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Category: Oscars 2012

Oscars 2012: 'Artist' director doesn't expect wave of silent films

February 27, 2012 |  8:30 am

Michel Hazanavicius at Oscars 2012: Click for full coverage
“The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius thanked filmmaker Billy Wilder three times in his acceptance speech, but backstage at the Oscars, the best director winner said he would have thanked him “thousands of times” if he could.

“He’s the perfect director. He’s the soul of Hollywood,” Hazanavicius said of the “Some Like It Hot” and “Sunset Blvd.” filmmaker.

As to whether his awards-sweeping black-and-white, almost entirely silent film will influence future filmmakers, he claimed that “The Artist” alone couldn’t make a change in the film industry because “one movie doesn’t change things … 10 movies do,” but if it did, “I would be very proud of it.”

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Taking home best picture to cap a successful awards season, “The Artist” wasn’t held back by its throwback format and didn’t have trouble getting acclaim once it started screening at festivals such as Cannes.

“It’s not selling, not promoting. You just smile and say, ‘Thank you,’” Hazanavicius said of what he called a “not difficult” process of spreading awareness about the film.

“The Artist” producer Thomas Langmann, meanwhile, gave the majority of the credit for the film’s best picture win to Harvey Weinstein. Langmann recalled inviting Weinstein to France a month before Cannes to view the movie — one with a French director and cast the producer had barely heard of.

“I was supposed to leave him alone in the screening room, and I checked to make sure that the beginning was going OK, and I heard him laugh and laugh, so I stayed through the whole screening,” Langmann said. “He loved the movie, and I knew that Harvey could sometimes be very enthusiastic. But I saw in his eyes and his attitude that he really cared for the movie, and he believed that maybe we could be here today. I must say I think he’s the only distributor, even with this very special movie, to be able to take it to where it is today.”

“The Artist,” which won five Academy Awards on Sunday night, also took home statuettes for original score, lead actor and costume design.

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'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

— Emily Rome and Amy Kaufman

Photo: Michel Hazanavicius backstage in the press room at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times.


Oscars 2012: "The Artist's" Jean Dujardin cops to a cuss word

February 27, 2012 |  7:34 am

M01fw7pd  Jean Dujardin admitted to dropping the French equivalent of the F-bomb during his acceptance speech for lead actor in “The Artist” during the Oscars ceremony Sunday night.

"I said, ‘It’s amazing, it’s incredible, it’s unbelievable,' " the French actor said in halting English until his translator whispered in his ear that he had actually been asked whether he used profanity.

“Uh, yes,” he said, shrugging and smiling playfully.

From there, the press room was whisked to Paris as Dujardin took, and answered, the bulk of his questions in French.
 
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It was a one-of-a-kind moment backstage since Dujardin was the first French actor to win such an award, despite being one of several nominated over the years.

Now that he will go down in history for his portrayal of silent film star George Valentin, does he hope to transition to “talkies” in America?

“I’m not American actor, I’m French actor,” said Dujardin shyly in English.  “I continue in France.”

Then he whispered in his translator’s ear.

“If he can make another silent movie in America, he’d like to,” his translator said. Dujardin smiled. Everyone laughed.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

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'The Artist' wins three top Oscars, including best picture

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Jean Dujardin backstage with his Oscar. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times


Oscars 2012: Octavia Spencer deserved the Oscar, hands down

February 27, 2012 |  7:31 am

Octavia Spencer
As the deliciously subversive Minny Jackson in “The Help,” Octavia Spencer -- who won the Oscar for best supporting actress Sunday night -- stood out even in a cast packed with terrific performances including another supporting actress nominee in Jessica Chastain.

But as the maid who remade a chocolate pie in ways that will forever haunt that otherwise delectable confection, Spencer was unforgettable. Revenge has never been sweeter.

It was one of those risky bits — the role, not just the pie — that could have slipped into a level of caricature that would have made it less believable, less enjoyable. But watching her Minny huff and puff around the starched, sharp patronizing mistress played by Bryce Dallas Howard, an entire life of trouble took shape.

Oscars: Red Carpet | Quotes | Best & Worst | Key Scenes | Winners

In Spencer's hands, Minny was as layered as the cakes she taught a flighty newlywed to bake, as crispy as that fried chicken steaming on the table. The only one of her friends willing to rattle whatever cage tried to hold her, be it racism or an abusive husband.

Spencer is one of those classic types, a working actress who has been steadily refining her craft since she first stepped onto a stage.

