a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘EW’

Oscar’s New “It” Girls ~Jennifer Lawrence V. Jessica Chastain

When it was announced last week that one of Oscar’s “It” Girls (last year’s version), was playing a leading role and not a supporting one, and was being campaigned as such, in the still-to-be-seen “Zero Dark Thirty,” the etherally beautiful redhead Jessica Chastain herself, it sent Oscarologists scrambling like frightened chickens.

Because OF COURSE the brilliant Chastain, who was a Supporting Actress nominee last year in “The Help”(she lost to cast member Octavia Spenser) was going to turn the Best Actress race upside down and shoot to the top of everyone’s list, again sight unseen. Well, wasn’t she?

Everybody and his brother it seems is trying to topple purported front-runner for “Silver Linings Playbook”, the Weinstein Co.s Oscar “It” girl and a former nominee for Best Actress for “Winter’s Bone”, Jennifer Lawrence.

It is said the equally beautiful Lawrence is so out in front of all other contenders this year at the tender age of 22, that all we who do this are left with is trying to figure who else will be nominated, not who will win in that coveted category. Jennifer Lawrence has already won this. So say ye pundits all.

St. Ann Thompson of http://www.indirewire.com Thompson on Hollywood says that Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook” is a “slam-dunk” Lawrence also tops the Gurus o’ Gold chart by double digits. Check them out at David Poland’s http://www.moviecitynews.com. She’s Numero Uno at http://www.Goldderby.com, too  . I saw “SLP” today and I have to admit, yup, I think they might all just be right.

Light as air and paper thin as a potato chip, for all its’ background setting of manic depression and mental hospitals, “Silver Linings Playbook”s Jennifer Lawrence won me over. In spite of myself. I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t “Get” her, but now I do. She’s the new Elizabeth Taylor.

She’s an incredibly beautiful and photogenic young woman with a slammin’ body. She’s big, too, in all the right places.At 5’9′,’statuesque would be a good way of putting it. Curvaceous. And you see, she makes everyone fall in love with her. And yes, that’s a list that now includes me. Until today, an ardent anti-fan.

In “Silver Linings Playbook,” she won me over. She didn’t have me at “Hello,” but by the end of this film, she had me. She’s moving. You come to care about her. It’s her, a not the male lead “The Hangover”s Bradley Cooper, who is the emotional center of this wacky, wonky, weird film.

She’s got timing on her side,too. Oscarologists call it “momentum.”

It’s ONCE AGAIN ” a weak year for Best Actresses.” Some say the front-runner is 8-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” And even though I have just been informed that she has indeed joined SAG, the disqualification of her from SAG Award voting consideration still, unfortunately, stands.

So Jennifer Lawrence’s massive lead still endures, and she’s VERY sympathetic in SLP. She’s poignant. She’s trying to get  Cooper’s Manic Depressive mess, Patrick, to fall in love with her, and what director/writer David O. Russell is also deftly doing is trying to get the audience,the WORLD to fall in love with her damaged widow and ex-sex-addict Tiffany. And it seems to be  working. Lawrence may be crowned in February, the new Queen of Hollywood.

“Silver Linings Playbook” won the Audience Award at Toronto and also the Hamptons Film Festivals. And the Weinstein Co. is seeing this as their major Oscar contender now that “The Master” has pretty much tanked all over the place.

The release date says everything about an Oscar seeking film. And Harvey Weinstein knows how to position his fillies JUST RIGHT. I thought that “The Master”s early Sept. bow was odd, to say the least.

And the still unseen “Django Unchained” is opening strangely late. On Christmas Day, no less. For a Quentin Tarantino civil war/revenge tale with a great deal of gore in store, that seems a bit late, too. And a bit odd.

But HW placed “Silver Linings Playbook” just right. Right in the middle of Oscar season’s Phase One. Which is RIGHT NOW. That should have told us everything. In fact, TWC has even moved its’ release date one week earlier. To NEXT week. And then it’s going wide. VERY wide.

In the end “Silver Linings Playbook” is a Rom Com. A very well done and starrily cast rom-com with Robert DeNiro,  even, as the hero’s OCD Dad. And it’s not much more than that. And it’s the old Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl story. Comedies and comedic performances like Lawrence’s don’t usually get the gold. Soubrettes don’t win Oscars. Or do they?

So therefore someone with gravitas, like the Juilliard-trained Jessica Chastain, it is thought, could sneak in with a last-minute serious role in a drama. Anthony Breznican, the new Oscar Analyst at EW, puts Jessica first and she’s even *gasp* on the COVER of their upcoming Holiday Preview Issue. And so is “Les Mis” and Bilbo Baggins and  Abraham Lincoln and Santa Claus.

So gentlemen, it looks like we have a contest brewing for Bactress.

Chastain’s the CIA operative, who for ten years drives the hunt to find and kill Osama Ben Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” is the code name for this operation. And Katherine Bigelow, the first female director to ever have won an Oscar (for “The Hurt Locker” three years ago), is helming it. Marc Boal of “The Hurt Locker” did the screenplay and it’s film editor, is the same film editor who just edited “Argo” so stirringly. Is that good or bad? The trailers look AWFULLY similar to “Argo”s and in them Chastain utters not ONE WORD. Er,….Are they hiding something? Saving the best for last?

So of course this news is giving Oscarologists pause. Chastain was in a staggering SEVEN films last year. And her range is thought to be limitless. I have never seen her be anything less than brilliant.

Until last night when I saw “The Heiress” on Broadway and the role of the spinterish, repressed Catherine Sloper, defeated her roundly in the first act. Chastain, like Lawrence, is a great beauty, and both Chastain and Lawrence are well on their way to being screen legends.

Lawrence, in “The Hunger Games” raked in a total of something like $400 million this year, quite a feat for a franchise anchored on a woman.

But I just couldn’t buy Chastain as homely and socially awkward in the first act in the worst wig I’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage.”The Heiress” Act I was like a bad sitcom.

Cherry Jones on Bway in ’95 (she won a Tony) and Olivia de Havilland in the classic movie (she won an Oscar ) were too clearly in my mind. They really SEEMED plain. They weren’t ACTING plain. Plain is something you can’t act anyway. But in “The Heiress” Jessica Chastain unfortunately tries to do so. And that wig makes her look like a white Topsy.

However in the second act, when Catherine begins to transform, Chastain changes into a better wig, which helped her  step up her game and passably helped her redeem herself. But only just. She was totally believable by the chilling end of “The Heiress.”

Two time Tony Winner Judith Ivey stole the show as the pitty-pattiest of Aunts. And director Moises Kaufman’s all-over-the map direction directed everybody except Ivey in the wrong direction. Ivey had the Henry James style right and showed up everyone else as hollow or misguided.

Chastain also had no help at all from the men on stage with her, the usually reliable David Strathairn and the all-but-invisible “Downtown Abbey”s Dan Stevens. Strathairn seemed to be trying to make the necessary ogre of Catherine’s father, Dr. Sloper into someone nice and warm, almost like a tea-cozy. And Dan Stevens seemed to disappear into the furniture every time he appeared to enter .

On screen, Sir Ralph Richardson, in his greatest screen performance,, was frightening beyond belief as one of the most monstrous fathers in cinema history. And Montgomery Clift, in his movie debut, was unforgettable as the wastrel suitor, Morris Townsend. IOW, Chastain couldn’t carry his rangey leading role. Or did so just by the skin of her beautiful teeth.

Will her role in “Zero Dark Thirty” be strong enough to upset Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar Love Fest? Will dark drama trump light comedy?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EW’s Oscar Issue ~ SO Three Weeks ago!

Parsing EW’s formerly reliable Oscar issue, which just hit the stands…It’s “frontrunners” are sooo three weeks ago. Which is about the time their Oscar Race issue came out, with, prematurely, VERY prematurely George Clooney & Viola Davis pictured as though they were getting out of a limo, both looking as though they both have already won.

Now it’s a couple of issues later, or more, and they are STILL sticking by their three weeks previous frontrunners. George Clooney and Viola Davis, and The Artist and Michel Hazanaviscius, for picture and director, which I think is right, whereas Clooney has been replaced by the SAG win of Jean Dujardin.

Clooney’s stock is sinking like a stone, and so is “The Descendants” a helluva depressing movie, BTW. But of course, EW, having had to “go to bed”, as it is still called in the print media, (yeah, remember THEM?) has its’ Oscar choices frozen as it were in time. And once again, they have to stand by their “Oscar Race” issue cover stars Clooney and Davis. I knew AT LEAST one of them wasn’t going to win.

But even Tom O’Neil at www.goldderby.com had to admit that Jean Dujardin is taking over the lead.  And EW’s Oscar God Dave Karger admitted to Tom in a video on Gold Derby, or was it in a podcast with Scott Feinberg of www.hollywoodreporter.com

that he was “almost ready to switch” to Jean Dujardin.

There’s also an HI-larious nearly hour-long four-way video, where Editor O’Neil literally falls asleep in the middle of his own broadcast. Lolol…I’m not kidding.

He’s got two young reporters broadcasting it seems from Australia, one Rob Licuria is a father,with an enfant constantly trying to grab his attention, and who is also a lawyer down under. One, Chris Beecham, who seems to be a radio guy from Mississippi, and the third a “moderator,” also a young Australian running things. And Tom, in Hwood, presumably, falling asleep at the wheel, half way through. I couldn’t believe he’d let that go public. Maybe it’s gone now. He should take that down.

As Tom is the only one of the four operating out of Hwood, and he, being the grand-daddy of all Oscarologists, you’d THINK he could’ve at least managed to stay awake through his own SHOW. Embarassing. And it makes you wonder. If this year’s final lap around the Oscar Derby Racetrack, is making its’ creator snooze, what is it doing to the public?

Well, I guess the consensus is that Best Picture, Best Director and the two Supporting categories…Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer, are all locked up for good. It only remains volatile in the Best Actor and Actress races.

And volatile = interesting.

And in the number #2 slot in the EW issue, there is a HUGE more-than-a- page lay-out and I mean lay-out of Michelle Williams in her Marilyn mode. Stunning, sumptuous color photo and stuck WAAAY on the side of Michelle, in, I guess, EW’s version of 3rd Place, is Meryl Streep! Hmmm….that’s interesting. So EW now thinks it’s Davis, Williams and Streep in that order….Hmmm…

It’s a very tight race between those three women and upsets in tight races do occur. I still have hopes for Michelle winning the BAFTA next weekend and then bringing her win stateside to triumph at the Oscars. If it’s Viola Davis, or Meryl, I’ll have to admit that that woman now has the late-day advantage that BAFTA sometimes bestows on a tight race. Like the year when the unknown French actress Marion Cotillard triumped of Brit icon Julie Christie.

And Best Actor? Well, in the #2 spot EW has Jean Dujardin jumping for joy, in a very funny pic, that also, like Michelle’s, takes up a page and a half. And Gawgeous George is in #1.

EW and Oscar God Dave Karger take note. I think you should’ve switched those two. But ah! It’s tooo late now. The issue is already on the stands but it’s always a little off, historically.

And so it is again this year. For Jean Dujardin to win at the SAGS is just phenomenal. And if he also wins at the BAFTAS, like Marion did for “La Vie En Rose” fawgeddabowdit!

How do you say that in French? Voila, c’est fini!

Oscar God Dave Karger of EW speaks out!

Well, my own personal choice for Oscar God, Dave Karger, is speaking out all over the place. He’s turning up on www.goldderby.com chatting with Tom O’Neil about Best Picture and Director and he’s on a podcast at the Hollywood Reporter talking about A LOT of things Oscar with Scott Feinberg www.thehollywoodreporter.com

Thx to poster Sia for sending me their podcast which was very interesting. Until it kept disconnecting itself. Grrr…but I got most of it. It was fascinating.

OGDave, ever polite, to both Feinberg and O’Neil and always measured in his responses, has to, in the back of everything, justify that OUTrageous gaffe of a cover Oscar Race issue of EW, a couple of weeks back, with George Clooney and Viola Davis looking and acting like they already won! What nerve! And how precipitous if not downright presumptive of them both, and of  course, EW, too. And of course, comes the Globes this past Sunday and Meryl Streep wins! George does, too, but ouch! For Viola losing, and making that cover invalid! Just, OUCH!

I think neither of them are going to win. George already has an Oscar and even O’Neil in ANOTHER Skype-like podcast(yes, with pictures) admits that he thought Le Clooney’s speech was more like Le Clown-ey. “Missed opportunities! Missed opportunities!” O’Neil said that also about presumptive Supp. Actress winner Octavia Spencer. “It was a list! It was just a LIST” bemoaned Our Tom. And of course, he’s right.

Tom thinks like I do that Michelle Williams is the upset winner and Dave Karger, in his podcast with Scott Feinberg even admitted that “in the case of a close vote, there can be a split, and a third party gets through.” He was saying this to Feinberg in relation to Viola Davis winning the BFCA and Meryl winning, the much more highly viewed Golden Globes, on NBC.

Our Dave was sweating a little there, I thought. And it’s all very interesting, because these men, live and breathe Oscar, well, just like you and me, dear readers, dear cineastes.

Tom O’Neil created this whole Internet Oscar game we are all now so invested in. And Dave Karger is certainly one of the best. Dave and I and also, possibly, Anne Thompson www.indiewire.com

last year were the only ones standing by “The King’s Speech” and our conviction that is was going to win and win BIG was not the popular choice at this time last year.

Tom, and Scott both ask Dave if he thinks that “The Artist” is still way out in front, and Dave says “Yes, it is.” End of story. It’s a “Slumdog Millionaire” slam dunk. But Dave hedges to both Tom and Scott that he doesn’t think it’s going to “sweep the guilds like ‘The King’s Speech’ did last year, where it won everything.”

He’s talking about the upcoming PGA, which is when SUDDENLY TKS started winning everything. That was such an exciting day for me!The PGA is the Producer’s Guild and they announce this Sunday, I think.

I was fortunate enough to have gotten to Colin Firth AND Tom Hooper FIRST at the Toronto Film Festival  Sept. 2010, and told them the Oscar news as I saw it,  which is when Tom named me “The Oscar Messenger,” and the name, as you all know stuck, and I was right! He won! And so did “The King’s Speech!”

And yes, I agree with Dave that “The Artist” is going to win Best Picture, and he doesn’t really see anything stopping it, unless “Tate Taylor(“The Help”) gets a Best Director nomination,” which would be coming from the VERY exclusive Director’s Branch of the Academy. I don’t see that happening.

Tom brings up the chance that Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” could upset everything, and Dave literally pooh-poohs that onscreen, in the politest way possible, of course. Dave is nothing if not a gentleman.

When pressed by Scott Feinberg about Supporting Actor, he gets Dave to admit “it’s all over the map,” (except for Christopher Plummer winning) which is what I posted yesterday. Were they reading my blog? I hope so. Let it also be said that despite our violent dispute over Melissa Leo last year, Scott was an always agreeable and friendly presence on the awards circuit. And so far he’s the only one who has been nice enough to link to this blog. Again, thank you, Scott, for that.

But now with his new job at The Hollywood Reporter as THEIR Oscar guy with “The Race” and “Feinberg and Friends,” which is where the podcast I’m speaking of was located, he’s like a steam roller in his enthusiasm and energy and STATISTICS about the Oscar race. He’s very young, not long out of college, if truth be told, and so last year OF COURSE he was going to side with “The Joy of Typing.” It was about the Internet! Of course, it was going to win!

And I always countered with the fact that a large portion of Academy are barely online. Hence their WTF reaction to it.

The stuttering King of England, now THAT they could understand!

Tom keeps Dave and his conversation limited to Best Picture and Best Director and will probably cover the other categories before the Nomination Morning of Tues. Jan. 24.  But I thought one of the most interesting observations of Dave’s was to Tom, about Best Director, that Martin Scorcese won too recently (for “The Departed”) to win again for “Hugo” as he did on Sunday at the Globes.

And Dave does emphasize that the Broadcast Film Critics AND the Globes’ HFPA have NOTHING to do with the Academy, as I’ve been saying all along. They are PRESS. And NONE of those people are Academy Members.

Compassionate Dave seems to listen to all  the members of the Academy that he can. Whereas I think Scott, because he’s so young himself, listens to people his own age. Most of whom are NOT members of AMPAS, and if they are they are in the minority.

I myself here in NYC do not sense any kind of overwhelming love for “The Help” which Scott and Dave(that cover again) and to a lesser extent Tom said they feel ~ out in L.A. It’s a different world out there, granted. But here, if I had to say anything could surprise “The Artist”, it’s “Midnight in Paris.” I keep hearing how much everyone LOVES it here. And I hear that LOVE expressed about “The Artist,” too.

And one of the most interesting things Dave says about “The Bridesmaid” topic(it keeps turning up like the proverbial bad penny) is that he thinks Kristen Wiig is going to get a screenplay nomination and that “If anyone can upset Octavia Spencer in Supporting Actress, it’s Melissa McCarthy”!!!! From “Bridesmaids”!!!

I don’t think, and Stu Van Airsdale of www.movieline.com thinks that she’s even going to get nominated.

And on another note, Glenn Close had an hour-long interview about her career on PBS. And when they showed a clip of her as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard”, it just took my breathe away at how wonderful she was in was probably her finest hour. Now if only they’d make THAT into a movie! She won the Tony for that too, in a walk, and she deserved it.

Golden Globes Winners! “The Artist”! Jean Dujardin! Michelle Williams!

The Golden Globes SUDDENLY came alive in the last half hour when the big awards were given out, and “The Artist” won Best Comedy/Musical and Best Actor Jean Dujardin! Michelle Williams also won Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for her beautiful performance as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn.”

Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Co. had a very big night because all these films were his! And Meryl Streep won for Best Actress for “The Iron Lady.” Which was also a TWC movie!

I was DEEEE-lighted with Jean Dujardin’s win and his absolutely disarming,charming, funny acceptance speech in his heavily French-accented English. He had a written speech on a small piece of paper that he referred to so that he didn’t say something in French that the public might not understand, then he ended with saying he was going to quote Douglas Fairbanks and then did it IN SILENCE! Mouthing the words, then winking at the audience and flexing his muscle as Fairbanks certainly would’ve! He brought down the house! Some people thought he, too, was being bleeped, but NO, he was MIMING! HI-larious!

Ludovic Bource who won for Best Score for “The Artist” began his acceptance speech with “I’m French” then also read from a small white piece of paper.

Thomas Langham, the producer of “The Artist”, who accepted the Best Musical/Comedy, referenced his late father, French cinema great Claude Berri.

“Midnight in Paris” won Best Screenplay and of course Woody Allen was not there to accept. So that’s all it got…

So all in all, it was a very French night at the Golden Globes, or l’Orbs d’Or.I think.

And I was actually glad that Meryl Streep won for Best Actress in a Drama. If only for her breaking that AwardsQuartetLockstep that has made the Oscars, etc. SO DULL and PREDICTABLE the past two years.  IOW, after this you can’t say that the same FOUR people keep winning over and over and over. And it renders that infamously EARLY EW cover INACCURATE! How embarrassing!

At least Meryl’s win was a surprise, especially to her. She forgot her glasses! We also saw some one, her husband, I guess, finding the glasses, and was trying to hand them to one celebrity after another as everyone tried to pass them to Meryl on the stage,and I guess said something unprintable, because a large portion of her speech, got bleeped! One would only expect that to happen to Ricky Gervais. For the record, I think Meryl’s glasses only made it up to David Fincher’s table.

Ricky, bless his heart, was back. But in a much milder form than last year. These awards shows can get so DULL that one really does welcome his irreverence. The most shocking thing he did was mentioning Melissa McCarthy’s “defecating in a sink” in “Bridesmaids” and then she had to come out immediately after to present an award, and she looked like she was in tears!

That pretty much kills her Oscar chances except for the fact that the Academy’s Voting Members had to have their nominations ballots in by Friday at 5pm. So IOW whatever happens on the Globes is sort of irrelevant as far as influencing the Oscar nominations are concerned. These awards could influence the AWARDS themselves which are more than a month and a half away! Oy vay!

The Globes also help to remind Oscarologists of just who got nominated for what in the Supporting categories, which are more confusing than ever this year. But the winners were the same. Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”, which happened right at the beginning of the show. And Octavia Spencer for “The Help” which also happened at the BFCA. Best Actress winner of that night Viola Davis did not repeat.

And I guess the Hollywood Foreign Press didn’t like “The Help” as much as the American critics group did. Since Spencer’s win was the only award “The Help” got.

Meryl really did give a glorious acceptance speech, however, and utterly charmed me into her corner.

And Harvey W. having both Michelle AND Meryl!! He looked VERY happy!But not as happy as Jean Dujardin looked!

Michelle was very demure and not Marilyn-esque at all, starting with
“I’m a Mom” and going on and on for most of her speech about her daughter (by the late Heath Ledger.) She didn’t mention Matilda by name, but it was moving nonetheless.

Williams only referenced Marilyn once, and of course, that is the clip all the news shows are using, saying that it was “a great honor to accept this award that Marilyn Monroe won sixty years ago.” Wow!

Martin Scorsese won Best Director something I don’t think he expected for “Hugo.” He also seemed unprepared and was just rattling off an INCREDIBLY long laundry list of names, but I’m glad he did get Thelma Schoonmaker, his legendary editor, in there at the end.

“The Descendants” got two awards George Clooney for Best Actor Drama, who seemed tired. And hence boring. And it also got “Best Picture” Drama. Clooney looked defeated as he had witnessed Jean Dujardin wowing the crowd only moments earlier.

Jean Dujardin looked soooo genuinely happy, it was infectious! It was genuine delight, like the movie “The Artist” is…

And it reminded the audience that if they loved the movie it was mainly Dujardin’s great performance that made it so funny and memorable and yes, moving. He made you CARE about George Valentine, and then when it won Best Picture he brought Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier that all but steals the movie out from under everyone, and Uggie upstaged EVERYone AGAIN, by jumping up and down and the audience let out a collective “Awwww!” and laughed and applauded.

Just as I think they will on Oscar night!

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!

Melissa Leo’s Self-Bought Oscar Ads=Career Suicide?

Oh, no, she didn’t!

Yes, she did.

Supporting Actress frontrunner Melissa Leo has just taken out a considerable amount of personal ads for herself in Hollywood Trade Papers and on movie news sites like “Deadline:Hollywood” where she talked to their Pete Hammond and basically blindsided Paramount, then slammed them(specifically studio execs and publicists) to Hammond for her not landing on magazine covers at this crucial time of the year.

You can read the entire run-down and blow-by-blow history of what Melissa just did to her almost assured Oscar win (she won the Golden Globe, the Broadcast Film Critics and the Screen Actors Guild Award)at www.deadlinehollywood.com and the article is entitled “Melissa Leo Goes Rogue with her own Oscar ad campaign.)

Pete Hammond in a very well researched piece runs down the history of actors who have done this and upon re-reading it, I noticed that not one of these results in an Oscar win. Nominations, yes. But not a win.

But Melissa already HAD the nomination.

And she says she “discussed it with my management” and I can’t imagine her manager, Jason Weinberg, who is considered one of the best in the business, letting her do this. But perhaps he couldn’t stop the determined fire-brand.

I knew Melissa when she was young and a great beauty, and a fiery red-head and ALREADY, I thought, a great actress. And she still is. She’s just grown and grown. But she’s 50 now and quite brilliant, but over-the-top in “The Fighter” as Alice Ecklund, the monstrous manager mom with an innumerable brood of bruising offspring, including fighters Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

It’s considered, FYI, by the Academy, who is sometimes very prim and proper about these delicate issues of acting nominees advertising themselves, it’s considered bad form.

It’s not illegal, according to their rules, but it’s just- well- not done.

And I don’t think it’s EVER been done by someone who already has a stash of precursor awards already on her shelf.

Why why why did she do this? And THEN knock Paramount, who has taken out TV ads, very expensively,  which highlight her performance and Christian Bale’s?

