a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Indie’

Oscar Thinking and Re-Thinking About Ann Dowd

I guess any of you who have been following my blog and my web-series, never mind my TV series, know that this particular Oscar season I was more involved than I ever was in my whole Oscar-obsessed life.

True, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. Basically since I could write.

And also true, I started doing this the minute I got my own TV show 25 years ago. I had another expert and myself and it was a dialogue.

Then sometime in the early 00’s I connected with Oscarwatch.com and Sasha Stone. And I guess the rest, as they say, is Herstory.

But of course, I had to get even closer, didn’t I? And so this year when I was approached by the great Indie and stage actress Ann Dowd to help her with her very own, self-funded Oscar campaign for “Compliance” I did.

And it was a real education for the both of us, I can tell you.

Sasha at http://www.awardsdaily.com which is what Oscarwatch.com is called now has written, once again, as she invariably does on a staggering, daily basis, about NEXT year’s upcoming Oscar season. And this one is barely done.

But as Sasha so expertly lays it out, it’s pretty clear what’s coming our way, and “Monuments Men” seems to already be the front-runner, just straight out of the Gate.

It’s George Clooney v. the Nazis and he wrote, directed, produced and stars in this one. George is super hot again after the “Argo” win, so since this film hasn’t even begun to shoot yet, I won’t rain on anybody’s parade. Yet. But it does seem like a front-runner already.

And as Sasha always says, you know what happens to front-runners…

But back to Ann Dowd, what Sasha did point out in her astute, austere assessment of THIS year’s race was that no nominee was not backed up by an ace publicist. And a campaign.

And what does that mean? Lots and lots of money.

Poor Ann Dowd spent $16,000 or so of her own money to send screeners of “Compliance” to all the Voting Members of the Academy and also the nominating committee of the Screen Actors Guild. And she didn’t get a nomination from either voting body. Which is awful. But if you do Sasha’s math, it makes perfect sense.

You need to spend even MORE money than Ann did. You need to take out ads and have parties thrown for you. Parties go on all the time in L.A. before Oscars Phase I & also Phase II, and you need to be attending all those parties, especially if you are new to they, them, the Academy.

The AMPAS members are all too happy to meet new, talented faces, so its’ not their faults. It’s getting IN TO those parties. And that’s no mean feat.

But you have to go to a party EVERY DAY sometimes three times a day as Marion Cotillard did the first year she was nominated and won for “La Vie En Rose.” Acting in French, a complete unknown, she taught herself English by day, and networked like cra-zee at night, and she charmed all who met her, and she won.

And PS. her brilliant performance certainly deserved it. BUT SO DID ANN DOWD’S!

Let me quickly add that she did get nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress and also WON the National Board of Review award for that same category.

So she did receive accolades and the Santa Barbara Film Festival honored her as a Virtuoso. So Ann’s been flying back and forth between both coasts for months now, it seems.

IF ONLY she had received that elusive nomination! But it went to Jackie Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Which was a film all these people, all these voters saw. Evidently, they didn’t watch the screeners Ann sent them.Or worse. they didn’t like “Compliance.”

But the moral of the story is ~ if you don’t have a Cyntha Swartz, or a Michele Robinson or a Tony Angelotti behind you to start with. You’re not going to get an Academy Award nomination.

It’s like Hollywood is a closed shop. But we knew that, didn’t we? How naive can I be?

Best Supporting Actress- Pre-Festivals, Pre-TIFF

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 2012 -Pre-TIFF

This category was ceded by many, months ago, to Anne Hathaway’s heartbreaking, shattering performance in the trailer of “Les Miserables.” I have never seen a trailer to have such an impact on the Oscar Race, and so EARLY! Back in June. Or May even…And the film doesn’t come out til Christmas!

“The Dream Lives,” the trailer ends with these titles “This Christmas.” Well, I for one can hardly wait!

Why was Universal releasing this so early?

Well, it was superbly done, brilliantly edited, and plaintively sung by Hathaway. It contains the song “I Dreamed A Dream,” which is arguably one of the most famous songs from “Les Miz” that always pulls heart-strings, if it’s done right.

This is the song that made Susan Boyle an over-night sensation on “Britain’s Got Talent” a few years back. And Musical Comedys are NOT at all a sure-fire, can’t-miss genre these days. No matter how well they may be done. They released this that early to build buzz. And it has succeeded in that respect. And Anne Hathaway also scored as Catwoman in TDKR, too, this year.

Oscar Winner for Best Director for “The King’s Speech” is back again with “Les Miz” and he directs period pieces soooo well…just check out the Multi-Emmy-Award Winning TV series “John Adams.” That was one of the greatest TV series I’ve ever seen, and it could have been as dry as dust, instead it was riveting. And it won its two leads Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney Best Actor and Best Actress Emmys, too. As John and Abigail Adams respectively.

And Laura is back in the Best Actress hunt again this year. Her FOURTH nomination, if she gets one for “Hyde Park on the Hudson” which I already discussed in the previous post just below this one.

Which is to say that Hooper’s actors win awards, see Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.”

Anne Hathaway’s part in “Les Miz” is the doomed prostitute Fantine, which also won Patti LuPone an Olivier Award, when she played that part in the original London production. So it’s an awards-magnet role. And Hathaway totally aces it in the trailer’s Oscar-y moment par excellence when she, sobbing and dirty, gets all her real hair cut off.  It’s a horrifying, but award-worthy moment. The song is MUCH longer than that,too And there is much more to her role in “Les Miz” although she does die early on.  But who’s to say if they might run her as Best Actress instead of Supporting?

They might. But then again the Academy’s Actor’s Branch voters are the ones who ultimately decide which category an actress, or an actor, is going to be in. The Studios and distributors can campaign all they want…but it’s Hathaway’s peers who will decide where to put her.

