How did Alfonso Cuaron make outer space seem so real in Best Picture Oscar nominee ‘Gravity’?
Film has always been a medium reliant on magic. But for Gravity, the director Alfonso Cuaron needed to redefine what that magic could be, to go to the limits of what is now technically possible. The film, which is up for ten Oscars this Sunday, is a tense, visceral ride set in space, with Sandra Bullock as an astronaut desperately trying to survive a series of catastrophes in her struggle to make it back to earth alive. The design and special effects, conveyed heart-stoppingly in 3D, make us physically experience every horrendous peril as it appears.
SANDRA BULLOCK as Ryan Stone in Warner Bros. Pictures' dramatic thriller "GRAVITY," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Warner Bros. Picture)
Four years ago, when Gravity began its long incubation, the digital technology of film was advancing rapidly, and Cuaron knew that the cutting edge work was to be found in London, where he now lives. Cuaron was working on early concepts for the film with the producer David Heyman; his favorite longtime director of photography and frequent Oscar nominee, Emmanuel Lubezki; and Tim Webber, a visual effects wizard from the London-based company Framestore, who had won an Academy Award nomination for his work on the The Dark Knight.
Ahead of Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony, our critics Marlow Stern and Kevin Fallon debate what will—and should—win the Best Picture Oscar.
We’ve reached the finale: the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture. A prize that’s been bestowed on some of the finest films in Hollywood history—Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather Part II—and a plethora of forgettable ones as well (The King’s Speech, anyone?).
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This year’s pundits see it as a two-horse race between Alfonso Cuarón’s 3-D epic Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock as a marooned astronaut drifting off in space, and Steve McQueen’s poignant drama 12 Years a Slave, chronicling the journey of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) from freedom to bondage and back again. The dark horse is David O. Russell’s saucy caper American Hustle, which could sneak in and steal it.
Doug Kenney was many things to many people—funny, generous, unknowable. He helped create National Lampoon and co-wrote ‘Animal House.’ Then one day he went off a cliff.
The flood of loving tributes to the late Harold Ramis this week has encouraged many of us to look back over his rich movie career. It also brings to mind Doug Kenney, one of Ramis’s co-writers on Animal House (Chris Miller is the other). Kenney, one of the founders of National Lampoon, also wrote Caddyshack (directed by Ramis), but he died in August 1980 at 33, when he fell off a cliff in Hawaii. The police ruled the death accidental but others weren’t so sure. “Doug probably fell while he was looking for a place to jump,” Ramis said.
The following year, Robert Sam Anson profiled Kenney for Esquire. He’d known Kenney when they were teenagers, when they attended rival private schools in Ohio. “We debated against each other when I was going to the quite academically superior Jesuit school in town, St. Ignatius,” remembers Anson, “and I had very dismissive feelings about Gilmour and anyone who went there. Boy, was I wrong. Doug, who seems to have been beloved by everyone, was a genius in the Michael O’Donoghue class, and I feel privileged to have known him, if only glancingly. I think about Doug a lot. This, by the way, is my favorite piece I’ve ever done.”
The Daily Beast crunched the numbers to find the people behind the scenes who have created our most beloved films. From Harvey Weinstein to Steven Spielberg, see who made our list.
Actors and directors might get all the red carpet love, but the Best Picture Oscar statue goes home with a film’s producer—the man or woman who actually runs the show.
As for just what a producer does, the credit is likely the most misunderstood in the business (besides the dolly grip). In a nutshell, producers are the ones who oversee a movie from beginning to end. Before a film is made, producers choose projects, raise money, and hire the director and often oversee casting. During filming, they organize the shoot and make sure the budget is adhered to. And in postproduction a producer oversees the remaining tasks like song selection and editing.
Want to turn Oscar gold into your own green? Check out our handy fact sheet listing all the information you need to predict who will on Sunday night.
Want to make some money on the Oscars? There’s no denying the appeal of turning Gravity’s Oscar gold into your own green, so we’ve developed this handy fact sheet listing all the essential elements to help you predict who will win—so you, in turn, can win your Oscars pool.
For each nominee in the six major categories, we’ve compiled information on the biggest factors in determining an Oscar winner: the precursor awards (SAG, Golden Globe, etc.) they’ve been nominated for and won this year, their own Oscar history (previous wins and nominations), what critics thought of the performance, and, the most crucial element, the current Vegas betting odds on whether that nominee will win.
So click through this info on the major nominees. (The “Road to Oscars” lists the precursor awards—the Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice, BAFTA, Directors Guild Association, and Golden Globe—the Oscar nominee has been nominated for. If it’s listed in color, that means they won the award.) Outside of the big six categories—you know, the ones everyone cares about—we just listed the nominee ruled most likely win by Vegas odds.
More and more top-notch dramatic thespians are pulling a Liam Neeson and transforming themselves into action stars in middle age. Is this who we want to blow s**t up?
Once upon a time, when a man who had just celebrated his 50th birthday was forced to perform daring feats of physical heroism by circumstances beyond his control—a mulleted, wild-eyed Mel Gibson, for instance—it was reasonable for him to respond that he was "getting too old for this shit."
These days it seems like no one in Hollywood is too old to be an action star. When Lethal Weapon premiered on March 6, 1987, Danny Glover, who played aging cop Roger Murtaugh, was only 40. In today's market he'd be considered an infant.
Critics have already commented on the rise of the Geri-Action Movie: "gun-filled punch-'em-ups with stars in their fifties and sixties." But for a long time these films weren't all that unique. They tended to feature older actors who'd spent their entire careers shooting bad guys and blowing stuff up: Bruce Willis in A Good Day to Die Hard; Sylvester Stallone (67), Jean-Claude Van Damme (53), Arnold Schwarzenegger (66) and the rest of the cast of The Expendables. Sure, there were more wrinkles. And more Botox. And more jokes about arthritis. But Willis starring in A Good Day to Die Hard at 58 isn't all that different from, say, Clint Eastwood starring in In the Line of Fire at 63 back in 1993. Action stars age. That's never stopped them from being action stars.
But over the past few years something has shifted in Hollywood. Now actors who weren't action stars in their youth are suddenly morphing into action stars in middle-age. The trend began in 2008 with Taken, a Luc Besson-Pierre Morel action thriller starring Liam Neeson as a former CIA operative in search of his kidnapped daughter. It received mixed reviews but surprised studio executives by raking in $227 million worldwide—ten times as much as it cost to make. Taken 2 followed in 2012; Taken 3 was announced earlier this month.
Ahead of Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony, our critics Marlow Stern and Kevin Fallon debate who will—and should—win the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress.
In two days, the 86th Annual Academy Awards, an opulent orgy of A-list Hollywood stars, moguls, and self-congratulation, will be viewed by millions of cineastes and stargazers (not a billion, as the Academy often claims). There will, inevitably, be terrible upsets and “WTF?” moments that will inspire the nation to clutch its collective pearls.
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There may also be wonderful, shining moments. Who can forget Tom Hanks’s wonderful speech thanking AIDS sufferers everywhere (“the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels…”) after winning the Best Actor Oscar for playing one in Philadelphia, or Sally Field tearfully yelling, “You like me, right now, you like me!” after winning her second Best Actress Oscar for Places in the Heart.
There's one Carrie-trait Sarah Jessica Parker may never be able to shake—a love of shoes. The 'Sex and the City' star dishes on her new shoe line and her love of fashion.
In Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) tells her Vogue editor, “I may not know men, but shoes—shoes I know.”
The quintessential single girl became best known for her outrageous, yet highly-covetable wardrobe—particularly her fascination with exquisite designer shoes by the likes of Christian Louboutin, and, of course, Manolo Blahnik.
Ever since her tenure as Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker has herself become recognized as a style icon—an almost real-life version of the character she played on television. Parker swears, however, that Bradshaw had a more “reckless” relationship with shoes than she does. Surprisingly, her fascination with shoes and eye for style actually pre-date her Sex and the City years.
Read the full text, without design or pictures, below:
The Party Monster Lives For the Applause
Two hundred and forty miles west of Manhattan, in a stately red brick building perched atop a hill, the party monster waits. For 17 years, he’s been on a never-ending tour of New York state penitentiaries that’s taken him to the Elmira Correctional Facility where he waits, not so patiently, for that call from the parole board, the one that will give him his life back. The club kid fantasy was never meant to end this way: alone, in prison, a middle-aged murderer.
After many painful months without the beloved show, ‘Scandal’ is back. Jeff Perry, who plays White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene, says everything's about to change.
The pit bull of the West Wing has his tail between his legs.
ABC's "Scandal" stars Jeff Perry as Cyrus Beene. (Craig Sjodin/ABC)
For two-and-a-half bold, twist-filled, absolutely insane seasons, Jeff Perry’s White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene has been fixing everyone else’s problems, even if it means baring some teeth and barking up some morally ambiguous (if not downright unethical) trees to reach his goal.
Before the release of the fratastic film, America was in a funk. But thanks to funnyman Harold Ramis and Delta Tau Chi he launched an era of laughter.
America has gotten funnier since the Baby Boom. This used to be a serious country with fearsome Communist Bloc enemies, fall-out shelters, people who’d been 5-star generals, and PT-109 WWII heroes as presidents. There was the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and assassinations of our greatest public figures, deadly race riots, and the draft.
Universal Pictures/Everett Collection
Then the Baby Boom came of age. The only sober moment we’ve had in the past four decades was 9/11, and we spoiled that by invading a place where the attack didn’t come from, full of people who didn’t cause it, for reasons we pulled out of our butt.
‘Portlandia’ pair Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein open up about their hilarious IFC show, which returns today.
I remember the exact moment Portlandia won me over. During the second episode of Season 1, entitled “A Song For Portland,” a petulant, gum-smacking coed in booty shorts, played by Aubrey Plaza, wanders into a bookstore. She’s on the hunt for a few textbooks to satisfy her women’s studies courses. She has, unfortunately for her, landed at “Women and Women First,” a cozy little spot run by Candace (Fred Armisen, gray wig), and Toni (Carrie Brownstein, black wig)—two deadly-serious feminists out to rid the world of patriarchy one “queer horror” at a time. They size up their prey.
“This class you’re taking? You don’t need it,” says the soft-spoken Candace. “We have classes here,” she adds, pointing to a chalkboard behind her. “Abby D’s Queer Question … why don’t you take that?”
Three major celebrity stylists share what happens when zippers bust and colors change on Hollywood’s biggest night.
In many ways, the red carpet has surpassed the awards themselves as the most important—and stress-inducing—aspect of Oscar Sunday. The simplicity of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s yesteryear—think Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly—have been replaced by a spectacle where it’s all about what you wear, not who you are, or what film you were in. Between liaising with PR and design houses, samples, and ensuring both your client—and the millions of viewers watching and critiquing at home—are satisfied, a stylist’s job consists of a whole lot of nerves, and not a whole lot of sleep.
“There’s so much pressure now, especially with the internet,” stylist Anita Patrickson, whose clients include Julianne Hough, Julie Delpy, Emma Watson, and Chanel Iman, told The Daily Beast. “Everybody thinks they’re a stylist, so everybody’s got an opinion. There are hundreds of people who are critiquing your work who think they know how [styling] works, or thinking how easy it must be to just choose a dress and put it on somebody. But it definitely doesn’t work that way—some designers only work with certain people; body shapes and sizes aren’t probably as they look on the carpet; and everybody’s got their different insecurities, especially for the Oscar’s. This is the big momma of award shows.”
Jeanann Williams, 33, is a former PR executive-turned-celebrity stylist whose close friend Naomi Watts came calling for the Venice Film Festival in 2012. “Naomi and I are quite close,” said Williams, who has since added Suki Waterhouse and Emily Mortimer as clientele. “She said she admired my style and wanted to [work] together, so she asked me to dress her. I’ve done every outfit since.”
Where can you find a naked, peace sign-waving gallerist, partisan politics, and borderline incest? Why, the Academy Awards, of course!
We’re now just three days away from the most ballyhooed extravaganza in all of showbiz. Yes, the 86th Academy Awards will be beamed in front of (an alleged) one billion eyeballs Sunday night. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, and Cate Blanchett will light up the red carpet. The E! network will implement cutting-edge technology like the “mani cam” and their insane GlamCam 360. Ryan Seacrest will be there chatting everyone up—and have his security scanning the perimeter for any sign of Sacha Baron Cohen. And Jennifer Lawrence will, in all likelihood, be her usual, wacky, lovable self.
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But there may also be craziness, because when you give a gaggle of self-important movie stars a microphone that big, well, they tend to go a little mad sometimes.
There’s a storied history of insanity at the Academy Awards. Who can forget Rob Lowe’s what the f--k? duet with Snow White, or the artist’s “shortcomings” seen ‘round the world? Without further ado, let’s revisit the most WTF moments in Oscar history.
Aaron Carter Spills Love for Duff
“I’ll spend the rest of my life” to win her back.More
Isaiah Washington Back on ‘Grey’s’
7 years after firing for gay slur.More
'Wolf,' 'Hustle' Lead MTV Nods
But who will win Best Shirtless Performance?More
CLOSE YOUR EYES!
Nude Bieber Video to Be Released
Judge orders private parts blurred.More
John Travolta: ‘Let It Go!'
Speaks out about Oscar slip-up.More
Rob Ford Laughs Off Idea of Rehab
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”More