April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Human Interest

Oscars: Get to know the Best Actress race

Best Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams for American Hustle, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock for Gravity, Judi Dench for Philomena, and Meryl Streep for August: Osage County
Notable precursor wins: Adams wins Golden Globe Award (Comedy), while Blanchett wins BAFTA, Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globe (Drama), and Screen Actors Guild Awards, while McConaughey wins Broadcast Film Critics Association, Golden Globe (Drama), and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Cate Blanchett
Next in line: Amy Adams
Dark horse: Judi Dench
Continuing on with my “Get to know” series, we now turn our attention to the Best Actress race today. As you can no doubt see above, the ladies making up this category are Amy Adams for American Hustle, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Sandra Bullock for Gravity, Judi Dench for Philomena, and Meryl Streep for August: Osage County. From the very beginning, it always appeared to be an Adams vs Blanchett race, and that’s what’s come to pass, though most thought it would be closer than it’s turned out to be. Right now, Blanchett looks like a lock to take home the Oscar.
From the start, Blanchett has basically swept the precursors, with Adams really only scoring when the Actress field is split up between Comedy and Drama. There was a brief moment before the awards started coming in where it seemed like someone could step up to beat here, with the buzz mainly surrounding Adams, but time after time when they’ve gone up against each other, Blanchett has come out on top. That leads me to believe that she’s more assured of a win than some claim.
Now, unless somehow Woody Allen’s recent bad publicity has an effect, Blanchett is going to win her second Oscar. If she winds up being beaten, the upset is going to come from Adams, though there’s a small chance that it could be the late charging Dench that wins, but realistically it’s going to be Blanchett. She’s a pretty safe bet here too.
Stay tuned for the rest of the acting categories this week, with Best Supporting Actor up next!

Oscars: Get to know the Best Actor race

Best Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Notable precursor wins: Dern wins National Board of Review Award, DiCaprio wins Golden Globe Award (Comedy), Ejiofor wins BAFTA Award, and McConaughey wins Broadcast Film Critics Association, Golden Globe (Drama), and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Matthew McConaughey
Next in line: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Dark horse: Bruce Dern
Time for the next version of my “Get to know” series, as we turn our attention now to the Best Actor race. As you can see above, the gentlemen making up this category are Christian Bale for American Hustle, Bruce Dern for Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave, and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. This was a wide open and highly competitive race for most of the season, though lately the tide has greatly turned in McConaughey’s favor. Right now, he’s the odds on favorite to win the Oscar.
Basically, once the crowded field competing to be nominated was whittled down to these five, things clarified a bit. Bale was just happy to be nominated, while the other four shuffled back and forth a bit. Then, the major precursors really rallied around McConaughey, resulting in his current frontrunner status. Dern hasn’t had a win in a while that gives him much of a shot, while DiCaprio and Ejiofor have some, but not nearly on the level of McConaughey.
Now, with the Academy Awards just days away, McConaughey is the smart bet for Best Actor. If there’s going to be an upset, it’s going to be from Ejiofor. A Dern or DiCaprio win would be shocking at this point. Still, Ejiofor is pretty far behind McConaughey, so look for him to pick up a statue on Sunday evening. Anything could happen, but things seem pretty cut and dried now to me…
Stay tuned for the rest of the acting categories this week, with Best Actress up next!

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Terence Winter
Main cast members: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Cristin Milioti, Jean Dujardin, P.J. Byrne, Jon Favreau, Christine Ebersole, Shea Whigham, and Joanna Lumley
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 5
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Hill), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Winter)
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical at the Golden Globe Awards, Won Best Actor in a Comedy at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, and Won Best Adapted Screenplay from the National Board of Review
Chances at winning Best Picture: Slim to none, quite frankly
Chances at other Academy Award wins: A shutout is pretty likely, though DiCaprio has an outside chance to pull the upset in the Best Actor race
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, HER, Nebraska, and Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street is the ninth (and final) film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s one last nominee that realistically has to look at the very nomination itself in this category as the only award that it can count on. For the longest time, it was sort of an awards season X factor, as no one quite knew if it would come out in 2013, let alone if it would be Oscar worthy. Well, it got in just under the wire and turned out to be easily the liveliest of the Best Picture contenders, inspiring some early talk that it could win. That hasn’t sustained, but Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio did get nominations as well, with the latter still having an outside chance of a victory in Best Actor. The likely result is a shutout for the movie, but it’s a memorable flick and an out of the box nomination from the Academy, regardless of anything else.
Working in The Wolf of Wall Street’s favor is how enthusiastic fans of the movie are and how successful it has been at the box office. This is a big hit and the most overtly funny flick in the lineup, so it’s able to differentiate itself from a lot of the more independent and serious minded films making up the nominees. The presence of DiCaprio and Scorsese certainly doesn’t hurt either. They took home the big prize once before for The Departed, [...]

