a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Brad Pitt’

“12 Years a Slave” & “Gravity” historic TIE at PGA!!!

Sh Christmas

In an historic moment, “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” TIED for Best Picture at the PGA moments ago! It’s being held in LA and is not televised, but thanks to the ever-wonderful Sasha Stone, at http://www.Awardsdaily.com we all got the news like a bolt of lightning, striking down from the skies!

NEVER BEFORE have films directed by a Hispanic and a Black man, Alphonso Cuaron and Steve McQueen ever had films that won Best Picture at the PGA, the Producer’s Guild, considered the most important of Oscar bellwethers. Or is it this year, we’ve got TWO WINNERS?!?!?

This effectively knocks “American Hustle” out of the picture race and into a cocked hat, which is where it should be. Kicked to the curb with the rest of the garbage.

But I can say that “Gravity” is an astounding technical achievement. Best use of 3-D EVAH! But “12 Years a Slave” is a masterpiece of classic story telling. And the next big awards avalanche comes at BAFTA, where “12 Years a Slave” will sweep, the leading talents being all Brits director Steve McQueen, and leading actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, as well as Irishman Michael Fassbender in Supporting and Kenyan beauty Lupita Nyong’o, who has been winning right along this past weekend.

This is incredible news for Fox Searchlight and  “12 Years a Slave”. Even if it ties on Oscar night, it still wins!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” & “Hunger Games” talks about her new film “The Counselor”

Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” and also the upcoming “Hunger Games” talks about her new role in “The Counselor” which opened yesterday co-starring Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz & Michael Fassbender! She’s sitting on top of the world as one of the hottest young stars of today and she couldn’t be lovelier!

“12 Years a Slave” wins the People’s Choice Award at TIFF’13!

“12 Years a Slave” has just won the People’s Choice Award as final act of TIFF’13. It begins now it’s long, or maybe not so long, march “Slumdog Millionaire”-like march to the Oscars, which this year are now in yes, March.

I can’t seeing any other film toppling this lacerating, traumatic masterpiece. Critics groups will fall in line and award it left, right and center in the coming months. Nothing can stop it. It’s like finally the truth is being told about this awful topic, slavery. Even with a black president, Americans feel they have put slavery behind them, and this great film is so revelatory, so shocking, it clearly shows that it hasn’t.

The depths of horror,inhumanity and mutilation this film reveals are the only things standing in the way of its’ being showered with Oscars. Will audiences stay away or flock to it? How often does a genuine masterpiece come along at TIFF? The last time I experienced this at TIFF was when “Brokeback Mountain” broke there and changed the world.

“12 Years a Slave” had that impact that set Toronto reeling, too. And Brad Pitt, who produced this, comes on at the end as a Canadian(!?) and sets the abolitionist wheels in motion in the final act of the film. Solomon Northup is so beaten down at the end when he meets Pitt, that he is almost afraid to mention that he knows where Canada is and has been there, too. And Pitt’s character is astonished to find “a no-account, illiterate darkie” can speak, read and write. And travel. And Pitt will win his first Academy Award as the Producer of this stupendous film.

Chiwetal Ejiofer should win Best Actor for the hell he makes real in this movie. And Steve McQueen should be the first Black man (no, he’s not an African-American. He’s British!) to win an Oscar for Best Director and it’s about time, too!

There will be many, many awards in this great films’ future. The most difficult thing will be convincing audiences to endure the brutality of it’s two and half hour plus length. There is a happy ending as the title implies. And there will be a really happy ending for all involved with this film.

Coming in second is “Philomena” which is great good news for The Weinstein Co., showing them which really of their many, many movies this Oscar season is the real crowd-pleaser. I saw it, too, at TIFF, and loved it. Dame Judi Dench as the immensely sympathetic title character will no doubt garner another Best Actress nomination. Could she win? Well, Harvey had her over here to the Oscar rodeo before with “Mrs. Henderson Presents” and “Iris” but his magic got her a nomination but not a win. She won previously for her 12 minutes as Queen(Elizabeth I) in “Shakespeare in Love.”

And “Prisoners” which I am seeing Tuesday night back here in NYC came in third. I always wish I could stay at TIFF til this moment when they have a luncheon that announces this. but as usual I am back now in NYC. Oh! And the New York Film Festival starts TOMORROW!

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone continues to write excitingly about BEST ACTOR!

Everyone, you’ve GOT to check out Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone’s great piece over at www.awardsdaily.com on the Best Actor race! Great insights, great witty writing, great CHART of all the Best Actor winners at the Golden Globes, the SAGs and the Oscars, going back DECADES, comparing and contrasting. Sasha does everything soooo well. Even those charts, which I find daunting. I could never do that.

And credit for keeping Awardsdaily at a fever pitch, though Sasha claims she’s bored this year, we have her great #2 guy, Ryan Adams, who does more work on Awardsdaily and is SUCH a great help and friend to Sasha and to all who love the Oscars.

Sasha started Awardsdaily as a MESSAGE BOARD! Can you believe it! After the birth of her daughter Emma, no, not the star of “The Help” which is I think about 13 years ago. It seems I’ve known her since forever, back when Awardsdaily was Oscarwatch.com. Then the Academy SUED HER! For using their name! Can you believe it!

And she was sooo worried that by changing the name from Oscarwatch to Awardsdaily she would lose all her readers. But no! Look what has happened! The happy ending to Sasha’s story is that her website has grown to one of the most known and searched and READ on the web. It really is amazing. And she did it all herself, seems to me. Until Ryan came on board to help.

But it’s just grown and grown. And I just love how she juxtaposed this terrific five-shot of all the Best Actor nominees from the Academy Awards luncheon, which just took place in L.A. yesterday. And Clooney already looks defeated, his shoulders slumping….

Everybody else seems happy. Gary Oldman of “Tinker, Tailor…” is smiling so much, I barely recognized him! And Demian Bichir, too, looks as happy as he can be. And Brad Pitt is also smiling. Nothing seemingly bothering him. He’s having a good time, too. And Jean Dujardin, looks by FAR the sexiest of all of them.

And George just doesn’t look well…I wonder why…And he seems to be staring daggers at Jean Dujardin. Just look at the picture and tell me what YOU see!

Oscar God Dave Karger over at EW is STILL holding on to his Clooney Cover Oscar Issues as his ship is sinking www.ew.com and Sasha explains just WHY Jean Dujardin is going to WIN!

If you don’t believe ME, read HER! It’s unanimous! La Guerre est Fini! Le Roi est Mort! Vive le roi!

Golden Globe Predictions! OF COURSE! ANGELINA & MADONNA!

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone over at www.awardsdaily.com

brings up the interesting question regarding Angelina Jolie’s nomination for Best Foreign Film for “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” Are they going to want to see her on that stage with a Golden Globe award in her hotness’ hands? OF COURSE THEY ARE! That picture will be on magazine covers all over the world, as will Madonna’s when she wins for “Best Song” for HER DIRECTORIAL DEBUT W/E. The song is called “Masterpiece.” The irony is gettin’ a little heavy in here.

“In the Land of Blood and Honey” is also Angelina’s directorial feature film  debut, and though not eligible for Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination, she could win here. Her film has been very well reviewed believe it or not.

And the rest? Sasha says it’s “like Tiger Woods playing minature golf.” Which is the B.E.S.T. description I’ve ever heard of the Globs…

The rest, since they’ve nominated Gorgeous George(Clooney) for FOUR Globs, they are certainly going to give him AT LEAST one. Which is mostly like for Best Actor, Drama, for “Descendants.” GLACK. I’d rather see Brad Pitt win for “Moneyball” in that category. And if he DOES, it’s because they’re thinking “How nice would it be for BOTH Brad and Angie to win Double Globs?” If they really are thinking in terms of Photo Ops (and when are they not?) then Brad will win. If Angie with a Glob is enough, then he won’t. And it’ll be George.

Best Picture Drama? Most likely “The Descendants”. Best Dramatic Actress? If Meryl wins here, and she might, they LIKE giving her gobs of Globs. I think she’s already won SIX, at the very least. And recently for “Adaptation,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Julie and Julia.”Then Meryl may very well win this and make this a real race.

If however, Viola Davis wins here, she’s gonna be VERY hard to beat for the Oscar for Best Actress. In this scenario, I find myself actually ROOTING for Meryl!

“The Help” is like a see-saw. If Viola wins, then perhaps Octavia won’t. Since, I’m told, the HFPA votes in the end with a “select blue ribbon committee,” which is a FEW a VERY FEW people, maybe only the President (this year a woman) making the decision. A woman would very likely give Streep the Best Actress award since “The Iron Lady” is a solid feminist film.

And since it’s the Hollywood FOREIGN Press, guess what they are going to pick for Best Picture Comedy/Musical ?OF COURSE, it’s “The Artist” and Jean Dujardin for Best Actor and Michelle Williams for Best Actress Comedy/Musical. This is what  prompted Sasha to say that it was like “Tiger Woods playing Minature Golf”!!! ROTLMAO!

Christopher Plummer will win Best Supporting Actor. We all KNOW this. Hope he varies his acceptance speeches.

It’s Supporting Actress where the real, and perhaps only surprise of the evening may come as this may be Berenice Bejo, who is Argentinian/French, for “The Artist.” And she could join her husband Michel Hazanaviscius as he is proably going to win Best Director for “The Artist.” THAT would be a great Photo Op! And that’s the way they roll.

Octavia Spencer won at the BFCA Thursday…but…her speech was less than stellar. And this is the very first award of the evening,unless it’s The Plummer Award.( Yes, it’s got his name on it.)

Woody Allen will get Best Original Screenplay, but since they and we all know he won’t show up (He NEVER does) I don’t think he’s EVER been to a Golden Globe, that will be all that “Midnight in Paris” ever gets. Which is too bad. But that’s how Woody rolls. Historically.

“Oscar Race” EW Cover w/Clooney & Viola Davis. Controversial? Accurate? Embarrassing?

I really wonder if the venerable Entertainment Weekly has jumped the shark this week with its’ “Inside the Oscar Race” cover prematurely, I think, showing George Clooney in a tux (nothing new), but at his side,, resplendent in a white ball gown, is Viola Davis! THIS is new! And the cover states “Front-runners George Clooney (The Descendants) and Viola Davis (The Help).” WHAT???

I thought Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams were the two heavyweights for Best Actress! But the usually reliable Oscar God David Karger is plunking his two cents down (and EW is presumably totally backing these choices), and inside we see V.D. depicted holding what looks like an award, or a Golden Globe, or SOMEthing, when on closer look it is seen to be a hand mirror. A bejeweled one, but a HAND MIRROR!

This is the kind of thing that INFURIATES Academy Voters, who are voting or rather nominating, right now as you read this. Many of them perhaps have not even sent their ballots in yet or filled them out, and here is EW acting like IT’S ALL OVER! BAD MOVE, EW!

I would be OK with this if it was a year where this was TRUE, but George is fighting for his life in Best Actor, (He’s got one already and “The Descendants” is depressing.) against his BFF Brad Pitt, who, BTW, just won Best Actor from the prestigious National Society of Film Critics. Take THAT, EW! They seem to be saying. And the Best Actress race is all over the place, between those three ladies. Williams, Streep & Davis.

And Viola Davis, as talented as she is, has not yet won ONE major award yet for “The Help”! A cover like this and a lay-out and an interview like that, may infuriate Academy types into NOT voting for her, when the time comes. And it IS a Supporting Performance in most peoples’ books…including mine.

But to photograph her looking so RADIANT and BEAUTIFUL and AIR-BRUSHED to death, well, we’ve never seen her like this before. And acting like she’s already won! But she hasn’t!

I fear this cover is going to make AMPAS voters feel like “Wait a minute! Don’t tell US who’s won!” or who to vote for. MISTAKE! This is what the Board of Governors was actually warning people about this year.  See Scott Feinberg’s excellent analysis of this at www.hollywoodreporter.com where Scott now is writing “The Race.”

And Jean Dujardin of “The Artist” is the one who most Oscar experts are picking for Best Actor. But not to EW.

I totally agree with Dave Karger with his choice that “The Artist” has already won Best Picture and is waaay out in front in that category. He’s right about that. But I would not be a very good Oscarologist myself, if I didn’t feel it incumbent on me to say “WAIT A MINUTE! Hold your (War) horses, EW!”

What they are doing is championing or campaigning for Clooney/Davis with this glossy cover and the even glossier interview inside. Acting like it’s a done deal. That is SOOOO BAD in Oscar campaigning terms.

And I know Dave Karger is familiar with Oscar 101.

I’ve NEVER seen EW so blatantly Up a Duo from two different films, yet, who may not be pictured together ever again this awards season. How embarrassing! But EW is nothing if not BOLD.

However, their first Oscar cover of the season isn’t a NEWS issue. It never is.

Didn’t they depict “Finding Neverland” once upon a time? Oy vay.

And there was once an Oscar issue like this with three actresses shown. I think it was Jennifer Connelly and Nicole Kidman and somebody else. And that third lady did not get nominated. I can’t even remember who she was. How embarrassing was that for her? And presumably for the magazine. But guess not, cuz they’re doing it again!

But some of you will remind me who that third gal was, who didn’t get nominated.

And even though Michelle Williams is splattered all over the INSIDE of the magazine in their for real predictions section on who’s going to be nominated…that story/interview on George ‘n’ Viola’s friendship was a little grating and self-serving. And yes, both of them are acting like they’ve ALREADY WON! NO! They haven’t!

THIS IS A HUGE OSCAR “No!NO!”

George has picked up a couple of critics awards, but Viola has gotten none, separately, herself, for Best Actress. Though “The Help” has gotten kudo-ed for Ensemble in several places.

This is the kind of cover that could de-rail a campaign. SERIOUSLY. Dave, what were you thinking? Well, obviously, he thinks he’s right.

I beg to differ.

And inside, though, his predictions themselves, were pretty spot-on for who was going to be nominated for Best Picture, Actor and Actress, though he’s got Michael Fassbender in there, and I think it’s Demian Bichir. Although Demian DOES receive a cute consolation prize, a “For Your Consideration” box.

But his supporting picks were all over the place, especially in Supporting Actress.

I was shocked at how wobbly his Supporting predictions were and yes, the Supp. Actress category is historically the hardest to predict. He’s got Berenice  Bejo (yes, she’s nominated for a BFCA, Golden Globe and a SAG) Ditto Octavia Spenser. He’s got Janet McTeer pictured, and I think that’s right. And Jessica Chastain for “The Help” which seems to be what she’s inevitably nominated for, though, it’s the least of her EIGHT performances this season! And then he has Melissa McCarthy, who EW just had on another of their covers recently as “The Queen of Comedy”. This would be for the gross-out “Bridesmaids.”

He doesn’t mention Vanessa Redgrave AT ALL. NOWHERE. And I think she WILL TURN UP here. Especially after being snubbed by BAFTA!!! Can you believe it?

I’m sure it’s the ghost of her earlier-in-life, extreme left-wing policies from the ’60s still haunting her. But if the Academy, Anglophile Lefties all, (well, the majority anyway) will over look Redgrave’s policy and put her in where she belongs and she could win this for her ASTOUNDING performance in “Coriolanus.”

Karger also gives Carey Mulligan from “Shame” a “For Your Consideration” box. And that is valid. She was great, if not greater, than Michael Fassbender in “Shame.”

We all know Christopher Plummer is going to win his career award in Supp. for “Beginners” and Dave Karger duly notes this. The other nominees, in this category, though, except for Kenneth Branagh are all up in the air. ESPECIALLY, his pick of Max Von Sydow for “Extremely Late and Incredibly Distasteful”! I don’t think so.

He’s got Jonah Hill and Albert Brooks in there but they were overlooked by SAG, and Nick Nolte and Armie Hammer WERE SAG-nominated, which he notes, but doesn’t see them getting in.

Who could pop up here, unexpectedly, is Corey Stoll for his finely etched portrait of Ernest Hemingway in “Midnight in Paris.”

And Kathy Bates and/or Marion Cotillard could be two last-minute  pop-ups from “Midnight in Paris.” They both just were named on the BAFTA long list…So they’ve been noted there.

Oh, and that BAFTA long list!…well, let’s just say it’s TOO LONG to even bother with at this point. But as always you can check out www.awardsdaily.com for a much closer look at that ENDLESS list, on which nearly everybody who made a film this year, is on. Wait for the BAFTA nominations themselves. But Beth Stevens, at Awardsdaily does a really good job at parsing them, especially in the comment section.

Oscar’s Pesky Supporting Categories. Mucho loco.

Oh, those pesky Oscar Supporting Categories! They are sooo hard to pin down, always, but this year’s there’s so much movement it makes the potential nominees look like Mexican jumping beans!

And no SAG didn’t match the Golden Globes, and they both didn’t match the  (Broadcast Film Critics Assoc.) But look who these groups REALLY represent. Look closely. And the first thing you may notice is that the Broadcast Film Critics, is made up, of mostly, well, film critics.

And there are NO film critics in the Academy. Repeat after me. THERE ARE NO FILM CRITICS IN THE ACADEMY.

And Stu Vanairsdale’s www.movieline.com excellent depiction of the Hollywood Foreign Press as “swag monkeys” is sooo apposite I want to adopt it just for my own, but yes, that defines them. ABSOLUTELY. And also, they are PRESS. And yes, repeat after me…no don’t bother. There’s no press in the Academy either….

So the fact that Michael Fassbender didn’t get a SAG nom is much more significant than it may at first seem. AND he’s urinating on-screen. Literally pissing his nomination away. And that’s how Demian Bichir got HIS SAG nom, playing a heroic Hispanic gardener. Yeah, this category this year . It’s a pisser.

But also not nominated for SAG was Albert Brooks from “Drive” and that make me wonder. He was nominated for Supporting Actor by both the BFCA and the GG, but to be left out of SAG may be fatal.

Why was Brooks not nominated for “Drive”? Maybe because THEY DIDN’T WATCH “DRIVE.” SAG gave nothing to “Drive” whereas the BFCA nominated it A LOT.

Who was nominated in Brooks’ place? Armie Hammer for “J. Edgar!” Stupendous in “The Joy of Typing” as BOTH Winklevoss twins, he’s riding a crest of good will. And Academy members keep exclaiming “I loved J.Edgar!” Which is something obviously Stu V. isn’t hearing.

And Hammer benefits by being in Leo DiCaprio’s shadow. He gets to kiss him, after all (Degree of difficulty!) And even though “J. Edgar” was left off the PGA list, it made MY Ten Best, and I STILL think it’s another Clint Eastwood masterpiece. THAT could be a surprise BP pop-up on Oscar Nomination Day, which is Tuesday Jan.24.

AMPAS members are voting right now on their choices of nominations. Yes, they are. And so what’s on their minds? Well, “The Artist” for one, which is going to get more nominations than any other film this year. And Berenice Bejo is on her way to a for sure Best Supporting Actress nomination and possibly even a win, in my book.

The Argentinian/French beauty carries as much of the film as the stalwart Jean Dujardin, who did win the Best Actor prize in Cannes this year. And she got a BFCA, a SAG nod, and also a Golden Globe nomination. So she was the triple crown of nods as it were.

And she also just won BEST ACTRESS in the Rome Film Festival which just wrapped last week.

So she’s definitely on a roll, and she’s also married IRL to “The Artist” s front-runner for Best Director Michel Hazanaviscius. And HE’S probably going to win Best Director across the board, and if she won, too, that would be the first time in Oscar history that a husband and wife team won double Oscars, a quaint touch that the Academy may very likely find too charming to resist, too. Just like their movie!

They’re French, and SOOOO in love! And so happy!

Berenice’s main competition is Octavia Spenser for “The Help.” Spencer, an unknown up until this season, also was a recipient of a SAG, BFCA & a GG nod. So she’s almost assured of a nomination. But she’s an Academy newbie. Her memorable performance as the foul-mouthed Minnie is the kind of role that gets nominated but doesn’t necessarily WIN awards.

And there was that shitting in the pie scene. Unlike Michael Fassbender, we don’t SEE her doing it, thank god, but she does do it, and then serves it to Bryce Dallas Howard, RON HOWARD’S daughter! in real life, who plays the villainess Hilly so well here in “The Help.”

Stu V. and Tom O’Neil at www.GoldDerby.com and many others have her as a frontrunner in Supporting Actress, but I wonder….

I do NOT think the Academy is open-minded enough to award TWO African-American actresses in ONE year. One of them, maybe, but not both. And Viola Davis is pictured and named as “The Frontrunner” on this week’s Entertainment Weekly annual Oscar issue. She’s pictured with George Clooney, which actually could be the kiss of death. They could BOTH not win.

And the two “Help” women, may split the “Help” vote. And neither wins.

It’s a very interesting year in that the actress categories are so up-in-the-air.

And it just goes to show that Meryl Streep’s reviews for “The Iron Lady” were sooooo bad that they vaulted Viola Davis on to the cover of EW!

And Shailene Woodley of “The Descendants” was not nominated for a SAG award either.  Too young, merely a teenager. But Janet McTeer of “Albert Nobbs” was…and Stu V. has Glenn Close of “Albert” slipping out of the locked five in Best Actress, being replaced by Rooney Mara. I don’t see that happening. But Janet McTeer has ALSO scored the trifecta of BFCA, SAG & GG.

And then there’s Jessica Chastain & her 5000 films she was in this year’s problem. What to nominate her for? Well, if it’s for “The Help” (a good perf, but not great) she’d also be splitting the “Help” vote with Spencer and then…and then…Berenice Bejo wins!

And Vanessa Redgrave could win in this category, but she’s been nominated nowhere so far and it seems like NO body is watching “Coriolanus.”

And then there’s sweet Carrie Mulligan who shows HER nether regions in “Shame.” But oh yes, since she’s a young girl, that could help her…but so far…No nominations…which is a REAL shame.

And Christopher Plummer? He won this race, Supporting Actor, the minute his marvelous film “Beginners” opened in May. The question that plagues us Oscar-ers and Oscar-ettes, is who’s going to be nominated in that category and lose to him. Plummer has never seen so, well, plummy. And he’s experiencing the most attention and love he’s perhaps ever gotten in his long and very chequered career. He’s very grand, too, as Herbert Wanger in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” It’s his year. He’s everywhere!

5 SAG men and 5 SAG women poised to score Oscar noms

At this juncture, the first post of the New Year 2012, I’m beginning to think of the Oscar landscape as sort of a roiling seascape. It’s most fascinating aspect is the tides, their ever-changing ebb and flow. And it does change, this Oscar race, we are all so avidly following. And if you’re not, why are you reading this???

So what’s changed since yesterday? Well, certain box office numbers came in, and came in lower than expected. Like for instance, the holiday numbers of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” which are OK, but not the blockbuster figures Sony was hoping for with a $100 million budget. This hurts Rooney Mara’s nascent Oscar campaign, I’m afraid. Right at the time the voters have received their ballots in their homes.

