The Los Angeles Film Critics Association split between the space odyssey "Gravity" and the futuristic romance "Her," lending no more certainty to an awards season that's so far been full of contenders.
The two films shared best picture in the awards announced Sunday by the L.A. critics, but "Gravity" was the top award-winner. The innovatively made, lost-in-space drama won for best director (Alfonso Cuaron), best editing (Cuaron and Mark Sanger) and best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). "Her," which is about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johansson), also won for K.K. Barrett's sleek, near-future production design. But the critics otherwise spread its honors around.
Dual winners were the theme. Best actress was shared by Cate Blanchett for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," and Adele Exarchopoulos for the lesbian coming-of-age tale "Blue Is the Warmest Color." (The later film also won for best foreign language film.)
Best supporting actor was also a two-fer, with the group jointly honoring Jared Leto's performance as an HIV-positive transsexual in "Dallas Buyers Club" and, more surprisingly, James Franco's performance as the cornrowed gangster Alien in "Spring Breakers."
Best actor went to Bruce Dern for his performance in Alexander Payne's father-son road trip "Nebraska."
Early movie awards can help sort out the Academy Awards race, but they've been particularly varied this year. Last week, the New York Film Critics Circle named David O. Russell's Abscam fictionalization "American Hustle" best film. The National Board of Review picked "Her." The Gotham Awards elected the Coen brothers' folk tale "Inside Llewyn Davis" best film.
On Sunday, both the New York Film Critics Online and the Boston Film Critics named the slavery epic "12 Years a Slave" best picture. The LA critics also voiced its strong support for the film naming Lupita Nyong'o best supporting actress, and giving a "special citation" to the film's creative team.
Other awards included: "Before Midnight" for best screenplay, "Stories We Tell" for best documentary, and "Ernest & Celestine" for best animated film.
Last year, the LA critics chose as best picture Michael Haneke's aging drama "Amour," which went on to win the Oscar for best foreign language film. The association, a group of several dozen film critics, will hand out the awards in a Jan. 11 ceremony in Los Angeles.
Hollywood's awards season continues Wednesday with the Screen Actors Guild nominations, followed Thursday by the Golden Globe nominations.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake_coyle
A common adage tells us to keep personal and professional separate. Celebrities are somehow deemed exempt from this dictum, however, as evidenced by the 2013 music scene. Kanye West and Miley Cyrus -- easily the year's most headline-grabbing pop stars -- both had No. 1 albums while dominating the entertainment news cycle thanks to the eager devotees who loved to watch them run their mouths. We always knew the 411 on their personal lives to a T: a new co-Kardashian baby and engagement for West, a high-profile breakup and highly transparent coming-of-age for Cyrus. But, while we often absolve stars of the personal transgressions we so ravenously love to hate, we're seeing an indication that award-show voters -- the theoretical arbiters of annual quality -- do not. Case in point: West and Cyrus both came up short when the 2014 Grammy nominations were announced on Friday.
West, whose album's many supporters were some of the year's most vociferous, failed to score a coveted Album of the Year nod -- something he's racked up three times already. (Those noms came for "The College Dropout," "Late Registration" and "Graduation," but, shockingly, not for "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," his most celebrated album. Did voters actually cast him aside two years ago?) None of the "Yeezus" tracks made a dent in the top-tier Song and Record of the Year categories West is also accustomed to being a part of ("Jesus Walks," "Gold Digger" and "All Of The Lights" were all up for one or the other in past years, and it should be noted that each of those was more commercially successful than this year's "Black Skinhead," "Bound 2" and "New Slaves.") West landed spots in Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song ("New Slaves"), which is nothing to scoff at, but the rapper is quick to tout his 21 previous Grammy Awards, meaning he's done a bang-up job at making it seem inevitable that many more would follow.
Cyrus came up empty handed, nabbing zero nominations despite easily seeming like the artist of the year, at least in terms of general pop-culture sovereignty. Her album, "Bangerz," wasn't released in time for the eligibility cutoff date of Sept. 30, but her two massive summer hits -- "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball," also the year's most popular music videos -- were forgotten. Cyrus' musical prowess was overshadowed by her nonstop twerking and too-buzzy MTV Video Music Awards raunch-fest, so it's unsurprising she failed to earn Song of the Year, which honors songwriting quality. But no Record of the Year for either of her No. 1 singles? No Best Pop Solo Performance? She couldn't even get a shout-out for Best Music Video, which is where Cyrus' star shined brightest this year.
What happened? What fate met West and Cyrus, told them they weren't as imperious as they'd imagined and then left the naysayers to collectively chuckle? It seems Grammy voters may have soured on the overexposed pair, one of whom cemented his reputation for haughty interviews ("It's only led me to complete awesomeness at all times"; "I am the nucleus") and the other as a fan of spanking dwarves on television. When pop stars' uppity personalities overshadow what they do onstage and in the recording studio -- brilliant or otherwise -- we take notice. It turns out Grammy voters, whom the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says are "all involved in the creative and technical processes of recording," do, too.
After all, this year's top nominees -- Jay Z, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake -- all enjoyed (mostly) beloved years. Jay Z's album, "Magna Carta...Holy Grail," wasn't even that acclaimed, but his successful tour with Timberlake, second Made in America venture and never-ending love-fest with wife Beyonce and daughter Blue Ivy bolstered the rapper's persona, even while Lamar and Drake were being heralded as the new generation of hip-hop superstars. Lamar angered plenty of insiders with his controversial verse on Big Sean's "Control," but no matter: GQ still crowned him Rapper of the Year, and he rose above the Molly-induced noise to take a stance against the drug in his video for "B--, Don't Kill My Vibe." Macklemore may be the golden child of both hip-hop and pop, from the catchy smashes "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" to the pro-LGBT anthem "Same Love," along with a cheery demeanor that has done nothing to attenuate his esteem. Williams' and Timberlake's success speak for themselves -- they're charming, talented performers with longevity who can find acclaim for collaborations across all genres as well as within their own solo work.
And, lo and behold, none of them come off as antic-ridden, capital-letter Celebrities.
It's not that West and Cyrus should tame their personalities for the sake of awards recognition. No one adores a dull pop star. But each -- West with his words and Cyrus with her bawdiness -- presents him- or herself as though the all-eyes-on-me exuberance of celebritydom is reserved for the select few. (In West's eyes, that brief list includes the likes of Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and, of course, himself.) That's lovely for entertainment journalists and bloggers who pine for the zaniness of pop heavyweights. Where would Madonna, who also saw a surprising dearth of Grammy nods during the earlier, more controversial parts of her career, have been without insatiable coverage? But without a better balancing act from West and Cyrus, Grammy voters appear to have sent them a message about their behavior over the past year, and it isn't the worship they've expected.
The same goes for Rihanna and Lady Gaga, both of whom are riddled with bad press no matter how popular or acclaimed their music can be. Perhaps these artists should look to, say, Katy Perry, who's emerged as a victor in both realms. Her "Roar" garnered Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance nominations, and we've seen further evidence that she's the consummate manager of her personal image. Controversy can be lucrative, but it's as though West and Cyrus took such a dive off the deep end that they decided they were too far in to swim back up to the top. Neither was ever as egotistical or overexposed as they were this year, and although conventions may chalk that up to popularity, the Grammys have decided otherwise.
We can make all the arguments we want that the Grammys aren't relevant anymore. It's true, at least to a degree, that in today's music landscape, the awards don't buoy next-day sales like they used to, especially with genres expanding so rapidly. It's a given for most of the music scene: What mattered 15 years ago can be depended on for diddly-squat now. But we still pay attention to awards, as least peripherally, and we still hear the qualifier "Grammy winner" plopped in front of artists' names as if synonymous with royalty. Now it seems -- more so for the Grammys than the Oscars or Emmys, both of which illicit more campaigning -- that our dogged news coverage of the zeitgeist may weigh more heavily on critics and awards voters than ever before. In turn, perhaps the reactionary nature of our pop-culture criticism has become, in a sort of rebellion, more centered on virtue. When we track their every move, we don't want our pop figureheads to be pompous blowhards or vampy self-aggrandizers, no matter how talented they are. The coveted television interviews and magazine cover stories that a performer like Madonna generated 20 years ago aren't pivotal anymore, and when we're able to know what West and Cyrus are up to nearly every day of their lives, our critical lenses kick into high gear and, it would seem, overshadow the artistry these musicians offer.
Relevancy debates aside, props to the Grammy voters for recognizing that exposure does not equal popularity does not equal quality. I'll be the first to say that "We Can't Stop" is one of the year's best songs and that "Yeezus" is a musical masterpiece, but Cyrus' and West's actions have clearly been held accountable by the Grammy voters, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. We should probably all be more like Katy Perry anyway.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — The sounds of high-performance car engines filled the air Sunday as thousands of fans, friends and car enthusiasts headed to the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita to pay tribute to Paul Walker at the site where the "Fast & Furious" actor died in a car crash.
The memorial, planned through social media, was scheduled to begin at noon, but mourners began arriving hours beforehand to leave flowers, candles, stuffed animals and other tributes. Throughout the afternoon, thousands of people, including entire families with children, dropped by. Many arrived in cars built for speed, and the sounds of engines revving echoed close to where Walker and his friend died on Nov. 30. The event was expected to conclude Sunday evening with a cruise through the area 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Walker, 40, was killed when the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in smashed into a light pole and tree and then burst into flames. The actor's friend and financial adviser, Roger Rodas, who was driving, also died. Authorities say speed was a factor in the crash.
The two had bonded over a passion for fast cars. They co-owned an auto racing team named after Rodas' custom car shop, Always Evolving, and Rodas, 38, drove professionally for the team on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit this year.
On Sunday, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies directed often-heavy traffic as mourners passed by the crash site on foot and in cars.
The deputies set up a command post at a nearby high school, but there were no immediate reports of any problems. Authorities had encouraged attendees to obey all traffic laws, including not leaving memorial items in the roadway.
Many of the early arrivals parked in a nearby church lot, where they milled around and bundled up against chilly morning temperatures in the 40s.
Among those who turned out early was Edi Maya, a gardener who worked in Walker's neighborhood and said he chatted with the actor from time to time.
"I work next to his house every week, twice a week. Seeing those candles there, it's heartbreaking," he told KABC-TV.
Walker was in Santa Clarita for a fundraiser his charity, Reach Out Worldwide, organized for victims of the recent Philippines typhoon. The event took place at Rodas' shop, and the two stepped away for what was supposed to be a short drive in Rodas' car.
The limited-edition Porsche was previously owned by IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, who has said it could be difficult to drive.
Walker, the star of five of the six "Fast & Furious" movies, was the face of the franchise. He was making the seventh film in the series when he died.
Universal Pictures has shut down production while it contemplates how it might go forward without him.
"Teen Mom 3" has been canceled by MTV.
There had been rumors swirling that MTV would not renew "Teen Mom 3" for a second season, and it was made official when cast members tweeted about the show coming to an end. One of the moms, Briana DeJesus tweeted:
It's come to an end guys!— Dejesus, Briana. (@BrianaDejesus_) December 7, 2013
Teen mom 3 was one of the best experiences I ever had! I will never forget it!— Dejesus, Briana. (@BrianaDejesus_) December 7, 2013
Time to move on from MTV and do bigger and better things & no I don't mean become a porn star lol— Dejesus, Briana. (@BrianaDejesus_) December 7, 2013
It appears a romance is brewing between Harry Styles and Kendall Jenner.
The pair reunited in New York City on Saturday (Dec. 7) after going on a dinner date in West Hollywood, Calif., last month. The One Direction singer, 19, and the reality star, 18, were spotted leaving the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking district yesterday afternoon and were swarmed by a group of young fans. Security tried to escort Styles out of the crowd while Jenner kept her distance, according to photos obtained by Us Magazine.
E! News reports that they met up again later that evening as One Direction performed on "Saturday Night Live."
A source told E! that Jenner was backstage at "SNL" while Styles wowed the crowd, but that the duo did not attend the after-party, which was held at BBQ restaurant Hill Country.
Although the young stars have kept quiet about the status of their relationship, Styles did tell Piers Morgan that he and Jenner are spending time together.
When asked if he was dating the model, Styles said, "We just went out to dinner so no … I guess. I don't know."
