Sunday, April 6, 2008

Film legend Charlton Heston dead at 84

Charlton Heston, the Oscar winner who portrayed Moses and other heroic figures on film in the '50s and '60s and later championed conservative values as head of the National Rifle Association, has died. He was 84. The actor died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers said. He declined to comment on the cause of death or provide further details.
Heston lent his strong presence to some of the most acclaimed and successful films of the midcentury. "Ben-Hur" won 11 Academy Awards, tying it for the record with the more recent "Titanic" (1997) and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). He won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur."Heston's other hits include: "The Ten Commandments," "El Cid," "55 Days at Peking" and "Planet of the Apes." He liked to cite the number of historical figures he had portrayed, including Moses ("The Ten Commandments"), John the Baptist ("The Greatest Story Ever Told") and Michelangelo ("The Agony and the Ecstasy"). Heston made his movie debut in the 1940s in two independent films by a college classmate, David Bradley, who later became a noted film archivist. He had the title role in "Peer Gynt" in 1942 and was Marc Antony in Bradley's 1949 version of "Julius Caesar," for which Heston was paid $50 a week.
Film producer Hal B. Wallis ("Casablanca") spotted Heston in a 1950 television production of "Wuthering Heights" and offered him a contract. When his wife reminded him that they had decided to pursue theater and television, he replied, "Well, maybe just for one film to see what it's like." Heston earned star billing from his first Hollywood movie, "Dark City," a 1950 film noir. Cecil B. DeMille next cast him as the circus manager in the all-star "The Greatest Show On Earth," named by the Motion Picture Academy as the best picture of 1952. More movies followed. Most were forgettable low-budget films, and Heston seemed destined to remain an undistinguished action star. His old boss DeMille rescued him. The director had long planned a new version of "The Ten Commandments," which he had made as a silent in 1923 with a radically different approach that combined biblical and modern stories. He was struck by Heston's facial resemblance to Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses, especially the similar broken nose, and put the actor through a long series of tests before giving him the role. The Hestons' newborn, Fraser Clarke Heston, played the role of the infant Moses in the film. More films followed: the eccentric thriller "Touch of Evil," directed by Orson Welles; William Wyler's "The Big Country," costarring with Gregory Peck; a sea saga, "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" with Gary Cooper.
Then his greatest role: "Ben-Hur." Heston wasn't the first to be considered for the remake of 1925 biblical epic. Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Rock Hudson had declined the film. Heston plunged into the role, rehearsing two months for the furious chariot race. The huge success of "Ben-Hur" and Heston's Oscar made him one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood. He combined big-screen epics like "El Cid" and "55 Days at Peking" with lesser ones such as "Diamond Head," "Will Penny" and "Airport 1975." In his later years he played cameos in such films as "Wayne's World 2" and "Tombstone."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Actor Paul Scofield dies at 86

Paul Scofield may have turned down a knighthood, but his place among British acting royalty is nonetheless assured. The legendary stage actor, who won an Academy Award for A Man for All Seasons, made only a handful of films, but he made them count. Scofield died Wednesday at age 86 in a hospital in southern England. He had been suffering from leukemia. On stage, Scofield brought his physical gifts — a craggy face and a powerful, rumbling voice — to roles from Shakespeare and Shaw to Steinbeck and Chekhov. Richard Burton, once regarded as the theatrical heir to Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, said it was Scofield who deserved that place. "Of the 10 greatest moments in the theater, eight are Scofield's." Even A Man for All Seasons, perhaps his greatest film role, was an adaptation of a play that won him a Tony Award in 1961. He reprised his role as Sir Thomas More, who was executed after clashing with King Henry VIII, in the 1966 film. In 1979, he received acclaim for another great historical stage role, as composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. For all the fame, Scofield remained a family man who lived most of his life a few miles from his birthplace. Scofield received his second Oscar nomination for Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994). His other films included Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance (1973), Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989) and The Crucible (1996).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oscar-winning director Minghella dies at 54

Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, who turned such literary works as "The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain" into acclaimed movies, has died. He was 54. The death was confirmed Tuesday by his agent, Judy Daish. No other details were immediately available. "The English Patient," the 1996 World War II drama, won nine Academy Awards, including best director for Minghella, best picture and best supporting actress for Juliette Binoche. Based on the celebrated novel by Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje, the movie tells of a burn victim's tortured recollections of his misdeeds in time of war. Minghella also was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay for the movie and for his screenplay for "The Talented Mr. Ripley." His 2003 "Cold Mountain," based on Charles Frazier's novel of the U.S. Civil War, brought a best supporting actress Oscar for Renee Zellweger. The 1999 "The Talented Mr. Ripley," starring Matt Damon as a murderous social climber, was based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. It earned five Oscar nominations. Among his other films were "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (1990), and last year's Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton," on which he was executive producer. Minghella was recently in Botswana filming an adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's novel "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." It is due to air on British television this week. The book is the first in a series about the adventures of Botswanan private eye Precious Ramotswe; a 13-part television series was recently commission by U.S. network HBO.
Producer David Puttnam said Minghella was "a very special person." "He wasn't just a writer, or a writer-director, he was someone who was very well-known and very well-loved within the film community," Puttnam told the BBC. "Frankly he was far too young to have gone." Minghella also turned his talents to opera. In 2005, he directed a highly successful staging of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" at the English National Opera in London. The following year, he staged it for the season opener of New York's Metropolitan Opera. It was the first performance of the Met's new era under general manager Peter Gelb. Jeff Ramsay, press secretary to Botswanan President Festus Mogae, called Minghella's death a "shock and an utter loss." He said the director had been coming to the country ahead of the detective film and learning about Botswana. Born the second of five children to southern Italian emigrants, Minghella came to moviemaking from a flourishing playwriting career on the London "fringe" and, in 1986, on the West End with the play, "Made in Bangkok," a hard-hitting look at the sexual mores of a British tour group in Thailand. He worked as a television script editor before making his directing debut with "Truly, Madly, Deeply," a comedy about love and grief starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman. According to reports, Mingella died of a hemorrhage after a routine operation on his neck.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Academy

It's time we dedicate a moment of attention to the Institution that gives away the annual awards. Founded on May 11, 1927 in Los Angeles, California, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is a professional honorary organization ostensibly dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

The Academy is composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. While the great majority of its members are based in the United States, membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world.

All members must be invited to join. Invitation comes from the Board of Governors. Membership eligibility may be achieved by a competitive nomination or a member may submit a name based on other significant contribution to the field of motion pictures. New membership proposals are considered annually. The Academy does not publicly disclose its membership, although past press releases have announced the names of those who have been invited to join. Academy membership is divided into 15 branches, representing different disciplines in motion pictures. Members may not belong to more than one branch. Members whose work does not fall within one of the branches may belong to a group known as "Members At Large."

The academy's branches are:

Art Directors
Film Editors
Public Relations
Short Films and Feature Animation
Visual Effects

Presidents are elected for one-year terms and may not be elected for more than four consecutive terms. The current president of the Academy is Sid Ganis, an American motion picture executive and producer who has produced such films as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, The Master of Disguise and Akeelah and the Bee. On August 23, 2005 he was elected President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ganis began his film career in marketing and publicity at several studios, eventually joining Lucasfilm, where he served as Senior Vice President of the company for several years. He later became President of Paramount Pictures during the 1980s, and then Vice President, and president of marketing and distribution, at Columbia Pictures.

Former Presidents: Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was the first president. Others presidents include William de Mille, M.C. Levee, Conrad Nagel, J. Theodore Reed, Frank Lloyd, Frank Capra, Walter Wanger, Bette Davis, Jean Hersholt, Charles Brackett, George Seaton, George Stevens, B.B. Kahane, Valentine Davies, Wendell Corey, Arthur Freed, Gregory Peck, Daniel Taradash, Walter Mirisch, Howard W. Koch, Fay Kanin, Gene Allen, Robert E. Wise, Richard Kahn, Karl Malden, Arthur Hiller, Robert Rehme, Frank Pierson and Sid Ganis, who has been president since August 2005.
From its founding until 1946, when it moved into a building at 9038 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, the Academy occupied a number of rented offices. In December of 1975, the Academy dedicated a seven-story headquarters at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For the first time in the organization’s history, its administrative offices, the Academy Players Directory, the Margaret Herrick Library, the Samuel Goldwyn Theater and other facilities were all located under one roof. Within a decade, however, the rapid growth of the holdings of both the Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive necessitated the search for a new, separate facility. In 1988 a 55-year lease was arranged with the City of Beverly Hills for the conversion of its historic Waterworks building in La Cienega Park into the new home of the Academy’s library and film archive, to be called the Center for Motion Picture Study. The library and film archive occupied the structure in 1991, but by 1997 the crush of growing collections resulted once more in the need for additional off-site storage. In May of 2001 the Academy bought the former Don Lee-Mutual Broadcasting studios on Vine Street in Hollywood and began converting them into the new home of the Academy Film Archive and the Academy Players Directory. In 2006 the Academy Players Directory published its final edition, and the Directory was sold to a private concern. The building currently houses offices for the Academy Film Archive, the Academy’s Science and Technology Council, the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting program, and the planning staff for the proposed Academy museum, as well as four temperature- and humidity-controlled vaults (three for film, one for photos and documents) and the 286-seat Linwood Dunn Theater.

Monday, February 25, 2008

80th Academy Awards

The 80th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best in film for 2007, was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST (01:00 February 25 UTC). It was the seventh time that the Kodak Theatre hosted the ceremonies since its construction, and the 33rd time that the ceremony was televised by ABC, which is under contract through 2014. Gil Cates was the producer, making it his 14th show, a record. Jon Stewart hosted the show, his second time. He previously presided over the 78th Academy Awards.

No Country for Old Men is an Academy Award-winning 2007 film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem. Faithfully adapted from the well-received Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, No Country for Old Men draws heavily on McCarthy's themes of chance and fate; it tells the story of a drug deal gone wrong and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama as three men crisscross each other's paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. No Country for Old Men was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. Additionally, Javier Bardem won Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role; the Coen Brothers won Achievement in Directing (Best Director) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Other nominations included Best Film Editing (Roderick Jaynes), Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Joel and Ethan Coen, known collectively as The Coen Brothers, are four-time Academy Award winning American filmmakers. For more than 20 years, the pair have written and directed numerous successful films, ranging from screwball comedies (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy) to film noir (Miller's Crossing, Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country For Old Men), to movies where those two genres blur together (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink). The brothers write, direct and produce their films jointly. Joel has been married to actress Frances McDormand since 1984. They have adopted a son from Paraguay named Pedro McDormand Coen (Frances and all her siblings are adopted themselves). McDormand has starred in five of the Coen Brothers' films, including a minor appearance in Miller's Crossing, a supporting role in Raising Arizona, and lead roles in Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn't There, and her Academy Award winning role in Fargo. Ethan is married to film editor Tricia Cooke. In 1984 the brothers wrote and directed Blood Simple, their first film together. Set in Texas, the film tells the tale of a shifty, sleazy bar owner who hires a private detective to kill his wife and her lover. The next film written and directed by the brothers was the 1987 release Raising Arizona. The film is the story of the unlikely married couple ex-convict Hi (played by Nicolas Cage) and ex-cop Ed (played by Holly Hunter) who long for a baby but are unable to conceive. Fortune smiles on them when a local furniture tycoon appears on television with his five newly born quintuplets that he jokes 'are more than we can handle'. Seeing this as a 'sign' and an opportunity to redress the natural balance, Hi and Ed steal one of the quintuplets and start to bring up the child as their own. Miller's Crossing was released in 1990, a straight-ahead homage to the gangster movie genre. Starring Albert Finney, Gabriel Byrne and future Coen brothers' staple John Turturro, the film is set during the prohibition era of the 1930s and tells the tale of feuding mobs and gangster capers. The Coen brothers' reputation was seemingly enhanced with every subsequent release, but it took a massive leap forward with their next movie, 1991s visually stunning Barton Fink. Barton Fink is set in 1941 and is the story of a New York playwright (the eponymous Barton Fink) who moves to Los Angeles to write a B-movie. He settles down in his hotel apartment to commence the writing but all too soon gets writer's block and allows himself to receive some inspiration from the amiable man in the room next door, together with some industry associates. Inspiration comes from the strangest places, and the hotel is definitely unusual and a magnet for the bizarre. Barton Fink was a critical success, garnering Oscar nominations plus winning three major awards at Cannes Film Festival, including the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm). The brothers returned to more familiar ground in 1996 with the low-budget noir thriller Fargo. Set in the Coen brothers' home state of Minnesota, the movie tells the tale of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a man with a money problem, who works in his father-in-law's car showroom. Jerry is anxious to get hold of some money to move up in the world and hatches a plan to have his wife kidnapped so that his wealthy father-in-law will pay the ransom that he can split with the kidnappers. Inevitably, his best laid plans go wrong when the bungling kidnappers deviate from the agreed non-violent plan and local cop Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) starts to investigate the whole affair. A critical and commercial success, with particular praise for its dialogue and McDormand's performance, the film received several awards including a BAFTA Award and Cannes award for direction and two Oscars, one for best screenplay and a best Actress Oscar for McDormand. The Coens' next film would build upon this success and in 1998 The Big Lebowski was released. With its story about "The Dude," an LA slacker (played by Jeff Bridges), used as an unwitting pawn in a fake kidnapping plot with his bowling buddies (Steve Buscemi and John Goodman), the Coens had hit on a film that would provide a mainstream accessibility that they had not enjoyed since Raising Arizona. The Coen brothers' next film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) was yet another critical success. Based loosely on Homer's "Odyssey" (complete with a cyclops, sirens, et al.) the story is set along the Mississippi River in the 1930s and follows a trio of escaped convicts who have absconded from a chain gang and who journey home in an attempt to recover the loot from a bank heist that the leader has buried. But they have no idea what the journey is that they are undertaking. The film also highlighted the comic abilities of George Clooney who starred as the oddball lead character of Ulysses Everett McGill (ably assisted by his sidekick, the now ubiquitous John Turturro). The film's Bluegrass soundtrack, offbeat humor and, yet again, stunning cinematography, meant it was a critical and commercial hit. Intolerable Cruelty, arguably the Coens' most mainstream release, was released in 2003 and starred George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The film was a throwback to the romantic comedies of the 1940s with a story based around Miles Massey, a hot shot divorce lawyer, and a beautiful divorcee whom Massey had managed to stop getting any money from her divorce. She sets out on a course to get even with him while he becomes smitten with her. The Coens' latest movie No Country for Old Men was released in November 2007. Based on the 2005 novel by the author Cormac McCarthy, the film tells the tale of a man named Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) living on the Texas / Mexico border who stumbles upon two million dollars in drug money that he decides to pocket. He then has to go on the run to avoid those looking to recover the money, including a sinister killer (Javier Bardem) who confounds both Llewelyn and the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). This plot line is a return to the dark, noir themes which have provided the Coens with some of their most successful material, but it also marks a notable departure, including a lack of regular Coen actors (with the exception of Stephen Root), a less pronounced comedic element and minimal use of music. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, all of which were received by the Coens, as well as Best Supporting Actor received by Bardem. The Coens recently completed filming on Burn After Reading, a dark comedy starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney. The film is due to be released in Fall 2008.

The ceremony continued trends of recent years, with no film winning more than four awards, the honors for non-documentary features being spread among 13 different films, and major acting honors going to a biographical film. All four major acting awards went to European actors and actresses. The Best Actor award went to Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood. It was his second Oscar.

Marion Cotillard is an Academy Award-, BAFTA-, Golden Globe- and double César-winning French actress, best known for her landmark role as Édith Piaf in La Vie En Rose (2007). After Claudette Colbert in 1934 and Simone Signoret in 1959, she is the third French actress to win an Academy Award for Best Actress (though Juliette Binoche won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). She is the first Best Actress winner in a non-English language performance since Sophia Loren's win in 1961 for her performance in Two Women. She is also the first and so far only winner of an Academy Award for a performance in the French language.

Javier Bardem is an Academy Award-winning Spanish actor. He has made over two dozen films in his native country, but became an international star with his starring role in the critically acclaimed Before Night Falls. With this role, he became the first ever Spanish actor to receive an Academy Award nomination. Bardem won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for his performance as the antagonist Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Bardem starred in his first major motion picture, The Ages of Lulu, when he was 20. In 1992, he made his first international hit with Jamón, Jamón, which also starred Penélope Cruz. After starring in roughly two dozen films in his native country, he would eventually land his international breakthrough performance role in Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls in 2000, as Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the role, the first time for a Spaniard. This also marked Bardem's first English language speaking role. In 2002 he starred in John Malkovich's directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs. Bardem won the Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his role in 2004's Mar Adentro, released in the United States as The Sea Inside, in which he portrayed assisted-suicide activist Ramón Sampedro. That year he also made a brief appearance as a vicious crime lord who summons Tom Cruise's hitman to do the dirty work of dispatching witnesses, in Michael Mann's crime drama Collateral, which also starred Jamie Foxx. In 2007 Bardem acted in two film adaptations; the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, based upon the novel of the same name and the adaptation of the classic Colombian novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. In No Country for Old Men, he plays chilling sociopath hitman Anton Chigurh. For that role, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Best Supporting Actor and also won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as the 2008 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Tilda Swinton is an Academy Award- and BAFTA- winning and Golden Globe-nominated British actress known for both arthouse and mainstream films. Her early film work included several film roles for director Derek Jarman, notably War Requiem (1989) playing a nurse opposite Sir Laurence Olivier as an old soldier. Swinton also played the title role in Orlando, Sally Potter's film version of the novel by Virginia Woolf. Recent years have seen Swinton move towards more mainstream projects, including the leading role in the well-reviewed American film The Deep End (2001), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She appeared as the scheming archangel Gabriel in Constantine with Keanu Reeves, as a supporting character in films such as Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise, and The Beach, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. Swinton has also appeared in the British films The Statement (2003) and Young Adam (2004), and sat on the jury of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. In 2005, Swinton's performance as the sinister, seductive villainess, the White Witch Jadis, in the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe garnered critical praise as did her portrayal of Audrey Cobb in the Mike Mills film adaptation of the novel Thumbsucker. Swinton's performance as Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton also drew favorable reviews, for which she earned her second Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. After winning a BAFTA award in the same category at the 61st British Academy Film Awards, Swinton won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

The Counterfeiters is an Academy Award winning 2007 Austrian / German film written and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky. It fictionalizes Operation Bernhard, a secret plan by the Nazis during the Second World War to destabilize the United Kingdom by flooding its economy with forged Bank of England currency. The film centers on a Jewish counterfeiter, Salomon Sorowitsch, who is coerced into assisting the Nazi operation at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The film is based on a memoir written by Adolf Burger, a professional printer who was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1942 for political dissension and later interned at Sachsenhausen to work on Operation Bernhard. It won an Oscar Best Foreign Language Film at the 2008 Academy Awards.

"Falling Slowly" is an Academy Award-winning song, written and performed by personal and professional partners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It appeared in the couple's 2006 film Once. The film was eligible for the 2007 Academy Awards, awarded on February 24, 2008. It was chosen as Best Original Song over the choral gospel song Raise It Up from August Rush and three songs from the postmodern Disney musical Enchanted. For some time, the song's eligibility for an Oscar was in dispute, as it had appeared on a 2006 CD issued by Hansard's band, The Frames, and it had been performed by the couple in various European venues. The Academy ruled that because the song had been composed for the movie, and the prior public exposure during the long period that the movie took to produce had been minimal, it remained eligible.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

79th Academy Awards

The 79th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best in film for 2006, took place on March 5, 2006 5:00 p.m. PT/8:00 p.m. ET at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the ceremony for the first time. The producer was Laura Ziskin. The nominees were announced on January 23 at 5:38 a.m. PST (13:38 UTC) by Academy president Sid Ganis and actress Salma Hayek, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters. Bolstered by three nominations for Best Song, the musical Dreamgirls received eight nominations, becoming the first film ever to receive the most nominations in a particular Academy Awards ceremony without being nominated for Best Picture. Babel received the second highest number of nominations with seven.

The Departed is an Academy-Award winning 2006 crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. It is an American remake of the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs. This film takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, where notorious Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Nicholson) plants his protégé Colin Sullivan (Damon) as an informant within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover cop William Costigan, Jr. (DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello's crew. When both sides of the law realize the situation, each man attempts to discover the other's true identity before being found out. The film won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese) (The latter was thought to be long overdue, and some entertainment critics subsequently referred to it as Scorsese's "Lifetime Achievement" Oscar), Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), and Best Adapted Screenplay (William Monahan). Mark Wahlberg was also nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance.

Martin Scorsese is an American Academy Award-winning film director, writer, and producer. Also affectionately known as "Marty", he is the founder of the World Cinema Foundation and a recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for his contributions to the cinema and has won awards from the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Directors Guild of America. Championed by influential movie critic Pauline Kael, Mean Streets was a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro, and Keitel. By now the signature Scorsese style was in place: macho posturing, bloody violence, Catholic guilt and redemption, gritty New York locale, rapid-fire editing, and a rock soundtrack. In 1974, actress Ellen Burstyn chose Scorsese to direct her in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Although well regarded, the film remains an anomaly in the director's early career, as it focuses on a central female character. Two year
s later, in 1976, Scorsese sent shockwaves through the cinema world when he directed the iconic Taxi Driver, an unrelentingly grim and violent portrayal of one man's slow descent into insanity in a hellishly conceived Manhattan. The critical success of Taxi Driver encouraged Scorsese to move ahead with his first big-budget project: the highly stylized musical New York, New York. This tribute to Scorsese's home town and the classic Hollywood musical was a box-office and critical failure. New York, New York was the director's third collaboration with Robert De Niro, co-starring with Liza Minnelli. The film is best remembered today for the title theme song, which was popularized by Frank Sinatra. By many accounts (Scorsese's included), Robert De Niro practically saved his life when he persuaded him to kick his cocaine addiction to make what many consider his greatest film, Raging Bull (1980). Convinced that he would never make another movie, he poured his energies into making this violent biopic of middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta, calling it a Kamikaze method of film-making. Scorsese's next project was his fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro, The King of Comedy (1983). An absurdist satire on the world of media and celebrity, it was an obvious departure from the more emotionally committed films he had become associated with. Along with the iconic 1987 Michael Jackson music video Bad, in 1986 Scorsese made The Color of Money, a sequel to the much admired Paul Newman film The Hustler (1960). It won actor Paul Newman a belated Oscar and gave Scorsese the clout to xcv dyxfinally secure backing for a project that had been a long time goal for him: The Last Temptation of Christ. Looking past the controversy, The Last Temptation of Christ gained critical acclaim and remains an important work in Scorsese's canon: an explicit attempt to wrestle with the spirituality which had under-pinned his films up until that point. The director went on to receive his second nomination for a Best Director Academy Award (again unsuccessfully, this time losing to Barry Levinson for Rain Man). After a decade of mostly mixed results, gangster epic Goodfellas (1990) was a return to form for Scorsese and his most confident and fully realized film since Raging Bull. A return to Little Italy, De Niro, and Joe Pesci, Goodfellas offered a virtuoso display of the director's bravura cinematic technique and re-established, enhanced, and consolidated his reputationScorsese earned his third Best Director nomination for Goodfellas but again lost to a first-time director, Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves). The film also earned Joe Pesci an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor). 1991 brought Cape Fear, a remake of a cult 1962 movie of the same name, and the director's seventh collaboration with De Niro. The opulent and handsomely mounted The Age of Innocence (1993) was on the surface a huge departure for Scorsese, a period adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about the constrictive high society of late-19th Century New York.1995's expansive Casino, like The Age of Innocence before it, focused on a tightly wound male whose well-ordered life is disrupted by the arrival of unpredictable forces. Sharon Stone was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. In 1999 Scorsese also produced a documentary on Italian filmmakers entitled Il Mio Viaggio in Italia, also known as My Voyage to Italy. The documentary foreshadowed the director's next project, the epic Gangs of New York (2002), influenced by (amongst many others) major Italian directors such as Luchino Visconti and filmed in its entirety at Rome's famous Cinecittà film studios. Gangs of New York was Scorsese's biggest and arguably most mainstream venture to date. Like The Age of Innocence, it was a 19th century-set New York movie, although focusing on the other end of the social scale (and like that film, also starring Daniel Day-Lewis). The production was highly troubled with many rumors referring to the director's conflict with Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein. Gangs of New York earned Scorsese his first Golden Globe for Best Director. In February 2003, Gangs of New York received ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. This was Scorsese's fourth Best Director nomination, and many thought it was finally his year to win. Ultimately, however, the film took home not a single Academy Award, and Scorsese lost his category to Roman Polanski for The Pianist. Scorsese's film The Aviator (2004), was a lavish, large-scale biopic of director, producer, legendary eccentric, multi-millionaire, and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. The film received highly positive reviews, The film also met with widespread box office success and gained Academy recognition. In January 2005, The Aviator became the most-nominated film of the 77th Academy Award nominations, nominated in 11 categories including Best Picture. The film also garnered nominations in nearly all of the other major categories, including a fifth Best Director nomination for Scorsese, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), and Alan Alda for Best Supporting Actor. Despite having a leading tally, the film ended up with only five Oscars: Best Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing and Cinematography. Scorsese lost again, this time to director Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (which also won Best Picture). Scorsese returned to the crime genre with the Boston-set thriller The Departed, based on the Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs. The film reunited the director with Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor he has worked with for three consecutive projects. The Departed also brought Scorsese together with Jack Nicholson. Martin Scorsese's direction of The Departed earned him his second Golden Globe for Best Director, as well as a Critic's Choice Award, his first Director's Guild of America Award, and the Academy Award for Best Director. It was presented to him by his longtime friends and colleagues Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas, all fellow members of the New Hollywood generation. The Departed also received the Academy Award for the Best Motion Picture of 2006, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing by longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker, her third win for a Scorsese film. Scorsese has been married to Helen Morris since 1999; she is his fifth wife. They have a daughter, Francesca, who appeared in The Departed and The Aviator. He has a daughter, Catherine, from his first marriage to Laraine Brennan, and a daughter, Domenica Cameron-Scorsese, who is an actress, from his second marriage to Julia Cameron. Scorsese was also married to actress Isabella Rossellini from 1979 to their divorce in 1982. He married producer Barbara De Fina in 1985; their marriage ended in divorce as well.

Forest Whitaker is an Academy Award-, Golden Globe-, and Emmy-winning American actor, producer, and director. For his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film, The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker won several major awards, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA. He became the fourth African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, following in the footsteps of Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and Jamie Foxx. Whitaker immersed himself in the details of Amin's life to prepare himself for the part. He has earned a rep
utation for this kind of intensive character study work for films such as Bird and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Whitaker has a long history of working with well-regarded film directors and fellow actors. In his first onscreen role of note, he played a football player in Amy Heckerling's 1982 coming-of-age teen-comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He co-starred alongside Nicolas Cage, Phoebe Cates, and Sean Penn. In 1986, he appeared in Martin Scorsese's film, The Color of Money (with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise), and in Oliver Stone's Platoon. The following year, he co-starred with Robin Williams in the comedy Good Morning, Vietnam. In 1988, Whitaker played the lead role of musician Charlie Parker in the Clint Eastwood-directed film, Bird. To prepare himself for the part, he sequestered himself in a loft with only a bed, couch, and saxophone, having also conducted extensive research and taken alto sax lessons. His performance, which has been called "transcendent," earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination. Whitaker continued to work with a number of well-known directors throughout the 1990s. Neil Jordan cast him in the pivotal role of "Jody" in his 1992 film, The Crying Game. In 1994, he was a member of the cast that won the first ever National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble for Robert Altman's film, Prêt-à-Porter. He gave a "characteristically emotional performance" in Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's 1995 film, Smoke. Whitaker played a serene, pigeon-raising, bushido-following, mob hit man in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, a 1999 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. Whitaker's greatest success to date is the 2006 film, The Last King of Scotland. To prepare for his role as dictator Idi Amin, Whitaker gained 50 pounds, learned to play the accordion, and immersed himself in research. He read books about Amin, watched news and documentary footage, and spent time in Uganda meeting with Amin's friends, relatives, generals, and victims; he also learned Swahili and mastered Amin's East African accent. His performance earned him the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, making him the fourth African-American actor in history to do so. In 1996, Whitaker married fellow actress Keisha Nash, whom he met on the set of Blown Away. The Whitakers have four children: two daughters together (Sonnet and True), his son (Ocean) from a previous relationship, and her daughter (Autumn) from a previous relationship.

Helen Mirren is an English stage, film and television actress. She has won an Oscar, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and four Emmy Awards during her career. Mirren has made numerous appearances in an array of films. Some of her earlier film appearances include Caligula, Excalibur, 2010: The Year We Make Contact (in which she speaks Russian), The Long Good Friday, White Nights and The Mosquito Coast. After those appearances she received roles
in Belfast-born director Terry George's film Some Mother's Son, which was about the 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland, opposite Irish actress Fionnuala Flanagan, Painted Lady, The Prince of Egypt and The Madness of King George. One of Mirren's other film roles was in Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, as the eponymous thief's wife, opposite Michael Gambon. Mirren continued her successful film career when she starred more recently in Gosford Park with Maggie Smith and Calendar Girls where she starred with Julie Walters. Other more recent appearances include The Clearing, Pride, Raising Helen, and Shadowboxer. Mirren also provided the voice for the supercomputer "Deep Thought" in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. During her career, she has portrayed three British queens in different films and television series. These include Elizabeth I in the television series Elizabeth I (2005), Elizabeth II in the film The Queen (2006), and Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, in The Madness of King George (1994). Her role in The Queen gained her numerous awards including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar for Best Actress. During her acceptance speech at the Academy Award ceremony, Mirren praised and thanked Elizabeth II and stated that she had maintained her dignity and weathered many storms during her reign as Queen. Mirren married American director Taylor Hackford (her partner since 1986), in the Scottish Highlands on 31 December 1997, his 53rd birthday. It was her first marriage, and his third (he has two children from his previous marriage). Mirren has no children.

Alan Arkin is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning and four-time Emmy nominated American actor and director. He is best-known for starring in such films as Catch-22, The In-Laws, Edward Scissorhands, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Glengarry Glen Ross and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2007. He is the father of actor Adam Arkin. Arkin is one of only eight actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance (for The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming in 1966). Two years later, he was again nom
inated, for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Arkin is equally comfortable in comedy and dramatic roles. Among those for which he has garnered the most favorable critical attention are his Oscar-nominated turns above; Wait Until Dark, as the erudite killer stalking Audrey Hepburn; director Mike Nichols' Catch-22; The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (where he played Sigmund Freud); writer Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, which Arkin directed; the The In-Laws, co-starring Peter Falk; Glengarry Glen Ross; and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he received his third Oscar nomination, in the category of Best Supporting Actor. On the 11th February 2007 he received a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Grandfather Edwin in Little Miss Sunshine. On February 25, 2007, upon winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Arkin, who plays a foul-mouthed grandfather with a taste for heroin said, "More than anything, I'm deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the possibility of innocence, growth and connection". At 72 years old, Arkin became the sixth oldest winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Arkin has been married three times. He and Jeremy Yaffe, to whom he was married from 1955 to 1960, have two sons: Adam Arkin, born Aug. 19, 1956 or 1957 (accounts differ), and Matthew Arkin, born in 1960. In 1967, Arkin had son Anthony (Tony) Dana Arkin with actress-screenwriter Barbara Dana (born 1940), to whom he was married from June 16, 1964 to the mid-1990s. In 1996, Arkin married a psychotherapist, Suzanne Newlander.

Jennifer Hudson is an Academy Award-winning American actress and singer. She first gained notice as one of the finalists on the third season of the FOX television series American Idol. She went on to star as Effie White in the 2006 motion picture musical Dreamgirls for which she won numerous awards including an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a SAG Award. In November 2005, Hudson was cast in the prized role of Effie White, the role originally created in a legendary Broadway performance by Jennifer Holliday, for the film adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls, which also starred Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, and Eddie Murphy. This role marked Hudson's debut screen performance. Hudson won the role over hundreds of professional singers and actresses, including American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. On February 25, 2007, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. At 25 years old, Hudson became the eighth-youngest winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Upon winning this award, Hudson also became one of the very few performers ever to win an Oscar for a debut screen performance. As of 2007, she is also the only person to have gone from participating in a reality television series to becoming an Academy Award winner.

The Lives of Others is an Academy Award-winning German film, marking the feature film debut of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. With The Lives of Others Donnersmarck won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film had earlier won seven Deutscher Filmpreis awards including best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor and best supporting actor, after having set a new record with 11 nominations. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Golden Globe Awards.

"I Need to Wake Up" is an Academy Award-winning song by Melissa Etheridge, written for the 2006 documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. It is the first instance of a documentary film winning the Best Song category. Etheridge received the 2006 Academy Award for Best Original Song for "I Need to Wake Up."

Monday, February 18, 2008

78th Academy Awards

The 78th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2005, were held on March 5, 2006 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. The ceremony was pushed back from its newly established February date because of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. The nominees were announced on January 31, 2006. Ang Lee's drama Brokeback Mountain had the most nominations of the year's films, receiving eight. Its nominations included Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Paul Haggis' Crash, George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck, and Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha each received six nominations.

Crash is an Academy Award-winning drama film directed by Paul Haggis. It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2004, and was released in
ternationally in 2005. The film is about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles. A self-described "passion piece" for director Paul Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real life incident in which his Porsche was carjacked outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard in 1991. It won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing of 2005 at the 78th Academy Awards. The film depicts several characters living in Los Angeles during a 36-hour period and brings them together through car accidents, shootings, and carjackings. Most of the characters depicted in the film are racially prejudiced in some way and become involved in conflicts which force them to examine their own prejudices. Through these characters' interactions, the film seeks to depict and examine not only racial tension, but also the distance between strangers in general. There has been much criticism over Crash winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, as an underdog over front-runner Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback Mountain led the pre-Oscar award season by winning most of the key precursor awards, particularly at the Golden Globes as well as earning the most Academy Award nominations (8).

Ang Lee is an Academy Award-winning film director from Taiwan. While The Wedding Banquet (1993) became a break-out hit for Lee as the most proportionatel
y profitable film of 1993, it was Sense and Sensibility (1995) that brought Lee his first true international acclaim. Following that, both Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) (nominated for Academy Award for Best Director), and Brokeback Mountain (2005) (which won the Academy Award for Best Director), became cultural touchstones, sweeping awards ceremonies, and, in the case of Brokeback Mountain, sparking intense critical debates. In 2007, Lee's film Lust, Caution earned him a second Golden Lion, making him one of only two directors to have ever won Venice's most prestigious award twice. The 2005 movie about the forbidden love between two Wyoming sheepherders immediately caught public attention and initiated intense debates. The film was critically acclaimed at major international film festivals and won Lee numerous Best Director and Best Film awards worldwide. In addition, "Brokeback" became a cultural phenomenon and a box office hit. "Brokeback" was nominated for a leading eight Oscars and was the frontrunner for Best Picture heading into the March 5 ceremony, but lost out to Crash, a story about race relations in Los Angeles, in a controversial upset. There was speculation that the film's depiction of homosexuality might have been the reason for that upset.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is an Academy Award-and Golden Globe-winning American actor. One of Hoffman's earliest major roles was as a defendant in a 1990 episode of the television series Law & Order. He made his film breakthrough in 1992 when he appeared in four feature films, with the most successful film being Scent of a Woman, in which he played a backstabbing classmate of Chris O'Donnell's character. He had been stocking shelves at a city grocery at the time before landing the role and credits the film to kickstarting his career. Hoffman has es
tablished a successful and respected film career playing diverse and idiosyncratic characters in supporting roles, working with a wide variety of noted directors, including Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers, Cameron Crowe, Spike Lee, David Mamet, Robert Benton, Todd Solondz and Anthony Minghella; notably, he has appeared in four out of five of Anderson's feature films to date (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love). Hoffman has continued to play supporting parts in such films as Cold Mountain, as a carnally obsessed preacher, Along Came Polly, as Ben Stiller's crude has-been actor buddy, and Mission: Impossible III, as villainous arms dealer Owen Davian out to kill Ethan Hunt. Hoffman has distinguished himself by playing a wide contrast of characters including gay characters (Boogie Nights, Flawless and Capote), lonely losers (Happiness), spoiled rich brats (Scent of a Woman, Patch Adams and The Talented Mr. Ripley), caring and nurturing figures (Magnolia and Almost Famous), vicious thugs (Punch-Drunk Love and Mission: Impossible III), sensitive artists (State and Main), outlandish CIA agents (Charlie Wilson's War), and so on. In 2005, Hoffman won widespread acclaim for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in the film Capote. His performance received numerous high-profile accolades and awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In 2007, Hoffman was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing Gust Avrakotos, a CIA agent who helps Congressman Charlie Wilson support a covert war in Afghanistan in the movie Charlie Wilson's War. In 2008, he was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same role. Hoffman is in a relationship with costume designer Mimi O'Donnell. They met while working on the 1999 play In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, which Hoffman directed. They have a son, Cooper Alexander, born in March 2003, and a daughter, Tallulah, born in November 2006.

Reese Witherspoon is an American actor who has won an Acad
emy Award and established herself as one of the highest-paid female Hollywood actors in recent years. Witherspoon landed her first feature role as the female lead in the movie The Man in the Moon in 1991; later that year she made her television acting debut, in the cable movie Wildflower. In 1996, Witherspoon's performance in Freeway established her as a rising star and led to roles in three major 1998 movies: Overnight Delivery, Pleasantville, and Twilight. The following year, Witherspoon appeared in the critically acclaimed Election, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. 2001 marked her career's turning point with the breakout role as Elle Woods in the box office hit Legally Blonde, and in 2002 she starred in Sweet Home Alabama, which became her biggest commercial film success to date. 2003 saw her return as lead actress and executive producer of Legally Blonde 2. In 2005, Witherspoon received worldwide attention and praise for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, which earned her an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Witherspoon married actor and Cruel Intentions co-star Ryan Phillippe in 1999; they have two children, Ava and Deacon. The couple separated at the end of 2006 and divorced in October 2007.

George Clooney is an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter, who gained fame as one of the lead doctors in the long-running television drama, ER (1994–99), as Anthony Edwards's best friend and partner, Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross, but is best known for his subsequent rise as an "A-List" movie star in contemporary American cinema. Winner of an Academy Award and two Golden Globes, Clooney has balanced his glamorous performances in big-budget blockbusters with work as a producer and director behind commercially riskier projects, as well as social and political activism. On January 18, 2008, the United Nations announced Clooney's appointment as a United Nations peace envoy. Clooney continued to star in movies while appearing in ER, his first major Hollywood role being From Dusk Till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez. He followed its success with One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer and The Peacemaker with Nicole Kidman, the latter being the initial feature length release from Dreamworks SKG studio. Clooney was then cast as the new Batman in Batman & Robin. In 1998, he starred in Out of Sight, opposite Jennifer Lopez. This was the first of many collaborations with director Steven Soderbergh. He also starred in Three Kings during the last weeks of his contract with ER. After leaving ER, Clooney starred in major Hollywood successes, such as Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. In 2001, he teamed up with Soderbergh again for Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the 1960s Rat Pack film of the same name. Alongside Clooney, the film also starred Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, and Julia Roberts. To this day, it remains Clooney's most commercially successful movie, earning approximately US$444,200,000 worldwide. The film spawned two sequels, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007. He made his directorial debut in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, an adaptation of the autobiography of TV producer Chuck Barris. Though the movie didn't do well at the box office, Clooney's direction was praised among critics and audiences alike. In 2005, Clooney starred in Syriana, which was based loosely on former Central Intelligence Agency agent Robert Baer and his memoirs of being an agent in the Middle East. The same year he directed, produced, and starred in Good Night, and Good Luck, a film about 1950s television journalist Edward R. Murrow's famous war of words with Senator Joseph McCarthy. Both films received critical acclaim and decent box-office returns despite being in limited release. At the 2006 Academy Awards, Clooney was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. As with tradition, last year's acting winners present an acting award for the opposite sex. Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress the previous year but was contractually signed to star in a play in New York City, therefore unable to present the award for Best Supporting Actor; Nicole Kidman was recruited to fill in. He became the first person in Oscar history to be nominated for directing one movie and acting in another in the same year. He would go on to win for his role in Syriana. On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Michael Clayton. Clooney has only been married once, to actress Talia Balsam from 1989 to 1993.

Rachel Weisz is an Academy Award-winning English actress. She became well-known after her roles in the Hollywood films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and has since continued appearing in major film roles. Weisz started her cinem
a career in 1995 with Chain Reaction and then appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty. She followed this work with more English films including My Summer with Des, Swept from the Sea, The Land Girls, and Michael Winterbottom's I Want You. Although she received favourable critical recognition for her work to this point, her breakout into wide audience recognition came from a popular serio-comic horror movie The Mummy, in which she played the lead female role. Since then she has starred in a number of films including The Mummy Returns (2001), which grossed higher than the original, as well as Enemy at the Gates (2001), About a Boy (2002), Runaway Jury (2003) and Constantine (2005).In 2005, Weisz starred in The Constant Gardener, a film adaptation of a John le Carré thriller of the same title set in the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalani, Kenya. For this role, Weisz won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. Weisz is engaged to American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. They have been dating since 2004. They have a son, Henry Chance, born on May 31, 2006 in New York City.

Tsotsi is a 2005 Academy Award-winning film directed by Gavin Hood and set in a Soweto slum, near Johannesburg, South Africa. It is based on a novel of the same name by Athol Fugard. The soundtrack features Kwaito music performed by the popular South African artist Zola as well as a score by Mark Kilian and Paul Hepker featuring the voice of South African protest singer/poet Vusi Mahlasela.Tsotsi won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards. In 2005, Gavin Hood was nominated for the Screen International Award at the European Film Awards for his work on the movie. Tsotsi received a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. The film also won at least five "audience" or "people's choice" awards at various film festivals.

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" is a 2005, Academy Award winning song written for the film Hustle & Flow by Memphis hip hop artists Paul Beauregard and Jordan Houston (both from rap group Three 6 Mafia), and Cedric Coleman. It was performed in the film by stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Three 6 Mafia made history as they became the first African-American hip-hop group to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song and also became the first hip-hop artists to ever perform at the ceremony. However, it was the second hip hop song to win an Oscar, after Eminem's "Lose Yourself", from the film 8 Mile, won in 2002.