Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Film

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The 91st Oscars are coming up this Sunday. Among the awards that will be presented are Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short Subject.

If you’d like to know more about this year’s outstanding documentary nominees before the winners are announced on Sunday, then check out these trailers for each of the nominees in each of the documentary categories.

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Al Gore is back! Watch the new trailer for An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. In theaters July 28, 2017.


Three days ago, HuffPost asked: What would happen if a presenter announced the wrong winner at the Oscars? Now we know…

Talk about foreshadowing.

On Friday, the Huffington Post ran an article asking, What would happen if a presenter announced the wrong winner at the Oscars? The article, written by Matthew Jacobs, discussed several hypothetical scenarios that might result in the kind of gaffe that loomed over the finale of last night’s Oscars telecast.

Quoted in the article was one of the two people responsible for the tabulation and distribution of the awards envelopes: Martha Ruiz of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who currently shares the responsibility for Oscar balloting with Brian Cullinan. Ruiz told Jacobs that they have safeguards in place to ensure there are no snafus.

It’s him checking me and me checking him, and we do it multiple times against each other to make sure that when we leave and are ultimately handing the envelopes to someone, we’re very confident they’re getting the right envelopes and the contents in them are accurate.

Evidently, those safeguards failed last night, because Ruiz’s partner Cullinan somehow managed to give Warren Beatty of Bonnie and Clyde fame the wrong envelope before he walked out on stage with Faye Dunaway.

Screen captures from last night’s telecast prove that Beatty was given a second copy of the envelope and card for Best Actress in a Leading Role — an award that went to Emma Stone for La La Land — instead of the Best Picture envelope.

Some viewers have expressed confusion at why there is more than one envelope for each award, but the simple explanation is that redundancy is very important. Presenters enter from different sides of the stage, and if something were to happen to one set of envelopes, there’s a second set that can serve as backups.

Beatty’s reaction upon opening the envelope he’d been given was one of confusion. He looked up and then at his co-presenter Dunaway without disclosing what he’d seen. Then, after she prompted him to speak (“You’re impossible. C’mon!”), he showed her the card. Without pausing to study it closely herself, she mistakenly pronounced La La Land the winner.

“I want to tell you what happened,” Beatty said a couple of minutes later to a shocked audience. “I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

The unanswered question now is why no one ran out on stage immediately after Dunaway’s pronouncement to make an immediate correction.

“It doesn’t sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you’re giving the presenter the right envelope,” Cullinan himself told the press a few days ago.

He failed to do so, and this may be his last Oscars gig as a consequence.

Cullinan also boasted “we always do a good job” and declared the Academy has “absolute trust in us and what we do”. It would seem that trust has been shaken.

Cullinan spent a portion of last night excitedly tweeting photos from backstage. He has since deleted those tweets, apparently out of embarrassment.

His firm, meanwhile, was forced to issue a public apology and promise to investigate what happened. But even the apology was in error: it claimed the mistake had been immediately corrected”, when in fact it had not been. It was a full two minutes before the audience at the Dolby Theater and millions watching around the globe were informed that Moonlight, not La La Land, had really won Best Picture.

Congratulations to Moonlight, the real Best Picture winners for 2017!

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Without mentioning him, Meryl Streep eviscerated Donald Trump’s bigotry and his despicable campaign for the presidency. “Violence incites violence,” she noted.


Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway?

It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates?

And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. O.K., go on with it.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.


The industry looks at Disney with envy… It is a highly successful and unique strategy, well-executed and hard to duplicate.

— Reif Cohen, speaking to Bloomberg’s Anousha Sakoui (Disney’s buying spree will reshape Hollywood for years to come)


Disney has four more “Star Wars” movies on the way, along with “Frozen 2,” a two-part “Avengers: Infinity War” and a reboot of the Indiana Jones series. Fox has three “Avatar” films and “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Universal has another “Jurassic World” and is putting all of its classic monsters (Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein) into one megamovie. Warner Bros., deciding that Batman and Superman were too weak on their own, will roll out “Batman vs. Superman” in March and it has a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie, too.

— Excerpt from a New York Times article about the success of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Movie studios owned by big media conglomerates are betting big on remakes and sequels to carry their bottom lines over the next few years.


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Disney announces Frozen sequel

The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to cash in on its blockbuster animated feature film by turning it into a franchise. All of the principal cast of the first film are set to return, the studio says. No date has been set for the film’s release.



Academy leaves Joan Rivers and Jan Hooks out of In Memoriam segment

This year’s In Memoriam segment at the Academy Awards, introduced by acclaimed actress Meryl Streep, inexplicably omitted Joan Rivers and Jan Hooks, leaving many Oscar viewers annoyed and upset. Since they weren’t remembered onscreen at the Dolby Theater, we’re going to remember them here.

Joan Rivers:

Joan Alexandra Molinsky (June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014), known as Joan Rivers, was an American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and television host noted for her often controversial comedic persona — where she was alternately self-deprecating or sharply acerbic, especially toward celebrities and politicians.

Rivers came to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show. Hosted by her mentor, Johnny Carson, the show established Rivers’ comedic style. In 1986, with her own rival program, The Late Show with Joan Rivers, Rivers became the first woman to host a late night network television talk show.

She subsequently hosted The Joan Rivers Show (1989-1993), winning a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

Jan Hooks:

Janet VivianJanHooks (April 23, 1957 – October 9, 2014) was an American actress and comedian best known for her work on Saturday Night Live, where she was a repertory player from 1986–91, and continued making cameo appearances until 1994. Her subsequent work included a regular role on the final two seasons of Designing Women, a recurring role on 3rd Rock from the Sun and a number of other roles in film and television.

Biographies are from Wikipedia.

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Oscars 2015: Female directors scarce at Hollywood’s major studios

The Los Angeles Times asked why the directing profession is dominated by men. Women directed a mere 4.6% of films at the major Hollywood studios in 2014.

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Sony backtracks, will release ‘The Interview’ to some theaters

After being criticized by President Obama and many in Hollywood for self-censorship, Sony Pictures has announced it will release ‘The Interview’ after all. Although the big theater chains still seem uninterested in showing the film, a number of independent theaters are interested and plan to screen it. It will initially be available to watch in two to three hundred smaller theaters.

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Delighting Star Wars fans everywhere, Disney’s Lucasfilm has released the first trailer for the upcoming Star Wars feature, The Force Awakens, which was previously known only as Episode VII. Although Return of the Jedi ended with the downfall of Emperor Palpatine and the destruction of the Second Death Star, from the looks of things, the Galactic Civil War is apparently still being fought. There are images of Stormtroopers, pilots with Rebel insignia flying X-Wings of different sizes (if the original X-Wing was akin to a Flying Fortress, a new one shown onscreen is like a Superfortress or Stratofortress) and the Millennium Falcon eluding TIE fighters.


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Why no future Hollywood star could ever match Lauren Bacall’s allure

Vanessa Thorpe, The Observer: “The female icons of Hollywood’s golden age were glamorous and – thanks to studios’ image control – untouchable. But was fame any easier to deal with than in today’s internet age?”

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Lauren Bacall: a star that will shine for millennia

Historian Tim Stanley, writing for The Telegraph: “Lauren Bacall the actor has died, a sad thing for sure. But Lauren Bacall the star will live on forever. Because that’s what stars do. They burn bright for millennia.”

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Quite a few people seem to have been taken in by this YouTube video that purports to show scenes from the filming of the next Star Wars film in Germany. Diehard Star Wars fans, however, know that Episode VII is actually being filmed in the United Kingdom and is set after the demise of the Empire. (All the spacecraft featured in this clip are operated by the Empire in Episodes V and VI, including the Lambda Shuttle, TIE fighter, AT-AT walker, and AT-ST walker. )

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Meet the man who remade Middle‑earth

ETHAN GILSDORF: I know that there are many new characters and places in The Hobbit, but the basic elements and locations are already there. I can imagine that because the bigger work—the general parameters of the visual look of this world, Middle-earth—were established in Lord of the Rings—you’re not going to go and redesign Hobbiton or go redesign the Rivendell. You build to it, maybe.

JOHN HOWE: But once we’ve left Rivendell, it’s brand new territory and a very different part of Middle-earth than we’ve visited before, much father north and much farther to the east. So there’s an element of exoticism in there that’s very, very different. It’s kind of like heading toward St. Petersburg rather than heading to Rome, if you like. Although it’s a very, very different universe, but nonetheless it still needs to feel like it would plausibly sit with all the rest.

That’s something that was very instinctive with us. We don’t get out spreadsheets and checklists. It’s just really a question of how it feels.

ETHAN GILSDORF: And knowing that The Hobbit itself is a different tale in the sense of its tone and its scope, is it in some ways harder to visualize because Tolkien doesn’t have as much description of what things look like?

Or do you not feel that’s the case?

JOHN HOWE: No, I don’t feel that’s a constraint. I think the feel of Tolkien’s Middle-earth is very, very strong, and instinctively that provides guidelines for what feels “right” and what doesn’t. I know that’s a very hard thing to qualify and to quantify, but it’s very instinctive, and you quickly reach a point where you feel “That’s not quite right.” Beyond that point you don’t even pursue because it simply doesn’t feel like it fits.

(Full interview from Boing Boing: Meet the man who remade Middle‑earth)


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‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ goes back to the future with original stars

The Walt Disney Company has announced the casting of the next episode of Star Wars. Making a return to the series are Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (as Princess Leia), Harrison Ford (as Han Solo), Peter Mayhew (as Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (as C-3PO) and Kenny Baker (as R2-D2). Legendary composer John Williams is also returning to the score the new film, which opens in December 2015.