Screen Talk: No room for Sofia

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The Independent Culture

Between now and the end of the beginning of January, most of the movie-making community stateside are consumed by the so-called awards season.

'Tis the season to garner votes and pretend to be jolly ahead of the Oscars in February 2011. So this year's American Film Institute Awards' top 10 of 2010 caused some hand wringing among the lobbyists for some of the big names missing.

No room for Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, the Nicole Kidman starrer Rabbit Hole, Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island and Blue Valentine, with Michelle Williams. But fears that perhaps the AFI jury had turned its back on normalcy were allayed with The Social Network, Black Swan, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone and 127 Hours making the top 10. It also boosted Toy Story 3's dream of removing its animation category shackles and playing with the big boys among the best picture Oscar nominations and confirmed True Grit and The Fighter as contenders for an Oscar nomination slot. Serious business in Hollywood.

Plane crazy

BlackBerry's have long been dubbed crackberrys and to find anyone in Hollywood not attached to one 24/7 is akin to parties on the Moon. So it comes as a surprise that Josh Duhamel's recent separation anxiety from his communication tool doesn't manifest itself more often among the acting community. Duhamel was kicked off a plane in NYC recently after turning down the request to turn off his BlackBerry slightly too rudely. The excuse? A rep for the actor says he was texting to tell folks his flight was late.

Abigail 's hearty

The magic dust sprinkled on actors working in Mad Men continues to attract attention among casting agents. Abigail Spencer, who played elementary school teacher – and Don Draper mistress – Miss Farrell, a season or two ago is getting big screen work. Spencer has joined the action comedy This Means War, alongside Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.

The movie is currently rolling in British Columbia, under the directing eye of Hollywood's favourite single moniker McG. The story centres on two best pals (Chris and Hardy), who are also covert agents, and fall in love with the same woman (Witherspoon). Spencer plays Hardy's ex-wife.

Flights of fancy

The Flight of the Conchords co-creator Bret McKenzie is teaming up with Aussie comedian Hamish Blake, to star in New Zealand buddy movie Two Little Boys. To be directed by Robert Sarkies, the project is based on the novel of the same name by Duncan Sarkies. The story follows Nige and his recently estranged best mate Deano as they struggle with their imploding long-term friendship, which has been put under pressure by an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star.

Big Lang theory

The digital age has gripped the Hollywood studios for a while now. And it means the big names are all looking around to find execs and strategies alike that can help monetise their movies and offset the gamble that making movies represents. So now that Disney offloaded Miramax to Filmyard Holdings in a $600m plus deal, the first thing the new owners did is to name Mike Lang CEO of the label's new management.

Lang, a former Fox Entertainment player, is a man who knows all about getting the most out of libraries, and knows how to do deals to distribute movies on multiple digital and online platforms, as well as through traditional home video and international sales opportunities. He says he wants Miramax to be a different media company to those out there. Part of that means it won't be making movies, initially. Just trying to make money from a myriad pictures from its past, such as Shakespeare in Love, Chicago and the franchises Scary Movie and Scream.