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Category: The Descendants

'Descendants,' 'Moneyball' among Scripter Award finalists

January 12, 2012 |  7:00 am


The screenwriters of "A Dangerous Method," "The Descendants," "Jane Eyre," "Moneyball" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" -- as well as the authors of the works each is based on -- are the five finalists for the 24th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award. The announcement was made Thursday morning.

Screenwriter Christopher Hampton is a finalist for "A Dangerous Method," adapted from the nonfiction book "A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein" by John Kerr and the 2002 play "The Talking Cure" by Hampton.

Alexander Pyne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash were nominated for "The Descendants" screenplay, adapted from the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, which was an expansion of her short story "The Minor Wars."

Screenwriter Moira Buffini is a finalist for "Jane Eyre," an adaptation of the 1847 classic novel by Charlotte Bronte.

Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chevrin are finalists for their "Moneyball" screenplay, which was adapted from the  book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis.

Rounding out the finalists are screenwriters Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," adapted from  John le Carre's spy novel of the same name.

The Scripter Award was created by the Friends of the USC Libraries in 1988 and honors the screenwriters of the "year's most accomplished cinematic adaptation as well as the authors of the written work on which the screenplay is based."

Last year, Sorkin won the Script Award for his adaptation of "The Social Network."

The Scripter selection committee chose the five finalists from 109 eligible films. The 32-member selection committee includes Times film critic Kenneth Turan.

Paul Haggis, who won the Scripter for the 2004 drama "Million Dollar Baby," is this year's recipient of the USC Scripter Literary Achievement Award.

The awards will be handed out Feb. 18 at the Times Reference Room of USC's Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library.


20th WGA Award nod for Woody Allen

'The Artist,' 'The Tree of Life' among ASC cinematography nominees 

--Susan King

Photo: "A Dangerous Method" is a finalist for the Scripter Award. Credit: Liam Daniel/Sony Picture Classics

Year in Review: Betsy Sharkey's best film picks of 2011

December 16, 2011 |  2:30 pm

The Descendants
This year, I found myself drawn to certain themes as well as specific films, what follows are my favorites on both fronts.

1. “The Descendants” and other family matters: Exquisite examinations of family pain topped my list this year starting with George Clooney exceptional at being ordinary in “The Descendants.” Other standouts were a surprising Iranian divorce saga “A Separation,” Tilda Swinton’s excruciating tribulations in “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” the clashing Shakespearean politics of family and country in Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus” and finally a boy’s father lost and found in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”

2. “City of Life and Death” in black-and-white: Filmmakers proved that black-and-white can be artistically powerful and emotionally unforgettable with Chuan Lu’s heartbreaking Nanjing massacre in “City of Life and Death,” with a nod to Michel Hazanavicius’ buoyant ode to the end of the silent era in “The Artist.”

Continue reading »

Golden Globes: Shailene Woodley's smooth transition from TV to film

December 15, 2011 | 10:59 am

Shailene Woodley talks about being nominated for a Golden Globe award

Shailene Woodley, the 20-year-old best known as the star of the ABC Family show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” only has been to one big awards show before: the Teen Choice Awards. But when she heads to the Golden Globes come January, she won’t take home a surfboard if she wins the prize for  supporting actress for her work opposite George Clooney in "The Descendants."

“It’ll definitely be a new experience,” Woodley said with a chuckle Wednesday morning. “Oh my gosh — I’m so excited and grateful and in that quasi-sleep mode.”

PHOTOS: Golden Globe top nominees

In “The Descendants,” Woodley plays the daughter of Clooney’s character — she's an angsty, rebellious teenager struggling to come to grips with her parents’ crumbling relationship. Although the movie marks her first serious turn on the big screen, Woodley said she’s found the transition from television to film to be surprisingly smooth.

“I don’t think a lot of filmmakers pay attention to whether or not you come from TV,” she said. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is my first film, I’ve only done TV before so I better change something.’ It was a seamless process.”

Working the awards circuit, however, has been a learning curve for the young actress. “There were definitely people telling me, ‘This is what this awards show is about, or this is what this event is about,’” she said. “Obviously, I had heard of the Golden Globes and the Oscars, but some of the others were new to me.”


