Lots of questions surround 2010's most dramatic and competitive category
At this stage of the game, the question isn't "who" going to win the best supporting actress statue of 2010. That's easily down to two of the year's best performances: Mo'Nique for her relevatory work in "Precious: Based on Push a Novel by Sapphire" or "Twilgiht" star Anna Kendrick who shines opposite George Clooney in the acclaimed dramedy "Up in the Air." It wouldn't be a careless exaggeration to say that if one or neither of these two actresses weren't nominated it will be one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. The true drama this season surrounds who their competition will be in the remaining three slots. And yes, there are questions aplenty.
Gabourey Sidibe lands role on Showtime pilot 'The C Word'
In the pr battle for an Oscar nomination, every little bit helps and Gabourey Sidibe just landed a very subtle but significant win in her campaign to land a Best Actress nod.
Sidibe is absolutely heartbreaking as the title character in Lee Daniels' "Precious: Based on Push a Novel by Sapphire," but with the role being her professional acting debut some have questioned whether the first-time thespian was actually just playing herself in the drama. This sort of scuttlebutt could diminish Sidibe's standing with SAG members who make up the largest portion of the Academy's membership. No one will know for sure what Sidibe's fellow actors will think until SAG nods are announced in December, but the actress just landed what is believed to be her first post-"Precious" role in the new Showtime pilot "The C Word."
Watch: New trailer confirms Clint Eastwood is back in the awards season game
Considering all the hype, it would have been shocking if Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" didn't turn out to be a true awards season contender. The subject matter, the stars and the filmmaker's resume are an eye-popping combination that is the textbook definition of Oscar bait if there ever was one. After watching the film's brand new trailer, screw the awards perspective. This just looks like one damn good movie.
The true story of a pivotal moment in South Africa's reconciliation movement, "Invictus" chronicles the relationship between new President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) and star Rugby player Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) as the nation's team tries to win the 1995 Rugby Cup. The first released footage from the December release debuted today exclusively on Apple. You can watch the trailer here. Or, watch the new trailler embedded below.
Christoph Waltz is a lock, but the remaining four are anyone's guess
When it comes to the acting categories, Best Actor is a horse race, Best Actress is a wash, Best Supporting Actress -- as we'll soon learn -- is the most competitive, but Best Supporting Actor? This field may actually hold the most surprises when the nominations are announced a little over four months from now.
Sure, "Inglourious Basterds'" Christoph Waltz is the presumptive favorite, but the quartet who joins him could provide any number of honest challengers. "An Education's" Alfred Molina, "The Hurt Locker's" Anthony Mackie, "The Messenger's" Woody Harrelson and "Me and Orson Welles'" Christian McKay are all performances Academy members could rally around. Plus, George Clooney is truly great in "The Men Who Stare At Goats." It sounds improbable, but could the Year of the Clooney end with the industry favorite bringing home two acting statues? Stranger things have happened.
Spectacular move for the HFPA
Rumors of Ricky Gervais hosting this year's Golden Globes had been circulating for a few weeks, but it seemed too good to be a true. One of the funniest men on television or in the movies emceeing Hollywood's biggest awards show "party"? And a Brit who plays to audiences in America to boot? Considering the Globes haven't had a host in eons it seemed like wishful thinking. So, today's news that Gervais is on board is nothing but a tremendous coup for an awards show hoping to get back on track.
Between 1999 and 2004, the Golden Globes became a major ratings player peaking with 26 million viewers in 2004. Comparatively, that was a pretty big year for the Oscars as well with the Granddaddy of all award shows finding 43 million viewers, but overall the last decade found the Globes audience increasing and Oscars dwindling until a rebound this past February. This meant everyone in the Globes game including NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were reaping the rewards with higher revenue and rights fees. The show, which had always just been a popular spot on the awards season trail ramping up to Oscar, actually became a serious marketing platform for January and February releases (or expansions of previously limited runs). And suddenly, networks started taking wins in the television categories seriously as they became barometers for possible Emmy nods the following September (although I'll let my colleague Mr. Fienberg wax more on that if he'd like). And then suddenly, it all came to a disastrous halt with the Writer's Guild strike two years ago.
Oh, and did we mention she's a legitimate best actress candidate?
Abbie Cornish has made her mark in edgy, unconventional films such "Candy" and "Stop-Loss," but the 27-year-old Aussie is finding 2009 is turning into her biggest year yet. She's already drawing raves for her work in Jane Campion's "Bright Star" (more on that later), but she's currently spending her days playing Sweatpea in Zack Snyder's highly anticipated new epic "Sucker Punch."
Are critics being overly harsh to Hilary Swank's passion project?
Besides a few stills, very little has been seen of major awards season contender "Invictus," but that's standard protocol for a Clint Eastwood film. The cinematic icon pretty much dictates how and when marketing materials are released for his pictures and considering his track record its hard to argue with how late they typically are. Today, the movie's poster debuted less than two months before release. And somewhat surprisingly, it's a winner.
The true story of a star South African rugby player (Matt Damon) who partnered with new president Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) to help kick start the country's reconciliation movement after decades of apartheid. The movie is meant to be an inspirational tale and the poster immediately sells that optimism. Most of Eastwood's movie posters have followed a blue, black or brown color scheme but the "Invictus" key art uses white and a beaming Damon that may help push a film in a sports setting to a female audience. The only surprising element of the images is how much Freeman is secondary to the rest of the composition. [See the entire image at the end of this post.]
Behind-the-scenes mash up with new scenes is a winner
There is a lot of scuttlebutt going on about Rob Marshall's "Nine." Some positive, some negative, but much of it is tied to the seemingly never ending soap opera of the Weinsteins and their publicly noted financial troubles. And yet, so far, the ultra-experienced Harvey has been smooth and steady as the movie musical's Oscar campaign heats up.
One of the main reasons the film became an immediate Oscar contender when it was announced in 2008 (i.e., "Oscar bait") is because the cast includes a laundry list of past winners and nominees including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Judie Dench, Sophia Loren and Kate Hudson. With those lovely ladies (and gent) you get your VOGUE cover and can easily push the buttons for Vanity Fair, EW, NY Times Magazine -- shoot maybe even ESPN the Magazine down the road (we kid...maybe). All prime locales to help open your movie to an upscale audience and hit some Academy members at the same time.
If it's October, it's time for the first official 'backlash' to begin
Lee Daniels' "Precious: Based on Push a Novel by Sapphire" has been winning over audiences since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The drama which featured what would seem to be a strange cast of inexperienced actors including Mo'Nique, Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey stunned the Sundance faithful during its world premiere -- I should know, I was there (it was Mariah Carey in a movie at Sundance, how could you not check it out?). What they discovered was that Daniels had crafted a powerful film that was both painfully realistic and inexplicably uplifting. Many were brought to tears that chilly afternoon, but if you suggested to anyone associated with it that "Precious" would subsequently screen at Cannes, Toronto and the New York Film Festival before transforming into a true Oscar contender they would have laughed in your face. Except, maybe, for Daniels.
Disney's bringing the animated musical back
It's a busy year for animation at the Walt Disney Studios. The company's Pixar division has the critically acclaimed and box office smash "Up," it released Hayao Miyazaki released his third English-language dubbed masterpiece "Ponyo" and Richard Zemeckis has collaborated with the studio to bring Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" to the world of motion-capture. Flying a tad under the radar, however, is Disney's long awaited return to traditional hand drawn animation, "The Princess and the Frog."
After reviving the animation division in the early 1990s with such modern classics as "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," Disney started a gradual decline in the quality of hand drawn films as CG toons such as "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life" got moviegoers attention. By the time 2004's bomb "Home on the Range" was released, the studio had completely disbanded the hand drawn putting all its efforts into computer animated flicks such as "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons." When John Lasseter took over the animation division three years ago after Disney acquired profitable Pixar, he pledged to bring the art and technique of hand drawn back. The result of that promise is "The Princess and the Frog" which opens in limited release next month before expanding nationwide on Dec. 11. A new interpretation of the classic story of a prince turned into a frog who needs a princess to kiss him to return him to his handsom form, Disney has tweaked the fairy tale by setting it in New Orleans during the Jazz age. The studio recently presented an extended preview of "Princess" to a select number of writers including Awards Campaign.