a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Chiwetel Ejiafor’

Racists at New York Film Critics get a taste of their own medicine

There’s something about the esteemed New York Film Critics Circle that just breeds racists incidents, like the one that happened last night, or the night before when Black Director Steve McQueen was supposedly heckled by an African-American Film Critics Circle member, who was seated WAAAY in the back, but was nevertheless overheard as has been widely reported.

I read Scott Feinberg’s balanced analysis and reporting at http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com on this latest brouhaha over “12 Years a Slave”, the masterpiece out there that is causing as much of a ruckus as “Wolf of Wall Street.” In fact, this incident is so loaded that it’s pre-emptively absorbed all the controversy that has been hounding “Wolf”. So the discussion of the awards now surrounds this horrifying Incident, and the critic in question, whose name I’m withholding, just denied to Scott Feinberg, and maybe to others, that this ever happened.

Racial slurs and the F bomb were supposedly heard all hurled at Steve McQueen. Maybe they weren’t meant to be heard by all. I wasn’t there, so I’ll give the critic-in-trouble the benefit of the doubt, though thousands wouldn’t.

It’s a sad moment once again for the New York Film Critics Circle. They started off the season by showing their true WHITE colors, by voting for that sub-par semi-moronic comedy “American Hustle” Best Picture by a vote or two over the instant classic “12 Years a Slave.” They repeated this behavior in Best Actor where Chiwetel Ejiofor to “12 Years”lost to A VERY WHITE man, Robert Redford! Who last night bored everyone silly with his acceptance speech for Best Actor. You can see a horrendous video over at http://www.goldderby.com Tedious, self-serving, entitled, and you really wanted him to shut the front door.

But I digress.

The NYFCC also closed out Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’O of “12 Years a Slave”,choosing MORE WHITE PEOPLE like Jared Leto and Jennifer Lawrence as the their Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Lawrence had the good sense not to show up, and sent a funny note.

I knew, I just KNEW, that the NYFCC was going to reap the whirlwind for shutting out “12 Years a Slave” in every category, except Best Director. But then THIS incident that I referenced above ^ had to happen!

This isn’t over yet. Their credibility on this issue – race, has severely damaged their reputation as the leading critical group they once were.

And the last laugh of this, is that it’s made Steve McQueen MUCH more sympathetic in everyone’s eyes and is going to cause him to  get MORE votes and  win MORE awards, in a very tight race. Just you watch.

He was just nominated for the DGA Award today. REALLY an honor I have to say.

McQueen acted like he didn’t hear the F-bomb and the racial slurs. Class Act. He didn’t react or acknowledge it according to Feinberg.

Sometimes I think there is really something very dark behind the awards season, and this incident certainly illustrates that maybe indeed there is.

Advertisements

Oscars Ups and Downs~ Upsom Downs? Sounds like a Racetrack!

Oscars Ups and Downs~ Upsom Downs? Sounds like a Racetrack!

So much is SOOOO close this year! One vote could make the difference, but I’m happy to see that for all of the supposed heat for “Gravity” and “American Hustle” that “12 Years A Slave” still sits atop the charts at http://www.goldderby.com. for Best Picture by a wide margin. And it’s been that way for a while. And Chiwetel Ejiofor is also now pulling way ahead of Robert Redford, whose boat seems to be sinking fast. They didn’t even send out screeners for “All Is Lost” to the SAG membership.

And Lupita Nyong’O”12 Years” and Cate Blanchett”Blue Jasmine” both sit at the top of their Supp.Actress and Best Actress categories. Tom O’Neil, the head of Gold Derby, keeps countering and denying “12 Years a Slave” constant full-on ascent. He does a particularly entertaining and funny “smack-down” Podcast with Theater Talks’ Michael Musto, who is predicting a “12 Years” sweep, and doesn’t back down. Tom O. finally says “A film directed by a Black man(Steve McQueen, in this case) has never won,” he finally admits and Michael just says coolly, “In a year of great African-American filmmaking, “The Butler”, “Fruitvale Station” as well as “12 Years a Slave” and with Obama in the White House,don’t you think it’s about time? In fact, it’s the perfect time.”

And O’Neil admits “Maybe I have blinders on.” And Musto says “Yes.” You can hear this historic(hysteric) bout of the champions, of course, as always at http://www.goldderby.com.

Also “12 Years a Slave” sits atop the Gurus o’ Gold(of which I used to be one) at http://www.moviecitynews.com

Sounds like a consensus to me. And it was also nominated yesterday by the Producer’s Guild. Later today the Writer’s Guild announces their nominees but “12 Years a Slave” great adapted script by John Ridley isn’t eligible for some arcane reason, so don’t take the WGA as any accurate Oscar barometer.

And Tuesday we have the DGA, which OF COURSE, will nominate McQueen. And then Thursday, the BAFTAS, which will nominate the daylights out of “12 YAS”, McQueen & Ejiofor are British and Michael Fassbender is Irish. So I expect “12YAS” to lead the nominations there. And the following Tuesday, we have the Oscar nominations announced and the Broadcast Film Critics the same evening. Where “12YAS” has the most nominations for any film. It’s in a false-tie with “American Hustle”, ,but they’ve piled up the “Comedy Actor” and “Comedy Actress” Awards, so I don’t really count those as legitimate.

And Jared Leto, for playing Rayon, a sweet transvestite in “Dallas Buyers Club” keeps sweeping up all the awards in the Best Supp. Actor category. Strange but true.

New York had one heck of a snowstorm last night. And today it’s FREEEEZING, but the snow has stopped. I have to go out to see a show tonight, the rarely performed Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Patience” which was their satire of Oscar Wilde. It’s WAAAAY uptown at the Symphony Space. Hope I can get there with all the snow on the ground.

Oscar Best Picture Race~Is It Really Down to Three?

New York’s just had its’ first major snowfall, Christmas is around the corner, and can the Oscar race for Best Picture be just down to three films already?

To judge by the major Oscar websites, it already seems a done deal. With “12 Years a Slave”, “Gravity” and unbelievably “American Hustle” being judged the only three that could. Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone has another great “State of the Race” piece and she sees it this way at http://www.Awardsdaily.com and so does Tom O’Neil at http://www.goldderby.com

But interestingly though they came to the same conclusions about THE THREE. Sasha has “12 Years a Slave” is on top, and Tom O. is sticking to “Gravity.” Me? I’m on Sasha’s side. And I hope that’s the way it plays out.

I saw “12 Years a Slave” for the THIRD time last night, and was bowled over by it all over again. It’s beauty.It’s musical score by Hans Zimmer. The cinematography, director Steve McQueen’s expert use of his large cast. There’s not a weak one among the vast ensemble. And the writing is so good! And it’s a true story!John Ridley is the screenwriting, based of course on the now best-selling book by Soloman Northrup. First published in 1856.

And Lupito Nyong’O and Chiwetel Ejiafor broke my heart all over again.

I can’t even imagine sitting through “American Hustle” Three times. Maybe to figure out its’ dense con artist plot within a plot within a plot. But not even Jennifer Lawrence’s hilarious mob wife would get me back a second time. There’s not enough hours left in my life.

“American Hustle” benefits greatly from being the new kid on the block as it were. “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” have been going strong since Toronto Film Festival, which is where I saw the both of them. And that’s a problem, too. Keeping the momentum going this long. Both Fox Searchlight and also Warner’s have that as a task they must fulfill.

I just  got a press release that it’s going to be re-released, though I just saw it for the third time, as I’ve said, last night. It’s made $35 million, which is no small amount of Oscar change. And the nominations are only now about to be mailed out to the membership.And of course, those all important DVD screeners.

Seeing movies on the big screen is the only way, really, to see these important films, IMHO. I saw “Her” tonight. Cute. With a small “c”. But with so many films these days being so dark and so tragic, “Her” is really a sweet, sweet love story…about a man(Joaquim Phoenix) who falls in love with his Ciri-like Operating System, voiced magnificently by the totally unseen Scarlett Johansson. It gains by comparison. It aims to be GENTLE. And it refreshingly is.

