Emma Stone has won the SAG Award for Best Actress for her memorable portrayal of a struggling but savvy actress in the musical comedy-drama “La La Land.”

Stone won the award Sunday night near the end of ceremonies at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. She topped Amy Adams for “Arrival,” Emily Blunt for “The Girl on the Train,” Natalie Portman for “Jackie,” and Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Upon accepting the Actor, Stone praised her fellow nominees, saying, “you are the greatest and your talent and intelligence are mind-blowing.”

Stone was nominated for an Academy Award for the role along with Portman, Streep, Isabelle Huppert for “Elle” and Ruth Negga for “Loving.” She won the Golden Globe on Jan. 8 in the Best Actress in a comedy/musical category.

“La La Land” follows Stone’s character Mia Dolan and Ryan Gosling’s musician Sebastian Wilder as they fall in and out of love amid the backdrop of an  idealized, candy-colored modern-day Los Angeles.

“Ryan, you’re the best. That’s just the truth,” Stone told her costar.

Stone mentioned in her speech that she occasionally feels insecure about what she does but was cut off as the broadcast ran long. She said backstage that she shared the concerns about President Donald Trump.

“We have to speak up against injustice and kick some ass,” she said. “Staying silent only helps the oppressor.”

The SAG Award for Best Actress has been a strong predictor of Oscar sentiment with the last four SAG winners going on to take the Oscar, including Brie Larson last year for “Room.” The Academy last diverged in 2012 when Streep won for “The Iron Lady” after Viola Davis took the SAG trophy for “The Help.”

Stone was nominated two years ago for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the role of a recovering drug addict and the daughter of Michael Keaton’s title character in 2014’s “Birdman.” She was part of the ensemble casts of “The Help” and “Birdman,” both which won SAG cast awards.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/awards/sag-awards-emma-stone-best-actress-sag-award-for-la-la-land-1201972633/

The 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards kicked off on a political note with Ashton Kutcher opening the show by speaking out for “everyone in airports that belong in my America,” and it didn’t let up throughout.

In addition to “Veep” winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who read the Writers Guild’s statement against Donald Trump’s immigration ban and spoke up as the daughter of an immigrant horrified by what she called the “un-American” ban. Taylor Schilling spoke directly to the point in accepting an award on behalf of the cast of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.”

“We stand up here representing a diverse group of people,” Schilling said, “representing generations of families who have sought a better life here from places like Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ireland — and we know that it’s going to be up to us and all of you to keep telling stories that show what unites us is stronger than the forces that seek to divide us.”



SAG Awards Winners (Complete List)


Meanwhile, Mahershala Ali — supporting actor winner for “Moonlight” — spoke heartfelt words about empathy and understanding in line with the themes of the film.

“What I’ve learned from working on ‘Moonlight’ is you see what happens when you persecute people: they fold into themselves,” Ali said. “What I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community and taking that opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered and tell him that it was OK and accept him, and I hope that we do a better job of that.”

Ali converted to Islam 17 years ago, but he didn’t speak directly to Trump’s new policy. Instead, he kept things personal, putting a face on the divisions the legislation continues to stoke.

“When we get caught up in the minutiae and the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique. And there’s the opportunity to go to war about it and to say that that person is different from me. ‘I don’t like you, so let’s battle.’ My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called to tell her that I converted. But I tell you now, we put things to the side and I’m able to see her, she’s able to see me, we love each other, the love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”

“The People v. O.J. Simpson” star Sarah Paulson, in collecting yet another award for the FX miniseries this season, called on viewers to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization scored three victories Saturday and early Sunday morning with federal judges staying the ban in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts. It has reportedly collected over $24 million in donations since Saturday morning.

“It’s a vital organization that protects the rights of everyone in this country,” Paulson said.

Backstage, Paulson clarified her decision to speak out on the subject. “I am not an immigrant. I was born here, so in terms of how I can speak about it, from a personal standpoint from my youth or something wasn’t available to me. I just wanted to have an opportunity to mention the inclusivity that I think is required right now and I think the ACLU is representative of that across the board. And they do in general really rely on funds from people like you and me.”



Julia Louis-Dreyfus Makes Passionate Political Speech at SAG Awards


And some even injected humor with their sentiments. Comedy lead actor winner William H. Macy, for instance, quipped that he’d “like to thank president Trump for making Frank Gallagher seem so normal,” referencing his character from Showtime’s “Shameless.”

And “All the Way” star Bryan Cranston, who won the prize for actor in a miniseries or TV movie, said he is often asked what Lyndon Johnson would think about Trump.

“I honestly feel that 36 would put his arm around 45 and earnestly wish him success,” Cranston said. “And he would also whisper something in his ear that he often said, as a form of encouragement, and as a cautionary tale: ‘Just don’t piss in the soup that all of us got to eat.'”

Backstage, Cranston went on: “There’s a lot of strife in our world and in our country. I think it’s important to embrace the good things that we have as well. The collective of creative people coming together and talking about the issues, as you’ve seen tonight, is alive. And this is what artists do best. They take the anguish, anxiety or fear and put it back into work and hopefully it creates a groundswell of understanding and acceptance and compassion.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/awards/sag-awards-trumps-immigration-ban-top-of-mind-for-many-winners-1201972848/

Denzel Washington has won the SAG Award for best actor for his role in the intense drama “Fences.”

The award was announced Sunday night in a ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

He topped a strong field that included Andrew Garfield for “Hacksaw Ridge,” Ryan Gosling for “La La Land,” Viggo Mortensen for “Captain Fantastic,” and Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea.” All five were nominated for the best actor Academy Award earlier this week.



SAG Awards Winners: Complete List


Affleck was widely expected to take the prize, and even Washington looked shocked when his name was called.

“I am a God-fearing man,” he said upon receiving the award. “I’m supposed to have faith but I didn’t have faith.”

Washington went on to list some of the groundbreaking playwrights who inspired him: Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, and of course, “Fences” scribe August Wilson. Choked up, he regarded the writers as “the guys that don’t get recognized.”

Washington saved his biggest praise for his on-screen wife, Viola Davis, who had won the Actor earlier in the evening for supporting actress.

“One last thing: Viola Davis,” the actor/director simply said, to a cheering audience. “Fences” was also nominated for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, which went to “Hidden Figures.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/awards/sag-awards-denzel-washington-best-actor-fences-1201972620/

The 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild went as expected — it’s an organization that has a habit of rewarding frontrunners and repeat winners, after all. So it came as little surprise that Emma Stone and Viola Davis took home trophies.

But the voters did manage to keep things interesting, with a few notable curveballs.

SURPRISE: “Stranger Things”



SAG Awards Winners: Complete List


The retro thriller’s win was the upset of the night. Not only did the Netflix sleeper hit end “Downton Abbey’s” two-year long reign at the SAG Awards, but it also triumphed over Emmy champion “Game of Thrones.” With “Game” out of contention this year, the kids certainly now have the momentum.

SURPRISE: William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Even William H. Macy acknowledged he was shocked when his name was called over two-time reigning champ Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”). As we said in our predictions, there’s usually nothing SAG likes more than a repeat winner. But Macy’s Frank Gallagher on the Showtime dramedy does have his charms.

SURPRISE: Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”

To be sure, Bryan Cranston delivered a bravura performance as Lyndon B. Johnson in HBO’s gripping biopic — the role earned him a Tony as well. But like the lawyer he played on FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance was widely expected to win here, too.

SURPRISE: Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Casey Affleck had completely dominated the circuit leading into the night. But in the end it was “Fences” star Denzel Washington, winning his first-ever SAG award, who shocked in the best actor field. Only four times has the best actor Oscar gone a different direction from SAG, and the last time was 13 years ago. We officially have an exciting race here.

SURPRISE: “Hidden Figures”

The smart money was on “Moonlight” to claim the film ensemble prize, particularly as it’s seemingly been “La La Land’s” biggest competition for best picture all season long. But in the end, SAG pulled a fast one, honoring the cast of “Hidden Figures” and giving the film a wonderful opportunity to make its case for the industry’s top honor. Taraji P. Henson’s speech, part and parcel of a whole night’s worth of politically-leaning sentiments, no doubt earned the film a ton of votes.

SNUB: “Westworld”

HBO’s new sci-fi drama entered the night with a list-topping three nominations, but went home empty-handed. (And “Game of Thrones,” which also had three noms, had to settle for a stunt ensemble trophy.) The SAG voters just don’t like genre…. except when it comes in a ’80s package.

SNUB: “Downton Abbey”

The two-time winner for best drama ensemble was finally dethroned in its final season by those plucky kids from “Stranger Things.” Thanks for the memories, Grantham family.

SNUB: “Manchester by the Sea”

It wasn’t just Casey Affleck who went home empty-handed from the “Manchester” crew but every other nominee, too: Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges and the film’s cast. That’s quite the dismissal of a movie built on incredible performances.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/in-contention/sag-surprises-stranger-things-hidden-figures-screen-actors-guild-awards-1201972653/

From Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ jokes, to Mahershala Ali’s emotional heart-to-heart, to David Harbour and Taraji P Henson’s powerful statements, this year’s SAG Awards blended politics and humor, giving us plenty of unforgettable quips.

In case you missed them, here are ten of the best quotes from the 2017 SAG Awards show.

“My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I’m an American patriot and I love this country, and because I love this country I am horrified by its blemishes, and this immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American.” — Julia Louis Dreyfus attacking President’s Trump’s ban on immigration in her Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series acceptance speech.

“I would like to go against the stream this evening and thank President Trump for making Frank Gallagher seem so normal.” — William H. Macy upon winning the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, referencing the character he plays in “Shameless.”

“Stick it to the man!” — The “Captain Fantastic” cast in unison, replying to the call to arms from two of the film’s lead actors, Viggo Mortensen and Kathryn Hahn.



SAG Awards Winners: Complete List


“What I’ve learned from working on “Moonlight” is you see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves.” — Mahershala Ali upon winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.

“My goodness, look at this room, all these special people, I almost didn’t get in. Seriously I didn’t. They kept wanting to see my IDs. Well I think it was ‘IDs’ maybe it was ‘double Ds’ something like that. Glad to get that off my chest.” — Dolly Parton while introducing Lily Tomlin for her Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Don’t leave the house when you’re drunk. Don’t be anxious about missing an opportunity.” — Lily Tomlin offering sage advice in her acceptance speech.

“Wow, to be an actor, playing an actor, receiving an actor by a guild of actors, it’s pretty exceptional.” – Emma Stone practicing her tongue-twisters upon winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

“We are united in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive.” – David Harbour stealing the show while speaking on behalf of the “Stranger Things” cast, which won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

“We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters.” – David Harbour near the end of his impassioned speech which brought the house down.

“They are hidden figures no more!” – Taraji P. Henson concluding her powerful acceptance speech for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for “Hidden Figures.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/sag-awards-quotes-screen-actors-guild-1201972911/

A debate about diversity has roiled the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars every year. For two straight years, the awards body was slammed for failing to nominate minorities in the major acting categories. When nominations were announced last week, however, it seemed like this year’s crop of honorees were a more inclusive bunch. Seven out of the twenty acting nominees were people of color, tying a record set in 2007. It was a group that included Dev Patel, Denzel Washington, and Viola Davis, with the best picture nominees including three films — “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Fences” — that deal with the subject of race.

That kind of progress didn’t extend to women in non-acting categories. The number of female Oscar nominees dropped two percentage points, according to an analysis by the Women’s Media Center. No female directors were nominated and only one female screenwriter, Allison Schroeder, was recognized for her working co-authoring the “Hidden Figures” script. Eighty percent of all nominees were men. The track record is a spotty one. From 2005 to 2016, women accounted for just 19 percent of all non-acting Oscar nominations, the group found.



Number of Female Directors Falls Despite Diversity Debate, Says Study


The Women’s Media Center is a nonprofit founded by actress Jane Fonda, writer Robin Morgan, and political activist Gloria Steinem with the goal of improving the representation of and opportunities for women in media. Its findings come on the heels of a report earlier this month by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film that found that women comprised just 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases last year, a decline of two percentage points from 2015. The report also found that women represented only 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the highest grossing films of 2016. The Women’s Media Center drew a line between that lack of representation in the industry and the paucity of female nominees.

“Clearly, women cannot get through the door and if they cannot get through the door, they cannot be recognized—and rewarded—for their excellence and impact,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, in a statement.

When it comes to the Oscars, there were a few signs of improvement. Nine women were nominated as producers in the Best Picture category, the most nominations for women in any category, and Ava DuVernay directed “13th,” a look at the mass incarceration of African Americans, to a best documentary nomination. Other breakthroughs included Mica Levy, who became the first woman nominated for original score in 16 years with “Jackie,” and Joi McMillan, who became the first African American woman ever nominated in editing for her work on “Moonlight.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/awards/women-shunned-by-oscars-as-men-make-up-80-of-nominees-study-1201972671/

Malaysian-Hong Kong action thriller “Mrs K” has been set as the opening film of the Osaka Asian Film Festival. The festival, which runs March 3-12, will close with the world premiere of teen music drama “Parks” by Osaka-born director Seta Natsuki.

Other sections will be announced over the next few weeks. They include a competition section, which selects Asian films previously unreleased in Japan, as well as special screenings, an indie forum, and other special programs.

“Parks” is the story of a student and a high school girl who try to recreate an old love song previously recorded by the girl’s father. It stars Hashimoto Ai (“The Kirishima Thing”,) Sometani Shota “Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow, and Chen Kaige’s upcoming “Kukai”.)

“Mrs K” is directed by Ho Yuhang (“At The End of Daybreak”,) and premiered at the Busan festival in October.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/asia/mrs-k-to-open-osaka-asia-festival-1201973084/

Principal photography has started on the comedy “Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back),” starring two-time Oscar-nominee Tom Wilkinson (“Batman Begins,” “Michael Clayton”), BAFTA-nominated Aneurin Barnard (“Dunkirk,” “The White Queen”), Christopher Eccleston and Marion Bailey. Altitude Film Sales is selling the film at Berlin’s European Film Market.

Tom Edmunds makes his directorial feature debut. Also in the cast are Freya Mavor, Nigel Lindsay, Gethin Anthony and Velibor Topic. The film editor is Tariq Anwar, the cinematographer is Luke Bryant and the casting director is Toby Whale.

After seven suicide attempts and a chance encounter on a bridge, William (Barnard) outsources the task to Leslie (Wilkinson), an aging hit man on the brink of retirement. But with the contract signed and death assured within a week (or his money back) William finally discovers a reason to live. However, Leslie is under growing pressure from Harvey (Eccleston), the unpleasant head of the shady Guild of Assassins, and as far as he’s concerned the contract is binding.

The film is produced by Daniel-Konrad Cooper and Nick Clark Windo. Executive producer is Gina Carter of Sprout Pictures.

Universal Music will be working on the film’s soundtrack, with a leading British singer/songwriter creating a signature track for the film and shortly to be announced.

The film is shooting in southwest London for five weeks.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/global/berlin-tom-wilkinson-aneurin-barnard-comedy-dead-in-a-week-1201972662/

The first image has been released from movie “The Wife,” starring six-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close, whose work has ranged from “Guardians of the Galaxy” through to “Damages,” and Jonathan Pryce, best known for “Game of Thrones” and now starring in “Taboo” alongside Tom Hardy. Embankment Films will be selling the pic at Berlin.

Close plays the eponymous role of Joan Castleman, with Pryce as her Nobel prize-winning husband.

Joan Castleman “is married to one of those men who think they own the world… but has no idea how to take care of himself or anyone else,” according to a statement. “He is also one of America’s pre-eminent novelists, about to receive the Nobel Prize for literature; and the flawlessly gracious Joan, who has spent 40 years ignoring her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has decided she’s had enough.”

“The White Queen’s” Max Irons plays the Castlemans’ troubled son, and “Mr. Robot’s” Christian Slater features as an aspiring biographer and journalist, who is determined to uncover the Castleman family secret.

Supporting cast includes Elizabeth McGovern (“Downton Abbey”), with Harry Lloyd and Annie Stark playing the roles of young Joe and Joan.

Bjorn Runge directed the movie, which was scripted by Jane Anderson, adapting from the Meg Wolitzer novel of the same name. It shot for seven weeks in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stockholm.

Producers are Rosalie Swedlin for Anonymous Content, Meta Louise Foldager Sorensen for Meta Film, Piers Tempest and Jo Bamford for Tempo Productions, Piodor Gustafsson for Spark Film and Television, and Claudia Blumhuber for Silver Reel.

Silver Reel, Creative Scotland, Film Vast, Chimney, the Swedish Film Institute and SF Studios financed the production.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/global/first-look-glenn-close-jonathan-pryce-the-wife-1201972649/

Masaya Nakamura, the arcade entertainment pioneer who pioneered smash hit video game “Pac-Man” has died, age 91. He founded the giant gaming company Namco and for 10 years Namco was also owner of the Nikkatsu film company.

Nakamura’s death was recorded as having taken place more than a week ago, on Jan. 22, 2017. But it was only announced, by Namco today on its Japanese-language website.

Having attended technical university in Yokohama, Nakamura reportedly founded Namco in 1955 as a company operating mechanical horses on the roof of a department store. After Namco was merged with another Japanese games firm Bandai to form Namco-Bandai  (later Bandai Namco) in 2005, Nakamura retained an honorary position. He was also awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, by the Japanese government for his services to industry.

Pac-Man, conceived to look like a pizza with a slice taken out of it, was invented by Toru Iwatani and went on sale as a coin-operated game in 1980. It expanded onto consoles before spawning massive merchandise sales, TV series, theme parks and a film.

Namco bought Nikkatsu in 1993. Japan’s oldest film studio was once famous for its pink-eiga, the free-ranging soft porn genre that gave many contemporary Japanese film makers their career start. Nakamura is credited as executive producer on several of its titles (“Warm Water Under a Red Bridge,” “A Stranger of Mine”.) Hewas also executive producer on Crystal Sky’s 2010 game adaptation “Tekken”.




Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/asia/pac-man-pioneer-masaya-nakamura-founder-of-namco-dead-at-96-1201973117/

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who wrote and directed the 2017 Oscar-nominated foreign language film “The Salesman,” would not be able to enter the U.S. for the awards under President Donald Trump’s recently enacted travel ban, according to reports on Saturday.

Trump signed the executive order on Friday afternoon to suspend entry of refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, and imposed an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. A 90-day ban was also placed on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The 2017 Oscars will take place on Feb. 26.

Farhadi’s film “A Separation” won an Academy Award for best foreign film in 2012. “The Salesman” — the title a reference to Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” — tells the story of a young couple who play the lead roles in the play.

On Thursday, after Trump proposed the bans, Iranian star of “The Salesman” Taraneh Alidoosti announced that she would not attend the awards as a boycott.

“Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist,” she wrote. “Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”

Although it did not occur under Trump’s strict ban, another Academy Award-nominee ran into trouble in 2013. Emad Burnat, the first Palestinian documentary filmmaker to be nominated for an Academy Award, was detained by immigration with his family at LAX, and released after question.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/trump-muslim-ban-director-asghar-farhadi-2017-oscars-1201972194/

The Sundance Film Festival has an impressive track record of launching major careers — from Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) to Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) to Ryan Gosling (“The Believer”). As this year’s Park City premieres come to an end, Variety’s critics and reporters offer their favorite breakout performances.

1. Kumail Nanjiani, “The Big Sick”
The stand-up comedian and “Silicon Valley” actor proves he’s got the heart of a leading man in “The Big Sick.” Nanjiani partnered with his wife to write the heavily autobiographical story of a Pakistani-comic forced to shake off his arrested development when his girlfriend suffers a life-threatening illness. The film had the audience at its Sundance premiere howling, and went on to top that triumphant debut by landing the biggest deal of the festival, a $12.5 million pact from Amazon, after an all-night bidding war. –Brent Lang



Kumail Nanjiani on Creating Sundance’s Buzziest Comedy ‘The Big Sick’


2. Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
Until this year’s Sundance, Chalamet was known as the actor on “Homeland” who almost got to play Spider-Man in the latest Sony reboot. But his lead performance as a heartthrob in Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” is a career changer. As Elio, an Italian teenager who falls in love with an older American tourist (Armie Hammer), Chalamet carries every scene — it’s the best coming-of-age portrait at Sundance since Evan Rachel Wood in “Thirteen.” –Ramin Setoodeh

3. Margaret Qualley, “Novitiate”
Twenty eight years ago, Andie MacDowell was the breakout new star at Sundance when Steven Soderbergh’s “sex, lies and videotape” unspooled in Park City. Now it’s the next generation’s turn. MacDowell’s 22-year-old daughter, model-turned-actress Qualley, has already won fans with her work in HBO’s “The Leftovers,” but proves she can carry a movie with her striking, emotionally vulnerable leading turn as an aspiring nun in Maggie Betts’s acclaimed convent drama “Novitiate.” Qualley immediately followed up a strong Sundance debut, meanwhile, with a supporting turn in another of this year’s festival selections, Shawn Christensen’s “Sidney Hall.” –Guy Lodge

4. Alex Sharp, “To the Bone”
When Marti Noxon (of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” fame) decided to base her directorial debut on experiences she’d had as a teenage anorexic, casting was clearly going to be a problem. Lily Collins will no doubt get the most attention for her lead role, but the scene-stealer here is London-born, Juilliard-trained actor Sharp. Playing a charming dancer with an eating disorder, Sharp makes his leap from Broadway (where his work in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” made him the youngest person to win a Tony for best actor in a play) to the big screen. And while he’s clearly a serious actor, it’s his willingness to be silly that makes “To the Bone’s” downbeat story bearable. –Peter Debruge



Lily Collins Reveals Former Eating Disorder While Promoting ‘To the Bone’ at Sundance (Watch)


5. Jessica Williams, “The Incredible Jessica James”
The ex-“Daily Show” correspondent shines in a star vehicle custom built for her by writer-director Jim Strouse. She has an infectious screen presence brimming with self-confidence, but isn’t afraid to let her vulnerable side show in this crowd-pleasing relationship comedy. –Geoff Berkshire

6. Danielle Macdonald, “Patti Cake$”
You could argue that Macdonald’s star-making turn in Geremy Jasper’s directorial debut is worth $10 million. That’s roughly what Fox Searchlight forked over to acquire this Cinderella story about an aspiring rapper from New Jersey, who trudges along as a caterer and lives with her broke mom (Bridget Everett, fantastic). In the last few days, Macdonald has been compared to every Sundance breakout from Jennifer Lawrence to Gabourey Sidibe. That she’s Australian — which you’d never know from her finely calibrated Joisey accent — makes her debut all the more outstanding. –R.S.

7. Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
The R&B singer triggered Oscar buzz with her shattering turn in “Mudbound” as a sharecropper trying to keep her family together despite racism and economic hardship in the segregated South. She’s virtually unrecognizable in the role, but the same fire that makes her such a commanding performer powers her work as Florence, a woman who wants a better life for her family. Every moment she’s on screen she’s completely present — her face registers each flicker of hurt, fierce love, and quiet rage at a society that is so stubbornly unjust. –B.L.



Sundance Film Review: ‘Patti Cake$’


8. Josh O’Connor, “God’s Own Country”
Cheltenham-born O’Connor has been marked as one to watch in Britain for a couple of years now, following a strong lead turn in U.K. indie “Bridgend,” and smaller but more widely viewed roles in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” “The Riot Club” and TV’s “Peaky Blinders.” But it’s as a repressed gay Yorkshire farm worker in Francis Lee’s moving romantic drama “God’s Own Country” — warmly received in Sundance’s international competition — that the young Brit proves the true extent of his abilities, carrying a nuanced, not immediately sympathetic role with soulful yearning, quiet physical presence and a streak of earthy humor. Expect his thus-far steady ascent to gain pace this year. –G.L.

9. O’Shea Jackson Jr., “Ingrid Goes West”
Ice Cube’s son scored his major breakout role playing his father in the hit “Straight Outta Compton,” but in only his second film role, Jackson proves he also has the goods to be a romantic leading man. As the laidback pot-dealing landlord of Aubrey Plaza’s social media obsessed title character, Jackson demonstrates an effortless charm that a smart Hollywood studio should put to good use soon. –G.B.

10. Abby Quinn, “Landline”
Though most who answer “Landline’s” calling go in hoping to witness the reunion between “Obvious Child” writer-director Gillian Robespierre and burpy, chirpy comedienne Jenny Slate, the best surprise of this ’90s-set New York comedy is discovering the ingénue picked to play Slate’s kid sister. Rather than picking someone even more eccentric than Slate, the filmmakers went with a young actress who comes across as wise beyond her years — and in many ways, the most mature member of the family. Articulate and assertive, Quinn’s character discovers that her father, played by John Turturro, is cheating on mom, Edie Falco. It’s an overwhelming position for any teen, yet Quinn totally holds her own among such pros. –P.D.

11. Dave Bautista, “Bushwick”
The former pro wrestler has a major role in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, but if there was ever any doubt he could headline his own action vehicles the insanely well-timed “Bushwick” should put it to rest. Bautista plays an ex-Marine ushering a sheltered New Yorker through war-torn New York City streets and scores with the role’s physical and emotional demands. –G.B.

12. Harris Dickinson, “Beach Rats”
Audiences at post-screening Q&As for Eliza Hittman’s “Beach Rats” were in for a surprise when it came to the film’s star Dickinson: So persuasive as a closeted South Brooklyn dudebro in this tough, explicit coming-of-age drama, the big-screen newcomer turns out to be a British drama school graduate, born and raised in East London. That already bodes well for the young actor’s versatility, but his performance in “Beach Rats” is auspicious enough on its own, deftly articulating a difficult character’s clashing layers of social and sexual identity. Having now revealed a dark emotional range behind his Abercrombie & Fitch physicality, Dickinson will doubtless be surprising us in bigger projects soon. –G.L.

13. Kyle Mooney, “Brigsby Bear”
The “Saturday Night Live” player known for eccentric viral videos co-wrote his first starring vehicle with the same deadpan sensibility he’s known for on the show. A thoroughly unconventional comedy, the Sony Classics acquisition should position Mooney as a formidable player in the alternative comedy scene. –G.B.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/sundance-breakout-performances-mary-j-blige-kumail-nanjiani-timothee-chalamet-1201972219/

The entertainment industry took to social media on Friday into Saturday to mourn the loss of actor “John Hurt” who died Wednesday at his home in Norfolk.

The actor, known for films such as “Midnight Express,” “Alien,” the title character in “The Elephant Man,” was 77.

“It was terribly sad today to learn of John Hurt’s passing. He was a truly magnificent talent,” Mel Brooks wrote. “No one could have played The Elephant Man more memorably. He carried that film into cinematic immortality. He will be sorely missed.”



John Hurt’s Life and Career in Photos


“Simply an inspiration to all of us artists,” Vincent D’Onofrio tweeted. “Hopefully he will influence many actors in the future for a long long time.”

Kiefer Sutherland wrote, “My deepest sympathies to John Hurt’s family, friends and fans. He was a dear friend.”



A Tribute to John Hurt: A Playful Master Who Made His Inner Hurt Ours


“I will forever cherish the memories I have of the incomparable John Hurt. A brilliant actor & a beautiful soul,” Jamie Bell tweeted.

“Very sad to hear of John Hurt’s passing,” Elijah Wood wrote. “It was such an honor to have watched you work, sir.”

The Pottermore account weighed in: “We’re hugely saddened to hear about the passing of John Hurt. Thoughts are with his friends and family.”



John Hurt, Oscar-Nominated Star of ‘The Elephant Man,’ Dies at 77


As did the official “Harry Potter” account: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Hurt, who played Mr. Ollivander. Harry Potter fans will miss him very much.”



Celebrities Who Died in 2017


Natalie Portman wrote, “I’m so extremely sad to hear of John’s passing. I was lucky enough to make two films with him — both of which were taken to the next level because of his performances. He was the most talented actor, and also a deeply good and funny and poetic and smart and warm human being. I send my love to his family at this terrible time, and join his fans in watching his films that we are lucky enough to have forever.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/celebrities-react-john-hurt-death-social-media-1201972220/

An Academy spokesperson issued a statement Saturday in response to reports that Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who is nominated for an Oscar this year, would be barred from entering the country for the awards under President Donald Trump’s recently enacted travel ban.

“The Academy celebrates achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences,” the statement said. “As supporters of filmmakers — and the human rights of all people — around the globe, we find it extremely troubling that Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran ‘A Separation,’ along with the cast and crew of this year’s Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.”



Trump’s Visa Ban to Reportedly Keep Oscar-Nominated Director Asghar Farhadi From Attending 2017 Awards


Trump signed the executive order on Friday afternoon to suspend entry of refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, and imposed an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. A 90-day ban was also placed on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The 2017 Oscars will take place on Feb. 26.

Taraneh Alidoosti, the star of Farhadi’s film “The Salesman” spoke up on Twitter Thursday morning after Trump proposed the ban, to announce that she “won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”

Farhadi’s film “A Separation” won an Academy Award for best foreign film in 2012. “The Salesman” — the title a reference to Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” — tells the story of a young couple who play the lead roles in the play. It is nominated in the foreign film category.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/academy-ban-director-asghar-farhadi-oscars-1201972264/

The memorable freeway ramp dance sequence was shot in only two days with 150 dancers in 110 degree heat, “La La Land” producer Marc Platt recalled at Saturday’s Producers Guild of America nominees panel.

“Shutting down the freeway didn’t seem that impossible when I first read the Damien Chazelle’s script,” Platt told an audience of about 600 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. The event was held for the 10 nominated films for the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for top feature film production released in 2016.

“We closed the ramp between the 105 and the 110 freeways for a Saturday and a Sunday in September,” Platt noted. “When we were done, Everyone was exhausted but no one wanted to leave so we were able to show the footage on monitors on the ramp to the 150 people  applauding and crying.”



The Honorees at the 2017 PGA Awards


Platt, who has credits going back to the 1980s, also told the audience that it was a joy to shoot locally: “It was only the third time in 30 years that I got to shoot in LA and it was glorious to be able to see my family at night.”

The two-hour event, moderated by PGA co-president Gary Lucchesi, was punctuated by tales of the intricacies of development and production.

“Casey Affleck wanted to play Desmond Doss in 2003 but I couldn’t get it financed,” said  “Hacksaw Ridge” producer Bill Mechanic. He noted that Mel Gibson passed twice on directing in 2002 and 2010 before coming on board in 2015 and noted that Affleck reminded him recently that he had sought the Doss part 14 years ago.

“They never forget,” Mechanic added.

“My dad took me on a Saturday  and I didn’t want to leave the theater when it was over,” he added. “I think I saw it 15 times that weekend.”

Platt recalled at the PGA panel that the first movie he saw in person was “Mary Poppins” in 1964 and added, “I’m beginning on the sequel on Tuesday.”

The winner of the Zanuck award will be announced Saturday night at the Beverly Hills Hilton.


Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/awards/la-la-land-opening-scene-1201972257/
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