There must be few experiences more exciting if you're an actor or director than waking up to find you're an Oscar nominee. Several of those whose names were rattled off among the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards have already shared their joy and gratitude about the honor of competing for a little gold statuette come February 24.
Hugh Jackman, Best Actor, Les Misérables
"I hadn't planned to listen live to the announcements, but when I got into the car this morning to go to work, the driver had the nominations streaming as they were being broadcast. To be honest, it's very exciting but all a bit surreal, and it hasn't fully sunk in yet. This is a brilliant awards year that has been defined by an eclectic list of stories that have been told by incredibly talented and courageous filmmakers, and it's an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as the other nominees in the Best Actor category. Having hosted the show, I have seen so many different sides of the Oscars, but to be an actual nominee is something I never would have dreamed possible."
Naomi Watts, Best Actress, The Impossible
“I am so thrilled and humbled with this morning’s wonderful news. The journey of telling Maria Belon’s miraculous story of survival has been an incredible experience and I am so grateful for this acknowledgement of our film. I am truly honored."
Denzel Washington, Best Actor, Flight
“Flight was one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever had in my career, and it was an honor to be directed by Robert Zemeckis. It’s always nice to be asked back to the show, and it will be fun to share the evening with our nominated screenwriter John Gatins."
Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actress, Silver Linings Playbook
"I'm so honored and grateful for this nomination and to be in the company of such talented actresses. Having the fortunate opportunity to work with David O. Russell was an extraordinary gift, and I am so thrilled for my fellow cast members Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver who are all nothing short of amazing. This was a labor of love that we all poured our hearts into and could not be more thankful to The Weinstein Company and Harvey Weinstein for their unyielding support of the film."
Robert De Niro, Best Supporting Actor, Silver Linings Playbook
"I am very pleased that the Academy has chosen to honor the many individuals who were a part of Silver Linings Playbook."
Jacki Weaver, Best Supporting Actress, Silver Linings Playbook
"I am completely over the moon by this morning's news. To be nominated twice now is incredible, and to be a part of this wonderful film and amazing cast makes things even sweeter. I am so happy for David O' Russell and could not be more thrilled."
Mark Boal, Best Original Screenplay, Zero Dark Thirty
Thank you to the Academy for these incredible honors. And thank you to the writers who have honored me today with their generosity and to the academy for the Best Picture nomination. None of us would be so honored today without the genius and remarkable talent of Kathryn Bigelow, and to her we are forever grateful.
Ang Lee, Best Director, Life of Pi
“I am deeply honored and frankly a little overwhelmed by all of the nominations that Life of Pi has received this morning. So many talented people gave everything they had to this film, both in front of and behind the camera, and to see all of them receive this kind of recognition is something I am incredibly grateful for.”
Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, producers of Best Picture nominee Lincoln
“We are absolutely thrilled and astonished with the 12 nominations. It is such a tribute to the work of those who joined us in this 12-year journey to bring Lincoln to the screen. We humbly thank the Academy members who honored so many of us.”
Sally Field, Best Supporting Actress, Lincoln
“I'm spinning and beyond thrilled on so many levels. To be included in this amazing group of extraordinary craftsman and exquisite talents has been an honor in itself. But now for us all to receive so much recognition from the Academy I'm deeply appreciative and overwhelmed, and basically, I still can't believe I got the role."
Tony Kushner, Best Adapted Screenplay, Lincoln
“I'm tremendously honored to be a nominee in the company of so many writers and filmmakers whose work I admire. I'm very grateful to Steven and Kathy, to Daniel, Sally, Tommy Lee and the whole cast, to Rick, Joanna, Janusz, Mike and John and everyone who made Lincoln happen. I'm overwhelmed by the Academy's response to the film. I heard that I'd been nominated while waiting to take off on a plane from JFK to LAX. James Gandolfini, who's sitting in front of me, gave me a hug and a kiss, so I'm about as happy as can be. ”
Joanna Johnston, Best Costume Design, Lincoln
“I’m thrilled and honored to be nominated, it was an extraordinary experience with a remarkable team who are all part of this recognition. It is my first nomination and I’m so happy to be part of this unique body of talent.”
Tim Burton, producer/director of Best Animated Feature nominee, Frankenweenie
"Frankenweenie is a very personal film for me. The idea of telling a feature length version was in the back of my mind for many years. Stop Motion was the perfect medium for this project, and one I've always loved for its expressiveness and dimensionality. I've worked with so many incredible artists: animators, cast members, set builders, and puppet makers, all who have helped bring this film to life one frame at a time. I'm so honored that the Academy has recognized this film as one of its nominees."
