a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for June, 2012

Video

Qu’venzhane Wallis “Beast of the Southern Wild” star rises!

Believe it or not, the Best Performance by an Actress this year is by 6-year-old Qu’enzhane Wallis of the extraordinarily original “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Venzie, as she’s called, is smart, funny, intelligent and articulate beyond belief in an interview situation, too, as well as in the already award-winning film. Could the Oscar go to a now 8-year old? If she even gets nominated and I think she will, Qu’venzhane will be the youngest actor ever to be so honored. This is part one of a 2 part interview. Qu’venzhane (pronounced Kwa -VENG-e nay) is a charmer. Critics are raving.

Clash of the Oscar Titans! Oscar Goddess, Oscar Grouch & Gold Derby go Head-to- Head in Historic Pod-Cast!!!

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.

Video

More Saki Sushi in Provincetown! Ahoy! Enjoy!

As I get ready to head out for the fourth year in a row to cover the wonderful week of the Provincetown Film Festival, here’s one more delicious look at the mouth-watering Saki Sushi! Ahoy! And enjoy!

Further Oscar Parsing and Predix at Gold Derby by Tom O’Neill

Taking a look at www.Goldderby.com  Tom O’Neil’s never-quiet-for-a-moment Oscar site, I realized that I hadn’t gone ALLLL the way with the other categories he and his pals were predicting beyond saying “Lincoln” was going to win Best Picture. I wrote about that a few days back, and I looked at it again, and realized I hadn’t discussed his OTHER predix BEYOND “Lincoln.”

Did I mention I didn’t think Daniel Day-Lewis is all set up to win a THIRD Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln himself? Well Tom does. And for Best Actress, he’s got as Laura Linney as Number One for “Hyde Park on the Hudson,” which would be wonderful if that happened. And it could. Laura’s been nominated three times and never won. And she ages decades in it as F.D.R.’s secret-until-now mistress.

For Best Supporting Actor he’s got Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master“, Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film (due later this year) This could also happen. Phoenix has been nominated twice and never won. And this is one of Harvey Weinstein’s year-end Oscar hopeful films. It’s about Scientology and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the lead, playing, I guess L.Ron Hubbard.

This sounds more like a strong possibility to me. Just based on HARVEY’s recent track record with Meryl Streep,”The Artist,”Jean Dujardin, Michel Hazanviscius, “The King’s Speech”, Colin Firth & Tom Hooper, a nomination for Phonenix, if he cuts the Oscar mustard,  is for sure likely. But a win? He’s up-against another Harvey contender, Leonardo di Caprio, of all people, as the villain in “Django Unchained.” Quentin Tarantino’s latest, which is still shooting, making Anne Thompson of Indiewire’s Thompson-on-Hollywood wonder if it will even be finished on time for its’ Christmas Day release.

And Tom, last but not least, has Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress for “Les Miserables” and this is the MOST likely prediction to come true, solidly. As the trailer of “Les Miz” Universal released caused SUCH a, well, universal ripple throughout the blogosphere, and the song “I Dreamed a Dream” which is the only one performed, yes, by Ms. Hathaway, and she totally magnificently nails it.

It’s too early to predict all these things anyway. But it doesn’t stop Tom O. Check all his other race-track odds on literally hundreds of potential nominees, (he’s leaving NO ONE out. No turn un-stoned) He’s not missing a trick. But of course, it’s Tom O’Neil, so he very well may be right.

But like for instance if say “Lincoln” does win Best Picture, Steven Spielberg would win Best Director. Not Paul Thomas Anderson.

I would say all bets are off until after the Toronto International Film Festival unfurls its’ Oscary wares in Sept.

Video

Scarlett Johansson on the Stephen Holt Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE-yuvfIe_4&feature=plcp

As “The Avengers” continues to be this box-office phenom, and no, I still haven’t had a chance to see it. I may never. Here’s another one of its’ stars,  the lovely Scartlett Johansson from several years back, when she was in the middle of her Woody Allen period, and she was promoting “Scoop” a hilarious interview, about a sometimes hilarisous movie, set in London. I liked it. Most didn’t.  Woody is a magician named Splendini, and Scarlett is playing a ditzy blonde American girl, named Miss Sondra Pransky,who is masquerading as Jade Juilliard Spence, who falls in with his schemes to get The Scoop, and hilarity as they say, ensues. It certainly did in this interview.

E.T.A. Sorry the video didn’t appear here, but the link works!

Video

Noomi Rapace ~ The Stephen Holt Show

Noomi Rapace is back in the headlines and the headlights of Hollywood stardom, full blast and full throttle, with the wondrous A-Star-Is-Re-Born reviews she’s getting for her performance in the leading role in “Prometheus“, Ridley Scott’s return to Sci-Fi, Big time.


And with this role Noomi I think forever overcomes not getting the English language version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“. She starred in all three films of the great Swedish crime noir trilogy by the late Steig Larson. Here I am, lucky and thrilled to have the privilege of chatting with her about the last episode “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” a couple of seasons back.

I just fell in love her and was shocked by how sweet and feminine and smart and sexy she was. and totally unlike the character of Lisbeth Salander in every way imaginable. Except that they both like to take risks.Noomi with her acting and Lisbeth just with life in general.  I was hoping she was going to get an Oscar nomination for this last film, but instead she did get a BAFTA Best Actress Nod.

She also grew up part of the time in Iceland, so that’s what I was saying to her at the end “Tak. Bless.” Which is “Thank you and good-bye” in Icelandic, which she speaks as well as her native Swedish. She’s going to be the biggest Swedish acting star since Ingrid Bergman! Or before her Greta Garbo!

Interview with “Intouchables” co-director/writer Olivier Nakache

The Intouchables” the first Weinstein Co. Oscar seeker is out in theaters this week and “The Intouchables” French film director/writer Olivier Nakache was in town to talk about its chances, his heavily buzzed Senagelese star Omar Sy and its’ incredible box-office triumphs all across Europe. It’s the highest grossing film in French cinema history. Will the same lightening strike in America? I sat down with him and a translator to talk about it in the Weinstein Co.’s offices in Tribecca in French and in English, bien sur.

Stephen Holt: In The New York Times, film critic Stephen Holden said that there was going to be an Oscar campaign for Omar Sy? (pronounced “See”) Is that true? Is this happening?
Olivier Nakache: Yeah. Maybe. (SH laughs) It depends.
Translator(translating from his French): It’s in the process of being decided.
ON: Yeah, yeah. But I think, yes. I think maybe the Weinstein Company wants to play the game of the Oscar with Omar. But last year you have already all these French guys. I think the French cinema is in great shape. Great shape.
SH: Pourquoi?
ON: Because now you have a new generation of French directors.
SH: Exactement.
ON: And we are very close. Because…Michel Hazanviscius, we are very close.
SH: I interviewed him, too, and I told him he was going to win the Oscar and he was like “Quoi??” He didn’t know what hit him. And I was right!
(Both laugh)
ON:Yeah, can you imagine? But if I told you one year ago the subject of our movie, if I told you – OK, I’m Michel and “I want to make a movie in black and white about American movies, with no dialogue.” I said, “Are you crazy? It never works!” And if I told you that I wanted to make a comedy about a quadreplegic man(Francois Cluzet and a man from the ghetto(Omar Sy), a comedy. (you would say) “Quit! Buy a bakery and stop! Quit the cinema!”(SH laughs) Je crois que l’audace payee.
Translator: The audacity pays off.
SH: Oui, d’accord.
ON: It’s original. It’s new. It’s not Number Two, Number Three or a sequel or a prequel, you know what I mean? It’s new. It’s Fresh air.
SH:Unique.
ON: Oui. It’s unique. It’s fresh. It’s fresh. And for “The Intouchables,” I think that people are touched by the fact that it’s a tough subject, a deep subject, but we put humor on it so il fait le subject a peu legee.
Translator: It makes those issues lighter.
ON: Lighter, but (pounding his fist) strong!
SH: D’accord, encore une fois. So, the sucess of this film in France and all across Europe, it’s incroyable!
ON: C’est incroyable. C’est vraiment le mot, incroyable. Terrific. Amazing. Unexpectable. Y’know, because we knew that we got something special for the movies. Because we made in France, and I think the same thing in the U.S., we made a big tour before the release to –
Translator: To start fires everywhere.
ON: En francais, aussi, la bouche a oreille. Do you know this expression?
SH: Non, non.
ON: La bouche a oreille.
Translator: Word of mouth. From mouth to ear.
ON: Mouth to ear. And you can imagine, for this movie, c’est tres important.
SH: And also, the challenge is unique, because he can’t move. Francois Cluzet’s character can’t move. He’s a quadreplegic millionaire in a wheelchair. So you have perhaps a very stationary, static situation, for a film. It’s more like for a play. But you never think of that in this movie.
ON: Of course. But we want to show this comedy like a drama, and we thought how can we be –
Translator: How can we pace the film?
ON: The rythmn is really important, (Snapping his fingers) because he won’t move. And around him, there is great, great movement
.
SH: Yes. It never stops.
ON: That’s why when Phillipe hire(s) Driss(pronounced “Dreees”) in the scene in the office at the beginning of the movie, Omar moves. He moves a lot. Move. Move. We don’t want just a scene with two people –
SH: Sitting down, yes.
ON: During all the movie, we knew that we (snapping his fingers) have a fast edit, movements, music, to create movement around somebody who can’t move.
SH: I just missed your directing partner, who just took off for the airport. We have to mention that you just didn’t do this film by yourself. And his name is -?
ON:My partner? Eric. Eric Toledano.
SH: Do you do certain parts of the film, and he does others? How does that work? Is it difficile? Simple?
ON: To make a movie, it’s difficile.
SH: Oui, oui. C’est vrai.
ON: We learn together. We began together. And we move forward together. We write the script together. It’s our fourth movie.
SH: Wow.
ON: So it works. It works. I think maybe one day, one will want to do something alone, but the other (one of us) will not be far.
SH: Formidable.So, you both discovered this very strange topic, and it’s based on a true story?
ON: Yeah, yeah.
SH: And you discovered it together on French television?
ON: Yeah, exactly ten years ago, I saw a documentary. Very tres tard de la soiree.
Translator: Very late at night.
ON: Very late at night. And I text to Eric, “Put your TV on, please.” And we saw this documentary “A La Vie, A La Mort “and I phoned to him “Do you think what I’m thinking?” And he said ” Yes, I am thinking what you’re thinking. It’s a great story for a movie.” But we were too young. We were not mature. We, at this time, we never make a feature film. We just make short movies.So we wait to learn the tools of the cinema. We wait –
SH: To grow up.
ON: To grow up And also, we met Omar
.
SH: He’s incredible.
ON: We wrote the script for him.
SH: Oh! Ah, vraiment.
Translator: And if he told them, “I am not interested, they would not have made the movie.”
SH: RIght. Wow! Wow. Is he an established actor? Is he known in France?
ON: Not as a actor. He’s known. He’s really, really famous as a comedian.
SH: Like Jean Dujardin is.
ON: Not really Not really not like Jean Dujardin, because Omar has got his own TV show.
SH: Oh!
ON: But a tiny TV show. Really tiny ten minutes each day. It’s a daily show. With a partner. It’s a duet.
SH: Doesn’t Jean Dujardin do that with his wife? Also? A ten minute comedy show each day?
ON: Ah! Kind of. But not really. Not really.
SH:Let me tell you an interesting story about the Rendez-vous (with French Cinema. In March) I was interviewing everybody and I was very involved with Jean Dujardin and I loved “The Artist” and this was right after it and Jean won the Oscars, and all the other actors there, the big French stars, they were so jealous. The men. They were tres jaloux. And they were like “But he is just a comedian! He is not an actor!” And again, this is the success of another French comedian in America. Omar, I mean. It’s looking like it.
ON: A lot of actors come from Saturday Night Live here.
SH: That’s true. OK.
ON: It’s exactly the same for Omar. Omar is a kind of Saturday Night Live. Because it’s not like Jean Dujardin, because his show, it’s like a fiction. With a woman.
SH: It’s a sketch comedy show, Jean Dujardin’s show. With his wife.
ON: Yes, a sketch. Omar talks directly to the camera, to the people, about politics, about the scene.
SH: What’s the name of Omar’s show by the way?
ON: It’s difficult to say in English.
Translator: Customer Service. Post-Sale Service.
SH: (laughs) That’s so funny.
ON: He critiques the other TV (shows), the politics, and what is happening in the world. So he can talk about Obama, and he creates characters. It’s very different.
SH: What is the racial situation like in France? Since America is so hung up on race. The racial situation I think historically in France for black actors, like for instance Josephine Baker in the ’20s. There was no prejudice, nothing. It’s different.
ON: But you have to know that in France, I hope I am clear. In France, you have the immigrants, les emigres et les francais. In America, you have black people and Americans. Mexicans and Americans. In France, that is the same group. You know what I mean? They don’t live in a special community. They don’t live in a special part of Paris. They live in the housing projects.
SH: There’s no ghettos, in other words.
ON: It’s ghettos, but not for one community.
SH: It’s for all foreigners?
Translator: All foreigners. It’s like a melting pot. Where they’re all together.
SH: In these ghettos.
Translator: Projects.
SH: Projects, yeah. There are black and Hispanic and Asians all mixed in here in the projects, too. Americans will sort of go to, relate to the black and white theme here, too.
ON: The black and white thing. We have not the same history that you have. In France, we have emigre people.
Translator: Immigrants.
ON: And the French. The second generation,like me, because my parents were born in Algeria and Eric’s parents were born in Morocco, but we are French.
SH: So you have a very,very deep connection with this topic.
ON:We have a special history in France. We have the colonization. My parents were French, because Algerians were French. But for us, we call us les jeunes de banlieue.
Translator: Young people from the projects. It’s a social group.
ON: A social group. Banlieue. The suburbs. The housing projects.
Translator: Banlieue translates as suburbs.
ON: You know in the real story (that this film is based on), it’s an Arabic person, Abdel, the real character.
SH: Yes, I noticed that at the end of the picture. You showed the real people this film was based on, Phillipe Pozzo di Borgo and his caretaker, Abdel.
ON:But for a French audience, it’s exactly the same. Driss is from Senegal, but it’s exactly the same. It’s les jeunes de banlieue. Omar’s got the same past as Abdel. Omar came from the same type of housing projects.

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