a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Octavia Spenser’

“Shape of Water” One of the most beautiful, though improbable, love stories ever! Sally Hawkins is Magic!

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Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nomination Predictions

Following on from my earlier Oscar Nominations Predictions here are my Best Supporting Actress nominations. 

This is the wacky category which is always unstable and where ALWAYS surprises turn up. Even to me. Like for instance last year Jackie Weaver getting nominated for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Even SHE didn’t expect it, she has said.

Why, in a rather weak performance, did she get in? Well simply put she was in a film every Academy voter was watching, to look at the other eventual nominees Bradley Cooper, Robert DiNiro and eventual winner Jennifer Lawrence, and they saw Weaver playing mother hen to all of them, and so out of sheer laziness, I feel, they just wrote her name down as well. Instead of looking at a separate DVD screener (even if they were sent one) on Magnolia Films Indie starring Ann Dowd.

Weaver replaced Dowd in the final Nomination line-up. Even though she was NOMINATED for a Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress and WON the National Board of Review.

Weaver was also in a film the Weinstein Co. were pushing. As always, DON’T UNDERESTIMATE HARVEY!

So who does Harvey have in his Supporting Actress stable this year? Well, Julia Roberts, in the best performance of her career in “August:Osage County” so I think she’s in. And so are his other ladies, Opran Winfrey in “Lee Daniels The Butler” and also Octavia Spenser in “Fruitvale Station.”

Adding in Lupita Nyong’O’s breakout debut performance in “12 Years a Slave” and Golden Globe winner and last year’s Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle.”

And 84-year-old June Squibb gets in for “Nebraska.”

Also, I don’t think the Academy can resist making history this year by nominating THREE African American actresses in the same category! That would be Oprah, Lupita Nyong’O, and former winner in this category Octavia Spenser.

ETA: I just realized I predicted SIX nominees! Well, that can’t be right!
Sorry! So who gets left out. Unfortunatley, it’s either Octavia Spenser, but because she’s got Harvey behind her, and he’s ALSO got to do some heavy lifting for Julia Roberts in this category AND Oprah, too, who surprisingly is not a slam dank(She didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination! SHOCK!). He may split his infinity here. And “Fruitvale Station” as worthy as it is, is NOT “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”Or Octavia gets in and June Squibb does not. Last year, Ann Dowd didn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oscar Shocker? White Stars Knock Black Stars Out of Best Actor Race

Sad, but true. In what is being touted as the best year ever for the recognition of Black film making, with “12 Years A Slave” steam-rolling every Oscar category in its’ path, the Best Actor race may sadly be the same old same old-as in The Same Old White Faces.

There were FOUR possible Black Best Actor candidates. I’m using the word Black because two of them are British and therefore the term African-American is not totally apt here. Chiwetel Ejiafor for “12 Years a Slave” is British, and so is Idris Elba “Mandela:Long Walk to Freedom.” The other two being Forest Whittaker (already an Academy Award winner in this category) for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler‘”and Michael B. Jordan for “Fruitvale Station.”

I’m afraid when the nominations are announced in January only Chiwetel Ejiafor is going to be the last one standing. And the hue and cry resulting from this happenstance, may very well secure his win. WHICH HE TOTALLY DESERVES!!! “12 Years a Slave” is a masterpiece!

I have no trouble saying that “12 Years a Slave” won the Oscar in September. In Toronto, to be exact. At TIFF’13. I know. I was there. I saw it.I felt it.  It was seismic. The ground was trembling. It was like an Academy Award earthquake!

And the words on everyone’s lips formed a mantra “’12 Years a Slave’ has already won the Oscar in September!”

And lo and behold, it did go on to win the Toronto Film Festival Audience Choice Award for Best Picture. One of the only awards that non-award-giving TIFF gives out. And it’s the audience at TIFF that voted for this.

And I think it’s going to dominate in every category that it’s nominated for. Particularly Best Director(Steve McQueen), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender) and Best Supporting Actress ( dazzling newcomer) Lupita N’yong’o. Yes, I think Jeff Wells http://www.hollywood-elswhere.com is right in saying she could beat Oprah Winfrey in this category. Oprah being in the running for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

But back to the lead in this story. The SWORM which IS the Academy (Straight White Old Rich Men) are going to make sure that Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern all end up nominated in this category.

Hanks certainly landed with a big splash on Friday night, opening the New York Film Festival with “Captain Phillips.” Everyone, critics and audiences alike were ecstatic in their praise. Also of Barkhad Habdi as the main Somali pirate. There could be a surprise nomination there. No one saw that coming. But there it is.

Robert Redford’s solo performance in “All Is Lost” is a career-capper, too, by all acounts, and so is Bruce Dern’s in “Nebraska.” Up against these Hollwyood legends, I fear Whittaker, (“He already has an Oscar “) and Idris Elba( his film did not wow the critics or audiences at TIFF) and newcomer Jordon(“He’s young. He can wait.”) will all cancel each other out and leave Chiwetel as the last Black man standing.

And he could win. Satisfying EVERYONE. I hope.

I’m figuring the #5 slot is going to go to the long-overdue, career-changing Matthew McConaughey, who, yes, scored mightily, yes, at TIFF, for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

So much was decided at TIFF this year, I just couldn’t believe it.

When “Mandela” bombed, as did “The Fifth Estate,” those two films were quickly taken off the Oscar table.

It doesn’t bother me that “12 Years a Slave” is the presumptive winner. It deserves it.  It’s one of the greatest films ever made and deserves to be acknowledged as the masterpiece it is.. The injustices and horror of slavery that it depicts, just SCREAM “AWARD THIS!” All the other films coming up this year simply in terms of subject matter seem picayune by comparison.

The fact that in the Best Supporting Actress category, which some refer to as “The Booby Prize” of the Oscars,” there could very well be a historic TRIO of African American nominees, Oprah Winfrey, N’yong’o( She’s an American. She went to the Yale School of Drama! Yes, she did!) And past winner Octavia Spenser for “Fruitvale Station”. That would be terrific precedent-breaking situation. But in the Best Actor category, sadly, no. The status quo will, I fear,prevail.

Video

Melonie Diaz Sizzles in Super-Hot Oscar Contender “Fruitvale Station’

The lovely and charming Melonie Diaz of the much Oscar-buzzed “Fruitvale Station” a Sundance and Cannes sensation that couldn’t be more timely. Melonie reveals that she studied directing at NYU Film School! And discusses her relationship with Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer who plays her mother-in-law in the ripped-from-the-headlines movie.

Provincetown Film Festival ’13 Wrap Up!

PROVINCETOWN FILM FESTIVAL 15th ANNIVERSARY Wrap-Up

Epstein/Friedman Triumph TWICE with Double Whammy of “Lovelace” &”The Battle of AMFAR” ~ Almodovar, “Fruitvale” and Divine also score

Oscar-winning documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman did the seemingly impossible at the 15th Anniversary of the Provincetown International Film Festival, which just wrapped. They opened this smart, exciting, essential & growing film festival with their first narrative feature film “Lovelace” about the ’70’s porn star Linda Lovelace of “Deep Throat” fame and followed it up with a terrific doc about the AIDS organization “The Battle of AMFAR.” Both were superb.

“Lovelace” was my favorite film of PIFF, boasting a surprising trio of Oscar-worthy performances from Amanda Seyfried (“Les Miz,””Mama Mia”) as Linda Lovelace herself,and Peter Sarsgaard (“An Education”) is incredibly believable in his tough-to-take role as Lovelace’s porn producer/husband Chuck Traynor. The triumvirate of great star turns is completed by an unrecognizable Sharon Stone as Lovelace’s hard-nosed Catholic mother. I never thought Seyfried had the dramatic chops, and I, like Harvey Weinstein I was told, did not realize that it was Sharon Stone as the mother, until the end credits rolled, and I nearly jumped out of my skin!

Stone has been nominated once before for “Casino”, but didn’t win, and now I think she will have another strong shot for sure, as Seyfried and Sarsgaard will, too, be up for Oscar consideration again. And this time, as a Best Supporting Actress, she could actually win. And neither Seyfried nor the worthy-as-hell, overdue Sarsgaard has ever been nominated either. Also, Radius the new Weinstein Co. off-shoot is repping this terrific film.

A biopic of a porn star? I didn’t think I’d like it, but “Lovelace” and Seyfried and Sarsgaard and filmmakers Epstein and Friedman draw you in utterly and make you CARE. And it’s funny, too, when it needs to be, and tragic as Lovelace’s story gets darker and darker. And with Harvey Weinstein in the mix behind them, look out!

“The Battle of AMFAR” is about the founders, the unlikely duo of research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim and superstar-turned-activist Elizabeth Taylor. who joined forces to bring about a critical change in the perception of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1985. This terrific doc that sped by at a lightening pace was ALSO directed by Epstein and Friedman, who also directed “Lovelace”! Is there anything these two titans of cinema can’t do? It was definitely their time to shine at this year’s charming sea-side Festival.

The Weinstein Co. was also behind the laceratingly powerful racial drama “Fruitvale Station”, a true story about an innocent African American youth, 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who is wrongly slain by police on New Year’s Eve 2008. Unknown actor Michael B. Jordan has to carry virtually every scene of the film, and he does, but it is Oscar Winner Octavia Spenser(“The Help”) who outdoes herself here as Grant’s mother.

Grant is no plaster saint and his mother knows it. We are shown flashback scenes of Grant in prison, when his mother comes to visit and tells him she won’t be coming to see him anymore and refuses to hug him. We see her try to control her wild, pothead son, when he gets out, and she tries to keep him on the straight and narrow, and most monumentally, we see her grieving when he is shot-to-death by police. Octavia Spenser meets every challenge of this bravura, heart-breaking role that pulls out all the stops, and then some.

Having won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic film at 2013’s Sundance Film Festival, “Fruitvale Station”, the subway station where the tragedy occurs, seems primed to compete across the categories as last year’s Sundance favorite “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did. And with Harvey as its’ producer, you know it will be a significant player this awards season.

An enchanting Film Festival by the sea, picturesque Provincetown is surrounded on three sides by water, and boasted a particularly strong slate of docs this year, with “Casting By” about the late, great, legendary casting director Marion Dougherty. Who at one time, as Tom Donahue’s film amply illustrates, seemed to be running the film industry in the ’70s. Dougherty speaks for herself fortunately in many insightful interviews, where it is revealed that she single-handedly talked directors Peter Friedkin into casting Gene Hackman in “The French Connection” and also persuaded John Schlesinger to cast Jon Voight in “Midnight Cowboy”! Try to imagine those two films without those two great performances, both of which won Best Actor & Best Film. Dougherty became so powerful that she turned Casting which was a male-dominated field, into the female-centric one it is today, as she constantly hired women as her assistants. But Casting Director don’t get Oscars. They don’t even have their own category, even as Dougherty and others fought for accreditation. The all-powerful DGA wants to make sure the power stays with The Director and not The CASTING Director. If the public only knew! And “Casting By” at least shines a bright, benevolent light on this tricky situation.

Another doc that knocked my socks off was “I Am Divine” about the late drag performer and cult icon of John Waters’ films “Pink Flamingos”, “Female Trouble” and “Hairspray” among many others. Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz emphasizes what a good actor Divine was underneath all the make-up and gowns and that he was poised to have a substantial character as a male character actor when he died of a massive heart attack at age 40. Too young. Too soon. And like with the unlikely heroine of “Lovelace”, Schwarz makes you care about his too-chubby protagonist, who just couldn’t stop eating. Or acting. Or acting out.

Waters was there to speak about the film and his late star. Noting that when people said that they often saw Divine walking around Provincetown in kaftans back in the Day, Waters said, “That’s a lie! Divine took cabs!”

And last but not least there is Pedro Almodovar’s HILARIOUS new comedy “I’m So Excited!” which is already one of my favorite Almodovar films. The hottest ticket in one of the smallest theaters (The Art House 2), I had to line up in a Rush Line for AN HOUR before the film started! But I got in! And what a delight it was!

I don’t remember Almodovar doing such an out-and-out comedy since “Woman on the Verge…” or “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down”. Pedro, always a scamp as well as a camp, lets the bobby pins fall where they may as he lets his hair down in the wildest situation imaginable. A plane is stalled flying over Toledo, where it circles and circle and circles. The three tres gay male flight attendants have drugged all the passengers in coach and are left to entertain the first class passengers with campy numbers like “I’m So Excited”, which is a music video-like gem. Pedro could direct musicals, too, if he wanted. I couldn’t stop laughing!

Penelope Cruz and Antonia Banderas make hilarious brief cameo appearances at the beginning of the film. And I was particularly fond of returning Almodovar regular Lola Duenas, “Sole” Penelope’s illegal hair-dresser sister in “Volver”, as a wacky psychic who predicts that she’ll lose her virginity on this flight. What do you think? Hilarity ensues! Don’t miss it!

Golden Globe Predictions! OF COURSE! ANGELINA & MADONNA!

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone over at www.awardsdaily.com

brings up the interesting question regarding Angelina Jolie’s nomination for Best Foreign Film for “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” Are they going to want to see her on that stage with a Golden Globe award in her hotness’ hands? OF COURSE THEY ARE! That picture will be on magazine covers all over the world, as will Madonna’s when she wins for “Best Song” for HER DIRECTORIAL DEBUT W/E. The song is called “Masterpiece.” The irony is gettin’ a little heavy in here.

“In the Land of Blood and Honey” is also Angelina’s directorial feature film  debut, and though not eligible for Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination, she could win here. Her film has been very well reviewed believe it or not.

And the rest? Sasha says it’s “like Tiger Woods playing minature golf.” Which is the B.E.S.T. description I’ve ever heard of the Globs…

The rest, since they’ve nominated Gorgeous George(Clooney) for FOUR Globs, they are certainly going to give him AT LEAST one. Which is mostly like for Best Actor, Drama, for “Descendants.” GLACK. I’d rather see Brad Pitt win for “Moneyball” in that category. And if he DOES, it’s because they’re thinking “How nice would it be for BOTH Brad and Angie to win Double Globs?” If they really are thinking in terms of Photo Ops (and when are they not?) then Brad will win. If Angie with a Glob is enough, then he won’t. And it’ll be George.

Best Picture Drama? Most likely “The Descendants”. Best Dramatic Actress? If Meryl wins here, and she might, they LIKE giving her gobs of Globs. I think she’s already won SIX, at the very least. And recently for “Adaptation,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Julie and Julia.”Then Meryl may very well win this and make this a real race.

If however, Viola Davis wins here, she’s gonna be VERY hard to beat for the Oscar for Best Actress. In this scenario, I find myself actually ROOTING for Meryl!

“The Help” is like a see-saw. If Viola wins, then perhaps Octavia won’t. Since, I’m told, the HFPA votes in the end with a “select blue ribbon committee,” which is a FEW a VERY FEW people, maybe only the President (this year a woman) making the decision. A woman would very likely give Streep the Best Actress award since “The Iron Lady” is a solid feminist film.

And since it’s the Hollywood FOREIGN Press, guess what they are going to pick for Best Picture Comedy/Musical ?OF COURSE, it’s “The Artist” and Jean Dujardin for Best Actor and Michelle Williams for Best Actress Comedy/Musical. This is what  prompted Sasha to say that it was like “Tiger Woods playing Minature Golf”!!! ROTLMAO!

Christopher Plummer will win Best Supporting Actor. We all KNOW this. Hope he varies his acceptance speeches.

It’s Supporting Actress where the real, and perhaps only surprise of the evening may come as this may be Berenice Bejo, who is Argentinian/French, for “The Artist.” And she could join her husband Michel Hazanaviscius as he is proably going to win Best Director for “The Artist.” THAT would be a great Photo Op! And that’s the way they roll.

Octavia Spencer won at the BFCA Thursday…but…her speech was less than stellar. And this is the very first award of the evening,unless it’s The Plummer Award.( Yes, it’s got his name on it.)

Woody Allen will get Best Original Screenplay, but since they and we all know he won’t show up (He NEVER does) I don’t think he’s EVER been to a Golden Globe, that will be all that “Midnight in Paris” ever gets. Which is too bad. But that’s how Woody rolls. Historically.

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