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Category: Oscars

Steven Spielberg to get Producers Guild's David O. Selznick Award

Spielberg

When the Producers Guild of America doles out its laurels at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 21, a special honor will be bestowed to Steven Spielberg: the David O. Selznick Award.

The prize recognizes "a producer's outstanding body of work in motion pictures," notes the press release. "The honor has a rich and distinguished history with past recipients including such legendary producers as Stanley Kramer, Saul Zaentz, Clint Eastwood, Billy Wilder, Brian Grazer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Roger Corman, Laura Ziskin, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, John Lasseter and last year's 2011 recipient Scott Rudin."

Before his death in 1965, Selznick reigned as one of Hollywood's greatest producers, working at MGM, RKO and independently. He produced two Oscar best picture champs: "Gone with the Wind" (1939) and "Rebecca" (1940). Spielberg's long list of producing credits includes "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial" (1982), best picture winner "Schindler's List" (1993), "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) and "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005).

Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim issued this comment: "As one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, Steven's continued genius, imagination and fearlessness in the world of feature film entertainment is unmatched in this industry. Steven has produced some of the most iconic films in the history of cinema and we have no doubt he will continue to bring thrilling adventures, emotionally moving story lines, thought-provoking characters and cult classics to audiences across the globe. We're extremely proud to recognize Steven's contributions to the producing craft as well as the entire film industry with the David O. Selznick honor."

-- Tom O'Neil

Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

 


Poll: Will Melissa McCarthy be an Oscar contender?

Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy and Ellie Kemper in "Bridesmaids."
Melissa McCarthy's amazing upset in the Emmy race for lead comedy actress proves that she has strong support across Hollywood, support that many observers have probably underestimated. Most "experts" had bet on Laura Linney ("The Big C") or Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") to take the prize, and they pooh-poohed McCarthy's hopes.

In large part, McCarthy's Emmy victory was probably helped by her recent starring role in the comedy blockbuster "Bridesmaids." Hey, if she's got that much Hollywood award support for "Bridesmaids," it may mean she might be a stealth Oscar contender next. Possible? Don't scoff at the idea that she can make the cut for a comedic role. Look at how many stars have won best supporting actress for comedic turns: Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), Mira Sorvino ("Mighty Aphrodite"), Dianne Wiest ("Bullets Over Broadway"), Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny") and others.

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy and Ellie Kemper in "Bridesmaids." Credit: Universal


Finally, an Oscar for Christopher Plummer?

Christopher Plummer

Again, the Toronto International Film Festival may be shaking up the Oscar race, this time by launching a lead pony into the lead actor race. "Barrymore" doesn't have a distributor yet, but that's likely to change now that deafening buzz has broken out after its fest debut. The Canadian indie film features Christopher Plummer reprising his 1996 Tony Award-winning role as John Barrymore late in life as he struggles to rehearse for a Broadway comeback in Shakespeare's "Richard III."

"I'm all but convinced he has the Oscar in the bag," Hollywood Elsewhere scribe Jeff Wells crowed after viewing it.

Plummer is also a contender this year for portraying a septuagenarian man who shocks his son by coming out of the closet in his waning years in "Beginners." That's a supporting role, so Plummer wouldn't compete against himself if both films end up in contention. In 2004, Jamie Foxx scored double bids, competing in supporting for "Collateral" and winning in lead for "Ray." (Oscar rules prohibit actors from receiving more than one nomination per category.)

Plummer starred in Oscar best pictures "The Sound of Music" (1965) and "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), but he was only nominated once –- for supporting actor of 2009 as dying novelist Leo Tolstoy in "The Last Station." He lost to Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds"). At least that was one more nomination than John Barrymore ever received. Even though his brother Lionel and sister Ethel won Academy Awards, John never made the list. He blamed that on his bohemian behavior, saying that Oscar voters were afraid he might show up at the ceremony drunk, adding, "And they're right!"

Below, a snippet of "Barrymore" courtesy of Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg.

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--Tom O'Neil

Photo: Christopher Plummer at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award in January 2010. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times


Poll results: Cheers for Eddie Murphy as Oscar host

Eddie Murphy Oscars Academy Awards
The choice of Eddie Murphy as Oscar host gets strong approval in the Awards Tracker poll that went up earlier today. About 64% of respondents said they believe he is a great selection, or at least a satisfactory one, while only 17% (551 votes out of 3,055) replied "Noooooo way."

Nearly half of respondents -- 48% (1,492 votes) –- say Murphy is a "fantastic" choice. Slightly more than 15% (478 votes) say he's an "OK" selection. Other poll options: "Maybe. Let's see if someone comes up with a better idea" (13%) and "I don't feel strongly about Murphy one way or the other" (5%).

Sample reader comments in reply to the poll:

Cari Kotcher: "Yes! No brainer!"

Cliffor Correll: "If Eddie Murphy or Billy Crystal host it's sure to be funny!"

Craig Ballard: "Too bad he wasn't cast to host it during the apex of his career. Regardless, he couldn't be worse than any of his predecessors."

Ray Zirkle: "Eddie Murphy stopped being funny in a 'live' situation 20 years ago. If it was the Eddie from 'SNL' or 'Beverly Hills Cop' then."

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Top 10 Oscar contenders for best picture

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Eddie Murphy in "Dreamgirls." Credit: DreamWorks


Top 10 Oscar contenders for best picture

OscarsNow that many Oscar-contending films have been seen at the Venice and Telluride film festivals, here's how the race for best picture is shaping up, including some still unseen but highly anticipated contenders. Coming soon: Reactions from the Toronto Film Festival, which starts Thursday.

FRONT-RUNNERS
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
"The Help"
"J. Edgar"
"The Ides of March"
"The Iron Lady"
"Midnight in Paris"
"War Horse"

POSSIBLE
"Albert Nobbs"
"Carnage"
"Coriolanus"
"A Dangerous Method"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2"
"Hugo"
"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
"Moneyball"
"My Week with Marilyn"
"Like Crazy
"The Rum Diary"
"The Skin I Live In"
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
"The Tree of Life"
"We Bought a Zoo"
"We Need to Talk About Kevin"
"Young Adult"

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Billy Crystal is 'itchy' to host the Oscars again

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences


Should Eddie Murphy host the Oscars? [Poll]

Eddie_Murphy_in_Dreamgirls

It's obvious why Oscarcast producer Brett Ratner would want Eddie Murphy to host the next Academy Awards ceremony: to hype their upcoming flick "Tower Heist," which doesn't exactly look like a major kudos contender. And it's clear why Murphy may want to take the gig, even in the aftermath of last year's wipeout by James Franco and Anne Hathaway: His career badly needs a kick-start. But is Murphy right for the job?

He has two strong pluses. A good Oscar host should be 1) a notable Hollywood veteran (like Bob Hope, Steve Martin) with 2) expert comedy chops. Also, let's be honest: It'd be great to see the Oscars put a minority in the spotlight again.

But Murphy can be smug (he reportedly stormed out of the Kodak Theatre when he didn't win the Oscar for "Dreamgirls") and not exactly a team player. Let's not forget how he interrupted the presentation of the best picture Oscar in 1988 to fume at Hollywood over its lack of recognition for black films.

And as the Oscarcast's Nielsen TV ratings continue to slip year to year, is it realistic to believe that an over-the-hill star such as Murphy can turn it around? Should someone more hip and relevant be cast?

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Billy Crystal's Oscar heyday may be over

Poll: Should Billy Crystal host the Oscars?

Billy Crystal is "itchy" to host the Oscars again

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Eddie Murphy in "Dreamgirls." Credit: DreamWorks


Melissa McCarthy: Emmy bridesmaid ... or upset winner?

Melissa Mccarthy newsThe single biggest breakout star of the summer has not been a gorgeous ingenue or hunky stud. Longtime TV supporting player Melissa McCarthy can make that claim with her scene-stealing turn in the bawdy film "Bridesmaids." The performance was so buzzed and acclaimed many would say it also led to a somewhat surprising Emmy nomination for comedy lead actress for her CBS laffer "Mike and Molly," a show that was completely off the award radar otherwise.

McCarthy, who turns 41 next week, has been a fan favorite for years in best-friend roles on "Gilmore Girls" and "Samantha Who." In the Judd Apatow-produced "Bridesmaids," she played Megan, an over-the-top, overweight, obnoxious member of the wedding party, and she stole the movie from Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph. It is such a memorable performance that it could lead to an Oscar nomination early next year. This is not totally out of the question considering past Oscar victories for comedic turns given by Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona," 2008), Mira Sorvino ("Mighty Aphrodite," 1995), Dianne Wiest ("Bullets Over Broadway," 1999) and Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny," 1992).

Continue reading »

Billy Crystal's Oscar heyday may be over

As regards flirtatious relationships, Marie Claire has a warning for us all, and one of particular significance to Billy Crystal: "Playing hard to get is bad news, period — both in the short run and in the long run."

Billy crystal OscarCrystal has held the Oscars at arm's length for years. After hosting eight times between 1990 and 2004, he pooh-poohed invitations to return, but with a wink. Maybe someday, he'd say, but not now. Then at this year's ceremony in February, he received a standing ovation when he appeared on stage to deliver a brief salute to Bob Hope, the ultimate Oscar host. The warm reception made him "itchy" to come back in the lead role, but is it too late?

Last year Oscar chiefs made it clear that they want young and sexy film stars to hold forth. Alas, Anne Hathaway and James Franco bombed. Have the chiefs changed their minds? Maybe the disaster was Hathaway's and Franco's fault and the idea of sticking with hot trendoids is still valid? If so, the 63-year-old Crystal, whose movie heyday seems long past, won't be wooed for a comeback. TV ratings of the Oscarcast have tumbled in recent years and it doesn't seem logical to believe that he can turn that around. Maybe, if he'd continued to host now and then since 2004, he could've proved his drawing power, but he chose to push Oscar away every time he was wooed.

Before Crystal mentioned that he might agree to return, we ran a poll that included him among more than a dozen host possibilities. He came in second place (21%) behind Neil Patrick Harris (23%). After the news broke that Crystal might be willing to sign up again, we asked readers merely whether or not he should do the job. Response: yes (78%), no (22%).

But Sasha Stone offers what might be a reality check at AwardsDaily: "Somehow I doubt if they’re going to all the trouble to hire the presumed “young and hip” Brett Ratner to produce, it seems unlikely they will veer off that path and head into more traditional waters with Crystal.  More likely, Ben Stiller might be the best choice.  Stiller is starring in Ratner’s upcoming 'Tower Heist.'  I have my money on Stiller hosting." She posts this reminder of Crystal's stellar talents in 2004 when he emceed the last time.

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Oscars: Billy Crystal is 'itchy' to host again

Poll: Who should host the Oscars?

Poll: Should Billy Crystal host the Oscars?

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Billy Crystal in 2003. Credit: ABC


Poll: Should Billy Crystal host the next Oscars?

Billy crystal oscars newsWhen we polled Awards Tracker readers last week to ask who should host the next Oscars, Neil Patrick Harris came in first place with a 24% response out of more than a dozen choices (301 votes out of 1,236 total), and Billy Crystal came in second with 17% (217 votes). It's possible that Crystal might've done better had respondents really believed he would take the job if it were offered. After hosting eight times between 1990 and 2004, Crystal turned it down whenever it was offered again. 

 "It got to be too much after a while," Crystal told an audience after an anniversary screening of "City Slickers" at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on Friday night. "That's why I pulled back. And then when I thought I might want to do it again, they were on to other people."

At this year's ceremony in February, Crystal made a brief return to the Oscars stage to present a special salute to the man who hosted or cohosted the gala the most: Bob Hope (18 times).

"I came out as a surprise. It was a last-minute decision," Crystal told the crowd Friday. "They had called and said would you do this thing and honor Bob Hope and that was a kind of cool thing to do. I said OK. I did it, and people wanted to see me, they stood up, and I couldn't talk for about a minute [while waiting for the ovation]. And, um, I got a little itchy. So we'll see what happens. I can't promise anything."

Crystal usually pulled strong Nielsen ratings when he emceed. He did best at the ceremony held in 1998 (35 million viewers) and worst in 1997 (26 million). Compare those numbers to the 22 million who tuned in this year to watch the bomb dropped by co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

— Tom O'Neil

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Oscars: Billy Crystal is 'itchy' to host again

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Photo: Billy Crystal. Credit: ABC.


Octavia Spencer is the Oscar front-runner in 'The Help'

Octavia Spencer The Help

Responding to Manohla Dargis' mixed review of "The Help" in the New York Times, Jeff Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere) bravely jumps into the discussion over who gives the standout performance between the film's two maids: Viola Davis or Octavia Spencer? Referring to Dargis, Wells writes, "She's pretty much dismissed every performance in the film except for Viola Davis', which means, I suspect, that unless the entire world disagrees, Davis has the heat and Octavia Spencer is out and that's it."

No doubt Wells is referring to their Oscar odds, but it's wrong to write off Spencer, considering category options. And that's a puzzle. "The Help" is such an ensemble work; do the actors -- including Emma Stone as the white woman writing up the maids' tales of struggle -- all belong in the supporting category? Or is Stone lead and Davis and Spencer supporting? Stone and Davis get the most screen time, so either can be considered for the lead race, but Spencer, no matter how you slice this film, is supporting.

My own view: Stone and Davis should campaign in lead and Spencer in supporting. I don't think Stone has a prayer to win. Davis definitely does. Her performance is the most deeply felt and raw as she emerges as the first maid with the guts to tattle on her white oppressors. Truly, she thus leads and therefore gives a lead performance. Davis has the most dramatically impactful scenes too, and she's the final face we see on screen. Yes, in all of those ways, she towers over Spencer.

But now, if Davis gets out of the way in the supporting category, Spencer is the front-runner to win -- yes, win -- at this early point in the derby. She not only gives a heart-lifting turn on film, she gets to wreak devilish revenge on her tormentor. Expressing bawdy defiance is often what fuels wins in this category, remember: Melissa Leo ("The Fighter"), Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls"), Judi Dench ("Shakespeare in Love"), Beatrice Straight ("Network"), Dianne Wiest ("Bullets Over Broadway"), Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny") and so many, many more examples. Victory goes to the sassy scene-stealer.

If you think Viola Davis will agree to go supporting, you're crazy. She didn't at the 2010 Tony Awards bout for "Fences" even though her character competed in featured (or supporting) back in 1987 -- and won (Mary Alice). Davis' reps petitioned the Tony Awards Administration Committee to move her up to lead in the revival costarring Denzel Washington. They Tonys OK'd the switch and both stars won.

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Oscar poll: Will 'The Help' be nominated for best picture?

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Octavia Spencer in "The Help." Credit: Walt Disney Pictures



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