Julianne Hough talks Valentine’s Day, childhood crushes and her favorite Nicholas Sparks book

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in "Safe Haven," now in theaters

Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel star in “Safe Haven,” now in theaters

This Valentine’s Day, you can celebrate with the film adaptation of yet another Nicholas Sparks novel. “Safe Haven” will be the seventh Sparks book made into a movie, following in the footsteps of classics like “A Walk to Remember,” “The Notebook,” and “Dear John.”

Julianne Hough plays Katie, a woman running away from a dark past. She finds herself in a small beach town in North Carolina, and there she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two young children. As she falls for Alex, her secret past comes to light, and they must face it together.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Hough spoke to La Prensa de Houston about the her favorite Nicholas Sparks novel, the leading men she had crushes on growing up, and the romantic things her boyfriend, Ryan Seacrest, does for her. You can check out her Valentine’s Day Speed Round Questions and the trailer for the film at the end of the interview!

SAFE HAVENAG: Congratulations on the film! I loved it. My roommate went with me to screen it, and we were just talking about it the whole way home. There were so many surprises!
JH: That’s awesome! That’s honestly the greatest compliment. Thank you so much.

AG: So are you a fan of the Nicholas Sparks novels? Did you read any of them before you started working on this film?
JH: Oh yeah. “A Walk to Remember” was my favorite book forever. Not just by Nicholas Sparks, but by any author.  It’s just a great book. Then I saw the movie, and obviously I loved The Notebook. Who doesn’t love The Notebook? You’re dead inside if you don’t. (laughs) So when I read this script, I read it not knowing it was Nicholas Sparks. I loved the story, loved the character and knew this was something I wanted to do to separate myself from the things that I’ve done in the past, meaning the musicals, the dancing and singing. I wanted to do this, and then I found out it was Nicholas Sparks. I was like, wow, that’s a whole other element that comes along with it. There’s a built-in fan base, but also, these movies are huge. It’s a lot of responsibility! There’s a little pressure, but just to be in the same category as some of my favorite movies is incredible.

AG: I feel like these movies put so much pressure on men to be like the characters that we fall for in the films. That being said, were there any leading men in films that you watched growing up that you hoped to find when you were older?
JH: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in “She’s All That.” Also, Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic. Those were the “Hottie McHottersons.” (laughs)

AG: Great choices. I was definitely also in love with “Titanic” Leonardo DiCaprio. So cute. Speaking of “Hottie McHottersons,” what was it like working with Josh Duhamel? I mean, that must have been really rough, because he’s so ugly.
JH: I mean, it’s a job somebody has to do. I just gladly do it. (laughs) Honestly, yeah, he’s the ultimate “Hottie McHotterson.” I love that this is our phrase right now, “Hottie McHotterson.” But yeah, it kind of sucks for all the men out there, because all the women have to know this: as beautiful as he is on the outside, he is so much more beautiful on the inside. He is so sweet, genuine, fun, goofy, doesn’t take himself seriously, and literally, he’s just the perfect guy. He is Tad Hamilton. He’s Alex from Safe Haven. He is that guy. The way he is with the kids, he’s the same way off set or off camera. He’s kind of Mr. Perfect.
AG: Poor Fergie.
JH: I know, poor Fergie.

AG: His character in the film is very protective, which can be a really attractive quality to a lot of women. For you, what is the most attractive quality in a man? What do you look for?
JH: I look for a lot of things. I look for thoughtfulness, but also being secure in themselves to know that they can be really supportive of their girlfriend or their wife. I think I’m just saying all the qualities that Ryan has. (laughs) It’s really important, especially in this business, working in film where you do have love scenes in love and romance movies and you’re opposite somebody like Josh, to be able to be secure and also really happy for your partner to focus on their career and do what they love. So I’ll take thoughtfulness and supportiveness.

SAFE HAVENAG: What’s the most romantic thing that someone’s ever done for you or that you’ve done for someone else?
JH: I’m really lucky, because I have a really romantic boyfriend. I flew into Miami last night, and when I got to my room, there were these really beautiful, gorgeous flowers and a note that said “Home stretch, Love Ry.” So again, just being thoughtful. That wasn’t an apology or for anything, just being thoughtful. I’ve been a little tired and a little sick, so I get to go home tonight. For Valentine’s Day last year, my mom was in town and ended up staying a day longer. The flowers that Ryan had gotten me that came in the morning, while my mom and I were still sleeping, he went outside and changed the note on it to say “To Mary Ann, Happy Valentine’s Day,” and gave them to my mom instead. That, to me, is great. I like romantic gestures for other people.

AG: Is there anything else about yourself or about the film that I haven’t mentioned that you think the readers here in Houston should know?
JH: I would just say that it’s the perfect date movie for Valentine’s Day. It’s everything that women love about Nicholas Sparks, but there is so much more. Guys, who probably will be dragged along, are going to be pleasantly surprised that it’s a thriller. It’s got suspense, and every guy that I’ve ever talked to about the movie now is like “I wasn’t expecting to love it, and I loved it!” It’s just everything and more that you would expect a Nicholas Sparks movie to be.

Valentine’s Day Question Speed Round
Favorite love song: “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic? No, that’s so cheesy! Nevermind, I’m changing my answer to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.
Best first date food: Sushi, because you’ll get to tell if the girl or the guy are insecure or self-conscious about themselves.
White wine or red wine: Red wine.
Chocolates or flowers: Chocolates.
Spontaneous night out or lazy night in: I’m going to have to tie on that one. I like spontaneity. I don’t like a planned night. I would rather stay in. But if it’s spontaneous, I like that.
Greatest Hollywood romance: I would say probably Noah and Allie from “The Notebook.” Or Alex and Katie!
Best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten: When you’re in a relationship, obviously the relationship as a unit should have a goal in their relationship to move forward. Each individual has to have their own personal goals in life, and each one has to help the other achieve that. If someone has a personal goal in life and the other one doesn’t support that or doesn’t help make that person better or who they want to be, then that’s not going to work. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other, but you always have to complement each other. You have to want to make the other person a better person.


Jeremy Renner & Gemma Arterton talk “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”

Now In Theaters

Now In Theaters

What happens to our favorite fairy tale characters when the last page is read? In “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” the two children grow up wreaking havoc and carrying out revenge on any witch that crosses their paths.

Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner star as the film’s titular characters 15 years after they escape and kill the witch that captured them in a house made of candy. Hansel and Gretel are now famous bounty hunters travelling from town to town killing witches when they come across a town that holds the secrets to their past.

Arterton and Renner spoke to La Prensa de Houston about the dark side of the Brothers Grimm, developing their brother-sister relationship, and how fairy tales lend themselves to Hollywood cinema.

(L-R) Gretel (Arterton) and Hansel (Renner) take on witches and trolls 15 years after their escape

(L-R) Gretel (Arterton) and Hansel (Renner) take on witches and trolls 15 years after their escape

AG: Congratulations on the film, because it is not what I expected at all. It was very different from what I thought it would be, so it’s definitely got that element of surprise. What, for you, was the most surprising twist in this story that made you two want to be a part of this film?
GA: Really that Hansel and Gretel grow up to become these witch hunters. That’s the biggest twist. I’d never really thought about what happens to them after the fairy tale that we all finished. That’s where our film begins.

AG: What was the most fun for you in preparing for this film?
JR: I think finding the character and realizing you have to act in tandem with Gemma to really make what the tone and feel of the movie is. The relationship was the most fun, just kind of diving into that. It’s what we have to hold on to as actors as well, to face all of our truth in that relationship, because everything else around us was flying witches and freaks and the whole thing. That was the most fun, I think, because Gemma was so easy to work with. We instantly connected, so that made it even more fun.

AG: This is definitely not a film for children, because it was actually kind of scary. If you think about it, though, most Brothers Grimm fairy tales are pretty dark. Which other Brothers Grimm fairy tale characters do you think could be hardcore like this version of Hansel and Gretel?
GA: I’m thinking about fairy tales now and all those princesses and such, so I think Rapunzel is pretty hardcore. She lets people climb up her hair, so good for her.

(L) Hansel & Gretel's biggest fan, Ben

(L) Hansel & Gretel’s biggest fan, Ben

AG: I feel like Hollywood keeps making these childhood stories into darker and edgier movies and TV shows, like this film, Once Upon a Time on ABC, and I believe there was even a dark show about the Brothers Grimm themselves. What do you think it is about this kind of plot twist that keeps audiences asking for more?
JR: I think it’s the world, because it’s cinematic. It’s a form of fantasy, just like what comics are to comic book fans. There’s something very cinematic and a bit more grounded. Just think of fables and fairy tales, and we have that in spades.

AG: I think my favorite scene is when Edward stands up for you, Gemma, and takes care of the sheriff and his gang. It kind of reminded me of the Avengers when the Hulk smashes Loki from side to side, it kind of catches you off guard. What were your favorite scenes to film?
GA: I loved any of the scenes with Jeremy, really. We have a lot of fun playing brother and sister with the banter, and there are some tender scenes as well that were kind of beautiful to get in this crazy action, adventure movie. That, for me, was the best thing about this movie, this brother and sister duo.
JR: I loved working every day on this damn movie. I didn’t want it to end.

One of over about 60 witches Hansel & Gretel must kill to save the town

One of over about 60 witches Hansel & Gretel must kill to save the town

AG: Another crazy scene for me was those witches at the end. They kind of gave me goose bumps. What was it like working with those witches?
JR: Oh, it was fun. It’s like doing live theater or something. The set was built, and the witches were really flying on wires and the whole thing. At some points when you took breaks it was great, because you really see what all their make-up was. There were about 60 witches, so it was actually kind of fun to see which one we were going to fight next. That was a really trippy, acid, Halloween party.

AG: By the end of 2012, both of you have played some really iconic roles, so what goals do you have for the end of 2013?
GA: My goal is just to keep hopefully getting interesting work and doing it (laughs). I don’t like to plan, so I don’t have any specific goals. I would like to be more fluent in different languages, I think.

AG: Do you either of you have anything to say that I haven’t mentioned about the film that you’d like the readers here in Houston to know?
GA: I would say that they should just go see the film, it’s great.
JR: Yeah, it’s a good ride.


Pablo Larraín talks NO

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In 1988, Chile was finally liberated from the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship with the help of an unorthodox ad campaign. Director Pablo Larraín explores this campaign in his new film, “NO,” which is nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Gael García Bernal plays Rene Saavedra, the director of the public campaign that inspired the people of Chile to voice their protest through the Democratic process foreign to the country at the time. Larraín and Bernal team up on a film that has already won Best Foreign Language Film at the Sao Paolo International Film Festival and the C.I.C.A.E. Award at the presitigious Cannes Film Festival.

Larraín spoke to The Reel Story about competing against “Amour” at the Oscars, what it was like growing up in the Pinochet dictatorship, and what he hopes this film will inspire audiences to do.

3  copyAG: Congratulations on your film, all of the awards it’s already won,  and your nomination for the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film!
PL: Thank you, it’s wonderful news. The Oscar nomination helps and is amazing for the movie, because it hasn’t been released in Chile or in Europe. That’s going to happen quite soon. It really helps, because more people will be aware of it. More people will hear about it, and that’s fantastic.

AG: What is it about this chapter of history that really compelled you to make it into a film?
PL: That’s a good question, but it’s hard to answer that. I’ve approached all of these movies through a very spontaneous process. I never really decided to make three movies on the subject. One came after the other one, because it just felt right at that time. I do think that there are so many questions that I’ve asked myself during all these years, and maybe I tried to answer those questions with my films. The problem is that I didn’t get any answers, but that’s another story. I just think the subject is so fascinating. I grew up in the dictatorship when I was very young, and when I became an adult, everything was so interesting and hard to understand at the same time. So approaching this process was some kind of necessary path for me throughout the course of what I do, which is movies.

AG: What was the most important part of this story for you to portray with the most truth as possible?
PL: I think that in this story, there are enough things that make this very original somehow. Most people know how Pinochet got into power, but not all of them know how he got out. We had something very original, especially since dictators don’t usually leave through a Democratic process. They usually leave power through shootouts or just leave a brother in power, you know? So it was very original, and the way that it happened as well. They had this campaign on TV, the way that the NO campaign was made, using tools that come from advertising, all that was just fascinating. We thought we had a great story there, and we wanted to tell it. As a filmmaker, when you face a story that is so original with beautiful and unique elements, it’s going to be more attractive.

AG: Did you get to know the real Rene Saavedra?
PL: Oh, of course. We worked with him. It’s also not just him. His character is based on two guys. He’s an amalgam of two characters, and yeah, he worked with us all the time.
AG: What did they think of the film?
PL: You’d have to ask them, but I’m pretty sure they really liked it.

2  copyAG: In Latin America, people can be very critical of the people that play the main roles in films like this, so how did you go about choosing Gael Garcia Bernal in place of a Chilean actor?
PL: We chose him, because he’s a great actor. That’s the main reason. There were some people that were concerned or thought it was dangerous or a bad idea, but that happened while we were in production, before we released the film. When the movie was released, it wasn’t an issue. Nobody ever complained or said anything against Gael. His performance is not only wonderful, but his Chilean accent is brilliant. It’s something really hard to do. I don’t know how he does it, but he did it. We had no problem. The discussion over the movie was never about his accent or the fact that he is Mexican. It was never about that. It was always about something else, which was interesting. It’s the responsibility of Gael’s talent also.

AG: You mentioned growing up during the Pinochet dictatorship. What was the thing you remember most about it that you incorporated into this film?
PL: I think it’s more than facts. It’s the mood. The frustration, the air, and what is probably the hardest thing to do in a movie is to be able to spread that, to show that, to make the audience feel that sensation. It’s not on a dramatic level, but more in an atmosphere level. It’s interesting to try to achieve that so that the audience would somehow feel how you felt. It’s probably the hardest thing to do but at the same time the most interesting thing to do.

AG: Congratulations on achieving that. The whole time, you know there’s this underlying fear and tension, but it’s never overwhelming. You did a really great job of that.
PL: Thank you! In movies, it’s more interesting what you’re hiding than what you’re actually telling. What you hide is like humans. When you meet someone, everyone has a mystery. Everyone is always hiding something. Why would a movie avoid that? So it’s interesting.

AG: If you had been a publicist like Rene Saavedra instead of a director, and you could create a campaign to change something in the world, what would that be?
PL: I would like to see how money gets to be spread in a more equal way. I don’t understand how we have created a society that allows some people to be so wealthy and people so poor at the same time. I’m not talking about Socialist. I’m talking about just spreading the wealth a little bit. In the United States, only 400 people have more money than 150 million people. That is not right. My country has the same problem. So if I could pick a change to make, that would be it, to create a more equal system.

AG: Going back to awards, have you gotten a chance to watch the film NO is up against? If so, what do you think makes yours different?
PL: I’ve seen “A Royal Affair” and “Amour.” I think both are good movies, and I think Amour is an extraordinary film. I’m glad to be in that pool, in that short list. They’re great films, so I’m proud to be part of that showcase.
4AG: So what would it mean to you to win the Oscar?
PL: I don’t know! If it happens, I’ll tell you. What I can tell you is that the nomination is fantastic for the film. We spoke about how it’s a good energy for the film, and I would love to use it. Besides that, it’s hard for me to tell you more. I’ve never been in this situation before, so I don’t know much. I wish we could win it! (Laughs)

AG: So what was the most fun for you throughout the whole process of this film and the end product?
PL: I wish I could have a better answer, but pretty much everything. We had a lot of great times thinking about it, researching it, and of course releasing the film. It’s been pretty interesting this whole process. I’ve been learning a lot and having a great time.

AG: Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know about the film that I haven’t mentioned?
PL: I guess just that this movie shows that when people get together to change something, it’s possible. It’s an epic that is not fake or created by a screenwriter. This is something that actually happened, and it shows that when people get together and make change, it’s very interesting. If that encourages anybody to do and follow what they want to do, I’ll be more than glad.

Golden Globe Winners 2013

Photo courtesy of indiewire.com

Photo courtesy of indiewire.com

Sunday night’s Golden Globes honored the best in motion pictures and television. Could this list of winners be a good prediction as to what to expect at the the 85th Annual Academy Awards next month?


