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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Awards Season

Academy Awards 2012: 'A Separation' wins for foreign-language film

February 26, 2012 |  6:08 pm

A Separation

The Iranian film “A Separation” from director Asghar Farhadi took home the Oscar for foreign language film on Sunday.

The film’s story centers on a couple who must decide whether to leave Iran to offer their child a better life, or stay to take care of an ailing parent. Released in February 2011, "A Separation" was deemed an early front-runner by critics after a rare triple-prize-winning performance at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Competing against the movie at the 84th Academy Awards were Poland's “In Darkness” from director Agnieszka Holland, Canada's "Monsieur Lazhar" from director Philippe Falardeau, Belgium's “Bullhead” from director Michael R. Roskam and Israel’s “Footnote” from director Joseph Cedar.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

After garnering high box office numbers and taking home the Golden Globe for foreign language film earlier this month, the film had come into the Oscar race with an undeniable edge.

The Academy Awards are taking place in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.

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Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

-- Nate Jackson

Photo: Leila Hatami, left, and Peyman Moadi in "A Separation." Credit: Habib Madjidi / Sony Pictures Classics.


Oscars 2012: Terrence Malick not there to see cinematography snub

February 26, 2012 |  6:04 pm

Click for full coverage

The Oscars started off with a bit of a surprise Sunday night as "The Tree of Life" cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki lost out to Robert Richardson for "Hugo." 

At least director Terrence Malick wasn't in the house for the disappointment. The famously reclusive director didn't attend the ceremony, but for anyone wondering where he was during the telecast, his wife offered a little clue: He's reasonably close to the Hollywood & Highland Center.

"I just talked to him and he's not far away at all," Ecky Malick told The Times as she prepared to enter the theater. She wouldn't say whether the reclusive "Tree of Life" director was watching the show, but it certainly sounded like he was paying attention.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

"Tree" is also up for best picture and director Academy Awards.

Would her husband offer any kind of response if he pulled an upset and walked away with the statuette? "Your guess," she deadpanned, "is as good as mine."

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Joerg Widmer (steadicam operator) and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki work on the set of "The Tree of Life." Credit: Merie Wallace / Fox Searchlight


Academy Awards 2012: Oscars arrive; losers can buy one later

February 26, 2012 |  5:09 pm

Oscars on auction
Oscar traveled incognito on his big day. About an hour before the start of the Academy Awards, four white-gloved prop masters pushed 49 Academy Award statuettes on a rickety A/V cart through the byzantine backstage area at the Hollywood & Highland Center.

Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Manny Santoyo guarded the little gold men, as their handlers polished them with fluffy blue towels and placed them on a table at stage right, where they'll wait until presenters place them in the winners' hands.

For those who don't go home with a stauette tonight, there will be a chance to buy one come Tuesday.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Key Scenes Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Winners

A record 15 Oscar statuettes — including some awarded for such classics as "Citizen Kane," "How Green Was My Valley" and "Wuthering Heights" — will be sold to the highest bidders during an online and telephone sale conducted by a Brentwood auction house.

The sale of the statuettes is expected to generate as much as $4 million in bids, according to auctioneer Nate D. Sanders. Sanders described the seller of the 15 Oscars only as a Los Angeles-area businessman with ties to the entertainment industry.

The auction is being condemned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which fiercely guards ownership of the golden trophies and use of the name "Oscar."

All 15 statuettes now up for sale were awarded before 1950. After that date, the academy began requiring winners to sign a contract stating that neither they nor their heirs would sell an Oscar without first offering it to the academy for $1.

"The academy, its members and the many film artists and craftspeople who've won Academy Awards believe strongly that Oscars should be won, not purchased," said academy spokeswoman Janet Hill in a statement. "Unfortunately, because our winners agreement wasn't instituted until 1950, we don't have any legal means of stopping the commoditization of these particular statuettes."

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

— Rebecca Keegan and Bob Poole

Photo: The 15 Oscars that Nate D. Sanders auction house will present on Tuesday. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

 


Oscars 2012: Predictions? Here are five good story lines to follow

February 26, 2012 |  1:18 pm

Cirque
There's more suspense at Sunday night's Oscars around the people who won't be getting statuettes than around those who will. Sacha Baron Cohen's red-carpet stunt for "The Dictator" and Billy Crystal's performance as the oldest solo host since the 1970s? Pretty compelling stuff. "The Artist" taking its victory lap? Not so much.

Still, there are plenty of good story lines to follow as the 84th Academy Awards ceremony kicks off Sunday at the theatre formerly known as Kodak (including, of course, Sacha and Billy). We bring you five of them.

Cirque du Olé. The performers of Cirque du Soleil have been at the Oscars before — 10 years ago, in fact when the Canada-based aerialists and trapezists helped established their high-flying bona fides.  They'll be returning to the Oscars stage Sunday night, and the specter of performers flying over the penguin-suited set during a special segment already seems infinitely more interesting than the song-and-dance bits that often characterize the Academy Awards' big numbers. Also, will the aerialists scoop up Billy Crystal?

Oscars: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

The Meryl factor. In the great majority of instances over the past 10 years, when an actor playing a real-life person went up against a performer incarnating a fictional character, the real-life role won out (Helen Mirren in "The Queen," Jamie Foxx in "Ray," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote," Reese Witherspoon in "Walk the Line," Marion Cottilard in "La Vie en Rose," to name but five). That would suggest that Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady") would have a strong shot against Viola Davis ("The Help") as she vies to break a statuette dry spell that's coming up on three decades. It's hard to see the Viola train slowing down — really hard — but if it does and Streep somehow walks away with the prize, that could be a key factor.
 
Shooting lights.Unless they're panicking about their Oscar ballot, most viewers don't obsess about the cinematography category. But this year proves an intriguing battle between the period, Los Angeles-centric shots of Guillaume Schiffman in "The Artist" and the period, Texas-centric shots of Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki in "The Tree of Life" (with one of the most famous cinematographers working today, Janusz Kaminski, who shot "War Horse," looking on as an underdog). "The Artist" has the overall momentum, but Lubezki has a lot of goodwill — he's been nominated four times and has never won. The prize will also be a key early test of whether many in the academy voted the ticket on "The Artist" or are taking a harder look at some of its competition.

The doc is in.It's one of the most open races at this year's telecast: a race-themed football story ("The Undefeated"), a topical sequel ("Paradise Lost 3") and Wim Wenders working in 3-D ("Pina") all stand a good shot in the documentary category. Some pundits are picking "Paradise' because of the newsiness of the West Memphis 3, but don't be surprised if the feelgood "Undefeated" walks off with the trophy.

Sacha & Billy.Two comedians, strangely linked by their unlikely roles at this year's ceremony. Crystal wasn't supposed to be here, while Baron Cohen almost wasn't here. Crystal is in charge of restoring some order to the proceedings after a Brett Ratner-related fiasco. Cohen, of course, will do his best to bring some disorder.

Follow live coverage of the Oscars at latimes.com beginning at 3 p.m. PST.

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Movie academy: Oscar voters overwhelmingly white and male

All eyes on Billy Crystal, Sacha Baron Cohen and, yes, nominees

— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: A shot of the Cirque du Soleil performing troupe. Credit: Beatrice de Géa / For The Times


Oscars 2012: Streep and Clooney top the Twitter charts, volume-wise

February 26, 2012 |  9:00 am

Senti-meter_crop_600px
An old show biz adage says that any publicity is good publicity. But when it comes to, say, Oscar buzz, we might ask which is more important: quantity or quality. The Los Angeles Times’ interactive Oscar Senti-Meter attempts to measure both by analyzing opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter.

Developed by The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, the Senti-Meter (available at latimes.com/sentimeter) combs through and catalogs a high volume of tweets each day and uses language-recognition technology to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets.

This installment of the Senti-Meter looks at aggregate data from Dec. 21-Feb. 20, and suggests that the films, actors and actresses talked about most on Twitter aren’t necessarily the most beloved. Focusing on tweets captured by the Senti-Meter about the nominees for best picture, lead actor and lead actress, it was Meryl Streep, star of “The Iron Lady,” who had the largest volume of tweets, 217,945, indicating that she was by far the most popular topic of discussion.

Oscars: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

For comparison, Streep’s volume was more than six times that of her male counterpart, George Clooney (“The Descendants”), who led nominated actors with 36,277 tweets, and just over 38% more than “Hugo,” the leading best picture nominee.

Although very large numbers of people tweeted about Streep over the last two months, the Senti-Meter also indicates that tweets about fellow nominee Viola Davis, star of “The Help,” were more positive on average than those about Streep. Positive sentiments are calculated by the Senti-Meter and expressed as numerical values, and Davis ranked highest of the five lead actress nominees. Streep had the least positive sentiment.

The Senti-Meter can’t generate reports about the reason (or reasons) why tweets about Davis were more positive than tweets about Streep. But one possibility is that people were big fans of Streep as an actress but not necessarily of “The Iron Lady” as a film.

For example, a tweet captured on Jan. 21 read: “Saw Iron Lady last night. Meryl Streep deserves the Academy Award, but story is missing an arc.” “The Help,” meanwhile, ranked higher for positive sentiment than “The Iron Lady,” suggesting that Twitter users preferred Davis’ film overall. A typical tweet, captured Feb. 3, said: “The Help is a warm and touching film. Viola Davis is excellent in it. Fully deserves all the accolades.”

In the race for best picture, “Hugo” fared similarly to Streep: It was the film with the highest volume of tweets (followed by “The Artist”) but scored lowest for positive sentiment among the nine nominees. “Midnight in Paris” ranked highest for positive sentiment, followed by “The Help.”

The film tweeted about least was “The Tree of Life,” which was released back in May, long before the hoopla of awards season, and has polarized critics and audiences. It is something of a dark-horse candidate. As one tweet put it: “The Tree of Life was a beautiful and poetic film, but so exasperating.”

Among nominees for lead actor, Clooney had the highest volume, but once again someone else ranked higher for positive sentiment: Jean Dujardin of “The Artist.” (Clooney ranked second.) A Feb. 18 tweet about Dujardin gushed: “A real actor can captivate an audience even without making a sound. (An Oscar for Jean Dujardin, please.) #TheArtist.”

Gary Oldman, of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” had the lowest positive sentiment. Despite a number of tweets congratulating Oldman on his first Oscar nomination, it’s possible that his overall sentiment was dragged down by the folks who found “Tinker, Tailor” either boring or confusing. A Jan. 25 tweet offered this haiku-like appraisal: “Tinker Tailor Spider Spy: Confusing. Finest men in their finest suits. Gary Oldman.”

Come Oscar night, it will be interesting to see who goes home with the gold — the one talked about most, the one with the most positive sentiment or one of the underdogs. Only time will tell.

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Oscar Senti-meter: a BAFTA boost for Dujardin and Streep

Oscar Senti-meter: Your tweets on Michelle Williams and Meryl Streep

-- Oliver Gettell


Adam Sandler dominates the Razzie nominations

February 25, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" earns Razzie nods

 

In a dubious achievement, Adam Sandler broke all records Saturday evening, earning 11 Razzie nominations for his various work as an actor, a writer and a producer on three 2011 movies: "Jack and Jill," "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star" and "Just Go With It."

The nominations for the 32nd annual Razzie Awards, honoring the worst accomplishments in film, were announced on the eve of the Academy Awards. The Razzies have traditionally been presented the day before the Oscars, but co-owners John Wilson and Mo Murphy have moved the ceremony this year to April Fool's Day to give the Razzie voters “additional time to see the dreck" before casting their ballots.

Sandler's gender-bender comedy "Jack and Jill" — in which he portrays both title roles — earned 12 nominations, including worst film, actor and actress for Sandler, supporting actress for Katie Holmes and supporting actor for Al Pacino (yes, you read that correctly).

Rounding out the worst film nominees are "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star," which Sandler co-wrote; "New Year's Eve"; "Transformers: Dark of the Moon";  and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1."

Sandler earned a second worst actor nomination for "Just Go With It" and will compete against Russell Brand for "Arthur," Nicolas Cage for three films — "Drive Angry 3-D," "Season of the Witch" and "Trespass" — Taylor Lautner for "Abduction" and "Breaking Dawn," and Nick Swardson for "Bucky Larson."

It was a good year (or perhaps a very bad one) for men in drag at the movies. In addition to Sandler, a few other actors earned nominations in the actress categories. David Spade is up for worst supporting actress as Monica in "Jack and Jill," while Martin Lawrence is nominated for worst actress in "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," and Brandon T. Jackson from that film is in contention for supporting actress. 

Joining Sandler and Lawrence in the worst actress category are Sarah Palin in "Sarah Palin: The Undefeated," Sarah Jessica Parker for both "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "New Year's Eve," and Kristen Stewart for "Breaking Dawn."

Rounding out the supporting actress category after Spade, Jackson and Holmes are Nicole Kidman for "Just Go With It" and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley  for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Competing with Pacino for worst supporting actor are Patrick Dempsey in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," James Franco for "Your Highness," Ken Jeong for four movies — "Big Mommas," "The Hangover: Part II," "Transformers" and "Zookeeper" — and Nick Swardson for "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It."

Vying for worst screen ensemble are the casts of "Bucky Larson," "Jack and Jill," "New Year's Eve," "Transformers" and "Breaking Dawn."

Worst director nominees are Michael Bay for "Transformers," Tom Brady for "Bucky Larson," Bill Condon for "Breaking Dawn," Dennis Dugan for "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It," and Garry Marshall for "New Year's Eve."

Nominated for worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel are "Arthur," "Bucky Larson," "The Hangover: Part II," "Jack and Jill" and "Breaking Dawn."

Vying for worst screen couple are Cage and "anyone sharing the screen with him in any of his three 2011 films," Shia LaBeouf and Huntington-Whiteley in "Transformers," Sandler and either Jennifer Aniston or Brooklyn Decker in "Just Go With It," Sandler and either Holmes, Pacino or himself in "Jack and Jill" and Stewart and either Lautner or Robert Pattinson in "Breaking Dawn."

Worst screenplay nominations went to Sandler, Allen Covert and Swardson for "Bucky Larson"; Steve Koren and Sandler with story by Ben Zook for "Jack and Jill"; Katherine Fugate for "New Year's Eve"; Ehren Kruger for "Transformers"; and Melissa Rosenberg from the novel by Stephenie Meyer for "Breaking Dawn."

Related:

Movie Review: Adam Sandler's 'Jack and Jill' is a drag 

Movie Review: 'Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

— Susan King

Photo: Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" earned 12 Razzie nominations. Credit: Tracy Bennett/Columbia Pictures 


Spirit Awards: Actors (and a producer) talk Oscar diversity

February 25, 2012 |  5:46 pm

Anthony Mackie
The entertainment world's spotlight Saturday is on the Film Independent Spirit Awards, but plenty of its attendees have their minds on Sunday's big show, the Oscars -- a ceremony where the winners, as a Times study recently revealed, are mostly determined by white men. At the Spirit Awards, nominees and presenters told 24 Frames what they think about the makeup of the motion picture academy.

Presenter Anthony Mackie: “I became a member this past year. I think the academy has made a concerted effort to bring more young actors in and more artists in to bring a younger pool of voters. I hope so.”

Oscar voters study“The Artist” actor James Cromwell: “It's really nice when the media tells the truth about something so that people can therefore put this in perspective and understand, 'Oh, it's not really a contest for the best film –- it's all a business deal made in back rooms.' And we are the Westminster dogs, and somebody else makes a lot of money.”

“A Better Life” actor Demian Bechir: “Not only in the academy –- everywhere, in every aspect of our daily lives [things should be more diverse]. We need a little more of everything. We all need to be included.”

“Pariah” producer Nekisa Cooper: “I think if the academy would reflect the population, you would have a more diverse representation at the Oscars. Films like 'Pariah,' films like 'Red Tails,' films like 'The Help'  help show that there is a desire for them.”

“Pariah” star Adepero Oduye: “I personally think it should be more diverse. I think all kinds of people watch film. And there should be more of a cross-section. We all watch movies and we all have opinions and our voices matter.”

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Movie academy: Oscar voters overwhelmingly white and male

Oscar voters: When the motion picture academy is a family affair

Oscars 2012: Despite Halle and Denzel, gold mostly eludes nonwhites

-– Emily Rome and Amy Kaufman

Photo: Anthony Mackie at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images


Spirit Awards: Cromwell, Hawkes on keeping the indie spirit alive

February 25, 2012 |  5:17 pm

The Artist Spirit Awards
On the surface, the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards don't appear to share much in common. The former honors low-budget movies made outside the studio system from a makeshift tent near the beach in Santa Monica in a casual afternoon ceremony. The latter, meanwhile, is the pinnacle of Hollywood pomp and circumstance that often hands out prizes to films that cost millions of dollars to produce.

But with every year that passes, it seems that the two award shows become more similar, recognizing many of the same films. This year, two of the five best feature nominees at the Spirit Awards -- "The Artist" and "The Descendants" -- were among the nine films up for best picture at the Oscars.

Christopher Plummer and Jean Dujardin, the respective front-runners in the supporting and lead male acting categories at Sunday's 84th Academy Awards ceremony, took home the top prizes Saturday, and, of course,"The Artist" -- the likely best picture Oscar winner -- danced away with the best feature prize. 

PHOTOS: Red carpet

Despite these similarities, "The Artist's" James Cromwell said he thinks Hollywood is still largely driven by star power and money and that the Spirit Awards have tremendous merit.

"If you have a $250-million film -- or you have a film with George Clooney in it -- George Clooney is going to bring you a lot of bucks. But Jean Dujardin? Meh," the actor said Saturday. "With independent film, it's a little different, because they're doing something that has a greater risk, and they're putting their own money in it, and they care very deeply about it."

Mark Duplass, who along with brother Jay helped to establish the low-budget, minimalist film movement deemed mumblecore, said he has noticed that big movie stars increasingly want to become a part of his films. Ed Helms, who stars in the Duplass brothers' upcoming "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," added that he doesn't notice many differences between the two ways of filmmaking -- outside of the promotion.

"Obviously 'The Hangover' gets a massive international media blitz. And a lot of the movies here today -- independent films -- really struggle for that recognition," "The Office" star said.

Many of the films that do reach a larger audience do so through television, on stations such as the Sundance Channel or Independent Film Channel, which will air the Spirit Awards ceremony later Saturday night.

"I know that in small towns, like where I'm from, [those channels] bring films to people who wouldn't normally see them," said John Hawkes, who was nominated for best supporting male for his role in "Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene." "That's a really great thing. I only had one channel on my TV when I was growing up, and it wasn't the Sundance Channel. "

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Photos: Red carpet

Winners & Nominees

Spirit Awards: Christopher Plummer, Jean Dujardin among early acting winners

-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: From left, Michel Hazanavicius, Penelope Ann Miller, Thomas Langmann and James Cromwell accept the best feature award for "The Artist" at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Credit: Vince Bucci / Associated Press


Shorts Awards honors Oscar nominees, ‘Wallace & Gromit’ creator

February 25, 2012 |  5:09 pm

'Wallace & Gromit' creator Nick Park
The Film Independent Spirit Awards wasn't the only pre-Oscar ceremony happening this weekend: On Friday, the second annual Shorts Awards presented film slate-shaped plaques to the nominees competing in the short film categories at Sunday's 84th Academy Awards and honored "Wallace & Gromit" creator Nick Park with a lifetime achievement award.

Park was not at West Hollywood's Soho House to accept the prize, but in a video acceptance speech he said, “I’ve always loved making short films. It’s a good way to get ideas out quickly. Many see it as a stepping stone to features, but I will always go back to short films.”

An enthusiasm for shorts permeated the event, which was presented by ShortsHD, a cable network that exclusively airs short films.

“We are entering the golden age of short films,” said producer Marc Bertrand, on hand to support his Oscar-nominated animated short “Dimanche,” citing an increase in options for independent distribution, as well as the technology that makes it easy for anyone to make a film.

To honor that technology, ShortsHD this year created the Shorts Technology Awards, whose winners Friday night included the Apple iPhone 4S and the app Movie Slate by Pure Blend Software.

“I think audiences have now opened their eyes for short films,” said Norwegian director Hallvar Witzø. His 25-minute short “Tuba Atlantic” is nominated in the live action shorts category. He pointed to the success of ShortsHD’s limited theatrical run of the Oscar-nominated shorts, which had earned $1.196 million at the box office as of Friday, ShortsHD chief executive Carter Pilcher announced at the event.

“Nobody knows the directors. Nobody knows the actors. But people want to see them anyway,” Witzø said.

The event seemed to be a bit of a rally for the nominees. During a presentation of clips from the Oscar-nominated films, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” got the loudest cheers of the animated group, to which the film’s co-director Brandon Oldenburg said off-stage, “Wow, we have fans."