There are moments that resurface on reflection — her breakthrough years ago as a nurse in another story of racial currents in “A Time to Kill,” a nurse again in “Seven Pounds.” Not always in uniform, but always in character, Spencer more than deserves this moment.

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-- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Octavia Spencer at the 84th Academy Awards show. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times


Meryl Streep upset Viola Davis: Exactly how did that happen?

February 27, 2012 |  6:48 am

Meryl Streep upset Viola Davis at Oscars 2012

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Theories were flying at the Oscar after-parties Sunday night about how Meryl Streep pulled off perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 Oscars. After all, with her turn as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," Streep had defeated Viola Davis as Aibilieen Clark even though the "Help" star last month won the Screen Actors Guild award. (In the first 11 years of this century, the SAG winner had foretold the Oscars a whopping nine times.)

Streep also overcame Davis' popularity, her candidacy forged by her running mate Octavia Spencer and a general feeling that Davis was an essential vehicle for honoring the race-themed drama, what with the movie overlooked in categories such as writing and directing.

So what happened? Among the explanations for the Streep win were Harvey Weinstein's dominance -- the awards kingpin saw his movies take home the top four awards at the Oscars -- and general goodwill for Streep.

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

But there's another, possibly cleaner, explanation: Streep was playing a real person.

For those who keep an eye on the Oscars, there's sometimes a sense that anyone acting at a high level will have an advantage if they play an actual person, especially one the audience already knows.

The recent numbers, as it turns out, bear out that theory. In the last five actor races in which men playing real people competed against men playing fictitious ones, the actor playing the known personality won four times. (You can debate whether Billy Beane is sufficiently well known to qualify; we'd say that most voters couldn't pick him out of a lineup).

Strikingly, the same ratio holds on the female side -- the actress playing the real-life person has now won four of the last five times they've competed against one another.

This in itself calls for an explanation. The best theory may be that with a real-life person we (or at least a certain kind of voter) have a frame of reference by which to judge the actor's  performance. These actors must be good at their jobs because, well, I knew a little bit about Margaret Thatcher or Edith Piaf, and what they're doing reminds me of them. Of course, a bad performer playing a real person will find that this could highlight their weaknesses, but that won't apply to Oscar-caliber acting.

You might find this a little unfair; actors playing real people, after all, have a template to work off that their fiction-minded siblings don't. But maybe one should cut Streep some slack anyway. The lone exception among the past five cases of unknown-versus-known personalities? Streep was on the losing side, her rendition of Julia Child in "Julie and Julia" losing out to Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side."

[For the record, 8:49 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled the first name of Viola Davis' character in "The Help" as Abilieen.]

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

TIMELINE: Eight decades of Oscars history

'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Company


Odd moments at Oscars 2012, such as Angelina Jolie's right leg

February 27, 2012 |  6:01 am

JenniferlopezangelinajolieUnlike the Grammys, which all but throws open the doors for weirdness with its medleys and awkward collaborations, the Oscars is a staid affair, planned and managed to the minute.

With host Billy Crystal helming his ninth telecast, the 84th edition of the Hollywood Huzzahs was especially stiff and self-reverent, resembling a wake for an elderly uncle we never knew more than a celebration of film's passionate spirit.

The Oscars still managed to host its fair share of eye-rolling moments, Twitter mini-scandals involving certain body parts and a Big Upset that really wasn't much of a shocker at all. The highlights of the 2012 Uggies — oops, we mean Oscars:

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

1. Billy Crystal was brought in as a hasty replacement for Eddie Murphy, who was swept out as part of the Brett Ratner anti-gay slur meltdown of 2011. And although we understand the academy's desire to get someone experienced (read: safe) in there, wouldn't it be great if they had taken just a wee bit more of a risk with the host?

Last year everyone complained James Franco seemed stoned and that Anne Hathaway overcompensated, but at least it wasn't reheated jokes that played better in the Catskills, where the last standing comedy clubs were likely recording this on Beta tape for posterity. An early sketch had Crystal meeting with Justin Bieber to pull in the 18-24 crowd — and that's the last moment this age group or any person younger than 50 was seemingly thought about ever again.

2. Are the movies (all of them, everywhere) dying or going away somewhere? There was an oddly funereal vibe to the recorded segments that had actors recollecting their first cinematic memories or somberly intoning about the magic of cinema in general. With actors talking against a black background, we were just waiting for a procession of bagpipers to announce the Death of Film. By the time we got to the In Memoriam montage, things were so gloomy that Esperanza Spaulding rendered "It's a Wonderful World" dangerously close to a dirge rather than a poignant celebration of life.

3. So desperate for entertainment, some viewers of the Oscars manufactured a fake wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson's flash at the Super Bowl. Shortly after Jennifer Lopez sat down from her presenter duties with Cameron Diaz, Twitter lit afire with rumors that Lopez's left nipple slipped out of her dress while she was turning around onstage. Videos of the supposed moment were quickly cut and posted on YouTube; Daily Beast created a poll, asking viewers if they'd indeed caught a view of JLo's assets; and Gawker wondered if we had a true nip slip on our hands or simply a shadow, perhaps from some clothing tape meant to prevent this kind of mishap from occurring in the first place.

Well, we're here to tell you that we have diligently studied the footage and it is our professional opinion that no such slippage happened at all. Sorry. But we thoroughly applaud the person who started the Twitter account called @JLosNipple.

4. Not to be outdone by anyone's nipple, there was Angelina Jolie's lithesome leg. Wearing a black dress with a slit nearly up to her waistline, Jolie thrust out her right gam and cunningly smiled at the resulting wolf whistles. Some said it was an overcooked attempt to generate steam while others said yowza, who cares?

The pose was so striking that when "Descendants" writer and comedian Jim Rash later came on stage to get his trophy for adapted screenplay, he mimicked the actress but with much more fabric involved (stupid tuxedos). Of course, Jolie's leg also has a Twitter account (@AngiesRightLeg), where it has excitedly tweeted sentiments like "I'm a leg, get a load of me!" Fifteen minutes of fame, meet your new competition: five seconds of Internet chuckles.

5. When the Big Upset of the night is Meryl Streep winning for best actress for playing a character from real life, a world leader mind you, this tells you everything you need to know about the surprise element of the show. The shocker is that one of the most lauded actresses of our time actually won?

Although Streep hasn't nabbed the Oscar in nearly 30 years, she has a record 17 nominations. Sooner or later, she was bound to get another one; the academy certainly wasn't about to stop nominating her. And though she looked genuinely surprised when her name was called, her face soon settled into that regal Streep visage that's about as manufactured as Taylor Swift's surprise face. What's next? A movie about movies wins for best picture? Oh, wait, that happened too.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

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'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

— Margaret Wappler

Photos: Jennifer Lopez, with Cameron Diaz. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. Angelina Jolie thrusts her leg on stage. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


Oscars 2012: Alexander Payne praises fellow 'Descendants' writers

February 27, 2012 |  3:07 am

"The Descendants" at Oscars 2012: Click for more winners

Bringing “The Descendants” — based on Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel of the same name — to the screen was a fluid, organic process, director Alexander Payne said backstage after sharing in the film's Oscar for adapted screenplay. 

Screenwriters Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, he says, gave him myriad directions to take the material in.

“They paved a path for me because they’d been through the book quite a few times,” said Payne. “They gave me the luxury to pick and choose what I responded to. What I didn’t keep was as much screen time with the younger daughter.”

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

Added Rash: “It was more to put the book away for a second, and then expand on it. Let the scenes and emotions carry us and the story.”

Payne employed the same approach throughout production. Why, he was asked, is the family watching “March of the Penguins” on TV as they eat ice cream in the final scene?

“It just fell off the truck,” said Payne. “One of the assistant editors had dropped it in there, and we never found anything better. It worked.”

Payne is particularly proud of how the film uses music to fold in Hawaiian culture. 

“I thought it would be inelegant not to score the film with 100% Hawaiian music given the plethora of Hawaiian music that never extends beyond the islands,” he said.

Payne, from Omaha, has deep ties to the heartland. And the next screenplay he’s involved in, he says, is a father-son road trip through the area. It’s a film he’s having trouble casting because the roles are so specific, he said, but he’s excited to move forward.

“It’s been 10 years since I shot there — since '01 with 'About Schmidt' — and I’m anxious to go back,” Payne said.

— Deborah Vankin

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Oscars 2012: Full coverage

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'The Artist' wins three top Oscars, including best picture

Photo: Nat Faxon, left, Jim Rash and Alexander Payne with their Oscars for adapted screenplay. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.


Oscars 2012: Meryl Streep's ready for a whiskey — or two

February 27, 2012 |  1:00 am

Mery Streep and Don Gummer
Meryl Streep meant what she said when she accepted her lead actress award on the Oscars stage Sunday night: She knows many people are just plain tired of her by now.

“I’m pushing the tolerance,” she acknowledged. “Frankly, I understand Streep fatigue. And it shocked me that it didn’t override this tonight.”

It’s been nearly three decades since Streep last won the lead actress prize for her performance in “Sophie’s Choice,” and the 62-year-old admitted she was surprised by how exciting it was to win the Oscar again.

PHOTOS: Red carpet arrivals | Quotes | Winners | Best & Worst

“I thought I was so old and jaded, but they call your name and you just go into a sort of white light,” she said. “It was like [being] a kid again. I was a kid when I won this, like, 30 years ago. Two of the nominees were not even conceived,” she added, referring to Rooney Mara, 26, and Michelle Williams, 30.

Asked how she prepared to play former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for "The Iron Lady," Streep said she was unable to meet her but studied archival footage intensely. The actress became so comfortable with the political figure that she finally quit being shocked by her reflection while wearing the award-winning transformative makeup. 

“I had become acclimated to not looking at Margaret Thatcher in the mirror, [so] I thought it was me. And that was important to me. That I wasn’t looking at rubber, that I was looking at me,” she explained. “But honestly? When we first had the old-age makeup on, I saw my dad. I looked so much like my dad. Maybe my dad looked like Margaret Thatcher?"

Streep was eager to leave the press room backstage, protesting yet another journalist’s question by responding: “But I’m so thirsty!”

The actress said she was going to start by celebrating with a couple of whiskeys — “And then we’ll see if I can walk on the Ferragamo’s,” she said with a smile, looking down at her high heels.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

TIMELINE: Eight decades of Oscars history

'The Artist' is big winner at Academy Awards

— Amy Kaufman

Photo: Meryl Streep with her husband, Don Gummer, at the 84th Academy Awards. Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.


Oscars 2012: 'The Artist' wins for best picture

February 26, 2012 |  8:36 pm

Best Picture: The Artist

Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist" was named best picture at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday.

It is the first essentially silent film to win best picture since "Wings" won at the first Oscar ceremony in 1929. Additionally, "The Artist" is the first black-and-white movie to win best picture since "Schindler's List" in 1994.

"The Artist" is a look at the early days of Hollywood starring Jean Dujardin as silent film star George Valentin and Berenice Bejo as the ordinary girl who becomes a silent film sensation. But perhaps the most notable member of the cast is Uggie, the Jack Russell Terrier who potrays Valentin's dog, Jack.

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

The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and quickly earned critical acclaim (including a Palm Dog award for Uggie).

It became a year-end critics' favorite, topping several year's-best lists, as well as winning the Critics' Choice Award for best picture. It also won top film awards from the Producers Guild of America, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and best motion picture musical or comedy from the Golden Globes.

The film topped a field that included "The Descendants," "Hugo," "The Help," "Moneyball," "War Horse," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "Midnight in Paris" and "The Tree of Life."

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

For more, check back on 24 Frames.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: Peter Iovino / The Weinstein Co.


Oscars 2012: Meryl Streep wins for lead actress

February 26, 2012 |  8:30 pm

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep won the Oscar for lead actress Sunday at the 84th Academy Awards, for her role playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

Though the film itself was greeted with mixed reviews, Streep's performance received universal acclaim. In the film, Streep portrays Thatcher throughout her life and career, beginning in her later years and looking back.

This was Streep's third Oscar for lead actress, but her first since "Sophie's Choice" in 1982. Additionally, it was her 17th overall nomination.

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

Earlier in the season, she picked up a Golden Globe Award for actress in a drama. It was her eighth Golden Globe (the most for any performer) and her 26th overall nomination.

She competed against Viola Davis in "The Help," Michelle Williams in "My Week With Marilyn," Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" and Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist."

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.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Meryl Streep. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.


Oscars 2012: Jean Dujardin wins for lead actor

February 26, 2012 |  8:19 pm

Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo of 'The Artist'

Jean Dujardin won an Oscar for lead actor Sunday at the 84th Academy Awards, for his role in "The Artist," a black-and-white homage to the early days of Hollywood.

In the film, Dujardin plays silent film star George Valentin, who struggles with his place in a world of talkies, all while romancing the new face of cinema, personified by song-and-dance gal Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo).

Though Dujardin was not a major star before this awards season, he's a household name in France. He got his start through a one-man show, enacting the various characters he encountered during his military service.

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

Dujardin competed against George Clooney in "The Descendants," Demián Bichir in "A Better Life," Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and Brad Pitt in "Moneyball." The 39-year-old actor previously picked up the Golden Globe for actor in a motion picture comedy or musical.

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.

RELATED:

Oscars 2012: Full coverage

Follow the Oscars live on Twitter

Timeline: Eight decades of Oscar history

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo of "The Artist." Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times


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