You are viewing the archive: Lee Daniels
Awards || ||

Hey Academy! Time To Take Nicole Kidman's 'Paperboy' Role Seriously!

Hey Academy! Time To Take Nicole Kidman's 'Paperboy' Role Seriously!

Once, Nicole Kidman barely had to raise an eyebrow to get awards attention. Now, she barely can raise an eyebrow and her best work in years is being completely ignored in the Oscar conversation. The Paperboy stars Kidman as Charlotte Bless, a damaged attention-seeker who becomes sexually obsessed with a convicted murderer (John Cusack), while cock-teasing the only man—or really, teenager—who truly loves her (Zac Efron). It's Kidman's bravest, boldest, and most committed performance ever, and no one cares for the short-sighted reason that the movie is terrible.

How unfair. The Nicole Kidman of To Die For used to have a bright future before that bright future came true and blinded everyone to her comedic gifts. Once Kidman scored her first Oscar nomination for 2002's Moulin Rouge, she became the prey of the Hollywood awards hunt, in which the chase for For-Your-Consideration goes like this: take one prestigious actress (see Kidman, Berry, Jolie, Swank), make her play someone vulnerable (see Cold Mountain, Things We Lost in the Fire, The Changeling, Conviction), then cross your fingers. This is why we've had a full decade of Kidman drifting about in period costumes or, god forbid, stretching herself to play a movie star in Nine. And people, this is why the Oscar season is boring. This formula guarantees a chase to the middlebrow, and it's why every Best Picture Oscar winner since Silence of the Lambs is something your grandma would see at an arthouse matinee.

There's only one thing we can do to save the Academy Awards: nominate Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy.

Just because The Paperboy is bad doesn't void the bravery it took to make it. Kidman's Charlotte is a balls-out wonder. She's pure sex and need, at once over-confident and fragile. Slithering around in her neon polyester pants, Kidman is fully alive for the first time since Baz Luhrmann murdered her with tuberculosis. And The Paperboy even has not one but two stand-out scenes that will live on in infamy—Sally Field standing on a table in Norma Rae can't compete with Kidman peeing on Zac Efron or giving John Cusack an orgasm just by breathing at him from across a prison cell.

Imagine if Oscar voters were able to parse the jewels from the schlock. Why should Les Misérables clutter up every acting category? What if this year's ceremony didn't just include the dull favorites like Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln and Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty—roles everyone respects, but no one loves—but made room for Michael Shannon in Premium Rush and Michael Sheen in Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Imagine just being able to say, "The Academy Award-nominated bike messenger thriller Premium Rush."

Plus, this wouldn't be the first time we've given an actor a statuette for good work in an awful film. We did it three years ago when Mo'Nique won for Precious. It's no coincidence that Precious and The Paperboy were both directed by bizarro auteur Lee Daniels, a former casting agent and producer with the clout to get serious actors to take him seriously. He convinced the likes of Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to star in his debut film, Shadowboxer—-and that's despite a script which opens with Stephen Dorff shoving a pool cue up a guy's ass.

In fact, let's go one step further. Not only does Nicole Kidman deserve a Best Actress nomination for The Paperboy, Lee Daniels deserves Best Director. He's clearly one of the greats. Not because his films are any good, but because his actors would do—and do do—anything for him. Anthony Minghella, Sidney Pollack, Rob Marshall only wish they could pull as passionate of a performance out of Kidman, and Daniels behind-the-scenes alchemy is that powerful with every single one of his actors. He not only convinced Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. to shoot a strip scene in Shadowboxer, he convinced them to commit to it like it was high art. And The Paperboy performs more stunt-casting miracles: An American sweetheart, John Cusack, is loathsome; Macy Gray is the next great actress and Zac Efron, convincingly, can't get laid. Could Steven Spielberg swing that? Never.

Luckily, we're not alone in appreciating this wonderful, terrible gem. In October, a group of rogue cinephiles launched a For Your Consideration Facebook page flogging Nicole Kidman's outstanding work in The Paperboy. As of today, the page has 10 fans. Let's get that number growing.

Biz Break || ||

Leonardo DiCaprio & Tobey Maguire Eye 2 Animal Poaching Pics; Lee Daniels Eyes Janis Joplin Pic: Biz Break

Leonardo DiCaprio promoting "Aviator" in Hollywood, CA on November 20, 2004. 
© Armando Gallo / Retna Ltd.
** NO USA UNTIL FEBRUARY 20, 2004 **
** NO ITALY **
** NO TABS / SKIN MAGS **

Also in Wednesday morning's round-up of news briefs: Robert DeNiro is set to take Santa Barbara honors; Maggie Smith takes a swipe at Hollywood for "treating [audiences] like five year-olds"; And a writer to pen the Scarface re-make is found.
more »

Watch This || ||

WATCH: The Paperboy is dangerous, and Nicole Kidman likes it that way.

WATCH: The Paperboy is dangerous, and Nicole Kidman likes it that way.

When The Paperboy premiered at Cannes earlier this year, some people were delighted. Some were downright appalled. According to the film's director and cast, that's exactly what they hoped to accomplish.

When I spoke to them on the red carpet at the 50th Annual New York Film Festival on Wednesday, they were passionate about the film — and its right to offend.  more »

Festivals || ||

The One Thing Nicole Kidman Wouldn't Do For Lee Daniels' The Paperboy

The One Thing Nicole Kidman Wouldn't Do For Lee Daniels' The Paperboy

All decked out, Nicole Kidman received a gala tribute at the New York Film Festival Wednesday night ahead of the U.S. premiere of her latest starrer, The Paperboy, directed by Lee Daniels. Appearing like audiences have never seen her before, Kidman said she pushed her boundaries in the role in which she plays a sultry vixen who is carrying on with a convicted murderer in prison (played by John Cusack). Kidman opened up about the role and why she decided to take on the part which required her to — among other things — spread her legs and even pee on fellow co-star Zac Efron; she also shared why she never spoke to John Cusack on the set outside of their characters. But despite pushing herself into admittedly uncomfortable territory, there was one thing she would not do.
more »

Review || ||

REVIEW: Lee Daniels Delivers A Lurid, Jumbled Southern-Fried Sleaze Saga In 'The Paperboy'

REVIEW: Lee Daniels Delivers A Lurid, Jumbled Southern-Fried Sleaze Saga In 'The Paperboy'

The act of directing suggests, well, direction — that whether it comes together as planned or not, a filmmaker is pursuing a particular vision he or she wants to put on screen. But this is not the sense you get from The Paperboy, the new film from Precious' Lee Daniels, a feature that feels like it's been assembled scene by scene on whatever whims were guiding the director that day. No return to an opening framing sequence with narrator Macy Gray? Zac Efron's face superimposed over the bright Florida sky? The already infamous jellyfish-enabled watersports scene? Another in which Nicole Kidman and John Cusack have mind sex in a prison visiting room in front of an audience?
more »

Watch This || ||

The Paperboy Trailer Gives Some Good Zac Efron & Nicole Kidman And a Creepy John Cusack

The Paperboy Trailer Gives Some Good Zac Efron & Nicole Kidman And a Creepy John Cusack

The new trailer of Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels' The Paperboy hit Wednesday. Shots of the film, which premiered in Cannes this past May give a great tease including Zac Efron dancing with sex kitten Nicole Kidman in his tighty-whities and it shows John Cusack as the frightful villain (stalking in a Florida swamp no less).
more »

Biz Break || ||

Lee Daniels to Direct Martin Luther King Assassination Pic; Hawk Koch Elected AMPAS President: Biz Break

Lee Daniels to Direct Martin Luther King Assassination Pic; Hawk Koch Elected AMPAS President: Biz Break

Also in Wednesday morning's round-up of news briefs, Paramount Pictures signs a deal with Chinese platform to sent titles for VOD; the SXSW Film Festival is accepting submissions and registration; Selena Gomez to star in a new indie; and Josh Gad boards The Internship.
more »

Biz Break || ||

Lee Daniels' Paperboy Gets Delivery Date, Ryan Phillippe Readies Directorial Debut: Biz Break

Lee Daniels' Paperboy Gets Delivery Date, Ryan Phillippe Readies Directorial Debut: Biz Break

Also in Wednesday afternoon's round up of news briefs, Rob Reiner may join Martin Scorsese's latest project and Zooey Deschanel has a round about kind thing to say about the internet. And what does Piranhaconda director have to say to a critic who panned his latest? It isn't pretty...
more »

Cannes || ||

Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Lee Daniels's Polarizing Paperboy Storms Cannes

Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Lee Daniels's Polarizing Paperboy Storms Cannes

This is Thursday in Cannes: Zac Efron in tighty-whities, Nicole Kidman as a luscious sex kitten, Matthew McConaughey as a journalist with a sexual secret and a very creepy John Cusack. Such was just the tip of the iceberg this morning in Lee Daniels's outrageous The Paperboy, which will have its world premiere tonight as the festival hits its final swing. Opinions seemed to range wildly in all directions following the film's early morning screening: Applause and cries of "Bravo!" mixed with boos, laughter and a swift rush out of the huge Lumière Theatre to get reaction from Daniels and the cast at the press conference. The conversation in the press room took cues from the film's flamboyant flare, and then it went from there.
more »

AFI Fest || ||

Shirley MacLaine Earns AFI Honors, IFC Eyes Cannes' Sightseers: Biz Break

Shirley MacLaine Earns AFI Honors, IFC Eyes Cannes' Sightseers: Biz Break

Also in Wednesday morning's news briefs: Lee Daniels finds his Jacqueline Kennedy for The Butler, Harvey Weinstein and Karl Lagerfeld seek a star at amfAR auction, Cannes Film Market reports an increase in attendance and screenings, and more...
more »

Cannes || ||

Sony Classics Says Oui to No, Django Unchained Peek: Biz Break

Sony Classics Says Oui to No, Django Unchained Peek: Biz Break

Also in Tuesday morning's news round up: Icon will produce Lee Daniels' next project, James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain team for a double-feature, Zac Efron and Seth Rogen will pair for a new project, and more...
more »

Caption This || ||

Help Movieline Caption This Picture of Nicole Kidman Having a Moment in The Paperboy

Help Movieline Caption This Picture of Nicole Kidman Having a Moment in The Paperboy

A flurry of new images recently hit offering a sweaty, revealing look at Lee Daniels' Precious follow-up, the '60s-set adaptation The Paperboy -- so how's about a round of Caption This! After the jump, help Movieline caption this startling image of Nicole Kidman as the sensual woman at the center of this dark Southern potboiler, here seen having what I can only imagine is quite a moment while sandwiched between Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, and David Oyelowo.
more »

Cannes || ||

Cannes 2012: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Shia LaBeouf Officially Join the Competition

Cannes 2012: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Shia LaBeouf Officially Join the Competition

The Cannes Film Festival revealed its 2012 lineup this morning in Paris, with a competition heavy on male auteurs — and films featuring Croisette-ready stars like Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis), Kristen Stewart (On the Road), Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly), Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy (Lawless). Lee Daniels's Precious follow-up The Paperboy (starring Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman) is also among the 22 films screening in competition, along with Wes Anderson's opening night film Moonrise Kingdom. Other competition highlights include new work from veterans David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke, Ken Loach, Cristian Mungiu, Thomas Vinterberg, Walter Salles and Abbas Kiarostami. They are joined by fellow Cannes returnees Bernardo Bertolucci and Takashi Miike, who will screen their new films out of competition. And 2012 Sundance Film Festival competition winner Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin joins the festival's Un Certain Regard lineup along with 16 other titles.
more »

Newswire || ||

Is John Cusack The Next Mo'Nique?

Is John Cusack The Next Mo'Nique?

Director Lee Daniels made Oscar magic tapping Mo'Nique for Precious; the comic and talk-show host took the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress that year in addition to a slew of festival awards (including an acting prize at Sundance, where the film premiered in 2009). Now, Daniels has asked John Cusack to join his anticipated The Butler, playing the role of Richard Nixon. What does Cusack have in mind, and does his own masterpiece await?
more »

Close Reads || ||

George Lucas Promises Retirement (From Blockbusters... Not Counting Indiana Jones 5)

George Lucas, Getty Images

“I’m retiring,” Star Wars media emperor George Lucas recently told the NY Times, having toiled through today's difficult indie film climate to get his ambitious Red Tails into theaters. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.” Or, as Lucas producer Rick McCallum put it: “Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do. He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.” Say it ain't so, George! Wait, what's that? It's not really the end? Oh, you tease.
more »