a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Barkhad Abdi’

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My Surprising Best Actor Pic, Or is it?

My Surprising Best Actor Pic, Or is it?

Just take a look at that picture. Can you imagine anyone voting for anything else if they have seen or suffered through that horrendous moment of moments in “12 Years a Slave”? where Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character of Solomon Northrup is hung by the neck until he’s NEARLY dead? And it’s an INTERMINABLE time. It’s goes on and on and on and director Steve McQueen’s camera just holds that horrifying shot. And it comes near the beginning of the film, too.

Northup revolts against Paul Dano’s thoroughly evil twerp of an over-seer and whups the living daylights out of him,and the audience bursts into cheers! Always. But are horrified to see Dano’s character come back with reinforcements, and they string Solomon up and just leave him there for what seems like hours. AND NO ONE CUTS HIM DOWN!!! AND HE’S STILL ALIVE!!! As the other slaves in the background of the above scene just go about their work, and COMPLETELY IGNORE his hanging there before them!

Northup’s feet barely touch the ground and keep trying to find footing or balance as he hangs by his neck until….well, I don’t want to spoil THAT much of the movie But the utter horror of Ejiofor’s Northrup hanging there, and hanging there and hanging there….well, it’s like watching a REAL hanging in real-time.

It’s excruciating and unbelievable but TRUE! Everything in “12 Years a Slave” is directly from that book that Solomon Northrup wrote that is only now beginning to be taught in schools in America….

But for this scene, as Ejiofor as Northrup struggles to free himself, to balance himself, to just keep breathing is well, breathtaking, and is a scene the Academy, if they’ve seen it, will surely reward with a Best Actor Oscar for Ejiofor.

Although the operative word in that sentence is IF THEY’VE SEEN IT. Peggy Seigel, the great Oscar party thrower, said at the Vanity Fair Oscar Chat that Sasha Stone writes so feelingly about at http://www.awardsdaily.com , that many, MANY Academy voters were just NOT WATCHING “12 Years a Slave” AT ALL.

And Sasha keeps trumpeting and advocating for it until the last-minute, and so, this year am I.

She has expressed doubts about it winning Best Picture and thinks that it might be “Gravity.” I hope not. But she’s also said that she thinks, worse case scenario that it might just get ONE big award. And after BAFTA, which Brit Ejiofor won, that THAT would be the Award. “The Big One” that “Slave” gets, if it shockingly doesn’t get anything else.

But I for one think it will get Best Picture. You ask everyone in New York(and I do) on my cinematic travels and everyone HERE says in unison “12 Years a Slave”. Maybe in L.A. you’re hearing something different. But with the BAFTA Best Picture and Best Actor win, I think the Academy may just do the right thing and check both boxes.

Lupita Nyong’o, who may very well be the OTHER “Big One” that “Slave” wins didn’t win at the BAFTAs. She lost to last year’s It Girl, Jennifer Lawrence for “American Hustle.”

So it could be BP, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. But I would also hope Lupita wins. Both the Gurus o’ Gold at http://www.moviecitynews.com and also Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby at http://www.goldderby.com have Lupita out in front. But Chiwetel isn’t even LISTED in either place.

If “American Hustle” is going to win anything, and the Academy may want to give it SOMEthing, they can award the indefatigable director David O. Russell in “Original Screenplay” which he also wrote and I think that’s where the “American Hustle” voting energy will go. And voila! They’ve honored it and FINALLY David O gets an Oscar.

What else could “Slave” win? It could turn up in some of the below the line categories, like Production Design or even Costume Design. If it wins Best Editing early in the evening, look out, a sweep for “Slave” is coming. But if that early award goes to “Gravity” as well it might, we can look for “Gravity” to take the many, many technical awards it’s predicted for.

But if it’s “Captain Phillips” in editing, there really could be a shake-up and spread amongst the categories, with even an upset like Somali first time actor Barkhad Abdi winning for Best Supporting as he did at BAFTA. Is the Academy so broadened in its’ thinking post-“Brokeback” that giving BOTH its’ Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards to TWO gay AIDS victims, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto?

Still smarting from “Brokeback”s loss to homophobia in AMPAS, I’m hedging my bets that both McConaughey and Leto won’t win. ONE of them may. And this could be where Chiwetel Ejiofor is the surprise of the night who triumphs. But no surprise to me, or to you, dear readers, dear cineastes.

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Who gets Most Oscar Help from BAFTAS? Chiwetel Ejiofor, that’s who!

Who gets Most Oscar Help from BAFTAS? Chiwetel Ejiofor, that's who!

It certainly looks like “12 Years a Slave” is going to win Best Picture and Alfonso Cuaron is going to win Best Director if you judge by tonight’s BAFTA Awards in London. But we knew that already going in.

Who is helped the most in the top categories? It for sure is British Black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor who had his first win tonight for “12 Years a Slave” and his magnificent performance in it.

Leo DiCaprio was there. And he looked pretty pissed in the cut-away shots they showed of him. Just like George Clooney looked in the year he ALMOST, but not quite, had the BAFTA Best Actor in his grasp for “The Descendants” only to see French heartthrob Jean Dujardin win for “The Artist.” And Dujardin went on to win the Oscar, too..

Chiwetel could upset Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar apple-cart, that’s for damn sure.Leo is now oficically out. “Wolf of Wall Street” was shut out completely by the Brits tonight. And “Dallas Buyer’s Club”s two front-running(supposedly) stars McConaughey and Jared Leto were not even nominated in Bligthy. So they couldn’t compete here.

This gave Chiwetel a chance to give a beautiful, moving speech, which he did. So Matthew “Awright, Awright, Awright” McC. you better watch out!

But Jared Leto, you’re OK. They are not going to give the Oscar to first time actor Barkhad Abdi for “Capt. Phillips” who surprisingly won the BAFTA over Irish actor Michael Fassbender for “12 Years”. Leto looks set to continue his march to the Dolby, as does Cate Blanchett in Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine.” Who was pure class in her acceptance speech, not even mentioning Woody Allen, but instead dedicating her award to her late friend, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

And what to make of Jennifer Lawrence WHO WASN”T EVEN THERE to accept her also surprising Best Supporting Actress win over favorite, the beautiful, brilliant Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years.”?

Well, JLaw was snubbed last year for Best Actress by BAFTA who awarded Emmanuel Riva for “Amour” instead. JLaw was memorably filmed looking awfully embarassed as she was there to win, but stayed in her seat. So I think the BAFTA membership was making up for last year’s no-show. But Lawrence not wanting to repeat that awful faux pas. Didn’t even come. And she won.And she didn’t even BOTHER to come.

JLaw doesn’t have the momentum this year that the lovely Lupita does. And the Academy here is NOT going to give Lawrence ANOTHER Oscar when she got one last year. “She already won!” is what everyone is saying about JLaw’s skilled comic performance in “American Hustle.” So I think Lupita,, Vogue magazine’s “It” Girl, should be just FINE.

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!!!

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