Hugo tops Oscar noms with 11 nods

Hugo tops Oscar noms with 11 nods

Hugo tops Oscar noms with 11 nods

Martin Scorsese’s love letter to film, Hugo, led Tuesday’s Oscar nominations with 11, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Score, followed by another tribute to filmmaking, the black-and-white silent The Artist, which received 10 noms, including best picture, best director, best actor, best screenplay, best cinematography and best score.

The two movies are competing in the best picture category with seven others: War Horse, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, The Help, The Descendants, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. 

In the best director category, Scorsese and Michel Hazanavicius are joined by Terrence Malick (The Tree of life), Alexander Payne (The Descendants) and Woody Allen, who picked up his 7th nomination for his 41st movie, Midnight in Paris.

Meryl Streep earns a record 17th nomination for portraying Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She will be competing in the best actress category against Glenn Close (Albert Knobs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo) and Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn).

The Artist’s lead actor, Jean Dujardin, will be challenged by George Clooney (The Descendants), Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Brad Pitt (Moneyball) and British actor Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in the best actor category. It is Oldman’s first Oscar nomination since he began acting 30 years ago, in a film that was overlooked at the Globes.

Two octogenarian actors, Christopher Plummer (The Beginners) and Swedish Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close) are competing in the supporting actor category. They are joined by Jonah Hill (Moneyball), Nick Nolte (Warrior) and British star Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn).

Co-stars of The Help, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, will be competing for the best supporting actress, alongside Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), the Artist’s Bérénice Bejo and Britain’s Janet McTeer (Albert Knobs).

The best animated feature category is occupied by Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango, A Cat in Paris and the British-made Chico & Rita. They were selected from 18 eligible pics.

Iranian film A Separation, which recently triumphed in The Golden Globes and other awards, received a nod in the best original screenplay in addition to the best foreign language film category, in which it was joined by Belgian Bullhead, Israeli Footnote, Polish In Darkness and Canadian Monsieur Lazhar.

Several of the nominated pictures have been already recognized by critics, guilds and the Golden Globe, but today’s announcement ends months of speculations about this year’s murky Oscar race that lacked a clear frontrunner.

Notably missing in the nominations are Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Ryan Gosling (nominated in the Golden Globes for both Drive and Crazy, Stupid, Love) and Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin). Golden Globe winner, The Adventures of Tin Tin, and Toronto Film Festival winner, Lebanon’s Where We Go Now, failed to make it in the Animation and Foreign Film categories respectively.

The nominations were announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Tom Sherak and last year’s Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence at 5:38 am at the Academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills. 

The winners will be announced at the 84th annual Academy Awards show on Feb 26, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. The show will be hosted by Billy Crystal and broadcast live on ABC, reaching over 500 million people around the world.

The full list of nominees is as follows:


Performance by an actor in a leading role


  • Demián Bichir in A Better Life (Summit Entertainment)
  • George Clooney in The Descendants (Fox Searchlight)
  • Jean Dujardin in The Artist (The Weinstein Company)
  • Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Focus Features)
  • Brad Pitt in Moneyball (Sony Pictures Releasing)


Performance by an actor in a supporting role


  • Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn (The Weinstein Company)
  • Jonah Hill in Moneyball (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Nick Nolte in Warrior (Lionsgate)
  • Christopher Plummer in Beginners (Focus Features)
  • Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.)


Performance by an actress in a leading role


  • Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs (Roadside Attractions)
  • Viola Davis in The Help (Touchstone)
  • Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Company)
  • Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn (The Weinstein Company)


Performance by an actress in a supporting role


  • Bérénice Bejo in The Artist (The Weinstein Company)
  • Jessica Chastain in The Help (Touchstone)
  • Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (Universal)
  • Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs(Roadside Attractions)
  • Octavia Spencer in The Help (Touchstone)


Best animated feature film of the year


  • A Cat in Paris (GKIDS) Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • Chico & Rita (GKIDS) Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • Puss in Boots (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) Chris Miller
  • Rango (Paramount) Gore Verbinski


Achievement in art direction


  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Production Design: Laurence Bennett, Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Stuart Craig, Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • Hugo (Paramount) Production Design: Dante Ferretti, Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) Production Design: Anne Seibel, Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • War Horse (Touchstone) Production Design: Rick Carter, Set Decoration: Lee Sandales


Achievement in cinematography


  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Guillaume Schiffman
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony Pictures Releasing)Jeff Cronenweth
  • Hugo (Paramount) Robert Richardson
  • The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight) Emmanuel Lubezki
  • War Horse (Touchstone) Janusz Kaminski


Achievement in costume design


  • Anonymous (Sony Pictures Releasing) Lisy Christl
  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Mark Bridges
  • Hugo (Paramount)Sandy Powell
  • Jane Eyre (Focus Features) Michael O’Connor
  • W.E. (The Weinstein Company) Arianne Phillips


Achievement in directing


  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company)Michel Hazanavicius
  • The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) Alexander Payne
  • Hugo (Paramount) Martin Scorsese
  • Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) Woody Allen
  • The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight) Terrence Malick


Best documentary feature


  • Hell and Back Again (Docurama Films) A Roast Beef Limited Production,Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Oscilloscope Laboratories) A Marshall Curry Production, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory An Production, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
  • Pina (Sundance Selects) A Neue Road Movies Production, Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • Undefeated (The Weinstein Company)A Spitfire Pictures Production, TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas


Best documentary short subject


  • The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement A Purposeful Production,Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • God Is the Bigger Elvis A Documentress Films Production, Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • Incident in New Baghdad A Morninglight Films Production, James Spione
  • Saving Face A Milkhaus/Jungefilm Production, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom A Supply & Demand Integrated Production, Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen


Achievement in film editing


  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  • The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) Kevin Tent
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony Pictures Releasing) Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • Hugo (Paramount) Thelma Schoonmaker
  • Moneyball (Sony Pictures Releasing) Christopher Tellefsen


Best foreign language film of the year


  • Bullhead A Savage Film Production, Belgium
  • Footnote (Sony Pictures Classics)A Footnote Limited Partnership Production, Israel
  • In Darkness (Sony Pictures Classics) A Studio Filmowe Zebra Production, Poland
  • Monsieur Lazhar (Music Box Films)A micro_scope Production, Canada
  • A Separation (Sony Pictures Classics)A Dreamlab Films Production, Iran


Achievement in makeup


  • Albert Nobbs (Roadside Attractions)Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.) Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
  • The Iron Lady (The Weinstein Company) Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)


  • The Adventures of Tintin (Paramount) John Williams
  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Ludovic Bource
  • Hugo (Paramount) Howard Shore
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Focus Features) Alberto Iglesias
  • War Horse (Touchstone) John Williams


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)


  • Man or Muppet from The Muppets (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • Real in Rio from Rio (20th Century Fox) Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett


Best motion picture of the year


  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) A La Petite Reine/Studio 37/La Classe Américaine/JD Prod/France3 Cinéma/Jouror Productions/uFilm Production, Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • The Descendants (Fox Searchlight) An Ad Hominem Enterprises Production, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.) A Warner Bros. Pictures Production, Scott Rudin, Producer
  • The Help (Touchstone) A DreamWorks Pictures Production, Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and    Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • Hugo (Paramount) A Paramount Pictures and GK Films Production, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics) A Pontchartrain Production, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • Moneyball (Sony Pictures Releasing) A Columbia Pictures Production, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • The Tree of Life (Fox Searchlight) A River Road Entertainment Production, Nominees to be determined
  • War Horse (Touchstone) A DreamWorks Pictures Production, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers


Best animated short film


  • Dimanche/Sunday (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production, Patrick Doyon
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore A Moonbot Studios LA Production, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • La Luna (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Enrico Casarosa
  • A Morning Stroll (Studio AKA) A Studio AKA Production, Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • Wild Life (National Film Board of Canada)A National Film Board of Canada Production, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby


Best live action short film


  • Pentecost (Network Ireland Television) An EMU Production, Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • Raju A Hamburg Media School/Filmwerkstatt Production, Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • The Shore An All Ashore Production, Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • Time Freak A Team Toad Production, Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • Tuba Atlantic (Norsk Filminstitutt) A Norwegian Film School/Den Norske Filmskolen Production, Hallvar Witzø


Achievement in sound editing


  • Drive (FilmDistrict) Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ren Klyce
  • Hugo (Paramount) Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount) Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • War Horse (Touchstone)Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom


Achievement in sound mixing


  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sony Pictures Releasing) David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • Hugo (Paramount) Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • Moneyball (Sony Pictures Releasing)Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount) Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • War Horse (Touchstone) Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson


Achievement in visual effects


  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner Bros.) Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • Hugo (Paramount)Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and  Alex Henning
  • Real Steel (Touchstone) Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount) Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier


Adapted screenplay


  • The Descendants (Fox Searchlight)Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • Hugo (Paramount) Screenplay by John Logan
  • The Ides of March (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • Moneyball (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Focus Features)Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan


Original screenplay


  • The Artist (The Weinstein Company) Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  • Bridesmaids (Universal) Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • Margin Call (Roadside Attractions) Written by J.C. Chandor
  • Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Classics)Written by Woody Allen
  • A Separation (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Asghar Farhadi





Brad Pitt: Success, Money and Fame

Brad Pitt: Success, Money and Fame

Brad Pitt: Success, Money and Fame

Brad Pitt is arguably the most famous actor in Hollywood, but one could argue that the source of his fame was not his superb acting talent, but his handsome look and his headline-grabbing romantic entanglements with Hollywood’s hottest female stars. His celebrity status as a hunky Hollywood icon soared into the stratosphere in 2001, after he married the equally beautiful and popular Friends’ TV star, Jennifer Aniston. In 2003, the implosion of that marriage and dating superstar, Angelina Jolie, catapulted him into Hollywood’s ultimate celebrity, generating more tabloid headlines than any other star.

Despite his immense fame and leading man looks, Pitt has spent much of his career trying to eschew bloated box office in favour of riskier, lower profile work. Following an impressive break-through performance in Thelma and Louise (1991), he actively subverted his hunky image by taking on ugly and often crazed characters in films such as 12 Monkeys (1995), Fight Club (1999) and Snatch (2001).

Pitt has also invariably tried to downplay his handsome, heroic looks off-screen. Hence, I was not surprised when he showed up to the interviews, both in Cancun and Toronto, wearing a scruffy beard, long hair and a T-shirt. But however hard Pitt attempts to melt in with the mortals, fans will continue to treat him like a God.

The night before the interview in Toronto, I watched how the crowd erupted in wild screams, shaking the earth beneath them, when Pitt, accompanied by his partner Angelina Jolie, disembarked his limo and walked down the red carpet to attend the premiere of his new movie, Moneyball. Pitt was visibly enjoying the adulation of the masses, bumping hands, signing autographs and exchanging words with swooning adorers. These moments, Pitt told me,  remind him of the days when he waited, like his fans, to see his idols in the early days of his career.

“I remember, when I first started, that seeing people I respected suddenly made me feel special or something good was going to happen,” he smiles, reminiscing.
The superstar finds that invoking such joyous feelings in the hearts of his fans is very liberating. But he admits that fame, which opens so many doors for him wherever he goes in the world, can also be confining.

“I haven’t seen a hotel lobby in 15 years,” he exclaims. “I got to go up the ass end of the a hotel and out the same way. I’ve been in Toronto for 48 hours and I’ve only walked across the street to the premiere.”

“It’s a trade off, but we get our moments. It’s just the good and the bad,” he adds.
Indeed, unlike many of his peers, the 47-year-old actor is rarely spotted in Hollywood parties. Probably because he needs an army of bodyguards every time he ventures out of his home. But he says that he would rather devote his time to his young family.

Pitt is famously the father of six children with Angelina Jolie: Maddox, aged nine, who was adopted from a Cambodian orphanage when he was seven months; daughter Zahara, six, who was adopted from an Ethopian orphanage; biological daughter Shiloh, five, who was born in Namibia; Vietnamese Pax, six, and twins Knox and Vivienne, who are three.

“My concerns deal with family and safety and doing what is important to them,” he enthuses. “Angie and I talk about it. We made a commitment to raise a family together so everything else is secondary.”

His family, however, has not been a distraction from but a catalyst to performing in and producing high-quality movies.

“I actually enjoy it more than ever now. It’s been kind of freeing. It forces you to find projects that are worth investing your time in if it’s going to take you away from your family.”

Pitt has recently starred in Terrence Malick’s epic “The Tree of Life,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and the true-life drama, Moneyball, which he has also produced. Moneyball has received glowing reviews and is already predicted to feature prominently in this year’s awards season.

In Moneyball, Pitt inhabits the character of Billy Beane, the manager of the embattled Oakland A’s baseball team. Faced by a certain demise of his club due to the loss of his best players to bigger teams, Beane, with the help of a Yale-educated economist Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), utilizes statistical analysis to recruit overlooked and undervalued players to his team. The outcome of his method changes the way the game is played and permeated other competitive sports and even businesses.

Penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter, Steven Zaillian, Moneyball changed directors several times before it was green-lit by Sony Pictures.  In fact, the studio pulled the plug on the project after the first day of shooting with director Steven Soderbergh. But thanks to Pitt’s dogged support of the project, the studio agreed to give it another chance with a new rewrite by another Oscar-winning screenwrtier, AAron Sorkin, and a new director, Bennett Miller.

“We remounted and rebooted and started again,” Pitt smiles. “Being an unconventional story, complex material with sabre metrics and economics at the forefront of it, which is not necessarily nail biting, edge of your seat material, it was complicated to crack and it took this evolutionary period.”

Pitt’s passionate support for the movie stemmed from his determination to play Billy Beane, a fiercely competitive middle-aged family man, who, driven by a desire to win and reinvent himself, turned to management after failing to live up to expectations and become a baseball superstar.

“The film is about how we value things,” Pitt enthuses. “How we value each other and ourselves; and how we decide who’s a winner based on those values. The film questions the very idea of how to define success. At the end of the day, we all hope that what we’re doing will be of some value, that it will mean something and I think that is this character’s quest.”

Beane’s story resonates deeply with the Oklahoma-born and Missouri-raised actor, who dropped out of college in the early eighties and headed to LA with only $300 in his pocket to pursue his dream: a career in acting. Pitt took extra jobs in small movies before offers of small parts in TV shows gradually trickled in, which eventually lead to meatier roles on the big screen.  Success, he insists, came after a long string of failures.

“I see failure as the next step that leads to the next win. I don’t hang on it too much because I see things as seasonal. I’m in a cold, hard, dark winter and then it’s spring again. I won’t make that mistake again. Right that and it leads to something else.”

The Troy star believes that he learned to navigate the maze of the film business through trying and failing.

“When we are starting out, we rely on the advice from people who have been in the business. Sometimes it’s good help and sometimes it’s not because only you can decide what’s best for you. I’d made a couple of decisions that I was told were in the best career-maintenance-wise. It was all the best intentions but because I wasn’t into it, I couldn’t service or help the project. In fact, I became a weight, a hindrance to the project.”

Pitt has just wrapped shooting his first zombie movie, World War Z, in the UK. Remarkably, the only zombie movie that he has seen is Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.

While not making movies, Pitt, along with Jolie, spends his time championing charitable causes around the world. They regularly visit and donate millions of dollars to victims of natural catastrophes or military conflicts around the world, including the hurricane in New Orleans,  the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan.

Speaking to Pitt, it’s evident that he loathes the vacuity of frivolous fame and wants to be remembered not for his sultry look, but for being a great actor, a loving family man and a generous philanthropist. It’s also evident that Jolie, who has infused his life with substance by introducing him to the troubled world beyond Hollywood, is the crux of his existence.

Brad and Angelina fire up Toronto

The crowd in Toronto went crazy last night when Hollywood royal couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie emerged from their limo and glided down the the Royal Thompson Hall red carpet. Waving their hands and smiling, the couple obligingly signed autographs and  shook hands with the swooning fans.
Pitt was attending the premiere of “Moneyball”, in which he portrays the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, who pioneered a new mathematical method of evaluating players and assembling a team, which enabled him to resurrect his team from a certain failure and elevate it to the top of league.
The other stars of the movie, Jona Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anna Faris also attended the screening.
Earlier, Festival’s crowd had been treated to glimpses of the stars of George Clooney political drama “The Ides of March”: George Clooney, Paul Giamatti  Ryan Gosling, Philip  Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomie. 
Both films were enthusiastically received by film fans and critics, raising their prospect for Oscar recognition.