a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Mark Ruffalo’

“The Price” on Bway Saved by Danny De Vito & Jessica Hecht

There is definitely a Tony Award in Danny DeVito’s future. This super-feisty 72-year-old(same age as Bette Middler in “Hello Dolly.” But more on that later) is making his Broadway debut in what is arguably Arthur Miller’s worst play, “The Price.” It’s as dusty as the old sheets covering the antique furniture, which is soon to be dispensed with. The dust from these items, including a harp, are what make the audience in the front row sneeze, when Mark Ruffalo’s put-upon cop enters and pulls the sheets off them, scattering their dust everywhere. It’s his parents un-used and abandoned apartment in a tumbling down building, which is an apt metaphor for this tumbling-down play.

Dust is what has settled on this barely-a-play at all. Dated it certainly is and it’s infuriatingly so. Because DeVito’s wise ole, funny ole furniture appraiser in Act One named Solomon, (yes, I said he was wise) disappears in Act Two, as so does our involvement in the play because everybody else in this star-studded cast of only four famous actors, just can’t hold our attention.The Price 1

And it’s not totally their faults. Jessica Hecht as Ruffalo’s clothes-conscious wife, gives a delicious performance, but is shunted to the side for most of the action, which concerns the clash of the two Frantz brothers, played by Ruffalo and Tony Shaloub.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed for two such famous actors in my life. But it’s not their faults. They are giving “The Price”s Act II their alls, but there is no writing beneath them to support their Herculean efforts to try to create something out of nothing. There is just not much there there, as Gertrude Stein once said about Hollywood.

Shaloub’s ass-hat doctor is the villain of the piece. Rich, successful, and supposedly friendless, he is recovering from a nervous breakdown which no one seems to have noticed.

And Ruffalo, poor guy, still seems to be learning his lines, as a last minute replacement for the exiting actor who quit during rehearsals and got out while the getting was good, I guess. So we’re stuck with a suffering and soldiering-on Ruffalo, who is playing the poor sap who gets stuck holding the family bag as it were, and who hasn’t spoken to his brother Shaloub in 16 years. This should be a monumental clash of the titans. The privileged v. the working class, and you KNOW that’s what Miller was probably aiming at, but he misses it by a lonnnnnng mile. Reams and reams and REAMS of dialogue with the two brother going at it hammer and tongs. But the text just isn’t there beneath. It’s sheer verbosity.

And you’re just dying for Danny DeVito to come back and enliven things. Or for Jessica Hecht to have more to do, but it just doesn’t happen.If only Act Two was as dramatic as the above picture ^. It isn’t.

#the Price, # Mark Ruffalo, # Danny DeVito, # Jessica Hecht

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Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Makes DGA History by Winning 2-in-a-Row

Alejandro 1In a surprise win Saturday night, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made history at the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) when he won Best Director for “The Revenant” after winning LAST year for “Birdman.” You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. I really did think it was  going to be just about any one else. But I think the #OscarSoWhite controversy was very much on the DGA’s mind. And Inarritu IS Mexican and considered Hispanic, so his award speaks to Hollywood-ers wanting to right that perception. This may mean he’s going to win at the Oscars now, too.

And he broke into tears and gave a very moving speech about Mexicans in America and Donald Trump. Including the all Mexican kitchen staff that was “Making you sandwiches tonight.” I’m sure at the DGA’s grand banquet, they were dining on more than sandwiches.

But it is important to note Inarritu’s  historic achievement. He broke records and stats. And I only wish his two-and-a-half hour schlog of a film “The Revenant” were that short and that pointed and that moving.

Besides making film and racial history, what else did this win mean? Well, it’s knocked “Mad Max:Fury Road” out of any serious consideration for Best Picture or Best Director. Many were predicting 70-something Australian George Miller winning, but alas that was not to be.

Pete Hammond kind of tipped everyone off when he mentioned to Tom O’Neil that Inarritu was NOT going to be introducing the award as the previous winner historically does. He told Tom on one of the excellent podcasts on Gold Derby just this past week about Inarritu not making that announcement. “He can’t say, ‘The Winner Is Me!'” Hammond noted. Though evidently Irving Berlin did just that one Oscar year back in the day.Alejandro & Leo 1

This pushes “The Revenant” forward just at the time the Oscar voters are FINALLY getting their ballots towards the end of the week.
Leo will win and now it looks like it’s going to be Inarritu is going to win, too. Will the wealth spread to other of the eleven nominations? It just might. And it might sweep in Tom Hardy, too, in Supporting Actor.Tom Hardy 1

The one really touching, true moment was Hardy talking about his being scalped alive during an Indian attack, and SURVIVING! Since “The Revenant” is facing off against “Mad Max” in many, if not all, of the below-the-line categories, the win may cause a “Revenant” sweep.

But what of Best Picture? I don’t think THAT’s going to “The Revenant” too.”Spotlight” and “The Big Short” the “serious” smaller films, with less nominations. but mucho gravitas will score I’m betting. I think “Spotlight” which is being screened at the Vatican this week is the one who will win. It could get Best Original Screenplay, too, and that’s where Tom McCarthy will score. And THEIR Supporting Actor, if that’s the case, twice-nominated Mark Ruffalo could get swept in, too. PLEASE!

Anybody! But “Mumbles” Stallone!

Brie Larson Wins SAG Best Actress for “Room”!”Spotlight” Wins Best Ensemble!

Brie Larson 3Looking not at all like this possessed picture above ^ Brie Larson just won her well deserved SAG Award for Best Actress or as they put it, Best Female Actor.  She seems so much like the girl next door, you can’t believe that she was the “captured for seven years” girl next door.  In the shed in the back garden. And now here comes Best Actor!

Annnnnd it’s Leo. Oh well. And a Standing O, too. That’s it. That’s the ball game. He’ll win the Oscar, too. As will Brie Larson.

And “Spotlight” wins Best Ensemble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK GOODNESS!!!!

A shocked Mark Ruffalo gave a very nice speech, very moving, very heartfelt. “I really didn’t expect this”he exclaimed. And then handed the blue “Actor” award over to Michael Keaton, who ALSO gave a very impassioned speech about the “disenfranchised everywhere. Flint, Michigan, everywhere.”

So basically, that ALSO is the ballgame, dear readers, dear cineastes, for Best Picture.

I saw “The Big Short”,”Spotlight”s main competitor, but I kept thinking “They’re not giving their main award to a film that they may not understand.”

Even though the heroes in “Spotlight”  are journalists, a species that actors purport to disdain, but not tonight. And this win for “Spotlight” which I’m happy about, re-emphasizes that “Spotlight” is about something very, very serious and it’s a drama. “The Big Short” is a comedy. Comedy always loses and will probably now lose the Oscar, too. Spotlight 4

“Spotlight”is about the decades-long cover up of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church is an important topic. SAG felt it was more important than Wall St.’s corruption.

I also felt that “The Big Short” disturbingly glamorizes this corruption. Which is something that “Spotlight” does not. It faces its’ issues straight on, and condemns them. And everybody in the movie is just terrifically understated, and quietly brilliantly intense.

This win tonight for “Spotlight” puts it in the front-runner spotlight, once again, and I think it will stay there through to the Oscars.

Mark Ruffalo’s very moving acceptance speech showed Oscar voters, who watch these predictive proceedings like a hawk, are very likely to take note of that marvelous moment of Ruffalo’s. They also saw Leo, and Brie, and Alicia Vikander doing their best Oscar audition acceptance speeches, too. And they did it so well, I think all three of them nailed down their Oscar wins tonight. Indupitably.

The only category left up in the air tonight was Best Supporting Actor, because supposed favorite Sylvester Stallone is leading that Oscar category and Idris Elba isn’t nominated there. But Mark Ruffalo is.

So we have a very locked and loaded Oscar race now. Except for Best Supporting Actor, which will be announced VERY early in the evening as it usually is.

This occasion is a much more joyous one than the Golden Globes were.Indubitably.Boston Globe

 

Oscar Nomination Predictions~ The Supporting Actors & Actresses

Oscars 2015It’s really much harder predicting the Oscar NOMINATIONS which are coming out tomorrow morning before the dawn breaks over Hollywood 5AM PST. They are announcing ALLLL 25 categories tomorrow so they may start even earlier. But right now I’m going to predict the way that the four Acting categories are going to go.

Believe it or not, my feeling for biggest surprise may be from Renee Russo, who, due to the ever-increasing popularity of “Nightcrawler” may just snatch that fifth slot in Best Supporting Actress away from Jessica Chastain, who may have unfortunately split her own vote three ways by having three exemplary examples of her stellar work in “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”, “The Most Violent Year,” and “Interstellar.”

The other more or less agreed upon four ladies, front-runner Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”), Emma Stone (“Birdman”), Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”) and Keira Knightley (“Imitation Game”).

Supporting Actor has five men who have dominated this category since the beginning, but again, that pesky fifth slot I think is going to contain a surprise. Like for instance Steve Carrell(“Foxcatcher”) being dropped down to from Best Actor, as he was by the BAFTAS.

The 84-year-old Robert Duvall is the shakiest IMHO, because his film “The Judge” was not as much seen by audiences, i.e,  it was NOT perceived as successful. So if there were one too many screeners to see in an extremely limited amount of time “The Judge”, even though it opened the Toronto Film Festival, may very well be the one they skip.

Edward Norton was  terrific as the most over-acting actor of all time in “Birdman” and is a sure slam-dunk. Also many are gathering around Mark Ruffalo’s character in “Foxcatcher.” He’s playing a family man, and he gets tragic come-uppance which he doesn’t deserve. IOW, people are finding him the only sympathetic character in this dark, jerky movie.

Ruling the roost of The FIVE is J. K. Simmons for his blistering portrayal of a seemingly sadistic teacher, who then has also a tragic arc of sorts in the terrific “Whiplash”, a film I feel will get nominated, too, for Best Picture. But more about that category later!

Also, the Academy all did get the controversial “Selma” screeners, so they all got a chance to watch how good it is, and you just might find Tom Wilkinson’s portrait of LBJ turning up here. He’s got the only other significant, sizeable part, and Wilkinson has had two previous nominations, so they all know him and respect him.

All this “Selma” back-and-forth-ing may pay off in this category. But perhaps not with the directors branch.

If there is indeed an attempt to rally ’round “Selma” by the Actor’s Branch Carmen Ejogo who plays Coretta Scott King so beautifully might surprise here, too, and knock out – wait for it – Meryl Streep!

They may not want to give her her 19th(!) nomination. Then, again, they always nominate her for just about getting up in the morning. And she always turns up, and smiles, and laughs. But will Meryl be laughing on Oscar Nomination morning? Her terrific performance as the Witch was aided by many, many dazzling special effects…the Actor’s Branch doesn’t like special effects. They like ACTING! With a capital “A”, which Meryl WAS doing and singing as well.

Keira Knightley has the Weinstein Co. behind her. So she’s in. They still wield a mighty awards sword, despite their weak showing Sunday night with the Golden Globes. Only Amy Adams won, from TWC’s film slate. Best Actress for “Big Eyes” a nomination that is probably NOT going to be repeated on Thursday morning. But more on that category later!

Emma Stone is the Girl-Of-The-Year in “Birdman” as Michael Keaton’s mouthy teenaged daughter. She was very good in this, as she wasn’t in Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight,” but she got acclaimed for even THAT weak portrayal but not by me.

So in conclusion I think we have for Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette, Emma Stone, Keira Knightley, Renee Russo and MAYbe Meryl Streep. MAYbe.

And for Supp. Actor ~ J.K. Simmons, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo,

Ethan Hawke(for “Boyhood”) and the surprise ~ Tom Wilkinson for “Selma.”

The Academy does not shy away from the kind of press that “Selma” has been getting of late, which, as I said, may hurt its’ chances in the Best Director category but not Best Picture, and perhaps not here.

Wilkinson is a controversial LBJ? What the H! Let’s nominate to show how tough we really are, and he’s very good in the film.

We shall see.

Broadcast Film Critics Nominations Announced

 

The Broadcast Film Critics, sometimes known as the Critics Choice Awards announced this AM and “Birdman”(13 nominations),Budapest 1 then “The Grand Budapest Hotel”(11) led the pack followed by, of course, “Boyhood”(8).

The most interesting thing is that Steve Carrell was snubbed for Best Actor for “Foxcatcher” in a field of six actors! As I prediceted BTW. And “Foxcatcher” also did not make it in to the Best Picture category in a field of ten…very big blow to its’ Oscar chances, which now seem limited to Mark Ruffalo in Supporting Actor, who did nominated.

However, Marion Cotillard DID make it into Best Actress and Tilda Swinton was in in Supporting Actress for “Snowpiercer.” Again both in a field of six.

Also left out of Best Picture was “Into the Woods” but Meryl Streep was IN in Supporting Actress. I’m seeing tonight and will give a full report back.

Also “Gone Girl” was in as was “Nightcrawler.” The Broadcast Film Critics are considered the MOST predictive of the Oscar precursors, but they’re muddying the waters a bit with their fields of six nominees in many categories where they Oscars, of course only have five

BEST PICTURE
Birdman
Boyhood
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Nightcrawler
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken
Whiplash

BEST ACTOR
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman
David Oyelowo – Selma
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

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

Disappointing Oscar hopeful “Foxcatcher”

Foxcatcher 2

I was soooo disappointed in "Foxcatcher", a film that has been touted as an Oscar hopeful since its debut at Cannes, and followed by TIFF, and the NYFF. But I was just not on board with this film. Bennett Miller, who directed "Capote" to great acclaim and netted an Oscar for the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is a director I admire. And though he directed the baseball saga "Moneyball", he has a penchant for tackling gay themed projects.

Which he is doing once again here with "Foxcatcher." Except that he isn't. He's totally de-gay-ed a VERY gay story, ripped from yesterday's headlines about Henry E. Dupont, the very rich and very weird scion of the Dupont family. They had so much money, Henry basically felt he could buy anyone or anything.

And he was gay, although you'd never know it from this incredibly closeted movie. I mean, how can you take the homo-eroticism and also the homosexuality out of this, what should have been a Big Gay movie? Except that it's not.

If you think wrestling in and off itself is exciting, which I don't, you might like this movie. But Henry DuPont was clearly a predator, creating this camp of muscle-bound young men, who he was purportedly training for Olympic wrestling.

Everyone thinks that comedian Steve Carell is going to get an Oscar nomination for his cold, rabbity portrayal of DuPont. It's true he's almost unrecognizable with this humonguous fake nose. He also attempts a monotonal speaking voice for DuPont, which is irritating. OK. So he's not relying on his comic chops. So?

So what do we get?

What he gives us is just a two-dimensional creep. Not the three dimensional one that Jake Gyllenhaal is currently essaying so well in "Nightcrawler." Gyllenhaal's Nightcrawler is obsessed with things that actually are depicted in the film. Money, power, violence, fame,tabloid television.

Dupont is obsessed with men and what's missing is the gayness. It's so toned down, repressed, if you will, that it seems that DuPont is totally in the closet, which he wasn't.

You think wrestlers are hot? In this film, they are cold.And so is the whole film.

"Foxcatcher" is the most unsexy movie imaginable. You can't do what is essentially a gay movie and leave the gayness out of it. I mean, c'mon! It's 2014 already!

And as the plot reveals, or rather, doesn't reveal that DuPont is super obsessed with one wrestling hopeful Channing Tatum( who BTW is turning in the really stellar performance here ), to the point that he moves him on to his estate which is called Foxcatcher. And yes, they do have horses and presumably hunt foxes. His domineering mother, Vanessa Redgrave, who is totally wasted here, with one mere scene of dialogue, is a formidable presence clearly. And Mrs. DuPont does NOT approve of her son's zealous pursuit of the sport of wrestling. She calls it "a low sport" and wishes Henry would stop importing all these young wrestlers to the grounds of their estate. She wishes we would, well, catch foxes at Foxcatcher, and not healthy young male wrestlers, everyone a beauty.

I guess we’re supposed to draw the parallel that he collects handsome athletic young men, the way that his mother collects horses.

Of course, this doesn't end well. And based on a true story, the events, when they at last unfold AFTER TWO HOURS, are baffling rather than revealing. Or tragic. As they should've been.

The only scene that approximates what may have been an homosexual affair is where DuPont and Channing's character snort cocaine together on DuPont's private plane.

The violence that in the end ensues is totally shocking in that it makes no sense with what we have seen before.

Mark Ruffalo, as Tatum's smarter, married brother is also wasted pretty much here. Which is a shame. But then so is Redgrave.

So what we are left with is a very cold, remote film about this weird rich guy that makes no sense.

Miller tried this de-gay-ing thing, too, with "Capote" but in that case it worked, because Truman Capote was sooooo gay, no matter how toned down you made him, he was still VERY gay.

Do we need another portrait of a gay psychotic? Well, I for one was looking forward to this film, given its' festival hype. But I was severely disappointed. It shed light on nothing. It's a gay film for straight people in that case. Maybe straight people will think that SUGGESTING DuPoint's sexuality was enough. To me it was just a big cop-out. I expected more from the talented Bennett Miller than a lot of tense, conversational scenes that illuminate NOTHING.

Gay people are going to be very disappointed with this closet of a movie.

Only one week left! To help fund my Kickstarter Project to Toronto!

Only one week left Stephen Holt Show fans! Dear readers, dear cineastes! We need YOUR help to get to the Toronto Film Festival this year! 2014 is shaping up to be a very exciting year with great films galore at Toronto! Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” as I mention in the video clip, and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” among them.

I can’t tell you how crucial the Toronto International Film Festival is to my continuing coverage of all the stars that I get on the level that I get them. And the hotels adjacent to the Film Festival have raised their prices accordingly. Which is what has put me in this Kickstarter mode.

And right now, if you’re reading on this far, I can tell you that so far we have received $0.00 which is just a devastating figure to have to deal with.

I know you are out there, friends, Facebook-ers and fans! PLEASE HELP! Only one week left before Facebook turns off the lights!

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