American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and August: Osage County have been named the early frontrunners for next year's (14) Best Picture Oscar by America's top movie critics. Respected experts like Thom Geier, Tariq Khan, Peter Travers and Thelma Adams have offered up their opinions on the favourites in awards news website GoldDerby.com's first Oscars countdown odds of the year.
David O. Russell's 1970s period film American Hustle leads the way with 9/2 odds, closely followed by Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's latest collaboration, The Wolf of Wall Street.
Meryl Streep's latest August: Osage County comes in third, while the Coen Brothers' folk music film Inside Llewyn Davis and George Clooney and Matt Damon's The Monuments Men also make the top five.
Russell is the early favourite for the Best Director award, while Robert Redford leads the way in the Best Actor category for his high seas drama All is Lost, and Cate Blanchett is the clear leader in the Best Actress stakes for her portrayal as "a tarnished trophy wife" in Woody Allen's new drama Blue Jasmine.
The Oscar nominations will be announced in January (14) and the awards ceremony will be hosted by comedienne Ellen DeGeneres in Hollywood on 2 March (14).
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Now this teaser is such a tease that we don't even know what it's teasing! Sounds just like J.J. Abrams, right? The Star Trek and soon to be Star Wars director released the above video, simply titled "Stranger" earlier today on the official Bad Robot YouTube channel. The black-and-white clip shows a man falling into the crashing surf while portentous narration says, "He arrived knowing nothing of himself. Who is he? Soon he will know. Because what begins at the water shall end there. And what ends there shall once more begin. This is what happens when we become lost...and banished...and are erased...and reborn."
So, yeah, a lot of pseudo-profound blather. But as transparently manipulative as this clip is, our response is probably exactly what he wants: sure, J.J., we’ll play. Here are five theories as to what gestating project this could be a trailer for, and, oh, rest assured, both Star Trek and Star Wars will be among them.
1. It’s a Tease for Abrams’ novel with Doug Dorst called S. , out Oct. 29.
Publisher Mulholland Books lists this as the official description: “At the core of this multilayered literary puzzle of love and adventure is a book of mysterious provenance. In the margins, another tale unfolds—through the hand-scribbled notes, questions, and confrontations of two readers. Between the pages, online, and in the real world, you’ll find evidence of their interaction, ephemera that bring this tale vividly to life.”
All of which is to say that S. is a multimedia experience more than it is a stand-alone novel. It also sounds strange. Or shall we say, stranger. We’re so focused on the idea of “stranger” as a noun because of that mysterious surf-tossed figure that we forget it might be used here as a comparative adjective instead. That doesn’t mean that the figure in question is unimportant. The clip even ends with the text “Soon he will know,” but I don’t think this person is necessarily a “stranger.”
2. It’s a Promo for Believe,the NBC Drama He’s Developed with Alfonso Cuaron for Midseason 2014 — The rather trippy premise of the series is that a girl with supernatural powers is raised under the protection of a mystical group called the “True Believers” and they even bust a death row inmate out of prison to serve as her guardian. Maybe this is right after he’s been freed?
3. It’s Our First Glimpse of Star Wars Episode VII! — Okay, the fact that the video obviously features some of Michael Giacchino’s trademark piano chords should dispel this notion, since John Williams is attached to score Episode VII. But what if this really is our first live-action glimpse of that Galaxy Far, Far Away since Revenge of the Sith? Maybe the dude with his mouth sewn shut is some freaky new Dark Side warrior and the castaway stumbling in the surf is a Jedi exile trying to find himself. Ooh, or maybe the surf dude is a survivor of the Second Death Star’s explosion who finds himself having crash landed by one of the Forest Moon of Endor’s seas and now he’s menaced by a really scary member of those forest-dwelling witches from those ‘80s Ewoks movies!
4. It’s a Tease for the Next Star Trek Movie (Or at least an Into Darkness DVD feature) — Maybe after Khan was put back into cryofreeze at the end of Into Darkness he and his crew were launched back into space only to crash into the ocean of some alien world, and this is him moments after finally reaching shore. The sewn-lips people will be his new followers who he’ll lead into battle as the ultimate weapon of revenge against Kirk.
