Friday, February 26, 2010

Did "The Hurt Locker" producer hurt his movie's chance at the Oscars?

Pete Hammond of obtained an email sent by one of the credited producers of the Oscar frontrunner "The Hurt Locker" slamming "Avatar" in favor of his own movie. A firestorm has erupted over this and some Oscar-watchers are now hastily changing their predictions. The Best Picture race has gotten interesting again...

Here's Pete's article (plus the link):

With just one week to go before ballots close for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards (they are due at PriceWaterhouseCoopers by 5 p.m. March 2), campaigners are pulling out all the stops trying to position their movie as the one with the gravitas that befits a best picture winner.
In addition to the usual trade and newspaper ads, TV spots and billboards, at least one "Hurt Locker" nominee apparently feels the best way may be hand-to-hand combat via e-mail. The Academy may frown at this direct attempt to contact its members, but "Hurt Locker" co-producer Nicholas Chartier, who through his Voltage Pictures was the film's key financing wizard, is making pleas to friends and friends of friends to get out the vote for "Hurt Locker" like it was some sort of political grass-roots campaign. His pitch isn't so much about the quality of the film, but rather its independent nature versus that movie with the blue people that cost so much to make. He doesn't mention "Avatar" by name. He doesn't have to. Here is the text of his e-mail, which went out to select industry-ites on Friday. (Spelling and grammatical errors were in the original text sent to me by a producer who received this):

From: "Nicolas Chartier" Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2010

I hope all is well with you. I just wanted to write you and say I hope you liked Hurt Locker and if you did and want us to win, please tell (name deleted) and your friends who vote for the Oscars, tell actors, directors, crew members, art directors, special effects people, if everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500M film, we need independent movies to win like the movies you and I do, so if you believe The Hurt Locker is the best movie of 2010, help us!

I'm sure you know plenty of people you've worked with who are academy members whethere a publicist, a writer, a sound engineer, please take 5 minutes and contact them. Please call one or two persons, everything will help!

best regards,

Nicolas Chartier Voltage Pictures

Chartier's "Hurt Locker" bio says he has spent much of his career involved in the sales and international distribution of a range of films including "Van Wilder," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Crash" and the Olsen twins' TV movies. Most of them were indie projects like "Hurt Locker," and he clearly feels the passion to get his message translated into hard votes for the indie success of awards season. But considering the current solid front-running status of "Hurt Locker," it smacks a little more of desperation or panic than the air of confidence you might expect from a contender that's had a very savvy and successful campaign to date.

Meanwhile, Fox has completely retooled its trade, billboard, TV and consumer newspaper approach to emphasize that "Avatar" is not your father's kind of popcorn picture. Successive Variety covers late last week emphasized lengthy review quotes including Joe Morgenstern's Wall Street Journal review: "Special effects have been abolished in effect, since the whole thing is so special." Or The Times' Kenneth Turan, who was quoted in part as saying "... it's an anti-technology film that touts the healing powers of nature." James Cameron now proudly repeats the lists of environmental organizations that have endorsed the film and participated in a Natural Resources Defense Council fundraiser on the Fox lot Monday night.

Of course, when the film opened, the mind-blowing nature of the whole 3-D experience and technical innovation was the major part of the sell, not the "green" message.

"Inglourious Basterds" was sold as an entertaining, shoot 'em up Nazi war movie when it came out in August. Message, what message? Now that's played a little differently in an Oscar campaign that has stamped out whispers of anti-Semitism and pointedly referenced support from Jewish groups, Rabbis Marvin Heir and Abraham Cooper and the Museum Of Tolerance. Current ads also show art "inspired" by the movie that is being auctioned off to help Haitian earthquake relief with the line: "The movie that reminds you why you love movies has inspired others to create and give back." And YOU thought it was just a good ol' "guys-on-a-mission" flick, as its director Quentin Tarantino likes to say.

And Chartier's personal approach aside, "Hurt Locker" has been busy beefing up it's antiwar credentials after criticism in some quarters that it didn't have a point of view.

When it was released in late June, any movie with a connection to the Iraq war was considered box office poison. Distributor Summit Entertainment ran far from positioning the movie as anything but an exciting, nail-biting war thriller. Diffusing criticism that the film doesn't take a position, director Kathryn Bigelow often makes a point of saying in interviews that she believes war is futile and hopes her movie will open a path for peace. Writer Mark Boal always accepts awards now by calling his movie "an unpopular story about an unpopular war." On Wednesday evening at the Arclight movie theater, Bigelow and Boal are scheduled to further their Oscar season activism by joining in a panel with veteran Air Force and Army officers for the Truman National Security Project program loftily titled "From the Front Lines to the Silver Screen: How 'The Hurt Locker' Brings Home the Human Cost of the Iraq War and the Stark Reality of 21st Century Combat."

Trying pitching that kind of publicity-op at the original marketing meeting.

Selling your movie to Academy voters is a lot different that selling it to the public. The latter's all about making money. The former's about making room for Oscars.

May the best message win.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vote for Filipino designer in OSCARs Designer Challenge 2010!

Listen up, kids! Acclaimed Filipino designer Oliver Tolentino is among a few selected designers whose original designs made the shortlist of this year's Oscars Designers Challenge.

He needs our votes.

Here's how you do it:

1) Go to:
2) Click on box: Oscars Designer Challenge 2010
3) Select Oliver Tolentino gown, and

Join/Register email address for vote to be counted

Winning gown will be worn on the stage at the 82nd Academy Awards. It would be the first time that piña fabric will be worn on the Oscar stage!

One vote for every email address daily so vote every day through March 1st!

Here's a related press release:

********** FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE *********


Filipino fashion designer OLIVER TOLENTINO has been selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as a finalist to compete in “Oscars Designer Challenge 2010.” (The Academy awards Oscars® every spring in Hollywood.)

Oliver was chosen from among applicants who submitted design sketches from all across the United States. Only nine designers were selected to create one gown for possible appearance on the 2010 Oscar® telecast on March 7. The winner of the challenge will receive two tickets to attend the show and witness his/her gown being worn on the stage by one of the “trophy girls” who brings the Oscar statuettes to the presenters.

At a press conference and fashion show held today at the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters, the nine designers presented their one-of-a-kind gowns before hundreds of members of the international press. Today at 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time), the gowns and fashion show video were posted on the Academy’s official website. The winner will be determined by the gown that receives the most public votes between February 23 and March 1 (voting is restricted to one vote per registered email address per day). The winning gown will be announced on the Oscar pre-show immediately before the 82nd Academy Awards® telecast.

Oliver created an elegant off-white, “green” eco-friendly mermaid gown out of his home country’s native piña (pineapple fabric) and abaca fabrics. The bodice is asymmetrical layered strips of piña accented with Philippine freshwater pearls all over the neckline. Pearls line the plunging back and extend in an asymmetrical swirl around the waist. The long piña skirt is covered with piña & abaca rosette hand-cutouts, broken up by two concentric strips of accordion-like piña fabric.

Oliver explains why he used piña. “I am really trying to promote my home country’s native fabrics wherever I go. It promotes an entire industry that employs so many talented, skilled workers. I feel it’s my duty, but fortunately it’s also my pleasure and honor to work with piña. I love it and I love seeing the reaction of Westerners when I tell them that piña is pineapple fiber. They are in awe when they hear that and see what elegant gowns can be made from it. It makes me so proud,” beams Oliver.

Born in the small town of Orani in the province of Bataan, Philippines, Oliver started his career in the 90s in Manila and recently became the first ever Philippines-based fashion designer to expand into the United States when he opened a Los Angeles boutique in July 2009.

Prior to opening his Melrose Avenue shop, Oliver already had secured a reputation in his native country by designing gowns for the elite, including socialites, celebrities, and government officials at the highest levels. Just last year, he created the gown former First Lady Imelda Marcos wore to her 80th birthday gala celebration. Oliver often has been called the Philippines’ own Valentino.

Over the past few years, Oliver has created dramatic gowns for the Philippines’ biggest concert stars, including the four “divas” of the Philippines (Kuh Ledesma, Regine Velasquez, Zsa Zsa Padilla, and Pops Fernandez). Oliver has also dressed Filipina songbird Lani Misalucha for the stage in her running show in Las Vegas.

Just this January in Switzerland, Oliver was the only designer to represent the Philippines at the United Nations’ Palais des Nations for EcoChic Geneva. The event celebrated sustainable fashion and accessories to mark the UN International Year of Biodiversity and was organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development and Hong Kong’s charity group, Green2Greener. Over 40 designers presented 1 eco-friendly look, including Diane von Furstenberg (Belgium), Thakoon (Thailand), and John Rocha (Ireland). Oliver created a dramatic gown, also made of his native piña (something the eco-friendly organizers had never heard of), based on his country’s folklore of Maria Makiling. His entry was selected as the show’s finale.

With the Designer Challenge, Oliver says he’s already a winner. “I know people always say this, especially at the Oscars, but just to be selected as one of the nine designers after only opening my boutique 8 months ago, I already feel like I’ve won so much,” Oliver confesses. “Of course, I’d be so honored to win, but more because a Filipino would be winning. But all of that will be up to the public vote. I hope people will vote for my gown if they like it and are proud of it.”

Look for Oliver Tolentino gowns on the red carpet and beyond in 2010. In the meantime, Oliver will anxiously await the outcome of Oscars® Designer Challenge 2010 on March 7.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2009 Oscar class pictures!

Photos courtesy of

All 120+ nominees

Best Actor nominees: (From left) Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges, Jeremy Renner and George Clooney 

Meryl Streep and Colin Firth

Best supporting actress nominees Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga and Maggie Gyllenhaa with Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe, both best actress contenders 

Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock, best actor and best actress frontrunners, respectively

Best director contenders: Quentin Tarantino, Lee Daniels, Kathryn Bigelow, Jason Reitman and James Cameron

Jeff Bridges, Jeremy Renner, George Clooney and Morgan Freeman

The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air win writing awards!

The writing Oscars are locked. "The Hurt Locker" and "Up in the Air" won their respective categories at today's Writers Guild of America awards. The race for best picture, best director and best actress remain the most unpredictable categories left...

Here's a clip from Susan King's web report of tonight's ceremony...

"The Hurt Locker's" Mark Boal received the WGA award for original screenplay for his gripping drama about a bomb disposal unit in Iraq. Boal, who is also nominated for an Oscar, thanked the American soldiers in the war-devastated region who let him "get up close and personal" to the "chaos and hellishness" when he was embedded there as a journalist.

"Up in the Air's" Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won for adapted screenplay for their dramedy about a corporate downsizer. The two have won numerous critics' awards, as well as the Golden Globe, for their screenplay, which was based on the book by Walter Kirn. They are also nominated for an Academy Award.

"I can't tell you how extraordinarily proud I am to be standing in front of you," said Reitman, who also directed the film. "I am always a writer."

Several writers who are nominated for this year's Oscar in the original or adapted screenplay categories -- including "Inglourious Basterds'" Quentin Tarantino and "An Education's" Nick Hornby -- weren't eligible for a WGA award because their movies either hadn't been written under the guild's Minimum Basic Agreement or under a collective-bargaining agreement of one of the international guilds.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to get an Oscar nomination...

Matthew Belloni of the Hollywood Reporter offers...

Five simple rules for winning an Oscar nomination
By Matthew Belloni
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Forget the rules of awards season, we were told.

When the Academy's board of governors announced eight months ago that the best picture category would be supersized to 10 nominees, awards watchers predicted that the race for the top Oscar would play out like none in the modern era. Gone were the honed awards playbooks, the paint-by-numbers campaign strategies that have come to define the annual winter horse race. We were entering a brave new world of unpredictability and experimentation.

Or something like that. Now that the first crop of 10 nominees has been selected, it's time to evaluate how the expanded field changed the game. Which strategies benefited from the 10 nominations and which fell flat? Here are five lessons learned from the season.

Heading into the fall, comedy producers were tickled by the prospect that the expanded best picture field might finally allow some serious acknowledgment of funny movies.

Comedies have long been the redheaded stepchild of the Oscars (1976's "Annie Hall" is the last full-on laffer to take home the best picture prize). But if the supersized category was conceived to include more populist films, the thinking went, surely a couple of successful humor pictures -- like "The Hangover" or "It's Complicated" -- would make the cut.

But while several best picture nominees have their lighter moments, there is nary a straight comedy among them. In fact, despite studio efforts to reposition them as awards films -- and even after some success at the Golden Globes -- "Hangover," "It's Complicated" and the romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer" were totally blanked by the Academy.

Lesson learned: Oscar might be more populist, but he's certainly not any funnier.

Many among the Oscarati were surprised to see Joel and Ethan Coen's "A Serious Man" included in the best picture field. The period dramedy showcased the filmmakers' trademark style and bone-dry wit but it was a small, personal picture that left many scratching their heads.

Those mixed feelings were on display at the Globes, where the film nabbed only a single nomination (for best actor comedy/musical for Michael Stuhlbarg) and in its failure to score any nominations at the producer, directors and screen actors guild awards.

But in an expanded Oscar field, "A Serious Man" made the cut partly because voters have such a strong affinity for the Coens and their body of work. Sure, the Academy's older, more heavily Jewish membership likely connected more easily to the subject matter. But the association with a high-quality "brand" in the form of the Coens helped push a polarizing movie over this year's smaller hurdle.

"The Coens are in there because they're the Coens," one awards consultant says. "In previous years that might not have been enough, but now, with more slots, it is."

That theory doesn't explain why Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" -- another prestige entry from a well-loved figure -- didn't score a nomination. But acting nominations for Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon certainly indicate the movie came close.

Lesson learned: In a 10-picture field, quality "brands" can snag a nomination without widespread support.

Academy history is filled with examples of movies that showcase an Oscar-winning performance but aren't rewarded with a best picture nomination. In fact, many Oscar-winning performances from lead actresses in recent years -- such as Kathy Bates in "Misery" (1990), Jessica Lange in "Blue Sky" (1994) and Charlize Theron in "Monster" (2003) -- came in films that received no other Oscar nominations.

"The Blind Side" showed that with a field of 10, a buzzy performance is more effective in landing a best picture nomination.

This year, however, the late-season momentum behind Sandra Bullock's turn in "The Blind Side" was able to carry the film into best picture territory, no small feat considering the movie appeared on few prognosticators' lists, and its studio, Warner Bros., focused on Bullock more than the film in its campaign.

The point is: In an expanded field, iconic performances matter more. In the weeks leading up to the nominations, Bullock was the talk of the town, and she worked the circuit like a pro. That buzz was enough to propel "Blind Side" to the final 10.

Of course, "Julie & Julia" also served as a showcase for its lead actress, Meryl Streep, and it was denied a best picture nomination. But that film is a comedy, running afoul of Lesson No. 1.

Lesson learned: With more best picture slots, a strong, buzzy performance can carry a movie to the finish line.

As the price of a best picture campaign has skyrocketed in recent years, smaller, nonstudio-affiliated distributors have largely been shut out of the game. But as this season began, tiny indies openly salivated at the possibility of scoring the big prize without spending the big dollars.

"It's great for independent films because it levels the playing field," Oscilloscope Laboratories partner David Fenkel said in November before beginning a small push for "The Messenger." "It gives more opportunity for films that in the past may not have had the resources to campaign against the bigger guys."

Fast-forward a few months and the best picture field looks very similar to the way it usually does: big-budget studio prestige productions are squaring off against studio specialty division fare -- with zero films from true indie distributors like Oscilloscope.

Sure, minimajors Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment both scored nominations, for "Precious" and "The Hurt Locker," respectively. But Lionsgate is an awards veteran, having shepherded "Crash" to a best picture win in 2007. And Summit is flush with cash from its "Twilight" franchise, which allowed it to invest in a proper campaign.

Lesson learned: It might be bigger, but Oscar's best picture club is still reserved for candidates who campaign.

Last year's snub of "The Dark Knight" in the best picture category was a key impetus for expanding the field of nominees. Christopher Nolan's dramatic chapter in the Batman franchise seemed as Oscar-worthy as any film but was widely perceived to have fallen just short in the five-picture field.

So how many franchise films made the cut now that 10 slots are available?

Zero. This despite a strong entry in the venerable "Harry Potter" series and a reboot of "Star Trek" from J.J. Abrams that drew raves from critics and a best picture nomination from the Producers Guild of America.

The fact remains that Oscar voters still ghettoize studio franchises to the below-the-line categories. In fact, you have to go back to the third "Lord of the Rings" film in 2003 to find a franchise deemed worthy of a best picture nomination (and win). Ten slots did nothing to change that bias.

Lesson learned: Franchises might rule the business, but the Academy still ignores them.

Oscar Ballot

Here's a printable Oscar ballot from Yahoo...

here's the link:

J.K Rowling accused of plagiarism, again!

'Harry Potter' author hit with plagiarism lawsuit
By Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press Writer

SYDNEY – J.K. Rowling has been named in a lawsuit alleging she stole ideas for her wildly popular and lucrative "Harry Potter" books from another British author. Rowling denied the allegation.

The estate of the late Adrian Jacobs on Wednesday added Rowling as a defendant in a lawsuit it filed in June against Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for alleged copyright infringement, according to a statement released by the estate's representatives, who are based in Australia.

The lawsuit, filed in a London court, claims Rowling's book "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" copied substantial parts of Jacobs' 1987 book, "The Adventures of Willy the Wizard — No. 1 Livid Land." Jacobs' estate also claims that many other ideas from "Willy the Wizard" were copied into the "Harry Potter" books. Jacobs died in London in 1997.

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the fourth book in Rowling's series and was published in July 2000.

Sydney agent Max Markson, who is representing the trustee of Jacobs' estate, Paul Allen, said Rowling was added to the lawsuit after Allen learned that the statute of limitations to sue her had not run out, as previously thought.

"I estimate it's a billion-dollar case," Markson said Thursday. "That'll be the decision of the courts, obviously."

J.K. Rowling said the claim was completely untrue.

"I am saddened that yet another claim has been made that I have taken material from another source to write Harry," she said. "The fact is I had never heard of the author or the book before the first accusation by those connected to the author's estate in 2004; I have certainly never read the book.

"The claims that are made are not only unfounded but absurd and I am disappointed that I, and my UK publisher Bloomsbury, are put in a position to have to defend ourselves. We will be applying to the Court immediately for a ruling that the claim is without merit and should therefore be dismissed without delay."

In June, Bloomsbury said the allegation that Rowling lifted from Jacobs' work was "unfounded, unsubstantiated and untrue." Bloomsbury said Jacobs' estate first approached the company in 2004 with its claims, but was unable to identify any text in the "Harry Potter" books that was copied from "Willy the Wizard."

In a statement, Allen said the estate is also seeking legal advice on whether the Harry Potter films and soon-to-be-opened Harry Potter theme park breach copyright law.

I salute you, Roger Ebert

Clip from the net...

Roger Ebert cannot speak, but still communicates

NEW YORK – Film critic Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak nearly four years ago, when he underwent a tracheostomy, a procedure that opens an airway through an incision in the windpipe, after surgery for cancer in his jaw.

In an interview in the new issue of Esquire magazine, the 67-year-old film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times uses pen and paper and text-to-speech computer software to communicate. He's developed a kind of rudimentary sign language, and he sometimes draws letters with his finger on the palm of his hand.

Ebert had surgery to remove his cancerous thyroid in 2002. He had surgery on his salivary glands in 2003 and on his jaw in 2006. Complications in 2006 led to more surgery and months of recuperation. He lost his ability to speak.

When asked about another operation to restore his voice, Ebert shakes his head.

Ebert has been a film critic for the Sun-Times since 1967. In 1975, he became the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism.

His thumb, pointing up or down, was the main logo of the televised movie review shows he co-hosted, first with Gene Siskel of the rival Chicago Tribune and — after Siskel's death in 1999 — with his Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper.

The Esquire article describes a moment where Ebert begins to type on his computer. He presses a button and the speakers light up. "I've never said this before," the voice says, "but we were born to be Siskel and Ebert." The voice then says: "I just miss the guy so much."

Besides his film reviews, Ebert writes a blog and has published numerous books.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Matt Damon

Stars get starstruck, too
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent
February 17, 2010 12:00 AM

Matt Damon (right), star of Invictus: It was incredible meeting former South African President Nelson Mandela

Everyone is a fan of someone else.

Ordinary folks usually find themselves awestruck in the presence of a celebrity. This writer is no exception and so is Matt Damon. The actor recounted to The Philippine STAR during an interview in Los Angeles the intimate details of his meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela during the filming of his current film Invictus.

“It was incredible. I got to actually bring my kids to see him. It was amazing,” he recalled. Mandela was in a nearby hotel where the film was being shot and he, along with director Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman, were invited separately to have tea with the Nobel Prize laureate whose struggle to unite his country after being elected first black president of South Africa is the subject of Eastwood’s latest masterpiece.

When Matt was asked if he wanted to bring his family with him to the meeting, his exact reply was: “Are you kidding me? Of course! I would love that.”

“The baby couldn’t take her eyes off him — it was incredible! He has an aura!” he continued with his story. “When we got there, we were outside this door and it was like a hotel hallway and there were security guys and we were kind of standing and I was holding my oldest daughter who was two at that time and she turned to me and said, ‘Daddy, who’s behind that door?’ It was the most incredible thing!”

“And when we went in they were just like that. They were just looking at him.” Matt admitted to have been rendered speechless only a few times before in his life and meeting Mandela was one of them. “He was just interacting with the kids. There was nothing more I wanted than exactly what was happening so I just kind of stood out of the way and just let it happen,” he said.

It was also propitious that Matt’s entire family was with him in South Africa at the time the invitation came. He brought his stepdaughter and some of her classmates and teachers to the country for a mini course on Mandela. “I brought my daughter to Robben Island (the island prison where Mandela was unjustly imprisoned for 27 years for fighting against the racist South African regime that instituted the system of apartheid separating white from the black folks) and they studied about him so she knew exactly who he was and she was in awe of him not just because of the aura that he projects but because she actually knew who he was and what he had done.”

Unlike other celebrities who are coy about questions on their personal lives, Matt surprised this writer by voluntarily offering most of the information himself. He couldn’t forget the exact moment when her 10-year-old stepdaughter first met Mandela. “She walked in first and very bravely walked up to him and he said, ‘What is your name?’ and she said, ‘Alexia.’ ‘What a beautiful name for a beautiful girl,’ and she just turned red, like so completely red — oh my God!” exclaimed Matt. “We have pictures of her and him and she was just smiling.”

The actor was beaming about this treasured encounter with Mandela. He was chuckling and smiling — and even imitated how his daughter and Mandela acted during their sweet interaction.

Listening to him talk intimately of his family’s fascinating encounter with Mandela provided an insight into another layer of the handsome actor’s personal life. “My little one is gonna have a picture of herself as a baby on the guy’s lap and it’s just amazing.” He showed us the pictures on his blackberry and told us he used the picture of his stepdaughter and Mandela as his wallpaper.

His close relationship with his kids was never more apparent than at the beginning of our interview when we caught him taking pictures of himself on his blackberry. When I asked him, he said it was for his stepdaughter who was asking where he was at the time.

“The good thing about being an actor…” he offered before correcting himself. “I mean the downside is you work long hours when you work but the upside is when you don’t work, you are just this totally unemployed schmuck who sits around the house all day — which is really great for fatherhood.”

Being home gives him the opportunity to bond with his children, even if he had to give up control of his TV remote to them. “I get to watch a lot of Scooby Doo!” he complained. “And yeah, Disney, God, it’s like crack. They are just ruthless marketers!”

Luckily, he was able to work out a deal with his family. There are times when he is allowed control of the TV remote. “I am allowed to watch my Patriots play every week and an occasional Celtics game. And during the baseball season, I am allowed to see the Red Sox.”

Matt is turning 40 this year and is not ashamed to admit it. He proudly shared the best of advice he received on turning 40. It came, surprisingly from Morgan, one of his favorite actors. “I was in an interview with Morgan, and he asked me, ‘You are about to turn 40?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, in October.’ Then he said, ‘You are just coming into your prime.’ He said that the 40’s was the best decade in his life. That’s when things start really getting good.”

Things started well for the humble star more than a decade ago when he, together with good pal Ben Affleck, took Hollywood by storm with their Oscar-winning blockbuster hit, Good Will Hunting in 2007. That movie was the toast of critics that year and had Titanic did not come destroying all box-office records it stood a good chance at winning the biggest prize.

Matt was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the Oscars that year. He won the latter, sharing the award with Affleck, his co-writer.

After that breakout year, the star went on to have a huge box-office career notably starring in two massive hit franchises: The Bourne Trilogy and Ocean’s Eleven.

But he was never nominated for an Oscar again. “I got all that stuff really early on in my career,” Matt said. Our interview took place a month before this year’s Oscar nominations were announced. “I haven’t been to the awards show in a dozen years. I never got nominated for anything ever again.”

“I thought about it when I did The Departed because I really wanted Marty to win,” he mused. “And I remember when we were making it, I wondered if this is really the one where he finally gets his Oscar. And when he did I was in Miami, where we were living at the time, and I remember sitting on the bed with Lucy (his Argentine wife) watching it and staying up just to see if Marty won. And when he won, we jumped on the bed! We were jumping up and down, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, he won!’”

When The Departed also won for Best Picture, he and his wife “looked at each other and was like, ‘we should have gone to L.A.!’ So I blew it. I am so out of practice that I forgot that I actually could have gone to that one.”

This year, Matt has an opportunity to redeem himself. The actor received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and co-star Morgan Freeman, who played Mandela, was cited for Best Actor.

In Warner Bros.’ powerful Invictus, Matt plays real-life Rugby player Francois Pienaar, who played a central character in the powerful story of reconciliation and forgiveness amidst the turmoil of a disintegrating society.

Inspired by real events, the movie chronicles how Mandela used the unifying element of sports to bring his fractured nation together as one during the most difficult time in South Africa’s history. Heartwarming and inspiring, Invictus has won plaudits from critics and earned Clint Eastwood a Best Director trophy from the National Board of Review.

The movie opens today in theaters.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Name the 10 Oscar best picture nominees...

Quick! Tell me the 10 best picture nominees in 30 seconds or less.
I bet you can't name more than 8!

Let me know how you do. Am trying to complete an article on why i think the Academy had it wrong in expanding this year's list to ten. I can name all ten yes, but it would take me more than a minute and after running some elimination games.

If i can't even remember that a certain picture is nominated, is it even worthy to win?? It's scary because each nominee has equal chances of winning and that the eventual winner may not be the year's best.


Barbara Walters to air last Oscar special this year!

From the net...

Walters' 29th annual Oscar special to be her last

NEW YORK – Barbara Walters says next month's Oscar interview special will be her last, ending a 29-year tradition.

Walters made the announcement Monday on her weekday talk show, "The View." She says she feels like she has "been there, done that."

Walters' farewell Oscar special is tied to ABC's Oscar Awards telecast and will air March 7. It will feature Academy Award Best Actress nominee Sandra Bullock and Best Supporting Actress nominee Mo'Nique, along with a retrospective of past specials.

Walters says she will continue her other annual ABC News special, "The 10 Most Fascinating People," as well as co-hosting "The View" and other assignments.

2009 Oscar nominees' luncheon!

David Germain of AP filed this report...

Oscar nominees share lunch, light and sober talk
By David Germain

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Sandra Bullock spoke of maintaining a good work ethic for years to come. Woody Harrelson spoke of soldiers. Carey Mulligan spoke about bumping butts with Quentin Tarantino.

This season's Academy Awards elite gathered Monday for the annual nominees luncheon, with table talk ranging from weighty matters such as the war on terror to lighter chatter like what to wear to the big show.

Before sharing a meal of poached pear gorgonzola salad, marinated chicken breast and apple tarts, nominees dropped by a news conference to talk about the whirlwind leading to the March 7 Oscar ceremony.

Bullock has been considered the front-runner to win best actress for the football drama "The Blind Side" but said didn't take her nomination for granted.

"Does anybody expect a nomination? I certainly didn't," said Bullock, an enduring box-office draw who had never before been nominated for an Oscar. "I'm really very amazed and thankful to be here, because I'd like to work hard for another 10, 15 years. So if this is what that means, bring it."

Harrelson, a supporting-actor nominee for the homefront war drama "The Messenger," and Jeremy Renner, a best-actor contender for the Iraq war saga "The Hurt Locker," said their roles instilled fresh respect for troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I walk up to any military personnel I can find, and I shake their hand and I thank them for their service," Renner said.

Before "The Messenger," Harrelson said he generally had viewed the war and the troops fighting it in the same light.

"I always kind of lumped it all together, and it wasn't until I had the opportunity through the shooting of `The Messenger' to spend a lot of time with people in the Army that I started to realize how amazing these people are," Harrelson said. "As much as I have come to love the warrior, I still loathe the war."

Harrelson had a concise reply when asked if he ever expected to earn an Oscar nomination for a film released the same year he played a gleeful slayer of flesh-eating fiends in "Zombieland."

"Short answer, no," Harrelson said.

Mulligan, a best-actress nominee for the British drama "An Education," said awards season has been a thrill because of the Hollywood idols with whom she has rubbed elbows, including Bullock and fellow best-actress contenders Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia") and Helen Mirren ("The Last Station").

"They've all been so unbelievably kind and not intimidating," Mulligan said. "You have them on such a pedestal and you think they could be a nightmare if they wanted to because they're so good. And they're just lovely."

Also among the idols she has met is Tarantino, a directing nominee for best-picture contender "Inglourious Basterds." Moments earlier, Mulligan said, she and Tarantino had accidentally bumped butts while milling about among the luncheon crowd.

Bullock, Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe, a best-actress nominee for the Harlem drama "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' By Sapphire," said they have barely started to consider what to wear to the Oscars, one of the world's top fashion bashes.

"It's two weeks away, and my stomach's hurting over it a little bit," Sidibe said. "I'm a little scared."

Contenders posed for the annual Oscar "class picture" — a group photo of all 121 nominees at the luncheon.

The crowd included ex-spouses Kathryn Bigelow, director of "The Hurt Locker," and James Cameron, director of the sci-fi sensation "Avatar." Though the best-picture field was doubled to 10 films this season, the contest for top prize is considered a two-movie race between "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker."

Others on hand included acting nominees George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air"), Morgan Freeman ("Invictus"), Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart") and Colin Firth ("A Single Man").

The Oscar show had its best TV ratings ever when Cameron's blockbuster "Titanic" dominated the awards 12 years ago. Oscar organizers hope that having "Avatar" and hits such as "Up," "The Blind Side" and "District 9" in the mix will coax more viewers to tune in to a show that saw ratings fall to an all-time low two years ago.

"This year, it seems to be more lively, more interesting than it has been in a while," Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told nominees during the luncheon.

Gyllenhaal, a supporting-actress nominee for "Crazy Heart," said she got some valuable advice from brother Jake Gyllenhaal, a past nominee for "Brokeback Mountain," about not letting the Oscars go to her head.

"He said, `There isn't actually anything at the end of the rainbow,'" Gyllenhaal said. "He said, `It's a lot of fun and enjoy it in that spirit. If you make it mean too much more than that, you'll probably go astray.'"

