a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Fox Searchlight’

Oscar Double Shocker! 2 Best Actress slots may open! “Beasts” not nominated for Best Picture at Gotham Awards!

Still reeling from Joaquim Phoenix’s “Oscar is utter bulls–t” remark, I think it’s gone unnoticed by all except the astute Anne Thompson on this week’s Oscar Talk podcast at www.indiewire.com and also on www.hitfix.com,where when partner Kris Tapley points out that the much-heralded “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did NOT get a Best Picture nomination from the upcoming Gotham Awards, she said “That’s not a sign of strength.”

“Beasts” did however get nominated for Best Breakthrough Performer for 8 Year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis and Best Director for 29-year-old Benh Zeitlin.

But not getting a Best Picture nomination from the Gothams, the East Coast’s answer to the Independent Spirit Awards, is a real and unexpected slap in the face to “Beasts,” and to Fox Searchlight. And may forecast what I am hearing about the way the Academy itself is responding to this beautiful, small Indie film. Which is not well.

Check out Pete Hammond on www.deadline.com, who has been saying this all along. Especially the Actor’s Branch, who take the SAG disqualification of performers Qu’venzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry of “Beasts” from consideration from THEIR awards, VERY seriously. SAG is the Screen Actors Guild, whose large membership hands out their own awards and whose membership overlaps the Academy. The Screen Actors Guild is also a Union. The film version of Actor’s Equity. And all voting members of the Actor’s Branch are all members of SAG.

Non-actors when they started “Beasts of the Southern Wild “& critically acclaimed though they are, I hear that the super-powerful Actor’s Branch especially is not liking the idea of nominating a non-actress,and a non-union member, who is an eight-year-old child.

“When there are so many PROFESSIONAL actresses who gave great performances this year.” So goes the current AMPAS Actor’s Branch thinking, I am told. And it’s that powerful branch, the largest in the Academy and they are the ones, the ONLY ones who nominate the Actors. And the Actresses. And most Oscarologists have little Miss Wallis in their top five. See Tom O’Neill’s http://www.goldderby.com charts, for one example.

Meanwhile, two of the  other main contenders for Best Actress that are on everyone’s lists of five potential nominees are French.

Marion Cotillard for “Rust and Bone,” who is being honored by the Gothams and AFI and just about every which way you turn for her stunning turn as the legless victim of a whale attack. She’s a whale trainer in a Sea World-like situation in the South of France and one of her Orcas attacks her. And even though Mlle.Marion is acting in her own language French, she’s IN with a capital “I” and a capital “L” for Lock.

But  the other Gallic contender, who very well may NOT make it, I’m hearing, is Octogenarian French actress Emmanuelle Riva. Riva plays the stroke victim in “Amour” The film won the Palme d’Or this year in Cannes. And the same-aged Academy is NOT digging this grim, unrelenting film about death. It’s too much and too close for Academy members. It should’ve been called “La Mort” which is French for death.

So Riva’s nomination is not a slam dunk, either though this difficult, gripping, unforgettable film may very well score a Best Foreign Film nomination.

So BOTH Qu’venzhane Wallis’ and Emmanuelle Riva’s slots may very well not be their slots at all come nomination day. But there are OTHERS, a few stellar Others who are waiting right in the wings right at their doorsteps,

Leaving two doors, or slots, in that suddenly contentious category, WIDE open for a pair of Dames. Always bet on the Brits. Dame Helen Mirren playing The Master of Suspene’s wife Alma in “Hitchcock”(which has not been seen yet) and also perhaps Dame Maggie Smith as a retiring but disliked opera diva in “Quartet.”

I saw”‘Quartet’ in Toronto and 77-year-old Maggie Smith could very well find herself Oscar bound. And then there’s of course the beauteous Brit, Keira Knightley, much more likely as the tortured heroine of “Anna Karenina”which I also saw in Toronto, and which is still my favorite film of the year so far. For the record, I thought both performances were divine and definitely Oscar-worthy.

And the leader of the pack at the moment, according to all and sundry is Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook,”which I’m finally slated to see this week.

Nevermind, the still-unseen Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty.” We still don’t know if she’s a leading player or supporting, though.

But there are plenty of worthy, beautiful Oscar performances by actresses awaiting Oscar’s nod this year if BOTH Qu’venzhane Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva don’t make the cut.

So except for Lawrence’s presumed lead, this is now a very wide open category, with a small, but stellar group to pick from. Cotillard, Knightley, Mirren, Chastain, Smith. There’s enough. Or ALMOST enough. And all these ladies, I must point out are either Oscar nominees, and many of them winners! Cotillard and Mirren both have won. And Dame Maggie Smith has two wins out of SIX nominations! Knightley, Chastain and Lawrence are all previous nominees. They are all, as Anne Thompson likes to say, “In The Club.”

“Lincoln” Sneaks in NJ, Viewer Tweets NY Post “It’s Boring”!!

NY Post’s film critic Lou Lumenick received an outraged twitter review & email from a film goer who saw the sneak preview of “Lincoln” in NJ yesterday and complained that the film was “boring.” As Lumenick parsed it “take it with a grain of salt.” But the way he presents it in his article www.nypost.com ,it DOES sound as dry as dust.
It evidently keeps most of its’ action in the Congressional rooms and hallways, eschewing the more dramatic CIVIL WAR ITSELF that was raging outside. Nevermind the horrors of slavery. It’s all about LEGISLATION. I knew it. I just knew it. Screenwriter Tony Kushner is  very academic, almost pedantic sometimes. And it looks like  this time is one of THOSE times. AND it’s nearly three hours!

Given this info, plus the rather strange and deadly trailer of “Lincoln” that popped up last week, I think Dreamworks may have a real historic Oscar dud on its’ hands. If Hollywood hands Oscar a lemon, Oscar doesn’t make lemonade. He just nominates SOMEBODY ELSE.

This enraged viewer wrote to Lumenick that “It WILL NOT be nominated for Best Picture”! But thought Daniel Day-Lewis would. Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln was “miscast”. I believe that, too. And this news also makes sense of Fox Searchlight’s rushing “Hitchcock” into release on Thanksgiving weekend. Making it eligible for this year’s Oscars, not next and putting Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Alfred Hitchcock right in the, er, thick of things.

Best Actor seems so crowded this year. With DDL, Joaquin Phoenix(“The Master”), Hugh Jackman{“Les Miserables”) and John Hawkes in Searchlight’s other contender “The Sessions” all but locked down. Means that “Life of Pi” and “Flight” coming up fast at the New York Film Festival and which I’m doomed, er, destined  to see very soon, might not be All That.

And then there’s the volatile, still-open-for-business Best Actress category, which Dame Helen as Lady Alma Hitchcock, who is evidently at the center of the story of this movie, and yes, it’s a mature love story, could slip right in there. Knocking out another slippery Dame. Judi. For Fox Searchlight’s “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and/or Fox 2.0 ‘s OTHER Best Actress filly in the race, 8-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis.  For “Beasts of the -Southern Wild.” I personally don’t think Fox Searchlight is acting SURE about either of their ladies-in-question.

Nevertheless,  Searchlight saw a place and decided to fill it with the formidable weight-y, Oscar-baity  Sir Alfred.

Hollywood loves Hollywood more and more each day.

See last year’s, Best Picture “The Artist” which won four other Oscars, too, including Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and “Hugo” also about early filmmaking, though in France. “Hugo” got four technical Oscars, but they are Oscars nonetheless.

Shot VERY quickly by documentarian Sasha Gervase, whose only other previous helming was the hilarious doc “Anvil:The Story of Anvil” and it seems he got every thing right!

Doc makers know how to make that first take work. That’s all you’ve got in documentaries. You have no choice. You have to GET THAT SHOT, or else, it’s gone forever. It’s called Run and Gun and I like working that way myself on my TV show http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

And “Anvil” was that rarest of docs. One with a sense of humor!

So, back to “Lincoln”, even though I’m sure the feelings of the film-goer that contacted Lumenick were genuine, Stephen Spielberg’s films, even the weakest, like “Munich”, or misguided like “War Horse”, they STILL get a Best Picture nomination regardless, but in a field of ten possibles, I’m still sure “Lincoln” is IN.

But look at Sir Alfred go! His corpse is dancing! Maybe all the way to the Oscars! And in his lifetime, let it be noted Hitch never won a Best Director Oscar himself. Maybe he’ll be getting one posthumously.

He was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. THEE greatest in MY book.

“Hitchcock” biopic moved into heat of Oscar Race! Fox Searchlight nervous about “Beasts”?”Sessions”?”Marigold”?

Alfred Hitchcock is back from the dead in a big way. He’s always been my Numero Uno Cinema hero since Forever, and now Fox Searchlight has startlingly announced that they are opening their biopic on Hitch on Nov.23! Right in the middle of the Awards Race and nearly right on top of “Silver Linings Playbook!”

This is a very bold, last-minute move on the part of Fox S. And I’m sensing it had to do with a perceived weakness in some of its’ own entrants. Which are “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “The Sessions” and most importantly “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

In the Gold Derby podcast I mentioned a few days back, Tom O’ Neil and Pete Hammond really dug into the Oscar season so far in a substantive way. And particularly the tough, no-nonsense Pete Hammond. This is at http://www.goldderby.com

He announced at the start of his convo that “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, a critical favorite, was not going to play so well with the Academy, in his opinion. And while Tom O. was quite enthusiastic, he was also shocked by Pete’s rather stubborn insistence that “Beasts” wasn’t going to fly. Neither he nor Tom O. could pronounce Qu’venzhane Wallis’s name. Not a good sign. And they made a joke out of it calling her “Miss Unpronounceable”.

I’m sure Hammond’s podcast didn’t cause Fox Jr. to throw the over large corpse of “Hitchcock” into the ring. Or did it? Or was Hammond sensing what Fox 2.0 had already known for a while?

And Dame Judi Dench’s Best Actress campaign for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” doesn’t seem to be catching on. And Miss Upronounceable Wallis may also be seen as a non-starter. I mean, she’s only six years old(when the film was shot). Hammond said flatly, “These are ACTORS voting.They are going to see a performance by a child THAT young as a manipulated one by the director.” Uh-oh. He may be right about that.

Fox-Searchlight also did something strange with “The Sessions,”  a film which I personally was very moved by. The story of a man in an iron lung for life and his desire to have sex with a surrogate may not have been playing as well as they hoped.

Purporting to have a full-on press junket in NYC next week, they now are not. And only junketing in LA! There’s a press DAY in NY, but that’s a much smaller, less expensive deal. Basically it means they are cancelling the A&B camera crews, and just doing print, wherein the journos come equipped with their own tape recorders…Cheap. For a Film they are supposedly campaigning for in all the categories possible, including Best Picture. John Hawkes is a slam-dunk for a Best Actor nomination, but now they are putting Helen Hunt in Supporting, as I said last week from TIFF.

A big come down. And this also paves the way for them spending more money on “Hitchcock” This is also their way of trying to draw the helium out of the “Silver Linings Playbook” balloon, since “Hitchcock” is also supposed to be a love story like SLP is. But Hitch and his wife Alma, played most likely quite wonderfully by Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren, is also a love story, it now turns out. And not just about the making of “Psycho.”

I think this move busts the whole race wide open again. Jeff Wells was saying in HIS podcast over at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com that he was suddenly feeling “trapped” by the “Silver Linings Playbook” s sudden ascension to front-runner as Best Picture and Best Actress and Best Director.

I’m sure he feels trapped no more.

This is also, I think, in response, to the rather weak reception the much heralded trailer of “Lincoln” got. Really quite tepid all ’round. Fox Searchlight saw this as a major new HOLE in the season, and they’ve run to plug it with Alfred Hitchcock’s huge self.

Directed by a documentary filmmaker, “Hitchcock” is his first feature. So I’m not seeing “Hitchock” as a Best Picture contender, but Anthony Hopkins could very well be. And on the weaker, constantly changing distaff side we now have Dame Helen’s Alma Hitchcock and also Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh to figure out(which category we should put them in.)

It’s sounding more and more like “My Week with Marilyn”. Which was my #1 film of last year. Of course it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture, but Michelle Williams sure did as Best Actress. And Kenneth Branagh as Best Supporting Actor for his hilarious spot-on Sir Laurence Olivier.

To quote Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone on this hot topic “I can’t wait”!

Best Actress Race – Pre-Festivals, Pre-TIFF

So, just where are we now with the only race I feel that has some clarity this early, and on the other hand, is also wide open? Certainly compared with last year’s Best Actress race. Which was locked and loaded VERY early on in the season, if you remember. But perhaps you don’t. Rooney Mara’s sneaking in at the last-minute with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and her star-making turn as Lisbeth Salander, was the only surprise within that top category last year.

This year, with the exit of presumptive front-runner Carey Mulligan’s “The Great Gatsby” being shifted to NEXT SUMMER! GLACK! It’s mustn’t’ve so Great after all!

