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It won’t exactly be on a par with Oscars nominations morning, but Monday will be one of the biggest December days in the history of the Academy Awards.

That’s because for the first time, the Academy isn’t systematically doling out the short lists of films that remain in contention. Instead, they’re dropping all the lists at once in a single press release that will trim the fields in Best Documentary Feature, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Song and six other categories.

One drop, nine categories, a total of 101 films that’ll get good news and far more that’ll be disappointed.

The strategy of dumping all the Oscars short lists at once has not been greeted with universal approval. For one thing, contenders in the different categories were used to having their individual moments in the spotlight. Music Branch voters, who are facing a pair of short lists for the first time, now have far less time to listen and decide than they used to. And pundits will need to whip up instant analysis in nine categories simultaneously.

Also Read: Oscars' Best Picture Category Needs Fixing - Here's an Easy Way to Do It

But that’s the new rule, and all the lists will be out on the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 17.

(By the way, we hear that the news will come out in the afternoon because the procrastinators on the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee aren’t getting together until Monday morning to decide which three songs they’ll be adding to the six-film short list chosen by Oscars voters.)

Here’s the category-by-category breakdown of what will be coming on Monday.

Best Foreign Language Film
Number of films on the short list: 9

Three films seem guaranteed to land a spot: Mexico’s “Roma,” Poland’s “Cold War” and Lebanon’s “Capernaum.” Belgium’s “Girl” isn’t far behind, and voters reportedly adored Germany’s “Never Look Away.” Denmark’s “The Guilty” is a satisfying film that impressed voters, Sweden’s “Border” a twisted one that did the same.

The executive committee that adds three films to the shortlist may be hard-pressed not to take one or both of the two Asian standouts, South Korea’s “Burning” and Japan’s Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters.” And watch out for the Paraguayan film, “The Heiresses,” which has strong support in both the general and executive committees.

Other possibilities include Iceland’s “Woman at War,” Norway’s “What Will People Say,” Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” Hungary’s “Sunset” and Romania’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians.”

Also Read: Oscars Foreign Language Race 2018: Complete List of Submissions

Best Documentary Feature
Number of films on the short list: 15

The four box-office hits that made this one of the best years ever for nonfiction filmmaking should all land on the list: “Free Solo,” “RBG,” “Three Identical Strangers” and the de facto frontrunner, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (On the other hand, it’d be uncharacteristic of the Academy not to leave at least one of them off the final list of five nominees, and not entirely surprising if one of them doesn’t make the short list.)

Ever since the doc-branch rules were changed to do away with special screening committees in this category, voters have gravitated toward the films that have gotten the most buzz and received the most nominations for the IDA Awards, the Cinema Eye Honors and the like. That should mean that critical and awards favorites like “Minding the Gap,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” “Crime + Punishment,” “Bisbee ’17,” “Dark Money,” “Of Fathers and Sons” and “Shirkers” will all be in contention. And watch out for the Spanish film “The Silence of Others,” a potential sleeper.

We also shouldn’t rule out documentary legend Frederick Wiseman for “Monrovia, Indiana,” or other well-received docs like “On Her Shoulders,” “The Bleeding Edge” and “United Skates.” On the showbiz doc front, movies like “Hal,” “Filmworker” and “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache” have a shot, as does the released-at-last Aretha Franklin movie “Amazing Grace” and the Quincy Jones doc “Quincy,” whose subject has been highly visible on the campaign circuit lately. And I refuse to abandon hope that voters will recognize Eugene Jarecki’s sharp Elvis-and-America meditation “The King.”

Finally, Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” the followup to the top-grossing nonfiction film of all time, has been bypassed by nearly all the precursor awards and may well be left off of this one as well. But Moore could still find a way in — after all, he was the prime mover on the changes that led to the current method of picking the short list, and he’s still a strong voice in the doc world.

Also Read: 'Minding the Gap' Wins Top Honor at IDA Documentary Awards

Best Original Song
Number of songs on the short list: 15

The two music categories are introducing short lists for the first time ever, presumably in order to give all the members of the music branch to hear and consider the 15 semi-finalists before voting for nominations. But that means they have less time to consider all the contenders, which this year number more than 70 in the song category.

Yes, we know that “Shallow,” the one song entered from “A Star Is Born,” will make it. And probably at least one of the two songs entered from “Mary Poppins Returns.” The Music Branch’s taste for hip-hop might be tested by “All the Stars” from “Black Panther,” but why wouldn’t they want Kendrick Lamar at the Oscars?

They also have to consider songs from luminaries like Dolly Parton (“Girl in the Movies” from “Dumplin'”), Annie Lennox (“Requiem for a Private War” from “A Private War”), plus two competitive songs from movies about Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “I’ll Fight” from “RBG” (written by nine-time nominee Diane Warren) and “Here Comes the Change” from “On the Basis of Sex.” “Revelation” from “Boy Erased” has a real shot, as does “Gravity” from “Free Solo.” And if they want to get truly adventurous, how about the Coup’s “OYAHYTT” from “Sorry to Bother You,” or Thom Yorke’s “Suspirium” from “Suspiria”? (Would the Radiohead frontman show up at the Oscars?)

The branch is well known for taking care of its own, which can’t hurt past winner Carole Bayer Sager’s “Living in the Moment” from “Book Club.” They also tend to like songs that are performed onscreen — which, in addition to being one more reason “Shallow” will get in, could help the songs from “Hearts Beat Loud,” the quintessential but twisted Disney-princess anthem from “Ralph Breaks the Internet” or the fatalistic cowboy tune “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”

And then there are songs from Patti Smith and Robyn Hitchcock and Elton John and Arlissa and Quincy Jones and Post Malone and Kendra Smith and Aoife O’Donovan and Imagine Dragons and Sade and David Crosby … It’s a deep list, not a shallow one. (Sorry.)

Also Read: How Movie Songs By Kendrick Lamar, Kesha and Troye Sivan Hope to Last Beyond Their Films (Video)

Best Original Score
Number of films on the short list: 15

As usual, more than 100 scores are in contention, with early awards singling out a group that includes “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Quiet Place,” “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Green Book.” Most and perhaps all of those should make the list, with other contenders including “BlacKkKlansman,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” “On the Basis of Sex,” “The Hate U Give,” “Hereditary,” “Bad Times at the El Royale,” “Red Sparrow,” “The Predator” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Number of films on the short list: No more than 7

This is a category that’ll likely have three nominees, and one known for nominating films that won’t show up in any other category. This year, that could mean a “Suspiria” appearance on the short list. “Black Panther” and “The Avengers: Infinity War” will certainly be in play — and since makeup designed to make actors look like other people is usually a mainstay in the category, look for “Vice” and “Stan & Ollie” to show up as well. “Mary Queen of Scots” could make the cut too. And will Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury teeth from “Bohemian Rhapsody” be enough to land that film a spot?

If a foreign film gets in, as one sometimes does (“A Man Called Ove,” “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”), it could be “Border,” which turned a couple of actors into trolls.

Also Read: 'Border' Film Review: Are Moviegoers Ready for Hot, Hairy Troll Sex?

Best Visual Effects
Number of films on the short list: 10

A committee from the Visual Effects Branch has already narrowed the field to 20 films, so now it’s just a matter of cutting that number in half. The elaborate visions of “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Black Panther,” “Ready Player One” and perhaps “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” are clearly contenders, with the subtler effects of “First Man” and the more retro charms of “Mary Poppins Returns” definitely in the mix as well.

Dark horses could include “Christopher Robin” and “Paddington 2” for their blend of live action and CG figures, and the stop-motion “Isle of Dogs,” which would be following in the footsteps of recent nominee “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Several late-breaking films have a shot as well, including “Aquaman,” “Bumblebee” and “Welcome to Marwen.”

Best Documentary Short
Number of films on the short list: 10

The shorts categories are hard to predict because most of the films haven’t been widely seen. But Academy volunteers have been watching them to compile the three lists, and it’s possible to pick up some buzz from festival screenings and awards campaigns.

Netflix has been a major player in doc shorts recently (it won its first Oscar for “The White Helmets”), and this year it has “Zion,” “Out of Many, One,” “End Game” and “Lessons From a School Shooting: Notes From Dunblane,” at least two of which should end up on the list. The New York Times Op-Docs series has “Dulce,” “Earthrise,” “We Became Fragments” and the wry and well-liked “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes,” the only short nominated by both the IDA Awards and Cinema Eye Honors.

Other IDA and Cinema Eye nominees include “Black Sheep,” “Baby Brother,” “Concussion Protocol,” “Fear Us Women,” “Lifeboat,” “Los Comandos,” “Mosul,” “Sidelined,” “Skip Day,” “The Girl and the Picture,” “Volte” and “We Are Not Done Yet.” The DOC NYC short list also singled out “’63 Boycott,” “The Head & the Hand,” “RX Early Detection” and “Take Back the Harbor,” while “Lotte That Silhouette Girl” tells the story of a woman animation pioneer from the pre-Disney days and could be attractive to the Academy.

Also Read: ShortList 2018: How 'My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes' Explores Family Secrets (Video)

Best Animated Short
Number of films on the short list: 10

The Annie Awards, the top prize given to animated films, singled out “Grandpa Walrus,” “Lost & Found,” “Solar Walk,” “Untravel” and “Weekends.” Pixar’s big short this year is “Bao,” and Pixar’s big short usually gets nominated. DreamWorks Animation, which has less consistent success in the category, is represented by “Bilby” and “Bird Karma.”

Other possibilities include “La Noria,” “Animal Behavior,” “Crow: The Legend” and “Age of Sail,” a Google Spotlight VR short made by John Kahrs, who won an Oscar for “Paperman.” “Raccoon and the Light,” “Daisy,” “The Green Bird” and “Re-Gifted” qualified by winning Student Academy Awards, while “The Driver Is Red” won the industry prize at theWrap’s ShortList Film Festival.

Best Live-Action Short
Number of films on the short list: 10

In a category where it’s almost impossible to get an overview of the field unless you’re a festival shorts programmer, standouts include “Fauve,” “Wren Boys,” “Skin” and “Bonbone,” as well as “Souls of Totality,” featuring Tatiana Maslany, and “Dear Chickens,” with Philip Baker Hall.

Timely films about the refugee crisis in Europe include “Bismillah” and “Magic Alps,” and Student Academy Award qualifiers are “Spring Flower,” “Lalo’s House,” “This Is Your Cuba,” “Get Ready With Me,” “Almost Everything” and “A Siege”; if history is any guide, at least one of them will make the list.

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Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is an abrasive, unkempt boy of either 12 or 13 years old. Neither he nor his parents quite know his age for sure. His parents’ neglect is only part of the reason why Zain wants to sue them for bringing him into this world without a care. He hopes to stop them from having any more neglected children like himself or his beloved sister, Sahar (Cedra Izam), who they sold into an early marriage. Yet this is still only the beginning of Zain’s sad story.

Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” is a brutally honest — sometimes difficult to watch — drama about neglected children. Some, like Zain, are the innocent victims of a bad situation, joining a big family already burdened with an absurdly small income. Others are the victims of circumstance, like when a hardworking, caring Ethiopian migrant, Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), is arrested for her expired (and forged) paperwork. She can say nothing of her baby Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole) at home, or she risks losing custody of the infant.

Despite his parents’ mistreatments, Zain tries to do the right things for his siblings. He’s especially protective of Sahar and tries to save her from being sold into marriage. When that fails, he runs away from home. He stumbles onto a dusty fairground where one of the workers, Rahil, takes pity on the forlorn-looking boy asking everyone for work. She takes Zain in and asks the boy to look after Yonas while she works.

Also Read: 'Capernaum' Director Left Out 'Shocking' Details About Kids on the Streets That Audiences Couldn't Handle

Unfortunately, as an undocumented migrant vulnerable to extortion, she’s unable to pay the high price to forge her papers and is arrested, leaving the two boys to fend for themselves. So the resourceful Zain does what he’s always done: survive. He figures out how to feed the baby without its mother’s milk, where to find alternative places to shower when they run out of water, how to create a carriage out of a stolen skateboard and pots and how to use what he learned working for his parents’ drug business to earn money. But every step towards survival is met with complications, and Zain’s growing frustration with this unkind world drives him to want to leave the country — potentially without Yonas.

“Capernaum” has garnered much attention for shining a light on the exploitation of children, migrants and refugees. The movie earned a rapturous debut at Cannes, and Lebanon selected the film as its Oscar contender for the foreign language film category. Labaki, whose previous film “Where Do We Go Now?” was also chosen as Lebanon’s Oscar submission in 2012, collaborated with cinematographer Christopher Aoun to look for beauty in this tragedy. They hone in on details like the sunlight brightly streaming into Zain’s messy home or in touching close-ups of Zain playing with Yonas.

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Labaki’s film hinges on the heartfelt emotions of a little boy struggling to survive, and she cast Al Rafeea, then a 12-year-old illiterate Syrian refugee, to carry the film’s extraordinary emotional demands. At times, the beatings and arguments in “Capernaum” can look frightful; I worried for the children in the scenes. Recently, the director shared that the boy and his family have resettled in Norway, which was similar to his character’s escape plan to go to Europe.

In the movie, Zain can be defiant, ready to curse or to fight anyone who crosses him or anyone in his care. But he’s not always a raw nerve looking for a brawl. In scenes of quiet desperation, Labaki’s camera focuses on the actor’s eyes and his defeated body posture to get a sense of the internal fight going on in his head. There’s a melancholy tone throughout the film, even in its most innocent moments, like when Zain is playing with Yonas in his crib.

Watch Video: 'Capernaum' Director Nadine Labaki Says Refugee Child Star Is Safe and Resettled

There’s no reprieve from the extreme poverty that fuels Zain’s parents’ abuses or that drives Rahil to risk everything to care for her child. Sadness isn’t just around every corner of this film; it is in the viewer’s face throughout its runtime.

In a handful of drone shots in the movie, Labaki extends her lens beyond the suffering of her characters. As the camera flies up, it loses track of the kids. The shot is now focused on the seemingly endless blocks and rows of rundown homes and crumbling apartments. The children’s suffering is lost in a sea of inescapable hardship. Days after watching the movie, I still have some reservations about how abuse is shown in the film, but it’s hauntingly effective. I haven’t been able to shake those images since.

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www.thewrap.com | 12/13/18

Filed under: Weird Car News,Truck

The theft occurred late Monday on a main highway in eastern Romania

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The problem with “The Marriage,” a well-meaning but structurally lopsided first feature from Yugoslavian director Blerta Zeqiri, is that the marriage plot from the title is so much less interesting than the love plot at its core.

This is a film that takes place in a cold, snowy climate, and the main male character, Bekim (Alban Ukaj), and his fiancée, Anita (Adriana Matoshi), are bundled up in the first scene as they wait outside a center for missing persons. (Anita’s parents have been missing for over 15 years.) When Bekim and Anita enter the center, we see people placing long-stemmed flowers down on numbered segments that carry the found bones of their loved ones.

The Kosovo War of the late 1990s hangs over this narrative, because any story set in Yugoslavia has to deal with it in some way. But the character of Anita in “The Marriage” does not seem affected in any way by the trauma of that war or the loss of her parents. She is somewhat bland and superficial and an easy laugher, and we spend an inordinate amount of time with her as she picks out her wedding dress.

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We also spend a long time with Anita as she hangs out with Bekim and his old friend Nol (Genc Salihu) at the bar that Bekim runs. Nol went to live in Paris and he has become a musician of some renown. He keeps hinting that he is in love and that it is a “Romeo and Juliet” sort of situation. “Is Juliet a Serb?” Anita asks, in her slightly ditzy way. She tells a long joke about a copulating couple that either loses something in the subtitle translation or is supposed to be aimless and bad.

This scene in the bar is very flat, as is a flashback scene where we see Anita hanging out with her female friends and meeting Bekim for the first time. (Apparently all of her former boyfriends have been “jug-eared” and so her girlfriends think that Bekim is just right for her.) Bekim and Anita arm wrestle on this first meeting, which is not generally the sort of thing men do with women they are attracted to. But Anita remains eternally clueless here.

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Back in the present, Bekim turns down two guys who want to throw a party at his bar for “the LGBT community,” and Ukaj makes certain that we see how much of Bekim’s anger is based on repression and a feeling of helplessness.

Up until this point, Anita has been an innocuous character, but she edges her way into very unsympathetic territory when she sends Bekim a text message of a pregnancy test that she downloaded from the Internet just to scare him.

“The Marriage” suddenly comes to life in the present-day scene where Bekim makes love to Nol after Nol is gay-bashed. (The thugs who beat Nol up say they must “exterminate” him, and they talk about Hitler.) When Bekim takes Nol home from the police station after this assault, they immediately have to go to bed together. The beautiful thing here is that Nol has to be treated very gently at first because of the wounds on his back, but once they get going it seems as if the physical damage Nol has suffered disappears for him because he loves having sex with Bekim so much.

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There is a super-charged flashback to when Bekim and Nol first knew each other during the war, when Nol was a tenant in a house run by Bekim’s mother. We see them singing “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” together, and Bekim is like a totally different person here: wearing an ornate red shirt, happy and relaxed, and even doing a loving imitation of Louis Armstrong. Later that night, Bekim and Nol laugh about the fact that the war has given them a cover for their romance, and they would like the war to continue so that they can go on loving each other.

In these two scenes, where Ukaj and Salihu display a great deal of chemistry, it becomes clear that “The Marriage” should have been about the love between Bekim and Nol in wartime followed by a brief coda where Bekim forces himself to get married. Nothing having to do with either Anita or the marriage itself is as compelling as the love affair between these two men.

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There is something very fascinating about a movie that doesn’t try to appease its audience. It could go awry (like whatever is going on in “Vice”), or it could be writer-director Brady Corbet’s “Vox Lux” — a pretty, messy, unapologetic indictment on pop culture that is too on-the-nose to be taken seriously, but still manages to make some actually solid points about the commercialization of the tragic celebrity.

Still, it comes off as a very expensive, mildly interesting melodrama that doesn’t have nearly the impact it probably thinks it does.

The action, such as it is, kicks off in the year 1999, when 13-year-old Celeste (Raffey Cassidy, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”), a budding performer, sustains a life-threatening spinal injury in a school shooting. She’s left understandably traumatized by the event and has to undergo a substantial amount of physical therapy. Things turn around for Celeste when she stands up in front of her Staten Island church filled with family members of the deceased shooting victims, steadies herself with a walker while wearing a neck brace, and belts out the sorrowful yet sweet lyrics to an original tune that “would become an anthem for the nation,” as the narrator (Willem Dafoe) states.

Watch Video: Natalie Portman Puts on a Show in First Full 'Vox Lux' Trailer

The optics alone, that of a weakened young girl with an angelic voice, are what ultimately seduces the mourning crowd to the point where — wait for it — “the entire country fell in step with her sentiment. It was not her grief; it was theirs. No longer her experience, they reclaimed it as their own.”

It’s the contrivance of a star being born in this precise moment (propelled by an even more forced narration) that sets the tone for the whole movie and makes its most potent, albeit well-known, statement that tragedy in superstardom sells. It’s the very platform on which Celeste’s star idolatry will rely, catapulting her to become one of the most adored singers in the world.

But even more uncomfortable to reckon with is how self-aware and intentional she is about this. Throughout her life (the film follows her to age 31 when she’s played by Natalie Portman), Celeste never even removes her neck brace. Instead, she turns it into a bedazzled accessory she wears to remind audiences of who she is: the teenage shooting victim. She’s making sure money stays in the bank.

