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Posts tagged ‘Helen Mirren’

I See “Hitchcock” for the THIRD Time! Helen Mirren for Best Actress!

Seeing the wonderful “Hitchcock” again for the THIRD time, in light of the recent Golden Globe & SAG nominations, where Dame Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Hitchcock’s late unsung wife, delighted me once again, and in ways I didn’t expect.

The Sat.nite NYC audience was very appreciative and laughed more than at the other two very packed press screenings I saw it at previously. And THIS time it also again got applause at the end! And this from the paying public!?

Something really good is going on here that maybe most critics have overlooked. It PLEASES  audiences, just as Hitchcock’s films did. The audience was always in the fore-front of Hitchcock’s mind.

I was enchanted all over again and was more impressed than ever with Helen Mirren’s marvelously layered, intelligent portrayal as Hitchcock’s real life wife, who was his greatest and until now unknown collaborator. Editor, writer, wife, critic, she gave Hitchcock her all and never asked for any credit and “didn’t want any” to quote director Sascha Gervasi.

You can see my interview with him lower in this blog, and also at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow bien sur.

Mirren really dominated the film tonight in a way I hadn’t noticed her doing before. Before it had seem like a balanced duet between these two great actors. But tonight it struck me for the first time as Alma’s film. She seems the dominant one in the relationship, oddly, and not him. At home, he seems if not hen-pecked, then strangely passive, or submissive, next to Mirren’s fiery red-headed Alma.

Also since I saw “Hitchcock” last I read the Steve Rubello book it’s based on “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Pyscho.” And interestingly, there’s one, whole chapter on Ed Gein, the opening chapter of the book. And not ONE on Alma! Director Gervasi and his screenwriter really did take it upon themselves to make this Alma’s story, Her Time To Shine, since even Rubello dismisses or overlooks her in his book. Just as she always has been heretofore.

And seeing it tonight with a paying audience of civilian movie-goers, I came away more sure than ever that Dame Helen Mirren was going to get yet ANOTHER Oscar nomination for playing Alma Hitchcock. And the Golden Globes and the SAGs agree with me.

Also in Mirren’s favor is that fact that she is playing a REAL PERSON. A woman, who, historically, has been sinfully overlooked. And so not only is Mirren delivering a powerhouse performance on all levels and looking fabulous at nearly 70 and often in a bathing suit, doing so,she is reclaiming this lost woman’s story, and it’s a great and important one, for the ages. And what an original screen female character Alma Reville Hitchcock is!

Hitchock complains on the imaginary psychiatirist couch to his evil angel, the ghost of Mass Murderer Ed Gein, that he never got an Oscar, and well, I think this year the Academy is going to correct that by giving his smart, stylish, unheralded wife an Oscar nomination. A posthumous recognition, but recognition still.

Helen Mirren also has the advantage in that Alma Reville Hitchcock is a totally unknown personality to us. We know she had a posh British accent, but we don’t know how she walked, talked or “used her hands” as Dame Helen put it in an interview. So Mirren was free to create this most original character of this most original woman out of whole cloth. And we accept and applaud the authority and precision with which she protrays her.

And you know the Oscars, they’ve got to have a Dame somewhere at the Oscars. And Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are also in the mix. But of the three Dame Heleln’s is the most vivid performance.

But strangely, Sir Anthony Hopkins, however, was left out of both the important precursor nominations the GG and the SAGS. What to make of that? Well, it’s a very crowded Best Actor race this year. But his performance is so touching and multi-faceted,acting under what looks like MOUNTAINS of latex make-up and the fattest of fat suits, that the Academy may reward him, too, with a nomination.

The Best Actress race is wide open, still, with Naomi Watts perhaps muddying the waters with “The Impossible.” Keira Knightley’s nomination should be called the Impossible, which is a shame. For the controversial, deconstructed “Anna Karenina.”

The only locks are still the $400 million dollar girl Jennifer Lawrence who has the “Hunger Games” in her favor, although it is the “Silver Linings Playbook” that she is likely to be nominated for, and Jessica Chastain for her stoic CIA operative in “Zero Dark Thirty”. Marion Cotillard is looking pretty solid, still, as I’ve said all along since I saw at TIFF ’12, her marvelous, miraculous performances as double amputee in “Rust and Bone” and then there’s Rachel Weisz, coming up on the outside in a small British Indie “Deep Blue Sea,” which I saw at TIFF’11.

Weisz already has an Oscar (For “The Constant Gardener”), and so do Cotillard and Mirren, for “La Vie En Rose” and “The Queen” respectively. But I think it’s now ~

1. Jennifer Lawrence

2. Jessica Chastain

3. Marion Cotillard

4. Helen Mirren

5. Rachel Weisz

“The Impossible” is not doing well in this, its’ Opening Weekend, and if that continues, poor Naomi Watts will be a wash as well, in this suddenly contentious category.

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“Hitchcock” Rules the Oscar Race He Never Won in Lifetime! And Helen Mirren as His Unsung Wife Alma WOWOWOW!

I have to declare that “Hitchcock” which I saw last night is now a leading contender in the Oscar Race! Cra-zee about it!

I haven’t enjoyed a movie so much in YEARS! LOVED LOVED LOVED IT! And Dame Helen Mirren could really win herself a second Oscar for playing Alma Reville Hitchcock, a woman whose little-known story, has fascinated me  for YEARS, as much as Hitchcock himself

I watch at least ONE Hitchcock movie a week! I HAVE to! I just watched, then re-watched with commentary “Vertigo” this weekend! In “Hitchock” Sir Anthony Hopkins was a joy to behold and absolutely indelible as the Master Himself.

I was ENTHRALLED by the great Hitch and Alma’s life-long  love story and by the actors’ great tennis game of playing off each other so magnificently. Acting Royalty showing the reason why they were knighted and damed, respectively. I’m on SUCH a high from this delightful, droll movie and “Hitchcock” totally establishes Alma Reville as a historic film presence in her own right. AT LAST! I thought this was a wonderful tribute to a woman whose contribution to world cinema as been overlooked. Until NOW. WOWOWOW!

Alma Reville,, in her lifetime, also was a woman who has beloved by all who met her. Everybody behind-the-scenes, in “the biz” knew who she was and the contribution she made to all her husband’s films. And they had nothing but respect and admiration for her. Read her daughter Pat’s “Alma Hitchcock, The Woman Behind the Man.”

Arguably, Hitch couldn’t have done what he did without her. And this film delightfully, but firmly shows that. It plants Alma firmly in the Cinema Pantheon of Greats, great editor, great screen-writer, great co-producer. great force of nature, and Dame Helen Mirren embodies all that intelligence and quiet power, and sex appeal, too, in a role that will surely get her nominated for Best Actress and may even win her her second Oscar. Her first was for “The Queen” a few years back.

Mirren embodies all those small moments of caring and support and chagrin, as well as the big ones of fury and resentment. And there’s definitely an Oscar Night excerpt scene.  The “fight” scene, which got applause tonight, in an audience of (usually)unresponsive critics! Where Alma unbottles and throttles Hitchcock within an inch of his rotond  life.

And Sir Anthony Hopkins was perfection, too! I think they will both be nominated and the Academy is going to Love,Love, Love this movie and maybe give the Hitchcocks their belated Oscar due. I’m serious! What a great holiday treat from Fox Searchlight! And how thankful am I as a movie goer and critic and Oscarologist that Searchlight DID plunk it right in the middle of the Oscar race! RIGHT WHERE IT DESERVES TO BE! This was the surprise last-minute entry into the “Derby” as Tom O’Neil calls it. Or rather the Oscar season, to be more precise. Tom’s at www.goldderby.com, of course.

I can’t wait to shout it from the housetops!  And I’m shouting it now! I LOVED THIS MOVIE! And Scarlett Johansson! She’s JUST like Janet Leigh herself! I thought I WAS watching Janet Leigh, the pro’s pro, interact with all of the above. Problem with that role is that J.Leigh was a evidently a very circumspect, tight-lipped lady in person, evidently, so this undemonstrative role doesn’t really allow ScarJo to cut loose except in the infamous shower scene, which is re-acted quite vividly and frighteningly here.

And “Hitchcock” is very, very funny too. Hitchcock on John Gavin, “Psycho” s leading man, “He’s as expressive as piece of plywood.”  And “Just call me Hitch. And hold the cock.”

And there’s many, many more droll Hollywood quotes that were zinging by so fast, I can barely remember them. Let alone recount them all here.

And up-and-coming British actor James D’Arcy is great, too as Anthony Perkins. Who of course plays Norman Bates in “Psycho.”

He, who recently played umpteen roles in “Cloud Atlas” and was the Duke of Windsor in  Madonna’s “W/E,” just nails Perkins into the gound and so does Raplh Macchio, who has all of three minutes, or less to make an impression of “Psycho” screen-writer Joseph Stefano.

Jessica Biel has the easier role of resentful Hitchcock cast-off Vera Miles. She, who got pregnant, just at the start of “Vertigo”, and was famously replaced by Kim Novak And the rest is history. Hitchcock never get over that snub. As he never got over Ingrid Bergman forsaking him for Europe  and Roberto Rossilini and Grace Kelly for becoming HRH Princess Grace of Monaco.

“Vertigo” is now considered the Number One film of all time. Beating “Citizen Kane” this year in “Sight and Sound”s tally of the Greatest Film of All Time. Clearyly Kim Novak was the right choice for that role and gave the greatest performance of her career in it.

Hitchcock won again, but he was still bitter.

Someone notes that the role of Janet Leigh’s sister (Vera Miles) in “Psycho” is a “thankless” one, and Hitchcock retorts, “A thankless role for a thankless girl.”

Buried under what seems like literally tons of make-up and a sixty-pound fat suit, Sir Anthony Hopkins acts through the layers of latex and padding and it just seems to become HIM. Hitchcock.

Based on Stephen Rabello’s book “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho'”, the classic film is here a back-drop to Hitch’s love affair with his, until now, unknown wife. Hitch is 60. And so is Alma.

And he’s longing for a “return” to his former creative powers that he has begun to feel are dimming with time. He wants to do a low-budget slasher film, which is what “Psycho” was first perceived as, and nobody wants to fund it, so he has to do it himself.

He mortgages his house and pool, without even consulting Alma. Something I don’t think Hitch would ever have done IRL. True, he did have to mortage his house. And bascially financed “Psycho” himself. But he would, in real life, have asked Alma first. And she clearly said “Yes. Do it.” He never did anything without her say-so.

Lew Wasserman (his agent) here portrayed quite cannily by the great stage actor & Tony Winner Michael Stuhlbarg(who is also in “Lincoln.” I’ll review that in two days)gets him a great deal and the happy ending is in real life “Psycho” made millions. And garnered Janet Leigh a supporting actress nomination and Hitchcock another best director nod. But neither won.

How ironic it would be if Dame Helen Mirren won an Oscar for playing his wife or that Sir Anthony Hopkins did for playing Hitch himself. The Academy is going to love this film. It could even get into Best Picture!

Meanwhile, the only suspense YOU’LL feel, is “When am I going to see this great, fun movie?” It opens Thansgiving Day! It was SUCH a luxuriant experience I can’t wait to see it again!

Oscar Buzz High on “Hitchcock”

As NY struggles to recover from the devastation of “Hurricane Sandy”, I struggle to keep up with the Oscar race, such as it is, now that half of Showbiz, the NY half is basically turned off.

The big event of the Oscar week was “Hitchcock”s premiere at the AFI fest in LA. It seems the reception was rapturous, and Pete Hammond of http://www.deadline.com and Tom O’Neil of http://www.goldderby.com both were there as was Anne Thompson of http://www.indiewire.com. Pete and Tom O. both agreed in their reactions. Both thought that BOTH Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren will receive Oscar nods for playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and his feisty, smart collaborator/wife Alma Reville.

Hitchcock himself in his lifetime never won an Oscar, believe it or not, though his first film “Rebecca” won Best Picture in 1941.He was nominated five times for Best Director, but never won. And evidently there is a scene in “Hitchcock” where he complains about this while lying on a psychiatrist’s couch. Lolol…Can’t wait!

This OTT reaction of Hammond/O’Neil was matched by In Contention’s Kris Tapley. In Contention, his smart, savvy Oscar site has been absorbed into HitFix.com for those of you keeping track of these things.

As I’ve said before both Anne Thompson and he do a terrific weekly podcast called Oscar Talk, which airs after noon EST, even this week, with Tapley in New York. He said he was the only member of HitFix’s team that still had power. So there he was sounding loud and clear on Oscar Talk with Anne.

Anne Thompson did NOT like “Hitchcock” AT ALL. And she and Kris practically came to blows over it. In the end the gallant Mr. Tapley smoothed things over by a bet. He bet her that BOTH Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren will get nominated by the Academy for Best Actor and Best Actress. And Anne bet him a dinner with a bottle of wine that NEITHER would “get in.”!!!!

Now they RARELY differ to this extent. I have to say that I have not had the privilege of seeing “Hitchcock” myself yet. But Anne Thompson, as I do, feels Hitchcock is her “cinema idol” and she, unlike myself, does not want to see his reputation “tarnished” by these two recent depictions of him on film. “Hitchcock” and HBO’s “The Girl.”

So we have Pete Hammond, Tom O’Neil and Kris Tapley all saying “Yea” and only Anne Thompson saying “Nay.” These are died-in-wool Oscarologists and except for Tapley all are in my age group. I tend to think that they are right, the guys. Let’s face it, the Academy is all men.

And I think, at least in the Best Actress race, Dame Helen Mirren, already an Oscar winner for “The Queen” six years ago, is VERY likely to replace either Emmanuelle Riva or Qu’venzhane Wallis, who are both more than shaky in their slots.

The Best Actor race is the one that is soooo jammed with contenders. I think Daniel Day-Lewis will get nominated for sure for “Lincoln” which I saw, but am embargoes not to write about fully until Nov.7(!) So you’ll have to wait for my take on this heavily in contention film .

There’s also the upcoming Hugh Jackman in “Les Miz” (still unseen) and then John Hawkes in “The Sessions” is another certainty. And Denzel Washington in “Flight” just entered that race, with strong reviews. I really wonder about Joaquim Phoenix now.

After his remarked upon remarks about the Oscar being “utter bullshit” and a “bad tasting, dirty carrot” that he “didn’t want to taste” or “eat”, that and the failure of “The Master” on all fronts and its’ divisive  reaction critically may very well squeeze him out of this tight category. Especially with Sir Anthony and Hugh Jackman coming on strong.

I guess I feel more normal today. This is the first time that I have written about the Oscars since the storm hit.

And for the record, no, I did not see “Silver Linings Playbook” which is one of the many screenings that got cancelled because of the storm.

Also, Tom O. did not mention Scarlett Johansson as a contender for Best Supporting Actress for “Hitchcock” for playing the late Janet Leigh. I think Kris Tapley did and so did Pete Hammond.

Pete Hammond, since http://www.Deadline.com has merged with Variety is now probably the most important Oscar prognosticator in the biz.

Jeff Wells wrote a very weird review where he doesn’t mention the Oscar chances of either Hopkins or Mirren. You can read it at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

And Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com was there, too,  but hasn’t posted her review yet. It doesn’t officially open til Thanksgiving Day.

Oh, and Oscar God Dave Karger, tweeted after seeing “Hitchcock” that he thought BOTH Hopkins and Mirren had “decent shots.”

Some Lights Go Back on, but the subways STILL are not all back.

Life in NYC post-Sandy is symbolized to me by that dangling, dislodged crane over W.57th St. It seems like everything here is dangling by a thread now. Nothing is certain anymore. You keep waiting for the next shoe, or crane, to drop. And there’s another storm coming this week!

The buses and subways are now back to charging fares. They are no longer free. I found that out the hard way when I went to return some items to the library today. Ouch! They should keep it free until ALLLLL of the subways are back! And a lot are not.

I would say it’s like 3/5s there. Lower Manhattan is still a frightening dead zone, though lights have come back on. But not the subways. Buses go down there at night, I understand, but I wouldn’t venture there. New York like this is scary enough in the daytime, nevermind at night.

But you do go stir crazy if you stay in too much. But going out with the weather turning colder than its’ been in a long time in NY,(we barely had a winter last year), if you’re not bundled up like an Eskimo, the chill winds can kill you.

Today the temperature kept dropping, and I had to go out, and go to the library cross town, as I said, then back uptown to the TV station to drop off this week’s “Stephen Holt Show” and that’s a long, cold walk, let me tell you.

And with W.57th STILL a danger zone, buses were being re-routed over to 9th Ave. from Fifth and Sixth and 7th…well, you get the picture.

Then they continue on back on their regular routes once they get past The Dangling Crane.
And who do I meet on the bus going back home, after dark, from the TV station? Well, one of my favorite British character actresses of all time Miriam Margoyles!

She was a particular favorite of mine from the many,many film and TV roles I saw here in when I lived in London in the 70s and now that I live here, I kept following her work.

She’s in town she told me “safe and warm on the Upper West Side” to do a two performance only stint of her one-woman show “Dickens Women” at the Morgan Library. It sounds delicious! And particularly with Madame Margoyles playing Dickens perfect-for-her eccentric characters.

Her voice is so deep and warm and resonant, the chill New York night didn’t seem so cold anymore. She told me she was on her way to see “The Heiress” starring Jessica Chastain on Broadway. And I told her I was also seeing it later this week.

I also took a wild guess and thought that she and Dame Helen Mirren might be very good friends. Same age. British. Acting royalty. AND THEY ARE!

I told Miriam that Dame Helen had just had great success the night before at the AFI film festival with “Hitchcock” which she didn’t know anything about.

“Oh, I love Helen! Don’t you? She’s a wonderful person!” and I concurred saying that I had interviewed her many times.

“And Sir Anthony Hopkins is playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Dame Helen is playing his wife,” I told her and she continued to enthuse.

“I’ve worked many times with both of them. They are both lovely people!”

I told her that people are thinking that they BOTH could get Oscar nominations.

And I told her is was worried about her play because the Morgan Library is in the “Dark” zone…er, I think…

And she said, “The Lights will be on by then!”

Actors! They keep this city buzzing!

Oscar Campaign for Christopher Plummer Begins With “Beginners”!

Is too soon to talk about Oscar races? Not if you ask Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone over at Awardsdaily, OR if you ask anyone at Focus. Focus Features has gotten VERY savvy about how to turn indie Oscar seekers’ hopes into Academy reality, esp.with Gay-themed features. Like last year’s unlikely Best Picture Nominee~ “The Kids Are All Right.” And now timed just right, for Gay Pride month a beautiful, sweet film “Beginners” just may WIN Christopher Plummer his first Oscar! At age 80-something!

Hale, hearty and handsome, and happy to be being interviewed by the likes of gay ole me, Plummer admitted to me this morning at the Waldorf Astoria that I was much gayer than the character he plays in “Beginners”!

Mike Mills, who directed “Thumbsuckers” another Indie with our mutual love goddess Tilda Swinton as one of its’ many stars, (It also included Keanu Reeves and Benjamin Bratt), has done a lovely job of creating a sweet memory piece about his father. This is a true story. Plummer plays Dad. And Ewan MacGregor plays his startled, but VERY understanding and patient grown son, Mill’s stand-in. Melanie Laurent, the beauteous French actress, who burnt down the house with her incendiary performance in Quentin Tarentino’s “Inglourious Basterds” a couple of seasons back, is MacGregor’s love interest.

And Melanie told me in her beautiful French accent(she had a translator present just in case) that “If we save one life from this film, that shows that homosexuality can be accepted as part of life, then we’ll have done something good.”

And this film is so touchingly, achingly beautiful, and meaningful, I think “Beginners” will go on to do just that. And hopefully win Christopher Plummer his first Oscar for his role of the 75-year-old Out and Proud Gay Dad. He also gets to die in this film of Stage Four Cancer. Oscar likes death scenes, too.

And since Focus is so wisely putting him in Supporting this year, a category he COULD prevail in, well, I just think he will.

Christopher Plummer is a great stage and screen actor whose career spans over 50 years. “The Sound of Music” another Oscar winner for Best Picture, back in the day, was his first wide-screen success back in the ’60s.

He was nominated the year before last for his ferocious Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station.” Helen Mirren was, too. As his over-the-top wife. And I asked him if he thought she was Too OTT as the flamboyant Russian countess and he said, “No. I thought she was restrained. She could have done so much more.”

Which if you have seen “The Last Station” is a very funny comment indeed.

And “Beginners” also resonates because it’s the first film to really deal with gays in their ’70s. Judging by Christopher Plummer’s vibrant Mel, we can all look forward to a rollicking good time!

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