Four years ago, Terence Winter and legendary film director Martin Scorsese began collaborating together on the exquisite gangster series Boardwalk Empire. The show, which focuses on the story of criminal Nucky Thompson’s control over Atlantic City during the 1920s, has been a renowned hit for HBO but like so many great television series, it all must come to end. Granted Boardwalk has suffered a little with its final run being reduced to eight episodes compared to the usual thirteen but we can blame those darn (expensive!) dragons from Game of Thrones for that! Nevertheless, Boardwalk can hold its head up high as one of the best series of the past decade especially for merging such an extraordinary cast and the carefully-mastered production design. With the final epsidoe due to screen in the States tomorrow evening, below are my five favourite moments!

“You can’t be half a gangster, Nucky. Not anymore.”

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#5 – “I ain’t building no bookcase.”

Known to many of us for his memorable role as Omar Little in HBO’s The Wire, Michael Kenneth Williams further enhanced his reputation as a bad-ass actor with his effective turn as black gangster boss Chalky White. While it was hard for many African-American people to cope in prohibition-era America, Chalky clearly wasn’t fazed by racial discrimination especially when sharing scenes with the titular character Nucky. But when the KKK begin to cause problems in a series one episode, he takes it upon himself to kidnap the leader and deliver a mesmerising monologue about his father’s own misfortunes with the group before preparing to torture him. Chalky’s coming yo!

 

#4 – Manny kills Angela Darmondy

While many Boardwalk fans were gutted to see the popular Jimmy Darmondy (Michael Pitt) get killed off in the series two finale, it was the murder of his wife Angela a couple of episodes previously which shocked me more. Though she wasn’t particularly memorable, she was one of the few characters to add some soul to the show amongst its violence and deceit. Her demise came during a pinnacle moment when vicious Jewish butcher Manny Horvitz (an underrated William Forsythe) turned up at the Darmondy household with the intention of killing Jimmy via Nucky’s instructions. But after mistakenly shooting Angela’s secret lesbian lover, he had no choice but to kill her too in cold-blooded fashion. Poor young Tommy became an orphan in the space of a couple of televised hours!
 

#3 – Eli vs. Agent Knox

Boardwalk Empire had a lot of well-choreographed fight scenes which included Nucky vs Eli, Chalky vs. Dunn Pursley and more recently, Van Alden vs Capone. But perhaps the most intense of those came in the series four finale where Eli found himself engaged in a brutal showdown with psychotic FBI Agent Knox (Brian Geraghty). With Knox threatening to have Eli’s son placed in prison and gloating about it, this proved a step too fear for the younger Thompson sibling as he finally decided to tackle his foe in hand-to-hand combat. Given the amount of twists that the show was famed for, there were many Eli fans fearing the worst for him at certain parts of the scuffle. Thankfully this breathtaking sequence ended with Knox being strangled to death but would ultimately lead to Eli facing exile. These dark American shows sure love their fight scenes!

 

#2 – Van Alden goes nuts with an iron

This well-judged series succeeded in attracting many established actors to appear on the show as well as giving underrated ones a chance to shine. That was the case for Michael Shannon who made the role of crazed FBI Agent Nelson Van Alden his own. His deranged facial expressions and calm posture made him a fans favourite on the show even when the character found himself on the run at the end of series two. The following year saw him try to rebuild his life with a new family and a new identity but a crappy job as a salesman proved to be an unsatisfying experience. This explosive moment (which put me off ironing!) sees him snap completely when a cocky colleague taunts him about his shoddy performances in work and at home which results in the poor bugger getting scalded by an iron. Shannon is simply outstanding in this scene as he unleashes his fury on those who’ve taunted him. If ever an actor is needed for a scary role, this is your guy!
 

#1 – Richard’s botched assassination / death

The greatest moment of Boardwalk Empire is one that produces sheer heartbreak for one character and an emotional farewell for another in the space of several minutes. In the Season 4 finale, Chalky enlists help from Nucky in taking revenge on Doctor Narcisse (a menacing Jeffrey Wright) by staging an assassination at his nightclub. As the two men exchange words at their table, the useful Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) prepares to shoot Narcisse from the curtains with his rifle but a hesitant moment proves tragic when he accidentally kills Chalky’s daughter Mabel. Chalky’s devastated reaction says it all and amidst the panic, Harrow is wounded whilst escaping from the club. As he hides away on the beach, he dreams about reuniting with his family in Wisconsin but it proves to be a fool’s hope as the final shot shows him lying dead, his mask having fallen off. Harrow became an unlikely favourite amongst Boardwalk fans and many rooted for him to find happiness but sadly it wasn’t to be. However the entire duration of this show shows how calculating and unmerciful a show like this could be!

Farewell Boardwalk Empire, you will be greatly missed!

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The world’s greatest team of superheroes are about to reignite their collaboration following the grand success of their previous outing in 2012.

Marvel’s iconic team of Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner / Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) all return for the first official trailer for the upcoming superhero sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Marvel themselves were forced to release the preview earlier following a leak on Youtube last night. Hydra are said to be responsible….

Directed once again by Joss Whedon, the follow-up sees the group having to overcome a dangerous new enemy in the form of the robotic Ultron (played by The Blacklist’s James Spader).

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Further trouble also comes in the form of mutant siblings Quicksilver, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Godzilla), and Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Oldboy) as the pair are brought in by Ultron to assist him in his quest to destroy Earth.

Franchise regulars Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are also back for the sequel with Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) making his Marvel debut as an unspecified character.

Age of Ultron will be released in the UK on April 24th 2015.

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Actor and entertainer Neil Patrick Harris has landed the lucrative gig of hosting the 87th Annual Academy Awards.

The four-time Tony Awards host has been confirmed to present the 2015 ceremony which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 22nd 2015.

On being given the job, Harris wrote a statement saying:

“It is truly an honour and a thrill to be asked to host this year’s Academy Awards. I grew up watching the Oscars and was always in such awe of some of the greats who hosted the show. To be asked to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, and everyone else who had the great fortune of hosting is a bucket list dream come true.”

Additional words came from Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron who said:

“We are thrilled to have Neil host the Oscars. We have known him his entire adult life, and we have watched him explode as a great performer in feature films, television and stage. To work with him on the Oscars is the perfect storm, all of his resources and talent coming together on a global stage.”

Harris is known to most people for his leading role as Ted Mosby in the recently-ended CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother as well as his Tony Award duties.

However he has also enjoyed a fine year on the big-screen with key performances in Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West and the current box-office smash Gone Girl.

The 41-year old will be following in the footsteps of another homosexual host in Ellen DeGeneres who has helmed the ceremony twice.

The brilliant Gone Girl is currently dominating at the box-office and is already being touted for Oscar success.

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Loyal fans of the hit BBC sitcom Dad’s Army may be on the verge of panicking after today’s big news.

It has been revealed that a renowned cast of British actors have been chosen to play the popular platoon members for a new-look film.

Helmed by Oliver Parker (St Trinians, Johnny English Reborn) and written by comedian Hamish McColl (Mr Bean’s Holiday), the reboot’s acting ensemble can be seen in the gallery below with the new actors placed next to their predecessors.

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As confirmed back in April, BAFTA-winning actors Toby Jones (Infamous, The Girl) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean series) will tackle the iconic roles of the authoritative Captain George Mainwaring and the polite Sergeant Arthur Wilson respectively.

The part of the bumbling Lance Corporal Jack Jones will be played by veteran Tom Courtenay (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Dresser) while fellow vet Michael Gambon (Harry Potter series, The King’s Speech) will portray the kind-hearted Private Charles Godrey.

The rest of the main platoon is completed by Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison as the naive Private Frank Pike, Daniel Mays (Atonement, Mrs Biggs) as the wheeling-dealing Private Joe Walker and Bill Paterson (Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Law and Order) as the moody Scot Private James Frazier.

There is also a surprise role in the film for Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro, Chicago) as a glamourous journalist named Rose while additional support comes from Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Game of Thrones), Sarah Lancashire (Coronation Street, Happy Valley), Alison Steadman (Life is Sweet, Gavin and Stacey) and Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave, Calender Girls).

