a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘SAG’

Oscar/SAG upset! Watch out for “Trumbo” and Bryan Cranston!

Trumbo 3I’m expecting a bombshell at the SAG awards. I think “Trumbo” is poised to upset many Oscar apple-carts. It’s got everything. A true Hollywood scandal with a real life hero Dalton Trumbo, and a magnificent career-best performance by the beloved-by-his-fellow-actors Bryan Cranston.

It’s a story that’s never been told. And there are many still alive today, like Kirk Douglas, who is depicted in the film, who were effected by the terrible Blacklist of a group of writers, who became known as the Hollywood Ten. Why? Because the admitted to being members of the Communist Party back in the days, the ’50s, when McCarthy witch-hunts were ruling the land.

And it has its own Cruella De Ville villainess that you can feel free to hiss, and boo, Dame Helen Mirren as the red-baiting, but powerful Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Mirren seems to slither through this movie like a silken snake. It’s a role that has garnered Mirren already a SAG nomination as well as a Golden Globe.Trumbo 1

And  Bryan Cranston is  just sensational! He gets to pull our heart-strings as one of the most courageous Hollywood screenwriters has ever seen,who kept on writing for the movies, even after the US govt. forbade him to. He was bankrupted. He was even sent to jail!

And then when he came out of jail, he was reduced to writing schlock screenplays for the schlockmeiester-to-end-all-schlockmeisters, played by John Goodman, who adds a JOLT to any film he’s in. He essayed a similar role in “The Artist” and THAT small, unexpected film won the Oscar, lest we forget, and after “Birdman”s win last year, it shows us that Hollywood will never get over its’ love affair with itself. “Trumbo” may find itself nominated for many things, besides Cranston and Mirren. It could  get nominated for Best Picture,too! Wouldn’t THAT be a surprise!”Spotlight” LOOK OUT!

“Trumbo”s got a star-studded cast who really deliver and who all have been nominated for Best Ensemble for the SAG award. To the great surprise of everyone in the blogosphere and out of it. They didn’t expect that, and they also didn’t expect Cranston and Mirren to land both Globe&SAG nods. It might even win Best Ensemble which is SAG’s equivalent of best picture. This award may be where “Trumbo” triumphs, too, and not the presumed front-runner “Spotlight.”

It’s a Hollywood story through and through with a genuine hero, who suffered and nearly died, at Hwood’s bad hands. I know of one man who killed himself due to this, and this tragic story has never fully been told, until now. But it’s an inspiring film too, because Trumbo triumphs in the end when “Spartacus” has his name on the title credits “Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.” It’s a golden moment that’s a very satisfying climax to the appauling story of prejudice and discrimination that has gone before.

You love Cranston in this, as you loved him in “Breaking Bad” as the iconic Walter White. And we have to remember that AFTRA the TV actors union has now merged with SAG, making it no crime at all to succeed on the small screen as well as the big one..

Cranston is one of the great actors we have today and he totally aces the role of  the grumpy, mustachioed, eccentric-but-principled Dalton Trumbo. He is immensely respected as an actors’ actor and he gives one of the best performances of the year. And he’s in his 40’s when he starts and then he ages! Something that always catnip to the Academy. AND he gets strip searched nude in prison, and has to endure a shocking anal cavity search. But he never gives up or gives in.

And he has one hilarious scene with an Oscar on a table before him, an Oscar which he won writing “Roman Holiday” under one of his enforced aliases, and he keeps saying “I don’t want it” to the writer sitting across from him, played by Alan Tudkyk.

I think that Cranston had better clear a place on his already over-crowded mantle-piece. He won so many Emmys for “Breaking Bad” and a Tony, too, for his LBJ in “All the Way” on Broadway last year.

People just keep throwing awards at him, and awards magnet that he is, he’s going to get the SAG and then the Oscar, too.

Leo for doing stunt work in the odious, repellant “The Revenant” doesn’t stand a chance against America’s answer to Daniel Day-Lewis, Bryan Cranston.

Could “Wolf Hall Pts 1 & 2” Win All the Tonys???

Could the astoundingly popular British six-hour smash hit “Wolf Hall Pts. 1 & 2” win all the Tonys it’s sure to be nominated for in less than two weeks? It certainly could. It’s massive length, and its massive cast of nearly two dozen imported Royal Shakespearean actors is based on the equally massively successful and acclaimed novels by Dame Hilary Mantel.Wolf Hall 1 TONY 2015 1“Wolf Hall” and its’ successor “Bring In the Bodies” BOTH won the prestigious Mann Booker awards in Britain. And though you would think the six-hour long marathon length would daunt theater-goers, it was a success in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where it appropriately started, then in the West End, when it transferred, and now on Broadway,

Anglophiles seem to be coming out of the wood-work lapping it up as a day well-spent time-travelling to the uttterly corrupt court of King Henry VIII. It has already been adapted into a critically acclaimed hit by Mike Poulton at London’s Royal Shakespeare Company, and its current Broadway transfer has grossed almost $2 million in previews since March 20; it opened April 9. And the novels themselves have sold over three million copies world-wide

It’s also currently airing on PBS starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, here the protagonist. With overwhelming stats like these, I think it’s going to get nominated for every Tony Award in the book. Including and especially  Best New Play, Best Actor (Ben Miles ~ Thomas Cromwell), Best Supporting Actress (Lydia Leonard ~ Anne Boleyn) and Best Supporting Actor (Nathaniel Parker ~ King Henry VIII) and you can throw in Best Director, and all the technical awards, too.

I wasn’t sure about this  TONY sweep happening, although all my critical colleagues were throwing their hats very high into the air with the best reviews of the season, until I saw a 90 minute Q&A at the New School’s auditorium in Greenwich Village.

Hosted by the jovial and expert Richard Ridge, Parker, Miles and Ms. Leonard utterly charmed and beguiled me, as they participated in this, one of the best symposiums I’ve ever attended. Hosted by SAG and Broadwayworld.com, the Tudor trio & Ridge created what was one of the most delightful afternoons chats I’ve ever been witness to.

Also invited were Drama Desk members, and all were thrilled by what they were hearing as Parker, Miles and Ms. Leonard regalled us with a totally complete picture of just how “Wolf Hall” transformed into  two stage plays from those very thick British novels.

And all three were unstinting in their generosity in their replies to Ridge’s apt questions. They were three actors talking from their hearts to an audience full of actors(The Screen Actors Guild) and they couldn’t’ve been more charming, intelligent, completely forthcoming and utterly winning.

Ben Miles, Lydia Leonard and Nathaniel Parker may have arrived here as virtual strangers on our shores, but they are going to leave nominated for every acting award they’ll be eligible for. The Drama Desk and the Tonys all announce their choices within the next two weeks. I can’t wait!

Is “Birdman” Surging or Is It Oscar Hooey?

Birdman 1Is “Birdman” really experiencing a last-minute surge or is it all just Oscar hooey? Put out mainly by the hugest “Birdman” supporter of all, Jeff Wells at http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com. If you read him, and I do, daily, he’s a terrific writer, even if I don’t agree with him half the time, you’d think it’s “Birdman,Birdman,Birdman” all the way. But I wonder…

He and the greatest, most obsessed Oscar prognosticator of  them all Tom O’Neil at http://www.goldderby.com  have a very interesting phone chat they’d turned into a pod-cast, and it’s worth listening to.

Especially when JW reluctantly agrees that it’s Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor and not Michael Keaton. TON feels it’s now “Birdman”s to lose. Both Oscarologists function from deep in the heart of Hollywood as presumably they are hearing more than I do here on the East Coast. But here, I hear, it’s still “Boyhood.”

Their podcast is very interesting to hear the dynamic between the two men. They both are very respectful of each other. Tom more so than with any one else he’s podcasted with. And Jeffrey is much more tentative, nicer, in person, as I know him to be. He’s been a guest on my show. And Tom I’ve met many times at Oscar parties here in NYC.

Jeff’s writings on Hwd are fierce, fiery, bracing blasts of vitriol. And they’re so well written, you find yourself just agreeing with him, even when you don’t, because of the power of his angry missives.

