a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for November, 2015

“Steve Jobs” is a Mess, Except for Kate Winslet, Who Will Get Its’ Sole Oscar Nomination

Kate Winselt Stave J. 1Ok. So I finally did it. I went to see “Steve Jobs,” a film I have been resisting since TIFF. And I have to say, that except for Kate Winslet’s surprising, dowdy turn as  Jobs’ dogged, dedicated,  Slavic Gal Friday, I really pretty much hated it. It was the mess I thought it would be, and if it hadn’t been for Winslet, I would’ve walked out.

How many times in the first third of this epic landslide of verbiage did I fall asleep? At least, three, and I woke up only to find them STILL TALKING!!! And they talk and they talk and they walk and they walk. I thought I was watching a re-run of “West Wing.” This was so flat, and so dull, and so confusing, it made me nostalgic for “The Joy of Typing.” (Look it up) I never thought I would type this sentence, but I missed David Fincher.

At least, HE made a film about the Internet look interesting. This is just flat, flat, flat. And poor Kate Winslet has to hold the whole film together, by running on every five minutes and saying “We’ve got FIVE MINUTES!”

You see, her boss Steve Jobs is always running late, and it’s her job as his right arm to keep things moving and Brave Kate does so, and nearly saves this cod-fish of a movie.

It’s everything I thought it would be. And less.

And poor Michael Fassbender is just mis-cast in this career-ending role. I predict he will NOT get a Best Actor nomination for playing this majorly unsympathetic asshole geek.Nor will this film break into the Best Picture race. Aaron Snoreking, I mean Sorkin, has given Fassbender REAMS of dialogue, or should I say monologue? to just endlessly spout in a monotone so deadly, I couldn’t believe it was the same actor I’ve esteemed so much in so many other movies.Like “12 Years a Slave,” “Shame,””Hunger” and many, many others.

You can’t make an interesting movie about the Internet! It’s impossible.

And as far as the Academy is concerned, they hate the internet, and resist it in every form it takes as an intrusion and distortion of their lives. Some the Voting Members don’t even HAVE a computer, but are too embarrassed to admit it.

And the first third of the movie, when Steve Jobs was young, well, young-ish, is so convoluted and abstruse, that I can’t imagine the AMPAS-ers watching much more than fifteen minutes of it, if that.

That’s unfortunate, because it does get better, a little. And Kate W. does get her big Oscar-y breakdown scene, but it’s past the half-way mark, when she finally tells Steve Jobs what she really thinks of him. Winslet loses it in grand style, and who doesn’t like a scene where the secretary FINALLY tells her boss to go to jump in a lake.(I’m understating it.)

This “Steve Jobs”  is flopping majorly at the box-office and being yanked off screens right, left and center. There was ALREADY ANOTHER Steve Jobs movie called just “Jobs” starring Ashton Kucher, and that bombed, too.

Who was the genius who thought that two bombs are better than one?

But Kate is great as she always is. And she’ll be the token nomination that this mistake of a film gets.

Why did I pay to see it when I knew going in it might be as bad as it was(I was warned), well, I’m an Oscarologist and like it or not this film has been talked and talked and bandied about as an Oscar contender. It’s been part of the Oscar conversation since TIFF. But the talk stops right here.



Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

Thanksgiving Day ParadeHappy Thanksgiving Day to all my dear readers and cineastes and lovers of theatre!

Indie Spirit Noms, “Carol” 6, “Spotlight”5, Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara BOTH Best Actress Noms

Roonwy MARA 2Carol Blanchett 1The most interesting thing to me about the just-announced Indie Spirit Award Nominations is that BOTH Cate Blanchett AND Rooney Mara landed in the Best Actress race. Probably effectively canceling each other out. Both here and at the Oscars.

The Golden Globes have said that Mara is a lead. And she is. Blanchett and she are equal co-leads. And now that the Indie Spirits have followed the GGs placements, I think Blanchett and Mara will repeat this and both land in the Best Actress category at the Oscars come January.

Also, poor “Room.” If ever there was an Indie Spirit film, it was “Room.” It needed to get more than just Brie Larson in Best Actress, which she totally deserves. She’ll win it, and Blanchett and Mara, will, as I said, split the “Carol” vote.

Indie Spirit Awards are for VERY low-budget films that are financed in America. So, like for instance “The Danish Girl” and “Brooklyn” among others were not eligible here. While the shot on an iPhone “Tangerine” about drag queens in LA WAS. And its’ two trans stars WERE nominated, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez is up against Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Brie Larson, which I think is some kind of wonderful. Mya Taylor also of “Tangerine” also trans landed in Best Supporting Actress!

Unfortunately, both blonde Supp. Actress wannabees, Elizabeth Banks for “Love and Mercy” and Rachel McAdams for “Spotlight” did not get in, but McAdams of course was included in the Ensemble Award that “Spotlight” was handed just out right. Too bad they don’t have a Best Ensemble Oscar.

However, the SAG(Screen Actors Guild) does, and “Spotlight” will most likely win that award that night. “Spotlight” is generally considered the Oscar front-runner, but “Carol” beat it here. Hmmm…

Below are the list of all the nominees.

“Beasts of No Nation”

Cary Joji Fukunaga, “Beasts of No Nation”
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, “Anomalisa”
David Robert Mitchell, “It Follows”
Sean Baker, “Tangerine”
Todd Haynes, “Carol”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Abraham Attah, “Beasts of No Nation”
Ben Mendelsohn, “Mississippi Grind”
Christopher Abbott, “James White”
Jason Segel, “The End of the Tour”
Kudos Seihon, “Mediterranea”

Bel Powley, “Diary of a Teenage Girl”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, “Tangerine”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”

Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”
Kevin Corrigan, “Results”
Michael Shannon, “99 Homes”
Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy”
Richard Jenkins, “Bone Tomahawk”


Cynthia Nixon, “James White”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Anomalisa”
Marin Ireland, “Glass Chin”
Mya Taylor, “Tangerine”

Robin Bartlett, “H.”

Charlie Kaufman, “Anomalisa”
Donald Marguiles, “The End of the Tour”
Phyllis Nagy, “Carol”
S. Craig Zahler, “Bone Tomahawk”
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, “Spotlight”

Cary Joji Fukunaga, “Beasts of No Nation”
Ed Lachman, “Carol”
Joshua James Richards, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me”
Michael Gioulakis, “It Follows”
Reed Morano, “Meadowland”

Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie, “Heaven Knows What”
Julio C. Perez IV, “It Follows”
Kristan Sprague, “Manos Sucias”
Nathan Nugent, “Room”
Tom McArdle, “Spotlight”

“Best of Enemies”
“Heart of a Dog”
“The Look of Silence”
“The Russian Woodpecker”

Indie Spirits Awards nominations:
‘Carol’ leads with 6, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ at 5, ‘Spotlight’ has 4

“A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence”
“Embrace of the Serpent”
“Son of Saul”

“James White”
“Manos Sucias”
“Songs My Brothers Taught Me”
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”

Emma Donoghue, “Room”
Jesse Andrews, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, and Myna Joseph, “The Mend”
Jonas Carpignano, “Mediterranea”
Marielle Heller, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (best feature made for under $500,000)
“Christmas, Again”
“Heaven Knows What”
“Out of My Mind”

Perfect Antidote to Winter! Hot Nights@a Cool Shul!

Jerry Lewis1Sometimes a critic’s life is a delightful and even hilarious one. And one such night a couple of weeks back, I got a very pleasant surprise when I stumbled in to the first presentation of Hot Nights @ a Cool Shul at the Actor’s Temple on W. 47th Street. I didn’t know what to expect, but I went.

Imagine my surprise to be treated (and educated!) to a first rate documentary on a subject dear to everyone’s heart, Great Comedy!

It was a screening of “When Comedy Went to School” and it was FUN-KNEE! I mean hysterical! And the place was packed and the audience came primed to laugh until they split their britches and I think some did!

It was an uproarious history of the great Jewish comics, who so dominated American humor in the middle of the last century, and who all got their training in the Catskills in the 1940s and ’50s at legendary hotels like Grossingers.  The big hotels there were filled with the top comics, who then went on to keep so much of America entertained on television when I was growing up in the Bronx.

Ed Sullivan, who was not Jewish,  booked all these great entertainers from Sophie Tucker to Jerry Lewis and brought them all into our homes every Sunday night in the ’60s and ’70s, making America laugh. Sid Caesar, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Totie Fields, the list was endless, and they are all there in this sharp, funny film.

And “When Comedy Went to School” kept you laughing non-stop with all the top comics doing their best bits. I roared til I plotzed! Every headliner is represented in this terrific film, which if it pops up again at a theater near you, you must run out and see it! You won’t be disappointed.

The moment that stayed with me the most, was when a very sympathetic and toned down Jerry Lewis who told in an interview(see above picture) that he used to make $7o0 a night as a busboy! He was so funny, he kept dropping things and doing schtick, he said, that customers just kept shoving tips at him. He was told not to tell the waiters because they’d get jealous!

Laughter as they say is the best medicine, and it was being served that night in large doses of mirth at the Actor’s Temple, a historic landmark right in the heart of the theater district.

It has quite an incredible history, and has had a historic commitment to serving Jewish theater artists and the greater NYC arts community. The list of the greats who worshiped there is just jaw-dropping, Shelley Winters, Edward G. Robinson,Sophie Tucker (as I said), Jack Benny and yes, even the Three Stooges!

The event was followed by a panel discussion which featured the drier-than-dry Jackie Hoffman and comedy legend Marilyn Michaels, who kept asking “What am I doing here???”

This first night in a series of evenings that all begin at the Temple at 7:30pm was produced by the redoubtable, indefatigable and GLAMOROUS, Carol Ostrow, who is sort of a legend herself in New York Theater circles.

Next in their Hot Nights @ a Cool Shul series is the Epichorus, a Judeo-Arabic music group. I think the word is Klezmer band and that is on Monday, December 14.

Shul, by the way, is the Yiddish word for “school” and I did feel I was learning A LOT about where great comedy comes from that night.When Comedy...1

You can find out more info and about tickets at their website http://www.theactorstemple.org/events or call (212)245-6975.


Best Supporting Actress, Wide Open or Not?

sarah PaulsonRoonwy MARA 2Is this year’s Supporting Actress race wide open or not? I think the HFPA(Hollywood Foreign Press Association) who give out the Golden Globs, er, I mean, GLOBES, dynamited both the Best Actress race and the Best Supporting Actress races, by insisting that Rooney Mara for “Carol” and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander of “The Danish Girl” MUST be considered in lead.aLICIA vIKANDER1

And they are 100% right! Both are leading roles. However, after seeing how dismal Rooney Mara’s “Carol” turn is, and how GREAT Cate (the Great) Blanchett’s is in the title role, I think voters are going to have no trouble nominating Blanchett, and overlooking the sub-par Mara for “Carol.”

I would never have thought that yesterday. I had to see it to believe it. I mean, Mara did win Best Actress in Cannes, which I guess in this day and race really means nothing.

And since Best Actress is incredibly jammed already, there just may not be room for Mara AND Blanchett, and/or for Mara and Vikander, who gives a truly transcendent performance as the conflicted wife of a transitioning transgender man-to-woman in “The Danish Girl,” played brilliantly by probable nominee for Best Actor, and last year’s winner, Eddie Redmayne.

Brie Larson in “Room” and Saorise Ronan in “Brooklyn” SEEM locked and loaded as they say. And then there’s Blanchett in “Carol” and Vikander. With only one slot left for Carey Mulligan in “Suffragette” with Lily Tomlin’s “Grandma” and Charlotte Rampling’s “45 years” nipping at her heels. Never mind Dame Maggie Smith coming up fast on the outside for her glorious, smelly, homeless woman “Lady in the Van.”

So who is going to fill up the now empty Best Supporting Actress race?

Well, as I said before, I would love it if Sarah Paulson (above top picture) got nominated for “Carol.” Since the HFPA’s Edict of Nantes, they CAN’T nominate Rooney,in Supporting, they might just go far Paulson’s steely Best Friend and ex-lover of Carol. That would be great and people WILL get to see “Carol”. And see Paulson in it and how good she is.

Paulson was pretty stellar in “Twelve Years a Slave” wherein she horrified voters as the vicious slave-owners wife, who throws a glass decanter in future Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo’s face, scarring her for life.

And then there’s room for probable nominee screen legend Jane Fonda getting in for a five minute scene in “Youth.” I bet they are going to nominate her sight unseen because she is well, Jane Fonda.Jane Fonda Youth 1

I keep banging the drums for Parker Posey in Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man,” but no one seems to be listening to me. Posey has another juicy role coming up next year in Woody’s next opus. Maybe the Academy will wait for that role before they get on the Parker-Posey-is-now-legit(to us)-train.Itrational Man 2

I’ve mentioned before two look-alike blondes Elizabeth Banks and Rachel McAdams in, respectively, “Love and Mercy” and “Spotlight,” the front-runner at the moment for Best Picture. Both blonde beauties may have been pushed further inside the race than they ever might have been otherwise by the HFPA’s ruling on Mara and Vikander.Elizabeth Banks1Rachel McAdams1And let’s not overlook the wonderful Oscar perennial Laura Linney, who really holds Ian McKellan’s house and home(and picture) together as the put-upon drudge of a housekeeper in “Mr. Holmes.” If the voters view “Mr. H.” to see Sir Ian’s great nonogenarian detective, they’ll see how beautiful Linney’s work is opposite him. I thought people would forget this charming film and McKellan’s and Linney’s lovely work in it, but it seems they’re not.Laura Holmes 1And last but not least, you can never count out Dame Helen Mirren’s campier-than-thou take on the late real life gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in “Trumbo,.” who underneath her elaborate headgear was a ruthless red=baiter.Helen Mirren Trumbo

There’s nothing like a Dame as the ole saying goes. A rubric that AMPAS lives by. They’ve always have got to get a “sir” or a “dame” in there somewhere to give the evening class.

Have I left anyone out? Probably. But I’ll catch you up on these magnificent ladies on the flip side.

Laurie Metcalf & Bruce Willis Burn Up the Stage in Suspenseful new “Misery” on Bway

MiseryThe hardest thing in the world is to write a suspenseful thriller for the stage. And octogenarian Hollywood veteran William Goldman has done just that. In translating his great 1990 screenplay of “Misery” into a play that keeps you at the edge of your seat, he has solved all the writing problems, all the possible screen-to-stage glitches are not present, and scared me to death in the process. I bit all my nails off!

Based on the book by Stephen King, it is set in a remote, lonely, snow-bound house in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Nobody goes near ex-nurse Annie Wilkes and you can soon see why. As embodied by the terrific Laurie Metcalf, I can see a Tony Award in her future. Just as an Oscar win was in the future of Kathy Bates in the film version of “Misery.” Sure, she chews up the scenery and nearly eats Bruce Willis’ bed-bound novelist Paul Sheldon for dinner SEVERAL times,but that’s the part! And what a part it is!

Metcalf has to summon the horrors of Hannibal Lechter, Cruella de Ville, Ursula the Sea Witch, and others,to horrible to mention,  and she does, brilliantly.

It’s only 90 minutes with no intermission. So that is claustrophobic in and of itself. An intermission would let the audience get up, walk around and breathe, and escape the horrible catastrophic confinement that Willis’ successful,rich, globe-trotting novelist finds himself in. He’s being held prisoner, you see, by his “#1 fan” Ms. Wilkes.

Both his legs have been broken in a car crash in a blizzard in the mountains and he was “saved” by god-fearing, good nurse Annie, who was following him in her car. OR DID SHE FORCE HIS CAR OFF THE ROAD???

This mystery hovers over the maniacal Annie, a nightmare if ever there was one. Who may turn homicidal at any moment. And Spoiler Alert, does…

In the previous iterations of “Misery”, it is implied that Annie has had a background as a serial-killing nurse, who murdered double-digits worth of her patients. Not so here, but Metcalf is so truly frightening in her dowdy, down-trodden way, she becomes everyone’s worst church lady nightmare.

And Willis? Well, he just has to lie there and be Bruce Willis. And he does, very believably, and audiences will pack in to see him suffer the torments of the damned. And enjoy it! But he’s no slouch in the acting department. He, though bed and wheel-chair bound, for most of the play, is keeping up with the oh-so-mad Metcalf beat for beat, as they execute the fatal pad-de-deux of a best-selling author, and his Number One Fan.

It’s set in the 1980s, which makes the whole cut-off-from-the-world-by- a-phone-line-being-down-in-a-blizzard plot point, believable. Imagine if it was set today with all the social media available to someone like Willis’ Paul Sheldon? It wouldn’t be the same play.

But it is a perfect Grand Guignol period piece, and the round table set by David Korin, keeps Annie’s bizarre house of horrors spinning. And the lighting by David Weiner, the sound design by Darron L. West and the original music by Michael Friedman are all spookily perfect in their way.

But it’s the script by two time Academy Award winner William Goldman that is the real surprise for me. He known as the author of the famous quote about Show Business “Nobody Knows Anything.”

Well, Mr. Goldman certainly knows plenty.The author of the screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men”,he’s showing a dazzling range with “Misery.” He’s written a perfect stage thriller that could run for years. And probably will.

I wondered how a stage version of “Misery” would play, and it does, like gang-busters.

There’s Something Missing from “Carol” & I Think It’s Rooney Mara

Carol Blanchett 1I was disappointed in my response to “Carol” the highly touted lesbian love story derived from one of my favorite lesbian authors Patricia Highsmith. I felt not swept away by the film as a whole, which I should’ve been. Being out and gay myself all my life, THIS seemed to be a movie meant for me, it’s target audience.

But yet…

It didn’t play at Toronto, which tipped me off that something was up.And the Weinstein Co. kept me, a major Oscarologist, away from this Oscar-seeking film.

Rooney Mara won Best Actress at Cannes.

Something was obviously wrong.

What was missing? I think it was Rooney Mara’s performance. Playing a young, innocent (?)”from another planet” as Carol describes her, she seems cold, asexual. The Sapphic sensibility is just not there.The film was directed by a man. Maybe that’s the problem.

sarah Paulson

But it IS there in the performance of Sarah Paulson (ab0ve) as Carol’s ex-lover. You get an astounding sense of past history and love lost between the two women, that you never get from Cate the Great and Mara.

And Cate IS great in this movie! She’s just magnificence personified. 1950s movie star to the max, she seems to just REEK of sexuality and sensuousness and glamour. It is a stunning performance, maybe Blanchett’s best. She just floored me.

And Rooney Mara just well, didn’t.

The great Ed Lachmann’s amazing cinematography swept me away, in a way the Mara’s Therese Belivant, didn’t. Filmed in, of all things, 16 mm. and in CINCINATTI(!) the period style is exactly right down to the tiniest detail, and Blanchett’s costumes by the great Sandy Powell, and  her golden, perfectly coiffed hair and  make-up are swoon-worthy. She just radiates a heat that makes men AND women fall in love with her. She’s beyond brilliant in this film.

And she’s the one in dire trouble. She’s married, you see, and it’s 1952 and her husband wants to take her beloved little daughter away from her because she’s “abnormal.” So that part of the film is totally believable and fine. And disturbing. And true.

But don’t get me wrong. I loved Rooney Mara before. She was very exciting in both “Social Network” and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” for which she rightly garnered an Oscar nomination.

So I was rooting for Rooney, and god knows, I was rooting for “Carol” to be a lesbian “Brokeback Mountain.” But it isn’t. And I’m not a gay woman so perhaps I can’t say that. But I am.

Expectations were so high for this film, and the raves out of Cannes where so great, I guess I was bound to be disappointed. A “Brokeback Mountain,” it’s not. “Carol” is just strangely hollow. Cate is great, the cinematograpy, set design and costumes are off the charts. But the LOVE is missing.They have no heat, no chemistry.

It’s not even gay, particularly, except when the superb Sarah Paulson shows up. SHE should get nominated for Best Supporting Actress. THERE I’ve said it.

But the Tom Toms are beating for Rooney, and probably both she and Blanchett will end up in the Best Actress races that are upon us.

Cate Blanchett is just a genius of an actress.

But Rooney Mara is well, just OK. And in something as sumptuous and important a gay film, as “Carol”, well, she should-be better.

The picture at the top of this article says it all, I think.(see above} Cate as Carol is front and center and Rooney Mara, well, we see the back of her head. Which in “Carol” is as expressive as the front of her head.

On Seeing Eddie Redmayne’s Brilliant “The Danish Girl” a Second Time

Danish Eddie 1It was such a thrill to see “The Danish Girl” again last night after being totally enraptured and blown away by it in Toronto. And like in Toronto, at TIFF, in September, there was the same spellbound reaction from the tony audience.

You could hear a pin-drop. And at the end of this AMPAS-included screening, there was rousing applause. And cheering. And Bravos.

And I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to reprint my TIFF review in its entirety, so you won’t have to go hunting for it in the archives of this Blog.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danish Eddie2

I’m devastated. I’m in tears writing this. “The Danish Girl” is a masterpiece, so moving, so profoundly important and brilliantly acted and directed, it will win Eddie Redmayne his second Oscar in a row for this heart-wrenching performance as first transgender Lili Elbe.  It has its’ slow patches, but once it gets going “The Danish Girl” is so powerful, so engaging, so beautiful, its’ ending, which I won’t reveal here, will absolutely crush you. And Eddie Redmayne is catapulted once again to the head of the Oscar race for Best Actor. As extraordinary as that sounds, it’s true.

