a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Oscar Ballots Go Out~ So where are we now?

The 2013 Oscar ballots went out in the mail and became available online yesterday. So RIGHT AT THIS EXACT MOMENT, they provide a snapshot, if you will, of the Academy’s deepest(or most superficial) feelings.

That a silly little film like “American Hustle” could be at the top of everyone’s minds right now is really irksome to me. But I would be re-miss if I didn’t say that I think that’s the case. That’s awful, but I think that’s what’s really happening.

“12 Years a Slave”, the masterpiece that’s out there, that I’ve seen THREE times now, is on everyone’s minds, too. I just hope they (the Academy) are watching it. And appreciating it the way I and Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone do. Check out her latest readings of the Oscar tea leaves at http://www.Awardsdaily.com. It’s horrid that this maybe happening, but I’m protecting myself from getting another “Brokeback” heart on Oscar night, by getting ready for the worst.

The water cooler movie that everyone is talking about right now is “Wolf of Wall Street,” but I don’t think the Academy is going to dig it. I don’t think either M. Scorsese or Leonardo DiCaprio and especially Jonah Hill are going to get nominated for what is in essence a three-hour orgy supporting and glamorizing what it purports to condemn. Which is the excessive greed on Wall St.in the 1980s and early ’90s. They could’ve called it “Crack Hoes on Parade,” but then they would be admitting it to be the porn film it almost is.

I think Cate Blanchett is sitting pretty, VERY pretty and very high up in everyone’s esteem right now, to get her Second Oscar for her unforgettable turn as a socialite in free-fall in “Blue Jasmine.” Actually, “Blue Jasmine” is also about what “The Wolf of Wall Street” is about economics crashing and burning, but “Blue Jasmine” and Woody Allen who wrote it, SHOW you the downside and what the victims of this powerful abuse of  money, one of whom is Jasmine herself, suffered.

Allen pointedly depicts the people who got hurt, as WOWS never does. Those who invested their money and lost everything by trusting Jasmine and her Bernie Madoff-esque husband (Alec Baldwin in one of the best performances of his career)

One after other after the other, the visible victims  unload on the now pathetic Jasmine, whose son won’t even speak to her. The most memorable scene being between her and her brother-in-law(Andrew Dice Clay) who lets her know just exactly how many lives she and her husband have ruined.

It’s devastating.

Woody Allen got it right. Which may be why you might find him turning up nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. And don’t be surprised if Blanchett’s centrifugal force pulls her sunny sister Sally Hawkins into the Supporting Actress category, too. Hawkins is wonderful as the only person left on earth who is on Jasmine’s side.

And don’t be shocked if Robert Redford is going to find out that REALLY All IS Lost when he or his film doesn’t end up anywhere on Nomination Morning, Tuesday, Jan. 14. He was not nominated for a SAG Best Actor award and NOBODY has ever won Best Actor without a SAG nomination. NOBODY.

And we all know that Oscar stalwart Harvey Weinstein is campaigning heavily behind the scenes for all FOUR of his Oscar hopefuls, “Philomena”, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and ” August: Osage County.” And finally, “Long Walk to Freedom.”

He could be making sure that  AT LEAST ONE of his Best Actors candidates, Forest Whitaker, the Butler himself or Idris Elba(Nelson Mandella)could take the slot that Redford was supposed to.

I think Tom Hanks is also in danger of splitting his vote. He’s got “Saving Mr. Banks” in Supporting as Walt Disney and also he’s got his leading performance of “Captain Phillips.” His Disney so far has garnered no precursor awards. And “Banks” seems to be stumbling everywhere except for leading lady Emma Thompson who seems destined to get a Best Actress nomination for her prickly pair of a performance as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers.

If I had to pick one, I’d say his “Captain Phillips” turn is the more likely of the two.

And now to Harvey and his other “fillies” as Tom O’Neil http://www.goldderby.com would dub them. Meryl Streep just got the worst reviews of her career for “August:Osage County” and they all came out YESTERDAY, and the NYTimes’ A.O.Scott was particularly,unusually brutal. But I agreed with him.

Julia Roberts in Supporting(at the moment) is getting universally better reviews that Streep, if you can believe it. Streep described it in a Q&A this week in Hwood as “Streep Fatigue”. And she herself even admitted that the Academy’s Actors Branch might be suffering from that. It looked as though she was too. It seems like she doesn’t like the role of Violet she was playing, quite frankly. So why did she do it???

So who takes her place? Julia Roberts? Or is it Amy Adams who has been nominated FOUR times in Supporting in the past eight years, but never won. This would be part of the “American Hustle” effect. Which could also see Christian Bale pop up in Best Actor and Bradley Cooper in Supporting. Don’t gasp. It could happen.

Though Adams is the LEAST effective performance in “AH.” Weak is the word. She’s just not believable as the Whore of Babylon. Opposite Jennifer Lawrence, who certainly IS playing that part. But as a housewife in Queens. Or is it New Jersey? And Lawrence will FOR SURE get nominated.

How much do people like this already over-awarded very minor comedy?

I’m unfortunately guessing a lot right now. And Bale, Cooper and ugh, even Adams could get pulled along by “AH”s coat-tail effect. I HATE to even type this. But all four of them have been nominated for a Golden Globe, but in the Musical/Comedy category. Or rather Bale and Adams have for their leading performances.

It could happen.

And what of the wonderful actors of “12 Years a Slave”? I think they all will be nominated. Chiwetel Ejiofor in lead, and Michael Fassbender in Supporting Actor and Lupita Nyong’O in Supp. actress. They all could win, too.

Out of the three Nyong’O has the least competition in her category. And there’s a healthy history of Black Actresses winning in Supporting. And the part! I mean, her character “Queen of the Fields” Patsie gets raped, whipped, and a glass decanter is thrown in her face. She wants Solomon Northrup to kill her. She even offers him money to drown her….From the part ALONE, I would think this is Lupita’s to lose. How can anyone else compare? And this is ALL TRUE!!! Patsie was a real slave who actually lived, too.

And there’s thoughts being floated that “12 Years a Slave” might not win Best Picture, losing to either “American Hustle” or “Gravity.” But that Chiwetel Ejiofor will win Best Actor. I certainly hope they all do. And that Right, and a masterpiece, will triumph.

And as for the landslide of precursor awards that is consuming Jared Leto for his portrayal of a sweet transvestite named Rayon in “Dallas Buyer’s Club”…well, the Academy has been historically quirky about awarding cross-dressing performances, though Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry” and William Hurt in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” would belie that rule. Maybe the ground has been broken, but I do feel Michael Fassbender’s horrifying villain of a slave owner Master Epps is the greater performance.

You can’t just put on a dress and expect them to give you an Oscar. Just ask Jaye What-his-came from “The Crying Game.”

SAG Awards Nominations ~ Tricky or True?

So FINALLY after months and months of hot & bothered, heated & cool Awards speculation, the Screen Actors Guild Awards announced their 2013 nominations. In film, that’s five categories only, Best Actor, Actress, Supp. Actor & Supporting Actress, and Best Ensemble, which is their euphemism for Best Picture.

Since these are card-carrying actors and actresses voting for their own, and since their membership overlaps(albeit only slightly)with the Academy Voters, this is the first GUILD, and a very important and large one, to announce. And the surprises were few and far between.
Everything went almost by rote. The Best Actresses were The Locked Five everyone and his mother has been saying it would be. Blanchett, Bullock, Dench, Streep and Emma Thompson in “Blue Jasmine”, “Gravity, “Philomena”, “August:Osage County”, and “Saving Mr. Banks” respectively.

SHOCK OF THE MORNING! Robert Redford being left out for “All is Lost”! This is very important. The actors, if anyone, should’ve revered Redford, their suppossed idol, but no, their Idol has feet of clay, it turns out. There is no good way to parse this. Even though he is ASSURED a nomination tomorrow morning, when the Golden Globes announce. This weakens his possibility (even if he DOES got an Oscar nomination) of WINNING an Oscar highly unlikely, if he doesn’t have the SAG voters behind him. He really in effect lost the Oscar this morning with this announcement. I’m not kidding. It’s THAT important. Who SAG leaves out(even more than who they honor) is what is important, esp. this highly contested, congrested year.

The Hollywood Foreign Press(HFPA) however, is a different kettle of fish entirely. These are the 90 or so Foreign “Journalists” who give out the Golden Globes. Star struck to the max, to put it kindly, they will want Redford in that audience.(They announce tomorrow)

But the Screen Actor’s guild clearly doesn’t.

Maybe they just didn’t like that one-man film thing.

But they nominated Sandra Bullock for what is essentially a one-woman film thing, too, in “Gravity.” Which has made millions, whereas “All is Lost” has made nothing.

Zilch.

