Category: Oscars

Vanity Fair kicks off Oscar week with Jessica Chastain and more

Jessica Chastain is ready for Oscar

Sure, vanity is common in Hollywood, but sometimes for the right reasons -- like Monday's Oscar week kickoff, a celebration of 20 years of Vanity Fair's profile feature called ... Vanities. 

Having named the most promising up-and-comers for two decades, the magazine, its West Coast senior editor Krista Smith and "The Descendants" breakout Shailene Woodley hosted some girly cocktails with Juicy Couture, welcoming Jessica Chastian, Paula Patton, George Clooney's gal Stacey Keibler, a glowing, baby-bump-showing Molly Sims, Kate Mara and more.

"I'm so ready for this week," Chastain told us, rocking a cleavage-baring Alexander McQueen dress. As the Ministry chatted her up, a giant projection of her own Vanities shoot hit one of the walls at the fete.

"I still remember that day," she said wistfully. "It was in New York, in the street with Patrick Demarchelier."

No big deal. Emmy Rossum circulated on the arm of a tall, handsome blond man, weaving around Amy Adams, Rashida Jones, Ari Graynor, Marica Gay Harden, "Pariah" actress and VF covergirl Adepero Oduye, Kelly Lynch, Olivia Munn and Alice Eve.

Woodley's "Secret Life of the American Teenager" costar Daren Kagasoff came to support, holding it down for the boys in J. Lindeberg, alongside dudes including Michael B. Jordan and Jay Hayden.

Our old pal Kate Mara was a proud sister, as her sib Rooney Mara also graces this month's VF cover. We asked if she'll be back for any more "American Horror Story," and while she's not sure, she's certainly looking forward to her next TV gig.

"I'm going to work on David Fincher's 'House of Cards,'" she said, "so I don't know if I'll have the time, but I'm so excited." 

Some humility with all those vanities. 


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Oscars 2012: Did Michael Fassbender's big part cost him a nom?

-- Matt Donnelly

Photo: Jessica Chastain arrives at Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood at Siren Studios in Los Angeles on Monday. Credit: Katy Winn / Associated Press


Oscars 2012: Did Michael Fassbender's big part cost him a nom?

Michael Fassbender

One Oscar snub that's snatching serious attention away from those actually up for gold? The omission of Michael Fassbender in the best actor category.

The Irish hunk's bold portrayal of a sex addict in the NC-17-rated "Shame" has had tongues wagging since last fall, but as awards campaigning chugged along, some of the wagging moved from what was in his performance to what was in his underwear.

His brave displays of nudity and desperate sexual encounters in Steve McQueen's film revealed that Fassbender was gifted in both acting and anatomy, earning him Critics' Choice and Golden Globe nominations, among many others. But the conversation on Michael moved further south, so to speak, since those accolades were handed out. 

PHOTOS: Oscar nominations 2012 -- the snubs

Cut to George Clooney, who helped Fassbender's member reach superstar status by suggesting during the Globes telecast that the actor could play golf with his hands behind his back -- complete with an acted-out illustration of what he was referring to.

Was this otherwise flattering endorsement indicative of a mindset that cost Fassbender an Oscar nomination?  

"He's a guy who's unfamiliar to a lot of people and did a movie that's really intimate," one high-ranking academy voter told the Ministry. "That was a super-brave performance but ... perhaps it inspired people to fantasize, and not actually vote." 

So, no shot at a statuette for Fassbender this year, but he has at least one trophy already. What do you think of his Oscar snub? Tell us in comments.   


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-- Matt Donnelly

Photo: Michael Fassbender leaves a taping of "Late Night With David Letterman" in New York City on Jan. 18. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press

Lady Gaga on her improved Oscar chances: 'I'm so happy'


Lady Gaga and Elton John could soon share more than the stage, given the performers are on a short list for the best original song Oscar -- and Gaga is thrilled about the recognition.

"Just heard my duet 'Hello, Hello' with Elton is up for nomination at the Oscars!" she tweeted from Japan on Tuesday.  

"Gnomeo & Juliet is such a beautiful film. I'm so happy!!"

Gaga and Elton are on a narrowed-down list released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on Monday, with nearly 40 other performers that will duke it out for the final nomination slots (announced Jan. 24).

They'll go up against original tracks from "The Muppets,' Mary J. Blige and her "The Living Proof" from "The Help," and folks like will.i.am and Zooey Deschanel (for a song she belts in the latest "Winnie the Pooh" adventure). 

Gaga isn't concerned exclusively with accolades at the moment, however, she's happy her new album "Born This Way" has been so well received by her fans.

"Sipping tea in Japan with Haus. Feeling so grateful. We sold about 1 million albums a month worldwide since the release of BORN THIS WAY," she tweeted

What do you think of the duo's Academy Awards chances? Tell us in comments.  


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-- Matt Donnelly


Photo: Lady Gaga and Elton John perform together May 13, 2010, in New York. Credit: Jason DeCrow / Associated Press


Busy Philipps: Michelle Williams' Oscar blessing or curse?

  Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams' portrayal of Marilyn Monroe for "My Week With Marilyn" is bound for some awards attention — so in case the star winds up an Oscar nominee, who better to chat with than Busy Philipps, her traditional plus-one for the big show?

The Ministry caught up with Philipps at Monday's Elle Women in Hollywood celebration, where we noted that Williams' dear friend had been present both years Michelle was nominated: in 2005 for "Brokeback Mountain" and last year for "Blue Valentine."

Both times Michelle left empty-handed.

"What if I'm the hex?" Philipps wondered aloud. "I guess we'll know if I get to go again." Maybe the third time is the charm?

Philipps won't be ironing any evening wear until after announcements hit in January, but she has seen "Marilyn," which costars Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench.

"I was privileged enough to see an early cut of the film. I can't speak to the final product, but her performance is amazing," she said of Williams' work. "It's really crafted, you know? It's not like some caricature." 

Check out Williams' craft in the trailer below, and leave us your thoughts on her Oscar chances in comments. 


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— Matt Donnelly

Photos: Michelle Williams, left, at the "My Week With Marilyn" premiere; Busy Philipps at the Elle Women in Hollywood celebration in Beverly Hills. Credits: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images; Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Natalie Portman's body double: accusations, accounting and Aronofsky

natalie portman's body double said she did most of the dancing, not Natalie. Natalie Portman can't catch a break -- or, to hear her body double Sarah Lane tell it, caught a lot of them during the filming of "Black Swan."

Over the weekend, Lane dished to about anyone who would listen that the Oscar-winning Portman didn't do nearly as much hoofing as we've been told -- specifically that about 5% of the footwork we see on screen is the real Natalie.

It all started last week when our sister blog Culture Monster published an interview with Portman's fiancé, Benjamin Millepied, who addressed a few rumblings that Portman didn't do the majority of the dancing in the thriller.

"[Reports are] making it sound like [Lane] did a lot of the work, but really, she just did the footwork, and the fouettés, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio. Honestly, 85% of that movie is Natalie," said Millepied. 

Millepied, apparently, cut into the wrong Lane.

"I should specify the actual percentage of dancing that Natalie did,” Lane told the Wall Street Journal in an email. “They are saying that it was 85-90% of the dancing but I can tell you honestly that it was about 5% of the on-screen dancing.”

Portman's director Darren Aronofsky remained silent in the wings but on Monday revealed that he requested the film's editor to physically count the number of scenes from the final prodcut that featured Natalie dancing on her own.

"There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman," he said in a statement. "... Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.”

Talk about ruffled feathers.


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-- Matt Donnelly

Phot: Natalie Portman as embattled ballerina Nina in "Black Swan." Credit: Fox Searchlight  

James Franco, Oscars writer Bruce Vilanch tweet and make up

James-franco-bruce-vilanch Hey, James Franco, what a difference a tweet makes.

On Monday the brooding actor, artist and college student sparked some online drama by expressing some colorful thoughts on Bruce Vilanch -- the Academy Awards show writer who recently gave some, um, feedback on Franco's performance as host.

"I don't think he realized how big a deal it is to do it until he was actually confronted with it," Vilanch said in an interview, per our sister blog Awards Tracker.

"The only people who know how to host those shows are people who get up onstage every night and say, 'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. A funny thing happened ... ' Or people like Bette [Midler] who get up and sing all night and tell stories," Vilanch mused.

Franco then used his Microsoft Paint magic to doodle criticism on an Oscar-rehearsals photo of himself and Vilanch -- which the actor then shot into the universe via Twitter.

Showbiz fight! But only for a few hours.

Come Tuesday, Franco whipped out his paint brush once again, but this time drew a white flag: He tweeted a screen shot of an e-mail allegedly from Vilanch, who used the standard "I was taken out of context" explanation.

And all was right in the universe again.

We've said it before -- the Ministry is really about bringing families together. 


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-- Matt Donnelly

Photo: James Franco at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Reuters 

Oscars 2011 style: Drag queen Raja rates Halle Berry, Michelle Williams and more

James Franco in drag at the 2011 Oscars The Ministry has noted all kinds of high-brow critiques of Academy Awards fashion and felt the need to respond in kind — by asking one of our favorite drag queens, Raja, to help us size up the women of Oscars 2011.

As a contestant on the third season of the addictive "RuPaul's Drag Race," the West Hollywood-dwelling queen has an arty concept and professional execution to her look. 

Here's how she ranks the good, the bad and the "Gurl, you wore what?" from Hollywood's biggest night.

Thank you, James Franco: Like cohost Anne Hathaway, Franco came across "adorable and young," and Raja praised the actor's own drag moment when he appeared in a Marilyn Monroe-inspired dress and wig. "Normally I don't even care about men's fashion but ... that was so fun and perfect."

Michelle Williams, the quiet storm: "She's so magical, so feminine, so soft and beautiful. That dark brow against her [light] hair," Raja said. 

RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Raja Where are the risk takers? "I miss the days of Celine Dion wearing the backwards suit [by] Galliano and Cher in the Bob Mackie crazy headpieces," she said. The blame can be pinned on excessive playing it safe, says Raja — like Halle Berry in a lovely but predictable nude frock. "A lot of the time it's the same thing," she says of Berry, "avant-garde it a little! She's beautiful, but it's a little stale."

Helena Bonham Carter: "What a kook," Raja said, lovingly.

Lumberjack realness: Praise to Christian Bale for going edgy "with a black-on-black suit" and an unshaven look. "I love his rants, by the way," she said.

And we love your red carpet evaluation, Raj.


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— Matt Donnelly

Right photo: James Franco channels Marilyn Monroe on the Oscar telecast. Credit: Getty Images.

Left photo: Raja in her "RuPaul's Drag Race" glory. Credit: Mathu Andersen / Logo.


Oscar in hand, Colin Firth works on tracking down that pesky royal wedding invitation

Colin Firth at the Academy Awards Governors Ball Colin Firth earned an Oscar for playing a king, but nonetheless the hotshot actor doesn't have an invitation to the royal wedding of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton. Not yet, at least.

"As I understand it the invitations have already gone out," Firth quipped to The Times' Jessica Gelt backstage at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. "Mine is definitely lost in the post somewhere. I'm working on tracing it."

And what about letting loose those dancing-feet impulses he'd talked about having to control onstage while he made his acceptance speech? Could they finally be freed, backstage?

"I don't think this is the right environment for that type of behavior," he said, "and anybody who has seen 'Mamma Mia' will know what I mean."

