New York, Jan 6 (AP/UNB) — The National Society of Film Critics on Saturday chose Chloe Zhao's low-budget debut feature, "The Rider," as best picture of 2018.
Director Alfonso Cuaron's black-and-white "Roma" period piece set in modern Mexico won the most awards — as best picture runner-up, best foreign-language film and for best cinematography. Cuaron also got the award for best director.
The society of leading movie critics voted for Olivia Colman as best actress in "The Favourite," and Ethan Hawke as best actor in "First Reformed." The top accolade for best supporting actor went to Steve Yeun of "Burning," while Regina King of "If Beale Street Could Talk" nabbed best supporting actress. About 40 of the society's 64 members voted.
Best screenplay went to "The Death of Stalin," and best non-fiction film to "Minding the Gap," a documentary directed by Bing Liu about the complex friendship among three skateboarding young men, including himself, in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois.
The film critics society was founded in 1966, electing its voting critics from newspapers and other major U.S. media outlets. The 53rd annual awards were hosted by New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Justin Chang, the society's chairman and the Los Angeles Times' film critic, told The Associated Press that 2018 yielded "an embarrassment of riches" among new movies, but "The Rider" stood out among them — a contemporary western drama shot in the badlands of South Dakota. There, a family living in a trailer against the backdrop of the rodeo circuit struggles with autism, brain damage from a bronc riding competition, drinking and gambling, but somehow endures.
The film, directed by a Beijing-born woman who was educated in the United States and lives here, "is a mixture of documentary realism and fiction," Chang said. "She uses nonprofessional actors in a way that's intimate and organic; it's a heartbreaking movie with a lot of staying power."
He noted that the society does not base its choices either on a film's box office or its budget. "We care about the quality of the movies."
The 2018 winners reflect this year's wide ethnic and technical diversity in film production, including "Burning," a South Korean mystery drama directed by Lee Chang-dong.
"Roma," directed by the Mexican-born Cuaron, has also been named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
"A lot of directors are rediscovering the striking, atmospheric properties of black-and-white cinema," Chang said — including Cuaron, who had also directed the 2001 prize-winning "Y Tu Mama Tambien."
In "Roma," Cuaron's lavish visuals capture a young domestic worker in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City in the 1970s, exploding with domestic, social and political turmoil.
"It's the critical hit of the season," Chang said.
Dhaka, Jan 5 (UNB) –Kureghor, a music band of Bangladesh, is observing its 2nd anniversary on Saturday.
The band has created a total 38 songs after starting its journey on January 5, 2017, said a press release.
The lead vocalist of the band is Tasrif khan and the other members are bass guitar: Shoron Mridul, guitar: A.I. Sabbir, flute: Yeamin Pranto, percussion: Srabon Sabbir, business Manager :Tanjeeb Khan and strategicconsultant: K M Tanbhir Siddiki.
Las Vegas, Jan 5 (AP/UNB) — Britney Spears is putting her planned Las Vegas residency on hold to focus on her father's recovery from a life-threatening illness.
The pop superstar announced Friday she is going on an indefinite work hiatus.
Her residency was scheduled to kick off in February at Park Theater at the Park MGM casino-resort.
Spears says she is dedicating her focus and energy to care for her family.
The statement announcing her decision says her father, Jamie Spears, has had a complicated recovery after becoming ill two months ago, undergoing emergency surgery and spending several days at a hospital.
Refunds for "Britney Domination" shows are available at the point of purchase.
Bill Hornbuckle, president of casino operator MGM Resorts International, says the company respects Spears' commitment to her family.
Los Angeles, Jan 4 (AP/UNB) — Actress Sandra Oh wants to bring a lighter tone to the Golden Globes after last year's awards show took a much more serious approach centered on the #MeToo movement.
Oh said Thursday that she and fellow host Andy Samberg will provide a "moment of joy" at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on Sunday night. She and Samberg were first paired as award presenters during a comical set at the Emmys last year when Oh ripped up the winner's envelope, referencing the 2017 Oscars "La La Land" slip-up before the duo pieced together the card and announced the actual winner.
"I know when Andy and I were talking about the feeling that I really want to bring, and really focus on, is just to have a moment of joy," said Oh, who is favored to win a Golden Globe award for best actress for her "Killing Eve" role. "Honestly, with who is going to be in that audience, the nominees this year, it excites me so tremendously ... mostly because of the diversity in that room."
Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Meher Tatna called last year's ceremony an important moment in the television and film industry as many dressed in black in solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment. But she said Sunday's awards won't be as politically charged.
Tatna said she hopes the Golden Globes can return to its roots as the "party of the year" by giving attendees an opportunity to "escape reality." The awards show is known for being a place of celebration, serving a bevy of champagne.
"I think everybody is tired of politics and maybe for one night we can have fun and not worry about the state of the world," Tatna said.
She added that the show will use its platform to honor Carol Burnett and Jeff Bridges with lifetime achievement awards.
Burnett, 85, a five-time Globes winner, will receive the inaugural Carol Burnett Award, which focuses on television. Bridges, 69, who won a Globe in 2010, will be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an accolade for film.
San Francisco, Jan 3 (AP/UNB) — Netflix said 45 million subscriber accounts worldwide watched the Sandra Bullock thriller "Bird Box" during its first seven days on the service, the biggest first-week success of any movie made for the company's nearly 12-year-old streaming service.
Netflix, which typically refuses to provide viewership numbers, made the rare disclosure in a recent tweet as movie producers, writers, actors and investors continue to size up a company that has already reshaped the way the world watches video.
The first-week audience means nearly one-third of Netflix's 137 million subscribers watched the movie from Dec. 21 through Dec. 27 — a holiday-season stretch when many people aren't working and have more free time. Had 45 million people actually gone to a theater in the U.S. to watch "Bird Box," it would have translated to about $400 million in box-office revenue, based on average ticket prices.
But people were watching the movie on a service for which they already had paid and had the luxury of doing so without leaving their homes. That makes watching "Bird Box" more comparable to watching a television program, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.
By that yardstick, the viewership for "Bird Box" is less impressive. For instance, the Super Bowl typically attracts 100 million to 110 million viewers in the U.S. alone. The annual telecast of the Academy Awards has drawn a U.S. audience of 26 million to 40 million in recent years. And those totals are for a single day, not a week.
Television viewership and theatrical box-office numbers are typically calculated by third-party firms, unlike the "Bird Box" figure released by Netflix. The Los Gatos, California, company has steadfastly refused to divulge its viewership because it regards the data as a competitive advantage in deciding what programs will attract subscribers. All Netflix will say about its "Bird Box" number is that it counted only accounts that watched at least 70 percent of the movie. Multiple viewers sharing a single account are counted once.
Netflix so far has made its biggest splash with highly acclaimed TV series such as "House of Cards," ''Stranger Things," and "The Crown." ''Bird Box" is the latest example of the company's resolve to become a bigger player in movies, too.
To pull it off, Netflix is borrowing billions of dollars to pay for original movies and TV series. But beyond money, Netflix needs to appease directors and actors who want their work to also be seen in movie theaters, both for their larger screens and for award consideration. That's why Netflix has been arranging for films like "Bird Box," ''Roma," and "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" to have limited runs in theaters first.
That's a strategy that Amazon had already been following, enabling its "Manchester By The Sea" to win Academy Awards for best actor and original screenplay in 2017. An ESPN documentary, "O.J.: Made In America," also won an Oscar in 2017 after appearing in theaters before its debut on the TV network.
By breaking tradition and disclosing viewership numbers for "Bird Box," Netflix cleverly created even more buzz, Pachter said. "They are masters at getting attention and they knew revealing the numbers would get the media to write about it," he said.
That, in turn, gets the attention of movie producers and directors, as well as luring back investors who had sold off Netflix in recent weeks as part of a broader sell-off of tech stocks. The company's stock closed Wednesday unchanged at $267.66, but has dropped 37 percent from its peak in June — a slump that has wiped out nearly $70 billion in shareholder wealth.
Netflix quickly found itself grappling with another problem Wednesday as it acknowledged censoring an episode from its "Patriot Act" series in Saudi Arabia to comply with laws in that country.