a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘African-Americans’

Oscars in November ~ Where We Stand Now

OK. It’s on! The Oscar season has more than officially started. We are in what’s called “Phase One”  and as I’ve been saying since Toronto. It was all over as soon as I saw “12 Years A Slave.” Nothing could touch it. Nothing has.

Of course, it’s a very bad position to be the front-runner from the get go, but quality is quality and this is one of the greatest films of all time, a masterpiece, and the Academy cannot deny it it’s due. AND it’s making money, too.

I was worried when it first unspooled at Telluride that the praise was too deafening to be true. But when I saw it, the hosannas were understated. It’s one of the greats.

I was also worried that it was too much too soon. Could it sustain all the way though this LONG Oscar season, which doesn’t end this year until MARCH!

But it has been sustaining and people are going to see it, placing it at a strong #7 now on the Box-Office Top Ten for two weeks in a row.

And the critics awards aren’t going to be handed out for another 2-3 weeks or so. And when it starts, I’m telling you it won’t stop. “12 Years a Slave” is going to win EVERYthing!

The Best Actor race is much more variable with Chiwetel Ejiafor still out in front in my estimation. That’s for playing the title role in “12 Years a Slave”. And the Academy is poised to make history, which it often doesn’t shy away from doing, by giving Steve McQueen an Oscar for Best Director. He would be the first black man to ever win this award, shockingly.The news this year is that African-American and Black films and stars have all arrived and are here to stay, with performances that should be recognized. I am also predicting a record number of AA nominees this year. Maybe the Most In Oscar History. Call it the Obama Effect hits the Oscar big time this year. And I think that’s a good thing for everybody.

“12 Years a Slave” two months after TIFF is still a juggernaut that can’t be stopped. And thank goodness, everyone is getting on board.

The Gurus of Gold (which I used to be one for several seasons) has both 12YAS, McQueen and Ejiafor in the number one spots in their respective categories. And Lupito Nyong’o, too for Best Supporting Actress. The brilliant actress whose family really is from Africa(her father was a diplomat and politician) and she’s a Yale School of Drama graduate to boot. That stunning performance as Patsey, the tragic slave heroine will haunt your dreams. I can never stop praising her searing, magnificent performance. And Lupita is growing on the Awards Circuit every day, giving gracious, intelligent interview after interview. She’s the Cinderella story of the year, and she’s more than ready for her close-up.

And I still say Michael Fassbender’s multi-faceted turn as the villainous slave-owner Edwin Epps will also win the German-born, Irish actor a Best Supporting Actor Award. He’s got the industry cred behind him, with many many starring roles in movies lined up and coming out one right after the other.So Hollywood has a vested interest in him becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger star. His getting this award will validate all those expensive movies that have already invested millions in him becoming one of Hollywood’s new, true stars. Who also happens to be a great actor, too. And I think his non-campaigning  campaign is only going to help him. Silence is sometimes golden. Ask Garbo, if she were still alive. Ask Jean DuJardin and Michel Hazanaviscious. Hell, ask Mo’nique.

And the fascinating Fassbinder’s  got the title role in the controversial “The Counselor” out now. He’s also one of the leads in the X-Men franchise, and on and on and on. He’s what movie stars are made of, and so is Lupita Nyong’o.

Best Actress I feel personally is going to go to Sandra Bullock for “Gravity.” A sensationally popular mega-hit, which people are seeing over and over again, Bullock, or Sandy as she’s know to one and all in Hollywood, is the only person in 95% of the movie. George Clooney is barely in it. Spoiler alert.

With “Saving Mr. Banks” on the horizon, and two other major players “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” still unseen, it’s non-sensical to even call everything as I have been calling it since Sept. and Toronto. But hey! It’s the Oscars! It’s the Silly Season as David Karr of the NY Times so accurately called it, back in the Golden Days when he was the Times’ Oscar guy. He called himself “The Carpetbagger.” Because that’s what he felt like being a TImes financial reporter covering the Oscars. And so yes, it’s silliness personified.

But then so are the three unseen films which cover “Mary Poppins” back story, and financial guys at different end of the social spectrums. And different eras. Call me irresponsible, but I don’t see anything in the subject matters of these three films, all maybe comedies, We don’t know for sure yet. But yes, they all seem picayune by comparison.

But I can tell you what will win Best Animated Feature already Disney’s “Frozen” and Best Song “Let It Go” From Frozen.

And I don’t see any of these last three films really shaking up The Race.

Oscar Shocker? White Stars Knock Black Stars Out of Best Actor Race

Sad, but true. In what is being touted as the best year ever for the recognition of Black film making, with “12 Years A Slave” steam-rolling every Oscar category in its’ path, the Best Actor race may sadly be the same old same old-as in The Same Old White Faces.

There were FOUR possible Black Best Actor candidates. I’m using the word Black because two of them are British and therefore the term African-American is not totally apt here. Chiwetel Ejiafor for “12 Years a Slave” is British, and so is Idris Elba “Mandela:Long Walk to Freedom.” The other two being Forest Whittaker (already an Academy Award winner in this category) for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler‘”and Michael B. Jordan for “Fruitvale Station.”

I’m afraid when the nominations are announced in January only Chiwetel Ejiafor is going to be the last one standing. And the hue and cry resulting from this happenstance, may very well secure his win. WHICH HE TOTALLY DESERVES!!! “12 Years a Slave” is a masterpiece!

I have no trouble saying that “12 Years a Slave” won the Oscar in September. In Toronto, to be exact. At TIFF’13. I know. I was there. I saw it.I felt it.  It was seismic. The ground was trembling. It was like an Academy Award earthquake!

And the words on everyone’s lips formed a mantra “’12 Years a Slave’ has already won the Oscar in September!”

And lo and behold, it did go on to win the Toronto Film Festival Audience Choice Award for Best Picture. One of the only awards that non-award-giving TIFF gives out. And it’s the audience at TIFF that voted for this.

And I think it’s going to dominate in every category that it’s nominated for. Particularly Best Director(Steve McQueen), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender) and Best Supporting Actress ( dazzling newcomer) Lupita N’yong’o. Yes, I think Jeff Wells http://www.hollywood-elswhere.com is right in saying she could beat Oprah Winfrey in this category. Oprah being in the running for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

But back to the lead in this story. The SWORM which IS the Academy (Straight White Old Rich Men) are going to make sure that Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern all end up nominated in this category.

Hanks certainly landed with a big splash on Friday night, opening the New York Film Festival with “Captain Phillips.” Everyone, critics and audiences alike were ecstatic in their praise. Also of Barkhad Habdi as the main Somali pirate. There could be a surprise nomination there. No one saw that coming. But there it is.

Robert Redford’s solo performance in “All Is Lost” is a career-capper, too, by all acounts, and so is Bruce Dern’s in “Nebraska.” Up against these Hollwyood legends, I fear Whittaker, (“He already has an Oscar “) and Idris Elba( his film did not wow the critics or audiences at TIFF) and newcomer Jordon(“He’s young. He can wait.”) will all cancel each other out and leave Chiwetel as the last Black man standing.

And he could win. Satisfying EVERYONE. I hope.

I’m figuring the #5 slot is going to go to the long-overdue, career-changing Matthew McConaughey, who, yes, scored mightily, yes, at TIFF, for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

So much was decided at TIFF this year, I just couldn’t believe it.

When “Mandela” bombed, as did “The Fifth Estate,” those two films were quickly taken off the Oscar table.

It doesn’t bother me that “12 Years a Slave” is the presumptive winner. It deserves it.  It’s one of the greatest films ever made and deserves to be acknowledged as the masterpiece it is.. The injustices and horror of slavery that it depicts, just SCREAM “AWARD THIS!” All the other films coming up this year simply in terms of subject matter seem picayune by comparison.

The fact that in the Best Supporting Actress category, which some refer to as “The Booby Prize” of the Oscars,” there could very well be a historic TRIO of African American nominees, Oprah Winfrey, N’yong’o( She’s an American. She went to the Yale School of Drama! Yes, she did!) And past winner Octavia Spenser for “Fruitvale Station”. That would be terrific precedent-breaking situation. But in the Best Actor category, sadly, no. The status quo will, I fear,prevail.

Oscars at TIFF~ “12 Years a Slave” & “Gravity” Both will win major awards!

Overwhelmed by all the great movies I saw at TIFF’13 this week, but two stood out as already dominating the Oscar conversation. “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity.” Is it too early to say the race for Best Picture and Best Director is over? No. It’s not. The Academy can not deny “12 Years a Slave” one of the best films I’ve ever seen, or will ever see, one of the greatest films of all time, will win Best Picture and its’ director Steve McQueen, will become the first ever black man to win an Oscar in that category. Thus breaking the age-old tradition of awarding only white men(Exceptions – Kathryn Bigelow & Ang Lee {twice}).

It will be given a run for its’ money by “Gravity” Alphonse Cuaron’s dazzling 3D epic of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney lost in Space. It will win every technical award it’s nominated for but I think the real surprise here is Sandra Bullock, who is basically the ONLY character in the entire movie. It’s a one-woman show, and she’s giving the performance of her life, and will certainly be nominated for this breath-taking solo achievement that no one, including myself, ever thought she was capable of. She will definitely be nominated for Best Actress and I will go one step further. If ANYONE can upset Cate Blanchett’s Oscar chances in that category, it’s Sandra Bullock.

Are they really going to give an Oscar to an actress playing RUTH MADOFF?!? Blanchett’s triumph is that she makes this extremely unlikable, maybe even vile, woman sympathetic, but is she THAT sympathetic? I mean, you’re left at the end with an utterly unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Whereas when Sandra Bullock(SPOILER ALERT!) kisses the earth in “Gravity” and stands up and proudly walks on that beach, I thought “OMG! She’s going to win another Oscar!” And in a year that is shaping up as having ONLY former winners nominated(Blanchett, maybe Streep, maybe Julia Roberts, maybe Judi Dench and maybe Kate Winslet), Bullock STILL America’s sweetheart pulls off a cinematic achievement in that except for the very brief George Clooney, she’s the ONLY  PERSON IN THE ENTIRE PICTURE. SHE HAS TO CARRY THE WHOLE THING, and YOU LOVE HER! She’s utterly sympathetic and Cate Blanchett’s triumph is that she’s NOT, but Bullock’s Dr. Ryan, you just love and want to get back to earth, and I think the actors branch as well as the below-the-line voting members are going to acknowledge that unique one-woman achievement.

Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman passed on this role. And I think they are going to regret it when Sandra Bullock wins her SECOND (unbelievable!) Best Actress Oscar, a sentence I never thought I’d be typing!

So BORED & ANGRY at “Lincoln” I was spitting nickels! Er, pennies…

I was so BORED, DISAPPOINTED & ANGRY at “Lincoln” that I was literally spitting nickels. Or in this case, pennies. Which he’s on.  “Lincoln” is everywhere these days. Opening one day after the election, it kinda sorta got included in mucho campaign overspill. Thank god Obama won, is all I can say. For many reasons. Because otherwise the Steven Spielberg self-proclaimed “masterpiece” would be DOA. Or it’s Oscar campaign would.

I’m totally down with the politics that are advocated in this movie, obviously. But to turn the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment (and no, they are NOT the same thing, as this dull, dull,dull history lesson  endlessly repeats ) into a, well, …a very dull history movie, it’s just inexcusable coming from a big studio who should know better like Disney. They spent milllions on this historic creation that that did better in their Lincoln exhibit with robots in Disneyland.

And no, I do not think “Lincoln” is a slam dunk for Best Picture. A nomination, probably, but then the Academy routinely nominated both the inferior “Munich,” and also last year the schmaltzy “War Horse” but neither won anything and “Lincoln” may come up empty-handed like Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” did years ago.

Audiences are going to be very, very VERY bored with the ENDLESS talk, talk, talkiness of the over-written, under-dramatized script by Tony Kusher. Hell, the actors could barely get their lines out the language was so abstruse. And it contains a cast of 1000s. Or hundreds So many characters, each with a line or two you can barely keep them straight. Spielberg throws THE ENTIRE House of Representatives at us one bore at a time, and while that may be historically accurate…it makes for a damed boring sit.

Believe it or not, Sally Field (of all people) saves “Lincoln” from being a total disaster. As the borderline crazy Mary Todd Lincoln, his hysterical wife, Field amazingly humanizes her complexity, and makes Daniel Day-Lewis’s cigar store, animatronic,Disneyland Lincoln come alive for the few scenes she has with him.

Ditto Tom Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stephens a fiery, radical Abolitionist. Jones is just magnificent and funny and in a bad wig (that I actually LIKED on him)is just grand. He steals the picture and is able to say these complex words and phrases of Kusher’s (and some that Stephens evidently actually said himself) and makes them compelling and yes, even funny.

But Day-Lewis is more like DEAD Lewis here. It’s such a strained and restrained introverted interior performance that the camera can barely catch a glimmer in his dark,depthless eyes.

Walking and acting and sounding for all the world like WALTER BRENNAN(!?!?!) he just kills the movie with this monotonal performance. He LOOKS like Lincoln, granted, but Lincoln MUST have had a great charisma and warmth that is certainly not on display here.

And with two Oscars for Best Actor already in his pocket Day-Lewis will probably get another nomination because of his startling resemblance to the head on the penny in your pocket, but a win? It’s NOT a slam dunk.

Nobody’s seen “Les Miz” yet, but I think the field is wide open for somebody whose performance burns up the screen, like, we hope, Hugh Jackman does in “Les Miz” as Jean Valjean. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Alfred Hitchcock electrified the layers of latex he had to act through in “Hitchcock.” He could win.

I’m FINALLY seeing “Silver Linings Playbook” tomorrow, so I will see if  hunk Bradley Cooper has the goods to go for the gold, but in a crowded best actor field like this, even someone as supposedly secure as Joaquim(‘The Oscars are utter bullshit”) Phoenix may not even get in. Denzel Washington is getting huzzahs for “Flight” which I also haven’t seen yet. And Jon Hawkes in an iron lung in “The Sessions”, you just CAN’T leave him out.

And with two Oscars already, and another dead Spielberg horse that he’s whipping, albeit listlessly, Day-Lewis just may not be the Academy’s cup of tea if this film tanks with audiences. The critics seem to be more partial to this History Channel really, really good episode that somehow got turned into a movie, but if it flops at the box-office…And the same goes for Sally Field. She’s got two Oscars already. And so a nomination, but not a win, and Tommy Lee Jones has one, too.

Of all of the above Jones stands the best chance, but just a few minutes ago Harvey Weinstein has announced they are running Christophe Waltz for lead in the yes, also still unseen til Christmas “Django Unchained” And THAT move is so that Best Supporting Actor is open in that movie for Leonardo DiCaprio to perhaps finally score his yet un-won Oscar as an evil Southern Plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino’s newest revenge drama.This one also set during the Civil War, and I’m sure we’ll actually SEE some African-Americans in “Django”. I counted THREE with speaking lines in “Lincoln” That’s just simply disgraceful. And Mary Todd Lincoln’s “maid” or “servant” looks like a model for Vogue. Terrible and terribly insulting to African-American woman, since she’s the only female member of that race that we see. God! This movie insulted just about EVERYbody’s intelligence!

When I finally see these remaining movies all will be revealed! Tomorrow,hopefully, has a Silver Lining with “Silver Linings Playbook.”

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