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Entries in parties and events (29)

Wednesday
Jan072015

Imitation Game vs. Whiplash. All in Good Fun

Tonight's Oscar event, another ritzy event with movers and shakers and Oscar winners present, was in celebration of The Imitation Game. But we'll backtrack to that in a moment. Just before heading out, I spotted Damien Chazelle the young/writer director of Whiplash fame and his friend, a composer, in the corner. I popped over to say hi, since they'd been so friendly at a Christmas party for Nightcrawler. Who were they chatting with but Graham Moore who wrote The Imitation Game! 'I guess this is the writer's corner,' I say and congratulated them on their WGA nominations earlier in the day. Imitation will be competing with the writers of American Sniper, Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy (interview), and Wild. Whiplash will be competing with the writers of Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Nightcrawler.

It suddenly occurred to me, and I verbalized it, that they'll be competitors with each other instead should they both be Oscar nominated on the 15th, considering the Whiplash switcheroo to Adapted. 'Can you tell how much we dislike each other?' they said, laughing, and the joke escalated 'it's even worse now that we're rivals!.' Chazelle is very very nice so I tried not to be disgusted (I kid I kid) at how young he is to be in the thick of the Oscar race. Imagine being an Oscar nominee, before you're even 30! I split hairs: Chazelle turns 30 a few days after Nomination Morning so it'll be quite a birthday present for the big 3-0 should it come to pass.

Bloomberg addresses producer Teddy Scharzman (cast and crew behind them). Photo © Kristina Bumphrey, StarTraks

As for The Imitation Game event...
Mayor Bloomberg spoke as did the producer Teddy Schwarzman and the director Morten Tyldum (who I'd earlier bombed with while trying my broken Norwegian out on him. You can't win them all and I promise I'm not as obnoxious as I sound in these write-ups. I exchange niceties and move on so as not to hog the luminaries since reporters who hog them are The.Worst.) Their speeches stressed frequently that Alan Turing changed the world and mourned the tragedy of his life and persecution due to his homosexuality. They also stressed the team effort, a labor of love with everyone being overworked and underpaid. Bloomberg attempted a joke about that last bit -- at least I hope it was a joke but, you know, card carrying pinko liberal here --  suggesting to the director and producer that that's what you're supposed to do 'overwork and underpay people. How the world works'

 

The films SAG nominated ensemble was not present but for three: Allen Leech (better known as "Tom" on Downton Abbey) who seemed genuinely grateful about how well his career is going and excited about the SAG nomination in particular. He told me he'd just wrapped an action picture with Sam Worthington and referred to Downton amusingly as 'the big house' but was cagey about whether he'd be back for another round. But the most fun was meeting the two youngest cast members from the film Alex Lawther (the young Alan Turing) and Matthew Beard (Peter Hilton, the codebreaker with the brother at sea). I remarked that they looked just like brothers which they'd heard more than once that night. 'We're standing together so that some producer will see us. Somebody's got to have a brothers picture!' The Imitation Game was Lawther's first movie ... he thinks... 'maybe it was X+Y' he's been very busy very quickly, hence the confusion. He confirmed to my delight that Sally Hawkins (also in X+Y) is just as amazing as you'd think she'd be. 'She's just like her Happy-Go-Lucky character. Well, not really.'

Allen Leech, Moten Tyldum, Matthew Beard and Alex Lawther at the event. Photo ©Kristina Bumphrey Star Traks

Beard, a little more seasoned in the movies, had previously co-starred in An Education (2009). I pointed out that by this time next week he'll already have two Best Picture nominees on his filmography. He hadn't realized it but quickly warmed to the idea, demanding that future scripts comply: 'I only do Best Pictures!'

related: Selma Luncheon, Unbroken party, A Most Violent Year afterparty

Wednesday
Jan072015

Selma Luncheon was a "Glory" 

In the last few days of Oscar voting (balloting ends tomorrow at 5 PM PST) campaigns have been running at full bore with events for numerous films ongoing here in NYC were TFE is based. None of them have been greater than the Selma luncheon yesterday which was a beauty from start to finish. The luminaries really turned out for this one: several former Oscar nominees and winners, famous TV journalists, and Harry Belafonte himself, who we recently honored here to coincide with his Jean Hersholt Huminatarian Award and who was so instrumental in the events of Selma and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Common, Ava DuVernay, and David Oyelowo at the NBR gala later that evening

I worried at first during the opening speech (my apologies but I forget the name of the man who introduced the event) that the righteous politics and the "importance" button were being pushed with too much force. I should explain: Selma is indeed tremendously important and a political drama. But it's also an extremely good movie and, all too often, the quality of actual movies, gets lost in the Oscar race. Which is to say that a movies execution, and not its concept of subject matter, is what awards should be based on. Anybody can address an important topic or theme or historical event, only visionary talented artists can render it as beautifully and potently as Ava DuVernay has.

My worries were unfounded. Soon all hint of stridency disappeared once the filmmaking team was speaking and humor, humility, tenderness, empathy, universality were also flooding the room. David Oyelowo, interviewed by Oprah's bestie Gale, told a wonderfully moving and funny story wherein he imitated his father's heavy Nigerian accent and shock and glee reacting to Brad Pitt's recent sing-a-long of "Oyelowo"

Our name is on the map now!

...and also his father's reaction to him playing the King of England on stage. His father had moved to the UK decades earlier when racism was prevalent.

I cannot believe that they let a black man play the Kind of England. And that black man is my son.

Recent attacks on Selma's accuracy were addressed both subtly and pointedly. Famous former New York Times reporter Gay Talese, who turns 83 next month, was interviewed about his first screening of the film. He had reported from Selma during the mayhem of that "Bloody Sunday" that is so horrifically dramatized in the film. He admitted that he had sat down to screen the film with considerable skepticism and was stunned that this woman who wasn't even there had captured it just as he remembered it. He urged those who were interested to watch the actual footage that the networks displayed in a moment that he said changed journalism and the country forever.

I loved Ava DuVernay, opening speech.

If you believe in justice and dignity our effort is you. What we tried to do is deconstruct heroes. No one is all saint. No one is all sinner. There are grey areas inbetween: it's called being a human being. And so what we try to do is unencase people from marble, take them out of the pages of a history book, allow them to breathe and become complex. For us to question who they are debate who tehy are. That was our intention and in doing so illuminate this beautiful time, a time that really changed this country. The fact that we can all be in this room together, celebrating as we are as equals, is the direct result of the events we chronicle. 

She also addressed, with some noticeable sadness, the complaints that she had not depicted LBJ correctly and reminded people that it's a distraction from the resonance of the film: that LBJ's great legacy, the Civil Rights Voting Act has recently been dismantled. That's what people should be angry about.

But for all the fine speeches, the highlight of the event was most definitely a live performance of the Original Song contender "Glory". Common's humble opening speech set the inspiring tone. His stillness and hand gestures as he rapped with John Legend's passionate piano and voice on the chorus combined with the sonic depth that the back-up singers and strings behind them supplied made for an exquisite if ultra-short concert (just one song!).

I recorded it for you and saved it at the highest quality my phone could handle and you can listen right here. Common's speech is the first two minutes. The song begins thereafter. This won't approximate how moving it was to be there (it's only the third time they've performed the song live) but the song is too beautiful not to share.

 

"GLORY" PERFORMED LIVE

Wednesday
Dec312014

A Scene With Finn Wittrock

INT. RESPLENDENT PARTY - HOTEL - EARLY DECEMBER.

Medium Shot on BREATHROUGH SENSATION (thirty) in expensive light suit, jet black hair, perfect skin, perfectest face, leaving an Academy schmoozing party. His co-stars in "Unbroken" are still mingling as the party wraps up but the young actor is heading out. People congratulate him on his recent marriage on his way.

Determined NOT USUALLY AGGRESSIVE SEMI WELL KNOWN OSCAR BLOGGER (forties), approaches, looking frantic, lumpy, bedraggled in comparison despite also wearing a suit and tie. The actor is having his moment. So too shall this blogger. The actor's handlers surprisingly give the blogger the thumbs up, everyone en route to the elevator bank.

NATHANIEL 

(Nervous) I guess on the go?

FINN WITTROCK

Let's do it!

NATHANIEL

Impressive year: Masters of Sex, Freakshow and now Unbroken. And you're so different in all. Is your life completely crazy all of a sudden?

FINN WITTROCK

It's been gradual -- at this moment it feels very different than a year ago when I was starving on a raft. Maybe in some ways because I haven’t gotten insane notoriety before this I've been able to do many different things without people putting in a box for any one thing?

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec212014

Top Five's Top Five

Have you seen Chris Rock's Top Five  yet? I found it affable and intermittently funny but perhaps never more than mildly so. Here are five quick notes on it..

1. Maybe a little too navel-gazing on Chris Rock's part but we'll let it pass since most comedians turned actors play it like that from Woody Allen back in the day to every comic with a sitcom deal from the past thirty years.

2. True story: This movie has a super cast. It would have made a smarter SAG nomination than The Theory of Everything. (But then what wouldn't? Sorry Theory. I like ya but that nom is a big "D'oh!"). It's great to see a film about a guy actually give actresses fun things to do and Sherri Shepherd, Gabrielle Union, Rosario Dawson, and Leslie Jones all have good moments. I attended a Paramount party a few weeks ago that sort of morphed into a Top Five party because Interstellar left early. I am usually very social at these things but somehow I spent most of it off in a corner discussing Vanessa Redgrave and Faye Dunaway with another writer (appropriate!). I was going to talk to Gabrielle Union but I didn't want to be one of those people and bring up the East Compton Clovers, you know? The reaction would surely have been...

Brrrrrr. It's cold in here.

I did actually talk to Rosario Dawson, though... 

Three more bits including that "top five" after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec152014

Missi's Oscar Night Memoir

We return you to our celebrity guest-host Missi Pyle... at The Film Exp The Missi Experience. Just one more post after this gorgeously fun memoir. Enjoy - Editor


ME N OSCAR

The 84th Academy Awards. An Oscar Night Memoir
- by Missi Pyle

I just want to take a minute to talk about The Artist. Holy shit. What an incredible experience that was.

Tiny back story. I left LA in 2008. I had married this guy from Montana with a grizzly bear sanctuary. I bought a geodome in the woods in Montana and moved in with said Grizzly man. I truly don't know what I was thinking. I had made some decent money in the previous year and I thought I could act from Montana? (Spoiler! Only Michael Keaton and Jeff Bridges can act from Montana - I wrote a show about it) Anyway, the marriage didn't work out and I ran out of money and came crawling back to LA.

I randomly had auditioned for, gotten the part and shot the film The Artist. It was really an incredible experience. But in my wildest dreams I never imagined the ride it would take me on.

[OSCAR NIGHT AFTER THE JUMP...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov072014

AFI Opening Night: A Most Violent Year Spawns A Most Excellent Party

Dear readers, though I have crashed a bit mood-wise (blame my Gemini nature) on this Friday the first 24 hours in Los Angeles for "The AFI Fest Presented by Audi - they expect everyone to say that since it rolls right off the tongue! -  were euphoric. It was surely a good omen that all the emails and tweets awaiting me once I was out of airplane mode were about The Fabulous Baker Boys 25th anniversary photo reunion. My favorite new compliment that I plan to use whenever I can think of a way to use it came from devout reader / awesome Canadian Cory who wrote:

Congrats on this existing".

In fact, that's exactly what I should have said to JC Chandor at the after party for A MOST VIOLENT YEAR's gala premiere. [More...]

Click to read more ...