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Gold Derby nuggets: Inside the Governors Awards | Best actor race heats up | 'Up in the Air' literally

November 16, 2009 |  2:25 pm

Governors Awards • The inaugural edition of the Governors Awards took place Saturday night in a ballroom not far from the Kodak Theatre where the academy holds the Oscars every year. Showcasing the honorary awards in a separate ceremony allowed the recipients -- absentee Thalberg winner John Calley and honorary Oscar winners Roger Corman, Lauren Bacall and Gordon Willis (at right) -- to be feted in style rather than be relegated to just a few minutes on the Oscarcast.

And reports Pete Hammond, "there was something truly special and collegial about an evening where presentations were given room to breathe, and no one's acceptance was cut off by the orchestra or a commercial break. It recalled the days when going to the Academy Awards looked like it was actually fun." Among Pete's array of anecdotes from the evening: "When two-time best-actor winner Tom Hanks spotted potential 'Precious' best-actress nominee Gabourey Sidibe chatting near the Lionsgate table, he quickly darted over to offer advice for her to heed during the next four months of awards events. 'Just enjoy the ride, pretend it's like a homecoming dance every night, and get some comfortable shoes,' he said, before adding that he had seen her acclaimed hit just after the Toronto Festival in September and thought she was wonderful in it. Sidibe replied that the compliment was barely registering because she couldn't believe she was actually there talking to Hanks in the first place." NOTES ON A SEASON

Steve Pond describes the event as, "a collegial, informal evening consciously patterned after early, pre-television Oscar shows, when the event took place over dinner and the onstage speeches were punctuated with toasts and table-hopping." As he reports, "In front of a crowd that included Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges, Alec Baldwin, Abbie Cornish, Vera Farmiga, Marisa Tomei, Dana Delany, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Academy president Tom Sherak kicked off the evening by standing at his table and raising a toast -- a move that confused some people, who naturally looked to the two onstage podiums but couldn’t see Sherak, who was hidden from some by guests at adjacent tables who were still taking their seats." However Steve says the evening eventually got back on track and was a success in the end. THE ODDS

• Also writing about the Governors Awards, Michael Cieply observes that, "something happened at the semiprivate dinner -- there was no television coverage, and a relatively modest press presence that almost never happens on the air: Genuine things were said." For Michael, "Possibly the most poignant of those was pronounced on a giant video screen by Mr. Calley, a storied executive and producer who could not attend to pick up his own Irving G. Thalberg award because of illness. 'You’re unhappy for a long period of time,' Mr. Calley said, in speaking of the executive’s life. 'And you don’t experience joy. At the end, you experience relief, if you’re lucky.'" And, as Michael notes, "In an impressive display of industry might, Mr. Calley’s award was picked up by Steven Spielberg, a past Thalberg recipient, who was flanked by six others: Walter Mirisch, George Lucas, Saul Zaentz, Warren Beatty, Norman Jewison and Dino DeLaurentiis." NEW YORK TIMES

• The academy has a comprehensive section on their website devoted to the Governors Awards. Besides detailed biographies of the four honorees, a slide show of photos and a history of both the Thalberg and honorary Oscar, there are 10 must-see film clips from the presentation. Among the highlights -- Angelica Huston's heartfelt tribute to Lauren Bacall and Quentin Tarantino's valentine to Roger Corman. AMPAS

• With her usual sassy style, Anne Thompson recounts the 10 things she learned at the ball. Leading off the list -- while the event will not be televised, it did draw would-be Oscar contenders. One of those bold-faced names Anne chatted to was "Inglourious Basterds" supporting player Christoph Waltz "who is now a working Hollywood actor. Of his good fortune, the multilingual German, who is currently shooting 'The Green Hornet' with director Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen, said, 'It’s unbelievable!'" Another was "Invictus" star Morgan Freeman who reassured Anne -- who had "told him much I admired the 'Invictus' script, adapted from John Carlin’s book by Anthony Peckham" -- 'I guarantee you, we did not mess it up.'” THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Crazy Heart Poster • In response to this Gold Derby item on the best actor race, Jeff Wells weighs in with his thoughts. Says Jeff -- after detailing those names on his wish list and Hollywood's A-list -- "you're left with the following five contenders: Colin Firth in 'A Single Man,' Jeremy Renner in 'The Hurt Locker,' Michael Stuhlbarg in 'A Serious Man,' Nicolas Cage in 'Bad Lieutenant' and Jeff Bridges in 'Crazy Heart.'" HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Scott Feinberg delivers his usual detailed analysis when answering the question - "Has Jeff Bridges' Oscar moment finally arrived?" Scott looks at his four past nominations, his long Hollywood history, his extensive list of co-stars, his overdue status, and his 'winning' role as a loser. As Scott says, "Bridges, as always, is nothing short of extraordinary and looks like a sure-fire bet for a best actor nomination, and maybe even the win." AND THE WINNER IS

Sasha Stone takes an in-depth look at the supporting actor race. She says it, "feels open enough right now -- it might come down to Stanley Tucci vs. Stanley Tucci vs. Christian McKay vs. Christopher Plummer vs. Christoph Waltz vs. Alfred Molina." For Sasha, "It is always a depressing truth every year to find almost triple the amount of actors to actresses in the Oscar race, both categories." AWARDS DAILY

Up in the Air posterGreg Ellwood reports on Paramount taking to the skies to promote "Up in the Air" which stars best actor contender George Clooney: "Along with about 50 other journalists, Awards Campaign trekked on a private American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles with star and likely Best Supporting Actress nominee Anna Kendrick and Sad Brad Smith, a new music artist whose song 'Help Yourself' plays during the closing credits." As Greg says, "It's always an odd experience watching a movie you've already seen on the big screen on an airplane projection, but two months after my initial viewing I was struck by a number of things about 'Air' that had escaped me. The moments that feature the real-life unemployed seem more relevant by the day, Kendrick's in the film a lot more than I remember and Clooney really does give one of the finest performances of his career. Moreover, Jason Reitman's direction is even more impressive the second time around. Unlike 'Juno' or 'Thank You For Smoking,' it seems as though Reitman's visual aesthetic has grown to match his established talent with directing his actors." HIT FIX

• In anticipation of the flood of screeners jamming voters mailboxes in the weeks ahead, some savvy campaigners get a head start on the race. One of those is Oscilloscope which sent DVDs of "The Messenger" to the full academy membership last Friday. The picture stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson as soldiers charged with informing families of military personnel that their loved one has died in Iraq or Afghanistan. GOLD DERBY

Michelle Kung chats with Pedro Almodovar about the release stateside of "Broken Embraces" and his ongoing working relationship with the film's star Penelope Cruz. Says Pedro, "With her, my relationship is so good, even if the character is older, like in 'Broken Embraces,' I put her in the film. I used to repeat with many of the actors and actresses I've worked with, because it's a like an investment. If you find someone that you understand very well and they get you, it saves time and it also gives you more security. I'm willing to push her as far as possible. I know her versatility, and am interested by the idea of working with her in 10 years when she's 45 and it's an entirely different character." WALL STREET JOURNAL

Photos, from top: Roger Corman, Lauren Bacall and Gordon Willis (Getty Images); "Crazy Heart" poster (Fox Searchlight); "Up in the Air" poster (Paramount)

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