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Category: Matt Damon

Oscars poll: Who'll win best supporting actor?

October 29, 2010 |  3:48 pm

Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") dominated last year's Oscar race for supporting actor from the outset, but now there's no early front-runner.

Oscars supporting actorThere's a lot of support for Geoffrey Rush's flamboyant role as wily voice coach to Britain's stammering King George VI in "The King's Speech," but voters may feel been-there-done-that due to his 1996 lead actor win for "Shine."

What's curious is that this race isn't overshadowed by the kind of villainous role that ruled this category, with fiendish terror, in recent years (Christoph Waltz, Javier Bardem, Heath Ledger). However, there are a lot of bad-boy roles, including Sam Rockwell as a hooligan wrongly imprisoned for murder in "Conviction," Jeremy Renner as a bully bank robber in "The Town," Mark Ruffalo ("The Kids Are All Right") as a lothario who tries to break up a happy lesbian liaison and Justin Timberlake ("The Social Network") as Napster's founding rascal.

Rockwell has an edge — he's got a lead role hiding in this supporting race (always a plus). Renner holds an Oscar IOU, having top-lined last year's best picture, "The Hurt Locker," losing the lead actor race to Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart").

But two other bad-boy roles are standouts for other, personal reasons. Christian Bale gives a knock-out performance as a street thug turned boxing trainer in "The Fighter," but his personal woes may be foremost on voters' minds. They may want to embrace him as he rebounds from recent tabloid scandals. Michael Douglas won lead actor of 1987 as a heartless corporate raider in "Wall Street," but now that he reprises the role in the sequel, academy members may be eager to comfort him as he battles Stage 4 cancer.

Vote also in our poll asking: Who will win for best supporting actress?

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Photos: Christian Bale in "The Fighter" (Paramount), Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech" (Weinstein Co.)

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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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Calling all psychics: Will 'Hereafter' return Clint Eastwood to the Oscars?

September 13, 2010 |  2:07 pm

Clint Eastwood has had trouble getting back into the Oscar race lately. After winning best picture way back in 1992 ("Unforgiven"), he had a great run from 2003 to 2006 with two best-pic nominees ("Mystic River," "Letters From Iwo Jima") and one more champ ("Million Dollar Baby"), but then he got tripped up. His later films scored acting bids for Angelina Jolie ("Changeling") and Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon ("Invictus"), but they didn't make the best-picture contest. "Gran Torino" got shut out of all  categories, but most Oscarologists believe it would have done better if it had been released to theaters a few weeks earlier.

Hereafter Clint Eastwood news

Trotting out onto the derby track next: Clint's "Hereafter," which just broke out of the gate at the Toronto International Film Festival. It's hard to size up because it's not a typical Clint flick. It's part blockbuster (a tsunami hits in the first few minutes) and part sci-fi/fantasy (Matt Damon stars as a reluctant, real psychic) — two film genres that sometimes have trouble at the Oscars (except if they're "Avatar"). However, lots of Oscar royalty is involved, including producers Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Peter Morgan ("Frost/Nixon," "The Queen," "Last King of Scotland"). Plus lots of academy darlings in the crafts/tech areas.

Reviews have been mixed but mostly positive from major media sources.

ROGER EBERT, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: "I was surprised how enthralling I found it. ... 'Hereafter' is unlike any film Clint Eastwood has ever made, but you'd think he'd been preparing it for years."

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: "The film never is less than intriguing, right from its tour de force opening sequence, and often full of insights into why people long for answers, sometimes with great urgency. ... As with 'Letters From Iwo Jima' and 'Million Dollar Baby,' Eastwood has made a movie that shakes up the whole notion of what studio movies can be."

VARIETY: " 'Hereafter' is a beguiling blend of the audacious and the familiar but is armored against risibility by its deep pockets of emotion, sly humor and matter-of-fact approach to the fantastical."

Cinematical is among its detractors, blasting it as an "unchallenging dullard," but "Hereafter" may be critic-proof. I have a hunch it's going to be a blockbuster hit — just like "Ghost," which gave the masses the same comforting assurance that dead loved ones can communicate with us through the veil. "Ghost" spooked its detractors at the box office, pulling in $217 million domestically. At the Oscars, it reaped five nominations, including a surprise best-picture bid. It won two: best original screenplay (Bruce Joel Rubin) and supporting actress (Whoopi Goldberg).

Back in 1990, there were only half as many slots for best picture, of course. Until we observe how "Hereafter" performs after its theatrical release on Oct. 22, it's unwise to believe some Oscarologists who say it's not a strong contender for best picture. No doubt they're the same Oscarologists who pooh-poohed the possibility of another commercial, feel-good flick breaking in last year: "The Blind Side."

Hereafter clint eastwood tiff news 2
Hereafter clint eastwood tiff news

Photos, from top: "Hereafter." Credit: Warner Bros. Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon arrive at Toronto's Elgin Theatre for "Hereafter's" North American premiere. Eastwood, left, film costar Bryce Dallas Howard and Damon on stage before the film unspooled.  Credit: Tom O'Neil

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Gold Derby nuggets: Matt Damon guesting on '30 Rock' | 'Law & Order' updates | Emmy-winner David Mills dies at 48

March 31, 2010 |  4:34 pm

30_rock_logoMatt Damon will make a rare appearance on TV when he reunites with Alec Baldwin -- a co-star from "The Departed" -- on "30 Rock." The Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Good Will Hunting" was at the top of Tina Fey's wish list of guest stars. Last fall Damon told Mike Ausiello he was a huge fan of the show and "would do it in a heartbeat if they asked me to come on. I have not been approached about doing it. She (Fey) should call my people or even better me." That phone call was made and Damon will play the latest in a long line of ill-fated suitors for Fey's character. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin ("Children of a Lesser God") produced a TV pilot -- "My Deaf Family" -- that featured a California family with deaf parents and hearing children. When it didn't sell, she turned to YouTube -- which offers closed captioning -- to generate interest in the idea. As she tells Alex Pham, "I guess in this world where economics, number crunching and demographics are what drive decisions, you have to roll up your sleeves and find other ways to prove that your show is good TV. I wouldn't mind an exclusive online agreement or network agreement, as long as I can find the means to tell more stories about this fascinating family." COMPANY TOWN

• Add Isabelle Huppert to the growing list of movie stars who have guested on TV's "Law & Order: SVU." As per exec producer Neal Baer, the Gallic great will appear in the upcoming 10th season finale as the mother of a kidnapped child. Huppert is the Meryl Streep of French cinema, having been nominated for 13 Cesar Awards but winning only once -- in 1996 for "La Ceremonie." She has rarely worked in English since making the misfire "Heaven's Gate" in 1980. Another French film star -- Leslie Caron -- was one of four guest actresses on "SVU" to win Emmys for their appearances. AP

Law & Order logoNellie Andreeva reports that NBC's renewal for a record 21st season of "Law & Order" could be contingent on a new deal with TNT which carries the procedural in a second window. "Law & Order" won the Emmy for best drama series in 1997 and has contended 10 more times, most recently in 2002. THR

• Should "Law & Order" sign off this year, Olympic gold medallist Lindsay Vonn will be one of the show's last guest stars. The ski champ will feature in the season finale as a key witness in a terrorism case. AP

Mark Malkin delivers the news that Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe will be guest host of an upcoming episode of "Saturday Night Live." The "Precious" leading lady has been busy already this year with her recurring role on the new Showtime series "The C Word" opposite Laura Linney. E ONLINE

• "Glee" star Jane Lynch will be feted with the achievement award at the 14th annual Outfest in L.A. on July 8. That marks opening night for the gay and lesbian film festival. Previous recipients of the top kudo have included filmmakers Don Roos, Jane Anderson and Rob Epstein, all of whom were recognized for significant contributions to the LGBT film and media. OUTFEST

The Corner DVD cover • Scribe David Mills -- who won two Emmys in 2002 for "The Corner" -- died suddenly in New Orleans Tuesday at age 48. He was in the city as part of the production team for the upcoming HBO series "Treme." Over the years, Mills also picked up Emmy nominations for his writing on "NYPD Blue" and for producing that show and "ER."  Before his stellar TV career, Mills was a journalist and his controversial 1992 interview with rapper Sister Souljah became part of that year's presidential campaign. NOLA

• Fans of "The Amazing Race" will get a chance to run their own version of the show in Europe this summer. A Cleveland company is offering 17 teams the chance to compete for a $9,000 cash prize by completing various tasks over a nine-day period including a 4,000-foot-high alpine toboggan. Cost to enter is $2,675 per person. The CBS Sunday night staple has never lost the race for best reality series at the Emmys since the category was introduced back in 2003. NEW YORK TIMES

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Top photo: "30 Rock" logo. Credit: NBC

Middle photo: "Law & Order" logo. Credit: NBC

Bottom photo: "The Corner" DVD cover. Credit: HBO

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Glee' gives back | Tonys a no-go for Conan O'Brien | 'Avatar' rules Empire awards | 'Lost' finale finds big bucks

March 30, 2010 |  7:00 am

Glee_logo • "Glee" fans who can't wait for the return of the freshman hit to Fox on April 13 can see the show a few days early at "Glee" charity screenings in nine cities nationwide. Monies raised from the preview of the 14th episode of the Golden Globe-winning musical comedy series will support the school music program run by the Grammys foundation.

• Oscars co-host Steve Martin told Sandy Cohen he wasn't nervous the second time around on the stage of the Kodak Theater because he has been performing live so much as of late. The musical Martin has been strumming the banjo out on tour with the Steep Canyon Rangers. AP

• Add comic-book star to the list of achievements for daytime and prime-time Emmy champ Ellen DeGeneres. The one-time Oscar host is featured in a series of comics from Bluewater Productions that salute women of power. Previous installments of the series have spotlighted politicos Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi as well as TV legends Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey.

• Reporting on Sunday's American Cinematheque fete for Matt Damon, Josh Duboff notes, "It was more like a Comedy Central roast than a stuffy Hollywood ceremony." Among those skewering Damon were his best bud and Oscar-winning screenplay collaborator Ben Affleck ("Good Will Hunting"), that film's acting Oscar champ,  Robin Williams, and Oscar winners George Clooney, Clint Eastwood and Charlize Theron. The ceremony will air on ABC sometime in the coming months. NEW YORK

Tony Award • CBS offered Conan O'Brien the hosting gig at the upcoming Tony Awards, but the onetime NBC star declined. Reports are that O'Brien had agreed to forego appearing on TV until Sept. 1 when the peacock net paid him nearly $45 million after he was yanked from "The Tonight Show" just seven months into his contract. However, O'Brien is still going legit as he hits the road beginning April 12 with the 30-city tour of the aptly titled "The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour." GOSSIP COP

• Two contenders for this year's Tony Awards are shuttering on Sunday, well in advance of the June 13 ceremony. The first rialto revival of the 1960 Tony-winning play "The Miracle Worker," starring Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") and Tony nominee Alison Pill ("The Lieutenant of Inishmore), opened to mixed reviews March 3. And the musical melange "All About Me" with Tony champ Dame Edna Everage ("The Royal Tour") and cabaret darling Michael Feinstein never found its footing after debuting March 18 to middling notices. These unexpected theater vacancies may well be filled by other shows rushing into town before the April 29 cutoff for Tony eligibility.

• Investing in a Broadway show is not for the fainthearted so the news that the musical "Next to Normal" has recouped its $4-million budget is indeed welcome. The tuner, about a woman battling bipolar disorder, won star Alice Ripley the lead actress award at last year's Tonys, bested "Billy Elliot" for score and tied with that show for orchestrations as well. Composer Tom Kitt credits the performance by the cast on the kudoscast with making the difference between profit and loss. "It seemed that our performance in a national forum that night created a new interest in the show." NEW YORK TIMES

Avatar Poster • On Sunday, "Avatar" picked up three awards, including best picture, from the U.K. film magazine Empire. James Cameron, who took the best director prize, attended the ceremony at London's Grosvenor House and said in his acceptance speech (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) that, "clearly the Empire magazine readership is more discerning than the British or American academies." No doubt Cameron was especially pleased that the film's performance-capture star Zoe Saldana won best actress. Supporting actor Oscar champ Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") went home with the best actor award. EMPIRE

• 1996 supporting actress Oscar champ Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") has a starring role on the official poster of the Cannes film festival, set to unspool for the 63rd time beginning May 12 for a dozen days along the Croisette.

Rachel Weisz -- the 2005 supporting actress Oscar winner for "The Constant Gardener" -- may be battling James Bond in the 23rd installment of the long-running movie franchise. Weisz, who appears opposite Bond star Daniel Craig in the upcoming "Dream House," has joked in the past about being a Bond girl. But the plan is to have her star as the head of Quantum, the evil organization that has beset Bond in the last two movies. CINEMA BLEND

• Last year, Tim Allen reunited with the cast of "Home Improvement" to receive the Fan Favorite prize at the TV Land Awards. On April 17, he will host the eighth edition of these kudos at Sony Studios, with the festivities airing on the cable net on April 25. Among the already announced recipients are "Everybody Loves Raymond" (Impact award), "Glee" (Future Classic award) and, appropriately enough, the Legend award to both Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. And Farrah Fawcett -- who was left out of the "In Memoriam" segment of the Oscars -- will be paid tribute by her "Charlie's Angels" costars.

Lost_Logo • The 2005 Emmy-winning best drama series "Lost" signs off for good on May 23, and the alphabet net is reportedly looking for $900,000 -- that is four times the usual rate -- for a 30-second spot on the two-hour finale. Although that would make it the most expensive ad buy for a series this season, it is a real bargain next to the $2.3 million that some advertisers paid to NBC for spots on the finale of "Friends" in 2004. No word yet on what Fox will charge for the two-hour series finale of the 2006 Emmy-winning best drama series -- "24" -- when it airs the following night. AD AGE

• Add Adam Lambert to the list of bold-faced names topped by Tom Ford appearing at the L.A. celebration of the 21st annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 17. Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teenager whose high school canceled the prom rather than allow Constance and her girlfriend to attend, will present the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to Wanda Sykes. GLAAD

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First photo: "Glee" logo. Credit: Fox

Second photo: Tony Award statue. Credit: American Theater Wing

Third photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Fourth photo: "Lost" logo. Credit: ABC

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Mo'Nique to be among no-shows at Oscars nominees luncheon

February 12, 2010 |  1:27 pm

Oscar_statues_061908Oscars nominees will gather together for the annual academy luncheon Monday and 14 of the 20 acting nominees will be among the more than 120 attendees. Just how important is this breaking of bread while the Oscars ballots are still being cast?

Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") has arranged her travel schedule to be at the festivities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The New York-based actress skipped the luncheon last year when she was a nominee for "Doubt" and three years ago when she contended for "The Devil Wears Prada" -- she lost both those races. Indeed, all of the best actress contenders but Helen Mirren ("The Last Station") -- who won this award three years ago for "The Queen" -- will be there as will all five of the best actor nominees.

However, supporting actress frontrunner Mo'Nique ("Precious") has sent in her regrets. With her talk show based in Atlanta, Mo'Nique has had to pick and choose which West Coast events to attend. Also MIA will be last year's supporting actress Oscar winner Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona"), who contends again in this category for "Nine."

Just two of the five supporting actor nominees will be there -- Woody Harrelson ("The Last Messenger") and Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds"). Missing will be Matt Damon ("Invictus"), Christopher Plummer ("The Last Station") and Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones").

All five directing nominees -- Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), James Cameron ("Avatar"), Lee Daniels ("Precious"), Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Basterds") -- are scheduled to attend, as are many of the Academy Award nominees in the other 19 races.

Look for the historic group photo here Monday afternoon.

Photo: Academy Award statuettes Credit: AMPAS

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' vs. 'The Hurt Locker' | Oscars boost box office | 'Avatar' and 'emotion capture'

February 3, 2010 |  5:04 pm

The Hurt Locker posterSteve Pond analyzes the matchup at the Oscars between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" by delving into the numbers of academy members in each of the branches that nominated the movies. "First, we’ll start with the categories that nominated one film, but not the other. For 'Avatar,' that was Art Direction and Visual Effects. For 'The Hurt Locker,' Original Screenplay and Best Actor. So now we have four AMPAS branches going on record to say that they prefer one film over the other. Here, the numbers don’t favor James Cameron’s big hit: The art directors branch of the Academy contains 374 members, the visual effects branch 279. On the 'Hurt Locker' side, the writers branch has 382 members, while the actors branch is by far the Academy’s largest, with 1,205. So Kathryn Bigelow’s film comes out with a big lead, 1,587 members to 653." THE ODDS

Sasha Stone considers the best picture Oscar nominees in terms of the precursor awards and says, "The preferential balloting is the trick here. There are films that are poised to upset either 'Avatar' or 'The Hurt Locker' and those would be, as you can see below, 'Precious,' 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'Up in the Air' and, most surprising of all, 'Up.' Of those, only 'Precious' has editing, director, screenplay and two acting nods. That puts it in a startlingly good position heading into this race. Next in line is 'Basterds' with editing, director, screenplay and one acting nod. 'Up in the Air' has all of those, THREE acting nods (the most of any film?) but no editing. Finally, 'Up' is the kind of overall crowdpleaser that could sneak up and become the first animated film to win Best Pic. But probably we’re looking a very obvious answer here. The only problem, being, of course, if everyone puts the one film at number one." AWARDS DAILY

Anthony Breznican spent the wee small hours of Oscar nominations morning with academy president Tom Sherak and co-announcer Anne Hathaway. As Anthony writes, "Hathaway has on her game face. 'I'm doing the foreign-picture announcements, which is very nice for Tom to hand over,' she jokes. 'He took animated (with titles such as 'Up' and 'Coraline') and gave me foreign films (which include 'El Secreto de Sus Ojos').' She has been singing show tunes as the makeup and hair people put on some finishing touches." USA TODAY

Oscars Expanded Best Picture RaceClaudia Eller and Ben Fritz catalog how "every studio with a best picture nominee made plans today to benefit from Oscar attention, be it by drawing new audiences to existing theaters, expanding into new theaters or bringing attention to DVDs." For example, when it comes to "An Education," "Sony Pictures Classics will expand the British drama, which has collected $8.8 million so far in the U.S. and Canada, from 75 theaters to 760 this Friday." COMPANY TOWN

Melena Ryzik looks beyond the best picture nominees and discovers that any Oscar attention can make a difference. Consider "The Messenger"  which earned nods for supporting actor and screenplay. "The studio is redesigning the poster 'so the nominations are on top,' David Fenkel, a partner, told the Bagger. The film, which stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster as military men tasked with delivering grim news to families, has been in theaters since November and has grossed less than $1 million so far. With the nominations to build on, it will double the number of screens in the coming weeks, Mr. Fenkel said, in cities like Philadelphia, Boston and Phoenix. 'The idea is that now the film, with the nominations, will be perceived as bigger than its box office gross, no matter where it ends up,' he said." THE CARPETBAGGER

Greg Ellwood reviews some of the bigger surprises in Tuesday's Oscar nominations including a snub of four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore "seemingly knocked out of the Best Supporting Race by 'Crazy Heart's Maggie Gyllenhaal. Considering 'Heart' didn't get into the ten, it shows how little appeal Tom Ford's 'A Single Man' had with the Academy. The drama received only one nod for actor Colin Firth." HIT FIX

Nathaniel Rogers reviews the Oscar nominations and reveals some interesting statistics -- "Meryl Streep has been nominated for 37% of her screen appearances" -- as well as some offbeat ones -- "We have five Leos (Woody, Sandra, Helen, Anna and Vera). I guess that's not surprising given Leo's show off nature but no Aquarius, Pisces or Aries nominees."  THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Avatar Golden Globes winner James Cameron Zoe Saldana Sam Worthington • "Avatar" does not number any acting bids among its nine Oscar nominations and, as Alex Ben Block reports, this is frustrating for the filmmakers. "'People confuse what we have done with animation,' Cameron told THR at the PGA Awards. 'It's nothing like animation. The creator here is the actor, not the unseen hand of an animator.' The Oscars snub is 'a disappointment,' said producer Jon Landau, 'but I blame ourselves for not educating people in the right way.' Landau explained that they needed to make clear that the system they used represents a new way to use motion capture photography, or as Landau puts it, 'emotion capture.' A key breakthrough in 'Avatar' involves photographing facial features of the actors with a tiny camera suspended from a skull cap in front of the performer's face that caught every twitch and muscle movement, all faithfully reproduced onscreen." THR

• He may not have won the academy over with his adapted screenplay for "Invictus" but Anthony Peckham is to be feted by the Writers Guild of America, West with the Paul Selvin award which recognizes written work that embody the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties. As WGAW president John Wells said in making the announcement: "Anthony Peckham’s screenplay for 'Invictus' perfectly illustrates what the Paul Selvin Award stands for, expertly conveying how only a few men can unite to impact positive change, and have that change resonate around the world." WGAW

• Grand slam awards winner Mel Brooks reminisces about his late wife Anne Bancroft in this touching interview. Brooks tells John Carucci that "Bancroft always had his best interests at heart right until the end. One of the last things she did was help him structure 'Young Frankenstein' as a musical. 'She suggested where and when to sing, and what to save (from the film version),' Brooks said. 'She was wonderful.' Bancroft did not live to see the show's Broadway opening in late 2007. 'I had to open it without her,' Brooks says, choking up. 'It was hard. It's still hard.'" AP

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Top photo: "The Hurt Locker " poster. Credit: Summit

Middle photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

Bottom photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox 

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Oscars guided by guild awards in nominations

February 2, 2010 | 10:01 am

Oscars New Members movie news 1357986 This year, 19 of the 20 SAG acting nominees are contending at the Academy Awards. The only one not to make the cut was SAG supporting actress contender Diane Kruger ("Inglourious Basterds"), who was replaced on the Oscars ballot by Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart").

Last year, 18 of the 19 SAG acting nominees repeated at the Academy Awards. As double SAG nominee Kate Winslet was bumped up by the Oscars from supporting to lead for "The Reader," she was denied a lead nod for "Revolutionary Road." However, that film's Michael Shannon managed to knock SAG nominee Dev Patel of "Slumdog Millionaire" out of the supporting race.

Two years ago, 15 of the 20 SAG nominees went on to compete at the Oscars. Three years ago, it was also 19 of the 20 with the one variation coming from the same film -- "The Departed" -- as SAG nominee Leonardo DiCaprio was replaced at Oscar time by Mark Wahlberg.

Four of the five SAG-nominated ensembles appear in Oscar-nominated best pictures with only "Nine" not making it into the top 10. Last year, four of the five SAG-nominated ensembles also did so, with SAG contender "Doubt" replaced by "The Reader." "Slumdog Millionaire" won both awards. Two years ago, only one SAG ensemble nominee -- "No Country for Old Men" -- made it into the best picture race, although that film won both prizes as well. Three years ago, it was three of five, with "Little Miss Sunshine" taking the SAG prize but losing the top Oscar to "The Departed."

Last year, all five of the lead actress nominees also competed for both awards. Two years ago, it was four of five as the only SAG nominee not needing a babysitter come Oscar night was Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart"), whose spot went to "The Savages" star Laura Linney.

As with this year, last year's supporting actress race matched up only four to five as the promotion of Winslet for "The Reader" left room at the Oscars for the addition of Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler"). Two years ago, this race was also four for five with SAG nominee Catherine Keener ("Into the Wild") replaced by Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement").

Last year, lead actor also matched up perfectly. Two years ago, it went three for five with the SAG nominees as relative newcomers Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild") and Ryan Gosling ("Lars and the Real Girl") were replaced at the Oscars by Hollywood vets Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd") and Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah").

Last year's supporting actor race was four for five with Shannon replacing Patel. Two years ago, SAG nominee Tommy Lee Jones ("No Country for Old Men") was replaced by Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War").

This year, the DGA lineup is repeated at the Oscars. Last year's DGA picks for best director matched up with four of the five academy choices as DGA nominee Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight") was edged out at the Oscars by Stephen Daldry ("The Reader"). Two years ago, DGA nominee Sean Penn ("Into the Wild") lost his Oscar slot to Jason Reitman, who helmed best pic nominee "Juno."

Of this year's 10 PGA nominees for best picture, eight of them earned Oscar nods. The exceptions: One box office champ -- "Star Trek" -- was replaced by another -- "The Blind Side" -- and one set of Oscar favorites -- Clint Eastwood and "Invictus" -- was replaced by another -- the Coen brothers and "A Serious Man."

Last year, the PGA went four for five with the Oscar contenders as "The Dark Knight" was bumped by "The Reader." Two years ago, it was also four for five with PGA nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" replaced by "Atonement."

This year, only two of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay -- "The Hurt Locker" and "A Serious Man" -- are contending at the Oscars. Last year, just one of the five WGA nominees for original screenplay made it into the Oscar race -- eventual winner Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"). Two years ago, the WGA picks lined up with the Oscar nominees except for "Knocked Up," which was knocked out of the competition by the team that whipped up "Ratatouille."

The adapted screenplay Oscar race only includes two of the WGA nominees as well -- "Precious" and "Up in the Air." Last year, the Oscars went four for five with only the WGA nominees for "The Dark Knight" bumped by David Hare, who adapted "The Reader." Two years ago, Sean Penn, who wowed the WGA with his adaptation of "Into the Wild," was snubbed at the Oscars as was the scripter for "Zodiac." They were replaced by "Atonement" adapter Christopher Hampton and first time writer-director Sarah Polley.

The Oscar nominees for best cinematography line up with the American Society of Cinematographers choices with the exception of "Nine" lenser Dion Beebe, who was replaced by "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" shooter Bruno Delbonnel. Last year, ASC nominee Roger Deakins ("Revolutionary Road") was replaced at the Oscars by Tom Stern for "Changeling." Two years ago, the ASC went five for five.

This year, the Oscar nominees for editing include just three of the American Cinema Editors' picks as the cutters for "Inglourious Basterds" and "Precious" replace those for "Star Trek" and "Up in the Air." Last year, the nominees lined up, and two years ago, ACE nominee "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was replaced by "Michael Clayton."

Continue reading »

Oscars welcome dozen first-time acting nominees, including Sandra Bullock

February 2, 2010 |  8:11 am
Sandra Bullock

This year's 20 acting nominees include five previous Oscar acting winners, another three previous Oscar contenders and 12 newcomers.

"Julie & Julia" star Meryl Streep is the only two-time Academy Award-winner contending this year. She widened the gap for the most total acting nominations by earning her 16th nod today. And she broke Katharine Hepburn's record of an even dozen Oscar nominations in the lead race, landing what she must hope will he her lucky 13th bid.

Streep's already staggering total of 15 previous bids exceeds the track record of the other four Oscar winners by four nominations. She has a supporting actress win for "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979) and a lead actress win for "Sophie's Choice" (1982). She has 11 more lead actress noms for "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1981), "Silkwood" (1983), "Out of Africa" (1985), "Ironweed" (1987), "A Cry in the Dark" (1988), "Postcards from the Edge" (1990), "The Bridges of Madison County" (1995), "One True Thing" (1998), "Music of the Heart" (1999), "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) and "Doubt" (2008) as well as two supporting actress nods for "The Deer Hunter" (1978) and "Adaptation" (2002).

The other acting Oscar winners in the running once more are:

Lead actress nominee Helen Mirren ("The Last Station") -- lead actress win for "The Queen" (2006); supporting actress nods for "The Madness of King George" (1994), "Gosford Park" (2001).

Lead actor nominee George Clooney ("Up in the Air") -- supporting actor win for "Syriana" (2005); lead actor nod for "Michael Clayton" (2007).

Lead actor nominee Morgan Freeman ("Invictus") -- supporting actor win for "Million Dollar Baby" (2004); supporting actor nod for "Street Smart" (1987); lead actor nods for "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989), "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994).

Supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz ("Nine") -- supporting actress win for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008); lead actress nod for "Volver" (2006).

Among the previous Oscar nominees, lead actor Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") has four unsuccessful bids: supporting actor -- "The Last Picture Show" (1971); "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" (1974); "The Contender" (2000); and lead actor -- "Starman" (1984). Other past contenders back in the race are:

Supporting actor nominee Matt Damon, "Invictus" -- lead actor nod for "Good Will Hunting" (1997). (He won in the screenplay race.)

Supporting actor nominee Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger" -- lead actor nod for "The People v. Larry Flynt" (1996).

The first-time nominees are:

Lead actress contenders Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Gabby Sidibe ("Precious").

Lead actor contenders Colin Firth ("A Single Man") and Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker").

Supporting actress contenders Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart"), Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air") and Mo'Nique ("Precious").

Supporting actor contenders Christopher Plummer ("The Last Station"), Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones") and Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds").

Of last year's 20 acting nominees, five were previous Oscar champs, including eventual lead actor winner Sean Penn ("Milk); another six were previous Oscar nominees including the other three acting winners -- lead actress Kate Winslet ("The Reader")  and supporting players Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight") and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona") -- and nine were newcomers.

Two years ago among the 19 acting nominees, six were previous Oscar winners, including lead actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"); four, including supporting actor champ Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"), were previous nominees; and nine were first-time Oscar contenders, including the two women who won –- lead actress Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") and supporting actress Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton").

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Photo: Sandra Bullock in a scene from "The Blind Side." Credit: Warner Bros.

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Oscars predix: Who's ahead in the best actor derby

November 6, 2009 |  9:46 am
Invictus Colin Firth George Clooney

Already our savvy forum moderators gave us their gutsy Oscars predix for best picture and lead actress. Now these pundits come out swinging over the lead actors' slugfest: Chris "Boomer" Beachum, Matthew "Boidiva02" Cormier, Darrin "DoubleD" Dortch, Robert "Rob L" Licuria, Andrew "andrew" Pickett and Paul Sheehan. Read the reax of our regular forum posters here.

Personally, my own picks are Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Firth and Viggo Mortensen. I'd like to add Freeman to my lineup too, but I have a hunch that it's probably an emotionally reserved role, like Nelson Mandela in real life, and maybe even a supporting one. I have a sneaky suspicion that Warner Bros. is pushing Freeman in the lead category for "Invictus" so he doesn't compete against costar Matt Damon, who is being shoved down to supporting so that he doesn't compete against his rival lead performance in Warner Bros.'s "The Informant!" Just a suspicion. No proof — yet. But this Damon setup looks a lot like the same mess involving Leonardo DiCaprio caught between clashing Warner Bros. films "The Departed" and "Blood Diamond."

LEAD ACTOR Beachum Cormier Dortch Licuria Pickett Sheehan
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"    

X

 

X

X

George Clooney, "Up in the Air"

X

X

X

X

X

X

Matt Damon, "The Informant!"

 

X

 

X

   
Johnny Depp, "Public Enemies"  

X

       
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Nine"

X

X

 


X

X

Colin Firth, "A Single Man"

X

 

X

X

X

X

Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"

X

 

X

   

X

Viggo Mortensen, "The Road"  

X

       
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"

X

   

X

X

 
Sam Rockwell, "Moon"      

X


 
Michael Stuhlbarg, "A Serious Man"    

X

 

 

 

Photos from left: Morgan Freeman in "Invictus" (Warner Bros.), Colin Firth in "A Single Man" (Weinstein Co.), George Clooney in "Up in the Air" (Paramount)

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Continue reading »

Matt Damon: Oscars usually get it wrong

March 16, 2009 |  9:23 am

"I don't think that the awards necessarily get it right," Matt Damon told Parade. "I think they get it wrong more often than they get it right."

Matt_damon_ben_affleck_oscars

Matt Damon didn't say if he thinks the Oscars got it wrong when he and Ben Affleck won best screenplay of 1997 for "Good Will Hunting," but he apparently thinks that he should've been in the derby trot for the same film much more recently.

"I think that the best way to judge movies is, like, 10 years after they're released," he added. "I think they should actually do the awards that way. I think they should have done the Academy Awards this year for movies from 1998."

So that must mean that Matt Damon may wish not to be considered for his roles in films due out this year like Clint Eastwood's "The Human Factor," and Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret," and Paul Greengrass' "Green Zone" and Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant" till 2019.

Hey, in the photo above, doesn't it look like Damon and Affleck are trying to give back their Oscars?

Do you think they also want to give back their Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards?

Photo: ABC

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Sarah Silverman gets an awkward date with Emmy just after breaking up with Jimmy

July 17, 2008 | 11:47 am

Though Sarah Silverman may have been snubbed in the race for best comedy actress for her role in "The Sarah Silverman Program," she did pick up her first three Emmy nods today. While the first — for her guest spot on the comedy series "Monk" — and second - for a web version of her show - are reason to celebrate, the third must be bittersweet. It is for co-writing that sassy satirical song, "I'm ... Matt Damon," for her suddenly ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel, host of "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Sarah Silverman's competition ranges from two folk tunes from "Flight of the Conchords" to another satirical ditty "Sad Fitty Cent' ("MadTV") to the kid-friendly "I Ain't Got No Rhythm" ("Disney Phineas and Ferb"). Last year, the equally ribald "... in a Box" ("SNL") won Justin Timberlake his first Emmy. How far the TV tune has traveled since the now oh so innocent theme to "Love, American Style" won the first such Emmy in 1970.

By the way, Silverman should be proud of herself for making it into the final six contenders for best guest actress in a comedy series. Among those she edged out were two-time guest drama series actress winner Shirley Knight, already a 2006 nominee in this category for her work on "Desperate Housewives," Oscar nominee Amy Ryan, whose guest spot on "The Office" was so well-received she will return for at least five more episodes next season, and TV comedy vet Annie Potts for her showy role as a psychic on "Ugly Betty."


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