"But I think that I never struggled as much as I did for this one for many reasons. "I think that it is the hardest script I've ever had to write, although I'm very young in my career," she tells Variety's Awards Circuit Podcast. I was very scared of the expectations that people had for my second film, knowing that "Raw" had found its success."
French director Julia Ducournau, who burst onto the world filmmaking scene in 2016 with “Raw,” admits it wasn't easy to come up with her latest film, “Titane.”
On the podcast, Ducournau discusses her journey to creating the new project and her struggle to connect with the main character. Listen below!
Because I want to keep on working. "I don't think it's something that's I have fully processed yet," she says. Maybe in retrospect, in many years, but right now, I do not want to yield under the weight of this too much. I was obviously honored is really an understatement." "And I don't think that I want to process it actually.
"So this is something that I struggled with very much I also struggled with my own expectations. "When it's your first feature, no one expects anything, because no one even knows you exist," she says. And so that was something that took a long time to find in me." As far as my second film was concerned, I felt that I had given everything I had to 'Raw' and I was afraid that I didn't have anything else to give to another film, and especially love.
Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. Michael Schneider is the producer and Drew Griffith edits. Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in movies. New episodes post every week.” />
So for me, it would be very interesting. I'm already very much action driven.") and much more in the episode. Ducournau also talks about whether she would write a script in English ("I think that English is a way more action-driven language.
But first, the Awards Circuit roundtable discusses “West Side Story,” “Don’t Look Up” and the upcoming Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations.
"Titane" won the Palme d'Or in Cannes this year, making Ducournau just the second woman to win the prestigious prize, after Jane Campion.

As 2021 comes to a close, television networks are announcing their New Year's programming, including live specials, themed episodes and more.
31 at 8 p.m.) — The 50th anniversary celebration will consist of five and a half hours of performances airing until 2:00 a.m. “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2022” (ABC, Dec. EST and gives viewers a look at New Year’s celebrations from around the globe, including its first Spanish-language countdown live from Puerto Rico. Details around co-hosts, performers in Times Square and additional locations will be announced closer to show night.
31 at 8 p.m.) — Country music’s biggest stars will ring in the new year from downtown Nashville across multiple locations. The special will be packed with performances celebrating the anticipation of a new year, with performers including Jason Aldean, Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan, Elle King, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Cole Swindell, Zac Brown Band and more. “New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash” (CBS, Dec.
“Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party Hosted By Miley Cyrus and Pete Davidson” (NBC, Dec. “Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party Hosted By Miley Cyrus and Pete Davidson” is executive produced by Lorne Michaels, Cyrus, Lindsay Shookus, Jesse Ignjatovic, Evan Prager and Barb Bialkowski. It is produced by Den of Thieves and Hopetown Entertainment and is directed by Joe DeMaio.” /> 31 at 10:30 p.m.) – This celebratory special, hosted by Miley Cyrus and Pete Davidson, will feature a lineup of special guests and musical performances.
30 at 2 p.m.) — New Year’s Eve plans shift and change, and although not everyone ends the night with a kiss, the celebratory atmosphere is undeniable, and love is in the air as Port Charles rings in the new year. “General Hospital” (ABC, Dec.
Read a full list of New Year's programming below. (More programming will be added to the list as networks announce titles.)

And as far as his concept in mid-1968 that country and rock music should go together, and then going to Nashville to record and do things along the lines of what the Byrds were doing — I mean, he was on the leading edge of it. Melodically, he was inventive. And I think he's every bit as important as Gram Parsons and Rick Nelson and the Byrds as far as what he produced and what he was going for.
When he enthusiastically pushed to do a Monkees farewell tour this fall with his longtime compatriot Micky Dolenz, he probably had little idea that the end was so close at hand, but certainly he and others knew that the window was closing on how long he had to put himself out in front of fans for any extended trek. In the future, when they talk about performers who did it all the way to the end, they may talk about Michael Nesmith, who died Friday of heart failure at 78. Monkees devotees who saw the first few shows on the tour reported some frailty, and yet he seemed to be getting a booster shot night after night, well before the tour ended in triumph at L.A.'s Greek just three and a half weeks ago. If anything involving a death could be said to have had something like a fairy-tale ending, this might've been it.
I was aware that he was quite ill the last several days, and I knew that he was going to be passing. We would not have gone through with what we did if we had felt that way. But it's only been this past week. It wasn't a situation where I was aware that he was going to die during the tour or anything like that.
Probably all the fans who saw him play with Micky in recent years want to thank you for everything you did to reunite him with the broader base of fans, on top of those who always stuck with him and loved him throughout the years.
Yeah, he changed quite a bit. That was a really important thing for me, and I learned a lot in the process. So in the end, trust was an important part of our relationship, and I learned to do the things that would allow him to trust me so that we could get to the finish line together. Every detail to him was important. He became far more benign in the last few years of his life. It wouldn't just be how a song is presented or how a song is performed, but how is the car being delivered to me? How is the shampoo and the conditioner in the hotel being left? And he used to say to me that that was a gift, both to him and to everybody else who dealt with him. And if he saw details that were left undone, he would lose faith. [Laughs.] Because he was so concept-driven and such a perfectionist, it was ultimately very difficult to work with him, because the perfectionism wouldn't just be left on the stage.
His official title with the group has been "producer," which has been appropriate enough; he did co-produce the band's studio comeback, "Good Times!," five years ago, on top of putting together their touring and other duties. Sandoval, who might be as big a scholar of 1960s pop music as there is, is not your typical manager. If every group had a personally and professionally invested booster like Sandoval, none of them might ever break up. After Nesmith's death was reported Friday morning, Variety spoke with Andrew Sandoval, who has taken on management duties for the Monkees and also Nesmith as a solo artist for the last decade. He's also been the group's biggest fan since he discovered them in grade school in the 1970s, years after they'd initially broken up, and he was both their A&R man and an author of books about the band before becoming a crucial force in keeping the surviving members working together over the last decade.
I think there's a lot of his career that people missed — his innovations, and things that I picked up on just doing research over the years. I found out he was also the first person to put a bar code on a record, because he was interested in how people got paid and doing inventory, and he felt that if all records had barcodes on them, you could easily scan in and out SKU numbers. Ran a thriving home-video thing. Had a prime-time television series on NBC, “Television Parts” (in 1985). Which is so contemporary, but this is something that he was thinking about in the 1970s. He did the show “Pop Clips,” which ultimately became MTV, and sold the concept to Warner Communications, and that was one of his successes. He then became a producer of music videos, and produced music videos for Lionel Richie and all these other people. Any idea, there had to be a concept to drive it. So he was a visionary. There was no idea that was just simple — there was always some nuance.
Did you feel like this last tour was more for him, then, or more for the fans?
So his death is a shock in that sense, because the tour work was really helping him. We had to end at some point, you know? But, you know, we couldn't be on tour perpetually.
He was a master of vocabulary. He was a very intimidating person, and most people were incredibly intimidated by him because he would be quite quiet and not communicative. [Laughs.] So after you went to the dictionary to find out what he had actually said to you, you could learn quite a bit being around him. But many other people were put off immediately, and he could cut people to the quick quite easily with a few sharp words. So I had to learn to just go directly and speak to him in a very direct fashion, which is why we got a lot done together. I mean, he was never a physical person; it was always verbal.
Everyone knew he was in fragile health in recent years, and yet it hasn't been a month since the end of the Monkees' tour — he was just in the spotlight, and doing well, at the Greek a few weeks ago. And was this a shock, or did everyone know it was coming? VARIETY: How are you feeling about Michael's death at the moment?
And the only reason why I went through the tour was: I visited him for several months prior to the tour and worked with him musically and listened to his voice, and I could hear that his voice was all there, and that when he sang his songs, it would be beautiful. No one got sick, and we made it through all the dates. That was heartening. The day that we were finishing the tour in Los Angeles, I looked at a video of him from rehearsal, and we couldn't believe it was the same person, he had changed so much and was looking so much better. So once we got down to the business of figuring out how best to help him get on and off stage, we were (up and) away. And it was. And after that time-out, moving more and more, he actually got better, not worse. And he went from not being able to walk a few steps to being able to come on and off stage with good ease.
And I kind of feel like it was more for him in that sense, that he got the opportunity to tell them that he knew and he cared about them, and that he liked the Monkees and he liked Monkees fans. It was not a scripted speech, but it was about his relationship to the fans. Each night there was a song he was doing in the show called “While I Cry,” which was from one of their obscure albums, “Instant Replay," and he would give a speech that varied every night. I think it was probably a mixture of both. And it was a really beautiful moment in the show. And I kind of feel like he wanted to finally say that he got it — that he got why they liked it, whereas he didn't always.
Yeah, in their adopted hometown, and at the place where the four Monkees had reunited in 1986 for the first time since ‘68 or so. There's a lot of landmark things about the Greek. So as far as the fitting cap to it, it was great.
And in traditional Monkees fashion, they defied expectation. But we did feel like we were playing out his ultimate desire to do things. It was a really intimate show. They didn't just retread things. And for the people who got to commune with them one last time, I think it's going to be a beautiful memory. And Micky was certainly supportive of him in wanting to be his partner and doing it. People that got to see the shows I think really, really got a lot out of it. They did a unique set list. It was a complete overview of their catalog and their careers.
I spent 30 years off and on working with him, and I'm going to miss him so much. So I'm at peace with that aspect of his life. I already miss him now. You think of the four Monkees and you think, well, who was the funniest guy? I wish I had more time with him. His legacy and his music were being appreciated by more people in so many ways than he ever thought it would be, say, five or 10 years ago. And really, in so many ways for me, he was, because his sense of humor was so left-of-center and just got right to the heart of me. I mean, he was just hilarious to be around — just funny stuff, all the time.
I remember seeing him do a Q&A with Micky ahead of an American Cinematheque screening of "Head" in Hollywood a couple of years ago, and it was shocking how comfortable he seemed to be embracing the legacy of the Monkees, after all those years in which people felt that, out of all the group members, he was the one where that was really not his thing.
So the idea of performing and being in front of people was keeping him alive, or giving him more reason, and so I felt no need to shut it down. And this past week when he was ill, he continued to ask about doing other dates: “Well, are we going to do this?” Because we were going to do that (cruise) and do a few of the makeup dates, like Savannah, Georgia, a date that we got shut down on because the local municipality said you can't have more than 500 people together, and we'd sold more than 500 tickets. Yeah. And unfortunately, things declined. A lot of people were quite cynical about the idea that we had added this cruise thing, because they had assumed the Greek Theatre was the last-ever date. I thought leaving it as an option was a positive thing, and when the offer came up for the cruise, he was quite excited about it, because he had never done anything like that and thought it would be kind of fun. So we put it on the schedule and hoped for the best. But it was just the last date on our schedule.
He was really much more comedic, which was fascinating. But, in fact, he was also doing a lot more zany stuff that he wouldn't normally do.
If I'm going to die, I want to die in California.” He went home to California, and he thought about it for some time, and then got medical treatment that he was ready to do when he was ready to do it. I believe that he needed further help with his heart. Ultimately, he declined to go further with what may have been needed, if that (was even) possible. We were on tour in 2018, and because of his Christian Scientist beliefs, he wasn't going to see a doctor regularly, but I insisted he see a doctor several times. And the doctors who were looking at him didn't have anything specific to say until we got to Pittsburgh, and then they said, “Look, if you go on stage, you might die tonight.” And so we pulled down the tour, and he went home. He said, “Well, I'm not going to get surgery here. He had serious heart issues and he had quadruple bypass surgery three years ago. But I can't say for sure what all of his decision-making was, to be honest with you.
And the Monkees’ “Good Times” album (their studio swan song, which went top 20 in 2016) — few other artists of his generation were having that kind of success … He died knowing that they were beloved, and he finally embraced what they meant to so many other people. I think he finally got it. and critical success, finally, for the Monkees, where they had been lambasted for decades; they were finally accepted. As a solo artist, he had played to his biggest crowd at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (in San Francisco) in 2019, and he was going from highlight to highlight, as far as performing.
maybe there could be no better way to go out than with an appreciative crowd in L.A. If there is such a thing as a good way to go out, headlining the Greek, in the last month of your life… at a big venue.
And in bringing him back into the Monkees in 2012, after he had been out of working with them from 1997 on, that was a big step for him to come back and really embrace that part of his career and reclaim it, which is what he did. He did a great job this last nine years as a live performer, after being an executive and doing all these other things. I just thought it was brilliant.
Is it possible to say what his specific infirmities were, or what his cause of death was?
When you ended the tour, was he in the kind of shape that you had faith that the cruise show could happen? When the tour ended, there was still a cruise booked with some other artists from the era for next year that apparently would have been the final-final show, if all had continued to go well.
That's the innovator side. Is there anything you would say most marked him as a songwriter?
He had that inventor image, among those who really followed him. He did have an image as the most serious of the Monkees, in some ways, despite you thinking of him as possibly the funniest.
What was your relationship like, and did it change along the way? Did you see him change as a person at all? What did you find him to be like?
And he was like, “This is really beautiful. The people who love this are really going to love this.” And he started to see it more through the eyes of his fans, of how they loved it. I was showing him a reissue of the first Monkees album that had just come out on vinyl. I really like it now.” And it was an amazing moment. He told me in his living room just a few months ago, before the tour, he said, “You know, I finally really have come to accept the Monkees’ music. He finally really felt that, and it lit him up, you know? And that was bringing him a lot of joy at the end of his life. Their joy was coming back on him. He was really comfortable in the end.
I feel him knowing what we were all on about all these years — I mean, that was the success.” /> Well, thank you.
There are a lot of us without his pre-existing health problems who felt like we got something knocked out of us from not being as active as before, so it's easy to imagine how hard it would have been for him to go from zero to 70, going into the regimen a tour requires. You mentioned how difficult it was for him to come back from having been in isolation during COVID.
It was a great celebration for him, to do what he had done in the past, and do it really well. So he gained a lot of strength from the audience and from performing. He had gone on tour, as was his desire and request to me for the last two years. He started out the tour where he could only perform sitting down, and then gradually got a cane and was standing up — and then for most of the shows, from about two or three weeks in, he was up for the entire duration of the show. He wanted to wrap up things with the Monkees. He really went out on top, as far as that's concerned. Lockdown had been tough on him, because he couldn't go many places, and he had sort of atrophied. So there was a real renewal with the tour. He completed very date and did very well, and in fact got quite a bit stronger. And also, he got to reconnect with a lot of friends and his half-sister and family members and other people. So it was a very successful tour. His final show at the Greek Theatre was before 5,000 people, and it was joy.
Were you feeling that the end was probably at hand, recently, based on what was happening that you knew of?
He became more idiosyncratic, but he was also a poet at heart and looked at lyrics in that way. “Tapioca Tundra,” which was a top 40 record for the Monkees, there’s no “tapioca tundra” mentioned in the lyrics. I think his sort of willful obscurity… So many of his finest songs, say, “Some of Shelly's Blues,” which was covered by Linda Ronstadt and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the song title never appears in the song, because he didn't want to do anything obvious, ever., so there was no chorus line that had that song title. Yes. “Good Clean Fun,” another single for the Monkees, there's no “good clean fun” in it.
I didn't think the time would run out so fast. There's always those hopes. [Laughs.] But it was a great time and a lot of bonding happened. We got to go through a lot of stuff. Not necessarily taking him on some long trip across America again. I had hoped he would complete some other projects he had talked about. But I'm kind of sad that… There is just never enough, really, you know? For me, there were other projects I still wished I could have done with him. I had hoped he would write more songs.
He was raised as a Christian Scientist, and he only sought medical help when it was absolutely necessary or when it was something that he felt still worked with his philosophy. SANDOVAL: Well, it's not a total shock, because we anticipated that he would pass at some point, and he has been in the hospital this past week, although he had come home, as were his desires. He passed away at home with his family, in peace.
Oh, and which Monkee was the wittiest? He also spoke frankly about what some might see as Nesmith's peculiarities — from his religiously based distaste for medical care to his perfectionism — and how these co-existed with the songwriting excellence and visionary qualities. was. Sandoval has an opinion on that. Sandoval shared his thoughts about the rapprochement that Nesmith had had with the Monkees' fan base after seeming to not care about it so much about the old days and ways at various points in his career, and what a heartwarming reunion with the faithful this last swing through the U.S.
He was fearful that he couldn’t make it — and we were all fearful whether we would get sick and die from COVID on this tour. We're not going to have the time to do it. We had already postponed the tour from the year previous, and it just felt like: We're going to lose the light here. And he really pushed it through, wanting to be on tour and do as long a tour as we did, which was two and a half months. He didn't show up for the first three days of pre-production rehearsals. It was extraordinarily difficult. But ultimately it was his desire to want to do it that pushed myself and Micky and the band and the crew to go through with it, because we knew we didn't have that much time with him — that we couldn't postpone it again.

Japan’s Gotham Awards winner “Drive My Car” and Norway’s “The Worst Person in the World” (from Neon) — both Cannes favorites — are also gaining traction.
ORIGINAL SONG
As every other year, the international film race delivers a vibrant field for voters to choose from, with some riding a strong wave from the 2021 festival circuit.
“Flee” can also grab noms in animation and international feature. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who won an Oscar for “Free Solo.” NatGeo’s lineup includes John Hoffman and Janet Tobias’ “Fauci,” Matthew Heineman’s “The First Wave” and two docs already racking up awards season kudos: Liz Garbus’ “Becoming Cousteau” and “The Rescue” from E. This category once again offers up an embarrassment of riches, with films such as Denmark’s “Flee” leading the pack — the Sundance winner recently won a Gotham award.
It’s another COVID-challenged year, with theaters still not running at full capacity and screening links de rigueur even as widespread vaccinations boost the confidence in getting back in a cinema. The Oscar shortlists hit Hollywood on Dec. Oscar nominations will be announced Feb. Critics groups are beginning to weigh in and some guild nominations are imminent. 21, with filmmakers and artisans alike waiting to see if their pics have made it. 8, with the ceremony taking place March 27. The films below have been gaining traction on the awards circuit so far, but given the contours of kudos campaigns, surprises can and will emerge.
U2 returns to form with “Your Song Saved My Life,” from, somewhat surprisingly, the animated “Sing 2,” in which Bono also voices the rock star lion, Clay Calloway. So many superstars to choose from in the category, it’s a feast for the ears. Beyoncé’s soaring ballad “Be Alive” from “King Richard” is the perfect end cap to an engaging and uplifting drama, while her husband, Jay-Z, enters the race with Kid Cudi for “Guns Go Bang,” from Western “The Harder They Fall.” Cudi pairs with Ariana Grande for “Just Look Up,” from “Don’t Look Up,” while Billie Eilish’s take on a James Bond hit single, “No Time to Die,” has already won a Grammy.
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DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
of an astronaut-alien encounter.
There are always some of the more unconventional titles, such as Romania’s Berlin hit “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn,” and France’s challenging “Titane,” which won the Cannes Palme d’Or but as an edgy genre pic, it wouldn’t be a conventional choice from the Academy; ditto for Iceland’s “Lamb.” Abortion drama “Lingui, the Sacred Bonds” from Chad could also gain fans for its nuanced take on a hot-button subject.
MAKEUP AND HAIR
Also in the race are “Bring Your Own Brigade,” from two-time Oscar nominee Lucy Walker, which revolves around a huge forest fire plaguing the world, and Texas border story “Missing in Brooks County.” Another crowd-pleaser is “Julia,” from Oscar nominees Betsy West and Julie Cohen (“RBG”) that Sony Pictures Classics is distributing. Music may overtake the shortlist this year as at least three strong contenders have electrified filmgoers: QuestLove’s “Summer of Soul,” which came out of Sundance on a rave wave; Todd Haynes’ Cannes-bowing “The Velvet Underground,” from Apple Original Films; and Edgar Wright’s “The Sparks Brothers,” from Focus Features. Prolific Amazon Studios’ “Mayor Peter” and “Val” are immersive portraits of public figures, while HBO Max’s “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” are quirky crowd-pleasers in the mix. Netflix’s “Procession,” about a group of survivors abused by Catholic priests, has started to gain momentum. Rita Moreno once again creates a memorable role in the Steven Spielberg version of “West Side Story,” so Roadside Attractions’ “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” (also streaming on Netflix) may see some more interest. That duo could also be nominated for Amazon Studios’ “My Name Is Pauli Murray” and if so, make history.
Other films that look headed for the shortlist include Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero,” a Cannes prize winner from Iranian auteur Farhadi (it also recently won the National Board of Review’s foreign language film kudos) that has Amazon’s backing in the U.S. Netflix plays another strong game this year with Italy’s “Hand of God,” from Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino, as well as Mexico’s “Prayers for the Stolen,” which won a special mention prize when it unspooled in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
ORIGINAL SCORE
The Neon (in the U.S.) release is an animated documentary that tells the harrowing story of an Afghan family that flees to Europe after the Taliban takes over their homeland could also score in animation and documentary categories. Another Scandinavian pic, Denmark’s “Flee,” has also been grabbing attention since it bowed at Sundance.
Among the buzziest ones are Kosovo’s “Hive,” which debuted in Sundance. Blerta Basholli’s directorial feature debut, distributed in the U.S. by Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber, won three big prizes at Sundance and it’s also the kind of film that voters love: a female filmmaker tackling recent history with a universal story and distinct point of view.
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INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
Since 2002, German submissions have either won, been nominated or made the shortlist 12 times, and “I’m Your Man,” this sci-fi romance starring a German-speaking Dan Stevens — and a Berlinale favorite picked up by Bleecker Street — could keep their record going.
The improvisational jazz-infused “Spencer,” or the mix of strings, horns and mechanical piano for “The Power of the Dog”? Alexandre Desplat (11 Oscar noms, two wins) is again in the mix for “The French Dispatch,” but that pic may have faded by the time voters consider contending films with more heat, such as “Being the Ricardos,” featuring past Oscar nominee Daniel Pemberton’s 70-piece orchestra invoking the 1950s of “I Love Lucy”; Dickon Hinchliffe’s score for “The Lost Daughter,” with its piano, Hammond organ and strings; and two-time nominee Carter Burwell’s ominous score for “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Never discount 10-time Oscar nominee (with one win) Hans Zimmer, whose music for “Dune” immersed audiences in the sci-fi worlds onscreen. Busy Jonny Greenwood (one Oscar nomination) looks to be a lock in this category — but for which score?
“The Matrix Resurrections” should follow in the franchise’s footsteps to an Oscar nom (and maybe win); ditto for James Bond’s latest, “No Time to Die.” “CODA,” with its story of a child of deaf adults, incorporates lots of everyday sounds, especially when the family speaks using ASL with audible slaps and the physicality of the language. Epic films usually figure into the race so look for “Dune” and “The Last Duel” to make appearances here, while films including “The Power of the Dog” (frontier life), “King Richard” (various sounds of tennis games) and “A Quiet Place Part II,” which re-created the same rules from the Oscar-nominated “A Quiet Place,” should get some votes. Musicals “In the Heights” and “West Side Story” should be sure-fire contenders for the shortlist.
The VFX wizards behind “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” created a new character, inspired by animals that use weapons in nature. The James Bond franchise is a perennial on below-the-line Oscar lists, and the VFX team behind “No Time to Die” certainly made a case for itself creating nanobots, missiles and other feats grounded in real life. Other films getting buzz include “Free Guy,” with its video-game graphics, “Black Widow,” with its climactic battle in the sky, “Army of the Dead’s” eerie rendering of zombie-ridden Las Vegas and “Finch’s” droid. “Eternals” plays a strong card with the Celestials and the Deviants, especially the climactic transformation of a potential world-killer into a placid island. “Dune” created new worlds, and its mix of practical and computer VFX is seamless, especially the interactions with the fearsome sandworms. This year, the shortlist in this category looks to be dominated by fantasy films and superhero epics. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” also created maps of water, moving forests, a hidden village, dragons and other fantastical creatures that seemed real.
Netflix’s “Robin, Robin” is a charming stop-motion holiday story. Disney’s sweet “Far From the Tree” is playing in front of “Encanto,” so is widely seen by voters, while “Us Again” is another getting more exposure than most. “Manoo,” from Baobab, is from Oscar-nominated Erick Oh. Short docs “The Queen of Basketball” and “Unforgivable” are gaining traction, while live-action shorts emerging include Annalise Lockhart’s “Inheritance” and Alexe Poukine’s “Palma,” both award winners at the prestigious Palm Springs ShortFest.” />
That said, these films offer a stunning range of artistic vision. The animated short, live action short and documentary short categories are hard to gage because often, shorts are hard to get to see unless you’re at a festival or other specialized screening event. Among the big players are Skydance Animation, debuting with “Blush,” a story
The transformation of Nicole Kidman into Lucille Ball is subtle, allowing the actor to deliver an in-depth performance — not a mimic — of the comedy legend. “Licorice Pizza,” “Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog” are all top contenders in which the period hair and makeup must be more natural and subtle, and thus could be overlooked. Both also transformed actors: Stellan Skarsgård in “Dune” and Jared Leto in “Gucci” disappeared into their characters with the help of makeup and hair. That said, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a strong contender, given that Tammy Faye Bakker’s love of makeup is iconic. “Cruella” has fun with late 1970s punk looks for Emma Stone contrasting with Emma Thompson’s upper-crust establishment look. Another period piece involving an iconic figure, “Spencer” should also gain traction here as the hair and makeup allow Kristen Stewart to fully become Princess Diana. “Dune” and “House of Gucci” lead here: the sci-fi epic conveyed the different cultures of its universe with inventive hair and makeup, while “House of Gucci” took audiences on a decades-long journey via eyeliner and hairstyles. “Being the Ric­ardos” is another strong contender. History was made earlier this year when Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win Oscars in the category for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” For 2022, the category anticipates not history-making but still transformative nominations.
Finland doesn’t have a strong track record with Oscar voters, but Juho Kuosmanen’s drama about two strangers on a train is expertly made and acted, and with U.S. distrib Sony Pictures Classics — which has an enviable track record at the Oscars — behind this gem, it could go all the way. Another strong contender is Finland’s “Compartment No. 6,” which bowed at Cannes and scooped the Grand Prix there.
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Once he went down the rabbit hole of a quick "facts about Betty White" Google search, Richmond was hooked. "Betty White: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life," published this week by Becker & Mayer Books," became a five-month intensive study on what makes Betty White so beloved as an entertainer and such an enduring figure in pop culture.
There's a fine line between funny and crass, and White never fails to respect it. Richmond, a former Variety reporter who has penned numerous books, believes White's authentic "aw shucks" attitude about herself and willingness to go for it with bawdy humor has been crucial to her staying power.
After World War II, she was destined to become one of Los Angeles' first television personalities as a co-host of the live daily program "Hollywood on Television," which ran for five hours on the station that is now KCOP-TV. "100 Remarkable Moments" recounts her experiences as a high school student taking part in experimental television broadcasts in the late 1930s. White truly grew up in television.
"It's uncanny."” /> "Unlike so many stars, the deeper you look, the more you find dirt on them. They really aren't quite the image they project. The further you dig into Betty White, the greater she gets," he said.
Richmond adds that good genes and good health have been another boon to Betty: "One reason she’s achieved all that she has is that once a performer hits a certain age, you become iconic and loved simply because you're still there."
White herself was unable to participate in the book. Richmond was pleasantly  surprised by how much he was able to learn about White from talking to friends and collaborators such as Candice Bergen, Carol Burnett, Wendie Malick, producer Ed. Weinberger and fellow "Mary Tyler Moore" trouper Ed Asner, who died at age 91 in August.
She knows her limits what lines she can cross. She doesn't think she’s all that. She does it with flair and sophistication." That's attractive to mainstream America," Richmond said. And she knows her brand better than anyone. "She's humble about it all. "She knows knows how to measure the room and the mood better than any entertainer I’ve ever seen.
When author Ray Richmond was approached to write a book timed to White's 100th birthday on Jan. 17, he questioned whether there was anything left to uncover about her sui generis life and career. Betty White has penned three memoirs and spent a lifetime in the public eye.
"You don't find many people who blend great talent and great humanity in so perfect a fashion," MacLeod wrote of White. "Everybody wants to be around her because she has such a positive nature, such a cheerful vibe. It's like she emits an electric current that draws people to her."
The book takes a chronological look at White's story over the course of 100 key moments, starting with the arrival of Betty Marion White on Jan. The family relocated to Alhambra, a suburb of Los Angeles, when Betty was 18 months old. 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Ill. to parents Tess and Horace White.
But what sets White apart is that she has stayed relevant and active well into her 90s, with a starring role on TV Land's sitcom "Hot in Cleveland," which ran from 2010 to 2015, and a co-starring role in the 2009 rom-com "The Proposal" opposite Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. White hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2010 after a viral campaign by fans to persuade executive producer Lorne Michaels.
All told, the collection of moments shine a light on a tireless performer who was born to be on camera. Some of milestones are well known and some are not, such as her assignment on New Year's Day 1955. White and Bill Goodwin hosted the Rose Parade for NBC by pretending they were watching from Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard when in fact they were at a studio in Burbank.
"What people love about Betty is how game she is for everything apple pie and America — and in the same breath she can swear like a sailor," Richmond said.
Richmond is happy that he was able to work with White's "Mary Tyler Moore" co-star Gavin MacLeod on the forward to "100 Remarkable Moments" before his death last May at age 90.
Later she was a pillar of NBC's "The Golden Girls" as the good-hearted Rose Nyland and  the sharp-tongued Elka Ostrovsky of "Hot in Cleveland." Richmond tracks the big leap she took through her success on CBS' "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as the man-hungry Sue Ann Nevins. Through lively anecdotes, "100 Remarkable Moments" details White's extraordinary evolution as an actor, host, game show contestant, animal advocate, pitchwoman, author, producer and friend to many in the industry.

MGM and United Artists Releasing's "House of Gucci" will take fourth. The Lady Gaga vehicle took in an additional $1.27 million on Friday and should bring its domestic total to $41 million through Sunday. "Gucci" has been one of the few adult dramas to connect with audiences during the pandemic, though it will still need to draw international audiences to overcome its $75 million production budget.
The film has conjured glowing reviews, with Variety's Owen Gleiberman writing that "there are scenes in Spielberg’s version that will melt you, scenes that will make your pulse race and scenes where you simply sit back and revel in the big-spirited grandeur of it all." "West Side Story" has been landing highly with various critics groups and awards bodies, including the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, and is expected to be a major competitor over this year's awards season. What's more, the musical has landed a coveted "A" CinemaScore, indicating strong approval from general audiences. A respectable box office performance over the next few weeks is certainly within the realm of possibility for the musical.
Spielberg's musical cost $100 million to produce and even more to promote, a hefty budget that the release will now hope to match by drawing international audiences and putting up impressive holds over the holiday season. While an opening around $10 million wouldn't spell out-and-out doom for "West Side Story," it must not feel like an auspicious first step for its production companies Amblin Entertainment and TSG Entertainment.
The comedy sequel has been riding the wave of good word-of-mouth since the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday. It should expand its domestic cume to $111 million through Sunday. Third place will go to Sony's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" with an estimated $6.4 million weekend.
In terms of the most optimistic future ahead for "West Side Story," look to compare the film's box office to other recent holiday season musical releases such as 2018's "Mary Poppins Returns," which grossed roughly 18% of its $172 million domestic cume in its opening week, and 2017's "The Greatest Showman," which took in a measly 7.6% of its $174.3 million domestic cume in its first week — an anomalously leggy performance. The disappointing numbers for "West Side Story" aren't unique amongst its genre. Neither of those releases put up particularly impressive holds over the subsequent weekends. Movie musicals have largely floundered during the COVID-19 pandemic, with "In the Heights" (an $11.5 million debut) and "Dear Evan Hansen" (a $7.4 million debut) both opening below original expectations.
The superhero film is now winding down its box office run ahead of next weekend's release of the newest MCU entry, Sony's "Spider-Man: No Way Home." "Eternals" should surpass a $160 million domestic cume through Sunday. Sticking around in fifth is Marvel's "Eternals," which is projected to land a $2.93 million weekend gross.
The animated adventure is projected to earn $9.58 million over the weekend, a remarkably small 27% drop-off from its previous outing. The third weekend of Disney's "Encanto" may wind up putting up some strong competition for the box office's top spot should "West Side Story" crater on Sunday.
Though "West Side Story" had a quiet debut on Thursday evening, collecting just $800,000 in previews, box office analysts were still sticking with original expectations for the film to bring in $10 to $15 million over its opening weekend. Now, it seems that the numbers will likely fall near the floor of that estimate, if even within them. 20th Century Studios' "West Side Story" is off to a slow start at the domestic box office. Steven Spielberg's movie musical grossed $4.1 million across 2,820 locations on Friday.
Elsewhere, STXfilms’ "National Champions" took in an estimated $120,000 on Friday from approximately 1,197 locations. 2022.” /> STXfilms is giving the football drama an exclusive theatrical release ahead of a premium video-on-demand release coinciding with the college football National Championship game in Jan. The studio is estimating a $320,000 gross through the weekend.
Based on the beloved 1957 Broadway musical, "West Side Story" was written by Tony Kushner and stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, whose passion for each other aggravates a gang war between the Puerto Rican Sharks and the white Jets. The cast also includes Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Mike Faist as Riff and Rita Moreno as Valentina, a new role created for this adaptation.

To coincide with the release of Sean Baker's acclaimed indie "Red Rocket," about a down-on-his-luck adult actor returning to his Texas hometown, Variety has selected the top 10 movies about porn stars.” /> But things lightened up considerably with the honest and heartfelt depiction of the adult films and the people who make them in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 hit "Boogie Nights," which earned plenty of awards buzz. Although pornographic films have been around since the late 1800s, even having a near-mainstream surge in popularity in the early '70s thanks to films like 1972's "Deep Throat" and provocateurs like Andy Warhol, major films about the pornography business took a lot longer to gain mass appeal. Early works, like Paul Schrader's 1979 "Hardcore," treated the industry as dark and sinister. From there the floodgates opened, from broad comedies (2004's "The Girl Next Door") to rom-coms (2008's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno") to complex biopics (2013's "Lovelace").

Steven Spielberg has a simple reason for why he made sure Latino characters were played by Latino actors in his “West Side Story” adaptation.
Also important, he added, “A lot of Spanish, but don’t subtitle it.”
And that’s what this is all about. It’s not about that. It’s about showing other people that it’s possible.” It transcends the pressure of comparison or any of that. DeBose recalled being a kid when she first saw Rita Moreno playing Anita in the original 1961 "West Side Story." “Representation, I will tout it till the end of my days because it really does matter,” she said, adding, “We get to give a new generation the same thing Rita gave us – the reality that there’s possibility of success.
If I can stand up in my authentic power that means other people can too. “I have to invite more people to the table. But if I don't do it, who will?" she said. DeBose also spoke about being openly queer in Hollywood. “There are days, being as public as I am, that it's a little scary. And I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m allowed to be here.”
Watch the full interview above.” />
Ariana DeBose, who stars in the musical as Anita, was impressed. “Huge, brave decision,” she said on the carpet. I’m so proud of us. We did it.” Looking at Spielberg, she remarked, “I’m so proud of you.


This is where we should have always been, but this is very important, especially in ‘West Side Story.’ We have to get it right. That was the most important thing.” “This is the way to do it,” the director said Tuesday at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. “This is the way we are in this world. It’s not that other productions didn’t get it right in their own way, but I just did not want to make this reimagining without complete representation [and] authentic representation from the entire Latinx community.

Paolo Sorrentino for “The Hand Of God”
6” Seidi Haarla in “Compartment No.
“Even Mice Belong In Heaven,” Dirs: Denisa Grimmová & Jan Bubeníček
"My Uncle Tudor," Dir: Olga Lucovnicova – WINNER” />
European Film
"Playground," Dir: Laura Wandel
Jasna Đuričić in “Quo Vadis, Aida?” – WINNER
European Actress
Jasmila Žbanić for “Quo Vadis, Aida?”
Julia Ducornau for “Titane”
“The Hand Of God,” Dir: Paolo Sorrentino
“Ninjababy,” Dir: Yngvild Sve Flikke – WINNER
Renate Reinsve in “The Worst Person In The World”
“Wolfwalkers,” Dirs: Tomm Moore & Ross Stewart
Jasmila Žbanić for “Quo Vadis, Aida?” – WINNER
Florian Zeller for “The Father”
“Compartment No. 6,” Dir: Juho Kuosmanen
Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt for “The Worst Person In The World”
European Comedy
"Bella," Dir: Thelyia Petraki
Radu Jude for “Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn”
"Lamb," Dir: Valdimar Jóhannsson
“Flee,” Dir: Jonas Poher Rasmussen – WINNER
“The Most Beautiful Boy In The World,” Dirs: Kristina Lindström & Kristian Petri
“Quo Vadis, Aida?,” Dir: Jasmila Žbanić – WINNER
Tahar Rahim in “The Mauritanian”
Florian Zeller & Christopher Hampton for “The Father” – WINNER
"In Flow of Words," Dir: Eliane Esther Bots
Check out the winners and nominees, voted on by more than 4,200 members of the European Film Academy, below:
“Taming The Garden,” Dir: Salomé Jashi
“The Father,” Dir: Florian Zeller
European Screenwriter
“The Ape Star,” Dir: Linda Hambäck
Anthony Hopkins in “The Father” – WINNER
European Animated Feature Film
"The Whaler Boy," Dir: Philipp Yuryev
Vincent Lindon in “Titane”
6” Yuriy Borisov in “Compartment No.
“Titane,” Dir: Julia Ducournau
“Flee,” Dir: Jonas Poher Rasmussen – WINNER
European Discovery – Prix Fipresci
European Short Film
"Promising," Young Woman Dir: Emerald Fennell – WINNER
“The Morning After,” Dir: Méliane Marcaggi
Franz Rogowski in “Great Freedom”
Žbanić also took home the Best Director award. Directed by Jasmila Žbanić, the film was named the European Film of 2021. "Quo Vadis, Aida?" took home the top prize at the European Film Awards on Saturday evening.
"Easter Eggs," Dir: Nicolas Keppens
“Where Is Anne Frank,” Dir: Ari Folman
"Displaced," Dir: Samir Karahoda
Other winners included "Flee," an animated documentary about the refugee experience executive produced by Riz Ahmed, which was awarded Best Documentary and Best Animated Film while Jasna Đuričić won the European Actress statuette for her role in "Quo Vadis, Aida?" and Anthony Hopkins took home the Best Actor award for his performance in "The Father."
“Babi Yar. Context,” Dir: Sergei Loznitsa
"Beginning," Dir: Dea Kulumbegashvili
Nominees, presenters and winners participated in a mixture of live, virtual and pre-recorded formats. Hosted by German actor Annabelle Mandeng, the awards were originally supposed to have been held in person during a socially distanced event in Berlin but with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 coursing through Europe a decision was taken to have a mostly virtual ceremony instead.
European Actor
European Documentary
Radu Jude for “Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn”
“Mr Bachmann And His Class,” Dir: Maria Speth
Carey Mulligan in “Promising Young Woman”
Agathe Rousselle in “Titane”
"Pleasure," Dir: Ninja Thyberg
European Director
Paolo Sorrentino for “The Hand Of God”
“The People Upstairs,” Dir: Cesc Gay