Meryl Streep upsets, 'The Artist' triumphs, and Billy Crystal...does blackface? Watch video.
A mint julep for "The Help." A gin and whiskey blend for "War Horse." Spice up your viewing party with nine do-it-yourself punch recipes, each tailored to a Best Picture nominee. By Brody Brown.
Though The Oscars are the most prestigious awards in film, draw Hollywood’s biggest stars, and attract nearly 40 million viewers each year, the job of putting on the show seems like one only a masochist could be interested in.
Producers have the practically thankless task of creating a long, technically complicated telecast that most viewers will likely only grumble about anyhow. Honestly, when was the last time anyone got up after watching an awards show on TV and shouted “NAILED IT! Encore!”
Despite this fact—and the Los Angeles Times’ recent, not-so-surprising revelation that the “overwhelmingly white, male” body of Oscar voters doesn’t reflect Hollywood’s demographic makeup, let alone the movie-going public—we still gather in homes across the country to watch a show that, in the best case scenario, ultimately leaves us only partially satisfied.
So whether you’re someone who tries to dazzle your guests by cooking up the toughest recipes from Heston Blumenthal at Home, or more of the sort who chops up a bunch of Ho Hos and Sno Balls and passes them off as finger food, the surefire pleasure of your viewing party lies in themed potables.
Richard Rushfield and a team of Daily Beasts hosted an irreverent discussion of the Academy Awards' winners and losers. See the transcript.
Contending for the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film, this noirish movie features a breakout performance by Matthias Schoenaerts as an inarticulate, antisocial thug.
Movies like Bullhead don’t usually land Oscar nominations. One of this year’s five contenders for Best Foreign-Language Film, Bullhead isn’t a war drama, doesn’t involve precocious children or sentimental family relationships, and doesn’t come from an established international filmmaker.
Courtesy of Celluloid Dreams
Instead, director Michael R. Roskam’s first feature film eschews the familiar for gritty drama and sinewy character study set amid the strange-but-true world of Belgium's “hormone mafia”—criminals who traffic in drugs used to fatten up cattle for slaughter. The focus falls on Jacky Vanmarsenille, an inarticulate, antisocial thug hiding the physical and psychological scars of a traumatic childhood experience.
Roskam’s film and Matthias Schoenaerts’s brawny, transformative breakout performance in the lead role have already drawn comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s collaborations with Robert De Niro on Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, and Nicolas Winding Refn’s work with Tom Hardy on Bronson. Like those filmmakers, Roskam is interested in exploring the fine line between man and animal. Jacky’s feral nature—he communicates in grunts, withdraws from the world, and acts purely on instinct—gives him more in common with the cows on the farm than the people he struggles to connect with.
Their names may be in lights at the Academy Awards, but most nominees have some cringe-worthy roles in their past. From Rooney Mara as a chubby hater on ‘Law & Order’ to George Clooney’s nipple-y Batman suit. WATCH VIDEO.
1. Rooney Mara: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit—Episode: “Fat”
Oscar Nominee: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Though she’s billed as “Tricia Mara”—a wise choice, in retrospect—one of actress Rooney Mara’s earliest roles was as Jessica Delay, a 17-year-old girl who is found brutally beaten and sodomized by two morbidly obese teens in the 20th episode of the seventh season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Later it’s discovered that the two attackers’ older brother was the victim in a similar attack by Delay and her boyfriend, who despise fat people so much that they post pictures online of themselves giving fat kids beat-downs. “It was so awful,” Mara, who went to on captivate audiences with her brilliant portrayal of icy Goth hacker Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, told Allure. “Me and my boyfriend—although I [didn’t] look old enough to have a boyfriend—went and beat up these fat people, and at the end of the show you find out that I used to be obese and I hate fat people. It’s ridiculous. Who would ever do that? Who would beat someone up because they’re fat?”
2. Gary Oldman: The Scarlet Letter
Oscar Nominee: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The third documentary about the West Memphis 3 is a frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar. Lorenza Muñoz traces the films' 19-year journey, ending with the three men’s release.
It was a case too sensational to pass up. With a Southern Gothic feel, three Arkansas teenagers had been accused of torturing and killing three 8-year-old schoolboys in a Satanic ritual.
Damien Echols in prison in 2010. (Stan Carroll, The Commercial Appeal / Landov)
So when Sheila Nevins, HBO president of Documentary and Family Programming, saw the tiny wire story buried deep inside The New York Times in 1993, she sent documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky to investigate.
“Sheila saw that story as the Satanic worshipers who killed the Cub Scouts,” recalled Berlinger, whose 1992 documentary Brother’s Keeper had impressed Nevins. “At the time the country was coming off a wave of Satanic hysteria … It was a real life River’s Edge.”
Evan Shapiro, the president of IFC, offers suggestions to make the Oscars less excruciating. Yes to alcohol and time limits! No to banter! And more.
The night before the Academy Awards, IFC broadcasts the Independent Spirit Awards—a celebration of indie film by Film Independent. We shoot the show on the beach in Santa Monica. We wear whatever the heck we want—even flip-flops—and we all have a few drinks while the awards are given out. It is the opposite of stuffy, and it is a BLAST.
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
Does this make me an expert on awards shows? Certainly not. But each year, those of us who go to the Sprits and are not invited to the Oscars the next night watch the Oscars from home and note how less fun they seem—even (or maybe especially) for those who are actually there.
So, as the Oscars and Spirit Awards approach, I was asked by The Daily Beast to come up with some suggestions for making the Academy Awards a bit more fun to watch. It’s likely they asked a dozen or so people and I’m the only one stupid enough to accept [Editor’s note: Not true! He was the only one we asked!] and it’s highly doubtful that the Academy will give a hoot what I think. But I decided to take up the challenge.
Best-doc nominee ‘Undefeated’ chronicles a struggling inner-city Memphis football team led by a coach who transforms their game—and their lives. The directors and coach talk to Marlow Stern.
Now that “Tebowing” has given way to “Linsanity,” and Brazilian Barbie is no longer licking Ken’s Super Bowl tears, those jonesing for a football fix should look no further than the crowd-pleasing Oscar-nominated documentary Undefeated, which opens in select theaters on Feb. 17.
Team Photo of The Manassas Tigers on the verge of victory in Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin’s film “Undefeated”. (Courtesy of The Weinstein Company)
Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, Undefeated is the real-life version of NBC’s acclaimed drama Friday Night Lights—albeit twice as poignant. The film chronicles the 2009 high-school football season of the Manassas Tigers, a ragtag bunch of inner-city black kids from a destitute section of Memphis that used to be the crime capital of America. Since its founding in 1899, the Manassas football team had never won a playoff game, and in recent years, even resorted to participating in “pay games” where their squad was bused to richer schools several hours away to get their asses kicked in exchange for a few thousand dollars, which would then be funneled back into the underfinanced Manassas football program.
In stepped Bill Courtney, who joined the school as coach in 2004, and immediately changed the culture. He starting Manrise, a booster club to help fund the football team, ending the embarrassing “pay games”; convinced a group of talented eighth-grade players to stay in town and play ball at Manassas; and mentored his troubled kids on and off the field. Coach Bill’s efforts finally paid off in 2009. His gifted eighth-grade recruits—led by O.C. Brown and overachiever Montrall “Money” Brown at the offensive-tackle positions—are now seniors, and Manassas has finally fielded a team with the potential to win the school’s first playoff game ever.
Oscar nominees Gary Oldman and screenwriter Peter Straughan dissect five key scenes from the intricate spy drama.
More than 25 years ago, when he broke out playing the angry, skinny punk Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy, few could have envisioned Gary Oldman as the cerebral, icy, and archetypal British spy, George Smiley. But time and experience have mellowed the 54-year-old Oldman and sharpened his acting. And while his vast range of performances, from Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved to Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears, have brought him much critical praise, an Oscar nomination has eluded him—until now. With this nomination for his role as Smiley in John le Carré’s, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he is finally in the club. He says putting his stamp on the beloved le Carré spy series is nothing short of a “fairy tale.”
David Dencik as Toby Esterhase and Gary Oldman as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. (Jack English / Focus Features)
For screenwriter and fellow nominee Peter Straughan, the Oscar nod is more bittersweet. His wife and co-writer, Bridget O’Connor, succumbed to cancer in September 2010 at the age of 49. Straughan has struggled with how he should feel about the honor, going from deep sadness to celebrating the nomination as a tribute to his late wife’s work. He also says it was terrifying for them to take a stab at one of Britain’s most beloved novels, not to mention competing with the BBC’s beloved 1979 miniseries (shown on PBS here, and starring Alec Guinness as Smiley). Last weekend, Straughan and the late O’Connor won a BAFTA award for best adapted screenplay.
But the proof is in the work, and now Straughan, Oldman, and others on the production are already talking about a sequel. Here, Oldman and Straughan discuss key scenes in the movie, which was helmed by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson.
Woody Allen’s career-high moneymaker has received multiple Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture. Richard Rushfield speaks for those who hate it.
After years of flirting with its darker side, Oscar has gone warm and fluffy again, in what has shaped up as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Year of The Feel Good. There are no gritty Hurt Lockers in the hunt for this year’s trophy, as the Best Picture category overflows with crowd-pleasing, family-oriented, message-on-their-sleeve, make ‘em laugh and make ‘em cry schmaltz fests like The Help, War Horse, Hugo, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Midnight in Paris.
Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams in Midnight in Paris (2011). (Sony Pictures)
Of those ranks, perhaps no film’s success is more perplexing than Woody Allen’s ode to Paris. At the box office, Midnight in Paris is the highest grossing of the director’s 42-film career. It has made dozens of critics’ Top 10 lists, earned Golden Globe nominations, and, now, the director’s first Best Picture Oscar nod since Hannah and Her Sisters earned a spot in 1986.
What is unfortunate about this, however, is despite the plaudits, a good hard look at Midnight in Paris reveals a film that—far from a return to form for the iconic director—is miles from his best works. In fact, for its sentimentality, its lazy humor, its unpleasant caricatures, it may in fact be one of his worst. Certainly the only way Midnight in Paris is one of the best films of the year is if Oscar is grading on a scale where ancient icons get 95 points just for showing up.
Want to win an Oscar? Don’t make a documentary about a major celebrity, a fashion-y gay guy, or almost anything else about pop culture. Jacob Bernstein on why the Academy snubbed “Bill Cunningham New York,” “Senna,” and other crowd-pleasers.
The $1.5 million that Bill Cunningham New York did at the box office in 2011 may not make a lot of noise in an industry dominated by movies like Avatar and The Dark Knight, but it’s practically a blockbuster for a documentary.
Bill Cunningham shooting on the street in New York City from the feature-length documentary, "Bill Cunningham New York," ( 2010).
The movie about the life of The New York Times’ legendary street photographer has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98 out of 100 and had big-name critics like Kenneth Turan and Lisa Schwarzbaum swimming in a sea of superlatives.
In January, it got a Directors Guild Nomination for Best Documentary, leading many to believe it was on target for an Academy Award.
Mexican star of A Better Life beat out DiCaprio, Fassbender and Gosling for the Best Actor Oscarnod.
The star of last year’s A Better Life, Mexican actor Demian Bichir comes from an acting family so prolific that, in 2003, Mexico’s MTV Movie Awards gave the family their own category: “Best Bichir in a Movie.” But to the majority of American audiences, he is an utter unknown. When he appeared on this year’s list of Academy Award nominees—receiving a nod for Best Actor for his role—it was an explosion out of left field. Megawatt names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling (who were all nominated in the same category at the Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice Awards) found themselves snubbed in favor of Bichir, who’s now the underdog in a race against George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Jean Dujardin and Gary Oldman. The surprise has left many with the same question on their lips—who the hell is Demian Bichir?
Jerod Harris / Getty Images
Bichir, 48, has been in the spotlight since the age of 14 and, to date, has a whopping 62 film credits to his name—though only a handful of those titles may sound even vaguely familiar to those living north of the Mexican border. Che, Steven Soderbergh’s 2008 portrayal of the iconic Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevara, featured Bichir as the alternately loathsome and admirable Fidel Castro. Bichir’s stint on Season 4 of Weeds as the drug lord and mayor of Tijuana, Esteban Reyes (who then married the show’s heroine, Nancy Botwin in Season 5), may also ring a few bells. But with Bichir’s body of work featuring largely Spanish titles, A Better Life comes as the actor’s big American break—and he knows it too.
“I’m overwhelmed for having my name among these incredible actors,” Bichir said about his surprise Oscar nod in a statement to Us Weekly. “This could have never happened if Chris Weitz was not the head of this film … I dedicate this nomination to those 11 million human beings who make our lives easier and better in the U.S.”
From big names left off the list to upset contenders, see the most unexpected news from the Oscar nominations.
The Oscars are a yearly event in which Hollywood marries itself, and this time around the two biggest recipients of Academy love are Hugo (with 11 nominations) and The Artist (with 10). This shouldn’t be such a surprise: both are movies about how great the movies are, and at least one of them actually is.
Of course, as is usually the case with the Academy, most of the films that have been nominated are bigger with critics than moviegoers. Among the nine contenders for Best Picture, only one (The Help) crossed the $100 million mark at the box office.
Several of the others were polarizing in the extreme.
During Newsweek’s Oscar roundtable, The Help’s Viola Davis tried to speak about the difficulties of being a black actress in Hollywood—but a well-intentioned reply from Theron was just another example of the problem.
Charlize Theron surely meant no harm. The actress genuinely thought she was complimenting fellow thespian Viola Davis during this year’s Newsweek Oscar roundtable when she told Davis, “You’re hot as shit.’’
Actresses Charlize Theron and Viola Davis attend a Golden Globe Awards post-party at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2012 (John Shearer / Getty Images)
Their exchange revolved around Davis’s comments on finding work as an African-American actress. Davis, who has won praise for her starring role in The Help, was attempting to explain the difficult plight of being black and female in the movie industry. “I’m a 46-year-old black woman who really doesn’t look like Halle Berry, and Halle Berry is having a hard time,” said Davis.
No doubt hoping to forge a sisterly bond, Theron rushed in to reassure Davis that she was indeed “hot’’ and naively implied that a simple change of attitude would make a world of difference. Her exact words—“You have to stop saying that, because you’re hot as shit.’’
Charlize Theron sleeps with her statue, Viola Davis is terrified of Meryl Streep, and much more: Watch what happens when Newsweek puts six actors—and a famous dog—in one room.
Newsweek’s annual Oscar roundtable always feels like a cozy A-list dinner party. Since 1998, we’ve hosted the actors who gave some of the best performances of the year for a raw discussion about their craft. And this year, the conversation was at its best: fast, funny—and sexually charged. We should have known that it would be, given our lineup of George Clooney (The Descendants), Viola Davis (The Help), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Charlize Theron (Young Adult) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners). (See our essay about the day in this week’s Newsweek).
Gavin Bond for Newsweek
Here are some of the video highlights. And make sure to check out our exclusive behind-the-scene extras from our iPad edition, too, which is free for magazine subscribers.
1. Clooney: ‘It Was a Terrible Job!’
The charming Artist cleaned up at the Globes Sunday night. The film's star, Dujardin, tells the story behind his un-silent moment in the Oscar frontrunner.
Spoiler alert! The Hollywood awards season is upon us, and if you haven’t seen The Artist, the silent black-and-white charmer that won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical on Sunday night, read no further: get thee to a cinemaplex! We’ll wait!
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
The brave, slim-budget French production, which also topped the Critics’ Choice Awards on Thursday with four prizes, including Best Picture and Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius, and has received nods from the Screen Actors’ and Directors’ Guilds, has become the Oscar favorite for Best Picture. The Artist’s story of love, fear, and reinvention is a tip of the hat to cinema past and yet manages an exhilarating freshness.
French star Jean Dujardin, who won the Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy on Sunday, has already taken top acting honors at Cannes for his portrayal of George Valentin, a late-1920s silent-film icon troubled by the dawn of the talkies. The swoonworthy Valentin—Errol Flynn moves, Clark Gable mustache, and irresistible screendog sidekick—suddenly falls out of favor when the studios opt for sound. Peppy Miller (Berenice Béjo) is the admiring ingénue who gets her big break on the soundstage. As George's and Peppy’s careers crisscross, the rising young actress and the brooding fallen star find love. (Here comes the spoiler. You’ve been warned!) Dujardin has only one spoken line in the film, two little words at the end that seem to explain everything.
‘The Artist’ swept the major Academy Awards Sunday evening. Watch as the silent film wins best picture at the end of the show.
Richard Rushfield and a team of Daily Beasts hosted an irreverent discussion of the Academy Awards' winners and losers. See the transcript.
George Clooney, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer, Tilda Swinton, and Uggie the Dog are in one room. Welcome to Newsweek’s Oscar Roundtable.