a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘12 Years a Slave’

Past Best Picture Oscar Winners I Adore (& Own & Re-Watch)

Oscars Now that’s it all over but the shouting (on Oscar night, this coming Sunday, Feb.28), I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic about other films that have one Best Picture in the past and really won my heart. Some I’ve watched over and over and over again. Some I own. I love them so much I always want them to be with me or near at hand anyway to play at any time.

  1. Gone With the WindGone With the Wind
  2. All About EveAll About Eve
  3. Tom JonesTom Jones 1
  4. The King’s SpeechThe King's Speech
  5. The ArtistThe Artist
  6. Lord of the Rings Part 3, Return of the KingSam & Frodo
  7. Twelve Years a Slave12 Years a Slave 2
  8. RebeccaRebecca 1
  9. Midnight CowboyMidnight Cowboy
  10. No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men 1

Oscars ~ Where Are We Now?

OscarsWith so much controversy flying every which way this year, where exactly are we? Well, the safest best bet is to watch for the Producers Guild to announce their winner this weekend. And I’m guessing it will be “Spotlight.” Low wattage, reserved, and quietly, subtlely powerful as it is, its’ distinction, like “12 Years a Slave”s before it, can’t be denied.

They’re sweeping changes a foot. Everybody is discussing Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ VERY controversial announcement in a form of a press release. I’ll leave it to others who have more time than I do, busy Oscarologist that I am at this time of year, to parse just what all this means. But suffice it to say, for this year, it means NOTHING!

The Oscars 2016 will roll along exactly as they were previous to this two years of #Oscarssowhite maelstrom. Nothing at all is going to change any time soon.

But if it WERE to effect this year’s race, you might see Idris Elba win a deserved supporting actor trophy two weeks from Sunday for “Beasts of No Nation.” I hope he does. This is for a SAG award, which they call, “The Actor”, NOT the Oscar. Beasts

It really riles me that he was excluded and seemingly replaced by Sylvester Stallone, whose performance in “Creed” is nothing but a stream of unintelligible shrugs and mumbles. Stallone is not nominated for the SAG award. The Actors of SAG did the right thing in nominating Elba. So if you want to look for who to blame for this #Oscarssowhite trouble, look below the line. Anne Thompson’s infamous “steakeaters.”

It seems pre-ordained now that Leonardo Di Caprio is going to win Best Actor for the revolting “Revenant.” But if he DOESN’T win the SAG Award for Best Actor two weeks from Sunday and it’s Bryan Cranston, or even Eddie Redmayne, LOOK OUT! Things are not as clear in the blogospheres’ crystal balls as they seem to be.

Brie Larson, a relative unknown, is about to be crowned Oscar’s new Queen,and deservedly so, for “Room.” Brie golden Globe 1Such a powerful, complex, intelligent performance by an actress we almost never see on screen.. Operating against her is “Room”s teeny, tiny distributor A24, who has never been THIS near an Oscar campaign for a  performance before.Alicia

And Alicia Vikander seems to be rising and rising. She SEEMS to have the momentum in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” even though it’s hardly a supporting performance at all. Again the SAGS will tell the tale and also the BAFTAs. She’s also in film after film after film. All big studios. And that means Hollywood already has a steak(stake?) in her future. Her moving, eloquent speech at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on Sunday helped her immensely too. She was instantly unforgettable.

What happened to “Carol”? That’s the 64 Dollar question. *sigh* I guess it just wasn’t good enough. And WHY wasn’t it good enough? I’d say it was the Big Zero of a performance at its’ center from Rooney Mara. Don’t get me wrong. I liked her playing the bisexual Lisbeth Salander in “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” which I’ve seen multiple times, liking her more and more each time. But she was a void at the center Carol 3of”Carol” to me. It was like Cate Blanchett was acting all by herself in that film.

Whereas in “The Danish Girl” Alicia Vikander is VERY much present in her interactions, her love of her husband, even as he turns into a woman, even encouraging him as painful as it is for her, in his transition. And she’s playing a real woman, artist Gerde Wegener. , Whereas Mara is playing fictional character who is a blank, at best. Therese Belivet, the character’s name is intriguing, but the part and the performance were not. I’ve known a lot of lesbians in my gay life, and one thing they are not, is boring. “Carol” was boring.

Alicia 2

“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.

 

 

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.

“Heidi Chronicles” Closing Sunday is a Crime!

Heidi 1“The Heidi Chronicles” closing on Broadway on Sunday is a crime! I just saw it for the SECOND time last night, and enjoyed it all over again. I RARELY, as you know, dear readers, RETURN to revisit a show, especially in this high Drama Desk season, but I’m so glad I did.

The cast was very relaxed and giving and warm, warm, warm and funny, too, as the late Pulitzer winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein was in real life.

Insightful, witty, observant, and yes, timely, too, I do feel that Wasserstein’s “Heidi” is not dated at all and is as relevant today as it was then when it opened to great critical acclaim in 1989. It won the Pulitzer and also the Tony.

And I saw the original production, but I liked this one much better. The performances of Elizabeth Moss in the title role and the redoubtable Bryce Pinkham as her gay best friend were both awards-worthy, and thankfully Moss has been nominated for a Tony for Best Actress. Pinkham however was not, although he did get an Outer Critics nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. The Drama Desk ignored it completely.

I wonder if the shows’ unexpected, premature closing had something to do with the unjust lack of awards consideration “Heidi” has gotten.

Elizabeth Moss was simply magnificent last night, shining like a golden  sun and immensely relatable as the hapless heroine Heidi. Moss’ monologue ending with the famous line “I feel stranded” was a bravura tour-de-force of the highest order.

And Pinkham held his own in a 360 degree turn from his usual villainous musical rogues (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and “Ghost”.) as a very warm, relatable doctor. His Dr. Peter Patrone goes from campy to bitchy to saintly in an arc than every gay man was experienced since the ’60s, ending with yes, a penultimate scene dealing with AIDS in the late ’80s. The  hyper-versatile Pinkham captures every nuance, pulse and throb of pain and joy that Peter undergoes.

The house was packed last night. The audience applauded every scene. That’s something that rarely happens with a straight play.

I urge you to try to see “Heidi” before it closes on Sunday. Maybe there will be enough of a demand to see its’ beautiful life extended.

Lupita Nyong’o Presents Best Supp. Actor to J.K.Simmons

Lupita Oscars 15The lovely Lupita Nyong’o, last year’s winner for Best Supporting Actress, just presented Best Supporting Actor to J.K.Simmons, who won of course, as all and sundry predicted for the much-loved “Whiplash.”

Lupita looks more classier and majestic than ever in a white-gown that seemed to be made up entirely of pearls! She looked like a huge necklace. A subtle shout-out through-the-ages to the late Josephine Baker. Hmmm? I wonder if Lupita might play that role in a film someday.

The always start off the show with Best Supporting Actor, and it starts it off with a bang. Of course, the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris knocked it out of the ball-park, too, with his salute to “Hollywood’s best and the WHITEST!”

The Eva Duvernay and David Oyelowo snubs have turned into one of the biggest events of Oscars 2015. Possibly, because the rest of The Race seemed soooo predictable. Although, they’ve rumored “surprises.” One hopes so, as I’ve said.

But isn’t everyone getting a little sick of J.K.Simmons at this point? But then he totally redeemed himself with a very touching tribute to his wife and his children. And to parents every where.

He told everyone to call their mother or father, “if they are still on this planet.” Mine aren’t. I ended up being very moved. I could see Lupita, in a side shot, was crying.

Motherhood, fatherhood, parents, children. Is this going to be the theme of the night? Is J.K. trying to tell us something? Well, clearly he is. I mean about the Best Picture winner tonight…?

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Eddie Redmayne sends ANOTHER note, this time on his Golden Globe Nomination!

Theory 3Eddie Redmayne has had two very happy days in a row! First his SAG(Screen Actors Guild) nomination yesterday for Best Actor in “The Theory of Everything.” And today, ANOTHER Best Actor nod from the Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Drama. The announcements were made early in the AM Pacific Time, waking the nominees up with the good news, but Eddie was in London, where it was the middle of the day, and he was Christmas shopping! He says, dear readers, dear cineastes, and I quote,

“I was in the middle of attempting to do all my holiday shopping in a day when I got the call.  I am beyond thrilled to be nominated alongside such a stunning quartet of actors.  The fact that Felicity, Jóhann, and the film are nominated means the world.  I am hugely grateful to the HFPA – and to Professor Stephen Hawking for his personal support in helping me to share his story with the world.”

Johann is the composer of the beautiful score. And Felicity of course, is his co-star who plays his brave wife Jane Hawking, on whose book the film is based. Who also happily got a double nomination from both SAG and the Golden Globes and well as the film being cited by both organizations.

“Selma” Garners More Raves at AFI Fest

Selma 2

Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood at http://www.indiewire.com
and Gregory Ellwood at http://www.hitfix.com
have added to the chorus of raves for the just screened “Selma” at the AFI fest in Hollywood.

That must have really been an incredibly exciting screening to have been at last night! It ended with a standing ovation, and has propelled “Selma” in the fray of the Best Picture race. And star David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King himself into that much contended about fifth slot in the too-crowded Best Actor race.

The other male stars who are already seriously “locked” are Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything”, Benedict Cumberbatch for “Imitation Game”, Michael Keaton for “Birdman” and supposedly Steve Carrel for “Foxcatcher”. But HOLT ON for a moment! I really am getting Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips” vibes from Carrell’s supposedly certain position. Remember last year when the beloved Hanks in an acclaimed performance came up short? And didn’t even get nominated? And debut actor Barkhad Abdi did? Could happen again.

But it sure looks like Oyelowo is going to crash the gate at the last-minute! GOOD! FINALLY a person of color is seriously contending after last year’s “12 Years a Slave” supposedly blew off the Oscar doors. But the question is if “Selma” is nominated and it certainly looks like it will be, will the conservative Academy want to give TWO pictures about racism the Best Picture award TWO years in a row?

Image

Oscar Afterwards’ ~ Sasha Stone & Jeff Wells Look Forward

Oscar Afterwards' ~ Sasha Stone & Jeff Wells Look Forward

It takes up something like six months of the year. From September when Toronto unfurls the usual winner, and they were right. “12 Years a Slave” was winning the minute it opened and it won the Audience Award there. Til March(this year) when the Awards are given out.

Then it’s time for the Oscar Afterwards period as I’m now calling it. The blah period when everything returns so much to normal, which usually means tons and tons of dreadful movies, that I return to Broadway with a vengeance and a thank god for the theatre.

People ask why I continue to ignore the Tribecca Film Festival, which is right next door, as it were, but I’m a proud Voting Member of the Drama Desk, and so for three months of the year, which is NOW, I turn to the stage.

Others, however, this year are looking ahead, WAAAAY far ahead to the Oscar race 2015. And Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone http://www.awardsdaily.com and Jeff Wells http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com do this very entertainingly as always in a new Oscar podcast I just stumbled upon at Hollywood-Elsewhere.

I’ll summarize. I was surprised to see this as Sasha is usually averse to this sort of thing soooo far in advance. She says and I agree it’s bogus and full of possiblities that turn into pot-holes.And then there’s “How’s the Academy going to react?” She points out that “Who could’ve predicted they would totally turn their back on a great film like “Inside Llewyn Davis?” But Jeff ALWAYS has his Oscar Balloon up all the year long.

But everybody seems to be doing this this year and I can tell you why. Especially if you’re on the Internet as I am and they are, if you don’t talk about the Oscars, your hits drop. The Oscars as opposed to just plain movie-going enjoyment.

I can’t tell you the disparity between the hits I got on Oscar day and for a week or so after. And now…well, as I said, everything’s back to normal.

Spring is coming. And so Jeff’s thoughts, particularly, turn to “What’s Next?” From their whole conversation, which veers off their picks A LOT and onto other(interesting) talking points, the one film that jumped out at me was “Gone Girl.” This is the new David Fincher film based on the best-selling book, which Sasha particularly got excited about.

She certainly intrigued me. Starring in the title role is the beauteous Brit Rosamund Pike. Who I’ve had a guest on my show a couple of years back, and who impressed me as someone who was much more than people took her for when I interviewed her.

And I thought “Why doesn’t someone give this lovely, beautiful woman a role she can really shine in?” And it seems that David Fincher may be just the one to do just that.

Look what he did with Rooney Mara in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” People criticized him for casting an unknown more or less in the iconic role of Lisbeth Salander, and she ended with an Oscar nomination, though the film was not nominated for Best Picture…

“Gone Girl” may suffer the same fate. I don’t want to give anything away. I really do hate the way Jeff spoils things for people. But Sasha made this film sound so tantalizing, I’ll just say I’m glad I haven’t read the book, because I want to be surprised.

It seems it’s a thriller, and Fincher always does well, very well with that. One of my favorite films of his was “Zodiac” in which Jake Gyllenhaal gave ANOTHER under-rated, but great performance. And no, “Zodiac” wasn’t nominated for an Oscar either.

The Academy gave “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” an Oscar for Film Editing. It was a surprise. It’s like they wanted to give it SOMEthing.

Jeff was initially just dismissing “Gone Girl” saying “There won’t be much underneath it”, and Sasha just jumped all over him, and said “What? Wait a minute! It’s David Fincher!”

I really did like Rosamund Pike when I met her for “Barney’s Version” and could Fincher be the man to tap her untaped potential? Is there an Oscar Nomination in the beautiful Rosamund’s future?

As far as what’s coming up…it looks like another barren tent-pole summer of blockbusters. Not looking forward to that.

When Broadway is offering Bryan Cranston as LBJ in “All the Way” next week and also “Rocky: the Musical” directed by the extremely innovative Alex Timbers, well, I’m happy to be going to them both.

At this time of year as I’m waiting for Broadway to start, I am always glad I made the decision to keep going back to the theater.

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