On Sunday night, the Screen Actors Guild gathered its members at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium for its annual celebration of their shared craft, a delightful ceremony free of the annoying focus-pulling that plagues awards shows that insist on handing out statuettes to the unwashed masses who scratch out a living on the wrong side of the camera. Unfortunately, not every SAG Awards nominee gets to take home the coveted Actor, the highest honor thespians can receive from their brothers- and sisters-in-arms; for every five stars receiving the validation of a nomination, four will find themselves confronted with the challenge of making gritted teeth seem like a smile, and white-hot jealousy like warm magnanimity as the cameras mercilessly probe their reactions for any sign of disappointment. And so here we are, the morning after the Saggies (they don't call them the Saggies, but they should), to relive last night's victories through the faces of the defeated. When you're this good at your job, you can make misery look a lot like triumph. Well, most of the time.
On Christmas Day, in the year of our Lord 2012, Tom Hooper's film adaptation of the Broadway musical Les MisÚrables arrives in cinemas across the nation. Grantland staffers Rembert Browne and Emily Yoshida chose to open their presents early this year, and have already seen it in special Hollywood-type screenings. You may think that is unfair, but they love Les MisÚrables more than you do. Here's what they thought of the movie:
Rembert Browne: The only appropriate way for both of us to start our discussion of Les MisÚrables the film, is to begin with disclaimers. Mine: I have seen many musicals, am a fan of musicals, participated in musicals, and Les Mis is my favorite of all time. By a landslide. Another disclaimer: After performing the musical in 10th grade, not a single word has left this surprisingly not-steel-trap of a brain I am host to. Final disclaimer: Emotion is a thing I feel. A lot.
OK, your turn, Yoshida. Feel free to make me look less like a freak.
Emily Yoshida: OK, here goes. My lifelong love affair with Les MisÚrables started in 1995 when PBS aired the 10th Anniversary Concert on Great Performances during a pledge drive. Now, this may shock you, Rem, but I was kind of a big musical theater fan around that time. Still, my love of Les Mis is the only part of that I will openly, publicly admit to, if only because it feels actually really important and relevant to who I am now as a person. I wish that were a hyperbolic statement, but I don't think it is.
Kate Middleton Is Pregnant: "Royal-watchers all around the globe had been on tenterhooks for months." THAT SOUNDS UNCOMFORTABLE. "At long last, Will and Kate are expecting a little prince or princess!" While they were hoping to keep the story under wraps until Kate was 12 weeks along, and release the news on Christmas Day, it came out early when Middleton was admitted to a hospital for morning sickness. Nevertheless, "William and Kate are elated." They started trying in September, "once their Malaria medication has run its course" after their "royal tour of Southeast Asia." The holy "VIP baby leapfrogs Harry to become third in line for the throne behind William and his father." A nursery "is in the early stages" as the couple continue with their move into Kensington Palace. Get ready to hear all about the future royal baby for months from weirdo superfans.
A few years back, when Channing Tatum's early days as a stripper in a Florida male revue were first revealed, snickers abounded. "It's nothing I'm ashamed of, and I'm not proud of it, either," Tatum explained about his days booty-popping and thong-dropping; a nation responded with a dismissive hand pat and a smug, "Sure thing, Channing. Sure thing." This week, though, sees the unlikely triumph at the end of Tatum's stripper saga. Magic Mike, the movie he developed with director Steven Soderbergh about his nudie-bar days, is landing in theaters today with love both from the critics (Rotten Tomatoes: 82 percent) and the masses, who are projected to push the $7 million production to an opening in the $25 million range.
So here's the question: Knowing that Hollywood is nothing but a lover of the tried-and-true, wouldn't it now make sense to repeat the Magic Mike formula? A bankable, likable star + their unlikely, sort-of-crappy pre-fame job + an effectively dramatic script about striving to make it out = Hollywood gold. Wouldn't you like to see Hugh Jackman revisit his days as a children’s birthday party clown? Or Jon Hamm return to his past as a Skinemax set dresser? In hopes of getting this Magic Mike mini-genre jump-started, Grantland has taken the liberty of visualizing the plots for five possible iterations. Ayo, big-time Hollywood producers? These are on the house.
Following the lead of his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner, Eddie Murphy has dropped out of his gig as host of next February's Oscars, leaving the Academy with just over three months to find a replacement. Who should they go with? We polled the Grantland staff and have a few suggestions.
In theaters today: Real Steel, the world's first-ever robot boxing movie. Just when he thought he was fresh out of chances, Hugh Jackman reconciles with his estranged son and together they take Atom, the little robot that could, all the way to the World Robot Boxing championship. It's ... it's kind of the best? Ridiculous, but fully self-aware, and full-on heart-warming. Amos Barshad and Vulture's Logan Hill were so moved, they had to talk it out.
It's a blight on Hollywood's good name that they've taken this long to provide us with a movie about boxing robots. Arriving in theaters on Friday is Shawn Levy's Real Steel, in which Hugh Jackman stars as an absentee dad who bonds with his young son (Dakota Goyo) as they train an eight-foot automaton to compete for a championship belt. Two Sundays ago, we spoke with Jackman at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills about dropping weight for the role and the most important thing Sugar Ray Leonard taught him about robots.
It had long been assumed that J.J. Abrams would return to directing duties on the sequel to his 2009 smash Star Trek reboot — and now it’s confirmed. The script is going to be wrapped up by the end of the month, and the movie starts shooting this winter. Apparently Abrams waited to make it official until Alex Kurtzman (the co-writer, alongside Roberto Orci, of the first movie) finished work on his directorial debut Welcome To People and could return to the screenplay full time. Another reason Abrams took so long to commit: He was spending a lot of that time trying, ineffectively, to come up with a hilarious sequel subtitle. Grade: A [Vulture]
Movie star Hugh Jackman will revisit his past glories on the stage with a limited-run show running this fall called Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, featuring an 18-piece orchestra, musical numbers, and personal anecdotes. The first anecdote Jackman will tell will be about what Professor X is like in real life. Grade: A- [Variety]
Russell Crowe has officially joined the Les MisÚrables movie, playing Javert opposite Hugh Jackman, who’s starring as Jean Valjean. The King’s Speech's Tom Hooper is directing and William Nicholson wrote the screenplay. Safe to say this is the best thing that’s happened to him this year, after that time he hung out with Kanye and Jay-Z in Australia, of course. Grade: A- [Deadline]
HBO has given Aaron Sorkin’s cable-news drama — currently untitled, though formerly known as More As the Story Develops — a series pickup. Jeff Daniels stars as the possibly Keith Olbermann-y anchor; Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, and Sam Waterston are somehow all in this as well. Following Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, this will be Sorkin’s third TV show about a TV show. Why don't Sorkin and TV shows about TV shows get a freakin’ room already? Grade: A [HR]