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Category: Nominations

Oscar nominations: 'Black Swan' director Aronofsky happily expecting more spoofs

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“Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky was up early Tuesday morning, but not to listen in to the Oscar nominations. He was playing Legos with his 4-year-old when his mom called and told him that not only was his movie nominated for best picture, but he was nominated for director and Natalie Portman was nominated for her lead role in the film.

“Black Swan,” an unconventional film combining classical ballet with some horror and psychological thriller elements, was seen by some as too edgy of a movie to win much notice from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, let alone the general public. But the film has become a box-office hit and now an awards contender too.

“While we were making the film, it wasn't our intention” to try to snag awards, Aronofsky said. “We were out there trying to make a scary film. People call it a psychosexual horror film, which I don't think is typical Oscar fare.”

Aronofsky’s previous movie, “The Wrestler,” garnered Oscar nominations for lead actor Mickey Rourke and supporting actress Marisa Tomei, but Aronofsky himself has never been nominated in the director category.

“It's funny, I grew up watching the Oscars,” he said, “But I never thought I was that type of filmmaker.”

 As “Black Swan” has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon, it’s come in for some ribbing on TV shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock.” Aronofsky said he’s not worried about a little more joking about it during the Oscar broadcast, which will be hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

 “I’m always flattered to be mocked,” he said. “I hope James Franco and Anne Hathaway take their shots at us.”

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky at the Palm Springs International Film Festival this month. Credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press


Oscar nominations: Jeremy Renner gets nod for second year in a row

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Jeremy Renner, nominated for an Oscar last year for his lead performance in “The Hurt Locker,” racked up his second Academy Award nod on Tuesday, this time for his supporting role in the heist movie “The Town.”

Renner got the news in Vancouver, Canada, where he’s shooting “Mission: Impossible -– Ghost Protocol.”

“It’s just as electrifying a feeling,” he said. “It’s different only because it’s a different movie. It was such a small film last year with ‘The Hurt Locker.’ It’s a little bit harder to swallow that it’s happening again.”

Renner says he’s planning to invite his mother to the ceremony again. His advice for red carpet newbies? Wear comfortable shoes.

 “I personally do a deep lunge,” he said. “It makes me feel silly like a 14-year-old boy, and it loosens me up and gets rid of my anxiety.”

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Actor Jeremy Renner and his mother arriving at the Academy Awards last year at the Kodak Theatre. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times


Thursday Roundup: Oscar presenters, MTV awards, Polanski support and more

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Well, how's this for a morbid item: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released an item Thursday stating that "all three living performers" (italics mine) who won Oscars last year will present at the 82nd annual Academy Awards. That's a somewhat carnival-esque way of saying that Sean Penn (best actor for "Milk"), Kate Winslet (actress, "The Reader") and Penelope Cruz (supporting actress, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") will attend the March 7 ceremony; the supporting actor winner, Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight"), sadly passed away Jan. 22, 2008, and therefore could not be included in this wince-worthy come-on. But, hey, Oscars!

Speaking of telecasts and things to make you wince, will the 2010 MTV Movie Awards and Video Music Awards feature anything as cringe-inducing as the sight of Sacha Baron Cohen landing keister-first on Eminem or Kanye West hogging Taylor Swift's spotlight? Los Angeles residents will be the first to know, as MTV is reporting that both events will air live from the City of Angels this year; the 2010 MTV Movie Awards will broadcast June 6, while the 27th VMAs are set for Sept. 12. 

Meanwhile, the London Times Online has an interview with playwright and screenwriter Ronald Harwood, who has added his voice to the growing support for director Roman Polanski. In the feature, Harwood, who won the Oscar in 2003 for his script for Polanski's "The Pianist," discusses the challenge in defending the filmmaker in the face of his 1977 criminal charge for sex with an underage girl but ultimately concludes, "He changed my life, and I support him." Harwood, who also penned 2005's "Oliver Twist" for Polanski in addition to his Oscar-nominated screenplays for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007) and "The Dresser" (1983), also has choice comments on Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" (Harwood wrote 1987's "Mandela" for American television) and 2008's "Australia," which he also wrote.

Lee Daniels is also full of praise Thursday evening for a fellow filmmaker; the Oscar-nominated director of "Precious" was cited in a CBC News article as describing Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award winner and recent Directors Guild of America lifetime achievement winner Norman Jewison as a major influence on his work. In the piece, Daniels singled out Jewison's Oscar-winning "In the Heat of the Night" (1967) and "A Soldier's Story" (1984), which received three Oscar nominations, as films that changed his life and inspired him to follow in Jewison's footsteps. Both men also discuss the challenges they faced in bringing controversial images and ideas to the screen -- the sight of Sidney Poitier striking a white murder suspect in "Night" and the tragic backstory of "Precious," which involves incest and abuse. 

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Kate Winslet. Credit: Getty Images. 

More from The Envelope:

Wednesday Roundup, Part 2: Brosnan, McGregor on Polanski's "Ghost Writer"; Three Six Mafia's "Cookin' Ain't Easy"

Mo'Nique's and Christoph Waltz's amazing - and very rare - awards sweep

"Basterds" comes roaring into final stretch


Wednesday Roundup: SXSW 2010 panels and short films; 'The Cove' gets Japanese release

96312252 Directors Quentin Tarantino (seen here doing his best "Bubba Ho-Tep" imitation at the Grammys), Michel Gondry and David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express") are among the talent appearing at over 80 panels at the 2010 SXSW Film Conference and Festival, which runs from March 12-20 in Austin, Texas. 

Tarantino will participate in "Directing the Dead: Genre Directors Spill Their Guts," a panel devoted to modern horror pictures; he'll be joined by filmmakers Ti West (the acclaimed "House of the Devil"), Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"), the ubiquitous Eli Roth and Matt Reeves ("Let Me In," the American remake of "Let the Right One In"). 

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Gondry will discuss his work, including "The Thorn in the Heart," his new documentary about his family, with critic Elvis Mitchell, while Gordon Green will be joined by longtime collaborators Jody Hill ("Observe and Report") and actor Danny McBride ("Up in the Air") for "Filmmakers in TV: A Case Study," which looks at their transition from indie and Hollywood features to TV with "Eastbound and Down." Director Matthew Vaughn and members of the cast of his superhero comedy "Kick-Ass" will also be featured on a panel, while actor Jeffrey Tambor will conduct his popular acting workshop for the third year at the festival. For a complete list of panels, please direct your browser here.

The controversial documentary "The Cove," about the clandestine slaughter of dolphins by Japanese fishermen, is receiving a release date in that country. The film, which is currently in contention for the best documentary feature at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, is slated for a tentative release in April; the picture was threatened with legal action by the fishermen of Taiji, where the slaughter took place, when it premiered at the Tokyo Film Festival in October of last year. Medallion Media, which picked up the rights to the film from The Works International, issued a statement regarding the film's hot-button status, which in part said that "there is a debate to be had here, and this important film -- and the Academy Award nomination only serves to reinforce its importance -- offers the opportunity for such a debate." 

 -- Paul Gaita

Photo: Quentin Tarantino. Credit: Getty Images. 

More from The Envelope:

The Envelope's directors roundtable discussion

Final Oscar ballots: Is a best picture shocker possible?

Poll: Who should host the Emmys?



Monday Roundup: AMC's best picture showcase; Cameron on space travel; London Film Fest dates

Photo_37_hiresWhat's that, dear reader? The Oscars are less than a month away, and you say you still haven't seen all of the best picture nominees? Well, fear not: AMC Entertainment wants to bring you up to speed with its best picture showcase.

The annual national event, which screens all of the nominees in a single day, is actually split into two separate days this year (Feb. 27 and March 6) to accommodate all 10 films in the category. The full schedule of films -- including which four will run with the special Feb. 27 screening of "Avatar" in 3D (in selected theaters) -- will be released today, so check the site for times and locations. Oh, and to sweeten the deal, they'll throw in a large popcorn with unlimited refills -- in short, how a Saturday should be spent.

And while we're on the subject of "Avatar" (which is pretty much every day on the Circuit), here's an op-ed piece from the Washington Post by director James Cameron on the current state of NASA and space exploration.

Cameron, who served on the agency's Advisory Council from 2003 to 2005 (did you know?), outlines the financial problems that faced the U.S. space program but ends on a positive note by stating that President Obama's current budget for NASA will allow for private industry to fund space exploration -- which might lead not only to jet packs for everyone (like on the Jetsons!), but also the chance for directors with serious financial clout (like Mr. Cameron) to shoot their future projects in outer space. It's not that far-fetched an idea, and I mean, if you're gonna top "Avatar," that's your only likely venue. 

And last but not least, what are you doing from Oct. 13 to 28 of this year? If your answer is, "Oh, nothing, really,"  you might consider attending the 54th BFI London Film Festival. The venerable event has just announced its dates, with a full schedule slated for September. Mark your calendars accordingly, and hey, why not call your travel agent now?

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: "Avatar." Credit: 20th Century Fox

More from The Envelope:

Is "Avatar" a message movie? Absolutely, says James Cameron

Oscar experts agree: Jeff Bridges will win best actor

Notes on the town: Cameron gets busy, Oscar voters tell secrets



Friday Roundup, Video Edition: Cameron/Bigelow music video; if Oscar nominees directed Super Bowl and more

Reason No. 1,858 to love the Internet: The fine folks at Cinematical unearthed this lost 1988 music video directed by James Cameron for the song "Reach" by the band Martini Ranch, which was fronted by his longtime rep player Bill Paxton ("Big Love"). "Aliens" fans will note the presence of several of that film's cast in the video, including Paul Reiser, the great Lance Henriksen (with a monkey), Jenette Goldstein (and Paxton himself, of course), and yes, that is Judge Reinhold in a split-second cameo. But what really ushers "Reach" into the pop culture curio department is the presence of Cameron's then-spouse and fellow best director nominee, Kathryn Bigelow, as the leader of a band of female gunslingers who, at one point, hog-tie and burn Paxton's grinning galoot on the keister with a martini-shaped brand. Devotees of Bigelow's early and under-appreciated vampire chiller "Near Dark" will spy that the film's leading man, future "Heroes" star Adrian Pasdar, in the video; Paxton, Henriksen and Goldstein were also featured in the film. One also gets the impression that Cameron would make a pretty fun spaghetti Western, if he wasn't so busy altering the boundaries of cinema.

Want more to watch? There's more after the break.

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Producers' credits determined for 'Blind Side,' 'Hurt Locker' in time for Oscars

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The "extraordinary circumstances" provision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's rule on producers' credits for best picture Oscar nominees determined the official listing for "The Blind Side" and "The Hurt Locker." The credits are as follows:

"The Blind Side" -- Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson.

"The Hurt Locker" -- Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro.

The Academy's rule states that no more than three producers may be listed for best picture nominees; however, extraordinary circumstances may allow the inclusion of a fourth producer. That provision was put into effect after the Academy's Producers Branch Executive Committee found that all four individuals acted as genuine producers on "The Hurt Locker."

The producer credits on the other eight best picture nominees -- "Avatar," "District 9," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," "An Education," "A Serious Man," "Up" and "Up in the Air" -- remain unchanged since their announcement with the other Oscar nominees on Feb. 2. 

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

More of The Envelope:

List of the 82nd annual Academy Awards nominations

Oscars poll: Will "Avatar" or "The Hurt Locker" win best picture?

Oscars poll: Will Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep win lead actress?



Thursday Roundup: Oscar red carpet news; Movieguide Award nominees

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Emmy-winning producer-director Jeff Margolis will take the helm of the 82nd annual Academy Awards' red carpet show this year. "Countdown to the Oscars 2010" will air at 5 p.m. on March 7, immediately before the Oscar telecast.

Margolis has overseen many of the major award telecasts for the past 30 years, including the 62nd, 65th and 67th Academy Awards; he took home the Emmy for the latter, as well as for "Sammy Davis. Jr.'s 60th Anniversary Celebration." He's also served as producer of the Screen Actors Guild Awards for the past 12 years (and director for four), and directed numerous editions of the American Music Awards, Country Music Awards, Daytime Emmys and others. Fun fact: Did you know he got his start as a production consultant on the "Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show"? No wonder they picked him for the red carpet.

Meanwhile ... when you went to the movies this year, did you come out of the theater thinking, "Now that was a very mature movie?" If you're like me, chances are you did not, but the fine folks at Movieguide -- a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of the Christian Film and Television Commission that's dedicated to "redeeming the values of the entertainment industry by influencing industry executives and informing and equipping the public about the influence of the entertainment media" (quotes theirs, not mine) -- have their minds in loftier places (I'm usually looking for a soda refill). 

To that end, they've picked the 10 best 2009 movies for mature audiences, and they'll unveil the winner at the Movieguide Awards, which are part of the Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry; the 18th edition takes place this year on Feb. 23. So what, precisely, qualifies a movie for "mature audiences?" In a word, values -- moral and spiritual, as well as the production variety. Interestingly enough, the same description is used for the 10 best 2009 movies for family audiences. 

At any rate, the nominees are:

"The Blind Side"

"Confessions of a Shopaholic"

"Invictus"

"Julie and Julia"

"Knowing"

"Star Trek"

"The Stoning of Soraya M."

"Taken"

"Terminator Salvation"

"The Young Victoria"

Looking at this list, I can understand most of the choices -- "Invictus," "Stoning of Soraya M" -- no problem. But what is the moral and spiritual message of "Taken"? That Liam Neeson does not believe in turning the other cheek? 

And don't even get me started on "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Jeff Margolis. Credit: Getty Images. 

More from The Envelope:

Notes on the town: Cameron gets busy, Oscar voters tell secrets

Oscar nominations -- who got snubbed: Clint Eastwood, "Star Trek," Tobey Maguire...

If I ran the Oscars: cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis


If I ran the Oscars: cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis

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In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Next to the podium: legendary horror film director ("Blood Feast," "Two Thousand Maniacs!"), independent movie pioneer and once and future Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Herschell, who's going to win the Oscar race this year?

The hype for "Avatar" seems to assure a win for that film. And Meryl Streep will probably reprise her Golden Globe win.

Now, if you were in charge of the Academy Awards -- which just makes the mind reel to consider -- who would get an Oscar from you?

If I were in charge, I'd give the best picture award to "Up." "Avatar" is a technical triumph, but it doesn't compete against a movie that has audiences alternately laughing and crying. I'm one of apparently few people who feel "Inglourious Basterds" was more representative of a comic book than of sardonic pseudo-history. 

Best actor? If pressed, I'd hand the award to Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart."

Which categories would you add to the ceremony, and which need deleting?

The notion is impossible, but I'd add "most heartwarming" and "best picture budgeted under $10 million." And I'd combine "best original screenplay" and "best adaptation."

Which element of the telecast needs deleting?

I'd drop the insane dancing around that has nothing to do with the awards themselves. I'd warn all nominees that if they win, their acceptance speeches will be cut off after 30 seconds, and if they bring out a sheaf of papers at the podium, they're immediately suspect.

You would run a tight ship at the Oscars, Herschell. What aspect of the telecast would you leave untouched?

Scenes from each nominated movie.

Who's your dream host?

The dream host would be... me. Certainly having hosts who aren't in the trade -- whether an embarrassing David Letterman or a genuinely entertaining Jon Stewart -- is a peculiar notion other than an obvious pandering to the TV audience. I'd retire Billy Crystal.

To whom would you award an honorary Oscar?

Since all movies are group efforts, this category is one for which I can't isolate one individual.

Do you have a favorite Oscar moment (good or bad) from the past?

Yes, the Sally Field joke. Ugh. While on this point, I'd award an "F" grade to Ben Stiller for his obnoxious imitation of Joaquin Phoenix.

HGL-GFTcamera Herschell, if anyone deserves an honorary Oscar, it's you, so let's bestow one to you for a half-century of shocks and laughs. How does your acceptance speech go?

I won't claim, "you like me," because if you really do, you voted for me for the wrong reason. I have just 2,548 names to thank, and this list will be posted in a two-page spread in tomorrow's New York Times. (I didn't want to wait until the last moment to place that ad... I mean, that acceptance notice.) And I thank you for not having a strangely-dressed rock musician of indeterminate gender sing the title song.

-- Paul Gaita

Photos: Top: Herschell Gordon Lewis. Bottom: Herschell Gordon Lewis on the set of his latest film, "The Uh-Oh Show"; as Herschell himself says, "Distribution deals are welcome." 

Special thanks to Mike Vraney and Lisa Petrucci at Something Weird Video.

More from The Circuit:

List of the 82nd annual Academy Award nominations

If I ran the Oscars: Andy Kindler

If I ran the Oscars: Ann Magnuson



Wednesday Roundup: Oscar-nominated animated shorts; Berlinale lineup; Peckham receives WGA's Selvin Award; American Cinematheque

Have you seen all the Oscar nominees for best animated short film? Twitch has kindly provided your chance to view four of the five; the video posted above is the thoroughly unhinged "Logorama" from French director Francois Alaux. You'll find links to Fabrice O. Joubert's 3-D short "French Roast," Nicky Phelan's hilarious "Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty" and Javier Recio Garcia's "The Lady and the Reaper" (produced by Antonio Banderas' Kandor Moon) via the Twitch link; unfortunately, Nick Park's "A Matter of Loaf and Death," which continues the adventures of his Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit, has been taken down (it'll be available for download via AT&T U-verse in June), but you can see a 48-second trailer here.

The latest honoree at the 2010 Writers Guild of America (WGA) awards is "Invictus" screenwriter Anthony Peckham. The South Africa scribe, who also recently co-penned "Sherlock Holmes," will receive the Paul Selvin Award, which pays tribute to the script that honors the pursuit of civil and constitutional rights (Selvin was the WGA's counsel for a quarter-century); previous winners include Dustin Lance Black (for "Milk"), David E. Kelley, Michael Mann, Cynthia Whitcomb and Gary Ross. Peckham will be honored along with Barry Levinson and Larry David at the ceremony, which takes place on Feb. 20.

You can expand your diet of Oscar winners all month long at the American Cinematheque; in addition to screenings of  "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and "In the Loop," the Cinematheque will present a Feb. 10 double bill of "Inherit the Wind" (1960), which earned Oscar nods for best actor (Spencer Tracy), screenplay (Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith), editing (Frederic Knutson) and black-and-white cinematography (Ernest Laszlo), and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), which won Oscars for Katherine Hepburn and screenwriter William Rose. It takes place at the Aero, which also pays tribute to the late Jennifer Jones on Feb. 11 with a double bill of 1948's "Portrait of Jennie" and "Love Letters" (1945), for which she received a best actress nod; their Valentine Day's weekend schedule includes two-fers of "Breakfast at Tiffany's (1960; Oscars for Henry Mancini's score and "Moon River") and "Sabrina" (1954; Oscar for Edith Head's costume design) on Feb. 13, and Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" (1940; Best Picture winner) and "Notorious" (1946; noms to Claude Rains and screenwriter Ben Hecht). The Egyptian's Valentine's Day programming is equally trophy-laden, with Win Wenders' "Wings of Desire" (1987; best director at the Cannes Film Festival) on Feb. 13 and the double feature of "Casablanca" (1940; best picture, best director for Michael Curtiz, and best screenplay) and Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944; Oscar noms for picture, actress, director, screenplay, music, cinematography).

Meanwhile, the Berlin International Film Festival has released the full schedule for its 60th anniversary lineup; the complete competition lineup is available after the break.

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