Motion Picture, Drama: Argo

Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Les Miserables

Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables

Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Director: Ben Affleck, Argo

Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Foreign Language Film: Amour (Austria)

Animated Feature Film: Brave

Original Song: “Skyfall,” Skyfall, Adele & Paul Epworth


TV Series, Drama: Homeland

TV Series, Comedy: Girls

Movie or Miniseries: Game Change

Actor in a TV Series, Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland

Actress in a TV Series, Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland

Actor in a TV Series, Comedy: Don Cheadle, House of Lies

Actress in a TV Series, Comedy: Lena Dunham, Girls

Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys

Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change

Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Movie: Ed Harris, Game Change

Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Cecil B. DeMille Award: Jodie Foster

Edgar Ramirez talks Zero Dark Thirty

Edgar Ramirez at the Hollywood Premiere of Zero Dark Thirty

Edgar Ramirez at the Hollywood Premiere of Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow is back in a big way with Zero Dark Thirty, the story of the assassination of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Senators and the CIA have both issued statements claiming that Zero Dark Thirty is “grossly inaccurate,” and there has been opposition to the film’s depiction of torture-for-information. However, none of this controversy overshadows the fact that this film is a great story wonderfully told by Bigelow and screenplay writer Mark Boal.

Kyle Chandler (left) and Jason Clarke in Columbia Pictures' thriller ZERO DARK THIRTY.

Kyle Chandler (left) and Jason Clarke in Columbia Pictures’ thriller ZERO DARK THIRTY.

Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a CIA officer whose focus is solely on intelligence related to Osama bin Laden two years after his attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. For seven years, Maya tracks down America’s Most Wanted Fugitive throughout the Middle East.

Edgar Ramirez plays Larry, a CIA SAD Ground Branch Operator who helps Maya collect intelligence regarding one of bin Laden’s rumored couriers. Ramirez spoke to The Reel Story about the contentious response to the film, working with Bigelow, and the research he performed in preparation for the role.

AG: First of all, I loved this movie, but there is no denying that it was pretty heavy. I was exhausted when it was over, but I think that’s a good thing. It has also stirred up a lot of controversy. What are your thoughts on the critical response to this film?
ER: I think the reaction this movie has received was completely expected and somewhat normal. First of all, we’re talking about very current history. It’s streamlining historic events for the past 10 years. It’s living history. It’s also because of the very personal relationship that everybody on this planet has with the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 and after that. After Sept. 11, everybody’s lives on this planet were changed forever. Our lives will never be the same as they were before Osama bin Laden orchestrated the attacks on the Twin Towers. So it is completely normal that this movie has generated so much controversy, contradicting points of view, and speculation, because it is a movie that doesn’t, in my opinion, establish a unique point of view to the story. I think that this movie, in a very honest way, presents different points of view and different angles to the story for over a decade. It shows either one point of view or the other, but never both at the same time.

Stationed in a covert base overseas, Jessica Chastain (center) plays a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives (Christopher Stanley, LEFT and Alex Corbet Burcher, RIGHT) who secretly devoted themselves to finding Osama Bin Laden

Jessica Chastain (center)  and military operatives (Christopher Stanley, LEFT and Alex Corbet Burcher, RIGHT)

AG: I felt like Kathryn Bigelow did such an amazing job maneuvering through those points of view. So what was it like working with her?
ER: Yeah. It was incredible. She was so clever and so honest navigating through the facts in the most open and direct conscientious way that you could ever imagine. This movie in the wrong hands could have been a total disaster. It is so easy to take the risk when you tell stories where there are “good guys” and “bad guys.” It is so easy to just lean towards one or the other. This movie doesn’t try to set up an opinion but simply tells the audience, “This is what happened, and this is what you should think about what happened.” I think that the movie, why it’s so disturbing and difficult to watch for some people, is that it puts the ball in the audience’s court, for them to decide what to make of these events. That is a very smart but difficult thing to do.

AG: Obviously this movie is about a story that was shrouded in mystery for quite a while. What kind of preparation did you do for this role when you found out you were going to be a part of this movie?
ER: I tried to get acquainted with and tried to get as much information as possible about the events surrounding the tracking of Osama bin Laden, and all the different traits, routines, and layers of my character’s activity. My character’s a CIA Ground Branch Officer, in charge of ground surveillance and blending in in order to collect information and data from the locals in the field. Of course there is a lot I cannot disclose because of all of the legal restrictions and secrecy surrounding this movie, but it was definitely interesting to me to get as close as possible to the heart of this character. It’s based on a real character, but his name in the film is fictional. I tried to emphasize on the ability to disappear, to become invisible. That’s the main trait that the officers in this particular activity are requested to exercise.

