Monday, February 28, 2011

2011 Oscar winners!

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Director: Tom Hooper - The King's Speech
Best Actor: Colin Firth - The King's Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale - The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo - The Fighter
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World
Best Documentary Feature: Inside Job
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing 4%
Best Documentary Short: Stranger No More
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Best Cinematography: Inception
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Live Action Short: God of Love 11%
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Best Original Song: "We Belong Together" - Toy Story 3
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My complete 2011 Oscar prediction...

A couple of days ago, i made my prediction in the 6 major categories public. Here now is my full list of prediction covering all the categories:

Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Original Screenplay: Inception
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Language Film: Incendies
Best Documentary Feature: Restrepo
Best Animated Short: Day & Night
Best Documentary Short: Stranger No More
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Best Cinematography: Black Swan
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Live Action Short: Na Wewe
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Best Original Song: "If I Rise", 127 Hours
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Summary: My blind, err, stubborn love for The Social Network is most likely gonna haunt me Monday morning. I predict the Facebook movie to win the most Oscars with 5, followed closely by Inception with 4. The Fighter, Alice in Wonderland and Black Swan to get 2 trophies each. Frontrunner The King's Speech winning only for Best Actor, that's it. Excuse me while i light my wishing candles :)

Independent Spirit winners!

Here are the winners from today's Independent Spirit Awards... Most winners were in line with my  predictions except for those noted...

Best Picture: "Black Swan" (I predicted Winter's Bone)
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan" (I predicted Debra Granik of Winter's Bone)
Best Actor: James Franco, "127 Hours
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Best Supporting Actor: John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"
Best Supporting Actress: Dale Dickey, "Winter's Bone"
Best Screenplay: "The Kids Are All Right" (I predicted Winter's Bone)
Best Documentary: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, 'Black Swan'
Best Foreign Film: "The King's Speech"
Best First Feature: "Get Low"

For the following awards, i did not make any prediction:


Best First Screenplay: Lena Dunham, "Tiny Furniture"
John Cassavetes Award: "Daddy Longlegs"
Robert Altman Award: "Please Give"

Shyamalan finally earns his Razzie!

`Last Airbender' rules Razzies as worst picture (AP)
Sunday, February 27, 2011 3:46:57 AM Pacific Standard Time, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - The action fantasy "The Last Airbender" — about people who can command fire, air, water and earth — now controls something else: the Razzie awards for Hollywood's worst film achievements of 2010.

"The Last Airbender" led Saturday's Razzies with five awards, among them worst picture, worst director and worst screenplay for M. Night Shyamalan.

The movie also received Razzies for worst supporting actor (Jackson Rathbone, who was cited for both "The Last Airbender" and "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse") and for a special award, worst eye-gouging misuse of 3-D.

A spoof of the Academy Awards, the Razzies were announced the night before the Oscars, Hollywood's biggest party.

"Sex and the City 2" took three Razzies, including worst actress, a prize shared by co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, worst screen couple or ensemble for its entire cast, and worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel.

Ashton Kutcher was picked as worst actor for "Killers" and "Valentine's Day," while Jessica Alba took the Razzie as worst supporting actress for four 2010 releases, "The Killer Inside Me," "Little Fockers," "Machete" and "Valentine's Day."

Shyamalan has been on a downward spiral since 1999 Oscar best-picture contender "The Sixth Sense," which earned him directing and writing nominations at Hollywood's highest honors. He won Razzies as worst director and worst supporting actor for his 2006 fantasy flop "Lady in the Water."

Despite terrible reviews, "The Last Airbender" managed to find a decent audience, pulling in $300 million worldwide at the box office. Shyamalan adapted the movie from the animated TV series "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

"He managed to take a cartoon property and make it even less lifelike by making it with real actors," said Razzies founder John Wilson. "Most people who like the show, and this would include my 14-year-old son, hated the movie. It made no sense whatsoever."

"The Last Airbender" was among movies that critics knocked for smudgy, blurry 3-D images. The movie was shot in 2-D and converted to digital 3-D to cash in on the extra few dollars theaters charge for 3-D screenings.

"They call it converted. We call it perverted," Wilson said. "The more times you trick the public and charge them that fee and don't really deliver, eventually it's going to be like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football. Fool me ten times, I'm done."

Wilson said the characters of "Sex and the City 2" were getting too old to cavort the way they do, calling the movie "`The Expendables,' but with estrogen," referring to Sylvester Stallone's tale about aging action heroes.

"Sex and the City 2" also was offensive, Wilson said, showing Parker and her gal pal co-stars disrespecting Arab culture on a trip to Abu Dhabi and flaunting their privileged ways.

"It was released in the middle of a period of American history when everyone's scrounging not to lose their homes, and these women are riding around in Rolls-Royces, buying expensive shoes and just throwing money around like they're drunk," Wilson said.
___
http://www.razzies.com

Bloggers who leaked Oscar script censured, banned!

I applaud this move by the Academy to ban and i hope permanently banish this wannabe wikileaks-style blogger who leaked the Oscar script... See the story i culled from the web below...


Oscars ban blogger after spoilers published
Sat Feb 26, 9:25 pm ET

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The Motion Picture Academy has banished a writer for the controversial blog Deadline.com from the Oscars ceremony in response to a series of posts revealing details about the upcoming show.

Michael Fleming, a New York-based film blogger, had his press credential revoked after his boss, Deadline.com editor Nikki Finke, published a series of Oscar "spoilers," including a full rundown revealing everything planned for the February 27 telecast of the world's top film awards.

The spoilers, which were initially published along with derogatory statements suggesting the telecast would be boring (though the derogatory language was later deleted), prompted the Academy to take action against the website.

Academy spokesperson Leslie Unger declined to comment on the ousting, but sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Fleming's backstage press credential has been revoked as punishment for the breaches of secrecy surrounding the show. The spoilers prompted a backlash of sorts on Twitter, where commenter's questioned Finke's rationale for revealing the schedule and called her actions unethical.

Finke wrote on her MMC-owned blog that she had lodged a formal complaint with Unger.

When asked about the leaks at Saturday's Spirit Awards, Oscar host James Franco told THR, "Oh well! It's just a monologue." Admitting he had not heard about it yet, Franco concluded, "I guess I'll hear the fallout when I get over there (Oscar rehearsal)!"

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

2011 Oscar telecast spoilers from Deadline's Nikki Finke...

First let me say that i seriously doubt the accuracy of this supposed spoiler but Nikki has the audacity of printing them and i don't know how this will impact her standing in the business... Seriously, she has no business writing snarky comments on a show that hasn't broadcast yet --- specially when she makes her living out of writing about Hollywood... 

Here's her complete rundown of tomorrow night's scheduled presentation --- am reprinting them to make sure i have a copy should she is proven wrong...

Stop reading after this sentence if you don't want to know how the show will transpire (according to Nikki's spy, hahaha...)

***


I've obtained the annotated schedule for Sunday night's 83rd Academy Awards show and what's confirmed at this point looks to be yet another snorefest from the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences airing on ABC and in 200 countries around the globe. Here will be the highlights or lowlights depending on your point of view when it comes to the overly long and usually boring Oscars telecast: Steven Spielberg will award Best Picture ... Hilary Swank and Kathryn Bigelow will hand out Best Director ... Hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway pop up almost every minute and make at least 5 wardrobe changes and open the show with one of those Billy Crystal-originated films putting themselves into scenes from all the 10 nominated movies ...

UPDATE: A "Guest Host" will perform a monologue about 2/3s of the way into the show and the person isn't identified and every insider isn't talking -- but I bet it's Billy Crystal (which could make these Oscars worth watching)* ... Florence (of Florence And The Machine) will perform with A.R. Rahman the 127 Hours song "If I Rise" ... Celine Dion will sing "Smile" during the In Memoriam segment ... A tribute to Lena Horne will be presented by Halle Berry ... So-called 'Scenic Transitions' to Hollywood's past will consist of virtual reality lookbacks (at the very first Oscars, the films Gone With The Wind and Lord Of The Rings, movie music from The Silent Era and Broadway Melody and THX, the first televised Academy Awards in black & white, and Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood) ... New writers will join Bruce Vilanch and John Mack including Grammy Awards vet David Wilde and Judd Apatow-regular Jordan Rubin ... Presenters won't have to read those lame jokes ... UPDATE: The student choir from the New York City/Staten Island School PS 22 student choir is going to close the show by singing "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard Of Oz ...* These are pretty much the only interesting moments awaiting the audience Sunday when the show airs starting at 5 PM and continues for what feels like an eternity.

There's also a lot you won't see, like any live singing and dancing numbers involving both Hathaway and Franco together. One planned Oscar number where James Franco in drag was to sing the Cher song from Burlesque -- "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me" -- had to be scrapped not only because the song wasn't nominated but also because show producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer decided that Franco's singing was too horrible. "You only have to hear the tape to learn why it was scrubbed," an insider explained to me. Franco even tweeted an audio-only link to his awful rehearsal where he apologizes repeatedly (click box to listen).

On the other hand, Franco subsequently tweeted this outtake clip showing he and Hathaway rehearsing a dance scene from Grease.

Meanwhile, it's bizarre that, breaking from tradition, neither 2010 winners Mo’Nique nor Christoph Waltz won't be presenting the Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories according to the official sked. UPDATE: I've found out that Mo'Nique refused to be a presenter even though she was repeatedly asked, while Waltz is overseas filming.*

And even though Internet reports claimed performance artist/graffiti painter/political activist Banksy, who is supposedly the director of the film Exit Through The Gift Shop nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, was banned from attending the awards in disguise (he wanted to come dressed as a monkey), Academy president Tom Sherak tells Deadline that's not true. Noting how competitive almost all the categories are this year, including Documentary, Sherak said, "The media is making it exciting with all the questions about Banksy. I think it’s all good and if he shows up, he shows up. I won’t stop him."

So here's the show rundown, according to the annotated schedule I've obtained (barring any last-minute changes). And check out my Oscars Live-Snarking on Sunday night:

Hosts James Franco (127 Hours and a Best Actor nominee this year) and Anne Hathaway (Love And Other Drugs) will open the show with a Billy-Crystal-originated comedic filmed piece where they appear in scenes from the year's 10 Best Pictures real or not. Then they welcome the audience in the first "Scenic Transition" -- this one, from the 1939 movie Gone With The Wind.

Tom Hanks is the first presenter, handing out the Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography Oscars. But almost all the other Academy Award presenters are stars from 2010's crop of movies or upcoming 2011 pics.

Next comes the Best Supporting Actress Oscar but the presenter's name is not on the rundown.

Justin Timberlake (The Social Network) and Mila Kunis (Black Swan) present the Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short Film Oscars.

The next "Scenic Transition" takes audiences back to the very first first Academy Awards ceremony held on May 16, 1929, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honor the 1927/1928 film season. That segues to Javier Bardem (Biutiful) and Josh Brolin (True Grit) awarding the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay Oscars.

Franco and Hathaway appear in what's described as a "performance comedy" with a wardrobe change of gowns and tuxedos.

Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek) and Helen Mirren (Red) present the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Then comes Reese Witherspoon (How Do You Know) to hand out the Supporting Actor Oscar.

Academy President Tom Sherak next comes out onto the Kodak Theatre stage to talk.

Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) and Hugh Jackman (2011's Real Steel and host of the 81st Academy Awards) are onstage for the "Scenic Transition Sound" into the Silent Era then Broadway Melody then THX and a past film score medley with the orchestra. Kidman and Jackman hand out the Best Original Score Oscar.

Next, Matthew McConaughey (2011's The Lincoln Lawyer) and Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2) present the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing Oscars.

Marisa Tomei (Cyrus) comes out to present the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Sci-Tech Awards recap.

Anne Hathaway is shown in a tux. Which leads to the next "Scenic Transition" -- to the franchise Lord Of The Rings featuring its co-star Cate Blanchett (Robin Hood) who presents the Best Makeup and Best Costume Design Oscars.

There's an interlude of "Movie Music I Remember" introduced by Kevin Spacey (Casino Jack).

Next are the start of the Best Songs performances with Randy Newman performing "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3, followed by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi and Alan Mencken performing "I See The Light" from Tangled.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Prince Of Persia, Love And Other Drugs) and Amy Adams (The Fighter) present the Best Documentary Short Subject and Best Live Action Short Film Oscars.

Anne Hathaway and James Franco do a comedy bit together in another wardrobe change -- their 3rd.

Oprah Winfrey presents Best Documentary feature. Meanwhile, her BFF Gayle King will be backstage doing live interviews.

Anne Hathaway introduces a Guest Host (not ID'ed), which leads into another "Scenic Transition" -- the first televised Oscars in black & white. The Guest Host does a monologue.

2011's Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows' co-stars Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man 2, Due Date) and Jude Law (Repo Men) present the Best Visual Effects and Flm Editing Oscars.

Anne Hathaway makes her 4th wardrobe change.

Jennifer Hudson introduces the performance of the 3rd nominated song, "If I Rise" from 127 Hours, performed by Florence Welch (of Florence And the Machine) with A.R. Rahman. (Dido isn't doing it...) Followed by the 4th nominated song, "Coming Home" from Country Strong, sung by Gwyneth Paltrow. Then Hudson presents the Best Original Song Oscar.

Celine Dion and the William Ross-conducted orchestra perform "Smile" during the In Memoriam segment. Following is a Lena Horne tribute introduced by Halle Barry. And then a wide shot in the house with quote.

The Best Director Award will be presented by Hilary Swank (Conviction) and last year's winner (and first female to do so) Kathryn Bigelow.

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) introduces the Governors Awards package held in a separate ceremony on November 14th, with the honorees introduced onstage: actor Eli Wallach, film historian/preservationist Kevin Brownlow, and director/producer/screenwriter and Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award recipient Francis Ford Coppola. The 4th honoree, French director Jean-Luc Godard declined to attend the Governors Awards or the Oscars.

Seque into still another "Scenic Transition" -- Grauman's Chinese Theater, scene of many big movie premieres and where the stars's hands and feet and signatures are memorialized in cement.

Last year's Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges (True Grit) presents the Best Actress Oscar.

Anne Hathaway undergoes her 5th wardrobe change.

Last year's Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock presents the Best Actor Oscar.

Steven Spielberg presents the Best Motion Picture Oscar.

Then comes the finale with Franco and Hathaway saying their goodnights. The End (mercifully).

Polanski, 'Social Network' win top Cesars!

Murdered monks movie wins top French film award
Fri Feb 25, 7:46 pm ET

PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – "Of Gods and Men," a film about the unsolved murder of French monks during Algeria's brutal civil conflict in the 1990s, won best film on Friday in France's annual version of the Academy Awards.

Director Roman Polanski and "The Social Network" were also honored with "Cesars," -- the French answer to the Oscars.

"Of Gods and Men", a somber film based on the true story of the last days of seven monks in an Algerian monastery, clinched a total of three Cesars.

The seven members of a Trappist order lived in a monastery in Tibehirine south of Algiers and disappeared in 1996 during a savage wave of killings by both Islamist militants and government forces.
Only their severed heads were ever recovered and the exact circumstances of their deaths remain unclear.

The film focuses on the rhythms of monastic life and how the men face up to the growing threat of violent death as civil conflict escalates around them. It also tackles universal themes of faith and religious tolerance.

The film's director, Xavier Beauvois, used his acceptance speech to appeal for openness toward Muslims ahead of France's 2012 presidential elections.

"I don't want people to say bad things about Muslims in the upcoming electoral campaign. I want us to be together with them, that's the lesson of this film," he said.

The film was also awarded best film score and Michael Lonsdale was named best supporting actor for his role as the monastery's doctor.

Polanski was named best director for his film "The Ghost Writer," a political thriller which won a total of four awards.

The French-Polish director spent several months last year under house arrest in Switzerland but avoided extradition to the United States in connection with a 1977 sex crime.

Acclaimed U.S. director Quentin Tarantino, who made such films as "Pulp Fiction" and "Jackie Brown," was handed an honorary Cesar.

The best foreign film went to the Facebook movie "The Social Network," which is also competing for Oscars at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Indie Spirit awards predix...

Best Picture
Winner: Winter's Bone
Alternate: Black Swan

Best Director
Winner: Debra Granik, Winter's Bone
Alt: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Best First Feature
GET LOW

Best Screenplay
Winner: DEBRA GRANIK, ANNE ROSELLINI, Winter’s Bone

Best Female Lead
Winner: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Alt. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Best Male Lead
Winner: James Franco, 127 Hours
Alt. Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole

Best Supporting Female
Winner: DALE DICKEY, Winter’s Bone

Best Supporting Male
Winner: JOHN HAWKES, Winter’s Bone

Best Foreign Film
Winner: THE KING'S SPEECH, Tom Hooper

Best Documentary
Winner: EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, Banksy

Best Cinematography
Winner: MATTHEW LIBATIQUE, Black Swan
Alt. ADAM KIMMEL, Never Let Me Go

The Hunger Games casting news

THIS STORY IS CULLED FROM THE WEB...


Will Alex Pettyfer be "The Hunger Games'" "boy with the bread"?

Casting for the big screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' beloved novel is still undecided, but Alex told Access Hollywood that he's met with producers about the role of Peeta Mellark.

"Yes I did," Alex told Access on Thursday at the "Beastly" premiere in Los Angeles when asked about the role of Katniss Everdeen's closet ally in the story that pits children against each other in a competitive duel to the death.

"Yes, but undecided yet, still [waiting] to see a script," Alex added.

In January, "True Grit" star Hailee Steinfeld told Access that she'd love a shot at playing the dynamic Katniss.

"That's... I mean... fingers are crossed," Hailee told Access at the time about the lead character. "Fingers crossed!"

"The Hunger Games," is slated to hit theaters on March 23, 2012.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Want to steal an Oscar?

Here's where to find them according to this article... (just kidding about the stealing part!)

* * *
Where the Stars Stash Their Oscars
The Hollywood Reporter

The most popular spot to stash an Oscar? The bathroom!

In honor of the 83rd annual Academy Awards (taking place Feb. 27), The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at the surprising places stars store their statues:

Susan Sarandon (Best Actress, Dead Man Walking, 1995): For years she kept it in the guest bathroom of her home - along with all of her other award hardware. Now, she tells THR it’s on tour with the Gold exhibit organized by The Museum of Natural History. Says Sarandon, "I haven’t seen it in a few years."

Robin Williams (Best Supporting Actor, Good Will Hunting, 1997): He keeps his Oscar in his home in Tiburon, Calif. - sandwiched between two Screen Actor Guild awards. “They stand on either side,” he tells THR. “So they have security.”

Timothy Hutton (Best Supporting Actor, Ordinary People, 1980): He once told USA Today his sister thought it would be a good idea to keep his Oscar in the refrigerator. “She thought that would be kind of funny to put the Oscar in the refrigerator when people would go grab a beer or something ... It's still there."

Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress, Walk the Line, 2005): After winning her Oscar, she told People magazine she considered making it into a door knocker or a necklace, "but neither one of those options was very practical. I just keep it in my living room."

Jodie Foster (Best Actress, The Accused [1988], The Silence of the Lambs [1991]): She used to keep hers in the bathroom "because they looked good with the faucets," she has said. "But when they started getting corroded on the bottom, I had to move them to a trophy case in my den."

Catherine Zeta Jones (Best Supporting Actress, Chicago, 2002): She has kept her Oscar in a hot spot. "He's in our home in Bermuda," she once told InStyle. "I figured that not many Oscars have lived there. Of course, everyone who visits wants a photograph with him."

Holly Hunter (Best Actress, The Piano, 1994): She told Oprah Winfrey earlier this year that she keeps her award at filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen's office in New York - along with actress Frances McDormand's Oscar for her Best Actress role in Fargo. "It's all just one big happy family," Hunter said.

Cuba Gooding Jr. (Best Supporting Actor, Jerry Maguire, 1996): "For six years it was in our old house in Coldwater Canyon," he has said. "We had a wine cabinet, and it sat behind the glass on one of the shelves. People would say, 'Is that it?' The cabinet was temperature controlled because of the wine, so the Oscar stayed beaming new. Now that I keep it out in the open in my screening room, it has become tarnished—which is kind of cool. It's starting to age and get character. Like me."

Cate Blanchett (Best Supporting Actress, The Aviator, 2005): She doesn't keep her statue in one place. She once told InStyle, "It's been in the study recently. It moves around a bit like my family and I do. I don't look at it every day though. Life goes on."

Kate Winslet (Best Actress, The Reader, 2009): It's in her bathroom so guests "can sneakily have a little [hold] and put it back down again," she said last year on the UK TV show GMTV. "…Basically everybody wants to touch it, everybody wants to hold it and go 'Oh, my gosh,' and 'How heavy is it?' So I figured if I put it [in there], then people can avoid the whole, 'Where's your Oscar?' thing."

Tom Hanks (Best Actor, Philadelphia [1993], Forrest Gump [1994]): "Where are they now? They are on the family trophy shelf, next to the soccer trophies," he has said. "I think the World's Greatest Mom trophy from Mother's Day is up there as well."

Hilary Swank (Best Actress, Boys Don’t Cry [1999], Million Dollar Baby [2004]): "They're in the family room – on a great shelf, next to my books," she once said.

Emma Thompson (Best Actress, Howard's End, 1992): Yup, she stores her statue in the bathroom too. “They look far too outré anywhere else," she has told Time. "They're great big, gold, shiny things. They're up there tarnishing quietly along with everything else I own, including my body.”

Anna Paquin (Best Supporting Actress, The Piano, 1994): Asked where she stores her statue, she told Playboy in 1999, "In the bottom of my closet, gathering dust."

Hollywood Reporter picks the 2011 Oscar winners

"King's Speech," "Social Network" lead Oscar picks
By Stephen Galloway

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Who will take home Oscar statuettes on Sunday. Based on behind-the-scenes info, The Hollywood Reporter picks the winners in the key races.

BEST PICTURE - "The King's Speech"

Three factors favor the Weinstein Co. film over its only serious rival, "The Social Network":

Precedent: "Speech" scored wins at the producers, directors and screen actors guild awards. True, it lost to "Social Network" at the Golden Globes, but the Globes are hardly a litmus test for the Oscars anymore.

Voters' Ages: Academy members average out at 57, meaning they're far more likely to identify with "Speech's" middle-aged heroes than "Social's" young cast.

The Voting System: In the Best Picture race, voters rank the 10 nominees in order of preference; if no movie gets more than 50 percent of first-place votes, the bottom vote-getters are eliminated and their votes transferred. So it's important to be placed second and third on lots of ballots, rather than just be No. 1. Being widely liked counts more than being deeply loved. And a whole lot of voters really like "Speech."

ACTOR - Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"

A year after he lost to Jeff Bridges (Firth was up for "A Single Man," Bridges for "Crazy Heart"), the two are in competition again. This time, Firth is a lock. He has scooped all the major awards so far, and there's little chance he'll lose when the Oscar envelope is opened. Among the other nominees, Javier Bardem is too dark in "Biutiful," Jesse Eisenberg too young in "Social Network" and James Franco's actions in "127 Hours" just too plain gruesome.

ACTRESS - Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"

Many insiders believe Annette Bening will win for "The Kids Are All Right," thanks to the support of the Academy's older voters. She'll be helped by her place on the board of governors, respect for her body of work and sympathy for three previous losses. But other veterans have lost to fresher faces: Remember Marion Cotillard's win over Julie Christie in 2008 and Juliette Binoche's over Lauren Bacall in 1997? It's a close race, but Portman has the showier role; that and the fact that she won the SAG Award get her the Oscar.

DIRECTOR - David Fincher, "The Social Network"

He lost at the DGA, but he's our pick for the Oscars. Why? The DGA has a huge TV contingent; they respected Tom Hooper's craftsmanship on "Speech," but Fincher's visual mastery means more with the Academy. Bad sign for Hooper: Even BAFTA opted for Fincher over his British rival.

SUPPORTING ACTOR - Christian Bale, "The Fighter"

Play ugly, play period and play with an accent. Bale does all three in "The Fighter." Add the fact that he's won nearly every other award, except BAFTA, and he's a lock. "Speech's" Geoffrey Rush won in 1997 for a more memorable lead role in Shine, but that will work against him as the Academy rarely gives actors a second Oscar.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"

Did Leo's weird, self-financed ads showing her in a fur coat by a pool ultimately hurt her? Maybe, but they were also rather touching. She might split votes with her "Fighter" colleague Amy Adams, and a "Speech" sweep could help Helena Bonham Carter, but Leo remains the favorite.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"

Come on, who else stands a chance? When Sorkin won the WGA Award it was clear he was unstoppable. Objections that all of his characters in the movie sound the same pale against the fact that he made a business story about a computer nerd into a hugely compelling psychodrama.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY - David Seidler, "The King's Speech"

"Inception" got the WGA nod, but Seidler wasn't eligible for that award. Even though some believe Christopher Nolan will get a consolation prize after failing to earn a directing nomination, they're wrong: "Speech" is a virtual lock here, helped by older voters who identify with Seidler's age, 73, and his great back story: Like his hero, the writer had a stutter as a youth.

AP critics predict the 2011 Oscar winners!

AP critics split on Oscar best picture winner
By David Germain And Christy Lemire

LOS ANGELES – Associated Press Movie Writers David Germain and Christy Lemire agree on who will win five of the six top categories at Sunday's Academy Awards, but they are divided on the biggest of all.

Germain predicts "The King's Speech" will be crowned best picture, while Lemire picks "The Social Network." They both agree David Fincher will earn the directing Oscar for "The Social Network."

Here are their predictions, with both sounding off on best picture, Lemire offering their take on best actor and director, and Germain giving their opinion on best actress, supporting actor and supporting actress.
___

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "127 Hours," "The Social Network," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit," "Winter's Bone."

GERMAIN:

The British monarchy has staying power, and so does "The King's Speech." It seemed the early favorite after premiering late summer at film festivals, but the it was relegated to also-ran status once "The Social Network" debuted and began its near-sweep of critics' honors.

