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Posts tagged ‘Coriolanus’

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Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!!!

Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!!!

I’ve never felt like I’ve ever REALLY seen Shakespeare’s Cleopatra performed right, that is until tonight when the young and beautiful actress Tiffany Baker just blew the roof off of the tiny Main Stage of the Workshop Theater on 312 West 36th Street.

I’m mentioning the name and address of the theater. It’s between 8th & 9th Avenue on the 4th floor. It’s a little tricky to find, but I found it. And I’m mentioning all this info first because, unfortunately, you are going to just have to drop all your plans for this weekend and RUN to see it quick, because there are only three performances left. Sat at 2pm and 7:30 and again on Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are at http://www.guerillashakespeare.org And the name of the play is “And to the Republic”

Time is running out to miss the birth of a star, and that star is Tiffany Baker. And Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Tiffany Baker’s performance. Firstly, that NO ONE I’ve ever seen essay this difficult part, this legendary woman of infinite variety has done it justice. Until now.

And Tiffany Baker is playing her in this kind of cobbled together mash-up of “Coriolanus”, “Julius Ceasar” and “Anthony and Cleopatra” which the neo-phyte Guerrilla Shakespeare Project is calling “And to the Republic:The Roman Plays of Shakespeare Reconstructed.”

I’m not really sure what all this reconstructing was adding up to, except it puts Cleopatra front and center of all these plays(it’s only 90 mins.) and gives the scintillating young Ms. Baker the role of the career. Or her first outstanding role, in what I hope will be an equally outstanding career. She so good as Cleopatra you’ll never be able to get her out of your head, nor will you want to.

She deserves to be Cleopatra in a full-on production of Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra.” And Shaw’s “Shakespeare and Cleopatra.” Why not?

I got the feeling after seeing Tiffany Baker’s ASTOUNDING turn as the Queen of the Nile that she could play ANYthing.

I’ve always felt Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s greatest roles for women. He just didn’t do it very much, and featured the male parts much more than he did the women. Because in those days, women weren’t allowed to be actresses, and so astonishingly the role of Cleopatra, one of the most difficult ones in the Shakespearean Canon, was originally played by a boy!

After you see Tiffany Baker, you’ll think not only could no one else play Cleopatra, but that no one else SHOULD. She’s THAT good!

Director Geordie Broadwater made the magical choice of giving Cleopatra the “Friends, Romans and Countrymen” speech here.(Also Caesar is an off-stage character. His assassination is never seen, nor is he.) That’s the famous speech that is usually intoned by Mark Anthony. But it is an electrifying moment that I’ll never forget when Ms. Baker takes the podium and profoundly DOES it.

Caesar was after all her lover. Or one of them.

She is at turns, sultry, seductive, intelligent, powerful, passionate, defiant, fierce, funny, all the adjectives that you think Cleopatra should be. With a whiskey voice that suggests Tullalah Bankhead crossed with Jacqueline Kennedy, she is royalty personified.

And this is a modern dress production. And costumer designer Lea Reeves has gone to town and given Ms. Baker the sharpest and chic-est tailored outfits to wear, as well as a red satin sheet. She looks equally ravishing in red as in black.

In the most minimal of minimalist settings(by Brooklyn Praxis), the struggling young company is well, struggling to do something new with Shakespeare, and what they’ve done this time is to afford Tiffany Baker an incredible star vehicle and I’m so glad they did!

I got to share a few stolen moments with the actress herself, who told me she was born in Detroit, but then at six moved to Jacksonville, Florida, so there is a touch of the Southern Belle in her. I see many Tennessee Williams plays ahead.

And having just graduated from NYU’s prestigious Grad Acting program with the rising star Dave Quay in her class, I really feel Tiffany Baker is in a class by herself. She totally credits her training at NYU for giving her the power, majesty and control to speak all of Cleopatra’s lines so perfectly and so memorably.

In someone so young, it is an astounding combination of artistry and technical prowess.

I can’t wait to see the next thing she’ll do! And don’t worry dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theater, I’ll keep you posted!

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As Oscar Gets Nearer & Nearer, Supporting gets more Cloudy, Not Clearer

With the Oscar Nominations getting nearer and hearer, next Tues, less than a week now, some things are getting more and more cloudy, not clearer. We seem to THINK we know who the winners are going to be(and maybe except for Best Actress) everybody may be right. Or ARE they?

Christopher Plummer is going to win Best Supporting Actor. We’ve know this since May. But who is going to be nominated alongside him? And does it really matter? Well, it matters to those of us who are Oscar-obsessed, which means YOU since you’re reading this. And moi, aussi, of course.

Yes, to Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week With Marilyn.” BUT everybody else in that category is a maybe, and this is one of the several main categories where there are going to be surprises. In the nominations. Not the winners. Or maybe the nominations will REALLY shake things up!

The suspense is killing me!

Will Jonah Hill of “Moneyball” get nominated for a mediocre performance at best? Is THAT an Academy Nomination?An “Academy Performance” No, it’s just a very big part( who is standing next to Brad Pitt) and played by an actor who we thought couldn’t do that. Even as meagerly as he did it…

Mark Harris of www.grantland.com has done a marvelous job of parsing all this as of course the great Stu Vanairsdale at www.movieline.com They both are essential reading at this point.

Mark Harris brings up the interesting “Norbit” plot-line. Arguably it was the release of “Norbit” a critically reviled low comedy right in the middle of Oscar voting that killed Eddie Murphy’s win for Supp. Actor for “Dreamgirls”. But HE was already nominated when this happened. Jonah Hill has not even been nominated YET and “Norbit”-like bomb “The Sitter” in which he stars, is playing at a theater near YOU.

Could that knock him out of contention? It could.

So could the lack of interest in “Warrior” knock Nick Nolte out in the prize-fight movie that critics raved about but no one went to see. Will the Academy Voters, so busy at this time of year, have the time to watch “Warrior” ONLY for a Supp. Male Performance possibility? Nobody’s claiming he will win this.

They’ll PROBABLY watch “Drive”. But with no SAG nomination for Albert Brooks, another comedian-turned-actor this season, and now, SHOCKINGLY no BAFTA nomination, will Brooks get left out too? Are Brooks and Jonah Hill too “samey” as they used to say in England.

WHO could replace them? Well, Armie Hammer who DID get a SAG nod for his moving turnas Leonard DiCaprio long-term lover in “J.Edgar” They will have watched “J.Edgar” Whether they like it or not is another question. ME? I LOVED it. It was on my Ten Best List.  As was “Drive” come to think of it.

Armie could benefit from “J.Edgar”s seeming lack of support in other major categories, though I do think “J.Edgar” COULD surprise,too. It’s Clint after all. Clint Eastwood. And they LOVE Clint.

So surely could Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway in “Midnight in Paris” Stoll’s beautiful, nuanced, scary performance in a film that is very likely going to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (it’s been winning that award all over the place, BFCA, Golden Globes, etc) AND Best Director, so surely could not this momentum sweep in at least ONE actor in “Midnight in Paris” gigantic, superb ensemble?

Jeff Wells, whose site www.hollywood-elsewhere.com is essential reading, too, has been going on and on about Stoll’s excellence, and how he wasn’t even AT the Golden Globes. Woody was a guaranteed no-show. They had room for Corey. But no. They didn’t.

I’m thinking that they Academy might, however. Knowing Stoll’s work for YEARS on the NY stage, I know what  a powerful, deep acting talent he has. Maybe the Academy will sense that, too. And the NEW YORK-based Academy Members who attend the theater regularly(and they all do) will know Stoll’s work too.

SOME member of the cast of “Midnight in Paris” should be honored. And if it’s anyone it’s him.

Then there’s the problem of “Extremely Loud, etc. etc.” ELAIC and the mute Max Von Sydow. He could sneak in here, too. I was at an Academy screening and he got a terrific amount of applause at the end credits when his name came up. The NY  audience I saw it with also, seemed to like it. Or liked some of it. The subject, 9/11, was not something most of these people wanted to see re-visited.

But who got the most thunderous applause for that film? Thomas Horn, the young boy who plays the lead. Now THAT would be a big surprise. And the Academy has a history of honoring children in leads in Supporting. See Hailee Steinfeld last year…And Horn surprised by winning “Best Young Actor” at the Critics Choice Awards(the BFCA) just last week.

And then there’s the always nominatable Sir Ben Kingsley in the much-liked “Hugo.”

THREE surprises in the Supp. Acting category nominations? Impossible you say. But this has been a very difficult year to predict. In some categories, and this is one of them.

And the Supporting Actress category would be blown wide open by the entrance of Vanessa Redgrave for “Coriolanus” and also, incredible as it may sound, Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike in “My Week with Marilyn.” Yes, and Dame Judi got a BAFTA nod. Vanessa did not. But the PERFORMANCE!!! TOWERING!!! And Degree of Difficulty ~ Shakespeare.

Vanessa has been nominated for NO precursor awards so far.NO-thing. Nada.Zilda. But if she did she would land like a bomb exploding all expectations so far. And if BOTH she and Dame Judi made it in. Impossible, you say? But both Redgrave and Dench are in WEINSTEIN CO. movies.

I rest my case.

More about the other categories soon

“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!

Oscar Race Changes AGAIN ~ IN A DAY! With Leo as Gay J. Edgar!

It’s now really for real November and we now really for real are in OSCAR SEASON! Yes, dear readers, dear cineastes, November is the really hot-cha month when all the good stuff  starts happening. Or not…

Like this morning I started off the day with the beauteous and beneficient Kristen Scott Thomas calling me via satellite from Paris! Oui, oui, bien sur, mes amis! That’s where KST really lives most of the times, though she is of course, thoroughly English. And guess who? Harvey Weinstein is at it again, and this time he’s decided to throw an early season opener “Sarah’s Key” that sort of blipped by unnoticed by most (I knew it was there. I just didn’t get to it. Then it was gone.) Well, he’s putting “Sarah’s Key” back into some theaters and also releasing it on DVD and so Kristen Scott was calling me at a very early hour of the morning here where I am, but for her in Par-ee it was a comfortable middle of the day, a beautiful day to hear her tell it. And you will, and see her, too, coming up on my You Tube channel www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow and also on my TV show.

The Best Actress race is really packed at the top this year already. There’s really no room with supposed locks – Meryl, Glenn Close(as a man!), Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, and Viola Davis for “The Help”. Lots of competitsh for that fifth slot. Although there’s always the Golden Globes with their ten slots and I think Kristen will fit very nicely in there. For “Sarah’s Key.” Yes, I’ll mention the name of the film again…

And meanwhile, back at the AFI opening in LA, Leonardo Di Caprio really did upend expectations with the(I knew it all along) very GAY J. Edgar, Or Gay Edgar, as I and many  people I know are calling it. Not necessarily derisively, either. This is the story that dared not speak its’ name in J. Edgar’s lifetime, and with Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, penning it. He won for “Milk.” What else COULD it be?

And Clint Eastwood has evidently told it quite while and Leo a great, great actor as well as star has never won an Oscar. Yes, ladies and gentle person’s, it’s true. And now that he’s evidently giving the performance of his career as this tormented closeted gay man of the ’30s & ’40’s. Oh, and the ‘6os and the ’70s, too, who could never come out of the closet. And neither could his supposed lover who took the name “very close friend” Clyde Tolson, here embodied by none-other than the super-hunky Winklevoss Twins themselves, Armie Hammer, and HE’S supposedly got a supporting Actor nomination in his future now, too.

So with Leo on board, I think it’s buh-bye for George O’Clooney’s Oscar hopes. He already has one. For “Syriana” for Supporting. But still…

Leo’s been nominated three times AT LEAST and never won and now it looks like with Clint Eastwood at 81 at the helm, we may finally see Leo’s Titanic Oscar ship finally pull into port…

And oh yes, the Academy has decided to honor Vanessa Redgrave, I’m not quite sure how. A dinner? A plaque? She’s already majorly in the Supporting Actress race for “Coriolanus” and now…well now, I think this is the Academy saying VOTE FOR HER! Forget her politics of the past. And let’s give her an Honorary One, or whatever it is they’re doing. And giving it to her. All her. Just her. In one Vanessa-filled night in London…well, if it’s not taking place in Hollywood itself, it really ISN’T rrrrreally official…but it’s the Academy’s way of saying “VOTE FOR HER!”

She’s 72 or 73 or 74 and her beautiful daughter Natasha died so tragically and young during the filming of “Coriolanus”…and she’s BRRRRRILLLIANT in it. And oh yes, who’s the Producer? Harvey Weinstein. Oh yes, him again. So yes, I think THAT category just got closed, today, too.

So right now King George has been de-throned by Prince Leo. And the Academy is giving Vanessa Redgrave their version of an honorary knighthood…”Sarah’s Key” is coming out AGAIN.

And “War Horse” was “sneaked” all over the country this week, and it seems people like it, they really like it.  So last week “The Descendants” was the front-runner, but now I think “War Horse” was galloped back on top.

You can see a very astute young You Tube film critic/star (y’know, like me *cough*cough*)over at www.awardsdaily.com and you can hear what he has to say about being lucky enough to have stumbled in to one of these “War Horse” sneaks…It’s a custom as old as the Academy itself. Showing a film to a surprised audience in the hinterlands…Even “Gone With the Wind” was introduced this way…”War Horse” is gonna be a tough one to beat. It’s STILL playing to sold-out houses in New York’s Lincoln Center, and it won the Tony for Best Play last year, though the writing was atrocious. I nearly left at the Intermission, but I stayed…and was amaaaazed by its’ powerful second act.

Michelle Williams Breaks Your Heart & Will Win Her First Best Actress Oscar for “My Week with Marilyn”!

I’m just rushing back from a packed, packed, packed Press Screening at the New York Film Festival this morning to rave and rave about how wonderful “My Week with Marilyn” turned out to be! Michelle Williams has just won the Oscar for Best Actress!!! She is HEARTBREAKING! And there’s so much NEW Marilyn info here. We think we know MMs story, but “My Week…” meticulously shows us that, we do not. There is more to be told And Michelle Williams! OMG! She is beautiful beyond belief, sexy, and she rips your heart out, too! It’s an Academy Award performance FOR SURE! Close the category! Nobody can top her!

And director Simon Curtis could be on his way to the Oscars,too, with this film.  It’s so good in all its’ aspects it could win Best Picture. And so could Kenneth Branagh, who’s definitely got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his future playing the egotistical, blue meany Sir Laurence Olivier, and so may Dame Judi Dench as a hilarious Dame Sybil Thorndyke, the only person on the film set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” who seems to be kind to Marilyn and sees and understands the torments she’s going  through. Dame Judi shows you that Olivier did not HAVE to behave the way he did to Marilyn. She tells him to “stop bullying her!” but of course, he does n0t and therein lies the conflict and the plot of this  spectacularly surprising, fantastically good movie.

And you just HATE Zoe Wanamaker asthe black-clad, matronly Paula Strasberg, who is Marilyn’s Method Acting coach. Paula accompanies her to England to film (true story) Olivier’s production of this Terrence Ratigan play that was a hit for him in the West End, where he played opposite his real life wife at the time Vivian Leigh. Played here by Julia Ormond, in a kind of throw away part. Wanamaker, as Strasberg, maddeningly interferes in every aspect of the production she can. Actually making things worse for the hapless Marilyn. And this is a true story, too.

IRL as he does in the film, Olivier REPLACES Leigh in the “Showgirl” role for the movie with Marilyn, hoping that she would renew him “make him feel young,” but instead Marilyn’s constant latenesses to the set and difficulty with Olivier in nearly every aspect of making this troubled , true Hollywood story , is making him feel very, very old. And draining him of every ounce of vitality he hoped he would have making this , his dream project of a movie.

And this is all true, and the fact that it is will resonate heavily with the Academy and Michelle Williams’ magnificent performance just breaks your heart, in ways that you wouldn’t think a film like this, a Hollywood biopic, could. It really is a profound story that goes beyond everything you might expect. And it’s a love story, too.

Williams and director Curtis take you SLOWLY inside Marilyn’s torment and insecurity. At the start of the film she is singing(and Williams uses her own voice to sing) one of her signature songs and we see Eddie Redmayne’s character of the Young Boy that is Colin Clark, watching her with a huge, freckled-faced smile,looking up adoringly at her in a darkened 1950s British movie house.

Then we see Clark, and his upper class family, who is shocked, SHOCKED that he wants to get a job at all, and in MOVIES. No less, and we see him worm his way into Shepperton Studios and become the third assistant director on “The Prince and the Showgirl.” This starts the movie.

Olivier is portrayed as a martinet, to say the least. And he is trying to find a way to work with Marilyn, who has no training whatsoever, but who as just discovered and embraced Method Acting and the Actor’s Studio in New York, hence her connection with Paula Strasberg, who ran it with her husband the legendary Lee Strasberg.

And the film is all about great acting, and great actors and how Olivier and Monroe are both united in their desire to do great work, but separated by the ocean of cultural differences and acting techniques.

And Olivier in the end admits that Monroe “had the greatest of instincts but no training whatsoever” and the film says that he is a great stage actor trying to be a film star and that Monroe was a great movie star trying to be a great actress. And clashes ensue.

Situated between her just-married status to playwright Arthur Miller, and before her greatest success of all time in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot”, the film’s screenplay by Adrian Hodges is witty, insightful, and doesn’t pull its’ punches when it comes time to get to the crux of the matter…Marilyn’s brief, week-long love affair with Colin Clark(Redmayne), and the heartbreak Arthur Miller AND Colin Clark are in for with Marilyn.

And Michelle Williams goes beyond herself. In the role of her career, she totally rises to the occasion and does the best work she’s ever done, in a role that on paper at least may seem impossible to play. But play it she does! She gave me goose bumps. Chills. She made me cry. In fact, she did everything that a great actress is supposed to do in a great role.

And I can’t help but feel that Marilyn herself would LOVE this intrepretation of her oft-told story.

And the Academy? Well, this wonderful film should make them all feel as guilty as hell about what happened to Marilyn in her short lifetime. AND she was never nominated for an Oscar, as Michelle Williams will surely be. The pitch perfect Branaugh and wryly hilarious and touching Dame Judi are other very possible nominations here, too, in Supporting. In a wide open category of Supporting Actress, Dench could score again in a part that is longer than the one she won for in “Shakespeare in Love”, Queen Elizabeth I. THAT part was so tiny that maybe Oscar will feel guilty about THAT, too, and Dame Judi could win over Vanessa Redgrave…who is beyond awesome in “Coriolanus.”

And Harvey?

Well, he’s got his hands full of Oscar possibilites this year. With the sure-fire “The Artist” and now this marvelous “Marilyn” and the still unseen Meryl Streep/Margaret Thatcher vehicle “The Iron Lady”, the Weinstein’s Oscar cup is running over this Awards season, which is now ON.

Just look at the Suppporting Actress possiblities he’s got. Dame Judi, Vanessa Redgrave and Berenice Bejos for “The Artist.” Will a non-Weinstein actress even have a chance?

But I do think Michelle Williams is the front-runner now. CLOSE THAT CATEGORY! All the S.W.O.R.M. that make up the Academy, the Straight White Old Rich Men will all vote for her.

This movie is sooo good it’s like a new movie starring Marilyn Monroe herself. And as always the public cannot get enough of her.

“The Envelope, Please!’

TIFF ’11 Lists, Best, Worst, Couldn’t Get In To See, etc.

So, in short form,(I hope) some TIFF lists ~

Best Film – Machine Gun Preacher

Runner-Up- The Artist, Drive, The Skin I Live In, Coriolanus

Best Actor – Gerard Butler in “Machine Gun Preacher”

Runner-ups- Ryan Gosling “Drive,” Ralph Fiennes in “Coriolanus”, Jean Dujardin “The Artist”

Best Actress – Elena Anaya “The Skin I Live In” (Pedro Almodovar’s hot new film)

Runner-Up- Tilda Swinton “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,; Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best Supporting Actor- Gerard Butler “Coriolanus”

Runner-Up – Tom Hiddleston & Simon Russell Beale in “Deep Blue Sea”, that adorable  little dog in “The Artist”

Best Supporting Actress- Vanessa Redgrave “Coriolanus”

Runner-Ups – Marisa Peredes in “The Skin I Live In”, Tammy Blanchard in “Union Square,” Berenice Bejos “The Artist”

Worst TIFF “Rendition”-like Bomb (It died in one TIFF screening) – “A Dangerous Method”

Films I Tried to See, But Couldn’t – “Shame”, “Descendants”, “Albert Nobbs”

Hoping to See Soon – “The Ides of March”

Couldn’t Care Less About Seeing – “Moneyball”

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