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Category: Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen's long and winding 'Road' to the Oscars?

November 25, 2009 |  7:05 am

Viggo the road

Initially scheduled to be released in 2008, "The Road" got detoured, heading back to the editing room when there were early creative glitches with the production. Was it the end of the road for its kudos hopes? There were early high expectations for the film adaptation of the award-winning novel about a father and son struggling to survive doomsday after it was included in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club. A movie adapted from another Oprah Book Club title did pretty well at the last Oscars derby: "The Reader."

Now there's suddenly new excitement about "The Road," thanks to ace reviews, especially for the harrowing performance of Viggo Mortensen. Declared the Hollywood Reporter: "Director John Hillcoat has performed an admirable job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen as an intact and haunting tale, even at the cost of sacrificing color, big scenes and standard Hollywood imagery of post-apocalyptic America." The New York Times cheered his performance for putting "flesh on the bones and a soul behind the exhausted, terrified eyes" of a character known simply as the Man.

"The Road" could be nominated for best picture and Viggo could make the list for lead actors, competing against front-runners George Clooney ("Up in the Air") and Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), plus stars of two other films also produced by the suddenly roaring-back-to-life Weinstein Co. -- Daniel Day-Lewis ("Nine") and Colin Firth ("A Single Man"). Viggo lost to Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood") two years ago when he received his first and only academy bid for "Eastern Promises." He wasn't nominated for starring in those "Lord of the Rings" Oscar juggernauts.

"The Road" may seem bleak, but its message is really inspiring. It's my second-favorite film of the year -- after "Precious." Viggo and I had a chance to chat informally a few days ago just hours before we teamed up to do a Q&A screening of "The Road" for the nominating committee of the Screen Actors' Guild.

Photo: Weinstein Co.

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

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

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

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

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





George Clooney, "Up in the Air"







Matt Damon, "The Informant!"





Johnny Depp, "Public Enemies"  


Daniel Day-Lewis, "Nine"






Colin Firth, "A Single Man"







Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"






Viggo Mortensen, "The Road"  


Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"





Sam Rockwell, "Moon"      


Michael Stuhlbarg, "A Serious Man"    





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


Oscars derby update: 'Precious' finally breaks out, 'Crazy Heart' ambushes best actor race

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

Gold Derby nuggets: Good and great news for Jude Law | Will Sandra Bullock be double Globe nominee? | Ellwood & Thompson crazy for Jeff Bridges in 'Crazy Heart'

Forum commenters divided over Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as Oscars hosts

'Inglourious Basterds' goes for drama at the Golden Globes

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Gold Derby nuggets: Emmy voting starts today | National Geographic Channel to receive Governors Award | Emmycast to salute classic TV lines

August 11, 2008 |  7:06 pm

• This is the week that DVDs and ballots are sent to Emmy voters who are judging the categories to be unveiled on the Emmy telecast on Sept. 21. Final ballots are due by Aug. 29 and must be accompanied by a signed affidavit attesting that judges viewed all DVDs submitted by nominees as examples of their best work.


• Over the last few weeks, Heidi Klum and "a gaggle of celebs have been filmed delivering iconic television lines for a video montage to be shown during the Emmys," reports Marc Malkin of E! Online. Other participants include Jeremy Piven, Kelsey Grammer and Alec Baldwin uttering such lines famous TV phrases as "Now cut that out!" (originated by Jack Benny), "Live long and prosper" (Leonard Nimoy) and "You look mahvelous" (Billy Crystal).

• The TV academy will bestow its honorary Governors Award to the National Geographic Channel to hail its "Preserve Our Planet Campaign," which included innovative programming to educate viewers about environmental concerns. Read more

• "Reflecting the sharp downturn in automotive advertising on TV, General Motors has decided to skip this year's Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on ABC," reports Variety. "In last year's Emmycast on Fox, GM had seven 30-second spots. " Read more


• Last year's best picture winner "No Country for Old Men" was adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy. Could the same thing happen again? Due out in late November is a screen retelling of his novel "The Road," starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as father and son struggling to survive a violent world devastated by nuclear war. See early pictures at

• The Cinema Audio Society announced its timetable for awards, which will bestowed on Feb. 14, 2009. Entry submissions are due by Dec. 5, nominations will be unveiled on Jan. 8, 2009. Read more

Photos: MGM; Los Angeles Times

Oscars derby 2008-2009 front-runners

July 12, 2008 | 11:58 am

Click on the film titles below to learn more about each Oscars contender. Obviously, things will change. There are rumors, for example, that "The Reader" may move to 2009 so that two Kate Winslet flicks don't compete against each other. Also, some of these films don't have a distributor yet, including "Two Lovers," "Grey Gardens," "Synecdoche, New York" and "The Argentine." Many thanks to my Envelope colleague and pal Pete Hammond for his input to this list.


"Body of Lies"
"Burn After Reading"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"The Dark Knight"
"Gran Torino"
"Miracle at St. Anna"
"Mamma Mia!"
"The Reader"
"Revolutionary Road"
"Secret Life of Bees"
"Seven Pounds"
"The Soloist"
"Vicki Cristina Barcelona"
"The Visitor"

Eric Bana, "The Time Traveler's Wife"
Josh Brolin, "W"
Benicio del Toro, "The Argentine" or "Guerrilla" *
Leo DiCaprio, "Revolutionary Road" or "Body of Lies"
Robert Downey Jr., "The Soloist," "Iron Man"
Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Harrison Ford, "Crossing Over"
Jamie Foxx, "The Soloist" (supporting role?)
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, " Synecdoche, New York" * or "Doubt"
Hugh Jackman, "Australia"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Electric Mist"
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight" (supporting role?)
Derek Luke, "Miracle at St. Anna" (supporting role?)
Viggo Mortensen, "Appaloosa," "The Road"
Sean Penn, "Milk"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Two Lovers" *
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" or "Burn After Reading"
Michael Sheen, "Frost/Nixon"
Will Smith, "Seven Pounds"


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Your Oscars cheat sheet: Let's predict the nominees!

January 21, 2008 | 12:42 am

Finally, those rascally, confounding, elusive Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday morning. Who'll make the cut?

Oscarnoms_cheat_sheetBEST PICTURE
"Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

"American Gangster"
"Into the Wild"

"Diving Bell," "Clayton" "No Country" and "Blood" were all nominated by BOTH the directors' and producers' guilds, so they look strong. Of those two guilds, the directors' choices have the best predix rate. This year DGA's fifth choice was "Wild," but that may just be because those helmers are fawning over another actor-turned-director (Sean Penn). They actually swoon more shamelessly over actors in that category than Oscar voters! Everybody seems to be swooning MOST over the fifth choice of the PGA — "Juno" — so that's why it rounds out my list, but beware of "Gangster," too. It's the highest-grossing "serious" movie of the year and that's usually a guarantee of a nom. Also, Universal is blitzing L.A. with "FYC" ballyhoo, which proved successful for its past ponies "Ray" and "Seabiscuit."

"Atonement" won the Golden Globe and leads with the most BAFTA bids, so it's a major player, too. After all, it began derby season as the early frontrunner to win and hasn't really tripped up. Reviews have been strong — raves from the L.A. Times, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter — and b.o. has held up ($30 million in limited release, up until this past weekend anyway). Still, perception is that it's fallen faaaaaar behind. Like my poor, beloved "Sweeney Todd."


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POLL: Who'll win Globes for best director & actor?

January 10, 2008 |  1:18 am

The Golden Globe races for best director and drama actor are two of the toughest to forecast. Sure, you may think: Daniel Day-Lewis is waaaaaay out front for the acting trophy because he's won so many precursor prizes, but he's never won a Globe and, to be perfectly blunt, he ain't no George Clooney. Globe voters love swashbuckling matinee stars so much that the award's biggest male winner happens to be Hollywood's bawdiest buckaneer: Jack Nicholson. Clooney is the new Nicholson in town, let's face it. If you think the Coens have the directors' laurels locked up, you've forgotten how often the foreign press love to hail artsy helmers, sometimes ones who make foreign-language pix. Personally, I'm betting on Julian Schnabel.

OSCARS PODCASTS: Pete & I dish the lead actor & actress races

January 3, 2008 | 11:41 pm

Pete Hammond and I examine Oscar's lead acting races in depth, category by category, in these podcast chats. CLICK HERE to download the MP3 file of our discussion of the best actor race. To hear us yap about the lead actress derby, CLICK HERE! (NOTE: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.)

Golden Globe drama and director races: Who's ahead?

December 15, 2007 |  6:45 pm

"American Gangster"
"Eastern Promises"
"The Great Debaters"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Over the past 20 years only once did a film win here without its director being nominated: "Scent of a Woman" (1992). Now the helmers of three films in the race for best drama picture are also up for best director — "No Country for Old Men," "American Gangster" and "Atonement" — so it's safe to assume that one of them will triumph. "No Country" and "Atonement" seem to have the most support within HFPA. I suspect that "Atonement," which has the most noms (seven), will be the champ, but it's a close call and I'm holding off at this point from making an outright prediction.

Tim Burton, "Sweeney Todd"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Ridley Scott, "American Gangster"
Joe Wright, "Atonement"

Often the awards for best director and picture don't line up like they do at the Oscars. In fact, the two categories split 5 times in the past 7 years (10 times in the past 20). That's because voters like to spread the love around. If they go for "Atonement" for best picture, they may want to give the director's trophy to the Coens for "No Country." And they may want to do so for another reason. After two decades of past noms ("Fargo," "The Man Who Wasn't There" — but not "O, Brother, Where Art Thou," which made the Oscar list), the Coens have reached icon status. That's who voters favor in this category, opting, for example, for Robert Altman ("Gosford Park") the year they picked "A Beautiful Mind" as best drama picture. "Atonement's" Joe Wright can win. Rookie Sam Mendes triumphed when his "American Beauty" did in the best-pic race, but the most venerable veterans tend to get their due here. That's the chief voting trend.

And that's why relative newcomer Schnabel probably doesn't have a strong chance. The esteemed Ridley Scott holds a big I.O.U. — the Globes went for Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger") the year "Gladiator" won — but "Gangster" doesn't have artsy pretention.

That leaves us with the most curious contender in this contest: madcap Tim Burton. He's an icon and overdue for Globe notice (he's never even been nominated), but his chances are hurt by his "Sweeney Todd" being stuck in the comedy/musical lineup. Over the past 40 years only twice has the helmer of a film on that list claimed the laurels. John Huston won for "Prizzi's Honor," which claimed that best-pic trophy, too, for a film that really belonged in the drama race. Also, Barbra Streisand triumphed for "Yentl," and that was probably just because voters love to slobber over celeb helmers like they do at the Oscars. Heck, the Globes even gave this award Clint Eastwood for "Bird" the year that "Rain Man" won best drama pic (1988). Huh?

In Burton's favor is that "Sweeney" has artistic pedigree, being a Sondheim Broadway classic. I know of a few HFPA members who consider "Sweeney" to be their favorite film of the year, but I don't know how strong its support is among other voters. Not yet.

CLICK HERE to Continue Reading!

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PODCAST: Viggo on Cronenberg, awards & 'Eastern Promises'

December 11, 2007 | 12:20 am

When I caught up with "Eastern Promises" star Viggo Mortensen to chat about his recent awards success (he just won best actor at the British Independent Film Awards and came in second place in the voting for best actor at the New York Film Critics Circle), he was most eager to talk about how director David Cronenberg is overdue for kudos recognition.


"I'd like to see him get his due," Viggo said. "There's only a handful of people in the world who can do what he does, who can tell a movie the way he does. His intelligence, his humanity and his artistry are on a level higher than 99 percent of directors in the world."

Listen to our podcast chat — CLICK HERE to Download the MP3 File. (Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.)

Viggo's role in "Eastern Promises" is richly complex: a Russian thug in London who risks his life to help a woman (Naomi Watts) solve mysteries about an orphaned infant.

"These people, no matter how brutal the circumstances of their lives, or how dangerous things are, do the right thing even though it's not to their benefit," he noted. "It leaves you with some faith in the potential of people to show compassion."

(Photo: Focus Features)



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