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Category: Morgan Freeman

Is Morgan Freeman the best choice for AFI tribute?

October 12, 2010 | 12:49 pm

Some of our forum posters are not impressed that the American Film Institute will bestow its lifetime achievement award upon Morgan Freeman next June. While many posters are pleased with the news, there's a surprising amount of grumbling.

Morgan Freeman American Film Institute Million Dollar Baby news

I don't understand why. Just measuring Freeman's screen accomplishment using Oscar as a yardstick, he's had a praiseworthy career, appearing in three best-picture winners: "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989). He won best supporting actor for "M$B" (as it's often abbreviated) and was nominated again in supporting for "Street Smart" (1987). He's been nominated three times in lead: "Invictus" (2009), "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) and "Driving Miss Daisy."

Three of his films are on the American Film Institute's list of "100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time": "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Glory" (1989).

Below are some comments from our message boards. See more here.

Alfred Hitchrock: For what it's worth, my favorite Morgan Freeman performance is "The Shawshank Redemption" (you know, the No. 1 movie on IMDB that film snobs love to hate) ... There, I said it!

GoBlue! This is a great honor for a great American actor! sohappy

Brilliance inmorbid: Never been a Freeman fan. His filmography is overwhelmingly bland (oxymoron).

Streep Fan: Is Olivia De Havilland not interested?

oscarnutlen: Morgan Freeman is a fine actor but his body of work is underwhelming...he isn't a major movie star .... he is basically a character actor...I guess the AFI standards are going down the drain as well as every other award in this country. In a year where he will probably receive his 7th Oscar nomination..Robert Duvall would have been a better choice.

seanflynn: Freeman is a better actor than either Robert Redford and Woody Allen, is a major star, deserves this. That said, this award is given to someone whose presence will sell a lot of tickets and tables. Freeman will sell more than Duvall. That's just the way these things work.

Awardshq: Why all the hate on Morgan Freeman? He is a tremendous actor and is fully deserving of this award.

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Oscar nominations: Fascinating facts, figures and milestones

February 3, 2010 |  2:06 pm

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air Up With invaluable assistance from our many forum posters, here are interesting stats about this year's nominations for the Oscars.

Nine not so fine: "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" lead this year's derby with nine nominations each; "Nine" managed just four nominations. However, beginning with "The Life of Emile Zola" in 1937, there have been 77 films that have landed 10 or more Oscar nominations. Last year's big champ "Slumdog Millionaire" won eight of its 10 races, while "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" managed just three wins from 13 nominations.

Money matters: On nomination day, "Avatar" broke the domestic box office record of 1997 best picture champ "Titanic" when it reached $601 million in receipts. The foreign title -- also held by "Titanic" -- fell to "Avatar" last week. While "Avatar" would thus be the highest-grossing best picture champ, "The Hurt Locker" -- with domestic receipts of $12.6 million -- would be the lowest when adjusted for inflation. 

Take five: With double the number of entries in the best picture race, it is not so surprising that all five directing nominees helmed a contender. In the eight years from 1936 to 1943 when there were also 10 best picture nominees, the five directing nominees each year had a hand in one of those contenders save for 1936 and 1938. In 1936 Gregory LaCava ("My Man Godfrey") was the spoiler, while in 1938 it was Michael Curtiz ("Angels With Dirty Faces") who was the odd man out. Frank Capra took home the directing award in both those years, while Curtiz won his only Oscar in 1943 for helming "Casablanca" -- the last best picture champ to win over nine rivals. 

All in the family: Father and son Ivan and Jason Reitman are nominated for producing "Up in the Air." Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are double nominees for writing and producing "A Serious Man." Onetime married couple Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and James Cameron ("Avatar") are each nominated for best director.

Something old, something new: Supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer is a first-time contender at age 80 for his 86th movie, "The Last Station," while Gabourey Sidibe landed a lead actress nomination for her film debut in "Precious." Plummer also lends his voice to best picture nominee "Up."

Batting 1.000: Animated short nominee Nick Park ("Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death") has won all four of his previous Oscar races -- animated short (1990, 1993, 1996) and animated feature (2005). In 1990 he was a double nominee, winning for "Creature Comforts" over "A Grand Day Out with Wallace & Gromit." In 1993 he won for "Wallace & Gromit in the Wrong Trousers," in 1996 for "Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave" and in 2005 for "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

Animated features: "Up" is the second animated feature after "Beauty and the Beast" to contend for best picture. While "Beauty" had five other nominations in 1991, including three song bids, score and sound, "Up" is contending in four other categories -- screenplay, score, sound editing and animated feature. That last category wasn't created till 2001, and this is only the second year -- after 2002, when "Spirited Away" won -- that there have been five rather than three nominees.

Only the lonely: The nominations for lead actor Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), lead actress Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and supporting actor Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones") are the only Oscar nods for those films.

Return engagement: Only two of last year's acting nominees are back in the Oscar race this year -- lead actress nominee Meryl Streep and supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz ("Nine"). Cruz -- who won that same award last year for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" -- follows in the footsteps of supporting actress champs Estelle Parsons ("Bonnie & Clyde," 1967) and Lee Grant ("Shampoo," 1975), who both contended again the year after their victory; neither won. Bette Davis and Greer Garson share the record of most consecutive years nominated at five apiece in the lead actress category. Davis kicking off her reign in 1938 with a win for "Jezebel" while Garson began her run in 1941 with a nod for "Blossoms in the Dust."

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Photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

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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."

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

February 2, 2010 |  8:11 am
Sandra Bullock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first-time nominees are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Forum posters predict Jeff Bridges will finally win at Oscars

January 8, 2010 |  9:10 am
Crazy heart jeff bridges oscars news

Our forum posters have been just as busy as the pro pundits when it comes to predicting the top Oscar races. They have already weighed in on best picture (a tossup between "Avatar" and "Up in the Air) and best actress (Meryl Streep to win for "Julie and Julia") and now turn to the best actor race. Five of our six forum posters -- Atypical, Bocaboy7, Dr. McPhearson, Kams, and seanflynn -- predict Jeff Bridges to finally prevail at the Oscars for "Crazy Heart," his fifth bid  The sixth -- Pacinofan -- thinks George Clooney will win his second Oscar for "Up in the Air," while the rest have him in second place. Contenders are ranked according to their likelihood of winning.

BEST ACTOR Atypical Bocaboy7 Dr. McPhearson Kams Pacinofan seanflynn
Jeff Bridges, 'Crazy Heart'

1

1

1

1

2

1

George Clooney, 'Up in the Air'

2

2

2

2

1

2

Colin Firth, 'A Single Man'

3

3

3

3

3

3

Morgan Freeman, 'Invictus'

4

4

4

4

4

4

Jeremy Renner, 'The Hurt Locker' 

5

5

   

5

5

Daniel Day-Lewis, 'Nine'      

5

 

 

Michael Stuhlbarg, 'A Serious Man'    

5

   

 

Photo: Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart." Credit: Fox Searchlight

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Is 'Country Girl' in serious trouble at the Tonys?

April 24, 2008 | 11:41 am

Our pal Michael Riedel, who covers the Broadway beat for the New York Post, reports that the revival of "The Country Girl," due to open Sunday, is on shaky ground. According to Riedel, critics are being kept away till Friday night as the Oscar-winning star Morgan Freeman "is still struggling with his lines." Though his costars, Oscar winner Frances McDormand and Tony nominee Peter Gallagher, acquit themselves, Riedel says unnecessary cuts to the script of the 1950 Clifford Odets play are to blame for the trouble.

Country_girl

This explains the surprise snub of this production by the Outer Critics Circle. That group of theater journalists would have had to attend one of the previews that was fraught with fumbles in order for the show to be eligible for consideration. And though the three actors are among the 69 competing for the Distinguished Performance award from the Drama League, this production was left off the league's list of eight plays up for Distinguished Revival.

Grand-slam award winner Mike Nichols (Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony) is helming this second rialto revival of Odets' domestic drama about an alcoholic actor (Freeman), his long-suffering wife (McDormand), and their stalwart friend (Gallagher). He has not directed a straight play on Broadway since "Death and the Maiden" back in 1992. That tense drama about torture starred two Oscar winners -- Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman -- as well as perennial Oscar bridesmaid Glenn Close, who won a Tony for best actress. This time around, as per Riedel, Nichols is relying on the advice of playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who was recently bounced from "Brothers & Sisters" -- a TV show he created.

Freeman's last appearance on Broadway was in 1988 as a metaphoric messenger in a short-lived allegorical musical "The Gospel at Colonus." He made his Broadway debut 40 years ago in the Pearl Bailey-led cast of "Hello, Dolly!" He went on to a substantial stage career, picking up a Tony nod in 1978 for featured actor even though the play he was in, "The Mighty Gents," closed after nine performances. Then his film career took off with his Oscar-nominated role in "Street Smart" in 1987 and it has taken two decades to lure him back to Broadway. This meaty role of the washed-up actor earned Bing Crosby his third Oscar nomination for the 1954 film version and Jason Robards the sixth of his eight Tony nominations for the 1972 revival. (They lost to Marlon Brando ["On the Waterfront"] and Lenny Gorman ["Lenny"], respectively.)

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Jack's back — for lucky #13 Oscar bid?

August 13, 2007 | 11:55 am

Bucket_list_2Pay no attention to the Jan. 18, 2008 release date at IMDB.com for "The Bucket List," which stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as terminally ill rascals who escape from a cancer ward and take off on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they kick the bucket.

A Warner Bros. rep confirms that it'll be released in derby-friendly December, but, beware: it's largely a comedy, a genre Oscar voters often laugh off. And Rob Reiner directed it. Sure, that means the pic is probably good ("The Princess Bride," "This Is Spinal Tap"), but he's not quite an academy darling. Reiner's been nommed three times by DGA ("A Few Good Men," "When Harry Met Sally," "Stand By Me"), but he's never been acknowledged by the academy's directors' branch despite the fact that the full membership nommed "A Few Good Men" for best pic.

However, Nicholson earned a supporting nom for starring in "Good Men," so maybe he can be a contender again. He'll compete in the lead race for "Bucket List," but it's currently unclear if Freeman will go lead, too, or supporting. Jack should've been nommed in supporting for best-pic champ "The Departed," but he didn't clear up category confusion until too late so he ended up slipping between the category cracks. This end-of-life road-trip role in "Bucket List" looks a lot like his turn in "About Schmidt," which was his last nom. The actors' branch seems to like Reiner flicks. Kathy Bates won a lead trophy for Reiner's "Misery."

Jack needs to hurry up, if he wants to catch up to Meryl Streep in the race for most nominations. Current score: Jack 12, Meryl (the champ) 14. Meryl's not slowing down. She's got two more shots this year: "Rendition" and "Lions for Lambs."

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