His performance is beyond anything we’ve ever seen onscreen before. Never has this subject, transgender-ism, if there is such a word, been treated in this depth, and with such respect, and love. It’s a great love story. And not only Redmayne will be back at the top of everyone’s lists, director Tom Hooper, already an Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech”, will probably be up for every award in the book, for his sensitive, deft, beautifully handled helming of this tragic love story.Danish Eddie 3

And Alicia Vikander, who has been edging towards stardom, with every role she’s essayed, since she first came to global attention with “Anna Karenina”, as the blonde, sweet ingenue to Keira Knightley’s dark, tormented Anna, Alicia Vikander will for sure be nominated, perhaps as Best Actress even, but certainly as Best Supporting, for her astounding turn as Gerda Wegener, the devoted, confounded artist wife, whose husband, Einar is transitioning right before her confused, but compassionate eyes into Lili Elbe.(“Elbe, like the River” at one point Einar/Lili clarifies)

Einar and Gerde Wegener are a happily married couple at the start of “The Danish Girl” in 1920s Copenhagen. Both are artists, and there seems to be no clouds on their sunny, loving horizons. That begins to gradually change when one day, Gerde asks Einar to try on some ballerina attire of a model who has not shown up for her posing session. He obligingly does so, and the feelings of a woman’s stockings and shoes begin to arouse something deep-seated in him.

So begins Einar’s(Redmayne’s ) journey into what today is known as “transitioning.” We see this today in the person of Caitlyn Jenner, who used to be Bruce. Like it or not, Jenner has made this topic extremely relevant and the timing is just right for “The Danish Girl”s Oscar chances. Perfect, in fact.Eddie & Oscar 2

Redmayne’s Lili is a much more delicate, fragile creature than Caitlyn Jenner, needless to say. Redmayne gives her an ephemeral otherworldy quality. And he sensitively inhabits  her every single stage of her transformation. And makes clear what drives Lili  into emerging and totally obliterating Einar.

I did not know the shattered ending of this important, historic movie and I was totally enraptured, then horrified as “The Danish Girl” headed to its’ inexorable, tragic conclusion.

And Eddie Redmayne steps wholly and completely into screen history with this beyond magnificent portrayal. Another Oscar for Mr. Redmayne, please.

Supporting Actress Race now All Shook Up By Golden Globes rulings

Irrational Man 3Now that the Best Actress Golden Globe Drama race has been topsy-turvy-ed by the HFPA ruling that Alicia Vikander of “The Danish Girl” And Rooney Mara of “Carol” are LEAD and not Supporting considerations, it leaves the Best Supporting Actress field WIDE open.

The unexpected turn of events is totally justified in that both Vikander and Mara are playing leading roles. But who does that open the door for now that Supporting Actress is a half-empty glass?

Well, I hope they consider the legendary Indie Queen Parker Posey for Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man.” Parker is playing a very horny mid-life chemistry prof who has a BIG drinking as well as a BIG man problem. She’s just delicious in it and has never been nominated. Critics weren’t kind to the film, though I, for one, totally loved it. It’s lack of a high-profile is a bit of a problem, but if campaigned properly Posey is LONG over-due for a nod. And Hollywood loves a good, drunk role. And they LOVE Woody, and they love the way he ALWAYS writes great Supporting Roles for women. Who does that? Almost no one.

Also someone who’s never been nominated, but who’s just great in “Love and Mercy” is Elizabeth Banks,as the only normal person who is front and center in this crazy mash-up of a film about the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.

Her performance on Saturday  Night Live last night reminded audiences of how funny and versatile she is and high-lighted her directing skills, too, in a very funny opening number, in which she also sang!  And danced! Talk about triple threats beating the band!Rachel McAdams1

Another look-alike blonde Rachel McAdams may have her Oscar day and get swept in with the buzz surrounding the super-hot front-runner “Spotlight.” As a serious investigative reporter, McAdams is taking a 180 degree-turn in her career with this dramatic movie. I’ve loved her in Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” so I have a warm spot in my heart for her. Maybe the Academy does too. And they WILL see that movie. AND she’s doing that tricky Boston accent.