Aw, c'mon — now "feet" is an F-word too? That's no fun, Mr. Firth!


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— Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Colin Firth and a little gold pal place a call during the Governors Ball immediately after the Oscars on Feb. 27 — perhaps calling to check where that royal wedding invite has gotten to? Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

2011 Vanity Fair Oscar party: Impossible glamour (and a taste of In-N-Out Burger)

Natalie Portman at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar party

With a giant photo of actor James Dean looming over the entrance to Los Angeles' Sunset Tower Hotel, Vanity Fair welcomed an army of stars to its 2011 Academy Awards post-party.

Notoriously exclusive and always glamorous, the annual event did not disappoint as big winners including Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo and director Tom Hooper came with trophies in hand to greet Editor in Chief Graydon Carter.

Colin Firth and Anne Hathaway at the Vanity Fair party
Portman was naturally the belle of the ball, hand-in-hand with fiance Benjamin Millipied as countless people congratulated her on her awards-season sweep.

Jude Law palled around with Cameron Diaz and "Contagion" costar Gwyneth Paltrow while Gabrielle Union chatted with Jamie Foxx -- who then ran into his friend Jessica Biel. Biel and Foxx  went off together to circulate while Justin Timberlake stood with Andrew Garfield and his girlfriend.

Gorgeous women weren't in short supply, including newly single Scarlett Johansson, who was engaged in deep conversation with Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. Though this was Portman's year, few could quite contain themselves when nominee Michelle Williams floated by.

In stunning Chanel haute couture, Williams had a soft glow that stopped conversations and, frankly, assured us she'll make a convincing Marilyn Monroe in the forthcoming "My Week With Marilyn."

Colin Firth at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar partyLet us not forget Williams' humble roots, however: She looked right at home speaking with former "Dawson's Creek" costar Busy Phillips

Star couples -- including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, designer Tom Ford and Richard Buckley, Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts, and Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann -- put up unified fronts.

But no couple was so convincing as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, the picture of young Hollywood come to the grown-ups' table, running back and forth between the Tower bar and terrace holding hands (yes, they were). Taylor Swift made an appearance in a gold mini, snacking from a cone full of In-N-Out Burger fries that was getting passed around. Meanwhile, her former flames Jake Gyllenhaal and Joe Jonas worked the crowd. 

It's a good year to be a television star, being that many small-screen favorites were invited to film's big night: Sofia Vergara of "Modern Family" and "Glee" folks including Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Matthew Morrison made the scene.

Fellow gleek Dianna Agron showed up, looking nowhere near as traumatized as some since-debunked reports would have her after her split with actor Alex Pettyfer

Continue reading »

Anne Hathaway and her many Oscar dresses [Poll]

Anne Hathaway Oscar dresses

Anne Hathaway was a woman of 1,000  dresses at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, starting on the red carpet in a 2002 Valentino creation and ending at the Governors Ball and Vanity Fair Oscar party in burgundy Atelier Versace.

Hathaway was styled by Rachel Zoe for the show in multiple gowns and one Lanvin tuxedo. For the after-parties, she accessorized with a clutch purse and boyfriend Adam Shulman. And OK, maybe it wasn't exactly 1,000  gowns, but it was definitely more than most women show off in a given night.

Which look did you like best? The poll answers (look way down there) go with the pics above and below, listed in left-to-right order and color-coded for those who aren't so good at "spot the designer."

Anne Hathaway Oscar dresses


Anne Hathaway amethyst Oscar necklace from the Academy Awards Oscars: Anne Hathaway in Valentino, with Valentino

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Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez act like a couple at the Vanity Fair Oscar party

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Top photo credits: From left, Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times; Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press; Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

Bottom photo credits: From left, Chris Pizzello / Associated Press; Gabriel Bouts / AFP / Getty Images; Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images; Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.

Bottom right photo: Click the thumbnail to see a larger image of the necklace Hathaway wore with her Vivienne Westwood gown. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images



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