Steven Spielberg is a busy man, and while his plans to finally make an Abraham Lincoln biopic were announced late last year, we’ve had little news since. We know that Daniel Day Lewis would play the title role, and that Sally Field will be Mary Todd, but other than that, there has been very little to report. That changes today with the addition of Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a big list of other actors who are all in talks now. More details are after the break. Read More »

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YES. One of the most-praised films at Sundance this year was Martha Marcy May Marlene, an effort from first-timer Sean Durkin which stars Elizabeth Olsen as a young woman who escapes from a cult (led by John Hawkes) and tries to begin the process of finding a normal life, only to find that the cult-induced damage may be far more devastating than previously thought.

Now the trailer is here, and goddamn, does it look good. Watch it now. Read More »

The title The Surrogate, to me, immediately calls up impressions of a horror film or thriller, but the movie that has had John Hawkes attached is something else entirely. An emotional thriller, perhaps. The Surrogate is based on a true story and will feature the actor as “Mark O’Brien, a paraplegic polio victim who lived most of his life in an iron lung, paralyzed from the neck down.” But that’s only the setup; there’s quite a bit more to the story than that — it addresses a longing to experience one specific aspect of humanity that such a life would be removed from.

He’s now joined by Helen Hunt, playing the role alluded to in the film’s title, and Moon Bloodgood and Rhea Perlman are on board, too. Read More »

John Hawkes Cast in ‘Surrogate’

The last couple years have been good for John Hawkes. A career of smallish roles and a few very notable attention-getting turns (a notable Deadwood character, the lead in Me and You and Everyone We Know) led to Easbound and Down. With a raised his profile the actor ended up in the excellent film Winter’s Bone, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. While he didn’t win, that’s a pretty huge step for a guy who audiences might not have recognized on the street just a few years ago.

He’s got a role in the Sundance fave Martha Marcy May Marlene, has shot a part in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and is now staying indie with the drama Surrogate, based on the life of poet and journalist Mark O’Brien. Read More »

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For the past few months, Steven Soderbergh has been all over the place with the cast and crew of Contagion. They’ve been shooting in San Francisco over the past week or so, and will close out work in that city with a massive scene at Candlestick Park that involves over 1000 extras. (The production manager for the film described the scene at the 49ers home field as “like a large vaccination center.”)

Before that happens, we’ve got some set pics showing at least one urban setting for the film, which follows the outbreak and effects of a global pandemic. Read More »

After her exemplary performances in Down to the Bone, The Departed and Up in the Air, we all knew that Vera Farmiga was a talented actress. But with Higher Ground, she proves she’s an excellent director as well. Farmiga directed and stars in the story of one woman’s battle with faith from the 1950s through 1990s. Spanning several eras and featuring excellent supporting performances by John Hawkes, Joshua Leonard and others, Farmiga maintains great narrative propulsion by combining humor and debates about faith with a simple story and round characters. Read More »

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There are few movies that fill me with so much discomfort that I can’t wait to leave the theater, even while I’m watching them. Martha Marcy May Marlene, which premiered yesterday at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, is one of those films, a portrait of cult brainwashing that is so discomfiting, I would have walked out if I wasn’t so transfixed by the tremendous filmmaking on display.

Hit the jump for some more thoughts on the film, including a video blog I recorded with over half a dozen movie writers. Read More »

Anything that puts John Hawkes in more movies is OK by me. And the great, until recently underrated actor has just bagged two new roles, so here’s a pair of films to put on your watch list. First up is Chronicle, about which we’ve got little info. Looks like Justin Long will appear alongside Mr. Hawkes and Ryan Philippe, with possible additions that include Mickey Rourke, Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Mara, Danny Masterson and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Jay Alaimo directs, and the plot reportedly features “two childhood friends reunite to launch the biggest marijuana-dealing operation in New York City.” As long as one of those friends is John Hawkes, we’re in good shape. [The Playlist]

After the break, info about The Playroom, in which the actor reunites with his Deadwood co-star Molly Parker. Read More »

2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards Winners

Tonight, the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) held the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards ceremony in New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street. The winners were comprised mostly of films which played earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. A total of 30 films received nominations in seven competitive categories, including: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, Festival Genius Audience Award and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You®. Hit the jump to read the full list of winners and the official press release.

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