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Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
February 25th, 2013
09:29 AM ET

Oscar nominated documentary '5 Broken Cameras' takes on conflict in West Bank

The Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras" was considered a real contender for the award this year. While it didn't win the gold, the filmmakers are winning many other awards and critical acclaim.

The movie began when Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat wanted to document the 2005 birth of his son. In the process, he spent six years documenting local resistance to Israeli settlements and the construction of an Israeli wall separating farmers from their lands and olive groves. The title refers to the damage his equipment suffered over the time it took to produce the film.

Guy Davidi, the film's co-director, talks with Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning about the controversy surrounding the documentary.

Filed under: Oscars
February 25th, 2013
09:22 AM ET

VIDEO: Best, worst of red carpet fashion at the Oscars – Alina Cho reports

Sure, the Oscars are about the best movies of the last year. But so much of the buzz last night was focused on the fashion.

Best dressed? Worst dressed? Who wore the biggest designers? Of course, America wants to know?

CNN's Alina Cho has a recap of Oscar night's biggest hits and misses, and finds that Old Hollywood style was the theme of the night.

Filed under: Fashion • Oscars
February 21st, 2013
12:25 PM ET

2012 Oscar winner Octavia Spencer talks life after her big win, this year's contenders and the Hollywood weight battle

The clock is ticking down with just three more days remaining until The 85th Academy Awards! Last year, first-time nominee Octavia Spencer won best supporting actress for her role as the outspoken maid Minny in "The Help". This year, she will be presenting an award alongside other previous Oscar nominees like Melissa McCarthy, Salma Hayek, John Travolta and Liam Neeson. Spencer joins “Starting Point” to talk about her big win, life after the Oscars and her picks for this year's race.

Spencer says this time around as a presenter has been “fun” and she is “having a ball.” Regarding who she wants to win for best supporting actress Spencer says, “I love all of the performances but I have to tell you… Sally Field… taught me something about Mary Todd Lincoln that I didn’t know.” She adds, “you know behind every great president is a great wife who’s running things and I think – the slaves were freed that year so there you go.”

Spencer says that winning an Oscar definitely changed her career but her life is still the same. “It definitely changed how I’m perceived and the choices that I get to make,” she says.

Spencer recently starred in "Fruitvale," which won an award for best dramatic American film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. She says now she gets to “drive the bus.”

“I get to make choices. I have a say. A lot more of a say in what I get to do and I get to chose projects that… resonate with me and I have some sort of a bond with,” she adds.

In the world of Hollywood, Spencer says “as an African American woman, I'm aware that there are fewer roles for women of color” and that she is “a very specific type.”

Now a paid spokeswoman for the weight loss product "SENSA," she adds that “weight issues, race issues will always be there and if allow them to get to you and you allow them to affect you then yes they affect you. But my thing is I have so many other things to worry about I can’t worry about other people’s perception of me.”

Filed under: A little fun • Awards • Oscars
February 18th, 2013
10:57 AM ET

Quvenzhane Wallis captures Oscar's heart as youngest nominee in history for 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

She's making Oscar history. Quvenzhane Wallis, at just nine years old, is the youngest person ever nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. Her role of "Hushpuppy" in the movie "Beasts of the Southern Wild" tells the story of a little girl and her ailing father trying to survive in the Louisiana Bayou.

Quvenzhane Wallis talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" this morning, and asks her what it's like to be part of the Oscar buzz.

Wallis says she was very excited when she heard about the nomination.

"I was half asleep" when the nominations were released, she says. "So nothing reacted on the outside, but in the inside, I was doing cartwheels, back flips, and these are some things I can't even do."

When it comes to winning Oscar gold, Wallis shows a striking maturity.

"It's just not about winning. It's about being there and being nominated. It's not about trying to win the award. It's having the pride enough to be nominated and being in the history book and being nominated or just being nominated. Everything is great, what you have. Whatever you win, that's great too," she says.

As for her future projects, she says she just completed three other films. She also tells Soledad that when she grows up, she hopes to be an actor and a dentist.

See more from the interview in the clip above.

Have you seen "Beasts of the Southern Wild"? What did you think of Wallis's performance?

Filed under: A little fun • Movies • Oscars
February 15th, 2013
11:05 AM ET

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein takes on animation with 'Escape from Planet Earth,' lists his Oscar picks

The Academy Awards are a little more than a week away. The man who really seems like he's in charge of the Oscars, Harvey Weinstein, has been picking great films for a long, long time and he can promote them and sell them like no one else. After all, he is the force behind two of this year's best picture nominees: "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Django Unchained."

This week, he's out with a new film, his first venture into producing an animated movie. It's a sci-fi adventure featuring funny aliens they are trapped on earth. It's called "Escape from Planet Earth," featuring voices of Brendan Fraser, Ricky Gervais, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, and many, many others.

Weinstein visits the "Starting Point" set this morning to talk about the challenges of making an animated movie, and to talk about the season's Oscar race.

ON THE CHALLENGES OF PRODUCING AN ANIMATED FILM: I've acquired a couple of animated movies like "Hoodwinked", but this is the first that I made from beginning to end, developing the script, working in the studio, you know. And it is - I've got to tell you, it's not easy. This is two and a half years of my life...I did it for the challenge, you know, because I see what John Lasseter and what Jeffrey Katzenberg does. Both of those guys are friends of mine and I have new respect for them.

But I had one great opportunity. The aliens are trapped in this prison. The American general is taking advantage of them, and I just said, guys, why don't we just tweak all these guys and say that the aliens did not - that the aliens invented computer generation and not John Lasseter? It's in there with a grumpy picture of John. Then also we tweaked - we tweaked the guys, Eric Schmidt and Larry and Sergei, my pals from Google, we said they didn't invent that either. And I tweaked Zuckerberg at Facebook, and said that social networking was invented by the aliens. It's probably true.

ON THE OSCAR RACE: I can't have any favorites. But I will say that I think Quentin Tarantino has written the best screenplay of the year; he won the Golden Globe, he won the BAFTA. "Silver Linings" Jen Lawrence - Bob De Niro hasn't won an Oscar in 32 years. So, you know, there are just some great opportunities on our films. But all of the movies are good this year - "Lincoln", "Argo."

ON BEING COMPARED TO GOD: Every year at the Golden Globes, each one of those actors or actresses try to top what they say. So when Meryl Streep said, you know, we were told to thank our agent and God, whatever, which is what they tell them to say at the Golden Globes. She said, "I'd like to thank Kevin Huvane, my agent, and Harvey Weinstein," referencing God.

Four hours later, God - me - was sitting in a morning talk show with the dog from "The Artist" relieving himself on my leg on national television. I don't think I was God and I proved it to the world that I definitely wasn't, but they love it. They have this, you know, each one tops each other and makes these terrible jokes about me. I'm a good sportsman; I don't care.

OSCAR BEST PICTURE PREDICTION: If "Silver Linings" wins this year, it will be a great upset in Oscar history.

Filed under: A little fun • Oscars
January 30th, 2013
12:26 PM ET

Challenges of bringing the book 'Life of Pi' to life on film – screenwriter David Magee explains

The journey of "Life of Pi" from page to screen is about as improbable as that of the story's central character – a boy name Pi who is adrift at sea on a lifeboat with a hungry Bengal tiger named "Richard Parker." Conventional wisdom and much of Hollywood felt the surreal novel could not be made into a movie. But director Ang Lee and screenwriter David Magee met the challenge. "Life of Pi" now has 11 Oscar nominations including one for Lee and the writer David Magee who joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss his success.

Magee says he originally read the novel for fun and was not sure if the story could be made into a film but when Lee approached him it all seemed possible.

“Ang has the ability to take material that most people wouldn’t take a second look at and convince studios that he can do it because he can,” Magee says.

Magee, who previously earned an Oscar nomination for his first screenplay “Finding Neverland,” says that translating books onto the big screen is a discipline.

“Any book that runs 300… 400… 500 pages – there’s going to be material in it that there’s no way that you can capture all of that on screen in a two hour time period. It’s probably a tenth of the actual number of words...It’s finding the essence of the book that you want to bring out,” he adds.

On his chances of winning an Oscar, Magee says he “would be very disappointed if we didn’t recognize the work of the visual artists.” He adds that while he would love to run away with an Oscar he does not “want to spend the next four weeks worrying about what my chances are when I should just be having fun going to these parties.”

Filed under: A little fun • Oscars
January 10th, 2013
10:50 AM ET

Vanity Fair Senior West Coast Editor Krista Smith on Oscar nomination snubs and shockers

On Thursday, Steven Spielberg's film "Lincoln," reigned supreme over nominations for the 85th Academy Awards, receiving 12 nods, including best picture. While Spielberg picked up a best director nomination, members of his cast such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones earned picks for best actor, best supporting actress and best supporting actor respectively. Ang Lee's adaptation “Life of Pi" came in second with 11 nominations, including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay. Even soon-to-be host Seth MacFarlane scored a Best Song nod for his theme to the film "Ted." This morning Vanity Fair Senior West Coast Editor Krista Smith weighs in on the nomination snubs and shockers on a special edition of “Starting Point” co-hosted with HLN's Showbiz Tonight host AJ Hammer.