Sometimes just being in the right movie at the right time is all it takes to get a Supporting Actress nomination. Witness Jacqui Weaver’s less-than-stellar turn in “Silver Linings Playbook.” She was swept in with the tide with that one, a nomination for a performance so lack-luster NO ONE was predicting it.

joan allen1

That could happen to Joan Allen, a great actress in my book for “Room.” She plays Brie Larson’s conflicted mother. And she’s GOOD. But not great. She’s been nominated before and they may just write her name down as force of habit.But she won’t win.

Another familiar name(and face) keeps popping up. It’s Oscar winner already and Hollywood legend Jane Fonda for a five minute spot in “Youth.” Performances this brief don’t usually get noticed but this year the pickings are PRETTY slim. And they all know and love Jane.Meryl Suffra !

Also in a teeny tiny role is the always nominatable Meryl Streep in “Suffragette.” Doing a thick high class British accent as Women’s Rights heroine Emmaline Pankhurst, she gives the film a jolt in her also five minutes worth of scenes. Also good in that movie is previous nominee Helena Bonham Carter. Another comic actress getting serious.

Another familiar Oscar winning face may just be Cate Blanchett, who may turn up in this Supporting category for her all-out camping as the evil stepmother, but with depth, in “Cinderella.” Wouldn’t it be ironic if because of her TWO great lead performances this year in “Truth” and “Carol” that she cancels herself out and splits her own vote? Especially since it looks like she is going to be sharing the Best Actress category with co-lead Rooney Mara.

Wouldn’t it be the HEIGHT of irony if Disney’s real life, non-animated “Cinderella” is where she gets in this year’s Oscar race? Don’t laugh. This could really happen. And the Oscars are always the height of irony, aren’t they? Well, sometimes.Stepmother 1

Oscar Category Confusion in Full Force. Alicia Vikander of “Danish Girl” & Rooney Mara “Carol” to Go Lead

Roonwy MARA 2aLICIA vIKANDER1And the Oscar Confusion continues on in this the most confusing of years. With all eyes fixed on the unheard of crowd of very strong actress performances now all being jammed into the Best Actress category. Sez who? Why the HFPA! Of all people, the Hollywood Foreign Press, who hand out the Golden Globes this and every year.

The one thing I can say about the HFPA is that they ARE press and do see all the many movies all the live-long year, as I do. I think that’s what makes them so sharp-seeming. They’ve seen’em all and so therefore the judgements are at least, we presume, informed.

And their latest call is one which actually has some merit to it. Putting Alicia Vikander of “The Danish Girl” and Rooney Mara of “Carol” in the Best Leading Actress Drama category. This of course confuses all the pundits and this race particularly. But let’s face it, both Vikander and Mara ARE leading performances. They were trying to be squashed into the Supporting Actress category, which is now very bare indeed.

But when the HFPA makes a ruling, they stick to it. And they consider Mara and Vikander as lead. Which knocks out quite a few ladies from contention.

Especially as regards the love it/hate it lesbian movie “Carol.” You see it has two co-leads Mara, who won Best Actress at Cannes for this portrayal of a shop assistant/photographer, and Cate Blanchett as Carol herself, the glamorous housewife-in-minks.

Rooney’s inclusion in lead just might knock co-star Blanchett out, and also, even worse, if they both get nominated in the same category they might cancel EACH OTHER out, splitting their own votes. Which is what I think is going to happen.

IN that category I feel are Brie Larson for “Room” and Saorise Ronan in “Brooklyn.” I think they, Blanchett, Mara and Vikander are all going to get in to the race for the Golden Globes.

Oh yes, and that little known ingenue Jennifer Lawrence will get put in the Best Actress Comedy field for the still unseen “Joy!”

It’s very unusual for the HFPA to make such a declaration ahead of the actual announcement of the nominees, but they’ve done it and now Focus Films(“Danish Girl”) and the Weinstein Co.(“Carol”) will have to abide by their decision. And you know what? I think that the Academy will, too.

It’s unlike the Academy to put some one in Supporting who the GOLDEN GLOBES(oh the horror!) have designated as lead. I don’t think it’s EVER happened before.

And I’ve described SIX ladies above^ and one of them is going to get left out when the Oscar nominations are announced in January. Larson, Ronan, Blanchett, Mara, Vikander and Lawrence. Who will the left-behind be?

And there’s still Dame Maggie Smith glorioous as “The Lady in the Van” to be considered! And you can never underestimate Dame Maggie. You do so at your own risk.

Stay tuned for even more category confusion, Oscar and otherwise, I’m so so sure!


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