Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

7 picks for 7 days

Here’s this week’s 7 picks for 7 days, a list of things to do Today (Jan. 17) through Thursday (Jan. 23). This week’s choices includes celebrated musical theater, high-flying actions sports, beer tasting and live music.

Observations of a grumpy old man

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth MacFarlane, Daniel RadcliffeE! News is reporting Seth MacFarlane and his girlfriend actress, Emilia Clarke, have parted ways. I guess she just got around to watching the Oscars telecast.

Lindsay Lohan was in court on Monday. You know what they call that in Los Angeles? A typical Monday.

Disney products Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens star in “Spring Breakers,” a movie full of sex, drugs and nudity. It seems both have enrolled in the Miley Cyrus School for Image Change.

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Observations from a grumpy old man

85th annual Academy AwardsSeth MacFarlane is getting beat up for his hosting duties at this year’s Oscars. That makes sense. All he did was help the normally dull telecast to its largest ratings in years. How dare he get more people to watch the show.

The NY Times is reporting that a new survey shows women are fatter because they are doing less housework than their parents. Anyone else suspicious of a survey paid for by Coca-Cola that suggests something other than diet being the cause of people being overweight?

Dennis Tito wants to will fund a space mission that would slingshot a husband-and-wife around Mars. He says the trip will take 16 months. It will really only take a week but it will feel like 16 months.

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The Beehive Asks: How many best picture nominees have you seen?


In my years as full-time movie critic for The Bee, I lived and breathed Oscars. (I even got to cover the ceremony with press credentials the year “Titanic” swept. That was a long time ago.) Back then, of course, I would see all five best picture nominees each year, and most of the time I would see every film featuring a best/supporting actor/actress nominee.

But now I’m off that beat, and a part of me still thinks it’s ludicrous that there are up to 10 best picture nominees now.  Ten! That’s way too many. This year’s total is actually nine. They are: “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

I’ve seen “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” So it turns out I saw five after all. (I guess I’m a traditionalist.) I don’t want to be boring, but I’m rooting for “Lincoln.”

The question is: How many best picture nominees have you seen? Has anyone out there actually seen all nine?

Oscar predictions you won’t see elsewhere

SETH MACFARLANEThere are always a lot of predictions floating around at Oscar time. Everyone always thinks they have some super insight that will allow they to clearly see which films will be honored and which will be ignored.

Those kind of predictions are too common. The following are predictions that you won’t see anywhere else when the awards are handed out Sunday night.

I predict ….

… Quvenzhané Wallis will have her named pronounced at least three different ways including Quiznos.

… Seth MacFarlane will say — or do — something so outlandish it will overshadow the rest of his hosting work. It will probably have something to do with a pound of butter, three roses and a young German woman named Helga.

… the tribute to Bond will overlook the suggestive names given to Bond women. Rumors are the name of the main female Bond character in the next 007 movie will be Ima Estelle Zera. Ima E.Z. will be played by Kim Kardashian.

… there will be more Oscar winners who thank their agents than thank God.

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Enter the Red Carpet Movie Awards contest

Oscar Nominees Luncheon Inside

If you’re like me, you love the Academy Awards. Every year, I try to see all the Best Picture nominees, though I usually end up a couple shy. And every year, I scour a bunch of entertainment sites (even though I read all about the movies for this job) and then apply my knowledge to a pick-the-winners contest with a bunch of my movie-buff friends. I love it!

This year, there’s another option besides picking against your friends. You can enter the Fresno Bee’s Red Carpet Movie Awards contest and play to win a bunch of movie passes. You have until the afternoon of Feb. 24.

Make your picks here.

Good luck.

Nominees express delight with Oscar nods

Here are a few reactions to today’s Oscar nominations.

Tim Burton – “Frankenweenie”
“Frankenweenie is a very personal film for me. The idea of telling a feature length version was in the back of my mind for many years. Stop Motion was the perfect medium for this project, and one I’ve always loved for its expressiveness and dimensionality. I’ve worked with so many incredible artists: animators, cast members, set builders, and puppet makers, all who have helped bring this film to life one frame at a time. I’m so honored that the Academy has recognized this film as one of its nominees.”

Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy – “Lincoln”
“We are absolutely thrilled and astonished with the 12 nominations. It is such a tribute to the work of those who joined us in this 12-year journey to bring LINCOLN to the screen. We humbly thank the Academy members who honored so many of us.”

Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Lining Playbook”
“I’m so honored and grateful for this nomination and to be in the company of such talented actresses. Having the fortunate opportunity to work with David O. Russell was an extraordinary gift and I am so thrilled for my fellow cast members Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver who are all nothing short of amazing. This was a labor of love. ”

Amy Adams – “The Master”
“It is such an honor to receive this recognition from the Academy. Working with Paul Thomas Anderson was a unique and wonderful opportunity that I am so grateful for. I’d also like to send congratulations to the other nominees and to my co-stars Philip and Joaquin.”

Sally Field – “Lincoln”
“I’m spinning and beyond thrilled on so many levels. To be included in this amazing group of extraordinary craftsman and exquisite talents has been an honor in itself. But now for us all to receive so much recognition from the Academy I’m deeply appreciative and overwhelmed, and basically, I still can’t believe I got the role.”

Here are my 2013 Oscar odds

There were a few surprises among the nominations announced for the 2013 Academy Awards. You can argue all you want but the list has been set.

Here are my early predictions of the odds of who will win.

Best Picture
“Les Miserables” 2-1
“Lincoln” 3-1
“Zero Dark Thirty” 5-1
“Amour” 6-1
“Silver Linings Playbook” 8-1
“Argo” 10-1
“Life of Pi” 12-1
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” 12 -1
“Django Unchained” 20-1

Best Actor
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables” 2-1
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln” 3-1
Denzel Washington, “Flight” 8-1
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook” 20-1
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master” 30-1

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Here are my picks for this year’s Oscar nominations

Seth MacFarlane, host of this year’s Oscar telecast, and Emma Stone will announce the nominees for the “85th annual Academy Awards” early Thursday morning. The Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 24.

Who will get nominated is always a source of many discussions. The one thing you can count on is that there will be some names of movies and actors on the list you didn’t expect.

Here’s my predictions for this year’s nominees. There could be as few as five nominees for Best Picture and as many as 10. I picked 10 just in case. Feel free to argue and discuss.

Best Picture
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“The Impossible”
“Les Miserables”
“Life of Pi”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Lining Playbook’
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Best actor
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Tom Hanks, “Cloud Atlas”
John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserable”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Best actress
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Lining Playbook”
Emanuelle Riva, “Amour”
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible’
NOTE: Zoe Kazan should be on the list for her marvelous work in “Ruby Sparks” but will be overlooked.

Supporting actor
Alan Arkin, “Argo”
Javier Bardem, “Skyfall”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Supporting actress
Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Maggie Smith, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Marisa Tomei plays the age game

Timing is very important in Hollywood.

Back in the early ‘90s, Billy Crystal was trying to find the right actress to play his wife in the film “Mr. Saturday Night.” The search was taking some time because he not only needed a good actress to play the role but also someone who would look believable both as young and old because the story covered so many years.

One of the actresses who showed up to audition was a then 26-year-old Marisa Tomei.

“I could tell right away that she had the acting skills to do the role but I was just afraid that she was too young for the part,” Billy Crystal tells me during an interview to talk about his upcoming Christmas Day release “Parental Guidance.” “We didn’t cast her. Of course, she goes on to win the Oscar the next year.”

Tomei took home the Best Supporting Actress statue for her work in “My Cousin Vinny.”

Fast forward to last year as Crystal was trying to find the right actress to play his daughter in “Parental Guidance.” A then 47-year-old Tomei shows up for the audition.

“I walked in and asked Billy, ‘Am I told old for the role now?’,” Tomei says. Crystal’s 64 so it would mean if you only go by age, he would have had to be a teen-age father. But, there’s no way Tomei looks like she’s even in her 40s so that really wasn’t a factor and she was cast in the part. It’s a perfect selection because Tomei really looks like she would be the kind of offspring that would happen between a union of Crystal and Bette Midler, who plays his wife in the movie.

Who would be a real ‘Wonder’ woman?

Observations from a grumpy old man.

  • Dolly Parton will no longer be associated with the previously planned water park to be built in Nashville. She couldn’t get the builders to agree that it only would be open from 9 to 5. And you thought I was going to make a very different joke.
  •  There’s another attempt being made to launch a TV show based on female super hero Wonder Woman. My suggestions for casting are the Octomom, Kim Kardashian or Snooki. I often wonder how these women are famous.
  •  Seth MacFarlane will host the Oscars ceremonies. That’s the only way we would have ever heard the line “And now coming to the Academy Awards stage, Seth MacFarlane.”
  • NBC has ordered a full season of “The New Normal” despite only drawing an average of six million viewers. Oh wait. That’s the new normal when it comes to ratings for network programs.
  •  There are rumors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are getting back together. I wonder how log those crazy kids can stay together this time. Put your money on Nov. 17, the day after “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” opens.

Entertainment this weekend

Megamind.JPG In case it snows this weekend, here are few things to do while staying warm

“The 83rd Annual Academy Awards,” 5:30 p.m. Sunday, KFSN (Channel 30.1): The combination of hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway with awards that already seem to be a lock don’t make this look like it will be one of the better Oscar ceremonies. But, even a weak Academy Awards show is worth a look for the glitz and glamour.

“Drive Angry 3D”: The movie is crude, rude and is bloodier than a meat packing company. But if you like fast driving, guns blazing and big explosions, then this is the film to see. The 3D is good enough that it’s worth the extra bucks.

“Megamind”: A super villain discovers the worst thing he can do is defeat his chief nemesis. Director Tom McGrath offers a clever take on the Superman-Lex Luthor story line that has been copied and parodied in loads of TV and film projects. His film looks at what would happen if Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane, had more in common with his arch nemesis.

And the Oscar goes to …

KS_04494.JPG Now that the nominations have been announced for the “83rd Academy Awards,” the nominees will have to wait more than a month to see who wins the Oscar. There are some clues. The 12 nominations for “The King’s Speech” is a sign of how the Oscar votes will be cast.

Here are my predictions of how the voting will go.

Best motion picture of the year: A month ago, “The Social Network” looked strong but “The King’s Speech” has picked up momentum at the right time.

Performance by an actor in a leading role: Colin Firth will win as part of a big night for “The King’s Speech.” His biggest competition will be Jeff Bridges for his growling work in “True Grit.”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role: A win by Christian Bale in “The Fighter” is one of the safest bets. But, Geoffrey Rush’s work in “The King’s Speech” is worthy of an Oscar.

Performance by an actress in a leading role: Natalie Portman will dance all the way to the stage for her work in “Black Swan.”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role: This is the toughest of all the acting categories. Melissa Leo is the leading contender for “The Fighter” but it’s a strong field.

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Natalie Portman at a loss for words

Golden Globe Awards - Show(2).JPG Actors tend to have a problem talking about award nomination. They want to appear humble to show just how honored they are to be put in the running. At the same time, they want to show enough excitement to get across how they haven’t become blasé about such attention.

Natalie Portman struggles to find the right words to discuss all of the attention she’s been getting for “Black Swan.” Her work as the tormented ballerina already has won her a Golden Globe and should earn her the biggest nomination an actor can get – an Oscar nod.

I think its obviously a big honor,” says Portman, who can be seen in the romantic comedy “No Strings Attached” starting Friday. “The company in which it puts you to even be mentioned among these women is a huge, huge honor. It’s extremely flattering and meaningful to be among these people I respect an admire.”

It looks like a lock but Portman will know for sure early Tuesday morning if she’s picked up her second Oscar nomination.

Oscar fashion: You rate the look

My favorite part of Oscar night is the dresses. There were definitely some bold statement at last night’s Academy Awards, such as the puffy purple frock on Zoe Saldana, the yellowish jeweled dress on Sarah Jessica Parker and the lavender cups on Charlize Theron. What was with all the purple? I noticed a lot of fuchsia, skin-toned and metallics too. I thought Rachel McAdams print was fabulous. And Sandra Bullock was a knock out. What do you think — you rate the look.

Rachel McAdams:


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“Hurt Locker” best picture of the year

Oscar_Hurt_Locker_Violation.JPG “The 82nd Annual Academy Awards” will be handed out Sunday night and all of the speculation as to the winners will finally end. As a countdown to the big night, I am taking a look at the six top categories and offering my opinion as to who will win. The great thing about the Oscars is everyone has an opinion. Please feel free to share yours as the week goes along.

Today: Best picture/director

“Avatar” is visually stunning but the story falls flat. Director James Cameron will just have to be happy with the movie being the biggest box office hit of all time.

The sentimental favorite “The Blind Side” won’t sneak up and knock off the winner.

Cameron should take a look at “District 9″ because the film blends great special effects with a compelling story. It’s a great film but science fiction never does well in this category.

“An Education” is one of the films that would have not even been in the running had the list been limited to five. It is one of the 10 best of the year but not strong enough to win.

I still can’t figure out how “Inglourious Basterds” made the nomination list so obviously I’m not picking it to win. There are some great moments but director Quentin Tarantino needs to learn how to edit down his movies.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” is a powerful production that is among the year’s best but not THE best.

“A Serious Man” is great work by Joel and Ethan Coen but just barely falls short of being a serious contender.

The moving and magical “Up” will win in the animation category but has no chance of being named best picture.

“Up in the Air” is tightly written and well acted. In any other year it could win but there are at least two movies on this list that were far better.

The big winner on the night will be “The Hurt Locker” and Kathryn Bigelow will take home the Oscar as top director. This is a brilliant example of filmmaking.

Hollywood favorite should get Oscar

THE_BLIND_SIDE.JPG “The 82nd Annual Academy Awards” will be handed out Sunday night and all of the speculation as to the winners will finally end. As a countdown to the big night, I am taking a look at the six top categories and offering my opinion as to who will win. The great thing about the Oscars is everyone has an opinion. Please feel free to share yours as the week goes along.

Today: Best actress.

It’s often suggested that just to be nominated for an Oscar is enough. In the case of Gabourey Sidibe that’s certainly the case. Her performance in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” is good but doesn’t have the range to earn her a win.

Carey Mulligan’s work in “An Education” shows she will be a force for many years. It’s a shame her performance as an English schoolgirl seduced by an older man won’t get her an Oscar. Her time will come.

Helen Mirren is one of the few actors working that can be counted on to turn in spectacular work. She’s good enough as the wife of Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station” to win. If there is a surprise at this year’s Oscars, it will probably be Mirren picking up this award.

Poor Meryl Streep. She keeps doing flawless work as in “Julie & Julia” where she portrays cookbook author Julia Child. But every year she gets nominated there’s someone else who has just a slight edge. Streep deserves the Oscar – which would be her first since 1983 – but it probably won’t happen.

Although her performance was not spectacular, look for Sandra Bullock to win the Oscar for “The Bind Side.” Bullock is a Hollywood favorite and this is the best opportunity the community has had to give her the award – and they will. One thing is certain, there will be no one more honestly excited about winning than Bullock.

Tomorrow: Best picture and director.
Previously: Supporting Actress | Supporting Actor | Best Actor

Best actor Oscar tough battle

Oscars.JPG “The 82nd Annual Academy Awards” will be handed out Sunday night and all of the speculation as to the winners will finally end. As a countdown to the big night, I am taking a look at the six top categories and offering my opinion as to who will win. The great thing about the Oscars is everyone has an opinion. Please feel free to share yours as the week goes along.

Today: Best actor.

George Clooney’s performance as Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air” is so full of pathos and spirit it’s near perfection. It’s just a shame that being only near perfect is not good enough this year.

Any other year, Colin Firth‘s work in “A Single Man” would have made him the favorite. This is the kind of work all young actors should study. Firth finds that delicate line between strength and weakness that makes the character memorable.

It’s hard to imagine anyone could do a better job than Morgan Freeman portraying Nelson Mandela. The actors work in “Invictus” is remarkable and just another reminder this is one of the best groups of Oscar nominees in this category in recent years.

Moviegoers have not been excited about war movies over the past few years but Jeremy Renner, who plays Staff Sergeant William James in “Hurt Locker,” put a very human face on the war. Renner’s work is pure dynamite.

This is a strong category but there’s little doubt that it will be Jeff Bridges who will go home with the Oscar for his amazing performance in “Crazy Heart.” The reasons he should win are numerous. First, he’s long overdue with five nominations and no wins. Second, he’s well liked in Hollywood. Finally, he’s deserving of the honor.

Tomorrow: Best actress.
Previously: Supporting Actress | Supporting Actor

Oscar predictions start with supporting actor

Invictus.JPG “The 82nd Annual Academy Awards” will be handed out Sunday night and all of the speculation as to the winners will finally end. As a countdown to the big night, I’ll take a look at the six top categories and offer my opinion as to who will win. The great thing about the Oscars is everyone has an opinion. Please feel free to share yours as the week goes along.

Today: Best supporting actor.

Matt Damon’s rough-and-tough work in “Invictus,” as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby team that became a unifying force, was good, but he’s the one nominee on the list who should have been left off. Damon’s done better.

Woody Harrelson deserves this nomination because of the wide range of roles he played this year. He was in his comfort zone for the very funny “Zombieland.” This role as Captain Tony Stone, a military officer who must deliver news of a soldier’s death, in “The Messenger” shows Harrelson can play someone other than a burned out nut case. Good work but not good enough to win the Oscar.

This is the first Oscar nomination for 81-year-old Christopher Plummer. His performance as Tolstoy in “The Last Station” is worthy of the award – plus he will get points for his long career. If there is a dark horse in this race, it’s Plummer. It’s just sad there’s a real thoroughbred in this race.

Stanley Tucci’s performance as the serial killer in “The Lovely Bones,” combined with his memorable work in “Julie & Julia” show his range. Too bad range only gets you so far.

The lock for the award is Christoph Waltz for his flawless performance in “Inglourious Basterds.” If you have any doubts, watch the first 15 minutes of the movie as he brings Nazi officer Col. Hans Landa to life. This is the kind of performance for which Oscar was created.

Tomorrow: Best supporting actress.

Academy makes big change in Oscar nominations


There will be a major change in the nominations for “The 82nd Academy Awards.” The number of movies in the running for Best Picture will increase from five to 10. The announcement of the change was made this morning by Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis.

The Academy has had five nominees since 1944. Before that, there were various numbers of nominees. For nine years, until the 16th awards, there were 10 nominees in the category. In 1931 and 1932 there were eight nominees. In 1934 and 1935 there were 12 nominees.

The plus of this change is that movies like “The Dark Knight,” a film that deserved a Best Picture nomination last year, won’t be left on the sidelines.

The negative is that five nominations created a very select group. The change looks like an effort by the Academy to generate some more interest in the show. In the end, there will still be only one winner. If this work maybe they will keep expanding until junk like “Pink Panther 2″ gets consideration.

How this change plays out will be seen when “The 82nd Academy Awards”
are handed out March 7. Nominations will be announced Feb. 2.

Oscar fashion … some people you didn’t see

So most everyone has probably already decided their hits & misses from the Oscar red carpet. Kate and Anne smashing. Miley and Sarah Jessica poofy. Natalie and Frida bold.

So, let’s move on to the Vanity Fair after party. Go ahead, tell us who looked good and who should have stayed at home:

Kate Beckinsale:


I thought Kate looked great, but she usually does. Really, anyone who can wear those skin-tight outfits in the “Underworld” can pull off just about any dress.

But what about these:

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