Stan Lee Gets a Star

StanLee_EX_bookCNN reports that Stan Lee will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, January 4th. It just happens to be a week after his 88th birthday.
The star is in recognition of the fact that characters he created or wrote for Marvel Comics have become big film and television success stories.

“I’m pretty proud of the fact that some of the stories I wrote so many years ago are still being read and hopefully enjoyed by the public and people are making motion pictures based on them, and television series and even a Broadway show.”

The article quotes him as saying that Spider-Man is is favorite creation:

 “Because he’s the most popular and he’s known and loved worldwide.  But I really loved them all—and whichever one I was writing at the moment, that was my favorite.”

Regarding the long-term prospects of the Marvel superheroes he said:

“If people take the care with them that they have taken up to now, there’s no reason why these things couldn’t last as long as any legendary fictional characters.”

Read the entire article and see an exclusive video at the link above.

'Moon' & 'Dr. Who' Take Hugos

HUGO_2010Well-known in the science fiction literary world, the Hugo Awards, which have been given anually since 1955, also single out the best dramatic presentions in other media, including film and televison.
Presented at  Aussiecon 4 this past weekend in Melbourne, Australia,  the winner of  Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form was MOON (2009).  Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films).
The Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form went to DOCTOR WHO: “The Waters of Mars” Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)
See HugoAwards.org for full details of the literary awards.
The awards are named in honor of Hugo Gernsback, considered by many “The Father of Science Fiction”, for launching the first magazine completely dedicated to the genre, Amazing Stories in 1926. (And possibly coining the phrase Science Fiction, which he originally called Scienti-Fiction, an improvement over Scientific Romance, at least in modern parlance.) 
The Awards are voted on by the members of Worldcon each year, and presented at the following convention.
Award photo via Hugo Awards.org
 

Oscars snub genre (again)

Well, this isn’t really even news at this point: true to form, the 80th annual Oscar nominations virtually snubbed science-fiction, fantasy, and horror films, except in a handful of technical categories. In a way, this is no surprise: you cannot really blame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for ignoring bloated, brain-dead blockbusters like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END. However, 2007 did feature a critically acclaimed horror-musical-comedy that deserved multiple nominations – SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET – yet wound up with only one major nod. This might barely big forgivable if the top nominees were all great, but THERE WILL BE BLOOD – which received nominated in eight categories – is an over-rated and interminable piece of junk – the kind of thing people only waste their time and money on because they are fooled into thinking it’s “good.”
At least Johnny Depp was nominated in the Best Actor category for his role as Sweeney Todd. I’m not particularly good at prognostication, but I’d say he has a good chance this year. The Academy likes to hand out awards to popular entertainers responsible for box office blockbusters – but usually only when they take on a more serious projects. For example, Steven Spielberg won big for SCHINDLER’S LIST – which came out the same year as JURASSIC PARK. Depp is in a similar position, with the third PIRATES movie having come out earlier in the year.
SWEENEY TODD was alos nominated in the categories for Art Direction and Costume Design, yet somehow it was overlooked in the two Music categories, for Score and Song. RATATOUILLE was nominated in the former; ENCHANTED scored three nominations in the latter.
Visual Effects was the only category dominated by genre titles. The three nominees are THE GOLDEN COMPASS, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END, and TRANSFORMERS.
In the Sound Editing category, it was RATATOUILLE again, along with TRANSFORMERS. Both titles also showed up in the Sound Mixing category. (Apparently, even the people who vote on these things are not quite sure what the difference is between the two.)
Finally, the Animated Feature Film category omitted THE SIMPSONS MOVIE. The three nominees are RATATOUILLE, SURF’S UP, and PERSEPOLIS, of which the first is the obvious front-runner.
Of course, what form next month’s Oscar presentation may take is anyone’s guess, thanks to the Writers Guild strike.
Read the complete list of nominees here.

Academy names finalists for Best Visual Effects and Make-up Oscars

Given the great abundance of award worthy effects films that are released each year, one has to wonder why the Academy in all its great wisdom, continues to announce a list of seven finalists for the effects Academy Award and then insists on whittling it down to only three nominees.
Every other award category (except for make-up and sound editing) has five nominees, so to reduce the effects award to only three simply doesn’t make sense. It appears this rule is a hangover from olden days when there were often less then five films that could be considered worthy for nomination.
That was certainly the case in 1976, when the Academy’s board of governors made the startling bad judgement of giving an Oscar to KING KONG for best visual effects. That ridiculous mistake caused several prominent members of the effects branch to resign from the Academy in protest.  
In any case, today the Academy announced the list of seven finalists, which will be narrowed down to three actual nominees after a vote by the effects nominating committee on Jan 16.  
My own favorite effects film, SPIDER-MAN 3 didn’t even make the list, despite the excellence of effects work on display in creating the Sandman.  Also missing from the list are HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and Disney’s ENCHANTED with it’s spectacular SLEEPING BEAUTY inspired live-action dragon.   
The seven effects films deemed the worthiest by the Academy this year are:
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (Universal)
EVAN ALMIGHTY (Universal)
THE GOLDEN COMPASS (New Line Cinema)
I AM LEGEND (Warner Bros.)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END (Disney)
300 (Warner Bros.)
TRANSFORMERS (Paramount)
While the seven finalists for best make-up are:
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (Miramax)
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (Warner Bros.)
LA VIE EN ROSE (Picturehouse) 
NORBIT (Paramount)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END (Disney)
SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (Paramount)
300 (Warner Bros.)