a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Gone with the Wind’

Past Best Picture Oscar Winners I Adore (& Own & Re-Watch)

Oscars Now that’s it all over but the shouting (on Oscar night, this coming Sunday, Feb.28), I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic about other films that have one Best Picture in the past and really won my heart. Some I’ve watched over and over and over again. Some I own. I love them so much I always want them to be with me or near at hand anyway to play at any time.

  1. Gone With the WindGone With the Wind
  2. All About EveAll About Eve
  3. Tom JonesTom Jones 1
  4. The King’s SpeechThe King's Speech
  5. The ArtistThe Artist
  6. Lord of the Rings Part 3, Return of the KingSam & Frodo
  7. Twelve Years a Slave12 Years a Slave 2
  8. RebeccaRebecca 1
  9. Midnight CowboyMidnight Cowboy
  10. No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men 1

Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” Her First or Second Novel?

Harper leeEveryone in the reading world right now seems to be obsessed with Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And the question of why did she write only one book?

A Southern novelist to the core, the same question can be applied to that other great Southern writer of one,  only one highly successful novel,Margaret Mitchell. And that novel, of course, was “Gone with the Wind.”

I never thought it was a particularly confusing question. The international acclaim, critically and monetarily would be hard to top. They said what they had to say, and that was that. Same question as why did Greta Garbo retire so early? She wanted to.

But now another NEW book by Harper Lee has purportedly been discovered and will now be published in July. The suspense is mounting. Is it any good? Will it be the caliber of “To Kill A Mockingbird”?

How can it be?

It’s an impossible mountain to climb, and the fact that it was written a long time ago, maybe a VERY long time ago makes me feel that Harper Lee, being the wise woman that she was/is, just didn’t want it to be seen or read.

This may and I emphasize MAY have been the first book she wrote BEFORE “To Kill a Mockingbird” made her a literary sensation.

The book that she shopped around to publishers when she was an unknown first novelist in New York struggling to make her name. And it was rejected by everyone. I know the feeling.

And THEN she wrote “Mockingbird” plainly and simply and it, like “Gone With the Wind” really did not need a follow-up.

“Go Set a Watchman” – What an awkward, collegiate writing class title! Is probably not a patch on “Mockingbird.”

I think this whole thing is a literary stunt of the first water. Maybe she needs the money in her twilight years. Maybe, it’s been suggested, she doesn’t really know, cognitively, what really is going on with her unheard of, silent second book. Or was it her first surpressed one?

We’ll find out very soon. One thing’s for sure. It will be an international best seller. Interest in it is very, very high. But will it be any good? Or will it be very bad? That remains to be seen.

I, for one, can’t wait. And “Hey, Boo!” is a great documentary on Lee and is coming up soon on PBS. Don’t miss it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On seeing “King’s Speech” again, Helena & Colin totally rule the screen

It’s suddenly spring in New York City, after a horribly snowy winter, which probably isn’t completely over yet, SUDDENLY we’re having a day in the mid-50s temperature-wise! You don’t even need a coat today!

Well, spring was certainly in my step when I decided to see a 10:25AM screening of “The King’s Speech” which I hadn’t seen since that first early 9AM screening. The first press screening on the first day of TIFF’10, this past September. I knew it was probably going to be very, very good. I mean, it had Harvey Weinstein behind it, and that star-studded British cast.

I just wasn’t ready to have my mind totally blown by the quiet brilliance of this masterful film. Which I  instinctually knew was an instant classic. And that Colin Firth’s performance was one of the greatest ones I would ever seen on-screen. His stuttering, reluctant King George VI is one of the great screen performances, and has been hailed as such with Firth winning every single Best Actor award on his way to the Oscar podium.

I had the privilege of being of being the first one to broach the Big O news to Colin Firth himself, AND Geoffrey Rush AND director Tom Hooper, that beastly hot September morn in Toronto. And you can see their more than startled reactions at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltSHow

On seeing it a second time so early in the morning, I wanted to make sure that I saw it with an attentive, quiet audience. Who laughed at the appropriate moments, and were crying at the end. Just like they did in Toronto. And this half-full, respectful audience applauded at the end, just like they did in Toronto. I stayed spell-bound, just like I had in Toronto, all through the end credits and the lovely Alexander Desplat piano melodies. I remember that TIFF audience of hardened critics were all spell-bound, too. It’s like they were rooted in their chairs, totally blown away by the simplicity and beauty of what they had just seen. Nobody left at TIFF, til the end credits were finished. Then there was thunderous applause. We had seen the best film of this year or any year. We had seen a mastepiece.

All great films are their own miracles. And I have to say that if you want to really enjoy evenings in this month TMC’s “31 Days of Oscar” is just one wonderful night of cinema after the other. I’ve seen “The Heiress,” “Mrs. Miniver”, “Forrest Gump”, “Marty”, “Gone With the Wind” and “Twelve Angry Men” in just the past 10 days! Magnificent films, all.

And “The King’s Speech” is right up there with them. Seeing Colin Firth’s utterly brilliant performance again, this time I was even more astounded at the levels of pain he reached. Every time that poor man had to open his mouth and say something,  the inner torment, the hell that man expressed each time he had to utter even the most mundane and simple of declarative sentences was shattering.

His George VI is coming unglued in nearly every scene. And Tom Hooper’s direction is equally masterful. Always capturing the era(the 1930s) as if it was a doc happening right before your eyes today.

When Colin Firth ended our career-high interview(for me anyway…He kept saying “I don’t want you to leave. I just don’t want you to leave.” But alas I had to…) he stood up to shake my hand and I was astonished that he was a strapping 6’3″.

You see Tom Hooper and his excellent cinematographer always framed Colin to look short and small, which the real King George VI was, and Colin Firth, the man, isn’t at all.

This time I saw how he was always seated in ill-fitting chairs. The wide-angle lens Hooper uses makes this handsome man as plain and ungainly and painful to look at as possible.He is always shot looking out of place. Even in the most comfortable of surroundings, he is uncomfortable. He is always framed alone in very large, empty,slightly distorted spaces. He is trapped in the royal fish bowl, and he can’t get out of it. And only Helena Bonham Carter’s sweet supportive Queen Elizabeth penetrates those spaces.

Bonham Carter’s performance as the Queen just totally jumped off the screen at me this time. I was able to gauge her silences and the painful look in her large dark saucer eyes much more carefully. This is a portrait of a happy marriage made painful only by circumstance and the husband’s disability. The love between the two is palpable, and magnificently rendered by Bonham Carter.

The first section of the film is entirely hers, as she strikes out on her own, to find just the right Speech Therapist, for her beleaguered husband, then only the Duke of York. And simply a royal prince, who was never brought up to be the king.

Bonham Carter’s opening scenes are just a delight as she proceeds to a part of London she never in a million years felt that she would ever find herself in. Even her struggles with a lift(British elevator)’s caged door gates becomes a moment of hilarious business, and then it doesn’t go up. It descends to the basement. Which is where Logue’s apartments are. Or the scene as when she passes her husband off  to Logue as “Mr. Johnson,” a banker who has to give public speeches.

The second viewing just made me gasp at how strong her performance really is and how she does stand up in her own quiet way to the demands of the role of the ultimate supportive wife. And certainly the category of Best Supporting Actress is made for this sort of  classic turn.

She does not chew the scenery. She does not overact or over-react. Her calibration, guided by Hooper’s gentle, subtle directorial hand, is superb. And very, very moving. The last scene when the King actually has to do “The Speech” of the title of the movie, keeps cutting back to her, with her young daughter Elizabeth at her side, listening, her wide-dark eyes, pools of concern, and love and pain, and finally she is subtlely moved to tears,or  more accurately a single, beautiful tear as her husband rallies his country to war against the Nazis.

Her one tear reduces all the audience to tears, too.

And Kings and Queens, especially such sympathetic, heroic ones as these two, win our hearts and usually Oscars, too.

And Geoffrey Rush? He deserves his own separate piece – coming soon.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: