Day: February 10, 2020

Sanity phase in newspaper shooting case delayed to June

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The second phase of a trial to determine whether a man who has pleaded guilty to killing five people at a Maryland newspaper but not criminally responsible due to his mental health will be delayed until June, a judge ruled Monday.

Judge Laura Ripken set jury selection in the case of Jarrod Ramos to begin June 2. She set aside June 8-23 for the trial. It’s the latest delay after repeated postponements in the case relating to the June 2018 shooting at the Capital Gazette’s office.

Attorneys for Ramos say the delay is needed, because William Davis, one of his three lawyers, cannot continue with the case due to medical issues. They say a new attorney has agreed to take his place, but more time is needed for the lawyer to prepare.

The sanity phase of the trial had been scheduled for March.

Anne Colt Leitess, the state’s attorney handling the case, said she had contacted family members of victims about the delay.

“This is very difficult for them,” Leitess said, though she added that she understood the need for the delay.

Ramos pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible in October to killing John McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, Rob Hiaasen and Rebecca Smith in the newsroom rampage.

Ramos had a well-documented history of harassing the newspaper’s journalists. He filed a lawsuit against the paper in 2012, alleging he was defamed in an article about his conviction in a criminal harassment case in 2011. The Capital published a story describing allegations by a woman who said Ramos harassed her online for months. The defamation suit was dismissed as groundless, and Ramos railed against the staff at the newspaper in profanity-laced tweets.

During a pretrial hearing in October, Ripken said a report from the state health department concluded Ramos is legally sane. But Ramos’ lawyers say experts for the defence have reached a different conclusion.

Brian Witte, The Associated Press

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In a win for the world, ‘Parasite’ takes best picture Oscar

In a milestone win that instantly expanded the Oscars’ horizons, Bong Joon Ho’s masterfully devious class satire “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards.

“Parasite” took Hollywood’s top prize on Sunday night, along with awards for best director, best international film and best screenplay. In a year dominated by period epics — “1917,” “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood,” “The Irishman” — the film academy instead went overseas, to South Korea, to reward a contemporary and unsettling portrait of social inequality in “Parasite.”

True to its name, “Parasite” simply got under the skin of Oscar voters, attaching itself to the American awards season and, ultimately, to history. The win was a watershed moment for the Academy Awards, which has long been content to relegate international films to their own category. But in recent years, to diversify its membership, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has invited many more overseas voters.

Multiple standing ovations greeted Bong’s several wins. “I am ready to drink tonight,” Bong said, prompting roars from the crowd. Unexpectedly called up again for best director, Bong saluted his fellow nominees, particularly Martin Scorsese, and concluded: “Now I’m ready to drink until tomorrow.”

After the Dolby Theatre had emptied out, the “Parasite” team still remained on the stage, soaking in their win. Backstage, Bong was still gobsmacked. “It’s really f—ing crazy,” he told reporters, clutching his awards.

The victory for “Parasite” — which had echoes of the surprise win by “Moonlight” over “La La Land” three years ago — came in a year when many criticized the lack of diversity in the nominees and the absence of female filmmakers. But the triumph for “Parasite,” the Palme d’Or-winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, enabled Hollywood to flip the script and signal progress, nevertheless. No Korean film had ever won an Oscar before.

In doing so, the film academy turned away another history-making event, again denying Netflix its first best-picture win despite two contenders in “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” and a big-spending awards campaign blitz.

Sam Mendes’ audaciously conceived First World War film “1917,” made to seem one continuous shot, had been the clear favourite heading into Oscars, having won nearly all the precursor awards, including top honours from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. In the end, “1917” went home with three awards for its technical virtuosity: Roger Deakins’ cinematography, visual effects and sound mixing.

All of the acting winners — Brad Pitt, Renee Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix and Laura Dern — went as expected. While Pitt, notching his first acting Oscar, had regaled audiences with one-liners in the run-up to Sunday, he began his comments on a political note.

“They told me I have 45 seconds to speak, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said, alluding to the impeachment hearings before mentioning director Quentin Tarantino. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it.”

Pitt said the honour had given him reason to reflect on his fairy-tale journey in the film industry, going back to when he moved to Los Angeles from Missouri. “Once upon a time in Hollywood,” said Pitt. “Ain’t that the truth.”

Zellweger completed a comeback, winning her second Academy Award for her fragile but indomitable Judy Garland in “Judy.” Dern won for her performance as a divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” Accepting her first Oscar, Dern thanked her in-attendance parents, “my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.”

Phoenix, long one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, took best actor for his limber but morose Joker. In his acceptance speech, Phoenix spoke deliberately about a host of issues, including sexism and racism in the film industry, ecological disaster and vegetarianism.

“I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times and hard to work with. But so many of you in this room have given me a second chance,” Phoenix said. When people guide each other toward redemption, he added, “that is the best of humanity.”

He concluded quoting a lyric of his deceased brother, River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.”

For the 87th time, no women were nominated for best director this year, a subject that was woven into the entire ceremony — and even into some attendees’ clothing. Natalie Portman wore a cape lined with the names of female filmmakers who weren’t nominated for their direction, including Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and Mati Diop (“Atlantics”).

Coming on a rare rainy day in Los Angeles, the ceremony was soggy and song-heavy. Some performances, like Eminem’s performance of “Lose Yourself,” were unexpected (and drew a wan response from Scorsese). All of the song nominees performed, including Elton John who won with his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin for their “Rocketman” tune.

The hostless ceremony opened on a note of inclusion, with Janelle Monae performing “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and her own song, “Come Alive,” with an assist from Billy Porter. “I’m so proud to be standing here as a black queer artist telling stories,” Monae said. “Happy Black History Month.”

Two former Oscar hosts, Chris Rock and Steve Martin, provided the opening monologue. “An incredible demotion,” Martin called it. Martin also reminded that something was missing from this year’s directing nominees. “Vaginas!” Rock replied.

There were milestones beyond “Parasite.” In winning best adapted screenplay for his Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit,” the New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi became the first indigenous director ever to win an Oscar. He dedicated the award to “all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art, dance and write stories.”

“We are the original storytellers,” Waititi said.

“Joker” composer Hildur Guonadottir became only the third woman to ever win best original score. “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music opening within, please speak up,” said Guonadottir. “We need to hear your voices.”

Awards were spread around to all of the best picture nominees, with the lone exception being Scorsese’s 10-time nominee “The Irishman.” When Bong mentioned his admiration of Scorsese, an impromptu tribute broke out, with the Dolby Theatre giving Scorsese a standing ovation. The car racing throwback “Ford v Ferrari” won both editing and sound editing. Gerwig’s Louisa May Alcott adaptation “Little Women” won for Jacqueline Durran’s costume design. “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” won for Barbara Ling’s production design.

Netflix didn’t go home empty handed. Aside from Dern’s win for “Marriage Story,” the streamer’s “American Factory” won best documentary. The film is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.

Pixar extended its domination of the best animated film category, winning for “Toy Story 4.” It’s the 10th Pixar film to win the award and second “Toy Story” film to do so, following the previous 2010 installment.

It was an early award for the Walt Disney Co., which despite amassing a record $13 billion in worldwide box office last year and owning the network the Oscars are broadcast on, played a minor role in the ceremony. The bulk of its awards came from 20th Century Fox (“Ford v Ferrari”) and Fox Searchlight (“Jojo Rabbit”), both of which the company took control of after its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last year.

Disney’s ABC hoped a widely watched field of nominees — including the $1 billion-grossing “Joker” — will help viewership. Last year’s show garnered 29.6 million viewers, a 12% uptick.

——

AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report

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By The Wall of Law February 10, 2020 Off

Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, ‘Parasite’ win at Academy Awards

LOS ANGELES — Brad Pitt won his first acting Oscar, Laura Dern collected best supporting actress and Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” has already made history at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Few categories were more certain coming into Sunday’s Oscars than best supporting actor, which Pitt has had locked down all awards season. While Pitt (who in 2014 shared in the best picture win for “12 Years a Slave,” as a producer) has regaled audiences with one-liners in the run-up to the Oscars, he began his comments on a political note.

“They told me I have 45 seconds to speak, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” said Pitt, alluding to the impeachment hearings. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it.”

Pitt said the honour had given him reason to reflect on his fairy-tale journey in the film industry, going back to when he moved to Los Angeles from Missouri. “Once upon a time in Hollywood,” said Pitt. “Ain’t that the truth.”

The South Korean class satire “Parasite,” which many believe has a chance to upset the front-runner “1917” for best picture, took best original screenplay. Bong and co-writer Han Jin Won became the first Asian writers to take the prize, and “Parasite” became the first Korean film to win an Oscar. Should “Parasite” win the night’s final award, it would be the first non-English language film to win best picture.

“Regardless of the outcome, I think the door has been opened,” Bong said on the red carpet. “I think as long as we continue this effort, the door will just open wider and wider.”

Most of the early awards went according to forecasts, including Dern winning for her performance as a divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” Accepting her first Oscar, Dern thanked her in-attendance parents, “my legends Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.”

As it did last year, the annual Dolby Theatre ceremony kicked off without a host. Janelle Monae opened the show on a Mister Rogers performing “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Singing to the front row, Monae dropped her bowler hat on the head of Tom Hanks, who was nominated for his performance as Fred Rogers. A medley continued with Billy Porter joining in, as Monae segued into her song “Come Alive.”

“I’m so proud to be standing here as a black queer artist telling stories,” said Monae. “Happy Black History Month.”

Two former Oscar hosts, Chris Rock and Steve Martin, dropped in to supply an opening monologue. Martin called it “an incredible demotion.” Martin noted that something was missing from this year’s directing nominees. “Vaginas!” Rock replied.

No women were nominated for best director this year, a subject that appeared frequently in comments from the stage and even in some attendees clothing. Natalie Portman wore a cape lined with the names of female filmmakers who weren’t nominated for best director, including Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and Mati Diop (“Atlantics”).

Netflix came in with a leading 24 nominations. Along with the win for “Marriage Story,” the streamer’s “American Factory” won best documentary. The film is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions. No studio has spent more heavily this awards season than Netflix, which is seeking its first best picture win after coming up just shy last year with “Roma.”

Pixar extended its domination of the best animated film category, winning for “Toy Story 4.” It’s the 10th Pixar film to win the award and second “Toy Story” film to do so, following the previous 2010 installment.

It was also an early award for the Walt Disney Co. which despite last year amassing a record $13 billion in worldwide box office and owning the network the Oscars are broadcast on, was set to play a minor role in the ceremony. Some of its best chances came from 20th Century Fox (“Ford v Ferrari”) and Fox Searchlight (“Jojo Rabbit”), which the company took control of after its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox last year.

“Jojo Rabbit” also won for Taika Waititi’s adapted screenplay to his Nazi satire. The New Zealand filmmaker became the first indigenous director ever to win an Oscar. He dedicated the award to “all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art, dance and write stories.”

“We are the original storytellers,” Waititi said.

Awards were also spread around to “Little Women,” for Jacqueline Durran’s costume design, and to “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” for Barbara Ling’s production design

ABC, which is broadcasting the show live, is hoping a widely watched field of nominees — including the $1 billion-grossing “Joker,” up for a leading 11 awards — will help viewership. Last year’s show garnered 29.6 million viewers, a 12% uptick.

Instead, this year’s Oscar favourites are largely movies released widely in theatres. They also predominantly feature male characters and come from male directors.

After a year in which women made significant gains behind the camera, no female directors were nominated for best director. The acting categories are also the least diverse since the fallout of #OscarsSoWhite pushed the academy to remake its membership. Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) is the only actor of colour nominated. Those results, which have been a topic in speeches through awards season, stand in contrast to research that suggests the most popular movies star more people of colour than ever before.

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The AP’s Amanda Lee Meyers contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law February 10, 2020 Off

Dern wins supporting actress Oscar for ‘Marriage Story’

LOS ANGELES — Laura Dern’s turn as a steely divorce attorney in “Marriage Story” made the case with Oscar jurors, who completed her awards season sweep of best supporting actress honours.

Dern’s win Sunday came nearly three decades after her first Academy Award nomination, a lead actress bid in 1992 for “Rambling Rose.” She received a supporting actress nod in 2015 for “Wild,” and has earned Emmys and a wealth of critics’ honours over the years.

“Some say, never meet your heroes. I say if you’re really blessed, you get them as your parents,” an emotional Dern said in accepting the trophy. “I share this with my acting legends, my heroes, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. You’ve got game. I love you.”

Dern also paid tribute to “Marriage Story” filmmaker Noah Baumbach. His film detailing a marriage’s end is about love and breaching divisions in the home and family and, hopefully, for all “in the name of the planet,” Dern said.

In a reflection of Dern’s across-the-board respect, her awards for “Marriage Story” ranged from the mainstream Oscars and British Academy awards to critics’ laurels, and prompted an Independent Spirit awards musical tribute Saturday. The versatile actress also was on screen last year in “Little Women,” anchoring family life as Marmee for the film that garnered six Oscar bids, and has proved her commercial chops with the “Jurassic” franchise.

Dern comes from a pedigreed Hollywood family: Bruce Dern is a two-time Oscar nominee (“Coming Home,” “Nebraska”), and Ladd played her mom in “Rambling Rose” and earned her own Oscar nomination, for supporting actress. Laura Dern began acting as a child, moving from small roles to substantive, attention-getting work in the mid-1980s with “Mask,” “Smooth Talk” and “Blue Velvet.”

In an Associated Press interview a week before the Oscars, Dern said her roots helped her to cope with the awards whirlwind.

“I am really lucky at moments like this to have been raised by actors and to have been acting since I was 11,” and to know how uncertain the industry can be, she said. “You stay detached, and you enjoy the gift of working with people you love and … remembering what it’s really about.”

But there’s something to be said for the “other fun staff that’s dreamy and lovely,” she added.

Dern’s fellow nominees were Kathy Bates for “Richard Jewell”; Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”; Florence Pugh, “Little Women” and Margot Robbie, “Bombshell.” In a year notably scant in nominees of colour, critics saw opportunities missed in the category with the omission of Jennifer Lopez for “Hustlers” and Zhao Shuzhen for “The Farewell.”

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press



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By The Wall of Law February 10, 2020 Off