a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Leonardo Di Caprio’

Live-Blogging SAG(Screen Actors Guild) Awards tonite.

SAG 1The Screen Actors Guild Awards are tonight, and I’m going to be live-blogging them, dear readers, dear cineastes.  In NYC, they are on the TBS or TNT channels at 8pm EST. Check your local listings.

There should be MANY surprises tonight. We’ll see if the #Oscarssowhite controversy is going to impact the awards.

Black British Actor Idris Elba is the man of the hour tonight. He’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor on the film side for “Beasts of No Nation.” And on the TV side he’s nominated for “Luther”. He’s against Mark Rylance in both categories and I feel he is going to take home at least ONE “actor” as they call their awards. If “Beasts of No Nation” wins Best Ensemble, then Elba might be taking home three!

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Rylance, a stage legend in Britain and multiple Tony winner on Broadway, is his main competition tonight for “Bridge of Spies” for Best Supporting Actor Film, and for “Wolf Hall” TV series.

Unfortunately, Elba was NOT nominated for an Oscar. (He’s a magnificent actor. He should have been.) None of this awful Oscarssowhite scandal would’ve happened if he had been nomminated. It’s rumored that he may be the first Black James Bond.

Here’s an interview I did with Idris a few years back at the Toronto Film Festival.

As for Best Picture Film, it’s back and forth and forth and back between “Spotlight” and late riser “The Big Short.” Which is what it was like last year with “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” Up til the last second. And then “Birdman” won by a beak at the Oscars. I still can’t believe that happened.

Me? I’d vote for “Spotlight” if I was a voting member of SAG. But I’m not, so we’ll see. Unlike the Academy, SAG voters DO have a sense of humor. So “The Big Short”s cutting edge wit would not be held against it tonight. We’ll see.

And if Leonardo wins Best Actor here tonight, he’ll win the Oscar, too. Ditto Brie Larson.

But if it’s Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo” LOOK OUT! All bets are off. And Leo could kiss his Oscar good-bye. At least for “The Revenant”Revenant 3

And I think Alicia Vikander will triumph here in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.”Alicia 6

 

 

 

 

 

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Oscars ~ Where Are We Now?

OscarsWith so much controversy flying every which way this year, where exactly are we? Well, the safest best bet is to watch for the Producers Guild to announce their winner this weekend. And I’m guessing it will be “Spotlight.” Low wattage, reserved, and quietly, subtlely powerful as it is, its’ distinction, like “12 Years a Slave”s before it, can’t be denied.

They’re sweeping changes a foot. Everybody is discussing Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ VERY controversial announcement in a form of a press release. I’ll leave it to others who have more time than I do, busy Oscarologist that I am at this time of year, to parse just what all this means. But suffice it to say, for this year, it means NOTHING!

The Oscars 2016 will roll along exactly as they were previous to this two years of #Oscarssowhite maelstrom. Nothing at all is going to change any time soon.

But if it WERE to effect this year’s race, you might see Idris Elba win a deserved supporting actor trophy two weeks from Sunday for “Beasts of No Nation.” I hope he does. This is for a SAG award, which they call, “The Actor”, NOT the Oscar. Beasts

It really riles me that he was excluded and seemingly replaced by Sylvester Stallone, whose performance in “Creed” is nothing but a stream of unintelligible shrugs and mumbles. Stallone is not nominated for the SAG award. The Actors of SAG did the right thing in nominating Elba. So if you want to look for who to blame for this #Oscarssowhite trouble, look below the line. Anne Thompson’s infamous “steakeaters.”

It seems pre-ordained now that Leonardo Di Caprio is going to win Best Actor for the revolting “Revenant.” But if he DOESN’T win the SAG Award for Best Actor two weeks from Sunday and it’s Bryan Cranston, or even Eddie Redmayne, LOOK OUT! Things are not as clear in the blogospheres’ crystal balls as they seem to be.

Brie Larson, a relative unknown, is about to be crowned Oscar’s new Queen,and deservedly so, for “Room.” Brie golden Globe 1Such a powerful, complex, intelligent performance by an actress we almost never see on screen.. Operating against her is “Room”s teeny, tiny distributor A24, who has never been THIS near an Oscar campaign for a  performance before.Alicia

And Alicia Vikander seems to be rising and rising. She SEEMS to have the momentum in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” even though it’s hardly a supporting performance at all. Again the SAGS will tell the tale and also the BAFTAs. She’s also in film after film after film. All big studios. And that means Hollywood already has a steak(stake?) in her future. Her moving, eloquent speech at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on Sunday helped her immensely too. She was instantly unforgettable.

