidnap a corrupt real estate broker. There’s much more after the break. Read More »

One of the big favorites among Sundance attendees this year was Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which Elizabeth Olsen plays a young woman dealing with the aftereffects of cult brainwashing.

Fox Searchlight has released a US trailer for the film, which will open in October, but now there is a UK trailer that offers a slightly different — and no less compelling — look at the movie. This was in my top five anticipated films of the fall, and nothing has changed after watching this trailer. Check it out below. Read More »

If the title Martha Marcy May Marlene is too hard to remember, call it “The Four M’s.” That’s what virtually everyone who was in Park City, UT for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival did and the phrase was on everyone’s lips. Many felt “The Four M’s” was one of, if not the, best films at the entire festival. Directed by Sean Durkin, it centers on a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) who leaves her home and joins a strange cult. Her experiences there are inter cut with her return trip home and, over the course of the film, we see how her time with the cult both forced her to leave and changed who she is.

It’s one of those tense, slow burn films fueled by great performances (including one by John Hawkes as the cult leader) which you’ll appreciate even if you don’t love. After the jump, check out two character trailers and posters for the film, which Fox Searchlight will release on October 21. Read More »

Vera Farmiga first broke into Hollywood during the late ’90s, but it probably wasn’t until her acclaimed turn in The Departed that she truly caught the public’s attention. Since then, she’s developed a reputation (well deserved, IMO) as one of the strongest actresses working today.

And soon, we might be praising her work behind the camera as well. Farmiga is making her directorial debut with Higher Ground, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Based on a memoir by Carolyn Briggs, Higher Ground stars Farmiga as a woman struggling with her faith over the decades. Watch the trailer after the jump. Read More »

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