a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Mark Wahlberg’

Oscars! “Argo” wins Best Picture, Jennifer Lawrence wins Best Actress & falls down!

I really enjoyed this year’s Oscars. I ADORED Seth MacFarlane as the host and hope he’ll be back for more! He was funny, and insulting, but not tooooo insulting. Since when did it become a pre-requisite for all Oscar hosts to act like Ricky Gervais?
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This above ^ introductory paragraph was written before the anti-Seth MacFarlane outcry began today and before MacFarlane himself nixed the idea on Twitter.

I must tell you dear cineastes, dear readers, that I am late in responding to the Oscars because a) I was at a wonderful Oscar party with friends on Sunday and b) on Monday I had to start physical therapy for a back and neck injury and it knocked me sideways. But I was feeling, and walking, much better today. I felt a real spring in my step. Was it the Oscars? I think so. Also, Spring is coming. Right? Isn’t it?

But I’m back up tonight and shocked, SHOCKED by everyone in the media world dumping on the stupendous Seth. He can sing. He can dance. He’s got a dazzling kind of Donny Osmond-like charisma, that he undercuts totally with his wicked sense of humor. And I guess it was just too wicked for some. But he’s got a big career ahead of him whether he ever hosts the Oscars again, but since the ratings were WAY UP, he just might be back. He said “Tina and Amy will be doing this next year.” But I wonder…

Everyone at my party enjoyed it and so I am saddened that there was all this back-lash. Seth, I love you! And I thought you did a magnificent, hysterical job!

Quick-witted Seth sort of sank himself at the beginning of the show by doing 17 minutes with the barely endurable William Shatner, who was “beamed in” on a screen above the stage, in all his Star-Trek paraphernalia, and proved just why HE was never a movie star himself.

I know he’s from Montreal, but he was flat-out boring in that flat-lining opening gambit. And it went on far too long, ending, however, in the hilarious set-up of the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A. singing “We Saw Your Boobs,” which is a number that will go down in Oscar history as love it or hate it, but me, I thought it was the essence of great comedy.

Not unlike his screamingly funny, and money-making film “Ted.” The potty-mouthed Teddy Bear, who MacFarlane voiced in the hit movie, also made an appearance with Mark Wahlberg to announce the Best Sound Categories. Which was an unprecedented tie for Sound Editing between “Zero Dark Thirty” (the only award it got) and “Skyfall” which also got Best Song for Adele.

The hue and cry against MacFarlane has all but dwarfed the actual awards and movies themselves as Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone points out at http://www.awardsdaily.com , but I’m happy to say that “Argo” won three. and Ben Affleck had his great moment in the sun, winning as a producer of the hit film, along with fellow producers,Grant Heslov, who hogged the microphone, and George Clooney, who stood by totally silent, and in a beard, clutching his hard-earned second Oscar like it was pure gold. Which it sort of is. But only gold-plated, really.But his firm grip was noticeable. I thought he was gonna break it in two. But then remember just last year, when he lost out on Best Actor to Jean DuJardin for “The Artist.”

Affleck was incredibly moving as he told everyone everywhere in the world to “never give up.” I took that very much to heart. He also said “Never hold grudges” in Hollywood. And to “always get back up when the world knocks you down.” Words of wisdom all…

“Argo” won Best Adapted Screenplay which I correctly predicted and also Best Editing for William Goldenberger, which I predicted, too. It lost out on Best Score. I thought they would acknowledge Alexandre Desplat, subtle, Middle-Eastern flavored work, but no, they instead gave to “Life of Pi”, which was Indian-flavored.

Affeck’s words about when the world knocks you down, get up, were illustrated minutes earlier, in a Forever in Oscar History Moment when Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her massive Dior gown and face-planted right on the stairs up to the Oscar stage! For the rest of her career everyone is going to remember her like that! And then she got a standing ovation! Everyone loved her for it! And I did, too!

A great screen comedienne, as well as a talented actress, who is being rewarded at 22. And probably will be again, in a career that is looking by the minute. to be of LEGENDARY PROPORTIONS.

Her fall made the front pages of newspapers around the world! The New York Post headlined her prone picture with the words “Fallen Star”! Lolol..

That fall all but knocked Anne Hathaway’s win for Best Supporting Actress for her stunning, unforgettable turn as the doomed prostitute Fantine in “Les Miserables” out of everyone’s memories.

Hathaway’s unfortunate change of dress from Valentino to Prada, resulted in emphasizing her nipples to a ridiculous, impossible to ignore degree. I know. I know. It was only two seams hitting the wrong places, or perhaps the right places, because this made her pale, pale pink Prado famous around the world for all the wrong reasons. Joan Rivers cracked “Anne Hathaway was with the Pointer Sisters. And they were all very excited to be there.” I think, Anne Hathaway’s Nipples have their own Twitter account.

She’s a great, great young actress, who is just turning 30 and is at the height of her career, and I couldn’t be more happy for her! Congratulations, Annie! You had Oscar at “Hello”! The minute they released the “Les Miserables” trailer in June, I predicted she would win this! And I also predict this will not be her last Oscar. Only her FIRST!

There was a very rousing medley of “Les Miz” sung live by the entire cast, including Russell Crowe(!) and Annie. Another standing ovation! “Les Miz” got three Oscars, the same number as “Argo.” It also won Best Hair and Make-Up, as I predicted, and Best Sound Mixing, for its’ incredible blend of the live singing with a 60(!) piece orchestra that was added later! It’s a stunning achievement, my favorite film of the year and I wish it had won more.

The Academy really OWED Anne Hathaway an Oscar I.O.U. to quote Tom O’Neil, who was in Oscar heaven hyper-drive over at http://www.goldderby.com. After what she went through with James Franco! And their co-hosting a couple of years ago. That was ANOTHER one of Annie’s great performances as she kept trying to keep the show going at all costs despite Franco’s complete, er, disinterest…

And I can’t help but think that Ang Lee’s winning Best Director for “Life of Pi” and Annie’s win for “Les Miz” on Sunday night, were a kind of karmic pay-back from the “Oscar Gods” as Ang called it in his acceptance speech, for that awful night when “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain.” And the late Heath Ledger got his Oscar, too, although it was posthumously for “The Dark Knight.”

I was very happy for all of them.

A great, great, memorable show overall,too. I’ll never forget it! And I’ll have plenty more to say about it soon.

icelandic Film Festival at Film Society of Lincoln Center

I have always been enthralled by Icelandic Cinema, and also dismayed by the almost complete lack of attention paid to it state-side. But the American glacier of indifference is slowly melting as evidenced by the historic Icelandic retrospective of films recently on display by the enterprising Film Society of Lincoln Center, which just had a very big spring with their Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in March.
Scheduled directly opposite the Tribecca Film Fest downtown,  this terrific retrospective tribute was struggling to gain media attention, and also public attention. But the films are very, very good, some of them unforgettable, and attention must be paid.
I was fortunate to have been in Reykjavik twice in its’ banner season of 1999-2000, when Baltasar Kormakur who is now one of the main forces in Icelandic cinema, had his first film “101 Reykjavik” a GLBT comedy/romance about lesbian marriage starring Spain’s Victoria Abril, open to record-breaking box-office attendance in Iceland.
Baltasar was also starring in the true Icelandic legend Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Angels of the Universe” as a stuttering madman who thinks he is a Beatle.
The Film Society proclaimed “Angels of the Universe” as “Fridriksson’s masterpiece” having seen the film four or five times now over the years(once without English subtitles!) I can only heartily concur.
“Angels” is a haunting, beautifully rendered cry of great pain from the great heart of Fridriksson as he charts the downward spiral of schizophrenia in the true story of his best friend’s brother. Based on Einar Gudmundsson’s prize-winning book, its’ a compassionate, violent and also very funny look at Iceland’s attitude towards the insane. Ingvar Sigurdsson’s Pall is wrenchingly memorable as the central character who longs to paint or play music or SOMEthing, before his world fades inevitably to black.
And  the asylum he is sent to is almost a respite from the endless white noise in his head. There he encounters Baltasar Kormakur’s crazed/shy Beatles’ maniac, who stutters and strums his way into the viewers heart with an Icelandic “Hey Jude.” Kormakur utterly captivates the audience as he befriends the friendless Pall, who doesn’t seem insane to him at all.
The scene where they, on an illicit afternoon out, end up having the most expensive and delicious dinner of their lives at the Hotel Holt (yes, the Hotel Holt. I must be Icelandic going back centuries…) and then getting arrested when they, of course, try to walk out on their bill, It’s a hilarious set-piece and also heart-breaking as you realize this will never ever again happen in their imprisoned lives.
And there  is the suicide of another chain-smoking inmate played memorably by Hylmir Snaer Gudnsasson. Who was also the star of Baltasar’s “101 Reykjavik.”
And did I mention Baltasar was also directing “Midsummer’s Night Dream” at the National Theatre of Iceland while starring in another production there of “A Doll’s House.”? He’s a one-man Icelandic powerhouse.
Iceland also produces incredibly talented and versatile actors, by the dozens(literally) who populate the films in “Images” from the Edge” over and over again. In a country which now has a population of 320,000, there is a lot of artistic overlap, and because of the small size of its’ vibrant and highly creative film and theater community, actors are expected to be as skilled at drama, and comedy, and even musicals.And they are. Because if they want to work constantly, they have to be.
Baltasar Kormakur also proved a vital action hero in this festival’s “Reykjavik Rotterdam”(2008) directed by Oskar Jonasson. It’s a pulse pounding thriller, which had the highest audience turn-out so far at Lincoln Center this Sunday. You’ll be familiar with this story of luckless drug smuggling sailors as Kormakur just directed Mark Wahlberg in its’ American language re-incarnation this spring. It was “Contraband” and it made # 1 at the box-office, the first time any Icelandic director has ever done this American hat-trick, and it has catapulted Kormakur into directing Wahlberg’s next feature starring him and Denzel Washington and Paula Patton now lensing in New Orleans.
In addition to Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s magnificent “Angels of the Universe”(2000),this towering almost -Viking figure, had THREE other films in the Festival, one of them “Rock in Reykjavik” from 1982, a doc on Iceland’s red-hot music scene, featuring a teen-aged Byork, in her then group called Tappi Tikarrass.Also “White Whales” (1987) and an installation in , off the main foyer of the Walter Reade Theater called “The Circle” or “Ring-Road” which looped constantly  in the Furman gallery, And hypnotized all who watched it as the camera,as Fridriksson described it, “moving at the speed of light” down Iceland’s all encompassing Hwy.No .1 which literally rings the island.
Set in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, this isolated volcanic island of poets, artists, actors and filmmakers touches the Arctic Circle. And anyone who seeks out any of these marvelous films(too numerous to mention here) will also be touched by this enchanted island’s magical allure. Iceland itself is always the main character in any of its’ films. I can’t wait to go back.
If only “Angels of the Universe” had been shown at the New York Film Festival when it was originally made in 2000! Now 12 years later, it’s getting its’ due But I was shocked to discover that no Icelandic film,  as EVER been shown in the prestigious NYFF. I think after this colossal “Images from the Edge” retrospective festival, things will be different in the future.
It ran through April 26.

Best Supporting Actor~ChristianBale, Mark Ruffalo & Sam Rockwell

I have always seen Christian Bale, Mark Ruffalo and Sam Rockwell as a sort of trio, worthy lord knows, and veterans now of how many movies? And leads in movies? But never, ever close enough to Oscar to get even a nomination.

Yes, believe it or not, dear readers, dear cineastes, neither of those three extremely talented actors have ever gotten in Oscars door, but goodness knows, at least they’ve been knocking on it, year in and year out. And this year all three might get in.

Christian Bale is purported by many to be the front-runner for Best Supporting Actor for his wacked out portrayal of drug-addled Dickie Ekland in the increasingly popular “The Fighter.”  It’s not as though we haven’t seen a crack-wack-head portrayed on screen before, but never before has a portrayal like that made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated! See www.scottfeinberg.com for the great graphic.

It should be just a pictorial of central character Mark Wahlberg “The Fighter”‘ himself.But there is Bale pushing his head into the shot and onto the cover!

But Hollywood and all the critical masses seem to be lining up behind giving Christian Bale his first ever Oscar nomination. He just got a Golden Globe AND a SAG nom in less than a week! Can Oscar finally be opening the door to the Dark Knight himself? I think so.

But is he well-liked enough to win? His bad boy rantings were recorded and published all over the Internet when he went off on that poor techie, and he also was said to have assaulted his own mother and sister, but they dropped the charges…So…Were they true? Well, something about this scenario must be…but…Is Hollywood going to forgive Bad Boy Bale, a grown up child actor? Or are they going to think him too young to win and give it to Geoffrey Rush, who is his biggest competition, for a career-capping performance as the wacky, but not wacked out Australian Speech teacher to Colin Firth’s sure-to-win stuttering King in “The King’s Speech” ?Aye, that is the question….

Then there are the place-holders…the category-filler-outers…which is where Mark Ruffalo may get in despite his Golden Golbe snub. Ah! But then he rallied at the SAG nods and got one for Best Supporting Actor, his first, like Bale, for “The Kid’s Are All Right.”  Though it opened in the spring, this lesbian-marriage comedy has stayed the course and just did VERY well at the New York Film Critics Awards, netting its’ writer Lisa Cholodenko, who also directed it, the win for Best Screenplay over Aaron Sorkin for The Film That I Will Not Name…Yikes! No  one saw that coming! Could happen at the Oscars too BTW…but that’s another column…

Ruffalo’s performance in “Kids”? Well, as the title says, it’s All Right.

 But not great.

Not really Oscar nomination worthy, though certainly Ruffalo has given many, many performances in the past that could have been nominated, but weren’t. But this time his Only Straight Guy In a Lesbian Movie turn may be the right place at the right time. N0t his greatest work, by any means, and NOT the greatest performance in “The Kids.” But  I guess his heterosexual male presence, and he IS sexy, may assauge the SWORM to nominate him. Oh, and women like him, too. So he may get his first Oscar nomination but he certainly isn’t going to win. Not with Bale and Rush in the category.

And there there’s poor Sam Rockwell! He’s also never been nominated and just missed BOTH the SAG and the Golden Globe nominations he should’ve gotten this week for his superb turn as another difficult, jailed brother in ANOTHER  Masschusetts jail in”Conviction.”

He’s playing true-life character(as Bale and Rush are co-incidentally) Kenny Waters who spends 18 years of his life in a New England jail until he’s freed by this crusading, devoted sister played Betty Ann by Hilary Swank. And SHE just got a surprise nomination from the SAGS! She who has already won two Best Actress Oscars, is obviously more of an actor-favorite than anybody imagined, and her performance is damned-good, too.e

I just caught up with “Convinction” at a screening two DAYS ago, and I was shocked at how much I liked it.

So Hilary Swank popped up unexpectedly in Best Actress and knocked out presumed (and Golden Globe nominee) Michelle Williams. Will Swank prevail at the Oscars in another surprise win? Or will it be the equally  worthy Williams, who though nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, has never been nominated in the main slot. Ah! But this time she’s gotten Oscar stealth weapon Harvey Weinstein behind her!…

I personally think that Sam Rockwell may be the one from “Conviction” to surprise, not Swank. Fox Searchlight is campaigning hard for “Conviction” even though it was a box-office flop….But they are getting the screeners into the Academy’s hands and/or getting the Academy’s asses to their screenings…of “Conviction.” So will Sam Rockwell pop up? Will he be the Oscar surprise? Heaven knows he’s worthy enough, but don’t be surprised, because you heard it here first!

Stay tuned!

“The Fighter” An Oscar Knock-Out!+ Other Awards News

I have to say, having just returned from an Academy-ish screening(it was mixed with guilds and obviously, actual press, too. I mean,was there!) and yes, it’s got Oscar nomination chances galore!

The audience at this screening seemed to love it, as I was tipped that the Academy would and they audibly did. That was born out by all the laughs and gasps and cheers throughout, though there was no final applause at the end. Every one left with smiles on their faces. ALWAYS a good sign for Oscar!

Mark Wahlberg’s passion project of many years has come to ripe fruition with him wisely surrounding himself with the some of the Best Actors in the business, like Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, all of whom I think are assured Oscar nominations in Supporting for this.

So it’s a holiday feast of blue-collar, but blue-ribbon actors all trying to out-do each other in what is a veritable Oscar smack-down and SUCCEEDING mightily. Each landing punch after thespic (acting) punch in this knock-out of a movie!

Although this is a boxing saga, it’s really more of a family drama, being played out against a boxing background. This Lowell Massachusetts hard-scrabble setting, replete with Boston accents, gives Leo, Adams and especially Bale, career-capping chances to really go to town in an award-winning, Oscar-baity way. Are they chewing the scenery for Thanksgiving? Gobble Gobble. Well, Leo and Bale are anyway…but the Academy LOVES these showy turns.

Wahlberg OTOH plays it down, very understated, almost dour and lets the wildness of the colorful characters around him shine. And shine, they do!

Bale is unfogettable as his crack-headed brother who is also his f**ked up trainer. Leo is  their horrible Mother-From-Hell  who is also his money-grubbing manager, and Adams gets to play against them as the good girl who he hooks up with, and who has to stand up to his insane family AND SHE DOES! You are totally rooting for her to take down the dastardly, deadly duo of Mom Leo and Brother Bale. This movie is one juicy fight scene from beginning to end! Whether it’s in the ring, or in the living room, or on the front porch, EVERY one is fighting!

As Wahlberg is also the producer here (and Bob and Harvey Weinstein are also listed as producers, too(!) with Paramount the main distributor) he’s going to get nominated for  getting this made & helming this irresistible (to the Academy and I think to audiences, too) combo of heart, guts and BOXING.

Boxing films have traditionally been catnip to the Academy and this one, though the formulaic trailers have been misleading-by-a-mile, “The Fighter” will be no exception. So in a field of ten possible nominees for Best Picture, I say the “The Fighter” is going to score one of those ten best slots.

With Wahlberg so monotone himself, I don’t think he’s got a chance at an Acting nomination. But as a producer of “The Fighter”, yes!

It’s going to be a Golden Glove( and Golden Globe) bout between Geoffrey Rush for “The King’s Speech,” and Bale for this in Supporting Actor  and THAT match-up is going to cause all the major Oscar attention for this film.  And those two performances are so different and also so  juicy, well, it’s a delicious prospect!

And Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are BOTH so good that they are BOTH going to be nominated most likely. Canceling each other out, and leaving the win to Helena Bonham-Carter for “The King’s Speech.” 

When two actresses from the same film get nominated in Supporting it’s historically someone else, who wins. The last time I remember this happening was in 2001 for “Gosford Park” when it was both Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Maggie Smith going head-to-head in Supporting…and somebody else won. Jennifer Connelly in a year that there was “A Beautiful Mind” sweep.

Bale v. Geoffrey Rush, who is brilliant, but already HAS an Oscar would be literally duking it out til the last minute in Supporting. Rush, as the hilarious, genial ,but tough speech therapist Lionel Logue, who is the Australian Henry Higgins teaching Colin Firth(the King) how to speak, is going to be a Battle Royal(pardon the pun) with Bale’s junkie, who, though everyone forgets it, as also a Brit. Yes, he is. He really is. Remember him as the kid in Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun”? Yes, that was little Christian. A child actor who has endured and ended up as “The Dark Knight.” Yes, that was him, the last time in the hood and cape. But all people remember from that film is the astounding Joker of the late Heath Ledger. R.I.P. Heath.

Bale, however, ALMOST overdoes it in the OTT category,but how can you play a character who is always tweaking, and not seem OTT, as well as ADD? Bale has lost a ton of weight for the part and as a  junkie who jumps out of windows to escape his harridan, chain-smoking mother (Leo), I do think he’s in contention.

It’s just that how much do they like Christian Bale? I mean, really? With that Internet rant to that poor stage hand being something that still lurks in people’s mind when they think of him? They may just make him wait, and give Rush a second Oscar for what is clearly the performance of the year.

But Bale’s never been nominated before and Rush has won before.  Me, I’d vote for Rush…but…it’s gonna be a fight to the photo finish at the Kodak between the two of them.

It’s also just a question of HOW many Oscars are they going to give to “The King’s Speech”? Colin Frith and Helena Bonham-Carter are both way out in front in Best Actor and now, Best Supporting Actress, too. Is “The King’s Speech” going to sweep?

I heard people discussing how there was one movie where there were lines around the block about ten days ago.  It was for a SAG screening and that was for “The King’s Speech.” “The Fighter” was well attended, but not full, by any means. And no applause at the end, though a consistently involved chorus of laughs and gasps, means they were involved. But  not as enthralled as “The King’s Speech” audiences are.

Bale has the best Oscar shot of the bunch of them. He gets to OD, and then go cold turkey in a jail cell! Now that’s what I call a PART! So Christian Bale will finally get his first Oscar nomination…

But will he win?

And in terms of other films…I heard when the New York Film Critics get together to vote soon, very soon. (“True Grit” FINALLY starts screening next week for all and sundry) that at the moment it’s still going to be a pitched battle between “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” So, what else is new? That’s the way it’s been since Toronto!

Except that today, “The King’s Speech” just got 100% from the Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes! How can ANYone argue with those stats? Especially the Academy!

Harvey Weinstein must be having a very happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Coupled with women, who are just flat out refusing to see “127 Hours” because of the gore, and the arm-thing…

People, again it was women I was talking to, are not digging “Black Swan.” ‘It ruins ‘Swan Lake'” one balletomane told me. But ballet lovers are going to be in the minority of AMPAS.

But then, of course, WOMEN are not the majority of the AMPAS voters. The SWORM are. Single White Old Rich Men…

And EVERYbody is digging Michael Douglas’ performance in “Solitary Man.”

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