What happened to “Carol”? That’s the 64 Dollar question. *sigh* I guess it just wasn’t good enough. And WHY wasn’t it good enough? I’d say it was the Big Zero of a performance at its’ center from Rooney Mara. Don’t get me wrong. I liked her playing the bisexual Lisbeth Salander in “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” which I’ve seen multiple times, liking her more and more each time. But she was a void at the center Carol 3of”Carol” to me. It was like Cate Blanchett was acting all by herself in that film.

Whereas in “The Danish Girl” Alicia Vikander is VERY much present in her interactions, her love of her husband, even as he turns into a woman, even encouraging him as painful as it is for her, in his transition. And she’s playing a real woman, artist Gerde Wegener. , Whereas Mara is playing fictional character who is a blank, at best. Therese Belivet, the character’s name is intriguing, but the part and the performance were not. I’ve known a lot of lesbians in my gay life, and one thing they are not, is boring. “Carol” was boring.

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DGA & BAFTA Upsom Downs ~ Who’s In, Who’s Out as Oscar Nom Balloting Closes

The Phase I of Oscar Season, as it’s called closed today with the due date of the nomination ballots this afternoon at 3pm.

So it’s done. It’s over. And while everything seems like it’s set in Stone(as in Sasha Stone), is it really? There’s always surprises. Like for instance “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and its’ performers being totally shut out from BAFTA. Ditto Meryl Streep for “Best OverActressing” for “August: Osage County.” And Robert Redford for “Best Non-Actoring” in “All Is Lost.”

I remember soooo well my thinking that the notorious Melissa Leo was dead-in-the-Oscar-water, when SHE wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA for “The Fighter,” but guess what? She WON! So those rules don’t necessarily apply. However, someone like Jonah Hill’s being nominated NOwhere, means that’s where he’ll probably stay.

And it forecasts not very easy waters ahead for veterans Streep or Redford. Today it feels like someone. Probably Leonardo Di Caprio is going to take Redford’s place in THE FIVE.(in the tighttightight Best Actor race.)

The DGA nominated the directors of “12 Years a Slave”(Steve McQueen), “Capt.Phillips” (Paul Greengrass), “Wolf of Wall Street”(Martin Scorsese), “Gravity” Alfonso Cuaron and “American Hustle” (David O. Russell). I think we can safely say that all those five films WILL be nominated for Best Picture Oscar, when the nominations are handed out Tuesday morning. 8:45AM EST.

But what about the actors in those films? Well, they’ll all have an easier ride than those that aren’t in a DGA film.

So that’s good news for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’O, and Michael Fassbender, Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi, Leo, but not Jonah Hill, Sandra Bullock, and only perhaps Jennifer Lawrence from “American Hustle.”

Everyone else, except the winning frontrunner Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine” is in doubt. Not serious doubt, but doubt nonetheless. I wonder if this hurts Bruce Dern’s chances, although he surely will get a nomination for “Nebraska” and also I wonder now about June Squibb…

And then in another universe entirely are the Weinstein films, all orbiting around their own sun, Harvey, who knows better than anyone in any world, how to bend the Academy to his will and the will of his FIVE films, or six, if you count “Ten Feet From Stardom.” I loved that movie and I bet that’s his big winner this year. It’s the wing-ding of a doc about back-up singers.

But he’s also got “Philomena”, “August:Osage County”, “Lee Daniel’s The Butler”, “Long Walk to Freedom” and “Fruitvale Station.” A workaholic (and who isn’t in the Oscar race?)Dame Judi Dench is probably in like flint for the grieving mother in “Philomena” and didn’t Harvey surprise us all by getting JACKIE WEAVER nominated for Best Supporting Actress for a non-performance of epic non-magnitude in “Silver Linings Playbook”? NOOOOOObody expected THAT.

And why, when she certainly didn’t deserve it, did she get nominated? Well, the Voters SAW her, when they went to look at “Silver Linings Playbook”. There she was playing Bradley Cooper’s mom and Robert De Niro’s wife, and lazy voters that they are, they wrote her name down(probably at Harvey’s suggestion) and a clearly not-winning performance, it was nevertheless a nominated one.

Who of those movies is no one talking about at all, esp. in Supporting, always a flibbertijibet of categories? Well, there’s Naomi Harris who is just terrific as Winnie Mandela, in what is clearly a leading role, in “Long Walk to Freedom.” But will enough people have watched that? There’s Margo Martindale, whose role in “August:Osage…” has been all but eviscerated but she has made an impact and is on many radars. And an obvious choice previous Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spenser for “Fruitvale Station” who was just awarded her Best Supporting Actress trophy tonight by the National Board of Review. So she’s not exactly obscure. Melonie Diaz for “Fruitvale” would be a VERY big surprise. She was just as good as the grieving girl-friend of the slain lead character…

And poor “Inside Llewyn Davis” left out in the cold…just like it’s leading character…and the break-out star of this year, Oscar Isaac…I think it could very well get a Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography and maybe Best Score and Song”Please Mr. Kennedy” or another song from “Llewyn.”

I loved Scarlett Johansson’s magnificent voice work in “Her” but aren’t there Academy rules against parts that are just voice-work? Maybe there are and maybe there aren’t. She’s never been nominated so THAT would be the surprise of surprises…And of course, Joaquin Phoenix would be a total surprise if he broke in Best Actor. But he did just that last year for “The Master” when everyone was counting him out(including me). So would the aforementioned Oscar Isaac and/or Michael B. Jordan for “Fruitvale” in Best Actor…And don’t forget Sally Field as Cate Blanchett’s lovable sis in “Blue Jasmine.” The Golden Globes included her in, and not Oprah. Could happen again.

We’ll just have to wait and see! But I can’t wait any longer!!!! I WANT TO KNOW NOW!!!

Cate Blanchett May Win Her Second Oscar for Woody Allen’s Superb “Blue Jasmine”!!!

Sound the trumpets! Ring the bells! Beat the drums! Huzzah! Huzzah! Woody Allen has done it again with “Blue Jasmine”! He’s completely surprised us! And gone in a whole new challenging direction and written the most complex dramatic role he’s ever written for a woman. It’s the title role in “Blue Jasmine” and Cate Blanchett gives the performance of her career as Jasmine, who is indeed quite blue. Blue in the sense of sad, if not tragic. But also beautiful.

For there’s is no such thing in nature as a blue jasmine, making Blanchett’s Jasmine as unique a cinematic flower as there ever was.

At a time when it seems women in leading roles were basically being banished from our movie screens, replaced by the endless parade of testosterone-filled, comic book/explosion-fueled films for teenaged boys,”Blue Jasmine” is a breathtaking antidote.It’s the real thing. A great actress in a great screen role.

Cate Blanchett is immediately iconic. Everything she’s done before or since will be compared to this.

“Blue Jasmine” is delightful and uplifting, though Jasmine’s story itself is really quite tragic, Blanchett’s towering performance and Allen’s best-ever writing, make “Blue Jasmine” soar.

Allen challenges us as an audience, and challenges Blanchett as an actress. And she meets every challenge, every single one of them, and surpasses and surprises expectations through her sheer force of her artistry.

Blanchett’s had a career of great performances, but nothing really touches her Blue Jasmine. It’s like the role she’s been waiting to play all her cinematic life. She has one Oscar already for playing Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s great bio-pic on Howard Hughes “The Aviator.”But that was for supporting. Jasmine is a triumphant lead. She could win her second Oscar here. And she’s certainly going to be nominated for Best Actress.

Oh, yes, and “Blue Jasmine” is NOT a comedy. In fact it’s pretty grim. It reminded me most of Allen’s 1980’s family drama “Interiors” which is where Allen showed us he could go to the dark side as well as any filmmaker. And surprisingly, he returns to that dark, inner landscape in “Blue Jasmine.”

Although it doesn’t look that way when it starts. So it’s a total surprise in that sense, confounding expectations, once again, Allen turns in something fresh and also real.

“Blue Jasmine” is filmed in sunny San Francisco, a location where Allen has never shot before. And it alternates with an equally sunny New York City, which seems bright and happy and beautiful,too, as you can feel Allen’s joy in returning to work in his own home town, a place he hasn’t shot in in years! But look out, dear readers, dear cineastes, all that Californian sunshine is going to get quite dark as the film goes on.

Allen wants to paint a portrait of a conflicted, complex woman. Almost Tennessee Williams-esque. It’s like he wanted to go a round or two with a Williams-like heroine at his story’s center, instead of a nebbishy male Allen stand-in, like Owen Wilson’s character in “Midnight in Paris” and many others playing Allen’s familiar neurotic tics and tacks. And Jasmine makes all the other heroines in his films, well, seem superficial or well, trivial. But of course they were all comedies. I’m thinking of YOU “Annie Hall” which won Best Picture and got Diane Keaton HER one and only Oscar. “Jasmine” is different in that it’s all Cate Blanchett’s show. And it isn’t really funny.

In fact, it’s downright slimy at times because Jasmine(real name Jeannette) is not an easy character to like, or even warm up to. She’s clearly patterned not only on William’s Blanche du Bois, but also Ruth Madoff!

Now I never really considered Ruth Madoff as tragic heroine. But Allen evidently does, as it seems he’s ripped this story right from the headlines. Jasmine’s ponzy schemer husband,Alec Baldwin hits exactly the right skeezy huckster note. You KNOW he’s the villain, but you see Jasmine is totally, blissfully unaware that her whole Park Avenue/Hamptons jet-setting life-style is going to come crashing down, but that’s exactly what happens.

HOW that happens would be spoiling the film, I feel, but I can say, she ends up taking refugee with her completely opposite plain-jane sister, Ginger, a wonderful Sally Hawkins, who lives modestly as a super-market bagger in San Francisco, which is what brings Jasmine to the Golden Gate City in the depths of her despair.

Allen, being Woody Allen, after all, does have quite of lot of comic fun,at first, with Jasmine’s plight, as she tries desperately to fit in with lower middle class society, even being reduced to being a receptionist for a horny dentist(a hilarious Michael Stuhlbarg) and popping Xanax like they were candy corn.

Hawkins’s Ginger has a lot to do here, comically and tragically, and she does it all in fine style. Shockingly she’s never been nominated for an Oscar yet. But “Blue Jasmine” could also do it for her, as it surely will for Cate Blanchett’s unforgettable Jasmine.

You have to struggle to like the difficult Jasmine. She’s not an easy woman to warm to as she makes mistake after mistake. But in that struggle lies the greatness of the film. Allen brings up complex, difficult questions about our consumerist society and the last shot of Cate Blanchett will haunt your dreams.

 

 

What’s so Great about Gatsby??? Not much.

That’s the question I always asked myself after finishing the book, which I loved. It’s deservedly a classic. But at the end of it, each time, and at the end of this bloated, horrifying Baz Luhrman-on-steroids version, when it was all over I kept thinking “What is so great Gatsby?”

I still don’t know.

I suppose it one of those great unanswered questions that the narrator Nick Carraway poses. He claims that Gatsby was one of the greatest men he ever met. Or THEE greatest.

And even though Leonardo Di Caprio is giving a charming, likeable performance in this almost unplayable role…you still end up with a big “huh”?

No Leo himself is an admirable figure. I do admire him, and so do millions of fans all over the world who are driving the box-office on this little love story internationally.

It’s a modest tale that doesn’t merit the overblown Baz style…maybe if it was a musical? It worked for “Moulin Rouge” but here it’s just too much.

How much is too much?

THIS is too much.

And it’s sort of literary homicide being created on poor, dead F. Scott Fitzgerald. If he were alive today, WHAT would he think? I guess he’d like all the early summer hoopla this film is heaping on his greatest novel…but do we really need to see F. Scott Fitzgerald in 3-D?

It’s an overblown device in any case. 3-D. I couldn’t bare it, even the thought of it, which made me skip the opening.

Those glasses! I would’ve had nausea and headaches for days! So I finally saw it in 2D, which was bearable, but honestly, this Gatsby was a bit of bore.

Jay Gatsby as a summer action hero? A blockbuster? And that’s exactly how Baz Luhrman directed it. As a comic book. A Classic Comic Book, the kind they used to have when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx.

I think in the end what was so beautiful and mesmerizing about “The Great Gatsby” was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s incandescent prose, which is showing every sign of being immortal.

But It was meant to be READ. It’s like a butterfly that you were meant to hold in your hand. Not blown up on the big screen, like an…well, like a blown-up butterfly.

Ugh.

Imagine the horror!

Well, you don’t have to imagine it, just skip this car wreck of a movie and read or re-read the beautiful book. You’ll be glad you did.

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