20th Annual SAG Awards nominations


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‘August: Osage County’ spotlights Meryl Streep as a manic matriarch


It seems as if every award season Meryl Streep’s name gets tossed into the ring. Being a world-renowned actress, Meryl Streep has been in a class all of her own, which spans her 30 years as a thespian. Whether she’s playing the intimidating head of a fashion brand in the The Devil Wears Prada, or a distressed survivor of a Nazi concentration camp in Sophie’s Choice, Streep effortlessly seems to understand and capture every human experience.

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THE INQUISITR: There’s so many different ways you can read Violet — was she damaged, spiteful, confused, insecure? Do you decide pretty early on what her motivations are? It’s a character that can be played in so many different ways.

MERYL STREEP: John [Wells] and I e-mailed a little bit in preparation for this. One of the things that really interested me was where she was on her painkiller cycle in any given scene. Since we were shooting out of order, I had to map that in a way, just so I would know what to bring to my fellow actors. You know, as an actor you’re supposed to want to go into the house of pain over and over and over again, but I resisted doing the part because of that. On so many levels physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, Violet is enraged and/or in pain, or drugged at any given time. That was the main thing and I didn’t doubt that I would go— I don’t want to talk about this! [Laughs].

THE INQUISITR: What was it like for you to work with Chris Cooper again in a much larger capacity?

STREEP: Chris and I worked together, but never in such a substantial way. Chris’ character I felt was someone that he would view with his enormous humanity and his compassion, and I knew that the audience would love him. I knew that they would hate me in equal measure, and that is “the story.” It’s a balance of all these characters. What you give you get and what you get you give from each person. It only works if we’re together. We were so together. When Margo’s character says that she has my back, I felt that she always, always, always felt that, because she made me feel that way. We were very lucky to have each other in making this thing.

THE INQUISITR: How did you bond strong with your co-stars? Was it hard to shake everything off at the end of an emotional scene?

STREEP: We ate a lot. It wasn’t the most joyous experience in my point of view. It was hard to feel that way about everybody. It was miserable, and it was also during the election, and television is very odd out there. You could feel very disembodied in that world so it was important to make a connection beyond and outside of the set. Also I was smoking non stop, which really makes you feel sh—y.

THE INQUISITR: Was there any one particular topic that touched you emotionally?

STREEP: For me one of the most upsetting scenes we shot very early on, and it was with Sam Shepard who is a writer that I’ve always admired, and as an actor too. To look at him close up and see his loathing of me was really hard. You get old and you look old, and you’re just old, and you still think that maybe there’s a spark of love from this person who has gone through everything, and to look in his eyes and realize that he would rather be dead than look at me, that was brutal. That set the tone for how I chose to deal with his death in every scene afterwards.

THE INQUISITR: Did the humor help you deal with the weight of the role?

STREEP: Every character I’ve ever played is about 5’6 and weighs about the same [Laughs] in terms of weightiness. I was trying to look sicker and thinner than I actually am, but I don’t think about things that way. To me one of the most excruciatingly funny pieces in this is the prayer, which is earnestly given by Chris [Cooper] to the best of his ability. It reminded me of church, and there was no laughter like the laughter when you’re in church and the whole pew goes nuts. You talk about how humor is born out of pain. Every single one of these actors came to the reading with the copy of the original play in their back pocket with their laughs that they didn’t want to get cut. You have a sense of what’s going to buy you the attention of people, because otherwise they want to kill themselves with this family. You come together with your friends and say, “I had Thankgiving at my mother’s house and I have to tell you what my mother said!” And you tell the story that was not funny when you were there, but in the tone it’s fabulous, and that’s how you transform your life.

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Nominations for the 18th Annual Satellite Awards – March 9, 2014


Meryl Streep – August: Osage County -The Weinstein Co.
Judi Dench – Philomena – The Weinstein Co.
Sandra Bullock – Gravity – Warner Bros.
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine – Sony Pictures Classics
Amy Adams – American Hustle – Sony
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Enough Said – Fox Searchlight
Adèle Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Color – Sundance
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks – Disney

See all nominations here

Actors Hall of Fame Induction – February 9, 2014


The Actors Hall of Fame Foundation today announced that 15 international award winning actors will be inducted into The Actors Hall of Fame on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 2pm in Culver City.

The 2014 Inductees are: Julie Andrews, Robert DeNiro, Judi Dench, Robert Duvall, Kirk Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Olivia de Havilland, Hal Holbrook, James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, William H. Macy, Maggie Smith and Meryl Streep.

A special performance by The Hobart Shakespeareans, a class of 5th graders from Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles, under the guidance of their National Medal of Arts winning teacher, Ralph Esquith will be one the highlights of the Induction celebration.

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Sandra Bullock: Meryl Streep will ‘Kick My Ass’


The awesome friendship between Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep is now more awesome. “If Meryl and I get in a ring, she’ll kick my ass,” Bullock told ShortList.com in a new interview. “People don’t realize that there’s a side of Meryl that’s just mean. You walk away and she’ll just rip your dress … I know not to turn my back on her.”

This, of course, isn’t the first time Bullock has talked about Streep in such a manner. Their banter dates back to awards season in 2010, when Bullock and Streep were both nominated for Best Actress.

“With Meryl, when this whole thing started, I left her a voice mail going, ‘You’ve got to watch your back. I’m gonna cut you. I’m gonna take you down,'” Bullock said in an interview with The Associated Press before the Academy Awards in 2010. “And then she sent me dead orchids and told me to die, so I sent her a case of liquor and told her to toast to white trash.”

Perhaps more dead orchids will be in play this year: Bullock has received early awards buzz for her lead role in “Gravity,” while it’s expected that Streep could score her 15th Best Actress nomination (and 18th overall nomination) for “August: Osage County.”

HuffingtonPost

Although Hollywood actresses would like to make you think that there’s no real rivalry between them and that they spend most Friday nights braiding each other’s hair and playing Dream Phone, that’s not always the case.

After Sandra Bullock won the 2010 Best Actress Oscar over Meryl Streep and after she provided us with this brilliantly public snub, the two have indulged in a playfully antagonistic relationship.

But while we were speaking to Bullock for the release of heart-racing space thrillerGravity, she revealed the truly harrowing details of just how nasty things get between the pair…

“If Meryl and I get in a ring, she’ll kick my ass,” she told us exclusively. “People don’t realise that there’s a side of Meryl that’s just mean. You walk away and she’ll just rip your dress…I know not to turn my back on her.”

Bullock also confessed that she’s convinced that the Oscar-winning star of The Devil Wears Prada will eventually lead to her untimely end.

“I will try to kick her ass but she will kill me,” she confessed. “That’s just how it’s gonna end and then she’ll be lovely Meryl again and I’ll just be dead.”

Okay so just in case you’re worried she wasn’t joking…

“We will have a nice sparring I hope until the day we die,” she also said. “I love nothing more than hanging out with that woman and having a glass of wine.”

Either way, get those two in a ring. We’ll pay good money.

You can see the full video interview next week.

Gravity hits cinemas November 7

Shortlist

Vulture: 100 most valuable stars of 2013


13. Meryl Streep

The Grand Dame

Which actress was blessed with the highest studio score on this list? It wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, or Angelina Jolie whom our studio executives gave their highest marks to; instead, it was 64-year-old Meryl Streep. And can you blame them? Simply put, Streep is the closest thing to a guarantee you can get in this business: If she’s the star of a movie, it’s smart, important, and bound to be a quality production. (Or it’s Mamma Mia … but hey, that was a mammoth hit, at least!) But though Streep is often referred to as the world’s greatest actress, she cleverly plays against her reputation with charming acceptance speeches in which she fumbles for her glasses and drops self-deprecating bons mots. It’s no wonder that her likability score is the same as Most Valuable Stars king Robert Downey Jr.

And she’ll need every ounce of that likability for her next role as Violet Weston, the cruel and cancerous matriarch at the center of August: Osage County. The family drama, adapted from the Pulitzer-winning play by Tracy Letts, has Streep tearing into Julia Roberts and her kin with a ferocious meanness; Streep also tears into the scenery, delivering a performance so big that some critics were moved to pan it at the film’s Toronto Film Festival debut. But even so, those same pundits took it as fact that Streep would earn an Oscar nod for the role, so beloved is she by the Academy. And Streep is pretty fun even when she’s being bad, a quality she’ll continue to mine as the Witch in the currently filming Into the Woods, where she’ll get to sing onscreen for the first time since Mamma Mia.

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‘August: Osage County’ poster offers clues about awards positioning; premieres at 2013 Chicago International Film Festival


The one-sheet for John Wells’ star-studded film makes the case that the Christmas release offers something for everyone and is a comedy contender at the Globes.

August: Osage County Poster - P 2013

The Weinstein Co. has released the theatrical poster forAugust: Osage CountyJohn Wells‘ adaptation of Tracy Letts‘ Tony- and Pulitzer-winning play, which premiered at September’s Toronto International Film Festival and will be released nationwide on Christmas Day. Regardless of what one thinks about the film, which elicited a variety of reactions in Toronto, one has to acknowledge that its poster is visually cool and strategically smart.

The job of a movie poster is primarily to excite people enough to get butts in seats once the film opens, and I suspect that August‘s will accomplish that goal. By showcasing a large chunk of its impressive cast — namelyMeryl StreepJulia RobertsJulianne NicholsonEwan McGregorMargo MartindaleJuliette LewisDermot Mulroney,Chris Cooper and Abigail Breslin — the poster ensures that most moviegoers will be able to spot at least one person they like and will pay to see on the big screen. There’s something for everyone — the Meryl loyalists, the Julia fan base, etc. Other star-studded films have taken a similar approach, but rarely in such an organic way — instead of using headshots (like Valentine’s Day), August‘s poster features an image derived from an actual scene in the film, which is much more compelling

A secondary job of a movie poster is, or can be, to frame a film in the minds of awards voters — in other words, to create certain expectations for it. This is extremely important because most voters make time to watch only a handful of contenders each awards season, and in order to get their votes a distributor must convince them to watch a film in the first place. Trailers, Q&As and parties certainly help, but so too do movie posters’ taglines — with which TWC’s marketing folks and its longtime awards strategist Lisa Taback have a strong track record. One example: “Find your voice” for The King’s Speech, which hinted that the film offered an inspirational journey. The August poster’s tagline is cute (“Misery loves family”), and the image clearly suggests a raucous sort of dramedy (a woman attacking an older woman while others look on in shock). I’m told that August will be competing in the musical or comedy categories at the Golden Globes, as opposed to the drama races, and, while it could have been placed in either, this image reinforces the case for the former, in which it will have an easier time competing.

“We knew our poster had to feature the incredible ensemble cast but wanted to avoid anything that felt contrived,” Stephen Bruno, TWC’s president of marketing, told The Hollywood Reporter. “This image has a wonderful duality in that it entices the audience going in and serves as an iconic reminder of an extraordinary film on the way out.”

Whether or not August: Osage County will snag any major Oscar or Globe noms — aside from a lead actress one for Streep, which seems like a no-brainer — remains to be seen. But it seems to me that this poster is sure to get people talking about it, thereby teeing it up for awards voters as effectively as any could.

August:  Osage County (USA) – If there was something I was dreading to see at this year’s film fest more than toothless Kazakhstan farmers staring at barley fields shot in ten-minute single takes, it’s seeing the film version of what I consider to be one of the greatest American plays ever written.  If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you would know that I’ve devoted blog page after blog page to August: Osage County’s original Steppenwolf production that eventually went to Broadway, London, and Sydney.  Seeing its 2007 world premiere here in Chicago was one of my theatergoing life’s most indelible experiences, and solidified my ongoing deep commitment to Steppenwolf.  Hollywood has a pretty good track record in trashing stage adaptations (uhmn, Nine, anyone?), so I really wondered whether August: Osage County would lose most of its muscle and all of its sharp teeth, not to mention its painful insights on inter-generational differences and family dysfunction in its transfer to the screen.  I will most likely write more about the film when it is released in Chicago in December, but suffice it to say for now that August: Osage County as directed by John Wells and adapted by Tracy Letts from his own play is an honorable film that has the spirit and, in most places, the punch of the great stage production. I think the key is that Letts wrote the screenplay; he has slimmed down the running time but impressively kept the grand ideas, the enthralling plot complications, the gallows humor, and the criminally juicy dialogue of the play.  Although Wells does an unshowy directing job, he gives the film room to breathe by incorporating scenes set in the vast Oklahoma plains, an important metaphor in the play, beautifully (if a bit too artsy-ly) shot by cinematographer Adriano Goldman.

And then there’s the acting! Having seen the original Steppenwolf performances, including the now-legendary ones of Tony winner Deanna Dunagan as the matriarch Violet and Amy Morton as the eldest daughter Barbara, I doubted that anyone in the film, even the great Meryl Streep, can top them.  Well, Streep totally takes the role of vitriol-spewing and pain-causing Violet, rips it to shreds, and reconstructs it in her own special, enthralling way. Stumbling around wearing a fright wig with blood-shot eyes mostly covered up by Bob Dylan sunglasses, she is an electrifying Gorgon hiding a lot of pain underneath the complicated monstrosity.  Roberts is surprisingly her match imbuing Barbara with an underlying decency and grace together with all that hard-edge cattiness and brittle insecurities – you know that she’ll successfully conquer her demons and not become Violet redux, a point that was more ambiguously treated in Morton’s stage performance.  The entire cast is terrific (even the downplaying Ewan MacGregor who seems more comfortable blending into the scenery than chewing it unlike the rest of the actors), but imho, Julianne Nicholson as ignored middle-daughter Ivy and Margo Martindale as Aunt Mattie Fae give performances that stand apart from the stage ones. Nicholson is more hopeful than wistful and you completely understand why she stayed with her parents while the other daughters left.  Martindale gives a less shrewish take on Fannie Mae (a role that won Rondi Reed a Tony), but gives her so many layers of regrets at choices made that when she says to Roberts during one of the big reveal scenes near the end that “I was beautiful once, I wasn’t always your old fat-assed Aunt Fannie Mae”, you see a heartbreaking lifetime of missed opportunities on her face.

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