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Category: The Descendants

Spirit Awards: Oscar preview as 'Descendants,' 'Artist' vie

February 25, 2012 |  9:15 am

 Descendants-artist

“The Artist” and “The Descendants” will be competing for the best picture Oscar on Sunday night, but in just a few hours, the black-and-white homage to silent cinema and the Hawaii-set family drama also will be vying for the top prize from the independent film community, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which will hand out trophies in 14 competitive categories in a relaxed beachside ceremony in Santa Monica.

Also nominated for best feature are “50/50,” “Beginners,” “Drive” and “Take Shelter.”

"The Artist" and "The Descendants" are facing off in other categories too, including the director contest in which French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius and Alexander Payne, respectively, will compete with Mike Mills ("Beginners"), Nicolas Winding Refn ("Drive") and Jeff Nichols ("Take Shelter") for the award. In the best screenplay contest, Hazanavicius and Payne, with his writing partners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, will go up against Mills for his "Beginners" script, Tom McCarthy for "Win Win" and Joseph Cedar for the Israeli film "Footnote." 

FULL LIST: Nominees

In terms of the acting contests, Oscar nominee Michelle Williams is also nominated at the Spirits for her portrayal of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn." Competing against her in the female lead category are Lauren Ambrose for "Think of Me," Rachael Harris for "Natural Selection," Adepero Oduye for "Pariah" and Elizabeth Olsen for "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Two of the men nominated for lead actor at the Academy Awards are nominated for Spirit Awards as well: Demian Bichir for his work in the immigration-themed drama "A Better Life" and Jean Dujardin for his turn as a charming movie star in "The Artist." They're up against Woody Harrelson for his role in the drama "Rampart," Michael Shannon for "Take Shelter" and Ryan Gosling for "Drive."

Bad news for Gosling watchers, though: The actor is shooting a movie and is not expected to attend the ceremony.

Check back soon for details on the winners at the ceremony, which gets underway at 1:30 p.m.

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— Gina McIntyre

Photo: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Nick Krause in "The Descendants" (Fox Searchlight);  Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist" (The Weinstein Co.).


'The Descendants' wins the USC Scripter Award for writing

February 18, 2012 | 10:15 pm

George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Nick Krause in 'The Descendants.'
"The Descendants" won the USC Libraries Scripter Award, a prize that honors the best adapted screenplay of the year as well as the book the film is based on. Screenwriters Alexander Payne (who also directed the film) and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash shared the prize with novelist Kaui Hart Hemmings at the Saturday ceremony at the university's Edward L. Doheny Library.

The drama set in Hawaii about a father of two coping with betrayal, loss and forgiveness was in competition for the 24th annual Scripter Award with "Jane Eyre," "A Dangerous Method," "Moneyball" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

The screenplay has been up for numerous awards, including the BAFTA and Golden Globe, and is up for a Writers Guild of America honor, which will be announced Sunday, the Independent Spirit Award and an Academy Award.

Last year's Scripter winner, "The Social Network," went on to win the adapted screenplay Oscar for Aaron Sorkin.

Paul Haggis was this year's recipient of the Scripter Library Achievement Award.

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--Susan King

Photo: A film still provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shows George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Nick Krause in a scene from 'The Descendants.' Credit: Fox Searchlight


'The Descendants,' 'The Artist' and 'Rango' win editing awards

February 18, 2012 | 10:00 pm

Trio-winners

"The Descendants," "The Artist" and "Rango" each took home an Eddie Award on Saturday night. The American Cinema Editors honored Kevin Tent in the dramatic motion picture category for his work on "The Descendants," while Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius won for best edited comedy or musical film for "The Artist." All three are also nominated for the Academy Award in the editing category.

Craig Wood earned a feature film Eddie for the animated film "Rango."

The 62nd annual awards were handed out Saturday night at a black-tie ceremony hosted by comic and actor Patton Oswalt at the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

On the television side, Steven Rasch won in the best edited half-hour series category for the "Palestinian Chicken" episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," while Skip MacDonald won for one-hour series for commercial TV for the "Face-Off" installment of "Breaking Bad."

Jordan Goldman and David Latham won for the pilot of "Homeland" in the one-hour series for non-commercial TV, while Lewis Erskine and Aljernon Tunseil won best edited documentary for "Freedom Riders."

