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November 18, 2008

Kidman leaves after 'Australia'?

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First it was Eddie Murphy, then Joaquin Phoenix and Angelina Jolie (maybe) and now it's Nicole Kidman (maybe?).

Purple's the new black, and apparently announcing your retirement from acting is the new returning to stand-up comedy/playing in a band/adopting and birthing children.

At the Sydney premiere of "Australia," Oscar-winner Kidman talked about having more kids (her daughter with husband Grammy-winning country singer Keith Urban is four months old) and generally exercising her right to stop starring in losers like "The Invasion" and "Fur."

She called her taste in films "unusual" and "quirky," with results ranging from "The Hours," for which she won her Oscar, to "The Golden Compass," which stopped a budding franchise dead in its tracks. Still to be determined: If she really means to call it quits.

Baz Luhrmann obviously finished "Australia" in time for the rainy premiere -- upbeat ending, right? -- and there are screenings scheduled for tomorrow in L.A. Most media types stateside haven't seen it yet, but shockingly the Aussie press loves it. Loves. It. One breathless assessment:

"A love letter to the Australian landscape and our history, 'Australia' has international blockbuster written all over it."

THR's critic points out that there are some "Harlequin Romance moments" but forgives those because of the "grandiose imagery and storytelling."

Because of its creative pedigree, epic scope, and lush looking cinematography, the film had been bandied about in early Oscar projecting. Lately, not so much. Even Kidman hasn't managed much support, and we unceremoniously tossed her off our Too Early for Real Predictions list and replaced her with "Happy-Go-Lucky's" Sally Hawkins.

But informal chats with film fans, especially women over 30, show real interest in a sweeping romance, especially amidst a sea of intense, serious adult-targeted movies this month and next. And for that demo, "Twilight" just won't do.

 

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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.

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  • 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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