Oscars’ Billion Viewer Envelope

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
“And the envelope, please….”
It is one of Hollywood’s most iconic phrases, uttered by presenters at the Academy Awards each year and followed by another equally famous quote: “And the Oscar goes to….”
But throughout much of Oscar’s history whenever the pinprick moment arrived when a celebrity presenter would open the envelope and announce the winning nominee, there was nothing special about the envelope itself as opposed to the golden statuette that the winners would clutch while thanking whomever on live TV.
That is, until Marc Friedland decided that the Oscar envelope needed to be its own icon.
The L.A. stationer had an idea: design a classy-looking envelope, that was easy to open and that would provide a treasured keepsake to the winners along with the glittering golden statuette that they clutched in their hands in triumph.
Friedland, owner of Marc Friedland Couture Communications, persuaded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to have him design an envelope that would not only look elegant to the 1 billion global TV viewers but also be constructed in such a way that celebrity presenters wouldn’t struggle opening the envelopes to the groans and laughter of audiences.
“When I started thinking about this, I wanted something that would be timeless, involving the glamour of Hollywood, but not a period piece. But also something that transcended fashion and trends,” Friedland, 54, told HollywoodNews. “We had to design something that looks great and performs well, too. Like the quintessential Hollywood actress who has to look good on screen but also be talented.”
On Sunday, March 2, the Academy Awards will again be featuring Friedland-designed envelopes. This will mark the fourth year that Friedland’s envelopes will be in use.
And, since there are two dozen categories, Friedland noted, only the presenters and winners will be seen touching the envelopes, making the moment even more special.
Each envelope is handcrafted out of four different papers using 10 different processes, he explains.
The outside of each envelope is made of metallic-gold paper stock with subtle repeats of the Oscar statuettes.
Inside the envelope, the creators note, is a heavyweight ecru card featuring deco gold foil and is accented with a gold-leaf embossed Oscar statuette along with the phrase, “And the Oscar goes to…” The winner’s name is printed in charcoal ink and is mounted onto a matching red lacquer hand-wrapped frame. The back of the card introduces a new feature, indicating the specific [...]

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

Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Bob Nelson
Main cast members: Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, and Stacy Keach
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Payne), Best Actor (Dern), Best Supporting Actress (Squibb), Best Original Screenplay (Nelson), and Best Cinematography
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and Won Best Actor/Supporting Actor from the National Board of Review
Chances at winning Best Picture: At one point a more serious contender and currently still one of the five likeliest winners, it’s however most certainly a long shot at this juncture
Chances at other Academy Award wins: It’s likely to be shut out, but there’s an outside chance of an upset in the Best Actor race
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Nebraska is the seventh film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another nominee that has to look at the nomination itself as the real reward here, since it’s likely to be completely shut out. Earlier in the season it was considered a major threat and a potential dark horse to win a number of Academy Awards, but the buzz has really died down now. That’s a shame too, considering how at one point Bruce Dern was a real top tier contender for Best Actor. He could still swoop in for the upset win, but the likely result is that Alexander Payne’s movie goes home empty handed.
Working in Nebraka’s favor is how it’s the one film that clearly has the senior citizen vote. Oscar voters have long been pigeon-holed as old white men, and despite that being an oversimplification of things, there’s no denying that these older voters are there and the Academy has quite a few folks who like movies that speak to them. This one certainly does that.
If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s the fact that it really never got a precursor win of note. Aside from a win for Dern at Cannes that launched his candidacy, nothing truly of any importance happened for the flick. Nebraska got plenty of nominations throughout the season, but never that all important win. Had something happened at the Golden Globes for example, it would have set the movie up as a potential winner somewhere just because it had been seen [...]

Can the Oscars save CNN?

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
It seems that everybody is benefiting from the Oscar season…film festivals, awards shows, broadcast and cable TV networks, entertainment magazines and websites.
So, can the Oscars save ratings starved CNN?
The cable news channel has seen its ratings languishing for some time now.
As Mediate recently reported, “On Valentine’s Day Friday night, CNN’s evening slate of shows had a disastrous night, failing to rate above 66K viewers in the key 25-54 demo from 5-10 p.m. ET. The network was in 4th place across the board during those hours with Anderson Cooper 360 and Piers Morgan Live both at 66K in the demo. Erin Burnett OutFront at 7 p.m. drew just 49K in the demo.”
We’re not saying one is related to the other, but on Wednesday, CNN announced it was kicking off a number of Oscar-related telecasts leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 2.
On Thursday at 10 p.m. ET, Krista Smith, senior west coast editor of Vanity Fair and a CNN contributor, will host CNN Spotlight: And the Nominees Are? The hour-long show will feature Smith’s interviews with Oscar nominees Amy Adams, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o and Jonah Hill.
Among the revelations Smith unearths:
“Amy Adams reveals that when she signed on to work with David O. Russell again for American Hustle, they didn’t have a script until like a week before,” a press release touting the show states.
The release goes on: “…Jared Leto tells Smith that he stayed in the Dallas Buyers Club character Rayon while filming: ‘I was walking through Whole Foods and I got looks from people and it was a real look of condemnation, of judgment, of disgust. And that was powerful to get to understand. Because I’m sure Rayon and the Rayons of the world get that look all the time—and have to deal with that in a much more real way than I did.”
On Thursday, Feb. 27, at 9 p.m. ET, the cable network will telecast CNN: And the Oscar Goes To? a two-hour special from Turner Classic Movies featuring great moments from 85 years of Academy Awards ceremonies, including never before seen behind-the-scenes ceremony footage from the archives of Hollywood Newsreel.
From Feb. 27 to March 2, CNN will “air live reports, interviews and take an inside at all the big events in and around the industry’s crowning event. From the rolling out of the red carpet to the behind-the-scenes stories [...]

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

“Her”
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Written by: Spike Jonze
Main cast members: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara, and Portia Doubleday
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 5
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Original Screenplay (Jonze), Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Screenplay at the Golden Globe Awards, and Won Best Film/Best Director from the National Board of Review
Chances at winning Best Picture: It’d be an absolute shock if it managed to win Best Picture, so it’s slim to none here
Chances at other Academy Award wins: It’s the frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay, while it’s not impossible for any of its tech nominations to turn into upset wins.
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Her is the six film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another nominee that has to consider the nomination itself to be the real reward, at least in this category. That being said, the nod (along with all of its noms overall) is really something to admire. Such a singular and unique movie being nominated for more than a token Oscar or two is a nice change of pace for the Academy. Especially considering that it scored not just a Best Picture citation but a Best Original Screenplay as well, there are voters here who are very fond of this film, and that pleases me to no end. Regardless of anything else, it’s nothing like any other nominee this year, or really in history I’d argue, so kudos to Spike Jonze and company for such fine work. He may not be a serious Best Picture contender, but Jonze is likely to win the Original Screenplay Oscar, so the flick isn’t too likely to go home empty handed regardless.
Working in Her’s favor is just how different and romantic it is. The film has connected with so many people, arguably in a way that no other nominee has been able to do. Members of the Academy were taken by this movie in more than one way, honoring not just the film itself and it’s writing, but the production design and musical components as well. Multiple tech nominations are a sure sign of widespread support. Without it, you have no chance at [...]

The many facets of Leo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall Street

By Michael Russnow
As Oscar voters continue to mark their ballots until this Wednesday, I wonder what goes into their thinking? Do they vote specifically for what they believe is the best achievement of last year, a surprising performance and accomplishment or is it a cumulative assessment of someone’s career?
For all these reasons, and not just one, I’m going against the grain of what appears to be the general consensus and strongly suggest that Leonardo DiCaprio deserves the Oscar this year for The Wolf of Wall Street, even more than favorite Matthew McConaughey.
This doesn’t in any way diminish McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club. It was terrific, and the subject matter of the film made it that much more compelling. However, DiCaprio’s execution, in my view, was even more powerful, in particular as it was a totally different characterization and portrayal than we’ve ever seen from the actor before.
It’s hard to realize sometimes that Leo has been in filmdom’s consciousness for twenty-one years, since he was elevated from his sitcom supporting role in ABC’s Growing Pains to the wow factor engendered in his major debut role opposite Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life. Later in 1993 that respect was magnified when he stole What’s Eating Gilbert Grape from Johnny Depp and was rewarded with his first Oscar nomination at the age of nineteen.
For the next several years, he continued to intrigue audiences with a different assortment of characters, sometimes in mixed films such as Basketball Diaries and Total Eclipse, in more respected fare such as Marvin’s Room and Romeo and Juliet, and finally emerging as a superstar in Titanic.
Since then he has won fans and critical plaudits for his work in Catch Me If You Can, a young Howard Hughes in The Aviator, as a South African in Blood Diamond and an undercover policeman in The Departed, sometimes Oscar nominated, more times not and sometimes robbed of a nod as in the case of J. Edgar and last year’s Django Unchained.
Through it all, he has mostly been acclaimed for quirky dramatic performances until finally his well-known personal impishness came forth comedically in The Wolf of Wall Street. In this film, which I mostly liked but not entirely, Leo displayed so many facets, delivering emotional high points while also sometimes hysterically funny, that I wonder if his excellence has become so expected we don’t realize how different the role is and [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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