Thomas Conner: January 2009 Archives

Oscar ballots are in the mail

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The ballots are in the mail for the 5,810 members of Hollywood's elite who get to vote on the Academy Awards.

Today's final ballots include nominees in 19 categories, among them best picture, director and the four acting prizes.

U2, Rihanna and more added to Grammys

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U2, Kid Rock, Rihanna, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss have joined the performance lineup for the 51st Grammy Awards, to be held Feb. 8 at Los Angeles' Staples Center and broadcast live on CBS.

31 Days of Oscar

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Turner Classic Movies' annual "31 Days of Oscar" slate of acclaimed films begins Sunday morning with one of our favorites, Peter O'Toole playing a hilarious drunk in "My Favorite Year." Clear that DVR -- this year's schedule groups the movies in themed blocks, such as Architecture of Ancient Rome (Feb. 3, including "Julius Caesar," "Bn-Hur" and "A Funny Thing Happened ..."), Ornithology (Feb. 11, including "The Pigeon That Took Rome" and "The Birds"), an Speech and Language Development (Feb. 19, including "Pygmalion," "My Fair Lady" and "Singin' in the Rain"). Here's the schedule as a Flash page online or a PDF download.

Are '30 Rock's' awards keeping its audience away?

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One of our favorite bloggers, Edward Copeland, has this to say about the SAG Awards last night:

These opening "I'm an actor" bits are getting really old. Thank God for Will Arnett and Steve Carell...Was there an overriding theme to that Trailblazers montage? Someone explain to me the connection between topical TV episodes of "Maude" and "All in the Family" and films such as "Milk" and "Boys Don't Cry" and sci-fi and horror films such as "Planet of the Apes" and "Frankenstein" ... Every time "30 Rock" cleans up at an awards show, it makes me feel more strongly like never watching it ... Damn, I was hoping Alan Rosenberg would resign for his mismanagement of the union ... Do all award voters fear Kiefer Sutherland will waterboard them if they don't keep nominating him for "24"? ... I didn't realize Robert Doqui had died. The living members of the "Nashville" ensemble grows smaller and smaller ... If "Slumdog" even wins ensemble, you know it's a lock for best picture.

Backstage and on the carpet at the SAGs

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A look at what the stars said backstage and on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards:

Streep, Penn take top acting awards at SAGs

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Actress Meryl Streep accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for "Doubt" on Sunday at the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Meryl Streep of the Roman Catholic drama "Doubt" and Sean Penn of the Harvey Milk film biography "Milk" won lead-acting honors Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The prize for overall cast went to the rags-to-riches saga "Slumdog Millionaire," while Heath Ledger of the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight" and Kate Winslet of the Holocaust-themed drama "The Reader" took supporting honors.

Jennifer Hudson tops Chicago Music Awards

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The Chicago Music Awards finally posted the winners from this year's ceremony, held Jan. 18. If you have as much difficulty reading the site as we do (someone please get this organization a decent graphic designer), the top nods are:

Pop Entertainer of the Year: Jennifer Hudson
R&B Entertainer of the Year: Kwiet Storm
Best New Entertainer: Divine Inspiration
Best Female Vocalist: Syleena Johnson
Best Male Vocalist: Ben One

Oscars by the numbers

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The Oscars from zero to hero:

0 -- Number of times an animated film has won the best picture. With no "WALL-E" nomination today, that figure will stand.

0 -- Number of times a superhero movie has been nominated for the best picture. Ditto this year -- no "Dark Knight" nod.

$0 -- What seat fillers get paid to occupy empty seats during the awards show.

How to win your Oscar pool

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Here's good advice, including this bit of wisdom I think we're all in agreement with this year:

"1. There are no coincidences. The Dark Knight didn't make best picture. Do the math. Bigger isn't better this year. Go for less that's more, like, say Slumdog Millionaire."

As well as this reminder:

"8. Always vote against Meryl Streep. She hasn't won for a long time."


"Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle is understandably thrilled this morning. "I'm ecstatic!" he says. "Thank you to the Academy from the cast and crew here in Mumbai where the film was made and where it's being premiered tonight. It feels like you've given us a billion nominations!"

Here are some other reactions from the nominated ...

The best picture nominees

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Need to catch up on your movie watching now that the Oscars have made their picks? Here are trailers for the films nominated for best picture ...

