News Nuggets: Are Ben Stiller and ‘Walter Mitty’ strong awards contenders?

Tim Gray wonders about the awards chances for Ben Stiller and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” despite its mixed reviews. For a film that is “hard to categorize,” he says that “may also prove to be its greatest asset.” He proclaims that Stiller has directed himself to his career-best performance, and that the “genre-jumping” movie should be considered for SAG Ensemble and other major awards. Variety.

After a special appeal by Harvey Weinstein himself, the MPAA has “had a change of heart” about “Philomena.” It will now carry a PG-13 rating instead of the harsher R rating, which will allow for more families and teens to see the film. The movie’s star Judi Dench made a video for the review panel parodying her iconic James Bond character “M.” Weinstein said, “We know that went a long way into shedding light on the themes of the movie.” Entertainment Weekly.

Katy Perry will open this year’s American Music Awards, performing the song “Unconditionally” from her new album “PRISM.” Jennifer Lopez will sing in tribute to Celia Cruz, and TLC will make their return to the stage. They join previously announced performers Luke Bryan, Miley Cyrus, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, One Direction, Justin Timberlake, and host Pitbull. TV by the Numbers.

Sasha Stone discusses the Oscar race for directing, and how “the strongest movies this year were made by directors whose vision throughout their careers reach for something higher than entertainment, beyond the constraints of Hollywood.” She then discusses many of them in depth by dividing them into groups like Masters (Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Alexander Payne, Joel and Ethan Coen, David O. Russell) and Emerging Masters (Steve McQueen, Alfonso Cuaron, Paul Greengrass, Jason Reitman, Richard Linklater, Lee Daniels). Awards Daily.

Donna Freydkin profiles Cannes winner and Oscar contender Bruce Dern (“Nebraska“). She calls him “one of this year’s favorites heading into awards season for a career-making performance” as a disgruntled older man desperate to claim a $1 million prize. Of a nomination, he says, “I hear a lot of wonderful things. It’s a process that goes on. It’s wonderful if you’re included. I would love to be.” USA Today.

Don Cheadle finally has the go-ahead to portray jazz legend Miles Davis in a biopic. It’s a project he has been developing for many years, and Cheadle will direct and co-write the film “Kill the Trumpet Player.” Ewan McGregor and Zoe Saldana will co-star. Production will begin next June. Hitfix.

The Hollywood Music in Media Awards will be presented on November 21 at the Fonda Theatre. Film nominees include “Captain Phillips,” “Ender’s Game,” “42,” “Gravity,” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” TV nominees include “The Americans,” “Chicago Fire,” “House of Cards,” and “Revolution.” Video games, soundtrack albums, and songs will also be honored. HMMA.

The upset winner for Best Picture at the 1998 Oscars, “Shakespeare in Love,” will be a new play for the West End stage in London next July. Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard also won Oscars for their original screenplay, but Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) is adapting their work, and Declan Donnellan is directing. Playbill.

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