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10 of the Best Oscar Nominated Horror Performances

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Movie adaptations of Stephen King novels are nothing new, but expectation in the recent IT remake has been off the charts following early rave reviews. At the center of the story is evil clown Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard. His maniacal performance is on arguably on par with Heath Ledger’s Joker, though talk of an Oscar nomination is muted. After all, horror struggles to break into the awards circuit due to its low-brow associations.

However, over the years, several actors and actresses have broken tradition to earn their place among the Academy’s nominees and winners with some of the greatest horror performances of all time. Here are 10 of them.


Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise

Pennywise goes much darker in the latest cinematic incarnation of IT, compared to Tim Curry’s lauded performance from 1990. The film has bee garnering rave reviews and unprecedented box office numbers in its opening weekend, but can it translate the hype into nominations?

IT was released in the UK from 8th September 2017, co-starring Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard and Sophia Lillis.

Does Bill Skarsgard deserve a nomination?

Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of Silence of the Lambs was the last horror film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, way back in 1992. Among it’s awards was leading actress for Jodie Foster and leading actor for Hopkins’ iconic portrayal of serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter.

Featuring classic lines such as “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”, The Silence of the Lambs is revered as one of the greatest movies of all time, with Hopkins chilling performance at the center.

Kathy Bates, Misery

One of several Oscar nominated Stephen King adaptations was the tense horror drama Misery, about an author (James Caan) abducted by obsessed fan Kathy Bates.

The film’s only Oscar came from its only nomination, for Bates’ leading performance. It remains her only Academy Award despite two further nominations, but Annie Wilkes remains arguably her most famous role.

Sissy Spacek, Carrie

At the time Carrie was adapted for the big screen, Sissy Spacek was an established 26 year old actress. However her portrayal of the telekinetic title character was no less convincing in one of the ultimate vengeance films and an all time classic.

Spacek was nominated for leading actress, her first of many. In 1981 she won the award for Coal Miner’s Daughter and would go on to earn another four leading nominations, but her first is the most memorable the the actress was forever synonymous with the character, despite a tragic attempt by Chloe Grace-Moretz in the 2013 remake.

Piper Laurie, Carrie

Carrie‘s only other nomination was for Spacey’s co-star. Though Piper Laurie could only muster a supporting actress campaign, her performance as Carrie’s devoutly religious mother was intense and powerful, giving the film a compelling dynamic at the heart of a traditional supernatural horror narrative.

Though Laurie would not reach the career heights of Spacek, she does have three Oscar nominations to her name and was the star name on the Carrie ticket.

Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist

Banned in the UK for 25 years, The Exorcist gained unprecedented notoriety not matched since. For its time the film dared to cross boundaries and challenge taboos that cinema until then steered far clear from.

Like Laurie, Ellen Burstyn was a rising star but established enough to have a previous nomination to her name (The Last Picture Show). The Exorcist was perhaps the film that propelled her into the spotlight, as the mother struggling to save her daughter from demonic possession.

The following year, Burstyn won the Oscar for leading actress in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

Linda Blair, The Exorcist

Though Ellen Burstyn was the biggest name on the poster, by far the biggest star of The Exorcist was Linda Blair, who at just 15 years old was nominated for leading actress. Blair performance as Reagan would be so infamous and so shocking that she would struggled to break type throughout her career. It would be her only Oscar nomination.

Fredric March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Back in the day when horrors and musicals dominated Hollywood production, it was more common to see genre films among the big Academy Award contenders. Such was the case for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – nominated for three and winning leading actor for its star Fredric March.

March’s second leading Oscar would come 15 years later for The Best Years of Our Lives while his fifth and final appearance at the awards would be in 1952 for Death of a Salesman. March was one of the biggest movie stars of the early twentieth century, with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde among a slate of memorable and highly acclaimed performances.

Janet Leigh, Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock is horror’s most famous auteur. His innovative approach to filmmaking brought a roster of classics to life including RopeThe Birds and, most famously, Robert Bloch’s Psycho.

Based on the real life crimes of serial killer Ed Gein, many would assume if any of the cast deserved Oscar recognition it should be Anthony Perkins, the one-time Hollywood heartthrob whose incomparable characterisation of Norman Bates would ruin his career. However, it was Janet Leigh who earned a nomination for supporting actress as the hopeless Marion Crane.

Psycho received four nominations including for Hitchcock’s masterclass in directing.

Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Baby

During a time when Roman Polanski was allowed to make films in America, he produced one of the horror genre’s all time greats. Rosemary’s Baby was a cult film that sent chills down the spine of any expectant parents.

The film received an Oscar nomination for its screenplay, but also won Ruth Gordon an award for best supporting actress, after four previously unsuccessful nominations.

Sigourney Weaver, Aliens

In a film arguably more sci-fi than horror, Ridley Scott’s Aliens paved the way for movies led by strong female protagonists, thanks to an acclaimed and ultimately Oscar nominated performance from Sigourney Weaver.

It was her first of three nominations, while Aliens scooped seven in total, converting two for Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects.

Awards News

Black Panther Aiming For Best Picture, Not Best Popular, According To Chadwick Boseman

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It’s Hollywood’s worst-kept secret; Marvel Studios’ chief Kevin Feige wants an Oscar. And not just a technical Oscar either. Following in the footsteps of Walt Disney, Feige’s ultimate goal is for one of his movies to win Best Picture. With Black Panther being a cultural juggernaut, the producer-extraordinaire sees it as his best chance yet and has reportedly hired veteran award strategist Cynthia Schwartz’s company – Strategy PR – to push for the nomination.

However, The Academy themselves threw a spanner in the works last month, when they announced the introduction of a brand new category at next year’s awards ceremony: Best Achievement in Popular Film. With Black Panther presently the highest-grossing film of the year domestically, and the second-highest internationally, it’s the clear favourite to win in the new category (at least, to the best of everyone’s knowledge – The Academy have, frustratingly, refused to define the new award). However according to King T’Challa himself, Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, that’s not the goal.

“We don’t know what [Best Popular] is, so I don’t know whether to be happy about it or not,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter, “What I can say is that there’s no campaign for Popular Film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for Best Picture, and that’s all there is to it.”

“A good movie is a good movie,” the Get On Up star continued, “and clearly it doesn’t matter how much money a movie makes in order for it to be ‘a good movie’ because if [it did], the movies that get nominated and win [predominantly low-grossing, highly-praised art-house fare] wouldn’t get nominated; and if it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter on both sides. For my money, the only thing that matters is the level of difficulty.”

“What we did was very difficult. We created a world, we created a culture … we had to create a religion, a spirituality, a politics; we had to create an accent; we had to pull from different cultures to create clothing styles and hair styles. It’s very much like a period piece. … So, as far as that’s concerned, I dare any movie to try to compare to the difficulty of this one. And the fact that so many people liked it — if you just say it’s [only] popular, that’s elitist.”

Chadwick has a point – the gross of a film has never, and should not, affect a film’s chances at winning Best Picture. However, whilst The Academy has made clear that a film can be nominated for both Best Film and Best Popular (frustrating many members who have then rightfully asked what the point is), they have somewhat written themselves into a corner when it comes to Black Panther. See, through a very specific sequence of events, The Academy have manufactured a situation where the most likely events to play out on the night will be Damien Chazelle’s buzzy First Man, a movie with an all-white cast and crew, winning Best Picture… whilst the all-black cast and crew of Black Panther accept the new ‘separate but equal’ award for Best Achievement in Popular Film. Yikes.

Black Panther is available on Digital, DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K now, and is rated 12A.

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Awards News

Danny DeVito To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award At The San Sebastian Film Festival

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Batman Returns star Danny DeVito is set to receive the coveted Donostia Award, honouring him for his career achievements, at the sixty-sixth annual San Sebastian Film Festival this September.

“The award recognizes a career of almost five decades related to acting in theatre, film and television, telling stories as an actor, producer and director,” the Spanish festival’s organisers said in a statement, “The Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner is known for his roles in television series Taxi and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and movies such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, Romancing The Stone, Twins, Ruthless People, and Tin Men.”

“He has also directed – and starred in – hugely emblematic films, including The War of the Roses (1989), Hoffa (1992), Death to Smoochy (2002), Throw Momma From the Train (1987), Curmudgeons (2016), Duplex (2003), The Ratings Game (1984), and The World’s Greatest Lover (1977).”

The San Sebastian Film Festival will run from the 21st to the 29th of September. Danny DeVito can next be heard in animated children’s flick Smallfoot, which will premiere on the 23rd at the Festival.

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Oscars 2018

THE BURDEN OF OSCAR: POLITICS AND FILM.

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2017 was not overly kind to Hollywood. A drop in cinema audiences. Dismal summer box office. Increasing competition from the rise of Netflix and compelling television shows. Decreasing ratings for movie awards shows. Justice League.
And please, nobody even mention Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey.

In short it all went a bit Pete Tong for La La Land last year.
In fact the La La Land /Moonlight mix up at the Oscars in February now seems a rare bright spot in the 2017 tinsel town calendar. Reading out the wrong best picture winner? Light relief! Oh, how we can laugh now at a ‘wrong envelope mishap’ in the wake of #metoo and #sheknew

So, where and when did the rot start?
I’d suggest November 2016. On 8th November to be precise. Hollywood was tux and gown ready to celebrate the presidential victory of the woman whose campaign many A listers had funded to the tune of millions. However, 60 million Americans had a different plan. Enter the Donald!
The rest is outrage history.

Hollywood has since used Twitter, late night chat shows the press and most of all, awards shows to bash Trump……….and by association the 60 million who voted for him. 60 million potential movie fans.

Some love the political content of awards shows. Some are infuriated by it. But for many the politics has just got old really quickly. All they want from their movie and tv stars is entertainment. Yet the one industry that has the power to bring polarised communities together isn’t managing it. Nor does the entertainment media help.

The dumbest question on the movie red carpet in 2017 was one that was repeated the most, earnestly each time as if it was something unbelievably profound: what do you think will Trump voters make of your film?
Alexander Payne when asked it at the Venice film festival was one of the few who refused to be baited. He said he hoped that he made films for everybody. Unfortunately for him, his film Downsizing didn’t exactly please everybody but at least he recognised that his role is as a filmmaker not political campaigner. Similarly, while other stars have lost fans due to their relentless political tirades, Frances McDormand has been gaining them by being funny, entertaining and making it clear that her politics are her private business. But Payne and McDormand are rare. Too many stars and filmmakers take the media bait or can’t resist lecturing the world on the cause du jour when it isn’t the time and place to do so.

That is the issue. There is a time and place to make earnest speeches, to berate, to demand change, to highlight injustice. The Oscars podium isn’t it.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Oscars. It was a terrific experience. It was everything I’d imagined the Oscars to be; glamorous, fun, starry and an escape from the norm. The dresses were colourful and gorgeous. The jokes were funny. Everyone was out to party!
Was it frivolous, unreal and superficial. Yep. And it was all the more wonderful for that because I’d come to the event from conducting a 15 day case in the High court about a paedophile ring. So I know about the real world, thank you. And so do the millions who watch the Oscars on television around the world. The Oscars is their escape from the real world, as it was mine.

Yes, the Oscars has always been political to a degree; Marlon Brando sending a Native American woman to collect his Oscar for The Godfather, Michael Moore leading the charge against President Bush and the Iraq war, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon highlighting Haiti and many more issues. But those were moments in a lengthy ceremony. The rest of the show remained light and fun. The atmosphere overall wasn’t somber, even funereal. In the last 3-4 years the politics has completely overshadowed the films and the film stars.

The Oscars now seems to be first about race, sexuality, political affiliation, hashtag movements with the actual work second.

The #oscarssowhite in 2016 campaign was the first year that I can remember when a cause dominated the coverage, pushing the films and actors in contention for the awards out of the limelight. But it has continued. Last year the subject was President Trump. This year it’s #metoo and #TimesUp.
Around Oscar time I get asked 3 main questions: which of the nominated films do I recommend? Who do I think will win? Who had the best dress?

The first suggests that being nominated/winning really does help a film’s box office. And since the Oscars is essentially an industry event at which the film business shows off its wares, that’s a good thing. The second shows that humans are a competitive lot at heart. It’s why we love sport. No one truly likes ‘participation prizes’. We want there to be a ‘best’ so we can endlessly argue about it for evermore afterwards.
And yes, the third question is every bit as legitimate as the first two. Hollywood is the epitome of glamour. Fashion is big business that employs many people. The Oscars brings the two together on a world stage. And yes, women get asked about their dresses because it’s what many people tune in to see. The men’s tuxedos are the same each year. They aren’t the draw.
Funnily, the questions that don’t crop up are ‘what does Chris Hemsworth think about Brexit’ or ‘ What are Rebel Wilson’s views on the fiscal crisis’.
Maybe, just maybe, people don’t really care.

As I write this, some media outlets are reporting that Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster will present the best actress award this year instead of Casey Affleck. He withdrew recently from the tradition of the previous best actor winner presenting the new best actress winner with her gong, most likely, because he didn’t want or need the media coverage that would have dogged him in respect of allegations of sexual misconduct which were subject to an agreement between him and two women. None of the trio are legally allowed to speak publicly about the agreement. No one outside their respective close circles and legal advisers knows what the terms of the agreement were. Affleck could have agreed terms because he’s guilty as hell and didn’t want a court trial to prove it. The women could have been lying through their teeth and didn’t want a court trial to prove it.

Or, you know, the truth could lie somewhere in the middle. As it often does. Point is, we will never know.

That, of course didn’t stop hysterical speculation last year on social media of what Casey Affleck was ‘definitely, absolutely, 100% guilty of” – because – wait for it- he always plays creepy guys on screen! And it wouldn’t have stopped it this year, specially in the wake of #metoo. So Affleck stepped aside.

If it’s true that Lawrence and Foster will replace him, has the Academy really thought it through? What’s the message here:

That it takes two women to replace one man?

That there are no men left in Hollywood who can even safely present a woman with an award?

That only women can present an award to a woman because gender segregation is where we’re at in 2018??!!

See, this is what happens when you add politics to the mix. You may think you’re doing something right but it can come out all wrong.

On Oscar night on Sunday, armed police and security guards will protect stars who will go on stage and speak passionately against guns. Actresses who cheered and gave standing ovations to convicted child rapist Roman Polanski will now speak passionately against sexual predators. The list is endless of hypocrisies Hollywood can be called out for, so the wise thing to do might be to leave politics outside the door and, you know, entertain on the biggest night of the glamour industry.

However, I’m not betting on it.

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