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Category: Joel Coen

'True Grit' updated: More laughs, more blood

September 28, 2010 |  5:26 pm

Here's our first peek at what Joel and Ethan Coen have done to "True Grit," an update of the 1969 Henry Hathaway flick that earned John Wayne an undeserved Academy Award. (After he won, Wayne admitted to a journalist, "It's ironic that I got the Oscar for a role that was the easiest of my career. I just hippity-hopped through it.")

The Coens promised to make their "True Grit" truer to the 1968 book by Charles Portis. "It's a very odd book," Ethan Coen told IGN. "It's much funnier than the movie." But the 1969 film seems much more overtly comic than the Coens' version when you compare trailers of the two adaptations.

"The book is a lot tougher and more violent than the movie reflects," Coen added. "Which is part of what's interesting about it." Obviously, the Coens will crank up the gore as they did in their Oscar best-picture champ "No Country for Old Men."

"True Grit" is the tale of a cheeky tomboy who presses a boozy, one-eyed U.S. marshall to find the man who killed her father. The book, unlike the 1969 movie, focused mostly on the tomboy. Hmmmm ... Does that mean Bridges will have less screen presence than Wayne –- and therefore less chance of winning a second consecutive Oscar for best actor?

Here's the 1969 "True Grit" starring Wayne.

Here is what the Coen brothers and Jeff Bridges have done to it.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Pond & Hammond: Oscar race recaps | Stone: Oscars for 'Harry Potter'? | Cheers for Matt Damon on '30 Rock'

September 24, 2010 |  2:14 pm

Oscars Academy Awards Statues • Noted Oscarologist Steve Pond begins his savvy survey of the state of the race as follows: "'The King’s Speech' and 'The Social Network' proved their mettle, 'Black Swan' and '127 Hours' stirred up passions, 'The Tree of Life' is officially out of the running, and 'The Conspirator' and 'Conviction' dinted their Oscar chances. With the first round of fall showcases behind us -- Venice, Toronto and Telluride -- and the New York Film Festival set to unveil 'The Social Network' on Friday -- the Oscar picture is clearer. But there’s still room for lots of movement, for favorites to fade and dark horses to come out of nowhere." THE ODDS

Pete Hammond turns his attention to those potential Oscar contenders that weren't previewed at the film festivals. He starts his rundown with the "Wall Street" sequel opening Friday and concludes 17 films later with the remake of "True Grit" due out Christmas Day. Pete is bearish about "Money Never Sleeps," noting, "sequels rarely compete and Oliver Stone’s 1987 original received just a single nomination -- and won Best Actor for Michael Douglas. His bigger-than-life Gekko remains its best chance to jump in the race, particularly with goodwill for the actor running high due to his cancer and memories of his acclaimed work in the indie 'Solitary Man' still fresh from earlier this year." As for the Coen brothers' take on "True Grit," Pete says, "John Wayne won an Oscar. But it’s really Mattie’s tale, so look for a possible supporting actress in newcomer Hailie Steinfeld. Thankfully, the La Beouf role which Glen Campbell screwed up 40 years ago is now in Matt Damon’s hands. And reigning Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges takes on Cogburn. Never, but never, underestimate what the Coens are up to. So this could also be the rare western to make the Best Picture honor roll. No one has seen it yet, though." DEADLINE

Lane Brown kicks off his must-read weekly Oscar futures this week. Leading off his list is this assessment of key movements in the best picture race: Up -- "The King's Speech": "A great trailer and an audience award in Toronto allay fears that it might be too boring. Plenty of probable contenders are still unseen, but for right now, 'Speech' is in a two-horse race with 'Social Network.'" Down -- "Never Let Me Go": "Okay reviews and not-bad box office. Hasn't picked up much steam, though." VULTURE

Harry Potter and the Deadly HallowsSasha Stone asks, "Is it finally time for AMPAS to recognize the 'Harry Potter' series?" Her answer: "The biggest problem with the films so far is that they’re only really good if you’ve read the books. Like the 'Twilight' series, the plots to these films don’t work so well without the filled in context. Filmmakers don’t need to work as hard because they know they have a built in audience. With the 'Harry Potter' movies, it has never been a question of technical excellence -- art direction, visual effects, costumes, makeup -- always first rate. But what about the story? Can this, the second to last 'Harry Potter' film either have enough gravitas, or depth, to place it in the top ten for Best Picture? The odds are against it. It’s a sequel. It’s an effects-driven movie. None of the other 'Harry Potter' movies have been nominated before. On the other hand, if there was ever a time to honor this beloved series, it is now. After seven reliable years of box office success, why the hell not. If they can award Sandra Bullock with an Oscar for her box office achievements throughout her career (but mostly for 2009), why not the 'Harry Potter' series?" AWARDS DAILY