Best edited reality series went to Eric Lasby for the "Haiti" episode of "Anthony Bourdain -- No Reservations," while Eric Kench won the student competiton for "Video Symphony."

Special awards were also handed out Saturday evening. Tent presented "Descendants" director and co-writer Alexander Payne with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year, while Lifetime Achievement Awards went to editors Joel Cox and Doug Ibold.

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--Susan King

Photos: George Clooney in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight. Jean Dujardin (L) and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.. "Rango." Credit: Paramount Pictures.


Alexander Payne is eager to head back to 'Nebraska'

February 16, 2012 | 12:00 pm

Midwesterner Alexander Payne, whose film "The Descendants" has five Oscar nominations -- including best picture and director-- isn't quite at home on the Hollywood awards circuit
I went to see Alexander Payne the other day, curious to hear how he was holding up after spending the last few months on the awards circuit, touting "The Descendants," which is up for five Oscars, including best picture and best director. Payne is from Omaha and being a Midwesterner, he's a straight talker -- polite but firm.

Knowing he'd probably rather be back in Omaha than out on the hustings in Hollywood, I asked him how he was handling all the attention. "I don't campaign," he answered, sitting in his airy office on the third floor of an old brick building in Santa Monica. "The studio campaigns. I get trotted out to different events and try to appreciate all of the appreciation for the film. I'm very polite to those who say they've enjoyed the film. The only thing that genuinely tires me is the repetition of the same exact question that I've heard all around the world."

Patrickgoldsteinbigpicture2

Of course, being a snoopy journalist myself, I had to ask -- what question might that be? "George Clooney and I did a Times Talk session with David Carr the other day, and he asked me, 'Why has it been seven years [since you last directed a film]?' And I replied, 'May I direct your attention to a Frank Bruni article from last November that addresses that very issue?'"

As I said: polite, but firm. I figured Payne would be more interested in talking about his upcoming film, "Nebraska," a story about a father-son road trip across the state that he hopes to shoot later this year. I admit to harboring a special fondness for Nebraska, having family roots there myself. My grandfather grew up in Omaha, where his uncle, Julius Meyer, was pals with Sitting Bull and served as an Indian interpreter and trader, running a store called Julius Meyer's Indian Wigwam.

I showed Payne a photo of Uncle Julius from the 1870s, standing with several Sioux outside the Wigwam. "Where was the store?" Payne said, after studying the photo. I told him it was at Farnam and 14th Street. Payne stared at me. "14th and Farnam?" he said incredulously. "That's where I live."

Small world, huh? Payne still spends most of his time in Omaha, where he has a loft apartment on the top floor of an art deco building downtown. It's right across the street from where the Indian Wigwam used to be. To hear Payne tell it, he's eager to shoot another film in Nebraska, where he made many of his earlier movies, including "About Schmidt" and "Election."

He first read the "Nebraska" script, originally written by Bob Nelson, nearly a decade ago. "Election" producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa had shown it to him, asking if he could find a young Nebraskan director who might be right for it. "After I read it, I said, 'What about me?'" Payne recalled. "It's a road-trip film, so I didn't want to do it right away after 'Sideways.' But Albert and Ron were kind enough to wait."

Casting will be tricky, because Payne says the lead roles are very specific. "It's a lot like casting a Mike Leigh film," he said. "The lead is a cranky Midwestern guy. He goes in and out of dementia and cajoles his son to drive with him from his home in Billings to Lincoln, Nebraska, because he thinks he's won a sweepstakes there. I need Henry Fonda when he was a crotchety old [son of a gun]. But he's not available, so I'm looking elsewhere. I always liked the austerity of Fonda's acting, so that's what I'm going for."

When I asked why he wanted to shoot the film in black and white, Payne had a simple answer. "Because it would look so cool. It seems that our politicians see the world in black and white, so why not our artists? Did Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' have to be in black and white? No. But is it fantastic that it was? To see New York like that? Yes!"

He laughs. "I watch 'Paper Moon' about once a year. Black and white is a good thing."

It would be a good thing if Payne ends up winning some awards on Oscar night. His work on "The Descendants" is the most assured directing of his career. But he isn't holding his breath. He's eager to get back behind the camera, especially if it means he can be back spending time in Nebraska. As he put it: "I'm there whenever I don't have to be here."

