The Academy Awards are this Sunday and if you are anything like me you have a. . .mild interest in watching. Competition in the arts is, lets face it, a little silly. The Descendants and Tree of Life are both about troubled families, and are both brilliant, but how on earth do you compare the two?

But still, but still. . . the films nominated for major categories are almost always worth taking a look at. And some of ‘em may have slipped under your radar. Hence this week’s feature on Recent Oscar Nominees You Probably Haven’t Seen.

To help narrow our focus, I decided to only pick Oscar nominees from the last 20 years. Since I normally select eight titles (I’ve been consistent, in case you haven’t noticed) I decided to do one from the Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director, Foreign Language and Animation categories. Sorry Best Original and Adapted Screenplays, we’ll get you next time. Read More »

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butch and sundance
I’m never sure if I should report any of the showbiz rumors that come out the UK-based newspapers. So much of it is bullshit gossip that never comes to pass. Tonight /Film reader Emmett D sent over a link to an article on The Daily Express website that claims that Tom Cruise hopes to produce a remake of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for United Artists, and is already interviewing potential screenwriters for the project.

According to the unnamed sources (because, if the sources were named, it could no longer be a rumor…), Cruise would play Sundance, the role made famous by Robert Redford in the original 1969 western. John Travolta would play Cassidy, a role originally played by Paul Newman. The article also claims that Cruise has been wanting to make this film for years now, and even got Paul Newman’s blessing before he passed.

I’m actually one of the few people who still enjoys watching Cruise on the big screen, but I can’t even imagine Travolta in a Sundance Kid remake. I’m willing to give almost anything the benefit of the doubt, but even I can’t imagine any good coming out of this. But for now, just mark this as another UK newspaper rumor which will probably turn out to be completely bunk.

VOTD: Tom Cruise with a Lightsaber

Some people argue that any movie would be better with lightsabers. Someone replace a pool stick in this scene from The Color of Money with the infamous Jedi weapon. The same thing was done using clips from The Last Samurai. Looks like someone wants to see Tom Cruise in a Star Wars movie. Thanks to /Film reader Chris H for the tip.

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Paul Newman Dies at Age 83

Oscar-winning film legend Paul Newman has died of cancer at the age of 83. A statement from Newman’s family said: “His death was as private and discreet as the way he had lived his life.”

Newman’s filmography included: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Exodus, The Hustler, Torn Curtain, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Towering Inferno, Slap Shot, The Verdict, The Color of Money, The Hudsucker Proxy, Nobody’s Fool, Message in a Bottle, Road to Perdition, and Cars. Newman was set to reprise the role of Doc Hudson in Pixar’s Cars 2.

He will be missed. Leave your tributes, thoughts, and comments about Newman and his career in the comments below.

Update on Universal’s Slap Shot Remake

Arguably the most beloved, foul-mouthed, politically incorrect sports comedy of all time, 1977′s Slap Shot will see a second direct-to-DVD sequel released later this year. Starring Leslie Nielsen, this one focuses on a “junior league” hockey team, alongside the three actors known as the Hanson Brothers (above), who have milked their pseudo-fame in all three films. Make it four. Today, courtesy of YourMovieMaven, we have an update on Universal‘s planned theatrical remake of Slap Shot from screenwriter Peter Steinfeld (21, Analyze That, Be Cool)…

“Right now I’m finishing writing the re-make of the iconic hockey movie Slap Shot for Universal. I’ve never had so many people hate me for writing something they haven’t seen yet. It’s such a classic film and fans of the original feel like I’m grave-robbing or something. But I think the movie will be really fun and will capture what it’s like to play minor league hockey in 2008. We haven’t set cast yet…”

And I agree. This is a cherry on the sundae of suck. I’m sure we can look forward to remakes of Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke and The Hustler in the lovely future. Back in February, Steinfeld visited Johnstown, Pennsylvania where the original film took place. He hinted that the script would “adhere” to the ’77 film and its location but needed to, “reflect how the world has changed and how the town has changed in the last 31 years. There have been huge changes to hockey in that time.”

Movies have arguably changed more, just see Linklater’s neutered, wheelchair-accessorized remake of 1976′s The Bad News Bears or the asinine fuss over Tropic Thunder‘s Simple Jack. I highly doubt Universal’s Slap Shot redux will boast any lines this funny and filthy, and the American glee in getting away with murder was the, uh, point.

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After mentioning it in various interviews over the years, Robert Redford has announced that his adaptation of Bill Bryson’s nonfiction bestseller A Walk in the Woods will be his next project, with director Barry Levinson said to be on board as well. The meaning of the film’s title is literal, and the plot follows Bryson and his crass, fat ex-alcoholic friend as they attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgie to Maine. Only 10-25 percent of those who attempt the hike in its entirety are said to succeed; after much deliberation, Bryson and co. did not.

“It’ll be fun. I don’t know when I’ve read a book that I laughed so loud,” Redford said to the AP. “Also it’s a chance to take a look at the country. …The backdrop is pretty terrific, if you stop to think of all the visuals that are possible as they go along that trail.”

At one point, Redford was trying coax his friend and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid co-star, Paul Newman, to play the friend, but no word if that remains the case. Personally, I doubt it. After Woods, Redford said he will hop on the gestating Untitled Jackie Robinson Project to star as influential Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey for director Thomas Carter. Redford described the film as an “inside, down to the mats story.”

While a bigger audience probably awaits A Bloody Run in the Woods, I’m a sucker for growing-old-is-cool wilderness films like Redford’s A River Runs Through It from 1992. To bad he’s not directing this one, as he has a killer eye for such imagery, much more-so than on war polemics like Lions for Lambs, but he’s clearly hands-on here.

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