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Category: Demian Bichir

Oscar Senti-meter: Demian Bichir leads best actor tweet mentions

February 8, 2012 |  7:15 am


When Oscar nominations were announced, the Twitterverse lit up with messages from movie fans excited about — and upset about — the picks in the best picture, lead actor and lead actress categories. But you might be surprised about which performers and movies got the most tweets — and who had the most positive buzz.

The Oscar Senti-meter — a tool developed by the L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab — analyzes opinions about the Academy Awards race shared in millions of public messages on Twitter. The Senti-meter combs through a high volume of tweets daily and uses language-recognition technology, developed in collaboration with USC’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab, to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages. It also tracks the number of tweets.

Cataloging these tweets over time gives insight into the vox pop surrounding Hollywood’s awards season, and gives a voice to average fans who may endorse — or abhor — the selections made by Tinseltown’s elite.

Using our interactive tool, you can compare the volume and tone of tweets about the lead actor contest between two days, Monday, Jan. 23, the day before the Oscar nominations, and Tuesday, Jan. 24, the day the nominees were announced.

With George Clooney and Brad Pitt landing nominations for “The Descendants” and “Moneyball,” respectively, you might expect that these big names and their Oscar prospects might have garnered the most buzz on nominations day.

Instead, though, it was Demian Bichir, the Mexican-born star of the little-seen “A Better Life,” and his awards prospects that topped the charts with 6,893 messages. That was a 47-fold increase from his tally the day before, when there were just 33 tweets related to Bichir and Hollywood awards.

Some typical messages were “wow!!! Mexican pride!!! This is so awesome! ?@Vacartu: @juanmgc Demian Bichir just got nominated for a Best Actor at the Oscars” and “Congratulations to Mexican actor Demian Bichir, nominated BEST ACTOR for the all Hispanic-cast film A Better Life!” Bichir’s response to his nomination — “I dedicate this nomination to those 11 million human beings who make our lives easier and better in the U.S.,” a reference to undocumented workers like the one he plays in the film — prompted another wave of supportive tweets.

Spanish speakers took to Twitter en masse, sending more than 4,000 tweets about the nomination, such as “Bien! Demian Bichir nominado para Actor in a Leading Role por Better Life #oscars #mexicanpride” but his volume was also upped by messages such as: “Who is Demian Bichir and why is he nominate for best actor. #Oscars2012”

Another foreign-born actor, Jean Dujardin, was nominated for lead actor for his lead role in “The Artist,” but the Frenchman and his awards prospects saw the lowest volume of any nominees on Tuesday — with just 1,388.

Gary Oldman, star of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” was a close second to Bichir, with 6,841 tweets.
As for snubs, Michael Fassbender — who bared it all in “Shame” — was the subject of the most outrage, with 3,513 messages.

Some more sample tweets from Oscar nomination day:

  • Demian Bichir nominado al Oscar? Now I’ve seen everything!!
  • I reeeaaallly want Brad Pitt to take Best Actor at the Oscars. Think “Most Improved,” and he’s absolutely earned it.
  • If Gary Oldman doesn’t win Best Actor In A Leading Role then I don’t want to live anymore. #TeamGaryOldman
  • I love Clooney but I’m not convinced dressing like a schlub, sporting a bad haircut, and turning off the charm makes an Oscar-worthy perf.
  • why do I have a feeling that if Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor, he’ll pull a Roberto Begnini?
  • I have to imagine that Billy Crystal is probably taking Michael Fassbender's Oscar snub far harder than Fassbender is.

Have fun exploring the interactive tool, and keep tweeting. Who knows, your messages might just show up in our sample tweets on a future day.


Oscar Ballot: Play-at-home

Heatmeter: Who's hot this awards season?

Cheat Sheet: Your guide to the Oscar nominees

— Julie Makinen

Image: Oscar Senti-meter on the day the Oscar nominations were announced. Credit: L.A. Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab


SAG Awards: Demian Bichir on his surprise nomination

December 14, 2011 | 10:55 am


In the film “A Better Life,” Mexican actor Demián Bichir stars as an East L.A. gardener, an undocumented immigrant who’s doggedly pursuing the American dream. On Wednesday, Bichir, who immigrated to the United States some 20 years ago to pursue English-language roles, earned a piece of his own personal American dream when he was named one of five best actor nominees for a SAG Award.

He and Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) are the least familiar names in a group that also consists of George Clooney, Leonard DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. 

After years spent washing dishes in New York restaurants and doing other menial jobs while studying English and trying to land minor film roles to break into Hollywood, Bichir said that receiving SAG’s recognition was “amazing, incredible and fantastic.”

“This is my fellow peers voting, and that makes me immensely proud,” said Bichir, who hails from a prominent Mexican theater family and began performing on stage as a child before graduating to lead roles in translations of Shakespeare and Chekhov.

Bichir, 48, already was a Mexican film and television star when he moved across the border. Relocating meant leaving behind not only his family but a comfortable career. His breakthrough Spanish-language film role came in “Sexo, pudor y lagrimas” (Sex, Shame and Tears), a 1999 war-of-the-sexes ensemble comedy that’s one of Mexico's highest-grossing films. “When I decided to leave Mexico, pretty much everyone thought I was crazy,” he said.

He’s best known to stateside viewers as the ethically challenged Tijuana mayor Esteban Reyes opposite Mary-Louise Parker on Showtime’s “Weeds”; and for tackling the part of Fidel Castro in “Che” (2008), Steven Soderbergh’s two-part bio-pic about Cuban-Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

He also starred at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood in a 2008 production of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan’s drama “By the Waters of Babylon,” about a Cuban novelist obliged to become a manual laborer after migrating to Texas.

Although “A Better Life” touches on the red-hot political topic of illegal immigration, the film is essentially a domestic drama about gardener Carlos Galindo’s efforts to raise his teenage son and keep him out of gangs while earning a living landscaping lawns and hoisting himself up palm trees with an electric trimmer. Bichir, who’s bilingual, communicates in the film in Spanish and halting English.

Director Chris Weitz said he wanted to cast Bichir after seeing his “Che” performance. Although the filmmakers were under pressure to recruit a more prominent Spanish-speaking star, such as Javier Bardem or Benicio del Toro, Weitz and his producers were intent on casting a Mexican actor as the lead.

To connect with Bichir, Weitz – who was then preparing to direct the “New Moon” film of the Twilight Saga -- invited him to read for the part of a vampire lord in that film. 

“He did a great reading,” Weitz said, but “I think there was some confusion in his mind about whether he was playing a vampire or a vampire who likes to climb trees.”

Christian McLaughlin, a producer of “A Better Life,” said that Bichir’s achievement was to convey Carlos’ inner thoughts and struggles with minimal dialogue. Because he’s illegal, Carlos “has to keep his head down” and be as anonymous as possible, McLaughlin said. Bichir “has to communicate a lot with his face and eyes without being passive.”

“It’s so powerful because it’s so understated,” agreed Stacey Lubliner, another of the movie’s producers.

Bichir remains relatively unknown to mainstream U.S. movie-goers. “A Better Life,” although well-reviewed by critics, earned a modest $1.8 million at the box office when it was released in June. Next up for Bichir: an appearance in Oliver Stone’s upcoming crime thriller “Savages,” and a Mexico City stage adaptation of “Swimming With Sharks.” (He plays the role pioneered by Kevin Spacey; the play is directed by Bichir’s brother.)

When he eats breakfast at his favorite West Hollywood diner, Bichir seldom draws stares from other customers. But waiters and busboys always chat with him in Spanish, and the actor always treats them like old friends. This year, some of them have shared their impressions of his character in “A Better Life.”

“They say, ‘That’s my dad’s story, that’s my uncle’s story, that’s my family’s story,’ " Bichir said. “And it touches everyone’s hearts.”


Movie Review: 'A Better Life'

'A Better Life's' Demian Bichir: Time for his moment in Oscar spotlight 

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Demian Bichir in "A Better Life." Credit: Merrick Morton/Summit Entertainment

SAG Awards: Meet 'Albert Nobbs,' 'Kevin' and 'The Iron Lady'

December 14, 2011 |  9:49 am

Albert Nobbs
This year's SAG Awards nominees, announced Wednesday morning, include a number of performances in films that haven't opened yet, have only had brief one-week runs to qualify for Academy Awards consideration, or simply flew under the radar. Here's a quick overview if you were stumped by titles including "Albert Nobbs," "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "The Iron Lady."

"Albert Nobbs," about a woman living a double life as a man to work and survive in 19th century Ireland, received nominations for lead actress Glenn Close and supporting actress Janet McTeer. If you haven't seen the film, it's because it doesn't open until next week. The film did play at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, where its awards campaign began in earnest. 

Tilda Swinton received a lead actress nomination for her role in "We Need to Talk About Kevin," in which she plays a mother struggling to come to terms with her son's involvement in a school shooting. The film began a one-week qualifying run in L.A. and New York on Dec. 9 and will open commercially in the same cities Jan. 27. It played at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and you can watch our video report below or read Kenneth Turan's review of the film here.

"The Iron Lady," a biopic about Margaret Thatcher, garnered a lead actress nomination for Meryl Streep. The film opens Dec. 30 in L.A. and New York and will go nationwide Jan. 13. British critics have lauded her performance.

Some low-profile performances from earlier in the year that earned SAG nominations include Demian Bichir's turn in "A Better Life," in which he plays an illegal-immigrant gardener trying to provide for his son; Nick Nolte in "Warrior," in which he plays the estranged father of dueling brothers; and  Christopher Plummer in "Beginners," in a supporting role as a recently out-of-the-closet widower who embraces his new lifestyle with gusto. 

The SAG Awards winners will be named Jan. 29 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.



SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

'Warrior': Nick Nolte on whether a felon could win an Oscar

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs." Credit: Patrick Redmond / Roadside Attractions


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