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Category: best actress

Experts predict Tony Award nominations

April 29, 2010 |  9:57 am

There's a lot of drama surrounding the Tony Award nominations, which will be unveiled Tuesday. Take, for example, the battle over best musical. The pundits cited below are split over eight contenders to take those four category slots. "American Idiot" is the favorite to win, but an upset is possible. The biggest drama of all is over best drama — there's no clear front-runner.

We've recruited predix from a team of savvy prognosticators: Melissa Bernardo (Entertainment Weekly), Martin Denton (NYTheatre), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Andy Humm (Gay City News, Gay USA), Kenneth Jones (Playbill.com), Brian Lipton (Theater Mania), Patrick Pacheco (L.A. Times, NY1), Paul Sheehan (TheEnvelope.com), David Sheward (Back Stage), Matt Windman (amNY) and me.

American Idiot Broadway Tonys Tony Awards nominations news 2

BEST PLAY
"A Behanding in Spokane" — Geier, Humm
"Enron" — Bernardo, Denton, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward
"In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play" — Humm, Windman
"Next Fall" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Race" — Denton, Jones, O'Neil, Sheward
"Red" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Time Stands Still" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, Pacheco, Sheehan, Windman

BEST MUSICAL
"The Addams Family" — Jones, Sheward
"American Idiot" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Come Fly Away" — Bernardo, Geier, Windman
"Everyday Rapture" — Lipton, Pacheco
"Fela!" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Memphis" — Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Million Dollar Quartet" — Bernardo, Denton, Humm, Sheehan
"Sondheim on Sondheim" — O'Neil, Humm

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
"A View from the Bridge" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Collected Stories" -- Humm
"Fences" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Hamlet" — Bernardo, Humm
"Lend Me a Tenor" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"The Royal Family" — Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
"A Little Night Music" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Finian’s Rainbow" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"La Cage Aux Folles" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier,Humm,  Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
"Ragtime" — Bernardo, Humm
"Promises, Promises" — Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
John Gallagher Jr., "American Idiot" — Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, O'Neil, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Kelsey Grammer, "La Cage aux Folles" — Denton, Jones
Sean Hayes, "Promises, Promises" — Bernardo, Geier, Lipton, Pacheco, Sheehan, Windman
Douglas Hodge, "La Cage Aux Folles" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Chad Kimball, "Memphis" — Bernardo, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Nathan Lane, "The Addams Family" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheward
Sahr Nguajah, "Fela!" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Kate Baldwin, "Finian’s Rainbow" — Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Kristin Chenoweth, "Promises, Promises" — Bernardo, Humm, O'Neil
Montego Glover, "Memphis" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Bebe Neuwirth, "The Addams Family" — Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheward, Windman
Christine Noll, "Ragtime" -- Bernardo, Denton
Sherie Rene Scott, "Everyday Rapture" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman
Catherine Zeta-Jones, "A Little Night Music" — Bernardo, Denton, Geier, Humm, Jones, Lipton, O'Neil, Pacheco, Sheehan, Sheward, Windman

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'The Hurt Locker' wins six Oscars, including history maker for director Kathryn Bigelow

March 7, 2010 |  9:38 pm

Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker Oscars 82nd Annual Academy Awards The 82nd Academy Awards followed the script set down by pundits, as the front-runners for all of the major Oscars won Sunday night. "The Hurt Locker" led with six Oscars, including best picture and best director for Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to win this award. The Iraq war drama also picked up prizes for original screenplay (Mark Boal), editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

"Avatar" went into the night tied with "The Hurt Locker" with a leading nine nominations but had to settle for three Oscars for art direction, cinematography and visual effects (and a $2.4-billion and counting box-office take). See a complete list of all Oscar winners here.

Lead actor went to Jeff Bridges, a four-time also-ran at the Oscars, who finally won for his performance as a down-and-out country singer in "Crazy Heart." The theme song for that film, "The Weary Kind," won best original song for Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.

First-time nominee Sandra Bullock won lead actress for best picture nominee "The Blind Side," edging out, among others, Meryl Streep, who was contending for a record 13th time in this category. The lead acting nominees were introduced by performers with whom they have a connection before last year's winners, Sean Penn ("Milk") and Kate Winslet ("The Reader"), bestowed the Oscars. Last year, each of the four acting categories was handled by five past winners who each spoke about one of the nominees.

It was no surprise that the Academy Awards for supporting actor and actress went to Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique ("Precious"). The pair had picked up all of the precursor awards going into the Oscars. Waltz's win represented the only Oscar for that best picture nominee, which had eight nominations in total while "Precious" -- which had six nominations, including a best picture bid -- also won adapted screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher

The animated feature race was won by best picture nominee "Up," which edged out Gotham and L.A. critics choice "Fantastic Mr. Fox" among others. "Up" became the fifth Pixar picture -- after "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille" and "Wall-E" -- to win this category since it was introduced in 2001. "Up" also won best score.

Of the 10 best picture nominees, four were completely shut out -- "District 9" (with four noms), "An Education" (three noms), "A Serious Man" (two nominations) and "Up in the Air" (six). 

"El Secreto de Sus Ojos" became the second feature from Argentina to win best foreign-language film, and "The Cove" won the documentary feature Oscar. For her costume design for "The Young Victoria," Sandy Powell took home her third Oscar, following wins for "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Aviator." "Star Trek" won for makeup.

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Hurt Locker' accuracy questioned | Sandra Bullock vs. Meryl Streep

February 24, 2010 |  5:45 pm

The Hurt Locker Oscars • After acknowledging he is not a film critic, Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), writes in a guest column for Newsweek: "As a voice of the new veterans' movement, and of thousands of IAVA members across the country, I have a responsibility to serve as pop-culture watchdog, and to help the American public understand what accurately depicts the military's experience in Iraq and what doesn't. Especially because with less than 1 percent of American citizens now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, films are one of the few ways to connect the other 99 percent of Americans to the reality of modern combat." He then says, "'The Hurt Locker' tries to articulate that experience, but those of us who have served in the military couldn't help but be distracted by a litany of inaccuracies that reveal not only a lack of research, but ultimately respect for the American military" and catalogs these errors. Rieckhoff concludes, "Americans want to think they know what the ground truth is in Iraq, but until Hollywood and the media give them the right information, our experience will continue to be lost in translation. So someone, do us a favor and tell our story properly. Or maybe Hollywood will help one of us tell it ourselves." NEWSWEEK

Christopher Torchia talks to the members of a bomb disposal squad in Afghanistan and discovers "finding and destroying IEDs is, of course, slower and more nuanced than the high-octane version portrayed in the movie thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, which could make a run for the Oscars." While the soldiers like "The Hurt Locker" well enough as a movie, they questioned its accuracy. Platoon leader Sgt. 1st Class Natividad Ruiz said, "We don't dress up in that big old suit," referring to the heavy bomb gear worn in the movie. Staff. Sgt. Joshua Rickerts "said his job was about teamwork, and that the movie's portrayal of 'an EOD guy gone rogue' was inaccurate, though he acknowledged its entertainment value." And Senior Airman Kyle Brown said, "Some of the things he does in the movie -- quite out there. I wouldn't say we were that undisciplined. It makes us look like rebels in the military." AP

Pete Hammond surveys the Oscars race and observes, "Most see this as 'The Hurt Locker' versus 'Avatar,' or David versus Goliath as it has been called so many times. Now in the final stretch, with awards galore and the wind behind its back, 'The Hurt Locker,' it seems, has turned into Goliath and 'Avatar' is becoming David. Weird. The real question is, what 'message' do academy voters want to send? Do they want to embrace the future, the global popularity and the success of 'Avatar'? Or the independent spirit and pure visceral film experience of 'Hurt Locker'? Or will those 'Basterds' creep in?" NOTES ON A SEASON

Sandra Bullock Meryl Streep OscarsAnne Thompson writes, "At this stage of the Oscar race, Jeff Bridges ('Crazy Heart') has taken the momentum away from  former front-runner George Clooney ('Up in the Air') for Best Actor, but some in Hollywood sense growing support for newcomer Jeremy Renner ('The Hurt Locker'). Meanwhile, rookie Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock ('The Blind Side') and 16-time nominee, two-time winner Meryl Streep are in a tight race for Best Actress. In this dueling blog, Moviefone Oscarologist Jack Mathews and I consider the odds of a Renner upset and another Streep defeat." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Scott Feinberg crunches the numbers for the 81 best actress races to date at the Oscars and discovers that the statistics favor a win by Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side"). Among the factoids Scott uncovers: "Since the first SAG Awards in 1994, only 4 women have won the Golden Globe for best actress (either drama or comedy/musical) but not the SAG Award for best actress and still gone on to win the best actress Oscar. This bodes well for Bullock, but not for Streep." AND THE WINNER IS

•The academy is celebrating the Oscars with a week-long series of screenings and symposia at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. It is not surprising that the screenings of the nominated shorts -- at a bargain $5 for the public and just $3 for members -- are selling out while the free sessions on foreign film and makeup and hair are fully booked. AMPAS

Melena Ryzik has fun with the following news: "In a move that absolutely no one saw coming whatsoever, 'Avatar' swept the International 3D Society’s inaugural awards. It got both the month-old group’s top prize and a People’s Choice award for best live-action film over worthy competitors like 'G-Force' and 'Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.' Somewhere, Nick Jonas is crying. Giovanni Ribisi, who played a baddie but not the baddest of the bunch in 'Avatar,' accepted the awards on its behalf. 'Up' won best 3-D animated film. Nope, not predictable at all." THE CARPETBAGGER

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Top photo: Scene from "The Hurt Locker." Credit: Summit

Bottom photos: Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side" (Warners) and Meryl Streep in "Julie & Julia" (Columbia).

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' & 'Hurt Locker' win with guilds | Barbara Walters ends Oscars specials | Emmy champ David Canary leaving 'AMC'

February 15, 2010 |  4:29 pm

The Hurt Locker poster • The Art Directors Guild went with the only Oscar nominees contending in the categories of fantasy film -- "Avatar" -- and period picture -- "Sherlock Holmes" -- at its 14th annual kudosfest Saturday. No contemporary films -- including category winner  "The Hurt Locker" -- are in the running at the Oscars, where "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," "Nine" and "The Young Victoria" round out the field. Last year "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" won with both groups, while in 2007 "Sweeney Todd" won the Oscar and "There Will Be Blood" took the ADG period prize. ADG

• "The Hurt Locker" edged two of its editing Oscar rivals -- "Avatar" and "District 9" -- as well as "Star Trek" and "Up in the Air" to win the drama category at the 60th annual American Cinema Editors awards on Sunday. The Oscar editing race also includes the cutters for "Inglourious Basterds" and "Precious." Since 1990, the film that came up with the ACE went on to win best picture 13 times. In three of the five years when the ACE barometer was wrong, the editing winner was at least a contender for best picture. The exceptions -- in 2007, when neither "The Bourne Ultimatum" nor "Sweeney Todd" made the final five at the Oscars, and 1999, when the same fate befell "The Matrix" and "Being John Malkovich." The other ACE winners -- "The Hangover" (comedy), "Up" (animated) and "The Cove" (documentary). ACE

Brent Lang reports from Monday's Oscars nominees luncheon: "Directors, actors, and actresses from several of the top films in contention for Academy Awards this year took time out from what was being billed as an informal get together (albeit it one with a red carpet and security worthy of a State of the Union address) to answer questions from a gaggle of reporters about the Oscar ride, getting into character and, of course, what they planned to wear on the big night." Among the tidbits he heard: "Christoph Waltz admits his language skills help with seduction. Vera Farmiga urges flyers not to get behind her baby carriage during check-in. Woody Harrelson isn't clearing off space on his trophy shelf. Carey Mulligan has been stalking Kathryn Bigelow and bumping asses with Quentin Tarantino." THE WRAP

Barbara-walters-mickey-rourke • News doyenne Barbara Walters announced on "The View" Monday morning that her upcoming Oscar night gabfest will be the last after a 29-year run. Her final guests will include Oscar front-runners Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and Mo'Nique ("Precious"). As per the press release, "Walters launched her Oscar night special in 1981 with interviews from Hollywood superstar Brooke Shields and her mother, Teri, country singer Loretta Lynn, 'Dallas' actress Linda Gray, music icon Ringo Starr and model/actress Barbara Bach." The Oscar connection that year was that Sissy Spacek would win the lead actress Academy Award for playing Lynn in "Coal Miner's Daughter." Today Walters said, “This special has been a labor of love for 29 years. I will always remember when Hugh Jackman gave me a private lap dance, or sitting down with the legendary Bette Davis, or being taught to tango by Al Pacino. It’s those priceless moments that have made this special the Oscar tradition that it has become, but I truly feel enough is enough.”

Michael Cieply sat down with rookie producers for the Oscars Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman. "A film producer by trade -- his 'Corlaine' was nominated this year as best animated feature -- Mr. Mechanic has become the Oscar show’s time cop. The 24 awards, he said, will be allotted four and a half minutes each, for a total of one hour and 48 minutes, if all the speeches are tight. The show’s 13 'acts' -- the singing, dancing and jokes -- get 31 minutes in all. 'How do we get rid of things nobody notices?' is Mr. Shankman’s description of Mr. Mechanic’s favorite question about the show. One such cut: What the two of them describe as introductions of introductions, something Mr. Mechanic found, in an intensive review of the last 13 shows, can add 15 minutes to a broadcast." NEW YORK TIMES

Scott Feinberg has two in-depth interviews with Oscar lead actor contenders Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and Colin Firth ("A Single Man"). Scott chatted with both of them in the green room of the Lobero Theatre just before their respective tributes from the Santa Barbara filmfest. AND THE WINNER IS

David Canary Emmy Awards • Five-time Emmy champ David Canary is leaving "All My Children" after 27 years. Playing twins Adam and Stuart Chandler netted the actor 11 nominations. But now that the ABC soap has shifted from shooting in Gotham to the L.A., Canary is flying the coop. As Allison Walman writes, " Losing Canary is a major blow. He is not the kind of actor who can be replaced with another star. That doesn't mean the soap won't try, but the scuttlebutt is that when David stops shooting in March, Adam will leave Pine Valley alive. As such, the door will be left open in case Canary changes his mind or chooses to return for a visit ... maybe even an extended visit that would be a story arc?" TV SQUAD

Steve Pond reports that double Oscar nominee Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") has her next job lined up -- "directing the pilot for 'The Miraculous Year,' a potential HBO series created, written and executive produced by John Logan. The series is reportedly a character-driven, contemporary look at the arenas of art and theater -- or, as HBO describes it, 'an examination of a New York family as seen through the lens of a charismatic, self-destructive Broadway composer.'" And, Pond says, "After shooting the pilot, Bigelow is expected to re-team with 'Hurt Locker' screenwriter Mark Boal on 'Triple Frontier,' which is set in a South American hotbed of drugs and crime near the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. THE ODDS

Top photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

Middle photo: Barbara Walters and Mickey Rourke on the 2009 Oscar night special. Credit: ABC

Bottom photo: David Canary at the 28th annual Daytime Emmy Awards. Credit: NBC

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Mo'Nique to be among no-shows at Oscars nominees luncheon

February 12, 2010 |  1:27 pm

Oscar_statues_061908Oscars nominees will gather together for the annual academy luncheon Monday and 14 of the 20 acting nominees will be among the more than 120 attendees. Just how important is this breaking of bread while the Oscars ballots are still being cast?

Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") has arranged her travel schedule to be at the festivities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The New York-based actress skipped the luncheon last year when she was a nominee for "Doubt" and three years ago when she contended for "The Devil Wears Prada" -- she lost both those races. Indeed, all of the best actress contenders but Helen Mirren ("The Last Station") -- who won this award three years ago for "The Queen" -- will be there as will all five of the best actor nominees.

However, supporting actress frontrunner Mo'Nique ("Precious") has sent in her regrets. With her talk show based in Atlanta, Mo'Nique has had to pick and choose which West Coast events to attend. Also MIA will be last year's supporting actress Oscar winner Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona"), who contends again in this category for "Nine."

Just two of the five supporting actor nominees will be there -- Woody Harrelson ("The Last Messenger") and Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds"). Missing will be Matt Damon ("Invictus"), Christopher Plummer ("The Last Station") and Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones").

All five directing nominees -- Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), James Cameron ("Avatar"), Lee Daniels ("Precious"), Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Basterds") -- are scheduled to attend, as are many of the Academy Award nominees in the other 19 races.

Look for the historic group photo here Monday afternoon.

Photo: Academy Award statuettes Credit: AMPAS

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Gold Derby nuggets: Grammys & Super Bowl boost record sales | Oscars best picture race staying at 10

February 10, 2010 |  5:33 pm

Pink Grammy AwardsTodd Marten reports, "a little TV exposure continues to go a long way. Country trio Lady Antebellum tops the chart for the second straight week, leading in a week that saw big increases for acts that appeared on the Jan. 31 Grammy Awards. Artists such as Pink, Green Day, Taylor Swift and the Dave Matthews Band all saw large sales jumps, and the Who's appearance on Sunday night's Super Bowl seems to already be paying dividends." In particular, "the biggest beneficiary of the Grammys, in terms of a sales increase, was pop star Pink. Her 'Funhouse' (LaFace) was up 235% over the prior week, selling a total of 31,000 copies. To date, it's sold 1.5 million, while the cut she performed on the Grammys in all its acrobatic glory, 'Glitter in the Air,' sold 114,000 downloads this week, which is the biggest sales week for the track. It sold about 9,000 last week, and 1.5 million to date." POP & HISS

Andrew Gans reports Katori Hall's 'The Mountaintop,' which received a Olivier best play nomination on Tuesday, "will arrive on Broadway in fall 2010. Jean Doumanian Productions in partnership with Sonia Friedman Productions will produce the acclaimed play, which will be directed by Kenny Leon ('Fences,' 'A Raisin in the Sun'). Casting will be announced at a later date." Set on April 3, 1968, 'The Mountaintop,' according to press notes, "is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., as he retires to Room 306 in the now famous Lorraine Motel in Memphis, after delivering his legendary ‘From the mountaintop’ speech to a massive church congregation. When room-service is delivered by a young woman, whose identity we puzzle over, King is forced to confront his past, as well as his legacy to his people." PLAYBILL

Sasha Stone has penned a must-read analysis of the state of the Oscars best picture race. Sasha says, "there are still four movies with the right stuff to win: 'The Hurt Locker' sitting pretty with a PGA and a DGA win ('Saving Private Ryan' did not win with those two under its belt). 'Inglourious Basterds' has the actors vote with the SAG. 'Up in the Air' which has more acting nominations than any other film in the race, and 'Precious' which landed the coveted editing nomination. My work thus far, which might amount to nothing more than a wild guess that turns out to be wrong, tells me that only one of these four films can win." AWARDS DAILY

Mark Lisanti makes merry with the preferential ballot for best picture at the Oscars. Among the special conditions he has dreamed up: "If 'The Hurt Locker' is in the number one slot, it may be placed in either the 'Hey, Did You Know This Was Directed By A Woman? Crazy!' pile, or the 'Hey, Have You Heard That The Director, A Lady, Used To Be Married To Jimbo Cameron?' pile." MOVIELINE

Melena Ryzik notes, "now that there are two fewer late night show outposts, the looser daytime shows are getting more play. But actors appearing on those shows run the risk of indulging in rampant silliness. See: Jeremy Renner -- the bad boy star of 'The Hurt Locker' --  sing a self-written soap opera-style ballad on 'The View' and James Cameron speaking in Na’vi on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' (O.K., Mr. Cameron would probably speak in Na’vi wherever he went. Even 'Star Trek' nerds don’t parrot Klingon this much.) But who knew that the demise of the Conan O’Brien 'Tonight Show' would have ripple effects into statuette land? Some people, probably. It’s called synergy, folks!" THE CARPETBAGGER

• However, says Anne Thompson, "I’m not sure that putting James Cameron on 'Oprah' is the best way to win the hearts and minds of Academy voters. The movie couldn’t be a bigger hit. The trick is to convince people that 'Avatar' isn’t just a great technological achievement but a movie to be taken seriously. That’s why I wonder: if Academy members vote for 'The Hurt Locker' for best picture wouldn’t they consider giving Cameron best director? Who else could have accomplished what he did on 'Avatar'? It’s a director’s vision, a director’s achievement." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air UpSteve Pond reports we better get used to this expanded playing field at the Oscars after an interview with academy president Tom Sherak who "said that the Academy was happy with the results of the expanded field … for now. 'I don’t know if it’s a success yet,' he said. 'But so far, yes, we’re happy. I don’t think there’s any question about that. So far. And I expect we’ll do it for another year.' He laughed. 'Some people have said, ‘Well, they got lucky.' I love that comment. In fact, the voters gave us everything we were hoping for when we made the change, except a foreign film or a documentary.' On that count, Sherak says he’s determined to find a way to get those films into the Best Picture race, and to increase their visibility. 'There are things in the works to address that,'he said. 'I don’t know how much I can achieve, but I’m going to keep working on it.'" THE ODDS

• To find out whether the Gold Derby awards are expanding as well, drop into the chat room Thursday night (Feb. 11) at 8 p.m. EST for the announcement of the nominations. All forum members can vote for the best of 2009 through midnight EST on Feb. 28. Winners will be announced the night before the Oscars on Saturday, March 6 at 8 p.m. EST.

Dave Karger turns his attention to the Spirit Awards. After noting that he expects "Crazy Heart" and "Precious" to dominate the March 5 ceremony,  Dave makes mention of three underdog contenders: male lead Adam Scott ("The Vicious Kind"), female lead Gwyneth Paltrow ("Two Lovers") and first feature "A Single Man." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe must be happy that "Up in the Air" is not contending at the Spirit Awards; after all, her first encounter with that film's leading man George Clooney left her all wet. As she explains, "It's raining at the Golden Globes, that's where I met him (Clooney). So everyone's got umbrellas and George is standing too close to me and his umbrella is getting me wet because it's underneath my umbrella. I'm finished taking my press photos and I'm completely wet and it's all because of George Clooney." IMDB

Top photo: Pink at the Grammys. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Academy Award statuettes. Credit: AMPAS

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars to get instant engraving | A salute to Sandra Bullock | Time up for '24'?

Oscar experts agree: Jeff Bridges will win best actor

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars to get instant engraving | A salute to Sandra Bullock | Time up for '24'?

