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February 6, 2014 | By Timothy M. Phelps
On a straight party-line vote Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved civil rights lawyer Debo Adegbile's nomination to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Adegbile, a longtime voting-rights specialist for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, had drawn opposition, in particular from Philadelphia officials, because of his representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop-killer there. The Fraternal Order of Police called the nomination “a thumb in the eye of our nation's law enforcement officers.” Other law enforcement groups, the police officer's widow and, most recently, Philadelphia Dist.
February 6, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, is an experienced litigator and specialist in civil rights law. In a rational world, he would receive unanimous confirmation. But as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on his nomination, Adegbile faces opposition from conservatives who don't like his legal philosophy and a law enforcement group that won't forgive him for participating in the appeal of a man convicted of killing a police officer.
February 6, 2014 | By Lisa Rosen
Hollywood loves a Cinderella story, and few have ever fit that shoe better than Barkhad Abdi. The actor, who played Somali pirate leader Muse in the Paul Greengrass film "Captain Phillips" to great acclaim, was born in Mogadishu. He recalls an idyllic childhood there, making and flying kites and playing marbles, until the age of 7, when civil war broke out in Somalia. He and his family fled to Yemen, where his father was already working as a teacher. Seven years later, they immigrated to the U.S., joining a vibrant Somali community in Minneapolis.
February 6, 2014 | By Michael Ordoña
In "Nebraska," 84-year-old June Squibb's Kate Grant is plain-spoken to a fault. Which is a nice way of saying she has reached an age at which she simply doesn't care what anyone thinks. Her brazen negativity can be off-putting at first. "At the beginning, you're not sure if you like her or not. In fact, you don't like her. She's a bitch," says the Oscar-nominated Squibb with appropriate directness. "But as you get to know her more, you understand why she is the way she is. We do a lot of question-and-answers after screenings, and so many people say, 'Boy, I hated you in the beginning.
February 1, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
The 15 short films nominated for Oscars each year, five in each category - live action, animation and documentary - usually feel completely untethered to their longer siblings. But this year, the shorts, like the longs, are a serious, substantial bunch, with a great many international contenders among them. Oh, a little cheek slips in here and there. In "Get a Horse," director Lauren MacMullan takes a satirical swipe at the animation form itself by waging a 3-D-versus-2-D, color-versus-black-and-white debate with a little help from Mickey Mouse.
February 1, 2014 | By Mark Olsen
The Writers Guild of America honored Spike Jonze for his future-set love story "Her" with its award for original screenplay and Billy Ray for "Captain Phillips," the true story of a hijacking at sea, for adapted screenplay on Saturday night. The awards were announced during simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York. The original screenplay category matched up five-for-five in nominations with the Academy Awards, perhaps tipping the hand of what awards-watchers may expect to see at the Oscars in a few weeks.
January 31, 2014 | By Steven Zeitchik and Glenn Whipp
First the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences disqualified a song. Now it could be facing the music. For the first time in its history, the academy this week revoked an Oscar nomination on ethical grounds, citing improper campaigning by the composer of "Alone Yet Not Alone," which would have been one of the five contenders for original song at this year's Oscars. But the action has prompted criticism that the academy has cracked down on a small movie that can't compete with big-budget Oscar campaigns mounted by studios.
January 30, 2014 | By Steven Zeitchik and Glenn Whipp
It was always a long shot. Now, an Oscar nominee for best original song has no shot at all. In a startling turn, the Motion Picture Academy has revoked the nomination of "Alone Yet Not Alone," the song from a faith-based movie of the same name, citing improper actions by one of the songwriters. Bruce Broughton, who penned the song's music, also serves on the executive committee of the academy's music branch, whose members vote on the song nominations. The academy said Broughton improperly emailed members of the branch during the voting period, urging them to listen to "Alone Yet Not Alone.
January 30, 2014 | By Martin Tsai
Only one Academy Award nominee in the live-action short film category truly merits the win. Following a battered woman and her children's escape from her abuser, "Just Before Losing Everything" ticks for half an hour as if it could explode at any moment. Actor Xavier Legrand's directorial debut draws on a conceivable scenario and booby-traps it with entirely plausible hurdles. Glimpses of the woman's bruises and a little one's screaming substantiate the high stakes. Claw your armrests.
January 30, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
When the Academy Award nominations are announced, there are often surprises, sometimes including an underdog or two that may have burrowed their way into a finalist slot. It's rare, however, to find nominees who haven't been significantly promoted to Oscar voters or widely written about by award prognosticators. As with every year, 2013 had its share of smaller, indie or under-the-radar releases with elements perhaps as strong as some of their more ballyhooed brethren. But without the marketing muscle (read: money)
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