a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Shame’

“Steve Jobs” is a Mess, Except for Kate Winslet, Who Will Get Its’ Sole Oscar Nomination

Kate Winselt Stave J. 1Ok. So I finally did it. I went to see “Steve Jobs,” a film I have been resisting since TIFF. And I have to say, that except for Kate Winslet’s surprising, dowdy turn as  Jobs’ dogged, dedicated,  Slavic Gal Friday, I really pretty much hated it. It was the mess I thought it would be, and if it hadn’t been for Winslet, I would’ve walked out.

How many times in the first third of this epic landslide of verbiage did I fall asleep? At least, three, and I woke up only to find them STILL TALKING!!! And they talk and they talk and they walk and they walk. I thought I was watching a re-run of “West Wing.” This was so flat, and so dull, and so confusing, it made me nostalgic for “The Joy of Typing.” (Look it up) I never thought I would type this sentence, but I missed David Fincher.

At least, HE made a film about the Internet look interesting. This is just flat, flat, flat. And poor Kate Winslet has to hold the whole film together, by running on every five minutes and saying “We’ve got FIVE MINUTES!”

You see, her boss Steve Jobs is always running late, and it’s her job as his right arm to keep things moving and Brave Kate does so, and nearly saves this cod-fish of a movie.

It’s everything I thought it would be. And less.

And poor Michael Fassbender is just mis-cast in this career-ending role. I predict he will NOT get a Best Actor nomination for playing this majorly unsympathetic asshole geek.Nor will this film break into the Best Picture race. Aaron Snoreking, I mean Sorkin, has given Fassbender REAMS of dialogue, or should I say monologue? to just endlessly spout in a monotone so deadly, I couldn’t believe it was the same actor I’ve esteemed so much in so many other movies.Like “12 Years a Slave,” “Shame,””Hunger” and many, many others.

You can’t make an interesting movie about the Internet! It’s impossible.

And as far as the Academy is concerned, they hate the internet, and resist it in every form it takes as an intrusion and distortion of their lives. Some the Voting Members don’t even HAVE a computer, but are too embarrassed to admit it.

And the first third of the movie, when Steve Jobs was young, well, young-ish, is so convoluted and abstruse, that I can’t imagine the AMPAS-ers watching much more than fifteen minutes of it, if that.

That’s unfortunate, because it does get better, a little. And Kate W. does get her big Oscar-y breakdown scene, but it’s past the half-way mark, when she finally tells Steve Jobs what she really thinks of him. Winslet loses it in grand style, and who doesn’t like a scene where the secretary FINALLY tells her boss to go to jump in a lake.(I’m understating it.)

This “Steve Jobs”  is flopping majorly at the box-office and being yanked off screens right, left and center. There was ALREADY ANOTHER Steve Jobs movie called just “Jobs” starring Ashton Kucher, and that bombed, too.

Who was the genius who thought that two bombs are better than one?

But Kate is great as she always is. And she’ll be the token nomination that this mistake of a film gets.

Why did I pay to see it when I knew going in it might be as bad as it was(I was warned), well, I’m an Oscarologist and like it or not this film has been talked and talked and bandied about as an Oscar contender. It’s been part of the Oscar conversation since TIFF. But the talk stops right here.

 

 

Michael Fassbender’s Non-Campaign for Oscar for “12 Years A Slave”

Michael Fassbender’s declaration in the current GQ mag that he’s not going to campaign for an Oscar for his Supporting Role(really a lead) In the monumental “12 Years A Slave” is just a tiny bit disingenuous to me for voila! There  he is on the cover! Looking great, I might add, and very much a winner already.

At Toronto, he seemed to me to be cramming every minute with press time. I sat through a press conference with him and the director Steve McQueen and the rest of the brilliant cast. And he was of course, fascinating. http://www.FascinatingFassbender.com is a website that is worth checking for all things up to the minute on Fassbender.

But at that press conference, he talked openly and freely and feeling about the character of the slave-owner Epps that he embodies so magnificently and so frighteningly in “12 Years a Slave.”

“I don’t see him as evil or a villain. I see him as a person. A businessman who is protecting his property.” I wasn’t taking exact notes, but it was words to that effect that sort of stunned people there when he said it. Because he seems to be the absolute embodiment of evil.

But an actor, a really good actor, and Fascinating Fassbender is a brilliant actor, ALWAYS has to humanize a character for himself and see the world through that character’s eyes, as he has so memorably done.

He was on Charlie Rose, too, with Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiafor(I think you can watch that on You Tube on http://www.youtube.com/CharlieRoseShow.) So he did A LOT of publicity, and he did it early and now has gone off to New Zealand to film “Macbeth” and HE’s playing yes, Macbeth.

He did a lot of press already and now he feels he’s done enough. After “Shame” everybody in Hollywood now knows who he is, and then when he didn’t even get nominated(I knew he wouldn’t. And said so. All that nudity and urinating on camera! i mean, it was riveting, but the SWORM, the Straight White Old Rich Men, who form the bulk of the Academy were shocked.) And he was devastated when he didn’t get nominated, and now in GQ he says he wants no part of the process, which he found humiliating and this time is going to sit out Phase I of the Oscar season, which is now upon us.

October, November and early December is when you build buzz and the Oscar campaign machinery begins to shift into full gear. Then the nominating ballots are sent out around the holidays and the nominations themselves are announced in January, which is the start of Phase II.

But after the nominations come out in January and he starts winning awards(how can he not? I mean, they ALWAYS award the white guy, even a villain, in a black movie, like they did just last year for “Django Unchained”s Christophe Waltz) and he’ll come back to pick up his trophies the same time Mo’nique did in Phase II.

And this year the Oscars aren’t being handed out til MARCH! Because of the Olympics, so it’s a super-long Phase II.

Like The Terminator, he’ll be back.

I predict these things.

At NYFF, ” 12 Years a Slave”s Magnificent Achievement Dwarfs All Others

“12 Years a Slave” I’ve never really seen anything like it. I feel it is one of the greatest films of all time, Simply one of the greatest films ever made and yes, I saw it first at TIFF, where it leveled all comers, and now over a month later at the NYFF, the impact is the same. Nothing has changed. It’s a month later and really there’s nothing going to stop it.

It won the Audience Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and this is just the first step in the many, many awards that are going to come its’ way. It’s seriousness makes “Django Unchained” look like a joke. And yes, it did win two Oscars. Both for the two white men who were nominated. Quentin Tarentino who got his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Christophe Waltz, who stunned all Oscarologists (EXCEPT Tom O’Neil at www.goldderby.com) who didn’t predict it. Waltz won of course for Best Supporting Actor.

This year it will be very, very different at the Oscars I predict. But if we look at the precedent being “Django” as the only other film in recent years to have Slavery as its’ main subject , the white guy in Supporting, this time Michael Fassbender, might just get lucky and win just as Waltz did. He’s playing the evil slave owner Epps, who prides himself in “breaking” troublesome slaves. Being sold to the Eps plantation is akin to being sent to Hell.

And Fassbender, who’s star has been on the rise for years now, mainly due to his other two collaborations with British director Steve McQueen, the harrowing “Hunger” where he lost something like 40 pounds as a Irish hunger striker, based on a true story and yes, also as the lead in “Shame” playing a slightly lighter topic as a sex addict, who is naked for sooo many of the scenes in that film. Also, he’s in “X-Men:First Class” and so he’s well situated to FINALLY be nominated for “12 Years a Slave” and he may win.

The film is certainly going to win Best Picture. Despite “Gravity”s overwhelming box-office achievement this weekend, I don’t think the Academy is ready to embrace 3-D, even yet. And since so many voting members watch the nominated films on screeners or DVD copies of the nominated movies, at home on their television sets, 3-D and certainly IMAX is going to look like not much of anything, compared with the gargantuan thrill it provides on the biggest of Big Screens. It should pass $100 million domestic at the box-office in the next week or two. At most.

But all this is to say that “12 Years a Slave” is going to look just fine on DVD. It’s a film of intense close-ups, and unflinching brutality. And of course, it takes a British director to finally tell the truth of this utterly American horror story that was slavery in the pre-Civil War South. McQueen could become the first Black director to win an Oscar. I think if they give it to the film they are going to give it to him, too.

And also his leading man,  the extraordinary British actor, Chiwetel Ejiafor, who as the freeman kidnapped and sold into slavery, is called upon to do things that no actor in the history of film has ever been asked to do before. He’s breathtaking! The levels of pain AND strength, the inner resources and resilience of spirit he brings to Solomon Northrup are astounding. And his and director McQueen’s intelligence inform every shot. It’s staggering in its’ immensity. But it’s all done utterly realistically and  with total naturalism.

The unimaginable atrocities that are depicted here are ALL TRUE.

And last but not least, we have to praise the Oscar chances, and the rise from complete obscurity of its’ ingénue star, Lupita N’yong’o, the young African-American actress, who plays Patsie, the beautiful slave who endures the most unmentionable cruelty, sexual and otherwise by Fassbender’s evil Epps. She will be nominated for Best Supporting Actress for sure, and will give Oprah Winfrey a run for her money in that category.

It’s overwhelmed all comers I feel at the New York Film Festival, just as it did previously at Telluride and Toronto. You see, nothing much has changed since audiences saw it in September. And oh yes, I have seen something like it before! It was also in the capable hands of Fox Searchlight and the name of the film was “Slumdog Millionaire” which debuted and wowed at Toronto and went on to wow the world and win every prize in sight, including the Oscar. It’s one of those kind of years. The word is unstoppable.

“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.

Unknown film wins big at Toronto. “Where Do We Go Now?” Yeah, really.

A first in my time. An unknown film from Lebanon that I had never heard of nor even heard  discussed won the big People’s Choice Award at Toronto “Where Do We Go Now” I had to google it to find out what it was.

Second place and third place also obscure films “A Separation” and “Starbuck”.

So what does this mean?

I think it perfectly elucidates what I was feeling at TIFF. There’s was no clear winner. No clear favorite. No groundswell. No one film to win it all.

I thought this would happen around “The Artist.” But it didn’t and is reflected in the awards. Ditto “The Descendants” or “The Ides of March” or “Moneyball” or “Shame” or “A Serious Method” – all which people thought would be THE ONE. But were THE WASN’Ts

What does this mean in terms of Oscar? I think it means that all the TIFF films have a LOT of work to do to get that little golden guy. AND that the final ultimate winner hasn’t even opened yet. Upcoming films now all are in better positions. “War Horse”, the Tom Hanks/Stephen Daldry 9/11 movie with Sandra Bullock, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” with the never-been-nominated Gary Oldman, Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult” which deliberately skipped the festival(s) OR it will be a movie that HAS opened already and is out there for all to see. “Midnight in Paris” (I saw it eight times) and even “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2” gain by this, I think.

It’s almost like we can take all the Toronto titles out of serious contention. Nominations, sure, but the ultimate WIN?

I think this helps Woody and Harry P. A LOT.

TIFF ’11 Lists, Best, Worst, Couldn’t Get In To See, etc.

So, in short form,(I hope) some TIFF lists ~

Best Film – Machine Gun Preacher

Runner-Up- The Artist, Drive, The Skin I Live In, Coriolanus

Best Actor – Gerard Butler in “Machine Gun Preacher”

Runner-ups- Ryan Gosling “Drive,” Ralph Fiennes in “Coriolanus”, Jean Dujardin “The Artist”

Best Actress – Elena Anaya “The Skin I Live In” (Pedro Almodovar’s hot new film)

Runner-Up- Tilda Swinton “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,; Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”

Best Supporting Actor- Gerard Butler “Coriolanus”

Runner-Up – Tom Hiddleston & Simon Russell Beale in “Deep Blue Sea”, that adorable  little dog in “The Artist”

Best Supporting Actress- Vanessa Redgrave “Coriolanus”

Runner-Ups – Marisa Peredes in “The Skin I Live In”, Tammy Blanchard in “Union Square,” Berenice Bejos “The Artist”

Worst TIFF “Rendition”-like Bomb (It died in one TIFF screening) – “A Dangerous Method”

Films I Tried to See, But Couldn’t – “Shame”, “Descendants”, “Albert Nobbs”

Hoping to See Soon – “The Ides of March”

Couldn’t Care Less About Seeing – “Moneyball”

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