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Category: HFPA

Gold Derby nuggets: ACMs still win night with lower ratings | ABC finds five hours for 'Lost' finale

April 19, 2010 |  3:15 pm

Carrie Underwood ACMs • The Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday won the night for CBS with 13.05 million tuning in to see Carrie Underwood keep her crown as entertainer of the year. With the other nets programming original fare this year, viewership was down 12% from last year's awardscast which had scored the best numbers in a decade. Lower ratings for these country music kudos bucks the trend this TV season which has seen increased audiences for everything from the Emmys and Oscars to the ACM's country cousin, the Country Music Awards, which were up by 7% last November.

Sharon Waxman delves into the mystery surrounding entry into the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. -- which puts on the Golden Globes -- and discovers that there is trouble afoot as HFPA president Philip Berk supports the admission of Lesley O’Toole over the objection of member Patricia Danaher. As Sharon points out, "the battle may be over who gets to control the market in writing for UK publications, but the problem is a perennial one for members of the Foreign Press, who get unmatched access to movie stars -- including access to transcripts from HFPA news conferences -- because of the prominence of the Golden Globes. The 84-member group accepts only five new members a year to protect those and other privileges, such as free travel to two film festivals per year." THE WRAP

• "Glee" leading lady Lea Michele is not one to hold a grudge. Snubbed by the Tony Awards three years for her performance in the tuner "Spring Awakening" -- which went on to win the best musical prize -- Michele will be on hand May 4 to announce the nominees for the 64th annual edition of these top theater kudos. Joining her at the podium will be Jeff Daniels, a nominee for lead actor last year for his role in "God of Carnage." While that play won the Tony, Daniels lost his race to Geoffrey Rush in "Exit the King." Daniels exited his play last fall but returned in March to tackle the other male role -- the one that earned James Gandolfini a Tony nom last year. TONY AWARDS

• A record 61 entries from 36 countries, along with 497 entries from students representing 122 U.S. colleges and universities are in the running for the 2010 Student Academy Awards. Winners of this competition -- now in its 37th year -- will be announced during a ceremony on June 12 at the academy's swank Samuel Goldwyn Theater. As the press release notes, "Since the program’s inception, Student Academy Award winners have gone on to earn 40 Oscar nominations and won 7 Academy Awards." The most recent of these was Pete Docter who co-directed the 2009 best animated feature 'Up.' In addition, Gregg Helvey, a 2009 Student Academy Award winner, also helmed the live action short nominee "Kavi" last year. AMPAS

Lost_Logo • ABC is devoting a four-hour block of primetime on May 23 to the finale of "Lost" and airing a special edition of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" later that night. In addition, the alphabet net will also salute the Emmy Award-winning series with other events on both coasts. As per Michael Schneider, "Exec producer Carlton Cuse let slip via Twitter last week that one event, 'Lost Live: The Final Celebration,' will take place at UCLA's Royce Hall on May 13." And comedy troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade will celebrate the show with finale eve events at their outpost in LA and New York as well. VARIETY

Juan Jose Campanella -- who directed last year's Oscar-winning foreign language film "The Secret in Their Eyes" -- chats with Bilge Ebiri about his second entry in the derby race having lost in 2001 for "Son of the Bride." As Campanella recalls, "the last few days, people started talking about it in blogs and stuff like that. I saw something in 'Entertainment Weekly' even. It made me very nervous. When we first got nominated, we thought, 'Oh, it’s a great honor to be nominated, let’s go there and enjoy ourselves. It’ll be like 'Son of the Bride,' it’s good for the movie, and that’s it.' And then the last week or so, I saw these things and I thought, 'Oh s***.' Because now I was getting my hopes up and suddenly becoming nervous. So, we went in thinking that we were in the running." NEW YORK

• In anticipation of his upcoming hosting gig at the MTV Movie Awards, Aziz Ansari says he has been busy catching up on all the potential nominees. "I've watched 'Twilight' a bunch. I've watched 'Avatar' 400 times. I have hit movies playing on Blu-ray at all times. I've been stalking Daniel Radcliffe. Whatever I can do to get the movies in my head." And he admits, "I want to make sure all the short films I do really meet the high bar that's been set by all the other hosts. I thought all the stuff Andy (Samberg) did last year was awesome, and I just want to do my own version." MTV

Top photo: Carrie Underwood at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Credit: CBS

Bottom photo: "Lost" logo. Credit: ABC


'Glee' and Adam Lambert hit high notes at GLAAD Awards

Michael Bublé wins big at Junos while Justin Bieber is shut out

Why was Taylor Swift skunked at the ACM Awards?

Will Daniel Radcliffe cast a spell over Tony Awards voters?

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' only 2-D on DVD for now | Peter Jackson on 'The Hobbit' | Drew Barrymore's fashion faux pas

Emmy predix: Best lead comedy actor

Emmy predix: Best supporting actor in a drama series

Cannes film festival competition short on Oscar contenders

Webby Awards pit Jim Carrey against U2

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Glee' in vogue with viewers | 'South Park' celebrates 200 episodes | Rachel Weisz as 'Jackie'

Emmy predix: Best TV drama actress

Seth Myers to host live airing of ESPY Awards

Can Oprah Winfrey squash Conan O'Brien AND Jon Stewart?

Gold Derby nuggets: Sigourney Weaver blasts Oscars over 'Avatar' snub | Behind the scenes drama at Pulitzers | 'Polytechnique' sweeps Genies

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Gold Derby nuggets: Can Jeff Bridges win with sentiment? | Greg Ellwood: 'Avatar' wows HFPA | Oscarcast producer takes to Twitter

December 8, 2009 |  3:19 pm

Crazy Heart PosterRobert Abele looks at the role of sentiment in the awarding of Oscars. As he writes, "compassion for those who have never won and who find their work again in the running becomes an issue once more. For instance, four-time nominee Jeff Bridges has a lauded turn as an alcoholic country singer in the December release 'Crazy Heart.' Is this his year, finally? Might he win because he's 'due'?" Vogue film critic John Powers thinks, "He's the great actor of that generation. Actors want to act with him. Directors want him because he has weight. He's the kind of person you could imagine the sentiment for, if it weren't for the fact that the industry has all the sentiment of a slot machine." However, film critic Leonard Maltin warns, "If you want to know whether or not so-called sentiment trumps other feelings at the academy, talk to Lauren Bacall and Juliette Binoche. They were the two most shocked people at the Academy Awards that night." VARIETY

Scott Bowles sits down with two of the stars of "The Lovely Bones" for a revealing conversation. As Scott writes, "For Saoirse Ronan, a knowing 15-year-old Irish girl already drawn to adult dramas, the movie is her grimmest yet -- and she was in 'Atonement.' 'This was the first time I felt like a grown-up and really absorbed the material,' she says." And for Stanley Tucci, "the 49-year-old who lost his wife, Kate, to breast cancer in April, 'Bones' was a test of how dark he could take a character and not let it invade a personal life already set on its ear. 'I've seen the finished movie. But to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how many times I'll be able to see it again.'" USA TODAY

Scott Feinberg recaps the Nov. 9 episode of Oscar hopeful Mo'Nique's BET talkfest: "Her guests are 2 of the mere 42 black actors who have ever received Oscar nominations: her good friends Terrence Howard ('Hustle and Flow,' 2005) and Taraji P. Henson ('The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,' 2008), and before long the conversation shifts to a frank discussion about the good, bad and ugly aspects of an Oscar campaign." Scott thinks, "this may have been a turning point in Mo’Nique’s personal outlook/willingness to do the work necessary to snag an Oscar, as it provided her with answers to questions that apparently kept her from joining her 'Precious' castmates at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals and from doing some of the other promotional duties that come with a full-fledged awards push -- things that she has subsequently seemed more willing to do." AND THE WINNER IS

Avatar PosterGreg Ellwood reports that the HFPA screening of "Avatar" Monday went so well that it is "now very likely to be nominated in both the best picture (drama) and best director categories when the Golden Globe nominations are announced next Tuesday. This was almost unthinkable a week ago and may push expected Globe nominees such as 'The Hurt Locker' or 'An Education' out of the best picture -- drama race. Additionally, this could (emphasis on 'could') find 'Avatar"' seriously being considered for one of the 10 nominees for Oscar's best picture trophy -- especially considering the eighth to 10th slots hardly seem secure at this point in the race." HIT FIX

Danielle Lawler details the extraordinary meeting between Lady Gaga and Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at the annual Royal Variety Performance. "The singer who loves to shock had hoped to perform the stunt -- in which she 'stabs' herself and is drenched in fake blood -- but panicking organizers of the Blackpool extravaganza ordered her to water down her routine. GaGa said: 'I wanted to do the suicide scene I did at the MTV Awards, but I was told it wouldn’t be appropriate. And not only has that been vetoed, but I have had to tone down my act generally. But all of that doesn’t matter because I’m a massive fan of the queen -- I was so excited and have even been practicing my curtsy.'" DAILY MIRROR

Lynn Elber says that Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais is promising gentle ribbing of the bold-faced names in attendance, telling "a teleconference Tuesday he'll avoid anything cruel or distasteful, but those younger, thinner or more attractive than him will face teasing. George Clooney, whom Gervais called a handsome, kind man and a fine actor, likely is safe. Gervais said poking fun at him would be like 'having a go at Mother Teresa.'" AP

Adam-shankman-sytycd • While the Globes have a new host in Gervais, the Oscarcast is being produced by a pair of  first-timers, and one of them -- helmer Adam Shankman -- asked his 48,000 followers on Twitter: "Curious: what and who do u wanna see on the oscars? What would make u watch?" Reports Gregg Kilday: "The fans responded in a frenzy. Lots of requests for 'High School Musical' stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, scattered calls for the kids from 'Glee' and Neil Patrick Harris as well as impassioned pleas for 'Twilight's" Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. And lots of Adam Lambert's fans demanded he be included." And Gregg says, "when Shankman posed the follow-up question, 'would u watch the oscars with more excitement if I cast some sytycd dancers if there are musical #s,' the fans went nearly berserk with excitement." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Dave Karger thinks, "Shankman is just having a little fun here, and certainly most of these ideas are unlikely at best." Then he notes, "it raises an interesting question: Should the Academy Awards, whose ratings have been slipping over the years, pander to younger fans by including tween stars and reality-show dancers even though they don’t truly belong at the telecast? (Let’s not forget that Robert Pattinson presented last year.) Or should the academy be most concerned with upholding its integrity even if that means lower viewership? Will you only watch the Oscars if Vanessa Hudgens is there? Or is Gabby Sidibe enough to get you to tune in?" ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Photos: "Crazy Heart" poster (Fox Searchlight); "Avatar" poster (Fox); Adam Shankman (Fox TV)

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Celebs help Golden Globes to dole out $759,865 to charities

July 31, 2008 | 11:16 am

Yesterday the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. presented $759,865 in financial grants to charities at its annual luncheon welcoming the installation of new officers. Announcing the grants at the Beverly Hills Hotel were celebs such as Aaron Eckhart and Jon Hamm. Acceptance remarks on behalf of the grants were made by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (Film Independent Inc.), Rosario Dawson (IFP), Dana Delany (UCLA), Dakota Fanning (California State Summer School Arts Foundation), Chris Messina (Sundance Institute), Elizabeth Pena (National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers) and Rosie Perez (Inner-City Arts).


Re-elected President Jorge Camara introduced the re-elected officers Mike Goodridge, vice president; Serge Rakhlin, executive secretary; and Meher Tatna, treasurer. The new Board of Directors is comprised of Mahfouz Doss (re-elected Chairman), Erkki Kanto, Lilly Lui, Paz Mata, Frances Schoenberger, and Armando Gallo (alternate).

"Despite last January's cancellation of the Annual Golden Globe Awards due to the Writers Guild strike that curtailed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's income, we're delighted to honor our ongoing commitment to support entertainment industry-related film school and non-profit organizations," said Jorge Camara, HFPA President.

Do early wins make Forest Whitaker an Oscar lock?

December 28, 2006 |  9:03 am

Sure, as of right now, it looks like Forest Whitaker will win best actor at the Oscars for "Last King of Scotland." So far he's won almost every critics' award and, based upon what I'm hearing from within the ranks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, he'll probably nab the Golden Globe next.

Sometimes these award juggernauts are impossible to stop once momentum builds, as Geoffrey Rush discovered when he claimed the Academy Award for "Shine" soon after pulling off wins at the New York and L.A. film critics, then Globes.

But as Edward Douglas of notes below, let's not forget what happened to "Gangs of New York" star Daniel Day-Lewis. He swept up victories from the New York and L.A. Film critics, then SAG members, but lost on Oscar night to Adrien Brody ("The Pianist").

Many actors experienced the same Oscar heartbreak after sweeping the early kudos, but Day-Lewis is an especially good example to cite because he and Whitaker have something peculiar, and spooky, in common: both portrayed sinister roles with furious, eye-popping intensity. Day-Lewis was street gang leader Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting. Whitaker is Uganda's bloodthirsty dictator Idi Amin.

It's rare that villainous roles win Oscars. It happens from time to time, yes, as we saw with Anthony Hopkins prevailing as a devious serial killer in "The Silence of the Lambs." But Hopkins handled the role with such flamboyant excess and a taunting wink that it was hilariously campy. Whitaker really lets loose, too, but doesn't wash it down with chianti and fava beans. Hopkins had something else in his favor: his film was headed toward a best-picture win and, when that happens, stars often get to go along for the ride. There's not much hope that "Last King" can do that.

Thus it's entirely possible that Whitaker's early romp really mirrors the experience of Bob Hoskins, who won best actor from the N.Y. and L.A. Critics, National Society of Film Critics, the Golden Globes and BAFTA, but then lost to a film legend overdue for an Oscar: Paul Newman ("The Color of Money"). Whitaker faces a similar situation at the upcoming Oscars: Peter O'Toole ("Venus").

Which scenario do you think will end up applying to Whitaker this year? Click on the "Comments" link below.


Photos, from left: Whitaker, Day-Lewis, Hoskins, Rush.

(Fox Searchlight/ Miramax/ Handmade Films/ L.A. Times)

Oscars mystery: Can 'Dreamgirls' win best picture?

December 27, 2006 |  7:53 am

Officially, "Dreamgirls" is now a box-office hit that'll probably earn more than $100 million, which is the magic number movies usually need to surpass in order to win the Oscar for best picture.

So now we must ask: Can it really win?

There are two ominous omens opposing it. The first is a lack of major support from print journos. "Dreamgirls" is missing from the ranks of many key lists of Top 10 Films of 2006 — not cited by the New York Times, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter and Chicago Sun-Times (Richard Roeper), for example. Reviews have been good-to-excellent (scoring 76 at, just not consistent, scream-from-the-rooftop raves like you see for "The Departed" (85 score) and "Letters from Iwo Jima" (91) — two serious "Dreamgirls" rivals. That's typical, though. More than 85 percent of leading film critics are guys, more than two-thirds of whom are straight. Testosterone usually blinds them and they get caught up in a game of macho swagger that's hilarious to watch when you see them gabbing at industry events. Sissy movies are not only dismissed, but pummeled like school kids by bullies. The critics' cocky strutting gets so out of hand that female critics start straining the hardest of all just to fit in. Sometimes even the gay boys, desperate for social approval, betray their own, but not always. Psychologists could have a field day analyzing the ridiculous dynamic of the phenom.


When that phenom occurs, it doesn't mean that the male-dominated Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will follow suit. Often, they'll break and go their own way, if they become suckers for a film's emotionalism. It's curious how one male-dominated group (Oscar voters) can differ so significantly from another (film critics). The reason has to do with proportion, methinks (about a third of Oscar voters are women — a much-higher percentage than among critics), and age. Oscar voters are north of 50 years old. They're head-strong geezers who aren't afraid to break from the hormonal frenzy of young gangs. They have the wisdom of age, they don't confuse romantic yearnings with weakness and they appreciate sentiment, especially if it's selling well at the box office.

Support is not just weak among some U.S. print journalists, but some foreign ones, too. That's really strange, because Golden Globe voters usually side with Oscar voters when the academy breaks from the critics' consensus. At the Globes, Bill Condon isn't nominated for best director or screenplay. When you ask HFPA members why, you hear awkward mumbo-jumbo about how they like the performances in "Dreamgirls," but not the aesthetic execution of the film. I don't buy the sincerity of that response, frankly. It's clear from the looks on their faces that some HFPA members just don't want to like it. That was obvious while seeing them at the special screening of a 20-minute preview at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles back in September. Before and afterward, I heard many of them grousing in the lobby about how they don't expect "Dreamgirls" to do well overseas, which matters to them a lot, being foreign journalists.

Or was their grousing a tribal response by mostly white people? This is the most difficult question of all to ask this awards season, but it's the key point. As one of Hollywood's top studio chiefs told me a few weeks ago, "Brokeback Mountain" lost the Oscar for best picture last year because of anti-gay prejudice. Not hatred. Hollywood is obviously a gay-friendly place. It's just that voters — the vast majority of whom are straight, of course — didn't see it as their film. The same thing could happen with "Dreamgirls" among the mostly white voters — let's be honest. They might like the film, but pull back a bit emotionally from it because they don't feel like they belong amidst an all-black cast. Let's not forget how, up until the recent joint wins by Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, only one African-American ever won a lead-acting Oscar: Sidney Poitier ("Lilies of the Field"). No all-black film has ever won best picture. One all-black film is tied as the biggest loser in Oscar history ("The Color Purple").


But Golden Globe voters picked "Brokeback Mountain" last year and they'll probably, despite some reservations, give "Dreamgirls" their award for best musical/comedy picture this year. Successful musicals usually win that category and chances are voters will want to acknowledge its importance in Yankee pop culture. Its only threat is "Borat" and voters can pay off that film in the best-actor race, giving Sacha Baron Cohen a separate chunk of gold.

When Globe and Oscar voters break from the macho groupthink of America's gritty print journos, we often see a sneak peek of that at the Critics' Choice Awards, which are bestowed by members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. They're mostly TV journalists who don't always goose-step with the mean print boys — they tend to be more in line with Oscar and Globe voters. This year they put "Dreamgirls" on their list of Top 10 films. "The Departed" and "Iwo Jima" are there, too, but what's important is they didn't shut out "Dreamgirls."

"Dreamgirls" is also on the Top 10 List of the American Film Institute, which occasionally breaks with the critics' gangs. If one of those rare splits is coming between tough critics and academy members, we need to see it happen here first. But "Dreamgirls" made this list.

There's another key sign that academy members feel differently about "Dreamgirls" — that, in fact, they love it. It's a story about showbiz, after all, and it's getting the most enthusiastic responses of all 2006 films from audiences at academy screenings. And, happily, many film critics love it, too. Most important of all is Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times, who wrote: "'Dreamgirls' is the entire musical package, a triumph of old school on-screen glamour, and we wouldn't want it any other way." It got one of the best rave reviews from the New Yorker, which declared that "a great movie musical has been made at last."

In the big Oscar picture, "Dreamgirls" will probably have another plus — the most Academy Award nominations, which usually foretells the best-picture champ. Over the past 20 years, the movie with the most bids has won best picture 16 times. The exceptions: In 1991, "The Silence of the Lambs" (7 noms) beat "Bugsy" (10), "JFK" (8) and "The Prince of Tides" (7). In 2001, "A Beautiful Mind" (8) beat "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (13), At the 2004 derby, "Million Dollar Baby" (7) beat "The Aviator" (11). At the 2005 race, "Crash" (6) upset "Brokeback Mountain" (8).

"Dreamgirls" could get 13: best picture, directing, writing, supporting actor (Eddie Murphy), supporting actress (Jennifer Hudson), art direction, cinematography, costumes, film editing, sound editing and mixing, and song ("Listen," "I Love You, I Do").

That doesn't mean that "Dreamgirls" will win, but it'll get a fair shot. Right now it's enjoying the spotlight of success, but part of that will wear off in weeks ahead as initial excitement levels off.

Then we can expect renewed surges for its chief rivals after "The Departed" wins best drama picture at the Globes and sentiment builds for Marty Scorsese to win his overdue Oscar for best director. Remember, that award usually pairs off with best picture. Historically, anyway. The voting pattern has split over the past six years. Three times the two awards have lined up and three times they haven't. The fact that there's a strong pull toward Scorsese right now signifies a pulling away from "Dreamgirls'" Bill Condon and therefore, maybe, "Dreamgirls."

There will also be a tugging away from "Dreamgirls" in favor of rewarding Clint Eastwood for taking a bold artistic chance with "Letters from Iwo Jima," which seems very different, very special.

"Dreamgirls" might fend off such tugs. The last musical to win best picture managed to do so — "Chicago" — when voters wished to reward an overdue director (Roman Polanski).

But — hmmmm — can "Dreamgirls"?

There's a big, perhaps crucial difference between these two musicals. "Chicago" had a strong heterosexual vibe. Man-hungry Catherine Zeta-Jones seduced Oscar voters with a naughty wink and a wiggle of naked thigh. Its story line was rather macho as it invited viewers to cheer on characters to get away with murder. "Dreamgirls," by contrast, features pretty gals in pretty dresses, but in a camp way, making it a gay man's dream. Uh-oh. Too "Brokeback Mountain"?

My Golden Globes predix: Mel Gibson will be the big story

December 13, 2006 |  3:32 pm


"Dreamgirls" will get the most nominations Thursday morning when the Golden Globe bids will be unveiled at 8:35 a.m. ET, but I have a hunch that Mel Gibson will be the big media story.

Look for the Hollywood bad boy to rebound from his recent scandal by being nominated for best director. Or if he's not in that category, he'll nab a bid as best producer if "Apocalypto" pops up in the race for best-foreign language film. Yes, foreign-language film, not best drama picture. Explanation below.

Mel will probably surface in either category (or both) because Gibson is a Golden Globes darling. It was at the Globes of 1995 that he got launched Oscar-bound when he pulled off a shocking upset to win best director for "Braveheart." His Scottish battle epic lost the Globe for best drama picture to "Sense and Sensibility," but it ended up slaying the latter literary sudser when both met up later at the Oscars.

"Apocalypto" is not eligible to be nominated for best drama picture because that category is reserved only for English-language movies. The Globes define their foreign-film category by language, the Oscars by nation. Even though "Apocalypto" is an American movie produced in Hollywood, its spoken language is Mayan, so it must compete in the race for best foreign-language film. Same is true for Clint Eastwood's "Letters of Iwo Jima," which is in Japanese.

And speaking of foreigners and weirdness, watch out for "Borat." Certainly, it'll be nominated for best comedy/musical picture and Sacha Baron Cohen will be up for best actor, but its chances to win may be no laughing matter, even though nominated against superhot "Dreamgirls." Remember: it's about a foreign journalist who feels oddly out of place in America. Now remember who votes for the Globes: the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Here's my full list of bold, fearless Globe predix. Right now they may look totally brilliant, but by tomorrow they'll probably look very, very foolish. But I am a true kudos braveheart! Read on:

"The Departed"
"Flags of Our Fathers"
"Pursuit of Happyness"
"The Queen"

"Blood Diamond"
"Little Children"
"United 93"

"Little Miss Sunshine"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"The Holiday"

"Kinky Boots"
"Miss Potter"
"Thank You for Smoking"

Bill Condon, "Dreamgirls"
Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers"
Mel Gibson, "Apocalypto"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"
Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"

Pedro Almodovar, "Volver"
Robert De Niro, "The Good Shepherd"
Stephen Frears, "The Queen"

Leo DiCaprio, "The Departed"
Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"
Peter O'Toole, "Venus"
Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"
Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"

Matt Damon, "The Good Shepherd"
Hugh Jackman, "The Fountain"
Toby Jones, "Infamous"
Edward Norton, "The Illusionist"
Ryan Phillipe, "Flags of Our Fathers"
Michael Sheen, "The Queen"
Ken Watanabe, "Letters from Iwo Jima"

Penelope Cruz, "Volver"
Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"
Sienna Miller, "Factory Girl"
Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Kate Winslet, "Little Children"

Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Sherrybaby"
Elizabeth Reaser, "Sweet Land"
Naomi Watts, "The Painted Veil"

S.B. Cohen, "Borat"
Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You for Smoking"
Will Ferrell, "Stranger Than Fiction"
Jamie Foxx, "Dreamgirls"

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Kinky Boots"
Robin Williams, "Man of the Year"

Annette Bening, "Running with Scissors"
Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Beyonce Knowles, "Dreamgirls"
Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"
Renee Zellweger, "Miss Potter"

Juliette Binoche, "Breaking and Entering"
Toni Collette, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Cameron Diaz, "The Holiday"
Kate Winslet, "The Holiday"

"Apocalypto" (Mayan language, U.S.)
"Letters from Iwo Jima" (Japanese language, U.S.)
"Lives of Others" (Germany)
"Pan's Labyrinth" (Mexico)
"Volver" (Spain)

"Black Book" ("Zwartboek") (Netherlands)
"Children of Glory" (Hungary)
"Curse of the Golden Flower" (China)
"Days of Glory" ("El Benny") (Cuba)
"Golden Door" (Italy/France)
"Nomad" (Kazakhstan)
"Water" (Canada)

Have Globes upped Cate and Abigail to lead races?

