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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: ClintEastwood

Oscars snub 'The Dark Knight' and star of 'Slumdog Millionaire'

January 22, 2009 |  8:38 am

"The Reader" has so much strength with voters at the Oscars that not only did it bump "The Dark Knight" from the top races for best picture and director, but Kate Winslet also was moved up from supporting to lead. Despite giving the core performance in the picture, Kate Winslet had been campaigning for a supporting nod so as not to cancel out her hopes for a lead nomination for "Revolutionary Road." The latter film, which was virtually snubbed, reunited Winslet with her "Titanic" costar Leonardo DiCaprio and was directed by her Oscar-winning husband, Sam Mendes ("American Beauty").

"Revolutionary Road" costars DiCaprio and Winslet were nominated for best lead drama actor and actress at the Golden Globes, where Winslet won twice: in lead for "Road" and supporting for "The Reader." However, DiCaprio was also snubbed today at the Oscars, just like he was the last time he costarred with Winslet — in "Titanic," which earned her a nomination for best actress (she lost to Helen Hunt, "As Good As It Gets"). "Titanic" ended up sailing off with more Oscars than any other movie in history (except "Ben-Hur," which also received 11), leaving its lead male star behind. DiCaprio, in turn, snubbed the Oscars and didn't attend the ceremony.

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Over the last decade, the best picture and director lineups have been out of sync by at least one nomination in every year but 2005. So it was widely thought that if "The Dark Knight" didn't get in for best picture at least DGA nominee Christopher Nolan would be recognized for his helming. Instead, "The Reader's" Stephen Daldry made the cut with the directors, which lined up exactly with best picture. This means that Daldry has been nominated for every feature film he's ever directed. His previous two flicks were "Billy Elliot" (2000) and "The Hours" (2002).

The Oscar nominations for "The Reader" are a huge vindication for studio chief Harvey Weinstein, who forced the film's release in 2008 even though it meant clashing with co-producer Scott Rudin. Rudin was backing his other pony in the Oscar race — "Revolutionary Road." And with Kate Winslet understandably loyal to her husband, Rudin wanted Weinstein to wait till 2009 to release "The Reader." When Weinstein wouldn't, Rudin pulled his own name from the credits of "The Reader." Last year, Rudin produced best-picture winner "No Country for Old Men" and nominee "There Will Be Blood."

Many Oscarologists believed that Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino") would be nominated for best actor despite the fact that he had been shut out at both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. After all, Eastwood has never been nominated for acting by the Globes and wasn't nominated by SAG for "Million Dollar Baby." (SAG didn't have competitive awards when "Unforgiven" was released in 1992.) Nonetheless, he did manage to reap past acting bids at the Oscars for "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."

It's surprising that critics' darling Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky") was snubbed, considering her early derby victories as best actress at both the Gotham and L.A. critics' awards, as well as the Golden Globes. Oscar voters nominated the lead female stars of other Mike Leigh films: Brenda Blethyn ("Secrets and Lies") and Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake").

Where's the slumdog, you ask? Dev Patel, star of "Slumdog Millionaire" and a BAFTA lead actor nominee, was snubbed in the supporting race even though his film reaped an impressive tally of 10 nominations and is considered the front-runner to win best picture.

Indeed, the love for "Slumdog Millionaire" was so strong that the academy's music branch nominated two of the songs from the film — "Jai Ho" and "O Saya" — and snubbed past Oscar winner Bruce Springsteen, who just won a Golden Globe for the title track to "The Wrestler." Bruce Springsteen won his Oscar in 1993 for the song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the film "Philadelphia." He was nominated two years later for the title song of "Dead Man Walking" but lost to "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas."

NOTABLE OSCARS SNUBS

BEST PICTURE
"The Dark Knight"
"Wall-E"
"Gran Torino"

BEST DIRECTOR
Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight"

BEST ACTOR
Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino")
Leonardo DiCaprio ("Revolutionary Road")
Dustin Hoffman ("Last Chance Harvey")

BEST ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky")
Cate Blanchett ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button")
Kristin Scott Thomas ("I've Loved You So Long")

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: Dave Karger on wide-open acting races| Sasha Stone previews BAFTAs| Will TV's 'Arrested Development' and 'Pushing Daisies' make it to big screen?

