April 20, 2014

Tag Archives: Nationality

Foxcatcher will debut at Cannes and might be on a collision course with Oscar

About a month ago, I wrote a piece here that speculated on some of the Academy Award hopefuls that might be debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. Well, the lineup for Cannes has been announced (at least the preliminary list of titles…look for some movies to be added in the coming weeks), and while a few flicks I mentioned in that article like The Homesman, How to Catch a Monster, and Maps to the Stars are set to unspool in France, the film that probably is the most anticipated, especially in terms of awards potential, is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. In fact, I’ve listed it as a Best Picture frontrunner in my Oscar predictions, if you haven’t already noticed.
In case you’re not up to speed on this movie, it’s obviously directed by Miller based on a script from Dan Futterman and based on a true story. The plot surrounds Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and how, while training with paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John duPont, Schultz’s brother, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz, was killed by duPont. The cast is led by Steve Carrell as duPont, Mark Ruffalo as Dave, and Channing Tatum as Mark, with Anthony Michael Hall, Sienna Miller, and Vanessa Redgrave in supporting turns as well. That’s pretty baity stuff if I do say so myself, especially in terms of the potential it holds for Carrell and Ruffalo.
Miller has so far been perfect at getting his films into Best Picture lineups, with both Capote and Moneyball scoring citations. This is also a passion project of his, which could put an extra chip on his shoulder to really nail this one. He’s also gotten multiple performers of his nominated each time out (along with his screenplays getting nominated both times to go along with one Best Director nomination for himself as well), so the odds are really in this cast’s favor. Assuming the debut at Cannes goes well, it’d be pretty foolish to bet against this one not turning into a major awards player.
So, what are the odds of Foxcatcher going from Cannes to the Oscar ceremony? Well, it’s not incredibly uncommon, though winners are a bit more on the rare side. The last movie to pull that off was No Country for Old Men, so while Foxcatcher (along with The Homesman, for example) might not have any statistics out there in the universe to suggest that a strong debut at this [...]

Robin Wright: Who’s overdue for their first Academy Award nomination?

Much like I wrote about the actors, actresses, and filmmakers in Hollywood who are overdue to win an Oscar a few weeks ago, there are tons in the industry who are way overdue merely for their first nomination by the Academy. Some of them have gotten close in the past, while others have yet to really sniff that sort of acclaim. They’re both newcomers to the business and old hands, with plenty of in between as well. In my eyes, there are some really overdue ones in particular, and I figured I’d cite some of them here in this article. Narrowing it down to just ten is really difficult, but I wanted to mix and match between different members of the industry and attempt to include some who will have 2014 releases in contention, as you’ll see momentarily…
Below you’ll find ten members of the industry who have yet to receive an Oscar nomination, but who I think are closing in on one, perhaps even within the next year. Take a look:
10. Channing Tatum – I know his name raises some eyebrows, and up until recently I wasn’t his biggest fan, but he’s going to have a big Oscar contender in Foxcatcher this year, so while Steve Carell (who we’ll be talking about shortly) and Mark Ruffalo as more likely nominees, it’s hardly out of the question for Tatum to make it in. In fact, if he’s a standout, it’ll be one of those more youth skewing nominations that the Academy sometimes likes to sneak in.
9. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – I’ve long been saying that Gordon-Levitt is overdue for a nomination, despite his relative youth. His writing and directing debut Don Jon only showed off more of his talents, so while he couldn’t make it in for something like (500) Days of Summer, the next few years should most likely result in him joining the Academy as a nominee. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t nominated by the end of the decade.
8. Kevin Smith – While Smith is probably past the point of making things that will appeal to Oscar voters, that doesn’t make him any less overdue in my eyes. I’ll be talking about him in a Spotlight on the Stars piece soon, but his best chance was probably for the Chasing Amy screenplay. A few years ago he made a great film that nobody saw called Red State too, so [...]

