Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Movie Awards Season is Officially Open

Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in Beginners
In an unprecedented tie, Beginners and The Tree of Life shared the prize for best feature at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, one of the two major awards given to independent film. The Gotham Independent Film Awards, were presented last night in New York City, and the Official Movie Awards' Season in the USA is now open!

Beginners, starring Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller and Keegan Boos, won the best ensemble performance award. Also, Beginners has been nominated for the Film Independent Spirit award. Scroll down.

Here is the list:
Best Feature: Beginners and The Tree of Life (tie)
Best Documentary: Better This World **
Best Ensemble Performance: Beginners (Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos)
Breakthrough Director: Dee Rees, Pariah
Breakthrough Actor: Felicity Jones, Like Crazy
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You:
Scenes of a Crime

Audience Award: Girlfriend
Spotlight on Women Filmmakers Live the Dream , and Grant: Lucy Mulloy, Una Noche (One Night)
**Documentary did not make the short list for an Oscar nomination.
For more on The Gotham Awards visit their Web Site.
  The Tree of Life won the Palme d'Or at Cannes earlier this year. Directed by Terrence Malick (Badlands, The Thin Red Line, The New World), it stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain (The Help).

There are only two organizations in the U.S. that solely specialize in recognizing independent film, The Gotham Independent Film Awards, and the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which is bigger and better known than The Gotham Awards. However, The Gotham's are presented earlier, traditionally mark the opening of the film awards season, are very respected, and every bit as prestigious as the Spirit Awards.
The Film Independent Spirit nominations were announced today, Tuesday, in Los Angeles. Take Shelter and the black-and-white silent film, The Artist, both with five nominations each, are the top nominees for the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Both are nominated for the best feature award.

Others nominated in the the best feature category are: Beginners, 50/50, The Descendants and Drive.

Films receiving four nominations each are: Beginners, Drive, The Descendants and Martha Marcy May Marlene. For all Independent Spirit Film nominations, click the title of this post, which links to a PDF file.

Winners of the 27th annual award will be announced at the Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony on Saturday, February 25, 2012, at a daytime luncheon in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, California. The premiere broadcast will air later that evening at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on IFC. Visit the FIS Awards Web Site.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

15 Documentaries Still in the Run for Oscar

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 15 films in the Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 84th Academy Awards. One hundred twenty-four pictures originally qualified in the category.

The Documentary Branch Screening Committee viewed all the eligible documentaries for the preliminary round of voting. Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles on this shortlist.
 Harry Belafonte, subject of Sing Your Song

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with the production company:

    Battle for Brooklyn (RUMER Inc.)
    Bill Cunningham New York (First Thought Films)
    Buck (Cedar Creek Productions)
    Hell and Back Again (Roast Beef Productions Limited)
    If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry Productions, LLC)
    Jane's Journey (NEOS Film GmbH & Co. KG)
    The Loving Story (Augusta Films)
    Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (@radical.media)
    Pina (Neue Road Movies GmbH)
    Project Nim (Red Box Films)
    Semper Fi: Always Faithful (Tied to the Tracks Films, Inc.)
    Sing Your Song (S2BN Belafonte Productions, LLC)
    Undefeated (Spitfire Pictures)
    Under Fire: Journalists in Combat (JUF Pictures, Inc.)
    We Were Here (Weissman Projects, LLC)

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT, in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Woody Allen: A Documentary

Woody Allen with Puppet, WA, in Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask
Writer, director, actor, comedian, and musician Woody Allen has allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. Emmy Award-winner Robert Weide delves into Woody Allen's life and creative process, from his childhood and early career through to his most recent film Midnight in Paris, in a new documentary, Woody Allen: A Documentary. Of course, there are also his women. Weide followed the notoriously private Allen for over a year and a half.

Part I of the documentary premieres nationally Sunday, November 20 from 9-11 p.m. (ET/PT). Part II will air Monday, November 21 from 9-10:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on most PBS stations as part of the 25th anniversary season of American MastersCheck your local listing.

Watch When Woody Met Diane on PBS. See more from AMERICAN MASTERS.

Diane Keaton's new book:  Then Again

For more, click title of this post.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Billy Crystal Will Host Academy Awards!

Billy Crystal

Producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced late today that Billy Crystal will serve as host for the 84th Academy Awards. "I'm thrilled to welcome Billy back to the Oscar stage," said President Tom Sherak of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "He's a comic legend and Oscar icon, and it feels good to have him back where he belongs."

I, and some of my associates, family and friends were lobbying for Crystal, and we have experienced true wish fulfillment. Crystal is exactly the shot-in-the-arm the Oscar telecast needs, in my humble opinion.

This will mark Crystal's ninth time as host. Only Bob Hope hosted more Academy Awards presentations, with 19 ceremonies between 1940 and 1978. Crystal last hosted the Academy Awards in 2004. He has been sorely missed.

The big question now is, will he enter riding a horse? Then, everyone can truly say that Crystal road to the rescue of the Academy Awards. I know the Muppet's fans are disappointed in the choice of Crystal, but I will not be surprised if they make a special appearance. Now that this is settled, let the official Awards' Season begin!

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Ratner Resigned. Now, Murphy Walks As Well

Eddie Murphy
This from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences late last night:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak announced that Eddie Murphy has withdrawn as host of the 84th Academy Awards. "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well," said Sherak.

Commented Murphy, "First and foremost, I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job."

See previous post(s) about Ratner's replacement Brian Grazer, and more about the Oscar Awards Gala in February. No replacement has been announced for Murphy at this posting.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ratner Resigns as Ocar Producer - Brian Grazer Steps Up

Producer, Brian Grazer

Brett Ratner, best known for directing the Rush Hour movies  reigned Monday as producer of the 84th Academy Awards. Sunday, he was at a fan Q&A session for the new movie Tower Heist when he made a Homophobic slur, "Rehearsal is for f*gs."

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued this statement, "This morning, Brett Ratner submitted his resignation as a producer of the 84th annual Academy Awards. Ratner then issued an open letter to the entertainment industry in which he explained his decision." Click title of this post to read more.

Today, Academy President Tom Sherak announced  that Academy Award-winner Brian Grazer, current producer of Tower Heist and J. Edgar, will join Don Mischer as a producer of the Academy Awards to be broadcast in February 2012. This will be the first time Grazer has produced the Oscar telecast.

Grazer has earned four Academy Award nominations. He won a Best Picture Oscar in 2001 for A Beautiful Mind. In 1984, Grazer was nominated in the writing category for Splash, and he received Best Picture nominations in 1995 and 2008 for Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon, respectively.

His other film credits include Spies Like Us, Kindergarten Cop, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, 8 Mile and Cinderella Man.

According to Sherak, Ratner, who has apologized to all at the Academy and others, did the right thing for the Academy and for himself.  Sherak said, "Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent."

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Jones, Smith and Winfrey Will Receive Governors Awards This Saturday

James Earl Jones, Dick Smith and Oprah Winfrey will receive the Academy’s Governors Awards Saturday, 12 November. An honorary film series starts Wednesday, 9 November.

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present Honorary Awards to actor James Earl Jones, makeup artist Dick Smith, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.  All three awards will be presented at the Academy’s 3rd Annual Governors Awards dinner on Saturday, November 12, at the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood and Highland Center.

To honor the recipients, the Academy is holding a special screening series, beginning this Wednesday, November 9, until Friday, November 11, at 7:30 p.m., at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California. Films include The Color Purple (Winfrey), The Great White Hope (Jones) and The Exorcist (Smith). 
James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope (1970)
Born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, Jones made his film debut in 1964 in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  In 1970, he earned an Academy Award nomination for his role as boxer Jack Jefferson in The Great White Hope.

Jones has appeared in more than 50 feature films including Claudine, Conan the Barbarian, Field of Dreams, Coming to America and, as Vice Admiral James Greer, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.  Additionally, Jones has also voiced some of the most iconic characters in motion pictures including Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy and Mufasa in The Lion King.

Known as the "godfather of makeup," Smith began his career in 1945 as NBC’s first makeup man. In 1984, he won an Oscar® for his work in Amadeus, and received a nomination for Dad (1989). He is known for his makeup artistry on such films as The Godfather, The Exorcist and Taxi Driver.

Since receiving her Oscar nomination for her debut film performance in The Color Purple, actress, television host and producer Winfrey has gone on to establish herself as one of the most influential figures in entertainment and philanthropy. She has been especially dedicated to supporting educational initiatives and raising awareness of issues that affect women and children, both in the United States and around the globe.

Her philanthropic efforts have included Oprah’s Angel Network, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in South Africa in 2007.

The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual for "extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy."

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, also an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.

The Governors Awards presentation will be produced for the Academy by writer-director Phil Robinson with Charlie Haykel and Juliane Hare of Don Mischer Productions.

To see much more, including the full list of films in the screening series, click the title of this post.
Professor Román Gubern, PhD, cinema historian and critic has finally agreed to have one of his books translated into English, and it will be available this January: Luis Buñuel: The Red Years, 1929-1939 (Wisconsin Film Studies) [Paperback] Roman Gubern (Author) with Paul Hammond, $28.49. ENGLISH. Pre-order now. Lowest price guaranteed when shipped! 
Preorder Here

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Animated Features Submit for Oscar Race

Eighteen features have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 84th Academy Awards. Several of the films have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying runs. At least eight eligible animated features must be theatrically released in Los Angeles County within the calendar year for this category to be activated.

The 18 submitted features are:
The Adventures of Tintin
Alois Nebel
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Gnomeo & Juliet
Happy Feet Two
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
Kung Fu Panda 2
Mars Needs Moms
Puss in Boots
The Smurfs
Winnie the Pooh

Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and meet all of the category's other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theater at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Academy Producer and a Former Governor Gil Cates Dies

Gilbert "Gil"Cates

Word came today from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that Gilbert "Gil" Cates, Emmy winning producer of the Academy Awards (Oscars), and two-term president of the Director's Guild, died yesterday at age 77. I did not know Mr. Cates personally, but my late friend Robert Wise introduced us, and for a few years we exchanged some friendly e-mail about things at the Academy.

As a matter of fact, it was Cates who reconciled Wise and Orson Welles after years of animosity over the editing of Citizen Kane (1941). It was at the Director's Guild in 1984. Wells was known for having a hard time with finishing a movie, and for an explosive temper.

Robert Wise told me personally that after months of inaction on Citizen Kane, he confronted Welles about the delay. Welles, following a few words with Wise, threw up his hands and said to Wise, "I hired you as my editor. You edit the (expletive) thing. I do not care to ever look at this (expletive) movie again!" Welles walked out.

Wise did edit the rolls and rolls of film Welles had shot, and from chaos pieced together a masterpiece. That story has been corroborated by others. The movie faded from view soon after it's release, but its reputation was restored, initially by French critics, one of them being my late friend Francois Truffaut. It had an American revival in 1956.

Many film critics consider Citizen Kane to be the greatest film ever made. Roger Ebert quipped in 2008: "So it's settled: Citizen Kane is the official greatest film of all time."* It has topped many critical "best" lists.

Cates, whose real name was Gilbert Lewis Katz recently underwent heart surgery. He was born in New york and was found collapsed in a parking lot on the campus of UCLA. According to a UCLA spokesperson, "Emergency medical personnel responded to a call on campus at about 5:50 p.m. Monday but were unable to revive him. 

Cates produced the Academy Awards 14 times in 18 years, more than any other individual. He was responsible for first bringing hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart to Oscar's stage.

Cates served three consecutive terms as a governor of the Academy's Directors Branch, from 1984 to 1993. He returned to the board for another term beginning in 2002, and held the post of vice president from 2003 to 2005.

He directed feature films and a number of TV movies. Two feature films were nominated for Oscars: I Never Sang for My Father (1970), and  Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973).

He was innovative, cheerful, helpful, friendly, and I think he was one of the best, if not the best producer that the Academy Awards has ever had. R.I.P., Gil **.
* Ebert, Roger (4 September 2008). "What's your favorite movie?".   Roger Ebert's Journal (Chicago Sun-Times). Quoted from Wiki, and retrieved by them January 6, 2010. See:
Wikipedia, Citizen Kane

** Gil Cates' Obituary in The Wrap.