Monday, June 30, 2014

BET Awards: ’12 Years a Slave,’ Beyonce, Pharrell Top Winners (Full list of winners)

The 2014 BET Awards kicked off at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles Sunday night and came with many surprises.

Pharrell opened the show with “Come Get It Bae.” The crowd went crazy when surprise guest Missy Elliott joined Pharrell for the performance. The “Happy” singer continued his impressive winning streak at award shows after taking home the awards for Video of the Year and Best Male R&B/Pop Artist.

The 2014 BET Awards kicked off at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles Sunday night and came with many surprises.
Pharrell opened the show with “Come Get It Bae.” The crowd went crazy when surprise guest Missy Elliott joined Pharrell for the performance. The “Happy” singer continued his impressive winning streak at award shows after taking home the awards for Video of the Year and Best Male R&B/Pop Artist.
Chris Rock hosted and was not short on funny after he took jabs at Solange Knowles, Jay Z and Rick Ross’s weight.  Rock pulled an Ellen DeGeneres move and handed out Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles because pizza wouldn’t suffice at the BET Awards, said the comedian.
Rock really got some reaction from the crowd when introducing Chris Brown to the stage. “Chris Brown just signed a new deal, too bad it was a plea deal,” he joked.
Brown took the stage in a surprise performance of hit song “Loyal” with Lil Wayne and Tyga. The artist let loose and was all smiles. Audience members like Floyd Mayweather, Future and Pharrell danced and sang along.
Fans on the Twitterverse couldn’t help but comment on Brown’s appearance.
Nicki Minaj had a large presence at the show. She performed her most critically acclaimed single “Pills and Potions.” Minaj went with a more natural look, but still stuck to the dramatics as she elevated out of a massive mushroom in an “Alice and Wonderland”-inspired set.  Minaj also won Best Female Hip Hop Artist and accepted the award with an intense rant. The rapper through some shade at Iggy Azalea and thanked BET for giving an award to a female artist who wrote her own lyrics, which got some boos and cheers from the audience. “When you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it,” she said.
Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall presented the first award of the night for Best New Artist to August Alsina, who shed some tears while receiving the award. Alsina also won the Viewer’s Choice Award.
Lil Wayne performed complete with a blinged-out grill, with most of the song bleeped out and heavy drums on the background. John Legend performed his hit song “You and I” and then took to the keys while Jhené Aiko sang.
On the red carpet “Think Like A Man Too” star Gary Owens told Variety that he hadn’t met Mike Tyson before and was nervous to present with him. On stage, they presented the award for Best Hip Hop Artist to Drake. Owens got some laughs when he shouted, “Started from the bottom,” quoting Drake’s hit while he accepted the award on behalf of him, who did not attend.
Usher performed and resembled Davy Crockett with an interesting fur hat. The musician sang hit songs like “Confessions,” “You Remind Me,” and the energy in the room took off when he sang “You Don’t Have to Call” and “Caught Up.”
Usher had one of the most crowd-pleasing performances. The singer played the drums and sang his new record “Good Kisser.” Although, his background dancer may or may not have received most of the attention with her white fur boots.
Kevin Hart did what he does best and parodied “Scandal” with Kerry Washington, while presenting Video of the Year.
“I’m Oliver Pope,” said Hart.  The comedian said he had a scandal of his own and was in a relationship with the president of BET and Olivia Pope’s brother.
In another BET surprise, Chris Brown returned to the stage to perform alongside August Alsina and Trey Songz. This collaboration seemed to have put R&B back on the map from what fans said on Twitter.
Songz took over the set for his own performance of “Na Na.” Things got steamy, to say the least, with his dancers dressed in fishnets and lingerie.
Pharrell appeared back on stage to present Lionel Richie with the lifetime achievement award.
Before Richie could except his award, John Legend lent his vocals for Richie’s famous hits “Hello”  and “Still.” Ledisi continued the tribute and rocked out to “Brick House” in a bright pink jacket.
“Soul is a feeling, not a color,” said Richie.
He thanked the Commodores and Barry Gordy. “Without the Commodores I would not be standing on this stage right now.”
Rock poked fun at T.I., who recently got in a physical altercation with boxer Floyd Mayweather, before he got on stage with Iggy Azalea.
Azalea did not seem to impress. The rapper was either lip-synching or rapping over a pre-recorded track that overpowered her voice during her hit “Fancy.”
Young Money received the Best Group award. Nicki Minaj gracefully accept the award saying that this is family and that she was honored to be in Lil Wayne’s presence.  Weezy got a little too excited and smashed the mic stand, while screaming “Young mula baby!”
BET slowed it down and got sensual with old school hits like “I Want to Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd and “Freak Me” by Silk.
Phylicia Rashad paid tribute to Ruby Dee and Maya Angelou who both passed away in the last month. A short tribute to Bobby Womack followed with a performance by Tyrese.
Robin Thicke once again belted out a ballad called “Forever Love” for his estranged wife Paula Patton. The singer has been on an open mission to get his wife back. Thicke flashed “Paula” in large letters on a big screen after the performance with a photo of the two kissing.
And in a final surprise, Beyonce and Jay Z closed out the award show with  taped performance from the couple’s On the Run tour with Beyonce’s song “Partition.” Beyonce also won the award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, as well as Best Collaboration with husband Jay Z for “Drunk in Love.”
Full list of winners
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Beyoncé (Winner)
Janelle Monáe
Jhené Aiko
K. Michelle
Tamar Braxton
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
August Alsina
Chris Brown
John Legend
Justin Timberlake
Pharrell Williams (Winner)
Best Group
A$AP Mob
Daft Punk
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Young Money (Winner)
Best Collaboration
August Alsina featuring Trinidad Jame$ – “I Luv This”
Beyoncé featuring Jay Z – “Drunk In Love” (Winner)
Drake featuring Majid Jordan – “Hold On (We’re Going Home”)
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail”
Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams – “Blurred Lines”
YG featuring Jeezy & Rich Homie Quan – “My Hitta”
Best Male Hip Hop Artist
Drake (Winner) 
J. Cole
Jay Z
Kendrick Lamar
Best Female Hip Hop Artist
Angel Haze
Charli Baltimore
Iggy Azalea
Nicki Minaj (Winner) 
Video of the Year
Beyoncé – “Partition”
Beyoncé featuring Jay Z – “Drunk In Love”
Chris Brown – “Fine China”
Drake – “Worst Behavior”
Pharrell Williams – “Happy” (Winner)
Video Director of the Year
Benny Boom
Chris Brown
Colin Tilley
Director X
Hype Williams (Winner) 
Best New Artist
Ariana Grande
August Alsina (Winner)
Mack Wilds
Rich Homie Quan
ScHoolboy Q
Best Gospel Artist
Donnie McClurkin
Erica Campbell
Hezekiah Walker
Tamela Mann (Winner)
Tye Tribbett
Best Actress
Angela Bassett
Gabrielle Union
Kerry Washington
Lupita Nyong’o (Winner)
Oprah Winfrey
Best Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Winner)
Forest Whitaker
Idris Elba
Kevin Hart
Michael B. Jordan
YoungStars Award
Gabrielle Douglas
Jacob Latimore
Jaden Smith
KeKe Palmer (Winner) 
Best Movie
“12 Years a Slave” (Winner)
“The Best Man Holiday”
“Fruitvale Station”
“Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Subway Sportswoman of the Year
Brittney Griner
Lolo Jones
Serena Williams (Winner)
Skylar Diggins
Venus Williams
Subway Sportsman of the Year
Blake Griffin
Carmelo Anthony
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Kevin Durant (Winner)
LeBron James
Centric Award
Aloe Blacc – “The Man”
Jennifer Hudson featuring T.I. – “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)”
Jhené Aiko – “The Worst” (Winner)
LiV Warfield – “Why Do You Lie?”
Wale featuring Sam Dew – “LoveHate Thing”
Best International Act: Africa
Davido (Nigeria) (Winner)
Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania)
Mafikizolo (South Africa)
Sarkodie (Ghana)
Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)
Toofan (Togo)
Best International Act: UK
Dizzee Rascal
Krept & Konan (Winner)
Laura Mvula
Rita Ora
Tinie Tempah
VARIETY by Nikara Johns June 29, 2014 | 05:33PM PT @NikaraJohns

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Film Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

'Cloverfield' director Matt Reeves helms a bleak but spectacular sequel to the 2011 man-vs.-monkey hit.

It’s always darkest before the dawn, goes the saying — but in resuming a franchise already suspended on a downbeat note, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” sees the simian revolution reaching unprecedented levels of bleak anarchy. An altogether smashing sequel to 2011′s better-than-expected “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than “Rise” journeyman Rupert Wyatt. Entirely replacing the previous film’s human cast, but crucially promoting Andy Serkis’ remarkable motion-capture inhabitation of Caesar to centerstage, “Dawn” ought to go ape at the global box office starting July 9, smoothing the path for further sequels to test the franchise’s complexity.

Following the robust performance of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” — which garnered warm reviews, more than $480 million worldwide and an Oscar nomination for its stunning effects work — “Cloverfield” director Reeves inherits the Pierre Boulle-originated franchise in considerably better condition than Wyatt did, considering the almighty whiff of Tim Burton’s 2001 “Planet of the Apes” remake. Credibility restored, then, it’d have been easy to get complacent, recycling the “Rise’s” most impressive setpieces and welding them to a hasty resuscitation of its movie-science narrative. Instead, Reeves and returning writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (joined by “The Wolverine” scribe Mark Bomback) have taken a different tonal tack, fashioning the new installment as an out-and-out war drama, with surprising subdivisions in its central conflict of man vs. beast, and battle scenes to do Weta Digital godfather Peter Jackson proud.
The action begins approximately a decade after “Rise” left off, with a pre-credits montage of global news reports filling in the subsequent drastic developments: The ALZ-113 virus (or simian flu) unleashed at the end of the prior film has wiped out most of the world’s human population, with a survival rate of less than one in 500. It’s a slight red herring of an introduction, given that the virus is no longer the most immediate threat to man’s day-to-day existence. With all government functions suspended and nuclear power critically depleted, any remaining bands of survivors exist in spartan, unlit isolation; if the flu doesn’t get to them first, the lack of basic resources will.
San Francisco — or the post-ape-ocalyptic remainder of it, at least — is once more the setting, brilliantly realized by production designer James Chinlund as a gangrenous wasteland of vegetation-swamped slumhouses, the city’s erstwhile landmarks glumly clothed in rust and moss. Its few residents are led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), a former military man bent on revenge against the apes for the loss of his family to the virus. More sanguine is Malcolm (Jason Clarke), who spearheads a project to recover the city’s electricity by regaining control of the O’Shaughnessy Dam. That entails encroaching on the forested domain of the neighboring ape community, still ruled with a firm but hairy hand by Caesar; with relations between man and ape already fragile, this violation throws fuel on the flames of civil unrest.
Though Caesar responds to the diplomatic overtures of Malcolm and his medic wife, Ellie (Keri Russell), and grants them limited access to the dam, not all his subjects approve. Particularly irate is Koba (Toby Kebbell), a hot-headed, human-hating ape with mutinous designs on his leader’s position; when an equivalently reactionary member of Malcolm’s party is revealed to have broken Caesar’s “no guns” condition of cooperation, the resulting furor gives Koba the impetus to launch his aggressive counter-movement. (Sadly, the writers resist giving Caesar the line “Et tu, Koba?”) The script elegantly constructs its human and ape communities as opposed but markedly similar ecosystems, each one internally fractured along lines of relative tolerance toward the other.
The “Apes” franchise has always been a politically loaded one, and this latest entry states its left-wing credo in ways both allegorically implicit and bluntly direct. (You’d have to be pretty obtuse to miss the pro-gun-control subtext attached to misdeeds on both sides of the man-monkey battle.) While the previous film functioned as something of a cautionary tale against man’s destructive meddling with his environment, “Dawn” apportions blame a little more equally, as the beasts (introduced in a thrilling, technically jaw-dropping faceoff against a grizzly bear) are shown to be no less reckless an influence on the biosphere than their former superiors. “I always think ape better than human,” Caesar admits to Malcolm, his speech patterns having evolved rather rapidly even over the course of this film. “I see now how like them we are.” It’s a reverse epiphany that would have Jane Goodall in tears.
Regardless of whose side audiences might take, however, the fallout is inarguably spectacular. Reeves stages the ensuing crossfire in the human colony with much the same sense of kinetic panic he brought to the flipped monster-movie mechanics of “Cloverfield,” albeit with far more technical dazzle this time. With most of the below-the-line talent new to the franchise, “Dawn” has an aesthetic entirely distinct from that of “Rise,” with Michael Seresin’s antsy camerawork painting from a strikingly dank palette, and Michael Giacchino’s chorally embellished score occasionally evoking the grandeur of Howard Shore’s work on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The editing by William Hoy and Stan Salfas rotates multiple points of drama before hurtling into a too-busy finale that sells Oldman’s arc particularly short: Still, while nearly half an hour longer than its predecessor, the film certainly doesn’t feel it.
Naturally, though, the services of effects wizards Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon have been retained — and with even more astonishing results this time, with the enlarged population and evolved capabilities of the ape community (who can now ride horses, handle firearms and goodness knows what else) posing fresh logistical challenges that are seamlessly met. The fusion of the film’s motion-capture work with its sophisticated fight choreography is particularly staggering.
That Caesar’s community now seems so integrated and completely characterized is certainly due to Letteri and Lemmon’s magic, though much credit should also go to the actors behind the illusion. Serkis must by now be used to the superlatives heaped upon his agile fusion of performance and image in many a CGI spectacle, though he’s in particularly empathetic, emotionally specific form here; Kebbell’s brute physicality and wild-eyed animosity, meanwhile, burns through the digital disguise. Despite Clarke’s everyman likability and some reliably gonzo posturing from Oldman, the less hirsute ensemble seems a little bland by comparison. Perhaps the film’s on the side of the apes after all.
Film Review: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'
Reviewed at Moscow Film Festival (closer, noncompeting), June 27, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 130 MIN. 

A 20th Century Fox release and presentation of a Chernin Entertainment production in association with TSG Entertainment, Ingenious Media. Produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver. Executive producers, Thomas M. Hammel, Mark Bomback.
Directed by Matt Reeves. Screenplay, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback, based on characters created by Jaffa, Silver. Camera (color), Michael Seresin; editors, William Hoy, Stan Salfas; music, Michael Giacchino; production designer, James Chinlund; art director, Aaron Naaman Marshall; set decorator, Amanda Moss Serino; costume designer, Melissa Bruning; sound (Dolby Atmos), Ed White; supervising sound editors, Douglas Murray, Will Files; re-recording mixers, Andy Nelson, Files; senior visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri; visual effects supervisor, Dan Lemmon; visual effects, Weta Digital; stunt coordinators, Charles Croughwell, Marny Eng, Terry Notary; associate producer, Jennifer Teves; assistant director, Mathew Dunne; second unit directors, Brad Parker, Gary Powell; second unit camera, Gary Capo; casting, Debra Zane. 


Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Nick Thurston, Karin Konoval, Keir O'Donnell, Kevin Rankin. 

Variety by Guy Lodge Film Critic@guylodge June 28, 2014 | 08:45AM PT

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