Awards Tracker

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Category: Natalie Portman

Poll: Which SAG winner is most likely to lose at the Oscars?

SAG-25153105Historically speaking, about three out of four SAG Award champs go on to repeat at the Oscars every year. Assuming the same pattern continues, who is most vulnerable among the most recent crop of guild victors?

I think it's Melissa Leo ("The Fighter"), who could get bumped by Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit"). A good case can be made for Christian Bale ("The Fighter"), though. If "The King's Speech" bandwagon keeps gathering momentum, Geoffrey Rush could cop a ride and toss Bale overboard.

Or maybe it's Natalie Portman ("Black Swan")? After all, Annette Bening is a queen of Hollywood overdue for her Oscar crown, and many industry leaders would like to see her get it for "The Kids Are All Right." She plays gay in it — that's how Sean Penn ("Milk") and Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia") won Academy Awards.

Are we all agreed that no one — absolutely no one — is seizing the lead actor crown from Colin Firth ("The King's Speech")?

— Tom O'Neil


Photo: Screen Actors Guild

Annette Bening: Is she vying for a career Oscar?

Check out the recent "For Your Consideration" ads for Annette Bening's lead role in "The Kids Are All Right" and you'll notice that Focus Features is no longer centering its campaign solely on her part as the wine-swilling uptight Nic. Rather, the ads argue, a vote for Bening is a vote for her work in "American Beauty," "Being Julia" and "The Grifters," all the films she's been nominated for over the years but roles for which she always walks away empty-handed. "It's her year," the ads proclaim.

Will the strategy work? Jeff Bridges' Oscar last year for "Crazy Heart" was in a lot of ways a lifetime achievement award for all his roles that audiences love that have never been recognized. But do voters love Bening's work? Surely, she's fantastic in all her parts and her performance in "American Beauty" is certainly one of the most memorable of her career. It seems like a smart way to go, what with Natalie Portman reaping all the trophies for her transformative part in "Black Swan," but whether it will be enough, we'll find out Feb. 27.

--Nicole Sperling

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

SAG Awards: Natalie Portman endures some awkward moments backstage

Portman Backstage after accepting her SAG Award for actress in a leading role for "Black Swan," Natalie Portman faced a throng of especially vocal photographers in the photo pool room.  She remained  composed, steely even. One by one they yelled out to her.

"Natalie! Mazel tov!" said one photographer.

 "Golden Globes! SAG! Way to go!" said another, referring to her Golden Globes win two weeks ago.

 "Natalie, go out with me!" yelled another, sticking out his tongue -- a bit odd, considering she recently announced her engagement to her "Black Swan" choreographer Benjamin Millepied and is pregnant.

"Hopefully the baby can't hear any of this!" she said to an assistant, apparently forgetting she had just used an expletive during her acceptance speech.

As she attempted to make her getaway, she was cornered by a TV crew from Extra, who seemingly were trying to engage in some product placement for T-Mobile phones. [For the record: An earlier version of this post said they were Apple iPhones.]

First they asked Portman if her fiancee was nearby. When she answered in the negative, the talking head waved a phone at her, and asked, "Do you want to call him? We have phones here!"

 Portman giggled uncomfortably, and then a woman from Extra whipped out a cellphone and proceeded to pull up old pictures of Portman as a kid.

"What's this one? I've never seen you look like this," the woman said.

"Yeah, I think that's from high school," said Portman politely, but obviously eager to get away.

 -- Deborah Vankin and Jessica Gelt

Photo: Natalie Portman accepts the female actress in a leading role award from presenter Jeff Bridges at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni


Tom O'Neil's gutsy SAG Awards predictions

SAG Awards 11The SAG Awards start in just a few hours. Herewith Tom O'Neil's predictions for who will walk away with trophies:

X = Predicted Winner

Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
X - Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

Firth is an awards juggernaut and can't be stopped.

Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
X - Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Hilary Swank, "Conviction"

Annette Bening has a shot at winning here. She's a beloved veteran who plays gay –- like Sean Penn, who won best actor two years ago for "Milk." But Natalie Portman has mojo, sex appeal and gives the kind of fierce physical performance that wows. It also helps that she stars in a film about the performaning arts –- that's very appealing to fellow actors who vote here.  Oh, yeah, and it also helps that she's pregnant and beaming about it.

Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner, "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"
X -- Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"

Most award gurus are betting on Christian Bale, who won the Golden Globe and lots of critics' awards, but I think Rush will prevail because of the tsunami of sudden love we're seeing for "King's Speech." It was only one of two films sent to the full SAG membership on DVD. (The other was "Social Network.") That helps too.

Amy Adams, "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"
Mila Kunis, "Black Swan"
X -- Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"

Based on the argument I made for Geoffrey Rush winning, I should also back Helena Bonham Carter, but she doesn't give an emotionally flashy performance -– not like Melissa Leo, who mugs, grandstands and rattles the rafters as the fiesty mom of a boxer who doesn't pull her punches.

"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
X -- "The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"

Most pundits say "Social Network" or "Fighter" will win here, but I think this where we'll see more surprise awards love for that rumbling volcano "King's Speech."

Continue reading »

If I Ran the Oscars: Comedian Jon Manfrellotti takes a shot

Manfrellotti In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Please direct your attention to our next presenter: actor-comedian Jon Manfrellotti, who steals scenes weekly as Manfro the bookie on TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age”:

 Now that the nominations have been released, which films and performers do you think the academy voters will pick to win the Oscars this year?

For best picture, I think it’s going to be “The Social Network.” Everybody and his brother is on a computer, so now they can go online and tell each other, “I TOLD you it was going to be ‘The Social Network’!”

They’re probably going to give best actress to Natalie Portman. She made a weird face into the camera, and had a lesbian scene, so she’ll get it. On the men’s side, it’ll be Christian Bale for supporting actor, because he lost weight, and it’ll probably be Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech.” You gotta feel bad for a king who lisps.

So if you were in charge of the academy, who would go home with Oscars this year?

Me personally, I’d give it to Jeff Bridges, because I love him. I think he’s great. I know he won last year, and he’s playing the same character but this time with an eye patch. But he still pulled it off. And Hailee Steinfeld blew me away. She was phenomenal. But man, where do you go from there? Better go right into rehab and get it over with.

Which films and performers from the past do you feel deserved the Oscar but didn’t receive one?

Glenn Close should have won for “Dangerous Liaisons.” She lost to Cher in “Moonstruck.” Come on, was Sonny stuffing the ballot? And “Raging Bull” lost to “Ordinary People.” It should have been called “Ordinary Movie.” You talk about a boring movie -– instead of anesthesia, they should show “Ordinary People” before surgery.

Continue reading »

The secrets of 'Black Swan' visual effects -- How did they do it?

In Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller “Black Swan,” an increasingly imbalanced ballerina, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), struggles to break free of her inhibitions. Cast as the lead in a production of “Swan Lake,” Nina perfectly embodies the purity and reserve of the white swan but falls well short of finding the aggressive sexuality and passion of its counterpart, the black swan. She is pushed ever harder by the company director to let loose, to go beyond the technical aspects of the dance and find the emotional resonance of the darker character. Yet, through weeks of rehearsals, she never captures it. The night of the show, as Nina’s mental state grows ever shakier, she suddenly breaks free to transform, quite literally, into the stunning and seductive black swan as Tchaikovsky’s score thunders around her.

-- Elena Howe 

DGA announces list of presenters for Saturday ceremony

Martin Scorsese 
It will be a star-studded affair Saturday night at the annual DGA award ceremony, with such luminaries as Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese on hand to honor this year's best directors. Also attending will be a slew of this year's Oscar nominees, including Colin Firth ("The King's Speech"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), Melissa Leo ("The Fighter") and Natalie Portman ("Black Swan").

Other directors on hand to recognize the DGA recipients are Michael Apted, Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and DGA President Taylor Hackford. Carl Reiner will return as the host for the 63rd annual award show at which either Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan"), David Fincher ("The Social Network"), Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech"), Christopher Nolan ("Inception") or David O. Russell ("The Fighter") will walk away with the top prize of the evening.

— Nicole Sperling

Photo: Martin Scorsese. Photo credit: Abbot Genser/HBO.

Oscar nominations: Natalie Portman's 10-year plan

Natalie Portman 
Natalie Portman, a 2004 Oscar nominee for "Closer," devoted much of her life to the making of "Black Swan," for which she received a lead actress Oscar nomination. It seems that investment has paid off.

“I am so honored and grateful to the academy for this recognition," Portman said in a statement. "It is a wonderful culmination of the 10-year journey with Darren [Aronofsky] to make this film.  Making 'Black Swan' is already the most meaningful experience of my career, and the passion shown for the film has completed the process of communication between artists and audience.  I am so thankful for the support we have received and I share this honor with the entire cast and crew of the film, especially Darren Aronofsky.”



'The King's Speech,' 'True Grit' top Academy Award nominations

Oscar nominees react

Full list of nominations

Photo of Natalie Portman from Reuters.

Natalie Portman's awkward Golden Globes speech and laugh catch fire online

Besides Ricky Gervais, the other talked-about moment from the Golden Globes was Natalie Portman's best actress in a drama film acceptance speech, in which the pregnant beauty attempted a joke regarding her fiance and his lines from their film "Black Swan." The joke landed just fine but it was her giddy laugh that seemed to ring on a bit too long afterward.

Of course, those are the moments that seem to never die on the Internet. And College Humor has taken that joke and run with it, recreating her laugh into a never-ending moment complete with reaction shots from other Globe attendees. Some are calling it Portman's "Norbit" moment, in reference to the theory that Eddie Murphy lost the Academy Award for his part in "Dreamgirls" based on the awful fat-suit comedy that opened in the middle of his campaign. Portman is opening the romantic comedy "No Strings Attached" in the middle of her campaign but that film -- even coupled with her awkward speech -- doesn't seem like nearly enough to derail a performance that has been lauded by critics and audiences alike.

However, the poised and polished Annette Bening rid herself of all her previous acceptance speech demons, delivering an eloquent, concise and funny speech. With the lead actress Oscar race a contest essentially between these two women, it will be interesting to see how this little video plays through the next month.


Natalie Portman backstage at the Critics' Choice Awards

-- Nicole Sperling

Poll: What film will win the SAG ensemble award?


Now that "The Social Network" has won every major film critics' award plus the Golden Globe and National Board of Review, the next two places to stop the juggernaut -– if it can be stopped -– is at the Producers Guild of America awards (Saturday) or the Screen Actors Guild awards (Jan. 30).

Its PGA victory seems inevitable. "The Social Network" is just the kind of hip, successful flick that the producers usually embrace. Those SAG awards, though -- they're tricky.

All pundit eyes are on one SAG category: best ensemble. If "The King's Speech" or "The Fighter" wins there, Oscar momentum could suddenly shift. The last two times there were jaw-dropping upsets for best picture at the Academy Award, we got our first hints of it in this SAG ensemble category when "Crash" (2005) and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) prevailed.

What makes the SAG race all the more interesting this year is the likelihood that either "The King's Speech" or "The Fighter" will win. "The Social Network" is a brilliant film, yes, but its performances aren't flashy –- they don't have snob appeal. On the other hand, the performances in "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter" are big, brassy, muscular.

Meantime, don't write off "The Kids Are All Right" -– there's impressive ensemble chemistry between Mark Ruffalo and his newfound family. Or "Black Swan," which has special appeal to members of the actors' guild: It's about the performing arts. It's really "All About Eve" on toe shoes.

Below is a list of past winners.

Asterisk (*) = Won Oscar for best picture

1995 – "Apollo 13"
1996 – "The Birdcage"
1997 – "The Full Monty"
1998 – "Shakespeare in Love" *
1999 – "American Beauty" *
2000 – "Traffic"
2001 – "Gosford Park"
2002 – "Chicago" *
2003 – "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" *
2004 – "Sideways"
2005 – "Crash" *
2006 – "Little Miss Sunshine"
2007 – "No Country for Old Men" *
2008 – "Slumdog Millionaire" *
2009 – "Inglourious Basterds"

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: L.A. Times photo by Tom O'Neil


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