Hammer says "Argo’s" Ben Affleck and "Zero Dark Thirty’s" Kathryn Bigelow not being nominated for best director are likely to be viewed as a snub for the two directors whose films ranked top three among Oscar predictions. Smith agrees. She adds, “It’s a total shock,” that neither were chosen for the director nod and, “I just really don’t know how that happened.”

On the topics of Oscar shockers, Smith says she is amazed to see “a little Sundance movie that [she] saw in January a year ago go all the way.” She adds that she is surprised it received the nod for best director and that she is thrilled for nine-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis who has been nominated for an Academy Award making her the youngest ever nominee for a Best Actress Oscar. In an interesting twist 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva was also nominated for best actress for her role in "Amour," making her the oldest nominee for best actress in a leading role. Riva’s celebration does not stop there since she will be turning 86 on Oscar night.

Smith says another “big, big surprise” is “Silver Linings Playbook.” She adds, “I love this movie so I am happy to see it do so well. But it is fantastic that it got all nominations across the board.” Smith says this movie is a “game changer in terms of… reassessing who’s going to win and who are the favorites.”

The Oscars is scheduled to air on February 24 from the Dolby Theatre - formerly known as the Kodak Theatre - in Los Angeles.

Filed under: A little fun • Movies • Oscars
January 7th, 2013
09:46 AM ET

"Texas Chainsaw 3D" killing it at the box office, US Weekly Senior Editor Bradley Jacobs comments: 'it's an ironic date night'

'Tis the season for big movies with big stars to battle it out for big box office profits and Oscar nominations. Yet, it was a low-budget and starless horror movie that made it to number one this past weekend. Earning $23 million in its opening weekend, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” slashed its way to top of the box office competing with some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters. The gory thriller beat out Quentin Tarrantino's “Django Unchained” and Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit”, as well as the star-studded musical Les Miserables. Bradley Jacobs, Senior Editor of US Weekly, comes to the studio to comment on the success of the film, and potential Oscar nominees.

While there are major contenders in the theaters with substance and plenty of Oscar buzz, Jacobs explains that this movie serves well for “an ironic date night”. “This is counterprogramming. You have all these heavy Oscar movies you've really got to get around to seeing, like “Les Mis” and “Lincoln”, which are three hours long,” Jacobs offers. “Or you can see half naked girls running around and people throwing chainsaws through the air. Did I mention leather face and it's all in 3D?”

Soledad O’Brien says she was surprised to see that three out of top four movies "are very horrifically violent, and this is all in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.” “But the violence in “Texas Chainsaw” is cartoonish,” Jacobs explains.

With award season in its peak and Oscar nominations to be announced this Thursday, Jacobs makes his predictions for possible nominees. “Anne Hathaway,” Jacobs begins, “she’s is a lock to win best supporting actress this year. She was incredible in that role. 'Lincoln', you have the pedigree of Steven Spielberg and Daniel Kushner and Daniel Day Lewis, who's won the Oscar twice before, and looks like he's going to win again.”

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Filed under: Movies • Oscars
November 16th, 2012
10:23 AM ET

Actress Kelly Reilly shares her experience filming "Flight"

Already getting Oscar buzz, “Flight” is a film about a Captain that lands a doomed plane.  In her first American television appearance, British actress Kelly Reilly shares with Soledad her experience working with a focused Denzel Washington.

 Reilly plays a recovering heroin addict that tries to help the alcoholic Denzel Washington post- fame. To prepare, she worked with a recovered heroin addict to really capture the essence of the struggle that leads a person to drugs and to stray away from stereotypes.

 As for the underlying message in the film, she reverts to what the director said while filming, saying, “There are a lot of messages in his movies, but he [director, Robert Zemeckis] does not like to moralize or throw lessons down the audience’s throat so to speak. He’d actually rather just tell a story and let people get what they get from it.”

Filed under: Movies • Oscars
February 27th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Nostalgia wins big at the Oscars

Jessica Shaw, senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, discusses the big winners at last night's Oscars ceremony.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Entertainment • Oscars
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