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Posts Tagged ‘American Beauty’

Monday September 16th, 2013

Cate Blanchett and the Unusual Jump from Supporting to Lead

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor
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If there’s one Oscar category where it’s safe to say there’s already a clear frontrunner at this point, it’s best actress. That race is currently looking mostly like a battle for second place, with Cate Blanchett sitting way out front for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Should she end up holding on, it would make her a two-time Oscar winner. (She won nine years ago for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.) This, however, would be her first best actress prize.

39 men and women have been honored with more than one acting Oscar. Of them, only 11 have won in both acting categories in which they were eligible — in other words, best actor and best supporting actor for men and best actress and best supporting actress for women. Blanchett would become only be the sixth man or woman to ever win first in a supporting category and then win again later in a leading category.

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Wednesday January 30th, 2013

Do Films From Adapted Screenplays Fare Better In Best Picture Than Their Original Counterparts?

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor

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Most years, one can find almost all of the Best Picture hopefuls contained in both the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay categories. With 10 slots overall, at least half of the nominees are always present, if not more. The two categories are not looked at equally, though, as the Adapted contenders are consistently considered the better Oscar bet than their Original counterparts.

That’s certainly the perception, but is it actually the Academy Awards reality? Do adapted screenplays really have an easier road to Oscar glory than Original ones? In order to try and answer this question in a way that has modern applications, I’m going to focus on solely the past 25 years. That way, we can keep it relevant and not have too unwieldy of a sample size.

When I went back and took a look at the last quarter-decade, I came up with some results that I think you’ll all find rather interesting. While neither black nor white, the statistics show a shade of grey that fits in with most other supposed “rules” of how Academy members vote.

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Friday January 18th, 2013

The Top 10 Directorial Debuts Of All Time

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor

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For a filmmaker, it’s rare to make a real impact with your debut feature. Most of the time, you begin your career with a calling-card movie or a work that doesn’t fully express your true talent. There are, however, certain instances when a director is able to wow audiences and leave his or her mark on the film world right from the get-go.

This year, we’ve seen Benh Zeitlin make his debut with a film that many absolutely love in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Zeitlin’s freshman feature has been mentioned as one of the top debuts by a filmmaker in some time, so that got me thinking: What are the 10 best of all time?

Of course, there’s some level of subjectivity to this kind of a list. If I were strictly going off of my personal favorite debuts, people such as Judd Apatow, Darren Aronofsky, Mel Brooks and Kevin Smith would be high up on my own Top 10. For the purposes of this list, though, I’m putting as much of my individual preference aside as possible. Below you’ll find 10 of the great directorial debuts of all time.

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Wednesday January 2nd, 2013

Can ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Overcome The Oscars’ Comedy Stigma And Win Best Picture?

By Joey Magidson
Film Contributor

***

Audiences and critics around the globe love a good comedy. Comedies make you feel good inside and provide you with some temporary happiness and respite from the troubles of the world at large. They’re some of the hardest movies to make, and they’re appreciated by almost everyone.

The lone holdouts? The voters of the Academy Awards.

Since 1977, when the Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall won Best Picture, exactly zero full-on comedies have won the Oscar. Yes, Allen’s film had dramedy elements to it, but it was far more of a comedy than last year’s winner, The Artist, which would probably be the closest thing we’ve had since then to a comedic winner. Others in that sort of hybrid realm include American Beauty, Driving Miss Daisy, Forrest Gump, Shakespeare in Love and Terms of Endearment.

This year we have an unusually strong comedy contender in the David O. Russell film Silver Linings Playbook. Generally regarded as one of the five Best Picture hopefuls that can actually win the prize, it faces an uphill battle due to its humor, much as Les Miserables does with its low Rotten Tomatoes score (as I recently discussed here) and Argo does with its comparatively early release date.

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Wednesday February 22nd, 2012

Wes Bentley, Fresh Career Momentum, Happiness — Stark Contrast to Whitney Houston Story

By Beck/Smith

With a string of high-profile movies on the way — including Summit Entertainment’s “Gone” thriller that opens Friday (2/24) — Wes Bentley has built up a wave of fresh career momentum.  He has a wife and a one-year-old son he adores at home.  He looks great.  Life is good.   It’s hard to believe that between 2002 and 2009, the actor who rocketed to fame with the 1999 “American Beauty” hit the depths of addiction — alcohol, cocaine, heroin.

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Monday January 30th, 2012

SAG Awards Confirm Tremendous Support for ‘The Help’ — and ‘The Artist’ (Analysis)

On Sunday evening, the Screen Actors Guild disclosed the recipients of its 18th annual SAG Awards, and in so doing revealed a lot about the likely outcome of several close Oscar races, as well.

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Friday December 2nd, 2011

Charlize Theron on Playing a ‘Bitch’ in ‘Young Adult’ (VIDEO)

This past Monday, I spent a large chunk of the day and night in the company of Charlize Theron, the strikingly beautiful South African who won the best actress Oscar eight years ago and is now in the running for it again for her work in Jason Reitman’s Young Adult, which opens nationwide Dec. 9.

I first met Theron, 36, at a Paramount-hosted luncheon for the film; hours later, we were seated together — with her Young Adult co-star Patton Oswalt between us — at the Gotham Awards, where she received a special career tribute; and, in between, we recorded the interview that appears at the top of this post. From these interactions, three things became pretty clear to me about Theron: First, she is every bit as attractive as she appears on the screen (she wore two eye-catchingly low-cut outfits); second, she is much cheekier than advertised (she has a bawdy sense of humor and is also not above whacking a journalist for taking notes instead of looking at the stage during an awards show); and, third, she is as proud of Young Adult as she has been of any film of which she’s been a part since she won her Oscar in 2004.

As we discuss in the above video…

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Saturday January 8th, 2011

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 1/8/11

  • Company Town: Ben Fritz writes that “the Hollywood awards screener is finally catching up with the digital age,” as Fox Searchlight becomes the first studio to make some of its films available to awards voters as free downloads off of Apple’s iTunes. (The nearly 100,000 voting members of the Screen Actors Guild will be provided with a special code that will enable them to access “127 Hours,” “Black Swan,” and “Conviction” as often as they’d like through the end of SAG voting.) The move, Fritz notes, “could mark the first step in an industry-wide shift toward making digital copies of movies available to voters for all awards, eventually ending the costly, time-honored practice of producing and sending physical copies of their DVDs.” According to the piece, Fox co-chairman Jim Gianopulos “said his studio is also in talks with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose members vote for the Oscars, and with the British Film Academy, about making iTunes downloads available to their voters as well.”
  • Inside TV: Christian Blauvelt reports that “the dream James Lipton has pursued for 17 years has finally come true,” as actor Jim Carrey recently consented to be interviewed by Lipton for “Inside the Actor’s Studio” after holding out for many years because — believe it or not — he’s actually “extremely shy,” at least according to Lipton. The episode will air on Monday night at 8pm EST on Bravo. (Carrey, who is promoting the raucous new comedy “I Love You Phillip Morris,” in which he plays a gay con-artist, will also be hosting “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. According to PopWatch writer Margaret Lyons, “This is Carrey’s second time hosting. The first was way back in 1996 — back when Norm MacDonald was doing Bob Dole and Carrey was promoting ‘The Cable Guy.'”)
  • The Race: Tim Appelo notes that the up-and-coming actor Andrew Garfield “makes a point of never seeing the movies he stars in” — he fears that doing so will make him more self-conscious in front of the camera — “but at Thursday’s Spago [DVD release] party for ‘The Social Network’… Garfield said that even Spider-Man [the iconic role that he is inheriting from Tobey Maguire] is not strong enough to resist peer pressure from the makers of ‘The Social Network.'” “They made me watch that one,” he confessed to Appelo.
  • AMPAS: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shares the news that “10 scientific and technical achievements represented by 22 individual award recipients will be honored at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation” on February 12, noting that “unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during 2010.  Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.” This year’s honorees are being recognized for a wide variety of accomplishments — among them, the “development of influential facial motion retargeting solutions,” “the development of the Cablecam 3-D volumetric suspended cable camera technologies,” and “the software design and continued development of cineSync, a tool for remote collaboration and review of visual effects.”

Photo: Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech.” Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Saturday December 25th, 2010

INTERVIEW: KEVIN SPACEY ON HITTING JACKPOT, ABANDONING WINNINGS

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend about 20 minutes at the Loews Regency Hotel in New York with one of my favorite actors, Kevin Spacey, who had just flown in from London to do a few interviews about and attend a special screening of the new film “Casino Jack” (ATO Pictures, 12/17, R, trailer), a dramedy directed by the late George Hickenlooper in which he portrays the disgraced Washington, D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and for which he recently received a Golden Globe nod — the sixth of his career — for best actor (musical or comedy). Spacey was clearly exhausted and under the weather after his travels (he sipped on a bowl of matzo ball soup throughout our time together), but he still managed to give me a wonderful interview about his remarkable life and career, and for that I am very grateful.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AUDIO OF OUR CONVERSATION!

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Thursday December 2nd, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 12/2/10

  • The Envelope: Reed Johnson nabs a rare interview with best actress hopeful Annette Bening, one of the two female leads in “The Kids Are All Right,” as well as Lisa Cholodenko, the film’s co-screenwriter/director. Cholodenko says that when it came to casting the part of Nic — “who in many ways is the film’s dramatic fulcrum, just as she is her family’s emotional anchor — mostly for the better, though not without the usual quotient of occasional slammed doors and raised voices” — she thought of only Bening. Fortunately, it turned out that a mutual-admiration existed between the two — Cholodenko thought of Bening because of one particularly special scene of hers from “American Beauty” (1999), and Bening always remembered enjoying Cholodenko’s earlier film “Laurel Canyon” (2002).
  • 24 Frames: Steven Zeitchik scans the newly-released slate of films that will play at January’s Sundance Film Festival, and points out some potential “critical darlings” for which we should probably keep an eye out. Among them are “Higher Ground,” the Oscar nominated actress Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut, and “Pariah,” a Bronx-set film that many are likening to last year’s Sundance breakout-hit “Precious.”
  • The Film Stage: Jordan Raup passes along a letter from “Adaptation” (2002) director Spike Jonze to online film critic Peter Sciretta in which he emphasizes how much he loves David O. Russell’s “The Fighter.” Jonze wrote, “Hey Peter — Spike here. I’m writing on behalf of my friend David Russell, regarding his new movie The Fighter. Did you get a chance to see it yet? How insanely great is Christian Bale? Can you do me a favor and post this 2 minute trailer called ‘Pressure’ on your site? The trailer that they put out originally makes the film feel a little generic and I just want to help David get the word out. I got to see it a few weeks ago, and I loved it, and if all you saw is the trailer that’s out, you might not know that it’s as interesting and strong as it is. Thanks for your help! Spike”
  • The Contenders: Brad Brevet has, through a variety of means, gathered the scripts of 23 of this year’s top awards contenders and posted them on his site for anyone who would like to read them. His most recent acquisitions? “I Love You Phillip Morris” and “Winter’s Bone.”

Photo: Mia Waskinowska, Lisa Cholodenko, and Julianne Moore on the set of “The Kids Are All Right.” Credit: Columbia University.