Another Starry Weekend

Yes, the Golden Globes has a corner on super-glitz and glamour, but I was fortunate enough to attend two smaller-scale events this weekend that offer their fair share of star-power—and credibility. As a member of the jury, I’m privileged to attend the annual AFI Awards luncheon, where A-list filmmakers and actors brush against the top creators of high-end television. Then Saturday night I joined my fellow members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for our annual awards banquet, where the winners don’t flee the moment it’s over, because they enjoy the opportunity to commune with people who, they realize, love movies just as much as they do. Here are some of my souvenir snapshots.

J.J. Abrams-Steven Spielberg-2016-680

(Leonard Maltin)

Master and disciple: Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams clearly admire each other’s work, and why not? They both started out making home movies as kids and retain a youthful enthusiasm for what they do on the big screen.

Pete Docter-Jonas Rivera-Michael Giacchino-680

(Leonard Maltin)

Speaking of enthusiasm, here is the ebullient trio who collaborated on Pixar’s remarkable Inside Out: director Pete Docter, producer Jonas Rivera, and the brilliant composer Michael Giacchino (who also scored Jurassic World andTomorrowland, back to back, this past year).

Carol's Cate Blanchett-Todd Haynes-680

(Leonard Maltin)

The charming and ferociously talented Cate Blanchett happily posed with herCarol director Todd Haynes. (It’s worth saying—though the film was not that well received—that she is every bit as great in Truth, opposite Robert Redford.)

Jacob Tremblay-from Room

(Leonard Maltin)

Quiet and possibly a bit bored—until he spotted J.J. Abrams—was precociously talented Jacob Tremblay, who is so good in Room.

Drew Goddard-F. Gary Gray-680

(Leonard Maltin)

 Talent is all around: that’s Drew Goddard, who produced and wrote The Martian, and F. Gary Gray, who directed Straight Outta Compton. My wife asked Drew how he knew what he did and he replied that his parents were science teachers!  I asked Gary what he changed for the new Director’s Cut ofCompton on Blu-ray: it’s 20 minutes longer, more emotional and, he says, fleshes out the female characters. 

Robert Towne-George Miller-680

(Leonard Maltin)

Revered screenwriter Robert Towne presented a benediction at the end of the AFI Lunch, and confessed that he stood in awe of this year’s achievements. AFI’s Bob Gazzale reminded us that there’s an amusing reference to Towne’sChinatown dialogue in Inside Out. Later he posed with another filmmaking veteran who’s still riding high: Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller.

LAFCA-Michael Shannon-680

(Leonard Maltin)

Though he can look forbidding at times, Michael Shannon is actually a teddy bear who was deeply moved by the recognition the L.A. Critics gave him for his searing performance in 99 Homes. We discussed the electrifying opening scene of Ramin Bahrani’s film and he told me the director insisted on shooting it in one long, continuous take: they did it 17 times, which drained the actor dry… but sure enough, Bahrani wound up using the 17th take. (That’s Brent Simon standing behind Shannon, having presented his award onstage.)

Ryan Cooglar-Alicia Vikander-Michael B. Jordan-680

(Leonard Maltin)

Relative newcomers have made headway this year: Ryan Coogler hit pay dirt with his second feature, Creed, starring the formidable Michael B. Jordan. Here they flank beautiful Alicia Vikander, this year’s breakout leading lady who won LAFCA’s prize for Ex Machina but is just as good in The Danish Girl.

László Nemes-Alexander Payne-680

(Leonard Maltin)

Alexander Payne (r) accepted LAFCA’s special citation for pioneering film preservationist David Shepard, who was his film history teacher at UCLA…and chatted with László Nemes, the award-winning director of this year’s Foreign Film winner, the remarkable Son of Saul…all the more remarkable as it is his debut feature.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024