Review: ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,’ starring Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren and Randall Park

December 22, 2023

by Carla Hay

Jason Momoa and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”

Directed by James Wan

Culture Representation: Taking place above and below the oceans of Earth, the superhero action film “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (based on DC Comics characters) features a racially diverse cast of characters (Asian, white and African American) portraying superheroes and regular human beings.

Culture Clash: Ocean-dwelling superhero Aquaman, also known as Arthur Curry, battles Black Manta, a villain who wants to control the world through environmental terrorism. 

Culture Audience: “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Jason Momoa and movies based on DC Comics, but the movie is inferior in every way to its 2018 predecessor, “Aquaman.”

Patrick Wilson and Jason Momoa in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Just like toxic seaweed, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is a tangled and rotten mess of a superhero film with uneven visual effects, cringeworthy dialogue and a sloppy plot. The filmmakers mistakenly think that Aquaman’s charisma is defined by “surf dude” whooping and hollering. It all becomes very predictable and tiresome, especially when the story is so weak and becomes unnecessarily convoluted in order to stretch the movie’s screen time.

Directed by James Wan and written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (whose release was delayed multiple times) is supposed to be the last movie in the DC Extendeded Universe (DCEU), which began with 2013’s “Man of Steel,” a Superman origin story. Movies and TV shows based on DC Comics are going through a major overhaul under the leadership of DC Studios co-chairs/co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, who were appointed to these positions in 2022. The first “Aquaman” movie, released in 2018, is the highest-grossing DC Comics-based movie of all time, with worldwide ticket sales of about $1.15 billion.

Many of the filmmakers behind “Aquaman” are also behind “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” including director Wan, screenwriter Johnson-McGoldrick, producer Rob Cowan, cinematographer Don Burgess, production designer Bill Brzeski, film editor Kirk Morri, music composer Rupert Gregson-Williams and music supervisor is Michelle Silverman. Most of the headlining cast members from “Aquaman” are also in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.” What went wrong?

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” stumbles from the beginning with a corny montage sequence of Arthur Curry/Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa) rescuing a ship that’s being invaded by pirates, and then explaining that he’s now a husband and father who’s the king of the secret underwater kingdom of Atlantis. “That’s right,” Arthur says proudly. “I’m the king of frickin’ Atlantis.”

Arthur likes having this royal title, but he says he hates doing government work that comes with the job, such as attending council meetings, because he doesn’t think it’s any fun. The montage includes Arthur/Aquaman looking like he’s about to fall asleep from boredom at one of these meetings. Aquaman is supposed to be an adult (who looks like a middle-aged human), but he often talks like he’s a teenager who’s become a legal adult and is resentful about having certain adult responsibilities.

Arthur’s wife Mera (played by Amber Heard) gets very choppy film editing in the movie. She’s almost non-existent in the early scenes showing Arthur taking care of baby son Arthur Jr., while Arthur’s supportive father Tom Curry (played by Temuera Morrison) lives in the same household. Adding to the movie’s unimaginative and juvenile comedy, the baby urinates in Arthur’s face more than once in diaper-changing scenes.

At several points in the movie, Arthur looks like he’s a single father, even though he speaks lovingly of his wife, who is nowhere to be seen without explanation when Arthur is spending time with his family. The off-screen controversy over Heard and ex-husband Johnny Depp might or might not have played a role in how Heard is edited in the movie. Many of Depp’s fans petitioned Warner Bros. Pictures to cut her out of the movie because of issues related to the ex-couple’s legal disputes.

Meanwhile, villain David Kane (played Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who has the alter ego Black Manta, is hell-bent on getting revenge on Aquaman, who was responsible for the death of David’s father in the first “Aquaman” movie. In “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” David is seen scowling while his Black Manta suit is propped nearby. He fumes, “Every day I don’t fix my power suit is another day that Aquaman gets to live.”

David has continued in his father’s profession of being a deep-sea diver who hunts for treasure. He ends up rescuing Dr. Stephen Shin (played by Randall Park), a marine biologist who has survived a deadly attack from a mysterious giant creature with tentacles during an underwater exploration near Antarctica. (“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” was actually filmed in Hawaii.) This creature has killed some of the people in Stephen’s team.

Stephen (who is stereotypical science geek character) is grateful to David for saving his life, but it turns out that David is forcing Stephen and the rest of the marine biologist team to work with David. Unbenkownst to Stephen, David has found a magical Black Trident that has allowed David to communicate with this demonic-like creature. The creature has told David: “Free me from my prison, and I will grant you the strength to kill the man who murdered your father.”

This creature is Kordax (played by Pilou Asbæk), the leader of Necrus, which is also called the Lost Kingdom of Atlantis. There are seven kingdoms of Atlantis: Necrus, Atlantis, Xebel, Kingdom of the Fishermen, Kingdom of the Trench, Kingdom of the Brine and Kingdom of the Deserters. David finds out that the Black Trident needs a certain fuel to reach its full power.

Five months later, Arthur/Aquaman appears before the Council of Atlantis, whose leader Karshon (played by Indya Moore) advises him that the people in the surface world have been poisoning the atmosphere of Atlantis through irresponsible environmental pollution. (It has something do with David stealing a stash of orichalcum, a dangerous metal that was locked up in Atlantis.) Arthur thinks it’s time for Atlantis to reveal itself to the people above the water. However, he gets resistance from council members who think that Atlantis should remain a secret from humans.

The rest of “Aquaman” becomes a mishmash of very fake-looking chase/fight scenes, climate change messaging, and a family reunion with a lot of awkward banter. And there’s some nonsense about Curry family blood that gets thrown into the story in a desperate attempt to make the plot look more interesting. For the movie’s action scenes, “loud” and “cluttered” don’t add up to being “exciting” or “interesting.”

The family reunion part of the story involves Arthur’s estranged younger half-brother Orm (played by Patrick Wilson), the former king of Atlantis who was Arthur’s enemy in “Aquaman.” Orm (who also goes by the name Ocean Master) is a dirty, disheveled and emaciated prisoner when Arthur breaks him out of prison to help in the fight against Black Manta and Kordax. But in one of the movie’s phoniest-looking scenes, Orm magically “cleans up” and transforms into a chiseled hunk as soon as he submerges himself in some water on a beach.

Also joining the fray in this family reunion are Atlanna (played by Nicole Kidman), the mother of Arthur and Orm. Atlanna’s regal personality from the first “Aquaman” movie seems to be washed away in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” which makes her as bland and bland can be. The same can be said for Mera, whose fiery personality has been replaced with being a generic sidekick who helps out in the fight scenes. Mera’s stern father, King Nereus (played by Dolph Lundgren), is also part of Aquaman’s fight team. The main purpose of King Nereus in the movie is to be the person on the team who is most suspicious that Orm will be helpful.

All of these characters would be enough for a superhero movie. But “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” doesn’t trust that would be enough to entertain audiences. And so, there are myriads of creatures that populate the movie as distractions that don’t do much to further the plot. Topo, the drum-playing octopus, makes a return to help Aquaman, who doesn’t really want this pet tagging along, but his mother Atlanna insists that Topo accompany Arthur. Arthur/Aquaman acts like a teenager who doesn’t want to babysit the family dog. Kingfish (voiced by Martin Short) is a mutant sea creature who is the sarcastic leader of underwater pirates that have conflicts with residents of Atlantis.

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” has some striking visuals in the Octobots:
vehicles with octopus-like metal arms that are used by Black Manta and his goons. However, even with these inventions and villainous armies doing battle against the heroes, none of it looks truly terrifying during these fight scenes. It all looks very busy, as if the filmmakers thought that throwing up a lot of computer-generated imagery (CGI) on screen is enough to create suspense.

The acting performances in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” go through the motions and aren’t anything special. Momoa looks like he’s trying inject some playful energy into “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” but it just dilutes the action scenes to make Aquaman into a goofball with muscles. It’s similar to how filmmaker Taika Waititi’s version of “god of thunder” Thor in Marvel movies loses the royal aura that the character had in the comic books to become a walking comedy machine that tells jokes that aren’t always funny.

Don’t expect there to be any good mid-credits or post-credits scenes in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.” The mid-credits scene is meant to be amusing, but it will likely nauseate some viewers because it depicts someone eating a cockroach. There is no end-credits scene, which wouldn’t really help anyway, because this movie doesn’t have any story ideas that are fresh or surprising. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” isn’t the worst superhero movie based on DC Comics, but compared to the first “Aquaman” movie, it’s like a crowd-pleasing cruise that has become a shipwreck.

Warner Bros. Pictures released “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” in U.S. cinemas on December 22, 2023.

Review: ‘Fast X,’ starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Jason Momoa, John Cena and Brie Larson

May 17, 2023

by Carla Hay

Pictured clockwise, from left: Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, Vin Diesel, Leo Abelo Perry, Rita Moreno, Jordana Brewster Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (back to camera) and Tyrese Gibson (back to camera) in “Fast X” (Photo by Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures)

“Fast X”

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Culture Representation: Taking place in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, and Antarctica, the action flick “Fast X” features a racially diverse cast of characters (black, white, Latino and Asian) representing the middle-class and wealthy in law enforcement and the criminal underground.

Culture Clash: A daredevil team tries to save the world from a group of criminals led by a sadistic killer who’s avenging the death of his father. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to fans of the “Fast and the Furious” movie franchise, “Fast X” (the 10th movie in the series) will appeal primarily to people who want to a predictable action flick with high-budget stunts and low-quality screenwriting.

Jason Momoa in “Fast X” (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

“Fast X” is the cinematic equivalent of a multi-car crash pileup. It’s a huge downgrade for the franchise, which is a bloated mishmash of Oscar-winning stars and less-talented cast members saying a lot of awful dialogue while dodging guns and explosions. It’s bad enough that this franchise expects people to believe that the “heroes” don’t get wounded or killed in the way they should in these far-fetched action scenes. Now, this franchise expects viewers to believe that some of these characters can come back from the dead.

Directed by Louis Leterrier, “Fast X” (the 10th film in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise) has given up on having coherent plots and interesting characters. Everyone is just a caricature at this point. Justin Lin (who was the original director of “Fast X” but he quit due to behind-the-scenes turmoil) and Dan Mazeau wrote the atrocious screenplay for “Fast X,” which ends with a scene that will either have viewers cheering or rolling their eyes at the ludicrous “resurrection” that viewers are expected to believe.

“Fast X” has a less complicated plot than 2021’s “F9: The Fast Saga” (the ninth movie in the “Fast” series), but that just means the plot’s inanity is even more obvious. In a nutshell: “Fast X” is about the daredevil “heroes” of the franchise being framed as terrorists by a wisecracking villain named Dante (played by Jason Momoa), who likes to spead out his arms a lot, as if he’s a criminal messiah. Dante is the son of Brazilian drug lord Hernan Reyes (played by Joaquim de Almeida), who was killed during his defeat by the “Fast” heroes in 2011’s “Fast Five.” Dante acts like an unhinged and untalented stand-up comedian when he commits his mayhem, such as when he threatens to blow up the Vatican in Rome, and he smirks that he’s “going to hell,” just for making this threat.

The “Fast” hero characters are:

  • Dominic “Dom” Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) is the leader of the daredevil crew that started out as outlaw drag racers and now have vague duties a security/spy team hired to help out government officials and elite business people who are targets of villains who want to take over the world. Vinnie Bennett portrays a young Dom in the movie’s several flashbacks to when Dom was in his late teens.
  • Letty Ortiz (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is Dom’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. In “F9,” Dom and Letty are happily living together with Dom’s son Brian (played by Leo Abelo Perry), who’s about 6 or 7 years old in this movie. Brian’s mother Elena Neves (played by Elsa Pataky) was a Diplomatic Security Service agent who died in 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious.”
  • Mia Toretto (played by Jordana Brewster) is Dom’s loyal younger sister who goes along with whatever Dom wants. Mia is the love partner of Dom’s best friend Brian O’Conner (played by Paul Walker), who is the father of their son Jack. Walker died in real life in 2013, but Brian is supposed to be happily retired.
  • Roman Pearce (played by Tyrese Gibson) is a nervous and talkative member of Dom’s team. The running joke with Roman is that he’s always anxious about getting into dangerous situations. Expect Roman to scream at least twice in every “Fast” movie.
  • Tej Parker (played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) is Roman’s level-headed best friend who has skills as a mechanic and a computer technician.
  • Ramsey (played by Nathalie Emmanuel) is a British computer hacker who has essentially taken over from Tej as being the “computer whiz” on Dom’s team.
  • Han Lue (played by Sung Kang) supposedly died in 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6,” but he came back from the dead in “F9: The Fast Saga” because he “faked” his own death.

