With just days to go until Oscar nominations are announced, the Writers Guild of America has unveiled its list of nominees for their top screenplay awards. As expected, many of these are films that have picked up plenty of accolades already. It’ll surprise no one to see that Zero Dark ThirtyMoonrise Kingdom, and Lincoln are among the contenders. But they’ve made room for some more offbeat choices as well, including LooperPerks of Being a Wallflower, and The Master. (Jason Reitman should be pleased.) Hit the jump to see the list.

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Peter Jackson has not one, but two films coming out in late December. We all know about his little hobbit movie, but he’s also a producer of West of Memphis, the important and emotional documentary telling the story of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, three young men who, in 1993, were accused and convicted of murder. When the case became the subject of a documentary called Paradise Lost, it became a worldwide sensation, spawning several other films and tons of support for the boys who spent 17 years in prison before finally being released last year.

West of Memphis, directed by Amy Berg, is most likely the definitive work on the story and it’ll be released on a limited basis on December 25. After the jump, watch the brand new trailer. Read More »

If you still feel a little confused when you hear the phrase “West Memphis Three,” never fear. The documentary West of Memphis is almost here. Oscar-winner Peter Jackson produced director Amy Berg‘s Sundance darling, which concludes a controversial and epic saga that began in 1994 when three boys from West Memphis (hence “West Memphis Three”) were tried and conviced of murder.

In 1996, a film called Paradise Lost shed new light on the case, painting the boys as innocent, and sparked an overwhelming ground swell of support from all walks of life, eventually leading to their release. Along the way, the directors of Paradise Lost – Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky – released two more films, the last of which was just nominated for an Academy Award. West of Memphis is sort of the authoritative amalgamation of those three films with a strong and much more specific focus on the end of the saga.

The film had its world premiere at Sundance in January and picked up mostly rave reviews. (Here’s mine). Now, Sony Pictures Classics has finally acquired the film for domestic distribution. Read More »

The Best of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival

For ten days each January, in the snowy town of Park City, Utah, the year in independent cinema is set. The 2012 Sundance Film Festival was true to that promise and provided attendees with a slew of films that are sure to be not only among the year’s best, but in the hunt for awards come Oscar time next year.

Along with Peter Sciretta, I was once again deep in the trenches of Park City –  battling bus schedules, lack of sleep, snow, slush and more – to see as many movies as possible to try and get an idea of what the rest of 2012 holds. And it’s looking good.

We all know that the next few months hold an unprecedented offering of big budget blockbusters but companies like Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, IFC, Magnolia and more all bolstered their upcoming release schedules by purchasing some of the best films of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The official awards have been handed out, but what were our favorites?

After the jump read about the best films of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Read More »

The Lord of the Rings saved the West Memphis Three. It sounds like a crazy statement but one of the many things a viewer takes from Amy Berg‘s breathtakingly detailed and effective documentary West of Memphis is that co-producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh spent a lot of time, and even more money, to assist in the legal defense, new investigations and expert testimony which eventually lead to the 2011 release of the West Memphis Three, three men accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Jackson and Walsh got a lot of their money from The Lord of the Rings so, put two and two together, and the statement seems less crazy.

Jumping off where Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky took off with their Paradise Lost documentary trilogy, Berg’s film makes Purgatory, the latest of Berlinger and Sinofsky’s movies, feel elementary. It expands greatly on all of the revelations on that film, and provides new ones of its own that were filmed as recently as January 12, 2012. Whereas the first Paradise Lost was the definitive documentary on the beginning of this massive, controversial case, West of Memphis is the definitive documentary on its conclusion. Read More »

When we started to hear about West of Memphis, the new documentary about the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg, the big question was: what will this movie offer?

The movie was born out of an investigation funded by Jackson and Walsh that seeks to find the real identity of the killer who ended the lives of three young boys in 1993. And it turns out the film might have an ace up its sleeve. While the first press screening is going on right now in Sundance, a press release has been sent out announcing that the movie reveals testimony from three witnesses who bolster accusations that the murders were really committed by a man named Terry Hobbs.

Hobbs was the stepfather of one of the murder victims, and has long been linked to the case via DNA evidence. His ex-wife Pamela Hobbs, the birth mother of one of the victims, has called for the case to be re-opened, and has proclaimed her belief that the West Memphis Three are innocent.

The info is after the break. Read More »

Yesterday we showed you the poster for West of Memphis, the West Memphis Three documentary produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and directed by Amy Berg. At the time I wondered what new ground this doc would find when the story has been so thoroughly covered by Joel Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost films.

Now there is a lively trailer for West of Memphis, which will premiere at Sundance. The trailer shows a bit of the specific approach the film takes to telling the story of the West Memphis Three and the murder trial that swirled around them. The movie is part of an effort to exonerate the trio and find the real killer of three young boys who were murdered in 1993. Read More »

When the West Memphis Three (Jason Baldwin, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols) were freed last year, we learned that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh had been paying for investigations into the case for which the three were convicted. The murders for which the WM3 went to prison are widely believed to have been committed by other parties, and Jackson and Walsh bankrolled DNA tests and other efforts to find the real perpetrators.

Around the same time, in 2008, they started producing a documentary called West of Memphis, directed by Amy Berg, about their investigation and its findings. That film was announced in December, and will premiere soon at Sundance. Jackson has now shared the first poster for the film, designed by the artist Jock. Read More »

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