After Dangerous Trip, George Clooney Headed to DC to Testify on Sudan

If there’s anything I like, it’s stars who have done their homework. While people like Woody Harrelson mouth off about the GOP, people like George Clooney travel, without bodyguards, to Sudan.

I don’t always agree with Clooney politically, but I respect him. He has taken an issue, Sudan, made himself an expert, and made himself an advocate. I don’t think either party knows the answers on this horrible, murderous situation in Sudan.

As the wildly viral “Kony 2012″ video has shown us, this region of Africa is where warlords can kidnap children and force them into their militias or sex slavery. It’s the kind of lawless environment where the strong prey on the weak and help seems so very far away.

George Clooney will be in DC tomorrow to draw attention to this complex and problematic region.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

The testimony comes following Clooney’s post-Oscar trip to the region, where he crossed the Nuba Mountains into South Sudan to take in the continuing damage wrought by Sudan’s war. The star has made a number of trips to the war-torn nation, each one of them a risk to his health and safety.

“Everything about it is difficult, and you never feel safe, and we are not traveling with guns and security guys,” he recently told The Hollywood Reporter about the excursions, recalling a time he was stopped by 13-year-old children with guns before a colleague was able to swat them away.

Clooney has been an active advocate for the cause for years; he first traveled to Darfur in 2006 to assess the humanitarian crises there, after which he spoke at the United Nations to urge intervention to stop the genocide. He runs the Not on Our Watch organization, which works to spread awareness of and end the killings, and he has not only risked his life for the cause, he’s sacrificed his health too,contracting malaria during a 2011 trip.

That’s commitment, and that’s using your fame for a good cause. Nice job, George.

Photo: The Hollywood Reporter, Joe Pugliese

George Clooney Secretly Traveled to Sudan, Will Testify at Senate Hearing – The Hollywood Reporter.

Who was Robbed and Who was Right in Oscar Nominations

Now that Katniss Everdeen, um, I mean Jennifer Lawrence, has announced the nominations for this year’s Oscars, we can all second-guess The Academy of Motion Pictures. Who got robbed? (The Muppets! Andy Serkis!) Who got the recognition they deserved? (The Tree of Life! Meryl Streep!) And who shouldn’t be on a list of the nine Best Pictures of the year even if they were the only picture made that year? (I’m looking at you, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close!)


Moi was robbed, Kermie!

Here are my reactions:

Best Animated Film

The Adventures of Tintin
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

The news in this category is that, unlike last year when Toy Story 3 deservedly made it to the Best Picture category, the contenders this year were kind of blah. Kung Fu Panda is OK, I guess, and Puss in Boots is workable, but none of them reaches the transcendence of aToy Story 3. Rango is likely to win, but is my least favorite. 

The Academy should consider a category tweak. The Muppets was better than all these movies I’ve seen and would win against them for sure. But it has no home, no category in which to be nominated. Poor, poor Muppets. They should write a song about that.

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
I’m glad to see Melissa McCarthy nominated for her fresh, hilarious role in Bridesmaids. Funny, fresh movie and funny, fresh actress. 

Octavia Spencer definitely deserves a nod for The Help, but I would have picked Amy Ryan for Win Win and Shailene Woodley for The Descendants. Carey Mulligan in Drive was also fantastic.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
So glad to see Nick Nolte nominated for Warrior. His emotional but understated depiction of a lifelong alcoholic trying to remain sober and atone for his misdeeds was excellent. Who knew he had it in him? Would love to see him win. 

I would have liked to see John Boyega for Attack the Block. He did a tremendous job as a thug in training who finds his calling and nobility in fighting aliens. Really. Watch it.

While I love Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is just an overdone movie and doesn’t measure up to being nominated.

The biggest scandal, however, is the absence of Andy Serkis for his motion capture acting as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He played an intelligent ape. Not a human shaped like an ape, but an actual thinking ape. That he did it in front of a green screen with little nobby things glued all over his body…even more amazing.

Best Actress

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
This is about right, I suppose, although I’d probably trade Glenn Close for Charlize Theron in Young Adult. (I’d probably trade Glenn Close for just about anyone. She rubs me the wrong way.)

Best Actor

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
I would have liked to have seen Ryan Gosling for Drive, Paul Giamatti for Win Win and Brad Pitt for  The Tree of Life instead of Moneyball. The studio campaigned for him for Moneyball, and he is excellent in it, but he is transcendent in The Tree of Life

To make room for them, I’d take out the favorite, George Clooney, and Gary Oldman.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
No doubt in my mind that Malick deserves this win. No doubt. 

All these movies are well directed, however, and I’d be happy to see any of them win. Disappointed, though, that Nicolas Winding Refn wasn’t nominated for Drive.

Best Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse
War Horse and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close are not in the same universe as the other films. One is long and boring, the other actively annoying. 

Films that should have been included: Drive, Win Win, and Warrior. That would make a nice, even ten.

The Tree of Life should win, but won’t. It’s the best movie in several years, but extremely polarizing. In a perfect world, it would win. But in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need it.

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Ides of March

Bottom Line: This tale of losing innocence in a high-stakes primary presidential campaign is well-done, but will appeal to a small audience.

The Gist: Steven (Ryan Gosling) is a young politico working on the campaign of the man he believes should be the next president (George Clooney). As the primary race shenanigans heat up, Steven is courted by the opposition and Steven discovers something about his boss that could be a race-killer. Read our full review.

The Verdict: If you love politics, watch it. It’s a gritty, savvy, and fairly realistic look at the inside of a campaign, although some of the Democratic policies advocated in the background are  downright laughable (I’m talking about you, mandatory-two-years-of-service). Clooney, no stranger to politics, knows more about the system than most of Hollywood, yet the film ends up being anything but idealistic. Its deep thread of cynicism will make you want to move to a monarchy, which is why it earned a place on our list of the most Blue State movies of 2011.

Be Aware: Rated R for pervasive language, this film contains no violence. It has a sexual storyline that is not shown, but is part of the plot. Suitable for some teens.

Ides of March

Ryan Gosling stars in "The Ides of March."

Had enough campaigning yet? Apparently, actor and activist George Clooney thinks you need more because he has made “Ides of March,” an intense, well-made story set in the high-stakes world of presidential primary elections. Delving the minutia of campaign life and the evolution of idealism to hypocrisy, the deeply cynical story profiles a young man and an older candidate who enter politics on a mission to better the world but end up selling their souls. [Read more...]