AG: Looking at your body of work, there are a lot of politically-charged films and action films. Are these kinds of films something you look for?
ER: I haven’t really figured out how this secret dance between actors and their characters really works. I think it’s a secret dance. I don’t know if it’s us who look for them or if it’s them who find us. We can’t escape from our obsessions. What I do believe is that the mechanics of politics, exercise of politics, it is the perfect field for the true colors of human nature to be revealed. I think you really know who a person is once they are faced with power and the exercise of power. In the exercise of politics are where the true colors shine through and the real contradictions shine through. That’s what I look for in characters. I look for contradictions. In politics, there are so many good people who do horrible things and so many bad people who sometimes do good things. For me, it is very interesting as an actor to explore this type of character. The world of politics offers an amazing opportunity to find those characters.

Photo courtesy of: El Universal. Ramirez (Left) consulting Maya (Right) about ground branch operations.

Photo courtesy of: El Universal. Ramirez (Left) consulting Maya (Right) about ground branch operations.

AG: I read that you actually worked as a journalist in college, so if you had been a journalist here in the U.S. from 2001 to 2011, what questions would you have been asking? Do you think some of those questions were answered, or at least touched on, in this film?
ER: I mean, we could discuss this for hours, but one of the things that really caught my attention was reading the script. The fact that normally you would think about organizations like the CIA or the FBI or MI-6, etc, as very compact, united organizations, and what I realized in this film is how bureaucratic they are. You see how much dealing and negotiating people need to undertake in order to do their job. That really caught my attention. I would think they were all working together chasing one goal and being completely united towards one objective. In fact, they’re very defunct or dislocated in a way. That is what I found to be very interesting. That is the nature of us as human beings, always having contradicting goals. On the other hand, the fact that a woman was the main pusher for this entire operation was very revelatory to me. Normally, due to prejudices and stereotypes, the way they handle involvement of women in politics and the military, it was great to see how it was a woman who pursued the undertaking of this operation. That was, for me, very interesting.

AG: So what’s up next for you, and do you have anything else the readers should know about this movie that I haven’t mentioned?
ER: I just think it would be great for everyone to go and have their own experience with the film. In terms of my next project, this year, an epic based on Simon Bolivar, the Latin American independence hero, I have the privilege to portray him. It is the biggest Latin American production today, and the first project I did after Zero Dark Thirty. There are also several other movies that will be announced for me in the next month or so.

85th Annual Academy Award Nominations

Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane announced the nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. this morning

Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane announced the nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. this morning

There is no doubt that this year was a good year for movies. There were breakout directors; poignant, against-type performances; the usual heavyweights giving us brand new performances to think and rave about. It was easy, then, to predict who was going to be nominated for a coveted Academy Award by the end of the year.

Steven Spielberg’s epic “Lincoln” leads the Oscar race with 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” came in a close second with 11 nominations. Tied for third were Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” and David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” with eight nominations each.

Below is the list of Oscar nominees announced by the Academy this morning. Were there any surprising snubs or recognition in your opinion?

Best Picture:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

I wasn’t surprised by any of these choices by the Academy except for Amour, and that’s only because I hadn’t heard of it and still have yet to see it. I will say that Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty were great films whose reviews I will be posting sooner rather than later.

Actor in a Leading Role:
Bradley CooperSilver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln
Hugh Jackman Les Miserables
Joaquin PhoenixThe Master
Denzel WashingtonFlight

I haven’t seen The Master or Flight, but given the two actors nominated for those films, I don’t doubt they both deserve to be nominated. Personally, I think Bradley Cooper winning is a long shot, but I enjoyed his performance. It was a pleasant surprise to watch him in a heavy role like that. Daniel Day-Lewis is definitely the one to beat in this category.

Actress in a Leading Role:
Jessica ChastainZero Dark Thirty
Jennifer LawrenceSilver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle RivaAmour
Quvenzhane WallisBeasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi WattsThe Impossible

I’m thinking this one is either going to Naomi Watts or Emanuelle Riva, but again, my own personal opinion.

Best Director:
Michael HanekeAmour
Benh ZeitlinBeasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee Life of Pi
Steven SpielbergLincoln
David O. Russell Silver Linings Playbook

The obvious snub in this category was Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. That story could have been messy and disorganized, but she made it easy to watch and understand. That was the biggest surprise for me, but I’m thinking Ang Lee is taking this one home anyway.

