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Academy Award® Nominated: The Messenger

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In his most powerful performance to date, Ben Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia (Samantha Morton), to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband’s death, Will’s emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival.

Featuring tour-de-force performances from Foster, Harrelson and Morton, and a brilliant directorial debut by Oren Moverman, The Messenger brings us into the inner lives of these outwardly steely heroes to reveal their fragility with compassion and dignity.

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The cast includes: Ben Foster, Jena Malone, Eamonn Walker, Woody Harrelson, Yaya DaCosta, Portia, Lisa Joyce, Steve Buscemi, Peter Francis James, Samantha Morton, and Paul Diomede

Reviews

IMDB member
“The Messenger has incredible acting by Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, and Samantha Morton.

The film has a curious flow to it. It begins predictable, yet remains engaging, exposing a heart-breaking consequence of war no family wants to face. Although the news remains the same, emotions run just as deep at each door. Every scene is handled marvelously through subtle performances by the actors. As the film unfolds, the viewer sinks into the complex characters on screen, discomforted by the internal struggles that slowly surface.

The Messenger is a non-linear, character-driven film with exceptional performances but might not be for everyone.”

Did You Know?

Sgt. Brian Scott, who was training to deploy to Iraq at Ft. Dix in New Jersey and was a technical adviser in this film, was subsequently injured in an IED attack in Baghdad.

Two Nominations

Best Supporting Actor~Woody Harrelson
Best Original Screenplay

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Nominated for Best Supporting Actor ~ Woody Harrelson ~The Messenger

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, Bluedog89, and BuellBoy

Woody HarrelsonWoody Harrelson’s rare mix of intensity and charisma consistently surprises and delights audiences and critics alike for his work in both mainstream and independent projects. Most recently, Harrelson could be seen in Stuart Townsand’s BATTLE IN SEATTLE with Charlize Theron, Andre Benjamin and Ray Liotta, Brad Anderson’s TRANSSIBERIAN starring opposite Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley and Gabriele Muccino’s SEVEN POUNDS starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson. Upcoming films include THE MESSENGER with Ben Foster for director Oren Moverman and BUNRAKU, directed by Guy Moshe and co-starring Josh Hartnett and Demi Moore. Harrelson recently completed filming on DEFENDOR for director Peter Stebbings, costarring Kat Dennings.

Harrleson’s critically-acclaimed portrayal of controversial magazine publisher Larry Flynt in Milos Forman’s THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT garnered him Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Nominations as Best Actor. Other highlights from Harrleson’s film career include NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, SEMI PRO, AFTER THE SUNSET, PLAY IT TO THE BONE, THE THIN RED LINE, THE HI-LO COUNTY, ED TV, WAG THE DOG, WELCOME TO SARAJEVO, KINGPIN, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, INDECENT PROPOSAL, WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP, THE BIG WHITE, A SCANNER DARKLY, NORTH COUNTRY, THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFINANCE, OHIO, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and Zak Penn’s ensemble comedy THE GRAND.

Harrelson first endeared himself to millions of viewers as a member of the ensemble cast of NBC’s long-running hit comedy, CHEERS. For his work as the affable bartender Woody Boyd, he won an Emmy in 1988 and was nominated four additional times during his eight-year run on the show. In 1999, he gained another Emmy nomination when he reprised the role in a guest appearance on the spin-off series FRASIER. He later made a return to television with a recurring guest role on the hit NBC series, WILL AND GRACE.

Woody Harrelson in The Messenger

Woody Harrelson in The Messenger

Balancing his film and television work, in 1999 Harrelson directed his own play, FURTHEST FROM THE SUN at the Theatre de la Juene Lune in Minneapolis. He followed next with the Roundabout’s Broadway revival of THE RAINMAKER; Sam Shepherd’s THE LATE HENRY MOSS, and John Kolvenbach’s ON AN AVERAGE DAY opposite Kyle MacLachlan at London’s West End. Harrelson directed the Toronto premiere of Kenneth Lonergan’s THIS IS OUR YOUTH at the Berkeley Street Theatre. In the winter of 2005 Harrelson returned to London’s West End, starring in Tennessee Williams’ NIGHT OF THE IGUANA at the Lyric Theatre.

A committed environmentalist, Harrelson joined his activism with his film efforts in Ron Mann’s GO FURTHER, a road documentary following Woody and friends on their bicycle journey down the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to Santa Barbara.

Along with being a father to his three beautiful daughters, closest to his heart is http://www.voiceyourself.com, a website Harrelson co-created with his wife Laura Louie which promotes and inspires individual action to create global momentum towards simple organic living and to restore balance and harmony to our planet.

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Nominated for Best Actor ~ Jeremy Renner ~The Hurt Locker

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Jeremy RennerJeremy Renner recently starred in 28 Weeks Later, the highly anticipated sequel to 28 Days Later, for director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and co-starring Rose Byrne and Robert Carlyle. He played the heroic soldier Doyle, who goes against military orders to save a group of survivors. Renner also starred in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, directed by Andrew Dominik. In the film, Renner stars alongside Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in the role of a key member of James’ gang, Wood Hide. He also costarred opposite Minnie Driver in the independent film Take, scheduled for release later this year.

In North Country, Renner starred opposite Academy Award winner Charlize Theron in a fictionalized account of the first major, successful sexual harassment case in the U.S. Renner is at the center of the unfolding drama as miner Bobby Sharp. Renner also starred in the acclaimed independent film 12 and Holding, which was nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards’ John Cassavetes Award.

Other recent credits include the independent film Neo Ned, in which Renner starred opposite Gabrielle Union. Neo Ned was screened at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and swept the feature film category at the 11th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival in 2006. Neo Ned was awarded Best Feature Film and Best Director while Renner won the Best Actor prize. The film also was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking/Best Feature Film Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2006, in addition to the audience awards at the Slamdance, Sarasota and Ashland film festivals.

Jeremy Renner as Staff Sergeant William James in The Hurt Locker

Jeremy Renner as Staff Sergeant William James in The Hurt Locker

Renner’s other credits include A Little Trip to Heaven, in which he starred opposite Julia Stiles; The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, directed by Asia Argento as adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by J.T. Leroy; Lords of Dogtown, for director Catherine Hardwicke; and the independent film Love of the Executioner, written and directed by Kyle Bergersen.
In 2003, Renner was seen in the action hit S.W.A.T. opposite Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson. But the role that put Renner on the map and earned the actor an Independent Spirit Award nomination was his unforgettable portrayal of a real-life serial killer in the indie film Dahmer.
With a background in theater, Renner keeps his acting chops in shape by performing in plays throughout the Los Angeles area. Recent credits have included the critically acclaimed “Search and Destroy,” which he not only starred in but also co-directed.

Between film and theater, Renner finds the time to write, record, and perform his own brand of contemporary rock. He has written songs for Warner Chapel Publishing and Universal Publishing.

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Academy Award® Nominated: The Hurt Locker

Ensemble post by: Audiegrl, Geot, Bluedog89, and BuellBoy

The Hurt LockerThe Hurt Locker, winner of the 2008 Venice Film Festival SIGNIS Grand Prize, is a riveting, suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military’s unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives in one of the world’s most dangerous places. Three members of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal
(EOD) squad battle insurgents and each other as they search for and disarm a wave of roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad—in order to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike. Their mission is clear—protect and save—but it’s anything but easy, as the margin of error when defusing a war-zone bomb is zero. This thrilling and heart-pounding look at the effects of combat and danger on the human psyche is based on the first-hand observations of journalist and screenwriter Mark Boal, who was embedded with a special bomb unit in Iraq.

These men spoke of explosions as putting you in “the hurt locker.”

With a visual and emotional intensity that makes audiences feel like they have been transported to Iraq’s dizzying, 24-hour turmoil, The Hurt Locker is both a gripping portrayal of real-life sacrifice and heroism, and a layered, probing study of the soul-numbing rigors and potent allure of the modern battlefield.

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Credits

Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kathryn Bigelow
Producers . . . . . . . . Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro
Executive Producer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tony Mark
Screenwriter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mark Boal
Director of Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Ackroyd
Production Designer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Karl Júlíusson
Editors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
Costume Designer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . George Little
Composer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marc Beltrami

The cast includes: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Christian Camargo, and Evangeline Lilly

Reviews

IMDB member from Argentina
“I spent the entire film grabbing the arms of my seat. I was there in Irak, steps away from my death and the death of those around me. The tension, the suspense is at times breathtaking, literally. “The Hurt Locker” is a miracle and the definitive consecration of a great filmmaker, Kathryn Bigelow. This is also a rare occasion in which I went to see the film without having read a single review or knowing anything about it. One should try to do that more often because the impact of the surprise translates into pure pleasure and in this case, sometimes, you have to look away from the unmitigated horror. Jeremy Renner is a real find. He is superb. A kind soul, wild man with enough arrogance to make him appear reckless and yet his humanity precedes him. People may commit the mistake of avoiding this gem thinking that it’s just a war film. Don’t. It isn’t. It’s a great, engrossing film about human emotions, not to be missed. “

Did You Know?

During filming, three, four or more hand-held super 16mm cameras were used to film scenes in documentary style. Nearly two hundred hours of footage was shot at an eye-popping 100:1 shooting ratio (a higher ratio of expended film than the notorious Francis Ford Coppola epic, Apocalypse Now (1979)).

James Cameron said this about ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow’s film: “I think this could be the ‘Platoon’ (1986) for the Iraq War.”

Jeremy Renner wore a real bomb suit in the sweltering desert heat without a stunt double.

The crew members were American, Jordanian, Lebanese, English, Irish, German, Moroccan, Danish, Tunisian, South African, Icelandic, Iraqi, Libyan, Circassian, Palestinian, Armenian, Swedish, Australian, and New Zealish.

Nine Nominations

Best Motion Picture
Best Director
Best Actor ~ Jeremy Renner
Best Original Screenplay
Best in Film Editing
Best Cinematography
Best in Music (Original Score)
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing

March 2, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Academy Penalizes Aggressive Campaigner

Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that, should “The Hurt Locker” be announced as the recipient of the Best Picture award at Sunday’s ceremonies, only three of the picture’s producers will be present for the celebration. The fourth of the film’s credited producers, Nicolas Chartier, has been denied attendance at the 82nd Academy Awards® as a penalty for violating Academy campaigning standards.

Chartier had recently disseminated an email to certain Academy voters and other film industry figures in which he solicited votes for his own picture and disparaged one of the other contending films. Academy rules prohibit “casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film.” The executive committee of the Academy’s Producers Branch, at a special session late Monday, ruled that the ethical lapse merited the revocation of Chartier’s invitation to the Awards.

The group stopped short of recommending that the Academy governors rescind Chartier’s nomination. If “The Hurt Locker” were to be selected as Best Picture, Chartier would receive his Oscar® statuette at some point subsequent to the March 7 ceremonies.”

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Shoshana Johnson Pens Her Story In “I’m Still Standing”

Posted by guest contributor: Shanti

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“In March of 2003, when Operation Iraqi Freedom was only days old, world headlines were made when a U.S. army convoy was attacked in the city of An-Nasiriyah en route to Baghdad. Several soldiers were killed and others were taken prisoner.

Jessica Lynch became the face and name associated with this tragedy, but another female soldier, Shoshana Johnson, was also wounded and captured in the ambush. A video of Shoshana being interrogated by her captors was soon broadcast on Spanish-language television and then picked up by American media. Shoshana had become the first black female prisoner of war in United States history. She was held for twenty-two days.

When Shoshana returned to the United States, she received numerous awards for her valor, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Prisoner of War medals. She appeared on news networks and national television shows such as Oprah, Ellen, The Tonight Show, and Larry King Live, but she was bound by a military gag order. She was unable to discuss what really happened in Iraq — until now.

Shoshana holds nothing back in this harrowing account of an ordinary woman caught in an extraordinary circumstance. She reveals decisions made by higher-ups that may have led to the capture, describes the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder, and shares the surprising story of how a specialist in a maintenance company ended up on the front lines of war.

Divulging personal emotions and frustrations while raising fresh political issues, I’m Still Standing is the never-before-told and much anticipated story of the headline-making ambush, capture, and rescue described with the exceptional bravery and candor of a single mom and soldier who became an American hero. Source

CNN’s Larry King Live ~ Transcript of Interview with Shoshana Johnson aired February 2, 2010

KING: We welcome Shoshana Johnson back to LARRY KING LIVE. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken captive March 23, 2003. She was held prisoner 22 days. Author of a terrific new book I’m Still Standing; From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home.”

Before we get into this, what do you make of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell controversy?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Silly. If men and women want to serve in our military, I really don’t care who they want to sleep with. It’s all about serving your country.

KING: So you would repeal it?

JOHNSON: Yes, definitely.

KING: It’s been seven years since you were a POW. Do you think about it a lot?

I'm Still Standing by Shoshana JohnsonJOHNSON: Still. Very much so. The conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is still in the media, so it’s hard to forget.

KING: How were you caught?

JOHNSON: During an ambush, vehicles were disabled. Basically, it seemed like the whole city of Nazariyah came out and participated in the ambush. I was shot and — shot and caught, basically.

Read the entire transcript here
Read a sample chapter

Shoshana Johnson tells her side of the story to Matt Lauer of The Today Show

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Shoshana Johnson actually said she wanted to tell her story, because there were a lot of distortions and half truths about the details of her capture. She wanted to set the record straight. I appreciate Shoshana’s resolve and passion for not only surviving the trauma of being a POW, but her courage and drive to THRIVE.~Shanti

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