a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for October, 2012

The Buses are Running! But not the Subways!

It’s Wed. in the AM, and the buses came back on today in New York at 5pm. But the subways are not running. And the elevators are back on in my building, but I hear that downtown there is no power! STILL!

And it’s getting cold out. I FINALLY got outside again tonight as the sun was quickly setting, what little there was of it. I didn’t wear a coat. But I found out once outside that I really needed to.

Starbucks and McDonald’s, bell weathers of a Return to Normal, were back in action.

And every other store or restaurant seemed to be lit up. But there were plenty of black spots, too. It was like an array of rotten teeth.

It’s all quite frightening, especially with the knowledge that Lower Manhattan is a Dead Zone.

I always thought of New York City, especially Manhattan, where I live, as impregnable. A fortress. A place where Mother Nature did NOT rule. That has changed.

Tomorrow afternoon, the theaters open for Wednesday matinees, and Broadway will be all lit up, once again, but outside of the buses how will theater-goers get there?

I never thought I would live to see all these horror movies come that show the destruction of New York over and over again come to life, but these are the images I’m seeing everywhere. And hearing about.

But I have light and power, so I should consider myself lucky. And I do.

And it started to get really cold tonight. And thousands of New Yorkers have no heat. And many, many thousands more in the Tri-State area. Frightening.

But this is the city that survived 9/11 so it can survive THIS! New Yorkers are nothing if not TOUGH!

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Buses Still Off. Subways Still Off.

NYC has still not righted itself. I hope it can soon. There’s still no buses or subways. There’s no rain or wind. And the sky is as white as a clean piece of paper. To quote Tennessee William’s one-act “This Property is Condemned” which is one of the first plays I ever did. When I was a senior in Mrs. Ehrlich’s drama class at the Bronx High School of Science.

I remember the girl I played the scene with was named Regina Cohen, I think. It was so long ago…

That class, and the summer before it, when I went to a summer theater program at Georgetown University in Wash.D.C. pretty much solidified the determination in my mind, heart and soul that I wanted to be An Actor!

Meanwhile, the elevators are still off in my building! And I’m hearing that friends of mine downtown are in the dark. No lights. Maybe no heat, too.

After the Storm

The “sun” is out. I mean, there’s light. The sky is a white-grey, but it’s not raining and no wind. Also no buses or subways and the elevators are still closed in my building. The flickering of lights I saw briefly last night was probably the lower part of Manhattan losing power.

There was a screening of the now ironically titled “Silver Linings Playbook” for this afternoon which I missed at Toronto, when everybody and his mother fell in love with it and it won the Audience Award at TIFF.Then did the same thing at the Hamptons film fest.

I may take to the stairs and walk there. It’s a Weinstein Co And nothing stops them in their quest for Oscars, as we all know. Otherwise, I would think it was cancelled. It might be. No replies to my email queries.

Lower Manhattan badly hit. But I’m getting cabin fever just staying inside.

Hurricane Sandy Reaches NYC

So it has come. Hurricane Sandy is hitting NYC just about now…They are shutting down the elevators in my building at 6pm. Don’t know if this is city-wide or not, but the front desk of where I live said they were ordered to do this by the city.

The streets of New York are rain-soaked and deserted. Broadway theaters are closed. The movie houses are closed. Some shops are closed. Starbucks, McDonald’s. But others are open, amazingly.Restaurants mainly and some convenience stores are open. The subways and the buses stopped at 7pm last night, which they really didn’t need to.It was premature.

But they did.

It does not SEEM that bad from inside. Just rain. It rains a lot in New York. But….

The subways and buses are New York’s life line and they are shut off. Can’t imagine about the usual hoards of tourists who came here for Hallowe’en and got stuck here inside their hotels, with THIS. And also presumably no elevator service as of 6pm.

I don’t have a TV or radio(believe it or not) so my only source of news is the Internet and my friends calling to check on me. Which they are doing.

The subways in New York were only shut off once before, and recently, last year or the year before, but it was only for a day. And now this lock-down is heading in to its’ second day!

