a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Pauline Collins’

TIFF ads names to Supp.Oscar Race & “Lincoln” trailer sounds WRONG!

TIFF is SUCH a leveler. And always a surprise,too. Coming out of “Quartet,” one of the hottest tickets in town, was not only a VERY major Oscar chance at Best Actress for Dame Maggie Smith, but also for her supporting co-star, the other female member of the titular quartet of ex-Opera singers, Pauline Collins.

Collins dithers delightfully, and has alllll the audiences’ sympathy in the big, soon-to-be-infamous “Flower Scene” with Dame Maggie. I will say no more.It’s a massive spoiler. Once that scene happened I knew “Oscar Nomination for Pauline in Supporting.”

She’s been nominated before, too. For Best Actress, a number of years back, for “Shirley Valentine” and so she’s no stranger to Oscar.

A very solid supporting turn is done by Willliam H. Macy in “The Sessions” as a conflicted Catholic priest, who has to listen to all of the FOR SURE ROCK SOLID BEST ACTOR NOMINEE John Hawkes’ awkward sexual confesstions. It’s comic, but he’s very good (he always is) and I don’t think he’s even been nominated before. Shame, Academy, shame…Unless it was for “Fargo” many moons ago…

Jude Law in “Anna Karenina” is a shoo-in for a Supp. Actor nod, and maybe even a win, as his almost unrecognizable turn as Anna’s dull-as-paint husband Karenin. He shaved his hairline back and wears tiny little specatacles that transform his face entirely. And his performance as a stiff, repressed beaureaucrat ,who is boring  his wife Anna to tears, never bores the audience. No mean feat.

Then we have the always nominatable Phillp Seymour Hoffman, in what is really a lead, in “The Master.” The Venice Film Festival jury gave both Hoffmand and co-star Joaquin Phoenix a joint Best Actor Award.

Also finding herself in the Supporting category may be a surprised and always naked Helen Hunt, who thought she was playing a lead in “The Sessions.”Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone always points out how the Academy always awards female nudity and no one, believe me, NO ONE has ever shown so much of herself onscreen as Helen Hunt does as a sex “worker” in this terrific tearjerker about a man in an iron lung (Hawkes) who wants to finally experience sex before he dies. He does. And he does. And that’s the plot of “The Seesions.”

And from earlier in the year, before the essential TIFF-winnowing, we have both Dame Maggie Smith(yes, HER again) and her Downtown Abbey co-star Penelope Wilton in the box-office/senior citizen smash “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”both being giving campaigns from Fox Seachlight in Supporting. And so is Bill Nighy for that film.

Don’t know whether they’ve dropped Dwight Henry off their campaign roster for this excellent non-actor’s first ever performances as Qu’venzhane Wallis, dead beat dad in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

And last but not least, let’s not overlook Michael Pena’s fine, fine work in the police actioner “End of Watch.” He could be this year’s Demian Bechir.

I happened to watch the just-dropped “Lincoln” trailer today. Once, first, without sound, and then again tonight with it. And at first I thought all those early Oscar predictions of Tom O’Neil’s crew at “Gold Derby” nevermind “The Gurus o’ Gold”‘ were right on…then WITH the sound, everybody’s voices sounded WRONG. Esp. Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln! He looks great but sounds like a baseball player! Brad Pitt in “Moneyball!”

If it looks like they’re hiding DDL in the trailer, they ARE!

Let us not forget “War Horse” and the great trailer that promised so much….and then gave us…well, not that much.

Just like “Munich”! Spielberg’s next-to-last Oscar foray.

Uh-oh!

Snoring and pretentious and over-hyped. Here we go again!

I thought we just went through this last year!

Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger”

While we await with baited (Oscar bait-ed) breath to see who will win tonight at the DGA Awards out in LA-LA land, I’ve been catching up on a few DVDs that have been coming my way in the snail mail.

While I attended Woody Allen’s press conference at TIFF for “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger”( look it up back in Sept. ’10), I hadn’t seen the movie until just now.

The DVD is coming out soon, and if you’re a die-hard Woody fan, like I am, I guess, EVERY Woody Allen is a must-see. Even his not-so-good ones, like this.

I thought he sounded a tad desperate with that personal TIFF appearance, and I had heard that YWMATDS, was not one of his best. And everyone was right, but there is still SOMEthing about Woody, even at his worst, that grabs you in the end if you stay with it. The press conference was much more entertaining than this film.

No Scarlett Johansson in this one. And I sort of missed her. Again, it is set in London, and more than ever, it seems like he wishes he was shooting it in New York. You can almost hear him sigh with nostaligia…but all his financing is coming from Europe, so in Europe he stays. He’s shot one coming up in Paris, and another London romp, and also a return to Spain where he did seem inspried with the marvelous “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” that won Penelope Cruz her Oscar three years ago…

I don’t think Woody likes the British very much. He doesn’t really GET them, like he gets New Yawkers. He loves New York. He seems to miss it, and so this film’s characters are very superficially observed. And they all seem like neurotic New Yorkers ANYway.

Naomi Watts is Sally in the ScarJo role, I think. But a little older, a little wiser, and much more serious. In fact, this film is hardly funny at all. I barely laughed at all. But I did find myself LISTENING. This is his most serious film since “Interiors”, but I THINK he meant it to  be a comedy…

The title “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger” comes from what a Cockney fortune teller named Cristal (the always wonderful Pauline Collins) is constantly telling the hapless Helena, Gemma Jones, who is SORT OF the central character, or one of the main characters…A HUGE star in England, ever since she was a beautiful young blonde in the ’60s. Now, Gemma is IN her 60s and playing a daffy, tipsomaniac, an abandoned wife, who is seeking help from the beyond through this soothsayer, who is patently a phony, who mainly serves tea and biscuits and acts as a cheaper psycho-therapist to Jones.

Naomi Watts is her daughter, who is having marital problems, with her blocked novelist of an American husband, Rory, Josh Brolin. EVERY body is cheating on every body else here, per usual in Woody land.

Sir Anthony Hopkins as the desperately exercising ex-husband Alfie of the dumped Gemma Jones, and Naomi Watt’s father, begins by being very pale and wan,a milquetoast ghost of his former robust self, but Hopkins grows in power and force as the film progresses.

I really thought it was VERY bottom draw Woody, but even at that level, Woody grabs you, as you become more and more involved, first with Brolin’s desperate writer, then Hopkins’ desperate older exec. He, OF COURSE, chases after and ultimately bags a hooker, ANOTHER favorite Woody plot, who is decades younger than him, and totally his social inferior…And THEN he marries her…Judy Punch punches it up here as the hooker with a heart of lead.

And the press conference, Punch was there as was Hopkins, Brolin, Jones and Frieda Pinto, who is just sort of generally playing Brolin’s newest muse. Not much depth to this character.

And well, you see where this is going from here…

You can almost predict this film. It’s so by-the-numbers Woody, but then, he hits you with a confounding ending a la the Coen Brothers and suddenly…well, once again, you have to re-think your preceptions about Woody Allen. He DOES get you finally, even if he’s dealing from the bottom of his deck.

I guess I’d rather watch  any mediocre Woody movie than most the other films I, as a critic, am forced to watch throughout the year…Even grade C Woody is still something to see. I’m still a fan. After all these yeas and all these movies. He makes too many movies, and sometimes he seems to be just going through the motions, but…one does cherish those motions…

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