5. J.J. Abrams Has Finally Decided to Adapt Albert Camus’ L’Etranger, a.k.a. The Stranger — The French existentialist’s novel about a man who’s convicted and sent to the guillotine for shooting an Arab not because of the evidence but because he didn’t properly mourn his mother’s death seems ripe for a J.J. Abrams adaptation. It’s about a man tossed about by fate and other absurdist forces beyond his control, who’s also capable of great violence, much like the characters on Lost. And like in this clip, the pivotal moment in The Stranger occurs on a seashore. Indian Naveen Andrews played an Arab on Lost, he can here too! It all makes…oh, who are we kidding. J.J.’s probably never even heard of Albert Camus.
Or it’s a tease for our long-awaited Jacob origin story Lost spin-off series! Just what all of us are dying to see.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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Bat For Lashes star Natasha Khan fears the music industry has been over-run with drugs and alcohol amid a culture of "self-destruction" among young male musicians. The singer fears many men in the industry embrace the dark side of the music industry as it makes them feel like they are "cool" and "rock 'n' roll", and female stars end up in trouble when they follow suit.
Khan is convinced there should be more protection for women when they are starting out.
She tells Britain's The Times, "I met Elly Jackson from La Roux the other day and we were chatting about how there has been an upsurge in female artists recently, but how, when you get a manager, they don't say, 'These are the things you need to do to support yourself so don't go mad'. That if you drink loads of alcohol before a show it will f**k you up... Health-wise, I've been in dodgy places because I've pushed myself too hard."
She adds of her male contemporaries, "They don't eat. They don't sleep... There's that narrative of self-destruction, which boys love to do. There's a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs and I'm not really interested in them."
Khan insists she has even turned down the chance to work with certain people in the industry because of their bad habits: "There have been times when I've made choices not to work with people like that. I don't really want to surround myself with lost people, and unfortunately, in the music industry, that's the majority. That might sound stuck-up... but it's not when it's your job. You wouldn't expect to go to hospital and have drunk nurses doing bad jobs... and then go 'It's OK, it's cool, it's rock 'n' roll'... because it's not... It's just... boring."
Bat For Lashes star Natasha Khan called Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke when her hectic work schedule and mounting personal problems left her on the verge of a meltdown. The singer was seriously fatigued and suffering from writer's block when she was first attempting to record her 2012 album The Haunted Man, and she admits a personal crisis left her on the brink of quitting.
She called Yorke for help after previously growing close to the singer on a tour with Radiohead, and he told her to take a break to clear her head, according to Britain's The Times.
Khan tells the publication, "I'd been touring and living this very different lifestyle for a while. In my personal life I'd had this really... bad news... and suddenly I was on my own, thinking, 'I want to make this record, but I don't know how to do it'."
The star goes on to insist taking a break from work to indulge in "quietude and reflection" did her good.
She adds, "In my relationships with my family, with lovers, whatever, there were fewer swings and extremes."
Music mogul Clive Davis and R&B singer Dionne Warwick are set to share their memories of late superstar Whitney Houston in a U.S. satellite radio special on Friday (09Aug13) to mark what would have been her 50th birthday. Bosses at Sirius XM Radio station Heart & Soul are broadcasting a day-long special to honour the I Will Always Love You hitmaker, with contributions coming from family and friends of the music icon, including her longtime producer Davis, cousin Warwick and Houston's gospel artist mother Cissy.
Singers R. Kelly, Chaka Khan, CeCe Winans and Valerie Simpson have also recorded tributes for the special programme.
Fans have been invited to mark the big day on Houston's official website and via Twitter.com, using the hashtag #celebratingwhitneyhouston.
Houston died from a drug overdose in a Beverly Hills hotel suite on 11 February, 2012.
Soul icon Chaka Khan has reached out to troubled actress Lindsay Lohan to commend the young star on her recent rehab stint. The Mean Girls star left the Cliffside Malibu Rehab Center in California last week (30Jul13) after completing a court-ordered 90-day program in lieu of jail time after pleading no contest to charges relating to a car crash last summer (12).
The actress will now continue her treatment with three therapy meetings a week, and the I'm Every Woman hitmaker, who has struggled with alcoholism in the past, has praised Lohan for her new-found sobriety.
In a post on her website she writes, "To choose to do what is necessary to better one's self is commendable. I applaud Lindsay Lohan for doing the work. She is a lovely young lady and I pray for her well-being."
Khan goes on to suggest she was also in rehab recently to combat a dependence on prescription medication, adding, "The battle of addiction is a serious and long process, which is why I chose to address my use of prescription medications - which came about as a result of the knee surgery I had a few years ago.
"When and if necessary, I will seek alternative methods and traditional treatment to stay ahead of any potential problem. So many are not here today, and have lost this battle with addiction. Because these medications are legal, their abuse is often unknown-until it's too late. If not handled they are a silent killer."
Clearly touched by the message of support, Lohan took to her Twitter.com page to write, "(Chaka Khan) sending you love and hugs!" to which the singer replied, "Ain't Nobody" gonna tear (our) love apart... I love you more sweetie!"
Unconfirmed online reports suggest Khan attended the same rehab facility as Lohan.
Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf has been granted permission to move from the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza to the West Bank in Israel. The 23 year old, who won the TV talent show in June (13), has lived in the facility since he was four, but now, thanks partly to his success on the programme, he, his sister, brother-in-law and the couple's three children have been given approval to relocate after a request was made by the Palestinian Authority.
Assaf was the first Palestinian to win the competition, making him a national hero and earning him the title of honorary ambassador from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas In June (13).
United Nations officials also made Assaf a youth ambassador.
With the relocation, Assaf will now be able to travel freely.
Mark Wahlberg has purchased a stake in a Caribbean cricket team after discovering a newfound love of the sport. The Fighter star has invested in Limacol Caribbean Premier League's (LCPL) Barbados Tridents team after its chairman Ajmal Khan introduced him to cricket.
A statement issued by the Hollywood actor reads, "I'm excited to be a part of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League because I know cricket is huge in the Caribbean and a rich part of the region's heritage.
"Sports and entertainment are a powerful combination, and the LCPL will appeal to a huge audience worldwide. Thanks to my dear friend Ajmal Khan who introduced me to Barbados and the LCPL, I am a huge cricket fan now. "
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has cancelled a work trip to London over visa issues, according to reports in India. The actor was due to fly to the British capital to take part in a movie shoot, but The Times of India reports his visa was unexpectedly cancelled without explanation and he has been unable to make the trip.
The publication reports the star may launch a fresh bid for a U.K. work visa next week (beg05Aug13).
The news comes just over a week after Khan appeared in court in Mumbai to plead not guilty to a homicide charge stemming from a hit-and-run case more than 10 years ago.
Khan, 47, is accused of hitting five people with his car outside a bakery in Bandra in 2002, killing one man and injuring the other four. He is due back in court on 19 August (13).
Shakira has emerged victorious in her legal war with an ex-boyfriend after his multi-million dollar lawsuit against her was dismissed. The Colombian superstar has been embroiled in a bitter battle with Antonio de la Rua since he sued her last year (12), arguing he is entitled to a share of her massive fortune for reportedly acting as her manager and helping to negotiate lucrative contracts during their 10 years together.
He cited an oral agreement between the former couple as grounds for his claim, but his allegations were shut down on Thursday (01Aug13) when a judge ruled the case should not be heard in Los Angeles.
De la Rua had previously attempted to bring his claims to courts in New York and Switzerland, but those actions were also dismissed.
The Hips Don't Lie singer, who has since moved on with Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique, the father of her baby son Milan, has released a statement expressing her relief, insisting, "I am very grateful that the courts are not allowing these groundless lawsuits to proceed. I have moved on in my life and could not be happier now. I hope this harassment will now come to an end."
In his ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Abraham Khan insisted the matter should be heard in Shakira's native Colombia or the Bahamas, where she claims residency.
A statement from de la Rua's attorney William T. Reid IV suggests his client will not drop the fight: "This is a classic case of you can run, but you can't hide. Eventually, Ms. Mebarak (Shakira) will have to respond to his claims because she will run out of procedural arguments and delay tactics."