I went outside to see what it was like. And ever the hardy NY optimist, I didn’t even take an umbrella. Just a wide-brimmed hat. It wasn’t that bad. If you didn’t have all these closings, it would seem just like, well, rain…

The air is remarkably fresh, and even smells nice…And it wasn’t particularly cold either. But the sun(what little there was of it) was still up. There was light. But very grey light.

Scary stuff…eerie, noiseless atmosphere in the usually uber-noisey NYC. A ghost town. Hope this is over before Hallowe’en.

Closed businesses must be losing a fortune.

“Zero Dark Thirty” Moved into January! Oops! There goes Oscar!

When a major film studio, in this case, Sony, or Big Sony, as some call it, moves a release date, OUT of the Oscar season, in this case “Zero Dark Thirty”, and plans to open it in JANUARY! What does this tell us about this as yet unseen movie? Well,by implication the news isn’t good.

I think it means the studio does not have the faith in this major Oscar contender that it should.
It’s about the search and destroy mission that finally ended the life of Osama Bin Laden. And the trailers for it, are well, let’s say they look astonishingly like ANOTHER Oscar seeking movie, “Argo” that is currently Number One at the Box-Office. Uh-Oh!

Both, too, have the same Film Editor, working with the Oscar-winning Katherine Bigelow, and her screenwriter Marc Boal of Best Picture winner of 2009 “The Hurt Locker.” Both are regarding Middle Eastern terrorists subjects. One is just KILLING at the box-office, a crowd-pleaser that is pleasing crowds everywhere, and the other is still shrouded in deepest secrecy. Like for instance we didn’t know until this week, when Sony announced it, that the wonderful Jessica Chastain is playing the leading role, and is going to be campaigned in lead! For Best Actress!

Is this too little too late? Maybe. Maybe not. The brilliant Chastain could read the Canadian Yellow Pages and make them riveting, but, again, in the trailers, she utters NOT ONE WORD! Why?

Is there something wrong with her voice? Or with the vocal choices she has made under Katherine Bigelow’s usually astute directon?.Is she off a bit? This reminds me of the way “Lincoln”s trailer where they were showing Daniel Day-Lewis, and not letting us hear him for quite a while…

This smacks of cover-up to me.

If you’ve got a great performance, you ADVERTISE it, not hide it. Like say, Universal is doing with their great trailer of “Les Miserables” with Anne Hathaway nailing “I Dreamed a Dream.” They’ve practically guaranteed Annie an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress by this smart campaign move.

Oh, sure, Academy folks will be able to see it, EVENTUALLY. “Zero Dark Thirty” I’m talking about. But what about the critical critics groups that announce FIRST? The New York Film Critics Circle, the L.A. Film Critics, the National Board of Review. Will THEY be able to see it by their voting deadlines in late November?

One thing’s for sure, November is going to be one wild and crazy Oscar month! Phase One of the Oscar Season, as it is now being called.

As the French say, J’attends avec impatience!

Dazzling Oscar Hopeful Keira Knightley ~ Magnificent as “Anna Karenina”!

Beautiful, radiant, witty, intelligent and maturing into one of the great screen actresses of our time, Keira Knightley chats “Anna Karenina” with me at the Toronto International Film Festival 2012. Her breathtaking, bravura performance of Anna as a heroine AND an anti-heroine in this radical re-telling of Tolstoy’s oft-filmed tale,is like a dark diamond and  has Oscar Nomination written all over it.

Oscar Double Shocker! 2 Best Actress slots may open! “Beasts” not nominated for Best Picture at Gotham Awards!

Still reeling from Joaquim Phoenix’s “Oscar is utter bulls–t” remark, I think it’s gone unnoticed by all except the astute Anne Thompson on this week’s Oscar Talk podcast at www.indiewire.com and also on www.hitfix.com,where when partner Kris Tapley points out that the much-heralded “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did NOT get a Best Picture nomination from the upcoming Gotham Awards, she said “That’s not a sign of strength.”

“Beasts” did however get nominated for Best Breakthrough Performer for 8 Year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis and Best Director for 29-year-old Benh Zeitlin.

