a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘John Hawkes’

Best Actor Nomination Predictions

It’s getting down to the proverbial wire. So here at long last are my Best Actor nomination predictions.

Bradley Cooper
“Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis
“Lincoln”
John Hawkes
“The Sessions”
Hugh Jackman
“Les Misérables”
Denzel Washington
“Flight”

I’m thinking that “The Master”s Joaquim Phoenix 86ed himself for those “dirty carrot” remarks he made about Oscar. And Sir Anthony Hopkins didn’t help himself by calling the Oscar Campaign “bullsh**t”. O well guyz, these days you gotta act like you WANT it.

Also I note once again that if, say, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio in Best Supporting Actor for “Djanjo Unchained” and not Samuel L. Jackson, that leaves only Denzel as the sole African-American or hispanic actor nominated this year. So once again, diversity even in a year with TWO majors with films about slavery, the Actors Branch remains 99 44/100s % white.

“Lincoln” Sneaks in NJ, Viewer Tweets NY Post “It’s Boring”!!

NY Post’s film critic Lou Lumenick received an outraged twitter review & email from a film goer who saw the sneak preview of “Lincoln” in NJ yesterday and complained that the film was “boring.” As Lumenick parsed it “take it with a grain of salt.” But the way he presents it in his article www.nypost.com ,it DOES sound as dry as dust.
It evidently keeps most of its’ action in the Congressional rooms and hallways, eschewing the more dramatic CIVIL WAR ITSELF that was raging outside. Nevermind the horrors of slavery. It’s all about LEGISLATION. I knew it. I just knew it. Screenwriter Tony Kushner is  very academic, almost pedantic sometimes. And it looks like  this time is one of THOSE times. AND it’s nearly three hours!

Given this info, plus the rather strange and deadly trailer of “Lincoln” that popped up last week, I think Dreamworks may have a real historic Oscar dud on its’ hands. If Hollywood hands Oscar a lemon, Oscar doesn’t make lemonade. He just nominates SOMEBODY ELSE.

This enraged viewer wrote to Lumenick that “It WILL NOT be nominated for Best Picture”! But thought Daniel Day-Lewis would. Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln was “miscast”. I believe that, too. And this news also makes sense of Fox Searchlight’s rushing “Hitchcock” into release on Thanksgiving weekend. Making it eligible for this year’s Oscars, not next and putting Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Alfred Hitchcock right in the, er, thick of things.

Best Actor seems so crowded this year. With DDL, Joaquin Phoenix(“The Master”), Hugh Jackman{“Les Miserables”) and John Hawkes in Searchlight’s other contender “The Sessions” all but locked down. Means that “Life of Pi” and “Flight” coming up fast at the New York Film Festival and which I’m doomed, er, destined  to see very soon, might not be All That.

And then there’s the volatile, still-open-for-business Best Actress category, which Dame Helen as Lady Alma Hitchcock, who is evidently at the center of the story of this movie, and yes, it’s a mature love story, could slip right in there. Knocking out another slippery Dame. Judi. For Fox Searchlight’s “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and/or Fox 2.0 ‘s OTHER Best Actress filly in the race, 8-year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis.  For “Beasts of the -Southern Wild.” I personally don’t think Fox Searchlight is acting SURE about either of their ladies-in-question.

Nevertheless,  Searchlight saw a place and decided to fill it with the formidable weight-y, Oscar-baity  Sir Alfred.

Hollywood loves Hollywood more and more each day.

See last year’s, Best Picture “The Artist” which won four other Oscars, too, including Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and “Hugo” also about early filmmaking, though in France. “Hugo” got four technical Oscars, but they are Oscars nonetheless.

Shot VERY quickly by documentarian Sasha Gervase, whose only other previous helming was the hilarious doc “Anvil:The Story of Anvil” and it seems he got every thing right!

Doc makers know how to make that first take work. That’s all you’ve got in documentaries. You have no choice. You have to GET THAT SHOT, or else, it’s gone forever. It’s called Run and Gun and I like working that way myself on my TV show http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow.

And “Anvil” was that rarest of docs. One with a sense of humor!

So, back to “Lincoln”, even though I’m sure the feelings of the film-goer that contacted Lumenick were genuine, Stephen Spielberg’s films, even the weakest, like “Munich”, or misguided like “War Horse”, they STILL get a Best Picture nomination regardless, but in a field of ten possibles, I’m still sure “Lincoln” is IN.

But look at Sir Alfred go! His corpse is dancing! Maybe all the way to the Oscars! And in his lifetime, let it be noted Hitch never won a Best Director Oscar himself. Maybe he’ll be getting one posthumously.

He was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. THEE greatest in MY book.

“Hitchcock” biopic moved into heat of Oscar Race! Fox Searchlight nervous about “Beasts”?”Sessions”?”Marigold”?

Alfred Hitchcock is back from the dead in a big way. He’s always been my Numero Uno Cinema hero since Forever, and now Fox Searchlight has startlingly announced that they are opening their biopic on Hitch on Nov.23! Right in the middle of the Awards Race and nearly right on top of “Silver Linings Playbook!”

This is a very bold, last-minute move on the part of Fox S. And I’m sensing it had to do with a perceived weakness in some of its’ own entrants. Which are “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “The Sessions” and most importantly “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

In the Gold Derby podcast I mentioned a few days back, Tom O’ Neil and Pete Hammond really dug into the Oscar season so far in a substantive way. And particularly the tough, no-nonsense Pete Hammond. This is at http://www.goldderby.com

He announced at the start of his convo that “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, a critical favorite, was not going to play so well with the Academy, in his opinion. And while Tom O. was quite enthusiastic, he was also shocked by Pete’s rather stubborn insistence that “Beasts” wasn’t going to fly. Neither he nor Tom O. could pronounce Qu’venzhane Wallis’s name. Not a good sign. And they made a joke out of it calling her “Miss Unpronounceable”.

I’m sure Hammond’s podcast didn’t cause Fox Jr. to throw the over large corpse of “Hitchcock” into the ring. Or did it? Or was Hammond sensing what Fox 2.0 had already known for a while?

And Dame Judi Dench’s Best Actress campaign for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” doesn’t seem to be catching on. And Miss Upronounceable Wallis may also be seen as a non-starter. I mean, she’s only six years old(when the film was shot). Hammond said flatly, “These are ACTORS voting.They are going to see a performance by a child THAT young as a manipulated one by the director.” Uh-oh. He may be right about that.

Fox-Searchlight also did something strange with “The Sessions,”  a film which I personally was very moved by. The story of a man in an iron lung for life and his desire to have sex with a surrogate may not have been playing as well as they hoped.

Purporting to have a full-on press junket in NYC next week, they now are not. And only junketing in LA! There’s a press DAY in NY, but that’s a much smaller, less expensive deal. Basically it means they are cancelling the A&B camera crews, and just doing print, wherein the journos come equipped with their own tape recorders…Cheap. For a Film they are supposedly campaigning for in all the categories possible, including Best Picture. John Hawkes is a slam-dunk for a Best Actor nomination, but now they are putting Helen Hunt in Supporting, as I said last week from TIFF.

A big come down. And this also paves the way for them spending more money on “Hitchcock” This is also their way of trying to draw the helium out of the “Silver Linings Playbook” balloon, since “Hitchcock” is also supposed to be a love story like SLP is. But Hitch and his wife Alma, played most likely quite wonderfully by Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren, is also a love story, it now turns out. And not just about the making of “Psycho.”

I think this move busts the whole race wide open again. Jeff Wells was saying in HIS podcast over at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com that he was suddenly feeling “trapped” by the “Silver Linings Playbook” s sudden ascension to front-runner as Best Picture and Best Actress and Best Director.

I’m sure he feels trapped no more.

This is also, I think, in response, to the rather weak reception the much heralded trailer of “Lincoln” got. Really quite tepid all ’round. Fox Searchlight saw this as a major new HOLE in the season, and they’ve run to plug it with Alfred Hitchcock’s huge self.

Directed by a documentary filmmaker, “Hitchcock” is his first feature. So I’m not seeing “Hitchock” as a Best Picture contender, but Anthony Hopkins could very well be. And on the weaker, constantly changing distaff side we now have Dame Helen’s Alma Hitchcock and also Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh to figure out(which category we should put them in.)

It’s sounding more and more like “My Week with Marilyn”. Which was my #1 film of last year. Of course it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture, but Michelle Williams sure did as Best Actress. And Kenneth Branagh as Best Supporting Actor for his hilarious spot-on Sir Laurence Olivier.

To quote Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone on this hot topic “I can’t wait”!

TIFF ads names to Supp.Oscar Race & “Lincoln” trailer sounds WRONG!

TIFF is SUCH a leveler. And always a surprise,too. Coming out of “Quartet,” one of the hottest tickets in town, was not only a VERY major Oscar chance at Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith, but also for her supporting co-star, the other female member of the titular quartet of ex-Opera singers, Pauline Collins.

Collins dithers delightfully, and has alllll the audiences’ sympathy in the big, soon-to-be-infamous “Flower Scene” with Dame Maggie. I will say no more.It’s a massive spoiler. Once that scene happened I knew “Oscar Nomination for Pauline in Supporting.”

She’s been nominated before, too. For Best Actress, a number of years back, for “Shirley Valentine” and so she’s no stranger to Oscar.

A very solid supporting turn is done by Willliam H. Macy in “The Sessions” as a conflicted Catholic priest, who has to listen to all of the FOR SURE ROCK SOLID BEST ACTOR NOMINEE John Hawkes’ awkward sexual confesstions. It’s comic, but he’s very good (he always is) and I don’t think he’s even been nominated before. Shame, Academy, shame…Unless it was for “Fargo” many moons ago…

Jude Law in “Anna Karenina” is a shoo-in for a Supp. Actor nod, and maybe even a win, as his almost unrecognizable turn as Anna’s dull-as-paint husband Karenin. He shaved his hairline back and wears tiny little specatacles that transform his face entirely. And his performance as a stiff, repressed beaureaucrat ,who is boring  his wife Anna to tears, never bores the audience. No mean feat.

Then we have the always nominatable Phillp Seymour Hoffman, in what is really a lead, in “The Master.” The Venice Film Festival jury gave both Hoffmand and co-star Joaquin Phoenix a joint Best Actor Award.

Also finding herself in the Supporting category may be a surprised and always naked Helen Hunt, who thought she was playing a lead in “The Sessions.”Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always points out how the Academy always awards female nudity and no one, believe me, NO ONE has ever shown so much of herself onscreen as Helen Hunt does as a sex “worker” in this terrific tearjerker about a man in an iron lung (Hawkes) who wants to finally experience sex before he dies. He does. And he does. And that’s the plot of “The Seesions.”

And from earlier in the year, before the essential TIFF-winnowing, we have both Dame Maggie Smith(yes, HER again) and her Downtown Abbey co-star Penelope Wilton in the box-office/senior citizen smash “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”both being giving campaigns from Fox Seachlight in Supporting. And so is Bill Nighy for that film.

Don’t know whether they’ve dropped Dwight Henry off their campaign roster for this excellent non-actor’s first ever performances as Qu’venzhane Wallis, dead beat dad in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And last but not least, let’s not overlook Michael Pena’s fine, fine work in the police actioner “End of Watch.” He could be this year’s Demian Bechir.

I happened to watch the just-dropped “Lincoln” trailer today. Once, first, without sound, and then again tonight with it. And at first I thought all those early Oscar predictions of Tom O’Neil’s crew at “Gold Derby” nevermind “The Gurus o’ Gold”‘ were right on…then WITH the sound, everybody’s voices sounded WRONG. Esp. Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln! He looks great but sounds like a baseball player! Brad Pitt in “Moneyball!”

If it looks like they’re hiding DDL in the trailer, they ARE!

Let us not forget “War Horse” and the great trailer that promised so much….and then gave us…well, not that much.

Just like “Munich”! Spielberg’s next-to-last Oscar foray.

Uh-oh!

Snoring and pretentious and over-hyped. Here we go again!

I thought we just went through this last year!

Oscar God Dave Karger’s Toronto Must-See List is Out!

Oscar God Dave Karger has got his top  ten list of must-see films coming up in September at the Toronto Film Festival  up and out and at’em at http://www.ew.com. Dave is RRRRRReally good at this. Though last year with that EW “Oscar Issue” cover of George Clooney and Viola Davis getting out of a limo in full Oscar drag(Tux and shimmering gown) has never been able to leave my mind. Both notoriously lost to Jean Dujardin and Meryl Streep, lest we forget…

And Toronto is RRRRREALLLLY well known as an Oscar launching pad. More and More so every year. And yes, I’m going there, once again, my 14th year in a row, and I’ll be blogging from there letting you know what’s what. I am the Oscar Messenger after all. I have to be RIGHT about these things.

Of Dave’s picks, I am really looking forward to “Anna Karenina” directed by Joe Wright. Could this be Keira Knightley’s big year? Or is it the lovely Laura Linney in “Hyde Park on the Hudson”? They are both there this Sept. and so is Marion Cotillard’s Cannes stunner “Of Rust and Bone.”

I think right there you have three out of the five Best Actress nominees.

The pictures they’re in….Not so sure about. But those performances I see all three getting in.

Toronto or TIFF as it’s abbreviated has had QUITE a history with Oscar.

But I will say, no one thought “The Artist” which was there was The One at the time. I kept hearing “We haven’t seen the Best Picture of the Year” yet.” EVERYBODY was telling me this, and as a matter of fact, yes, we had. It was “The Artist” and Harvey Weinstein was soft-pedaling “The Artist” at TIFF last year. And that was a good idea.

“The Sessions” raved about at Sundance is also a possible contender and is on Dave’s list. But that is something only in the performances, I think.

Not Best Picture.

David O. Russell’s “Silver Lining’s Playbook” ia a Weinstein film, too. But I don’t know….I’m not getting strong Oscar vibes from people like Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Sullivan(yes, HER again).And that title. It’s difficult to pronounce, a real tonque-twister.

There are others on Dave’s list, so go check it out. I just think they’re wrong. So I’m not repeating them here.

But yes, to “Anna Karenina”, “Hyde Park on the Hudson” and “Of Rust and Bone.” Those arr MY top three. And today it’s a month until I leave for Montreal, which I go to first, always, before Toronto and which is where I saw “The Artist” for the first time.

In French-speaking Montreal, THAT was the #1 raved about film last year, and I’m soooo glad I saw it there. It was absolutely magical.

As Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always says “Don’t underestimate Harvey Weinstein” And of course, she’s right.

Sasha also sez “Don’t underestimate Dame Judi Dench.”

SHE’s in the early-part-of-the-year hit film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that is continuing to break box-office records on BOTH sides of the Atlantic.So it is not playing Toronto. It’s all and only the new films there, comme tous les jours. And which category will they put Dame J. in? Most think supporting, though she is the lead in that film, certainly, the central character.

“Argo” Ben Affleck’s new film is being heavily buzzed, but they didn’t nominate his “The Town” last time around, so I’m skeptical.

And some of the biggest Oscar contenders are waiting til LATER. Like of course, “Les Miz” and “Lincoln” and Harvey’s “Django Unchained.”

Wish I was already on my way there! J’attends avec impatience!

Elizabeth Olsen gets an ovation at NYFF for “Martha Marcy May Marlene”!

And who got her that rousing out-of-nowhere round of applause and enthusiastic cheers? Well, l’il ole me, of course.

It was during the Q & A during the Press Conference after the Press Screening of “Martha Marcy May Marlene” a title I am STILL struggling with. This was at the New York Film Festival, of course.

And I made a statement. I congratulated the beauteous 21-year-old actress who makes such a stunning screening debut that she’s just blown that category, Best Actress, wide open.

I told her that I wanted to congratulate her for giving what was surely one of the best performances of the year, by an actress, and the crowd went wild, roaring and clapping in agreement.

She was startled, the moderater was startled. The director Sean Durkin looked, well, in agreeance, pleased. And then I exclaimed “That’s the New York Film Critics speaking! This never happens! You got it, baby!”

And I was totally chagrined that I had called Elizabeth Olsen “baby” or “babe” in front of hundreds of people, well, press/people, but still…

And then I asked the director Sean Durkin “Who was Marlene?” and suddenly I felt all the air go out of his(and my tires).

He mumbled something like “It’s there.”

And I still don’t know what he meant.

The title is the biggest stumbling block this very good indie film has on its’ way to the Oscar. Will people (that is Academy members) be able to pronounce it? And if they can’t pronounce it, will they watch it? Will they even vote for a film whose title they can’t say?And is as confusing as the young heroine, whose names form the complicated title, becomes through her involvement with a strange cult in Upstate New York?

But the film is very, very good. A gripping thriller/psychological drama about this young girl’s entrapment by these Manson-esque modern-day hippies, led by the always-threatening John Hawkes. Hawkes received an Academy Award nomination for “Winter’s Bone.” Which was much more confusing than this film.

Another Indie to emerge out of Sundance. And it has the low-budget, Sundancy feel to it. And every year for the past several years, a Best Actress nominee has emerged out of Sundance. Last year it was Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone”, then before her Gabourey Sidibe for “Precious” The list goes on and on and this year it could be Elizabeth Olsen.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the famous Olsen Twins, is sublime in a very difficult, complex role and very very clear in her portrayal of a confused, lost young woman who falls in with the worst people she could possibly ever be associated with. Her struggles to make sense of what has happened and is still happening to her form the crux of this gripping, exciting movie.

With a deceased mother and an antipathetic grandmother(who we never see) Martha is on the run and gets picked up by this cult who live on a farm in a remote area of upstate New York. Hawkes, the ringleader, immediately changes her name to Marcy May. And then her programming and reprogramming and deprograming and inculcation into this cult begins. It’s eerie, accurate and frightening in its’ details. So simple and yet so scary.

The film shifts back and forth in time between present day Martha who has run away and sought refuge in the real world again with a barely tolerant older sister, Lucy(Sara Paulson) and her brother-in-law Hugh Dancy. Yes! There he is again! Twice in the same week! Giving yet another nuanced, excellent performance as a straight-arrow, British businessman who is losing his patience with his bizarre foundling of a sister-in-law.

And who’s Marlene in the end? I was told by many critics afterwards it was a name they, the cult, used when talking about all the cute, young girls, when they are dealing with outside people. I.E., the world. “Cousin Marlene” is what they are ALL called. Just to keep everything even more confusing.

Apart from that nearly unprounceable title “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is one of this year’s best films. And should have no problem getting Elizabeth Olsen and perhaps John Hawkes, too, back in the Oscar race this year. This is Elizabeth Olsen’s feature film debut and it’s stunning, stunning, stunning.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: