a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Best Cinematography’

Indie Spirit Film Award Winners!

Mya Taylor 1The Independent Spirit Awards held yesterday in Santa Monica really broke ground, as well they should, and gave three of its’ four acting awards to Black actors, including pictured above^ transgender actress Mya Taylor for the shot on an iPhone “Tangerine.”

I just saw a very interesting snippet of a segment on the George Stephanopolus Sunday morning show, this week. The speaker said(I missed his name)  “If the Academy had a write-in campaign, Idris Elba would win Best Supporting Actor.” As he just did again last night at the Indie Spirits, as did the adorable child actor Abraham Attah, who won Best Actor for “Beasts of No Nation.”

Attah was a street beggar when he was found in Africa by director Gary Fukanaga. So yes, Elba, Attah and Taylor all won last night in what was surely a protest against #Oscarssowhite that has been blasting the Academy this year.

But back to ABC News, the commentator continued when prompted by Stephanopolus, “Do you think there will be any surprises this year?” and the reporter commented, “There might be something in Supporting Actor.” As I have been predicting. IOW NOT Sylvester Stallone!

If you check back one blog posting here, I predicted this just yesterday!

The ABC News guy didn’t even MENTION Best Actress which last night went to Brie Larson at the Indies. She’s won everything else.

And finally “Carol” won something! The great cinematographer Ed Lachman, who has great difficulty walking, even using a cane, won Best Cinematography was his beautiful work on “Carol.” Using only 16 mm. film, to give it that gauzy 1950’s feel.

And here’s Ed Lachman on my show two years ago at the Provinctown Film Festival

Stay tuned to this blog, because I’ll be live-blogging the Oscars tonight! It’s almost like being there!

National Society of Film Critics Names “Spotlight” Best Film

Spotlight 4The National Society of Film Critics perhaps the most esoteric of the awards-giving critics groups have named “Spotlight” the Best Film of the Year. It also won Best Screenplay. Already way out ahead of every other film this year, “Spotlight” just solidifies its’ lead and is making this year’s Best Picture race seem more like the year “Slumdog Millionaire” trounced everything in its’ path and won every award heading up the ultimate, the Oscars.

Surprisingly, the overlooked Michael P. Jordan won Best Actor for “Creed”.Michael P. Jordon 1

It’s also interesting to note that Geza Rohrig came in second place for “The Son of Saul.” I still think he’s going to get nominated by the Academy for Best Actor. Only Leonardo Di Caprio and Eddie Redmayne are the locks in that category. Anything can happen. Especially with the critical and box-office strength “The Big Short” is showing. Although the National Society didn’t give it anything. Although it came in third for Screenplay behind the winner “Spotlight” and the stop-action animated film by Charlie Kaufman.

Best Actress went to Charlotte Rampling who really needed this boost for “45 Years.”Charlotte Rampling 1 Best Supporting Actress  Kristen Stewart for “The Clouds of Sils Maria.” Second place went to Alicia Vikander for “Ex Machina” solidifying her march to TWO possible nominations as I’ve noted in the previous post.Ex Machina 2 Supporting for “Ex Machina” sexy, manipulative robot Eva and in Lead for “The Danish Girl.” The Awards Coronation of Vikander is well underway.

And Best Supporting Actor is once again Mark Rylance for “The Bridge of Spies” for his comical/sad/shifty Russian spy, who also doubles as a painter. Rylance a four-time Tony Award winner is beginning to be the assumed front-runner for the Steven Spielberg Cold War spy thriller.

Best Director was also surprisingly Todd Haynes for “Carol.” It also won Best Cinematography for the great Ed Lachman beautiful 16 mm. lensing of this Patricia Highsmith lesbian love story.Carol 3