The many For Your Consideration ads are run by the Studios as a means of clue-ing the Actor’s Branch especially for who goes where.  They decided for instance that Kate Winslet should be considered for Best Actress for “The Reader” when no less an Oscar personage than Harvey Weinstein was running her as Supporting for that film. Which she did eventually win a Golden Globe for. And also, for Best Actress that year for “Revolutionary Road.” Her “I got TWO!” picture with a Golden Globe in each hand, flashed around the world.

I think this instance shows that the Academy doesn’t ALWAYS do as Harvey tells them.Or suggests to them, I should say.

Opposite Hathaway, it’s looking like Harvey’s main gal this season is going to be Amy Adams for “The Master”, but evidently some already say the part is too small, only three scenes.

Will Qu’venzhane Wallis the 8 year old in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”  get run in Supporting, instead of lead, where she belongs? However, the Academy is notoriously not partial to putting child actors in the lead category. Look what they did with that girl with the braids from “True Grit.” She ended up in Supporting, though she arguably, also had the lead female role in the Coen Bros. western. What was her name anyway? I’ve completely forgotten! Hallie something? That nomination was the beginning and end of her career.

There’s also the great female Brits in the runaway smash of the Indies this year “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It boasts THREE great performances, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton. Again Dame Judi is the lead here, but again, Fox Searchlight has got her down for Supporting, where she really shouldn’t be. The Academy could put her in lead, if they so deem fit…As I said in the last post, Best Actress is once again Back Up For Grabs this year…

Fox Searchlight has its’ hands full this year! Should Judi Dench go lead? Should Qu’venszhane? Decisions! Decisions!

And then there’s Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Won’t Back Down”, another Indie. But who is lead and who is Supporting? I don’t think that film is even at Toronto. Which says something.

And though after last year’s debacle with Davis predicted to win all over the place, she lost to Meryl Streep. The Academy was again accused of racism. And it is. Although they did give the Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Octavia Spenser for the controversial “The Help.” Could they try to make it up to her with ANOTHER nomination? If they did, she would then be the first African-American actress to get the most Oscar nominations ever. A total of three.

Or is “Don’t Back Down” even Oscar worthy? We don’t know yet. But its lack of Festival presence says something, I think.

To go back to “Hyde Park on Hudson” there are two British Olivias in Supporting roles. Olivia Williams as Eleanor Rossevelt and Olivia Coleman as the Queen of England, who is visiting the Roosevelts at Hyde Park, with her husband the stuttering King Edward VII.

AND there’s the Oscar perennial Bridesmaid multiple-timed nominee, Annette Bening playing against type as a gambling-obsessed Mom of Kristen Wiig in “Imogene.”  You can never count Bening out.

But judging by the competition she’s up against, IMHO, this category is Anne Hathaway’s to lose.

Oscar’s gonna LOVE “A Better Life.” No, not “Tree of Life” “A BETTER Life!!”

I can’t believe how deeply affected I was by the small Indie “A Better Life,” which I only recently watched on DVD. For an under-reviewed, under-appreciated mainly Mexican film that is half in Spanish, about the life and struggles of an illegal immigrant gardener, it really made all its’ points with a powerful punch-to-the-gut impact. I’m still reeeeling!

But I loved it, and appreciated the power, the intelligence and the artistry of filmmaker Chris Weitz and the Mexican star Demian Bichir, who’s now going to be just as big a star in Hollywood as he is in Mexico.

And it contains one great, probably classic film scene where its’ SAG nominee for Best Actor, Demian  Bichir, as Carlos Galindo, the gardener, has to climb up to the top of a  Hollywood palm tree to cut cocoanuts. And it’s a really heart-in-your-mouth scene that makes you gasp out loud, as he really, for real ,climbs that tall,dangerous palm tree in a rich white woman’s garden, and gazes out over the magnificent Los Angeles cityscape. He enjoys perhaps his happiest moment in the movie, looking for a brief second, at the stunning view.

Only to look down and see his truck, the truck that he’s sunk his whole family’s money and his life, into being stolen along with all his tools! By a compadre, another illegal Mexican, who he was trying to help out with an afternoon’s job.  And there he is stuck up the F***ing palm tree!

And we saw how slow and difficult it was for him to climb up, and then we see him struggling to get down, fast, without breaking his neck, and of course, he can’t. He has to go down as slowly as he went up that dangerous tree! Talk about in Academy-speak “Degree of Difficulty”!

And then he chases the stolen truck on foot! His desperate chase makes George Clooney’s similar race in “The Descendants” look ridiculous. But then that’s what it’s supposed to be.

But the Academy are going to watch that “A Better Life” screener, which they all had in their possession since LABOR DAY! It was the first to be sent out this year, and I’m oh so glad to give Kudos Summit Entertainment for taking a page from Sony Pictures Classics- typical Oscar campaign gambit by doing so.

And Bichir himself? Why, he was Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh’s four-hour “Che.” And he’s absolutely disarming in interview situations. He and director Chris (“New Moon”) Weitz have even been to Washington, D.C. with it.

And in this election year, when the phrase “illegals” is being thrown around all over the place, THIS is the film that addresses this topic in a way that’s never really been shown before. From the point of view of a Mexican illegal himself.

In an early scene of the film, Bichir’s son (Jose Julian), kids his father about not having a driver’s license. It’s done as sort of a throw-away moment, but then you realize that the Carlos Galindos of the world CAN’T get Drivers Licenses because they are “illegals,” this year’s new “N” word.

But I think Damien Bichir is going to be experiencing a big “O” word in his near future. O like in Oscar.

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