News Nuggets: Will Ferrell accepts the Mark Twain Prize

Mark Harris analyzes Oscar’s screenplay races: “Among original screenplays, it’s probably wise to reserve a slot for ‘Midnight in Paris,’ since Woody Allen has been there 14 times before and the writers’ branch likes movies that skillfully incorporate fantasy elements — plus, it’s about a writer hanging out with writers. Way to play to your base, Woody! … And I’d love to believe voters will find room for Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s ‘Bridesmaids‘ script; it’s been 28 years since an female team was nominated for best original screenplay, and this one is wholly deserving.” GRANTLAND

We Need to Talk About Kevin” deserves Oscar consideration for Best Sound: “It’s also noteworthy that [director Lynne Ramsay] and her producer are keen to acknowledge their sound designer, Paul Davies. It’s a conspicuous asset of the film that the sound design is hand in glove with the aesthetic of the images, pacing and dovetailed narrative fragments – an artifice of the film that ‘would bring you back to spaces subliminally’ as Ramsay neatly puts it. The banal, pitchless monotony of the sprinkler is the stand-out example.” FRAMESCOURER

Will Ferrell accepts the 14th Mark Twain Prize for American Humor: “‘For 13 consecutive years, I have been begged by the Kennedy Center to accept this award,’ he said Sunday night at a ceremony in Washington. ‘And for 13 consecutive years, I’ve emphatically said, “No.”‘ And upon receiving the award, a bronze-colored bust of Twain, Mr. Ferrell promptly dropped it on the stage, shattering it. With a glance at the shards on the floor, Mr. Ferrell said, ‘As I stare at this magnificent bust of Mark Twain, I’m reminded of how humbled I am to receive such an honor and how I vow to take very special care of it.’ Fortunately, the joke was on the audience. Mr. Ferrell’s award was safe and whole.” NEW YORK TIMES

Oscar-winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reunite on-screen: “Not surprisingly, their new project has a Boston connection. As Deadline first reported, Damon will star as Whitey Bulger, the real-life South Boston crime boss who was recently arrested in California after eluding the FBI for years. Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in ‘The Departed,’ in which Damon also played a mole in the Boston police department. Affleck will direct, co-star, and produce along with Damon under their production company, Pearl Street Films, through their first-look deal with Warner Bros.” EW.COM

Will Kelly Clarkson‘s new album “Stronger” return her to Grammy glory? “Kelly Clarkson’s fifth studio album is based on a simple formula: 1) Put Clarkson in a room with a microphone; 2) Give her a solid pop song to sing; 3) Get the hell out of the way. It’s a sound strategy. From the walloping breakup anthem ‘Mr. Know-It-All’ to the closing roof-raiser, ‘Breaking Your Own Heart,’ ‘Stronger’ is as deft as any Clarkson album, with 13 catchy songs that hover between pop rock, R&B and Nashville – all of them showcases for one of music’s most remarkable voices.” ROLLING STONE

The Artist” picks up yet another film festival Audience Award: “As it continues its tour of major film festivals, Michel Hazanavicius‘ ‘The Artist’ has picked up another audience award. The 47th Chicago International Film Festival announced Monday that the black-and-white, silent movie has earned the festival’s Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature. The film, which the Weinstein Co. releases in the U.S. on Nov. 23, has also picked up audiences prizes at the Hamptons International Film Festival and the San Sebastian International Film Festival.” HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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