It’s a futuristic love story, but that’s all it is. Filmed in Beijing, it looks like it really HAS been shot in the future, too.

In any other year, Joaquim Phoenix’s kindly, lost, dweeb Twombly would be in the best actor race. Most of the film is ONLY shots of his face. I didn’t know if it would sustain, if he’d be that riveting, but newsflash, he is. TOTALLY different from his disturbed loner Freddie Quell from last year’s “The Master” which, yes, indeed he WAS nominated for Best Actor for. But this year Best Actor is so crowded, he hasn’t a chance to get in.

He hasn’t turned up in any of the precursor critics awards. And neither, strangely has Tom Hanks for “Saving Mr. Banks”. His Disney on Disney performance is not going down or turning up anywhere.  At least not yet.. NOBODY nominated him for this Supporting turn, whereas they ALLLLL nominated him for “Captain Phillips” as Best Lead Actor and they’ve nominated Somali newcomer Barkhad Abdi in all three major races, too. For Best Supporting Actor.

He and Daniel Bruhl  of “Rush”as well have been nominated for the SAG Award, the Golden Globe award and also the Critics choice awards, something NOBODY could have seen coming, but yet, there they are. They made the golden trifecta that you NEED to get to be nominated for an Oscar.

Oprah was left out of the Golden Globes in Best Supp. Actress for “The Butler”. So does that make her vulnerable? Or just simply unpopular with the Hollywood Foreign Press?

And Robert Redford not being nominated for a SAG award for Best Actor for “All Is Lost” is still the most shocking snub. And it WAS nominated for Best Stunt Ensemble, which is really crazy weird because HE IS the Ensemble, in this one person movie.

That, yes, can be seen as merely stunt work.And it IS incredible stunt work. For a 77-year-old man to be doing all that running (around his sinking yacht), climbing the mast, swimming with sharks…well, he’s certainly in good shape for his age. And his agility is amazing. But is that great acting? Well…

It’s also  almost totally silent.

He says one word and one word only “FUCK!!!!!” when he begins to finally sense the utter desolation of his desperate situation. IF ONLY THAT WEREN’T HIS ONLY WORD…And I thought, “Well, he’s lost the Oscar. Right there.”

In this tough field, he’ll be lucky to be nominated. And he’s not actively campaigning as the other 77-year-old in the race for Best Actor is, Bruce Dern, for “Nebraska”. He’s everywhere. In L.A. Guess he’ll be showing up in New York to pick up his National Board of Review award for Best Actor. He won that, Bruce did. And he also triumphed at the L.A. Film Critics.
But neither of them are going to win against “12 Years a Slave”s majestic powerhouse Chiwetel Ejiafor.

SAG Awards Nominations ~ Tricky or True?

So FINALLY after months and months of hot & bothered, heated & cool Awards speculation, the Screen Actors Guild Awards announced their 2013 nominations. In film, that’s five categories only, Best Actor, Actress, Supp. Actor & Supporting Actress, and Best Ensemble, which is their euphemism for Best Picture.

Since these are card-carrying actors and actresses voting for their own, and since their membership overlaps(albeit only slightly)with the Academy Voters, this is the first GUILD, and a very important and large one, to announce. And the surprises were few and far between.
Everything went almost by rote. The Best Actresses were The Locked Five everyone and his mother has been saying it would be. Blanchett, Bullock, Dench, Streep and Emma Thompson in “Blue Jasmine”, “Gravity, “Philomena”, “August:Osage County”, and “Saving Mr. Banks” respectively.

SHOCK OF THE MORNING! Robert Redford being left out for “All is Lost”! This is very important. The actors, if anyone, should’ve revered Redford, their suppossed idol, but no, their Idol has feet of clay, it turns out. There is no good way to parse this. Even though he is ASSURED a nomination tomorrow morning, when the Golden Globes announce. This weakens his possibility (even if he DOES got an Oscar nomination) of WINNING an Oscar highly unlikely, if he doesn’t have the SAG voters behind him. He really in effect lost the Oscar this morning with this announcement. I’m not kidding. It’s THAT important. Who SAG leaves out(even more than who they honor) is what is important, esp. this highly contested, congrested year.

The Hollywood Foreign Press(HFPA) however, is a different kettle of fish entirely. These are the 90 or so Foreign “Journalists” who give out the Golden Globes. Star struck to the max, to put it kindly, they will want Redford in that audience.(They announce tomorrow)

But the Screen Actor’s guild clearly doesn’t.

Maybe they just didn’t like that one-man film thing.

But they nominated Sandra Bullock for what is essentially a one-woman film thing, too, in “Gravity.” Which has made millions, whereas “All is Lost” has made nothing.

Zilch.

Another surprise was how poorly “Saving Mr. Banks” did. No Ensemble nomination and no Tom Hanks as Disney in Supporting. Instead in Supporting Actor we find the late James Gandolfini for “Nuff Said” and surprise(!) Daniel Bruhl of the Ron Howard racing film. for playing Hans Landa.

The Supporting Actor nominations were expected for Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender. The first time, let it be noted, that Fascinating Fassbender has been nominated by this august group. And finally, another delightful surprise Barkhad Abdi, the frightening Somali pirate in “Capt. Phillips.”

The fact that both Hanks as Philips himself and Abdi as his scary adversary bodes well for “Capt. Phillips” at the Oscars. The SAGS are notoriously American-centric so the inclusion of the German actor Bruhl and the Somali actor Abdi and the Irishman Fassbender is significant I think.

Supporting Actress was as expected Lupita, Oprah, June Squibb and JLaw and the inclusion of Julia Roberts(For August:Osage County), who knocked out Octavia Spenser, the winner of the Supp. Actress award by the National Board of Review. Confusing isn’t it?

Four nominations were the most and they were for my favorite film of the year “12 Years a Slave” Best Ensemble, Best Actor -Chiwetel Ejiafor, Best Supp. Actor ~ Fassbender, and Best Supp. Actress Lupita Nyong’O.

For a complete list go to http://www.hitfix.com

L. A.Film Critics also ignore “12 Years” but Award Lupita Nyong’O Best Supp.Actress

Once again. “12 Years A Slave” has been dealt a body blow in this awards’ season. The VERY influential Los Angeles Film Critics only awarded the brilliant Lupita Nyong’O, which is great news for Hollywood’s newest star, but bad news for “12 Years a Slave.” I am shocked, SHOCKED that the usually cutting-edge LA Film Crix went for “Gravity” and “Her”! In a tie! Yes! A tie!. In fact, there were three ties!

Best Picture – “Gravity” tied with “Her”.

Best Actress – Cate Blanchett tied with Adele Exarchopoulos of “Blue is the Warmest Color”

And Best Supporting actor tied :Jared Leto and James Franco for “Spring Breakers”!!!

A motley crew.

But this is a very important win for Lupita Nyong’O and congratulations to her.

But very bad news for “12 Years A Slave.” It is now officially NOT the front-runner for Best Picture anymore. I’d say “Gravity” is, if anything.

The Boston Film Critics and the New York Online Film Critics both awarded “12 Years” heavily in many categories…

Though strangely Michael Fassbender is ending up NOwhere. That’s not a good sign. And though the NYFCO and the BFC are nice to have and all that, it’s the LA Film Critics that are a one-two punch of “12 Years”, I’m sorry to say.

But looking at the all these critics awards you can see that this year’s Oscars are all over the place. Literally.

Also not turning up is Martin Scorcese’s just finished three hour “Wolf of Wall Street”. It’s still so new Jeff Wells is reporting at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com that many in Boston did not get a screener in time. Or couldn’t make a very last minute screening.

I feel just awful for “12 Years…” It’s a masterpiece and I can’t believe that it’s anything but racism animating its” exclusion. If that’s the case and even CRITICS are shying away from advocating for it. Then the award it’s likely to win is indeed Best Supporting Actress for Lupito Nyong’O. As I’ve said before, it’s the Booby Prize of the Oscars. They look at the Best Supporting Actress award rightly or wrongly as a throw away. As a less than important category and if they are not giving “12YAS” anything else, they KNOW they have to give it something and Best Supp. Actress is a place where they will feel most comfortable awarding it.

An equivalent situation occured two years, when African-American-themed box-office winner “The Help” won ONLY Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spenser.

So I do think the LA Film Critics is indicative in that case.

They also importantly gave Best Director to Alphonso Cuaron for “Gravity.” Steve McQueen, thank god, won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Director, but that was it.

Also notably absent from all of this was Tom Hanks and “Captain Phillips”. Nowhere to be seen. Sunk without a trace. Leaving that fifth Best Actor slot now open for maybe Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis” or Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station” or most likely Leonard DiCaprio for “Wolf of Wall Street.” I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but I am. “Llewyn Davis” has opened this week to doing tremendous box-office and Leo has never won an Oscar, unbelivably.

If you read Jeff Wells and Tom O’Neil over at http://www.goldderby.com , they BOTH LOVED “Wolf of Wall Street”to the max.

Cate Blanchett seems to be storming across all awards-giving bodies in Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine.” And also not registering anywhere is “Saving Mr. Banks” which I’m seeing tomorrow night.

I suffered through “Out of the Furnace” because it SEEMED Christian Bale might turn in a possibly nominatable perforrmance. But he didn’t. I didn’t see much hope for any awards for this hard-scrabble violent film.

But Emma Thompson WAS nominated for Best Actress for “Saving Mr. Banks” by the National Board of Review.

Both the NBOR AND the LA film critics gave Best Actor to Bruce Dern! For “Nebraska” And the NYFCC gave that other spry 77-year-old in the race, Robert Redford Best Actor for “All Is Lost.”

The only across the board unity seems to be Cate Blanchett in Best Actress and also, surprisingly Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” for Best Supporting Transvestite.

And Sandra Bullock has floated into outer space with nary a mention.

Independent Spirit Nominations Announced! 12 Years a Slave leads!

The Independent Spirit Awards were announced this morning, and  first of all let me congratulate, the Stephen Holt Show’s guest Melonie Diaz who received a Best Supporting Actress Nomination for “Fruitvale Station”!!! I’ll re-post her great satellite interview with me asap.

But first things first, “12 Years A Slave” dominated now as it will continue to do, I predict, for the rest of the Awards Season, with seven nominees, Best Picture, Best Director(Steve McQueen), Best Actor (Chiwetal Ejiafor), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress ( Lupita Nyong’O), Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. I’m still saying it will also win all those awards and more on Oscar Night. And certainly with the Critics Awards which start piling up on Monday with the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review on Tuesday. It’ll be like a juggernaut or a landslide. Look out!

“Nebraska” came in second, as it were, which is how most Alexander Payne films do. This bleak, small Black and White film about senior citizens in the plains states came out in the Place Place(using Tom O’Neil’s derby metaphor here http://www.goldderby.com) getting nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Screenplay (Alexander Payne), Best Actor (Bruce Dern), Best Supporting Actress(June Squibb) and the surprise here for Saturday Night Live Alum Will Forte, for Best Supporting Actor, for his sensitve, understated turn, which everyone has been ignoring heretofore, as Bruce Dern’s caring son.

For all the nominees, check out http://www.awardsdaily.com and/or Kris Tapley’s analysis at http://www.hitfix.com/incontention

I See “12 Years A Slave” for the 2nd Time! Still spellbound!

Seeing “12 Years a Slave” for the second time was quite an intense experience. It really held up. And seeing it with a paying New York  inter-racial audience was very interesting. They were spellbound to put it mildly and so was I.

It was very interesting that the audience was so mixed, which shows that it’s reaching different demographics. Which is great.  And people did gasp at some of the most horrific scenes. And they applauded wildly when for one brief intense moment Solomon Northrup breaks out of his slave role and beats the living daylights out of the horrid white overseer played by Paul Dano.

Dano is really excelling in these creepazoid, slimy roles this year, having also just been seen in “Prisoners” as a pervy offender. He’s truly hateful in “12 Years a Slave”, one of the worst characters in it.

I was so overwhelmed by Chiwetel Ejiafor as Solomon Northup, the title character, and also by Michael Fassbender’s tremendous turn as Master Epps, Solomon’s final owner, that I didn’t mention how terrific Paul Giamatti is as another noxious slave dealer who sells Solomon, who he re-names “Platt” to his first owner in the movie, the benevolent(but not so) Benedict Cumberbatch.

This is also the scene where the naked slaves are  casually displayed like livestock in Giamatti’s home. Giamatti, whom we all know as usually a genial boob, here is completely hateful as the pragmatic slave dealer, who slaps Northrup across the face so hard, you, the audience, feels it, too.

He also sells Eliza, the mother (Adepero Oduye)of two young children to Cumberbatch and splits up her family, selling her son to one person and keeping her mulatto daughter for himself. It’s horrifying.

I also never mentioned how frightening Sarah Paulson is as Mistress Epps. No Scarlett O’ Hara, she,  no fragile Southern Belle. The White women in this film as all just chillingly, matter-of-factly evil,,just as bad as their husbands, if not worse.

She is insanely jealous of her husband (Fassbender)’s seeming obsession with the beautiful Patsie, the slave, who picks so much cotton, Epps calls his “Queen of the fields”. Mistress Epps violently scratches and scars Patsie (Lupito Nyong’o)’s face in one midnite scene where a restless and bored Epps awakens his drowsy slaves in the middle of the night and has them dance for him.

The love triangle between the two Epps and Patsie was clearer to me the second time around and both Michael Fassbender and Lupito Nyong’o’s performances grew in grace and stature. Fassbender underplays Epps for most the film I realized this time. He only raises his voice and his fists and his whip when he is truly angry. And he does obsess in a very sick S&M way over Patsie. And yes, he does violently and repeatedly rape her, too.

Patsie seeks comfort and support from Mistress Shaw, a former slave who married her white plantation owner, and now is the mistress of her own domain, and has her own slaves as servants, at a very charming tea party. You also see Patsie looking at her as a role model. Could it be in the back of her mind that she might supplant Mistress Epps? Alfre Woodard is a treat in his too small role.

So much horror is piled upon horror in the masterful film directed by Steve McQueen, that the first time you see it you are so swamped by the constant brutality, the smaller incidents just get blurred into one stupefying whole. Images like Solomon screaming “help!” from his basement jail, as the camera objectively pans up to a tranquil matte shot of Washington, D.C. in 1854.One notes that the capitol dome was still under construction then. And nobody hears Solomon scream.

And when an unrecognizable Brad Pitt turns up as the scraggly bearded, white Canadian house builder Samuel Bass, you cheer his arrival. An incipient Abolitionist, he’s the cavalry riding in a the last-minute. And yes, as the title implies, there is a happy ending. And it’s Pitt. He’s also the producer of this film, which, according to director McQueen, would never have been made without him.

It also becomes clear that Fassbender and Nyong’o are going to sail to Oscar victory in their Supporting Categories. NOBODY is going to be able to touch them. Their performances are staggering, unforgettable, as is Ejiafor’s. But his Northrup is so powerful that you really do need to see it again to get all the nuances McQueen has built into their performances and into the film. Pitt and McQueen are also Oscar-bound as producer and director of this unforgettable film.

And the audience? There was a lot of audible sobbing at the end, but then when the titles coming up, thunderous applause. And this is something you never see happening with the general paying public. But applaud they did!

I’ll say it again, it’s a masterpiece of our times that you CAN NOT miss.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: