a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Stephen Holt Show’

Impact of Election on Oscar Race

fences-6I was just about to write a rave review of the wonderful, important revival of “March of the Falsettos” and then The Election happened and turned the world, and my brain and everyone else’s upside down.

I tried to write about it but I couldn’t. I was in such deep shock. Like when you have a serious fall, as I did recently, and it wasn’t until hours later, or was it a day later, that the real pain kicked in, and I was reminded I had fallen backwards onto a fire-hydrant. It took four or five really strong women(In town for the marathon, I’m guessing) to pull me back up and set me on my feet.

Yes, my reaction to The Election was just as severe as that, as disappointed for anyone who voted for Hillary. I can’t believe it happened. I’m still processing it. And so is the country. It’s something that I can’t snap out of but just being depressed and angry isn’t constructive. Hillary Clinton had nothing but a positive message. Maybe there is something good inside Donald Trump. Well, first of all, he’s a native New Yorker. As I am. And that counts for something.

After coming out of a Whole Foods on Union Square, I ran into hundreds of protesting young people. I got on a bus. It took quite awhile for the big New York City Bus to get through the noisy crowd of protesters. They made me smile though. I knew what they were feeling. I had done this, too, in my youth. Protesting the Viet Nam War. Civil Rights. Free Nelson Mandella. Gay Rights. Aids. There’s been a lot to protest, always peacefully. Make your voice heard.I was happy to see them there.LGBY handsThis made me think of what a terrible day it was when Ronald Reagan got elected. I thought it was it the end of the world. It wasn’t. The same way when Bush after Bush after Bush entered the White House. Until Bill Clinton. Until Barack Obama.

I’ve been thinking of the night when “Brokeback Mountain” lost the Oscar to “Crash.” Sasha Stone and I were both disconsolate that night and so was everyone else on Oscarwatch. We thought we’d never get through it. I was never going to watch the Oscars again. But I did. We got through it because we were together.

Sasha did everything she could think of to help Hillary. I’m still shocked, and sickened, but she’s probably more shocked and more sick. She and Assistant Editor Ryan both added Rodham as their middle names.

But, as with “Brokeback”, she went back to work and felt back. I did, too. Over the years I’m happy to report that I developed a friendly relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway and Michelle s and Williams and now Ang Lee, who did win his first Oscar for “Brokeback” by the way. I loved his new “Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk.”

But all those disappointments and depressions and shocks were way worse than this. Maybe as much as I loved Hillary, and I still do, I just knew, I just KNEW that America was never going to elect a woman to the Oval Office.

And now this happened. Donald Trump may not have meant a lot of what he said. Was it Melania or Ivanka who said he was “saying all those things just to get elected”?

Melania Trump and Michele sitting down to have  tea, to chat and tour the White House. File it under a list of Things I Never Would Have Thought Ever To Have Happened.

And now the Oscar Race, how is this going to land with the very left wing Academy? I think this says goodbye to anything light and fluffy like “La La Land” and hello to something that can’t be denied like “Fences” or the very political “Jackie.”

viola-davis-fences-1jackie-1fences-3Gay Pride 2016 2

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“Bright Star” Shines on Bway w/terrific debut by Carmen Cusack

Bright Star 5Carmen Cusack 1A  tuneful, ORGINAL new musical is a very rare thing these days on Broadway, but “Bright Star” is just that.  It is really a cause for jubilation. And comedian Steve Martin, of all people, is the power generator behind this welcome bluegrass musical marvel. Edie Brickell, a pop star singer/songwriter who was previously unknown to me, is his musical partner in crime here, and what a delight-filled evening of song they make!

I’ve always felt that a successful musical comedy should just be one wonderful song after the other after the other, and one so rarely sees that anymore on Broadway, but “Bright Star” is just that. The first four numbers alone are so strong and singable “If You Knew My Story”, “She’s Gone”, “Bright Star” and “Back in the Day”are each so startling, memorable and different, I immediately wanted to rush out and buy the CD. Except since “Bright Star” just opened this past week, they don’t have one yet. But they sure as will soon, and I’ll let you know when that delightful event happens.

Other songs, too, including second act showstoppers, “Always Will” and “At Last” are also immediate standards-to-be I’m so sure.

Bright Star 1

And “Bright Star”s ace-in-the-hole is the astonishing Carmen Cusack, who sings nearly all these great songs with a country twang that verges on the operatic. She plays the dauntless heroine Alice Murphy, who, except for her rather trite name, is doubtless also going to be known as one of the greatest roles for an actress in musical comedy history.

Cusack has the daunting task of slipping backwards and forwards in time as her character ages back and forth between a hard-bitten literary editor and a plucky teenage un-wed mother with big dreams in a stultifying North Carolina town. It is put upon Cusack to take us through all these time shifts from 1945-1946 to 22 years earlier, and she does it so effortlessly, and so charmingly that she just made me gasp.

Yes, Carmen Cusack is doing the impossible embodying all these moods and ages that she for sure is now launched into the rarefied Broadway stratosphere as one of its’ most important, as well as newest, diva-cum-star. Who did she remind me most of? A cross between Reba McIntire and Maria Callas. Her roof-raising voice is as rangy as any Puccini heroine.

She is ably abetted in her time-travelling tropes by leading men, Paul Alexander Nolan and also A.J. Shively, who plays a WWII vet with literary aspirations who gets to sing the wonderful, toe-tapping title song “Bright Star.”

Bright Star 3

Broadway vet Michael Mulheren gets to shine, too, finally after a life-time of thankless supporting roles, as the dastardly mayor. Dee Hoty is wasted as our heroine’s weak mother.  Hannah Alless strikes the show’s one false note as its’ stereo-typed ingenue. Underwritten compared to the other female roles, what could anyone do with a part like that that is pure treacle?

Emily Padgett of “Side Show” fares much better as the tart comic relief and Jeff Blumenkrantz is her zesty, funny counterpart, the pair not missing one comic beat. Which one is more deliciously campy, it’s hard to say. They both play imperious editorial employees of the mature Cusack’s magazine.

And the uncanny scenic design by Eugene Lee consists of a house-full of bluegrass musicians, who move in the Southern Gothic A-frame that contains them, back and forth across the stage at a dizzying pace, under the Scene Design Supervision of Edward Pierce that is as lively a choreographic move as the more subdued, but fun ones created by Josh Roberts.

All this is under the redoubtable direction of Walter Bobbie and “Bright Star” hums and purrs and jingle-jangles its’ gentle way into our cynical New York hearts and may indeed have found a permanent place there at the Cort Theater on W.48th Street for a long, long time.Bright Star 2

 

It’s Moments Like This….

Alicia & Oscar 1

It’s moments like these that make it all worth it…

Above, Alicia Vikander who just won Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” Not necessarily a sure bet. And below the COMPLETELY unexpected win by most, (but not me, I PREDICTED it!) Mark Rylance winning Best Supporting Actor for “Bridge of Spies.” And then “Spotlight” winning Best Picture! Sublime justice!

Mark Rylance & Oscar 1

Indie Spirit Film Award Winners!

Mya Taylor 1The Independent Spirit Awards held yesterday in Santa Monica really broke ground, as well they should, and gave three of its’ four acting awards to Black actors, including pictured above^ transgender actress Mya Taylor for the shot on an iPhone “Tangerine.”

I just saw a very interesting snippet of a segment on the George Stephanopolus Sunday morning show, this week. The speaker said(I missed his name)  “If the Academy had a write-in campaign, Idris Elba would win Best Supporting Actor.” As he just did again last night at the Indie Spirits, as did the adorable child actor Abraham Attah, who won Best Actor for “Beasts of No Nation.”

Attah was a street beggar when he was found in Africa by director Gary Fukanaga. So yes, Elba, Attah and Taylor all won last night in what was surely a protest against #Oscarssowhite that has been blasting the Academy this year.

But back to ABC News, the commentator continued when prompted by Stephanopolus, “Do you think there will be any surprises this year?” and the reporter commented, “There might be something in Supporting Actor.” As I have been predicting. IOW NOT Sylvester Stallone!

If you check back one blog posting here, I predicted this just yesterday!

The ABC News guy didn’t even MENTION Best Actress which last night went to Brie Larson at the Indies. She’s won everything else.

And finally “Carol” won something! The great cinematographer Ed Lachman, who has great difficulty walking, even using a cane, won Best Cinematography was his beautiful work on “Carol.” Using only 16 mm. film, to give it that gauzy 1950’s feel.

And here’s Ed Lachman on my show two years ago at the Provinctown Film Festival

Stay tuned to this blog, because I’ll be live-blogging the Oscars tonight! It’s almost like being there!

BAFTA Backlash ~ Alicia Vikander v.Kate Winslet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on the Preferential Ballot, shortly.

Alicia 8

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Makes DGA History by Winning 2-in-a-Row

Alejandro 1In a surprise win Saturday night, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made history at the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) when he won Best Director for “The Revenant” after winning LAST year for “Birdman.” You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. I really did think it was  going to be just about any one else. But I think the #OscarSoWhite controversy was very much on the DGA’s mind. And Inarritu IS Mexican and considered Hispanic, so his award speaks to Hollywood-ers wanting to right that perception. This may mean he’s going to win at the Oscars now, too.

And he broke into tears and gave a very moving speech about Mexicans in America and Donald Trump. Including the all Mexican kitchen staff that was “Making you sandwiches tonight.” I’m sure at the DGA’s grand banquet, they were dining on more than sandwiches.

But it is important to note Inarritu’s  historic achievement. He broke records and stats. And I only wish his two-and-a-half hour schlog of a film “The Revenant” were that short and that pointed and that moving.

Besides making film and racial history, what else did this win mean? Well, it’s knocked “Mad Max:Fury Road” out of any serious consideration for Best Picture or Best Director. Many were predicting 70-something Australian George Miller winning, but alas that was not to be.

Pete Hammond kind of tipped everyone off when he mentioned to Tom O’Neil that Inarritu was NOT going to be introducing the award as the previous winner historically does. He told Tom on one of the excellent podcasts on Gold Derby just this past week about Inarritu not making that announcement. “He can’t say, ‘The Winner Is Me!'” Hammond noted. Though evidently Irving Berlin did just that one Oscar year back in the day.Alejandro & Leo 1

This pushes “The Revenant” forward just at the time the Oscar voters are FINALLY getting their ballots towards the end of the week.
Leo will win and now it looks like it’s going to be Inarritu is going to win, too. Will the wealth spread to other of the eleven nominations? It just might. And it might sweep in Tom Hardy, too, in Supporting Actor.Tom Hardy 1

The one really touching, true moment was Hardy talking about his being scalped alive during an Indian attack, and SURVIVING! Since “The Revenant” is facing off against “Mad Max” in many, if not all, of the below-the-line categories, the win may cause a “Revenant” sweep.

But what of Best Picture? I don’t think THAT’s going to “The Revenant” too.”Spotlight” and “The Big Short” the “serious” smaller films, with less nominations. but mucho gravitas will score I’m betting. I think “Spotlight” which is being screened at the Vatican this week is the one who will win. It could get Best Original Screenplay, too, and that’s where Tom McCarthy will score. And THEIR Supporting Actor, if that’s the case, twice-nominated Mark Ruffalo could get swept in, too. PLEASE!

Anybody! But “Mumbles” Stallone!

Live-Blogging SAG(Screen Actors Guild) Awards tonite.

SAG 1The Screen Actors Guild Awards are tonight, and I’m going to be live-blogging them, dear readers, dear cineastes.  In NYC, they are on the TBS or TNT channels at 8pm EST. Check your local listings.

There should be MANY surprises tonight. We’ll see if the #Oscarssowhite controversy is going to impact the awards.

Black British Actor Idris Elba is the man of the hour tonight. He’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor on the film side for “Beasts of No Nation.” And on the TV side he’s nominated for “Luther”. He’s against Mark Rylance in both categories and I feel he is going to take home at least ONE “actor” as they call their awards. If “Beasts of No Nation” wins Best Ensemble, then Elba might be taking home three!

Mark Rylance 1
Rylance, a stage legend in Britain and multiple Tony winner on Broadway, is his main competition tonight for “Bridge of Spies” for Best Supporting Actor Film, and for “Wolf Hall” TV series.

Unfortunately, Elba was NOT nominated for an Oscar. (He’s a magnificent actor. He should have been.) None of this awful Oscarssowhite scandal would’ve happened if he had been nomminated. It’s rumored that he may be the first Black James Bond.

Here’s an interview I did with Idris a few years back at the Toronto Film Festival.

As for Best Picture Film, it’s back and forth and forth and back between “Spotlight” and late riser “The Big Short.” Which is what it was like last year with “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” Up til the last second. And then “Birdman” won by a beak at the Oscars. I still can’t believe that happened.

Me? I’d vote for “Spotlight” if I was a voting member of SAG. But I’m not, so we’ll see. Unlike the Academy, SAG voters DO have a sense of humor. So “The Big Short”s cutting edge wit would not be held against it tonight. We’ll see.

And if Leonardo wins Best Actor here tonight, he’ll win the Oscar, too. Ditto Brie Larson.

But if it’s Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo” LOOK OUT! All bets are off. And Leo could kiss his Oscar good-bye. At least for “The Revenant”Revenant 3

And I think Alicia Vikander will triumph here in Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl.”Alicia 6

 

 

 

 

 

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