"The Hurt Locker" tops Editors Guild awards!

From the Hollywood Reporter

The editors of “The Hurt Locker,” “The Hangover” and “Up” won the feature-film competitions Sunday at the 60th annual American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“The Hurt Locker” editors Bob Murawski and Chris Innis earned the trophy for a dramatic film, topping a category that included “Avatar,” “District 9,” “Star Trek” and “Up in the Air.”

“Hangover” editor Debra Neil-Fisher, A.C.E. topped the category for comedy or musical, which included nominees “500 Days of Summer,” “Julie & Julia,” “A Serious Man,” and “It’s Complicated.

Editor Kevin Nolting earned the award for best edited animated feature for “Up,” leading a group that included “Coraline” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Additionally, “The Cove” editor Geoffrey Richman won best edited documentary, a category rounded out by nominees “Food, Inc.” and “This is It.”

An Eddie award winner often goes on to win the Oscar for editing. This year, only Eddie winner “The Hurt Locker” is also nominated for an Oscar in the category. The Academy Awards’ editing nominees this year also include “Avatar,” “District 9,” “Inglourious Basterds” and “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

ACE television winners included “30 Rock,” “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Grey Gardens” and “The Deadliest Catch.”

Christopher Guest presented Rob Reiner with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year award.

Paul F. LaMastra, A.C.E. and Neil Travis, A.C.E. were honored with Career Achievement Awards. LaMastra’s career in television editing includes Primetime Emmys for “Caroline?” in 1990 and “Wallenberg” A Hero’s Story” in 1985. Travis won an Oscar and ACE Eddie for “Dances With Wolves.”

Joel McHale of NBC’s “Community” hosted the ceremony.

Art Directors Guild names 2009 winners!

lifted from the hollywood reporter...

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – "The Hurt Locker," "Avatar" and "Sherlock Holmes" were the big feature-film winners at the Art Directors Guild's 14th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards, where they topped the categories for contemporary, fantasy and period film, respectively.

Handed out Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the ADG Awards also honored Warren Beatty with the Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award.

Oscar-winning production designer Terence Marsh -- who earned Oscars for "Oliver!" and "Doctor Zhivago" -- received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The organization's Creative Leadership Award was presented to production designer Michael Baugh.

Malcolm F. Brown, Bob Keene and Ferdinando Scarfiotti were inducted into the Production Designer's Hall of Fame.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Poor Taylor Swift!

Taylor Swift, who i considered before watching her in the movie "Valentine's Day" just an average country singer with a winning packaging and successful formulaic country/pop songs, is being skewered by several heartless critics.

Blame her success for all the negative press she's getting. I thought her debut was terrific (to borrow director Garry Marshall's own description) and she doesn't deserve all these rather harsh, derisive criticisms she's getting.

It's cruel because she is absolutely adorable. Cast against type, she was able to keep up with the rest of the star-studded cast and her turn, though brief and admittedly overly sacharrine, i thought, was quite fun.

When i read fellow blogger Alison Rosen's compilation of the negative write-ups Taylor Swift, i couldn't help but just shake my head in disappointment. Roger Ebert, even though he didn't like the movie, he still singled out Taylor's turn... If only the rest of the haters look past the singer's succesfull musical career and consider this her first break in the movies, maybe they'll be able to find some good and feel some love for the character.

Here's a clip from what Alison wrote:

"Some teen viewers may be drawn by the lure of the two Taylors, but their time onscreen together arguably reps the film's low point," writes Variety's Todd McCarthy regarding Swift's performance alongside onetime boyfriend Taylor Lautner. "Swift, especially, seems entirely undirected, as she jumps around, makes faces and jabbers on inanely. If she's to have a film career, she needs to find a skilled director to tamp her down and channel her obviously abundant energy."

The Observer film critic, Rex Reed, is even more dismissive of Swift's "Valentine's Day" performance than he is of the movie itself: "This labored artifice strings together an 'all-star cast' (by today's dubious definition, anyway)," Reed writes in his review of the Garry Marshall-directed movie, "that runs the gamut from tone-deaf Flavor of the Moment Taylor Swift and movie werewolf Taylor Lautner to veteran Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine."

Even OK! Magazine, which spills endless ink charting Swift's every move, goes for the blond starlet's jugular. OK!'s movie critic, Phil Villarreal, dismisses Taylor as "not an actress," adding that Swift proves such a criticism by putting in a "regrettable" performance. "The movie isn't awful, and nor is it an award winner," Villarreal declares, "unless you count Swift's frontrunner status to add a worst supporting actress Razzie to her shelf full of Grammys." Ouch.

The lone holdout seems to be Time Out New York critic, Joshua Rothkopf, who lauds Swift for, get this, convincingly appearing vacant: "Blond awards-magnet Taylor Swift reveals an unexpected gift for self-deprecating sunniness, chattering vacantly in an elevator to a stranger."

Looks like Swift could really use another sympathy-grabbing interruption. Paging Kanye West!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The cast of "Valentine's Day" (The movie)

Here's my story that came out today...
Stars turn up the romance
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent

MANILA, Philippines - When this writer received an e-mail from Warner Bros. asking me if I wanted to do the junket for its current Valentine offering, the aptly-titled romantic-comedy Valentine’s Day, I didn’t waste a second, didn’t even check my calendar, before immediately shooting back an e-mail confirming my availability.

Who would be crazy enough to say no to the opportunity to interview the likes of Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, the two Jessicas, Alba and Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, and the biggest superstar of all, Julia Roberts? Not me!

It was as an unbelievable opportunity. Seldom does one get the chance to interview any of these stars. And yet, to have them all together in one room for 45 minutes two weekends ago was sort of magical. To be among only about 20 other international journalists in a room with 10 superstars felt extraordinarily good.

Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall ushered us into the ballroom and introduced the stars as they came in and took their designated seats in a slightly elevated platform that had two long tables adorned with cute little bouquets of dark red roses. The roll call was really unnecessary but it added some sort of pageantry in an otherwise already star-studded room. A writer from Romania commented to everyone’s agreement that it felt like being on the Oscar red carpet.

It was an interesting afternoon as the stars opened up about their thoughts on romance, love, plans for Valentine’s and, for Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, his thoughts on being single and the dating scene in a town like L.A. where a person’s looks usually spell the difference between a fleeting one-night-stand and a long-term, more serious relationship.

“I enjoy the challenge,” Jamie said. “Living in L.A. is, you know, you gotta up the ante because am not really married and all that stuff so it’s tough on me sometimes but I (try to) enjoy it. Sometimes I meet a girl and I don’t know who she dated before me so that is like, ‘Hey, you see this, it’s Crystal’ — Oh, please, she owns Crystal! And then, I have to stay hot, too. As long as I stay hot, am cool. When I got a billboard up then I am kinda cool.”

His advice on how to get a date on V-Day: “Just stay hot.”

But a married guy like Ashton would rather eliminate Valentine’s Day altogether. “I actually think that we only have one day in the year to celebrate love,” he mused. “I think that we should have one day to celebrate hate — it’s just like we have to hate everybody that we want to hate on that day and then every other day should be the day that you celebrate love.”

“I’d rather go out on a Tuesday and be perfectly happy with that as Valentine’s doesn’t really matter so much,” he added. Ashton, who has been happily married to Demi Moore for a good number of years now, revealed that he and Demi made an agreement to try not to do something big for each other on V-Day, but instead “share the love with others.”

“There is an organization in New York called Gems Girls ( that helps human trafficking victims and there are a bunch of these girls who have come out of the streets that are now being housed by this organization so we are gonna make all those girls our valentines this year.”

“There’s like 270 girls and we are gonna send them flowers so that they can know that they can be loved by somebody without having them asked for anything in return.”

Ashton and Demi recently launched a charity called Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) to help bring to light the cases of modern-day sex slavery.

On a less serious note, the married women provided the naughty side at the junket.

Asked how they usually celebrate Valentine’s Day, aside from the usual chocolates and flowers, Julia immediately exclaimed, “Sex!”

Jessica A. smiled and nodded. “Am gonna go with Julia, I’d say sex also,” she said.

It just wasn’t all about sex though at the beginning for Jessica A., who shared that she and her future husband, film producer Cash Warren, weren’t exactly physical during their courtship days. The most romantic day for her did not even occur on V-Day, “It would be the day I met my husband,” she said.

“I didn’t sleep at all,” she recalled. “For the first three months, we weren’t physical at all. I just kept staring at him and wondering how this happened. The first day we spent together, we went on a bike ride and tried to do anything so we could keep spending time together. I was like, ‘Wanna go get some licorice at the 7-Eleven?’ I was like doing anything so I can squeeze out another five minutes. Yeah, it evolved into something more but I met my best friend and that was a great day.”

For Jennifer, married to Ben Affleck for nearly five years now, a box of See’s candies would do it for her. “That’s romance,” she said, “I mean, just a gesture, just an acknowledgement.”

To men, like comedian George, however, Valentine’s Day remains a challenge.

“It’s hard to tell how passionate we are because we’re loud when we are sad and loud when we are happy,” he offered. “We are hot blooded and very passionate about everything and I am a little bit disconnected because I am still that guy that gets the card on the day and is writing it on the hood of the car on the way home, so I got a lot of work to do.”

In an interview I had with George a couple of years ago, he recalled the most romantic day of his life: It was the day he received one of his wife’s kidneys. The comedian had a rare genetic condition that caused his kidneys to deteriorate. To survive he needed a donor for a transplant and his wife was his perfect match.

The stars were being funny, alright. Even The Hangover actor Bradley mumbled in a funny way when asked what his worst Valentine’s Day ever was. But the afternoon turned awkward, with a few daring to chuckle politely, after the recently single Jessica B. shared what to her was the most romantic day ever.

“The most romantic day was when I got to work with Jennifer Garner and she beat the s--t out of that piñata. Whew, it was so hot!” she said strangely referring to a scene in the movie where Jennifer’s character takes out a bat and beat to pieces the heart-shaped piñata. The star, who used to date Justin Timberlake, shared that from that day on she had been harboring a “girl crush” on Jennifer. “That’s when my girl crush on her began and it’s all going strong,” she proclaimed. For some inexplicable reason, the sexy actress continued on and said, “I thought we have broken up but we didn’t. It was just a text mistake. So, we’re good.”

Jennifer happily played along with her until director Garry decided to cut into the conversation and volunteered that Jessica B. recently successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

“So, that how she got so thin,” whispered Shirley, who earlier in the interview, drew so much laughter after she decided to switch tables with a journalist from Taiwan and engaged the poor guy in a funny mock interview about the meaning of love in Chinese. The veteran actress was as funny as ever.

Valentine’s Day opens in theaters today.

Ebert's interesting take on "Valentine's Day" (The movie)

It's nice to know that Roger shares my view on Taylor Swift in his review of Valentine's Day...

Interestingly, there's a review (click this link my favorite Allan Diones that sums up the movie in detail...

Valentine's Day

February 10, 2010

I've heard of all-star casts, but "Valentine's Day" has a complete star cast. What did other movies do for talent when this one was filming? It has 21 actors who can be considered stars, and some are very big stars indeed. It's like the famous poster for "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," with a traffic jam of famous faces.

That's the movie's problem. Gridlock. It needs somebody like that tough traffic warden who stands under the L at Wabash and Randolph and fiercely wags her finger at drivers who don't behave. The actors in this movie could populate six romantic comedies with reasonable plots, and a couple of sitcoms. Of course, you'd need scripts. "Valentine's Day" is so desperate to keep all the characters alive, it's like those Russian jugglers who run around, trying to keep all their plates spinning on poles.

I won't even attempt to describe the plot. Nor will I tell you who the characters are and who plays them. Just the names only would come to 63 words, and if I described each character in 20 words, I'd run out of space way before I got to Capt. Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts). I will mention it was nice to see Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo as an old married couple, and it's of interest that two Taylors (Swift and Lautner) had scenes together.

For the rest, words fail me. The structure of the film involves a large number of couples and additional characters who are not in couples. We wake up with them on the morning of Feb. 14, and all of their stories are completed by midnight, and as Ricky used to tell Lucy, there's a lot of 'splainin' to do. Several ancient formulas are employed: (1) Best friends who don't realize they're really in love. (2) Guy who thinks she loves him but she doesn't. (3) Girl who thinks he loves her but he's married. (4) People sitting next to each other on an airplane strike up a conversation. (5) Guy misunderstands phone call, draws wrong conclusion. (6) Fifth grader's first crush.

The most important characters are a florist named Reed (Ashton Kutcher) and his best friend, Julia (Jennifer Garner). They don't have enough screen time to create three-dimensional characters, but at least they get up to two, leaving everyone else stuck at one or below. They're both attractive, but then all 21 stars are attractive, especially if, like me, you think George Lopez is handsome, especially when he smiles. 

There's one peculiarity. Usually in formula pictures with this huge a cast, maybe one couple will be African American, one Latino and one Asian. No such luck. There are no Asians at all. The black characters include a goofy TV sports reporter (Jamie Foxx) and a wise agent (Queen Latifah). Lopez, a Mexican American, is relegated to the role of Kutcher's sidekick (i.e., the Tonto role). There are a lot of Indians in the movie, for instance at the next table in an Indian restaurant, revealing that when Indians are out to dinner, they act just like Indians in a movie comedy.

The form of the movie may remind you wistfully of a much better one, "Love, Actually," which created characters we cared a great deal about. None of the characters here ever get beyond the "Look --There's (Name of Star)" Threshold. You know, when your mind says, Look -- there's Patrick Dempsey! Look -- there's Anne Hathaway! Look -- there's Topher Grace! Wow -- that's Jessica Biel!

"Valentine's Day" is being marketed as a Date Movie. I think it's more of a First-Date Movie. If your date likes it, do not date that person again. And if you like it, there may not be a second date.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How are Oscar Best Picture winners determined?

Here's the answer from AP's Sandy Cohen...
Counting to 10 is complicated for Oscar's best pic
By Sandy Cohen

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – It used to be that picking a best picture Oscar winner was as easy as one, two, three.

Academy members would open their ballots, choose a favorite, and the nominee with the most votes would take home the top Academy Award.

Not this year. It turns out that counting to 10, as in this year's expanded list of 10 best picture nominees, is a lot more complicated.

Final Oscar ballots went out Wednesday to the 5,777 voting members of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Members were asked to mark their singular favorite in each category — except best picture, where they were to rank the 10 nominated films according to their preference. Their favorite film gets a one, their second favorite a two and so on.

Accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm that has tallied Oscar votes for the past 76 years, then employ an old-school method to determine support for the films in the running. The system is also used in some municipal elections nationwide and to determine Oscar nominees each year.

Here's how it works: Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns, partners at PricewaterhouseCoopers, meet in a windowless room in a secret location with the completed Oscar ballots.

They separate the paper ballots into stacks based on the film listed in first place on each one. So, there will be a stack of ballots listing "Avatar" in the first position, another for those ranking "The Hurt Locker" first, another for those listing "Up in the Air" as their first choice, and so on.

The smallest stack will belong to the film with the fewest first-place votes. That movie is then eliminated from contention, and its votes are redistributed among the remaining stacks according to the film listed in second place on each of those ballots.

Still with me?

"It will effectively be an instant-runoff type election," Rosas said, "where we'll sort through the voters' first preferences, and then we'll be looking to determine which film has a 50 percent-plus-one vote majority preference."

Um, yeah.

Rosas and Oltmanns will keep redistributing votes from films with less support to those with more support until one film collects something like 2,889 ballots (if all 5,777 ballots are completed and returned) — or 50 percent of the electorate, plus one — in its stack. It could take several rounds of redistribution to reach that number, and the nominee that does will be the best picture winner.