Also in the movie are Deckard Shaw (played by Jason Statham), who is a longtime nemesis of Dom’s team. Jakob Toretto (played by John Cena), Dom’s formerly estranged younger brother who was introduced in “F9: The Fast Saga,” also shows up in a way that is entirely predictable and unimaginative. Government agent Little Nobody (played by Scott Eastwood) makes a return. A generic bureaucrat named Aimes (played by Alan Richtson), has replaced Mr. Nobody as the leader of the secret Agency that works with Dom and his team. And there’s also a Brazilian street racer named Isabela (played by Daniela Melchior), who makes a brief appearance in a drag race scene that objectifies women’s bodies.

The “Fast” franchise keeps adding Oscar winners to its cast, in what seems to be a desperate attempt to bring artistic credibility to this movie series. It’s just like having master chefs serve up low-quality junk food. The food is still junk, no matter who’s serving it. The Oscar winners who are new to “Fast X” are Rita Moreno, as Dom’s unnamed grandmother (she’s called “abuelita,” a Spanish-language term of endearment for “grandmother”), and Brie Larson as Tess, a “rogue representative” who’s also the daughter of Mr. Nobody. They join Oscar winners Helen Mirren as Queenie Shaw (the mother of Deckard Shaw) and Charlize Theron as frenemy Cipher, who both make return cameos in “Fast X.”

A mid-credits scene in “Fast X” shows the return of a major “Fast” franchise character, who wasn’t killed in the series. It’s yet another attempt for the “Fast” franchise to look more interesting by adding and bringing back stars to the “Fast” movie series. At this point in the “Fast” franchise, it doesn’t matter who lives or dies, because the creative innovation in this movie series is dead.

Universal Pictures will release “Fast X” in U.S. cinemas on May 19, 2023.

2020 Golden Globe Awards: presenters announced

January 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the organization the votes for the Golden Globe Awards) and Dick Clark Productions (which co-produces the Golden Globes telecast) have announced the presenters of the 2020 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, which takes place January 5 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills California. NBC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Here are the presenters in alphabetical order:

  • Tim Allen
  • Jennifer Aniston*
  • Christian Bale*
  • Antonio Banderas*
  • Jason Bateman
  • Annette Bening*
  • Cate Blanchett*
  • Matt Bomer
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Glenn Close
  • Daniel Craig*
  • Ted Danson
  • Ana de Armas*
  • Leonardo DiCaprio*
  • Ansel Elgort
  • Chris Evans
  • Dakota Fanning
  • Will Ferrell
  • Lauren Graham
  • Tiffany Haddish
  • Kit Harington*
  • Salma Hayek
  • Scarlett Johansson*
  • Elton John*
  • Nick Jonas
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Zoe Kravitz
  • Jennifer Lopez*
  • Rami Malek*
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Helen Mirren
  • Jason Momoa
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Amy Poehler
  • Brad Pitt*
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph
  • Margot Robbie*
  • Paul Rudd*
  • Wesley Snipes
  • Octavia Spencer
  • Bernie Taupin*
  • Charlize Theron*
  • Sofia Vergara
  • Kerry Washington
  • Naomi Watts
  • Rachel Weisz
  • Reese Witherspoon*

*2020 Golden Globe Awards nominee

Ricky Gervais is hosting the show. Tom Hanks will be receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, while Ellen DeGeneres will be getting the Carol Burnett Award, which is given to people who have excelled in comedy. The Carol Burnett Award debuted at the Golden Globes in 2019, and Burnett was the first recipient of the prize. Dylan and Paris Brosnan (sons of Pierce Brosnan) will serve as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors.

Click here for a complete list of nominations for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards.

Apple announces Apple TV+ with Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and more

March 25, 2019

The following is a press release from Apple:

Apple today announced Apple TV+, the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers featuring exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries, coming this fall. Apple TV+, Apple’s original video subscription service, will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world’s most celebrated creative artists, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more. On the Apple TV app, subscribers will enjoy inspiring and authentic stories with emotional depth and compelling characters from all walks of life, ad-free and on demand.

“We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world – both in front of and behind the camera – are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”

Additionally, Apple debuted the all-new Apple TV app and Apple TV channels coming in May 2019. The all-new Apple TV app brings together the different ways to discover and watch shows, movies, sports, news and more in one app across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, smart TVs and streaming devices. Users can subscribe to and watch new Apple TV channels – paying for only services they want, like HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz – all on demand, available on and offline, with incredible picture quality and sound; enjoy sports, news and network TV from cable and satellite providers as well as purchase or rent iTunes movies and TV shows all within the new, personalized Apple TV app.

Beginning in May, customers can subscribe to Apple TV channels à la carte and watch them in the Apple TV app, with no additional apps, accounts or passwords required. Apple TV channels include popular services such as HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin and new services like MTV Hits, with more to be added over time around the world.

The new Apple TV app personalizes what viewers love to watch across their existing apps and services while developing a secure and comprehensive understanding of users’ viewing interests. The app will offer suggestions for shows and movies from over 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as pay-TV services such as Canal+, Charter Spectrum, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Optimum and Suddenlink from Altice will be added later this year.*

Additionally, the Apple TV app will become the new home to the hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows currently available for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store.

Availability

Pricing and availability for the Apple TV+ video subscription service will be announced later this fall.

The all-new Apple TV app is coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers in over 100 countries with a free software update this May, and to Mac this fall.

Through Family Sharing, users can share Apple TV+ and subscriptions to Apple TV channels.

The Apple TV app will be available on Samsung smart TVs beginning this spring and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms in the future.

Later this year, customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to effortlessly play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad directly to their smart TVs with AirPlay 2 support.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms – iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS – provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

Editor’s note: The shows on Apple TV+ include:

  • Steven Spielberg’s reboot of the “Amazing Stories” anthology
  • Oprah Winfrey projects, including a documentary titled “Toxic Labor” about workplace harassment; a documentary (title to be announced) about mental health; and a book club-oriented program whose title is to be announced.
  • “The Morning Show,” a drama series about morning television, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, with Aniston and Witherspoon among the executive producers
  • “See,” a post-apocalyptic drama series starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard
  • “Little Voice,” a musical drama series, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, with original songs written by Sara Bareilles
  • “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” starring Jennifer Garner and executive produced by J.J. Abrams
  • “Peanuts” content, based on the beloved comic-strip characters
  • “Swagger,” a drama series based on the life of basketball star Kevin Durant, with Durant executive producing the show with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
  • “Defending Jacob,” a drama series starring and executive produced by Chris Evans, about a father whose teenage son is suspected of killing a classmate
  • “Pachinko,” a drama series based on Min Jin Lee’s book, with Soo Hugh as the showrunner
  • A comedy series (title to be announced) about video-game company, executive produced by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” co-stars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day
  • “Are You Sleeping,” a drama series about how a podcast affects a cold murder case, starring Octavia Spencer, Lizzy Caplan and Aaron Paul
  • “Dickinson,” a drama series about Emily Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld
  • “Bastards,” a drama series about war veterans, starring Richard Gere
  • A drama series (title to be announced) about CIA operative Amaryllis Fox, starring and executive produced by Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson
  • “Little America,” a comedy series about immigrants, executive produced by Oscar-nominated “The Big Sick” writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
  • “Helpsters,” a children’s show from Sesame Workshop
  • “Calls,” an American remake of a French drama series that does reenactments of 911 calls
  • “For All Mankind,” a space drama series starring Joel Kinnaman
  • “Central Park,” an animated series from “Bob’s Burgers” creator Loren Bouchard, with a voice cast that includes Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Josh Gad, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Stanley Tucci.
  • “Homes,” a docuseries about unusual homes
  • “Losing Earth,” a possible drama or docuseries about climate change
  • “Shantaram,” a drama series about an escaped prisoner from Australia who’s hiding out in India, from executive producer/screenwriter Eric Warren Singer (“American Hustle”)
  • “Time Bandits,” a fantasy comedy series from executive producer/director Taika Waititi, based on Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film of the same title
  • A still-untitled drama/thriller series from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, with a cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, Rupert Grint and Toby Kebbell [UPDATE: The series is titled “Servant.”]
  • A still-untitled drama series from Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle, with the show’s plot and cast to be announced
  • A still-untitled sci-fi series from executive producer Simon Kinberg, who has written several “X-Men” movies
  • A still-untitled mystery drama series from executive producer/director Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), based on real-life pre-teen reporter Hilde Lysiak (played by Brooklynn Prince), with Jim Sturgess co-starring as her father

SOURCE: Variety

*Network and streaming app availability may vary by country.

2019 Academy Awards: performers and presenters announced

February 11, 2019

by Carla Hay

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced several entertainers who will be performers and presenters at the 91st Annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. ABC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, which will not have a host. As previously reported, comedian/actor Kevin Hart was going to host the show, but he backed out after the show’s producers demanded that he make a public apology for homophobic remarks that he made several years ago. After getting a  firestorm of backlash for the homophobic remarks, Hart later made several public apologies but remained adamant that he would still not host the Oscars this year.

The celebrities who will be on stage at the Oscars this year are several of those whose songs are nominated for Best Original Song. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will perform their duet “Shallow” from their movie remake of “A Star Is Born.” Jennifer Hudson will perform “I’ll Fight” from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG.” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch will team up for the duet “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from the Western film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” It has not yet been announced who will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from the Disney musical sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”** It also hasn’t been announced yet if Kendrick Lamar and SZA will take the stage for “All the Stars” from the superhero flick “Black Panther.”

Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic do the music for the “In Memoriam” segment, which spotlights notable people in the film industry who have died in the year since the previous Oscar ceremony.

Meanwhile, the following celebrities have been announced as presenters at the ceremony: Whoopi Goldberg (who has hosted the Oscars twice in the past), Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Tessa Thompson Constance Wu, Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephan James, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, James McAvoy, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa and Sarah Paulson. Goldberg and Bardem are previous Oscar winners.

Other previous Oscar winners taking the stage will be Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney, who won the actor and actress prizes at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Donna Gigliotti (who won an Oscar for Best Picture for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love) and Emmy-winning director Glenn Weiss are the producers of the 2019 Academy Awards. This will be the first time that Gigliotti is producing the Oscar ceremony. Weiss has directed several major award shows, including the Oscars and the Tonys. He will direct the Oscar ceremony again in 2019.

**February 18, 2019 UPDATE: Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Los Things Go,” the Oscar-nominated song from “Mary Poppins Returns.” British rock band Queen, whose official biopic is the Oscar-nominated film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” will also perform on the show with lead singer Adam Lambert. It has not been revealed which song(s) Queen will perform at the Oscars.

February 19, 2019 UPDATE: These presenters have been added to the Oscar telecast: Elsie Fisher, Danai Gurira, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Keaton, Helen Mirren, John Mulaney, Tyler Perry, Pharrell Williams, Krysten Ritter, Paul Rudd and Michelle Yeoh.

February 21, 2019 UPDATE: These celebrities will present the Best Picture nominees: José Andrés, Dana Carvey, Queen Latifah, Congressman John Lewis, Diego Luna, Tom Morello, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Amandla Stenberg, Barbra Streisand and Serena Williams.

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