But Tom, especially, I thought was less secure in his predicting “Birdman.” I was surprised. He even admits as much in the conversation.  So it STILL could be “Boyhood” despite “Birdman”s winning the PGA, DGA and SAG. But it LOST the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical to “Grand Budapest Hotel” and it lost the BAFTA to “Boyhood.” Stats not to be trifled with. And it didn’t get nominated for Best Film Editing, which it seems you HAVE to have to win.

It’s been “Boyhood” for so long, that people think that’s it’s won already. The voting for the Oscars of 2015 closes FINALLY tomorrow. This has seemed like a particularly long year.

Well, “Whiplash” opened at Sundance last year last January and so did “Boyhood.” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” opened right around NOW last year, too. So we’ve been living with these films for a LONG time. “Oscar Island” as Sasha Stone calls it.

Even SHE is thinking that’s it’s both “Birdman” for Best Picture and also it’s director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu for Best Director. And that if that’s the case “Boyhood” just gets Best Supporting Actress, for Patricia Arquette.

I can’t wait til this whole things draws to a close. I can’t believe I’m saying that I’m tired of Oscar season. But this year I really am.

But I’ll be live-blogging it anyway. As far as I know. Stay tuned.

Eddie Redmayne Wins Best Actor BAFTA! Richard Linklater Wins Best Director!

Theory 1So it happened. It was inevitable. The wonderful, powerful actor Eddie Redmayne has just won the Best Actor Award at BAFTA for “The Theory of Everything.” He’s won the Golden Globe, the SAG award and now this. There’s nothing stopping him now on his road to Oscar in only two weeks!

Richard Linklater also just won Best Director for “Boyhood.” After “Birdman”s DGA win last night for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, it looked like everything was shifting “Birdman”s way after the SAG Ensemble and PGA wins. Guess not.And I have to ad, Richard Linklater is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in this business. Who’s a director/writer I mean. I’ve met plenty o’ wonderful actors. Like Eddie!

It’s definitely a two horse race. Only Best Actress and Best Picture left to be announced!

Julianne Moore wins Best Actress SAG!!

Still Alice 2Julianne Moore; now in her 50s, FINALLY is getting the long overdue awards recognition she’s been missing, well, her whole career so far. She also just won ANOTHER Award tonight. The SAG award for Best Actress for her brilliant, lacerating depiction of an early on set Alzheimers victim in “Still Alice.” A  beautiful but still little seen film.

And hush my mouth, “Birdman” was “Best Cast”!! After winning the Producer’s Guild last night, does this double whammy mean the Oscar for Best Picture is  now  A RACE!?!? I think so.

And although “Birdman” is about actors and theatre, you’d think I’d like it more. But I don’t.

Who Will Harvey Pick? He’s Got THREE Best Supp. Actors

It’s raining/sleeting/snowing in NYC, but to continue with my train of thought since the last post… Who will Harvey Weinstein pick of his threesome of Best Supporting Actors to push, push, push to Oscar gold?

I guess it was noticed that Phillip Seymour Hoffman was MIA to pick up, or even show up, for the Awards shows this past week. I think he’s rather furious that he’s been relegated to Supporting Actor, for what clearly was a co-lead in the flop “The Master.” So he’s not being super-co-operative. Or PSH is seeing the handwriting on the wall and it’s not spelling HIS name.

I think it’s spelling Robert Deniro’s. Yes, for the audience-friendly “Silver Linings Playbook,” which is only now going wide.The box-office for “SLP” has not being overwhelming to say the least. It’s a difficult, quirky comedy. Or dramedy. And it’s a small, domestic-arguement kind of film. It doesn’t have the range or scope of the epics of this year, “Les Miserables”, or “Argo” or “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Lincoln.”

The “Lincoln” camp is quaking in their boots. Getting “Hilary Clinton’s husband,”to quote the super sharp Amy Poehler, the evening’s resoundingly successful co-host (along with Tina Fey), to introduce the “Lincoln” clip was the act of a desperate group of people. In this case, Disney. They NEVER have run a successful Oscar campaign. Look at how they botched “The Help” last year.

Their sledge-hammer approach cost Viola Davis her Oscar bid last year. They got Best Supporting Actress for “The Help”s Octavia Spenser, but Best Supp. ANYthing is always considered by the Academy as a consolation prize. It’s just not as important as Best ACTOR and Best ACTRESS and now, this year, Best Director.

Liked Anne Hathaway’s seeming slam-dunk lock for “Les Miserables” That category is effectively closed. Give it up, Sally Field.

But back to Harvey. HE KNOWS how to run an Oscar campaign, and he’s relentless in its’ pursuit. Only this year’s ponies, as my idol Tom O’Neil would say over at http://www.goldderby.com, are not the thoroughbreds he was pushing in the past two historic years when he had “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech.” “SLP” is just NOT as good a film as the two recent Oscar winners, who were both Weinstein Co. productions.

Personally, I think he’s going to go after “Silver Linings Playbook” anyway for the win. Or as many wins as he can get for it. Main among them, Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress. She already just won Best Actress Comedy at the Globes, but that was ALLLL “SLP” won, no matter how hard Harvey & Co. were campaigning for it. Next up, the SAG Awards, for which Robert Deniro IS nominated, in Supp.

And that means the twice-Oscared, but never SAGed DeNiro could be looking at HIS third Oscar and HE’S campaigning! Something he NEVER does.IOW, he’s co-operating with Harvey’s Oscar vision for “SLP”.

HW COULD prevail for DeNiro, who, let’s face it is a bona fide Oscar legend, and we’ll just see who out of the current Weinstein Co. stable DOES win Best Supporting Actor.

The co-operative Christophe Waltz won his second Golden Globe in two years, thanks to Harvey, for “Django Unchained.” And who gives the Best Performance out of Hoffman, DeNiro and Waltz. I’d say it was Waltz. And that may happen at the Oscars, too. He may duplicate his win as will, I think Quentin Tarantino in Best Original Screenplay.

Harvey Weinstein KNOWS how to run an Oscar campaign. Disney does not. And Neither does Fox, who has “Life of Pi” and also neither does Universal, who has “Les Miserables” which SHOULD be the winner IMHO. But alllll these majors, the studios, just aren’t USED to winning Oscars anymore. It’s like they were all born yesterday and only Harvey and the Weinstein Co. know what they are doing….And that’s just the way it is this year, ladies and gente-persons, dear readers, dear cineastes.

Except for the fly in the ointment, “Argo”.

You can’t have TWO Davids v. one Goliath. Like “SLP” AND “Argo” v. Goliath “Lincoln.” So which of “Argo” and “SLP” is the “Little Film That Could”? The Oscar question of the morning.

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 Double Shocker! 2 Best Actress slots may open! “Beasts” not nominated for Best Picture at Gotham Awards!

Still reeling from Joaquim Phoenix’s “Oscar is utter bulls–t” remark, I think it’s gone unnoticed by all except the astute Anne Thompson on this week’s Oscar Talk podcast at www.indiewire.com and also on www.hitfix.com,where when partner Kris Tapley points out that the much-heralded “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did NOT get a Best Picture nomination from the upcoming Gotham Awards, she said “That’s not a sign of strength.”

“Beasts” did however get nominated for Best Breakthrough Performer for 8 Year-old Qu’venzhane Wallis and Best Director for 29-year-old Benh Zeitlin.

But not getting a Best Picture nomination from the Gothams, the East Coast’s answer to the Independent Spirit Awards, is a real and unexpected slap in the face to “Beasts,” and to Fox Searchlight. And may forecast what I am hearing about the way the Academy itself is responding to this beautiful, small Indie film. Which is not well.

Check out Pete Hammond on www.deadline.com, who has been saying this all along. Especially the Actor’s Branch, who take the SAG disqualification of performers Qu’venzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry of “Beasts” from consideration from THEIR awards, VERY seriously. SAG is the Screen Actors Guild, whose large membership hands out their own awards and whose membership overlaps the Academy. The Screen Actors Guild is also a Union. The film version of Actor’s Equity. And all voting members of the Actor’s Branch are all members of SAG.

Non-actors when they started “Beasts of the Southern Wild “& critically acclaimed though they are, I hear that the super-powerful Actor’s Branch especially is not liking the idea of nominating a non-actress,and a non-union member, who is an eight-year-old child.

