TIFF2015 :: 28 Hand Picked Films From A Toronto Film Festival Director

by Shannonn Kelly
September 10, 2015 03:25AM EST

 Colin Farrell,  John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw in "The Lobster" by Greek director  Yorgos Lanthimos
Colin Farrell, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw in “The Lobster” by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos

360 days ago, I took a break from blogging, to focus on writing and editing my Screenplays and also work on a few documentary projects.

But alas, the big Monster is back that is the Toronto International Film Festival and it’s the 40th Anniversary. So It’s a little hard to ignore. And since last season I saw Justin Long turned into a Walrus, this year I want to see Colin Farrell turned into a *Lobster* (winky face)…

 

 

Here are my Picks for #TIFF15
Continue reading “TIFF2015 :: 28 Hand Picked Films From A Toronto Film Festival Director”

Taking a Break From Blogging

Blogger Break
Blogger Break

Monday September 15, 2014, 05:32AM, EST

Hello Readers:

I just completed a great Toronto International Film Festival and have lots of images and some stories to share. Also, I networked with some awesome people who talked to me about wanting to see my scripts.

Being especially propelled by my excellent placement in this year’s Academy Nicholl’s Fellowship (besting my previous placement by a HUGE percentage), I feel I need to take a break from blogging for awhile and concentrate a little more on my screenwriting.

I might come back to blogging in a couple of weeks or a few months or a year. But until I do, I just want to Thank you for reading my indie blog and letting me write about things big and small and somewhere in between. I have much gratitude to those of you who reached out and commented on my blogs or advanced their reading via Social Media.

I’ll keep in touch on Social Media and you can always find me on FaceBook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram.

Stay Healthy and Creative…

Thanks kindly,
Shannonn

 

TIFF2014 :: Hand Picked Films From A Toronto Film Festival Director

by Shannonn Kelly
06:45AM, EST, September 04, 2014

Go to Character actor Timothy Spall gets his own light in Mr. Turner, directed by Mike Leigh.
The UK’s ‘go to’ character actor Timothy Spall gets his own light in “Mr. Turner”, directed by Mike Leigh.

While Cannes, Sundance, Telluride and TIFF fight over policy and premiere status, the good news is for audiences is that around 30 films from Telluride this past weekend and Cannes festival in May and Sundance, will premiere to Toronto audiences at the 39th Annual Toronto International Film Festival starting today.

What TIFF doesn’t really get is that most cinephiles don’t travel all over the world to see films at other film festivals. This is mainly what film festival programmers do. So no matter where a film has premiered outside of the country of Canada before, it’s still a premiere to Toronto audiences.

According to the TorontoStar.com:

TIFF’s new policy states that all films playing during the fest’s first four days, from Thursday through Sunday inclusive, must be either be a World or North American premiere. Films failing to meet these criteria will screen in the last week of the 11-day event.

Cannes Winners coming to TIFF that I highly suggest are:

  1. MR. TURNER (UK) director (the incredible) Mike Leigh cast (the incredible) UK character actor staple, Timothy Spall in the ultimate “Art film” where Spall shines brilliantly in this biopic period piece that starts in 1826 about J.M.W. Turner, one of the greatest English landscape painters of all time. Timothy Spall won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his outstanding performance.
  2. LEVIATHAN (Russia) director Andrey Zvyagintsev  Won Best Screenplay at Cannes and is the story about a proud patriarch fighting to protect his family home from a corrupt local official in post Soviet Russia.
  3. FOXCATCHER (USA) director Bennett Miller won for Best Director at Cannes in May. He also directed “Capote” (2005) and “Moneyball” (2011). It stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as brothers in the true life story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances. It also stars Anthony Michael Hall, Steve Carell and Sienna Miller.
  4. MOMMY (Quebec, Canada) director Xavier Dolan won the Jury Prize, and an extended standing ovation, at Cannes for his latest feature.

Other films on my list include:

  1. AN EYE FOR BEAUTY / Le règne de la beauté (Quebec, Canada) According to TIFF: Romantic drama becomes a means for a sharply observant societal critique in the new film from Academy Award winner Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions), about a married Québécois architect who embarks upon a torrid love affair with a young Toronto woman. While many critics say the story doesn’t live up to the usual ‘Arcand’ standards, the film should still be heads above a bad ‘Canadian’ film.
  2. A LITTLE CHAOS, (UK) director Alan Rickman also stars as King Louis XIV in this historical drama of the female landscape-gardener of Versailles played by Kate Winslet. This is Rickman’s 2nd feature that he directed. His first was 17 years ago, “The Winter Guest” starring Emma Thompson.
  3. A SECOND CHANCE / En chance til (Denmark) director Susanne Bier. This is the 2nd film from Denmark on my list this year. Bier directs this story that asks how far would decent human beings be willing to go, when tragedy blurs the line between just and unjust?
  4. BOYCHOIR (Quebec, Canada) director François Girard who directed “Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould” and “The Red Violin”. Two of my favorites. This family friendly film stars Dustin Hoffman who had his directorial debut last year at the age of 76 with “Quartet”. Hoffman also stars in the highly anticipated “The Cobbler”.
  5. CAKE (USA) director Daniel Barnz gives Jennifer Aniston her “Blind Side” role as the acerbic, hilarious Claire Simmons who becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group. While I am NOT and never will be an Aniston fan, I’m as curious as the next person to see her in this film which didn’t have the best start in pre-production. The film also stars Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, William H. Macy and his lovely talented wife, Felicity Huffman.
  6. COMING HOME (China) Director Yimou Zhang who helmed the excellent “House of Flying Daggers” (2004), directs this script from novel turned screenplay about a Chinese man who is forced into marriage and flees to America, but when he returns home, he is sent to a labor camp. It stars the lovely Li Gong, and the dashing Daoming Chen.
  7. EDEN (France) director Mia Hansen-Løve. Felix de Givry, Greta Gerwig, Pauline Etienne star in this underground dance music film which traces the rise of the French electronic-music boom in the 1990s and the DJ who’s credited with inventing “French house” music. Music in the film includes Daft Punk, Joe Smooth and Frankie Knuckles.
  8. FOREIGN BODY / OBCI CIALO (Poland) Director Krysztof Zanussi – According to TIFF: A dashing young Italian in Poland finds himself caught between two women — a novitiate nun and a ruthless corporate ladder-climber — in this lacerating vision of contemporary Poland.
  9. GETT, THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM / GETT, LE PROCÈS DE VIVANE AMSALEM (Israel) directors Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz bring you a riveting and timely courtroom drama where in Israel there is neither civil marriage nor civil divorce. Only rabbis can legitimate a marriage or its dissolution. But this dissolution is only possible with full consent from the husband, who in the end has more power that the judges. Viviane Amsalem has been applying for divorce for three years. But her husband Elisha will not agree. His cold intransigence, Viviane’s determination to fight for her freedom, and the ambiguous role of the judges shape a procedure in which tragedy vies with absurdity, and everything is brought out for judgment, apart from the initial request.
  10. ITSI BITSI (Denmark) director Ole Christian Madsen (Flame & Citron) directs this 1962 countercultural romance based on events where Peace activist Eik Skaløe meets Iben and falls head over heels in love, but when Iben refuses to commit herself to one man, Eik tries to win her over by transforming from poet to writer, nomad, junkie and eventually lead singer in the destined-to-become-legendary band STEPPEULVENE.
  11. LIFE IN A FISHBOWL / VONARSTRÆTI (Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic) director Baldvin Zophoníasson presides over an intriguing, According to TIFF: multiple-narrative drama that follows three people — a struggling single mother, a former athlete trying to scale the corporate ladder, and a once-acclaimed author turned full-time drunk — whose lives intersect in surprising ways.
  12. MAGICAL GIRL (Spain) director Carlos Vermut conducts a stylish noir thriller about the father of an ill girl who tries to obtain his daughter last wish, the dress of the main character of a Japanese TV series.
  13. MAY ALLAH BLESS FRANCE !  (France) director Abd Al Malik is a French rapper, author, and spoken word artist. This is his directorial debut with this adaptation of his 2004 autobiography, chronicling his upbringing in the crime-and drug-ridden streets of Strasbourg and his life-changing encounters with hip hop and religion.
  14. NIGHTCRAWLER (USA) director Dan Gilroy. Two words. Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s a down and outer who  stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism. This film also brings back Rene Russo who we haven’t seen in quite awhile
  15. OVER YOUR DEAD BODY  / KUIME (Japan) director Takashi Miike A theatre troupe rehearsing a classic play of murder, betrayal and vengeance find life bloodily imitating art backstage at a Kabuki performance.