February 9, 2010 |  2:55 pm

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air UpOscar winners will no longer have to wait weeks to see their names on the shiny gold statuettes they are handed at the ceremony. The academy has announced plans to personalize the Oscars at the post-ceremony Governors Ball. To that end, "the academy will create 197 nameplates, one for each 2009 nominee in every category. The engraving will include the nominee’s name, category, film title and year. After the winners have been announced, the unused nameplates will be recycled." As academy president Tom Sherak said, “An Oscar statuette just isn’t complete until a nameplate is attached. The Governors Ball is the perfect place for Oscar winners to add that final touch as they celebrate their accomplishment and the year’s movies." AMPAS

• If that weren't reason enough for Oscar champs to attend the Governors Ball, the academy also announced that Wolfgang Puck will be returning for the 16th year to create the menu. Overseeing the planning will be Cheryl Cechetto for the 21st consecutive year. And Jeffrey Kurland, an academy governor representing the Art Directors Branch, will chair the ball. "Kurland is an Oscar-nominated costume designer ('Bullets Over Broadway,' 1994), and in addition to overseeing the decor, menu and entertainment planning for the ball, he will design attire to be worn by the evening’s performers and selected staff." AMPAS

Dave Karger discusses and then dismisses the possibility of any upsets in the acting races at the Oscars. "I still think Jeremy Renner is No. 2 in the Best Actor derby, but face it: It’s not happening. And neither is Maggie Gyllenhaal. Or Woody Harrelson. Or Gabourey Sidibe. We all need to be content with the reality that the only real races in the major categories this year are for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Otherwise we’re all setting ourselves up for a night of disappointment on March 7." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Echoing this sentiment, Mike Fleming says, "We know that almost all the marquee categories are virtually decided. Which leaves only Best Picture and Best Director (and maybe Best Actress) nominations with any suspense at all. There's tension galore, for once. The studios, and their majors and minors and distributors and marketers, all had an extra two weeks to campaign until the Oscar broadcast March 7th. But is anyone spending like the good old days (i.e. the Weinsteins' heyday)? I've called around and seasoned Oscar observers say no, resoundingly. Gone are the days when ego and bragging rights prompted studios and studio-backed indies to cough up tens of millions of dollars just to sway Academy members. It's estimated that spending campaigns this year will range from a pittance of $500,000 to a middling $5 million. 'And most of us are going to play in the low end,' one top studio exec told me. Contrast that to the routine $15-plus million spent in the late 1990s-early 2000s." DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD

Sandra Bullock Santa Barbara Oscars The Blind SidePete Hammond reports on the tribute to Oscar front-runner Sandra Bullock that he moderated last Friday at the Santa Barbara filmfest. "The odd thing is she tried desperately to turn down both roles, in 'The Proposal' and "The Blind Side," that have led to her current award-season success and No. 1-box-office star ranking in the 78-year-old Quigley poll of theater owners. 'It seems the things I said 'no' to have benefited me the most,' she said, explaining that she didn't want to do another romantic comedy but was finally seduced by the quality of the character in 'Proposal' and that she thought the real-life subject of 'Blind Side' Leigh Anne Tuohy was 'manufactured,' that is until  director John Lee Hancock finally persuaded her to meet Tuohy. After an eight-hour session with Leigh Anne she finally got it. Although she still doesn't remember saying 'yes' or signing a contract, she is glad she got to do it. 'Like most things that strike a chord, they weren't made to strike a chord. They are made out of passion and love, and this was John Lee Hancock's passion. He knew what he wanted to say,' she says and is especially thrilled that it also got a surprise best picture nomination." NOTES ON A SEASON

• Two-time Emmy champ Jeff Probst is sticking with "Survivor" for at least two more installments says CBS. The host of the long-running reality competition is also signing on as an executive producer for the 21st and 22nd editions of "Survivor" that will air next season. AP

• The Emmy-nominated Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") plays a whopping 30 different characters in a 3:00 music video promoting the non-profit coalition Stand Up to Cancer. THE LIVE FEED

24-Season-8-PosterJosef Adalian delves into Monday's reports in EW and Variety that the Emmy-winning "24" could be heading for the big-screen. "Just when a '24' feature might move forward could depend on how long '24' the series continues. Fox Broadcasting hasn't renewed the series for a ninth season, and Variety said 'the betting is that this season will be the final one.'" As Josef notes, "'24' is a very expensive show to produce, and Fox executives may simply decide it no longer makes sense to continue given the series' solid but weakened ratings this season. Making things tougher: Fox executives still believe the show is on solid footing creatively. The Variety story also hints that 20th might shop a '24' series to another network if Fox didn't step up and renew the series. Another possibility, insiders tell TheWrap: A revamped, less costly take on '24' that would allow the franchise to stay in the Fox family." THE WRAP

Nathaniel Rogers revisits one of his favorite top 10 Oscar lists -- best picture nominees with the longest titles -- and reports that the officially-titled "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" sits at position No. 4. The longest title remains 1964 nominee "Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Says Nathaniel, "Not only does this classic comedy have the longest title ever from a best picture nominee, it has one of the best titles period. Ever. All time. Don'cha think? It's also a merciful 95 minutes long. Comedies are funniest when they're short, timing being everything." THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Top photo: Academy Awards. Credit: AMPAS

Middle photo: Sandra Bullock at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Bottom photo: "24" Poster. Credit: Fox

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' vs. 'The Hurt Locker' | Oscars boost box office | 'Avatar' and 'emotion capture'

February 3, 2010 |  5:04 pm

The Hurt Locker posterSteve Pond analyzes the matchup at the Oscars between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" by delving into the numbers of academy members in each of the branches that nominated the movies. "First, we’ll start with the categories that nominated one film, but not the other. For 'Avatar,' that was Art Direction and Visual Effects. For 'The Hurt Locker,' Original Screenplay and Best Actor. So now we have four AMPAS branches going on record to say that they prefer one film over the other. Here, the numbers don’t favor James Cameron’s big hit: The art directors branch of the Academy contains 374 members, the visual effects branch 279. On the 'Hurt Locker' side, the writers branch has 382 members, while the actors branch is by far the Academy’s largest, with 1,205. So Kathryn Bigelow’s film comes out with a big lead, 1,587 members to 653." THE ODDS

Sasha Stone considers the best picture Oscar nominees in terms of the precursor awards and says, "The preferential balloting is the trick here. There are films that are poised to upset either 'Avatar' or 'The Hurt Locker' and those would be, as you can see below, 'Precious,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Up in the Air' and, most surprising of all, 'Up.' Of those, only 'Precious' has editing, director, screenplay and two acting nods. That puts it in a startlingly good position heading into this race. Next in line is 'Basterds' with editing, director, screenplay and one acting nod. 'Up in the Air' has all of those, THREE acting nods (the most of any film?) but no editing. Finally, 'Up' is the kind of overall crowdpleaser that could sneak up and become the first animated film to win Best Pic. But probably we’re looking a very obvious answer here. The only problem, being, of course, if everyone puts the one film at number one." AWARDS DAILY

Anthony Breznican spent the wee small hours of Oscar nominations morning with academy president Tom Sherak and co-announcer Anne Hathaway. As Anthony writes, "Hathaway has on her game face. 'I'm doing the foreign-picture announcements, which is very nice for Tom to hand over,' she jokes. 'He took animated (with titles such as 'Up' and 'Coraline') and gave me foreign films (which include 'El Secreto de Sus Ojos').' She has been singing show tunes as the makeup and hair people put on some finishing touches." USA TODAY

Oscars Expanded Best Picture RaceClaudia Eller and Ben Fritz catalog how "every studio with a best picture nominee made plans today to benefit from Oscar attention, be it by drawing new audiences to existing theaters, expanding into new theaters or bringing attention to DVDs." For example, when it comes to "An Education," "Sony Pictures Classics will expand the British drama, which has collected $8.8 million so far in the U.S. and Canada, from 75 theaters to 760 this Friday." COMPANY TOWN

Melena Ryzik looks beyond the best picture nominees and discovers that any Oscar attention can make a difference. Consider "The Messenger"  which earned nods for supporting actor and screenplay. "The studio is redesigning the poster 'so the nominations are on top,' David Fenkel, a partner, told the Bagger. The film, which stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster as military men tasked with delivering grim news to families, has been in theaters since November and has grossed less than $1 million so far. With the nominations to build on, it will double the number of screens in the coming weeks, Mr. Fenkel said, in cities like Philadelphia, Boston and Phoenix. 'The idea is that now the film, with the nominations, will be perceived as bigger than its box office gross, no matter where it ends up,' he said." THE CARPETBAGGER

Greg Ellwood reviews some of the bigger surprises in Tuesday's Oscar nominations including a snub of four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore "seemingly knocked out of the Best Supporting Race by 'Crazy Heart's Maggie Gyllenhaal. Considering 'Heart' didn't get into the ten, it shows how little appeal Tom Ford's 'A Single Man' had with the Academy. The drama received only one nod for actor Colin Firth." HIT FIX

Nathaniel Rogers reviews the Oscar nominations and reveals some interesting statistics -- "Meryl Streep has been nominated for 37% of her screen appearances" -- as well as some offbeat ones -- "We have five Leos (Woody, Sandra, Helen, Anna and Vera). I guess that's not surprising given Leo's show off nature but no Aquarius, Pisces or Aries nominees."  THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Avatar Golden Globes winner James Cameron Zoe Saldana Sam Worthington • "Avatar" does not number any acting bids among its nine Oscar nominations and, as Alex Ben Block reports, this is frustrating for the filmmakers. "'People confuse what we have done with animation,' Cameron told THR at the PGA Awards. 'It's nothing like animation. The creator here is the actor, not the unseen hand of an animator.' The Oscars snub is 'a disappointment,' said producer Jon Landau, 'but I blame ourselves for not educating people in the right way.' Landau explained that they needed to make clear that the system they used represents a new way to use motion capture photography, or as Landau puts it, 'emotion capture.' A key breakthrough in 'Avatar' involves photographing facial features of the actors with a tiny camera suspended from a skull cap in front of the performer's face that caught every twitch and muscle movement, all faithfully reproduced onscreen." THR

• He may not have won the academy over with his adapted screenplay for "Invictus" but Anthony Peckham is to be feted by the Writers Guild of America, West with the Paul Selvin award which recognizes written work that embody the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties. As WGAW president John Wells said in making the announcement: "Anthony Peckham’s screenplay for 'Invictus' perfectly illustrates what the Paul Selvin Award stands for, expertly conveying how only a few men can unite to impact positive change, and have that change resonate around the world." WGAW

• Grand slam awards winner Mel Brooks reminisces about his late wife Anne Bancroft in this touching interview. Brooks tells John Carucci that "Bancroft always had his best interests at heart right until the end. One of the last things she did was help him structure 'Young Frankenstein' as a musical. 'She suggested where and when to sing, and what to save (from the film version),' Brooks said. 'She was wonderful.' Bancroft did not live to see the show's Broadway opening in late 2007. 'I had to open it without her,' Brooks says, choking up. 'It was hard. It's still hard.'" AP

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Top photo: "The Hurt Locker " poster. Credit: Summit

Middle photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

Bottom photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox 

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Oscar nominations: Fascinating facts, figures and milestones

February 3, 2010 |  2:06 pm

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air Up With invaluable assistance from our many forum posters, here are interesting stats about this year's nominations for the Oscars.

Nine not so fine: "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" lead this year's derby with nine nominations each; "Nine" managed just four nominations. However, beginning with "The Life of Emile Zola" in 1937, there have been 77 films that have landed 10 or more Oscar nominations. Last year's big champ "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight of its 10 races, while "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" managed just three wins from 13 nominations.

Money matters: On nomination day, "Avatar" broke the domestic box office record of 1997 best picture champ "Titanic" when it reached $601 million in receipts. The foreign title -- also held by "Titanic" -- fell to "Avatar" last week. While "Avatar" would thus be the highest-grossing best picture champ, "The Hurt Locker" -- with domestic receipts of $12.6 million -- would be the lowest when adjusted for inflation. 

Take five: With double the number of entries in the best picture race, it is not so surprising that all five directing nominees helmed a contender. In the eight years from 1936 to 1943 when there were also 10 best picture nominees, the five directing nominees each year had a hand in one of those contenders save for 1936 and 1938. In 1936 Gregory LaCava ("My Man Godfrey") was the spoiler, while in 1938 it was Michael Curtiz ("Angels With Dirty Faces") who was the odd man out. Frank Capra took home the directing award in both those years, while Curtiz won his only Oscar in 1943 for helming "Casablanca" -- the last best picture champ to win over nine rivals. 

All in the family: Father and son Ivan and Jason Reitman are nominated for producing "Up in the Air." Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are double nominees for writing and producing "A Serious Man." Onetime married couple Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and James Cameron ("Avatar") are each nominated for best director.

Something old, something new: Supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer is a first-time contender at age 80 for his 86th movie, "The Last Station," while Gabourey Sidibe landed a lead actress nomination for her film debut in "Precious." Plummer also lends his voice to best picture nominee "Up."

Batting 1.000: Animated short nominee Nick Park ("Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death") has won all four of his previous Oscar races -- animated short (1990, 1993, 1996) and animated feature (2005). In 1990 he was a double nominee, winning for "Creature Comforts" over "A Grand Day Out with Wallace & Gromit." In 1993 he won for "Wallace & Gromit in the Wrong Trousers," in 1996 for "Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave" and in 2005 for "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Animated features: "Up" is the second animated feature after "Beauty and the Beast" to contend for best picture. While "Beauty" had five other nominations in 1991, including three song bids, score and sound, "Up" is contending in four other categories -- screenplay, score, sound editing and animated feature. That last category wasn't created till 2001, and this is only the second year -- after 2002, when "Spirited Away" won -- that there have been five rather than three nominees.

Only the lonely: The nominations for lead actor Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), lead actress Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and supporting actor Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones") are the only Oscar nods for those films.

Return engagement: Only two of last year's acting nominees are back in the Oscar race this year -- lead actress nominee Meryl Streep and supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz ("Nine"). Cruz -- who won that same award last year for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" -- follows in the footsteps of supporting actress champs Estelle Parsons ("Bonnie & Clyde," 1967) and Lee Grant ("Shampoo," 1975), who both contended again the year after their victory; neither won. Bette Davis and Greer Garson share the record of most consecutive years nominated at five apiece in the lead actress category. Davis kicking off her reign in 1938 with a win for "Jezebel" while Garson began her run in 1941 with a nod for "Blossoms in the Dust."

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Photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

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Oscars guided by guild awards in nominations

February 2, 2010 | 10:01 am

Oscars New Members movie news 1357986 This year, 19 of the 20 SAG acting nominees are contending at the Academy Awards. The only one not to make the cut was SAG supporting actress contender Diane Kruger ("Inglourious Basterds"), who was replaced on the Oscars ballot by Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart").

Last year, 18 of the 19 SAG acting nominees repeated at the Academy Awards. As double SAG nominee Kate Winslet was bumped up by the Oscars from supporting to lead for "The Reader," she was denied a lead nod for "Revolutionary Road." However, that film's Michael Shannon managed to knock SAG nominee Dev Patel of "Slumdog Millionaire" out of the supporting race.

Two years ago, 15 of the 20 SAG nominees went on to compete at the Oscars. Three years ago, it was also 19 of the 20 with the one variation coming from the same film -- "The Departed" -- as SAG nominee Leonardo DiCaprio was replaced at Oscar time by Mark Wahlberg.

Four of the five SAG-nominated ensembles appear in Oscar-nominated best pictures with only "Nine" not making it into the top 10. Last year, four of the five SAG-nominated ensembles also did so, with SAG contender "Doubt" replaced by "The Reader." "Slumdog Millionaire" won both awards. Two years ago, only one SAG ensemble nominee -- "No Country for Old Men" -- made it into the best picture race, although that film won both prizes as well. Three years ago, it was three of five, with "Little Miss Sunshine" taking the SAG prize but losing the top Oscar to "The Departed."

Last year, all five of the lead actress nominees also competed for both awards. Two years ago, it was four of five as the only SAG nominee not needing a babysitter come Oscar night was Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart"), whose spot went to "The Savages" star Laura Linney.

As with this year, last year's supporting actress race matched up only four to five as the promotion of Winslet for "The Reader" left room at the Oscars for the addition of Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler"). Two years ago, this race was also four for five with SAG nominee Catherine Keener ("Into the Wild") replaced by Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement").

Last year, lead actor also matched up perfectly. Two years ago, it went three for five with the SAG nominees as relative newcomers Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild") and Ryan Gosling ("Lars and the Real Girl") were replaced at the Oscars by Hollywood vets Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd") and Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah").

Last year's supporting actor race was four for five with Shannon replacing Patel. Two years ago, SAG nominee Tommy Lee Jones ("No Country for Old Men") was replaced by Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War").

This year, the DGA lineup is repeated at the Oscars. Last year's DGA picks for best director matched up with four of the five academy choices as DGA nominee Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight") was edged out at the Oscars by Stephen Daldry ("The Reader"). Two years ago, DGA nominee Sean Penn ("Into the Wild") lost his Oscar slot to Jason Reitman, who helmed best pic nominee "Juno."

Of this year's 10 PGA nominees for best picture, eight of them earned Oscar nods. The exceptions: One box office champ -- "Star Trek" -- was replaced by another -- "The Blind Side" -- and one set of Oscar favorites -- Clint Eastwood and "Invictus" -- was replaced by another -- the Coen brothers and "A Serious Man."

Last year, the PGA went four for five with the Oscar contenders as "The Dark Knight" was bumped by "The Reader." Two years ago, it was also four for five with PGA nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" replaced by "Atonement."

This year, only two of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay -- "The Hurt Locker" and "A Serious Man" -- are contending at the Oscars. Last year, just one of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay made it into the Oscar race -- eventual winner Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"). Two years ago, the WGA picks lined up with the Oscar nominees except for "Knocked Up," which was knocked out of the competition by the team that whipped up "Ratatouille."

The adapted screenplay Oscar race only includes two of the WGA nominees as well -- "Precious" and "Up in the Air." Last year, the Oscars went four for five with only the WGA nominees for "The Dark Knight" bumped by David Hare, who adapted "The Reader." Two years ago, Sean Penn, who wowed the WGA with his adaptation of "Into the Wild," was snubbed at the Oscars as was the scripter for "Zodiac." They were replaced by "Atonement" adapter Christopher Hampton and first time writer-director Sarah Polley.

The Oscar nominees for best cinematography line up with the American Society of Cinematographers choices with the exception of "Nine" lenser Dion Beebe, who was replaced by "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" shooter Bruno Delbonnel. Last year, ASC nominee Roger Deakins ("Revolutionary Road") was replaced at the Oscars by Tom Stern for "Changeling." Two years ago, the ASC went five for five.

This year, the Oscar nominees for editing include just three of the American Cinema Editors' picks as the cutters for "Inglourious Basterds" and "Precious" replace those for "Star Trek" and "Up in the Air." Last year, the nominees lined up, and two years ago, ACE nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was replaced by "Michael Clayton."

Continue reading »

Oscars welcome dozen first-time acting nominees, including Sandra Bullock

February 2, 2010 |  8:11 am
Sandra Bullock

This year's 20 acting nominees include five previous Oscar acting winners, another three previous Oscar contenders and 12 newcomers.

"Julie & Julia" star Meryl Streep is the only two-time Academy Award-winner contending this year. She widened the gap for the most total acting nominations by earning her 16th nod today. And she broke Katharine Hepburn's record of an even dozen Oscar nominations in the lead race, landing what she must hope will he her lucky 13th bid.

Streep's already staggering total of 15 previous bids exceeds the track record of the other four Oscar winners by four nominations. She has a supporting actress win for "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979) and a lead actress win for "Sophie's Choice" (1982). She has 11 more lead actress noms for "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981), "Silkwood" (1983), "Out of Africa" (1985), "Ironweed" (1987), "A Cry in the Dark" (1988), "Postcards from the Edge" (1990), "The Bridges of Madison County" (1995), "One True Thing" (1998), "Music of the Heart" (1999), "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) and "Doubt" (2008) as well as two supporting actress nods for "The Deer Hunter" (1978) and "Adaptation" (2002).

The other acting Oscar winners in the running once more are:

Lead actress nominee Helen Mirren ("The Last Station") -- lead actress win for "The Queen" (2006); supporting actress nods for "The Madness of King George" (1994), "Gosford Park" (2001).

Lead actor nominee George Clooney ("Up in the Air") -- supporting actor win for "Syriana" (2005); lead actor nod for "Michael Clayton" (2007).

Lead actor nominee Morgan Freeman ("Invictus") -- supporting actor win for "Million Dollar Baby" (2004); supporting actor nod for "Street Smart" (1987); lead actor nods for "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989), "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994).

Supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz ("Nine") -- supporting actress win for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008); lead actress nod for "Volver" (2006).

Among the previous Oscar nominees, lead actor Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") has four unsuccessful bids: supporting actor -- "The Last Picture Show" (1971); "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974); "The Contender" (2000); and lead actor -- "Starman" (1984). Other past contenders back in the race are:

Supporting actor nominee Matt Damon, "Invictus" -- lead actor nod for "Good Will Hunting" (1997). (He won in the screenplay race.)

Supporting actor nominee Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger" -- lead actor nod for "The People v. Larry Flynt" (1996).

The first-time nominees are:

Lead actress contenders Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Gabby Sidibe ("Precious").

Lead actor contenders Colin Firth ("A Single Man") and Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker").

Supporting actress contenders Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart"), Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air") and Mo'Nique ("Precious").

Supporting actor contenders Christopher Plummer ("The Last Station"), Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones") and Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds").

Of last year's 20 acting nominees, five were previous Oscar champs, including eventual lead actor winner Sean Penn ("Milk); another six were previous Oscar nominees including the other three acting winners -- lead actress Kate Winslet ("The Reader")  and supporting players Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight") and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona") -- and nine were newcomers.

Two years ago among the 19 acting nominees, six were previous Oscar winners, including lead actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"); four, including supporting actor champ Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"), were previous nominees; and nine were first-time Oscar contenders, including the two women who won –- lead actress Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") and supporting actress Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton").

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Photo: Sandra Bullock in a scene from "The Blind Side." Credit: Warner Bros.

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Experts divided on adapted screenplay winner at Oscars

December 23, 2009 |  3:35 pm
Up in the Air 500

Four of these Oscar pundits -- Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Scott Feinberg (And The Winner Is), Michael Musto (Village Voice) and Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) -- predict "Up in the Air" scripters Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner to prevail in the adapted screenplay race. Steve Pond (The Wrap) thinks the prize will go to Nick Hornsby for his adaptation of "An Education," while I believe Geoffrey Fletcher will win for adapting "Precious." See experts' predictions of the best actor race here, best actress race here, best supporting actor here, best supporting actress here and best picture here. Contenders are ranked according to their likelihood of winning.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Douglas Feinberg Musto O'Neil Pond Wells
'Up in the Air'

1

1

1

2

2

1

'Precious'

2

2

3

1

3

3

'An Education'

3

3

2

5

1

2

'A Single Man'

4

 

 

3

4

4

'Invictus'

5

 

4

 

 

 

'Julie & Julia'

 

4

 

4

 

 

'Fantastic Mr. Fox'

 

5

 

 

 

 

'The Last Station'

 

 

5

 

 

 

'Nine'

 

 

 

 

 

5

Photo: A scene from "Up in the Air." Credit: Paramount

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