Shailene Woodley: Magnolia acquires White Bird in a Blizzard

Magnolia Pictures announced today it has acquired North American rights to White Bird in a Blizzard, a suspenseful drama from writer/director Gregg Araki and starring Shailene Woodley, who is coming off her hit film Divergent, which has grossed $116.6 million to date.
Based on the novel by Laura Kasischke, the story is set in 1988 and revolves around a college-bound teenager whose life is deeply affected by the disappearance of her mother, played by Eva Green.
The ensemble cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane and Angela Bassett.
The film was produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Sebastien K. Lemercier, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Pavlina Hatoupis and Gregg Araki (Kaboom). White Bird In a Blizzard is a Why Not Productions / Desperate Pictures / Orange Studio / Wild Bunch co-production.
“We are longtime admirers of the singular Gregg Araki, who brings his unique vision to this funny, sexy and haunting film,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Shailene Woodley truly shines with a bold and fearless performance that showcases the depth of her talent.”
“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to collaborate with Magnolia, one of the boldest, smartest companies around. White Bird is a true labor of love for me and the most amazing family of actors I’ve ever worked with,” said Araki. “I can’t wait for the world to see the film.”
The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and VP of Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with CAA and Wild Bunch on behalf of the filmmakers. Magnolia is eyeing a release for later this year.
Magnolia Pictures (www.magpictures.com) is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically-integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner andMark Cuban that also includes the Landmark Theatres chain and AXS TV. Recent releases include Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, the killer whale doc Blackfish, Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-Nominated The Hunt, and hit documentaries Muscle Shoals, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Queen of Versailles.
Magnolia’s upcoming releases include Richard Ayoade’s dystopian vision The Double, the raucous Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan, Steve James’ Roger Ebert doc Life Itself, Joe Berlinger’s Whitey Bulger doc Whitey, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas, Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, Norwegian thrillers Pioneer and Ragnarok, and more.

Oscars®: Under the Skin – Scarlett Johansson – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Written by: Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer, based on the novel by Michael Faber
Main Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, and others
Past Oscar relations: None, though Scarlett Johansson has received four Golden Globe nominations and twice came very close to Academy Award nominations
Here now is the newest article in this series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention. Next up today is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, which hopes to be the sort of heady indie contender that voters every so often can fall under the spell of. Glazer’s acclaimed Sexy Beast wasn’t able to attract enough votes, but can this one do better? Armed with an amazing performance by Scarlett Johansson and some incredible visuals/sound design, Glazer has a magnificent movie, though one that could prove to be a hard sell.
What this flick really has going in its favor is Johansson’s acting and Glazer’s ambition. She’s absolutely phenomenal here, possibly even giving the best performance of her career. It’s a brilliant turn by the talented actress, showing a brand new side to her. Glazer coaxed this out of her and it really turns heads. The film is presented in such a way that Johansson is front and center the whole time, so her success is very much the movie’s as well. She blew me away, quite frankly. In a fair world, she’d be a lock for a Best Actress nomination.
Working against Under the Skin is that the movie is very challenging and will leave some scratching their heads. Nothing is spelled out for you and a lot of the film is presented in a rather obtuse way. At times, it even comes close to pretentiousness, though it never reaches that point. Still, when you make voters work for it, sometimes they opt to just move on to something easier, and I expect that to be the case here with this one. It’s a shame too, since Johansson deserves to win an Oscar for this, but even a nomination will be hard to come by.
So, can this one be a player at all? Simply put, the odds are against it, though the independent precursors will likely love it. Basically, I’d be pretty surprised if it held on until the end of awards season in any substantial way, but stranger things have certainly happened. The flick will really have an uphill battle, but Under [...]

Websites Offer Exclusive Hollywood Access

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
“Don’t Miss this Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Meet Miley Cyrus.”
That’s just one of the “celebrities for hire” listed on a website called Millionaire’s Concierge out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., that also dangles the opportunity for its presumably rich clientele exclusive entre to major movie premieres, awards shows, walk-on roles “in the Hottest TV Shows or Films,” and many other luxury experiences.
“The World’s Biggest Stars Come to You!” the website exults.
“Hiring a celebrity for your next party won’t just provide you with the opportunity to meet a beloved star—it produces enormous entertainment value for you and your guests. Whether you’re planning a sweet-sixteen birthday party, celebrating a recent accomplishment, or simply painting the town red for the sake of it, a celebrity performance will turn your special occasion into an unforgettable experience.” Celebrities can also help “get your message across” at corporate events, the website notes.
It then lists such “celebrities for hire” as the Beach Boys, Blink 182, Jethro Tull, Julio Iglesias, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stalone (sic), Oscar De La Hoya, Jenny McCarthy, Donald Trump, Patrick Stewart “and many many more.”
It’s all about the public’s insatiable desire to be close to celebrities and big events, if you’ve got the money.
“It never goes out of style,” Doug Turner, owner of Millionaire’s Concierge, told HollywoodNews in a brief phone interview.
“I serve rich people all over the world,” he added, noting that he started his company 17 years ago.
The website includes a video segment that appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show which detailed how his company caters to its wealthy clients, like the time Turner said they dropped 50 dozen roses into a swimming pool from a helicopter for a client’s anniversary. The Oprah segment does not mention celebrities for hire.
A spokeswoman for Trump said that while the famed billionaire businessman may have met the owner of Millionaire’s Concierge years back in Florida, in any case, she has asked that Trump’s name be removed from the website.
“(Trump) has no affiliation with Millionaire’s Concierge and he does not do these kind of things,” she said. “He works with speaking engagement bureaus. Mr. Trump is one of the highest paid speakers in the world. These are legitimate organizations. He would never do this.”
HollywoodNews reached out to representatives of DiCaprio, Cyrus, Stone, Stallone and Carrey and have yet to hear back.
Millionaire’s Concierge also offers access to special Hollywood [...]

Leonardo DiCaprio: Who’s the most overdue for an Academy Award?

A lot of times during the months directly following the Academy Awards telecast, people talk about who’s overdue for an Oscar nomination, but I think the more interesting conversation is to discuss who’s already been nominated repeatedly by the Academy but has yet to win an Oscar. It’s one thing to fight for that first nod, or to have a nom to your credit but nothing else, but what of the people who’ve been cited with nominations multiple times by Oscar voters but never seem to make it to the finish line? Recently, I was thinking about just that, and actually came up with a list of some of the folks in the industry that are most overdue for a win.
Below you’ll find a group of ten previously nominated by the Academy that I think should have won by now. They consist of actors, actresses, filmmakers, and technical craftsmen, all of whom define the word “overdue” to me. There are many others, like Ridley Scott for example, but I limited it to ten. Take a look:
10. David O. Russell- With five nominations to his credit now, Russell is undoubtedly on a hot streak right now, and it’s firmly entrenched him as someone due for a win. The Academy clearly is enamored with him, so it really seems to only be a matter of time now. Not everyone is thrilled with that prospect, but I’m not among them. He’s more than deserving at this point in his career.
9. Julianne Moore – A quartet of nods later, Moore is very high up on many lists of the actresses who desperately need an Oscar. I obviously don’t have her quite as high up on this list, but she’s clearly only one great role away from being on that stage accepting the statue. My guess is that it’ll be for a supporting performance, but time will ultimately tell there.
8. Christopher Nolan – Despite often snubbing Nolan in some key categories, the Academy has still cited him a trio of times, though without any sign of a win yet. They’ve notably kept him far away from the Best Director field, so when his first win comes, I suspect that it’ll be for a Screenplay category…that’s just a guess though. Perhaps Interstellar this year can do it for him?
7. Tom Cruise – There was a time when it was inconceivable to think that Cruise wouldn’t have [...]

Is Steve Carell on his way to becoming an Oscar favorite?

One of the 2014 Oscar contenders I’m most looking forward to is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which stars Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum. I’ll be getting more in depth into that one later on this year, but after the news this week that Carell has also added another project to his slate that screams “nominate me”, I’ve started to think about where his career could be headed. In short, could Carell be an Oscar nominee and/or a winner within the next year or two?
This new project that he’s involved in is called The Priority List and is a drama about a teacher dying of cancer attempting to go on the road and reconnect with his students while making the most of his last days. If there was ever a plot that seems tailor made for a Best Actor nomination, it’s this one. Of course, we don’t know who’s writing or directing or costarring yet, and that can make a big difference (I don’t even know if the book is any good, just that it’s a true life tale, and voters tend to dig on that), but it’s just the right sort of role for a comedic actor to tackle as they transition to a more dramatic stage of their career.
Carell has shown dramatic skill before, though usually in more dramedy style roles such as the supporting turn of his in Little Miss Sunshine. Even over the last few years, a lot of his choices have been more in the quietly funny or even more dramatic than humorous realm, almost as if he’s been prepping for this transition deliberately. Foxcatcher will be by far his darkest and most serious role to date, and that should set him up nicely for this upcoming drama The Priority List.

This year will have Carell almost certainly in contention with the aforementioned Foxcatcher, though we don’t know yet if it’ll be a Lead or Supporting performance. Regardless, The Priority List is a clear Lead and showcase piece, so imagine if, two years from now, we’re talking about how Carell won Best Supporting Actor and then the very next year won Best Actor? It’s not as laughable (no pun intended) a prospect as you might think. Matthew McConaughey after all is now being looked at as a perpetual threat to get nominated, and consider what Jim Carrey’s Oscar career could have been like if he’d been [...]

Oscars®: Which acting winner is most likely to win again, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey?

When the most recent Academy Awards were given out a few weeks ago (it both feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago already), we crowned first time winners in first time nominees Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), and Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave), while former winner and multiple nominee Cate Blanchett took home her second Oscar (Best Actress for Blue Jasmine). The fact that the majority of the group had never even been nominated before got me thinking…which of them is most likely to be like Blanchett and win again?
First of all, it’s possible that Blanchett could be next in line to win, giving her three Oscar victories, just like Meryl Streep. She always does phenomenal work and the Academy never hesitates to nominate her, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if she wound up winning again. Next up for her is a film with Todd Haynes, and that could be pretty baity on its own. You never want to predict a third Academy Award for anyone, considering how rare that is, but if anyone out there can get there, it’s probably Blanchett. Especially if she ever works with Woody Allen again like she did here with Blue Jasmine…watch out.
Next in line, you have to think that McConaughey is just getting started. He came close-ish last year to a nomination for Magic Mike and this year he also had Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street in contention, so there’s no shortage of his roles under consideration. With upcoming projects uniting him with Christopher Nolan and Gus Van Sant, it’s a stretch to think that another nomination at least isn’t in his future, if not a win. We’re in the middle of the so called McConaissance, so I think he’s going to become an Academy favorite for some time.
As for Leto, it really depends on if he focuses on music or movies going forward. He’s equally talented at both, so if he makes himself available for films, I could certainly see voters citing him again. He’s proven himself previously with work like Requiem for a Dream, so Dallas Buyers Club was basically just a reminder of his skills. As long as he continues to consistently act, I can see him being on the Oscar radar. We’ll see though.
Lastly, in the case of [...]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred [...]

12 Years a Slave wins five Independent Spirit Awards

Could the Independent Spirit Awards results from earlier today be foreshadowing what happens with the Academy Awards tomorrow night? Personally, I don’t think so, but the potential is there at least, especially after 12 Years a Slave pretty much dominated the show, taking five awards, including Best Feature, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Screenplay for John Ridley. The other award it won was Best Cinematography, but it’s not nominated for that Oscar, so there won’t be a chance of a perfect correlation here between the two voting bodies.
Among other major categories, Matthew McConaughey won Best Male Lead and Jared Leto won Best Supporting Male for their work in Dallas Buyers Club, while Cate Blanchett took home Best Female Lead for Blue Jasmine. We also had 20 Feet from Stardom winning Best Documentary, Blue is the Warmest Color winning Best International Film, and as previously announced Mud taking the Robert Altman Award.
While there’s no chance of Academy members being influenced here, considering that voting ended earlier this week, 12 Years a Slave finally got the chance to run roughshod over a televised awards show, and that’s something at least. Without competition from American Hustle and Gravity, you can’t be totally sure what this means, but it’s a nice citation for the movie, regardless.
You can see the full Spirit Award winners list below:
BEST FEATURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
BEST SCREENPLAY: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DOCUMENTARY: 20 Feet From Stardom
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: 12 Years a Slave
BEST EDITING: Short Term 12
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color
BEST FIRST FEATURE: Fruitvale Station
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Bob Nelson for Nebraska
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mud
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: This is Martin Bonner
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD: Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston

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