Fox Searchlight via Everett Collection
Ever since the rumors started swirling several months ago, the Internet has been waiting impatiently for a Star Wars VII casting announcement that included Oscar winner and instant style icon Lupita Nyong'o. They finally got that wish on Monday morning, when StarWars.com revealed that she would be joining the cast along with Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie. The pair join an impressive cast for the latest installment of the franchise, with acclaimed actors like Oscar Isaac, Max Von Sydow and John Boyega all playing significant roles. However, when it comes to buzz, they all pale in comparison to Nyong'o, who has won over both critics and fans since her breakout performance last year in 12 Years a Slave.
Casting an Academy Award winner is a big deal for a major blockbuster like Episode VII, but Nyong'o is far from the first winner to journey to a galaxy far, far away. Since the first film was released in 1977, the Star Wars franchise has featured several Oscar winners and nominees on both sides of the camera, and seen several of its alum take home the award later on. In honor of Nyong'o's casting, we've rounded up all of the actors, writers, directors and editors who fall in the middle of the Venn Diagram of "Oscar winners and nominees" and "involved in the Star Wars universe."
Academy Award Wins
PRE-STAR WARS: -Nyong'o, who won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 12 Years a Slave at this year's awards, is the third actor who has taken home an Oscar before starring in one of the Star Wars films, and the fifth team member to hold the distinction. -Alec Guinness won Best Actor in 1957 for his work in The Bridge on the River Kwai, before he played everyone's favorite Jedi Master and mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi. He later earned an Oscar nomination for the part. -Composer John Williams, who has been nominated for a total of 49 Oscars, won his first for Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Score Song in 1971 for Fiddler on the Roof. Since then, he's won four more, including Best Original Score in 1977 for Star Wars. -Ben Burtt had established himself as a talented editor with two Best Sound Editing Oscars in 1982 and 1989 before he edited The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
POST-STAR WARS: -James Earl Jones, who provided the iconic voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films received an Honorary Oscar in 2011.-Natalie Portman won Best Actress for playing Nina Sayers in Black Swan in 2010, five years after her final installment of the trilogy was released. -Director Sofia Coppola played one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens in The Phantom Menace, and then went on to win Best Original Screenplay in 2003 for her film Lost in Translation. She was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture that year.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Academy Award Nominations
PRE-STAR WARS: -Before he created the franchise that eventually became Star Wars, George Lucas made American Graffitti, and was nominated for Best Director and Best original Screenplay in 1972 for his hard work. Five years later, he was nominated in those same categories for the first installment in the series. -Terence Stamp was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1962 for his work in the film Billy Budd, 30 years before he played Supreme Chancellor Valorum in The Phantom Menace. -His co-star in that film, Samuel L. Jackson, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1994 for his performances as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, a first of many iconic characters. -Marcia Lucas received an Oscar nomination in 1974 for Best Editing alongside Verna Fields for American Graffiti, before winning the same award three years later for Star Wars, with Richard Chew and Paul Hirsch. -Liam Neeson was nominated for Best Actor in 1993 for his heartbreaking performance in Schindler's List before stepping into the role of Obi Wan's mentor, Qui Gon Jinn in 1999.
POST-STAR WARS: -After he played Han Solo, Harrison Ford was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the 1985 film Witness. -Keira Knightley, who played one of Amidala's handmaidens in one of her first film roles, was nominated for Best Actress in 2005 for her turn as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice. -Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi with Lucas, was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 1984 and 1992 for The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, respectively, and Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture in 1989 for The Accidental Tourist.
Other Awards Of Note
-Three of the key supporting characters in Attack of the Clones were played by actors who were nominated or have won AFI and AACTA awards, the Australian equivalent of the Oscars and the BAFTAs. They are: Rose Byrne, Joel Edgerton, and Jack Thompson. -Ford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and C3PO, R2D2, and Darth Vader have their "footprints" outside of the TCL Chinese Theater. -Christopher Lee, who played Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith has never been nominated for an Oscar, but he has been knighted, made a Commander of Order of the British Empire and a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John, been awarded both the BAFTA and BFI Fellowships, and is a French Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. He was also a war hero, serving as part of the RAF Intelligence and Special Forces during World War II, and was attached to the SAS for a time during his service. He also once climbed Mt. Vesuvius right before it erupted and fronts several heavy metal bands, because he's cooler than the rest of us could ever hope to be.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
HOLLYWOOD SHOULD STOP MAKING HOLOCAUST MOVIES
If the recent release of The Monuments Men proves anything, it's that Hollywood should stop making Holocaust movies.
There's no denying that The Holocaust was a horrific event, and that we should make every effort to remind young generations that terrible tragedies can occur when individuals become corrupted by power. However, just as disturbing is Hollywood's endless need to exploit this tragedy for the pursuit of profit.
It was Theodor Adorno who once said, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Adorno's point is especially relevant when we consider the constant circulation of Holocaust movies like The Monuments Men. In order to understand the problem, it's important to realize that George Clooney and his co-stars are cashing in on this movie, as are the major Hollywood studies that produce it. Hollywood is a business after all, and we all know that there's no better way to attract moviegoers than to release another "important" story about the Holocaust. In this particular case, we follow a group of American soldiers who are sent to rescue artwork from the Nazis, because apparently artwork is more important than people.
There was a time when it was necessary for Hollywood to make Holocaust movies. Film is popular entertainment, and it has the potential to enlighten the masses about this brutal event in history. However, we already have Schindler's List (1993) and The Pianist (2002), and there are hundreds of excellent, important documentaries worth renting. What we don't need, and what Hollywood keeps giving us, is American movie stars like Clooney and Matt Damon engaging in witty banter through World War II rubble. We aren't going to benefit from Kate Winslet hanging herself at the end of the The Reader (2008). And we especially aren't going to be moved by Brad Pitt's collection of Nazi scalps in Inglorious Basterds (2009). It appears that Hollywood failed to understand that they were only supposed to make one or two important movies about the Holocaust. Instead, they've unleashed a genre.
Hollywood has made movie after movie about the Holocaust to the point where audiences become so distant from the real event that they only think about it in terms of cinematic conventions. Last year, for example, critics and audiences panned The Book Thief (2013) for being too "sappy" and "precious." And maybe it was, but we've gone too far if we're judging Holocaust movies by the same standards that we judge a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
The Holocaust was a horrific, brutal event, and we must remember and honor its victims. To do this, Hollywood must stop making Holocaust movies.
HOLLYWOOD SHOULDN'T STOP MAKING HOLOCAUST MOVIES
If the recent release of George Clooney's film The Monuments Men — based on Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History — proves anything, it’s that Hollywood can still create emotional and compelling films about the Holocaust.
Though World War II is a dark time in the world’s history that many would like to forget, we shouldn't. Of course, many fans of cinema will tell you that we have enough movies focusing on this period of time. Some might even say Hollywood should have stopped after creating Schindler’s List. However, the Holocaust will never stop being part of the world’s history, and Hollywood should never be told to stop creating films based on the subject.
History shouldn’t just be taught by school teachers or textbooks; history can be taught by survivors, by those choosing to tell the survivors' story. History can be learned through any medium whether it's a factual first account or a fictional retelling, like Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.
Perhaps some moviegoers see mentions of the Holocaust as cheap plays on sentimentality, but it also shouldn't be a topic Hollywood wholly avoids — especially in non-historical films. Two specific movies come to mind: The Avengers makes a brief allusion to the World War II and Magneto’s revenge story in X-Men: First Class deals with a survivor’s story — a very fictional survivor who can control metal with his mind, but still.
However, both these films are impactful in different ways. The scene in The Avengers that references the Holocaust is amazing. An old man stands up to Loki, who presumes to be Earth’s one true ruler, and tells him he is nothing special; there will always be men who wish to subjugate humankind and they will always be defeated. Similarly, Magneto’s storyline in X-Men gives the character agency so that he is not simply a one-dimensional victim archetype.
The fact that we can still be moved by the Holocaust — whether it’s in a superhero flick or a serious drama like The Monuments Men — is an important factor to respecting and immortalizing history. Holocaust films should not be disregarded simply because someone is tired of remembering something uncomfortable.
When you think of director Steven Spielberg, one of the most celebrated and prolific directors working today (he has two movies, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, currently in theaters), several landmark films leap immediately to mind—E.T., Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, just to name a few. These, however, represent merely the tip of the iceberg for Spielberg’s career. There are plenty of titles within his catalog, both as a director and a producer, that unfortunately are largely overshadowed by these tentpole films.
