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Category: The Social Network

Tracking the Oscar race for best adapted screenplay

October 29, 2010 |  4:23 pm

Obviously, "The Social Network" is ahead in the Oscar race for best adapted screenplay, given its front-runner status as best picture and the vaunted reputation of Aaron Sorkin as master wordsmith. However, upsets are always possible at these quirkly Hollywood awards, of course.

Adapted screenplay oscar news-4

"127 Hours" or "True Grit" could quickly jump ahead if one of them wins best picture from the film critics' awards in early December, which is quite possible. The creators of both films have been honored by them in the past and they also previously won the Oscars for best picture and screenplay in the past for "Slumdog Millionaire," "No Country for Old Men."

There's an obvious link between those two Academy Award categories. Over the past 10 years, five best pictures won best adapted screenplay ("The Departed," "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," "A Beautiful Mind" in addition to "Slumdog" and "No Country") and two won best original screenplay ("The Hurt Locker," "Crash").

This year's other major rival for best picture, "The King's Speech," is over in the category for original scripts, so this category for adapted fare may be turned into a consolation prize, as often happens ("Precious," "Brokeback Mountain," "Sideways").

There's a lot of love for "Toy Story 3," animated films are overdue to prevail and Michael Arndt is a past Oscar fave ("Little Miss Sunshine"). Beware: "Toy Story 3" may even become a threat in the best picture battle.

Forget "Rabbit Hole." Yeah, yeah, it won the Pulitzer Prize, but voters must've been drunk. The script didn't deserve it.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
(Favorites)
"127 Hours," Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle
"How to Train Your Dragon," William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
"Love and Other Drugs," Marshall Herskovitz, Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick
"Rabbit Hole," David Lindsay Abaire
"The Social Network," Aaron Sorkin
"The Town," Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard
"Toy Story 3," Michael Arndt
"True Grit," Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
"Winter's Bone," Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: 3 or 5 animated feature Oscar nominees? | "SNL" = Oscar good luck charm?

October 29, 2010 |  4:11 pm

MegaMindPete Hammond has the scoop on the possibility of the animated feature Oscar race expanding this year. As he reports, "the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t mentioned in the release is the number that have been received so far at the Academy. A really good clue though is a  letter I have learned that was  sent late last week updating members and potential members of the Animation committee (the ones doing the voting)  and informing them that 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category." DEADLINE

• In his latest edition of Oscar Futures, Lane Brown touts the rise of best actor contender James Franco ("127 Hours") -- "Reviews for his movie are ecstatic, reviews for his book are not bad, and S.T. Vanairsdale has him leapfrogging Firth to top position this week" -- and the decline of Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network") -- "Buzz seems to be cooling down here. Was he really as good as everybody thought a month ago?" VULTURE

• In a fascinating read, Guy Lodge looks back at British success at the Oscars and forecasts the chances for this year's contenders "The King's Speech," "Made in Dagenham" and "Another Year." IN CONTENTION

• After seeing "Morning Glory," Jeff Wells says, "this film is close to 'Broadcast News' level Brooks + grade A, totally-on-his-game Michell + Harrison Ford's best performance in years + Rachel McAdams giving an ever better performance than she did in 'The Wedding Crashers' (and that's saying something). Ford's performance as a grumpy, past-his-prime, Dan Rather-ish newsman has a shot at a Best Supporting Actor recognition. Or not. He's surly but smirking all the while. The role as written isn't quite home-run-level, but it's fair to call it a solid triple, I think." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• In the context of announced gigs by Jeff Bridges ("True Grit") and Anne Hathaway ("Love and Other Drugs"), Mike Ryan investigates the correlation between hosting "Saturday Night Live" and nabbing an Oscar nomination. He discovers, "since SNL’s debut in 1975, 27 future Oscar nominees have hosted Saturday Night Live during the same season that they were nominated or won. (Nine more, including winners Adrien Brody, Richard Dreyfuss, Angelica Huston and Geena Davis actually hosted during the season, but after the ceremony; call those a victory lap.) Of that 27, seven have gone on to win the award he or she was nominated for, most recently Forest Whitaker, who hosted on Feb 10, 2007." MOVIELINE

Dave Karger reports, "this week I saw the first For Your Consideration trade ad that listed possible contenders by category. The distinction goes to Disney’s 'Alice in Wonderland,' which is being touted for Best Picture, Best Director (Tim Burton), Best Actor (Johnny Depp), and Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway), along with 13 other categories." OSCAR WATCH

• For Steve Pond, "Trent Reznor may have taken a circuitous route to writing the music for David Fincher's 'The Social Network,' but he and his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross made the most of the gig once they took it. The Nine Inch Nails mastermind and his co-composer have created one of the year’s most imaginative and bracing film scores, a piano-rooted, synthesizer-drenched work that is by turns plaintive and assaultive, and always adventurous and unconventional." THE ODDS

• And Sheila Roberts sits down with Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman ("Slumdog Millionaire") to talk about his score for "127 Hours." COLLIDER

Photo: "MegaMind" poster. Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

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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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Sly times at the Hollywood Awards

October 26, 2010 |  6:59 pm

It's a shame that the Hollywood Film Festival's Hollywood Awards aren't televised. There's a lazy, mischievous air about the gala that makes it seem like the Golden Globes on even more bubbly. They're held in the same space as the Globes — in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel — where stars giggle, prattle, meow, yell, insult, confess and laugh while not being barked at by TV producers rushing to commercial breaks. They throw a lot of f-bombs around. It's a hoot.

Monday night one of them almost even cried at the podium: Sean Penn as he accepted a humanitarian award for the charitable work performed by him and his organization JP/HRO to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti. He told a touching story of a Haitian policeman who saved 50 lives after enduring the horror of losing his wife and children. Penn also made startling confessions, including how his staffers "chuckled" when they heard that he, of all people — someone who subjects them to "tantrums" and other unpleasant behavior — was receiving a humanitarian award.

Those of us in the audience even learned that Helena Bonham Carter (winner of the Hollywood supporting actress award) has a nickname, "Cups," because she's always surrounded by cups of various, mostly caffeinated beverages. She was honored by the festival for performing two queens (the nasty red one in "Alice in Wonderland" and the beloved "queen mum" Elizabeth in "The King's Speech") and a witch (Bellatrix Lestrange in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1"), only one of which was directed by Tim Burton ("Alice").

"I don't just work for my boyfriend!" she shouted to the room full of film titans. "I'm available for leading roles too!"

There was a funny exchange between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis when they presented a career achievement award to Sylvester Stallone. See video below. After the jump: Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Jesse Eisenberg and costars accept "The Social Network's" prize for ensemble acting.

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Mad Men' gets 'Mr. Men' treatment | Jennifer Lawrence is rising star for Palm Springs filmfest

October 26, 2010 |  4:46 pm

• Submissions for consideration by the nominating panels of the SAG Awards have to be in by 5 p.m. PDT Thursday. SAG AWARDS

Sasha Stone examines the truthfulness of certain best picture contenders, including front-running "The Social Network," and considers this in terms of the state of the race. AWARDS DAILY

John Lopez looks at the long list of lead actress contenders. LITTLE GOLD MEN

Draper-1d • Three-time Emmy champ "Mad Men" has inspired a British satirical website to create a cheeky revamp of the "Mr. Men" series of cartoon characters by the late Roger Hargreaves. Included in their tongue-in-cheek report, is this statement from spokesperson Camile Von Bach: "Pre-orders for 'Mr. Sterling Gets Angry' have exceeded all expectations, so we can’t wait to see what happens with 'Mr. Draper Loses His Trousers' or 'Little Miss Peggy Gets Another Bump In Her Tummy.'" THE POKE

• The motion picture academy has set up a Twitter feed. The first tweet — "I'm ready for my close-up" — is an abridgment of that memorable final line of dialogue from 1950 best picture nominee "Sunset Boulevard" when faded star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) descends into madness. TWITTER

Pete Hammond reports on the first of many weekends filled with screenings and parties touting various awards contenders and caps this off with a peek behind the scenes at Monday's Hollywood Film Awards. DEADLINE

Steve Pond has the scoop on the online voting for the kudos handed out by the International Documentary Assn. Among the details: "To be approved to vote using the new system, members cannot have any professional connection to a nominee, must agree to watch all five films in their entirety, and must have a high-speed Internet connection and satisfy minimum browser requirements." THE ODDS

Katie Hasty chatted with writer-director Tyler Perry and two of the women — Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad — featured in his new film "For Colored Girls." HITFIX

• The Palm Springs film festival will fete lead actress contender Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") as a rising star at the annual gala Jan. 8. In making the announcement, fest chair Harold Matzner said, "Call it a gift for us all when a young performer comes along, demonstrating such natural theatrical instinct." Past recipients include Jessica Biel, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Bryce Dallas Howard, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick and Scarlett Johansson. PSIFF

Ryan Adams praises the relatively short running time of "127 Hours" and considers this in light of the academy's ususal preference for pictures that run longer. However, as he writes, "the brevity of 'Marty,' 'Driving Miss Daisy' and 'Annie Hall' work so well because they’re 100% free of excess padding. '127 Hours' is exactly as lean and mean as it needs to be." AWARDS DAILY

Anne Thompson thinks, "The only way for (Tilda) Swinton — who is admired by critics and art house audiences alike — to make the best actress Oscar grade this year for 'I Am Love' (which played the fest circuit before opening in June), is for critics to make a fuss over her in their year-end wraps and ten-best lists, and for critics groups and the Golden Globes to reward her with prizes and nominations and thus turn the screener into a must-see for SAG and Academy actors." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Image: Mr. Draper from "Mad Men." Credit: ThePoke.co.uk.


Gold Derby nuggets: SAG Awards sets calendar | Evening Standard long list includes budding stage star Keira Knightley

October 25, 2010 |  1:48 pm

• The Dec. 16 nominations announcement for the Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live on TNT from the Pacific Design Center. Nominees are determined by the 4,200 SAG members who sit on separate film and television screening panels. In the wake of the success of other awardscasts going live nationwide, the 17th annual edition of these kudos will follow suit. TNT and TBS will beam the Jan. 30 festivities from the Shrine Auditorium live from coast to coast beginning at 5 p.m. PT. SAG AWARDS

Scott Kraft chats with "Fair Game" star Naomi Watts and Valerie Palme, the real-life subject of the film. L.A. TIMES

Erik Childress surveys the lead actor field and speculates on a last-minute entry by Christian Bale ("The Fighter"). MOVIEFONE

Sasha Stone points out a clever marketing trick pulled off online by "The Social Network" and "Black Swan." AWARDS DAILY

Keira-Knightley • The long lists for one of the top three West End kudos have been released and, as Natalie Woolman notes, "Judi Dench, Gemma Arterton, Sheridan Smith and Keira Knightley are among the nominees for the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress." Knightley made her West End debut in a production of Moliere's "The Misanthrope" last spring and received generally good notices. Also in the mix is "Another Year" star Lesley Manville for her performance in "Six Degrees of Separation." The final list of nominees will be released on Nov. 21 with the winners announced at a ceremony one week later. THE STAGE

• Knightley is set to return to the West End in the new year headlining a revival of Lillian Hellman's provocative 1934 play "The Children's Hour" opposite Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"). The subject was quite shocking at the time -- two schoolteachers whose close friendship subjects them to the scurrilous rumor that they are lesbians. And, as per Patrick Healy, with all going well in the West End, American audiences will see Knightley make her Broadway debut next fall. ARTS BEAT

Anne Thompson dismisses the notion that Tyler Perry could get into the game for his screen adapatation of the 1977 Tony-nominated play "For Colored Girls." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Greg Ellwood catches up with Jennifer Lawrence, lead actress hopeful for "Winter's Bone," during her whirlwind visit to L.A. during a break in filming "X-Men: First Class" in London. HIT FIX

Jeff Wells wonders why more pundits aren't predicting that Anne Hathaway in "Love and Other Drugs" will be in the awards mix. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Photo: Keira Knightley in "The Misanthrope." Credit: Comedy Theatre.


One year ago: What Oscar pundits prophesized

October 21, 2010 | 12:29 pm

Up in the air oscars newsLet this be a lesson to all of us smug Oscar seers who insist that they know how the current derby will play out. Most of us now say that it's "The Social Network" versus "The King's Speech" for best picture, Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") versus James Franco ("127 Hours") for lead actor and Natalie Portman ("Black Swan") versus Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right") for lead actress. But true?

One year ago today, we weren't even talking about the eventual winners of lead actor and actress: Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side").

BEST PICTURE: Last year in mid-October we had a decent grasp of the best picture race in terms of leading contenders, but nearly all Oscarologists were betting on "Up in the Air." Just weeks earlier "Precious" had the most buzz. Expectations were building for "Avatar" but also for "Nine," "Invictus" and "The Lovely Bones." "Bright Star," which had already been seen, still shone brightly. Ditto: "An Education," "Up," "A Serious Man," "Julie & Julia," even "District 9." A surge was building for "Inglourious Basterds." "The Hurt Locker" was among top rivals, but it hadn't made its surge to the head of the pack. 

LEAD ACTOR: Fox Searchlight had not announced that "Crazy Heart" was about to ambush this contest, so all eyes were on George Clooney ("Up in the Air") as lead pony. Matt Damon ("The Informant") and Daniel Day-Lewis ("Nine") seemed like good bets for bids. Other top rivals: Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker"), Tobey Maguire ("Brothers"), Viggo Mortensen ("The Road"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus"), Sharlto Copley ("District 9"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Sherlock Holmes"), Robert DeNiro ("Everybody's Fine"), Mark Wahlberg ("The Lovely Bones"), Peter Sarsgaard ("An Education"). Final nominees turned out to be Bridges, Clooney, Firth, Freeman and Renner.

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' extras and sequels in the works | 'Glee' courts controversy with GQ cover | Cussing in 'The King's Speech'

October 20, 2010 |  2:17 pm

• On Tuesday, James Cameron revealed he will direct two sequels to "Avatar" simultaneously: "Our plan right now is to do two and three as a single large production and release them a year apart. In order to do that, we have to refine our technical processes beyond the end of where we were finishing 'Avatar' one year ago. We need to future-proof ourselves out five or six years to the end of the third film." MOVIEFONE

• Reporting from the Scream Awards, Katey Rich says that in anticipation of the Nov. 16 DVD and Blu-ray release of "Avatar," "Cameron showed up to present one never-before-seen clip, in which we meet Jake Sully back on Earth and see him as a bar brawler -- a paraplegic bar brawler, mind you." CINEMA BLEND

Kyle Buchanan sits down with "The Social Network" supporting player Armie Hammer, who portrays twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. As Buchanan observes, "Since there's only one of Hammer, that meant the actor was often acting opposite a body double whose face he'd be digitally grafted onto in postproduction (and when you consider the notorious amount of takes that an exacting director like David Fincher requires, Hammer's nimble pair of performances is all the more impressive)." VULTURE

Glee GQ cover • As Mary McNamara writes, "A mildly pornographic slideshow of photos accompanying GQ's November cover story about 'Glee' recently went up on the magazine's website, and the onslaught from parents groups has begun, with terms like 'pedophilia' being used and renewed complaints that the show is too sexually explicit for the tween end of the audience it courts." However, in McNamara's opinion, "the problem isn't so much the sex as the sexism. And the disappointing banality of it all." SHOW TRACKER

• The academy has revealed the five recipients of the 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, who will be honored at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on Nov. 4: Destin Daniel Cretton, Marvin Krueger, Andrew Lanham, Micah Ranum and Cinthea Stahl. AMPAS

Naomi Watts talks to Katie Hasty about playing exposed CIA operative Valerie Plame in "Fair Game" and reveals, "It's not about 'this is my chance to take a stance or opinion.' It's about the essence of the character. That was the case with Valerie. The fact that it was rooted in truth made it very compelling." HITFIX

Patrick Healy says, "Mike Nichols confirmed on Wednesday that he would mount a Broadway revival of 'Death of a Salesman' next fall starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman and Linda Emond as Linda Loman. Mr. Hoffman, an Academy Award winner for 'Capote' and a Tony Award nominee for 'True West' and 'Long Day's Journey Into Night,' has been eager to play Willy for some time, Mr. Nichols said in a telephone interview, and the two men have been making plans for a production for months." ARTS BEAT

Guy Lodge delivers the news that only those 15 and over will be able to see "The King's Speech" in British movie theaters. Both the Brits and the MPAA (which gave it an R rating) did so on the basis of a scene in which King George VI (Colin Firth) says the same curse word repeatedly as part of a speech therapy exercise. IN CONTENTION

• As Peter Kafka observes, "Conan O’Brien didn't really embrace the Web until he was just about out of his last job at NBC. But now he's in a well-documented digital bear hug: O’Brien and his team use Twitter, Tumblr and viral videos to promote the man and his new show on Time Warner's TBS. The newest venture -– a 24-hour live 'behind the scenes' Webcast, produced in conjunction with Google’s YouTube." ALL THINGS DIGITAL

• As Caroline Westbrook reports, "Abigail Breslin charmed cinemagoers everywhere with her role as an unlikely beauty queen in the 2006 hit 'Little Miss Sunshine.' But four years on, the cute actress is looking all grown up in a photo shoot for new magazine Bullett. Abigail, now aged 14, sports a goth look in the black and white pictures which could not be further removed from the bespectacled, gap-toothed seven-year-old she played in the Oscar nominated movie." DAILY MAIL

Photo: November cover of GQ. Credit: Terry Richardson / GQ

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Poll: Will 'Winter's Bone' be nominated for best picture at the Oscars?

October 18, 2010 |  4:20 pm

Winter's bone gotham awards news

Now that "Winter's Bone" leads with the most nominations at the Gotham Independent Film Awards (three), its Oscar hopes brighten. But how much? Only three previous Gotham champs were nommed for best picture in the past: "The Hurt Locker," "Capote" and "Sideways."

"Winter's Bone" faces a crowded field at the upcoming Oscar derby. Currently, there are 13 front-runners competing for the 10 best-picture slots: "127 Hours," "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Hereafter," "How Do You Know," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "The Social Network," "The Town," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit" and "The Way Back."

Jockeying right behind: "Alice in Wonderland," "Another Year," "Blue Valentine," "For Colored Girls," "The Ghost Writer," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Made in Dagenham," "Love and Other Drugs," "Rabbit Hole," "Secretariat" and "Shutter Island."

Can "Winter's Bone" break through?

 

Photo: "Winter's Bone" (Roadside Attractions)

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Fighter' trailer packs a punch | Mark Zuckerberg on 'The Social Network' | Sasha Stone: supporting actress race 'wide open'

October 18, 2010 |  2:44 pm

Mark Wahlberg Christian Bale The Fighter • For Kyle Buchanan, the trailer for "The Fighter," which debuted during Sunday's airing of "Mad Men," was a "wowser." He thinks this preview of the biopic starring Mark Wahlberg is expert at "reestablishing the movie as a highbrow awards pick in a two-minute spot so confident that a dessicated, transformative Christian Bale gets less screen time than Melissa Leo's amazing hair. (But what hair it is! Oscars now for that, please.)" VULTURE

Pete Hammond has all the details of the Oscar push for "Alice in Wonderland." As he reports, "this 6th biggest grosser of all time will start an unusual four-day theatrical engagement Sunday aimed squarely at attracting Academy members and Hollywood guilds. A full-page Sunday newspaper ad will launch the 3D run at the Arclight Hollywood and AMC Santa Monica from October 18th to 21st. The run will be accompanied by an exhibit of Colleen Atwood's costumes in the Arclight lobby." DEADLINE

Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere) and Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) have fun sparring on their fourth Oscar podcast. OSCAR POKER

• Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine") will deliver the keynote address at the academy's 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting presentation dinner Nov. 4 at the Beverly Wilshire. The academy annually awards up to five Nicholl fellowships of $30,000 each. This year, 10 scripts have advanced to the final round. Since the program's inception in 1985, 113 fellowships have been awarded. AMPAS

• Speaking at Stanford University on Saturday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed being the subject of "The Social Network." As Rachel Sklar reveals, "Says every shirt in the movie he still owns; he's been with the same girl since before FB launched; did not do it for the girls: 'They just can't wrap their head around the idea that someone would build something because they like building things!' " MEDIAITE

• Don't look for Zuckerberg in the audience when the cast of "The Social Network" is feted with the ensemble award at the Hollywood Awards Gala on Oct. 25 at the Beverly Hilton. HFF

• For Guy Lodge, "admittedly, 11 out of 65 is a figure that is only impressive if you're counting the listenable tracks on most latter-day hip-hop albums, but as a measure of the number of Best Foreign Language Film contenders I've seen, it's more than I've ever managed by this early point in the race. For that, I have my growing trail of film festivals to thank (even if I also have Venice schedulers to blame for ensuring that I missed Canada's hot prospect 'Incendies' in favour of, of all things, 'Miral'), and this year's London Film Festival has served me particularly well in this regard." IN CONTENTION

From the Scream Awards, Matt Donnelly filed a dispatch, which opens as follows: "Though merely misty at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre on Saturday, it was raining celebs for Spike TV's Scream Awards -- an annual celebration of creepy, cringe-worthy and fanboy fare. Backed by a massive outdoor set inspired by Christopher Nolan's 'Inception,' tons of bold-face names came to present and claim trophies as well as to unveil new footage from upcoming films. In a tiny gold cocktail dress, Halle Berry opened the show by introducing Nolan, who scooped up several statuettes for his Leonardo DiCaprio-led flick." MINISTRY OF GOSSIP

Sasha Stone surveys the field of potential supporting actress contenders and finds, "This is going to be a wide open category, I suspect, but by December we should have a better idea where it's going." AWARDS DAILY

Nathaniel Rogers concurs, commenting that, "the Supporting Actress Race is, as you've presumably surmised (being the smarty that you are) unpredictable at the moment. Almost everyone who people think might be in the running is an uncertainty." THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Rihanna will be the opening act for the 38th edition of the American Music Awards, airing live on ABC on Nov. 21. That is five days after her new album "Loud" is released. Previously announced performers include Usher, Pink and Bon Jovi. RAP-UP

• Seven-time Emmy champ Ed Asner has inked a deal for a supporting role on "Working Class," the first sitcom from cablecaster CMT. As this report notes, "His return to TV follows recent successes for two fellow cast-mates from the legendary 'Mary Tyler Moore Show': Betty White on TV Land's 'Hot in Cleveland' and Cloris Leachman on Fox's 'Raising Hope.'" AP

• Voting is now underway to determine the nominees for this year's People's Choice Awards. Fans can vote in 40 categories for their favorites in movies, TV and music. The top five nominees in each category will be announced on Nov. 9 and Queen Latifah will host the 37th annual kudocast on Jan. 5. PCA

Photo: Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in "The Fighter." Credit: Paramount

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Latest Oscar predictions: Lead actor

October 13, 2010 |  4:10 pm

King's speech 127 Hours Oscars news

Right now it looks like Colin Firth is far ahead in the Academy Award race for lead actor.

All Oscarologists know that voters are suckers for actors who portray real-life characters (Forest Whittaker in "Last King of Scotland," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote"), especially ones with handicaps (Jamie Foxx in "Ray," Geoffrey Rush in "Shine"). In "The King's Speech," Firth portrays Britain's monarch George VI struggling to overcome a stammer while rallying his countrymen to fight World War II.

Firth has something else going for him — the old Oscar Makeup Rule: If you lose one year, don't worry, you'll win the next. All of these stars (plus many others) won an Academy Award one year after being a losing nominee: Russell Crowe (triumphed for "Gladiator" after losing for "The Insider"), Jack Nicholson (won for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" after losing for "Chinatown"), Nicole Kidman (won for "The Hours" after losing for "Moulin Rouge!"), etc. Last year Firth lost for "A Single Man."

In addition, "The King's Speech" is a top contender for best picture, possibly even the front-runner to win. Academy voters love to give away an acting Oscar along with best picture (Russell Crowe in "Gladiator," Kevin Spacey in "American Beauty").

But that's also true of James Franco in "127 Hours," which will certainly be nominated for best picture. Arguably, he portrays a handicapped person too, since he chops off his arm while stuck in a canyon, and a real-life one at that (based on the ordeal of hiker Aron Ralston). He benefits a bit from the Oscar Makeup Rule as well, not as a past nominee, but as someone who should've nabbed the supporting slot for "Milk" in 2008, but got snubbed.

There's a third serious contender in this race: Jeff Bridges in the Coen brothers' "True Grit," which probably will be nommed for best picture. It's also a proven vehicle for Oscar glory since John Wayne triumphed in the role in 1969. Having won last year for "Crazy Heart," he wouldn't benefit from the Oscar Makeup Rule, but from the Oscar Bandwagon Effect that earned Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump") and Spencer Tracy ("Captains Courageous," "Boys Town") consecutive victories.

LEAD ACTOR
(Frontrunners)
Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

(Possible)
Ben Affleck, "The Town"
Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "Inception"
Michael Douglas, "Solitary Man"
Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"
Mark Wahlberg, "The Fighter"

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscar exec Bruce Davis retiring | 'The King's Speech' tops Dave Karger's Oscar predix | Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead AMA nominations

October 13, 2010 | 12:13 pm

• As Nikki Finke reports, "This is truly the end of an era. I've just learned that Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences executive director Bruce Davis announced at this evening's Board Of Governors meeting that he intends to retire on June 30th, 2011, after 30 years working for the world's preeminent film group." Nikki also has a copy of Bruce's e-mail to the academy staff, which reads, in part, "When I leave I will have spent thirty years at the Academy, and more than twenty as its executive director. That seems like enough. Organizations and individuals both benefit from periodic shifts in perspective." DEADLINE

Roger Deakins will be feted with the lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers. The eight-time Oscar nominee will receive the honor at the 25th edition of the ASC kudos on Feb. 13. In a statement, ASC president Michael Goi said: "The Lifetime Achievement Award is a reflection of the impact that a cinematographer has made on the art of filmmaking rather than the capping of a career. It is our way of acknowledging a true artist in his prime. Roger Deakins raises the artistic profile of our profession with every movie and he will continue to do so for many years." ASC

Colin Firth The Kings SpeechDave Karger unveils his first top 10 list of best picture contenders. Leading the list is "The King's Speech," with "True Grit" in second and "The Social Network" in third place. As always, Dave provides expert analysis of each film's ranking. For example, he says this about "The King's Speech": "As soon as I saw this British drama in early September I knew it had the potential to go all the way in at least one major category. Right now its star, Colin Firth, is the man to beat for Best Actor, and it’s an absolute lock for a Best Picture nomination as well." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Using "Fair Game" as an example, Sasha Stone writes insightfully about the role of bloggers in the Oscar race. Says Sasha, "There is a filter between seeing films in screenings and how they eventually 'do.' The critics are really the ones who mostly shape perception. The bloggers can praise a film until they’re blue in the fingertips, but ultimately — it’s about the critics, the industry, the public and the Academy. Sorry, bloggers, but it just is. That is why seeing a film in a screening can sometimes be a misleading experience. If the critics don’t agree with the early blogger praise, a film will have a hard time passing the first test. That is why it’s always dangerous to get our strong opinion out there — others are likely to throw it back in our face should the movie fail. This happened to me with 'The Kite Runner.' I am always surprised when I like a movie that ends up doing really well in the race. It is a win-win for me." AWARDS DAILY

• With his usual savvy style, Steve Pond weighs the odds of four possible Oscar contenders making the cut: "True Grit" for best picture, "The Social Network" for adapted screenplay, Mel Gibson ("The Beaver") for lead actor and "The Town" for best picture. THE ODDS

Kris Tapley is aces at keeping track of the contenders for the animated feature award, and he reports that "it's looking more and more like the magic number of 16 won’t be reached in this year’s animated feature film race. By my count, we have 12 titles." IN CONTENTION

Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead the list of nominees for this year's 38th annual edition of the American Music Awards with five bids each. Eminem and four-time nominee Justin Bieber vie for artist of the year against Katy Perry, Ke$ha and Lady Gaga. The kudos will be handed out Nov. 21 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and will air on ABC. THE ENVELOPE

• The field of documentary short-subject Oscar contenders has been winnowed from 30 to eight, with three to five of them making it to the nomination stage. Those still in the running are "Born Sweet," "Killing in the Name," "Living for 32," "One Thousand Pictures: RFK’s Last Journey," "Poster Girl," "Strangers No More," "Sun Come Up" and "The Warriors of Qiugang." AMPAS

•The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced Oscar winner Sidney Poitier will be honored with the 38th annual Chaplin award at a May 2 gala. The Film Society's annual gala began in 1972 and honored Charles Chaplin, who returned to the U.S. from exile to accept the commendation. Since then, the award has been renamed for Chaplin and has honored many of the film industry's most notable talents, including Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and, most recently, Michael Douglas. FILM SOCIETY

Nathaniel Rogers notes that if Jesse Eisenberg is Oscar nominated for "The Social Network," he'll knock Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting") out of the top 10 youngest lead actor contenders. THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Michael J. Fox will reunite with his "Back to the Future" castmates at the Scream 2010 Awards. To celebrate the silver anniversary of this movie classic, they will also be featured on the cover of an issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Photo: "The King's Speech." Photo credit: Weinstein Co.

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