a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Just back in town, to find to my great joy and amazement that Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, Oscar Grouch Jeffrey Wells and Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil just did a historic podcast on Tom’s also historic June 1 Oscar predix list. June 1! Yes, June 1! I’ve already discussed his list in a previous posting and so I wondered just what more could be said by all three together at once.

Clash of the Oscar Titans? Well, kinda.

Sasha Stone at http://www.awardsdaily.com of course, is the person I agree with most. No surprise to my readers, dear cineasstes all, but to MY surprise, Sasha I and seemed more in sync that EVAH!

She feels, and Tom did too, and I heartily concur, that the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, not due until the holidays, is highly tricky and  risky. The film rises and falls on his performance, needles to say, Abraham. Lincoln was not a bombastic man or a scenery-chewing role like Billy the Butcher in “Gangs of New York” or that awful creature he played in “There Will Be Blood.” And won a second (and UNDESERVED) Oscar for.

When he goes introspective or quiet as he is bound to with a subtle man like Lincoln, he is, as Sasha said, “a cold motherfucker”. Which of course is what ruined “Nine,” and also a passion project “Rose” which is uber-talented wife Rebecca Miller directed him in. Blah. This demi-god of acting is NOT infallible.

So we can safely say that the Best Actor category is still up in the air.

Even more to the point and very questionable IMHO still is playwright Tony Kushner’s screenplay for this, the saga of Lincoln’s entire life. Kushner tends to overwrite and his plays all end up VERY long. He’s not a concise, clear screenwriter. Witness “Munich” as a case in point, also with Spielberg. Sure it eeked out a Best Picture nod, in the end, but it was not the masterpiece Time Magazine’s pre-mature cover story suggested it would be. Far from it. And the numbing pain of his three-hour “Mother Courage” in Central Park several seasons back, I can’t forgive or forget. He “adapted” his own translation of Brecht’s great play, which was NEVER known to be LONG. And poor Meryl Streep gave one of her worst performances ever as she struggled to keep this corpse afloat. I thought she was going to have a heart attack right there on the stage!

Sasha also pointed out that Tom’s Gold Derby-ites had mixed up the categories for “The Master” and had Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the lead, and Joaquin Phonenix as Supporting and Tom O’Neil agreed! So there’s THAT confusion. As if we needed more.

Sasha also iterated, and again I agree with her, that the two big films to look out for for Best Picture and in many other categories are “Les Miserables” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” And again Tom O. agreed with her.And once again, I do, too. Even at this great distance in June this seems clear.

Jeffrey Wells of http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com still seemed like he was in Prague, and perhaps that’s where he was calling in from. If it was in L.A., he really did seem out of the loop indeed. And called this lively discussion “A revelation.” And added that he’d have to update his Oscar Balloon. Oy, Jeffrey. Get with the program.

Sasha felt that Oscar movies need to make you FEEL, and I couldn’t agree more. The ones thatultimately win, I mean.

And of all those out there, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (seen by all) and “Les Miserables”(still unseen until the holidays) are the two films who could go all the way.

I’m interviewing all involved with “Beasts” on Thursday there in NYC. Which I came back into town for. And I am very happy to finally be able to ask the 23-year-old Wunderkind Behn Zeitlin, the co-screenwriter and the director, of this mind-blowing milestone of a film just HOW he created this cinematic miracle.

“Beasts” may be too edgie and too Indie to WIN Best Picture. But what of it extraordinary child actress, the now eight-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis?

This is undoubtedly the best performance I’ve ever seen by a child, but could she win Best Actress???? Sasha seems to think she could and that that is the category where she is going to end up. And again, I find myself in astonished, but delighted agreement.

She’s got EXTRAORDINARY chemistry with the camera. And her performance haunts my mind.

Sasha said “I pity the actress that is going to have to go up against her for Best Actress.”  And she and Tom discussed the others in contention in THAT category. Laura Linney for “Hyde Park on Hudson”, Keira Knightley in “Anna Karenina”, and Marion Cotillard in “Of Rust and Bone.

Maybe they’ll create a Special Oscar just for Qu’venshane. Like they did for Shirley Temple and Judy Garland back in the ’30s.

And, after reading all this, you want to hear MORE. Go to http://www.goldderby.com and you’ll find it all there. It’s really worth a listen to all you Oscarwatchers out there.

Tom and Sasha agreed more than I ever thought they would. And I agree with them more than I ever thought I would.

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