Here are a few of our favorites:
An everyday schlub is driving across a nameless American highway when he cuts off an eighteen-wheeler. Not a big deal, right? Happens all the time, right? Too bad for our motorist, that truck holds a grudge and what is initiated by this otherwise forgettable act of discourteous driving becomes a cross-country nightmare.
Duel was one of Spielberg’s very first directing jobs. This made for TV movie, based on a story by the legendary Richard Matheson, showcases Spielberg’s ability to create suspense and theatricality out of almost nothing. The fact that we never see the driver of the truck makes it seem sentient, a machine with a vendetta and a mean streak. In fact, if you pay attention to the framing of certain shots, you could make the argument that Duel was sort of his audition for Jaws.
*batteries not included (Produced)
Moving now to one of Spielberg’s producing credits, 1987’s *batteries not included tells the story of a group of tenants who refuse to leave their apartment building, which is scheduled for demolition. A greedy land developer sends gang members to try and intimidate them into leaving. Just when all hope seems lost, the tenants receive some unexpected help from above.
What’s so great about *batteries not included is how it takes a great sci-fi concept, the arrival of tiny clockwork robot aliens, and frames it within an extremely down-to-Earth context. The mixture of practical and computer-generated effects is also quite impressive.
We are all well aware of Spielberg’s artistic interest in Word War II. As a director, he’s given us Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, and he has produced the groundbreaking television series Band of Brothers and The Pacific. But in 1979, his first tackling of the subject was approached from a much more irreverent angle. 1941 spins a whacky tale about how California residents prepared for what they felt was an imminent Japanese invasion post Pearl Harbor. The film, co-written by Robert Zemeckis, is an absurd mix of satire and high-flying slapstick featuring an all-star cast of comedy giants.
Director Joe Dante has collaborated with Steven Spielberg on multiple occasions. The two were among the four directors, along with John Landis and George Miller, who helmed the four segments of 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie. Spielberg also produced a number of Dante’s films, including 1987’s Innerspace. The film is about a scientist who is miniaturized, along with his specially designed craft, and accidentally injected into a goofy store clerk. The film seamlessly blends science fiction and screwball comedy in a way that is impossible not to enjoy. Martin Short is a riot as the ill-fated clerk.
One of the great things about Spielberg as a producer is that he chooses a wide array of projects. You may think the idea of seeking out an animated series from the mid-90s, especially as an adult, is a bit juvenile, but the Spielberg-produced Animaniacs is a show that is just as much for adults as it is for kids. Animaniacs routinely makes reference to, and mercilessly lampoons, everyone from politicians to classic Hollywood stars. Broken into various segments, the show features an array characters, including a group of pigeons who are direct parodies of the three principal characters from Goodfellas as well as a super-intelligent mouse modeled after Orson Welles. The silliness of Animaniacs may have the kiddies guffawing, but the clever writing and deep well of references makes for a far more grownup cartoon.
Top Story: China Wants Britney To Cover Up
Pop princess Britney Spears, who is set to perform five concerts in Shanghai and Beijing sometime next year on a world tour to promote her album In the Zone, may have to make a few wardrobe adjustments for her first tour in China. The Associated Press reported Tuesday officials from the country's Culture Ministry want to know what Spears will be wearing before she hits the stage on her Onyx Hotel Tour because of concerns the singer may be revealing too much skin. The official China News Service quoted a spokesman for the concert's Chinese organizers as saying the ministry's wishes would be respected, but added that Spears' outfits and stage show are the same at each tour stop and it would be "impossible to make up clothes specially for the China performances." It was not clear, however, what standards inspectors will use or how they would be enforced. The Onyx Hotel Tour, which promises sexually charged choreography, flashy stage sets and plenty of cleavage and midriff-baring costumes, kicks off in Dublin on June 3.