Another surprise was how poorly “Saving Mr. Banks” did. No Ensemble nomination and no Tom Hanks as Disney in Supporting. Instead in Supporting Actor we find the late James Gandolfini for “Nuff Said” and surprise(!) Daniel Bruhl of the Ron Howard racing film. for playing Hans Landa.

The Supporting Actor nominations were expected for Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender. The first time, let it be noted, that Fascinating Fassbender has been nominated by this august group. And finally, another delightful surprise Barkhad Abdi, the frightening Somali pirate in “Capt. Phillips.”

The fact that both Hanks as Philips himself and Abdi as his scary adversary bodes well for “Capt. Phillips” at the Oscars. The SAGS are notoriously American-centric so the inclusion of the German actor Bruhl and the Somali actor Abdi and the Irishman Fassbender is significant I think.

Supporting Actress was as expected Lupita, Oprah, June Squibb and JLaw and the inclusion of Julia Roberts(For August:Osage County), who knocked out Octavia Spenser, the winner of the Supp. Actress award by the National Board of Review. Confusing isn’t it?

Four nominations were the most and they were for my favorite film of the year “12 Years a Slave” Best Ensemble, Best Actor -Chiwetel Ejiafor, Best Supp. Actor ~ Fassbender, and Best Supp. Actress Lupita Nyong’O.

For a complete list go to http://www.hitfix.com

Oscars, Critics awards get closer

Well, it’s still pretty early but no sooner than next week, both the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review will announce, one day after the other.

I think both these organizations, who are vastly influential, will go for “12 Years a Slave” as Best Picture. Both organizations are here in NYC, natch. And think they are both going to go also for Chiwetal Ejiafor for Best Actor for “Twelve Years a Slave” and Cate Blanchett for Best Actress for Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” Let’s face it, Woody Allen is the essence of New York, so I think they won’t be swayed by the Hollywood Star Power that the Golden Globes represent.

I don’t see any of the Hwood centric films scoring here…No All Is Wet. I mean “All is Lost” for Robert Redford, or the ship-wreck(and train wreck of lawsuits)of “Captain Phillips”. Maybe the National Board of Review will go for Bruce Dern’s space cadet in “Nebraska.” That would be a table for Paramount, and one for Sony Pictures Classics for “Blue Jasmine” and several table for Fox Searchlight.

And they are announcing so early, both groups may not see AT ALL, the late breaking “American Hustle” or the even later breaking “Wolf of Wall Street.” So don’t expect either of those films to show up UNLESS they get seen. The NBR has a Top Ten list that “Hustle” could crack IF it’s all that.

Also expect the overwhelmingly Jewish National Board to give something to “The Book Thief.” Even if it’s just a mention on its’ Top Ten List.

And they always give something to George Clooney so he shows up, which this year the only thing would be “August:Osage County” as a producer.

Think back two years ago when “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” wasn’t seen by either of these groups in time, but did end up snagging one of the Oscar ten slots for Best Picture….

Supporting I also think is going to go “12 Years” way. Although the NBR is famous for spreading its’ wealth(so it can sell as many tables at its’ event as it can) so there may be other films represented by them, that aren’t represented at the New York Film Critics.

So they won’t match exactly, but I think Best Picture will be the same for both groups. They know the world is watching.

Also look for the National Board to include a Weinstein co. actor or actress in its’ largesse. Most likely Oprah Winfrey. For Best Supporting Actress. For “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Michael Fassbender is someone who the NYFCC will honor, but who might the NBR give it to? Is this were the ubiquitous Tom Hanks’ scores this year for Disney, playing Disney, in “Saving Mr. Banks”? Think of all those tables they have to sell.

The NBR has also awards for Best Male and Female Newcomer and expect Lupita Nyong’O to end up there. And perhaps Michael B.Jordan from “Fruitvale Station”? Although he’s not THAT new. But being as this is the Year of Years for African-American performers and films, you just might find Jordan showing up here.

Last year, if anyone remembers, this is where the disgracefully under-rewarded Ann Dowd of “Compliance” got Best Supporting Actress.

But they won’t give Lupita TWO major awards (though she deserves them) so PERHAPS this is where they become the HFPA and give Best Supporting Actress to Oprah! That will sell a lot of tables. And turn them from an also-ran, announcing ONE DAY after the NYFCC, into an EVENT!

Oscars ~ After the NYFF, Where Did Everyone Land?

