Exes to come face to face again at the Oscars

Turning inevitably to this week’s Oscar nominations  announcement, I can’t comment on many of the choices as the panel always seems to pick films that haven’t been released in the UK yet but much of the shortlist is filled with familiar and predictable names.
I’m not the first to make this connection but this year’s Academy Awards night will see James Cameron and ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow locking horns once again.
Following the Golden Globes, where the pair were both in the running for gongs, Bigelow and Cameron’s respective big guns, The Hurt Locker and Avatar, are both up for nine Oscars, with the former Mrs Cameron taking on her ex-love in the best director category.
Also scoring highly for nominations are Up in the Air, Precious and Inglourious Basterds, which is surely Quentin Tarantino’s best-ever chance of winning over the Academy.
Until recently, the sight of Sandra Bullock and Woody Harrelson on the shortlist would have prompted guffaws of disbelief but they’re both on there, for best actress and best supporting actor respectively.
Expect Avatar to win big, QT to bag a few and Bullock to surprise her critics.
And for an outside Brit chance, how about Colin Firth for best actor?

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Razzies list is the usual mix of the bad and the really bad

It’s one of the biggest weeks of the cinematic year so how could I overlook the event that has had everyone talking? Yes, the nominations are out for the Razzies.
While Hollywood’s more serious souls were nervously awaiting Tuesday’s announcement of the Oscar contenders, the Golden Raspberry shortlist was released to almost-equal levels of excitement.
OK, not really, but they’re always worth a look and some of the less self-obsessed stars almost view recognition of their more embarrassing efforts as a badge of honour.
The shortlist contains the usual mix of the dire, the self-important and the downright weird, with the oh-so-serious Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and New Moon picking up plenty of nominations and comedy All About Steve, which you know is going to be rubbish without even seeing it, right up there. too.
Hannah Montana: The Movie also takes something of a metaphorical kicking, with protagonist Miley Cyrus and dad Billy Ray notching up the unlikely achievement of a father and daughter both being nominated. I’m sure they’re salivating in anticipation whenever they take a break from polishing those perfect teeth and rolling around in all their piles of cash.
Land of the Lost, Old Dogs and po-faced infidelity drama Obsessed are also on the list, while poor old Steve Martin gets a nod for his latest Pink Panther effort.
There’s an added twist this year as the Razzie panel will pick their worst actor, actress and film of the decade, with Ben Affleck, Eddie Murphy, Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, Madonna, Battlefield Earth and Gigli all in the running, although how New In Town missed out is a mystery.
It’s the closest some of these films will get to winning any award, so expect some of their stars and directors to pitch up at the ceremony and poke fun at themselves, but I would be amazed if Beyonce Knowles (worst actress, Obsessed) was among them. We shall see.

Waltz set to be a Global star

AVATAR, Robert Downey Junior and The Hangover were all big winners at the Golden Globes this week, as expected.
Few would have predicted anything different after the buzz all three created, Downey drawing particular plaudits for his energetic and enigmatic display in Sherlock Holmes.
But the breakthrough award of the night had to be the best supporting actor going, which rightly went to Christoph Waltz.
I admit Ive not seen the performances of his rivals, but the newcomers effort in Inglourious Basterds is one of the finest arrivals on the Hollywood stage Ive seen for some time.
His sinister SS fixer Hans Landa is a masterclass in creepy charm to savour.
For the record, Avatar snared the best drama award and a best director gong for James Cameron, while the other winners included Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, Meryl Street for Julie & Julia and Monique, whose starring role in Precious could be a massive career catalyst.
George Clooney, much-fancied for his performance in the popular Up in the Air, went away empty-handed, losing out to Jeff Bridges turn in Crazy Heart, while Up, which has crossed over from the cartoon genre to mainstream success, was a far-from-surprising winner of the animated film category.
The Globes are often a good indicator for the Oscars (indeed, Titanic picked up the same globes before cleaning up at the Academy Awards a month later), so it looks like James Cameron could soon be reprising the night 12 years ago when he declared himself king of the world.
Although the way he modestly suggested, on picking up the best director prize, that his ex-wife, Hurt Locker helmer Kathryn Bigelow, should have won instead suggests that the famously-demanding director may have mellowed somewhat since since his Titanic days.

Go easy on the robots, please

Hollywood gossip suggests that Transformers 3 (yes, they really are making another one) will feature “fewer robots”.
Excuse me for asking but, am I missing something? Surely the robots are the whole point?
Director Michael Bay reportedly told fans this week that the third instalment “won’t be as robot-heavy and there will be fewer explosions.”
I think this could be a classic case of “believe that and you’ll believe anything.”

Strong showing by our Mark

Rumour has it that Mark Strong is on the wanted list for Green Lantern, in which he could play the villainous Sinestro.
Following show-stealing performances in Sherlock Holmes and Body of Lies, the London-born actor is due a big blockbuster role.
Its nearly 14 years since Strong lined up alongside, among others, a certain Daniel Craig (whatever happened to him?) in the acclaimed TV drama Our Friends in the North and its great to see him fulfilling his potentialalthough by that I mean landing major roles in general, not necessarily the Green Lantern gig.
With 2010 seeing further appearances in The Eagle of the Ninth and Robin Hood, Strongs profile could rise even higher come the end of the year.

Cameron cash in with Avatar bonanza

As expected, James Cameron’s Avatar has turned into a film phenomenon, sweeping away all its contemporaries and threatening to destroy all-time records.
By this week, the 3D sci-fi flick had racked up $1.62 billion in ticket sales, placing it way ahead of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King ($1.12 billion) already and with plenty more to come.
That leaves Avatar second in the all-time list behind Cameron’s other epic effort, Titanic and the $220 million needed to overhaul the sinking-ship film doesnt look insurmountable on current form.
Whether Avatar can match Titanic’s legendary haul at the Oscars remains to be seen.

Penn set to be a Stooge again

On, off and on again. It’s difficult to keep up when it comes to Sean Penn (pictured) and the forthcoming Three Stooges film.
It was almost a year ago that I noted how the double Oscar winner appeared to be lightening up a bit by signing on alongside Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro for the Farrelly Brothers take on the classic slapstick comedy trio.
Within three months, the story that seemed to be good to be true, the idea of the movie worlds most notorious misery guts cheering up (on screen, at least) had fallen flat when Penn quit to spend more time with his family.
Its now being reported that Sean’s efforts to save his relationship with Robin Wright Penn have failed once and for all and the actor has decided he’s spent enough time with his family and rejoined the Stooges project.
Oh well, I suppose love’s loss is comedy’s gain.