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Posts tagged ‘Independent Spirit Awards’

Re: Oscars ~ What Do the Independent Spirit Nominations mean? A lot if you’re the Coens.

In terms of Oscar, what do today’s announcements of the Independent Spirit Nominations mean? I think this year they may mean more than they’ve ever meant before, since Oscar is looking like it’s going Indie in a big way this year.

The only films that weren’t eligible were the mega-budget ones like “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”, but also middle range budgeted films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “August: Osage County” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

So that showed some surprises, like the  Best Actor category nearly matching what have been predicted all along. And they even expanded this highly competitive category to six. Wish the Oscars were flexible enough to do something like that!

Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Bruce Dern(Nebraska), Matthew McConaghey(Dallas Buyers Club), Chiwetel Ejiafor(12 Years a Slave), all turned up. As did Michael B. Jordan(Fruitvale Station) As did Oscar Issac for “Inside Llewyn Davis”. He’s the one I can tell you for sure right now will NOT turn up on the Oscar shortlist of five. Nor will Jordan.

Someone who MIGHT surprise in Supporting is John Goodman, for his blown-out, slightly comatose, drugged-up jazz musician. It’s a small part, but he steals the film. And Goodman has NEVER EVEN BEEN NOMINATED! Not ever! For shame!

Apart from Goodman’s mega-bolt jolt, I was very disappointed with “Inside Llewyn Davis”. Shockingly so. I was really psyched to see this movie that has been heaped with critical praise since Cannes.

The ending is terrible and shocking and depressing. And it has one of those Coen Brothers  abrupt endings, like in “No Country for Old Men” or “A Serious Man.” BAM! And then suddenly when you least expect it, it’s over.

I’m up and down on the Coens. And so, shockingly were the Indie Spirits,  and while nominating “Inside Llewyn Davis” for Best Feature, and Oscar Issac for Best Actor, they did not even nominate them for either their directing or writing!

I felt cheated, bitter, by “Inside Llewyn Davis” and soooo disappointed.  I felt like a great opportunity had been missed. And all that hype that’s it had! For what?

But then that’s what Llewyn, their Welsh-descent, folk-singing failure is feeling. So maybe it’s right that I felt that way. That’s what was intended. I was feeling what Llewyn was feeling. Did I over-identify with something inside myself that I didn’t want to see?

It’s their attempt to examine failure in show business and self-destruction and what happens to the middle-of-the-road talented. They end up as road kill, this film is saying.

And a contemplation of the mediocre, ends up being, well, not that interesting, really.But it’s haunting…I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Oh! But they want to identify with, to LOVE Llewyn, and by gosh, they try every cinematic trick in the book to engage you with this semi- likable, stumble-bum of a failure. He fails at EVERYthing!

Carrie Mulligan turns up almost unrecognizably as his some-time girl friend/folk singer, Jane, who simply yells at him “YOU’RE A LOSER!””You suck!” She repeats over and over.

But the film wants you to identify with his struggle, and you do, sort of, but then you get kicked in the teeth quite literally and  harshly by the quixotic conclusion. As Llewyn does.

Oscar Issac, who’s first major film role this is, has to carry nearly the whole damn thing. That and an orange-colored cat. He and the cat are the plot. The cat becomes the symbol of Llewyn’s career, and the love/hate relationship with this  cat, who isn’t even his, is meant to show us Llewyn’s best side, his humanity.

“Oh! You see he can’t be that much of a loser! He likes animals!”

But it’s not enough to hang a picture on.But that’s precisely what the Coens’ have done. They want us to examine, really examine failure.

Oscar Issac has beautiful, large, dark soulful eyes, which the Coens’ and their camera keep getting lost in. And I did too, except when you look inside Llewyn Davis, there’s not much there. He’s a middling singer. And a big-time clusterfuck. Or rather, HIS CHARACTER is. The Coens’ have set Issac an almost impossible task.

Try to play a middlingly talented, not very nice guy, bent on destroying everything around him that’s good. A great part. And a fine, dangerous line to walk for an actor. A tight tight rope balancing act between alienating everyone while not alienating the audience from yourself as a talent. Tough stuff. And you have to say that Issac gives it everything he’s got.

However, it’s nice to see Greenwich Village looking like it did in the early ’60s, when the film is set. And folk music to me is no big whoop. Never was.

And I never dug Bob Dylan, who is supposed to be lurking in the shadows, as the arbiter of change. What change? To me  there was none.

So I left this film feeling totally down on it, like Llewyn is on his whole life, not just his music. So this kind of non-traditional movie, is the sort of film that the Indies would shower nominations upon. But they seemed to feel the same way about it that I did. Mixed. Or mixed up.

And I bet the Academy does, too.  Although if, in a field of ten, the Coens’ “A Serious Man” can get a best picture nod out of AMPAS, then who knows? “Inside Llewyn Davis” could, too. The Coens have an ardent fan base of admirers in the Academy.

But like “A Serious Man”, it won’t win anything. MAYbe a “Best Original Screenplay” nod, and a Supporting Actor nom for John Goodman, too. And T-Bone Burnett was in the background taking care of all the musical numbers, which were many.

And like “Les Miserables” last year, all of the songs were sung live, and not pre-recorded, and in front of a live coffee-house audience. Who also seemed half-dead.

This is a very tricky high-wire act the Coens are trying to pull off. Making a full-blown Hollywood movie movie about an abject failure. A mediocrity, who no one loves. A singer who can sing well, but not THAT well. An unsympathetic sympathetic character is then what? Simply pathetic?

Why should we waste our time? And awards?

E.T.A. Tonight “Llewyn Davis” won Best Picture at the Gotham Awards! And Oscar Issac bounded on to the stage to accept for the Coens who were not there(They probably thought “12 Years A Slave” was going to win, and so did I, but it got NOTHING!) and Issac wowed the crowd by saying, he was so proud and happy to be accepting the award for the Coens. “It’s a movie made in New York about New Yorkers, filled with New Yorkers,” And everybody loved him.

Independent Spirit Nominations Announced! 12 Years a Slave leads!

The Independent Spirit Awards were announced this morning, and  first of all let me congratulate, the Stephen Holt Show’s guest Melonie Diaz who received a Best Supporting Actress Nomination for “Fruitvale Station”!!! I’ll re-post her great satellite interview with me asap.

But first things first, “12 Years A Slave” dominated now as it will continue to do, I predict, for the rest of the Awards Season, with seven nominees, Best Picture, Best Director(Steve McQueen), Best Actor (Chiwetal Ejiafor), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress ( Lupita Nyong’O), Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. I’m still saying it will also win all those awards and more on Oscar Night. And certainly with the Critics Awards which start piling up on Monday with the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review on Tuesday. It’ll be like a juggernaut or a landslide. Look out!

“Nebraska” came in second, as it were, which is how most Alexander Payne films do. This bleak, small Black and White film about senior citizens in the plains states came out in the Place Place(using Tom O’Neil’s derby metaphor here http://www.goldderby.com) getting nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Screenplay (Alexander Payne), Best Actor (Bruce Dern), Best Supporting Actress(June Squibb) and the surprise here for Saturday Night Live Alum Will Forte, for Best Supporting Actor, for his sensitve, understated turn, which everyone has been ignoring heretofore, as Bruce Dern’s caring son.

For all the nominees, check out http://www.awardsdaily.com and/or Kris Tapley’s analysis at http://www.hitfix.com/incontention

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.”

Indie Spirit Noms Out. Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Does Oscar CARE?

And the nominations keep coming! Now the Indie Spirit Award nominations are out and the question I always pose. AND KNOW THE ANSWER TO. Is do Indie Spirit Nominations influence the Academy? Or anyone? And the answer is NO. AMPAS members are notoriously insular, if not downright snobby. And don’t even DEIGN to follow these upstart Indie Awards(and that goes double for the Gothams, wha? who?) for films they probably have never heard of, mostly….and yet…

Well, I’ll tell you who these Nominations today influence. It’s the films’ press agents. That’s who.

The exclusion of Ryan Gosling for “Blue Valentine” and Julianne Moore for “The Kids Are All Right” is downright shocking. SHOCKING! And it’s a wake up call to their press agents and their film companies to get on the ball and correct this. If they can. Before it’s too late.

The Best Actress nominees are the only group that will remotely resemble the five Best Actress nods that the Academy will dole out. Parsimoniously, these year it seems with soooo many great performance to chose from in this category. But the final 5 may have been nailed, by of all people, the Indie Spirits. Why? Because leading actresses and the films that revolve around them are all low budget, indie films.

Which is what these Nominations are meant to celebrate, which is all noble, fine and good. Just don’t take them as any indications at the Academy is going to follow suit, except in the Best Actress category strangely, which may prophetically show us THE FIVE(minus Greta Gerwig, ugh! For “Greenberg” double ugh!) And those ladies are Annette Bening, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams(Yay!), Nicole Kidman for “Rabbit Hole” and that wretched Jennifer Lawrence. Yes, HER. AGAIN. Turning up like roadkill on a Western highway. Triple ugh!

There may be no stopping those five, whether I like them or not. But who this may help is, of all people, the lovely Naomi Watts, who certainly deserves her nomination for Best Supporting Actress for “Mother and Child.” That may repeat at the Oscars, if the Golden Globes(and everybody else) picks up on her beautiful, memorable performance.

That’s Sony Pictures Classics. And they may see now the non-wisdom of they’re not putting Leslie Manville in Supporting. Nobody from “Another Year” got ANYthing in the acting categories.

You also have to remember, though unless you live in L.A. you might not even notice, that these awards are given out the DAY BEFORE the Oscars, so they have absolutely NO influence. It’s too late. Everybody has voted.

www.awardsdaily.com has the complete list. But get ready this is just the start! The Golden Satellites(what?) announce within 24 hours.

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