See photos of Harry and Kendall in NYC here.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Friends, fans and high-performance car enthusiasts are heading to a Los Angeles suburb for a memorial for "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker, who died in a high-speed car crash in the area.
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies are anticipating thousands of people at Sunday's memorial. The actor died Nov. 30 after the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in smashed into a light pole and tree and then burst into flames. Walker's friend Roger Rodas, who was driving, also died. Scores of people were milling around the area 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles hours before the memorial was to start at noon.
Many people are arriving in cars built for speed, and the sounds of engines revving are filling the air.
Authorities are urging people not to break any traffic laws.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The "Piano Man" who became one of the world's best-selling artists of all time with such hits as "Just the Way You Are," ''Uptown Girl" and "Allentown" is being awarded the nation's highest honor Sunday for influencing American culture through the arts.
Billy Joel joins Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, opera star Martina Arroyo and actress Shirley MacLaine in receiving the Kennedy Center Honors. All of them have been playing music, dancing or singing since they were children — and have never stopped. Joel said the honor stands apart from his six Grammys.
"This is different. It's our nation's capital," he told The Associated Press. "This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me. It's a little overwhelming."
The 64-year-old musician born in the Bronx has been playing the piano since he was a boy, growing up on New York's Long Island. There was always music in the house, he said. His mother sang. His father played the piano.
Impressing girls, though, is what hooked Joel into making a career of music, he said.
Joel just announced a 2014 concert series at Madison Square Garden in New York "to avoid schlepping around the world," but he still plans to play concerts nationwide.
President Barack Obama will salute the honorees Sunday night, and top entertainers will offer tribute performances for each honoree. The show will be broadcast Dec. 29.
On Saturday night, Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the honorees for a black-tie dinner at the State Department. Kerry said the artists had blazed trails and redefined the arts and American culture along the way.
"They are loved by so many, imitated by some, but never ever can they be replaced," Kerry said. "We are reminded that the role of arts can also never be replaced."
Garth Brooks toasted Joel at the dinner, saying his legacy would live on for generations. He said Joel has a special talent for writing songs about everyday people, from steel workers in "Allentown" to soldiers fighting in Vietnam in "Goodnight Saigon."
"Music has a wonderful gift," Brooks said. "For those that do it right, they can put you in shoes that you would never understand if it wasn't for that song."
Santana, 66, a Mexican immigrant who began learning English from American television, is one of only a few Latinos who have received the honor so far.
Santana first picked up the guitar after hearing blues and rock 'n' roll on the radio. He has said his career is about bridging cultures and fusing sounds to create something new. He grew up with the Woodstock generation after moving to San Francisco, but is perhaps best known for his album "Supernatural." It won nine Grammys.
Kerry said Santana brought the beauty of Latin culture and its rhythms and influences to the American mainstream.
"We love the music you made, not because it's Latin, but frankly because it is so very American," Kerry said.
Hancock, 73, got his start at the piano at age 7 while growing up in Chicago. Soon he was playing Mozart and discovered jazz in high school. He joined the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963 and later set out to create his own sounds, fusing jazz, funk, pop, gospel, soul and the blues. He has won an Oscar and 14 Grammy Awards so far.
Arroyo found opera while imitating the singers outside an opera workshop when she was growing up in Harlem. Soon she was signing a contract with New York's Metropolitan Opera and had a breakthrough with "Aida" in 1965. She went on to star in the great opera houses of London, Paris and Vienna.
Opera star Jessye Norman said Arroyo, now 76, has a voice "that makes you happy to be alive, just to be in her audience."
MacLaine, 79, has been acting on stage and screen for six decades ever since she began ballet at age 3. Her film debut came in 1955's "The Trouble with Harry," directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and she won the Oscar for best actress for "Terms of Endearment" in 1983. More recently she's been playing a role in "Downton Abbey" on PBS.
MacLaine's younger brother Warren Beatty also has won a Kennedy Center Honor, making them the first brother and sister to both receive the honor.
Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat
Leann Rimes released the music video to her single "Gasoline and Matches" with Rob Thomas and Jeff Beck this weekend. Directed and filmed by Vine favorite Ian Padgham, the video was shot entirely on an iPhone, using stop motion animation. The video includes shots of Rimes and Thomas, but focuses mostly on the animation of toys, matchbooks, and a mini gasoline tank. "Gasoline and Matches" is the latest single off of Rimes' 2013 album, "Spitfire." Check out the impressive visuals below.
Ben Affleck knows the drill when it comes to the paparazzi, but he's sick and tired of his children being followed and photographed.
In a new interview with Playboy, Affleck shares his thoughts on being in the spotlight and admits that although he's fine with photographers following him around, he's not okay with grown men chasing after his three kids -- Violet, 8, Seraphina, 4, and Samuel, 1 -- with Jennifer Garner.
“You can say what you want about me. You can yell at me with a video camera and be TMZ. You can follow me around and take pictures all you want. I don’t care. There are a couple of guys outside right now. Terrific. That’s part of the deal. But it’s wrong and disgusting to follow children around and take their picture and sell it for money,” he tells Playboy. “It makes the kids less safe. They used to take pictures of our children coming out of preschool, and so this stalker who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested. I mean, there are real practical dangers to this.”
This issue is very important to Affleck and Garner. The actress teamed up with Halle Berry earlier this year to get Senate Bill 606 passed in California, which is aimed at protecting the privacy of the children of public figures. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, a paparazzo convicted of harassing a minor who has been singled out due to his or her parent's profession (famous actors, singers, reality TV stars, politicians, etc.) can spend up to a year in jail. Fines can also be imposed, including $10,000 for the first violation, $20,000 for the second, and up to $30,000 for the third. The law also allows the parent or guardian of the child being harassed to seek civil liability.
“My kids aren’t celebrities. They never made that bargain ... As their father it’s my job to protect them from that stuff,” Affleck explains to Playboy. “I try my very best, and sometimes I’m successful. The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it’s sweet. They don’t see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid’s attention.”
“The kids are always looking down because they’re freaked out and scared of these people," he adds. "And so they yell. Which is fine if you’re Lindsay Lohan coming out of a club, or me or any adult,” remarks Affleck. “With kids it’s tasteless at best.”
Read more of Ben's candid interview with Playboy here.
Amanda Bynes is sure taking advantage of life after rehab.
And that means spending quality time with her parents since undergoing in-patient treatment for schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder over the last four months.
Returning to normalcy is all about enjoying the day-to-day things, even errands, like going grocery shopping on a rainy Los Angeles Saturday afternoon.
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The guy who's being accused of punching the crap out of Barron Hilton's face this week has been ID'd by police ... and now cops are on a mission to crack the case ... TMZ has learned. Law enforcement sources tell us ... the puncher has been…
Susan Boyle has announced she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome sometime last year ... but says the whole thing has been one big blessing in disguise. The "Britain's Got Talent" star made the announcement Sunday with the UK Guardian ... telling…
The guy who played Goldberg the Goalie in "The Mighty Ducks" is accused of trying to PEE on his ex-girlfriend ... after allegedly punching her in the face ... this according to legal docs obtained by TMZ. Goldberg's ex Sonja…
Some deranged creep tried to make a quick buck off Paul Walker's death by selling pieces of burned bark he claims he took from the tree Paul crashed into ... TMZ has learned. The seller says he took 6 pieces of charred tree (pictured below)…
Clippers center Deandre Jordan faced off with an 11 foot beast this week in Los Angeles ... but instead of guarding it, he had it delivered to his home. Jordan hit up Mr. Jingles Christmas Trees in Beverly Hills to pick up an 11 ft. noble fir for…
Kordell Stewart tried to legally block Porsha Williams from blabbing about his personal life on "Real Housewives of ATL" back in April ... but she blew him off and trashed him anyway, TMZ has learned. TMZ obtained legal docs showing the former NFL…
If you're planning on throwing away shelling out $14.95 for Neal Schon and Michaela Salahi's pay-per-view wedding you can expect a Journey reunion ... but probably not the kind you really want to see.Ex 'Real Housewife of D.C.' Michaela has…
MC Hammer just got touched in a big way by Uncle Sam ... for failing to pay almost $800K in back taxes ... according to court documents obtained by TMZ.The Feds sued Hammer, née Stanley K. Burrell, and his wife Stephanie…
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