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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.

Oscars for “Wolf of Wall Street”? Dicey

Having just sat through the WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too long “Wolf of Wall Street”I really wonder about its’ Oscar chances. It’s a three-hour movie that is self-indulgent and repetitive to the max. It’s budget is upwards of $100 million and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Martin Scorsese, but I wonder…

Simply on paper alone it looks REALLY appealing to the mostly male, mostly older Academy demographic. There’s a great deal of the Voting Membership that will relish this over-the-top Old Man’s Fantasy of a young man’s wild, drug-fueled life.  So yes, on all those counts it does get in. There’s more tits and ass(including Leo’s) to float it to a nomination from that sector alone. Or maybe not.

EVERYBODY in every branch of  the Academy gets to vote or rather at this stage NOMINATE 10 films for Best Picture, so I think on that alone in a field of ten, and taking into account the “Meat Eaters” Anne Thompson is always referring to from the many tech branches, it will get in.

But only actors can nominate actors. And only five of them. Are you following me on this distinction?

And when you turn to the Actor’s Branch, who is the largest and most critical, some would say snobbish section of the Academy, I dunno. They consider themselves, and perhaps rightly so, as the guardians of the High Art (in the case of “Wolf” that is literally) in the Temple of Acting.

These are the people who will nominate Leo or Jonah Hill…Or not…

And I can tell you right now, the women in the Actor’s Branch are going to be highly offended by the extreme sexism of this Wall St. romp.

And they don’t like Leo, who is still only 39, that much any way. They’ve not given him  an Oscar ~ YET, though he has received three nominations.

He’s giving it all he’s got, and there are some brilliantly funny set pieces, like the soon-to-be infamous “Quaalude” or “Lemon” scene, where Leo takes soooo many “Old” pills of this type, he and Jonah Hill don’t have a reaction til 45 minutes later. Trust me, it’s hilarious, and Leo exhibits a highly developed skill for physical comedy that he has never shown before….but then there’s a climatic scene that is border-line pornographic…well, I don’t see that wowing the sometimes staid Actor’s Branch.

Jonah Hill executes all that he is given to do expertly, but as of yet, he has been shown NO critical love in the crucial precursor awards, and they’ve been MANY of them at this point. He’s playing a truly repulsive character, repulsively.

Leo has turned up on some nomination lists. Like the Golden Globes ~ Best Actor Comedy, most notably, and he could win there.

Although Bruce Dern is in that category, too, for “Nebraska.” Uh-oh.

Leo really HAS to win there, but the Best Actor race has been so tightly locked up with THE FIVE = Dern, Redford, Hanks, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Matthew McConaughey(who is also in “Wolf” for one terrific scene ONLY). This race has been tied up and locked down for so long, I don’t really know if he’s going to break into it.

So we could see “Wolf of Wall Street” winding up with a Best Picture nomination in a field of ten. But not much else. Certainly not costumes, since in so much of the film, much of the cast, especially the women, aren’t wearing ANYTHING! I’ve never seen $100 million studio release that has had so much blatant onscreen nudity and sex.

“Wolf of Wall Street” is infuriating in that it’s this colossal missed opportunity. With all the talent involved, it operates between scenes of great social satire, alternated with scenes of repetitive boredom. And it’s all on Leo. It’s his movie. He’s in nearly every scene. And when he’s good he’s very, very good, and when he’s  bad, he’s just SHOUTING,And  it’s boring.

And there’s at least FIVE looonnnng monologue scenes of Leo at the mike exhorting his troops, of office workers. to sell MORE, MORE, MORE! Ugh, I wanted to yank the mike out of his hand.

And awards-wise its’ timing, so late in the season, and opening right after “American Hustle” which deals with the same subject on a much smaller canvas and with only two hours running time. With an astounding comic turn from Jennifer Lawrence, it’s a comedy about greed and con artists that is actually quite funny, in the part of the movie that Lawrence is in.

I kept thinking “Has Martin Scorcese lost his mind?” He’s never made such a lewd, nude, orgy-filled film, which of course is probably an accurate representation of the abuses of power on Wall St. which is the point of the film. But there’s too much enjoyment in the excesses and the crime and punishment of said misdoings seems not much at all. Although no one is killed, he is getting away with murder. With gleeful merriment trumping the “It’s illegal” side of the story.

And I can’t believe I’m typing these words, because I wasn’t that wowed by “American Hustle” to say the least, but “Hustle” just did this story, and better, and funnier.

Jean DuJardin pops up as a very funny Swiss bank exec. And is really marvelously comic and venal. And McConaughey’s one scene is also very  funny but pointed and BRIEF.

Martin Scorcese is known for serious films about violence and crime.This film too is about crime and the examination of a criminal mind. There’s no blood this time, just lots and lots of nudity and sex.

Didn’t anybody ever tell these people that brevity is the soul of wit? You can’t have a THREE HOUR COMEDY.

Paramount rushed Scorcese and his legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker to finish this picture in time for this year’s Oscar Race. It WAS four hours. FOUR HOURS! And now it’s only three. And it’s run right smack dab into the awards karma of “American Hustle.” And it doesn’t gain by comparison.

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