a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for October, 2015

Oscar Hallowe’en!BOO! It’s Scary Out There for a Contender

Joy1EddieandlilliIt’s Oscar Hallowe’en! Boo! Did I scare you? Not as much as some of the box-office news is scary for some of the Oscar Wannabee Contenders. “Steve Jobs” has just about died at the Box-Office. Michael Fassbender in the title role might not even get nominated! As I said before about “The Joy of Typing”(my title for “The Social Network”) who in the Academy wants to see a movie about the Internet? NO ONE.

Some Academy members don’t even HAVE a computer. You have to call them on the antiquated machine known as the telephone. Or worse, WRITE THEM A LETTER. Some don’t even have email.

They hate the Internet with a vengeance. It’s changed their world in too many ways, none of which they understand, or like (Don’t believe me? Look back at few years at “The Joy of Typing”)

Also sinking like a stone at the B.O. is, sadly, “Suffragette.” Women will love this movie. Men will hate it and the Academy as I’ve always said is made up of the SWORM. The Straight White Old Rich Men, who dominate Hollywood(and the Oscars) since the dawn of time. They’re gonna hate it, since there is NOT ONE sympathetic male in the entire movie.

And “Suffragette”s lack of relatability (to men) will sink it at the Oscars and Carrie Mulligan’s very good performance, too. Perhaps…Sad for Carrie. But good news for Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn.” “Suffragette’s lose, may be the charming, small period film’s gain. “Brooklyn” I mean. As Brit Carrie goes down with her ship, Irish Saorise will rise with hers as the token femme Celt.

A film that is also going to scare all the other contenders is the upcoming “Joy”. With Jennifer Lawrence once again being up for Best Actress for her role as a house-wife who turns into a mega-businesswoman. A single mom, at that. And if you can find it(it’s not hard. It’s everywhere now.)on the Internet, the trailer REALLY looks great for Jennifer to perhaps do it again and win a SECOND Best Actress Oscar.  She’s a star. She’s under 25. She’s box-office. It’s David O. Russell-directed(again) and it’s going to be her v. Brie Larson in “Room.” You mark my words.And strangely Brie Larson’s character is ALSO named Joy. So it’ll be Joy v. Joy at the Oscars this year in the first time in AGES since we’ve really had a race going on in that category.And that IS a joy!

Cate Blanchett’s excellent “Truth” is also tanking at the box-office so she’ll probably be nominated for her other upcoming film “Carol.” But having won so recently for “Blue Jasmine,” I don’t think they’ll give her a third Oscar this year, though Jennifer Lawrence very well may be looking at her second.

Also looking straight at a second Oscar is Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”. Based on a true story(see above^) and featured magnificently in VOGUE with Lupita N’yongo on the cover with a spread that shows his remarkable transition. Lili Elbe one of the first, if not THEE first transgender pioneer, is such a tragic figure. It may also tug at the Academy’s hard heart. I think it will. Eddie makes a beautiful girl. His performance as Lili is nothing short of incredible. He’s even better than he was in “The Theory of Everything” which he won Best Actor for last year.

NOT scaring anyone is Johnny Depp’s “Black Mass” another mis-fire. People admire his performance as Whitey Bulger, a mob informant/killer (Haven’t we seen him in this role before?Wasn’t it called “Donny Brasco”?) Critics like HIM, but not the movie and It’s not scaring up much $ either. Though “The Martian” is! And that could be our Best Picture winner, BTW. And could garner Matt Damon a nomination as Best Actor.THAT is the red elephant in the room.

Also, everyone is afraid that it just may be Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar year FINALLY. But “The Revenant” is still to be seen. I didn’t think it would be ready in time, but it looks like it is. Will the public embrace it more than “The Martian”? Hard to say. And Ridley Scott, “The Martian”s director has never won an Oscar, though his film “Gladiator” did.

So BOO! And Happy Hallowe’en, dear readers, dear cineastes! I’m BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!

Gotham Awards Nominations Announced! Brie Larson leads the pack!

RoomCate Carol 1Lili GradmaThe Gotham Awards just announced their nominees today. And once again, this is proving that this year’s Best Actress race is indeed a race. We have front-runner(IMHO) Brie Larson for “Room”, Cate Blanchett in “Carol” and as I predicted in Provincetown where I saw “Grandma” Lily Tomlin. I think Brie Larson is going to win this. The Gothams held on Nov.30 are an East Coast version of the Indie Spirit Awards which will also be announcing very, very soon.

Below is the list of nominees in all the Gotham categories.Including the surprise nomination of Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, the trans actress nominated for the shot on a cell phone(or something like that) “Tangerine.” They nominated her in the Best Breakthrough Actor category, which includes both genders. Harmony Korine, a guest on my program a few seasons back was nominated in this categories. And is STILL one of my biggest hit-getters on You Tube.

Good luck to all!

And may the best woman win!

Best Feature
“Carol”
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
“Heaven Knows What”
“Spotlight”
“Tangerine”

Best Actor
Christopher Abbott, “James White”
Kevin Corrigan, “Results”
Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy”
Peter Sarsgaard, “Experimenter”
Michael Shannon, “99 Homes”

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Blythe Danner, “I’ll See You in My Dreams”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Bel Powley, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
Lily Tomlin, “Grandma”
Kristen Wiig, “Welcome to Me”

Breakthrough Actor
Rory Culkin, “Gabriel”
Arielle Holmes, “Heaven Knows What”
Lola Kirke, “Mistress America”
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, “Tangerine”
Mya Taylor, “Tangerine”

Breakthrough Director
Desiree Akhavan, “Appropriate Behavior”
Jonas Carpigano, “Mediterranea”
Marielle Heller, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
John Magary, “The Mend”
Josh Mond, “James White”

Best Screenplay
“Carol, Phyllis Nagy
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” Marielle Heller
“Love & Mercy,” Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner
“Spotlight,” Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
“While We’re Young,” Noah Baumbach

Best Documentary
“Approaching the Elephant”
“Cartel Land”
“Heart of a Dog”
“Listen to Me Marlon”
“The Look of Silence”

Meet Kire Paputts of the heart-wrenching “Rainbow Kid” at TIFF

One of the best, un-sung films at TIFF “The Rainbow Kid”. here’s the very talented filmmaker Canadian Kire Paputts who made this miracle happen. Part one.  And see my rave review earlier last month. “The Rainbow Kid” is about a runaway boy with Down’s Syndrome.

Camera ~ Graeme Phillips

Editing ~ Kevin Teller

 

 

Oscar hopefuls? Brie Larsen in “Room,” Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation” emerge to much Oscar Buzz post-TIFF

The WalkBeastsRoomIt’s that time of year again. Cinemas are currently just about exploding with Oscar-seeking pictures, and Oscar hopefuls among the actors’ performances abound.

Of course, there’s the “Throw-Up Movie” (otherwise known as “The Walk”) which we can just about discount. Though it opened the New York Film Festival recently, NEWS programs have been devoting SEGMENTS, ENTIRE SEGMENTS on how this movie is making people run to the Men’s Room(or the ladies’) and vomit, it’s so violently vertiginous. It’s about Phillippe Petit’s tight-rope walk between the World Trade Center Towers pre-9/11. The special effects are so graphically believable and intense that it’s making movie-goers violently ill.

And as Maurice DuBois the host of CBS Evening News in New York said on the air yesterday, “Why bother going?” (to a movie that makes you sick.)

So that automatically “x-es” out “The Walk” Oscar chances. Academy voters aren’t going to risk blowing their cookies.

Meanwhile, two other films that are very powerful and compelling are starting to screen post-TIFF, and are opening VERY soon. Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” and Cary Fukanaga’s “Beasts of No Nation.” Both are very, very good films, but they have in common two things. One, they are both tough sits. And two, they are dominated and propelled by Award-caliber performances by their two leads. Actress Brie Larson in “Room” and the powerhouse Idris Elba in “Beasts.”

I heard a lot about these movies at TIFF, but I didn’t see either there. And the Oscar buzz has been building and building, especially around Brie Larson, and deservedly so.

But just saw these great, gut-wrenching films  last night and the night before, and both can be described as harrowing. Certainly the ordeals that their lead characters  go through are horrifying in the extreme. And also, both boast superb performances by the juvenile actors in them, who also carry their pictures. Newcomers Jacob Tremblay in “Room” and Abraham Atta in “Beasts.” Will the academy nominate all FOUR of these stupendous performances? They might.

Brie Larson really jumps into the mainstream here with an extremely moving performance that the Academy will find hard to deny. It’s a role with a range unlike any other. It is a story ripped from the headlines. A young girl is kidnapped and imprisoned by a violent rapist. She is locked up in a “Room” (actually a garden shed) and repeatedly raped . This horrifying event has happened seven years before the movie starts and it is not for the weak-hearted by any means. The child Jack she has had by her captor who impregnated her, is now five years old and as played by Tremblay, is a beguiling, smart, inquisitive child. He’s the narrator and beating heart of this frightening movie.

The first half of the film is extremely claustrophobic as it takes place entirely in the “Room” and we begin to feel as trapped as the characters, Joy and Jack. How they ever survive this ordeal is truly incredible. And of course it makes you think of all the horrific, unthinkable real-life cases where this has happened. And it is interesting to note that this particular horror story has not been portrayed on-screen before.

And Brie Larson, an Indie actress new to me, did win me over with her intensely  gripping portrayal of a mother ironically named Joy. Her life force just won’t let her quit no matter how dire and unforgiving the situation. She never gives up hope that she will escape her captor and her devotion to her child is so strong and complete and her creativity in keeping her young son happy, occupied and well, despite their grimmer-than-grim circumstances is edifying, enlightening and awe-inspiring.Understated, brunette this time and with no make-up whatsoever, Larson’s is a completely vanity free performance. Kudos to Larson who is currently leading the list of Best Actress hopefuls all over the Internet and Oscarology. If you see this film, you will see why. She may be unstoppable.

Jacob Tremblay as the five-year old Jack, whose point of view the picture is told from, is equally award-worthy.What, at such a young age, he is required to do  is staggering. He is an innocent that has no concept that there is a world outside “Room” no matter how many times his mother imaginatively tells him tales about it. The Academy could nominate him in Supporting, if it really stops to think about the power and difficulty of this challenging role, especially for such a young child, in this disturbing, unforgettable indie movie. It’s bleak, but it’s power can’t be denied. I’m still thinking about it.

A completely different race is going to be run by Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation” as he battles his way to a Best Actor nomination as the terrifying, brutal war lord in “Beasts of No Nation.” The Academy caveat is this. Will they watch it?

“Beasts” is just as powerful as “Room,” as it depicts an un-named African civil war. It is  also told from the bewildered perspective of a child. Agu, the incredible Abraham Atta, is also kidnapped as Joy and by extension Jack are in “Room.” This time the abduction is by an entire band of renegade African “soldiers”. Butchers, really. Who have killed Agu’s father and brother right  in front of him and have destroyed his entire town.

“Beasts” is over-long and one of the most bloody, violent films to ever be in the Oscar conversation. It is elevated to Academy heights, by Elba’s towering performance. As his reign of terror begins to come to an end and his world falls apart around him towards the end of “Beasts”, Elba does have the requisite number of Academy-friendly acting moments as he begins to worry “Was it worth it?”

And after last year’s debacle of them NOT nominating  African-Americans Ava DeVernay and David Oyelowo for directing and starring in “Selma” respectively, they MUST nominated a person of color this year. And it could be the magnificent British black actor Idris Elba who benefits from this terrible, seemingly racist oversight.

An African war-lord in the Best Actor race? Well, didn’t Forrest Whittaker WIN a Best Actor Oscar a number of years back for playing Idi Amin?

Will Brie Larson be in the Best Actress conversation? For sure. Will Idris Elba FINALLY got an Oscar nomination? I hope so.

Tony Nominee Bryce Pinkham talks about his great charity “Zara Aina”

Bryce 2

Here’s Part 2 of my great interview with one of Broadway’s Best Bryce Pinkham, the Tony & Drama Desk Nominee for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” Here Bryce whose known for playing villains on Broadway (GGLAM & “Ghost”) gets to talk about something really close to his heart, the charity he founded to help underprivileged children in Madagascar which he calls “Zara Aina.” I’ve included a great clip of Zara Aina’s activities that is really inspiring and let’s you know that Bryce is indeed a great, giving guy with a social conscience as big as his talent. The video clip also tells you how to get involved with Zara Aina.

Only a Broadway hero would do something beautiful like this. Not a Broadway villain.

Camera ~ Phil Sokoloff

Editing~ Kevin Teller

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