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Posts tagged ‘Rooney Mara’

BAFTA Backlash ~ Alicia Vikander v.Kate Winslet

Alicia 9The most shocking upset of the BAFTA night was Alicia Vikander losing Best Supporting Actress to Kate Winslet! Of all people! It was thought that Alicia’s main competition was Rooney Mara in “Carol”, but lo and behold, it’s turning out to be Kate Winslet for playing what amounts to a Slavic doormat-to-end-all-doormats from the flop “Steve Jobs.” Her role was based on a real person,  Joanna Hoffman, marketing executive for Apple and NeXT and Jobs’ confidant in the film. It’s one of those ugly-up roles that actors and actresses use to show their range, as the wonderful Winslet certainly did in this awful film.

Winslet has now won TWO major awards for this slovenly lady. A Golden Globe and now a BAFTA. So her Oscar chances must now be taken seriously. Or do they?
Kate Winslet steve jobs 3It is interesting as I noted yesterday that both these awards for Winslet were from foreign press and industry, the Golden Globes and now the BAFTAs. And she was playing a Polish woman succeeding in America, a woman who was known as the only one who could stand up to Steve Jobs.

However in neither of those awards races was she up against Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.” In both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA, Vikander was competing in the leading actress race. And Vikander’s role as the long-suffering painter wife of a man Einer Vegener, who was going through a sex change, was in the lead in those races.

Vikander WON over Winslet at the SAG awards, when they were both in the Supporting Actress category and again at the Broadcast Film Critics. Both those wins were for “The Danish Girl” in Supporting Actress as she is nominated at the Oscars. As is Winslet for “Steve Jobs.”

At the BAFTAs last night, Winslet was competing with Alicia in Supporting, but it was for Alicia’s role as the Eva the robot in “Ex Machina.”

“Ex Machina” won nothing last night at the BAFTAs. Neither did “Carol.” Nothing. Nada. Zip.

As happy as I am to watch Winslet career trajectory move heavily forward as she progresses in age, I do have to point out that she has already WON an Oscar. For “The Reader, ” in which she was brilliant, and again doing a German accent. Her German accent was better than her Polish, which kept slipping in “Steve Jobs.”

It’s also interesting to note that both Winslet and Vikander were playing parts that are based on real people, something Oscar always loves, and Rooney Mara was playing a fictional character from the Patricia Highsmith lesbian love story, the ’50s  novel “The Price of Salt” on which “Carol” is based.

So don’t worry, Dear Readers, Dear Cineastes, my conclusion is this. As she did at SAG and the BCFCA, Alicia Vikander will win her first Oscar for her shattering portrayal in “The Danish Girl.”, in the Supporting Actress category, whether she’s a lead or not.

More on the Preferential Ballot, shortly.

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And now, here come the BAFTAS! What will they tell us?

BAFTAS 2016 1And now, this Sunday night in London, here comes what I feel is the most predictive awards show of all the BAFTAs. The British Oscars. And what do they have to do with OUR own Oscars, coming up on Feb.28? Well, I think they are the most influential accolade of all. Especially in the Acting Races. Where, if there’s a five way, undecided sort-of year, which this isn’t really, in the Acting Awards, they can tip the scales in one actor’s or actress’s favor.

As they did famously in the year that Tilda Swinton won for “Michael Clayton”, surprising many, but not me. Tilda won the BAFTA then she went right on to win her first Oscar. Interesting piece of Oscar trivia, Tilda, who could just not bear to have all these awards around her house, gave her British Oscar, her BAFTA to her British agent and her American Oscar to her American agent Brian Swardstrom. I bet they were glad to get them. NOTHING like that ever happens to actors’ agents, No wonder Tilda has never stopped working since!

You win the Oscar and you never stop working, so the story goes…True or not, it’s a nice thing to look forward to. For a moment. Tilda Swinton Oscar 2That year marked another BAFTA/Oscar milestone when the unknown French actress Marion Cotillard who was playing Edith Piaf to beat the band in “La Vie En Rose” went on to trounce Brit Julie Christie for Best Actress.Marion Oscar 1Mlle. Marion was acting in her own language, you see, and it was considered IMPOSSIBLE for a foreign actress to win. But I knew she would, her perfomance as Edith Piaf at all different ages was so incredible.

And so did Daniel Day-Lewis, who got up and made a speech when he won  at the BAFTAs extolling Marion’s superlative performance. He  won the BAFTA that year, too,  for “There Will Be Blood.”. People, or rather Oscar voters, listened. I think the word he used was” transcendant.”

And this year? Well it seems almost all the Acting categories are locked. But wait a tic! There could be surprises. Leonardo Di Caprio in “The Revenant” has been winning EVERYTHING in sight this year and could win the Oscar. But will he win the BAFTA for Best Actor?Danish Eddie 1

Don’t be surprised, Leo, if BAFTA does what it usually does and award a deserving, beloved Brit, Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.” And also watch out Brie Larson! She, who likewise is winning everything imaginable for “Room”.At BAFTA, she’s up against the It Girl of the Hour, Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl” who is  up for Best Actress. Whereas at the Oscars, Alicia’s up for Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.” Her role as Gerde Vegener, who is a Danish painter married to a man who is going through the first known transgender transition is indelible, powerful.

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Alicia could win the Best Actress BAFTA  as “The Danish Girl” is a British Film and also Alicia, though Swedish, speaks English with a British accent. OR it could be Saoirse Ronan, who is Irish as Irish can be in “Brooklyn” an Irish film. And Brie Larson’s “Room” isn’t as popular over there as it has been here. It only has only other nomination Best Adapted Screenplay.Danish Girl Duo

And the astonishing Alicia Vikander is having such a big year, that she’s nominated also in BAFTA in Supporting Actress for “Ex Machina.” Yes, Alicia winning either of these awards, would almost certainly assure her an Oscar win over Rooney Mara, the girl who wasn’t there, in “Carol”, her nearest competitor for Supporting Actress at the Oscars. Rooney is running as a Supporting Actress at BAFTA, as she is at the Oscars, but this time, she’s up against Alicia as the sexiest robot of all time in “Ex Machina.”  Could Rooney win here and split the Vikander vote? “Carol” got a slew of nominations here, including Best Picture, although it didn’t in the US.Alicia Vikander 3Alicia could win in both categories. That’s right! She could win TWO BAFTAs! OR of course, she could lose twice, too.Roonwy MARA 2

As far as Best Supporting Actor at BAFTA, it will most likely go to one of the nominated Brits. Idris Elba, yeah, him again, for “Beasts of No Nation,” I think he has this over fellow Brit and UK stage legend Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies.” He hasn’t been campaigning and has even skipped the BFCC and the SAG. Christian Bale is British, too, although he hardly ever mentions it. And he’s nominated for “The Big Short.” Watch this early-announced award. Who it goes to will tell us pretty clearly what will win Best Picture.Christian Bale 1

,And finally there’s the Best Picture race itself which pits people think “Spotlight” v. “The Revenant” v. “The Big Short”. And many, including myself, think that whatever film wins Best Film here could also go on to win the Oscar, too. Although wait another tic! Last year, the Brits picked “Boyhood” and Richard Linklater, and not “Birdman” and Alexander Gonzalez Inarittu who won the Oscars.

So there is a divide. What do I think is going to win Best Picture? Bet on the Brits voting for Brits, which could lead to “Carol” or “The Bridge of Spies”  being a surprise win here, although “Spotlight” set in Boston and involving Irish Catholic pedophile priests might be something they could relate to over the Wall St. story “The Big Short” or the Western “The Revenant”. Have the EVER given a BAFTA  to a Western? I think not. (more…)

Oscars ~ Where Are We Now?

