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Movies Now Film — past, present and future
'War Room' takes early box office lead over 'Straight Outta Compton'

Industry projections of a third consecutive week at the top of the box-office heap for the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” may turn out to be premature.

In the early going for this weekend, “War Room,” is marginally ahead of Universal’s look at the influential Los Angeles hip-hop group.

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As 'Straight Outta Compton' box office streak continues, a look at other summer blockbusters

It's looking to be a trifecta for "Straight Outta Compton." The biopic about the seminal South L.A. hip-hop group N.W.A is expected to be No. 1 at the box office this weekend for the third straight week. So far the well-reviewed film has earned almost $120 million at the box office.

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How a 'sensei' taught Zac Efron how to DJ for the EDM movie 'We Are Your Friends'

In the coming-of-age drama "We Are Your Friends," which opened Friday, Zac Efron's character Cole Carter says all a DJ needs is "a laptop, some talent and one track."

The movie, directed by Max Joseph (of MTV's "Catfish" series), then follows Cole, a twentysomething part-time party promoter from the San Fernando Valley, as he tries to break into the electronic dance music scene.

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The Oscars and Spike Lee: History has always been on his side

Spike Lee's relationship with the Oscars was defined nearly 25 years ago when the Motion Picture Academy gave its best picture award to "Driving Miss Daisy," a musty, modest movie about the relationship between a cranky Georgia widow and her black chauffeur while largely ignoring Lee's beautiful, uncompromising look at American race relations, "Do the Right Thing."

In the ensuing quarter century, Lee has never softened when asked about the academy's vote that year.

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"They're always going to go with the passive black servant instead of a movie that asks tough questions and offers a perspective they might not be comfortable with," Lee told me in a 2008 interview. "The Oscars' assessment of a movie's quality usually isn't held up by history. That's why they don't matter."

Last year, after Ava DuVernay's powerful civil rights drama "Selma" received only two Oscar nominations, Lee offered a characteristically blunt assessment that included a particular profanity tied to any reference to "Driving Miss Daisy."

"That doesn’t diminish the film," he told The Daily Beast, talking about "Selma's" scant showing. "Nobody’s talking about ... 'Driving Miss Daisy.' That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like 'Do the Right Thing' is. Nobody’s discussing 'Driving Miss ... Daisy.' So if I saw Ava today I’d say, 'You know what? ...  ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.'"

It's likely then that Lee will have a few choice words for academy members in November when he receives an honorary Oscar at this year's Governors Awards dinner in Hollywood. (Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds will also be honored.) The event isn't televised, offering recipients the opportunity to speak at length and from the heart without the fear that an orchestra is  preparing to play them off the stage.

Harry Belafonte gave a profoundly moving speech at last year's dinner, receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Belafonte pointedly condemned Hollywood's treatment of minorities in the past and appealed to the film community to "use their gifts" to "see the better side of who and what we are as a species."

So even though Lee, 58, says that the Oscars "don't matter," you can bet he'll use the stage of the Governors Awards to air a bold take on today's movie industry.

As for his appraisal of the 1990 Oscars, Lee -- nominated that year for original screenplay -- is absolutely correct by just about any measure. In the American Film Institute's 2007 poll of film artists, critics and historians, "Do the Right Thing" placed at No. 96, slightly after "Pulp Fiction" and immediately before "Blade Runner." (I'd argue all three should be ranked much higher.)

"Driving Miss Daisy" didn't make the list.

Twitter: @glennwhipp

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Angelina Jolie Pitt's 'By the Sea' to open the AFI Fest on Nov. 5

The American Film Institute announced Thursday that the AFI Fest's opening-night presentation will be the world premiere of "By the Sea."

The film, which is set to screen Nov. 5 at the TCL Chinese Theatre, stars Angelina Jolie Pitt -- who also wrote, produced and directed the film -- and her husband and fellow producer, Brad Pitt.

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Oscars 2016: Spike Lee, Gena Rowlands to receive Governors Awards

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to present its honorary Governors Awards to outspoken filmmaker Spike Lee and veteran independent film actress Gena Rowlands and to present the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to versatile show biz veteran Debbie Reynolds.

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