Brits Shine at the Golden Globe Awards Nominations

Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt earn Golden Globes nominations for their roles in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

British pictures and talent dominated the 70th Golden Globe Award nominations, which were announced this morning at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. Comedies The Best Exotic Hotel and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Tom Hooper’s musical Les Miserables each gained a nomination in Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. They will be competing against Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom in the same category.

Salmon Fishing in The Yemen, also earned two nominations in the Best Performance by An Actor and Actress in Comedy or Musical for British actors Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt respectively. Two dames, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, joined Blunt in the same category, which also included Meryl Streep (Hope Springs) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook).

Ewan McGregor will be competing against Jack Black (Bernie), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Bill Murray (Hyde Park On Hudson).

British actors were also featured in the Drama section of the Golden Globes nominations. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) led the nominations in the Best Performance by An Actor, which also included Richard Gere (Arbitrage), John Hawkes (The Sessions), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) and Denzel Washington (Flight), while a third dame, Helen Mirren (Hitchcock), and Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea) were joined by Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone) and Naomi Watts (The Impossible) in the Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture.

There were no surprises in the Best Motion Picture in the drama section, which included Spielberg’s Lincoln, Ang Lee’s  Life of Pi, Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Ben Affleck’s Argo, and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Each one of the above pictures also garnered a nomination for Best Director and Best Screenplay, except Life of Pi, which lost to the script of Silver Linings Playbook.

Django Unchained also took two nominations in the Best Performance By An Actor in A supporting Role for Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. They were joined by Alan Arkin from Argo, Philip Seymour Hoffman from the Master and Tommy Lee Jones from Lincoln.

The nominations in The Best Performance by Actress in A Supporting Role category were bestowed on Nicole Kidman (Paperboy), Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Helen Hunt (The Sessions).

British pop star Adele lead the nomination in the Best Original Song for Skyfall in the recent Bond movie. She was joined by Keith Urban (For You – Act of Valour), Jon Bon Jovi (Not Running Anymore – Stand Up Guys), Claude-Michel Schonberg (Suddenly – Les Miserables) and Taylor Swift (Safe & Sound – The Hunger Games).

Counting nominations per movie this year reveals that Lincoln is the frontrunner with 7 nods, followed by Argo and Django Unchained, both of which have 5 nods.

The Golden Globes also honours TV in similar categories, namely it splits the awards into Drama and Comedy/musical. Like in Films, the TV nominations were dominated by British talent.

British series, Downton Abbey, which won the Golden Globes last year, gained 3 nominations including in the Best Television Series – Drama alongside Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, The Newsroom and Breaking Bad; and in The Best Performance by an Actress in Television Series – Drama for Michelle Dockery, who will be competing against Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Claire Danes (Homeland), Glenn Close (Damages) and Connie Britton (Nashville); and in The Best Performance By An Actress In a Supporting Role for Dame Maggie Smith, who was joined by fellow Brit Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Sarah Paulson (Game Change), Hayden Panettiere (Nashville) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family).

BBC drama The Hour was honoured with a nomination in the Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television alongside Game Change, The Girl, Hatfields and McCoys and Political Animals.

In the same category, Brit Sienna Miller received a nod for Best Performance By an Actress for her role as Tippi Hedren in The Girl. She was joined by Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn), Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum), Julianne Moore (Game Change) and Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals). In the meantime, Miller’s co-star Toby Jones earned a nomination for Best Performance by an Actor, as Alfred Hitchcock. He will be competing against fellow Brits Clive Owen (Hemingways & Gellhorn)  and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), and  Woody Harrelson (Game Change) and Kevin Costner (Hatfield & McCoys).

British Actor Damian Lewis (Homeland) led the nominations in the Best Performance By an Actor in Television – Drama, which also included Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom).

Musical Smash and Comedies The Big Bang Theory, Episodes, Girls and Modern Family each won a nomination in the Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical.

Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), who will be hosting the Golden Globe awards show next month, were among the nominees in the Best Performance by An Actress in a Television series, which also included Lena Dunham (Girls), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) and Zooey Deschanel (New Girl).

The Golden Globe Awards are the most important awards in the film industry after the Oscars. They are voted for by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is composed of 90 Hollywood-based journalists, who represent international media outlets. The awards will be announced at the Golden Globe Awards show, which will be broadcast live in the US on NBC on 13 January, 2013.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel rejuvenated by Screen Actors Guild

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel cast

British comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which tells the story of a group of elderly Brits who retire to a ramshackle Indian Hotel, won two nominations at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) on Wednesday: best ensemble and best supporting actress for Dame Maggie Smith.

Dame Maggie was also nominated in SAG’s best actress on television category for her matriarchal role in the British period series Downton Abbey, which has also picked the a nomination for best ensemble and best actress for Michelle Dockery in TV drama.

Those with the most nods, however, were Steven Spielberg’s political drama Lincoln, Tom Hooper’s musical Les Miserables and David O’Russell’s comedy Silver Linings Playbook, each earning 4 nominations including best ensemble.

Lincoln, which follows US president Abraham Lincoln in his battle to outlaw slavery, gained nominations for lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis, and supporting actors Sally Field, who plays his wife, and Tommy Lee Jones, who plays a radical conservative congressman.

Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, gained nominations in the best actor, best actress and best supporting actor categories respectively for their roles in the quirky Silver Linings Playbook.

Les Miserables’s lead Hugh Jackman earned a nomination for best actor, alongside his co-star Anne Hathaway who took a best supporting actress nomination.

Ben Affleck’s political thriller was last in the list of best ensemble nominations. The film took another nomination for Alan Arkin in the best supporting category.

John Hawkes, who plays a sex-craving disabled man in The Sessions, and Denzel Washington, who plays a drunkard pilot in Flight, each gained a nomination for best actor.

In the best actress category, Jennifer Lawrence will be competing against Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Dame Helen Mirren (Hitchcock), Naomi Watts (The Impossible).

Joaquin Phoenix failed to gain a nomination for his role in the Master, but his co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman did get one in the best supporting actor category, alongside Javier Bardem (Skyfall), Robert De Niro, Alan Arkin and Tommy Lee Jones.

There were no surprises in the TV nominations. The best ensemble cast nomination in Drama were bestowed on former winners: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Homeland and Mad Men.

The rest of the nominations were dominated by the cast of the above shows. Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Damian Lewis (Homeland) each earned a nomination for best actor in a TV drama. They were joined by Jeff Daniels, who plays a news anchor in the new show The Newsroom.

Claire Danes (Homeland), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story) will be competing against Dame Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery in the best actress in drama category.

30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Glee, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie and The Office were the nominees in the Best Ensemble cast in a TV comedy.

Nicole Kidman, who gained a nomination for Supporting Actress in the film Paperboy, was also nominated for Best Actress for playing war reporter Gellhorn alongside Clive Owen in the TV movie Hemingway and Gellhorn. Owen was nominated for Best Actor for playing Hemingway.

The SAG nominations are a strong predictor of Academy Awards, because actors make up the largest voting group for the Oscars. SAG’s awards will be given out on Jan 27th in a live telecast on America’s TBS and TNT networks.

Rachel Weisz wins Best Actress at the New York Critics Circle Awards

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea

The New York Critics Circle surprised awards prognosticators by skipping Oscar front-runners Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and awarding Rachel Weisz the Best Actress for her performance as the unfaithful wife in Terence Davies’ drama The Deep Blue Sea. The film, that earned her the same honour from the London critics a year ago, had a limited release in the US this March.

The group gave the Best Picture of 2012 to Zero Dark Thirty, which follows the true events leading to the killing of Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden. The director of the movie Kathryn Bigelow was honored as the Best Director and Greig Fraser as the Best Cinematographer. Bigelow won the same award in 2009 for The Hurt Locker.

The Best Actor award went to British actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who is the favourite to win the Oscar for portraying Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. His co-star, Sally Field was named the Best Supporting Actress for playing the First Lady. The scribe of the movie, Tony Kushner, won the Best Screenplay.

Matthew McConaughey received the Best Supporting Actor for his performances in two movies: as a Texas D.A. in Bernie and a male stripper in Magic Mike.

Michael Haneke’s Cannes Film Festival winner, Amour, about an octogenarian Parisian coping with his wife’s debilitating illness, won the Best Foreign Film.

Tim Burton’s 3-D stop animation comedy-horror story Frankenweenie took the Best Animation. The film tells the story of a boy who brings his dog back to life.

The New York critics group’s choices, which were announced today, are the first of the awards season. Among the strong Oscar contenders missing in their awards were Argo, Flight, Hobbit, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, The Master, Silver Linings Playbook and Rust and Bones.

Daniel Day-Lewis Reveals How He Brought Lincoln To Life

Husam Asi with Daniel Day-Lewis

When I meet actors, I  usually sense some resemblance between them and the characters they portray on the screen, but when Daniel Day-Lewis ambled into the room in Beverly Hills’ Four Season Hotel, I could not perceive in him any of the traits of the characters he has portrayed on screen, such as the savagery of the butcher in Gangs of New York or the ruthlessness of the oil barren in There Will Be Blood or the charisma of the eponymous Lincoln, who he has recently brought to life in Spielberg‘s new picture.

Dressed casually and smiling kindly, the shy, softly spoken actor has always struggled to explain the magic of his utter physical and mental transformation into other humans, insisting that it should remain a mystery, but he is willing to share some of his prepping techniques.

“Of course, there are a lot of obvious practical things that need to be done,” he begins. “It’s fairly clear what you need to learn about things that are absolutely beyond your frame of reference. But really all the work in the end is just the work of the imagination, trying to draw the elements together, finding those corresponding elements in your life with the life of the character, allowing them to create for yourself the illusion that you can enter into the life of that person, experience the life through them.”

And he has done it all over again in Lincoln, which focuses on the final four months of 16th American President’s life as he fought for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, and strove to unite a nation torn apart by the Civil War. The tumultuous period provides a crucible to display everything Lincoln was made of, both his folksiness and fortitude, his charm and humour and his gentleness and compassion.

“I know I am not Abraham Lincoln – I’m not daft,” the 6’4” tall actor continues. “But I choose to believe for a period of time or shut out the voice in me that would say ‘you’re not Abraham Lincoln.’  So it really is just that simple game of make believe that we play as children and some of us never stop playing and others get on with the serious life and everything is at the service of that.”

But one could hardly describe Day-Lewis’s physically- and mentally-demanding methods as a game.  The actor, who made his first big break on screen in as a swaggering punk in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), immerses himself so deeply in his characters that he often risks drowning. He broke two ribs while impersonating the contorted Irish writer Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989); he lived rough in the wilderness and learned to track animals to play a frontiersman in Last of the Mohicans (1993); he spent time in a prison cell and endured the humiliating punishment of prison officers to play an IRA bomber in In the Name of the Father (1993); and refused medical treatment when he was struck by a bout of pneumonia while shooting Gangs of New York (2002), because such a treatment wouldn’t be available to his 18th century character.

His harsh methods seem like self flagellation, but Day-Lewis insists that he derives a profound joy and pleasure from his work. “I take a lot of time getting ready for any piece of work. That’s where the pleasure is for me. When you go to those lengths to create a life that’s believable to you, it seems much stranger to me the notion that you jump in and out of it all day long so it just makes sense to me really to carry on, exploring that life that you’ve taken the trouble to invent, I suppose, on set,” he explains.

Day-Lewis’ deep commitment to his craft hasn’t been in vain. It has gained him numerous awards including two Oscars for  his roles in My Left Foot and There will Be Blood  in addition to 2 Academy Award nominations for his performances in The Name of the Father and Gangs of New York. But he insists that his only drive is the love of acting and utter dedication to his craft. In fact, he is so selective of the roles offered to him that sometimes it takes him years to commit to a project. Hence in spite of being considered one of the best actors of his generation, we see him only occasionally on the big screen.

“I know myself well enough to know when it’s time to work and I was blessed actually with a pretty good sense from an early age,” he smiles. “I’ve always felt within all creative fields that it’s much less to do with whatever gift you might have for that work rather more to do with whether you are compelled to do that work to the exclusion of everything else and so I work when I feel the compulsion.”

But even when his mind is settled on a project, a sense of trepidation of failing and responsibility to the director and his colleagues remain heavy on his heart. Those feelings were particularly overwhelming when he was cast by Spielberg to play the iconic American President.

“I would not wish to be the person that forever desecrated the memory of the most loved President this country has ever known,” he reflects with an earnest look in his eyes. “So I had to ask myself whether I could genuinely serve this story and serve Steven and I wasn’t sure if I could do that. It seemed an outlandish idea to take somebody that grew up in southeast London and just make him the President of the United States. Not any president,” laughs the London-born.

Nonetheless, once he had accepted the job, he completely immersed himself into the world of Lincoln, reading over a 100 carefully-selected books about the legendary president, losing weight, and spending almost a year with the makeup artist to achieve a complete physical transformation into his new role. “My approach was the same approach I have to any piece of work which is to try and to create an understanding for myself in a very personal way of a life. I had a year to prepare and at a certain moment the books are put to one side and the real work begins, which is always the same thing I suppose a work of the imagination, because I’ve never been in any position of authority over anything or anybody,” he laughs, gazing down at the desk.

However, Day-Lewis, who’s fathered 4 children, found some common ground with Lincoln’s affectionate care for his family. In spite of his absence from home for long periods of time, Lincoln always made sure he came home and spent time with his sons. In fact, he rarely exerted authority on them, providing them a free rein to roam the White House, sometimes to the detriment of the valuable objects that adored the president’s home.

Lincoln’s compassion extended beyond his family, who were the pillar of his life, but also to other people and even for animals. “It would be preposterously arrogant to suggest I had any similarities with that man,” Day-Lewis says humbly. “But I could recognise a corresponding element I suppose and his humour which was just so delicious to me to discover.”

Indeed, Day-Lewis was surprised to unveil an incredible wit and humour behind the impenetrably thoughtful image of Lincoln that we have become used to. Apparently, the former president never missed an opportunity to tell a joke even in the darkest hours of the American Civil War. “His humour allowed me to be playful perhaps in a more noticeable way,” quips Day-Lewis, who had mostly played dark and serious characters, which he suspects has given the false impression that he takes himself too seriously.

“I think you have a responsibility to take the work seriously but it’s very important that you don’t take yourself seriously,” he intones. “But playfulness is really the work I do. Even when you tell a very hard story about hard things, that has within it great sadness, loss and violence, we still have to be playful with that. It’s a game, but it’s a game that you play seriously,” he smiles.

Indeed, the star takes his game very seriously. Once he finds his character and inhabits him, he never lets go until the end of the shoot. His co star, Sally Field, who plays Lincoln wife, said earlier that Day-Lewis used to send her texts during the night about matrimonial chores, while shooting the movie.

“It would be misleading to think that I was engaged in some 4 or 5 month flirtation with an actress that I was working with,” he chucked embarrassingly. “I am sorry to debunk the myth that if I’m making a film in the Middle Ages, I live in the Middles Ages. I try as far as possible to do without the trappings of modern life if that’s the story I’m telling, but there are certain forms of communications that I’m very grateful for, and a text is a very brief and easy way to stay in communication with people I need to feel that connection with, and that includes all the actors I’m working with.”

Having chosen to live away from the limelight, the 57-year-old, who lives in Ireland with his sons and wife Rebecca Miller, doesn’t nurture close relationships with his peers, but he studies their work carefully before he embarks on a project with them. “I don’t need to know by what means they arrive at that character. All I need is to feel that there’s a living truth there in front of me,” he says.

Day-Lewis truly marvels at the centre of this great ensemble of actors in Lincoln, his performance is like a conductor’s baton to all of them, as he completely disappears into his character with small details and grand gestures. His performance transcends acting and becomes magic, which undoubtedly will not go unnoticed by the Academy Awards this season.

Having grown up idolising Lincoln from a very young age, Day-Lewis is grateful to have been given the chance to explore his life and touch his spirit. Getting closer to the great man was a tremendous privilege that he will cherish for the rest of his life. Hence it was hard for him to part company with his idol.

“It’s over but the beautiful thing in this case is that I can now go back to loving Lincoln from the other side of the line,” he laughs, contently.