And blind side them, and then knock Paramount and Relativity Media and their publicists to NICKI FINKE?????

I guess, as I re-read the article that her management just couldn’t stop her or thought that it wouldn’t matter. But she just lost ALLLLL of Paramount’s substantial studio support in terms of their AMPAS members voting for her and that ESPECIALLY includes their publicists, who are probably FURIOUS about this, to them, seeming betrayal. And all these people are probably voting members of the Academy.

Not smart.

And perhaps fatal.

A few votes in a four way Oscar category that is now blown wide open by this, a few votes this way or that  could go to her OTHER Paramount Supporting Actress nominees, Amy Adams, also for “The Fighter” and Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit.”

At Movieline, with their funny, interesting Oscar graphs, www.movieline.com

I was surprised to find Melissa and Hailee Steinfeld listed as a TIE!?!

Everyone thought she was a front-runner, except Melissa herself.

I noticed she wasn’t on the cover of Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar Issue. It had a banner across the top which contained YES! Amy Adams AND Hailee Steinfeld AND Natalie Portman, but no Melissa!!!!

THEN, on the cover of Vanity Fair’s always much-hyped and extremely popular Hollywood(read Oscar issue) once again, Melissa is no where to be found. But visible, past the first fold, is an unrecognizable Jennifer Lawrence, who is nominated for(but doesn’t deserve it)”Winter’s Bone” as Best Actress, then also-rans Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde and then on the third fold, Rashida Jones(WHO????) and finally right on the edge and about to fall off Noomi Rapace in a dazzling purple gown, when everyone else is wearing black and white.

But no Melissa.

Also on the inside I couldn’t easily find her, although there were plenty o’ Oscar nominees VERY beautifully photographed. Colin Firth, for instance, driving a car, in a beautiful color-desatureated  Cary Grant close-up, with the caption “The King of Pain” There’s full-page, distinguished-looking CU, too of a bearded but cleaned-up Christian Bale called “The Shape Shifter” and a full-color close-up shot of an embracing HAILEE STEINFELD and Elle Fanning entitled “The Old Souls”, and entire article on Mark Walhberg with pictures. many pictures, but NO MELISSA ANYWHERE!

That, coupled with this weekend’s coming BAFTA awards in London, where Melissa was famously snubbed, but Amy Adams and Hailee Steinfeld made it in, probably sent Melissa over the edge and into her “rogue”(Nicki Finke’s word) mentality, to do this…

Amy Adams, in must be said, is also not pictured, in VF. That I could easily find. And it is Amy Adams who gets the first layout and two page color spread in “Entertainment Weekly” in the Best Supporting Actress section of their Oscar issue.

These exclusions and magazine placements send coded messages to the Academy like “THESE are the stars.” and these other are not…

And David Karger of EW, who if Sasha Stone is my Oscar Goddess, then Dave is my Oscar God, has switched his Best Supporting Actress pick from Melissa to Hailee Steinfeld!

Uh, oh…

And at the BAFTA Helena Bonham-Carter will win in the Best Supporting Actress category for “The King’s Speech”(it;s expected to sweep all 16 categories that it’s nominated in) and she WILL make a moving, funny, quirky acceptance speech( a la Tilda Swinto) that will be televised and You Tube-ed round the world. Helena is the one to beat in this category, IMHO. Not Hailee, Not Amy. And Melissa isn’t even nominated. (and how many times have I typed Hailee Steinfeld, in the article, and I CAN’T STAND HER. What’s happening to me?)

And I just wish Melissa had not done this. She didn’t need to.

But with three strong competitors in Supporting Actress, Amy Adams in her own movie, Hailee Steinfeld and Helena Bonham-Carter, Melissa has done herself a great disservice.

Oh, Melissa, what have you done? You don’t bite the hand that hypes you.

DGA and SAG awards this weekend. NYC buried in MORE SNOW!

What follows up the Oscar Nominations in this the first Awards Season of my blog? SNOW, SNOW, and more SNOW!

It’s not snowing at the moment but there are traces of flurries here and there. It just never seems to STOP snowing! I’ve never seen a January like this! And it’s not over yet! There may be more coming this weekend.

It’s lovely to look at and a great excuse for not going out. Then the dreaded CABIN FEVER sets in!

And you do go out. I had a dentist appointment at a relatively distant location yesterday (but still in Manhattan) and I fell down FOUR times crossing the various street corners which have been plowed or rather NOT been plowed.

The Mayor got the streets plowed this time. But then the snow gets piled PARTICULARLY high on the street corners. And then the sun came out and you were dealing with piles of slush and I did not have the right footwear for this weather! So I was soaked from the ankles down. Shoes and socks were like walking, clinging puddles, they were so thoroughly wet-through.

Moral: Always carry AN EXTRA PAIR OF SOCKS, OR TWO, when going on these marathon treks!

The dentists almost didn’t want to go through with the procedure I was in such a state when I arrived, but they checked my blood pressure and my temperature and everything was shockingly normal, so we all decided to go ahead with it.

I was not wearing gloves (which were in my pocket, d’oh) when I kept falling over, so I was basically putting my bare hands into mountains of  snow, but as shockingly cold as each of these snow grabs were, my hands came up clean! Like I had just washed them!

Another NYC  lesson- take the SUBWAYS not the buses in weather like this.

Today was much better as it was relatively mild and the snow was even more plowed than yesterday and a lot of it had melted. Wednesday night, it went from rain, to snow, to sleet, all within a half hour’s journey.

But New Yorkers are very hardy and the dentists’ waiting area was PACKED yesterday! Nobody, it seemed was missing their appointments!

So, yes, after all the anticipation and hype surrounding the Big Reveal of the Oscar nominations, it’s been pretty much of a lull. The quiet before the storm of Awards this weekend will bring.

The DGA awards which are the Directors Guild, are expected to go with David Fincher for “The Joy of Typing.” It seems pretty much a foregone conclusion. But wait! Sasha Stone, our resident Oscar Goddess, has switched her prediction to TOM HOOPER, the amiable, young director of “The King’s Speech”!?!?! Has momentum shifted as much as I think it has?!? I couldn’t believe Sasha was saying that, but she LIVES in LA, and is like the Oracle of Delphi, and very adamant, and controversially so, this year about TJOT.

So this shift, and her defection for the Gurus o’ Gold, or rather, her abstaining…is well, startling…But Sasha knows what she knows, and being as she herself puts it “in the middle of the maze” I do listen to her…Although this year, I always thought it was “The King’s Speech” right out of Toronto, as all you reading this blog all know.

And Sasha was beyond zealous in her advocating for That Other Movie.

One thing is certain. All season long we AGREED on Colin Firth for Best Actor for “The King’s Speech.”

Now this tectonic(sp?) shift that occurred on Sunday-to-Tuesday morning, with “The King’s Speech” winning the PGA(producer’s guild) in a Awards season shocker. Then it getting 12 Oscar nominations, more than any other film on Tuesday morning, sure shook things up in Bloggerland. But it was something I’ve known all along.

“The King’s Speech” is an EXTRAORDINARY movie. In every aspect. I couldn’t BELIEVE I was being moved so profoundly by a story that on the surface wouldn’t be something that would’ve affected me, and audiences all over the world, like it has been doing. But it does!

Me, I think Tom Hooper’s a bloody genius. And if “The King’s Speech” is going to win Best Picture, as it seems now, it MIGHT, then Hooper should be named Best Director by the DGA.

Hooper also directed the Award-winning TV mini-series a couple of season’s back “John Adams” starring my faves Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti. I really must get a hold of it and see that. Paul and Laura both won Emmys. Hooper directs actors to award-winning performances.

And you know what that means? Actors LOVE him! And Actors are the largest branch of the Academy.

The Director’s Guild is however, a breed apart. When I was predicting the Oscars on my TV show, I shied away from the Best Directors category, because I always found the Directors, en masse, a difficult body to figure out.

By my sites, Tom Hooper is the Best Director of the Year and OMG! Colin’s performance as the stuttering King George VI is, as I told him on my show, “one of the great screen performances.’ And it is! Colin has won just about EVERY SINGLE MAJOR award so far this season.

And then we have the SAG Awards on Sunday night. One of the bothersome things about the DGA is that they don’t start til 8pm West Coast time and the Best Feature Film Director is given out dead last, at around 2AM EST, OR LATER.

Usually, I just pack it in, and wake up to whatever the news may be, on Sunday morning.

Now the SAGS are broadcast(check your local listings) at start at 5pm PST and that’s 8pm here. So it’s easier to do.

Are the SAME FOUR ACTORS going to continue their lock-step to the podium, as Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock,  Christophe Walsh, and Mo’nique did last year? If so then we’ll see Colin and Natalie and then Christian Bale and Melissa Leo triumph. But I wonder…

I still maintain that Bale isn’t well liked in the business and Melissa Leo hasn’t gone head-to-head with that monstrosity muppet Hailee Steinfeld yet. And Steinfeld could win here….The buzz is swirling around her. And the buzzards of Hollywood are too.

I don’t get it…but…there it is…

And for Best Ensemble? Which is the SAG equivalent of Best Picture? It’s either “The King’s Speech” or some think “The Fighter.”

EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of SAG, who’s paid their annual dues, can vote in this contest, that a HUGE voting body, and “The King’s Speech” and “The Joy of Typing” are the only two movies sent to EVERY SINGLE MEMBER as a DVD screener.

And if Colin Firth is an actor’s actor, then “The King’s Speech” could very well be considered an Actors’ Actor of a movie. And so…on Sunday…the winner is…Well, it’s probably NOT the “Joy of Typing”. Even Dave Karger at EW www.ew.com.

says it’s either TKS or “The Fighter” but he’s not hearing “The Joy of Typing.”

If “The King’s Speech” wins Best Ensemble and Tom Hooper wins the DGA, it really is all over already. And all I can say is Long Live the King!

And of course, check out the detailed results on www.awardsdaily.com

I wish Sasha and I were in agreement on what we consider the best film of the year, and most years we have been, but not, sadly, this year. But that’s what makes horse races. Which is what the Oscar race is, let’s face it.

The New York Times, EW & their Oscar advocacy

I can’t put up the Michelle Williams article. Yet. Technical difficulties.

But I DO think that Michelle will get nominated. And David Karger of EW agrees with me. He has her in his USUALLY tremendously accurate Oscar nomination predictions. For Best Actress. David Karger, for those who don’t follow all this OSCAR stuff as closely as I or Harvey Weinstein do, is Entertainment Weekly’s go-to guy for Oscar reporting, and he’s pretty astute. One of the best, if you ask me, and of course, you ARE asking me because YOU’RE READING THIS.

And meanwhile they’ve(EW), they’ve  got Natalie Portman looking seriously glamorous on their Oscar cover, and radiating happiness as if to say ALREADY “I’ve won!” And EW is alternating her image with James Franco. He is co-hosting of course with Anne Hathaway. He’s probably going to be nominated for “127 Hours” though his film and the director Danny Boyle won’t. Not doing well with audiences…

But I digress.

So of course, we EXPECT EW(Entertainment Weekly, or www.ew.com ) to come out with an Oscar cover, but boy does it seem EARLY! But of course it’s not early at all. It’s Right On Time. If you want to influence the Oscar voters, the Academy members who have gotten their ballots to fill in right about NOW! So even though it seems like jumping the gun, it isn’t. It’s time, dear readers, dear cineastes, it’s OSCAR TIME! YAY!

And it’s not surprising that EW is doing this Of course, it isn’t. It’s what they DO.

 But it IS surprising that the NYTimes came out with AN ENTIRE SECTION of their Sunday Newspaper called “THE OSCARS” in big, bold type. And with GIGANTIC half-page pictures of Christian Bale and Natalie Portman(yes, her again) and pieces on their characters and their performances in “The Fighter” and “Black Swan.”

And if that isn’t Oscar Advocacy, I don’t know what is.

I think Natalie Portman’s win is pretty inevitable at this point, and of course her nomination is assured. And deserved. The nomination comes first, remember? And the same is probably true for Christian Bale. But his WIN?

Well, according to the NYTimes, it’s a done deal. But I don’t know about that…That category is still up for grabs.

But the SIZE of that picture and that piece!?! And by Manhola Dargis, no less. Is this the objectivity that New York Times is supposedly the last bastion of in journalism?

A. O. Scott the OTHER film critic at the Times wrote the piece extolling Natalie Portman’s performance. There’s three film critics at the NYTimes, if you’re keeping count.

And where was their third esteemed critic? And someone who I’m confused with constantly because our names are so similar, Stephen Holden? And where was Colin Firth?

Well they were BOTH relegated to the last two back pages of this special issue, with an equally gigantic picture of Firth, with Geoffrey Rush, in a WONDERFUL, beautifully written piece about Firth’s performance in “The King’s Speech” by Holden at his absolute best. I was very moved by it.

But it was on THE LAST TWO PAGES?!? Why was it placed there? I guess, because Colin Firth’s win is so assured that the editors of “The OSCARS” didn’t think he needed their extra help. I guess.

But anyway, it was there, after all. And I was glad to see the Grey Lady putting a little color in her cheeks over, of all things, the Oscar race.

But Christian Bale? The front-runner? As far as the New York Times is concerned. This is for Best Supporting Actor, of course. But HEL-LOH, NYT, as good as his performance is, and it’s one of his best, I’m really not sure he’s an Oscar slum-dunk for The Win in that category.

What IF, and it’s more than an IF, what if the ailing Michael Douglas is nominanted for “Wall St. 2” in that category? OK, he’s got TWO Oscars already and one of them for Best Actor for playing Gordan Geko in the original “Wall St.” and an earlier one for  producing “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” which won Best Picture many, many moons ago.

And there’s also Geoffrey Rush’s towering performance, which to its’ credit the Times did en-picture, ON THE LAST TWO PAGES, and shared with Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech.”

So no, I don’t think Christian Bale has got this in the bag. And yes I would expect the LA Times to do something this splashy on the Oscars. They’re in LA after all. But the Grey Lady herself?

Well, I LOVE reading about “The Oscars” no matter if the Times is going to try to influence my vote. Me? Well, if I was a voting member of AMPAS AND I’M NOT, I’d vote for Geoffrey Rush.

It will be VERY interesting to see just how this all pans out since I do think that Bale, Rush and Douglas are all going to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

And Best Supporting Actress??? The Times didn’t even venture an educated guess on that one. THAT’S how up in the air THAT category is!

Stay Tuned!

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