a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Brie Larson’

Indie Spirit Film Award Winners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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And now, here come the BAFTAS! What will they tell us?

BAFTAS 2016 1And now, this Sunday night in London, here comes what I feel is the most predictive awards show of all the BAFTAs. The British Oscars. And what do they have to do with OUR own Oscars, coming up on Feb.28? Well, I think they are the most influential accolade of all. Especially in the Acting Races. Where, if there’s a five way, undecided sort-of year, which this isn’t really, in the Acting Awards, they can tip the scales in one actor’s or actress’s favor.

As they did famously in the year that Tilda Swinton won for “Michael Clayton”, surprising many, but not me. Tilda won the BAFTA then she went right on to win her first Oscar. Interesting piece of Oscar trivia, Tilda, who could just not bear to have all these awards around her house, gave her British Oscar, her BAFTA to her British agent and her American Oscar to her American agent Brian Swardstrom. I bet they were glad to get them. NOTHING like that ever happens to actors’ agents, No wonder Tilda has never stopped working since!

You win the Oscar and you never stop working, so the story goes…True or not, it’s a nice thing to look forward to. For a moment. Tilda Swinton Oscar 2That year marked another BAFTA/Oscar milestone when the unknown French actress Marion Cotillard who was playing Edith Piaf to beat the band in “La Vie En Rose” went on to trounce Brit Julie Christie for Best Actress.Marion Oscar 1Mlle. Marion was acting in her own language, you see, and it was considered IMPOSSIBLE for a foreign actress to win. But I knew she would, her perfomance as Edith Piaf at all different ages was so incredible.

And so did Daniel Day-Lewis, who got up and made a speech when he won  at the BAFTAs extolling Marion’s superlative performance. He  won the BAFTA that year, too,  for “There Will Be Blood.”. People, or rather Oscar voters, listened. I think the word he used was” transcendant.”

And this year? Well it seems almost all the Acting categories are locked. But wait a tic! There could be surprises. Leonardo Di Caprio in “The Revenant” has been winning EVERYTHING in sight this year and could win the Oscar. But will he win the BAFTA for Best Actor?Danish Eddie 1

Don’t be surprised, Leo, if BAFTA does what it usually does and award a deserving, beloved Brit, Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.” And also watch out Brie Larson! She, who likewise is winning everything imaginable for “Room”.At BAFTA, she’s up against the It Girl of the Hour, Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl” who is  up for Best Actress. Whereas at the Oscars, Alicia’s up for Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.” Her role as Gerde Vegener, who is a Danish painter married to a man who is going through the first known transgender transition is indelible, powerful.

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Alicia could win the Best Actress BAFTA  as “The Danish Girl” is a British Film and also Alicia, though Swedish, speaks English with a British accent. OR it could be Saoirse Ronan, who is Irish as Irish can be in “Brooklyn” an Irish film. And Brie Larson’s “Room” isn’t as popular over there as it has been here. It only has only other nomination Best Adapted Screenplay.Danish Girl Duo

And the astonishing Alicia Vikander is having such a big year, that she’s nominated also in BAFTA in Supporting Actress for “Ex Machina.” Yes, Alicia winning either of these awards, would almost certainly assure her an Oscar win over Rooney Mara, the girl who wasn’t there, in “Carol”, her nearest competitor for Supporting Actress at the Oscars. Rooney is running as a Supporting Actress at BAFTA, as she is at the Oscars, but this time, she’s up against Alicia as the sexiest robot of all time in “Ex Machina.”  Could Rooney win here and split the Vikander vote? “Carol” got a slew of nominations here, including Best Picture, although it didn’t in the US.Alicia Vikander 3Alicia could win in both categories. That’s right! She could win TWO BAFTAs! OR of course, she could lose twice, too.Roonwy MARA 2

As far as Best Supporting Actor at BAFTA, it will most likely go to one of the nominated Brits. Idris Elba, yeah, him again, for “Beasts of No Nation,” I think he has this over fellow Brit and UK stage legend Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies.” He hasn’t been campaigning and has even skipped the BFCC and the SAG. Christian Bale is British, too, although he hardly ever mentions it. And he’s nominated for “The Big Short.” Watch this early-announced award. Who it goes to will tell us pretty clearly what will win Best Picture.Christian Bale 1

,And finally there’s the Best Picture race itself which pits people think “Spotlight” v. “The Revenant” v. “The Big Short”. And many, including myself, think that whatever film wins Best Film here could also go on to win the Oscar, too. Although wait another tic! Last year, the Brits picked “Boyhood” and Richard Linklater, and not “Birdman” and Alexander Gonzalez Inarittu who won the Oscars.

So there is a divide. What do I think is going to win Best Picture? Bet on the Brits voting for Brits, which could lead to “Carol” or “The Bridge of Spies”  being a surprise win here, although “Spotlight” set in Boston and involving Irish Catholic pedophile priests might be something they could relate to over the Wall St. story “The Big Short” or the Western “The Revenant”. Have the EVER given a BAFTA  to a Western? I think not. (more…)

Brie Larson Wins SAG Best Actress for “Room”!”Spotlight” Wins Best Ensemble!

Brie Larson 3Looking not at all like this possessed picture above ^ Brie Larson just won her well deserved SAG Award for Best Actress or as they put it, Best Female Actor.  She seems so much like the girl next door, you can’t believe that she was the “captured for seven years” girl next door.  In the shed in the back garden. And now here comes Best Actor!

Annnnnd it’s Leo. Oh well. And a Standing O, too. That’s it. That’s the ball game. He’ll win the Oscar, too. As will Brie Larson.

And “Spotlight” wins Best Ensemble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK GOODNESS!!!!

A shocked Mark Ruffalo gave a very nice speech, very moving, very heartfelt. “I really didn’t expect this”he exclaimed. And then handed the blue “Actor” award over to Michael Keaton, who ALSO gave a very impassioned speech about the “disenfranchised everywhere. Flint, Michigan, everywhere.”

So basically, that ALSO is the ballgame, dear readers, dear cineastes, for Best Picture.

I saw “The Big Short”,”Spotlight”s main competitor, but I kept thinking “They’re not giving their main award to a film that they may not understand.”

Even though the heroes in “Spotlight”  are journalists, a species that actors purport to disdain, but not tonight. And this win for “Spotlight” which I’m happy about, re-emphasizes that “Spotlight” is about something very, very serious and it’s a drama. “The Big Short” is a comedy. Comedy always loses and will probably now lose the Oscar, too. Spotlight 4

“Spotlight”is about the decades-long cover up of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church is an important topic. SAG felt it was more important than Wall St.’s corruption.

I also felt that “The Big Short” disturbingly glamorizes this corruption. Which is something that “Spotlight” does not. It faces its’ issues straight on, and condemns them. And everybody in the movie is just terrifically understated, and quietly brilliantly intense.

This win tonight for “Spotlight” puts it in the front-runner spotlight, once again, and I think it will stay there through to the Oscars.

Mark Ruffalo’s very moving acceptance speech showed Oscar voters, who watch these predictive proceedings like a hawk, are very likely to take note of that marvelous moment of Ruffalo’s. They also saw Leo, and Brie, and Alicia Vikander doing their best Oscar audition acceptance speeches, too. And they did it so well, I think all three of them nailed down their Oscar wins tonight. Indupitably.

The only category left up in the air tonight was Best Supporting Actor, because supposed favorite Sylvester Stallone is leading that Oscar category and Idris Elba isn’t nominated there. But Mark Ruffalo is.

So we have a very locked and loaded Oscar race now. Except for Best Supporting Actor, which will be announced VERY early in the evening as it usually is.

This occasion is a much more joyous one than the Golden Globes were.Indubitably.Boston Globe

 

Live-Blogging SAG(Screen Actors Guild) Awards tonite.

SAG 1The Screen Actors Guild Awards are tonight, and I’m going to be live-blogging them, dear readers, dear cineastes.  In NYC, they are on the TBS or TNT channels at 8pm EST. Check your local listings.

There should be MANY surprises tonight. We’ll see if the #Oscarssowhite controversy is going to impact the awards.

Black British Actor Idris Elba is the man of the hour tonight. He’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor on the film side for “Beasts of No Nation.” And on the TV side he’s nominated for “Luther”. He’s against Mark Rylance in both categories and I feel he is going to take home at least ONE “actor” as they call their awards. If “Beasts of No Nation” wins Best Ensemble, then Elba might be taking home three!

Mark Rylance 1
Rylance, a stage legend in Britain and multiple Tony winner on Broadway, is his main competition tonight for “Bridge of Spies” for Best Supporting Actor Film, and for “Wolf Hall” TV series.

Unfortunately, Elba was NOT nominated for an Oscar. (He’s a magnificent actor. He should have been.) None of this awful Oscarssowhite scandal would’ve happened if he had been nomminated. It’s rumored that he may be the first Black James Bond.

Here’s an interview I did with Idris a few years back at the Toronto Film Festival.

As for Best Picture Film, it’s back and forth and forth and back between “Spotlight” and late riser “The Big Short.” Which is what it was like last year with “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” Up til the last second. And then “Birdman” won by a beak at the Oscars. I still can’t believe that happened.

Me? I’d vote for “Spotlight” if I was a voting member of SAG. But I’m not, so we’ll see. Unlike the Academy, SAG voters DO have a sense of humor. So “The Big Short”s cutting edge wit would not be held against it tonight. We’ll see.

And if Leonardo wins Best Actor here tonight, he’ll win the Oscar, too. Ditto Brie Larson.

But if it’s Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo” LOOK OUT! All bets are off. And Leo could kiss his Oscar good-bye. At least for “The Revenant”Revenant 3

And I think Alicia Vikander will triumph here in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.”Alicia 6

 

 

 

 

 

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Oscars ~ Where Are We Now?

OscarsWith so much controversy flying every which way this year, where exactly are we? Well, the safest best bet is to watch for the Producers Guild to announce their winner this weekend. And I’m guessing it will be “Spotlight.” Low wattage, reserved, and quietly, subtlely powerful as it is, its’ distinction, like “12 Years a Slave”s before it, can’t be denied.

They’re sweeping changes a foot. Everybody is discussing Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ VERY controversial announcement in a form of a press release. I’ll leave it to others who have more time than I do, busy Oscarologist that I am at this time of year, to parse just what all this means. But suffice it to say, for this year, it means NOTHING!

The Oscars 2016 will roll along exactly as they were previous to this two years of #Oscarssowhite maelstrom. Nothing at all is going to change any time soon.

But if it WERE to effect this year’s race, you might see Idris Elba win a deserved supporting actor trophy two weeks from Sunday for “Beasts of No Nation.” I hope he does. This is for a SAG award, which they call, “The Actor”, NOT the Oscar. Beasts

It really riles me that he was excluded and seemingly replaced by Sylvester Stallone, whose performance in “Creed” is nothing but a stream of unintelligible shrugs and mumbles. Stallone is not nominated for the SAG award. The Actors of SAG did the right thing in nominating Elba. So if you want to look for who to blame for this #Oscarssowhite trouble, look below the line. Anne Thompson’s infamous “steakeaters.”

It seems pre-ordained now that Leonardo Di Caprio is going to win Best Actor for the revolting “Revenant.” But if he DOESN’T win the SAG Award for Best Actor two weeks from Sunday and it’s Bryan Cranston, or even Eddie Redmayne, LOOK OUT! Things are not as clear in the blogospheres’ crystal balls as they seem to be.

Brie Larson, a relative unknown, is about to be crowned Oscar’s new Queen,and deservedly so, for “Room.” Brie golden Globe 1Such a powerful, complex, intelligent performance by an actress we almost never see on screen.. Operating against her is “Room”s teeny, tiny distributor A24, who has never been THIS near an Oscar campaign for a  performance before.Alicia

And Alicia Vikander seems to be rising and rising. She SEEMS to have the momentum in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” even though it’s hardly a supporting performance at all. Again the SAGS will tell the tale and also the BAFTAs. She’s also in film after film after film. All big studios. And that means Hollywood already has a steak(stake?) in her future. Her moving, eloquent speech at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on Sunday helped her immensely too. She was instantly unforgettable.

What happened to “Carol”? That’s the 64 Dollar question. *sigh* I guess it just wasn’t good enough. And WHY wasn’t it good enough? I’d say it was the Big Zero of a performance at its’ center from Rooney Mara. Don’t get me wrong. I liked her playing the bisexual Lisbeth Salander in “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” which I’ve seen multiple times, liking her more and more each time. But she was a void at the center Carol 3of”Carol” to me. It was like Cate Blanchett was acting all by herself in that film.

Whereas in “The Danish Girl” Alicia Vikander is VERY much present in her interactions, her love of her husband, even as he turns into a woman, even encouraging him as painful as it is for her, in his transition. And she’s playing a real woman, artist Gerde Wegener. , Whereas Mara is playing fictional character who is a blank, at best. Therese Belivet, the character’s name is intriguing, but the part and the performance were not. I’ve known a lot of lesbians in my gay life, and one thing they are not, is boring. “Carol” was boring.

Alicia 2

The All Important Producers Guild Announces Nominations

Alicia Vikander 3Mark Ruffalo 1Mark Rylance 1The All Important Producers Guild just announced seconds ago its’ list of the Top Ten Films of 2015. Why is the PGA as it’s abbreviated sooo important? Well, apart from SAG, it is the first solid indication of just who’s in and who’s,out the (most likely) to be nominated films for Best Picture and there’s quite a few surprises. This is the industry speaking now, not critics’ groups or press.

And there are more than many snubs. A lot of people’s Oscar dreams are ending right here.

The theatrical motion picture nominees are:

 

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

Ø  The Big Short

Producers: Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner

Ø  Bridge of Spies

Producers: Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, Kristie Macosko Krieger

Ø  Brooklyn

Producers: Finola Dwyer & Amanda Posey

Ø  Ex Machina

This film is in the process of being vetted for producer eligibility

Ø  Mad Max: Fury Road

Producers: Doug Mitchell & George Miller

Ø  The Martian

Producers: Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Mark Huffam

Ø  The Revenant

Producers: Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon

Ø  Sicario

Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Edward L. McDonnell, Molly Smith

Ø  Spotlight

Producers: Michael Sugar & Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Pagon Faust

Ø  Straight Outta Compton

Producers: Ice Cube & Matt Alvarez, F. Gary Gray, Dr. Dre, Scott Bernstein

The Indies, “Brooklyn,” and esp. “Ex Machina” are really shocking as is the inclusion of “Straight Outta Compton.” This is REALLY good news of Saorise Ronan who single-handedly makes this slight film a delight, and gives an equally delightful performance. And Soarise is pronounced SHEER-sha, btw, for those who still don’t know how to say this tremendously charming twenty-year-old’s name. The EXCLUSION of “Room” makes Soarise a real threat to win Best Actress over “Room”s Brie Larson, I’m afraid. But it’s a real duel between the two young ladies now.

This announcement also helps, as I predicted earlier this week, the ever-ascending Alicia Vikander who is the robotic fulcrum of “Ex Machina.” I guess you could say Alicia is playing the title role! This makes her even more likely to land in Supporting for “Ex Machina.” and hopefully in lead, too, for “The Danish Girl.”aLICIA vIKANDER1

Good news also for “Spotlight” since it needs to recover from yesterday’s exclusion for the also-important Ace Eddie Nominations.

Baad news for the Weinstein Co. since neither “Carol” nor “The Hateful Eight” appeared here.

And even though “Star Wars:The Force Awakens” is killing it at the box-office, to put it mildly, it did not land on the Producers’ list. You’d think that any film that making the millions and billions that “Star Wars” is and is becoming a cultural phenomenon to boot, would’ve landed on this list.

Two other extravaganzas “The Martian” and “Mad Max:Fury Road” DID land.Martian 3

And adding in “Ex Machina” that makes it three sci-fi films in contention.

And it makes me think they like, they really like the sexy robot Ava of Alicia Vikander. She WILL win an Oscar ~ Category still to be determined!

 

National Board of Review Awards?!? WTF….

Mad Max1OK, so “Mad Max: Fury Road” was awarded Best Picture of 2015 by the National Board of Review. A real-head (and knee) slapper, if you ask me. However, TOMORROW we have the New York Film Critics announcing their winners, and I am so sure that “Mad Max:Fury Road” is going to be NOWHERE on their list of winners.

Who will win? Probably “Spotlight” OR maybe the powerful Hungarian film on the Holocaust “Son of Saul.”

The NYFCC realizes, fully, its’ position of the first SERIOUS awards that are being given each year. And this kind-of-up-in-the-air year where there seemed to be a very open field, may suddenly be limited to the coronation of “Spotlight,” a fine film, by a fine director Tom McCarthy and a stellar ensemble cast including last year’s Oscar snubbee Michael Keaton, ably supported by Marc Ruffalo, who has got the best,most emotional part, Rachel McAdams, ‘Mad Men’s John Slattery and Bway’s Brian D’Arcy James.

I liked it A LOT. But for some reason, I didn’t love it. It’s cold. It’s cerebral. It’s about investigative journalism, the type of which has almost gone out the window in this age of Internet Everything.It’s nostalgic for the age when Newspapers ran the world.

It’s set in the past, and it depicts it accurately. Boston in the 1980s. It’s got it down. And the writing, as you’d expect from a film about journalists and journalism, is very, very good. It’s subject is the uncovering, by these dedicated, dogged journos, of a wide-spread cover-up of child abuse within the Catholic Church. So it’s also a shocking film, too.

Neither the Gotham Awards NOR the National Board of Review are made up of press. But of course, the New York Film Critics ARE press, and so a film about journalisms’ finest hour, I think will carry the day tomorrow. Not the ridiculous “Mad Max:Fury Road.” No. That won’t happen again. Even with the Golden Globes, I don’t think so. Even THEY aren’t that silly.

The National Board of Review’s acting winners are another matter entirely. Brie Larson for Best Actress for “Room.” Yes! And I think that will be seconded by the NYFCC tomorrow. This tiny, little, Canadian/Irish, but utterly brilliant film NEEDS their stamp of approval, and I think it will get it here, honoring Larson. She looks like a winner that can’t be stopped. I certainly hope so. She deserves it. Brie Larson 2That role in “Room”of a kidnapped-and-raped-for-seven-years while she was held captive by the rapist, mom, was one of the most difficult an actress ever had to essay. It was a killer.
Matt Damon 1Matt Damon won Best Actor for “The Martian” and I think he will be nominated for the Oscar, too. And since the Golden Globes have put “The Martian” in their Musical/Comedy section, they will have to put Damon in that,too. And he could win that.

So good for Matt, and for Ridley Scott, who won Best Director for “The Martian” and I think the 77 year old Scott is going to be for sure nominated for the Oscar for his direction and his being Oscar-less so far in his long career, I think the Academy is going to award him there, too. He directed “The Gladiator” which won Best Picture, back in the day, but HE didn’t win Best Director. It went to Stephen Soderberg for “Traffic.” “The Martian” was the big winner with three awards. Or four, if you count it’s being listed in the NBR’s Top Ten List.

Who will win Best Actor from the NYFCC tomorrow? Well, there’s a little hint in the National Board’s completely ignoring “The Revenant”. The NYFCC may do the same, and I think they may give it to the astonishing, almost solo performance of Geza Rohrig as Saul in “The Son of Saul.” “Saul” might also get best director for the first time helmer Hungarian Laszlo Nemes. Although, wait a tic.

The NYFCC has a category for “Best First Film” or “Best Debut Director” and that could be Nemes.

Also Best Actor is where Eddie Redmayne could turn up for his transformative, ground-breaking performance as  “The Danish Girl.”

As for Supporting the National Board of Review’s naming of Sylvester Stallone for Best Supp. Actor for “Creed” really does help Stallone get even further into the Oscar conversation in that category for his portrayal of the aging, ailing Rocky Balboa. I think this really means he will get an Oscar nomination. And a Golden Globe nomination, too.

“Creed” is a runaway, unexpected success, and every one wants to get back on to the Rocky nostalgia train, so yes, there’s room in this category and I could certainly see Stallone’s legendary Rocky role muscling his way in. That also won Best Picture way back when, but Stallone as an actor, went un-awarded on the Big Night.

Supporting Actress for Jennifer Jason Leigh for the as yet unseen “Hateful Eight” is an unknown. This could help her. “Hateful Eight” also got a Best Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino, and this means that this Weinstein film, that the NBR saw LAST, is probably better than it looks in trailers. Another snow-bound Western? Really? I mean on top of “The Revenant”?

Well, they left “The Revenant” off their top ten list. “Spotlight” was there, but nowhere else, and also nowhere to be seen, again, was Weinsteins’ other Oscar seeker “Carol.” Which the Gothams also did not award. Though they nominated it, and gave its’ director Todd Haynes a career award.

So as I predicted the NBR, not a press organization, did not prominently award “Spotlight” whereas the Gothams gave it three awards, including Best Picture. So tomorrow with NYFCC, I am fearlessly predicting that “Spotlight,” a very, very good film that holds up journalists as its’ heroes, will shine all over the place.Spotlight2

Here are a lot of what the National Board of Review chose as their winners today.

Best Film:  Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Director:  Ridley Scott – The Martian
Best Actor:  Matt Damon – The Martian
Best Actress: Brie Larson – Room
Best Supporting Actor:  Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Best Supporting Actress:  Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Best Original Screenplay:  Quentin Tarantino – The Hateful Eight
Best Adapted Screenplay:  Drew Goddard – The Martian
Best Animated Feature:  Inside Out
Breakthrough Performance:  Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation & Jacob Tremblay – Room
Best Directorial Debut:  Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea
Best Foreign Language Film:  Son of Saul
Best Documentary:  Amy
William K. Everson Film History Award:  Cecilia De Mille Presley
Best Ensemble:  The Big Short
Spotlight Award:  Sicario, for Outstanding Collaborative Vision
NBR Freedom of Expression Award:  Beasts of No Nation & Mustang

Top Films
Bridge of Spies
Creed
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Spotlight
The Martian
Room
Sicario
Straight Outta Compton

Oscar Hallowe’en!BOO! It’s Scary Out There for a Contender

Joy1EddieandlilliIt’s Oscar Hallowe’en! Boo! Did I scare you? Not as much as some of the box-office news is scary for some of the Oscar Wannabee Contenders. “Steve Jobs” has just about died at the Box-Office. Michael Fassbender in the title role might not even get nominated! As I said before about “The Joy of Typing”(my title for “The Social Network”) who in the Academy wants to see a movie about the Internet? NO ONE.

Some Academy members don’t even HAVE a computer. You have to call them on the antiquated machine known as the telephone. Or worse, WRITE THEM A LETTER. Some don’t even have email.

They hate the Internet with a vengeance. It’s changed their world in too many ways, none of which they understand, or like (Don’t believe me? Look back at few years at “The Joy of Typing”)

Also sinking like a stone at the B.O. is, sadly, “Suffragette.” Women will love this movie. Men will hate it and the Academy as I’ve always said is made up of the SWORM. The Straight White Old Rich Men, who dominate Hollywood(and the Oscars) since the dawn of time. They’re gonna hate it, since there is NOT ONE sympathetic male in the entire movie.

And “Suffragette”s lack of relatability (to men) will sink it at the Oscars and Carrie Mulligan’s very good performance, too. Perhaps…Sad for Carrie. But good news for Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn.” “Suffragette’s lose, may be the charming, small period film’s gain. “Brooklyn” I mean. As Brit Carrie goes down with her ship, Irish Saorise will rise with hers as the token femme Celt.

A film that is also going to scare all the other contenders is the upcoming “Joy”. With Jennifer Lawrence once again being up for Best Actress for her role as a house-wife who turns into a mega-businesswoman. A single mom, at that. And if you can find it(it’s not hard. It’s everywhere now.)on the Internet, the trailer REALLY looks great for Jennifer to perhaps do it again and win a SECOND Best Actress Oscar.  She’s a star. She’s under 25. She’s box-office. It’s David O. Russell-directed(again) and it’s going to be her v. Brie Larson in “Room.” You mark my words.And strangely Brie Larson’s character is ALSO named Joy. So it’ll be Joy v. Joy at the Oscars this year in the first time in AGES since we’ve really had a race going on in that category.And that IS a joy!

Cate Blanchett’s excellent “Truth” is also tanking at the box-office so she’ll probably be nominated for her other upcoming film “Carol.” But having won so recently for “Blue Jasmine,” I don’t think they’ll give her a third Oscar this year, though Jennifer Lawrence very well may be looking at her second.

Also looking straight at a second Oscar is Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”. Based on a true story(see above^) and featured magnificently in VOGUE with Lupita N’yongo on the cover with a spread that shows his remarkable transition. Lili Elbe one of the first, if not THEE first transgender pioneer, is such a tragic figure. It may also tug at the Academy’s hard heart. I think it will. Eddie makes a beautiful girl. His performance as Lili is nothing short of incredible. He’s even better than he was in “The Theory of Everything” which he won Best Actor for last year.

NOT scaring anyone is Johnny Depp’s “Black Mass” another mis-fire. People admire his performance as Whitey Bulger, a mob informant/killer (Haven’t we seen him in this role before?Wasn’t it called “Donny Brasco”?) Critics like HIM, but not the movie and It’s not scaring up much $ either. Though “The Martian” is! And that could be our Best Picture winner, BTW. And could garner Matt Damon a nomination as Best Actor.THAT is the red elephant in the room.

Also, everyone is afraid that it just may be Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar year FINALLY. But “The Revenant” is still to be seen. I didn’t think it would be ready in time, but it looks like it is. Will the public embrace it more than “The Martian”? Hard to say. And Ridley Scott, “The Martian”s director has never won an Oscar, though his film “Gladiator” did.

So BOO! And Happy Hallowe’en, dear readers, dear cineastes! I’m BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!

Oscar hopefuls? Brie Larsen in “Room,” Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation” emerge to much Oscar Buzz post-TIFF

The WalkBeastsRoomIt’s that time of year again. Cinemas are currently just about exploding with Oscar-seeking pictures, and Oscar hopefuls among the actors’ performances abound.

Of course, there’s the “Throw-Up Movie” (otherwise known as “The Walk”) which we can just about discount. Though it opened the New York Film Festival recently, NEWS programs have been devoting SEGMENTS, ENTIRE SEGMENTS on how this movie is making people run to the Men’s Room(or the ladies’) and vomit, it’s so violently vertiginous. It’s about Phillippe Petit’s tight-rope walk between the World Trade Center Towers pre-9/11. The special effects are so graphically believable and intense that it’s making movie-goers violently ill.

And as Maurice DuBois the host of CBS Evening News in New York said on the air yesterday, “Why bother going?” (to a movie that makes you sick.)

So that automatically “x-es” out “The Walk” Oscar chances. Academy voters aren’t going to risk blowing their cookies.

Meanwhile, two other films that are very powerful and compelling are starting to screen post-TIFF, and are opening VERY soon. Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” and Cary Fukanaga’s “Beasts of No Nation.” Both are very, very good films, but they have in common two things. One, they are both tough sits. And two, they are dominated and propelled by Award-caliber performances by their two leads. Actress Brie Larson in “Room” and the powerhouse Idris Elba in “Beasts.”

I heard a lot about these movies at TIFF, but I didn’t see either there. And the Oscar buzz has been building and building, especially around Brie Larson, and deservedly so.

But just saw these great, gut-wrenching films  last night and the night before, and both can be described as harrowing. Certainly the ordeals that their lead characters  go through are horrifying in the extreme. And also, both boast superb performances by the juvenile actors in them, who also carry their pictures. Newcomers Jacob Tremblay in “Room” and Abraham Atta in “Beasts.” Will the academy nominate all FOUR of these stupendous performances? They might.

Brie Larson really jumps into the mainstream here with an extremely moving performance that the Academy will find hard to deny. It’s a role with a range unlike any other. It is a story ripped from the headlines. A young girl is kidnapped and imprisoned by a violent rapist. She is locked up in a “Room” (actually a garden shed) and repeatedly raped . This horrifying event has happened seven years before the movie starts and it is not for the weak-hearted by any means. The child Jack she has had by her captor who impregnated her, is now five years old and as played by Tremblay, is a beguiling, smart, inquisitive child. He’s the narrator and beating heart of this frightening movie.

The first half of the film is extremely claustrophobic as it takes place entirely in the “Room” and we begin to feel as trapped as the characters, Joy and Jack. How they ever survive this ordeal is truly incredible. And of course it makes you think of all the horrific, unthinkable real-life cases where this has happened. And it is interesting to note that this particular horror story has not been portrayed on-screen before.

And Brie Larson, an Indie actress new to me, did win me over with her intensely  gripping portrayal of a mother ironically named Joy. Her life force just won’t let her quit no matter how dire and unforgiving the situation. She never gives up hope that she will escape her captor and her devotion to her child is so strong and complete and her creativity in keeping her young son happy, occupied and well, despite their grimmer-than-grim circumstances is edifying, enlightening and awe-inspiring.Understated, brunette this time and with no make-up whatsoever, Larson’s is a completely vanity free performance. Kudos to Larson who is currently leading the list of Best Actress hopefuls all over the Internet and Oscarology. If you see this film, you will see why. She may be unstoppable.

Jacob Tremblay as the five-year old Jack, whose point of view the picture is told from, is equally award-worthy.What, at such a young age, he is required to do  is staggering. He is an innocent that has no concept that there is a world outside “Room” no matter how many times his mother imaginatively tells him tales about it. The Academy could nominate him in Supporting, if it really stops to think about the power and difficulty of this challenging role, especially for such a young child, in this disturbing, unforgettable indie movie. It’s bleak, but it’s power can’t be denied. I’m still thinking about it.

A completely different race is going to be run by Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation” as he battles his way to a Best Actor nomination as the terrifying, brutal war lord in “Beasts of No Nation.” The Academy caveat is this. Will they watch it?

“Beasts” is just as powerful as “Room,” as it depicts an un-named African civil war. It is  also told from the bewildered perspective of a child. Agu, the incredible Abraham Atta, is also kidnapped as Joy and by extension Jack are in “Room.” This time the abduction is by an entire band of renegade African “soldiers”. Butchers, really. Who have killed Agu’s father and brother right  in front of him and have destroyed his entire town.

“Beasts” is over-long and one of the most bloody, violent films to ever be in the Oscar conversation. It is elevated to Academy heights, by Elba’s towering performance. As his reign of terror begins to come to an end and his world falls apart around him towards the end of “Beasts”, Elba does have the requisite number of Academy-friendly acting moments as he begins to worry “Was it worth it?”

And after last year’s debacle of them NOT nominating  African-Americans Ava DeVernay and David Oyelowo for directing and starring in “Selma” respectively, they MUST nominated a person of color this year. And it could be the magnificent British black actor Idris Elba who benefits from this terrible, seemingly racist oversight.

An African war-lord in the Best Actor race? Well, didn’t Forrest Whittaker WIN a Best Actor Oscar a number of years back for playing Idi Amin?

Will Brie Larson be in the Best Actress conversation? For sure. Will Idris Elba FINALLY got an Oscar nomination? I hope so.

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