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."

No comments: