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Category: Colin Firth

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Animal Kingdom' dominates Aussie 'Oscars' noms | 'The Hobbit' staying in New Zealand | 'The King's Speech' to Broadway?

October 27, 2010 | 10:41 am

Animal Kingdom poster • As Michael Bodey reports, "Crime drama 'Animal Kingdom' has swamped the Australian Film Institute nominations, grabbing a nod in every category for which it was eligible. The film about a Melbourne crime family overseen by a charismatic matriarch (played by Jacki Weaver) earned 18 nominations, with war drama 'Beneath Hill 60' next in numbers with a surprising 12 nominations. Jane Campion's British-Australian co-production 'Bright Star' earned 11 nominations, the teen novel adaptation 'Tomorrow When The War Began' earned eight and indigenous musical 'Bran Nue Dae' and the French-Australian co-production 'The Tree' grabbed seven nominations each. All six films will vie for the best film prize." THE AUSTRALIAN

Mike Fleming has the scoop: "Attorneys representing the Gotham-based real estate clan The Durst Organization are threatening to sue over the December release of 'All Good Things.'" The pic stars Ryan Gosling as a character allegedly modeled on Robert Durst, who was accused of murdering his wife and friend. DEADLINE

Kyle Buchanan considers whether or not Sandra Bullock will be able to avoid the curse that has befallen other best actress champs as of late. As he notes: "If all goes according to plan, Bullock's next three films will be 'Gravity,' an ambitious space drama directed by Alfonso Cuarón ('Children of Men'), an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's acclaimed novel 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Stephen Daldry ('The Hours'), and an untitled comedy that would find Bullock co-starring opposite A-listers like Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey." VULTURE

The HobbitRichard Verrier has all the details on the decision to keep production of the prequels to Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" in New Zealand: "The nation's prime minister, John Key, announced Wednesday that his government had reached an agreement with the producers of the two 'Hobbit' movies to keep the $500-million production in his country. 'I am delighted we have achieved this result,' Key said in a statement. 'Making the two 'Hobbit' movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage.' The agreement comes after Key held talks with New Line Cinema President Toby Emmerich and other executives, who wanted assurances that the production would not be disrupted by labor unrest. They also were seeking additional financial sweeteners, which they received." COMPANY TOWN

Jeff Wells examines the awards prospects for "I Am Love" leading lady Tilda Swinton. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Guy Lodge sings the praises of Emma Stone for her sparkling performance in the teen comedy "Easy A," and bemoans the lack of love from the academy for funny turns by pretty young things. IN CONTENTION

• The 2008 Tony best musical champ, "In the Heights," is closing Jan. 9. Creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won a Tony for his score, will be returning to the show for the final two weeks. PLAYBILL

The Kings Speech • As Patrick Healey notes: "If the highly anticipated Colin Firth film 'The King's Speech' performs well this awards season, chances are a stage version will come about relatively quickly on Broadway, in London's West End, or both. Michael Alden, a producer on the Broadway musical 'Grey Gardens' and the Sarah Jones solo show 'Bridge & Tunnel,' said in an interview on Tuesday that he was developing a stage production of 'The King’s Speech' after acquiring the rights to the work, about the real-life relationship between King George VI of Britain (the World War II monarch and current queen’s father) and a speech therapist named Lionel Logue, who helped him overcome a stammer." ARTS BEAT

• Reports Joyce Eng: "Justin Bieber, Ke$ha and Katy Perry will make their American Music Awards debuts next month as performers, producers announced Wednesday. All three are multiple nominees and will duke it out in the artist of the year race alongside Lady Gaga and Eminem. Bieber is up for four awards, while Ke$ha and Perry each have three nominations. Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead with five bids." TV GUIDE

Upper photo: "Animal Kingdom" poster. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Middle photo: "The Hobbit" book cover. Credit: Houghton Mifflin

Lower photo: Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

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One year ago: What Oscar pundits prophesized

October 21, 2010 | 12:29 pm

Up in the air oscars newsLet this be a lesson to all of us smug Oscar seers who insist that they know how the current derby will play out. Most of us now say that it's "The Social Network" versus "The King's Speech" for best picture, Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") versus James Franco ("127 Hours") for lead actor and Natalie Portman ("Black Swan") versus Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right") for lead actress. But true?

One year ago today, we weren't even talking about the eventual winners of lead actor and actress: Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side").

BEST PICTURE: Last year in mid-October we had a decent grasp of the best picture race in terms of leading contenders, but nearly all Oscarologists were betting on "Up in the Air." Just weeks earlier "Precious" had the most buzz. Expectations were building for "Avatar" but also for "Nine," "Invictus" and "The Lovely Bones." "Bright Star," which had already been seen, still shone brightly. Ditto: "An Education," "Up," "A Serious Man," "Julie & Julia," even "District 9." A surge was building for "Inglourious Basterds." "The Hurt Locker" was among top rivals, but it hadn't made its surge to the head of the pack. 

LEAD ACTOR: Fox Searchlight had not announced that "Crazy Heart" was about to ambush this contest, so all eyes were on George Clooney ("Up in the Air") as lead pony. Matt Damon ("The Informant") and Daniel Day-Lewis ("Nine") seemed like good bets for bids. Other top rivals: Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker"), Tobey Maguire ("Brothers"), Viggo Mortensen ("The Road"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus"), Sharlto Copley ("District 9"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Sherlock Holmes"), Robert DeNiro ("Everybody's Fine"), Mark Wahlberg ("The Lovely Bones"), Peter Sarsgaard ("An Education"). Final nominees turned out to be Bridges, Clooney, Firth, Freeman and Renner.

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' extras and sequels in the works | 'Glee' courts controversy with GQ cover | Cussing in 'The King's Speech'

October 20, 2010 |  2:17 pm

• On Tuesday, James Cameron revealed he will direct two sequels to "Avatar" simultaneously: "Our plan right now is to do two and three as a single large production and release them a year apart. In order to do that, we have to refine our technical processes beyond the end of where we were finishing 'Avatar' one year ago. We need to future-proof ourselves out five or six years to the end of the third film." MOVIEFONE

• Reporting from the Scream Awards, Katey Rich says that in anticipation of the Nov. 16 DVD and Blu-ray release of "Avatar," "Cameron showed up to present one never-before-seen clip, in which we meet Jake Sully back on Earth and see him as a bar brawler -- a paraplegic bar brawler, mind you." CINEMA BLEND

Kyle Buchanan sits down with "The Social Network" supporting player Armie Hammer, who portrays twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. As Buchanan observes, "Since there's only one of Hammer, that meant the actor was often acting opposite a body double whose face he'd be digitally grafted onto in postproduction (and when you consider the notorious amount of takes that an exacting director like David Fincher requires, Hammer's nimble pair of performances is all the more impressive)." VULTURE

Glee GQ cover • As Mary McNamara writes, "A mildly pornographic slideshow of photos accompanying GQ's November cover story about 'Glee' recently went up on the magazine's website, and the onslaught from parents groups has begun, with terms like 'pedophilia' being used and renewed complaints that the show is too sexually explicit for the tween end of the audience it courts." However, in McNamara's opinion, "the problem isn't so much the sex as the sexism. And the disappointing banality of it all." SHOW TRACKER

• The academy has revealed the five recipients of the 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, who will be honored at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on Nov. 4: Destin Daniel Cretton, Marvin Krueger, Andrew Lanham, Micah Ranum and Cinthea Stahl. AMPAS

Naomi Watts talks to Katie Hasty about playing exposed CIA operative Valerie Plame in "Fair Game" and reveals, "It's not about 'this is my chance to take a stance or opinion.' It's about the essence of the character. That was the case with Valerie. The fact that it was rooted in truth made it very compelling." HITFIX

Patrick Healy says, "Mike Nichols confirmed on Wednesday that he would mount a Broadway revival of 'Death of a Salesman' next fall starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman and Linda Emond as Linda Loman. Mr. Hoffman, an Academy Award winner for 'Capote' and a Tony Award nominee for 'True West' and 'Long Day's Journey Into Night,' has been eager to play Willy for some time, Mr. Nichols said in a telephone interview, and the two men have been making plans for a production for months." ARTS BEAT

Guy Lodge delivers the news that only those 15 and over will be able to see "The King's Speech" in British movie theaters. Both the Brits and the MPAA (which gave it an R rating) did so on the basis of a scene in which King George VI (Colin Firth) says the same curse word repeatedly as part of a speech therapy exercise. IN CONTENTION

• As Peter Kafka observes, "Conan O’Brien didn't really embrace the Web until he was just about out of his last job at NBC. But now he's in a well-documented digital bear hug: O’Brien and his team use Twitter, Tumblr and viral videos to promote the man and his new show on Time Warner's TBS. The newest venture -– a 24-hour live 'behind the scenes' Webcast, produced in conjunction with Google’s YouTube." ALL THINGS DIGITAL

• As Caroline Westbrook reports, "Abigail Breslin charmed cinemagoers everywhere with her role as an unlikely beauty queen in the 2006 hit 'Little Miss Sunshine.' But four years on, the cute actress is looking all grown up in a photo shoot for new magazine Bullett. Abigail, now aged 14, sports a goth look in the black and white pictures which could not be further removed from the bespectacled, gap-toothed seven-year-old she played in the Oscar nominated movie." DAILY MAIL

Photo: November cover of GQ. Credit: Terry Richardson / GQ

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Latest Oscar predictions: Lead actor

October 13, 2010 |  4:10 pm

King's speech 127 Hours Oscars news

Right now it looks like Colin Firth is far ahead in the Academy Award race for lead actor.

All Oscarologists know that voters are suckers for actors who portray real-life characters (Forest Whittaker in "Last King of Scotland," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote"), especially ones with handicaps (Jamie Foxx in "Ray," Geoffrey Rush in "Shine"). In "The King's Speech," Firth portrays Britain's monarch George VI struggling to overcome a stammer while rallying his countrymen to fight World War II.

Firth has something else going for him — the old Oscar Makeup Rule: If you lose one year, don't worry, you'll win the next. All of these stars (plus many others) won an Academy Award one year after being a losing nominee: Russell Crowe (triumphed for "Gladiator" after losing for "The Insider"), Jack Nicholson (won for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" after losing for "Chinatown"), Nicole Kidman (won for "The Hours" after losing for "Moulin Rouge!"), etc. Last year Firth lost for "A Single Man."

In addition, "The King's Speech" is a top contender for best picture, possibly even the front-runner to win. Academy voters love to give away an acting Oscar along with best picture (Russell Crowe in "Gladiator," Kevin Spacey in "American Beauty").

But that's also true of James Franco in "127 Hours," which will certainly be nominated for best picture. Arguably, he portrays a handicapped person too, since he chops off his arm while stuck in a canyon, and a real-life one at that (based on the ordeal of hiker Aron Ralston). He benefits a bit from the Oscar Makeup Rule as well, not as a past nominee, but as someone who should've nabbed the supporting slot for "Milk" in 2008, but got snubbed.

There's a third serious contender in this race: Jeff Bridges in the Coen brothers' "True Grit," which probably will be nommed for best picture. It's also a proven vehicle for Oscar glory since John Wayne triumphed in the role in 1969. Having won last year for "Crazy Heart," he wouldn't benefit from the Oscar Makeup Rule, but from the Oscar Bandwagon Effect that earned Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump") and Spencer Tracy ("Captains Courageous," "Boys Town") consecutive victories.

LEAD ACTOR
(Frontrunners)
Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

(Possible)
Ben Affleck, "The Town"
Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "Inception"
Michael Douglas, "Solitary Man"
Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"
Mark Wahlberg, "The Fighter"

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: Oscar exec Bruce Davis retiring | 'The King's Speech' tops Dave Karger's Oscar predix | Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead AMA nominations

October 13, 2010 | 12:13 pm

• As Nikki Finke reports, "This is truly the end of an era. I've just learned that Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences executive director Bruce Davis announced at this evening's Board Of Governors meeting that he intends to retire on June 30th, 2011, after 30 years working for the world's preeminent film group." Nikki also has a copy of Bruce's e-mail to the academy staff, which reads, in part, "When I leave I will have spent thirty years at the Academy, and more than twenty as its executive director. That seems like enough. Organizations and individuals both benefit from periodic shifts in perspective." DEADLINE

Roger Deakins will be feted with the lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers. The eight-time Oscar nominee will receive the honor at the 25th edition of the ASC kudos on Feb. 13. In a statement, ASC president Michael Goi said: "The Lifetime Achievement Award is a reflection of the impact that a cinematographer has made on the art of filmmaking rather than the capping of a career. It is our way of acknowledging a true artist in his prime. Roger Deakins raises the artistic profile of our profession with every movie and he will continue to do so for many years." ASC

Colin Firth The Kings SpeechDave Karger unveils his first top 10 list of best picture contenders. Leading the list is "The King's Speech," with "True Grit" in second and "The Social Network" in third place. As always, Dave provides expert analysis of each film's ranking. For example, he says this about "The King's Speech": "As soon as I saw this British drama in early September I knew it had the potential to go all the way in at least one major category. Right now its star, Colin Firth, is the man to beat for Best Actor, and it’s an absolute lock for a Best Picture nomination as well." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Using "Fair Game" as an example, Sasha Stone writes insightfully about the role of bloggers in the Oscar race. Says Sasha, "There is a filter between seeing films in screenings and how they eventually 'do.' The critics are really the ones who mostly shape perception. The bloggers can praise a film until they’re blue in the fingertips, but ultimately — it’s about the critics, the industry, the public and the Academy. Sorry, bloggers, but it just is. That is why seeing a film in a screening can sometimes be a misleading experience. If the critics don’t agree with the early blogger praise, a film will have a hard time passing the first test. That is why it’s always dangerous to get our strong opinion out there — others are likely to throw it back in our face should the movie fail. This happened to me with 'The Kite Runner.' I am always surprised when I like a movie that ends up doing really well in the race. It is a win-win for me." AWARDS DAILY

• With his usual savvy style, Steve Pond weighs the odds of four possible Oscar contenders making the cut: "True Grit" for best picture, "The Social Network" for adapted screenplay, Mel Gibson ("The Beaver") for lead actor and "The Town" for best picture. THE ODDS

Kris Tapley is aces at keeping track of the contenders for the animated feature award, and he reports that "it's looking more and more like the magic number of 16 won’t be reached in this year’s animated feature film race. By my count, we have 12 titles." IN CONTENTION

Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead the list of nominees for this year's 38th annual edition of the American Music Awards with five bids each. Eminem and four-time nominee Justin Bieber vie for artist of the year against Katy Perry, Ke$ha and Lady Gaga. The kudos will be handed out Nov. 21 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and will air on ABC. THE ENVELOPE

• The field of documentary short-subject Oscar contenders has been winnowed from 30 to eight, with three to five of them making it to the nomination stage. Those still in the running are "Born Sweet," "Killing in the Name," "Living for 32," "One Thousand Pictures: RFK’s Last Journey," "Poster Girl," "Strangers No More," "Sun Come Up" and "The Warriors of Qiugang." AMPAS

•The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced Oscar winner Sidney Poitier will be honored with the 38th annual Chaplin award at a May 2 gala. The Film Society's annual gala began in 1972 and honored Charles Chaplin, who returned to the U.S. from exile to accept the commendation. Since then, the award has been renamed for Chaplin and has honored many of the film industry's most notable talents, including Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and, most recently, Michael Douglas. FILM SOCIETY

Nathaniel Rogers notes that if Jesse Eisenberg is Oscar nominated for "The Social Network," he'll knock Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting") out of the top 10 youngest lead actor contenders. THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Michael J. Fox will reunite with his "Back to the Future" castmates at the Scream 2010 Awards. To celebrate the silver anniversary of this movie classic, they will also be featured on the cover of an issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Photo: "The King's Speech." Photo credit: Weinstein Co.

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Will 'The King's Speech' reign at the Oscars?

September 24, 2010 |  1:23 pm

Many Oscarologists like myself and Steve Pond (The Wrap) believe that the chief rival to "The Social Network" for best picture at the Oscars is "The King's Speech." The film looks like such a classic Oscar champ that, even before "The King's Speech" debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, Steve predicted that it'll win. (Love that daredevil pundit spirit!)

King's speech news"The King's Speech" sure looks like Oscar royalty. It was produced by Harvey Weinstein, who's won best picture three times in the past: "Chicago," "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love." It was directed by Tom Hooper, who excels at historical dramas, winning an Emmy for HBO's "Elizabeth I" and being nominated for the same channel's "John Adams." Both won Emmys as best TV miniseries.

There's a very good chance that Colin Firth, who was nominated last year for "A Single Man," will now wear the best actor crown for portraying Britain's reluctant King George VI. Firth faces tough competition from James Franco ("127 Hours") and perhaps Jeff Bridges ("True Grit"), but Firth has many pluses:

1) He portrays a real-life person, just like six of the last 10 champs in the lead actor race.

2) His character has a handicap -- a stammer. Oscar voters love to reward actors who portray characters who strive to overcome such adversity, like past winners Daniel Day-Lewis (crippled in "My Left Foot"), Dustin Hoffman (savant in "Rain Man") and Geoffrey Rush (mental disorder in "Shine"). Rush will probably be nominated in the supporting slot this year for playing Firth's feisty voice coach in "The King's Speech."

3) Firth is a red-hot actor with art-house cache, just like Philip Seymour Hoffman when he won for "Capote."

"The King's Speech" has the kind of gravitas, regal pageantry and historical intimacy that will probably see it nommed for direction, screenplay, costumes, art direction, musical score, etc. It might even lead with the most bids overall.

Films with the most nominations usually win best picture. What about "The King's Speech"? It will certainly be nommed, just like similar films offering backstage views of key political events in history: "Milk," "The Queen," "Frost/Nixon," even "All the President's Men." Those films often lose best picture, frankly, but can end up with a consolation prize for acting (Sean Penn in "Milk," Helen Mirren for "The Queen") or screenplay ("Milk," "All the President's Men").

However, there are notable exceptions, such as "Gandhi" and "The Last Emperor," which won best picture and other top prizes. So "The King's Speech" has hope of ruling on Oscar night.

Photo: Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

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Is the Oscar derby already over?

September 23, 2010 |  6:08 am

At this point, it sure looks like we have solid Oscar front-runners for best picture ("The Social Network"), best actor (Colin Firth, "The King's Speech") and best actress (Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"). It's very possible that all three could trot across the derby finish line without tripping en route.

The Social Network Black Swan The King's Speech Oscars newsHowever, we must remember how these top races appeared at this point last year. We knew that "The Hurt Locker" might be nominated for best picture, but that wasn't a certainty, and the front-runners were presumed to be "Up in the Air," "Invictus" and "Avatar."  There were still high hopes for "Nine" and "The Lovely Bones," even "Brothers."

Looking forward on this year's derby track, what can beat "The Social Network"? "The King's Speech" may be more to the taste of those older chaps in the academy, but "Social Network" is more to the taste of the edgy film critics who are likely to heap best-picture prizes on it in early December, giving it the same early momentum that paid off for "The Hurt Locker" last year. But, wait! Isn't it a terrible thing to be the early leader? That's a widely believed fallacy, yes, but, in fact, that wasn't a problem for "Titanic," "American Beauty," "The English Patient" and many other eventual champs.

BEST-ACTOR RACE: "Crazy Heart" wasn't even scheduled to be released in 2009 at this point on last year's calendar, so Jeff Bridges wasn't yet in the running. The contest seemed to be a slugfest between George Clooney ("Up in the Air"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("Nine"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus"), Tobey Maguire ("Brothers") and Viggo Mortensen ("The Road"). Only Clooney and Freeman ended up with nominations.

Right now, it looks like the only contender who can topple Colin Firth for best actor is James Franco ("127 Hours"), but Jeff Bridges will be back in the derby, this time starring in Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit." The last version earned John Wayne the Oscar, of course, so we shouldn't rule out the possibility that Bridges could join the ranks of those few thesps, such as Tom Hanks and Spencer Tracy, who won back-to-back trophies. Also in this year's best-actor bout are Javier Bardem ("Biutiful"),  Robert Duvall ("Get Low"), Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network"), Ryan Gosling ("Blue Valentine") and Mark Wahlberg ("The Fighter").

BEST-ACTRESS RACE: We knew "The Blind Side" was coming out late in 2009, but no pundit except Pete Hammond (formerly of The Envelope, now at Deadline) took it seriously as a contender. In late September of last year, the leading contenders for best actress were Marion Cotillard ("Nine"), Abbie Cornish ("Bright Star"), Penélope Cruz ("Broken Embraces"), Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Helen Mirren ("The Last Station"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education"), Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones"), Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"), Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and Hilary Swank ("Amelia"). Nominees turned out to be Mirren, Mulligan, Sidibe, Streep and winner Bullock.

Continue reading »

'The King's Speech' reigns among Oscar contenders

September 7, 2010 |  6:42 am
The kings speech colin firth news

Summing up the big buzz at the Telluride Film Festival, the Hollywood Reporter noted that "the prevailing wisdom was that the event had launched yet another serious Oscar contender in the British royalty drama 'The King's Speech.'"

"Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are sure-thing nominees" for best lead and supporting actor as Britain's stammering monarch George VI and his speech therapist, reports Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood). "The film itself is a strong Best Picture prospect to say the least. Harvey [Weinstein] is back in the Oscar game with this one, no doubt."

IndieWire's Tim Appelo reports, "The big worship winner and potential Oscar magnet I’ve seen so far at Telluride 2010 is the world premiere of [director] Tom Hooper's 'The King’s Speech.'"

L.A. Times scribe John Horn (24 Frames) hails the film as "so affecting" and interviews the filmmakers.

Photo: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech" Credit: Weinstein Co.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars odd couple | 'Lost' actors find new work

February 25, 2010 |  5:05 pm

Bill Mechanic Adam Shankman OscarsAnthony Breznican interviews rookie Oscars producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman and discovers "the division of labor is simple: Mechanic puts together the show; Shankman puts ON the show." He notes that "they liked last year's innovation of having five past Oscar winners coming out to introduce the individual acting contenders. But Shankman and Mechanic want the presenters to have some past connection to the person they're introducing. 'For things where you can't have a connection, for example documentary short, we'll put a comedian,' Shankman adds. 'We'll put an entertainment value there.' As for other entertainment, 'there will be two big dance numbers. Though Shankman doesn't want to reveal too much, smart money is on a few awards being presented within a dance routine." USA TODAY

• While the first three Oscar presenters announced were last year's living acting winners, the next four were all teen sensations (Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart), and the newest is the one-man media powerhouse Tyler Perry. As the press release notes, "Perry, who is the driving force behind Tyler Perry Studios, writes, produces and directs films in which he also often performs. Perry wrote, produced and starred in 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' in 2005. His subsequent film credits include 'Madea’s Family Reunion,' 'Daddy’s Little Girls,' 'Why Did I Get Married?' 'Meet the Browns,' 'The Family That Preys' and 'I Can Do Bad All by Myself.' " The announcement omits Perry's executive producing credit on the best picture nominee "Precious." AMPAS

• The official calendar for the 64th annual Tony Awards has been released with these key dates: eligibility cutoff (April 29), nomination announcement (May 4), nominees' press reception (May 5), nominees' private reception (May 20) and the award ceremony (June 13).  TONYS

Lost_LogoWilliam Keck reports that "Lost" Emmy winner Terry O'Quinn "is shopping around a bible for a TNT-type show that would pair him back up with his real-life chum and on-screen foe, Michael Emerson (Ben), as suburban hit men juggling family issues. Though Terry asked me not to spill show specifics, he has spoken with 'Lost' creator J.J. Abrams about the project and says, 'I really hope this works out because Michael would be in his prime in this. We’d play kind of awkward partners.'" TV GUIDE

Dave Karger says, that "with so many of the acting races already sewn up at the Oscars this year, Missy Schwartz and I decided to turn the spotlight on four underdog nominees that we’re rooting for with passion … and not a little futility. True, these four performers don’t have a shot in Hades to reach the Kodak Theatre stage on March 7, but that doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of our love." Dave's personal picks are the two BAFTA lead acting winners -- Colin Firth ("A Single Man") and Carey Mulligan ("An Education") -- while Missy opts for Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") and Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air").   ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• In the first of a series, Melena Ryzik answers readers' questions on the Oscars. The first query -- the difference between sound editing and sound mixing? Melena turns to Oscar-winning sound editor Alan Robert Murray, who explains that the supervising sound editor "is like 'the architect or planner of the soundtrack, meaning he designs and sets up everything having to do with sound effects, dialogue -- nothing to do with music, that’s a whole separate thing -- then would go out and record sounds for the production that he needs, design specific things the director wants,' whether that’s an invented audio effect or simply the sound of a door closing. When it’s ready, all of that audio goes to the sound-mixing stage. 'The sound mixers mix the dialogue at a level that you can hear it, they add the music into the movie and interweave that with all the other sounds, and they basically do the finished product, Mr. Murray said. 'And both are under the input of the director, of what he’s looking for.' " THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Top photo: Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Bottom photo: "Lost" logo. Credit: ABC

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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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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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