But not getting a Best Picture nomination from the Gothams, the East Coast’s answer to the Independent Spirit Awards, is a real and unexpected slap in the face to “Beasts,” and to Fox Searchlight. And may forecast what I am hearing about the way the Academy itself is responding to this beautiful, small Indie film. Which is not well.

Check out Pete Hammond on www.deadline.com, who has been saying this all along. Especially the Actor’s Branch, who take the SAG disqualification of performers Qu’venzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry of “Beasts” from consideration from THEIR awards, VERY seriously. SAG is the Screen Actors Guild, whose large membership hands out their own awards and whose membership overlaps the Academy. The Screen Actors Guild is also a Union. The film version of Actor’s Equity. And all voting members of the Actor’s Branch are all members of SAG.

Non-actors when they started “Beasts of the Southern Wild “& critically acclaimed though they are, I hear that the super-powerful Actor’s Branch especially is not liking the idea of nominating a non-actress,and a non-union member, who is an eight-year-old child.

“When there are so many PROFESSIONAL actresses who gave great performances this year.” So goes the current AMPAS Actor’s Branch thinking, I am told. And it’s that powerful branch, the largest in the Academy and they are the ones, the ONLY ones who nominate the Actors. And the Actresses. And most Oscarologists have little Miss Wallis in their top five. See Tom O’Neill’s http://www.goldderby.com charts, for one example.

Meanwhile, two of the  other main contenders for Best Actress that are on everyone’s lists of five potential nominees are French.

Marion Cotillard for “Rust and Bone,” who is being honored by the Gothams and AFI and just about every which way you turn for her stunning turn as the legless victim of a whale attack. She’s a whale trainer in a Sea World-like situation in the South of France and one of her Orcas attacks her. And even though Mlle.Marion is acting in her own language French, she’s IN with a capital “I” and a capital “L” for Lock.

But  the other Gallic contender, who very well may NOT make it, I’m hearing, is Octogenarian French actress Emmanuelle Riva. Riva plays the stroke victim in “Amour” The film won the Palme d’Or this year in Cannes. And the same-aged Academy is NOT digging this grim, unrelenting film about death. It’s too much and too close for Academy members. It should’ve been called “La Mort” which is French for death.

So Riva’s nomination is not a slam dunk, either though this difficult, gripping, unforgettable film may very well score a Best Foreign Film nomination.

So BOTH Qu’venzhane Wallis’ and Emmanuelle Riva’s slots may very well not be their slots at all come nomination day. But there are OTHERS, a few stellar Others who are waiting right in the wings right at their doorsteps,

Leaving two doors, or slots, in that suddenly contentious category, WIDE open for a pair of Dames. Always bet on the Brits. Dame Helen Mirren playing The Master of Suspene’s wife Alma in “Hitchcock”(which has not been seen yet) and also perhaps Dame Maggie Smith as a retiring but disliked opera diva in “Quartet.”

I saw”‘Quartet’ in Toronto and 77-year-old Maggie Smith could very well find herself Oscar bound. And then there’s of course the beauteous Brit, Keira Knightley, much more likely as the tortured heroine of “Anna Karenina”which I also saw in Toronto, and which is still my favorite film of the year so far. For the record, I thought both performances were divine and definitely Oscar-worthy.

And the leader of the pack at the moment, according to all and sundry is Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook,”which I’m finally slated to see this week.

Nevermind, the still-unseen Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty.” We still don’t know if she’s a leading player or supporting, though.

But there are plenty of worthy, beautiful Oscar performances by actresses awaiting Oscar’s nod this year if BOTH Qu’venzhane Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva don’t make the cut.

So except for Lawrence’s presumed lead, this is now a very wide open category, with a small, but stellar group to pick from. Cotillard, Knightley, Mirren, Chastain, Smith. There’s enough. Or ALMOST enough. And all these ladies, I must point out are either Oscar nominees, and many of them winners! Cotillard and Mirren both have won. And Dame Maggie Smith has two wins out of SIX nominations! Knightley, Chastain and Lawrence are all previous nominees. They are all, as Anne Thompson likes to say, “In The Club.”

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