a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Best Foreign Film’

Viola Davis Wins Best Supp. Actress, Gets Another Standing O

viola-at-oscarsViola Davis, the most expected and predicted winner of the night Best Supporting Actress for “Fences.” In a beautiful red off-the-shoulder gown with a train, she looked like she was really levitating as she give one of the greatest speeches she has ever given. Again. She always gives great speeches. viola-davis-fences-1

Kimmel joked “She just won an Emmy for that speech.” She is a great, great actress, one of the greatest on this planet. I’m in awe of her. And she’s from Rhode Island, which is where my mother was from.

This was her third nomination. She’s the first woman of color in history to have three nominations.  She should’ve been in the lead category. I wish she hadn’t switched. It was her choice, they say. I think she would’ve won whatever category she was placed in.

“The Salesman” wins Best Foreign Film for Ashghar Farhadi. A woman accepting for the absent filmmaker, who is Iranian, who was not present, protesting the recent travel ban on people from his country.

Sting sings one of his songs, this one “The Empty Chair” for the documentary on the slain journalist James Foley. Very short, but touching. Very political evening.

And it’s important to note that for the first time two African-Americans have won both Best Supporting Acting Awards in the history of the Academy and it’s about time, too, isn’t it?

“Zootopia” wins Best Animated film. There’s been no surprises tonight, unless you want to say that Mahershala Ali was a surprise. Although just about everyone else predicted him.

“La La Land” FINALLY wins something its been nominated for Production Design.la-la-land-seine

Final Oscar Predictions!

OscarsHere it is folks, my final Oscar predictions of the season 2015-2016, though Oscars are usually designated by the year they are handed out in so it’s 2016, barely two months old…

It’s Leo for Best Actor for “The Revenant.” Brie Larson for Best Actress of “Room.” And my fave Alicia Vikander is going to triumph in Supporting for my beloved “The Danish Girl.” Sorry, Kate Winslet. Everytime you go up against the lovely Alicia for “The Danish Girl” you lose. But you already have an Oscar. For “The Reader.”aLICIA vIKANDER1And I think it’s going to be “Spotlight.” for Best Picture. I’m going up against “The Revenant” because of the preferential ballot. “The Revenant” is going to win Best Director for Alejandro  Gonzalez  Inarritu and Best Cinematography for “Chivo” Lubezki and as I said, Leonardo will finally win an Oscar (he’s never won, although this is his fifth nomination). This VERY divisive, violent LONNNNNG film WILL get a lot of Oscars. But it’s not going to be so impressive watching it on a DVD, which how much of the Academy voters will be seeing it for the first time. Whereas “Spotlight” will gain.

And sadly, I’ll have to go with the crowd that thinks Sylvester Stallone deserves an Oscar for mumbling his way through “Creed.”

Best Animated Film will be “Inside Out.” Best Foreign Film will be “The Son of Saul.” “Spotlight” will win one Oscar for sure for Best Original Screenplay and “The Big Short” will win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Should something happen early in the night, like Mark Ruffalo winning Best Supporting Actor for “Spotlight.” I’d just love that. And it would tell us that “Spotlight” may indeed win best Best Picture, too.

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NY Film Critics Now Voting~ J.K. Simmons & Patricia Arquette Win!

Boyhood 1JK SimmonsAs I type this, the New York Film Critics Circle are announcing their winners. They are the first major awards body to do this. Tomorrow, it’s the National Board of Review.

They’re moving pretty fast. That means they’re in agreement. They vote in rounds. So I think that means that the following five awards were pretty much voted unanimously.

They are: “Lego Movie” Best Animated Film

Best Foreign Film: “Ida”

Best Documentary/Non-fiction film: “Citizen Four”

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette “Boyhood”

We may be in for a very boring Awards season in those two categories I feel. Since Simmons and Arquette may now go on to win EVERYTHING on the LONNNNG road to the Oscars in February.

More soon as the other winners are announced.

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“20 Feet From Stardom” wins Best Doc for Weinstein Co.

Darlene Love belts out a spiritual when “20 Feet From Stardom” wins as expected Best Doc.
I saw it. I loved it. This is the first win tonight for the Weinstein Co. who usually dominate the Oscars. But not this year. I didn’t see Judi Dench. Is she there?

I guess she was giving it all up to Cate. Cate Blanchett, whose dress looked a little disappointing on my TV screen. It looked a little too much. Floor-length gown, but I’m sure it’ll look great in pictures.

Another boring montage…Or was that a commercial? There are a lot of commercials. As usual. Everything has been a little as usual.

Darlene Love’s vocal bust out was slightly off-key and shrill, but at least it was spontaneous…no musical accompanimnt.

Have to say that my fave Anne Hathaway looked great at the beginning giving Jared Leto his Oscar. She looked relaxed.

As expected Italy wins for “The Great Beauty”

Tyler Perry tripping over his pronunciation of the introduction to another triple-header, “Nebraska”, “Her” and “Gravity.”

Ellen comes out in a white man’s suit…Introducing Brad Pitt, For what? Oh! It’s U2 performing “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom”, which I saw and liked. Idris Elba and Noemie Harris should both have been nominated. Harvey Weinstein,what were you doing with this one?

I don’t remember this song from the movie. Must’ve played over the end titles…. Karen O earlier singing “The Moon Song” from was as forgettable as it was in “Her.” This is better than all the songs in “Spiderman”. It gets a standing ovation! First surprise of this unsurprising night! At last!

Oscar Winner “A Separation” Out on Blu-Ray& DVD Aug.21!

“A Separation” the incredibly powerful Iranian winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Film deserves all the awards that were thrown its’ way this past year. And its’ brilliant director Ashgar Farhadi was named One the Year’s 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine, and it plays RRRREALLLY well on DVD, and now it’s coming out on Aug. 21 on Blu-Ray AND DVD.  It’s essential viewing. It’s not to be missed.

The subject, as the title says, is a divorce. Or what starts out really as a trial separation between a secular, middle-class couple soon escalates into something much bigger, a tragedy that is universal as well as thoroughly specific to its’ locale, which is modern-day Iran.

It is simple in the extreme, shot entirely on one camera, as unbelievable as that sounds. And the Special Features feature a commentary with the director/writer which is insightful as well as informative, and enhances the riveting experience of “A Separation” in ways I never expected it to.

Farhadi, for all his talent, has a very monotonal delivery, and I fell asleep at least several times trying to get through the dense translation. And although one of the striking things about the movie is its’ seeming refusal to take sides between the husband Nader(Peyman Mjadi) and his beautiful, Ava Garner-esque, Western-looking wife, Simin, a real screen beauty Leila Hatami, in the director’s commentary Farhadi is clearly blaming the woman in this situation and siding firmly with the hard-working suddenly single father of a teenage daughter, who his commentary reveals to be the character closest to his heart. Although his real life daughter Sarina Farhadi is playing the daughter in question here, her semi-flat portrayal hinders the film from really siding with her in this domestic conflict, that is unraveling her life, as well as that of her parents.

Termah(as enacted by Sarina Farhadi) is kind of a teenaged lump, barely reacting to her explosive family situation. I wonder if that was intentional.,or accidental. That she is supposed to be so numbed and unresponsive for a reason. The world that she suddenly finds herself in, following her mother’s exit from her life, is frightening and paralyzing in the extreme. But Termah is just non-reactive.

To make it worse, her father is taking care of HIS Alzheimer-ridden father in their own home. And he is a devoted son.  So when Simin exits, he hires a maid who turns out to be pregnant, and also an extremely religious, working class woman, brilliantly played by Sareh Byant, who is the real emotional core of this complex family drama. She is accused pretty quickly of stealing, and a miscarriage and a vituperative court case result, locking the two families from two different classes in a war that could turn violent and deadly at any minute.

The court, that all these fiery issues are disputed in is also a shocker, a bare, sweaty room, roiling, teaming with life, simple chairs and no lawyers present. Or juries, or court rooms, as we know it,as the two families have at each other in a savage, unrelenting fashion. You don’t want to see this. You don’t want to be involved. But Farhadi’s skill as a filmmaker, draws you in and you can’t look away.

Farhadi, who has a theater background, we find out in the illuminating Special features, brings the drama of a very skilled playwright to bear in this gut-wrenching movie. And of course, it’s an intimate view into a world we, here in the West, never see. Women in chandors. A religion that does not permit a man to touch a woman unless they are married. Women who must keep their hair covered at all times, it’s shocking but enlightening, in that it’s a world we should know more about, but don’t. And the most shocking thing is how familiar it all seems. We are all one, Farhadi is saying.

Time Magazine noted in its’ estimation of Farhadi’s great work, that he, in the illuminating, persuasive way “A Separation” has engaged audiences internationally, is really a great ambassador for World Peace.

Its’ use of intense close-ups and two or three person scenes in cramped stiflying locations just compells and educates at the same time, and on a DVD viewing, all this is enhanced, not diminished. I’ve watched “A Separation” twice now, and want to watch it again. It just grows and grows in your mind. I’ll tell you one thing, you’ll never forget it.

Oscar Gets “Amour”

Well, this certainly is news! Austria has decided that “Amour” is going to be its’ official submission to the Best Foreign Film race this coming Oscar season. Since it’s by a German director, who I LOVE, Michael Haneke, and maybe it’s German-Austrian financed although the two octogenarian leads,  who are winning raves, act in French, this makes “Amour” kosher. And definitely eligible for a Best Foreign Film nomination and perhaps win.

This is despite Jeffrey Wells at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com not liking a whole hell of a lot.

And to top that off Sony Pictures Classics is deciding to open it in Dec. RIGHT in the heat of the Oscar season. I know, I know. It’s freezing in New York at that time of year, and this is hardly your Christmas-y picture. But SPC, as I’ll now call them, are throwing down the Oscar gauntlet(is that a mixed metaphor?) going full court press with this one.

Although Michael Haneke only gives interviews in German, and the two stars are yes-for-real are in their 80s. But have Oscar buzz will travel. So we’ll be seeing them, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva stateside around the holidays. Or at least I will be seeing them, I hope, in their press tour.

I love SPC’s taste in movies. Last year,  they had “Midnight in Paris” and while it got a bunch of nominations in many categories and won in Best Original Screenplay, they did not move any of the many wonderful performers in that movie from the sidelines to center stage. Like for instance, Corey Stoll as Hemingway, Marion Cotillard as the Muse of many centuries and Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein. Not to mention Owen Wilson’s, astonishing lead performance and Rachel McAdams as his blonde bitch of a fiancée.

Although Owen did get a Golden Globe nomination in the Musical or Comedy category, he lost out to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” And who could’ve stopped THAT express train once it left the station???

I can’t stand Wes Anderson movies, so I only go to them, if dragged so I haven’t seen “Moonrise Kingdom” yet. But I guess I’ll have to at some point. I hate when straight men try to do camp. Which is basically what his great “Style” is. Stolen from the Homosexual Handbook. I ought to know. I helped write it back in The Day.

And tomorrow I’m actually going to see “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  I’ll let you know if I think all the who-ha at Sundance and Cannes was justified.

“The Artist” Jean Dujardin & Hazanaviscius win London Film Critics!

Well, the accolades just keep piling up for “The Artist”! The London Film Critics Circle(not to be confused with BAFTA!) just named “The Artist” as Best Picture of the Year and Best Actor Jean Dujardin for “The Artist.” Michel Hazanviscius was named Best Director and Meryl Streep tied with Anne Paquin of the barely distributed “Margaret” for Best Actress!

Kenneth Branagh won Best Supporting Actor for “My Week with Marilyn” and Sareh Bayat of “A Separation” won Best Supporting Actress for the Iranian Film “A Separation” which keeps piling up the kudos.

Now THAT would be a real surprise and a possible game changer if Bayat ended up in Best Supporting, out of nowhere, but in an acclaimed film, which is probably going to win “Best Foreign Film” like it did at the Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics.

You can read all about it at www.indiewire.com

And that one more BIG Best Actor Award for the charming Dujardin. Could this pre-sage his winning BAFTA, too? Stay tuned!

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