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Posts tagged ‘Marion Cotillard’

As Oscar Voters Are Voting, Why Alicia Vikander Is the New Oscar “It” Girl!

Alicia Vikander 2Every year Oscar has a new “It” Girl. The young actress who seems to be EVERYWHERE and is on everybody’s tongue, and radar, and who is haunting the SWORM(Straight White Old Rich Men) of AMPAS’ dreams. It’s called Oscar Buzz. It’s called Momentum. And this year it seems to be  sizzling around Alicia Vikander, who is  currently on the cover of Vogue (see above) and where she is being dubbed “Hollywood’s New Swede Heart.”

This tradition of falling in love with beauteous Swedish actresses is a classic one. There was Greta Garbo, who won no Oscars, and Ingrid Bergman, who won three.

And Alicia is so ubiquitous this year, she is on Oscars’ mind in TWO categories, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Firstly, there’s “The Danish Girl” which I personally think is going to prove more loved by the Academy, and yes, even SAG, than it seems to be in the blogosphere, where people are grossly underestimating it. But not me. It’s my Number One Film of the Year!

Alicia Vikander 4And do I have to remind you, dear readers, dear cineastes that the blogosphere does not contain ANY voting Members of the Academy. Their tastes are their tastes, and are not the taste of the Academy’s. Maybe the Golden Globes and certainly the Broadcast Film Critics are perhaps nearer to Oscars, but even then the Academy likes to go its’ own independent way.

But the lovely Alicia is everywhere! Breaking hearts in “The Danish Girl” Eddie & Alicia 1in a role that is so dimensional and relatable, the long-suffering wife of the transgender transitioning Lili Elbe, played by last year’s Oscar winner( and also a surefire nominee for this one, too) Eddie Redmayne. And mystifying men around the world as the quixotic robot Ava in “Ex Machina.”Alicia Vikander 3

Yes, I’m thinking that Alicia is blowing up so big right now, just at the right time, the heretofore little known Swede is going to perhaps get such a big “Welcome to Hollywood” hug from the Academy, that she could very easily be nominated for TWO Oscars! That’s right. One for lead for “The Danish Girl” and one in Supporting for “Ex Machina!” That’s SOME welcome!

That strange, sexy, barely clad robot in “Ex Machina” is the sort of role that lingers in the mind, as well as elsewhere, for most straight men, I am guessing. She’s been nominated in Supporting by many critics groups too numerous to mention for “Ex Machina.” It doesn’t hurt her Oscar chances either that she’s seen nude in both films.

She also won the esteemed Los Angeles film critics award for Best Supporting Actress for “Ex Machina.”

SAG put her in Supporting for “The Danish Girl.” While the Golden Globes put her in lead. Anyway you slice it, Alicia is everywhere.

And she’s also got a ton of films coming up, proving that many leading filmmakers and studios are banking on her for their futures. Reminding me of the year the unknown Angelina Jolie came out of nowhere to win her first and only Oscar for Supporting Actress in “Girl Interrupted.” Nobody knew her in the general public, but Hollywood was counting on the fact that she was going to have a major future, and lo and behold, she certainly did. You could say the same for the unknown Marion Cotillard, or even America’s own Lupita Nyongo just two years ago. They both went from zero to winner. Hollywood LOVES a Cinderella story and certainly Alicia seems to be this year’s princess just waiting to be crowned.

This year, I think,it’s Alicia Vikander’s turn.

At every turn, the 5’5″ brown-eyed beauty is turning heads and hearts. With her talent and her smarts.aLICIA vIKANDER1Every where you turn, there she is smiling that beguiling, but intelligent smile, saying even from the cover of Vogue, “I’m here to stay.” Or “Give me that Oscar!” (more…)

“Son of Saul”s Geza Rohrig Talks Oscar

Son of Saul 3

Unknown Hungarian actor and poet Geza Rohrig has found himself catapulted by the Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner, the excoriating, unforgettable “Son of Saul” into the middle of the Oscar race.
“It’s all very nice,” he says modestly,” But I cannot make these things happen.” But they ARE happening, as Sony Pictures Classics begins to propel “Son of Saul” into all categories including Best Picture, not just Best Foreign Film, and Rohrig into Best Actor.
Part of that propulsion is the unaffected, unassuming Rohrig giving interviews on just that topic and “Son of Saul” in general, in New York’s Sony Building, gayly decorated for Christmas. And guarded like Fort Knox.
The security getting into the upper reaches of the Phillip Johnson designed skyscraper was intense. I had to even show my passport, which they photographed!
But at the top of a winding staircase, festooned with evergreen and red and white Christmas balls sat Geza Rohrig, in a large corporate conference room. He was casually dressed  in a gray T-shirt and jeans, wearing that flattened black cap, he is most often photographed in these days and a several day growth of actor’s stubble. Looking the absolute scruffy antithesis of the corporate Christmas milieu surrounding him.
He seems stunned but pleased and a little overwhelmed by all the awards talk revolving around him.
“But it is very good for the film. I hope it allows more people see it.”
I point out that Hollywood has a recent history, almost a tradition, of awarding previously unknown foreign actors, who give extraordinary performances, with an Oscar. Marion Cotillard with “La Vie En Rose,” Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” and Jean Dujardin in “The Artist.” Last year, Marion Cotillard popped up again in Best Actress for a Belgian film in French “One Day, Two Nights.”
Rohrig smiled when I told him this. It was something I hadn’t seen before. He doesn’t smile much in “Son of Saul.”
There’s no doubt about it. Geza Rohrig has one of the great screen faces. His face, ravaged, sullen, dirty, frightening is front and center in the middle of the screen in a very, very tight close-up for almost every shot in the film. Set in Auschwitz itself, the most notorious and horrifying Nazi death camp of all, we only see what is happening in the edges of the screen.
Except for Rohrig’s astoundingly expressive face, which is IN focus, the periphery is out of focus. It’s as if his character, the Sodocommandant Saul is seeing only what it is necessary for him to see, only what he can glancingly observe, as he is made to do the dirtiest of the Nazi’s dirty work.
At one point, a Nazi commandant complains in German, “We are getting 10,000 more tonight!”
Rohrig estimates that 20,000 Jews were killed per day. “And one in three were Hungarian Jews.”
Rohrig is a Jew himself. He describes himself as “Modern Orthodox,” and Laszlo Nemes, the gifted young Hungarian director is Jewish and this is his first film. Nemes claims it took him a very long time to get “Son of Saul” made.
Says Rohrig, “It was very hard to get the money to make this film. People did not want to give money to the story of a Sodocommandant. It was too controversial. They were the lowest of the low. They were Jews who killed Jews. People did not want to see this. They did not want this story to be told. Sodocommants were just as much victims as the other Jews. They were going to be killed, too. But they were lied to, and told them that this is what they would have to do if they wanted to survive. Of course, every four months they then were killed, too.”
Sodocommandants were the burly, muscular Jews who were kidnapped by the Germans, but saved to do the hard, horrifying labor at the concentration camps, herding the thousands into the gas chambers, locking the doors on the victims, and then taking out the “pieces” as the Nazi described the dead bodies, and putting them in the blazing furnaces.They then had to shovel out the ashes of the dead and dump the ashes in the nearby river.
All of this we see Rohrig’s Saul do, doggedly punched, pushed and pulled literally every step of the way.
But of course, it didn’t save them.
“They were liquidated every four months. I think that we see Saul in his second month there. He is in deep  trauma. He can’t react. He is like a robot.”
It is to Rohrig’s everlasting credit that Saul Auslander (literally Saul the outsider) paints such an indelible portrait of a Sodocommandant, who is still sentient and who is trying desperately to hold on to his sanity as the world around him becomes more and more insane.
He even believes a dying boy from the gas chambers is his son, and goes on a missiion to save the boy’s dead body and give him a proper Jewish burial. He searches the hundreds of daily, new arrivals to see if one of them might be a rabbi.
“He is in hell,” says Rohrig simply.
Rohrig has had a lifetime fascination with Auschwitz. As a young student of 19, at a Hungarian Arts School, he traveled there to see it and then returned to rent a room near Auschwitz and stayed there for a month.
” I went to Auschwitz every day and stayed there all day long. I had to see it. I had to absorb it. It was the end of my childhood. It was the end of my innocence. I learned just what the world was. I saw a pile of children’s shoes…”his voice trailing off. As if unable to explain the impact of the death camp on him as a young man.
It has stayed with him to this day, and it is probably that profound knowledge and the sensibility that drew director Nemes to him for this demanding role of Saul.
Rohrig gives Nemes all the credit. “It is not me. It is him. It is his vision.”
Rohrig read the script and auditioned and was cast in the part, and what changed as they worked on it and tried to raise the money to shoot it, was the radical placement of the camera.
“It was RIGHT HERE,” he says gesturing,”30 inches away from my face. It was THIS close all the time. It was very heavy, all that equipment.It was always following me.”
Nemes’ camerawork captures every glance, every tiny movement of  every muscle in Rohrig’s ravaged face. Sometimes we see it with the back of his head in the shot. Even the back of Rohrig’s head and his hunched hairy shoulders are expressive. And on the back of his dirty clothes is sewn a gigantic yellow Jewish star.
“We have to try to understand how human beings could to this to other human beings. But it is not just the Jews. There are genocides that are happening today. Darfur.Rwanda. It hasn’t changed. I am very pessimistic. There is still evil in the world.”
,
This was the day of the San Bernardino shootings.
“But it is my job, Laszlo and me, to stand up and tell this story over and over and over again. So people don’t forget. But we wanted to tell it differently. From one person’s perspective. It is one day in his life. We just wanted the audience to see what he sees. It is the great thing Laszlo has done with this film. He wanted to put the viewer THERE.”
And Rohrig and Nemes have succeeded mightily. Just that week it won the New York Film Critics Best First Film and the National Board of Review named it the Best Foreign Film. And Oscar is knocking on their door.
“Well, we will see. I go to L.A. soon.(Rohrig currently lives in the Bronx) They should give something to the cinematographer and the sound, too, ” he says perspicaciously. And I agree. For while, you don’t SEE everything, you HEAR it. The sound design and mixing are incredible on “Son of Saul.”
It’s one of the best films of the year. And one of the best holocaust movies every made, and one of the greatest films of all time.

 

Oscar Afterglow A Week Later

CaptureYes, dear readers, dear cineastes, it’s only a little less than a week ago that we were all going cra-zee with anticipation of the March of the Li’l Golden Guys into the hands of this year’s winners.

And so what has happened since? Eddie Redmayne has emerged as a major international superstar with his win for Best Actor in “The Theory of Everything.” And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

This triumph at age 33 makes him one of the youngest winners for Best Actor ever. And the two mature ladies who won Patricia Arquette and Julianne Moore, who are in their 40s and early 50s respectively struck a blow for actresses of an “age certaine” as the French say. This year Eddie was the ingenue!

Arquette used her acceptance speech to create a new image for herself as a firebrand, a feminist activist, with her rabble-rousing call-to-arms for equal pay for women everywhere. Moore revealed something we did not know. That Richard Glatzer one of the two gay directors of “Still Alice” did NOT have early-on-set Alzheimers like she’d been saying all season, but ALS the debilitating syndrome that astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is afflicted with. And that neither he nor his partner Wash Westmoreland could attend that night “because Richard was so ill.”

It seems like if you played someone with a ravaging disease like Moore and Redmayne both did so flawlessly this year, you WILL win a Oscar.

Lady Gaga completely re-invented HER career by singing what I initially thought was a completely unnecessary tribute to the 50th Anniversary of “The Sound of Music.” Revealing stunning legit vocal chops that who knew she had? She brought down the house and opened up a new career. Gaga on  Broadway, anyone? It could happen.

Neil Patrick Harris, I’m sorry to say, ENDED his career as an Oscar host. But he looked great in his underpants, and certainly was the only Oscar host to ever do THAT. But the complaints were many that he just wasn’t funny enough. He had dreadful, unfunny writers.

Neil showed that he had what it takes as a serious dramatic actor in “Gone Girl” a worthy film the Academy completely ignored in every single category.  Well, Neil you’ve always got the Tonys…

And “Birdman” won four Oscars. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography, which will lead me forever into head-scratching land, with the eternal,unanswerable question, WHY?

And  so now poor little “Boyhood” goes into the history books as one of the most unfortunate Oscar pass-overs ever. Only Patricia Arquette won for that movie.

Looking back to my initial review, when I saw it first this summer, I accurately predicted this would happen. I’ll have to re-post it. I was right. But it was better than “Birdman” which I thought was un-reviewable. So I didn’t. Review it, I mean.

And now less than a week, later comes the exciting news that Eddie Redmayne flew back to London to start shooting “The Danish Girl” were he plays the first transgender, Lili Elbe in 1930’s Denmark under the direction of “The King’s Speech” Oscar winner Tom Hooper. Picture below `Eddie LiliI’ve posted this shot before, but I’m posting it again, because there is something absolutely HYPNOTIC about Eddie’s eyes. And that’s an incredible, perfectly styled wig.  He lost three Stone, which is something like 36 lbs. And yes, I think this means he’ll be back at the Dolby again NEXT February with another nomination for a transformative role.This picture just nails it.

It about a Danish husband and wife, both painters, who one day when the wife’s(Alicia Vikander, also in a star-making role) asks her husband (Redmayne) if he would mind posing in her model’s female clothing, one day when her painting subject doesn’t turn up. And he finds he just can’t stop the music…

Vikander was the beautiful young, blonde ingenue in “Anna Karenina” with Keira Knightley. And in those days, the late-20s, early 1930s, sex change operations were unheard of and very, very dangerous, bordering on butchery.And what were female hormones like in those days? The journey was fraught with peril.

And today we have Bianca Jenner, who just seems to be flying through it all with nary a care in the world. Bianca was formerly Bruce Jenner, the step-father, and now mother on “Keeping Up With the Kardassians.”

“The Danish Girl” I think will show every single step of this process that we now call “transitioning” or “Sexual Re-assignment Surgery.” The part of Lili Elbe requires ANOTHER tour-de-force, bravura turn from Redmayne, and we all know now that he’s totally capable of it.Budapest Occar Wins 1

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” won FOUR Oscars for Production Design, Best Costumes, Best Hair and Make-Up and Best Score. Alexander Desplat FINALLY taking home an Oscar and Wes Anderson FINALLY being recognized big time by the Academy after being ignored(except in Screenplay nominations) for the bulk of his long career.

And I can’t even begin to imagine how bummed and depressed director/writer Richard Linklater of “Boyhood” must feel. And no Oscar for Michael Keaton for losing to Redmayne for Best Actor. The “Birdman” film flew into the history with the caveat, oh, but it lost Best Actor for Michael Keaton…

Why did Keaton lose?

Was he away too long from film? And when he came back he was playing basically a very apt version of himself, a situation he would never acknowledge in interviews.

Tom O’Neil, the grand-daddy of all of us Oscarologists, said that also Keaton was known in the industry as “difficult” and did not do the huge full-court(ing)  and charming of the press that Redmayne did. Actually, Redmayne took a leaf from the glorious Marion Cotillard’s “How to Win an Oscar” book, and basically camped out in L.A. for a month between the announcement of the nominations up to right before the win, when he had to return to London to start rehearsing and shooting “The Danish Girl.” And he won.

As Tom O’Neil said over in one of his video “slug-fests” at http://www.goldderby.com, “You’ve got to kiss babies.”

And the beat goes on…

Why Marion Cotillard’s Nomination Is So Incredible, Also Important

Marion 2 I find that whenever I post something on Sasha Stone’s wonderful Oscar site http://www.awardsdaily.com, I show a slightly different side of myself as a film critic/Oscar blogger than I do here, even.

Sasha is REALLY pissed off about the way the Oscar nominations came down, and wrote, as she always does, a magnificent piece about her anger and what’s wrong with the Academy.

I countered with the following post ~

Whoa! We all have to hold on a minute and turn once again to the wonderful Marion Cotillard for hope and guidance. Her nomination is a triumph of the human spirit. And of the Actor’s Branch of the Academy, who nominated her. And no, it wasn’t just Europeans nominating her.
I think it was the entire New York membership of said branch. That’s what happened with Marcia Gay Harden, too. Everyone in New York voted as a block. I think. Of course, I can’t prove this statistically, but everywhere I’ve gone in the past several weeks of the voting period, people were talking about Marion Cotillard’s superb, heroic performance in “Two Days, One Night” NO ONE IN NYC were talking about Jennifer Aniston. That was totally a LA thing and a total Lisa Taback-hype thing.
Everyone who has seen Marion’s performance in a French-speaking film, no less, loved it and raved about it, and it was THAT the quality of her performance that got her nominated. MERIT! She got nominated on MERIT. And I’ll tell you something else extraordinary. I don’t think, to my knowledge, that they sent out SCREENERS! That’s right, no screeners. But they did have an abundance of SCREENINGS here in NYC. It was screened almost constantly. And Marion herself said that “We have no money, so there will be no nomination.” Of course, bien sur, she was WRONG! And it’s the best performance of the year and she should win. Et oui, she has an Oscar already, why not have two? She deserves it. And y’know, who also helped her get this nomination, the critics. Specifically the New York film critics. They gave her their Best Actress award and everyone then had to pay attention.
I hope Academy voters get sent screeners now. But just looking at how motivated people were to SEE THIS FILM IN A THEATER(well, all right a screening room) shows that voters CAN do the right thing. Not always, but sometimes. It gives me hope for the Oscars and for the future. She’s surprised before. She could surprise again.

Marion Cotillard Gets Surprise Best Actress Nomination! Eddie Redmayne Nominated for Best Actor!

Two Days 2Eddie & GlobeOscar Nomination Day! And the biggest most delightful surprise, for me, was my darling Marion Cotillard getting nominated for Best Actress for “Two Days, One Night” the powerful Dardennes Brothers movie from Belgian. Acting superbly in French, Marion once again breaks your heart and getting a nomination that effectively knocked out Jennifer Aniston for “Cake” is no mean feat. Bravo Marion! Felicitations! Marion of course also won an Oscar in this category already for “La Vie En Rose” in 2007.

Also, I’m so happy that Eddie Redmayne did also score a Best Actor bid in a super crowded field. One of the most jammed categories ever, competition-wise! Congratulations too to him and to all from “The Theory of Everything” that also got nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress Felicity Jones, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score for Iceland’s Johan Johansson. He also won a Golden Globe on Sunday as did Eddie.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” tied for the most nomination with “Birdman” and this year the Academy only decided to nominate eight films not nine or ten as in year’s past.

“Nightcrawler” was left out completely except for a screenplay nomination. And the controversial “Selma” only got two nominations, Best Picture and Best Song, which it won at the Golden Globes.

For a complete list see http://www.awardsdaily.com

I got all eight Best Picture nominees right. Only I thought it would be nine, adding in “Nightcrawler.” Neither Renee Russo nor Jake Gyllenhaal made it in.

And I saw Jake G. last night being great on Broadway in “Constellations”. More on that soon!Oscar & tiles

Nat’l Soc. of Film Critics Vote Marion Best Actress, Timothy Spall Best Actor

The Immigrant 1The very contrarian, very esoteric National Society of Film Critics, which is based in New York and always votes AFTER all the other critics’ groups have chimed in, went the astonishing way of naming Jean-Luc Godard’s 3-D, but art house flick “Good-bye to Language” as Best Picture. But then duplicated the New York Film Critics almost exactly by naming Marion Cotillard Best Actress for both of her acclaimed, but little-seen films, “The Immigrant” (pictured above^) and “Two Days, One Night” and Timothy Spall as the titular “Mr. Turner” as Best Actor.

Best Supporting Actor was J. K. Simmons, of course, who can stop him for “Whiplash”? And Best Supporting Actress was “Boyhood”s Patricia Arquette, both continuing their seemingly  unbreakable sprints to  Oscar gold in those categories.

It’s also interesting to note that “Farewell…” won by only one vote over “Boyhood.”

If you remember last year the National Society was the only group to award “Inside Llewyn Davis” anything! It gave it best picture and best actor for the stalwart Oscar Isaac.

A complete breakdown by the great Anne Thompson at Indiewire is here ~

http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/the-national-society-of-film-critics-love-language-20150103?utm_source=tohDaily_newsletter&utm_medium=sailthru_

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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