Then guilds representing directors, actors and producers — whose memberships have a lot of overlap with Oscar voters — dethroned "The Social Network" by giving their top awards to "The King's Speech."

There's still a chance "The Social Network" could pull off an upset. It's a biting commentary on the here-and-now, masterfully written, produced and performed.

But "The King's Speech" is a virtually flawless work — elegant yet enormously entertaining, regal yet slyly amusing, momentous yet deeply personal. It's a tale of unlikely camaraderie among the highborn and the common folk and, surprisingly, an Everyman story whose Everyman just happens to be the king of England.

Old-time costume dramas such as "The King's Speech" used to rule the Oscars, but edgy contemporary stories such as "The Social Network" have taken over in recent years. In a once-and-future-king swing back to historical pageants, "The King's Speech" will reign come Oscar night.

LEMIRE: "The King's Speech" is a gorgeous film, but it's also a very safe film. It hits all the notes you expect it to hit and does so beautifully. They may as well hand out checklists at the door for all the elements that tend to appeal to Oscar voters: It's about the British monarchy, it's historical, it focuses on a character overcoming adversity.

"The Social Network," meanwhile, is daring from its first moments. It grabs you with Aaron Sorkin's smart, snappy dialogue. It moves you with David Fincher's fluid, virtuoso directing. It takes topics that might have seemed alienating and complicated — computer coding and competing lawsuits — and makes them vibrant and almost sexy. It pulsates with energy, leaps off the screen with bold performances, and it couldn't be more contemporary.

Who isn't on Facebook? You probably found our Oscar picks because someone you're "friends" with posted them there.

"The Social Network" was the early favorite to win the best picture Oscar because it truly is the best picture of the year, and the best picture for our times.
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BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees: Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan"; David O. Russell, "The Fighter"; Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"; David Fincher, "The Social Network"; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "True Grit."

LEMIRE: No one else but David Fincher could have directed "The Social Network." Aaron Sorkin's dense, sprawling script required a deft hand; his words, and his complex, "Rashomon"-style structure bring out the inherent sense of movement in Fincher's directing style.

Technically, this is the least show-offy film Fincher has ever made. "The Social Network" is all about character, the drama of evolving relationships, the way greed and ambition bring people together and tear them apart. And yet he pulls off a signature Fincher-ish feat in his depiction of the Winklevoss twins, played by one actor — the commanding and charismatic Armie Hammer — in two separate roles.

Even if — heaven forbid — "The King's Speech" is named best picture, it seems unlikely that Tom Hooper would get best director, even though he won that honor at the Directors Guild Awards, which traditionally are an excellent predictor of Oscar success.

Directing "The Social Network" simply feels like the more impressive achievement.
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BEST ACTOR

Nominees: Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"; Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"; Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"; Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"; James Franco, "127 Hours."

LEMIRE: Colin Firth takes what could have been a mawkish, heavy-handed role — that of England's King George VI, overcoming a lifelong stammer with the help of his unorthodox speech therapist — and he makes it funny yet biting, subtle yet heartbreaking. He humanizes a figure who would otherwise seem aloof and remote, and makes him flawed and recognizably human.

Firth has demonstrated tremendous range over nearly three decades as an actor, from comedies such as the original "Fever Pitch," "Love Actually" and the "Bridget Jones" movies to the dramas "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and "Where the Truth Lies" to even a fantasy ("Nanny McPhee") or a musical ("Mamma Mia!").

He was deeply moving in a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor last year — that of a gay man mourning the death of his longtime partner in "A Single Man" — and he would have won if Jeff Bridges hadn't also been competing in the category, and had it not been Bridges' time to win, finally, for "Crazy Heart."

Now, it's Firth's time.
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BEST ACTRESS:

Nominees: Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"; Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"; Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"; Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine."

GERMAIN:

At least Annette Bening will not lose this time to Hilary Swank, who has won in two of the three years that Bening previously had Oscar nominations.

Swank missed out on a nomination for her sturdy role in "Conviction," and Bening probably would be a lock to win were it not for a career performance by Natalie Portman as a ballerina going bonkers in "Black Swan."

Portman just loses herself in the role and sucks the audience in after her as her character spirals into a fantastic world of delusion. It's one of those showy roles too irresistible to pass up for academy members, whose acting branch is the largest block of voters.

Hollywood would love to give veteran Bening an Oscar, so she and hubby Warren Beatty can have a matching set. And Bening is very deserving as a stern, sardonic yet loving mom whose same-sex spouse cheats on her in "The Kids Are All Right."

But this is a year when Portman's cuckoo bird beats Bening's cuckolded lesbian.
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SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Nominees: Christian Bale, "The Fighter"; John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"; Jeremy Renner, "The Town"; Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"; Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech."

GERMAIN:

Christian Bale used to talk about how he envied the late Heath Ledger on the set of "The Dark Knight." As the Joker, a role that won Ledger a posthumous Oscar two years ago, Ledger got to carom around with wicked abandon in a supporting role while Bale had to remain all anal and repressed in the title role as Batman.

With "The Fighter," it was Bale's turn to carom in the supporting role. As boxer-turned-drug-abuser-and-criminal Dicky Eklund, Bale bobs and weaves and rants and brays around lead player Mark Wahlberg. Bale jabbers and pulsates with a ferocity that's truly surprising given the many stoic, tightly wound roles he has played.

He faces superb competition. Mark Ruffalo's prince of laid-back charm in "The Kids Are All Right," John Hawkes nearly out-Bales Bale for quiet menace in "Winter's Bone" and Geoffrey Rush practically steals "The King's Speech," a huge accomplishment given how extraordinary Colin Firth is in the title role.

But Bale does steal "The Fighter" from Wahlberg in the same way Ledger stole "The Dark Knight" from him. And now Bale will follow fallen pal Ledger as an Oscar winner.
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SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees: Amy Adams, "The Fighter"; Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"; Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"; Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"; Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom."

GERMAIN:

Melissa Leo just would not go quietly, the way most moderately successful actresses do once they hit 40.

After presumably peaking as a regular on TV's acclaimed "Homicide: Life on the Street" in her 30s, Leo surged back in her late 40s and now 50s with two Oscar nominations, including this one for her role as the overbearing matriarch of a boxing clan in "The Fighter."

Actors love her, figuring if she can do it, why not them? Some may love her a little less after Leo paid for her own Hollywood trade ads to rustle up Oscar votes, a move that generally smacks of desperation.

But backlash from Leo's ads won't deprive her of an Oscar. Hailee Steinfeld will.

With a remarkable film debut, 14-year-old Steinfeld has vaulted into the ranks of child stars. Just like her character — a precocious teen who hires a lawman to track her father's killer in "True Grit" — Steinfeld shows poise and self-possession far beyond her years.

And this is the one category where both debut performances and child actors have had Oscar success. The youngest actors to win Oscars — 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal for "Paper Moon," 11-year-old Anna Paquin for "The Piano" and 16-year-old Patty Duke for "The Miracle Worker" — all earned their awards as supporting actress.

Steinfeld is about to join them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My 2011 Oscar predictions!

Ready for the Oscars?
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) 

At the conclusion of our roundtable interview with Christian Bale last December during the press junket for The Fighter, just as the actor was about to stand up and leave the room, one journalist, who was still visibly struck by the immense power of Christian’s performance in the movie, quietly told him: “See you at the Oscars.”

Christian, who was uncharacteristically chatty that day, smiled and quickly said in retort, “Why, are you gonna be there? I’ll be watching you through my living room TV,” he told the journalist still smiling.

We know that wouldn’t be true anymore come Sunday evening (Monday morning in Manila). He wouldn’t be cozily lounging in his living room watching the ceremony on TV — he will be inside the Kodak Theater as he is tipped to collect his first Oscar trophy in a stellar career that has spanned nearly 25 years.

The actor who shot to fame as a child actor in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 war epic Empire of the Sun is the frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actor category for his gutsy and intense performance as a crack-addicted former star boxer struggling to cope with the rising popularity of his younger brother. His closest competitor in the category is Geoffrey Rush, the 1996 Best Actor winner, who delivered a quiet and restrained performance as an English commoner hired to become the speech therapist to the future king of England in The King’s Speech.

The other nominated actors in the category are Mark Ruffalo, whose charming turn as the sperm donor to a lesbian couple in The Kids are All Right was championed by the New York film critics, John Hawkes, who was scary as the depraved uncle who later found redemption in Winter’s Bone, and last year’s breakout star of The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner, who was impressive in the Ben Affleck-directed The Town.

When the nominations were announced last month, Christian’s co-star in The Fighter, Melissa Leo, who, like him, also grabbed the most pre-Oscar prizes, was considered the favorite to take the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her gritty turn as an overbearing mother to two boxer sons. The veteran actress, who received her first nomination portraying a different kind of mother two years ago in the indie drama Frozen River, was modest about her Oscar chances when this writer talked to her in early December. “I’m really, really glad,” she said referring to the buzz her performance was generating even before the movie’s release late last year. “It’s delightful and I wasn’t looking for recognition when I did this movie.”

But her hold in the category has somehow waned in the past couple of weeks after she released several “For Your Consideration” ads in various Hollywood trade papers touting her performance which has reportedly turned off a lot of Academy voters.

This interesting development has opened up the race for Melissa’s The Fighter co-star and critic darling Amy Adams, who was her usual best as the feisty girlfriend in the boxing drama. It also gave hope to Helena Bonham Carter, who was elegant as the supportive future king’s wife in The King’s Speech, Australian Jacki Weaver, who delivered my favorite performance in the category in the crime drama Animal Kingdom, and 14-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who stole True Grit from leads Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges.

Most Oscar predictions now put Hailee, who is being claimed by several Filipinos as their own after reports surfaced that she has at least 10 percent Filipino blood, as the favorite to score an upset in the category but despite the embarrassing ads, my pick to win is still Melissa Leo.

One of the supporting categories is typically the first to be handed out during the ceremony. On Sunday night, Oscar watchers are closely looking at either of this two categories for sign on what will win the coveted prize of the night: the Best Picture of the year.

In December and January, the Sony Pictures’ drama The Social Network appeared invincible after it collected practically all the precursor awards, including the Critics Choice award, which has the best record in predicting the Oscar Best Picture winner five years running.

But in true Hollywood fashion, what loomed as a boring, monotonous winter awards season unexpectedly turned into one thrilling rollercoaster ride when the Weinstein-backed British royalty drama about a stuttering monarch, The King’s Speech, collected all the major guild awards: Producers Guild, Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild.

The movie about the king of social networking suddenly found a challenger for the Oscar crown — from a movie about a real king, at that! All early Oscar predictions were scrapped, re-analyzed and this year’s Oscar story dramatically evolved.

On Oscar night, should Geoffrey Rush or Helena Bonham Carter score victories in their respective categories, expect The King’s Speech to take the Best Picture trophy and just hope for David Fincher to win in the Best Director category. But if they do not score any upsets, keep hoping that the revolution in Egypt, which was sparked by a rallying call on Facebook, helped The Social Network to score the necessary votes to win the biggest prize in movies.

The other Best Picture nominees are Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, The Kids are All Right, The Fighter, Inception, 127 Hours and Black Swan.

The nominees for Best Director are David Fincher (The Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), David O. Russell (The Fighter), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit) and Darren Arronofsky (Black Swan).

Many predictions are calling for a rare Best Picture/Best Director split this year. The general consensus has The King’s Speech taking Best Picture and The Social Network the Best Director trophy.

I disagree. Just as Mark Zuckerberg was stubborn and made Facebook the biggest modern invention enjoyed by half a billion people all over the world, I am keeping my faith that the Academy will award both trophies to the Best Movie of the Year! All The King’s Speech supporters, including my good friend and film student Anselmo Manosca, are welcome to their own opinions.

In contrast to the Best Picture category, the frontrunners in the major acting categories are just about waiting for their coronation on Oscar night.

British actor Colin Firth has no competition in the Best Actor category. His magnificent turn as a would-be king suffering from a speech defect is both heartwarming and inspiring and the other nominated actors in his category are unlucky to be in his court this year.

This year’s Oscar co-host, James Franco, who delivered a raw and riveting performance in 127 Hours, could have easily won the category in another year but should just instead hope for a consolation win later in his career. Last year’s winner Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), and Javier Bardem, who was heavily promoted by Julia Roberts to get a nomination for his haunting turn in Biutiful, complete the list of nominees.

In the Best Actress category, Natalie Portman, whose turn as a ballerina haunted by paranoia in Black Swan won her virtually all the major critics awards, similarly holds the lock and only Annette Bening has the strongest chance in upsetting her.

Annette delivered the performance of her career as the other half of a lesbian couple encountering the same ordinary problems as their married straight counterparts in The Kids are All Right. This writer always maintained, so does my friend and film archivist Jo Atienza, that if it were not for the terrific performances by the entire cast, it would not have been too difficult to ignore the glaring clichés that riddle the narrative. And if Annette didn’t deliver the right contrast to Julianne Moore’s expressive performance, the story would have been less compelling and the movie less watchable.

Sadly, though, she is up again this year against a younger actress who is delivering a career-defining performance. Just as Annette lost twice to Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby) and once to Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost) she is unfortunately bound to lose again this year to Natalie, whose camera and make-up-aided performance was the heart and soul of the ballet thriller Black Swan.

It is interesting to note that when Annette lost to Hilary for the first time, Hilary portrayed a transgendered woman in Boys Don’t Cry and this year Annette portrays a lesbian; it is anybody’s guess what role she has to play to enable her to win that elusive Oscar. I am hoping I am wrong in my prediction and Annette does win the trophy.

The other Best Actress nominees are Michelle Williams, who was incredible in Blue Valentine, newcomer Jennifer Lawrence, whose impressive turn in the bleak drama Winter’s Bone is my other favorite to win the trophy, and previous winner Nicole Kidman, who scored a surprise nomination for her turn as a grieving mother in Rabbit Hole.

Aside from the highly anticipated Best Picture/Best Director split, the other biggest mystery going into Oscar night is whether the famous graffiti artist known only as Banksy will finally unmask and introduce himself to the world should his documentary on the evolution of street art in Los Angeles Exit Through the Gift Shop wins the trophy. I wonder if the police would arrest him for his multiple vandalism violation on stage; that would make for an extra-interesting night.

Hollywood stars talk about their first time... at the Oscars :)

You never forget your first time — at the Oscars
By MICHAEL CIDONI, AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES – The glamour. The gowns. The limos. The worldwide audience. And all those superstars.

The Academy Awards are Hollywood's grandest pageant, and no matter how celebrated one's stardom, a trip to the Oscars is unforgettable. Especially the first one.

Nicole Kidman's first time was back when she was still Mrs. Tom Cruise. She remembers being wowed by the scene and the sound of the screaming photographers. Jack Black's first Oscar night was "surreal."

So was Marcia Gay Harden's.

Jake Gyllenhaal was star-struck. Sofia Coppola was a little kid. Josh Brolin first went to the Oscars as the guest of his nominated wife. And once again this year, first-timers such as 14-year-old supporting actress nominee Hailee Steinfeld are likely to log their own unforgettable memories.

Here, some actors and directors reflect on their first trip to the big show.

• Before she was nominated for "Moulin Rouge" and won for "The Hours," Nicole Kidman attended the Oscars with then-husband Tom Cruise: "He was nominated. And I remember I got to wear this really short little Valentino velvet dress and I just was like absolutely stunned. It was like the biggest thing I had ever seen. I couldn't believe how loud the photographers were."

• Ryan Gosling went to the show as a nominee in 2007, but his night was overshadowed by his date's 'do: "I went there with 'Half Nelson' and I went with my mother. And the whole night was dominated by the fact that she got this hairstyle that she was regretting. So that was all we talked about the whole night. This lady convinced her that everyone was going to be wearing beehives, and that was the new thing that year. Of course we got there, nobody. Everybody had their hair down."

• Virginia Madsen also brought her mom — and she seared the night into her mind: "Oh, I remember every detail. I mean, I was Cinderella and I didn't have to go home at midnight. I brought my mom with me and I, it was just, everything about that night was perfect. Everything was a dream come true — as I imagined it when I was five years old. I mean, I wouldn't change a thing. It was really beautiful."

• Marcia Gay Harden, who won for her role in "Pollack," also remembers every detail: "It strikes me still with the clarity of a lightning bolt, that the first time I went there, I was graced to win ... given the opportunity by Ed Harris to be in a great movie to play a real transformational character that caught the votes from some voters. And the glory of the night was that my dad was alive, my mom was alive. Ed was thrilled. My husband was there. It was surreal."

• Director Sofia Coppola was just a kid when she attended her first Oscar ceremony with her father, Francis Ford Coppola: "I must have been 7 or 8. I had a tuxedo dress. But I have vague memories. It was a lot of glamorous grown-ups."

• Jake Gyllenhaal was totally overwhelmed: "It's like this mind-blowingly intense situation. And, yet, at the same time, oddly normal, which makes it even more strange. I remember George Clooney shaking my hand at one point as I was walking to my seat, and not believing it. And I remember so many — a sea of famous people's faces, I remember that."

• Marisa Tomei had a guardian looking over her shoulder when she was nominated, and won, best supporting actress for "My Cousin Vinny": "I remember (actress) Mary McDonnell was sitting behind me, and she was so sweet and she just kept tapping my shoulder and being like, 'How are you doing, honey?' ... I was scared and she was very motherly towards me and it was a nice little crowd that I was sitting with."

• Josh Brolin, who was nominated in 2008 for his supporting role in "Milk," first came to the Oscars with wife Diane Lane when she was nominated for her lead performance in "Unfaithful": "There was a massive possibility that she was going to be up there soon accepting an award. But then you learn after a while that it is more about the get-together and the appreciation of your peers nominating you and saying, 'We really liked your performance.'"

• Jack Black recalls his first Oscar visit: "I was at the Oscars to present, I think it was best sound design or something, or best armpit hair? I don't know what I was presenting. But, I had a really great surreal, weird time. It was always with Will Ferrell. Done it a couple of times. Do little comedic bits, songs. It was cool to be a part of the Oscar history, the pageantry of Hollywood."

• Songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, who has been nominated six times, remembers her first with mixed feelings: "I was at the Oscars with Marvin Hamlisch. We had both written a song called 'Nobody Does it Better,' recorded by Carly Simon, and it was for the movie 'The Spy Who Loved Me.' And I remember trying to put that title in the lyric, and I found the line: 'Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me, is keeping all my secrets safe tonight. Nobody does it better...' And we lost. I don't remember to what song. And I knew, at that moment, that the best part is being nominated, because losing didn't feel so good."

• Jeff Bridges, nominated for his sixth Oscar for "True Grit," says his most memorable trip to the show was last year: "It's so exciting, you know, being recognized by your guys, saying 'Atta boy, Jeff. Good job.' Everybody standing up and all that. Oh, God, it is so thrilling. Then, to share it with my wife, who was there through the whole thing. It was a magical, magical evening for me."
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AP Entertainment Writers Bruce Barton, Sandy Cohen and Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Roger Ebert predicts the 2011 Oscar winners

Outguess Ebert: It's not over till the king speaks
By Roger Ebert

On the day the Oscar nominations were announced, I made some quick guesses and toyed with the possibility that “True Grit” might sneak in. I've changed my mind and now agree with the conventional wisdom that “The King's Speech” will be the year's best picture winner. Still, “True Grit” or “The Social Network” could pull off an upset. You might want to consider that when entering the $100,000 Outguess Ebert contest this year.

The contest is being co-sponsored by MUBI.com, an online art theater, with the Sun-Times, “Ebert Presents at the Movies” and RogerEbert.com. Everyone who outguesses me gets a three-month subscription to MUBI worth $45, and those who get all 24 categories correct will split the $100K. That's even if I get them all right, which is very unlikely.

If I were still doing “If We Picked the Winners” with Gene Siskel, my preference for best film would be “The Social Network.” It was not only the best film of 2010, but also one of those films that helps define a year. It became the presumed front-runner on the day it opened, but then it seemed to fade. Oscars often go to movies that open after Thanksgiving. It's called the Persistence of Memory Effect.

There's another factor. A lot of academy voters don't choose the “best” in some categories, but “the most advantageous for the movie industry.” Hollywood churns out violent crap every weekend and then puts on a nice face by supporting a respectable picture at Oscar time. I mean that not as a criticism of “The King's Speech,” which is a terrific film, but as an observation. A British historical drama about a brave man struggling to overcome a disability and then leading his people into World War II looks better to the academy than a cutting-edge portrait of hyperactive nerds.

OK, I have 23 more categories to get through:

Actor in a leading role: Colin Firth for “The King's Speech.” Jeff Bridges is unlikely to win a second year in a row, and although James Franco did a heroic job under his (shall we say) constraints in “127 Hours,” Hollywood loves British history and often gives extra points to U.K. nominees.

Actress in a leading role: In the way that such matters are decided by currents wafting in the air, Natalie Portman has emerged as the consensus choice. She is very good in “Black Swan.” That's beside the point. Everyone is good in this category. But she gets to “act” the most, which to the academy, often means “act out in emotional displays.” She was required to do that by the logic of the role, which had Oscar written all over it.

Actor in a supporting role: Geoffrey Rush. Because it could be a “King's Speech” year. Christian Bale seems to have a good chance, but when a movie gets anointed, its aura shines on its other nominees, as if voters are thinking, “Well, if I voted for ‘The King's Speech,' doesn't that mean I keep voting for it?”

Actress in a supporting role: That tendency won't carry over to this category, however, because while Helena Bonham Carter as the king's wife was splendid, as she almost always is, the role wasn't showy. The academy has a way in this category of anointing a plucky young newcomer, and the winner will be Hailee Steinfeld, who in fact played the lead in “True Grit,” no matter what the academy thinks. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams will split support for “The Fighter.”

Directing: Well, here I'm more or less forced to choose Tom Hooper of “The King's Speech” because he won the Directors Guild Award, and you know the mantra: The DGA winner wins the best director Oscar 90 percent of the time. Contrarian speculation would be risky.

Writing (original screenplay): Again, “The King's Speech,” by David Seidler. When a film becomes the chosen one, its glories trickle down, and I expect this to be a royal year. If I'm wrong, I'm very wrong. (The best screenplay, in terms of sheer writing, was Mike Leigh's “Another Year,” which could easily be adapted more or less whole for the stage.)

Writing (adapted screenplay): Here “The Social Network” will win its one major Oscar, although deserving more. “Adaptation” often means “loosely inspired by,” and Aaron Sorkin's brilliant dialogue and construction were wholly original (as were apparently many of his facts). You have to ask yourself what, precisely, the nominated “Toy Story 3” was adapting, apart from the continuing plight of the toys.

Foreign language film: Here we have an interesting situation, because the voters in this category have to see all the nominees. That leads to victories by dark horses, like the wonderful Japanese corpse-preparation movie “Departures” a few years ago. This year, I've seen three of the five, but friends who have seen the Quebec film “Incendies” at festivals say it's great. If they're right, it's “Incendies.”

Animated feature film: “Toy Story 3,” don't you suppose?

Documentary feature: What should win: “Restrepo,” a year in the life of an outpost in Afghanistan. What will win: “Inside Job,” about how Wall Street is run by crooks getting rich on our money.

Cinematography: Roger Deakins has been nominated nine times. This is the year he will win, for the magnificent look and feel of “True Grit.”

Film editing: “The Social Network” was all but brought to life through the skills of Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, who took a complex group of interlocking plots, events and times, assembled them at breakneck speed and made the sucker play.

Art direction: Sometimes the art direction of a film just reaches out and rubs you by the chinny-chin-chin. Tim Burton is famous for the look of his films, and the work by Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara was magical in his “Alice in Wonderland.”

Costume design: Any good “Alice” starts with the costumes. Colleen Atwood dressed “Wonderland.”

Makeup: Academy voters do not, I suspect, spend a lot of time thinking about this category, and often simply vote for the most makeup. That would indicate Rick Baker and Dave Elsey for “The Wolfman.” But I have an instinct not many of them saw it, and here I predict Adrien Morot, for the way he aged Paul Giamatti in “Barney's Version.” Warning: Baker has a good track record.

Music (original score): The most effective score in foreground terms was by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Social Network.” But I believe a “King's Speech” year will also sweep up this Oscar, for Alexandre Desplat.

Music (original song): I would vote for “Coming Home,” from “Country Strong.” But in recent years this category has tended to be dominated by animation, and Randy Newman will take home the Oscar for “We Belong Together,” the heartfelt dirge of forgotten playthings in Disney/Pixar's “Toy Story 3.”

Visual effects: Continuing to apply my theory that in the “lesser” categories the winners tend to be the most visible in the most-seen films, I think this is where the sensational film “Inception” wins. It rolled up an entire city.

Sound editing: “Inception,” for its skill in negotiating dreamscapes and levels of reality. Not nominated was “The Social Network,” which juggled all those rapid-fire conversations.

Sound mixing: Also known as “Sound Design,” this is the category that creates the space that our ears sense around characters. I expect the winner to be “The Social Network,” which created intricate conversations in challenging locations like a Silicon Valley club.

Documentary short subject: “Killing in the Name,” a documentary about a Muslim who visits and questions the sources of the terrorist ideology that compelled a suicide bomber to kill 27 people at his wedding.

Short film (animated): Teddy Newton's “Day and Night” played before “Toy Story,” was original and inventive in the battle suggested by its title, and will win.

Short film (live action): I haven't seen these, but I've looked at their trailers at http://bit.ly/hJ4OPo, and on that basis I expect “Na Wewe” to win.

AP analyzes "The King's Speech" chances at the Oscars...

Hollywood rarely crowns British monarchy at Oscars
By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer

LOS ANGELES – It may seem as though Academy Awards voters would be a bunch of fawning monarchists, considering how often the ceremony has been a love fest for all things English. But British kings and queens generally wind up losers at the Oscars.

If "The King's Speech," a saga about Queen Elizabeth II's dad, makes good on its status as best-picture favorite on Sunday, it would become the first film with a British monarch as its central figure to win the top prize in the 83-year history of the Oscars.

Two films with a British king or queen as a supporting player — 1966's "A Man for All Seasons" and 1998's "Shakespeare in Love" — did win best picture. Yet past contenders with a monarch in a lead role have always lost: 1933's "The Private Life of Henry VIII," 1946's "Henry V," 1964's "Becket," 1968's "The Lion in Winter," 1969's "Anne of the Thousand Days," 1998's "Elizabeth" (which lost to "Shakespeare in Love") and 2006's "The Queen."

Actors as British monarchs have fared a bit better, with lead-acting wins by Charles Laughton in the title role of "The Private Life of Henry VIII"; Katharine Hepburn as Henry II's captive queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, in "The Lion in Winter"; and Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in "The Queen." Judi Dench won a supporting Oscar as Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love."

Best-actor front-runner Colin Firth as the current queen's father, George VI, is expected to join the winner's list Sunday, though Helena Bonham Carter as his wife, the future Queen Mother Elizabeth, is a longshot for supporting actress.

Losers far outnumber winners: 13 of the 17 actors nominated for playing a British king or queen have lost (there would be one more loser if we throw in Vanessa Redgrave as best actress in 1971's "Mary, Queen of Scots," whose title character schemed but failed to take the English crown from Elizabeth I).
Two actors lost twice for playing the same monarch — Peter O'Toole as Henry II in "Becket" and "The Lion in Winter" and Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I in "Elizabeth" and its 2007 sequel, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age."

Laurence Olivier lost twice for playing two different kings in Shakespeare adaptations, 1946's "Henry V" and 1956's "Richard III." Kenneth Branagh also lost for his 1989 version of "Henry V."

Henry VIII has gone one-for-three at the Oscars. After Laughton's win, two other actors lost for playing the same role — Robert Shaw as supporting actor in "A Man for All Seasons" and Richard Burton as best actor for "Anne of the Thousand Days" (the latter film also was a best-actress loser for Genevieve Bujold in the title role, as one of Henry VIII's queens, Anne Boleyn).

Before their wins, both Dench and Mirren lost at the Oscars for other roles as British queens. Mirren lost the supporting-actress race as Queen Charlotte in 1994's "The Madness of King George," for which Nigel Hawthorne also lost for best actor in the title role. Dench lost for best actress as Queen Victoria in 1997's "Mrs. Brown."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Social Network wins top Eddie!

Report culled from the web...

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, editors of the film about Facebook, won in the dramatic feature category, while Alice in Wonderland's Chris Lebenzon nabbed the musical or comedy category. Ken Schretzmann and Lee Unkrich took the trophy in animated feature competition for Toy Story 3.

Inception director Christopher Nolan received the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award, while editors Michael Brown and Michael Kahn were presented the organization's Lifetime Career Achievement Awards.

Kahn won three Oscars and three Eddies for editing Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Brown took home Emmys for the HBO films Something the Lord Made, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Miss Evers' Boys.

The Eddies often predict the Oscar winner for best picture; over the last five years the top Eddie winner and best-picture Academy Award winner have matched except in 2007. That year The Bourne Ultimatum won both the Eddie and Oscar for editing, but No Country for Old Men took home the best-picture Oscar.

The complete list of winners for Saturday's ACE Eddie Awards :

Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic):
The Social Network
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical):
Alice in Wonderland
Chris Lebenzon

Best Edited Animation Feature Film:
Toy Story 3
Ken Schretzmann and Lee Unkrich

Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television:
Modern Family,"Family Portrait"
Jonathan Schwartz

Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television:
The Walking Dead,"Days Gone Bye"
Hunter Via

Best Edited One-Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television:
Treme, "Do You Know What it Means"
Kate Sanford and Alexander Hall

Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Television:
Temple Grandin
Leo Trombetta

Best Edited Documentary:
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Tom Fulford and Chris King

Best Edited Reality Series:
If You Really Knew Me,"Colusa High"
Rob Goubeau, Jeremy Gantz, Hilary Scratch, Ken Yankee, Mark S. Andrew, Heather Miglin, John Skaare and Paul J. Coyne

My Alex Pettyfer and Diana Agron story...

Is Alex Pettyfer the next Shia LaBeouf?
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated February 21, 2011 12:00 AM 


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Alex is John Smith, a teen fugitive who is on the run from powerful enemies sent to destroy him in I am Number Four.| Zoom
L.A. CALIF — A potential action franchise starter is set to ignite the global box-office when DreamWorks Studios releases its latest suspense thriller I Am Number Four in theaters this month. The sci-fi movie is from D.J. Caruso, the director who transformed Shia LaBeouf from being a virtual unknown to a Hollywood superstar in only two movies.

This time, D.J. is introducing the world to handsome newcomer Alex Pettyfer, who leads the cast of promising new actors that include talented Australians Teresa Palmer and Callan McAullife. Also in the cast is Alex’s rumored girlfriend and popular star from TV’s Glee, Diana Agron.

No, Alex and Diana did not directly confirm nor deny their relationship during the junket for the movie in January. When a lady journalist asked if it was love at first sight on the set for him and Diana, the actor only laughed loud and said: “You’re very funny. Thank you.” Diana was mum as well. (Days after our interview, the couple was photographed together while holding hands on Sunset Blvd.)

But tabloid headlines and engagement rumors aside, the movie marks a major breakthrough for the young British upstart who got the part despite walking out of his first audition because he was worried he wasn’t fit for the part. The story was initially reported in a Vanity Fair feature and Alex confirmed it with The Philippine Star at the junket.
“I did, but I tried to do it in the nicest way,” confirmed Alex. “I just didn’t think that I could bring anything to the movie and I didn’t want to disappoint D.J. so I walked away.” It was only a brief hesitation on his part because he quickly realized he was “missing an incredible opportunity.”

It wasn’t the pressure of carrying a movie produced by box-office maestros Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay that prompted the actor to initially decline the part either. There was something in the lead character that intimidated him. “I play a reluctant hero and John (his character’s name) is very vulnerable and he finds it difficult — he was always trying to find his identity and I don’t think I was thinking of playing it like that at the time,” he confided.

He added: “But every actor looks for a challenge so I went back and me and D.J. spoke about how we wanted the movie to go and how we wanted John to go and it, kind of, just clicked together.”

“I feel that Alex has a special gift,” director D.J. said in praise of Alex. “He has an incredible vulnerability that really works for the character. I think it will make audiences fall in love with him.”

So is Alex the director’s new Shia LaBeouf?

“Damn dude, I better f----- be!” Alex immediately replied, teasing the director who was seated next to him.

“I think he is very similar,” D.J. responded. “When I was directing Shia, he just turned 19 and Alex was also 19 when we met. Yeah, heck yeah! I hope so.”

“I am like the godfather,” the director continued, half-jokingly. “I get these children prepared for the world and I send them off.”


I Am Number Four tells the story of John Smith (Alex’s character), a teen fugitive who is on the run from powerful enemies sent to destroy him. He has a guardian who protects him by concealing his identity and moving him from town to town, school to school. Eventually John must confront what really is the reason why this army of assassins is tracking him down and wanting him dead.

As Alex indicated, it was the character’s sense of vulnerability that both attracted and scared him of the part initially. “We’ve all been in that scenario where we feel like we are alone or we are different,” he stated.

Alex began his career in 2005 on British TV. He did a couple of movies when he was 15 but never had much success until last year when he was cast in two high-profile movies: Beastly, a modern re-telling of the classic tale Beauty and the Beast opposite Vanessa Hudgens and I Am Number Four.

The actor has a presence about him that, to an unfamiliar observer, would be misinterpreted as arrogance. This writer had that wrong impression in the beginning. But as the interview progressed and Alex started to loosen up, he became less nervous, less evasive and more open.

There are numerous Internet accounts of how he really started his career and the young star decided to set the record straight: “I never modeled all my life,” he said, contradicting the web chatter that he did a Gap campaign when he was seven. “I did one modeling campaign and it was a good experience. It was for Burberry and it was a lot of fun. Life is all about experiences and that was definitely a different one for me — one that I would definitely revisit if I had the opportunity.”

He did not acknowledge the semi-nude pictures he did for a coffeetable book, though, nor would he give away any clue to his and Diana’s relationship that was supposed to have blossomed on the set.

“Diana is like this old school movie star quality. I had an amazing time working with her,” was all he would allow himself to describe Diana.

In the movie, Diana portrays Sarah, Alex’s love interest who unwittingly gets caught in the middle of the conflict between John and his pursuers.

In contrast to her leading man, Diana proved to be more “friendly” and gave more hints about their relationship – how she almost didn’t get to meet him at all – during our separate interview with her.

