1. Chelsea Handler’s comedic personality isn’t always easy to love; like Schumer’s and Sarah Silverman’s, it’s aggressive, raunchy, and thrives on shock value. Ultimately, though, these are all personas meant to undermine the cultural expectations we place on women’s speech. In this particular comedic performance, no one is proverbially safe and there’s little room for niceness.
     


  2. This Oscar category has a history of producing American standards, like “When You Wish Upon a Star.” In this week’s podcast our entertainment editor picks out three of the previous Best Song winners.

    Listen to our playlist of Best Song winners here.

    Subscribe and listen to all of The Week’s mini-podcasts on SoundCloud hereand on iTunes here.

     

  3. As usual, this year’s Academy Awards have nominated numerous actors who were voluntarily tortured, abused, and punished for their art.

    It’s a strategy that has worked in the past — most recently for Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, who implied she had used dangerous weight-loss techniques to play a dying woman, and won an Oscar for her efforts. This year, more actors have mistreated themselves. Some have Oscar nominations, and some haven’t even come close — but each one deserves at least a courtesy paragraph in tribute to their sacrifice.

    10 movies that got great performances from actors… by torturing them

     


  4. Discover how Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, and American Hustle stack up against reality in this week’s podcast.

    Watch trailers for these films here.

    Subscribe and listen to all of The Week’s mini-podcasts on SoundCloud hereand on iTunes here.

     

  5. Laurence Olivier:

    Between 1939 and 1978, Laurence Olivier was nominated for 10 Oscars, with a Best Actor win for the title role in 1948’s Hamlet and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony in 1979. Just two years later, he won a Razzie for playing General MacArthur in the critically maligned Inchon, beating out the likes of Willie Aames in Zapped! and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian. When asked why he had agreed to star in a film like Inchon in the first place, Olivier gave this now-legendary response: “Money, dear boy. I’m like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour.”

    8 Oscar-winning actors who have also won Razzies

     

  6. Rush:

    Ron Howard adapted this story of the bitter rivalry between motor racers James Hunt, a Brit played by Chris Hemsworth, and Niki Lauda, an Austrian played by Daniel Brühl, and how their relationship evolved throughout their parallel careers.

    But, as Alex von Tunzelmann writes for The Guardian, the main conceit of the film is largely embellished: “In fact, judging by Gerald Donaldson’s biography of Hunt, their rivalry was quite friendly. Hunt won a Formula Two race against Lauda at Oulton Park in 1972; Donaldson notes that Lauda and another driver, Ronnie Peterson, congratulated him and ‘were genuinely happy to see James finally get a share of the success they felt he deserved’. Hunt — who was not in the habit of sugar-coating anything he said to the press — said: ‘I got on very well with Niki and always had done since we first met in Formula Three and gypsied around Europe together. We raced against each other but we also teamed up as mates, not just casual acquaintances.’”

    Though this inaccuracy is not exactly confidence-inspiring, one major part of the movie is real: James Hunt’s incessant partying. As Grantland’s Patricia Lee writes, Hunt was something of a lothario. “Hunt was believed to have slept with more than 5,000 women, ‘sometimes having sex minutes before a race.' Apparently 'Hunt's appetite for wine and women was legendary.' Exactly how legendary? Well, Hunt slept with 33 British Airways stewardesses and a number of Japanese fans during his two-week stay in Tokyo for the 1976 Japanese Grand Prix.”

    Based on a true story? Fact-checking 5 Oscar contenders

     

  7. Saving Mr. Banks

    The making of Mary Poppins was famously rocky. Creator P.L. Travers wrote the first book in 1934, but it took another 30 years for Walt Disney to finally release the now-beloved movie version.Saving Mr. Banks follows the story behind the story, tracking the ups and down of the Travers-Disney relationship as portrayed by Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks.

    But though there is much truth to the tale, the film is also “corporate myth-making on a large scale,” as Drew McWeeny writes for HitFix, since it mostly glosses over the real-life personality of Disney. “The difficult part of Walt Disney Studios telling this story is that they have a vested interest in making sure that Walt Disney, the icon, emerges from this as the hero of the story,” he writes.

    Alex von Tunzelmann expands on this at The Guardian: “The film goes soft on Uncle Walt, who by many accounts may have been less sweet-natured than he is portrayed here.”

    Also: Disney was a notorious chain smoker, which was entirely left out of the movie, complying with modern Hollywood’s unwritten rule that only bad guys can smoke.

    Based on a true story?  Fact-checking 6 Oscar contenders

     

  8. From Movies to watch this winter:

    December 13: American Hustle

    What it is: A stylish crime drama, set in the 1970s and 80s, that loosely follows the arc of the FBI’s real-life ABSCAM operation.

    Why you should care: If American Hustle can live up to its sky-high potential, it may be the film to beat in December — and possibly for Best Picture. Its screenplay was ranked as one of the best unproduced screenplays of the year in 2010. It’s directed by David O. Russell, who’s fresh off back-to-back, Oscar-nominated successes in Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. Its massive ensemble cast boasts everyone from Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale to Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams. And every glimpse of the film released so far has absolutely oozed with style. It’s a high bar, but there’s so much talent involved that American Hustle stands a good chance of reaching it.

    What else is coming out: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second (and hopefully more compelling) entry in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy; Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, the writer/director/star’s seventh outing as the gun-toting grandmother.

    A guide to 2013’s best late releases

     

  9. In an endearing, embarrassing moment that cemented her status as Hollywood’s most adorkable young actress, Jennifer Lawrence tripped on the steps on her way to accepting her Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, prompting a sympathetic standing ovation. “You guys are just standing up because I fell and that’s really embarrassing, but thank you. This is nuts,” said the breathless actress as she accepted the award. (And bonus points to Hugh Jackman, who proved once again that he’s one of the nicest guys in Hollywood by darting up to the stage to help Lawrence up.)

    Watch the 7 most memorable moments from last night’s Oscars

     

  10. Another year, another Oscar ceremony, and another fierce debate over the merits of the telecast. As The Artist celebrates its five wins, including Best Picture, here’s a look back at the moments being heralded as the night’s best… and those singled out as the worst:

    BEST: The Wizard of Oz focus group
    With all due respect to Crystal’s ably executed, classic opening sequence, says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly, the night’s best pre-taped bit was a mock focus group (supposedly circa 1939) for The Wizard of Oz that starred the Christopher Guest players, including Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, and Guest himself. Willard’s relentless enthusiasm for the film’s flying monkeys coupled with Coolidge’s deadpanned, ridiculous complaints (“There are lots of elevator faces… hatchet faces”) made the segment the “most clever, concise, witty, and laugh-out-loud funny” of the telecast. The Guest crew’s “sarcasm and absurdism was a refreshing dash of humor in an otherwise sludgy show,” says Katie Hasty at HitFix.

    WORST: The celebrity interview packages
    The producers made a gross miscalculation, says New York, by drafting a confusingly diverse roster of celebrities to wax poetic about why movies are important and assuming that such blather would resonate with viewers. “They’ll believe movies matter if Reese Witherspoon and Adam Sandler say they do! Right?” Wrong. The actors’ often-ponderous soundbytes — “If I see myself on screen, I know that I exist” — were so implausibly masturbatory that they could barely be taken seriously, says Tim Kenneally at The Wrap. “These were spoofs on the self-importance that pervades Hollywood, right?”

    Chris Rock slays, Emma Stone delights, and Robert Downey Jr. crashes and burns. More highs and lows from Sunday night’s Academy Awards telecast

     

  11. Both The Artist and Hugo, the top contenders to win the Best Picture Oscar this Sunday, are being called “valentines” to the Golden Age of Hollywood an era that spanned the late ’20s to the early ’60s, when color television and cynicism conspired to deflate the movie industry. With Sunday’s telecast set to pay homage to that time, here are 11 amazing photos from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

     

  12. Feminists are mad at Natalie Portman for saying that motherhood is her ‘most important role.’

     

  13. The goal: A refreshed, hipper version of the Oscars to draw in a younger audience. The result: A ceremony “about as relevant as Nehru jackets and love beads,” says Colin Covert in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

    We’ve got our own suggestions (including more Billy Crystal), but we want your thoughts on what the Academy should do to win back the audience for its annual awards extravaganza?