a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Berenice Bejos’

Oscar, a palpable presence at “The Artist” junket NYC!

Yes, I felt Oscar IN THE ROOM! There was a presence that I could really, really feel today at “The Artist”s press junket in NYC and I’ve come to the conclusion that I felt Oscar him/itself there. Everyone was sooo happy! I’ve never seen this before! EVAH! And for a comedy???

Well, Woody Allen never does press things like this. Or not much.

He did subject himself to a print media only press conference last year for “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger” and I did meet him there. He’s wonderful. What can you say? He’s Woody. And I’ve just seen “Midnight in Paris” EIGHT TIMES!

Well, it’s gonna be a very French year at the Oscars, I predict. Between “Midnight…” and “The Artist”s charming French stars and director…I really do think it’s between the two of these light-as-air Gallic breezes of up-beat comedies for Best Picture this year.

The biggest difference? Well, let’s say DIALOGUE. “The Artist” is a silent film. And also color. “The Artist” is in Black and White. No I’m not kidding. It really IS.

What was one of Alice’s tasks in “Through the Looking Glass”? Trying to imagine eight impossible things before breakfast?

Well, you can count the improbable, but very palpable rise of “The Artist” as at least two or maybe three or maybe FOUR of those impossible things.

1) It’s in Black and White

2) It’s Silent

3) It’s French. And a French film, made by French people has never won the Oscar

4) It’s a comedy

5) It’s star Jean DuJardin as very likely a Best Actor nominee(and he may WIN. See below..)

6)It’s comely leading lady, French actress Berenice Bejos will probably be nominated for Best Supporting Actress

Oh, well, that’s SIX impossible things right there.

That this small, short(100 mins.) black and white silent film just continues like Alice herself to just rise and rise and rise ~ all the way to the Oscars…probably. Well, it’s “most improbable” is most probably what Alice would say.

There was something in the air this morning. An elan. A delightful sparkle. Something had happened to alllll those present. And I do think it was that Oscar had announced himself to all and sundry that yes, they were all going to go to the Kodak Pavillion come February.

And they ALL knew it. And all were smiling, smiling, smiling…

When I said something to this effect to Berenice Bejos, the winsome Peppy Miller, the ingenue who charlestons her way into our hearts AND the heart of “The Artist” himself, Jean Valentin, (DuJardin) this morning she said “That’s what everyone keeps telling us.” And I really did believe that everyone, and not just me, was saying this to Mlle. Bejos.

And this time it wasn’t just me (or someone like Hollywood-Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells, at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com who went off on a supportive spree for this low-budget indie “Tyrannosaur” hosting three screenings in L.A. There were only TWO in NYC, and I couldn’t make either of them.) it wasn’t just me, or Jeff, going off and on about falling in love with a movie. This time “The Artist” was a movie EVERYONE had already fallen in love with. HARD .There wasn’t a cynical smirk in the room.

And I, Oscarologist that I am, really DO feel it’s going to win something. And win something BIG like “Best Picture” or Best Actor for Jean DuJardin or maybe BOTH!

It will certainly get nominated for everything under the sun, the Hollywood sun, because yes, this satire and loving tribute to silent films, was actually made and shot in Hollywood employing many below the line technical people in L.A. where the verisimilitude of making Old Hollywood movies, really never has gone far from where it all started.

And authentic “The Artist” certainly seems to be. Except that it’s made by French people. The director the almost unpronounceable Michel(pronounced like “Michelle” as in “Michelle Williams”) wait for it. Hazanavicius. Which is pronounced like the words “Hosannah!” as it “Yippee!” andvis-e-use, as only the French can pronounce that last syllable like is “ooze.” Or “Yoose”

And it’s two out-of-ballpark charming French stars Jean DuJardin and the aforementioned Mlle. Bejos( pronounced like Bay-Jo, with a hard “j”) who is the director, M. Hazanavicius’ wife IRL.

And of course, the unseen star, Harvey Weinstein,  the canny producer who bought this French bon-bon (Tom O’Neil’s descriptive word for “The Artist” and he’s right. Read his classic Oscar site www.goldderby.com for MORE on The Race) at Cannes, mais oui, in all its’ black and white gorgeousness and Harvey, the Oscar Whisperer (as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone calls him at www.awardsdaily.com ) is VERY effective at these improbable Oscar feats. Like perhaps grabbing an Oscar win in Best Picture for a BLACK AND WHITE film with NO DIALOGUE at all, and perhaps more likely, an Oscar for Best Actor for Jean Dujardin.

Hey, I know it sounds crazy, but he’s done this before with a foreign film actor, the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni. Yes, he DID win Best Actor. For “Life Is Beautiful” I know it sounds impossible, but this is absolutely TRUE!

So Harvey and the Academy have been down this road before. But yet, have they? I mean, this is a film that yes, is made by and stars French actors, but it’s SILENT!

Harvey is going to argue in the coming months that Jean DuJardin has had the hardest (read “degree of difficulty) role in that he has to make everyone enjoy themselves WITHOUT SAYING A WORD! Now, that’s hard!

And Best Actor is shaping up to be a smack-down(Tom O’Neil’s word again) between three very successful actors, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. All incredible handsome, RICH, and very well established stars. Knocking each other out of competition, or it seems to me, this morning, cancelling each other out….Nothing the Academy hates more than rewarding RICH, GOOD LOOKING guys. OK, GREAT looking guys.  Yeah, it’s true. Just as they LOVE rewarding beautiful young girls, like this year’s Michelle Williams. Who is beyond-belief sexy and fetching as hell, as Marilyn Monroe….The Academy is nothing if not predictable.

And I thought earlier last week(which now seems like LAST YEAR in Oscar-time) that it was going to be Leo as “J.Edgar”, but I was not prepared for the critical drubbing the film got. Homophobia pure and simple, if you ask me, but still there it was landing a low-ball and way-out-side on Rotten Tomatoes. www.rottentomatoes.com And although Leo was praised for his performance…

I think that unexpectedly harsh reception (unexpected by me, I must emphasize) has knocked him down a few pegs and you can see this reflected in Stu Van Airsdale’s Oscar Index where now Jean Dujardin sits right below George Clooney on Stu’s Oscar Index this week. www.movieline.com.

And the Gurus o’ Gold, as I said, have ONLY ONE VOTE separating “The Descendants” and “The Artist.”  ONE VOTE.

And watch what happens next week when BOTH “My Week with Marilyn”‘ AND “The Artist” open ON THE SAME DAY!

Methinks Harvey W. has done it AGAIN!

And you can see my interviews with allllll these wonderful, talented people coming soon to my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Oscar Chart by David Poland now up @ Movie City News

Yes, David Poland finally put his first, big Oscar chart of the season up at www.moviecitynews.com

And I felt a bit of relaxation to see that David and I were mostly on the same page. He’s got Woody Allen’s masterpiece “Midnight in Paris” in the #1 position for Best Picture. He’s got Michelle Williams for Best Actress for “My Week With Marilyn”. He’s got BOTH Jean DuJardin and Berenice Bejos in the top spots for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress in “The Artist” and he’s got Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor. However not for “Beginners” but for the still unseen “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”

But quixotically, he’s combined Plummer, also with Stellan Skarsgard for “Tattoo”, too. Plummer is playing the smallish, exposition-filled role of Herman Vanger, the old multi-millionaire who hires Mikael Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance and possible murder of the beloved neice Harriet Vanger, 14 years previously. And Skarsgard, who is also a great, great actor, plays his oldest son.

Don’t think any of THIS is going to happen, and Plummer will be awarded for “Beginners” as we’ve known from, well, the beginning of the season. May, actually.

But the others are intriguingly in sync with my P.O.V.

He doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed with Clooney in “The Descendants”. “Nothing new here” he notes.

I love David’s pithy descriptions of each persons chances! And now in Best Supp. Actress, he AND Scott Feinberg have got Berenice Bejos on top, which is really covering the waterfront in terms of two predictors from opposite ends of the Hollywood spectrum. Scott Feinberg is now at The Hollywood Reporter. But his previous web address was www.scottfeinberg.com And he was the first person to link to this humble blog. I think he still is.

