a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Seeing the wonderful “Hitchcock” again for the THIRD time, in light of the recent Golden Globe & SAG nominations, where Dame Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s late unsung wife, delighted me once again, and in ways I didn’t expect.

The Sat.nite NYC audience was very appreciative and laughed more than at the other two very packed press screenings I saw it at previously. And THIS time it also again got applause at the end! And this from the paying public!?

Something really good is going on here that maybe most critics have overlooked. It PLEASES  audiences, just as Hitchcock’s films did. The audience was always in the fore-front of Hitchcock’s mind.

I was enchanted all over again and was more impressed than ever with Helen Mirren’s marvelously layered, intelligent portrayal as Hitchcock’s real life wife, who was his greatest and until now unknown collaborator. Editor, writer, wife, critic, she gave Hitchcock her all and never asked for any credit and “didn’t want any” to quote director Sascha Gervasi.

You can see my interview with him lower in this blog, and also at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow bien sur.

Mirren really dominated the film tonight in a way I hadn’t noticed her doing before. Before it had seem like a balanced duet between these two great actors. But tonight it struck me for the first time as Alma’s film. She seems the dominant one in the relationship, oddly, and not him. At home, he seems if not hen-pecked, then strangely passive, or submissive, next to Mirren’s fiery red-headed Alma.

Also since I saw “Hitchcock” last I read the Steve Rubello book it’s based on “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Pyscho.” And interestingly, there’s one, whole chapter on Ed Gein, the opening chapter of the book. And not ONE on Alma! Director Gervasi and his screenwriter really did take it upon themselves to make this Alma’s story, Her Time To Shine, since even Rubello dismisses or overlooks her in his book. Just as she always has been heretofore.

And seeing it tonight with a paying audience of civilian movie-goers, I came away more sure than ever that Dame Helen Mirren was going to get yet ANOTHER Oscar nomination for playing Alma Hitchcock. And the Golden Globes and the SAGs agree with me.

Also in Mirren’s favor is that fact that she is playing a REAL PERSON. A woman, who, historically, has been sinfully overlooked. And so not only is Mirren delivering a powerhouse performance on all levels and looking fabulous at nearly 70 and often in a bathing suit, doing so,she is reclaiming this lost woman’s story, and it’s a great and important one, for the ages. And what an original screen female character Alma Reville Hitchcock is!

Hitchock complains on the imaginary psychiatirist couch to his evil angel, the ghost of Mass Murderer Ed Gein, that he never got an Oscar, and well, I think this year the Academy is going to correct that by giving his smart, stylish, unheralded wife an Oscar nomination. A posthumous recognition, but recognition still.

Helen Mirren also has the advantage in that Alma Reville Hitchcock is a totally unknown personality to us. We know she had a posh British accent, but we don’t know how she walked, talked or “used her hands” as Dame Helen put it in an interview. So Mirren was free to create this most original character of this most original woman out of whole cloth. And we accept and applaud the authority and precision with which she protrays her.

And you know the Oscars, they’ve got to have a Dame somewhere at the Oscars. And Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are also in the mix. But of the three Dame Heleln’s is the most vivid performance.

But strangely, Sir Anthony Hopkins, however, was left out of both the important precursor nominations the GG and the SAGS. What to make of that? Well, it’s a very crowded Best Actor race this year. But his performance is so touching and multi-faceted,acting under what looks like MOUNTAINS of latex make-up and the fattest of fat suits, that the Academy may reward him, too, with a nomination.

The Best Actress race is wide open, still, with Naomi Watts perhaps muddying the waters with “The Impossible.” Keira Knightley’s nomination should be called the Impossible, which is a shame. For the controversial, deconstructed “Anna Karenina.”

The only locks are still the $400 million dollar girl Jennifer Lawrence who has the “Hunger Games” in her favor, although it is the “Silver Linings Playbook” that she is likely to be nominated for, and Jessica Chastain for her stoic CIA operative in “Zero Dark Thirty”. Marion Cotillard is looking pretty solid, still, as I’ve said all along since I saw at TIFF ’12, her marvelous, miraculous performances as double amputee in “Rust and Bone” and then there’s Rachel Weisz, coming up on the outside in a small British Indie “Deep Blue Sea,” which I saw at TIFF’11.

Weisz already has an Oscar (For “The Constant Gardener”), and so do Cotillard and Mirren, for “La Vie En Rose” and “The Queen” respectively. But I think it’s now ~

1. Jennifer Lawrence

2. Jessica Chastain

3. Marion Cotillard

4. Helen Mirren

5. Rachel Weisz

“The Impossible” is not doing well in this, its’ Opening Weekend, and if that continues, poor Naomi Watts will be a wash as well, in this suddenly contentious category.

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