Oscars news: Bradley Cooper on becoming ‘American Sniper,’ Ava DuVernay on long road to ‘Selma’

Ramin Setoodeh chats with “American Sniper” star Bradley Cooper and notes in the intro to his interview, “To play Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Cooper spent six months working out 4.5 hours a day, but the role went beyond the physical. He practiced a Texas drawl with a dialect coach, learned how to shoot three military sniper rifles and spent time with Kyle’s family and friends, who gave him access to his emails and home videos.” Variety


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For Scott Feinberg, “The name Rob Marshall has become synonymous with the movie musical. That’s because Marshall has done more than anyone to revive the genre, which thrived in Hollywood until the fall of the studio system in the late 1960s. At that point, it more or less went away for decades — until, that is, Marshall’s feature directorial debut, ‘Chicago,’ took the town by storm and won the best picture Oscar. (He also was nominated for best director.) In the 12 years since then, Marshall, a former dancer and choreographer, has brought two other popular Broadway musicals to the big screen with massive ensembles of big-name stars: ‘Nine,’ in 2009, and, in 2014, ‘Into the Woods.'” THR

Mike Fleming Jr. wonders: “How could Ava DuVernay, a former Hollywood publicist and Sundance-winning director of a movie that cost just $200,000, be the one to break the long trail of futility in mounting a major movie that conveyed how much of a galvanizing presence Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was in the battle for civil rights in America? Coming aboard ‘Selma‘ after the previous star package cratered under Lee Daniels, DuVernay found herself with David Oyelowo’s determination to play MLK, a Paul Webb script and little else. The director (who made uncredited contributions to the script) managed to navigate around formidable obstacles, not the least of which were copyrights on MLK signature speeches held by his estate.” Deadline

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Anne Thompson reminds us: “Academy voters are predominantly male; the dominant actors’ branch comes closest to a 50/50 male/female split. Three late-breaking Christmas hits that did not make the Producers Guild Ten on Monday: Rob Marshall‘s ‘Into the Woods,’ Ava DuVernay‘s well-reviewed indie ‘Selma,’ and Angelina Jolie‘s ‘Unbroken.’ For those who think that the Academy proved itself not sexist by voting for Kathryn Bigelow and war movie ‘The Hurt Locker,’ not so fast. The Academy directors snubbed Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ although it landed a Best Picture nomination. Can we assume that the very male and clubby Academy directors branch will come through for member DuVernay? They may choose revered eminence grise Clint Eastwood instead.” Thompson on Hollywood

Cara Buckley observes, “With its candy-colored dollhouse sets, miniaturized funicular and post-Weimar-era grandeur, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ offered moviegoers one of the most visually sumptuous confections of 2014. What cineastes might not know is that the production designer behind those (mostly) cheery sets, Adam Stockhausen, 38, created them just weeks after finishing another widely lauded project: “12 Years a Slave,” which earned him an Academy Award nomination. ‘It was completely, completely different,’ Mr. Stockhausen said, surely earning an entry in the annals of understatement.” New York Times

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