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LOS ANGELES (AP) \u2014 Ahead of Sunday's 89th Academy Awards, Associated Press film writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle share their predictions for a ceremony many expect will be a \"La La Land\" sweep.

BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: \"Arrival,\" ''Fences,\" ''Hacksaw Ridge,\" ''Hell or High Water,\" ''Hidden Figures,\" ''La La Land,\" ''Lion,\" ''Manchester by the Sea\" and \"Moonlight.\"

BAHR:

Will Win: It has to be \"La La Land.\"

Should Win: \"La La Land,\" although that's not the stylish choice of the moment. I think we've all been burned too many times, by \"The Artist\" and \"Argo\" and other films that lure us in with their retro, navel gazing sensibilities and then evaporate from our memories come March 1. \"La La Land\" is different. It'll be a modern classic that we'll be watching for years to come.

Should Have Been a Contender: Mike Mills' \"20th Century Women\" is a film that gets better with every viewing. It is deep and funny and gives a poignant historical context of the lives of women in the very recent past.

COYLE:

Will Win: It would be idiotic to pick against \"La La Land,\" the 14-time nominated favorite and Golden Globe winner. And, yet, I can't help myself. The election of Donald Trump changed the mood so drastically in Hollywood that I just don't see Chazelle's effervescent musical waltzing off with best picture. \"Moonlight,\" lyrical and poetic, isn't a social issue film. But it feels more of-the-moment. Maybe it pulls off one of the most historic upsets in Oscar history. Just don't bet the house.

Should Win: \"Moonlight,\" but not because of the post-election angst. Because it's beautiful.

Should Have Been a Contender: It had zero shot, but Terence Davies' \"Sunset Song\" was a pastoral hymn of a movie: a radiant portrait of Scottish farm life and time passing over it. Yeah, so not exactly Oscar bait.

___

BEST ACTOR

The Nominees: Casey Affleck, \"Manchester by the Sea\"; Andrew Garfield, \"Hacksaw Ridge\"; Ryan Gosling, \"La La Land\"; Viggo Mortensen, \"Captain Fantastic\" and Denzel Washington, \"Fences.\"

BAHR:

Will Win: It's probably going to be Denzel Washington, and it won't be a bad call either. Washington has lived in August Wilson's Troy Maxson for years and his is a powerfully resonant interpretation.

Should Win: Casey Affleck has become another unpopular choice of late, but his performance in \"Manchester by the Sea\" is so singular and specific to him. He's the only one who could have made Lee Chandler work.

Should Have Been a Contender: Honestly, Tom Hanks. He was great in \"Sully.\" Perhaps we've come to expect only the impossible from him at this point, though.

COYLE:

Will Win: This has turned into a nail-biter. I think the SAG winner Denzel takes it.

Should Win: If you look up \"powerhouse performance\" in the dictionary, you should just be treated to a torrent of words from the titanic Denzel. Affleck, too, is deserving. But I'm going to go with Gosling, who's being curiously underrated this year despite being more-or-less the coolest movie star on the planet. My vote, though, is more for him in \"The Nice Guys\" than \"La La Land.\"

Should Have Been a Contender: Johnny Depp in \"The Art of the Deal.\" No, the Funny or Die feature film about Trump wasn't even eligible. But before Alec Baldwin took over the part, Depp turned in his best wigged performance in years.

___

BEST ACTRESS

The Nominees: Isabelle Huppert, \"Elle\"; Ruth Negga, \"Loving\"; Natalie Portman, \"Jackie\"; Emma Stone, \"La La Land\" and Meryl Streep, \"Florence Foster Jenkins.\"

BAHR:

Will Win: Emma Stone. The academy loves ingenues. It's even better when the role itself is \"ingenue.\"

Should Win: This is a tough one. Stone is wonderful, but Natalie Portman had such an impossible task in embodying the public and private sides of Jackie Kennedy in a non-campy way, and she pulled it off magnificently.

Should Have Been a Contender: Annette Bening was transcendent as a the spirited single mom raising a teenage boy in 1979 Santa Barbara in Mike Mills' crisp and vibrant \"20th Century Women.\"

COYLE:

Will Win: It's a competitive category, but Stone.

Should Win: Stone. What's not to like here? She can do it all.

Should Have Been a Contender: Honorable mention to Beyonce in \"Lemonade\" but Hailee Steinfeld, people. Already a nominee for \"True Grit,\" the 20-year-old was uncannily good \u2014 funny, smart, real \u2014 in Kelly Fremon Craig's teen comedy \"The Edge of Seventeen.\"

___

BEST SUPPORING ACTOR

The Nominees: Mahershala Ali, \"Moonlight\"; Jeff Bridges, \"Hell or High Water\"; Lucas Hedges, \"Manchester by the Sea\"; Dev Patel, \"Lion\" and Michael Shannon \"Nocturnal Animals.\"

BAHR:

Will Win: Mahershala Ali. Has anyone done so much to win an audience over with so little screen time?

Should Win: Mahershala Ali. Full stop. It's the role that made us all learn the name of an actor who we've all seen many times before. That's no small thing.

Should Have Been a Contender: I'm going to go out on a limb in support of one of my favorite performances of the year and say Ralph Fiennes for \"A Bigger Splash.\" He never had a chance, but he's just bursting with joy and energy and delusion and it's one that makes me smile every time I think about it.

COYLE:

Will Win: Ali. From the vast cast of \"Moonlight,\" he has (deservedly) been chosen

Should Win: Ali should because \"Moonlight\" is at its most soulful when he's onscreen. But we should all be rooting for a Michael Shannon speech if not on Sunday, some Oscars soon.

Should Have Been a Contender: The Academy Awards aren't really built to suitably reward the three Chirons of \"Moonlight.\" Three actors \u2014 Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sander, Trevante Rhodes \u2014 playing the same character across three chapters, add up to the year's best performance.

___

BEST SUPPORING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Viola Davis, \"Fences\"; Naomie Harris, \"Moonlight\"; Nicole Kidman, \"Lion\"; Octavia Spencer, \"Hidden Figures\" and Michelle Williams, \"Manchester by the Sea.\"

BAHR:

Will Win: It has to be Viola Davis, right? She's terrific in \"Fences,\" even if it is more of a co-lead.

Should Win: \"Supporting\" quibbles aside, Davis is still the strongest candidate in a very strong category. Sorry, Michelle.

Should Have Been a Contender: Sometimes I fear we've forgotten what a real supporting part is (i.e., not just whoever is second-billed). Kelly Reichardt's \"Certain Women\" was never going to break through the Oscar ranks \u2014 it's too quiet, too slow, and, let's face it, probably too female \u2014 but if there were any justice, Lily Gladstone would have been among the nominated at least.

COYLE:

Will Win: Davis is the lock of all locks.

Should Win: Davis. It will be her first Oscar, but it won't be her last.

Should Have Been a Contender: It's a strange thing that Octavia Spencer, a fine actress, has been singled out for \"Hidden Figures.\" Both of her co-stars, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae, are better in it. Monae, also electric in \"Moonlight,\" really should have been in the running. Her entry into movies was one of the best things about 2016.

___

BEST DIRECTOR

The Nominees: \"La La Land,\" Damien Chazelle; \"Hacksaw Ridge,\" Mel Gibson; \"Moonlight,\" Barry Jenkins; \"Manchester by the Sea,\" Kenneth Lonergan and \"Arrival,\" Denis Villeneuve.

BAHR:

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, of course.

Should Win: \"La La Land\" was not an inevitability, nor is any original musical and Chazelle willed this impossible project into being despite all the odds \u2014 whether it be the time constraint of a sunset for the perfect shot or shutting down a freeway to stage the perfect opening number. The work is on the screen.

Should Have Been a Contender: Pablo Larrain had not one but two brilliant, genre defying biopics this year in \"Neruda\" and \"Jackie.\"

COYLE:

Will Win: The 32-year-old wunderkind Chazelle appears to have it in the bag.

Should Win: Both Chazelle and Jenkins are overwhelmingly worthy. Just give these two exceptionally talented and annoyingly young filmmakers the keys to Hollywood.

Should Have Been a Contender: Andrea Arnold, the British director of \"American Honey,\" created the year's most intoxicating sensory experience in her wild cross-country exploration. One of the most offensive Oscar stats is that no woman has been nominated in this category since 2010.

___

Follow Coyle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP and Bahr at http://twitter.com/ldbahr

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NEW YORK (AP) \u2014 Hollywood is ready for its close-up. Again.

If Damien Chazelle's \"La La Land\" is to win best picture at Sunday's Academy Awards \u2014 and just about everyone thinks it's going to \u2014 it will surely go down as another in a run of movies about Hollywood to be celebrated by Hollywood. Two years ago it was Alejandro Inarritu's backstage comedy \"Birdman\" that was crowned at the Oscars. Before that, it was Ben Affleck's true-tale caper \"Argo,\" where movie magic saves the day in Iran. And before that, it was Michel Hazanavicius's black-and-white homage to the silent era, \"The Artist.\"

As of 5 p.m. PST Tuesday, all the votes are in. But many have already lamented the increasingly self-congratulatory nature of Hollywood's already exceedingly self-congratulatory awards season.

\"It's just so narcissistic,\" lamented Bill Maher recently. \"Another movie about movies. About us.\"

Maher is far from alone in his disdain for the navel gazing. Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang, wrote, has fallen in love \"with yet another intoxicating vision of itself.\" Film writer Mark Harris called the anticipated sweep for \"La La Land\" (nominated for a record-tying 14 awards) \"Hollywood-bubble solipsism.\"

\"The history of the Oscars is going to be 'For decades, the academy gave best picture to films about all kinds of things,'\" wrote Harris. \"Then they stopped.\"

So what's changed? Well, just about everything.

In the five-year time span between \"The Artist\" to \"La La Land,\" the movie industry has been beset by a swelling tide of turmoil. Streaming services have moved in. (Amazon and Netflix have 12 nominations between them this year.) So-called \"Peak TV\" arrived, and with it came an exodus of talent to the open fields of the small screen. The studios, watching the number of tickets sold decline every year, have doubled-down on comic-book adaptations and remakes. Film, itself, turned digital.

Cinema has proved indomitable to countless challengers in the past. But fears are pervasive that a new wave of disruption will topple the movies. \"Cinema is gone,\" Martin Scorsese said upon the release of his little-seen religious epic \"Silence.\" ''The cinema I grew up with and that I'm making, it's gone.\" Scorsese, as passionate a believer in the big screen as anyone, is reportedly taking one of his next films to Netflix.

There have been a number of Oscar best-picture winners about show business and the colorful lives of performers, including \"The Broadway Melody\" (1928), \"Grand Hotel\" (1932), \"The Great Ziegfeld\" (1936), \"All About Eve\" (1950), one of the two other films to notch 14 nods) and \"Shakespeare in Love\" (1998).

But it's a relatively recent development that the Academy Awards have been so swayed by movies about its own backyard. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out , it wasn't until \"Million Dollar Baby\" and \"Crash\" won in the mid-'00s that an LA-set movie won best picture.

\"La La Land,\" ''Birdman,\" ''Argo\" and \"The Artist\" speak less to Hollywood's rosy view of itself than to its mounting fears and anxieties. \"The Artist\" was pure, monochrome nostalgia. \"Argo,\" like the Coen brothers' recent \"Hail, Caesar!,\" portrayed the do-anything spirit of the once all-powerful Hollywood studio. In \"Birdman,\" an actor trying to make it on Broadway is haunted by his superhero past.

\"Everybody's wearing a cape now,\" Inarritu sighed at the time. \"I think always there are great films, it's just that they don't arrive to people. Or people have lost interest. It's not that they don't exist. They exist.\"

In \"La La Land,\" just before Emma Stone's Mia rushes off to the Rialto Theatre to rendezvous with Ryan Gosling to see \"Rebel Without a Cause,\" she sits quietly at a dinner conversation that would be familiar to anyone. Her boyfriend is bragging about his surround-sound TV.

\"It's better than going to a theater, really. You know theaters these days. They're so dirty and they're either too hot or too cold and there's always people talking which is just so annoying.\"

For a town flush with negativity (and fast dropping studio heads ), \"La La Land\" is like a warm ray of sunshine.

\"You're a part of so many of those conversations. Theaters are dying. Movies are dying, etcetera, etcetera,\" Chazelle said in an earlier interview. \"It's the kind of thing where I'm either hoping they're wrong or having to reflect: 'Man, I must have been born 30 years too late.' Because all I've only ever wanted to do is make movies for the big screen since I can remember.\"

\"In my own childhood, LA seemed to be just this unlivable city. To me, LA was 'Speed,' 'Volcano,' the 'Terminator' movies. It was this hard-edged city that was all big steel concrete buildings and highways,\" said Chazelle, who grew up in New Jersey and moved to LA a decade ago. \"There's so many movies to be made about LA. It can contain both a more romantic portrayal like this and 'Speed,' which is its own sort of love letter. LA is America with a capital A, that idea of you can be anything, the open road, the big sky, the golden coast. It's a very iconic idea of America.\"

Ezra Edelman's nominated documentary \"O.J.: Made in America\" is a different kind of portrait of LA, also made by an East Coast guy. It, too, is the favorite to win Sunday. For Edelman, who grew up listening to West Coast hip-hop and watching the Simpson case, the city represents a mythical promised land.

There are, of course, other nominees made to urgently push cinema forward that don't wrestle with nostalgia the way \"La La Land\" does or survey Los Angeles like \"O.J.\" And many argue that the stormy political mood in America doesn't call for a love letter like \"La La Land,\" but for something \u2014 like \"Moonlight\" or \"Hidden Figures\" \u2014 with a message that resonates strongest outside of Southern California.

But if \"La La Land\" pulls out the win Sunday, it may just prove that Hollywood doesn't need another pat on the back, but a pep talk. Before the widescreen musical was a $300 million-plus worldwide hit, Tom Hanks vowed: \"If the audience doesn't go and embrace something as wonderful as this,\" he said, \"then we are all doomed.\"

___

This story corrects the year for \"Grand Hotel\" to 1932.

___

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

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LOS ANGELES (AP) \u2014 Jordan Peele is \"kind of done\" with performing.

\"I don't necessarily love the attention,\" Peele said. \"It takes a particular kind of toll on you.\"

While that might be a dagger in the hearts of fans who came to know and love Peele as an uncannily calm Barack Obama, the endlessly annoying Meegan or any of the other characters he played in the sketch comedy series \"Key & Peele,\" the good news is that he's still in the business of entertaining. He's just taking a seat behind the camera. The better news? He's really good at it.

His directorial debut, \"Get Out,\" in theaters Friday, is one of those rare creations that functions both as a taut psychological thriller and as searing social commentary about racism in the modern era. The premise is simple: A black man, Chris, (Daniel Kaluuya) goes upstate with his white girlfriend, Rose, (Allison Williams) to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) and things get weird. It's been described as \"The Stepford Wives\" meets \"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.\"

Peele, who also wrote the film, isn't necessarily commenting on interracial relationships directly. His mother is white, as is his wife, comedian Chelsea Peretti \u2014 although he met her after it was written. Instead, it's in part based on the experience of being the only black man at an event full of mostly older, white people.

\"There's a desire to connect that is sweet and endearing, but I wanted with this movie to show how you experience it different from our perspective,\" Peele said. \"It's one thing to have one conversation with somebody but when every conversation you're having begins to resemble that conversation you begin to realize that you are being seen as other... it's at least a reminder that we're not past race.\"

Like \"Scream,\" ''Get Out \" is a satire with \"full thriller vocabulary.\"

Peele was unabashed in referencing his influences during filming \u2014 often telling his production designer that he wanted one thing to feel very David Lynch and another to have more of a David Cronenberg vibe. He described it as pooling his influences and melting them down to create something new.

\"(Quentin) Tarantino is the guy who taught me with the most clarity that you don't have to be afraid of your influences in order to create something absolutely new,\" Peele said. \"I mean, what is more unique than 'Pulp Fiction' and what is also simultaneously more derivative? I think that's something very freeing for artists to realize. There's no way to escape that which formed you as an artist.\"

Peele is a lifetime fan of horror films and thrillers and on one level wanted to make something for the underserved black audience \u2014 but not exclusively so.

\"The black horror movie audience is a very loyal fan base,\" Peele said. \"We come out and we enjoy horror movies and there's this extreme lack of representation of black characters, black protagonists, but also the values that you see demonstrated in a theater \u2014 people yelling at the screen, 'get out! Get out of the house!'\"

That's part of the reason Peele created the character of Chris's friend (played by comedian Lil Rel Howery), who serves as the voice of reason and caution. He's warns his friend not to go and demands he leave when things seem off.

\"There's an element to being African-American where you are perceptive to things that somebody else may not be,\" Peele said. \"That, to me, became a cool special power and kind of helped justify what would make a horror movie with black people in it unique.\"

But it was also important to Peele that \"Get Out\" wasn't \"just a black movie.\"

\"It had to be an inclusive film. If it doesn't work for everybody then it's not worth it There's this mix of the movie itself being about the fact that there's never been a movie like this,\" he said. \"Part of what's special about this movie is that it is about representation. It's about giving someone like me a chance and a platform to make a movie from my perspective and trust that an audience will come and see it.\"

The same theory applied to casting his lead actor, Kaluuya, a name likely unfamiliar to most audiences. You might recognize him \u2014 he was in the TV show \"Skins,\" and in films like \"Sicario\" and \"Kick-Ass 2\" \u2014 but he hasn't had the chance to stand out on his own yet. Peele realized early on that there wasn't a large pool of 26-year-old African-American leading men to drawn from.

\"When I was putting this movie together, the black actors who are this age that would have been considered stars of films were Michael B. Jordan, maybe Chadwick Boseman and ... you got any more?\" Peele said. \"We very quickly realized that the only answer here is somebody who is a star but who we haven't seen get to be a star yet.\"

But Peele is optimistic. He sees a renaissance happening in Hollywood where people are finally being given chances, apparent in the rise of talents like Donald Glover and the worldwide success of films like \"Straight Outta Compton.\"

\"That's why it's cool to be in the industry right now,\" he said. \"You see the emergence of people who should have been in the picture the whole time.\"

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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NEW YORK (AP) \u2014 Hollywood is ready for its close-up. Again.

If Damien Chazelle's \"La La Land\" is to win best picture at Sunday's Academy Awards \u2014 and just about everyone thinks it's going to \u2014 it will surely go down as another in a run of movies about Hollywood to be celebrated by Hollywood. Two years ago it was Alejandro Inarritu's backstage comedy \"Birdman\" that was crowned at the Oscars. Before that, it was Ben Affleck's true-tale caper \"Argo,\" where movie magic saves the day in Iran. And before that, it was Michel Hazanavicius's black-and-white homage to the silent era, \"The Artist.\"

As of 5 p.m. PST Tuesday, all the votes are in. But many have already lamented the increasingly self-congratulatory nature of Hollywood's already exceedingly self-congratulatory awards season.

\"It's just so narcissistic,\" lamented Bill Maher recently. \"Another movie about movies. About us.\"

Maher is far from alone in his disdain for the navel gazing. Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang, wrote, has fallen in love \"with yet another intoxicating vision of itself.\" Film writer Mark Harris called the anticipated sweep for \"La La Land\" (nominated for a record-tying 14 awards) \"Hollywood-bubble solipsism.\"

\"The history of the Oscars is going to be 'For decades, the academy gave best picture to films about all kinds of things,'\" wrote Harris. \"Then they stopped.\"

So what's changed? Well, just about everything.

In the five-year time span between \"The Artist\" to \"La La Land,\" the movie industry has been beset by a swelling tide of turmoil. Streaming services have moved in. (Amazon and Netflix have 12 nominations between them this year.) So-called \"Peak TV\" arrived, and with it came an exodus of talent to the open fields of the small screen. The studios, watching the number of tickets sold decline every year, have doubled-down on comic-book adaptations and remakes. Film, itself, turned digital.

Cinema has proved indomitable to countless challengers in the past. But fears are pervasive that a new wave of disruption will topple the movies. \"Cinema is gone,\" Martin Scorsese said upon the release of his little-seen religious epic \"Silence.\" ''The cinema I grew up with and that I'm making, it's gone.\" Scorsese, as passionate a believer in the big screen as anyone, is reportedly taking one of his next films to Netflix.

There have been a number of Oscar best-picture winners about show business and the colorful lives of performers, including \"The Broadway Melody\" (1928), \"Grand Hotel\" (1931), \"The Great Ziegfeld\" (1936), \"All About Eve\" (1950), one of the two other films to notch 14 nods) and \"Shakespeare in Love\" (1998).

But it's a relatively recent development that the Academy Awards have been so swayed by movies about its own backyard. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out , it wasn't until \"Million Dollar Baby\" and \"Crash\" won in the mid-'00s that an LA-set movie won best picture.

\"La La Land,\" ''Birdman,\" ''Argo\" and \"The Artist\" speak less to Hollywood's rosy view of itself than to its mounting fears and anxieties. \"The Artist\" was pure, monochrome nostalgia. \"Argo,\" like the Coen brothers' recent \"Hail, Caesar!,\" portrayed the do-anything spirit of the once all-powerful Hollywood studio. In \"Birdman,\" an actor trying to make it on Broadway is haunted by his superhero past.

\"Everybody's wearing a cape now,\" Inarritu sighed at the time. \"I think always there are great films, it's just that they don't arrive to people. Or people have lost interest. It's not that they don't exist. They exist.\"

In \"La La Land,\" just before Emma Stone's Mia rushes off to the Rialto Theatre to rendezvous with Ryan Gosling to see \"Rebel Without a Cause,\" she sits quietly at a dinner conversation that would be familiar to anyone. Her boyfriend is bragging about his surround-sound TV.

\"It's better than going to a theater, really. You know theaters these days. They're so dirty and they're either too hot or too cold and there's always people talking which is just so annoying.\"

For a town flush with negativity (and fast dropping studio heads ), \"La La Land\" is like a warm ray of sunshine.

\"You're a part of so many of those conversations. Theaters are dying. Movies are dying, etcetera, etcetera,\" Chazelle said in an earlier interview. \"It's the kind of thing where I'm either hoping they're wrong or having to reflect: 'Man, I must have been born 30 years too late.' Because all I've only ever wanted to do is make movies for the big screen since I can remember.\"

\"In my own childhood, LA seemed to be just this unlivable city. To me, LA was 'Speed,' 'Volcano,' the 'Terminator' movies. It was this hard-edged city that was all big steel concrete buildings and highways,\" said Chazelle, who grew up in New Jersey and moved to LA a decade ago. \"There's so many movies to be made about LA. It can contain both a more romantic portrayal like this and 'Speed,' which is its own sort of love letter. LA is America with a capital A, that idea of you can be anything, the open road, the big sky, the golden coast. It's a very iconic idea of America.\"

Ezra Edelman's nominated documentary \"O.J.: Made in America\" is a different kind of portrait of LA, also made by an East Coast guy. It, too, is the favorite to win Sunday. For Edelman, who grew up listening to West Coast hip-hop and watching the Simpson case, the city represents a mythical promised land.

There are, of course, other nominees made to urgently push cinema forward that don't wrestle with nostalgia the way \"La La Land\" does or survey Los Angeles like \"O.J.\" And many argue that the stormy political mood in America doesn't call for a love letter like \"La La Land,\" but for something \u2014 like \"Moonlight\" or \"Hidden Figures\" \u2014 with a message that resonates strongest outside of Southern California.

But if \"La La Land\" pulls out the win Sunday, it may just prove that Hollywood doesn't need another pat on the back, but a pep talk. Before the widescreen musical was a $300 million-plus worldwide hit, Tom Hanks vowed: \"If the audience doesn't go and embrace something as wonderful as this,\" he said, \"then we are all doomed.\"

___

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

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NEW YORK (AP) \u2014 The journey from pop star to serious thespian is littered with casualties. For every Justin Timberlake, there are big-name hitmakers whose movie careers have stalled with dubious and disappointing results.

Which is just one reason why Janelle Monae's magical movie ride is so noteworthy. The Grammy-nominated performer made her acting debut last year with two films \u2014 and both are nominated for best picture at Sunday's Academy Awards.

She first wowed critics in her small but pivotal role in \"Moonlight\" as Teresa, the nurturing girlfriend of a drug dealer who befriends an introverted, impoverished boy who senses he is different.

But her biggest breakout would come with \"Hidden Figures,\" portraying one of three pioneering black women at NASA whose contributions to the space race were critical, but overlooked by history. As engineer Mary Jackson, Monae shows a depth and range that wowed critics and proved she could hold her own along a star-studded cast.

Though Monae may be one of the biggest surprises of the Oscar season, the 31-year-old sees her acting ascension as part of her natural progression as an artist (she studied acting for years).

\"I always did both, and I consider myself not just an actor or a musician or singer, but an artist-storyteller, and my hope is to continue to tell untold, unique universal stories in unforgettable ways,\" said Monae in an interview.

Monae's career so far has certainly been unforgettable. Her albums \u2014 a captivating mix of funk, psychedelic soul, R&B and pop \u2014 have been critically lauded, and her electric stage presence recalls James Brown or Prince, who was a close friend and mentor. She's a CoverGirl spokeswoman and a fashion muse known for her eclectic style: On this day, her hair was dotted with eye ornaments.

Space permeated Monae's artistic world long before \"Hidden Figures\" \u2014 her alter ego was a futuristic android Cindi Mayweather, and on her last album, she paid tribute to Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel in space. She even dreamed of being an astronaut.

\"I've been obsessed with space and sci-fi . I was obsessed and still am with Mae Jemison,\" she said of the first black woman in space.

And yet Monae was unaware of the story of Jackson or the other central characters in \"Hidden Figures,\" based on Margot Lee Shetterly's book of the same name.

Jackson was one of the black female \"human computers\" working for NASA in the segregated South; while the main character, Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson) was responsible for the mathematical formula that launched John Glenn into orbit, Jackson petitioned and won her case to study engineering at an all-white school to further her career at NASA.

\"I thought it was a fictitious story,\" she said. \"Once I found out that these women in fact did exist, and they did contribute to the space race and were an integral part of helping us win the space race, I wanted to make sure that no other young boy or girl or American, human being, went through life without knowing these phenomenal, brilliant-minded women.\"

Monae was cast as Jackson after the Oscar-nominated Henson and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (up for another Oscar for her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan) were on board.

\"We auditioned everyone, and we were having a hard time finding someone who had the fire of Mary Jackson,\" said director Theodore Melfi. \"And then in walks Janelle, who auditioned, and I think she was burning up inside herself. She's such an activist and such a passionate and strong woman, she lit it up for us and did Mary Jackson so much justice and depth.\"

Sharing billing with heavyweights on only her second film could have been intimidating, but Monae credits her co-stars with making her feel at ease.

\"Octavia and Taraji are my big sisters. The sisterhood that you see on screen is genuine,\" she said.

Spencer echoed those sentiments and called Monae a \"brilliant artist.\"

\"She chose material that she responded to. You can't just pick films that don't resonate with you. If you pick films that don't resonate with you, then chances are, it probably won't resonate with anyone,\" she said.

Monae cared so deeply about both projects that she took a break from recording to devote herself to them. \"I felt like these movies are bigger than me; it was for humanity. These movies bring people together.\"

Monae's advocacy also spills outside her art. She was one of the performers at the Women's March in Washington a month ago, and has been outspoken in her support of gay rights, Black Lives Matter and other causes.

Melfi expects that sincerity to be present in Monae as she navigates her way through Hollywood.

\"I don't think you're going to see someone who does a fluff movie,\" he said. \"I think she's going to do movies that mean something to people and that can help shine a light on someone who's suffered an injustice or some kind of movie that builds faith or builds character.\"

And that next project could include her own script: Monae envisions science fiction movies where black people play the leads, and stories about other hidden figures in African-American history.

\"I feel empowered to continue writing and telling the stories that I feel we so desperately need,\" she said.

___

AP writer Jonathan Landrum in Atlanta contributed to this story.

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The unusually vivid images in \u201cThe Great Wall\u201d make it a solid actioner and eye-pleasing spectacle.

Director Zhang Yimou (\u201cHero\u201d and \u201cHouse of Flying Daggers\u201d), in his first English production, works his magic behind the lens for terrific battle scenes and gorgeous colors. Taking a back seat to all this is Matt Damon as William, an Irish mercenary traveling in northwestern China with his Spanish friend Tovar (Pedro Pascal, television\u2019s \u201cGame of Thrones\u201d) in search of a valuable black powder \u2014 gunpowder, as we know it \u2014\u00a0that can be transformed into fire.

Some kind of creature attacks the travelers, and it leaves a clawed limb behind. The two find safety, in a sense, when they are taken prisoner by the Nameless Order army inside the Great Wall of China.

The vicious beast they encountered turns out to be one of hordes of Taotie, giant lizard-like creatures that eat humans, are well-nigh indestructible and travel in organized armies. William and Tovar, who still want to get their hands on gunpowder, join the all-woman Crane Corps army that\u2019s led by Commander Lin (Tian Jing).

The most dazzling parts of the film have little to do with the actors themselves. It\u2019s the beauty of the colors, battle preparation and the fights themselves that are such a delight to watch. Flaming cannonballs armed with spikes and stunningly costumed archers firing poisoned harpoons are astonishing to see. The Crane soldiers use diving boards to jump into the ravaging hordes of Taotie. And just wait until you see the arrows with flutes attached \u2014 and why.

I saw it in 3D, and it was glorious indeed. Arrows come flying at you, soldiers come flying at you \u2014\u00a0the 3D immerses you in the movie so much that it ups the fun quotient considerably.

The movie shares more DNA with Zhang\u2019s other movies than it does to an American action or fantasy flick. With its elegance, grandeur and focus on visuals, it retains a welcome foreign feel despite the presence of Damon and Willem Dafoe.

I like the way the cultures clash. Once the two travelers demonstrate courage and loyalty, tentative friendships are forged stronger by battle and quick thinking. Additionally, the army of women warriors is a nice addition.

For anyone who wonders whether this is historically accurate: Are you kidding? Myths and legends abound about the Great Wall, and this is just another spin on one of those.

This will appeal to anyone who is an aficionado of Zhang\u2019s other work or brilliant cinematography. It\u2019s a great sight to see.

"}, {"id":"0cd9fcba-b94d-59e4-bb59-ee1364cddcd8","type":"article","starttime":"1487770137","starttime_iso8601":"2017-02-22T07:28:57-06:00","lastupdated":"1487772342","priority":0,"sections":[{"entertainment":"entertainment"},{"movies":"entertainment/movies"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Playwright who inspired 'Moonlight' wins PEN award","url":"http://qctimes.com/entertainment/article_0cd9fcba-b94d-59e4-bb59-ee1364cddcd8.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/entertainment/playwright-who-inspired-moonlight-wins-pen-award/article_0cd9fcba-b94d-59e4-bb59-ee1364cddcd8.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/The-playwright-who-inspired-the-Oscar-nominated-movie-Moonlight-has-won-a-prize-from-PEN-America-the-literary-and-human-rights-organization/id-8e75b9f0fed845a3972fc4157c030ba3","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"NEW YORK (AP) \u2014 The playwright who inspired the Oscar-nominated movie \"Moonlight\" has won a prize from PEN America, the literary and human rights organization.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","arts and entertainment","human rights and civil liberties","social issues","social affairs","plays","theater","performing arts","entertainment","movies","nonfiction","books and literature","literary awards","literary events"],"internalKeywords":["#lee"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"8e5cb375-a63e-5bda-8717-9a9eda0004db","description":"FILE - In a June 10, 2012, file photo, playwright and screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks arrives at the 66th Annual Tony Awards, in New York. Parks, best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning play \u201cTopdog/Underdog,\u201d received a PEN award for \u201cMaster American Dramatist,\u201d PEN announced Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)","byline":"Evan Agostini","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"402","height":"512","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/e5/8e5cb375-a63e-5bda-8717-9a9eda0004db/58ad967d5a50a.image.jpg?resize=402%2C512"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"127","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/e5/8e5cb375-a63e-5bda-8717-9a9eda0004db/58ad967d5a50a.image.jpg?resize=100%2C127"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"382","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/e5/8e5cb375-a63e-5bda-8717-9a9eda0004db/58ad967d5a50a.image.jpg?resize=300%2C382"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1304","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/e5/8e5cb375-a63e-5bda-8717-9a9eda0004db/58ad967d5a50a.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"0cd9fcba-b94d-59e4-bb59-ee1364cddcd8","body":"

NEW YORK (AP) \u2014 The playwright who inspired the Oscar-nominated movie \"Moonlight\" has won a prize from PEN America, the literary and human rights organization.

Tarell Alvin McCraney received an award for best mid-career playwright, PEN announced Wednesday. McCraney's \"In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue\" is the basis for the acclaimed movie drama, which is up for eight nominations at Sunday night's Academy Awards. McCraney is also known for his acclaimed \"The Brother/Sister\" trilogy.

Suzan-Lori Parks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her play \"Topdog/Underdog,\" received a PEN award for \"Master American Dramatist.\" Thomas Bradshaw, whose works include \"Burning\" and \"The Bereaved,\" was named best emerging playwright.

Other honors included the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, given to Matthew Desmond for \"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.\" The Bosnian-born Aleksandar Hemon won the Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History, for \"How Did You Get Here?: Tales of Displacement.\" Named for the author of \"Edie\" and other oral histories, the Stein grant is a $10,000 award \"for an unpublished literary work of nonfiction that uses oral history to illuminate an event, individual, place or movement.\"

The PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing went to Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss for \"Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA.\" British author Helen Oyeyemi's \"What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours\" won the PEN Open Book Award for \"an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color.\"

\"As global and national political discourse turn toward exclusion, PEN America continues to uphold the humanities' place in fostering coherent dialogue,\" the organization's president, Andrew Solomon, said in a statement. \"Many of this year's honored books explore the social themes that are at the surface of our nation's consciousness.\" A dozen emerging writers received $2,000 prizes for outstanding debut short stories, including Angela Ajayi for \"Galina,\" Amber Caron for \"The Handler\" and Emily Chammah for \"Tell Me, Please.\"

____

A complete list of awards can be found on https://pen.org

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Fifty years after Sidney Poitier upended the latent racial prejudices of his white date's liberal family in \"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,\" writer-director Jordan Peele has crafted a similar confrontation with altogether more combustible results in \"Get Out.\"

\"Do they know I'm black?\" Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) asks his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) as they get ready to leave their city apartment for a weekend at her parents' rural estate. \"No,\" she replies. \"Should they?\"

\"It seems like something you might want to mention,\" he sighs. \"I don't want to get chased off the lawn with a shotgun.\"

It's a joke but it's also foreshadowing \u2014 and just a hint of the frights to come. In Peele's directorial debut, the former \"Key and Peele\" star has \u2014as he often did on that satirical sketch series \u2014 turned inside out even supposedly progressive assumptions about race. But Peele has largely left comedy behind in a more chilling portrait of the racism that lurks beneath smiling white faces and defensive, paper-thin protestations like, \"But I voted for Obama!\" and \"Isn't Tiger Woods amazing?\"

Those are the kinds of things that Rose's father, Dean (an excellent Bradley Whitford), says as he and his wife, Missy (Catherine Keener), heartily welcomes his daughter's boyfriend. \"How long has this thang been going on?\" Dean asks with forced emphasis on \"thang.\"

But the warm welcome is only skin deep. A deeply bizarre atmosphere takes hold at the house, where all the hired help is black. They are a spooky, robotic bunch, with dead eyes and zombie-like demeanors that would have stood out even in \"The Stepford Wives.\" Something clearly is off, though Peele takes his time letting the mystery thicken.

\"Get Out,\" produced by Jason Blum's low-budget horror studio Blumhouse Productions, is serious, even sober in its horror. But its archness has moments of creepy levity. When Chris is given a tour of the house, Dean points out the sealed door to the basement. \"Black mold,\" he says.

Things get even stranger when Chris meets some of the family friends, who all appear oddly frozen in time somehow. Some ogle him with lust, feeling his biceps. The most paranoid (and funny) character in the movie is Chris' friend, Rod (a terrific Lil Rel Howery), a TSA agent who \u2014 dubious from the start \u2014 grows increasingly concerned with every update from Chris.

Eventually, the truth comes out, things turn bloody and, as you'd expect, we get a look at that basement.

It's long been a lamentable joke that in horror films \u2014 never the most inclusive of genres \u2014 the black dude is always the first to go. In this way, \"Get Out\" is radical and refreshing in its perspective. The movie is entirely from Chris's point of view; his fears are ours.

Peele originally conceived his long-planned film as an Obama-era horror, one that revealed the hidden racism that the country had supposedly overcome. \"Get Out\" instead comes out at a time where few still hold any belief in a post-racial America. The dark forces unleashed in \"Get Out\" came out of hiding long ago.

\"Get Out,\" a Universal Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for \"violence, bloody images, and language including sexual references.\" Running time: 103 minutes. Three stars out of four.

___

Follow AP Film Writer on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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