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

More coverage of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations

— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Shailene Woodley stars in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight

Golden Globes: George Clooney pitted against his closest colleagues

December 15, 2011 | 10:14 am

Ides of March
George Clooney has met his Golden Globe competitors -- they're his own movies.

While actors occasionally have faced themselves in the past (in the last Golden Globes, Johnny Depp was nominated twice for lead actor in a comedy or musical for "The Tourist" and "Alice in Wonderland"), Clooney's predicament is a little trickier. If he's to take home a trophy in any of the three Golden Globe categories in which he's nominated, he will have to beat his closest collaborators.

In the best dramatic actor race, Clooney is nominated for playing the disconnected dad in "The Descendants" But also nominated in that category is Ryan Gosling -- whom Clooney directed as a political operative in "The Ides of March."

In the directing race, Clooney was picked for helming "The Ides of March," while Alexander Payne was nominated for making "The Descendants."

Finally, in the screenplay competition, Clooney and co-writers Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon were nominated for "The Ides of March," facing off against Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for "The Descendants."

It's not the only incestuous Golden Globes situation this year. Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer were both nominated from "The Help" for supporting actress, while Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster were chosen for best actress in a comedy or musical for "Carnage."

Rash joked that there's only one proper move for Clooney to make -- back "The Descendants" all the way. "It just feels like he needs to choose his allegiance," the screenwriter said. "But I'm not going to lead him one way or the other." The screenwriters suggested that Clooney and Payne resolve their director clash in the ring. "Give them some uncut footage, and they have to arrange it," Faxon said.

Jim Burke, who produced "The Descendants," said he was gratified, rather than worried, that the movie  is facing "The Ides of March" in the three races. "I don't feel awkward or weird, and I don't think George or Alexander does. I think George is a fantastic actor, but he's also a great filmmaker," Burke said. "It could be weird only if we were less supportive of each other."

Clooney seems to relish the idea of facing his best filmmaking friend. Said the actor, "Bring' em on!"


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

Golden Globes: 'Extremely Loud,' 'Tinker Tailor' snubbed

-- John Horn

Photo: George Clooney in "The Ides of March." Credit: Saeed Adyani

L.A. Film Critics choose best actor, best actress winners

December 11, 2011 |  1:30 pm

Fassbender shame
The L.A. Film Critics Assn. is handing out its annual awards today. They've named their best actor and actress -- Michael Fassbender and Yun Jung-hee, along with several other awards. Here's the list so far.

Best actor: Michael Fassbender, for his work in "A Dangerous Method," "Jane Eyre," "Shame" and "X-Men: First Class."

Runner-Up: Michael Shannon, "Take Shelter."

Best Actress: Yun Jung-hee, in the South Korean film "Poetry."

Runner-up: Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia."

Best Documentary/Nonfiction film: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" by Werner Herzog.

Runner-Up: "The Arbor" by Clio Barnard.

Best screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, “A Separation.”

Runner-Up: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, “The Descendants.”

Best supporting actress: Jessica Chastain, who was recognized for her work in six films -- "Coriolanus," "The Debt," "The Help," "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields" and "The Tree of Life."

Runner-up: Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs."

Best supporting actor: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners."

Runner-up: Patton Oswalt, "Young Adult."

Best cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "The Tree of Life."

Runner-up: Cao Yu, "City of Life and Death."

Best music/score: The Chemical Brothers, "Hanna."

Runner-up: Cliff Martinez, "Drive."

Best production design: Dante Ferretti, "Hugo."

Runner-up: Maria Djurkovic, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Best Independent, Experimental: "Spark of Being." Directed by Bill Morrison, it's a re-imagining of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein,: using images culled from archives around the world.


National Board of Review names 'Hugo' best picture

New York critics name 'The Artist' best film of the year

'Bridesmaids,' 'Tree of Life,' 'Hugo' in AFI's top 10 films of 2011

Photo: Writer-director Steve McQueen, left, and actor Michael Fassbender on the set of "Shame." Credit: Abbot Genser/ Fox Searchlight Pictures 

What will win the L.A. film critics' top award?

December 9, 2011 | 12:43 pm

George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendants
It’s the last working day before this Sunday’s L.A. Film Critics vote, which means that my phone is ringing ringing ringing with publicists calling, all wanting to hear the same thing.

“Please tell me ‘The Artist’ isn’t going to win … please!!!”

Two things: 1) No, these inquiries are not coming from the Weinstein Co. They’d be happy for their lovely little film to win here just as it did when the New York Film Critics Circle voted last week.

2) No, “The Artist” isn’t going to win.

How can I say that? As a LAFCA member, I have just one vote, but having participated in these drawn-out gatherings since the twilight of the 20th century, I can note that Los Angeles and New York rarely make the same choices, unless the movie is spectacularly good. (Last year, the NYFCC rubber-stamped LAFCA’s selection of “The Social Network.”) And “The Artist” just isn’t that good.

So what movie will take LAFCA’s top honor? The voting figures to come down to three films: “The Descendants,” “The Tree of Life” and “Melancholia.” All have their champions. Many members adore all three. But if the cineaste wing of the group splits its vote between “Tree” and “Melancholia,” then Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” might just emerge victorious.

Then again, “The Descendants” could also just run away with the day. Payne has a strong history with the group, winning (with writing partner Jim Taylor) LAFCA’s New Generation award in 1999 for “Citizen Ruth” and “Election,” and then taking best picture honors for his next two films, “About Schmidt” and “Sideways.”

If you’re keeping score, that makes Payne four for four with LAFCA. The group loves him more than the motion picture academy hearts Stephen Daldry. And since “The Descendants,” Payne’s first movie since “Sideways,” may be his most accomplished film yet, there’s no reason to think this particular penchant will end this year.


Predicting the Golden Globes: Motion picture drama races

-- Glenn Whipp

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

'The Descendants' has faster start than 'Juno,' 'Slumdog,' 'Black Swan'

December 2, 2011 |  4:43 pm

The Descendants

The box-office results are early, but so far "The Descendants" is off to a faster start than any of Fox Searchlight's three biggest hits, eclipsing the $10-million mark faster than "Black Swan," "Juno" and "Slumdog Millionaire." Attendance for Alexander Payne's film has been so strong across the country that the studio this weekend is adding nearly 600 locations to the film's release, about 50% more theaters than was initially planned.

The returns are being driven not just by big art-house markets such as Los Angeles and New York. Among the Top 10 locations for "The Descendants" last weekend, the list included cinemas in Palm Springs, Phoenix and Seattle. "It's really the word of mouth on the film" that's behind the grosses, said Steve Gilula, president of Fox Searchlight. "The vast, vast majority of people love the movie. And it's playing well in cities, suburbs and small cities. There's no geographic limitation."

"The Descendants" crossed the $10-million mark in its 12th day of limited release, quicker than "Black Swan" (its 16th day of release), "Juno" (22nd day of release) and "Slumdog Millionaire" (39 days). The studio said "The Descendants" crossed the $10-million mark even faster than "Precious," "No Country for Old Men" and "American Beauty."

Payne's movie has so far grossed about $13 million, leaving it far behind "Juno" ($143.5 million overall), "Slumdog Millionaire" ($141.3 million) and "Black Swan" ($107 million). If "The Descendants" continues to draw awards attention, including a possible best picture and best actor Oscar nomination for George Clooney, the drama about a disconnected dad could play into the spring.


Review: 'The Descendants'

'The Descendants': George Clooney and costars dazzle critics

'The Descendants': George Clooney on why he took the role of Matt King

Photo: George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." Credit: Merie Wallace

National Board of Review names 'Hugo' best picture

December 1, 2011 | 12:52 pm


"Hugo," director Martin Scorsese's family film reflecting his love of cinema, was named the best film of the year Thursday by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The lavish 3-D fantasy set in a Paris railway station in 1931 also won best director for Scorsese.

Ironically, the black-and-white silent film "The Artist," which won the New York Film Critics Circle honor Tuesday, was shut out of the list of awards, though it was named one of the top 10 films of the year by the National Board of Review.

Lead actor honors went to George Clooney as the father of two in Alexander Payne's Hawaii-set "The Descendants," and Tilda Swinton was named lead actress as a mother of a troubled son in "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

Veteran Christopher Plummer won supporting actor as a widower who comes out of the closet in "Beginners," and Shailene Woodley won supporting actress honors as Clooney's rebellious teenage daughter in "The Descendants." The film also won best adapted screenplay for Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, with Will Reiser winning the original screenplay prize for the cancer-themed film "50/50."

"Rango" took best animated feature honors, and two actresses were recognized for breakthrough performance honors: Felicity Jones for "Like Crazy" and Rooney Mara for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." J.C. Chandor won best debut director for "Margin Call," and the cast of "The Help" earned best ensemble.

The Spotlight Award went to Michael Fassbender for a quartet of performances -- in "A Dangerous Method," "Jane Eyre," "Shame" and "X-Men: First Class."

The National Board of Review, which was founded in 1909, is made up of film professionals, educators, historians and students.

Though considered by some to be a bellwether for the Academy Awards, NBR and the Oscars haven't seen eye-to-eye on the best film selections since 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire." Two years ago, NBR chose "Up in the Air" as the best movie of 2009, while the Academy Award went to "The Hurt Locker." Last year, "The Social Network" was the organization's top choice, but the Oscar went to "The King's Speech."

The NBR awards will be presented Jan. 10 at Cipriana's 42nd Street in New York City.

Other winners announced Thursday:

NBR Freedom of Expression: "Crime After Crime"

NBR Freedom of Expression: "Pariah"

Best Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"

Best Documentary: "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"

Special Achievement in Filmmaking: The Harry Potter Franchise  -- A Distinguished Translation from Book to Film


 New York critics name 'The Artist' best film of the year

-- Susan King

Photo: Chloë Grace Moretz and Asa Butterfield star in the movie "Hugo." Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures / GK Films LLC

'The Descendants': George Clooney and costars dazzle critics

November 16, 2011 |  4:00 pm

The Descendants
Having fared well at festivals and been widely predicted as an Oscars best picture candidate, the new family drama "The Descendants" arrives today courtesy of director Alexander Payne ("About Schmidt," "Sideways") and star George Clooney. In the film adapted from the 2007 Kaui Hart Hemmings novel, Clooney plays an impassive father in Hawaii who is stunned by a family crisis. Critics' reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey says "The Descendants" is "a tragedy infused with comedy [that] calls for a balancing act from filmmaker and star alike, a tightrope they navigate with nary a wobble." Sharkey applauds Payne's "smart, sardonic sensibility" and the way the director works with cinematographer Phedon Papamichael to show Hawaii as more than a tropical paradise or a tourist trap. The cast is solid, including Shailene Woodley ("beautifully nuanced" as Clooney's teenage daughter), Nick Krause and Robert Forster, but in the end, "this is Clooney's show and he is hands-down terrific as a harried father and wary husband trying to make up for lost time."

Continue reading »

'The Descendants': Judy Greer, George Clooney on Alexander Payne

November 4, 2011 | 11:05 am

The Descendants
Alexander Payne asks for a lot from his actors, and what he needed from his "Descendants" cast was not insignificant. Matt King (George Clooney) must wrestle with parenthood, infidelity and a dying wife.

His children (his older daughter is played by Shailene Woodley)have to figure out how to reconnect with their absent father. And Julie Speer (Judy Greer) has to determine not only why King is paying her husband a surprise visit, but also what she needs to say to his comatose spouse.

In this video excerpt from the Envelope Screening Series, the cast of "The Descendants" talk about how Payne works with actors, and how he makes them feel safe, even when working on emotionally dangerous scenes.


'The Descendants': George Clooney on the first day of filming

'The Descendants': Alexander Payne on adapting the book to film

'The Descendants': George Clooney on why he took the role of Matt

--John Horn    

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


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