OscarsWith so much controversy flying every which way this year, where exactly are we? Well, the safest best bet is to watch for the Producers Guild to announce their winner this weekend. And I’m guessing it will be “Spotlight.” Low wattage, reserved, and quietly, subtlely powerful as it is, its’ distinction, like “12 Years a Slave”s before it, can’t be denied.

They’re sweeping changes a foot. Everybody is discussing Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ VERY controversial announcement in a form of a press release. I’ll leave it to others who have more time than I do, busy Oscarologist that I am at this time of year, to parse just what all this means. But suffice it to say, for this year, it means NOTHING!

The Oscars 2016 will roll along exactly as they were previous to this two years of #Oscarssowhite maelstrom. Nothing at all is going to change any time soon.

But if it WERE to effect this year’s race, you might see Idris Elba win a deserved supporting actor trophy two weeks from Sunday for “Beasts of No Nation.” I hope he does. This is for a SAG award, which they call, “The Actor”, NOT the Oscar. Beasts

It really riles me that he was excluded and seemingly replaced by Sylvester Stallone, whose performance in “Creed” is nothing but a stream of unintelligible shrugs and mumbles. Stallone is not nominated for the SAG award. The Actors of SAG did the right thing in nominating Elba. So if you want to look for who to blame for this #Oscarssowhite trouble, look below the line. Anne Thompson’s infamous “steakeaters.”

It seems pre-ordained now that Leonardo Di Caprio is going to win Best Actor for the revolting “Revenant.” But if he DOESN’T win the SAG Award for Best Actor two weeks from Sunday and it’s Bryan Cranston, or even Eddie Redmayne, LOOK OUT! Things are not as clear in the blogospheres’ crystal balls as they seem to be.

Brie Larson, a relative unknown, is about to be crowned Oscar’s new Queen,and deservedly so, for “Room.” Brie golden Globe 1Such a powerful, complex, intelligent performance by an actress we almost never see on screen.. Operating against her is “Room”s teeny, tiny distributor A24, who has never been THIS near an Oscar campaign for a  performance before.Alicia

And Alicia Vikander seems to be rising and rising. She SEEMS to have the momentum in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” even though it’s hardly a supporting performance at all. Again the SAGS will tell the tale and also the BAFTAs. She’s also in film after film after film. All big studios. And that means Hollywood already has a steak(stake?) in her future. Her moving, eloquent speech at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on Sunday helped her immensely too. She was instantly unforgettable.

What happened to “Carol”? That’s the 64 Dollar question. *sigh* I guess it just wasn’t good enough. And WHY wasn’t it good enough? I’d say it was the Big Zero of a performance at its’ center from Rooney Mara. Don’t get me wrong. I liked her playing the bisexual Lisbeth Salander in “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” which I’ve seen multiple times, liking her more and more each time. But she was a void at the center Carol 3of”Carol” to me. It was like Cate Blanchett was acting all by herself in that film.

Whereas in “The Danish Girl” Alicia Vikander is VERY much present in her interactions, her love of her husband, even as he turns into a woman, even encouraging him as painful as it is for her, in his transition. And she’s playing a real woman, artist Gerde Wegener. , Whereas Mara is playing fictional character who is a blank, at best. Therese Belivet, the character’s name is intriguing, but the part and the performance were not. I’ve known a lot of lesbians in my gay life, and one thing they are not, is boring. “Carol” was boring.

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There’s Something Missing from “Carol” & I Think It’s Rooney Mara

Carol Blanchett 1I was disappointed in my response to “Carol” the highly touted lesbian love story derived from one of my favorite lesbian authors Patricia Highsmith. I felt not swept away by the film as a whole, which I should’ve been. Being out and gay myself all my life, THIS seemed to be a movie meant for me, it’s target audience.

But yet…

It didn’t play at Toronto, which tipped me off that something was up.And the Weinstein Co. kept me, a major Oscarologist, away from this Oscar-seeking film.

Rooney Mara won Best Actress at Cannes.

Something was obviously wrong.

What was missing? I think it was Rooney Mara’s performance. Playing a young, innocent (?)”from another planet” as Carol describes her, she seems cold, asexual. The Sapphic sensibility is just not there.The film was directed by a man. Maybe that’s the problem.

sarah Paulson

But it IS there in the performance of Sarah Paulson (ab0ve) as Carol’s ex-lover. You get an astounding sense of past history and love lost between the two women, that you never get from Cate the Great and Mara.

And Cate IS great in this movie! She’s just magnificence personified. 1950s movie star to the max, she seems to just REEK of sexuality and sensuousness and glamour. It is a stunning performance, maybe Blanchett’s best. She just floored me.

And Rooney Mara just well, didn’t.

The great Ed Lachmann’s amazing cinematography swept me away, in a way the Mara’s Therese Belivant, didn’t. Filmed in, of all things, 16 mm. and in CINCINATTI(!) the period style is exactly right down to the tiniest detail, and Blanchett’s costumes by the great Sandy Powell, and  her golden, perfectly coiffed hair and  make-up are swoon-worthy. She just radiates a heat that makes men AND women fall in love with her. She’s beyond brilliant in this film.

And she’s the one in dire trouble. She’s married, you see, and it’s 1952 and her husband wants to take her beloved little daughter away from her because she’s “abnormal.” So that part of the film is totally believable and fine. And disturbing. And true.

But don’t get me wrong. I loved Rooney Mara before. She was very exciting in both “Social Network” and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” for which she rightly garnered an Oscar nomination.

So I was rooting for Rooney, and god knows, I was rooting for “Carol” to be a lesbian “Brokeback Mountain.” But it isn’t. And I’m not a gay woman so perhaps I can’t say that. But I am.

Expectations were so high for this film, and the raves out of Cannes where so great, I guess I was bound to be disappointed. A “Brokeback Mountain,” it’s not. “Carol” is just strangely hollow. Cate is great, the cinematograpy, set design and costumes are off the charts. But the LOVE is missing.They have no heat, no chemistry.

It’s not even gay, particularly, except when the superb Sarah Paulson shows up. SHE should get nominated for Best Supporting Actress. THERE I’ve said it.

But the Tom Toms are beating for Rooney, and probably both she and Blanchett will end up in the Best Actress races that are upon us.

Cate Blanchett is just a genius of an actress.

But Rooney Mara is well, just OK. And in something as sumptuous and important a gay film, as “Carol”, well, she should-be better.

The picture at the top of this article says it all, I think.(see above} Cate as Carol is front and center and Rooney Mara, well, we see the back of her head. Which in “Carol” is as expressive as the front of her head.

Oscar Mystery ~ Why Isn’t “Carol” at TIFF?

Oscar questions answered and unanswered at TIFF. Like why isn’t the Cannes lesbian sensation “Carol” playing TIFF? It’s conspicuous by its’Cate Carol 1 absence, seems to me. A natural fit for TIFF, you’d THINK. But no “Carol” here. It’ll be seen next month at the NYFF, but not here. Are they, the savvy Weinstein Co., hiding it? There are over 1000 journalists at TIFF. And Oscar hopefuls “The Danish Girl” and “Brooklyn” and “Black Mass” are all playing here. But no “Carol”…. And “Carol” which WILL show up at the NYFF is not in the coveted Opening Night or Closing Night or Centrepiece slots.

Is what seemed a sure-fire Oscar front-runner now suffering Awards fatigue already? Me, I’m DYING to see it.

And there’s the sticky situation of “Carol” having TWO leading ladies. Two time Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett in the title role, and Rooney Mara. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is now the girl with a Cannes award for Best Actress. And the Weinsteins are campaigning Cate Blanchett for Leading Actress and putting Rooney Mara, who is said to have the larger and better part(and the Best Actress Cannes award) is being put in Supporting.

I wonder what they Academy will think of that distinction? They may do a “Kate Winslet” and put Rooney AND Cate in lead. Where they could possibly cancel each other out? As many have done before, unfortunately.

But there’s no question that the Weinstein Co. is low-balling Cannes favourite “Carol.” Something’s up.

OR something’s not up. With “Carol.” Hmmmm……

Oscars on the Horizon,Rooney & Cate, “Carol” & Cannes

Rooney & Cate 1So a few days ago, I posited that Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara would split the Best Actress Award at Cannes. That didn’t happen. Rooney won and split it with an obscure French actress that no one has ever heard of (nor probably will again), but Cate the great got nothing! Well, nothing but career-best reviews, as the title role and heroine of Todd Haynes’ lesbian love story “Carol.”

Based on the late Patricia Highsmith’s story “The Price of Salt”, it is set in the 1950’s and according to all reports magnificently photographed by Haynes’ great cinematographer Ed Lachman.

Cate can NOT and WILL not be ignored by the Academy if you want to know. Both she and Rooney Mara WILL be nominated for what evidently is being considered a tour-de-force by all and sundry.

But who will go in which category? And does it really matter? Especially at this (very) early point in the Oscar race? I’m assuming “Carol” will go the tried and true Festival route.  Telluride in August, Toronto in Sept. with New York’s Film Fest immediately following.

And who’s deciding all this? Why its’ legendary Oscar Whisperer Producer Harvey Weinstein that’s who. And he’s slated the opening for Dec.18. So “Carol” and Cate and Rooney and Harvey, too, have a long row to hoe before “Carol” opens, and as we all know, some Cannes’ favorites can run out of steam by the time the actual Oscars role around. Witness last year’s “Foxcatcher” barely making it to the Big Night and coming up with No Wins.

Guessing I would say that Rooney will be in the Supporting category and she could very well win there. Even if she is a co-lead with Cate.

Witness Patricia Arquette’s co-lead(she was the Mom) in “Boyhood” and won in Supporting though she could’ve been campaigned in lead. But her immediate switch to Supporting got her the gold, though the film won nothing else.

I think the same will be true for Rooney Mara in “Carol.” Harvey is NOT putting Cate Blanchett in the Supporting category if he ever wants to work with her again. Blanchett I don’t think would stand for it. And neither would Academy voters.

And what does the Cannes Best Actress Award and the Oscars have to do with each other anyway? Well, last year Julianne Moore won for “Maps to the Stars” in Cannes, but on Oscar night it was in “Still Alice” that gave Moore the gold, finally, after four tries.

Cate has two Oscars, Rooney has none, and the Academy is Rooney-friendly, nominating her for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” a few years back.

And Harvey, as usual, has another Best Actress contender in the 19-year-old Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn”, also coming up this fall. And putting all three Weinstein women in Best Actress would be a big much of a much-ness. Wouldn’t it?

“Wallander 3” World-Weary & Wonderful on MHz

I have to confess that I am coming late to the Wallander party. Wallander, the character, the novels, the many, many TV films in Swedish and also in BBC English with Kenneth Branagh, no less, is more than a cottage industry. It’s pretty much a world-wide phenomenon.  After the early, tragic death of Swedish author Steig Larsson of the Millennium Trilogy, another Swedish crime novel author has emerged on the Swedish crime stage and  has survived and thrived to 66 . He is Henning Mankell and he has written a mountainous number of books, on Wallander and many other topics,  and is more than taking his place, in Sweden and in the world.

The super-quaint,  little medieval town of Ystaad, where Wallander is set and shot, has become a tourist destination! And Kurt Wallander, his world-weary, potato-like, sad sack of a Swedish detective, is underplayed in this series quite brilliantly by Krister Hendrickson,  and is almost as famous as a Swedish fictional character as Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” anti-heroine to end all anti-heroines.

Wallander (pronouced Val’-en-da) couldn’t be more different. He’s so every day, so every man, so ordinary, he’s almost invisible. But he has also taken hold of the world’s imagination, and its’ thirst for all things Swedish. That gloomy morose desire to suffer in the cold and ice was mightily filled in his lifetime by legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

To my dismay, the younger generation does not take to Bergman or even know his work. If they know anything of Swedish note today, besides Ikea, it is Lisbeth Salander, and the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” And also, right behind her is Kurt Wallander.

Larson was said to have devoured Swedish crime novels and one of the authors he was most influenced by was the prolific Henning Mankell. Who wrote more Wallander books and many other books, than Larsson ever did in his brief life-time.

Larsson, and the “Girl’ movies and books have whetted the public’s appetite seemingly for Swedish noir crime. In fact, I was shocked when I went to the main library in Manhattan and found out the nothing of Wallander, DVD, film or novel was in. All were checked out, but one, which I hungrily grabbed.

The female librarian said to me “Wallander is VERY popular.” The Vox Populi! The people have spoken.

In Mankell’s “The Man Who Laughed,” there is this passage that jumped out at me.

A solitary man, presumably Wallander himself, is driving down a lonely Swedish road at night, and feels a bump. He has hit a rabbit.

“He stopped and got out. The hare was lying on the road, its’ back legs kicking. But its’ eyes stared at him….He had never forgotten those eyes and the wildly kicking legs. The memory kept coming back again and again , usually at the most unexpected times…”

That’s a very good metaphor indeed. With a kind of awful poetry that Steig Larsson’s “just the facts” Milleninum writings eschews.

I think it’s this richness of the source material, Mankell’s writing, that lifts Wallander out of the realm of the ordinary procedural, though police crime drama is what it is.

The Swedish TV series, now available in the US on MHz DVDS,  is produced by the same company that produced the “Dragon Tattoo” movies. And it shows. Those films and the Wallander TV series echo each other, not just in their topics, human trafficking, arson, pedophilia, and of course, drugs, but in their doomy Swedish atmospheres.

Wallander is the essence of the plodding policeman, who doesn’t always get it write, in the opening episode, he gets so drunk, he leaves his police gun at a bar, and is suspended, until the Ystad police find out they can’t solve a crime without him.

The terrific Krister Hendrickson makes him so endearing a chap, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. Especially not Kenneth ham-is-my-middle-name Branagh. But we’ll see.

And sometimes this season hits it right out of the ballpark in terms of impact. One episode “The Arsonist” particularly got to me. So well done and well acted and well shot by all parties. It was gripping and the ending chilling. Bravo to Episode 5! Wallander’s pen-ultimate case.

And you better enjoy Hendrickson’s Wallander while you can, because in the last episode,  #6 in this series, “A Troubled Man,” he gets Alzheimer’s. What American series would risk that? The central figure losing it to a disease that no one ever seems to suffer from on American series television. Hendrickson becomes increasingly forgetful and lost. He gets suspended (Again!) by the Ystaad crime unit.

His daughter, Linda, a cop herself, and also a devoted mother, with a small daughter who Wallander dotes on, is marvelously played with degrees and shadings of sympathy and strength and frustrated horror by Carlotta Johnson, as she begins to notice that Kurt, her father, is getting absent-minded and gradually slipping away.

As early as episode one, “The Troubled Man”(like for instance the forgetting the gun in the bar) and culminates with him wandering the streets of picturesque small town Ystaad with his shoes untied, not knowing where he is, in “The Man Who Wept,” who is ironically is the melancholy Wallander himself. And yes, in a climatic moment, Wallander cries. The series has built so carefully to this, it’s shattering.

Shakespeare  explored this same disease in “King Lear,” which I found myself seeing right in the middle of my Wallander binge-watching.

Dementia has always been with us as a disease and a topic and continues to be the unnerving presence that turns into an absence as we watch the sun sadly set on Kurt Wallender.

Don’t miss this Swedish series! You’ll find it hard to forget, and you’ll be hooked on all of Henning Mankell’s work, too! Just like Steig Larsson was, and half the world it seems is!

 

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