Contest: Win a copy of “Lion” with Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman

Posted on May 8, 2017 at 8:00 am

You can win a copy of the heartwarming and inspiring “Lion,” starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman in the real-life story of a adopted man who used Google Earth to find his birth family.

Send me an email at with “Lion” in the subject line and tell me about a special Mother’s Day moment in your life. Don’t forget your address! (US addresses only) I’ll pick a winner at random on May 17, 2017.

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Interview: Sunny Pawar, the Adorable Star of “Lion”

Posted on January 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm

sunny pawar
Copyright Nell Minow 2017

The breakout star of the movie “Lion” is Sunny Pawar, just six years old when he played the young Saroo Brierley, who was separated from his family in India as a child, adopted in Australia, and then, as an adult (played by Dev Patel) searching for his original home on Google Earth. Sunny visited Washington D.C., where he was delighted to meet President Obama, who said, “Well done, my boy,” and gave him the traditional Indian greeting, “Namaste.”

Casting director Kirsty McGregor told New York Magazine’s Vulture they talked to more than 2000 children before they found Sunny:

Firstly, we were aware of the pitfalls of casting in India. We weren’t going to be able to search everywhere, because we knew that we needed to find a child who had papers, basically, because we knew we’d have to get him a visa to shoot in Australia….Sunny just has this soulfulness that you could just see. He has an ability to be still on camera, to be himself on camera, which a lot of kids, when they start acting, don’t have. A lot of kids can be natural on camera because they don’t have a preconceived idea of what acting is, but sometimes once they do, depending on what they’ve been watching as well, they can get an idea of what acting is and it becomes a bit more like playing pretendsies. We were really looking for naturalism.”

I saw that in Sunny when I got a chance to chat with him, with the help of an interpreter. We exchanged “Namastes,” and he told me that since he did not speak English, director Garth Davis would tell him what to do by putting his hand on his heart. “I wasn’t conscious of the cameras at all. It was always about having fun and I think I’m blessed to get this little gift of acting naturally so I wasn’t conscious but the emotional bits, since I was only about 5 1/2 when we shot the film. There was a sign language that Garth and I developed so he could say, ‘Sunny, feel it from here. Any unanswered question, ask your heart.'” His father, who was with him throughout the filming, said the same thing: “Don’t worry son, just be calm and listen to your heart. It will automatically come”.

Sunny’s character has some very scary adventures, but Sunny was not afraid, except in one scene. “All scenes were actually great fun — the train sequences, the running sequences — but there was one particular sequence I wasn’t scared but a little just nervous, it was the scene where a bike comes and hits me.”

Sunny appeared with Dev Patel at the Golden Globes. They play the same character at different ages so had no scenes together but they became good friends. “It was great fun working with Dev and you know he has this habit of tossing me in the air which I really love. He did it at the Globes as well and he’s like an elder brother to me now.” He does not watch American movies or television so did not recognize any of the celebrities, but he is a big fan of WWE wrestling, so his heroes are The Rock, Undertaker, John Cena, Kalisto, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. His drea would be do make a movie with The Rock.

He has enjoyed his time in America, especially meeting President Obama and going to Disney World, where he rode the Tower of Terror — twice!

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Actors Interview

BFCA Critics Choice Award: Nominations 2016

Posted on December 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

I am very proud to be a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and very excited about these just-announced nominations for our annual Critics Choice Awards.


Copyright 2016 Pearl Street Films
Copyright 2016 Pearl Street Films

Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Loving_(2016_film)BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Tom Hanks – Sully
Denzel Washington – Fences

Amy Adams – Arrival
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Janelle Monáe – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Copyright 2016 Plan B Entertainment
Copyright 2016 Plan B Entertainment

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Alex R. Hibbert – Moonlight
Lewis MacDougall – A Monster Calls
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Sunny Pawar — Lion
Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen

20th Century Women
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
Manchester by the Sea

Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival
Denzel Washington – Fences

Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins — Moonlight
Yorgos Lanthimos/Efthimis Filippou – The Lobster
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Jeff Nichols – Loving
Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Luke Davies – Lion
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Eric Heisserer – Arrival
Todd Komarnicki – Sully
Allison Schroeder/Theodore Melfi – Hidden Figures
August Wilson – Fences

Stéphane Fontaine – Jackie
James Laxton – Moonlight
Seamus McGarvey – Nocturnal Animals
Linus Sandgren – La La Land
Bradford Young – Arrival

Arrival – Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte/André Valade
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig/James Hambridge, Anna Pinnock
Jackie – Jean Rabasse, Véronique Melery
La La Land – David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
Live by Night – Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Tom Cross – La La Land
John Gilbert – Hacksaw Ridge
Blu Murray – Sully
Nat Sanders/Joi McMillon — Moonlight
Joe Walker – Arrival

Colleen Atwood – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Consolata Boyle – Florence Foster Jenkins
Madeline Fontaine – Jackie
Joanna Johnston – Allied
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh – Love & Friendship
Mary Zophres – La La Land

Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hacksaw Ridge
Star Trek Beyond

A Monster Calls
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book

Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Red Turtle

Captain America: Civil War
Doctor Strange
Hacksaw Ridge
Jason Bourne

Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Strange
Matt Damon – Jason Bourne
Chris Evans – Captain America: Civil War
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

Gal Gadot – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Scarlett Johansson – Captain America: Civil War
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad
Tilda Swinton – Doctor Strange

Central Intelligence
Don’t Think Twice
The Edge of Seventeen
Hail, Caesar!
The Nice Guys

Ryan Gosling – The Nice Guys
Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
Dwayne Johnson – Central Intelligence
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

Kate Beckinsale – Love & Friendship
Sally Field – Hello, My Name Is Doris
Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters
Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

10 Cloverfield Lane
Doctor Strange
Don’t Breathe
Star Trek Beyond
The Witch

The Handmaiden
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“City of Stars” – La La Land
“Drive It Like You Stole It” – Sing Street
“How Far I’ll Go” — Moana
“The Rules Don’t Apply” – Rules Don’t Apply

Nicholas Britell – Moonlight
Jóhann Jóhannsson – Arrival
Justin Hurwitz – La La Land
Micachu – Jackie
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka – Lion

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Actors Awards

December 2016: Movies Opening This Month

Posted on December 1, 2016 at 8:00 am

Happy December! There are lots of great movies opening this month, with something for everyone, from the latest in the “Star Wars” saga to “Fences,” a prestige drama based on a Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play, plus extraordinary true stories (“Lion,” “Jackie,” “Hidden Figures”), fantasy (“A Monster Calls”), romance (“La La Land”), and more.


“Office Christmas Party” is a raunchy but good-natured comedy about a plan to save a company on the brink of disaster with a wild party.

“Miss Sloane” Jessica Chastain plays a Washington lobbyist with an ethical dilemma.

“Lion” The festival favorite tells the true story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian couple who searches Google Earth to find his birth family.

“Jackie” Natalie Portman stars as Jacqueline Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband.


“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

“Collateral Beauty” Will Smith plays a man devastated by tragedy who deals in a very direct way with Love, Time, and Death.

“The Space Between Us” A pregnant astronaut gives birth to the first human born on Mars. Sixteen years later, he makes his first visit to Earth.

“La La Land” Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling re-team for their third film together, a musical that tells a lyrical love story.


“Assassin’s Creed” Yes, it’s based on a video game, but it has some intense star power with Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender.

“Sing” An animated story about an animal singing competition stars Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, and Seth MacFarlane.

“Passengers” Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are astronauts who are supposed to sleep for 100 years before they arrive at their destination planet. But something goes wrong and they wake up 90 years early.


“A Monster Calls” This fantasy about a boy coping with his mother’s terminal illness is based on the book by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd.

“Why Him?” Bryan Cranston plays a loving father who is horrified by his daughter’s boyfriend (James Franco).


“Fences” The Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson comes to the screen, starring and directed by Denzel Washington, with his Broadway revival co-star Viola Davis.

“Hidden Figures” Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer star in the true story of brilliant African-American female mathematicians who played a critical role at NASA in the race to the moon.

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Features & Top 10s

November 2016: Movies Opening This Month

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

November 2016 films include a Marvel superhero, a sci-fi movie for grown-ups, two animated family movies, and the first of a new five-movie series from J.K. Rowling! (Note: at this time of year release dates may differ from city to city, so check local listings.)

November 4

“Trolls” You already love the Justin Timberlake song that ruled radio all summer. You probably already love those adorably ugly little dolls with the puffs of hair. The movie is as cute as a rainbow unicorn cupcake.

“Doctor Strange” The Marvel superhero, a master of magic, arrives on screen, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, and Rachel McAdams.

“Hacksaw Ridge” Mel Gibson’s first film as a director in a decade is the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a deeply religious man who served as a medic in one of the bloodiest battles of WWII and single-handedly rescued 75 men.

“Loving” Ruth Nagga and Joel Edgerton star in the true story of the couple from Virginia who showed the world what their name, Loving, really meant. Arrested for violating Virginia’s laws prohibiting marriage between people of different races, they took their case to the US Supreme Court.

November 11

“Arrival” When aliens arrive, what kind of experts do you go to for help? In this thoughtful, complex story, it is a linguist played by Amy Adams who is called in to try to find out who they are and what their intentions are.

“Billy Linn’s Long Halftime Walk” Ben Fountain’s acclaimed novel about an Iraqi war American soldier on a “victory tour” through the US has been brought to the screen by Ang Lee, with a revolutionary new process that produces images of stunning focus and clarity.

November 18

fantastic beasts“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” It’s tough to decide which is more exciting — J.K. Rowling’s first screenplay, the first Harry Potter universe story to be set in the past, the first set in the U.S., knowing that there are four more movies ahead featuring these characters, or just the chance to go back into the Potterverse. Oh, and it stars Eddie Redmayne, too.

“Manchester by the Sea” This festival favorite from writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (“You Can Count on Me”) stars Casey Affleck as a loner suddenly appointed guardian of his late brother’s teenage son. The story takes its time, slowly letting the audience get to know the characters and their history and become deeply engaged in its spacious humanity.

November 23

Copyright 2016 Disney
Copyright 2016 Disney

“Moana” Disney’s first Polynesian heroine must save her tribe with the help of a legendary demigod (Dwayne Johnson) and songs from “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda.

November 25

“Lion” Bring a couple of handkerchiefs for this true story about an adopted man searching for his biological family, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

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Opening This Month
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