Reactions from the Oscar nominees

Anne Hathaway, Ron Howard, Angelina Jolie and more

Best actress nominee Angelina Jolie said of the recognition she earned for "Changeling": "Working with Clint Eastwood was a reward in itself that will last me a lifetime. To receive a nomination from the Academy on top of that is a privilege beyond any expectation. It has been an exceptional year for acting, and I am honored to be in the company of these talented actors whose performances all deserve this recognition. I am also happy that 'Kung Fu Panda' also was noticed by the Academy and proud to be a part of a film my entire family loves so much."

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Nominated for his supporting role as county supervisor Dan White in the Harvey Milk biopic "Milk," Josh Brolin -- who also played President Bush in the 2008 release "W." -- said he was pleased to be recognized for his work on the "important" film. " 'W.' was probably the most difficult job in film that I've ever done because you carry his age from a young age through (his presidency). 'Milk' was different," he said. "When I read it, I was so emotional and taken with the story that I just wanted to do this story. It's a timely story, and as timely as it can be with Prop. 8. So obviously, it's an important movie and a very visceral film at that." Brolin acknowledged that Oscar nominations can help an actor attract offers for future meaty roles. "There's more confidence that I can pull off more complicated roles, and luckily, because of the nature of the role of Dan White, we're getting offered really, really interesting roles." Brolin's next film -- Warner Bros. comics-spawned "Jonah Hex," which he calls "a throwback to spaghetti Westerns" -- begins shooting in March.

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Just back from Washington and the inauguration that she attended with her father, "Rachel Getting Married" star Anne Hathaway stayed overnight at her parents' home to await word on whether she had received a best actress Oscar nomination. "I figured I'd be crying either way," Hathaway said. "But it was tears of joy." Hathaway said she was humbled by receiving a nomination for such an ensemble drama, when the actress is usually known for lighter comedies like "The Princess Diaries." "I feel very lucky." She remembered being surprised when her manager told her about halfway through the shoot that there was some Oscar buzz surrounding her performance. "It was weird," Hathaway said. "That thought hadn't crossed my mind, not even in the little back of my mind saying, 'Wouldn't it be cool?' That's not really why I'm doing it." She spoke to "Rachel" director Jonathan Demme, who is working on his Bob Marley documentary on Thursday. "I'll go to the editing room and give him a hug," Hathaway said.

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Richard Jenkins is the ultimate Hollywood outsider. So it's fitting that "The Visitor" actor was sitting at his home in Rhode Island, surfing the Web and drinking a cup of coffee, when the Oscar noms were announced. "I didn't want to watch because I knew I wasn't going to see my name," he said. Jenkins found out when his son-in-law's father called him. "I'm surprised. I'm shocked," the actor said of his role in the indie film. "I wasn't optimistic, and I'm not just being humble about it. It's a movie that came out in April, really early. And there were so many other great films this year." Jenkins said he doesn't think this award will make him more optimistic about this or future awards prospects. "One learns as you go in this profession not to have expectations," he said. "They'll bite you every time."

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Melissa Leo is stoked about her lead actress nomination for "Frozen River," Sony Pictures Classics' resolutely indie film. "I'm just over the moon," Leo said. "I had mentioned to a friend or two last night that perhaps this morning that my life might have changed, and it has." Leo, who is known in the business as a working actor, said the name "Frozen River" gives a pretty good indication on how cold it was shooting the movie, which mostly takes place outside and inside a car. She prepared by working in the sauna and in the gym and then dressed appropriately, including changing socks in the middle of the day. "I was warm and dry and happy and comfortable," Leo said. "I was not going to get sick and turn in a bad day's work. We didn't have time for that." Now the work for "Frozen River" involves a different kind of attire. "You mean I can't wear my polar sleeves? Oh no, nobody told me," she joked. Leo said that she's been consulting dressmakers and designers for the past six months or so to appear at other events. She said she doesn't know what she will wear but she's well prepared. "I'm really excited about dressing up like a movie star and walking on that carpet," she said.

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Viola Davis, nominated for her brief supporting performance in "Doubt," did a lot of screaming to express her excitement on Oscar nomination morning, which she spent at the Four Seasons Hotel. "I screamed in my husband's ear. He was sitting next to me," Davis said. The same was true when she called her mother back in Rhode Island and left voicemails for her sister and messages on some friends' answering machines. Davis lauded the ensemble effort that brought "Doubt" to life. "You are only as good as your partners," she said about the slew of acting nominations the film earned. And she has no time and reason for feeling competitive with fellow "Doubt" star Amy Adams, who also earned a nom. "I love her too much and respect her too much," Davis said. "She is so wonderfully nuanced, and I am just happy we both got nominated." What's her next project? "If you know anybody who can get me a job ...," Davis quipped, adding she is looking for another challenging opportunity. "I am trying to be picky," she said. She would love to work with Meryl Streep again or get a chance to play opposite her longtime inspiration Cicely Tyson.

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Ron Howard was stuck in traffic on New York's West Side Highway, toggling between radio stations 880 AM for Sig Alerts and 1010 WINS, which was carrying the nominations live. "It was a throwback, listening to it live on the radio," Howard said. He's hoping the nominations give a major boost to the movie, which opens wide this weekend, and is one of the director's noncommercial efforts. "If you tell people it's based on a bunch of interviews, they wonder where the entertainment charge is going to be in that. It's not easy to market the movie, and this kind of acknowledgment will go a long to way for audience to take chance." Despite the movie's five nominations, Howard has one regret: that co-star Michael Sheen wasn't recognized. "I think his performance is so outstanding. But I am so happy for Frank, who executed such a highwire act in taking on Nixon," he said.

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Foreign-language nominee "Waltz With Bashir" -- an animated documentary that takes place during the first war between Israel and Lebanon -- may have come out nearly three decades after that conflict took place, but director Ari Folman said he remains unsurprised by how much the film's message still applies. "When we were working on the film the war in Lebanon had just started, some people on my team had a little bit of concern about the timing; they were worried we'd be coming out too late," Folman said. "And I told them, 'Guys -- you can count on our leaders that it will always be relevant. And now more than two years passed and with the war in Gaza, nothing's changed, really." While the film was nominated for foreign, it missed the cut on animated -- but Folman said he was not disappointed. "I think that the animation nominee is about big studios and big money, and we're not in that game. We had a budget that was exactly 1% of 'WALL-E.' "

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Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, co-directors of "Kung Fu Panda," both sounded excited. Osborne said he was "totally, totally thrilled" for the "best animated picture" nomination, which he called "an amazing validation for the entire crew." Previously nominated in 1998 for his stop-motion work on the animated short "More," Osborne also said he hopes to go back to stop-motion with a dream project he is trying to get off the ground after writing a script with a friend. "I thought it's time to do something crazy -- get back to stop-motion," he said. Osborne also said he has long dreamed of working with Martin Scorsese, Guillermo Del Toro or the Coen brothers. He introduced himself to Scorsese at the Golden Globes and was happy to hear when Scorsese told him that his daughter loved "Panda."

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Wally Pfister, director of photography on "The Dark Knight," was nominated for a third time in the cinematography category (after previous noms for "Batman Begins" and "The Prestige). He has never copped the statuette, so Pfister said he hoped the third time would prove the change. But he added with a chuckle: "Roger Deakins (nominated for lighting 'The Reader') has been nominated eight times and hasn't won. So part of my heart wants him to win, because I wouldn't want to be in that position." Pfister also noted the absence of "Dark Knight" helmer Christopher Nolan from best-director nominees. "I'm a little sad that he wasn't recognized for the unique stamp that he put on this film," the cinematographer said. "Everything that you see on the screen in this film and has been nominated in the technical categories owes something to Chris in origin."

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Dustin Lance Black came up with an interesting breakfast plan once news of the nominations broke. "I grabbed this great bottle of champagne and cruised up the hill to (producer) Dan (Jinks') place," the "Milk" scribe said, adding that Gus Van Sant will fly from Oregon to Southern California later in the day to celebrate. But the nomination had a certain weightiness for Black as well. "The message of this movie, and the message of Harvey, saved me when I was 13 years old, and what's exciting about this nomination that it means more people will see to the movie, which means more people like those in the town I grew up in will have hope," Black said. There's been talk that "Milk" might have played more of a role in the Proposition 8 debate, but Black said don't overlook the role it can still play. "As much as I wish it had come out before Proposition 8 -- like a year before -- there's still a lesson of education and outreach in the film that we didn't see in Prop. 8. There's a fight coming in every state, and I hope the film will be a part of that fight."

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"Hollywood recognizing Bollywood is a first," "Slumdog Millionaire" producer Christian Colson said from the premiere of the movie in Mumbai where, as luck would have it, the movie was having its Indian rollout. "To get the news tonight of all nights is amazing," he said as crowds cheered in the background. Colson said he was standing in the wings of a "Today" broadcast with "Slumdog" director Danny Boyle as well as stars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto on camera, and when the news was coming in, he would signal to them updates. The nominations are a long way from where Colson and the filmmakers started from, going back to first attempting to make a movie that is barely in the English language to the time when Warners was thinking of releasing it straight to home video. "When you are making films, you just get on. And this outcome ... it's not why you're doing it, but it's something that is utterly unpredictable and thrilling."

