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

Category: Helen Mirren

Toronto Film Festival lineup loaded with Oscar hopefuls

July 27, 2010 | 10:45 am

TIFFlogo-1024x309 The 35th annual edition of the Toronto Film Festival is scheduled to include the world and North American premieres of a slew of awards contenders. This year's festival is to kick off on Sept. 9 and run for 11 days.

Among the 50 titles announced Tuesday are the following films that could well figure in the contests for kudos this year:

"Another Year" -- The latest domestic drama by Mike Leigh ("Happy Go Lucky") is centered on a middle-aged couple (Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen) and their assorted friends and family, including a saucy alcoholic (Lesley Manville).

"Biutiful" -- Oscar champ Javier Bardem won best actor at Cannes for his portrayal of a dying father looking for redemption in this film from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel").

"Black Swan" -- Darren Aronofksy's psychological thriller revolves around a dancer (Natalie Portman) in competition with a young upstart (Mila Kunis) for the prima ballerina position.

"Casino Jack" -- Two-time Oscar champ Kevin Spacey portrays jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff in this political drama from George Hickenlooper.

"The Conspirator" -- Robert Redford's film about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln features James McAvoy as a war hero defending a mother (Robin Wright) accused of aiding her son in the plot to kill the president.

"Conviction" -- Tony Goldwyn's stirring biopic stars two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as the crusading Betty Anne Waters, who worked tirelessly to free her wrongfully imprisoned brother (Sam Rockwell) .

"The Debt" -- Oscar champ Helen Mirren joins forces with "Avatar" star Sam Worthington for John Madden's thriller about Israeli agents on the hunt for a Nazi in 1965.

"The King's Speech" -- Colin Firth plays King George VI and Helena Bonham Carter his supportive wife, Elizabeth, in Tom Hooper's historical drama, which focuses on the work of a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) who boosts the king's confidence.

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: Betty White as host of the Oscars or Emmys? | Will Betty White be nominated for Daytime Emmys on Wednesday? | Helen Mirren seeing double | Drama League Awards details

May 11, 2010 |  4:21 pm

Betty White Emmy Awards • First Facebook fans petitioned to have Betty White host "Saturday Night Live." Now, following her critically praised appearance Saturday that earned the late-night staple its best ratings in 18 months, there are online campaigns to have her host the Oscars and the Emmys. At this point, Facebook followers are opting for Betty White to emcee moviedom's biggest night rather than TV's top kudos by a ratio of 20 to 1. While White has made memorable appearances in movies as of late, most notably as Sandra Bullock's sassy grandmother in last year's smash hit "The Proposal," her connection with television dates back to an appearance on an experimental Los Angeles channel in 1939. Since then, White has conquered every aspect of the medium, including hosting five hours of live TV per day in the 1950s and guesting on countless game shows in the 1960s — such as "Password," where she met her husband, host Allen Ludden — and starring in classic sitcoms of the 1970s ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and 1980s ("The Golden Girls"). More recently, White has cornered the market on crazy-as-a-fox guest roles. Along the way, White won four of her 16 prime-time Emmy nominations as well as a daytime Emmy for hosting the game show "Just Men!" and even a local one for her first sitcom, "Life With Elizabeth."

• There's a Betty White cliffhanger looming over the Daytime Emmy nominations, which will be unveiled Wednesday morning on "CBS Early Show." Will Betty be nominated for best supporting drama actress for her role as nasty mother of Stephanie (Susan Flannery) on "The Bold & the Beautiful"? Probably. It was the most powerful plot line on "B&B" this past year, especially when Betty's character died in Stephanie's arms. That episode is what was submitted to judges evaluating the award for best drama series too.

Lady Gaga was unable to attend the Echo Awards in March, so she accepted her three trophies at her Berlin concert last night. USA TODAY

• Looks like the Emmy Award for main title music will be handed out at least one more time now that the music branch has nixed a proposal by the academy's board of governors to bounce the kudo. The vote was 36 in favor of replacing this award with one for music in nonfiction programming and 85 opposed. Last year's winner was John Williams for the theme to "Great Performances."

