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Posts tagged ‘Mary Poppins’

Emily Blunt Becomes Legend in “Mary Poppins Returns”! Give That Girl an Oscar!


I have long admired the acting force that is British Actress Emily Blunt. She’s been on my TV show twice, once for “The Jane Austen Book Club.”where I interview her by satellite. She was in London where she said, “It was pissing down with rain.” Now that’s not something Mary Poppins would never EVER say. This is without a doubt the iconic role that is going to make her very, very famous and will define her career for the rest of her days. And maybe even win her a Best Actress Oscar.

She was just nominated for her”practically perfect in every way” British nanny that descends from the lovely, fog-covered London skies  to save the Banks children once again. But this time they are all grown up and played remarkably sympathetically by the brilliant Ben Whishaw and the divinely demure Emily Mortimer. It is 1930 and they still live in the charming house on Cherry Tree Lane, but here’s where director Rob Marshall had a master stoke of genius. They are on the verge of being evicted.

So beneath the flaming Technicolor flim-flammery, there is a great core of sadness underlying “Mary Poppins Returns.” Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins senses that there is  real trouble brewing here and that only she can fix it. This gives the always startlingly original actress a role that she can really sink her teeth into, and probably will play for ever. If she wanted to. There is a real sense of pain and a core of sadness that is motivating her Poppins to do what she does best – Cheer every one up. She’s like a supernatural social worker.

Blunt plays her with a tinge of something akin to regret. She knows in her heart of hearts that she really CAN’T help the Banks’ in any practical way. Her magic only goes so far. Or does it? And Nannys DO have to leave, eventually. That’s where her sadness comes from. As much as she loves the Banks’, she inevitably knows there will be a moment to go to say “It’s time.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is on hand, too, in the Dick Van Dyke role, as  twere,  as Mary’s comical side-kick. Here transmorgrofied in into a lamplighter. He seems wildly miscast here, but his British accent is better than Van Dyke’s (who is in THIS movie, too!)so I’ll give him a pass for bounce-ability.


Also on hand is a new character, Mary’s Blatvian cousin Topsy who tells them all she is “Turning Turtle” a show-stopper number that allows Streep to out-camp her Florence Foster Jenkins role .That’s camp for you. The greatest of all addictions. Once you touch even your little left toe into it, you can never get out of it.

If you can imagine such a thing. She does more bumps and grinds per minute than any one in film history. And if it was anyone but Meryl Streep doing it you would say “STOP!” “Too much!” With Meryl you say, “You just keep twerking it, girl..”

The charming composer/lyricists are straight from Broadway. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are so endlessly tuneful and prolific, it’s simply amazing. My favorite has to be “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” and “There’s No Where to Go But Up!” sung by Angela Lansbury. Yes, she’s in it, too. Even the background music is quite enchanting. And every now and then they slip a little touch of the original Sherman brothers classic score. Just a few notes, mind you, but it is enough to send one flying up and down memory lane, in the best possible way.

It’s a delight. It’s an epic and I think it’s going to be nominated for Best Picture and many, many below the line categories. Sandy Duncan’s costumes are heaven-on-earth, right down to Mary’s red shoe laces. And of course, the extraordinary Emily Blunt will be nominated for Best Actress. And she could win, too! This is a film that will melt the hearts of every hardened cynic in Hollywood. And you’ll end concluding that we all need a Mary Poppins in our lives.

“Mary Poppins” is not just a sequel. It’s a classic.

Oscar Ballots Go Out~ So where are we now?

The 2013 Oscar ballots went out in the mail and became available online yesterday. So RIGHT AT THIS EXACT MOMENT, they provide a snapshot, if you will, of the Academy’s deepest(or most superficial) feelings.

That a silly little film like “American Hustle” could be at the top of everyone’s minds right now is really irksome to me. But I would be re-miss if I didn’t say that I think that’s the case. That’s awful, but I think that’s what’s really happening.

“12 Years a Slave”, the masterpiece that’s out there, that I’ve seen THREE times now, is on everyone’s minds, too. I just hope they (the Academy) are watching it. And appreciating it the way I and Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone do. Check out her latest readings of the Oscar tea leaves at http://www.Awardsdaily.com. It’s horrid that this maybe happening, but I’m protecting myself from getting another “Brokeback” heart on Oscar night, by getting ready for the worst.

The water cooler movie that everyone is talking about right now is “Wolf of Wall Street,” but I don’t think the Academy is going to dig it. I don’t think either M. Scorsese or Leonardo DiCaprio and especially Jonah Hill are going to get nominated for what is in essence a three-hour orgy supporting and glamorizing what it purports to condemn. Which is the excessive greed on Wall St.in the 1980s and early ’90s. They could’ve called it “Crack Hoes on Parade,” but then they would be admitting it to be the porn film it almost is.

I think Cate Blanchett is sitting pretty, VERY pretty and very high up in everyone’s esteem right now, to get her Second Oscar for her unforgettable turn as a socialite in free-fall in “Blue Jasmine.” Actually, “Blue Jasmine” is also about what “The Wolf of Wall Street” is about economics crashing and burning, but “Blue Jasmine” and Woody Allen who wrote it, SHOW you the downside and what the victims of this powerful abuse of  money, one of whom is Jasmine herself, suffered.

Allen pointedly depicts the people who got hurt, as WOWS never does. Those who invested their money and lost everything by trusting Jasmine and her Bernie Madoff-esque husband (Alec Baldwin in one of the best performances of his career)

One after other after the other, the visible victims  unload on the now pathetic Jasmine, whose son won’t even speak to her. The most memorable scene being between her and her brother-in-law(Andrew Dice Clay) who lets her know just exactly how many lives she and her husband have ruined.

It’s devastating.

Woody Allen got it right. Which may be why you might find him turning up nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. And don’t be surprised if Blanchett’s centrifugal force pulls her sunny sister Sally Hawkins into the Supporting Actress category, too. Hawkins is wonderful as the only person left on earth who is on Jasmine’s side.

And don’t be shocked if Robert Redford is going to find out that REALLY All IS Lost when he or his film doesn’t end up anywhere on Nomination Morning, Tuesday, Jan. 14. He was not nominated for a SAG Best Actor award and NOBODY has ever won Best Actor without a SAG nomination. NOBODY.

And we all know that Oscar stalwart Harvey Weinstein is campaigning heavily behind the scenes for all FOUR of his Oscar hopefuls, “Philomena”, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and ” August: Osage County.” And finally, “Long Walk to Freedom.”

He could be making sure that  AT LEAST ONE of his Best Actors candidates, Forest Whitaker, the Butler himself or Idris Elba(Nelson Mandella)could take the slot that Redford was supposed to.

I think Tom Hanks is also in danger of splitting his vote. He’s got “Saving Mr. Banks” in Supporting as Walt Disney and also he’s got his leading performance of “Captain Phillips.” His Disney so far has garnered no precursor awards. And “Banks” seems to be stumbling everywhere except for leading lady Emma Thompson who seems destined to get a Best Actress nomination for her prickly pair of a performance as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers.

If I had to pick one, I’d say his “Captain Phillips” turn is the more likely of the two.

And now to Harvey and his other “fillies” as Tom O’Neil http://www.goldderby.com would dub them. Meryl Streep just got the worst reviews of her career for “August:Osage County” and they all came out YESTERDAY, and the NYTimes’ A.O.Scott was particularly,unusually brutal. But I agreed with him.

Julia Roberts in Supporting(at the moment) is getting universally better reviews that Streep, if you can believe it. Streep described it in a Q&A this week in Hwood as “Streep Fatigue”. And she herself even admitted that the Academy’s Actors Branch might be suffering from that. It looked as though she was too. It seems like she doesn’t like the role of Violet she was playing, quite frankly. So why did she do it???

So who takes her place? Julia Roberts? Or is it Amy Adams who has been nominated FOUR times in Supporting in the past eight years, but never won. This would be part of the “American Hustle” effect. Which could also see Christian Bale pop up in Best Actor and Bradley Cooper in Supporting. Don’t gasp. It could happen.

Though Adams is the LEAST effective performance in “AH.” Weak is the word. She’s just not believable as the Whore of Babylon. Opposite Jennifer Lawrence, who certainly IS playing that part. But as a housewife in Queens. Or is it New Jersey? And Lawrence will FOR SURE get nominated.

How much do people like this already over-awarded very minor comedy?

I’m unfortunately guessing a lot right now. And Bale, Cooper and ugh, even Adams could get pulled along by “AH”s coat-tail effect. I HATE to even type this. But all four of them have been nominated for a Golden Globe, but in the Musical/Comedy category. Or rather Bale and Adams have for their leading performances.

It could happen.

And what of the wonderful actors of “12 Years a Slave”? I think they all will be nominated. Chiwetel Ejiofor in lead, and Michael Fassbender in Supporting Actor and Lupita Nyong’O in Supp. actress. They all could win, too.

Out of the three Nyong’O has the least competition in her category. And there’s a healthy history of Black Actresses winning in Supporting. And the part! I mean, her character “Queen of the Fields” Patsie gets raped, whipped, and a glass decanter is thrown in her face. She wants Solomon Northrup to kill her. She even offers him money to drown her….From the part ALONE, I would think this is Lupita’s to lose. How can anyone else compare? And this is ALL TRUE!!! Patsie was a real slave who actually lived, too.

And there’s thoughts being floated that “12 Years a Slave” might not win Best Picture, losing to either “American Hustle” or “Gravity.” But that Chiwetel Ejiofor will win Best Actor. I certainly hope they all do. And that Right, and a masterpiece, will triumph.

And as for the landslide of precursor awards that is consuming Jared Leto for his portrayal of a sweet transvestite named Rayon in “Dallas Buyer’s Club”…well, the Academy has been historically quirky about awarding cross-dressing performances, though Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry” and William Hurt in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” would belie that rule. Maybe the ground has been broken, but I do feel Michael Fassbender’s horrifying villain of a slave owner Master Epps is the greater performance.

You can’t just put on a dress and expect them to give you an Oscar. Just ask Jaye What-his-came from “The Crying Game.”

Oscars in November ~ Where We Stand Now

OK. It’s on! The Oscar season has more than officially started. We are in what’s called “Phase One”  and as I’ve been saying since Toronto. It was all over as soon as I saw “12 Years A Slave.” Nothing could touch it. Nothing has.

Of course, it’s a very bad position to be the front-runner from the get go, but quality is quality and this is one of the greatest films of all time, a masterpiece, and the Academy cannot deny it it’s due. AND it’s making money, too.

I was worried when it first unspooled at Telluride that the praise was too deafening to be true. But when I saw it, the hosannas were understated. It’s one of the greats.

I was also worried that it was too much too soon. Could it sustain all the way though this LONG Oscar season, which doesn’t end this year until MARCH!

But it has been sustaining and people are going to see it, placing it at a strong #7 now on the Box-Office Top Ten for two weeks in a row.

And the critics awards aren’t going to be handed out for another 2-3 weeks or so. And when it starts, I’m telling you it won’t stop. “12 Years a Slave” is going to win EVERYthing!

The Best Actor race is much more variable with Chiwetel Ejiafor still out in front in my estimation. That’s for playing the title role in “12 Years a Slave”. And the Academy is poised to make history, which it often doesn’t shy away from doing, by giving Steve McQueen an Oscar for Best Director. He would be the first black man to ever win this award, shockingly.The news this year is that African-American and Black films and stars have all arrived and are here to stay, with performances that should be recognized. I am also predicting a record number of AA nominees this year. Maybe the Most In Oscar History. Call it the Obama Effect hits the Oscar big time this year. And I think that’s a good thing for everybody.

“12 Years a Slave” two months after TIFF is still a juggernaut that can’t be stopped. And thank goodness, everyone is getting on board.

The Gurus of Gold (which I used to be one for several seasons) has both 12YAS, McQueen and Ejiafor in the number one spots in their respective categories. And Lupito Nyong’o, too for Best Supporting Actress. The brilliant actress whose family really is from Africa(her father was a diplomat and politician) and she’s a Yale School of Drama graduate to boot. That stunning performance as Patsey, the tragic slave heroine will haunt your dreams. I can never stop praising her searing, magnificent performance. And Lupita is growing on the Awards Circuit every day, giving gracious, intelligent interview after interview. She’s the Cinderella story of the year, and she’s more than ready for her close-up.

And I still say Michael Fassbender’s multi-faceted turn as the villainous slave-owner Edwin Epps will also win the German-born, Irish actor a Best Supporting Actor Award. He’s got the industry cred behind him, with many many starring roles in movies lined up and coming out one right after the other.So Hollywood has a vested interest in him becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger star. His getting this award will validate all those expensive movies that have already invested millions in him becoming one of Hollywood’s new, true stars. Who also happens to be a great actor, too. And I think his non-campaigning  campaign is only going to help him. Silence is sometimes golden. Ask Garbo, if she were still alive. Ask Jean DuJardin and Michel Hazanaviscious. Hell, ask Mo’nique.

And the fascinating Fassbinder’s  got the title role in the controversial “The Counselor” out now. He’s also one of the leads in the X-Men franchise, and on and on and on. He’s what movie stars are made of, and so is Lupita Nyong’o.

Best Actress I feel personally is going to go to Sandra Bullock for “Gravity.” A sensationally popular mega-hit, which people are seeing over and over again, Bullock, or Sandy as she’s know to one and all in Hollywood, is the only person in 95% of the movie. George Clooney is barely in it. Spoiler alert.

With “Saving Mr. Banks” on the horizon, and two other major players “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” still unseen, it’s non-sensical to even call everything as I have been calling it since Sept. and Toronto. But hey! It’s the Oscars! It’s the Silly Season as David Karr of the NY Times so accurately called it, back in the Golden Days when he was the Times’ Oscar guy. He called himself “The Carpetbagger.” Because that’s what he felt like being a TImes financial reporter covering the Oscars. And so yes, it’s silliness personified.

But then so are the three unseen films which cover “Mary Poppins” back story, and financial guys at different end of the social spectrums. And different eras. Call me irresponsible, but I don’t see anything in the subject matters of these three films, all maybe comedies, We don’t know for sure yet. But yes, they all seem picayune by comparison.

But I can tell you what will win Best Animated Feature already Disney’s “Frozen” and Best Song “Let It Go” From Frozen.

And I don’t see any of these last three films really shaking up The Race.

And Then…He Didn’t Like it…Jeff Wells, that is, and “Saving Mr.Banks”

I feel very sorry for Jeff Wells right now. He flew half-way around the world to post his review of “Saving Mr. Banks” and he was well, disappointed by it. That’s really a bummer. To spend all that money and sit for ten hours in coach, to see a movie that you thought you were going to love, then didn’t…

Well, you can read Jeff’s reaction here at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com

But the ones who benefit by this are we, his readers, who are delighted by these dramatic,colorful postings. So thank you, Jeff, for doing this for us.

Long story short he didn’t like the movie. AND he didn’t like Emma Thompson‘s performance as P.L. Travers, one-note and irritating. Grating, I think was the word.

But all the others who’ve seen it and there are PLENTY of reviews all over the internet now, seem to LOVELOVELOVE Emma Thompson’s tart take on Travers. the Australian/British authoress of “Mary Poppins.

The praise for her is unanimous except for Jeff Wells. Most feel the film though isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and are up-and-down on Tom Hanks’ Disney.

Gregory Ellwood of www.hitfix.com feels, however, that Hanks will win his third Oscar for playing Walt Disney. His “Capt. Phillips” is a huge hit, and he’ll probably get a nomination for that, too.

But will T.Hanks be able to knock out Michael Fascintating Fassbender in that category?

Jared Leto, who is in drag for “Dallas Buyer’s Club” is the other name that keeps cropping up in that category’s conversation. But the Academy is queasy about giving Oscars to drag queens. Remember Jaye Davidson in “The Crying Game”?

I was soooo sure that he’d win, but OF COURSE, they gave it to Gene Hackman that year for the “Unforgiven.”

Fascinating Fassbender, however….that’s a TITANIC unforgettably frightening performance! If you’re scared during “12 Years a Slave“, it’s Fassbender’s evil Epps that you’re scared of…Just saying…

They DO reward scary villains in this category. Javier Bardem  as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men“? Remember who frightening he was in that Dutch Boy haircut?

And Fassbender is playing a real-life character, too. There was a scary slaveholder named Epps. There was. Versus an amiable Walt Disney? Crazy stuff…

Oscars ~ After the NYFF, Where Did Everyone Land?

As the 51st Edition of the New York Film Festival, wound up tonight, where did all the Oscar seekers land? Who was helped? Who was hurt? Well, one thing is still sure. “12 Years a Slave” is STILL the front-runner and the one to beat emerging from this festival, where it also received its’ lion’s share of raves to match its’ tumultuous receptions at Telluride and Toronto. And it opens this coming Friday in theaters and expect the lion (NOT M.G.M.s) to keep on roaring.

“12 Years a Slave” depicts the horrors of slavery more completely and compellingly than any other film on the subject has been able to do. Oscar bound director Steve McQueen said “It is a film about a holocaust.” And it is. The moniker “The Black ‘Schindler’s List’” still aptly describes it, glib though that may be. And remember how many Oscars that dark, frightening, monumental film won!

But other things emerged at the NYFF, but not I think any other film that could topple “12 Years” from its’ front-runner status.

But Chiwetel Ejiafor saw competition to his Best Actor Oscar chances emerge from veterans Robert Redford and Bruce Dern, both 77. For “All Is Lost” and “Nebraska” respectively. Also Tom Hanks as well for “Captain Phillips” which opened the Festival. It’s clear now that ALL FOUR of these men are really seriously vying for the five slots. They may all get in. But so intense was the competition trying to take down Ejiafor (but assuredly not the Picture) that the rival film companies had all THREE of these films competing for red carpet time and media and audience attention by all playing on the same night! Tuesday!

I think that shows that Redford and Dern’s parties are especially scared. But this is particularly surprising in Redford’s case. He got a standing O and cheers galore from the audience at the NYFF, but I sense flop sweat. Ejiafor’s portrait of kidnapped slave Solomon Northrup is going to go down in history and is going  to be hard to beat. But clearly Redford’s crew has thrown down the gauntlet with this Tuesday night manuvering.

Some thought Hanks may not even squeeze into the top five, but Redford evidently is a sure-thing. But will he win?

Some say he’s giving the performance of his career, but if “All Is Lost,” a film with virtually no dialogue, tanks at the box-office that will be a different story. A sparse, intense drama at sea, which is well, exactly what “Captain Phillips” is, too. Uh-oh…

But “Phillips” killed at the box-office this past weekend. It was evidently smart to get it out immediately after its’ NYFF Opening Night stint. Where, like Redford, Hanks got a standing ovation. But who is in the better film?  It’s clearly Ejiafor.

And where does that leave Bruce Dern? Maybe in Supporting, if he’s smart. But I don’t think he’s smart. And the film is in Black and White, another hard sell.

These tiny, little gradations mean MUCH MORE than they’d usually mean in an ULTRA-tight Oscar race. Hanks was rumored to maybe even not get in!

But then again the box-office just spoke up on his behalf. And loudly.

Meanwhile, outside the NYFF, in the real world, “Gravity” was still breaking box office records and was even satirized on SNL on Sat. night. I can’t think of when a MOVIE, an Oscar-seeking movie was on SNL BEFORE the opening titles, this quickly! it’s become a pop cultural event and at barely 90 mins. running time, millions more people can see it and more quickly than any of the other film.

Who came a cropper at the NYFF? Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” which I quite enjoyed, but it’s slot as the prestigious Centerpiece film raised expectations and garnered the genial, funny film lots of negative reviews that its’ Oscar chances certainly didn’t deserve or need. I think it will make a lot of money and  family audiences will to it respond, too. It opens Christmas Day, which sounds perfect.

And “Inside Llewyn Davis” the latest from the much beloved Coen Bros? It seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. So many films. SO little time

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings are “Saving Mr. Banks” about the making of Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” which Jeff Wells of http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com has announced that he’s going to fly over and see its’ London opening,, so he can scoop every one over here. Jeff, who’s been crazy about it, since he read the script, has been a big champion of it sight unseen and it co-stars Emma Thompson(who already has a two Oscars) and oh, him again, Tom Hanks (he’s also got two). Hanks could see himself in Supporting playing Walt Disney, which sounds like an Academy slam dunk, if ever there was one. But it could also diminish his “Captain Williams” shot at lead. Yes. It’s THAT competitive this year. Which is great, because it means that there are a lot of excellent films in the mix.

We shall see. I can’t wait for Jeff’s postings from London! But meanwhile, my (seemingly) endless journey of festivals is done. For the greater moment anyway. And I’ve seen a lot of good films this year. But nothing, NOTHING beats “12 Years a Slave.”

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