a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Stephen Spielberg’

“Take That, Oscar!” Who’s on the front page of the NYPost? BEN AFFLECK!

Yes, it’s the Day After the Golden Globes and everything has quieted down tremendously in Oscarland. And who is on the FRONT PAGE of the NEW YORK POST? A newspaper that it can be said NEVER mentions the word OSCAR in its’ headlines, esp. with more than a month and a half to go? Why it’s BEN AFFLECK!?! Boldly holding his TWO Golden Globes!

He’s the hero of The Hour! He’s so hot, he’s even selling NEWSPAPERS! And suddenly has the heart of Hollywood on his side. For, of all things, being BUMPED out of the Best Director category by an Austrian auteur Michael Haneke and/or millennial first-timer Ben Zeitlin.

I don’t know WHO is going to win Best Director now, but really who cares?

I mean, isn’t it usually Best Actress or Best Picture or Best Actor, or if you’re gay, Best Supporting Actress, that takes the cake in terms of Oscar ink?

But HOLT ON! This year it’s BEST DIRECTOR that is getting all the attention! I mean, article after article about Ben Affleck AND Kathryn Bigelow being snubbed! With Ms. Bigelow, the reasons are all too clear. All the film’s controversial elements have descended upon HER. What’s the result of HER snub?

Kathryn Bigelow’s film “Zero Dark Thirty” is no #1 at the Box-Office. Is this the price of a Best Director snub? It suddenly seems like A BEST DIRECTING SNUB is the smartest Oscar Accessory to have right now.

Best Director was formerly only a category that Oscar wonks could get excited about. Usually, historically, it’s just been a tag-along award in the Public’s Eye, IMHO, because it almost always since I was a child (yes, I prognosticated for my little brother) went hand in hand with Best Picture. Ho-hum.

But I tell ya, “Argo”s got all the Oscar mojo in the world right now. Warner Brothers is re-releasing it and it will clean up all over again. And “Argo” now has THE STORY. The biggest most important, most elusive element in winning the Golden Guy.

Like for instance, Anne Hathaway this year has THE STORY in Supporting Actress. Her mother was the UNDERSTUDY for Fantine on the first National Tour of “Les Miz” You can’t top that. She’s a second generation Fantine. Done.

And now Ben Affleck and “Argo” has THE STORY. Oscar snub-bee par excellence, the voters will rally around this egregious error, and vote for “Argo” all over the place, but especially, for Best Picture, well, just BECAUSE, he was snubbed!!! I’m not kidding! They think like that. Or rather they FEEL like that. Oscar voters notoriously vote with their hearts, not their heads. It’s not an intellectual choice. And everybody loved “Argo” anyway. It was always a consensus choice since it opened at Toronto in Sept.

And they all secretly, or not so secretly, hate directors anyway, and this is their way of getting back at that pesky, idiosyncratic(I’m being kind) Director’s Branch.

The New York Post said it all “TAKE THAT, OSCAR!”

And my idol Liz Smith has said it was going to be “Argo” all the time. And what the director’s branch did was turn AMPAS into an ARMY of JEFF WELLS’. Did I say this already? But it bears repeating.

At http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com Jeff Wells, who has been a memorable guest on my TV show at the Toronto Film Festival, yes, and talking about “Argo”too!

Yes, you can see it here http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow, then search for “Jeff Wells” in the search box…

Jeff Wells has been “Anything BUT ‘Lincoln'” since, it seems forever. He doesn’t bear his grudges lightly, and he HATES Stephen Spielberg.

I don’t think “Lincoln” with its’ 11 nominations is going to win anywhere. It might get totally shut out, a la “The Color Purple”. Sorry if I’m repeating myself, but history does, ya know, repeat itself, too. 11 Nominations for a Spielberg “breakthrough” film and ZEE-ROW wins.

Stephen Spielberg didn’t look too happy last night at the Golden Globes. And this is exactly what happened at the Broadcast Film Critics only just on THURSDAY.
Only Daniel Day-Lewis won. No. I take that back. Tony Kusher won, too, but they gave him Best Screenplay DURING A COMMERCIAL! No that is also saying something. Probably more about what that stupid TV station the BFCA aligned with this year. Talk about lowering the level.

And no, I’m not a member.

What all this BEN-love has done though is push Hugh Jackman off the front-and-center of the Golden Globes coverage. The headlines should be screaming “Les Miserables win the most Golden Globes!” But no, it’s all about Ben winning TWO!

Yes, Ben Affleck has got the Oscar mojo going on. And Spielberg probably alienated all the members of the Academy who voted for “The Blind Side” – well, SOMEbody did! It even got a Best Picture nomination and of course won for the acting-challenged Sandra Bullock. All those members, let’s call them, well, Republicans, did NOT enjoy seeing President Bill Clinton turn up to present the Golden Globe clips of “Lincoln.”

AMPAS voters see that as taking an unfair advantage. ESPECIALLY if they are Republicans and that whole Bill Clinton moment last night reminded me of the George Clooney/Viola Davis Oscar Issue cover of EW last year. Remember THAT?

P.S. neither of them won. It was Jean DuJardin and Meryl Streep.

And “Argo”s win at the Globes last night also reminded Oscar voters that yes, they can kill two birds with one stone and if they vote for “Argo” they get George Clooney up onstage as well as Ben, since he was one of the film’s producers, and they get to FINALLY give Gorgeous George that second Oscar he’s been drooling over for YEARS now, since “Syrianna.” Which since it was Supporting, just wasn’t enough.

The OTHER story that could get rolling is the “David v. Goliath” scenario of “Silver Linings Playbook” v. “Lincoln” or Harvey v. Stephen AGAIN OR “Shakespeare in Love” v. “Saving Private Ryan.”

And you KNOW Harvey Weinstein is gonna get that one going big time.

And whither for that matter was TWC last night? Well their efforts. their magical implied powers yielded them TWO Golden Globes for “Django Unchained” for Quentin Tarantino(screenplay) and Christophe Waltz(Best Supp. Actor) for what a few weeks ago was a leading role. But Waltz was really, really good in that movie and made it watchable and made it all make sense, and spoiler alert! Gets to die violently, too. But he JUST WON an Oscar two years ago, but since it’s Harvey’s only Oscar shot with “Django”s actors, he may just put all his efforts into, except wait!

He’s got TWO other nominees in the category, too, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, for the fading “Master” and for the very lively “Silver Linings Playbook” Robert DeNiro insulted the HFPA two years ago when he got a Lifetime Achievement Award, and so he wasn’t nominated for “SLP” this year, but he IS for the Oscar.

So Harvey ended up with just the situation he didn’t want THREE in a category. It’s almost like “Which one will HARVEY pick?” Hmmmm…

Oscar Chart by David Poland now up @ Movie City News

Yes, David Poland finally put his first, big Oscar chart of the season up at www.moviecitynews.com

And I felt a bit of relaxation to see that David and I were mostly on the same page. He’s got Woody Allen’s masterpiece “Midnight in Paris” in the #1 position for Best Picture. He’s got Michelle Williams for Best Actress for “My Week With Marilyn”. He’s got BOTH Jean DuJardin and Berenice Bejos in the top spots for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress in “The Artist” and he’s got Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor. However not for “Beginners” but for the still unseen “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”

But quixotically, he’s combined Plummer, also with Stellan Skarsgard for “Tattoo”, too. Plummer is playing the smallish, exposition-filled role of Herman Vanger, the old multi-millionaire who hires Mikael Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance and possible murder of the beloved neice Harriet Vanger, 14 years previously. And Skarsgard, who is also a great, great actor, plays his oldest son.

Don’t think any of THIS is going to happen, and Plummer will be awarded for “Beginners” as we’ve known from, well, the beginning of the season. May, actually.

But the others are intriguingly in sync with my P.O.V.

He doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed with Clooney in “The Descendants”. “Nothing new here” he notes.

I love David’s pithy descriptions of each persons chances! And now in Best Supp. Actress, he AND Scott Feinberg have got Berenice Bejos on top, which is really covering the waterfront in terms of two predictors from opposite ends of the Hollywood spectrum. Scott Feinberg is now at The Hollywood Reporter. But his previous web address was www.scottfeinberg.com And he was the first person to link to this humble blog. I think he still is.

I THOUGHT when I first saw “The Artist” in Montreal that Harvey Weinstein would push both Dujardin AND Bejos through for his film that really is perhaps the most lovable winner imaginable this year. Well, nominee, anyway.

Anne Thompson keeps saying at www.indiewire.com that Dujardin can’t speak English well enough to succeed on the pre-awards interview circuit. And Anne never makes this judgements lightly. I wonder if Berenice Bejos speaks it better?

I know one of the reasons that Marion Cotillard who won so famously and deservedly for “La Vie En Rose” (besides her being on my show!) was that she assiduously STUDIED English very hard during the pre-Oscar months, when she literally MOVED to L.A. and camped out there and went to every party imaginable and that dear readers, dear cineastes is what you have to do.

Poland also thinks Ryan Gosling’s chances are as dead as a doornail this year for “Drive” and for “Ides of March” which everyone is now discounting. And I think that’s right, too…

Berenice Bejos really COULD win. The other most talked about lady in waiting in the Supporting Category is Octavia Spenser for “The Help.” And as David points out regarding “The Bridesmaids” Melissa McCarthy that Oscar does not reward you for shitting in a sink, which evidently she does in this movie. That same maxim can be applied to Spenser, who although she doesn’t do it in the sink, she famously does it somewhere else, which I’m not going to spoil here. But let’s just say, you don’t get an Oscar for doing the brazen, outrageous act that makes her character of the outspoken Minny in “The Help” so memorable. I rest my Octavia Spenser case…

And Poland gives no traction whatsoever to Jeff Wells crusade for “Tyrannosaur” which, BTW, he barely mentions it, except in his Comments section where someone does bring Olivia Coleman’s name up. And Poland quickly brings it down.

And I just finally made myself watch the trailer for “War Horse”. Yes, no one seen it, but EVERYONE has seen the play and the trailer nearly made me cry. My heart just went out to that poor horse! And it’s a gorgeous horse, too! It’s acting its’ heart out. No really. It has Oscar Winner written all over that one.

And a strong supporting cast of un-Oscar-ed British actors, including the great Emily Watson in the pivotal role of the mother. And also Tom Hiddleston, a guest on my TV show, as the noble British captain who buys The Horse. You can see me interview Tom about this in a rather splendid chat we had at TIFF’11 that is now up on my channel at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow He talks about “War Horse” in Pt.2.

Only problem I see on the horizon for “War Horse” is that it may be too sentimental, but y’know, that’s never stopped any one from winning an Oscar!

I see “Midnight in Paris” for the SIXTH time!!!

I can’t help myself! I can’t believe it! I never see movies more than once, usually, but SIX times! This amounts to an obsession. But a lovely one.

“Midnight in Paris” is so entrancing, so enthralling I keep going back to see it again and again and again. And again and again and again.

Why am I doing this???

As I bought my ticket yet again(also something I NEVER do, being a film critic, if I don’t see it at a press screening, I usually don’t catch up with it til it’s on DVD) and I was a little late, and I told the woman that that was Ok, because I’d already seen the movie five times. And she said “Is it THAT good?” Absolutely astonished.

Yes, it’s THAT good.

It’s also just not me who’s seeing it in this monumental terms. People all over the world and flocking, making it on track to be Woody Allen’s greatest grossing movie of all time, but also, perhaps, too, SONY PICTURES CLASSICS greatest grossing movie of all time.

And the Academy is certainly going to take notice of this, as I’ve said before.

Could it win Best Picture for Woody? Who hasn’t had a Best Picture win since “Annie Hall” way back in the deep, dark ’70s….

Could the Woodman score again?

With these numbers(and yes, I admit to driving them up, but if I’m going back to see it again and again, others must be, too) With this immense popularity(it’s playing in theaters a Woody Allen film has never played in. EVAH!) Oscar can’t really ignore it.

But more pertinently, what may it be up against in the final show down in November/December?

There’s Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming movie version of the Tony winning Best Play “War Horse” and there’s also David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish movie, a classic to some(me included) “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

I think Woody’s feel good “Midnight” might actually beat these two, if it keeps going the way it’s going. And yes, it is STILL going.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was the other top grosser that Sony Pictures Classics has that “Midnight in Paris” has to unseat and it looks like it’s going to.

CTHD got nominated for Best Picture, too, that year, but didn’t win.

Frankly, it’s charms eluded me. I’m not that into Kung Fu, or whatever it was they were doing in that movie.

Though I liked the first Kung Fu Panda.

But “Midnight in Paris” is a delightful film. Delight. A very, very rare commodity these days. And charming. And well, even exceptionally acted.

Sony Pictures is going to do an Oscar campaign for leading actor Owen Wilson, and he just may score a nomination. Yes,even for a comedy. He shows Cary Grant-like chops in this movie. Sublime comic timing, and a character every one in the West Coast dominated Academy can relate to, a surfer dude-like sell-out.

Leading men who can carry a spritely comedy like this and pull it off so delightfully(there’s that word again) are rare, rare, rare in H’wood these days.

He’s made many,many movies. Has a multi-billion dollar franchise at Number One right now. “Cars Two” (and no, I’m not rushing to see it). So he’s everywhere this year.

But back to repeat showings. Rachel MacAdams’ family and she herself become more and more genuinely loathsome upon repeat viewings. And Marion Cotillard grows in beauty each time.

At one point, I think it’s the great Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, who says in one of the pivotal scenes in the film, “She has one of the great faces” and she does.

Bates’ Stein is berating Picasso, who has painted a ridiculous abstract portrait of Adriana, Marion’s character, and says he has not grasped the essence of her beauty. She says in French that it is “plus subtle” and Picasso has made her look like “a whore in the Place Pigalle.”

Seeing “Midnight in Paris” so many times means it becomes like seeing an old friend. It’s comforting. It makes you happy, as good friends ought to do. And also a continued inspiration.

I just love it to pieces and I bet the Academy is going to, too.

“The Fighter” An Oscar Knock-Out!+ Other Awards News

I have to say, having just returned from an Academy-ish screening(it was mixed with guilds and obviously, actual press, too. I mean,was there!) and yes, it’s got Oscar nomination chances galore!

The audience at this screening seemed to love it, as I was tipped that the Academy would and they audibly did. That was born out by all the laughs and gasps and cheers throughout, though there was no final applause at the end. Every one left with smiles on their faces. ALWAYS a good sign for Oscar!

Mark Wahlberg’s passion project of many years has come to ripe fruition with him wisely surrounding himself with the some of the Best Actors in the business, like Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, all of whom I think are assured Oscar nominations in Supporting for this.

So it’s a holiday feast of blue-collar, but blue-ribbon actors all trying to out-do each other in what is a veritable Oscar smack-down and SUCCEEDING mightily. Each landing punch after thespic (acting) punch in this knock-out of a movie!

Although this is a boxing saga, it’s really more of a family drama, being played out against a boxing background. This Lowell Massachusetts hard-scrabble setting, replete with Boston accents, gives Leo, Adams and especially Bale, career-capping chances to really go to town in an award-winning, Oscar-baity way. Are they chewing the scenery for Thanksgiving? Gobble Gobble. Well, Leo and Bale are anyway…but the Academy LOVES these showy turns.

Wahlberg OTOH plays it down, very understated, almost dour and lets the wildness of the colorful characters around him shine. And shine, they do!

Bale is unfogettable as his crack-headed brother who is also his f**ked up trainer. Leo is  their horrible Mother-From-Hell  who is also his money-grubbing manager, and Adams gets to play against them as the good girl who he hooks up with, and who has to stand up to his insane family AND SHE DOES! You are totally rooting for her to take down the dastardly, deadly duo of Mom Leo and Brother Bale. This movie is one juicy fight scene from beginning to end! Whether it’s in the ring, or in the living room, or on the front porch, EVERY one is fighting!

As Wahlberg is also the producer here (and Bob and Harvey Weinstein are also listed as producers, too(!) with Paramount the main distributor) he’s going to get nominated for  getting this made & helming this irresistible (to the Academy and I think to audiences, too) combo of heart, guts and BOXING.

Boxing films have traditionally been catnip to the Academy and this one, though the formulaic trailers have been misleading-by-a-mile, “The Fighter” will be no exception. So in a field of ten possible nominees for Best Picture, I say the “The Fighter” is going to score one of those ten best slots.

With Wahlberg so monotone himself, I don’t think he’s got a chance at an Acting nomination. But as a producer of “The Fighter”, yes!

It’s going to be a Golden Glove( and Golden Globe) bout between Geoffrey Rush for “The King’s Speech,” and Bale for this in Supporting Actor  and THAT match-up is going to cause all the major Oscar attention for this film.  And those two performances are so different and also so  juicy, well, it’s a delicious prospect!

And Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are BOTH so good that they are BOTH going to be nominated most likely. Canceling each other out, and leaving the win to Helena Bonham-Carter for “The King’s Speech.” 

When two actresses from the same film get nominated in Supporting it’s historically someone else, who wins. The last time I remember this happening was in 2001 for “Gosford Park” when it was both Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Maggie Smith going head-to-head in Supporting…and somebody else won. Jennifer Connelly in a year that there was “A Beautiful Mind” sweep.

Bale v. Geoffrey Rush, who is brilliant, but already HAS an Oscar would be literally duking it out til the last minute in Supporting. Rush, as the hilarious, genial ,but tough speech therapist Lionel Logue, who is the Australian Henry Higgins teaching Colin Firth(the King) how to speak, is going to be a Battle Royal(pardon the pun) with Bale’s junkie, who, though everyone forgets it, as also a Brit. Yes, he is. He really is. Remember him as the kid in Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun”? Yes, that was little Christian. A child actor who has endured and ended up as “The Dark Knight.” Yes, that was him, the last time in the hood and cape. But all people remember from that film is the astounding Joker of the late Heath Ledger. R.I.P. Heath.

Bale, however, ALMOST overdoes it in the OTT category,but how can you play a character who is always tweaking, and not seem OTT, as well as ADD? Bale has lost a ton of weight for the part and as a  junkie who jumps out of windows to escape his harridan, chain-smoking mother (Leo), I do think he’s in contention.

It’s just that how much do they like Christian Bale? I mean, really? With that Internet rant to that poor stage hand being something that still lurks in people’s mind when they think of him? They may just make him wait, and give Rush a second Oscar for what is clearly the performance of the year.

But Bale’s never been nominated before and Rush has won before.  Me, I’d vote for Rush…but…it’s gonna be a fight to the photo finish at the Kodak between the two of them.

It’s also just a question of HOW many Oscars are they going to give to “The King’s Speech”? Colin Frith and Helena Bonham-Carter are both way out in front in Best Actor and now, Best Supporting Actress, too. Is “The King’s Speech” going to sweep?

I heard people discussing how there was one movie where there were lines around the block about ten days ago.  It was for a SAG screening and that was for “The King’s Speech.” “The Fighter” was well attended, but not full, by any means. And no applause at the end, though a consistently involved chorus of laughs and gasps, means they were involved. But  not as enthralled as “The King’s Speech” audiences are.

Bale has the best Oscar shot of the bunch of them. He gets to OD, and then go cold turkey in a jail cell! Now that’s what I call a PART! So Christian Bale will finally get his first Oscar nomination…

But will he win?

And in terms of other films…I heard when the New York Film Critics get together to vote soon, very soon. (“True Grit” FINALLY starts screening next week for all and sundry) that at the moment it’s still going to be a pitched battle between “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” So, what else is new? That’s the way it’s been since Toronto!

Except that today, “The King’s Speech” just got 100% from the Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes! How can ANYone argue with those stats? Especially the Academy!

Harvey Weinstein must be having a very happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Coupled with women, who are just flat out refusing to see “127 Hours” because of the gore, and the arm-thing…

People, again it was women I was talking to, are not digging “Black Swan.” ‘It ruins ‘Swan Lake'” one balletomane told me. But ballet lovers are going to be in the minority of AMPAS.

But then, of course, WOMEN are not the majority of the AMPAS voters. The SWORM are. Single White Old Rich Men…

And EVERYbody is digging Michael Douglas’ performance in “Solitary Man.”

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