The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday moved forward with nine potential nominated movies for the next round of voting in the foreign language film category for the 85th Academy Awards, narrowing the field from 71 qualifying films.
There were no major surprises in the winnowed-down lineup, with the list including Austria's "Amour," directed by Michael Haneke and winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival, as well as France's "The Intouchables," directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, which has been a worldwide box-office sensation.
A number of the films have Hollywood connections of one form or another, with familiar actors such as Mads Mikkelsen in Denmark's "A Royal Affair," directed by Nikolaj Arcel, and Gael García Bernal in Chile's "No," directed by Pablo Larraín.
Rounding out the list: Canada, "War Witch," directed by Kim Nguyen; Iceland, "The Deep," directed by Baltasar Kormákur; Norway, "Kon-Tiki," directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg; Romania, "Beyond the Hills," directed by Cristian Mungiu; Switzerland, "Sister," directed by Ursula Meier.
Among notable films that did not make the cut were director Lasse Hallström's Swedish picture "The Hypnotist," the Italian movie "Caesar Must Die" and the German submission "Barbara."
The shortlist of nine will be narrowed down to five nominees by specially nominated committees in New York and Los Angeles.
Ben Affleck, U.S. senator? No 'no'
Ben Affleck didn't say much, but he didn't say "no" when pressed by Bob Schieffer to chat about the possibility that he might run for a Senate seat in Massachusetts should Sen. John Kerry be approved as secretary of State.
"I'm not going to get into speculation about my political future," Affleck said in an interview taped for this Sunday's "Face the Nation" on CBS. "I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country."
He said he's pretty happy working from outside government right now, advocating on behalf of Congolese civilians through his Eastern Congo Initiative and using his film "Argo" to start a conversation on the United States' relationship with Iran.
The actor appeared Wednesday on Capitol Hill to testify before the House Armed Services Committee about the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a conflict Affleck termed "the deadliest ... since World War II."
As part of his testimony, he asked that the U.S. use its leverage within the United Nations to revisit and revamp the mandate of that organization's 15-year-old peacekeeping effort in the region.
Mural painted over, suit filed
An L.A. mural artist has filed a lawsuit in federal court against brewer Heineken and others over a public mural she created 20 years ago that was painted over with a beer advertisement.
Lawyers for Annie Sperling claim that the mural "Our Lady of the Iguanas" was improperly painted over and that the defendants made no attempt to notify the artist of their plans. Sperling is seeking at least $250,000 in damages.
The mural was located near Sunset Junction in Silver Lake and was created in 1993. "Our Lady of the Iguanas," an homage to the Graciela Iturbide photograph of the same name, depicted a female figure with iguanas sitting on her head.
The suit, first reported by the website Eastsider LA., says the mural was painted over last year with an ad for Newcastle Brown Ale, made and distributed by Heineken.
The defendants also named in the suit include AstraPacific Outdoor, a company that creates
outdoor advertising, and Barry Mason Enterprises, which the filing says
owns the building in question.
Greener days for 'Newsies'
"Newsies: The Musical," about turn-of-the-20th century paperboys who go on strike, has recouped its initial $5-million investment on Broadway and is heading into the black.
Disney Theatrical Productions announced Thursday that the show, which began previews in mid-March, has recouped its costs more quickly than any of its four previous Broadway hits — "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," "Aida," "Mary Poppins."
"Tarzan" and "The Little Mermaid" were the two that didn't pan out for Disney as Broadway investments.