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OSCARS: Banner Year For Acting Means Tough Decisions For The Academy

By | Saturday November 30, 2013 @ 9:00am PST
Pete Hammond

This is a year with such quality acting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shouldAwardsLine.LogoBW seriously consider following the example set with the best picture category a few years back and expand to 10 potential nominees. It’s an embarrassment of riches with some history-making possibilities.

robertredfordlost2Consider the battle of the 77-year-olds: Robert Redford in All Is Lost and Bruce Dern in Nebraska. Neither has won an acting Oscar and both have only been nominated once before for their onscreen work. If either manages to take the gold, they would be the oldest ever to win in the best actor category. Or consider that on the 50th anniversary of Sidney Poitier’s groundbreaking best actor victory in 1963 for Lilies Of The Field, there’s suchbrucedern3 a diverse list of candidates this year, including African-Americans Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and the UK-born Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) and Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom). You could even throw in another fine performance from April’s 42, in which Chadwick Boseman memorably starred as Jackie Robinson. We could also see two-time winner Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks) and never-been-nominated Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Mud) grabbing nominations in both lead and supporting. Read More »

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OSCARS: Moments In Oscar History, Part 2: Actors & Actresses

By | Wednesday February 13, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST

In honor of the 85th Academy Awards, AwardsLine is spotlighting memorable moments and winners from the last eight decades. Part 1 was The Producers. This is Part 2: Actors & Actresses. Part 3 will be The Directors.

Sidney Poitier, 1964: Academy Award winner Jack Lemmon hosted the 36th Academy Awards, which took place April 13, 1964, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Though the Academy still rarely awards comedies, best picture and director honors went to Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones. Hud claimed two of the acting trophies, for lead actress Patricia Neal and supporting actor Melvyn Douglas, while Sidney Poitier was best actor for Lilies of the Field and Margaret Rutherford was supporting actress for The V.I.P.s. Among the acting winners, only Poitier was on hand to accept his statuette at the ceremony.

“Because it is a long journey to this moment, I am naturally indebted to countless numbers of people, principally among whom are Ralph Nelson, James Poe, William Barrett, Martin Baum, and of course, the members of the Academy. For all of them, all I can say is a very special thank you.”—Sidney Poitier (pictured with Sidney Skolsky) accepting his first Oscar for Lilies of the Field. He won a second honorary Oscar in 2001.

Barbra Streisand, 1969: The 41st Academy Awards took place April 14, 1969, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with a group of 10 hosts that included Ingrid Bergman, Sidney Poitier, and Burt Lancaster. The best picture Oscar went to Oliver!, and its director Carol Reed also took home a statuette. Cliff Robertson won the lead actor trophy for Charly, but the actress category was a tie—the second in Oscar history—between Katharine Hepburn for Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl. It was the first Oscar for Streisand, and Hepburn’s third— director Anthony Harvey accepted for Hepburn, who was not in attendance.
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OSCAR: Annette Bening Q&A

Pete Hammond

Few actresses have the chops to alternate between comedy and drama like 52-year-old Annette Bening. Hollywood really took notice of her in The Grifters which resulted in the first of what would be four career Oscar nominations including this year’s Best Actress nod for The Kids Are All Right, a dramedy contender for Best Picture. Deadline’s Awards columnist Pete Hammond interviewed her recently:

DEADLINE: Did you know right away you wanted to do The Kids Are All Right?
ANNETTE BENING: I responded immediately. I had met Lisa Cholodenko, the director, in our neighborhood, and I had also seen her work. So I had that context. I knew it was Julianne Moore playing the other part. There was some time before it got made, and they continued to work on the script. I ended up liking some of the stuff that was in the previous drafts. I thought it was very important that humor was really key. So there was a little bit of tweaking. But basically I just loved it.

DEADLINE: That delicate balance of drama and comedy is so hard to do right.
BENING: Yes, it is and the reason it isn’t done more is because it’s harder! It’s easier to be earnest and it’s harder to find a way to tell the truth and then also keep the sense of humor in a story. So when you can find something that walks that line, and still gets at the … Read More »

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OSCAR: Is Natalie Portman Overexposed?

Pete Hammond

For that matter, is Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar chances in The King’s Speech hurt by a dud movie earlier in 2010? Or Justin Timberlake’s in The Social Network by a kid’s movie that came out at Christmas? Or Nicole Kidman’s in Rabbit Hole by a comedy releasing in February? Or James Franco’s in 127 Hours by a soap opera turn during Academy Awards week? The careers of Oscar contenders have taken some strange twists and turns of late. But none more so than that of Natalie Portman, who has new movies opening in theatres in January, February, April, and May, and the marketing for them as already begun to kick in. The question is whether this constant Portman media blitz will help or hurt her Black Swan campaign?

The undisputed specialty hit of the year that has won her Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG nominations also has made Portman one of the frontrunners for the Best Actress Oscar. But just as the first round of voting is going on, she seems to be everywhere, most prominently on billboards and trailers for the January 21st release of No Strings Attached, a comedy directed by Ivan Reitman that asks the question: “Can Sex Friends be Best Friends?” It is indeed a sexy kind of performance demonstrating a different side of her talents and certainly miles away from a demented ballerina.

But that’s not all. There are movie trailers running on the internet and in theatres for her April release Your Highness, another upcoming Portman comedy “from the director of Pineapple Express” in … Read More »

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OSCAR: Noomi Rapace Q&A

Pete Hammond

This year Hollywood types everywhere were discussing the Swedish films made from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of books – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Noomi Rapace has already won the Swedish equivalency for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. But the most recent actress to appear in a small foreign film, get an out–of–the–blue nomination, win the Best Actress Oscar, then land big roles in major studio tentpoles was Marion Cotillard. Noomi’s U.S. agents and managers have assured her: “You can have that same journey.” Pete Hammond recently spoke to Noomi Rapace about her role and Oscar chances:

DEADLINE: What do you think of the American remake of these movies that David Fincher is directing in Sweden?
NOOMI RAPACE: That’s weird. They’re doing it with a Swedish accent as well. That’s also pretty weird. But I’m quite okay with it. I really knew in my heart that I totally loaned myself to her and she took over most of my life. When it was released and they started to talk about the remake, people asked me and I said. ‘No, I’m done with her.’ And then everybody came back to me and said, ‘But it’s David Fincher.’ There can’t be any reason to do it again. I don’t want to repeat myself. Hopefully they will do something far away from our films.

DEADLINE: Are you the kind of actor who can leave the Read More »

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OSCAR: Actress Race Cannot Be Any Hotter

Pete Hammond

Following a 3-part Best Picture rundown and a Best Actor roundup, I continue my occasional series highlighting Oscar contenders in various categories by turning to perhaps the most competitive one of all in a very competitive year:

2010 is one of those years when you almost wish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences could have created 10 slots for Best Actress, just as they did for Best Picture. Usually it’s hard to even fill the Best Actress ballot with five legitimate contenders because of the normal sorry state of strong roles for women, particularly in studio films. But this year there’s clearly something in the water and some performances which, in another year might have actually won, likely will not even end up with a nomination this time around. That’s how fierce this competition is. One key reason could be that some of the top contenders like Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, and Tilda Swinton also took the reins of their projects and moonlighted as producers in order to shepherd difficult material that might never have made it to the screen otherwise. Here’s the alphabetical lineup of hopefuls and their Oscar chances as we head into Thanksgiving:

ANNETTE BENING in THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (Focus Features) - Bening is a previous three-time nominee who has lost on two of those occasions  to Hilary Swank who is also back in contention this year but hey, no pressure.  Bening is a well-respected  thesp and Academy insider who reps her fellow actors on the Board of Governors and serves as Secretary. The only thing that matters though is performance on the screen and she knocks it out of the park with a wise and knowing turn as a successful doctor going through a bad patch in her relationship with longtime partner Julianne Moore. OSCAR CHANCE: Blooming. It has seemed like it might finally be Bening’s year ever since the picture opened in early July and Focus is determined to campaign heartily for her. Only problem is she must compete with co-star Julianne Moore , also way overdue (see below).

HALLE BERRY in FRANKIE & ALICE (Freestyle Releasing) - As a woman with multiple personality disorder, Berry pulls out all the stops in the kind of role that screams Oscar! Oscar!  On top of that she co-produced this passion project and has doggedly stuck with it even if its less-than-commercial nature made it a tough sell to distributors. Now after toying with getting into the race with this same film last year, Berry feels the time is ripe for a December stealth entry  ala Jeff Bridges last season in Crazy Heart. And we all know what happened there. OSCAR CHANCE: There are precious few possibilities for anyone of color in this year’ s contest and Berry is out working it hard for her indie surprise but she’s already got one gold statuette and this film may just be too small  to gain much of a following among her fellow actors this year.

ANNE HATHAWAY in LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (20th Century Fox) - One of just a small handful of major studio contenders in the category , Hathaway  goes for her second nomination in three years (Rachel Getting Married) and  gets to be funny, sexy and poignant as a young woman with early-onset Parkinsons disease involved in a complicated new romance with Jake Gyllenhaal. OSCAR CHANCE: Comedy rarely carries the day here  but Hathaway has a couple of killer dramatic scenes too.  She’s well liked but so far the buzz level on her Academy chances is pretty quiet. If she gets out there in a big way she may be able to climb into the game. Her SNL stint last Saturday raised her profile but considering the killer competition  she needs to move fast. Strong reviews this week and the inevitable babe factor male voters seem to  consider in this category could help.

SALLY HAWKINS in MADE IN DAGENHAM (Sony Pictures Classics) - Although she won a Comedy or Musical Golden Globe for Happy Go Lucky she was overlooked for even an Oscar nomination two years ago.  With this enormously likeable and determined factory worker who leads the fight for equal pay in late-60’s England she could get points for coming back with another winning performance so soon. OSCAR CHANCE: Sally is a bit far down the pack this year and hasn’t had a whole lot of time to campaign since she is also appearing in a Broadway play now in the thick of the season.  A terrific actress but this probably isn’t her Academy year either. Read More »

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