Helen Mirren Madame Tussauds • Oscar champ Helen Mirren ("The Queen") has joined an even more exclusive club with the installation of her waxwork at Madame Tussaud's in London. As noted in the announcement of this new addition to the fabled collection of famous fakes, "Her figure resides in our A-List Party area and has a sophisticated look, dressed in a floor-length black dress by Asprey, which she kindly donated. The gown was originally worn at the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards and is teamed with black six inch heels." Among the other Oscar winners on display are George Clooney ("Syriana"), Judi Dench ("Shakespeare in Love"), Angelina Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours") and Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich"). And just down the hall are representations of the British royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II.

Taylor Swift had a double does of good news on Tuesday. First, she landed three nominations at the 9th annual CMT Music Awards. Then came word that she will be feted at the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards on June 17 in Gotham. The bestselling songbird pens many of her tunes and will be presented with the Hal David Starlight Award. Phil Collins and music producer Phil Ramone also will receive special awards at the event. Inductees include Leonard Cohen, Jackie DeShannon, David Foster, Johnny Mandel, Philip Bailey and Maurice White.

Drama League Award • A quintet of Tony nominees — Barbara Cook ("Sondheim on Sondheim"), Viola Davis ("Fences"), Sean Hayes ("Promises, Promises"), Liev Schreiber ("A View From the Bridge") and Christopher Walken ("A Behanding in Spokane") — will be presenters at the 76th edition of the Drama League Awards on May 15. This organization, which fetes the year's best play and musical as well as revivals of each genre, is unique among the theater awards in that it also hands out just one prize for distinguished performance. Last year, Geoffrey Rush won this honor several weeks before taking the Tony for his leading performance in the play "Exit the King." This year, 57 actors are competing for the award first given to Katharine Cornell in 1935. They range from A (Nina Arianda, "Venus in Fur") to Z (Catherine Zeta-Jones, "A Little Night Music"). Two other nominees — "Ugly Betty" costars Michael Urie ("The Temperamentals") and Vanessa Williams ("Sondheim on Sondheim") — are co-hosting the festivities. This year's winners will be the first to receive the newly designed award. David Moritz and his team at Society Awards crafted this new keepsake.

Top photo: Betty White with her local Emmy for "Life With Elizabeth" in 1951. Credit: Los Angeles Herald.

Middle photo: Helen Mirren meets "Helen Mirren." Credit: Madame Tussaud's.

Bottom photo: Drama League trophy. Credit: Drama League.

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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 »

Poll: Who will win lead actress at the Oscars?

March 6, 2010 |  5:28 pm

While most of the winners are seemingly foregone conclusions at this year's Oscars, the lead actress race remains too close to call. Most pundits put Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") ahead. She won with both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild and seems to have the most buzz going into Sunday.

But when you talk with actual Oscar voters, you hear many of them say that the film and Bullock's performance are too lightweight. You hear lots of votes for all-time nominations champ Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") as well as first-time nominees Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"). As for Helen Mirren ("The Last Station"), she will have to be content with her 2006 win in this same race for "The Queen." 

If you are among those who believe that Sandra Bullock will win, ask yourself: does she deserve to? That the question Pete Hammond and I discuss in our video chat here.

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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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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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My fearless, peerless, 100% perfect Oscar nomination predictions

January 31, 2010 |  7:04 pm

Oscar nominations will be unveiled Tuesday morning. Here's what the derby track looks like in my crystal ball.

BEST PICTURE
"Avatar"
"District 9"
Oscar nominations Academy Awards news"An Education"
"The Hurt Locker"
"Inglourious Basterds"
"Invictus"
"Precious"
"A Serious Man"
"Up"
"Up in the Air"

Vulnerable on the list above are "District 9," "Invictus" and "A Serious Man," which can be bumped by "The Hangover," "The Messenger," "A Single Man" or "Star Trek."


BEST DIRECTOR
Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
James Cameron, "Avatar"
Lee Daniels, "Precious"
Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"
Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"

These seem to be set in stone.


BEST ACTOR
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"

Jeremy Renner may be bumped by Viggo Mortensen ("The Road").


