a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

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Oscar Maxims of Harvey Weinstein, Advice Taken and Not Taken

How dull would the Awards season be, that is now going full-throttle, well, at least the publicists are, during the holidays this year( more like Holidaze) because of the ridiculously truncated Oscar nomination voting period? How dull would it be withOUT OscarMeister Harvey Weinstein to continually spice things up?

Harvey has a couple of Oscar rules, I’ve gleaned over the years, more like Maxims, really. Words to the wise (if anyone’s really listening, and I know the Oscar strategists are, AND Scott Feinberg (*waves* to Scott) 1) The picture that is seen LAST has the most impact. And 2) Only one nominee(from the Weinstein Co.) in each category.

He certainly seems to have applied Maxim 1) to “Django Unchained” opening as it did strangely on Christmas Day, but the box-office and critical accolades seem to bear out Harvey’s wisdom in this case. I beg to differ on this one, but the Golden Globes nominated it all over the place. Though the SAGs did not get their screeners for “Django” in time, it is said. So no SAG nominations.

Started reading Liz Smith’s “diary” i.e., blog, i.e., column in the http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com and she says about the Hollywood Foreign Press something to the effect that “Who are these people? Nobody you’d ever know, except that once a year the come together to get everyone’s attention.”(I’m paraphrasing) i.e. the Golden Globe Awards.

And Harvey plays the HFPA like a symphony. So, of COURSE, they are going to award his “Django” with a Best Picture, Best Director(Quentin Tarantino), and two Best Supporting Actor noms(Christophe Waltz AND Leonardo DiCaprio). Leo and Christophe may cancel each other out. And THEN who would win? Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”? Jones does seem ahead at the moment. His main competition, “The Master”s Phillip Seymour Hoffman is slipping every day. And NOT because of Hoffman’s stupendous performance. And “The Master” is ALSO a Harvey film. So he has THREE in this category! Which probably means that Jones does get it, because the THREE Weinsteins, may be just way too many nominees.

But right there in this past paragraph you can see that Harvey just contradicted himself big time. So while Maxim1 worked for “Django” with the Globes and at the Box-Office, Maxim 2 got him THREE nominees in the SAME category, something he  always says he wants to avoid. Some may call it an embarassment of riches, but Leo and Waltz and Hoffman could cancel each other out.

It seems HIGHLY unlikely to me that the Academy is going to embrace “Django” on any level. It’s just toooo bloody. One of the most violent films I’ve ever seen in the Oscar race. AND director Quentin Tarantno isn’t due.

The Golden Globes are really not a good indicator of anything anymore, except trouble. THEY are the main reasons for this shortened voting period. AMPAS wants to get the Oscar nominations out FIRST, BEFORE the Golden Globes are held. Which they will be doing, effectively trumping the GGs from having ANY influence on the Oscar nominations themselves, which are announced on Tues. Jan.10 this year. Sooooo early. The earliest ever. And making voters jam all their holidaze with viewing screeners.

There is said to have been more Oscar-oriented parties in L.A. this year than ever. I don’t know. I’m not there. I’m only reporting. In New York, it’s been more or less status quo, as far as that’s concerned, as far as I can see.

But this shortened voting period means the over-burdened Oscar voters have LESS time to see everything they have to see. So what do they do? They choose to see The BIG Must-Sees like probably “Les Miserables”, “Lincoln”, “Argo”, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Life of Pi” and maybe even “Django” too. Others, like the suddenly on the cusp(and yes, it’s a Harvey film, too) “Silver Linings Playbook” and on down the line-up, may get seen less. Simply because there’s less time.

And speaking of “Silver Linings Playbook” I think it will win Jennifer Lawrence Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for the Globes. But in the Best Director category, SLP’s director David O. Russell got knocked out by – wait for it! Quentin Tarantino!!! So yes, that Maxim #2 really is something to go by.

Will O. Russell get Oscar nominated, like he was just a couple of years back for “The Fighter”?

I’m thinking not. And we don’t have any DGAs to guide us, as in previous years, because yes, they, too, won’t announce their five ALL IMPORTANT nominees til, yes, that’s right, AFTER the Oscar nominations are announced on the 10th.

Speaking of the 10th. if I were in L.A. and covering the nominations, they occur there at 5:30AM( here, EST, it’s at 8:30AM on the morning news shows) then THAT NIGHT there are the BFCA, the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards which are USUALLY the most predictive of the Oscar race. That is ONE long day for all the nominees and everyone else involved. Phew!

SAG Nominations Shock! Nicole Kidman IN, Ann Dowd Out!

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, so shocked this morning and saddened with the announcement of the SAG nominations! The supposedly venerable Screen Actors’ Guild chose to nominate Nicole Kidman in her rather dirty and low down turn as a Southern-Fried bimbo, in the worse than worst “The Paperboy.” Instead of the great Ann Dowd for “Compliance”!

This, after Time Magazine said, “The Dowd vote is the cool vote” in this week’s Oscar projections!

Nicole Kidman is many things, but cool, right now, is like not one of them. She performs a umnentionable and disgusting act upon Zac Efron, and it’s something that the Academy in all its’ snobbish glory will NOT reward. A similar unbelievably gross moment occurred with Michael Fassbender faced upstage and let it, er, flow. I KNOW that’s what knocked him out of Oscar contention, which shocked many, but not ME! Nicole will follow down that, er, drain.

The SAGs are really getting knocked around this morning with all the media outlets leading with Nicole Kidman and “The Paperboy” story.  It’s everywhere. I don’t think the Academy will follow suit. And Nicole SHAME ON YOU, AN ACADEMY AWARD WINNER doing something like this! That movie was bad enough, but you’ll never live that unmentionable act down. Way to ruin a career, girl.

Also IN was Dame Maggie Smith for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in Supporting. Rounding out that category were the expecteds ~ Anne Hathaway in “Les Mis”, Helen Hunt in “The Sessions” and Sally Field in “Lincoln.” Of the four ladies nominated, Smith(2 Oscars), Hunt(One), Field, (two Oscars) and Kidman(One). Only Anne Hathaway does not have an Oscar yet. But she probably will soon.

“Les Miserables”, “Lincoln’. “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Argo” were all chosen as Best Ensemble, which is SAGs way of saying “Best Picture.”

They are NOT wildly accurate Oscar predictors. Esp. not last year when Best Ensemble went to “The Help” and Best Actress for Viola Davis.

They were WAAAAAY off. But they do indicate trends.

Like the absence of “Life of Pi” and also “Zero Dark Thirty” is significant, I think. So that means that “Les Miz”, “Lincoln”, “Argo” and “Silver Linings Playbook” (say THAT fast, three times!) are really the presumptive and eventual Best Picture winners.”Best Exotic…” may very well be nominated for Best Picture, too. But it won’t get Best Director. BTW, there are no Best Director awards from SAG. It’s the Screen ACTORS Guild and as far as Actors are concerned…well, this is one night that’s THEIRS and they get to leave the directors home.

While both NY critics groups, the NYFCC and the NBR went with “Zero Dark Thirty” and the LA Film Critics went with “Amour” NEITHER of these films cracked the top five and ZDT had only one mention Jessica Chastain as Best Actress.

And as I predicted there was also no Emmanuelle Riva nomination for “Amour” and Qu’venshane Wallis was deemed ineligible as was Dwight Henry for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. So Best Actress included Chastain, supposedly front-runner Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”, Helen Mirren for “Hitchcock”(YAY!) and Naomi Watts for “The Impossible” a tsunami movie where she has virtually no dialogue and just grunts and groans and screams for the whole movie. And my lovely Marion Cotillard got in for ANOTHER French language film of “Rust and Bone” and Marion, bonne pour vous!

Bradley Cooper surprised me by landing a Best Actor nomination for SLP, knocking Joaquim Phoenix out of the mix, as I well thought he would be. People haven’t forgotten those remarks he made. As well they shouldn’t. And Sir Anthony Hopkins, who also dissed the Awards Circuit as “disgusting” was also notably left out for “Hitchcock” though Dame Helen Mirren got in. YAY!

I’m reading Steve Rebello’s excellent account of “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Pysho'” right now. It’s a real page turner! Love it! Sooo glad for Dame Helen.

The rest of the Best Actor category contained Daniel Day Lewis for “Lincoln”, Denzel Washington for “Flight”, Jon Hawkes for “The Sessions” and the magnificent Hugh Jackman for the magnificent “Les Miserables.”

No Supp. Actor nominees from “Les Miz” but they were Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the ONLY nominee for “The Master”, Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln”, Alan Arkin for “Argo”, Robert De Niro for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Javier Bardem for “Skyfall” ALLLLL of whom already HAVE at least one Oscar(DeNiro has two). I don’t think there’s ever been a playing field with ONLY previous winners. If Eddie Redmayne knocks out Bardem, Redmayne is soooo stunning in “Les Miz”, then he’d be the newbie but as it stands, it’s all oldies but goodies in this category.

Left out completely were end of year openers “Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit”. Either their late openings did them in or they just simply weren’t liked.

 

“Oscar Race” EW Cover w/Clooney & Viola Davis. Controversial? Accurate? Embarrassing?

I really wonder if the venerable Entertainment Weekly has jumped the shark this week with its’ “Inside the Oscar Race” cover prematurely, I think, showing George Clooney in a tux (nothing new), but at his side,, resplendent in a white ball gown, is Viola Davis! THIS is new! And the cover states “Front-runners George Clooney (The Descendants) and Viola Davis (The Help).” WHAT???

I thought Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams were the two heavyweights for Best Actress! But the usually reliable Oscar God David Karger is plunking his two cents down (and EW is presumably totally backing these choices), and inside we see V.D. depicted holding what looks like an award, or a Golden Globe, or SOMEthing, when on closer look it is seen to be a hand mirror. A bejeweled one, but a HAND MIRROR!

This is the kind of thing that INFURIATES Academy Voters, who are voting or rather nominating, right now as you read this. Many of them perhaps have not even sent their ballots in yet or filled them out, and here is EW acting like IT’S ALL OVER! BAD MOVE, EW!

I would be OK with this if it was a year where this was TRUE, but George is fighting for his life in Best Actor, (He’s got one already and “The Descendants” is depressing.) against his BFF Brad Pitt, who, BTW, just won Best Actor from the prestigious National Society of Film Critics. Take THAT, EW! They seem to be saying. And the Best Actress race is all over the place, between those three ladies. Williams, Streep & Davis.

And Viola Davis, as talented as she is, has not yet won ONE major award yet for “The Help”! A cover like this and a lay-out and an interview like that, may infuriate Academy types into NOT voting for her, when the time comes. And it IS a Supporting Performance in most peoples’ books…including mine.

But to photograph her looking so RADIANT and BEAUTIFUL and AIR-BRUSHED to death, well, we’ve never seen her like this before. And acting like she’s already won! But she hasn’t!

I fear this cover is going to make AMPAS voters feel like “Wait a minute! Don’t tell US who’s won!” or who to vote for. MISTAKE! This is what the Board of Governors was actually warning people about this year.  See Scott Feinberg’s excellent analysis of this at www.hollywoodreporter.com where Scott now is writing “The Race.”

And Jean Dujardin of “The Artist” is the one who most Oscar experts are picking for Best Actor. But not to EW.

I totally agree with Dave Karger with his choice that “The Artist” has already won Best Picture and is waaay out in front in that category. He’s right about that. But I would not be a very good Oscarologist myself, if I didn’t feel it incumbent on me to say “WAIT A MINUTE! Hold your (War) horses, EW!”

What they are doing is championing or campaigning for Clooney/Davis with this glossy cover and the even glossier interview inside. Acting like it’s a done deal. That is SOOOO BAD in Oscar campaigning terms.

And I know Dave Karger is familiar with Oscar 101.

I’ve NEVER seen EW so blatantly Up a Duo from two different films, yet, who may not be pictured together ever again this awards season. How embarrassing! But EW is nothing if not BOLD.

However, their first Oscar cover of the season isn’t a NEWS issue. It never is.

Didn’t they depict “Finding Neverland” once upon a time? Oy vay.

And there was once an Oscar issue like this with three actresses shown. I think it was Jennifer Connelly and Nicole Kidman and somebody else. And that third lady did not get nominated. I can’t even remember who she was. How embarrassing was that for her? And presumably for the magazine. But guess not, cuz they’re doing it again!

But some of you will remind me who that third gal was, who didn’t get nominated.

And even though Michelle Williams is splattered all over the INSIDE of the magazine in their for real predictions section on who’s going to be nominated…that story/interview on George ‘n’ Viola’s friendship was a little grating and self-serving. And yes, both of them are acting like they’ve ALREADY WON! NO! They haven’t!

THIS IS A HUGE OSCAR “No!NO!”

George has picked up a couple of critics awards, but Viola has gotten none, separately, herself, for Best Actress. Though “The Help” has gotten kudo-ed for Ensemble in several places.

This is the kind of cover that could de-rail a campaign. SERIOUSLY. Dave, what were you thinking? Well, obviously, he thinks he’s right.

I beg to differ.

And inside, though, his predictions themselves, were pretty spot-on for who was going to be nominated for Best Picture, Actor and Actress, though he’s got Michael Fassbender in there, and I think it’s Demian Bichir. Although Demian DOES receive a cute consolation prize, a “For Your Consideration” box.

But his supporting picks were all over the place, especially in Supporting Actress.

I was shocked at how wobbly his Supporting predictions were and yes, the Supp. Actress category is historically the hardest to predict. He’s got Berenice  Bejo (yes, she’s nominated for a BFCA, Golden Globe and a SAG) Ditto Octavia Spenser. He’s got Janet McTeer pictured, and I think that’s right. And Jessica Chastain for “The Help” which seems to be what she’s inevitably nominated for, though, it’s the least of her EIGHT performances this season! And then he has Melissa McCarthy, who EW just had on another of their covers recently as “The Queen of Comedy”. This would be for the gross-out “Bridesmaids.”

He doesn’t mention Vanessa Redgrave AT ALL. NOWHERE. And I think she WILL TURN UP here. Especially after being snubbed by BAFTA!!! Can you believe it?

I’m sure it’s the ghost of her earlier-in-life, extreme left-wing policies from the ’60s still haunting her. But if the Academy, Anglophile Lefties all, (well, the majority anyway) will over look Redgrave’s policy and put her in where she belongs and she could win this for her ASTOUNDING performance in “Coriolanus.”

Karger also gives Carey Mulligan from “Shame” a “For Your Consideration” box. And that is valid. She was great, if not greater, than Michael Fassbender in “Shame.”

We all know Christopher Plummer is going to win his career award in Supp. for “Beginners” and Dave Karger duly notes this. The other nominees, in this category, though, except for Kenneth Branagh are all up in the air. ESPECIALLY, his pick of Max Von Sydow for “Extremely Late and Incredibly Distasteful”! I don’t think so.

He’s got Jonah Hill and Albert Brooks in there but they were overlooked by SAG, and Nick Nolte and Armie Hammer WERE SAG-nominated, which he notes, but doesn’t see them getting in.

Who could pop up here, unexpectedly, is Corey Stoll for his finely etched portrait of Ernest Hemingway in “Midnight in Paris.”

And Kathy Bates and/or Marion Cotillard could be two last-minute  pop-ups from “Midnight in Paris.” They both just were named on the BAFTA long list…So they’ve been noted there.

Oh, and that BAFTA long list!…well, let’s just say it’s TOO LONG to even bother with at this point. But as always you can check out www.awardsdaily.com for a much closer look at that ENDLESS list, on which nearly everybody who made a film this year, is on. Wait for the BAFTA nominations themselves. But Beth Stevens, at Awardsdaily does a really good job at parsing them, especially in the comment section.

SAG Nominations Out! No “War Horse”, Oldman, Brooks, Woodley or REDGRAVE!

Well, dear readers, dear cineastes, I’m back. Having major Internet issues…but I just HAVE to respond to the all-important SAG nominations which are just out this AM! For a complete list, see www.awardsdaily.com

Mainly I’m SHOCKED that “War Horse” is completely left out! This is for the SAG Ensemble Award, which is their corresponding award to “Best Picture.” Having just seen it last night at a (mainly) AMPAS screening, the audience, and myself, too, reacted VERY favorably. But the horse is the star. And the actors performances are all strangely flat. Though great actors and actresses abound. Like Emily Watson, Eddie Marsden, Peter Mullan, etc. etc.

Left IN however, is “Midnight in Paris”!!! For Best Ensemble. But also left OUT are the two main contenders from “Shame” Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan(for Supporting Actress). I think it’s because of their nudity. Period. Well, and the over abundant sex scenes.

The Actors don’t want to be turned into cartoons or stop motion characters, nor do they want to be seen naked and having sex on the screen. It’s retro thinking all around. I’m just responding to the way it is.

And no love whatsoever for “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”! AND “Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close” !!! Both those films with the latest possible release dates. And the strict embargoes, and I’m guessing just too late for most of the SAG nominators to see them. Too bad. I’m still waiting on MY invites to them. BTW!!!

However, the SAG nominators DID get Damien Bechir’s film EARLY. And they saw it and liked it and nominated the Mexican actor in the Best Actor category. Effectively knocking out Michael Fassbender and Gary Oldman.

Oldman, with the large British voting block in AMPAS, may get back in when the Oscar nominations are FINALLY announced next month! Yes, we’ve still got a month to wait!

But what they did get right was the Best Actress category with Meryl Streep, Glenn Glose, Michelle Williams, Viola Davis and TILDA SWINTON! Well…great for TILDA! With the help of master Oscar strategist, Cynthia Swartz, behind “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin” Tilda, I think is very secure in reaching their mutual goal of snagging an Oscar nomination for this dark, difficult, challenging film, too. But I want to go on record as saying I THINK SAG Has now nailed the five Best Actress candidates down. I think all five of these ladies will duplicate their SAG noms on Oscar Nomination Morning. And Glenn Close breaks her losing streak with inclusion here by the Actors.

But Cynthia Swartz also is famously backing “Tattoo” and Rooney Mara and got NO-Thing…

“The Help” got the most noms with Best Ensemble and Best Actress(Davis) and TWO Best Supporting Actresses in Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain. So this effectively keeps “The Help” in the race and also FINALLY narrows it down to which of Chastain’s 6 or 7 or 8 performances that the Academy will also probably nominate. So it’s Chastain for “The Help” is she’s in it at all.

The Big Winner of course is Harvey Weinstein. With his nominations for Best Ensemble for “The Artist”, Best Actor, Jean Dujardin, Best Supporting Actress, Berenice Bejo, Best Actresses Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams for “The Iron Lady” and “My Week with Marilyn” and Best Supporting Actor Kenneth Branagh also for “My Week with Marilyn.”

Both Supporting categories are the ones that are going to change the  most when Oscar is announced.  They are kind of all over the place. With wildcards Melissa McCarthy “Bridesmaids” and Armie Hammer “J. Edgar” getting in. I don’t think McCarthy is going to get in for this category with Oscar. She’s a TV actress and the “Bridesmaids” as successful as it was, is still A COMEDY.

Shailene Woodley not getting in for “The Descendants” was a shocker. Another fore-gone conclusion, well, gone. And ditto Albert Brooks in “Drive.” He could replace the execrable Jonah Hill for “Moneyball.” And if Woodley doesn’t score here, who is the BABE in this category? Well, Berenice Bejo!

Yes, my friends “The Artist” continues to sweep as “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” seem not to be registering at all.

Somewhere Harvey Weinstein is laughing.

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