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August 27, 2008

Burn After Reading hits Venice


And the fans go wild. Why shouldn't they? It's Oscar winner George Clooney and past Oscar nominee Brad Pitt, two of the world's most genetically perfect human beings, doing a little gladhanding at the Venice Film Festival, where their "Burn After Reading" is kicking off the 10-day event.

It's all tuxes and photo opps, but with a humanitarian sidebar, as Clooney and Pitt are also in town for a fundraising event for their pet charity, Not on Our Watch, which has gathered more than $7 million for the needy in Darfur. Just makes them even more fawn-worthy.

This is the formal coming out party for "Burn After Reading," Joel and Ethan Cohen's follow-up (in its timing, but not its personality) to their Oscar-hoarding "No Country for Old Men." It's a comedy! About the C.I.A.! It'll be making the rounds now to Toronto, the San Sebastian International Film Festival and others as it looks to whip up some Oscar buzz and momentum.

Since there was little real excitement out of Cannes this year, other festivals could take on more heft as potential awards spotters. Ongoing debate about the cost vs. reward of rolling out an Oscar caliber film at a place like Venice hasn't seemed to keep filmmakers or stars away -- cast members/Oscar winners Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand also hit the red carpet with the Cohen brothers.

Ears to the ground on how "Burn" goes over with the Italians and the critics, though it may take some mighty loud booing and hissing to knock it off those early Oscar projection lists. So far, it's all been about the pedigree, and this hilarious trailer.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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