a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

Oscar Collision ~ Too Many Best Actors

This year the Oscar Best Actor category is screaming with the sounds of too many viable Best Actor candidates colliding with & virtually  killing each other to get into the race. There are only five slots. And seven talked-about performances.

Everyone puts Daniel Day Lewis’s Abraham Lincoln at the top. But I don’t. And cold, technical performance that bored me to tears and left me wanting something that Day-Lewis doesn’t have in abundance – warmth. He’s not a warm cuddly Lincoln. He’s, well, a British Lincoln.

Why couldn’t they have gotten an American actor to play Lincoln? That’s basically what’s wrong with it. PLUS it’s like eating Brussel Sprouts for two and a half hours. It’s good for you, THEY SAY. But oh the taste!

But people are still ranking him #1. But he’s got two Oscars already. A stumbling block you can’t erase. But he will likely get nominated despite the Brussels Sprout Factor.

Most likely to unseat him is the still unseen Hugh Jackman in”Les Miserables.” He’s also the only one of these guys in a musical. Which is either a huge plus, or a huge minus.I’m sure the always terrific Jackson delivers as he always has in the past. He’s never had a part like this before. He’s hosted the Oscars, successfully, and if he’s as good as I’m hearing, he’s in like flint.

Denzel Washington has gotten rave reviews for his alcoholic pilot in”Flight” and  is doing very well at the box office. He’s an almost knee-jerk reaction. If he’s THIS good, they just nominate him. But he’s got two Oscars already, too, like Day-Lewis, this is probably an obstacle he can’t overcome. Or hide.And “Flight” is being named “a popcorn movie.”

I don’t think Bradley Cooper in the just opening Rom Com “Silver Linings Playbook” is gonna make the cut. It’s a comedy and he’s totally overshadowed by his co-star Jennifer Lawrence who looks like she’s going to not only get nominated but win.

Cooper, playing a manic-depressive SCREAMS his way through two-thirds of the movie, TRYING to make you believe he’s manic. It’s inaccurate and I found THAT depressing. Bi-polar disorder is not something to be laughed about and certainly not something to be treated lightly. With the competition so tight, I don’t think he makes this cut.

Someone in a lightweight film, with serious undertones is Sir Anthony Hopkins, playing a beloved Hollywood Legend Sir Alfred Hitchcock, in the droll biopic “Hitchcock.” The Academy nominates him constantly and his total physical transformation into the corpulent legendary Master of Suspense hits all the right notes and is poignant and winning, too. He’s got one Oscar for “Silence of the Lambs” which was inspired by the serial killer Ed Gein, who is also a character in Hitchcock. His Hitchcock is haunted by the right ghosts. I say he gets in. AND he’s SIR Anthony Hopkins after all. And the Academy always feels it needs that touch of class. I liked his Hitch so much, I’ve seen it twice! Unlike “Lincoln” which I hope I never see again as long as I live.

Life’s too short for another “Lincoln.”

And then we have crybaby Joaquim Phoenix, who like Bradley Cooper, is in a Weinstein Co. production. His comments that Oscars are “total utter bullshit” may have eliminated him for this very competitive race. “The Master” was a polarizing movie that hasn’t done well anywhere. He, like Cooper, could get left out. He doesn’t have an Oscar, and probably at this rate never will. He’s apologizing all over the place now, but the damage his done. Will the ever-snobby, but sometimes forgiving, Actor’s Branch nominate him anyway? It such a tight year, it’s not looking solid for him. And Hitchcock himself NEVER won an Oscar for Best Director. Now being acknowledged as the greatest film maker of all time, the Academy may want to sort of correct his over-sight.

Then there’s the out-of-nowhere news that recent Supporting Actor winner of a couple of years back German Actor Christophe Waltz is going lead for the also still-unseen “Django Unchained.” A slightly desperate Weinstein ploy, methinks, because they sense that neither Bradley Cooper nor Joaquim Phoenix, will get in.

THEY know, the Weinstein Co. they KNOW how the tea leafs are reading and they are not spelling out TWC, as they have in the past two years for their magnificent winners in Best Picture and Best Actor, “The King’s Speech” and Colin Firth and “The Artist” and Jean DuJardin.

Putting Waltz in lead says something about his co-star Jamie Foxx, ANOTHER previous Oscar Winner for “Ray”. Guess they aren’t even considering he’s got the right stuff this year for a nod. And if he’s going up against Denzel….

Finally, the only other serious Best Actor contender is the simply stupendous Jon Hawkes, as the heart-breaking polio victim, in an iron lung no less. The Degree of Difficulty in “The Sessions” is off the charts, and I think that is going to rate with the Actor’s Branch.

So how I see it now – It’s Hugh Jackman, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington and Jon Hawkes.

With all of the Weinstein boys canceling each other out.

Sounds unbelievable, but it COULD happen.

“Zero Dark Thirty” Moved into January! Oops! There goes Oscar!

When a major film studio, in this case, Sony, or Big Sony, as some call it, moves a release date, OUT of the Oscar season, in this case “Zero Dark Thirty”, and plans to open it in JANUARY! What does this tell us about this as yet unseen movie? Well,by implication the news isn’t good.

I think it means the studio does not have the faith in this major Oscar contender that it should.
It’s about the search and destroy mission that finally ended the life of Osama Bin Laden. And the trailers for it, are well, let’s say they look astonishingly like ANOTHER Oscar seeking movie, “Argo” that is currently Number One at the Box-Office. Uh-Oh!

Both, too, have the same Film Editor, working with the Oscar-winning Katherine Bigelow, and her screenwriter Marc Boal of Best Picture winner of 2009 “The Hurt Locker.” Both are regarding Middle Eastern terrorists subjects. One is just KILLING at the box-office, a crowd-pleaser that is pleasing crowds everywhere, and the other is still shrouded in deepest secrecy. Like for instance we didn’t know until this week, when Sony announced it, that the wonderful Jessica Chastain is playing the leading role, and is going to be campaigned in lead! For Best Actress!

Is this too little too late? Maybe. Maybe not. The brilliant Chastain could read the Canadian Yellow Pages and make them riveting, but, again, in the trailers, she utters NOT ONE WORD! Why?

Is there something wrong with her voice? Or with the vocal choices she has made under Katherine Bigelow’s usually astute directon?.Is she off a bit? This reminds me of the way “Lincoln”s trailer where they were showing Daniel Day-Lewis, and not letting us hear him for quite a while…

This smacks of cover-up to me.

If you’ve got a great performance, you ADVERTISE it, not hide it. Like say, Universal is doing with their great trailer of “Les Miserables” with Anne Hathaway nailing “I Dreamed a Dream.” They’ve practically guaranteed Annie an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress by this smart campaign move.

Oh, sure, Academy folks will be able to see it, EVENTUALLY. “Zero Dark Thirty” I’m talking about. But what about the critical critics groups that announce FIRST? The New York Film Critics Circle, the L.A. Film Critics, the National Board of Review. Will THEY be able to see it by their voting deadlines in late November?

One thing’s for sure, November is going to be one wild and crazy Oscar month! Phase One of the Oscar Season, as it is now being called.

As the French say, J’attends avec impatience!

“Lincoln” is Boring Tweet Clarification

So, is it a Tempest-in-a-Teapot that was? Or was it the real deal? Super Critic Thelma Adams picked up my Tweet Delete story and confronted Lou Lumenick of the NYPost about it. on Facebook. Thelma, full disclosure, used to be one of the New York Posts film critics herself.

This is all regarding an article in the NY Post about a New Jersey viewer stumbling into a sneak peek preview of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-seeking “Lincoln” which doesn’t open for another 7 weeks or so.

The viewer was incensed that it was so BOR-ING.

And Lou told Thelma, on Facebook, that yes, the story was up, and yes, the story went down, along with the rest of the New York Post yesterday, eividently and now, this morning his story, tweet and all are back up and readable at www.nypost.com  And no, DreamworksDisney did not make him do it. He has heard nothing from them he claimed.

Technical glitches do happen of course, even to major newspapers.

Jeffrey Wells was suspicious, nonetheless, and you can read his version of things at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

I believe the film goer. A congressional procedural movie on the passing of a bill, however important, can be VERY dull to watch as politicians drone on and on…I get it. That IS dull. And if that is what the film is mainly about…well, it sounds like a history LECTURE, rather than a film. A MOVIE. It should MOVE.

According to this disgruntled film-goer it’s just dull, dull, dull.

Well, the trailer is dull, too.

The positive note that this viewer struck was the appreciation of Daniel Day-Lewis’s Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones and Hal Holbrook’s performances, too. Sally Field, as I reported, was roundly dissed as “mis-cast.”

And there you have it. That’s the story, folks. Read Jeff Wells. Read Thelma Adams. Read Lou Lumenick of the NYPost and you can make up your own minds about this.

NY Post Takes Down “Lincoln is boring” tweet!

Per Jeff Wells at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com Lou Lumenick has now had to take down the “Lincoln” is boring!” tweet! Uh oh! And Jeff linked to it, but I can’t find it anywhere!

Jeff has advertising from Dreamworks. I, you may notice, have absolutely no ads, whatsoever. I’ve heard nothing. But no ads=not important enough to bother with.

But believe me, this was THERE! And now, it’s not!

“Lincoln” Sneaks in NJ, Viewer Tweets NY Post “It’s Boring”!!

NY Post’s film critic Lou Lumenick received an outraged twitter review & email from a film goer who saw the sneak preview of “Lincoln” in NJ yesterday and complained that the film was “boring.” As Lumenick parsed it “take it with a grain of salt.” But the way he presents it in his article www.nypost.com ,it DOES sound as dry as dust.
It evidently keeps most of its’ action in the Congressional rooms and hallways, eschewing the more dramatic CIVIL WAR ITSELF that was raging outside. Nevermind the horrors of slavery. It’s all about LEGISLATION. I knew it. I just knew it. Screenwriter Tony Kushner is  very academic, almost pedantic sometimes. And it looks like  this time is one of THOSE times. AND it’s nearly three hours!

Given this info, plus the rather strange and deadly trailer of “Lincoln” that popped up last week, I think Dreamworks may have a real historic Oscar dud on its’ hands. If Hollywood hands Oscar a lemon, Oscar doesn’t make lemonade. He just nominates SOMEBODY ELSE.

This enraged viewer wrote to Lumenick that “It WILL NOT be nominated for Best Picture”! But thought Daniel Day-Lewis would. Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln was “miscast”. I believe that, too. And this news also makes sense of Fox Searchlight’s rushing “Hitchcock” into release on Thanksgiving weekend. Making it eligible for this year’s Oscars, not next and putting Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Alfred Hitchcock right in the, er, thick of things.

Best Actor seems so crowded this year. With DDL, Joaquin Phoenix(“The Master”), Hugh Jackman{“Les Miserables”) and John Hawkes in Searchlight’s other contender “The Sessions” all but locked down. Means that “Life of Pi” and “Flight” coming up fast at the New York Film Festival and which I’m doomed, er, destined  to see very soon, might not be All That.

And then there’s the volatile, still-open-for-business Best Actress category, which Dame Helen as Lady Alma Hitchcock, who is evidently at the center of the story of this movie, and yes, it’s a mature love story, could slip right in there. Knocking out another slippery Dame. Judi. For Fox Searchlight’s “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and/or Fox 2.0 ‘s OTHER Best Actress filly in the race, 8-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis.  For “Beasts of the -Southern Wild.” I personally don’t think Fox Searchlight is acting SURE about either of their ladies-in-question.

Nevertheless,  Searchlight saw a place and decided to fill it with the formidable weight-y, Oscar-baity  Sir Alfred.

Hollywood loves Hollywood more and more each day.

See last year’s, Best Picture “The Artist” which won four other Oscars, too, including Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and “Hugo” also about early filmmaking, though in France. “Hugo” got four technical Oscars, but they are Oscars nonetheless.

Shot VERY quickly by documentarian Sasha Gervase, whose only other previous helming was the hilarious doc “Anvil:The Story of Anvil” and it seems he got every thing right!

Doc makers know how to make that first take work. That’s all you’ve got in documentaries. You have no choice. You have to GET THAT SHOT, or else, it’s gone forever. It’s called Run and Gun and I like working that way myself on my TV show http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

And “Anvil” was that rarest of docs. One with a sense of humor!

So, back to “Lincoln”, even though I’m sure the feelings of the film-goer that contacted Lumenick were genuine, Stephen Spielberg’s films, even the weakest, like “Munich”, or misguided like “War Horse”, they STILL get a Best Picture nomination regardless, but in a field of ten possibles, I’m still sure “Lincoln” is IN.

But look at Sir Alfred go! His corpse is dancing! Maybe all the way to the Oscars! And in his lifetime, let it be noted Hitch never won a Best Director Oscar himself. Maybe he’ll be getting one posthumously.

He was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. THEE greatest in MY book.

TIFF ads names to Supp.Oscar Race & “Lincoln” trailer sounds WRONG!

TIFF is SUCH a leveler. And always a surprise,too. Coming out of “Quartet,” one of the hottest tickets in town, was not only a VERY major Oscar chance at Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith, but also for her supporting co-star, the other female member of the titular quartet of ex-Opera singers, Pauline Collins.

Collins dithers delightfully, and has alllll the audiences’ sympathy in the big, soon-to-be-infamous “Flower Scene” with Dame Maggie. I will say no more.It’s a massive spoiler. Once that scene happened I knew “Oscar Nomination for Pauline in Supporting.”

She’s been nominated before, too. For Best Actress, a number of years back, for “Shirley Valentine” and so she’s no stranger to Oscar.

A very solid supporting turn is done by Willliam H. Macy in “The Sessions” as a conflicted Catholic priest, who has to listen to all of the FOR SURE ROCK SOLID BEST ACTOR NOMINEE John Hawkes’ awkward sexual confesstions. It’s comic, but he’s very good (he always is) and I don’t think he’s even been nominated before. Shame, Academy, shame…Unless it was for “Fargo” many moons ago…

Jude Law in “Anna Karenina” is a shoo-in for a Supp. Actor nod, and maybe even a win, as his almost unrecognizable turn as Anna’s dull-as-paint husband Karenin. He shaved his hairline back and wears tiny little specatacles that transform his face entirely. And his performance as a stiff, repressed beaureaucrat ,who is boring  his wife Anna to tears, never bores the audience. No mean feat.

Then we have the always nominatable Phillp Seymour Hoffman, in what is really a lead, in “The Master.” The Venice Film Festival jury gave both Hoffmand and co-star Joaquin Phoenix a joint Best Actor Award.

Also finding herself in the Supporting category may be a surprised and always naked Helen Hunt, who thought she was playing a lead in “The Sessions.”Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always points out how the Academy always awards female nudity and no one, believe me, NO ONE has ever shown so much of herself onscreen as Helen Hunt does as a sex “worker” in this terrific tearjerker about a man in an iron lung (Hawkes) who wants to finally experience sex before he dies. He does. And he does. And that’s the plot of “The Seesions.”

And from earlier in the year, before the essential TIFF-winnowing, we have both Dame Maggie Smith(yes, HER again) and her Downtown Abbey co-star Penelope Wilton in the box-office/senior citizen smash “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”both being giving campaigns from Fox Seachlight in Supporting. And so is Bill Nighy for that film.

Don’t know whether they’ve dropped Dwight Henry off their campaign roster for this excellent non-actor’s first ever performances as Qu’venzhane Wallis, dead beat dad in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And last but not least, let’s not overlook Michael Pena’s fine, fine work in the police actioner “End of Watch.” He could be this year’s Demian Bechir.

I happened to watch the just-dropped “Lincoln” trailer today. Once, first, without sound, and then again tonight with it. And at first I thought all those early Oscar predictions of Tom O’Neil’s crew at “Gold Derby” nevermind “The Gurus o’ Gold”‘ were right on…then WITH the sound, everybody’s voices sounded WRONG. Esp. Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln! He looks great but sounds like a baseball player! Brad Pitt in “Moneyball!”

If it looks like they’re hiding DDL in the trailer, they ARE!

Let us not forget “War Horse” and the great trailer that promised so much….and then gave us…well, not that much.

Just like “Munich”! Spielberg’s next-to-last Oscar foray.

Uh-oh!

Snoring and pretentious and over-hyped. Here we go again!

I thought we just went through this last year!

Oscar Updates as Gold Derby Puts Leo at NY#1 for “Django”for Supp! Dwight Henry Is #2 “Beasts”!

The great Tom O’Neil lets us know just what is what with the Oscar race on an almost daily basis. Certainly weekly. And for sure, monthly. Now that we’re reaching the last day of June, it’s interesting to note that the race that has changed THE MOST is Best Supporting Actor!

June 1, it was wacky Jaoquim Phoenix for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology take “The Master“. Now, less than a month later, Joaquim is nowhere to be found at the top of this category. Possibly because Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com clued Tom in that Joaquim is THE LEAD in “The Master.” Lol….And who’s at #1 now? Why Leonardo DiCaprio, as a scuzzy, sleazy slave owner in Quentin Tarantino’s Civil War shoot’em up “Django Unchained!” With Harvey Weinstein at the helm, this could certainly happen.

However, right behind him, is non-actor until now, newcomer Dwight Henry playing Hushpuppy‘s abusive, alcoholic father for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”! I don’t think Dwight Henry was even on the chart last time I checked! Go Dwight! He’s a baker turned actor and really scores in this magnificent debut film of Benh Zeitlin.

Phenom-of-the-Year Zeitlin has NOT managed to crack the top five of the directors chart. Go to http://www.goldderby.com and see who the rest are. Usual suspects, all. All previous Oscar Winners.Spielberg, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee, Except Paul Thomas Anderson who tops the list, and I’m so sure won’t win. “The Master” is going not to be a loved-by-the-masses film, I’m feeling. Scientology isn’t a topic that the ticket buying public is going to warm to. Where the now critically acclaimed “Beasts of the Southern Wild” sure is.

And it’s 6-year-old heroine has cracked the top five of the Best Actress contenders. That category is still headed by my darling Laura Linney for “Hyde Park on Hudson.” #2 in Best Actress is Carey Mulligan for “The Great Gatsby” and #3 is Keira Knightley for “Anna Karenina.” Keira’s always nominatable, as of course is Laura. Previous recent winner ++is #4 for the French language “Of Rust and Bone.” And then comes Qu’venzhane Wallis at #5.

I think it speaks to the strength of “Beasts” A+++ reception that BOTH Dwight Henry and Qu’venzhane Wallis have popped into the top five since the month began! And Dwight Henry is #2! Higher than Benh Zeitlin or QW(as I will now abbreviate her). The charges of racism that were thrown the Academy’s way when Viola Davis lost(though Octavia Spenser won – albeit in Supp.) for “The Help.” Dwight Henry could be the beneficiary of the famous Academy catch-up boomerang effect.

What they don’t do right one year, they correct the next.

And it’s also interesting to note that Anne Hathaway still seems to be a mortal lock for Best Supporting Actress for “Les Miserables,.” nailing one of the best trailers in movie history, which is already playing at a theater near you.

Likewise Daniel Day-Lewis in Best Actor and “Lincoln” for Best Picture remain where they were June 1.

It’s the arrival of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” that has shaken this list up! Good! No! Great! Go Team “Beast”!

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