Most send them RIGHT BACK, making sure that they are counted. You can check out the stats at www.boxofficemojo.com And “The Iron Lady” opened strong, but not THAT strong. Everybody these days feels that the first weekend is everything, and especially in the middle of the Oscar campaigns, that is not necessarily the case.

But “Dragon Tattoo” is not measuring up, and I think that dooms Rooney Mara’s chance to crack that locked and loaded Five SAG women, who are nominated for Best Actress. I think that on Oscar morning, we’ll find out that Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Michelle Williams and yes, Tilda Swinton, are going to repeat their SAG nomination victories. If you consider the SAG nominations a victory. And they are of sorts.

Of course, it’s an honor. It is after all your peers voting for you here. And it’s the first glimpse we get into what the all important Hollywood guilds are actually thinking and feeling right about now. And the above ladies are who they are feeling for.

Rooney Mara is the newbie, the upstart outsider trying to get in, but…with those numbers at the B.O. I’m afraid “Dragon Tattoo” is not going to make  it into that very locked-up-for-ages category.

You always wish they could expand the category just a LEEETLE bit, but, of course, they never do. It’s against the rules.

Then there’s the Five SAG men. And last night I finally got a chance to watch Demian Bichir’s out-of-the-blue nominated performance in the leeetle-seen Indie “A Better Life.” It starts slow, but then BANG! It blew me out of the water and Bechir held me in the grip of his powerful, moving performance as a Mexican father, an illegal immigrant in today’s L.A., who is working as a gardener and trying to make “A Better Life” for his son. He was heroic. No anti-hero here. And troubles galore do ensue, as he is always trying to do the right, moral thing in the immoral, or amoral world of the hispanic underclass.

It’s a terrific film and a great performance by Bichir. Summit Entertainment, the film’s distributor, did the smart & impossible that usually is associated with Sony Pictures Classics or Lionsgate,  by sending out the DVD screeners of this film to the entire SAG membership, and most especially the 2100 members of their nominating committee EARLY. REALLY EARLY. Like SPC did last year with “Animal Kingdom” that just as unseen-in-theaters film that got Australian actress Jackie Weaver an Oscar nomination in Supporting Actress last year. She didn’t win, but in her very unlikely case, it was a honor just to be nominated. And like Lionsgate did so famously with “Crash” upsetting “Brokeback Mountain.” That was in 2005. And the strategy still works.

Oh! Those September screeners! Those first out-of-the-box DVDs to arrive at a time when the voters have time to watch them. Like in the REALLY early fall. Like Labor Day. And it seemed EVERYone in SAG watched “A Better Life” and were equally wowed, as I was, by Bichir’s heart-wrenching performance.

He didn’t repeat this at the Golden Globe awards. He was replaced there by Michael Fassbender for “Shame” And much as I adore Michael F. and his constant full frontal nudity didn’t faze me in the least, I think it WILL faze the S.W.O.R.M, The Straight White Old Rich Men, who make up the Academy. Yes, as I’m always pointing out, THEY are the majority. Like it or not, that’s what we’re dealing with here. ALWAYS.

And sadly, the double standard is still in effect. The naked young girl, like for instance, last year’s Natalie Portman, almost always wins over the older actresses who are also nominated. I think, as I’ve said many times, this “Babe Rule” is going to apply once again this year in a close race for Best Actress between Michelle Williams and her older cohorts.

But oh no! MEN can’t be seen naked in Hollywood films! Especially not from the front! And especially when shown urinating! And yes, you don’t just HEAR it happening! You see the actual, physical process taking place RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! Michael Fassbender is facing upstage(and totally naked, again, natch) but you get the picture.

But the Academy won’t get this picture. They are nothing, if not closet prudes and homophobes as we know (See “Brokeback Mountain” NOT winning in 2005) So no, to Michael Fassbender, and yes, to Demien Bichir. As the SAGS have already said.

Also, “Shame”s box-office is not registering with movie-goers despite the constant sex scenes and the as-noted nudity. See BoxOfficeMojo, again. Which is, well, a shame.

What is doing WELL at the Box Office surprisingly is “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” which is a British film that boasts a terrifically understated performance by the great actor Gary Oldman, who has never ONCE been nominated. He could sneak in here and replace Bichir, if the large British voting bloc within the Academy votes for him and not Mexican  Bichir. But George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jean Dujardin of “The Artist” I think are as equally locked and loaded in their category of Best Actor, as the five aforementioned ladies are in their category.

The Supporting races, especially Best Supporting Actress, are usually not SAG matches and are usually all over the place. So much so that I will discuss them separately. But the SAG 5 & 5 rule!

National Board of Review gives “Moneyball” & Brad Pitt NO-thing!

So now the National Board of Review announces. Sadly (to them) in #2 after the New York Critics Circle announced FIRST on Tuesday. And as I predicted this is group who would be so incensed that they were not the FIRST out of the gate, as they always have been historically, they would pick NO BIG WINNERS who already won earlier this week. “The Artist” did hang on to a spot in their Top Ten(They have a very odd line-up of awards, always).

But picture went to “Hugo” which I despised, and Best Director was Martin Scorcese for said non-children children’s film. BORED ME TO TEARS for the first hour! With the worst child actor EVAH in a leading role. EX-CRUUUU-CIATING.

This leviathantian epic is PROBABLY NOT going to get nominated for Best Picture. Even. It’s not gonna look good in 2D on a screener which is the way most AMPAS voters, and SAG, too, for that matter, will inevitably view it.

Best Actor is their beloved George Clooney, who is SUDDENLY back in the race again, after being left out pretty completely on Tuesday by the NYFCC. And Shailene Woodley, his mouthy teenaged daughter-from-hell probably does cement her Supporting Actress nomination with this win. (And also an Indie Spirit nom in this category, when Clooney got NO-thing from the Indie Spirits.) And “The Descendants” won big here with three major wins. George, Shailene and Alexander Payne for Adapted Screenplay…But they award George almost every year no matter what.

But who and what this hurts(if it hurts at all) is “Moneyball” and Brad Pitt and everyone involved with it , who did not even score in the NBR’s Top Ten. OUCH!!!

So it is Brad v. George for Best Actor? I think they effectively cancel each other out and hand it to Jean Dujardin for “The Artist” which at least scored in their “Top Ten”. Oh! I’m repeating myself!

So, I will repeat myself some more and once again reference “The Artist”s artists with moi on my You Tube channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

The only award that duplicated the NBR win last year at the Oscars was Christian Bale in “The Fighter.” So this bodes well for Christopher Plummer who won here for “Beginners.” And doesn’t bode so well for George or Shailene, who will probably get nominations from AMPAS, though.

The NBR also has a very bad history with Actress winner, so the stunningly brilliant, yet horrifying turn by the great Tilda Swinton for “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin” who is the winner here as Best Actress…is basically winning what can now be called the Lesley Manville award, since that brilliant Brit won here for the amazing “Another Year”, and then went on to win nothing else.

I don’t think Tilda’s tremendous, bloody turn will sit well with the Academy. Though certainly it needs to be…if there is any justice in Oscarland, and we know of course, that there isn’t.

So other than Rooney Mara getting a Breakthrough Performance Award and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” landing in the Top Ten, this is the only recognition this film that made the NYFCC WAIT got. Rooney Mara is playing Lisbeth Salander here in David Fincher’s American re-make..

So what does this all mean? I think it means CLEARLY less than the NYFCC. It means that Gorgeous George is down but by no means out. And that “The Descendants” is still in the game. And that Brad Pitt and his “Moneyball” makers better look to their PR campaigns for Oscar, like NOW!

But it is pretty much of a sharp slam to Pitt & co.

And “The Help” got Best Ensemble, FWIW and nothing else…

So the only one who this wacky award clearly helps is Christopher Plummer. But then we knew he’d win for Best Supporting Actor way back in June!

And “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two” made it into the Top Ten and got a special award for the franchise as a whole. OR hole, whichever way you want to parse it.

For a complete list of the NBR(also-rans)winners see Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone’s www.awardsdaily.com

 

Oscar’s Worst Disease ~ Category Confusion! It can kill a career!

What, I ask myself at this time of year with Hallowe’en fast approaching, is the worst, scariest thing that could possibly happen to an Oscar seeker? The answer is plain, simple and deadly ~ Category Confusion! It’s what happened to the wonderful Leslie Manville in “Another Year” last year. Leslie who? Well, Sony Pictures Classics whom I ADORE really messed up on that one. How? They ran her in Leading Actress. When clearly there were many who thought she was Supporting. Like BAFTA. That’s where they put her. And she lost there. Poor Leslie. Poor, poor Leslie. Category confusion. It’s Oscar’s most deadly disease. And this year, it’s back and seems to be infecting several prominent nominees. ALREADY.

The National Board of Review gave Leslie Manville BEST ACTRESS, and that seemed to be the way to go for her…I guess…but then she turned up…NOWHERE. EVER. AGAIN. And it was a stunning performance. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I wrote about it on this blog over and over and you can go back and check. I loved her lost, sad, mad Mary. A suburban singleton of un age certain who was desperate to get married before it was too late. So desperate for any kind of human contact whatsoever she permanently attached herself to her friendly married couple. And they put up with it. To a point.

Mike Leigh at his surprising best. Torturing a full length film out of such an unlikely topic. Single adults and their happily married friends…”Another Year” Catch it on DVD if you can.

Well, poor brilliant Leslie’s career state-side was not launched. Lost is more the word.

And this could happen again this year with a couple of very notable actresses. For some reason, it doesn’t infect male actors as easily as it does female. They are more fragile at Oscar time, and Awards season which is upon us, whether you know it or not, it’s particularly contagious.

And this year both Viola Davis of “The Help” may catch it. Is she lead? Or is she supporting? And so may Jeffrey Well’s crusade du jour unknown, middle-aged British actress Olivia Coleman in “Tyrannosaur” may also succumb, long shot though she is. I haven’t seen “Tyrannosaur”  yet. Not many people have, but most have liked it, like Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of www.awardsdaily.com And you can read about Jeffrey’s latest crusade(s) at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

And the Chicago Film Festival critics who gave Olivia Coleman Best Actress.

But some who have seen it have felt she was Supporting in “Tyrannosaur” and therefore should be campaigned in that category. Uh-oh! Here we go again! Leslie Manville-time! And she also has a supporting role in Meryl Streep’s “The Iron Lady” as Margaret Thatcher’s daughter. Confused?

You see the Academy who gives out the Oscars can place actors, on a written ballot, in any category they see fit.

They are supposedly GUIDED by the “For Your Consideration” Campaigns that the various studios and distributors put out, at great expense.  But other organizations like the Golden Globes or the BFCA (Broadcast Film Critics) ARE guided by the studios in category placement. The leading critics groups, not so much. They follow their own whims and wisdoms.

I just hope Disney or Dreamworks or whoever is watching over “The Help” sticks to its’ Viola Davis as Lead campaign. And Davis as brilliant as she is, may not be the leading character. The lead is clearly the Emma Stone character. BUT if they put Viola in lead she may lose there to a younger actress, specifically Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn.”

And all my fellow Oscarologists are keeping Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in the still unseen “Iron Lady” as their Numero Uno Belle of the Ball.

If Viola Davis is put into Supporting, she would surely win that  still kind of wide open category. But in that category ALREADY ARE possibly TWO other cast-mates from “The Help” Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain. No one has ever won an Oscar when THREE people from the same movie are all in the same category. Vis a vis “On the Waterfront”, neither Rod Steiger, Karl Malden or that other guy won. They all cancelled each other out. As did the three Supporting Dames in “Tom Jones”, leaving another Brit darling, Dame Margaret Rutherford to triumph that year for “The V.I.P.s”

So it’s in Viola’s best interest to be put – where? In Best Actress where she may not win? Or Best Supporting Actress, possibly knocking out one of her presumed nominee cast-mates?

Is a puzzlement. To quote Yul Brynner in “The King and I’

OR a disease. Look what happened to Leslie Manville! Category Confusion! AND IT KILLED HER!

And also the same can be said, BTW, about Julianne Moore last year. She was campaigned in lead for “The Kids Are All Right,” and if Focus Features had put her more firmly in Supporting,(they didn’t) she too, like Leslie Manville was  shut out completely. At the Oscars. At the Globes. At the Broadcast Film Critics. Everywhere.

How can this happen, you say? Well, it’s vote-splitting, is what it is. These two actresses specifically Manville and Moore, and just last year, both split their own vote and ended up sitting at home on Oscar night. And watching Melissa Leo say “f**king” and generally lower the level of the Awards forever. A case can be made that either Manville or certainly Moore would have won over the little-known Leo. But Melissa Leo did win. And she did it HER way. But it was always clear WHAT category she was in. She was always Supporting and Natalie Portman was always lead and they both won.

Viola Davis’ performance in “The Help” is a towering achievement. But neither she nor any one I feel is going to topple the beauteous young Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.  Nobody is confused as to what category Williams as Marilyn is supposed to be in. She’s like Natalie Portman in “The Black Swan” last year. Unstoppable. So it does make some sense to put Viola Davis in Supporting.

And then there’s Fox Seachlight’s cock-eyed attempt to campaign Brad Pitt as Supporting for “Tree of Life,” when he’s CLEARLY the lead in that mixed-up muddle of a movie. But what that may do is take votes away from his lead campaign in his career-best performance as Baseball manager Billy Beane in “Moneyball.”

Academy Members of their Acting Branch get confused soooo easily. But they got it absolutely RIGHT a couple of years back when they put Kate Winslet stunning performance as Hannah Schmidt, an illiterate Concentration Camp guard, into lead, when she was being campaigned as Supporting for “The Reader.”

They did absolutely the right thing then. And Winslet won! And made the cover of Time Magazine, BTW.

What will they do this year? Only time will tell. Stay tuned.

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