For AOL Movies: Critics, Bullock, Penn, PGA, Waters, Tomatoes, Maguire

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These are my latest posts for AOL Inside Movies. Please feel free to click over and read these posts in their entirety.

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Why Tobey Maguire Leaving ‘Spider-Man’ is a Good Thing — And Five Actors Who Could Replace Him

Film franchises are Hollywood’s third rail — you never touch them when everything seems to work just fine. That’s why Sony Pictures’ decision to ditch ‘Spider-Man 4,’ along with Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi, seems ripped from the same counter-intuitive playbook that NBC used when it shuttled Jay Leno to 10 PM. Had Sony proceeded with a fourth installment as planned, there were already …

RottenTomatoes Honors ‘Up,’ ‘Hurt Locker’ as 2009’s Best-Reviewed Films

The 11th annual Golden Tomato Awards have been announced, and particularly for the film at the sourest end of the spectrum, the results are pretty squishy. But first, let us have the positive news. RottenTomatoes.com, the film-review aggregator that distributes the honors, declared that ‘Up,’ the Pixar film, captured the Golden Tomato for Best Reviewed Wide Release, with an impressive 98 …

Free Movie of the Day: ‘Cry-Baby’

Good morning, Baltimore! Or, as John Waters’ 1990 cult classic might have rephrased it, “good night” — for a great deal of ‘Cry-Baby’ takes place during the dusky hours when 1954 high schoolers fall in love. Considered only the second of Waters’ mainstream films (following the iconic ‘Hairspray’), ‘Cry-Baby’ is at once a satire of 1950s teenybopper musicals and a valentine to the genre of …

Producers Guild of America Nominations: ‘Avatar,’ ‘Star Trek’ to Compete for Best Pic

Echoing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and, it seems, every film critics’ group worldwide, the Producers Guild of America unveiled nominees for its 21st annual awards with a list that includes many usual suspects — like ‘Up in the Air,’ ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ The list, however, is noteworthy in two respects. Firstly, the PGA Best Picture field has been expanded …

Sean Penn Back on Board for ‘Three Stooges’

By a hair’s breadth, you might say, the film about the Three Stooges being written and directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring Sean Penn appears to be back on track. According to the Boston Herald, Penn, who had bailed on the project seven months ago as he tried to save his marriage to Robin Wright Penn, has sent signals that he is ready to rejoin the effort and move forward. Once the …

Sandra Bullock Crowned Biggest Box Office Draw of 2009

It wasn’t George Clooney who brought in the most bucks at the box office in 2009 — no, he was merely the fourth-ranked bread earner. And it wasn’t Robert Downey, Jr. — even with all the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ hoopla, he was down the list at No. 5. And Meryl Streep? Sure, she had a terrific 2009. But she was down the list even further, located at No. 6. According to the Hollywood Reporter, it was …

Phoenix Critics Love ‘Basterds,’ Oklahoma Critics Prefer ‘Hurt Locker’

Critics in the Sooner State (Oklahoma) and the capital of the Grand Canyon State (Phoenix, Arizona) have spoken — and directors Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino are listening. The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle gave ‘The Hurt Locker’ its vote for Best Picture, and then awarded director Bigelow its nod for Best Director. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Film Critics’ Society, also per Variety, …