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Category: Penelope Cruz

Oscar poll: Who'll win best supporting actress?

October 27, 2010 |  7:31 pm

At this time last year, Mo'Nique was already out front in the Oscar race for best supporting actress based upon the early buzz generated by "Precious" at the Sundance Film Festival. And there was no stopping her thereafter, of course. This year, there is no leader.

Supporting actress

Some pundits say Helena Bonham Carter is ahead thanks to "The King's Speech's" status as a best picture front-runner, but, truth be told, her role as the beloved "queen mum" Elizabeth isn't very expressive. Other seers say Dianne Wiest is ahead for portraying Nicole Kidman's doting mom in "Rabbit Hole," but that's just because she's an automatic Oscar grabber with past victories for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Bullets Over Broadway."

Lots of Oscarologists are betting on Hailee Steinfeld because she's got the grandstanding role as a sassy tomboy in "True Grit," but that didn't help Kim Darby in 1969. Even though Darby stole every scene of the original film version (some from feisty John Wayne, who nabbed the gold for lead actor), she wasn't even nominated.

So what about Jacki Weaver, whose "Animal Kingdom" led with the most nominations at the Australian Film Institute Awards today? Read more here.

This is one of those Oscar categories that usually becomes more clear once we've heard from the film-critics' awards in early December — after they picked the likes of Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock") or Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") in past years. 

Photos: "True Grit" (Paramount), "The King's Speech" (Weinstein).

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Quiz: Who won Oscars for foreign-lingo roles?

September 22, 2010 |  7:57 am

Oscars penelope cruz

Seven actors have won Academy Awards for performances in non-English-language roles. Four of them are Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") speaking French, Roberto Benigni ("Life Is Beautiful") and Sophia Loren ("Two Women") speaking Italian and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") speaking Spanish. Who are the other three champs? To see the answer, click on the "Continue Reading" link below.

Continue reading »

Oscars have always welcomed the world

March 10, 2010 | 10:19 am

This year's Oscars numbered only one foreign-born winner -- Austria's Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds") -- among the four acting champs. However, that does not mean the Oscars are guilty of any homegrown bias. After all, six of the 20 acting nominees were from other countries, including "Nine" supporting actress contender Penelope Cruz, who is from Spain. She won that same category last year for her performance in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Indeed, at last year's Oscars, Cruz was one of just three foreign-born folk among the acting nominees but they all won, including lead actress Kate Winslet ("The Reader") and supporting actor Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight"). Winslet was the latest of 37 English actors to win Oscars, Ledger was the sixth champ from Down Under and Cruz was the second winner in a row for Spain.

Two years ago, all four acting winners came from foreign shores: Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") from England, Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") -- who made Oscars history by giving the first French-language performance to be so honored -- from France, and Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"), who was the first Spanish performer to win an Oscar.

That marked the second time in Oscars history that all four acting champs hailed from outside the United States. The first was back in 1964 when the winners were three Brits -- Rex Harrison ("My Fair Lady"), Julie Andrews ("Mary Poppins"), and Peter Ustinov ("Topkapi") -- and Russian born Lila Kedrova ("Zorba the Greek").

Foreign_oscars

The Oscars rolled out the welcome mat at the very first ceremony in 1929 when Swiss-born Emil Jannings won lead actor for his performances in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh." And three of the first four lead actresses came from Canada -- Mary Pickford ("Coquette"), Norma Shearer ("The Divorcee"), and Marie Dressler ("Min and Bill").

One of our most prolific forum posters, the aptly named Academy Awards Guru, has compiled a list of the nationalities of all 273 Oscar winners for acting. During the course of 82 ceremonies, they have won 314 Oscars (there has been one tie in each of lead actor and lead actress). Of these, 81 winners came from outside the U.S. to take home 91 Oscars. While 22 other countries have produced Oscar winners, it is not surprising that England leads with 37 of her citizens winning 43 Oscars.

Over the last 82 years at the Oscars, lead actor has gone to a non-American 24 times and lead actress 26 times while in the 73-year history of the supporting awards, non-Americans won supporting actor 22 times and supporting actress 19 times.

In the following list, the Oscar-winning performers are listed under the country with which they are most associated and their birthplace is given when it differs. In addition, those actors who were born elsewhere but raised primarily in the U.S. are not included, such as Elizabeth Taylor, born in England, Claudette Colbert in France, sisters Joan Fontaine and Olivia DeHavilland in Japan, Anthony Quinn in Mexico, and Paul Muni in the Ukraine.

Australia
Cate Blanchett
Russell Crowe (born in New Zealand; family emigrated when he was 4)
Peter Finch (born in England; family returned to Australia when he was 7)
Nicole Kidman (born in the U.S.; family returned to Australia when she was 4)
Heath Ledger
Geoffrey Rush

Continue reading »

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 rewind: 'Slumdog Millionaire' tied for most European Film Awards nominations

November 9, 2009 |  8:53 am

Slumdog Millionaire Because of differing release dates, the nominations for the 2009 European Film Awards, announced over the weekend at the Seville filmfest, span three years of Oscars eligibility. Contending for the top prize are last year's Oscar champ, "Slumdog Millionaire" -- which earned six nods -- as well as best pic nominee "The Reader." Also on the list are this year's French and German Oscar submissions for foreign film -- "A Prophet," which also earned six noms, and  "The White Ribbon" -- and one of next year's hot releases: "Fish Tank" from Britain. Rounding out the list is "Let the Right One In," which Sweden passed over last year as its official Oscar entry in favor of "Everlasting Moments."

"Slumdog Millionaire" helmer Danny Boyle and scripter Simon Beaufoy -- who both won Oscars last year -- are nominees at this year's European Film Awards, which will be held on Dec. 12 in the German city of Essen. The other nods for "Slumdog" are a bid by Oscar-winning cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle -- also recognized for his work on "Antichrist" -- lead actor Dev Patel and as one of the 10 pics in the people's choice category. Some awards purists would argue that last nod -- for a prize won by popular vote rather than being bestowed by the academy's 2,000 members -- shouldn't count in the tally, but the official nominations list includes this category.

Two years ago, 2006 best actress Oscar champ Helen Mirren ("The Queen") ended an amazing awards run with a win at the European Film Awards. Among this year's crop of best actress nominees are last year's Oscar winner, Kate Winslet ("The Reader"). Her competition includes one current potential best actress nominee -- Penelope Cruz ("Broken Embraces") -- but not another -- Audrey Tautou ("Coco Before Chanel").

For the full list of nominations, visit the European Film Academy website.

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Photo: A scene from "Slumdog Millionaire." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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Oscars predix: Who's ahead in the best-actress derby

November 5, 2009 |  9:07 am

Precious Gabourey Sidibe movies Oscars news

After piping in with their Oscars predix for best pix on Tuesday, our forums' moderators now stick out their thin, tender, trembling necks to forecast the best-actress race. Chris "Boomer" Beachum, Matthew "Boidiva02" Cormier, Darrin "DoubleD" Dortch, Robert "Rob L" Licuria, Andrew "andrew" Pickett and Paul Sheehan.

Only two actresses get the bets of all of these pundits: Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Helen Mirren ("The Last Station"). Yeah, I'm sure they're right about that duo. Those not putting their derby dollars down on Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire") and Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones") will regret it later. Personally, my fifth pick is Marion Cotillard ("Nine"). Check out our forums to see who other Derbyites are betting on in general; read reax to these specific predix here. Early fave to win is Sidibe, I think. Here are the views of 16 film journos we polled on the best-pic race.

BEST ACTRESS Beachum Cormier Dortch Licuria Pickett Sheehan
Abbie Cornish, "Bright Star"

X

 

 

 X

X

 

Marion Cotillard, "Nine"

 

 

 

 

X

X

Penelope Cruz, "Broken Embraces"

X

  

 

  

 

 

Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"

X

X

X

X

X

X

Carey Mulligan, "An Education"

X

X

X

X

X

X

Saoirse Ronan, "The Lovely Bones"

 

 

X

   

X

Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"

X

X

X

X

   
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"

 

X

X

X

Hilary Swank, "Amelia"  

X

       

Photos: From left, Carey Mulligan in "An Education." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics. Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious." Credit: Lionsgate

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Continue reading »

Can Woody Allen win 'Slumdog Millionaire' star Freida Pinto an Oscar?

February 24, 2009 |  2:29 pm

Slumdog_freida_pinto

Freida Pinto — the love interest in the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire," — is now the newest young beauty to be cast as Woody Allen's muse. Pinto joins Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins ("The Silence of the Lambs") and Oscar nominees Josh Brolin ("Milk") and Naomi Watts for this untitled project.

Woody Allen's last film — "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," — marked a return to form for the one-time perennial Oscar contender. And while he missed out on a 15th writing nomination, Penelope Cruz became the 15th performer to earn an Oscar nod under Allen's direction. And she was the fourth of Woody's women to win when she took the supporting actress Academy Award for her serio-comic portrayal of a woman on the verge.

The other three actresses who owe their Oscars to Woody Allen are: Diane Keaton, lead actress, "Annie Hall" (1977); Mira Sorvino, supporting actress, "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995); and Dianne Wiest, supporting actress, "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994). Michael Caine — supporting actor, "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) — is the only man to be directed to an Oscar by Allen.

The 10 more who earned Oscar nods are: Woody himself, lead actor, "Annie Hall" (1977); Judy Davis, supporting actress, "Husbands and Wives" (1992); Mariel Hemingway, supporting actress, "Manhattan" (1979); Martin Landau, supporting actor, "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989); Samantha Morton, supporting actress, "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999); Geraldine Page, lead actress, "Interiors" (1978); Chazz Palminteri, supporting actor, "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994); Sean Penn, lead actor "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999); Maureen Stapleton, supporting actress, "Interiors" (1978); and Jennifer Tilly, supporting actress, "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994).

Woody_allen_vicky_cristina_barcelon

While there are no details of this new project, it is possible that it will be made in Europe as it is being financed by MediaPro, the same Spanish company that funded "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." However, Allen's next film — the forthcoming "Whatever Works" — is set in Greenwich Village with Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") as the Allen stand-in and Evan Rachel Wood ("The Wrestler") as the catalyst for a series of love stories.

Woody Allen is one of the academy's longtime darlings. After ignoring him throughout the first decade of his blazing career ("Bananas," "Sleeper"), members more than caught up with him afterward. In fact, Woody holds the record for most screenplay nominations (14), compared with 12 for Billy Wilder. However, both Allen and Wilder have 21 nominations overall. And while Wilder won six Oscars for his efforts — screenplay, directing, "The Lost Weekend" (1946); screenplay, "Sunset Boulevard" (1951); screenplay, directing, producing, "The Apartment" (1961) — Allen has only two Oscars for writing and directing 1977 best picture champ "Annie Hall." and a third for his 1986 script for "Hannah and Her Sisters."

Woody Allen didn't bother to show up to accept those honors. In 1978 (for the '77 awards), it was far more important to him to remain in New York to play his clarinet in the New Orleans Marching and Funeral Band at Michael's Pub. Back then he scoffed, "I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don't think they know what they're doing. When you see who wins those things — or who doesn't win them — you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is."

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Will Oscar winners return to the race next year?

February 23, 2009 |  6:23 pm

Lead actor winner Sean Penn ("Milk") has completed production on "The Tree of Life." This new film from Oscar-nominated writer/director Terrence Malick ("The Thin Red Line") tells the tale of a boy growing up in the Midwest of the 1950s. As a framework to that, Penn plays the grown-up version of the character coming to grips with his past. Rival lead actor nominee Brad Pitt ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") also stars in this drama that has no definite release date as of yet.

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Today Variety is reporting that the politically minded Penn may play another real-life character — Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose wife Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) had her CIA cover blown by the Bush administration — in "Fair Game" from helmer Doug Liman ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith").

After back-to-back filming of grueling roles in both "The Reader" and "Revolutionary Road," lead actress winner Kate Winslet is taking a well-earned rest. However, there is no stopping supporting actress winner Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona") who just wrapped production on the highly anticipated "Nine," which is due out at Thanksgiving.

This movie version of the 1982 Tony Award-winning musical (which was inspired by Federico Fellini's 1963 Oscar-winning "8 1/2") is loaded with Oscar winners: Daniel Day-Lewis as a wayward film director, Marion Cotillard as his faithful wife, Cruz as his mistress, Nicole Kidman as his protege, Judi Dench as his mentor and Sophia Loren as his mother. All are under the direction of Oscar nominee Rob Marshall ("Chicago").

And Cruz recently reunited with her good friend and mentor Pedro Almodovar to make "Los Abrazos Rotos" ("Loose Embraces"). Almodovar directed Cruz to a 2006 lead actress nomination for "Volver." For their fourth film together, they have made a modern-day film noir about a love square that will be released stateside in the fall.

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Photo: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

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Spirits regain some independence from Oscars

February 21, 2009 |  6:30 pm

After flirting with the Oscars for much of its 24-year history, this year's edition of the Independent Spirit Awards struck out on its own somewhat. For the first time in six years, none of the best picture contenders at the Spirits went on to reap an equivalent Oscar bid, though the ultimate winner — "The Wrestler" — was in the mix. By snubbing "Milk" as a best-picture nominee in favor of fare like "Ballast" and "Wendy and Lucy" that had no chance of making it into the final five at the Oscars, the Spirits regained a degree of their one-time independence.

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However, while the acting nominees — as selected by screening committees — also had their fair share of unlikely Oscar hopefuls, the winners as chosen by the members of Film Independent are either Oscar contenders — Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler"), Melissa Leo ( "Frozen River") and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona") — were also Oscar nominees or were from a film with eight Oscar nominations, albeit not one for him — James Franco ("Milk"). But don't make too much room on your mantle just yet, Mickey. The Spirits have taken on the status of consolation prize for Oscar acting contenders. As the saying goes, "Win on Saturday, lose on Sunday." That's not always true. Recent Spirit champs like Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote") and Charlize Theron ("Monster") repeated on a day later, but those victories tend to be the exception, not the rule.

"Milk" scripter Dustin Lance Black won the first screenplay prize at the Spirits while Woody Allen won the regular screenplay award for "Vicky Christina Barcelona." That Black is a contender at the Oscars for his original script for "Milk" is no surprise but that Allen was not Oscar nominated after 14 previous bids, including two wins, was quite the jaw-dropper. Oscar frontrunner "Man on Wire" won best documentary. And Oscar nominee "The Class" won foreign film, but I do not believe it will repeat tomorrow night at the Oscars. Read the Associated Press report on the winners here.

Oscar winning scripter Charlie Kaufman won the first feature prize for helming "Synecdoche, New York" while Thomas McCarthy took the directing award for "The Visitor." And Maryse Alberti won cinematography for "The Wrestler."

The Spirits are handed out in a very spirited daytime party held in a tent on the Santa Monica beach. As Variety once reported: "Many celebrities mused that they could think of no other Hollywood awards show where the guests had to wait in line for portable toilets while facing hordes of autograph-seeking fans." The wine flows almost as freely as the profanities. Just how will AMC edit Mickey Rourke's F-bomb laden acceptance speech for the rebroadcast tonight? The free-wheeling nature of the event has led to many other memorable moments over the years. One that sticks with me still is when director Kevin Smith won for the screenplay of "Chasing Amy" in 1997 and said in his acceptance speech: "This makes up for every chick who ever told me I had a small d**k."

The Spirits declared itself to be just that with the first best film back in 1985 — Martin Scorsese's "After Hours," described by Variety as "a nightmarish black comedy [in which] the cinema of paranoia and persecution reaches an apogee." But the award went mainstream the following year and opted for "Platoon," which went on to win best picture at the Oscars as well. From then on, most of the Spirits' picks for best pic would be players to one degree or another at the Oscars.

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No, there is no bias against foreigners at the Oscars

February 20, 2009 |  2:50 pm

At this year's Oscars there are only three foreign-born folk among the 20 acting nominees: lead actress contender Kate Winslet ("The Reader") and supporting players Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight") and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"). However, that does not mean the Oscars are guilty of any home-grown bias. After all, those three are the front-runners in their races. And last year all four acting winners came from foreign shores.

While Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") were just the latest two of the 36 English actors to win Oscars, Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") made Oscars history by giving the first French-language performance to be so honored while Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men") was the first Spanish performer to win an Oscar.

That marked the second time in Oscars history that all four acting champs hailed from outside the United States. The first was back in 1964 when the winners were three Brits — Rex Harrison ("My Fair Lady"), Julie Andrews ("Mary Poppins"), and Peter Ustinov ("Topkapi") — and Russian born Lila Kedrova ("Zorba the Greek").

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The Oscars rolled out the the welcome mat at the very first ceremony in 1929 when Swiss-born Emil Jannings won lead actor for his performances in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh." And three of the first four lead actresses came from Canada — Mary Pickford ("Coquette"), Norma Shearer ("The Divorcee"), and Marie Dressler ("Min and Bill").

One of our most prolific forum posters, the aptly named Academy Awards Guru, has compiled a list of the nationalities of all 265 Oscar winners for acting. During the course of 80 ceremonies, they have won 306 Oscars (there has been one tie in each of lead actor and lead actress). Of these, 77 winners came from outside the USA to take home 87 Oscars. While 22 other countries have produced Oscar winners, it is not surprising that England leads with 36 of her citizens winning 42 Oscars.

Over the last 80 years at the Oscars, lead actor has gone to a non-American 24 times and lead actress 25 times while in the 72-year history of the supporting awards, non-Americans won supporting actor 20 times and supporting actress 18 times.

In the following list, the Oscar-winning actors are listed under the country with which they are most associated with their birthplace given when it differs. In addition, those actors who were born elsewhere but raised primarily in the USA are not included, such as Elizabeth Taylor born in England, Claudette Colbert in France, sisters Joan Fontaine and Olivia DeHavilland in Japan, Anthony Quinn in Mexico, and Paul Muni in the Ukraine.

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