Archive | September, 2008


29 Sep

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to let you know that in addition to maintaining this site, I have agreed to write another blog covering the film industry/awards season for the Los Angeles Times‘ web site “The Envelope” that the editors have decided to call “The Feinberg Files.”

I’m very humbled by and excited about this new opportunity, which will allow me to work alongside and learn from some of the top film reporters, analysts, and editors in the business. It’s also my best excuse yet to spend an extended period of time in the Los Angeles-area, which is something I intend to do between the months of November and March, at the very least.

If you’d care to bookmark my new blog or read my first post (in which I speak with Mickey Rooney, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, and Cliff Robertson about the sad passing of Paul Newman), you can do so at the following address:

Thank you for your continued supportand happy holidays to those for whom it applies!

All my best,



27 Sep

<center><b>FLASH: PAUL NEWMAN DEAD (1925-2008)</b></center>


26 Sep

On April 23, 2007, Charlie Rose devoted a full-hour of one of his show’s episodes to Frost/Nixon, which was then the toast of Broadway, and writer Peter Morgan and actors Frank Langella and Michael Sheen—all three of whom would go on to work on Ron Howard’s big screen adaptation, which is due out on December 5—offered illuminating observations…


24 Sep

Every day, I try to consume as much material as possibleold and newabout arts, entertainment, and culture. It has long frustrated me that I couldn’t share more of it with visitors to this site, but writing individual posts to recommend each article, book, clip, TV program, film, or song that I enjoy would demand more time than I have to offer, and so I only do so for a few. Instead, I have now decided to simply gather the titles of (and links to) material that I believe is worthy of your time and post a rundown of it once a month so that you can also explore it, if you’re so inclined.

I would love to read your thoughtsin the “Comments” section belowabout any of the material that you do, in fact, elect to pursue, or anything else that you believe that I should…








20 Sep


Susan Sarandon and Lauren Bacall chat in front of the new stamp honoring Bette Davis

On Thursday, the life of the late actress Bette Davis was celebrated at Boston University to mark the centenary of her birth, and two other leading ladies, Lauren Bacall and Susan Sarandon, received honors in her name.

The Bette Davis Foundation and Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, which houses Davis’ papers, hosted the star-studded tribute, which drew an estimated crowd of 700 to the downtown campus.

The evening began with the unveiling of “A Retrospective of the Life and Work of Bette Davis,” a sprawling multimedia exhibition organized by the Gotlieb Center in the University’s library. Then, the festivities moved to the student union, where veteran film critic Rex Reed, assisted by the oldest and youngest of Davis’ grandchildren, presented the Davis Foundation’s annual honors, which were first bestowed ten years ago. Sarandon received the Bette Davis Lifetime Achievement Award and Bacall received the Bette Davis Medal of Honor.

Earlier in the day, the United States Postal Service, assisted by Bacall, unveiled a 42 cent “Legends of Hollywood” commemorative stamp that features an image of Davis in her most famous role, that of the aging but indomitable actress Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950).

Davis, an eleven-time Oscar nominee and two-time Oscar winner, appeared in many of the best remembered films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Jezebel (1938), Now, Voyager (1942), and All About Eve. Her undeniable talent and versatiliy on screen, coupled with a feisty and uncompromising personality off screen, enabled her to overcome unconventional looks and forge a career that spanned six decades. She died of breast cancer at the age of 81 in 1989.

Neither Sarandon, a five-time Oscar nominee and one-time Oscar winner, nor Bacall, once Oscar-nominated, ever appeared in a film with Davis, but both share much in common with her. Sarandon’s auburn hair and distinctive eyes are strikingly similar to Davis’, and she too has become something of a feminist icon by portraying strong women who take no prisoners in films like Bull Durham (1988) and Thelma and Louise (1991). Bacall has never been mistaken for a wallflower, either; like Davis, she brought an unusual voice and simmering sexuality to her performances. It is also of note that both women married their co-stars from their most famous films—Bacall, famously, fell in love with Humphrey Bogart (or “Bogie,” as she still calls him) while filming To Have and Have Not (1944), and Davis married Gary Merrill, with whom she appeared in All About Eve.


15 Sep


Brad Pitt stars in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Projected Nominees
(1) Frost/Nixon (Universal, 12/5, trailer)
(2) Australia (Fox, 11/26, trailer)
(3) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount, 12/19, trailer)
(4) Doubt (Miramax, 10/10, trailer)
(5) Milk (Focus Features, 12/5, trailer)
Major Threats
(6) The Soloist (DreamWorks, 11/21, trailer)
(7) Revolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage, 12/26, trailer)
(8) Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight, 11/19, clip) NEW
(9) Changeling (Universal, 10/31, trailer)
(10) The Reader (The Weinstein Company, 12/12)
In the Mix
(11) The Dark Knight (Warner Brothers, 7/18, trailer)
(12) Rachel Getting Married (Sony Pictures Classics, TBA, trailer)
(13) The Road (M-G-M, 11/26)
(14) Body of Lies (Warner Brothers, 10/10, trailer)
(15) The Visitor (Overture, 4/18, trailer)
(16) The Wrestler (Fox Searchlight, 12/TBA) NEW
(17) Gran Torino (Warner Brothers, 12/25)
On the Outside
(18) Nothing But the Truth (Yari Film Group, TBA)
(19) Defiance (Paramount Vantage, 12/12, trailer)
(20) Happy-Go-Lucky (Miramax, 9/26, trailer)
(21) WALL-E (Disney, 6/27, trailer)
(22) Seven Pounds (Columbia, 12/19, trailer)
(23) The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight, 10/17, clip)
(24) Brothers (M-G-M, 12/4)
(25) Miracle at St. Anna (Touchstone, 9/26, trailer)
(26) Che (IFC Films, TBA, trailer)
Awaiting Distribution
(TBA) The Young Victoria (TBA, TBA)

Clint Eastwood directs Angelina Jolie in Changeling

Projected Nominees
(1) Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)
(2) Baz Luhrmann (Australia)
(3) David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
(4) John Patrick Shanley (Doubt)
(5) Joe Wright (The Soloist)
Major Threats
(6) Gus Van Sant (Milk)
(7) Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road)
(8) Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) NEW
(9) Clint Eastwood (Changeling)
(10) Stephen Daldry (The Reader)
In the Mix
(11) Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
(12) Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married)
(13) John Hillcoat (The Road)
(14) Ridley Scott (Body of Lies)
(15) Tom McCarthy (The Visitor)
(16) Darren Aranofsky (The Wrestler) NEW
(17) Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
On the Outside
(18) Rod Lurie (Nothing But the Truth)
(19) Edward Zwick (Defiance)
(20) Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky)
(21) Andrew Stanton (WALL-E)
(22) Gabriele Muccino (Seven Pounds)
(23) Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees)
(24) Jim Sheridan (Brothers)
(25) Spike Lee (Miracle at St. Anna)
(26) Steven Soderbergh (Che)
Awaiting Distribution
(TBA) Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria)

Sean Penn in Milk

Projected Nominees
(1) Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
(2) Sean Penn (Milk)
(3) Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
(4) Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) NEW
(5) Robert Downey, Jr. (The Soloist)
Major Threats
(6) Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
(7) Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon)
(8) Hugh Jackman (Australia)
(9) Leonardo DiCapro (Revolutionary Road; also Body of Lies)
(10) Viggo Mortensen (The Road; also Appaloosa and Good)
In the Mix
(11) Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
(12) Will Smith (Seven Pounds)
(13) Benicio Del Toro (Che)
(14) Ralph Fiennes (The Reader)
On the Outside
(15) Daniel Craig (Defiance)
(16) Jake Gyllenhaal (Brothers)
(17) Josh Brolin (W.)
Awaiting Distribution
(TBA) Martin Landau (Lovely, Still) NEW
(TBA) Jeff Goldblum (Adam Resurrected) NEW

Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky

Projected Nominees
(1) Meryl Streep (Doubt; also Mamma Mia!)
(2) Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
(3) Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road; also The Reader)
(4) Nicole Kidman (Australia)
(5) Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long)
Major Threats
(6) Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
(7) Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
(8) Kate Beckinsale (Nothing But the Truth)
(9) Keira Knightley (The Duchess)
(10) Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)
In the Mix
(11) Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
(12) Dakota Fanning (The Secret Life of Bees)
(13) Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy) NEW
On the Outside
(14) Sophie Okonedo (Skin)
(15) Ziyi Zhang (Mei Lanfang)
Awaiting Distribution
(TBA) Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Stoning of Soraya M.) NEW
(TBA) Ellen Burstyn (Lovely, Still) NEW
(TBA) Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria)
(TBA) Michelle Monaghan (Trucker)

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Projected Nominees
(1) Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
(2) Jamie Foxx (The Soloist)
(3) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
(4) Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road)
(5) James Franco (Milk)
Major Threats
(6) Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)
(7) Russell Crowe (Body of Lies)
(8) Alan Alda (Nothing But the Truth)
(9) Brandon Walters (Australia)
(10) Liev Schreiber (Brothers; or Defiance)
In the Mix
(11) Josh Brolin (Milk)
(12) Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) NEW
(13) Robert Duvall (The Road)
On the Outside
(14) Jason Butler Harner (Changeling)
(15) Jamie Bell (Defiance)
(16) Tobey Maguire (Brothers)
(17) Mark Strong (Body of Lies)
(18) Woody Harrelson (Seven Pounds)
(19) John Malkovich (Changeling; also Burn After Reading)
(20) Jeremy Irons (Appaloosa)
Awaiting Distribution
(TBA) Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles) NEW
(TBA) Peter O’Toole (Dean Spanley) NEW

Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Projected Nominees
(1) Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
(2) Vera Farmiga (Nothing But the Truth)
(3) Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
(4) Rosemary DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
(5) Viola Davis (Doubt)
Major Threats
(6) Queen Latifah (The Secret Life of Bees)
(7) Amy Adams (Doubt)
(8) Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) NEW
(9) Catherine Keener (The Soloist)
(10) Kathy Bates (Revolutionary Road)
In the Mix
(11) Elsa Zylberstein (I’ve Loved You So Long) NEW
(12) Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds)
On the Outside
(13) Charlize Theron (The Road)
Awaiting Distribution
(TBA) Miranda Richardson (The Young Victoria)

Simon Beaufoy adapted Vikus Swarup’s novel Q&A into Slumdog Millionaire

Projected Nominees
(1) Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) NEW
(2) Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon)
(3) Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
(4) John Michael Shanley (Doubt)
(5) Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road)
Major Threats
(6) David Hare (The Reader)
(7) Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight)
(8) Joe Penhall (The Road)
(9) William Monahan (Body of Lies)
In the Mix
(10) Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick (Defiance)
(11) Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees)
(12) James McBride (Miracle at St. Anna)

Susannah Grant wrote The Soloist

Projected Nominees
(1) Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie (Australia)
(2) Dustin Lance Black (Milk)
(3) Susannah Grant (The Soloist)
(4) Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)
(5) Tom McCarthy (The Visitor)
Major Threats
(6) J. Michael Straczynski (Changeling)
(7) Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler) NEW
(8) Nick Schenk (Gran Torino)
(9) Rod Lurie (Nothing But the Truth)
(10) Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
(11) Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky)
In the Mix
(12) Andrew Stanton (WALL-E)
(13) Courtney Hunt (Frozen River)
(14) Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds)
(15) Peter Buchman, Steven Soderbergh (Che)


15 Sep

The more I think about yesterday, the more it seems like an episode of Peyton Place, or perhaps like one of the Inarritu-Arriaga films with three bizarrely inter-connected stories. If only…

First, I was shocked to learn that a guy from a privileged background with whom I grew up had been arrested over the weekend for breaking into a woman’s residence and sexually assaulting her. Then, I was delighted to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of my grandmother’s dearest friends. And, finally, I accompanied my mother to the hospital where she works, and was deeply saddened to encounter in the lobby one of our oldest and dearest friends, who tearfully told us that his wife was upstairs and had only days—perhaps only hours—left to live.

Life: a perfectly good one is thrown away; another goes on longer than most of us can even fathom; and a third nears its end far, far too soon.


13 Sep

Members of the public who attended the 2008 Toronto Film Festival have voted to award Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight, 11/28, clip), the Danny Boyle-directed romantic-drama set in India, with the Cadillac People’s Choice Award, the festival’s highest honor. The first runner-up is Kristopher Belman‘s More Than a Game (no distributor/date/trailer yet), a documentary about a grade-school basketball team that fortuitously included future-great LeBron James, and the second-runner up is Cyrus Nowrasteh‘s searing story of Iranian injustice The Stoning of Soraya M. (Mpower Distribution, 10/31, trailer).

This award has been distributed since 1978, and films that have won it have almost always gone on to garner attention from the Academy, especially in recent years. They include: Best Boy (1979, received 1 nomination and won: Documentary); Chariots of Fire (1981, received 7 nominations, winning 4: Picture, Original Screenplay, Original Score, Costume Design); The Big Chill (1983, received 3 nominations: Picture, Actress, Original Screenplay); Places in the Heart (1984, received 7 nominations, winning 2: Actress, Original Screenplay); The Official Story (1985, received 2 nominations, winning 1: Foreign Film); Le Declin de l’empire Americain (1986, received 1 nomination: Foreign Film); The Princess Bride (1987, received 1 nomination: Original Song); Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988, received 1 nomination: Foreign Film); Cyrano de Bergerac (1990, received 5 nominations, winning 1: Costume Design); The Fisher King (1991, received 5 nominations, winning 1: Supporting Actress); Antonia (1995, received 1 nomination and won: Foreign Film); Shine (1996, received 7 nominations, winning 1: Actor); Life Is Beautiful (1998, received 7 nominations, winning 3: Actor, Foreign Film, Original Score); American Beauty (1999, received 8 nominations, winning 5: Picture, Director, Actor, Original Screenplay, Cinematography); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, received 10 nominations, winning 4: Foreign Film, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction-Set Direction); Amelie (2001, received 5 nominations: Original Screenplay, Foreign Film, Cinematography, Art Direction-Set Direction, Sound); Whale Rider (2002, received 1 nomination; Actress); Hotel Rwanda (2004, received 3 nominations: Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay); Tsotsi (2005, received 1 nomination and won: Foreign Film); Eastern Promises (2007, received 1 nomination: Actor).


12 Sep

<center><b>GOOD MORNING!</b></center>

Debbie Reynolds, flanked by Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, in Singin’ in the Rain

I just off the phone after a half-hour interview with the great Debbie Reynolds for inclusion in my ongoing book project on the history of American movies. Would you believe that the 76-year-old star of the M-G-M musical classic Singin’ in the Rain and mother of Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher is still performing regularly after 60 years in the business? She’s wrapping up a six-day engagement in Atlantic City this evening, and while she normally does not do interviews during her tours she was nice enough to make an exception for this project, which, like her beloved Hollywood Motion Picture Museum (now being built in Tennessee), seeks to keep the great movies of the past alive for future generations. For those who are unfamiliar with or interested in refamiliarizing themselves with Reynolds work, here are a few must-sees: 1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952); 2. Tammy and the Bachelor (1957); 3. How the West Was Won (1962); 4. The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964); and 5. Mother (1996). And if you’d like to see her in person, be sure to check out her official web site for a list of upcoming engagements.


12 Sep

<center><b><i>ATWI</i>… INTERVIEW SERIES *<u>DANNY BOYLE</u>*</b></center>

Danny Boyle

Following is the audio of a roughly 20-minute chat that I had with director Danny Boyle on Tuesday  morning at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Boyle, whose previous credits include Trainspotting (1995), The Beach (2000), 28 Days Later (2002), Millions (2004), and Sunshine (2007), was in town to premiere the final cut of his latest film Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight, 11/28, clip), a slightly different version of which created massive buzz at the Telluride Film Festival just days ago. The film was received in Toronto with great affection by both the press and public, and numerous respected awards watchers have already gone on the record with their belief that it will receive a Best Picture nomination in January. I spoke with Boyle about another film that took a similar path to the Oscars last year; the film’s unique music; notion of a “small epic”; working with unknown adult actors and, against the advice of W.C. Fields, with child actors; the real “star” of the film, India; and more. Give it a listen…