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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 »

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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 »

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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Briefly: This is the sort of short news that might usually be dropped into an aggregate Casting Notes piece, but after seeing Winter’s Bone this weekend I’m too high on John Hawkes to sideline him like that. Hawkes is a magnificent presence in Winter’s Bone, contributing a great deal to one of the year’s best films.

So I’m excited that he’ll now be a part of Steven Soderbergh‘s Contagion, the “ensemble piece about the spread of a H1N1-type disease on an international scale.” (via Movieweb.) He’ll work alongside  Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. Quite a cast, but I have no doubt that Hawkes can stand shoulder to shoulder with all of them.

If you haven’t seen Winter’s Bone, you should still know Hawkes from Deadwood, Eastbound & Down, Lost or Me, You and Everyone We Know. He’s one of the best character actors working. Please catch Winter’s Bone (trailer here) if it’s playing in your town, and hopefully you’ll find it to be the antidote to a pretty crappy summer movie season. And you’ll probably end up anticipating Hawkes appearances in movies like Contagion even more.

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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Winter’s Bone Trailer and Poster

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We missed posting this earlier this week, but I can’t totally pass up the chance to highlight the trailer for Winter’s Bone, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

I quite like the look of the photography here, which is mostly naturalistic, but with a tinge of something fantastic, like the edges are just starting to fray. Add moments with Garret Dillahunt, John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence, who has been getting the breakout performance accolades this year that were showered upon Carey Mulligan in 2009. Read More »

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Deadwood alum John Hawkes has joined the cast of the sixth and final season of LOST, and producers of Fox’s 24 are planning for the possible end of the series. Details after the jump.

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