a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for November, 2012

Oscar’s New “It” Girls ~Jennifer Lawrence V. Jessica Chastain

When it was announced last week that one of Oscar’s “It” Girls (last year’s version), was playing a leading role and not a supporting one, and was being campaigned as such, in the still-to-be-seen “Zero Dark Thirty,” the etherally beautiful redhead Jessica Chastain herself, it sent Oscarologists scrambling like frightened chickens.

Because OF COURSE the brilliant Chastain, who was a Supporting Actress nominee last year in “The Help”(she lost to cast member Octavia Spenser) was going to turn the Best Actress race upside down and shoot to the top of everyone’s list, again sight unseen. Well, wasn’t she?

Everybody and his brother it seems is trying to topple purported front-runner for “Silver Linings Playbook”, the Weinstein Co.s Oscar “It” girl and a former nominee for Best Actress for “Winter’s Bone”, Jennifer Lawrence.

It is said the equally beautiful Lawrence is so out in front of all other contenders this year at the tender age of 22, that all we who do this are left with is trying to figure who else will be nominated, not who will win in that coveted category. Jennifer Lawrence has already won this. So say ye pundits all.

St. Ann Thompson of http://www.indirewire.com Thompson on Hollywood says that Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook” is a “slam-dunk” Lawrence also tops the Gurus o’ Gold chart by double digits. Check them out at David Poland’s http://www.moviecitynews.com. She’s Numero Uno at http://www.Goldderby.com, too  . I saw “SLP” today and I have to admit, yup, I think they might all just be right.

Light as air and paper thin as a potato chip, for all its’ background setting of manic depression and mental hospitals, “Silver Linings Playbook”s Jennifer Lawrence won me over. In spite of myself. I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t “Get” her, but now I do. She’s the new Elizabeth Taylor.

She’s an incredibly beautiful and photogenic young woman with a slammin’ body. She’s big, too, in all the right places.At 5’9′,’statuesque would be a good way of putting it. Curvaceous. And you see, she makes everyone fall in love with her. And yes, that’s a list that now includes me. Until today, an ardent anti-fan.

In “Silver Linings Playbook,” she won me over. She didn’t have me at “Hello,” but by the end of this film, she had me. She’s moving. You come to care about her. It’s her, a not the male lead “The Hangover”s Bradley Cooper, who is the emotional center of this wacky, wonky, weird film.

She’s got timing on her side,too. Oscarologists call it “momentum.”

It’s ONCE AGAIN ” a weak year for Best Actresses.” Some say the front-runner is 8-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” And even though I have just been informed that she has indeed joined SAG, the disqualification of her from SAG Award voting consideration still, unfortunately, stands.

So Jennifer Lawrence’s massive lead still endures, and she’s VERY sympathetic in SLP. She’s poignant. She’s trying to get  Cooper’s Manic Depressive mess, Patrick, to fall in love with her, and what director/writer David O. Russell is also deftly doing is trying to get the audience,the WORLD to fall in love with her damaged widow and ex-sex-addict Tiffany. And it seems to be  working. Lawrence may be crowned in February, the new Queen of Hollywood.

“Silver Linings Playbook” won the Audience Award at Toronto and also the Hamptons Film Festivals. And the Weinstein Co. is seeing this as their major Oscar contender now that “The Master” has pretty much tanked all over the place.

The release date says everything about an Oscar seeking film. And Harvey Weinstein knows how to position his fillies JUST RIGHT. I thought that “The Master”s early Sept. bow was odd, to say the least.

And the still unseen “Django Unchained” is opening strangely late. On Christmas Day, no less. For a Quentin Tarantino civil war/revenge tale with a great deal of gore in store, that seems a bit late, too. And a bit odd.

But HW placed “Silver Linings Playbook” just right. Right in the middle of Oscar season’s Phase One. Which is RIGHT NOW. That should have told us everything. In fact, TWC has even moved its’ release date one week earlier. To NEXT week. And then it’s going wide. VERY wide.

In the end “Silver Linings Playbook” is a Rom Com. A very well done and starrily cast rom-com with Robert DeNiro,  even, as the hero’s OCD Dad. And it’s not much more than that. And it’s the old Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl story. Comedies and comedic performances like Lawrence’s don’t usually get the gold. Soubrettes don’t win Oscars. Or do they?

So therefore someone with gravitas, like the Juilliard-trained Jessica Chastain, it is thought, could sneak in with a last-minute serious role in a drama. Anthony Breznican, the new Oscar Analyst at EW, puts Jessica first and she’s even *gasp* on the COVER of their upcoming Holiday Preview Issue. And so is “Les Mis” and Bilbo Baggins and  Abraham Lincoln and Santa Claus.

So gentlemen, it looks like we have a contest brewing for Bactress.

Chastain’s the CIA operative, who for ten years drives the hunt to find and kill Osama Ben Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” is the code name for this operation. And Katherine Bigelow, the first female director to ever have won an Oscar (for “The Hurt Locker” three years ago), is helming it. Marc Boal of “The Hurt Locker” did the screenplay and it’s film editor, is the same film editor who just edited “Argo” so stirringly. Is that good or bad? The trailers look AWFULLY similar to “Argo”s and in them Chastain utters not ONE WORD. Er,….Are they hiding something? Saving the best for last?

So of course this news is giving Oscarologists pause. Chastain was in a staggering SEVEN films last year. And her range is thought to be limitless. I have never seen her be anything less than brilliant.

Until last night when I saw “The Heiress” on Broadway and the role of the spinterish, repressed Catherine Sloper, defeated her roundly in the first act. Chastain, like Lawrence, is a great beauty, and both Chastain and Lawrence are well on their way to being screen legends.

Lawrence, in “The Hunger Games” raked in a total of something like $400 million this year, quite a feat for a franchise anchored on a woman.

But I just couldn’t buy Chastain as homely and socially awkward in the first act in the worst wig I’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage.”The Heiress” Act I was like a bad sitcom.

Cherry Jones on Bway in ’95 (she won a Tony) and Olivia de Havilland in the classic movie (she won an Oscar ) were too clearly in my mind. They really SEEMED plain. They weren’t ACTING plain. Plain is something you can’t act anyway. But in “The Heiress” Jessica Chastain unfortunately tries to do so. And that wig makes her look like a white Topsy.

However in the second act, when Catherine begins to transform, Chastain changes into a better wig, which helped her  step up her game and passably helped her redeem herself. But only just. She was totally believable by the chilling end of “The Heiress.”

Two time Tony Winner Judith Ivey stole the show as the pitty-pattiest of Aunts. And director Moises Kaufman’s all-over-the map direction directed everybody except Ivey in the wrong direction. Ivey had the Henry James style right and showed up everyone else as hollow or misguided.

Chastain also had no help at all from the men on stage with her, the usually reliable David Strathairn and the all-but-invisible “Downtown Abbey”s Dan Stevens. Strathairn seemed to be trying to make the necessary ogre of Catherine’s father, Dr. Sloper into someone nice and warm, almost like a tea-cozy. And Dan Stevens seemed to disappear into the furniture every time he appeared to enter .

On screen, Sir Ralph Richardson, in his greatest screen performance,, was frightening beyond belief as one of the most monstrous fathers in cinema history. And Montgomery Clift, in his movie debut, was unforgettable as the wastrel suitor, Morris Townsend. IOW, Chastain couldn’t carry his rangey leading role. Or did so just by the skin of her beautiful teeth.

Will her role in “Zero Dark Thirty” be strong enough to upset Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar Love Fest? Will dark drama trump light comedy?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

So BORED & ANGRY at “Lincoln” I was spitting nickels! Er, pennies…

I was so BORED, DISAPPOINTED & ANGRY at “Lincoln” that I was literally spitting nickels. Or in this case, pennies. Which he’s on.  “Lincoln” is everywhere these days. Opening one day after the election, it kinda sorta got included in mucho campaign overspill. Thank god Obama won, is all I can say. For many reasons. Because otherwise the Steven Spielberg self-proclaimed “masterpiece” would be DOA. Or it’s Oscar campaign would.

I’m totally down with the politics that are advocated in this movie, obviously. But to turn the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment (and no, they are NOT the same thing, as this dull, dull,dull history lesson  endlessly repeats ) into a, well, …a very dull history movie, it’s just inexcusable coming from a big studio who should know better like Disney. They spent milllions on this historic creation that that did better in their Lincoln exhibit with robots in Disneyland.

And no, I do not think “Lincoln” is a slam dunk for Best Picture. A nomination, probably, but then the Academy routinely nominated both the inferior “Munich,” and also last year the schmaltzy “War Horse” but neither won anything and “Lincoln” may come up empty-handed like Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” did years ago.

Audiences are going to be very, very VERY bored with the ENDLESS talk, talk, talkiness of the over-written, under-dramatized script by Tony Kusher. Hell, the actors could barely get their lines out the language was so abstruse. And it contains a cast of 1000s. Or hundreds So many characters, each with a line or two you can barely keep them straight. Spielberg throws THE ENTIRE House of Representatives at us one bore at a time, and while that may be historically accurate…it makes for a damed boring sit.

Believe it or not, Sally Field (of all people) saves “Lincoln” from being a total disaster. As the borderline crazy Mary Todd Lincoln, his hysterical wife, Field amazingly humanizes her complexity, and makes Daniel Day-Lewis’s cigar store, animatronic,Disneyland Lincoln come alive for the few scenes she has with him.

Ditto Tom Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stephens a fiery, radical Abolitionist. Jones is just magnificent and funny and in a bad wig (that I actually LIKED on him)is just grand. He steals the picture and is able to say these complex words and phrases of Kusher’s (and some that Stephens evidently actually said himself) and makes them compelling and yes, even funny.

But Day-Lewis is more like DEAD Lewis here. It’s such a strained and restrained introverted interior performance that the camera can barely catch a glimmer in his dark,depthless eyes.

Walking and acting and sounding for all the world like WALTER BRENNAN(!?!?!) he just kills the movie with this monotonal performance. He LOOKS like Lincoln, granted, but Lincoln MUST have had a great charisma and warmth that is certainly not on display here.

And with two Oscars for Best Actor already in his pocket Day-Lewis will probably get another nomination because of his startling resemblance to the head on the penny in your pocket, but a win? It’s NOT a slam dunk.

Nobody’s seen “Les Miz” yet, but I think the field is wide open for somebody whose performance burns up the screen, like, we hope, Hugh Jackman does in “Les Miz” as Jean Valjean. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Alfred Hitchcock electrified the layers of latex he had to act through in “Hitchcock.” He could win.

I’m FINALLY seeing “Silver Linings Playbook” tomorrow, so I will see if  hunk Bradley Cooper has the goods to go for the gold, but in a crowded best actor field like this, even someone as supposedly secure as Joaquim(‘The Oscars are utter bullshit”) Phoenix may not even get in. Denzel Washington is getting huzzahs for “Flight” which I also haven’t seen yet. And Jon Hawkes in an iron lung in “The Sessions”, you just CAN’T leave him out.

And with two Oscars already, and another dead Spielberg horse that he’s whipping, albeit listlessly, Day-Lewis just may not be the Academy’s cup of tea if this film tanks with audiences. The critics seem to be more partial to this History Channel really, really good episode that somehow got turned into a movie, but if it flops at the box-office…And the same goes for Sally Field. She’s got two Oscars already. And so a nomination, but not a win, and Tommy Lee Jones has one, too.

Of all of the above Jones stands the best chance, but just a few minutes ago Harvey Weinstein has announced they are running Christophe Waltz for lead in the yes, also still unseen til Christmas “Django Unchained” And THAT move is so that Best Supporting Actor is open in that movie for Leonardo DiCaprio to perhaps finally score his yet un-won Oscar as an evil Southern Plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino’s newest revenge drama.This one also set during the Civil War, and I’m sure we’ll actually SEE some African-Americans in “Django”. I counted THREE with speaking lines in “Lincoln” That’s just simply disgraceful. And Mary Todd Lincoln’s “maid” or “servant” looks like a model for Vogue. Terrible and terribly insulting to African-American woman, since she’s the only female member of that race that we see. God! This movie insulted just about EVERYbody’s intelligence!

When I finally see these remaining movies all will be revealed! Tomorrow,hopefully, has a Silver Lining with “Silver Linings Playbook.”

“Hitchcock” Rules the Oscar Race He Never Won in Lifetime! And Helen Mirren as His Unsung Wife Alma WOWOWOW!

I have to declare that “Hitchcock” which I saw last night is now a leading contender in the Oscar Race! Cra-zee about it!

I haven’t enjoyed a movie so much in YEARS! LOVED LOVED LOVED IT! And Dame Helen Mirren could really win herself a second Oscar for playing Alma Reville Hitchcock, a woman whose little-known story, has fascinated me  for YEARS, as much as Hitchcock himself

I watch at least ONE Hitchcock movie a week! I HAVE to! I just watched, then re-watched with commentary “Vertigo” this weekend! In “Hitchock” Sir Anthony Hopkins was a joy to behold and absolutely indelible as the Master Himself.

I was ENTHRALLED by the great Hitch and Alma’s life-long  love story and by the actors’ great tennis game of playing off each other so magnificently. Acting Royalty showing the reason why they were knighted and damed, respectively. I’m on SUCH a high from this delightful, droll movie and “Hitchcock” totally establishes Alma Reville as a historic film presence in her own right. AT LAST! I thought this was a wonderful tribute to a woman whose contribution to world cinema as been overlooked. Until NOW. WOWOWOW!

Alma Reville,, in her lifetime, also was a woman who has beloved by all who met her. Everybody behind-the-scenes, in “the biz” knew who she was and the contribution she made to all her husband’s films. And they had nothing but respect and admiration for her. Read her daughter Pat’s “Alma Hitchcock, The Woman Behind the Man.”

Arguably, Hitch couldn’t have done what he did without her. And this film delightfully, but firmly shows that. It plants Alma firmly in the Cinema Pantheon of Greats, great editor, great screen-writer, great co-producer. great force of nature, and Dame Helen Mirren embodies all that intelligence and quiet power, and sex appeal, too, in a role that will surely get her nominated for Best Actress and may even win her her second Oscar. Her first was for “The Queen” a few years back.

Mirren embodies all those small moments of caring and support and chagrin, as well as the big ones of fury and resentment. And there’s definitely an Oscar Night excerpt scene.  The “fight” scene, which got applause tonight, in an audience of (usually)unresponsive critics! Where Alma unbottles and throttles Hitchcock within an inch of his rotond  life.

And Sir Anthony Hopkins was perfection, too! I think they will both be nominated and the Academy is going to Love,Love, Love this movie and maybe give the Hitchcocks their belated Oscar due. I’m serious! What a great holiday treat from Fox Searchlight! And how thankful am I as a movie goer and critic and Oscarologist that Searchlight DID plunk it right in the middle of the Oscar race! RIGHT WHERE IT DESERVES TO BE! This was the surprise last-minute entry into the “Derby” as Tom O’Neil calls it. Or rather the Oscar season, to be more precise. Tom’s at www.goldderby.com, of course.

I can’t wait to shout it from the housetops!  And I’m shouting it now! I LOVED THIS MOVIE! And Scarlett Johansson! She’s JUST like Janet Leigh herself! I thought I WAS watching Janet Leigh, the pro’s pro, interact with all of the above. Problem with that role is that J.Leigh was a evidently a very circumspect, tight-lipped lady in person, evidently, so this undemonstrative role doesn’t really allow ScarJo to cut loose except in the infamous shower scene, which is re-acted quite vividly and frighteningly here.

And “Hitchcock” is very, very funny too. Hitchcock on John Gavin, “Psycho” s leading man, “He’s as expressive as piece of plywood.”  And “Just call me Hitch. And hold the cock.”

And there’s many, many more droll Hollywood quotes that were zinging by so fast, I can barely remember them. Let alone recount them all here.

And up-and-coming British actor James D’Arcy is great, too as Anthony Perkins. Who of course plays Norman Bates in “Psycho.”

He, who recently played umpteen roles in “Cloud Atlas” and was the Duke of Windsor in  Madonna’s “W/E,” just nails Perkins into the gound and so does Raplh Macchio, who has all of three minutes, or less to make an impression of “Psycho” screen-writer Joseph Stefano.

Jessica Biel has the easier role of resentful Hitchcock cast-off Vera Miles. She, who got pregnant, just at the start of “Vertigo”, and was famously replaced by Kim Novak And the rest is history. Hitchcock never get over that snub. As he never got over Ingrid Bergman forsaking him for Europe  and Roberto Rossilini and Grace Kelly for becoming HRH Princess Grace of Monaco.

“Vertigo” is now considered the Number One film of all time. Beating “Citizen Kane” this year in “Sight and Sound”s tally of the Greatest Film of All Time. Clearyly Kim Novak was the right choice for that role and gave the greatest performance of her career in it.

Hitchcock won again, but he was still bitter.

Someone notes that the role of Janet Leigh’s sister (Vera Miles) in “Psycho” is a “thankless” one, and Hitchcock retorts, “A thankless role for a thankless girl.”

Buried under what seems like literally tons of make-up and a sixty-pound fat suit, Sir Anthony Hopkins acts through the layers of latex and padding and it just seems to become HIM. Hitchcock.

Based on Stephen Rabello’s book “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho'”, the classic film is here a back-drop to Hitch’s love affair with his, until now, unknown wife. Hitch is 60. And so is Alma.

And he’s longing for a “return” to his former creative powers that he has begun to feel are dimming with time. He wants to do a low-budget slasher film, which is what “Psycho” was first perceived as, and nobody wants to fund it, so he has to do it himself.

He mortgages his house and pool, without even consulting Alma. Something I don’t think Hitch would ever have done IRL. True, he did have to mortage his house. And bascially financed “Psycho” himself. But he would, in real life, have asked Alma first. And she clearly said “Yes. Do it.” He never did anything without her say-so.

Lew Wasserman (his agent) here portrayed quite cannily by the great stage actor & Tony Winner Michael Stuhlbarg(who is also in “Lincoln.” I’ll review that in two days)gets him a great deal and the happy ending is in real life “Psycho” made millions. And garnered Janet Leigh a supporting actress nomination and Hitchcock another best director nod. But neither won.

How ironic it would be if Dame Helen Mirren won an Oscar for playing his wife or that Sir Anthony Hopkins did for playing Hitch himself. The Academy is going to love this film. It could even get into Best Picture!

Meanwhile, the only suspense YOU’LL feel, is “When am I going to see this great, fun movie?” It opens Thansgiving Day! It was SUCH a luxuriant experience I can’t wait to see it again!

Not All Subways Back, My Library Didn’t Have Heat, but the Oscar Race does!

After a week of recovery that is starting to remind me of The Reconstruction half of “Gone With The Wind”, I’m happy to report that the some of the subways are working just fine. But some are not running at all. And nobody seems to know which trains are on and which are off.

Unless you go down there yourself and find out the hard way. Which I did.

The “L” was not running this afternoon, and I had to take a cross-town bus, which was running fine and not crowded to get across 14th from West to East.  The 3rd Avenue bus just zipped uptown, again, not crowded, though it was the Hour of Rush(not Limbaugh). And the N train was running just fine, but still only going to 34th Street.

And the R train is not running at all. Yet.

Still confusion reigns and you have to leave an hour or at least 30 additional minutes to get where you’re going, just in case, you run into one of these inevitable SNAFUS.

14th Street as the bus sailed Crosstown looked absolutely normal, I’m happy to report. If 14th EVER looks normal. Lots of young people literally bopping and bouncing about their business in a jaunty step that said “Wheeee! I’m Freee! I can get out of the house and also,  get back, too!”

And it’s gotten COLDER. The temperature’s now in the 30s! In hasn’t been this cold in New York since two years previous. Last year there was no winter at all. And I missed it. Now that it’s THIS cold, I just want it to go away!

And there’s supposed to be another storm coming on Wednesday!!!

Meanwhile, Anne Thompson is “digging into Anthony Breznican’s EW Oscar Predictions” at www.indiewire.com

I guess St. Anne got a copy of the not-on-the-stands-yet Entertainment Weekly Holiday Edition. And I agree with Anne almost completely I have to say. Breznican, who replaced Oscar God Dave Karger, who was well-nigh infallilble has moved on to Fandango (to do what? Write? I didn’t know Fandango was a magazine or site. I thought they just sold tickets.)

Anne is right, I think, in saying that he, Breznican, the newbie, is going “too indie” and she’s right. In this year, with the Academy facing more and much, much better studios movies than they’ve had in DECADES, the indies are going to get all but shunted to the side.

That means YOU “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Jeffrey Wells in HIS weekly podcast was witness to a roomful of Academy types NOT in love with Joaquim Phoenix AT ALL in a screening/party he went to in the Hollywood Hills. Sounds glamorous. But Jeff in his podcast this week, DID dig deep into the Supporting Actress category and fortunately mentioned the great Ann Dowd of “Compliance”(though she’s the lead) and also, surprisingly Breznican had her, too. In Entertainment Weekly, which everyone reads, esp. their Oscar Nomination prediction issue(Everything is SOOOOO early this year.) so that was important for Dowd’s chances. She COULD be the Demian Bichir of this year. The Academy just has to keep being REMINDED, since it seems IFC the distributor is not spending a dime on this one.

I knew Linda Hunt, who WON Best Supporting Actress back in the ’70s for playing an Asian MAN in a movie that I can’t remember the name of. And SHE, Ms. Hunt Didn’t do ANYTHING in terms of campaigning or ads, but in those days you didn’t have to.

And there’s two camps on upcoming “Hitchcock”. Love it. Or hate it. Variety didn’t love it and I think Jeff didn’t either. Ditto Sasha Stone AND Anne Thompson. Oscar Goddess Stone was facing a dilemma about whether she was going to write about it or not. “The Two Faces of Alfred” I’m sure a genius like Hitchcock MORE than just two faces. That’s not the name of Sasha’s article. That’s a metaphor.

Et voila!

I SUDDENLY I get invited to see it here in NYC tomorrow! So it’s a double-header! “Silver Linings Playbook” and then “Hitchcock.” I hope I can stand it. But fortunately they are both short movies. So things are picking up.

I think Joaquim Phoenix is just OUT of the jammed Actor category, which is what Jeffrey Wells saw displayed before him in Hollywood last night. There’s two or three too many Best Actor performances. And SOMEbody’s gonna get left out.

And I think it’s JP.

So I see Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson’s performances TOMORROW! Talk About an Old Time Double Featurel!

Laura Linney Lovelier Than Ever in “Hyde Park on Hudson”

Here’s the ever lovely Laura Linney who introduces Downton Abbey on PBS these days. She is kind of a masterpiece of grace and charm and talent herself. I caught up with her at the Toronto International Film Festival ’12 where she was talking with great enthusiasm about her new film “Hyde Park on the Hudson” where she plays FDR’s third cousin and secret mistress Daisy Suckley.
She lived to be over 100 and only recently has her love story with him come to light. As Laura explains.

Editing by Kevin Teller

Oscar Buzz High on “Hitchcock”

As NY struggles to recover from the devastation of “Hurricane Sandy”, I struggle to keep up with the Oscar race, such as it is, now that half of Showbiz, the NY half is basically turned off.

The big event of the Oscar week was “Hitchcock”s premiere at the AFI fest in LA. It seems the reception was rapturous, and Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com and Tom O’Neil of http://www.goldderby.com both were there as was Anne Thompson of http://www.indiewire.com. Pete and Tom O. both agreed in their reactions. Both thought that BOTH Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren will receive Oscar nods for playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and his feisty, smart collaborator/wife Alma Reville.

Hitchcock himself in his lifetime never won an Oscar, believe it or not, though his first film “Rebecca” won Best Picture in 1941.He was nominated five times for Best Director, but never won. And evidently there is a scene in “Hitchcock” where he complains about this while lying on a psychiatrist’s couch. Lolol…Can’t wait!

This OTT reaction of Hammond/O’Neil was matched by In Contention’s Kris Tapley. In Contention, his smart, savvy Oscar site has been absorbed into HitFix.com for those of you keeping track of these things.

As I’ve said before both Anne Thompson and he do a terrific weekly podcast called Oscar Talk, which airs after noon EST, even this week, with Tapley in New York. He said he was the only member of HitFix’s team that still had power. So there he was sounding loud and clear on Oscar Talk with Anne.

Anne Thompson did NOT like “Hitchcock” AT ALL. And she and Kris practically came to blows over it. In the end the gallant Mr. Tapley smoothed things over by a bet. He bet her that BOTH Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren will get nominated by the Academy for Best Actor and Best Actress. And Anne bet him a dinner with a bottle of wine that NEITHER would “get in.”!!!!

Now they RARELY differ to this extent. I have to say that I have not had the privilege of seeing “Hitchcock” myself yet. But Anne Thompson, as I do, feels Hitchcock is her “cinema idol” and she, unlike myself, does not want to see his reputation “tarnished” by these two recent depictions of him on film. “Hitchcock” and HBO’s “The Girl.”

So we have Pete Hammond, Tom O’Neil and Kris Tapley all saying “Yea” and only Anne Thompson saying “Nay.” These are died-in-wool Oscarologists and except for Tapley all are in my age group. I tend to think that they are right, the guys. Let’s face it, the Academy is all men.

And I think, at least in the Best Actress race, Dame Helen Mirren, already an Oscar winner for “The Queen” six years ago, is VERY likely to replace either Emmanuelle Riva or Qu’venzhane Wallis, who are both more than shaky in their slots.

The Best Actor race is the one that is soooo jammed with contenders. I think Daniel Day-Lewis will get nominated for sure for “Lincoln” which I saw, but am embargoes not to write about fully until Nov.7(!) So you’ll have to wait for my take on this heavily in contention film .

There’s also the upcoming Hugh Jackman in “Les Miz” (still unseen) and then John Hawkes in “The Sessions” is another certainty. And Denzel Washington in “Flight” just entered that race, with strong reviews. I really wonder about Joaquim Phoenix now.

After his remarked upon remarks about the Oscar being “utter bullshit” and a “bad tasting, dirty carrot” that he “didn’t want to taste” or “eat”, that and the failure of “The Master” on all fronts and its’ divisive  reaction critically may very well squeeze him out of this tight category. Especially with Sir Anthony and Hugh Jackman coming on strong.

I guess I feel more normal today. This is the first time that I have written about the Oscars since the storm hit.

And for the record, no, I did not see “Silver Linings Playbook” which is one of the many screenings that got cancelled because of the storm.

Also, Tom O. did not mention Scarlett Johansson as a contender for Best Supporting Actress for “Hitchcock” for playing the late Janet Leigh. I think Kris Tapley did and so did Pete Hammond.

Pete Hammond, since http://www.Deadline.com has merged with Variety is now probably the most important Oscar prognosticator in the biz.

Jeff Wells wrote a very weird review where he doesn’t mention the Oscar chances of either Hopkins or Mirren. You can read it at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

And Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com was there, too,  but hasn’t posted her review yet. It doesn’t officially open til Thanksgiving Day.

Oh, and Oscar God Dave Karger, tweeted after seeing “Hitchcock” that he thought BOTH Hopkins and Mirren had “decent shots.”

Some Lights Go Back on, but the subways STILL are not all back.

Life in NYC post-Sandy is symbolized to me by that dangling, dislodged crane over W.57th St. It seems like everything here is dangling by a thread now. Nothing is certain anymore. You keep waiting for the next shoe, or crane, to drop. And there’s another storm coming this week!

The buses and subways are now back to charging fares. They are no longer free. I found that out the hard way when I went to return some items to the library today. Ouch! They should keep it free until ALLLLL of the subways are back! And a lot are not.

I would say it’s like 3/5s there. Lower Manhattan is still a frightening dead zone, though lights have come back on. But not the subways. Buses go down there at night, I understand, but I wouldn’t venture there. New York like this is scary enough in the daytime, nevermind at night.

But you do go stir crazy if you stay in too much. But going out with the weather turning colder than its’ been in a long time in NY,(we barely had a winter last year), if you’re not bundled up like an Eskimo, the chill winds can kill you.

Today the temperature kept dropping, and I had to go out, and go to the library cross town, as I said, then back uptown to the TV station to drop off this week’s “Stephen Holt Show” and that’s a long, cold walk, let me tell you.

And with W.57th STILL a danger zone, buses were being re-routed over to 9th Ave. from Fifth and Sixth and 7th…well, you get the picture.

Then they continue on back on their regular routes once they get past The Dangling Crane.
And who do I meet on the bus going back home, after dark, from the TV station? Well, one of my favorite British character actresses of all time Miriam Margoyles!

She was a particular favorite of mine from the many,many film and TV roles I saw here in when I lived in London in the 70s and now that I live here, I kept following her work.

She’s in town she told me “safe and warm on the Upper West Side” to do a two performance only stint of her one-woman show “Dickens Women” at the Morgan Library. It sounds delicious! And particularly with Madame Margoyles playing Dickens perfect-for-her eccentric characters.

Her voice is so deep and warm and resonant, the chill New York night didn’t seem so cold anymore. She told me she was on her way to see “The Heiress” starring Jessica Chastain on Broadway. And I told her I was also seeing it later this week.

I also took a wild guess and thought that she and Dame Helen Mirren might be very good friends. Same age. British. Acting royalty. AND THEY ARE!

I told Miriam that Dame Helen had just had great success the night before at the AFI film festival with “Hitchcock” which she didn’t know anything about.

“Oh, I love Helen! Don’t you? She’s a wonderful person!” and I concurred saying that I had interviewed her many times.

“And Sir Anthony Hopkins is playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Dame Helen is playing his wife,” I told her and she continued to enthuse.

“I’ve worked many times with both of them. They are both lovely people!”

I told her that people are thinking that they BOTH could get Oscar nominations.

And I told her is was worried about her play because the Morgan Library is in the “Dark” zone…er, I think…

And she said, “The Lights will be on by then!”

Actors! They keep this city buzzing!

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