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Film — past, present and future
American Cinematheque keeps the McConaissance rolling

The American Cinematheque kept the McConaissance rolling Tuesday night, giving Matthew McConaughey its 28th American Cinematheque Award in an evening that celebrated the 44-year-old actor's career, his eccentricities and the loyalty and love he shows to his family and friends.

"Matthew's motto is 'just keep livin',' and to that I say, 'We're trying, but it's hard to find the time when we're giving you an award every two weeks,'" host and friend Jimmy Kimmel joked during an evening that felt like a victory lap some seven months after McConaughey won the lead actor Oscar for "Dallas Buyers Club."

A parade of McConaughey's costars, past (Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon) and present (Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway from next month's sci-fi epic "Interstellar") introduced loosely themed clip packages of the 22 years he has spent acting. There were also videotaped well-wishers, including director Richard Linklater, who gave McConaughey his first signature role in "Dazed and Confused," and...

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Meryl Streep to play wannabe opera diva in Stephen Frears' 'Florence'

Meryl Streep is set to play the aspiring opera singer Florence Foster Jenkins in the upcoming biopic "Florence," but she'll want to avoid tuning up much: Jenkins was a famously awful vocalist.

Such is the off-key premise for the movie, which will co-star Hugh Grant and be directed by "Philomena" helmer Stephen Frears, the European film company Pathe has confirmed. The film is currently in preproduction.

Written by Nicholas Martin, "Florence" is based on the true story of Jenkins, a New York heiress and socialite who obsessively pursued her dreams of opera greatness but was the only person who didn't realize she had a dreadful voice.

Grant is to play her partner and manager, the aristocratic actor St. Clair Bayfield, who was determined to protect Jenkins from the truth. He faced a considerable challenge, though, when she decided to give a public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944.

"Florence" will find Streep on familiar ground, as she's been involved in a number of biopics and musical...

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In 'Moana,' Disney sets sail with another female protagonist

Walt Disney Animation Studios has officially shoved off on "Moana," offering a first look at the CG-animated adventure set in the South Pacific and slotting a late-2016 release date for the film.

Details of "Moana" are largely being kept under wraps, but one of the notable takeaways from the announcement Monday is that the movie will focus on — and indeed, be named after — a female protagonist.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker ("The Little Mermaid," "The Princess and the Frog"), "Moana" is to tell the story of a spirited teenage girl and "born navigator" who sets sail in search of a fabled island in the ancient world of Oceania. Along the way, she teams up with a demigod named Maui and encounters mythical creatures and places.

"Moana" thus marks the latest in a string of Disney movies, animated and live-action, powered by strong female characters, including "Brave," "Frozen" and "Maleficent." (Those three films were all hits, grossing $539 million, $1.27 billion and $757...

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Searchlight's grand challenge: 'Budapest Hotel' for best picture

We've been deluged with dozens of variations of "Birdman Soars" headlines in the last couple of days, as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's ambitious tale of a onetime comic book movie star's quest for reinvention opened to great business last weekend, grossing $415,000 in just four theaters.

It's a fantastic take, second only this year to Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which debuted in March to the tune of $811,000 in four theaters. The critically acclaimed film went on to become the biggest hit in Anderson's storied career, taking in $172 million worldwide, including $59 million in the United States.

So why aren't people still talking about "Budapest" as a certified best picture contender? Pundits at the awards prediction site Gold Derby currently have the movie -- a nostalgic recounting of a droll concierge's (Ralph Fiennes) many adventures -- tied for 10th place with Clint Eastwood's unseen "American Sniper" and Paul Thomas Anderson's shaggy dog detective story, "Inherent...

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Santa Barbara Film Festival to honor Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton didn't have to wait long to pick up his first honor for his career-reviving turn in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman."

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will present Keaton with its highest honor, the Modern Master Award, in a tribute on Jan. 31 at the Arlington Theatre.

“There is no actor more befitting of the Modern Master Award than the legendary Michael Keaton," festival executive director Roger Durling said in a statement. "His performance in 'Birdman' is tremendous, showing the range of decades-long experience.”

Established in 1995, the award has been presented to numerous A-listers over the years, including Clint Eastwood, George Clooney and Will Smith. Bruce Dern received the honor last year.

In "Birdman," which opened in theaters Friday, Keaton portrays a fading actor, most famous for his movie franchise work as a comic book superhero, who's mounting a Broadway play to reinvigorate his career (and reputation). It's a self-referential turn,...

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'Fury': How does its box office stack up against other WWII epics?

"Fury," writer-director David Ayer's World War II drama starring Brad Pitt as the steely leader of an American tank crew, rolled into a box-office battle over the weekend and emerged victorious once the smoke cleared. Taking in an estimated $23.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, the film beat out "Gone Girl" for the No. 1 spot.

En route to garnering generally positive reviews and an A-minus CinemaScore, "Fury" demonstrated that WWII movies can still bring audiences to the multiplex. Although it's an impressive feat to win the weekend with a serious, R-rated drama — particularly one whose grim violence can be a challenge for viewers — the "Fury" opening does pale a bit in comparison to some other notable WWII military epics. Let's take a closer look.

Michael Bay's blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" opened to $59 million back in 2001 and remains a high-water mark for the genre (unless one counts 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger" with $65 million, and we don't). Compared with "Fury,"...

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