Ok, let me kick off my live blog of this year’s Academy Awards by sharing my picks for who will win (and bear in mind, I’ve never won an Oscar pool in my life—although that might just mean I’m overdue). Refresh the page frequently to see my running commentary on this year’s ceremony…
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita N’yongo, 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Film: Frozen
Best Foreign Film: The Great Beauty
Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Song: “Let it Go” from Frozen
Best Score: Philomena
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6
Best Makeup: Dallas Buyers Club
Best Production Design: The Great Gatsby
Best Editing: Gravity
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Sound Editing: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Visual Effects: Gravity
Best Animated Short: Get a Horse
Best Live Action Short: The Voorman Problem
6:51pm I’ve been watching the preshow for almost an hour now and I’ve yet to see a single movie star. John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard… is this the Grammys, the Tonys or the Emmys?
6:59pm Is there a more depressing sight on TV than Ross Matthews and Kelly Osbourne passing fashion judgment on others? They make me miss the relative subtlety and class of Joan and Melissa Rivers.
7:02pm Lupita N’yongo. Finally, a movie star!
7:20pm Ryan Seacrest can’t believe this is Bette Midler’s first time at the Oscars! Because it’s not. It’s her first time performing at the Oscars. She’s been nominated twice before (for The Rose and For the Boys), you dope.
7:30pm Jennifer Lawrence falls on the red carpet! Okay, that shtick is getting a little old…
8:06pm Robin Roberts asks Bill Murray who makes him laugh. He says “Dave Letterman.” Which reminds me 20 years ago, Dave hosted the Oscars and I still say he was funny! (Also, Pulp Fiction should’ve beaten Forrest Gump.) And… cut to Jimmy Kimmel?
8:14pm Why didn’t Robin Roberts congratulate Will Smith for winning Razzies for After Earth?
8:24pm Lara Spencer says, “The Oscars is about to start.” And good grammar is about to end.
8:25pm Kevin Spacey says John Stamos just walked past him. Was that a set-up for his Full House of Cards joke or is John Stamos really at the Oscars? STAMOS! *shakes fist at sky*
8:34pm I think Ellen DeGeneres’ opening monologue is funny, but I can’t tell because I’m distracted by her pirate getup. Is that Seinfeld‘s puffy shirt?
8:40pm ANNE HATHAWAY’S DRESS IS BLINDING ME!!!!!
8:42pm Jared Leto wins. I’m 1 for 1. Tied with everybody else.
8:46pm 30 Seconds to Mars? Jared Leto’s speech was 30 seconds too long! (H/T Jebidiah Atkinson.)
8:58pm The Great Gatsby wins Best Costume Design. I’m 2 for 2! (I didn’t even see it, and I still knew it was going to win.)
9:01pm Dallas Buyers Club wins Best Makeup and Hair Design. I’m 3 for 3! Because there’s just no way Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa or The Lone Ranger could ever win an Oscar.
9:03pm Harrison Ford calls American Hustle a “scam.” On that we agree…
9:13pm Mr. Hublot wins Best Animated Short. And I lose the Oscar pool.
9:16pm Frozen wins! And I’m not talking about Kim Novak’s face.
9:21pm I was right about Frozen, and Gravity for Best Visual Effects. Maybe I will win the Oscar pool after all…
9:24pm Have I mentioned that I hated Her? Here’s why…
9:31pm Helium wins for Best Live Action Short over The Voorman Problem. And that’s a Fretts problem in the Oscar pool.
9:34pm The Lady in Number 6 wins for Best Documentary Short. Called it! (When in doubt, always go with the Holocaust doc.)
9:37pm 20 Feet for Stardom wins Best Documentary Feature. Hey, I saw it at the Montclair Film Festival! (And I interviewed Darlene Love there.) Good trick, Darlene–singing your acceptance speech. They can’t play you off.
9:49pm The Great Beauty wins Best Foreign Language Film. I have no joke here, just want to say I got it right!
9:51pm Why is Madea dressed as a man?
9:57pm Why is U2 stealing Mumford and Sons’ standing-in-a-line shtick?
10:02pm Did Jennifer Lawrence just threaten to “drop a boob” during that group selfie with Ellen? OK, she won me over again…
10:09pm Gravity wins both Best Sound awards. That sound you hear is me roaring back to life in my Oscar pool!
10:12pm Lupita Nyong’oHHHH YEAH!!!! (But why is Liza Minnelli hugging her?)
10:25pm Ok, they finally got around to Steve Martin. Where is Bill Murray’s honorary Oscar? “Tell ‘em who’s up for Best Shooter…” (Nice tribute to Harold Ramis, too.)
10:30pm Gravity wins for Best Editing. I wish these guys could edit this ceremony! (They could start by cutting out the two times Ellen has missed her entrance cues.)
10:32pm Oh, they played off Alfonso Cuaron! That’s okay, he’ll get a chance to accept Best Director later.
10:36pm If I click my heels together, will it make Pink disappear?
10:44pm Production design: The Great Gatsby. See costume design above.
10:46pm “Please welcome the talented Chris Evans.” Somebody got paid to write that?
10:55pm I’m not sure Joe Kidd is what Elmore Leonard would want to be remembered for…
11:02pm Bette Midler looking surprised to get a standing ovation is the best acting she’s done in years.
11:05 pm GOLDIE HAWN CAN’T STOP SMILING! (No, really, she can’t…)
11:08pm Did John Travolta just have a stroke trying to pronounce Idina Menzel?
11:12pm This is why we go to rehearsals, Jamie Foxx…
11:24pm Typewriters. Screenplays. I get it!
11:27pm Have I mentioned that I hated Her? Oh, I did…?
11:35pm TOLDJA Alfonso Cuaron would win!
11:44pm Cate Blanchett’s husband gives hope to ugly guys everywhere.
11:46pm Nervous smattering of applause for Woody Allen…
11:50pm Matthew McConaugHEYYYYYY!!!!
11:52pm Woody Allen got more applause than God. Welcome to Hollywood!
11:54pm Matthew McConaughey is chasing himself 10 years in the future? I want some of what he’s been smoking!
11:55pm Razzie winner Will Smith presents Best Picture. This must be Oscar history!
11:57pm 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. And this show felt like it lasted 12 years. Good night!
Was it her or was it me? I was interviewing Amber Heard about costarring with Kevin Costner in the new spy movie 3 Days to Kill for The New York Daily News when I congratulated her on getting engaged to Johnny Depp—and she hung up on me! Here’s the transcript of our chat. If you see any indications of trouble earlier in our six-minute conversation, you’re clearly more sensitive than I am!
What made you want to make this movie?
I liked the idea of making an imaginative, fun, suspenseful yet heartfelt story. I was attracted to the character of Vivi, because she’s created a world for herself where she exists in a slightly distant reality. It’s that heightened reality that gives her—and me performing as her, or living as her—a certain freedom. I liked the idea of having that kind of liberty to push the boundaries a bit and try something new and try my hand at a character that felt like a chameleon within a movie about something. I liked the idea of also making a movie with McG, because he is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a while. He has this contagious energy and infectious enthusiasm that just makes you want to be involved. Most importantly, I was attracted to the idea of being a part of something that Luc Besson was making. He’s been one of my favorite filmmakers of all time for as long as I can remember. And both he and McG have the ability to make strong, empowered, cool and fearless female characters that they don’t feel the need to apologize for. That’s rare.
How was working with Kevin Costner? What’s the key to his enduring appeal?
He’s from a different generation, a different time. I mean that in a good way. He has an old movie-star charm. He walks on the set and it’s like he walked out of a different time. He’s a quintessential American movie star. He very much is like his character Ethan in many ways—in his cadence, his demeanor. He has a no-frills, no-fuss, no-bullshit way of existing.
How were you received by the locals in Paris?
I had a great time in Paris. I love Paris. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. And it really is an essential character in this movie. Paris provides a very rich and textured backdrop for our modern, sleek story. It’s very shiny and fast-paced and modern, but we juxtapose it against the backdrop of Paris. It provides a great contrast. And especially for someone like Kevin Costner, who is already an alienated presence in the story. He’s the quintessential American wandering alone in the streets of Paris. It gives our story some credit. It was the perfect place. But I have to say, it was kind of weird to be leaning out of a car window killing gangsters in a gunfight wearing six-inch Louboutins and look over my shoulder and I’m in front of the Eiffel Tower (laughs). It was a really weird, surreal experience to be stunt-driving around the Arc de Triomphe. There is something very trippy about that.
I’ve always said, I’d rather shoot a gun than throw a bouquet. I have a lot of fun being able to participate in that way. It’s not very common for women to find roles where they have a participatory role in their fate. Normally, they’re reactionary characters, so I look for all the chances I can.
I want to say congratulations on your engagement. How’s that going?
You know what? We’ve got to end the interview. I’m so sorry. Thank you. (Hangs up)
Team USA’s thrilling victory over Russia in hockey at the Olympics today inspired me to—finally—watch Miracle, the much-loved 2004 Disney docudrama about the 1980 gold medal-winning American underdogs. Why hadn’t I seen it before? I’m not much of a hockey fan, and watching the game this morning made me realize why—the sport is too imprecise, and there’s not enough scoring. It’s like soccer on skates.
Under the right circumstances, though, I can enjoy a hockey game. I’ve been to a few in person and found them much more exciting than watching them on TV, where it’s hard to follow the puck, even in HD. And big events like the Olympics or the Stanley Cup Finals can hold my attention. But the main reason why I hadn’t seen Miracle until now is that it runs 135 minutes. That’s almost as long as a real hockey game!
So I was pleasantly surprised that Miracle flew by. It’s a quintessential post-Rocky sports movie. Even though I knew how the story was going to end, watching it unfold was still exhilarating. Much of the credit goes to Kurt Russell, who doesn’t dull any of coach Herb Brooks’ blade-sharp edges. His hairstyle resembles a helmet (it also makes him look a little bit like a character from The LEGO Movie) and his fashion sense is almost as offensive as his personality. Yet Russell makes him likable, and the great Noah Emmerich (The Americans) provides strong support as his assistant coach.
The team is aptly played by a bunch of still-unknowns, with the exception of Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY) as goaltender Jim Craig. Director Gavin O’Connor shoots the games with a visceral feel for the action; he gets much better camera angles than on your average static NHL telecast. The script lays on the Carter-era malaise a little too thickly (yes, we get it, America needed a lift), but if you’re not cheering “USA! USA!,” as my hockey-hating son and I were by the end, well, you might just be a Red.
It’s true: I loved a hockey movie. Now that’s a Miracle.
Bruce Fretts: Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and we’re snowed in at home, I decided to watch a rom-com with my 12-year-old daughter, Olive.
Olive: No, that was my idea. I demanded a rom-com, Pop!
Bruce: I picked You’ve Got Mail, because it’s a movie I’ve never seen before, and it was made before you were born, so I wanted to see if it held up after 15 years. Why did you demand we see a rom-com? Why do you love rom-coms so much?
Olive: I just love them. When I’m not in the mood for any particular sort of movie, rom-coms can bring goodness in my heart.
Bruce; I’ve resisted seeing You’ve Got Mail since I’d seen Sleepless in Seattle, which also stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and was directed by Nora Ephorn, and I didn’t like it because I thought it was sappy. So I was afraid this was going to be sappy, too. We tried to watch it around Christmastime, but there was some technical difficulty with On Demand, and it wouldn’t work. So I was convinced the universe didn’t want me to see it. But we watched it, and I didn’t hate it.
Olive: Oh, that’s nice.
Bruce: I did have some problems with it. What did you think of it?
Olive: I liked it. It was a good movie and it made my heart feel good. Let me explain the plot. There’s a man and a woman who are in these relationships that they aren’t very comfortable with, and they meet in a chatroom when e-mail was all cool and everyone was always on it. It still is, but now there’s texting. Anyway, so they have rival bookstores. Tom Hanks plays the owner of the corporate one, and he’s opening up something similar to Barnes & Noble, which is around the corner from a shop…
Bruce: …that’s called The Shop Around the Corner.
Olive: So they become rivals because the Shop Around the Corner is getting put out of business by his store. Then he finds out she is the rival bookstore owner, but she doesn’t know who he is.
Bruce: He finds out she’s the one he’s been emailing, but she doesn’t know. And that’s one of my big problems with the movie. That happens halfway through the movie, so Tom Hanks’ character is being cruel for the second half.
Olive: It’s his whole plot to make her fall in love with him.
Bruce: He manipulates her and makes her think she was stood up by this guy, but she keeps emailing him so she looks pathetic. And he’s like her puppetmaster, pulling the strings to make her fall in love with him. And when she finally finds out it’s him—SPOILER ALERT!—she’s not even mad at him!
Olive: She just smiles and kisses him and that’s the end.
Bruce: That’s my problem with rom-coms—they’re predictable. You know the couple’s going to end up together.
Olive: It makes me so happy! It’s like, whatever happens, it’s all going to be okay, because this is a rom-com!
Bruce: My other big problem with the movie is I don’t think Meg Ryan is as cute as everybody else seems to think she is.
Bruce: Sigourney Weaver? Oh, I think she’s attractive!
Olive: Whoever the curly-haired lady was. At that time, I guess people thought she was gorgeous. Meg Ryan’s supposed to be so gorgeous, but I don’t really see it.
Bruce: I just think she overplays the cutesiness.
Olive: She’s so innocent, it’s unbelievable.
Bruce: Did you feel like the movie was dated? I did—all those Barnes & Noble superstores are now closed because Amazon put them out of business.
Olive: I agree with that. The AOL stuff was kind of weird…
Bruce: …with the dial-up connection…
Olive: And chatrooms? I haven’t heard of one since I was 3 and was on Webkinz and could talk to people, like “Hi, I’m Panda and I like carrots and hugs!” You can’t click on a chatroom on Gmail.
Bruce: That’s the other thing. They meet in a chatroom and they start emailing but they don’t know who the other person is or what they look like. Today, it’d be like “Facebook Friend Request” and the movie’s over. She would see his picture and go, “Oh, that’s the guy who’s putting me out of business—never mind!”
Olive: I get what you’re saying.
Bruce: The movie made me sad, because they talk about how they want to stop New York City from becoming one big strip mall with all these chain stores. And that’s pretty much happened. It made me miss old New York.
Olive: Definitely. That’s why I like SoHo. I like the little streets and stores.
Bruce: You’ve Got Mail seems to be a movie that’s more popular with women than with men. Why do you think that is?
Olive: Because it’s a rom-com, and it makes our hearts feel good.
Bruce: And men don’t like their hearts to feel good?
Bruce: What do they like?
I wasn’t particularly riveted by 1987′s original RoboCop. It came out when I was in college and in a pacifist phase, so the film’s ultra-violence turned me off, even as I appreciated its attempts at sociopolitical satire. So my expectations for the new RoboCop reboot were low, until I saw the trailer, which looked sharp and funny. There were so many actors I love in the cast—The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman, Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael K. Williams, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Samuel L. Jackson—that I figured it couldn’t malfunction. And you know what? It doesn’t.
It might seem counterintuitive to call this a kinder, gentler RoboCop, because there are still scenes of videogame-style mayhem, but no Paul Verhoeven-esque gore, which is how it earned a PG-13, as opposed to the original’s hard R. But Brazilian director Jose Padilha makes sure that no matter how much damage Kinnaman’s less-than-half-man/more-than-half-robot cop dishes out—or endures—the character, and the film, still have a beating heart. (One combat-testing sequence is even wittily scored to “If I Only Had a Heart,” from The Wizard of Oz).
All the actors deliver maximum impact, from Kinnaman’s scuzzily charismatic Alex Murphy to Keaton’s speed-talking billionaire (who could be Night Shift‘s Bill Blazejowski if he’d ever hit it big) to Baruchel’s weaselly marketing guy to Jackson’s hilariously Bill O’Reilly-like blowhard. But the emotional anchors of the film are Cornish as Murphy’s loyally feisty wife and especially Gary Oldman as the scientist torn between making historic advances—not to mention obscene amounts of money—and maintaining Murphy’s humanity inside that high-tech black suit. It’s probably not a coincidence that both Oldman and Keaton are veterans of the Batman franchise, albeit from different eras. They know how to bring realism to a superhero (or super-anti-hero) story. Keaton also displays explosive chemistry with fellow Jackie Brown vet Jackson in one of the film’s best scenes.
The satire remains pointed—and it’s been updated as well. The parallels between RoboCops and drones are drawn, and the depiction of a surveillance-state Detroit in 2028 probably doesn’t look all that different from what today’s NSA sees on their screens. There are a few, but not too many, nods to the original, particularly when Baruchel repeats the sitcom-within-the-movie’s catchphrase, “I’ll buy that for a dollar!” The new RoboCop, it turns out, is worth much more.
Nobody’s hotter in Hollywood right now than Kevin Hart, who’s riding the momentum of his buddy-cop hit Ride Along—which topped the box office for three weeks. He’s well-positioned for Valentine’s Day weekend with the opening of About Last Night, a remake of the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore rom-com. I interviewed Hart for today’s New York Daily News, and here’s the transcript of our heart-to-Hart.
Had you seen the original film? I was familiar with the original movie and I watched it again to refresh my memory. What we were trying to do was not emulate it but use it as a model and a mold to do what we did, which was modernize it. It gave us a good starting block.
How much has dating changed since the ’80s? So much. From the Tweeting and Facebooking, it’s a completely different world. That’s what we were trying to show.
Is there more or less casual sex now than there was back then? Probably a little more. But there’s a different level of understanding. I’m probably out of that casual sex period in my life, but I definitely went through it. And in going through it, getting it out of my system, it made me appreciate where I am now. I don’t frown upon it at all. I understand why it happened, and for me, I moved on to a place in my life where I don’t need to partake of that.
Did you identify with any of the experiences depicted in the film? Oh, man. The relationship that [my character] Bernie and Joan [Regina Hall] share I identify with completely. It’s that crazy angry couple that put their business out for everyone to see. It’s all out there on display. There’s no holding back. They’re that couple that everyone loves to hate. You don’t want to invite them because you’re afraid they’ll mess up a good time. But at the same time, they’re funny. You love to have them around because they make you laugh.
Would you say this version’s raunchier than the ’80s version? It’s a little raunchier, this one. Maybe a lot more. But it’s good. It’s in a way that people will be able to relate with a lot more and identify with these characters, which is your goal when you’re making a movie like this.
Does this movie show off a new side of you? Of course it does. This movie actually shows levels that I have. It’s different from what I was in Think Like a Man, Ride Along and Grudge Match. I’m showing chops here, and that’s what you want at the end of the day. You want your fans to see growth in your craft. They’re definitely going to see it, and as a result of that, the word of mouth is going to be very good. People are going to be talking about this film.
Did it help that you had worked with Regina before on Think Like a Man to establish that love/hate chemistry? Oh my God, so much, man. I put Regina on a huge pedestal because not only is she one of the funniest women in the world, but she’s definitely one of the best improvisers I’ve ever worked with. She never lost a beat. And I consider myself a damn good improviser. I never lost her, she never lost me. We were in sync pretty much the whole time.
Is it true that you promised her you wouldn’t get excited during your sex scenes? Yes, and I was a complete professional.
You worked with Michael Ealy on Think Like a Man, too—does that help with your About Last Night bromance? Yeah, not only are we great friends on camera, but we’re great friends off camera. When you have that chemistry, it leads to better moviemaking because it comes across as genuine on film, and that’s what you want.
Is it different working with your peers than with Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone on Grudge Match? You know what? I honestly had a great time being around De Niro and Stallone. It was a dream come true, like me being that kid in a candy store, soaking up everything like a sponge. And on this film, it was a completely different experience, because it was the opposite. Me, Mike, Regina and Joy, we have such a great rapport that it was fun watching each other work. At the same time we all motivated each other to push the envelope.
With Think Like a Man and Best Man Holiday doing so well, is there an untapped market for African-American romantic comedies that’s now being served? At the end of the day, people love good movies that everybody can watch, regardless of your race, color, shape or size. And ultimately that’s what you want to do—deliver great product. But that untapped market is just a market of great relationship movies. And About Last Night falls right into that class.
Why are two other ’80s remakes, RoboCop and Endless Love, opening the same weekend? I think that’s quite the coincidence. Time will tell next weekend. On Valentine’s Day, people who identified with the original About Last Night will come to see our approach as well as people who just want to see the movie in general.
Why should people see this movie on Valentine’s Day as opposed to RoboCop or Endless Love? People should go see this movie a) because I’m in it b) because it’s a movie that appeals to everyone. We’re dealing with real relationship problems and this is what people need to see. You’re going to laugh and you’ll probably keep yourself from making the same dumb mistakes you’ve made before.