“Son of Saul”s Geza Rohrig Talks Oscar

Son of Saul 3

Unknown Hungarian actor and poet Geza Rohrig has found himself catapulted by the Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner, the excoriating, unforgettable “Son of Saul” into the middle of the Oscar race.
“It’s all very nice,” he says modestly,” But I cannot make these things happen.” But they ARE happening, as Sony Pictures Classics begins to propel “Son of Saul” into all categories including Best Picture, not just Best Foreign Film, and Rohrig into Best Actor.
Part of that propulsion is the unaffected, unassuming Rohrig giving interviews on just that topic and “Son of Saul” in general, in New York’s Sony Building, gayly decorated for Christmas. And guarded like Fort Knox.
The security getting into the upper reaches of the Phillip Johnson designed skyscraper was intense. I had to even show my passport, which they photographed!
But at the top of a winding staircase, festooned with evergreen and red and white Christmas balls sat Geza Rohrig, in a large corporate conference room. He was casually dressed  in a gray T-shirt and jeans, wearing that flattened black cap, he is most often photographed in these days and a several day growth of actor’s stubble. Looking the absolute scruffy antithesis of the corporate Christmas milieu surrounding him.
He seems stunned but pleased and a little overwhelmed by all the awards talk revolving around him.
“But it is very good for the film. I hope it allows more people see it.”
I point out that Hollywood has a recent history, almost a tradition, of awarding previously unknown foreign actors, who give extraordinary performances, with an Oscar. Marion Cotillard with “La Vie En Rose,” Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” and Jean Dujardin in “The Artist.” Last year, Marion Cotillard popped up again in Best Actress for a Belgian film in French “One Day, Two Nights.”
Rohrig smiled when I told him this. It was something I hadn’t seen before. He doesn’t smile much in “Son of Saul.”
There’s no doubt about it. Geza Rohrig has one of the great screen faces. His face, ravaged, sullen, dirty, frightening is front and center in the middle of the screen in a very, very tight close-up for almost every shot in the film. Set in Auschwitz itself, the most notorious and horrifying Nazi death camp of all, we only see what is happening in the edges of the screen.
Except for Rohrig’s astoundingly expressive face, which is IN focus, the periphery is out of focus. It’s as if his character, the Sodocommandant Saul is seeing only what it is necessary for him to see, only what he can glancingly observe, as he is made to do the dirtiest of the Nazi’s dirty work.
At one point, a Nazi commandant complains in German, “We are getting 10,000 more tonight!”
Rohrig estimates that 20,000 Jews were killed per day. “And one in three were Hungarian Jews.”
Rohrig is a Jew himself. He describes himself as “Modern Orthodox,” and Laszlo Nemes, the gifted young Hungarian director is Jewish and this is his first film. Nemes claims it took him a very long time to get “Son of Saul” made.
Says Rohrig, “It was very hard to get the money to make this film. People did not want to give money to the story of a Sodocommandant. It was too controversial. They were the lowest of the low. They were Jews who killed Jews. People did not want to see this. They did not want this story to be told. Sodocommants were just as much victims as the other Jews. They were going to be killed, too. But they were lied to, and told them that this is what they would have to do if they wanted to survive. Of course, every four months they then were killed, too.”
Sodocommandants were the burly, muscular Jews who were kidnapped by the Germans, but saved to do the hard, horrifying labor at the concentration camps, herding the thousands into the gas chambers, locking the doors on the victims, and then taking out the “pieces” as the Nazi described the dead bodies, and putting them in the blazing furnaces.They then had to shovel out the ashes of the dead and dump the ashes in the nearby river.
All of this we see Rohrig’s Saul do, doggedly punched, pushed and pulled literally every step of the way.
But of course, it didn’t save them.
“They were liquidated every four months. I think that we see Saul in his second month there. He is in deep  trauma. He can’t react. He is like a robot.”
It is to Rohrig’s everlasting credit that Saul Auslander (literally Saul the outsider) paints such an indelible portrait of a Sodocommandant, who is still sentient and who is trying desperately to hold on to his sanity as the world around him becomes more and more insane.
He even believes a dying boy from the gas chambers is his son, and goes on a missiion to save the boy’s dead body and give him a proper Jewish burial. He searches the hundreds of daily, new arrivals to see if one of them might be a rabbi.
“He is in hell,” says Rohrig simply.
Rohrig has had a lifetime fascination with Auschwitz. As a young student of 19, at a Hungarian Arts School, he traveled there to see it and then returned to rent a room near Auschwitz and stayed there for a month.
” I went to Auschwitz every day and stayed there all day long. I had to see it. I had to absorb it. It was the end of my childhood. It was the end of my innocence. I learned just what the world was. I saw a pile of children’s shoes…”his voice trailing off. As if unable to explain the impact of the death camp on him as a young man.
It has stayed with him to this day, and it is probably that profound knowledge and the sensibility that drew director Nemes to him for this demanding role of Saul.
Rohrig gives Nemes all the credit. “It is not me. It is him. It is his vision.”
Rohrig read the script and auditioned and was cast in the part, and what changed as they worked on it and tried to raise the money to shoot it, was the radical placement of the camera.
“It was RIGHT HERE,” he says gesturing,”30 inches away from my face. It was THIS close all the time. It was very heavy, all that equipment.It was always following me.”
Nemes’ camerawork captures every glance, every tiny movement of  every muscle in Rohrig’s ravaged face. Sometimes we see it with the back of his head in the shot. Even the back of Rohrig’s head and his hunched hairy shoulders are expressive. And on the back of his dirty clothes is sewn a gigantic yellow Jewish star.
“We have to try to understand how human beings could to this to other human beings. But it is not just the Jews. There are genocides that are happening today. Darfur.Rwanda. It hasn’t changed. I am very pessimistic. There is still evil in the world.”
,
This was the day of the San Bernardino shootings.
“But it is my job, Laszlo and me, to stand up and tell this story over and over and over again. So people don’t forget. But we wanted to tell it differently. From one person’s perspective. It is one day in his life. We just wanted the audience to see what he sees. It is the great thing Laszlo has done with this film. He wanted to put the viewer THERE.”
And Rohrig and Nemes have succeeded mightily. Just that week it won the New York Film Critics Best First Film and the National Board of Review named it the Best Foreign Film. And Oscar is knocking on their door.
“Well, we will see. I go to L.A. soon.(Rohrig currently lives in the Bronx) They should give something to the cinematographer and the sound, too, ” he says perspicaciously. And I agree. For while, you don’t SEE everything, you HEAR it. The sound design and mixing are incredible on “Son of Saul.”
It’s one of the best films of the year. And one of the best holocaust movies every made, and one of the greatest films of all time.

 

Oscar, Oscar, Who’s Got the Oscar(Buzz)? Geza Rohrig, anyone? Don’t laugh! It could happen!

son of saulArmy of OscarsI can’t remember a year when Oscar was so upside down and backwards. And maybe that’s a good thing. Since when has Best Actor been skimpy and Best Actress so jammed?!? I can’t remember when, if ever, this hMatt Damon 1as not happened before. Simply. Something new under the Hollywood sun and how rare is that?

What the Tom Toms are beating is that Michael Fassbender and “Steve Jobs” are currently dying the Oscar death, being yanked mid-run from so many theaters across the country that it’s almost uncountable. Just go and and try to find that movie tonight at a theater near you. Nobody’s going. Where are they? They’re all having a grand ole time at “The Martian” which even in Imax and 3-D is still playing everywhere, and Matt Damon is going to be nominated for Best Actor and director Ridley Scott could win Best Director.

Matt has never won Best Actor, although he did win way back when he was a mere slip of a lad for co-writing the Best Screenplay with best bud Ben Affleck for “Good Will Hunting.”

But Matt has some stiff competition from Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl” which is just about to explode into cinemas as “Steve Jobs” hastily departs. Also Michael Fassbender will NOT campaign. And Matt Damon and Eddie Redmayne are EVERYWHERE. Or soon will be. At every Hwood party and gathering that they can possibly get into, charming everyone, everywhere.Eddieandlilli

And then there’s the darkest of dark horses in one of the Best Films of All Time, never mind this year.It’s Geza Rohrig, the unknown Hungarian actor. who is playing the title role in the just-about-to-be-released masterpiece “The Son of Saul.” Don’t laugh! It COULD happen!

The Academy has a thing about nominating unknown foreigners. Hell, they even sometimes WIN, like Jean DuJardin in “The Artist.” Or Luise Rainer in “The Great Ziegfeld” way back when. It’s an Academy tradition.

I’ve heard that Sony Pictures Classics, who has the magnificent, smart honor of releasing “Son of Saul,” is going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at it, Rohrig, Best Picture and Best Director, too for Laszlo Nemes. It’s his first feature. He’s got a great story to tell, and so do his cinematographer Matyas Erdely and particularly his sound editor and sound mixing team. It was in post-production for something like five years!.

And this is also Rohrig’s first film. He’s a 39-year-old poet, of all things, who lives in Manhattan.

Did I say it’s set in the middle of the Halocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp? Since this incredibly tight close-up is ALWAYS (or almost always) focused on Rohrig’s desperate face, he’s front and center EVERY second of this darkest of dark films. It may be considered the best film ever made on the Holocaust.And Rohrig carries it.

Rohrig’s painful, gut-wrenching performance will be hard for Academy members to ignore. His ravaged. savaged face IS the whole fllm. And since we never see much outside of his peripheral vision, we HEAR it! And it’s blood-curdling. As he, Saul, a Sodocammadant, a Jew, who has to do all the dirty work that no one else will do. He has to herd the Jewish victims to their deaths, slamming the gas chambers doors on them,listening to their screams, then quickly taking all “the pieces” as they call the bodies out, and scrubbing the floors clean so the next group won’t see any of their blood.

It’s going to score in soooo many categories its’ going to make pundits heads spin, who’ve left him, and it, off most of their current lists. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, the Vulcan award for sound design, the Francois Chalais prize, and the Fipresci. How can the Academy ignore these distinctions?

Watch out of “Son of Saul” is all I can say. To ignore it’s profound achievement is to ignore what is going to soon be considered an un-disputed masterpiece.

I’m the Oscar Messenger. I’m telling you the Oscar Message. I’ve read it already and this year it was written in Hungarian and said “Son of Saul”

Timothy Spall Wins Best Actor for “Mr. Turner” from NY Critics!

Timothy Spall 1In a totally surprising move, British actor Timothy Spall has just won Best Actor for “Mr. Turner” at the New York Film Critics Circle!

And I just had the great honor and privilege of interviewing him myself this morning for “The Stephen Holt Show”! I’m thrilled! He’s a great natural story-teller, and we both shared a common Cockney background. He’s a real one. I LIVED in London’s East End for years back in my salad days when I was struggling to be a playwright and an actor, and supporting myself by being a char. (a house-cleaner) No. Really! It’s true. If any one experience in my life made me tough, it was that. Being a house-cleaner in a foreign country for over three years. It was one of the formative phases of my youth.

Other New York Film Critics winners are : Best Cinematography:”The Immigrant” & Best Original Screenplay “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Timothy Spall won Best Actor at Cannes this year. I congratulated him at the start of my interview with him and he said, “Nobody was more surprised than me!”

This historic interview will be on-line shortly.

 

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“12 Years” Triumphs at Indie Spirit Awards w/5 wins!!!

1.Best Picture

2.Best Director ~ Steve McQueen

3.Best Supporting Actress ~ Lupita Nyong’o

4.Best Adapted Screenplay~ John Ridley

5.Best Cinematography ~ Sean Bobbit

I hope it’s like this tomorrow night at the Oscars! For complete list see
http://www.awardsdaily.com

E.T.A. Pardon my mistake. Matthew McConaughey won.:(

Editors Noms minus PGA Noms = Best Picture Oscar Nominees

The A.C.E Nominations for their Eddie Awards were announced yesterday. Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.Awardsdaily.com has always maintained the nominations for Best Film Editing are more important than basically every other nominations when it comes to predicting and of course eventually winning, Best Picture at the Oscars.

This year I’ve tried to do a little adding and subtracting of my own here. Using the Producer’s Guild nominations of the Year’s Ten Best and minusing the A.C.E. Eddie nominees from them.

That leaves us with “American Hustle”, “Captain Phillips”, “Gravity”, “Her”, “Nebraska”, “Saving Mr. Banks”, “12 Years a Slave”, and “Wolf of Wall Street”. I think we can now safely assume that these eight films will equal this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees.

So which Guild is stronger for the remaining “outliers” if you want to call them that. From the Eddie list, it’s “August:Osage County” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” finally turning up SOMEwhere in Guild land with Roderick Jaynes, who is the nom des plumes of both the Coen Brothers. Just FYI, the Academy’s Editing Branch doesn’t like the flim-flannery of this fictitious editor.

And the two films that got the PGA nods, but not the editors were, “Blue Jasmine” and surprisingly “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”

The Academy allows for at least five, and no more than ten nominees, which the Producer’s Guild goes for ten.

Of the remaining four films “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Dallas Buyer’s Club”, “August: Osage County” and “Blue Jasmine” remain in Oscar Purgatory. With my guessing “Llewyn” and “Dallas” having better shots than the other two films.

The Coens have a dedicated fan base in the Academy, and despite “Llewyn”s lact of support in the other guilds, I can see it getting nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Bruno DelBonnell) who was just awarded for his de-saturated, wintry work by the New York Film Critics, and maybe Best Sound and Best Sound Editing, along with Best Editing(the aforementioned Roderick Jaynes) and possibly even Best Directing, too. As well as Best Picture. Never mind the musical categories…That’s actually a VERY big haul for this Little Film That Could. Only the over-crowded Best Actor field I think it’s reasonable to assume will leave the brilliant Oscar Isaac out. Though wouldn’t it be wonderful if he got in?

Where this truly leaves me scratching my head is the Big Fat Fact that means both “Her” and “Saving Mr. Banks” get in for sure for Best Picture…grrr…

And shockingly no “Philomena” ANYwhere!

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