The new Dad’s Army film will begin shooting in Yorkshire next month with a late 2015 release being targeted.

I think it’s safe to say that “we’re doomed” by the prospect of this reboot!

66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room

Almost a year since its epic conclusion, AMC’s critically-acclaimed series Breaking Bad looks to have concluded its award success after it scooped five wins at last night’s Emmy Awards ceremony.

The show, which charts the journey of cancer-stricken chemistry teacher-turned-drugs kingpin Walter White, clinched the coveted Outstanding Drama Series award ahead of other much-lauded competitors like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and the gritty True Detective.

Bryan Cranston won his fourth Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series gong for his powerful role as Walt overcoming stiff opposition from True Detective duo Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

His co-stars Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) and Anna Gunn (Skyler White) secured wins in the Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories. The former beat off the likes of Peter Dinklage (GOT) and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan) while the latter overcame Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt and Dame Maggie Smith.

Julia Marguiles triumphed in a tough Outstanding Actress in a Drama category overcoming two-time winner Claire Danes (Homeland), Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Kerry Washington (Scandal) amongst others.

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In the comedy section, Modern Family continued its Emmy dominance with victory in the Outstanding Comedy Series category ahead of Orange is the New Black and Veep. Star Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy) also enjoyed success in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy beating off pressure from co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell Pritchard).

Julia Louis Dreyfus added another Emmy to her collection as she triumphed in the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as long-suffering vice president Selina Kyle in the political sitcom Veep.

There was also more Emmy glory for Jim Parsons as he won Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for his humorous performance as the nerdy Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. His stern competition included Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Louis CK (Louis) and British comedian Ricky Gervais (Derek).

Veteran performer Alison Janney was named Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anna Faris’ mother in the sitcom Mom.

In the television movie categories, the AIDs related drama The Normal Heart won the Outstanding TV Movie accolade ahead of Sherlock while the television-version of Fargo clinched the Outstanding TV Miniseries award.

Sherlock did manage to achieve some joy for its actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the pair won the Lead and Supporting Actor gongs for their performances in the acclaimed British series.

Finally, Oscar-winning actresses Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates landed double success in the female categories as the female duo won for their performances in American Horror Story.

The official list of winners are below.

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad

Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Juliana Marguiles – The Good Wife

Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad

Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad

Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad

Comedy Series
Modern Family

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Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep

Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Jim Parsons – Big Bang Theory

Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Alison Janney – Mom

Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Ty Burrell – Modern Family

Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie
The Normal Heart

Lead Actor In A TV Miniseries Or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock

Lead Actress In A TV Miniseries Or Movie
Jessica Lange – American Horror Story

Supporting Actor In A TV Miniseries Or Movie
Martin Freeman – Sherlock

Supporting Actress In A TV Miniseries Or Movie
Kathy Bates – American Horror Story

1923-2014

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“I believe we need heroes…we need certain people who we can measure our own shortcomings by.”

Lord Richard Attenborough, the Oscar-winning actor and filmmaker of such prestige films like The Great Escape, Gandhi and Jurassic Park, has died at the age of 90.

His death was announced yesterday by his son Michael, having spent the last six years of his life living in a nursing home.

Born in Cambridge in 1923, he began acting at the age of just 12 and eventyally made his first screen appearance as a young stoker in the naval drama In Which We Serve (1942).

Five years later, his career breakthrough came in his chilling portrayal of young criminal Pinkie in the British crime thriller Brighton Rock (1947).

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The role won him mass acclaim and he ultimately gained traction over the next twenty years with other memorable screen performances like Lt. Richard Lexey in The League of Gentlemen (1960), Bartlett “Big X” in the renowned war epic The Great Escape (1963), Lew Moran in Flight of the Phoenix (1965) and Albert Blossom in Doctor Doolittle (1967).

In between all that, he clinched a Best British Actor BAFTA award for his joint roles in Guns at Batasi (1965) and Seance on a Wet Afternoon (’65).

Attenborough then made his directional debut in 1969 with the war musical Oh What a Lovely War! before producing another terrifying acting role as British murderer John Christie in the crime drama 10 Rillington Place (1971).

His directing career then stepped up in the 70s with the historical biopic Young Winston (1972), which charted the life of British prime minster Winston Churchill before following that up with the war epic A Bridge Too Far (1977), a film that bolsters one of the best ensemble casts in film history.

He then took a fourteen year break from acting to continue his film-making and ended up receiving mass acclaim for his epic biopic Gandhi (1982), which depicted the extraordinary life of another historical figure, Mohandas K. Gandhi.

The film clinched a massive eight Oscar wins including Best Picture and Best Director for Attenborough as well as garnering a record-breaking sixteen BAFTA nominations (for which the 60 year old would receive the BAFTA Fellowship).

He then helmed more true-life stories in the form of Cry Freedom (1987) and the Charlie Chaplin biopic Chaplin (1992), the latter of which starred Robert Downey Jr in his best on-screen performance to date.

The now-veteran filmmaker finally came out of acting retirement to take on the popular role of dinosaur professor John Hammond in Steven Spielberg’s prehistoric blockbuster Jurassic Park (1993).

That same year also saw him direct the romantic drama Shadowlands, which starred Anthony Hopkins as real-life author C.S Lewis. He then followed that up with another memorable role as Kris Kringle, a man who insists that he is the real Santa Claus, in the Christmas film remake A Miracle on 34th Street (1993).

In his later years, Attenborough mostly featured in TV productions with his final cinematic contribution being his directing of the romantic drama Closing the Ring (2007).

Throughout his remarkable life, he was appointed a CBE in 1967 and knighted nine years later in 1976, before being made a life peer in 1993.

He was also well known for his brotherly bond with sibling David, Britain’s greatest animal expert.

There was tragedy in his life too when his elder daughter Jane Holland, her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the south Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.

Attenborough is survived by his actress wife of 64 years, Shelia Sim.

1924-2014

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“I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.”

Lauren Bacall, the renowned actress and former wife of cinematic legend Humphrey Bogart, has died at the grand old age of 89.

Remembered by many for her husky voice and sexual looks, the award-winning legend suffered a stroke in her Manhattan home on Tuesday morning.

The Humphrey Bogart Estate announced her passing via its Facebook page:

“With deep sorrow for the magnitude of our loss, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life, we confirm the passing of Lauren Bacall.”

Born in the Bronx in 1924, Bacall made her big break in films at the age of 19 when she starred alongside her future husband Bogart in the 1944 thriller To Have and Have Not.

The role was made memorable by her iconic line “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together, and blow.”

The pair then married in 1945 before reuniting for an even more acclaimed film in the shape of the crime-thriller The Big Sleep (1946), in which Bacall played the role of Vivian Rutledge.

They then starred in a third film together in Key Largo (1948) which was their final on-screen collaboration before Bogart’s death in 1957.

During the 50s, Bacall also had the distinct pleasure of working alongside other legendary stars like Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Gregory Peck in Designing Women (1957).

She went on to marry future two-time Oscar winning actor Jason Robards in 1961 with their marriage ending in 1969.

From then on, her roles became more or less memorable though she did feature in renowned films like Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Shootist (1976) and the brilliant Misery (1990).

After a career spanning fifty years, Bacall finally received major awards recognition when she clinched a Best Supporting Actress award at the Golden Globes for her performance as Barbara Streisand’s bitchy mother in the romantic drama The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996).

She also received her sole Oscar nomination for the role and was seen as the sentimental favourite to win it only to lose out to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient (’96).

Towards the end of her long career, she went on to star in Nicole Kidman films Dogville (2003) and Birth (2004) and also made a cameo as herself in the acclaimed TV series The Sopranos.

She also lent her voice to animated productions like Howl’s Moving Castle (2003) and Ernest and Celestine (2012) with her final ever role being the voice of Peter Griffin’s elderly admirer in Family Guy.

In 2009, Bacall deservedly received an Honorary Oscar for her outstanding contribution to the golden age of cinema over the past seventy years of her life.

The actress had two children with Bogart, Stephen and Leslie, and one child with Jason, Sam.