He hangs on to the old Omaha photos I gave him. Payne is clearly a man who has a strong sense of place. He tells me that his house here in L.A., up in Topanga Canyon, is reputed to have once been the residence of the notorious gangster Mickey Cohen. "I have no evidence to prove it," he quickly adds. "But I will say that when I've been gardening in my backyard, I've often dug up old whisky and beer bottles."

Payne laughs. "I suppose that doesn't prove anything, but it certainly doesn't disprove it either."

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Photo: Alexander Payne discusses "The Descendants" on a panel at the Pacific Design Center. Credit: Toby Canham / Getty Images


'The Artist' stars and other Oscar nominees set for Santa Barbara film fest Saturday

February 2, 2012 | 11:56 am

The Artist

Among the many events for Oscar nominees to attend as awards season heats up is the 27th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which this weekend will feature panels with filmmakers including “The Artist” director Michel Hazanavicius and “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig.

The festival, which kicked off Jan. 26, wraps Sunday after a weekend of multiple panels and final screenings. Among the films still screening are the Adrien Brody-starrer Detachment and the documentary Nothing Like Chocolate,” which received a standing ovation at its premiere last weekend.

Sharing the stage with Hazanavicius and Feig at the directors panel at 11 a.m. Saturday are five other directors who also helmed Oscar-nominated films, including “Rango” director Gore Verbinski and "Hotel Rwanda" director Terry George, nominated this year for his short film, "The Shore."

Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein will moderate the Movers & Shakers panel at 2 p.m. Saturday for a Q&A with six filmmakers behind some of this year’s Oscar best picture nominees, including “The Descendants” producer Jim Burke and “Hugo” producer Graham King.

SBIFF also presented awards to Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Martin Scorsese. On Saturday, "The Artist" stars Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award.

Festival tickets and schedule are available at Sbiff.org.

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Photo: "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius (left) will participate on SBIFF's directors panel Saturday. The film's stars, Bérénice Bejo (center) and Jean Dujardin (right), will receive the festival's Cinema Vanguard Award that evening. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.


DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

January 28, 2012 | 11:17 pm

Scorsese payne hazanavicius fincher dga

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Michel Hazanavicius best film director of 2011 for “The Artist,” the nostalgic black-and-white, nearly silent movie that hearkens back to the time of transition in Hollywood from silents to talkies. It is the first guild win for the 44-year-old French filmmaker.

"It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope. I really love directors, I over-respect directors. This is very moving and touching to me," he said, receiving a standing ovation. "Best director -- I really don't know what that means. All movies are different, so it's a strange thing to try to compare them and say which is best, but I'm very happy to get this. Thank you."

The other nominees were Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants").

PHOTOS: Directors Guild of America Awards

The DGA feature film awards are considered one of the most dependable bellwethers for the Academy Awards for best director. Over the past 63 years, the DGA and academy have disagreed on their choices only six times. The last time was nine years ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski was named best director by the academy for “The Pianist.”

Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Movie Awards. He was in contention for a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best director.

Last week, “The Artist” won the Producers Guild of America award, which is one of the indicators for the best film Oscar. On Tuesday, “The Artist” earned 10 Oscar nominations, one less than the top nominee “Hugo.” Hazanavicius is up for three of those Oscars for director, screenplay and editing.

The 64th annual DGA Awards were held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. Recent Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer was the host of the evening, succeeding Carl Reiner, who had become an institution at the event, hosting 24 times. Reiner agreed to host for a final time at the 2011 ceremony.

"Welcome to what will be a glorious night....for some of you. Last year we celebrated the DGA awards of biblical length -- it was so long, the Mayans could not predict an end," he said. "The director's cut was two hours shorter. Even James Cameron said, 'it was too long.'"

Before being named the night's big winner, Hazanavicius was presented with his nominee medallion by his two stars, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. Upon taking it, he said: "It's a thrill to be here and to be among these wonderful directors. I'm honored," he said in accepting the medallion. "Maybe you haven't noticed but I'm French. I have an accent and I have a name that is very difficult to pronounce. I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker. And I made a film about my love for Hollywood. We create stories that tell people they are not alone. We separate life from shadows. Hollywood helped me grow up. I believed in values like courage, perseverance and integrity."

"I made this film as a love letter to Hollywood. I feel like I am being accepted by you -- not you as Americans but as filmmakers. So thank you." And he added:  "For my wife Berenice, I'm so glad we shared this together and I love you."

The guild gave James Marsh the award for feature documentary for "Project Nim."

The DGA award for best directing in a TV comedy series went to Robert B. Weide, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken").

In accepting, Weide said: "I have very mixed feelings about this because this means that I just lost a $300 bet to my wife, Linda. Why do they call this a medallion? It's a plate. I understand when you go to Don Mischer's house for dinner, you actually eat off of these."

Other awards handed out Saturday night:

Movies for Television and Mini-series: Jon Cassar, "The Kennedys"

Dramatic TV series: Patty Jenkins, for the pilot of "The Killing"

Musical variety TV: Glenn Weiss, for the 65th annual Tony Awards 

Reality TV programs: Neil P. Degroot, for "Biggest Loser"

Daytime TV serials: William Ludell, for "General Hospital" ("Intervention")

Children’s programs: Amy Schatz, for "A Child's Garden of Poetry" 

Commercials: Noam Murro

Three special awards were also presented. Ed Sherin was named an Honorary Life Member; Katy Garretson received the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Dennis Mazzocco recieved the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of "Project Nim" director James Marsh as March.]

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Photo: Directors Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius and David Fincher attend the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards Meet the Nominees Breakfast held at the DGA on Saturday.Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA 

  


Oscars 2012: 'Descendants' producer closer to 'career goal' with nom

January 24, 2012 | 12:11 pm

Click for photos of reactions from top nominees

After "The Descendants" received a best picture Oscar nomination Tuesday, producer Jim Burke spent the early morning reading congratulatory texts from family and friends and sending his own messages to fellow nominated cast and crew from the Hawaii-set family drama.

So it’s been a morning to be thankful for accolades -- and unlimited texting plans, though, as Burke pointed out, “These are texts I’d be willing to pay for.”

PHOTOS: Oscar top nominees

The producer watched the nominations announcement on his laptop while in bed at his Los Angeles home. For Burke, earning an Oscar nomination means he’s one step closer to a longtime goal. “It’s been just my own personal career goal to win an Oscar since I was 23,” said Burke, 53.

"The Descendants" stars George Clooney as Matt King, a middle-aged man trying to become a better father to his two daughters after his wife suffers a grave injury in a boating accident. Things grow more complicated when he learns that she had been unfaithful to him prior to the incident.

Burke shares the best picture nomination for “The Descendants” with Jim Taylor and director-co-writer Alexander Payne. Those filmmakers and cast members such as Clooney (who nabbed his own nomination for lead actor in the film) are all people Burke has spent a lot of time with during the last few months of campaigning -- though he made a point to not call it “campaigning” but instead “discussing” the film with reporters and with audiences at screenings.

“We have become really close, the cast in particular, and the filmmakers too,” Burke said.

As audiences have dissected “The Descendants” during multiple Q&A sessions, Burke said he’s gained a greater understanding of the film than he had at the time of its release.

“I’ve learned things about this film that I was not conscious of. I was probably subconsciously aware of them. And I would say Alexander feels the same way,” Burke said. “When art reveals itself to you, it really is a wonderful experience.”

“The Descendants” received five Oscar nominations, including best director, best editing and best adapted screenplay.

The following clip is from the recent Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, filmmakers Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") talked about how nerve-racking it can be to start a new film, and how they deal with it.

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Photo: Jim Taylor, left, Alexander Payne and Jim Burke at the 69th Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press.


Oscars 2012: 'The Help' has biggest box office among nominees

January 24, 2012 |  7:09 am

The Help has sold more tickets at the box office than any other best picture nominee
Of this year's best picture nominees, "The Help" has been seen by the most American moviegoers.

The civil rights drama released last August has sold $169.6 million in ticket sales -- more than double the domestic gross of any of the other eight films nominated for the top prize at the Oscars.

The Brad Pitt baseball film "Moneyball" takes the runner-up position with $75.5 million, while Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" -- a World War I epic still in many theaters nationwide -- has so far collected $72.3 million.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscar nominations

Martin Scorsese's  "Hugo" and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" each have a tally of around $56 million. The family drama "The Descendants," meanwhile, just crossed the $50 million mark at the box office last weekend.

The nominees with the least commercial appeal include "The Tree of Life" ($13 million) and "The Artist" ($12 million) -- although the latter, a silent picture, has yet to expand beyond 700 theaters. "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" has grossed only $10 million, but it just opened in cinemas across the country last weekend.

When the Academy Award nominations were announced in 2011, the eventual best picture winner "The King's Speech" had grossed about $57 million. The film featuring Colin Firth ended up with $138.8 million in sales. The year before, "The Hurt Locker" saw far less of a box office boost from its win, collecting an underwhelming $17 million in all.

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--Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Viola Davis, left, stars with Octavia Spencer in "The Help." Credit: Walt Disney Studios


Heat Meter: Is ‘Descendants’ hotter than ‘The Artist’?

January 16, 2012 |  8:10 pm

Descendants
By now the race for best picture is unequivocally a two-horse field, with “The Descendants” and “The Artist” winning the top two awards at the Golden Globes Sunday night. (Last time a pair of legit front-runners split the Globes’ drama and comedy awards? In 2003, when “The Hours” and “Chicago” walked away with the honors.)

But which film has the bigger head of steam? The Los Angeles Times’ Heat Meter system, which Times data editor Doug Smith has helped us devise and which uses a set of algorithms to tally points based on nominations, awards and critics groups throughout the season (for more detail on the scoring, please see this key) shows that “Descendants” has actually pulled slightly ahead. Slightly. 

Within the best picture category, “The Descendants” has accumulated 84.3 points while “The Artist” has rung up 81. 

The Clooney-fest and the study-in-silence have of course also been nabbing other prizes, from acting to score. Though those don’t figure directly into the best picture category, they matter for a movie’s prestige--and also give a film momentum and  a sense of inevitability--so we roll them up into a movie’s total score.

So which has accumulated more overall awards points?

That race, too, is more competitive than an overachieving child at a spelling be :  "Descendants" is now ahead of “The Artist”--but barely, 253-237. (For those following the bronze-medal competition, the race for third has gotten even more bunched up: “The Help” has 132 points and "Hugo" 131.)

The intense battle between Fox Searchlight’s “The Descendants” and the Weinstein Co.’s “The Artist” (next up: Oscar nominations on Jan. 24, with ballots already in) is reminiscent of last year’s face-off between Sony’s “The Social Network” and Weinstein’s “The King’s Speech.” Each also emerged ahead of the pack.

Last year at this time, that race wasn’t nearly as tight. “Network” had a sizable lead over “Speech,” 364-285, when it came to overall points. But that was a very different battle that followed a much clearer trajectory.  “The Social Network” was an early favorite when it came out on the first day of October after premiering just days earlier. Then it steadily began to lose momentum. By Oscar night, “Speech” had overtaken it.

The fight between “Artist” and “Descendants” has been a more complicated thing. “The Artist” made a splash at Cannes then went, well, silent for a few months. In the meantime,  “The Descendants” debuted at  late-summer festivals and was considered a solid contender. Then it faded a bit as “Artist” took center stage. And now it’s re-emerged again. On any given week, one film  has been stronger than the other, which is why their Heat Meter scores are as close they are.

Trying to figure out categories of relative strength has been tricky too—“Artist” may be slightly stronger on the director side, but Clooney has emerged as the man to beat on the actor side.

The only thing that’s clear is that when this season wraps up, one of these films will emerge as the big winner. Or maybe it’s the other one.

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--Steven Zeitchik

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Photo: George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight


'The Artist,' 'Descendants' among nominees for ACE Eddie Awards

January 16, 2012 |  8:29 am

Artists_cast_golden_globes

The morning after "The Artist" won the Golden Globe for best musical or comedy film and "The Descendants" earned the Globe for best dramatic film, both movies received nominations for the 62nd annual American Cinema Editors' Eddie Awards.

Joining "Artist" editors Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius in the best edited comedy or musical film category are William Kerr and Michael L. Sale for "Bridesmaids," Alisa Lepseller for "Midnight in Paris," Adam Recht for "My Week With Marilyn" and Dana E. Glauberman for "Young Adult."

Vying with Kevin Tent for "The Descendants" in the dramatic film category are Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Thelma Schoonmaker for "Hugo," Christopher Tellefsen for "Moneyball" and Michael Kahn for "War Horse."

Nominated for best edited animated feature are Michael Kahn for "The Adventures of  Tintin," Eric Dapkewicz for  "Puss in Boots" and Craig Wood for "Rango."

Winners will be announced Feb. 18 during a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Patton Oswalt is the host.

Nominations were also announced Monday in documentary and TV categories. Continue reading for the list of nominees:

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