The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
81st Academy Awards 2009 Best Picture Oscar Nominations
This year's top Academy Awards nominated film is "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson with 13 Oscar nominations including Best Picture. The 13 Oscar nominations falls one short of the current record of fourteen nominations held by two films, "All about Eve" (1950) and "Titanic" (1997).
David Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is only the 5th film to ever garner that many Academy Award Oscar Nominations.
With her sixth nomination for Best Picture (for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Kathleen Kennedy has tied the record for nominations for individual producers in the category.
Since 1951, when individual producers rather than companies were first cited in the Best Picture nominations, only two other producers, Stanley Kramer and Steven Spielberg, have received six nominations. Kramer never won the award; Spielberg won in 1993 for Schindler's List. Kennedy has yet to win. Only two other women have more than one Best Picture nomination: Julia Phillips (two nominations, including one win) and Fran Walsh (three nominations, including one win).
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Kennedy/Marshall Production (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
13 Academy Award Nominations:
- Brad Pitt - Performance by an actor in a leading role
- Taraji P. Henson - Performance by an actress in a supporting role
- Art direction
- Costume design
- Film editing
- Original score
- Best picture
- Sound mixing
- Visual effects
- Adapted screenplay
"I was born under unusual circumstances."
And so begins "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards: A man, like any of us, who is unable to stop time. From New Orleans at the end of World War I in 1918, into the 21st century, on a journey as unusual as any man's life can be, the film tells the grand tale of a not so ordinary man and the people and places he discovers along the way, the loves he finds and loses, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Jason Flemyng, Elias Koteas and Tilda Swinton. The film is directed by David Fincher. The screenplay is by Eric Roth, with screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The producers are Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin.
The behind-the-scenes team is led by director of photography Claudio Miranda, production designer Donald Graham Burt, editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, and costume designer Jacqueline West. The music is by Alexandre Desplat.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" began its life as a short story written in the 1920s by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who, in turn, drew his own inspiration from a quote by Mark Twain: "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18."
Fitzgerald's story was a caprice, a find of fancy, and bringing it to life on the screen was long perceived as too ambitious, too fantastical to accomplish. The project floated around for 40-some odd years until producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall took it up. For over a decade, the project has likewise intrigued Eric Roth, David Fincher and Brad Pitt.
For Roth, the concept became an opportunity to introspectively view the broad canvas of a life through the synthesis of intimate moments experienced every day, through events that may be as large as a world war or as small as a kiss. "Eric was the ideal person to fully realize the potential of such a large-scale but deeply personal story," Kennedy notes. "In 'Forrest Gump,' he revealed intimate portraits against the backdrop of epic stories, and a gift for richly observed detail."
The chance to live life backwards would seem ideal. "But it's not that simple," says Roth. "On the surface, you think it would be just lovely, but it is a different kind of life, which I think is so compelling about this story. Even though Benjamin is going backwards, the first kiss and the first love are still as significant and meaningful to him. It doesn't make any difference whether you live your life backwards or forwards – it's how you live your life."
While conceiving and writing the screenplay, Roth experienced the personal loss of both of his parents. "Their deaths were obviously very painful for me, and gave me a different perspective on things," he notes. "I think people will respond to the same things in this story that I responded to."
The movie explores the human condition that exists outside of time and age – the joys of life and love and the sadness of loss. "David and I both wanted it to feel as if this was anybody's story," Roth says. "It's just a man's life – that's what's sort of extraordinary about the movie and very ordinary at the same time. What affects this odd character affects everyone."
While Benjamin's predicament is entirely peculiar, his journey highlights the complex emotions at the core of every life. "It touches on questions we ask ourselves over the course of a lifetime," says Marshall. "And it's rare that one movie will elicit so many different, personal points of view. Someone in their 60s or 70s will look at the movie one way, while someone who's 20 is going to see it another way."
For Brad Pitt, the only way to play the character was all the way through, at every age, which posed one of the film's most daunting challenges. "Brad was only interested in playing the part if he could play the character through the totality of his life," Fincher explains. "Kathy and Frank were more than mildly curious how we were going to do that. I said, 'I don't know, but we'll figure it out.'"
Pitt's draw was also in the journey Benjamin takes. "Many actors weigh a part based on what their character gets to do," says Fincher. "Well, Benjamin doesn't 'do' a lot, per se, but, man, he goes through an enormous amount. Brad was the perfect person. It's the kind of role that would be passive in lesser hands."
To share the screen opposite Pitt, Fincher cast Cate Blanchett. The director had Blanchett on his mind since catching her performance in "Elizabeth." "I remember going to the Sunset 5 and just thinking, 'Who is that? My goodness,'" he recalls. "You just don't see people who have that kind of power and ability every day of the week."
The actress, says Pitt, "elevated most of our performances. She's exquisite. She's a great friend. She can read a scene like few actors can. I find her to be grace incarnate. I liked that she was playing a dancer. It fit her because of who she is, because of her undeniable elegance."
The relationship between her character Daisy and Benjamin evolves as she comes to understand and learns to live with his preternatural circumstances. Notes Eric Roth, "Cate embodies this woman, who has to make peace with the idea of growing older while the person she loves is on the backward path. What does life become for her then? She goes from being an impetuous, passionate dancer to a woman with deep reserves of strength."
Blanchett shaped Daisy with a dancer's manner and passions, though the actress' own ballet practice ended in childhood. "When I was a child, I did the usual girly thing and studied ballet but had to choose between that and piano lessons," Blanchett notes. "I chose piano and then gave it up for drama. I have a great appreciation for dance, but know my limitations. This movie was a great opportunity to revisit that appreciation." Daisy is one of many figures that come into contact with Benjamin. "Benjamin is like a cue ball and all the people he collides with leave marks on him," says Fincher.
"That's what a life is – a collection of these dents and scratches. They are what make him who he is and not anyone else."
"I like this idea of dents," adds Pitt. "People make an impact and leave some kind of an impression. There's something very poetic and accepting about that. It doesn't mean you roll over. It doesn't mean you don't fight for what you want. It means you accept the inevitabilities of life. People come and go. People leave, whether by choice or by death. People leave as you yourself will someday leave – it's the inevitable. How you deal with this becomes the question."
Pitt associates this notion with his friend and frequent collaborator. "The film explores this idea that I know to be true of Fincher — the belief that we are responsible for our own lives," the actor says. "We're responsible for our successes and failures and there's no one else to blame or take credit for them. Fate certainly has a say, but at the end of the day, its shape is ours."
The role presented Pitt with a complex challenge unlike any he has faced in a film – to communicate the character's inner growth as he reacts to others he encounters throughout the film. "Benjamin Button's journey is a very interior one," says Blanchett. "Despite the obvious physical demands the role placed on Brad as an actor, the trick was playing a character that listens and is present and reactive to everyone in the movie."
"It's perhaps the stillest performance Brad has ever given," Fincher adds. Roth points out that Pitt also grounded the extraordinary aspects of the character with his own essential humanity, "The bravura of this performance is that Brad plays him as this sort of 'everyman.' I think from his own life, Brad found an affinity for this character that transcends acting the role. He understands what it's like to live a different kind of life."
As Benjamin's adoptive mother, Queenie, tells him throughout his life, "You never know what's coming for you."
Benjamin is born in New Orleans in 1918, at the end of the Great War – a good night to be born. When Benjamin's mother dies in childbirth, his father, horrified at his appearance, abandons the baby on the steps of Nolan House, a retirement home where he is taken in by Queenie, the home's caretaker.
Taraji P. Henson was pegged for the role of Queenie long before the film came to fruition, when Fincher's casting director, Laray Mayfield, steered the director toward her performance in "Hustle and Flow." "We were all taken with how alive and maternal she was," Fincher recalls. "I found all the warmth, all the non-judgmental aspects of Queenie, in Taraji."
Queenie does a job many people could never do. "She's a woman who knows how to deal with death," says Henson. "And, at the same time, she is the embodiment of unconditional love. To be able to take in a child that's not yours, at a time when racism is the norm, and he's white and has been born under these unusual circumstances – she is able to look past all that and love him."
The character spoke to Henson on an intensely personal level. "It's been a very spiritual journey for me," she reveals. "I had just lost my father, and even though I miss him dearly, it's almost as if his death was a part of my journey towards Queenie. When my father was sick, we made sure that he was never alone; someone was always at his bedside. He passed away while I was with him because he knew I could handle it. This role helped me through my grief and my grief helped shape my performance. Art can be very healing."
Benjamin grows into adulthood with an equanimity towards loss that few experience. "He comes from a world of people who have made peace with their own mortality, so there's not a lot that scares him," says Fincher. "Every person he meets is transient; every moment with them could be his last. Yet, none of the people there are hysterical; they're all making do. So, by a very young age, he is familiar with the most profound aspects of death. It's coming for everyone, and we spend all our lives focusing on other things to avoid having to think about that inevitability."
Benjamin first meets Daisy when they are both children and she comes to visit her grandmother at Nolan House. Daisy sees through the exterior of his elderly handicaps to the child beneath. "One of the linchpins of the piece is how their lives coincide and differ," says Roth. "This relationship evolves as they grow and change, with all the missed and found opportunities in between."
While everyone around him is growing older, Benjamin is growing younger, all alone. "Benjamin aging backwards only makes him more aware that you can't hold onto things," says co-star Mahershalalhashbaz Ali. "He knows that you have things for a certain amount of time, and then you have to be okay with letting go. You can take what you can from it while it's here, but it's never yours."
Along with Queenie, Benjamin is raised by the elderly men and women whose adventures and life lessons are behind them and who have come to Nolan House to quietly spend their twilight years.
Tizzy Weathers, Queenie's longtime love, is one of Benjamin's first "fathers." "Tizzy is kind of a flag post, a barometer for his manhood," says Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, who plays Tizzy. "He helps to guide him and raise him. He teaches him to read and to write; he teaches him about Shakespeare. But I think he mostly leaves him with a sense of what a man is. Tizzy gives him that foundation so there can be some chance at peace for Benjamin in regard to having a male figure in his life."
