April 17, 2014

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Gravity”

“Gravity”
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (reportedly with some uncredited collaboration by George Clooney as well)
Main cast members: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and Ed Harris (voice)
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 10
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Cuarón), Best Actress (Bullock), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects
Notable precursor wins: Tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Director at the Directors Guild of America Awards, Won Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards, Won Best Director and Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards,
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders for the award and a definite co-frontrunner, if not THE frontrunner
Chances at other Academy Award wins: A sure fire win in Best Director, along with Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, though it could legitimately win every technical award that it’s nominated for
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Gravity is the fifth film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s the other main contender in the category. In fact, it’s probably got the best chance of the bunch to win. Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture, and I’d be one of the few not surprised by an American Hustle win, but still…Gravity is the most likely of that trio. It tied with Hustle for the most nominations overall, has picked up some strong precursor attention, and will likely dominate the tech categories at the Oscar ceremony. That gives it a leg up on the competition for sure. It’ll likely come down to if voters are opposed to citing a science fiction film as their Best Picture winner. If they don’t mind, then this movie is probably winning the Oscar.
Working in Gravity’s favor is just how significant its wins have been and how rare a split between Best Picture and Best Director is. Alfonso Cuarón has dominated the Best Director race, so his win is a slam dunk. With the flick tied for the most nominations overall and a prime competitor for the top prize, it’ll be all too easy for Academy members to not split their ballot. It may not have won the [...]

“The Lego Movie” repeats as Box Office champ this weekend

Happy Sunday everyone, time for the weekly box office report! Leading the way this weekend once again was The LEGO Movie, which had a tremendous second week hold, taking in an estimated $48.8 million, again easily taking the top spot. The animated film bested a trio of 80′s movie remakes and an original title in terms of the other new releases. The comedy redo About Last Night opened very strongly for an estimated $28 million, proving that whatever Kevin Hart is in makes a few bucks, while the high profile remake of RoboCop had a middling gross of $21 million. Given the budget, that has to be a bit on the disappointing side. The new incarnation of Endless Love lost a lot of Valentine’s Day viewers to the more well received About Last Night and only made $13.3 million. As for Winter’s Tale, that supposedly un-filmable novel became a largely ignored film, as it only took in $7.7 million. Among the limited release openings, Beijing Love Story did decently well, while no other independent features of that ilk have reported their weekend grosses as of right now.
The LEGO Movie now is surely the start of a franchise, while The Monuments Men overcame less than stellar reviews to open better than expected, especially considering the bad buzz that surrounded the move from Oscar season last year. As for Vampire Academy, plain and simple…no one went to see it.
Among the notable holdovers in theaters besides The LEGO Movie, The Monuments Men finished fourth with another $15 million, while Ride Along finished six with another $8.7 million.
Here’s what the top ten looked like at the box office for this particular weekend:
1. The LEGO Movie – $48,810,000
2. About Last Night – $27,000,000
3. RoboCop – $21,500,000
4. The Monuments Men – $15,000,000
5. Endless Love – $13,380,000
6. Ride Along – $8,759,000
7. Winter’s Tale – $7,785,000
8. Frozen – $5,855,000
9. Lone Survivor – $4,076,000
10. That Awkward Moment – $3,337,000

Chavez Film: The Producer Strikes Back

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
The producers of a new biopic about the late labor leader Cesar Chavez are rushing to tamp down a flickering controversy appearing on Latino social media over whether unionized workers were fired and non-union personnel employed on the film.
The allegation is being vigorously disputed by lead producerPablo Cruz, who said the production complied with all union regulations andthat all the actors, either those from the U.S. or from Mexico, were unionmembers. He did concede, however, that extras hired in Mexico were non-unionsince there is no equivalent of an extras union in Mexico.
‘If there was a union for extras (in Mexico), we would havehad them, but there wasn’t one,’ Cruz said.
Cesar Chavez, which is directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Pena, America Ferrara, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich,is scheduled to be released March 28 in more than 600 theaters by Pantelion Films.
The movie was shot predominately in Sonora, Mexico, for reasons that had to do with the grape-picking season and how differently grapesare harvested today in the Central Valley of California, as opposed to decades ago when Cesar Chavez was organizing farm workers.
Cruz also rejected claims that they were a ‘runaway’ production. ‘We are a Mexican production company. We are the company who managed to finance this film. We are not a U.S. company.’
If the union/non-union issues are not satisfactorily dealt with, they could impact the film’s perception, especially in the Latino community, where Chavez’s struggle to organize California farm workers lifted him in many eyes into the Latino equivalent of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The controversy, which has been around for a few years, erupted anew earlier this week when the website Latino Rebels published a story under the headline: ‘Critics of New Chavez Movie Allege Producers Used Non-Union Workers and Outsourced Workto Mexico.’
The source of this allegation was an L.A. activist namedChamba Sanchez, who wrote on his Facebook page that he had received an emailasking if he would help promote the film. He derisively questioned why he would want Luna to get rich?
‘Furthermore,’ Sanchez posted, ‘I am currently researching into allegations that people behind this movie fired unionized workers and outsourced part or the entire production to Mexico. This is quite disturbing. If this is the case, Cesar Chavez must be spinning in his grave. And a bigger question: Why his family would agree to this?’
‘We never fired anybody to hire a non-union [...]

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Dallas Buyers Club”

Dallas Buyers Club
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Main cast members: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne, Michael O’Neill
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Actor (McConaughey), Best Supporting Actor (Leto), Best Original Screenplay (Borten and Wallack), Best Film Editing, and Best Hairstyling & Makeup
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Actor/Supporting Actor at the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
Chances at winning Best Picture: A rather long shot contender frankly, though not the absolute longest of shots in the lineup this year
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Frontrunner in Best Actor and Supporting Actor, while also perhaps the frontrunner in Best Hairstyling & Makeup
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Dallas Buyers Club is the fourth film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another movie that’s not a major contender in this category. That being said, it could wind up being one of the biggest winners overall at the Oscars. Early on in the precursor season, this flick wasn’t thought of as a particularly big contender (outside of Jared Leto, who seemed like a lock for Supporting Actor from the start of the season), but it just kept showing up in all the right places, especially once Matthew McConaughey started to pick up the important Best Actor prizes. Now, it’s among the more highly represented titles of 2013, potentially on the verge of leaving the Academy Awards with the second most statues of any nominated film.
Working in Dallas Buyers Club’s favor is the fact that it’s highly unlikely that this movie goes home empty handed. Best Supporting Actor is almost wrapped up in a bow for Leto, while McConaughey is the odds on favorite to take Best Actor as well, and that doesn’t even take into consideration that Best Hairstyling & Makeup is a crapshoot, so there could be a trio of victories for this movie. Aside from Gravity, no other contender knows it’s going to potentially win that many. That’s an enviable spot to be in. The flick might not be nearly as likely a Best Picture winner as 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle, but it could score more wins overall.
If you’re looking for something that’s not [...]

Jennifer Lawrence to Present at the Oscars®

Oscar® winner Jennifer Lawrence will return to present at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will air on Sunday, March 2, live on ABC.
Lawrence took home the Oscar for her lead performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.” She is nominated this year for her supporting role in “American Hustle.” Previously Lawrence was nominated for her leading role in “Winter’s Bone.” Her other credits include “X-Men: First Class” and “The Hunger Games” series.
Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Hollywood: Welcome to Hard Times

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
These are strange times in Hollywood. Turbulent times.Grieving times. Warring times. Bieber times. Noah times.
To be sure, Hollywood wouldn’t be Hollywood without being a little off its axis. But the events of recent weeks make Tinseltown seem almostas if the tectonic plates are shifting and we’re all about to be swallowed upin a giant, sucking sinkhole along with those vintage Corvettes.
There was Fast and Furious star Paul Walker dying senselessly in a horrible car crash.
There was the shocking news that the brilliant award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died. In New York. In his Greenwich Village apartment. In the bathroom. A syringe in his arm. Five empty packets and dozens more full of heroin. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor.
Then, like a Dementor swooping down on the Hogwarts Express,bespectacled Woody Allen found himself dueling with his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, 28, who accused the celebrated actor/director of molesting her when she was only 7 years old. Allen flatly denied it but the accusations made everyone feel creepy and wondering who wastelling the truth? The feud even spilled over into the Oscars with Best Actressnominee Cate Blanchett, the star of Allen’s Blue Jasmine being singled out by Farrow for professionally associating with Allen. ‘What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett?’she wrote, listing other celebrities who had also worked with Allen over the years.
It was left to Page Six to supply more details on the untimely death of Julia Roberts’ half-sister Nancy Motes, who is said to have tweeted ‘Just so you all know ‘America’s Sweetheart’ is a B***H’ in the weeks before Motes died of a drug overdose. In October last year Motes also spoke about a family rift, reportedly tweeting: ‘It’s a shame when you get more support from strangers than you do from your family. I can’t wait to officially belong to another family!’ It sounded all the more poignant when you read that Motes had once harbored her own Tinseltown dreams.
The grieving poured forth again this week with the deaths oftwo icons: Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.
Shirley and Sid were, of course, now elderly so their deathswere not unexpected, but it tugged at the heartstrings because they stillentertain us whenever their films or TV shows are aired on television.
Shirley, arms pumping with that curly top and dimpled chin,couldn’t extend her appeal beyond youth, but in adulthood she managed to [...]

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Captain Phillips”

Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Written by: Billy Ray
Main cast members: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Max Martini, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Michael Chernus
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Supporting Actor (Abdi), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ray), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Supporting Actor at the London Critics Circle Film Awards, and Won Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic at the American Cinema Editors ACE Eddie Awards
Chances at winning Best Picture: A long shot contender, but not the longest of shots in the lineup
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Perhaps the new frontrunner for Best Film Editing, with a fighter’s chance at Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, plus a potential spoiler in Best Adapted Screenplay
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Captain Phillips is the third film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s the first that’s not a major contender in this category. Early on in the season, it was considered a potential frontrunner for the award, and at the very least for Tom Hanks in Best Actor. Obviously Hanks was snubbed by the Academy, and so was director Paul Greengrass and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd for that matter, but the movie itself still managed a half dozen Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. It wound up with a very decent haul, making it a film that really needs to have an eye kept on it. Maybe not in the Best Picture race, but somewhere.
Working in Captain Phillips’ favor is momentum. After a number of months spent not winning anything (though it picked up some nominations), it took Best Adapted Screenplay from the Writers Guild in a relative upset. Factor in the recent ACE Eddie win that suggests that it could take the Oscar for Best Film Editing, and it shows that the flick still has life in it yet. Enough to win Best Picture? Probably not, but it’s kept it in play for other awards, whereas up until a few weeks ago it was destined to go home empty handed.
If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the simple fact that it missed out in Best Director and has only gained some momentum in lesser [...]

R.I.P. Shirley Temple (1928-2014)

The film world lost a certified legend lat last night as Shirley Temple (or Shirley Temple Black as she was known after she got married to Charles Black and retired from acting in her 20′s) passed away at the age of 85. She died of natural causes and obviously led a long life, much of it spent in front of the camera. Perhaps the most famous child star of all time, Temple Black was a giant in the industry for sure, and made her impact as a young girl, which makes that even more astounding.
One of the biggest box office draws of her time and easily the youngest A-lister ever, Temple Black was able to command a record salary of $50,000 a picture. That might not sound like a huge amount now, but this was the 1930′s, so that was a massive sum of money to earn. That alone puts her in the history books.
Temple Black won a special Oscar in 1935, but once she retired as an actress at the age of 22, she continued to do some noteworthy work, perhaps even affecting the world in a bigger way. She became a diplomat and served in the U.S. delegation to the United Nations from 1969 to 1974. She also was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, and the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. She spent two decades in front of the camera and then nearly three decades serving her country.
In terms of her film work, Temple Black was best known for her performances in movies like Bright Eyes, Curly Top, Fort Apache, Heidi, Little Miss Marker, and The Littlest Rebel, among others. She was the child actor of her time, and probably the most well known child actor ever. Her name will undoubtedly live on in history until the end of time.
She will most certainly be missed by just about everyone. Rest in peace Shirley…
Photo by Shirley Temple Films

Celebs: How Close Is Too Close?

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
Actor Matt Damon enters the green room backstage at NBC’s ‘The Tonight Show’ and is immediately confronted by comedian and fellow Jay Leno guest Larry the Cable Guy wielding a camera phone.
‘Okay, everybody, I promised, this is my dressing room after the big ‘Tonight’ show, Larry the Cable Guy says, and we zip around and there is my new buddy ‘go Big Red!’ Matty Damon!
‘Go Big Red,’ a pleasant but subdued Damon replies into the camera.
‘My gosh, it’s me and Matt!’ exclaims the clearly awestruck Larry the Cable Guy.
And who’s watching this live video from the green room? Why,anybody anywhere around the world who follows Larry the Cable Guy on a free mobile app called Hang With, or as it’s officially known, Hang W/.
Larry the Cable Guy, the blue collar stage persona created by comedian Daniel Lawrence Whitney, clearly relishes bringing his mini-broadcast to his followers on their iPhone, iPad or Android device.
And he’s not alone.
Rapper 50 Cent and more than 100 other celebrities and athletes have broadcast live on Hang W/. They include singer Paula Abdul,football great Terrell Owens, comedians Cheech and Chong and Jamie Kennedy, and popular DJ’s Chuckie and Kaskade.
Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas used Hang W/ at this year’s Super Bowl to take his followers on a personal tour inside the Broncos’locker room. ‘It’s just a little quick behind the scenes view of the locker room,’ he tells his viewers. Then zooming in on the gear in his locker, heads, ‘It’s what it’s all about right there.’
Record producer and rapper Timbaland (Timothy Zachery Mosley) even did a broadcast while relaxing at home with his adorable little daughter, Reign, as they sang a short rap tune for the hit maker’s fans. Itends with Timbaland asking Reign, ‘That’s it’ That’s all we doing ‘ Say,Goodbye, people.’ And she says, ‘Goodbye. Love you all.’
So what, exactly, is Hang W/?
It’s an app that connects people through live streaming and simultaneous chat, allowing anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Android device tobroadcast live to thousands of viewers. And, it could revolutionize how celebrities connect with their fans, whether it’s live streaming themselves at parties,performances, the red carpet or just taking followers along with them on their daily routines.
But celebrities have to be mindful of what information they put out since anyone can [...]

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “American Hustle”

“American Hustle”
Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
Main cast members: Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Robert De Niro, Michael Pena, Jack Huston, Elisabeth Röhm, and Alessandro Nivola
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 10
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Russell), Best Actor (Bale), Best Actress (Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Lawrence), Best Original Screenplay (Russell and Singer), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Best Comedy/Best Actress in a Comedy/Supporting Actress at the Golden Globe Awards, and Best Film/Supporting Actress/Best Screenplay at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders for the award and a definite co-frontrunner
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Locked in close races for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, with Best Actress, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing still in play
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
American Hustle is the second film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another one of the main contenders in the category. Though no film among the nominees has seen the sort of backlash that American Hustle has, the numbers simply don’t lie. It’s a blockbuster hit financially, has some major precursor wins under its belt, is one of the rare films to be able to score a nomination in each acting category, and tied for the most nominations overall this year. That didn’t happen out of thin air. This is a much loved movie, even if the supporters aren’t as vocal about it. A silent majority could still turn out to be a majority though, so this is a top tier Best Picture player for sure.
Working in American Hustle’s favor is just how much it was embraced by the Academy. Last year David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook got all four acting nominations as well (plus a Lawrence win in Best Actress), making him the first director ever to achieve this in consecutive years. It’s obvious that Oscar voters like what he’s doing, considering the ten nominations they gave him. It’d be one of the biggest losses in history if the film went home empty handed, so I just don’t [...]

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