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Posts tagged ‘Helena Bonham-Carter’

“Les Miz” in IMAX! My Third Time! Bliss to the Max!!

“Les Miserables,” which is my #1 film of the year, can also be seen now in IMAX, which I didn’t know about until director Tom Hooper mentioned it in an interview. And so I HAD to see it for a THIRD time in a Whirlwind month of “Miz.”

There’s so much to say, and so little time…before I see “Les Miz” AGAIN! Yes! It’s THAT good! And THAT addictive!

FINALLY! Tickets were available for purchase by ordinary movie-goers. It has been sold out in NYC, since its’ opening Christmas Day, when it broke B.O. records, and it’s taking off to be a record-breaking hit all over the world! It may even go over $100 million internationally by the end of this weekend!

And they said musicals weren’t popular with the masses any more!

Well, “Les Miz” is bringing out a certain type of movie-goer those who’ve been STARVED for a great movie musical.

Since I was a kid, it was always the movie musicals that got me into movies in the first place. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” being run over and over and over again on Million Dollar Movie on televisioni on Ch.9. Every single day, maybe even twice a day, when I was a bespectacled, red-headed kid growing up in the Bronx. Then came “Les Girls” and that little boy thought all movies were SUPPOSED to sing.

So it’s grand, just grand that “Les Miserables” returns movies to its’ rightful place, right near OPERA. Opera used to be mass entertainment in its’ time, and I just love that “Les Miz” onscreen is totally sung through. And what wonderful,stirring, powerful music it is!

From those first three thrilling chords of “Look Down” “Ah-huh!” Klang! “Ah-huh” Klang! And the spectacular wreck of a ship hulk that gets hauled into view by literally hundreds of dirty, grimy slaves of the state, Jean Valjean main among them. Well, it shakes you and just takes your breath away at the same time!

Audiences for “Les Miz” come PRIMED now to applaud, it seems to me. At an invited (non-critics) screening I saw(my second time)(many Academy members in attendance) there was applause at least four times and cheering and standing and MORE applause at the end. And this was without any of the talent present, which ups the applause meter even more. Hugh Jackman’s name onscreen got applause at the end as did Anne Hathaway’s and Eddie Redmayne’s and strangely Helena Bonham-Carter’s.

Well, last night this paying, weekday night audience applauded at least EIGHT times!

Of course, Anne Hathaway’s brilliant, blistering, unforgettable solo “I Dreamed a Dream” got applause. And she’ll probably get an Oscar, too.

And then they didn’t really applaud again til “On My Own”, which had not gotten applause at the previous two screenings I attended. That’s Eponine’s rain-soaked solo essayed here by Samantha Barks.

Then, of course, after that, “One Day More” got a rousing hand, and it continued virtually unabated five times more til the magnificent ending! I was losing count in the glory of it all as the suspense mounted, and of course, the wonderful Eddie Redmayne got his hand in “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables,” and the Thernadiers (a super oily Sasha Baron Cohen and the equally slimy Helena Bonham-Carter) even got applauded when they got thrown out of Marius and Cosette’s wedding.! Cheers, too! Amazing!

The involvement of the audience was like at  Broadway show. But no Broadway show gets stopped with applause EIGHT times! At least! But this being a high-paced film, “Les Miserables” never paused for a moment. I don’t think the stage version ever got this much applause. Maybe the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts did. But they were EVENTS. This is just a blockbuster musical. Incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life as a film critic.

“Les Miserables” never fails to disappoint. But I have to say that IMAX isn’t really necessary to see it in. Everything gets magnified and since the film is shot in extreme close-ups most of the time, it really is excessively CLOSE in Imax.Dizzying. I was counting the warts on Russell Crowe’s face. And then the hairs on the warts. I REALLY didn’t need to be THAT CLOSE. Too much information.

