Oscar-nominated civil rights drama Selma and U.S. TV comedy Black-Ish were among the big winners at the 2015 NAACP Image Awards on Friday (06Feb15). The Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic earned director Ava DuVernay the Outstanding Motion Picture prize, while her leading man David Oyelowo took home the best actor honour at the Los Angeles ceremony.
There were also prizes for Selma supporting actors Common and Carmen Ejogo, who portrayed King, Jr.'s wife, Coretta.
Taraji P. Henson was a double winner, walking away as best movie actress for thriller No Good Deed and earning the Entertainer of the Year title.
In the TV categories, Black-ish dominated the comedy section, with event host Anthony Anderson and his onscreen wife Tracee Ellis Ross scoring the top acting accolades, while co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Yara Shahidi won the supporting honours. The programme was also named Outstanding Comedy Series.
Shonda Rhimes' hit shows also emerged victorious, with How to Get Away with Murder landing Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for Viola Davis, and Scandal's Joe Morton and Khandi Alexander earning the supporting acting titles.
Meanwhile, in the music categories, Pharrell Williams was named Outstanding Male Artist and Beyonce took home the female equivalent, as Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige claimed the Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration prize for their hit song Stay With Me.
John Legend's You & I (Nobody in the World) was awarded Outstanding Music Video and new mum Alicia Keys scored Outstanding Song for We Are Here.
Music mogul Clive Davis received the Vanguard Award, in recognition of his work regarding racial and social issues and director Spike Lee was presented with the NAACP President's Award, which celebrates those who have combined career success and public service.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards celebrates diversity in film, TV, music and literature.
Brad Pitt amused attendees at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Saturday night (03Jan15) by breaking into an impromptu song to teach fans and critics alike how to properly pronounce David Oyelowo's name. The Hollywood superstar helped to produce Oyelowo's new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic, Selma, through his Plan B Productions company, and he took it upon himself at the California event to teach others how to say the British actor's Nigerian last name.
Before introducing the Lee Daniels' The Butler star to the stage to present him with the Breakthrough Performance Award (Male), Pitt said, "I know that there is one lingering question in the back of your minds and that question is, how the hell do you pronounce his name? It's all right, I've been there, and I'm here to help."
He proceeded to lead the crowd in a sing-along pronunciation of Oyelowo's name to the tune of popular soccer chant, Ole, Ole, Ole.
Turning serious, he then hailed Oyelowo as "a man whose name will one day be synonymous with (Sidney) Poitier and (Sir Laurence) Olivier."
As a flattered Oyelowo stepped up to the platform to accept his prize, he quipped, "You know you've 'broken through' when Brad Pitt sings your name!"
The ceremony also featured touching tributes from Shirley MacLaine, who presented Boyhood director Richard Linklater with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award, while Laura Dern was on hand to honour Reese Witherspoon with the Chairman's Award, and Robert Downey, Jr. celebrated the career of his The Judge co-star and Icon Award recipient Robert Duvall, who was so moved by the honour, he struggled to fight back tears.
Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma leads the film nominations at the 2015 NAACP Image Awards after racking up eight nods. Ava DuVernay's civil rights drama is shortlisted for Outstanding Motion Picture, alongside Belle, Beyond The Lights, Dear White People and James Brown biopic Get On Up, while the filmmaker will compete for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture.
There were also a string of acting nods for Selma's leading man David Oyelowo (Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture), and supporting stars Andre Holland, Common, Wendell Pierce, Carmen Ejogo and Oprah Winfrey.
In the TV categories, six-time nominee Scandal is up for Outstanding Drama Series, facing off against two other Shonda Rhimes creations, Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder, and Being Mary Jane and House of Cards, while drama acting nods went to Scandal's Kerry Washington and Guillermo Diaz, LL Cool J (NCIS: Los Angeles), Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire) and Jada Pinkett Smith (Gotham).
Black-ish, House of Lies and Orange Is the New Black are among the nominees for Outstanding Comedy, while Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Laurence Fishburne (Black-ish), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) have been recognised for their comedic acting talents.
Meanwhile, Beyonce and Pharrell Williams have emerged as the ones to beat in the music categories with four nods a piece, just days after both garnering six Grammy Awards nominations on Friday (05Dec14).
Beyonce is in the running for Outstanding Female Artist, Outstanding Music Video and Song for Pretty Hurts, while Pharrell will be fighting for Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration for Brand New with Justin Timberlake, and Gust of Wind with Daft Punk. They will both compete for Outstanding Album with respective releases Beyonce and GIRL.
Late King of Pop Michael Jackson has also earned posthumous nods for Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Music Video for Love Never Felt So Good with Justin Timberlake.
