Awkwafina to star in gambling drama

Awkwafina is set to play the world’s greatest female gambler in The Baccarat Machine. The Crazy Rich Asians actress, who recently won a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell, will portray Cheung Yin ‘Kelly’ Sun, the most successful female ga…

Awkwafina is set to play the world’s greatest female gambler in The Baccarat Machine.

The Crazy Rich Asians actress, who recently won a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell, will portray Cheung Yin ‘Kelly’ Sun, the most successful female gambler in modern history.

Based on Michael Kaplan’s article The Baccarat Machine, which was published in Cigar Aficionado magazine, the film will follow young Chinese woman Sun as she painstakingly develops talent and an obsession for payback.

With major casinos conspiring to bar her from their properties, Sun partners with the international “King of Poker” Phil Ivey in order to take down the system through subterfuge, ingenuity, and pure daring, resulting in one of the most ingenious legal gambling runs ever documented.

John Penotti and Charlie Corwin from SK Global, which is financing and producing the project, made the announcement on Wednesday. They also revealed Andy Bellin will be writing the script and Jeffrey Sharp will be producing. They are still in talks with potential directors and additional actors.

“We can’t think of a better way to start this project than by announcing that our friend Awkwafina has come on board,” Penotti said in a statement, according to Deadline and Variety. “She is uniquely equipped to bring Kelly to life onscreen and will infuse the role with genuine humour and humanity. Along with our partners at Sharp, we’re thrilled to bring this unbelievable story to the screen.”

SK Global previously worked with Awkwafina on Crazy Rich Asians, one of her breakout roles in 2018, along with Ocean’s 8. The actress, real name Nora Lum, was recently seen in Jumanji: The Next Level and is starring in new TV comedy series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, which she co-created.

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The Farewell and Uncut Gems win big at Independent Spirit Awards

The Farewell and Uncut Gems were the big winners at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California on Saturday.Robert De Niro presented the Best Feature honour to The Farewell, with writer/director Lulu Wang taking to the stage and usin…

The Farewell and Uncut Gems were the big winners at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California on Saturday.

Robert De Niro presented the Best Feature honour to The Farewell, with writer/director Lulu Wang taking to the stage and using her speech to address the lack of recognition for female filmmakers during awards season.

“There’s been a lot of conversation this year about how to encourage more women in film,” she said. “You don’t have to encourage women – there are lots of women making films and in film school. Shadow programmes are great but women need the job – just give them the frickin’ job.”

The Farewell won a second prize, with Zhao Shuzhen scoring the Best Supporting Female award.

However, Uncut Gems came away with the most trophies with three – Adam Sandler for Best Male Lead, brothers Benny and Josh Safdie for Director, as well as Best Editing.

Sandler addressed his Oscars snub as he accepted his award.

“I’d like to give a shout-out to my fellow nominees, who will forever be known as the guys who lost to f**king Adam Sandler,” he joked. “You know, a few weeks back, when I was ‘snubbed by the Academy’, it reminded me when I briefly attended high school and was overlooked for the coveted yearbook superlative category, Best Looking.

“But my classmates did honour me with the allegedly less-prestigious designation of Best Personality. And tonight, as I look around this room, I realised the Independent Spirit Awards are the Best Personality awards of Hollywood.”

Renee Zellweger added to her 2019/2020 awards season haul, scoring the Best Female Lead honour for Judy, while Willem Dafoe picked up the Best Supporting Male gong for The Lighthouse.

The full list of winners at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards is as follows:

Best Feature: The Farewell

Best First Feature: Booksmart

Best Female Lead: Renee Zellweger, Judy

Best Male Lead: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

Best Supporting Male: Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

Best Supporting Female: Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

Robert Altman Award: Marriage Story

Best Director: Benny & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems

Best Screenplay: Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Best First Screenplay: Fredrica Bailey & Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday

Best Editing: Benny Safdie & Ronald Bronstein, Uncut Gems

Best Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse

Best International Film: Parasite

Best Documentary: American Factory

John Cassavetes Award: Give Me Liberty

Producers Award: Mollye Asher

Someone to Watch Award: Rashaad Ernesto Green, director of Premature

Truer Than Fiction Award: Nadia Shihab, director of Jaddoland

The Bonnie Award: Kelly Reichardt, American Factory

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Carey Mulligan calls for overhaul of Oscars voting system

Carey Mulligan has called for an overhaul of the Oscars voting system as she believes it’s “not working”.The British actress discussed the all-male Best Director nominees at the upcoming Academy Awards during an interview at the Variety Studio at the S…

Carey Mulligan has called for an overhaul of the Oscars voting system as she believes it’s “not working”.

The British actress discussed the all-male Best Director nominees at the upcoming Academy Awards during an interview at the Variety Studio at the Sundance Film Festival.

Sharing her disappointment at the lack of acknowledgement for female-directed films such as Little Women, Hustlers and The Farewell, Mulligan said the voting system is “not working” and suggested that every member of the Academy should have to prove they have seen “every single” eligible film.

“I don’t think you can watch those films and not think they deserve recognition,” the 34-year-old explained. “I think they need to be watched. I wonder if the system works in terms of getting sent 100 screeners. Maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to vote unless you can prove you’ve seen every single one. There should be a test. The films that did get left out are indisputably brilliant.”

Mulligan told reporters that while it was positive the movies were getting made by female directors, it was only “baby steps” and more action needed to be taken to get women recognised for their achievements.

“People simply aren’t seeing these films because I think if they did they would be moved to vote for them. The system doesn’t work. For a film like Hustlers and a performance like Jennifer Lopez’s, (if it) can’t get recognised then something’s not working,” she said, noting the star’s surprising snub from the Best Supporting Actress category.

“And Greta Gerwig, again producing an incredible film and not getting recognition as a director, there’s just something that needs fixing but I’m not the smart person to fix it,” the Oscar-nominated actress concluded.

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Awkwafina makes history with Golden Globes win

Awkwafina made history when she won the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy prize at the 2020 Golden Globes on Sunday night. The Crazy Rich Asians actress, real name Nora Lum, beat Knives Out’s Ana de Armas, Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein, Late Night’s …

Awkwafina made history when she won the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy prize at the 2020 Golden Globes on Sunday night.

The Crazy Rich Asians actress, real name Nora Lum, beat Knives Out’s Ana de Armas, Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein, Late Night’s Emma Thompson, and Cate Blanchett for Where’d You Go, Bernadette to win the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical prize for her role in The Farewell.

With her win, the 31-year-old became the first person of Asian descent to win that category and win a lead actress Golden Globe for a film.

No Asian woman had ever been nominated in the category until last year, when her Crazy Rich Asians co-star Constance Wu landed on the shortlist and was subsequently beaten by Olivia Colman for The Favourite. At the 2019 awards ceremony, Sandra Oh became the first Asian to win Best Actress in a TV show for Killing Eve.

First-time nominee Awkwafina, whose father is Chinese-American and late mother was South Korean, acknowledged her historic win backstage by saying, “I just heard that fact and it was pretty mind-blowing. There’s also this other feeling that you want there to be more, and I hope this is just the beginning.”

In her acceptance speech, Awkwafina joked to the star-studded audience at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles, “This is great. If I ever fall on hard times, I’m gonna sell this, so that’s great.

“I’ve never been to the Golden Globes, so I’m here now and it’s this and it’s great. Most importantly, to Lulu Wang, our incredible director. You gave me this chance, this chance of a lifetime and taught me so much.”

She dedicated the award to her father, praised her paternal grandmother, whom she described as her “best friend”, and thanked her late mum, commenting that she “always hoped was watching from somewhere above and I hope she’s watching now.”

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Marriage Story dominates Gotham Awards

Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama Marriage Story was the big winner at the 2019 Gotham Awards on Monday night. The Netflix film, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as an estranged couple going through a cross-country divorce, won four prizes, for…

Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama Marriage Story was the big winner at the 2019 Gotham Awards on Monday night.

The Netflix film, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as an estranged couple going through a cross-country divorce, won four prizes, for Best Feature, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and the Audience Award.

During his multiple trips to the stage at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, Baumbach thanked Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos for financing his movie and his cast.

“My special effect is the cast,” he said during his final acceptance speech, according to Deadline. “I hide behind them. When I was cutting the movie, I felt like it was not mine anymore. It was theirs. That’s the greatest gift any director can get.”

Another big winner was Awkwafina, who won Best Actress for her first dramatic role in The Farewell, about a young American who returns to China to tend to her ailing grandmother.

Failing to hide her surprise at the podium, she told the audience, “Holy s**t! Oh my God, I didn’t write anything, and they were like, ‘You should write something!’ Oh my God. I never won anything. I can’t even win an argument in the Instagram comments… I would like to thank grandmas everywhere for spoiling us, for loving us and for believing us.”

During the ceremony, hosted by the Independent Filmmakers Project, American Factory won Best Documentary, Taylor Russell won Breakthrough Actor for his performance in Waves and Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre won the Breakthrough Director Award for The Mustang.

In the TV categories, the winners were PEN15 and When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s drama about the Central Park Five case, meaning Netflix won six of the night’s 10 awards.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Best Feature – Marriage Story

Audience Award – Marriage Story

Best Screenplay – Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story

Best Actor – Adam Driver, Marriage Story

Best Actress – Awkwafina, The Farewell

Best Documentary – American Factory

Breakthrough Actor – Taylor Russell, Waves

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award – Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre, The Mustang

Breakthrough Series (Short Form) – PEN15

Breakthrough Series (Long Form) – When They See Us

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Awkwafina felt insecure crying onscreen for The Farewell

Awkwafina felt insecure about crying in her new film The Farewell but it ended up becoming a very emotional experience.The star, real name Nora Lum, made her film breakthrough in 2018 with roles in comedies Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, but she pr…

Awkwafina felt insecure about crying in her new film The Farewell but it ended up becoming a very emotional experience.

The star, real name Nora Lum, made her film breakthrough in 2018 with roles in comedies Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, but she proves her dramatic acting chops in The Farewell, a drama about a Chinese family who doesn’t tell the matriarch she’s dying and instead throws her one last hurrah.

In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Awkwafina confessed she was self-conscious about getting upset onscreen when they started filming, but once she got fully into her character Billi, her emotions ran wild.

“It was extremely emotional. At the start of filming, I was insecure about crying. But when I got into it and thought about what this girl was going through, it felt very real,” she shared.

The rapper-turned-actress was born in New York to a Chinese-American father and South Korean mother, and the role helped her understand the Asian perspective on the dilemma.

“During the transformation into my character, Billi, I really grappled with the idea of not telling someone about their own medical condition,” Awkwafina explained. “As an American, it seemed very wrong to me at first. But as Asian people, we have an undying reverence for our elders, and when you think about it as a communication of love, respect, and generosity, you realise that it’s complicated, layered, and very profound. I think this role helped me understand it.”

Awkwafina credits films such as Crazy Rich Asians with helping movies like The Farewell get made and for helping Asian-American actors get more work.

“Asian-American actors have told me that before Crazy Rich Asians they couldn’t get one audition. Now they’re getting tons,” she commented.

The Farewell is in U.S. cinemas now and will open in the U.K. in October.

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