As the 51st Edition of the New York Film Festival, wound up tonight, where did all the Oscar seekers land? Who was helped? Who was hurt? Well, one thing is still sure. “12 Years a Slave” is STILL the front-runner and the one to beat emerging from this festival, where it also received its’ lion’s share of raves to match its’ tumultuous receptions at Telluride and Toronto. And it opens this coming Friday in theaters and expect the lion (NOT M.G.M.s) to keep on roaring.

“12 Years a Slave” depicts the horrors of slavery more completely and compellingly than any other film on the subject has been able to do. Oscar bound director Steve McQueen said “It is a film about a holocaust.” And it is. The moniker “The Black ‘Schindler’s List’” still aptly describes it, glib though that may be. And remember how many Oscars that dark, frightening, monumental film won!

But other things emerged at the NYFF, but not I think any other film that could topple “12 Years” from its’ front-runner status.

But Chiwetel Ejiafor saw competition to his Best Actor Oscar chances emerge from veterans Robert Redford and Bruce Dern, both 77. For “All Is Lost” and “Nebraska” respectively. Also Tom Hanks as well for “Captain Phillips” which opened the Festival. It’s clear now that ALL FOUR of these men are really seriously vying for the five slots. They may all get in. But so intense was the competition trying to take down Ejiafor (but assuredly not the Picture) that the rival film companies had all THREE of these films competing for red carpet time and media and audience attention by all playing on the same night! Tuesday!

I think that shows that Redford and Dern’s parties are especially scared. But this is particularly surprising in Redford’s case. He got a standing O and cheers galore from the audience at the NYFF, but I sense flop sweat. Ejiafor’s portrait of kidnapped slave Solomon Northrup is going to go down in history and is going  to be hard to beat. But clearly Redford’s crew has thrown down the gauntlet with this Tuesday night manuvering.

Some thought Hanks may not even squeeze into the top five, but Redford evidently is a sure-thing. But will he win?

Some say he’s giving the performance of his career, but if “All Is Lost,” a film with virtually no dialogue, tanks at the box-office that will be a different story. A sparse, intense drama at sea, which is well, exactly what “Captain Phillips” is, too. Uh-oh…

But “Phillips” killed at the box-office this past weekend. It was evidently smart to get it out immediately after its’ NYFF Opening Night stint. Where, like Redford, Hanks got a standing ovation. But who is in the better film?  It’s clearly Ejiafor.

And where does that leave Bruce Dern? Maybe in Supporting, if he’s smart. But I don’t think he’s smart. And the film is in Black and White, another hard sell.

These tiny, little gradations mean MUCH MORE than they’d usually mean in an ULTRA-tight Oscar race. Hanks was rumored to maybe even not get in!

But then again the box-office just spoke up on his behalf. And loudly.

Meanwhile, outside the NYFF, in the real world, “Gravity” was still breaking box office records and was even satirized on SNL on Sat. night. I can’t think of when a MOVIE, an Oscar-seeking movie was on SNL BEFORE the opening titles, this quickly! it’s become a pop cultural event and at barely 90 mins. running time, millions more people can see it and more quickly than any of the other film.

Who came a cropper at the NYFF? Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” which I quite enjoyed, but it’s slot as the prestigious Centerpiece film raised expectations and garnered the genial, funny film lots of negative reviews that its’ Oscar chances certainly didn’t deserve or need. I think it will make a lot of money and  family audiences will to it respond, too. It opens Christmas Day, which sounds perfect.

And “Inside Llewyn Davis” the latest from the much beloved Coen Bros? It seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. So many films. SO little time

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings are “Saving Mr. Banks” about the making of Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” which Jeff Wells of http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com has announced that he’s going to fly over and see its’ London opening,, so he can scoop every one over here. Jeff, who’s been crazy about it, since he read the script, has been a big champion of it sight unseen and it co-stars Emma Thompson(who already has a two Oscars) and oh, him again, Tom Hanks (he’s also got two). Hanks could see himself in Supporting playing Walt Disney, which sounds like an Academy slam dunk, if ever there was one. But it could also diminish his “Captain Williams” shot at lead. Yes. It’s THAT competitive this year. Which is great, because it means that there are a lot of excellent films in the mix.

We shall see. I can’t wait for Jeff’s postings from London! But meanwhile, my (seemingly) endless journey of festivals is done. For the greater moment anyway. And I’ve seen a lot of good films this year. But nothing, NOTHING beats “12 Years a Slave.”

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