Mark Rich, director of Best Animated Feature nominee, Wreck-It Ralph
"To have the Wreck-It Ralph team's passion and years of hard work acknowledged by the Academy is an honor like no other. We are so proud, so grateful - I can't wait to congratulate everyone in-person."
Peter Lord, producer and co-director of Best Animated Feature nominee, The Pirates! Band of Misfits
"This is amazing! We tried to do something a little different with The Pirates!, in terms of tone and comedy, and it’s just brilliant that the Academy has responded to it in such a wonderful way."
Mark Andrews, director of Best Animated Feature nominee, Brave
"We are incredibly honored by today's Academy Award nomination. Brave has been an adventure from the beginning - starting with our research trips to Scotland, the crew embarked upon a journey that inspired us all and forever changed our fates. Thanks to the Academy from all of us here at Pixar."
John Kahrs, director of Best Animated Short nominee, Paperman
"It's beyond an honor to have Paperman nominated for an Oscar. I can't thank everyone on the team enough for their passion and hard work in making this dream project a reality."
With Additional Reporting By Lindsey DiMattina, Shaunna Murphy, and Matt Patches
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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Pictured: Jessica Chastain in Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty'
The nominations are out! The Golden Globes race is on and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their picks for the best movies, actors, and directors of the year Thursday morning. Naturally, many of the nominees can't keep their gratitude and joy to themselves.
Jessica Chastain, star of Zero Dark Thirty:
"Zero Dark Thirty is a film that I am extremely proud of and it's a tremendous honor to be recognized by the HFPA. I am so thankful for this nomination. I am elated to see our fearless producer Megan Ellison, our brilliant director Kathryn Bigelow, our wonderful screenwriter Mark Boal and this extraordinary film being honored today. I'm so proud and honored to play this exceptional woman."
Anne Hathaway, star of Les Miserables:
"What a great way to wake up! I couldn't be happier or more grateful for this news. Congratulations to Hugh and everyone who worked on Les Miz for their contribution to the best picture nomination!!!"
Kathryn Bigelow, director of Zero Dark Thirty:
"It’s an honor, sincerely, and very humbling to be singled out this way by the HFPA. We’re grateful, and encouraged by their support, especially since our film has such a diverse, international cast, and as the HFPA represent so many countries across the globe. And a big congratulations to the amazing Jessica Chastain and my producing partner and screenwriter Mark Boal."
Mark Andrews, writer/director Brave:
"The adventure of 'Brave' began in Scotland, where the mystery and majesty of the land fueled our imaginations. From haggis to highland games, creating this film truly changed our fate. On behalf of everyone at Pixar, we would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press for the incredible honor of this nomination."
Tim Burton, director of Frankenweenie:
"I'm thrilled to be recognized by the HFPA. Frankenweenie is a very personal project for me and the nomination goes as much to the animators who labored frame by frame to bring this film to life"
Mark Boal, writer/producer of Zero Dark Thirty:
"We’re very grateful to the HFPA. It means so much to us that press representatives from around the world have reacted with such praise. It’s especially flattering as we’ve seen the film from the beginning as a global story, one that involved and impacted much of the world. Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow and Jessica Chastain on nominations much deserved.”
Lasse Helstrom, director of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen:
"I am happy as a clam! Many thanks to the HFPA for recognizing our film with these nominations. I loved making this movie, and I am so happy for Ewan and Emily, and on top of being outstanding actors, they are two of the funniest and nicest people in the business, in my mind!"
Alain Boublil, Lyricist from Les Miserables:
"I feel like a painter who has added a touch of red in the corner of a painting that had been created 30 years ago. Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and I were able to add something to our work that we thought was finished. I would like to thank Tom Hooper, who suggested this new scene that allowed us to create this song and blend it into the colors of the Les Misérables score. I also would like to thank Hugh Jackman who was a blessing to write this song for. Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press!"
[Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures]
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How do you solve a casting problem like Maria? Hire Carrie Underwood to play the role!
NBC has cast the country-pop superstar in the part of the nun turned governess turned Nazi-fighting choirmaster in the new version of The Sound of Music they’re planning to air during the 2013 holiday season. Though the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical debuted on Broadway in 1959, it was the 1965 Oscar-winner for Best Picture that truly immortalized Maria von Trapp, played by Julie Andrews. The acting challenge that awaits Underwood is about as daunting as climbing a mountain, especially considering that it’s her first major dramatic role.
The Peacock’s presentation of the musical is intended to be a three-hour live broadcasting event. It’ll be produced by Smash’s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are also helming this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Speaking about Underwood’s addition to the cast, Zadan and Meron said in a statement, “It’s a particular joy to us as producers to see this amazing artist stretch into new territory with this classic musical.” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt also added, “Speaking for everyone at NBC, we couldn’t be happier to have the gifted Carrie Underwood take up the mantle of the great Maria von Trapp. She was an iconic woman who will now be played by an iconic artist.”
Do you think Underwood is right for the role? And will this leave more of an impression than Brandy's 1997 version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella? It's at least gotta be better than that 2001 made-for-TV remake of South Pacific starring Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr., right? (Yes, that happened.)
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
There's always room for dessert, as Universal proved this weekend.
American Pie 2 managed to hold on to the top of the box office charts two weeks in a row, which in this summer of one-week wonders is quite a fait accompli.
Lack of competition and weak late summer openings no doubt helped sustain the Pie sequel. The R-rated comedy earned $21.4 million at 3,072 theaters ($6,966 per theater).
Even though that was a 52 percent crash from last week, it remained the highest average per theater of any film this week.
It also adds to Universal's string of summer hits that include The Mummy Returns, The Fast and the Furious and Jurassic Park III. American Pie 2's cume is approximately $87.8 million and should well surpass the original American Pie, which grossed a total of $102.7 million domestically.
American Pie 2 is directed by J.B. Rogers and stars Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy.
New Line Cinema's Rush Hour 2 also repeated its No. 2 position from last week. In its third week at the box office, it earned a meaty $19.2 million, averaging $6,234 per theater. Though it fell 42 percent from last week, the picture may be on its way to surpassing the $200 million mark. It's cume so far is $164.8 million.
Directed by Brett Ratner, Rush Hour 2 stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
Rat Race, Paramount's PG-13-rated comedy, opened up in third place to an estimated $11.8 million at 2,550 theaters ($4, 627 per theater).
A soft opening was predicted for the film, which falls between the cracks in terms of genre. It did however surpass American Outlaws and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which both opened this weekend.
Rat Race is directed by Jerry Zucker and stars John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson, Jon Lovitz, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Miramax's The Others held on to fourth place in its second week, taking in an estimated $10.8 million, That is only a 23 percent drop from its opening week. It expanded to 2,153 theaters, about 500 more than last week, and took in an average of $5,016 per theater.
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, The Others stars Nicole Kidman.
Dropping two rungs to No. 5 was Disney's G-rated comedy The Princess Diaries. Playing across 2,726 screens, it made an estimated $9.5 million and averaged $3,485 per theater.
The Princess Diaries is directed by Garry Marshall and stars Julie Andrews and newcomer Anne Hathaway.
No doubt the most talked-about film of the week, Captain Corelli's Mandolin came in at a No. 6, earning a dismal $7.1 million.
Jeff Sakson, Universal's Senior Vice President for National Publicity, pointed out that while the per screen average wasn't bad, the total earnings were lower than what they had expected.
"We would have liked it to have done better, so of course we are disappointed," he said Sunday morning. "Everyone worked really hard on this film. Unfortunately, reviews from London were bad."
"But apparently, word of mouth is good and it received an A - in the cinema scores," he added.
All the attention the film received when Penelope Cruz showed up at the premiere with Tom Cruise in tow obviously didn't pay off. The film averaged $4,454 per theater and opened on 1,594 screens.
Directed by John Madden, Captain Corelli's Mandolin stars Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz.
Dropping two notches to No. 7 was 20th Century Fox's PG-13 Planet of the Apes. In its third week the sci-fi adventure film pulled in an estimated $6.87 million (-45 percent) at 3,059 theaters. Its cume is $160.9 and may also be on its way to the coveted $200 million mark.
Planet of the Apes is directed by Tim Burton and stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Clarke Duncan.
American Outlaws opened at No. 8. Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated western adventure earned a bleak $4.8 million. Playing across 2,348 screens, it averaged a dismal $2,049 per theater. Looks like Irish heartthrob Colin Farrell couldn't get American audiences interested in this Western.
Directed by Les Mayfield, American Outlaws stars Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter and Timothy Dalton.
Universal's Jurassic Park III, which roared into theaters with a whopping $50.8 million, slipped three notches in its fourth week to No. 9. The PG-13 adventure fantasy raked in a mere $4.3 million (-43%) at 2,516 theaters (-659). Averaging $1,709 per theater, its cume is $168.2 million.
Jurassic Park III is directed by Joe Johnston and stars Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl and Bruce A. Young.
No. 10 went to MGM's PG-13-rated Legally Blonde with a reasonable $2.57 million in its fifth week at the box office. Playing at 1,770 theaters, it averaged $1,454 per theater. So far, the comedy has accumulated $83.3 million domestically.
Directed by Robert Luketic, Legally Blonde stars Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber and Jennifer Coolidge.
In total, the top 10 films this weekend grossed about $98.9 million.