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Category: Jessica Chastain

Cannes 2012: Watch trailers of six films playing the festival

April 19, 2012 | 12:19 pm


Bruce Willis, Wes Anderson, Josh Hutcherson, Marion Cotillard, Lee Daniels and Nicole Kidman are among the talents bringing films to the Cannes Film Festival, whose lineup was announced Thursday. The prestigious festival kicks off in the southeast France town on May 16. Check out the trailers below to get familiarized with some up this year’s films.

“Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson
Opening the festival is the Edward Norton-starring comedy by Wes Anderson. It’s his first film to appear at Cannes. Set in the 1960s, "Kingdom" centers on two young lovers who run away from their New England town, prompting a search party to go after them. Focus Features will distribute the film in the U.S. starting May 25. Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand round out the cast.

“On the Road,” directed by Walter Salles
Starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley, this long-gestating adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 Beat novel will be in competition at the festival. Executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola, the film also features Viggo Mortensen, Terrance Howard and Amy Adams.

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National Society of Film Critics: 'Melancholia' best of 2011

January 7, 2012 |  1:51 pm


Kirsten Dunst, from left,  Alexander Skarsgaard, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg  in "Melancholia."

The National Society of Film Critics, which is made up of 58 the country's major film critics, rarely agrees with the choices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Oscars. And the group probably stayed true to form with its picks for its 46th annual awards, naming Lars Von Trier's end-of-the-world drama "Melancholia" best picture Saturday.

Terrence's Malick's "The Tree of Life" came in second and the lauded Iranian drama "A Separation" placed third. "Separation" also won best foreign-language film and best screenplay for Asghar Farhadi.

Malick took best director honors with Martin Scorsese for "Hugo" coming in second and Von Trier placing third.

The annual voting, using a weighted ballot system, is held at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City; this year 48 of the 58 members participated.

Best actor went to Brad Pitt for both "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." Pitt also won best actor from the New York Film Critics' Circle and is nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG award and a Critics Choice award. Runner-up was Gary Oldman for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," and Jean Dujardin placed third for "The Artist."

Notably missing from the list was Michael Fassbender for "Shame" and George Clooney for "The Descendants."

Best actress honors went to Kirsten Dunst for "Melancholia," with Yun Jung-hee for the Korean film "Poetry" coming in second. Meryl Streep's turn in "The Iron Lady" placed third.

Best supporting actor went to Albert Brooks for a his dramatic turn in "Drive." Christopher Plummer placed second for "Beginners," followed by Patton Oswalt for "Young Adult."

Best supporting actress was given to Jessica Chastain for her roles in three films: "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." Jeannie Berlin came in second for "Margaret" and Shailene Woodley placed third for "The Descandants."

"Tree of Life" also took home best cinematography for Emanual Lubezki with Manual Alberto Claro placing second for "Melancholia" and Robert Richardson taking third for "Hugo."

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" was best nonfiction film. He also came in third place in the category for "Into the Abyss." Steve James' "The Interrupters" placed second.

In best screenplay category, Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin's script for "Moneyball" was second behind "A Separation" and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" took third.

 The Experimental Award went to Ken Jacobs for "Seeking the Monkey King."

There were also several Film Heritage honors given out:

-- BAM Cinematek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective, with all titles shown in 16mm or 35mm.

-- Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon."

-- New York's Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.

-- Flicker Alley for its box set "Landmarks of Early Soviet Film."

-- Criterion Collection for its two-disc DVD package, "The Complete Jean Vigo."


'Melancholia' -- Kirsten Dunst ponders the end of the world [video]

Veteran Koreanactress Yun Jung-hee comes out of retirement for 'Poetry'

Jessica Chastain heading to Broadway in 'The Heiress'

-- Susan King

Photo: Kirsten Dunst, from left,  Alexander Skarsgaard, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in "Melancholia." Credit: Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures.


'The Debt' is most under-appreciated film of 2011 (Part 2)

December 31, 2011 | 10:00 am

It features two young stars (Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington) and one perennial favorite (Helen Mirren). It tackled big themes of revenge and truth in the context of a globetrotting thriller.

For these reasons and others, a majority of you voted for "The Debt" as the most under-appreciated film of 2011.

 Among more than 2,000 readers surveyed, nearly 30% believed the film didn't get the props it deserved, topping a wide range of movies that includes “Warrior,” “Fright Night” and “Margin Call.”

"The Debt" concerns a retired intelligence operative (Mirren) looking back on a Nazi-hunting  mission her younger self (Chastain) and partner (Worthington) undertook decades before. The movie garnered strong reviews (The Times' Besty Sharkey called it a "superbly crafted espionage thriller") and was not neglected at the box office -- the Focus Features release grossed $31 million, making it one of the more successful specialty films of the year. Still, many readers felt it was not given the wider recognition it deserved.

Certainly the movie, which John Madden remade from an Israeli thriller, had a rough road to the box office. After being greenlighted and produced by Miramax Films, it was orphaned as that company was shut down.

A period of limbo followed. Former Miramax parent company Disney first agreed to release it,  then decided against the move. Eventually Focus stepped in to acquire the rights. "The Debt" opened in August, nearly a year after it first played for the public at the Toronto International Fl Festival.

Other movies also failed to gain sufficient recognition, according to the survey. "Margin Call," J.C. Chandor's financial-collapse drama that follows the crisis as it moves up the chain of an investment bank over one night in 2008, earned nearly 20% of your vote.

And "Win WIn," Tom McCarthy's story of a family that takes in a high-school wrestling athlete, came in at a strong 19%; despite stellar reviews and convincing performances, that movie barely took in $10 million.  "Warrior," the Nick Nolte-starring mixed-martial arts drama, finished with 14% of the vote, and earned additional support on Twitter and Facebook.

In winning the "under-appreciated" title, "The Debt" follows in the footsteps of another genre-inflected movie about big themes, the vampire movie "Let Me In." Matt Reeves' Cold War coming-of-age story earned broad support from readers when we posed the question last year.

The honor, though, can be a mixed blessing. As Reeves said after winning the vote: "Here's to having the most over-appreciated movie of next year."


What's the most under-appreciated movie of 2011 (Part 1)

Movie Review: 'The Debt'

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain in "The Debt." Credit: Focus Features

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

December 14, 2011 |  6:55 am

Demian Bichir was suprisingly nominated for a best actor award at the SAGs
Demián Bichir, a 48-year-old Mexican actor little-known to American moviegoers, scored a surprise best actor nomination at the SAG Awards on Wednesday morning.

Bichir, who plays an illegal immigrant pursuing the American dream in "A Better Life," beat out a couple of projected favorites in the category, including "Shame's" Michael Fassbender and Gary Oldman from "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Directed by Chris Weitz, "A Better Life" has only grossed $1.8 million at the U.S. box office.

The foreign star was only one of a handful of actors to receive a nomination who had not graced the lists of awards prognosticators. In the lead actress category, nearly all of the nominees were considered shoo-ins, namely Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady" and Michelle Williams from "My Week with Marilyn," though it was slightly unexpected that Glenn Close earned a nod for her cross-dressing turn in "Albert Nobbs."

Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

In the supporting actor group, 25-year-old Armie Hammer garnered a nomination for his role as J. Edgar Hoover's rumored lover Clyde Tolson in "J. Edgar. His co-star Leonardo DiCaprio had been widely considered a front-runner for a best actor nod, but Hammer had not been mentioned as frequently. Meanwhile, 27-year-old Jonah Hill was also nominated in the category for his first serious part in "Moneyball." Nick Nolte, who plays an alcoholic father to two mixed martial arts fighters in "Warrior," also earned a unforseen nomination. The three actors beat out favorites like "Drive's" Albert Brooks, who picked up a slew of critics' awards over the last week, as well as Sir Ben Kingsley from "Hugo."

The supporting actress category did not have as many unexpected turns, as Shailene Woodley -- the 20-year-old who plays the daughter of George Clooney's character in "The Descendants" -- was the only performer to be snubbed. Instead, Jessica Chastain -- who starred in a half-dozen movies this year -- was nominated for playing a ditzy Southern woman in "The Help."


The complete list of nominees

Movie Review: 'A Better Life'

Demián Bichir is feeling playful

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

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Demián Bichir stars in "A Better Life." Credit: Summit Entertainment

Jessica Chastain wins L.A. Film Critics Assn. award

December 11, 2011 | 12:11 pm

Tree of life chastain
The L.A. Film Critics Assn. has started handing out its annual awards Sunday morning. Here’s a look at the first five categories it has chosen winners in so far.

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."


What will win the LA film critics' top award?

National Board of Review names 'Hugo' best picture

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

-- Julie Makinen

Photo: Jessica Chastain and Tye Sheridan in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." Credit: Merie Wallace/Fox Searchlight 

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

November 29, 2011 | 10:50 am

The artist

"The Artist," a black-and-white silent movie, was named best picture of 2011 Tuesday morning by the New York Film Critics Circle. The film's director, Michel Hazanavicius of France, also earned best director for his valentine to the early days of Hollywood.

