Director Sofia Coppola and actress Laura Linney were the toast of the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards on Wednesday (12Jun13) as they were honoured for their career achievements. The Lost in Translation filmmaker was presented with the Dorothy Arzner Directors Award for capturing the female spirit in her work, while Mystic River star Linney received the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film.
The female cast of Mad Men - Christina Hendricks, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Jessica Pare and child star Kiernan Shipka - picked up the Lucy Award for Excellence in Television, and True Grit actress Hailee Steinfeld was recognised as the Face of the Future.
Star Wars legend George Lucas was the lone male honouree, receiving the Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award for his philanthropy efforts from the new head of his Lucasfilm company, Kathleen Kennedy, and actress Carrie Fisher, who portrayed Princess Leia in the sci-fi franchise, paid tribute to the movie mogul in a pre-recorded video, thanking him for creating a strong female character women and girls could look up to.
During his acceptance speech at the Los Angeles ceremony, Lucas acknowledged the importance of women in both his work and personal life, and admitted he had "turned" his "whole life over to" Kennedy by giving her the keys to his business.
Actress Renee Zellweger was honored with the Crystal Award at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards last Thursday.
The Oscar-winning star was presented with the prize at the Beverly Hills event by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
An emotional Zellweger told the Beverly Hilton Hotel audience, "I didn't expect this to be such an emotional experience. Now my fake eyelashes are going to fall off."
Something's Gotta Give director Nancy Meyers picked up the Dorothy Arzner Award, and Steven Spielberg presented his longtime producer Kathleen Kennedy with the Paltrow Mentorship Award, in honor of Gwyneth Paltrow's late producer father Bruce.
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Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's bestselling book of the same name Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the dusty West Texas town of Odessa where nothing much happens until September rolls around. That's when the town's 20 000 or so denizens pour into Ratliff Stadium the country's biggest high school football field every Friday night to watch the Permian Panthers Odessa's "boys in black " take to the field. All the town's hope and dreams are pinned on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes--including insecure quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black); cocky self-assured running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke); headstrong self-destructive tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) who must contend with an overbearing abusive dad (Tim McGraw--yes that Tim McGraw the country singer); and the team's spiritual leader middle linebacker Ivory Christian (newcomer Lee Jackson). The Panthers begin their season with one thing on their minds--winning their fifth straight championship for the first time in the team's 30-year history--but for their coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) it also means instilling a love and joy of the game in the boys' hearts amidst tremendous pressures and expectations. Easier said than done.
There isn't a false note in any of the performances and no one falls back on clichéd versions of their characters as is so easy to do in rah-rah sports movies. Thornton does a particularly good job as Gaines keeping you guessing whether he's going to be a hardass insensitive to his players' emotional needs (like so many movie football coaches before him) or if he truly means to coach his boys in a fair and decent way. Gaines too has to deal with his own pressures especially from the townsfolk who are likely to string him up if the team loses the championship. As for Gaines' players Black (the oh-so-serious kid from Thornton's Sling Blade) is all grown up and buffed out and still very serious. It works for the young actor though as the beleaguered Winchell struggles with the love-hate relationship he has with his chosen sport. Other standouts include Luke (Antwone Fisher) as the star player Boobie whose cocksureness leads him to an injury; Hedlund as the volatile Billingsley trying desperately to please his father; and McGraw making his film debut as the father a former Permian Panther champion who sure hasn't given up his competitive spirit basically beating it into his son. First Faith Hill (McGraw's real-life wife) in The Stepford Wives and now McGraw--who knew country singers could act?
From All the Right Moves to Varsity Blues to Remember the Titans Friday Night Lights unfortunately doesn't completely distinguish itself from the pack of football movies before it--like those this is all about how the young players--be they underdogs second-string nobodies or stars--rising above the mounting pressure and playing the best they can bless their hearts. Still there's no question the sports genre--particularly football--always gets the juices pumping with FNL being no exception. It might have something to do with our sick fascination with watching bone-crunching hits and body-punishing tackles. It's dangerous out there for these guys; no other sport (besides maybe hockey) can elicit such wince-inducing emotion and actor/director Peter Berg (The Rundown) exploits that. Obviously influenced by Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday Berg effectively paints his own gritty documentary-style picture of the competitive sport without relying on too many trite gushy over-the-top moments. And to give it credit the film does not necessarily have a feel-good "let's win one for the Gipper" ending; it is based on a true story after all and as we know real life isn't all sunshine and roses especially in the bloodthirsty world of Texas high school football.
Herbert Ross, a choreographer and the director of many Oscar-caliber films including The Goodbye Girl and The Turning Point, died Tuesday. He was 74.
The cause of death is not known, but he had been hospitalized for the past three months, Barbara Wrede, media relations manager for Lenox Hill Hospital told the Associated Press.
Ross began his career as a choreographer on Broadway but got into film when he choreographed the musical sequences in the 1954 Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge. His first major film as a director was Goodbye, Mr. Chips in 1969 with Peter O'Toole.
Ross' virtuosity as a director became clear in the 1970s, when he began a longtime collaboration with playwright Neil Simon, directing Simon's The Sunshine Boys, California Suite and the The Goodbye Girl, which won Richard Dreyfuss the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also directed Woody Allen's hilarious Play It Again Sam and Barbra Streisand's The Owl and the Pussycat.
In 1977, Ross put on his dancing shoes once again and directed his classic The Turning Point, a study of the ballet world, starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, and received his only Academy Award nominations--for Best Director and Best Picture.
In the 1980s and 90s, he turned out critical and box office success such as The Secret of My Success with Michael J. Fox, Footloose with Kevin Bacon and Steel Magnolias with Sally Field and Julia Roberts.
Ross' first wife, prima ballerina Nora Kaye, died of cancer in 1987. In 1989, he married Lee Radziwill, the sister of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. They divorced in 1999.