February 19, 2024

cillian murphy, emma stone, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
hollywood authentic, bafta dispatch, bafta awards 2024, ee
emma stone, david beckham, carey mulligan, marcus mumford and bradley cooper, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
Emma Stone, David Beckham, Carey Mulligan, Marcus Mumford and Bradley Cooper

Hollywood Authentic hit the red carpet, ceremony and parties at this year’s EE BAFTA awards – join us for a recap on the fun from the South Bank’s Royal Festival Hall.

The festivities kicked off with a proposal at 2pm as an early-arriving guest popped the question and host David Tennant took to the carpet to greet waiting fans as the cars began arriving. It was a family affair for many of the nominees; Emily Blunt, dressed in gold-beaded Elie Saab, arrived with her parents, as did Paul Mescal (plus his siblings) while Christopher Nolan brought along his teen son, Magnus. The red carpet was soon filled with talent taking the opportunity to greet each other and admire the performances that had impressed voters; and in the case of Mescal (rocking Cartier lapel diamonds), get star struck by David Beckham.

Florence Pugh (in Harris Reed with statement Boucheron jewels) embraced Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Bradley Cooper (long-line Louis Vuitton) and Carey Mulligan high-fived, the Chicken Run 2 team carried maquettes of their characters in fowl evening wear while Emma Stone, wearing custom Louis Vuitton, Margot Robbie and Emily Blunt swapped news. As nominees and guests mingled, Hannah Waddington prepared for her mid-show number by dancing to the DJ with Colman Domingo while they waited to be snapped by press photographers. Plum-coloured fits were a theme with Cate Blanchett arriving in burgundy Louis Vuitton, Daisy Edgar-Jones in wine Gucci hotpants, Lashana Lynch embellished in maroon Prada, Josh Hartnett head-to-toe in claret and Ryan Gosling giving his custom Gucci white suit a raspberry trim.

florence pugh, emily blunt, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt

The festive mood continued inside as guests sipped Taittinger over three floors, Gillian Anderson admiring Taylor Russell’s white Loewe gown as attendees found their seats, and Liliput the Maltese terrier getting ready backstage for her show opener with Tennant. He promised the ceremony would be as ‘smooth as Ken’s chest’ and with a back-to-basics plan after last-year’s breakout sofa chats, the gongs were handed out in a brisk running time – including Sophie Ellis Bexter’s barnstorming rendition of ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’ from Saltburn.

Leading the nominations race (with 13), Oppenheimer cleaned up – taking home 7 accolades including best film, director, actor and supporting actor, while Poor Things netted 5 including best actress. Holocaust drama The Zone Of Interest also won big with three category triumphs.

Positioned at the side of stage, Hollywood Authentic founder Greg Williams captured the winners exclusively as they left the spotlight, BAFTA masks in hand. ”The coolest trophy by far!” exclaimed adapted screenplay winner, Cord Jefferson, while EE Rising star winner Mia McKenna-Bruce giddily admitted she was so stunned that had no idea what she’d said in her speech as last year’s recipient Emma McKay fanned her with the award envelope.

cillian murphy, cate blanchett, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
Cillian Murphy and Cate Blanchett 

Putting himself in good stead to win at Oscar, Robert Downey Jr. took home the supporting actor mask for Oppenheimer (but only after signing for it backstage) 31 years after winning for Chaplin, telling the audience “the entirety of my life story in 30 seconds‘’ and that Christopher Nolan had suggested he “attempt an understated approach as a last ditch effort to perhaps resurrect my dwindling credibility” with the role.

He was followed onstage by The Holdovers star Da’Vine Joy Randolph, winning best supporting actress and continuing to dominate this category during awards season. Tears threatened as she praised her co-star Paul Giamatti and reminded viewers that her character in the film served as “a beautiful reminder of how her story has rippled through the world.”

After Samantha Morton received a fellowship award for her decades-long career (feted via video by Tom Cruise), Cillian Murphy continued the Oppenheimer sweep with a Best Actor win presented by last year’s Best Actress winner, Cate Blanchett. Heralding his “Oppen-homies” and the “most dynamic, decent, kindest producer-director partnership in Hollywood” in Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, he waited in the wings to see the outcome of the Best Film category. Before that Emma Stone bagged Best Actress from Idris Elba, keeping the family theme going in her speech by thanking her mom for making her “believe this crazy idea I could do something like this” and also for giving her life. A joke that played well in the auditorium but also backstage when the Oppenheimer team came off for their Best Film win and Emily Blunt told Stone how much she’d enjoyed her speech.

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Emma Stone and Idris Elba
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Chiwetel Ejiofor and Da’Vine Joy Randolph
Robert downey jr., ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
Robert Downey Jr.

While the team embraced and handed the award to each other, Blunt’s proud dad held her handbag and congratulated Waddington on her soulful rendition of “Time After Time” during the in memoriam section. The closing category was particularly memorable for the surprise arrival of presenter Michael J Fox, who was touched to receive a standing ovation. His wife Tracy Pollen waited backstage to congratulate the star on his speech, especially courageous as he continues to struggle with Parkinson’s. As he stood at the podium he enthused; “There’s a reason why they say movies are magic – cos movies can change your day, change your outlook, they can sometimes even change your life”.

Racing to the green room for a celebratory photo, the Oppenheimer team then hit the dinner downstairs as guests at tables decorated to represent the Best Film nominees were served a starter of six root bhaji and roast carrot, a chicken caesar main with triple cooked chips and a toffee chocolate dessert with vanilla mascarpone and a tiny chocolate BAFTA mask. As glasses clinked, Ayo Edebiri and Emma Corrin chatted on the stars, Hannah Waddington and Michael Sheen caught up at a table as Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal had a Normal People reunion. Stone changed into a monochrome dress with candy-stripe shoulders for her dinner and she wasn’t the only one swapping looks as the parties kicked off across town.

Florence Pugh slipped into David Koma white lace to take in the Universal celebration party for Oppenheimer at the Nomad Hotel in Covent Garden before stopping by the British Vogue and Tiffany afterparty at Annabel’s alongside her co-star Robert Downey Jr., who’d changed his formal black shirt for a Sex Pistols t-shirt. Also in attendance were Anna Wintour (in trademark sunglasses), Dua Lipa, Anya Taylor Joy, Emily Blunt, Rosamund Pike, Clare Foy, Sophie Ellis Bexter, Andrew Scott, Idris Elba, Da’vine Joy Randolph and Emerald Fennell.

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Michael J. Fox
paul mescal, andrew scott, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott
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Emma Corrin and Holly Waddington
jack o'connell, mia mckenna-bruce, emma mackey, ee bafta film awards, greg williams, hollywood authentic
Jack O’Connell, Mia Mckenna-Bruce and Emma Mackey

The celebrations continued at the now-legendary Netflix party at The Chiltern Firehouse where Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott (in red Berluti) continued their awards season bromance, Hannah Waddington and Sophie Ellis Bexter swapped performance notes and Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper hung out. They were joined by a who’s who from cinema, including Phoebe Dynevor, J.A. Bayona, Idris Elba, Regé-Jean Page, Teo Yoo, Rosamund Pike, Callum Turner, Archie Madekwe, Lily James and Keegan-Michael Key (still heroically wearing a pristine tux). The merriment went on long into small hours…

WINNERS:

Best Film – Oppenheimer

Outstanding British Film – The Zone Of Interest

Best Director – Christopher Nolan

Outstanding Debut By By British Writer, Director Or Producer – Earth Mama

Film Not In The English Language – The Zone Of Interest

Best Documentary – 20 Days In Mariupol

Best Animated Film – The Boy And The Heron

Best Original Screenplay – Anatomy Of A Fall

Best Adapted Screenplay – American Fiction

Best Leading Actress – Emma Stone

Best Leading Actor – Cillian Murphy

Best Supporting Actress – Da’Vine Joy Randolph

Best Supporting Actor – Robert Downey Jr

Best Casting – The Holdovers

Best Cinematography – Oppenheimer

Best Editing – Oppenheimer

Best Costume – Poor Things

Best Original Score – Oppenheimer

Best Production Design – Poor Things

Best Sound – The Zone Of Interest

Best Visual Effects – Poor Things

Best British Short Film – Jellyfish And Lobster

EE Rising Star – Mia McKenna-Bruce


Words by Jane Crowther
Photographs by Greg Williams

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emma stone, poor things, golden globes, golden globe awards 2024, 81st golden globe awards

Hollywood Authentic reports from inside the 81st Golden Globes, Los Angeles, where Greg Williams was given unprecedented access. Here we report on the evening’s highlights.

There was a sense of occasion, drama and buzz inside the Beverly Hilton’s ballroom as the movie industry elite, fuelled by Moët et Chandon and sushi by Nobu Matsuhisa, attended the first big bash of the year: the 81st Golden Globes.

Oppenheimer was the big winner of the evening – Best Motion Picture, Drama, Best Director, Drama (Christopher Nolan), Best Performance by a Male Actor, Drama (Cillian Murphy), and Best Actor in Supporting Role, Drama  (Robert Downey Jr). It also had some of the best acceptance speeches. Cillian Murphy summed up the Oppenheimer experience when he said: “I knew the first time I walked on a Christopher Nolan set that it was different. I could tell by the level of rigour, the level of focus, the level of dedication, the complete lack of any seating options for actors…that I was in the hands of the visionary director and master. I want to thank Chris and Emma for having the faith in me for 20 years. Thanks so much. One of the most beautiful and vulnerable things about being an actor is that you can‘t do it on your own, really.”

Downey Jr, meanwhile, had a different approach, for his acceptance speech: “Yeah, yeah. I took a beta blocker, so this is going to be a breeze.”

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, went to Emma Stone for her extraordinary performance in Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. After accepting her award, Stone said: “I think this is a rom-com. I see this as a rom-com, but in the sense that Bella falls in love with life itself, rather than a person, and she accepts the good and the bad in equal measure, and that really made me look at life differently.”

Stone, who received a standing ovation when she accepted her Golden Globe, offered a close-up of the award backstage. Dressed in Louis Vuitton, Emma celebrated with Yorgos and and co-star Willem Dafoe as the movie also won the award for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy.

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Lily Gladstone

The evening also saw Lily Gladstone accept the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor, Drama, for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. Gladstone (Blackfeet/Nimíipuu) is the first Indigenous person to take home a Golden Globe. “This is a historic one, and it doesn’t belong to just me,” she said, after opening her acceptance speech speaking in the Blackfeet language. “I’m holding it with all of my beautiful sisters in the film and my mother, Tantoo Cardinal.”