It is the first time the critics have given its top award to a silent film. Earlier in the morning, the film earned five nominations for the Spirit Award.

Meryl Streep was named best actress for her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," which opens in L.A. on Dec. 30. It is the fifth time the New York circle has honored Streep. The last time was two years ago for "Julie & Julia."

Brad Pitt took home best actor honors for his performances as Oakland A's manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball" and as a stern father in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." It is his first honor from the critics' group. Steve Zallian and Aaron Sorkin won for best screenplay for "Moneyball."

This year's golden girl, Jessica Chastain, was named best supporting actress for her roles in "The Tree of LIfe," "The Help" and "Take Shelter." Albert Brooks won best supporting actor for a rare dramatic turn in the film noir "Drive."

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams' won best nonfiction film, while "Margin Call," written and directed by J.C. Chandor, was awarded best first feature. Cinematography honors went to Emmanuel Lubezki for "Tree of Life."

Foreign-language film honors went to Iran's  "A Separation," which has already won multiple awards and is the country's submission for the foreign-language film Oscar. The Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz, who died in August, got a special posthumous award.

The awards will be handed out in a ceremony in Manhattan on Jan. 9.

The New York Film Critics Circle, which was founded in 1935, is the first major critics group to announce its picks for the best of the year. The organization, made up of critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and online sites, traditionally voted after the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. But in October, the 33-member group announced it would move its awards selection ahead two weeks.

The voting was supposed to have happened on Monday, but the group didn't have the chance to screen David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," which opens Dec. 23, until Monday morning, so the voting was delayed until Tuesday. The film received no awards.

Over the decades, the New York critics' selections and those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have differed. Last year, the circle chose "The Social Network" as the top film and the academy gave "The King's Speech" the best film Oscar. The two groups agreed two years ago on "The Hurt Locker."

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures announces its selections Thursday morning.


"New York Film Critics movies awards dates to see 'Dragon Tattoo'"

-- Susan King

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

'The Debt': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

September 7, 2011 |  4:30 pm

  Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington in The Debt, Betsy Sharkey's critic's pick film

Though “The Debt” has only just landed in theaters, director John Madden’s spine-tingling spy thriller is one of those intelligent dramas likely to be pushed aside all too quickly in the fall crush.

There are many reasons not to miss this bristling tale of Mossad agents then — Nazi hunting in post-World War II East Berlin — and now in Tel Aviv. The story is being sold on the back of Oscar winner Helen Mirren, who plays Rachel, a long-retired agent pulled back into the fray to finish the job that shaped her life.

But the performance to go for is Jessica Chastain, who plays Rachel in her earlier defining moments. She is riveting as a young woman bound by her cause, her values tested, her love torn between other young firebrands played by the excellent Marton Csokas and Sam Worthington. And Jesper Christensen is bone-chilling evil incarnate as the Nazi surgeon being tracked.

Meanwhile, Madden has woven in a series of tightly coiled action sequences that make “The Debt” as breathless and bloody as it is brainy.

— Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington star as young Mossad agents on the hunt in East Berlin in the spy thriller "The Debt." Credit: Laurie Sparham/Focus Features.

Did Jessica Chastain's role in 'The Help' pay off for 'The Debt'?

September 5, 2011 |  2:21 pm

Jessica Chastain starred in the top two movies at the box office this weekend
Is there a Jessica Chastain effect at play at the box office?

That’s what some industry executives deduced after "The Help" and "The Debt" -– both of which the actress stars in – were the top two choices among moviegoers at the multiplex this weekend.

"So many people have seen Jessica's performance in 'The Help,' that I think it helped us that she was a familiar face that some people were happy to see again," said Jack Foley, president of domestic distribution for Focus Features, which released "The Debt." "We put our trailer up on 'The Help' -- because we knew that for adult moviegoers going to the movie theater, it was going to be, 'Now we've seen 'The Help,' what can we see this weekend?'"

Although both films may target an adult audience, they are certainly quite different tonally –- and Chastain plays polar opposites in each one. In "The Help," she’s a ditzy blonde whose lack of cooking skills and affinity for low-cut blouses make her a social outcast with the women of the Mississippi Junior League. Meanwhile, as a Mossad secret agent in "The Debt," her strong-willed character is tasked with capturing a Nazi war criminal.

