a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Best Cinematography’

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!

“Llewyn Davis” SWEEPS Nat’l Soc.of Film Critics! Oscar Isaac Best Actor!

After feeling really terrible for the past two days about “Inside Llewyn Davis”s being shut out of the PGA and the DGA, things have suddenly perked up with ILD winning FOUR count’em FOUR National Society of Film Critics Awards! Best Film, Oscar Isaac Best Actor, and the Coens Bros. for  directing. Also M Bruno.Delbonnel the super superb cinematographer won  for making Greenwich Village looked like I remembered it as a kid. New and clean and dreamy.

This is a wonderful honor for Oscar who, if you haven’t listened to my interview with him which is posted below, has FOUR films opening next year. Imean, this year.Maybe more.

And part of me wonders if this was just in reaction to the shut-outs of the WGA and PGA.  Like “Argo” last year. But the ballots would all have had to be in before the WGA and the PGA announced, right?

In any case, Cate Blanchett AGAIN won Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine”so there’s now no stopping her and of all people, James Franco won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Alien in “Spring Breakers” and Jennifer Lawrence pops up again in Best Supporting Actress for “American Hustle.” They are soooo lucky she was in that movie! I found it unwatchable except for her.

The bad news is that “12 Years a Slave” placed third in Best Picture. Behind “Llewyn” and “American Hustle:(ugh) and the same for Chiwetel Ejiofor for Best Actor and Lupita Nyong’O for Best Supp. Actress. They just missed out and both came in second. This makes me sad.

But the good news is that the National Society of Film Critics is NOT a well-known predictor for the Oscars. NOT.AT.ALL. Considered the most intellectual of all the critics’ groups that vote on the Oscars, we have to keep repeating “There are no film critics in the Academy”. At least 200 times.

Anne Thompson of http://www.indiewire.com calls it “A Last Ditch Effort to Save the Coens”! You can read the complete list of winners and where they placed, including their voting tallies there.

So take it for what you will. But it’s not the end of the story and this race is CLOSE!

I think this helps “Llewyn” get into Best Picture and Dulbonnel, too. He also won the New York Film Critics for Best Cinematography. Could help the Coens into the Best Director race. And for sure the Best Original Screenplay category. But THE FIVE are so locked for Best Actor, I don’t know if this means that Oscar has a chance. I hope he does.

Go Oscar! Isaac, I mean…

Oscar Voting Closes ~ Sasha Stone Says 9 Out of 10 for “The Artist”!

So as of yesterday, the Oscar Voting for the Best of 2011, closed at 5pm PST. Now what happens? Well, we all just sort of COUNT THE HOURS til Sunday night’s BIG SHOW. And try to figure out what went wrong, or right, depending. Me, I’m just over-the-moon delighted with how incredible an Oscar response the beautiful French bon-bon received. “The Artist” is poised, thinks Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone, who lives and breathes this stuff even more than I do, she thinks “The Artist” is going to take home NINE out of its’ ten nominations!

That would be divine, as far as I’m concerned. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Score, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Costumes is what I thought would happen. And then Scott Feinberg, STILL the only Oscarologist who’s linked to this site.Thank you, Scott.

Scott ALSO predicted the same number 7, and he even wrote a comment on the previous blog post here, saying so. And no, I didn’t read Scott’s “The Hollywood Reporter” til AFTER I had written and posted mine. And I was kind of shocked that we agreed so completely.

This after last year’s Melissa Leo debacle.

Well, you can look that one up for yourselves. But every time I mentioned the words “Melissa Leo” last year, the hits SOARED! This year, not so much. But any way, Scott and I are now copacetic this Oscar year. And so much so we were predicting the same seven wins for “The Artist!” INCROYABLE! Scott’s at www.thehollywoodreporter.com

Then Sasha said “Nine” at www.awardsdaily.com and I nearly fainted! But she who knows all,(She lives in Hwood, too, so she’s right in the middle of it) thought that additionally Michel Hazanaviscius would trounce Woody Allen for Best Original Screenplay!!!! And she hasn’t been the only one saying that lately.

And that “The Artist”s production designer, who had to work in Black and White, mind you, only, that he would win over Dante Ferretti’s 3D and color work on “Hugo.”

Well, who am I to  disagree with Sasha at a final moment of the season like this?

I’m just over-the-moon about Jean Dujardin’s pulling ahead of G. Clooney with the SAG and BAFTA wins for Best Actor!

The only hold-out for George still seems to be Anne Thompson, who is parsing the possibilities over at www.indiewire.com Anne says that it’s the only interesting race left. The Jean v. George smack-down. Speaking of Tom O’Neill’s favorite word “smack-down, over at www.goldderby.com he has one of his editors Aussie Matt Noble do a very funny video about George Clooney being told that he wasn’t going to win Best Actor. Check it out. It’s hilariously done.  And yes, as Tom states, George will never forgive Matt Noble for this. But the voting’s closed. So it can’t influence voters one way or the other.

That was all done three weeks ago or more when the nominations went out.

And evidently they FLOODED back in, so says Pete Hammond at www.deadline.com

which I have been mistyped as www.deadlinehollywood.com all season. Sorry Pete. Sorry Nikki(Finke). But I’m sure you avid Oscar readers have been all over Pete Hammond’s great pieces all season long. And it IS a season. From Toronto til now, it just doesn’t stop.

And to think that Harvey Weinstein could be TRIUMPHING for a second year in a row, it’s just mind-boggling! Where would “The Artist” be without his excellent producing skills? And his drive? And his uncanny ability to read the Academy voters and play them like violins.

Although I must say, when I saw “The Artist” I DID think “The Academy is going to LOVE this! It’s all about THEM!”

But without Harvey “The Artist” would just be a small tres charmant French film, playing the Festivals and the art house circuit and not the PHENOMENON he turned it into! Bravo! Once again, all of Hollywood owes you bigtime for making the Oscars so exciting again!

And Jean! As I told Jean and Berenice Bejo when I interviewed them back in November in NYC at “The Artist”s press junket, they were going to become VERY famous in America and that they would win the Oscars! And once again, the Oscar Messenger’s message came true. Just like I told Colin Firth and Tom Hooper of “The King’s Speech” their great Oscar news a year ago last September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

You can see me telling them the good news if you search for Jean DuJardin -Stephen Holt show on You Tube. Or just go to my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and search for it there. It’s gone viral with over 45,000 hits at this point. Ditto Colin Firth from last year who is now up to 92,ooo hits!

And TWC also sent me over the moon with two terrific satellite interviews with Penelope Ann Miller and James Cromwell, also of “The Artist.” They played George Valentin’s neglected, unhappy wife and his loyal Butler/Chauffeur respectively.

And Best Actress???? Well, that’s another topic ENTIRELY! I’ll get into that next!

Woody Allen’s Masterpiece “Midnight in Paris” Sublime! Sublime! Sublime!

I cannot remember dear cineastes, dear readers, dear theater lovers of literature, when I have been so completely, so  madly, so deliciously transported by a new film. And that film is the much hyped Cannes opener “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, 77 and now at the absolute height of his immense creative powers. “Midnight in Paris” left me gasping with delight. It’s his latest masterpiece and may simply be the best film he’s ever made.

It’s so delicious, so delightful, so funny, so superbly acted, and brilliantly written and directed. It’s the first film that I’ve seen since “The King’s Speech” that transports you to an absolute height of cinematic euphoria. And Oscar’s gonna go there, too.

I am so sure that the little Golden Guy is going to be happily boarding that magic carpet ride in the form of a 1920’s roadster that whisks our hapless hero, a frustrated screenwriter and Woody stand-in(natch), Owen Wilson, who turns out to be at the height of HIS career as an actor,  in this film, too. Oscar will clamour aboard that flying flivver and happily take it right to the Kodak Pavillion next February, which is where this film is surely going to end up.

With nominations galore. A comedy winning anything from the Academy is always going to be a fight.

However, the Academy has always loved Woody and they’re going to REALLLLY love “Midnight in Paris”. Woody is such Oscar catnip, it’s almost ridiculous.Oscar considers Woody in a class by himself, so many of his films have been nominated and won! Well, no, that’s not true. I think the only time he won Best Picture was for “Annie Hall” decades ago.

But his actors have continued to wrack up Oscar after Oscar, most notably and most recently Penelope Cruz, in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” which this film resembles. “Midnight in Paris” is shot entirely and beautifully in Paris in the daytime and at night, and France and specifically Paris has seemed to have had the same wondrous effect on Allen’s creativity that Barcelona and Spain did with “Vicky Cristina”

“Midnight in Paris” is just suffused with the golden glow of romance that is true love  (in this case, the love of France and all things French) that is so palpable, it seems like it was shot through a lens covered with honey. And written in a Proustian fever dream. But a reverie only of all things light and sweet.

It’s such a charming  love poem to the City of Lights, it’s irresistible. It sends you into a Rapture.

And what a cast! And How many Oscar winners are there in this one film! ? It’s like the word went out and Allen got the dream cast of his career!

Oscar winner Marion Cotillard has never been lovelier or sexier or more captivating. She plays the love object, the muse of Picasso, Modigliani and nearly every other artist of the past two hundred years, and Mlle. Cotillard, so so sensual and intriguing,completely vulnerable, effortlessly enchanting, but so mysterious, you can see that, yes, she could easily have inspired all these great artists that the film claims she has.

Her incredible character named Adriana is one of Allen’s greatest creations. And in writing a love poem to Paris, he’s embodied that romance in one woman, Adrianna, and Cotillard is so delightful, and endearing and sublime, you just can’t wait til her character comes back onscreen and into the story once again.

It’s one of the most challenging roles that Allen has ever written for a woman and the most complex, and Cotillard meets every challenge stupendously. She has to, for the romance of the film to work. She is Paris. Paris is love. So therefore the glowing Cotillard is Paris personified.

She is WOMAN. All the women who have inspired the greatest of artists, and Cotillard shows you quite simply and quite beautifully that yes, she is all that. She’s certainly inspired Allen to heights he’s never really hit before. A great film maker meets the great screen actress in the best role he’s ever written for a woman. Will Oscar take note? I think so. I hope so.

You come out of the film raving about Cotillard as if she were the essence of all the best in French art and culture, and in this film, she is!

Her only petite problem is that she’s won so recently for “La Vie En Rose” playing an indelible Edith Piaf.

Acting in her own language, it seemed impossible that she, an unknown French actress, would win the Oscar for Best Actress. But I predicted she would. Could her Adriana do the magic hat trick of another win? Depends upon whom she’s up against, but I would be shocked if she wasn’t in the running, dismissed as simply a great beauty playing a great beauty.

Wilson, too.

Owen Wilson is so good in this film that you can’t believe it’s Owen Wilson.

But he is and he’s just terrific, and perfectly cast as a WASP neurotic from Pasadena. Wilson’s West Coast-ness takes away any of the memories of the many previous iterations Allen has wrung upon the character of the hung-up writer. This time a dissatisfied, but commercially successful screenwriter, with an even blonder fiancee, who’s a bit of an hysterical bitch, played by of all people, Rachel MacAdams, also at the top of HER game. She, too, is a revelation.

Oh, and did I forget to mention how funny all these characters are? And yes, they are. Very, very funny. You’ll be quoting the laugh lines for the rest of the season.

Academy Award Winner Adrian Brody does this best work since “The Pianist” as of all people Salvatore Dali! In a very brief cameo, he keeps repeating. “Dali! I’m Dali!” and when Wilson’s Gil explains his time-traveling problems, Brody as Dali quips, “It’s perfectly normal. You are from another century, yet you live in this century.” And Luis Bunuel, who’s sitting with them, mais oui, says to Dali, “Of course you think it’s normal, you’re a Surrealist!”

And Marion’s Adrianna is restless, perpetually bored with Paris in the 1920’s. “There are too many Americans here!” or exasperated with Pablo, “Picasso is impossible! He will never have a successful relationship with a woman!”

Hallucinating Wilson keeps having his big blue eyes popping out of his head, like some great silent screen comedian, as he channels, Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, Harold Lloyd…amazingly…yes, it’s the VERY unlikely Owen Wilson, making us laugh and moving us so magically. He’s playing straight man as it were to Cotillard’s muse, MacAdams’ bitchy fiancee and a supporting cast of unparalleled splendor.

Main among them, as I’ve noted in a previous post, newcomer Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, who just about walks off with the film, and probably an Oscar nomination. And so to may Kathy Bates as a marvelously sensible, warm-hearted Gertrude Stein. “Our house is open to every artist! All are welcome here!” she intones with such bonhommie, you want to move right in to 23 Rue de Fleurus and never leave, which clearly Allen wants to do.

Who but Woody Allen would make Gertrude Stein the most reasonable and warm center of a filmic masterpiece. Which is what “Midnight in Paris” is.

I see Nominations for Best Picture. In a field of ten, a sure bet. Best Director, possibly, for Allen. FOR SURE a Best Original Screenplay and this is it’s almost sure WIN. Yes, I’m saying it now.

They’ll nominate the living daylights out of this magnificent cinematic achievement. Starting with Darius Khondji’s marvelously seductive, luminous cinemtography of the City of Lights, the stunning production design by Annie Seibel that is literally out of this world (and several others) and the sumptuous costumes by Sonia Grande, who makes Mlle. Cotillard comme il faut tous le temps, but it’s the hilarious, moving, beautifully written screenplay that really does leave you gasping with astonishment and delight. Woody Allen redeems himself mightily in “Midnight in Paris” and the many, many Oscars it will get nominated for, this astoundingly simple, but complicated and FUNNY screenplay is the most likely place it will be rewarded.

Also both Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard might be nominated for Best Actor and Actress. It depends on who they are up against. And if they are not dismissed ~ for being in a comedy.

And as I said previously the one with the most buzz out of  the Cannes Film Festival, which it opened, was Corey Stall as Hemingway. That would be in Supporting. And previous Oscar winner Kathy Bates could score ANOTHER Supp. Actress nomination for her lovable lesbian Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude Stein, lovable? Only in Woody Allen’s wild world!

Mesdames and monsieurs, les envelopes, s’il vous plait!

I Finally See “True Grit” A Wordy Woodpecker of a Western

Well, I guess Paramount did hear my blog screams and they sent me quite unexpectedly a DVD screener of “True Grit.” FINALLY!

“True Grit” is the latest oeuvre from the redoubtable Coen Brothers, and it’s…Ok…sort of…I mean, it’s good. Although some parts of it strain credulity. Especially the overwrought, arch script, which Jeff Bridges manages quite, quite well. And Matt Damon, too. But poor 13-year-old newcomer Hailee Stanfield has the most demanding role, verbally, that perhaps has ever been written for a tween actress.

It is to her credit that she ALMOST pulls it off. But I was always aware that it was DIALOGUE being written and spoken, and not the character’s own voice speaking.

Her child/woman dichotomy is also, paradoxically, the most unusual part of this western. Yes, the Coen’s are doing a Western. A real traditional attempt at the genre in the classic John Ford manner. And Roger Deakins’ masterful cinematography is up the task at hand. And so is Bridges. But Ms. Stanfield…well, I’m of two minds about her “performance.”

Either it’s one of the most impressive screen debuts of an ingenue ever in a very challenging role that has already netted her a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actress, though she is ostensibly the lead. OR it’s a career ender. It’s the beginning AND the end for her. Which one is it?

Like her or not, and I’m not totally sure that I do, you can’t get away from her in this film that is mostly, as the British would say, a  three-hander. That is a three person play. And again, the script does seem overly theatrical, for a Western. The three hands being Bridges, Matt Damon and Ms. Stanfield.

We’ve never seen or heard any Oater where people talked in such highfalutin rhetorical terms. Sheesh! They could’ve almost been in a Restoration Comedy some scenes are soooo over-written. Especially at the beginning of the film. Which is very slow getting started and a lot of that is due to the clusters of almost unspeakable, and certainly almost unpronounceable verbiage  the  Coens have saddled their three leading actors with. Or in Ms. Stanfield’s case, crippled with. I know we’re supposed to believe that SHE has “True Grit.” But talk about overkill!

With the surprise SAG nomination for Stanfield, her fellow actors are obviously Haillee-ing her arrival, big time. You do feel sorry for her in that she has scene after scene after scene where her voice is Woody Woodpeckering the screen, with its’ rat-a-tat ryhmns. And you feel like I always felt like with Woody Woodpecker that I need to watch his cartoons like a need a hole in the head.

Let’s face it, the Coens are not known for their work with child actors.

But they have to take pains at the beginning of the film, to established her hard-headed, stubborn as a mule character, so that we believe and care about her all the way through the film. It’s her journey. And the coda at the end of the film, which I won’t give a away as it’s a semi-spoiler, but the film visual images are striking. And rather unforgettable.

And then there is the unvarnished delight of Roger Deakins’ breath-taking scenic vistas of the wild west. Between this film and “Meek’s Cut-Off” I feel like I’ve actually BEEN there and back this filmic fall season.

Matt Damon is very funny as a Texas Ranger named Le Bouef, but which they all pronounce “Le Beef” as in meathead. He’s the comic relief. And Bridges’ scenes with Mr. LeBeef are just terrific stuff.

I don’t know WHAT the John Wayne version of this was like. I’m sure this is a thousand times better and Rooster Cogburn won Wayne his only Oscar and it is to Bridges’ everlasting credit that he really does excel in this part, as well.

It’s sooo close to his Oscar-winning turn as Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” A has-been boozing singer v. this time a has-been boozing gunman. That Bridges’ makes the Coens stick-in-the-mouth dialogue that HE has to say look and sound effortless as a horses’ snorting. Well, that’s the sign of a consummate actor at the top his craft.

Is it almost tongue-twistingly unprounceable? Well, Bridges attacks each line like his eating a mouthful of steak. Chewing the scenery has never been such a sumptuous meal. And if Oscar remembers “True Grit” for anything, it’s bound to be Bridge’s excellent crowing Rooster of a performance.

If SAG, the Screen Actor’s Guild, hadn’t voted l’il Miss Woodpecker a Supporting Actress nomination, I would say she didn’t have a chance. She knocked out Jackie Weaver of the dreadful Australian “thriller” “Animal Kingdom.” But since the 2ooo plus members of the SAG nominating committee hadn’t included her, I would say she didn’t have a chance in hell of getting in. She’s no Sairose (sp?) Ronan.

But they do like nominating under-age actresses, esp. in this category and especially lately. Think Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine.” as well as the aforementioned Ronan.

I think Roger Deakins’ superb cinematography is the strongest  award element here as well as Jeff Bridges stellar performance. Deakins could actually win in this category and I’m also sure that “True Grit” as mixed as my reactions were to it, is going to be nominated for one of the Ten Best Picture slots.

No, though, to Best Director chances of the Coens, for this Western mishmash. But if they can get nominated for “A Serious Man” last year, then they could get nominated for this — in a field of Ten, sure. Why not?

Hollywood, unbelievably, has come to love the Coens. But you can’t help compare this too well-spoken Western to their other trip West which was “No Country for Old Men.” Now, THAT was a masterpiece and won the Oscar…But “True Grit” is not NCFOM. Not by a mile there, pard’ner.

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