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Category: WoodyAllen

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

February 24, 2009 |  2:29 pm


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).


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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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.


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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Really the best picture of 1977?

October 26, 2008 | 11:22 pm


Of course "Annie Hall" received lots of rave reviews, but — in honor of Woody Allen's pending big comeback in some top Oscar races this year -- here's a curious one of opposite opinion by the notoriously grumpy John Simon, who wrote in the New Republic: "With 'Annie Hall,' Woody Allen has truly underreached himself. ... His new film is painful in three separate ways: as unfunny comedy, poor moviemaking, and embarrassing self-revelation. It is everything we never wanted to know about Woody's sex life and were afraid he'd tell us anyway. And now he does. ... It is a film so shapeless, sprawling, repetitious and aimless as to seem to be for oblivion."

In the Oscars race for best picture of 1977, "Annie Hall" beat "Star Wars," "Julia," "The Goodbye Girl" and "The Turning Point." Did it really deserve to win? It raised a bit of a fuss when it debuted in theaters in spring 1977, but mostly due to the funky male duds that Diane Keaton donned, sparking a new fashion trend. But it was largely forgotten by the end of the year. Certainly wasn't generating major Oscar buzz. It was suddenly thrust into the derby, however, when the National Society of Film Critics did something it rarely does. It jumped out in front of the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., insisting upon having the first say about the year's best flicks. NSFC also wanted to break from tradition and get attention by picking a comedy, preferably one that was snarkily counterculture . . . . READ MORE.

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Hmmm . . . are these the Oscar nominees?

October 26, 2008 | 10:27 pm

Below are the preliminary results of polls that Sasha Stone's running over at AwardsDaily in the lead and supporting acting races. Results looks pretty solid, at least in terms of who'll be nommed. There are a few squirrely things here and there on the lists. Cate Blanchett is listed in supporting, but Paramount insists that she's lead in "Benjamin Button." Dev Patel is listed in lead, but Fox Searchlight claims he's supporting in "Slumdog Millionaire." Of course, since Oscar voters can ignore campaigns and put thesps wherever they please (here's your cue to pipe in if you're reading this, Keisha Castle-Hughes), so these rundowns could turn out to be correct. Personally, I don't buy the Weinstein Co.'s insistence that Kate Winslet is supporting in "The Reader." I'm making a wild guess right now that she'll end up in lead for that, not "Revolutionary Road." But it's just a crazy guess backed up by the observation that, in "The Reader," we'll see her age dramatically over decades in a Holocaust pic.

Sean Penn, "Milk" - 16%
Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler" - 14%
Brad Pitt, "Benjamin Button" - 12%
Leonardo Di Caprio, "Revolutionary Road" - 12%
Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon" -10%

Kate Winslet, "Revolutionary Road" - 16%
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married" - 15% 
Meryl Streep, "Doubt" - 15%
Kristin Scott Thomas, "I've Loved You So Long" - 11%
Sally Hawkins, "Happy-Go-Lucky" - 9%
Angelina Jolie, "Changeling" - 9%

Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight" - 20%
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt" - 11%
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder" - 9%
James Franco, "Milk" - 8%
Josh Brolin, "Milk" - 8%

Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" - 15%
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler" - 10%
Amy Adams, "Doubt" - 9%
Kate Winslet, "The Reader" - 9%
Cate Blanchett, "Benjamin Button" - 8%
Debra Winger, "Rachel Getting Married" - 7%

Gold Derby nuggets: Oops, Britney Spears won't do it again at the MTV Video Music Awards | Woody Allen satirizing diarizing | Humanitas scripting nods include 'Juno' scribe

August 26, 2008 |  4:58 pm

• The New York Daily News reports  Britney Spears will not perform on the MTV Video Music Awards. Says a spokesman for her manager, Larry Rudolph, "She did the promo for them, but there never were any Britney_spears_mtv_vma_2plans for her to appear on the show," which airs on Sept. 7.

While Britney is still expected to attend as a regular contender for "Piece of Me" (nominated for three awards, including video of the year), there was widespread hope that Britney Spears would redeem the performance she gave last year when she fell to pieces while staging "Gimme More." The Daily News adds, "The spokesman said it was 'wishful thinking' when Britney's hair colorist told E! News that he might be working on a look for her VMA performance."

• "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is already one of Woody Allen's best reviewed films in years, boasts a buzz-worthy performance from Penelope Cruz, and continues to do good business at the box office. Last weekend, Allen penned a fanciful series of diary entries for the New York Times that remind us why he has racked up a record number of Oscar screenplay nods (14), compared with 12 for Billy Wilder.


• While the Tony Awards celebrate the best of Broadway, regions around the country have their own versions of these stage kudos to salute homegrown productions. In Chicago, these awards, named for Joseph Jefferson — one of America's most popular touring actors of the 19th century (photo as Rip Van Winkle, left) — are celebrating their ruby anniversary this year. The burgeoning theater scene there has prompted a division of nominees for the Jeff Awards into large and midsize categories. Last year's big winner was the Steppenwolf Theatre production of "August: Osage County," which went on to sweep this year's Tonys. Tracy Letts, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of that epic family drama, returns to the competition this season with a much more low-key comedy "Superior Donuts." For the full list of nominees, CLICK HERE.

• The Humanitas prize was established in 1974 to "encourage, stimulate and sustain the nation's screenwriters in their humanizing task, and to give them the recognition they deserve." To that end, winners will be honored Sept. 17 with both a trophy and a cash prize. This year's nominees, drawn from film and TV, include two Oscar-nominated screenwriters — Ronald Harwood ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") and Nancy Oliver ("Lars and the Real Girl") — as well as Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning scripter of "Juno." For the full list of nominees in all nine categories,  CLICK HERE.


Variety reports on the death of Fred Crane, pictured at right, who made his screen debut uttering the first line in the epic 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind." As one half of the Tarleton twins, (the other being George Reeves, best known as TV's "Superman"), Crane clamored for the attention of Scarlett O'Hara, (Vivien Leigh) who dismissed them both with "Fiddle dee dee!" The film, which won eight Academy Awards including best picture, is still thought to have sold more movie tickets than any other.

• Those wags at New York Magazine's Vulture blog are eagerly awaiting next week's release of "Shine Through It," the debut album of Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard. They showcase a recent promotional appearance of his and promise that this album may, indeed, be "something special."

• The Oscars just sent out an e-mail blast reminding filmmakers that Tuesday, Sept. 2, is the deadline for the submission of short subject and feature documentaries. Read about the rule requirements HERE and HERE.

(Photos: MTV, Denver Public Library)

Oscars for 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona,' Penelope Cruz and Woody Allen?

August 17, 2008 | 12:09 pm

Timing of its release couldn't be better for the Oscars prospects of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," which comes just months after its star Javier Bardem, sporting the creepiest hairdo this side of Donald Trump and Jacko, terrified Hollywood into handing over piles of academy gold to "No Country for Old Men."

At the previous Oscars, Penelope Cruz ("Volver") posed the most serious threat to usurp Helen Mirren ("The Queen") in the best-actress race but, having failed, now seems due to reign too. At the derby before that, many Oscarwatchers thought Woody Allen would finally have his big comeback, but "Match Point," despite nabbing a screenplay nomination, didn't catch fire, so the three-time winner is now sparking new heat.


"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a more appropriate vehicle to return Woody Allen to Oscars glory since it's what he does best. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a comedy, and Woody Allen's career could sure use a smile. His flicks have mostly fizzled this decade. The Hollywood Reporter was among the media that lambasted his previous film "Cassandra's Dream" (2007): "As writer, Allen offers lazy plotting, poor characterization, dull scenes and flat dialogue."

If Woody Allen wins a screenplay Oscar for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," it'll be his first since "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and his third overall after best-picture champ "Annie Hall" (1977) earned him gold for writing and directing. But let's recall that 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."

But lots of stars have blasted the Oscars just like that, then turned around and — in the grand tradition of Hollywood hypocrisy — accepted the golden statuette with glee. Think Glenda Jackson, who denounced the kudofest as "a public hanging," and Dustin Hoffman, who pooh-poohed it as "an obscene evening."

Woody Allen did his flipflop in recent years, actually attending the ceremonies in 2002 (for the 2001 awards) and 2007 (for 2006 kudos). Voters may have been reluctant to embrace him with victory after he was tainted with a sex scandal, but they recently forgave Roman Polanski (best director, "The Pianist," 2002), who battled similar woes.

After all, 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 to 12 for Billy Wilder. However, both Allen and Wilder have 21 nominations overall.

Woody Allen directed 14 actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Michael Caine ("Hannah and Her Sisters"), Judy Davis ("Husbands and Wives"), Mariel Hemingway ("Manhattan"), Diane Keaton ("Annie Hall"), Martin Landau ("Crimes and Misdemeanors"), Samantha Morton ("Sweet and Lowdown"), Geraldine Page ("Interiors"), Chazz Palminteri ("Bullets Over Broadway"), Sean Penn ("Sweet and Lowdown"), Mira Sorvino ("Mighty Aphrodite"), Maureen Stapleton ("Interiors"), Jennifer Tilly ("Bullets Over Broadway"), Dianne Wiest ("Hannah and Her Sisters," "Bullets Over Broadway"), and himself ("Annie Hall"). Caine, Keaton and Sorvino won Oscars — Wiest did so twice.

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