Hollywood kicked off the year's compressed awards season with an emotional night in the desert.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival's annual opening gala is often treated by honorees as a businesslike, pro forma stop on the industry's self-congratulation circuit. But Thursday found Laura Dern, Jennifer Lopez and Quentin Tarantino wiping away tears onstage at the city's convention center.
Dern, presented with the career achievement award, was surprised with a video of her divorced parents Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd high-fiving as they praised her, saying "You got game."
"That was really moving for me," the 52-year-old actress said. "And every kid kind of wants to see their parents together."
Dern, who stars in "Little Women" and "Marriage Story," then told the crowd of more than 2,000 dinner guests that she'd been conceived in the nearby mountain town of Idyllwild during production of the 1966 Roger Corman biker movie "The Wild Angels."
Lopez apologized for being overcome with emotion after an introduction from "Hustlers" writer-director Lorene Scafaria.
"I'm so glad to be here but I want to run out the door, I'm so nervous," she said.
The 50-year-old performer, likely to land her first Oscar nomination later this month, noted that women held key roles both behind and in front of the camera on the crime drama.
"To all the talented women out there writing films, producing films and directing films, support one another. And tell your stories," she said.
"Little Women" director Greta Gerwig introduced "Once Upon A Time ... in Hollywood" writer-director Tarantino with effusive praise, saying he "makes movies as if movies could save the world." The 56-year-old director wiped a tear from his eye.
"My joke that I say when people are going to talk about me is I say, 'Speak about me as if I were dead.'" Tarantino said. "And they never do! And you did! Thank you, Greta."
"The Irishman" star Robert De Niro, introducing honoree Martin Scorsese, got political when discussing festival founder Sonny Bono.
"Sonny was a Republican, back in the days when Republicans still supported the arts, believed in science, and could put partisanship aside to champion what's best for our country. It's a different time," he said.
Also taking home honors from Palm Springs: "Joker" star Joaquin Phoenix, "Judy" star Renee Zellweger, "Pain and Glory" star Antonio Banderas and "Bombshell" star Charlize Theron.
The non-televised gala was a low-pressure affair, with winners named in advance and presented with sculpture trophies by friends and directors. But it comes at a key time: Academy voters began casting ballots for Oscar nominations on Thursday, and many honorees will gather again in three days for the Golden Globe Awards.
Hollywood's awards season, which has typically stretched over more than two months, is shorter than usual this year. In an effort to reduce awards fatigue, the U.S. film academy announced last summer that it had moved the date of this year's Academy Awards to Feb. 9 from its typical late February or early March slot.
The son of television producer Jenji Kohan, who created the series "Örange Is the New Black," died in a New Year's Eve ski accident in Utah, police said Thursday.
Charles "Charlie" Noxon, 20, was pronounced dead after hitting a sign Tuesday on an intermediate-level trail at Park City Mountain resort , police said.
He was alone and there were no witnesses to the crash, but it appears that it happened as he tried to navigate a fork in the trail, Summit County sheriff's Lt. Andrew Wright said.
He was quickly discovered by other skiers and pronounced dead by an air ambulance crew before reaching a hospital. He had experience skiing and was wearing a helmet, Wright said. The cause of death is under investigation.
Noxon was on a trip with his siblings and father, journalist Christopher Noxon, police said. They were further down the mountain at the time of the accident.
His mother is known for creating the Netflix show "Orange Is the New Black" and the Showtime series "Weeds."
A native of Los Angeles, Charlie Noxon was a junior at Columbia University, studying philosophy, economics and Chinese, his family said in a statement released by police.
"He was questioning, irreverent, curious and kind," his parents wrote. "Charlie had a beautiful life of study and argument and travel and food and razzing and adventure and sweetness and most of all love. We cannot conceive of life without him."
He is survived by his parents and siblings, Eliza and Oscar. His funeral will be Sunday at Temple Israel of Hollywood.
The ski resort is located near the home of the Sundance Film Festival, set to begin later this month.
Lulu Wang, Lorene Scafaria, Melina Matsoukas and Greta Gerwig led Hollywood to a record year for women in the director's chair. In 2019, women directed more of the most popular movies than any year before.
Women directed 12 of 2019's top 100-grossing films in 2019, according to a study released Thursday by USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. That percentage of female filmmakers, 10.6%, is greater than researchers have recorded before, suggesting that some measure of change is finally coming to a film industry where inequality behind the camera has remained stubbornly persistent.
It's the most meaningful increase in several decades for female directors. Despite mounting outcry, the rate of female directors helming Hollywood's top productions has long been largely stagnant. The previous high in USC's annual study was 8%, in 2008. In 2018, only 4.5% of the year's top films were directed by women.
"This is the first time we have seen a shift in hiring practices for female film directors in 13 years," said Stacy L. Smith, one of the study's authors. "One notable reason for this jump in 2019 was that Universal Pictures had five films with women directors at the helm in the top 100 movies. Yet there is still much more progress needed to reach parity for women behind the camera."
The high-profile success of several films had already made 2019 a historic one for women. Those include Wang's "The Farewell," one of the year's most popular indie releases, Scafaria's acclaimed "Hustlers" ($105 million domestically), Matsoukas' "Queen & Slim" ($40.7 million) and Gerwig's "Little Women," which last week opened strongly with $29 million in its first five days of release.
"Frozen II," with $1.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales, is close to setting a new box-office record for a movie directed by a woman. Jennifer Lee, who co-directed the film, set the record with the first "Frozen" film. In 2018, Lee became the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Other notable films included Kasi Lemmons' "Harriet," Tina Gordon's "Little" and Jill Culton's "Abominable."
USC researchers singled out Universal Pictures, which put forward a slate of films with 26% directed by women. Universal is the only major studio with a female studio chief, Donna Langley.
Netflix also fared well. While the streaming company's films largely bypass theaters — leaving them outside the study's parameters — 20% of Netflix's 2019 movies were directed by women.
Paramount Pictures, however, hasn't released a movie directed by a woman in the last five years.
Four women of color directed one of the top 100 movies in 2019, though the overall statistics for underrepresented directors dipped. Underrepresented filmmakers were behind 16.8% of films in 2019, a decline from last year's 21.4%, a record.
"While 2019 is a banner year for women, we will not be able to say there is true change until all women have access and opportunity to work at this level," said Smith.
Another study released Thursday by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University examined women in the top films as not just directors but writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers. Women accounted for 20% of all such roles in the year's top films, up from 16% the year before.
But the San Diego State University study, the 22nd annual Celluloid Ceiling authored by Martha Lauzen, found less progress when the movies researched were expanded to the top 500 films. In that metric, Lauzen found women held steady at 23%.
"While the numbers moved in a positive direction this year, men continue to outnumber women 4 to 1 in key behind-the-scenes roles," Lauzen said in a statement. "It's odd to talk about reaching historic highs when women remain so far from parity."
Despite gains, female filmmakers have been largely overlooked in this awards season. Sunday's Golden Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, includes no women nominated for best director. None of the 10 films nominated for best picture were directed by women, either.
Rebecca Goldman, Time's Up chief operating officer, earlier said those results were unacceptable.
"This year, there have been twice as many women-led features than ever, with more films by female directors on the way," Goldman said. "Women — and especially women of color — continue to be pushed to the sidelines by a system that holds women back, onscreen and off."
Nick Gordon, who was found liable in the death of his ex-partner Bobbi Kristina Brown, has died. He was 30.
Gordon's attorney Joe S. Habachy confirmed his client's death in a statement Wednesday to The Associated Press. The Atlanta attorney did not give a cause of death or say where it occurred.
Gordon's death comes nearly five years after Brown, the daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was found face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub in January 2015. The 22-year-old died after six months in a coma.
Investigators with the medical examiner's office were not able to determine exactly how Bobbi Kristina Brown died. An autopsy showed that she had morphine, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs in her body, but the medical examiner couldn't determine if she killed herself, if someone else killed her or if her death was accidental.
Her family blamed Gordon, accusing him in the lawsuit of giving her a "toxic cocktail" before putting her face-down in the water.
Gordon was never charged in the case, but he was found responsible in a wrongful death lawsuit. An Atlanta judge ordered him to pay $36 million to Brown's estate.
Houston brought Gordon into her household as an orphan at the age of 12, raising him and her daughter after divorcing Bobby Brown in 2007.
Gordon wore a large tattoo of Houston's face on his arm and called the singer "mom," but the music superstar never fully adopted him or included him in her will. Houston died in 2012 after she drowned in a bathtub. Coroner's officials ruled Houston's death accidental and said heart disease and cocaine were contributing factors.
After Houston's death, Gordon and Bobbi Kristina went public with their romance.
"Despite all of the incredible challenges Nick faced over the last few years I can honestly say that he worked hard to hold his head up and stay sober and that he genuinely wanted a happy healthy life with his family more than anything else," Habachy said in a statement.
"Ip Man 4," the latest installment in the Chinese martial arts film franchise "Ip Man" based on the life of a legendary Wing Chun master, led the Chinese mainland box office Saturday, according to the China Movie Data Information Network Sunday.
The film raked in 738,500 yuan (around 105,700 U.S. dollars) on Saturday, accounting for nearly 14 percent of the daily total.
Set in the 1960s, the new film sees Donnie Yen reprising the title role as the kung fu master who travels to the United States to work with Bruce Lee after the latter decides to open a Wing Chun school.
It was followed by "S.W.A.T," a domestic gangster film, which pocketed 664,200 yuan on its second day of screening.
Coming in third was "Sheep Without a Shepherd," a Chinese adaptation of a renowned Indian drama. It grossed about 606,000 yuan.