Watch Video: 'Vox Lux': Natalie Portman Sings Original Ballad by Sia in New Trailer

Highlighting the perversity of monetizing tragedy, and celebrities’ calculated participation in this ritual for their own gain, is something “Vox Lux” does well. It’s uncomfortable to even consider that one of your favorite pop stars has been doing the same act, and how you might have been enabling them to do so. But the movie confronts the very idea of why something like the “sob stories” segment on reality competition shows like “American Idol” have always clenched audiences: Because they build a fanbase that might not have ever happened otherwise in today’s oversaturated, dark climate in which everyone is looking for even a sliver of hope and humanity, even if it’s fake.

If this sounds cynical, that’s because it’s supposed to be. The movie isn’t trying to make you feel good or even to like Celeste. In fact, when it resets midway through with its tragic heroine as an adult, it turns into a full-blown (and unnecessary) melodrama, by which point she’s been ravaged by drugs, unchecked rage, and the pressure to constantly have to live her life within the parameters of her trauma.

But because there isn’t a gradual evolution of her character (more like a sharp jolt, when a leather-clad Portman shows up led only by yet another explanatory narration), it feels garish and unsupported. Then again, maybe that’s the point — a brash awakening to show her audience what a mess they made by their need to see her for what she represents rather than who she is.

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It’s all so clichéd, though. That’s where “Vox Lux” stumbles, even when it really is trying to tell us something we may need to hear through the gaze of an impenitent protagonist. It ultimately comes back to something we’ve seen before: a wilted pop star on the edge.

This more ostentatious second half of the film vacillates between Celeste’s outbursts and meltdowns as she attempts to bond with her estranged teenage daughter (also played by Cassidy) and to prepare for a concert, which conveniently occurs on the same day as another mass shooting. It’s a perverse one-day snapshot leading up to an extravagant performance in front of yet another anxious crowd eager to be allayed by the easy pop melodies of their all-American idol.

Though it relies far too heavily on the use of narration to advance holes in the dialogue, and at times treads too deeply into tired territory, “Vox Lux” does at least try to confront an undiscussed truth about today’s pop culture within a sociopolitical context. Plus, Portman and Raffidy (as well as Stacy Martin, who plays Portman’s unappreciated sister Eleanor) deliver solid performances in this relentlessly, effectively miserable narrative.

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Waiting for an object of desire can be a test of mental strength. But waiting for something that has no arrival date can be much more than that. It can be a roller coaster ride of intense emotions. For French director Emmanuel Finkiel, not only did he want to tell a story about waiting, but he wanted to do it in a way that took audiences on that roller coaster ride every inch of track along the way.

“It’s a certain kind of waiting, a madness,” Finkiel told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at a Q&A on Tuesday, following a screening of his film “Memoir of War,” France’s entry into the Oscar foreign film race, based on the semi-biographical novel by famed French novelist Marguerite Duras.

Set in 1944 Nazi-occupied France, “Memoir of War” takes the audience into the spiraling mind of Duras, played by actress Melanie Thierry. Duras and her husband Robert Antelme are a part of the Resistance against Germany. When Antelme is captured by Nazi troops, Duras must endure an excruciating battle of wit and patience for the chance to see her husband again.

Also Read: 30 Classic World War II Movies, From 'Battleground' to 'Dunkirk' (Photos)

Actor Benoît Magimel plays the role of the French Gestapo agent who helps Duras find Robert, Pierre Rabier.

Finkiel told the audience at Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles his personal connection to the film’s story attracted him to the project. Finkiel’s own father recounted a time when he waited for his parents to come home during the war, a story that included the kind of inner warfare that takes place while wondering whether they are alive or dead.

“Without the proof of a body, there are so many possibilities that all you can do is wait,” Finkiel said.

They would not return. But this stark reality during an uncertain time would later become the backdrop for “Memoir of War.”

Also Read: 'Resistance Banker' Director Depicts Secret Hero Behind 'Biggest Bank Robbery in Dutch History'

In order to capture that desperation, the “Memoir of War” cinematography focused on Duras and her facial expressions as much as possible, using close-ups and playing with the camera’s focus to illustrate Duras’ lack of clarity about the situation.

Duras’ monologues, through voiceover, also illustrate a level of instability with her state of mind as the movie progresses. During one sequence, she toys with the idea that Robert has already been shot or starved by the Nazis weeks prior. Her mind jumps to various conclusions, even accusing her friend Dionys (played by Benjamin Biolay) of hiding the truth from her. Duras even begins to experience physical withdrawal due to the lack of closure.

Also Read: 'Roma,' 'Cold War' Lead Academy's List of 87 Films in the Oscars Foreign Language Race

For the role of Duras, Finkiel had to find someone who could not just play the part, but exist in the role as if she was experiencing the trauma herself. Finkiel said he initially believed Thierry would not be a good fit to play Duras, but during an audition where she made Thierry sit and wait, Finkiel realized she could do so in a way that, simply put, wasn’t boring.

And despite the story being based on an author many in France know and love, “Memoir of War” is intended to to stand on its own if you know of her or not. Thierry attributes “finding [Marguerite’s] humanity” and not worrying about living up to her legacy as a reason why audiences can still connect to the lead character.

“I just wanted to pay tribute to the music that is her writing,” Thierry told the audience.

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A version of this story about “Village Rockstars” first appeared in the Foreign Language Issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

“Village Rockstars,” a lyrical film by Rima Das, plays out like a less raucous version of “The Florida Project” transplanted to the small Indian village of Chhaygaon, where kids carve musical instruments out of Styrofoam and dream of stardom.

The film is India’s entry in this year’s Oscar foreign-language race, and this interview is one in a series of conversations TheWrap is having with the foreign directors in contention.

Also Read: Oscars Foreign Language Race 2018: Complete List of Submissions

How did you come of this story?
RIMA DAS
I grew up in that village. For a couple of years, I was living in Mumbai, and when I was back in my village shooting my first film I met these children in the village. And they taught me how to unlearn. They helped me discover the beauty in ordinary things. They have nothing, but they are celebrating life, performing like a rock band with these fake instruments.

And that inspired me. I was wondering, “How did they have so much joy?” I started spending more and more time with them and thought I should tell their story, because they showed me true happiness. I gave them little notebooks to write in, asked them about their hobbies. They want to do so many things. They want to be singers. I was inspired by how they just dream. They are in a little remote village, but that doesn’t matter — they can dream.

And that’s the reason I wanted to tell a story about children who can dream no matter where they’re from.

The movie plays out very casually — we’re just following these kids, without a big plot line driving the story.
When I started watching movies, I liked that realistic approach. The story in this movie is fictional but I didn’t want to compromise in the way I presented the way they are living their lives. I didn’t have any storyboards — I mostly followed them for four years. I became one of them. I wanted the audience to feel the beauty and the freshness that I felt in that village.

Four years? Isn’t that tricky when you’re dealing with kids who are growing up?
Yes, it was tricky. Two years was fine, but later on it became difficult. The main girl’s face didn’t change, fortunately, but she became very tall. So then I shot more closeups, and I managed. Since I was editing also, I shot almost everything from the editing point of view. But it’s not advisable to work with children for four years. [Laughs]

Also Read: Oscars Give More Power in Foreign Language Voting to LA Members (Exclusive)

How did you work with them to get those performances?
I went to Mumbai to become an actor — from my childhood, I always had a dream to become an actor. So the actor in me helped a lot to train them in a casual and organic way. When I was in Mumbai, I felt that there is too much pressure on you. I didn’t want them to feel what I was feeling when I was looking for jobs in Bollywood.

So I did it all myself, with only my cousin helping me out. I would sometimes shoot one scene for a week, to give them the freedom and the fun and not make them self-conscious. It it wasn’t happening, we turned it into a picnic.

You directed the film, but you also produced it, wrote it, shot it, edited it, did the production design… Why do so much?
I made my first feature film with a small crew, and I was not happy with that experience. I thought I needed more time, more freedom. So on this film, I made a conscious decision to do it the way I wanted to do it with no outside pressure. And I think that helped me a lot.

To read more of TheWrap’s Foreign Language Issue, click here.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/18/18

A version of this story about “Cold War” first appeared in the Foreign Language Issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

Pawel Pawlikowski’s first film since his Oscar-winning “Ida” spans a decade and a half of post-World War II Europe to tell the story of a pair of musicians drawn together and torn apart by a tempestuous love.

The film, one of the most acclaimed in the Oscar foreign-language category, is Poland’s entry in this year’s race. This interview is one of a series of conversations TheWrap had with directors of the 2018 foreign directors.

Also Read: 'Cold War' Film Review: Romance in Postwar Europe Is Ravishing and Haunted

The story is loosely based on or at least inspired by your parents, isn’t it?
PAWEL PAWLIKOWSKI: The main couple, their relationship is kind of inspired by my parents and their rather volatile relationship. Coming together and separating, coming together again, leaving each other to go to other countries and marrying other people, getting together again, quarreling again… The kind of couple that can’t stay together, but who realize in the end that they have no one but each other.

But my parents’ lives were more messy and chaotic than we see in the film. I reduced the timeline to 15 years instead of 40 years so that I could have two actors play it. And once I introduced the element of music, which brings them together and reflects all the changes in their relationship and in time and place as well, I could remove them from any resemblance to my parents, who were not musicians.

Why tell the story in black and white, the way you did with “Ida?”
The story had been with me for ages, and I didn’t even think of how to shoot it. It was only after I finished “Ida” that I started thinking, “How do I turn this into a film?” Then questions started to emerge. How do I tell it without being literal and boring and have a cause-and-effect plot? How do I make it imagistic? What sort of images and colors do I use for Poland of the ’50s, which was gray above all?

I wanted the film to have a bite, to be visually dramatic and expressive. And the most obvious way to do it was again black and white, but a different kind of black and white from “Ida.” This is much more contrasty and dynamic. And also, I added more elements like camera moves and a different sort of framing — the camera was placed a bit higher so there was much more happening in the background. I wanted to relate their story to the epic backgrounds of Berlin, Paris, Poland.

Also Read: 'Roma,' 'Cold War' Lead Academy's List of 87 Films in the Oscars Foreign Language Race

You also take jumps in time that rely on the audience to fill in the blanks.
The more I wrote and rewrote, the clearer it became what bits were too boring and literal. I always wanted to tell it elliptically — I didn’t want to make something that resembles a biopic with all these scenes that are there to get you from A to B. I wanted to have a film made up of strong scenes which are visual and suggestive, where the image and the body language tells the story, in which you can condense a lot of things. I’ve been heading in that direction for a while — “Ida” was pretty elliptical. I did that at the risk of losing some audience, but surprisingly people seem to go with it.

How difficult was it to recreate post-war Europe in so many different cities?
We scoured the country for locations for months and months. It was very difficult, because that world doesn’t exist anymore. We found some elements, some derelict things that we then repaired. Basically, it involved a lot of traveling to get to the right places, landscapes and buildings. And in addition, we used quite a lot of green screen to add to what we found.

Overall, what were the biggest challenges in making the film?
Everything was a challenge. This kind of sculpting of scenes, where the actors have to perform believably, with the right rhythm and without cuts, in the same space with the other actors, with the camera doing something interesting at the same time, and where the background action also has to work well.

I became kind of legendary for many takes. I tried to make everything work ideally within one shot, and that takes a lot of time and patience. Thank God the producers were used to me.

To read more of TheWrap’s Foreign Language Issue, click here.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/17/18

A version of this story on “Dogman” first appeared in the Foreign Language Issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

Marcello Fonte won the best-actor award in Cannes for his performance in “Dogman,” Matteo Garrone’s film about a mild-mannered dog groomer (and part-time drug dealer) who finally gets tired of being bullied by a local gangster.

The film is Italy’s entry in this year’s Oscar foreign-language race, and this is one in a series of interviews TheWrap conducted with directors of the foreign contenders.

Also Read: 'Dogman' Film Review: Good Man Goes Bad in Muscular Italian Drama

You shot the film in the same town where you shot some of “Gomorrah” 10 years ago. Why do you keep going back?
MATTEO GARRONE: I also shot a movie called “The Embalmer” there in 2002. It’s a place that I love. For this movie, I was looking for a place for a sort of modern Western — a village on a kind of frontier, where the community can be very important in the life of the main character. So we used Western references — the place where there are the prostitutes, the place with gambling, the square where they have the final duel.

But at the same time, it’s a place that is metaphorically abstract.

This was inspired by a true story. What appealed to you about the story, and how much did you change it?
The original story was a starting point, but then we developed the character. We liked his sensitivity, his simplicity. He’s very pure, naive — we used Chaplin or Buster Keaton as a reference.

And the main difference was that the story we took inspiration from was more focused on violence and revenge. Our movie is a revenge story, but it’s more than that. So we talked about love, fear, friendship. It was a story that could talk to everybody.

Also Read: Oscars Foreign Language Race 2018: Complete List of Submissions

“Dogman” starts out fairly light and even comic. Was it tricky to calibrate the move to a darker and more violent mood?
For me, that’s the most difficult part. I like that I can laugh in a movie, and at the same time I like that I can cry in a movie. And it’s difficult to control the tone. If there is too much of the comic aspect, then the drama can be less strong.

We knew that the first part could be more light and comic, and the second part, where he falls in a sort of hole of his mind, can be darker. And we were lucky, because the weather helped us in this direction. When we were shooting the first part, there was a lot of sun–and when we were shooting the second part, it started to rain and to be cloudy. [Laughs] The place loves me.

By the end of the film, Marcello, your main character, has done what we’ve been wanting him to do all along: He stands up to the bully and makes sure that he won’t be mistreated again. And yet the town doesn’t embrace him for that, and as an audience we feel ambivalent too.
Exactly. At the end, we are talking about two victims. It’s the story of a man who is losing his innocence. He remains trapped in a mechanism of violence, but he’s not violent. It’s about a human being and how he fights in this society to remain himself and to be loved by the people.

To read more of TheWrap’s Foreign Language Issue, click here.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/17/18

At just around midnight in the capital of Romania, film producer Ada Solomon got a call that threatened the life of her entire movie. Her docu-drama depicting a reenactment of one of the worst atrocities in Romania’s history was going to be shut down by the town’s vice mayor. And there was nothing she could do to stop it.

“I had, for one hour and a half, in the middle of [Revolution Square], the most horrible discussion I ever had in my life,” Solomon told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at a Q&A on Thursday following a screening of “I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History as Barbarians,” a film about the 1941 mass murder of tens of thousands of Jews on the Eastern Front by Romanian forces.

“Barbarians,” Romania’s entry into the Oscar foreign film race, follows theater director Mariana (Ioana Iacob) as she prepares a reenactment that will hopefully bring awareness to a truth not many Romanians have come to terms with, according to Solomon. Before Romania fought against Germany in World War II, the country worked alongside Germany to advance their ethnic cleansing agenda. Romanians who acknowledge that fact are chastised for being unpatriotic.

Also Read: 'I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians' Takes Top Honor at Karlovy Vary

During that fateful night of shooting, Solomon and director Radu Jude immediately presented all their papers and permits stating they were allowed to film in the heart of Bucharest. But it wasn’t the proof that got the vice mayor to bite. In fact, it was a misunderstanding that saved the movie.

“You don’t have to thank me,” the vice mayor told her after letting them resume filming. “If this wasn’t a film about [former Romanian Prime Minister Ion Antonescu], you wouldn’t have the permit”

Except it wasn’t about Antonescu at all. At least not in a good way. In 1946, Antonescu would go on to be charged for war crimes due to his involvement with Nazi Germany and the mass murder of Jews.

“It’s a kind of injustice with the lack of education about this,” Solomon told the audience at the Landmark Theatre. “This is a white page in the history book. The debate has to be there.”

The dissonance between what happened and what Romanians are led to believe has resulted in people in the other countries that have screened the film (“Barbarians” has premiered in France, Belgium and Canada, among others) to relate with the corrective history going on.

“I don’t remember what I’ve learned,” Romanian-born actress Iacob told the audience about learning of the massacre in high school. “Maybe it was one page in the history book. If you weren’t there for the lesson, you wouldn’t have known it.”

Also Read: 'Family First' Director Details Making of Crime Drama Where 'Love Is the Winner'

Aside from directing, Jude also penned the script. Solomon said Jude always had someone like Iacob in mind to play the lead role, wanting “a feminine figure to oppose the world of men.”

Mariana is depicted in the film as someone constantly negotiating with men trying to flirt their way into getting what they want. But Mariana always pushes back.

During a lengthy scene between Mariana and a city official, played by actor Alexandru Dabija, for example, Mariana has to fight to keep her theatrical production uncensored while also dodging the official’s attempts to compliment her into submission. The same can be seen with Mariana’s intimate relationship with an older pilot, a married man with whom she’s having an affair. Mariana informs him at one point that she is pregnant with his baby. During one spat, the pilot implores her that it is her duty to abort the baby so he doesn’t get in trouble.

She doesn’t budge.

Also Read: 'Roma,' 'Cold War' Lead Academy's List of 87 Films in the Oscars Foreign Language Race

Iacob came in for a one-on-one audition with Jude for the role of Mariana. From that moment, Iacob fell in love with the character and the story Jude was trying to tell.

“I read the pages for the casting sessions, and I couldn’t stop,” Iacob said.

After getting everyone on board, the production took 22 days. It was a quick shoot, sure, but not one without its dissenters. Solomon described getting scathing messages from Romanians asking “How dare they” and that they were “bad Romanians.”

But Jude and Solomon always kept going, believing the film would become “a cultural product” that could help people understand why it’s important to acknowledge the event happened.

“We are not politicians. But we are using our tools — the art — to express how we feel about the world around us,” Solomon said.

So does Solomon think the Bucharest vice mayor has seen the film he so abruptly detested on that late night?

“I doubt it,” she joked.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/16/18
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British singer Jessie J has captured the heart of one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors.

The singer, 30, is dating Channing Tatum, a source told PEOPLE.

“It’s very new,” the insider said.

Jessie J is well-known for her pop lyrics and vocals and has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry.

Here are six things to know about the “Domino” singer.

She’s Made Hit Songs for Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown

Before making it big with her own hits like “Domino” and “Price Tag,” Jessie J (born Jessica Ellen Cornish) wrote “Party in the U.S.A.” for Miley Cyrus in 2009. The song became a hit and made a lasting impact on the singer.

“Party in the U.S.A. paid my rent for, like, three years,” she told Glamour UK in 2014. “Actually it was longer than that. That’s where I get most of my money. I write songs. I’m a singer. I love doing endorsements and stuff, but that’s all added on.”

She’s also written Chris Brown’s “I Need This.”

She Got Heat for Saying Her Bisexuality ‘Was a Phase’

In 2011, Jessie J told The Telegraph she was bisexual but backtracked on her comments in an interview with The Mirror in April 2014.

“For me, it was a phase,” she said. “But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody.”

“I feel that if I continue my career not speaking on it, I almost feel more of a liar than if I didn’t,” she added. “I just want to be honest, and it’s really not a big deal. Who cares?”

RELATED: Channing Tatum Is Dating Singer Jessie J: ‘It’s Very New,’ Source Says

She continued, “I want to stop talking about it completely now and find myself a husband. I did talk about it, and I was open about it, and I do support being lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender — who you want. That’s what I’m doing.”

She Sang ‘Bang Bang’ with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj

Jessie J recorded the 2014 hit with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj and became the lead single for her third studio album Sweet Talker.

The song reached No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was later certified six times platinum in November 2017.

View this post on Instagram

Electric Castle Festival Held in the Transylvanian domain of the Bánffy Castle, near Cluj-Napoca in Romania 22nd July 2018 I had seen the security were keeping some fans behind a screen so I asked them to come forward to the front. About 200+ heartbeats tan and watched at the front of the barriers. The love and passion in their eyes was UNREAL. I noticed this little girl. I said “Can you sing, I feel like you can” she said “Yes” I said “I have 20 mins left in my set and 15 mins of music, that means I have 5 minutes of time. I want to give those 5 minutes to you” Her face lit up she ran up on stage… I asked her name “Adalia and I am 10 years old” I whispered in her ear “do you want to sing Price tag” she said “No Jessie J I want to sing masterpiece” that was the next song on the setlist. I was like “Okaaaaay girl let’s go – track or acoustic” Adalia said “track” I said “first or second verse” she said “first please” WHEN Atalia opened her mouth to sing. EVERY person in the audience / my band / my crew and I were blown away!!!! MAGIC!!! WOW!!! Those moments you can’t stage. Light, energy, love gave us all that moment. Atalia you gave me one of my favourite moments of my whole career. You blessed our ears and our hearts. THANK you for showing me how brave, fearless, professional and bright you are. When we finished i said “anything you would like to say to the audience” she said “I love them” It was one of the most inspiring things that has happened on stage for me in a long time. I feel lucky I got to sing with you.

A post shared by J E S S I E . J (@jessiej) on Jul 24, 2018 at 2:40am PDT

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“It was like a real female , together, empowering, supportive , and then Nicki jumping on it was like the icing on the cake,” the singer told Capital FM radio at the time.

Of the song, she told Glamour UK, “One of the biggest things that I’ve wanted to achieve in my life is standing the test of time, and I feel like “Bang Bang” do that.”

She Studied Alongside Well-Known Artists Like Adele

Jessie J attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology where other notable classmates included Adele, Leona Lewis, Amy Winehouse and Tom Holland.

The singer graduated alongside Adele in 2006.

She Has a Heart Condition

The singer inherited Wolff-Parkinson-White disease — a condition that means she has an extra electrical pathway in her heart that causes shortness of breath and dizziness — from her father, and his father before him.

The disease led to her having surgeries as a child. In April 2017, she told PEOPLE the disease “doesn’t go away, sadly.”

“It’s just something that I’ve had to deal with since I was a child, and it pushed me to get stronger. It’s just part of who I am,” Jessie J told PEOPLE.

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Glam in BARCELONA last night looking like the “OLLLLEEEEEE”

A post shared by J E S S I E . J (@jessiej) on Jun 20, 2018 at 3:57am PDT

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“I do have to make sure I stay healthy and look after myself,” she said. “I kind of love that I have something that pushes me to be healthier.”

She Competed on a Chinese Reality Singing Competition — and Won

While the singer-songwriter might be used to judging people’s singing as a judge on The Voice UK, she took a step into the competition by traveling to China and competing on their version — China’s Singer.

After being one of the first international performers to appear on the show, Jessie J won the competition against the other Chinese contestants.

The singer shared the moment on Instagram in April, writing, “Last year I was asked to compete in a singing competition in China. Performing alongside the biggest established singers / artists across Asia. I was the first international artist to ever be asked / compete. An honour alone. I know a lot of people were shocked when they found out.”

“ Like why would I compete in a singing competition… I’m probably the least competitive person I know,” she wrote. “I said yes because I LOVE to do the unexpected and I LOVE to represent the UK and singing everywhere I go. I LOVE to sing.”

View this post on Instagram

Last year I was asked to compete in a singing competition in China. Performing alongside the biggest established singers / artists across Asia. I was the first international artist to ever be asked / compete. An honour alone. I know a lot of people were shocked when they found out. Like why would I compete in a singing competition… I’m probably the least competitive person I know. I said yes because I LOVE to do the unexpected and I LOVE to represent the UK and singing everywhere I go. I LOVE to sing. But also it was an opportunity to bridge a gap between two cultures. For them to see a western performer and hear music some had never heard before and visa versa. For the performances to be seen by millions outside of China and visa versa. And those people to discover the show was the best part. The respect being shown for both cultures and the love was Seeing the boundaries break down and the rules be shifted made this whole experience incredible. China is an amazing place and so different to anywhere I have ever been. I have never been made to feel more welcomed and loved as I have done here. My team and I have been in China for 3.5 months. It’s been an amazing learning experience for all of us! We worked hard! THANK YOU! I love you all! I won the show last night. But what we all won was the beginning of something really magical. I am so happy I got to play a part. Here is to me being the first but not the last international artist to be on SINGER. And for the boundaries to continue to be broken. I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! I still cant believe I came 1st! Last night a billion people watched the show | MAD

A post shared by J E S S I E . J (@jessiej) on Apr 13, 2018 at 7:45pm PDT

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“But also it was an opportunity to bridge a gap between two cultures. For them to see a western performer and hear music some had never heard before and visa versa,” Jessie J continued. “For the performances to be seen by millions outside of China and visa versa. And those people to discover the show was the best part. The respect being shown for both cultures and the love was .”

“My team and I have been in China for 3.5 months. It’s been an amazing learning experience for all of us! We worked hard! THANK YOU! I love you all!

RELATED: Jessie J on How Exercise Helps to Manage Her Heart Condition: ‘It Pushed Me to Get Stronger’

I won the show last night,” she continued. “But what we all won was the beginning of something really magical. I am so happy I got to play a part.”

“Here is to me being the first but not the last international artist to be on SINGER. And for the boundaries to continue to be broken,” she added. “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! I still cant believe I came 1st!  Last night a billion people watched the show | MAD .”

people.com | 10/11/18
Romania's Adrian Sulca takes just 15 seconds to win the gold medal bout in the men's -81kg judo at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
www.bbc.co.uk | 10/9/18

Eighty-seven films have qualified in the 2018 Oscars race for Best Foreign Language Film, the Academy announced on Monday.

The number is five less than last year’s record of 92 entries, but significantly larger than the 60-odd qualifying films that were the norm only a few years ago. The 2018 race is also expected to be one of the most competitive in years, with a number of esteemed international directors and award-winning films competing for only nine spots on the shortlist and five nominations.

Los Angeles-based volunteers from all branches of the Academy will now watch all the eligible films at AMPAS screenings at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills and the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. This year, the Academy has made it easier to qualify to vote, dropping the number of films each voter must see from 17 or 18 down to 12 and eliminating the color-coded groups that made each voter choose from a specific group of films to which he or she had been assigned.

Also Read: Academy Makes More Changes to Open Up Oscars Foreign Language Voting (Exclusive)

The Mexican entry, Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” is the clear frontrunner, since it is also considered a strong contender for a Best Picture nomination. (In Oscars history, six films have been nominated in both categories, the last one being “Amour” in 2011.)

But the Polish entry, “Cold War,” is the new film from Pawel Pawlikowski, whose last film, “Ida,” won the foreign-language Oscar; it too is considered a likely nominee. So is the Lebanese entry, Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” a powerful drama about a young boy in the slums of Beirut who sues his parents for bringing him into the world.

Two other directors are recent winners in the category, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck with the German entry “Never Look Away” (his “The Lives of Others” won in 2007) and Laszlo Nemes for Hungary’s entry, “Sunset” (his last film, “Son of Saul,” won in 2016).

Also in the race: recent nominees Rithy Panh (“Graves Without a Name,” Cambodia) and Ciro Guerra (“Birds of Passage,” a Colombian film co-directed with his ex-wife, Cristina Gallego).

Also Read: Oscars Foreign Language Race 2018: Complete List of Submissions (So Far)

Other strong Oscars contenders include Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning, which is vying to become the first South Korean film ever to be nominated; Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “The Wild Pear Tree,” the Turkish entry; Lukas Dhont’s “Girl,” which won the acting award in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes; and Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” which took the best-actor award in Cannes’ main competition.

Entries from Ukraine, Egypt, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, the U.K., Spain, Paraguay and several other countries are also contending for the prize.

Malawi and Niger have submitted films for the first time.

Official Academy screenings will begin on Oct. 15 and run through Dec. 10. At that point, the six films that have received the highest average scores from the voters will advance to a nine-film shortlist, along with three additional films chosen by an executive committee.

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TheWrap has compiled a complete list of the qualifying films, with descriptions and links to trailers when available.

The list of qualifying films:

Afghanistan, “Rona Azim’s Mother,” Jamshid Mahmoudi, director;

Algeria, “Until the End of Time,” Yasmine Chouikh, director;

Argentina, “El Ángel,” Luis Ortega, director;

Armenia, “Spitak,” Alexander Kott, director;

Australia, “Jirga,” Benjamin Gilmour, director;

Austria, “The Waldheim Waltz,” Ruth Beckermann, director;

Bangladesh, “No Bed of Roses,” Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director;

Belarus, “Crystal Swan,” Darya Zhuk, director;

Belgium, “Girl,” Lukas Dhont, director;

Bolivia, “The Goalkeeper,” Rodrigo “Gory” Patiño, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Never Leave Me,” Aida Begi?, director;

Brazil, “The Great Mystical Circus,” Carlos Diegues, director;

Bulgaria, “Omnipresent,” Ilian Djevelekov, director;

Cambodia, “Graves without a Name,” Rithy Panh, director;

Canada, “Family Ties,” Sophie Dupuis, director;

Chile, “…And Suddenly the Dawn,” Silvio Caiozzi, director;

China, “Hidden Man,” Jiang Wen, director;

Colombia, “Birds of Passage,” Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, directors;

Costa Rica, “Medea,” Alexandra Latishev, director;

Croatia, “The Eighth Commissioner,” Ivan Salaj, director;

Czech Republic, “Winter Flies,” Olmo Omerzu, director;

Denmark, “The Guilty,” Gustav Möller, director;

Dominican Republic, “Cocote,” Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias, director;

Ecuador, “A Son of Man,” Jamaicanoproblem, director;

Egypt, “Yomeddine,” A.B. Shawky, director;

Estonia, “Take It or Leave It,” Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo, director;

Finland, “Euthanizer,” Teemu Nikki, director;

France, “Memoir of War,” Emmanuel Finkiel, director;

Georgia, “Namme,” Zaza Khalvashi, director;

Germany, “Never Look Away,” Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director;

Greece, “Polyxeni,” Dora Masklavanou, director;

Hong Kong, “Operation Red Sea,” Dante Lam, director;

Hungary, “Sunset,” László Nemes, director;

Iceland, “Woman at War,” Benedikt Erlingsson, director;

India, “Village Rockstars,” Rima Das, director;

Indonesia, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts,” Mouly Surya, director;

Iran, “No Date, No Signature,” Vahid Jalilvand, director;

Iraq, “The Journey,” Mohamed Jabarah Al-Daradji, director;

Israel, “The Cakemaker,” Ofir Raul Graizer, director;

Italy, “Dogman,” Matteo Garrone, director;

Japan, “Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda, director;

Kazakhstan, “Ayka,” Sergey Dvortsevoy, director;

Kenya, “Supa Modo,” Likarion Wainaina, director;

Kosovo, “The Marriage,” Blerta Zeqiri, director;

Latvia, “To Be Continued,” Ivars Seleckis, director;

Lebanon, “Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki, director;

Lithuania, “Wonderful Losers: A Different World,” Arunas Matelis, director;

Luxembourg, “Gutland,” Govinda Van Maele, director;

Macedonia, “Secret Ingredient,” Gjorce Stavreski, director;

Malawi, “The Road to Sunrise,” Shemu Joyah, director;

Mexico, “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón, director;

Montenegro, “Iskra,” Gojko Berkuljan, director;

Morocco, “Burnout,” Nour-Eddine Lakhmari, director;

Nepal, “Panchayat,” Shivam Adhikari, director;

Netherlands, “The Resistance Banker,” Joram Lürsen, director;

New Zealand, “Yellow Is Forbidden,” Pietra Brettkelly, director;

Niger, “The Wedding Ring,” Rahmatou Keïta, director;

Norway, “What Will People Say,” Iram Haq, director;

Pakistan, “Cake,” Asim Abbasi, director;

Palestine, “Ghost Hunting,” Raed Andoni, director;

Panama, “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” Abner Benaim, director;

Paraguay, “The Heiresses,” Marcelo Martinessi, director;

Peru, “Eternity,” Oscar Catacora, director;

Philippines, “Signal Rock,” Chito S. Roño, director;

Poland, “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski, director;

Portugal, “Pilgrimage,” João Botelho, director;

Romania, “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” Radu Jude, director;

Russia, “Sobibor,” Konstantin Khabensky, director;

Serbia, “Offenders,” Dejan Zecevic, director;

Singapore, “Buffalo Boys,” Mike Wiluan, director;

Slovakia, “The Interpreter,” Martin Šulík, director;

Slovenia, “Ivan,” Janez Burger, director;

South Africa, “Sew the Winter to My Skin,” Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, director;

South Korea, “Burning,” Lee Chang-dong, director;

Spain, “Champions,” Javier Fesser, director;

Sweden, “Border,” Ali Abbasi, director;

Switzerland, “Eldorado,” Markus Imhoof, director;

Taiwan, “The Great Buddha+,” Hsin-Yao Huang, director;

Thailand, “Malila The Farewell Flower,” Anucha Boonyawatana, director;

Tunisia, “Beauty and the Dogs,” Kaouther Ben Hania, director;

Turkey, “The Wild Pear Tree,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director;

Ukraine, “Donbass,” Sergei Loznitsa, director;

United Kingdom, “I Am Not a Witch,” Rungano Nyoni, director;

Uruguay, “Twelve-Year Night,” Álvaro Brechner, director;

Venezuela, “The Family,” Gustavo Rondón Córdova, director;

Vietnam, “The Tailor,” Buu Loc Tran, Kay Nguyen, directors;

Yemen, “10 Days before the Wedding,” Amr Gamal, director.

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(Note: This post contains spoilers for “The Nun,” specifically its ending. Read on at your own risk!)

“The Nun” is technically a prequel in the ever-expanding “Conjuring” film universe, telling something of an origin story for Valak, the super-scary demon nun of “The Conjuring 2.” But thanks to various teases, we know Valak is tied a little more deeply into all the movies surrounding “The Conjuring” than it might have seemed before.

The events of “The Nun” take place in 1952 in a Romanian convent that sees some spooky things happen. A miracle-hunting priest, Father Burke (Demián Bichir), and a young nun, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) are sent to investigate the place. Spoiler alert: Valak’s there, and things get pretty scary.

Also Read: 13 Horror Movies to Stream on Netflix for Friday the 13th (Photos)

We know Valak shows up again in “The Conjuring 2,” and spends quite a while haunting paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) and her husband, Ed (Patrick Wilson). “The Nun” reveals how Valak made her way from Romania all the way to the U.S. to infect Lorraine’s life, and how she came to be embroiled in the haunting in Enfield, England in that movie.

Warning: spoilers beyond!

The end of “The Nun” features a direct tie to the first movie in the “Conjuring”-verse, “The Conjuring.” In that movie, the Warrens give a lecture at Massachusetts Western University, in which they show a video of an exorcism they participated in, and some of the strange effects they witnessed while it was happening. That lecture is attended by Carolyn Perron (Lili Taylor), whose family is being haunted, and it convinces her to ask the Warrens for help.

The victim of the demonic possession in the video is a French-Canadian man named Maurice. As “The Nun” makes clear, that Maurice is Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), the young man who helped Father Burke and Sister Irene at the Romanian monastery. The end of “The Nun” reveals that Valak managed to possess Frenchie just before Sister Irene sealed the gateway to Hell in the catacombs beneath the monastery — and that allowed the demon to escape its confines out into the world. As the three leave the monastery once and for all, Frenchie reveals his real name.

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“The Nun” features a retcon of the scene from “The Conjuring,” with Bloquet replacing the original actor who played Maurice in the film the Warrens show during the lecture. On the video, Marcel can be seen whispering something to Lorraine, who reacts violently and in fear. That’s the moment, it seems, when Valak infests the Warrens’ lives.

In “The Conjuring 2,” we learn that Lorraine had been feeling the presence of Valak sort of vaguely for a while, but she encountered the demon in a major way during the Amityville case (which really happened, and has been adapted into a bunch of movies, beginning with “The Amityville Horror”) that’s shown at the beginning of the movie. It’s implied that Valak might have been responsible for Ronnie DeFeo Jr. murdering his family in Amityville, and the further hauntings of the Lutz family that the Warrens investigated. When Lorraine encounters Valak, she sees a vision of Ed being impaled.

The Warrens later head to Enfield, England, to investigate another haunting, which Lorraine realizes is also the work of Valak. She manages to save Ed from Valak, who means to kill him (impaling him as in the vision Lorraine saw), and banish the demon back to hell.

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Valak also has a link to the “Annabelle” story, which is a spin-off of the first “Conjuring” movie. In “Annabelle: Creation,” which takes place in 1955, we learn how the doll came to be haunted when a group of orphans and the nun who looks after them move into the home of a dollmaker and his wife. The nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), apparently spent some time at the monastery in Romania where Valak was imprisoned. She has a photo of herself with some of the nuns there — and in the background, steeped in shadow, Valak appears as well.

Though the Annabelle doll is also infested by a demon, which possesses a young girl named Janice (Talitha Bateman) and later murders her adopted parents (which happens at the beginning of “Annabelle”), that demon isn’t Valak. It’s probably a coincidence that Sister Charlotte came into close proximity of two murderous demons who would also be linked to the Warrens. Or, since the “Conjuring” movies often suggest as much, it could be divine intervention, since Charlotte manages to save several of the girls from the creature.

As of “The Conjuring 2,” it seems that Valak is gone, banished back to Hell. But the demon found its way out once before, and since it has so many links to portions of the “Conjuring” film universe, it seems possible that we haven’t seen the last of the demon nun.

“The Nun” is in theaters now.

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www.thewrap.com | 9/8/18

“The Nun,” a prequel to “The Conjuring” series of horror films, finds a young nun traveling to Romania to investigate a demon that has potentially latched itself onto a nun. With that premise, things are bound to get a little crazy. Of course, there’s a long history in film of taking chaste, pious women who have become nuns on film and testing their resolve, of taken their faith to wild extremes, or playing on that goodness for comedy. Say a few rosaries and check out these nun movies.

“Sister Act” (1992)

Whoopi Goldberg goes into the witness protection program and winds up a jump-roping, gospel singing, foul-mouthed nun with Maggie Smith looking down her nose at her in “Sister Act.” The film made an ungodly sum as the sixth highest grossing movie of the year and spawned a sequel.

“Black Narcissus” (1947)

Powell & Pressburger’s 1947 drama is about as lush and gorgeous of an early color film as you’re likely to see. And those eye-popping colors help to underscore the insanity of the story of a nun (Deborah Kerr) tasked with opening a convent in the Himalayas, all while battling the impulses and panics of the other nuns in the convent. The true crazy one is Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron), who goes jealous with rage over her attraction to a man helping the convent, leading to her spectacularly wild-eyed demise.

“Viridiana” (1961)

The story of “Viridiana” is simply about a young nun about to take her final vows who visits her widowed uncle, but Luis Bunuel turns this innocent act and character into the blackest and surrealist of comedies, including staging a scandalous re-enactment of The Last Supper.

“Doubt” (2008)

Meryl Streep gives one of her fiercest performances as Sister Aloysis Beauvier in the film adaptation of “Doubt,” playing a nun that the whole school she watches over is “thoroughly terrified” around. Her sharp tongued dialogue comes with Streep’s imposing sense of certainty as she tries to prove sexual misconduct between their parish’s priest and a young boy.

“The Sound of Music” (1965)

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria? It isn’t easy being a nun when all you want to do is sing, spin around on top of a hill and fall in love, not to mention when there are Nazis afoot.

“The Singing Nun” (1966)

There was a real singing nun, Sister Smile, known for her song “Dominique” and who became a surprise recording smash, but there’s also this delightfully silly, playful movie in which Debbie Reynolds sings all of the Singing Nun’s hits.

“The Little Hours” (2017)

Aubrey Plaza, Brie Larson and Kate Micucci play three surly, horny nut jobs of nuns in this raunchy comedy, and that’s BEFORE Dave Franco shows up and gets everyone hot and bothered.

“Agnes of God” (1985)

In this film based on a play of the same name, Meg Tilly and Anne Bancroft play two nuns in a lonely convent where a newborn baby is found dead, sparking an investigation from a psychiatrist (Jane Fonda) as to the identity of the father and the murderer, making for a grizzly whodunnit.

“The Magdalene Sisters” (2002)

Peter Mullen’s “The Magdalene Sisters” documents the true story of institutional cruelty and abuse toward women at the hands of a convent of nuns called The Magdalene Laundries. The film follows three women sent to the asylum to atone for their sins. Their crimes? Everything from flirting with boys to getting pregnant out of wedlock to even being raped.

Ida (2013)

A Foreign Language Oscar winner, the Polish film “Ida” is about an orphaned nun who learns in a bombshell of a family reunion that her name is not Anna, how her parents died, and that she’s a Jew. Gorgeously shot in black and white, this shocking coming-of-age story about a woman who has never been outside her convent grapples with harsh realities in post-war Poland designed to test this nun’s faith.

Airplane!

Among the countless zany things to happen in “Airplane!” is a nun with a guitar. She sings some Aretha Franklin in this clip, but the best gag is when the camera finds her reading “Boy’s Life” magazine before cutting to a young boy reading “Nun’s Life.”

www.thewrap.com | 9/7/18

“The Conjuring” has led to spin-offs and sequels based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. But what actually “happened” and what was invented for the movies? Here’s a rundown of where real accounts and Hollywood screenwriting meet in “The Conjuring,” the “Annabelle” movies, and ‘The Nun.”

“The Conjuring” is based on a real reported haunting
The first film in the “Conjuring”-verse is mostly an actual, reported event, if you believe in that sort of thing. As demonstrated with photos during the end credits of the movie, the Perron family really did exist, and reported they were being attacked by some kind of entity. The Warrens did, in fact, investigate. Both Lorraine Warren and the Perron family signed off on the movie as well.

The Warrens really do have that museum of creepy things
The Warrens began their research in 1952 and decided to open the museum in the early 1980s, after their collection of haunted objects began to accumulate. The Warren Occult Museum is housed in the basement of the Warrens’ actual home in Monroe, Connecticut, and is full of haunted artifacts and images taken from their cases. It’s home to an organ that plays itself, a mirror that is said to summon spirits and a coffin owned by a “modern vampire.” To keep the evil at bay, a local priest comes once a month to bless everything on display.

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Annabelle is a real doll
The opening portion of “The Conjuring” deals with Annabelle, a doll possessed by a demon. The story about two nurses who wound up with a haunted doll is a real case the Warrens dealt with. Ed and Lorraine really did take the doll back with them to their museum and keep it in a glass case.

That’s not what Annabelle looks like
Among the liberties taken with bringing the Annabelle story to the screen, though, is changing the doll itself. The eerie American Girl porcelain look isn’t like the doll from the real case — instead, it was a big Raggedy Ann doll with red yarn hair and button eyes.

The exorcism in “The Conjuring” never happened
Although a lot of the elements of the haunting of the Perron are claimed to have happened by the people involved, the movie’s climactic possession and exorcism by Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) isn’t among them. In reality, Lorraine Warren has said her husband would never have tried to perform an exorcism since he wasn’t a priest.

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But Andrea Perron, one of the Perron children who was 11 at the time of the events in the movie, said she did see her mother Carolyn (played by Lily Taylor in the movie) possessed at one point. Andrea said she secretly watched a seance during the haunting and saw her mother speak a language she didn’t recognize in a different voice, before her chair levitated and Carolyn was thrown across the room.

“Annabelle” is not the true backstory of the doll
The first spinoff of “The Conjuring,” “Annabelle,” serves as an origin story for the creepy doll. But none of the stuff that happens to Mia (Annabelle Wallis) and John Gordon (Ward Horton) has any documentation in reality — it was all created for the movie. The Warrens’ case with Annabelle starts in the hobby shop seen at the end of the film, where the doll was purchased by the mother of one of the nurses.

Annabelle might have a real victim, though
It wasn’t in any of the movies, but Annabelle might have a real victim. After it was in the Warren museum, though, it might have inflicted its evil on someone. According to the Warrens, a man came to the museum and banged on Annabelle’s case, mocking the doll until Ed Warren threw him out. Lorraine Warren claims the man’s girlfriend told him the pair were laughing about the doll afterward while riding away on his motorcycle — until he mysteriously lost control and crashed into a tree.

Also Read: 'Annabelle: Creation' Review: Horror's Bad Doll Gets a Sinister-Stuffed Origin Story

“The Amityville Horror” is also based on a Warren case
Mentioned in “The Conjuring 2” is another haunting the Warrens worked on in Amityville, New York. In that case, the Lutz family was haunted after moving into the home in which Ronnie DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family the year before. Bits of the story of the haunting are part of the story of “The Conjuring 2,” and the case went on to inspire all of the movies in the various “Amityville Horror” franchises. (The Lutzes’ story is now known to be a hoax.)

It was also a hoax
The Amityville haunting story has been widely debunked. Ronnie DeFeo’s lawyer, William Weber, admitted the story was a hoax he and George Lutz dreamed up. Weber had hoped to use the haunting to get his client a new trial, and the Lutzes profited from the story’s widespread notoriety and fame.

“The Conjuring 2” is based on another real haunting
The Enfield Haunting is one of the most famous and best-documented supposed hauntings ever, and a lot of what’s seen in “The Conjuring 2” is part of the record of what’s actually supposed to have happened. For one thing, the recording of Janet Hodgson allegedly speaking in the voice of Bill Wilkins does exist in some form, as do images that allegedly show the children levitating. Police responding to calls from the family say they did see furniture move on its own, just like in the movie.

But there’s controversy surrounding it, too
The Hodgsons really did get caught faking evidence of the Enfield Haunting. Janet Hodgson said she faked a very small amount of the evidence in the case, claiming it was because so many people were investigating and sometimes spooky things wouldn’t happen on cue. And according to at least one investigator on the case, the Warrens’ involvement was much less than in the movie — supposedly they showed up “uninvited” and stayed only one day.

“The Crooked Man” is a real English nursery rhyme
And it’s distinctly less sinister than in “The Conjuring 2.” It was first recorded in the 1840s. The monster seen in the movie was actually just a manifestation of the demon antagonist Valak used to attack and scare the Hodgson family. But the Crooked Man is getting his own movie spinoff, and so is Valak, so expect some new backstory for “The Crooked Man” likely not based in any real hauntings or cases.

“Annabelle: Creation” is another Hollywood addition to the mythos
Since the movie “Annabelle” is a Hollywood creation and not the actual, true backstory of the real-life doll in the Warren museum, the same is true of “Annabelle: Creation.” The second movie is another prequel to “The Conjuring” that goes back even further in the doll’s life, to track where it first came from, but it’s pretty far removed from the Warrens’ cases at this point.

The Demon Nun Valak is a “real” demon… | 
The demonic nun that’s a major antagonist in “The Conjuring 2” is mostly an invention of director James Wan based on a conversation he had with Lorraine Warren about “a spectral entity that has haunted her in her house.” Valak, though, is based in demonic lore and mentioned in several books on demons from the 14th and 15th Century.

…but “The Nun” isn’t based on a true story | 

The story of Valak gets fleshed out in “The Nun” a bit, explaining how the demon haunted a convent in Romania and giving something of a reason for it appearing as a nun, but it’s all invented for the series and not based on real history or the Warrens’ cases. Valak is known as “The Defiler,” so turning positive religious imagery scary fits that description. The demon lore Valak is based on doesn’t say anything about appearing as a nun, though — it’s described as a cherub-looking child with wings and rides some kind of two-headed dragon. It is associated with serpents and snakes, though, something that makes it into the movie.

www.thewrap.com | 9/7/18

There’s a moment in The Nun when I thought I had it all figured out. It’s when Father Burke (Demian Bichir), the priest sent from the Vatican to investigate the mysterious death of a nun in 1952 Romania, falls and is subsequently trapped inside an open coffin while following behind an ominous presence outside at […]

The post The Horrifying Way ‘The Nun’ Confronts Images of Faith, Religion and Demonization appeared first on /Film.

Preorders for Apple's 2018 iPhones have already commenced for one Romania-based online store...
macdailynews.com | 9/7/18

Horror fans are delving back into the Conjuring Universe with “The Nun,” a movie that dials back into the past to explain one of the spookiest creatures to do battle with the Warrens.

“The Nun” is technically a prequel to “The Conjuring 2,” filling in some of the backstory of the demonic presence called Valak that Elizabeth Warren (Vera Farmiga) and her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) face off against in that movie. Last year in “Annabelle: Creation,” which tells the story of possessed doll, we saw another hint of the backstory, about a convent in Romania that was terrorized by the demonic nun.

The movies in the “Conjuring” universe aren’t all necessarily related, but they are all linked. And like other film universes that have developed over the last few years, they often use post-credits scenes to tease upcoming films and other potential sequels and spin-offs. So should you expect to get even more freaked out by “The Nun” and sit through the credits to see a post-credits scene?

Also Read: 'The Conjuring' Movies, Ranked Worst to Best (Photos)

The answer is no — lucky if you’re already a little squeamish (or need to get to the bathroom). While “The Nun” includes a scene at the end that directly connects it to the events depicted with the Warrens in “The Conjuring 2,” there’s nothing to wait for after the credits.

Even without a coda scene to hint at more movies, though, we already know the universe springing up around “The Conjuring” is going to get more crowded. Another monster-oriented spin-off movie is in the works based on the Crooked Man, a creature that appeared in “The Conjuring 2,” and there’s a third “Annabelle” movie on its way in 2019.

As for Valak, “The Nun” might be the end of the demonic nun’s stories, at least for now. The Warrens managed to condemn the demon back to Hell at the end of “The Conjuring 2,” so for the time being, at least, it’s defeated. Then again, we’re sure to see more movies in “The Conjuring” world in the future, and Valak may very well make an attempt at revenge on the Warrens — especially now that she has a backstory.

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www.thewrap.com | 9/7/18

The world of “The Conjuring” has developed in strange directions. Originally inspired by the controversial, debatable, but technically real-life investigations of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the franchise began with movies that told fictionalized version of allegedly factual hauntings.

But as the series got bigger, so too did the monsters, and now we have films like “The Nun,” which have no relationship whatsoever to reality, in inspiration or even in style. It’s a spooky, entertaining, but totally goofy entry in “The Conjure-verse.”

“The Nun,” directed by Corin Hardy (“The Hallow”), tells the story of Valak, the evil be-habited nun who haunted Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) in “The Conjuring 2.” The prequel takes place decades earlier, in 1952, and tells the story of how Valak escaped from the Abbey of St. Carta, a bombed-out medieval castle in Romania.

Watch Video: James Wan's 'The Nun' Teaser Conjures Up New Frights in a Romanian Abbey

The story kicks off when a pair of nuns, in a fit of panic, open a mysterious door. One of the nuns gets sucked into the dark void within, while the other escapes, only to immediately kill herself by flinging her body out of a window with a noose around her neck.

Later, a studly local delivery guy named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet, “Elle”) stumbles across her gruesome remains. So a miracle-hunter named Father Anthony Burke (Demián Bichir) is assigned by the Vatican to investigate, along with a young novitiate named Irene (Taissa Farmiga), who has psychic visions.

With Frenchie by their side, Burke and Irene venture into the creepy-weepy Abbey of St. Carta, where they discover mysterious, terrified and terrifying nuns, radios that turn on by themselves, and apparitions that remind them of past sins. (And also of snakes, just because.) As they read ancient texts that just happened to be in the place where the demonic nun Valak tried to bury them alive — a pretty major flaw in Valak’s plan — they realize the true nature of the evil that surrounds them, and they do what they need to do to stop Valak once and for all.

Also Read: Can 'The Nun' Keep Warner Bros.' Box Office Winning Streak Going?

“The Nun” is spooky, but it’s never genuinely scary, because it takes place in a reality divorced from our own. Every gothic element is overblown, every “boo” scare is shouted so loud it can break glass (sometimes literally). It feels like it jumped straight out of an EC Comics horror anthology, full of unreal imagery but with none of the trademark ironic moralizing.

Many of the film’s biggest centerpieces are so cartoonishly broad that any rational mind would assume they are supposed to be dream sequences. It would be scary if Burke fell into an open grave, but then the casket closes, the grave instantly fills up, and the letters on the tombstone suddenly read “Father Anthony Burke,” as though the titular nun was trying to impress an unseen audience. That’s not frightening. That’s a Looney Tune.

Only Frenchie seems to understand exactly what kind of movie he’s in. When he flees, panicked, from a horrifying specter, he suddenly notices that the demon didn’t follow him into a graveyard. So he grabs the nearest cross-shaped tombstone and carries it with him for the next 30 percent of the film. It’s hilarious and even a little endearing, especially when he drags it into the nearest old-timey pub to hear the locals do their own, charming local rendition of the skittish townsfolk from the beginning of “Dracula.”

Also Read: 'The Nun' Producer James Wan on His Creation of a Superhero-Like Horror Universe

“The Nun” doesn’t seem to belong in universe of “The Conjuring.” In the previous films, the supernatural horrors befell seemingly normal people, grounding the audience in a semblance of reality before any experts in the occult showed up. It’s scary because it could happen to you. But “The Nun” is about occult adventurers seeking out danger, giving the film a B-movie adventure sensibility that would be charmingly silly, were it not for the repetitive horror sequences which try (and usually fail) to get under your skin.

If anything, the connection to the “Conjuring” movies becomes an unfortunate distraction. Taissa Farmiga gives a wonderful performance, full of life and vitality and genuine terror. But she’s the younger sister of Vera Farmiga, who played Lorraine Warren in  the first two “Conjuring” movies, and in this film she looks like a younger version of Lorraine Warren, she dresses like a younger version of Lorraine Warren, she has similar mannerisms as Lorraine Warren, and like Lorraine Warren, she has psychic visions. Heck, “Irene” even sounds similar to “Lorraine.”

And yet the obvious twist, that Irene is a young Lorraine, never comes to pass. It’s the most obvious connection in the world, and “The Nun” never makes it. All our familiarity with the “Conjuring” franchise does is distract from the movie, and from Taissa Farmiga’s admirable performance. It’s like watching a DC superhero movie about a superhero who doubles as a mild-mannered reporter named “Mark Kent,” and nobody ever comments on it. “The Nun” is a movie where children puke snakes, and this Irene/Lorraine business is the weirdest thing in it.

But at least it’s never boring. “The Nun” moves at a fast clip, like it’s desperate to get to the next set piece. A little more action and a little less gore, and it could have made a rollicking installment of Universal’s defunct “Dark Universe” franchise, which also tried, but did a worse job of, combining scary stories with comic-book sensibilities.

Instead, we have “The Nun,” an absurd, somewhat inept, but watchable horror mishmash, visually cobbled together from half-remembered Hammer, Amicus and Roger Corman horror movies, with a plot that glues Michael Mann’s “The Keep” and “Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight” into some kind of weird Frankenstein monster. And if that sounds like a selling point … maybe it is.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Conjuring' Universe Surpasses $1 Billion at Global Box Office

'Conjuring 2' Spinoff on 'Crooked Man' Character in Development at New Line

'AHS': Taissa Farmiga Will Reprise Both Her 'Murder House' and 'Coven' Roles for 'Apocalypse'

Demián Bichir Lands 'Grand Hotel' Pilot at ABC

www.thewrap.com | 9/6/18
Vaccination rates have plummeted in Romania, exacerbating a measles outbreak in the poor nation, which has emerged as the leading edge of an escalating antivaccine trend that has plagued Europe in recent years.
www.wsj.com | 9/5/18

Warner Bros. ended the summer on a remarkable high note as “Crazy Rich Asians” and “The Meg” combined to gross $240 million at the box office this past month. Now they look to keep that success going with New Line’s “The Nun,” the fifth installment in the “Conjuring” horror series.

While most studios have largely steered clear of releasing films — or at least major ones — in late August and early September, Warner Bros. has turned that into a slot where they can release a New Line mid-budget horror film to excellent results.

Last year, the studio released the “Conjuring” film “Annabelle: Creation” in August, which grossed $306 million globally against a $15 million budget.

Also Read: Can Fall Box Office Break Records Despite Lack of New 'Star Wars' and Marvel Movies?

Then, the following month, WB struck gold with the remake of Stephen King’s “It,” which set a September box office opening weekend record with $123 million and became the highest grossing horror film of all-time with $700 million worldwide.

While “The Nun” won’t be the smash hit that “It” was, it is in position to set a franchise opening record for the “Conjuring” films. Independent trackers are expecting the $22 million film to open in the high $40 million range this weekend from 3,700 screens, with the most optimistic projections reaching $52 million. WB is projecting a low $40 million start.

The franchise record is held by the first “Conjuring” with $41.8 million in 2013, and if “The Nun” hits the higher end of projections, it will have the second-highest opening for a September release behind “It.” That spot currently belongs to “Hotel Transylvania 2” with $48 million.

Also Read: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Leads Labor Day Box Office to Big Rebound

While “The Nun” is very different from “Asians,” “The Meg,” or even “It,” like all those films it has done a stellar job of targeting its marketing towards moviegoers who would be the most intrigued. WB and New Line recently released an online featurette outlining the timeline of the “Conjuring” universe that has been built over the last five years, while moviegoers who saw films like “The First Purge” and “The Meg” were treated to a terrifying trailer.

“It’s an incredibly well-cut trailer, and what’s interesting is that it really doesn’t play up the connection to ‘The Conjuring’ all that much,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “I think this film is going to get great results from both casual horror fans who just like the premise and the sneak peeks and the hardcore ‘Conjuring’ fans who have been keeping up with the series from the previous four films.”

Directed by Corin Hardy and written by longtime “Conjuring” scribe Gary Dauberman, “The Nun” is a spin-off based around Valak, the demonic nun that faced off against Ed and Lorraine Warren in “The Conjuring 2.”

Set in Romania in 1952, the film follows a Catholic priest (Demian Bichir) and a young novice named Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they are sent by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at the Carta Monastery. Bonnie Aarons returns to reprise her role as the titular demon.

Also releasing this weekend is STX’s revenge film “Peppermint,” which marks Jennifer Garner’s return to an action role 12 years after the conclusion of “Alias.” Following a mourning mother who hunts down those who murdered her husband and daughter, the film is projected for a $10-13 million opening from 2,800 screens.

Finally, there’s Entertainment Studios’ faith-based drama “God Bless the Broken Road, the latest film from “God’s Not Dead” director Harold Cronk. Starring Lindsey Pulsipher as a mother who struggles to raise her daughter after her husband is killed in Afghanistan, the film is expected to open outside the top five this weekend with a $2-4 million opening.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Conjuring' Universe Surpasses $1 Billion at Global Box Office

Can Fall Box Office Break Records Despite Lack of New 'Star Wars' and Marvel Movies?

'Crazy Rich Asians' Leads Labor Day Box Office to Big Rebound

www.thewrap.com | 9/5/18
Nicole Scherzinger proved that she's still got it, as she performed at the Cerbul de Aur Festival in Romania and she looked incredible as she showed off her toned legs and svelte figure in a pink leotard.