a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘End of Watch’

Jake Gyllenhaal Just Grows and Grows!

Nightcrawler 2

With his new #1 box-office smash “Nightcrawler”, Jake Gyllenhaal shows anew that he is willing to take on the riskiest of roles and stretch his range, and the public’s perception of him as a screen actor and a leading man. Never comfortable with simply the role of a movie star/action hero, “Nightcrawler” shows us that he is becoming a very fine actor indeed. An actor’s actor.One of the best. His name stands for quality.

Playing the slimiest of slime-balls, I don’t think we’ve ever seen so compelling a portrait of a bottom-feeder. His Louis Bloom is an ambulance chaser at best and simply a common thief, when we first see him in “Nightcrawler”. At the beginning of the film, which I saw at TIFF, he is seen stealing copper cables. He moves up the food chain from there, when he witnesses a car crash and sees TV video crews mercilessly filming the dying, bloody victims. He’s got a video camera, too, and thinks, “I can do that!” and does.

And of course, as he pursues his new calling, things just get worse and worse. Rather his deeds do. And the chilling thing about “Nightcrawler” is that it is more or less absolutely true. This is how those tabloid news shows get their scammy footage. So this great LA noir just reverberates with TRUTH. Sadly.

And Gyllenhaal’s massive weight loss for this character, mirrors the hungriness Bloom feels inside and out. And with the box-office bonanza this is turning out to be, the Academy can’t ignore Gyllenhaal’s frightening apt portrayal. People die and he keeps filming them. And selling his shocking, bloody footage to Renee Russo, who has never been better than she is here. As a local TV news manager, she is buying what Gyllenhaal is selling. She could reap her first Oscar nomination for this, too. In Supporting Actress, always a category, that this year more than ever is wide open.

In his last several films, Gyllenhaal has shown an impressive range and daring. Even in the sci-fi mis-fire, “Enemy”, he took on TWO roles. An academic and an actor in Toronto. In “End of Watch”, he was a good cop whose good values and heart shown through every violent scene.

“Nightcrawler” is just as violent as “End of Watch”, but is even more horrific because it shows, accurately, the ruthlessness of those profiting by exploiting that violence.

Jake the Great is turning out to be one of the best actors of his generation. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his unforgettable, doomed cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain.” and his 360 degree turn into the despicable “Nightcrawler” could very well bring him back into the Awards race again. I certainly hope it does. He deserves to be there.

“Oscar Talk” Indiewire/Hitfix ESSENTIAL listening!

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to emphasize how really ESSENTIAL and marvelously entertaining the just-returned weekly podcast “Oscar Talk” is. Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood at www.indiewire.com and Kris Tapley once of In Contention but now of www.hitfix.com really do lay it down each week with gusto, comraderie and wildly divergent generational and gender-wise and yet respectful points of view. It’s the best two-critic mana a mano chemistry I’ve seen since it was Siskel v. Ebert every week. How I miss them both!

TV has just dumbed down its’ movie coverage soooo badly in the intervening decades, and for those of you who miss “At the Movies” as much as I do, “Oscar Talk” is the next best thing. But it’s only a podcast AT THE MOMENT. But for Oscar followers like I know you all are who read this on a daily basis(and check back to see if I’m posting or not posting) “Oscar Talk” can’t be highly enough recommended.

This week, Kris was in a car accident, and hasn’t made it to NYC yet, where he, now married, is going to be for a year. So he has not seen some films that Anne was raving about like “End of Watch” the stunning cop drama with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena that is the best work of both of their careers to date. Anne wonders if they could even be part of the awards conversation this year and I vehemently say “YES! PLEASE!”

Best Actor(for Jake) is a jammed-to-the-gills category. Michael Pena might have more luck with the less jammed Supporting Actor round-up.

And talk about jammed! Both Anne and Kris were musing about the newly arrived avoirdupois of Sir Anthony Hopkins’ “Hitchcock” being jammed into the race at the last-minute by Fox Searchlight. It MUST be about Hopkins’ leading performance, that has caused the wiley Oscar Foxes’ at Fox Searchlight to go for this Leading Actor kind of gold.

They did this with Jeff Bridges and “Crazy Heart” three years ago. Another last-minute entry and HE WON! So…perhaps they feel they can do it again. Also, Anne Thompson posited that Dame Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville would be a Best Actress contender and that Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh would be Supporting.

Anne also noted that the other actresses In Contention(the name of Kris’ prior Oscar blog) “are not happy about this.” Which could mean that not only is Sir Anthony’s Sir Alfred but also Dame Helen’s Lady Hitchcock and Johansson’s Janet (Shower scene)Leigh also good enough to be nomination-worthy.

And Anne added that “Hitchcock’s relation, his love story with his wife, is a story we haven’t been told.” And this version is reverential evidently, whereas the HBO flick “The Girl” about his predatory relationship with actress Tippi Hedren is the exact opposite.

In any case, this is quickly become a MUCH more interesting season to write about with all these new developments cropping up every other minute. But if you listen to “Oscar Talk” every Friday (it pops up around 12:45pm EST) you’ll feel VERY on top of things. As Anne and Kris are.

It’s like being there! I love it!

In other news, I’ve started attending the New York Film Festival and I’ll get to that in a minute. Two films I saw already are outstanding “Casting By” a doc by Tom Donahue who did “Guest of Cindy Sherman” and “Beyond the Hills” the Roumanian nun/exorcism/lesbian movie that won its’ two unknown student leading actresses a double Best Actress Award at Cannes, beating out Marion Cotillard for “Of Rust and Bone.” I recommend both highly.

Looking forward to “Amour” coming up, and skeptical about “Life of Pi” and “Flight” the Opening and Closing Films at the NYFF. We shall see.

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