But his Javert is meant to scare. And he does. He’s the villain, and his strange, thunderous, bellowed singing is the film’s one discordant note, but it works, because he’s the one who’s out of sync with the melodious singing of the rest of the cast, as his character is out of sync, at war, with the rest of the world.

Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean wows me every time! The demands that are placed on him are literally Herculean, and utterly Oscar-bait-y and Oscar – worthy. And then he has to drag the wounded, half-dead, Eddie Redmayne through the sewers of Paris! Saving his life, in  yet another one of Victor Hugo’s novel’s great set-pieces, that is rendered impossibly odious and odoriferous in these tremendous close-ups. Oh yes, Jackman’s “Bring Him Home” sung to the sleeping Redmayne got a spontaneous round of applause, too.

“Les Miserables” is setting audiences free in a wonderful way. They seem FREE to applaud. And VERY free to cry. At the end, with the incredibly moving climatic scenes, there’s not a dry eye in the house. My eyeglasses were salted up with tears. But I was happy. The Greeks has a word for this effect. They called it “Catharsis.” I call it Oscar.

Eddie Redmayne ~ Best Supporting Actor for “Les Miz”?

As the reviews keep trickling in, http://www.movieline.com is positing the interesting theory that it is Eddie Redmayne as Marius, the romantic interest, who sings “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” and many other numbers, that is emerging as the surprise potential nominee from the early screenings today of “Les Miz” in NYC.

Russell Crowe’s singing as expected isn’t up to the operatic demands of the score and movieline thinks that Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter as the villainous comic relief are just well, out of place, with the somber tone of the overall movie.

But people WERE crying. And cheering. And jumping to their feet and shouting “thank you” to Anne Hathaway, who seems the most likely nominee now for Best Supporting Actress. Fantine is a relatively short role in this long (2 hr.35 min.) musical, but she seems to be catching fire like nobody’s business in Supp. Actress.

So movieline thinks that the Best Supporting Actor in “Les Miserables” is Eddie Redmayne. Ok. I’ll buy that. Game on! I’ll second that emotion.

People crying, cheering, jumping to their feet? Sounds like an Oscar winner to me.

“Les Miz” First Preview in NYC to Cheers! Standing O! Could get historic 16 Oscar Nominations!

“Les Miserables” previewed this afternoon to a packed, cheering crowd at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. And the reaction is ecstatic according to those who were there, applause at the end of every number, and standing ovation and cheers greeting director Tom Hooper and the cast members Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne who were there also in attendance.

Kris Tapley at http://www.hitfix.com who was there and who has that wonderful podcast with Anne Thompson every week called Oscar Talk(but not this week) says in the comments his just-printed piece is getting that he thinks that Hugh Jackman(Jean Valjean), Russell Crowed(Javert), Anne Hathaway(Fantine), Eddie Redmayne(Marius), Amanda Seyfried(Cossette), Samantha Barks(Eponine), Sacha Baron Cohen(Thernadier) and Helena Bonham-Carter (M. Thernadier) could ALLLL get nominations.

Well, that sounds like a SAG Ensemble nod right there.(There as a screening earlier today for their nominating committee) and if Tapley is RIGHT. That’s One lead Best Actor for Jackman. THREE Supporting Actor nods of Redmayne, Crowe and Cohen and FOUR for Best Supp. Actress for Hathaway, Seyfried, Barks, and Bonham-Carter.

Well, THAT alone would be historic and mean that “Les Miz” is going to end up with a staggering number of nominations. Maybe the highest vote total ever.

Best Picture, Best Director(Hooper), Best Actor, 3 Best Supp. Actors, 4 Best Supp. Actresses, Best Original Song(They added one called “Suddenly”) Best Costumes, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing. That’s SIXTEEN!

I’m not counting Best Score, because that has to be written directly for the screen, but this certainly was not.

Scott Feinberg at http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com is a bit more balanced than Tapley. He thinks Jackman in a very crowded Best Actor race SHOULD be nominated but may struggle to get in. And he thinks that only Hathaway is a slam-dunk in the Supporting races.

I’m just THRILLED! I can’t wait to see it!

And I bet you can’t either. It opens on Christmas Day.

Harry Potter FINALLY is Oscar-worthy! It’s an Oscar juggernaut! Watch Out!

What a shock to me, a Harry Potter under-whelm-ist, to find myself LOVING “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Pt.2”! I went to the final All Media Press screening expecting only good air-conditioning. (It was 105 in NYC ).)Imagine my shock and awe to find a magical screen classic that Oscar is gonna love all over the place!

You could hear a pin drop during the serious scenes. I’m not kidding. And grown men crying at the end. OSCAR BINGO!

I saw it in 2D. The Imax-3D screening was all booked out and I’m not a big 3D fan anyway. Those glasses make me sick. But the good Oscar news for “HP7” as it’s being called or HPATDHP2, is that it works JUST FINE in 2D! And that’s the Academy friendly level of perception, let’s face it.

That also means that the STORY is working. HP7 is like Harry Potter On Steroids. The action is WAY ramped out from the Opening Minutes til the end. And also Daniel Radcliffe has really grown as an actor, too, and he’s got to carry this mega-monster and HE DOES! Yes, I’m saying it, even HE could get a Best Actor nomination, teen-ager that he was when he made this a couple of years ago. Those special FX take a long time to sync in. And they are more elaborate and eye-popping than anything I’ve ever seen in this CGI world we all now live in.

And he’s got a great screen villain in Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort to play off of here. And Fiennes’ his face all but totally obscured by CGI AND massive make-up out-acts or acts OVER the face mask to perhaps give what is the best performance in the film and very likely get an another Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He’s so genuinely scary that he recalls his Nazi Concentration Camp commandant in “Schindler’s List.”

THAT was his break-out role and I always thought he played BAD very powerfully, and he does so here, too.

It’s funny that he may be up against the sweet’n’sour turn of Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” but that’s what may shape up as The Race.

And Costume Design, Cinematography, Special Effects, Film Editing,  Sound Editing, Art Direction, it’s gonna score in all the below-the-line categories, as they are called here Stateside. The Brits call them The Technicals.

And what a roll call of British acting talent is on display in even the SMALLEST of supporting role. Main among them, Dame Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagle (sp?) and the aforementioned fabulous Fiennes, Julie Walters, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Ciaran Hinds~ the list goes on and on.

I think the SURPRISE of its’ finally being as good as it should be is in its’ Oscar favor, too. Plus its the final adventure in the most successful film franchise of all time. And it’s beloved by the masses, who have taught their children to read by reading them the books until they were all on their way to college, where I’m sure Harry fans continued to read them.

My only disappointment was that once again the brilliant Helena Bonham-Carter had next to nothing to do. She’s got even less time as the Witch of Witches, Bellatrix La Strange than see did in the super-boring “Deathly Hollows, Part 1”.

I was not a Harry/Hogwarts fan, but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Pt.2” is a grand entertainment in the old-fashioned Hollywood style, believe it or not. And yes, there’s a war in it, too. As there was in that other fantasy franchise that Oscar FINALLY embraced in its’ final installment, “Lord of the Rings:Return of the King.” So there’s a precedent for this one.

But ALLLLL the LOTRs installments were uniformly excellent, but Harry only got to hit a home run with this one. It’s an Oscar juggernaut in the Grand Manner. I kept being reminded of “Gone With the Wind” and we all know how many Oscars THAT won!

Go Harry!

Oscar Voting Closes;Massive “King’s Speech” Landslide Coming Soon!

Well, it’s alllllmost over! One of the longest Oscar races in history. Although actually it isn’t. Last year had the Olympics to make it two to three weeks longer.

But the reality of The Race is that I personally feel (and this feeling is shared by NEARLY everybody) that The Race ended at Toronto at the VERY FIRST PRESS SCREENING of the Festival. TIFF started and so did the Oscar race with the BANG! of the first unspooling of “The King’s Speech.”

I realized as I sat there with the stunned audience of hardened TIFF-goers that we had seen the Best Film Of the Year. ALREADY! BANG! right out of the gate. It was like a cinematic miracle had occurred. People were crying, and laughing, in all the right places and critics sat frozen watching the end credits roll ALL THE WAY THROUGH. And then there was applause.

There’s always applause at the end of “The King’s Speech.”

Having seen a rather OK BBC version of this same story with James Wilby, who was perfectly fine as the stuttering King, but he didn’t break your heart the way Colin Firth does, and did. Over and over. Throughout this whole movie. The pain. The silences. And fright that man experiences.

A king is a terrible thing to be, is the movie’s motto, I guess. When you don’t want it. And feel you can’t do it…His wife believes in him. And I believe the Academy voters believe in her, too. The most beloved historical figure England produced in the 20th century. The Queen Mum. Who STAYED IN LONDON DURING THE BLITZ!!!!!!!!

People still talk of that courageous act, today. As the Queen Mum is always shown in newsreel footage of WWII tip-toeing gingerly through the rubble of the East End with the King following behind her.

Aw, “The King’s Speech” is going to win everything.! The question is HOW MANY?!? 12? It’s nominated for 12. And I just think the Academy is on a mission this year. They want to send a message to the world loud and clear. WE LIKE MOVIES LIKE THIS ONE! And we want to make more movies like this! Inspirational, moving, unforgettable. I think it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen or will ever likely see.

And so I’m predicting it will win everything it’s nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor(Geoffrey Rush) Best Supporting Actress(Helena Bonham Carter), Best Director Tom Hooper, Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), Best Score(Alexander Desplat), Best Costumes(Jenny Beaven) and on and on and on.

Oh, and in Best Actress…It’s still Natalie Portman.

Last minute heebie -jeebies in this category are not going to unseat the beautiful young girl who gives the performance of her lifetime in “Black Swan” that is the very pregnant Miss Portman.

She didn’t make it across the Pond in her heightened state to receive her BAFTA win, but she did win it over Annette, who’s a lovely lady…but Natalie, there’s no stopping Natalie, and it’s the only win Fox Searchlight may get with that film. But it’s a big one.

So them’s my predictions pard’ner, and I’m sticking to ’em.

Fun fact: Since the BAFTAs moved their date forward to precede Oscar, the category that has matched Oscars 80% of the time is, you guessed, that hard to define, always mettlesome, Best Supporting Actress.

Oh, and Stu Van Airsdale has a FAAAAABulous summation of his Movieline graphs at www.movieline.com

And yes, “The King’s Speech” was filmed (in part) on a gay porno set. It’s been confirmed. WHO CARES?! That would be Lionel Logue’s offices, the one’s with the mottled, decaying, unmistakable backdrop. Makes me like it even more! This is just been revealed TODAY! And watch it wins Best Set Design!

Helena Bonham Carter “The Anti-Pimp” sez Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter seems to have picked up on what Anne Thompson of Indiewire’s Thompson on Hollywood www.indiewire.com  and I (who have been saying this for ages) that Helena Bonham Carter’s chances for an upset are growing by the day in Hollyweird.

Here’s what they have to say, calling her “The Anti-Pimp” ~

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/race/why-anti-pimp-helena-bonham-100373

This is, of course, in reference to Melissa Leo’s unfortunate phraseology of ” The Oscars are pimping yourself out” This phrase has now entered the Oscar Hall of Shame(or Fame, depending on if she wins or loses) But Helena Bonham Carter is definitely given her a run for her self-bought ad money.

And while we’re on the subject of the ever-more-boisterous Best Supporting Actress category 2011, just HOW many Supporting Actress Oscars has Harvey Weinstein won for his fillies in contention?

Let’s see there was Judi Dench, “Shakespeare in Love”, Juliette Binoche,”The English Patient”, Katherine Zeta Jones “Chicago” and Renee Zellweger “Cold Mountain.” That’s a HUGE number in that ever-unpredictable category.

So Helena’s got a kind of history behind her. Just saying….

Geoffrey Rush’s Master Class @ the DGA in NYC

I was absolutely delighted to be invited to attend a very special evening with  Academy Award Nominee Geoffrey Rush this past week.

It was held at the DGA theater and it was PACKED!  The lines were around the block and I think they turned over 300 people away! I didn’t know Geoffrey Rush was so popular.

This event was made even more exciting because  hours before in Blighty, Geoffrey Rush had just beaten Christian Bale to win the BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actor for “The King’s Speech.” And here he was spending the night talking Acting with us. That’s Acting with a very Capital A.

 Taking a break on his off night from his play “Diary of a Madman” which is now playing at BAM, Rush held the crowd in the absolute palm of his hand for nearly two hours as he proved himself a master speaker on the Art of Acting as well as a Master Actor himself. It was a Master Class indeed.

Rush’s biggest obstacle to winning his second Oscar this year for “The King’s Speech” for Best Supporting Actor is his own previous Oscar win for playing Australian pianist David Helfgott in “Shine.” 

Another obstacle is the immensely popular and impressive performance of Christian Bale, also nominated in the same category for “The Fighter.”

Ah! But Geoffrey has the best film of the year “The King’s Speech” as the wind billowing beneath his sails, blowing him steadily towards Oscar for the Second Time. He also has the Oscar Legend himself, Harvey Weinstein tirelessly trying to help him bring home the gold. Rush has had four Oscar nominations including this one and has the unique honor of being of the few, the very few to have won an Oscar, an Emmy AND a Tony!

If Rush WERE to win a Second Oscar it would be the first time in Oscar history that an Australian actor won a second Oscar, both times playing Australians. And Geoffrey Rush is very, very proud of this.

Geoffrey Rush is nothing if not a national spokesperson for the Australian acting community. He makes a point at the beginning of the evening that he was the first Australian to ever win an Oscar. And that Cate, Nicole and Russell Crowe were all following in his footsteps, and he admitted to being hurt when the press neglects to mention this fact, which to him is a matter of great personal, as well as national, pride.

“The King’s Speech” continues that strain of nationalism, by finding Rush once again playing an Australian, a historical figure that actually did exist~ Lionel Logue, who, it can be said, may have single-handedly saved the monarchy.

Logue, a rather controversial and at the same time little known speech therapist, was sought out by the Duchess of York, superbly embodied by Helena Bonham Carter, in the multi-Oscar nominated film, which has made over $100 million at the box-office, and is expected to sweep the Oscars a week from tomorrow on Sunday, Feb.27.

“The King’s Speech” has cast a very bright light on what was heretofore a deep, dark Royal secret that the eventual King George VI needed the help, the almost constant help of this Australian speech therapist to get over his crippling stammer and effectively lead his country and the free world during World War II.

It’s an heartfelt, moving story, magnificently told and Rush is as unforgettable as Lionel Logue as Colin Firth is as the stuttering King. It’s an acting feast for the ages to see these two great actors go toe to toe in a stunning double tour-de-force.

And Rush is very proud of this film and here he was on his off night from “Diary of a Madman” doing his best to KEEP “The King’s Speech” front and center in every actor in New York’s mind. Also, this great film would not have existed without him. He is also the executive producer.

How was he doing this? Well, this was an absolute joy to him. And his zeal for his country and its’ artists was as great as his love of his art. The event was co-sponsored by the Actor’s Studio, a place where there are many Academy voters concentrated and also many acting students from Pace University in Lower Manhattan, with which the Studio is affiliated. And they were there in force.

It was a splendid evening which began with Rush getting a standing ovation for just mounting the stage from the audience. Rush is currently sporting a shaved-bald head for “Mad Man” and he was wearing what looked like a golfing cap.