Actor in a Supporting Role:
Alan ArkinArgo
Robert De NiroSilver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour HoffmanThe Master
Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln
Cristoph WaltzDjango Unchained

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Cristoph Waltz in Django, but it kind of seemed like he was reprising the role that won him this Oscar back in 2010. What’s interesting is that all five of these nominees have won in this category before, so it’ll be fun to see these guys duke it out for a repeat.

Actress in a Supporting Role:
Amy Adams The Master
Sally FieldLincoln
Anne HathawayLes Miserables
Helen HuntThe Sessions
Jacki WeaverSilver Linings Playbook

It seemed like Anne Hathaway might have been snubbed by the Academy since she only appeared in Les Miserables for 20 minutes or so, but every minute she was in the film was incredible. She’s obviously my personal favorite, but I don’t know if there’s any clear prediction as to who will win in this category.

Best Animated Feature:
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

I’ll be honest. I don’t watch many animated features, but Brave was a big disappointment. I’ll count that one out of contention for sure.

Writing – Adapted Screenplay:
Argo – Written by Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi – Written by David Magee
Lincoln – Written by Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook – Written by David O. Russell

Writing – Original Screenplay:
Amour – Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained – Written by Quentin Tarantino
Flight – Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom – Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty – Written by Mark Boal

I am biased towards Quentin Tarantino, because the dialogue in his screenplays never fail to surprise me. It’s always inventive, smart, and fun. Moonrise Kingdom was classic Anderson-Coppola, but I don’t know that it deserves to win over the others. Zero Dark Thirty was an amazing film and navigated through a story that could have been a disaster with ease and clarity. Still not sure who deserves to win.

Anna Karenina – Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained – Robert Richardson
Life of Pi – Claudio Miranda
Lincoln – Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall – Roger Deakins

Costume Design:
Anna Karenina – Jacqueline Durran
Les Miserables – Paco Delgado
Lincoln – Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror – Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman – Colleen Atwood

You can read Paco Delgado’s interview with The Reel Story about the inspiration for his costumes here: “Paco Delgado talks Les Miserables

Documentary Feature:
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Documentary Short:
Inocente – Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Kings Point – Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine – Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
Open Heart – Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Redemption – Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neil

Film Editing:
Argo – William Goldenberg
Life of Pi – Tim Squyres
Lincoln – Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook – Jay Cassidy and Srispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty – Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Foreign Language Film:
Amour (Austria)
Kon-Tiki (Norway)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
War Witch (Canada)

Hitchcock – Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Miserables – Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Music – Original Score:
Anna Karenina – Dario Marianelli
Argo – Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi – Mychael Danna
Lincoln – John Williams
Skyfall – Thomas Newman

Music – Original Song:
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice – Music & Lyrics by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted – Music by Walter Murphy; Lyrics by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi – Music by Mychael Danna; Lyrics by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from Skyfall – Music & Lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from Les Miserables – Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg & Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Production Design:
Anna Karenina – Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration)
Les Miserables – Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration)
Life of Pi – David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
Lincoln – Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration)

Best Short Film:
Adam and Dog – Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole – PES
Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckhart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” – David Silverman
Paperman – John Kahrs

Best Short Film – Live Action:
Asad – Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys – Sam French and Ariel Nasr
Curfew – Shawn Christensen
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw) – Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
Henry – Yan England

Sound Editing:
Argo – Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained – Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi – Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall – Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
Zero Dark Thirty – Paul N. J. Ottosson

Sound Mixing:
Argo – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Miserables – Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
Life of Pi – Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln – Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall – Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi – Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan de Boer and Donald R. Elliot
Marvel’s The Avengers – Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus – Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Hunstman – Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

THIS IS THE END: First Official Trailer

In theaters June 14, 2013

In theaters June 14, 2013

The first official trailer and movie poster have been released for This Is the End, a comedy about the apocalyptic end of the world (right on time?). Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have come together yet again for their directorial debut, and I’m hoping the world really doesn’t end tomorrow so I can go and watch this movie. Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson find themselves stuck in a house in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the destruction of the world as we know it.

What’s most interesting to me — and you’ll see in the trailer — is that all of these guys will be playing (what I’m assuming to be) parodies of themselves rather than fictional characters. The movie also features Mindy Kaling, Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Rihanna, and Judd Apatow film regulars David Krumholtz, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Martin Starr and Paul Rudd. Let’s hope the Mayans were wrong and we can look forward past tomorrow to what looks like another comedic gem from Rogen and Goldberg.