a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for May, 2012

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” One of the Best Movies of the Year!

Everything Oscar Goddess, Cannes diarist and predictress extraordinaire Sasha Stone said about “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is true. And it deserves all the acclaim that has been heaped upon it, and there will be more to come. MUCH more.It’s one of the best, most original films of the year. Best Screenplay Nomination. Adapted. It’s based on a book.

And I’ll write more about it later. And that little   girl! OMG! A magnificent, wholly original achievement! And the director is only 23 years old! ^faints*

In other news, just saw Academy Award winner the fabulous Estelle Parsons pre-theater-ing it at the Edison Cafe. She called me “dear”. *faints again*

And THEN as I was leaving the building, I ran right into Lydia Bastianich of the Food Channel and PBS’s Italian Cooking with Lydia (or Lydia’s Kitchen) and said “I love your show! I watch it all the time!” And I do. She said, “Thank you” rather stunned that she was being recognized.

There are stars everywhere in New York! I’m so lucky to live here!

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Oscar Gets “Amour”

Well, this certainly is news! Austria has decided that “Amour” is going to be its’ official submission to the Best Foreign Film race this coming Oscar season. Since it’s by a German director, who I LOVE, Michael Haneke, and maybe it’s German-Austrian financed although the two octogenarian leads,  who are winning raves, act in French, this makes “Amour” kosher. And definitely eligible for a Best Foreign Film nomination and perhaps win.

This is despite Jeffrey Wells at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com not liking a whole hell of a lot.

And to top that off Sony Pictures Classics is deciding to open it in Dec. RIGHT in the heat of the Oscar season. I know, I know. It’s freezing in New York at that time of year, and this is hardly your Christmas-y picture. But SPC, as I’ll now call them, are throwing down the Oscar gauntlet(is that a mixed metaphor?) going full court press with this one.

Although Michael Haneke only gives interviews in German, and the two stars are yes-for-real are in their 80s. But have Oscar buzz will travel. So we’ll be seeing them, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva stateside around the holidays. Or at least I will be seeing them, I hope, in their press tour.

I love SPC’s taste in movies. Last year,  they had “Midnight in Paris” and while it got a bunch of nominations in many categories and won in Best Original Screenplay, they did not move any of the many wonderful performers in that movie from the sidelines to center stage. Like for instance, Corey Stoll as Hemingway, Marion Cotillard as the Muse of many centuries and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein. Not to mention Owen Wilson’s, astonishing lead performance and Rachel McAdams as his blonde bitch of a fiancée.

Although Owen did get a Golden Globe nomination in the Musical or Comedy category, he lost out to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” And who could’ve stopped THAT express train once it left the station???

I can’t stand Wes Anderson movies, so I only go to them, if dragged so I haven’t seen “Moonrise Kingdom” yet. But I guess I’ll have to at some point. I hate when straight men try to do camp. Which is basically what his great “Style” is. Stolen from the Homosexual Handbook. I ought to know. I helped write it back in The Day.

And tomorrow I’m actually going to see “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  I’ll let you know if I think all the who-ha at Sundance and Cannes was justified.

L.A. Times thinks Grant Hedlund’s an Oscar Contender

So now the L.A. Times’ chimes in with just who or what is in or out of the Oscar race as defined(very early, perhaps TOO early) by Cannes.

And while they do mention Michael Haneke’s “Amour” quite a lot, there is that pesky matter of him being German and the film being shot in France in French with French actors. Dollars to donuts France doesn’t submit it to the Academy as its’ official entry this year. Each country, in case you don’t know, only gets ONE submission per Oscar season and I still say “Of Rust and Bone”, “The Intouchables” and”Farewell, My Queen” which are thoroughly French through and through, are the more likely candidates, despite “Amour”s Palme d’Or win.

And again the two great Octogenarian actors could get nominated for Best Actor and Actress. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.

What surprised me about the L.A. Times’ article was that they singled out Grant Hedlund of “On the Road” as worthy of consideration, while not mentioning Marion Cotillard for “Of Rust and Bone” at all….Hmmm…

They are right there IN Hollywood, so they are like a local paper…But Hedlund has been proclaimed by many as the main reason “On the Road” doesn’t really work….Hmmm….

icelandic Film Festival at Film Society of Lincoln Center

I have always been enthralled by Icelandic Cinema, and also dismayed by the almost complete lack of attention paid to it state-side. But the American glacier of indifference is slowly melting as evidenced by the historic Icelandic retrospective of films recently on display by the enterprising Film Society of Lincoln Center, which just had a very big spring with their Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in March.
Scheduled directly opposite the Tribecca Film Fest downtown,  this terrific retrospective tribute was struggling to gain media attention, and also public attention. But the films are very, very good, some of them unforgettable, and attention must be paid.
I was fortunate to have been in Reykjavik twice in its’ banner season of 1999-2000, when Baltasar Kormakur who is now one of the main forces in Icelandic cinema, had his first film “101 Reykjavik” a GLBT comedy/romance about lesbian marriage starring Spain’s Victoria Abril, open to record-breaking box-office attendance in Iceland.
Baltasar was also starring in the true Icelandic legend Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Angels of the Universe” as a stuttering madman who thinks he is a Beatle.
The Film Society proclaimed “Angels of the Universe” as “Fridriksson’s masterpiece” having seen the film four or five times now over the years(once without English subtitles!) I can only heartily concur.
“Angels” is a haunting, beautifully rendered cry of great pain from the great heart of Fridriksson as he charts the downward spiral of schizophrenia in the true story of his best friend’s brother. Based on Einar Gudmundsson’s prize-winning book, its’ a compassionate, violent and also very funny look at Iceland’s attitude towards the insane. Ingvar Sigurdsson’s Pall is wrenchingly memorable as the central character who longs to paint or play music or SOMEthing, before his world fades inevitably to black.
And  the asylum he is sent to is almost a respite from the endless white noise in his head. There he encounters Baltasar Kormakur’s crazed/shy Beatles’ maniac, who stutters and strums his way into the viewers heart with an Icelandic “Hey Jude.” Kormakur utterly captivates the audience as he befriends the friendless Pall, who doesn’t seem insane to him at all.
The scene where they, on an illicit afternoon out, end up having the most expensive and delicious dinner of their lives at the Hotel Holt (yes, the Hotel Holt. I must be Icelandic going back centuries…) and then getting arrested when they, of course, try to walk out on their bill, It’s a hilarious set-piece and also heart-breaking as you realize this will never ever again happen in their imprisoned lives.
And there  is the suicide of another chain-smoking inmate played memorably by Hylmir Snaer Gudnsasson. Who was also the star of Baltasar’s “101 Reykjavik.”
And did I mention Baltasar was also directing “Midsummer’s Night Dream” at the National Theatre of Iceland while starring in another production there of “A Doll’s House.”? He’s a one-man Icelandic powerhouse.
Iceland also produces incredibly talented and versatile actors, by the dozens(literally) who populate the films in “Images” from the Edge” over and over again. In a country which now has a population of 320,000, there is a lot of artistic overlap, and because of the small size of its’ vibrant and highly creative film and theater community, actors are expected to be as skilled at drama, and comedy, and even musicals.And they are. Because if they want to work constantly, they have to be.
Baltasar Kormakur also proved a vital action hero in this festival’s “Reykjavik Rotterdam”(2008) directed by Oskar Jonasson. It’s a pulse pounding thriller, which had the highest audience turn-out so far at Lincoln Center this Sunday. You’ll be familiar with this story of luckless drug smuggling sailors as Kormakur just directed Mark Wahlberg in its’ American language re-incarnation this spring. It was “Contraband” and it made # 1 at the box-office, the first time any Icelandic director has ever done this American hat-trick, and it has catapulted Kormakur into directing Wahlberg’s next feature starring him and Denzel Washington and Paula Patton now lensing in New Orleans.
In addition to Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s magnificent “Angels of the Universe”(2000),this towering almost -Viking figure, had THREE other films in the Festival, one of them “Rock in Reykjavik” from 1982, a doc on Iceland’s red-hot music scene, featuring a teen-aged Byork, in her then group called Tappi Tikarrass.Also “White Whales” (1987) and an installation in , off the main foyer of the Walter Reade Theater called “The Circle” or “Ring-Road” which looped constantly  in the Furman gallery, And hypnotized all who watched it as the camera,as Fridriksson described it, “moving at the speed of light” down Iceland’s all encompassing Hwy.No .1 which literally rings the island.
Set in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, this isolated volcanic island of poets, artists, actors and filmmakers touches the Arctic Circle. And anyone who seeks out any of these marvelous films(too numerous to mention here) will also be touched by this enchanted island’s magical allure. Iceland itself is always the main character in any of its’ films. I can’t wait to go back.
If only “Angels of the Universe” had been shown at the New York Film Festival when it was originally made in 2000! Now 12 years later, it’s getting its’ due But I was shocked to discover that no Icelandic film,  as EVER been shown in the prestigious NYFF. I think after this colossal “Images from the Edge” retrospective festival, things will be different in the future.
It ran through April 26.

Cannes ~ Correct Spellings of the New Actresses with Difficult Names

OK, so not to be remiss, these are the correct spellings of the new players, all of them actresses, interestingly enough, who have come to prominence since the Cannes Festival, which just wrapped up yesterday.

The extraordinary 6-year-old non-actress(who is now 8, I think) is Quvenzhane Wallis. I’m guessing that pronoucing it phonetically as best I can(my mother was an English teacher) that it’s Q-VENZ-HA-NAY. There’s an accent over the last “e”. And my keyboard doesn’t do accents. So she’s the star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” that Sasha is so sure will get a Best Actress nomination! That would really be something! And her father is played by Dwight Henry, who again Sasha of http://www.awardsdaily.com thinks could be a Best Supporting Actor candidate. Finally, the director/writer is young, 23-year-old Behn Zeitlins. And Sasha points out in her podcast this morning that no, he didn’t go to film school.

And she thinks that is the reason the film is so original. It opens soon, and can’t wait to see if it lives up to the Sundance/Cannes hype. Rarely do these two festivals agree with each other quite so completely as they do on this film. And Behn Zeitlins, Sasha thinks, will get a best director and best screenplay. Don’t know about Best Director. The Director’s branch has never nominated anyone THAT young. Original Screenplay, though, if indeed it is Original,is much more a distinct possibility. And that goes for adapted, too, if it’s based on something. I should know this but I don’t. Will research more later.

And the two new Best Actresses?They are Roumanian’s Cosima Stratan and Cristina Flutur in “Beyond the Hills”, the controversial film that Sasha reviewed, at http://www.awardsdaily.com and said she wished she hadn’t seen it. But admired its’ artistry, mais oui. I don’t know if Jeff Wells even saw it at all. It’s a lesbian/nun/exorcism/murder story set during the reign of the Roumanian dictator Ceaucescu.

Cristian Mungiu directed it. He won the Palme d’Or a few years back for his bleak,  heart-rending abortion drama “Four Months, Two Weeks, etc.”

Both Stratan and Flutur were claimed by Pete Hammond to be found by the director on the Internet. And since it now emerges that both are professional actresses who went to the same drama school, probably the only one, in Roumania, he could’ve found them acting in scenes on the school’s website. Just a guess.

More “Amour” & “Beasts”

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone is back in Hwood and she and Jeffrey Wells just put up their podcast Oscar Poker, now looking back on Cannes. And mostly “Amour.”

Sasha of http://www.awardsdaily.com loves it. And Jeff begrudgingly now has to say he “admires ” it, but says the film that just won the Palme d”Or in Cannes, made him want to commit suicide.

Ok, it’s about Death, he says, and Sasha says it’s about Love, with a capital “L.” Jean-Louis Trintignant is taking care of his dying wife of over 40 years, who does not want to go to a hospital and so he has to do everything for her that a hospital staff would. And he wants to. He doesn’t want to let her go. She looses her appetite. She has two strokes. And it won the Palme d’Or.

Sasha proclaims the film a classic. Jeff can barely bring himself to talk about it. But he does. With Sasha’s prodding. He’s in Prague on his way back to the States, and she’s in L.A.

She talks about her grandmother’s death, and how her father did not want to let her go, and…well, take a listen. Jeff and Sasha both go “there”  It’s very heavy. And profound, and reveals a lot about both bloggers.

Sasha also again avers her affection for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and that with Fox Searchlight’s help, she thinks it’s going to get Best Actress, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay nods. Jeff thought they’d put the little child in Best Supporting Actress since she’s only 6 years old in the film. Sasha thinks that that rule about putting child actors in  Supporting doesn’t apply anymore since the little girl in “Whale Rider” got a Best Actress nom.

But I say, look at the Coen Bros. next to last film, “True Grit” and remember where Haillee Stoddard ended up. In Supporting. And she lost there. To Melissa Leo for “The Fighter” a few years back. Leo made a big point of doing practically everything wrong on her road to the Oscar, but win it she did. But Haillee Stoddard has just vanished…so much for fame….and Hollywood’s 15 minutes rule…

Sasha also points out the way to be a success on the Internet is to constantly put up new material EVERY DAY. And more than once again, so that “The people reading your  site will go back and back, several times a day, like I do with Jeff’s site. I check it three times a day.” And so, I have to admit, do I. I go back to Awardsdaily multiple times a day. I check it almost as much as I do my own You Tube channel, and more than I do this blog.