• The romantic comedy-drama "Love and Other Drugs" has been slotted in as the opening night film of the AFI filmfest on Nov. 4 while "Black Swan" closes out the festivities a week later. Last year, those honors went to the stop-motion  "Fantastic Mr. Fox" -- which contended for best animated feature --  and "A Single Man," which landed Colin Firth his first lead actor nomination. AFI FEST

• "Modern Family" and "The Big Bang Theory" both fared well with their first episodes of the season. In its second-season opener on Wednesday, the comedy series winner "hit all-time highs in both viewers (12.7 million) and adults 18-49 (5.1 rating)" while Thursday's fourth season premiere of the showcase for lead actor champ Jim Parsons drew 14 million viewers and was up 4% among adults 18-49 from last year when it followed "Two and a Half Men" on Monday night. ZAP2IT

• Two-time Emmy winner Steve Bass has signed on as production designer for the 83rd Academy Awards. While this will be his first time working on the Oscars, he and the kudocast's director, Don Mischer, are old colleagues. They recently collaborated on the Emmy Awards telecast at which Bass contended for his work on last year's Tony Awards. While he lost that bid (his sixth), he did win for the second of his four nominations for the Grammy Awards in 2005 as well as for his work with Mischer on the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In the announcement, Mischer says Bass is "the perfect person for this year’s Oscar. He’s an innovative, creative talent who I know will do justice to the tradition and glamour of the Academy Awards." AMPAS

100924mag-30-rock-matt-damon1Bruce Fretts gives a cheer to "30 Rock" guest star Matt Damon. "In the fifth-season opener, the Oscar-nominated actor reprised his role as airline pilot Carol, Liz Lemon's high-flying love interest from last spring's finale." For Fretts, "Whether Carol was bonding with Liz over their mutual fondness for Muppets presenting awards or weeping about his desire for "grown-up love," Damon showed a refreshingly silly side in keeping with 30 Rock's anything-goes spirit. And we haven't seen the last of him, as Liz bid him a temporary farewell: 'See you Oct. 14!' That happens to be the date of 30 Rock's live episode. Sounds like perfect timing for a little more goodwill hunting." TV GUIDE

• Presenters for the 31st edition of the News and Documentary Emmy Awards Monday night in Gotham include: Lester Holt, Sheila Nevins, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, Bob Simon and Paula Zahn. "PBS NewsHour" picks up the chairman award while documentarian Frederick Wiseman is feted for his lifetime achievement. Emmys will be handed out in 41 categories including breaking news, investigative reporting, outstanding interview, and best documentary. NATAS

• One nominee who won't be attending the festivities at Lincoln Center is Robert Halderman, who made news last year for his attempted extortion of David Letterman. Recently released from jail, he is in the running for a "48 Hours Mystery" report on Amanda Knox. As per his lawyer Gerald Shargel, "he's not doing any interviews and just wants to return to a quiet and productive life." THR

Photos, from top: Academy Award statues. (Credit: AMPAS); "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" promotional still. (Warner Bros.); Matt Damon on "30 Rock." (NBC)

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Gold Derby nuggets: EW: Emmy debate over Conan O'Brien | Jonas Brothers 'super excited' about Emmys | Jeff Bridges displays 'True Grit'

August 13, 2010 |  1:12 pm

The_tonight_show_with_conan_obrien-show• Does Conan O'Brien deserve to win the Emmy this year for his short-lived edition of "The Tonight Show"? Lynette Rice thinks so: "The public has certainly been on his side (witness the I’m With Coco campaign that surfaced on the internet earlier this year). That’s why it seems unlikely that anyone at the Aug. 29 ceremony would begrudge O’Brien if he wins the statuette. We already know his comedy is worth its weight in gold; his team, after all, won the Emmy in 2007 for writing 'Late Night with Conan O’Brien.' And voters will probably want to give O’Brien the final word on the whole sordid affair and on NBC, no less, which is broadcasting the ceremony this year." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• However her colleague Ken Tucker begs to differ, arguing in favor of "The Daily Show," which has owned this category for the past seven years: "Jon Stewart plowed new ground this season, which is to say, he built up rage against so many worthy targets, and found fresh ways of expressing that anger through humor, that his show achieved a whole new level of comic effectiveness. He deserves the win." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Those sassy promos for the Emmys that feature host Jimmy Fallon in a tongue-in-cheek tribute to two-time drama champ and current contender "Mad Men" have been pulled for now. "An NBC source said the video was aired 'prematurely' and that no more of Fallon's 'Mad Men" spoofs will run until after the voting window closes on Tuesday. The video was also removed from online. 'This promo was posted prematurely,' said a TV Academy spokesperson, "and the Television Academy appreciates NBC pulling the content until after the voting window closes." ABC

Jonas Brothers Emmy Awards • The first season of the Disney Channel hit "Jonas" starring the Jonas Brothers is contending for top children's program at the upcoming Emmy Awards. And, as Joe Jonas admitted to MTV News, "We are very super excited! We've never been up for an Emmy before. That's never been on our radar, so something like that's really exciting. We don't know who will win." The boys face off against two other Disney staples — "Hannah Montana" and both the series and telefilm versions of "Wizards of Waverly Place" — as well as the Nickelodeon smash "iCarly." Joe added, "There's a lot of Disney in there, so I think we're gonna have some friendly competition going on there. Me and ['Wizards' star] David Henrie, we've been talking to each other and kind of making fun of each other here and there about the Emmy thing. But whoever wins, it'll be cool for us to be honored." MTV

• "127 Hours" is set to close the London Film Festival on Oct. 28. The biopic from director Danny Boyle stars James Franco as hiker Aron Ralston forced to cut off his own arm to free himself from a rock slide. As Steve Pond notes, "Boyle also had the closing-night film at the festival in 2008 with 'Slumdog,' which went on to win eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director." In making the announcement, fest director Sandra Hebron referred to this fact: "It is unprecedented for us to chose a closing night film from the same director only two years later. But '127 Hours' was the obvious choice for us — with filmmaking as bold and adventurous as its subject matter, it confirms Danny Boyle as one of the world's finest and most visionary directors." THE WRAP

Jeff Bridges True Grit First Photo • Reigning best actor Oscar champ Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") could be back in the race this year. He reunites with the Coen brothers for their remake of "True Grit" and is taking on the 1969 role that won John Wayne his Oscar. Greg Ellwood previews the picture, which is due out on Christmas Day. "Paramount Pictures released the first image of "True Grit" today which features Bridges and co-star Hailee Steinfield.  Most intriguing is the eyepatch Bridge's character wears is on his right eye. Wayne wore it on left. A nod to the original film? More importantly, this potential Best Picture contender is on this pundit's must-see list, has it made yours?"

Christopher Lisotta says that "If the first time is a charm, then 2010 could be shaping up as a downright charming year for a host of rookie Emmy nominees." He thinks that, "as voting wraps up Tuesday, buzz is building behind freshmen series 'The Good Wife,' 'Glee' and 'Modern Family,' any of which could wrest key wins from veteran series like '30 Rock' and 'Mad Men,' which have become the shows to beat." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Upper photo: "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" promotional still. Credit: NBC.

Middle photo: "Jonas" promotional still. Credit: Disney Channel.

Lower photo: Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfield in "True Grit." Credit: Paramount.

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Poll: Who'll win the Golden Globe for best comedy/musical actor?

January 15, 2010 | 11:09 am

Personally, I think Daniel Day-Lewis will win the Golden Globe for best musical-comedy actor even though "Nine" is being pooh-poohed by movie-goers and many film critics. Globe voters are, simply put, crazy about songfests when nominated in those separate categories they have just for comedies/musicals.

Golden globes robert downey jr joseph gordon levitt news 2

Recent champs in this lead-actor race include Johnny Depp and Joaquin Phoenix, but "Sweeney Todd" and "Walk the Line" were successful tuners. So Day-Lewis is vulnerable, not only because "Nine" flopped, but because many film critics blame Day-Lewis' scowling performance bereft of winking charm. However, many members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. liked his performance and are blinded by superstars in general.

Robert Downey Jr. has a socko chance to win considering his recent career rebound (thank you, "Iron Man") and his surprisingly successful "Sherlock Holmes" ($169 million U.S. box office), but his role doesn't have actorly pretention, that overused word gravitas.

Michael Stuhlbarg certainly displays that in "A Serious Man," but it's not nominated for best picture, which is surprising considering it's a Coen brothers' flick. Maybe voters don't like it all that much?

Matt Damon gives a full-bodied performance, literally, in "The Informant!" but a few Golden Globe voters told me that HFPA members didn't like the flick. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is adorable in "(500) Days of Summer," but that film is a light comedy, which some voters might confuse with lightweight. Hmmm … so who will win, do you think? Also vote in our polls for best drama film, lead drama actor, lead drama actress, best comedy/musical film and  lead comedy/musical actress.

Photos: "Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros.), "Nine" (Weinstein Co.), "(500) Days of Summer" (Fox Searchlight

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PODCAST: John Malkovich says viewers are happy to see him suffer in 'Burn After Reading'

September 12, 2008 |  4:13 pm

In "Burn After Reading," John Malkovich gets one of his signature, showy, put-upon roles — the kind in which he gets to wig out. (Memo to fans: insert cheer here.)

"He's long-suffering in a way," Malkovich tells Gold Derby in our podcast chat. Because his character is such a loser, "one's happy, in a way, to see him suffer.  ... But at least he doesn't have the problem of not being able to express his anger!"


To listen our podcast, CLICK HERE to download the MP3 file. (Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.)

Malkovich defines his role thus: "He's a drunk who, of course, denies that by resorting to Mormon jokes. His wife's having an affair with George Clooney. He's been fired from his job. He's being blackmailed. He's trying to write his memoirs or his book [but] realizes he's utterly talentless. He's locked out of his house, and all of his things are thrown out in the rain, so he's burned out, he's burned up and now he wants to burn someone else."

His character's response: At one point he takes out a hatchet and goes at it. At another point, he punches Brad Pitt, who is blackmailing him after discovering a computer disk containing those memoirs.

What was it like to haul off and nail Pitt? Or, rather, shooting that scene for "Burn After Reading"?

"Little closed quarters for a punch," Malkovich says, "but it was just sort of a pop. Brad has done — how many trillion stunts in his life? — so he's very good. The person throwing the punch — it doesn't really matter what they do. It's the person receiving it that counts. Obviously, it only works from certain angles so you figure out, from where the camera is, what is the angle that it can really be sold that you're really punching someone. It didn't take long. He's very good at it."

Malkovich's character endures so much misery that the audience howls and hoots. But why do viewers laugh at such things in any film?

"Because we're glad it's not us," he says. "It's a comedy if it happens to you. It's a tragedy if it happens to me. That's why, when you see bloopers — you know, a grandmother loses her teeth or an overweight person falls out of a boat — it's hilarious stuff. To me, no, but most people just laugh themselves sick.

"We laugh because we realize how ridiculous and absurd we are," he adds. "Deep down, we know. You realize how easily we could be in that position, how incredibly easily, and part of that exhale of that laughter is our relief in that not having been us.

"But then there's another (reason) — when you laugh because you recognize. Like in this film when they see me come out with a hatchet, their natural reaction is to laugh. Why? A) Because it's me with the hatchet, so they know that it's probably going to get used. And B) they also laugh because it's their id saying, 'God, I'd love to do that!'"

(Focus Features)

Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Tilda Swinton in Coen brothers' 'Burn After Reading' — Finally, here's the trailer

June 5, 2008 |  5:55 am

At long last, here's a video glimpse of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and others in "Burn After Reading". Could it be the Coen brothers' next Oscars-sweeper?

Spike Lee courts controversy by criticizing Clint Eastwood and the Coen brothers

May 22, 2008 | 11:55 am

Perhaps Spike Lee has decided that a good offense makes for a better defense if he is snubbed by the Academy Awards again this year. How else to explain his slam of a trio of Oscar-winning directors — Clint Eastwood and the Coen brothers - who could well be competing again this year.


As per Reuters, Lee was in Cannes to promote "Miracle at St. Anna," his upcoming WW II drama about the heroic efforts of four African American soldiers in Italy. He took the opportunity to criticize his fellow filmmakers. "Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total, and there was not one Negro actor on the screen," he said. "If you reporters had any balls you'd ask him why. There's no way I know why he did that. That was his vision, not mine. But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It's not like he didn't know."

Clint Eastwood picked up his ninth and 10th Oscar nods for producing and directing one of those two films Lee referenced —"Letters From Iwo Jima" — in 2006. While Eastwood lost those races, he has 4 Oscars on his mantle — a pair each for producing and directing best picture winners "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004) — as well as the Thalberg award.

And as for the Oscar-winning directors of "No Country for Old Men," Lee had this to say: "I love the Coen brothers; we all studied at NYU. But they treat life like a joke. Ha ha ha. A joke. It's like, 'Look how they killed that guy! Look how blood squirts out the side of his head!' I see things different than that."

Continue reading »

Oscars-weary Ethan Coen heads to off-Broadway

April 18, 2008 | 12:11 pm

Winning an Obie Award might seem like a letdown after nabbing three Academy Awards (best picture, director, screenplay for "No Country for Old Men"), but Ethan Coen is suddenly in the running, having a play staged off-Broadway that's getting good reviews.

Coen is just happy that "Almost an Evening" puts him in contention for any other kudos.


"Oscars just ain't gonna do it for me anymore," he tattles to the AP. "I need the Nobel Peace Prize. The Oscars have worn off, man."

Actually, "Almost an Evening" is a compilation of three dramatic works that debuted at the Atlantic Stage 2 earlier this year, then launched a commercial run at The Theatres at 45 Bleecker. The AP describes the shows thus: "The first play, 'Waiting,' has a man enduring what he's told is purgatory; he's told wrong. The second, 'Four Benches,' focuses on a British spy who wants to become 'a people person,' especially after causing the death of an innocent man who was an employee of the year for running a feedlot. And in 'Debate,' God Who Judges and God Who Loves square off at lecterns — until bullets fly. After the last one-act, actors (including Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham) play couples who proceed to deconstruct it. "

Photo: F. Murray Abraham and Mark Linn-Baker in "Almost an Evening." (The Theatres)

Encores for Oscar winners?

March 4, 2008 |  8:46 am

While best actress Marion Cotillard makes headlines with her controversial political views, will she be back in the derby again for her upcoming turn as '30s torch singer Billie Frechette opposite Johnny Depp's John Dillinger in Michael Mann's "Public Enemies?" And who else among this year's Oscar winners could feature in next year's race?


Lou Lumenick reports that the Coen brothers' follow-up film, "Burn After Reading," may well unspool at Cannes in mid-May. The Croisette certainly brought the duo good luck last spring as the rapturous response for "No Country for Old Men" launched it into the awards race. And, as Lou writes, "we wouldn't be surprised if it has a date at the New York Film Festival." As faithful readers will recall, scenes were shot in my Gotham neighborhood last fall –- CLICK HERE

The screwball comedy stars "Michael Clayton" adversaries George Clooney and Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton as illicit lovers cuckolding John Malkovich, a rogue CIA agent intent on publishing his memoirs. The film also features Mrs. Joel Coen, a.k.a. Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt . Focus Features will release "Burn" on Sept. 12. Those Vultures over at New York mag offered a sneak peek at the script last year - HERE.

It is no surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis does not have any film work lined up. After all, "There Will Be Blood" was only his third movie in a decade. While he sits on the sidelines, Javier Bardem has wrapped up a Woody Allen comedy, "Vicky Christina Barcelona," in his native Spain and is waiting for production to begin on "Nine," another tuner adaptation from "Chicago" helmer Rob Marshall.

Continue reading »

Ode to Oscar now the derby is done — What to think?

February 26, 2008 |  1:30 pm

What a derby it was this year! Not only did we Oscarwatchers get to thrill to bizarre awards suspense over whether a quirky masterwork about a coin-tossing grim reaper could take the top prize normally reserved for the safest good movie of the year, but the biggest cliffhanger turned out to be whether Hollywood's biggest show could go on at all.

Double drama! Even better, it all played out like a good thriller with the writers strike ending only days before the Oscarcast after brutally assassinating poor innocents along the way. I happen to know many of the details of an excellent case the Golden Globes have to fire back at WGA with a killer lawsuit that could cost the guild $20 million ("the most slam-dunk case I've seen in years," one lawyer involved with the backstage drama told me), but HFPA, I hear, has decided not to proceed, being good sports and knowing — that's showbiz.


Then came Oscar night and magic time happened when an obscure actress had her big Cinderella moment, making awards history no less (Marion Cotillard is the first performer to win for a French-speaking role). On stage she gave the performance of her life as she looked out over an audience of reputed Hollywood devils and — wonderstruck, joyous and trembling — gasped, "Thank you, life! Thank you, love! It is true there is some angels in this city!"

Hooray! Even Julie Christie had to cheer that magic moment because, after all, 42 years ago she lived it too. That's why we love the Oscars so. Hollywood is the fantasy capital of the world and when dreams of stardom held precious by struggling souls come true, it's the big payoff for all of the other things Oscar may do wrong.

The essential core of the Cinderella story is how she goes from rags to glory, instantly, and at the Oscars that gets staged like the tap of a magic wand when an envelope gets opened. Like when Hilary Swank won for "Boys Don't Cry" eight years ago and revealed how she went from sleeping in a car with her mom as neophytes in Hollywood to entering the Oscar pantheon at that moment. Being good storytellers, the Coen brothers knew to share with us their own humble back story when they won for directing.

"Ethan and I have been making stories with movie cameras since we were kids," Joel said, recalling how he made one of his earliest amateur films back late 1960s, titled "Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go," starring younger brother Ethan in a suit with a briefcase. "Honestly, what we do now doesn't feel that much different from what we were doing then," he added.

Ah, they're still kids at heart, those rascals, just like the other big kids of Hollywood.

And the Oscarcast itself? Well, just so-so, the live part, but I think there was greatness in the moments that some TV critics are griping about: those clip montages that relived heavenly glimpses of Oscars past. Let's give the academy a break. Writers of this Oscarcast had only eight days to toss this one together, so it was smart of telecast producers to sprinkle it with gems from the vault.

As for Jon Stewart as host, well, he held forth on stage as best he could, managing to avoid disaster. He's a top talent at what he does on "The Daily Show." It's not his fault that he's miscast as host and it would have been ungrateful of him to refuse the academy's offer to helm their party again. Memo to the academy: Next time, please, cast a family member to preside over your clan's reunion.

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FINAL BUZZMETER PREDIX: Ruby comes out swinging

February 22, 2008 |  3:46 pm

The 15th and final incarnation of the Oscar buzzmeter promises some surprising results on Sunday night. What began at the end of last October with 26 pundits predicting the top eight races has grown to 32 panelists, many of whom offer their thoughts on all 24 Oscar categories. Some skip a few categories here and there (the hardest ones, of course — cowards!).

To see a category-per-category a roundup report, READ THIS.

To view the Buzzmeter, CLICK HERE, then click on various links marked "Individual Panelist's Rankings" in different boxes to see a grid breaking down predix per pundit. Not every link leads to every category, so you have to move around a bit and, beware: there's a temporary tech glitch if you view sections on a PC using Internet Explorer. We'll solve that soon, but, meantime, if the pundits' names are obscured from view, try switching to using a different browser like Firefox or Netscape.


As is often the case, the fall front-runner stumbled coming out of the gate. In our first buzzmeter, 14 of the pundits picked "Atonement" to win best picture while only 3 had "No Country for Old Men" in first place. Now, all but 3 of us see "No Country" taking the top prize.

And while the Coen boys began the derby tied with "Atonement" helmer Joe Wright with eight votes apiece, the directors of "No Country" now have the backing of everyone on the panel with the exception of Sam Rubin, who thinks that "Juno's" Jason Reitman can pull off a shockeroo.

The category with the most conflicting views is supporting actress race, of course — that hotbed of upsets, historically. Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There") started out the race as the clear front-runner with 22 of us predicting she would win her second Oscar. Ruby Dee did not even register for her small role in "American Gangster." But her memorable few moments in the movie and her recent SAG win now put her in the lead among our pundits: 12 out of 31 voting. Blanchett comes in second place with 8, Tilda Swinton gets 6 and Amy Ryan 5.



Continue reading »

Coens on Oscar buzz: 'We don't understand it'

February 11, 2008 | 10:21 pm

"You never know," Ethan Coen tells the L.A. Times about the awards success of "No Country for Old Men. "I have to say that there were other people who saw early versions and predicted it. So the reasons may be transparent to some people, but they're certainly not to us. We don't understand it." READ MORE.


Photo: Miramax



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