BEST ACTRESS
Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"

Emily Blunt ("The Young Victoria") might dethrone one of the above.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
Christian McKay, "Me and Orson Welles"
Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"

This is one of the toughest categories to predict because there are too many other strong contenders, including Matt Damon ("Invictus"), Alec Baldwin ("It's Complicated"), Anthony Mackie ("The Hurt Locker") and Alfred Molina and Peter Sarsgaard ("An Education"). I put Christian McKay on my list because he gives a flashy portrayal of one of Hollywood's most idolized heroes, Orson Welles, in what is arguably a lead performance. Like Woody Harrelson, I think he even has a longshot chance to beat Christoph Waltz, but McKay's campaign DVD was sent rather late. That could hurt his chance of getting on this list.

Continue reading »

Oscars' best-actress clawfest: Meryl Streep vs. Sandra Bullock

January 21, 2010 |  7:29 am

Oscars best actress meryl streep sandra bullock

We pooled the predix of the following pundits to get their take on the Oscars' best-actress derby: Scott Feinberg (AndTheWinnerIs), Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season, the Envelope), Peter Howell (Toronto Star), Steve Pond (the Odds, theWrap), Nathaniel Rogers (Film Experience) and Peter Travers (Rolling Stone). As the box below reveals, Meryl Streep gets four votes; Sandra Bullock, two. (The rest are ranked according to their likelihood of winning.) Check out how these Oscar pundits size up the best-picture contest here. See who they predict will win the SAG Awards here.

BEST ACTRESS Rogers Feinberg Hammond Howell Pond Travers
Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"

1

1

2

1

1

2

Carey Mulligan, "An Education"

4

3

3

Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"

4

3

4

4

Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"

2

1

2

1

Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"

5

5

5

Photos: "Julie & Julia" (Columbia Pictures), "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.)

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Oscars rewind: 'Slumdog Millionaire' tied for most European Film Awards nominations

November 9, 2009 |  8:53 am

Slumdog Millionaire Because of differing release dates, the nominations for the 2009 European Film Awards, announced over the weekend at the Seville filmfest, span three years of Oscars eligibility. Contending for the top prize are last year's Oscar champ, "Slumdog Millionaire" -- which earned six nods -- as well as best pic nominee "The Reader." Also on the list are this year's French and German Oscar submissions for foreign film -- "A Prophet," which also earned six noms, and  "The White Ribbon" -- and one of next year's hot releases: "Fish Tank" from Britain. Rounding out the list is "Let the Right One In," which Sweden passed over last year as its official Oscar entry in favor of "Everlasting Moments."

"Slumdog Millionaire" helmer Danny Boyle and scripter Simon Beaufoy -- who both won Oscars last year -- are nominees at this year's European Film Awards, which will be held on Dec. 12 in the German city of Essen. The other nods for "Slumdog" are a bid by Oscar-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle -- also recognized for his work on "Antichrist" -- lead actor Dev Patel and as one of the 10 pics in the people's choice category. Some awards purists would argue that last nod -- for a prize won by popular vote rather than being bestowed by the academy's 2,000 members -- shouldn't count in the tally, but the official nominations list includes this category.

Two years ago, 2006 best actress Oscar champ Helen Mirren ("The Queen") ended an amazing awards run with a win at the European Film Awards. Among this year's crop of best actress nominees are last year's Oscar winner, Kate Winslet ("The Reader"). Her competition includes one current potential best actress nominee -- Penelope Cruz ("Broken Embraces") -- but not another -- Audrey Tautou ("Coco Before Chanel").

For the full list of nominations, visit the European Film Academy website.

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Photo: A scene from "Slumdog Millionaire." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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Oscars predix: Who's ahead in the best-actress derby

November 5, 2009 |  9:07 am

Precious Gabourey Sidibe movies Oscars news

After piping in with their Oscars predix for best pix on Tuesday, our forums' moderators now stick out their thin, tender, trembling necks to forecast the best-actress race. Chris "Boomer" Beachum, Matthew "Boidiva02" Cormier, Darrin "DoubleD" Dortch, Robert "Rob L" Licuria, Andrew "andrew" Pickett and Paul Sheehan.

Only two actresses get the bets of all of these pundits: Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Helen Mirren ("The Last Station"). Yeah, I'm sure they're right about that duo. Those not putting their derby dollars down on Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire") and Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones") will regret it later. Personally, my fifth pick is Marion Cotillard ("Nine"). Check out our forums to see who other Derbyites are betting on in general; read reax to these specific predix here. Early fave to win is Sidibe, I think. Here are the views of 16 film journos we polled on the best-pic race.

