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By Ron Dicker and Ron Dicker,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | January 6, 2003
His beloved NBA Lakers are wheezing, but Jack Nicholson is thriving. In basketball terms, the 65-year-old actor is in the fourth quarter of his career. Yet he seems to be handling it with the savvy of a veteran point guard: all the right moves to compensate for a lost step. Nicholson wisely resurrected his humility in his latest movie, About Schmidt, which opened Friday. It wasn't easy. Warren Schmidt, the title character, doesn't date beautiful women nearly four decades his junior. He doesn't flash self-conscious smirks.
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By John Horn and John Horn,LOS ANGELES TIMES | January 22, 2004
PARK CITY, Utah - Show-business auditions are as old and varied as Hollywood itself, but in their newest incarnation at the Sundance Film Festival, these make-or-break tryouts have become a lot less private: Now you have to sell yourself in front of hundreds of spectators. The new audition instrument is the short movie, a cinematic calling card that may not last two minutes but can change a director's professional life. The Sundance short has become the SAT for admission into the independent film community, and many of today's top independent directors - from Wes Anderson to Alexander Payne - first attracted attention with a Sundance short.
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By John Horn and John Horn,LOS ANGELES TIMES | January 22, 2004
PARK CITY, Utah - Show-business auditions are as old and varied as Hollywood itself, but in their newest incarnation at the Sundance Film Festival, these make-or-break tryouts have become a lot less private: Now you have to sell yourself in front of hundreds of spectators. The new audition instrument is the short movie, a cinematic calling card that may not last two minutes but can change a director's professional life. The Sundance short has become the SAT for admission into the independent film community, and many of today's top independent directors - from Wes Anderson to Alexander Payne - first attracted attention with a Sundance short.
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By Ron Dicker and Ron Dicker,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | January 6, 2003
His beloved NBA Lakers are wheezing, but Jack Nicholson is thriving. In basketball terms, the 65-year-old actor is in the fourth quarter of his career. Yet he seems to be handling it with the savvy of a veteran point guard: all the right moves to compensate for a lost step. Nicholson wisely resurrected his humility in his latest movie, About Schmidt, which opened Friday. It wasn't easy. Warren Schmidt, the title character, doesn't date beautiful women nearly four decades his junior. He doesn't flash self-conscious smirks.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 28, 2005
Sideways swept the 20th annual Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday. The film about wine and relationships won six awards including: feature, director (Alexander Payne), male lead (Paul Giamatti), supporting male (Thomas Haden Church), supporting female (Virginia Madsen) and screenplay (Payne and Jim Taylor). The Spirits typically are awarded to films made by studios outside Hollywood's mainstream that push the cinematic envelope. Other winners included Oscar-nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno (female lead, for Maria Full of Grace)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Sun reporter | February 25, 2012
Twenty-year-old Shailene Woodley, practically at a loss for words, won the Best Supporting Female Spirit, and thanked everyone associated with "The Descendants" for helping her grow up. The four months she spent making the movie, Woodley said in accepting the award, were "four months that shaped my young-adult life. " "As an 18-year-old," she added backstage, "it was kind of a catalyst for me coming into my own. " Woodley, who played the headstrong teenage daughter of George Clooney in "The Descendants," lavished special praise on Clooney and director Alexander Payne.
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By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,Sun Film Critic | May 7, 1999
With wicked, blackhearted glee, "Election" rescues social satire from the icy remove of irony and slams it straight into the solar plexus, where it belongs.A stinging commentary on democracy, sexual mores and hypocrisy, the film pokes fun at nearly everyone in its path, and its exacting scalpel penetrates all the way to the bone.Directed by Alexander Payne with an appealing mix of tartness and sincerity, "Election" stars Matthew Broderick as Jim McAllister, an Omaha high school civics teacher whose dedication to his profession is equaled only by the adoration of his students.
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By Chris Kridler and Chris Kridler,SUN STAFF | February 28, 1997
Dubbed a "pro-laugh" comedy by its promoters, "Citizen Ruth" is indeed funny, although the warring factions on the front line of the abortion debate aren't likely to think so. Still, director and co-writer Alexander Payne skewers both sides with his canny satire, and the movie is likely to appeal to that lump of people in opinion polls who are decidedly "undecided."Laura Dern plays Ruth Stoops -- a name that sounds as low as she is -- who is undecided to the point of utter negligence. A "huffer" who gets high off spray paint and other substances best used in well-ventilated areas, she is introduced as she has nearly unconscious sex with a fellow loser while the romantic tones of "All the Way" accompany opening credits.
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February 21, 2005
Writers Guild prizes go to `Sunshine,' `Sideways' Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won the best original screenplay award for Charlie Kaufman Saturday night at the 57th Annual Writers Guild Awards. Best adapted screenplay went to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for Sideways. Other winners, for TV, included long-form adapted writing to Tony Kushner for Angels in America; episodic drama to "The Supremes" on West Wing; episodic comedy to "Pier Pressure" on Arrested Development and "Ida's Boyfriend" on Malcolm in the Middle; and daytime serial, The Guiding Light.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 28, 2005
HOLLYWOOD -Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood's film about a female boxer whose biggest challenges come outside the ring, scored a knockout last night at the 77th annual Academy Awards with four Oscar wins, including Best Picture. Released by Warner Bros. late in the year to take advantage of what the studio saw as a weak field, the film also earned awards for director Eastwood, actress Hilary Swank and supporting actor Morgan Freeman. With first-time host Chris Rock keeping things lively with pointed humor that stopped just short of being too risque for the network airwaves (censors beeped out his words at least twice)
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By Patrick Goldstein and Patrick Goldstein,LOS ANGELES TIMES | January 30, 2005
HOLLYWOOD - It's a funny thing, but today's movie studios are no longer in the Oscar business. If there's one common thread among this year's five best-picture nominees, it's that they were largely financed by outside investors. The most money any studio put into one of the nominees was the $21 million Miramax anted up for Finding Neverland. The other nominated films were orphans - ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that eagerly remake dozens of old TV series (aren't you looking forward to a bigger, dumber version of The Dukes of Hazzard?
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 5, 2004
Former college roommates Miles and Jack, both firmly ensconced in middle age and enduring the myriad crises that station in life inevitably entails, have embarked on a tour of California's wine country. For reluctant divorcee Miles, the trip is a chance to maybe finally move past his failed marriage and a present to his longtime bud, an opportunity for last-chance bonding before Jack's impending nuptials. For veteran bachelor Jack, it's a chance to sow some final wild oats. For audiences, Sideways is a voyage of rediscovery, a chance to revel in the simple pleasures - too often forgotten in this age of cinematic blockbusters - of a film that celebrates the intricacies of life in ways both splendid and mundane, revealing it all with unflinching honesty.
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