But Sasha’s advice is to post CONSTANTLY. I haven’t been doing that. And I didn’t have a sympatico, working computer from March til May. I dropped my Toshiba and more or less broke it and now I have a new, nice, working Sony. I HOPE it stays so…

Jeff uses a Toshiba also, the top of the line one, and carries it with him everywhere and posts from everywhere. I don’t do that. Sasha seems to only post from her home/office. Except on the rare occasions that she travels to a film festival. Like to Cannes.

Me? I just do what I can. Who can do more? And thank to all my readers, cineastes all, who keep reading me now matter what, or how infrequently I post. Compared to Jeffrey and Sasha, I’m really a slug-a-bed.

I was GOING to try to go to “The Avengers” this AM, but both Sasha and Jeffrey were dumping on it so bad, I really wonder if I’ll get there…No Oscar chances anywhere on that film, they both agreed (And so does everyone else.) Me? I only do Oscar-seeking movies, and “The Avengers” is just all about money, the gigantic amount of money it has made. Doesn’t mean it’s going to get propelled into the Oscar race, both Jeff and Sasha agreed, so why bother? I’m talking myself out of going…

Can You Can Cannes? Some do. Some don’t.

As Cannes 2012 departs, it’s reverberations nevertheless will be felt throughout the Oscar season to come.

Pete Hammond of http://www.deadlinehollywood.com chimes in that he LIKED “Lawless” the Weinstein Australian gangster movie starring Shia LeBouef. Whereas Manohla Dargis of the New York Times  just dismissed it out right.

Jeffrey Wells was left with a WTF? reaction to the awards at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com and is taking three days off to recuperate.

Todd McCarthy, now at the Hollywood Reporter, felt the awards went where they should’ve gone, as did Dargis at the Times.

Hammond unearths a little known Cannes factoid that the two unknown Roumanian actresses, who are now unknown no longer, since they shared the Best Actress prize for Christian Mongiu’s lesbian nun story “Beyond the Hills” , were found by their director ON THE INTERNET! Now that should be uplifting news to a lot of aspiring actresses out there, that the Internet is now a career path.

Did they have websites I wonder? Just WHAT were they doing when Mongiu spotted them?

Another little know fact. If a film wins the Palme d’Or, the French equivalent of Best Picture, it can NOT win another major award, like for instance, say Best Actor or Actress.

And with the across-the-board acclaim of Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and the praise being heaped on 80-something stars Jean-Louis Trintingant and Emmanuelle Riva, they are both likely Oscar contenders for nominations, not wins. But who knows? I still think this film will not be nominated by the French, and the Austrians or Germans are unlikely to support a film that is in the French language.

Sony Pictures Classics already has this on the awards track. “Amour” is a must-see, no matter which way you slice it.

And Marion Cotillard’s “Of Rust and Bone” is being mentioned by all who have seen it as also a very likely Oscar contender for another nomination for Maid Marion. Having just won rather recently for “La Vie En Rose” acting in her own language, French, I wonder if that lightning would strike TWICE for her in another French film. The win, I mean, not the nomination. The nomination for Mlle. Cotillard seems almost a done deal and the only one that is emerging from Cannes.

Although there is also that American film, that opened Sundance “Beasts of the Southern Wild” which also won a major prize, for a first feature film, and is also a film that Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com kept commenting on in her famous Cannes’  podcast luncheon with Jeffrey Wells. Sasha thinks, especially with Fox Searchlight having picked it up, that they are going to  ride this one all the way to a Best Picture nomination. The directors first name is Behn. Others would spell it “Ben” and he’s only 23. But this is the film, about a 6-year-old girl trying to cope with the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina, that has captivated not only the Sundance scenesters, but also the French, so it’s broadly popular.

And Sasha thinks the young girl in it could likely be the youngest person ever nominated for an Oscar. She’s THAT good evidently. And her name is unpronounceable and well as un-spell-able, so I’m going to look it up and include it later.

No American films seem to have hit at Cannes, but this one has. And with Fox Searchlight behind it. They are gonna “Tree of Life” it all the way to the Dolby. Which is the new name of the Kodak.

But other than “Beasts” no other American film has gotten much, if any traction. Then comes the big Summer Pause in the awards world, where all the summer blockbusters roll out and we don’t really see much of anything until Toronto. Which I will be attending for the 14th year! Can’t wait! But first comes Provincetown in a couple of weeks. And they always have such smart films there…

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