Bradley Cooper has seemed very much a touch-and-go prospect in a crowded Best Actor field, but the scales slowly seem to be tipping in his favor. In contrast to the perennially ingenue-friendly Best Actress race, youngish Hollywood dreamboats can struggle to win over Academy voters, particularly for romantic and/or comic leads, so Cooper's superb work in "Silver Linings Playbook" is at a disadvantage in several ways. But after last week's unexpected win with the National Board of Review, Cooper has also landed the Desert Palm Award for Achievement in Acting at the Palm Springs Film Festival. He's the first male acting honoree announced for this publicity-heavy Oscar-season pitstop: Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Naomi Watts and the "Argo" ensemble are also getting a boost there. The list of recent Desert Palm winners includes Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges and Daniel Day-Lewis, which doesn't hurt Cooper's Oscar voodoo any. [PSIFF]
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Mel Brooks is one of the great comedy minds of the 20th century. He was part of the greatest comedy writing staff ever assembled — at various points, it included Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon and Woody Allen, among many others — for Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour." He and fellow Caesar alum Carl Reiner gave the world the 2000-Year-Old Man, and later he and Buck Henry created the classic James Bond spoof "Get Smart." And that's all before he went into the movie business and gave us "The Producers," "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein" and all the rest.
Mel Brooks is also one of the great talkers in showbiz, which is apparent if you've ever seen him on a talk show (say, telling his classic Cary Grant story on "The Tonight Show"), or if you watch him in tonight at 9 on the HBO special "Mel Brooks Strikes Back!," where he's interviewed by BBC creative director Alan Yentob about the ups and downs of his career.
Before we get started, here's a question... What the hell is up with Walter? Kenya is clearly insane, and that's fine. We know why the other women hang out with her -- Bravo makes them -- and she's highly entertaining. Few things are more enjoyable than watching a card-carrying lunatic swan around a reality TV show and annoy all the other slightly-less-loco people on the show. But she's nuts, right? I can understand that Walter finds her attractive; she was a Miss USA (or is that Miss America? Kidding!) She can be charming. But I would think when girlfriend starts yapping about how her baby oven is sad and lonely and how she needs to get married NOW NOW NOW before her ovaries dry up, he'd necessarily run from the room screening, change his cell phone number, and spend a month overseas until she stopped driving past his house, breaking windows. Kenya redefines high maintenance. She makes Mariah Carey look like she could be the chick with uncombed hair checking you through the express lane at Target. What man would willingly sign up for this walking nightmare?
Isn't this fun? The race for best picture continues to surprise at each turn. Outside of "Amour's" win with the LAFCA contingent Sunday, "Zero Dark Thirty" has emerged as the critics favorite winning NYFCC, Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review (among others). So far, the other presumed best picture frontrunners "Les Miserables," "Lincoln" and "Argo" have had to make due with just acting, directing or screenwriting honors. Of course, all this will change beginning Wednesday when SAG pipes in for its yearly honors and on Thursday when the HFPA hopes to influence something (most entertainment industry executives will tell you its ticket sales and Emmy voters). We're in the thick of it and pronouncements about the fates of contenders are being made left and right. Taking that into account, it seems appropriate to review some of these repeated refrains and determine whether or not they have any basis in reality.
Earlier this evening, I took the biggest "Star Trek" fan I know to see the nine-minute prologue that will be screened in IMAX venues in front of the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," and based on his reaction, I'd say JJ Abrams and crew have absolutely nothing to worry about when the film hits theaters in May of 2013.
Even now, at the end of the nine-minute presentation, I cannot conclusively tell you who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing. We do meet him very early in the footage, though. The film starts with an alarm clock going off, waking a married couple played by Nazneen Contractor and Noel Clarke. They quickly get ready, peeking out their window at the rainy cityscape of London in the year 2259. They drive to the London Children's Hospital to visit their little girl, who appears to be aging prematurely, sick and near-bald, completely unresponsive. Clarke walks outside to catch some air and try to pull himself together, and someone steps up behind him to say, "I can save her." Clarke turns around and we get our first look at Cumberbatch.
A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I'm sometimes called The Bear...
The British Independent Film Awards are known for surprises, and true to form, they sprung a last-minute one at tonight's ceremony. As I'd anticipated, Peter Strickland's critically beloved horror homage "Berberian Sound Studio" enjoyed a great haul, taking Best Director, Best Actor for Toby Jones and two extra prizes for production and technical achievement. But just as it seemed set to take the night, they swung left, handing the top prize to "Broken," the debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris -- an unexpected choice both because it received mixed reviews upon its Cannes premiere, and won't be released until the spring in the UK. The film won in only one other category, for Best Supporting Actor.
Over a week after their colleagues on the east coast went in big for Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," the Los Angeles Film Critics Association put the brakes on Kathryn Bigelow's film, which has been dominating the circuit. It even won two Best Picture prizes today, but one of them was not LAFCA's crown. Instead, the LA critics went with Michael Haneke's "Amour," and as a runner-up, a film clearly beloved by the group that won four other prizes, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary.
Just minutes after the Boston Society of Film Critics crowned "Zero Dark Thirty" the year's best film, the New York Film Critics Online went and did the very same thing. They also spotlighted Kathryn Bigelow in the Best Director category (as well as Mark Boal's screenplay), and, like Boston, went with Daniel Day-Lewis and Emmanuelle Riva in the lead acting categories.
Check out the full list of NYFCO winners below with running commentary.
The Boston Society of Film Critics has joined the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review in crowning "Zero Dark Thirty" the year's best film. Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director while Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") and Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") won top acting honors. The group clearly liked "Moonrise Kingdom," which won Best Use of Music and went on to pop up in a number of runner-up spots.
Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary on the winners.
1. The Grammy nominations: While there is no sure frontrunner like Adele was last year, Dec. 5’s nominations showed a wide breadth of potential mega winners on Feb. 10 as Mumford & Sons, Kanye West, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, fun., Jay-Z and Frank Ocean all receive six nominations.
2. Alicia Keys: She is truly a “Girl On Fire,” as her album’s No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 this week ties her for the most consecutive No. 1 albums by solo artists. She joins DMX, R. Kelly, Kanye West and Luther Vandross.
3. DMX: Speaking of DMX, the rapper delivers an impromptu version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” during a radio station visit and instantly creates a new classic. What?
4. Rihanna: Her domination of the pop charts isn’t enough: now the star has set her sights on TV: She will appear in “Styled To Rock,” a new Style Network series featuring 12 designers handpicked by Ri-Ri. Move over “Project Runway.”
5. Tamar Braxton: The power of Lady Gaga is undeniable. She tweets about “Love & War,” Braxton’s new single (yes, Tamar, not Toni) and the single goes straight to No. 1 on iTunes. It’s no coincidence, however: Braxton is married to Vincent Herbert, the music exec who signed a 20-year old Lady Gaga.
6. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta: The pair’s stultifyingly so-bad-it’s-good video for Christmas-themed “I Think You Might Like It” shows why you can really never go back home again. Rizzo was smart enough to stay away.
7. Justin Bieber: The teen heart throb gets the wrong kind of attention after his manager tells the Grammys they “blew it” by not nominating Bieber. Man up: You don’t see Lionel Richie crying that he didn’t get nominated for “Tuskegee,” and he sold more than Bieber.
8. Metallica: The band streams its full back catalog on Spotify, ending any lingering rift between Napster’s co-founder/Spotify investor Sean Parker, whom the band sued in 2000. The true winner? Metallica fans.
9. Superstorm Sandy Benefit: The Rolling Stones are the latest superstars added to 12/12/12’s Madison Square Garden benefit, joining Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Bon Jovi, The Who, Kanye West, and several more. You don’t have to wait for the show to donate to the Robin Hood Foundation, which will disperse the funds to communities still reeling from the storm’s devastation. Go here.
10. Led Zeppelin: The world’s greatest rock band puts on tuxes and cleans up real nice as President Obama shows them a whole lotta love at the Kennedy Center Honors.