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Like the rest of "Slumdog Millionaire's" filmmakers, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy was stepping onto the red carpet of the film's Mumbai premiere when he found out he was nominated for best adapted screenplay. "The wave of love and affection for the film has really overwhelmed us," Beaufoy said over a cacophony of cheering and music in the background. "It was this little film set in a foreign land with no stars and subtitles. You can't possibly imagine that it would turn into this huge film." The last India-set movie to receive major recognition from the Academy was the Richard Attenborough-directed biopic "Gandhi," which pulled down eight Oscars in 1983 (including best picture and best original screenplay). "Slumdog" is nominated for 10. "The Indians are so proud!" said Beaufoy, who was also nominated for his script for "The Full Monty" in 1998. "It's gone crazy here. Everyone was dancing on the red carpet with a band. In India, when people celebrate, they do it big style. There's none of that English shaking hands and going, 'Well done.' Total strangers are coming up to you and hugging you. It's extraordinary. They have gone absolutely wild."



"Why wouldn't I be good?" answered a wide-awake Eric Roth, who picked up a fourth nomination for his adapted screenplay for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." "Anybody who tells you they were sleeping is a liar." Roth won an Oscar for adapting "Forrest Gump" in 1995 and was nominated for "The Insider" and "Munich." But "Button," which he adapted and expanded from an odd F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, had a personal context that it took many years and directors to get right, until director David Fincher came along. "All tribute to David Fincher -- that's my mantra," Roth said. "He was able to somehow channel things I had hoped he would, because a lot of things were really personal with my mom dying and all." With fellow nominees Fincher and Brad Pitt in Paris to open the movie there and his wife at the ballet, Roth had a very specific solo celebration in mind. "I'm going to go to the races," he said.

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Speaking from his office in London, Mike Leigh said that despite this being his fourth best screenplay nomination, "You can't help getting excited, because this is wonderful." But he did admit some disappointment about "Happy-Go-Lucky" not having earned an acting nomination. "Obviously, I'm a tiny bit disappointed about Sally Hawkins," he said. "That's what we really thought, what I thought would happen -- if anything was going to." But he expressed excitement about Hollywood giving a nod to his screenplay and the cast's contribution to its evolution. Asked why the film was snubbed at the BAFTAs but showed up on the Oscar nominations list, Leigh suggested: "I think it's that the Americans don't genuflect obsequiously to Hollywood in the same ways the Brits do."

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The night before the nominations, Andrew Stanton, staying in an L.A. hotel, had arranged room service to wake him up before the telecast, so he was up watching when he heard his name and movie mentioned. He then opened his laptop and "e-mailed everyone I knew." While "WALL-E" tied with "Beauty and the Beast" for the most nominations ever for an animated film, six, the nom that held special meaning was the screenwriting one, which he shares with Pete Docter and Jim Reardon. "I was really elated. That's the profession I've spent most of my life doing, more than directing, and something I work on constantly." Stanton said he was afraid that because there was no dialogue in the first part of the movie, people would think "the script just fell into place." "It was very hard writing it. There was no room for error because everything was interpretation when you watched it, and you had to be like an orchestrator. You just had to be in complete control in what the instruments were doing so that you didn't give the wrong signals." "WALL-E" is the fifth Pixar movie to be nominated in the writing category, Stanton noted. "We've always said it's story, story, story, so it's nice to see that pay off in this category."

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Peter Gabriel had never received an Oscar nomination before Thursday, though he has been nominated three times for a Golden Globe. His "WALL-E" songwriting partner and the movie's score composer Thomas Newman has now been nominated 10 times, engendering comparisons to Susan Lucci among his friends. "It never gets tired, and it's every bit as thrilling," Newman said. Gabriel, however, noted that they needed to shake off their bad luck, and told of a woman in Paris who tried to get married for 20 years, to no avail. On the counsel of a friend, she threw herself a fake wedding, inviting all her friends and drafted a fake husband. "Within four months, she met her man and had a real marriage. And they are still together. So what we have to do is get fake Oscars on both of our mantelpieces and visualize (the win)." Gabriel also said he didn't know how he was going to celebrate the news, " but it will involve alcohol."

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Best original score nominee Alexandre Desplat was in his Paris studio working on a new project when he fielded his second nomination, for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (he was nominated for "The Queen" two years ago). "When you get a nomination it's like, 'OK, you've been lucky,' " Desplat said. "But when you get it twice, you think, 'Good, I've been putting so much effort in to bring this forward,' and that's also really cheering. Because I worked really hard on 'Benjamin Button.' " Desplat had only a few minutes before he hustled to meet star Brad Pitt and director David Fincher at the Paris premiere of "Button." "It's one of the most beautiful films I've ever had the opportunity to write the music for," he said in a ragged voice. "Because every shot of this film is like a painting. I can rave about every single person who worked on the film -- the cast, the costumes, the directing. I'm just so proud to be part of that." And then postpremiere, is celebrating on the agenda? "We'll try," he said.

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"Milk" producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen had very different ways of preparing for the Oscar nominations Thursday morning. Jinks: "I woke up wide awake at 4 a.m. and was showered and shaved." Cohen: "Dan is away ahead of me. I woke up three minutes before." The pair drew their second best picture nomination, after "American Beauty" took the statue in 1999. But Jinks noted that "Milk" has resonance this year in particular. "All these issues have come to the fore this season -- the passage of Proposition 8, the election of Obama." That, he said, gives the nom a special significance, especially for the people who worked on the passion project. "Nobody got rich making this movie," Jinks said. "Everybody did it for the right reasons."

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If some observers were surprised by the nomination of "The Reader" for best picture, they weren't alone. One of the film's producers, Donna Gigliotti, was similarly taken aback. "I was expecting nothing," she said. "There were so many great pictures out there this year." This will mark Gigliotti's attempt for a second Oscar; she has a statue for "Shakespeare in Love," which won best picture in 1998. "I have the Oscar on an end table in my living room. For 10 years my housekeeper comes in and dusts it and says, 'Oscar looks lonely. He needs a friend.' "

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"The Reader" cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated for an Oscar seven times before, but he doesn't necessarily want to be reminded of that. "You make me feel old!" he joked when congratulated for noms that go back to "The Shawshank Redemption" nearly 15 years ago. Deakins had just gotten back from a small holiday in London and was sleeping off some jet lag when his wife came in Thursday morning and told him the news. As for his chances of winning -- Deakins has not nabbed a statue yet -- he's making no bets. "You never know the way things are going to go for awards season, because you just never know how people are feeling this time of year," he said.



Producer Eric Fellner took note of the timing of the best picture nomination for "Frost/Nixon." "It's interesting in the week when you get the antithesis of Richard Nixon gets sworn into office that a film like this gets honored," he said. "It's interesting to remember how the office of the president can be in one generation lowered to be virtually valueless and in another, like now, be elevated to that of potential savior." He also said it was fascinating for him to watch the peaceful transfer of power and change in political direction in the U.S. this week and fully appreciated it for the first time. "You have a guy sitting there who's president and then somebody swears in another guy, and literally the power just moves," he said. "And then suddenly, bang, everything that this last man stood for is now irrelevant." Fellner also lauded the great team behind "Frost/Nixon" for driving its critical success, adding that it could help with commercial success as well. The film goes wide in the U.S. and opens in the U.K. on Friday. "It helps in terms of giving it a larger profile," he said about the best picture nomination. Fellner added that he regularly talks to David Frost and that he is "over the moon, thrilled with this" film.

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For Tia Lessin, the nomination for best documentary feature with Carl Deal for "Trouble the Water" is made even more special by this week's inauguration of President Barack Obama. Last week, they -- along with the subjects of the film, New Orleans residents Kim Rivers Roberts and Scott Roberts -- screened the film that focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at the King Center in Atlanta. But Lessin said "Trouble the Water" is more than just a film about Katrina. "It's about poverty in America," she said. "It's about people who were left behind by the government." Lessin said Thursday that Obama's election and inauguration was all about change and bringing true economic, social and racial justice to the U.S. "I think it's very much at the forefront right now," she said.

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Nominees usually don't like to compare their current honor with previous ones, but "The Reader" scribe David Hare, who was nominated in 2002 for "The Hours," couldn't help himself. "I have to say, this one is much more satisfying. With 'The Hours,' although it was about a difficult subject, we nevertheless had a tremendous push, and it was an easier proposition," Hare said. "This is much more difficult, and so the nomination feels like vindication for trying to do something ambitious in Hollywood." Hare, in fact, was so convinced of that difficulty he had tuned out the announcements and was in a bookstore near his home in London when his son called him with the news. "He said, 'Well, you're going to America again.' And my reaction was, 'Now why would I be doing that?' "

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Elliott Graham, the film editor on "Milk," who has been residing in Seattle of late, is impressed with the continued public buzz over the film. "I've been walking by and hearing people talking about it, and I never experienced anything like that before," Graham said. A first-time nominee, he was quite stoked over receiving news of his nomination in the film-editing category. "It feels amazing, and it feels all the more amazing -- if that's possible -- because it's part of this film."

