a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’

David Poland thinks its btwn. “Boyhood”, “Theory of Everything” and “Imitation Game”

Boyhood 2Theory2David Poland, the great Oscar prognosticator, of “Movie City News”, who was one of the ones who practically founded today’s Oscar race online, has just posted his “Settling” analysis of this year’s race. Something I always look forward to. Previously, he has called it “The Great Settling” and this year however he calls it “The Soft Settling.”

David, full disclosure, was once my boss. Yes, I was once a Guru o’ Gold, and then a Guru 2.0. Well, anyway, I digress…

David has his ear closer to the ground and hears more from more people who are actually Academy voters, and to sum up, he calls it “The Soft Settling”, because he thinks the race is still wide open. I wonder about that.

He interestingly has of course, this year’s de rigueur choice, “Boyhood” in #1, but thinks it’s between that film and the two “Brit pics” “Theory of Everything” And “The Imitation Game.” Which he feels are going to cancel each other out.

But he doesn’t think “Birdman” has an outside chance, though he thinks it will get nominated. He is hearing that the Academy types are resisting it as “too weird” and “too out there”. I think he’s right. But we soon shall see and tomorrow TA DA! The Producers Guild announce their top ten, or IOW their ten nominees which is really, really important. But he does think that the four movies I’ve mentioned above plus “Selma” will all be in. The other five are what’s up in the air still. Can’t wait til tomorrow when we find out!

Check out David’s great piece at the link below ~

http://moviecitynews.com/2015/01/20-weeks-to-oscar-the-soft-settling/

Oscar Box-Office “Nightcrawler” hits #1, “Whiplash” falls

Nightcrawler 1

“Nightcrawler” Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy LA noir is doing really, really well at the Box-Office. It may even be #1 as of this weekend. This is REALLLLLY good for the great Jake’s Oscar chances. The Best Actor category is soooo crowded, just like it was last year, and Jake G. really needed this magic-hype from audiences to get into contention. But these numbers may very well do it for him.

His performance certainly deserves it. Eddie Redmayne for “Theory of Everything” coming up very soon, Benedict Cumberbatch in “Imitation Game” and Michael Keaton for “Birdman” are already pretty much nominated. I’m not at all sold on Timothy Spall for the disappointing “Mr. Turner” and Steve Carrell for the equally underwhelming “Foxcatcher” are not as solid as others think

More on those two Oscar misfires later. Both let me down tremendously.

And another Oscar hopeful that is out and playing already “Whiplash” is not connecting as it should be with movie-goers. And it really has to, especially in this incredibly crowded Oscar season.

Oscar Chances of “Birdman” Yes? No?Maybe?

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theatre, I don’t know quite what to say about “Birdman”. I liked it. It’s shot in my hood, the theater district in Manhattan. It’s all about the theater, But somehow it also seems quite critical of the theater. Not that the Academy would mind that at all. It’s also extremely critical of Hwood, too. “The Artist” is this not.

This was the film that got the most Oscar buzz and internet chatter going at the New York Film Festival so far this year.

Filmed almost entirely(it seems) at the St. James theater, which I overlook, I can’t believe it missed all this just going on right downstairs.

But the Academy will probably like this a lot. Especially the dominant Actor’s Branch. While it is critical of the theater, it revels in the Art of the Actor. And they will go for that hook, line and sinker. Or will they?

I think Michael Keaton is going to get nominated for Best Actor for sure. Having finally seen his performance, I can say that. But will he win? It’s a) a comedy and b) he’s got the stiffest competition imaginable this year in that category c) he’s playing a likable/unlikeable self-centered asshole.

The most likely winner out of the many nominations this film would seem to be heading towards is Edward Norton for Best Supporting Actor. His no-holes-barred, over-the-top(almost) hysterical depiction of a narcissistic theatre(with an re) actor may be the big award that “Birdman” gets. It may get nominated for Best Picture, and probably will. But it seems about nothing more(nor less) of the inside of his aging actor’s head. Keaton, I mean. The ego that eats everyone around it alive. It’s fun, but also not fun to see this. One moment I was screaming with upexpected laughter, the next I was gagging at its’ excesses…Call it stedicam nausea.

Emma Stone is also proably assured of her first Oscar nomination for playing Keaton’s smart, sexy,mouthy teenage daughter.Compare this to her tepid performance in Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” where she seemed completely at sea. Innaritu really directed the hell out of his actors in this, and in a very good way.

But this film is filmed annoyingly in steadicam. It makes you dizzy, and it’s also a fantasy. And the ending is, well, equivocal, to put it spoiler-free.

I can see it losing to a film with more social relevance. Like for instance “The Theory of Everything” and I think it’s a battle for Best Actor between Eddie Redmayne’s superb Stephen Hawkings and Keaton’s aging asshole.. Redmaybe is young. That’s the only thing standing in his way.”Everything” is a triumphant movie in a big way. It’s uplifting. “Birdman” is icky. But it’s still fun…but…

“The Theory of Everything” is probably going to “My Left Foot” its’ way all the way to the Oscars. I thought that when I saw it at TIFF as they crowd went wild. And it’s NOT the terribly disjointed, depressing, but also socially relevant film that “Imitation Game” is. The Academy doesn’t vote Best Picture to gay films, which is what “Imitation Game” is. But Benedict Cumberbatch will be nominated. AND Keira Knightley, who will join Emma Stone in Best Supporting Actress. Which they will both lose to Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood.”

But I found”Birdman”  enjoyable  almost in spite of myself. It’s my kinda film.I love films about the theater. And I couldn’t identify more with the character’s quest to do great Art on Broadway.  But is it the Academy’s taste? Theater? Theatre? Does it justify all this awards hype? Well, yes,no and maybe.

Comedy can win, and often does, in Best Supporting Actor. So Edward Norton get your acceptance speech ready. Michael Keaton, um, not so fast.Birdman 1 Birdman 1

Three Brits in Biopics Dominate Oscar Race at TIFF

So it’s come down to three Brits in Biopics, ruling the Best Actor Race at TIFF. That would be Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”, Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game,” and finally Timothy Spall in “Mr. Turner.” I think one of them is the ultimate winner in this very crowded Oscar season. Well, the Best Actor race is very crowded. Best Actress sadly is not. It’s like tumbleweeds are blowing through that under-populated category.

I think Eddie Redmayne, 32-years-old and freckled everywhere is truly the one to beat. He does an ASTOUNDING job enacting all of genius Stephen Hawkings many, many levels of disabilities. It’s a seamless portrayal which Redmayne totally disappears into utterly. It’s transformative in that it will transform his career forever as a major actor, British or otherwise.

The skill and the adeptness (Did I just create a new word?) with which he essays this seemingly impossible role is simply breath-taking. And mind-boggling. How DID he do it? One keeps thinking. And if we want to hark back to the old Academy acting branch adage “The Degree of Difficulty” is ENORMOUS! It’s off-the-charts. And you LIKE him. Which counts for a lot with Oscar voters.

Cumberbatch is super-nova hot right now with his British TV series “Sherlock Holmes” garnering an unexpected SEVEN Emmy Awards last week. But he’s got a more difficult task in “Imitation Game” His character of ANOTHER British genius is terribly UNLIKEABLE. And difficult. And cold. And complicated mentally as Redmayne’s Hawkings is challenged physically. Alan Turing was not a likeable guy. Troubled, distant, stand-offish, to say the least, and gay. And finally persecuted for being a homosexual in the 1940s and ’50s in England, he ultimately kills himself. It’s kind of a terrible story. A tragedy really. But it is a story that certainly deserves to be told.

It’s a brainy, intellectual film that challenges the audience to keep up with it. Which is a good thing in my book. How many films today even ATTEMPT to do something like this? Virtually none. Except unfortunately for Cumberbatch’s Oscar chances “The Theory of Everything.” But “The Imitation Game” has something that “Everything” doesn’t. Which is the backing of Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. SOOOO adept, historically, at winning Oscars and certainly gaining nominations for all and sundry.

This is particularly good news, I think, I hope, for Keira Knightley, who delivers a career-best performance as Cumberbatch’s female counter-part and sometime partner. She’s a match for him intellectually and mathematically and supplies “The Imitation Game” with a much-needed beating heart. She’s extraordinarily good here, and you know how effective Harvey is in getting Best Supporting Actress nominations. And I do think Cumberbatch will be nominated, too.

If you crunch the numbers on biopic nominees in recent years, as my colleague Scott Feinberg is sure to do, maybe even as you’re reading this. (He’s at the Hollywood Reporter) , you’ll find that real life characters and their portrayals are almost always rewarded. By the Academy.

Timothy Spall is a suberb British character actor, and will probably be counted “Lucky To Be Nominated” for the epic British biopic “Mr. Turner” about the great British painter, J. M. W. Turner. This film is also going to pop up very soon at the New York Film Festival. And we’ll see how it does there. It was also at Cannes, where it was acclaimed. And where Spall won a surprising Best Actor award.

But just judging by the heat-on-the-ground at TIFF, it’s going to be a battle ROYAL between Redmayne and Cumberbatch. Stay tuned. It’s going to be a VEDDY British Oscar season, I predict.

 

 

 

TIFF Announces 2014 Slate! Foxcatcher, Maps to the Stars, more

Foxcatcher 1Julianne Moore 1TIFF logo 1Imitation Game 1It’s a starry line-up as always as TIFF today announced its’ upcoming slate of Galas, which always take place at the Roy Thomson Hall, and formal dress is required, and Special Presentations, which almost always happen at the classic Elgin(pronounced “El Gin” with a hard “g”) theatre.

Three of the films I’m most looking forward to seeing are David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” which netted Julianne Moore the Best Actress award at Cannes,

Bennett Miller’s follow-up to “Moneyball” “Foxcatcher” which is about wrestling, not baseball, and the British WWII spy film “Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch( PBS’ Sherlock Holmes to many) as the lead character who is a closeted homosexual.

There are many, many films more that were announced today. Go to Sasha Stone’s invaluable Oscar site http://www.awardsdaily.com for more info. Toronto always has soooo many films, you can’t see them all.

One movie I’ve already seen, today as a matter of fact, was the Dame Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas & Kevin Kline starrer “Me and My Old Lady” with Dame Maggic pulling out all the stops in yet ANOTHER tour-de-force performance that is soooo good I’m glad they are including it at TIFF. She deserves it.

And so now, the Oscar Race officially begins! Could Dame Maggie surprise and make it into the Best Actress race? She certainly deserves it. She’s plays a 92-year-old English woman living in France.  And I’m SOOOO glad I saw it today!

 

 

 

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