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Matt Reeves steps in to direct 'The Batman'

"Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves has stepped in to direct "The Batman" for Warner Bros. just a few weeks after star Ben Affleck left the post. Warner Bros. said Thursday that Reeves would also produce the stand-alone film.

Reeves, also known for directing "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," said he's loved the Batman story since he was a child and is honored and excited to "bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen."

Affleck, who is also writing the screenplay, dropped out of directing the project in late January citing the focus required to play the superhero. He'll appear next as Batman in "Justice League" which comes out in November.

There is no release date set for "The Batman."

Correction: Oscars-Octavia Spencer story

A corrected version of the story is below:

Oscars made strides, but Octavia Spencer wants more growth

Even though Octavia Spencer is pleased with the record amount of blacks nominated for an Oscar, she's still not content with the lack of recognition shown toward all races of color


Even though Octavia Spencer is pleased with the record number of blacks nominated for acting Oscars this year, she's still disappointed by the lack of recognition for other people of color.

"Diversity doesn't mean just black," Spencer said in a recent phone interview to promote her new film, "The Shack," which comes out March 3. "I'm excited that more black people are being recognized. That's what I would like to see arrive for other people of color, because they are so valued and underserved. I think when we ask the public, the paying public, to support films that don't portray them on-screen, that's hypocrisy."

Spencer is one of six black actors up for an Academy Award at Sunday's ceremony. Dev Patel, who is of Asian descent, is nominated for best actor. Spencer is nominated for her role in "Hidden Figures," which is nominated for best picture.

The diverse slate is a far cry from the past two years, when all-white acting nominees led to the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and a national conversation on race in Hollywood. It also compelled Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of The Academy, to implement a plan restructuring the organization's membership to try and make it more reflective of women and minorities.

These days, Spencer has her own production company and believes she could be one of Hollywood's "biggest producers" in the near future. Spencer wants to create a lane for women and people of color to share their untold stories in film, much like "Hidden Figures." She played the role of Dorothy Vaughan, a pioneering black mathematician who worked at NASA. When she won the Academy Award six years ago for best supporting actress, she played a maid in "The Help."

"We are multifaceted people," said Spencer. "Yes, women of color served in people's kitchens and cleaned people's houses. But there are African-American doctors, scientists and lawyers. ... Those are the types of stories that we also want to see presented in film."

Stories with a historical perspective resonate with her the most. She's developing a series about entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, one of the first female millionaires in the United States (she will also star in it), and co-producing a HBO series about the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana.

The actress said her production company won't be limited to telling black stories.

"If it's a white story that hasn't been told, it'll be told," she said. "If it's a story about a Latin American, Asian-American, (I'll) tend to tell it."

While Spencer prepares for the Oscars on Sunday, she also has the release of "The Shack" on the horizon. She plays God in the film adaptation of the novel by William P. Young; the book is about a father's renewed faith following his daughter's death.

The film caught some backlash from some white Christians angered by the depiction of God as a curvaceous black woman. But Spencer said it's based on the perception of main character Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington).

"This young boy was abused and so the relationship with this one male that should've protected him was fractured," said Spencer. "And then a man takes his daughter from him. The only woman to show him kindness was a woman who looked a lot like me. So that's why God manifested (in the flesh) and revealed himself to this young man was in a way he would actually receive it."




Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at

A look back at the last 5 movies to win Best Picture at the Oscars

With the Academy Awards airing on Sunday night, Best Picture will be a compelling contest as"La La Land" competes with "Manchester by the Sea," "Hacksaw Ridge," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures."

>> Read more trending stories  

>> The Oscars 2017: What time, what channel, live streamed; who is the host?

>> The Oscars 2017: Complete list of nominees

Here is a look back at the last five Best Picture winners:

2016: Spotlight

Plot: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic archdiocese, shaking the Catholic Church.

Rating: 93 (

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy, Stanley Tucci

Other awards: Won the Oscar and BAFTA for Best Screenplay, Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast and more than 100 other awards

Fun fact: Although the movie never mentions it, the Boston Globe won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for the Spotlight reporting team’s articles on the church sex abuse cover-up. The prize citation read, “For its courageous, comprehensive coverage of sexual abuse by priests, an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Also, this is the first Best Picture winner since The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) to win only two Oscars.


2015: Birdman (or the Unexpected Value of Ignorance)

Plot: Illustrated upon the progress of his latest Broadway play, a former popular actor’s struggle to cope with his current life as a wasted actor is shown.

Score: 88 (

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts

Other awards: It won Best Screenplay at the Oscars and Golden Globes. It also won Best Cinematography at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. Director Alejandro G. Iñàrritu won the Oscar for Best Director, while Keaton won Best Actor at the Golden Globes.  It won Best Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and more than 150 other awards.

Fun fact: The movie was the first winner that was shot entirely digitally. Every winner before this had been shot at least partially on film. It’s also the first Best Picture winner to have parentheses in its title.

Keaton’s Birdman costume was modeled using a mannequin from when he played Batman (1989).

2014: 12 Years A Slave

Plot: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Score: 96 (

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Alfre Woodward

Other awards: "12 Years" won Best Picture at the Golden Globes and the BAFTA awards as well. In her film debut, Lupita Nyong’o won the Oscar and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the film also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Chiwetel Ejiofor won Best Actor at the BAFTA Awards.

Fun fact: Before filming brutal scenes together, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender performed a ritual of “making nice.” According to Nyong’o: “We wouldn’t say anything to each other, just a look in the eye and a grasping of hands. Our characters are in such opposition, but we as actors needed each other in order to be able to go the distance.”

 It was also the first Best Picture Oscar winner with Arabic numerals in the title, rather than Roman numerals or a spelled-out number.

2013: Argo

Plot: Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. 

Score: 86 (

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber

Other awards: In addition to the Best Picture Oscar, Argo also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. It also won Best Picture and Ben Affleck won Best Director at the Golden Globes and BAFTA. The Screen Actors Guild gave it the Outstanding Performance by a Cast award.

Fun fact: Affleck, a longtime Led Zeppelin fan, admitted he was desperate to use the track “When the Levee Breaks” (from "Led Zeppelin IV"). The band allowed the usage, but Affleck needed to make a very specific change. The scene featuring the song was originally shot with actor Tate Donovan placing the record needle on the beginning of the album, which was wrong: “When the Levee Breaks” is actually the last song on the second side of the album. Affleck later told the Los Angeles Times he appreciated the band’s attention to detail, despite having to pay for another shoot.

2012: The Artist

Plot: A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.

Score: 89 (

Other awards: The Artist won four other Oscars, including Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius. Dujardin also won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. The film won more than 140 other awards.

Fun fact: Dujardin was the first French actor to win Best Actor.

This film is only the second silent film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. The first was "Wings" (1927) — the first ever Best Picture. "Wings" won just two Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Effects, making "The Artist" the first ever silent film to win Oscars for Best Director, Best Score, Best Costume and Best Actor.

Jimmy Kimmel talks about Trump and other pre-Oscars concerns

Jimmy Kimmel says he never really wanted to host the Academy Awards.

"If anything, what I wanted is for people to publicly say that I should be the host and that it's an outrage that I am not the host, but then to not actually have to host it," the 49-year-old comedian told The Associated Press. "Because hosting turns out to be a lot of work, and as you know, people are very critical."

Kimmel, who has twice hosted the Emmy Awards, will make his Oscars debut on Sunday. He talked with the AP about his preparations, his pre-show rituals and what role politics might play that night.

AP: How does preparing to host the Oscars differ from the Emmys or the work you do on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"?

Kimmel: It's very different from hosting my own show but it's almost the same as preparing to host the Emmys. My show is every night, so it's mostly disposable. We write jokes for the day and we write jokes for the next day and we just keep going. There's not much time for refinement or reflection. Whereas with the Emmys and the Oscars, you know you have a big audience, you know that you're going to be evaluated, you're going to be judged, and you want to do as good a job as possible. I always want to do as good a job as possible, but you really want to, as chefs say, put your foot in it for something like this.

AP: What are your biggest concerns this close to show time?

Kimmel: The biggest challenge is I have a lot of jokes and I have to whittle them down and figure out which ones to use. That's not as easy as it might sound, because a room full of comedy writers is a very different audience than a room full of movie stars who have cameras on them. You can't really go onstage to a comedy club and try this material out either, because that's also a different audience and you want the jokes to remain secret, and nowadays people seem to tape everything and post it on the internet. So I really am in a little bit of a bubble as far as what will work and what doesn't, and really the only way we'll know is when I'm on that stage.

AP: How political will you get on Sunday?

