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Gold Derby nuggets: Clooney & Streep dazzle at NYFCC awards | 'Princess and Frog' score croaks at Oscars

January 12, 2010 |  3:06 pm

Fantastic-mr-fox-poster • Reporting from the New York Film Critics Circle award gala Monday, Melena Ryzik writes, "It’s early yet, of course, but it seems as if George Clooney is the 'Avatar' of thank-yous. It’s hard to argue with his significant appeal, especially when paired with his seemingly natural humility." By way of example she cites his saucy acceptance speech for best actor for "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Up in the Air." "Mr. Clooney said: 'I’m also very aware of the fact that it took me two films to win this award. So I’d like to thank Jeremy Renner, the star of 'The Hurt Locker,' for only doing one film this year.'" NEW YORK TIMES

• And Jeff Wells posted "Meryl Streep's remarks last night after receiving her New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Actress in 'Julie & Julia.' " As Jeff reports, "The word somehow hadn't gotten out that the p.a. system wasn't the greatest, on top of which nobody except Streep and critic Thelma Adams and George Clooney put much effort into the old exceptional-enunciation, speaking-from-the-diaphragm thing." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• For Brook Barnes, "this year, unexpectedly, animation is becoming a hotly contested race. The biggest reason is 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' Wes Anderson’s quirky adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel. The film, from 20th Century Fox and the producer Scott Rudin, is soaking up a surprising amount of awards attention. 'Up,' Pixar’s 3-D flying-house adventure, dominated the multiplexes last May and seemed to have the animation Oscar sewn up as recently as a few weeks ago. And it’s still the front-runner." However, "In a mid-December surprise, both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' the best animated movie of 2009. Similar awards from five other critics’ groups followed." NEW YORK TIMES

Sasha Stone takes a look at the state of the race and finds, "the 82nd Oscars telecast is brewing as the perfect storm to attract its biggest audience in years. The combination of Adam Shankman’s TV-popularity, the two co-hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, and most importantly, the popularity of the films involved all seem designed to bring those eyeballs to TV sets all over the country, all over the world. The Best Picture ten seemed designed to broaden the Academy’s reach to include the general public’s opinion in their choices, something they had abandoned in previous years, going simply for quality and critical acclaim." And, as Sasha says, "Expanding to ten allows them to choose both the critically acclaimed, and the popular -- it just so happens that a lot of the popular films  this year have also been critically acclaimed.  So maybe it’s a win-win. Either way, the glass bubble has been shattered." AWARDS DAILY

The Princess and the Frog Poster • As Steve Pond reports, "The Academy's music branch strikes again. Although Randy Newman's score to Disney's animated film 'The Princess and the Frog' was originally deemed to be eligible in the original score category at the Oscars, the Music Branch Executive Committee met on Monday and disqualified Newman's music from consideration." As Steve explains, "The score, the committee determined, runs afoul of an AMPAS rule disallowing 'scores diluted by the use of tracked themes or other preexisting music, diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs, or assembled from the music of more than one composer.' Newman's songs are arguably the dominant musical element in 'The Princess and the Frog.' Four of those songs remain eligible in the Oscar original-song category. THE WRAP

Guy Lodge casts a light on the BAFTA rising star nominees: Jesse Eisenberg, Nicholas Hoult, Carey Mulligan, Tahar Rahim and Kristen Stewart. Says Guy, "Given that it’s a publicly voted award, Stewart is the one to beat, too -- I highly doubt the fanbases of the other four can compete with the texting 'Twilight' hordes, unless 'A Single Man' star Nicholas Hoult’s popularity from TV’s 'Skins' carries him over." IN CONTENTION

Lou Lumenick is delighted to report that "The African Queen" is finally coming to DVD and Blu-ray on March 23. "The restoration of John Huston's classic with (Oscar champ) Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn -- which has appeared for years in a murky transfer released by the old CBS/Fox label on VHS -- was done with 4K technology from the original Technicolor negatives using notes from legendary cinematographer Jack Cariff, who died last year. It will be available on both formats as a single-disc release with a new documentary, or a commemorative limited-edition with lots of bells and whistles, including a radio adaptation, photo postcards and a reproduction of Hepburn's out-of-print memoir 'The Making of The African Queen, or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.''' NEW YORK POST

Top photo: "Fantastic Mr. Fox" poster. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: "The Princess and the Frog" poster. Credit: Disney.

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