January 14, 2009 |  4:55 pm

Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly makes this astute observation about the wide-open nature of the lead acting races at the upcoming Academy Awards. "In the last five years, every eventual lead-acting Oscar winner, with the exception of "La Vie en Rose's" Marion Cotillard last year, won the Broadcast Critics award and a Golden Globe before picking up the big prize. So in a sense, all the other nine winners — Daniel Day-Lewis, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Reese Witherspoon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx, Charlize Theron and Sean Penn — were basically foregone conclusions come Oscar night. This year, however, is a completely different story. For the first time since 2003, the BFCA winners and Globe winners were different performers in both lead-acting races." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

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Sasha Stone of Awards Daily previews tomorrow's BAFTA nominations, winnowing down the long lists released last week. "It should average roughly 2/3rds what the Oscar nominations will be able. Since so many Brits have now won Oscars we can sometimes look to the BAFTA in ways we never could before. Last year’s Tilda Swinton and Marion Cotillard both won BAFTAs before they went on to win Oscars. On the other hand, "Atonement" won their Feature prize and No Country for Old Men won the Oscar. They don’t seem particularly interested in reflecting the Academy’s taste but rather, in influencing it. They used to hold their awards after the Oscars, in fact. But a few years back they positioned them before the Oscars, then the Academy pushed their own awards back a month and that caused chaos to ensue. Somehow, it keeps on chugging along anyway." AWARDS DAILY

• Guy Lodge dares to scoot out onto some thin limbs to make BAFTA predix while Kris Tapley begins to unveil his choices for best film cinematography of 2008. IN CONTENTION

• Current Grammy Award nominees Kenny Chesney, Coldplay, Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, and Katy Perry are the first performers announced for the upcoming Feb. 8 awardscast. Lil Wayne leads with eight nominations, four-time Grammy winner Coldplay has seven nods, while Chesney, the Jonas Brothers, and Perry each have a single nom. GRAMMYS

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• The 2004 Emmy Award winning comedy series "Arrested Development" has hit a bump on the road to the big screen, according to a TV Guide interview with series star Jason Bateman. "I think Michael Cera is clearly the guy that has come out of 'Arrested Development' with a very big plate, so I think he's trying to really give some responsible thought to what makes sense for him to do with his career," he said. "The guy is 20 years old and I'm sure he doesn't want to screw up this opportunity." If Cera does not come back, it will put a damper on Hurwitz's premise for the flick. Although he toyed with the idea of a prequel, featuring a kid CG version of Cera, Hurwitz, also a producer on Sit Down, Shut Up, said his plan now is to jump ahead in time. "We're going to pick up five years later, and family dynamics change, but they also kind of stay the same," he said. "So hopefully we'll just explore where they are now." TV GUIDE

• Tony Award winner and Emmy nominated star Kristin Chenoweth had mixed news on the fate of "Pushing Daisies." As per TV Guide, "The final episodes, when and if they eventually air, won't resolve all of the plotlines on the show but show creator Bryan Fuller has an idea for a movie that would. "It would wrap up a lot of the unanswered questions that people will have once they finally air our final episodes," said the singer-actress." TV GUIDE

• One of the hot prospects for next year's Tony Awards — a musical version of "The Addams Family" — is being workshopped in Manhattan this month. This tryout stars two-time Tony Award winner Nathan Lane as Gomez and multiple Tony and Emmy Award winner Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. Says Playbill, "With a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (librettists of the 2006 Tony Award-winning best musical, "Jersey Boys") and music and lyrics by Drama Desk award-winning composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa ("The Wild Party"), the musical is wholly original and not based on Addams Family material from other media — don't expect the TV series or the films." PLAYBILL

• Playbill is also reporting that casting is now complete for "33 Variations," the Moises Kaufman play that marks the return of Oscar winner Jane Fonda to Broadway after 45 years. Rounding out the cast of eight are Samantha Mathis and Colin Hanks. The piece marks the Broadway debut of Kaufman ("The Laramie Project") and "concerns Katherine Brandt (Jane Fonda), trying to solve a centuries-old mystery about the world's greatest composer — Beethoven. Her obsession takes her from present-day New York to 19th-century Austria. As the music that consumes Katherine comes to life on stage, she races against time to find common ground with her daughter (Mathis) and to embrace the legacy of her own life." PLAYBILL

Photos: Paramount Vantage, ABC, Fox


Can Clint Eastwood really win best actor? (Uh-oh! Wait! He's got to get nominated first)

December 29, 2008 |  4:10 pm

Michael Musto of the Village Voice isn't the only guru who believes that Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino") will win best actor at the Oscars. Snooping through The Envelope's Buzzmeter, I see that Anne Thompson of Variety, Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere.com and Kris Tapley of InContention.com agree. Thelma Adams of Us Weekly ranks Clint second behind Sean Penn ("Milk").

Hmmmm. Most other pundits rank Clint Eastwood low — down in the fourth position (Sasha Stone of AwardsDaily.com, Lou Lumenick of the New York Post and Ed Douglas of Comingsoon.net) or fifth place (Pete Hammond, Scott Feinberg, Mark Olsen and Patrick Kevin Day of The Envelope, Anthony Breznican of USA Today and Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today.

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Personally, I'm not confident about what to think. Right now I've got Clint dangling dubiously in my fifth slot, but I'm tempted to boot him for Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor"), who got a SAG nomination. Clint got snubbed by SAG and the Golden Globes. Yikes — that's serious!

However, looking back over the past three years — 60 Oscar noms for acting in lead and supporting — three contenders did manage to break into the academy derby after being similarly skunked earlier: Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah," 2007), Laura Linney ("The Savages," 2007) and William Hurt ("History of Violence," 2005). Please note: none of them won.

Clint's never received solo acting nominations at the Golden Globes or SAG, come to think of it, but he nonetheless got nominated twice at the Oscars for acting in best-picture nominees "Unforgiven" (1992) and Million Dollar Baby" (2004). So perhaps those snubs are meaningless again this time.

Maybe Clint is cursed just like all of those other actors who won for directing, like Robert Redford ("Ordinary People," 1980), Warren Beatty ("Reds," 1981), Kevin Costner ("Dances with Wolves," 1990), Mel Gibson ("Braveheart," 1995) — even John Huston ("Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948), Woody Allen ("Annie Hall," 1977), Richard Attenborough ("Gandhi," 1982) and Syndey Pollack ("Out of Africa," 1985). No actor who's won an Oscar for directing has ever prevailed in a performance category.

Sure, Clint is that rare, enduring superstar who's proved to be a Super Man in many showbiz fields — and "Gran Torino" may be special too. Clint insists that it's his last acting role. Is that enough to get him nominated? And get him a breakthrough, historic win? Currently, he holds four Oscar statuettes, two for directing and two for producing best picture champs "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."

Yes, Clint won best actor from National Board of Review, but, come one, so did Campbell Scott ("Roger Dodger," 2002).

Continue reading »

VIDEO: Michael Musto on the Oscars' best-actor slugfest: Leo is down and out, the champ will be . . .

December 29, 2008 |  2:12 pm

Oscarquestion_edited1

Just before Christmas I checked in with that savvy — and snarky — Oscarologist Michael Musto of the Village Voice to get his take on the derby. Last week he promised that this year's race will be gayer than ever (is that possible for the Gay Super Bowl? - READ MORE). But will that include a Sean Penn victory for "Milk"?

Now let's hear Michael's view on the best-actor matchup. It's a bit unfair to run this video more than a week after Michael and I dished. He was seeing "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" later that night, so he had to equivocate a bit on Brad Pitt's chances for a nomination.

What you may find surprising is whom Michael picks to win!


Golden Globe nominations: Pundits' reax and predix scores too!

December 11, 2008 | 10:35 pm

• While comparing the Golden Globe nominations with the Critics' Choice bids announced a few days ago, Pete Hammond sees a curious parallel between "Milk" getting skunked at the Golden Globes and what happened last year to "Into the Wild."

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• Check out the pundit videos Pete and I did riffing with Elizabeth Snead immediately after the noms were announced. They're down on the right side of The Envelope's home page.

Scott Feinberg does a fine job at Feinberg Files putting perspective on the Golden Globe nominations, but I disagree with him about "In Bruges" pulling off big surprises in the comedy/musical races. I predicted that it would.

• By the way, speaking of predix, here's how various pundits scored trying to out-guess the Globes. Just counting the same categories we all guessed in tandem, I scored 23, Scott nailed 20. Nathaniel Rogers scored 21 at TheFilmExperience. Guy Lodge beat us all at InContention.com (24). Congrats, Guy! For the complete list of nominees, CLICK HERE!

• Over at InContention.com Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge clash while sizing up Tom Cruise's nomination for "Tropic Thunder." Guy calls it "goofy," Kris calls it one of the best Globe calls.

Sasha Stone likes the nominations of Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at AwardsDaily.com.

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• New York Times Carpetbagger David Carr believes in the Harvey Weinstein conspiracy to explain how "The Reader" got so many noms. No, no, David — not this time anyway. Believe it or not, voters really like the movie. I've heard that directly from many HFPA members. EW's Dave Karger heard the same buzz.

• Over at Hollywood-Elsewhere.com, Jeff Wells wonders about such Harvey conspiracy thoughts, but acknowledges that "many critics and smartypants-types" were probably too quick to dismiss the kudos chances of "The Reader" earlier.

• Uh, oh! That Hollywood Reporter wag, Gold Rusher T.L. Stanley, is risking her neck with some bold (?) prophecies: "There are a number of foregone conclusions in the nods today, namely, 'Gomorra' in the best foreign language category, Heath Ledger as best supporting actor for 'The Dark Knight' and Penelope Cruz for best supporting actress in 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona.' "

• At Variety.com, Anne Thompson writes, "Athough the Globes saw fit to only recognize Sean Penn's performance in Gus Van Sant's very American and very political Milk (which won best film from the New York Film Critics Circle), that should not hurt its overall awards chances."

• Hang tough, Lou! New York Post's Lou Lumenick acknowledges that he "received some criticism on other blogs for supposedly revealing 'spoilers' in our year-end wrap-up" at the NYFCC voting, but, come on, other journos before Lou did the same for decades in Gotham's newspaper pages dating back to the group's launch in 1935. Plowing through those ancient reports on microfilm for many days and weeks at the New York Public Library was how I was able to document past scores and voter battles while compiling my book "Movie Awards." In recent years that tattle's lapsed a bit and I've had to resort to snooping via telephone calls to various members for such reports here at Gold Derby, but I'm happy that this ballot reportage is now back out in the open, as it should be. Huzzahs to Lou!


Golden Globes have never nominated Clint Eastwood for acting

December 11, 2008 | 12:05 pm

Clint_eastwood

Looking over the Golden Globe nominations, there are a few notable snubs -- all involving Clint Eastwood. The Hollywood icon was snubbed for acting ("Gran Torino") and directing ("Changeling"). However, Eastwood picked up his second song nod for "Gran Torino" (he was nominated last year for "Grace Is Gone" from the film of the same name) and his first score nom for "Changeling."

Although Eastwood has never been nominated by the Globes for acting, he has two Oscar nods in the lead actor race — "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004). However, he has three Globes to show for his six directing nods — "Bird" (1988) as well as both of his Oscar champs — "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004). In 2006, Eastwood was a double directing Globe nominee for "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwo Jima."  All of this Globe attention came after Eastwood was feted with the lifetime achievement prize — the Cecil B. DeMille award — in 1988.

Photo: Warner Bros.


Oscars predix: 'Slumdog Millionaire' is top dog

December 4, 2008 |  6:25 pm

"Slumdog Millionaire" will trot off with the best-picture prize at the Oscars, according to four of our seven pundits cited below. Two pick "Curious Case of Benjamin Button." One drinks "Milk."

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In the best-actor derby, Sean Penn ("Milk") romps with five. Frank Langella ("Frost/Nixon") and Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") get one each. A single vote is all that five of the best-actress contenders get -- that's how wide open that race is.

Here's our lineup of Oscarologists: Thelma Adams (Us Weekly), Anthony Breznican (USA Today), Brad Brevet (RopeOfSilicon.com), Scott Feinberg (Feinberg Files, The Envelope), Mark Harris (Entertainment Weekly), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone). Four of these pundits' views are featured at The Envelope's Buzzmeter (Adams, Breznican, Feinberg and Travers) where you can also find the Oscar forecasts of more than a dozen other gurus. Soon we'll be adding Brevet, Harris, Musto plus others to the Buzzmeter too.

BEST PICTURE Adams Brevet Breznican Harris Feinberg Musto Travers
'Benjamin Button'

4

1

1

2

3

4

5

'Dark Knight'

 

5

5

 

5

3

3

'Doubt'

3

 

4

 

 

5

 

'Frost/Nixon'

 

 

2

4

4

 

4

'Milk'

2

4

 

3

2

2

1

'Revolutionary Road'

5

3

 

5

   

 

'Slumdog Millionaire'

1

2

3

1

1

1

2

BEST ACTOR Adams Brevet Breznican Harris Feinberg Musto Travers
Josh Brolin, 'W.'          

5

 
Leo DiCaprio, 'Revolutionary Road

4

3

 

 

   

 

Clint Eastwood, 'Gran Torino'

2

5

5

4

2

 

2

Richard Jenkins,

'The Visitor'

5

 

4

 

5

4

5

Frank Langella, 'Frost/Nixon'

3

4

1

2

4

3

4

Sean Penn, 'Milk'

1

2

3

1

1

1

1

Brad Pitt, 'Benjamin Button'

 

 

 

5

   

 

Mickey Rourke, 'The Wrestler'

 

1

2

3

3

2

3

BEST ACTRESS Adams Brevet Breznican Harris Feinberg Musto Travers
Anne Hathaway, 'Rachel Getting Married'

3

3

4

3

3

1

3

Cate Blanchett, 'Benjamin Button'

 

1

 

 

4

 

5

Angelina Jolie, 'Changeling'

 

 

1

 

   

 

Melissa Leo, 'Frozen River'

4

4

   

5

5

5

Meryl Streep, 'Doubt'

2

5

3

2

1

2

4

Kristin Scott Thomas, 'I've Loved You So Long'

5

 

5

4

 

4

1

Kate Winslet, 'Revolutionary Road'

1

2

2

1

2

3

2

Michelle Williams, 'Wendy & Lucy'

     

5

     

Photo: Fox Searchlight


Clint Eastwood may give up acting (and singing) after 'Gran Torino' | 'The Reader' prompts accusation of double standard | Grammy hello and Oscar goodbye

December 3, 2008 |  3:46 pm

• In his most recent column, Pete Hammond writes of the first press screening of "Gran Torino" attended by the film's director and star Clint Eastwood, who talked about retiring from acting. For Pete, "If 'Gran Torino' does prove to be his acting swan song, he couldn't have picked a better way to go out. As a grizzled, racist, foul-mouthed ex-Marine refusing to move from an old neighborhood now populated  with Asians and overrun by gangs, Eastwood summons up memories from his past roles." Notes on A Season

• And speaking of all things Clint, those cheeky wags behind the Vulture column at New York magazine take a listen to his crooning of the title track from "Gran Torino." Their review? "In their infinite benevolence, Warner Bros. Clint_eastwood_sings has created a 'For Your Consideration' website for the musical score for 'Gran Torino' — which features the plaintive, heartfelt balladeering of grizzled, 78-year-old actor-director Clint Eastwood! Sounding not unlike Tom Waits with a punctured lung, Eastwood eschews Auto-Tune, rendering the film's title song possibly the most terrific thing we've heard all week. We can't wait to see him do this live at the Oscars." New York Vulture

• Pop & Hiss crackles with an item about the opening of the Grammy Museum in L.A. this weekend. "The Tuesday morning preview revealed the new facility to be a heavily interactive exhibition hall, one whose emphasis is not on past trophy winners or even historic artifacts but instead on music education and appreciation. The 30,000-square-foot space, which comes complete with a 200-seat theater, essentially functions as a hands-on gallery." Pop & Hiss

Otto Spoerri, controller of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1978 until 2002, died Saturday at age 75 in his hometown of Zurich, Switzerland.  While Spoerri oversaw the academy’s accounting department, he was better known as the person who determined seating arrangements at the annual Oscars. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal once called him "the ultimate arbiter of industry power," and the Associated Press referred to him as "the most powerful person in Hollywood." Despite the media attention, Spoerri laughed off his annual 15 minutes of fame, saying that the task was really pretty straightforward. "It’s just working with the producer of the broadcast to make sure that where people sit makes the show flow smoothly," he explained. AMPAS

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• Our pal Thelma Adams, film critic for Us Weekly, also contributes to the Huffington Post from time to time. This week she raises the provocative issue of the double standard applied in "The Reader," which features a sexual relationship between a thirtysomething woman (Kate Winslet) and a teenage boy (David Kross). As Thelma writes, "Reverse the genders — older man deflowers underage girl — and there would be a public outcry." She also says, "Michael is both the victim of abuse, and lost in his continued love for his abuser, because nothing since has come close to that intensity. Emotionally, he stopped growing at 15." Huffington Post

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post recaps the latest in Tom Cruise's WWII thriller, "Valkyrie," and its rocky road to release. With the film not being screened in time to be considered for critics kudos and with advance word less than stellar, Lou concludes its best awards hopes may well be the Razzies. New York Post

