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Oscars 2014 review: Who were the real heroes of an endless night?

Despite a terrifically loose Ellen DeGeneres, the first half of the Oscars was the type of slog that makes you wonder if your friends who don’t watch TV are onto something.

Last night got off to a dreadfully slow start – Ellen’s great monologue aside, which included that surprising and just-this-side-of-cruel dig on Liza Minnelli. From the beginning the show was almost fatally crippled by the thick-with-self-regard theme of “Heroes in Hollywood.” That meant puffy, poorly edited montages of  animated heroes, action heroes, and those ordinary among us who commit quiet acts of heroism (you know, average Joes like Abraham Lincoln and Muhammad Ali). Amy Adams spoke for all of us suffering quietly at home when she got caught checking her phone during Harrison Ford’s snoozy line reading of some Best Picture nominees.

The choice to have Bette Midler sing her old weepy “Wind Beneath My Wings” after the In Memoriam montage felt cheap and manipulative. (The segment producers could take notes from the elegance of Bill Murray, whose introduction of Harold Ramis as a 6th Best Cinematographer nominee was as poignant as it was understated.) And I think I speak for parents everywhere who cursed the whole production for holding Idina Menzel’s performance of “Let It Go” until the end after we promised our young children they could stay up and watch. (#John Travolta, you’re a mess.)

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This Week's Cover: Oscar front-runners Cate Blanchett and Lupita Nyong'o sit for candid chat

We’re in the final stretch of this year’s Oscar season, and Entertainment Weekly‘s latest issue is here to bring you all you need to know before the big night.

This week’s cover story features a sit-down with two Oscar hopefuls — the veteran Cate Blanchett (the front-runner in the lead actress category for her role as a fallen socialite in Blue Jasmine) and the newcomer Lupita Nyong’o (a lead contender in the supporting actress race for scene-stealing part as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave). The two discuss the never-ending award season, what they love most about their jobs and their hopes for the future.

Blanchett, who has spent the past six years running a theater company in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, discusses her fraught relationship with her chosen profession. “I’m constantly running away from acting,” she says. “I have to get seduced back into it each time.” READ FULL STORY

Jimmy Kimmel playfully slams Matt Damon -- VIDEO

Matt Damon just can’t catch a break from Jimmy Kimmel. “Sincere apologies to Matt Damon; we ran out of time for him tonight,” he once ended an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!… and then ended multiple more shows like that, making the Oscar-winner the butt of a long-running joke.

Damon “took over” the show last year to get back at Kimmel, beginning his monologue with, “Welcome to tonight’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Sucks.” He then asked the audience, “Is it weird to see a person with actual talent host this show?” Burn.

But the friendly feud continues. Last night, Kimmel welcomed the star-studded cast of The Monuments Men, including Damon. He introduced Damon last, saying, “I’m being told we have to bring out our next guest. Our next guest is an actor at best who only has one Oscar. He’s here because the band didn’t show up. Please welcome, the least of the Monuments Men, Matt Damon.”

Damon came out to find no seats available for him and when he asked about the lack of seating, Kimmel tried to ignore the request and continued interviewing the other actors. “Was he like this the whole time on the set?” he asked the rest of the cast, as Guillermo brought Damon a baby chair.

“Now a lot of people said Matt Damon didn’t have the chops to be, you know, acting-wise to be part of a group like this,” Kimmel said to George Clooney. Damon shot back, “Nobody said that, what are you talking about?” Clooney started to reply when Kimmel interrupted: “No, I didn’t expect an answer, I just wanted to get that on the record — that a lot of people said that.”

Clooney then gets in on the ragging, and Cate Blanchett even made a joke at the actor’s expense. When Kimmel pointed out that Blanchett shares most of her scenes with Damon, she commented, “I have great respect for the work of the Make-A-Wish foundation.” She then ruffled Damon’s hair, because no one can be mad at you if you ruffle their hair. Or maybe that just applies to Cate Blanchett.

Watch the entire clip below: READ FULL STORY

SAG Awards 2014: Relive the best moments in two minutes -- VIDEO

During Saturday night’s SAG Awards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus channeled her Veep character and Matthew McConaughey talked about traveling to Neptune — and then Cate Blanchett made fun of McConaughey for his Neptune speech.

These were just some of the best moments from the show. If you watched and want to relive the ceremony, or if you missed it and need a crash course, check out the video below:
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Backstage at the SAG Awards: What the winners didn't say on TV

On stage during the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the big winners were the ensemble casts of American Hustle, Modern Family, and Breaking Bad. But backstage at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, the stars opened up in ways they didn’t at the podium.

Supporting actor winner Jared Leto, who continued his awards-show momentum with another win for his supporting role in Dallas Buyers Club, thanked his mother (and date for the evening) for always encouraging him to pursue his creative dreams. To prepare to play the transgender woman Rayon, Leto said he sought out transgender people as mentors to help him develop Rayon’s voice and physicality. Attention, Thirty Second of Mars fans: The band will play in Mexico on Tuesday and continue its worldwide tour through the rest of the year.

Lupita Nyong’o, a budding fashionista and Supporting Actress winner for 12 Years a Slave, seemed humbled by all the attention she has been getting this awards season because of her wardrobe choices. “I appreciate the fashion world as an art form,” she said, “but I never want it to take over my acting.” Nyong’o gave reporters a quick lesson in the pronunciation of her last name — it’s NYON-go — and noted the universality of her movie even outside the U.S.: “Slavery is an institution that affected a lot more places than just America.”

The cast of Modern Family, celebrating the show’s fourth consecutive award for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series, is preparing to hit the road. They head to Las Vegas tomorrow to film an episode, and producers are planning another this season to be shot in Australia. Though there’s still no script for the Down Under episode, Julie Bowen did reveal that producers had asked her if she was afraid of heights or fanged animals. (Bowen’s onscreen hubby Ty Burrell, who won Male Actor in a Comedy Series, had better be careful.)

Michael Douglas, whose performance as Liberace in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra has earned a SAG as well as an Emmy and Golden Globe, noted that Steven Soderbergh’s film was released theatrically outside the U.S. (and even picked up several BAFTA nominations earlier this month). Though he says he contractually can’t say anything about his role in Marvel’s upcoming Ant-Man movie starring Paul Rudd, Douglas says his kids are happy to see him working as an actor again after “a few years where I just made pancakes.”

Undeterred by construction noise outside, Julia Louis-Dreyfus couldn’t contain her excitement about winning Best Actress in a TV Comedy for Veep. Even better, just before entering the press room Louis-Dreyfus heard from fellow SAG winner Helen Mirren that the dame is a fan of the show. “That’s kind of cool, right?” said Louis-Dreyfus. But when asked if she would ever consider a real career in politics, the former Seinfeld star firmly said, “No, you don’t want me to be president.”

Speaking of Mirren, the actress admitted that not only was she surprised by her SAG Award (“I so didn’t expect to win”) but her role in the HBO movie Phil Spector was a last-minute thing as well. When Bette Midler injured her neck after one week of filming, director David Mamet  Helen Mirren on vacation in Italy and asked if she would step in and start filming the next day! “The whole landscape of drama on film is changing rapidly,” she said, citing the work of HBO, Showtime, and streaming sites like Netflix. “I’m just happy to still be working at a time when things are changing.”

“I’m the lady who said the bad word,” joked Rita Moreno as she entered the press room. The member of the elite EGOT club was delighted to add a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award to her mantle. She admitted concern about the one-minute time limit she was given for her speech — “Wait a minute. I’m Puerto Rican! I can’t even say hello in one minute!” — but appreciated her introduction by longtime friend and former Electric Company costar Morgan Freeman.

The cast of Breaking Bad continued its post-final-season victory tour, picking up the award for won for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series. Aaron Paul, who dubbed it “the longest, greatest goodbye ever,” said he started rewatching the series when they began filming the final eight episodes (he’s still only on season two). Bryan Cranston, who also won Best Male Actor in a Drama Series, gave full credit to the press for supporting the gritty series. The cast said they hope to stay in touch with one another — thanks primarily to shared enthusiasm for golf and tequila shots. Paul said, “We knew from day one that these friendships wouldn’t die when the show died.”

Amy Adams said she can’t wait to bring home her SAG Award for her work on the American Hustle ensemble to her 3-year-old daughter, Aviana. “She’s gonna like this one a lot,” said Adams. Alluding to the fact that the statuette depicts an anatomically accurate naked man, she added, “A particular aspect of this one she will find fascinating.” Costar Jennifer Lawrence, cursing at Bradley Cooper when he ducked out early, fielded a question about working back-to-back with director David O. Russell on Silver Linings Playbook and Hustle. “David doesn’t change,” she said. “He stays the same.” And acting veteran Robert De Niro revealed that the biggest challenge of his brief cameo in Hustle was learning Arabic.

Cate Blanchett, a winner for Blue Jasmine, sang some of her favorite Beatles tune “When I’m Sixty-Four” for reporters and said that she hopes Australian customs agents would be kind to her with all the new awards she’ll be toting back home with her.

Matthew McConaughey said that the hardest part about losing weight to play an AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club was deciding to do it. “I became a nice little hermit and enjoyed it,” he said. “In a very literal sense, I was hungry for knowledge, research, information. Trying to get to the core of my man.” When filming was done, McConaughey’s first indulgence was an ultimate cheeseburger that took the actor 45 minutes to mentally prepare to eat. “The friend I was with had finished his dessert before I took my first bite.”

 

 

Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, and Oprah star in 'whimsical' New York Times movie shorts

A Script, a Performer, and a Camera. Technically, that’s all you need to make a movie. But that formula is so much more fun when the script is written by the likes of Spike Jonze and J.C. Chandor, the actors include Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett, and the filmmaker is Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.

The New York Times paired together some of the year’s top moviemaking talent for their Movies Issue, and handed them to Kaminski to make 11 original short films. “Most of the vignettes are slightly whimsical and off-center,” said Kaminski in a short behind-the-scene video (see below).

In the shorts, Robert Redford briefly explains his feelings for tofu, Michael B. Jordan plays an existential cowboy, and Blue is the Warmest Color‘s Adèle Exarchopoulos jumps up and down on a trampoline (making the argument that a Script isn’t exactly the cinematic equal of Performer and a Camera.)

Click below to see two of the shorts, starring Oprah Winfrey and Chiwetel Ejiofor, as well as the behind the scenes video. Then click over to the Times “Making a Scene” hub to see the other nine. READ FULL STORY

Cate, Angelina, Charlize -- Why Oscar winners know 'Evil Queen' is the way to go

Win an Oscar, become evil?

That seems to be the new trend with the news that Cate Blanchett may be playing the Evil Stepmother in a Cinderella remake. She joins Angelina Jolie, who will be portraying Maleficent in an upcoming Sleeping Beauty film, and Charlize Theron and Julia Roberts, who this year both starred as the Evil Queen in Snow White movies

It’s tempting to say that this is a sad commentary on the roles for 35-plus women in Hollywood who can no longer play “The Girlfriend.” As Tina Fey wrote, “The definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to f— her anymore,” but while Fey definitely has a point about Hollywood, I don’t think ageism is on display here. These women are still getting complex roles post-Oscar — Theron’s Young Adult, Jolie’s A Mighty Heart — but when a big-budget fairy tale comes knocking, it’s the villain — never the princess — that is the most fascinating and delicious role to play. If we’re going to rally around a cause about women in Hollywood — and there are plenty of issues about women’s opportunities and portrayals on screen — this isn’t the one.

Kids might grow up dreaming of golden-voiced maidens and courageous princes, but adults come to appreciate that the villains are often the most interesting people in the story. Power, intrigue, cunning: What’s not to love? READ FULL STORY

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