Naomi Watts

Andrew Dominik Blonde

Filmmaker Andrew Dominik’s long-in-the-making attempt to turn Joyce Carol Oates’ Pulitzer Prize finalist “Blonde,” a loose (and beloved) 700-page take on the life of Marilyn Monroe, into a feature film has steadily become a prime candidate for inclusion on listicles that chart great-sounding films that never happened. It’s like Dune! Or The Man Who Killed Don Quixote! But it could still totally happen! But the news that Dominik’s feature has snagged a new leading lady to play the Monroe part, despite the long-time attachment of another famous blonde and little public indication that he needed a fresh face, seems to indicate that this thing might actually happen after all. The Wrap shares that Dominik’s film has now cast Jessica Chastain as Monroe, with an eye to start filming in August. As much as we really want to see this film – a true passion project for Dominik, as cliche as that may sound – we’re still skeptical. After all, we’ve learned from the past.

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sunlight-jr

With Diana premiering to less-than stellar reviews in the UK, it’s perhaps kindest for us to focus on another Naomi Watts project hitting theaters just two weeks after its release in the United States – smooth move, Watts. In the Laurie Collyer (Sherrybaby) drama Sunlight Jr., Watts plays a convenience store clerk working tirelessly to support herself and her disabled partner (Matt Dillon). When she becomes pregnant, their joy is clouded by the realization that they barely have enough money to take care of themselves. Add the sudden appearance of her stalker ex-boyfriend (Norman Reedus), and everything has gone to hell. The difference between this trailer and Diana (that makes all the difference) is that you get taken in by Watts’ problems and emotional breakdown. Her story seems all too real and miserable. However, our own Caitlin Hughes reviewed the film at Tribeca and wasn’t too convinced, saying that the depiction of the lower class was bordering on “stereotypical.” Check out the trailer here:

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naomi:nicole

We’ve been hearing about Werner Herzog’s Gertrude Bell biopic, Queen of the Desert, for quite a while now. Not only is it an enticing project because it’s going to see a crazy man like Herzog taking a film crew out to the desert for a big shoot, but it was also looking like something everyone was going to look forward to because it had Naomi Watts starring as Bell. Everyone loves Naomi Watts, especially when she gets to play a strong character like Bell, who was an explorer, politician, archeologist, and who did quite a bit to influence policy in the Middle East during the early parts of the 20th century. Basically, she was Indiana Jones crossed with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but real. And a lady. The bad news here is that Deadline is reporting Watts can no longer star in the film. And really, who can blame her? Being out in the desert with Herzog for who knows how long sounds scary as all get out. The good news is that the production still looks to be on, as Herzog has found another white lady with an accent, Nicole Kidman, to take her place.

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Naomi Watts in Diana

People have been making films about Princess Diana since long before her death in 1997, and people will continue to make films about her for years to come. But Oliver Hirschbiegel‘s Diana may be the biggest Princess Diana movie so far. Starring Naomi Watts as the eponymous princess, Diana was picked up at Cannes this spring with the intent to market it this fall. Presumably, the idea is for Diana to rake in several dump trucks worth of statuettes, one of which would be an Oscar for Watts.

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diana trailer

It’s the classic story of boy meets girl, when the girl happens to be the most famous woman in the world. The full-length trailer for Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana is giving us a little more to work with than the teaser, showing Naomi Watts step into the role of the beloved Princess of Wales during the tumultuous time after her divorce from Prince Charles. Rather than focusing on her time in the palace, the film will depict the princess as a single gal, navigating her first post-Charles love affair with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Lost’s Naveen Andrews) as the media scrutinizes her every move. And if the soaring, inspirational score is any indication, we are supposed to feel very bad about this happening and quite frankly ashamed that we didn’t let her be a normal (yet still inspirational) woman in love. How dare us?

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Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they fall down the rabbit hole of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive with an exit strategy. In the #28 movie on the list, a young woman with stars in her eyes helps an actress with amnesia discover who she is, and why she has a stack of cash and a mysterious blue key in her purse. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Adore Movie

The trailer for Adore, and presumably the movie itself, leaps unstoppably from one impulsive decision to the next. It’s the adult drama version of a horror movie where we’re yelling for them not to go up the stairs (or not to have sex with their best friend’s son), but they do it anyway. Why don’t movies ever listen to their audiences? A lot fewer people would get slashed by masked killers, and a lot fewer women would give in to the impulse to feel what the fruit of their friends’ loins does to their loins. The women of Anne Fontaine‘s (Coco Before Chanel) new movie are Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts), two childhood friends who now have children of their own. On what looks like a Blue Lagoon-style bit of isolation with their sons, Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) and Ian (Xavier Samuel), things heat up, a ton of bad decisions are made, and the sons swap moms. So, yes, it’s basically the prestige version of this. And, yes, it’s incredibly sexy:

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Naomi Watts in Diana

In August of 1996, Her Royal Highness became Diana, Princess of Wales when her divorce from Prince Charles stripped her of the style. This was after years of media interest into the marriage, its various problems and adulteries threatened to strip her of just about everything else. Regardless, she remained an immensely beloved figure, and her life (and death in 1997) still resonate greatly today. One echo is Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel‘s new film, Diana, which sees Naomi Watts playing the princess in the final two years of her life. While it chronicles her crusade against landmines, it’ll most likely be her relationship with Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews) and conspiracy-theory-laden demise that will cause the biggest explosions. It’ll see theaters on August 29th (almost exactly 16 years after her death), and the new teaser trailer gives us a moving glimpse of Watts in the lead role:

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Naomi Watts in Diana

In celebration for its newly-acquired U.S. distribution rights, the first official look at Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in Oliver Hirschbiegel‘s biopic, Diana (previously known as Caught in Flight), has just hit the web. And…she looks suitably blond and hair-helmeted! She also looks dead serious, and considering the film follows the end of the princess’ life and her love affair with Dr. Hasnat Khan, such calm focus is to be expected. It’s not the first time Watts has changed up her look to play a famous blonde – remember that “first look” at her as Marilyn Monroe from (seemingly) a million years ago? Yeah, still holding out on that one, Andrew Dominik. Diana will be released in time for Oscar season, so get ready to see plenty more of those hair wings in the coming months. [Deadline Hollywood, via /Film]

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commentary-theimpossible

Some films labeled as Oscar bait actually go on to win Oscars, but others simply get shunned for their supposed efforts to manipulate audiences. Sadly, Juan Antonia Bayona‘s The Impossible fell into the latter category. The film follows a vacationing family caught up in the 2004 tsunami that devastated coastal areas in Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere, killing over 230,000 people in the process. The family’s experience is brought to immediate life through powerful performances and Bayona’s dedication to crafting terrifyingly realistic sequences. The film attracted criticism for casting Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as part of a “whitewashing” of the true story, but that’s just people being willfully ignorant and missing the point of the film altogether. Instead the takeaway should simply be that this is a story of love, loss, hope and the realization that there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. Keep reading to see what I learned from the commentary track for The Impossible.

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Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 10.16.45 AM

Most women who become pregnant with the man they’re deeply in love with would see it as a joyous experience. In Laurie Collyer’s (Sherrybaby) Sunlight Jr., Melissa (Naomi Watts) certainly is deeply in love with her boyfriend Richie (Matt Dillon) when she discovers that she is expecting a baby, and is initially excited about the entire prospect of being a mother. Though when the reality sets in that she and Richie barely make enough money to get by living in a dank motel room, in addition to a bevy of other problems, a dark cloud rolls in over the otherwise happy news of pregnancy. Collyer’s film features great performances from Watts and Dillon, and the film’s cinematography is a standout, though it suffers somewhat from perhaps an overly literal depiction of the lower class.

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watts

What is Casting Couch? It’s not a fishing program on public access. It’s a place on the Internet to go to hear about actors landing roles. Today we have the latest on The Rock’s upcoming schedule, as well as a new member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. If you weren’t already on board to see a movie where Bill Murray plays a creepy old man who teaches all of his wrong-headed ways to his 12-year-old neighbor, then there’s probably something wrong with you, but St. Vincent De Van Nuys hasn’t given up on you yet. It’s latest strategy to lure you in, which comes after casting Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd as Murray’s co-stars, is to sign up Naomi Watts in the role of a Russian prostitute who Murray’s character likes to keep company with. That sounds both ridiculous and sexy, which are basically the two best ways anything can be. [Deadline]

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Best Actress

There are two main rivalries in the 2013 Best Actress race. There’s a head-to-head showdown between Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain. These ladies even have a supposed rivalry brewing between them. By all accounts, they are the ones to beat. There’s also that oldest versus youngest match-up between Amour’s Emmanuelle Riva [oldest] and Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis [youngest]. And then there’s The Impossible’s Naomi Watts. Hopefully there will be an upset so this Oscars 2013 don’t prove to be too boring. Though the Oscars do lean toward the predictable… Will any of these actresses go down in history with a bombastic speech, featuring a line akin to “You like me! You really like me!” or suffer some sort of horrendous wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet? Will there be a deluge of tears that goes down in history? Only time will tell. Hopefully the chosen lady is somewhat well-deserving of her award and at least has a good stylist. Here are the nominees with my predicted winner is in red:

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JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

The 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held tomorrow night, and I invite you to join myself and FSR’s awards guru, Daniel Walber, for live-blog commentary during the ceremony. We’ll try to keep it smart, avoid too much snark and will likely be obeying the rules of the drinking game that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have devised. It will also hopefully be more conversational than remarks we could have just tweeted, in order that I can turn the discussion around as a more readable post-event recap of the night. In case you’re too busy paying attention to your TV to also read our words simultaneously. Anyway, you can’t head into a big awards telecast viewing without predictions for what you think will win. Daniel and I seem to agree on exactly half of the movie categories. So, maybe it won’t be such a predicable night. Check out our choices after the break and give us your own predictions in the comments. If you do better than either of us, we commend you in advance (and maybe at the end of our GG coverage too).

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ja bayona

The Impossible is a tough movie for many reasons. With a real-life tragedy of this magnitude, if the smallest moment comes off as what we usually label as “entertainment,” the movie can become offensive with any hint of Roland Emmerich-ness. Director J.A. Bayona seems well-aware of this fact, as he was sure the right choices were made from the start. Bayona didn’t want to make a “disaster” picture, but rather a faithful, emotional experience set through the eyes of a Western family during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Not only is bringing those feelings to screen a major storytelling challenge, but it’s also a technical one. Here’s what Bayona had to say about being his own audience, why he may be romantic for film, and the many challenges of The Impossible. 

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Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 10.19.58 PM

J.A. Bayona’s film The Impossible is based on the true story of a Spanish family who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as they were taking a Christmas vacation at a Thailand resort. We know from real life and from the film’s trailer that the whole family survives, and while separated by the disaster, eventually find their way back to each other – so giving that piece of information away in this review isn’t a spoiler, per se. And the film doesn’t hinge on that piece of information, it’s more concerned with the power of each family members’ individual wills to find each other and survive until they do. The film features some great acting performances, though its direction is sometimes a mixed bag of manipulative melodrama and suspenseful moments of dread. Changed from a Spanish to an English family in the film, the Bennetts are a well-off family living in Japan. Henry (Ewan McGregor) is a businessman whose job is perhaps in jeopardy and his wife Maria (Naomi Watts) is a doctor who has taken some time off to raise their three sons, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast). They try to set all family tensions aside as they take a family vacation to an exclusive resort in Thailand for Christmas. When spending some time poolside one afternoon, the tsunami suddenly strikes, leaving a severely injured Maria with Lucas, and Henry with the youngest two children. The film nearly occurs in two sections: the first […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

It is devastating whenever something tragic and unexpected happens, but when tragedy hits during the holidays, normally a time of celebration and good cheer, the impact seems even greater. As a nation, we know this feeling all too well due to the recent events in Connecticut, but this was sadly not the first time an unthinkable event occurred during a time when people are usually focusing on giving thanks and looking back over the year. In 2004, a deadly tsunami hit the coast of South East Asia, demolishing buildings, land, and people caught in its path. While this kind of natural event is much different than the harm caused by a person, the emotions related to suddenly losing, or being separated from, loved ones become the universal tenants of these awful situations. The images and stories that came out in the wake of this tsunami spoke for themselves, but The Impossible adds a personal touch by taking audiences inside the experience through the real life story of a family who was vacationing over the holidays in Thailand when the unthinkable struck and their lives were forever changed. The idea of a family being physically separated by powers beyond their control is enough to bring out one’s emotions and get your pulse racing which makes the task of a composer, in this case Fernando Velázquez, all the more daunting because music is not necessary to conjure up the emotions being felt and displayed on screen.

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Back when we first heard about director Andrew Dominik‘s cinematic adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates‘ “Blonde” (itself an interpretation of the life of Marilyn Monroe), the big concern was that the film would be facing off against another Monroe biopic, the Michelle Williams-starring My Week With Marilyn. But Dominik’s film was ultimately delayed, My Week With Marilyn earned Williams an Oscar nod, Watts signed on to play another famous blond (Princess Diana), and it seemed as if we might never see Blonde on the big screen. Thankfully, we were wrong. The Playlist sat down with the Killing Them Softly director earlier this week, and the filmmaker told the outlet about his next project, which is now slated to be Blonde, saying quite simply: “I’m going to do this movie called Blonde, which is about Marilyn Monroe.” He went on to say that the film is “about her whole life. It starts when she’s seven and it ends when she dies.” He also compared it to “a Polanski descent-into-madness-type movie,” which sounds pretty much excellent. He added to that by saying, “It’s very pseudo-Freudian. The lines between fantasy and reality become very blurred in the story.” 

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The Impossible

The ocean is a beautiful and terrifying body of nature that can both entice and trap. Anyone who has been caught in a riptide or had an unexpected wave suddenly crash over their heads knows the power of the ocean, and the fear it can cause if it overtakes you. When the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004, we all saw the devastation that disaster caused to the area and heard about the lives lost and families torn apart because of it. Based on a true story, The Impossible goes a step further and actually takes us into the experience through the eyes of a family on an idyllic vacation that suddenly gets turned on its head. Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) have traveled to Thailand with their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), and Thomas (Samuel Joslin) to spend the Christmas holiday at a luxurious resort making their biggest question whether they want to swim in the resort’s pool or the nearby ocean. The day after Christmas the entire family is out by the pool, playing and relaxing, when the tsunami hits, proving to be as unexpected as it is relentless.

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Nicolas Cage

What is Casting Couch? It’s your Monday look at all of the great work casting agents and PR people did over the weekend to keep those Hollywood gears turning. UPDATED: We dreamed too soon, kids. It seems like Sylvester Stallone is fully committed to his experiment of figuring out how many big name celebrities have to be packed into an Expendables movie before one of them actually becomes interesting. The latest news regarding his quest (found on Stallone’s Facebook page by JoBlo) is that Nicolas Cage has been confirmed for a role in The Expendables 3, and that Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Mickey Rourke are the names he intends on recruiting next. You keep on trucking there, Mr. Stallone. With the addition of just five or ten more celebrities, The Expendables 3 is bound to be the one that finally gets out of first gear and actually becomes a decent action movie. We have faith!

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