  16. PRIDE (United Kingdom) director Matthew Warchus Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine star in this story of UK gay and lesbian activists work to help Welsh  miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.
  17. SHELTER (United Kingdom) the directorial debut of actor Paul Bettany. I’m recommending this as a study more than a powerhouse outing. Bettany was born into a ‘theatre family‘. His maternal grandmother, Olga Gwynne was a successful actress, his maternal grandfather, Lesley Kettle, was a musician. Bettany’s father, Thane Bettany, is still an actor, his mother, Anne Kettle, now retired, was an actress. Bettany’s older sister is a writer. I want to see what he can do first hand… besides being almost transparent eye candy. Bettany has also (of course) cast his wife, actress Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie who I think does some pretty good work.
  18. SPRING (USA) directors, co-editors Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead serve up a love story, horror, romance with a supernatural twist when an American backpacker (Lou Taylor Pucci, “Evil Dead”) while in Italy, falls in love with a beautiful young woman harboring a dark “primordial” secret, played by the stunning German actress Nadia Hilker. Well, I know Italy doesn’t have moors, so there goes that guess.
  19. TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER (USA) directed by Nick Broomfield this documentary delves into a cold case about a notorious serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper,” who terrorized South Central Los Angeles over a span of twenty-five years. The man thought to be the suspect was incarcerated in 2010, but the ongoing investigation has stalled because as the premise surmises, the suspect is black…
  20. THE LITTLE DEATH (Australia) director Josh Lawson. I’ve had an on-going love affair with Australian films. There’s a quirk and a darkness that’s similar to films from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, but still a very distinct and different voice. This dark, sex comedy is another multi-story narrative: A woman with a dangerous fantasy and her partners struggle to please her. A man who begins an affair with his own wife without her knowing anything about it. A couple struggling to keep things together after a sexual experiment spins out of control. A woman who can only find pleasure in her husband’s pain. A call centre operator caught in the middle of a dirty and chaotic phone call. And the distractingly charming new neighbour who connects them all.
  21. THE ELEPHANT SONG / La chanson de l’éléphant (Quebec, Canada) director Charles Binamé has a goldmine on his hands with actor, filmmaker Xavier Dolan who plays Michael, a troubled psychiatric patient.
  22. THE GOLDEN ERA / HUANG JIN SHI DAI (China) director Ann Hui. According to TIFF: The prodigious output of Chinese essayist and novelist Xiao Hong, long overshadowed by the careers of more established male writers in her literary circle, has only recently been discovered. Directed with both authority and grace by Ann Hui, The Golden Era bridges the gaps and tells the story of an exceptional life marked with tragedy and the signs of genius, Hui’s film is a wondrous reflection of China’s turbulent 1930s.
  23. TOKYO TRIBE (Japan) According to TIFF: Midnight Madness favorite Shion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, winner of the 2013 People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award) (which I absolutely loved) ventures even further into uncharted cinematic territory with this yakuza-street gang-hip hop-musical epic. Avoiding the usual fresh young faces of Japanese films, Sono chose to cast real rappers, tattoo artists and stunt performers in many of the main acting roles, a rebellious move that brings vibrancy and freshness to his outlandish street-fighting epic.
  24. WETBUM (USA) director Lindsay Mackay in her directorial debut is getting a lot of buzz on her first outing of a story about Sam is a self-conscious yet stubborn 14-year-old girl who, like many teenagers, is searching for a place to belong. After landing herself into trouble, she is forced to work as a cleaner in the retirement home run by her mother. In between shifts at the home, she tries to find solace in the only place she can, the pool, but it becomes the place where deepest insecurities collide with her raging hormones.
  25. WHIPLASH (USA) director Damien Chazelle has had my attention since Sundance where he won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury prizes on this film about A young musician played by Miles Teller who struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer under the almost masochistic tutor J.K. Simmons (Law & Order, Oz)
  26. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (New Zealand) director Taika Waititi (Boy, Eagle vs Shark) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) co-direct and star in this hilarious mockumentary about a trio of vampires living in a New Zealand suburb who struggle to adapt to life in the 21st century.
  27. WINTER SLEEP / KIS UYKUSU (Turkey) director Nuri Bilge Ceylan who won the Palme D’Or and the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes, brings us a drama set in central Anatolia about a small-town innkeeper whose cultural pretensions and smug self-satisfaction are fatefully undermined over the course of an eventful winter.

You know every year since I’ve been doing this list I always promote world cinema and steer clear of Hollywood films that have distribution and are going to hit theaters in the next 3-4 months. But sometimes you have to break that rule. Here’s why in 2014:

  1. INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (USA) director Maya Forbes cut her writing teeth on The Larry Sanders Show and as a co-writer on Monsters vs. Aliens (09), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (12). A little surprised this is a Gala event. Given this is based on her family growing up and a writer should always write what they know, this may be a good choice. But a Gala…? Mark Ruffalo plays a loving husband and father struggling with manic depression, who is forced to raise his two young daughters on his own. Mark Ruffalo, J.J. Abrams also serve as executive producers. Did I mention it stars Mark Ruffalo…?
  2. THE JUDGE (USA) director David Dobkin. Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall respectively play a defense attorney father and a judge in this tight legal drama, where they also play father and son. This is a film loaded with ‘acting chops’ when you also figure in co-starts, Billy Bod Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, and Jeremy Strong.
  3. MAPS TO THE STARS (Canada / USA) director David Cronenberg with a satirical drama about a Hollywood family chasing fame and and trying to come to grips with ghosts from the past. While the film itself may not be great, the performance of Julianne Moore is.  Moore won the Best Actress Award after its Cannes premiere. The film got its theatrical release in France on May 21 right after Cannes. It also stars Robert Pattinson(yes he can act) and John Cusack. Right now the buzz is Moore may lose a shot at an Oscar nod, because  Focus World, who acquired the United States distribution rights will not be giving it a theatrical release until 2015. All Oscar contenders have to screen before the end of November.
  4. THE COBBLER (USA) director Thomas McCarthy is an actor turned director, with some pretty impressive outings helming, The Station Agent (2003) and “The Visitor” (2007) both exceptional films with an indie feel that garnered tons of award nominations, including Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Richard Jenkins. McCarthy himself won the BAFTA (UK equivalent of the Oscar) for The Station Agent and nominated for and Oscar for “Up” in 2010. The Cobbler which opens in USA theaters September 11th, stars Adam Sandler as the Cobbler, Dan Stevens, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, Ellen Barkin and the incredible Marlon Brando meets Billy Bob Thornton-esque actor Glenn Fleshler who played the villain Errol Childress in “True Detective”.

The 39th Annual Toronto International Film Festival runs September 04-14. For Programs and Tickets, please Click HERE.

The Oscars Scare Ellen DeGeneres – That’s Why She Hosting For A 2nd Time

By Shannonn Kelly
05:34AM, EST, March 01, 2014

7 Years of Good Luck...? Ellen Degeneres Returns to Host The 2014 Academy Awards
7 Years of Good Luck…? Ellen Degeneres Returns to Host The 2014 Academy Awards

I for one am excited For Ellen Degeneres to host the Oscars – despite the fact that anyone would be better than say…Whoopi Goldberg…

Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting the Oscars for the second time tomorrow Sunday, March 2nd and I think she’ll be a hit. She’s timely, funny, engaging and there’s very few people who’ll be angry with her if she makes fun of them because she’s found a balance between being snarky and kind.

It’s been 7 years since her last stint

According to Beth Hanna – Parade Magazine:

Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres sat down with Parade Magazine days before the big show to discuss all things movies and Academy Awards, including why her initial reaction to hosting for a second time around was “no,” on her decision to not dance on the Kodak stage, on being the inspiration for current Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock’s 1999 hit “Miss Congeniality” and more. Interview highlights, below.

On why she initially said no to hosting the Oscars again (her 2007 hosting earned her an Emmy nomination):

“Everybody who works with me thought I was crazy. But the person who lives with me—Portia—was on my side. She thought, ‘I don’t need to go through this, either. She’s gonna be stressed.’”

On why she said yes in the end:

“I thought, ‘All right, let me scare myself again.’ It’s good to do something that scares you.”

On NOT dancing on Sunday’s Oscars:

“I’m not going to be dancing. I dance on my show. I don’t think people need to see that every time I do anything.”

On beating out Jennifer Aniston for the supporting role in 1999’s “EDtv”:

“Jen Aniston is my friend and she recently reminded me that I beat her out of that. I got the part and Jen Aniston didn’t! That’ll probably be the only time that happens.”

On being the inspiration for the film “Miss Congeniality”:

“Miss Congeniality was written based on me. When I was getting ready to cohost the Emmys, the writer saw me [on TV] learning how to walk in a dress and heels. My stylist at the time—a man—was teaching me, and it was hilarious. The Miss Congeniality writer saw it and thought it was brilliant.”

On maybe taking on an occasional dramatic film role:

“Okay, I’ll do that. Put that I’m available for small roles. If they give me the right one, I promise I’ll be nominated for an Oscar, if not win… You know what? I can tell people that on Oscar night.”

Ellen Degeneres Hosting The 2007 Academy Awards in her "Saturday Night Fever" Suit
Ellen Degeneres Hosting The 2007 Academy Awards in her “Saturday Night Fever” Suit

James Franco Wins GALECA ‘Wilde Artist of the Year’ Award

by Shannonn Kelly
07:05AM, EST, January 22, 2014

James Franco rapper, drug dealer 'Alien' in Spring Breakers, earns him  'Wilde Artist of the Year' from GALECA
“Spring Breakers”rapper, drug dealer ‘Alien‘, earns James Franco ‘Wilde Artist of the Year’ from GALECA

James Franco, Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey were singled out for their performances among others on Tuesday by the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA). Garnering ‘Best Film of the Year’ was “12 Years a Slave” (2013) directed by .

These and other winners listed below will receive a ‘Dorian Award‘ from (GALECA), whose awards are based on the ‘Best’ in  TV and Film screened or broadcast in the USA. Continue reading “James Franco Wins GALECA ‘Wilde Artist of the Year’ Award”

Directors’ Federico Fellini and David Lynch Share More Than a Birthday

by Shannonn Kelly
02:40PM, EST, January 20, 2014

Today, January 20th is the Birthday of two very different yet somehow similar Filmmakers:

  • Living: Director, writer, David Keith Lynch born 1946 in Missoula, Montana. He’s 68.
  • Deceased: Director, writer Federico Fellini, born 1920 Rimini, Italy.
Birthday Buddies Federico Fellini and David Lynch
Birthday Buddies Federico Fellini and David Lynch

I started watching films that were age inappropriate when I was in single digits. So it was probably the same story when I saw “Blue Velvet” in 1986, as I believe it was ‘Restricted’ and I probably snuck into the movie theater. I loved the spooky premise of finding a severed ear in a farmers field, loved the character Frank Booth played by now deceased Dennis Hopper. I just completely loved that movie. Continue reading “Directors’ Federico Fellini and David Lynch Share More Than a Birthday”

Award Season : : SAG® Awards :: Who Won – Who Lost – Why I’m Happy

by Shannonn Kelly
08:18AM, EST, January 19, 2014

Last night, the Screen Actors Guild Awards® gave out many of the right trophies, especially in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor categories, where respectively, won for his remarkable change in appearance and character for his role as “Rayon” in “Dallas Buyers Club“.

Some of the 'Right' Winners - Screen Actors Guild Awards® 2014
Some of the ‘Right’ Winners – Screen Actors Guild Awards® 2014

Leto shared his award with the “the Rayons of the world”, and said after his win, “The epidemic isn’t over. There still is not a cure (for AIDS).”

 (finally) won a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award for the bittersweet historical drama “12 Years a Slave.” Nyong’o beat out award season favorite and (over saturated) media darling Jennifer Lawrence who was up for her supporting role in “American Hustle“. So today, I’m a little happier than I was after the Golden Globes®.

Mexican born, Yale educated Nyong’o has won 19 awards for her role as “Patsey”, but they’ve mostly been Film Critic Awards. This is her first top tier award, which bodes well for her at the Academy Award® ceremony in March.

Here’s the kicker – – this is only Nyong’o’s 4th on-screen role. Her acceptance speech hit a very poignant, emotional chord when she said in part:

Being recognized by your fellow actors is an honor of the highest order,”. She then attributed her director Steve McQueen, “for taking a flashlight and shining it underneath the floorboards of this nation and reminding us what it is we stand on.

 took home the SAG ‘Best Actress’ award for her role in “Blue Jasmine” (2013) about a deeply troubled woman. The film is directed by Woody Allen.

Deservedly,  took home ‘Best Actor’ for his near-to-best career performance in “Dallas Buyers Club”.  To prepare for his role as reluctant AIDS activist “Ron Woodroof“, McConaughey lost between 38-51 pounds. After winning his award, McConaughey said, “There’s a real benefit to being hungry. All the power I lost, I gained from the neck up.”

If you remember, McConaughey received his very first Oscar nomination this past Thursday. Over the last 9 years, all ‘Best Actor SAG Winners’ have won the Academy Award®.

My pick for ‘Best Actor in a Lead Performance’ has been, since the Sundance Film Festival, the outstanding  for his role as “Soloman Northup” in “12 Years A Slave“.

I will be somewhat broken-hearted if Ejiofor loses, as I’ve been following his career since “Dirty Pretty Things (2002) for which he won a BAFTA® Award (the UK equivalent to the Oscar) and have been waiting for his star vehicle performance to get him to the Oscar’s in a lead role. Ejiofor should have won for his supporting role as Huey Lucas in “American Gangster” (2008) but he was snubbed across the board for other top tier awards.

On the other hand I’m so proud of McConaughey for digging himself out of the vapid, schmaltzy slump he was in with all those awful Rom-Coms such as the horrendous : “Sahara” (2003), “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” (2003), “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” (2009) and Fool’s Gold (2008).

McConaughey’s career has been on the upswing in the most dramatic way since he got back to his acting roots in 2011. First with the understated “The Lincoln Lawyer” and then with his outstanding, dark and sexy-beast performance in “Killer Joe”. I wanted McConaughey to win for his role as “Killer Joe Cooper” because up to that point it was his career-best performance. But then he followed that up with “Mud” (2012) and you just knew there was a lot more where that came from. Even McConaughey’s role in “Magic Mike” (2012) was exceptional, funny, slightly dark and a little wonderful.

By the way, I just want to remind everybody that “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013) is directed by Quebec director . And, even though he is responsible for two Oscar-nominated performances from lead Matthew McConaughey and supporting actor Jared Leto has been almost entirely snubbed all award season for a Best Director nod, until last Thursday when he was finally nominated for Best Director for an Academy Award®.

“American Hustle”, the award season darling took home the award for ‘Best Ensemble Cast’.

According to Dave McNary at Variety:

The 20th SAG Awards provided mixed signals since the “American Hustle” cast won over “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club” — which won three of the four individual acting awards — along with topping with “August: Osage County” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” The winner of the SAG ensemble trophy has matched the Oscar Best Picture winner nine times in 18 years, including last year with “Argo.”

TV SAG Awards:

My two favorites, “Breaking Bad” and “Modern Family” each took home two awards. “Modern Family” won ‘Best Comedy Ensemble trophy. Always hilarious cast member Ty Burrell won the ‘Best Actor” trophy, finally beating out Alec Baldwin who was looking for his 8th win for “30 Rock.”

The unstoppable, immensely talented Dame Helen Mirren won for ‘Best Actress’ in a TV Mini-Series or Movie for “Phil Spector” which she should’ve also won at the Golden Globes and not Elisabeth Moss. another reason why I’m happy today. 🙂

Michael Douglas won the ‘Best Actor’ in a TV Mini-Series or Movie Award for “Behind the Candelabra” (2013) in his eerily inspired role as flamboyant pianist “Liberace“. As with his Golden Globe® Award win, Douglas continued to credit to his co-star. “The truth is, I am not here without Matt Damon. This is yours too.” The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh,

“Breaking Bad” completely crushed the important drama series categories, winning the ‘Best Ensemble In a Dramatic Series’ award. At least  gets to walk away with a well-deserved award after being snubbed by almost every other TV award granting body except for The Emmy’s for which she won only in 2013 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series as her character “Skylar White”. For without her, there would’ve been no reason for Walter White to even exist.

Below is The Complete List of SAG Winners:

FILM AWARDS

BEST FILM ENSEMBLE
“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle” *WINNER*
“August: Osage County”
“The Butler”
“Dallas Buyers Club”

BEST FILM ACTOR
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club” *WINNER*
Forest Whitaker, “The Butler”

BEST FILM ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine” *WINNER*
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

BEST FILM SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club” *WINNER*

BEST FILM SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave” *WINNER*
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler”

BEST FILM STUNT ENSEMBLE
“All is Lost”
“Fast & Furious 6”
“Lone Survivor” *WINNER* (I was VERY impressed when I saw the stunt work in the film. Well deserved)
“Rush”
“The Wolverine”

TV AWARDS

BEST TV DRAMA ENSEMBLE
“Boardwalk Empire”
“Breaking Bad” *WINNER*
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“Homeland”

BEST TV DRAMA ACTOR
Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” *WINNER*
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

BEST TV DRAMA ACTRESS
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Coven”
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey” *WINNER*
Kerry Washington, “Scandal”

BEST TV COMEDY ENSEMBLE
“Arrested Development”
“The Big Bang Theory”
“Modern Family” *WINNER*
“30 Rock”
“Veep”

BEST TV COMEDY ACTOR
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family” *WINNER*
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

BEST TV COMEDY ACTRESS
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” *WINNER*

BEST TV MOVIE/MINI ACTOR
Matt Damon, “Behind the Candelabra”
Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra” *WINNER*
Jeremy Irons, “The Hollow Crown”
Rob Lowe, “Killing Kennedy”
Al Pacino, “Phil Spector”

BEST TV MOVIE/MINI ACTRESS
Angela Bassett, “Betty and Coretta”
Helena Bonham Carter, “Burton and Taylor”
Holly Hunter, “Top of the Lake”
Helen Mirren, “Phil Spector” *WINNER*
Elisabeth Moss, “Top of the Lake”

BEST TV STUNT ENSEMBLE
“Boardwalk Empire”
“Breaking Bad”
“Game of Thrones” *WINNER*
“Homeland”
“The Walking Dead”

Johnny Depp Put A Ring On It! Amber Heard and Depp Engaged

by Shannonn Kelly
06:53AM, EST, January 18, 2014

Johnny Depp, 49 and Amber Heard, 27 are engaged.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in "The Rum Diary" are now Engaged
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in “The Rum Diary” are now Engaged

According to US Weekly:

“The proposal happened a while ago, she just didn’t wear the ring.”

It was reported  back in May 2013, that Johnny Depp got down on bended knee and proposed to actress Amber Heard, on her 27th birthday back on April 22, 2013. A source close to Heard was reported to say: Continue reading “Johnny Depp Put A Ring On It! Amber Heard and Depp Engaged”

Award Season :: Complete Nominee List :: 2014 Oscars :: Snubs ‘n’ Picks

By Shannonn Kelly
06:30AM, EST, January 16, 2014
Updated: 08:56AM, EST, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nominations Announced - Big Snubs!
Oscar Nominations Announced – Big Snubs!

I’ll be updating my blog later this morning to give you the breakdown of all the Oscar Nominees for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. As you can see, I’m waiting to fill in the blanks below.

The nominees will announced in 2 hours at 8:30AM on CBS. I’ll be watching from home in my PJs with a Mimosa and some decadent baked goods 🙂

In the meantime, enjoy the video below with 250 dancers and Academy Award® Host Ellen DeGeneres dressed in matching tuxedos dancing to “The Walker” by the Los Angeles soul/indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums.

Sticking with the theme of celebrating “Heroes”, real-life Thor, actor Chris Hemsworth announced the Nominees this morning along with the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

When I calculate below, it looks like “Gravity” and “American Hustle” both come out on top with 10 Oscar nominations each. Somebody, please check my math 😉

Your Complete List of Nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards which will air Sunday, March 2, on ABC. Continue reading “Award Season :: Complete Nominee List :: 2014 Oscars :: Snubs ‘n’ Picks”

Maragret O’Brien – The ‘Original Tootie’ Turns 77 Today…

by Shannonn Kelly
06:35PM, EST, January 15, 2014

Margaret O'Brien, the 'Original' Tootie
Margaret O’Brien, the ‘Original’ Tootie

Known as one of the most popular child stars in cinema history, Margaret O’Brien turns 77 today.

One of the reasons I like to blog about old Hollywood is simply for the fact that if you don’t record and write about pre Gen X, Gen Y or Millennial contributions to the film and music industry, people will be forgotten and their names will not come up easily in conversation.

Similar to my heritage, Margaret O’Brien is of ½ Spanish, ½ Irish ancestry, her mother was an accomplished Flamenco dancer and her father a circus performer, sadly who died before Margaret was born.

Her first role (albeit un-credited) was in “Babes on Broadway” (1941), where she played “Maxine”, a little girl at an audition when she was only 4 years-old.

When she was five, O’Brien, garnered critical praise for her acting chops playing “Margaret” in “Journey for Margaret” (1942). It was because of this role that O’Brien became known as “Margaret” and no longer called by her birth name “Angela”.

In 1943, O’Brien made five films, the most memorable being “Jane Eyre” where she sang and spoke with a French accent as the character “Adele Varens”. In 1944, O’Brien made “Music for Millions”, and “The Canterville Ghost”, starring the great Charles Laughton as a ghost doomed to haunt an English castle and Robert Young as his American descendant.

A fast study for accents, O’Brien also added singing and dancing to her skill sets, which served her well in her most unforgettable role as the ‘original’ “Tootie” in “Meet Me in St. Louis” opposite the venerable Judy Garland. The song ‘Under The Bamboo Tree’ (Words and music by Robert Cole and The Johnson Bros., 1902) is to this day, still one of the most fondly remembered moments of the film.

O’Brien was rewarded with an Academy Juvenile Award for “outstanding child actress of 1944.”

Her Oscar was stolen by her mother’s maid 10 years after receiving it. O’Brien had searched for years through memorabilia and antique shops hoping her statuette would appear, but to no avail.

According to Wikipedia:

Memorabilia collectors Steve Neimand and Mark Nash were attending a flea market in 1995 when Neimand spotted a small Oscar with Margaret O’Brien’s name inscribed upon it.

The two men decided to split the $500 asking price hoping to resell it at a profit and lent it to a photographer to shoot for an upcoming auction catalogue. This led to Bruce Davis’ discovery that the statuette had resurfaced and, upon learning of the award’s history, Nash and Neimand agreed to return the Oscar to O’Brien.

On February 7, 1995, almost fifty years after she’d first received it, the Academy held a special ceremony in Beverly Hills to return the stolen award to O’Brien.

Upon being reunited with her Juvenile Oscar, Margaret O’Brien told the attending journalists:

“For all those people who have lost or misplaced something that was dear to them, as I have, never give up the dream of searching – never let go of the hope that you’ll find it because after all these many years, at last, my Oscar has been returned to me.”

O’Brien made a few more films, but was unable to fully transition to adult roles, working steadily but not memorably through the 1950’s to the 1970’s, then sporadically from 1981-2010 in film, TV and MOW’s.

One factoid you will not find in Wikipedia: Margaret O’Brien auditioned for the role of “Judy” in “Rebel without A Cause” (1944) . The role went to Natalie Wood.

According to film historian David Thomson, O’Brien lost out to Natalie Wood because when casting directors asked her questions about what she thought about parents and authority she answered: “All the questions by professing love for parents and teachers”, thus answered wrongly and thereby showed zero rebellious spirit.

People who know me, know how I feel about type casting. Had stodgy Hollywood at the time, thought “outside the box’ and cast O’Brien (not to take anything away from Wood’s performance), I think we would’ve been in for a quite a treat. Actors want a challenge they can rise to. Look at Charlize Theron and Sandra Bullock. They both stepped outside their ‘known characters’ to play gritty roles. They both won Oscars with that gamble. If O’Brien had it in her at age 5 to learn a French accent, she certainly could’ve shown a rebellious side.

The fact that Margaret O’Brien celebrates her birthday today shows me she has plenty of ‘spirit’…

Happy Birthday Ms. O’Brien 🙂