Hollywood’s Proud Past Lives Again This Week With AFI, TCM Classic Film Festival And Danny Kaye Centennial

Pete Hammond

In Hollywood they say ‘everything old is new again’ and that has never been more true this week than with a massive celebration of classic films and stars. There is tonight’s AFI Night At The Movies with 13 classic titles (including Best Picture winners like In The Heat Of The Night  and Terms Of Endearment) taking up every screen at Hollywood’s Arclight Theatre complete with in-person introductions from their original stars (Shirley MacLaine, Cher, Sidney Poitier, Sally Field and Harrison Ford among them). There is a year-long centennial celebration of the great Danny Kaye and a reminder of his talent at year’s end with the Fox remake of a Kaye classic, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. And starting Thursday with the World Premiere restoration of Funny Girl, the 4th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off its four day run in Hollywood.

Even as competing fests this week at Tribeca and in San Francisco try to steal the spotlight for new films from a new generation, The Turner Classic Movies fest has become a big deal focusing on the past. And not only for the network, but as a signature event where studios can show off new digital restorations of classic films with the same hoopla that might have accompanied their original premieres. Though its stars Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif won’t be attending the Funny Girl restoration’s premiere at the Chinese Theatre tomorrow night (Sharif is in Europe; Streisand is sending a statement to be read by TCM host Robert Osborne) many vintage stars including festival honorees like Eva Marie Saint, Ann Blyth, Max Von Sydow and numerous others are expected to walk the red carpet. Competing for attention across the street at the Hollywood Roosevelt Pool will be TCM’s pristine digital presentation of 1958′s South Pacific with stars Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen on hand. TCM’s longtime talent exec, Darcy Hettrich has the herculean task of turning out all the great stars of Hollywood’s past  that keep these fans buzzing. Read More »

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Inside Oscar Nominees Luncheon: Hammond

By | Monday February 6, 2012 @ 7:09pm PST
Pete Hammond

Today’s 31st annual Oscar nominees luncheon was typically relaxed and collegial — a place where there were only winners, at least for today — and contenders could catch up with old friends who also just happen to … Read More »

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Oscar Q&A: Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow & Thomas Horn On ‘Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close’

Warner Bros’ year-end release Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close faced a challenge of being too late and too early — simultaneously. Its late December release and tight post-production schedule meant it wasn’t out in time for many year-end best-of lists, and as a result other films have taken the spotlight during the past month on the awards circuit. At the same time, for some it might be too early for a film that explores the horrors of the 9/11 tragedy. Still, the drama starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn and Max von Sydow did show up on the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Best Picture nominees list. (Warner Bros is promoting von Sydow’s performance with a new featurette that includes new sound bites, behind-the-scenes footage and clips; see it below). Bullock, von Sydow and Horn sat down with Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond for an AwardsLine Q&A following the first industry screening of the film in early December.

On what drew Sandra Bullock to this 9/11 themed feature:
BULLOCK: The way the story was written through Thomas (Horn’s) character Oskar’s eyes, really inspired me, because it allowed you to feel things as an innocent, rather than as an adult. Knowing everything that we knew about the (9/11) events and how much pain it caused everyone and this child’s desire just to understand, “Why?” And there is no answer. It also shows a healing — how it bonded people together that you would never expect to come together. I was in New York that day and you saw every person reaching out to someone else. … There is a great line that Oskar has: “We’re all bonded by loss. If you have a good life, you’re going to experience loss. It connects us all. It makes us all the same.” There’s a healing in that which says, “You’re not alone. You’re not different.” Read More »

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Hammond: Incredibly Late, Can ‘Extremely Loud’ Catch Up In Best Picture Race?

Pete Hammond

Coming into December Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, producer Scott Rudin’s third Oscar hopeful this Fall (after Moneyball and December 21 release The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), was expected to become an immediate major player in the Oscar game, but several problems crept up including some last-minuteRead More »

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OSCARS: Stellar Work By Veterans May Keep Upstarts Out Of Supporting Actor Race

Pete Hammond

Although there are some young Hollywood turks trying to break through in an ‘Extremely Large and Incredibly Close’ race for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, 2011 may eventually become known as the year of the veteran. Acting legends with decades of iconic screen performances and Oscar winners dominate the field of frontrunners in one of Oscar’s most crowded and intriguing categories. With names like Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow, Ben Kingsley, Nick Nolte, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Albert Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hanks and Robert Forster in the mix, the pedigree of contenders for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is formidable indeed. But could a relative newcomer like Jonah Hill or Patton Oswalt swoop in and take the whole thing? Here are the major players.

FRONTRUNNERS
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, BEGINNERS

Plummer turns 82 this month and is enjoying a major resurgence in a film acting career that goes back to 1958, when he made his debut in Stage Struck. Since then his fine screen roles have often been eclipsed by his own stage-struck ways with a number of memorable performances in the theater including a couple that won him Tony Awards. He only just received his first Oscar nomination two years ago for The Last Station, but with his touching role as a 75-year-old widower who finally decides to come out of the closet, he may grab the actual statuette this time. An effective, if small, supporting role in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo only adds to his chances.

MAX von SYDOW, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
With a life spent before the cameras for over 60 years, the 82-year-old von Sydow is an acting legend whose work ranges from several landmark Ingmar Bergman films to the harrowing Exorcist. Yet like Plummer (who is just eight months his junior), he incredibly has been Oscar-nominated only once, for 1987’s Pelle the Conqueror. But his touching and completely wordless performance as a distant grandfather in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close could finally be his ticket to the Kodak stage.

KENNETH BRANAGH, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Another acting icon, Laurence Olivier, is also part of this year’s supporting race — but in this case he is being channeled by none other than Olivier fan and student Kenneth Branagh, who portrays Olivier in 1956 as he was directing and starring with Marilyn Monroe in The Prince And The Showgirl. Branagh has tackled many Olivier screen roles like Henry V and Hamlet (he even directed the remake of Olivier’s Sleuth), but taking on the actual persona of the man himself was particularly challenging and puts him — and his mentor — right back in the Oscar race.

BEN KINGSLEY, HUGO
Already an Oscar winner for 1982’s Gandhi, Kingsley effectively takes on the role of film pioneer Georges Melies in Martin Scorsese’s valentine to the early days of movies. With a total of four nominations split evenly between lead and supporting categories, Kingsley is an Academy favorite who once again creates a memorable character, one with great meaning for the filmmakers who will be voting. Will being the only serious candidate in a 3D movie also separate him from the pack?

ALBERT BROOKS, DRIVE
Until now Brooks was only known for comedy — those he wrote and directed and those he starred in. He was even previously Oscar-nominated for his hilarious supporting turn in 1987’s Broadcast News. But none of his previous work prepared critics and audiences for his nasty, villainous Bernie Rose in the noirish thriller Drive. But his brilliant interpretation and cool new screen persona should deservedly win him a second Oscar nomination.

BRAD PITT, THE TREE OF LIFE
Pitt is a double threat this year. He’s already won the New York Film Critics award given for both Moneyball and The Tree Of Life, and ever since its debut in Cannes, Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or winner has sparked Oscar buzz for Pitt’s effectively low-key change-of-pace and critically acclaimed work as a 1950s-era father. Could he become one of those rare thesps who score both supporting and lead actor nominations in the same year? Don’t bet against it.

JONAH HILL, MONEYBALL
Pitt’s co-star in Moneyball who was best known for his antics in movies like Superbad enjoyed his first taste of awards buzz for shedding several pounds and shrewdly underplaying the whiz-kid genius who comes up with an inexpensive formula to create a winning baseball team. Going head to head with Pitt, Hill proved he could hold his own just as he did in last year’s lesser-known Cyrus.

KEVIN SPACEY,  MARGIN CALL
Although the film was well-received at its Sundance debut, Margin Call was not considered a major awards contender, even by its own distributor. That has changed with several early awards and Oscar talk for two-time winner Kevin Spacey, who has spent a lot more time in recent years running London’s Old Vic rather than on his own film career. A change-of-pace performance won raves and could put Spacey back in the front row at the Oscars.

PATTON OSWALT, YOUNG ADULT
Perhaps best known as a stand-up comedian and the voice of the lead rat in Pixar’s Ratatouille, Oswalt is quickly establishing his credentials as a serious actor, first in the critically acclaimed indie film The Big Fan and now on a larger scale as a lonely man whose life was defined by an unfortunate incident in high school. His scenes opposite Charlize Theron are awkward, funny, poignant and memorable. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’

New trailer for director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter Eric Roth’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel reveals a bit more of Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow. The Warner Bros movie opens in limited release Christmas Day and expands January 20.

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