Geoffrey Rush is very much a man of the people and he gave fully of himself in this overwhelming two-hour event  celebrating his long career in films.

He started by pointing out that he had nearly 20 years or more as an Australian stage actor under his belt before he got his “big break” in “Shine” in 1996 at age 46. “Shine” catapulted him an unknown Australian character actor to international stardom and a Best Actor Oscar. And a film career that has never stopped and a stage career that he continues because he loves acting in front of a live audience.

He kept emphasizing how improbable his road to film stardom was and how even now he is humbled and more or less astounded by the staggering amount and the wide variety of films he has made since “Shine.”

Rush just received the Montecito Award at the Santa Barbara film festival a few weeks back, and the stunning montage of clips that began the evening were being shown in New York, courtesy of the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The festival was also responsible for assembling the wide variety of clips from Rush’s staggering number of films, many of which were new to me.

Rush kept referring to this series of clips, as did the moderater from the New York Daily News. And  one of the reasons for his incredible sang froid and energy propelling the evening forward was that basically he was re-enacting what was pretty much the same questions and anecdotes that he had recounted at Santa Barbara, but to his New York audience it was all incredible acting catnip. They ate him up with a spoon and applauded and laughed  and cheered rather constantly.

It was QUITE a celebration! And the clips of the many, many films he has done showed his incredible range very, very completely. I was actually stunned by much of the footage, a lot of it new to me and never once did Rush seem to duplicate a performance or repeat himself. I could have listened to him all night. He is an indelible original and a great, great actor.

When they finally got around to “The King’s Speech,” which ended the evening, Rush was even more passionate and eloquent than he had been all throughout this great presentation.

What had working with Colin Firth in his now legendary performance of the challenged King taught him? Rush was asked.

And he said, “The Silences. His greatest acting was in the silences as he struggled to get out whatever words he was trying to say.”

“I knew that acting was all about listening,” Rush said, “but he made me REALLY listen. I went from acting-listening, to REALLY listening. That’s why the dynamic is so great between us.”

And those painful silences as Firth struggles heartbreakingly to speak even the simplest sentences, took my breath away once again when I saw “The King’s Speech” again yesterday for the second time, but this time with a real honest-to-goodness audience of paying customers in New York. And they were as spell-bound as I was. You could hear a pin drop. And they, just an average New York movie-going audience applauded at the end. This was in a MULTI-PLEX! This NEVER happens! I think the Academy is going to throw every award its got at “The King’s Speech.”

But I digress…

Back to Colin Firth…and his performance of a life-time.

Firth made them listen the way he made Rush listen. I’ll never forget it. I’m getting chills just thinking about the magnificence of Firth and Rush’s and also Bonham Carter’s and director Tom Hooper’s great cinematic achievement.

It’s a masterpiece of a film and Geoffrey Rush is a Master Actor. How lucky we all were to be present at this great historic event. Who knows? There may have even been enough Academy voters present to tip the scales in this tightest of Oscar races between Rush and Bale.

Gentlemen, the envelope, please!

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.

Why Lauren Bacall thinks she lost her Oscar to Juliette Binoche

An interesting Oscar fact, prompted by Lauren Bacall’s large Vanity Fair interview and profile, in their Hollywood Issue (a must-have, must-read) abutting in the same issue an equally large and in depth piece on Harvey Weinstein.

Now, what has this got to do with this year’s Oscar race? More than you might think.

Lauren Bacall in her memoir goes on and on about how Harvey Weinstein cost her last chance at a legitimate Oscar when she was nominated in 1996 for Best Supporting Actress for “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” directed by Barbra Streisand, who also starred. Bacall played her mother. Bacall just received a career Oscar this past year, but it’s not the same thing. Nice, but no cigar.

That was the year that Juliette Binoche upset everyone’s Oscar predictions, including mine. There weren’t so many Oscarologists as there are today, but I WAS doing it on my TV show even way back then.  Tom O’Neill’s Gold Derby was racing, but not many others….

You see  Bacall, the great Hollywood legend, WON the Golden Globe and then the SAG Award, and seemed absolutely unstoppable, and she, shockingly,  LOST to Juliette Binoche, in the “English Patient.”

Why is this suddenly sounding VERY familiar? Well, Melissa Leo won both those awards also(There was no BFCA in those days.) and now she’s up against, in the same category, an actress in a British film. That would be Helen Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech.” And yes, that’s Harvey’s film, too.

“The English Patient” swept the awards as “The King’s Speech” is expected to.  And it could very well sweep Helena B-C, in too…Harvey has a unique way with that category, Best Supporting Actress. I think he’s gotten more actresses that particular award than any other producer in recent memory. Besides Binoche, he got Renee Zellweger her only Oscar in that category for “Cold Mountain” in 2004 and also Catherine Zeta-Jones in that category for “Chicago” in 2003! Why do I feel Harvey W. rules this category?

As Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always muses…Just, saying….

“Helena Bonham-Carter could win Oscar!” sez Anne Thompson

Anne Thompson, the sharp, astute, objective observer of all things Oscar, is at Indiewire these days, with her own blog, that is really a site in-and-of-itself. Always even-keeled and balanced in the coverage of Oscar subjects ~ I’m jumping for joy over Anne  (sometimes I call her St. Anne, well, because…she is…In Oscarland  terms, anyway) just having written a HUGE piece on “Helena Bonham-Carter Could Win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress” on http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/

CHECK IT OUT IMMEDIATELY!

And the reason I’m doing cartwheels, is because Even Anne does NOT make pronouncements like this lightly. Being a crack journalist as well as a keen Oscar observer, she WAS backing Hailee Steinfeld, last time I checked, but has JUST switched to HRH HBC because of, you guessed it, the BAFTAS! Which as you know Helena just won on Sunday. And I’ve been predicted this since the beginning! SWEEP!

And to top it all off, Anne had compiled a DELICIOUS series of video clips that really show off Helena in MAHvelous ways, darling! You’ve GOT to watch each and every one!

It’s been an uphill battle for Helena, as I said early on, because her performance is UNDERSTATED, sophisticated and subtle. Something Oscar doesn’t usually go for. She is chewing NO scenery here. Nope. Just tea and crumpets, though she DOES seem to be munching all the way through this brilliant movie. Yes, she overeats, and gets plumber and plumber as the films goes on, to where at the end, she is clearly wearing a fat suit! Yes, she is! And she’s ADORABLE in it!

 And she’s playing, lest we forget, the role Oscar LOVESLOVESLOVES to award in this category, the supportive wife! “The King’s Speech” makes it clear that King George VI could NOT have overcome his stutter without his wonderful, devoted wife who is the one who FINDS Lionel Logue(Geoffrey Rush) in the movie in the first place.

Jenny Beavan is the brilliant British costume designer, who is also up for an Oscar (again) this year for “The King’s Speech”s marvelous pastel-perfect period finery. Jenny has been costuming Helena since her Merchant-Ivory days. And Anne Thompson lays this all out in judicious, delicious clip after clip.

I’d do it myself, but I’m too tech-tarded, as you know….someday I’ll figure out the visuals…but right now just run on over to Indiewire and Thompson on Hollywood and see why I’m particularly thrilled with Anne’s great piece, predicting Helena’s win!

Yes, the “King’s Speech” has coattails, white tie and tails, probably, and Helena and Jenny Beaven and Geoffrey Rush and many others may be riding them all the way to OSCAR the Sunday after next! Coattails is another word for SWEEP!

There’s also a marvelous clip of HBC as HRH The Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderland.” interogating frog footmen, one of whom stole her tarts! “Off with his head!” she exclaims.

Helena Bonham-Carter! How do I love thee? I’ll let Anne Thompson count the ways!

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