If there was any doubt that this year’s Oscars will have a dance-y quality with Ellen DeGeneres on the stage, it was quelled Thursday afternoon.
The Motion Picture Academy has released a trailer for the March 2 ceremony on ABC, and it gets its “Singin' In the Rain On.” The spot features the Oscar host walking down city streets/studio backlot lipsynching to the Fitz and the Tantrum song “The Walker,” particularly its maverick-ish lyrics “(I walk to the sound of my own drum”).
“The Heat” director Paul Feig helmed the ad, which is scheduled to run in theaters in the coming weeks and can also be viewed on the Oscars’ YouTube channel. About 250 tuxedo-clad move-busting, hands-in-the-airing dancers also join DeGeneres on her walkabout. There’s a modicum of break-dancing too.
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As he demonstrated in his Oscar-winning "A Separation," Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi has a passion for drama and a gift for the realistic depiction of intense emotional situations, a talent he takes full advantage of in his new film, "The Past."
Because it is set in France, not Iran, "The Past" does not have the religious/political overlay that made "A Separation" so remarkable that it won the best foreign language Oscar and more than 70 international awards. But it's quite potent on its own terms.
The story of an Iranian man whose return to France to give his wife the divorce she wants has devastating consequences, "The Past" is part family melodrama, part intricate interpersonal puzzle in which the surer people are that they know the truth, the more likely it is that they are mistaken. In fact, "The Past" is so rife with half-truths, evasions, suspicions, assumptions, accusations and misunderstandings that it could have been called "Secrets & Lies" if director Mike Leigh...
Give the High Council of New Clips at “Divergent” studio Summit a thumbs-up for one thing: They didn’t go with a big action sequence for the Shailene Woodley film, the next young adult love story that the studio is trying to "Twilight"-ize, in their new teaser.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t make sure the audience got exactly what it wanted in the clip: Young heartthrob taking his shirt off? Check. Lots of close-up of tortured heroes, and a kiss to boot? Def. Pseudo-profundity that everyone in the target demo will relate to? I don’t want to be just one thing either!
You can check out the new clip above. (A clip released last summer did expound on the mythology a bit more, the Dauntless and Erudite and all that.) Almost as interesting as how Neil Burger handles the Veronica Roth bestseller, though, is the movie’s marketing story: Can Summit do what it did with “Twilight” or what corporate sib...
There are few things Australian actor Geoffrey Rush hasn't accomplished on stage and screen, as evinced by his possession of an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy (a feat known as the triple crown of acting).
While visiting the Envelope Screening Series to talk about his latest film, an adaptation of Markus Zusak's World War II drama "The Book Thief," Rush dished about what kinds of roles he'd be interested in taking on next.
"I don't have a wish list for a film," Rush said. "You know, television is becoming such a strong new world, particularly in the American idiom. It's like the bigger the [Hollywood] blockbusters and the tent poles get, the more dramatic and the more interesting and the more edgy the TV series become, and people go, 'Let's really do what Hollywood used to do.' "
Rush added, "I'm getting older now and the choices are a little more limited. In theater, I'm thinking about Lear. When the time is right and when...
Does the world need another World War II film? That's one of the questions actor Geoffrey Rush confronted in making "The Book Thief," the new drama based on Markus Zusak's novel about a young girl who develops a passion for reading while coming of age in Nazi Germany.
At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series, Rush talked about how the screenplay affected him and why stories about the war and the Holocaust still need to be told.
"The screenplay just deeply impressed me because the role I was reading for reminded me very much of my stepfather, who was a shearer," Rush said. "He was a very leftist political animal, in the shearing sheds and the unions. … When I was 20, he told me about when he was 20 and he was fighting in Borneo. … At that time when I was 20, hearing these stories, I was eligible for the draft to go to Vietnam, and I had really fascinating adult talks with my stepdad about the nature of war. So I was responding to all that sort of stuff when...
The new 3-D nature tale "Walking With Dinosaurs" is nothing like its predecessors.
I don't mean the creatures of the Jurassic Period, which came before the Cretaceous Period that is the movie's staging ground.
Not the "Jurassic Park" period either, when that great paleontologist Steven Spielberg introduced rampaging dinosaurs to a new generation.
No, I'm referring to the late 20th century when "Walking With Dinosaurs" roamed the BBC's airwaves as an excellent TV natural history series narrated by Kenneth Branagh. But in making the move from small screen to big, the apple fell too far from the tree — or not far enough.
"Walking With Dinosaurs" the movie is a hyper-realistic-looking, character-driven story of survival with talking dinosaurs that can't decide whether to inform or entertain. The film and its featured creatures do a little of both but modestly.
Unfortunately the "after-school special" sensibility, which never affected...
As a film critic, I spend many hours thinking and writing about performances each year. Yet when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced that it would not consider Scarlett Johansson's work in "Her" for a Golden Globes award, it stopped me.
Their reasoning: She did not have a physical presence on screen. That we can agree on. But she did have a very real presence nonetheless. "Her" would not be the same film without her. The decision has an arbitrary, old-fashioned feel to it in this new techno-centric age.
It seems particularly ironic given the topic writer-director Spike Jonze is toying with in the film. His cut at our evolving relationship with technology and his observations on "artificial" intelligence is as acerbic as it is astute.
As an operating system that dubs herself Samantha, the character is not only mere sound but the very spine of Jonze's story. I was hooked as quickly as Joaquin Phoenix's Theodore was, getting to know a...
It's been many years since I interviewed the late producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier, then the president of Unifrance, the key promoter of French films overseas, but I always remember a comment he made. Toscan, as everyone called him, was talking about the fate of his country's films in the world marketplace as well as in the U.S., but what he said could be applied to foreign-language cinema in general.
"If you are on a street full of hamburger shops, you finally want to eat something else. If you hear there is an old lady who prepares cassoulet in a small apartment on the second floor, you will go there, you will seek her out. In a film world where there is too much noise, French cinema is cassoulet on the second floor."
If 2013 was a year when the hamburger shops, i.e. the Hollywood studios, made better meals than usual, there was still a yearning on the part of moviegoers to taste foreign-language films, to experience other cultures, other worlds, in the way only movies can offer.
"Lee Daniels’ The Butler” tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a White House butler who serves eight presidents and is caught up in the tumultuous civil rights movement. But, for Daniels, the heart of the story lies with the transcendent love between a father and son.
That, and a moment shared with his mother, attracted Daniels to the project. As a youth, Daniels teased his mother about her missing tooth. The reason behind it remained hidden until one year she told him that she lost it while she was protesting voter injustice.
“She said, ‘I got my tooth knocked out so that you could vote,” Daniels recalled at a screening of the film Tuesday at the Academy theater in Beverly Hills. "It was worse than any beating, whooping or screaming I ever had. My mother marched for me. This is the least I could do for her.”
Oscar winner Denzel Washington hosted the screening, which included appearances from cast...
In this time when news is disseminated ever more quickly, we asked our critics to list the best of culture in 2013 in tweet form:
SPRING BREAKERS loops between raging party & spaced-out bummer, fun & its consequences. Smart about being dumb, it's of & for our times.
If any film this year pointed to a future cinema, UPSTREAM COLOR was it. An innovative marvel from how it was made to how it was released.
COMPUTER CHESS comes on as a jokey goof, then slyly finds the spiritual in new machines. Not the revenge of the nerds, but their triumph.
FRANCES HA brings out best in Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig, collaborating on a warm, wise movie about the struggle of growing into yourself.
A bittersweet take on intimacy, technology & the loneliness of modern life, HER also feels like a near-perfect vision of near-future LA.
A prismatic death-bed reverie on what makes a life, POST TENEBRAS LUX tumbles from one haunting image to the next. Challenging &...
In this time when news is disseminated ever more quickly, we asked our critics to list the best of culture in 2013 in tweet form:
1. "Gravity:" A perfect marriage of art and technology, Alfonso Cuarón's film and Sandra Bullock's performance, out of this world in wondrous ways.
2. "American Hustle:" David O. Russell's raucous, riotous con game. Christian Bale's hustle and flow, Jennifer Lawrence's scene stealing. Wow, baby.
3. "12 Years a Slave": "The Butler," "Fruitvale Station:" Beautifully rendered portraits of our racial past. In looking back, the future may change.
4. "Her": Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams caught up in Spike Jonze's acerbic techno love triangle. Brilliant concept, great execution.
5. "Blue Is the Warmest Color": For using sex — explicitly — to get beyond sex and into purer extremes of love; and introducing Adele Exarchopoulos.
6. "Inside Llewyn Davis": In my book the Coen brothers do no...
First, I am limiting my 10-best list to English-language films. Foreign-language standouts will be treated separately, and documentaries will be similarly served at a later date.
Second, my 10-best list will have 11 films on it. Everyone will just have to live with that. One personal tradition I am hewing to is that, with the exception of the No. 1 film, I will rank my choices alphabetically rather than by preference. This year my top choice is the Tom Hanks-starring "Captain Phillips," directed by Paul Greengrass.
"Captain Phillips." Intricate cat-and-mouse doings on a pirate-captured freighter mixing action, character and social conscience.
"American Hustle." David O. Russell and familiar faces Adams, Bale, Cooper & Lawrence take a scam story...
As the respective creators of Mickey Mouse and Mary Poppins, two of the most cheerful, beloved characters around, it's odd to imagine studio head Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers quarreling. But that's precisely what happened when Disney tried to persuade Travers to allow her children's books to be made into a musical film.
Their creative dispute is dramatized in the new film "Saving Mr. Banks," starring Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers. Speaking at the Envelope Screening Series, Hanks and Thompson discussed their characters' fractious relationship.
Publicly, Travers didn't care for Disney's film. And, Thompson said, "Privately, she didn't like it as well. She didn't like it at all, ever."
Thompson added, "I think she appreciated the fact that she had enough money [from selling the rights] to keep her house. You have to remember that this is a woman who didn't have any protection: had no family, had no...
Do the clothes really help find the character? Is it a good idea to watch your own acting? And are movies sacrificing entertainment to be morally correct?
The performers participating in The Envelope's Actors Round Table wrestled with those and other questions — when they were not laughing about less serious subjects — during a wide-ranging conversation that ultimately focused on their memorable performances.
The panel was as varied in experience as the films were different. In addition to "42's" Harrison Ford, our ensemble included Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave"), Emma Thompson ("Saving Mr. Banks"), Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Forest Whitaker ("Lee Daniels' The Butler") and Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave").
Here are edited and condensed excerpts from the conversation about how actors choose roles, what they need from a director and how clothes really can make the man (or woman):
When you are making a movie, do...
The Internet was intrigued/tickled/bemused/generally in a state of Nolan-esque arousal this week after the debut of the first “Interstellar” teaser. In it, we experienced the sound of Matthew McConaughey’s voice pondering the human condition, saw archival footage of space exploration and spotted a desolate farm house, all fueling various rumors, including one that the movie was about a crop shortage as much as space wormholes. (That sentence made more sense when we began writing it.)
While the plot line remains a closely guarded secret, several weeks before, the film’s star offered a little teaser of his own about director Christopher Nolan’s approach to making it.
“He sure as [heck] knows what he wants,” McConaughey told The Times. “There’s scope, major scope, which means a lot of things have to be coordinated. But at the same time, when you’re shooting it moves incredibly quickly.”
NEW YORK — The twisty, suspenseful "Prisoners" is full of thrills, but none more enduring than the way stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal ignite against one another. This particular feat of casting leaves audiences wondering why it hasn't happened before, and perhaps sorry that their shared screen time is so brief in the film that sees Jackman as a frantic father looking to find his missing daughter, and Gyllenhaal as the police detective on the case. The Envelope talked with both men over tea in New York about their particular chemistry, the moral ambiguities of the script, working with director Denis Villenueve and costars Viola Davis and Terrence Howard — and their own personal injuries.
Everybody's wounded at this table — Hugh, you had a basal cell carcinoma removed from your nose in November and tweeted about it; Jake, that's a pretty ugly gash on your hand. Everybody recovering?
Jackman:No one has ever died of a basal cell carcinoma, but it was bigger than...
"I'm tired of being funny," sighs West L.A. single mom Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said," as she lies next to the man she's just had sex with, the will-we-or-won't-we pressure of their early dates finally ebbing. "Me too," he sighs back.
What about Louis-Dreyfus?
"Oh, yeah," she says in her Baltimore hotel after a day on the set of her HBO political comedy "Veep," blowing air between pursed lips to add an unspoken, "Are you kidding?"
"I relate to [that moment] as myself, as you can imagine," she says, "because people expect a certain thing from me. But I relate to her from her as well. She was finding herself at the beginning of a relationship with a man and could let it out. She didn't have to suck it in or be something she wasn't. She was exhausted with that, and she found this man it was OK to be that way with."
Louis-Dreyfus, who won her second consecutive Emmy for playing "Veep's" foul-mouthed second-in-command Selina Meyer...
June Squibb, 84; Judi Dench, 79; Meryl Streep, 64; Oprah Winfrey, 59; Emma Thompson, 54; Sandra Bullock, 49; Julia Roberts, 46; Cate Blanchett, 44; Lupita Nyong'o, 30; Jennifer Lawrence, 23.
These 10 actresses received either a leading or supporting nomination from the Screen Actors Guild last week for their fine work in 2013. Eight of them got a similar nod from the Golden Globes. Most will likely surface again when the Oscar nominations are announced in January.
The numbers are there for a reason. To put it bluntly: This year, age matters. Eighty percent of the actresses deemed by their peers to be the best of the rest are older than 40. Average the numbers and you get a mean age (I use the term in both the mathematical and the cultural sense) of 53.
It is a significant turn of events with implications for the future. And an indictment of the past.
Since the dawn of time, or at least since the beginning of movies in the late 1800s,...
Taking Markus Zusak's novel to the big screen, "The Book Thief" shows audiences World War II in Germany through the eyes of 10-year-old Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), with Death personified as the narrator. It's an approach that suggests immediate contrasts and challenges, namely balancing the feel of the book with the facts of the matter. Speaking in Beverly Hills, 62-year-old Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, who plays Liesel's adoptive father, Hans, explained how he made sure that director Brian Percival had a plan to manage mixing humanity and history, tragedy and theater.
"I knew Brian was a guy who'd directed 'Downton Abbey' and cinematographer Florian Ballhaus had shot 'The Devil Wears Prada,' " Rush said. "I was trying to wrap my head around those influences. But what appealed to me about the character was the challenge of playing someone so seemingly ordinary — a house painter, a working-class guy. I thought, 'Hang on, I'm doing this as a self-challenge. Obviously all of these...
Based on a 19th century autobiography, "12 Years a Slave" is the true story of a free black man, Solomon Northup, abducted and sold into slavery in the emotionally vicious yet visually beautiful world of the antebellum South. Director Steve McQueen wanted the film to be "very real," says longtime costume designer Patricia Norris, and yet little documentation of slave clothing exists. With her five decades of experience, Norris created the look for Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Patsey (newcomer Lupita Nyong'o) and other slaves along with their more sartorially splendid plantation owners and the free men and women of the North — black and white alike.
I doubt there was much pictorial reference on the slave period portrayed in the film?
There were etchings but it was almost like a deep, dark secret. And the etchings in general were of happy, plumped-up slaves, underneath a tree, eating their lunch. I figured those were done by white guys from New York. I actually got more from...
LONDON — The first time Judi Dench witnessed the power of acting, she was 7 and saw her brother get away with using a swear word.
Dench was accompanying her parents to a boarding school performance of "Macbeth," with her oldest sibling in the role of King Duncan. "He came on stage and said, 'What bloody man is that?'" Dench said, with a gasp. "I thought, 'What did he say?'"
Now 79, Dench has performed nearly every play of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen, as well as the role of M in seven James Bond films; Queen Elizabeth in "Shakespeare in Love," for which she won her Oscar in 1998; and Queen Victoria in "Mrs. Brown," for which she collected one of her five other Oscar nominations.
Dench's latest performance — for which she has so far received Screen Actor Guild and Golden Globe nominations — is as a more ordinary but just as dignified woman in the drama "Philomena," in which she plays a working-class Irish mother who enlists a jaded...
The next battleground for Hollywood's hotshot agents is the stadium, not the back lot.
Studios are making fewer films, and paydays for A-list actors and directors aren't as big as they used to be. And though there has been explosive growth in new television platforms, the business is dealing with diminishing ratings and digital upstarts. Big hits are few and far between.
But the fields are greener in sports, with athletes routinely commanding multimillion-dollar contracts and teams and leagues getting billions from networks to televise their events.
Talent agencies are now aggressively seeking a piece of that action, and that's the driving factor behind Wednesday's $2.3-billion purchase of IMG Worldwide by William Morris Endeavor and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.
"The movie and television business have become mature," said Marc Ganis, head of consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. "There is still tremendous opportunity and upside in sports."
NEW YORK — Bono took a look around the cluttered recording studio, filled with Coke bottles and laptops and vinyl records, and turned to a reporter.
'I'm not sure where we put the crack pipe," he deadpanned, pretending to riffle around a coffee table as he also poked at the band's workaholic image. "We usually leave it out for guests."
A moment later the U2 frontman had cranked up a track from the band's work-in-progress April album, an anthemic number about leaving one's hometown titled "Invisible." As the song played, he spiritedly played air guitar to it, also belting along with the track's vocals, so that, in effect, Bono was performing a duet with himself.
The 53-year-old rock star's self-mocking turn is enjoyably at odds with his self-serious public image, a sign of an icon who knows when not to be iconic. But similarly surprising is his approach to the music, a kind of boyish giddiness suggesting that, even after 12 studio albums and thousands of shows, that's really what...
In a season of outstanding performances wrapped up in awards possibilities, the little gems can too easily be overlooked. So once again, it is time to appreciate some of the actors whose gifts have shone bright in big films this year, even if only for a few moments of screen time.
Clemens Ray, "12 Years a Slave"
When Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), is kidnapped and thrown onto a boat heading South and into years of slavery, his fellow victim Clemens advises survival at all costs. In his scenes, Chalk had to embody that instinct. "Clemens is very much like, 'Let's be smart about how we go through this thing. Don't let them know you can read or write or you're going to end up dead.'"
But Clemens admits a hard truth when their murdered compatriot Robert (Michael Kenneth Williams) is dumped overboard, saying bitterly: "Better off. Better than us."
The scene gave the actor his own moment of crisis. "I just was not present. I...
The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were announced five minutes ago and the awards won't be announced for another month. But let's take a wild stab at predicting the winners anyway. Not that this group is that hard to read. SAG voters have established clear favorites over the years (Alec Baldwin has never lost for "30 Rock"), and, because of the size of the voting body, the prizes typically go to consensus candidates. Here's an early take on the awards.
CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
The nominees: "12 Years a Slave," "American Hustle," "August: Osage County," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
And the winner is: "12 Years a Slave." SAG voters love volume here, giving the ensemble award to the movie with the biggest cast five years running. Though "12 Years" counts two fewer actors than "The Butler," we have a hard time believing that the Oscar front-runner will lose simply because of numbers.
Unless: With its big-name cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and...
"American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," two auteur-driven epics swinging for the fences, were the last films delivered to preview audiences this year. How will these late-arrivers score with the academy? Time again to consult the always reliable Oscar 8 Ball ...
You may rely on it: While critics prizes can't tell you anything about how the academy might vote, they do give Oscar voters a handy reference for what movies they should be watching. "Hustle" took the season's first significant prize, winning best picture from the New York Film Critics Circle, and it has been vacuuming up awards and nominations since then, including seven Golden Globes nominations and a Screen Actors Guild film ensemble nod. The drumbeat for this late arrival has been insistent, and academy members have been heeding it. David O. Russell's fizzy, late-disco-era con artist comedy hits a sweet spot between the serious history lesson contained in "12 Years a Slave" and the popcorn thrills...
Hanging out is the ethos and raison d'être of writer-director Laura Colella's micro-budget indie, "Breakfast With Curtis," a drama too relaxed to dwell on conflict. Neighborly strife comes to a head in the film's first scene, when Syd (Theo Green), a childfree crank, blows his top at his 9-year-old neighbor (Jonah Parker) for throwing a rock at a cat. Tension then dissipates from the movie, leaving just enough friction to perhaps produce a second of static cling.
That neighbor boy, Curtis, grows up to be a home-schooled 14-year-old with oversized glasses. He and his straight-laced suburban parents live unhappily next to Syd and his merry band of middle-aged bohemians. Bookseller Syd grumbles the most about Curtis and his parents, but he recruits the introspective teen to make a series of video blogs for his online storefront.
Beyond this general outline, plot and character development are afterthoughts, or maybe never-thoughts. Syd, whose volubility is an...
The immigrant smuggler at the center of "Coyote" is hardly a cartel-hardened pollero. Rather, Brian (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) is a white, middle-class Angeleno pushing 30 and still living at home. When he loses his job teaching a food-handling course for being too explicit in his descriptions about how bacteria spread, his metalhead Uncle Jimmy (Dennis W. Hall) gives him a gig in construction — as well as dubious life advice.
In his new dirty job, Brian's germaphobia is swiftly replaced by a new obsession with his Latino co-workers, who, peddling in stereotypes, include a benevolent gardener working for a better life for his sons and a gangster electrician with a stash of loot left over from the riots. Brian grows especially close to Manuel (Carlos Pratts), who just recently crossed the border illegally, leaving his mother and sister behind. Brian hatches an ill-advised plan to rescue his new friend's family from the coyote keeping them hostage.
For those considering a deep retreat from oppressive holiday cheer, there's Zach Clark's brittle indie confection "White Reindeer." Anna Margaret Hollyman stars as Suzanne, a chipper real estate agent and devoted wife to her weatherman husband. Suzanne is in good spirits with her beloved yuletide season in full swing, until her spouse's sudden murder — with nearly a month to go before Christmas — sends her into a grief-stricken limbo.
As Suzanne explores unearthed secrets about her husband, she seeks out and befriends a single-mom stripper (Laura Lemar-Goldsborough), overshops online, steals in-store, becomes sexually adventurous and partakes of controlled substances. (Plus, in a choice scene of only-within-families bad timing, she learns her parents are separating.)
Writer-director Clark's commitment to a deadpan vibe of crisp comic kink amid eccentric, left-turn sorrow can sometimes feel condescending. But within this not-so-jolly trip into the...
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" opened in mid-August, and, in the ensuing months, its namesake director has participated in countless Q&As and receptions both to promote the movie and to keep it alive in the Oscar conversation.
But Daniels had never been involved in an event quite like the one hosted last night by actor Denzel Washington at the Motion Picture Academy's Goldwyn Theater. Six members of the Freedom Riders, the civil rights activists who defied Jim Crow laws and rode interstate buses into the Deep South in the early '60s, attended the screening and shared their memories during a Q&A following the film. Daniels and cast members participated too, as did civil rights activist Rev. James Lawson.
"When you see these people, you see why I wanted to do this movie," Daniels told me afterward during a reception.
The evening typifies the creative way that Harvey Weinstein uses politics and hot-button issues to appeal to the kind of socially conscious academy members who'd be just as...
Two kinds of cinematic traditions can be celebrated in the coming weeks, starting with the annual Christmas Eve "Fiddler on the Roof" sing-along dreamed up by the Laemmle chain and now expanding to no less than six theaters. The Broadway musical, based on the classic Tevye stories by preeminent Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, was made into an Oscar-winning film (for Oswald Morris' cinematography and John Williams' score) in 1971 that boasts Isaac Stern playing violin on the soundtrack. The Laemmles provide lyric sheets for the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick songs, so you can sing along with the irrepressible Topol and the irreplaceable Molly Picon on classics such as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker," not to mention the always appropriate "If I Were a Rich Man." Screening at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 24 at the Royal, West Los Angeles; Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; Town Center 5, Encino; NoHo 7, North Hollywood; Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Claremont 5, Claremont.
With Focus Features restructuring and shifting its identity toward the mainstream, "Dallas Buyers Club" represents the last Oscar hurrah for the division's James Schamus-led era that gave us great movies such as "The Pianist," "Brokeback Mountain," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Lost in Translation" and "Moonrise Kingdom."
And Focus is clearly going out swinging. The studio just mailed DVD screeners of "Dallas" to the 105,000-plus voting members of SAG-AFTRA, making sure its movie will be the first to arrive in Screen Actors Guild Awards voters' mailboxes.
"Dallas," based on the life story of Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey), a hell-raising homophobe who began smuggling anti-viral medications into the country after he was diagnosed with HIV, won three SAG Awards nominations last week, individual nods for actors McConaughey and Jared Leto along with a coveted ensemble nomination.
The recognition for McConaughey and Leto wasn't...
The 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival is honoring three-time Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep with its Icon Award.
The actress, who won her Academy Awards for 1989's "Kramer Vs. Kramer," 1982's "Sophie's Choice" and 2011's "The Iron Lady," will receive the festival's honor at its awards gala Jan. 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Streep has already received lead actress nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Movie Awards for her performance as matriarch of a dysfunctional family in "August: Osage County," which opens Dec. 27.
"We're overjoyed to recognize Meryl Streep for yet another Oscar-worthy performance in 'August: Osage County," festival chairman Harold Matzner said in a statement.
In 2011, Michael Douglas was the first recipient of the Icon Award.
Streep joins previously announced Palm Springs honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen,...
John Lee Hancock's new film, "Saving Mr. Banks," about Walt Disney's efforts to persuade testy British author P.L. Travers to make her "Mary Poppins" novels into a screen musical, is one of an increasingly rare breed: a studio picture shot in Los Angeles.
Speaking at the Envelope Screening Series, Hancock and Tom Hanks, who plays Disney in the film, discussed the advantages of shooting locally, including on the Disney lot and at Disneyland.
"It was a real treat to shoot here," said Hancock, who lives in L.A. "I think it carries over to the crew: The crews are fantastic here. People sleeping in their own bed and then showing up to work the next day, there's something that builds a different kind of community than when you're on location, I felt."
He added, "When you talk about shooting at Disneyland or on the Disney lot, it's such an advantage and you pinch yourself over and over, because especially on the Disney lot, this is...
Laemmle's Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles is presenting a six-day retrospective of actor-director-producer Robert Redford's seminal film roles. All movies will be shown along with his latest film, the critically lauded "All Is Lost," for which Redford received New York Film Critics Award for best actor and earned Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominations.
Screening Thursday evening is 1969's "Downhill Racer," directed by Michael Ritchie, in which Redford plays a cocky downhill skier who joins the U.S. ski team in Europe. Gene Hackman also stars.
Scheduled for Friday is the classic 1969 "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," directed by George Roy Hill, which marked Redford's first on-screen pairing with Paul Newman. Katharine Ross also stars in this award-winning western about the legendary outlaws.
On tap for Saturday is 1973's "The Sting," also directed by Hill. The winner of seven Academy Awards, including best film, the caper comedy...
A beloved musical about a magical nanny, an epic about the first astronauts, a silent film with a Native American cast and a sci-fi thriller loosely based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" are among the 25 motion pictures to join the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington was expected to announce the selections Wednesday morning.
"The National Film Registry stands among the finest summations of more than a century of extraordinary cinema," he said in a statement. "This key component of American cultural history, however,...
Of all the questions that have swirled around the Shia LaBeouf-Dan Clowes controversy, the biggest has been: Could he really not have known that making an uncredited movie with similarities to an existing graphic novel was wrong?
This would be a legitimate question for anyone steeped for years in the creative process, where people argue over credit more than they do catering options.
It's especially true in the case of the “HowardCantour.com” filmmaker since a) LaBeouf’s whole movie is about media ethics, b) Shia actually played a journalist, spending time preparing for his reporter role in this year's "The Company You Keep" with an L.A. Times colleague and quizzing him on all manner of ethics and best practices -- and not copying the narration from another work is, like, kind of a big part of that.
On the set: movies and TV
Like the success of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull," LaBeouf's cluelessness will remain one of life's great mysteries. But it does...
There's something dispiritingly familiar about "Dancing on a Dry Salt Lake," writer-director-star Dominique De Fazio's tale of a white man's journey into Native American mysticism.
De Fazio plays Warner, a 40-something astronomer who heads out to the Californian desert after his live-in girlfriend dumps him for being too selfish. Warner crashes his car on the outskirts of San Bernardino County and ends up in a small community of European expats, among whom he develops a whole new personality (as a result of inconsistent writing, not as plot development).
Now a mensch par excellence, Warner locks horns with a domestic abuser and volunteers to perform manual labor. But those acts are merely penance in service of attaining his ultimate goal: to reach enlightenment by reading the stars for a message from God.
Compelling portraiture of religious transcendence remains a challenge for many filmmakers, De Fazio included. His depiction of Warner's small steps...
The historical drama "The Book Thief," based on Markus Zusak's novel about a young girl who develops a passion for reading against the backdrop of World War II, has been called out by some critics for being too safe and sanitized in its depiction of the horrors of Nazi Germany.
In a review for The Times, for example, Robert Abele wrote that the film puts "an odd emphasis on uplift over unease. And, most peculiarly, it's a tale narrated by Death … that wants tears shed for tragedies that befall its big-hearted non-Jewish German characters, but skirts explicitly addressing the fate of that generation's Jews."
Speaking at the Envelope Screening Series, actor Geoffrey Rush defended the film's point of view, which focuses on the courage of a few ordinary people rather than the enormity of the war and the Holocaust.
"I think there was a bravery and an ethical honesty in those people that did cross the line to say, 'I will actually put my life in peril for your life,'" Rush said. "And...
Spike Jonze has a knack for disturbing our peace, and his new film "Her" does that with a vengeance.
A different and daring futuristic tale starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, "Her" is a look at the pleasures and perils of new technology that's a smart entertainment and a subtle warning, a love story and a horror show. Acerbic, emotional, provocative, it's a risky high dive off the big board with a plot that sounds like a gimmick but ends up haunting, odd and a bit wonderful.
Previously responsible for the singular "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation" as well as the self-indulgent "Where the Wild Things Are," Jonze is a director who goes his own way with ideas no one else could have imagined.
With "Her," Jonze for the first time has sole writing credit. He not only came up with a killer idea, he's had the nerve to go all the way with it, to tease out multiple implications of his lightly dystopian "what if" plot all the way...
Every time I see Ron Burgundy, a.k.a. Will Ferrell, hawking Dodge Durangos on TV — which seems like a million times a day — what strikes me is how brilliant the "Anchorman" conceit is in small bits. The carefully manicured hair, the flashy suits, all just window dressing for that marvelously bloated ego, the absurd made irresistible in 60-second increments.
That, I'd suggest, should be the recommended dosage.
At nearly two hours, the nonsense of Ron and the news game, which Ferrell and co-writer and director Adam McKay skewered so effectively in 2004, is harder to sustain the second time around. "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," does continue the legend of the original "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."
But the reality that Ron Burgundy did indeed become a legend is part of the film's difficulty. Waiting nearly a decade before the sequel came allowed time for "Anchorman" to reach cult status — "stay classy" joined the lexicon...
The 29th Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced Tuesday that Robert Redford will receive the American Riviera Award at a tribute Feb. 7 at the Arlington Theatre.
The festival takes place Jan. 30 through Feb. 9.
Redford, 77, has starred in such classic films as 1969's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," 1973's "The Sting" and "The Way We Were" and won a best director Oscar for his debut feature as a filmmaker, 1980's "Ordinary People." Redford also changed the landscape of independent cinema, establishing Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival.
He's a Golden Globe nominee for "All Is Lost," playing a man stranded at sea in a damaged boat. He won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for his work and is also nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award and Critics' Choice Movie Award.
The American Riviera Award recognizes an actor who has had a "strong influence" on American cinema. Past recipients include Quentin Tarantino,...
I never had dinner at Sue Mengers' house, and though I had a nodding acquaintance with her completely charming husband, director Jean-Claude Tramont, I never even met the woman in question.
But after seeing John Logan's "I"ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers," a bracing play about the woman who in her prime was viewed as the most powerful talent agent in the world, I wish I had. And, judging from the reaction on opening night at the Geffen Playhouse, a lot of other people shared that wish.
The audience at the Geffen that evening was chockablock with studio executives, agents, producers and even the occasional film star — I narrowly avoided physically colliding with Bruce Willis in the crowded lobby, and James Caan, Dustin Hoffman, Helen Hunt and Marisa Tomei were reportedly also in attendance.
The response from this insider crowd was, in a word, rapturous. There was a huge roar when Bette Midler, who splendidly handles the difficult challenge of...
Almost as intriguing as the goings-on in Middle Earth has been the drama surrounding the “Hobbit" franchise itself. There was the fact that star director Guillermo del Toro walked off after a year of work. There’s been a long-running lawsuit.
And then, of course, that when it was finally almost ready last year, the production grew so expensive — er, epic — that director Peter Jackson and studio New Line saw fit to take what they had and slice it into three movies. That enabled more revenue and a longer life for the franchise, which will now span three holiday seasons through 2014.
The second of those movies, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," performed decently this past weekend. It garnered $73.6 million. That’s good enough, if not necessarily good. The receipts make “The Hobbit” the ninth-best opening of the year--fine for, say, a midbudget comedy but a little more wobbly for an effects-driven holiday sequel from one of the most popular...
The film academy has released its list of the 75 songs that will be competing for the 2014 original song Oscar. Taylor Swift, U2 and Coldplay are on it. So is "Let It Go," the pop power ballad from Disney's animated "Frozen" that every 12-year-old girl already knows by heart.
"The Great Gatsby" has five songs on the list. So does "Kamasutra 3D." "Austenland" has four, and there's ...
Wait. What? There are five songs nominated from "Kamasutra 3D," a movie that, judging from its trailer, looks like a glossy mashup of "Spartacus," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and a Zalman King compilation reel (not that there's anything wrong with that ... and, wow, the music must be great!), but that sweet song that Olaf the Snowman sings in "Frozen" about summer isn't on the list?
OK, then. Without further comment, we offer the complete list, only to add that the academy, for the first time, will be holding a concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall three days before the Oscars,...
In "Saving Mr. Banks," the new film about Walt Disney's efforts to persuade the cantankerous British author P.L. Travers to make her "Mary Poppins" novels into a movie musical, Tom Hanks steps into the shoes of the famous studio head.
At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series, however, Hanks whipped out his portrayal of a different Disney honcho: current chairman and CEO Robert Iger.
Hanks did so while recounting how he got the part of Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks."
"I had all these people telling me that I was going to get a call from Bob Iger," Hanks said. "And then one day the phone rang, and they said, 'Yes, Bob Iger for Tom Hanks.' And I said, 'Yes, speaking. Go ahead and put him on.' [And they said,] 'One moment, please.' " [Hanks then hummed Iger's hold music: "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah."]
After exchanging pleasantries, Hanks said, Iger's pitch went something like this, taking on a mile-a-minute monotone:
Over the years, Hollywood’s Black List has developed a reputation for showcasing the bold and the quirky: unproduced scripts that went on to become left-field hits like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Juno” -- or, like the drunk-Kermit script that topped the list a few years ago, are still waiting for someone to take a flier on them.
The annual list, founded and run by development-world veteran Franklin Leonard, did not disappoint when it was announced Monday. Andrew Sodroski’s “Holland, Michigan” — a thriller about infidelity from a former Harvard medieval history major who now lives in Kosovo — nabbed the top spot. It narrowly edged out Aaron Berg’s “Section 6,” a fact-based tale about the creation of England's MI6.
While some Black List scripts languish for years before nabbing financing, documentary maestro Errol Morris is attached to direct “Holland, Michigan,” with Naomi Watts on board to star and...
"Avatar" fans hungry for information about the long-gestating sequels to the 2009 science fiction blockbuster got another morsel this week, when director James Cameron said he will film the live-action portions of the three movies in New Zealand, with production scheduled to start there in early 2015.
Cameron said the intention is to shoot the three movies concurrently, releasing the first sequel in time for Christmas 2016 and the following sequels in late 2017 and late 2018.
The announcement, which Cameron made at a news conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday, came with a promise from "Avatar's" studio, 20th Century Fox, to spend at least $413 million in the island nation, in exchange for a 25% tax rebate there. In addition to the live-action shooting, much of the visual-effects work will be handled by New Zealand's Weta Digital.
As on the first "Avatar" movie, the performance-capture portions of the film, which represent a large chunk, will be shot on stages in California,...
Multiplex moviegoers weren't the only ones paying attention to "American Hustle's" recent awards-season onslaught.
Over the weekend, the film grossed $690,000 from just six theaters, and David O. Russell's freewheeling con artist dramedy also screened for academy members at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The 1,000-seat room wasn't entirely full, but eyeball estimates had about 750 people in attendance, more than any recent screening and a great number for this hectic, most wonderful time of year.
We've already covered the waterfront on "Hustle's" late-arriving momentum, and the rousing response at last night's academy screening further confirms the notion that it has emerged as the clear alternative to Steve McQueen's serious-minded historical drama "12 Years a Slave." It would be Russell's third best picture nomination in four years, a fact not lost on some academy members Sunday night.
"From people I talk to, there's this feeling that this guy is making movies for the...
To make "The Book Thief," the screen adaptation of Markus Zusak's novel about a young girl who develops a passion for books amid the chaos of World War II-era Germany, the filmmakers might have shot somewhere in Eastern Europe with generous tax credits and other financial incentives. In the end, they instead chose to shoot in Germany: in Berlin as well as the eastern city of Gorlitz and the surrounding countryside.
At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series, "Book Thief" actor Geoffrey Rush talked about what it meant to be filming in Germany.
"On a mercenary financial level, it's probably highly likely that Fox 2000 might have thought we could shoot in Romania, we could shoot in the Czech Republic, we could shoot in Hungary," Rush said. "But [director] Brian Percival felt pretty assured that this is a German story."
Rush said it was "fantastic" having access to the heritage of the famed Babelsberg...
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," David O. Russell's "American Hustle" and Alphonso Cuaron's "Gravity" dominated the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s 19th Critics' Choice Movie Award nominations on Monday morning. "Slave" and "Hustle," which also tied for the most Golden Globe nods last week, received 13 Critics' Choice nominations each, while "Gravity" received 10 nominations.
The following is a complete list of nominees:
"Dallas Buyers Club"
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
"Saving Mr. Banks"
"12 Years a Slave"
"The Wolf of Wall Street"
Christian Bale -- "American Hustle"
Bruce Dern -- "Nebraska"
Chiwetel Ejiofor -- "12 Years a Slave"
Tom Hanks -- "Captain Phillips"
Matthew McConaughey -- "Dallas Buyers Club"
Robert Redford -- "All Is Lost"
Cate Blanchett -- "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock -- "Gravity"
Judi Dench -- "Philomena"
Brie Larson -- "Short Term 12"
Meryl Streep -- "August: Osage County"
Emma Thompson -- "Saving Mr. Banks"
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" and David O. Russell's "American Hustle" dominated the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s 19th Critics' Choice Movie Award nominations on Monday morning.
Both films, which also tied for the most Golden Globe nods last week, received 13 Critics' Choice nominations each, including best film, director and for lead and supporting performances.
"Gravity" followed with 10 nominations, including best picture and lead actress for Sandra Bullock, who also was nominated for actress in an action movie, and director for Alfonso Cuaron.
Vying with these films in the best picture category are "Captain Phillips"; "Dallas Buyers Club"; "Her"; "Inside Llewyn Davis"; "Nebraska"; "Saving Mr. Banks"; and "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Best actor nominations went to Christian Bale for "American Hustle"; Bruce Dern for "Nebraska"; Chiwetel Ejiofor for "12 Years a Slave"; Tom Hanks for "Captain Phillips"; Matthew...
The death of Peter O'Toole at the age of 81 Sunday called to mind not only O'Toole's remarkable career but something less remarkable: his run of Oscar-nominated performances without actually ever winning one.
No other movie actor had such a Lucci-like turn. Eight times O'Toole's name was called on nomination day, over a span of 44 years. Yet sitting in the theater on moviedom's biggest night, he never once was called up for a little golden man. (He did take home an honorary prize in 2003.)
With that in mind--and with the knowledge that he often faced stiff competition, from John Wayne to Gregory Peck to Robert De Niro--we ask which instance was the greatest oversight. Was it his turn as the epic T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia" that most deserved an Oscar? His legendary-actor character in "My Favorite Year"? His career swan song as an aging performer with a complicated crush in "Venus?"
Maybe it was as a scheming Henry II in "Lion In Winter" that...
Stars had faces in the golden age of Hollywood. And for many years, photographer George Hurrell, the father of the Hollywood glamour portrait, captured their allure, glamour and indefinable charisma.
Known as the "Rembrandt of Hollywood," the groundbreaking photographer is the subject of "George Hurrell's Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992," a biographical coffee-table book by writer-photographer Mark A. Vieira, who knew Hurrell for more than 15 years.
Using interviews, archival documents and 20 years' worth of his own diaries, Vieira creates a portrait of a brilliant, complicated artist who had a great working relationship with the stars and a mercurial personality with studio chiefs. "He told Louis B. Mayer to go to hell," Vieira said.
An outcast after a 1943 scandal — "he broke the rule, he got involved with a model" — Hurrell was working as a unit still photographer to pay off his debts when Vieira met him in 1975. Down...
Tom Hanks is the recipient of the the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival's Chairman's Award for his work as the leader of a ship overrun by pirates in "Captain Phillips" and as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks."
The two-time Oscar winner will receive his award Jan. 4 at the film festival's awards gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
"Tom Hanks is one of the greatest actors of his generation," festival Chairman Harold Matzner said in a statement Monday. "In a remarkable feat that vividly illustrates the range of his talent, he portrayed two real life characters, each with a powerhouse performance in its own right. "
Past recipients of the Chairman's Award include Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman and Nicole Kidman.
The gala will include award presentations to honorees previously announced: Bruce Dern, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen, Thomas Newman, Lupita Nyong'o and the cast of...
Was there ever an actor who aged more gracefully, more beautifully than Peter O'Toole, who died Saturday at age 81?
I know the conventional wisdom is otherwise, insisting that, physically at least, O'Toole bore the ravages of a hard-lived life. I said as much myself writing about 2006's "Venus," noting that it was "wrenching" to see his character "sitting on his bed, rumpled and fragile and without the will to get up until he slaps himself hard and says, 'Come on, old man.'"
That performance earned O'Toole his eighth Oscar nomination, the most for any nonwinning actor. It was also confirmation of the self-confidence and continuing skill of a performer who had initially turned down an honorary Oscar three years earlier, insisting he was "still in the game."
Indeed, in "Venus," his last great role, O'Toole used his lifetime of talent, craft and simply living to turn the part of an aging actor who forms a connection with a young woman...
Joan Fontaine may have been overshadowed at times by her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, but the actress -- who died Sunday at age 96 -- appeared in several classic films during the Golden Age of Hollywood and is the only performer to win an Oscar in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
It's hard to pick a Fontaine top five because she made several interesting films, including 1942's "This Above All" with Tyrone Power, 1944's "Jane Eyre" with Orson Welles, 1953's "Ivanhoe" with Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor, and the Ida Lupino-directed 1953 noir "The Bigamist."
But here are five must-sees in the Fontaine canon, all of which are available on DVD.
"Rebecca" (1940): Fontaine had been appearing in movies since 1935, including the 1937 Fred Astaire musical "A Damsel in Distress" and the rousing 1939 adventure "Gunga Din," when she came into her own in this stylish adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's bestseller that marked Hitchcock's first...
Joan Fontaine, the coolly beautiful 1940s actress who won an Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's “Suspicion” and who became almost as well-known for her lifelong feud with her famous older sister, Olivia de Havilland, has died. She was 96.
Fontaine died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Carmel, said her assistant, Susan Pfeiffer.
In addition to winning an Academy Award as best actress for “Suspicion,” Fontaine was also nominated as best actress for her role in Hitchcock's “Rebecca” (1940) and, three years later, for Edmund Goulding's “The Constant Nymph.”
Her Oscar-winning performance as the threatened wife in “Suspicion,” opposite Cary Grant, was bestowed in 1941, the same year that De Havilland was nominated for “Hold Back the Dawn.”
In all, Fontaine had three Oscar nominations and one win; De Havilland had five nominations and two wins. De Havilland, partly because of...
Peter O'Toole, the legendary star of stage and screen who shot to stardom with his performance as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean's epic film "Lawrence of Arabia," died Saturday at age 81.
The charismatic actor had a career that spanned more than half a century and included eight Academy Award nominations and an honorary Oscar in 2003. So many of his performances moved viewers to laughter and tears. Here are just five that we won't soon forget.
"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962). This epic ranks No. 7 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest films of all time. O'Toole received his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the real-life British army officer T.E. Lawrence, who was revered for his service during World War I. O'Toole was not director Lean's first pick to play the role. O'Toole got the role after Albert Finney and Marlon Brando turned it down.
"The Lion in Winter" (1968).Katharine Hepburn won an Academy Award for her...
Tom Laughlin, who came to fame as the half-Native American, half-white ex-Green Beret in the 1971 indie blockbuster "Billy Jack," died Thursday at age 82.
A lot of his films are on DVD and on streaming services. If you want to go back to his earliest films, check out "The Delinquents" (1957) -- which was directed by Robert Altman -- "South Pacific" (1958) and even "Gidget" (1959).
And for those who want to revisit his best-known films, or perhaps see them for the first time, here are five:
"The Born Losers": Laughlin first introduced Billy Jack in this low-budget 1967 biker film, which American International Pictures released in 1968.
You can tell it's an AIP film by its poster tag line: "Kitten on Wheels With Her Bike ... Her Boots and Bikini! Out for kicks ... in for trouble? She's going to Join the Born Losers."
Besides Laughlin, Jeremy Slate and Jane Russell also starred. Laughlin's wife, Delores...
Tom Laughlin, the maverick actor and filmmaker best known for the "Billy Jack" films, has died. He was 82.
Laughlin died Thursday in Thousand Oaks, his family announced.
Laughlin had been married to actress Delores Taylor since 1954 and also had several ill-fated runs for president. But he was best known for the "Billy Jack" films, which also starred Taylor. In 1967, he wrote and directed (under the pseudonym T.C. Frank) and starred in "The Born Losers," a motorcycle exploitation film that became a big box-office hit. It introduced the world to the part-Native American Vietnam veteran title character.
The 1971 sequel, the vigilante-themed "Billy Jack," was, after a legal battle with studio Warner Bros., released independently. It also became a box-office smash, though it generated controversy for its suggestion of guns and violence as a justice-seeking tool.
Laughlin co-produced and starred in all four "Jack" films, including the little-seen final one,...
Actor Peter O’Toole, the swashbuckling star who received eight Academy Award nominations over a distinguished film career, died Saturday in London, his agent, Steve Kenis, said in an email to The Times.
O’Toole was 81.
A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
O’Toole's career spanned more than 50 years, reaching worldwide fame in the 1962 David Lean epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”
He received his final Oscar nomination for lead actor in 2007 for “Venus,” a bittersweet British drama about an elderly London actor.
Michael D. Higgins, the president of Ireland, lauded the Irish-born O’Toole Sunday: "He was unsurpassed for the grace he brought to every performance on and off the stage,” Higgins said.
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Part mystery-thriller, part brooding meditation on how evil spreads, Denis Villeneuve's film is a gorgeously shot, masterfully acted piece of pulp that takes itself a smidge too seriously. Hugh Jackman stars as a Pennsylvania carpenter and survivalist named Keller who finds himself unprepared when his daughter is abducted. Paul Dano plays the creep who Keller suspects of the crime, while Jake Gyllenhaal is the overqualified local cop who simultaneously tries to find the girls and to prove that Keller has overstepped his bounds in his quest for revenge. "Prisoners'" twisty, fairly ridiculous plot is the stuff of airplane reading, but Villeneuve frames it like a portentous procedural, akin to "Zodiac" and "Mystic River." This choice is justified somewhat by Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography — bringing a wintry Pennsylvania community to life — and by Gyllenhaal's winning performance as an...
“American Hustle,” “The Great Gatsby” and "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" are among the films competing for a nomination for makeup and hairstyling in the 86th Academy Awards.
The films, as well as “Dallas Buyers Club,” "Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” are the remaining picks shortlisted, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Saturday.
On Jan. 11, members of the Academy’s Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch will be invited to screen excerpts from the seven films. After the screenings, members will vote to nominate the three films that will vie for the Oscar.
Last year, the Academy altered a number of categories, which included adding hairstyling to the makeup category. “Les Misérables” won the category this year.
Nominations for February’s ceremony will be announced Jan. 16 and handed out March 2.
To no one's surprise, Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" laid waste to the competition at the box office on Friday, earning an estimated $31 million.
Starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf, the 3-D "Hobbit" sequel is expected to take in around $80 million in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday according to pre-release audience surveys.
The second of a three-part prequel to Jackson's wildly successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the film has earned some positive notice from critics with a 74% score on the film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. This is a better showing than the trilogy's first installment, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which earned a score of 65%.
The weekend's other debut in wide release, "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas," is thus far on track for a distant second place on the charts with an estimated $5.7 million in ticket sales. The...
NEW YORK — Over the last 15 years, much of Ben Stiller's work — "Zoolander," "Meet the Parents," "There's Something About Mary," "Tropic Thunder" — has turned not only into box-office gold but something bigger, zeitgeist-defining comedies that continue to play in our minds and on our cable-TV schedules. Love him, get annoyed by him or simply think he'll never top a certain hair-gel moment, Stiller is one of this era's most influential comic presences.
Or maybe was one of its most influential comedic presences.
In 10 days, Stiller will, in many ways, say goodbye to all that. That's when 20th Century Fox releases "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," his fifth directorial effort, which he also produced and stars in. The movie doesn't pass up the occasional joke or fantasy sequence, but it has serious, even heartbreaking, stuff on its mind — big, meaning-of-life questions as a once-promising young man, now solidly in his 40s, stares into the chasm of squandered...
The line between the real and the surreal is a thin one for James Franco. The actor's persona has become such a carefully cultivated hall of post-postmodern mirrors that it can often be hard to tell what's true and what's a put-on.
So naturally, when online award spots started appearing, promoting Franco for his role as a "gangster mystic" in Harmony Korine's outrageous indie hit "Spring Breakers," it was hard to know what to make of it. In fact, one ad plays on this confusion.
"Are you being serious?" a young woman asks, in a clip from the film. Franco's Alien, a garish peacock sporting cornrows and grills, responds, "What do you think?"
The answer is yes. A24, the distribution company behind "Spring Breakers," has been quietly running a best supporting actor campaign on Franco's behalf that's completely in line with the inside-out nature of the role and the movie. Whether motion picture academy voters will favor a character who in...
The desk shines, as do rows of Montblanc pens, and everything seems in its place, including the man who appears as if a meticulously dressed whisper. Most of the bottles in the liquor cart have not been opened, but the man, one of Hollywood's most successful producers, mentions that when a preview goes badly, Scotch and commiseration flow.
One anticipates an explosion or a crack of bravado, but all is civilized in Jerry Bruckheimer's Santa Monica office, the sanctum of a man who for decades has rattled the walls of movie houses with fighter pilots, pirates, convicts, spooks (intel and other kinds), save-the-world astronauts, a gigolo, a brash Beverly Hills cop and an array of other characters that appear much larger than the impresario in the dark blazer and black loafers.
Bruckheimer, who recently turned 70, is a presence in the hockey rink. But he concedes he is more fragile than he was in the 1980s when "Top Gun" was a hit and girls wanted to dress like Jennifer Beals in...
As pop singers eventually make holiday albums, it was bound to happen that Tyler Perry would bring his cornerstone character of Madea to Christmas sooner or later. An adaptation of his own stage play, “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” winds up the same slapdash, lightweight effort as Madea in any other season, with a few Yuletide flourishes.
As usual, Perry has created a casual mix of easy comedy with a touch of dramatic filigree. Here he is refreshingly lighter with his typically heavy-handed moral lessons, which also makes the film feel even flimsier than some other Madea outings. Perry can now knock these films out in his sleep, and with “Madea Christmas” he certainly seems to be dozing at the wheel.
What’s most odd about the film is how not Christmas-y it often is, as if Perry was bringing together a patchwork of ideas under the cover of a holiday story rather than crafting one from whole cloth. That being said, a high point is Madea’s...
Film trilogies these days tend to be epic, “Hobbit”-like affairs, the mythology of one film quite literally picked up and furthered in the next, and often in a world not exactly resembling our own.
But trilogies also sometimes come in more subtle flavors, as in the case of David O Russell, whose new film "American Hustle," about cons and criminals in 1970s New Jersey, opens Friday after a whirlwind few weeks of taste maker laurels.
After making just one film over a span of 11 years, Russell has now made three films in the last 36 months. starting with the boxing drama "The Fighter" in 2010 and continuing with the mental-health dramedy "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2012. Perhaps because they were all made during such a short period, these films form a cohesive whole, playing on the same themes of survival, redemption and reinvention—and, more specifically, asking what makes someone finally decide to make a change after years of unhealthy routine.
To prepare for his role as studio head Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks," a new film about Disney's efforts to persuade prickly author P.L. Travers to make her "Mary Poppins" novels into a movie musical, Tom Hanks did considerable research into Disney's life, including visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series, Hanks talked about how biographical details about Disney helped illuminate his performance.
Disney came from "a very tight family," Hanks said. "A very Midwestern farming [family]. His father could not get any sort of career going, so it was a very hardscrabble life.… It was a tough life, but one that [Disney] felt secure in, in all ways but the financial one, I think."
He added, "I think there's a definitive reason why so many of the movies that Walt Disney really poured himself into [are] about creating a perfect yesteryear: Whether it's...
Hollywood can be a place of short-lived ambition. Audiences crave a sequel or reprise until they see the sequel or reprise. ("Arrested Development," anyone?) Studios want a hot script until someone else gets that hot script, then they never wanted it in the first place.
About five years ago, shortly after the Hollywood screenwriters' strike, a script began making the rounds called "The Low Dweller." I was reporting on the ins-and-outs of Hollywood development at the time, and followed at close range the complicated maneuvers of those who wanted it. And many did. The story had an appealingly brooding quality in its telling of an ex-con on a mission of revenge. It had a specific sense of place, set in a Midwest that was neither the idealized place of farmland or the Big Box locale of reality, but something more mysterious, dystopian. The story had a propulsive quality, with an ex-con on a mission and on the run.
Basically, the movie had a "No Country For Old Men" vibe, a pretty good thing...
With her candidly quotable, cutely gif-able kookiness, on screen and off, there may be no actress who seems more of right now than Jennifer Lawrence — she's been declared the queen of Tumblr after all. So it is of note when in the new "American Hustle" she declares, apropos of almost nothing, "I don't like change."
It's as if Lawrence is speaking for our moment now. Across movie after movie this year there have been expressions of anxiety and uncertainty as to where we are heading and what comes next. The future is now, as the saying goes, but that doesn't mean we all have to feel good about it.
It's a wide range of films, from micro-budget indies to large-scale studio pictures, that show traces of these anxieties and also bear a range of responses, from anger and hostility to resignation, acceptance and even triumph. The wellspring of unsettled feelings that runs throughout many of these films presumably runs across many other industries as well. (Media and publishing, being...
Last year, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" had film critics wagging their fingers over Peter Jackson and company's decision to stretch J.R.R. Tolkien's slim children's novel "The Hobbit" into a movie trilogy, one that got off to a plodding start. But for many critics, the second installment, "The Desolation of Smaug," has put the series back on course.
The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey writes, "In the wake of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,' last year's dreary, dense, disappointing slough through Middle-earth, 'The Desolation of Smaug' comes as a relief. Peter Jackson's newest installment of the Tolkien trilogy is set afire by the scorching roar of a dragon." (That would be the eponymous Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.)
While the visual effects are "fabulous," Sharkey says, "the storytelling trumps the technology. Jackson's latest go at Tolkien's treasured 'Hobbit' story gets closer to that rich alchemy of fantasy, adventure, imagination and emotion that made his...
Joaquin Phoenix refused to hug it out.
On an overcast November afternoon, in a $13-million Hollywood home with a skyline view stretching from downtown L.A. to the Palos Verdes peninsula, the notoriously press-averse actor was throwing a fit of pique — aimed squarely at me.
He had tolerated more than an hour of my questions. I was interviewing him with Spike Jonze, writer-director of "Her," the idiosyncratic yet affecting sci-fi romance in which Phoenix stars. "Her" reaches theaters in limited release on Wednesday but has already been crowned best film of 2013 by the National Board of Review and tied for best film honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.
Right from the start of our meeting, the dynamic of the duo's working relationship became clear. Jonze functions as a kind of Joaquin-whisperer/interlocutor for Phoenix; the actor serves as muse and B.S. detector for Jonze.
But when this reporter asked the wrong question — or perhaps...
"Hours," one of Paul Walker's last films and arriving in theaters just two weeks after his death in a fiery crash, comes as a modest memorial to the 40-year-old's career. But it is not the stirring emotional performance many hoped for, nor will it redefine the actor, best known for playing opposite Vin Diesel in "The Fast and Furious" franchise.
This drama, about an ordinary guy trying to keep his infant daughter alive in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, is sincere but struggles as much as its hero.
Written and directed by Eric Heisserer and shot on location in New Orleans last year, "Hours" is a bit of a B-movie chamber piece. With a limited budget, the film spends most of its time inside a single hospital room with Walker in virtually every scene. News footage pulled from the hours before and after the massive storm hit the region is seeded throughout the movie to fill in some of the contextual blanks. But all that matters here is what happens within those four walls.
The African American Film Critics Assn. on Friday named Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" the best film of 2013.
The historical drama was the big winner with the organization, earning four awards. Besides best film, "!2 Years a Slave" won director honors for McQueen, screenplay for John Ridley and breakout performance for Lupita Nyong'o.
Forest Whitaker was named best actor for "Lee Daniels' The Butler," while Sandra Bullock received best actress honors for "Gravity."
The critics chose Oprah Winfrey for supporting actress for "The Butler," and Jared Leto for supporting actor for "Dallas Buyers Club."
"Frozen" won best animated film and "Mother of George" was the recipient of the best world cinema honor. Raphael Sadiq won best music for "Black Nativity" and "Fruitvale Station" was honored with the best independent film award. "American Promise" won top documentary.
The group also announced its top 10 films of 2013: "12 Years a Slave";...
By mid-November, when most directors of holiday movies were unwinding with their work largely completed, filmmaker David O. Russell was pulling 18-hour days and seven-day weeks, rushing to finish "American Hustle."
The mad dash was worth it: "American Hustle," opening in limited release Friday, has vaulted into the top tier of Oscar contenders.
Nominations for the Golden Globes — where "American Hustle" tied with "12 Years a Slave" for the most selections with seven — coupled with "American Hustle's" strong showing in Wednesday's Screen Actors Guild Awards have transformed Russell's retelling of the 1970s Abscam scandal into a legitimate rival to the biographical drama "12 Years a Slave" and the space thriller "Gravity," which long have been Academy Award front-runners.
The Globe nominations were kind to other films coming out later this year: Both "The Wolf of Wall Street," the account of a...
There were no shortage of surprise names among the Golden Globes nominees announced Thursday: Sally Hawkins, Kate Winslet, Steve Coogan and Idris Elba, who nabbed either a screenplay nomination (Coogan) or acting nods (everyone else).
But the group has more in common than just some unexpected love from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.: All are British.
When confronted with a choice between Brits and Americans this year, the Golden Globes seemed to go out of its way to honor nominees from across the pond.
Hawkins, nominated for her turn as a bohemian (and American) drifter in "Blue Jasmine," took a spot on the supporting actress shortlist many thought would go to Oprah Winfrey, a quintessentially American personality, playing in a quintessentially American story, "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
Elba, a Brit who played South African Nelson Mandela in Justin Chadwick's "Mandela," similarly garnered a nomination...
The virtue of words gets a sweet, funny, at times profound close-up in "The Great Passage," Japan's entry for 2013's foreign-language Oscar. Director Yuya Ishii, working off a gentle, finely textured script by Kensaku Watanabe (adapted from the novel by Shiwon Miura) takes his time telling this warm story of the 15-year creation of a definitive print dictionary, but it's a worthy journey.
Initially set in 1995, on the cusp of a tech explosion that would gradually render physical books an endangered species, the film follows the trajectory of Mitsuya Majime (Ryuhei Matsuda), a desperately shy young publishing company employee whose inability to verbally express himself is in direct contrast with his innate love of language — and his linguistics degree.
This paradox makes Mitsuya an odd, yet also oddly ideal, choice to join the firm's Dictionary Editorial Department as it embarks on the sweeping task of compiling what veteran editor — and Mitsuya's humane new boss (Go Kato)...
It's not every day you see Claymation servicing an old-fashioned ecclesiastical chiller, which earns the painstakingly designed, hand-crafted Spanish offering "O Apóstolo" some originality points. Writer/director Fernando Cortizo's tale focuses on an escaped convict on the hunt for jewels hidden by a fellow inmate, which leads him to a remote, wooded village called Xanaz, populated by a handful of unnervingly hospitable geezers.
Situated on the path to Santiago de Compostela, the town is a pilgrimage waystation. Pretending to be one such traveler, crafty Ramon (the voice of Carlos Blanco) nevertheless picks up on the sinister vibe surrounding the mist-shrouded town's religious relics and nocturnal activity but not in time to avoid becoming a pawn in its ancient curse. The movie isn't exactly scary, and it has a tendency to meander. But the crumbling, ornate sets are an atmospheric marvel, and a cutout-animated collage sequence unveiling Xanaz's damned origins is Terry Gilliam-level...
Fans of Alfonso Cuaron have been noting, with a mixture of resignation and appreciation, the "Gravity" director’s deliberate work pace -- after all, for reasons both economic and technological, seven years passed between "Children of Men," his previous film, and "Gravity." They ask: Can't he just work quicker?
Cuaron has the same question.
"My dream is to be able to move faster and make more films. But for some reason, I’m incapable of that," Cuaron told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, shortly after being nominated for best director at the Golden Globes. "Part of the thing,” added the director, who took five years between "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Children of Men," “is that I really like to enjoy life in between films" -- a not-entirely-welcome thought for those of us who take a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately approach to filmmakers.
PHOTOS: Golden Globe nominations snubs and surprises | Complete list of nominees
Cuaron's status as one of this season’s...
Ralph Fiennes' second film as a director, "The Invisible Woman," about Charles Dickens' love affair with the much younger Nelly Ternan, found the actor-filmmaker carefully navigating the perils of period movies, from stuffy pageantry to overwrought melodrama.
At the Envelope Screening Series, Fiennes and Felicity Jones talked about bringing the Victorian romance to life for a contemporary audience.
Having screened the film at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Fiennes said, "The most heartening responses have been when people have talked about experiencing the intimacy or the intimate moments. I don't just mean the lovemaking moments, I mean the conversations."
He continued: "People have talked about the camera and the visuals and things like that positively, but I strongly wanted to resist the kind of cliches … of Dickens looking at Nelly across a room and from that moment, we know they're going to...
Films from Denmark, France, Iran, Italy and Japan are nominated for the Golden Globes foreign-language film award. "The Hunt," "Blue Is the Warmest Color," "The Past," "The Great Beauty" and "The Wind Rises" will compete for the prize, to be announced on Jan. 12.
With guidelines that allow for more than one film from a given country to be eligible, the Globes' foreign language category can be very different from the Academy Awards. Last year, two films from France, "The Intouchables" and "Rust and Bone," were nominated. Nevertheless, the last three winners in the category at the Globes have gone on to win the Oscar too.
Of this year's Globe nominees, Denmark's "The Hunt," Iran's "The Past" and Italy's "The Great Beauty" are all official submissions for the Academy Awards from their respective countries, and each got a big boost Thursday morning. Asghar Farhadi, writer-director of "The Past," won both the Globe and the Oscar for his 2011 film "A Separation."
Now here's something you don't see every day: A circle of African men chanting Hebrew prayers while wearing tallitot (prayer shawls) and yarmulkes (skull caps) along with their dashikis — not to mention scenes of African women lighting Sabbath candles and diligently preparing a kosher meal using such native crops as yam and cassava. But for the estimated 3,000 Igbo people of Nigeria who practice Judaism, these are common sightings, all part of a unique way of life portrayed with joy and grace in the captivating documentary "Re-Emerging: The Jews of Nigeria."
Writer-producer-director Jeff L. Lieberman (he also shot, edited and narrates) delves into the heart of Nigeria's dedicated Jewish community, largely guided by one Shmuel Tikvah Ben Yaacov (nee: Samuel Chukwuma), a charismatic young leader whose questioning of his original Catholic faith led him to study and observe Judaism. His goal is to one day become a rabbi.
Shmuel, plus other Igbo Jews...
One of the all-time top-grossing films at the South Korean box office, "Friend" played at the AFI Fest in 2001 but never saw a stateside theatrical release. Writer-director Kwak Kyung-taek's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story — set against the Busan underworld — resonated with an entire generation of South Koreans, but much of its appeal eluded audiences abroad who weren't privy to that collective memory. Nevertheless, its sequel, "Friend 2: The Legacy," arrives in a dozen American theaters 12 years later, perhaps as a testament to the thriving ethnic enclaves across the nation.
Upon his release from a 17-year prison sentence, Lee Joon-suk (Yu Oh-seong) returns to find mutiny imminent within his criminal enterprise. So he recruits Choi Sung-hoon (Kim Woo-bin) — his protégé while inside the pen — to quell the uprising.
If the original "Friend" emanated "GoodFellas," "Friend 2" fancies itself the South Korean answer to "The...
The kids are definitely not all right in Spanish-born horror-meister Adrián García Bogliano's dreadfest, "Here Comes the Devil." Set in a harshly lit Tijuana and dusted with the juju of a thousand possession flicks, it concerns a beachgoing family whose preteen son and daughter go missing after an exploratory walk to a rocky, ominous hillside.
When they mysteriously show up again, the pair exhibit an eerie absence of personality. Convinced a creepy vagrant was involved, desperate parents Sol (Laura Caro) and Felix (Francisco Barreiro) disastrously take matters into their own hands, which only pressurizes things when it becomes clearer that a more malevolently inhabiting force is at work. Fond of lurching weirdness, jarring inserts and sonic loudness, Bogliano shows he's invested as much in conveying the psychodrama of a fractured home as he is the signposts of edgy, bloody retro-infused terror.
And yet it's hard to discern if the cheesier...
In 2001, a young New Yorker named Lenny Cooke was the country's top-ranked high school basketball player. The hoop-dreams hope and hype were high. He was interviewed by ESPN and the New York Times and was already used to giving out autographs. And then the moment was gone. The NBA draft passed him by, as did contemporaries LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Cooke's story, less a cautionary tale than a mythic one, is the subject of a compellingly unconventional, elliptical sports documentary that explores the mysterious realm of might-have-been. In "Lenny Cooke," sibling directors Ben and Joshua Safdie (whose scruffy narratives include "Daddy Longlegs"), build upon found footage of the well-documented high-schooler, much of it from a never-completed film by Adam Shopkorn.
That footage includes the landscape-shifting game that pitted Cooke against a relatively unknown James. But there's no single reason for Cooke's missed shot at...
"Liv & Ingmar: Painfully Connected" is a lovely and lyrical documentary about the passionate, mutually inspiring yet fraught relationship between the late filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and his lover, frequent collaborator and, ultimately, dear friend, actress Liv Ullmann.
Although enjoyable, the movie is perhaps best suited to cinéastes already intimate with Bergman's venerated body of work as well as with Ullmann's many acclaimed screen roles; writer-director Dheeraj Akolkar offers few specifics on the master's films excerpted here, never providing identifying titles or release dates or contextualizing their esteemed places in world cinema. While not a deal breaker, it's a dubious creative choice.
As for Ullmann, now 74, she radiates a lived-in beauty and infectious warmth as she candidly discusses, largely from the home she and Bergman once shared on Sweden's picturesque Fårö Island, the various phases of their relationship, which began in 1965 while shooting "Persona," the first of their...
"Tim's Vermeer" is a fascinating new documentary about art, obsessions, ideas and answers.
Though the film unfolds in the present day, its genesis traces back to the 17th century, and, as the title suggests, to Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. His paintings have long drawn interest for their distinctive use of light and shadow, which gives them an almost photographic quality, beyond what the human eye sees and 150 years before cameras were invented.
Before the film is finished you will know a great deal about the painter, but Vermeer is not so much the subject as the "Tim" of the title. Tim Jenison is a new age digital visionary and inventor who decided to test one particular theory of how Vermeer achieved the effect. Jenison is also an old friend of Penn Jillette, one-half of the magic team Penn & Teller.
The other half, Teller, directed the film. He and his cameras followed the inventor for the five years or so it took Jenison to conduct his grand experiment.
Touted as an awards front-runner since early autumn, British director Steve McQueen finally garnered Golden Globes love Thursday for his searing depiction of antebellum plantation life in “12 Years a Slave.”
The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. honored the visual artist-turned-feature filmmaker with a nomination in the motion picture director category alongside David O. Russell, Alfonso Cuarón, Alexander Payne and Paul Greengrass.
After directing two modestly budgeted indies (the prison drama “Hunger” and “Shame” in 2011), McQueen’s Globes nod arrives as his most prestigious awards recognition since landing a BAFTA for most promising newcomer in 2008.
Both “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” led all Globes balloting with seven nominations apiece.
Likewise, “American Hustle” writer-director Russell is no stranger to the Globes; he was nominated last year for the...
A creative dispute between a writer and a studio head over the direction of a prospective motion picture sounds like the kind of movie scenario only a lawyer could love.
But when the writer is cranky, crusty P.L. Travers, who means it when she says "I shall have my way," when the studio head is Walt Disney, unapologetic about proclaiming "I'm a man who usually gets what he wants," and when the film they're arguing about is the much beloved "Mary Poppins," things do get interesting.
Directed down the middle of the road by John Lee Hancock, "Saving Mr. Banks" has even more disadvantages to overcome. For one thing, how do you make an involving film about a situation whose outcome — Travers acquiesced, the film got made — everyone knows?
And, just as tricky, how do you make a genial Disney film, the kind that even Walt himself might have enjoyed, about a way-ornery woman going through one of the most difficult periods of her...
Don't get him wrong: Even after more than 50 years in the business, Robert Redford was thrilled early Thursday to hear he was nominated for a Golden Globe award. But that didn't mean he was ready to let the news interrupt his sleep schedule.
When news broke that Redford had received a nod for his nearly silent performance in the survival drama "All Is Lost," his publicist immediately gave him a call at his home in Santa Fe. He said was pleased, but he would be going back to bed.
A few hours later, however, he was ready to face the press, insisting he never saw the recognition coming.
"I’ve always been wary of expectations. I think that’s a dangerous thing to rely on," the 77-year-old said. "The only time I’ve seen the film was at Cannes, and when it was over, I thought, 'I thought they booed things here. This could go either way.'"
A day after he was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild, Redford found himself among the Globes' lead...
David O. Russell is a director on a hot streak, an audacious original with an affinity for edgy American madness. His dizzying, outlandishly entertaining "American Hustle" is a 21-first century screwball farce about 20th-century con men, scam artists and those who dream of living large, a film that is big hearted and off the wall in equal measure.
As he demonstrated in his previous two pictures, "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Fighter," out of control people are Russell's specialty. Like a cowboy working in the biggest of corrals, he lets his characters roam as far and wide as they please before reining them in with perfect control at the close.
In this film, Russell has surrounded himself with actors he's worked with before — Christian Bale and Amy Adams from "The Fighter" and Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from "Silver Linings" — and gone for broke. More specifically, he's cannily used performers who excel at disappearing into their roles to play people who...
Fact-based dramas dominated the Golden Globes nominations for supporting actor, claiming all five slots with Jared Leto for "Dallas Buyers Club," Daniel Bruhl for "Rush," Barkhad Abdi for "Captain Phillips," Michael Fassbender for "12 Years a Slave" and Bradley Cooper for "American Hustle."
Leto was nominated for his turn as the sharp-witted transgender woman Rayon in "Dallas Buyers Club," Jean-Marc Vallee's biographical drama about AIDS patient and activist Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey). Rayon, a composite character, was Leto's first role in years and saw him undergo a dramatic physical transformation, losing more than 30 pounds.
Reached from his rock band's tour bus between Chicago and St. Louis, Leto said, "It was a complete physical transformation; it was a complete internal transformation as well. The role of a lifetime. I'm really proud to be able to have brought this beautiful creature to life."
To lose the weight, Leto said...
The Golden Globes showdown for supporting actress includes four names familiar to those who tuned into the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations Wednesday — Lupita Nyong'o for "12 Years a Slave," June Squibb for "Nebraska," Jennifer Lawrence for "American Hustle" and Julia Roberts for "August: Osage County" — plus a new contender, Sally Hawkins of "Blue Jasmine." The British actress unseated Oprah Winfrey, who had taken the fifth SAG slot for her role in "The Butler."
Hawkins was nominated for her role as Ginger, the working-class sister to Cate Blanchett's troubled socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine." Speaking on the phone from London after a bout of Christmas shopping, Hawkins said she was caught "totally off guard" by the nomination. "I'm floored. I literally am on the floor, still. I haven't really moved since when I first heard."
"Blue Jasmine" represents Hawkins' second collaboration with Allen, after "Cassandra's Dream," and her first time playing an American....
Since taking the Telluride and Toronto film festivals by storm in the early fall, "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" have dominated the Oscar conversation. Three months of screenings and cocktail receptions and glad-handing have done little to alter the leaderboard, but now, as critics groups, Screen Actors Guild Awards voters and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. have weighed in, there's a new question popping around Hollywood.
Is the film academy about to go back to the '70s again?
David O. Russell's fizzy, late-disco-era con artist comedy, "American Hustle," has emerged as a viable alternative to "12 Years" and "Gravity," receiving seven Globe nominations, a SAG movie ensemble nod and a wave of great reviews, along with a prestigious New York Film Critics Circle best picture prize. Like "Argo," last year's best picture winner, "Hustle" boasts a combination of craftsmanship and pure moviegoing pleasure set in a time period that holds a powerful, nostalgic appeal to baby boomers, the...
An untethered astronaut, a sexy hustler, a rich woman stripped of possessions and the persnickety creator of Mary Poppins are among the roles in which their creators earned nominations in the Golden Globes lead actress categories in drama and musical or comedy.
The drama nominees are Cate Blanchett as a neurotic socialite falling from grace in “Blue Jasmine”; Sandra Bullock as an astronaut floating helplessly in space in “Gravity”; Judi Dench as an Irish mother searching for the child she was forced to give up for adoption in “Philomena”; Emma Thompson as the creator of Mary Poppins who negotiates a movie deal with Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks”; and Kate Winslet as an emotionally delicate single mother who falls in love with an escaped convict in “Labor Day.”
Nominees in a comedy or musical are Meryl Streep, playing a belligerent, pill-popping mother with cancer in ”August: Osage County”; Amy Adams as a sexy...
The 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival, which will take place Jan. 3-13, announced a new program Thursday spotlighting Canadian cinema. It also revealed the films selected to compete for the FIPRESCI Award in the Awards Buzz section and unveiled the lineup for the Modern Masters showcase.
"We've selected Canadian films for a special focus at this year's festival for many reasons, not the least of which is the wealth of talent emerging from its relatively small, indigenous film industry, and the depth and richness of story and character portrayal its films exemplify," festival director Darryl Macdonald said in a statement.
The Spotlight on Canadian Cinema features 12 movies: "The Auction," "Empire of Dirt," "Enemy" (with Jake Gyllenhaal), "Gabrielle," "Gerontophilia," "The Grand Seduction" (with Brendan Gleeson), "The Manor," "Patch Town," "Siddharth," "Stay" and "Vic + Flo Saw a Bear."
Among the films included in the Awards Buzz section,...
"Frozen" directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee got the news in Spanish Thursday morning that the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. had nominated their film for best animated feature: The two had traveled from Dubai to Mexico City to promote the Walt Disney Animation Studios movie, a musical adaptation of the Snow Queen fairy tale.
"Somehow Styrofoam snow has gotten stuck in my hair," Buck said by phone, as a studio publicist could be heard in the background pulling out the prop flakes. "Anyway, we feel great, we go back to our crew with this."
Fox/DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods," from directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders, and Universal/Illumination Entertainment's "Despicable Me 2," from directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, are the other nominees in the category.
The Golden Globes have a long and often amusing reputation for nomination-morning howlers. But when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. unveiled its 2014 nominees Thursday morning, there was no “Tourist,” no “Burlesque,” no “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” -- partly owing to so many comedies of actual distinction in the running, such as multiple nominees "American Hustle" and "Nebraska."
Yet that didn’t mean the snubs and surprises, the jaw-droppers and the head-scratchers, weren’t there. Here are six of the biggest:
Not taking it to the Banks:"Saving Mr. Banks," John Lee Hancock's look at how Walt Disney cajoled a reluctant P.L. Travers to turn "Mary Poppins" into a movie, has been a favorite since it premiered at AFI Fest last month and screened around town, particularly with the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences. Many forecasters are pegging it for a best picture Oscar nomination. But...
Cinefamily's 24 Hour Holiday Telethon at the Silent Movie Theatre isn't your parents' fundraiser. It's not airing on television and celebrities won't be staffing the phone lines.
But the telethon, which begins Saturday at 1 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1 p.m., embraces the quirky spirit of the nonprofit organization whose mission is to "foster a spirit of community and a sense of discovery, while reinvigorating the movie-going experience."
Since its inception seven years ago, Cinefamily has offered a veritable Heinz 57 variety of programming. Last month, the theater saluted Kris Kristofferson with a film retrospective, screened the documentary "The Act of Killing" and presented a rare 1925 comedy, "Paths to Paradise." And Christmas week, it is screening the ultimate holiday classic: 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life."
Anjelica Huston will kick off the telethon with a Q&A and Illeana Douglas will hold a Celebrity Garage Sale. The metal band Earth...
An unflinching look at slavery in America and a story about 1970s con men dominated the Golden Globes nominations Thursday morning, with "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" earning seven nods apiece, including best picture, best director and a slew of acting nominations.
The nominations help catapult both films to solid front-runner status on the road to the coveted best picture Oscar, as well as Academy Awards for filmmakers Steve McQueen and David O. Russell, and actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper.
The nominations, considered a top indicator of Oscar gold, were an especially strong showing for "12 Years A Slave": The harrowing historical drama was also the most honored film Wednesday when the Screen Actors Guild announced its awards season favorites.
That film will compete against “Captain Phillips,” "Gravity," "Philomena" and "Rush" in the...
What the Screen Actors Guild giveth, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. taketh away.
One day after SAG voters handed “August: Osage County,” “The Dallas Buyers Club” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” fresh Oscar energy, the Golden Globes on Thursday undercut the three films’ awards momentum, failing to nominate any of the trio in the best picture categories, even as the productions were well represented in acting selections.
The snubs accentuated the strong recognition for “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave,” which tied with a leading seven Golden Globe nominations apiece. Those two films — alongside “Osage County,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Butler” — previously received ensemble nominations from SAG voters, the equivalent of the acting union’s best picture shortlist.
“It’s really the proverbial case of the...