“When there are so many PROFESSIONAL actresses who gave great performances this year.” So goes the current AMPAS Actor’s Branch thinking, I am told. And it’s that powerful branch, the largest in the Academy and they are the ones, the ONLY ones who nominate the Actors. And the Actresses. And most Oscarologists have little Miss Wallis in their top five. See Tom O’Neill’s http://www.goldderby.com charts, for one example.

Meanwhile, two of the  other main contenders for Best Actress that are on everyone’s lists of five potential nominees are French.

Marion Cotillard for “Rust and Bone,” who is being honored by the Gothams and AFI and just about every which way you turn for her stunning turn as the legless victim of a whale attack. She’s a whale trainer in a Sea World-like situation in the South of France and one of her Orcas attacks her. And even though Mlle.Marion is acting in her own language French, she’s IN with a capital “I” and a capital “L” for Lock.

But  the other Gallic contender, who very well may NOT make it, I’m hearing, is Octogenarian French actress Emmanuelle Riva. Riva plays the stroke victim in “Amour” The film won the Palme d’Or this year in Cannes. And the same-aged Academy is NOT digging this grim, unrelenting film about death. It’s too much and too close for Academy members. It should’ve been called “La Mort” which is French for death.

So Riva’s nomination is not a slam dunk, either though this difficult, gripping, unforgettable film may very well score a Best Foreign Film nomination.

So BOTH Qu’venzhane Wallis’ and Emmanuelle Riva’s slots may very well not be their slots at all come nomination day. But there are OTHERS, a few stellar Others who are waiting right in the wings right at their doorsteps,

Leaving two doors, or slots, in that suddenly contentious category, WIDE open for a pair of Dames. Always bet on the Brits. Dame Helen Mirren playing The Master of Suspene’s wife Alma in “Hitchcock”(which has not been seen yet) and also perhaps Dame Maggie Smith as a retiring but disliked opera diva in “Quartet.”

I saw”‘Quartet’ in Toronto and 77-year-old Maggie Smith could very well find herself Oscar bound. And then there’s of course the beauteous Brit, Keira Knightley, much more likely as the tortured heroine of “Anna Karenina”which I also saw in Toronto, and which is still my favorite film of the year so far. For the record, I thought both performances were divine and definitely Oscar-worthy.

And the leader of the pack at the moment, according to all and sundry is Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook,”which I’m finally slated to see this week.

Nevermind, the still-unseen Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty.” We still don’t know if she’s a leading player or supporting, though.

But there are plenty of worthy, beautiful Oscar performances by actresses awaiting Oscar’s nod this year if BOTH Qu’venzhane Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva don’t make the cut.

So except for Lawrence’s presumed lead, this is now a very wide open category, with a small, but stellar group to pick from. Cotillard, Knightley, Mirren, Chastain, Smith. There’s enough. Or ALMOST enough. And all these ladies, I must point out are either Oscar nominees, and many of them winners! Cotillard and Mirren both have won. And Dame Maggie Smith has two wins out of SIX nominations! Knightley, Chastain and Lawrence are all previous nominees. They are all, as Anne Thompson likes to say, “In The Club.”

“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.

5 SAG men and 5 SAG women poised to score Oscar noms

At this juncture, the first post of the New Year 2012, I’m beginning to think of the Oscar landscape as sort of a roiling seascape. It’s most fascinating aspect is the tides, their ever-changing ebb and flow. And it does change, this Oscar race, we are all so avidly following. And if you’re not, why are you reading this???

So what’s changed since yesterday? Well, certain box office numbers came in, and came in lower than expected. Like for instance, the holiday numbers of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” which are OK, but not the blockbuster figures Sony was hoping for with a $100 million budget. This hurts Rooney Mara’s nascent Oscar campaign, I’m afraid. Right at the time the voters have received their ballots in their homes.

Most send them RIGHT BACK, making sure that they are counted. You can check out the stats at www.boxofficemojo.com And “The Iron Lady” opened strong, but not THAT strong. Everybody these days feels that the first weekend is everything, and especially in the middle of the Oscar campaigns, that is not necessarily the case.

But “Dragon Tattoo” is not measuring up, and I think that dooms Rooney Mara’s chance to crack that locked and loaded Five SAG women, who are nominated for Best Actress. I think that on Oscar morning, we’ll find out that Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Michelle Williams and yes, Tilda Swinton, are going to repeat their SAG nomination victories. If you consider the SAG nominations a victory. And they are of sorts.

Of course, it’s an honor. It is after all your peers voting for you here. And it’s the first glimpse we get into what the all important Hollywood guilds are actually thinking and feeling right about now. And the above ladies are who they are feeling for.

Rooney Mara is the newbie, the upstart outsider trying to get in, but…with those numbers at the B.O. I’m afraid “Dragon Tattoo” is not going to make  it into that very locked-up-for-ages category.

You always wish they could expand the category just a LEEETLE bit, but, of course, they never do. It’s against the rules.

Then there’s the Five SAG men. And last night I finally got a chance to watch Demian Bichir’s out-of-the-blue nominated performance in the leeetle-seen Indie “A Better Life.” It starts slow, but then BANG! It blew me out of the water and Bechir held me in the grip of his powerful, moving performance as a Mexican father, an illegal immigrant in today’s L.A., who is working as a gardener and trying to make “A Better Life” for his son. He was heroic. No anti-hero here. And troubles galore do ensue, as he is always trying to do the right, moral thing in the immoral, or amoral world of the hispanic underclass.

It’s a terrific film and a great performance by Bichir. Summit Entertainment, the film’s distributor, did the smart & impossible that usually is associated with Sony Pictures Classics or Lionsgate,  by sending out the DVD screeners of this film to the entire SAG membership, and most especially the 2100 members of their nominating committee EARLY. REALLY EARLY. Like SPC did last year with “Animal Kingdom” that just as unseen-in-theaters film that got Australian actress Jackie Weaver an Oscar nomination in Supporting Actress last year. She didn’t win, but in her very unlikely case, it was a honor just to be nominated. And like Lionsgate did so famously with “Crash” upsetting “Brokeback Mountain.” That was in 2005. And the strategy still works.

Oh! Those September screeners! Those first out-of-the-box DVDs to arrive at a time when the voters have time to watch them. Like in the REALLY early fall. Like Labor Day. And it seemed EVERYone in SAG watched “A Better Life” and were equally wowed, as I was, by Bichir’s heart-wrenching performance.

He didn’t repeat this at the Golden Globe awards. He was replaced there by Michael Fassbender for “Shame” And much as I adore Michael F. and his constant full frontal nudity didn’t faze me in the least, I think it WILL faze the S.W.O.R.M, The Straight White Old Rich Men, who make up the Academy. Yes, as I’m always pointing out, THEY are the majority. Like it or not, that’s what we’re dealing with here. ALWAYS.

And sadly, the double standard is still in effect. The naked young girl, like for instance, last year’s Natalie Portman, almost always wins over the older actresses who are also nominated. I think, as I’ve said many times, this “Babe Rule” is going to apply once again this year in a close race for Best Actress between Michelle Williams and her older cohorts.

But oh no! MEN can’t be seen naked in Hollywood films! Especially not from the front! And especially when shown urinating! And yes, you don’t just HEAR it happening! You see the actual, physical process taking place RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU! Michael Fassbender is facing upstage(and totally naked, again, natch) but you get the picture.

But the Academy won’t get this picture. They are nothing, if not closet prudes and homophobes as we know (See “Brokeback Mountain” NOT winning in 2005) So no, to Michael Fassbender, and yes, to Demien Bichir. As the SAGS have already said.

Also, “Shame”s box-office is not registering with movie-goers despite the constant sex scenes and the as-noted nudity. See BoxOfficeMojo, again. Which is, well, a shame.

What is doing WELL at the Box Office surprisingly is “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” which is a British film that boasts a terrifically understated performance by the great actor Gary Oldman, who has never ONCE been nominated. He could sneak in here and replace Bichir, if the large British voting bloc within the Academy votes for him and not Mexican  Bichir. But George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jean Dujardin of “The Artist” I think are as equally locked and loaded in their category of Best Actor, as the five aforementioned ladies are in their category.

The Supporting races, especially Best Supporting Actress, are usually not SAG matches and are usually all over the place. So much so that I will discuss them separately. But the SAG 5 & 5 rule!

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: