SAG Winners

Here are the winners of the 13th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards:

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland”

Best Actress: Helen Mirren, “The Queen”

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, “Dreamgirls”

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls”

Cast: Little Miss Sunshine

These awards are often seen as a good indicator for the acting categories at the Oscars. I think everyone now knows that Helen Mirren is a virtual certainty to win Best Actress so her victory here isn’t a big shock.

Forest Whitaker’s win confirms his status as the Best Actor frontrunner although if there is a huge swell of sympathy for Peter O’Toole in Venus then the veteran could spring a surprise.

Actors form the largest block of voters in the Academy so any trends here are also likely to spill over to Oscar night, which could be good news for Little Miss Sunshine. It is clearly a much loved film and its win for Best Ensemble could be another indicator that it might sneak Best Picture.

> Offical SAG Awards site
> Find out more about the SAG awards at Wikipedia
> Full list of winners (including the TV section)

Producers lose out on Oscar nominations

Although The Departed is up for Best Picture, one of its producers will not be. Brad Grey – who is also the chairman of Paramount Pictures – has been denied a producer credit.

The producers of another Best Picture nominee, Little Miss Sunshine – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa – find themselves in a similar situation.

According to Gregg Kilday in The Hollywood Reporter the reason lies in the Academy’s “three producer rule”:

According to the Academy’s rules, the best picture winner can be repped by no more than three producers. Thursday night, the executive committee of its producers branch met to arbitrate the producing credits on both “Departed” and “Sunshine,” and ruled against Grey, Berger and Yerxa.

The Academy takes its lead from the PGA, which has developed a mechanism for deciding which producers on a given film performed the necessary producing chores to have full producing credit for awards purposes.

In the case of “Departed,” the film’s credits list as producers Graham King and director Martin Scorsese as well as Grey and Brad Pitt, who developed the film through their Plan B production company. The PGA, however, decided to credit only King as producer when the film was nominated for the PGA’s best picture award.

Grey asked the Academy to reconsider the PGA decision, but, without comment, the Academy has decided to list King as sole producer.

In the case of Little Miss Sunshine, the rule also applied even though Berga and Yerxa first developed the script:

PGA decided that Berger and Yerxa, who are producing partners, deserved credit along with David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf.

Because of the Academy’s rule-of-three, though, the producers’ exec committee took a second look and ruled out Berger and Yerxa, who actually first developed Michael Arndt’s screenplay and later introduced the directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to the other producers.

Because of the Academy’s ruling, only Friendly, Saraf and Turtletaub will be called to the stage if “Sunshine” wins best picture.

Although the three producer rule was introduced after five producers collected an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in 1998, surely credit should be given where it is due?

> NPR report on Oscar’s ever changing rules
> Emmanuel Levy with more detail on the story
> Anne Thompson from The Hollywood Reporter with her take on the story

Amapedia

It looks like Amazon have created their own Wikipedia clone. It is called Amapedia and although it is still in beta, the idea is a very good one.

A wiki for Amazon products not only gives us more information about the huge amount of books, DVDs and products they have but also allows Amazon to better to gauge customer responses.

It will be interesting to see how this develops

> Amapedia (link via Read Write/Web)

Cinema Picks for Friday 26th January

Another packed week for cinema releases in the UK but do watch out for an inspired performance from an aging legend and a disturbing low budget horror.

Blood Diamond is set amidst the conflict in Sierra Leone in the late 90s this drama sees Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a mercenary turned diamond smuggler,  cross paths with a Mende fisherman (Djimon Honsou) who has come across Рand hidden Рa large diamond before being imprisoned as a rebel. Along with a US journalist (Jennifer Connelly) they are all drawn into the murky world of the African diamond trade. Although director Ed Zwick stages the action with impressive aplomb and the performances are good (especially Honsou) it ultimately falls short in its attempts to explore the issue of conflict diamonds and corruption in Africa.

Bobby features a large ensemble cast (featuring Anthony Hopkins, Martin Sheen, Sharon Stone, William H Macy, Joshua Jackson, Heather Graham, Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood) and is a fictional account of the lives of several people present in the hotel where the late Robert F. Kennedy, was shot on June 6, 1968. Although it has its flaws director Emilio Estevez has constructed a drama that keeps you watching and the use of footage from the time is surprisingly powerful.

Venus is about an old English actor (Peter O’Toole) who forms a bond with an unruly young woman who he finds strangely attractive despite being so different to her. Although this sounds like an inverted remake of Harold and Maude, it is actually a highly amusing and shrewdly observed film about getting old. O’Toole gives his best performance in years and newcomer Jodie Whittaker proves a feisty foil for the veteran star. Vanessa Redgrave and Leslie Phillips offer solid – and often touching – support. Director Roger Michell keeps things ticking along nicely and there are some standout comic scenes.

The Fountain is a hugely ambitious love story set across three different time periods and sees Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz play two different sets of characters. A Spanish¬†Conquistador named Tomas, a present day oncologist and a futuristic astronaut all try to find the find the key to eternal life. Although there are certain things here to admire (not least Clint Mansell’s mournful score) this long delayed project from writer-director Darren Aronofsky is a major disappointment. The heavy themes are never properly developed and visually the film never opens out, so the actors are left all at sea with an undercooked script and some weird concepts.

Them features a French couple who stay in a Romanian country house and they find themselves stalked by some locals. A low budget but highly effective horror that avoids the usual pitfalls of the genre. More in the vein of Assault on Precinct 13 or Deliverance it has moments of genuine terror that easily surpasses the schlock of more recent mainstream fare. The fact that it is based on a real life tale about an Austrian couple in the Czech Republic makes it all the more disturbing.

FILMS OF THE WEEK: Venus and Them

> Get cinema showtimes for your local area via Google Movies
> Get other reviews for cinema releases at Metacritic

The Movie Cast for Friday 26th January

Up for discussion this week on the podcast are Blood Diamond (an action drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio), Bobby (a historical drama set around the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968), Venus (a bittersweet comedy starring Peter O’Toole as an aging actor), The Fountain (an ambitious sci-fi drama set across three different time periods) and Them (a chilling low budget horror).

We also speak to Joshua Jackson, one of the stars of Bobby, who talks about his character in the film and the rise in political films since 9/11.

Our DVD picks are World Trade Center and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

Plus, our website of the week is DVD Price Check.

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