a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Oscar HeadlessJust where do I think everything is today as the end of October, always a crucial month for Oscar, is less than two weeks away.

I have a lot of questions and there are some clear answers.

Both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories are all but sewn up at the moment. The winner, I mean, or the Front-Runner, always a deadly term, especially in the Best Picture category. Best Actor or Actress and especially in Supporting don’t suffer the fate the leader of the pack in Best Picture does. Different rules apply.

Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” and Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood” seem to have locked down their Oscars already.

There was a lot of category shifting, a few weeks back(when I didn’t have Internet access to comment more swiftly on it) for the wonderful, under-appreciated Arquette. She could’ve been in Best Actress, but, and this is another thing that has changed this year, methinks, GoldDerby.com and its’ experts(Tom O, why O why am I not one?) decided that Supporting was where Patricia dominated their charts, and so IFC, the distributor of “Boyhood”, dutifully put Arquette in the lesser race. Why? Because Gold Derby said so! A few weeks back.

Now, this IS a change. Tom O’Neil’s http://www.goldderby.com has always been exhaustively covering the Oscars. But never, before, I think, EVER (and people will remind me if this isn’t so) NEVER have they LED the race so clearly as they have with placing Patricia Arquette in Supporting Actress for “Boyhood”. And whatever I thought of the movie(too long, couldn’t relate to the kid) I LOVED Arquette’s soulful 12 year journey as the Boy in questions mother. The good Mom, always an Academy favorite.The Earth Mother, who’s trying her best to do her best.

And I think that’s the biggest award “Boyhood” is going to get from the Academy. MAYbe Original screenplay. But not a lot else. More nominations for sure. Like Ethan Hawke also in Supporting for his best-ever turn as the deadbeat-dad-with-a-heart-of-gold.

But I don’t think Gold Derby is really deciding the other races, but its’ putting Arquette where she is for sure now going to land, is a first, I think. Making Gold Derby essential reading. The other categories there are all not so clear at all. Take a look. They’re confused and confusing. Up and down. In and Out. Well, Tom styles it as a horse race, a derby, and he’s right. That’s exactly what the Oscar Race, which he always calls “the Derby” is, when you boil it all down.

A lot is still up in the air. Although they have got Julianne Moore in their #1 spot, and I think that’s right. Right now anyway. Until Harvey Weinstein potentially dynamites J-Moo’s rock-solid position for “Still Alice,” which I truly loved BTW with his Amy Adams starrer “Big Eyes,” which opens in late December.Is that going to be too late now that the deserving Julianne has gotten so strong? Perhaps. Maybe Harvey will move the Opening of “Big Eyes” up. If he does, watch out!

I thought Julianne wouldn’t have a prayer after I saw “Maps to the Stars” deflate right in front of my eyes at the Toronto Film Festival. In that she plays a VERY unsympathetic, aging actress, and the film is pretty much a mess. But SHE’S great! And she won Best Actress at Cannes.

But “Still Alice” is a lovely,searing film about an important issue, early on-set Alzheimer’s, and Moore is simply astounding as she goes through every startling, debilitating change of the disease. From A to Z and back again. Moore’s work in “Still Alice” makes Julie Christie’s a few years back on a similar topic in “Away From Her” look like a doodle. A mere sketch. Marion Cotillard won that year for her tour-de-force as Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”.

And though there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, hence no requisite happy ending,  it’s a supremely graceful film, and the ending is appropriately in tune with the serious subject matter. And you have to applaud the filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and his partner Richard Glatzer for telling this difficult story right. They’ve even gotten Alec Baldwn to be sympathetic, too, as the do-the-right-thing hubby. Alec Baldwin warm and fuzzy? Will wonders never since?!?. Kristen Stewart shines, too, in a change of pace role for her as Moore’s quarrelsome actress daughter.

I thought, as you know, Rosamund Pike, was a category leader in Best Actress for my immensely liked “Gone Girl”, but then I saw Moore seal the deal in “Still Alice”. She’s admitting to being 50 and she soars. And this performance,plus her challenging, all -out vain-to-the-max actress in “Maps to the Stars” and her Cannes win, all add up to Oscar in my book, and I think the Academy’s, too.

While others are rushing to judgment, I personally feel the other categories, Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor are all over the place right now, and the rest of the remaining unseen films need to be seen. They may figure heavily this year. Especially in Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. I don’t think we’ve seen the winners there yet. But it’s vague, to me, for sure.There’s a lot of variables and a lot of bloody contests to be fought still. And it’s only OCTOBER! Wait til November when the Oscar combatants’ gloves REALLY come off. And oh yes, “The Theory of Everything” finally opens!

But I guess what I’m trying to say is, Gold Derby has now become more important than ever this year . So go there and enjoy the podcasts and predictions and videos. I do. And I think Academy members and for sure the films’ publicists do,too.

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