Diana recalled how Steven Spielberg approached her early last year during a charity event if she wanted to do the movie. “I have this project called I Am Number Four,” she remembered Steven telling her. “You would be perfect for the role of Sarah but we are gonna film it in the fall and most likely you’d be back to Glee so it was really great meeting you and congratulations with the show… and you’re wonderful.”

She remained standing, nearly motionless after Spielberg left and couldn’t believe what just happened to her. Lucky for her the shoot was moved earlier in the summer and she was able to do the movie.

Her first meeting with Alex was supposed to be for a chemistry reading with the director who did not show up that day. “In some ways I think he set us up,” she said in a slight declaration that he and Alex are indeed together.

Diana and Alex shared a kiss in the movie and it was a kiss that felt real to her. “I always say that if you are enjoying that, then you are probably acting as yourself and not the character,” she said beaming.


I Am Number Four opens Feb. 23 in theaters.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Iranian film wins Berlin top prize!

Acclaimed Iranian film triumphs in Berlin
By Mike Collett-White and Annika Breidthardt

BERLIN (Reuters) – Iranian drama "Nader and Simin: A Separation" won the Golden Bear for best picture at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, while its ensemble cast also picked up the best actor and actress prizes on a triumphant night.

Director Asghar Farhadi's portrayal of a marriage in crisis was firm favorite for the coveted award, and its victory was the first for an Iranian picture, Berlin organizers said.

In the movie, one family is pitted against another in a gripping legal tussle which highlights the gap between middle class "intellectuals" and poorer, traditional Iranians for whom religious beliefs and honor tend to be more important.

It was praised for its subtle exploration of Iran's class divisions and religious conservatism, which it managed to combine with the tension of a crime thriller. The acting awards were a bonus for Farhadi, whose daughter Sarina starred.

Farhadi paid tribute to fellow Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi, who was unable to accept Berlin's invitation to sit on the main jury after being sentenced to six years in jail and banned from making movies or traveling abroad for 20 years.

He stands accused of inciting opposition protests in 2009 and making a film without permission, and his sentence has caused an outcry in the movie making world.

"I want to remind you of Jafar Panahi," Farhadi told the glitzy awards ceremony. "I really think his problem will be solved, and I hope he will be the one standing here next year."

When asked to speak about the situation in Iran, he replied: "I can either say what you want me to say and the result would be that I get into trouble and couldn't make films anymore.

"Or I can say as much as I'm allowed to and continue making films. I prefer making my films. I'm not a hero, I'm a film maker," he told reporters, adding that he spoke to Panahi after receiving the Golden Bear.

Panahi's absence was marked with an empty chair alongside jury head Isabella Rossellini at the opening press conference, and some German media have dubbed this year's cinema showcase the "Iranian Berlinale."

DARK TALE OF A HORSE

The runner-up film prize went to Hungarian director Bela Tarr's black-and-white "The Turin Horse," a slow-moving, bleak feature about a farmer and his daughter's forsaken lives in a windswept, isolated house.

The love-it-or-loathe-it picture, which Tarr has said would be his last, sharply divided critics, but its stark images, sparse dialogue and relentlessly droning score were considered among the most memorable at this year's festival.

"That is true it is my last film. The last so-called Tarr film," he told reporters after receiving his award.

"I believe that in this film everything comes together. Everything is contained in this film -- everything that I believe needs to be shown in film, i.e. everything that uses the language of film."

One of the few surprises at the awards, which wound up the 10-day event where hundreds of new films are shown to the press and potential buyers, was the best director prize to Germany's Ulrich Koehler for the generally unfancied "Sleeping Sickness."

Best script went to Joshua Marston and Andamion Murataj for "The Forgiveness of Blood," which looks at the sometimes tragic consequences of ancient codes governing blood feuds which are still enforced in some parts of rural Albania today.

"The Prize," a story set in Argentina, picked up two technical awards, and the Alfred Bauer Prize for innovation went to German entry "If Not Us, Who."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Liam Neeson interview...

Liam Neeson: Age shouldn't get in the way
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star)
Updated February 16, 2011 12:00 AM
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Liam portrays a doctor who awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife doesn’t recognize him anymore.| Zoom
L.A. CALIF. — Liam Neeson was more than five minutes late to our appointed interview — and he was not very happy about it. “I try not to be late; movie stars should never be late!” insisted the talented actor as he propped himself up on the chair next to mine at our roundtable interview at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills two Sundays ago.

The fact that he would apologize for what was perfectly a reasonable and understandable (if not normal) delay speaks highly of the actor and of how he takes his job as an actor, and not just as a movie star, seriously.

Liam casts an imposing and towering image on the big screen that one would have to think twice before daring to cross him. But, to this writer’s delight, the actor, who most recently was in the cast of the action-packed movie The A-Team and who single-handedly took on dozens of French criminals in the 2009 action-thriller Taken is, quite surprisingly, very quiet, soft-spoken and has an easy smile in person.

He is a very nice fellow, indeed, but when asked if he considers himself an action star he only shakes his head. “Make hay while the sun shines as the saying goes,” he replied. “I think when I turn 60, it will start to slow down.”

That would still be a good two years away.

The actor is 58 years old and is enjoying a three-year box-office streak. “I never actively pursued these types of roles because 20 years ago there were a lot of action heroes doing very successful films,” he revealed. “What I like about it now is I love the physicality of it. I love to become a little 12-year-old boy and kick a little bit of ass.”
On Feb. 18, the hesitant action star gets to do that once again when his latest action thriller, Warner Bros.’ Unknown, opens in theaters.

In his new movie, the Oscar-nominated actor portrays a doctor who awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (portrayed in the movie by the gorgeous, and current Hollywood “IT” girl, January Jones) doesn’t recognize him anymore. His wife has taken on a new husband who has already assumed his identity.
Liam considers his new role quite a challenge: “He is alone and not just abandoned, but rejected by everyone he thinks he knows.”

“It is like reverse amnesia,” director Jaume Collet-Serra added. “It’s as if the world has amnesia about him. He absolutely knows who he is, but everyone else has forgotten him.”

“It’s a really good script,” Liam said. “It’s like a throwback to all those Hitchcockian movies. In this day and age, the audiences are so savvy with it and this picture does keep ahead of the game. It keeps you guessing.”
In Unknown, there is a big revelation somewhere in the narrative that even Liam didn’t see coming. “I think I am fairly savvy when I read script. It was that good!”

The memory loss component of the plot also drew a distant recollection for Liam, who was an amateur boxer as a kid. “I got my bell rung a few times,” he recalled. “It’s always stayed with me, that memory of not having a memory, even for a short time. It was an interesting life experience to draw on for this role.”

At 58, short spells of memory loss is no longer that strange to the actor. When he was describing the city of Berlin, he couldn’t remember Melanie Griffith’s name, with whom he co-starred in a movie he made in Berlin more than 20 years ago, and kept referring to her as Antonio Banderas’ wife.

Mornings spent looking for his eyeglasses is now also almost a typical part of his daily routine. “I tend to be very, very forgetful and my sons make fun of that… I make fun of it!” There are also days when he just couldn’t help but blurt out, “F---, I am getting old!”

But, for him, getting old does not and should not get in the way of being an actor. For those days when he couldn’t trust himself to memorize pages and pages of dialogues, he has devised an ingenious way of avoiding an embarrassing on-set lapse of memory.

He started wearing an earpiece “so that somebody could feed me the lines” on the set of his current film, which is being shot in below freezing temps in Canada. “I have fallen in love with it. It’s so great I don’t have to learn the lines again,” he joked.

For most of his career, Liam has been mostly associated with high-concept productions and the idea of him making action movies seemed impossible to comprehend. Although he has portrayed a sword-wielding hero in Rob Roy, he has never been seen in a straight-action movie until two years ago.

He revealed that casting directors thought he was “too sensitive” for the parts early in his career and was never seriously considered for any roles that would normally go to guys like Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford.

The Irish-born actor was a classically-trained theater artist in Belfast before moving to Hollywood in the early ‘80s. He won worldwide critical acclaim portraying Oskar Schindler, the shrewd German industrialist who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List.

Over the years, he has made a number of notable films including the Oscar-nominated biopic Kinsey. He also appeared in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy, acted with Meryl Streep in the drama Before & After, and provided the voice of the lion, Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia films. But he credits his 2009 movie Taken for his sudden — and lucrative — incursion into the action genre.


Taken was one of the biggest box-office hits of 2009. The success of the movie even caught Liam by surprise. He admitted that when he was making the movie he thought “it was gonna go straight to video and it would disappear.”

But even after making three action movies: Taken, The A-Team, Unknown; and two more in production: Joe Carnahan’s The Grey and the highly-anticipated sci-fi action-adventure Battleship, he still doesn’t consider himself an action star. For him, no matter what type of movies he makes, he will remain just an actor. A very good one, I would add.

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