TIME movies

Writer: Matthew McConaughey No Christian Hero for Thanking God in Speech

Matthew McConaughey accepts the Best Actor award at the 2014 Oscars
Matthew McConaughey accepts the Best Actor award at the 2014 Oscars Adam Taylor—ABC via Getty Images

The predictable backlash to the praise for the Dallas Buyers Club actor's Oscars acceptance speech has finally arrived

In all likelihood, you didn’t notice that Matthew McConaughey thanked god first when he accepted his Best Actor award for Dallas Buyers Club at the Oscars on Mar 2. After nearly three-and-a-half hours, you could hardly be blamed. And even if you did notice, odds are you didn’t care. But there were some people who did care. They cared very, very much.

Part of the reason people care is that award winners thanking god is far from common at the Oscars. According to the Daily Caller, god has been thanked just 14 times in 100 speeches over the last 30 years. In the last decade, according to Slate, god has been mentioned fewer times than Meryl Streep.

So when McConaughey mentioned god right away, Christians were understandably excited. “First off I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand,” McConaughey said after receiving his award. “He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you got God you got a friend and that friend is you.’”

But it seems that there’s at least one writer who is not on board with the idea of McConaughey, a 44-year-old Texas native, being crowned the savior of Christianity in Hollywood. Melissa Edgington, author of “Your Mom Has a Blog,” has declared that the Magic Mike star is not her hero:

But, there’s one tiny issue with setting Matthew McConaughey up as our next great Christian idol. And, the problem is the movie he won the Oscar for. And pretty much every other movie he’s ever made. (Anyone remember a little film called Magic Mike?) According to pluggedin.com, Dallas Buyer’s Club opens with McConaughey’s character having sex with two girls at the same time in a rodeo stall. That’s only the beginning of the explicit sexual content in the movie. In addition to the nudity, masturbation, and pornography, the film contains over 100 f-words and God’s name is used as a curse word over 20 times.

Matthew McConaughey made this movie, which he was rewarded by Hollywood for making, which goes out into our society and poisons the hearts and minds of our men, women, and young people. And then he gets up to accept his award for making filth that turns hearts away from God, and he thanks God for the opportunity, and Christians applaud him as if he has done something incredible.

This backlash has, predictably, spawned backlash of its own—bad enough that Edgington has had to shut down the comments for her posts on the subject (yes, there was a follow-up). None of this should come us a surprise. McConaughey’s speech was bound to stir up some excitement (and not just for fans of Dazed and Confused), just as it was inevitable that there would be those eager to downplay and reject that enthusiasm. Blameless in all of this, however, is McConaughey himself. Though he did call a future version of himself ‘my hero’ in his acceptance speech, he never declared himself “the next great Christian idol.” And it can be a little bit difficult to seriously trust the opinion of a writer who hasn’t seen the films she’s calling “filth.” Maybe the thing to do in situations like these is take McConaughey’s own advice and just keep livin’.

[via Film Drunk]

TIME celebrities

10 Things We Learned about the Oscars From Jennifer Lawrence’s BFF

86th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage
Actress Jennifer Lawrence and friend Laura Simpson backstage during the Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Christopher Polk—Getty Images

Best friend writes a funny blog post about her experiences as a non-famous person backstage at the Oscars

The latest chapter in the chronicle of the most amazing woman in the world—Jennifer Lawrence—was penned not by Lawrence herself but by her best friend, Laura Simpson. Simpson (who is not famous, though she might be by the end of the week) was Lawrence’s date to the Oscars. She chronicled the highlights of the night in a hilarious MySpace post—because of course Lawrence’s BFF would be funny.

Here are the highlights.

1. Picking a dress is super stressful, even when you’re not famous

“I had a complete meltdown. Somehow the night before the Oscars I managed to get into an argument with my best friend, my mom and my boyfriend. I think I cried more in the 12 hours before the Oscars than I have in 10 years—I was really getting into the drama of the evening. I somehow managed to make an entire event having nothing to do with me all about me and my precious feelings.”

2. Jennifer Lawrence loves Chandler Bing

Okay, that’s not a fact about the Oscars, just the most beloved person at the Oscars.

3. There are men in camouflage with big guns guarding the red carpet

“Highland (between Sunset and Hollywood) is filled with barricades with different entry points so no crazy person can plow their car through, killing everyone on the red carpet. Guarding each entry point through the barricades are men in head to toe camouflage with gigantic automatic weapons (rifles? I don’t know guns).”

4. People were standing outside the Oscars with signs that showed Paul Walker and Philip Seymour Hoffman burning in hell

“Completely lining the sidewalks of Highland are the Jesus freaks. I am not talking a few—I am talking every inch of the sidewalk is full of God-fearing picket signs and psalms…Right before you get to the red carpet, you get to Westboro Baptists with huge yellow signs of pictures of Phillip [sic] Seymour Hoffman and Paul Walker saying ‘BURNING IN HELL’ and other despicable things.”

5. She was the girl Jennifer Lawrence grabbed onto as she tanked on the red carpet

6. Nobody can see anything during most of the Oscars

“They mount two maybe 32″ TVs on either side of the auditorium which are near impossible to see so basically everyone in the theater is just sitting in complete darkness during the categories.”

7. People get really drunk and really hungry during the awards

“It’s around this time that you realize you are STARVING and haven’t had any food since breakfast at 9 a.m. It’s hot and you feel like you’re going to pass out. After waiting for my date’s category, her dad and I decide to hit the bar and just watch from the monitor behind the bar and slam a few drinks to make this tolerable. The Academy really needs to spring for more hors d’oeuvres options because now everyone is hammered.”

8. Kerry Washington likes Slim Jims

“The lovely pregnant Kerry Washington asks me if she could have the Slim Jim in my purse.”

“I didn’t have an opinion about her until I met her and I wish she were having my baby. Slim Jims forever, Kerry!”

9. Brad Pitt smells amazing

“Eventually we ask what cologne he’s wearing and he tells us, “I don’t wear cologne, it’s just my musk I guess.” I have to choose not to believe him because it would just be unfair to mankind.”

10. Harvey Weinstein is as much of a jerk as you think he is

“Harvey Weinstein at the bar shaking my hand and saying, ‘you know who I am.’”

TIME celebrities

VIDEO: Oprah Gives Away Essence Cover Dress To Twitter Follower

Sometimes, all you need to do is ask

Oprah Winfrey is renowned for surprising her fans with cars, trips and gift bags, but this week the former talk-show queen gifted one of her Twitter followers with a designer dress she wore on a magazine cover.

When Atlanta resident Brandi saw Oprah Winfrey on the cover of Essence Magazine’s March issue, she fell in love with O’s over-the-top gown. She Tweeted the media mogul asking if she could have it.

And it turns out, ask and you shall receive.

On Feb. 21, exactly one week after she first tweeted Winfrey, Brandi tweeted that the star’s dress was now in her hands.

TIME Oscars 2014

Why The Oscars Snubbed Batkid And How Spider-Man Saved The Day

Sony and Screen Gems Panels - Comic-Con International 2013
Andrew Garfield attends The Sony and Screen Gems Panelsl as part of Comic-Con International 2013 held at San Diego Convention Center on Friday July 19, 2012 in San Diego, California. Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

Andrew Garfield went with "Batkid" Miles Scott to Disneyland the day after they were snubbed at the Academy Awards

When the Academy bumped five-year-old Miles Scott, aka “Batkid,” from his appearance at the Oscars last week, his family was understandably disappointed.

Miles, who has leukemia, made headlines across the U.S. in November when the Make-A-Wish Foundation and hordes of volunteers transformed San Francisco into Gotham City for a day—complete with bad guys who needed to be conquered—so he could have the chance to be a superhero. Little Miles became an insta-celebrity so it seemed a natural fit to have him appear along with The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield at the Oscars, which this year had a “Heroes” theme. One problem: the segment never aired.

When news of the axed segment leaked, people were angry. And when gossip columns reported that the appearance was cut because Garfield stormed out of rehearsals after disapproving of the segment’s script, people were even angrier. But Variety reports that the decision had nothing to do with the actor at all. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences released a statement on Thursday that explained, “Due to the nature of a live show, hard decisions sometimes must be made which require the Academy to cut segments due to the logistics of production.”

Further clarifying the situation, Garfield’s publicist released a statement to Vanity Fair that said when the Academy cancelled the segment, “Andrew and Miles were equally upset.” Yet there is a happy ending as the statement revealed that “the producers arranged for Miles and his family to visit Disneyland [the next day] and Andrew drove down to visit them and to bring Miles a personal gift.”

So instead of appearing in front of millions of strangers, Batkid got to spend the day with Spider-Man at Disneyland, which sounds like a far better deal anyway. Even cuter, however, is that Garfield and Miles actually held their own mini-Oscars ceremony in a hotel room, tuxes and all.

TIME Oscars

‘Adele Dazeem’ Takes Broadway

Idina Menzel Replaced on Playbill

John Travolta’s Oscar flub just keeps on giving. Even Idina Menzel herself is getting in on the act, extending the gag to Broadway. Mark Halperin explains why we can’t just ‘Let It Go.’

TIME Oscars

Homer Simpson Shoved Out of Ellen’s Oscar Selfie

Apparently got the shaft from most re-tweeted photo of all time

Midway through the Oscars on Sunday night, host Ellen DeGeneres staged perhaps the most star-studded selfie in history:

The photo shattered the record for most re-tweets, and as of Wednesday morning had been re-tweeted more than 3.2 million times. But take a closer look, and you can see that Bradley Cooper wasn’t the only star on the bottom row:

Despite Homer’s call to break Twitter again, the photo has gotten only about 60,000 re-tweets from The Simpsons‘ official account and from Homer’s own feed. But one of those re-tweets came from Oscar winner Jared Leto, who took home his first golden statue and is now part of the legendary cartoon’s universe:

TIME movies

Captain Phillips Co-Star Barkhad Abdi Is ‘Struggling’

His work alongside Tom Hanks in his debut role grossed $200 million, but Academy Award-nominated actor Abdi only made $65,000 from the film and now relies on loaned clothes and help from friends to get by until his next big paycheck comes in

He may have made waves in the smash hit Captain Phillips and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but Somali American actor Barkhad Abdi is struggling to keep his head above water financially, according to an article in the New Yorker.

While the film was a critical and financial success after netting more than $200 million globally, the first time actor was reportedly only paid $65,000 two years ago for his contribution, along with the occasional per diem for promoting the film.

Since relocating to Hollywood from Minnesota, the actor has had to rely on loaned clothes and the good graces of friends, including a Somali cabdriver who gives him free rides, to get by.

While the actor claims he’s in the process of reading through scripts, he has no nailed down roles lined up for the future, according to his IMDB page.

[New Yorker]

 

TIME Oscars

John Travolta Apologizes for Butchering Idina Menzel’s Name at the Oscars

Presenter John Travolta speaks during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Presenter John Travolta speaks during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles. John Shearer—John Shearer/Invision/AP

Saturday Night Fever actor John Travolta said he's been "beating himself up all day" over his flubbed Oscars introduction of Frozen star Idina Menzel, who performed that movie's hit song "Let It Go" at the Academy Awards

After botching his introduction to Broadway actress and Frozen star Idina Menzel at Sunday night’s Oscars, John Travolta issued an apology of sorts Tuesday, but offered no explanation on why he called her “Adele Dazeem.”

“I’ve been beating myself up all day,” Travolta said in an emailed statement to the LA Times. “Then I thought…what would Idina Menzel say, She’d say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

Menzel was at the Oscars performing “Let It Go,” the hit song from the animated picture.

[LA Times]

TIME movies

Forget The Oscar: Jared Leto Was Miscast in Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto as Rayon in Jean-Marc Vallée’s fact-based drama, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, a Focus Features release. Photo Credit:  Anne Marie Fox / Focus Features
Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Anne Marie Fox—Focus Features

Imagine how many trans people could become stars if just given a chance

I didn’t need to glimpse even a single frame of Dallas Buyers Club to know that casting Jared Leto in the role of a trans woman was just plain wrong. I wasn’t interested in Leto’s acting capabilities, the portrayal of the character, or the quality of the film overall. I just couldn’t understand why another film had been created with a trans character that had no trans actor in that role. Now that he’s taken home the Oscar for best supporting actor for that role, the question matters even more.

As a trans woman, I’ve been watching movies that have major roles with trans characters for years. Film after film, I’ve sat on my couch or theater seat and wondered to myself why the directors almost never get it right. Why is the main or supporting character played by a cisgender person when they have plenty of other actors in the film that are trans, and giving a stellar performance? Did the investors of the film decide it was too risky? Was it the director who felt that the trans people who auditioned were not good enough? Did the director even audition trans people?

I found my answer when I listened with jaw dropped to what director Jean-Marc Vallee had to say on CBC Radio about casting a trans person as the role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. “Never,” he said. “Is there any transgender actor? To my knowledge — I don’t know one. I didn’t even think about it”. When the interviewer interjected with, “Of course there are transgender actors,” Vallee answered with, “Which ones? There’s like five, or three, or what — two? I never thought of that. I never thought of hiring a real rodeo guy to play the rodeo Ron Woodruff. And just like in every film — we’re actors, we’re directors. I’m not aiming for the real thing. I’m aiming for an experienced actor who wants to portray the thing.”

(MORE: Don’t Applaud Jared Leto’s Transgender ‘Mammy’)

Vallee’s response makes me wonder if he would ever take, or has taken, the time to search for a black person to play the role of an essential black character in any of his films? Would he find it prudent to dress up a white man in brown make up, teach him how to “act black” and put him in the role simply because he just didn’t think about it, or because he thought black actors were just not experienced enough?

It’s one thing when actors take on other races or genders in movies like Cloud Atlas. After all, that was a part of what that movie was all about, and it was equal across the board in terms of actors switching roles. But, not considering a minority to play an essential minority role? Not honestly searching for that breakthrough ‘undiscovered’ actor in an acting school, or local film and theater scene across this country?

Every year we have breakthrough performances by cisgender actors with relatively little experience. My personal favorite is Michelle Rodriguez in her role as Diana Guzman in Girlfight. Or more recently Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, and Mahat M. ali in Captain Phillips. These four men with Somali roots were picked out of obscurity with little to no acting experience out of a casting call of around 700 men –Abdi was even nominated alongside Jared Leto for best supporting actor. Their superb acting abilities showed there are times when no previous acting experience is necessarily needed when one has authenticity.

How many trans people could become stars if just given a chance? How many more actors like Orange Is The New Black’s Laverne Cox are out there? Or are we to believe she is the only one? With the amount of time spent on Dallas Buyers Club, couldn’t the director have spent some of it on finding a trans actor? He could have come up with at least 10 trans actors within just a few minutes of a Google search, and way more if he actually thought about it.

(MORE: Hollywood’s Surprising New Character)

On Saturday I finally saw the film. It was indeed moving, as moving as all of the other movies that I have watched in the past that have tackled LGBT or HIV/AIDS issues and have had a trans character’s role played by a cisgender person. But I can’t shake the sense that this is reminiscent of when black roles in film were few to none. I can’t seem to shake how Laverne Cox hasn’t had an Oscar nominated role, no matter how admired she is as the only major American trangender actor, nearly reaching the status of Sidney Poitier to her fans.

Dallas Buyers Club also got me thinking about movies I loved, and one in particular: Haywire, starring Gina Carrano. After Gina’s run as an MMA fighter she moved on to secure acting roles in action films, which is quite common for MMA fighters with no acting experience. I wondered if there would be any such possibility for me or any other trans person on the face of the planet. Could I imagine that? A serious trans action star? Or a trans role in an action or SCI-Fi movie that wasn’t just there to be made fun of, or to redeem another character? I’d like to imagine a groundbreaking trans hero.

I’d like to imagine a writer and director with enough imagination, passion and guts to create a story that humanizes a trans character and is brought to life with the kind of vivid details a trans actor could bring to the role. Yes, in addition to the many missed opportunities for trans actors, having enough roles in film that positively portray trans people is another problem I often ponder.

Having the opportunity to play positive roles seems slim for trans actors when I look at the abysmal lack of confidence and intestinal fortitude of Hollywood. I can’t be the only one to have dreamed of such uplifting opportunities for our community. But that will never happen if no one sheds light on the absence of trans actors and no one dares to challenge the absence of trans actors and the unequivocal celebration of cis actors in trans roles.

Fallon Fox is a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, and one of only a few out Trans athletes competing on the professional level, her participation and unwavering determination to continue in her sport caused commissions to look into creating guidelines for trans athlete participation. Fallon’s story has inspired millions inside and out of the LGBT community.

TIME Ukraine

Russia Denies Cutting Jared Leto’s Ukraine Shoutout From Oscars Broadcast

After the state-run television station canceled planned live coverage of the awards ceremony

Russia’s state-run television station station is denying it aired a censored version of the Academy Awards ceremony that omitted Jared Leto’s mention of Ukraine in his acceptance speech.

“The channel aired a 90-minute international version of the Oscar ceremony, which was not to be cut and was provided by the rights holder,” a spokesperson for Channel One told The Hollywood Reporter.

Channel One was criticized after it canceled planned live coverage of the Oscars ceremony, opting instead to air a recorded version later. Large segments of the ceremony were omitted from the trimmed down recorded version, including Jared Leto’s award acceptance speech in which he made reference to the turmoil in Ukraine.

“To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight, in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say: We are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we’re thinking of you tonight,” he said.

The Russian station acknowledges Leto’s speech was not in its Oscars broadcast but denies the station was responsible for the censoring.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

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