Four big movies are opening this week. There’s a comic clash of cultures “Our Family Wedding” when “Ugly Betty’s” America Ferrara and “House of Payne’s” Lance Gross fall in love. “Twilight’s” Robert Pattinson and “Lost’s” Emilie de Ravin play characters who are both dealing with tragic loss who try to find solace in each other in “Remember Me.” “She’s Out of My League” is an outrageously raunchy comedy with Jay Baruchel (“Tropic Thunder”) as an airport security guy who falls for a dazzling girl (Alice Eve) and finds his biggest obstacle is his own insecurity (closely followed by learning to ignore the terrible advice of his friends). And in “The Green Zone,” Matt Damon reunites with Paul Greengrass, the director of the last two Bourne movies, for the fact-based story of an American officer who finds he cannot trust his intel about weapons of mass destruction and has to find out for himself.
In honor of “The Hurt Locker’s” Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director last night, and International Women’s Day, here’s a list of pioneering women movie directors.
1. Penny Marshall, who started as an actress (“Laverne and Shirley”), went on to direct films that included “Awakenings,” “Big,” and “A League of Their Own.”
2. Amy Heckerling is the director of “Clueless” and the neglected gem “I Could Never Be Your Woman.”
3. Betty Thomas also started as an actress (“Hill Street Blues”) and went on to direct “The Brady Bunch” and “28 Days.”
4. Nora Ephron, the daughter of successful screenwriters, began as a writer and then went on to direct films like “Julie & Julia,” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
5. Gurinder Chadha directed the international hit “Bend it Like Beckham” as well as “What’s Cooking” and “Bride and Prejudice.”
6. Nancy Meyers also began as a writer and has gone on to direct some of the most successful movies of the last 10 years including “It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday,” and “Something’s Gotta Give.”
7. Penelope Speeris made a successful documentary about a topic considered very male — punk music — in “The Decline of Western Civilization.” That led to her directing the wildly successful “Wayne’s World.”
8. Kasi Lemmons is another actress turned director with “Eve’s Bayou” and “The Caveman’s Valentine,” starring Samuel L. Jackson.
9. Mabel Normand was one of the most gifted comic actors of the silent era and one of the first female film directors. She often worked with Charlie Chaplin.
10. Mira Nair directed “Monsoon Wedding” and the recent biopic “Amelia,” starring Hillary Swank.
Sandra Bullock certainly gets the good sport award for her gracious acceptance of the worst actress Razzie for her performance in All About Steve. She came out on stage with a wagon full of DVDs for everyone. If she wins tonight, that will make her the first person to win both an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year.
I really hated the movie, but I recognized that she had good intentions and a good idea and her performance was not the problem. And Bradley Cooper (her co-awardee for worst couple) was certainly blameless. The Razzie should go to the screenwriter. I also thought the Jonas Brothers’ award was mean-spirited. They weren’t acting; it was a documentary. But I completely support the Razzie for Land of the Lost.
Worst Picture of 2009:
Worst Actress of 2009:
Worst Actor(s) of 2009:
All Three Jonas Brothers
Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience
Worst Screen Couple:
Sandra Bullock & Bradley Cooper
Worst Supporting Actress:
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Worst Supporting Actor:
Billy Ray Cyrus
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel
On a happier note, the Spirit Awards for independent films were given out on Friday night. Eddie Izzard was surprisingly disappointing as the host and Ben Stiller ruined his segment with a trashy stunt, but the laid-back ceremony continues to have the best sense of passion and community of any of the award shows. “Precious” was the big winner with awards for leading and supporting actresses, best director, and best picture. All of their acceptance speeches were sensational. I especially loved seeing the documentary award go to Anvil, who also got a chance to perform with a great introduction from Dave Grohl. Here are the very worthy winners:
Best Film: Precious
Best Director: Lee Daniels, Precious
Best Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious
Best Supporting Actor: Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Best Documentary: Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Best Foreign film: An Education
Best Debut film: Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart
Best First screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Best Screenplay: Scott Neustader and Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, A Serious Man
John Cassavetes Award: Lynn Shelton, Humpday
Robert Altman Award: A Serious Man
Here’s the first glimpse of the animated film that came out of nowhere to get an Oscar nomination, The Secret of Kells. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott wrote, “it is only fitting that a movie concerned with the power and beauty of drawing — the almost sacred magic of color and line — should be so gorgeously and intricately drawn.” Can’t wait!