“I’m king here,” said Luke Matheny, attempting to describe the small celebrity status that has followed his 2011 Oscar win for a live action short. “There are a few communities where people know who I am, and the Oscar-related short film community is one of them.”

Matheny told 24 Frames that he’s “rooting for ‘Raju,’ ” a 24-minute German-Indian film, to win the Academy Award in the live action category. “I thought it had a real battleship of a plot ... and just kept making the right artistic decisions throughout the whole movie until it was over,” said Matheny, who is prepping his first feature, “Love Sick.”

The Shorts Awards also presented visionary awards to Joan Collins, Ray McKinnon, Marcy Page and Bill Plympton, as well as the International Award to Turkey, an honor earned largely because of the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, which takes place each fall in Antalya, Turkey.

RELATED:

Movie review: Oscar-nominated short films

Oscar predictions: What's going to win the short film races

Oscars 2012: Shorts categories have multiple Irish, Canadian noms

–- Emily Rome

twitter.com/EmilyNRome

Photo: "Wallace & Gromit" creator Nick Park Credit: Carlo Allegri / Imagenet


Spirit Awards: 'Artist,' Michel Hazanavicius, Michelle Williams win

February 25, 2012 |  3:44 pm

Michel Hazanavicius

The seemingly unstoppable French film "The Artist," produced by Thomas Langmann, won best feature at the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday. The black-and-white homage to silent cinema, which is also nominated for 10 Oscars, is considered a best picture front-runner heading into Sunday night’s 84th Academy Awards ceremony.

"The Artist's" Michel Hazanavicius was honored as best director, star Jean Dujardin won for best male lead for his turn as a dashing movie idol whose fame is on the wane and Guillaume Schiffman won the cinematography award for the film. Only Hazanavicius was on hand to claim his statuette, however, as the other two men had not yet arrived from France, where "The Artist" picked up even more accolades this weekend at the Cesar Awards.

Other big winners included Michelle Williams, who was named best actress for her role in the biopic "My Week With Marilyn," in which she portrays the iconic star Marilyn Monroe. Williams also won a Golden Globe for her performance and is nominated for an Academy Award.

PHOTOS: Spirit Awards red carpet

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, writers of "The Descendants," took home best screenplay honors for their film, which Payne also directed and which is adapted from the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The film tells of an indifferent father forced to reexamine his life and family after an accident puts his wife in a coma. Shailene Woodley captured the supporting female Spirit Award for her work in the drama.

 Iran's "A Separation," directed by Asghar Farhadi, was honored as best international film. Farhadi's film dramatizes the far-reaching consequences of a married Iranian couple's separation and is nominated for three Oscars.

The award for best documentary was presented to "The Interrupters' " director-producer Steve James and producer Alex Kotlowitz. The film follows three people who work as "violence interrupters" to intervene in conflicts in their Chicago communities before they get out of hand.

Director J.C. Chandor's "Margin Call" won the award for best first feature and also took home the Robert Altman Award, which recognizes one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast. The latter prize for the film, which chronicles the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis, was presented to Chandor, casting directors Tiffany Little Canfield and Bernard Telsey and the ensemble comprising Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey and Stanley Tucci.

The Truer Than Fiction Award, which is presented to an emerging director of nonfiction features who has not yet received significant recognition and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant, was presented to Heather Courtney, director of "Where Soldiers Come From."

 The Piaget Producers Award, which honors emerging producers who have made the most of "highly limited resources" and demonstrated "creativity, tenacity and vision," recognized Sophia Lin, producer of "Take Shelter." The film, about a working-class father and husband troubled by visions of an apocalyptic storm, was also nominated for best actor, supporting actress, director and feature.

 The Someone to Watch Award, which "recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition," went to Mark Jackson, director of "Without," a film about a young woman who becomes caretaker to an elderly man in a vegetative state on a remote wooded island.

The Jameson FIND Your Audience Award, which helps one low-budget independent film reach a broader audience, was awarded to filmmakers Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias for "Unfinished Spaces." The documentary tells the story of three architects invited back to Cuba after four decades in exile to finish construction of the National Art Schools. The award includes a $40,000 grant for marketing and distribution.

RELATED:

Photos: Red carpet

Winners & Nominees

Spirit Awards: Christopher Plummer, Jean Dujardin among early acting winners

-- Oliver Gettell

Photo: Director Michel Hazanavicius in the audience at the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

 


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