But Tizzy, like everyone Benjamin comes to know and love, is only his for a short time. Benjamin leaves behind Queenie and Tizzy, Daisy, and his collection of friends from the only home he has ever known when he lights out for the world. The person who presents him with an invitation to adventure is Captain Mike and the motley crew of personalities on his tugboat.
Jared Harris plays the grizzled sea captain, who reveals his secret self through the map of tattoos covering his body. Harris describes his character as "sort of a thwarted, frustrated, drunk, angry failed artist, in a way. He went into his family business because he couldn't stand up to his own father."
In spite of his own father issues, Captain Mike becomes another "father" to Benjamin. "Your father is a tremendously powerful figure in your life," says Harris.
"And within this story, the male characters – the relationships between fathers and sons – is a massive underlying thread. Captain Mike introduces Benjamin, in that sort of bad father / uncle way, to the vices and pleasures of life. He also introduces him to a life at sea, and through that life, Benjamin gets to see the world."
But Captain Mike, like Tizzy before him, is a stand-in for the real thing – Thomas Button, the father that left Benjamin on Queenie's doorstep. "Thomas transfers all his sadness, resentment and fear of the future to the child," says Jason Flemyng, who plays Thomas Button. "In a strange way, after losing his wife in childbirth, Thomas believes he's ridding himself of all the heartache by leaving his son behind, but in fact, he spends the rest of his life regretting that act. It haunts him forever."
Flemyng, a friend of both Pitt's and Fincher's, was so taken with Eric Roth's script that he immediately put himself on tape after reading it in attempt to land the role of Thomas Button. Flemyng recalls, "I was excited for Fincher and Céan Chaffin to see what I could do with this part. I knew this would be the kind of movie that I would go to the cinema to see. I just really wanted to be a part of it."
Benjamin comes of age in the far-flung Russian port town of Murmansk, where he meets another defining personality – Elizabeth Abbott, played by Tilda Swinton. "Tilda has proven time and time again that she can do anything," says Kennedy. "The opportunity for her to hold the screen with Brad, Cate, Taraji and all the other wonderful actors contributed to the tremendous wattage of the film as a whole."
The lonely Elizabeth Abbott, wife of a diplomat, who harbors dreams of swimming across the English Channel, becomes Benjamin's first kiss. "They each learn something from the other," Swinton says. "She is open, energetic and self-searching; he is patience, simplicity, and optimism. It is a fair exchange. The idea of her, at the end of her life's adventure, being affected by Benjamin's sense of beginning – of living with the newness of independence and of choice, of claiming one's own life for oneself – is something I find very moving."
Throughout Benjamin's travels on the tugboat, Daisy's own trajectory brings her to New York, where she joins a dance company in the prime of her young life, brimming with emotion and pushing boundaries. "This isn't a ballad of co-dependency, which is 'I can't live without you,'" says Fincher. "They're not waiting for each other. They're both sexually active. These are two complete individuals who choose to be together for a certain amount of time, even though it is not the easiest way to go."
Their paths will diverge and converge throughout their lives, until they reach what Fincher calls the "sweet spot" in the middle when they're meant to be together. "The universe conspires to make them who they are at exactly the right moment," he says. "And you kind of breathe a sigh of relief when they get together because now it can happen, exactly as it is supposed to."
Daisy, and all of the personalities that populate Benjamin's world, have their own life arcs over the course of the tale. Their stories, in tandem or out of frame, are indelible threads in the tapestry of the film.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was shot in a variety of locations, including Montreal and the Caribbean, and the character's home city of New Orleans, which was recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina when production set down. "We had committed to film in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina and, of course, there was a period of uncertainty about whether we would be able to shoot there following the disaster," recalls Kennedy. "However, the city called us just two days after the hurricane, eagerly encouraging us to continue with our plans."
ABOUT THE CAST
BRAD PITT (Benjamin Button), one of today's most-watched film actors, is also a successful film producer, with his company Plan B Entertainment.
He was an Academy Award® nominee for his performance in Terry Gilliam's "Twelve Monkeys," for which he won a Golden Globe Award. He was also a Golden Globe Award nominee for his performances in Edward Zwick's "Legends of the Fall" and Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Babel."
Pitt most recently starred in Joel and Ethan Coen's comedy thriller "Burn After Reading," which had its world premiere as the opening night attraction at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. The previous year, he was named Best Actor at Venice for his portrayal of Jesse James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" directed by Andrew Dominik.
Opposite George Clooney, his "Burn After Reading" co-star, he also appeared in Steven Soderbergh's hits "Ocean's Eleven," "Ocean's Twelve" and "Ocean's Thirteen." Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, he grew up in Springfield, Missouri, and attended the University of Missouri at Columbia where he majored in Journalism. Right before graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to study graphic design, but instead began to pursue an acting career, studying with Roy London. Soon after, he began securing roles in television, including the series "Glory Days" and the acclaimed telefilms "The Image" directed by Peter Werner and "Too Young to Die?" directed by Robert Markowitz.
It was Mr. Pitt's role in Ridley Scott's Academy Award®-winning "Thelma and Louise" that first brought him national attention. He soon went on to star in Robert Redford's Academy Award®-winning "A River Runs Through It," Dominic Sena's "Kalifornia" and Neil Jordan's "Interview With the Vampire." He has also starred in Tom DiCillo's "Johnny Suede," which won the Golden Leopard Award for Best Picture at the 1991 Locarno International Film Festival; Ralph Bakshi's "Cool World," Tony Scott's "True Romance," Barry Levinson's "Sleepers," Alan J. Pakula's "The Devil's Own," Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Seven Years in Tibet," Martin Brest's "Meet Joe Black," and two previous David Fincher films "Se7en" and "Fight Club."
More recent films include Doug Liman's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," which was one of 2005's biggest hits, Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy," Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson's animated feature "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," Tony Scott's "Spy Game," Gore Verbinski's "The Mexican," Guy Ritchie's "Snatch," as well as cameo roles in Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" and Clooney's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."
Pitt's Plan B Entertainment develops and produces film and television projects. Plan B has thus far produced such films as Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," which won four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Director, Michael Winterbottom's "A Mighty Heart," for which Angelina Jolie received Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, Critics' Choice, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" starring Johnny Depp, Ryan Murphy's "Running with Scissors," for which Annette Bening received a Golden Globe Award nomination, "Troy" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."
TARAJI P. HENSON (Queenie), who first garnered attention in "Hustle and Flow," has recently starred in such films as "Talk to Me" opposite Don Cheadle, in the ensemble action drama "Smokin' Aces" with Jeremy Piven, Alicia Keys and Ben Affleck, and Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys" with Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard.
Soon to be released for Henson is a co-starring role opposite Forest Whitaker and Lil' Wayne in "Hurricane Season" and "Not Easily Broken" with Morris Chestnut, directed by Bill Duke. She is currently filming the independent feature "Once Fallen" with Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. Henson was a regular on David E. Kelly's drama "Boston Legal" and now recurs on ABC's "Eli Stone" as the daughter of Loretta Devine's Patti. Henson also stars in the music video for Estelle's latest single, "Pretty Please."
Henson was named Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Feature Film at the 2005 Black Movie Awards and received the Best Actress nod at the 2006 BET Awards for her performance as Shug in the gutsy drama "Hustle & Flow," produced by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker John Singleton and starring Terrence Howard. She received two nominations at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards including Best Breakthrough Performance.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., the Howard University graduate resides in Los Angeles. Henson has a strong passion for helping disabled and less fortunate children and reveals, "I always stress to kids to have faith in themselves – the greatest recipe for success is self confidence."
CATE BLANCHETT (Daisy), who most recently played Irina Spalko in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster hit "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," was nominated for two Oscars® this year, as Best Actress for "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and as Best Supporting Actress for "I'm Not There," making her only the fifth performer in the Academy's 80-year history to be nominated in both acting categories in the same year. Additionally, for "The Golden Age," she received SAG and BAFTA nominations. For "I'm Not There," she also received SAG and BAFTA nominations and won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival, Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and an Independent Spirit Award for her work.
Blanchett previously won an Academy Award® as Best Supporting Actress for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator." She was also honored with BAFTA and SAG Awards and a Golden Globe nomination for the role. In 1999, Blanchett earned her first Oscar® nomination and first BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards for her portrayal of another famous figure, Queen Elizabeth I, in Shekhar Kapur's "Elizabeth." She subsequently received Academy Award®, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her performance in "Notes on a Scandal" opposite Dame Judi Dench.
Blanchett recently starred in the films "The Good German" directed by Steven Soderbergh, opposite George Clooney and Tobey Maguire; and "Babel" opposite Brad Pitt.
Blanchett has also earned Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress for the title role in Joel Schumacher's "Veronica Guerin" and her work in Barry Levinson's "Bandits." Among her other film credits are "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy; Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"; Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes," for which she earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination; Ron Howard's "The Missing" opposite Tommy Lee Jones; "Charlotte Gray" directed by Gillian Armstrong; Lasse Hallstrom's "The Shipping News" with Kevin Spacey; Rowan Woods' "Little Fish" with Sam Neill and Hugo Weaving (for which she won an AFI award for Best Actress); Mike Newell's "Pushing Tin" with John Cusack; Oliver Parker's "An Ideal Husband"; Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley," for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress; Sam Raimi's "The Gift"; and Sally Potter's "The Man Who Cried," for which she was named Best Supporting Actress by the National Board of Review.
JULIA ORMOND (Caroline) was born in Epsom, Surrey, England, and found her calling with theater in school plays and studied drama at London's Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts. Following graduation, she landed her first professional work in theatre, until she had her breakthrough in a leading role in the channel four series "Traffik."
With several solid years of stage and TV work to her credit, Ormond went on to co-star in the HBO biopic "Stalin," in which her performance as the dictator's long suffering wife was one of the highlights of the production. It was this role that impressed director Edward Zwick, who cast her as the heroine in his big-budget theatrical feature "Legends of the Fall" starring Brad Pitt. Ormond was next seen portraying Guinevere opposite Sean Connery's King Arthur and Richard Gere's Sir Lancelot in "First Knight" and, subsequently, in the title role of Sydney Pollack's remake of "Sabrina" with Harrison Ford.
Ormond was recently seen in David Lynch's film "Inland Empire," as well as "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" with Abigail Breslin. Ormond will also be seen in Steven Soderbergh's "Che" with Benicio Del Toro and "Surveillance" alongside Bill Pullman. She has starred in such international pictures as "Smilla's Sense of Snow," "Sibirskij Tsiryulnik" ("The Barber of Siberia") and "Resistance."
JASON FLEMYNG (Thomas Button) is an exciting and versatile actor whose talent and strong screen presence have marked him as one of the most compelling actors coming out of Great Britain today.
He recently appeared in "Stardust," his fourth collaboration with Matthew Vaughn. He was seen as Crazy Larry in Vaughn's directorial debut "Layer Cake" starring Daniel Craig. Earlier in Flemyng's career, he co-starred in Guy Ritchie's directorial debut "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and in Ritchie's follow-up "Snatch," both of which Vaughn produced.
Known for creating distinct characters, Flemyng brought his talent to "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" opposite Sean Connery, Warner Bros.' "Rock Star" starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston, the Hughes Brothers' "From Hell" opposite Johnny Depp, and Bernardo Bertolucci's "Stealing Beauty" opposite Liv Tyler.
Other feature film credits include "Below," "The Red Violin," "Deep Rising, "The Hollow Reed" and "Alive and Kicking." Flemyng's television work includes roles in NBC's "Alice in Wonderland," the BBC production "A Question of Attribution" directed by John Schlesinger, and "For the Greater Good" directed by Danny Boyle. He starred as Jim Corbett in the BBC's "The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag," which tells the true story of Corbett's hunt for the most notorious man-eating leopard of colonial India in 1925.
ELIAS KOTEAS (Monsieur Gateau) was cast, early in his career, in "Full Moon in Blue Water" and "Malarek," which earned him his first of two Genie Award nominations for Best Actor.
He subsequently starred in director David Cronenberg's "Crash" and in several films directed by Atom Egoyan, including "The Adjuster," as well as "Exotica," for which he earned a Genie nomination for Best Supporting Actor and "Ararat," for which he won the Genie for Best Supporting Actor.
Koteas also appeared in Steven Shainberg's "Hit Me," Andrew Niccol's "Gattaca," Gregory Hoblit's "Fallen," Bryan Singer's "Apt Pupil," Richard LaGravanese's "Living Out Loud," Terrence Malick's Academy Award®-nominated "The Thin Red Line," "Novocaine," "Harrison's Flowers" and "The Greatest Game Ever Played" directed by Bill Paxton.
Recent features include Antoine Fuqua's "Shooter," James Isaac's "Skinwalkers" and David Fincher's "Zodiac." Upcoming for Koteas is Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," "The Haunting in Connecticut" opposite Virginia Madsen and the sci-fi thriller "The 4th Kind."
TILDA SWINTON (Elizabeth Abbott) won an Academy Award® and a BAFTA Award for her performance in Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton," which starred George Clooney, with whom she more recently starred in the comedy thriller "Burn After Reading" directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, which had its world premiere as the opening night attraction at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. She also received Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations for her role in "Michael Clayton."
Swinton had earlier been a Golden Globe Award nominee for David Siegel and Scott McGehee's "The Deep End," which also brought her an Independent Spirit Award nomination.
A native of Scotland, Swinton started making films with the English director Derek Jarman in 1985, starting with "Caravaggio." They made several other films together, including "The Last of England," "The Garden," "War Requiem," "Edward II" (for which she was named Best Actress at the 1991 Venice International Film Festival) and "Wittgenstein," before Jarman's death in 1994.
She gained wider international recognition in 1992 for her portrayal of "Orlando," based on the novel by Virginia Woolf and directed by Sally Potter. Since then, her films have included "Lynn Hershman-Leeson"; "Conceiving Ada"; "Teknolust" (in four roles); Susan Streitfeld's "Female Perversions"; John Maybury's "Love is the Devil"; Robert Lepage's "Possible Worlds"; Danny Boyle's "The Beach"; Cameron Crowe's "Vanilla Sky"; Spike Jonze's Academy Award®-winning "Adaptation"; David Mackenzie's "Young Adam"; two films costarring with Keanu Reeves, Mike Mills' "Thumbsucker" and Francis Lawrence's "Constantine"; Béla Tarr's "The Man from London"; Andrew Adamson's two blockbuster "The Chronicles of Narnia" tales; and Erick Zonca's "Julia," which world-premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival.
Swinton recently completed a role in Jim Jarmusch's new film "The Limits of Control," and has also appeared in the writer/director's "Broken Flowers."
JARED HARRIS (Captain Mike) is a performer whose on-screen intensity is rivaled only by his off-screen charisma and one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. Harris recently starred in a wide range of features: M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" and the critically acclaimed BBC miniseries "To Ends of The Earth." Other films include "Sylvia" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" and "Dummy" opposite Oscar® winner Adrien Brody and Milla Jovovich.