Patrick Goldstein delivers the Big Picture with his report on the recent raucous screening of "Frost/Nixon" in the nation's capital. The screening concluded with a war of words between Fox News anchor Chris Wallace and journalist James Reston Jr., who was one of Frost's researchers for the original interviews. Big Picture

Timothy Gray of Variety takes an interesting look at why some of the most prestigious kudos of the awards season — DGA and WGA for example — are not televised. It seems the potential license fees do not outweigh the economic and artistic costs of publicly airing these private affairs. "DGA president Michael Apted said broadcasters frequently woo the guild, but they always decline. 'We honor the craft,' Apted emphasized, 'and we do it at an event where members can let their hair down.'" No doubt DGA is especially happy that its last award ceremony wasn't televised considering the wacky outbursts by actress Sean Young, who was briskly escorted from the ceremony. Afterward, she issued a formal apology and entered alcohol rehab. Variety

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• Why don't Oscar voters take comic films more seriously? "Maybe it's just the dichotomy of laughs versus seriousness," Ben Stiller tells Envelope blogger Scott Feinberg. Sarah Jessica Parker pipes in: "It might look like it comes easily, but there's enormous choreography to it, there's endless rehearsing of timing, thinking about your environment, props . . . . It's hard — it's wonderfully hard. " Read more and listen to their podcasts HERE.

Nelson Branco of TV Guide Canada freaks out "Young and the Restless" star Christian LeBlanc when he asks the two-time Emmy champ what he thinks about the news that his network, CBS, has declined to telecast the Daytime Emmy ceremony this year. Apparently, he hadn't heard the news.

• New York Times Carpetbagger David Carr blames himself for the loss of "The Wrestler" to "Frozen River" at the Gotham Awards since Carr sat at the Fox Searchlight table and considers himself to be "kudo kryptonite." The Bagger likes the Gothams because they're kept "on the down low . . . .  There are lots of laughs, very little in the way of star posses, and the security is very mellow." Apparently, the event's security guards weren't tempted to toss him out when he started glowing green in the dark and was body-slammed by Mickey Rourke. READ MORE.

• Speaking of the Gotham Awards, Guy Lodge of InContention is mightily impressed at how hot "Frozen River" is proving in early awards: "If it continues to emerge as this year’s indie Cinderella story, I’ll be interested to see what notice the academy takes of it. I sense a best original screenplay nod for Courtney Hunt is a genuine possibility considering the dearth of heavyweights in that field. At the very least, however, the more momentum the film gains, the more I like [Melissa] Leo’s chances of a well-deserved best actress nod. "

Photos: Paramount, Weinstein Co., Warner Bros./New Line, DreamWorks


OSCARS PREDIX: Hey, Meryl Streep — Watch out for Kate Winslet!

November 11, 2008 | 11:55 am

Meryl_streep_kate_winslet

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Dark Knight" assume the win, place and show positions in the Oscars' race for best picture, according to our latest batch of prognosticators: Brad Brevet (Rope of Silicon), Anthony Breznican (USA Today), Peter Howell (Toronto Star), Mark Olsen (The Envelope), Jeffrey Sneider (The Insneider, contributor to Variety), Kris Tapley (InContention.com) and Tom Tapp (TheDailyBeast.com).

Tied for first place in the best actor race with two votes each are Frank Langella ("Frost/Nixon"), Sean Penn ("Milk") and Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler"). Meryl Streep ("Doubt") remains ahead in the actress' contest, but Kate Winslet ("Revolutionary Road") has gained so much momentum in recent days that she's in solid second place, bumping Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married").

Compare these predix to others we pooled recently from other Oscar seers HERE, HERE and HERE.

BEST PICTURE Brevet Breznican Olsen Howell Tapp Sneider Tapley
'Benjamin Button'

1

5

1

 1

1

1

'Changeling'

   

 

       
'Dark Knight'

5

3

 

 3

4

 

 

'Doubt'

 

 

5

 

 

3

 

'Frost/Nixon'

 

1

4

 5

 

5

4

'Gran Torino'

 

4

   

2

   
'Milk'

2

 

2

 

3

 

3

'Revolutionary Road'

3

 

3

 4

5

2

5

'Slumdog Millionaire'

4

2

 

 2

 

 

2

'The Wrestler'          

4

 

BEST ACTOR Brevet Breznican Olsen Howell Tapp Sneider Tapley
Leo DiCaprio, 'Revolutionary Road    

5

5

   

3

Clint Eastwood, 'Gran Torino'

3

2

 

 

1

 

3

Richard Jenkins,

'The Visitor'

5

3

 

 

 

5

 

Frank Langella, 'Frost/Nixon'

4

1

4

1

5

4

4

Sean Penn, 'Milk'

2

5

1

2

3

2

1

Brad Pitt, 'Benjamin Button'

 

 

3

2

 

 

Mickey Rourke, 'The Wrestler'

1

4

2

4

4

1

2


BEST ACTRESS Brevet Breznican Olsen Howell Tapp Sneider Tapley
Anne Hathaway, 'Rachel Getting Married'

3

 

3

3

4

5

2

Cate Blanchett,

'Benjamin Button'

   

 

 

3

   
Angelina Jolie, 'Changeling'

5

1

 

5

5

 

5

Nicole Kidman,

'Australia'

 

2

5

   

4

 
Meryl Streep, 'Doubt'

2

3

1

1

1

3

3

Kristin Scott Thomas, 'I've Loved You So Long'

1

5

4

4

 

1

4

Kate Winslet, 'Revolutionary Road'

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Photos: Miramax, Paramount Vantage


VOTE: Which will win the Oscar for best picture?

November 9, 2008 |  9:13 am

Right now I think we've got two sure bets for best-picture nominations ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Slumdog Millionaire") and one good one ("The Dark Knight"). (To see what other pundits think, CLICK HERE for our latest predix rundown.)

My views are based upon the mechanics of how Oscar voting works. Remember, academy members list five flicks on their ballot when choosing nominees, but, really, only No. 1 votes count. (OK, and sometimes No. 2 votes too, but you get the point.) Therefore, contenders must have a high Rooting Factor and, when you see "Slumdog," you'll understand why so many gurus consider it a shoo-in to be nominated and even believe that it has a serious chance to win. (This year's "Chariots of Fire"?)

I haven't seen "Benjamin Button" yet, but the buzz around town has been deafening for months, and now it's confirmed by one top Oscarologist who's seen it. Check out the "wow" comment in Dave Karger's blog at EW.

"Button" has a few other things going for it. It's based upon a F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, so it has literary snob appeal (very important) and it's a big, long, sprawling epic (best picture = big picture in voters' minds) full of dazzling cinematography, special effects and music by academy darlings. That means it'll snag lots of nominations. Over the last 20 years, the film with the most bids has won best picture 15 times.

"Dark Knight" will get lots of bids in those tech races too, natch, which will help to lift it up to the best-pic slot. But superhero popcorn pix don't usually fly in the highest Oscar race, of course. This one's different, though, for lots of reasons that don't need repeating here.

Slumdog_benjamin_button_dark_knight

The other two best-pic slots are wide open. "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon" are strong possibilities because they're expertly made dramas based upon hit Broadway plays about real (important) people portrayed in powerhouse performances. They will have wide support in the acting and writing branches, plus others. (The directors' branch will pay close attention to past champ Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon.")  Usually, those types of films get in to the top race — like "The Queen" and "Capote."

I have some doubt about "Doubt," though. I think writer-director John Patrick Shanley made a huge mistake by adding one quick, throw-away scene to the film's ending that may hurt its Oscar hopes hugely. After productions of Shanley's "Doubt" on Broadway, the audience was often polled to find out if they believed the priest was guilty or innocent of child molestation. Results were almost always split, thus underscoring the drama's title. However, at the end of the first film screening in New York, I asked a dozen attendees the same question and (SPOILER ALERT — skip over this paragraph and the next if you want to remain in suspense) every single person said, "He's guilty." The reason: the glimpse of a white boy snickering in a church pew as Philip Seymour Hoffman bids goodbye to his parishioners. Since this chap is one of the boys believed to be molested by Hoffman, it's obvious he's snickering in triumph now. At a cocktail reception after the film screening a few weeks ago, I asked Shanley why he included that scene since it clearly seems to dispel all doubt from "Doubt." He got so offended by the question that he turned away from me and bolted.

The reason this issue matters a lot in the Oscar derby now is the Ick Factor. Two years ago, the superb "Little Children" looked like a cinch to be nominated for best picture, but voters got turned off by its sympathetic portrayal of a child molestor. That same ickiness might not apply to "Doubt" if we didn't know what to think at the end, but since Shanley seems to settle the matter on film, he may have driven a nail into the coffin of his own Oscar hopes for best picture or director. The screenplay and acting races will probably still be OK. "Little Children" got nominated for those.

"Milk" is very similar to "Frost/Nixon" — a biopic driven by a fireworks performance -- and it's wowing early screening audiences. Surely, Sean Penn and supporting cast will be nominated by the gay-friendly acting branch. But how other academy members will swallow "Milk" as best picture is a mystery. "Brokeback Mountain" got nominated, but when it lost to "Crash," that was, I believe, clear evidence of quiet homophobia within the overall academy, which is dominated by ole str8 guys. Being the story of a militant, "Milk" is much more gay — in every way — than "Brokeback." At least a few queasy academy members will shut off their DVD screeners after just 10 minutes if they get creeped out by scenes of a craggy-faced Sean Penn lusting after cherubic James Franco in the subway, then Franco licking whipped cream off Penn later when they're naked in bed. Hmmmm. Do you think there's any chance that academy members Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine will put "Milk" in the top space on their ballots?

It may not matter. That's what is fascinating about Oscar's preferential ballot process. Theoretically,79% of the academy could leave "Milk" off their ballots entirely and "Milk" could still be nominated with only 21% first-place votes. There certainly is a large pro-gay contingent within AMPAS that may be strongly motivated to support this film about the struggle for gay rights now in the aftermath of California's ban on gay marriage.

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Oscars gurus smackdown, part 2: Pete and I take on Dave Karger's best-actor predix

November 5, 2008 |  4:28 pm

If you liked the bowl of Oscar raspberries that Pete Hammond and I served EW's Dave Karger yesterday when we dished Dave's best-pix predix, you'll gobble up our take on the best-actor derby.


Oscars predix: Richard Jenkins, Sally Hawkins and Will Smith zoom forward | Leo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood fall back

November 4, 2008 |  1:08 pm

What a difference a day and a new gang of Oscar gurus make! Proof of how wide open the derby is can be tracked in the vast differences between our newest pundit predix (below) and the rundown we published yesterday (CLICK HERE). Six seers participated in both juries. Our new group: Patrick Day (LATimes.com), Kevin Lewin (World Entertainment News Network), Michael Musto (Village Voice), T.L. Stanley (Gold Rush, Hollywood Reporter), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere.com).

Oscarsnoop154

Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") proves to be a dramatic dark horse, zooming from far beyond the pack of best-actor rivals (no votes yesterday) to leading it, being tied with Sean Penn ("Milk") and Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") for reaping unanimous support now.

Another notable leap ahead: Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky") from 3 votes to 5. Darting onto the derby track after no support yesterday: Melissa Leo ("Frozen River") and Will Smith ("Seven Pounds").

Notable fallbacks: Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino") dropped from 5 votes to 2 and Leonardo DiCaprio ("Revolutionary Road") from 4 to 1. Falling out completely: Nicole Kidman ("Australia") and Benicio Del Toro ("Che").

BEST PICTURE Day Lewin Musto Stanley Travers Wells
'Australia'  

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'Benjamin Button'

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'Changeling'

 

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'Dark Knight'

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'Doubt'

     

X

 

 
'Frost/Nixon'

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'Gran Torino'    

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'Milk'

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'Revolutionary Road'

 

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'Slumdog Millionaire'

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BEST ACTOR Day Lewin Musto Stanley Travers Wells
Leo DiCaprio, 'Revolutionary Road  

 

 

 

 

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Clint Eastwood, 'Gran Torino'

 

 

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Richard Jenkins,

'The Visitor'

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Frank Langella, 'Frost/Nixon'

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Sean Penn, 'Milk'

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Brad Pitt, 'Benjamin Button'

 

 

 

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X

Mickey Rourke, 'The Wrestler'

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Will Smith, 'Seven Pounds'

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X

       

BEST ACTRESS Day Lewin Musto Stanley Travers Wells
Cate Blanchett, 'Benjamin Button'

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Anne Hathaway, 'Rachel Getting Married'

 

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Sally Hawkins, 'Happy-Go-Lucky'

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Angelina Jolie, 'Changeling'

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Melissa Leo, 'Frozen River'          

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Meryl Streep, 'Doubt'

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Kristin Scott Thomas, 'I've Loved You So Long'

 

 

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Kate Winslet, 'Revolutionary Road'

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