It may be complicated to understand, but Oltmanns said it's a worthwhile system when picking one winner from 10 nominees. Otherwise a film could win the top prize with just 11 or 12 percent of the overall vote.

"It might be unlikely, but mathematically it would be possible," he said. "When you have 10 contenders for one particular award, the advantage of the preferential balloting system is it really gauges the depth of support among all the people that are voting, or most of the people that are voting."

And forget what you may have heard about a film with more second-place votes winning the best picture Oscar, Rosas said.

"The key is to have the highest number of first-place votes. That will always be the case, because that gives you the highest probability of winning," he said. "Voters' second- or third-place preference or choice may never come into play, depending on what their first was."

The counting begins after 5 p.m. March 2, when all ballots are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Luckily, all we have to do is watch when the results are revealed at the Academy Awards on March 7.

Quentin talks about the cut dialogue with the "Tagalog" punchline....

The link above will take you to a video of the roundtable interview with this year's Oscar-nominated directors.

When Quentin Tarantino was asked if there were scenes in his movie that he desperately wanted but realized just wouldn't work, here is what he said:

"I had piece of dialogue i was extremely proud of when Brad's character Aldo and the Little Man are brought in to deal with Landa (Christoph Waltz' ruthless Nazi character). The way the scene originally started after the Nazis leave, Landa goes, 'Italian? Really? What were you thinking?' And Brad goes, 'I speak a little Italian.' He goes, 'I speak a little Tagalog, but i wouldn't begin to presume i could pass for Filipino. Chico Marx is more convincing. If you had shown up in women's attire, it would've been more interesting.' When i wrote that, I thought that was the funniest... and i was so proud of myself, and i dropped it. It was just - the scene just kind of worked better without it."

Here is a picture of the page on this week's The Envelope magazine...

My interview with Julia Roberts

Here's my story that came out in the Philippine Star today. My byline was missing :( awww...


Pretty Woman grows up
(The Philippine Star) Updated February 11, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - For those who are hoping, no, praying for a sequel to the 1990 runaway hit Pretty Woman, I am afraid I’ve got bad news. Julia Roberts virtually sealed the coffin when she confirmed what would surely break the hearts of many fans who want to see Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis together on-screen again: No, there’ll be no sequel. Nada!

“Nobody wants to see an old hooker!” the Oscar-winning actress exclaimed during the weekend junket for her latest movie, the funny and charming Warner Bros. romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, which opens in theaters across the Philippines tomorrow, Feb. 12.

The subject came to fore because Julia is reuniting with her Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall in this movie. The lovely and very beautiful superstar, whose laughter — that big wide-mouthed expressive laugh that’s been the hallmark of many of her past movie performances — was indeed genuinely real in person. She is part of an impressive ensemble cast that features some of the biggest names in Hollywood today.

“A parade of stars you rarely see any place in America,” was how Garry describes it. It’s like the gods of Hollywood called for a party and every A-list star decided to show up.

Take this list and see if you will not get dizzy just by reading out their names: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane, Topher Grace, Kathy Bates, Bradley Cooper, Hector Elizondo and Shirley Maclaine. Are your eyes spinning now?

And would you believe even Richard Gere would have been in the movie, too, if only he was not tied down to another project? Garry shared that at the end of Pretty Woman he “made a pact” with Richard and Julia that if something comes up “we’ll always get together and we check, ‘would you like to be in this?’ and she’d always say ‘no!’ But we finally got together for this and Richard couldn’t do this!”

The threesome last worked together 10 years ago in another smash hit Runaway Bride which ironically was Julia’s last foray into the romantic-comedy genre. The actress has not appeared in another romantic comedy since then and that fanned speculations that perhaps she was finally done with romantic-comedies.

"It’s not that I am anti-romantic-comedy, which always what ends up being for some reason the favored interpretation of me saying I don’t wanna do some specific things,” she clarified. “I’m not! I like being funny, I like being romantic. It’s just that it’s more challenging and difficult to find scripts that are original or interesting — particularly when you are 41. They become more challenging because the scenarios have to be more original because you can’t just be falling off chairs as amusingly as before and you get hurt when you are older.”
“Garry found this great script that I thought was really refreshing, sweet and touching,” she continued. “And the part that he asked me to play was I thought incredibly appropriate to my sensibilities and how I feel about love and the world and I was more than happy to take the part.”

Julia appears in the movie as US Army Captain Kate Hazeltine, who takes a one day leave from her tour of duty and travels 14 hours to see someone she dearly loves on Valentine’s Day. “One of the things I like about the part is that there is a little mystery about her,” she said of her character. The movie does not reveal who she is meeting up with until the very end and it’s a surprise that is “very sweet and truthful.”

“I just love Garry,” she confided. “I owe him my entire career — and even the bad ones — and every 10 years we get together to work and we play in-between. He and Barbara (Garry’s wife) comes over and visit the kids and he’s just a great person.”

In Valentine’s Day, Julia also reunites with fellow veteran actress Shirley Maclaine, with whom she co-starred in the 1990 female-centered movie Steel Magnolias. That movie brought the then 21-year-old Hollywood newcomer her very first Oscar nomination.

“We were friends in Steel Magnolias when she was just born,” Shirley teasingly recalled. Julia let out her famous laugh at this remark and the room erupted in laughter with her. “And she was contending with a director who did not have a lot of sensitivity,” Shirley continued. “That’s the truth and I was very impressed with how she related to that.”

“Shirley was my savior. We see each other now and then but it’s never enough. So anytime that you can be working with friends — that’s the true reward of being in this business for a long time,” Julia said.

The two have remained friends over the years and it is people like Julia that’s keeping Shirley from retirement. “I admire her for what she’s done in her life this past 20 years — very much so, and (speaking to Julia) you were so good in Duplicity, that picture should have gotten more recognition.”

The 75-year-old actress related that she enjoys “the whole pretense of being someone else for a while. I don’t think I’ll retire. They might retire me but it won’t be my volition…”

“When we did the cemetery scene,” Garry cut in, “Shirley knew many of the people there.” To which, Shirley quipped: “I spoke to them all evening. They were keeping you cool, they were keeping me warm. That was very, very reassuring. Nothing ever dies!”

Julia, sitting right next to Garry, broke into her trademark big laugh again upon hearing Shirley’s witty retort.

arlier during the first part of our interview, Julia showed us her playful side herself when she good-naturedly complained about some candy she received while doing another interview earlier in the day.

“Hello! What are those people thinking?” she asked laughing. “They were shocking! Somebody gave me a little Valentine heart, one of those sweet little candies, and it said — don’t translate this — it said…give me head.”

It wasn’t the candy though that persuaded Julia to do this movie.

Here’s how it happened: “Garry came over to my house,” she said. “I fed you a nice lunch (speaking to Garry) and he said, ‘You have to do it!’ And I was, ‘Okay!’ It was like that.”

The lunch part was all that Garry remembered, though. “It was a very nice lunch, she cooks well!” he exclaimed. “She is quite a mom with the three kids running around!”

Yes. There is a reason why we seldom see Julia on the big screen anymore. Pretty Woman has grown up. But no, you still won’t see her shop on Rodeo Drive. “It’s expensive there,” is all that she says.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt to go on another mission next year!

In an another attempt to resuscitate the once formidable Tom Cruise brand, the actor today announced that he will take on the role of super-spy Ethan Hunt once again. It can be recalled that his last M:I outing ended in disappointment after the public largely avoided the movie as news of the actor's bizaare Oprah appearance and public fights with Matt Lauer and Brooke Shields took the tabloid world in frenzy...

His career has turned cold since then. This summer, Cruise will reunite with his "Vanilla Sky" co-star in the romantic caper "Knight & Day".

Here's Reuter's report...


Cruise takes on "Mission: Impossible IV"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Paramount Pictures on Tuesday said Tom Cruise will star in a new "Mission: Impossible" movie set for release in 2011 and produced by Cruise and J.J. Abrams.

Cruise and Abrams last teamed up in 2006 for "Mission: Impossible III," with Cruise in the role of super agent Ethan Hunt who battles bad guys and saves the world from evil.

The first two "Mission: Impossible" movies made a combined $1 billion at global box offices. The third film's U.S. box office reached $134 million and was considered a mild disappointment by box office watchers, even though it raked in another $264 million overseas proving Cruise's international appeal.

Also, Cruise's public image had been tarnished the preceding year by his staunch defense of his beliefs in Scientology and by an incident in which he jumped on Oprah Winfrey's couch proclaiming his love for actress Katie Holmes.

Following "Mission: Impossible III," Paramount cut its film production ties with Cruise, and the making of a fourth film in the series has been a question ever since.

But Tuesday, Paramount said Cruise and Abrams, who made this past summer's smash hit "Star Trek," dreamed up an original idea for a fourth film and were back together again.

"Tom and J.J. are great talents and we are excited to be working with them to re-launch this legendary franchise," Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey said in a statement.

Screenwriters Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec will write the script, and a director has not yet been named.

AMC to screen all 10 Oscar Best Picture nominees

Hear ye, hear ye!

Movie buffs have another reason to celebrate. AMC, the theater chain, has announced the schedule of their annual Oscar showcase marathon. The event is on its 4th year and will feature all the ten best picture nominees this year.

The screening typically happens on a single day, this year, however, is different. Because the Academy selected ten picture nominees, AMC split the screening into two batches on two successive Saturdays: February 27 and March 6.

Tickets are cheap. Here is the link for more details:

Of the ten nominees, the only movies i haven't seen are "An Education" and "A Simple Man". See you at the cinemas!!!

Monday, February 08, 2010

"Up" wins top Annie award!

report from the net>>>

`Up' wins best animated feature at Annie Awards

LOS ANGELES – The travel adventure "Up" was the winner of the best animated feature at the 37th annual Annie Awards.

"Up" director Pete Docter won the award for directing in a feature production.

Also competing for top honors at the Annies, presented exclusively for animated films, were the musical fairy tale "The Princess and the Frog," the storybook adaptations "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," the dark family tale "Coraline" and the Irish adventure "The Secret of Kells."

All the films, except "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," are nominees for best animated feature film at this year's Academy Awards. "Up" is also nominated for best picture at the Oscars.

"Coraline" and "The Princess and the Frog" won three Annies apiece, including Shane Prigmore for character design in a feature production for "Coraline" and James Mansfield for animated effects for "The Princess and the Frog."

Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach won the Annie for best writing in a feature presentation for "Fantastic Mr. Fox."

The winners of the Annie Awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society, were announced Saturday at a ceremony in Los Angeles.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Channing Tatum's "Dear John" topples Avatar

Sony Pictures' "Dear John" is poised to break "Avatar's" seven-week reign atop the US box office based on estimates gathered by the box office tracking site BoxOfficeMojo.

Channing Tatum is now a certified box office star! Hooray to burnt penises! (If you are wondering what it meant, read the cover story of Details featuring Channing's "painful" story on the set of his latest movie... )

Here are the top 5 movies on Friday, February 5th.

Sony / Screen Gems



Warner Bros.

Buena Vista

Friday, February 05, 2010

Why 3 of my favorites failed to score major Oscar nods!

I haven't posted my reaction to the Oscar nominations announced last Tuesday. Although I correctly predicted 8 of the 10 best picture nominees and 16 out 20 acting nominees, i am still smarting from the exclusion of my favorite "[500] Days of Summer" from the Best Original Screenplay race. I have long accepted the fact that [500] Days... had a long shot at making the best picture list because of its quirky style in filmmaking and that it was a romantic-comedy disguised as a serious film (actually, for me, it was the other way around, but whatever.)

I will soon write my reactions to the nominations and will put out my alternative top ten list containing my favorite movies of 2009.

But before that, i am reprinting below EW's Dave Karger's analysis why three of my favorite movies failed to make a splash at the Oscars...


'(500) Days of Summer,' 'Bright Star,' 'Where the Wild Things Are': What went wrong?
by Dave Karger

Over the last few months I’ve noticed several movies repeatedly popping up in your comments to my OscarWatch posts. Three of those films — (500) Days of Summer, Bright Star, and Where the Wild Things Are — were all but left out of this week’s Academy Award nominations announcement despite mostly positive reviews and strong cult followings. So let’s look at each of these entries and figure out how they went from possible awards bait to eventual also-rans.

The quirky summer comedy was one of the breakouts from Sundance, along with Precious and An Education. It scored three major Spirit Award nominations and two big Golden Globe nods, for Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy, but lost both, even though some prognosticators (like myself) thought it had a shot at the Best Comedy trophy. While it was always a dark horse for one of the ten Best Picture slots, its adorable script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber was considered a top contender for Best Original Screenplay, even earning a Writers Guild nomination alongside A Serious Man and The Hurt Locker. But The Messenger stole its Oscar slot. The fault doesn’t lie with the campaign: Even after Fox Searchlight focused its attention on its late addition, Crazy Heart, it still did right by (500) Days in terms of For Your Consideration ads and industry events. But at the end of the day, the Academy is still an older voting body, and likely didn’t fall for the film’s bittersweet tone as much as all of us fans did.

When it premiered at Cannes, Jane Campion’s period drama was widely considered a return to form for the filmmaker as well as a star-making vehicle for lead actress Abbie Cornish. So why did it only end up with one nomination, for Best Costume Design? In my mind, it was a question of timing and resources. Once the film then played at Toronto, it had several other strong female-driven films to contend with, most notably An Education. And while Cornish dutifully did her PR rounds (including a lovely interview with yours truly), no one could possibly compete with the charm offensive that was the captivating Carey Mulligan. It didn’t help that Bright Star was released relatively early in the season, in September; after a so-so box office showing, many people soon forgot about the film. Plus, Bright Star’s fledgling distributor, Apparition, then put out The Young Victoria, another costume drama with a solid lead female turn, in December, all but shunting Star to the sidelines.

Spike Jonze scored a Best Director nod ten years ago for Being John Malkovich. And his unorthodox adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book started strong, earning a decent $77 million at the domestic box office and landing on the National Board of Review’s top 10. Then it basically disappeared from the awards universe. My hunch is that, as with (500) Days, the stodgier members of the Academy didn’t cotton to the film’s woodsy look, which belied its steep production cost. (If a movie is going to cost a lot of dough, they want to see the money more explicitly on the screen.) Also complicating matters was the Academy’s decision to disqualify Karen O and Carter Burwell’s music from Best Score consideration; many observers believe it was because it was the work of two composers working separately rather than as one team. The moral of the story: If Jonze wants to do his trippy, bizarro thing, the Oscars want it to be for grown-ups.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hilary Swank to return in the Fall with new movie!

From the Hollywood Reporter comes this piece of good news about two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank's new movie that promises to be another Oscar awards contender next year. Hopefully the movie, which also features previous Oscar nominees Mellisa Leo, Minnie Driver, and Juliette Lewis makes decent box office so as not to be ignored during this Fall's awards season. "Amelia" was not really a bad movie, in fact her performance is one of the main reasons why i enjoyed the movie....

Here's the story...

Hilary Swank going to law school in new picture

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Fox Searchlight, which released the Hilary Swank drama "Amelia" in October, is reteaming with the actress even after the film crashed at the box office and was ignored during awards season.

The specialty distributor has acquired North American and select international rights to "Betty Anne Waters," and plans to release the fact-based film in the fall.

Swank stars as a high-school dropout and single mom who puts herself through law school in order to overturn the murder conviction of her brother (Sam Rockwell). The cast also includes Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis and Peter Gallagher.

Tony Goldwyn directed the Omega Entertainment project from a script by Pamela Gray. - entertainment