November 19, 2006 |  6:47 pm

Globequalificationssmaller_1(NOTE ADDED ON 11/21 — While much of the info in this report below turns out to be accurate, two key details are no longer true: "Volver" will not compete in the comedy lineup and Cate Blanchett will be eligible in supporting, not lead, for "Notes on a Scandal." At least one of these changes was made as a result of a studio appeal, but I don't know what's behind my erroneous report that "Volver" would be deemed a comedy. Perhaps my source was misinformed, but, strangely, he got all other info correct prior to at least one appeals flip-flop. Maybe two. Here's the original report —)

If a tip-off I just received from a usually trusty source turns out to be true, the qualification committee of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is really shaking up the Golden Globes derby.

Rumor has it that the panel has pooh-poohed Fox Searchlight's plea to put Cate Blanchett into the supporting actress race for "Notes on a Scandal." Instead, she'll compete for best lead drama actress opposite costar Judi Dench — and herself, too, as star of "The Good German."

The panel has also nixed the studio's recommendation to put "Little Miss Sunshine" star Abigail Breslin in supporting. Instead, she'll be in the lead race for comedy/musical actresses where she'll compete against — hold your horses, Derbyites; this news is a doozyPenelope Cruz. Apparently, the panel believes that "Volver" is a comedy (even though that corpse in a freezer is no laughing matter), but don't expect to it to be nommed for best comedy/musical picture. Being in Spanish, it's not qualified for that race, just the separate category for best foreign-language film.

In the race for best lead comedy/musical actress, Breslin and Cruz will compete against Meryl Streep ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Annette Bening ("Running with Scissors"), Renee Zellweger ("Miss Potter"), Catherine O'Hara ("For Your Consideration" — unless the HFPA put her in supporting, which I haven't heard any tattle about), Kirsten Dunst ("Marie Antoinette") and Dakota Fanning ("Charlotte's Web").

Plus Beyonce Knowles, but not "Dreamgirls" costar Jennifer Hudson. This is great news for Hudson fans who are cheering her on for the supporting Oscar, which she'll now probably win after nabbing the supporting Globe first. Had HFPA hiked Hudson to the lead race, it could've caused huge kudos chaos.

HPFA will not release final word about which categories films have been placed in until close to the announcement of nominees on Dec. 14. Nonetheless, I have formally asked HFPA to comment on this news we've heard and I expect a response on Monday.

Photos: Fox Searchlight/ Sony Pictures Classics/ DreamWorks-Paramount

Top 10 lead the Oscar best picture race

November 3, 2006 |  6:39 am

At this early point in the derby, the dash for best picture has already narrowed considerably to a pack of 10 lead ponies.

Out front: "Babel," "Bobby," "The Departed," "Dreamgirls" "Flags of Our Fathers," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Pursuit of Happyness," "The Queen," "United 93" and "Volver."

Others in the running, but yards behind (more on that later): "Blood Diamond," "Borat," "The Painted Veil," "The Good German," "The Good Shepherd," "Last King of Scotland," "Little Children" and "World Trade Center."


My biggest track bet stays on "Dreamgirls" for now because it's a Broadway-proven, heart-squeezing, feet-tapping dramatization of a real showbiz story that was important to most academy voters during their youth, however much it winks its denial that it's not really about the Supremes.

Best picture winners usually must have a strong corresponding contender for best director — that's Bill Condon, who is emerging, finally, center stage among Hollywood helmers deserving a bow.

It helps that his arrival is relatively new (although I think he was cheated out of due recognition for "Kinsey") because voters like to crown big talent on the rise (Peter Jackson, "Lord of the Rings," Sam Mendes, "American Beauty") when they're not trying to make up for past snubbings of veterans (Ron Howard, "A Beautiful Mind," Steven Spielberg, "Schindler's List").

It also has what most best picture winners have: a cast of A-Listers (Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson).

In addition, it'll certainly nab gads of noms across many categories — that's key because the movie with the most nominations usually wins.

Beware: The best-pic victory of another musical, "Chicago" (which Condon adapted from the stage as screenwriter, but didn't direct), may be a fluke.

Other Broadway hits recently flopped when transferred to the Hollywood screen ("The Producers," "Phantom of the Opera") and no film with a black cast has yet won over the vastly white academy electorate.

Furthermore, it will need to prove itself at the box office, which is chancy. Musicals seem so old-fashioned today and so does its story line, although, happily, its telling is updated with hip new stars.

Even if it does well domestically, a black musical faces tough odds at theaters overseas, which could derail it at the Golden Globes where it's up against steep competish in that musical/comedy race opposite "Little Miss Sunshine", "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Borat."

In fact, two members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have told me — with sour, disapproving faces — that they don't think it'll sell overseas, period, which may affect how those foreign journalists vote.

Last, one of its strongest plusses and minuses is that it's about showbiz. Sometimes that helps ("Shakespeare in Love"), but usually, and quite strangely, that topic is a curse at showbiz's top awards — from the defeats of best-pic nominees "Sunset Boulevard" to "Nashville," "All That Jazz," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "The Aviator" and "The Turning Point" (Oscar's biggest loser, tied with "The Color Purple") and many others.

That means we must take rivals seriously like "The Queen," which not only has a hotshot overdue director (Stephen Frears), but features the best actress frontrunner (Helen Mirren) in a real-life role.

Often voters like to pair their best-pic choice with a lead-acting winner ("Million Dollar Baby," "Gladiator," "American Beauty," "Shakespeare in Love," "Rain Man"). Oh, yeah, and it's British (too many examples to cite!). Its reigning magnificently at the box office right now, although in shrewdly restricted release (only 152 theaters).


"Babel" has a hot helmer (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) and the A-List cast in a story relevant to today's headlines (hysteria over terrorism).

"Volver" has the strong director advantage, too (Pedro Almodovar) and the possible best actress winner (Penelope Cruz has The Babe Factor in a race crowded with older gals), although being in Spanish probably dooms its chance to win.

"The Departed" has surprising b.o., A-List celebs galore and the woefully overdue-director element (Martin Scorsese), but it's an actioner without an important message.

If "Flags of Our Fathers" gets into the top five, it will be given a major push soon after noms come out by the release of its Japanese mirror, "Letters from Iwo Jima," but Clint is so been-there-done-that right now and "Flags" is drooping commercially.

"Little Miss Sunshine" may seem too lightweight.

"United 93" came out too early and doesn't have a shot in the acting races, which is often key, but it does have behind it one of the most aggressive Oscar campaigners in the biz, a graduate with honors from The Harvey School.

Speaking of Harvey Weinstein, "Bobby" not only has major stars in a story of historic importance, but, yeowsa, it has that voracious Oscar conqueror, hungry for a comeback, mapping its academy onslaught.

Drawbacks: Its characters are mostly fictitious, Hollywood is a bit skeptical of its heartthrob director/writer (Emilio Estevez) and film critics aren't cheering it on. However, some audiences sure seem to be.

Pete Hammond reports at, "At the AFI Film Fest's "Bobby" opening, applause was so enthusiastic it was hard to hear the rousing, just-recorded, end-credits song co-written by Bryan Adams and duetted by Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige."

Advance buzz over "The Pursuit of Happyness" grows louder every day and it features a guaranteed best-actor nominee who could win (Will Smith), but it may be too sappy and its director is an unknown neophyte.

But sappy is good at the Oscars, as we know. Movies that move voters the most emotionally usually win ("Million Dollar Baby"). So far that looks like "The Pursuit of Happyness," even "Bobby" to some extent and certainly "Dreamgirls."

If the contest comes down to "Dreamgirls" and "Pursuit of Happyness", it would be a vindication for the academy, which, prior to the recent same-year wins by Denzel Washington ("Training Day") and Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), had been accused of being stingy to African-American films.

For now "Dreamgirls" has the most over-all advantages at this point, but it's still unseen and, frankly, if it's true that Bill Condon has played down the Effie/Florence Ballard role (Jennifer Hudson) as rumor has it, that could be catastrophic.

Even though the "Dreamgirls" spotlight is mostly on Deena Jones/Diana Ross (Beyonce) in both stage and screen versions, Effie stole the Broadway show so much so that its performer (Jennifer Holliday) stole the Tony Award for best actress away from the show's lead star (Sheryl Lee Ralph).

If Deena eclipses Effie too much in the movie, "Dreamgirls" loses its soul.

Of the movies in that second tier, "Blood Diamond" has doubters because director Ed Zwick failed to deliver on "The Last Samurai" and because it looks so commercial and because of rumors that Leo DiCaprio departs too often from his South African accent into South Bronx and Confederate South.

(If true, Warner Bros. may need to boost Leo up pronto to the lead race from supporting for "The Departed.")

"The Good Shepherd" suffers from skepticism about Robert DeNiro as a director and the fact that it's not a heart-tugging tale, but early buzz about the script is aces and the topic is a politically urgent one.

"The Good German" looks good, but a bit too commercial/suspense-driven and, strangely, George Clooney is making everybody worry about what he means with his oft-heard remark, "This is Cate's movie!" (Cate Blanchett, of course. Is that a compliment? Or dismissal?)

Like "United 93," "World Trade Center" came out early, too, and there's no huge groundswell behind it at this point.

"Borat" may become a monster hit, but it's too silly.

"Last King of Scotland" and "Little Children" aren't exploding at the box office and it doesn't look likely that "The Painted Veil," however good it is, will either, being a slow-paced period piece.

So, for now, "Dreamgirls" it is.

Photos: Two African-American movies are stand-outs in the best picture race. "Dreamgirls" is the early frontrunner because it's loaded with heart, superstars, a popular emerging director and it's likely to reap wide support across many academy branches. And it was a proven hit on Broadway, where, alas, it lost the Tony Award for best musical to "Nine" in 1982.

Many early viewers of "The Pursuit of Happyness" say that its potential is far beyond just a best-actor bid for Will Smith, since it's a well-crafted weepie based upon a real-life person in the tradition of past champs like "A Beautiful Mind."
(DreamWorks/ Sony)

Golden Globes = Oscars crystal ball?