Chastain, 30, was months ago deemed the 'It' girl of the season, for the sheer volume of pictures in which she appears this year. She played a part in the art-house hit "The Tree of Life" released earlier in the year and is featured in three films due by the end of 2011: "Take Shelter," "Texas Killing Fields" and "The Wettest County in the World." Two more of her movies, "Coriolanus" and "Wilde Salome," are making the rounds on the festival circuit.


Lizzie Olsen and Jessica Chastain: 'It' girls shine at HFPA lunch

Box Office: 'The Help' repeats at No. 1 over Labor Day weekend

'The Debt': Helen Mirren plus Jessica Chastain equals one Nazi hunter

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Jessica Chastain as Rachel in "The Debt." Credit: Focus Features

A closer look at the costumes in 'The Help'

August 10, 2011 | 12:16 pm

The Help

Fans of 1960s fashions will have a field day at “The Help.” But dressing the white Southern belles (Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard) and their black maids (Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis) provided some challenges for costume designer Sharen Davis.

Davis spoke about the movie with fashion writer Booth Moore over on our sister blog All the Rage. Davis built 50 costumes from scratch using vintage fabrics (the rest were sourced from costume rental shops and vintage stores). The job was challenging because the film, which opened Wednesday, was shot in Greenwood, Miss., where resources were nil. “The only store is a Wal-Mart. There wasn’t even a Starbucks or a Target,” she said. “I had to fly a lot of people back to L.A. for fittings on the weekends.”

Davis used 1960s-era Sears, JC Penney and Montgomery Ward catalogs, as well as Seventeen magazine, as a guide. She made hyper-feminine dresses in Easter egg shades, with floral prints, modest necklines and full skirts nipped at the waist.

“This is probably the most color I’ve ever used in my life,” said the designer, whose credits include “Dreamgirls” and “Ray.” “And it’s the first time I have not used a color palette for a film. Each of the women had her own story, her own home and her own color palette.”

Davis spent $15,000 on period accessories, including patent leather structured handbags with matching shoes, pearl choker necklaces and cluster earrings, cat’s eye sunglasses and garden party-festive hats.

 Davis, who is African American, said creating the costumes for the black maids had special meaning because her grandmother worked as domestic help in Louisiana during the same time period as the film’s. Read the full interview here.


Movie review: 'The Help'

'The Help' actresses talk roles, race and Hollywood

'Crazy, Stupid, Love': A fresh take on the male movie makeover

-- Julie Makinen

Photo: Viola Davis, standing at left, stars in "The Help" with Bryce Dalls Howard, center, Ahna O'Reilly, left, and Emma Stone, right. Credit: Dale Robinette / DreamWorks / MCT

Chastain felt too ‘nerdy’ to play ‘blond bombshell’ in ‘The Help’

August 4, 2011 |  4:36 pm

In "The Help," the big-screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel that hits theaters next week, Jessica Chastain plays pretty far against type.

The 30-year old actress -- up to now best known for her role opposite Brad Pitt in "The Tree of Life" -- is already garnering a reputation in Hollywood for her range. In the coming months, she'll appear in about half a dozen films where she plays everything from a Mossad agent to a woman whose husband is having apocalyptic visions.

But her role in "The Help" is quite unlike any Chastain has taken on before: She plays Celia Foote, a ditzy blond with cleavage constantly spilling out of her blouse who can't cook to save her life and speaks with an over-the-top Southern twang. But Stockett's book, which centers around a young white woman (Emma Stone) and her quest to tell the story of African American maids in 1960s Mississippi, is beloved by millions of fans -- something that Chastain says makes her anxious as the film is slated to debut Wednesday.

"I'm super worried, because I'm not the obvious choice to play Celia Foote," Chastain admitted Tuesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she was attending a charity luncheon held by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. "I'm not a blond bombshell. I'm, like, the nerdy redheaded girl. So there's a lot of pressure."

To get into the mind-set of the lighthearted blond, Chastain said she read "The Help" numerous times and even studied the voice inflection of Marilyn Monroe, whom she imagined to be similar to her character in the film.

Still, she's anxious about the fan reception to her performance.

"When I was making the movie, I would tell people -- you know, they'd say, 'Who are you playing?' And I'd say 'Celia Foote.' And they look at me, like, 'Whaat?' " she said, laughing. "I'm nervous about it. And next week I'll find out. I'm bringing my grandma and her three best friends to the premiere. She's gonna be honest with me. If I pass the grandma test, I'll be OK."


Sisters in spirit

'The Help' cast talks

Thumbs up or down for 'The Help' movie trailer?

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Jessica Chastain, left, stars with Octavia Spencer in "The Help." Credit: Dale Robinette/DreamWorks


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