Kimmel: I'm not sure how to answer that question. I mean, will Donald Trump be mentioned by me and during the show? Absolutely. How much I'm not sure yet. It kind of depends on what's happening that day, you know?

AP: Are you worried about potentially alienating conservative viewers?

Kimmel: No. I think smart people know funny is funny. Everybody for some reason has decided that they have to pick a side, and I think people would be a lot happier if, when they heard a joke, they enjoyed the joke and didn't attach some kind of rooting interest to it. We've been forced to pick a team, and that should never happen. There's one team in this country, it's the United States, and we should be allowed to make fun of each other.

AP: Do you have any pre-performance rituals for quelling nerves? Do you get nervous?

Kimmel: I'm a little bit nervous before the show starts, but once I get onstage, that goes away. I don't think the human brain can process that many emotions at once, so I'm pretty focused once I get onstage. And once the monologue is done, I'll be able to really kind of have fun with the show and look for improvised moments and opportunities to comment on things as they're happening. As far as rituals or anything before the show, we do have a chant (at "Live!") that we do before every show, where everyone in the room will chant "Best show ever!" and I fist-bump everybody. It's usually done in a sarcastic way, but we might be sincere just this one time.


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at .

Review: A schmaltzy history lesson in 'Bitter Harvest'

Yep, that's the tagline for "Bitter Harvest," the new movie about young love during the Holodomor, the 1932-33 forced famine in Ukraine orchestrated by Josef Stalin that killed millions. And if it sounds like a schmaltzy, soap opera-like treatment of a serious and historic tragedy, well, that's because it is.

That's too bad, because teaching important history to younger generations via popular culture is always a worthy cause. It's just that soaking this sobering story in a soppy romance does little to advance that cause.

"Bitter Harvest," directed by George Mendeluk, stars the British actor Max Irons (son of Jeremy) as Yuri, the thoughtful grandson of a venerated Ukrainian warrior, and Samantha Barks as Natalka, the village girl he loves. Barks finds a bit more depth of character between the lines of the gooey, unsubtle script by Mendeluk and first-time screenwriter Richard Bachynsky-Hoover; Irons, who might play a good Romeo one day, is reduced to smoldering soulfully as his country implodes.

We're introduced to these characters as children, in a seemingly idyllic life in the countryside, frolicking in the woods and swimming in the river. "My Ukraine," Yuri intones in an earnest opening voiceover, was a place "where legends lived and anything was possible." Yuri's father (Barry Pepper) inculcates a love of freedom in the young boy. "No one can ever take away our freedom," he tells Yuri, in words that we know will echo in his head — and we do mean literally — years later. "Remember that!"

One day, Yuri's grandfather Ivan (Terence Stamp) rides up to announce that the czar has been killed. "Now Ukraine can be free," he says (these two may be related by blood, but they do not seem to be related by accent — accents vary widely across the film). In a typically heavy-handed touch, two horses, unconnected to the action, are seen frolicking freely. (Later, when turbulence arrives, these same horses will be seen in an agitated state.)

In any case, we jump ahead to Yuri and Natalka as young adults. A budding artist, Yuri seeks to woo Natalka by painting her; she tries to discourage him, warning that she will bring him misfortune. But love wins out, and the two marry.

Life has become bleak and dangerous in the countryside. Stalin — in the first shot, we see him merely via a bushy moustache — has consolidated power after Lenin's death and introduced collectivization, which will lead to the devastating Ukraine famine of 1932 and 1933. "That could kill millions," he is told, of his plan to requisition up to 90 percent of Ukraine's harvest. "Who in the world would know?" the leader responds.

Yuri travels to Kiev, the capital, while Natalka remains home to care for her mother. Yuri enrolls at the art academy, but soon leaves, after being forced to paint idealized images dictated by Soviet authorities.

After a violent brawl with some soldiers, Yuri ends up in prison, where fellow inmates are being lined up and shot daily. He finds a way to escape and embarks on a desperate quest to rejoin Natalka in the countryside, where she and the rest of the family are starving.

The film is not without a few worthwhile educational moments; the sight of dead bodies strewn about Kiev, for example, representing the peasants who made last-resort trips to the capital to find food. But mostly, the determined focus on a not-so-interesting romance and the general small-scale approach to a large-scale story do not serve the filmmakers well. This is a history lesson that deserves a much better vehicle.

"Bitter Harvest," a Roadside Attractions release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America "for violence and disturbing images." Running time: 103 minutes. One star out of four.

MPAA definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


Follow Jocelyn Noveck at

Oscars still lagging in female and minority representation

The 2017 Oscar nominations were a banner year for black nominees both in front of and behind the camera, but other nonwhite groups and women were largely left out of the running. As #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign said, her hashtag was never about just black actors, but all communities marginalized in Hollywood including Asians, Latinos, and women.

"We still have work to do," said Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Association.

This year, the sole non-black acting nominee of color was British-Indian actor Dev Patel for his supporting performance in "Lion." It's been over 13 years since another Indian — Ben Kingsley — was nominated. Kinglsey is also the only person of Asian/Indian descent to be nominated for best actor (two nominations, one win). The lead actress category is even bleaker for Asian women. You have to go back to 1935 to find the only nominee.

Latinos, too, have been missing from the acting nominations for years. Demian Bichir was the last Latino best actor nominee in 2012. In the supporting category, you have to look to 2004 and Benicio del Toro's nomination for "21 Grams." Del Toro also won in the category in 2001 for "Traffic" — the only actor to ever win for a Spanish-speaking role.

The last time a lead actress of Latino descent was nominated was Colombian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno in 2005 for "Maria Full of Grace."

"We just have to keep on doing good films and if in the United States these get picked up and they get a little bit of attention, well, it's great," said Mexican actor and director Gael Garcia Bernal. "But at the same time, it's something that is not in our hands. We need to just make good films."

Supporting actor nominee Mahershala Ali hopes that people of color can become part of the fabric of entertainment in a "real and organic way."

Behind the camera, after a three year stretch of Mexican filmmakers winning best director, this year none were nominated. The only Latino nominee in any category this year is Rodrigo Prieto, who was nominated for best cinematography for "Silence." If he wins, it will be the fifth year in a row that a Latino has won that prize.

Asians behind the camera were a little more represented. "La La Land's" Ai-ling Lee became the first Asian sound editing nominee. And "La La Land's" Tom Cross, who is half-Vietnamese, is up for the editing award. Toshio Suzuki is nominated for best animated feature for "The Red Turtle," as is Joanna Natasegara for best documentary short for "The White Helmets." This past year, the academy also gave Jackie Chan an honorary Oscar.

"It's not about the awards, it's about the creators, the actual birth of those stories," said Patel.

Women, too, are a minority in Hollywood. For women behind the camera, things have gotten worse overall, despite some strides, including "Jackie" composer Mica Levi becoming the first women to be nominated for original score.

However, it's been seven years since there was a female best director nominee when Kathryn Bigelow won for "The Hurt Locker." Before Bigelow, there had been only three female directing nominees in the history of the awards.

Only one woman was nominated in any screenwriting category, Allison Schroeder for "Hidden Figures," down from three last year, and, once again, no women were nominated for cinematography.

Other categories experienced similar drops, save an increase in nominations for women in the sound editing and sound mixing categories, thanks to "La La Land's" Ai-ling Lee.

Overall representation of women in Oscar-nominated behind-the-scenes categories fell two percent, according to a recent report from the Women's Media Center.

But this isn't surprising to those who follow the industry year round.

"This year is similar to previous years where we don't have enough women in many of the positions behind the scenes," said Melissa Silverstein, the founder and publisher of the Women and Hollywood blog. "It's wonderful to see a lot of female producers whose films are nominated for best picture, but again this illuminates how difficult it is for women to rise to the top of the business and to be taken seriously at this level."

And it's not just a box office issue, Silverstein says. It's also about prestige.

"When money is there, there are fewer women. When prestige is there, there are fewer women," she said. "This has not changed and I don't see this changing on the horizon. At the Oscars we just notice it a lot more."


AP Entertainment Reporter Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.

The Oscars are less white, but the industry hasn't changed

After two years of intense public scrutiny over the academy's all-white acting nominations, the 2017 Oscar nominees are as diverse a group as the organization has ever seen, thanks to films like "Moonlight," ''Fences," ''Hidden Figures" and "Loving."

It's been cause for celebration, but also for reflection and heightened scrutiny of areas where there is still work to be done. And there are some in the industry who wonder whether the rich diversity of this year's Oscars is a blip, a sign of progress, or some complicated combination of the two. Then there's the matter of who will ultimately win on Sunday night.

The landmark nominations are undeniable, especially in the acting categories. It's the first time ever that each has at least one black nominee. Denzel Washington ("Fences") is up for best actor (his seventh nomination), Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight") for best supporting actor, Ruth Negga ("Loving") is a best actress contender, and, in another first, the best supporting actress category includes three black nominees (Naomie Harris for "Moonlight," Viola Davis for "Fences" and Octavia Spencer for "Hidden Figures"). All in all, there are six black actors nominated and seven actors of color (including Dev Patel for "Lion") — a deafening response to #OscarsSoWhite, which activist April Reign coined in response to the all-white acting nominees in 2015, and then again in 2016.

There were strides made behind the camera as well. Bradford Young became the first African American to be nominated for cinematography for "Arrival." ''Moonlight" editor Joi McMillon is the first black female nominee in that category. It's the second time a black female producer has been nominated for best picture (Kimberly Steward for "Manchester by the Sea") and the first time that three films with black producers were nominated for best picture (including Washington for "Fences" and Pharrell Williams for "Hidden Figures"). There are also four black directors whose documentaries were nominated, three of which are about race.

It might lead one to think that #OscarsSoWhite is a thing of the past — eradicated through public outcries and an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences membership shake-up in which 683 new faces were invited to join with an emphasis on diversity. One of those new members, director Amma Asante, said it's "a good thing" that "more people who look like me have been nominated."

In reality, however, the nominations are the result of a messy confluence of factors that don't lend themselves to a simple narrative — not to mention the fact that diversity doesn't end with black and white.

"One year does not make up for over 80 years of a lack of representation of black people in the film industry," Reign said.

She never intended #OscarsSoWhite to just be about black nominees, either, or even race. Instead, it was meant to shine a light on all underrepresented communities in films.

And while much has been made of the breadth of the academy's efforts, David Poland, editor of, has estimated that in the end, there were fewer than 50 new black members and just over 30 new female members inducted. (The academy does release specific information about membership.) He and others have questioned the idea that this year's nominations are a result of those changes.

"The diversity of the nominees is 100% a function of the films that were released this year," Poland said. "It is wonderful that these films were recognized this season . but not because they were 'of color,' but because they are excellent movies ... It is, in reality, insulting to the films that are about or made by people of color that they will get in or have gotten in based on the issue of race."

Conflating the protest with the accolades is a double edged sword for many, especially those involved in the films. It's one thing to recognize correlation. It's another to assume causation.

"I'm hoping it's not a trend," Viola Davis said. "I'm hoping it's not something based on a hashtag. It is something based on the natural fabric of what America is and what America now wants to see."

Also, as nominated "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins points out, many of the films responsible for the diversity this year were in the works before OscarsSoWhite.

"Most of these films started a few years ago — four years ago, five years ago — not as a response to what happened last year, but as a response to the lack of these voices," Jenkins said. "I have no doubt that next year we'll be here this time of year and it'll be the same thing ... we're not going away."

To be fair, Reign, too, doesn't believe that anyone was nominated because of a hashtag, or that any of the films were made in response. Ultimately what the hashtag did, like all effective protest movements, is raise awareness and consciousness around representation and, possibly, the films.

But the Oscars litmus test is a shallow one for some. Oscar nominations (and even wins) are simply a last stage reflection of the industry at large and what films actually get made and put into the marketplace. It's telling that most of the best picture nominees started as independent films.

"Let's be clear, it's a much better year than it was the last two years, but complacency and the notion that things have changed are things that I would guard against," said actor David Oyelowo. "The infrastructure that enabled two years of OscarsSoWhite hasn't fundamentally changed."

Raoul Peck, the nominated director of the documentary "I Am Not Your Negro," echoed Oyelowo's sentiments.

"As long as the person giving the greenlight to a movie is not a woman, a black person, a Latino, a gay, whatever — if there is not a bigger repartition of this power structure, nothing will change," Peck said. "We will go back and back to this conversation as long as nobody can say these are the definite changes."


AP Film Writer Jake Coyle and AP Entertainment Reporter Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.

AP Oscar predictions: What will win, what should win

Ahead of Sunday's 89th Academy Awards, Associated Press film writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle share their predictions for a ceremony many expect will be a "La La Land" sweep.


The Nominees: "Arrival," ''Fences," ''Hacksaw Ridge," ''Hell or High Water," ''Hidden Figures," ''La La Land," ''Lion," ''Manchester by the Sea" and "Moonlight."


Will Win: It has to be "La La Land."

Should Win: "La La Land," although that's not the stylish choice of the moment. I think we've all been burned too many times, by "The Artist" and "Argo" and other films that lure us in with their retro, navel gazing sensibilities and then evaporate from our memories come March 1. "La La Land" is different. It'll be a modern classic that we'll be watching for years to come.

Should Have Been a Contender: Mike Mills' "20th Century Women" is a film that gets better with every viewing. It is deep and funny and gives a poignant historical context of the lives of women in the very recent past.


Will Win: It would be idiotic to pick against "La La Land," the 14-time nominated favorite and Golden Globe winner. And, yet, I can't help myself. The election of Donald Trump changed the mood so drastically in Hollywood that I just don't see Chazelle's effervescent musical waltzing off with best picture. "Moonlight," lyrical and poetic, isn't a social issue film. But it feels more of-the-moment. Maybe it pulls off one of the most historic upsets in Oscar history. Just don't bet the house.

Should Win: "Moonlight," but not because of the post-election angst. Because it's beautiful.

Should Have Been a Contender: It had zero shot, but Terence Davies' "Sunset Song" was a pastoral hymn of a movie: a radiant portrait of Scottish farm life and time passing over it. Yeah, so not exactly Oscar bait.



The Nominees: Casey Affleck, "Manchester by the Sea"; Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge"; Ryan Gosling, "La La Land"; Viggo Mortensen, "Captain Fantastic" and Denzel Washington, "Fences."


Will Win: It's probably going to be Denzel Washington, and it won't be a bad call either. Washington has lived in August Wilson's Troy Maxson for years and his is a powerfully resonant interpretation.

Should Win: Casey Affleck has become another unpopular choice of late, but his performance in "Manchester by the Sea" is so singular and specific to him. He's the only one who could have made Lee Chandler work.

Should Have Been a Contender: Honestly, Tom Hanks. He was great in "Sully." Perhaps we've come to expect only the impossible from him at this point, though.


Will Win: This has turned into a nail-biter. I think the SAG winner Denzel takes it.

Should Win: If you look up "powerhouse performance" in the dictionary, you should just be treated to a torrent of words from the titanic Denzel. Affleck, too, is deserving. But I'm going to go with Gosling, who's being curiously underrated this year despite being more-or-less the coolest movie star on the planet. My vote, though, is more for him in "The Nice Guys" than "La La Land."

Should Have Been a Contender: Johnny Depp in "The Art of the Deal." No, the Funny or Die feature film about Trump wasn't even eligible. But before Alec Baldwin took over the part, Depp turned in his best wigged performance in years.



The Nominees: Isabelle Huppert, "Elle"; Ruth Negga, "Loving"; Natalie Portman, "Jackie"; Emma Stone, "La La Land" and Meryl Streep, "Florence Foster Jenkins."


Will Win: Emma Stone. The academy loves ingenues. It's even better when the role itself is "ingenue."

Should Win: This is a tough one. Stone is wonderful, but Natalie Portman had such an impossible task in embodying the public and private sides of Jackie Kennedy in a non-campy way, and she pulled it off magnificently.

Should Have Been a Contender: Annette Bening was transcendent as a the spirited single mom raising a teenage boy in 1979 Santa Barbara in Mike Mills' crisp and vibrant "20th Century Women."


Will Win: It's a competitive category, but Stone.

Should Win: Stone. What's not to like here? She can do it all.

Should Have Been a Contender: Honorable mention to Beyonce in "Lemonade" but Hailee Steinfeld, people. Already a nominee for "True Grit," the 20-year-old was uncannily good — funny, smart, real — in Kelly Fremon Craig's teen comedy "The Edge of Seventeen."



The Nominees: Mahershala Ali, "Moonlight"; Jeff Bridges, "Hell or High Water"; Lucas Hedges, "Manchester by the Sea"; Dev Patel, "Lion" and Michael Shannon "Nocturnal Animals."


Will Win: Mahershala Ali. Has anyone done so much to win an audience over with so little screen time?

Should Win: Mahershala Ali. Full stop. It's the role that made us all learn the name of an actor who we've all seen many times before. That's no small thing.

Should Have Been a Contender: I'm going to go out on a limb in support of one of my favorite performances of the year and say Ralph Fiennes for "A Bigger Splash." He never had a chance, but he's just bursting with joy and energy and delusion and it's one that makes me smile every time I think about it.


Will Win: Ali. From the vast cast of "Moonlight," he has (deservedly) been chosen

Should Win: Ali should because "Moonlight" is at its most soulful when he's onscreen. But we should all be rooting for a Michael Shannon speech if not on Sunday, some Oscars soon.

Should Have Been a Contender: The Academy Awards aren't really built to suitably reward the three Chirons of "Moonlight." Three actors — Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sander, Trevante Rhodes — playing the same character across three chapters, add up to the year's best performance.



The Nominees: Viola Davis, "Fences"; Naomie Harris, "Moonlight"; Nicole Kidman, "Lion"; Octavia Spencer, "Hidden Figures" and Michelle Williams, "Manchester by the Sea."


Will Win: It has to be Viola Davis, right? She's terrific in "Fences," even if it is more of a co-lead.

Should Win: "Supporting" quibbles aside, Davis is still the strongest candidate in a very strong category. Sorry, Michelle.

Should Have Been a Contender: Sometimes I fear we've forgotten what a real supporting part is (i.e., not just whoever is second-billed). Kelly Reichardt's "Certain Women" was never going to break through the Oscar ranks — it's too quiet, too slow, and, let's face it, probably too female — but if there were any justice, Lily Gladstone would have been among the nominated at least.


Will Win: Davis is the lock of all locks.

Should Win: Davis. It will be her first Oscar, but it won't be her last.

Should Have Been a Contender: It's a strange thing that Octavia Spencer, a fine actress, has been singled out for "Hidden Figures." Both of her co-stars, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae, are better in it. Monae, also electric in "Moonlight," really should have been in the running. Her entry into movies was one of the best things about 2016.



The Nominees: "La La Land," Damien Chazelle; "Hacksaw Ridge," Mel Gibson; "Moonlight," Barry Jenkins; "Manchester by the Sea," Kenneth Lonergan and "Arrival," Denis Villeneuve.


Will Win: Damien Chazelle, of course.

Should Win: "La La Land" was not an inevitability, nor is any original musical and Chazelle willed this impossible project into being despite all the odds — whether it be the time constraint of a sunset for the perfect shot or shutting down a freeway to stage the perfect opening number. The work is on the screen.

Should Have Been a Contender: Pablo Larrain had not one but two brilliant, genre defying biopics this year in "Neruda" and "Jackie."


Will Win: The 32-year-old wunderkind Chazelle appears to have it in the bag.

Should Win: Both Chazelle and Jenkins are overwhelmingly worthy. Just give these two exceptionally talented and annoyingly young filmmakers the keys to Hollywood.

Should Have Been a Contender: Andrea Arnold, the British director of "American Honey," created the year's most intoxicating sensory experience in her wild cross-country exploration. One of the most offensive Oscar stats is that no woman has been nominated in this category since 2010.


Follow Coyle on Twitter at and Bahr at

Paramount Pictures CEO leaving after 12 years

Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Brad Grey is leaving the movie studio after 12 years at the helm.

In a memo to employees, Grey said his duties end effective immediately but he will help his successor transition into the post. Paramount parent Viacom said they are searching for a new CEO.

The move comes after media mogul Sumner Redstone's National Amusements in December abandoned a proposal that CBS and Viacom reunite after a 10 year split. Viacom had also been considering selling a stake in Paramount but that was called off too.

Paramount, which makes the "Star Trek" reboot movie franchise, has been struggling to produce hits. It has a 104-year history with a film library that includes titles from the "Indiana Jones" and "Godfather" series.

In Oscar winners about Hollywood, undercurrents of anxiety

Hollywood is ready for its close-up. Again.

If Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" is to win best picture at Sunday's Academy Awards — and just about everyone thinks it's going to — it will surely go down as another in a run of movies about Hollywood to be celebrated by Hollywood. Two years ago it was Alejandro Inarritu's backstage comedy "Birdman" that was crowned at the Oscars. Before that, it was Ben Affleck's true-tale caper "Argo," where movie magic saves the day in Iran. And before that, it was Michel Hazanavicius's black-and-white homage to the silent era, "The Artist."

As of 5 p.m. PST Tuesday, all the votes are in. But many have already lamented the increasingly self-congratulatory nature of Hollywood's already exceedingly self-congratulatory awards season.

"It's just so narcissistic," lamented Bill Maher recently. "Another movie about movies. About us."

Maher is far from alone in his disdain for the navel gazing. Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang, wrote, has fallen in love "with yet another intoxicating vision of itself." Film writer Mark Harris called the anticipated sweep for "La La Land" (nominated for a record-tying 14 awards) "Hollywood-bubble solipsism."

"The history of the Oscars is going to be 'For decades, the academy gave best picture to films about all kinds of things,'" wrote Harris. "Then they stopped."

So what's changed? Well, just about everything.

In the five-year time span between "The Artist" to "La La Land," the movie industry has been beset by a swelling tide of turmoil. Streaming services have moved in. (Amazon and Netflix have 12 nominations between them this year.) So-called "Peak TV" arrived, and with it came an exodus of talent to the open fields of the small screen. The studios, watching the number of tickets sold decline every year, have doubled-down on comic-book adaptations and remakes. Film, itself, turned digital.

Cinema has proved indomitable to countless challengers in the past. But fears are pervasive that a new wave of disruption will topple the movies. "Cinema is gone," Martin Scorsese said upon the release of his little-seen religious epic "Silence." ''The cinema I grew up with and that I'm making, it's gone." Scorsese, as passionate a believer in the big screen as anyone, is reportedly taking one of his next films to Netflix.

There have been a number of Oscar best-picture winners about show business and the colorful lives of performers, including "The Broadway Melody" (1928), "Grand Hotel" (1932), "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936), "All About Eve" (1950), one of the two other films to notch 14 nods) and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998).

But it's a relatively recent development that the Academy Awards have been so swayed by movies about its own backyard. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out , it wasn't until "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash" won in the mid-'00s that an LA-set movie won best picture.

"La La Land," ''Birdman," ''Argo" and "The Artist" speak less to Hollywood's rosy view of itself than to its mounting fears and anxieties. "The Artist" was pure, monochrome nostalgia. "Argo," like the Coen brothers' recent "Hail, Caesar!," portrayed the do-anything spirit of the once all-powerful Hollywood studio. In "Birdman," an actor trying to make it on Broadway is haunted by his superhero past.

"Everybody's wearing a cape now," Inarritu sighed at the time. "I think always there are great films, it's just that they don't arrive to people. Or people have lost interest. It's not that they don't exist. They exist."

In "La La Land," just before Emma Stone's Mia rushes off to the Rialto Theatre to rendezvous with Ryan Gosling to see "Rebel Without a Cause," she sits quietly at a dinner conversation that would be familiar to anyone. Her boyfriend is bragging about his surround-sound TV.

"It's better than going to a theater, really. You know theaters these days. They're so dirty and they're either too hot or too cold and there's always people talking which is just so annoying."

For a town flush with negativity (and fast dropping studio heads ), "La La Land" is like a warm ray of sunshine.

"You're a part of so many of those conversations. Theaters are dying. Movies are dying, etcetera, etcetera," Chazelle said in an earlier interview. "It's the kind of thing where I'm either hoping they're wrong or having to reflect: 'Man, I must have been born 30 years too late.' Because all I've only ever wanted to do is make movies for the big screen since I can remember."

"In my own childhood, LA seemed to be just this unlivable city. To me, LA was 'Speed,' 'Volcano,' the 'Terminator' movies. It was this hard-edged city that was all big steel concrete buildings and highways," said Chazelle, who grew up in New Jersey and moved to LA a decade ago. "There's so many movies to be made about LA. It can contain both a more romantic portrayal like this and 'Speed,' which is its own sort of love letter. LA is America with a capital A, that idea of you can be anything, the open road, the big sky, the golden coast. It's a very iconic idea of America."

Ezra Edelman's nominated documentary "O.J.: Made in America" is a different kind of portrait of LA, also made by an East Coast guy. It, too, is the favorite to win Sunday. For Edelman, who grew up listening to West Coast hip-hop and watching the Simpson case, the city represents a mythical promised land.

There are, of course, other nominees made to urgently push cinema forward that don't wrestle with nostalgia the way "La La Land" does or survey Los Angeles like "O.J." And many argue that the stormy political mood in America doesn't call for a love letter like "La La Land," but for something — like "Moonlight" or "Hidden Figures" — with a message that resonates strongest outside of Southern California.

But if "La La Land" pulls out the win Sunday, it may just prove that Hollywood doesn't need another pat on the back, but a pep talk. Before the widescreen musical was a $300 million-plus worldwide hit, Tom Hanks vowed: "If the audience doesn't go and embrace something as wonderful as this," he said, "then we are all doomed."


This story corrects the year for "Grand Hotel" to 1932.


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at:

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