Global perspectives on Oscar nods

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The headlines for today's Oscar nominations depends on who your readers are.

In India, of course, they're all cheering for "Slumdog Millionaire," the film that swept the Golden Globes and "brought recognition to India." At least movie fans there will get to see the film before Oscar time -- it finally opens in India tomorrow!

Down Under, the papers are shouting: "Heath Ledger nominated for Academy Award"

In the UK, the headlines focus on their revered Kate Winslet -- with the Telegraph pointing out that this nod brings both excitement and anxiety: "Pleasure because her turn as Hanna Schmidt has been one of the acting highlights of the last year. Anxiety because this is not the first time she has been nominated. She was up for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in 'Sense and Sensibility' (1995) and 'Iris' (2001), and for Best Actress in 'Titanic' (1997), 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (2004) and 'Little Children' (2006). On each occasion she was overlooked."

Rolling Stone's vantage point is: "Oscars snub Springsteen" -- and they have a point: "Bruce Springsteen's 'The Wrestler' didn't even get a nod despite winning the Golden Globe, as the Best Original Song category only includes three nominees: Peter Gabriel's 'Down to Earth' from WALL-E and a pair of Slumdog Millionaire songs: M.I.A. and A.R. Rahman's 'O... Saya' and Rahman's 'Jai Ho.' It's surprising that the Academy only went with three songs, also ignoring Clint Eastwood's 'Gran Torino.' "

The best pic box office numbers

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Nominees for best picture don't always make the most dough at the box office -- certainly not this year with the "Dark Knight" snub.

Here are the figures for North American box-office performance as of Monday for the new Oscar best-picture nominees, compiled by AP:

-- "Frost/Nixon," Universal, five nominations, $8.8 million, released Dec. 5.
-- "Milk," Focus, eight nominations, $20.5 million, released Nov. 26.
-- "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Paramount, 13 nominations, $103.6 million, released Dec. 25.
-- "The Reader," Weinstein Co., five nominations, $7.8 million, released Dec. 10.
-- "Slumdog Millionaire," Fox Searchlight, 10 nominations, $43.9 million, released Nov. 12.

And the nominees are ...

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Here's the list of nominations for the 81st annual Oscars, announced this morning ...

Nominees coming in

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"The Curious case of Benjamin Button" leads the nominations with 13. "Slumdog Millionaire" gets 10. "The Dark Knight" has eight -- but none for directing or best picture.

The best picture nods are: "Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

"Slumdog Millionaire" also was shut out of the acting categories.

Heath Ledger picked up his expected supporting actor nom for playing the Joker in "The Dark Knight."

Kate Winslet is nominated for best actress, but not for "Revolutionary Road" -- for "The Reader" instead!

In fact, "Revolutionary Road" didn't get a single nomination!

Is it going to be a 'Dark Knight' morning?

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Oscar nominations expected any minute now. Updates and full lists coming here and to Roger Ebert's site soon! We'll be Twittering them, too.

In the meantime, everyone's wondering if "The Dark Knight" will make a showing beyond Heath Ledger's supporting actor bid, or whether Oscar voters will turn their nose up at the commercial superhero hit -- and thereby cement their alienation from mainstream America. Here's a good analysis of this conundrum.

The SAG Awards are this weekend -- 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT and TBS. -- and they're usually worth watching because of their Globes-like party atmosphere and mixture of TV and film honors. But this year's show could be really interesting, given the feuds still brewing within the actors' union over a prospective strike.

Will some actors use the acceptance speech to blast their fellow celebs? Will we have on-air cat fights? Oh ... please, can we have some on-air cat fights ... ?

Razzies feel the love for Mike Myers' '08 bomb

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Film Razzies.jpg

Voters for 2008's worst movies love Mike Myers. They really love him.

Myers' comedy flop "The Love Guru" led the field Wednesday for the Razzies with seven nominations, among them worst picture and worst-acting slots for Myers, Jessica Alba, Verne Troyer and Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley.

The number of nominations for "Love Guru" was appropriate given what a personal project it was for Myers, who not only starred but also co-wrote and produced the movie, said John Wilson, founder of the Razzies, an Oscar spoof that dishes out "dis-honors" for the lousiest stuff Hollywood dredged up the previous year.

What are your Oscar show pet peeves?

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Fandango, the online movie ticket broker (because why not pay a little extra for movie tickets?!), launched its own awards-show site today -- with the results of a curious lil' poll. For a few weeks they asked their readers what their biggest Oscars pet peeves were. More than 7,00 people responded with these results ...

Golden Globes winslet.jpg
Kate Winslet after the Golden Globes, clutching both her acting awards. Should one of them really be for supporting actress? (AP file)

Thank you, Robert Osborne, for bringing to light what's been nagging at us about Kate Winslet's thrilling but shocking double-win at Sunday's Golden Globes. The nut of the nag: How could she possibly be called a supporting actress for "The Reader"?

Underdog-turned-favorite "Slumdog Millionaire" picked up 11 nominations today for the British Academy film awards, Britain's version of the Oscars.

And the Oscars presenters are ... a secret

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Guess who's coming to the Oscars this year?

Leslie Unger, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, says none of the superstar presenters will be announced before the Feb. 22 telecast.

First performers announced for Grammys

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Lil Wayne, the Jonas Brothers, Coldplay, Kenny Chesney and Katy Perry are the first performers announced for the 51st annual Grammy Awards, to be held Feb. 8 at Los Angeles' Staples Center and broadcast on CBS.

Oscar's foreign language picks narrow

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The top Cannes Film Festival prize winner and a key Golden Globe honoree are among contenders for the foreign-language prize at the Academy Awards.

French director Laurent Cantet's "The Class" and Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman's "Waltz With Bashir" are on the academy's short list of nine films that have advanced from a field of 65 eligible titles.

Alec Baldwin's new job as E!, CBS commentator

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How'd we miss this last night? Here's a delightfully off-the-rails exchange between Ryan Seacrest and the star that hijacks his pre-Globes red-carpet "interviewing," Alec Baldwin ...

Tina Fey smacks down the haters!

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So ... was Tina Fey joking or not? In her acceptance speech for best actress in a TV comedy, she called out Internet blog posters by name, telling them -- who had allegedly bashed her in comments on sites such as The Envelope -- to "suck it."

Here's what she said from the stage:

"I want to say thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press. I'll always love the Hollywood Foreign Press and have all the Hollywood Foreign Press action figures. Thank you, Will Arnett, for that joke. But I want you to really know how lucky I am to have the year I've had this year and, if you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the Internet! You can find a lot of people there who don't like you! I'd like to address some of them now! BabsonLacrosse, you can suck it. DianeFan, you can suck it. Cougar Letter, you can really suck it 'cause you've been after me all year. And to my husband, Jeff, I love you. Thank you very much! "

Was that a gag, or does she really read these blogs and take it personally?

Apparently she does read them, because when asked backstage in the press room after that speech, she recited exactly what some of those online posters has written about her ...

Drew Barrymore (center) mingles with "The Office" actors B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling on Sunday night at the HBO Golden Globes after-party in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Dan Steinberg/AP)

Two years ago, several Golden Globe Awards after-parties raged at once at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with movie and television stars co-mingling, braving the chilly night air and sometimes waiting in line for hours to get into lavishly decorated bashes.

On Sunday night, a year after the writers' strike shut down the awards show ceremony and its onsite parties, the weather was much warmer and alcohol flowed again throughout a spate of shindigs at the hotel, though fewer than before and not quite so extravagant.
Still, the current economic recession didn't stop post-Globe revelers from indulging in booze, food and the sheer will to make merry.

Clutching a tumbler of whiskey, his hair askew, "Mad Men" actor and nominee Jon Hamm grinned next to his wife, surrounded by cast members at an intimate, exclusive bash for the AMC '60s-themed show, which won a best TV drama trophy for the second year in a row. Retro tunes blasted overhead as guests ate mashed potatoes served in martini glasses. Decorations were minimal.

"To win again is great. We're going to light the lamp. We're going to party until late," said Hamm, a little unsteady on his feet.

When the Golden Globes stop turning

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That's it for tonight, folks. But if you're just now catching up with tonight's Golden Globes action, here's what we've got online in addition to the reports below:

Bill Zwecker's report on the show.

A full account of the night's winners, and a complete list of them.

The running report -- and a little kvetching -- on our Twitter feed.

Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper was at the big event, too -- and he dropped a few tweets on his own Twitter feed.

And, of course, all the red carpet fashion you can cluck your tongue at.

Line! The quotes from the Globes

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"It's been a very long road back for me," said Mickey Rourke as he won a dramatic actor Globe tonight for his role in the film "The Wrestler."

Sometimes the story is best summed up in the quotes from the show. Here are more actors in their own words at tonight's Globes ...

Steven Spielberg (left), winner of the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement award, and Martin Scorsese pose backstage Sunday at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Movie audiences have two train wrecks to thank for the epic visions of Steven Spielberg -- a big one, and a little one.

Whether it's killer sharks, man-eating dinosaurs, or the horrors of Omaha Beach on D-Day, Spielberg said Sunday night it was all in some way inspired by a train wreck filmed by director Cecil B. DeMille for his movie, "The Greatest Show on Earth."

Spielberg accepted a lifetime achievement accolade that bears DeMille's name during the Golden Globes. His acceptance speech traced his own history in Hollywood, as many of those who he had directed helped heap on the thunderous applause.

Golden Globes: The '09 winners

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Here's the complete list of Golden Globes winners tonight ...

Stars still choke up about loss of Ledger

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Recalling co-star Heath Ledger's tragic death still chokes up Maggie Gyllenhaal, even during the excitement of the Golden Globes.

"It's so hard to really feel how sad it is with the lights and the television and everybody screaming, but you know it's also very sad," Gyllenhaal, her voice choking, said on the red carpet before tonight's Globes.


Maybe ...

Jeremy Piven's quick save on the red carpet

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Jeremy Piven's here tonight! The Chicago-area actor last month left his hit Broadway show, the Mamet revival of "Speed-the-Plow," claiming health problems -- mercury poisoning, as it were.

On the red carpet tonight, he spoke briefly about the ungraceful exit ...

Golden Globes: Reports from the tables

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Mingling, meandering, drinking and no seat-fillers: The Golden Globes are different from the Academy Awards in that the atmosphere inside is more dinner party than awards show.

AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen has a seat at a table this year. Here are just a few things that she's seeing from the rear of the Beverly Hilton ballroom, stage left -- and everywhere she roams ...

Live Golden Globes feed tonight on Twitter

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Follow us throughout the show tonight on Twitter!

Join the conversation and tell us what you think of the celebrity mayhem.

Marisa Tomei at the tea party for the British Oscars on Saturday. (AP)

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Los Angeles held its annual awards-season kickoff tea party on Saturday, attracting a slew of Golden Globe nominees.

Here's what some had to say about preparing for Sunday's big Globes show ...

Golden Globes poster 2009

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Nice graphic design on this year's poster ...


Musical presenters added to Globes

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Musicians are getting in on the Golden Globes fun. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association says Sting and Sean "Diddy" Combs will be among the presenters at Sunday's ceremony at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Other presenters announced today: Johnny Depp, David Duchovny, Eva Longoria Parker, Megan Fox and Mark Wahlberg.

Directors nominate Nolan for 'Knight'

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"The Dark Knight" has landed a Directors Guild of America nomination for filmmaker Christopher Nolan.

The guild's best-director nominees today also included Danny Boyle for the rags-to-riches tale "Slumdog Millionaire," David Fincher for the romantic fantasy "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Ron Howard for the Richard Nixon saga "Frost/Nixon" and Gus Van Sant for the Harvey Milk film biography "Milk."

People's Choice pictures

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"The Dark Knight" shone brightly at last night's People's Choice Awards. Here's the scoop.

Now, here are the photos ...

CORRECTION Peoples Choice A.jpg
Kid Rock, ahem, kisses Ellen DeGeneres as he presents her with the favorite talk show host award Wednesday night at the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles. (Photos by Matt Sayles/AP)

More after the jump ...

'Dark Knight' bags WGA screenplay nomination

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Add writing to Batman's bag of tricks. "The Dark Knight" earned a nomination today for best adapted screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.

Director Christopher Nolan and brother Jonathan Nolan co-wrote the screenplay for the Batman blockbuster, which is based on the DC Comics franchise.

Chicago actress Keke Palmer poses during a news conference today announcing the nominees for 40th annual NAACP Image Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Nick Ut/AP)

Beyonce Knowles, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson are all multitasking for the NAACP Image Awards, earning nominations today in both music and film categories.

Knowles, Keys and Hudson are competing against one another for outstanding female music artist and for best music video.

'Dark Knight' fighting for cinematography award

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Batman is angling for top honors from the American Society of Cinematographers.

Wally Pfister, cinematographer on the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," is among contenders for the society's prize at its Feb. 15 awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Queen Latifah, host of the People's Choice Awards, is bringing new meaning to popular choice. She's giving fans the chance to write and pick a song for her next album.

The contest, launching on tonight's People's Choice ceremony on CBS, invites aspiring singer-songwriters to submit an original tune for Latifah's "Persona" album, due out this spring.

Actress Anne Hathaway poses on the red carpet Tuesday night at the 20th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/AP)

The world economy is in dire straits, but you sure wouldn't know it from the red carpet at the 20th-annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala. The actresses were dripping with jewels, actors donned high fashion, and logos of jeweler Cartier and automaker Mercedes-Benz loomed large behind all as they posed for photographers.

"I'm just doing what I know how to do, and that's make movies and hopefully get people to go see them so I can continue to make more movies," said actor Leonardo DiCaprio, when asked if he felt uncomfortable in this setting, given widespread financial woes.

Animated films compete for British Oscars

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LONDON -- Animated films set in Israel and Iran are among five competitors for best foreign-language film at the British Academy Film Awards.

"Waltz With Bashir" and "Persepolis" were announced today as nominees. The British awards, known as BAFTA, are considered an indicator of success at the Academy Awards.

Yegods, they're doing the My Grammy Moment gimmick again at this year's show.

Remember these? Two years ago it was win a chance to sing on stage with Justin Timberlake, and last year it was win a chance to perform in the orchestra (rolling eyes here) with Foo Fighters. This year's hapless music celebrity who must share a stage with an "Idol" wannabe is ....

'WALL-E' wizard getting honorary Oscar

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One of the digital wizards behind such cartoon smashes as "WALL-E," "Ratatouille" and "Finding Nemo" is getting an Academy Award.

Pixar Animation co-founder Ed Catmull is receiving the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, an honorary Oscar statuette, for lifetime achievement in computer graphics for filmmaking.

Heroes battle for visual effects Oscar

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Superheroes Batman, Iron Man and Hellboy are mixing it up with Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman and an ancient mummy for the visual-effects Academy Award.

The Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight" is one of seven films competing for the Oscar, along with fellow comic-book adaptations "Iron Man" and "Hellboy II: The Golden Army."

Golden Globes? Boooooooo!

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Grumpy Brit journalist Toby Young trashes the Golden Globes in a missive fired yesterday from the Independent web site. He attempts to deconstruct why the Globes are the "standing joke" of awards season, and accuses the Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc. -- the paltry 81 of them -- of being "completely starstruck" and easily bribed with gifts ...

The Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," slighted in earlier Hollywood honors, is among best-picture nominees today for the Producers Guild of America Awards.

Other best-picture nominees were Brad Pitt's romantic fantasy "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Ron Howard's Richard Nixon saga "Frost/Nixon," Sean Penn's Harvey Milk film biography "Milk" and Danny Boyle's rags-to-riches tale "Slumdog Millionaire."

Grammy CD features Coldplay, Katy Perry and more

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Each year, the Grammys dish out a CD right before the big show -- a round-up of the songs nominated for the year's music awards. Regardless of whether you watch the show or not, the CD's always a nice way to catch up with what's popular (OK, it's no 'NOW") ... if you haven't been tuned in.

Travolta at Globes? Unlikely

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John Travolta's attendance at this weekend's Golden Globes is doubtful now, as he mourns the death of his son. He was scheduled to appear since his latest movie, the animated "Bolt," is up for two awards -- best animated feature and best original song for his duet with co-star Miley Cyrus, "I Thought I Lost You."

Golden Globes presenters piling up

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Presenters are lining up for this Sunday's Golden Globes. The latest celebs announced for the gig are Cameron Diaz, Jessica Lange, Chris Rock, Aaron Eckhart, Laurence Fishburne and Blake Lively.

"Waltz with Bashir" is an animated documentary from the Middle East.

"Waltz With Bashir," a groundbreaking animated documentary about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, won the National Society of Film Critics' 2008 best picture award Saturday.

But "Happy-Go-Lucky," Mike Leigh's tale of a die-hard optimist whose worldview is put to the test, came away with four of the 10 awards for 2008 films. It won best director and best screenplay for Leigh, best actress for Sally Hawkins and best supporting actor for Eddie Marsan.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Thomas Conner in January 2009.

Thomas Conner: December 2008 is the previous archive.

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