The winners of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards, which celebrate diversity in film, TV, music and literature, will be unveiled at a ceremony on 6 February (15).
Black-ish is ABC's newest family-oriented sitcom and people are calling it, "the best show about a modern family, since well, you know...". But it's really not anything like Modern Family. It's an entirely different family, with their own dynamic. It's honest, funny, goofy, and just really great television. It's a show we feel like we've been waiting years for and we think you'll agree.
1. Black-ish has introduced us to the smart-lazy hero, Andre "Dre" Johnson:
2. And his smarter-and-sassier-than-everyone daughter Diane:
3. Then there's Zoey, who holds her own as the family's coolest member:
4. This show has no problem tackling real-life circumstances that we might feel awkward discussing:
5. Dre and his wife Rainbow (Bo) have very different parenting styles, and that works well for them:
6. The show is not afraid to take friendly pokes at race:
7. It also calls out the fact that people are trying to change what Urban means:
8. Really, all races and stereotypes are on the table to be mocked equally:
9. Dre's dad, Pops, is the hilarious, way-too-honest grandfather we all wish we had:
10. They explain the importance of "the nod":
"So no matter who you are or where you're at, it's your duty to give“the nod.” Even in the most extreme of circumstances, we always found a way to let each other know, “I see you, bruh.”"
11. They tackle the ridiculous things teenagers want, like Junior's unusual request for a non-Jewish person:
12. Dre and Junior try to navigate the father-son talk:
13. Dre teaches everyone, if you didn't already know, the wrong way to get your kids some friends:
14. This show proves that the family that dances together, stays together:
15. Also, that same motto applies to Halloween:
It's only 6 episodes into the first season, but we're already hooked. It has clever writing, a wonderfully talented cast that ranges in all ages, and it's a show that is not afraid to put everything out there. Black-ish airs on ABC, Wednesday nights at 9:30.
Have you tuned into Black-ish yet? Tweet us why you love the show!
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Martin Freeman's stage turn as Richard Iii has divided critics, with reviewers branding the actor's performance "highly intelligent" but "disappointingly underpowered". The Hobbit star takes on the role of William Shakespeare's villainous king in a new production at London's Trafalgar Studios theatre which opened on Wednesday night (09Jul14).
The production had previously been hit with reports suggesting overzealous Freeman fans had been creating a distraction by whooping and cheering throughout the show, but critics reported the audience on press night was well behaved.
However, many theatre reviewers were underwhelmed by the show, with Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper calling the production "unnecessarily complicated" and insisting Freeman's turn in the title role was "disappointingly underpowered", adding, "There were moments when your reviewer was tempted to stand up and boo."
The Guardian's Michael Billington calls Freeman's performance "highly accomplished" but insists the staging of the play "doesn't make total sense", while The Independent's Paul Taylor adds, "Freeman gives a highly intelligent, calculatedly understated performance... (but) Freeman doesn't radiate a sufficiently dangerous sense of unpredictability."
However, Ben Dowell of the Radio Times was full of praise for The Office star, writing, "Freeman does not disappoint... (His) talent lies in creating something frighteningly ordinary about his villainy."
Freeman follows in the footsteps of stars including Laurence Olivier, Sir Alec Guinness, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Sir Ian McKellen, who have all played the murderous king on the stage.
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch is heading back to the stage to play villainous king Richard Iii in a new Shakespeare adaptation for the BBC. The Sherlock star will join the likes of Al Pacino, Laurence Olivier and Sir Ian McKellen, who have portrayed the English monarch on screen when he takes part in the BBC Two adaptation, directed by Dominic Cooke.
Cumberbatch has another Shakespeare role line up for this summer - he will portray the title character in a new adaptation of Hamlet, which will be staged in London in August (14).
Ironically, the actor's Sherlock sidekick Martin Freeman is to play Richard III in the West End later this year (14).
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Actor/director Rob Reiner will be the 2014 recipient of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Chaplin Award. The When Harry Met Sally director will be the guest of honour at the 41st gala in New York in April (14). Previous recipients include Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Elizabeth Taylor, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Last year (13), Barbra Streisand was honoured.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Veteran rocker Eric Clapton sent a poignant message to be read out at the funeral of his friend and former roommate Martin Sharp in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday (10Dec13). The Australian artist, who lived with Clapton in London in the 1960s, passed away on 1 December (13) at the age of 71, and he was remembered at a funeral in his hometown Down Under.
The memorial service at Christ Church St Laurence was filled with sunflowers to represent Sharp's love of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, and it attracted stars including Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes and filmmaker Philippe Mora, who read out a message from his friend Clapton.
It read: "Thank you for your friendship and inspiration and for just being you... I'll miss you my friend."