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Posts tagged ‘August:Osage County’

Oscar Apple Cart Upset by Late-Breaking “Into The Woods?

Into the Woods 1Stephen Sondheim and movies of his work have never really clicked with the public. See Elizabeth Taylor in “A Little Night Music”, and of course, more recently “Sweeney Todd” with Johnny Depp. But Musicals are catnip to the Academy.

Depp is back again as the Big Bad Wolf whose  nemesis is Little Red Riding Hood, a very lethal Little Red Riding Hood. But the word from the screenings yesterday is that Meryl Streep is once again going to be back at the Dolby Pavillion for something like her 20th nomination. But which category will she be in? Could she win? She’s got three Oscars already.

The always excellent Emily Blunt has the Baker’s Wife role in the film and that’s the part that has historically won awards. Joanna Gleeson on Broadway won a Tony for Best Actress.  And pert, pretty Anna Kendrick is getting good  W.O.M.(word of mouth) as Cinderella. A former Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress for “Up In The Air” could she also be up again of her sparkling Cinderella?

And where does that put Meryl’s Wicked Witch? The Academy put her in lead last year for “August:Osage County” when many thought she’d be Supporting and Julia Roberts would be lead, but the categories were reversed.

That could happen to Emily Blunt, too. And she and Anna Kendrick could be up against the here-to-fore unstoppable Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood.” Would they knock her out of the leading contender spot? In Supporting.

Meryl’s Witch certainly could. The plot sickens.

 

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Oscar Bloggers Anne Thompson & I Predict the Oscars in SEPT. Not Much Has Changed…

How very little has changed since TIFF! The Toronto International Film Festival sets the stage and runs the table for Oscar starting and some would say ending in September! If you’re not screened at Toronto, it’s becoming increasingly harder to catch up. I’m looking at YOU “American Hustle”, “Wolf of Wall Street”, “All is Lost” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” to name just a few.

Anne and I were BOTH not even mentioned in the New York Magazine Oscar Blogger article which just came out in this week’s New York Magazine. Where my wonderful Sasha Stone and the great Jeff Wells were the centerpieces of said supposed last word on Oscar Blogging.

Anne, classy lady that she is, probably declined to be interviewed for this piece, I’m just guessing. HitFix was also left out completely. Go figure. Next year, Boris, CALL ME!!!!

E.T.A. The only big change since taping this scene is that we now both know how to pronounce AND SPELL Lupita Nyong’o!!! And so does the world!!!!

Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nomination Predictions

Following on from my earlier Oscar Nominations Predictions here are my Best Supporting Actress nominations. 

This is the wacky category which is always unstable and where ALWAYS surprises turn up. Even to me. Like for instance last year Jackie Weaver getting nominated for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Even SHE didn’t expect it, she has said.

Why, in a rather weak performance, did she get in? Well simply put she was in a film every Academy voter was watching, to look at the other eventual nominees Bradley Cooper, Robert DiNiro and eventual winner Jennifer Lawrence, and they saw Weaver playing mother hen to all of them, and so out of sheer laziness, I feel, they just wrote her name down as well. Instead of looking at a separate DVD screener (even if they were sent one) on Magnolia Films Indie starring Ann Dowd.

Weaver replaced Dowd in the final Nomination line-up. Even though she was NOMINATED for a Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress and WON the National Board of Review.

Weaver was also in a film the Weinstein Co. were pushing. As always, DON’T UNDERESTIMATE HARVEY!

So who does Harvey have in his Supporting Actress stable this year? Well, Julia Roberts, in the best performance of her career in “August:Osage County” so I think she’s in. And so are his other ladies, Opran Winfrey in “Lee Daniels The Butler” and also Octavia Spenser in “Fruitvale Station.”

Adding in Lupita Nyong’O’s breakout debut performance in “12 Years a Slave” and Golden Globe winner and last year’s Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle.”

And 84-year-old June Squibb gets in for “Nebraska.”

Also, I don’t think the Academy can resist making history this year by nominating THREE African American actresses in the same category! That would be Oprah, Lupita Nyong’O, and former winner in this category Octavia Spenser.

ETA: I just realized I predicted SIX nominees! Well, that can’t be right!
Sorry! So who gets left out. Unfortunatley, it’s either Octavia Spenser, but because she’s got Harvey behind her, and he’s ALSO got to do some heavy lifting for Julia Roberts in this category AND Oprah, too, who surprisingly is not a slam dank(She didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination! SHOCK!). He may split his infinity here. And “Fruitvale Station” as worthy as it is, is NOT “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”Or Octavia gets in and June Squibb does not. Last year, Ann Dowd didn’t.

DGA & BAFTA Upsom Downs ~ Who’s In, Who’s Out as Oscar Nom Balloting Closes

The Phase I of Oscar Season, as it’s called closed today with the due date of the nomination ballots this afternoon at 3pm.

So it’s done. It’s over. And while everything seems like it’s set in Stone(as in Sasha Stone), is it really? There’s always surprises. Like for instance “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and its’ performers being totally shut out from BAFTA. Ditto Meryl Streep for “Best OverActressing” for “August: Osage County.” And Robert Redford for “Best Non-Actoring” in “All Is Lost.”

I remember soooo well my thinking that the notorious Melissa Leo was dead-in-the-Oscar-water, when SHE wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA for “The Fighter,” but guess what? She WON! So those rules don’t necessarily apply. However, someone like Jonah Hill’s being nominated NOwhere, means that’s where he’ll probably stay.

And it forecasts not very easy waters ahead for veterans Streep or Redford. Today it feels like someone. Probably Leonardo Di Caprio is going to take Redford’s place in THE FIVE.(in the tighttightight Best Actor race.)

The DGA nominated the directors of “12 Years a Slave”(Steve McQueen), “Capt.Phillips” (Paul Greengrass), “Wolf of Wall Street”(Martin Scorsese), “Gravity” Alfonso Cuaron and “American Hustle” (David O. Russell). I think we can safely say that all those five films WILL be nominated for Best Picture Oscar, when the nominations are handed out Tuesday morning. 8:45AM EST.

But what about the actors in those films? Well, they’ll all have an easier ride than those that aren’t in a DGA film.

So that’s good news for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’O, and Michael Fassbender, Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, Leo, but not Jonah Hill, Sandra Bullock, and only perhaps Jennifer Lawrence from “American Hustle.”

Everyone else, except the winning frontrunner Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine” is in doubt. Not serious doubt, but doubt nonetheless. I wonder if this hurts Bruce Dern’s chances, although he surely will get a nomination for “Nebraska” and also I wonder now about June Squibb…

And then in another universe entirely are the Weinstein films, all orbiting around their own sun, Harvey, who knows better than anyone in any world, how to bend the Academy to his will and the will of his FIVE films, or six, if you count “Ten Feet From Stardom.” I loved that movie and I bet that’s his big winner this year. It’s the wing-ding of a doc about back-up singers.

But he’s also got “Philomena”, “August:Osage County”, “Lee Daniel’s The Butler”, “Long Walk to Freedom” and “Fruitvale Station.” A workaholic (and who isn’t in the Oscar race?)Dame Judi Dench is probably in like flint for the grieving mother in “Philomena” and didn’t Harvey surprise us all by getting JACKIE WEAVER nominated for Best Supporting Actress for a non-performance of epic non-magnitude in “Silver Linings Playbook”? NOOOOOObody expected THAT.

And why, when she certainly didn’t deserve it, did she get nominated? Well, the Voters SAW her, when they went to look at “Silver Linings Playbook”. There she was playing Bradley Cooper’s mom and Robert De Niro’s wife, and lazy voters that they are, they wrote her name down(probably at Harvey’s suggestion) and a clearly not-winning performance, it was nevertheless a nominated one.

Who of those movies is no one talking about at all, esp. in Supporting, always a flibbertijibet of categories? Well, there’s Naomi Harris who is just terrific as Winnie Mandela, in what is clearly a leading role, in “Long Walk to Freedom.” But will enough people have watched that? There’s Margo Martindale, whose role in “August:Osage…” has been all but eviscerated but she has made an impact and is on many radars. And an obvious choice previous Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spenser for “Fruitvale Station” who was just awarded her Best Supporting Actress trophy tonight by the National Board of Review. So she’s not exactly obscure. Melonie Diaz for “Fruitvale” would be a VERY big surprise. She was just as good as the grieving girl-friend of the slain lead character…

And poor “Inside Llewyn Davis” left out in the cold…just like it’s leading character…and the break-out star of this year, Oscar Isaac…I think it could very well get a Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography and maybe Best Score and Song”Please Mr. Kennedy” or another song from “Llewyn.”

I loved Scarlett Johansson’s magnificent voice work in “Her” but aren’t there Academy rules against parts that are just voice-work? Maybe there are and maybe there aren’t. She’s never been nominated so THAT would be the surprise of surprises…And of course, Joaquin Phoenix would be a total surprise if he broke in Best Actor. But he did just that last year for “The Master” when everyone was counting him out(including me). So would the aforementioned Oscar Isaac and/or Michael B. Jordan for “Fruitvale” in Best Actor…And don’t forget Sally Field as Cate Blanchett’s lovable sis in “Blue Jasmine.” The Golden Globes included her in, and not Oprah. Could happen again.

We’ll just have to wait and see! But I can’t wait any longer!!!! I WANT TO KNOW NOW!!!

More Oscar Upsom Downs. WGA announces & AGAIN no “Llewyn Davis”!!!

Yes, it’s more Oscar Ups ‘n’Downs or Upsom Downs, as I like to call it.

Let’s see the Writer’s Guild just announced and it’s up for “American Hustle” and “Lone Survivor”(which almost made my Top Ten List) and Harvey Weinstein even succeeded in getting back in this(after being out of it for only a day. Yesterday. Toldja there’s no stopping Harvery!) with an Adapted Screenplay nomination for “August:Osage County”. Which saw Pulitzer and Tony winning playwright Tracey Letts butcher his own script IMHO.

“After Midnight” which put me to sleep got a Best Original Screenplay nod. ZZZZZZ…

But AGAIN “Blue Jasmine” turns up in Original Screenplay for Woody Allen. “Blue Jasmine” is just getting stronger and stronger, and will garner Woody his upteenth Original Screenplay nomination if he lands the Oscar nod. And as I said, expect Sally Hawkins to get in, too. In Supporting Actress.

And “Dallas Buyer’s Club” is showing surprising strength, too. It’s turning up right where it should be.

And the controversial “Wolf of Wall Street” scores, too! Unbelivable.

However, the down of DOWNS is no love for “Inside Llewyn Davis” which after two down days is RRRRREALLY bad news.

And no screenplay nomination for “Gravity” YAY!

Of course, there’s the caveat that several of the main contenders this year of years including “12 Years a Slave” and “Philomena” weren’t even eligible.

Once again, Kris Tapley is first out of the gate at http://www.hitfix.com

And herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre they are, FWIW. They mean SOMEthing but not EVERYthing, because of the “ineligibles” as Kris calls them.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“American Hustle,” Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia Pictures
Blue Jasmine,” Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
“Dallas Buyers Club,” Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus Features
Her,” Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.
Nebraska,” Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

August: Osage County,” Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein Company
Before Midnight,” Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony Classics
Captain Phillips,” Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
“Lone Survivor,” Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal Pictures
“The Wolf of Wall Street,” Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/dallas-buyers-club-lone-survivor-wolf-of-wall-street-land-wga-nominations#f35iUgtZvdEYKIV8.99

” August:Osage..” What Went Right? What Went Wrong?

Now, with the announcement that Meryl Streep will be in the lead category and Julia Roberts is now in Supporting(over her dead body!) and that the ending may be changed as well for the former Oscar front-runner “August:Osage County” WHAT is going on over there, there being the Weinstein Co., with that movie?

Stage to page, difficult transition, for this Pulitzer-Prize winner that I adored so much I saw it three times onstage and was delighted that my stay in Toronto for TIFF was just long enough to cram this in. I was even there the first one on line for the Press and Industry screening, as I predicted I would be, dear readers, dear cineastes, but I wasn’t prepared for the mess I saw unspooling before me on the screen.

It starts off fine with Sam Shepherd doing a great turn as Beverly, the doomed patriarch of the Westin family, hiring the only surviving member of the original Bway cast Missie Upton, as the taciturn Indian girl Janaa, he is hiring as a housekeeper for his pill-crazed wife, Violet(Meryl Streep).

It’s a great, showy role, god knows, and Streep eats every piece of scenery in sight, and pretty much chokes on it, which is the problem. She seems not addicted to pills as she claims but to over-acting. I haven’t seen her show-boating a role like this since the remake of “Manchurian Candidate,” which all but ended director Jonathan Demme’s career.

Doing the Oklahoma accent so accurately, and playing an addicted person, pretty much guarantees her a nomination, but no win, in the Best Actress category, where she so rightly belongs.

But since it’s Streep, she doesn’t so much disappear into the character as much as she keeps popping out and waving a white flag, saying “It’s still me! It’s Meryl! I’m not really this evil witch of a character I’m playing! It’s only acting, folks! Don’t be scared.” But this is the problem, it’s also the problem I experienced when I saw Estelle Parsons take over from Deanna Dunagan as Violet Westin on Broadway. Estelle played her warm and cuddly, too, as Meryl does. When Dunagan was just a clear and simple horror. You hated her. You were afraid of her. You couldn’t believe she was doing and saying the things she was doing to all her assembled family. But Dunagan had the hidden plus of being an actress unknown to us. Meryl is hardly that. She’s still adorable, warm and cuddly Meryl under the bad wig and the age make-up.

So you never are really afraid of her. She’s not a dark force, but an amusing one. She doesn’t miss a laugh line. Her comic timing is impeccable. So yes, she will very likely get ANOTHER Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making her the most nominated actress in Academy history.She’s not the MOM-FROM-HELL you want to escape from, but the wise-cracking fun-loving observant Mom you want to stay with.

But her likability robs the film of its’ dramatic fulcrum. There’s now no antagonist there. And also it reveals “August:Osage County” to have no plot.

And cutting it’s over three hour length onstage(there’s nearly an hour missing) really hurts it, too. Margo Martindale is fine as the plumb sister but her part is virtually gone. On Broadway, Rondi Reed, another Chicagoan actress like Deanna Dunagan, won a Tony as did Dunagan. The part has been so reduced here on film, I doubt that Martindale will get an Oscar nomination.

Violet’s sister is supposed to be the warm and cuddly one, not Violet, so again the play becomes unbalanced. So what, really is going on here? It’s simply a series of humiliation scenes as one by one Violet verbally attacks every single member of her family and alienates them, perhaps forever. But as Streep plays it, she seems to be giving each member of her clan the dose of truth-telling they so sorely need, and you think, yes, she’s right. Her children are all ungrateful, self-absorbed brats.And yes, the deserve a dressing down. At the very least.

And yes, one by one, they leave her. And we all see this coming a mile away in the movie. And the supporting roles of which there are almost too many to list her are all so cut down, it’s hard to feel anything for them, as Violet knocks off each and every one of them almost systemically. Too systemically for a supposed drug addict…

And totally missing to is the part of Janaa, the Indian girl, who in the play presides and oversees the goings on of the crazy white people below, from her attic room in the see-through skeleton of a house that was the brilliant setting of the play onstage. We were always mindful of Janaa watching, watching, watching…and as it turns out, waiting.

And in the climatic scene, which is now gone completely from the movie, we see Violet, pathetically abandoned and alone, crawling up the stairs of the three story house, screaming “Janaa! Janaa!” That is a shattering image I still can’t get out of my mind.

And much is made during the course of the play about the land that the house is on, in fact all of  Osage county, originally belonging to the Indians, and in the end, it is indeed the Indian girl Janaa who is left stoically standing as the whites below massacre, lacerate and abandon each other.

You totally understand why all of them want to get away from Violet. As did her suicided husband Beverly(Sam Shepherd) at the beginning of the play. They flee with reason.

The great, grand surprise of the movie is how good Julia Roberts is as the angry, reasonable daughter, who stands up to her mother. This is now the main conflict of the movie. Almost nothing of Roberts’ role has been cut out for the truncated screen version, and so she has a LOT to play and Roberts to her credit, gives the performance of her career as the daughter who stands up to her mother, but even she can’t take it in the end.

My question is ~ who in the film version would ever leave cuddly, jocular, joke-filled Mamma Mia Meryl Streep? The hour that is lost makes the children now seem like ingrates and Meryl’s Violet is the unjustly abandoned one.

Which is not right. And NOT why I saw this play three times and why it won deservedly the Pulitzer Prize.

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!

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