BEST ACTRESS Beachum Cormier Dortch Licuria Pickett Sheehan
Abbie Cornish, "Bright Star"

X

 

 

 X

X

 

Marion Cotillard, "Nine"

 

 

 

 

X

X

Penelope Cruz, "Broken Embraces"

X

  

 

  

 

 

Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"

X

X

X

X

X

X

Carey Mulligan, "An Education"

X

X

X

X

X

X

Saoirse Ronan, "The Lovely Bones"

 

 

X

   

X

Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"

X

X

X

X

   
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"

 

X

X

X

Hilary Swank, "Amelia"  

X

       

Photos: From left, Carey Mulligan in "An Education." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics. Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious." Credit: Lionsgate

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Oscar has always welcomed the world

February 28, 2008 | 10:58 am

This year marked only the second time in Oscar history in which all four acting winners have hailed from outside the United States. The first was back in 1964 when the winners were three Brits -- Rex Harrison ("My Fair Lady"), Julie Andrews ("Mary Poppins") and Peter Ustinov ("Topkapi"), as well as Russian born Lila Kedrova ("Zorba the Greek").

Foreign_oscars

But Oscar has had the welcome mat out from its very first ceremony in 1929 when Swiss-born Emil Jannings won best actor for his performances in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh. And three of the first four best actresses hailed from Canada: Mary Pickford ("Coquette"); Norma Shearer ("The Divorcee"); and Marie Dressler ("Min and Bill").

While Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") are just two of the 36 English actors to win Academy Awards, Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") made Oscar history by giving the first French language performance to be so honored while Javier Bardem is the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar.

One of our most prolific forum posters, the aptly named Academy Awards Guru, has compiled a list of the nationalities of all 265 Oscar winners for acting. During the course of 80 ceremonies, they have won 306 Oscars (there has been one tie in each of best actor and best actress). Of these, 76 winners came from outside the USA to take home 85 Oscars. While 21 other countries have produced Oscar winners, it is not surprising that England leads with 36 of her citizens winning 42 Oscars.

Over the past 80 years, best actor has gone to a non-American 24 times and best actress 25 times while in the 72-year history of the supporting awards, non-Americans won supporting actor 19 times and supporting actress 17 times.

Continue reading »

Oscars theory No. 2: The babe factor

February 21, 2008 |  2:38 pm

When Oscar is not comforting the long-suffering wife, he can often be found in the arms of a young beauty.

Last year's best actress winner, Helen Mirren ("The Queen") was the first leading woman older than 40 to take home an Oscar in a decade. Up until then, the list of recent winners looked like the lineup at a beauty pageant: Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow. Personally, I think Mirren was able to overcome that trend by embracing it. At age 62, she's still quite sexy (remember her nude scene in "Calendar Girls"?) and she was brazenly frisky while out on the Oscar campaign trail last year, even appearing on the cover of Los Angeles magazine tugging at her bra.

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Granted, the younger screen lovelies would often win acclaim and awards by deglamourizing themselves to show Hollywood that they were more than just pretty faces. But during Oscar campaign season, off came the false noses, boxing gloves and trailer-trash outfits, to be replaced by designer gowns and comely coifs.

This year, classic Gallic beauty Marion Cotillard turns from ugly duckling to swan and back playing tragic chanteuse Edith Piaf. With her head shaved and her eyebrows plucked, the French actress, 32, is transformed into the "little sparrow" at the end of her troubled life.

While 1960s siren Julie Christie, star of "Away From Her," still sizzles in real-life, like Mirren, for this 66-year-old to win would be to buck the trend. Though this age bias is less blatant in the category for supporting actresses, older gals still triumph there only now and then: Judi Dench once, Dianne Wiest twice in recent years, for example.

Pace University proved the obvious a few years ago when it conducted an Oscar study spanning the 25 years before 2000 and discovered that best actor winners were, on average, five years older than their female equivalents. And seven years separated male and female nominees.

In the last 15 years only two actresses older than 50 have won an Oscar in the lead or supporting races: Dames Mirren and Dench. Meantime, consider all of these chaps north of the half-century mark who've triumphed during the same years: lead actors Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and Anthony Hopkins as well as supporting players Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman, Chris Cooper, Jim Broadbent, Michael Caine, James Coburn, Martin Landau, Gene Hackman, and Jack Palance.

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