a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Gotham Awards. Independent Spirit Awards’

“Roma” One the Best Films You’ll Ever See

This year I saw one of the best films I’ll ever see, bar none, and it was the NYFF centerpiece film “Roma.” Mexican Oscar-winning(director for “Gravity)Alfonso Cuaron has done the seemingly impossible follow-up to that intergalactic magisterial feature. He has turned the camera inward and backward. To his childhood in Mexico City. And he’s done it in Black and White! And it is without a doubt one of the best films of the year and one of the best films I’ll ever see. Ever.
The most unlikely of subjects, the inner(and outer) life of a maid, the brilliant Yalitza Aparicio. She has never acted before and she just takes your breath away as Cleo. The put-upon, multliple-dutied nanny, housekeeper, laundress and mother of the earth. She really is the glue that is holding this upper-middle class doctor’s family together as they seem to be falling apart. 
Her story is galvanic, epic and heart-breaking and Aparicio embodies everything that is noble and good in 1970 Mexico, which is a scene of almost constant class conflict and wars. You know Cleo is more than capable of the humble, quotidian of chores she is tasked to do, but where else can she go? She clings to her menial job as if it were a pair of well-worn rosary beads. She prays for her hired family and we pray for her to transcend their problems, as they treat her and mistreat her, as all servants are treated. You know if she loses this job, with this her adopted family, she will lose her life.

Yalitza Aparicio could and should get nominated for Best Actress, as Cuaron certainly will be for Best Director. He also wrote the screenplay. He also shot it. He also co-produced it and co-edited it. And every gorgeous black and white shot should be framed as a work of art, even though he is photographing the most ordinary things.

Cuaron had a nanny Lebo, and that’s who Cleo is based on. And when he showed the completed film to her, she burst into tears, as I did watching it. This film is a love poem to her. And to all mothers and unselfish care-givers. To tell you any more of the plot, of what happens to Cleo, as it all rings so true, it hurts. It would spoil it.  It will break your heart. “Roma,” the name of the area of Mexico City the film is set in, in simply the best film he’s ever done, and a masterpiece.

Oscar at Alfred Dunhill. The IFP Nominees Party.

So everyone, of course, was wearing black. It’s New York. It’s getting colder. It’s always black, black, black.

 Me? I was wearing my famous purple pants and cap, and everything else was orange. I POPPED in the room, needless to say. I hate going to parties and being the most famous person there.

But WHAT was I doing at Alfred Dunhill, probably the most expensive, exclusive ( it’s British, y’know. They started out making saddles…and er, moved on up…) Men’s shop in NYC? I think it outdoes Brook Brothers. But at least at Brooks Brothers, there’s some traces of color, some variations, in style, in selection. But no. These were all slate-grey to black SUITS. And you know what the word “suits” mean in Hollywood. The irony was getting a little heavy in here. And where were the Dunhill swag bags? Oh, there weren’t any…

Black, that’s what all the men were wearing, and all the women, too. Well, SOME women wore black skirts. Being all Orange myself, I felt like a Mexican at a Presbyterian funeral.

And the deepest irony is that this was the party for the Gotham Awards Nominees. The Gotham Awards being the East Coast equivalent of the West Coast’s Independent Spirit Awards. Since when did the Gothams get so chic?

The Gothams in a couple of weeks are the first awards ceremony of the New York season. A minor distinction because there’s virtually no ceremonies here. It’s all on the Left Coast, so being a New York Oscar blogger, well, it ain’t easy.

But oh! Suddenly, there was Scott Feinberg!

Who actually IS an Oscar blogger himself. www.scottfeinberg.com

He was started out at Awardsdaily as I did, and still proudly am, but Scott has his own Oscar site. I have merely this humble WordPress blog. And Scott flies back and forth from Coast to Coast. I, however,due to fate and circumstance, just stay here.

But Scott who looked like he should be or MIGHT be wearing Alfred Dunhill at any moment did have a few things to say. He was standing with a bright young lady from 42W who surprised with an invitation only on the day OF. I was supposed to be attending Anthony Del Col’s and Conor McCreery’s big graphic novel, of “Kill Shakespeare” launch party in the Village and they were EXACTLY at the same time. But when Oscar calls…you’ve got to go.

And what about Feinberg”s favorite topic of late? The Annette Bening/Julianne Moore duo of competing(for the Oscar)Lesbian Moms in “The Kids Are All Right?” He agreed with the Focus Features’ exec who was there(I was recognizing press and press agents, but NOOO actors, and no nominees) who said ONCE AGAIN, and with feeling, that both women are being “run” in the Oscar Derby, equally, and that all the stories and rumors about both of them, are nothing but “Stirring the Pot”. “It’s because it’s two women, and they are both playing Lesbians and they have to have something to write about. None of it is true. They are both equal.”

But the ever dapper Scott did admit that he thought Natalie Portman was the leading contender in the Best Actress category, and I concurred.

“Did you see it?” he said, And I said, yes, and that I agreed with him, and that I loved her in it.

“AND SHE DANCES?!?” I exclaimed,” Degree of difficulty!” The Academy counts things like that.

And then we both remarked that in the Hollywood Reporter’s recent  Best Actress Issue Roundtable video, Natalie Portman said NOTHING. And the others were all looking at her, like…well, through tense smiles I would say. Or gritted teeth. Judge for yourself at www.hollywoodreporter.com

The others were Amy Adams and Hilary Swank, both of whom very well may not be nominated, so what were they doing there? Annette Bening(but NOT Julianne Moore), Nicole Kidman and Helena Bonham Carter(who would be in Supporting, for both “The King’s Speech” and “Alice in Wonderland.”)

“Natalie Portman said NOTHING!” Scott exclaimed.

“She just sat there and grinned,” I said.

And I was thinking “Who does that grin remind me of? Oh! The Cheshire Cat! It’s a grin that says ‘I know I’m going to win.”

 And I agreed with Scott again. She didn’t need to say anything. She was the least needy of the group.

And we both again agreed on Colin Firth for “Best Actor” for “King’s Speech.”

“Yeah, he’s got it,” we both said simultaneously, almost.

And the irony of this Party for the Nominees was that there were virtually no nominees.

Except for Oliver Platt, who was wearing a full face of make-up. He was announcing the nominees for their new Genius Award, which is like a people’s choice award in that emails were taken from the public to determine the nominees.Platt was nominated as part of the Ensemble of”Please Give,” a film that went by in a blip.

I didn’t hear who was nominated as Geniuses, but I’m sure they’ll send me a press release list later, and I’ll add them in. I couldn’t hear because I was too busy going on an Oscar egg hunt with Scott Feinberg.

So besides Scott and Bryan Brown of  www.Indiewire.com and Oliver Platt, I didn’t recognize anybody. And nobody could point any of the nominees out to me. Not even the programmers of the Awards! “Producers,” I was told, “It’s mostly producers who are here.” But nobody knew who they were. OR what films they were with…VERY frustrating.

I do know that the irony of the evening was those rooms full of expensive suits. The kind of suits that Indpendent Filmmakers could NEVER in their wildest dreams afford. I certainly couldn’t. Maybe Scott Feinberg can.

But the humanity of it all was summed up to me by the dashing Dunhill Executive of All Media, Jason Beckley, who was British,and who I thought was a Nominee, an Independent Film Star, or at the very least a director, but no, he has Dunhill’s Marketing Director and just flew in from London for this event.

Marketing Director Beckley said, in all sincerity, that “Alfred Dunhill wants to be associated more and more with culture. With the Arts. With Cinema. That’s why we’re sponsoring this party here.”

And he meant it. And if that’s the case, it’s a good thing. And I’m glad I went.

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