ALTERNATIVE PRESS CRITICS PICK WALL-E

It hardly seems that it would be a likely choice for the film critics who write for the alternative press, but Disney/Pixar's WALL-E has been named best film of 2009 in the ninth annual Village Voice-LA Weekly poll of 116 mostly alt-press critics. Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Flight of the Red Balloon came in second, just ahead of Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, whose star, Sally Hawkins, received the best actress award. Sean Penn was voted best actor for Milk, which placed seventh in the voting. Somewhat surprisingly, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, which already boasts several best-picture awards, finished in 20th place, three positions below The Dark Knight, while Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino was left sputtering in 29th place. "Batman didn't prevail, and Clint failed to save the day, but then John McCain didn't win the election," wrote the Village Voice's J. Hoberman in announcing the winners. "It was WALL-E that touched a chord and fit the national mood. ... The real miracle of WALL-E was that the standard Disney tropes -- adorable critters, rampant sentimentality, asexual eroticism -- were burnt to a crisp and then redeployed as beacons of hope in an almost unbearably bleak vision of a dead world."

STUDIOS' OVERSEAS REVENUE SOARS

Each of the six major studios grossed more than $1 billion in overseas box-office revenue in 2009, with total grosses estimated at a record $9.9 billion, compared with $9.5 billion a year ago, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Friday). Paramount Pictures International led with an estimated $2.04 billion, up a whopping 28 percent from the previous year, due largely to the success of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

VALKYRIE PROP SETS OFF LEGAL DISPUTE

A San Francisco art collector who owns the original globe of the world that Hitler used during World War II, is threatening to sue Tom Cruise and United Artists for using a replica of the globe in Valkyrie. Robert Pritikin, an advertising executive, said that he had the likeness of the globe copyrighted -- ostensibly to prevent it from being used by neo-Nazi groups, according to the New York Post. "Tom Cruise's use of the globe's likeness without our client's permission was likely just an oversight. We're confident this will all be quickly resolved out of court," Pritikin investigator Dan Hanks told the Post. He says he will propose that Cruise buy Pritikin's Hitler artifacts, including the globe, and donate them to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which focuses on studying the Holocaust. (There is no mention of Hitler's policies toward the Jews in Valkyrie.)

FRENCH ACTRESS HUPPERT TO HEAD CANNES JURY

Isabelle Huppert has been named to serve as jury president at the 62nd Festival du Cannes, which opens May 13 and runs through May 24. Huppert, who won the best actress award at the festival for The Piano Teacher in 2001 and Violette Noziere in 1978, said that she was "very glad and very proud" to have been selected. In a statement, she added, "I've had a long relationship with Cannes and this next meeting will definitely seal my love for the Festival and thus for global cinema."