The marketing people at Lionsgate are no dummies. They clearly recognize that celebrity culture has been reduced to "What are you wearing" questions on the red carpet, and are ramping up their marketing efforts for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with the movie poster equivalent: seven character portrait images that depict Katniss & Compay in fancy freaky fashions before the next round of adolescent-on-adolescent bloodshed begins. more »
Jennifer Lawrence's Best Actress Oscar win is more than a career milestone. During awards season, Lawrence got dinged by people like me for speaking her mind and not being more politic during the campaigning process. She didn't really listen, and, guess what, it didn't really matter. more »
The early ratings for last night's Oscars indicate that the telecast may have racked up its best numbers since 2007, according to Deadline. Which is good news for Seth MacFarlane, especially if you ignore that the biggest viewership increase came after The Walking Dead ended on AMC and that six of the nine Best Picture nominees had done more than $100 million at the box office. Otherwise, what do you really remember from last night's telecast besides Jennifer Lawrence's face plant, the Jaws play-off theme (which was funny exactly once) and the steamed look on Ben Affleck's mug when he came out on stage after MacFarlane's Gigli remark?
And that brings me to my first Oscars recap observation:
1. Was everybody in the Dolby Theater on Ablixa? Beginning with the show's weirdly cold opening, the telecast was devoid of the emotional highs and lows, pomp and circumstance that the Oscars used to have and haven't had for a few years. During the Movieline liveblog, I wondered if Harvey Weinstein had gotten Trazodone, which is name-checked in Silver Linings Playbook, added to the Academy Awards gift bag. But I now think the Side Effects antidepressant reference is more appropriate. Even MacFarlane's most out-there insults seemed even-keeled. New York Magazine slammed the Family Guy creator for being sexist, but I thought his bigger sins were being mediocre and cold. It's as if the digital revolution didn't just rewrite the way the film industry makes and releases movies, it reduced the way Hollywood generates excitement into a kind of binary code. Everything's either a 1 or a 0. That's what last night felt like, and the only time some of that old-timey Oscar excitement crept back into the broadcast was when Affleck gave his speed-speech. The privilege of being able to make movies is obviously still exciting to him, and he's good at spreading that giddy feeling.
2. The Oscars should not aspire to be the Tonys. So, I understand why there was a preponderance of musical numbers last night: MacFarlane is a show-tunes freak, Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway were all nominated, and Barbra Streisand was on board to perform a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch. But that doesn't mean they were a good thing. The show was listless to begin with, and all those musical numbers didn't help. Plus, the Chicago (2002) and DreamGirls (2006) tributes left me wondering if I'd slipped and fallen into the Hot Tub Time Machine. I half-expected to see Jackman join MacFarlane for some sort of tribute to The Music Man (which Family Guy has parodied more than once). I'm not going to suggest this is part of a trend, by the way, but have you noticed that a similar things has been happening over at Saturday Night Live? The practice of having musical guests hosting and performing — as Justin Bieber just did — is not helping the show's comedy cred, and, for a number of seasons now, an unusual number of skits seem to be built around musical performances. (On a related note, as a big Lonely Island fan, I just have to say that "YOLO" clip with Adam Levine and Kendrick Lamar was lame.)
3. The only real surprise of the night was Christoph Waltz's win: Coming as it did near the beginning of the telecast, Waltz's Best Supporting Actor Oscar — which had been predicted in some quarters but mostly as a longshot — left the impression that a night of surprises was ahead. And then everything unfolded as predicted. If you followed all of the pre-season Oscar punditry, I bet you were bored.
4. Was Ben Affleck's comment about not holding grudges directed, in part, at Seth MacFarlane? One of the more interesting observations Affleck made during his Best Picture acceptance speech was, "You can't hold grudges. It's hard. But you can't hold grudges." The Argo director could have been referring to the Academy's decision to snub him for a Best Director Oscar, but, he just as well could have been referring to MacFarlane's remark that he'd gone from "starring in Gigli to becoming of the most respected filmmakers of this generation." The line didn't seem so sharp to me. Gigli is an awful movie. But Deadline reported that Affleck was pissed off by the remark, and the filmmaker did launch a half-hearted jab at MacFarlane when he came out on stage shortly after the Oscars host uttered the punchline. (Affleck said something about it still being possible for MacFarlane to "turn the show around," but wouldn't it have been cool if he just said, 'Argo, fuck yourself"?) The grudges remark, which Affleck delivered during his Best Picture acceptance speech, was a nice zen-like catch-all that demonstrated that Big Ben wasn't just an Oscar winner, he was an enlightened Oscar winner.
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The Oscar season enters its last weekend, but one suspects it is far from over. Even if Academy members ultimately hewed to tradition and voted Lincoln and Steven Spielberg Best Picture and Director, respectively — as is the customary coronation for films with the most Oscar nominations — this outlier season will be studied and debated. For at least days to come.
With the Academy Awards just three days away, the Internets are being overworked by bloggers and moviegoers obsessed with staying up on the latest in Oscar news. I also wouldn't put it past awards season's prime navigator Harvey Weinstein to have a boiler room full of trained chimpanzees plugging in Jennifer Lawrence's name and "Silver Linings Playbook" into all the top search engines, such as Yahoo!, for instance. The web portal has collected some interesting data about Oscar-related searches, which I've culled below: more »
With less than two weeks before the Academy Awards, the Oscar conversation is veering from “What now?” to “What if?” Amid all the talk of frontrunners and inevitabilities, some pundits are pondering the inscrutable. What if Oscar voters suddenly ignore all that Argo mojo (which got a further boost last weekend with Best Picture and Best Director wins at the BAFTAs)? What if the Best Supporting Actress race isn’t fait accompli, but instead, as Roger Ebert observed, asserts, as in years past, its independence as the category “where the voters like to throw a curve ball?” What if a BAFTA win earned Emmanuelle Riva a little Oscar Amour? more »
After all the tiptoeing and carefully constructed speechifying that has accompanied the Oscar race so far, it's fun to see Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway and Amy Adams engaging in the comedy equivalent of a WWE wrestling match with Zach Galifianakis on a special "Oscar edition" of his Funny or Die talk show, Between Two Ferns. more »
Argo maintained Awards momentum Sunday night, winning the best ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The feature, directed by Ben Affleck who also stars, won the top film prize at the top film prize at the Golden Globes earlier this month and Saturday night at the Producers Guild Of America, taking the group's Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures prize for producers Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
The box office has spoken! Jessica Chastain scored the top two weekend spots over Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Last Stand) and the double-whammy of Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe (Broken City) as the Guillermo del Toro-produced fantasy horror Mama scored a #1 debut with $28.1 million and Zero Dark Thirty stepped into second place. (Oscar rival Jennifer Lawrence didn't come out so bad herself as Silver Linings Playbook expanded to #3 in wide release the same weekend she tenderly slammed her fellow Best Actress contenders on Saturday Night Live.) More power to the ladies! But where, oh where, did Arnold land in his big action comeback?
If you need an idea of how intensely competitive Oscar campaigning has become, look no further than Jennifer Lawrence's opening monologue for Saturday Night Live. Given the ridiculous media tempest that arose from Lawrence's First Wives Club "I beat Meryl Streep" reference at the Golden Globe Awards, I figured that the show's writers were going to address the issue in Lawrence's opening segment. And they did — in such a half-hearted way that it sounds like some negotiating went on to make sure that the Silver Linings Playbook star and Best Actress nominee didn't say anything that would hurt her chances to bring home a statuette. more »
Jennifer Lawrence hasn't had many opportunities to show off her comedic chops onscreen — she only burst onto the scene three years ago in Winter's Bone, then quickly filled up her dance card with action blockbusters like X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games before taking on the awards season contender Silver Linings Playbook — but the Best Actress front-runner has been delighting awards-watchers left and right on the Oscar circuit these past few months. The girl is funny — sardonic, whip-smart, witty, self-deprecating, and she knows what's what as she plays the Hollywood game, which is why her post-Golden Globes hosting gig on Saturday Night Live will be one to watch.
On the heels of this morning's surprising and not-so-surprising Oscar nominations, the Broadcast Film Critics Association handed their Critics Choice Awards to a rather familiar bunch as Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Skyfall nabbed multiple major honors. In fact, the BFCA, an organization comprised of TV, radio, and online journalists, spread the love around to cover just about every Oscar favorite and token consolation prize there is. Take your bow, Cloud Atlas!
This is getting exciting — not so much the Oscar race; but the recent spate of news about the Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 24. Things are shaping up for a evening that may be less cringe-worthy than usual and that could improve on last year’s slight ratings boost. You’ve got Adele to perform Skyfall" you’ve got the 50th anniversary James Bond tribute, and now comes confirmation that Barbra Streisand will perform for the first time in 36 years. (Just please, God, not with Seth MacFarlane.) Plus, the “In Memorium” segment should feature some especially beloved character actors (Andy Griffith, Ben Gazzara, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Klugman). more »
I never tire of looking at Kristen Stewart. In the new issue of V Magazine, which features the On The Road actress in a 10-page photo spread,by Inez & Vinoodh and on its cover, writer Sarah Cristobal writes that there is "a slightly feral air" to Stewart's presence, and that's exactly what makes her so fascinating to watch on and off screen. more »