Offstage, Timothée Chalamet (nominated for Wonka, and dressed  in Celine) was there with his date Kylie Jenner, and Robert Downey Jr. Also a jubilant Margot Robbie (in Armani Privee), America Ferreira (Dolce e Gabbana) and Barbie director Greta Gerwig were photographed fresh from collecting their gong for Cinematic & Box Office Achievement. Robbie, who accepted the award, captured the spirit of the evening when she said: “Thank you so much to the Golden Globes for creating an award that celebrates movie fans. This is a movie about Barbie, but it’s also a movie about humans. We made it – it’s about you. We made it for you, and we made it with love. Thank you for loving it back.”

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Timothée Chalamet, Kylie Jenner and Robert Downey Jr.
america ferrera, greta gerwig, margot robbie, barbie, golden globes, golden globe awards 2024, 81st golden globe awards
America Ferreira, Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie

Equally thrilled were members of the Oppenheimer crew: Florence Pugh (in Valentino), Matt Damon and Christopher Nolan.

Elsewhere Joaquin Phoenix was spotted seated at his table, and earlier with the Beau Is Afraid director/writer Ari Aster; as was Will Ferrell entertaining Dua Lipa and Jodie Foster; Billie Eilish, who won best original song (along with her brother Finneas O’Connell) for Barbie’s What Was I Made For?; nominees Meryl Streep and Ryan Gosling; Florence Pugh with Selena Gomez (in Armani Privee); Dua Lipa at her table wearing a gown by Balenciaga with jewellery by Tiffany & Co; long-time collaborators Ben Affleck and Matt Damon; and Danielle Brooks, nominated for The Color Purple, wearing Moschino.

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Florence Pugh, Matt Damon and Christopher Nolan
ben affleck, matt damon, golden globes, golden globe awards 2024, 81st golden globe awards
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
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Danielle Brooks
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Joaquin Phoenix and Ari Aster

And, of course, the night didn’t finish at the Beverly Hilton. The celebrations continued at various locations across town.

The winners in the television category were dominated by The Bear and Beef – both shows received three awards – as well as Succession, which won four: Best Television Series, Drama; Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Series, Drama, for Sarah Snook; Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Series, Drama, for Kieran Culkin, and Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role on Television for Matthew Macfadyen.

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Ayo Edebiri
the cast of succession, golden globes, golden globe awards 2024, 81st golden globe awards
The cast of Succession
matthew macfadyen, succession, golden globes, golden globe awards 2024, 81st golden globe awards
Matthew Macfadyen

The latter also had one of the our favourite acceptance speech lines: “I just adored every second playing the weird and wonderful human grease stain that is Tom Wambsgans. Tom Wambsgans, CEO, I should say. God help us.” 

And god help all those who had to get up early this morning. 

WINNERS: MOVIES

Best Motion Picture – Drama: Oppenheimer

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Poor Things


Cinematic and Box Office Achievement: Barbie


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama: Lily Gladstone – Killers Of The Flower Moon


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama: Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Emma Stone – Poor Things


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Paul Giamatti – The Holdovers


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Da’Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Robert Downey Jr. – Oppenheimer


Best Original Song – Motion Picture: What Was I Made For?Barbie – Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell

WINNERS: TELEVISION

Best Television Series – Drama: Succession

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy: The Bear


Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: Beef


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Sarah Snook – Succession


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Kieran Culkin – Succession


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Ayo Edebiri – The Bear


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Jeremy Allen White – The Bear


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television: Ali Wong – Beef


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television: Steven Yeun – Beef


Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role on Television: Elizabeth Debicki – The Crown


Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role on Television: Matthew Macfadyen – Succession


Photographs by Greg Williams

January 6, 2024

ava duvernay, origin, selma, venice film festival, director
ava duvernay, hollywood authentic, cover, origin, selma, venice film festival, director

Ava DuVernay didn’t start directing until she was 32. But she’s barely stopped since. Now, as her Oscar-tipped Origin hits cinemas, the film publicist turned filmmaker has an unstoppable momentum.

Ava DuVernay films make history. She was the first Black woman to direct a movie nominated for a Best Picture Oscar with her Martin Luther King Jr. feature film Selma (2014). Three years later, she became the first Black woman nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar with 13th, an extraordinary film that explores the links between slavery and the criminal justice system in the US. And now there is Origin, her affecting adaptation of the Isabel Wilkerson book Caste, which examines how a “dominant caste” might undermine a “subordinate caste”. Critically praised at film festivals in both Toronto and Venice (where DuVernay became the first Black woman to compete in the Italian festival’s 91-year history), it is likely to be a fixture of awards season.

ava duvernay, origin, selma, venice film festival, director

I’m interested in your earliest memories of film or going to the cinema. 
Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of taking the bus to my local movie theatre here in Los Angeles, with my late Aunt Denise, who was an avid lover of film. I wasn’t exposed to foreign or independent films as a young person, rather a steady stream of studio films released in the late ’70s and early ’80s. 

When did you realise you wanted to tell stories via feature films and documentaries? 
When I look back, I can see that I was interested in news stories. I thought that would be my way in. I became a film publicist and pitched stories about movies. I thought it was the best job ever because it allowed me to have proximity to films; I was on set and around film makers all the time. However, I didn’t think I could make my own films until I was in my early 30s. 

Were you waiting for permission to pick up a camera or write a script?
That’s a great question, but it just wasn’t on my radar as something I could do. I loved the John Hughes movies – The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles – but there were no Black people in those films. One of my favourite films growing up was Grease, but there weren’t any Black people at John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s school. Ultimately it was less about permission than possibility. 

I assume the pivot from publicity to filmmaking required sacrifices?
I sold my house. I gave away all my clients to other publicists. I had to really wrap my mind around being an independent filmmaker with not a lot of money. I’ve never really talked about this either! But yes, I had to make both practical and emotional sacrifices. 

ava duvernay, hollywood authentic, cover, origin, selma, venice film festival, director
 

I sold my house. I gave away all my clients to other publicists. I had to really wrap my mind around being an independent filmmaker with not a lot of money. I’ve never really talked about this either! But yes, I had to make both practical and emotional sacrifices

Is it important for you to direct, write and produce where possible, to allow you to assume control of the films or documentaries you make?
I’m very much at a crossroads. I wrote, directed and produced my early work with one producing partner. And then I did Selma, Wrinkle in Time and When They See Us with other powerful producers. Good people, but without the familial aspect. I wanted to make Origin, which had a much bigger budget, with just one producer. I wrote, directed and produced it. It’s gonna take a lot to make me go back to working with a bunch of producers. I’m much happier being the true author of the work, even if it means having smaller budgets. 

Your feature films and documentaries may be historical, but they have a habit of reflecting contemporary times? 
I know! With 13th, Trump was running and his rhetoric dovetailed with the historical rhetoric we were exploring. In Selma, we made a film about a small Black town that was fighting for its rights in 1965, and that same year there was civil unrest in Ferguson [after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a local police officer]. And now, with Origin… well, I can’t believe what’s going on in the world in terms of the human hierarchy. So there’s been this slightly eerie connection that my films have with current events. 

The best people have witchy qualities, right?
[laughs] Exactly! I thank you. I love it!

Were you pleased with audience and critic responses to Origin? And, of course, the standing ovation at Venice? 
Thrilled! I was really happy with the reviews. The majority of folk are coming out of the cinema very emotionally affected, which is the goal. Before the film screened in Venice, I said to myself, ‘Please get a four-minute ovation because three minutes is embarrassing.’ I don’t often watch my own films, but Venice kind of keeps you captive so I had to go through it. I could hear people sniffing and sighing, glasses coming off, tears being wiped, laughter. But I did not expect a nine-minute standing ovation. I didn’t know what to do. Stand? Sit? It was rough. My smile started to hurt. I didn’t know where to look, so I turned away and started walking up the stairs. My publicist tried to make me stay! But it was a glorious experience. 

Would you say that empathy is the common denominator in your work? 
That’s what I’m trying to evoke, for sure. That’s the exact word. A sense of dignity that only comes when you have empathy for someone who’s not like you. I’ve been very focused on amplifying the experience of Black people in the United States, but Origin pushed me to broaden that lens. I really looked at the commonalities and challenges that people have across continents and time. Creating images about people who aren’t primarily Black was exhilarating. You know, we shot the film on three continents in 37 days. We shot in the square in Berlin where the Nazis burned books. I stood there as a Black American woman in the same place that Goebbels stood and denounced humans who looked like me and otherwise. 

ava duvernay, origin, selma, venice film festival, director

What do you think is your superpower as a filmmaker?
I really like talking to people, which probably comes from my time as a film publicist. I have no issue talking to cast or the crew. I have no fear of saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t like that’. There was a lot of technical stuff I didn’t know when I started, but being a publicist, which was all about pitching the story, was my film school. It all worked out.

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
When I started making films, I always had another project lined up in case they tried to kick me out. But now, for the very first time, I don’t have another project lined up. And I love it! I’ve earned it, I can take the time out. I’ve made so much stuff in the past 10 years that I’m fine to slow down. So, oddly enough, this is the first time I’ve ever said, ‘I do not know what I’m doing next.’ 


Origin will be released in 2023 date TBC
Special thanks to Jill Demling and Meredith O’Sullivan

1. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

George Bailey, a building society manager, played by James Stewart in Frank Capra’s Christmas staple, spends his life ensuring that the corrupt baron Henry F. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) cannot take over the American town of Bedford Falls. But when some money goes missing and Bailey realises the town might fall to mean Mr Potter, he considers suicide. At which point an angel shows him what the place would be without him. Pretty grim, it turns out, and renamed Pottersville, with the friendly bar a crude honky tonk dive, the townsfolk now villainous. Contrarians have argued in favour of the fun, socially ambitious Pottersville and dubbed Capra’s Bedford Falls a “communitarian dreamland”. However, most agree with Capra’s sentiment: small is beautiful and one person can change the world.

2. THE BISHOPS WIFE (1947)

Another visitation from an angel – this time Cary Grant’s Dudley, who comes to earth to help Bishop Brougham (David Niven) who, while attempting to extract money for a new cathedral from a wealthy widow, feels his calling draining away. Dudley is charming, debonair and popular, but the bishop doesn’t trust him and suspects he has his heavenly eyes on his job. As Dudley gains traction (not least with the bishop’s wife Julia, played by Loretta Young), the bishop begins to question heaven. Originally, Niven was to play the angel and Grant the bishop until the director Henry Coster convinced them to swap. It’s one of Grant’s strongest roles and Niven’s bishop is a Christmas miracle.

3. THE APARTMENT (1960)

All we want for Christmas is an exquisite seasonal Billy Wilder screwball comedy. CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lends out his Upper West Side apartment to executives at his company – and their lady friends – in an increasingly complicated rota set up to ensure his own career promotion. When he falls for Fran Kubelik, the elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine with a fashion forward elfin cut), he has skin in the game. And when he learns she has had a thing with his boss and that boss wants to bring Fran to Baxter’s own bachelor pad, things become complicated. Wilder and IAL Diamond’s script is one of the best ever with exchanges such as:

CC Baxter: ‘The mirror… it’s broken…’
Fran Kubelik: ‘Yes I know, makes me look the way I feel.’

It’s set on December 25 and the story’s timeline runs to New Year’s Eve, making it one of the best Christmas and New Year’s Eve movies.

4. PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987)

This holiday perennial, starring Steve Martin and John Candy, is likely to tickle the most curmudgeonly house guest. Neal, a marketing executive (Martin), and Del, a shower curtain ring salesman (Candy), are forced together when their flight from New York to Chicago is diverted. So begins a mission to overcome their blighted travel plans and their own idiosyncrasies and get home for Neal’s Thanksgiving dinner with his family. The plot was based on a real incident when writer-director John Hughes was an advertising copywriter and, trying to return to Chicago for the holiday, had a five-day delay ending up in Phoenix, Arizona via Wichita, Kansas. The film was a risk for Hughes who had become famous as the king of the teen movie (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), not comedies about adults and travel chaos. Yet as with It’s a Wonderful Life – not a huge success on its release – it has become a festive favourite, even if it’s probably not, strictly-speaking, a Christmas movie.

5. DIE HARD (1988)

Talking of which, of course this is a Christmas movie. Don’t we all celebrate this happy season by walking over broken glass in our bare feet while wearing a bloodied vest? Bruce Willis’s NYPD Detective John McClane lands in LA to win back his wife, a big shot at a company housed in the Nakatomi Plaza that’s under terrorist attack by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman, sneering for Britain) and his machine gun-wielding cronies. Gruber has taken the staff hostage during a festive party. McClane must save his wife Holly, her colleagues and Christmas. It’s the perfect action movie but what could have been a pure high octane shoot ‘em up is given a throbbing heart by the relationship between McClane and Reginald VelJohnson’s doughnut-buying cop with his own redemption story.

6. HOME ALONE (1990)

It’s a premise with lasting appeal. A big noisy American family leaves for a Christmas holiday in Paris. It’s only when the plane has taken off that the mother Kate, played with panto precision by Catherine O’Hara, realises that they have left behind their youngest son, Macaulay Culkin’s eight-year-old Kevin, in their large, otherwise empty home. A pre-cell phone era and a plot-convenient problem with the landline means they can’t reach him. Then bad weather makes the mother’s journey back long and complicated (in 1990, movie dads didn’t sweat it when their kids were alone on another continent). Meanwhile, Kevin, after treating himself to fast food and violent TV, has to navigate his brother’s pet tarantula and set up increasingly elaborate booby traps to defeat Joe Pesci’s dastardly burglar. Holy cow, as Kevin says, it’s still the best.

7. LITTLE WOMEN (1994)

If you can’t be sentimental at Christmas… Gillian Armstrong’s nineties’ version of Louisa May Alcott’s semi-biographical novel, set in 1860s Massachusetts during the civil war, is casting perfection. Not even a magnetic Saoirse Ronan in Greta Gerwig’s game 2019 adaptation, can trump Winona Ryder as fiery Jo March. Throw in a lovelorn Christian Bale as Laurie, Susan Sarandon as a firm, fair and furious Marmee and Kirsten Dunst’s blissfully infuriating Amy and you have the acting equivalent of a supergroup.

The scene to, well, die for, is when Beth (Clare Danes, a magnificent invalid) briefly recovers from scarlet fever to stumble down the stairs and lead the family on the piano in a singalong of Deck the Halls. We know, or can sense, what’s coming, which makes this festive moment as bittersweet as a sharp, cranberry sauce.

8. ELF (2003)

It takes Will Ferrell, playing Buddy, a human who, at first, thinks he’s an elf, to make the jaded folk in the real world rediscover the wonder of Christmas – and life itself. The on the nose slapstick is too much for some and the relationship between Buddy’s outsized festive helper in yellow tights and his store girl love interest Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) can feel a little creepy in 2023, but it’s impossible not to submit. ‘Tis the season to put your cynicism aside and enjoy Buddy’s naive joy at the wonders of the modern world, compared to his childhood with Santa in Lapland, as he brings round his steely publishing executive father Walter (James Caan) and teaches him how to love and enjoy his family.

9. BAD SANTA (2003)

If Elf is too sugary for you, this sour old story, released in the same year, should do the trick. Who else but Billy Bob Thornton to play a sweary Santa who robs and has casual sex, eventually coming to the attention of the mall boss who brings in security. Our hopes of a Damascene moment for this very bad Father Christmas – he meets a sweet, believing boy who lives with his senile grandmother – are short lived. Thornton puts in the performance of his career, helped along by the sort of out of control darkness that you might expect of a Christmas film touched by the Coen Brothers, its executive producers.

10. KLAUS (2019)

This animated Santa origin story won a BAFTA in 2020 as the Spanish debut director Sergio Pablos ditched the traditional tale of St Nicholas for that of a reclusive Norwegian toymaker named Klaus (voiced by JK Simmons). Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a lazy postman, is placed in Smensburg, an island above the Arctic Circle whose inhabitants barely talk to each other, let alone exchange letters. Jesper is exasperated until he meets Alva, a teacher, and Klaus. As they become friends the traditions of Christmas are formed as letters are penned, neighbours discover their generosity and stockings are hung up by the chimney. Now, add to that list: “watching Klaus each year”.

Written by Alex O’Connell, Arts Editor of The Times

December 6, 2023

jack huston, day of the fight, venice film festival

How important is a little bit of nonsense now and then to you?
A life without nonsense is no life at all. It’s what keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously, one needs a daily dose to keep us sane.

What, if anything, makes you believe in magic?
I think the profundity of our mere existence is magic, so therefore everything in our lives should be considered exactly that.

What was your last act of true cowardice?
Discovering a nest of brown widow spiders under a chair in our garden, and having my wife dispose of them as I ran away shrieking.

What single thing do you miss most when you’re away from home?
My children, without question. It’s one of the hardest things about having to travel so often. Whenever I’m away from them, it feels like a piece of me is missing.

Do you have any odd habits or rituals?
I find it very difficult to function if I can’t submerge myself in water at least once a day. Be it a bath, pool, ocean, lake, anything really, as long as I can hold my head underwater for a moment. There’s something incredibly levelling about being in and under the water.

What is your party trick?
Nowadays, just showing up counts as a party trick. I find it gets harder and harder to leave the house with each passing year.

What is your mantra?
To be grateful. Every day, no matter what, there are countless things in our life to be grateful for. In the same way, I often lean on the old adage “sleep on it”, a mantra in itself.

What is your favourite smell?
The smell of flowering jasmine is pretty extraordinary, but a Christmas tree would be my absolute favourite, not only for its smell but for all the feelings and memories it helps to conjure.

What do you always carry with you?
A healthy dose of scepticism, optimism and gut instinct.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Far too many of them to feel guilty anymore.

Who is the silliest person you know?
My Uncle Danny, and he’d probably say the same for me. Our time spent together is always filled with laughter and silliness. It’s why we are so close.

What would be your least favourite way to die?
Young (if I’m still allowed to call myself that). I want to spend as much time as humanly possible with the ones I love. I want to see my kids grow up, meet my grandkids and even great-grandkids, if I were to be so lucky.

Day of the Fight, which Jack Huston directed, wrote and produced, is a black-and-white feature in part inspired by Kubrick’s first short film of the same name. With a stellar cast – Michael Pitt, Joe Pesci, Steve Buscemi and Ron Perlman – there’s even a small part for Jack’s young son, continuing the family tradition as the fifth generation of Hustons in cinema.


*Arguably one of the most memorable (and quotable) scenes in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is when Mr Salt mumbles, ‘It’s a lot of nonsense,’ to which Wonka replies, in a sing-song voice, ‘A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.’

November 24, 2023

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta

Paolo Sorrentino, director of an as yet untitled love letter to his native city, heads back to Naples.

I have photographed Paolo Sorrentino a number of times over the past five years, getting to know him better as his awards campaign for The Hand of God ramped up from Venice through to the Oscars. But I truly connected with him when he was kind enough to request me to do the print element of a Dolce & Gabbana fragrance campaign he was directing, starring Katy Perry, in Capri last summer.

So when I got a call this August from Paolo saying, ‘I’m shooting this feature film, would you like to come and visit the set in Capri?’, I jumped at the opportunity. I said I’d volunteer my services if they’d put me up in my favourite hotel!

I journeyed from the Venice Film Festival to Capri, accompanied by Paolo’s wife Daniela D’Antonio, the most lovely, warm person. I had very little information about the project, apart from what I had read in Paolo’s director’s statement where he talked in typically poetic terms of a film about ‘youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering… endings, and new beginnings.’

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Celeste Dalla Porta and Gary Oldman

[Paolo] talked in typically poetic terms of… ‘youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering… endings, and new beginnings’

The gateway to what would turn out to be Paolo’s world was Naples itself, his hometown and the location for much of the film. Naples is also where Daniela was brought up – she explained that she came from ‘the very rough side’, and the city is a paradox, both dangerous in some parts and incredibly cultured in others. Driving from the airport, Naples feels exciting and absolutely authentically itself. It’s not like anywhere else in Italy; an entirely unique place; its own country nearly. And it explains a lot about Paolo’s vision, which is deeply suffused in romance and myth. In fact, in his director’s statement Paolo says the film’s action is ‘accompanied… by Naples, who charms and enchants…and who knows just how to hurt you.’

So we boarded a boat to Capri. In its centre you have to walk everywhere, so the journey to the set from the hotel was a leisurely 25-minute stroll. And unlike most film sets, it was incredibly relaxed. In part, this is because as the roads are four feet wide there isn’t the usual circus of trucks parked at the location. Everything was carried in.

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Daniele Rienzo, Celeste Dalla Porta and Dario Aita

The place was just so calm. I don’t mean to suggest that people were not working hard, more that you got the feeling that everybody involved was doing what they were born to do. Paolo was incredibly warm, greeting me as a friend and saying, ‘Do whatever you want, just don’t walk in front of
my camera.’

Another treat was to see my friends Gary Oldman and his wife Gisele Schmidt. Their interest in photography has brought us close in recent years, so I couldn’t have felt more at home. 

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Gary Oldman

The first day we were shooting in a beautiful house absolutely steeped in history. Apparently Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby there and it has been a place where many renowned artists lived and worked. I found myself sat on the terrace looking over at the famous Faraglioni rocks – one of which has the distinctive hole in it – sipping gin and tonics and hearing about the history of the house from its graceful owners and feeling like a house guest.

Then over the following days we moved on to doing night shoots, and during the day we’d rent a boat and go riding round the island. At one time I took Celeste Dalla Porta, who plays the lead, and shot her underwater.

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Celeste Dalla Porta

When I think of my time on the set there is one image that I always return to. It was at the beginning of the first night shoot, and there is Paolo, deep in thought, everyone giving him space. He’s walking around, blocking the scene in his mind, a glass of red wine in one hand and a cigar in the other. We are about to start work and have just enjoyed the set catering, which here in Capri is a 15-minute walk down the mountain to a great three-course dinner at a waterside restaurant with unforgettable views.

This is not how things are usually done in cinema nowadays. It was a flashback to another era of filmmaking and to me felt deeply romantic, timeless and nostalgic.


Photographs and words by Greg Williams
The feature is a Fremantle film produced by Lorenzo Mieli for The Apartment Pictures, a Fremantle company; Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent; Paolo Sorrentino for Numero 10 and Ardavan Safaee for Pathé. Starring, in alphabetical order, Celeste Dalla Porta, Silvia Degrandi, Isabella Ferrari, Lorenzo Gleijeses, Biagio Izzo, Peppe Lanzetta, Nello Mascia, Gary Oldman, Silvio Orlando, Luisa Ranieri, Stefania Sandrelli and Alfonso Santagata. Starring, in alphabetical order, Celeste Dalla Porta, Silvia Degrandi, Isabella Ferrari, Lorenzo Gleijeses, Biagio Izzo, Peppe Lanzetta, Nello Mascia, Gary Oldman, Silvio Orlando, Luisa Ranieri, Stefania Sandrelli and Alfonso Santagata.

hollywood authentic, greg williams, hollywood authentic magazine

November 24, 2023

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta

Paolo Sorrentino, director of an as yet untitled love letter to his native city, heads back to Naples.

I have photographed Paolo Sorrentino a number of times over the past five years, getting to know him better as his awards campaign for The Hand of God ramped up from Venice through to the Oscars. But I truly connected with him when he was kind enough to request me to do the print element of a Dolce & Gabbana fragrance campaign he was directing, starring Katy Perry, in Capri last summer.

So when I got a call this August from Paolo saying, ‘I’m shooting this feature film, would you like to come and visit the set in Capri?’, I jumped at the opportunity. I said I’d volunteer my services if they’d put me up in my favourite hotel!

I journeyed from the Venice Film Festival to Capri, accompanied by Paolo’s wife Daniela D’Antonio, the most lovely, warm person. I had very little information about the project, apart from what I had read in Paolo’s director’s statement where he talked in typically poetic terms of a film about ‘youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering… endings, and new beginnings.’

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Celeste Dalla Porta and Gary Oldman

[Paolo] talked in typically poetic terms of… ‘youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering… endings, and new beginnings’

The gateway to what would turn out to be Paolo’s world was Naples itself, his hometown and the location for much of the film. Naples is also where Daniela was brought up – she explained that she came from ‘the very rough side’, and the city is a paradox, both dangerous in some parts and incredibly cultured in others. Driving from the airport, Naples feels exciting and absolutely authentically itself. It’s not like anywhere else in Italy; an entirely unique place; its own country nearly. And it explains a lot about Paolo’s vision, which is deeply suffused in romance and myth. In fact, in his director’s statement Paolo says the film’s action is ‘accompanied… by Naples, who charms and enchants…and who knows just how to hurt you.’

So we boarded a boat to Capri. In its centre you have to walk everywhere, so the journey to the set from the hotel was a leisurely 25-minute stroll. And unlike most film sets, it was incredibly relaxed. In part, this is because as the roads are four feet wide there isn’t the usual circus of trucks parked at the location. Everything was carried in.

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Daniele Rienzo, Celeste Dalla Porta and Dario Aita

The place was just so calm. I don’t mean to suggest that people were not working hard, more that you got the feeling that everybody involved was doing what they were born to do. Paolo was incredibly warm, greeting me as a friend and saying, ‘Do whatever you want, just don’t walk in front of
my camera.’

Another treat was to see my friends Gary Oldman and his wife Gisele Schmidt. Their interest in photography has brought us close in recent years, so I couldn’t have felt more at home. 

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Gary Oldman

The first day we were shooting in a beautiful house absolutely steeped in history. Apparently Fitzgerald finished The Great Gatsby there and it has been a place where many renowned artists lived and worked. I found myself sat on the terrace looking over at the famous Faraglioni rocks – one of which has the distinctive hole in it – sipping gin and tonics and hearing about the history of the house from its graceful owners and feeling like a house guest.

Then over the following days we moved on to doing night shoots, and during the day we’d rent a boat and go riding round the island. At one time I took Celeste Dalla Porta, who plays the lead, and shot her underwater.

paolo sorrentino, the hand of god, gary oldman, celeste dalla porta
Celeste Dalla Porta

When I think of my time on the set there is one image that I always return to. It was at the beginning of the first night shoot, and there is Paolo, deep in thought, everyone giving him space. He’s walking around, blocking the scene in his mind, a glass of red wine in one hand and a cigar in the other. We are about to start work and have just enjoyed the set catering, which here in Capri is a 15-minute walk down the mountain to a great three-course dinner at a waterside restaurant with unforgettable views.

This is not how things are usually done in cinema nowadays. It was a flashback to another era of filmmaking and to me felt deeply romantic, timeless and nostalgic.


Photographs and words by Greg Williams
The feature is a Fremantle film produced by Lorenzo Mieli for The Apartment Pictures, a Fremantle company; Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent; Paolo Sorrentino for Numero 10 and Ardavan Safaee for Pathé. Starring, in alphabetical order, Celeste Dalla Porta, Silvia Degrandi, Isabella Ferrari, Lorenzo Gleijeses, Biagio Izzo, Peppe Lanzetta, Nello Mascia, Gary Oldman, Silvio Orlando, Luisa Ranieri, Stefania Sandrelli and Alfonso Santagata. Starring, in alphabetical order, Celeste Dalla Porta, Silvia Degrandi, Isabella Ferrari, Lorenzo Gleijeses, Biagio Izzo, Peppe Lanzetta, Nello Mascia, Gary Oldman, Silvio Orlando, Luisa Ranieri, Stefania Sandrelli and Alfonso Santagata.

hollywood authentic, greg williams, hollywood authentic magazine

November 22, 2023

austin butler, the bikeriders, hollywood authentic, cover, issue 4, greg williams, greg williams photography

You are looking at Hollywood Authentic, a project that is very dear to my heart, and one that has been gestating for the past 20 years.

Over that time I have developed a particular approach to my shoots, aiming to give people an insider’s perspective and the sense of an authentic, first-person interaction with my subjects.

There is a precedent here: back in the day, movie stars would allow photographers and writers into their world. A magazine like Life, in a window that spanned the 40 years from the ‘30s to the ‘70s, would regularly publish intimate profiles of the actors of the day. This type of journalism gave us so many of the iconic images we remember. And brought the magic of the dream factory to a wider audience.

hollywood authentic, issues 1-3, issue 1, issue 2, issue 3, greg williams

That’s what Hollywood Authentic is all about. It’s a love letter to the movie industry – and not only the one based in California. Our aim is to make you feel that you are breathing the same air as the artists.

The method, whether I’m on set or in someone’s house, is the same. Put them at their ease. No team, just my camera and video camera…

greg williams signature

Greg Williams, Founder, Hollywood Authentic

hollywood authentic, greg williams, hollywood authentic magazine

When we launched Hollywood Authentic last year we had a simple ambition: to revive the type of Hollywood coverage found in vintage copies of Life, Look and Picture Post – the time when photographers were tasked with capturing the more intimate side of Hollywood.

Work that repeatedly caught my eye was Dennis Stock’s shots of James Dean. I first saw the photos aged 12 when my father bought me the In Our Time Magnum Photographers book. Stock took James Dean to the farm where he grew up and the Winslow family who raised him after Dean’s mother died. This device of taking an artist to the psychological and physical comfort zone of their childhood produced some amazing pictures, revealing and intimate. Back home in Fairmount, Indiana, the movie star dressed down in work clothes and hung out with the locals (both human and livestock) and played his bongos beneath a glum February sky. The personality became a person to the viewer.

greg williams, austin butler, the bikeriders, hollywood authentic, issue 4, old school
Creator/Instagram

Linking James Dean with Austin Butler, the cover star of this issue, is not simply a lazy way of juxtaposing two actors who share striking good looks and charisma by the yard. ‘James Dean was the actor I obsessed over as a kid,’ Austin told me. He acknowledges they shared the pain of the early loss of a beloved mother. So, when I suggested a return to Anaheim, where he spent his formative years, I knew it was always going to be a bitter-sweet experience. Driving down in his two-seater 1970s Alfa Romeo we met his teachers at his primary school and visited his childhood home. Neither of which he’d been to in 20 years. I also filmed the experience. Please take the time to watch the 20-minute video online. This particular story has really cemented in my mind what I want Hollywood Authentic to do at its apex – look at an artist’s origin story to better understand their creative process.

This cover story for issue four of the magazine is exactly what Hollywood Authentic is all about. And the experience also has had an effect on its future. We’ve decided that with such unique access we should dedicate as many pages as are necessary to bring these moments to life. From now, Hollywood Authentic will run to more pages (twice the previous page count and on a much better paper stock), so that it can take you deeper behind the curtain and give you the best insight into the world of entertainment and its artists.

We also join Paolo Sorrentino for a first look from the set of his as yet untitled film in Capri. We meet Ava DuVernay in Venice, join the Clooneys at their Albie Awards in NYC and discuss “A Little Nonsense” with Jack Huston.

greg williams signature

Greg Williams, Founder, Hollywood Authentic

hollywood authentic, greg williams, hollywood authentic magazine

November 22, 2023

austin butler, hollywood authentic, greg williams, masters of the air, dune: part two

Austin Butler drives Greg Williams back home.