Monday, February 25, 2013

And the Oscar goes to . . .

Best Picture
Film Editing
Adapted Screenplay - Chis Terrio

Despite the crude humor of host Seth McFarlane, the Academy Awards ceremony was fabulous. The highlight of the evening was the tribute to 50 years of James Bond, presented by one of the lovliest of Bond girls, Halle Berry and the hypnotic theme song to Goldfinger performed by the amazing Dame Shirley Bassey.

Congratulations to the winners!

Life of Pi
Best Director - Ang Lee
Visual Effects
Original Score

Actor Leading Role – Daniel Day-Lewis
Production Design

The Silver Linings Playbook
Actress Leading Role – Jennifer Lawrence

Les Miserables
Actress Supporting Role – Anne Hathaway
Sound Mixing

Django Unchained
Actor Supporting Role – Christoph Waltz
Original Screenplay - Quentin Tarantino

Zero Dark Thirty
Sound Editing (Tied with Skyfall)

Sound Editing (tied with Zero Dark Thirty)
Original Song

Anna Karenina
Costume Design

Short Film

Searching for Sugar Man
Documentary Feature

Documentary Short

Animated Feature

Animated Short

Foreign Language

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday with Morgan Freeman

I'm thrilled to pay tribute to one of my all time favorite actors, Morgan Freeman. In his prolific career he has taken on the roles of police detective, pimp, car mechanic, prisoner, cowboy, boxing coach, rancher, soldier, Frederick Douglas, Nelson Mandela, the President of the United States and even God Himself.

A little background: Morgan Freeman was born  June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee.(For all you astrology buffs out there, that makes him a Gemini born in the Chinese Year of the Ox). After graduating from high school in 1955, he enlisted in the U.S.Air Force. He then moved to Los Angeles to study acting. And the rest is history.

Here's peak at some of his most memorable characters. I love this guy!

Fast Black in Street Smart (1987) with Christopher Reeve and directed by Jerry Schatzberg. A news reporter lies when his fake story about a pimp describes a real pimp up for murder. Freeman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

FAST BLACK: My mama always called me Leo.

Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy (1989) with Jessica Tandy and directed by Bruce Beresford. Tells the story of the close friendship between a Jewish lady and her chauffeur. Freeman was once again nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

HOKE: I'm gonna hold on no matter how she run me. You see, I used to rassle hogs down yonder in Macon, and, let me tell you, ain't no hog got away from me yet!

Sergeant Major John Rawlins in Glory (1989) with Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington and directed by Edward Zwick. The story of the first all-black volunteer force in the Civil War.

RAWLINS: And all this time I keep askin' myself, when, O Lord, when it's gonna be our time? Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up. Ante up and kick in like men. LIKE MEN! You watch who you call a nigger! If there's any niggers around here, it's YOU. Just a smart-mouthed, stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger! And if you not careful, that's all you ever gonna be!

Ned Logan in Unforgiven (1992) with Clint Eastwood and directed by Clint Eastwood. A gunslinger takes one last job with his partner.

NED: All right, so what did these fellas do? Cheat at cards? Steal some strays? Spit on a rich fella?

Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) with Tim Robbins and directed by Frank Darabont. Two men in prison form a close, lifelong friendship. Freeman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

RED: There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left.

William Somerset in Seven (1995) with Brad Pitt and directed by David Fincher. Two detectives hunt down a serial killer.

SOMERSET: This isn't going to have a happy ending.

Theodore Joadson in Amistad (1997) with Djimon Hounsou and Anthony Hopkins and directed by Steven Spielberg. A court room drama about a mutiny aboard a slave ship in 1839.

JOADSON: There remains one task undone. One vital task the Founding Father's left to their sons before their thirteen colonies could precisely be called United States. And that task, Sir, as you well know, is crushing slavery.

Alex Cross in  Kiss the Girls (1997) with Ashley Judd and directed by Gary Fleder. In the search for a serial killer, investigators get help from a victim who escaped.

ALEX: I don't work like you. I don't hate.

God in Bruce Almighty (2003) with Jim Carrey and directed by Tom Shadyac. God takes a vacation and puts Bruce in charge. Freeman also played God in Evan Almighty (2007) with Steve Carell, a modern Noah's Ark story.

GOD: Parting your soup is not a miracle Bruce, it's a magic trick. A single mom who's working two jobs, and still finds time to take her son to soccer practice, that's a miracle. A teenager who says "no" to drugs and "yes" to an education, that's a miracle. People want me to do everything for them. What they don't realize is *they* have the power. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.

Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris in Million Dollar Baby (2004) with Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank and directed by Clint Eastwood. A woman trains to be a professional boxer. Freeman received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

EDDIE: Dues? The boy can't afford pants, you want him to pay dues?

Mitch Bradley in An Unfinished Life (2005) with Robert Redford and directed by Lasse Hollstrum. A Wyoming rancher welcomes his estranged daughter-in-law back into his life.

MITCH: I know people everywhere that thought they got dealt a bad hand.

Lucius Fox in Batman Begins (2005) with Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan. Freeman reprised the role of Batman's gadget engineer in The Dark Knight (2008) and in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

LUCIUS: Spying on 30 million people isn't part of my job description.

Him in 10 Items or Less (2006) with Paz Vega directed by Brad Silberling. An actor prepping for an upcoming role meets a quirky grocery clerk  and the pair hit the road to show one another their respective worlds.

HIM: Am I bothering you standing here?

Carter Chambers in The Bucket List (2007) with Jack Nicholson and directed by Rob Reiner. Two men who are terminally ill travel the world to do all the things they've dreamed of before they die.

CARTER: Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?

Nelson Mandela in Invictus (2009) with Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood. The film was inspired by the true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Freeman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

MANDELA: My family is very large. 42 million.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Stories for Valentine's Day

What better day to celebrate cinematic love stories! Here are my top 14 for February 14th. They may not be the most "critically acclaimed" films, but they are my personal favorites.

It Happened One Night (1934)

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert hit the open road.

ELLIE: I'll stop a car and I won't use my thumb!

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh survive the Civil War, Reconstruction and a dress made of velvet drapes.

RHETT: Did you ever think of marrying just for fun?

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

A mangy, mischievous mutt and a pampered pedigreed princess fall in love over a plate of spaghetti.

TRAMP: Not to change the subject but, um . . . ever chased chickens?

Pillow Talk (1959)

Rock Hudson pretends to be a cowboy from Texas and Doris Day believes every word he says.

BRAD: Are you getting out of that bed or am I coming in after you?

Love Story (1970)

Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal are Ivy League lovers who look cool playing football in the snow and don't believe in God.

OLIVER: She's not some crazy hippie.

Rocky (1976)

Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire fill each others gaps.

ROCKY: I think we make a real sharp couple of coconuts.

Annie Hall (1977)

New Yorkers Wood Allen and Diane Keaton read books about death, suffer through therapy, and endure several viewings of The Sorrow and the Pity before they ultimately break up at a health food restaurant in L.A.

ALVY: I can't enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal prove that men and women cannot be friends.

SALLY: I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day. Enough said.

SAM: I am not going to New York to meet some woman who could be a crazy, sick lunatic. Didn't you see Fatal Attraction?!

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Tom Cruise and Rene Zellweger find out that love means always saying you're sorry.

DOROTHY: You had me at hello.

Titanic (1997)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have a whirlwind courtship aboard the doomed ocean liner. Kate survives and her heart will go on.

JACK: I don't know about you, but I intend to write a strongly worded letter to White Star Line about all of this.

You've Got Mail (1998)

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are booksellers who fall in love and make intriguing references to The Godfather.

KATHLEEN: I could never be with someone who has a boat.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

John Corbett and Nia Vardalos have the biggest, fattest, Greekiest wedding EVER!

TOULA: When I was growing up, I knew I was different. The other girls were blonde and delicate, and I was a swarthy six-year-old with sideburns. 

Something's Gotta Give (2003)

Jack Nicholson, a cigar smoking, womanizer, falls in love with Diane Keaton, an uptight playwright who wears turtlenecks in the summer. Hilarity ensues.

 ERICA: Harry, your heart attack could be the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


If someone were to ask me which of Stephen King's books scared me the most, Misery would win hands down. Back in the day, I remember reading the paperback sitting in the car at my daughter's soccer practice. I could only read it during the day, because at night I saw Annie Wilkes standing over my bed with a sledge hammer.

The character of Annie Wilkes that Stephen King painted was horrifying. She had slits for eyes. A huge, round, pasty face. Strong as an ox. Thick. Tall. A monster with wet lips and large man-like hands. This is someone you would not want to meet in a dark alley ... or anywhere else for that matter.

As a writer, I could relate to Paul Sheldon's predicament. Being held captive by a raging psychopath would be my worst nightmare.Not to mention being forced to write a novel. On an antique typewriter. With a defective "e" key. Sheesh!

This story takes the word "deadline" to a whole other level.

ANNIE:  And don't even think about anybody coming for you. Not the doctors, not your agent, not your family. 'Cause I never called them. Nobody knows you're here. And you better hope nothing happens to me. Because if I die... you die.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tribute to Christoph Waltz

Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained.

So guess who's nominated for an Academy Award this month? Yep, it's Christoph Waltz who played the memorable dentist/bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained (2012). He is up for the Best Supporting Actor award and my guess is that he will win. Just sayin'.

I did a little digging and learned a bit about our Austrian/German friend. Born October 4, 1956 in Vienna, Austria, Waltz came from a theatrical family and studied theatre in Vienna. He'd appeared in numerous films (mostly German) before Quentin Tarantino enlisted him to play Nazi officer Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds (2009). He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and hit the big time.

Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds.

Waltz was a busy man in 2011 and made four films:  

Russian mobster Benjamin Chudnofsky in The Green Hornet.

Circus Master August Rosenbluth in Water for Elephants.

Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers.

Alan Cowan in Carnage. 

So what's new for Herr Waltz? In 2013 he will appear in a 3D animated film called Epic, based on a children's book by William Joyce. He performs the voice of Mandrake, leader of the Boggans. Other voices in the film include Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell and Beyonce.

This year he will also be featured in the starring role in The Zero Theorem, a science fiction flick in which he plays Qohen Leth, an "eccentric, reclusive computer genius who lives in an Orwellian corporate world and suffers from existential angst." I gotta say, this sounds like a very interesting character, no?


Colonel Hans Landa: I love rumors! Facts can be so misleading.

Benjamin Chudnofsky: You said I'm boring. My gun has two barrels. That's not boring.

August Rosenbluth: Any living creature needs to know who is in charge.

Cardinal Richelieu: You object to losing your head?

Alan Cowan: Mrs. Longstreet, our son is a maniac!

Dr. King Schulz: How do you like the bounty hunting business?

Auf weidersehen, ya'll!