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I am so hoping that Sean Penn will be recognized for his amazing work in "I am Sam". Yeah I know he has a history in Hollywood. Did he once say that he would never attend The Academy Awards?
Anyway, the guy is a fantastic actor, and I hope they can see past all the political bullshit and give him what he so justly deserves.
Btw, see this movie!
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 24, 2002
What makes Sean Penn really angry
By RACHEL ABRAMOWITZ
Tuesday 22 January 2002 Sean Penn in his latest film, I Am Sam. Sean Penn doesn't believe in film preservation. He hates those hallowed classics such as The Grapes of Wrath and Gone With the Wind, a film he describes as "an abominable fraud of a movie".
"I sometimes feel that they should just burn them all and start anew," he says.
Penn giggles wickedly - a hoarse, breathy, gasping chortle. It's the first time in an hour that a flash of mischievousness has animated his rough-hewn features.
Penn says he's found that an eradication of past history can be rejuvenating.
"I had a house burn down once and everything in life burned, except my family, and it was so liberating. It sort of reinvigorated my interest in a lot of things," he says and adds, laughing: "I wonder if there should be some kind of anarchy."
It's Monday lunchtime at the bar at the Hotel Bel-Air and Penn is here to promote his film I Am Sam, which opened for an Oscar- qualifying run at the end of December and reopens in wider release at the end of this month. This is the kind of task he usually detests and, for most of it, he has swathed his personality in rigorously polite wariness.
It's Penn's mission and, in some ways, his plight to mount a one-man battle against what he sees as mindless, soul-numbing, "embarrassing" entertainment. "I'm not somebody you'd want to go to most American movies with. I'd really upset you," he warns. "I get crazy. I feel like they're (the film makers and the Hollywood system) all up there saying, 'You're an idiot! You're an idiot!' ...
"They're contemptuous of everything, of themselves, of everything, all wrapped up in a package of the feel-good movie of the year. They talk about violence in movies and all of that stuff. My attitude is: A bad movie is violence!"
Penn isn't ranting as he says this. His voice never rises above a murmur, each word carefully plucked with meticulousness and an air of self-awareness. His demeanor is more philosophy-professor-cum-beat- poet, matter-of-factly delineating the hard-won wisdom of years of experience.
It would be easy to surmise that Penn has mellowed since his first incarnation as a sneering, bad-boy wunderkind, married to Madonna, shooting at helicopters and brawling with paparazzi. For the first half of his career, he was known as much for his fury as for his craft. But his friends caution that this is a facile reduction of a complex and unusually steadfast and loyal personality. "He was sweet and dangerous 20 years ago and he's sweet and dangerous now," explains producer Art Linson, who hosted Penn's wedding to Robin Wright in 1996. Penn is clearly uncompromising. For several years, he claimed publicly that he was quitting acting, but, in fact, he explains, he can't because, "I can never get ahead of the game financially because of the movies I do." He prefers directing. In the past decade, he's crafted such challenging fare as The Crossing Guard, a harrowing tale of a father haunted by the death of his daughter, who was killed by a drunken driver, and The Pledge, about a man's obsessive - and soul-destroying - search for a serial killer.
"Sean's a very poetic, hard-nosed director," says Jack Nicholson, who starred in both. "He goes his own way. He's all about being substantial in the work." When Penn acts, it's often not for much money, opting to work for scale (about $US2000 a week) in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown (1999), or for a reported $300,000 for Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998) - although he received a reported $5 million to star as a mentally challenged adult in I Am Sam.
Nor is he an actor because of a burning need to be loved. Penn hasn't been lovable on-screen in almost 20 years, preferring an array of psychopaths (Casualties of War, Carlito's Way), sociopaths (Hurlyburly) and misfits (She's So Lovely). It's often been his special self-appointed task to mine the familiar shards of humanity among the human wreckage. In his two Oscar-nominated performances (Sweet and Lowdown and 1995's Dead Man Walking), he managed to earn audience sympathy for a louse-like musician and a racist murderer.
"I always hunted long and far for any writer who can write without living in the corner of his artiness," Penn says, "and they're not there because they're all invested in the comfort of this comfort- addicted country. The only writers who made any sense to me were writing about tougher, less heartwarming things.
"But mostly, any movie that's been heartwarming the last 20 years has been a piece of crap, in my mind. Every single one of them has been awful and embarrassing and degrading to me and so I never responded to those scripts. This was a script that wasn't like that."
He's referring to I Am Sam, a full-blown weepy about a man with the mental capacity of a seven-year-old struggling to raise his seven- year-old daughter, whom the state wants to remove from his home. For the jaded moviegoer, the premise might sound like an echt Hollywood melodrama, but Penn's performance is stripped of any prefab sentimentality. He has clearly inhaled the spirit of John Cassavetes and it's a performance less powered by shticky theatrics than blunt emotion.
It's almost as if Penn's assumption that the audience won't relate to Sam because of his infirmity has freed the actor, indeed inspired him, to go for the emotional jugular.
It releases a sweetness in Penn's performance not apparent since the days of Racing With the Moon (1984). For a man almost no one would call warm and fuzzy, Penn is wrenching in his ability to portray a truly unselfish love and a kind of universal dismay many parents feel when faced with small, mewing children.
Penn's performance might garner Academy Award consideration, but, since Dustin Hoffman, Geoffrey Rush and Daniel Day-Lewis have already won Oscars for playing characters with extreme disabilities, his chances seem diminished. Despite his two nominations, Penn has never attended the Academy Awards and refuses, point-blank, to even discuss the subject, even though it's clear the film opened in December to meet the academy deadline.
Penn isn't so much a cynic as an angry idealist, a throwback to an earlier era when Hollywood wasn't a corporate machine, efficiently and impersonally pumping out product for the masses, and when art, even movies, seemed important.
"Hollywood is much more creatively corrupt than it is economically (corrupt)," he says. "It takes $1 for them to kill their dreams. Their dreams are worth more than $1."
Penn has been called an acting savant and his process remains mysterious. It starts with what he calls "sponge work" - in the case of I Am Sam, visiting LA Goal, a non-profit centre for adults with developmental disabilities, where writer-director Jessie Nelson and co-writer Kristine Johnson researched the script.
"I usually start pretty well outside," he says. "I'll start thinking about the clothing and things like that and then movement. Bit by bit, the other things kind of follow. I always used to think about it just like building a cage. You would build it strongly and you're very free within it when you're shooting."
"The first day he came to the centre, he was completely ego-less," Jessie Nelson recalls. "He became invisible. They were on an assembly line folding T-shirts into plastic bags and he immediately sat down and started folding. He sat next to an autistic man who didn't think Sean was folding correctly. Sean would listen to every direction and try to fold meticulously and would ask them questions and very gently became their friend."
Michelle Pfeiffer, who co-stars in the film as a driven yuppie lawyer who takes on Sam's case, says Penn was "really different than I expected. I expected him to be a much more narcissistic actor than he is. He's incredibly present and giving. A lot of times when people are that good, they kind of act alone and he is just so opposite of that".
-LOS ANGELES TIMES
-- (email@example.com), March 24, 2002.
political bullshit wins
what a shame
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2002.
It's a silly little game cin not meant to be influenced by the fan. Thespians lost in a thesporgasm of self congratulation. Better to find a ball game or an old movie.
-- Carlos (email@example.com), March 25, 2002.
Black Is Beautiful at Oscars
Mon Mar 25, 1:54 AM ET
By Arthur Spiegelman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - History was made at the Oscars (news - web sites) on Sunday night when for the first time in the awards' 74 years its top acting honors were won by black performers, including the first ever best actress award to an African American.
"A Beautiful Mind" was named best picture and its director, Ron Howard, was named best director but the message of the almost 4 1/2 hour long Oscars show was "Black is Beautiful."
The show was easily and winningly stolen by a shaking, sobbing Halle Berry, who became the first black woman to be named the year's best actress for her work in the racially charged drama "Monster's Ball."
Denzel Washington won for best actor for his portrayal of a corrupt policeman in "Training Day." He became the first black actor to take the award since Sidney Poitier in 1964. Not to be outdone, Poitier was given an honorary Oscar for his lifetime work.
"There was no route for where I was hoping to go, no custom for me to follow, yet here I am this evening at the end of a journey that in 1949 would have been considered almost impossible," Poitier told the audience as he was given a standing ovation.
"Two birds in one night," a smiling Washington exclaimed as he picked up his award. "God is good. God is great. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all."
GLASS CEILING SHATTERED
The awards to Washington and Berry sent a major show business glass ceiling crashing to the ground in an industry where blacks often get short shrift and few dramatic Oscar eligible roles.
Berry, 33, a rising star but hardly a household name, won for her role as a woman overtaken by rage and frustration in "Monster's Ball."
With tears streaming down her face, and gasping for breath, Berry dedicated her award to all the African-American women who had struggled before her to make their way in Hollywood and especially to her heroine Dorothy Dandridge, the first and until Berry the only black woman to be nominated for a best actress role. Berry had won an Emmy for a television film based on her life.
"This moment is so much bigger than me. It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened," she said.
"I am so honored, I'm so honored, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which this blessing might flow," Berry added.
Before Sunday, Poitier had been the only other African American to win a lead acting Oscar, getting the award for his 1963 performance in "Lilies of the Field."
Washington, 47, was a sentimental favorite, having lost two years ago for "The Hurricane," and for other past performances such as perhaps his most demanding part as slain Black Muslim leader Malcolm X in the movie of the same name. But he faced a list of strong contenders including Will Smith in "Ali" and last year's Oscar winner Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind."
Washington had earlier presented a special honorary award to Poitier, who in 1964 won best actor for "Lilies of the Field." In his acceptance speech, he looked over to where Poitier was sitting and declared: "I'll always be chasing you Sidney. I'll always be following in your footsteps. There's nothing I'd rather do." Poitier then stood up from his seat in the audience and held out his own honorary Oscar in salute.
A FINE LINE
"A Beautiful Mind," a film that explores the fine line between genius and mental illness, won the Oscar for best picture, giving it a total of four awards for the night including best director for Ron Howard, best adapted screenplay for Akiva Goldsman and best supporting actress for Jennifer Connelly, who by virtue of the award is now on Hollywood's A-list.
Howard, 48, who gained early stardom playing little Opie Taylor on the 1960s television comedy "The Andy Griffith Show" and affable teenager Richie Cunningham a decade later on "Happy Days," has grown up to make his mark as one of Hollywood's most successful directors and producers.
"I'm not a good enough actor any more to be able to stand up here and make you believe that I haven't imagined this moment in my mind over the years and played it out about a thousand times," Howard said as he accepted his best-director award. "I'm very grateful for this. I'm very grateful for an entire lifetime spent involved in this creative process."
Howard also thanked the real-life subject of the movie, Nobel Prize winner John Nash, who was in the audience, and the professor's wife, Alicia, "for sharing your important story with us."
The director made no mention of the negative campaign waged against the film in the weeks leading up to the Oscar, in which allegations surfaced that he and partner Brian Grazer had omitted aspects of Nash's life that they found too unsavory to depict on screen.
The film had been mired in controversy in the weeks leading up to the Oscars over the movie's failure to include references to Nash's alleged homosexuality and past anti-Semitic comments. Nash denied that he was homosexual and said the anti-Semitic remarks were made when he was severely mentally ill.
SHREK MAKES OGRES HAPPY
Veteran British actor Jim Broadbent was named best supporting actor for his role as the caring husband of novelist Iris Murdoch who falls victim to Alzheimer's Disease (news - web sites) in "Iris."
Most experts thought that Sir Ian McKellen would win the award for his work as the wizard Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." "Rings" won four awards, none of them major after having nominated for a near record 13.
"No Man's Land," a bitter tale of the Bosnian war, won the Oscar for best foreign language film.
British rookie screenwriter Julian Fellowes won best original screenplay for Gosford Park -- his first produced feature film.
"I feel as if I'm in 'A Star Is Born,"' a delighted Fellowes gushed.
"Shrek," a tale of an ogre with a jackass for best friend, won the Academy Award for best feature-length animated film, the first time such an award has been given out.
The computer-animated tale beat "Jimmy Neutron" and "Monsters, Inc" from Walt Disney Co. -- which has traditionally dominated the world of film animation. Shrek was made by rival studio Dreamworks.
Oscars host Whoopi Goldberg took almost immediate notice of the whispering campaign against "A Beautiful Mind."
"So much mud has been thrown this year all the nominees were black," she said after descending to the stage in a trapeze much the way Nicole Kidman did in "Moulin Rouge."
After a season of mourning and modesty following the Sept. 11 suicide hijack attacks, many stars sparkled on the red carpet wearing an array of borrowed diamonds from head to toe.
"Mulholland Drive" actress Laura Elena Harring outshone the pack sporting a $27 million diamond necklace and a pair of Stuart Weitzman strappy platinum and diamond studded high heels reportedly valued at $1 million.
The answer to the night's big non-award question was: Kidman brought her sister and not a date. Many Hollywood wags had wondered if she would show up with one to mark herself as an independent woman after her divorce from Tom Cruise.
This year's Awards mark the first time that the ceremony has been held in the heart of Hollywood in 42 years.
Woody Allen received a standing ovation before introducing a film tribute to New York City, a gesture made to show support from the movie community following the attack that destroyed the city's World Trade Center.
"For New York City I would do anything...it is a great, great movie town," Allen, who normally shuns such star-studded events, said.
-- Hand over that Oscar whitey (we're gonna @ get niggy. with it), March 25, 2002.
Berry is not black. She be high-yeller. She gots mo white in her than Sammy bin Laden. For her to win an Oscar is an insult to real black folks.
-- (Street Niggas@da.hood), March 25, 2002.
It probably makes sense that they didn't give LOTR:FOTR any of the big Oscars since they still have two more opportunities.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2002.
"Berry is not black. She be high-yeller. She gots mo white in her than Sammy bin Laden. For her to win an Oscar is an insult to real black folks."
For someone who isn't black, there sure is a lot of fuss being made about the color of her skin.
Halle Berry Steals Oscar Show
Mon Mar 25, 3:31 AM ET
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Halle Berry stole the show at Sunday's Oscars (news - web sites), becoming the first black woman to win a best actress Academy Award and accepting it with a weeping, emotion-filled speech that bought tears to the eyes of her worldwide audience.
Berry, 33, a rising star but hardly a household name, won for her role as a woman overtaken by rage and frustration in the racially charged movie "Monster's Ball" that is considered her best performance in a 10-year career.
Moments later she was joined in the record books by Denzel Washington as they became the first blacks to win both the best actor and best actress Oscars in 74 years of Academy Awards (news - web sites).
Last year's awards ceremony saw Hollywood sweetheart Julia Roberts whooping with unabashed delight at winning her first best actress Oscar.
Berry, who up until a few days ago had been considered an outsider for Hollywood's highest honor, looked about to faint.
With tears streaming down her face and gasping for breath, Berry dedicated her award to all the African-American women who had struggled before her to make their way in Hollywood.
"This moment is so much bigger than me. It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened," she said.
"I am so honored, I'm so honored, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel from which this blessing might flow," Berry said, telling reporters afterward that she wondered how she would make it up the steps to the stage.
She emerged as a late favorite in a race that had been dominated by Nicole Kidman and Sissy Spacek until Berry proved the surprise winner of the Screen Actor's Guild two weeks ago.
Before Sunday, Sidney Poitier had been the only other African American to win a lead acting Oscar, getting the award for his 1963 performance in "Lilies of the Field."
BEAUTY QUEEN, MODEL AND ACTRESS
Berry, a former model and pageant beauty queen, had earlier made a splash on the red carpet, wearing a daring claret-colored gown and sheer bodice embellished with carefully placed beaded applique flowers and leaves.
Her big screen breakthrough came in 1991 when she was cast as a crack addict in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever," and she went on to supporting roles in "The Flintstones" and the 1998 political satire "Bulworth".
Her biggest acclaim came for her role in the 1999 television movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge", in which she played 1950s black movie star Dandridge whose struggles to be accepted in racist Hollywood paved the way for actresses like Berry today.
Berry, who also served as one of the executive producers, won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance.
"Dandridge" served as Berry's entree into the acting A list, while her model looks and intuitive fashion sense made her a natural on the red carpets of premieres and award shows.
In "Monster's Ball" she played an unsavory down-and-out waitress who strikes up a love affair with a white racist prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton) working on death row who was responsible for executing her husband.
"I did have to fight for this (role)," she said later.
"The producer and director didn't think I was right for it. I think I just wore them down to the point where they said, 'Let's give her the part."'
Berry thanked her agent, manager, lawyer, husband, director, producer and her mother, and when signaled by the producers to cut short her speech, replied; "Hey, wait a minute, it's 74 years. I've got to take this time."
The movie was liked by critics and Berry was singled out for a performance that is brave both in its realism and its use of one explicit sex scene.
The complexity of its themes and its relatively limited release had made it only a modest performer at the box office.
That is likely to change given Berry's moving performance on Sunday.
"I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime," she told reporters later of her Academy Award.
"I hope this means they won't not see our color. That's what makes us so unique... I just hope we maybe will start to be judged on our work, and not our skin."
-- (first black woman oscar @ in. 74 years), March 25, 2002.
I'm with Carlos on this, cin. The Oscars are now and have always been pretty meaningless (apart from their ability to generate money). Perhaps the technical awards have some validity, since they are voted on by the technicians and don't affect the box office. But the "artistic merit" awards are so much damn fool nonsense. All you have to do is run your eyes down a list of "Best Pictures" over the years - mostly pleasant or uplifting mediocrities that made enough money to get rewarded with a pat on the head.
-- Little Nipper (email@example.com), March 25, 2002.
Some might argue that Berry would not have won if she didn't have some white in her.
-- (pure niggah @ too. dumb), March 25, 2002.
That may be true for a female actor but less so for a male actor. Denzel is "really" black. Likewise Samuel L Jackson, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones and many more.
I think Denzel is becoming the next Harrison Ford.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2002.
You know, the fact that Sidney Poitier, Halle Berry, AND Denzel Washington all won major awards lastnight, I think it makes it seem that they were GIVEN the awards just because they are black. I don't think it's fair to the three of them, OR to the others who really should have been awarded. And I think it diminishes the awards.
ANYWAY, I still think Penn had it in the bag. And wasn't that the longest most boring show ever? If it wasn't for Whoopi, it may have been unbearable. (yah I know no-one forced me to watch. I just kept hoping it would improve)
-- (email@example.com), March 25, 2002.
Samuel L Jackson ROCKS! He's one of my favorites of all time.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2002.
You’re right on the money Cin. It was very spooky, don’t you think?
-- Way (email@example.com), March 25, 2002.
Trust me on this, we do not think alike.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 25, 2002.
Samuel L Jackson is better than Denzel Washington any day, see Pulp Fiction.
Washington is just another Sidney Poitier copycat, a niggah suckin up to whitey and trying to show he is as smart as a white boy by always picking intelligent roles.
-- (Denzel@whiteboy.wannabe), March 25, 2002.
Yeah, Denzel really sucked up to Whitey in Malcom X.
-- (email@example.com), March 26, 2002.
Malcolm X was a whitey movie, designed to show the niggahs that it don't pay to be a smart uppity niggah. Just be a good slave or you might catch a bullet in the head. When Denzel Washington played the role he was basically showing the brothers that they better be good and suck up to whitey or they end up a dead niggah.
-- (yes massuh @ throw me a bone. an i be good), March 26, 2002.
And Halle Berry wins for her role as a white man's sex slave. I wouldnt exactly call that a victory for blacks.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 26, 2002.
I was proud of Berry and glad she won. But I have to be honest, listening to her sob every hour, on the hour yesterday each time the news came on got old in a hurry. :)
(Slow news day.)
-- Stephen (email@example.com), March 26, 2002.
Cin I agree with ya that Sean is one helluva actor.
I also agree with you LN; this is pretty much nonsense.
I didn't watch but heard that Tom Cruise gave a mini lecture on the pleasures we find in movies. Geez, let me tell you why what we do is so very important and then let's all reward ourselves for being so good at it. This self-congratulatory narcissistic behavior is harmful to children.
BTW isn't it odd that the most liberal group in America can find itself discriminating based on color and sex?
-- Maria (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 26, 2002.
We're going to sue the Academy and have the Oscar taken away from Berry so that it will rightly go to the next REAL black actress that earns it.
With DNA samples and genetic analysis, we believe it can be proven that a higher percentage of Berry's mother genes were dominant over her father's, therefore technically she is white, not black.
-- NAACP (email@example.com), March 26, 2002.
Not only is Berry at least half white, Sydney Poitier is married to a white ho. Poitier's children are mixed race mongrels, people of de mud.
-- (Street firstname.lastname@example.org), March 26, 2002.
Correction: We're not actually going to take the Oscar away from Berry, just the unjustified claim that she has the honor of being the first black Woman to win in the history of the Oscars. She's just another whitey. The true honor of that claim is going to have to wait until a REAL black womans earns it.
-- NAACP (we need @ 100% pure. niggah), March 26, 2002.
It’s important to remember that the “Oscars” show is an industry event that is staged for maximum entertainment value. The votes are cast by ‘industry’ people and have no correlation to the opinions of the general public.
Hollywood is run by the heebs and they decided to throw a few bones to the black community this year. Gee, what an amazing coincidence that Poitier, Washington, and Berry were all honored on the same evening.
Pre-ordained ya think?
Outside of that, all three of these actors are certainly worthy.
-- Send (email@example.com), March 27, 2002.
"heebs"? It just doesn't stop.
The Hollywood microcosm of miscreants heaps itself on us every year and we always bite. What's racist, what's antisemtic, what ever else is wrong with us socially gets defined annually by a bunch of people unworthy of our spittle. Amazing.
-- Carlos (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 27, 2002.
I now understand why Halle Berry won her Oscar. I rented Monster's Ball today...WOW!!! It was a powerfully moving film, although somewhat depressing. Thank goodness for the way it ended, because I was emotionally worn out by that time.
-- rent it today (don't let@the kids. watch), July 04, 2002.