Meryl Streep upsets, 'The Artist' triumphs, and Billy Crystal...does blackface? Watch video.
In Rampart, Woody Harrelson plays a corrupt, violent LAPD officer. He talked to Richard Rushfield about why he never wanted to play a cop and being a “friggin’ happy” person.
In his three decades of acting, Woody Harrelson has gleefully taken on the roles of serial killers, psychopathic zombie hunters, and criminally stupid bartenders, but in his 50th year of life, he finally took a role that forced him to exhibit his greatest demons: a uniformed officer of the LAPD.
And not only a police officer, but a very, very bad one, teetering on the edge of sanity and lawlessness in Rampart, a new movie by director Oren Moverman. The film is a rematch for Harrelson and Moverman, who previously took the actor to other dark places in The Messenger. In that 2009 film, Harrelson—often thought of as a comic talent because of his Cheers beginnings—showed again he could be a Serious Actor, as a soldier who brings the news to families that their son or husband has been killed in combat. “He said he never wanted to play a soldier and he never wanted to play a cop,” said Moverman in an interview. “So I cast him as a soldier and now I’ve cast him as a cop.”
The Messenger earned Harrelson a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and there is a chance his performance in Rampart could bring another nod (he has already been nominated for Best Actor, in 1996’s The People vs. Larry Flynt). Moverman said, “I knew he would be uncomfortable playing a cop, and I thought that would be great to get him out of his comfort zone. And when Woody’s out of his comfort zone, he works harder to convince himself that he’s true to the part.”
One of the year’s biggest hits, the historical comedy-drama The Help is riding a massive wave of Oscar buzz this awards season, and is considered a major contender in several categories, including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. Here, cast members Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, director Tate Taylor, author Kathryn Stockett, and producers Chris Columbus and Brunson Green give an oral history of the movie’s key scenes.
Based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett, The Help follows the plights of a pair of middle-aged black maids—Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer)—during the Civil Rights era in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. The entire town is terrorized by Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), a myopic mother who is pushing a bill she calls the "Home Help Sanitation Initiative” that will provide for separate bathrooms for the black help—since she believes that black people carry different diseases. Skeeter (Emma Stone), a fledgling journalist disgusted by the treatment toward “the help,” decides to pen a controversial book from the point of view of the maids—in particular Aibileen and Minny—exposing the racism they face from their white employers.
The Help (2011) (Dreamworks Studios)
Directed by Tate Taylor, The Help, which also stars the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain, became one of this years feel-good box office hits, earning over $200 million against a budget of just $25 million. It’s also garnering heaps of Oscar buzz.
Sure, movie executives love to make money by churning out garbage. But Michael Medved says that what really drives them is the glittering Oscar statues.
It’s that time of year when box-office champions are announced and films are nominated for awards—a season that illuminates a dark and persistent mystery about the motivation of moviemakers.
Oscar statues on display. (Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images)
In the process, these contrasting lists expose the stubborn stupidity of a line of argument jointly cherished by the entertainment industry’s angriest critics and its most faithful apologists: that Hollywood is utterly corrupted (or totally excused) by the ruthless, single-minded pursuit of profit.
If it’s all about making money, how can anyone explain the heavy favorite to win Tinseltown’s most coveted and relentlessly publicized award for 2011—a low-budget silent film (no kidding!) in glorious black and white by an unknown French director with an utterly unpronounceable name? The Artist (written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, sometimes fondly Americanized as “Mike Hava Nagila”) is touching, inventive, funny, hugely enjoyable, and given a better than 45 percent chance to win the Oscar for Best Picture by the online betting gurus at InTrade. But not even the film’s most dedicated advocates expect this audacious import (starring the director’s lovely girlfriend, one Berenice Bejo) to clean up at the box office—and no, there won’t be a money-grabbing 3-D edition.
Andy Serkis, who wowed as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films, delivers his most riveting performance yet as the super-intelligent Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Serkis, his co-stars—James Franco and Freida Pinto—the film’s director, and visual f/x supervisor on whether the Academy will take notice. Plus, watch exclusive footage of Serkis’s performance.
Twelve years ago, Andy Serkis received the phone call that would change his life—and motion pictures—forever. Up until that point, the British thespian had garnered a reputation as a gifted character actor, having appeared in several stage productions and independent films, including Mike Leigh’s Career Girls and Topsy-Turvy. But this was something different.
Andy Serkis in the motion-capture suit he used in the making of “Rise of the Apes.” (Joe Lederer / 20th Century Fox)
“My agent said, ‘They’re doing this film Lord of the Rings down in New Zealand and they’re looking for a voice for an animated character. It’s about three weeks work.’” Serkis wasn’t impressed. “God, there must be over a dozen characters in Lord of the Rings,’” he said. “Can’t you get me something proper?’”
After an inspiring meeting with the films’ director, Peter Jackson, Serkis caved, and his turn as Gollum—a bug-eyed, schizophrenic, computer-generated creature—in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was a watershed moment for visual effects. For the first time ever, an actor’s performance was able to be effectively translated—using motion capture technology provided by Jackson’s digital visual effects company, Weta Digital—onto a CGI character.
‘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.