Lions Gate, IFC To Distribute Fahrenheit 9/11
Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and IFC Films have stepped in to distribute director Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which examines the link between President George W. Bush and the family of Osama bin Laden. The Fahrenheit 9/11 controversy started last month when Moore announced the Walt Disney Co. blocked its Miramax Films unit from distributing the pic, arguing that the studio claimed it was too politically charged. But Miramax's co-chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein cut a deal with Disney last week to buy back the film rights, giving them the freedom to look for another distributor. In a statement announcing the distribution deal, Moore took a swipe at Disney, thanking Lions Gate and IFC for "bringing good family entertainment" to audiences. Fahrenheit 9/11 opens in U.S. theaters June 25.
Howard Stern Says His Radio Days Are Numbered
Shock jock Howard Stern warned listeners that the abrupt resignation of Mel Karmazin as president of Viacom, Inc., means his radio days are numbered. Karmazin, who hired Stern in the mid-1980s after the radio host was fired by WNBC in New York, helped transform his show into a national broadcast sensation. Stern also credits Karmazin with persistently defending his show against attacks from federal regulators. "This is definitely the nail in my coffin," Stern said Tuesday as he opened his nationally syndicated morning show. "If NBC was a concentration camp, then Mel was my Schindler." But a key executive at Viacom, newly named co-president Leslie Moonves, told the AP he intends to keep Stern and his radio show, which is currently carried on about 30 radio stations around the country.
P. Diddy Won't Have to Pay
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned a civil judgment ordering rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to pay $450,000 to a man who claimed he was beaten by the rapper's bodyguards, the AP reports. Limousine driver Cedrick Bobby Lemon filed a lawsuit in June 1995 claiming bodyguards Combs had hired punched him in the head and back while he stood backstage at a Mary J. Blige concert in Winston-Salem. Combs was Blige's manager at the time. The suit cited Combs as negligent because he failed to properly train the bodyguards for their duties. At the time, Lemon was awarded a default judgment because Combs had failed to respond to the complaint within the time limit required by law. But the court overturned the ruling yesterday after it determined Lemon did not meet certain other requirements.
Another Osbourne Out of Rehab
Youngest Osbourne daughter Kelly is out of rehab and back in the studio recording her next album, her mother, Sharon Osbourne, told MTV.com. "She's doing great," the Osbourne matriarch said. "She's finishing up her album with [songwriter/producer] Linda Perry. They're still in the studio; she finishes in about a week. And she's in a new show on ABC [the drama Life As We Know It], so she's very busy right now." Kelly voluntarily checked herself into a rehab clinic April 2 to help combat an addiction to painkillers.
Producer Kelley Jumps on Reality Bandwagon
Once an outspoken opponent of "reality" television, TV producer David E. Kelley, best known for the NBC drama The Practice, has succumbed to the genre's popularity and developed a drama featuring real lawyers. According to Variety, the show will revolve around a law firm whose members will try real civil cases through binding arbitration overseen by current or former judges. Lawyers will be fired along the way, leaving an eventual winner.
Australian Crowned Miss Universe
Australian Jennifer Hawkins was named Miss Universe 2004 in a two-hour pageant Tuesday night in Quito, Ecuador, the AP reports. According to pageant organizers, 1.5 billion television viewers in 180 countries watched the finals. Hawkins, 20, arrived at a post-pageant news conference with Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe parent organization. "I want to present to you the new Miss Universe. She's spectacular," Trump said. "Jennifer is the most beautiful Miss Universe I have seen in many, many years." Of the 80 beauty queens who participated in the competition, 15 semifinalists were chosen after a preliminary bathing suit and evening gown showdown Thursday. The group was later reduced to 10 before the five finalists were named. The panel of judges included Emilio Estefan, Bo Derek and supermodel Petra Nemcova.
Joe Torre Wants Athletes To Change Attitudes Toward Women
New York Yankees manager Joe Torre joined hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and business leaders Tuesday at a Manhattan theater where the Family Violence Prevention Fund asked men to sign a declaration opposing violence against women and children, the AP reports. Torre, who has spoken out in the past about growing up in an abusive household, said coaches and managers need to do more to foster healthy attitudes toward women among athletes. "You tell them to be aggressive, go out there and beat somebody up, go out there and win a ballgame, and unfortunately when they go out on a date that night they don't take 'no' for an answer," he said. The Founding Fathers campaign is running a PSA and will take out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Father's Day, June 20.
Role Call, Part I: Gibson's Tackles a Warrior Queen
After surviving the