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Next time you dig a penny out your pocket at the store, you may find Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis suddenly crossing your mind.
In this newly-released photo from Steven Speilberg's upcoming Oscar hopeful "Lincoln," the actor looks to be the spitting image of the 16th U.S. president who helped reunite a fractured America -- and rocked one of history's greatest beards.
Lewis has picked up two best actor Academy Awards (for "My Left Foot" and "There Will be Blood"), and Touchstone Pictures are no doubt hoping he'll be the one to best this awards season.
Instead of attempting to cover his entire career, the film will wisely focus on just the last act of Lincoln's life, tracing his momentous presidency through the Civil War and abolition, and ultimately leading to his death at the hands of assassin John Wilkes Booth. Day-Lewis' Honest Abe will therefore be starting the film with the weight of the world already on his shoulders.
“Our movie is really about a working leader who must make tough decisions and get things done in the face of overwhelming opposition,” Spielberg said in a press release.
Oscar winner Sally Field ("Norma Rae," "Places in the Heart") plays First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, while "The Dark Knight Rises'" Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays their eldest son, Robert.
Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn and Jackie Earle Haley also star in the highly-anticipated film .
"Lincoln" opens November 9.
Time for the second Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of the week, as Dan and I look ahead to the first new shows of the 2012-13 network TV season, check back in on AMC's "Hell on Wheels" as it begins its second season, and talk a little bit about the most-watched — if not always best-liked — TV show of the summer.
I didn't bother weighing in on last week's scuttlebutt that Jimmy Fallon was in talks to host the 85th annual Academy Awards, mostly because I was on the road in Texas, but also because I just couldn't see it happening. While ABC may not have veto rights on the Academy bringing in two NBC stars (the other being "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels) for its Oscarcast, I still don't know that you'd want to ruffle the relationship all that much.
Also, with Hawk Koch newly minted as AMPAS president, it's unlikely he'd want to carry on something brought in by exiting president Tom Sherak. Surely he'll have his own ideas. I suppose it's still possible Michaels could produce (along with former AMPAS president Sid Ganis, who the LA Times reported last week was also in the mix), but one giant commercial for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" always seemed to me like it would be a bit of a stretch (not to mention a bad creative approach, at least in my opinion).
For a week now, Sight & Sound's decennial critics' poll of the Greatest Films Of All Time, the results of which are awaited by cinephiles with all the eagerness of over-sugared rugrats on Christmas morning, has provided ample discussion fodder for the film-focused blogosphere.
The Top 100's seemingly inexhaustible avenues for statistical breakdowns (How many Asian films? How many post-1968 films? Which directors received the most votes collectively? Which films fell the farthest from their 2002 placing?) are still being explored, the number-crunchers matched in enthusiasm -- or lack thereof -- only by the sniping commentators inevitably displeased with the results. Why is the list so old? Why is it so stodgy? Why is it so white? Why is it so male? Why are my own subjective favorites not accounted for? Many talk of the list as if it's compiled by some unified committee with a patent agenda against cinema from many of our lifetimes, an aggressive boner for silent cinema and a vindictive urge to take Orson Welles down a peg or two.
With NBC's comedy brand, there is the past, the present, and the hoped-for future.
Rachel Weisz was my second interview of the day at the recent press event for "The Bourne Legacy," right after I talked to Jeremy Renner, and when we walked in, she spotted my seven-year-old son Toshi, who was with me.
She said hello to him, and he smiled, more shy than normal. I told her that he was probably just recovering from how excited he was to meet Renner. Toshi was even wearing his "Avengers" t-shirt.
She nodded. "Of course," she said. "He's a superhero, after all. I can't compete with that. I'm just a weird lady in a leather dress."
Toshi might not understand the appeal of Weisz, but I was certainly pleased to sit down and chat with her again. The last time I saw her was in Montreal on the set of "The Fountain," and that encounter was a brief one because of how emotionally demanding that shoot was for both her and Hugh Jackman.
I would love to know how "Hope Springs" got made.
Sure, David Frankel's had a few hits now. "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Marley & Me" were both down-the-middle studio hits, but his last film, "The Big Year," barely got a release. It's a shame, too. It's not a great film, but it's a nice, gentle character piece that featured a restrained, charming performance by Jack Black and strong work by Steve Martin. Hard film to sell, though, no matter how it all plays in context, because it's not really loaded with the sorts of moments studios count on to help cut a comedy trailer. "Hope Springs" is even more restrained and quiet than "The Big Year," and it's the best overall film Frankel's made yet.
It helps that Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep are both masters of their craft, and they both are at their absolute best here. Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones) have been married for 31 years, and they've reached a place of quiet stalemate, each day exactly the same. They barely talk, they sleep in separate rooms, and it's been years since they were intimate. As the film starts, Kay finally finds the voice to tell Arnold that she's unhappy, and Streep is excellent at playing a woman who is lonely within her marriage but too afraid of shaking things up to find her voice. Streep plays Kay as this bundle of tension, small eruptions of emotion occasionally flashing across her face before she manages to get them under control again. Watching the way Arnold moves through their shared life, it's easy to understand how she gave up communication little by little. He's basically a statue, a ghost who blows through for a few minutes in the morning and then passes out in front of televised golf in the evening.
Tonight's theme is actability. I always thought this was a legal term, but hey, whatever works to get the kids fired up about shooting a video under conditions that would most likely result in union negotiations if this wasn't a cheap reality TV show.
The sexier announcement from Disney CEO Bob Iger was that Joss Whedon will write and direct "Avengers 2," but as a fan of both Marvel Comics and Whedon's television work, I'm actually more excited that he'll be involved in developing a live-action series for Marvel Television to air on ABC.
So it turns out Clint Eastwood was just kidding when he indicated that "Gran Torino" would be his final on-screen work. A solid Best Actor push from Warner Bros. that year didn't yield pay dirt, but it got the conversation chugging that the studio is sure to use again this year: He may have four Oscars, but he's never won for acting.
With that in mind, "Trouble with the Curve," from director Robert Lorenz (a homegrown Eastwood guy who's worked with the icon for years), could be a means to that end. The new trailer -- serendipitously launched on the 20th anniversary of "Unforgiven" -- plays it light but "meaningful" with its tease of an aging baseball scout (Eastwood) and his relationship with his daughter (Amy Adams) on a road trip.
Will this be the one? We'll have to see. The film isn't set for the fall festival circuit, though as I recently indicated, it could turn up at Telluride with a tribute for the actor to kick-start the campaign. It's set for a September 21 release, just three weeks after the Venice/Telluride/Toronto corridor closes and just before NYFF (which, on its 50th anniversary, is looking at a thin field to choose from for openers and centerpiece screenings).