Best film? What best film?

February 27, 2007

Hollywood’s big party is now over, and the town can put the Oscar race of 2006 behind it.
    There is no doubt that the best film win by Martin Scorsese’s crime thriller “The Departed” left many movie fans happy. Scorsese, who has helmed movies such as “Raging Bull” and “GoodFellas,” also won the Oscar for best director, finally taking the prize after losing five times previously.
    “It was an overwhelming moment for me,” Scorsese told reporters backstage at the Oscars on Sunday. “This comes as an extraordinary surprise and quite frankly the best picture was a big surprise … I’m just not used to winning.”
    There also is no doubt the big night for “The Departed” left many other fans disappointed, and that is because the race for best film was so wide open. Each movie, “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Babel,” “The Queen,” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” had their ardent fans.
    But is “The Departed” really the best movie of 2006? Very simply, no. It is, by the way, absolutely the best movie for the dominant block of voters at the roughly 6,000 member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but that does not mean it is the best movie.
    Any critic and any moviegoer will tell you that enjoying movies is a subjective notion. The same thing that makes some people cry in “Little Miss Sunshine,” makes others laugh. The structure of the disparate stories told in “Babel” intrigued many audiences while others simply grew confused.
    It’s been that way throughout movie history, and it’s been that way through the 79 years of the Academy Awards. Quick, what was the best movie for 1939, “Wizard of Oz,” or “Gone With the Wind”? Both remain popular today, so they have stood the test of time. Yet only one could be chosen best film Oscar winner that year. It was “Gone With the Wind.”
    Why can’t “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” be the best film of 2006? After all, it was No. 1 at box offices  with $423 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales. That’s pretty good. “The Departed” had $131 million.
    Scorsese and “Departed” won because the master director was long overdue for his record of classic movies, and the Academy finally gave him his just reward, the experts say. There is nothing wrong with that. The Academy is a club for all intents and purposes, and that club can do what it wants.
    Filmgoing depends on many things, including the viewers’ mood at the time they see a film, their expectation of what story they will be told and how that story is told. Don’t let others decide what movie is good or bad, especially not a clubby group based in Beverly Hills with a highfalutin’ name like The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
    Meanwhile, as some of you may know, Pascal Pinck and I were on the red carpet Sunday night, and many of you sent us questions. We regret that we got to few of them because of the hectic pace. We do, however, hope you watched and enjoyed. Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming.

Fashion praise for Penelope Cruz

February 26, 2007

The red carpet is one of fashion’s big nights. Here’s a look at what some are saying about last night’s choices and more pictures from show here:

International affairs at Oscar night

February 26, 2007

It was the most diverse Oscar night ever, certainly by the nominations. Plenty of awards were won by foreigners, too.

Slow and dull, some Oscar telecast critics charge

February 26, 2007

The telecast of the 79th Annual Academy Awards didn’t win many fans among some TV reviewers. What did you think? Share your comments below.

“Producers” to close

February 23, 2007

producers.jpgThe producers of “The Producers” have decided to close up shop.

The show, which broke box-office records and won more Tony Awards than any other show in Broadway history, will close on April 22, three days after its sixth anniversary on the Great White Way.

“Legally Blonde” a hit in San Fran

February 22, 2007

“Legally Blonde: The Musical,” the stage version of the smash hit movies starring Reese Witherspoon playing a rich socialite with a smart brain to match her blonde hair, is heading to Broadway on a wave of rave reviews from its tryout in San Francisco.

Outside the Kodak

February 22, 2007

The red carpet truly is rolled out in Hollywood. Outside the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars will be handed out this coming Sunday, crew members and staff of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were busily setting up for the movie industry’s biggest night.

Oscar Watch – Live from the Red Carpet

February 21, 2007

PascalBob3.jpgFor several months Pascal Pinck, Reuters TV correspondent in Hollywood, and I, Bob Tourtellotte, Reuters show business reporter, have brought movie fans weekly comments on major films opening around the world. Now we’ll bring audiences all the stars parading up the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Feb. 25.
Expect to see the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Penelope Cruz, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett and a host of global movie stars as they stroll into Hollywood’s Kodak Theater on Oscar night. The stars will be dripping in diamonds and donning their best tuxedos, but as always Pascal and I will be taking audiences beyond all the glitz and glamour to discuss a broad range of topics.
Along with star interviews, we plan to provide expert commentary on the wide open races at this year’s and whether “Little Miss Sunshine” can beat back challenges in the best film race from “The Departed,” “Babel,” “The Queen” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.” Will Oscar voters award director Martin Scorsese with his first ever Academy Award for best director, or will they snub him again?
But there will be more than just nominee handicapping. Pascal and I will look at Hollywood’s star-making machinery as it seeks to get the stars all the news coverage it can. We will be sharing behind-the-scenes tales of moviemaking, and we will look at how much business all this Oscar spectacle truly drums up Hollywood’s major studios.
Stay tuned to for our live show beginning at 6:55 p.m. ET and running through 7:50 pm ET on Feb. 25.
Send us your questions and comments and we’ll do our best to get to the stars you want to see.

Let the parties begin

February 19, 2007

607.jpgHollywood is busily prepping for its biggest night of the year, the Oscars, on Sunday, Feb. 25. Over at the Kodak Theater in downtown Tinseltown, bleachers are now set up for thousands of fans who will turn out to see stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett and Penelope Cruz parade up the red carpet in their glitziest gowns and finest tuxedos.
    But before that BIG PARTY gets underway, many smaller ones have already started and it will continue through Sunday’s ceremony. At the Kodak, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, celebrated writers of past Oscar-winning movies and famous lines like “Here’s looking at you kid” from “Casablanca.”
    Dialogue like that and the famous “I wish I knew how to quit you,” from last year’s gay romance “Brokeback Mountain,” are featured prominently on the poster promoting this year’s telecast. Diana Ossana, who co-wrote “Brokeback” with Larry McMurtry, told Reuters “it’s a testament to the power of films and the power of words,” that movie dialogue can have a life longer than just one movie find a place in cultural history.
    The Academy also will fete the makers of short movies and foreign films and feature a “food and wine” preview ahead of it’s swanky Governor’s Ball on Oscar night.
    Corporations come to Hollywood and use the Oscars as a backdrop to promote products. Watchmaker Omega held a viewing of antique watches to be sold at an April auction in Geneva, Switzerland. On display were a range of time pieces including one worn by actor Daniel Craig in James Bond movie “Casino Royale” that still has mud on it. “Dirt, dust and DNA,” joked one Omega official.
    The estimated price on another watch is $100,000 to $150,000 — a cost only a Hollywood star, big-budget producer or fat cat Beverly Hills businessman can afford.
    The likes of Kwiat diamonds and L’Oreal cosmetics have set up suites to show off their wares. General Motors is hosting a party where singer Beck will perform and stars such as Teri Hatcher and Mary J. Blige are scheduled to attend.
    All is not corporate, however. Hollywood studios will host parties for Oscar nominees, big-time talent agents will do the same, and well-known stars will fete other well-known stars. Jamie Foxx is hosting a Beverly Hills bash for “Dreamgirls” co-star and Oscar nominee Jennifer Hudson.

Best film is wide open – will it lift viewship?

February 15, 2007

    The Hollywood pundits say the Oscar race for best film is wide open, but what does that mean for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which will give out the world’s most coveted movie awards on Sunday, Feb. 25. It’s an opening for one of the more exciting shows in recent years. For the movie industry, it means a more competitive environment, and that could translate into better movies to come, the experts say.
    Oscar viewership has dropped in recent years, except for a few spikes when box office blockbusters were also critical hits. Last year when little seen “Crash” won best picture, the audience size was about 38.8 million viewers, which was off by more than 3 million from the year before. When 2003’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” ($377 million U.S.) swept to victory in 11 categories, more than 43 million viewers tuned in.
    But a close Oscar race like this year’s means tension in the air on Hollywood’s biggest night and if there is anything movie lovers love, it’s tension. Moreover, Oscars are expected to be spread among a variety of films including “Dreamgirls,” “Little Miss Sunshine” (cast pictured right), “The Departed,” “The Last King of Scotland,” “The Queen” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.” That means fans of each of those movies will likely see their favorites claim some sort of victory, giving those fans reason to cheer.
    “There will be two or three surprises the entire night, and who knows what they’ll be,” said David Poland of
    That is true even in the acting categories where Helen Mirren in “The Queen” is the only true shoo-in.
    Best actor favorite Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” faces veteran Peter O’Toole (left), who has been nominated for best actor seven times, but only once in 2002 was given an “honorary award.” No actor has ever lost on all eight actor nominations, said Tom O’Neil of Will Smith is well-liked in Hollywood, and he starred in a box office blockbuster hit, “The Pursuit of Happyness” ($161 million U.S.). Don’t count out either O’Toole or Smith.
    Best supporting actor nominee Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls” goes against veteran Alan Arkin in well-liked “Miss Sunshine” and comeback kid Jackie Earle Haley in “Little Children.” Oscar likes veterans and comeback stories, so don’t count them out.
    “Dreamgirls'” Jennifer Hudson has as a rival the adorable 10-year-old Abigail Breslin for “Miss Sunshine,” and Oscars love adorable little girls. Some experts believe may be the big surprise may be Adriana Barraza for supporting actress in another well-liked movie “Babel.” Don’t count them out.
    Tight races and surprise winners are a good thing for the movie industry overall, too, said Oscar historian Robert Osborne, who has authored a series of dubbed “The Official History of the Academy Awards.”
    “I think it’s great in an Oscar year when you got really good movies…and they don’t make it for (nominations),” Osborne said. “When you got good movies that don’t make it, then when you win an Oscar, it really means something.”