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

Category: Julia Roberts

Natalie Portman is the official Oscar front-runner

September 10, 2010 |  2:21 pm

"That's it! The best actress race is already over!" gasped a notable Oscar-tracking journo after witnessing Natalie Portman's dazzling diva turn in Darren Aronofsky's ballet thriller, "Black Swan," at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I was equally wowed and tempted to agree with that Oscar assessment except for one cautious reminder. At this point on last year's calendar we didn't know that the eventual winners of the last Academy Awards for best actress and actor -- Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") -- were even in the running.

Natalie Portman Black Swan-1

That said, it's still fun to make fierce pronouncements, so let's leap as boldly as Portman does on screen while she performs "Swan Lake": Yes, she's out front. Yes, Portman will be very hard to beat because she's got many strong advantages.

1) DIVA APPEAL: In "Black Swan," Portman gives in dance what many past winners did in song -- the full-throttle diva performance: Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl"), Liza Minnelli ("Cabaret") and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"). Unfortunately, ballet has played only a minor role at Oscars past, so it's hard to look backward for guidance to what will happen ahead. "The Turning Point" spawned two best actress nominees (who probably canceled each other out in the voting), Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, but they played dancers past their prime, not bouncing ferociously and constantly on stage.

2) GET PHYSICAL: Throughout the two hours of "Black Swan," Portman gives an even more athletic performance than Hilary Swank did when boxing her way to an Oscar victory for "Million Dollar Baby."

3) THE BABE FACTOR: Those notoriously frisky good ol' boys in the motion picture academy have clearly turned the best actress competition into a beauty contest in recent years: Sandra Bullock ("Blind Side"), Charlize Theron ("Monster"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours"), Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich"), Gwyneth Paltrow ("Shakespeare in Love") plus many more examples in between and earlier. Portman is knockout gorgeous in "Black Swan."

4) THE SEX FACTOR: Overt eroticism used to be a turnoff at the Oscars in more prudish times, but nowadays we're seeing those academy gents get excited by sexy roles. Some cynics say Kate Winslet ("The Reader") and Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") wouldn't have won without their brazen sex scenes. In "Black Swan," Portman has steamy masturbation and lesbian scenes.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Hugh Laurie sings the blues | 'Mad Men' all dolled up | Al Pacino back to Broadway

July 26, 2010 |  1:24 pm

House Laurie piano • If any actor has a right to sing the blues, it is Hugh Laurie, who hasn't had any luck with the Emmys despite four previous nominations for playing the cantankerous title character in "House, M.D." Although he's contending again this year in the lead actor race, our early predictions rank him as an also-ran again. On Monday, Warner Music announced a record deal with the erudite Englishman for an album of New Orleans-style songs. The disc will be produced by two-time Grammy champ Joe Henry. In a statement, Laurie said, "I am drunk with excitement at this opportunity. I know the history of actors making music is a checkered one, but I promise no one will get hurt." Laurie, who plays a variety of musical instruments, has been the keyboardist for the charity group Band From TV for the last several years and tickled the ivories on the last album from Meat Loaf as well. USA TODAY

• Three-time Tony nominee Alfred Molina is switching coasts to join the cast of "Law & Order: L.A." in the fall. Mike Ausiello delivers this news, noting "Molina is the second major 'LOLA' hire. As I reported earlier this month, Skeet Ulrich has been tapped to play one of the two lead detectives. In a statement, show exec Dick Wolf said, 'I am thrilled that Fred is "LOLA's" Deputy DA. He joins a remarkable list of some of America’s greatest character actors like Sam Waterston, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeff Goldblum, Steven Hill, Dianne Wiest, and Michael Moriarty as stars of 'Law & Order'-branded series.' "

• The versatile Molina also appears in the fourth film from theater visionary Julie Taymor -- a reimagining of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" -- which will close the 67th edition of the Venice film fest on Sept. 11. The picture stars Oscar champ Helen Mirren ("The Queen") as Prospera, a gender-bending take on the character of Prospero, a sorcerer marooned on an island with his daughter. The film features another Oscar winner -- Chris Cooper ("Adaptation") -- as well as Russell Brand, Alan Cumming, Djimon Hounsou, David Strathairn and Ben Whishaw. LA BIENNALE

Sir Elton John and Lee Hall -- who penned the Tony-winning musical adaptation of "Billy Elliot" -- are reteaming to turn the George Orwell classic novel "Animal Farm" into a tuner. Baz Bamigboye chatted with Hall, who revealed, "I'm deep into it, writing songs for pigs and other four-legged friends" but admitted proper work on the show would not begin till after the summer. "Having worked with him on 'Billy Elliot,' I know that Elton likes to have the lyrics done and have them in front of him, so I'll work on a batch before I give him anything to look at. I would think it's going to take about two years before it's all ready to go." DAILY MAIL

Mad Men Barbies • Four of the Emmy-nominated cast members of "Mad Men" have been immortalized by Mattel as collectible dolls that retail for $74.95 each. "The collection features suave ad men Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) complete with cufflinks. The Draper doll features a painted 5 o'clock shadow [that] adds to his good looks, as does his dreamy gaze. Draper's turmoil-ridden wife, Betty (January Jones), wears a traditionally saccharine floral A-line dress with a shiny gray bow, while flame-haired beauty Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) wears a figure-hugging dress, stockings and pointy black heels." And, as this report notes, "even though Mattel cites the Holloway doll's 'curvy silhouette,' the mini-Joan takes on Barbie's traditionally slim figure." FOX NEWS

• At a Comic-Con panel, Emmy nominee Michael C. Hall previewed the upcoming fifth season of "Dexter." For the actor, his character of a serial killer under suspicion in his wife's death is now "motivated by a desire to make amends for that even if he doesn't consciously know it. He needs to make things right, even if it feels impossible." And, as per producer Chip Johannessen, "We want to process this huge event, which is almost like a second origin story. This is something he brought on himself. We don't continue the facts of Season 4 for very long, but the set of events that he brought upon himself very much permeate Season 5." TV GUIDE

• The gang from "Glee" was also at Comic-Con, where, as per this report by Denise Martin, show creator Ryan Murphy "hit Chris Colfer with the news that he may soon get to do 'The Time Warp,' the classic song-and-dance routine from 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.' " And, Denise adds, "the Britney Spears episode may be a little dream-like, even if it isn't exactly a dream for one star. And get ready for more Madonna." TV GUIDE

Al Pacino MerchantAl Pacino will be back on Broadway this fall headlining a transfer of the summer hit "The Merchant of Venice," which has been playing in repertory as part of the Public Theater's season in Central Park. Pacino, who first came to fame as a stage actor, headlined a 1979 rialto revival of "Richard III" that was met with mixed reviews. His last appearance on Broadway was in a staged reading of the Oscar Wilde play "Salome" in 2003. He is in contention at the upcoming Emmy Awards for his performance in the telefilm "You Don't Know Jack." Pacino is one of only 18 actors to have achieved the triple crown, winning an Oscar for "Scent of a Woman," an Emmy for "Angels in America" and two Tony Awards, for "Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?" and "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel." NEW YORK TIMES

• The 1988 Oscar-nominated Spanish film "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" is being turned into a Broadway musical this fall and will feature a slew of award-winning talent including a pair of Tony champs -- Patti LuPone ("Evita," "Gypsy") and Brian Stokes Mitchell ("Kiss Me, Kate") -- as well as multiple nominees Sherie Rene Scott and Danny Burnstein. Tony winner Bartlett Sher ("South Pacific") directs, and Tony nominees David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane are collaborating once again on the score, as they did with "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," with Lane also adapting Pedro Almodóvar's screenplay for the stage. PLAYBILL

• A trio of Oscar-winning actors -- Goldie Hawn ("Cactus Flower"), Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich") and Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland") -- are among those on-screen talents working behind the scenes on documentaries scheduled to debut on Oprah Winfrey's new TV network next year. As per the press release, Roberts will present "Extraordinary Moms," about "brilliant and awe-inspiring women who share a powerful connection: the love they have for their children combined with a fierce desire to protect the future of all children"; Hawn will narrate "Search for Happiness," which "examines the age-old quest that has motivated civilization and technological progress"; and Whitaker will do likewise with "One Last Shot," which "takes viewers inside Louisiana’s maximum security prison at Angola, where the average sentence is more than 90 years." TV BY THE NUMBERS

Photos, from top: Hugh Laurie in "House, M.D." Credit: Fox. "Mad Men" collectible dolls. Credit: Mattel, Inc. Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice." Credit: Public Theater

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Glee' serenaded by TV academy | Good year already for David Oyelowo

March 18, 2010 |  4:53 pm

Glee • The TV academy is saluting eight shows at the third annual Academy Honors on May 5 -- including "Glee," "CSI" and "Private Practice" -- for tackling social issues such as the disabled, racial profiling, and physician-assisted suicide. In making the announcement, academy president John Shaffner said, "This year, we were impressed by not only the number of entries received but also by the breadth of subject matters addressed. We went to great lengths to select programs that reflect the mission of the Television Academy Honors committee -- to highlight the power of television and its ability to initiate important dialogue and ultimately instigate change." ATAS

Gary Thompson solves one of this year's Oscar mysteries -- how "The Secret of Kells" landed an animated feature nomination over the likes of "Monsters v. Aliens" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs." As director Tomm Moore told him, "There were people there (at a Cartoon Network screening) from the big studios, and everyone was buzzing about the film. I think it started trickling up to academy members, although it was very much a word of mouth thing." PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS

• Linking to the trailer for the big summer release "Eat Pray Love" -- Julia Roberts in writer-director Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir -- Ryan Adams says, "Looks more charming and adorable than anyone had any right to expect. Exactly the vibe we want from a movie about the power of serendipity, when we shed expectations, stop fighting fate, quit swimming upstream, relax, let loose, and go with the flow." AWARDS DAILY

DavidOyelowo • The Royal Television Society named "The Thick of It" best comedy program at its annual awards in London Tuesday. The deft political satire begat this year's Oscar-nominated "In the Loop." Other winners included the anthology series "The Street" as best drama and "Eastenders" as best serial. The two stars of the mini-series "Small Island" -- Naomie Harris and David Oyelowo -- took the drama acting prizes while Miranda Hart won the comedy award for her laffer "Miranda." THE STAGE

• Oyelowo has landed the plum role of Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma" opposite Hugh Jackman as the sheriff who opposed the 1965 civil rights marches in the Alabama town. Oscar-nominated helmer Lee Daniels ("Precious") is directing from a script by Paul Webb.

• Jackman appeared on "The Tonight Show" Tuesday and told Jay Leno he did tune in to this year's Oscars. "I sat there in my sweats with my bowtie on that I wore last year, and I was swanning around the house, organizing the betting pool, thinking, I have a feel for this kind of thing, I know how it's going to go. And I lost absolutely everything." And Hugh said he thought the hosts -- Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin -- "were brilliant. Last year, Steve gave me advice, and once I was on 'Saturday Night Live' when Alec was and Alec gave me advice, so it was great seeing them do it this year." THE MIRROR


Can 'Glee' or 'Modern Family' beat '30 Rock' at the Emmys?

Oscar bait 2011: Sneak peek at next year's front-runners

Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet: Victims of Oscar curse?

Daytime Emmys will go on' … and with a new voting system

Poll: Will 'The Pacific' win the Emmy battle?

Top photo: "Glee" Season 1 DVD cover. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: David Oyelowo in "Small Island." Credit: BBC

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Poll: Will Sandra Bullock, Carey Mulligan or Gabby Sidibe win best drama actress at the Golden Globes?

January 5, 2010 | 11:37 am

According the experts' predix we've pooled so far, the Golden Globe race for best drama actress is a fierce diva smackdown between Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and Carey Mulligan ("An Education").

That makes sense when employing traditional awards analysis. Globers consistently adore two things: hot superstars and ingenues. Bullock has been a longtime A-Lister overdue for a crown and she's reigning high right now. "The Blind Side" just became the first film driven solely by a female star to top $200 million at the U.S. box office. The role bears obvious parallels to Julia Roberts in "Erin Brokovich," who won this category in 2000.

Sandra Bullock The Blind Side Gabourey Sidibe Precious 7182493525 movies news

Bullock was nominated twice in the past, both times on the comedy/musical side. When she was nommed for "While You Were Sleeping" (1995), she lost to Nicole Kidman ("To Die For") and when she was in the running for "Miss Congeniality" (2000), she got trounced by not-so-congenial Renee Zellweger ("Nurse Betty"). This year Bullock is nominated in that same slot for "The Proposal" and she has a real chance to win there, but she faces tough competition from Meryl Streep ("Julie and Julia") and Marion Cotillard ("Nine").

Carey Mulligan has a lot going for her in this drama race: class, charm, loveliness and – most important of all – a British accent. The last three winners of this race were Brits: Kate Winslet ("Revolutionary Road"), Julie Christie ("Away from Her") and Helen Mirren ("The Queen"). Voters have special respect for outlanders because they're members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Her odds in this contest are boosted by the fact that "An Education" is set in Limeyland and that she, personally speaking, seems like a star who'll be around shining brightly in the future — a kind of young Audrey Hepburn.

But, personally speaking, I'm betting on Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"). Globers don't usually hail newcomers, especially if they're not of the Audrey Hepburn profile, but voters have shown special appreciation through the years for shockingly raw, bleeding performances like Felicity Huffman ("Transamerica") and Brenda Blethyn ("Secrets and Lies"). If I'm right and Sidibe gives another nerve-piercing performance at the podium, she'll pass her Oscar audition and win again on March 7. That's what happened to Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") and Jamie Foxx ("Ray"), who were both Oscar-bound after wowing the ceremony crowd at the Beverly Hilton.

Emily Blunt can't win because she doesn't open a vein in "The Young Victoria." Helen Mirren pours out her heart — and lots of rage and hysterics — as Tolstoy's shrewish wife  in "The Last Station," giving a performance quite opposite of her tight-faced turn in "The Queen," but her recent win for that role dethrones her chances now. 

So what do you think? Give us your opinion in the poll below and vote in our other polls for best drama picture, lead drama actor and lead comedy/musical actress.


Poll: Who'll win best drama picture at the Golden Globes?

Poll: What will win best drama picture at the Golden Globes?

Poll: Who'll win best comedy/musical actress at the Golden Globes?

Photos: "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.), "An Education" (Sony Pictures Classics), "Precious" (Lionsgate)

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Julia Roberts may nab a fourth Golden Globe for 'Duplicity'

March 22, 2009 |  9:42 am

Prior to the release of "Duplicity," award watchers had to wonder if Julia Roberts suffered from the Oscar Curse. You know, win an Oscar, then disappear — at least from significance. (We're talking about you, Helen Hunt and Cuba Gooding Jr.) The Academy Award champ for "Erin Brockovich" hasn't made many movies of importance in recent years. "Charlie Wilson's War" and "The Closer" showed great early awards promise but fizzled at the Oscars, making us wonder if Julia Roberts was burning out as superstar.

"Duplicity" looks like a comeback of sorts for Julia Roberts. It's a box-office hit getting mixed to terrific reviews, making us wonder next: Is this just a throwaway thriller that won't matter much on the kudos scene (like the "Bourne" flicks, which "Duplicity" scribe Tony Gilroy penned) or one of the rare gems of that genre that succeed at the Oscars and Golden Globes (like "Michael Clayton," which Gilroy also wrote and directed)?


The answer seems to be somewhere in between, which probably means it may register with Golden Globe voters but probably not academy members. At least not in the top categories. It may have Oscar hope in the tech slots considering its cinematographer is Robert Elswit (Oscar champ, "There Will Be Blood") and music score by James Newton Howard (no wins but nine nominations, including "Michael Clayton").

Entertainment Weekly gives the movie a "B" grade but adds this lament: "'Duplicity' doesn't have depth."

The L.A. Times describes "Duplicity" as "sleek, dizzying entertainment," calling this screen tale of competing spies (Roberts and Clive Owen) toying with each other romantically "essentially 'Michael Clayton Lite.' "

The New York Times says, " 'Duplicity' is superior entertainment, the most elegantly pleasurable movie of its kind to come around in a very long time. ... It's a sharp, sexy comedy masquerading as a twisty tale of intrigue, and vice versa."

The Golden Globes do love Julia Roberts. Assuming "Duplicity" is entered in the comedy/musical categories, she has a good shot at a nomination, and the movie and Clive Owen may nab top bids too considering those award slots are usually less crowded than the drama categories.

Roberts has been nominated on six occasions at the Globes and won 50% of the time. Her three victories: "Erin Brockovich" (best drama actress, 2000), "Pretty Woman" (best comedy/musical actress, 1990) and "Steel Magnolias" (best supporting actress, 1989).

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'Changeling' may finally put Angelina Jolie back in the Oscars derby

October 3, 2008 |  1:44 pm

Angelina Jolie has not been nominated for an Academy Award since she won best supporting actress of 1999 for "Girl, Interrupted."

That's surprising considering Jolie's prominence in American pop culture, her Hollywood lineage as princess of a past Oscar king (Jon Voight, "Coming Home," 1978), popularity with other awards (three Golden Globes, two SAG Awards) and box-office success (movies grossing more than $2 billion worldwide).

Largely, the oversight is probably due to the choices she's made — preferring mostly popcorn pix — over the last decade. But last year Angelina Jolie had a good shot at a bid for her critically hailed turn as Mariane Pearl in "A Mighty Heart," which reaped her nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG, Indie Spirits and Critics Choice. When she failed to make the Oscar cut, award gurus wondered: Has Angelina Jolie's life in the tabloid headlines lost her the respect of those notorious snobs in the motion-picture academy? And, if so, can she ever win it back?


Now here comes Hollywood's most beloved cowboy and trusty Oscar magnet, Clint Eastwood, to the rescue as the director of "Changeling," which I saw Thursday at the New York Film Festival media screening.

Audience response: huzzahs galore. Clint has not only crafted another fine film that's going to garner widespread attention and admiration, but it's not an ensemble film like his last best-picture nominee, "Letters From Iwo Jima," or, to a lesser extent, his last best-pic winner, "Million Dollar Baby." It's all Angelina all the screen time.

You only care about this movie because you buy her performance as a heroic, real-life woman, circa 1930, who battled L.A. police when they locked her up in an insane asylum when she refused to accept a mysterious boy as her missing son. Four of the last five best-actress winners — and seven of the last 10 — portrayed real women. And it's a big, showy role at that, full of big crying scenes, booming declarations and righteous strutting. Oscar voters love all that.

One problem might be the fact that she doesn't bury her famous personality inside a vastly different character like Nicole Kidman did portraying Virginia Woolf in "The Hours" and Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in "The Queen." But Julia Roberts didn't do that in "Erin Brockovich." That's a good parallel to make because, in both movies, the actresses are celebrated Hollywood beauties taking on defiant, crusading roles while looking and acting a lot like their lovely selves. Also: just like Jodie Foster in "The Silence of the Lambs" and, minus the crusading part, Cher in "Moonstruck." Obviously, Oscar voters like that sometimes.

Yes, that's true too of Angelina Jolie in "A Mighty Heart" — which had the plus of being based upon a real, heroic person as well — but Oscar voters like the movies they hail to be successful. "Heart" was a huge flop at the box office because studio execs foolishly decided to open it wide during summer, which was the wrong time of year for that kind of film, and a long time away on the calendar from derby season. Furthermore, it happened to be about a topic — war in the Mideast — which also came up short  of Oscar expectations for "In the Valley of Elah" and "Charlie Wilson's War." It's possible that Jolie was just one more casualty of war, bad timing and and dumb studio decisions.

However, that didn't stop her from being nominated for all of those other top Hollywood awards.

Now, though, she has a lucky Oscars charm: Clint Eastwood's movies have won chunks of academy gold for five actors — Gene Hackman ("Unforgiven"), Sean Penn and Tim Robbins ("Mystic River") and Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby") — and generated four more nominations.

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Film reviewers clash over 'Charlie Wilson's War'

December 21, 2007 |  1:33 pm

A day after being snubbed by the SAG awards, this A List project is doing well with a good critics' score at Rotten Tomatoes (78 was based on 90 notices), but less Cww1 so at Meta Critic, averaging 66 based upon 23 reviews.

Among those who enjoyed the movie most was Lou Lumenick of the New York Post who thought, "Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mike Nichols, with the help of 'West Wing' scribe Aaron Sorkin, find considerable laughter in this allegedly fact-based mission improbable."

Writing for AP, Christy Lemire calls the film, "a crisp, biting satire that confidently mixes sex and politics, glides along so smartly and smoothly, it makes you wonder how it's possible that director Mike Nichols and writer Aaron Sorkin have never teamed up before." She says, "When you're thinking about a Scotch-guzzling, good ol' boy bachelor, Hanks may not immediately spring to mind, but he finds the sweetness within Wilson's legendary charisma. (Amusingly, one of the many women Wilson dated over the years was Nichols' current wife, Diane Sawyer.) He and a brash, breezy Roberts enjoy some appealing flirty exchanges, if not much sexual chemistry. But then Hoffman, a force of nature in every character role, storms in and blows away everyone in his path."


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Oscars appraisal: Finally, we see 'Charlie Wilson's War'

November 27, 2007 |  5:05 am

Tonight in New York City was the first media screening of "Charlie Wilson's War." At the end, there was respectful applause. A journo pal who accompanied me as guest pretty much summed up what I thought, too: he liked it, but wasn't wowed, as he had hoped, given the pedigree of its creators.


That is "Charlie's" biggest problem. Expectations are stratosphere-high considering who's involved — past Oscar champs Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman enacting a script by Aaron Sorkin (author of Emmy winner "The West Wing" and Oscar best-pic nominee "A Few Good Men") that's directed by Mike Nichols (Oscar champ for helming "The Graduate").

Now that we've seen it: Will it be nominated for best picture? Well . . . hmmm . . . perhaps . . . but it's certainly not going to win. The lead film critic of one of New York's top three newspapers doesn't think it'll get a best-pic bid. Told me he even expects it to flop at the box office — I wouldn't predict that outrght, but I could see that happening. Not that it's a bad film. It's quite good. Solid. Well made and well played. But it's yet another Iraq/Afghan war film in a year crowded with many and it doesn't do what "The Kite Runner" does: doesn't take the wind out of you, like great movies are supposed to do. That's why "Kite" probably has the best shot for a best-pic bid from among all of these war pix.

"Charlie Wilson's War" is everything you expect when you learn the premise from advance promos: Tom Hanks does a solid acting job as boozy playboy congressman who teams up with a hawkish Texas tycoon (Roberts) and an obnoxious slob from the C.I.A. (Hoffman) to help rebels oust the Russians from Afghanistan. There's much high-minded talk about freedom and fine scotch and there's much boozing and smoking and sex and eating throughout this pic. But at no point was I gripped and breathless, wondering what would happen next. And at no point did I look back at the last scene and think, "Marvelous!"

However, Aaron Sorkin's script snaps and crackles with enough bon mots that he might get nommed. Hoffman is a strong contender for supporting actor. He has the best shot among potential performance nominees, I think. It's not impossible for costars Julia Robert or Tom Hanks to nab a nom, but neither one of them will win.

Bottom line: "Charlie Wilson's War" is good, but it isn't the great movie people expect. How forgiving will Hollywood be?

'Charlie Wilson's War' - Here's the poster

October 30, 2007 |  4:30 am premieres the "Charlie Wilson's War" poster. CLICK HERE Notice its emphasis on smart ironic humor over snooty Oscar pretentiousness. Good ploy.


Oscars 2008: The supporting actress race is not empty!

October 29, 2007 |  5:31 pm

"This year the age old “empty!” gripe is aimed at the Supporting Actress category," growls Nathaniel R at That's what most Oscar gurus are saying nowadays, but nay, nay, I say!


Still, it's fun to read Nathaniel's rant, particularly his breakdown of the five character types that usually triumph: Long-Suffering Wife (think Jennifer Connelly in "A Beautiful Mind" and Beatrice Straight in "Network"), Monstrous/ Martyr Mom (Brenda Fricker in "My Left Foot," Eileen Heckart in "Butterflies are Free"), The Mouth on Her (Dianne Wiest in "Bullets Over Broadway," Maggie Smith in "California Suite"), Little Miss Sunshine (Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon," Anna Paquin in "The Piano"), and More Than Just a Pretty Face (Kim Basinger in "L.A. Confidential," Angelina Jolie in "Girl, Interrupted").

I count more than a dozen candidates with a real shot for a nom (see below), many of them fitting the types cited above. By the way, on the pressing question of which "Atonement" gals get in, I don't buy the buzz that it's the middle one (Garai). I think we could see the young one (Ronan) and even the old one (Redgrave) even though the latter part is only a few minutes. They are the key transcending moments of the whole film.

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Jennifer Connelly, "Reservation Road"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Olympia Dukakis, "Away from Her"
Romola Garai, "Atonement"
Jennifer Garner, "Juno"
Catherine Keener, "Into the Wild"
Nicole Kidman, "The Golden Compass"
Jennifer Jason Leigh, "Margot at the Wedding"
Leslie Mann, "Knocked Up"
Kelly McDonald, "No Country for Old Men"
Vanessa Redgrave, "Atonement"
Julia Roberts, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Emmanuelle Seigner, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Meryl Streep, "Lions for Lambs"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"

Finally! The trailer for 'Charlie Wilson's War'

October 11, 2007 | 10:12 pm

Here it is at last — the movie trailer to a flick some Oscarologists believe is the frontrunner to win best picture! CLICK HERE!


(Photo: Universal)

'Savages' snaps out of it, moves up release date

September 25, 2007 |  6:16 pm

"Savages" is back to being a serious contender in the Oscar derby. Fox Searchlight just nixed its original late-December release date in order to roll it out earlier: now starting Nov. 30. Much better. That gives audiences more time to discover the subtle, sensitive performances of Oscar champ Philip Seymour Hoffman and Oscar-overdue Laura Linney as feuding siblings who must come together to put their poppa in a nursing home. Little movies like that one can't open late like they used to, back before the Oscars moved up a month. Blockbusters like "Charlie Wilson's War" starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and "Sweeney Todd" with Johnny Depp can still trot onto the track at the last sec, but those slow, artsy tortoises like "Savages" need a head start.



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