Every Wednesday, the Movie Forum convenes to discuss the latest news from the film world and answer questions submitted by you, the reader.
This week? SAGs, Sundance and Star Wars! USA TODAY movie reporters Bryan Alexander and Brian Truitt will discussed the post-SAG awards world, the highlights from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the revelation that director J.J. Abrams will helm the next Star Wars film.
Enjoy the chat and submit your questions for next week below.
Brian Truitt: Hey there! Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
I'm Brian Truitt, entertainment writer for USA TODAY, and I'm pulling double duty today as moderator and chatter, Joining me today is movie reporter Bryan Alexander.
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week, the Movie Forum is brought to you by the letter "S" - because we're going to be talking SAGs, Sundance and Star Wars!
Bryan and I will start by sharing their thoughts this week's topics, then we will move on to reader-submitted questions.
SO…let's get the Forum started!
Bryan Alexander: Hur-RAH
Brian Truitt: The Screen Actors Guild Awards were this past Sunday, where Bryan was in the house and chatting up Hollywood's finest. And it was a big one being the last awards show before Oscars next month. Bryan, who were the big SAG winners?
Bryan Alexander: Hard to argue with Argo. Could you just feel the momentum continuing to move over to Ben Affleck ever since his big Oscar snub for director?
Brian Truitt: It's definitely palpable for sure.
Bryan Alexander: The win for essentially Best Picture puts the film in prime position heading into the DGA awards this weekend, and of course the Oscars next month.
Ben was pretty excited. Backstage he said he overlooked a reporter raising his hand and commented how he knows what it's like to be overlooked.
He's very funny. Keeping positive. And why should he not. Hollywood seems to be bending over backwards to make up for the gaff of not nominating him for best director.
And Argo is a great movie, but this is giving it a big edge
Jennifer Lawrence was also a big winner of course for Silver Linings Playbook. Daniel Day-Lewis is very much cruising along for Lincoln.
Brian Truitt: That win over Chastain for Lawrence seems pretty huge. Do you feel she's as much of a lock to win as seemingly DDL and Anne Hathaway?
Bryan Alexander: I still feel there's a fight there. But that was big. And her speech was magical. It had all the elements of true surprise and gratitude, but she didn't seem to miss a beat or forget someone (like Claire Danes forgot her hubby and baby....oops).
Brian Truitt: There's part of me that's still hopeful for Silver Linings Playbook pulling an upset. But with all the momentum it has, is Argo now the fave for Best Pic?
Bryan Alexander: I think so definitely. That's the picture to beat right now. But there's still time.
Obviously it was a lot of fun to see 30 Rock do so well as it heads to its final season. And Bryan Cranston got some serious due for Breaking Bad.
Cranston, who also stars in Argo, talks about Breaking Bad as the role of his career. He said backstage that when he dies, it's going to be "Breaking Bad Actor Explodes" or whatever way he goes.
I loved that line.
He was just soaking it in and really appreciative. And that's fun to watch.
Brian Truitt: I can't believe that was Cranson's first win after years of brilliance on that show. It was fun to see Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin conquer the comedy categories. And I was reminded again how I probably should watch Downton Abbey.
Bryan Alexander: I tried watching Downton Abbey. I clearly don't have that gene.
Brian Truitt: How it can win over something like Sherlock flabbergasts me. But alas, people love their upstairs/downstairs drama.
Bryan Alexander: Yes, I'm with you on that.
Brian Truitt: Alrighty, moving on... Bryan was up in Park City, Utah, for the recent Sundance Film Festival, which has produced a lot of really great films over the years. (This year's Best Pic nominee Beasts of the Southern Wild was last year's big winner). What should folks be watching for to come out of this year's crop, Bryan?
Bryan Alexander: The big winner was Fruitvale, a drama based on the story of a 22 year old Bay Area resident who was shot to death by cops at the Fruitvale transit stop. It's a gritty story which has been bought by the Weinstein company. So look for that. It will be interesting to see if it makes the kind of splash Beasts has made
Fox exec Tom Rothman who was on the jury sure seems to think so. As he presented the award he said "This will not be the last time you come to a podium."
And Fruitvale came up twice winning the audience award and the big enchilada which is the Grand Jury Prize for drama
Blood Brother won big for the documentaries. It's the story of an American who gets tired of life over here and moves to India to work in an AIDS orphanage.
That too swept the the audience and the grand jury prize for docs
Brian Truitt: That's some hard-hitting stuff. Anything else that you personally really liked as a film buff?
Bryan Alexander: There were some great movies at the festival. The Way Way Back was possibly the big spiritual winner going to Fox Searchlight for 10 million smackers.
Nat Faxon and Jim Rash who wrote The Descendents wrote this story about a kid who gets tired of life and vacations with Steve Carrell and his mother Toni Collette.
It's a big investment and we'll see if the movie keeps the love going beyond Sundance.
And it's a rated R comedy.
Brian Truitt: Jim Rash, of course better known as the dean on Community.
Bryan Alexander: And there were some fun films from Linsanity, which focuses on basketball phenom Jeremy Lin to Lake Bell's directorial and screenwriting debut for which she took home a lot of love and a screenwriting award.
Brian Truitt: Sounds like a fun time. Cold but fun.
Bryan Alexander: Wasn't so cold actually. They were calling it balmy. Even if there was that curious white stuff I don't see a lot in LA
Brian Truitt: Enough about Sundance. Let's talk about that other big news coming out of Hollywood that's close to my very nerdy heart: J.J. Abrams doing a Star Wars movie and taking over the reins from creator George Lucas. What are your thoughts, Bryan? Is J.J.a good fit for the Jedi crowd?
Bryan Alexander: I definitely think so. He's done wonders bringing Star Trek to, well, a new generation. And the first was fun and slick and still very much kept the Trekkies happy. I am really excited. What do you think?
Brian Truitt: I'm pretty positive on it. I loved his recent Star Trek reboot, and I'm not really much of a Trekkie at all. (As evident by the loads of Star Wars toys in my basement...) I hear Ben Affleck was considered, and I think that would have been an interesting Episode VII.
Bryan Alexander: Really, I hadn't heard that.
And JJ is not afraid to take chances. I mean, he put the Enterprise underwater in Star Trek Into Darkness. That's a shock to the system. But a lot of fun. I think the Star Wars movies are genius. But sometimes they need someone strong enough to say, wait a minute, let's try this.
And let's not put Jar Jar in this.. Sorry couldn't resist.
Brian Truitt: I personally would have liked the reins to be given to a newer filmmaker with a lot of vision, someone like Rian Johnson (Looper) and Duncan Jones (Source Code). But J.J. is a fanboy, he knows the lay of the land, and he has a lot of good people around him to keep from going into Jar-Jar territory.
I will allow Ewoks though.
Bryan Alexander: Simultaneous Jar-Jar jokes
Seriously you like Ewoks?
That is so lame. God those critters annoyed me.
I feel like Jabba the Hut should have worn an Ewok jacket
Brian Truitt: When I was 7, I remember standing in line for four hours outside of a mall on opening day of Return of the Jedi. The Ewoks were cool with me then, and still are. YUB NUB!
Bryan Alexander: I hope someone is rich from that marketing scheme that never should have had a screen minute, much less a screen line.
But they would have made great parts in the Muppet movies
Brian Truitt: My parents pulled me out of school early that day. BEST DAY EVERRRR.
Bryan Alexander: But I feel like Statler and Waldorf would totally kick they little butts
That is so cool about your folks.
Brian Truitt: You know, Disney is releasing Muppet movies and Star Wars films. It could happen.
Bryan Alexander: I would pay for that. And leave happy
Brian Truitt: My mom tossed all my Star Wars figures back in the day, but she's cool anyway.
Bryan Alexander: That's so wrong
Your mom, not Ewok abuse
Will J.J. as director be likely to work with some of his former stars? If so, who should he bring in?
Bryan Alexander: That's funny. I was just talking to Chris Pine about that. And he wouldn't even go there. That would be too much to see the guy playing Kirk.
Brian Truitt: I think if Josh Holloway isn't a member of Han Solo's family, somebody's doing something wrong.
Bryan Alexander: I kind feel we're going to see someone. Maybe Jorge Garcia in an inter-galactic bar scene
Brian Truitt: I would nerd out hard if he was Rebel pilot Porkins' son.
Bryan Alexander: I think you just nerded out already
But that is genius
Brian Truitt: I am fairly sure that Keri Russell will show up. Probably with weird hair.
Bryan Alexander: you mean like Princess Leia buns?
Brian Truitt: EXACTLY
Bryan Alexander: Works for me
I think Tina Fey kind of owns those now
Brian Truitt: I have a feeling that they'll catch up with Han, Luke and Leia in the new ones, and their kids.
I know he's a fanboy, but kind of scared about j.j. abrams doing both franchises. Any other fanboy directors you would have thought of?
Bryan Alexander: I hear this a lot. And I don't really understand the thought process there. Explain it to me Brian. What's the big fear?
Brian Truitt: It's a good question. I think it it's a two fold thing. People know that there is such a thing as a bad Star Wars movie - COUGH Phantom Menace COUGH - and fans might fear that if he doesn't have his eye on the prize, it could happen again.
Bryan Alexander: Okay...
Brian Truitt: And I think there is a sense of jealousy in a weird way. Like, if he's doing Star Wars, then he's not doing enough for Star Trek, or vice versa. It's a weird thing, but I get it in a way.
Bryan Alexander: Okay, I thought this would shed some light, but I am still confused. People take on different projects. They can handle one and then the other. I don't get it. Guest person who wrote this. Let me know your fears. This doesn't hold water. This is just nerds getting all panicky about the sacred text.
Brian Truitt: We get panicky. It's what comes with the nerd membership card.
Bryan Alexander: I call to the heavens to send me a nerd who is scared of this to better explain the fears.
And then explain Ewoks
Brian Truitt: They're cute and use Stormtrooper helmets as drums. I think that's all you need to know, really. And they say YUM NUB a lot and PARTY LIKE IT'S 1983!
That good enough for ya?
Bryan Alexander: Waiting oh heavens. Waiting
I had blacked out Yub Nub. Thanks for reminding me.
Christine from Minnesota asks:
Why was the series Dexter subbed again. is It because it is politically incorrect? I love Claire Daines, but Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Deb in Dexter, gave several stunning performances in Season 7 of the show. She should have at least be nominated. The series Dexter should be nominated as well.
Brian Truitt: Thanks. Christine. I also am a fan of Jennifer Carpenter's Deb Morgan on Dexter. She does a good job on that show, but Michael C. Hall will always get the primary love when it comes to Dexter. And Danes is pretty awesome on Homeland. Whatcha think, Bryan?
Bryan Alexander: What's so politically incorrect about a crime solving seriel killer?
It's just hard to stop the Homeland train. That thing is still zooming along. Golden Globes, Emmys. It's their time.
Brian Truitt: True, that's what I think Cranston winning was a bit of an upset. I figured Damian Lewis was going to take a SAG for Homeland. He's fantastic on that series.
Bryan Alexander: Agreed. And I am still mourning how Mad Men just seems to not be able to make it over the cusp anymore.
Maybe after this season we'll see Jon Hamm and that jaw back behind the podium
Brian Truitt: Yeah, what happened there? That used to be the awards darling and now no one seems to care.
Bryan Alexander:Homeland just zoomed in and sucked the air and the awards out of the room.
Brian Truitt: I think J.J. needs to hire Hamm as a Sith lord so he can go and get Star Wars an acting Oscar.
Bryan Alexander: Love!
Brian Truitt: I'm gonna go email him right now. JJHeartsStarWars@compuserve.com
Bryan Alexander: Compuserve. Fantastic
John from Illinois asks:
Do you really believe that with such incidents as the shootings and the whole gun topic keep people from seeing certain movies, or the fact that such action stars that I grew up with just don't do it for folks today? I can remember when summer would come and you were waiting for the next big action flick to come out.
Bryan Alexander: I think if you wonder whether terrible events such as what happened in Newtown Ct stop people from seeing violent movies, then all you have to notice is how well the Texas Chainsaw 3D did this month
Sure someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger took a bump with The Last Stand.
But right or wrong, I don't think it was because of the violence in the movie.
Brian Truitt: It's an interesting question, John. My dad let me watch a lot of those 1980s action movies when I was a kid, much to my mom's chagrin. It was just a different time, I think. During the Cold War era, it was almost a rah-rah thing to watch Chuck Norris take a whuppin' stick to Russians in Invasion USA. And a movie like Red Dawn was a cult classic back then. The recent remake though kinda tanked.
Bryan Alexander: I see where you are going, but the Red Dawn redo tanked for other reasons.
Brian Truitt: I think people want a little fantasy with their action. And a movie like The Last Stand is a little more real than Texas Chainsaw.
Bryan Alexander: Did you see The Last Stand Brian?
There was pretty much zero real
And it seemed to enjoy that.
It's about a car breaking for the border and it's driving to get over the border (not flying) and Arnold is a sheriff
Brian Truitt: Anything is more real than a guy with a mask running around with a chainsaw. Well, hopefully.
Bryan Alexander: You don't live in my neighborhood
Brian Truitt: Remind me to not move there then. And on that note, it's time for us to wrap up...
Thanks for chatting, Bryan, and thanks to all the readers who submitted questions and comments during the chat and via email.
Bryan Alexander: And if any geeks/nerds want to explain their JJ Star Wars fears please tweet me @bryalexand
Thank you and good bye
Brian Truitt: Remember: you can submit your burning movie questions all week long, right here.
Thank you all for joining us for the USA TODAY Movie Forum! Please join us again next Wednesday at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST for another edition of Movie Forum.