He won critical recognition for his riveting portrayal of influential American Pop artist Andy Warhol in the acclaimed "I Shot Andy Warhol," for which, in true Warhol fashion, Harris entered the audition with a video camera and taped the casting director while his own audition was being recorded. Harris has earned a reputation for playing varied and unique characters including an intellectually-challenged street cleaner in Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's "Smoke" and "Blue in the Face," a truculent fur trapper in Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man,' Tom Cruise's boozing, n'er-do-well brother in "Far and Away" and a sleazy Russian cab driver in Todd Solondz's "Happiness," for which the cast received the 1999 National Board of Review Acting Ensemble Award, as well as the gripping feature "Sunday," which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film and Best Screenplay at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
The son of famed Irish actor Richard Harris, he was born in London, England and educated at Duke University where he majored in drama and literature. After graduation, Harris became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has performed in some of New York's most renowned theater companies, including work with the New York Shakespeare Festival, the New Group, New Jersey Shakespeare Company, the Vineyard Theater and the Manhattan Theater Club.
ELLE FANNING (Daisy – age 6) is an energetic, lively and bright ten year-old actress who made her feature film debut as a young Lucy in New Line Cinema's "I Am Sam." She then co-starred opposite Eddie Murphy in the family comedy "Daddy Day Care" for Revolution Studios, which earned Fanning her first nomination for a Young Artists Award.
In 2004, she starred alongside Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger in Focus Films' "The Door in the Floor" directed by Tod William's. She followed that up with "Because of Winn-Dixie" with Cicely Tyson and Dave Matthews. In 2006, she was nominated twice more for a Young Artists Award for her performances in the Academy Award®-nominated film "Babel" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and for her work on the SCI-FI channel miniseries "The Lost Room" starring Peter Krause. That same year Fanning completed work on "Reservation Road," in which she played Emma Learner, the eight-year-old daughter of Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly.
Last year, Fanning completed the title role in the feature "Phoebe in Wonderland" starring alongside Felicity Huffman and Patricia Clarkson. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. She most recently finished work on the film "The Nutcracker: The Untold Story," a period piece set in 1920s Vienna. Also starring John Turturro and Nathan Lane, it is the timeless tale of a little girl whose godfather gives her a special doll one Christmas Eve.
MAHERSHALALHASHBAZ ALI (Tizzy), who stars opposite Harrison Ford and Sean Penn in Wayne Kramer's upcoming film "Crossing Over," is steadily becoming a strong presence in Hollywood.
Born in Oakland, California, Ali was raised in the neighboring city of Hayward by his parents and extended family. He planned on being an NBA player while on the basketball team at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California (just east of Berkeley), where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications. But, in his junior year, he was sidetracked by taking an acting lesson, which changed the path his career would take. In his senior year, he landed a featured role in the school's production of "Spunk."
After graduation, Ali made his professional debut performing for one season with the acclaimed California Shakespeare Festival in Orinda, California, followed by his acceptance into the very prestigious Master's program for Drama at New York University. While at NYU, Ali appeared in productions of "Blues for an Alabama Sky," "The School for Scandal," "A Lie of the Mind," "A Doll's House," "Monkey in the Middle," "The Merchant of Venice," "The New Place" and "Secret Injury, Secret Revenge." His additional stage credits include appearing in Washington, D.C. at the Arena Stage in the lead role of Jack Jefferson in "The Great White Hope," and in "The Long Walk" and "Jack and Jill."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
DAVID FINCHER (Director) made his feature film debut in 1992 with "Alien 3." In 1995, he directed "Se7en," the lauded crime drama of two detectives (played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) tracking down a serial killer who bases his murders on the seven deadly sins. The film grossed more than $325 million worldwide and its innovative approach, title and credit sequences influenced other films in the genre for years to come.
In 1997, Fincher directed "The Game" starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, a dark adventure story focusing on a closed-off San Francisco businessman who receives an unusual gift from his younger brother – a gift in which he becomes an unwitting player in a game that takes over his life. In 1999, he re-teamed with Brad Pitt in "Fight Club," based on the screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel. The film, which co-starred Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, received strong notices from critics and developed an underground following marking it as one of the seminal films of its time.
In 2002, he directed "The Panic Room" starring Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakum and Jared Leto. The box-office hit, which introduced some innovative uses of computer graphics, centered on the plight of a single mother and her daughter hiding in a safe room of their new house as criminals broke in bent on finding a missing fortune.
Prior to directing "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Fincher directed the critically hailed "Zodiac." Released in 2007, the film garnered many kudos and was named in over 150 ten best lists, including Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and The Washington Post.
Academy Award® winner ERIC ROTH (Screenplay, Screen Story) attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, Columbia University and UCLA. He won the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award while at UCLA. His first produced screenplay was Robert Mulligan's "The Nickel Ride," which premiered at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. Some of the movies Roth has written, or written on include "Suspect" with Cher and Dennis Quaid; "Mr. Jones" with Richard Gere and directed by Mike Figgis; "Rhapsody in August" directed by Akira Kurosawa; "Forrest Gump," for which he won the Oscar® and the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; "The Horse Whisperer" directed by Robert Redford; "The Insider" directed by Michael Mann and starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award® and a Writers Guild Award and won the Humanitas Award. He also wrote "Ali" directed by Michael Mann and starring Will Smith. He co-wrote the 2005 Academy Award®-nominated screenplay for "Munich," directed by Steven Spielberg; and the screenplay for "The Good Shepherd" with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robert De Niro, directed by De Niro.
Roth is currently working on "Hatfields and McCoys" for Warner Bros., "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" for Warner Bros. and Paramount, and will soon be writing "The Devil in the White City" for Paramount. His daughter, Vanessa Roth, won an Academy Award® in 2007 for the Best Short Documentary, "Freeheld."
ROBIN SWICORD (Screen Story) is primarily known for her work as a screenwriter ("Memoirs Of A Geisha," "Little Women," "Matilda," "Shag," "The Perez Family," "Practical Magic") and playwright ("Last Days at the Dixie Girl Café," "Criminal Minds"). Swicord recently made her feature film directing debut with Sony Pictures Classics' "The Jane Austen Book Club," for which she also wrote the screenplay adaptation. She is currently at work with producer Wendy Finerman ("Forrest Gump," "The Devil Wears Prada") on a romantic comedy for the newly minted CBS Films, "Didn't Like Him Anyway," about an unwilling psychic. In the coming months, Swicord is set to write and direct a thriller for Universal called "The Alibi Club." Robin Swicord wrote her first draft of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in January 1990. Premiere magazine named it to their list of "Ten Best Unproduced Screenplays." Over the next ten years, Swicord wrote more than a dozen successive drafts as the script went through development at two different studios under an ever changing roster of A-list directors and production executives, before the project found its final path to production.
Born in South Carolina, Swicord grew up in rural North Florida and southern Georgia. Her plays, as well as her screenplay "Shag" (which takes its title from a Southern coastal dance contest), are centered in this part of the world. She began writing and making short films while studying English literature and theater at Florida State University.
KATHLEEN KENNEDY's (Producer) record of achievement has made her one of the most successful executives in the film industry today. Among her credits are three of the highest-grossing films in motion picture history – "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," "Jurassic Park" and "The Sixth Sense."
Kennedy currently heads The Kennedy/Marshall Company, which she founded in 1992 alongside director/producer Frank Marshall. Under their banner, they have produced such films as "The Sixth Sense," which earned six Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture; "Seabiscuit," which garnered seven Academy Award® nominations including Best Picture; and the blockbuster "Bourne" trilogy – "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum" – which collectively reinvented the spy thriller.
Kennedy recently produced the Oscar®-nominated indie hits "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," an adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby's moving memoir, directed by Julian Schnabel and written by Ronald Harwood; and "Persepolis," based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel about a young girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Additionally, The Kennedy/Marshall Company produced "The Spiderwick Chronicles," based on the popular series of children's books.
Kennedy began a successful association with Steven Spielberg when she served as his production assistant on "1941." She went on to become his associate on "Raiders of the Lost Ark," associate producer of "Poltergeist" and producer of "E.T." While "E.T." was becoming an international phenomenon, Spielberg, Kennedy and Marshall were already in production on "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," which she and Marshall produced with George Lucas. This partnership also encompasses "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," and the long-awaited fourth installment, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which became a global box office hit in the summer of 2008. She is currently producing "Tintin," a series of motion pictures directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson based on the iconic character created by Georges Remi ("Herge").
In 1982, Kennedy co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and Marshall, for which she produced or executive-produced dozens of films, including "Hook," "Always," "Gremlins," "Young Sherlock Holmes," "The Goonies," "Innerspace," "*batteries not included," "Joe Versus the Volcano," "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West," "Cape Fear" and "Arachnophobia," Frank Marshall's directorial debut in 1990.
Kennedy also teamed with Spielberg, Marshall and Quincy Jones to produce "The Color Purple," which earned eleven Academy Award® nominations in 1985, including Best Picture; and with Spielberg and Marshall on 1985's highest-grossing film, "Back to the Future," as well as its two successful sequels – "Back to the Future, Part II" and "Back to the Future, Part III."
In 1988, Kennedy again earned the distinction of top-grossing film of the year for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" which she produced with Marshall and Robert Watts; and then produced Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" with Spielberg and Marshall, which the National Board of Review named Best Picture of the Year.
Kennedy served as executive producer on the critically acclaimed Spielbergdirected Holocaust drama "Schindler's List," which garnered seven Academy Awards® in 1993, including Best Director and Best Picture. That same year she also re-teamed with Robert Watts to produce Marshall's second film, "Alive."
In 1995, Kennedy produced the Amblin Entertainment/Malpaso Production "The Bridges of Madison County," directed by Clint Eastwood, followed by Amblin Entertainment's Jan DeBont-directed action thriller "Twister," which Kennedy produced with Ian Bryce. Kennedy also served as executive producer on the Spielberg-directed "Jurassic Park" sequel, "The Lost World."
In 1999 and 2000, three films produced by The Kennedy/Marshall Company were released: "Snow Falling on Cedars," directed by Scott Hicks; "The Sixth Sense," starring Bruce Willis; and "A Map of the World," starring Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore. The Kennedy/Marshall Company also produced the IMAX film "Olympic Glory," which was released in May 2000.
In 2001, Kennedy produced the Spielberg-directed "Artificial Intelligence: A.I." with Bonnie Curtis and "Jurassic Park III," with Spielberg and Gerald Molen; the following year she executive-produced M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" starring Mel Gibson. In 2003, she produced (with Marshall, Gary Ross and Jane Sindell) the critical and popular hit "Seabiscuit." In 2005, Kennedy and Colin Wilson produced "War of the Worlds" directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise. Later that year, Kennedy re-teamed with Wilson, Barry Mendel, and Spielberg to produce the Spielberg-helmed "Munich," which received five Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture.
2009 Best Picture Oscar Nominations
81st Academy Awards 2009 Best Motion Picture of the Year Oscar Nominations
For three years after being forced from office, Richard Nixon remained silent. But, in 1977, the steely, cunning former commander in chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the unanswered questions of his time in office and of the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Nixon surprised everyone by selecting Frost as his televised confessor, intending to easily outfox the breezy British showman and reclaim his status as a supreme statesman in the hearts and minds of Americans.
Re-creating not only the on-air interviews that captivated the nation, but weeks of around-the-world, behind-the-scenes maneuvering and negotiations between the men and their opposing camps, Frost / Nixon explores the long-untold story that led to the ultimate face-off in the court of public opinion.
Milk is a true-story tragedy about Harvey Milk the martyred San Francisco city supervisor, America's first widely acknowledged openly gay elected official. After moving to San Francisco, New Yorker Harvey Milk became a Gay Rights activist and city politician. On his third attempt, he was elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in 1977, making him the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the USA.
In 1978, both Milk and San Francisco's mayor, George Moscone, were shot to death by former city supervisor, Dan White, who blamed his former colleagues for denying White's attempt to rescind his resignation from the board.
The film version of Bernhard Schlink's 1995 novel "The Reader," opens in post-WWII Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna Schmitz, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her.
The tale of a 15-year-old West German boy who, in 1958, embarks on an affair with a 36-year-old trolley conductor with more on her mind, and in her past, than she admits.
Years later Michael is a Heidelberg law student. One day at a war-crimes trial of female Auschwitz guards, he hears the name of his former lover cited along with several other women. She stands before him, a shell of a woman, still laden with secrets. He cannot believe it. His predatory dream woman was a Nazi.
A penniless, eighteen year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, Jamal Malik is one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, suddenly, he is arrested on suspicion of cheating.
After all, how could an uneducated street kid possibly know so much? Determined to get to the bottom of Jamal's story, the jaded Police Inspector spends the night probing Jamal's incredible past, from his riveting tales of the slums where he and his brother Salim survived by their wits to his hair-raising encounters with local gangs to his heartbreak over Latika, the unforgettable girl he loved and lost.
2009 OSCAR NOMINEES 81st Academy Awards
2009 Academy Award Oscar Winners
2009 Best Picture Oscar Nominations
2009 Best Animated Feature Oscar Nominations
2009 Best Lead Actress Oscar Nominations
- Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married"
- Angelina Jolie in "Changeling"
- Melissa Leo in "Frozen River"
- Meryl Streep in "Doubt"
- Kate Winslet in "The Reader"
2009 Best Lead Actor Oscar Nominations
- Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor"
- Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon"
- Sean Penn in "Milk"
- Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
- Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"
2009 Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nominations
- Amy Adams in "Doubt"
- Penélope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
- Viola Davis in "Doubt"
- Taraji P. Henson in "Benjamin Button"
- Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler"
2009 Best Supporting Actor Oscar Nominations
2009 OSCAR NOMINATED MOVIE REVIEWS
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(3 Oscar Nominations)
(1 Oscar Nomination)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
(13 Oscar Nominations)
The Dark Knight
(8 Oscar Nominations)
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(5 Oscar Nominations)
(2 Oscar Nominations)
Frost / Nixon
(5 Oscar Nominations)
Happy Go Lucky
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(2 Oscar Nominations)
Kung Fu Panda
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(8 Oscar Nominations)
Rachel Getting Married
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(5 Oscar Nominations)
(3 Oscar Nominations)
(10 Oscar Nominations)
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(6 Oscar Nominations)
Waltz With Bashir
(1 Oscar Nomination)
(2 Oscar Nominations)
(2 Oscar Nominations)
- Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose
- Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth
- Julie Christie as Fiona Anderson in Away from Her
- Laura Linney as Wendy Savage in The Savages
- Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff in Juno
- Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
- George Clooney as Michael Clayton in Michael Clayton
- Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd
- Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah
- Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai in Eastern Promises
- No Country wins Best Picture, Best Director. Daniel Day-Lewis wins best actor for his role in "There Will Be Blood". Javier Bardem, Tilda Swinton Win Supporting Role Academy Awards, Ratatouille awarded Oscar for Best Animation Feature