a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Julianne Moore 2

22 year old star Shailene Woodley’s Oscar chances are on the rise because her new film “The Fault In Our Stars, “is breaking box-office records, and changing the face of the Best Actress Oscar race even this early in the pre predicting season.

Woodley’s searing portrayal of a teen dying of cancer shocked me at the range of pain and power this young woman exhibited in a sad love story of her star-crossed affection for a another dying teen, also a cancer patient, played effectively by Ansel Elgort..

It was the surprise #1 hit at the box-office this week, upending all kinds of expectations and predictions. This micro-budgeted tale of two seriously ill teens has made an incredible impact with movie goers, most of them young females or YA as the industry likes to call ’em, Young Adults.

And Oscar NEVER ignores this kind of vote. The public’s. They vote with their ticket-buying dollars. And they are buying tickets en masse to see this five handkerchief weepie that is leaving audiences in tears around the country and around the globe.

And they are liking the sadness of the doomed duo. They are LIKING crying their way home. This movie about death, death, and more death, as unlikely a topic as that seems, is making them FEEL. Something, one wonders, if they’ve ever thought about before. The Germans have a word for it Schadenfreude.

I sometimes think all great love stories have to have one or two of the young lovers dying. See “Romeo and Juliet.” Who can forget the surprising B.O. success “A Love Story” had in its’ day?

It was a best-seller, and propelled non-actress/model Ali McGraw on to the cover of Time Magazine. And to an Oscar Nomination. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” was the trademark catch phrase that was plastered everywhere that year. The public went in droves to see Ali McGraw die. “Fault” is like that. It’s a neglected genre. But “Fault in Our Stars” has put all this weepiness front and center once again.

And Shailene Woodley’s amazing, dynamic turn as the dying teen is powering this film into the stratosphere of Oscar consideratioiin. By that I mean, a serious film, about death, no less, and cancer, moreover, with a young, a very young actress who confounds expectations, is just the kind of performance the Academy loves to honor. Jennifer Lawrence anyone?

David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” won acclaim at Cannes for the performance of Julianne Moore as an aging Hollywood actress trying to hang on to her youth.I thought it was being rushed out in June, but no.  It’s now opening in the fall, when the season REALLY gets under way. Which is good, meaning the producers behind it, think it has Awards chances.

Out of the Cannes gate, Moore was a clear front-runner. She’s had four nominations and never won. Ditto Amy Adams, who is coming up this fall with FIVE nominations and no win, but she has Harvey Weinstein and his mega-hype-machine in “Big Eyes.” I thought the Best Actress Oscar was definitely Adams’ to lose.

But now with “The Fault in Our Stars” powering to #1 and Shailene Woodley on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine this week, looking almost unrecognizably glamourous, I think she’s here in the Oscar conversation to stay. And the movie, based on a popular YA novel, may have equally surprising “legs”as they say, and stick around to really harass Julienne Moore and Amy Adams come the fall.

I mean, it’s only June and already the Best Actress race is red-hot. If Shailene did manage to win this one, I think she supplants Jennifer Lawrence as the youngest winner of Best Actress in Oscar history.

Or is it just too early to think like this? No. It’s never too early to think about Oscar. Or why are you reading this article?

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