With Mulligan’s departure, this leaves many, many openings, so some surprises from the Indie world, like the stunning, scary tour-de-force of  veteran character actress Ann Dowd in “Compliance.” And certainly with Qu’venzahne Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” still hanging in there in release after three months, and still making money for Fox Searchlight.  That’s two Sundance ladies, although one is only 8 years old and the other well past 50. THAT’S interesting right there, in and of itself, it’s a unique pairing…IF it happens…Sundance didn’t have any gals in the Best Actress round-up last year, now it is making up for lost time with TWO.

Then there’s the absurd rumor that BOTH could go Supporting! Uh-oh! Category confusion! The dreaded Oscar disease that killed Viola Davis’ chances last year(among many other reasons).  If NEITHER Dowd nor Wallis end up in Best Actress, the category is RRRREALLY wide open.

Remaining are the soon-to-be-seen Helen Hunt, also out of Sundance, come to think of it with “Sessions.” She’s won previously of course and that always sort of hurts. Unless it’s a category with all previous winners. That was for “As Good As It Gets” where she played a worldly-wise waitress. Opposite Jack Nicholson.

Another previous winner Marion Cotillard has a VERY strong shot, it seems, with “Of Rust and Bone” which won her screaming raves out of Cannes this year. But NOT the Best Actress Award there. Which was a surprise.

She, too, is a previous winner for her incandescent, unforgettable Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”. She’s also in TDKR, too, remember this year. Something every Academy Voting member will have seen, even if it gets neglected in the nominations and I think it will…. But “Of Rust and Bone” is in French.

They COULD hold that against her. Since also acting in French this year is another Cannes contender, which DID win the Palme d’Or, Emmanuelle Rivas in “L’Amour.” TWO Best Actress nominees BOTH acting in French? I don’t think so. But if anyone can score acting in her own language once again it’s the beautiful Maid Marion.

Also soon to be seen at Toronto, along with “Rust and Bone” and “The Sessions” is Keira Knightley’s new star-turn as “Anna Karenina.” Directed by the extraordinary British helmer Joe Wright, who guided Knightley to her first and so far only Oscar nomination in “Pride and Prejudice.” Will this be a lucky charm once again for this dynamic duo? Or will she just fall short of a nod, and get snubbed, like she did for “Atonement”, which was certainly nomination-worthy in MY book.

And then there’s the darling Laura Linney, ALSO at Toronto, along with Hunt, Cotillard, and Knightley, WOW what a line-up! I’ll just be running from one Best Actress possibility to another in two weeks. Laura Linney has been picked by Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby as the Numero Uno Best of the Best for “Hyde Park on the Hudson.” She has been nominated three times before and this would make FOUR. She’s playing a real person, FDR’s until now, unseen and unrecorded mistress. And everybody loves Laura. She’s everywhere. She got a critically lauded TV series “The Big C” AND she introduces “Downtown Abbey” on PBS with great class and style. She’s due, if anyone is!

And perhaps even more importantly, “Hyde Park on the Hudson” has now ALSO been picked up by the NEW YORK Film Festival, which doubles Linney’s(and the pic’s) prestige chances. Neither “Of Rust and Bone” nor “Anna Karenina” has scored THAT particular double festival whammy.

Well, in two weeks time all will be revealed….And unless some one pops up in a year-end movie, like for instance, Anne Hathaway being put in lead, not Supporting for “Les Miserables” By George, I think we’ve already got our Oscar lady ducks all in a row! And all at Toronto, too! I can’t wait!

“Tree of Life” Brad Pitt’s very good & Jessica Chastain makes a spectacular debut, but THOSE DINOSAURS!

What a self-indulgent, beautifully photographed and  very well acted mess “The Tree of Life” is! I’d say it wasn’t worth the price of admission. I left feeling queasy, like I had just seen a 3D movie, but it wasn’t in 3D!  And at the public screening I attended tonight two women were talking very loudly about getting their money back.

Brad Pitt is probably the best he’s ever been in this as the grown Sean Penn’s memory of a stern, but ultimately loving father…But is it enough to win him his long sought-after Oscar?

I wonder…

You have to weigh, or rather wade through, a good half hour or more of primordial ooze and yes, even what looks like Velosoraptors, who seem to have wandered in from “Jurassic Park”! No. I’m not kidding!DINOSAURS! Before you get to the sometimes gripping family drama, that seems more like a memory piece, than a crafted film. If you even call “Tree of Life” that.

I could follow it, but judging by the comments I was hearing, when it was over, from fellow audience members, most couldn’t. Or they got it wrong. “Which son died?” I heard that over and over again.

I THINK it’s the story of an adult male in an urban city (could be Texas. We don’t ever really know) who is played with great stress by Sean Penn, doing a much as he can with virtually no dialogue whatsoever.

Ditto the glorious screen debut of the stupendous, beautiful redheaded young actress Jessica Chastain, who is going to be coming at us in so many movies this year, it’s unbelievable. She’s going to have a very, very BIG screen career. And “The Tree of Life” for all it’s flaws, launches her into the cinematic stratosphere here. At one point, Malick even has her flying through the air, as the embodiment of motherly beauty. And that moment was charming.

But again ,like Penn, she has virtually no dialogue whatsoever, and that she registers at all playing the essence of young feminine beauty and motherly love, in what is basically a silent film debut is very, very impressive.

I saw much of Jessica’s work at Julliard when she was an undergrad there, and I must say I predicted all this would happen to her. She’s dazzling. Amazing. A great young, scintillatingly beautiful actress, with a tremendous range. She can play anything. Classic or modern and she here is made to make one reminiscent of Cate Blanchett, who also had a nearly wordless role opposite Brad Pitt as his wounded-by-a-sniper wife in “Babel.”

Which reminds me of how really, really good Pitt was in that film as a distraught husband. He’s really, really fine here, too, as again, the nearly wordless father. Though he does have MOST of the dialogue of the film, what little there is of it.

I would say a nomination probably, and with a smart Oscar distributor like Fox Searchlight is known to be, behind this monumentally difficult of a sell, he just may score another Best Actor nod. And yes, it’s been selling out. The house, despite the walk-outs was packed.

But it’s an uphill battle with this part of the tough, disciplinarian Dad to get Pitt to the podium for the win. But if anybody can do it, Fox Searchlight can.

The film, if you keep paying attention, and cutting it monumental slack, which I’m actually doing here, is about letting go of your own past. In this case, I THINK it was the guilt the grown Penn feels towards his difficult relationship with his dad, Brad Pitt, and also the death of his younger brother.

Or I THINK it was the younger brother who dies. The sullen main child was meant to be the kid version of Penn. But many audience members weren’t sure. The recalcitrant child is played very well . I think he may actually have the most lines in the film, after Pitt. We see most of this film from his sullen, angry eyes. But many in the audience were confused. And WHAT will the Academy make of this confounding film, with no clear plot line?

All this happens to this typical Waco, Texas WASP church-going middle class family. And the recalcitrant child spends the rest of his life coming to terms with it as he turns into Sean Penn. Right? Or maybe I’m not right. It’s genuinely confounding.

Or something like that.

The cinematography, especially of all of the planets and the protozoa and the lava and whatever else it was we were witnessing at the LONNNNNG, slow, agonizing start of this film, is indeed breathtaking. And the images, hold you, even though it’s very difficult to puzzle out just what the truly frustrating iconic director Terence Malick is up to. And the answer is, well, EVERYTHING. He’s trying to get everything that ever happened in the entire history of the universe into this one film. No wonder it’s running time is over two and a half hours!

It’s Malick, being Malick, so I knew there would be a lot of photographs of leaves and esp. leaves of grass and there are. But it’s a shame that Fox Searchlight or whomever didn’t reign in Malick’s incredibly self-indulgent impulses. It’s very long, arduous experience. It’s work. Not fun. And certainly not entertainment, but Malick probably never intended it to be anything else but portentous. I was going to say PREtentious. But it is that, too. IN SPADES.

But there is a moment in the end where things are getting wrapped up that the film does redeem itself. But by then, as good as he is Brad Pitt may have lost his Oscar.

It’s a restrained, understated, subtle performance and I liked it. But Oscar doesn’t do subtle…usually…

It won the Palme D’Or at Cannes. But here, most people were heading for the door.

Best Supporting Actor~ChristianBale, Mark Ruffalo & Sam Rockwell

I have always seen Christian Bale, Mark Ruffalo and Sam Rockwell as a sort of trio, worthy lord knows, and veterans now of how many movies? And leads in movies? But never, ever close enough to Oscar to get even a nomination.

Yes, believe it or not, dear readers, dear cineastes, neither of those three extremely talented actors have ever gotten in Oscars door, but goodness knows, at least they’ve been knocking on it, year in and year out. And this year all three might get in.

Christian Bale is purported by many to be the front-runner for Best Supporting Actor for his wacked out portrayal of drug-addled Dickie Ekland in the increasingly popular “The Fighter.”  It’s not as though we haven’t seen a crack-wack-head portrayed on screen before, but never before has a portrayal like that made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated! See www.scottfeinberg.com for the great graphic.

It should be just a pictorial of central character Mark Wahlberg “The Fighter”‘ himself.But there is Bale pushing his head into the shot and onto the cover!

But Hollywood and all the critical masses seem to be lining up behind giving Christian Bale his first ever Oscar nomination. He just got a Golden Globe AND a SAG nom in less than a week! Can Oscar finally be opening the door to the Dark Knight himself? I think so.

But is he well-liked enough to win? His bad boy rantings were recorded and published all over the Internet when he went off on that poor techie, and he also was said to have assaulted his own mother and sister, but they dropped the charges…So…Were they true? Well, something about this scenario must be…but…Is Hollywood going to forgive Bad Boy Bale, a grown up child actor? Or are they going to think him too young to win and give it to Geoffrey Rush, who is his biggest competition, for a career-capping performance as the wacky, but not wacked out Australian Speech teacher to Colin Firth’s sure-to-win stuttering King in “The King’s Speech” ?Aye, that is the question….

Then there are the place-holders…the category-filler-outers…which is where Mark Ruffalo may get in despite his Golden Golbe snub. Ah! But then he rallied at the SAG nods and got one for Best Supporting Actor, his first, like Bale, for “The Kid’s Are All Right.”  Though it opened in the spring, this lesbian-marriage comedy has stayed the course and just did VERY well at the New York Film Critics Awards, netting its’ writer Lisa Cholodenko, who also directed it, the win for Best Screenplay over Aaron Sorkin for The Film That I Will Not Name…Yikes! No  one saw that coming! Could happen at the Oscars too BTW…but that’s another column…

Ruffalo’s performance in “Kids”? Well, as the title says, it’s All Right.

 But not great.

Not really Oscar nomination worthy, though certainly Ruffalo has given many, many performances in the past that could have been nominated, but weren’t. But this time his Only Straight Guy In a Lesbian Movie turn may be the right place at the right time. N0t his greatest work, by any means, and NOT the greatest performance in “The Kids.” But  I guess his heterosexual male presence, and he IS sexy, may assauge the SWORM to nominate him. Oh, and women like him, too. So he may get his first Oscar nomination but he certainly isn’t going to win. Not with Bale and Rush in the category.

And there there’s poor Sam Rockwell! He’s also never been nominated and just missed BOTH the SAG and the Golden Globe nominations he should’ve gotten this week for his superb turn as another difficult, jailed brother in ANOTHER  Masschusetts jail in”Conviction.”

He’s playing true-life character(as Bale and Rush are co-incidentally) Kenny Waters who spends 18 years of his life in a New England jail until he’s freed by this crusading, devoted sister played Betty Ann by Hilary Swank. And SHE just got a surprise nomination from the SAGS! She who has already won two Best Actress Oscars, is obviously more of an actor-favorite than anybody imagined, and her performance is damned-good, too.e

I just caught up with “Convinction” at a screening two DAYS ago, and I was shocked at how much I liked it.

So Hilary Swank popped up unexpectedly in Best Actress and knocked out presumed (and Golden Globe nominee) Michelle Williams. Will Swank prevail at the Oscars in another surprise win? Or will it be the equally  worthy Williams, who though nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, has never been nominated in the main slot. Ah! But this time she’s gotten Oscar stealth weapon Harvey Weinstein behind her!…

I personally think that Sam Rockwell may be the one from “Conviction” to surprise, not Swank. Fox Searchlight is campaigning hard for “Conviction” even though it was a box-office flop….But they are getting the screeners into the Academy’s hands and/or getting the Academy’s asses to their screenings…of “Conviction.” So will Sam Rockwell pop up? Will he be the Oscar surprise? Heaven knows he’s worthy enough, but don’t be surprised, because you heard it here first!

Stay tuned!

Stephen Holt Show’s 2010 Year’s Ten Best List

I’ll elaborate further later,when I have more time, but for now, here is my 2010 Year’s Ten Best List –

1. The King’s Speech

2. A Film Unfinished

3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

4. Nowhere Boy

5. Black Swan

6. 127 Hours

7. Mesrine, Pts. 1 & 2

8. Blue Valentine

9. Another Year

10.I Love You, Phillip Morris

Barbara Hersey’s Scarey Mom – Oscar-nomination-worthy in “Black Swan”

How many crazy moms-from-hell can we have in one Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress? Well, at the moment there’s THREE. In addition to long shot Jackie Weaver for “Animal Kingdom” and SURE shot Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” out Friday. But wait! There’s ONE MORE! Who’s even more frightening because she’s also sympathetic and complex. A combo that the Academy usually CAN’T resist.

We can’t be blinded by the evil of these two aforementioned diva-moms when the largest, scariest performance of all of them is  Barbara Hersey’s pyscho-stage mom who puts the BLACK in “Black Swan.”

I really do think that out of the trio of Supporting ladies in box-office and critical hit “Black Swan” Hollywood vet Hersey has the best chance. She’s got the biggest part. You love her and you HATE her sometimes in the same scene! WHAT A PART! You watch her try to help and nurture her already slightly schizoid ballerina-wannabee daughter Natalie Portman at the same time she’s trying to KILL HER!Or IS she?

OSCAR LOVES THIS!?!

Since she first came to prominence as “Last Summer”s teenage seductress in 1969’s classic indie, Hersey has been working steadily in every aspect of acting that Hollywood has to offer. Films, TV, Series, Mini-Series she’s worked with EVERYBODY and she’s beloved. She even got her first Oscar nomination for “The Portrait of a Lady” in 1996.

Sorry Winona Ryder and Mila Kunis. I think Barbara Hersey’s got the other acting nomination in this film, besides the brilliant-beyond-words prima screamer ballerina Natalie Portman, who is pirouetting her way over all this season’s STIFF competition for Best Actress. But that’s another category!

Back to Barbara!

I met her IN PERSONI at the Fox Searchlight Christmas Party one cold night earlier this week. Was it JUST Monday? It seems like ages ago so much Oscar/Awards stuff has been happening I can barely write it down!

But Barbara Hersey was the loveliest of lovely ladies, wearing black, of course. It’s the “Black Swan” and I was only toooo happy to tell her that I was her “Oscar Messenger.” She really liked that. You’d think with the lesbian-themed Kunis and other previous nominee Winona, that she might be over-looked. But neither of them were there working the room of Oscarologists, but Barbara was!

And as I told her how much of a good mother I thought she character was, with the craziest of daughters, Hersey disagreed with me. “No! She’s crazy, too! She’s driven her daughter crazy.”

“But” I insisted, ” I liked her. I understood where she was coming from. She was trying to be a good mother.”

And again Barbara disagreed with me. “No, but she’s ALSO crazy, too.”

But that, of course, is what makes Hersey’s performance so compelling – and frightening. You can see the Black and the White, the Black Swan and the White Swan, within HER, too, as well as Portman.

Hersey’s Swan Mom has been driven to her own point of madness by her frustrations of being a failed ballerina herself, so she’s PUSHING her talented, beautiful daughter, Natalie Portman to do what she wasn’t able to do in her lifetime, which is to succeed at ballet. Tom O’Neill or Tom-Ohhh agrees with me and has Hersey on his Best Supporting Actress list at www.goldderby.com  Tom has his finger on the pulse and looks at the Gold Derby as he’s so aptly named it from all angles.

I LOVED “Black Swan”! I saw it at that memorable screening at the Bell Lightbox at TIFF’10 this year. In fact, it was the first film I ever saw there. And I was sitting with the Pitch-This! winners Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery. More on them later this week! www.killshakespeare.com

And what a frightening/nauseating portrait of the dance world, director Darren Aronofsky has painted in the “Black Swan.” They’re all anorexic, back-stabbing, little horrors, those corps(e) de ballet girls. And the film didn’t seem like a horror film to me. It just seemed terrifyingly ACCURATE.

And lest we forget super-oily Vincent Cassell’s evil, sleazoid ballet master. He’s being campaigned for Best Supporting Actor by Searchlight, too. And watch he scores with the Golden Globes, too.

One of France’s leading film actors who wowed audiences this year with his hard-hitting Public Enemy #1 in “Mesrine”, which is in two parts, Pt.1 & Pt.2, which is essentially two movies, Cassell is also floating on a tide of good will as America just begins to discover him. And nominations for a Golden Globe by the Hollywood FORIEGN Press are just around the corner next week! Phew! I can barely keep up! And the L.A. Film Critics announce Sunday and the NYFilm Critics on Monday. Then the Golden Globe nominations come out practically right on top of them.

But back to Barbara Hersey. I was soooo thrilled to talk to her in this lovely, swanky, holiday setting. And she was so eager and happy to talk about her Oscar possiblities. I assured her that she had them. Which made her VERY happy. So happy, she introduced me to Darren Aronosfky!

He was surrounded by well-wishers or Oscarologists DISguised as well wishers and when I told him I was HIS Oscar Messenger, too.

He said, in a whisper, or certainly a hoarse voice, “I don’t know. I hope so.”

“Black Swan” is one of the best films of the year and is DEFINITELY going to be on my Ten Best List that is coming soon to this blog. VERY, very soon. As Sasha Stone has said at www.awardsdaily.com “Black Swan” is Aronofsky’s masterpiece.

If Natalie Portman reigns at the two big film critics this coming week, then it’s a done deal. I THINK however since they are going to think that Oscar is going to reward her, that they may bestow their cherished Best Actress accolades on Underdog Leslie Manville of Mike Leigh’s “Another Year.”

The race is definitely ON!

National Board of Review reactions…

Wellllll, David Poland of www.moviecitynews.com calls it the National Bored with Reviews…and says it reflects nothing but how ineffective Fox Searchlight has been with the Board this year. They represent or ARE represented by “Black Swan” and “127 Hours” which got nada…Guess they won’be be buying a table at their shindig this year….www.nbrmp.org

David, my former boss, I guess, I was once a Guru o’ Gold, Yes, it’s true, David thinks this is the Week of Irrelevant Awards…but he does have an amusing take on it….Worth reading….He thinks this helps Leslie Manville get a nomination…That would be in Best Actress for “Another Year.”

But NOT Jackie Weaver…I mean, I haven’t even seen “Animal Kingdom.” David knows…well, what he knows..

The completely unknown Jackie Weaver was named Best Supporting Actress for “Animal Kingdom.” Sony Pictures Classics sent out the screener for this Australian film before anyone else did, way back in Sept. I think. Along with “Mother and Child”, which I adored, and obviously these award-giving bodies had the time to watch them as Autumn leaves were falling…But I haven’t gotten one! Hey! Sony! Send me a SCREENER!

I’ll tell you who they did send my way, the handsome and funny Armie Hammer, who plays the Winklevi in TSN. See him cracking me up and vice versa and talking Oscar in my Main Frame. At www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

And St. Anne Thompson at St. Anne’s Warehouse, or rather Thompson on Hollywood at www.indiewire.com thinks that this does not mean anything to Colin Firth. That he shouldn’t worry, that the Academy Actor’s Branch will reward him anyway. And I’m so sure they will.

And Sasha must be VERY happy about this. I never thought Jesse Irritatingberg would EVAH get any kind of serious awards attention for “TSN” but Sasha did. And I went to read what every one said and I got an “error” on that NBR thread’s comments section on www.awardsdaily.com. Maybe it’s fixed now…There was so much traffic Sasha’s server crashed! Whoa! I wouldn’t know WHAT to do if that ever happened to this humble blog…But it’s fixed now, I think…

Anne Thompson said she passed Christian Bale(Best Supp. Actor for “The Fighter) in a Hollywood hallway and he looked “very happy.” I bet. He’s never gotten any serious awards consideration. EVAH. Batman or no Batman.

And me, I think none of these award winners will be repeated at the Oscars. Sorry, I don’t. Well, except for Aaron Sorkin for Best Adapted Screenplay. Otherwise, none of the others should expect anything except nominations….Jesse Irritatingberg and Jackie Weaver are all of a piece to me…I hope her performance(if I EVAH get to see it!) doesn’t give me a headache like he did.

And the NBR’s recent awards, have hardly been bell-weathers for the Oscars. Only one performer Penelope Cruz went on to win for “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” Nominations, maybe. I’ll have to do my homework but Sasha has probably already done it. But last year, for instance nobody won. But they were all nominated…

Hmmmm….

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: