Netflix decided to unleash a veritable buttload of new movies this week, several of which are Certified Fresh. Choices range from Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey to P.T. Anderson’s ensemble drama Boogie Nights to perennial fan favorite The Shawshank Redemption, plus a whole lot more. Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix

 

Sunset Blvd. (1950) 98%

One of the best movies ever made about movies, Billy Wilder’s portrait of a delusional Hollywood has-been holed up in a decaying mansion is both darkly funny and deeply poignant, and features terrific performances from Gloria Swanson, William Holden, and Erich von Stroheim.

Available now on: Netflix


The Right Stuff (1983) 96%

Philip Kaufman’s Oscar-winning look at the origins of the United States’ manned space flight program stars Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Quaid.

Available now on: Netflix


The Princess Bride (1987) 98%

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright star in Rob Reiner’s witty and heartfelt fairy tale comedy about a pirate on a quest to rescue his long-lost love from an evil prince

Available now on: Netflix


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 92%

Stanley Kubrick’s thought-provoking space opus is a beautifully shot meditation on morality, mortality, and mankind’s search for truth. It’ll probably blow your mind.

Available now on: Netflix


Best in Show (2000) 93%

A fine example of writer-director-star Christopher Guest’s gift for improv comedy, this mockumentary about comptetitive dog shows boasts brilliantly talented cast.

Available now on: Netflix


Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) 93%

Through a series of real-life trials that might test the patience of any normal person, the effervescent Poppy (Sally Hawkins) maintains a smile no matter how rough life gets, to the consternation of her grumpy driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan) in Mike Leigh’s enseble comedy.

Available now on: Netflix


Boogie Nights (1997) 93%

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ensemble drama about life in the porn industry made a movie star out of Mark Wahlberg and benefited immeasurably from great performances by Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, Luis Guzman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and William H. Macy.

Available now on: Netflix


The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91%

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella stars Tim Robbins as a wrongly convicted accountant who befriends another inmate while serving his sentence.

Available now on: Netflix


Water (2005) 91%

This period drama from Deepa Mehta centers on a group of oppressed widows, one of whom struggles against societal norms when she falls in love with a young priest.

Available now on: Netflix


A Clockwork Orange (1971) 87%

Stanley Kubrick’s pitch-black satire, set in a brightly-colored but antiseptic futuristic England, features eye popping production design and a terrifically maniacal lead performance from Malcolm McDowell.

Available now on: Netflix


Mystic River (2003) 88%

Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, and Marcia Gay Harden star in Clint Eastwood’s drama about a Boston gangster whose life is upended when his daughter is murdered — a crime with echoes of another traumatic moment in the lives of three childhood friends on various sides of the law.

Available now on: Netflix


Inside Man (2006) 86%

Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen star in Spike Lee’s heist thriller about a New York cop who faces off with a clever bank robber who manages to stay a step ahead of the police.

Available now on: Netflix


Erin Brockovich (2000) 85%

Julia Roberts stars in Steven Soderbergh’s drama as the real-life single mother who discovered a utility company’s efforts to cover up water poisoning and took the case to court.

Available now on: Netflix


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) 83%

Johnny Depp stars in Tim Burton’s adaptation of the famous Roald Dahl novel about an eccentric confectioner who invites five children to his mysterious chocolate factory for a tour.

Available now on: Netflix


Dolphin Tale (2011) 82%

Based upon a true story, Dolphin Tale stars Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, and Ashley Judd in the — ahem — tale of an injured seafaring mammal who damages her tail in a crab trap. A team of specialists and a lonely youngster band together to help our aquatic heroine — now sporting a prosthetic tail — to swim again.

Available now on: Netflix


Elizabeth (1998) 83%

Cate Blanchett earned accolades for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I of England, who is crowned queen after being imprisoned by her half sister for several years.

Available now on: Netflix


Looking for Richard (1996) 81%

Al Pacino steps behind the camera for this documentary of one production of William Shakespeare’s Richard III, with actors such as Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder in the cast.

Available now on: Netflix


Bowfinger (1999) 81%

Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy (in a dual role) star in Frank Oz’s Hollywood satire about a struggling film producer who enlists the help of a celebrity lookalike to complete a movie on the sly.

Available now on: Netflix


V for Vendetta (2006) 73%

V for Vendetta tells the story of a near-future dystopia, where a lone freedom fighter named V (Hugo Weaving) plots a series of revolutionary bombings to bring down a shady, secretly policed government. Along the way, V recruits young, frightened Evey (Natalie Portman ), shaves her head, and turns her into a proper young revolutionary.

Available now on: Netflix

The Golden Globe seems to have done Sally Hawkins well. After winning the award for her part in Mike Leigh‘s hilarious Happy-Go-Lucky, having her name attached to any project seems to have become an instant arbiter of interest. As we meet with Hawkins in Cannes, where she’s announcing her role in new film We Want Sex, due to start shooting soon, she’s fielding interest from all the glossies as well as the usual selection of film mags and broadsheets — a sure sign of a star in the making.

Cannes 2009 - John Shearer/WireImage.com
Hawkins at the Cannes photocall

The film, which is being directed by Calendar GirlsNigel Cole (an RT fan, he tells us) and Brit producing favourite Stephen Woolley, is the tale of female workers in the Ford Dagenham plant in the late 60s who’d work long hours in terrible conditions while earning significantly less than their male counterparts. In 1968, when they’re reclassified by Ford as ‘unskilled’ they down tools and march on Westminster with improperly unfurled banners declaring, “We Want Sexual Equality,” from where the title originates. Hawkins explains more.


We Want Sex

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Can you tell us about your character in the film, Rita?

Sally Hawkins: Rita’s brilliant. She’s a fiery, feisty, intelligent and passionate woman in 1968 and she’s suddenly plunged into this world of politics. She’s a housewife, a seamstress and she’s working at the Ford factory in Dagenham suddenly fighting for equal rights and pay and leading this feminist fight in the 1960s.

How important were these women?

SH: Without these women at the Ford factory there’d have been no equal pay act of the 1970s and she galvanises the whole thing. It’s such a brilliant story and one that you think God why hasn’t this been told before? It’s so silly it hasn’t been told. It’s about these housewives being thrust into the world of politics on almost a global scale. Because of the strikes, and it wasn’t just a day strike as it started, they suddenly realised that the fight was much bigger. The more they fought the more they realised how important it was and this weight of responsibility and how hard they had to fight.

It rocked the whole industry and the trade unions at the time. Waves travelled across the world. In Michigan, at the Ford factory there, there was this fat cat sitting at the top of the tree realising this woman in Dagenham piping up was suddenly affecting his work. It’s a great feel-good movie because you realise that without these women the whole industry came to a standstill. They were making the head rests, the interiors of these cars, and so without these women there was no interior and Ford had an image to maintain. It was very skilled work.

Have you met any of the women?

SH: I hope to. I’ve just dipped a toe into the research, really, and now I begin. This is day one. I go back home and do all the work! I know Stephen Woolley has met some of the women, and Rita’s sort of an amalgamation of the many women at the forefront at the time. There’s a few women that were right at the forefront quite similar to Rita, and they talk about it just as passionately today.

Does it make it easier to have those points of reference?

SH: Maybe. I’m not sure it makes it easier, perhaps it’s just different. You still feel a tremendous weight of responsibility. You want them to be pleased and for their voices to be heard. You want to get their particular tone right, and that’s quite an unusual thing. I do feel there’s a responsibility there, and I feel very honoured to be asked to do it.

Will the experience with Mike Leigh help?

SH: I think it will. I can use that experience of being thrust into this world and being forced to think on her feet. It’s such an emotional story and it’s emotionally on many, many levels. Not just politically, where it sort of stirs you, and not just as a woman or for factory workers or workers in hard situations today, it just stirs the emotions. It made me cry when I read it, a few times actually, with joy and also the frustration of it. It’s relevant on a personal level and it’s still relevant today.

We Want Sex goes before cameras on 29th June 2009 and will shoot for seven weeks on location in the UK. RT will have more from the film soon.

Home video enthusiasts, prepare yourself for what may be the best week ever! This week you’ll have to choose between Academy Award flicks Rachel Getting Married (Best Actress Nominee, Anne Hathaway) and Milk (Best Actor, Sean Penn), plus a few films that should have been honored at this year’s Oscars (Happy-Go-Lucky, Let the Right One In). Next, consider a Certified Fresh comedy (Role Models), a Charlie Kaufman original (Synecdoche, New York), and a pair of period pics (Cadillac Records, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). We won’t judge if you give Jason Statham’s latest a spin (Transporter 3), but we do insist that Blu-ray viewers pay attention to a few key re-mastered releases (Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Edition, The Batman Anthology). Dig in to RT on DVD for more!

Rachel Getting Married — 87%


Anne Hathaway put those Princess Diaries days behind her with an excellent (and Oscar-nominated) performance as Kym, a recovering drug addict who powers her way through her sister’s wedding like a locomotive in Jonathan Demme‘s Rachel Getting Married. Director Demme, best known for making films like The Silence of the Lambs (and in recent years, the acclaimed documentaries Neil Young: Heart of Gold and Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains), lends the proceedings the feel of a verité film, his viewer another guest at the weekend nuptials; the script from Jenny Lumet (Sidney’s daughter) stings and warms in equal measure.

One notable DVD featurette examines the film’s eclectic soundtrack, which includes songs from Robyn Hitchcock (who performs on-screen during the wedding), and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adembimpe (who in a key role, plays Rachel’s fiancé). Deleted scenes, a cast and crew Q&A, and two commentary tracks highlight the remainder of the bonus menu. Watch an exclusive clip below.

Next: Watch Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning performance in Milk

Milk — 93%

Two weeks ago on Oscar night, a pair of acceptance speeches reminded us that sometimes movies are about more than just entertainment. Both Sean Penn (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor) and Dustin Lance Black (who won for Best Original Screenplay) honored slain San Francisco politician and gay rights advocate Harvey Milk, whose life and work became the basis for Gus Van Sant’s moving biopic, Milk. Penn, no stranger to politics, and Black, a Mormon-raised gay writer who thanked Milk for helping him overcome his own struggles, are just two reasons to pick up the triumphant, bittersweet period drama this week. (Need another reason? It’s among the best-reviewed films of 2008.)

Bonus features include deleted scenes and three featurettes on the real-life Harvey Milk and the intersection of Hollywood and gay rights.

Next: The best movie you didn’t see in 2008, Let the Right One In

A piece of future advice for 2010: don’t get caught buying a ticket to the American remake of Let the Right One In without having seen the original. This Swedish vampire tale, adapted by writer John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own novel and directed by Tomas Alfredson, is a quiet miracle of a film that, in this writer’s opinion, deserved a shot at the Foreign Oscar race (it went un-nominated by its home country). Part fang horror, part coming-of-age romance, Let the Right One In tells the story of young, bullied Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and his new neighbor, Eli (Lina Leandersson), a girl who appears to be Oskar’s age but in fact is a blood-drinking vampire who must keep her secret from the public eye; when her older human caretaker leaves (was he once, like Oskar, young and in love with Eli?) the pair turn to one another for help and companionship, captured poetically by Alfredson. It’s one of the most beautiful — and dark, and darkly humorous — films of last year, and a much-needed jumpstart to a genre that’s become reliant on mediocrity and gore.

Deleted scenes and a making-of documentary comprise a disappointingly light special features menu, but if sales do well don’t be surprised to get a commentary track on an eventual double dip.

Next: Catch Sally Hawkins’ infectious cheer in Happy-Go-Lucky!

Should British actress Sally Hawkins have earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a supremely cheerful school teacher in Mike Leigh‘s Happy-Go-Lucky? We say yes, but judge for yourself this week as the intimate, infectious film makes its way to home video. Through a series of real-life trials that might test the patience of any normal person, the effervescent Poppy (Hawkins, who workshopped the role with Leigh) maintains a smile no matter how rough life gets — to the consternation of her grumpy driving instructor, Scott (a hilariously on-edge Eddie Marsan), and perhaps, also to viewers. Only a few extra features are to be found here, including a commentary track by director Leigh, although one behind-the-scenes featurette in particular provides insight into the creation of the film and of the Poppy character, whose bliss is anything but ignorant.

Next: Raunchy laughs with Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott in Role Models

Role Models — 76%

Director David Wain has had a hit-or-miss career with his comedies (I blame that Stella sense of humor) but his latest flick, Role Models, is a solid combination of crass humor, strong characterizations, and dorkiness of the RPG-playing kind. Which is to say, I was sold. The Certified Fresh comedy — a rarity these days, unless your name is Judd Apatow — follows energy drink-selling buddies Danny and Wheeler (Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott) sentenced to mentor a pair of troubled kids as community service: sword-wielding LARP devotee (that’s Live Action Role Playing game to you non-nerds), Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, AKA Superbad‘s McLovin’) and foul-mouthed troublemaker Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson, who steals the show).

The DVD includes both the theatrical cut and an uncut version that runs three minutes longer, as well as a host of featurettes/deleted scenes/alternate takes. Look for Knocked Up OB-GYN Ken Jeong in a scene-stealing role as the king of Augie’s role-playing realm.

Next: Charlie Kaufman’s challenging Synecdoche, New York

If you’re a fan of Charlie Kaufman, chances are you’re enamored of the signature complexities of his screenplays for films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well, if you like those Kaufman flicks, just try to wrap your mind around his latest, which also marks his directorial debut. Synecdoche, New York tells the story of a struggling playwright (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who decides to mount his life’s greatest work — an autobiographical play with no ending — in a giant warehouse, casting actors to play himself and his loved ones until the whole thing takes on a meta-quality that will have you scratching your head well past the end credits. It’s impressive stuff, if fairly impenetrable; as Roger Ebert advises, see it twice. Four DVD featurettes, including a Blogger’s Roundtable discussion of the film with Glenn Kenny, Walter Chaw, Andrew Grant, Karina Longworth, and Chris Beaubien, should help you filter Kaufman’s opus.

Next: Transporter 3 the worst of the franchise, but hey — it’s Jason Statham!

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who actually want to see Transporter 3, and those who wouldn’t do it for a million bucks. (There’s also my kind — people who had to see it and wish they didn’t.) While the first Transporter (53%) is a straight-up pleasure, and the second (51%) is more of a guilty one, this third flick — directed by Olivier Megaton, who named himself after Hiroshima — is a slim imitation of a Transporter movie, and features the worst actress of the entire franchise (newcomer Natalya Rudakova, who was apparently discovered by Luc Besson on the street). But if you like the idea of watching Jason Statham fight baddies using a dress shirt as a weapon (all the while getting increasingly unclothed), then Transporter 3 might not feel like a complete waste of time.

Next: Beyonce, Mos Def sing the blues in Cadillac Records

If soul music is your bag, then Cadillac Records should be worth a rental; the biographical tale of Chess Records, the studio that brought musicians like Etta James (Beyonce Knowles) and Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) to the masses in the 1960s, earned decent enough reviews but critics agreed the light drama coasted on the strength of its music. Adrien Brody stars as Leonard Chess, the R&B-loving businessman who made it all happen; Beyonce, Wright, and Mos Def (as Chuck Berry) hit all the right notes in performing their own songs. Featurettes, deleted scenes, and a commentary by director Darnell Martin supplement the disc.

Next: Holocaust dramatics in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

A German boy befriends a Jewish prisoner and begins to question the Nazi way of life in this Holocaust drama, which drew mixed reviews from critics. While some thought it among the best films of the year, others criticized its execution and the decision to turn an event as horrific as the Holocaust into a parable. Deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and a commentary track by writer/director Mark Herman and author John Boyne, who wrote the original book of the same name.

Next: Pinocchio celebrates his 70th birthday on Blu-ray

Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray — 100%

It’s hard to believe that Disney’s classic adventure Pinocchio is already celebrating its 70th birthday, but what’s even more incredible is how good a job the Mouse House has done with this Blu-ray release; every single scene is a dazzling work of art. Disney’s remastering process has burnished the film with an amazing clarity and richness, so much so that watching Pinocchio again this way is like watching it for the first time. You’ll be swept away by the painterly details that the Blu-ray cut reveals — the way something as simple as an ocean wave laps against another in the background, or how the camera turns to follow Pinocchio walk up and down a street despite the medium’s two-dimensional constraints.

Fans of the wooden hero (or of Disney animation history in general) should employ either the new pop up trivia track or the “Cine-Explore” track featuring film critic Leonard Maltin, animator Eric Goldberg, and J.B. Kaufman. In addition to behind-the-scenes documentary features that cover all things Pinocchio, Disney has included deleted scenes (told via storyboards), production galleries, archival trailers from every one of Pinocchio‘s theatrical releases, games, alternate viewing options (including the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio), and, as with Disney’s Blu-ray titles, a standard DVD of the film. Wish upon a star for this stellar (and limited edition!) Blu-ray release.

Next: Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology on Blu-ray

It’s that Bat-time, people: time to sit down with all four pre-Nolan Batman flicks and revisit the franchise before the franchise, from Batman (69%) to Batman Returns (77%) to Batman Forever (44%) to Batman & Robin (12%)! Warner Bros. is releasing all four films to DVD and Blu-ray (each in their own 2-disc Special Edition), and though the set does not include either Batman Begins (84%) or The Dark Knight (94%) (or the camp-tastic 1966 version), keep in mind that a double and triple dip is inevitable. That said, if you’re a Batman completist and love the high def format, you’ll find that these remastered flicks look and sound good even one to two decades after initial release. Just watch out for those Blu-ray-enhanced codpieces.

A host of commentary tracks, deleted scenes, featurettes, and even a four-film spanning “Shadows of the Bat” documentary come within the box set, though there are no added materials beyond what has already appeared in the anthology on standard DVD.

Until next week, happy renting!

With a new role on the London stage, 17 year-old Georgia Groome‘s CV continues to go from strength to strength. After varied roles in the likes of London to Brighton and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, RT continues our Fresh Talent series by exploring her ever-evolving career.

Georgia Groome

She was 13 when she made her big screen debut in Paul Andrew Williams‘ affecting drama London to Brighton, and drew stellar notices from critics as a young victim of child prostitution. A few years later, and with a string of roles under her belt, Georgia Groome, who celebrated her 17th birthday last week, is preparing to take to the London stage and return to the medium that launched her career. “I started out in theatre and there’s no better feeling than the adrenaline of being on stage,” she enthuses to RT, “I start rehearsals in the next 2 weeks.”

The play is Tusk Tusk, from writer Polly Stenham (That Face). “Tusk Tusk is about a family of kids who are alone, the audience don’t know why,” Groome explains. “I play Cassie, the oldest boy’s girlfriend. She comes in and notices things are wrong. She’s a different part, not a street urchin or an eccentric; she’s just a really caring person that finds herself in a situation she can’t ever understand.”

No wonder Groome is earning the right to such well-pedigreed material. Not long after London to Brighton she was cast in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, the big-screen adaptation of Louise Rennison‘s hugely successful books from Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. With its bright production design and sweet comedy, it couldn’t be further removed from her debut in tone, and sent a powerful message about her ability to tackle a wide variety of roles.

“Playing Joanne in London to Brighton was my first taste of film and I loved every second of it,” she says. “Angus, Thongs was very, very different! Georgia Nicholson is larger than life and eccentric — the complete opposite of London to Brighton.”

London to Brighton
As Joanne in Paul Andrew Williams’ London to Brighton at age 13.

The tonal shift was matched by her mentors on each set, directors Paul Andrew Williams and Gurinder Chadha. “Paul’s main note was to never act, everything was real and raw, he would just make us do it, and if it wasn’t working we would do it again — differently. He also swore a lot and demanded 20p whenever I got something right! Gurinder is the picture of all woman – she’s strong and fun and ruled the whole studio when we were working.”

Both directors have cemented Groome’s passion for acting, and she’s determined to continue to seek contrast in future work. “I want to try everything I can, I want to push my boundaries and experiment with characters and genres that I have yet to try.”

She’ll next be seen on the big screen in The Disappeared, alongside fellow young stars Harry Treadaway and Harry Potter star Tom Felton. “It’s about child abductions,” she explains. “It’s deep and physiologically disturbing.”

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
Struggling with the conundrum of boys in Gurinder Chadha’s Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

For Groome, working with younger casts on the likes of The Disappeared and Angus, Thongs makes the process all the more enjoyable. “I think I’m even luckier that I can call these people my friends,” she tells RT. “We had a wicked time filming Angus Thongs, we all got on and it was like a playground. Aaron Johnson was a lot of fun to be around – I’m lucky to have worked with some of the best young males about, and I think my school friends agree, although I don’t think they are rating the acting skills!”

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and London to Brighton are on DVD now. The Disappeared is due for release this year. Tusk Tusk opens at the Royal Court in London on 28th March. On the next page you catch our full Q&A with Georgia and don’t forget to check out our previous Fresh Talent feature with Carey Mulligan.

From London to Brighton to Angus, Thongs, you’ve had the opportunity to play a variety of characters and it’s been a busy few years, how does it feel to be playing roles like these?

Georgia Groome: I have honestly had the best few years and I feel so lucky. Playing Joanne in London to Brighton was my first taste of film and I loved every second of it. It was cold and long and hard – being forced herbal cigarettes – what wasn’t to love? It was a great character, and an even better cast, I am so proud to say I am part of that little film that caused a bit of a stir!

Angus Thongs was very, very different! Georgia Nicholson is larger than life and eccentric – the complete opposite of London to Brighton. I thought after London to Brighton that I only wanted to do serious films, and that’s what my next few projects were, and then I met Gurinder and after a bit of persuasion took the part. Again, I had the best time, doing something completely different, I learn so much on each job, that’s my favourite part.

The Disappeared has yet to come out, what can you tell us about that film and who you play?

GG: The Disappeared is about child abductions. Matthew’s (Harry Treadaway) brother has been abducted and he has visions of his brother, then I get abducted and Matthew has to work out who is behind it. It’s deep and physiologically disturbing. I had a great time working with Harry, he is a fantastic actor, and one I would love to work with again. My part was quite small, but we filmed in Chislehurst Caves which was an experience in itself. The director gave us a lot of freedom and let us try new things. I hope it does manage to get somebody behind it because Harry does such a good job; it’s a shame when small budget masterpieces don’t get widely seen!

London to Brighton
London to Brighton

You work with yet another talented young cast on that film, is it good to be on set with younger actors?

GG: Yes, definitely! I think I’m even luckier that I can call these people my friends, we had a wicked time filming Angus, Thongs, we all got on and it was like a playground. The worst culprit being Gurinder, she liked to spread rumours and have a good time! Aaron Johnson was a lot of fun to be around, I learnt so much from him, and how he handles things and his approach towards a scene! I’m lucky to have worked with some of the best young males about, and I think my school friends agree, although I don’t think they are rating the acting skills!

Being on a young set means that I don’t miss home, I have friends and we can have a laugh, but at the same time, I loved being the only child. Paul Andrew Williams treated me as an adult, he let me make important decisions and listened to what I thought, sharing at least 2 of the scenes, not many directors would listen to a 13 year old inexperienced child but he did and it was a huge lesson for me.

Their films are vastly different, but can you share some memories of working with Paul Andrew Williams and Gurinder Chadha? How do they compare/differ in their approaches?

GG: They are completely different! Paul’s main note was to never act – everything was real and raw, he would just make us do it, and if it wasn’t working we would do it again differently. He also swears a lot and demanded 20p whenever I got something right! Paul is so supportive of me, he told me the other day on the phone that I’m not getting any younger and to try everything I can before it’s too late. He’s a great man, a best friend. To be honest I owe most of what has happened to him – he gave me my first chance. London to Brighton was a great project to be part of it; we are all so proud so what we achieved on so little time and money. Paul let me more than once decide how I would do it, he let me do it my way, how I thought it would work and in 2 cases this is how it is in the film. Paul is so cool, I can’t think of another word to describe him really!

Gurinder works a very organised, happy set, and I’ve generally found a happy set is good set! Everybody loves Gurinder, she radiates warmth, she’s open to talking things through and she would be very clear about how a scene would run and where the beats were meant to be. I learnt a lot working on a big budget film, money is time and we got to try lots of different things and cover lots of different areas. Gurinder is the picture of all woman! She’s strong and fun and ruled the whole studio when we were working. She kept herself on our level. Once, we were struggling to get a scene due to weather and Dick Pope — who’s an absolutely legend by the way – was getting agitated by the light as all DoPs do, and everyone started to get a bit stressed, as did me and Aaron who began to feel the pressure. So we went for another take, and all I heard was Gurinder, sat in a fluro-orange coat laughing so hard, because Aaron couldn’t get the fake hair out of my head (It really wasn’t budging!) Gurinder later told us she wet herself!

Do you have anything new on the horizon?

GG: Next for me is Polly Stenham’s [writer of That Face] new play. It’s called Tusk Tusk and we are putting it on Upstairs at the Royal Court. I’m very excited! I started out in theatre – unwillingly at first – but it’s when I started to get into performing. I’m scared to go back into it, but I know there’s no better feeling than the adrenaline of being on stage. I’m even more excited to be at the Royal Court – my drama teacher told me to look up the Court and see the list of people who have come through it, and wow! Also, Polly is such a talented writer, Tusk Tusk is about a family of kids who are alone, the audience don’t know why. I play Cassie, the oldest boy’s girlfriend. She comes in and notices things are wrong. She’s a different part, not a street urchin or an eccentric; she’s just a really caring person that finds herself in a situation she can’t ever understand. I start rehearsals in the next 2 weeks and the play starts on the 28th March.

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

Is there anything you haven’t done that you’d really love to do? Perhaps a genre of film or a type of character you’ve yet to experience?

GG: I want to try everything I can, I want to push my boundaries and experiment with characters and genres that I have yet to try. I would quite like to try a period drama, I like the idea of corsets and dresses and the period look of the films. I would love to do an action film and learnt to do combat and fighting, I’ve never worked with a green screen so that would be a good experience too.

What do you love most about acting?

GG: What I love about acting is being able to be different people and to live and experience things through someone else. It’s a great feeling and I learn so much. For me that’s important, to learn whilst I’m doing it. I’m like a sponge – On Angus, Thongs, I would spend long periods of time studying how Eillen (Kastner Delago) would do my makeup and even longer watching Dick Pope set up the cameras and work his magic. It’s nice that these people are willing to share with me what they know.

Dick Pope is so amazing, he is Mike Leigh’s DoP and I know I am so lucky to have worked and to have a relationship with him. I think that learning more about the art makes me a better actress, because I have an understanding of what’s going on around me. You appreciate what everyone else does and understand what is needed from you as an actress to make the scene work. Now I watch films and notice angles and lighting and special effects. I absorb the film rather than watch it. I love that I can do that.

Who would you most like to work with in the future?

GG: I would chop off both my arms to work with Mike Leigh – I love his films and the process of making and rehearsing his films. I’m a big fan of his usual actors, too. Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky are two of my favourite films. I’ve met him on a few occasions – once after a screening of Happy-Go-Lucky – a meeting set up by about eight different people including Dick Pope – and again at an awards ceremony. I would love to make a film with him; his films are true and interesting and look amazing. I would also like to work with James McAvoy and Jodie Foster. I guess that’s only part of my wish list too… I could go on forever!


Sally Hawkins Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com

After winning Best Actress from the Berlin Film Festival, the Golden Globes, and a score of critics’ circles for her ebullient performance in Mike Leigh‘s Happy-Go-Lucky, actress Sally Hawkins seemed a lock for an Oscar nomination — or in the least, a BAFTA nod. Instead, in this awards season’s most shocking oversight, the crowd-pleasing comedy only won Leigh an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Somebody call the Oscar police: Sally Hawkins has been robbed.

Before the Academy overlooked one of the most memorable characters and vibrant performances of 2008, Rotten Tomatoes met Hawkins in Los Angeles to discuss her role in the critically-acclaimed Happy-Go-Lucky. A broken collarbone had prevented Hawkins from her original press tour, but on the mend she had returned riding a new wave of awards season buzz; the excitement was palpable, and Hawkins — like her eternally-optimistic character, Poppy — was a bundle of positivity, thrilled just to learn that their film had gone Certified Fresh (it sits currently at 93 percent, among the best-reviewed films of the year).

Below, Sally Hawkins describes working with Mike Leigh (“creating characters out of thin air”), whose Best Screenplay Nomination surely belongs in some part to the devoted cast with whom he spent months developing characters and story.  This being Hawkins’ third Leigh film, the actress has keen insights on Leigh’s infamously focused filmmaking process (“he’s almost like a doctor…dissecting different worlds”) and volunteers that even his abortion-themed Vera Drake (in which Hawkins and Happy-Go-Lucky’s Eddie Marsan also appeared) would seem to the auteur a delicate mixture of drama and comedy.  Finally, Hawkins pays respects to the real-life Poppys of the world, teachers to us all.

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Happy-Go-Lucky is such an effervescent movie…

Sally Hawkins: It’s a lovely movie, I’m really proud of it. To think back to where it began, because it started from nothing…the way Mike [Leigh] works, every film he sort of starts from nothing and doesn’t have a script, or characters. You don’t have a character. You’re working in collaboration with him and creating characters together, out of thin air. It’s quite magical.

How does that process work? Does he start with an idea for a character first?

SH: No, he doesn’t know where he’s going to end up, or what it’s going to be about, or the journey that’s going to unfold. It’s both incredibly exciting and terrifying, because you just don’t know. He leaves it up to the gods, really. I don’t know how he does it; he’s extraordinary in that way, an extraordinary brain. Pulling all these different threads together to create a story, and an entertaining one, and an incredibly real, rich world.  He’s honed his process for over 20 years now and refined it. He’s interested in creating very real characters and going into their world, and exploring their world, and their minds, and what makes them tick. That’s probably why he’s developed the process that he’s developed.

He has described it as “investigating.”

SH: Yes, it is! Exploring. He’s almost like a doctor in some ways; he’s sort of dissecting different worlds and putting them up on the screen for everyone to see. He’s interested in unraveling; pulling a thread and seeing what happens.

Next: On comedy in Vera Drake, and Hawkins on Oscar-nominated writer-director Leigh

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Some were surprised that Mike Leigh was making such a departure from his previous work, films that are much heavier.

SH: When you speak to Mike about that, he’ll say, “All my films have a degree of comedy in them, and all my films have a degree of tragedy.” And that can be said for Happy-Go-Lucky as well. It’s not just up there, it’s about many different things — there are quite serious notes and serious subject matters. Because of the nature of Poppy and her energy, it sort of leans more towards positivity. Capturing that energy and that essence and that bubble…he’ll say that even in Vera Drake there are moments of comedy! Usually when Eddie Marsan’s involved. There’s the beautiful moment that’s both incredibly poignant and also incredibly funny at the same time in Vera Drake with Eddie; he’s very good at doing that dual aspect sort of thing. Happy-Go-Lucky is more of a comedy than of late, for Mike. But he’ll say that all of his films are funny and tragic.

Considering that much of the script and characters was improvised and workshopped by the cast, do you see a lot of Mike Leigh’s impact in this movie?

SH: You do, and I don’t think you can work with Mike and not. He demands so much of his actors. He demands you to sort of explore places that you wouldn’t necessarily explore — he’s sort of tapping into your brain as it were. Because you’re with it for such a long period of time, you invest so much in it. It becomes even more of a personal journey than it perhaps would with other films, because you’re attached for so long. You are asked to invest so much, and you do give so much. Mike, being who he is, puts his heart and soul into all of his films. Hearing him speak about this film in particular, he’ll say that this is quite important for him. I think each film he does is important, but this film is for him about so many different things, and ultimately about love, and what he thinks about love, which is rather lovely. [Laughs] It’s quite beautiful in that way.

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Is Poppy a character that Mike saw in you, and drew out during the film’s development? And do you think people like Poppy really exist?

SH: I would love to hope so, and I think they do. I think there are aspects of Poppy that exist in people. I certainly know people who have a similar outlook on life, and a similar energy. I think there are definitely people just getting on with life and dealing with it, especially teachers; because of the nature of their work, they have to. Dealing with kids. Good teachers. If they’re not dealing with life and dealing with kids in a good way, and in an upbeat, positive way, and being inspiring and creative and open, then they’re not being good teachers and they’re not doing their job.

Going back to the question of what Mike saw — I think she’s definitely a character and she’s definitely different from me, but there are different aspects of yourself that you stretch, and there are some that you repress. For each role that you do, you kind of go, “That’s quite like me, and I have no idea how I will be able to do that, but I suppose that’s quite like how I do this, and perhaps if I stretch that part of myself…” And sometimes you just have to take the leap. I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m just going to close my eyes and jump and hope for the best! With Poppy, there were certain elements that were easy, and certain things that I learned from her. I think she’s an extraordinary person. Although she’s up there, she’s incredibly grounded as well, which is what I love about her. She’s got a great integrity, and humanity.

Read more on Happy-Go-Lucky here.


Best Motion Picture – Drama



[tomatometer]MuzeID=1198041 [/tomatometer]

Slumdog Millionaire

Frost/Nixon

The Reader

Revolutionary Road

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy


[tomatometer]MuzeID=10009519[/tomatometer]

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Burn After Reading

Happy-Go-Lucky

Mamma Mia

In Bruges


Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler

Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road

Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn for Milk


Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road

Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie for Changeling

Kristin Scott Thomas for I’ve Loved You So Long

Meryl Streep for Doubt


Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Colin Farrell for In Bruges

Javier Bardem for Vicky Cristina Barcelona

James Franco for Pineapple Express

Brendan Gleeson for In Bruges

Dustin Hoffman for Last Chance Harvey


Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky

Rebecca Hall for Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Frances McDormand for Burn After Reading

Meryl Streep for Mamma Mia!

Emma Thompson for Last Chance Harvey


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight

Tom Cruise for Tropic Thunder

Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder

Ralph Fiennes for The Duchess

Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Kate Winslet for The Reader

Amy Adams for Doubt

Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis for Doubt

Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler


Best Director – Motion Picture



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Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire

Stephen Daldry for The Reader

David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon

Sam Mendes for Revolutionary Road


Best Screenplay – Motion Picture



[tomatometer]MuzeID=1198041 [/tomatometer]

Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire

Eric Roth, Robin Swicord for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

John Patrick Shanley for Doubt

Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon

David Hare for The Reader


Best Animated Film


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Wall-E

Bolt

Kung Fu Panda


Best Foreign Language Film


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Waltz With Bashir

The Baader Meinhof Complex

Maria Larsson’s Everlasting Moment

Gomorrah

I’ve Loved You So Long


Best Original Song – Motion Picture


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“The Wrestler” (The Wrestler)

“I Thought I Lost You” (Bolt)

“Once in a Lifetime” (Cadillac Records)

“Gran Torino” (Gran Torino)

“Down to Earth” (WALL-E)


Best Original Score – Motion Picture



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A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire

Clint Eastwood for Changeling

Alexandre Desplat for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

James Newton Howard for Defiance

Hans Zimmer for Frost/Nixon

The hardware won’t be handed out until February 8, but the winners of this year’s Boston Society of Film Critics Awards have been announced — and they’re all listed right here.

Best Picture:
Slumdog Millionaire and Wall-E (tie)

Best Actor:
Sean Penn, Milk; Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler (tie)

Best Actress:
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

Best Supporting Actor:
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Best Supporting Actress:
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Director:
Gus Van Sant, Milk

Best Screenplay:
Dustin Lance Black, Milk

Best Cinematography:
Christopher Doyle and Rain Kathy Li, Paranoid Park

Best Documentary:
Man On Wire

Best Foreign-Language Film:
Let the Right One In

Best Animated Film:
Wall-E

Best Film Editing:
Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire

Best New Filmmaker:
Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Best Ensemble Cast:
Tropic Thunder

Source: Boston Society of Film Critics

“Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Reader,” “Revolutionary Road” and “Slumdog Millionaire” battle it out for Best Drama while “Burn After Reading,” “Happy-Go-Lucky,” “In Bruges,” “Mamma Mia! and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” fight for Best Comedy or Musical at this year’s Golden Globes — the nominations were announced today.

Best Motion Picture (Drama)
1. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
2. Frost/Nixon
3. The Reader
4. Revolutionary Road
5. Slumdog Millionaire

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture (Drama)

1. Anne Hathaway — Rachel Getting Married
2. Angelina Jolie — Changeling
3. Meryl Streep — Doubt
4. Kristin Scott Thomas — I’ve Loved You So Long (Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime)

5. Kate Winslet — Revolutionary Road

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture (Drama)
1. Leonardo Dicaprio — Revolutionary Road
2. Frank Langella — Frost/Nixon
3. Sean Penn — Milk
4. Brad Pitt — The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
5. Mickey RourkeThe Wrestler

Best Motion Picture (Comedy Or Musical)
1. Burn After Reading
2. Happy-Go-Lucky
3. In Bruges
4. Mamma Mia!
5. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture (Comedy Or Musical)
1. Rebecca Hall — Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2. Sally Hawkins — Happy-Go-Lucky
3. Frances Mcdormand — Burn After Reading

4. Meryl Streep — Mamma Mia!
5. Emma Thompson — Last Chance Harvey

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture (Comedy Or Musical)
1. Javier Bardem — Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2. Colin Farrell — In Bruges
3. James Franco — Pineapple Express

4. Brendan Gleeson — In Bruges
5. Dustin Hoffman — Last Chance Harvey

Best Animated Feature Film
1. Bolt
2. Kung Fu Panda

3. Wall-E

Best Foreign Language Film
1. The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
2. Everlasting Moments (Sweden/Denmark)
3. Gomorrah (Italy)
4. I’ve Loved You So Long (France)
5. Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
1. Amy Adams — Doubt
2. Penelope Cruz — Vicky Cristina Barcelona

3. Viola Davis — Doubt
4. Marisa Tomei — The Wrestler

5. Kate Winslet — The Reader

Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
1. Tom Cruise — Tropic Thunder
2. Robert Downey Jr. — Tropic Thunder

3. Ralph Fiennes — The Duchess
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman — Doubt
5. Heath Ledger — The Dark Knight

Best Director (Motion Picture)
1. Danny Boyle — Slumdog Millionaire
2. Stephen Daldry — The Reader
3. David Fincher — The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
4. Ron Howard — Frost/Nixon
5. Sam Mendes — Revolutionary Road

Best Screenplay (Motion Picture)
1. Simon Beaufoy — Slumdog Millionaire
2. David Hare — The Reader
3. Peter Morgan — Frost/Nixon
4. Eric Roth — The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
5. John Patrick Shanley — Doubt

Best Original Score — Motion Picture
1. Alexandre Desplat —The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
2. Clint Eastwood — Changeling
3. James Newton Howard — Defiance
4. A. R. Rahman — Slumdog Millionaire
5. Hans Zimmer — Frost/Nixon

Best Original Song — Motion Picture
1. “Down To Earth” – Wall-E
2. “Gran Torino” – Gran Torino
3. “I Thought I Lost You” – Bolt
4. “Once In A Lifetime” – Cadillac Records
5. “The Wrestler” – The Wrestler

Nominations By Motion Picture Studios And Television Networks
Warner Bros. Pictures — 11
Universal Pictures — 9
The Weinstein Company — 8
Fox Searchlight Pictures — 7
Miramax Films — 7
Dreamworks Pictures — 6
Focus Features — 6
Paramount Pictures — 6
Paramount Vantage — 6
BBC Films — 5
Sony Pictures Classics — 4
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures — 4
IFC Films — 2
Overture Films — 2
Sony Pictures Releasing — 2
Studio Canal — 2
Pathe — 1
Summit Entertainment — 1
Village Roadshow — 1

Nominations By Motion Picture
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button — 5
Doubt — 5
Frost/Nixon — 5
The Reader — 4
Revolutionary Road — 4
Slumdog Millionaire — 4
Vicky Cristina Barcelona — 4
In Bruges — 3
The Wrestler — 3
Bolt — 2
Burn After Reading — 2
Changeling — 2
Happy-Go-Lucky — 2
I’ve Loved You So Long (Il Y A Longtemps Que Je T’aime) — 2
Last Chance Harvey — 2
Mamma Mia! — 2
Tropic Thunder — 2
Wall-E — 2
Baader Meinhof Complex (Der Badder Meinhof Komplex) — 1
Cadillac Records — 1
The Dark Knight — 1
Defiance — 1
The Duchess — 1
Everlasting Moments (Maria Larssons Eviga Ögonblick) — 1
Gomorrah (Gomorra) — 1
Gran Torino — 1
Kung Fu Panda — 1
Milk — 1
Pineapple Express — 1
Rachel Getting Married — 1
Waltz With Bashir — 1

Source: HFPA

This week at the movies, we’ve got suspicious spies (Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe), gridiron greats (The Express, starring Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid), underground empires (City of Ember, starring Bill Murray and Tim Robbins), and deadly outbreaks (Quarantine, starring Jennifer Carpenter). What do the critics have to say?

Troubled times inspire troubled movies, and critics say Ridley Scott‘s espionage thriller Body of Lies is brainier and politically sharper than your typical spy yarn. However, others say it gets too bogged down in action scenes to totally hit its mark. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Roger Ferris, a CIA operative who has tracked down a terrorist leader in Jordan; however, he must get approval from his boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), as well as the head of the Jordanian Intelligence agency. Naturally, machinations and intrigue follow. The pundits say Body of Lies‘ impressive pedigree goes a long way toward redeeming the film; it’s well acted and expertly crafted. However, some critics feel the story is way too labyrinthine and scattershot to be emotionally involving. Body of Lies currently stands at 57 percent on the Tomatometer.


“Dude, for the last time, you are not the king of the world.”


The inspirational, tragic life of Ernie Davis was ready-made for cinematic treatment: the first African American player to win college football’s Heisman Trophy, Davis set rushing records — and battled racial prejudice — before succumbing to leukemia on the eve of turning pro. Critics say The Express is a worthy big-screen tribute to one of pigskin’s greatest heroes, overcoming formulaic biopic tropes with sincerity and excellent performance. Rob Brown stars as Davis, an extremely talented but apolitical young man thrust into the harsh glare of history, and Dennis Quaid plays Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder, a man who changes as a result of his charge’s heroic perseverance. The pundits say The Express has plenty of solid gridiron action, and it exceeds typical inspirational sports movie fare with its heart and craft. At 65 percent on the Tomatometer, The Express sails through the uprights.


“I told you not to use auto-draft for your fantasy team!”

Set in a crumbling underground city that houses humanity after earth’s surface has become uninhabitable, City of Ember follows the exploits of two youngsters who find a magic box that provides clues on how to escape from the depths. The pundits say City of Ember has whimsy to spare, and should please younger viewers with its phantasmagorical imagery, but the plot is difficult to follow and character development is limited at best. At 46 percent on the Tomatometer, Ember doesn’t quite shine. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we take a closer look at the best-reviewed films of star Bill Murray‘s career.)


“Zuul will never find me here…”

It seems that Keira Knightley stars in every other British period piece these days. And, as The Duchess demonstrates, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Knightley stars as Georgiana Spenser, an ancestor of Princess Di’s, who becomes an 18th century style icon while navigating the rough waters of palace life. The pundits say The Duchess is a visual treat, and Knightly and Ralph Fiennes turn in excellent performances. However, some feel The Duchess is too frothy and melodramatic, and forgoes the meaty parts of Spenser’s real-life contributions in favor of obsessing over her frippery and fashion. The Duchess is at 61 percent on the Tomatometer.


Keira Knightley’s 346th birthday party was a pretty gloomy affair.

Apparently out of concern for critics’ physical well-being, Quarantine has been, ahem, quarantined, since reviews aren’t coming out until the day of its release. The film stars Jennifer Carpenter and Steve Harris as a television crew trapped in an apartment building where a strange outbreak of rabies is causing people to commit savage killings. Kids, guess that Tomatometer!


“This one-woman protest isn’t having the impact I’d hoped for.”

Also opening this week in
limited release:

Finally, we’d like to sing the praises of halose7en, who correctly guessed An American Carol‘s 14 percent Tomatometer.

Recent Leonardo DiCaprio Movies:

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