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Jacki Weaver (#110 of 6)

Steve McQueen’s Widows Starring Viola Davis Gets First Trailer

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Steve McQueen’s Widows Starring Viola Davis Gets First Trailer
Steve McQueen’s Widows Starring Viola Davis Gets First Trailer

Today, 20th Century Fox released the trailer for Widows, Steve McQueen’s first feature-length film since 12 Years a Slave. The film is co-written by McQueen and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, and is adapted from the 2002 ABC series Widows written by Lynda La Plante that starred Mercedes Ruehl, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, and N’Bushe Wright. The film is set in present-day Chicago and concerns four women who take fate into their hands in the wake of their criminal husbands’ deaths, forging a future on their own terms.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

Blergh. Weeks ago I dreamed a dream where all the particulars of my presently contentious relationship with Anne Hathaway, a typically smart and endearing performer who was robbed of an Oscar in 2009 for Rachel Getting Married, were manifest. At the actual Oscar ceremony, which resembled a standing room-only dinner party, I hugged Hathaway, who I referred to as my sister, as she paraded around in her Catwoman outfit, working the room with the same jacked-up excitement she exhibited days earlier opposite Chelsea Handler and Jon Stewart and hinting at all the things she’s going to do to her hubby once she gets home. Someone, probably Christopher Plummer, announces the winner in this category and the award goes to Sally Field, for illuminating through her two excellent meltdowns in Lincoln, one opposite Tommy Lee Jones, the other opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, the essence of the Steven Spielberg film as a study of the conflict between public and private modes of behavior in the arena of American politics. Shock ripples through the room, and while I should be sad for my sister, who puts on a predictably brave face, I can barely sustain my excitement at Oscar turning his beefed-up buttocks to a performance every bit as cloying as Anne’s contrived acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.

Oscar Prospects: Silver Linings Playbook

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Oscar Prospects: Silver Linings Playbook
Oscar Prospects: Silver Linings Playbook

It’s certainly easy to accuse David O. Russell of becoming a serial Oscar courter. Having clearly enjoyed the awards love showered upon The Fighter, Russell’s gone on to adapt and direct Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook, packing about five baity movies into one big crowd-pleasing quirkfest. Those who’ve followed Russell’s career will say he’s always padded banal substrates with the bizarre, but the filmmaker’s new run of Academy-friendly fare is still worlds away from his former curios, like I Heart Huckabees or Spanking the Monkey. He’s embracing the practice of bringing his gonzo tendencies to the mainstream, and if he’s indeed hoping to woo Oscar voters in the process, the plan is working. With Silver Linings Playbook, viewers are gifted a buffet of cheer-worthy tropes, all stretched along a simple narrative track and dressed with Russellian weirdness. A mental illness dramedy that deals with sports, dance, romance, and lovably grotesque relatives, it manages to feel fleetingly fresh while recalling Rocky, As Good As It Gets, Dirty Dancing, and even The Fighter too. If there’s anything especially adept about the storytelling, it’s its ability to trick an audience into buying its faux newness, and even if voters don’t fall for the recycling, they’re still liable to take the movie’s bait. With a thin batch of comedic contenders, its Best Picture nod is secured, as may be the nods for Russell’s Direction and Adapted Screenplay.

Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress
Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

While maybe not quite as tight as this category was in 2007, at which time we guessed correctly that Tilda Swinton would take the trophy from the likes of Cate Blanchett, Amy Ryan, and Ruby Dee practically by default, once again Best Supporting Actress is giving Oscar prognosticators everywhere the fear of—gasp!—getting one category wrong. The only candidate everyone feels pretty safe writing off without a qualm is Jacki Weaver, whose performance as Animal Kingdom’s quasi-incestuous Ma Barker picked up a citation from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, but whose slow-burning presence in the film doesn’t really start to accrue merit points until long after some voters could be expected to hit eject.

Oscar 2011 Nomination Predictions: Actress in a Supporting Role

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Oscar 2011 Nomination Predictions: Actress in a Supporting Role
Oscar 2011 Nomination Predictions: Actress in a Supporting Role

At least three of the spots in Oscar’s supporting actress category have been sewn up since the start of the awards season—one for triple-A method actress and Golden Globe-winner Melissa Leo in The Fighter, a second for her costar and possible Oscar-night spoiler Amy Adams, the around-the-way alpha to Leo’s Medea-like omega, with Helena Bonham Carter happy to be riding shotgun for her piffle of a performance in The King’s Speech, wondering if her winsome solicitation of Geoffrey Rush’s services for her king of a husband, or her winsome intake of stammer-proofing breath, will constitute her likely nanosecond-length Oscar clip. By most accounts, True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld is also a lock, but like everyone else, we have to ask, “In which category?”

A Movie a Day, Day 82: Animal Kingdom

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A Movie a Day, Day 82: <em>Animal Kingdom</em>
A Movie a Day, Day 82: <em>Animal Kingdom</em>

Director David Michôd wrote about movies before he made them, working as an editor on Australia’s Inside Film magazine. He must have studied his subject well, because Animal Kingdom, which opens next Friday (I saw it at a press screening), feels nothing like a rookie feature. Michôd didn’t base his characters on real people (“I felt reluctant to engage in what now seems to be a whole culture of turning criminals into celebrities,” he says in the press kit), but his fictional crime family feels chillingly real. More importantly, his film mixes documentary-style realism with fictional techniques to create a gripping story with an operatic sense of danger and dread.