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Danny Glicker, the Los Angeles-based costume designer on "Milk," a first-time Oscar nominee, said: "I'm so thrilled. It's really special, because it's one of the most important projects that I've ever been involved with and a project that I care so much about personally."

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"Bolt" co-director Byron Howard was on an afternoon tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona when his phone began vibrating. But because he was part of small guided group, he felt it would be rude to answer the call from the States, despite knowing that the news was he either had a nomination -- or not. Excruciating minutes later, after the tour, he called back and received the news: "Bolt" was nominated for a best animated feature. "My mind was blown." Howard, in the midst of a world tour promoting the movie, said he was now going to drink. "They've got this lemon beer that I've become quite fond of in the last few days. I'm going to have some of that before we go to London."

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Now living in Copenhagen, "Man on Wire" director James Marsh was surprised Thursday afternoon with a call from the BBC asking for comment for his Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature. "I didn't quite believe it," Marsh said. It wasn't until he got a call from his publicist in Los Angeles that he realized it was true. The film is about the high-wire walk that Philippe Petit took between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Marsh said that in reconstructing the event he was aiming to make a movie, not just a documentary. "I realized it should be an adventure story, a heist film, if you like," he said. What's not in it is any mention of Sept. 11. That's by design, Marsh said. He was looking to "reposition" the audience's view of the buildings without denying or denigrating what happened there. "Everyone who sees the film is very aware of the future, and you can respond to it on a personal level if you want," Marsh said.

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Composer James Newton Howard fielded an eighth nomination for his "Defiance" score, but had to be woken by his agent to receive the news. He had determinedly stayed up until 2:30 a.m. the night before to avoid staring at the clock. "Once you look at the clock you're doomed," he said. "It's the only time you're happy to hear from your agent at 5:30 a.m. It's become a great tradition over these years now." Yes, a tradition of watching the award go to someone else seven times in a row, a delayed gratification that Howard says he shares with other composers. (It took Elmer Bernstein nine noms and Randy Newman 16 to finally win one). "The older I get, the more superstitious I get," the 57-year-old Newton said. "I approach these things as just going to an amazing party with the woman I love and having a great night out. And one of these days I'll go to the party carrying a statue."

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When the Oscar news came out before dawn, nominee Irene Taylor Brodsky was already up nursing her 4-week-old son. Taylor Brodsky, the director of the documentary short subject "The Final Inch" -- about the fight to eradicate polio in rural India -- found out about her nom by checking Oscar.com. The Emmy and Sundance winner then got a phone call from HBO's Sheila Nevins. The "Final Inch" tracks the resurgence of the deadly disease, which had been eradicated in the U.S. She said that like many Americans, she didn't know much about polio when called to do the documentary by philanthropist Dr. Lawrence Brilliant. She said she hopes the nomination for "Final Inch" draws help for the people who are still suffering from the disease.

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Mark Osborne, co-director with John Stevenson on "Kung Fu Panda," called their nomination in the best animated feature category "an amazing validation for the entire crew."

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Best supporting actor nominee Michael Shannon was still at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City for his film "The Missing Person" when his publicist called early to tell him about his first Oscar nomination, for "Revolutionary Road." Since he had been up at a midnight screening until 3 a.m., the call was a struggle to pick up. "I was kind of a bad boy, so when the phone starting vibrating at 6:30 in the morning I was a little shell-shocked," Shannon said. "But I'm starting to catch up and let it sink in." "With this part I was really able to get to do all the things that made me want to be an actor in the first place," Shannon said of the mentally disturbed truth-teller who shatters a young couple's festering denial. "It was a character that just really resonated with me." But has he been employing that kind of brutal honesty in his real life? "I'm pretty reluctant to do that," he says after a laugh. "I'm kind of a quiet, shy person by nature. I guess I get it all out of my system in my work."

Compiled by Carl DiOrio, Jay A. Fernandez, Gregg Kilday, Borys Kit and Steven Zeitchik in Los Angeles and Paul J. Gough and Georg Szalai in New York
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