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Category: Coen brothers

Oscars: 'The King's Speech's' Tom Hooper wins for director

Hooper Tom Hooper won the Oscar for director for “The King’s Speech” at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday night. It is the first Oscar win for the 38-year-old filmmaker, who was considered to be in a tight race with “The Social Network’s” David Fincher for the prize. Hooper, whose film chronicles England’s King George VI trying to overcome his stutter, also won the Directors Guild of America Award and had been nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, the British equivalent of the Academy Award.

In addition to Fincher, Hooper was competing against Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” Joel and Ethan Coen for “True Grit” and David O. Russell for “The Fighter.”

The Academy Awards are taking place at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. We'll carry all the breaking news and reaction here on Awards Tracker.

-- Susan King

Photo: Tom Hooper. Credit: Associated Press.


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Complete coverage: The Oscars

Oscars: The Coen brothers go digital

 Coen brothers
The Coen brothers aren’t exactly known for making whiz-bang, effects-laden films. But that doesn’t mean they’re averse to using digital technology when necessary.

Last year, for their late-'60s period drama, “A Serious Man,” the Coens had their production crew take down the fences between the houses in suburban Bloomington, Minn., where they shot. That didn’t solve the problem of the hundreds of old-growth trees, though. So the brothers digitally erased all the foliage in post-production.

“Back when those developments were new, you could shoot a cannon off one end of the street and go through 15 to 20 backyards before you’d hit a fence or a tree,” Joel Coen says. “So it was a very big deal to remove all that.”

The Coens faced a different problem with “True Grit.” They began filming in New Mexico in late March and had snow all the way through the day they left Santa Fe in May. The production then moved to north Texas where the wildflowers were in full bloom and the landscape looked nothing like winter.

“Establishing continuity was going to be hard and it was something we were worried about,” Joel says. “Snow was in the book, so we wanted snow -– just not so much where it’d be paralyzing to the production. But the question was: How do you match the snow with the stuff in Texas where it’s springtime?”

And the answer?

“The answer is … um … you erase the wildflowers in the computer,” Ethan says, a bit sheepishly.

It’s not as obvious to audiences as bathing Jeff Bridges in a digital fountain of youth as was the case in “Tron,” but no less crucial to maintaining the illusions inherent in filmmaking.


Oscars: Jeff Bridges on that special costume designer-character relationship

Oscars: Josh Brolin behind the scenes with the Coen brothers

Academy Awards: The Coen brothers find that cowboy gear is more than a fashion statement

-- Glenn Whipp 

Photo: Ethan Coen, left, and Joel Coen on the set of "True Grit." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Oscars: Josh Brolin behind the scenes with the Coen brothers

Josh brolin 

Josh Brolin wants to direct. In fact, he has just signed on to helm and star in an adaptation of Dominique Cieri’s play “Pitz and Joe,” a gritty sibling drama about the relationship between a young woman and her brain-damaged brother.

So, eager to learn the craft and fascinated by the process, Brolin often visits the Oscar-winning (and currently nominated) Coen brothers when they’re in the throes of editing one of their movies. He has done this on films he’s worked on with them (“True Grit,” “No Country for Old Men”) and others to which he has no connection (“Burn After Reading”), and always the process remains the same.

We’ll let Brolin describe it.

“They have perpendicular desks, Joel at one, Ethan at the other and in between them there’s a bellman’s bell,” Brolin says. “Ethan has his headphones on and he’s getting his best take and he drags it over the screen, never looking at Joel, and, ding, rings the bell. Then Joel, who has the final cut on his screen, drags it down in the timeline. And that’s what they do, every day, eight, 10, 12 hours a day.”

“And I’d sit on a couch and watch,” Brolin continues. “But they don’t like it if I say anything. Even a sound. Like if I see some choice they make and say, ‘Hmmm,’ Joel will get mad. ‘What? Do you not think that’s good?’ ‘I didn’t say anything. I’m just watching.’ ”

“Then one time, Joel looks back because, again, I’ve made some kind of muffled noise. ‘So this is observing. This is what you’re doing, right? Observing.’ ‘Sorry, dude.’ ”

“I mean, it’s a great workshop, but that’s not why I do it. I just love hanging with those guys -- even if it means taking a vow of silence for a couple of weeks.”

-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Josh Brolin in "True Grit." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Academy Awards: The Coen brothers find that cowboy gear is more than a fashion statement

Coen bros 
Jeff Bridges has been taking panoramic on-set photos with his Widelux camera for 30-odd years, usually compiling them into a book that he gives to the cast and crew of each film he shoots.

“True Grit” was no exception and, paging through the book recently, Bridges points to a picture that always makes him laugh -- city slickers Joel and Ethan Coen wearing cowboy hats on location in Texas.

“It’s an incongruous sight, isn’t it?” Bridges asks, cackling. (You can see the photo for yourself on Bridges’ website.)

When asked about their cowboy duds, Ethan Coen laughs but quickly points out that the functionality of the garb takes it beyond a Village People dress-up thing.

“It’s a style, yeah, but when you’re out there, you learn that the hats and bandannas have a use,” he says. “They have wind! We had weather concerns going in, but we had so much worse weather than we expected, including horrible wind and dust. So, it turns out you actually need all that cowboy paraphernalia.”

There's evidence of that horrible wind Ethan talks about in the scene in which Matt Damon’s Texas Ranger rides off in disgust, telling Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn that he’s “graduated from marauder to wet nurse.” Hailee Steinfeld’s Mattie asks, “We don’t need him, do we, Marshal?”

“And as she’s saying that line, she was literally blown off her mark by a 50 mph gust of a wind,” Joel Coen says. “You can see a little bit of it still in the movie, but we’ve got an outtake of her just flying.”

“She just kind of leaned more and more to counter the wind,” Ethan adds. “It was like a Buster Keaton movie, man.”

-- Glenn Whipp

 Photo: Ethan Coen, left, and Joel Coen on the set of "True Grit." Credit: Paramount Pictures

My 100% perfect Oscar nomination predictions

Oscar Silhouette1 question Oscar nominations will be unveiled next Tuesday. Below: my predictions in the top six Academy Awards races.

1. "The Social Network"
2. "The King's Speech"
3. "The Fighter"
4. "True Grit"
5. "Black Swan"
6. "Toy Story 3"
7. "Inception"
8. "The Town"
9. "127 Hours"
10. "The Kids Are All Right"

The top seven films on this list are locks for nominations. Mystery looms over what will nab those bottom three rungs where four films jockey for inclusion. "Winter's Bone" is the one not shown here, but could break in.

1. David Fincher, “The Social Network”
2. Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
3. Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
4. Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
5. David O. Russell, “The Fighter”

Fincher will win, of course. The only suspense surrounds who'll be nominated. The above five are the DGA nominees. One of them (but not Fincher) might be bumped for Joel and Ethan Coen ("True Grit") or Danny Boyle ("127 Hours"). There's a remote chance Lisa Cholodenko ("The Kids Are All Right") could squeak in now that a woman finally won here for the first time last year.

1. Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
2. James Franco, "127 Hours"
3. Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
4. Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
5. Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"

Colin Firth will win, James Franco and Jesse Eisenberg are guaranteed nominations. Duvall and Bridges are vulnerable and could be bumped by Javier Bardem ("Biutiful"), Mark Wahlberg ("The Fighter") or Ryan Gosling ("Blue Valentine").

1. Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
2. Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
3. Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
4. Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
5. Hilary Swank, "Conviction"

Some pundits doubt that Swank will make the list, but she scored a SAG nomination and that's always a great omen. Otherwise, expect Julianne Moore ("The Kids Are All Right") or Michelle Williams ("Blue Valentine") to sneak in. Outside shot: Lesley Manville ("Another Year"), who won National Board of Review. Some pundits believe Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit") will be nommed in lead even though she campaigned in supporting. That happened just two years ago with Kate Winslet ("The Reader"), but I don't see that scenario repeating now.

Continue reading »

Oscar-contending directors gather for Los Angeles Times panel discussion

Fincher and Justin 
Just in time for the nominations, six Oscar-contending directors will get together at the Los Angeles Times to talk about their acclaimed films, their directorial visions, and whatever else is on their minds. The filmmakers -- Ben Affleck  ("The Town"), Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan"), Lisa Cholodenko ("The Kids Are All Right"), Ethan Coen ("True Grit"), David Fincher ("The Social Network") and Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") -- will gather Saturday morning for the second annual Directors Roundtable and a closed-door conversation led by L.A. Times film writer John Horn.

And though the discussion is not open to the public, The Times welcomes questions from our readers, so please add yours to the comments section below or on the LA Times Entertainment Facebook page and Horn will select some to ask during the panel. The Envelope will be videotaping the conversation and replaying the highlights on Awards Tracker beginning Monday.

-- Elena Howe 

Photo: David Fincher, left, and Justin Timberlake. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

'True Grit's' Dakin Matthews: His memorable moments with the Coen brothers

Dakin mathews 

Dakin Matthews has one of those unforgettable faces, the kind of character actor who brightens each of the scenes you catch him in despite the fact that you don't know his name. Most recently, he has appeared in a slew of television shows -- including "Desperate Housewives" and "True Blood" -- but you can currently find him in the Coen brothers' "True Grit," where he plays in two scenes opposite SAG nominee Hailee Steinfeld as the hapless Col. Stonehill, who gets taken by 14-year old Mattie Ross. My colleague Charlotte Stoudt has a great Q&A with Matthews on our Culture Monster blog.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Dakin Matthews in "True Grit."  Credit: Paramount Pictures

Writers Guild of America Award nominations have some surprises


The Writers Guild of America Awards nominations on Tuesday morning saw the surprise inclusion of "I Love You Phillip Morris" and "Please Give." This was the first awards showing for either film.

The nominations for best original screenplay are: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Please Give." Nominees for adapted screenplay are "127 Hours," "I Love You Phillip Morris," "The Social Network," "The Town" and "True Grit."

Several high-profile films were not eligible for the nominations as they were not penned by guild members.

The awards will be handed out Feb. 5 at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

-- Susan King

Photo: Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: Suzanne Tenner / Focus Features


What does 'True Grit's' box-office run mean for its Oscar chances?

True grit 
In the last two weeks, "True Grit" has defied all box-office expectations. The Coen brothers' PG-13 western has grossed an astounding $86.7 million since it opened on Christmas weekend. It outranked the other new wide release, "Gulliver's Travels," its opening weekend by $18 million and in its sophomore session it lost only 1% of its value after Paramount added 36 theaters to its run.

Costing less than $40 million, the film is on track to outpace "Little Fockers" and "Tron: Legacy" in profitability and may wind up being the most successful holiday release of the season. In its very short run time, the film has already outgrossed the Coens' "No Country for Old Men," becoming the brothers' most commercially successful film of their 20-year-plus career. It's also the pair's highest-rated critical hit of their career.

What does all this mean for the film's Oscar chances? Despite the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. ignoring the movie completely (Paramount submitted it as a comedy and the foreign journalists apparently didn't get the film's humor) most year-end lists have included the Jeff Bridges-and-Matt Damon film. And now with its box-office performance being one of the few bright spots in this dreary holiday moviegoing season, "True Grit" may just get a more serious look from academy voters, beyond the best picture nod it's destined to receive.

Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld have already been recognized by the Screen Actors Guild  for their performances. But perhaps more guild love beginning Tuesday with the writers guild and producers guild noms will tilt the scale in favor of the brothers' first foray into the western.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges in "True Grit." Credit: Lorey Sebastian/Paramount Pictures


Matt Damon: I knew the HFPA 'didn't like' Golden Globe-snubbed 'True Grit'

Getprev When "True Grit" was shut out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Tuesday, many in town were left scratching their heads. Even in advance of its Dec. 22 release, the Coen-brothers-directed western has been buzzed about by award pundits, with many predicting the film will earn Oscar nominations for best picture, best actor (Jeff Bridges) and best supporting actress (14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld).

But Matt Damon, who stars in the film as the hijinks-prone lawman La Boeuf, says he knew long before this week that "True Grit" wasn't going to get any love at the Golden Globes.

"I actually heard beforehand that [the HFPA] didn't like it. They'll tell you beforehand, like, 'I don't get it!'" Damon said, putting on a vaguely European accent to imitate a member of the HFPA, many of whose members hail from abroad.

As my colleague Steven Zeitchik noted earlier this week, the HFPA has never truly embraced westerns. They also just didn't find the film funny, according to one person who was in the room at a recent group screening.

But when asked what specific issues the HFPA had with "True Grit," Damon said he wasn't entirely sure.

"I actually didnt do the junket and the press conference with [the HFPA], because I was shooting, but even then, my publicist called and said, 'Yeah, the word from the junket was they didn't like it," he recalled. "And there's nothing you can really do in that situation."

Still, Damon is hopeful that Oscar voters will recognize "True Grit" when nominations are announced in January. He also has his own thoughts on how the awards process should be recalibrated.

"Those things really do matter for the bottom line of the movie," he said. "But the way I feel about awards is that the real barometer by which you measure a movie is that you should look at it 10 years later. That way, you could get the machinery out of the way, and all of the stuff bending the opinion based on the day. If a movie survives for 10 years, it all becomes a lot clearer."

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Matt Damon in "True Grit." Credit: Wilson Webb / Paramount Pictures


Golden Globes snub 'True Grit,' 'Hereafter,' 'Black Swan's' Barbara Hershey, 'Get Low's' Robert Duvall

How 'The Tourist' got three Golden Globes nominations and 'True Grit' got nada


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