Tag Archives: Halle Berry

For The Love of Oscar: Our 2015 Report

Written by Graeme Wood
24.02.15

 

 oscars-2014_kushfilms

As the year’s major award ceremonies draw to a close it’s easy to see which films have been the clear winners and the losers. This year more than any other it seems the glitz and glamour of our awards ceremonies have been under attack for their lack of recognition and prize-giving to a slew of actors and films that appear to have been snubbed. While you could usually rely on BAFTA to recognize its home grown talent this year it bizarrely missed out on nominating Selma or its British star David Oyelowo but there was also a distinct lack of recognition for black and ethnic minority based talent from the UK.

As Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris ribbed in his opening monologue “Tonight we honour Hollywood’s Neil_Patrick_Harris_at_the_best and whitest. Sorry, brightest!” The host drawing attention to the controversy that has dogged this year’s nominations and awards, so concerned were the ceremony organisers that it seems they were anxious to fill the presenter’s roles with as may non-Caucasian faces as possible. Drafting in a number of more ethnically mixed presenters including; Kerry Washington, Eddie Murphy, David Oyeleow, Zoe Saldana and Viola Davis, in what appeared to be an effort to dampen the cries of a lack of diversity and snubbing.

While the Independent Spirit Awards earlier in the week had mirrored many of this year’s other award ceremonies; Birdman taking Best Picture, Richard Linklater taking Best Director, Michael Keaton taking Best Actor, Julianne Moore winning Best Actress, JK Simmons holding onto Best Supporting Actor and Patricia Arquette taking home Best Supporting Actress. They did however gift the Best First Screenplay Award to Justin Simien for Dear White People. Would Oscar go further and do the unexpected to surprise us with some new winners?

Well yes and no, Birdman led the evening taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography awards. The Grand Budapest Hotel took home a clutch of technical awards including Costume Design, Production Design, Best Original Score, Make Up & Hairstyling and Costume. The hotly contested Best Actor category was won by the UK’s Eddie Redmayne forEddieRedmayne The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore continued her winning streak taking home Best Actress for Alzheimer’s drama Still Alice (due in the UK in March), JK Simmons deservedly took away Best Supporting Actor and Patricia Arquette walked away with another Best Supporting Actress win. Arquette won over the audience with her speech addressing it to ‘every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation”. “We have fought for everybody’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America”. It was the only win of the evening for Boyhood, a big award winner elsewhere, having been nominated in six categories. The other biggest losers of the evening were The Imitation Game picking up only 1 award out of 8 nominations and American Sniper picking up 1 award out of six nominations.

As was expected Big Hero 6 took home the Best Animated Feature award (The Lego Movie having cruelly been overlooked for nomination). And what of Selma, nominated in only two categories, Best Selma_CorineScott_MLKPicture and Best Song, the official excuse being the film had been released too late to be campaigned for successfully. Selma’s Glory written by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn – better known as John Legend and Common- walked away with the Oscar for Best Song, also performing the track captivatingly live at the ceremony. During the intense, powerful performance Selma star David Oyelowo was visibly moved to tears and at the finale many of the Academy were on the feet in appreciation. Collecting his award Legend said; “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world…people are marching with our song, we are with you…March on!” Some were less impressed with Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute however, Shonda Rhimes tweeting; ‘That was not okay. I mean, Idina is there. She is right there. RIGHT THERE. And oh dear God, Julie had to hear that,” The Scandal showwriter referencing both Julie Andrews and Idina Menzel who were in the audience. Billboard however, thought it was the second best performance of the night.

The Academy Awards are no stranger to controversy its perceived snubs dating all the way back to a lack of recognition for Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights and Modern Times films. Each year brings a new list of should have beens like Shawshank Redemption, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Spike Lee, Jack Nicholson, Ben Afleck and many more. Many, like myself, wonder how a film can be nominated in the Best Film category and yet the director not be nominated, this has happened many times and again this year with Selma nominated as Best Film but no nomination for its director Ava DuVernay.

So what is the worth of an Oscar Nomination and even a win? Do the awards signal industry recognition of talent and art, or are they a celebration of a critical or box office success? Certainly in terms of getting a nomination the prestige can provide a secondary bout of marketing and see the film resurface into theatres with a guaranteed boost in box office sales. This year’s BAFTA wins for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash and The Theory of Everything helped boost these films at the February UK box office. Similarly last year Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street and 12 Years A Slave also benefited from their BAFTA nominations and wins.

Does the winning of an Oscar guarantee the actor offers of the best available roles and most prestigious films on offer? Well you only have to look at Halle Berry’s career for that answer, following her Academy Award win in 2002 for Monster’s Ball, which was seen as a major break through for black actresses at the time, her roles have consisted of mostly superhero sequels and forgettable horror thrillers. Similarly, Denzel Washington, who also won in 2002 for Training Day, can hardly have noticed any change in his career – although he still turning out an impressive and consistent body of work but not always getting the headline grabbing prestigious roles.

Hattie McDaniel the very first African American actor to win an Academy Award back in 1939 for Gone With The Wind found her career continually consigned to little more than bit parts and maid HattieMcDaniel_kushfilmsroles following her Academy win. McDaniel broke into movies after many years singing in choruses and working as an extra until David O.Selznick cast her as Mammy in the epic but troubled production of Gone With The Wind. She later found herself censured by many of her own race for continuing to play the stereotypical role of a menial in films and for not criticising Hollywood’s portrayal of Negros on the big screen. McDaniel remained ‘in love’ with Hollywood and acting as she later said; though her treatment at the time is now considered something of a scandal, The Awards that year were held at The Cocoanut Grove nightclub, part of the Ambassador Hotel, which then had a strict no-blacks policy, McDaniel was not allowed to sit with the rest of the film’s crew and was placed at a separate table near the far back of the room. Gone With The Wind producer Selznick had to call in a special favour just to have McDaniel allowed into the building. Her win led to her being pigeon-holed in stereotypical roles and the NAACP disowned her for ‘perpetuating negative stereotypes’. Following her death, in 1952, her Oscar which had been left to Howard University was deemed valueless by appraisers and later went missing from the school, her final wish – to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery was denied her because of the colour of her skin. In 1944 she had this to say about her disappointing prospects following the Oscar win, “It was as if I had done something wrong”.

More recently Mo’Nique, who picked up Best Supporting Actress in 2010 for her performance in ‘Precious’, has complained that she’s lost out on several roles due to not campaigning for her award. She says Precious director Les Daniels has told her that the perception in Hollywood is that she is monique-precious-oscars‘difficult’ ‘tacky’ and as a result has been blackballed, losing out on several key roles that were offered then later withdrawn.

At the 2010 awards ceremony Mo’Nique wore white gardenias in her hair – just as Hattie McDaniel had done in 1940 when she picked up her Oscar. During her acceptance speech the actress thanked McDaniel ‘for enduring all that she had to, so that I would not have to”. In response to the criticism McDaniel faced for taking maid roles Mo’Nique had this to say: “Well tell me what other roles were available, because what she was; was an actress – and at the time, she wasn’t getting the roles that her white counterparts were getting. She was saying,’I’m an actress. When you say ‘cut’ I’m not (a maid anymore). “So I say to those people: know that woman in full before you judge.”

Les Daniels himself offered this statement on Mo’Nique’s interview: “Mo’nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community”.

A recent Los Angeles Times survey of the 6,028 Academy Award voters revealed that 94% of Voters are White, while 77% of those are also Men; only 2% of the voters were Black with another 2% Latino.

This year has seen a more centralised campaign to bring more diversity to the Academy. Black activist organisation ‘Colour of Change’ have launched an online campaign and petition for the Academy to disclose it’s make up of diversity numbers and accused the Academy of marginalizing Black art because the membership is overwhelmingly white. The campaign began largely because of the perceived snubbing of Selma particularly the lack of nominations for its lead actor and director.

The debate has been fuelled also by interviews given to the Hollywood Reporter by members of the Academy, an anonymous Academy member said;” What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a 60 year old white male, I don’t think that people would have been carrying on about it to the level that they were. And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance-they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies. When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it? I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying ‘I can’t breathe’ – I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year of for stirring up shit”. The Academy member went on to praise American Sniper, Birdman and The Imitation Game as being their picks of the year but felt Boyhood was less of a success; “If you told me when I saw Boyhood that it would win best picture-or even be in the running-I would have told you that you were insane. Watching it, I thought it was ambitious and a directorial triumph, but the kid was uneven and Patricia Arquette probably was sorry she agreed to let them film her age over 12 years”.

Another Academy Voter had this to say about this year’s crop of nominations; “Whiplash is offensive – it’s a film about abuse and I don’t find that entertaining at all. The Grand Budapest Hotel is beautifully made but its story just isn’t special. I didn’t think Selma was a particularly good film, apart from the main actor (David Oyelowo) and I think the outcry about the Academy being racist for not nominating it for more awards is offensive – we have a two term president who is a black woman (Cheryl Boone Isaacs) and we give out awards to black people when they deserve them, just like any other group. Birdman I didn’t get at all-I look around and its doing so well and I just don’t get it”. While another Academy member felt American Sniper had been entertaining, Birdman masterful, The Grand Budapest Hotel underrated, of The Imitation Game they said ‘it had it all; Nazis, gays, World War II. Nobody does this sort of movie better than Harvey Weinstein”. Of Selma the anonymous Academy member commented ‘I thought Selma was great but it just came out too late. And if the director (Ava DuVernay) suffered from anything, it was gender discrimination, not racial discrimination. This whole race thing was spun out of control by the press”.

In a recent interview Spike Lee also pitched in on the Selma controversy; “We don’t have to even use Selma as an example. We could use Do The Right Thing versus Driving Miss F*****ing Daisy. But Do The Right Thing wasn’t the only thing the Academy messed up. My point is; it’s not a new problem. And great art is going to prevail. The door (to black filmmakers) is not knocked down. It’s cracked open a little bit. I wish that door was wide open”.

Lee and Low Books recently published an infographic showing the make up of the Academy that proves a troubling lack of diversity, independent filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood prince-bythewood-gina-imagetold Lee & Low; “The numbers do not surprise me because very few Academy Award level films with no white leads are being greenlit. Until this changes the abysmal numbers will not change. The box office drives which films get greenlit. The hope is that with this year’s success of a variety of films with African American leads, Hollywood will be more open to taking chances.” Lee & Low published the infographic as part of their ‘Diversity Gap’ study series and have monitored a lack of diversity across the Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, the NY Times Top 10 Bestseller List, the children’s book industry and politics. “The lack of diversity across these various industries has been ‘disturbingly consistent’, the publisher wrote, “This is not an isolated incident, but a wide reaching social problem”

There is hope that with all the pressure that one day things will change (hopefully soon!)
Hattie_McDaniel_12thOscars

 

 

Read Hattie McDaniel’s 1947 Hollywood Reporter Essay:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hattie-mcdaniel-defies-critics-1947-774493

Read the full Hollywood Reporter interview with comedian/actress Mo’Nique:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/monique-i-was-blackballed-winning-774616?source=gravity

Read the Hollywood Reporter’s interviews with Academy Members here;
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/brutally-honest-oscar-ballot-2015-773902

View and support the Colour of Change petition here:
http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/oscars_diversify/?t=1&akid=4126.747541.gIn_nT

Halle Berry To produce miniseries on Hannibal


H
alle Berry is set to executive produce Hannibal (working title), a miniseries about the great generals in antiquity — Hannibal Barca and his archrival Scipio Africanus — who went head-to-head in the Second Punic War.

Halle-1Oscar-nominated writer Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener) is penning the script for the project, co-produced by A+E Studios and Red Arrow Entertainment. “Hannibal was not only the greatest African general to ever live, he may have been the greatest general, period,” said Berry. “His story is an intricate and captivating ride, and I’m thrilled to get this project off the ground with our partners at History.” Hannibal begins in Carthage, 264 BC, at the beginning of his life in North Africa and takes viewers through the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. In what became legend, Hannibal and his archrival take a sacred vow to destroy the other and the nation he served. However, despite their fiercely opposed allegiances, the two are brought together and grow to respect each other as brothers. Berry, Steven Jensen, Vincent Cirrincione, Caine and Red Arrow’s Simon Maxwell executive produce.

 © 2013
Source: http://www.deadline.com/2013/12/history-developing-hannibal-miniseries-produced-by-halle-berry/

Leading Men Age, But Their Love Interests Don’t!

 

Recently, Kristen Stewart fell out of the con-artist comedy Focus after Will Smith replaced Ben Affleck as the male lead; according to Variety, she was nagged by “the feeling that the age difference between the two would be too large a gap.” For the record, Smith is a mere four years older than the 40-year-old Affleck, and if it seems a little odd that either of them would be considered a romantic partner for the 23-year-old Stewart in the first place … well, welcome to Hollywood. It seems like time and time again, male movie stars are allowed to age into their forties, fifties, and even sixties while the ages of their female love interests remain firmly on one side of the big 4-0, but is this a perception borne out of reality? To find out for sure, Vulture has analyzed the data of ten middle-aged leading men and the ages of the women they’ve wooed onscreen; you’ll see the results in the charts below.

How’d we arrive at our conclusions? For each of our leading men, we tried to pick a representative sample of films — usually ten — where that A-lister had a notable love interest or wife, then we plotted the age gaps on our charts over the course of that star’s career. (Because production dates for older movies can be hard to come by, we measured the stars’ ages on the day the film in question was released.) The results confirmed our suspicions: As leading men age, their love interests stay the same, and even the oldest men on our list have had few romantic pairings with a woman their own age (or even one out of her mid-thirties). If our actor was sharing the screen with an A-lister of commensurate star power like Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie, the age difference would drop somewhat, but in movies that relied solely on our guy’s big name, the lesser-known love interests would nearly always be decades younger.

Scroll down to check out our findings in-depth.

Denzel Washington love graph

DENZEL WASHINGTON
Denzel Washington’s pushing 60, but you wouldn’t know it from his love interests, who tend to stay 35 and under. Perhaps that’s because Washington rarely gets to romance an actress as formidable as he is (a fact of life that may owe more to Hollywood’s racial prejudices than gender inequality), because when he went toe-to-toe with Angela Bassett for Malcolm X and Whitney Houston in The Preacher’s Wife, the age differences weren’t quite as egregious. (He did pair with Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie when they were newbie superstars, but those films — The Pelican Brief and The Bone Collector — were cautious and chaste when it came to suggesting a love connection). The older Washington gets, the less it seems to matter to his love interests, as the last three notable ones — Paula Patton, Lymari Nadal, and Kelly Reilly — were all more than twenty years younger than he was.

Harrison Ford love graph
HARRISON FORD
Ford rose to stardom in his late thirties, but the first time he had a notable love interest in her late thirties, it was in 1999’s Random Hearts … when Ford was an age 57 to Kristin Scott Thomas’s 39. The vast majority of Ford’s love interests have been at least fifteen years younger than him, and some were far younger than that: When Six Days Seven Nights came out in 1998, pundits debated whether the sexuality of Ford’s co-star Anne Heche might prove a distraction, paying little mind to the fact that Ford was 26 years older than the woman he was supposed to woo.
Johnny Depp love graph

JOHNNY DEPP
Johnny Depp likes ’em young: Nearly all of his notable love interests have been 25 or under, and a few of them — including Winona Ryder, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, and Keira Knightley (who shared a kiss with Depp in the second Pirates film) — would have been carded at the time they swapped spit with the star. In fact, the cradle-robbing Depp has only had two notable love interests in their mid-thirties, and all Juliette Binoche and Angelina Jolie had to do to make that cut is win an Oscar beforehand. Easy!

Tom Cruise love graph

TOM CRUISE
Tom Cruise has had an interesting romantic trajectory onscreen: At the start of his career, almost all of his love interests were older than him. Shelley Long in Losin’ It, Rebecca De Mornay in Risky Business, Kelly McGillis in Top Gun … time and time again, an older woman would seduce the sexually inexperienced Cruise onscreen. It’s no wonder women used to love him! In the nineties, though, Cruise began squiring the five-years-younger Nicole Kidman, and he’s remained the older man in all of his romantic encounters since. From Vanilla Sky on, the closest Cruise will let a woman get to his age is ten years; in the new Oblivion, he’s a full seventeen years older than his female lead, Olga Kurylenko.

George Clooney love graph

GEORGE CLOONEY
Compared to Cruise, the women that George Clooney screen-dates are a smidge more age-appropriate (most of them are only eight or nine years his junior), and twice he even wooed actresses who were three older than him: Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day and Holly Hunter in O Brother, Where Art Thou? When it comes to co-stars, Clooney tends to have his pick of classy actresses in their mid-thirties, though as he gets older — Clooney will turn 52 in May — the age of his love interests still seems to have plateaued.

Richard Gere love graph

RICHARD GERE
Former Sexiest Man Alive winner Richard Gere is a good-looking 63, but his love interests haven’t aged much in the three decades he’s been a star: From Pretty Woman on, Gere’s female co-stars have been 10 to 30 years younger than him, a trend that shows no signs of abating now that he’s in his seventh decade. To be fair, he’s played husband to the three-years-older Susan Sarandon in both Shall We Dance and Arbitrage … but in the former, he spends far more screen time with the much younger Jennifer Lopez, and in the latter, he’s stepping out on Sarandon with supermodel-turned-actress Laetitia Casta, who’s separated in age from Gere by a solid 29 years. At least Gere had the tables turned on him somewhat in Unfaithful, where his fifteen-years-younger screen-wife Diane Lane had an affair with a younger man, Olivier Martinez. How much younger than Lane was Martinez? Well … one measly year, actually.

Steve Carell love graph

STEVE CARELL
When your breakout film is called The 40 Year Old Virgin, it ensures that audiences will forever be aware of your age … even if you were actually 43 when it came out, as Steve Carell was. In that movie, he fell in love with the three-years-older Catherine Keener, and ever since, Carell has looked most at home with romantic partners nearer to his age, like Lauren Graham, Tina Fey, and Julianne Moore. Every so often, though, Hollywood will insist at throwing a twentysomething starlet at Carell, and it’s just awkward: Movies like Get Smart, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone had more than a few problems, but the main issue in all three is how ill at ease Carell seems when romantically paired with an actress who’s twenty years younger. Let’s hope Carell got the memo and will continue to be the rare male star who mostly sticks to love interests in their forties (as his new screen paramour Kristen Wiig will be when Anchorman 2 comes out this winter).

Brad Pitt love graph

BRAD PITT
Brad Pitt began his career as a romantic idol by taking a page straight out of the Tom Cruise playbook: After his roll in the hay with the eight-years-older Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise, he then began screen-dating the much younger women he was seeing in real life, Juliette Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow, who were both around a decade Pitt’s junior. (That’s apparently his sweet spot, as Angelina Jolie would later be able to attest.) The rest of his romantic history runs the gamut, though Pitt did once take a screen-wife his own age: Mary-Louise Parker, who only got a handful of lines in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Liam Neeson love graph

LIAM NEESON
Remember how Depp only allowed a love interest within striking distance of his own age if she was an Oscar-winning actress? The same more than holds true for Liam Neeson, who was partnered with older Oscar winners Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep in the mid-nineties. Aside from that brief moment in time, Neeson usually robs the cradle by wooing actresses around fifteen years younger than him, and ever since Taken re-established his box-office virility, the age of his love interests has dropped precipitously: More than two and a half decades separated Neeson from his screen-wife January Jones in Unknown, and in Paul Haggis’s next film, Third Person, the 61-year-old Neeson will bed 29-year-old Olivia Wilde.

Tom Hanks love graph

TOM HANKS
Well, here’s something novel: an A-lister whose leading ladies actually age alongside him (though they still tend, on the whole, to be a bit younger). There aren’t any egregiously age-inappropriate pairings in Tom Hanks’s portfolio, since Hanks keeps his love interests within at least ten years of him at all times. He also aims high: Most of his female co-stars are Oscar winners or nominees, from Helen Hunt to Halle Berry, and he’ll co-star with two-time nominee Catherine Keener (who’s only three years younger) in this year’s fact-based drama Captain Phillips. Then again, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that Hanks is an A-list aberration in this group: For 25 years, he’s been married to the same woman, actress Rita Wilson … and both Hanks and Wilson are 56.

* The charts for Steve Carell and Tom Hanks have been updated.

Courtesy of:  http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/leading-men-age-but-their-love-interests-dont.html

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