January 17, 2006 | 10:44 am

In the past 62 years, 47 of the Oscars' best picture winners previously won best pic at the Golden Globes, but that doesn't equal a 75% rubber-stamp rate. The Globes, remember, have two best pic prizes — for drama and comedy/musical — so that befuddles the math. Still, the overlap is clear and impressive.

Of special interest is only considering films that won best picture, director and screenplay, as "Brokeback Mountain" did last night. Over the past 40 years 14 films have swept all of those races at the Globes. Six have not gone on to win the top Oscar: "Born on the Fourth of July," "The Exorcist," "Chinatown," "Love Story," "Anne of the Thousand Days" and "Doctor Zhivago."

All of the other triple Globe champs prevailed on Oscar night: "American Beauty," "Schindler's List," "The Last Emperor," "Dances with Wolves," "Amadeus," "The Godfather," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "A Man for All Seasons."

Over the past 20 years about two-thirds of Oscar's best actors and actresses won Globes for the same roles. The overlap percentage drops dramatically in the supporting-acting races and the directors' category.

Hammond says Ledger stands tall at the Globes

January 1, 2006 | 11:33 pm


My headache just went away. Never mind all of that torment I just went through trying to figure out who's going to win best drama actor at the Golden Globes. The world's reigning Oscar and Globes seer Pete Hammond already has it figured out.

Forget all of those film critics' awards to Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Capote." Hammond predicts a different winner. "I would say probably Heath Ledger," he emails me when I ask him what he thinks will happen. "They like the glamour boys more than anything else and the pic is their leading contender whereas Hoffman is 'Capote's' sole nom. If these two clash, however, and split that small HFPA vote, Clive Owen in support last year while saying that Morgan Freeman would still go on and win the Oscar. It's the movie star thing. I don't know that Hoffman is quite that for them. Who knows? Maybe they'll really go crazy and give it to Russell Crowe again. Don't hold your breath, Ledger!"

Photo: "It's the movie star thing," says Pete Hammond, explaining the edge Heath Ledger has in the Globes' race for best drama actor.
(Focus Features)

Globes' best actor: Ledger, Hoffman or Howard

December 29, 2005 |  8:41 am

Oh my head hurts trying to figure out the race for best drama actor at the Globes. Sure, it looks, at first glance, like a lavender tossup: take your pick between gay roles played by, to use hipster's written slang, "str8" chaps Heath Ledger ("Brokeback Mountain") and Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote"). Let's get to that discussion in a moment. Meantime, the presence of Terrence Howard ("Hustle & Flow") makes me reach for Advil.

Heath Ledger

Because Howard has a real — albeit modest — chance of winning. There's nothing Globe voters love more than hailing the Hot New Star during his or her "moment." It's their job. Voters, after all, are foreign journos who are intensely searching for breaking news and trends to trumpet in their publications back in Oslo, Cairo and Buenos Aires. They like African Americans (Denzel Washington won best drama actor for "The Hurricane") and art-house actors. Let's recall, for example, that the star of the arty film "Shine," Geoffrey Rush, beat Ralph Fiennes for best drama actor of 1996 even though Fiennes appeared in best picture winner "The English Patient" and was considered a red-hot property after breaking out big time three years earlier in "Schindler's List." But there was so much new buzz surrounding Rush in 1996 that it seemed to be his moment, so he won. Thus the question now: What about Howard?

HFPA members have witnessed his ascendancy up close. Howard was not among the cast members sent by producers to chat with voters when "Crash" held its HFPA press conference early this year. "He wasn't yet Terrence Howard, if you know what I mean," notes an inside source.

Photo: Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine believes Heath Ledger is riding high in the best actor saddle at the Globes, but beware: There might be an ambush on awards night.
(Focus Features)

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Is HFPA to blame for member's suicide?

December 22, 2005 |  6:45 am

"It now has blood on its hands."

That's the outrageous claim being made against the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. by a British media source reporting the suicide of a suspended HFPA member. Thus we witness a shocking new low in a favorite media sport: Golden Globe bashing.

Big Buzz magazine writer Nick Douglas recently hung himself in a thrift shop in Belfast, Northern Ireland, allegedly because he was depressed over having been suspended from HFPA for rules infractions.

"They basically took a livelihood away from a guy who was out there trying to earn a living," Barry O'Kane, managing editor of the local Belfast entertainment publication, told the New York Times. "It led completely, directly to what ended up happening to Nick."

But that allegation doesn't add up. O'Kane says he had to drop Douglas' column after Douglas was ousted from HFPA and no longer had access to celebrities. However, Douglas had only been an HFPA member for three years and O'Kane had no problem publishing the column during the previous eight years.

Furthermore, Douglas' yearlong suspension was technically over in September. His access to celebs had been fully restored to what it was previously, but HFPA wouldn't pay for his trips to out-of-town junkets and film festivals. That proviso will be reversed in another few more months, though. The worst of his troubles had passed.

At the time of his death Douglas was receiving medical treatment for depression, which suggests that he may have had deeper problems than not getting a freebie flight to New York to chat with Heidi Klum. Suicide seems like a rather extreme response to having to stay back in the HFPA hometown of L.A. where he could gab with Charlize Theron or Heath Ledger.

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