Watts' role in Mother and Child has landed her a place on the shortlist for the International Award For Best Actress along with Toni Collette, Edge of Darkness' Bojana Novakovic and Alice In Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska.
Worthington is competing for the International Award for Best Male for his role in blockbuster Avatar, going up against Simon Baker, Ryan Kwanten and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
Other stars nominated for prizes at the upcoming ceremony include Clive Owen, who is up for the AFI Award For Best Lead Actor for his role in The Boys Are Back, alongside contenders Ben Mendelsohn, James Frecheville and Brendan Cowell.
Abbie Cornish has received a nod for the AFI Award For Best Lead Actress and The Hurt Locker's Guy Pearce is heading the nominations for the Best Supporting Actor trophy.
Movie Animal Kingdom tops the nominations board with a record 18 category listings, Beneath Hill 60 is up for 12 awards and Jane Campion's Bright Star will compete for 11 prizes.
The ceremony is due to take place on 10 and 11 December (10) in Melbourne, Australia.
Making an earnest cinematic argument for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife without delving into mushy sentimentality is a difficult task for even the most gifted and “serious” of filmmakers. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson discovered as much last year when his sappy grandiose adaptation of the ethereal bestseller The Lovely Bones opened to scathing reviews. Critics by and large tend to bristle at movie renderings of what may or may not await them in that Great Arthouse in the Sky.
And yet filmmakers seem determined to keep trying. The latest to make the attempt is Clint Eastwood who throughout his celebrated directorial career has certainly demonstrated a firm grasp of the death part of the equation. His filmography with a few notable exceptions practically revels in it: of his recent oeuvre Invictus is the only work that doesn’t deal with mortality in some significant manner. With his new film Hereafter Eastwood hopes to add immortality to his thematic resume.
The film's narrative centers on three characters each of whom has intimate experience with death and loss. Their stories in true Eastwood fashion can ostensibly be labeled Sad Sadder and Saddest: Marie (Cecile de France) is a French TV news anchor who’s haunted by disturbing flashbacks after she loses consciousness — and briefly her life — during a natural disaster; George (Matt Damon looking credibly schlubby) is a former psychic whose skills as a medium are so potent (the slightest touch from another human being triggers an instant powerful psychic connection a la Rogue from X-Men) they’ve left him isolated and alone; Marcus is a London schoolboy who retreats into a somber shell after losing his twin brother in a tragic car accident (both brothers are played rather impressibly by real-life twins Frankie and George McLaren).
Humanity offers little help to these troubled souls surrounding them with skeptics charlatans users and deadbeats none of whom are particularly helpful with crises of an existential nature. Luckily there are otherworldly options. Peter Morgan's script assumes psychics out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena to be real and legitimate but in a non-denominational Coast-to-Coast AM kind of way. Unlike Jackson’s syrupy CGI-drenched glimpses of the afterlife Eastwood’s visions of the Other Side are vague and eery — dark fuzzy silhouettes of the departed set against a white background. Only Damon’s character George seems capable of drawing meaning from them which is why he’s constantly sought out by grief-stricken folks desperate to make contact with loved ones who’ve recently passed on. He’s John Edward only real (and not a douche).
Marie and Marcus appear destined to find him as well but only as the last stop on wearisome circuitous and often heartbreaking spiritual journeys that together with George’s hapless pursuit of a more temporal connection (psychic ability it turns out can be a wicked cock-blocker) consume the bulk of Hereafter’s running time. We know the three characters’ paths must inevitably intersect but Morgan’s script stubbornly forestalls this eventuality testing our patience for nearly two ponderous and maudlin hours and ultimately building up expectations for a climax Eastwood can’t deliver at least not without sacrificing any hope of credulity.
It should be noted that Hereafter features a handful of genuinely touching moments thanks in great part to the film's tremendous cast. And its finale is refreshingly upbeat. Unfortunately it also feels forced and terribly unsatisfying. Eastwood an established master of all things tragic and forlorn struggles mightily to mount a happy ending. (Which in my opinion is much more challenging than a sad or ambiguous one.) After prompting us to seriously ponder life’s ultimate question Eastwood’s final answer seems to be: Don’t worry about it.
If you thought the Viking Age was uninteresting in that old history textbook Pathfinder does it one better by actually upping the boring ante. In fact even ye Old World buffs out there will be disoriented. It’s set “600 years before Columbus ” when “people had to guard America’s shores from marauders.” One of those most noble guardsmen was Ghost (Karl Urban). Native Americans happened upon him as a young orphan boy and decided to raise him as one of their own--even though he was never truly accepted due to his unknown ancestry. Fifteen years pass and Ghost once a frail child has blossomed into a beast-sized man capable of warding off almost anyone. His size and skill set come in handy when Norse invaders look to raise hell in his village. Armed with horses swords and thorny helmets they kill and maim everyone in sight and mostly get away with it. That is until they mess with the object of Ghost’s affection Starfire (Moon Bloodgood) thereby seriously messing with Ghost. You don’t put Ghost in a corner! Beefcake actors are apparently a dime a dozen these days and Pathfinder lead Urban does nothing to separate himself from the supporting actors of his own movie let alone from the aforementioned Hollywood stereotype. Looking like a runway model on steroids the Lord of the Rings and Bourne Ultimatum star only stands out aesthetically here and is in danger of being pigeonholed and typecast for a long time to come. Unless he can somehow show a different side Urban will wind up on a long list with the likes of wrestlers-turned-actors who can’t act. Thing is in Pathfinder he can’t even manage the uber-virility his character is meant to project. Bloodgood (Eight Below) meanwhile owner of the best non-porn name in showbiz holds her own and softens things up in a movie otherwise completely dominated by males. And finally there's veteran Native American actor Russell Means (Natural Born Killers) who as the Pathfinder himself at least lends some desperately needed credibility. Looking up a director’s name and past work isn’t a fair way to pre-judge his or her movie but it may sometimes hint at what you’re in for. Take Pathfinder for example: Director Marcus Nispel's past work includes Texas Chainsaw Massacre and music videos. Massacre was terrible and music videos are stylized; thus we arrive upon Pathfinder which is terrible and stylized. When parents complain about violence in the movies this should be their focal point. Nispel like other offenders is unable to ever refrain and beheadings and such in all their slow-motion glory resemble fun video games. Not that his lack of morality makes Pathfinder the crap it is however. That blame rests on his apparent decision that such violence is all moviegoers want to see. And it is perhaps the sheer lack of a story that accentuates how mediocre the violent scenes really are--scenes that are meant to leave us agape in amazement as if we’ve never seen a loose eyeball on the screen before. On a (lone) positive note though the set design seems up-to-snuff.
All of Britain is abuzz as "E-Day" approaches. The day when the pound will be converted into euros and the former will no longer be accepted as a valid form of currency. Enter two brothers: wide-eyed 7-year-old Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel) and his 9-year-old fiscally precocious and shrewd brother Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) who stumble upon a million pounds and are split on what to do with it in the short time they have. They are in agreement on one thing: They will not tell their father (James Nesbitt) about the money. Anthony just wants to spend it on material things but Damian believes the money has been delivered to them by some sort of divine osmosis a miracle from their recently deceased mother. Through the saints he claims he sees and talks to he thinks it is should be given exclusively to the homeless--or anyone deemed worthy by meeting Damian's rigorous criteria…admitting they are poor. He is later crushed to discover that the money's true origin is a heist gone awry as he crosses paths with the obligatory villain posing as a homeless man and threatening Damian to hand over the money or else pay the consequences.
There's a kind of freedom in releasing an indie film in which the biggest name belongs to the guy behind the camera. Rather than worrying about watching mega movie stars it shifts the audience's attention so they can get involved in a complex storyline. Millions is no exception to this rule. The acting is superb all the way around but undoubtedly the two biggest stars of the film are also its smallest. The interplay between two brothers--played by Etel and McGibbon in their feature film debuts--makes the viewer feel like a fly on the wall in any family's home. For such young kids they display an amazing skill at being able to capture the subtle nuances generally present in sibling relationships. Throw in the dynamic of their father--played well by Nesbitt a veteran of the British-indie circuit--and his new girlfriend (Daisy Donovan) who threatens to disrupt the family harmony and you feel like a genuine intruder on a family in crisis. But Damian's naive musings help keep the story essentially light vibrant and flowing.
Millions marks a complete about-face for director Danny Boyle. With his previous films he followed along a general path of the same moods and tones: his harrowing take on drugs and decadence in England in the groundbreaking Trainspotting; his hostage-falls-for-kidnapper caper A Life Less Ordinary; his disappointing attempt at a mind trip with The Beach; and his zombie take-off 28 Days Later. It's safe to say that a feel-good family film would not seem the logical next step. But Boyle executes Millions brilliantly showing not only his sensitive side but his flair for the whimsical. Parts of the movie even suggest hints of Tim Burton complete with sinister-sounding choral hymns in the background. With Millions Boyle establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with one of the most versatile directors around today.
When retired U.S. Special Forces Soldier Chris Vaughn (Johnson) returns to Kipsat County Wash. it's only to find his hometown overrun with crime drugs and violence. The old mill where Chris's father (John Beasley) worked for most of his life is closed and the town's only thriving industry is the Wild Cherry casino. Even Chris' high school sweetie Deni (Ashley Scott) couldn't resist the Wild Cherry's lure; she's become a peepshow dancer to "pay the bills." But Chris really loses it when he discovers the casino's dealers are using loaded dice--and he starts a brawl that ends with the security team carving up his chest and abdomen with a rusty Exacto knife. Chris also learns that that his old high school rival the casino's owner Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) has transformed the mill into a crystal meth lab and is using the casino's menacing security staff to sell the drugs to innocent kids. Chris strikes back by running for sheriff firing the entire police department on his first day and with the help of a cedar two-by-four and his deputy and buddy Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville) restores peace to the Pacific Northwest.
Johnson looking buffer than ever is well cast in the role of Chris: He's a fearless and determined soldier with beyond-human fighting skills. But while the film takes advantage of Johnson's brawn it fails to take advantage of his brain. In last year's comedy The Rundown Johnson proved he was more than a muscle-bound action star; he oozed charm and was surprisingly witty. With Walking Tall he never gets a chance to flex his acting muscles; if anything they atrophy. The only skills Johnson gets to show off are his ability to swing a plank at someone's shins and his unique way of bashing skulls against slot machines. Johnson's sidekick Ray played by Knoxville of MTV's Jackass fame is an ex-junkie who after spending a couple of years in the slammer is content with living in a camper and doing odd jobs around town. With his scraggly appearance and klutzy demeanor Knoxville supplies the film with brief interludes of humor amid the slam fest including a scene in which he stabs a bad guy with a potato peeler. Johnson and Knoxville would have made a first-rate action team had they had more screen time together.
A WWE production with Vince McMahon serving as executive producer Walking Tall has none of the subtlety of director Kevin Bray's last film All About the Benjamins and all the elements of a wrestling match. As with wrestling the film begins by melodramatically establishing the story (Chris and his family's lives are devastated by the mill's closure) and just like rival pugilists who publicly taunt the favored wrestler Chris challenges Jay--not for the world title but at least for control of Kipsat County--in a never-ending battle between good and evil that mimics wrestling to a T. But what's entertaining in the ring doesn't translate to film especially when the good guy running the town is a maniacal meathead. Chris is supposed to be the protagonist who single-handedly saves the town but who's responding to the citizens' domestic violence calls for example when the sheriff fires the entire precinct and spends 24 hours a day casing the casino? Never mind the fact that he has sex with his girlfriend in his office while he's on the clock.
February 23, 2003 11:38am EST
Pow! The live-action comic book flick Daredevil challenged four new wide releases and won hands down with a superlative $18.9 million* take at the box office this weekend.
Daredevil vanquished all comers to take the No. 1 spot for the second week in a row, soundly defeating its nearest competition, the laffer Old School. The frat comedy drew in a jovial $17.5 million, the heftiest take from this week's crop of newbies.
The death row drama The Life of David Gale premiered in sixth place with a grim $7.1 million, while the Civil War epic Gods and Generals debuted in the No. 8 position with $4.7 million. The gritty urban cop drama Dark Blue kicked off in ninth place with a shady $3.7 million.
Best Picture Oscar nominees Chicago and The Hours expanded marginally this week--as did their box office pickings. The musical Chicago landed in fifth place with $8.5 million, while the drama The Hours took in $2.4 million.
Meanwhile, the limited-release supernatural romance Till Human Voices Wake Us slept through the weekend with a drowsy $7,700.
THE TOP TEN
Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 live-action comic book adaptation Daredevil went undefeated in its second week of release with an ESTIMATED $18.9 million (-53%) at 3,474 theaters (+3 theaters, $5,448 per theater). Its cume is approximately $70.3 million. The film could become the first movie this year to pass the $100 million mark.
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, it stars Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan.
DreamWork's R rated buddy comedy Old School debuted to a close second with an ESTIMATED $17.5 million at 2,689 theaters. Its $6,508 per theater average was the highest of this week's top 10 films.
The film revolves around three thirtysomething college buddies who decide to start their own off-campus fraternity in an attempt to recapture some of that old school magic.
Directed by Todd Phillips, it stars Luke Wilson, Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn.
In its third week of release, Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days dropped from second to third position with a still strong ESTIMATED $11.8 million (-37%) at 2923 theaters (unchanged), with an $4,063 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $64.9 million.
Directed by Donald Petrie, it stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
Buena Vista's G rated animated feature The Jungle Book 2 remained in fourth place in its second week, still roaring to an ESTIMATED $8.6 million (-25%) at 2,815 theaters (+7 theaters, $4,238 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.1 million.
Directed by Steven Trenbirth, it features the voices of Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman, Bob Joles and Tony Jay.
Miramax's PG-13 rated musical Chicago expanded again in its ninth week but dropped from third to fifth place with an ESTIMATED $8.5 million (-33%) at 2,355 theaters (+87 theaters, $3,609 per theater). Its cume is approximately $94.3 million.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Universal's R rated drama The Life of David Gale premiered in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $7.1 million at 2,002 theaters ($3,580 per theater).
In the film, a philosophy professor who is vigorously opposed to the death penalty finds himself on death row when his associate in the advocacy group Death Watch is murdered.
Directed by Alan Parker, the film stars Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated buddy actioner Shanghai Knights fell from fifth to seventh place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $6.4 million (-42%) at 2526 theaters (-229 theaters, $2,534 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.4 million.
Directed by Tom Dey, it stars Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.
Warner's PG-13 rated Civil War biopic Gods and Generals opened in eighth place with an ESTIMATED $4.7 million at 1,533 theaters ($$3,115 per theater).
The film is an epic portrayal charting the early years of the Civil War in early 1861 through 1863, climaxing with the famous Battle of Chancellorsville.
Directed by Ron Maxwell, it stars Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang and Robert Duvall.
MGM's R rated police drama Dark Blue premiered in ninth place with an ESTIMATED $4.7 million in 2,176 theaters ($1,723 per theater).
The film revolves around a rookie LAPD cop who learns the grim realities of police intimidation and corruption in the week leading up to the verdict of the Rodney King trial and the subsequent riots.
Directed by Ron Shelton, it stars Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman and Ving Rhames.
Rounding out the top 10, Buena Vista's PG-13 CIA thriller The Recruit, dropped from sixth to tenth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.5 million (-46%) at 1,678 theaters (-658 theaters, $2,086per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.4 million.
Directed by Roger Donaldson, it stars Al Pacino and Colin Farrell.
Paramount Classics' R rated supernatural romance Till Human Voices Wake Us debuted in five theaters with an eerily real ESTIMATED $7,700, with an average $1,540 per theater.
In the film, a doctor is haunted by painful childhood memories when he returns home for his father's funeral.
Directed by Michael Petroni, it stars Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce.
The top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $96.2 million, down 22.26 percent from last week's President Day weekend when they totaled $123.7 million.
The top 12 were up 14.08 percent from last year when they totaled $84.5 million.
Last year, Warner's R rated Queen of the Damned debuted at the top of the box office with $14.7 million at 2,511 theaters ($5,877 per theater); New Line Cinema's PG-13 John Q came in second with $12.4 million at 2,505 theaters ($4,980 per theater); and Universal's PG-13 rated Dragonfly debuted in third with $10.2 million at 2,507 theaters ($4, 075 per theater).
February 07, 2002 1:42pm EST
The Writers Guild of America announced their list of nominees for their annual film awards Thursday, six days before the coveted Oscar nominations.
The WGA nominees for best original screenplay include Gosford Park, written by Julian Fellowes, Monster's Ball, written by Milo Addica and Will Rokosand, and The Royal Tenenbaums, written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.
Joel and Ethan Coen, who previously won a WGA Award for Fargo in 1996, and were nominated last year for O Brother, Where Art Thou, were again nominated for The Man Who Wasn't There.
Australians Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, who were also nominated for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for direction, were nominated for the musical Moulin Rouge.
Nominees for best adapted screenplay include A Beautiful Mind, written by Akiva Goldsman, Black Hawk Down, by Ken Nolan, Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis, and Ghost World, written by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff.
Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson were nominated for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which was also nominated for a DGA Award for direction.
All films released in 2001 under the jurisdiction of the Writers Guild of America are eligible for Writers Guild Awards. The nominations were chosen from 187 films, 111 in the original screenplay category and 76 in the adapted screenplay category.
Oscar favorites In the Bedroom and Memento were ineligible for this year's Writers Guild awards because their writers were not members of the Guild when the screenplays were written.
The 54th Annual Writers Guild Awards will take place Saturday, March 2, 2002, simultaneously in Los Angeles (Beverly Hilton Hotel) and New York (Pierre Hotel).