I THOUGHT when I first saw “The Artist” in Montreal that Harvey Weinstein would push both Dujardin AND Bejos through for his film that really is perhaps the most lovable winner imaginable this year. Well, nominee, anyway.

Anne Thompson keeps saying at www.indiewire.com that Dujardin can’t speak English well enough to succeed on the pre-awards interview circuit. And Anne never makes this judgements lightly. I wonder if Berenice Bejos speaks it better?

I know one of the reasons that Marion Cotillard who won so famously and deservedly for “La Vie En Rose” (besides her being on my show!) was that she assiduously STUDIED English very hard during the pre-Oscar months, when she literally MOVED to L.A. and camped out there and went to every party imaginable and that dear readers, dear cineastes is what you have to do.

Poland also thinks Ryan Gosling’s chances are as dead as a doornail this year for “Drive” and for “Ides of March” which everyone is now discounting. And I think that’s right, too…

Berenice Bejos really COULD win. The other most talked about lady in waiting in the Supporting Category is Octavia Spenser for “The Help.” And as David points out regarding “The Bridesmaids” Melissa McCarthy that Oscar does not reward you for shitting in a sink, which evidently she does in this movie. That same maxim can be applied to Spenser, who although she doesn’t do it in the sink, she famously does it somewhere else, which I’m not going to spoil here. But let’s just say, you don’t get an Oscar for doing the brazen, outrageous act that makes her character of the outspoken Minny in “The Help” so memorable. I rest my Octavia Spenser case…

And Poland gives no traction whatsoever to Jeff Wells crusade for “Tyrannosaur” which, BTW, he barely mentions it, except in his Comments section where someone does bring Olivia Coleman’s name up. And Poland quickly brings it down.

And I just finally made myself watch the trailer for “War Horse”. Yes, no one seen it, but EVERYONE has seen the play and the trailer nearly made me cry. My heart just went out to that poor horse! And it’s a gorgeous horse, too! It’s acting its’ heart out. No really. It has Oscar Winner written all over that one.

And a strong supporting cast of un-Oscar-ed British actors, including the great Emily Watson in the pivotal role of the mother. And also Tom Hiddleston, a guest on my TV show, as the noble British captain who buys The Horse. You can see me interview Tom about this in a rather splendid chat we had at TIFF’11 that is now up on my channel at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow He talks about “War Horse” in Pt.2.

Only problem I see on the horizon for “War Horse” is that it may be too sentimental, but y’know, that’s never stopped any one from winning an Oscar!

Excellent “Oscar Index” at Movieline asks “Is it February yet?” Lol…

Do I love that Oscar Index, penned by the redoubtable Stu Van Airsdale over at the increasingly necessary www.movieline.com ? Yes! I do! I highly recommend it for its’ humor is as good as anything in the New Yorker. Yes, I have now mentioned the words “Oscar” and “The New Yorker” in the same sentence! I admit it!

I have no ads. So I can say anything. And I do. On my blog. On my TV show.

And Stu’s Oscar Index constantly surprises me! Like for instance the major surprise this week was French actress Berenice Bejos, who I just ADORED in “The Artist,” and was always championing since I saw the movie in Montreal- well, Berenice has now bounced right into the center of the Oscar Index’ Best Supporting Actress chart! And fittingly enough, she’s pictured as a Black and White bobble-head, and like the film, she’s not in color.

“The Artist” won the Hamptons Film Festival Audience choice award this past week, so Harvey W. is once again, a happy Hamptons-goer. Last year, “The King’s Speech” won this award.

Besides the Toronto Film Festival audience award, it was the only other award it won on its’ surprising Oscar journey. “The King’s Speech” I mean. Last year, it didn’t start its’ OSCAR winning streak til that famous night at the PGA awards in Hollywood where it won, unexpectedly. Not unexpected by me, though.

But whether it’s “The Artist” or “My Week with Marilyn” the Oscar this year also seems to have Harvey’s name on it. Just like last year. Will the Academy become sick of his dominance? No. I don’t think so. They LOVE it! It’s a throw back to the days of the REAL Old Time Hollywood mogols of yore. Louis B. Mayer, David O. Selznick. Daryl Zanack. Sam Goldwyn, etc. etc. etc.

It’s a Weinstein world and we just live in it! I guess you could replace that noun with George Clooney and you’d be equally right.

Every where I turn in New York right now, George Clooney is coming at me. Off billboards, off BUS ADS, and this is just for “The Ides of March”! Which is sinking link a stone according to Oscar Index,  but is maintaining a low watt Box-Office, but holding steady. The upcoming “The Descendants” is the one who will win George his second Oscar this year. If he is to win it for anything.

And then, on that momentous day at the end of November, “The Descendants,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “The Artist,” and “Hugo” ALLLLL OPEN ON THE SAME DAY! I still can’t get over that confluence of circumstances! And release dates!

And Stu has the brilliant Viola Davis in second place this week. And he drops Michelle Williams down to third, for “The Help” and “My Weekend with Marilyn” respectively.

Now my main prob with Viola Davis is where EXACTLY Disney is gonna place her. In lead? Or Supporting? If she’s in Supporting, she’s a slam dunk. If she’s in lead, it’s iffy. And Category Confusion could lead her to end up where the equally brilliant Lesley Manville ended up last year for “Another Year.”Which is NOWHERE. It COULD happen.

Note to Disney/Dreamworks – MAKE VIOLA’S CATEGORY CRYSTAL CLEAR or else it’s Lesley Manville time…again.*sound of crickets chripping*

Oscar Index still has Meryl Streep’s unseen “Iron Lady” at No. 1 And Gorgeous George is STILL topping Best Actor, naturally. For “The Descendants” which I agree with.

But Meryl? Still? As Margaret Thatcher? One of the most unsympathetic female figures of our times? And rumored to be about her at the end of her life as an Alzheimer’s patient? Didn’t we see this movie before? With Judi Dench? And it was called “Iris”? And James Broadbent was playing her understanding care-giver of a husband? And he won a Supporting Actor Oscar for it? And isn’t James Broadbent playing that same role in “The Iron Lady”? And isn’t it directed by the woman who directed “Mamma Mia”?(which I LOVED by the way.) But the “Iron Lady” doesn’t sound like a light-hearted musical frolic. At least not on paper. Nobody’s seen it, so nobody knows. Yet Oscar Index AND the Gurus o’ Gold are putting Meryl on top of their lists. Me. I’ll wait to see it.

And yes, that’s Harvey’s movie, too…

Just to make everything even more confusing, for us. Never mind him or the entire staff of the Weinstein Co. Who are TOTALLY ready for this challenge of challenges by the way. They can handle anything. Including multiple Oscar campaigns.

Which some people, like Strand Releasing’s Marcus Hu, doesn’t seem to be able to do. At least not according to Jeffrey Wells, the untamed blogger extraordinaire who has now fallen so hard for low-budget, British Indie “Tyrannosaur” that he’s starting to try to raise money through his website www.hollywood-elsewhere.com for Olivia Colman’s lead performance.

Not having seen it, I haven’t a clue how misguided or guided this latest scream of a scheme Jeffrey, an Internet legend to put it mildly, has come up with. You can follow this critic-takes-on-the-role-of-press-agent-to-the-Oscars story blow by hilarious blow at Hollywood-Elsewhere.

It sounds just nuts. Jeffrey thinks his readers will contribute to HIS pay pal account to fund this $2000 evening screening in Hollywood. That’s what it costs, evidently per very nice screening room in L.A. Who knew?

And then, suppose he raises it? Does that mean anyone will come to the screening? First rank critics? AMPAS members? Suppose no one comes? Suppose this rash and unprecedented action turns off more Academy Members than it turns on? To “Tyrannosaur”? To Olivia Coleman? An unknown middle-aged British actress playing an abused wife in a council flat somewhere in Northern England?

I think this is all because Jeffrey was unable to switch his flight back to L.A. from NYC when the NYFF switched the press screening of “My Weekend with Marilyn” to a week ago Sunday. Causing Jeff to miss it completely. On both coasts. If he had seen it, he wouldn’t be going off the deep end like this, I can assure you. Over Olivia Coleman? Really?

Seems he doesn’t like the screenings in L.A. Strand Releasing is (not) setting up for “Tyrannosaur.” What next? And I didn’t know Jeffrey was SUCH an Anglo-phile.

Bottom line, he’s getting a lot of attention(read hits, read Internet traffic) for this. And is this helping Olivia Coleman? And her teeny tiny distributor Strand? I’ve admired Strand for years, but it’s no secret that they don’t have the big bucks. And Oscar campaigns cost MONEY. Maybe you didn’t know that, but now you do.

Is Jeffrey hurting more than he’s helping? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, enjoy Oscar Index at Movieline. THAT’S on the money.

Michelle Williams Breaks Your Heart & Will Win Her First Best Actress Oscar for “My Week with Marilyn”!

I’m just rushing back from a packed, packed, packed Press Screening at the New York Film Festival this morning to rave and rave about how wonderful “My Week with Marilyn” turned out to be! Michelle Williams has just won the Oscar for Best Actress!!! She is HEARTBREAKING! And there’s so much NEW Marilyn info here. We think we know MMs story, but “My Week…” meticulously shows us that, we do not. There is more to be told And Michelle Williams! OMG! She is beautiful beyond belief, sexy, and she rips your heart out, too! It’s an Academy Award performance FOR SURE! Close the category! Nobody can top her!

And director Simon Curtis could be on his way to the Oscars,too, with this film.  It’s so good in all its’ aspects it could win Best Picture. And so could Kenneth Branagh, who’s definitely got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his future playing the egotistical, blue meany Sir Laurence Olivier, and so may Dame Judi Dench as a hilarious Dame Sybil Thorndyke, the only person on the film set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” who seems to be kind to Marilyn and sees and understands the torments she’s going  through. Dame Judi shows you that Olivier did not HAVE to behave the way he did to Marilyn. She tells him to “stop bullying her!” but of course, he does n0t and therein lies the conflict and the plot of this  spectacularly surprising, fantastically good movie.

And you just HATE Zoe Wanamaker asthe black-clad, matronly Paula Strasberg, who is Marilyn’s Method Acting coach. Paula accompanies her to England to film (true story) Olivier’s production of this Terrence Ratigan play that was a hit for him in the West End, where he played opposite his real life wife at the time Vivian Leigh. Played here by Julia Ormond, in a kind of throw away part. Wanamaker, as Strasberg, maddeningly interferes in every aspect of the production she can. Actually making things worse for the hapless Marilyn. And this is a true story, too.

IRL as he does in the film, Olivier REPLACES Leigh in the “Showgirl” role for the movie with Marilyn, hoping that she would renew him “make him feel young,” but instead Marilyn’s constant latenesses to the set and difficulty with Olivier in nearly every aspect of making this troubled , true Hollywood story , is making him feel very, very old. And draining him of every ounce of vitality he hoped he would have making this , his dream project of a movie.

And this is all true, and the fact that it is will resonate heavily with the Academy and Michelle Williams’ magnificent performance just breaks your heart, in ways that you wouldn’t think a film like this, a Hollywood biopic, could. It really is a profound story that goes beyond everything you might expect. And it’s a love story, too.

Williams and director Curtis take you SLOWLY inside Marilyn’s torment and insecurity. At the start of the film she is singing(and Williams uses her own voice to sing) one of her signature songs and we see Eddie Redmayne’s character of the Young Boy that is Colin Clark, watching her with a huge, freckled-faced smile,looking up adoringly at her in a darkened 1950s British movie house.

Then we see Clark, and his upper class family, who is shocked, SHOCKED that he wants to get a job at all, and in MOVIES. No less, and we see him worm his way into Shepperton Studios and become the third assistant director on “The Prince and the Showgirl.” This starts the movie.

Olivier is portrayed as a martinet, to say the least. And he is trying to find a way to work with Marilyn, who has no training whatsoever, but who as just discovered and embraced Method Acting and the Actor’s Studio in New York, hence her connection with Paula Strasberg, who ran it with her husband the legendary Lee Strasberg.

And the film is all about great acting, and great actors and how Olivier and Monroe are both united in their desire to do great work, but separated by the ocean of cultural differences and acting techniques.

And Olivier in the end admits that Monroe “had the greatest of instincts but no training whatsoever” and the film says that he is a great stage actor trying to be a film star and that Monroe was a great movie star trying to be a great actress. And clashes ensue.

Situated between her just-married status to playwright Arthur Miller, and before her greatest success of all time in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot”, the film’s screenplay by Adrian Hodges is witty, insightful, and doesn’t pull its’ punches when it comes time to get to the crux of the matter…Marilyn’s brief, week-long love affair with Colin Clark(Redmayne), and the heartbreak Arthur Miller AND Colin Clark are in for with Marilyn.

And Michelle Williams goes beyond herself. In the role of her career, she totally rises to the occasion and does the best work she’s ever done, in a role that on paper at least may seem impossible to play. But play it she does! She gave me goose bumps. Chills. She made me cry. In fact, she did everything that a great actress is supposed to do in a great role.

And I can’t help but feel that Marilyn herself would LOVE this intrepretation of her oft-told story.

And the Academy? Well, this wonderful film should make them all feel as guilty as hell about what happened to Marilyn in her short lifetime. AND she was never nominated for an Oscar, as Michelle Williams will surely be. The pitch perfect Branaugh and wryly hilarious and touching Dame Judi are other very possible nominations here, too, in Supporting. In a wide open category of Supporting Actress, Dench could score again in a part that is longer than the one she won for in “Shakespeare in Love”, Queen Elizabeth I. THAT part was so tiny that maybe Oscar will feel guilty about THAT, too, and Dame Judi could win over Vanessa Redgrave…who is beyond awesome in “Coriolanus.”

And Harvey?

Well, he’s got his hands full of Oscar possibilites this year. With the sure-fire “The Artist” and now this marvelous “Marilyn” and the still unseen Meryl Streep/Margaret Thatcher vehicle “The Iron Lady”, the Weinstein’s Oscar cup is running over this Awards season, which is now ON.

Just look at the Suppporting Actress possiblities he’s got. Dame Judi, Vanessa Redgrave and Berenice Bejos for “The Artist.” Will a non-Weinstein actress even have a chance?

But I do think Michelle Williams is the front-runner now. CLOSE THAT CATEGORY! All the S.W.O.R.M. that make up the Academy, the Straight White Old Rich Men will all vote for her.

This movie is sooo good it’s like a new movie starring Marilyn Monroe herself. And as always the public cannot get enough of her.

“The Envelope, Please!’

TIFF ’11 Lists, Best, Worst, Couldn’t Get In To See, etc.

So, in short form,(I hope) some TIFF lists ~

Best Film – Machine Gun Preacher

Runner-Up- The Artist, Drive, The Skin I Live In, Coriolanus

Best Actor – Gerard Butler in “Machine Gun Preacher”

Runner-ups- Ryan Gosling “Drive,” Ralph Fiennes in “Coriolanus”, Jean Dujardin “The Artist”

Best Actress – Elena Anaya “The Skin I Live In” (Pedro Almodovar’s hot new film)

Runner-Up- Tilda Swinton “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,; Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best Supporting Actor- Gerard Butler “Coriolanus”

Runner-Up – Tom Hiddleston & Simon Russell Beale in “Deep Blue Sea”, that adorable  little dog in “The Artist”

Best Supporting Actress- Vanessa Redgrave “Coriolanus”

Runner-Ups – Marisa Peredes in “The Skin I Live In”, Tammy Blanchard in “Union Square,” Berenice Bejos “The Artist”

Worst TIFF “Rendition”-like Bomb (It died in one TIFF screening) – “A Dangerous Method”

Films I Tried to See, But Couldn’t – “Shame”, “Descendants”, “Albert Nobbs”

Hoping to See Soon – “The Ides of March”

Couldn’t Care Less About Seeing – “Moneyball”

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