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Indie Spirit Nominations Topped by “You Were Never Really Here” w/4!

Joaquin Phoenix and Lynn Ramsay

 

The Indie Spirits just announced their nominations, and there were some real surprises! One of my year’s Best “You Were Never Really Here” got the most of any film with FOUR nominations! Best Picture, Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), Best Director (Lynne Ramsay) and Best Editing! However there was no “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” anywhere, except in Best Supporting Actor.

You Were Never Really Here

 No love for Melissa McCarthy anywhere. This is very bad for her chances going forward.But it conveniently makes room for newcomer Jalitza Apericio for “Roma.”

Created to honor films with budgets under $20 million dollars, large studio films like “A Star Is Born” and “First Man” were not eligible. But art house Indies like one of my favorite films for this year “You Were Never Really Here” grabbed FOUR of the top nominations. Best Picture, Best Actor(Joaquin Phoenix)Best Director Lynne Ramsey as well as Best Editing.

I’m so happy this little seen but incredibly powerful film is being highlighted here. I felt this was really Joaquin Phoenix’s best work ever and lest we forget, he did win Best Actor in Cannes the year before last.

This definitely puts this terrific film right in the middle of the Oscar conversation, right where it should be. I really do think Phoenix is better than any of the other leading males under consideration.

I just wish they had nominated the great Judith Roberts for Best Supporting Actress as his dysfunctional mother.(See picture above ^). Phoenix plays a Bounty Hunter who is hired to kill the kidnappers and re-capture the victims of child abductions. His casual, frightening, single-minded pursuit of  the perpetrators is chilling. And thrilling. This is no walk in the park, by any means. Tough stuff, but worthy, Necessary. You want to look away as he plies his trade with a ball peen hammer, but you can’t. “You Were Never Really Here” COMPELLS you to watch it, every single minute.

For a complete list and explanation of this year’s nominees go to ~

http://www.indiewire.com.

Great American Playwright Neil Simon Passes at 91


Neil Simon Theater 2
Neil Simon, long considered America’s most successful and certainly most prolific playwright dies at 91. It’s fitting that the Neil Simon Theater still exists on Broadway.at 250 West 52nd Street.  I hope it always stays “The Neil Simon Theater.”

I did not know Neil Simon personally. But growing up in the theater in the decades where he dominated the Great White Way, his work was overwhelming to a young playwright, me. At one time, he seemed to have every play on Broadway.

The Christmas after my mother died, I was feeling particularly bereft and found myself observing a great Broadway tradition.I went to Chicago. By train. To see the out-of-town try-outs for a musical version, of a movie  he wrote “The Goodbye Girl.” Seeing that only half-successful work in the middle of the cold Chicago winter made me realize that yes, all your idols have feet of clay. IOW, everyone makes mistakes. The Goodbye Girl was a musical with a book by Neil Simon, lyrics by David Zippel, and music by Marvin Hamlisch, based on Simon’s original screenplay for the 1977 film of the same name.

I was also at a rehearsal of “The Goodbye Girl” when it limped to New York, and in the rehearsal room were the star Bernadette Peters and yes, Neil Simon himself.

He seemed so un-prepossessing in person. He was wearing a robin’s egg blue sweater and  kibitzed around with the various actors….But it was his eyes that got me. The intensity of his stare. Nothing was being missed. He saw it warts and all and I’m sure was thinking “How can I fix this? How can I help?” He reminded me of a very warm and friendly rabbi. His vast knowledge of the theater seemed to match those of a rabbinical scholar. He seemed immediately nice. But also intimidating. I mean, he was NEIL SIMON! But he didn’t carry himself like a star as Ms. Peters certainly did.

I guess I was so intimidated by him, I didn’t even have the chutzpah to talk to him. But what could I have said?  “I saw your play in Chicago and really liked it.” God! I hope didn’t say THAT! Which would have been a complete lie.  I don’t think I did.

I never saw him again. And, the show flopped. I thought nothing he wrote could ever flop, but some did.

He strangely isn’t revived much of late, but the Neil Simon Theater is still there. A permanent and fitting monument to a man that made Broadway history over and over again. He will be missed by all in the theater community. It was his great love.

Neil Simon R.I.P.

Luminous, Lucent, Transcendant Kate Winslet Could Win Her 2nd Oscar for “Wonder Wheel”

Wonder Wheel 3

Lustrous, luminous, transcendent Kate Winslet is the wonder of Woody Allen’s new “Wonder Wheel.”
Is there any American filmmaker alive today who writes  such great roles for women? No. There simply isn’t. And as photographed by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, Kate Winslet seems to be a cinematic miracle of color and light, majesty and emotion,

You simply can’t take your eyes off her. Storaro and Allen have combined to give her a cinematic beauty that makes you gasp, in a multi-faceted role that makes you applaud. She is playing Ginny, a Brooklyn waitress, who works in a Coney Island Clam House. I have known SOOOO many Ginnys in my lifetime, and British though she is, Winslet absolutely nails her Ginny to the Coney Island boardwalk. And it’s  stirring performance in the grand tradition. She’s every woman. And every woman I’ve known, from Brooklyn, trying to make a better life for herself and her family. And trying to find love at the same time, having given up her dreams of being an actress earlier in her life.

Winslet’s Ginny seems the simplest of creatures.. But Allen’s writing and her bravura performance proves that every woman is as complex as a whirlwind. Or a rollercoaster. Or a Wonder Wheel at  Coney Island, to use this film’s great metaphor. Winslet has never seemed so bedeviled and so bewitching at the same time. She’s a housewife in waitress’ outfit that she wears like a queen, as she goes about her frantic daily work of cooking and cleaning for the whole of Brooklyn it seems.

Allen and Storaro capture the ordinary woman’s extraordinariness. She is married to a lout (James Belushi) and having a torrid affair with Justin Timberlake, the local lifeguard. Timberlake’s string-bean-ness seems out of place as a life guard, but he, too, has movie star charisma in buckets instead of muscles, that make all the women in the film falling for him make sense.Justin Timberlake Wonder Wheel He and Belushi have both never been better.Kate Winslet 1

She is playing Ginny, a common-as-they-come Brooklyn waitress, who is as uncommon, as she is earth-bound. Winslet’s a fiery red-head this time. And in Storaro’s use of orange and amber light, she seems so on fire, she is burning up the screen. It is no surprise then that her red-headed son is an arsonist, setting  a fire every time he’s left alone. The fires remind him of his mother.

And Juno Temple is Belushi’s neglected daughter, who turns up as a “Marked” woman, being chased by the mob, because she married a gansta, and became a “canary” who sang on her husband, making her a woman on the run for her life. She hides  out in Winslet’s and Belushi’s  humble household underneath the ever-present Wonder Wheel. Young, blonde Temple has the role of her career here, too, and is doomed from the first seconds we see her taking her first tentative steps under the Wonder Wheel.

In a simple car ride in a romantic rain storm with Timberlake, she becomes, as he says “as beautiful as the rain light.”Storaro has lit her in golds and blues to emphasize her beauty as well as her melancholy. She, too, is magnificent in this film.

Storaro  and set designer Santo Loquasto make more magic by making Coney Island in the ’50s look like the Riviera.

Winslet’s performance is so heart-breaking and towering it immediately recalls the great screen performances of screen queens past. Joan Crawford in particular. The shop girl who was not a shop girl.  The waitress who was not a waitress. And reminds you that not since the ’40s have actresses consistently seen parts like this. Winslet’s Ginny is the  working class version of Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine in Allen’s recent Oscar winner “Blue Jasmine.” “Wonder Wheel” is his best film since “Midnight in Paris” and is now one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. It’s right up there with the best. It reminds me why I love Brooklyn. And New York City.

“Wonder Wheel” is a movie movie about romance and melodrama and great actresses playing great roles. And it ends this year’s superlative NYFF with a BANG!

Oscar Supporting Actress Possibilties Are Piling Up!

It’s mid-October and although New York has been enjoying an unseasonably mild fall, Mother Nature is trying to deceive us that Oscar season is not fully upon us BUT IT IS! And even the said-to-be-sparse Supporting Actress category is beginning to be piled up with potential nominees. All of them brilliant I’m happy to say.

I know one thing for sure. There are three actresses whose shots are better than others. First I’m going to start off with the least known of them. The beauteous British actress Juno Temple, who is playing full-tilt Brooklyn bombshell, Carolina, in Woody Allen’s new wonderful “Wonder Wheel” which I just saw as the closing night feature at the New York Film Festival.

Always one of honor his actresses of choice with great roles that become them, I say Temple gets in, because of the same thing happened to another little known Britisher Sally Hawkins. When she co-starred in “Blue Jasmine” with the soon-to-be Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, every Academy member WATCHED THAT SCREENER and saw how marvelous Hawkins was as Jasmine’s working class, comforting sister. The same thing will happen to Juno Temple, too.

Whatever they think of the film, Temple is getting Oscar-buzzed praise.

So is recent Tony winner for Best Actress Laurie Metcalf. Super superb as Saoirse Ronan’s put upon Mom in Great Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.” Metcalf is having a banner year with the Tony win for “Doll’s House, Part Two” on Broadway and now actually having a juicy sympathetic screen role as the frantic nurse practitioner mother of wayward teenage, Lady Bird.

Because Metcalf is such a beloved industry figure, having won multiple Emmys as Roseanne’s sister on “Roseanne,” she really has the edge here. And her role as Lady Bird’s Mom has got Oscar written all over it. The kind of part that Metcalf has never really had before on film. AND she’s never even been nominated before! Believe it or not.

I would say she has the edge. And it’s definitely

Oscar Nominees Begin to Arise at NYFF


Oscar Nominees, potential Oscar Nominees, Begin to Emerge as the New York Film Festival reaches its’ much touted half-way point.

Last Flaf Flying 1
The biggest winner so far seems to me to be Steve Carell, who has two strong possibilities in two films, one in the Festival, one outside it. The hilarious “Battle of the Sexes” and the somber “Last Flag Flying”.Steve Carell

I would say that his hysterical turn as blow-hard Tennis Pro Bobby Riggs is almost sure to be nominated in the Supporting category for Carell. I would’ve said that his MUCH more serious turn as the grieving father in “Last Flag Flying” was also a Supporting performance, but some are saying he’s lead.

It would be just like the mercurial Carell to end up in both categories. He’s well-liked and clearly at a career high, so it’s entirely possible.

I’m SURE they are going to nominate Emma Stone, last year’s winner for “Battle of the Sexes.” That would be in the Best Actress category for her portryal of closeted lesbian Tennis Pro Billy Jean King. Best Actress is now more jammed than ever with potential nominees clamoring to get in. Saoirse Ronan is pitch perfect at the rebellious teen in “Lady Bird.” She’s definitely an “In”. As is Laurie Metcalfe, also on a roll, after winning the Tony this year for “Doll’s House, Part 2.” Her put-upon hard-working mom to Ronan’s rambunctious teen daughter is as maddening as she is sympathetic. She’s “In” in Supporting, never having even been nominated for an Oscar before.

Another surefire “in” is Willem Dafoe in the magnificently original “Florida Project.” He could win in this category, Supporting Actor, but he’ll be up against Carell, or even Bryan Cranston AND Laurence Fishburne for “Last Flag Flying”. Though I would say Cranston and Fishburne are BOTH leading roles.”Florida Project” also has a secret weapon in six-year-old Brooklynn Kimberly Prince. Florida Project 1They nominated another six-year-old and quite recently, too. Quevezhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern WIld.” Hey, even in a crowded year for Best Actress , like this one, powerhouse charmer Brooklynn( that’s with two “n”s thank you very much.)could surprise.

A complete unknown still is Kate  Winslet’s performance  in the still unseen “Wonder Wheel” of Woody Allen. It closes the Festival and absolutely no one has seen it yet. But the buzz is deafening and the production photos look awesome.

Someone who is NOT getting in to the crowded Best Actress race is octogenarian Dame Judi Dench, who I’ve admired and loved all my life. But “Victoria and Abdul” is the worst thing she’s ever done. Sad to say. Long, slow, and although she’s her usual great self in the funny first half, in the second more serious half, she had sooooo many death scenes, I couldn’t WAIT for her to die. Which is an awful feeling for a potential Best Actress nominee. She’s been to the Queen Victoria well one too many times now. She’s been there, done that, and quite frankly her failure to carry this film through to the end, just sickened me. Yes, even Judi Dench is human. She just doesn’t know when to stop.

Can’t wait for “Wonder Wheel” this Friday and for “Wonder Struck” by Todd Haynes tonight at the NYFF. Their Opening Night film was “Last Flag Flying” and “Wonder Struck” is their Centerpiece and “Wonder Wheel” closes it.

A superb film that is none of those things but “Call Me By Your Name” is Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece and a gay love story to end all gay love stories. Timothee Chalament, is the teen in THIS coming of age story. He’s also playing a bad boy rock musician in “Lady Bird. ”

Army Hammer is the other half of this lovely gay love duo, and BOTH performances are so powerful, they could BOTH get nominated. Chalamet in lead and Hammer in Supporting.

As bizarre as it sounds all these films could get nominated for Best Picture. That’s how good the New York Film Festival has been this year.Call Me By your Name 1

“Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” Wonderful New Musical Off-Bway!

FOR MY LOVE, IT IS TIMELESS AND VAST AS THE SKIES
IT IS STRONG AS THE TIDE AND THE WAVES WHEN THEY RISE
IT IS I, ERNEST SHACKLETON, HERE IN COMMAND
AND I PROMISE MY DARLING WE’RE GONNA FIND LAND

“Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” is the most wildly inventive musical of the Off-Bway season. And if anyone would have told me I’d be raining superlatives over a two-person love story that’s set simultaneously in Brooklyn and Antartica (!) I wouldn’t’ve believed them! But it’s true! It’s all true! And 19th Century Arctic Explorer Ernest Shackleton has come back to life(Through a date searching app on the Internet) to make wild, theatrical magic love to a single 45-year-old Mom with a baby named Zach in an unheated apartment “far out” in Brooklyn, well, it just sounds preposterous.

But the theater exists to make the unbelievable, believable.And “Ernest Shackleton” amazingly does just that .Our heroineKat (the extraordinary singer/actress/musician Val Vigoda) is an experimental music composer, whose living room is filled with every kind of electronic musical device imaginable, including a red, heart-shaped electric violin, which she barely puts down and a set of amplified drums that she beats all her many frustrations out on. This assemblage of electronicaErnest Shackleton 2 is backed by a gigantic computer screen, behind the stage, on which we see her many, many wild fantasies play out on.

The frigidity of her (very) cold water flat and the stress of her life as an artist. “I gave my life to art!” she plaintively sings, sends her over the edge and into the imaginary arms of studly Arctic hero, Ernest Shackleton, who calls out to her romantically through the Internet dating site, “Katherine! Katherine!..”and then enters her own version of Antarctica, through (where else?) her refrigerator.

Wade McCollum and Val Vigoda are the star-crossed lovers linked by the heroic struggles both are going through. He, to reach his high-flown Arctic goals, and she, well, just to survive her life. Her baby never stops crying, her computer’s keyboard keeps re-looping the word “Alone,” and they spend “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” finding each other in the highly unromantic ice and snow, which the dauntless duo here turn into a winter wonderland.

The fiery Ms. Vigoda has also written the equally red-hot, heartfelt lyrics to go with Brendan Milburn’s Irish-inflected score.

There are a lot of sea shanties mixed in with the hard-rock and the love songs and the rock-solid book is by Joe DiPietro of “Memphis” fame, who really knows his way around a musical.  And underground there is massive musical amplification on  every kind of instrument imaginable by Sound Designer Rob Kaplowitz and Orchestrators Ryan O’Connell and Glen Milburn. And the super-skillful director Lisa Peterson makes the duo seem like a cast of thousands.

At no time do Kat and Shackleton strain our credulity, as the metaphor of his ice-bound ship, the Endurance, freezes over and sinks, stranding them and a crew of 22. This is based on a true story, which I won’t spoil here.(You can look it up. It’s a recorded fact.)And they had a videographer with them, too! As newsreel footage of Shackleton’s impossible dreams becomes all of our dreams of achievement, love and survival against all odds.“Ernest Shackleton’s motto was “Optimism is a form of moral courage.”
I left “Ernest Shackleton” filled with more optimism, and hope, yes, hope for the innovative American Musical than I’ve felt since well, since “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”
He sings “FOR MY LOVE, IT IS TIMELESS AND VAST AS THE SKIES
IT IS STRONG AS THE TIDE AND THE WAVES WHEN THEY RISE
IT IS I, ERNEST SHACKLETON, HERE IN COMMAND
AND I PROMISE MY DARLING WE’RE GONNA FIND LAND!”

#Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, # Ernest Shackleton, #Val Vigoda,#Wade McCollum,#Antartica, #Artic Explorer, #Endurance, # Electric Violin, # Single Mom

“Cafe Society” Worst Woody Allen Ever? S.O.S. Same Old Story

Kristen Stewart 1As you can see by this ultra glamourous pic above ^ of Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen has cast her against type, as a nice little goodie two-shoes,compleat with bows in her hair and ankle socks, in “Cafe Society”. Her character, Vonnie, has to appear so beautiful that the men in the movie fall madly in love with her. The men being Steve Carell as well as his nephew Jesse Eisenberg. And they’re all very good in this magnificently shot and styled paean to old Hollywood in the ’30s.

But this is perhaps the worst movie he’s ever done.It’s soooo boring. It’s that we’ve seen it all before. Over and over and over and over again. We expect more from the man who gave us “Midnight in Paris”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and his Oscar winner “Annie Hall.” But this is not that. Not by a long shot.

At least his other recent sub-par look at the glamourous life circa 1920 “Magic in the Moonlight” had a very strong performance by Colin Firth. And it’s always the younger woman/older man scenario, but at least focusing as much of this film on the young Jesse Eisenberg, the edge is slightly off that scenario, but only slightly. But it doesn’t last for long. Before it’s back to the Carell/Kristen plot-line. Ho-hum.Or rather ho-humbug.

Eisenberg, an actor I’ve always had trouble liking, is appealing in this, and more amourously aggressive than I can ever remember him being.

Kristen & Jesse 1

But try as they might, he, Carell and Stewart and all of the rest of this capable cast, just can’t rise above this bland, bland script.

I felt like I knew what lines the characters were going to say before they spoke them. Parker Posey, here a bubbly, throw-away blonde, is pretty much just window dressing. Corey Stoll is snidely effective as Eisenberg’s gangster brother.Blake Lively is, well, lively.

The only one who really broke through for me was Sari Lennick of the Coen Bros. “A Serious Man.” As Eisenberg’s hyserical, kvetchy sister-in-law and Stoll’s wife.

The biggest,.most consistent laughs in the film, and there are some, not much, but not enough, the most laughs come when Stoll’s character has killed some hapless or irritating sap, and throws the bodies into a ditch as a cement mixer pours cement on them in clearly a New Jersey setting.

Santa Loquasto has designed “Cafe Society” to a fare-thee-well and legendary lenser Victorio Storaro has shot it magnificently. It couldn’t look more glamourous, or be so empty. What a shame!

Do something NEW Woody!!! Surprise us!!! Don’t bore us…All our lives are too short for drivel like this.

#Woody Allen #Cafe Society #Kristen Stewart #comedy #Hollywood

Saddest Day in BAFTA History, Revolting “Revenant” wins Best Picture + 4

Sad BaftaThis will go down as one of the saddest days of the Awards Season, for me, at any rate, and anybody who loves animals or even likes them a little…The revolting “Revenant” won Best Picture at the BAFTAS just now, plus Best Actor, Leonardo, as expected, Best Director, Alejandra Gonzalez Inarritu, as expected, and Best Cinematography, Emmanuel Lubezki, as expected.

I’m sorry to say that this disgusting, boring, vomitous movie won. Has the world lost their collective minds? This big win with the prestigious Brits signals that this may just be what happens at the Oscars next week. I might not even watch now.

Brie Larson, the bright spot, won, as expected for “Room” and she deserves it. This means she’ll very likely win the Oscar for Best Actress, too.

And though I adore Kate Winslet, her winning for this sub-par performance in the minus-rated “Steve Jobs,” I don’t get this either. Her Slavic accent came and went. Maybe they just want a photo-op with the two Titantic stars, Kate and Leo, holding their BAFTAS.

This also shatters the stats, as the wonderful Sasha Stone is wont to say, because “The Revenant” is winning WITHOUT a screenplay, and being a late in the year release. It will also be the first time a director won for TWO pictures in a row! Last year, Inarritu won Best Picture for “Birdman.” Has the world gone mad?

” Spotlight” as expected won Best Original Screenplay and “The Big Short” got Best Adapted Screenplay.Rachel McAdams 2I feel like Rachel McAdams looks in the above picture.^ For an interesting dissection of just what caused “The Revenant” to win, you can go to http://www.goldderby.com and see a very entertaining and insightful discussion, or “War” as Tom O’Neil calls it, between him and Sasha Stone. He totally predicts this “Revenant” win. It’s very interesting how spot on he is, and Sasha is defending the other position for “Spotlight” and especially for “The Big Short,” her favorite film.

I just feel awful for my girl Alicia Vikander. Nominated twice, she lost twice. But the Oscars will be a different story. The Academy has their ballots and is voting right now. Will they be as horrified as I and Sasha am by this “Revenant” turn of events? Or will this spur other voters to vote AGAINST “The Revenant”?

If there still was a Catholic League of Decency the disgusting “Revenant” would get a D.

Mark Rylance Wins BAFTA Best Supporting Actor “Bridge of Spies”!

Mark Rylance 2British/American Theatre God Mark Rylance, who is also nominated for an Oscar, just won Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTA awards, which are going on in London right now as we speak. He won for playing his quirky, subdued Russian spy living in America for “Bridge of Spies.” It’s a quiet, subtle performance but now he’s GOT to be considered the #2 in the race against Slyvester Stallone in that category for “Creed.” Stallone was not nominated for the BAFTA. Here in Blighty he DID beat SAG double winner British Black actor Idris Elba.

“Brooklyn” won Best British Film.

List of the other winners so far is below ~

SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • MARK RYLANCE  Bridge of Spies

THE EE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public)

  • JOHN BOYEGA

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

  • BROOKLYN John Crowley, Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey, Nick Hornby

ORIGINAL MUSIC

  • THE HATEFUL EIGHT Ennio Morricone

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • THE REVENANT Emmanuel Lubezki

EDITING

  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Margaret Sixel

COSTUME DESIGN

  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Jenny Beavan

 

ANIMATED FILM

  • INSIDE OUT Pete Docter

DOCUMENTARY

  • AMY Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees

MAKE UP & HAIR

  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Lesley Vanderwalt, Damian Martin

BRITISH SHORT FILM

  • OPERATOR Caroline Bartleet, Rebecca Morgan

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, Neal Scanlan
  • http://www.awardsdaily.com is keeping an open thread revealing the winners as they are announced.

And now, here come the BAFTAS! What will they tell us?

BAFTAS 2016 1And now, this Sunday night in London, here comes what I feel is the most predictive awards show of all the BAFTAs. The British Oscars. And what do they have to do with OUR own Oscars, coming up on Feb.28? Well, I think they are the most influential accolade of all. Especially in the Acting Races. Where, if there’s a five way, undecided sort-of year, which this isn’t really, in the Acting Awards, they can tip the scales in one actor’s or actress’s favor.

As they did famously in the year that Tilda Swinton won for “Michael Clayton”, surprising many, but not me. Tilda won the BAFTA then she went right on to win her first Oscar. Interesting piece of Oscar trivia, Tilda, who could just not bear to have all these awards around her house, gave her British Oscar, her BAFTA to her British agent and her American Oscar to her American agent Brian Swardstrom. I bet they were glad to get them. NOTHING like that ever happens to actors’ agents, No wonder Tilda has never stopped working since!

You win the Oscar and you never stop working, so the story goes…True or not, it’s a nice thing to look forward to. For a moment. Tilda Swinton Oscar 2That year marked another BAFTA/Oscar milestone when the unknown French actress Marion Cotillard who was playing Edith Piaf to beat the band in “La Vie En Rose” went on to trounce Brit Julie Christie for Best Actress.Marion Oscar 1Mlle. Marion was acting in her own language, you see, and it was considered IMPOSSIBLE for a foreign actress to win. But I knew she would, her perfomance as Edith Piaf at all different ages was so incredible.

And so did Daniel Day-Lewis, who got up and made a speech when he won  at the BAFTAs extolling Marion’s superlative performance. He  won the BAFTA that year, too,  for “There Will Be Blood.”. People, or rather Oscar voters, listened. I think the word he used was” transcendant.”

And this year? Well it seems almost all the Acting categories are locked. But wait a tic! There could be surprises. Leonardo Di Caprio in “The Revenant” has been winning EVERYTHING in sight this year and could win the Oscar. But will he win the BAFTA for Best Actor?Danish Eddie 1

Don’t be surprised, Leo, if BAFTA does what it usually does and award a deserving, beloved Brit, Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.” And also watch out Brie Larson! She, who likewise is winning everything imaginable for “Room”.At BAFTA, she’s up against the It Girl of the Hour, Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl” who is  up for Best Actress. Whereas at the Oscars, Alicia’s up for Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.” Her role as Gerde Vegener, who is a Danish painter married to a man who is going through the first known transgender transition is indelible, powerful.

Alicia 8

Alicia could win the Best Actress BAFTA  as “The Danish Girl” is a British Film and also Alicia, though Swedish, speaks English with a British accent. OR it could be Saoirse Ronan, who is Irish as Irish can be in “Brooklyn” an Irish film. And Brie Larson’s “Room” isn’t as popular over there as it has been here. It only has only other nomination Best Adapted Screenplay.Danish Girl Duo

And the astonishing Alicia Vikander is having such a big year, that she’s nominated also in BAFTA in Supporting Actress for “Ex Machina.” Yes, Alicia winning either of these awards, would almost certainly assure her an Oscar win over Rooney Mara, the girl who wasn’t there, in “Carol”, her nearest competitor for Supporting Actress at the Oscars. Rooney is running as a Supporting Actress at BAFTA, as she is at the Oscars, but this time, she’s up against Alicia as the sexiest robot of all time in “Ex Machina.”  Could Rooney win here and split the Vikander vote? “Carol” got a slew of nominations here, including Best Picture, although it didn’t in the US.Alicia Vikander 3Alicia could win in both categories. That’s right! She could win TWO BAFTAs! OR of course, she could lose twice, too.Roonwy MARA 2

As far as Best Supporting Actor at BAFTA, it will most likely go to one of the nominated Brits. Idris Elba, yeah, him again, for “Beasts of No Nation,” I think he has this over fellow Brit and UK stage legend Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies.” He hasn’t been campaigning and has even skipped the BFCC and the SAG. Christian Bale is British, too, although he hardly ever mentions it. And he’s nominated for “The Big Short.” Watch this early-announced award. Who it goes to will tell us pretty clearly what will win Best Picture.Christian Bale 1

,And finally there’s the Best Picture race itself which pits people think “Spotlight” v. “The Revenant” v. “The Big Short”. And many, including myself, think that whatever film wins Best Film here could also go on to win the Oscar, too. Although wait another tic! Last year, the Brits picked “Boyhood” and Richard Linklater, and not “Birdman” and Alexander Gonzalez Inarittu who won the Oscars.

So there is a divide. What do I think is going to win Best Picture? Bet on the Brits voting for Brits, which could lead to “Carol” or “The Bridge of Spies”  being a surprise win here, although “Spotlight” set in Boston and involving Irish Catholic pedophile priests might be something they could relate to over the Wall St. story “The Big Short” or the Western “The Revenant”. Have the EVER given a BAFTA  to a Western? I think not. (more…)

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