The last time Melissa Leo was nominated for an Academy Award, in 2009 for the blue-collar drama Frozen River, she was perhaps a sentimental favorite among critics but a decided longshot to beat out Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and eventual winner Kate Winslet.
Anything could happen between now and February’s Oscar telecast, but Leo, 50, is already earning accolades for her supporting role in The Fighter, David O. Russell’s biography of hard-knocks Lowell, Mass., brawler Micky Ward. (The San Francisco Film Critics Circle ranked her nuanced portrayal of a domineering mother as among the year’s best.)
“If you want to have your situation fixed, you have to start dating,” a girlfriend tells Jane, setting the mechanics of her story in motion. “Anyone!”
Jane is a frustrated divorcée, played by the incomparable Meryl Streep, who warily watches her cheating ex Jake (Alec Baldwin) make off with his much-younger mistress turned wife (Lake Bell) as if going through some stereotypical midlife crisis. There’s still a spark between them – a family reunion leads them back to the bedroom after 10 years of separation – but is Jake still the one?
Neither Christopher Plummer, 80, nor Helen Mirren, 64, the stars of Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station, took home Oscars from last Sunday’s awards ceremony. But as far as Hoffman is concerned, their work remains indispensable, the key to breathing the intensity of life into his screenplay, adapted from Jay Parini’s 1990 novel, about the last days of Leo Tolstoy.
Nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced this morning at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, and though there were few surprises in the major categories – one notable exception being The Blind Side, a surprise contender for Best Picture in this year's expanded category – the races should be tighter and less predictable than in years past. The following is a list of the nominees, with the presumed favorite denoted by an asterisk. Conventional wisdom can change in a hurry, though – just ask Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, whose movie was erroneously considered a shoo-in for the top prize that went to Crash in 2006 – before the ceremony's official telecast on Sunday, March 7.
Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is hardly the groundbreaking spectacle we’ve come to expect as Hollywood animation studios race to push the genre to dizzying heights of digital wizardry.
The stop-motion creations here are brilliantly colorful but crude – deliberately so, I suspect, as if Anderson is rejecting the idea that storytelling need follow the lead of technology. What he offers instead is a delightfully exhilarating comedy, filled with fully realized characters and faithful, at least in spirit, to Roald Dahl’s popular children’s book.
It was an inspired gamble. Julie Powell, then a low-level government employee in her late 20s and looking, as she put it, “to pull myself out of a tailspin of secretarial ennui,” embarked on a quest to follow all 524 recipes detailed in Julia Child’s epic 1961 cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in the span of a single year. Powell chronicled her experiences in a candid, sharply written blog, and a culinary star was born.