Being an Oscar prognosticator for over a half decade now, I’ve developed some odd habits. One of the things that I do that I know makes people question my sanity is posting my Oscar predictions for the another season as soon as the previous one has ended. I like getting a jump on things and actually started organizing contenders for the 2014 show a few months ago, but unless you’re as hardcore a film junkie as me, that’s crazy-talk.
The Christmas Day void left by Baz Luhrmann’s dearly departed The Great Gatsby didn’t stay empty for long. Universal, today, opted to move the release date of Tom Hooper’s highly anticipated Les Miserables back from Dec. 14 to Dec. 25, positioning the musical for an Oscar battle with a handful of other contenders.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present “Out of Character,” a new exhibition featuring portraits of this year’s acting nominees by photographer Douglas Kirkland. The exclusive new photos of 2011′s Oscar-nominated performers will be on display starting Saturday, February 11, in the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery in Beverly Hills.
Now, that the Oscar nominations have been set, the parties officially are being planned. A mainstay of the awards season for the past 20 years has been Elton John’s Academy Awards Viewing Party, and details for the soiree have been revealed.
Nicole Kidman is a 43-year-old wife and mother of four who also happens to be one of the biggest movie stars in the world and one of the most respected actresses of her generation. Therefore, as you can imagine, it was a great privilege and thrill for me to be granted a half-hour one-on-one interview with her last Saturday — the day between the Critics Choice and the Golden Globe awards, both of which she attended as a best actress nominee for her performance as a mother grieving over the death of her child in the critically-acclaimed low-budget indie “Rabbit Hole” (Lionsgate, 12/17, PG-13, trailer) — and pick her brain about a wide-range of topics. We met on the second floor of Siren Studios, a sparsely decorated building used by professional photographers for photoshoots like the one that Kidman was to be a subject of following our conversation. The corner where we sat down was bordered by bright white walls, featured formal-looking chairs and coffee tables, and was within earshot of the vehicles speeding by on Sunset Boulevard just below us. A few minutes into our conversation, Kidman looked around and — upon considering the setting and the nature of my questions — laughingly stated the obvious: “This feels like a therapy session!”
Deadline New York: Nikki Finke and Mike Fleming confirm the tragic news that veteran Oscar publicist Ronni Chasen, 64, was shot and killed a little after midnight on Tuesday morning while driving home from a premiere of “Burlesque.” Chasen “was incredibly well-liked by Hollywood and the media and her enthusiasm for her clients was infectious, even to the most cynical of journalists,” they write. Countless condolences and tributes were posted throughout the day, and will undoubtedly continue to pour in over the days and weeks to come.
Deal Central: Jeff Sneider notes that a “one-word tweak” — namely, editing one use of the f-word so that it “will now be half-uttered” — has swayed the MPAA to change its rating for James L. Brooks’s rom com “How Do You Know” from an R to a PG-13. The folks behind the film are pleased with the news, which they believe will help it to reach a considerably larger audience. “How Do You Know,” which stars Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson, will open in theaters on Dec. 17.
Newsweek: David Ansen profiles David Seidler, the screenwriter of “The King’s Speech.” Ansen writes that, at 73, Seidler “finds himself, for the first time in his career, a hot property.” Seidler, for his part, tells the writer, “I’m very happy now, in retrospect, that this kind of success didn’t happen to me early on. It can really bend your head. I would have become very pompous.” Instead, he’s simply very grateful. “I was overwhlemed,” he says of the night last September when the film received a standing ovation following it’s first public screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, moving him to tears “because for the first time ever, the penny dropped and I felt I had a voice and had been heard. For a [former] stutterer, it’s a profound moment.”
The Marquee Blog: Mark Marino passes on the news that acclaimed director Baz Luhrmann has made up his mind about which young actress will play the part of Daisy Buchanan in his upcoming adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Luhrmann broke the news in a statement: “I was privileged to explore the character with some of the world’s most talented actresses, each one bringing their own particular interpretation, all of which were legitimate and exciting. However, specific to this particular production of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ I was thrilled to pick up the phone an hour ago to the young Oscar-nominated British actress Carey Mulligan and say to her: ‘Hello, Daisy.’”
The Playlist: Kevin Jagernauth posts the first trailer released for the superhero-action flick “Green Lantern,” which is due out next summer. Jagernauth believes that the Ryan Reynolds vehicle appears to have its “share of problems,” not least of all that “it still looks like something made on a high TV budget or a low tentpole budget.” He adds, with obvious exasperation, “It’s getting simply tedious to watch yet another comic book origin story with all the familiar beats in place.”
Photo: Owen Wilson and Reese Witherspoon in “How Do You Know.” Credit: Columbia.