American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years A Slave look set to dominate the 2014 Academy Awards. The movies will go head-to-head for Best Picture along with Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street.
British stars Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) both scored a mention for Best Actor, while American Hustle's Amy Adams will go head-to-head with Gravity's Sandra Bullock for Best Actress.
Other actresses nominated in the category are Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Judi Dench (Philomena) and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
Last year's (13) winner of the Best Actress trophy, Jennifer Lawrence, will compete for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle, while Bradley Cooper landed a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in the crime caper.
12 Years A Slave co-stars Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender also picked up nods for their supporting roles, while the film's director Steve McQueen and American Hustle's David. O. Russell both landed nominations for Best Director along with Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron.
Speaking shortly after the nominations were announced, British moviemaker McQueen told the BBC, "(I am) just very excited - nine nominations. A lot of them (the Oscar nominees are) British. I am just so excited. We worked very hard and are very privileged to receive these nominations."
While O. Russell admits he is thrilled that all four of his film's main actors picked up nods, adding, "It's all four actors... you always worry as sort of the captain... that one of your great performers is not going to get recognised... they all put so much into it and they did it together so it's nice that none of them got left out."
American Hustle and Gravity both scored 10 nominations, while 12 Years A Slave landed nine.
The nominations were announced by actor Chris Hemsworth and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Thursday (16Jan14), and the winners will be unveiled during the Los Angeles prizegiving on 2 March (14).
The full list of nominees is as follows:
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
David O. Russell - American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Alexander Payne - Nebraska
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street
Actor in a Leading Role:
Christian Bale - American Hustle
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Leading Role:
Amy Adams - American Hustle
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
Actor in a Supporting Role:
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years A Slave
Jonah Hill - The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club
Actress in a Supporting Role:
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska
Before Midnight - Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips - Billy Ray
Philomena - Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
12 Years A Slave - John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street - Terence Winter
American Hustle - Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine - Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club - Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Her - Spike Jonze
Nebraska - Bob Nelson
Animated Feature Film:
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Grandmaster - Philippe Le Sourd
Gravity - Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis - Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska - Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners - Roger A. Deakins
American Hustle - Michael Wilkinson
The Grandmaster - William Chang Suk Ping
The Great Gatsby - Catherine Martin
The Invisible Woman - Michael O'Connor
12 Years A Slave - Patricia Norris
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
20 Feet from Stardom
Documentary Short Subject:
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
American Hustle - Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips - Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club - John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa
Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger
12 Years A Slave - Joe Walker
Foreign Language Film:
The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Missing Picture
Makeup And Hairstyling:
Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
Music - Original Score:
The Book Thief
Saving Mr. Banks
Music - Original Song:
Alone Yet Not Alone by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, from Alone Yet Not Alone
Happy by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2
Let it Go by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen
The Moon Song by Karen O, from Her
Ordinary Love by U2, from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
The Great Gatsby
12 Years A Slave
All Is Lost
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness.
While the likes of Madonna, David Bowie and Prince have made the process of musical reinvention appear effortless, not every artist can get away with adopting such a chameleon-like approach to their career. Here's a look at five of the most misguided attempts at changing musical direction.
Garth Brooks Turns Into Chris Gaines
Pre-dating Joaquin Phoenix's equally perplexing attempt to become a rock star by about a decade, country's biggest star swapped his black cowboy hat for some black guyliner in 1999 for an album recorded under the guise of Chris Gaines. Unfortunately the film that Brooks assumed the fictitious persona for was never filmed, meaning that most of his fans thought he'd simply lost his mind and the ironically-titled Greatest Hits spent the next few years filling up bargain bins.
Robbie Williams Turns To Rap
Following nearly a decade of colossal success in which even a lazy collection of swing covers sold by the bucketload, Robbie Williams must have believed he was untouchable. 2006's Rudebox, a bewildering mixture of hip-hop, electronica and synth-pop spearheaded by the title track rap turkey, proved he most certainly wasn't, derailing his career at exactly the same time that his old boyband Take That began their triumphant second wind.
New Kids On The Block Get Tough
Following four albums of sugary teen pop, New Kids On The Block shortened their name, fired their long-time producer Maurice Starr and decided to go even more 'hangin' tough' on their 1994 comeback, Face The Music. Unsurprisingly, few were convinced by their transparent attempt to court some street credibility and the album crawled in at a lowly No. 37 on the Billboard charts.
Liz Phair Goes Pop
Hooking up with hit factory The Matrix, indie favorite Liz Phair made an unexpected bid for mainstream success with her pop-focused eponymous 2003 LP. In the short term, the bid to become Avril Lavigne's older sister paid off when it equalled the chart peak of her critically-acclaimed sophomore, Whip-Smart. But in the long term, the album was considered as an act of career suicide and despite returning to her lo-fi roots with subsequent releases, those fans who labelled her a sellout never returned.
Pat Boone Takes On Metal's Finest
In one of those career moves you still can’t quite believe actually happened, conservative Christian pop veteran Pat Boone donned a leather vest, earring and dog collar to promote 1997's In A Metal Mood...No More Mr. Nice Guy, a collection of classic rock anthems from the likes of Metallica, Guns N' Roses and of course, Alice Cooper, bizarrely performed in a big band style.
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Charlie's Angels star Cameron Diaz, who was seen Tuesday sporting two tiny bandage strips on the bridge of her nose, said she broke her nose Saturday during a surfing accident off Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. "I'm fine," Diaz told The Associated Press. "But I'm just totally bummed out because I can't go surfing any more." The nautical mishap happened on her first day of her two-week Hawaiian vacation, also her 31st birthday. Diaz said she was surfing with her older sister and a couple of friends when she wiped out and hit someone else's board--with her face. Her sister, Chimene, told the AP it could have been worse had the board not been made of foam. According to the 2004 edition of the Guinness World Records, Diaz, who earned $42.2 million in 2001, has replaced Julia Roberts as Hollywood's highest paid actress.
Actors To Test for Batman Role
Holy razor's edge, this is going to be a close shave! Over the next three days, some of Hollywood's hottest young actors will congregate at Warner Bros. to test for the role of the Caped Crusader in the next Batman film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill and Eion Bailey are all expected to test for the part. The Batman film, to be directed by English filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento), is scheduled to start shooting in February.
Johnny Depp Loves Freedom Fries
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl star Johnny Depp, who lives in the south of France with his wife, French model/actress Vanessa Paradis, and their two children, told the German news magazine Stern that the United States is "a stupid, aggressive puppy" and he would not live there until the political climate changed. According to Reuters, Depp, 41, also slammed George W. Bush's administration for its criticism of French opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, adding: ""I was ecstatic they re-named 'French fries' as 'Freedom fries.' Grown men and women in positions of power in the U.S. government showing themselves as idiots."
Limo Owner Sues Rapper 50 Cent
The owner of a limousine service in Mobile, Ala., has sued rapper 50 Cent, claiming he suffered bruised ribs, fear and emotional distress after some of the star's security guards hijacked his vehicle following a March 13 concert at the University of South Alabama's Mitchell Center, the AP reports. Johnny Bonner alleges that when he tried to take a different route back to the hotel after a crowd of fans surrounded 50 Cent's motorcade, the security men attacked him, threw him in the rear seat of the GMC Yukon and drove "recklessly" back to the hotel. He seeks unspecified damages from 50 Cent, the three unidentified security men and unidentified parties responsible for hiring and supervising the men.
Macaulay Culkin Happy Where He Is
Former Home Alone child star Macaulay Culkin says he has no regrets about rising to fame at such a young age. Culkin, now 23, tells Barbara Walters in an interview with airing Friday at 10 p.m. EDT on ABC's 20/20 that he wouldn't trade any of his experiences for anything in the world. "I'm very happy with who I am, and where I've ended up and I wouldn't change one thing," he said. "Because if you change one thing in the past, everything else is different." Culkin, who married actress Rachel Miner in 1998 when both were just 17 but separated two years later, also denied he plans to marry his girlfriend, actress Mila Kunis from the Fox's That '70s Show. Culkin stars as New York club kid Michael Alig in the upcoming biopic Party Monster.
Universal Re-Releases Scarface
Universal Pictures is re-releasing Al Pacino's Scarface this month for a 20th anniversary run in theaters in New York; Los Angeles; Boston; Chicago; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Dallas; Miami and San Francisco, Reuters reports. Jack Foley, president of distribution for Universal's specialty film label Focus Features, said the new prints have been copied from restored film and will feature a new digital soundtrack to boost the audience experience. The film's re-release comes in advance of a new DVD version of Scarface.
Gone With the Wind's Rand Brook Dies
Actor Rand Brooks, who played Scarlett O'Hara's first husband, Charles, in Gone With the Wind died of cancer Monday at his home in Santa Ynez, Calif., with his wife, Hermaine, at his bedside, the AP reports. He was 84. In the 1940s and '50s, Brooks became known as sidekick Lucky Jenkins in the Hopalong Cassidy movies and Cpl. Randy Boone in the TV series Rin Tin Tin. After he left show business, Brooks ran an ambulance service that eventually became the largest private ambulance provider in Los Angeles County. He sold the company in 1994 and retired to the Santa Ynez Valley, where he bred champion Andalusian horses.