a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Best Screenplay’

Oscars at the Moment, Before the Election

jackie-1Oscars in early November. Things are getting clearer. Could the National Election itself have an impact on Oscar? We’ll see, but now, if it did, it would be the political movie of the year “Jackie” that gets carried forward. It’s a reminder of how decent and moral the people running the country were in the time of Camelot. The Kennedy Years seem light years away from the partisan horror of this current chilly November moment.

“Jackie” has the gravitas that “La La Land” simply does not. And they’re hiding “La La Land” from the East Coast critics. I STILL haven’t seen it. There’s been no big deal press screenings scheduled. Is it because they think the New York establishment isn’t going to like a musical film, a love story, yet, that glorifies LOS ANGELES? I can think of no other reason for “La La Land”s distributors holding it back like this. It wasn’t at the NYFF, if that means anything. But I do think it’s a little suspicious.

Certainly the curators of the NYFF COULD have chosen it to play if they wanted to. There was certainly room. And I’ve heard that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling can’t sing. Or can’t sing well enough to carry a movie musical.la-la-land-1 I hope of course that they can, and I look forward to, musical comedy queen that I am, to enjoying its’ delights immensely. viola-davis-fences-1Also still unseen is “Fences” the late August Wilson’s adaptation of his own screenplay with Denzel Washington directing himself  in his Tony-winning role and co-starring of course, the great Viola Davis, reprising HER Tony winning role. Davis has now won herself an Oscar for sure, by putting herself in the Supporting category. But how good is the film? Is it as great on film as it was onstage? Or is it going to seem long, and talky and “stagey”?

August Wilson,esteemed to such an extent that he has a New York Broadway theater named after him, never lived to see any of his many plays translated successfully into film. I hope Denzel has worked his directorial as well as his actor’s magic. Will he also be up for a Best Actor Oscar? His third. Or will it go to now the supposed front-runner Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea.” If “Manchester” is going to win something big, and it’s so good, it should, then maybe it’s Casey Affleck who’s the beneficiary and not the film.

manchester-by-the-sea-5When we see “Fences” we will know, but right now Casey Affleck is at number one in the estimation of the Gold Derby-ites AND the Gurus o’ Gold, of which I was a member. Once upon a time. In a galaxy, far, far away…

Best Supporting Actor is much harder to parse right now, so I won’t, but don’t expect small, gay, indie “Moonlight” to score. If the Academy is going to go for a small, racially charged indie, I think it’s going to be “Loving.” It’s a superb little film that grows in the mind and lingers like a haunting refrain.  Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as I’ve posited earlier are both going to get nominated for Best Actress and Actor, respectively, and I think even its’ terrific young director Jeff Nichols will too. Replacing “Moonlight.” In both Best Picture and Best Director.loving-1

If this year it’s going to be OscarsSoBlack, in reaction to last year’s OscarSoWhite, it’s straight “Loving” and “Fences” that will both be nominated for Best Picture. After the rave of raves “Loving” got from Manola Dargis in today’s New York Times, I think THAT’S the indie darling to watch. Not “Moonlight”. If the critically adored “Carol” couldn’t crack it last year then “Moonlight” is certainly a much longer shot at Best Picture or Director.

Only Mahershala Ali in a very small role might get nominated from “Moonlight” in the major categories. That would be as Supporting Actor. But enough Academy members Iin the Actor’s Branch have to see “Moonlight” to nominate him. Will they? And then there’s the terrific Naomie Harris as the drug-addicted mom-from-hell….It worked for Mo’nique in “Precious” and she did no campaigning but she won! Could British actress Harris who so dazzled as Winnie Mandela a few years back in “A Long Walk Home” get nominated, too? That would really be something for this tiny film. And perhaps we might see Black Actors nominated in every category! Wouldn’t that be something new? Something wonderful.

#Oscars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna Froggatt “Downtown” Classiest Winner Golden Globes, J.K. Simmon & Patricia Arquette also triumph

Joanna Frogatt“Downtown Abbey”s very own Joanna Froggatt, who played the rape victim Anna won in her TV category( Supporting Actress TV/mini-series) and gave tonight’s classiest acceptance so far. Claiming that she hopes she was able to give a voice to similarly affected women everywhere. J. K. Simmons also won as expected for his sadistic/funny/frightening/enlightening music-teacher-from-hell in the great “Whiplash”. Huge, thunderous applause for him. And also for Patricia Arquette who also marched to her expected win for “Boyhood” as the Mom of Moms. Both gave perfectly poised speeches that will probably ensure that they will give MANY, MANY more & similar speeches on their way to their inevitable Oscar wins in a month and a half.

Out-of-the-blue winner so far(it’s still going on) was Amy Adams for “Big Eyes.” She also won last year at the Globes for “American Hustle” in the same category. Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. She looked depressed and sad on the Red Carpet. No longer. She’s fine. But probably won’t get an Oscar nomination for “Big Eyes” which is perceived as a flop.

Chalk this one up to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s wanting to give Harvey(Weinstein) SOMEthing. May means his other films won’t win tonight. That measn YOU “Imitation Game.”

Best Screenplay went, inexplicably, to “Birdman.”

Best Score went to “Theory of Everything.”

And Richard Linklater, whose a helluva nice guy, one of the nicest film directors I’ve ever interviewed, won, of course, for “Boyhood.”  Probably signaling “Boyhood” will win Best Picture.

They’ve saved the BIG awards, in film, for the last 45 minutes.

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.

 

“American Hustle” by David O. Russel~Hustle & Bustle without much Muscle

As Shakespeare said, “Full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” That about sums up my reaction to the late-opening “American Hustle” by  David O. Russell, which hustles and bustles without much muscle. It’s ANOTHER Mob movie. ANOTHER one that is trying to out-Scorsese Scorsese, and THANK GOD they’ve got Jennifer Lawrence in this!

In a spectacularly showy Supporting role as one of the dumbest blondes of all time, she absolutely steals the picture. THANK GOODNESS! Or otherwise it would be a very dull sit indeed. It would have been unwatchable, but Jennifer Lawrence makes it a very, funny charming experience. She very much reminded me of that other great dumb blonde Oscar winner Judy Holliday in this.

Lawrence is so appealing as Christian Bale‘s old-fashioned housewife- with-a-kid, who is obsessed with her finger-nail polish. She lights up the screen like a bonfire, never missing one laugh line, or funny moment, and every time she’s absent, you can’t wait for her to come back on again. And writer/director O.Russell uses her sparingly, so you never get tired of her. But you do get tired of the other characters, I’m sorry to say. Real tired.

Having just suffered through “Out of the Furnace” with Bale again in the lead, I was expecting the worst. But at least in this one, he was playing a comic character, a Jewish con-man with pretensions. He owns dry cleaning stores but he wants to own the world. And Lawrence is his trophy wife, who blows up microwaves and enacts her comic role like a poodle in heat.

I didn’t buy Bale’s Yiddish-ness. And he’s pitted against Bradley Cooper who has his hair tightly curled here. Why? To look more Jewish? And  he is seen in curlers A LOT, as are all the leading characters, as a matter of fact, except Bale, who has an elaborate comb-over and who put on quite a bit of  weight of this role. We see a close-up of his bulging stomach, shirtless, just to prove that yes, he’s not in a fat suit. We see him painstakingly creating his comb-over, which takes up the entire first scene of the movie, finishing it off with hair-spray, like he was a super-model…

But to what avail? Con man movies. Mob movies. I just am kind sick of that done-to-death genre, and this involves ABSCAM and a faux-Arab. A FBI plant played stoically by Michael Pena. Robert De Niro pops up, too, as what else? A Mafia chieftain. And Amy Adams, poor thing, who has the female lead, Bale’s con partner and “whore” except next to Jennifer Lawrence, who is just blooming with youth(22) and vital sexuality here, Adams looks old and cold. Worn out. And she should look and seem more alluring than Lawrence. And she doesn’t. She the most miscast she’s ever been. I kept seeing her as the young nun in “Doubt” in my mind.

Mothers or nuns or even intrepid girl reporters like Lois Lane. She was better in the recent  “Superman” re-boot, than she is in this. Sad to say. She deserved better.

But this is what O.Russell hands her.

And I can’t understand the New York Film Critics giving this Best Picture over “12 Years a Slave” It’s criminal. Yes, they did. Unbelievably,. It’s a funny little movie. But Best Picture? New York Film Critics seriously disgraced themselves this year. And Best Screenplay, too??? Seriously??? They gave Best Supporting Actress to Jennifer Lawrence, and I would nominate her for an Oscar, were I voting, but I wouldn’t nominate this semi-funny movie for anything else. Except maybe the zippy ’70s hairstyles. You can skip it and live.

Give me the real thing. Give me Scorsese. Or better yet, “Born Yesterday” with Lawrence as Billie Dawn. Directed by Scorsese.

I can’t wait to see the last opening film of the year “Wolf of Wall Street” by Martin Scorsese.

Who Will Harvey Pick? He’s Got THREE Best Supp. Actors

It’s raining/sleeting/snowing in NYC, but to continue with my train of thought since the last post… Who will Harvey Weinstein pick of his threesome of Best Supporting Actors to push, push, push to Oscar gold?

I guess it was noticed that Phillip Seymour Hoffman was MIA to pick up, or even show up, for the Awards shows this past week. I think he’s rather furious that he’s been relegated to Supporting Actor, for what clearly was a co-lead in the flop “The Master.” So he’s not being super-co-operative. Or PSH is seeing the handwriting on the wall and it’s not spelling HIS name.

I think it’s spelling Robert Deniro’s. Yes, for the audience-friendly “Silver Linings Playbook,” which is only now going wide.The box-office for “SLP” has not being overwhelming to say the least. It’s a difficult, quirky comedy. Or dramedy. And it’s a small, domestic-arguement kind of film. It doesn’t have the range or scope of the epics of this year, “Les Miserables”, or “Argo” or “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Lincoln.”

The “Lincoln” camp is quaking in their boots. Getting “Hilary Clinton’s husband,”to quote the super sharp Amy Poehler, the evening’s resoundingly successful co-host (along with Tina Fey), to introduce the “Lincoln” clip was the act of a desperate group of people. In this case, Disney. They NEVER have run a successful Oscar campaign. Look at how they botched “The Help” last year.

Their sledge-hammer approach cost Viola Davis her Oscar bid last year. They got Best Supporting Actress for “The Help”s Octavia Spenser, but Best Supp. ANYthing is always considered by the Academy as a consolation prize. It’s just not as important as Best ACTOR and Best ACTRESS and now, this year, Best Director.

Liked Anne Hathaway’s seeming slam-dunk lock for “Les Miserables” That category is effectively closed. Give it up, Sally Field.

But back to Harvey. HE KNOWS how to run an Oscar campaign, and he’s relentless in its’ pursuit. Only this year’s ponies, as my idol Tom O’Neil would say over at http://www.goldderby.com, are not the thoroughbreds he was pushing in the past two historic years when he had “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech.” “SLP” is just NOT as good a film as the two recent Oscar winners, who were both Weinstein Co. productions.

Personally, I think he’s going to go after “Silver Linings Playbook” anyway for the win. Or as many wins as he can get for it. Main among them, Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress. She already just won Best Actress Comedy at the Globes, but that was ALLLL “SLP” won, no matter how hard Harvey & Co. were campaigning for it. Next up, the SAG Awards, for which Robert Deniro IS nominated, in Supp.

And that means the twice-Oscared, but never SAGed DeNiro could be looking at HIS third Oscar and HE’S campaigning! Something he NEVER does.IOW, he’s co-operating with Harvey’s Oscar vision for “SLP”.

HW COULD prevail for DeNiro, who, let’s face it is a bona fide Oscar legend, and we’ll just see who out of the current Weinstein Co. stable DOES win Best Supporting Actor.

The co-operative Christophe Waltz won his second Golden Globe in two years, thanks to Harvey, for “Django Unchained.” And who gives the Best Performance out of Hoffman, DeNiro and Waltz. I’d say it was Waltz. And that may happen at the Oscars, too. He may duplicate his win as will, I think Quentin Tarantino in Best Original Screenplay.

Harvey Weinstein KNOWS how to run an Oscar campaign. Disney does not. And Neither does Fox, who has “Life of Pi” and also neither does Universal, who has “Les Miserables” which SHOULD be the winner IMHO. But alllll these majors, the studios, just aren’t USED to winning Oscars anymore. It’s like they were all born yesterday and only Harvey and the Weinstein Co. know what they are doing….And that’s just the way it is this year, ladies and gente-persons, dear readers, dear cineastes.

Except for the fly in the ointment, “Argo”.

You can’t have TWO Davids v. one Goliath. Like “SLP” AND “Argo” v. Goliath “Lincoln.” So which of “Argo” and “SLP” is the “Little Film That Could”? The Oscar question of the morning.

Oscar Mindreading ~The Houston Film Critics Were Reading My Subconscious!

Just thoughts! Random, unspoken thoughts and SUDDENLY there they were in print!

Thankx as always to Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at Awardsdaily for this list. http://www.awardsdaily.com

The HOUSTON FILM CRITICS TOP PICKS ~

Best Picture
Argo

Best Director
Ben Affleck (Argo)

Best Screenplay
Tony Kushner (Lincoln)

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Best Actress
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)

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!’

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