a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘race’

Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o Continues to Astonish in Searing “Eclipsed”

Eclipsed 1Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o continues to astonish us. “Eclipsed” a searing play by Danai Gurira is the strongest new play on Broadway right now, and Ms. Nyong’o is giving an absolutely astounding performance, as a character simply known as “Girl.”She enters from inside an overturned metal bath tub, pictured above ^ and if you are expecting to recognize her from her glamorous red carpet turns and from the Oscars, you won’t.Lupita Oscar ThreeThe audience I saw it with, didn’t. And I didn’t recognize her at all til half-way through the first act, so deeply is she submerged in her character, a 16 year-old refugee in the middle of the Liberian war who has been hiding in the bush. She finds some kind of solace in being hidden(and sleeping under) this suffocating iron tub from which she emerges drenched in sweat and fear.

The women who are sheltering her feel she will be raped, if found, and turned into another “wife” like they are. Really just sex slaves for the “C.O.” the commanding officer of the army, whom we never see. Except as a shadow. They all jump to attention and line-up when this large, dark shadow falls on them, and wait to be picked, for the night.

They have no names of their own only “Wife #1” or “Wife #3”. They can barely remember before the War which has raged on for 15 years, and have forgotten their real names their “mother gave them.”

It’s sort of the plot of “Eclipsed” that these women fight to save some kind of dignity and humanity that will allow them to remember who they once were as little girls in their mothers’ care. Before the civil war took everything from them.

They are now in sort of a bunker/hovel, but at least they are inside and not outside in “the bush” or jungle. “Eclipsed” is an astounding play, bringing us all into a world which we would expect to see perhaps onscreen. “Beasts of No Nation” springs to mind as an all male example of the ravages of  civil war in Africa, and how mere children are turned into boy-soldiers or in the case of “Eclipsed” girl soldiers.

I don’t know which is more frightening. They both are. And while there is no gratuitous violence  The audience is as trapped by Ms. Gurira’s gripping, horrifying play as the characters are in the hovel of their lives.

I cannot praise “Eclipsed” highly enough. Danai Gurira, whose work I have been following since her NYU Grad Acting days, both as a powerful actress and an equally powerful writer, here fulfills her promise with the masterpiece of “Eclipsed.” I thought “The Humans” was the Best New Play on Broadway this year, but it has now been eclipsed by”Eclipsed.”

And I expect the magnificent Lupita Nyong’O to blaze her way through even more awards this season. In the theater,this time. What she is called upon to do in this horrendous,difficult,powerful role of The Girl, is something so complex and dark, and at the same time innocent and, yes, even hopeful, that awards will be continued to be strewn at her like bouquets.Eclipsed 3

The rest of the five person, all female, all Black cast is remarkable, too. Pascale Armand,  Saycon Sengbloh, Zainab Jah and Akosua Busia. When have we ever seen an all African-American, all female final bow on Broadway?Eclipsed 2

When have we ever seen a multiplicity of roles for Black actresses like this? I’ll tell you when. Never. Once again, as she did with “12 Years a Slave”, Lupita Nyong’o continues to make racial, and in this case, theatrical history.

Oscar Thoughts ~More on the “Selma” Mess. They Should Have Waited.

Selma Poster 1I wrote the following in Awardsdaily.com’s comment section And I’m cutting and pasting(and polishing) it up here.

It makes me soooo angry, as it does Sasha Stone, the great writer and editor of http://www.awardsdaily.com

So here’s what I said (spelling and typos corrected) (I HOPE!) I get so angry about things like this. As does Sasha, as does everyone.

“The reason all this debacle that happened to “Selma” was that it wasn’t finished or “fixed” in its’ final edit til too late for screeners to be made, which evidently is a much longer and complicated process than people realize.

I  blame the producers for jumping the gun on this, an unfinished film, of tremendous import, culturally, racially, artistically.

But it missed it’s Oscar Nomination deadlines.

People in the guilds, for instance, are MIFFED when they don’t get sent their screeners. The Academy did get theirs and the DID nominate “Selma” for Best Picture. But if the producers had WAITED TIL NEXT YEAR(It’s already 2015), and released it THIS year coming up, they would I think would’ve won everything under the sun.

There are certain rules to play this game, and it is a game. It’s a business, and it’s a game. But if you have a great work of art, a great film like “Selma” you don’t RUSH IT INTO THE MARKETPLACE BEFORE IT’S TIME!!!!!!

This year is so great because you’ve got a film that was released in MARCH “The Grand Budapest Hotel” doing so well(9 nominations for a Wes Anderson film!)

If they had only waited on “Selma,”and treated it, with the respect and care it deserves, they would’ve gotten EVERYTHING under the Awards’ sun. Because it deserves everything.

And Oprah, you just jumped the shark with this one. So sad, so sad.

And I bet there’s a HUGE slate of diverse acting nominees NEXT year..

You can bet on it.

And one thing you can say for the Hollywood Foreign Press, they’re PRESS, so they see ALLLLLL the movies, all year-long. The Academy members don’t. But they all had PLENTY O’Time to see, “Grand Budapest Hotel.” And just FYI, the HFPA are as diverse as diverse can be. All 80 of them. They’re as diverse as the Academy is not. Clearly.

Maybe now they’ll stop the insane pattern releasing everything on Christmas Day nonsense. It’s counter-productive. Awards-wise, anyway. But then they don’t care about awards anyway. They just care about money. Paramount you REALLY messed up.

And Warner Bros. who are releasing “American Sniper” are laughing all the way to the bank.

 

Racists at New York Film Critics get a taste of their own medicine

There’s something about the esteemed New York Film Critics Circle that just breeds racists incidents, like the one that happened last night, or the night before when Black Director Steve McQueen was supposedly heckled by an African-American Film Critics Circle member, who was seated WAAAY in the back, but was nevertheless overheard as has been widely reported.

I read Scott Feinberg’s balanced analysis and reporting at http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com on this latest brouhaha over “12 Years a Slave”, the masterpiece out there that is causing as much of a ruckus as “Wolf of Wall Street.” In fact, this incident is so loaded that it’s pre-emptively absorbed all the controversy that has been hounding “Wolf”. So the discussion of the awards now surrounds this horrifying Incident, and the critic in question, whose name I’m withholding, just denied to Scott Feinberg, and maybe to others, that this ever happened.

Racial slurs and the F bomb were supposedly heard all hurled at Steve McQueen. Maybe they weren’t meant to be heard by all. I wasn’t there, so I’ll give the critic-in-trouble the benefit of the doubt, though thousands wouldn’t.

It’s a sad moment once again for the New York Film Critics Circle. They started off the season by showing their true WHITE colors, by voting for that sub-par semi-moronic comedy “American Hustle” Best Picture by a vote or two over the instant classic “12 Years a Slave.” They repeated this behavior in Best Actor where Chiwetel Ejiofor to “12 Years”lost to A VERY WHITE man, Robert Redford! Who last night bored everyone silly with his acceptance speech for Best Actor. You can see a horrendous video over at http://www.goldderby.com Tedious, self-serving, entitled, and you really wanted him to shut the front door.

But I digress.

The NYFCC also closed out Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’O of “12 Years a Slave”,choosing MORE WHITE PEOPLE like Jared Leto and Jennifer Lawrence as the their Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Lawrence had the good sense not to show up, and sent a funny note.

I knew, I just KNEW, that the NYFCC was going to reap the whirlwind for shutting out “12 Years a Slave” in every category, except Best Director. But then THIS incident that I referenced above ^ had to happen!

This isn’t over yet. Their credibility on this issue – race, has severely damaged their reputation as the leading critical group they once were.

And the last laugh of this, is that it’s made Steve McQueen MUCH more sympathetic in everyone’s eyes and is going to cause him to  get MORE votes and  win MORE awards, in a very tight race. Just you watch.

He was just nominated for the DGA Award today. REALLY an honor I have to say.

McQueen acted like he didn’t hear the F-bomb and the racial slurs. Class Act. He didn’t react or acknowledge it according to Feinberg.

Sometimes I think there is really something very dark behind the awards season, and this incident certainly illustrates that maybe indeed there is.

Video

CONGRATULATIONS MELONIE DIAZ! BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEE! INDIE SPIRIT AWARDS!

Congratulations to my charming talented guest Melonie Diaz for her first Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for “Fruitvale Station! And here I am, the Oscar Messenger, telling her this would happen! And she didn’t believe me!

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.

Oscar Index at Movieline Keeps the Quality(& Enjoyment) Level at 100%!

All season long, Oscar season, I mean, of COURSE, I look forward every Wednesday evening to Stu Van Airsdale’s erudite, witty analysis of the preceding weeks Oscar madness on his unfailingly fun Oscar Index at www.movieline.com  It’s ACCURATE, too. Even if he doesn’t agree with MY thoughts on The Race. But that’s OK, because he is always persuasive, showing me the error of my Oscar-y ways.

And yes, he’s right on the money again with the idea that it’s “The Artist” but also, “The Help” that is on everyone’s minds. Whether I like to admit it or not.

Me? Moi? You KNOW I love “The Artist” and its’ nominated stars. And I TOLD Jean Dujardin that he was going to win The Oscar and he laughed and smiled and CHARMED his way into the 38,000 (and counting) You Tube viewers who’s enjoyed me, the Oscar Messenger, giving Jean and Berenice Bejo and Michel Hazanaviscius the Oscar News here at ~ www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

I haven’t been able to top that highpoint yet all season, so I’m leaving it in the main frame. The two of them, Jean and Berenice were an utterly winning couple, just as they are in the film, and no, not in real life. The beautiful Berenice is married to Michel Hazanaviscius. So her real name is Berenice Hazanaviscius. Glad she kept the Bejo. And yes, she, too was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, as I foretold her she would be.

So, non, it’s not “The Artist” I have issues with I just love it to pieces. And so I agree with Stu V.A. who has “The Artist”, Jean, and Michel all in their number one slots in their respective categories. It’s that I just couldn’t wrap my head around all this “Help” love.

To give Oscars to African-American women for playing MAIDS, I just think is the highest form of racial ineptitude. I think  with a black President, it’s just downright insulting, but Stu V.A. has had Octavia Spencer in his #1 position as Best Supporting Actress all season long. And I just couldn’t buy it. But now with Spencer’s wins at the BFCA, the Globes AND SAG, she seems almost a DONE deal.

I just don’t think she was THAT good in the movie. That it was not an “Academy performance” but evidently everybody except Kris Tapley, disagrees with me.

I mean, give the “Help” ONE SAG award, but not ALL THREE!!! However, that’s what’s going down.

And Viola Davis, who IS a great actress, certainly gives great speeches, too. And if there ever was one single article that may win an actress a Best Actress Oscar, it’s the poetic, persuasive, insightful, almost panegyric piece that Mark Harris just wrote in www.grantland.com this week, in his Oscarmetric section.

Viola Davis should thank HIM, because he makes the case that there was no SUBTEXT in this year’s Oscar race and that “The Help” and especially, the performance of Viola Davis COUPLED with her great speechs have created a narrative that the Academy, guilt-ridden white people all, may just indeed buy.

And it’s NOT a great picture. It’s good, at best. And yes, “The Artist” is much better…

But TWO Best Actress (lead and supporting) wins for “The Help”??? I was not convinced, but now I’m beginning to think so.

Though I still hope Michelle Williams upsets this at the BAFTAs….

Viola Davis is a great actress and she deserves all the acclaim she’s getting. But I still think it’s a Supporting performance and that Michelle Williams is better in a more difficult role in a better movie.

We’ll see what the BAFTAS have to say…

P.S. I turned on my television set this AM and who should be onscreen at “The View” but Viola Davis!!?! I thought I was seeing things. I think she’s been on “The View” AT LEAST three times previously this season! Or maybe FOUR! Somebody’s pushing this to the max. That would be Disney/Dreamworks. Also means they are REALLY sweating Harvey Weinstein’s campaigns for Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams for “My Week with Marilyn.”

Does this mean V. Davis is being OVER-exposed? And god forbid, pushy? I am the first to say that she’s a great American actress and deserves her time in the sun, and she certainly seemed to be enjoying it. What did she have to say? Well, I just caught my major role model Barbara Walters saying “It’s always great to have you here on the ‘The View’, Viola.” And then they signed out!

I think this cuts both ways. It’s good to keep her in the public(and the Academy’s) eye. And yes, I’m sure they watch “The View” or at least the female members do. Which means that Disney/Dreamworks is targeting the female Academy voters. Of whom, as you all know, there aren’t very many! So they are fighting over the Streep-aged demographic. But this shows they are really sweating a Streep win? But who are THE MEN, the bulk of the Academy membership voting for?? That’s what I’d like to know. And again, my guess is the beauteous Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. The Babe Factor still rules Hollywood, I’m so sure. Will the Academy’s left-y social conscience trump the Beautiful Young Nude Girl syndrome. We shall see.

Only the Actor’s Branch overlaps with the SAGS. And that by not much. It’s two different groups of people. SAG and AMPAS. One is female-filled. That would be SAG and one is male dominated and that would be AMPAS.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: